With cautious but willing footfall Rowlett approached, but before he reached the bedside a curt undertone warned him, "Stop right thar ... ef ye draws nigher I'll call out. Kin ye hear me?... I aims ter talk low." "I'm hearkenin'." "All right. Give me yore pledge, full-solemn an' in ther sight of God Almighty ... thet ye'll hold yore hand till I gits well ... or else dies."