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What Becomes of the Pins
by [?]

“Now she was calling to the people in the street to put up a ladder, and, as she leaned and called, I could see the crowds far down, the smoke and flame bursting out below, and hear the hiss of water as it fell upon the blazing walls. It was a most exciting moment, as we hung there, watching the gallant men fix the long ladder, and one come climbing up till we could see his brave face, and hear him shout cheerily,–

“‘Swing from the window-sill, I’ll catch you.’

“But Cora answered, as she showed the little yellow head that shone in the red glare,–

“‘No, save the child first!’

“‘Drop her then, and be quick: it’s hot work here,’ and the man held up his arms with a laugh, as the flames licked out below as if to eat away the frail support he stood on.

“All in one breathless moment, Cora had torn off the mantle, wrapped the child in it, bound her girdle about it, and finding the gaudy band would not tie, caught out the first pin that came to hand, and fastened it. I was that pin; and I felt that the child’s life almost depended upon me, for as the precious bundle dropped into the man’s hands he caught it by the cloak, and, putting it on his shoulder, went swiftly down. The belt strained, the velvet tore, I felt myself bending with the weight, and expected every minute to see the child slip, and fall on the stones below. But I held fast, I drove my point deeply in, I twisted myself round so that even the bend should be a help, and I called to the man, ‘Hold tight, I’m trying my best, but what can one pin do!’

“Of course he did not hear me, but I really believe my desperate efforts were of some use; for, we got safely down, and were hurried away to the hospital where other poor souls had already gone.

“The good nurse who undid that scorched, drenched, and pitiful bundle, stuck me in her shawl, and resting there, I saw the poor child laid in a little bed, her burns skilfully cared for, and her scattered senses restored by tender words and motherly kisses. How glad I was to hear that she would live, and still more rejoiced to learn next day that Cora was near by, badly burned but not in danger, and anxious to see the child she had saved.

“Nurse Benson took the little thing in her arms to visit my poor mistress, and I went too. But alas! I never should have known the gay and blooming girl of the day before. Her face and hands were terribly burnt, and she would never again be able to play the lovely queen on any stage, for her fresh beauty was forever lost.

“Hard days for all of us; I took my share of trouble with the rest, though I only suffered from the strain to my back. Nurse Benson straightened me out and kept me in use, so I saw much of pain and patience in that great house, because the little gray shawl which I fastened covered a tender heart, and on that motherly bosom many aching heads found rest, many weary creatures breathed their last, and more than one unhappy soul learned to submit.

“Among these last was poor Cora, for it was very hard to give up beauty, health, and the life she loved, so soon. Yet I do not think she ever regretted the sacrifice when she saw the grateful child well and safe, for little Sally was her best comforter, and through the long weeks she lay there half blind and suffering, the daily visit of the little one cheered her more than anything else. The poor mother was lost in the great fire, and Cora adopted the orphan as her own, and surely she had a right to what she had so dearly bought.