A lone walker moves rather slowly along the main street of Phoenix, the capital of Arizona. The city with its six thousand people is not much to praise. But it often happens that the residents get into a lively movement. And the reason for that, of course, is always some new alley of wild Arizona boys.
This time, however, it was incredibly peaceful, nothing particularly attracted the attention of the lone traveler, despite the fact that he was visibly a stranger to the locality and saw for the first time the authentic cowboy capital.
The man wore a large felt hat, shiny leather vests with sleeves, and long-sleeved boots with yellow corduroy pants pierced. He seemed to be an intermediate form between a touring and a cowboy, but otherwise by no means eye-catching — not even because of his screaming red scarf, which both ends flapped like wings. Of course, there was no lack of readily available revolvers in the back pockets.
But he was a stranger in the locality, otherwise he would have moved with greater certainty and not looked everywhere as he did — to finally stop at a gate that led to a small courtyard adorned with swinging palm trees, pepper trees, oleanders, and other delights.
Behind the trees was a two-story brick building and a low side building for service personnel.
When it had begun to dim and would soon become completely dark, not much could be distinguished from this loveliness. But as the stranger stood and watched, a light came into the small window above the gate and he could see the number of the house, which made him happily growl and mutter to himself:
– It might be cunning… These poker sharks are not met from where they are released. But in any case… Let go!
The leather-vested man once again glanced at the attractive house number – exactly the one he had been looking for – and at the same time took his hand into the nearest revolver pocket – as if to feel that everything was fine there, and renewed the same movement on the opposite side. – After that, he went as silently as possible to the closed gate, trying to step so that his footsteps in the sizzling sand would not be heard in vain.
At the gate with a brass letterbox and nameplate, he stopped to listen once more.
Inside, as well as in the yard and on the street, everything was quiet.
Somewhere far away in town there was a dog barking. That’s all.
He pulled back to the side to be able to look at the other side of the house as well. But it had already become so dark that he could not even tell if there were windows. – But suddenly he noticed the railway trees right next to the wall, perhaps a fire escape, which on closer inspection turned out to lead to the roof. He also saw that the ladder led very close to the balcony on the second floor, so that it could move itself up the stairs, either up or down – which I guess was the intention in the event of a fire.
The stranger was reassured by this attention. He saw in it a means of salvation from more than the danger of fire; so, for a moment he felt almost as if he were to use just the balcony as he entered and not the usual road used.
However, this idea was rejected as quickly as it had come. It would put him on a war foot with those inside, and his intention was to appear as cautiously as possible — to achieve his headline for which he had come.
Moments later, he was next to the gate again. Finally, he held out his hand resolutely and pressed the button on the electric clock.
The look on his face when the gate opened in the blink of an eye was certainly the best sign of astonishment one could think of. – It seemed as if he had stood inside ready to open at any moment and he could only, as has been said, look extremely fooled when a shiny black Negro appeared in the fire at the gate opening, grimacing him with a welcome and saying parrot-like machine:
– Who’s looking for?
– I am looking for a homeowner or rather a tenant, Mr Täyskäsi-Fred, the answer came almost as mechanically – although not as it would have been if he had had a few seconds to think.
– I don’t feel it, said the black grimacing so that his teeth shone.
– Don’t you? Well, maybe named Fred Folson?
– Fred Folson? –
– Exactly. And don’t stand there like a grim orangutan…
I’m looking for Fred Folson and…
– How was the name.
– Do I really have to shout it in your ears?… Fred…
– I heard that. But what is your own name?
– Dennis Muley.
The Negro chewed his nails in good peace and looked helpless.
– Wait a minute, Mr. Muley; he said at last and struck the gate in front of a stranger’s nose. This allowed to hear a few words, by failing to mention which we do him the best service.
Fortunately, for his tried-and-true patience, he didn’t have to wait long. The gate to the mysterious dark house reopened and this time back to back. – With a face radiating joy, the Negro said:
– Warmly welcome, sir! Step inside! Step inside! –
Mr Folson asked you to wait in the salon, sir… Step in…
I’ll show you the way…
The guest was taken to a beautifully decorated hall. The Negro opened the door to the other room and the guest heard him shout there:
– Miss Belly! Here is a gentleman who wants to meet Mr. Folson. Hey!
The last word sounded like a suppressed evil laugh and by no means seemed promisingly good. But the guest hadn’t expected any better. And he was fully vigilant whether expected or not.
A very pleasant female voice from the inner room was heard to say:
– Ask him to step in.
Mr Dennis Muley, by whose name we so far want to call him, obeyed the order. He pushed the Negro standing at the door aside and was in the next second in a fine cabinet furnished with silk-covered mahogany furniture, thick sound-absorbing carpets, and gold-framed mirrors on the walls that made the room look much larger than it was. Of the many electric lamps in the chandelier, only two burned, surrounded by dim curtains, so that the lighting was very dim.
At the back of the room was an American desk. In front of it sat a young woman dressed in a fine home suit. As far as the guest could tell, the woman looked quite beautiful and was busy putting on solitaire. Anyway, he had the cards in his hands and he seemed so attached to them that he barely noticed the arrival of the guest.
Mr Dennis Muley pounded lightly.
There was a faint exclamation from the woman’s lips. He got up, made a hand movement, and at the same time emitted the brightest light into the room.
He had put his hand on the electric knob and now stood in the bright lighting that at first glance dazzled the stranger. The woman exclaimed in a harmonious voice:
– Forgive me, sir… Distracted as usual, when predicting cards. – How can I serve you?
The sudden power of the lighting and the woman’s behavior, but even more so her strange eyes, had made the stranger mad. He was indebted to the answer and just stared at the woman as he continued:
– Who are you looking for?
