“She’s sick, Sam,” growled Bill, standing over the cowering, white-faced prisoner near the close of the fourth day. Sam had been away nearly all of the previous night, returning gloomily without news from headquarters. “She’ll die in this d—— place and so will we if we don’t get out soon. Look at her! Why, she’s as white as a sheet. Let’s give her some fresh air, Sammy. It’s safe. Take her up in the cabin for a while. To-night we can take her outside the place. Good Lord, Sammy, I’ve got a bit of heart! I can’t see her die in this hole. Look at her! Can’t you see she’s nearly done for?”
After considerable argument, pro and con, it was decided that it would be safe and certainly wise to let the girl breathe the fresh air once in a while. That morning Sam took her into the cabin through the passage. The half hour in the cold, fresh air revived her, strengthened her perceptibly. Her spirits took an upward bound. She began to ask questions, and for some reason he began to take notice of them. It may have been the irksomeness of the situation, his own longing to be away, his anger toward the person who had failed to keep the promise made before the abduction, that led him to talk quite freely.
In the Cave
“It’s not my fault that we’re still here,” he growled in answer to her pathetic appeal. “I’ve heard you prayin’ for Daddy Crow to come and take you away. Well, it’s lucky for him that he don’t know where you are. We’d make mincemeat of that old jay in three minutes. Don’t do any more prayin’. Prayers are like dreams—you have ’em at night and wonder why the next day. Now, look ’ere, Miss Gray, we didn’t do this rotten job for the love of excitement. We’re just as anxious to get out of it as you are.”
“I only ask why I am held here and what is to become of me?” said Rosalie resignedly. She was standing across the table from where he sat smoking his great, black pipe. The other members of the gang were lounging about, surly and black-browed, chafing inwardly over the delay in getting away from the cave.
“I don’t know why you’ve been held here. I only know it’s d—— slow. I’d chuck the job, if there wasn’t so much dust in it for me.”
“But what is to become of me? I cannot endure this much longer. It is killing me. Look! I am black and blue from pinches. The old woman never misses an opportunity to hurt me.”
“She’s jealous of you because you’re purty, that’s all. Women are all alike, hang ’em! I wouldn’t be in this sort of work if it hadn’t been for a jealous wife.”
He puffed at his pipe moodily for a long time, evidently turning some problem over and over in his mind. At last, heaving a deep sigh, and prefacing his remarks with an oath, he let light in upon the mystery. “I’ll put you next to the job. Can’t give any names; it wouldn’t be square. You see, it’s this way: you ain’t wanted in this country. I don’t know why, but you ain’t.”