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“Never mind," whispered Eddy, “we needn't be loud; kneel down and whisper it,” and the children put their hands together, and in a few short words asked God to take care of them.
“Now," said Mary, putting a crust she had spared especially for the occasion into Eddy's hand, “ we're ready.”
“Not yet," said the cripple, “there's one thing more; and slowly and painfully he crawled to his brother's bed, and, holding in his breath, first kissed the ring which hung round the drunkard's neck, and then kissed his cheek. That kiss was almost as light as
the falling of the dew, and Eddy Graham's - heart almost stopped. beating as he gave it ; but he need not have been afraid ; John Graham slept on heavily, and long before he awoke Eddy was safely beyond his reach.
The cripple shuffled to the landing of the stairs, and there his sister took him on her back. Whatever apprehensions she might have had about his weight, they soon vanished, for her charge was but skin and bone, and she carried him with the greatest ease. The old stairs creaked every now and then, and Mary Graham feared that they would be discovered, but all got on well, and they reached the street door without being disturbed. Mary knew where the truck was kept, and Eddy to his great astonishment soon found himself deposited on it. The old bags belonging to
the fruit made him a very tolerable seat, and one thrown over him and then tucked tightly in kept him effectually from the morning's
Eddy Graham's crust was too welcome to be left long untouched, so there he lay in the truck, breakfasting as he went along. Had Mary Graham started at a later hour, the great probability is, that she must have been accompanied by a crowd, but she now met comparatively few, and did not receive insult from any. The first person she saw was a policeman, who was rather inquisitive, and questioned her very closely as to what was the matter with Eddy; "For,” said he,“ there are bad things going on, my little girl, in these parts, and we are obliged to keep a sharp look-out.”
Mary Graham told him that Eddy had been a long time a cripple, and her story seeming true, and her appearance being cleanly and decent, she was soon dismissed, and allowed to proceed on her way.
It took the little girl a long time to wheel the truck to its destination, and her strength would in all probability have failed, had not help come from a source to which she had no reason to look. She had stopped to rest, and was arranging the old sacks which formed Eddy's seat, when a coal-cart passed by, drawn by a splendid team. The man in charge of the horses was a tall stout fellow,
with a face all begrimed with black, and a round hat upon his head with a long flap hanging down the back; perhaps his curiosity was excited by a turn-out so very unlike his own, but from whatever cause, he stepped aside and looked for a moment at the crippled boy. At a word from the driver, the horses stood still, and he put a few brief questions to the little girl. She told him quite artlessly where she was going, and Eddy, who was partially frightened, almost repeated her words.
“I'll help thee along,” said the driver of the waggon; “I have a cripple at home myself, I'll give thee a lift for his sake."
At the mention of a “lift," both Mary and her brother looked aghast; the waggon was laden to the very utmost, and how could Eddy be ever put up without being tremendously shaken? And even if that were done gently, how could he ever bear the jolting? All this she hinted to the waggoner, who smiled and said, “ Don't be afraid, I'll not hurt a bone in his body, I'll not stir him from his truck. I'm used,” said he, “ to managing a crippled un. I'll do it tidy ;” and without any more to do, he took the truck and wheeled it to the back of the waggon, to which he made it fast by a piece of loose chain. “Now then, thee must just hold up the handles, that's all, the team will do the rest;" and so saying, the kind-hearted man cracked his whip, gave his horses the accustomed signal,