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calling in agony upon the names of missing children—for in the fierce pushing and struggling for life, parties got separated and families divided, children forced from the parents, women from their protectors, and the weaker unconsciously thrown down and trampled to death by the strong. Many, half roasted, dropped into the burning pit; many, with their garments in flames, maddened by pain and terror, threw themselves headlong from the windows, and met another death; many even chanced to save their lives in that way at the cost of broken limbs; and at last the door yielded, and as many as possible escaped that way; but to what a life, alas! darkened for ever by the memory of dearest relatives and friends who perished in the fire. The whole building was now in flames; in less than an hour all was over; naught remained but a heap of smoking ruins; and around them the agonised crowd of those who lived and raved, and around these again an awe-struck, mourning city.

CHAPTER XXV.

"IN PALACE CHAMBERS."

THE spell that bound Captain Fairfax when he recognised his wife upon the stage was broken by the fall of the dropcurtain. He instantly left the boxes and hastened round behind the scenes. After many baffled inquiries, and many misdirections, he prosecuted his search alone, and at length found her prostrate form : the wind had blown the smoke and flame in another direction, and she lay there uninjured, though insensible, and in extremity of danger. He raised her, threw his cloak round her, and ran with her into the fresh air, called a hackney-coach, placed her in it, jumped in and took his seat by her side, drew her insensible form within his arms upon his bosom, and directed the coachman to drive rapidly to Fairview House. As they passed swiftly through the streets, the cry of "Fire! fire! fire!" rang through the air, but he scarcely heard it; the rushing of crowds of people in the opposite direction to that in which they were driving frequently impeded the progress of the carriage, but he scarcely knew it; all his senses, all his thoughts, all his emotions

were absorbed in the gentle form that lay swooning on his bosom; and, "Oh, how thin she is! how thin, good Heaven!" he groaned many times, as he held his arm around the fragile waist, or felt the emaciated arm and hand, or pressed his cheek against the wan face. "How thin she is, good Heaven! how thin! Is this illness? Illness unto death, perhaps! Drive fast, coachman-fast!" He longed to lay her at rest upon her bed, that he might perchance silence his anxiety; and, Faster, coachman! faster!" he continued to cry, whenever the thickening crowd arrested the progress of the carriage.

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At length they reached Fairview House. He lifted her out and bore her into the hall. His mother had retired to rest long since; but he rang the bell violently, and said to the astonished servants who came at the summons, "Go instantly and prepare a room for my wife. I have but just saved her from the burning theatre!" The wonder-struck maids hurried to obey. Stop! Don't disturb your mistress, on your lives," he said, and, with this warning, dismissed them. To one of the men present, he exclaimed, "Run instantly to Doctor Cummings, and ask him to hurry hither."

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The man disappeared to obey; and, during the issuing of these orders, Frank Fairfax was sitting on the sofa, sustaining the fainting form of his wife with one arm, while with the other hand he unlaced the velvet bodice. Presently one of the maids returned and announced that the room was ready; and Frank raised and carried his precious burden up stairs, into a pleasant front chamber, and laid her on a bed; then, with the assistance of one of the women, he got off the stage-dress, and supplied its place with one of his mother's white wrappers, brought for the purpose by one of

the maids.

He had scarcely done this, when the chamber-door opened, and old Mrs. Fairfax entered, roused up by the noise in and outside the house. She came in, wrapped in a flannel dressing-gown, and saying anxiously, "My dear Frank, they tell me that the Richmond Theatre is on fire. I am so grateful that you are not there. Ah! what is this? Who is that ?" she asked, perceiving the form of Zuleime upon the bed, and advancing towards it. "Some sufferer you have saved from the fire, my dear Frank? God bless your

brave, kind heart, my dear boy! but you should not have -brought her in here, or you should not be here yourself. Retire, and leave the lady to the care of myself and my women," concluded the lady gravely.

"My dearest mother, yes! She is a sufferer I have saved from the fire-a most beloved sufferer! my wife, my wife! Dearest mother, I cannot leave her! I have a right to stay here."

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Here followed a wild, hasty disclosure of his imprudent marriage, kept secret up to that moment; and then, amid the grief and surprise of Mrs. Fairfax, he also learned the fact of Mr. Clifton's death, and of Zuleime's disappearance and suspected suicide. In bitter self-reproach Frank had made his confession-in deepest sorrow he heard his mother's revelations.

"How much she must have suffered! Good Heaven! how much she must have suffered!" he exclaimed. Then almost madly he cried, "Mother, look at her! look at her! Oh, tell me, do you think she can live ?"

