It was nine o’clock when he rang for Jason.
“Jason,” he said abruptly, as the other entered, “I want you to telephone for Doctor Merlin.”
“The doctor, sir!” exclaimed the old man anxiously. “You’re—you’re not ill, Master Jim, sir?”
“Do I look ill, Jason?” inquired Jimmie Dale gravely.
“Well, sir,” admitted Jason, in concern; “a bit done up, sir, perhaps. A little pale, sir; though I’m sure—”
“I’m glad to hear it,” said Jimmie Dale, sitting up in bed. “The worse I look, the better!”
“I—I beg pardon, sir?” stammered Jason.
“Jason,” said Jimmie Dale, gravely again, “you have had reason to know that on several occasions my life has been threatened. It is threatened now. You know from last night that this house is now watched. You may, or you may not have surmised—that our telephone wires have been tapped.”
“Tapped, sir!”—Jason’s face had gone a little gray.
“Yes; a party line, so to speak,” said Jimmie Dale grimly. “Do you understand? You must be careful to say no more, no less than exactly what I tell you to say. Now go and telephone! Ask the doctor to come over and see me this morning. Simply say that I am not feeling well; but that, apart from being apparently in a very nervous condition, you do not know what is the matter.”
“Yes, sir—good Lord, sir!” gasped Jason—and left the room to carry out his orders.
An hour later, Doctor Merlin had been and gone—and had left two prescriptions; one written, the other verbal. With the written one, Benson, in his chauffeur’s livery, was dispatched to the drug store; the verbal one was precisely what Jimmie Dale had expected from the fussy old family physician: “Two or three days of quiet in the house James; and if you need me again, let me know.”
“Now, Jason,” said Jimmie Dale, when the old man had returned from ushering Doctor Merlin from the house, “our friends out there will be anxious to learn the verdict. I was to dine with the Ross-Hendersons to-morrow night, was I not?”
“Yes, sir; I think so, sir.”
“Make sure!” said Jimmie Dale. “Look in my engagement book there on the table.”
“Yes, sir, that’s right,” he announced.
“Very good,” said Jimmie Dale softly. “Now go and telephone again, Jason. Present my regrets and excuses to the Ross-Hendersons, and say that under the doctor’s orders I am confined to the house for the next few days—and, Jason!”
“When Benson returns with the medicine let him bring it here himself—and I shall want you as well.”