Where would Ariadne go to hide? Theresa wondered, as she went to the stairs and began to descend toward the living room. Then she knew exactly where Ariadne would go to hide from her – the stable! Ariadne had practically taken over Gregory’s horse since he had moved into town to be closer to the hotel. Theresa was sure that Ariadne would be out there now, brushing or feeding General. Theresa wondered briefly if she could manage somehow to get General to rear up and trample Ariadne to death. General was known to be moody. Theresa began to think about the rest of the family. They had all plotted against her. How was she to take revenge on all of them? But never mind, she told herself, making Ariadne suffer would be the best she could do and it would have to be enough.
Theresa stopped outside the stable door and listened. She could hear Ariadne’s voice talking softly to General as she brushed him.
“I’ve been looking all over for you, Ariadne,” said Theresa, stepping through the door into the gloomy stable. She picked up the kerosene lamp and some matches from beside the door.
Ariadne peered around General, wondering what Theresa had in mind. Ariadne knew Theresa was angry; she had heard her searching the house just minutes ago. Ariadne watched, frozen in horror, as Theresa slopped kerosene from the lamp onto the straw floor. Then Theresa lit a match and tossed it onto the floor and watched the flames leap higher than her head before turning and walking out the door, closing it behind her. She could hear both Ariadne and General screaming now. Theresa sauntered to the barn where Clement was milking the cows. “There seems to be a fire in the stable,” she told him calmly. “I can see smoke coming from the back corner.”
Clement was on his feet and barking orders at Theresa in just a moment. “Ring the fire bell and then come to the pump,” he said, not waiting for any excuses Theresa might make. He heard the fire bell clang for just a few seconds and wanted to scream at his foolish sister, but there was no time. There was a bucket beside the horse trough. Clement grabbed it, filled it to the brim and opened the stable door.
Fire crackled right in Clement’s face when he opened the door. He sloshed his bucket of water on the fire and turned away to fill the bucket again. It was when he returned to the door that he heard Ariadne’s voice calling, “Help me, Clement, I’m burning!”
“No, no, no,” Clement cried, then he shouted, “I’m coming, Ariadne!” Instead of throwing his bucket of water on the fire, Clement dumped it over his head, soaking his hair and clothes. He grabbed a horse blanket and plunged it under the water in the horse trough, then held it over his head as he ran through the fire to his sister.
“Save General,” she said as Clement struggled to drag Ariadne to her feet.
“I will,” Clement said to her, “I’ll save both of you.” He lifted Ariadne onto General’s back, praying that the nearly hysterical horse wouldn’t throw her. “Hold onto his mane,” he said to Ariadne, and whacked General on the rump.
General whinnied and turned in fear. Clement tossed the wet blanket over General’s head and hit his rump again. The horse screamed in terror, but Clement heard Ariadne talking softly to him and guiding him out the stable door. Clement ran out behind them, choking on the thick smoke and feeling the hair on his head and arms singeing. Clement fell to his knees in the corral, coughing uncontrollably. He could feel himself losing consciousness. Was Ariadne all right? Clement fell face down in the dirt.
Theresa came running from the barn after a few minutes, trying to look concerned. As she approached the corral, she saw Clement lying unconscious on the ground. His right arm appeared to be badly burned, as did the right side of his face. His hair was still smoldering. Theresa turned her attention to Ariadne. Most of the girl’s clothing had burnt away and so had the hair on the top of her head. Her face, arms and legs were all an angry red color, the skin already blistering. Ariadne sat on the ground, crying piteously from the pain. The rest of the family had formed a bucket brigade and had the fire nearly out already. Where was Mama? Theresa supposed she had gone for the doctor. Theresa ran to Ariadne’s side, a look of concern on her face. She bent down to Ariadne and whispered in her ear. “You’d better keep your mouth shut, Ariadne, or I’ll be sure to finish you off next time,” Theresa said softly in Ariadne’s ear.