“Oh, I think he’d be brave enough if he just had to fight with a man, so that it was the sort of fighting he was used to. You see it wasn’t his plan, and when I said I’d use that knife he couldn’t see why he should run any risk when all the profit was for the other man.”
“And when you played that trick with your voice he was frightened, because he’d never heard of anything of that sort, and he didn’t know what was coming next. I think that would frighten a good many people who are really brave.”
“Bessie, why do I always get into so much trouble? All this happened just because I changed those signs that day.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that, Dolly. It might have happened anyhow. I’ve got an idea now that they knew we were around, and that John planned to kidnap one of us and keep us until someone paid him a lot of money to let us go. Something Lolla said made me think that.”
“Then he was just playing a joke when he said he wanted to marry me?”
“Yes, I think so, because I don’t think he was foolish enough to think he could ever really get you to do that. I did think so at first, but if that had been so I’m quite sure that Lolla wouldn’t have helped him.”
“She’d have been jealous, you mean?”
“Yes, I’m quite sure, you see, that she saw him and talked to him when we went over to their camp that time, so that she could take orders from him to Peter. He knew he’d be watched, so he must have made up his mind from the first that he would have to have help.”
“I wonder what he is doing now, Bessie.”
“I certainly hope he’s still over there at the camp, sitting near that guide. The guide said he would shoot him if he tried to get away, you know.”
“My, but I’ll bet there’s been a lot of commotion over this.”
“I’m sure there has, Dolly. Probably all the people at the hotel heard about it, too. I’ll bet they’ve got people out all through the woods looking for us.”
“I wish we’d meet some of them—and that they’d have a lot of sandwiches and things. Bessie, I’ve simply got to sit down and rest. I want to get back to Miss Eleanor and the girls, but if I keep on any longer I’ll drop just where we are. I’m too tired to take another step without a rest.”
“I am, too, Dolly. Here—here’s a good place to sit down for a little while. We really can’t be so very far from Long Lake now.”
“No,” said a voice, behind them. “But you’re so far that you’ll never reach there, my dears!”
And, turning, they saw John, the gypsy, leering at them. His clothes were torn, and he was hot and dirty, so that it was plain that he had had a long run, and a narrow escape from capture. But at the sight of them he smiled, evilly and triumphantly, as if that repaid him amply for any hardships he had undergone.
“Don’t you dare touch us!” said Bessie, shrilly.
She realized even as she said it, that he was not likely to pay any attention to her, but the sight of his grinning face, when she had been so sure that their troubles were over at last, was too much for her.