“Shut the door, Carneta,” he said quietly. His companion closed the door and Dexter sat down on the grip, regarding me with his oddly humorous smile.
“You’re a visitor I did not expect, Mr. Cavanagh,” he said. “I expected someone worse. You’ve interfered a bit with my plans but I don’t know that I can’t rearrange things satisfactorily. I don’t think I’ll stop for supper, though—” He glanced at the girl, who stood silent by the door.
“Just pack up the provisions,” he directed, nodding toward the basket—“in the next room.”
She departed without a word.
“That’s a noticeable dust coat you’re wearing, Mr. Cavanagh,” said the American; “it gives me a great notion. I’m afraid I’ll have to borrow it.”
He glanced, smiling, at the revolver in his left hand and back again to me. There was nothing of the bully about him, nothing melodramatic; but I took off the coat without demur and threw it across to him.
“It will hide this stump,” he said grimly; “and any of the Hashishin gentlemen who may be on the look-out—though I rather fancy the road is clear at the moment—will mistake me for you. See the idea? Carneta will be in a cab and I’ll be in after her and away before they’ve got time to so much as whistle.”
Very awkwardly he got into the coat.
“She’s a clever girl, Carneta,” he said. “She’s doctored me all along since those devils cut my hand off.”
As he finished speaking Carneta returned.
She had discarded her rags and wore a large travelling coat and a fashionable hat.
“Ready?” asked Dexter. “We’ll make a rush for it. We meant to go to-night anyway. It’s getting too hot here!” He turned to me.
“Sorry to say,” he drawled, “I’ll have to tie you up and gag you. Apologize; but it can’t be helped.”
Carneta nodded and went out of the room again, to return almost immediately with a line that looked as though it might have been employed for drying washing.
“Hands behind you,” rapped Dexter, toying with the revolver—“and think yourself lucky you’ve got two!”
There was no mistaking the manner of man with whom I had to deal, and I obeyed; but my mind was busy with a hundred projects. Very neatly the girl bound my wrists, and in response to a slight nod from Dexter threw the end of the line up over a beam in the sloping ceiling, for the room was right under the roof, and drew it up in such a way that, my wrists being raised behind me, I became utterly helpless. It was an ingenious device indicating considerable experience.
“Just tie his handkerchief around his mouth,” directed Dexter: “that will keep him quiet long enough for our purpose. I hope you will be released soon, Mr. Cavanagh,” he added. “Greatly regret the necessity.”
Carneta bound the handkerchief over my mouth.
Dexter extinguished the gas.
“Mr. Cavanagh,” he said, “I’ve gone through hell and I’ve lost the most useful four fingers and a thumb in the United States to get hold of the Prophet’s slipper. Any one can have it that’s open to pay for it—but I’ve got to retire on the deal, so I’ll drive a hard bargain! Good-night!”