“Oh! Can you, Estralla?”
Sylvia’s voice was very near to tears. She had forgotten all about the importance of the message she had safely delivered. All she wanted now was to be inside this dear safe house where her mother and father were sleeping, not knowing that their little girl, cold and sleepy, was shut out.
“I ‘spec’s I can,” Estralla answered. “You jes’ stay quiet, an’ in ’bout four shakes of a lamb’s tail I’se gwine to open de door, an’ in yo’ walks.”
There was a little scrambling noise among the stout vines which ran up the pillars of the porch as Estralla started to carry out her plan. A cat, or a fluttering bird, would have hardly made more commotion. Sylvia listened eagerly. Suppose the porch window was fastened? she thought fearfully. It seemed a very long time before the front door opened, and Estralla reached out and clutched at the brown cape.
Noiselessly they crept up the stairs, Estralla leading the way. It was she who opened the door of Sylvia’s room, and then with a whispered “Yo’se all right now, Missy,” closed it behind her.
Sylvia hung up the brown cape in the closet, and slipped off her dress. She was soon in bed and fast asleep, and it was late the next morning before she awoke—so late that her father had breakfasted and gone to his warehouse; Estralla had been sent on an errand, and Mrs. Fulton decided that Sylvia should have a holiday.
“You seem tired, dear child,” she said a little anxiously, as Sylvia said that she did not want to go to walk; that she had rather sit still.
“I guess I am tired,” acknowledged the little girl, and was quite content to sit by the window with a story-book, instead of giving Estralla a lesson.
“If it had not been for Estralla I don’t know what would have happened to me last night,” she thought. She wondered who had closed and fastened the front door, but dared not ask.
Grace and Flora were to come early that afternoon, as soon after school as possible, and Flora had sent Sylvia a note that she would bring her lace-work and give her a lesson. By noon Sylvia felt rested, and was looking eagerly forward to her friends’ visit. She began to feel that she was a very fortunate little girl to have had the chance to do something that might help, as Mr. Doane had said, to give the black people their freedom. She only wished that she could tell her mother and father of the midnight journey.
“But I will ask Mrs. Carleton the next time I go to the fort to let me tell Mother,” she resolved.
A HAPPY AFTERNOON
Grace was the first to arrive, and she declared that she wished that she was in Sylvia’s place and need not go to school another day.
The two little friends stood at the window watching for Flora, and it was not long before they saw her coming up the walk, closely followed by her black “Mammy,” who was carrying two baskets. One of these seemed very heavy.