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     Rescued

A little girl whose parents had died lived with her grandmother and slept
in an upstairs bedroom. 

One night there was a fire in the house and the grandmother perished while
trying to rescue the child.  The fires spread quickly, and the first floor
was engulfed in flames.  Neighbors called the fire department, then stood
helplessly by, unable to enter the house because flames blocked all the
entrances.  The little girl appeared at an upstairs window, crying for
help, just as word spread among the crowd that firefighters would be
delayed a few minutes because they were all at another fire. 

Suddenly, a man appeared with a ladder, put it up against the side of the
house and disappeared inside.  When he appeared, he had the little girl in
his arms.  He delivered the child to the waiting arms below, then
disappeared into the night. 

An investigation revealed that the child had no living relatives, and
weeks later a meeting was held in the town hall to determine who would
take the child into their home and bring her up.  A teacher said she would
raise the child.  She pointed out she could ensure her a good education. 
A farmer offered her an upbringing on his farm.  He pointed out that
living on a farm was healthy and satisfying.  Others spoke, giving their
reasons why it was to the child's advantage to live with them. 

Finally, the town's richest resident arose and said, "I can give this
child all the advantages that you have mentioned here, plus money and
everything money can buy." 

Throughout all this, the child remained silent, her eyes on the floor. 

"Does anyone else want to speak?" asked the meeting chairman.  A man came
forward from the back of the hall.  His gait was slow and he seemed in
pain.  When he got to the front of the room, he stood directly before the
little girl and held out his arms.  The crowd gasped.  His hand and arms
were terribly scarred. 

The child cried out, "This is the man who rescued me!"  With a leap, she
threw her arms around the man's neck, holding on for dear life, just as
she had that fateful night.  She buried her face on his shoulder and
sobbed for a few moments.  Then she looked up and smiled at him. 

"This meeting is adjourned," said the chairman.
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