The shriek she uttered only hastened the catastrophe she feared; for the child lost its balance, and fell into the stream. Scream now followed scream in rapid succession, as the agonized mother rushed to the bank.
One glance at the situation was enough. To take off his coat and plunge in after the drowning child were but the actions of a moment.
On went the youth and child; and it was miraculous how each escaped being dashed to pieces against the rocks. Twice the boy went out of sight, and a suppressed shriek escaped the mother’s lips; but twice he reappeared, and with great anxiety she followed his progress, as his tiny form was hurried onward with the current.
The youth now appeared to redouble his exertions, for they were approaching the most dangerous part of the river. The rush of the waters at this spot was tremendous, and no one ventured to approach, even in a canoe, lest he should be dashed in pieces. What, then, would be the youth’s fate, unless he soon overtook the child? He urged his way through the foaming current with desperate strength.
Three times he was on the point of grasping the child, when the waters whirled the prize from him. The third effort was made above the fall; and when it failed, the mother groaned, fully expecting the youth to give up his task. But no; he only pressed forward the more eagerly.
And now, like an arrow from the bow, pursuer and pursued shot to the brink of the precipice. An instant they hung there, distinctly visible amid the foaming waters. Every brain grew dizzy at the sight. But a shout of exultation burst from the spectators, when they saw the boy held aloft by the right arm of the young hero. And thus he brought the child back to the distracted mother.
With a most fervent blessing, she thanked the young man for his heroic deed. And was this blessing heard? Most assuredly; for the self-sacrificing spirit which characterized the life of this youth was none other than that of George Washington, the First President of the United States.
September has come. The fierce heat of summer is gone. Men are at work in the fields cutting down the yellow grain, and binding it up into sheaves. The fields of corn stand in thick ranks, heavy with ears.
The boughs of the orchard hang low with the red and golden fruit. Laughing boys are picking up the purple plums and the red-cheeked peaches that have fallen in the high grass. Large, rich melons are on the garden vines, and sweet grapes hang in clusters by the wall.
The larks with their black and yellow breasts stand watching you on the close-mown meadow. As you come near, they spring up, fly a little distance, and light again. The robins, that long ago left the gardens, feed in flocks upon the red berries of the sumac, and the soft-eyed pigeons are with them to claim their share. The lazy blackbirds follow the cows and pick up crickets and other insects.