“Back after a while” he told Jim.
The young man on the bed grunted sleepily and the deputy returned to the parlor.
Pauline, still in her kitchen apron, smiled in at the door upon him and her father.
“You two go out on the porch and smoke your pipes,” she said. “I have to finish my work in the kitchen, then I have to go down to the cellar and take care of the milk. Ill not be long.”
Pierre, an obedient parent, rose and moved toward the porch. Before he left the room Goodheart took the precaution to lock the bedroom door and pocket the key. He was a little ashamed of this, but he knew that Go-Get-’Em Jim was a very competent and energetic person. Convicted and sentenced though he was, Clanton still boasted with cool aplomb that there would be no hanging on the sixth. The deputy strolled round to the back of the house to make sure his assistant was still on the job. After a few words with the man he returned to the porch. He was satisfied there was no possible chance of an escape. The prisoner lay handcuffed and tied to a bed by the champion roper of the Southwest. The door of the room was locked Both exits from the house were guarded. Jack felt that he could safely enjoy a smoke.
Goodheart Makes a Promise and Breaks It
Pauline was a singularly honest little soul, but she now discovered in herself unsuspected capacity for duplicity. She went singing about her work, apparently care-free as a lark. Presently, still humming a French chanson, she appeared on the porch swinging a key, passed the two men with a gay little nod, and disappeared around the corner of the house to the cellar.
The rancher apologized for the key. “We’ve had to lock the cellar lately since so many movers have been going through on this road. Eh bien! Our hams—they took wings and flew.”
Polly rattled the milk pans for a moment or two and then listened. From above there came to her the sound of three faint raps on the woodwork of the bed. She crept up the stairs that led from the cellar into the house. At the top of them was a trapdoor. Very slowly and carefully she pushed this up. Through the opening she passed into a bedroom.
Softly the girl stole to the bed. From the cellar she had brought a butcher knife and with this she sawed at the rope which bound the prisoner.
“But your handcuffs. What can we do about them?” she whispered.
Clanton stretched his stiff muscles. He made no answer in words. For a moment or two his arms writhed, then from out of the iron bracelet his long slender hand slowly twisted. Soon the second wrist was also free.
“I’ve had a lot of fun poked at my girl hands, but they come in useful sometimes,” he murmured.
“I’ll have to hurry back or I’ll be missed,” she told him. “You’ll find a saddled horse in the aspens.”