“Get up,” he said.
The other half-raised himself and regarded the speaker with dazed eyes. “What for?”
John Steele went to the stand, picked up his revolver, and then sat down at a table. “You’re as foul a fighter as you ever were,” he said contemptuously.
* * * * *
THE LAST SHIFT
The candle burned low; it threw now on grimy floor and wall the shadows of the two men, one seated at the table, the other not far from it. Before John Steele lay paper and ink, procured from some niche. He had ceased writing; for the moment he leaned back, his vigilant gaze on the figure near-by. From a corner of the room the rasping sound of a rat, gnawing, broke the stillness, then suddenly ceased.
“Where were you on the night this woman, Amy Gerard, was found dead?”
A momentary expression of surprise, of alarm, crossed the bruised and battered face; it was succeeded by an angry suspicion that glowed from the evil eyes. “You’re not trying to fix that job on—–”
“Then what did you follow him here for, to pump me? The Yankee that got transported is—”
“As alive as when he stepped before you in the ring!”
“Alive?” The fellow stared. “Not in England? It was death for him to come back!”
“Never mind his whereabouts.”
The man looked at Steele closer. “Blame, if there isn’t something about you that puzzles me,” he said.
The fellow shook his head. “And so he’s hired you?”
“Not exactly. Although I may say I represent him.”
“Well, he got a good one. You know how to use your fists, Mister.”
“Better than this ’Frisco Pet did once, eh, Tom?” The man frowned. “But to return to the subject in hand. That question you seemed afraid to answer just now was superfluous; I know where you were the night the woman was shot.”
“Yes; you were—” John Steele leaned forward and said something softly.
“How’d you find that out?” asked the man.
“The ’Frisco Pet knew where you were all the time; but did not speak, because he did not wish to get you into trouble. Also, because he did not know, then, what he long afterward learned,—indirectly!—that you could have cleared him!”
“Indirectly? I? What do you—?”
“Through your once having dropped a few words. Wine in, wits out!”
The fellow scowled; edged his chair closer.
“Keep where you are!” John Steele’s hand touched the revolver now on the table before him; even as it did so, the room seemed to sway, and it was only by a strong effort of will he kept his attention on the matter in hand, fought down the dizziness. “And let’s get through with this! I don’t care to waste much more of my time on you.”