Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/93

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"N'ETES VOUS PAS DU PARADIS?"

moved without sound. She knew what he must need—all of comfort or of aid that she could give—and folding one of the broad dock leaves cup-shape, she filled it at the bed of the torrent, and, raising his head, held the cold water to his parched and colourless lips.

Unconsciously, instinctively, he drank and drank, slaking the intolerable thirst; she filled it three times at the channel of the river, and he drained in new existence from that green forest-cup, from that fresh and icy water, held to him by his ministering angel. Then his head sank back, lying against her, resting on her arm; his eyes had not unclosed, he was senseless still, save that he was vaguely conscious of a sense of coolness, languor, rest, and peace; and the vultures on the rocks above looked down with ravenous impatience, waiting till the watcher should weary of her vigil, and their prey be their own again.

She would not have left him now though she should have died with him. She knew the lawless brutality of the mountain hordes of gipsies and of plunderers, well enough to know that in all likelihood those who had left him for dead might return to strip him of all that was of value on his person, and would slay her, without remorse or mercy, lest