Turning quickly, the child grew almost rigid with fear as she saw, just in front of her, a small flame burst out from the rug before the fire, and not far from the crib where Willie lay sleeping. In an instant, however, the thought “What shall I do?” was followed by the remembrance of what her mother had often said, “If in any way your dress should ever take fire, you must try to smother it at once; never run away, but throw yourself down, or wrap yourself in anything to be found.”
[Illustration: “A small flame burst out from the rug.”]
Remembering this, she hastily caught up the other end of the rug, which was large and heavy, and threw it over the flame. This quite extinguished it, for it had only just started into life when Jennie saw it; but in her zeal she tore off the bedspread and blankets, crowning all with two large pillows upon which she seated herself, for by this time the child was so confused that she hardly knew whether it was the rug or her own dress which had taken fire.
Now she wanted to see somebody, and, not daring to move, she began to scream. This wakened Willie, who added his voice to the uproar, and soon brought the bewildered nurse to the rescue.
[Illustration: “She piled on the blankets and sat on them.”]
In less than an hour the carriage returned, and Jennie was kissed and praised more than she had ever been in all her happy life, by her parents and her aunt and uncle; for they saw quickly what had happened, and trembled to think what might have been.
That night as Mrs. Graham bent to give Jennie her good-night kiss, she whispered, “May God bless you, my thoughtful little niece, for you have saved your cousin’s life to-day!”
“Why, did I really?” thought Jennie; “how glad, how glad I am; for if I hadn’t been there, the fire would have caught the crib, and oh, that would have been awful!”
Then, as memory brought the scene more clearly before her, and she recollected how her conscience had fairly pushed her into the room, her little face grew red with shame, and she softly said, “I will never fight with conscience again, for if I had had my own way, I could never have saved poor Willie’s life.”
* * * * *
The past is lost to us—the
book is sealed,
By mortal ne’er to be unclosed again;
The past is gone—beyond all human power
To change the record of but one short hour,
Though since repented of in tears and pain.
The future lies before us—a
Whereon ’tis ours to write whate’er we will!
Then let us pause in case our careless hand
Shall make a stain which will forever stand,
Through endless time a silent witness still.
’Tis not enough to keep the pages
And let them ever but a blank remain;
Each leaf in turn should on its surface bear
Some writing that shall stand out clear and fair,
To prove our lives have not been spent in vain.