“I tell you you shan’t have it,” said Ted.
The knife went above the man’s head, and in the wielder’s face was a look of the most diabolical hatred Ted had ever seen in a human countenance.
“For the last time,” said the man hoarsely.
There was something about the fellow’s actions that told Ted he was desperate, yet at the same time afraid of the act he was about to commit.
The knife was about to descend when Ted cried out an alarm, the first he had sounded.
He heard some one running in the hall. His assailant heard it, also, and hesitated, looking around with frightened eyes.
“Yi-yipee!” It was Bud’s voice, and Ted breathed a prayer of thankfulness.
“I’ll give it to you, anyhow,” muttered the man, and again the knife went up in the air.
But it did not make a strike, for at that moment Bud bounded into the room, and, taking in the situation with a lightning glance, his foot flew out, and the toe of his heavy boot struck the man on top of Ted fairly in the ribs. There was a cracking sound, and with a groan the fellow dropped the knife and struggled to his feet.
Rushing at Bud, he bowled that doughty individual over like a tenpin, and dashed into the hall, along which he ran swiftly and lightly, for so large a man.
When Bud had picked himself up and run to the stairway, he could hear the fellow clattering down the stairs three flights below.
“Well, dash my hopes,” said Bud, “if he didn’t get clear away. He shore treated me like a leetle boy. But I reckon he’s in sech a hurry because he’s on his way ter a drug store fer a porious plaster fer them ribs o’ hisn.”
Ted had picked himself up and was rubbing his arm, which had been strained by his falling on it.
“What’s this yere all erbout?” asked Bud. “I’m comin’ up ter call on yer when I hears yer blat, an’ I come runnin’, an’ what do I see? A large, pale stranger erbout ter explore yer system with er bowie. Yer mixin’ in sassiety quicker’n usual, seems ter me.”
Ted had picked up the knife, which had fallen beneath the bed, and was looking at it.
“I wonder where this came from,” he said, turning it over in his hand.
“Wherever it came from, it’s a wicked-lookin’ cuss,” said Bud. “But what wuz ther feller goin’ ter explore yer with it fer?”
“This letter,” said Ted, taking the crumpled paper from his pocket and handing it to Bud.
“Jumpin’ sand hills, ther plot thickens,” said Bud, when he had finished reading it. “I don’t seem ter be in it at all. What’s it all erbout? Ye’ve got my coco whirlin’ shore.”
The abandoned motor car.
“I’ll tell you,” said Ted, “if you’ll take a seat and keep quiet until I get the thing straightened out in my own mind, for the incidents of the past hour certainly have got me going.”