Bonner’s inspiration began to wear off. Pure luck had aided him up to this stage, but the bearding of David in his lair was another proposition altogether. His only hope was that he might find the man asleep. He was not taking the old woman into consideration at all. Had he but known it, she was the most dangerous of all.
His chance, he thought, lay in strategy. It was impossible to open the trap-door from above, he had found by investigation. There was but one way to get to Miss Gray, and that was by means of a daring ruse. Trusting to luck, he tapped gently on the floor at the spot where memory told him the trap-door was situated. His heart was thumping violently.
There was a movement below him, and then the sound of some one handling the bolts in the door. Bonner drew back, hoping against hope that a light would not be shown. In one hand he held his revolver ready for use; in the other his heavy walking stick. His plans were fully developed. After a moment the trap was lifted partially and a draft of warm air came out upon him.
Jack, the Giant Killer
“That you, Sam?” half whispered a man’s voice. There was no light.
“Sh!” hissed Bonner, muffling his voice. “Is everybody in?”
“Bill’s waitin’ fer you outside. Ma an’ me are here. Come on down. What’s up?”
“How’s the girl?”
“Bellerin’ like a baby. Ma’s with her in the cave. Hurry up! This thing’s heavy.”
For reply Bonner seized the edge of the door with his left hand, first pushing his revolver in his trousers’ pocket. Then he silently swung the heavy cane through the air and downward, a very faint light from below revealing the shock head of Davy in the aperture. It was a mighty blow and true. Davy’s body fell away from the trap, and a second later Bonner’s dropped through the hole. He left the trap wide open in case retreat were necessary. Pausing long enough to assure himself that the man was unconscious and bleeding profusely, and to snatch the big revolver from Davy’s person, Bonner turned his attention to the surroundings.
Perhaps a hundred feet away, at the end of a long, low passage, he saw the glimmer of a light. Without a second’s hesitation he started toward it, feeling that the worst of the adventure was past. A shadow coming between him and the light, he paused in his approach. This shadow resolved itself into the form of a woman, a gigantic creature, who peered intently up the passage.
“What’s the matter, Davy?” she called in raucous tones. “You damn fool, can’t you do anything without breaking your neck? I reckon you fell down the steps? That you, Sam?”
Receiving no answer, the woman clutched the lantern and advanced boldly upon Bonner, who stood far down the passage, amazed and irresolute. She looked more formidable to him than any of the men, so he prepared for a struggle.