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but the bewildered man, instead of understanding, bade her "flee from the wrath to come," and with sundry leaps and frantic gestures, went capering on his way.
Her heart at this disappointment was ready to burst with despair; but, turning her eyes towards the opposite side, she perceived another man coming down the street, with a pitcher and a small loaf. As soon as he came under the window, she made the same prayer to him as to the former, begging him for charity, and the sake of her dear father, to allow him but a sup of the water and a small morsel of the bread.
"It is for that purpose," said the other, "that I am come.1' And as he looked upward she discovered that it was Seaton, who had brought this very timely supply. "You may eat and drink of these," he continued," without any suspicion, for they come from a place many miles hence, where the infection is yet unknown."
The heart of Alice was too full to let her reply, but she ran forthwith, and fetched a cord, to draw up the loaf and the pitcher withal, the last being filled with good wine. When her father had finished his repast, which revived him very much, she returned with the pitcher, and let it down by the cord to Seaton, who perceived something glittering within the vessel.
"Ralph Seaton," she said, "wear that jewel for my sake. The blessing of God be ever with you in return for this precious deed! but I conjure you, by the Holy Trinity, do not come hither again."
The generous Seaton, with great joy placed . the brooch within his bosom, and with a signal of farewell to Alice, departed without another word. And now her heart began to sink again to think of the morrow, when assuredly her beloved parent would be reduced to the like extremity; for during all this time the negligent watchmen had never come within sight of the house. All the night hours she spent, therefore, in anguish and dread, which were still
more aggravated by the dismal rumbling of the carts, that at midnight were used to come about for the corpses of the dead.
In the middle of the night one of these coarse slovenly hearses, with a cargo of dead bodies, passed through the street, attended by a bellman and some porters, with flaming torches, unto whom the miserable Alice called out with a lamentable voice. The men, at her summons, came under the window with the cart, expecting some dead body to be cast out to them, the mortality admitting of no more decent rites; but when they heard what she wanted, they replied sullenly, that they had business enough of their own to convey away all the carrion,—and so passed on with their horrible chimes.
The morning was spent in the same alternations of fruitless hope and despair,—till towards noon, when Seaton came again with the pitcher and a small basket, which contained some cold baked meat, and other eatables, that he had procured with infinite pains from a country place, at a considerable distance. The fair maiden drew up these supplies with great eagerness, her father beginning now to have that appetite which is one of the first symptoms of recovery from any sickness; accordingly he fed upon the victuals with great relish. The gentle Alice, in the meanwhile, lowered down the empty basket and the pitcher to Seaton, and then again besought him not to expose himself to such risks by coming into the city; to which he made no answer but by pressing his hands against his bosom, as if to express that such errands gratified his heart; whereupon she made fresh signs to say farewell, and he departed.
In this manner several weeks passed away, the gallant youth never failing to come day after day with fresh provision, till at last the old jeweller was able to sit up. The gracious Providence preserved them all, in the meantime, from any attack of the Pestilence, though many persons died every day, on both sides of the street, the distemper being at its worst pitch. Thus the houses became desolate, and the streets silent, and beginning to look green even, by the springing up of grass between the untrodden stones.
The prison-house of the Fair Maid of Ludgate and her father soon became, therefore, very irksome, and especially when the latter got well enough to stir about, and to behold through the window these symptoms of the public calamity, which filled him with more anxiety than he had ever felt, on account of his dear child, whose life was not secure, any more than his own, for a single hour. His alarm and disquiet on this account threatening to bring on a relapse of his malady, the tender girl found but little happiness in his recovery, which seemed thus to have been altogether in vain. And truly, it was a sufficient grief for any one to be in the centre, though unhurt, of such a horrible devastation; whereof none could guess at the continuance, whether it would cease