A game of life and death

When the black servant who had brought him in could spy on the keyhole, Morgan threw his hat on it and went to the only window in the room.

In it, he made the gratifying remark that the fire stairs he had seen outside the house led right next to the balcony of this room – and it reassured him, for in the worst case he could escape through these stairs if the danger became too imminent. You could expect any kind of surprises in this nest.

He immediately began his research, but decided to behave more cautiously than the first time. He saw no veil of any kind, and nothing else behind which he could have been spyed. Yes, this time he would be alert. – And everything was well planned. – If he hadn’t had the opportunity to shoot, he had agreed with Arizona Bert to throw out a piece of paper that had been written about where he could be found.

In the midst of these reassuring thoughts, he was startled by a repressive cry of distress that might have heard from below, but also from behind the wall of his room. Curious, he pressed his ear against the wall. And now he heard the voice quite clearly. A gap with poor airflow proved that there must have been some kind of air vent behind the wall.

Mr Morgan picked up a pencil knife and began to feel the space between the boards. Then a knife hurts on a sling that gave its way and the man’s high door or hatch opened. Behind it was a deep, black chasm – he didn’t know how deep.

Probably it was that spacious food elevator opening that for some reason was no longer used and it was closed life-threatening so that no one would fall there.

But he also made another point. He could hear three different voices talking down close to each other fiercely. One of the voices was of a woman, probably Miss Belly, it sounded very angry as she exclaimed:

– As has been said, there is no trust in a Negro. The blink of an eye yet and our precious prey would have disappeared if I had not come.

– But now you can be calm, said another voice, apparently Full-handed Fredin. I kidnapped him up the stairs, now he’s sitting sure tied up and if no money comes out of his office within two days, your rattlesnake will get his job done. And we’re up there besides his brother, if you’re once sure it’s him.

– It is clear. He can never disguise his eyes nor the movement he makes with his left hand while walking. But you will soon see for yourself.

– Belly is priceless! exclaimed the third voice. Without his sharp-sightedness, we would not have kicked far.

“Yes, you have remarkable eyes,” said Full-Handed Fred, thanking.
With them you tame both people and animals.
– I know that, the woman replied with a curious and vicious laugh, the laughter of which Morgan felt all too well. Belly then added words that amazed the listener.

– In any case, we must now be more careful than ever before.
And do you know why?
No one seemed to know. But Full-Handed Fred replied arrogantly:

– Even caution can go too far.

– Not when it comes to Arizona Bert.

– Arizona Bert, said both men in amazement. Is he here?

– Rest assured. He has also put it in the magazine about drowning in the news.

– Damn it! cursed Fred that echoed. Then there is no advice but to escape.

– Tahi to capture him too. The answer included the ivanauru of two men and the words:

– Do it, then you have reached a record and we will end up as millionaires.

– It’s been talked about enough, but get ready for everything, said the woman. – Every thought of slipping must be left until we have also caught Arizona Bert, first here in the basement.

– And you really think he’s coming?

– Probably. He never retreats. Maybe he’s already here.

There was a moment of complete silence. It felt like an inch thoroughly. But then missed Belly:

– And we have rattlesnakes… Now you can go up and start. But be careful and don’t make any noise before I come. This time, he gets a little extra because he tried to deceive me a second time. But now…

There was no more. It was completely quiet.

But Mr Morgan, who had heard everything, felt like he was on a torture bench. Shooting the case with this position would only make matters worse. I guess it would be best to try to write a few lines and throw them down from the balcony, as long as you have the opportunity.

Flying in a hurry, he wrote on a piece of paper:

Dear friends!

Everything invented. Only the utmost caution can clarify the matter.
Try the stairs. Second floor or, if not there, then the
basement. In a fatal hurry
Dennis M.

He sneaked onto the balcony, gently released the piece of paper from his hands, and saw it fall almost to where the ladder ended.

In the blink of an eye he followed afterwards, but at the same time heard behind him:

– Beautiful view, isn’t it, sir?

As he turned, he stood
face to face in front of a flawlessly smiling Full- Handed Fred, who continued:
– I have my cousin Gaspard with me! You don’t think how happy he became when he heard he got a playmate. We might have had a couple of games before dinner was offered. The fourth “man” becomes my wife and I can indeed say that he plays like a pretty man.