– Mr Full Hand Fred.
“Full-handed Fred?”… Him, or rather, Mr. Fred Folsonia, are you looking? Or maybe something else “Full Hand”? added the woman laughing laughingly.
– Yes, that’s true.
– What’s true?
– That I’m looking for Mr. Full-Handed Fred.
– In that case, I’m grieving that you can’t meet him.
– Isn’t it? But he said to me that he is resident here and I have come Thereupon.
– But he’s not here… What do you want from him?
– I have a private matter.
– I’m sorry again.
– I’m looking for a place here.
The woman’s eyes shone strangely. He said with a smile:
– Did you come because of the announcement?
The guest mechanically pulled a newspaper from his pocket, handed it to the woman, and pointed to the announcement in question without answering anything other than a brief nod and words.
– Well! This here.
– Yes. I know this.
And the woman looked at the stranger as if this had been a miraculous animal, looked at her to get to her feet, and finally said:
– And you would qualify – as a thrower?
– I think so,
– Possible… but not here.
– I’ve been out of the thrower before – New-York.
– Maybe, but not in Arizona.
“Is it more difficult here,” said the guest, who was a large and broad-shouldered man, but perhaps did not meet the standard required here.
– The blood is usually hot in the south. Don’t you know what is required here.
– This is a place to play.
The woman woke up as if the answer didn’t please her. He replied with inquisitive looks:
– In that case, very private . Only for friends and acquaintances.
– But then maybe you don’t need a thrower at all, said the guest with a disappointed look.
– Correct! Although between…
– Well! Then I take the place… as an experiment.
– Otatte? – first ask if you can.
– Just Thereupon I have come here. – And I’m strong enough to throw out of ten, if so required, and the friendship is broken … I mean, the game does not go all mental model. – That’s the kind of man I am. – I start at any time.
Once again, after looking at the man, the woman said:
– All right, let’s hear what my brother says.
– Yes, Mr. Full Hand Fred, Mr. Folson, I mean.
– Where is he then?
– I’ll wait for him home anytime. – Sit that long. You can take a look at the newspapers. They are on that corner table. I think my brother is coming soon.
The woman with her miraculous eyes disappeared and the guest sat down, but as soon as the door closed she became busier and less cowboy-like than the whole time before.
With extreme interest, he examined everything in the room with his gaze. Suddenly he got up tensely and crawled silently like a cat to the closed door leading to the hall and put his ears against it.
But there was no sound, not even behind the door from which the woman had disappeared.
The third door or hallway was from the room.
A heavy curtain was attached to it, and the guest looked at it for a long time before creeping up to it.
The door behind the curtain was locked in a double lock. On that side, he did not think he needed to fear any surprises when he planned to undertake ongoing investigations during this unexpected waiting period.
He went to the desk, where the woman had been playing with the cards.
The table was locked. The cards were wide on the drawn board. There was nothing suspicious here that he had hoped to find. But when his profession involved clearing all possible resistance, he brought out a collection of tools used by locksmiths — worse, thieves — and prepared to continue his research in this mysterious house without realizing that the curtain was now swinging silently and the door behind it was opened. Standing at the door was the same woman who had just been inside, staring sharply at every stranger’s movement with her piercing eyes, while a malicious smile flashed through her well-formed lips.
Yes, the investigating guest had no idea that he was being closely watched. He himself did not know that he was the victim of a cleverly tuned trap, nor that he, but his opponents, had the upper hand.
The place he had gotten to because of his personal affairs was one of the worst caves in the small Arizona capital, though little was known about it, for everything was so secretive and disguised that even the city police did not know for sure what was going on there, although it had drawn some conclusions. .
In the meantime, the viewer could see how the stranger got the table open without much effort. He also saw how this began to browse and read the papers in all the hustle and bustle, opening the box one after the other – using his time as well as possible and being obviously quite pleased that he had been left alone for so long.
But he couldn’t find what he was looking for. He put everything carefully in its former place, letting that one also hear the murmur of dissatisfaction. Finally he pulled down the desk cover and closed the desk.
Just when he was done, he shuddered.
There was a suspicious voice behind the curtain. Turning there, he saw quite clearly that it was moving as if from a weak air draft. At the same time, he was hearing how the door behind it was locked.
Did someone from there maybe sneak in carefully? In this way would the expected come?
The stranger just stared as he instinctively took his hand on another revolver, ready to face violence with violence if needed.
But behind the curtain was quiet and silent. The guest thought he had seen and heard wrong, which, however, for certainty, he wanted to state.
On his toes creeping, he suddenly pulled the curtain aside.
There was no one there.
Yes, anyway. Down on the floor, between the curtain and the door, was a small tin box with half-open lids, and when he had not seen it before, his curiosity had to take a closer look at this so mysteriously appeared box.
He bent down and gently raised the lid.
At the same time there was a rustling sound, and before he had time to retreat, the most frightening reptile on earth — the rattlesnake — was wrapped around his arm while its horned tail flicked back and forth briskly, causing just that well-known and frightening sound.
But that’s not all. Attempts to release the manure did not lead to any result until a couple more of those terrible and venomous snakes had meandered out of the box and attacked him, while wrapped around his arm Puri him just as he flew it to the floor… but too late.
The rattlesnake had bitten him.
If antidote and treatment were not received in time, he would definitely be lost.
Then he heard the door open and the aforementioned woman scream with full lungs:
– Here, Fred! Hurry up! He’s caught! Spy! Fred! Fred! Take
Gaspard with you.
It didn’t take many seconds for two armed men to show up next to the woman screaming at Fred, ready to let the bullets ring while the guest – fearing snakes and new bites – didn’t dare move and knew what to do. He was helplessly lost.