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Kit had succeeded in getting a little sleep during the night, but his position was necessarily constrained and he was but very slightly refreshed. Moreover he was a prey to anxiety, for he did not know what fate awaited him on the succeeding day.
At four o'clock in the morning a little light found its way into the cabin through a small window at the rear. The other windows were boarded up.
Kit, appreciating the desirability of escaping before a visit should be made him by his captors, tried hard to work himself out of his bonds, but only succeeded in confining himself more closely than before.
"What will they do to me?" he asked himself anxiously.
He had heard from some of the circus men accounts of the roughness and brutality of the miners, or at least of a certain class of them, for some were quiet and peaceable men, and he knew that there was no extreme of which they were not capable. Life is sweet, and to a boy of sixteen, in good health and strength, it is especially dear. Suppose he should lose his life in this region? Probably none of his friends would ever learn what had become of him, and his uncle and cousin would not scruple to spread rumors to his discredit.
It was certainly tantalizing that he should be tied hand and foot, utterly unable to help himself.
More and more light crept in at the window, and there was every indication of its being a glorious day. But this prospect brought no pleasure to poor Kit.
"Before this time the circus people must have found out my absence," he thought. "Will they take the trouble to look for me?"
Kit was on good terms with his comrades, indeed he was popular with them all, as a bright boy is apt to be, and he did not like to think that no effort would be made to find him. Still, as he could not help owning to himself, they had no clew that was likely to lead to success. He had given no one notice where he was going, and his capture was not likely to have been observed by any one.
While he was indulging in these sorrowful reflections, his attention was drawn to a noise at the window.
"They can't have come back so early," he said to himself in surprise.
He twisted himself round to catch a glimpse, if possible, of the early visitor, and to his delight, he caught a partial view of Janet's dress. Suppose she should prove a deliverer, he said to himself with beating heart.
The visitor, whoever it was, was evidently trying to peer into the cabin. Kit was so placed in a corner as to be almost out of sight in the dark interior. He felt that he must attract attention.
"Hallo, there!" he cried in a loud clear voice.
"He's there!" thought Janet, "just as father said."
"Let me out!" cried Kit, eagerly. "Draw out the bolt, and open the door!"
"Will she do it, or will she be frightened away?" he asked himself, with his heart filled with suspense.
He did not have long to wait for an answer, and a favorable one. He heard the bolt withdrawn, then the door was opened, and the girl's face appeared. Janet Hayden was small, not especially pretty, and rather old-fashioned in looks, but to poor Kit she seemed like an angel.
"Are you the circus boy?" she asked timidly.
"Yes; I am tied here. Have you got a knife to cut this rope?"
"Yes; I brought one with me."
"Then you knew I was here?" Kit asked in surprise.
"Yes; it was my father that locked you up here—my father and another man."
"Will you cut the rope and let me go, then?"
"Yes; that is what I came for."
The little maid went up to the captive, bent over, and with considerable sawing, for the knife she had with her was a dull case knife, succeeded in severing the rope, and Kit was able to rise and stand upon his feet. It was a perfect luxury to feel himself once more free and unshackled.
"I'm very much obliged to you," he said, gratefully. "You can't imagine how stiff I am."
"I should think you would be," said Janet, sympathetically.
"When did your father tell you that I was here?"
"After he got home last night. It was after he had eaten his supper."
"And where is he now?"
"At home and asleep."
"Does he get up early?" asked Kit, in some anxiety.
"Yes, when he is at work; but the mine is shut down for a few days, so he lies abed longer."
"Did he say anything about coming here to-day?"
"Yes, he meant to come—he and the other man—and I was afraid he would do you some harm."
"He would have done so, I am sure," said Kit, shuddering. "I don't see how such a rough father should have so good a daughter."
Janet blushed, and seemed pleased with the compliment.
"I think I take after my mother," she said.
"Is your mother alive?"
"No, she died two years ago," answered Janet, sorrowfully. "She was Scotch, and that is why I am called by a Scotch name."
"What is your name, if you don't mind telling me?"
"Janet. I am Janet Hayden."
"I shall always remember it, for you have done me a great service."
"What is your name?" asked Janet, feeling less timid than at first.
"That is a funny name—Kit, I mean."
"My right name is Christopher, but my friends call me Kit. Can you direct me to the next town—Groveton, where the circus shows to-day."
"Yes, if you will come outside, I will point out which way it is."
Kit emerged from the cabin, nothing loath, and Janet pointed in a westerly direction.
"You go over the hill," she said, "and you will come to a road. You will know it, for near the stile there is a red house."
"Thank you. How far is it to the next town?"
"Eight miles, I believe."
"That would be a long walk. Do you think I could get any one to take me over in a wagon?"
"I think the man who lives in the red house, Mr. Stover, would take you over, if you pay him."
"I shall be glad to pay him, and——" Kit paused, for he felt rather delicate about offering any money to Janet, though he knew she had rendered him most valuable service. "Will you let me offer you a little present?"
He took a five dollar bill from his pocket, and offered it to Janet.
"What is that?" she asked.
"It is a five dollar bill."
"You must be rich," she said, for this seemed to her a great deal of money.
"Oh, no! but will you take it?"
"No," answered Janet, shrinking back, "I didn't come here for money."
"I am sure you didn't, but I should like to give you something."
"No, I would rather not. Besides, if father knew I had money, he would suspect something, and beat me."
"Like the brute that he is," thought Kit.
"But I must go at once, for he may wake up and miss me. Good-by!"
"Good-by!" said Kit.
He had no time to say more, for the child was already hurrying down the hill.
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