“Please don’t make any disturbance, gentlemen,” said Marette Radisson. “The first man that makes a suspicious move, I shall kill!”
Her voice was calm and thrilling. It had a deadly ring in it. The revolver in her hand was held steadily. It was a slim-barreled, black thing. The very color of it was menacing. And behind it were the girl’s eyes, pools of flame. The three men were facing them now, shocked to speechlessness. Automatically they seemed to obey her command to throw up their hands. Then she leveled her grim little gun straight at Pelly’s heart.
“You have the key,” she said. “Unlock the cell!” Felly fumbled and produced the key. She watched him closely. Then suddenly the special constable dropped his arms with a coarse laugh. “A pretty trick,” he said, “but the bluff won’t work!”
“Oh, but it will!” came the reply.
The little black gun was shifted to him, even as the constable’s fingers touched his revolver holster. With half-smiling lips, Marette’s eyes blazed at him.
“Please put up your hands,” she commanded.
The constable hesitated; then his fingers gripped the butt of his gun. Kent, holding his breath, saw the almost imperceptible tensing of Marette’s body and the wavering of Pelly’s arms over his head. Another moment and he, too, would have called the bluff if it were that. But that moment did not come. From the slim, black barrel of the girl’s revolver leaped forth a sudden spurt of smoke and flame, and the special constable lurched back against the cell bars, caught himself as he half fell, and then stood with his pistol arm hanging limp and useless at his side. He had not made a sound, but his face was twisted in pain.
“Open the cell door!”
A second time the deadly-looking little gun was pointed straight at Pelly’s heart. The half-smile was gone from the girl’s lips now. Her eyes blazed a deeper fire. She was breathing quickly, and she leaned a little toward Pelly, repeating her command. The words were partly drowned in a sudden crash of thunder. But Pelly understood. He saw her lips form the words, and half heard,
“Open the door, or I shall kill you!”
He no longer hesitated. The key grated in the lock, and Kent himself flung the door wide open and sprang out. He was quick to see and seize upon opportunity and swift to act. The astounding audacity of the girl’s ruse, her clever acting in feigning horror to line the guards up at the cell door and the thrilling decisiveness with which she had used the little black gun in her hand set every drop of blood in his body afire. No sooner was he outside his cell than he was the old Jim Kent, fighting man. He whipped Carter’s automatic out of its holster and, covering Pelly and the special constable, relieved them of their guns. Behind him he heard Marette’s voice, calm and triumphant,
“Lock them in the cell, Mr. Kent!”