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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 427



giddy party should defer their return till darkness had in-creased the danger of the mountain path. She gazed in every direction, and listened intently to every sound. The breeze rustled the branches, and the river gurgled on its way, but all else was still. Suddenly she perceived on the extremity of the cliff, the rocks of which sank sheer down to the water's edge, her maidens hurrying to the rescue of a lamb, that, having strayed from the care of the shepherd, startled the echoes with its piteous cries. Agnes was fore-most, and as she tripped along unconscious of the abyss which the pendant foliage concealed from her sight, and clasped the snowy foundling to her lovely breast, her slight figure bathed in the bright gold of the western sky seemed the impersonation of the angel of mercy. With a glad shout of exultation she turned to exhibit her prize, when the treacherous earth gave way beneath her feet, and with her fleecy burden she was precipitated into the stream, nearly opposite the spot which the queen, breathless with alarm, had just reached. Screams of helpless terror rent the air. The squires ran each in a different direction, hoping to find some point from which they could descend the cliff, while the poor girl floated rapidly down the stream, rising and sinking with the swelling waves. Quick as thought, Eleanora caught up a fallen branch that lay upon the bank, and extended it for her rescue. The drowning Agnes seized it with one hand, and the queen, with great exertion, had drawn her almost to the shore, when the frail support gave way, and the mad waters again enveloped her form. As she sank, the animal struggled from her grasp and gained the bank. " Save her ! Oh God in mercy save her !" exclaimed Elea-nora, clasping her hands in agony. At this moment a solitary pedestrian turning an angle in the path, approached, and attracted by the cry of distress quickened his pace. "There! there!" exclaimed the queen, pointing with a frantic gesture to the spot whore Agnes had disappeared. Without a word, the stranger threw his staff and cloak upon the ground, and plunged into the stream. But the rapa- ELEANOßA. 443


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