M. ——, a merchant, at the head of one of the first commercial houses in Paris, had occasion to visit the manufactories established in the mountainous tracts of the Departments of the Loire and the Puy de Dome. The road that conducted him back to Lyons traversed a country rich in natural productions, and glowing with all the charms of an advanced and promising spring. The nearer view was unusually diversified; not only by the fantastic forms of mountains, the uncertain course of small and tributary streams, and the varying hues of fields of pasture, corn, vines, and vegetables, but by the combinations and contrasts of nature and of art, and the occupations of rural and commercial industry. Factories and furnaces were seen rising amidst barns and sheep-cotes, peasants were digging, and ploughs gliding amidst forges and foundries; verdant slopes and graceful clumps of trees were scattered amidst the black and ugly mouths of exhausted coal-pits; and the gentle murmur of the stream was subdued by the loud rattle of the loom. Sometimes M. —— and his friend halted amidst all that is delightful and soothing; and after a short advance, found themselves amidst barrenness, deformity, and confusion. The remoter scenery was not less impressive. Behind them were the rugged mountains of Puy de Dome; the lofty Tarare lifted its majestic head beside them, and far before appeared the brilliant summit of Mont Blanc.
[Footnote 1: An American gentleman then residing in that capital.]
In this state of mind he arrived at the skirts of a hamlet placed on the declivity of a mountain; and being desirous of finding a shorter and more retired track, he stopped at a decent-looking dwelling-house to inquire the way. From the windows several females were watching the movements of a little child; and just as M. —— inquired for a road across the mountains, the infant was in danger of being crushed by a coal-cart which had entered the street. The cries and alarms of the females were met by the activity of the travellers, and the companion of M. —— set off to snatch the infant from danger, and place him in security. An elderly female from the second story, gave M. ——, who was still on his horse, the directions he desired; and, at the same time, expressed her uneasiness that the gentleman should have had the trouble to seek the child.
“Madam,” interrupted M. ——, “my friend is only performing his duty: we ought to do to another as we would that another should do to us; and in this wretched world we are bound to assist each other. You are kind enough to direct us travellers in the right road, and surely the least we can do is to rescue your child from danger. The Holy Scriptures teach us these duties, and the Gospel presents us the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were in ignorance and danger, came to our world to seek and to save that which was lost.”