At these terrible words Mr. Hardie groaned: and they all began to speak below the breath.
"Edward," murmured Mrs. Dodd hurriedly, "run and put off the auction: put it off altogether; then go to the railway; nothing must come here to make a noise, and get straw put down directly. Do that first, dear."
"You are kinder to me than I deserve," muttered Mr. Hardie humbly, quite cowed by the blow that had fallen on him. The words agitated Mrs. Dodd with many thoughts, but she whispered as calmly as she could, "Let us think of nothing now but this precious life."
Mr. Hardie begged to see the extent of the injury.
Mrs. Dodd dissuaded him, but he persisted. Then the doctor showed her poor head.
At that the father uttered a scream and sat quivering. Julia buried her face in the bed-clothes directly, and sobbed vehemently. It passed faintly across the benumbed and shuddering father, "How she loves my child; they all love her," but the thought made little impression at the time; the mind was too full of terror and woe. The doctor now asked for brandy in a whisper. Mrs. Dodd left the room with stealthy foot, and brought it. He asked for a quill. Julia went with swift, stealthy foot, and brought it. With adroit and tender hands they aided the doctor, and trickled stimulants down her throat. Then sat like statues of grief about the bed; only every now and then eye sought eye, and endeavoured to read what the other thought. Was there hope? Was there none? And by-and-bye, so roving is the mind, especially when the body is still, these statues began to thrill with thoughts of the past as well as the absorbing present.
Ay, here were met a strange party; a stranger, for its size, methinks, never yet met on earth, to mingle their hearts together in one grief.
Just think! Of him who sat there with his face hidden in his hands, and his frame shuddering, all the others were the victims.