They made the return trip with hearts far lighter than they had been as they made their way to the gypsy camp. Bessie had seen that Lolla was afraid of John, though now that he, had been over-reached she was ready enough to laugh at him.
“What are you going to do! How are you going to get her away, Lolla?” asked Bessie, as they neared the point where she had first seen her ally.”
“I don’t know yet,” said Lolla, frankly. “If Peter is on the trail it will be harder. I hope he will be inside, so that we can slip by without his seeing us. If he is, and we get by, then you are to wait until you hear me sing. So.”
She sang a bar or two of a gypsy melody, and repeated it until Bessie, too, could hum it, to prove that she had it right, and would not fail to recognize it.
“When you hear me sing that, remember that you must run down and go to your friend. Here is nay knife. Use it to cut the cords that tie her. Then you and she must go back toward the rocks where you went down. And when you hear me sing again you are to go down, as quickly as you can, but quietly, and, as soon as you are past the place where she was hidden, you must start running. I will try to catch up with you and go with you, but do not wait for me.”
“I don’t quite understand,” Bessie began.
But now Lolla was the general, brooking no defiance. She stamped her foot.
“It does not matter whether you understand or not,” she said sharply. “If you want me to save your friend and get back to the others you must do as you are told, and quickly. Now, come.”
They went on up the trail, and, at the bend just below the spot where she had broken through to reach Dolly before, Bessie waited while Lolla, who had recognized the place from Bessie’s description of it, crept forward to make sure that the way was clear.
“All right,” she whispered. “Come on.”
Silently, but as swiftly as they could, they crept past the place, and, when they were out of sight stopped.
“Now, you will know my song when you hear it?”
“Yes, indeed, Lolla. Why, what have you got there?”
“What I need to make Peter come with me,” laughed Lolla. “See, a fine meal, is it not? I got it at the camp. Let him smell that stew and he would follow me out of the woods.”
Bessie began to understand Lolla’s plan at last.
She was going to tempt
Peter to betray his orders from his friend by appealing to his stomach.
And Bessie wondered again, as she had many times since she had met
Lolla, at the cunning of the gypsy girl.
Her confidence in Lolla was complete by now, and she did not at all mind waiting as she saw the little brightly clad figure disappear amidst the green of the trail.
It was some time, however, before she heard any signs that indicated that Lolla had obtained any results. And then it was not the song she heard, but Lolla’s clear laugh, rising above the heavy tones of Peter.