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- The Emperor, Part 1, Volume 4. - 9/9 -
quite forty now, and she was as pretty and as kind as you are. When she died she left seven children besides me, all little, and one of them blind. I am the eldest, and do what I can for them, that they may not be starved."
"God will help you in the loving task."
"The gods!" exclaimed Selene, bitterly. "They let them grow up, the rest I have to see to--oh! my foot, my foot!"
"Yes, we will think of that before anything else. Your father is alive?"
"And he is not to know that you work here?"
Selene shook her head.
"He is in moderate circumstances, but of good family?"
"Here, I think, is the doctor. Well? May I know your father's name? I must if I am to get you safe home."
"I am the daughter of Keraunus, the steward of the palace, and we have rooms there, at Lochias," Selene answered, with rapid decision, but in a low whisper, so that the physician, who just then opened the room door, might not hear her. "No one, and least of all, my father, must know that I work here."
The widow made a sign to her to be easy, greeted the grey-haired leech who came in with his assistant; and then, while the old man examined the injured limb, and cut the straps with a sharp pair of scissors, she bathed the girl's face and cut head with a wet handkerchief, supported the poor child in her arms, and, when the pain seemed too much for her, kissed her pale cheeks.
Many sighs from the bottom of her heart, and many shrill little cries betrayed how intense was the pain Selene was enduring. When at length, her delicate and graceful foot-distorted just now by the extensive swelling,--was freed from the bands and straps, and the ankle had been felt and pressed in every direction by the leech, he exclaimed, turning to the assistant who stood ready to lend a helping hand:
"Look here, Hippolytus, the girl came along the streets with her ankle in this state. If any one else had told me of such a thing, I should have desired him to keep his lies to himself. The fibula is broken at the joint, and with this injured limb the child has walked farther than I could trust myself at all--without my litter. By Sirius! child, if you are not crippled for life it will be a miracle."
Selene had listened with closed eyes, and exhausted almost to unconsciousness; but at his last words she slightly shrugged her shoulders with a faint smile of scorn on her lips.
"You think nothing of being lame!" said the old man, who let no gesture of his patient escape him. "That, of course, is your affair, but it is mine to see that you do not become a cripple in my hands. The opportunity for working a miracle is not given to one of us every day, and happily for me, you yourself bring a powerful coadjutor to help me. I do not mean a lover or anything of that kind, though you are much too pretty, but your lovely, vigorous, healthy youth. The hole in your head is hotter than it need be--keep it properly cool with fresh water. Where do you live, child?"
"Almost half an hour from here," said Hannah, answering for Selene.
"She cannot be taken so far as that, even in a litter, at present," said the old man.
"I must go home!" cried Selene, resolutely, and trying to sit up.
"Nonsense," exclaimed the physician. "I must forbid your moving at all. Be still, and be patient and obedient, or your foolish joke will come to a bad end; fever has already set in, and it will increase by the evening. It has nothing much to do with the leg, but all the more with the inflamed scalp-wound. Do you think," he added, turning to the widow, "that perhaps a bed could be made here on which she might lie, and remain here till the factory reopens?"
"I would rather die," shrieked Selene, trying to draw away her foot from the leech.
"Be still--be still, my dear child," said the good woman, soothingly. "I know where I can take you. My house is in a garden belonging to Paulina, the widow of Pudeus, near this and close to the sea; it is not above a thousand paces off, and there you will have a soft couch and tender care. A good litter is waiting, and I should think--"
"Even that is a good distance," said the old man. "However, she cannot possibly be better cared for than by you, dame Hannah. Let us try it then, and I will accompany you to lash those accursed bearers' skins if they do not keep in step."
Selene made no attempt to resist these orders, and willingly drank a potion which the old man gave her; but she cried to herself as she was lifted into the litter and her foot was carefully propped on pillows. In the street, which they soon reached through a side door, she again almost lost consciousness, and half awake but half as in a dream, she heard the leech's voice as he cautioned the bearers to walk carefully, and saw the people, and vehicles, and horsemen pass her on their way. Then she saw that she was being carried through a large garden, and at last she dimly perceived that she was being laid on a bed. From that moment every thing was merged in a dream, though the frequent convulsions of pain that passed over her features and now and then a rapid movement of her hand to the cut in her head, showed that she was not altogether oblivious to the reality of her sufferings.
Dame Hannah sat by the bed, and carried out the physician's instructions with exactness; he himself did not leave his patient till he was perfectly satisfied with her bed and her position. Mary stayed with the widow helping her to wet handkerchiefs and to make bandages out of old linen.
When Selene began to breathe more calmly Hannah beckoned her assistant to come close to her and asked in a low voice.
"Can you stay here till early to-morrow, we must take it in turns to watch her, most likely for several nights--how hot this wound on her head is!"
"Yes, I can stay, only I must tell my mother that she may not be frightened."
"Quite right, and then you may undertake another commission for I cannot leave the poor child just now."
"Her people will be anxious about her."
"That is just where you must go; but no one besides us two must know who she is. Ask for Selene's sister and tell her what has happened; if you see her father tell him that I am taking care of his daughter, and that the physician strictly forbids her moving or being moved. But he must not know that Selene is one of us workers, so do not say a word about the factory before him. If you find neither Arsinoe nor her father at home, tell any one that opens the door to you that I have taken the sick child in, and did it gladly. But about the workshop, do your hear, not a word. One thing more, the poor girl would never have come down to the factory in spite of such pain, unless her family had been very much in need of her wages; so just give these drachmae to some one and say, as is perfectly true, that we found them about her person."
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Enjoy the present day Idleness had long since grown to be the occupation of his life It was such a comfort once more to obey an order Philosophers who wrote of the vanity of writers
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