“Under a tree is the very worst place to be in a thunderstorm,” said Stella, lifting her white, little face, and staring at the girls with big, scared eyes.
Just then another terrible crash and flash made them all grasp each other again, and then, without further restraint, they all cried together.
The storm increased. The winds simply raged, and though the old maple-trees were too sturdy to shake much, yet the little house swayed some, and all about could be heard the cracking and snapping of branches.
“I think—” began Molly, but even as she spoke there came the loudest crash of all. It was the splitting of the heavens, and with it came a fierce, sudden flash of flame that blinded them all.
The girls fell apart from one another through the mere shock, and when Molly and Midge dazedly opened their eyes, they saw Stella crumpled in a little heap on the floor.
“Is she dead?” screamed Molly. “Oh, Marjorie, is she dead?”
“I don’t know,” said Marjorie, whose face was almost as white as Stella’s, as she leaned over the unconscious little girl.
Although they tried, they couldn’t quite manage to lift Stella up on the couch, so Marjorie sat down on the floor and took the poor child’s head on her knee, while Molly ran for water.
“I’m sure it’s right to douse people with water when they faint,” said Molly, as she sprinkled Stella’s face liberally; “and she is only in a faint, isn’t she, Marjorie? Because if people are really struck by lightning they burn up, don’t they, Marjorie?”
While she talked, Molly was excitedly pouring water promiscuously over Stella, until the child looked as if she had been out in the storm.
Marjorie was patting Stella’s cheek and rubbing her hands, but it all seemed of no avail; and, though Stella was breathing softly, they could not restore her to consciousness.
“It’s dreadful,” said Marjorie, turning to Molly with a look of utter despair, “and we must do something! It isn’t right for us two little girls to try to take care of Stella. We must get Grandma here, somehow.”
“But how can we?” said Molly. “The ladder is down, you know, and we can’t possibly get down from the house. I’d try to jump, but it’s fifteen feet, and I’d be sure to break some bones, and we’d be worse off than ever.”
The two girls were too frightened to cry; they were simply appalled by the awful situation and at their wits’ end to know what to do.
“It was bad enough,” wailed Marjorie, “when we were all wide awake and could be frightened together; but with Stella asleep, or whatever she is, it’s perfectly horrible.”
“She isn’t asleep,” said Molly, scrutinizing the pale little face, “but she’s stunned with the shock, and I’m sure I don’t know what to do. We ought to have smelling-salts, or something, to bring her to.”