Four amazed faces faced him. Only one showed a flash of light.
If he had been expected, however, apparently not at the moment or from this direction either.
Belly had sternly ordered a man in this dangerous group to keep an eye on the street and the garden. The name of this fourth man was Andy-Joe and he had been guarded after the Negro disappeared. Where and why the Negro disappeared was not known. But while Andy-Joe was guarding Big Bob outside the gate, he forgot the fire escape and had no idea the fortress had been attacked.
Surprised, they stood as if paralyzed with horror.
The woman had that suspicious box in her hands. He was pale pale with rage, but this time clearly powerless.
Arizona Bert approached the game board. He put a small Dogg in the middle of the gold and banknotes and said, making a polite gesture:
– Tolerate to sit down, good gentlemen, so we can talk. I will come without calling, but it will be done ex officio. In short: The game is over! – Now follows the accounting, which is more difficult.
This is when he said he had come to the other side of the gaming table, and with her back to the door. This was reckless. For he had scarcely reached that point before the woman cried with all her might.
– Dickson! Tom!
The door was snatched open and two more men crashed in, while Full-Handed Fred lightly struck nearby Morgan in the hand so that the gun fell. But the little dog made a powerful jump and bit into the woman’s hand just as she pulled a long knife from the folds of her suit.
It saved Bert, who had turned to face the attackers. And now that Handsome Harry also took the stage, the dance was in full swing.
Bert didn’t want to shoot. He considered it an honor to take over the band of robbers as numerous and unharmed as possible. But in the middle of the dance, the woman, due to the pain of the dog biting, let the box in her hand fall to the floor – and at the same time there was a collective cry:
So, the lid of the box had popped open and crawled out a whole bunch of those unusually dangerous reptiles just as Handsome Harry with giant blows hit the floor first with Full-Handed Fred, then with Tom shouting with his full lungs:
– Gloria Mexiko-Maria! This is easy! That’s when the unexpected happened.
One of the largest snakes headed for Bert. To avoid danger, he threw himself aside, but at the same time received a blow to his chest from the delicious Dickson and leaned against the wall. It followed. In the blink of an eye, Arizona Bert – cadres disappeared.
Mr Morgan, who had seen the danger in the mirror, hurried out, shouting to prevent the accident.
Miss Bellykin exclaimed, but with joy, while she finally managed to get rid of the dog with bleeding hands.
The snake enchanter quickly began assembling dangerous reptiles. They were again inserted into a cramped box. Without having to bite anyone yet, however, they had been an invaluable benefit and caused confusion, which gave the surprised time to breathe.
Handsome Harry, along with Mr. Morgan, had crashed into a hatch from which Arizona Bert had disappeared. Morgan could only complain that he had not closed the hatch well enough.
Suddenly shouted Handsome Harry:
– Fire escape! Shout out to Big Bob, Mr. Morgan! Yet…
That’s when a heavily thrown chair hit his back of his head and he shortened to the floor without making a sound. At the same time, Morgan’s two hands were grabbed from behind. And when he couldn’t wriggle out, nor was he aware of the jiu-jitsu – the Japanese grips – his fate was clear too.
– Where’s that damn dog? shouted Miss Belly, who had got her snake in the box. I have a thing for that. Bring it here right away.
But Bully-Dass could not be found anywhere.
“I guess it’s jumped into the food elevator,” said Gaspard, who had survived the slightest wild riot.
– Tahi jumped down from the balcony, said Full Hand Fred.
“Jump yourself, and you’ll see how it works,” Belly said, sighing. Yes, the dog is wiser. Nor do I think it has been taught to climb ladders. Either way, I want the dog here and give it a lesson that fits. But first, those stupid lines are binding. They also get to experience a variety of fun.
“Anyway, it’s a victory for us,” said Full-Handed Fred, from greedily putting together the gold and banknotes from the floor where they had fallen during the riot. – And now I think we can take it easy. Where is Arizona Bert?
Belly pointed to the opening of the food elevator. The man burst into echoing laughter and rose unexpectedly.
– Better and better! If he’s down there, he’s certainly had enough. Too bad we can’t have a solemn funeral, for that service he would deserve.
“You don’t have to be gentle, Fred,” she replied. But it seems to be relevant when you get embarrassed: A man who takes his back… No, you know! I…
– You’re holding on to the squeak as I speak, interrupted by Full-Handed Fred irritated not realizing what his fellow partner was aiming for. I am here anyway to the amount and…
– According to my dictation, yes. For if you were to take care of things, we would soon be sitting where neither the moon nor the sun shines. But now try to be a man once. Go to the basement and bring up what’s left of Arizona Bert, and we’ll arrange all three things at once. At the same time, see what’s going on with our little gold mine.
– Which gold mine?
– Cattle! Do not you understand? The first Morgan.
– Hohoo! I understand. But what about these?
– It’s up to me, just do as I say. Take Gaspard with you.
