It was thus that Caroline, with Babie and Armine, was descending a hill on the other side of Belforest Park, fully employed in picking the way through the mud from stone to stone, when a cry of dismay came to them from a distance, and whilst they were still struggling towards a gate, which broke the line of the high hedge, the two Johns came back at speed, crying-"Mother, Mother Carey! come quick, here’s Allen had a spill-came down on his shoulder-his stilt went into a hole, and he went right over; they think he must have broken something, he howls so when they touch him.”
Feeling her limbs and breath inadequate to bear her on as fast as her spirit flew forward, Caroline dashed through the slippery mud far too swiftly for poor little Babie to keep up with her, leaving one boy to take care of the little ones, while the other acted as her guide down the long steep lane. She was unable to see over the hedges till she came through a gate into a meadow, where Jock looked about, rubbed his eyes, and exclaimed-"Hallo, where are they?” pointing to the place where Allen had fallen, but whence he seemed to have been spirited away like Sir Piercie Shafton. However, Rob and Joe came running out of a farmyard at a little distance, with tidings that Allen had been taken in there, and replying to her breathless question, that they could not tell how much he was hurt.
A fine looking white-haired farmer met her next, saying-"Your young gentleman is not very seriously hurt, ma’am. I think a dislocation of the shoulder is the extent of the injury. He is feeling rather faint, but you must not be alarmed.”
It was spoken with a kind courtesy that gave her confidence, and the old man led her to the parlour, where his daughter-in-law, a gentle looking person, was most kindly attending on Allen, who lay on the sofa, exceedingly white, and in much pain, but able to smile at his mother, and assure her that he should soon be all right.
“Had they sent for a surgeon?”
“No, but they had sent for a bone-setter, who would be there in a minute.”
The old farmer explained that it would be two hours at the least before a surgeon could be fetched from Kenminster, while Higg, the blacksmith, who lived close at hand, was better for man and beast than any surgeon he had known, and his son had instantly set out to fetch him. As the mother doubtfully asked of his fitness, instances were quoted of his success. The family had a “gift,” inherited and kept up from time immemorial, and the farmer’s wife declared that he was as tender as possible; she had seen him operate on a neighbour’s child, and should not be afraid to trust him with one of her own.
The man’s voice was heard; they went out to speak to him, and Caroline was left with her boy.
“What do you think, Ali, my dear, she said, kneeling by him, “I have often heard dear papa speak of the wonderful instinct of those bone-setting families.”