Stepped into the room where Morgan had put the food elevator door in place. Full-handed Fred quickly set up a game table to sit down and discuss while waiting for any of the fourth “men,” Miss Belly.

Where this was right now, Mr. Morgan would have liked to have known. But this time he got to be happy, it means, maybe not happy, but happy with what he already knew. He began to regret more and more that he had not followed Arizona Bert’s advice and left him alone for the second time without coming to this robber cave.

The only thing he could do was try to prolong the game and win time. And now he could indeed say that the contribution was the spirit, not only of him, but, as he hoped, of others as well.

The door opened and Miss Belly showed up.

He politely played his part masterfully during socializing. Not even the look of his eyes revealed his thoughts when he apologized for his delay.

Mr Morgan stood up and replied, trying to appear as natural as possible:

– Never wait too long, gracious lady, when expecting something good.

“In that case, I just hope you haven’t made a mistake,” Belly replied, laughing in a way that promised the worst while he shuffled his cards with masterful skill and habit. But even more frightening was the gaze he cast at Morgan, the gaze of a bird of prey confident in his prey, which at the same time indicated that the amusement would come exclusively to him, the amusement of seeing the victim sparkle in his death-producing net.

During the game, Morgan noticed how every move he made was kept as accurate as possible. With all the thoughts elsewhere, the game went how it happened.

During the new division, Miss Belly got up and went to the closet and said!

– Maybe a glass, gentlemen.

“That’s right,” said Full-Handed Fred, getting up, too. And he turned to the stranger, asking:

– Or how, sir?

Mr Morgan was clear that now the dance would begin. Now he was not to lose his temper. At the same time, he saw that the woman was fingering a mysterious box near the closet and then turned to the stranger, laughing mockingly:

– Here you can see something really fun, sir!

The bush in front of the house had begun to blur.

– Listen! whispered Arizona Bert Handsome to Harry and Big Bob. This looks suspicious. I really don’t know what to think. Mr Morgan had a shot to announce when it was time for us to rush. But it may well be in power that he has not had the opportunity to give that sign. Perhaps he has already been muted forever and Dennis Morgan received the same fate as his brother, for whom he intended to avenge.

And Bert continued after a moment:

– Clearly something needs to be done. Mum! What was that? He could hear the lock rattling – but it sounded like air. It certainly came from the balcony next to the ladder. Someone was there spying.

– Harry! whispered Bert to his other assistant. I must get Bully-Dass here. It is useful here. Get it quickly from our accommodation and then it is best to start dancing at any time.

Bully-Dass was a small but very strong bulldog who could really do a great job. And now it was especially needed because there were so few and could not rely on Mr. Morgan’s data on the number of the enemy.

While waiting – and while the time Big Bob was able to keep an eye on the main aisle and immediately signal if something suspicious would appear – Bert slid up the ladder. He could see something white on the ground and immediately it occurred to him that there was a communication in it.

The next moment he had a piece of paper written by Mr. Morgan in his hand, and in the light of his electric lamp, he read a busy announcement that Morgan had dropped from the balcony at the time of the count.

The matter was clear! You could attack at any time. – And down the fire escape was perhaps the best thing to do. – But the difficulties had become greater because the villains, in one way or another, had found out that the danger threatened them as well, and therefore there was no information as to what countermeasures they had taken.

As he pushed it, Handsome Harry returned with little Dogg, who was really trembling with a desire to show off his skill.

“This seems to be a complicated thing, Harry,” Bert whispered, taking the dog in his arm.

“We’ve been worse,” Harry said. Here we have the whole crowd as if in a box.

– In the box, you say!… There may be worse in that box than bullets and knives.

– Does master Bert mean rattlesnakes?

– Just them! – Mr Morgan may have experienced them a second time. – It is this silence that makes the matter even more suspicious. We shouldn’t have let him go.

He read from his memory what Morgan had written and Handsome Harry exclaimed in amazement:

– This was almost the worst. Already invented!

– It really looks like it. But get along! Follow with my heels and keep your colts ready. If someone shows up on the balcony, then just let the bang.

Having said that, Arizona Bert – the dog still on his arm – was on the fire escape and was followed by Handsome Harry, keeping a close eye on the balcony, to which Bert waved himself after a moment and grabbed the door open with lightning fast movements and his eyes on the battlefield.