The reply was a gasp of horror. "Oh! mussy me, you spoke too late! Wait jess a minute, Mr. March, I'll stan' up ag'in in a minute. I jess mus' set here a minute an' enjoy the view; it's gr-gran'!
"Yass, seh. I'se a-comin', seh. I'll rise up in a few minutes; I'm sick at my stomach, but it'll pass off if I kin jiss set still a shawt while tell it passes off."
The speaker slowly rose, grabbling the face of the rock.
"Mr. March, wait a minute, I w-want to tell you. Is-is-is you w-waitin'? Mr. March, this is pufficly safe and haza'dous, seh, I feels that, seh, but I don't like this runnin' away an' hidin'! It's cowardly; le's go down an' face the thing like men! I'm goin' to crawl down back 'ards; thass the skilfullest way."
"Halt!" growled John, and something else added "tick-tick."
"Oh! Mr. March, faw God's sake! Ef you mus' shoot me, shoot me whah I won't fall so fuh! Why, I was a-jokin'! I wa'n't a-dreamin' o' goin' back! Heah I come, seh, look out! Oh, please put up that-ah naysty-lookin' thing! – Thank you, seh! – Mr. March, escuse me jiss a minute whilse I epitomize my breath a little, seh, I jess want to recover my dizziness – This is fine, ain't it? Oh, Lawd! Mr. March, escuse my sinkin' down this a-way! Oh, don't disfunnish yo'seff to come back to me, seh; I's jiss faint and thusty. Mr. March, I ain't a-scared; I'm jiss a-parishin' o' thust! Lawd! I'm jiss that bole an' rackless I'd resk twenty lives faw jiss one hafe a finger o' pyo whiskey. I dunno what'll happm to me ef I don't git some quick. I ain't had a drap sence the night o' the ball, an' thass what make this-yeh flatulency o' the heart. Oh! please don't tech me; ev'm ef you lif' me I cayn't stan'. Oh, Lawd! the icy han' o' death is on me. I'll soon be in glory!"
"Glory!" answered an echo across the gorge.
John laughed. "We're nearly to the cave. If I have to carry you it 'll double the danger."
"Oh, yass, seh! you go on, I'll jine you. I jis wants a few minutes to myseff faw prayer."
"Cornelius," said the cautiously stooping youth, "I'm going to take you where I said I would, if I have to carry you there in three pieces. Here – wait – I'd better tote you on my back. Put your arms around my neck. Now give me your legs. That's it. Now, hold firm; one false step and over we go."
He slowly picked his way. Once he stopped, while a stone which had crumbled from under his tread went crashing through the bushes and into the yawning gulf. The footing was terribly narrow for several rods, but at length it widened. He crouched again. "Now, get off; the rest is only some steep climbing in the bushes."
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