“Why not?” asked Jimmy.
“The doctor won’t permit it.”
Edith tried to dissuade him, but he insisted that is was absolutely necessary for him to be at the office when the C.P.A.’s report was made.
“I’ll be over there Friday evening or Saturday morning at the latest,” he said as she bid him good-bye.
And so it was that, despite the pleas of his nurse and the orders of his physician, Jimmy appeared at the plant Friday afternoon. Bince greeted him almost effusively, and Mr. Compton seemed glad to see him out again.
That evening Harold Bince met Murray at Feinheimer’s, and still later the Lizard received word that Murray wanted to see him.
“Everything’s ready,” the boss explained to the Lizard. “The whole thing’s framed for to-morrow night. The watchman was discharged to-day. Another man is supposed to have been hired to take the job, but of course he won’t show up. You meet me here at seven thirty to-morrow night, and I’ll give you your final instructions and tell you how to get to the plant.” The C.P.A.’s were slow in completing their report. At noon on Saturday it looked very much to Bince that there would be no report ready before Monday. He had spent most of the forenoon pacing his office, and at last, unable longer to stand the strain, he had announced that he was going out to his country club for a game of golf.
He returned to his down-town club about dinner-time, and at eight o’clock he called up Elizabeth Compton.
“Come on up,” said the girl. “I’m all alone this evening. Father went back to the office to examine some reports that were just finished up late this afternoon.”
“I’ll be over,” said Bince, “as soon as I dress.” If there was any trace of surprise or shock in his tones the girl failed to notice it.
At ten o’clock that night a figure moved silently through the dark shadows of an alleyway in the area of the International Machine Company’s plant on West Superior Street. As he moved along he counted the basement windows silently, and at the fifth window he halted. Just a casual glance he cast up and down the alley, and then, kneeling, he raised the sash and slipped quietly into the darkness of the basement.
At about the same time Jimmy’s landlady called him to the telephone, where a man’s voice asked if “this was Mr. Torrance?” Assured that such was the fact, the voice continued: “I am the new watchman at the plant. There’s something wrong here. I can’t get hold of Mr. Compton. I think you better come down. I’ll be in Mr. Compton’s office—” The message ceased as though central had disconnected them.
“Funny,” thought Jimmy, “that he should call me up. I wonder what the trouble can be.” But he lost no time in getting his hat and starting for the works.
Although the Lizard knew that there was no danger of detection, yet from long habit he moved through the plant of the International Machine Company with the noiselessness of a disembodied spirit. Occasionally, and just for the briefest instant, he flashed his lamp ahead of him, but though he had never been in the place before he found it scarcely necessary, so minute had been his instructions for reaching the office from the fifth basement window.