“I have every reason to believe that we have made a mistake,” I said to Harmony in a hoarse whisper. “From an envelope dropped by this party in my house I am lead to believe that he’s a respectable gentleman who entered my premises quite by mistake.”
The chin whiskers owned and engineered by Diggs bobbed up and down as he chewed a reflective cud, but he couldn’t see the matter in my light at all.
I had used all kinds of arguments and was just about to give up in despair when a voice in the doorway caused us both to turn.
There stood Bunch Jefferson, the real fellow, looking as fresh as a daisy.
“What’s the trouble, John?” he asked, smiling benignly on Diggs.
While I was talking to the representative of the law, Mr. Slick saw his opportunity and grabbed it by the hind leg. He had quietly reached the door, and once outside the sledding was excellent.
Bunch had his business suit on under the burglar make-up. It didn’t take him two minutes to work the shine darbies over his hands. He then peeled off the ulster and the tuppeny trousers, and throwing these and the Svengalis over the fence, he was home again from the Bad Lands.
The transformation scene was made complete by the fact that Bunch was now wearing my hat.
In answer to Bunch’s question, the redoubtable Diggs smiled indulgently and said with pride-choked tones, “A maleyfactor, sir, caught in the meshes of the law and hauled before this here trybune of Justice by these hands!”
The eagle eye of Diggs was now triumphantly sighted along the arm and over the bony hand to where the criminal was supposed to be, but when the gaze finally rested on an empty bench the expression of pained surprise on the old man-hunter’s map was calculated to make a hen cackle.
Diggs rushed over to the bench, turned it upside down, looked behind the chairs, and then, emitting a roar that rattled the rafters, he hustled back to see if by any chance the prisoner had locked himself up in a cell.
Bunch gave the old geezer the minnehaha and yelled, “Say! you with the me-ya-ya’s on the chin! Did somebody give you the hot-foot and make a quick exit?”
Diggs was now in full eruption and heavy showers of Reub lava rose from his vocal organs and fell all over the place, while he thrashed around the calaboose in a frenzy of excitement.
“Maybe you’re sending out a general alarm about that human meteor that passed me on the pike a few minutes ago?” Bunch suggested.
Diggs turned and eyed him in open-mouthed silence.
“A mutt with a pink ulster and one of those pancakes on his head like the drivers of the gasoline carts wear,” Bunch suggested.
“It’s him! it’s the maleyfactor!” exclaimed Harmony, tightening his grip on the night stick; “which way did the derned cuss go?”
Bunch pointed due south-east, and with a howl of rage Diggs sprang forward and bounced down the pike like a hungry kangaroo on its way to a lunch counter.