Even as he gained the spot, shouting to the men in service to bring a ladder, a number of persons had penetrated to the court, and were now collected around the tree, uttering excited comments upon the disaster.
With all possible speed the young physician reached the sufferer, but unconsciousness had already closed her eyes to all danger. Bearing the light form from the entangling meshes, the doctor ascended to his consulting-room, and deposited his burden upon a couch. Summoning his housekeeper, he dismissed the gaping followers, and proceeded to examine the death-like form he had preserved from mutilation.
The patient seemed to be about eighteen years old, and bore unmistakable evidences of the lady in her attire.
Mercifully forebearing to restore her senses till after his skillfull examination, the doctor could discover no broken limbs, and nothing now remained but to enable her to speak for herself as to her condition. After a persistent use of restoratives, the anxious attendants were rewarded by seeing the color flutter back into the pallid cheeks, and the long eyelashes quiver with returning life.
Her first words were: “Lucien! Maggie! we are lost!” Then a strong shudder convulsed her slight frame, and with a startled cry she attempted to spring up.
“Be careful,” gently remonstrated the doctor, laying a detaining hand upon her. “Tell me—are you hurt anywhere?”
“I don’t know—I think not—oh! who are you? Where am I? Where are the others? Were they killed? Oh! it was too horrible!” and the agitated speaker burst into a passion of tears so violent as to alarm her watchers.
Leaving her to the housekeeper, Dr. Gardner quickly prepared and administered a soothing potion. Then, enjoining absolute quiet, he drew the blinds, and proceeded downstairs to learn of the ill-fated companions of his patient. The crowd still lingered about the spot, although the bodies had been removed to await a claimant. Nothing was known except that the balloon had ascended that morning from one of the city squares, and that, as frequently happened, a party of young people had gone up to get a bird’s eye view of the metropolis. Who they were did not yet appear.
Several hours passed, and still the rescued girl slept the dreamless sleep induced by the nervous shock and the narcotic draught of the doctor. Patiently the housekeeper sat and watched.
As twilight fell, she gave a sigh and opened her large eyes in surprise upon the strange face beside her. Taking advantage of the opportune moment, Mrs. Buford removed the pongee walking suit from the drowsy girl, and then gently enfolding her in a soft white wrapper, the kind matron assisted her to the bed which had been prepared, the girl submitting with a bewildered look of questioning wonder, and finally sinking back gratefully into slumber.
And here Weldon Gardner came before retiring for the night.