At length she managed to sob out, “It’s the devvil, pa; the devvil’s in our well, an’ he hollered at me, an’ I drapped the bucket an’ run.”
At these words Frank sprang to his feet, exclaiming, “What! a voice in the well? And you said it was a natural well, mister? Oh, Jan, can it be?” And then turning fiercely to the man, “Show us to the well, man, quick! What do you sit there staring for?”
Without waiting for a reply he rushed from the door, and running along a little pathway leading from it, was in another minute lying flat on the ground, looking down a hole of about six feet in diameter, and shouting, “Halloo! down there.”
Yes, there was an answer, and it was, “Help! he-l-p!”
The two men had followed Frank from the house, and Jan had been thoughtful enough to bring with him the Manila rope that had hung at the pommel of Frank’s saddle.
There was no need for words now. Frank hastily knotted the rope under his arms, handed it to Jan, and saying, “Haul up gently when I call,” slipped over the curb and disappeared.
One, two, three minutes passed after the rope slackened in their hands, showing that Frank had reached the bottom, and then those at the top heard, clear and loud from the depths, “Haul away gently.”
Very carefully they pulled on that rope, and up, up, up towards the sunlight that his strained eyes had never thought to see again, came Mark Elmer.
When Jan, strong as an ox, but tender as a woman, leaned over the curb and lifted the limp, dripping figure, as it were from the grave, he burst into tears, for he thought the boy was dead. He was still and white, the merry brown eyes were closed, and he did not seem to breathe.
But another was down there, so they laid Mark gently on the grass, and again lowered the rope into the well.
The figure that appeared as they pulled up this time was just as wet as the other, but full of life and energy.
“Carry him into the house, Jan. He isn’t dead. He was alive when I got to him. Put him in a bed, and wrap him up in hot blankets. Rub him with whiskey! slap his feet!—anything!—only fetch him to, while I go for help.”
With these words Frank March, wet as a water-spout, and more excited than he had ever been in his life, sprang on his horse and was off like a whirlwind.
That that ride did not kill the horse was no fault of Frank’s; for when he was reined sharply up in the “Go Bang” yard, and his rider sprang from his back and into the house at one leap, he staggered and fell, white with foam, and with his breath coming in gasps.
In the sitting-room Mr. Elmer was just trying to break the news of Mark’s death to his wife as gently as possible, when the door was flung open, and Frank, breathless, hatless, dripping with water, and pale with excitement, burst into the room shouting,
“He’s alive!—he’s alive and safe!”