“Tell me all about it as we go along,” he said. “I guess maybe there’ll be some work for us to do after we all get together—runnin’ those gypsies out. They’re a bad lot, but this is the fust time they ever done anythin’ around here that give us a real chance to get even with them. We’ve suspected them of doin’ lots of things, but a deer can’t tell you who killed him out o’ season, ’specially when all you find of the deer is a little skin and bones.”
He listened admiringly as Bessie told her story. At the tale of Lolla’s treachery he laughed.
“They’re all tarred with the same brush,” he said. “One’s as bad as another.”
And when he heard of the trick by which Dolly had worked on the superstitious fears of Lolla and Peter his merriment knew no bounds, and he absolutely refused to keep on the trail until Dolly had given him a demonstration of just how she had managed it.
“Well, by Godfrey!” he said, when she had thrown her voice far overhead, and once so that it seemed to come from just above his shoulder. “Don’t that beat the Dutch! I don’t wonder you skeered ’em! You’d have had me goin’, I guess, an’ I ain’t no chicken, nor easy to skeer, neither. You two certainly done a smart job gettin’ away from them.”
And so, when they reached Long Lake, the girls and the guides, who had scattered all over the woods searching for them, agreed, when they straggled in, one party after another. Eleanor Mercer was one of the first to return, and when she had finished proving her gratitude for their safe return, she turned a laughing face toward the chief guide.
“Do you know the thing that pleases me best about this, Andrew?” she asked him.
“I can guess, ma’am,” he said, with a grin. “You told us when you come up here that you was goin’ to prove that a party of girls could get along without help from men. And I reckon it looked to you this morning as if you was goin’ to need us pretty bad, didn’t it?”
“It certainly did, Andrew,” she answered, gravely. “And I don’t want you to think for a moment that we’re not grateful to you for the way you turned out and scoured the woods.”
“Don’t talk of gratitude, Miss Eleanor. We’ve known you for years, but even if we’d never seen you before, and didn’t know nothin’ about the girls that thief had stolen, we’d ha’ turned out jest the same way to rescue them. An’ I guess any white men anywhere would ha’ done the same thing.
“But if it was only us you’d had to depend on, I’m afraid the young lady’d still be out there. It was her friend that saved her. Too bad she trusted that Lolla witch. If she’d gone to Jim Skelly when she was near the gypsy camp that time, an’ told him where her chum was, he’d have had her free in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”
“I think Dolly and Bessie must be awfully hungry,” said Zara, who had listened with shining eyes to the tale of her friends’ adventures.