Poopy, whose wits were sharpened by love, at once took advantage of her opportunity. She crept on all fours towards the rock on which Alice lay, in such a manner that it came between her person and the savage.
“Missy Alice! O, Missy Alice! quick! look up! it’s me—Poopy,” said the girl, raising her head cautiously above the edge of the rock.
Alice started up on one elbow, and was about to utter a scream of delight and surprise, when her sable friend laid her black paw suddenly on the child’s pretty mouth, and effectually shut it up.
“Hush! Alice; no cry. Savage hear and come back—kill Poopy bery much quick. Listen. Me all alone. You bery clibber. Dry up eyes, no cry any more. Look happy. God will save you. Poopy nebber leave you as long as got her body in her soul.”
Just at this point, Keona rose from his recumbent position, and the girl, who had not suffered her eyes to move from him for a single instant, at once sunk behind the rock and crept so silently away that Alice could scarcely persuade herself she had not been dreaming.
The savage returned, took the child’s hand, led her over the brow of the mountain, and began to descend, by a steep, rugged path, to the valleys lying on the other side of the island. But before going a hundred yards down the dark gorge—which was rendered all the darker by the approach of night—he turned abruptly aside, entered the mouth of a cavern, and disappeared.
Poopy was horrified at this unexpected and sudden change in the state of things. For a long time she lay closely hid among the rocks, within twenty yards of the cave’s mouth, expecting every moment to see the fugitives issue from its dark recesses. But they did not reappear. All at once it occurred to the girl that there might possibly be an exit from the cavern at the other end of it, and that, while she was idly waiting there, her little mistress and her savage captor might be hastening down the mountain far beyond her reach.
Rendered desperate by this idea, she quitted her place of concealment, and ran recklessly into the cavern. But the place was dark as Erebus, and the ground was so rugged that she tripped and fell before she had advanced into it more than fifty yards.
Bruised by the fall, and overawed by the gloom of her situation, the poor girl lay still for some time where she had fallen, with bated breath, and listening intently; but no sound struck her ear save the beating of her own heart, which appeared to her unnaturally loud. Under an impulse of terror, she rose, and ran back into the open air.
Here it occurred to her that she might perhaps find the other outlet to the cave,—supposing that one really existed,—by going round the hill and carefully examining the ground on the other side. This, however, was a matter requiring considerable time, and it was not until a full hour had expired that she returned to the mouth of the cave, and sat down to rest and consider what should be done next.