Mrs. Fairfax had been all this time chafing her temples with cologne, while the two maids rubbed her hands and feet; but up to this instant she had given no signs of recovery or of consciousness; and the old lady shook her head mournfully, and plunged Frank into deeper despair. They persevered in their efforts for half an hour longer, and then she sighed and opened her eyes. Her husband was bending over her. She met his eyes, and smiled faintly in recognition, without astonishment and without joy-indeed, she was too feeble for either; and murmuring, "Dearest Frank," she sank away again, fainting, they supposed, until her low breathing revealed that she slept the sleep of utter prostration. And how changed was now that countenance ! The look of weariness, care, and sorrow had vanished, and the sweet, wan face wore the easy, confiding air of infancy; and, even in sleep, she must have felt the shelter of protecting love around her, for often with closed eyes she smiled, as in delighted visions. All night they watched beside her bed while she slept. In the morning the doctor arrived. He had been absent all night, by the couch of one who had been severely burned at the theatre, and that accounted for his failure to come before morning; now, however, he stood beside the patient with grave and thoughtful brow.

Doctor, for Heaven's sake, give me some hope of her! Tell me something about her, at least! Is she ill ?"

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"She is very ill," replied the physician.

"I cannot believe it! I will not believe it! See how sweetly she sleeps! how comfortably! how free from suffering!"

"Yes; but, my dear Captain Fairfax, there would be more hope if there were more suffering. However, the case may be much more favourable than it appears to me now; I cannot fully judge of it until she wakes."

"Allow me to arouse her, then. Nay, I wish to do it. I have not spoken to her yet. Let me wake her now."

"By no means. It might prove fatal. Indeed, you must be very careful; her life hangs by a thread. Sleep will do her more good now than anything else. When she awakes naturally, you may send for me at once." And, so saying, the doctor took leave, without even writing a prescription.

Soon after he left the house she opened her eyes again, and, seeing Frank, smiled faintly, and murmured, "My own -my dearest, dearest husband!" and in an instant her senses seemed swallowed up again in sleep, which lasted half an hour, at the end of which she awoke again, and looked around in uneasiness, and breathed half aloud, "My child-my baby-my little Fan-" and then sank away again, as if she were too feeble to retain her hold on consciousness.

"What is she talking about, dear mother?" inquired Frank, in the extremity of anxiety, when he heard her words.

Mrs. Fairfax shook her head, and said she did not know; but the woman who waited in the chamber came forward, and said that, if her mistress would excuse her interfering, she would tell them what the young lady meant.

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Speak on, then, at once, in the name of the Lord!" exclaimed Frank impatiently.

Mrs. Fairfax indorsed his order; and then the woman informed her mistress that she had known the sick young lady all the winter, by sight-that she had been there at the house to ask for sewing that she took in sewing for a living that she lodged at the cabinet-maker's, over the way and that she had a little girl almost two years old, who was no doubt at the cabinet-maker's now, which she

supposed was what had made the mother look around, and inquire so anxiously.

The woman's story was scarcely over before Captain Fairfax seized his hat, and hurried from the room. As soon as he was gone, Mrs. Fairfax called the woman up before her, and said, "Nelly, you heard your master tell me of his marriage with this young lady ?"

"Yes, madam."

"I need not tell you that it is my will that there be no kitchen gossip about this matter. This young lady, once Miss Zuleime Clifton, is now, and has been for nearly three years past, Mrs. Francis Fairfax, the wife of my son, and is also your own young mistress. You understand?"

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Yes, madam."

"Then let there be no idle conversation about this marriage, if you would avoid my severest displeasure."

Farther colloquy was arrested by the hurried entrance of Captain Fairfax, bringing his little wee girl in his arms. Mrs. Fairfax immediately arose to take her from him; but the child's quick eyes had recognised her mother lying on the bed, and she began to clap her hands and call, Mamma, mamma!”

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Frank held her closely, and tried to still her joyful, eager cries; but the magical sound of her child's voice had already awakened the sleeper, and she opened her eyes, and, seeing the babe in its father's arms, smiled a feeble smile of content, and fell away again into oblivion.

Mrs. Fairfax had the doctor summoned again, and told him that, if he wished to see her daughter-in-law awake, he must remain at her bedside, for that she only awoke to relapse instantly into slumber.

The physician then took his seat by the bedside of his patient, and requested all except a maid-servant to leave the chamber.

Mrs. Fairfax and Frank went out, taking the little girl with them, and leaving the doctor with the invalid.

After the lapse of an hour, the physician came out and went down stairs. Captain Fairfax was waiting for him in the hall, and drew him into the parlour, anxiously requesting to know his opinion. Perhaps he was really sanguine, and hoped the doctor's verdict might set his fears at rest. At any rate, he insisted upon knowing the precise state of the

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