Eleven o’clock found the trio anxious and ugly in their restlessness. There was no sleep for them. Davy visited the trap over a hundred times that night. His mother, breaking over the traces of restraint, hugged the jug of whiskey, taking swig after swig as the vigil wore on. At last Davy, driven to it, insisted upon having his share. Bill drank but little, and it was not long before Rosalie observed the shifty, nervous look in his eyes. From time to time he slyly appropriated certain articles, dropping them into his coat pocket. His ear muffs, muffler, gloves, matches, tobacco and many chunks of bread and bacon were stowed stealthily in the pockets of his coat. At last it dawned upon her that Bill was preparing to desert. Hope lay with him, then. If he could only be induced to give her an equal chance to escape!
Mother and son became maudlin in their—not cups, but jug; but Davy had the sense to imbibe more cautiously, a fact which seemed to annoy the nervous Bill.
“I must have air—fresh air,” suddenly moaned Rosalie from her corner, the strain proving too great for her nerves. Bill strode over and looked down upon the trembling form for a full minute. “Take me outside for just a minute—just a minute, please. I am dying in here.”
“Lemme take her out,” cackled old Maude. “I’ll give her all the air she wants. Want so—some air myself. Lemme give her air, Bill. Have some air on me, pardner. Lemme—”
“Shut up, Maude!” growled Bill, glancing uneasily about the cave. “I’ll take her up in the cabin fer a couple of minutes. There ain’t no danger.”
Davy protested, but Bill carried his point, simply because he was sober and knew his power over the half-stupefied pair. Davy let them out through the trap, promising to wait below until they were ready to return.
“Are you going away?” whispered Rosalie, as they passed out into the cold, black night.
“Sh! Don’t talk, damn you!” he hissed.
“Let me go too. I know the way home and you need have no fear of me. I like you, but I hate the others. Please, please! For God’s sake, let me go! They can’t catch me if I have a little start.”
“I’d like to, but I—I dassent. Sam would hunt me down and kill me—he would sure. I am goin’ myself—I can’t stand it no longer.”
“Have pity! Don’t leave me alone with them. Oh, God, if you—”
Moaning piteously, she pleaded with him; but he was obdurate, chiefly through fear of the consequences. In his heart he might have been willing to give her the chance, but his head saw the danger to itself and it was firm.
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” he whispered in the end. “I’ll take you back there and then I’ll go and tell your friends where you are and how to help you. Honest! Honest, I will. I know it’s as broad as it is long, but I’d rather do it that way. They’ll be here in a couple of hours and you’ll be free. Nobody will be the wiser. Curse your whining! Shut up! Damn you, get back in there! Don’t give me away to Davy, and I’ll swear to help you out of this.”