Nerving himself to the ordeal, and pulling down his hat to obscure his features, Jack crossed the lawn and started mounting the wide flight of stone steps flanked by crouching stone lions. He reached the marble tiles of the walk above and then, despite his anxiety to gain the left wing and the tower where his father was confined, he involuntarily paused.
The scene before him was one of the strangest to be found on the North American continent—this marble courtyard, with its overhanging balcony around the sides and rear and its splashing fountain and pool in the center, the whole illuminated by the soft glow of electric lights cunningly concealed along the edges of the balcony like footlights on the lip of a stage.
But it was not this alone which held Jack’s gaze riveted and caused a smothered cry of surprise to burst from his lips. Involuntarily he stepped from the shelter of a pillar behind which he had been standing.
For approaching along the balcony of the left wing, Jack saw the loved figure of his father engrossed in conversation with a small, dark man of patrician bearing.
It was instinct rather than conscious thought which checked the cry on his lips. Instinct told him a shout would mean betrayal, and the shattering of his desperate plan.
Yet careless of who might see, he stood there looking up at the distant figure until it was lost to view, cut off by the outjutting roof above him. That one sight, however, lifted a vast load from the boy’s mind. His father, at least, was not mistreated. Evidently the man with him was the Don. And as evidently his father was treated more as guest than prisoner.
At sound of a footstep on the marble tiles behind him, Jack returned with a start to a realization of his surroundings and the perils of his position. Assuming a carelessness which he was far from feeling, he refrained from turning about but instead started walking for that left wing ahead in the tower of which he knew his father to be lodged.
But the step behind him was accelerated, and he was hailed by name as Morales. Jack halted. Here was the first ordeal to be passed. Well, he was prepared for it. According to his plan, he had bound his face in a handkerchief and intended to pretend having the toothache. The swathings partly hid his features, and the pulled-down hat further obscured them.
“I’m busy. Don’t delay me,” he growled in Spanish, imitating Morales’ voice.
The newcomer approached. It was Muller.
THE NIGHT ATTACK
When Jack’s figure had become merged in the shadows of the grove, big Bob, standing beside the airplane, reached a decision.
“Not a soul in sight here,” he muttered to himself, once more letting his gaze rove over his surroundings. “Jack thought it would be best for me to stay here, but nobody’s going to monkey with the plane. I’m going to follow him—till he reaches the house, anyhow. He may need my help.”