“He’d ought to go to jail, Dammy,” said Mrs. Egg. “It’s just awful! I bet the police are lookin’ for him right now.”
“Mamma, if we put him in jail this’ll be all over the county and you’ll never hear the end of it.”
She stared at the ape with loathing. There was a star tattooed on one of his naked insteps. He looked no longer frail, but wiry and snakelike. The pallor behind his dark tan showed the triangles of black stain in his cheeks and eye sockets.
“He’s too smart to leave loose, Dammy.”
“It’ll be an awful joke on you, Mamma.”
“I can’t help it, Dammy. He——”
The prisoner figure toppled back against Adam’s breast and the mouth opened hideously. The lean legs bent.
“You squeezed him too tight, Dammy. He’s fainted. Lay him down.”
Adam let the figure slide to the floor. It rose in a whirl of blue linen. Mrs. Egg rocked on the chest.
The man thrust something at Adam’s middle and said in a rasp, “Get your arms up!”
Adam’s face turned purple beyond the gleaming skull. His hands rose a little and his fingers crisped. He drawled,
“Fact. I ought have looked under your duds, you——”
“Stick ’em up!” said the man.
Mrs. Egg saw Adam’s arms tremble. His lower lip drew down. He wasn’t going to put his arms up. The man would kill him. She could not breathe. She fell forward from the ice chest and knew nothing.
She roused with a sense of great cold and was sitting against the shelves. Adam stopped rubbing her face with a lump of ice and grinned at her.
He cried, “By gee, you did that quick, Mamma! Knocked the wind clear out of him.”
“Where is he, Dammy?”
“Dunno. Took his gun and let him get dressed. He’s gone. Say, that was slick!”
Mrs. Egg blushed and asked for a drink. Adam dropped the ice into a mug of pear cider and squatted beside her with a shabby notebook.
“Here’s somethin’ for October 10, 1919.” He read: “’Talked to a man from Ilium to-day in Palace Bar. Myrtle married to John Egg. Four children. Egg worth a wad. Dairy and cider business. Going to build new Presbyterian church.’ That’s it, Mamma. He doped it all out from the diary.”
“The dirty dog!” said Mrs. Egg. She ached terribly and put her head on Adam’s shoulder.
“I’ll put all the diaries up in the attic. Kind of good readin.’ Say, it’s after two. You better go to bed.”
In her dreams Mrs. Egg beheld a bronze menacing skeleton beside her pillow. It whispered and rattled. She woke, gulping, in bright sunlight, and the rattle changed to the noise of a motor halting on the drive. She gave yesterday a fleet review, rubbing her blackened elbows, but felt charitable toward Frisco Cooley by connotation; she had once sat down on a collie pup. But her bedroom clock struck ten times. Mrs. Egg groaned and rolled out of bed, reaching for a wrapper. What had the cook given Adam for breakfast? She charged along the upper hall into a smell of coffee, and heard Adam speaking below. His sisters made some feeble united interjection.