At last he found it. His fingers, steady even under the nervous tension of this unaccustomed labor, discovered the inner pocket and the folded paper. There were several of them; Barney took them all.
So far he made no noise. None of the sleepers had stirred. Now he took a step toward the doorway and—kicked a shoe that lay in his path. The slight noise in that quiet room sounded to Barney’s ears like the fall of a brick wall. Peter of Blentz stirred, turning in his sleep. Behind him Barney heard one of the men in the other bed move. He turned his head in that direction. Either Maenck or Coblich was sitting up peering through the darkness.
“Is that you, Prince Peter?” The voice was Maenck’s.
“What’s the matter?” persisted Maenck.
“I’m going for a drink of water,” replied the American, and stepped toward the door.
Behind him Peter of Blentz sat up in bed.
“That you, Maenck?” he called.
Instantly Maenck was out of bed, for the first voice had come from the vicinity of the doorway; both could not be Peter’s.
“Quick!” he cried; “there’s someone in our room.”
Barney leaped for the doorway, and upon his heels came the three conspirators. Maenck was closest to him—so close that Barney was forced to turn at the top of the stairs. In the darkness he was just conscious of the form of the man who was almost upon him. Then he swung a vicious blow for the other’s face—a blow that landed, for there was a cry of pain and anger as Maenck stumbled back into the arms of the two behind him. From below came the sound of footsteps hurrying up the stairs to the accompaniment of a clanking saber. Barney’s retreat was cut off.
Turning, he dodged into his own room before the enemy could locate him or even extricate themselves from the confusion of Maenck’s sudden collision with the other two. But what could Barney gain by the slight delay that would be immediately followed by his apprehension?
He didn’t know. All that he was sure of was that there had been no other place to go than this little room. As he entered the first thing that his eyes fell upon was the small square window. Here at least was some slight encouragement.
He ran toward it. The lower sash was raised. As the door behind him opened to admit Peter of Blentz and his companions, Barney slipped through into the night, hanging by his hands from the sill without. What lay beneath or how far the drop he could not guess, but that certain death menaced him from above he knew from the conversation he had overheard earlier in the evening.
For an instant he hung suspended. He heard the men groping about the room. Evidently they were in some fear of the unknown assailant they sought, for they did not move about with undue rashness. Presently one of them struck a light—Barney could see its flare lighten the window casing for an instant.