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Maria. Will a skipping-rope do? There are two in the hall.
Robert. Yes, anything, only make haste. Bring them both. That's right, there is a useful girl! Now bring that high chair. Stay, we must clear the table and put the chair on the top of that. Here, Adelaide and Selina, take away your paper and work, and all come and help to push the table up to this wall. There ! That will do. Now I will get up and fasten this string across from that hook to the bookcase opposite.
Adelaide. But you have nothing to fasten the screen to the skipping-rope.
William. And nothing to pull it by, when it is up.
Robert. All in good time, only we want a great deal more string. Fetch in the string-box-or-stay! Here is a piece round the leg of this chair.
William. No, that is not half strong enough. You must get some stout cord. Maria. Would not our pocket-handkerchiefs do? Here is a piece of ribbon which Gerald had to draw his horse along with; I am sure we may have that; it is very broad and strong.
Robert passed the ribbon all round the screen, and tied it tightly. The screen was made of crimson moreen stretched upon a wooden frame, and it had a border of wood on one side, which projected a little; and, as the ribbon was tied below this, the screen was kept from slipping out of it. Then Robert took one skippingrope and tied it to the ribbon on one side of the screen, and the other skipping-rope he tied just opposite on the other side. Then he mounted the table, and climbed from thence into a chair. William and Adelaide got up after him on the table, and held the screen for him while he fastened one end of the skipping-rope to the hook upon which the picture was hung.
And now half the work seemed to be done, but not the most difficult half, as the
young people found presently; for the bookcase was far away at the other side of the room, and the table must travel across to help Robert up to the ceiling there. The screen, too, must be held up
in its place until the second string was tied.
After a few minutes' deliberation, the eager young people spied a small table, which certainly looked too frail to bear the weight of the chair with Robert upon it; but, after shaking it and examining it a little, they determined to run all risks. The table was brought, and the high chair placed upon it, and, with the necessary help from the others, Robert at last succeeded in stretching the skipping-rope and fastening it to the corner of the bookcase. But the fan, of course, hung quite still, and the question was how it should be moved backward and forward.
Maria proposed taking a stick and pushing it backward and forward, but Robert said they must certainly have strings by which to pull it. He asked for the girls' handkerchiefs, and, tying several together, fastened them with stout pins to the bottom of the screen; then, taking one himself, and giving the other to William, they stood at opposite ends of the room, and waved it to and fro by alternate pulls.
A shout of joy arose from the whole party as the fan swung above their heads; but before it had made many journeys, the hook upon which the picture hung gave way, and brought down, in one sudden fall, picture, fan, and all. The picture fell just below, and was not much injured; but the fan, with its many guides and ropes, fell heavily against the glass-door of one of the bookcases, and thence upon the head of poor little Maria.
The child screamed with pain. Ade
laide ran quickly to her, and began to soothe and comfort her. " What shall we do? Poor Maria is so much hurt. Call mother, do, as quick as you can.'
William. Do not be so frightened. Stay one moment, and set things to rights a little. Here is
handkerchief. Bind her head while we put this by. Here, Robert, hang up the picture if you can. I do not think it is the worse for its fall. Selina, put this screen by, up in that corner, if you can get the cords off. I should not like aunt to come and see the room in this confusion.
Robert. But you cannot keep Maria while you are doing all that; and what is the use of it? You cannot make her well.
William. O, we may just as well put these things by. I think Maria will be better soon, if her head is bathed. Shall I dip this handkerchief in water and try ? You do not want to get us all into trouble, do you?