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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about Bart Ridgeley.

Mrs. Wilder looked at her, and listened to her, and in her woman’s heart she pondered of these two, and wished she had kept Bart; she was sad and sorry for them, and most for him, for she saw his soul die in his eyes as he turned from Julia’s sleeping face.

Then came the tramp of horses, and Julia sprang out, and into her father’s arms.

One hour after came Julia’s mother and Nell, in the light carriage; and kisses, and tears, and little laughy sobs, and words that ran out with little freshets of tears, and unanswered questions, and unasked answers, broken and incoherent; yet all were happy, and all thankful and grateful to their Father in Heaven; and blessings and thanks—­many of them unsaid—­to the absent one.

And so the lost one was restored, and soon they started back.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

AT JUDGE MARKHAM’S.

When Mrs. Markham at last realized that Julia was lost, she hastily arrayed herself and went out with the others to search for her, calmly, hopefully, and persistently.  She went, and clambered, and looked, and called, and when she could look and go no further, as woman may, she waited, and watched, and prayed, and the night grew cold, and the wind and snow came, and as trumpets were blown and guns discharged, and fires lighted in the woods, and torches flashed and lanterns gleamed through the trees, she still watched, and hoped, and prayed.

When at last the storm and exhaustion drove men in, she was very calm and pale, said little, and went about with chilled tears in her eyes.

Judge Markham was a strong, brave, sagacious man, and struggled and fought to the last, but finally in silence he rejoined his silent wife.  At about three in the morning, and while the storm was at its height, she turned from the blank window where she stood, with a softened look in her eyes, from which full tides were now for the first time falling; and approaching her husband, who man-like, when nothing more could be done by courage and strength, sat with his face downward on his arms, resting on the table, and breathing great dry gasps, and sobs of agony.

“Edward,” said she, stooping over him, “it comes to me somehow that Julia is safe; that she has somewhere found shelter, and we shall find her.”

And now she murmured, and whispered, and talked, as the impression seemed to deepen in her own heart, and she knelt, and once more a fervent prayer of hope and faith went up.  The man came and knelt by her, and joined in her prayer, and grew calm.

“Julia,” said he, “we have at least God, and with Him is all.”

When the morning came, five hundred anxious and determined men, oppressed with sad forebodings, had gathered from all that region for the search.

Persistently they adhered to the idea that the missing girl was in the lower woods.

A regular organized search by men and boys, in a continuous line, was resolved upon.  Marshals were appointed, signals agreed upon, and appliances and restoratives provided; and the men were hastening to their places.  A little knot near the Judge’s house were still discussing the matter, as in doubt about the expediency of further search in that locality.

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