In this way he might possibly gain time.
Jack softly stepped from round to round of the ladder, and presently his head peered above the floor. He started angrily when he saw the boy at the window.
“What are you about there, boy?” he demanded roughly.
Ben turned, and said composedly: “I am looking out.”
“Why are you not in bed and asleep, like your friend?”
“I tried to sleep, sir, but I couldn’t.”
“Do you expect to get to sleep looking out of that hole?”
“I thought I’d see how light it was.”
“Well, I can’t have you trampin’ round, keepin’ the old woman and me awake. I wouldn’t have let you sleep here ef I had known that’s the way you spend the night.”
“I beg pardon if I disturbed you,” said Ben politely.
“Well, that don’t do no good, your apologizin’. Jest lay down and get to sleep in a hurry, or I’ll know the reason why.”
“All right, sir,” said Ben submissively.
“What’s the name of that chap that’s with you?” continued Jack.
“It’s Jake Bradley.”
“He’s a sensible man, he is. He lays down and goes to sleep, while you’re trampin’ round the room and lookin’ out of doors. You won’t see nothin’ to pay you.”
“I think you’re right, sir. I’ll lie down and go to sleep.”
“You’d better. Me and the old woman can’t be kept awake all night.”
When Ben had resumed his place on the floor, the intruder descended the ladder. Though it would have been easy enough to execute his plan of robbery now, he evidently preferred to wait till both the travelers should be asleep.
It was not true, as he had said, that he had heard Ben moving about. In fact, it had been a surprise to him to find the boy up, but this afforded a convenient and plausible pretext for his intrusion, and he had availed himself of it.
Ben’s midnight excursion.
When Jack Carter went downstairs it was his intention to wait from half an hour to an hour, and then to make another visit to his lodgers. This would allow time for Ben to fall asleep, and, although Jack would have had no difficulty in overcoming his resistance, he preferred to commit the robbery when both the travelers were in a state of unconsciousness.
But he overestimated his ability to keep awake. Usually he was a sound sleeper, and during the day preceding he had taken a long walk across the mountains. The natural result followed. While he was waiting for Ben to fall asleep, he fell asleep himself. Ben was not long in ascertaining this welcome fact. A series of noises, not very musical, announced that Jack was asleep. He had a confirmed habit of snoring, to which, fortunately, his wife had become accustomed, so that it did not disturb her rest.
Ben crept near the edge of the loft and looked over. The bed on which his amiable host reposed was in full view. Both husband and wife were fast asleep, and their sleep was likely to be protracted.