“You’re on an island,” Ossie reminded him.
“I meant a real island,” murmured Perry. Ossie was about to argue the matter when footsteps approached and they moved off again. A flight of steps led to a stone-floored verandah and they went up it and perched themselves on the parapet, to the probable detriment of the ivy growing across it, and watched the colourful scene. They were quite alone there, for the porch was detached from the terrace that crossed the front of the house. Two French windows were opened and beyond them lay a dimly-lighted library. Perry, hugging one foot in his hands, looked in approvingly.
“Whoever owns this shanty knows what’s what,” he said. “Just have a squint at all those books, will you? Millions of them! Wonder if anyone has ever read them.”
“Well, I’m glad I don’t have to,” said Wink feelingly. “But that’s a corking room, though. These folks must have slathers of money, fellows.”
“Oh, fairly well fixed, I dare say,” responded Perry carelessly. “Say, what time is it! Feed begins at ten, and with all that mob down there it’s the early bird that’s going to catch the macaroons. Wonder if they’ll have lobster salad.”
“Nothing but sandwiches and ices, I guess,” said Ossie. “I wouldn’t object to a steak and onions, myself. Funny how hungry you get up in this part of the world.”
“You sure do,” agreed Wink. “Let’s move along. If the Corwin family gets in there ahead of us we might just as well pull in our belts and beat it.”
“Let’s go in through here,” said Perry. “It’s nearer, I guess.” He started toward the first window.
“Oh, we’d better not,” Ossie objected. “They might not like it.”
“Piffle! They’ll be tickled to death. They like folks to see their pretties.” He stepped through the window and, dubiously, his companions followed. The library was a huge apartment, occupying, as it seemed to them, more than half the length of the house, with several long windows opening onto the terrace at the front. The furnishings were sombrely elegant and the dim lights caught the dull polished surface of mahogany and glinted on the gold-lettered backs of the shelf on shelf of books that hid the walls. Deep-toned rugs rendered footsteps soundless as they made their way toward the wide doorway at the far end of the room. They had traversed barely a third of the distance when a sudden sound brought them up short.
One of the windows that opened onto the terrace further along swung inward and a middle-aged man in evening attire stepped into the room. Perry, in spite of his former assurance, drew back into the shadow of a high-backed chair, stepping on Wink’s foot and bringing a groan from that youth. The newcomer, however, evidently failed to hear Wink’s protest, for, closing the window behind him in a stealthy manner, he crossed the further end of the library and paused beside a huge stone fireplace. Wink and Ossie