“Of course. She is a woman.”
“Does she recognize you?”
“No,” with a laugh. “She called me her best friend last night. If she only knew!”
“She would still call you her best friend, perhaps. Your ‘make-up’ is a good one, Sarah, since she has failed to recognize you. What brought the doctor?”
Susan Sharpe briefly told him.
Mr. Ingelow whistled expressively.
“So soon? But I have thought so. He is not the man to wait. Well, we must be ahead of him, Sarah.”
“I have it all arranged. Miss Dane must escape to-night. Look at this.”
He pointed to a basket at his feet.
Mrs. Sharpe lifted the cover, and saw two lumps of raw beef.
“Well?” she asked, wonderingly.
“‘A sop for Cerberus,’” laughed Hugh Ingelow; “a supper for the dogs. They’ll never want another after.”
“What do you mean?”
“The meat is poisoned; there is strychnine enough in these two pieces to kill a dozen dogs. I mean to throw that to them this evening.”
“Over the wall, of course. What’s their names? They’ll come when I call them.”
“Tiger and Nero.”
“So be it. Tiger and Nero will devour the beef and ask no questions. An hour after they’ll be as dead as two door-nails.”
“Poor fellows! But it can’t be helped, I suppose?”
“I suppose not. Save your sympathy, Sarah. You must do for the three old folks.”
“Poison them, too?” asked Sarah, grimly.
“Not quite. Just put them to sleep.”
Mr. Ingelow produced a little white paper from his vest pocket.
“You see this powder?” holding it up. “Drop it into the tea-pot this evening, and don’t drink any of the tea.”
The woman shrunk a little.
“I’m almost afraid, Mr. Ingelow. I don’t like drugging. They’re old and feeble; I daren’t do it.”
“You must do it,” Hugh Ingelow said, sternly. “I tell you there is no danger. Do you take me for a murderer?”
“No; but there might be a mistake.”
“There is none. The powder is an opiate; it will harm no one. They will go to sleep a little earlier, and sleep a little longer and a little sounder than usual—that is all.”
Mrs. Sharpe took the paper, but with evident reluctance.
“I tell you it is all right,” reiterated Hugh Ingelow; “no one is to be murdered but the dogs. Doctor Oleander will have no scruple about drugging Miss Dane on Friday night, you will see. The choice lies between her and them. Are you going to fail me at the last, Sarah?” sternly.
“No,” said the woman. She dropped the little package in her pocket, and looked him firmly in the face. “I’ll do it, Mr. Ingelow. And then?”
“And then the dogs will be dead, and the people asleep, before ten o’clock. At ten I’ll be at the gate; a vehicle will be waiting down below in the clump of cedars. You will open the house door and the garden gate, and let me in. Before another day we’ll be in the city.”