“No, you don’t, Jack. It isn’t worth your taking.”
“I’m the best judge of that, woman.”
“They will suffer. I can’t bear to have that boy suffer. He reminds me so of our dead son.”
“You’re a fool!” said her husband roughly.
“And you have no heart!” said his wife bitterly.
“I don’t want one if it’s going to make a fool of me. Come, hurry up the breakfast, for I must be out of the way before they come down. They’ll miss their money, and I don’t want to be asked any questions.”
“What shall I say if they ask me where it is, Jack?”
“Anything you like,” he answered impatiently. “Say the cat did it, or anything else. Do you think a woman needs teachin’ what she is to say?”
“They will think we did it,” persisted his wife.
“Let them. They can’t prove anything. Just hurry up that breakfast, I tell you.”
The wife did as she was ordered, and Jack sat down to his breakfast. He ate heartily, having a conscience that did not trouble him about such trifles as plundering the guests who had slept beneath his roof, and rose to leave the house.
“Give ’em some breakfast,” he said, as he opened the door; “and tell ’em you won’t take no pay on account of their loss. That’ll about make things square, I reckon. I’ve taken my pay in advance.”
He shouldered his gun and went out into the woods.
It was not till an hour afterward that Ben rose from his lowly couch, and, by dint of violent shaking, succeeded in rousing Bradley.
“Come, Bradley, wake up!” he cried. “The sun is high, and it is time we were on our way.”
Bradley stretched himself, took a long breath, and said:
“I must have had a long sleep.”
“Yes, you dropped off as soon as you lay down, and have slept ever since.”
“And did you sleep as soundly?”
“No, I was awake twice during the night,” answered Ben.
“I don’t know how it is, but I am sleepy still. Seems to me I don’t stand fatigue as well as you. I am sleepy yet, and feel as if I could sleep all the forenoon.”
“The effects of the drug,” thought Ben.
Ben considered whether he should tell Bradley what had happened during the night. He decided briefly to say a few words about it in a whisper, and postpone a full explanation till later, for their hostess was below, and could hear any loud word that might be uttered. Bradley was instructed that he must claim to have lost five dollars.
“But I had a hundred,” said Bradley, feeling in his pockets.
“It’s all right,” whispered Ben. “I’ll explain by and by. Not a word of the loss till after breakfast.”
Bradley was quite bewildered, and utterly failed to understand the situation. But he had considerable faith in his young companion, and was willing to follow Ben’s instructions. They descended the ladder, Ben in advance.