Darting through the smoke and fire to his daughter’s room, he shouted her name; but no voice replied. He sprang to the bed,—it was empty. With a cry of despair, and blinded by smoke, he dashed about the room, grasping wildly at objects in the hope that he might find his child. As he did so he stumbled over a prostrate form, which he instantly seized, raised in his arms, and bore out of the blazing house, round which a number of the people were now assembled.
The form he had thus plucked from destruction was that of the poor boy, who would willingly have given his life to rescue Alice, and who still lay in the state of insensibility into which he had been thrown by the blow from a gun or heavy club.
The missionary dropped his burden, turned wildly round, and was about to plunge once again into the heart of the blazing ruin, when he was seized in the strong arms of Henry Stuart, who, with the assistance of Ole Thorwald, forcibly prevented him from doing that which would have resulted in almost certain death.
The pastor’s head sunk on his breast. The excitement of action and hope no longer sustained him. With a deep groan, he fell to the earth insensible.
BAFFLED AND PERPLEXED—PLANS FOR A RESCUE.
While the men assembled round the prostrate form of Mr. Mason were attempting to rescue him from his state of stupor, poor Corrie began to show symptoms of returning vitality. A can of water, poured over him by Henry, did much to restore him. But no sooner was he enabled to understand what was going on, and to recall what had happened, than he sprang up with a wild cry of despair, and rushed towards the blazing house. Again Henry’s quick arm arrested a friend in his mad career.
“Oh! she’s there!—Alice is there!” shrieked the boy, as he struggled passionately to free himself.
“You can do nothing, Corrie,” said Henry, trying to soothe him.
“Coward!” gasped the boy, in a paroxysm of rage, as he clenched his fist and struck his captor on the chest with all his force.
“Hold him,” said Henry, turning to John Bumpus, who at that moment came up.
Bumpus nodded intelligently, and seized the boy, who uttered a groan of anguish as he ceased a struggle which he felt was hopeless in such an iron gripe.
“Now, friends—all of you,” shouted Henry, the moment he was relieved of his charge: “little Alice is in that house. We must pull it down. Who will lend a hand?”
He did not pause for an answer, but, seizing an ax, rushed through the smoke and began to cut down the door-posts. The whole party there assembled, numbering about fifty, rushed forward, as one man, to aid in the effort. The attempt was a wild one. Had Henry considered for a moment, he would have seen that, in the event of their succeeding in pulling down the blazing pile, they would in all probability smother the child in the ruins.