Chapter LXXV

After turning the key in the lock outside the parlour door Mrs. Morrell slipped along the dark veranda, passed through a narrow hall, and entered a small back sitting-room. Jake's Place especially abounded in sitting-rooms. This particular one was next the parlour, so that one listening intently could be more or less aware of what was going on in the larger room. Here Morrell was already seated, a bottle of beer next his hand. He raised his eyebrows on her entrance, and she nodded back reassuringly. She, too, sat down and helped herself to beer. Both smoked. For a long time neither said anything.

"Don't hear much in there," observed Mrs. Morrell finally, in a low guarded tone.

"Not a sound," agreed Morrell. "You don't suppose she--"

"No, I don't think so."

"Then I don't see what ails that fool, Sansome! It'd be just like him to jib."

"What does it matter?" observed Mrs. Morrell philosophically, "We don't care what is happening inside as long as those two doors stay locked until Teeny and Jimmy Ware get here."

As has been mentioned, Pop McFarlane was also of the party; but, characteristically, neither would have thought that fact worth mentioning.

"Just the same, as a matter of academic interest, I'd have expected her to make more of a row," said Morrell. "I'll wager for all her airs she runs the same gait as all the rest of you."

"Do you mean me?" demanded Mrs. Morrell, her eyes flashing dangerously.

"Moderate your voice, my dear," advised he. "My remark was wholly general of your charming sex."

From the parlour now they heard faintly the first sounds of struggle.

"That's more like," he said with satisfaction. "I hate to have my ideals shattered."

Wheels became audible.

"There's Teeny, now," he observed, arising. He sauntered down the hall and looked out. "Keith!" he whispered back over his shoulder. "Where in hell did he come from?" He continued to peer into the darkness. "There's two others. Well, at any rate, we have plenty of witnesses!" He turned to Mrs. Morrell. "You'd better make yourself scarce. You locked that door, you know!"

"Scarce!" she repeated, staring at him. "Where? How?"

He looked at her through narrowed lids.

"Get a horse of Jake," he said at last. "I'll meet you--oh, at the house. We'll arrange later."

He watched her rather opulent figure steal down the dim hallway. A cynical smile flashed under his moustache. He turned back to the drama before him. The buggy had disappeared; the veranda was apparently empty.

"Now I wonder who will shoot who?" speculated Morrell.

He stole to the first of the windows. The lower blinds were drawn, but the upper half of the window was clear. Morrell cautiously placed a stool nearby, and mounted it so he could see into the room. For several minutes he watched. Then his hand stole to his pocket. He produced a revolver.