“You did find the bag, then?” demanded the other.
“Yep, that’s what I did.”
“And took this wad of dough out of it?” pursued the other, savagely.
“It looked too nice to throw away, so I cabbaged it, mister. Wisht I hadn’t now.”
“What became of the bag after you took this out—go on, now, and tell, or—”
“Oh! I throwed that away, mister, right over here in the woods somewhere. If you look around you’ll find her close by. Please let me go when you dig her out!” said Ted, really alarmed now for his safety.
Paul knew where that bag was.
By the strangest chance in the world he was kneeling alongside it just then. In creeping forward so as to draw closer to the scene of action, and avoid the rays of light cast by the car lamp, he had happened to put his hand on some object that felt soft to the touch; and he guessed what it must be.
What if the tall man came straight toward that spot, looking for the missing object? Dared they rise up and defy these two scoundrels? If some one cast Ted loose would he join forces with them, and make common cause against the ruffians?
Judging from what he knew about the fellow, from past experiences, Paul thought no dependence could be placed on Ted. As likely as not if his hands were free, he would seize the very first chance to snatch up the bag and scamper off, leaving the others to bear the brunt of the men’s anger.
But perhaps they would not have to face the tall chap just yet. He seemed ready to start into the bushes across the way first, taking the lamp with him.
“Keep on piling up the trash, Wash. Get him surrounded good and plenty. For if we don’t run across that bag mighty soon we’re bound to make it warm for this Smart Aleck. But don’t put a match to the heap till I get back. I wanter see the fun, you understand.”
“Oh! mister, it’s just like I was tellin’ you. I stood in the road and guv the bag a throw when I see your light over the top of the hill. She jest must be close around here somewhere,” Ted wailed.
“If Brad finds her, all well an’ good; but if he don’t—well, you’ll have a sweet time soon, that’s all,” growled the shorter man, still on his knees, and engaged in scraping more leaves together.
“If you on’y would let me, I’d stand on the road jest where I was when I throwed the old bag. Then you could figger where she landed. Let me loose, won’t you, mister? I told you the truth this time; and you’re sure to find that bag. They’ll be wonderin’ what’s become of me at home, sure they will. I got a mother, and she thinks a heap of me, she does. You wouldn’t break her heart, mister, by smokin’ a poor boy?”
“Aw! dry up! you fooled us once, but you can’t do it no more. It’s the bag, or your hide gets a singein’, my fine feller. That’ll do for you, now.”