Amelia first broke the silence. “Something must be burning,” exclaimed she. In an instant the cry of fire was heard. All started up and rushed to the door; and there, indeed, they were witnesses of a sight which might well appall. The whole upper part of the house was in flames. Instantly the cause flashed upon them. The house had been struck and set on fire by lightning. “My father! O, my father!” shrieked Amelia, and fell fainting to the floor. Quick as the word came the thought of Ray Bland that the aged Mr. Greenville might be in danger; and ere George Greenville had borne his sister to a place of safety, through flame and smoke had Ray Bland reached the chamber which he knew the old gentleman occupied. It was locked. One blow of his foot, with all the force he could muster, and locks and bolts gave way. The room was nearly enveloped in flames, the curtains of the window and bed had been consumed, and now the flames had seized the wood-work and burned with great fury. Upon the floor, prostrate as if dead, lay the proud man, who scorned and detested the poor, and who had boasted of being beyond the reach of adversity. To lift him in his arms and bear him to the street was the work of an instant. He had only been stunned, and the drenching rain through which he was carried soon revived him. Ray bore him to the house of poor Smith, the nearest to his own; and there, with feelings of anguish which cannot be described, surrounded by his children and neighbors, the old man learned a lesson which his whole previous life had not taught, of the dependence which every member of society has upon the whole. While his riches were taking wings to fly away even before his own eyes, he felt how foolish and wicked was his past conduct; and ever after the poor found no warmer friend or more liberal hand than that of old George Greenville.
In the course of a few months a new and spacious building was erected upon the site of the one destroyed; and the neighbors say that the pretty cottage which is being built just over the way is to be the future residence of Ray Bland and the fair Amelia, whose aristocratic father now knows no distinction, save in merit, between the rich and poor.
THE HOMEWARD BOUND.
Slowly he paced the vessel’s
While thoughts of hours, and days, and scenes long past,
Brought forth from fountains well-nigh dry a tear:
For in imagination he could see
Himself a tiny boy, in childish sport
Upon a river’s bank, quite near his home,
Chasing the butterfly, whose gaudy dress
Lured him away, till, wearied with the chase,
Upon some mossy stone he sat him down;
Or, in some rippling brook, beneath the shade
Of some tall oak, he bathed his parched brow;
Then up he sprang, retraced his wandering steps,
Yet heedless ran, and could not leave his play.