It was a cold blooded proposition, but neither face exhibited any regret; both were intoxicated by success; untroubled by any scruples of conscience. West felt the utter uselessness of an attempt to appeal to either.
“Where is Natalie Coolidge?” he asked, his own determination hardening. “What do you propose doing with her?”
Hobart’s teeth exhibited themselves in a sardonic grin.
“That is our business, but you can bet she’ll not interfere.”
“And a similar answer, I presume, will apply also to my case?”
“It will. Don’t make the mistake, West, of believing we are damn fools. I don’t know just why I’ve blowed all this to you, but it ain’t going to help you any, you can be sure of that. In fact your knowing how the thing was worked is liable to make things a blame sight harder in your case. We won’t do no more talking; so go on in through that door.”
The fellow’s demeanour had entirely changed; he was no longer pretending to geniality, and his words were almost brutal. Apparently, all at once, it had dawned sharply upon him that they had made a mistake—had boasted far too freely. Any slip now, after what had been said, would wreck the ship. West faced him watchfully, fully aware of the desperate situation, instinctively feeling that this might be his last chance.
“In there, you say?” indicating the closed door.
He did; with one swift leap forward, the whole impetus of his body behind the blow, West drove his fist straight into the face confronting him. The fellow reeled, clutched feebly at the smooth wall for support, dropped helplessly forward, and fell headlong, with face hidden in outstretched arms. The assailant sprang back, and turned, in a mad determination to crash his way out through the locked door behind, but as suddenly stopped startled by the vision of a levelled revolver pointed at his head.
“Not a move,” the girl said icily. “Take one step, and I’ll kill you.”
Hobart lifted his head groggily, and pushed himself half-way up on his knees.
“Don’t shoot unless he makes you, Del,” he ordered grimly. “We don’t want that kind of row here.” He dragged himself painfully to the side door, and pressed it open.
“Hey you!” he cried. “Come on out here. Now then, rough-house this guy!”
McADAMS BLOWS IN
It was a real fight; they all knew that when it was finished. But it was three to one, with Hobart blocking the only open door, and egging them on, and the excited girl, backed into a corner out of the way, the revolver still gripped in her hand, ready for any emergency. The narrowness of the hall alone afforded West a chance, as the walls protected him, and compelled direct attack from in front. Yet this advantage only served to delay the ending. He recognized two of the fellows—“Red”