So these heroic girls are going on, the respected of all observers. Their example has encouraged others to throw off the shackles of “Southern caste” and be independent of unwilling relatives more favored by fortune. The mortgage is not yet entirely lifted, but it will be. The bluegrass pastures of the fine old estate have been given over to the grazing of blooded horses and cattle, at so much per head, thereby counting in a greatly increased revenue.
Margaret’s latest venture is a fine young thoroughbred, which the knowing ones predict will prove a gold mine. So mote it be.
Uncle Abner is patient and helpful. He has long ago felt like hiding “his diminished head,” and is proud of his young nieces. They have saved the old homestead where three generations of the family were born. Alone they have struggled, protected by the God of the orphan, whose glorious sunshine and rain so abundantly bless their labors!
A LOVE STORY
“Hold fast! don’t be frightened! I can save you if you will only be strong!” were the exclamations that burst hurriedly from young Dr. Gardner’s lips as, with horror-struck face he sprang from his window-seat and bounded downstairs.
And well might he hasten, for she who awaited his succor, hung perilously between heaven and earth, expecting every moment to be dashed to the ground.
For some minutes previous to his excited words, Weldon Gardner’s gaze had been riveted in awful fascination upon an immense balloon that was fast descending toward the high roofs that clustered on all sides about his comfortable rooms on —— St., New York.
Something was wrong. He could readily detect this in the unsteady wavering of the gaily-striped air-ship. And so, too, thought the crowd that he now saw had gathered in the street below.
Evidently the aeronaut had lost control of his craft. Lower still it tottered, and now were visible several arms outstretched in the vain appeal for aid.
Not a sound escaped the spell-bound multitude in the streets, for in a moment more the fate of the doomed adventurers must be decided. Suddenly two human forms dropped from the loosened basket and struck with a fearful thud against the elevated railway, then rebounded to the street below a mass of mangled flesh. Death was instantaneous. With one impulse the throng surged about the bodies; but Dr. Gardner’s eyes were still fixed upon the balloon, for as if relieved by the rapid lightening of its burden it gave a spirited sweep upward, then passed over his own roof.
Hastening to his back windows, which overlooked a paved court, he threw himself into a chair, and strained his gaze in search of the wrecked pleasure-craft, to which one other figure clung with the might of desperation.
One large tree, spared by the pruning axe of the city architect, shaded the court; and into the wide-spreading boughs of this tree, did the powerless balloon now descend, its ropes becoming hopelessly entangled. Clinging fast to whatever offered support, a young girl with dark, terror-stricken eyes, met his look of horror, as with the reassuring words already quoted, Weldon Gardner rushed down to the rescue.