“I’ll ’God bless Jefferson Davis and every future President of the Confederate States, if there are any,’ ten million times, if you’ll help me out, and—”
“Will you promise not to fight any more?”
A long silence.
“You needn’t do the other things either,” said the girl, presently. Her voice, oddly enough, was husky.
“I thought it would be good to see a Yankee suffer,” she said after a while, “but it isn’t.”
“If you could let a ladder down,” said Aladdin, “I might be able to get up it.”
“I’ll get one,” said the girl. Then she appeared to reflect. “No,” she said; “we must wait till dark. There are people about, and they’d kill you. Can you live in that hole till dark?”
“If you could throw down a lot of hay,” said Aladdin. “It’s very wet down here and hard.”
The girl went, and came with a bundle of hay.
“Look out for the lantern,” she called, and threw the hay down to him. She brought, in all, seven large bundles and was starting for the eighth, when, by a special act of Providence, the flooring gave again, and she made an excellent imitation of Aladdin’s shute on the previous evening. By good fortune, however, she landed on the soft hay and was not hurt beyond a few scratches.
“Did you notice,” she said, with a little gasp, “that I didn’t scream?”
“You aren’t hurt, are you?” said Aladdin.
“No,” she said; “but—do you realize that we can’t get out, now?”
She made a bed of the hay.
“You crawl over on that,” she said.
Aladdin bit his lips and groaned as he moved.
“It’s really broken, isn’t it?” said the girl. Aladdin lay back gasping.
“You poor boy,” she said.
The girl borrowed Aladdin’s pocket-knife and began whittling at a fragment of board. Then she tore several yards of ruffle from her white petticoat, cut his trouser leg off below the knee, cut the lacings of his boot, and bandaged his broken leg to the splint she had made. All that was against a series of most courteous protests, made in a tearful voice.
When she had done, Aladdin took her hand in his and kissed the fingers.
“They’re the smallest sisters of mercy I ever saw,” said he. She made no attempt to withdraw her hand.
“It was stupid of me to fall through,” she said.
“Isn’t there any possible way of getting out?”
“No; the walls are stone.”
“O Lord!” said Aladdin.
“I’m glad I repented before I fell through,” said the girl.
“So am I,” said Aladdin.
“What were you doing in our stable?” said the girl.
“I got lost, and came in for shelter.”
“You came to the house first. I heard you knocking, and saw you from the window. But I wouldn’t let you in, because my father and brother were away, and besides, I knew you were a Yankee.”