“Well, I won’t take them, anyhow. Oh, Bessie, but I’m hungry! I’d give all the ice-cream sodas I ever ate for a big piece of beefsteak right now! Aren’t you hungry, too? I should think you’d be starved.”
“I am pretty hungry, but I was so excited I’d forgotten about it, I guess. Why did you remind me?”
“Well, maybe there’ll be a store at Tecumseh, so that we can get something to eat.”
“Here’s the crossroad, Dolly. Now we want to turn east. I don’t think we’ll need to walk very far—three-quarters of a mile, maybe, and about as much more back toward Tecumseh when we’re once beyond the railroad.”
“I suppose it’s safe to walk along the road here?”
“I think so, and the fields are open on both sides, anyhow, so it’s a case of Hobson’s choice. We’d be seen just as easily if we walked in the fields, and perhaps the people who own them would get after us, too. And I think we’ve got troubles enough on our hands without looking for any more.”
“That’s certainly true, Bessie. Yes, we’ll have to stick to the road. Anyhow, we left Jake back at the trolley station, and he’s probably still there, trying to puzzle out how we got away. And Mr. Holmes ought to be at Tecumseh. Farmer Weeks was to stay in Jericho, so I think we’ve really found a safe road at last!”
It seemed so, certainly. They met a few people and they were mostly driving, and Bessie was hoping for a ride. But everyone they met seemed to be going in the opposite direction, and they had crossed the railroad tracks before a cart finally overtook them. By that time, of course, they were ready to turn and follow the tracks to Tecumseh, so the cheerful offer of a ride from the farmer who was driving had to be declined.
“Oh, Dolly, we’re really safe at last!” exclaimed Bessie. “They can’t touch me in this state so we can sit down and rest if we want to.”
“But I don’t want to, Bessie. I’d rather hurry along to Tecumseh and get a train just as soon as we can. Wouldn’t you? I think Miss Eleanor must be awfully worried about us by this time.”
“Bessie!” said Dolly, suddenly. “Look, isn’t that cloud of dust on the road there coming this way? It looks like someone on a bicycle.”
It was. It was Jake Hoover, scorching along toward them, and as he approached them they could see a look of triumph on his face. He was up with them in a moment, and, jumping off his wheel, seized Bessie, who was too terrified to move.
“Got yer, ain’t I?” he shouted, savagely exultant. “Thought you was mighty smart, foolin’ me, didn’t yer? Well, we’ll see!”
“Don’t you dare touch her! She’s not in your state any more,” stormed Dolly, stamping her foot.
“She soon will be,” he said, and picked Bessie, who was no match for him, though she struggled, up in his arms. He started to walk back in the direction he had come, leaving his bicycle in the road where it had fallen.