“Rats!” It was brief, but it brought the irate Sam to his senses. Trouble was averted for the time being.
“Davy ain’t afraid of him,” cried that worthy’s mother shrilly.
“You bet I ain’t!” added Davy after a long string of oaths. Sam grinned viciously.
“There ain’t nothin’ to fight about, I guess,” he said, although he did not look it. “We’d be fools to scrap. Everything to lose and nothin’ to gain. All I got to say, Davy, is that you ain’t to touch that girl.”
“Who’s goin’ to touch her?” roared Davy, bristling bravely. “An’ you ain’t to touch her nuther,” he added.
The day wore away, although it was always night in the windowless cave, and again the trio of men slept, with Maude as guard. Exhausted and faint, Rosalie fell into a sound sleep. The next morning she ate sparingly of the bacon and bread and drank some steaming coffee, much to the derisive delight of the hag.
“You had to come to it, eh?” she croaked. “Had to feed that purty face, after all. I guess we’re all alike. We’re all flesh and blood, my lady.”
The old woman never openly offered personal violence to the girl. She stood in some fear of the leader—not physical fear, but the strange homage that a brute pays to its master. Secretly she took savage delight in treading on the girl’s toes or in pinching her arms and legs, twisting her hair, spilling hot coffee on her hands, cursing her softly and perpetrating all sorts of little indignities that could not be resented, for the simple reason that they could not be proved against her. Her word was as good as Rosalie’s.
Hourly the strain grew worse and worse. The girl became ill and feverish with fear, loathing and uncertainty. Her ears rang with the horrors of their lewdness, her eyes came to see but little, for she kept them closed for the very pain of what they were likely to witness. In her heart there grew a constant prayer for deliverance from their clutches. She was much too strong-minded and healthy to pray for death, but her mind fairly reeled with the thoughts of the vengeance she would exact.
The third day found the gang morose and ugly. The confinement was as irksome to them as it was to her. They fretted and worried, swore and growled. At nightfall of each day Sam ventured forth through the passage and out into the night. Each time he was gone for two or three hours, and each succeeding return to the vile cave threw the gang into deeper wrath. The word they were expecting was not forthcoming, the command from the real master was not given. They played cards all day, and at last began to drink more deeply than was wise. Two desperate fights occurred between Davy and Sam on the third day. Bill and the old woman pulled them apart after both had been battered savagely.