She had reached the bottom of her pile of letters—these to be thrown away, these to be answered—ah, here was one she had overlooked somehow. She took it up. It must be the one Lizzie had wanted to throw away—she smiled at Lizzie’s fears. The address was badly typed, on cheap paper—she tore the envelope open and drew out a single unsigned sheet.
If you stay in this house any longer—death. Go back to the city at once and save your life.
Her fingers trembled a little as she turned the missive over but her face remained calm. She looked at the envelope—at the postmark—while her heart thudded uncomfortably for a moment and then resumed its normal beat. It had come at last—the adventure —and she was not afraid!
She knew who it was, of course. The Bat! No doubt of it. And yet —did the Bat ever threaten before he struck? She could not remember. But it didn’t matter. The Bat was unprecedented— unique. At any rate, Bat or no Bat, she must think out a course of action. The defection of cook and housemaid left her alone in the house with Lizzie and Billy—and Dale, of course, if Dale returned. Two old women, a young girl, and a Japanese butler to face the most dangerous criminal in America, she thought grimly. And yet—one couldn’t be sure. The threatening letter might be only a joke—a letter from a crank—after all. Still, she must take precautions; look for aid somewhere. But where could she look for aid?
She ran over in her mind the new acquaintances she had made since she moved to the country. There was Doctor Wells, the local physician, who had joked with her about moving into the Bat’s home territory—He seemed an intelligent man—but she knew him only slightly—she couldn’t call a busy Doctor away from his patients to investigate something which might only prove to be a mare’s-nest. The boys Dale had met at the country club—“Humph!” she sniffed, “I’d rather trust my gumption than any of theirs.” The logical person to call on, of course, was Richard Fleming, Courtleigh Fleming’s nephew and heir, who had rented her the house. He lived at the country club—she could probably reach him now. She was just on the point of doing so when she decided against it—partly from delicacy, partly from an indefinable feeling that he would not be of much help. Besides, she thought sturdily, it’s my house now, not his. He didn’t guarantee burglar protection in the lease.
As for the local police—her independence revolted at summoning them. They would bombard her with ponderous questions and undoubtedly think she was merely a nervous old spinster. If it was just me, she thought, I swear I wouldn’t say a word to anybody—and if the Bat flew in he mightn’t find it so easy to fly out again, if I am sixty-five and never shot a burglar in my life! But there’s Dale—and Lizzie. I’ve got to be fair to them.