Peter grinned, and grunted something in his own tongue that made Lolla smile.
“Tie them up again, Peter,” said Lolla, looking viciously at Bessie, and obviously gloating over the way in which she had tricked the American girl. And Peter, nothing loath, advanced to do so. But Bessie had stood all she could.
Dolly, terribly cast down by this sudden upsetting of all the hopes of rescue that the coming of Bessie and her release from the cords that bound her had raised, was close beside her, shivering with fright and despair.
And Bessie, with a sudden cry of anger, seized the knife Lolla had given her, which had been lying at her feet. Furiously she brandished it.
“If either of you come a step nearer I’ll use it!” she said, scarcely able to recognize her own voice, so changed was it by the anger that Lolla’s treachery had aroused in her. “You’d better not think I’m joking. I mean it!”
Peter hesitated, but Lolla, her eyes flashing, urged him on.
“Go on! Do you want me to tell all the women that you were frightened by a little girl; a girl you could crush with one hand?” she cried, angrily. “You coward! Tie them up, I tell you! Oh, if my man John were here he’d show you! Here—”
Peter, stung by her taunts, made a quick rush forward. For a moment Bessie did not know what to do. She wondered if, when it came to the test, she would really be able to use the knife; to try to cut or stab this man. He was getting nearer each moment, and, just as she was almost within his grasp she darted back and aimed a blow at him with the knife.
There was no danger that it would strike him; Bessie thought that, if she could only convince him that she had meant what she said, he would hesitate. And she was right. He gave a cry of alarm as he saw the steel flash toward him and drew back.
“She would stab me!” he exclaimed furiously, to Lolla. “I was not to be struck with a knife. John said nothing about that. He told me only to guard this girl—”
“She wouldn’t really touch you with it,” screamed Lolla, so furious that she forgot the need of keeping her voice low. “John wouldn’t let her frighten him that way, he is too brave. Oh, how the women will laugh when they hear how the brave Peter was frighted by a girl with a little knife!”
But Bessie, in spite of her own indecision, had managed, somehow, to convince the man that she was serious, and Lolla’s taunts no longer affected him. He drew back still farther, and stood looking stupidly at the two girls.
“You’re wiser than she,” said Bessie approvingly. “I meant just what I said. Keep as far as that from me, and you’ll be safe. I’m not afraid of you any more.”
Nor was she. Her victory, brief though it might be, had encouraged her, and revived her drooping spirits. Dolly, too, seemed to have gained new life from the sight of the big gypsy quailing before her chum. She had stopped trembling, and stood up bravely now, ready to face whatever might come.