Eleanor was feeling down in her pocket. Suddenly she gave a little cry of surprise. “O, girls! I have something that may help. Here is a little pair of scissors. You can dig with them, Madge.”
The girls hailed the scissors with exclamations of joy. They were very small embroidery scissors, but they were better than nothing.
Lillian, who was bent on a foraging expedition around the room, came back a moment later with a few big, rusty nails and an old brick she had picked up out of the tumbled down fireplace. “If you can hammer these nails in the wall, Madge, you will have something to hold on to as you climb.”
For two hours Madge alternately dug and climbed. In each hole that she made between the big logs she would set her foot, then hammer a nail above her head and dig a new opening. At last she actually did climb up the side of the wall, but her hands were scratched and bleeding, and her hair and face were covered with mud. She had taken off her dress skirt, too, as she could climb better in her petticoat.
The three girls below held their breath when she came to the final stretch, and let go the last rickety nail to fling herself on to the window sill.
“Eureka, girls!” she called down cheerfully, when she got her breath. She was holding tightly to the window frame with both hands and endeavoring to make her voice sound gay, though she was nearly worn out with the fatigue of her dangerous climb. “Now I shall surely find a way out for us. Please don’t be frightened, Nellie, darling, if I have to jump. It is not so bad.” She gave a little inward shudder as she looked through the tiny window frame. She could easily wrench the broken bars away. That was not the trouble. But the window was so small and the sill so narrow that Madge realized she could not get into the proper position for a forward spring. However, she had made up her mind; she might break her leg, or her arm, but she would open that barred door if she died in doing it.
With determined hands she wrenched at one of the window bars. It gave way. She seized hold of another, clinging to the sill with her other hand, her feet in their insecure resting places.
“It’s all right, chilluns,” she smiled, as she swung herself up to the window, “I’m going to jump.”
Eleanor had closed her eyes. Phil and Lillian watched their friend, sick with apprehension.
Madge gave one look down at the ground, at least fourteen feet below her. Then she uttered a quick, sharp cry, and dropped back to her resting place, her feet, almost by instinct, finding the open spaces in the wall.
“Come down, Madge,” called Phil sharply. “I was afraid you’d find the distance too great. Don’t try it again.”
“No, no, it is not that,” replied Madge, gazing through the window. “I don’t believe I shall have to jump. I am sure some one is near.”