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BRAVE BESSIE WESTLAND.
A QUAKER HOUSEHOLD.
"HUSH, hush, Dorothy! Thee must not cry, for fear they should hear thee, and come and look for us. The Lord will take care of us, now He hath called mother and father to witness for the truth."
These words were spoken in a whisper to the little sister who lay trembling in her arms, but there was something like a gasping sob in Bessie Westland's voice, though she tried to speak bravely and calmly, for fear the two younger sisters should grow more frightened.
But the mention of their mother brought back all the trouble, and in spite of the warning words both burst into tears, while Dorothy sobbed out--
"Oh, where have the cruel soldiers taken mother? Will they burn her, think ye, Bessie?"
"Nay, nay, the Smithfield burnings are ended; there have been none of late. King Charles--"
"Down with the Quakers!" shouted a hoarse voice close to their hiding-place, and Bessie, who was holding the string of the cellar door, felt her whole body shake with terror, for if the mob should find them there was no telling what they might do. So with the cellar door string in one hand, she held the frightened children close to her with the other, as they sat cowering in the dark, and listening to the angry threats of their rude neighbours, whom her father had so often warned to flee from the wrath to come.
"Turn out the rats' nest!" called another voice; and it was clear, from the sound of trampling feet and the breaking of furniture, that the mob were doing their best to fulfil the threats of vengeance against the unfortunate Quakers.
"King Charles has let us see now who are the law-breakers, and who gets their ears slit off," said a man who had posted himself close to the cellar door, while the rest ransacked cupboards and chests for what they could find, as nobody was likely to bring them to account for sacking the house of a convict Quaker.
They seemed to have forgotten the children who were hiding in the cellar, for this man stood with his back against the door and talked, while the rest searched every room and corner, evidently thinking that it was their lawful spoil, now that the owners had been carried off to prison.
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