With excessive caution the White Linen Nurse struggled up at last to a sitting posture, and gazed perplexedly around her.
It seemed to be a perfectly pleasant field,—acres and acres of mild old grass tottering palsiedly down to watch some skittish young violets and bluets frolic in and out of a giggling brook. Up the field? Up the field? Hazily the White Linen Nurse ground her knuckles into her incredulous eyes. Up the field, just beyond them, the great empty automobile stood amiably at rest. From the general appearance of the stone-wall at the top of the little grassy slope it was palpably evident that the car had attempted certain vain acrobatic feats before its failing momentum had forced it into the humiliating ranks of the back-sliders.
Still grinding her knuckles into her eyes the White Linen Nurse turned back to the Little Girl. Under the torn, twisted sable cap one little eye was hidden completely, but the other eye loomed up rakish and bruised as a prizefighter’s. One sable sleeve was wrenched disastrously from its arm-hole, and along the edge of the vivid little purple skirt the ill-favored white ruffles seemed to have raveled out into hopeless yards and yards and yards of Hamburg embroidery.
A trifle self-consciously the Little Girl began to gather herself together.
“We—we seem to have fallen out of something!” she confided with the air of one who halves a most precious secret.
“Yes, I know,” said the White Linen Nurse. “But what has become of—your Father?”
Worriedly for an instant the Little Girl sat scanning the remotest corners of the field. Then abruptly with a gasp of real relief she began to explore with cautious fingers the geographical outline of her black eye.
“Oh, never mind about Father,” she asserted cheerfully. “I guess—I guess he got mad and went home.”
“Yes—I know,” mused the White Linen Nurse. “But it doesn’t seem—probable.”
“Probable?” mocked the Little Girl most disagreeably. Then suddenly her little hand went shooting out towards the stranded automobile.
“Why, there he is!” she screamed. “Under the car! Oh, Look—Look—Lookey!”
Laboriously the White Linen Nurse scrambled to her knees. Desperately she tried to ram her fingers like a clog into the whirling dizziness round her temples.
“Oh, my God! Oh, my God! What’s the dose for anybody under a car?” she babbled idiotically.
Then with a really herculean effort,—both mental and physical, she staggered to her feet, and started for the automobile.
But her knees gave out, and wilting down to the grass she tried to crawl along on all-fours, till straining wrists sent her back to her feet again.
Whenever she tried to walk the Little Girl walked,—whenever she tried to crawl the Little Girl crawled.
“Isn’t it fun!” the shrill childish voice piped persistently. “Isn’t it just like playing ship-wreck!”