“I swear upon this Holy Book,” said she, “that this hand of mine is the one that stabbed Lot Gordon. I swear, and I call God to witness, and may I be struck dead as I speak if what I say is not true. Now do you believe what I say, Dorothy Fair?”
Dorothy looked at her and the Bible in bewildered terror. She nodded.
Something like joy came into Madelon’s face. “Then we will save him, you and I!” she cried out. “We will save him together! He shall not be hung! He shall be set free! They shall let him out of jail to-day, and put me there instead. We will save him! He would not own that I was guilty and he innocent; Lot would not own it, nor my brother Richard, but now—we will save him—now!”
“How?” asked Dorothy, feebly.
“He will own it to you. Burr will own it to you if you go and plead with him. He can’t help owning it to you. And then you shall go to Lot, and when you ask him for your sake, that you may marry Burr, if he knows Burr has told you, and does not care about me, he will speak. He will be sure to speak for you. Come!”
Dorothy raised herself on one elbow and stared at Madelon, her yellow hair falling about her fair startled face. “Where?” said she.
“With me to New Salem.”
“To New Salem?”
“Yes, to New Salem—to see Burr.”
“But I am ill, and the doctor has bid me stay in bed. I have been ill ever since the ball with a headache and fever.”
“You talk about headache and fever when Burr is there in prison! I tell you if my two feet were cut off I would walk to him on the stumps to set him free!”
“How can I go?” said Dorothy. Her blue eyes kindled a little under Madelon’s fiery zeal.
“We will take your father’s horse and sleigh.”
“But the horse is gone lame, and has not been used for a month.”
“I will get one from Dexter Beers at the tavern,” said Madelon, promptly. “I will lead him over here and harness him into the sleigh.”
“My father will not let me go,” said Dorothy.
“He is a minister of the gospel—he will let his daughter go to save a life.”
“I tell you he will not,” said Dorothy. “I know my father better than you. He will not let me go out when I am ill. It is freezing cold, too. If I go I must go without his knowledge and consent.”
“I am going without my father’s,” said Madelon, shortly, “and I go at a greater cost than that, too.”
“It’s the second time I have deceived and disobeyed my father in a week’s time,” Dorothy said.
“You talk about your father when it is Burr—Burr—that’s at stake!” Madelon cried out. “What is your father to Burr if you love him? That ought to go before anything else. It says so in your Bible—it says so in your Bible, Dorothy Fair!”