In ten seconds, it seemed to Kent, Marette Radisson was again the splendid creature who had held the three men at bay over the end of her little black gun at barracks. The sound of Mooie’s second warning came at first as a shock. Accompanying it there was a moment of fear, of fear driven almost to the point of actual terror. Following it came a reaction so swift that Kent was dazed. Within those ten seconds the girl’s slender body seemed to grow taller; a new light flamed in her face; her eyes, turning swiftly to him, were filled with the same fire with which they had faced the three constables. She was unafraid. She was ready to fight.
In such moments as these it was the quiet and dispassionate composure of her voice that amazed him most. It was musical in its softness now. Yet in that softness was a hidden thing. It was like velvet covering steel. She had spoken of Niska, the Gray Goose, the goddess of the Three Rivers. And he thought that something of the spirit of a goddess must be in Marette Radisson to give her the courage with which she faced him, even as the metallic thing outside tapped its warning again at the window.
“Inspector Kedsty is coming back,” she said. “I did not think he would do that—tonight.”
“He has not had time to go to barracks,” said Kent.
“No. Possibly he has forgotten something. Before he arrives, I want to show you the nest I have made for you, Jeems. Come quickly!”
It was her first intimation that he was not to remain in her room, a possibility that had already caused him some inward embarrassment. She seized a number of matches, turned down her light, and hurried into the hall. Kent followed her to the end of this hall, where she paused before a low half-door that apparently opened into some sort of a space close under the sloping roof of the bungalow.
“It is an old storeroom,” she whispered. “I have made it quite comfortable, I think. I have covered the window, so you may light the lamp. But you must see that no light shows under this door. Lock it on the inside, and be very quiet. For whatever you find in there you must thank M’sieu Fingers.”
She pulled the door slightly open and gave him the matches. The illumination in the lower hall made its way only dimly to where they stood. In the gloom he found himself close to the soft glow of her eyes. His fingers closed about her hand as he took the matches.
“Marette, you believe me?” he entreated. “You believe that I love you, that I didn’t kill John Barkley, that I am going to fight for you as long as God gives me breath to fight?”
For a moment there was silence. Her hand withdrew gently from his.
“Yes, I think that I believe. Good-night, Jeems.”
She went from him quickly. At her door she turned. “Go in now, please,” she called back softly. “If you care as you say you do, go in.”