“If all the beauty in the earth
And skies and hearts of men
Were gently gathered at its birth,
And loved and born again.”
But the godmothers seemed to have forgotten him. He went sadly to bed—and the tears came to his eyes when he remembered how that very evening he had thought of himself as “happier than he had ever been in his life.” He fell asleep however as one does at nine years old, whatever troubles one has, and slept soundly for some hours. Then he was awakened by his door opening and some one coming in.
It was his father.
“Gratian, wake up. Your mother is very ill I’m afraid. Some one must go for the doctor—old Jonas is the nearest. I can’t leave her—she seems nearly unconscious. Dress yourself as quick as you can, and tell Jonas to bring Dr. Spense as soon as possible.”
Gratian was up and dressed almost at once. He felt giddy and miserable, and yet with a strange feeling over him that he had known it all before. He dared not try to think clearly—he dared not face the terrible fear at the bottom of his heart. It was his first experience of real trouble.
As he hurried off he met Madge at the door; she too had been wakened up. A sudden thought struck him.
“Madge,” he said, “if I’m not back quickly, tell father not to be frightened. I think I’ll go all the way for the doctor myself. It’ll save time not to go waking old Jonas, and I know he couldn’t go as fast as I can.”
Madge looked admiringly and yet half-anxiously at the boy. He seemed such a little fellow to go all that way alone in the dark winter night.
“I daresay you’re right,” she said, “and yet I’m half-afraid. Hadn’t you better ask master first?”
Gratian shook his head.
“No, no. It will be all right. Don’t trouble him about me unless he asks,” and off he ran.
He went as quickly as he could find his way—it was not a very dark night—till he was fairly out on the moorland path. Then he stood still.
“White-wings, Green-wings—whichever of you hears me, come and help me. Dear Green-wings, you said you always would comfort me.”
“So she would, surely,” said a voice, firmer and colder than hers, but kindly too, “but at this moment it’s more strength than comfort that you want. Hold out your arms, my boy, there—clasp me tight, don’t start at my cold breath. That’s right. Why, I can fly with you as if you were a snow-flake!”
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