“Suppose you tell us what you were doing at that safe?” said Perry sternly.
“Is that any of your business?” asked the other. It was evident that he was losing his temper again, and Wink drew a step nearer. “I presume I have a perfect right to open my own safe! What I wish to know—”
“Your own safe!” gasped Perry. “Oh, come now, you needn’t try to tell us that you—you live here. You’re a cracksman, my friend, that’s what you are—”
Ossie tugged at Perry’s sleeve, but Perry failed to notice it.
“One look at that face of yours is enough, old top,” continued Perry. “It’s got crook written all over it!”
“It has, has it?” gasped the man. “Let me tell you that my name is Drummond, sir, and that this is my house, and that is my safe, and—and if you’ll mind your own business—”
“What!” asked Perry weakly. “You mean that you—that this—you mean that—”
“I mean,” interrupted the man angrily, “that I was about to deposit some money in that safe, some money I’d been carrying around in my pocket all the evening and feared I might lose, when you—you young thugs set on me and knocked me down! Knocked me down right in my own house, on my own hearth-rug! Why, you—you—”
Mr. Drummond’s wrath got the better of his speech and he only sputtered, waving an accusing finger at the retreating Perry. Wink was already glancing about for a means of escape and Ossie was frankly deserting.
“I—I didn’t know!” gasped Perry. “I—we saw you come in—and you looked like—like a—”
“You’ve said that already!” said the man, “Never mind my criminal looks, young man!”
“No, sir, we don’t—I mean I was mistaken, sir! But, you see, it looked so—so queer, you coming in like that—”
“Queer! What was queer about it!” demanded Mr. Drummond irascibly, “No one but a parcel of young idiots would think it queer!” He took an envelope from his pocket, tossed it into the safe, closed door and panel and faced them again. “Who are you, anyway? I don’t remember you.”
“Er—my name—my name—” stammered Perry, “my name—”
“Well, well! Don’t you know your name? Who invited you here?”
“Yes, sir, oh, yes, sir! It’s Bush. We—you see, we were on the porch there, and we wanted to get back to the—the front of the house—”
“Who invited you here, tonight? Who—” The host’s expression changed from indignation to suspicion. “Huh!” he ejaculated. “Robber, eh! Well, what were you doing in this room? Seems to me—hm! We’ll look into this, I think!” He stepped back and touched a button in the wall. “We’ll have this explained! We’ll see who the robber is! We—”
“Good night!” Perry spurned the table against which he was leaning, hurdled a chair and plunged down the room. Ossie was at his heels and Wink was a good third. They fled at top speed and from behind them came the irate commands of their host: