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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Frank Baum > Fairy tale "Aunt Jane's Nieces"

Aunt Jane's Nieces

In a moment he was over the edge, clutching wildly at the

plank, which was a foot or more beyond his reach. Headforemost he

dove into space, but the clutching hand found something at last--the

projecting hook of an old eaves-trough that had long since been

removed--and to this he clung fast in spite of the jerk of his

arrested body, which threatened to tear away his grip.

But his plight was desperate, nevertheless. He was dangling in space,

the hard pavement thirty feet below him, with no possible way of

pulling himself up to the roof again. And the hook was so small that

there was no place for his other hand. The only way he could cling

to it at all was to grasp his wrist with the free hand as a partial

relief from the strain upon his arm.

"Hold fast!" called Patsy. "I'm coming."

She sprang up the steps, through the boy's room and into the hallway.

There she quickly perceived the ladder, and mounted it to the roof.

Taking in the situation at a glance she ran with steady steps down

the sloping roof to where the plank lay, and stepped out upon it far

enough to see the boy dangling beside her. Then she decided instantly

what to do.

"Hang on!" she called, and returning to the roof dragged the end of

the plank to a position directly over the hook. Then she lay flat upon

it, an arm on either side of the plank, and reaching down seized one

of the boy's wrists firmly in each hand.

"Now, then," said she, "let go the hook."

"If I do," answered the boy, his white face upturned to hers, "I'll

drag you down with me."

"No you won't. I'm very strong, and I'm sure I can save you. Let go,"

she said, imperatively.

"I'm not afraid to die," replied the boy, his voice full of

bitterness. "Take away your hands, and I'll drop."

But Patsy gripped him more firmly than ever.

"Don't be a fool!" she cried. "There's no danger whatever, if you do

just what I tell you."

His eyes met hers in a mute appeal; but suddenly he gained confidence,

and resolved to trust her. In any event, he could not cling to the

hook much longer.

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