“Oh, am I,—no, not dead? Please help me—up and home.”
“Yes, I’ll take you home in just a jiffy. Do you feel a little better? Can you sit still here, please, till I see about George? Just a moment?”
Again the boy went down the hill, now toward the tool house; he was brave enough, but a sort of horror gripped him as he rounded the corner of the little shack. What, then, was his relief when he found the watchman on his feet, a bit uncertain about his balance and leaning against the door frame. It was evident from the way he held his club that he meant not to desert his post and that he believed his late assailant was returning. At sight of Gus, the colored man’s relief showed in his drawn face.
“Mist’ Gus! It’s you, honey! My Lawd! Ah done been shot! By the ghos’, Mist’ Gus, whut ain’t nothin’ no mo’n dat low-down, no ‘count nephew o’ ol’ Mist’ Hooper’s. Ah reckon Ah’s gwine die, but Ah ain’t yit—not ef he’s comin’ back!”
“Good boy, George! You’re the stuff! But you’re not going to die and he’s not coming back. He lit out like a rabbit. Come now; we’ll go to a doctor and then—”
“Reckon Ah can’t do it. Got hit in de hip some’ers; makes mah leg total wuthless. You-all go on an’ Ah’ll git me some res’ yere till mawnin’.”
“And maybe bleed nearly to death! No, I’ll be back for you in no time,—as soon as I get Miss Grace home. She’s on the hill there. She came out to watch that cousin of hers. You hang on till I get back.”
Grace tried to show her usual energy, but seemed nearly overcome by fatigue. She made no complaint, but presently Gus saw that she was crying, and that scared him. In his inexperience he could not know that it was only overwrought nerves. He felt he must make speed in carrying out his intentions to get help to George and put the authorities on the track of Thad. Gus could see but one thing to do properly and his natural diffidence was cast aside by his generous and kindly nature.
“Let me give you a lift, as I do Bill, sometimes,” he said, and drew the girl’s arm over his shoulder, supporting her with his other arm. In a second or two they were going on at a rather lively pace. In a few minutes they had reached the house. Grace entered and called loudly. Her father and mother appeared instantly in the hallway above. The girl, half way up the stairway, told of the incidents at the power plant and added:
“Thad boasted to me that he was going to give the boys a lot more trouble, and I watched and saw him leave the house. So I followed, hoping to stop him, and after he shot George he ran into me and was so angry that he struck me. I wish I had had a pistol! I would have—”
“Gracie, dear little girl! You mustn’t wish to kill or wound anyone! Oh, are you hurt? Come, dear—”
“I’ll be with you right off, me boy!” said Mr. Hooper to Gus, and presently they were in the library alone.