Both villains, who were really just the minions of the serpent enchanter, disappeared. He himself sank into the armchair, starting to tie his wounded hand, throwing that even angry look at both the winners, Dennis Morgan and Handsome Harry, but especially the former, to whom he decided to pay double this time.
With these in mind, he shook the rattlesnake box as if right to irritate the beasts and muttered:
– Wait a minute, wait a minute! You will soon be as pleased as I am. None of them will escape, but hit it properly this time.
Mr Morgan could quite well hear the vengeful words of the angry woman. And he froze at the thought of a new acquaintance with those awful beasts. He would have wanted to pray for mercy. But he couldn’t, because a handkerchief was stuck in his mouth and besides, he was lying face down on the floor.
Handsome Harry, on the other hand, heard nothing. – He was still unconscious and had no idea of the fate that awaited. – And Arizona Bert, the one who was most happy about getting caught, was lying down in the basement.
Mr Morgan touched on how Bertin might have been. Morgan almost wished he was already dead, for it would have been much better than death through the painful snake venom that Morgan had personally experienced.
In the midst of all these non-promising thoughts came one of the downtrodden and stopped at the door, but said nothing. The newcomer was Gaspard, who usually didn’t lack words and who gladly bragged about his condition when it came to some kind of villain work.
– Well, what is it? What has happened?… Is he dead? said the woman getting up nervously from her chair. – Answer, man, and don’t stare at it. – In any case, he must be brought up, alive or dead.
– She’s not there. We didn’t see a glimpse of him in the basement, the answer came cautiously as if one had once feared that he would not be believed.
Miss Belly was muted for a moment. Indeed, he looked at Gaspard as if he did not believe his ears.
Gaspard didn’t have to talk anything else. Full-handed Fred stepped in and he too looked quite embarrassed and fell silent.
– That’s it, Fred! How are things down? Belly asked, increasingly irritated. – Why didn’t you bring Arizona Bert with you?
– Because he wasn’t there.
– It is impossible that he would have escaped after such a fall.
– I do not know.
– That’s when we’re beautifully closed. The house can be surrounded by police at any time.
“And that’s not the worst,” Full-Hand Fred continued, almost in a whisper.
– Not the worst, you say. – So what could be worse?
– The “Gold Mine” has also disappeared.
The half-suppressed outburst of rage broke the silence just as Andy-Joe also appeared and announced:
– A window in the basement is broken. That’s the way they probably escaped. – I also saw footprints by the window, but whether there were one or two, I don’t…
– Shut up! Shut up!… It is not true… He who descends from the food elevator cannot move; and a man bound by his hands and feet cannot break a window, and escape. – No, Arizona Bert has had helpers or is he still there and…
He stopped in the middle of the sentence and added after a few seconds:
And he himself answered this assumption with a cunning ivana laugh while
Full- Handed Fred pointed out:
– Say no more! – The game is lost! – We must escape as soon as possible.
– Fred! – Do you know who you are?
Fred doubted the other meant anything praiseworthy and fell silent.
– You’re a coward! But now I go down myself. – Because I’m not leaving this city like a cat driven out. If you’re a hare, then at least I don’t seem to be.
He went ahead. Full-handed Fred, Gaspard, and Andy-Joe followed with a firm conviction that not even Belly’s genius could help in this matter.
Suddenly Belly stopped and returned again to the room where the prisoners were.
He was followed by those three bodyguards wondering what would come now.
And it didn’t take long to wait.
The snake enchanter grabbed the snake box on the chair. With this dangerous Pandoras box in his hand, he went to the bound ones, who were lying very close together, and said, turning to Morgan,
– It may happen that we don’t meet again, as happy as you might want it to be. – The teaching I gave you the first time does not seem to have been enough. But this time, I promise, you will surely get enough.
He tore the lid of the box, but Full-Handed Fred shouted:
– Not this!… Not just this!… If we get caught, this will only make things worse.
– You’ll get caught if you want, but I’ll make it. But my little friend gets to take care of these. Like so!
And he let out the snakes, which, with faint rattles, began to call their horn rings against each other, producing a sound that terrifies even the natives of the wilderness, though they are always on the lookout.
And the terrible woman continued her speech, turning to Morgan, whom she least tolerated:
– Listen! he said. – You may not be in good shape when I return. – But remember, now it’s over. You have driven us from Albuquerque and done your best to catch us in the belief that we have murdered your brother. It is stupidity that you can now blame yourself for. – But it happens when there is a cattle. – Cope now the way you want. Your stupidity does not deserve better.
– Come on! he said, turning to his companions. – We have nothing else to do here. Now let’s see how it is with Arizona Bert.
The bound seemed to be doomed to terrible death. The snakes would become their judges and slaves. They were already ready to attack as they meandered on the floor, raising that head from there, too, staring at their helpless victims with their wedging eyes.
This time there was no thinking of salvation. Trembling closed Dennis Morgan’s eyes…