Read CHAPTER SIX - THE ARTIST'S PLIGHT. of Will of the Mill , free online book, by George Manville Fenn, on

The two boys were at the edge of the fissure at length, and leaned over to peer down through the bracken and heather which grew on the sides of the rough descent.

“Help!” came up faintly.

“Mr Manners! where are you?  It’s all right.  We’re here.”

“Thank Heaven!  That you, boys?  Ah!  I am on a shelf down here ­been here for hours ­a long way down; and I have sprained something.  Can you get help?”

“Well, we are here,” said Will, “and I am coming down.”

“So am I,” said Josh.

“No, no.  It is too dangerous,” came up.

“Is it?” said Will.  “You lie quiet, Mr Manners.  We are coming.  There,” he continued to Josh, “take hold of the bracken, and keep your big boots out of my face, can’t you?” For he was already on his way down.

“Same size as yours,” said Josh.  “I say, it’s precious deep!  Coming, Mr Manners ­coming!”

“Be careful,” came faintly.

“Oh, yes; we will be careful,” said Will.  “Ah!  I say, Josh, look out there.  I slipped.  It’s sheer down.  Oh, now I see.  Hallo, Mr Manners!  Come on, Josh.  ’Tisn’t as dark as I thought.  Here we are;” and the boy slipped the rest of the way down, to a fairly wide ledge, on which the artist lay in rather an awkward position.

“Mr Manners, are you much hurt?” asked Will, as he dropped down softly by the artist’s side.

“Yes, my boy?  I am rather badly.  But take care.  Take care, Josh!”

“Oh, we are all right, sir.  What’s the matter?”

“I fell while trying to get to that peak there for a better view.”

“But where does it hurt?” said Will.

“I’ve twisted my arm,” said the artist, “and injured my ankle to boot. 
That’s a joke.  Look here, Will; you could help me to get my arm free. 
It’s ­it’s painful; that’s what it is.”

“Wait a minute,” said Will; and he altered his position on the ledge, shifting himself along so as to be nearer to where the artist lay.  “Now,” he said.  “Ah!”

“Yes, I am heavy, am I not?” said the artist, with a sort of chuckle.  “Oh!” he continued, with a groan.  “I don’t think it’s possible for you to do it.”

“I think it is,” said Will.  “You, Josh ­Steady! ­Yes, that’s right; get down on his other side.  Now, Mr Manners, I will help to pull you over, and Josh shall push.  Now ­are you ready?”

“Ready!  Ay, ready!” said the artist, with a ghastly attempt at a smile.

“Now then, Josh!”

By an united effort the position of the artist was altered, and the victim to a nasty fall gave a sigh as he folded his injured left arm across his chest.

“I ­I ­Brave boys!  Good lads!  I ­”

“Oh, that’s all right, sir,” said Will.  “I say, Josh!”


“He’s fainted!”

“Phew!” whistled Josh.  “Then he must be very bad.”

“I’m afraid he is.”

“Couldn’t we ease him up a bit?”

“No.  What I want to know is what we have got to do.”

“We have just got to hold on,” said Josh, doggedly.  “That’s what we’ve got to do.”

“No.  You run back, I tell you,” gasped Will.  “Fetch help.”

“Run back!” said Josh, scornfully.  “Six miles!  I don’t believe I could find the way; and anyhow I am not going to leave you two here.”

“But I can hold him fast; and how are we to get help if you don’t?  I shall be here to see him.”

“So shall I,” said Josh.

“No, I tell you.  Climb up and get back home.  How are they to know?”

“I don’t know,” said Josh.  “Did they know where we were coming?”

“No.  How could they?”

“Then it’s just wait till morning.  Heigh-ho!”

“But Mrs Drinkwater ­”

“Of course!” cried Josh.  “What a stupid I was!  Mrs Drinkwater knew.”

“She mightn’t remember,” said Will.

“Of course she would.  Didn’t she tell us where he had gone?”

“Yes,” answered Will; “but ­there, Josh, you had better be off.”

“No.  Why don’t you go?”

“What, and leave you here?”

“There!” said Josh.  “It’s just the same.  But what’s that?”

“I didn’t hear anything.”

“I did ­a call.  There, can’t you hear it now?”

“It’s a bird,” said Will, as they both listened.  “That’s all.  But there, if you won’t go, I tell you what you might do ­clamber up and hoist a signal.”

“What signal?”

“Your handkerchief,” said Will.

“Would it do any good?” asked Josh.  “It’s a precious long way up.  How is he?”

Will leaned over the unconscious man.

“Asleep, I think,” he said quietly.  “How dark it’s getting.  Look up there!  Why, the sky’s nearly black.”

“I think I will climb up and shout,” said Josh.  “They are sure to come and look for us, and that will help them.”

“Right,” said Will.  “But mind how you go!”

“Oh, yes; I’ll be careful,” said Josh, and he began slowly to climb.  “It’s much easier here,” he said breathlessly.

Will listened to his scrambling.

“How are you getting on?” he asked.

“Capitally.  I’m near the top.”

A few more minutes elapsed, and then a voice came down ­

“I’m up.”




“I’ve fastened my handkerchief to the stump of a bush.”

“That’s right.”

“I say!”


“How shall we get Mr Manners up when they do come?”

“Push and pull,” said Will.

“But he’s awfully heavy.”

“Oh, I know; but we shall manage.  I say, I wonder where his paint-box and things are.  Perhaps they all went down with him.”

“Not they,” said Josh, as his foot kicked against something.  “They are all up here.  I’ve got them.  Isn’t he awake yet?”

“No ­yes ­I say, Mr Manners, are you better?”

“I ­Where am I? ­Oh, yes, I remember.  Better?  I think so.  What are you doing here?”

“Came to find you, and ­”

From above there came a shout.

“Hallo!” said Will.  “That’s Josh found then.”