Enderby, call them back--I am very weak; I can't walk, I can't, indeed."
"Why, dear Mr. Brown! You do look pale; I am ashamed of myself that I didn't notice it sooner. Come back-all of you! Mr. Brown is not well. Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Brown?--I'm real sorry. Are you in pain?"
"No, madam, only weak; I am not sick, but only just weak--lately; not long, but just lately."
The others came back, and poured out their sympathies and commiserations, and were full of self-reproaches for not having noticed how pale he was.
And they at once struck out a new plan, and soon agreed that it was by far the best of all. They would all go to Nancy Taylor's house and see to Brown's needs first. He could lie on the sofa in the parlor, and while Mrs. Taylor and Mary took care of him the other two ladies would take the buggy and go and get one of the Old People, and leave one of themselves with the other one, and----
By this time, without any solicitation, they were at the horse's head and were beginning to turn him around. The danger was imminent, but Brown found his voice again and saved himself. He said--
"But ladies, you are overlooking something which makes the plan impracticable. You see, if you bring one of them home, and one remains behind with the other, there will be three persons there when one of you comes back for that other, for some one must drive the buggy back, and three can't come home in it."
They all exclaimed, "Why, sure-ly, that is so!" and they were, all perplexed again.
"Dear, dear, what can we do?" said Mrs. Glossop;" it is the most mixed- up thing that ever was. The fox and the goose and the corn and things-- oh, dear, they are nothing to it."
They sat wearily down once more, to further torture their tormented heads for a plan that would work. Presently Mary offered a plan; it was her first effort. She said:
"I am young and strong, and am refreshed, now. Take Mr. Brown to our house, and give him help--you see how plainly he needs it. I will go back and take care of the Old People; I can be there in twenty minutes. You can go on and do what you first started to do--wait on the main road at our house until somebody comes along with a wagon; then send and bring away the three of us. You won't have to wait long; the farmers will soon be coming back from town, now. I will keep old Polly patient and cheered up--the crazy one doesn't need it."
This plan was discussed and accepted; it seemed the best that could be done, in the circumstances, and the Old People must be getting discouraged by this time.
Brown felt relieved, and was deeply thankful. Let him once get to the main road and he would find a way to escape.
Then Mrs. Taylor said:
"The evening chill will be coming on, pretty soon, and those poor old burnt-out things will need some kind of covering. Take the lap-robe with you, dear."
"Very well, Mother, I will."
She stepped to the buggy and put out her hand to take it----
That was the end of the tale. The passenger who told it said that when he read the story twenty-five years ago in a train he was interrupted at that point--the train jumped off a bridge.
At first we thought we could finish the story quite easily, and we set to work with confidence; but it soon began to appear that it was not a simple thing, but difficult and baffling. This was on account of Brown's character--great generosity and kindliness, but complicated with unusual shyness and diffidence, particularly in the presence of ladies. There was his love for Mary, in a hopeful state but not yet secure--just in a condition, indeed, where its affair must be handled with great tact, and no mistakes made, no offense given. And there was the mother wavering, half willing-by adroit and flawless diplomacy to be won over, now, or perhaps never at all. Also, there were the helpless Old People yonder in the woods waiting-their fate and Brown's happiness to be determined by what Brown should do within the next two seconds. Mary was reaching for the lap-robe; Brown must decide-there was no time to be lost.