Click! It seemed to come from his right.
“Come out o’ that!” he snarled. “No monkey-business, or I’ll shoot.”
He flashed his pocket-lamp toward the sound, and aimed.
A blow on the side of the head sent the detective crashing against a cartonnage, and together the quick and the dead rolled to the floor. Instinctively Haggerty turned on his back, aimed at the window and fired.
When the constellation, which was not included among the accepted theories of Copernicus, passed away, Haggerty sat up and rubbed the swelling over his ear, tenderly yet grimly. Next, he felt about the floor for his pocket-lamp. A strange spicy dust drifted into his nose and throat, making him sneeze and cough. A mummy had reposed in the overturned cartonnage and the brittle bindings had crumbled into powder. He soon found the lamp, and sent its point of vivid white light here and there about the large room.
Pursuit of his assailant was out of the question. Haggerty was not only hard of head but shrewd. So he set about the accomplishment of the second best course, that of minute and particular investigation. Some one had entered this deserted house: for what? This, Haggerty must find out. He was fairly confident that the intruder did not know who had challenged him; on the other hand, there might be lying around some clue to the stranger’s identity.
Was there light in the house, fluid in the wires? If so he would be saved the annoyance of exploring the house by the rather futile aid of the pocket-lamp, which stood in need of a fresh battery. He searched for the light-button and pressed it, hopefully. The room, with all its brilliantly decorated antiquities, older than Rome, older than Greece, blinded Haggerty for a space.
“Ain’t that like these book chaps?” Haggerty murmured. “T’ go away without turning off th’ meter!”
The first thing Haggerty did was to scrutinize the desk which stood near the center of the room. A film of dust lay upon it. Not a mark anywhere. In fact, a quarter of an hour’s examination proved to Haggerty’s mind that nothing in this room had been disturbed except the poor old mummy. He concluded to leave that gruesome object where it lay. Nobody but Crawford would know how to put him back in his box, poor devil. Haggerty wondered if, after a thousand years, some one would dig him up!
Through all the rooms on this floor he prowled, but found nothing. He then turned his attention to the flight of stairs which led to the servants’ quarters. Upon the newel-post lay the fresh imprint of a hand. Haggerty went up the stairs in bounds. There were nine rooms on this floor, two connecting with baths. In one of these latter rooms he saw a trunk, opened, its contents carelessly scattered about the floor. One by one he examined the garments, his heart beating quickly. Not a particle of dust on them; plenty of finger-prints on the trunk. It had been opened this very night—by one familiar, either at first-hand or by instruction. He had come for something in that trunk. What?