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When she came back to the precipice, the girl was crying uncontrollably.

"Try to save your strength," advised Charlie. "I'm going to come down to you, but it might take me a little while."

"Please, hurry!" came the plaintive cry.

Charlie opened her backpack and pulled out a long length of rope. After securely tying one end to the trunk of a tree, she placed the other end beneath her, and began to slowly edge her way down the rope. Once or twice her feet lost their footing, but with a firm grasp of the rope, Charlie was able to regain her balance, and continue repelling downward. All the while, the girl cried for her to hurry.

"I'm almost to the bottom!" shouted Charlie, flashing the light beneath her feet. "Where are you?"

"I'm over here!" repeated the girl, her voice becoming faint with exhaustion.

When Charlie's feet touched ground she was able to better understand her surroundings. This was the mouth of an underground cave. On any other occasion, Charlie would have thrilled at the idea of discovering an unexplored cave, but this was not one of those times. The air was cold, and smelled of a pungent odor that reminded Charlie of something she had once smelled before, but could not remember where.

"I'm over here," said the child once more, hearing Charlie's movements getting nearer.

Charlie swung her flashlight around and saw the pale form of a small girl lying on her back, her right leg jutting in an unnatural angle beneath her. Charlie recognized at once, that the girl's leg was broken.

"Help me," she whimpered, as the teenager came to her side.

"Take it easy while I have a look," said Charlie, frantically trying to remember anything Chuck had told her about broken bones. "How do you feel?" she asked, shining the light into the girl's face.

If her lips were blue, then Charlie would know that she wasn't getting enough blood and that shock was setting in. But the girl's skin wasn't clammy or blue-- just cold. Then Charlie recognized the very real danger of hypothermia. She quickly pulled out her sleeping bag and gently covered the helpless girl.

"I'm thirsty," said the child, deriving a measure of comfort from Charlie's presence.

"I'm not sure you should be drinking water," hesitated Charlie. "Here, I'll give you just a sip. How long have you been here?"

"I don't know," replied the girl. "I think it was today, but I'm not sure. Do you have any food?"

"Can you sit up?" asked Charlie.

"I don't think so," the child groaned.

"I'm sorry, but I can't let you eat on your back," apologized Charlie. "You might choke on your food."

"How are you going to get me out of here?" wondered the girl.

Charlie was asking herself that question, and wasn't able to answer, so she decided to change the subject.

"What's your name?" asked the teenager, pulling out a first aid box to see if there was anything in it that could help relieve some of the pain that the girl was obviously in.

"My name is Jo," replied the girl, closing her eyes.

"My name is Charlie," said the exhausted woman, flipping through the small pamphlet that came with the kit.

Charlie read how to set a broken leg and wilted at the thought of doing that to Jo. Even if she could do the procedure, the leg should be elevated, and that meant Charlie couldn't carry the girl back to civilization. With no painkillers but ordinary aspirin, Charlie immediately decided against setting the leg, herself. Either way, Jo had to remain behind while Charlie went for help at first light, the next day. She reasoned that the hike back would be quicker than the trip there, for she didn't have to retrace the slight footprints of an eight year old. Yes, it would be quicker-- but how much quicker, was anybody's guess.

"Tomorrow," informed Charlie in a comforting voice, "I'm going to go for help."

"No!" cried Jo. "You won't come back!"
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