“How did you ever get back here, just when you were so badly needed?” Bessie asked Andrew.
He smiled at that.
“Well, we get sort o’ used to readin’ tracks in our work around here, Miss, and we seen that someone who might be this feller was doublin’ around mighty suspicious. So, bein’ some worried about leavin’ you two here alone anyhow, I decided to come back with three or four of the men here, an’ we did it, leavin’ the others to go on an’ see if they could pick up the other two gypsies.
“To tell the truth, I thought it’d be mighty strange if we found him anywhere near that camp. Seemed like he must know that we’d be lookin’ fer him, and that there was the fust place we’d go to. So here we were, and mighty timely, as you say, Miss.”
It was no great while before the sounds of the other party, returning, resounded through the woods, and soon Lolla and Peter, the man bound, and the girl carefully guarded by two guides, each of whom held one of her arms, were brought into the clearing about the camp. Lolla, at the sight of John, lying against a tree, his arms and his feet bound, gave a cry of rage, and, snatching her arms from her guardians, ran toward him, wailing.
“Go away, you fool!” muttered John. “This is your doing. If you and Peter had not been afraid of your own shadow, this would not have happened. I am glad they have caught you; you will go to prison now, like me.”
“Look here, young feller,” said Andrew, angrily, “that ain’t no way to talk to a lady, hear me! She may be a bad one, but she’s stuck to you. If you get off any more talk like that I’ll see if a dip in the lake will make you feel more polite like. See?”
John gave no answer, but relapsed into his sullen silence again.
Eleanor approached Lolla gently.
“We are not angry with you, Lolla,” she said, kindly. “No, nor with John. You love him, do you?”
Lolla gave no answer, but looked up into Eleanor’s face with eyes that spoke plainly enough.
“I thought so. Then you do not want him to go to prison? Try to make him tell why he did this. If he will do that, perhaps he can go free, and you and Peter, too. You wouldn’t like to have to leave your people, and not be able to travel along the road, and do all the things you are used to doing, would you?
“Well, I am afraid that is what will happen to you, unless John will tell all he knows. They will take you away, soon now, and you will go down to the town and there you will be locked up, all three of you, and you and John will not even see one another, for a long time—two or three years, maybe, or even longer—”
Still Lolla could not speak. But she began to cry, quietly, but with a display of suffering that moved Eleanor. After all, she felt Lolla was little more than a girl, and, though she had done wrong, very wrong, she had never had a proper chance to learn how to do what was right.