He found a door of one of the stables unlocked, and went in, leading his horse. Within there was a smell of hay. He closed the door behind him, unsaddled, and fell to groping about in the dark. He wanted several armfuls of that hay, and he couldn’t find them. The hay kept calling to his nose, “Here I am, here I am”; but when he got there, it was hiding somewhere else. It was like a game of blindman’s-buff. Then he heard the munching of his horse and knew that the sought was found. He moved toward the horse, stepped on a rotten planking, and fell through the floor. Something caught his chin violently as he went through, and in a pool of filthy water, one leg doubled and broken under him, he passed the night as tranquilly as if he had been dosed with laudanum.
Aladdin came to consciousness in the early morning. He was about as sick as a man can be this side of actual dissolution, and the pain in his broken leg was as sharp as a scream. He lay groaning and doubled in the filthy half-inch of water into which he had fallen. About him was darkness, but overhead a glimmer of light showed a jagged and cruel hole in the planking of the stable floor. Very slowly, for his agony was unspeakable, he came to a realization of what had happened. He called for help, and his voice was thick and unresonant, like the voice of a drunken man. His horse heard him and neighed. Now and again he lapsed into semi-unconsciousness, and time passed without track. Hours passed, when suddenly the glimmer above him brightened, and he heard light footsteps and the cackling of hens. He called for help. Instantly there was silence. It continued a long time. Then he heard a voice like soft music, and the voice said, “Who’s there?”
A shadow came between him and the light, and a fair face that was darkened looked down upon him.
“For God’s sake take care,” he said. “Those boards are rotten.”
“You ’re a Yankee, aren’t you?” said the voice, sweetly.
“Yes,” said Aladdin, “and I’m badly hurt.”
The voice laughed.
“Hurt, are you?” it said.
“I think I’ve broken my leg,” said Aladdin. “Can you get some one to help me out of this?”
“Reckon you’re all right down there,” said the voice.
Aladdin revolved the brutality of it in his mind.
“Do you mean to say that you’re not going to help me?” he said.