Wing looked in blank amazement at his empty fingers and then, as he saw his plaything hanging to the folds of her dress, he sprang after it exclaiming, “My bug! My bug!” As he seized it again he saw the approaching train, and, his mind bent on what he was intending to do, turned to begin his usual backward race. Annie, stooping to loose her dress, with her back to the approaching train, was not yet aware of the oncoming doom. Her gown blew again across his legs, and to free himself he gave her a little push. With the warning shriek of the engine in her ears and darkness surging over her brain she fell just outside the track and rolled down the sloping embankment as far as her skirt, held beneath the wheels of the engine, allowed.
But for the Chinee Kid there was no such escape. The iron hoof of the engine was upon him as he made his first backward leap. When they picked up his little, mangled body the spider was still grasped in his brown fist.
The crowd on the station platform had seen it all—had seen him, as the engine rounded the curve, turn to Annie and push her off the track, thus saving her life at the cost of his own.
The townspeople persuaded his parents to let them give him a public funeral, to which all Tobin turned out, with tears and flowers and resolutions praising the little boy in high-sounding words for his heroic deed. A public subscription was taken up for the benefit of Wing’s parents, to which Annie’s father and lover and all her friends and everybody who had liked and petted the child contributed so liberally that his father and mother took his remains and sailed back to China.
When Ellison, from the platform, saw Annie’s danger everything left his heart save absorbing love for her, and with a white face and alarm-distended eyes he dashed across the track and had her in his arms before the others had recovered from their brief paralysis of horror.
They were married as soon as Wing’s obsequies were over. And now, if you ever pass through Tobin and will look for that sunny hillside with the olive and orange trees climbing its slope and the pretty cottage on its crest, you will see a home in which Wing’s memory is enshrined with all possible love and honor and gratitude.
You see, they do not know that it was all on account of his “bug.” Neither do they know that, small, brown, Chinee Kid though he was, he had stood in their lives for Fate.
OUT OF SYMPATHY
“Sympathy with his kind and well-doing for its welfare, direct or indirect, are the essential conditions of the existence and development of the more complex social organism; and no mortal can transcend these conditions with any success.”—HENRY MAUDSLEY.