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HOME > Short Stories > The Children's Pilgrimage > CHAPTER XXV. ALPHONSE.
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 But in vain Maurice lay down by Cecile's side and pressed his little cool lips to hers. He had returned to her again, but Cecile did not know him. Maurice was quite safe once more; the danger for him was over; but to Cecile he was still a lost child. She was groping for him, she would never find him again. The child her dying father had given into her tender care; the purse her stepmother had set such store by, both were gone, and gone forever. She had been faithless to her trust, and, cruelest of all, her heavenly Guide had not proved true.  
Poor Cecile! she pushed away the soft baby face of her little brother. She cried, and wrung her hands, and turned from side to side. Maurice was frightened, and turned tearfully to Joe. What had come to Cecile? How hot she looked! How red were her cheeks! How strange her words and manner!
Joe replied to the frightened little boy that Cecile was very ill, and that it was his fault; in truth, Joe was right. The blow dealt suddenly, and without any previous warning, was too much for Cecile. Coming upon a frame already weakened by fatigue and anxiety she succumbed at once, and long before Toby had brought Maurice home, poor little Cecile was in a burning fever.
All day long had Joe watched by her side, listening to her piteous wailings, to her bitter and reproachful cries. I think in that long and dreadful day poor Joe reaped the wages of his weakness and sin of the night before. Alone, with neither Toby nor Maurice, he dared not leave the sick child. He did not know what to do for her; he could only kneel by her side in a kind of dull pain and despair. Again and again he asked for her forgiveness. He could not guess that his passionate words were falling on quite unconscious ears.
In his long misery Joe had really forgotten little Maurice, but when he saw him enter the hut with Toby he felt a kind of relief. Ignorant truly of illness, an instinct told him that Cecile was very ill. Sick people saw doctors, and doctors had made them well. He could therefore now run off to the village, try to find a doctor, get him to come to Cecile, and then, when he saw that there was a chance of her wants being attended to rush off himself to do what he had made up his mind to accomplish some time earlier in the day. This was to find Anton, and getting back the little piece of paper, then give himself up to his old life of hardship and slavery.
"You set there, Maurice," he said, now addressing the bewildered little boy; "Cecile is ill; and you must not leave her. You set quite close to her, and when she asks for it, let her have a drink of water; and, Toby, you take care on them both."
"But, Joe, I'm starving hungry," said Maurice; "and why must I stay alone when Cecile is so queer, and not a bit glad to see me, though she is calling for me all the time? Why are you going away? I think 'tis very nasty of you, Joe."
"I must go, Maurice; I must find a doctor for Cecile; the reason Cecile goes on like that is because she is so dreadful ill. Ef I don't get a doctor, why she'll die like my little comrade died when his leg wor broke. You set nigh her, Maurice, and yere's a bit of bread."
Then Joe, going up to the sick child and kneeling down by her, took one of the burning hands in his.
"Missie, Missie, dear," he said, "I know as yer desperate ill, and you can't understand me. But still I'd like fur to say as I give hup my old mother, Missie. I wor starving fur my mother, and I thought as I'd see her soon, soon. But it worn't fur to be. I'm goin' back to my master and the old life, and you shall have the purse o' gold. I did bitter, bitter wrong; but I'll do right now. So good-by, my darling darlin' little Missie Cecile."
As the poor boy spoke he stooped down and kissed the burning hands, and looked longingly at the strangely flushed and altered face; then he went out into the forest. Any action was a relief to his oppressed and overstrained heart, and he knew he had not a moment to lose in trying to find a doctor for Cecile.
He went straight to the village and inquired if such a person dwelt there.
"Yes," ............
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