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rolling sullenly off to the distance in growling reverberations, and the rain fell in rattling sheets as it was dashed against the trees by the stormgust.
“ How magnificent is this elemental war !" exclaimed Agatha; “ what can be more tremendous than the peal we have just heard, — what more sonorous and grand than the roar of the wind amid this sea of waving branches and fluttering leaves, a wind which almost makes flexible the knees of gnarled oaks,' as if to realize the sublime hyperbole of Shakspeare; and how. reverend and profound should be our conviction of the divine might and mercy, when we reflect that this apparent wrath of nature is but an act of beneficence and love, destined to chase away noxious vapours, to purify the air, and to refresh the earth, which already sends up its grateful incense to the sky !"
“ Nevertheless it is an awful spectacle !" said Edith, in a solemn voice. " When I contemplate its fertilizing results, my bosom thrills with a complacent gratitude; but when I look upon
the terrible agency employed, my throbbing heart"
She broke off suddenly, clinging to her friend with a start of surprise, for at this moment a riderless horse, whose footsteps on the soft turf had not been previously heard, burst from amid the trees, dashed past them at full speed, and was again out of sight in an instant, although they might still catch the rattling of the stir. rups as they were whirled about him in his terrified flight.
“Good heavens !” ejaculated Edith, clasping her hands together, “some accident has happened ; that wild animal, scared in all probability by the lightning, has doubtless thrown his rider."
66 It seems indeed too probable,” said Agatha, 66 but we know not what direction to take in search of his owner, nor are we sure that he has sustained injury, or requires other assistance than the recovery of his horse, in which, I fear, we can but little serve him.”
“ The animal broke from yonder thicket on
our right, and if any accident has been occasioned by the lightning, it must have been within these few minutes, and cannot therefore have occurred at any material distance. Perhaps if we search beyond the thicket, we might discover
-Hark! hist! methought I heard a faint halloo in the distance."
Nothing, my dear Edith, but the wailing of the wind, as the gusts are broken by the trees.”
“ Listen ! listen ; there it is again! I am confident I heard a human voice.”
“Nay, if you are confident I will not contend the point, for I know that my sense of hearing is by no means so exquisite as yours; but it still rains heavily, and if you do not object to being left alone for a short while, you had better remain under this friendly tree, while I drive on the pony in search of what I may discover.”
“ No, no, I will accompany you ; I care not for the rain -perhaps some fellow creature may be perishing for want of succour. There!
there! I distinctly caught another halloo ! Dear Agatha, drive on, for heaven's sake !"
Her friend, who though less impetuous was quite as benevolent as Edith, urged the pony forward in spite of the pouring rain, which rendered all objects indistinct except those that immediately surrounded them. As they advanced, however, both caught at intervals the halloo which Edith's finer ear had been the first to distinguish, and hurrying forward in the direction of the sound, they were soon enabled to distinguish a man and woman standing under a tree at some distance a-head. On approaching them, Edith instantly recognized farmer Chervil and his wife; but that which arrested her own attention as well as Agatha's, on their reaching the spot, was the appalling spectacle of a human body lying extended on the wet grass, as if suddenly arrested by the touch of death. It presented the appearance of a young and singularly handsome man, attired in a species of plain green uniform. His hat was off, and his dark locks were thrown wildly around
his features, the comeliness of which were still conspicuous in spite of their ghastly hue, and of a frightful contusion upon the forehead, where the skin was broken and discoloured, though no blood had exuded from the wound. Judging from the closed eyes, and the immobility of the livid face, life might have been deemed extinct; but the gentle and scarcely perceptible heaving of the chest, showed that the unfortunate sufferer had not yet breathed his last.
While Edith sunk back in the chaise with a faint shuddering shriek, and Agatha uttered an exclamation of surprise and deep emotion, Dame Chervil ejaculated, “ Lors love us all, Miss Edy! be thic thee ? Dear hort! dear hort! Only ta think o' tha’ wonnerful ways o' nature ! Why theas be the very zelf-zame gennelman we told 'ee of, that call’d at our varm in tha morning, and ax'd the ruad ta Goathurst, and lockyzee, Miss Edy; here be the cross and greyhound tied round's throoat wi' a black ribbon, and meaning zome zort o'popery, or witchcraft, or devildom anorra, there's niver a doubt o'thic.