“Pass him along to me,” he bade Standish. “Or, you can let him go. He won’t miss the way out.”
“But,” argued Milo, stubbornly retaining his grip on the ragged shirt collar, “I don’t agree with you. I’m going to keep him here and lock him up, till—”
He got no further. The sight of the open door leading to freedom was too much for the youth’s stolidity. Twisting suddenly, he drove his yellow teeth deep into the fleshy part of Standish’s hand. And, profiting by the momentary slackening of Milo’s grasp, he made one wildly scrambling dive across the hall, vaulting over the excited Bobby Burns (and losing a handful of his disreputable trousers to the dog’s jaws in the process) and volleying over the threshold with the speed of an express train.
While Standish nursed his sorely-bitten hand, Brice watched the lad’s lightning progress across the lawn.
Then, still standing in the open doorway, he called back, laughingly to the two others: “Part of my well-built scheme has gone to smash. He didn’t stop to look for any of his clansmen. Not even the redoubtable Pop. He just beat it for the hidden path, without hitting the ground more than about once, on the way. And he dived into the path like a rabbit. He’ll never stop till he reaches the beach. And then the chances are he’ll swim straight out to sea without even waiting to find where the Caesars’ boats are cached .... Best get some hot water and iodine and wash out that bite, Standish. Don’t look so worried, Miss Standish! I’m in no danger, standing here. In the first place, I doubt if they’ll have the nerve to rush the house at all,—certainly not yet, if they didn’t recognize our fast-running friend. In the second, they’re after Hade and your brother. And in this bright light they can’t possibly mistake me for either of them. Hello!” he broke off. “There went one of them, just then, across that patch of light, down yonder. And, unless my eyes are going back on me, there’s another of them creeping along toward the head of the path. They must have seen—or thought they saw—some one dash down there, even if it was too dark for them to recognize him. And they are trying to get some line on who he is .... The moon is coming up. That won’t help them, to any great extent.”
He turned back into the room, partly shutting the door behind him. But he did not finish the process of closing it.
For—sweet, faint, yet distinct to them all—the soaring notes of a mocking-bird’s song swelled out on the quiet of the night.
“Rodney Hade!” gasped Standish. “It’s his first signal. He gives it when he’s a hundred yards from the end. Good Lord! And he’s going to walk straight into that ambush! It’s—it’s sure death for him!”
THE FIGURE IN WHITE
For a moment none of the three spoke. Standish and his sister stared at each other in dumb horror. Then Milo took an uncertain step toward the door. Brice made no move to check him, but stood looking quietly on, with the detached expression of a man who watches an interesting stage drama.