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21. Chapter XXI. (continued)
"Oh! Judith," exclaimed the weak minded girl, as soon as their first care had been bestowed on sufferer. "Father went for scalps, himself, and now where is his own? The Bible might have foretold this dreadful punishment!"
"Hush, Hetty - hush, poor sister - He opens his eyes; he may hear and understand you. 'Tis as you say and think, but 'tis too dreadful to speak."
"Water," ejaculated Hutter, as it might be by a desperate effort, that rendered his voice frightfully deep and strong for one as near death as he evidently was - "Water - foolish girls - will you let me die of thirst?"
Water was brought and administered to the sufferer; the first he had tasted in hours of physical anguish. It had the double effect of clearing his throat and of momentarily reviving his sinking system. His eyes opened with that anxious, distended gaze which is apt to accompany the passage of a soul surprised by death, and he seemed disposed to speak.
"Father," said Judith, inexpressibly pained by his deplorable situation, and this so much the more from her ignorance of what remedies ought to be applied - "Father, can we do any thing for you? Can Hetty and I relieve your pain?"
"Father!" slowly repeated the old man. "No, Judith; no, Hetty -I'm no father. She was your mother, but I'm no father. Look in the chest - Tis all there - give me more water."
The girls complied, and Judith, whose early recollections extended farther back than her sister's, and who on every account had more distinct impressions of the past, felt an uncontrollable impulse of joy as she heard these words. There had never been much sympathy between her reputed father and herself, and suspicions of this very truth had often glanced across her mind, in consequence of dialogues she had overheard between Hutter and her mother. It might be going too far to say she had never loved him, but it is not so to add that she rejoiced it was no longer a duty. With Hetty the feeling was different. Incapable of making all the distinctions of her sister, her very nature was full of affection, and she had loved her reputed parent, though far less tenderly than the real parent, and it grieved her now to hear him declare he was not naturally entitled to that love. She felt a double grief, as if his death and his words together were twice depriving her of parents. Yielding to her feelings, the poor girl went aside and wept.
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