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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAladdin O'brien - Book 2 - Chapter 25
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Aladdin O'brien - Book 2 - Chapter 25 Post by :tomfra Category :Long Stories Author :Gouverneur Morris Date :May 2012 Read :1891

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Aladdin O'brien - Book 2 - Chapter 25

BOOK II CHAPTER XXV

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.

"Help you? Why should I?"

Aladdin groaned, and could have killed himself for groaning.

"If you don't help me," he said, and his voice broke, for he was suffering tortures, "I'll die before long."

A perfectly cool and cruel "Well?" came back to him.

"You won't help me?"

"No."

Anger surged in his heart, but he spoke with measured sarcasm.

"Then," he said, "will you at least do me the favor of getting from between me and God's light? If I die, I may go to hell, but I prefer not to see devils this side of it, thank you."

The girl went away, but presently came back. She lowered something to him on a string. "I got it out of one of your holsters," she said.

Aladdin's fingers closed on the butt of a revolver.

"It may save you a certain amount of hunger and pain," she said. "When you are dead, we will give it to one of our men, and your horse too. He's a beauty."

"I hope to God he may--" began Aladdin.

"Pretty!" said the girl.

She went away, and he heard her clucking to the chickens. After a time she came back. Aladdin was waiting with a plan.

"Don't move," he said, "or you'll be shot."

"Rubbish!" said the girl. She leaned casually back from the hole, and he could hear her moving away and clucking to the chickens. Again she returned.

"Thank you for not shooting," she said.

There was no answer.

"Are you dead?" she said.

When he came to, there was a bright light in Aladdin's eyes, for a lantern swung just to the left of his head.

"I thought you were dead," said the girl, still from her point of advantage. The lantern's light was in her face, too, and Aladdin saw that it was beautiful.

"Won't you help me?" he said plaintively.

"Were you ever told that you had nice eyes?" said the girl.

Aladdin groaned.

"It bores you to be told that?"

"My dear young lady," said Aladdin, "if you were as kind as you are beautiful--"

"How about your horse kicking me to a certain place? That was what you started to say, you know."

"Lady--lady," said Aladdin, "if you only knew how I'm suffering, and I'm just an ordinary young man with a sweetheart at home, and I don't want to die in this hole. And now that I look at you," he said, "I see that you're not so much a girl as an armful of roses."

"Are you by any chance--Irish?" said the girl, with a laugh.

"Faith and of ahm that," said Aladdin, lapsing into full brogue; "oi'm a hireling sojer, mahm, and no inimy av yours, mahm."

"What will you do for me if I help you?" said the girl.

"Anything," said Aladdin.

"Will you say 'God save Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America,' and sing 'Dixie'--that is, if you can keep a tune. 'Dixie''s rather hard."

"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.

"No."

"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.

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BOOK II CHAPTER XXVIII"Peter," said Aladdin, presently, "it seems to me that for two such old friends we are lacking in confidence. I know precisely what you are thinking about, and you know precisely what I am. We mustn't play the jealous rivals to the last; and to put it plainly, Peter, if God is going to be good to you instead of me, why, I'm going to try and thank God just the same. A personal disappointment is a purely private matter and has no license to upset old ties and affections. Does it occur to you that we are
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BOOK II CHAPTER XXIVThe tedious locomotion of an army and the incessant reluctance of the battle to be met will try a sinner; but a scarcity of tobacco and constantly wet feet will try a saint. Aladdin was somewhat of both. But in the fidgety gloom which presently settled upon man and beast, his, great Irish gift of cheerfulness shone like a star. He even gave up longing for promotion, and strained his mind to the cracking-point for humorous verses and catching tunes. He went singing up the Peninsula, and thumped the gay banjo by the camp-fire, and was greatly beloved
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