He reached the cabin door, and listened outside to learn whether any one were stirring. He could still hear the sonorous snore of Jack, and could distinguish the deep breathing of his hostess. All seemed to be safe.
He softly opened the door, and closed it after him. Without arousing any one, he made his way up the ladder to the loft, where Bradley lay precisely as he had left him.
Ben threw himself down beside him with a deep sigh of satisfaction, and in ten minutes he, too, was sound asleep.
A Thief’s disappointment.
Jack Garter, regardless of his plans respecting his guests, slept through the night, and it was not till after the sun rose that he opened his eyes. His wife was already up and moving about the room.
Jack stretched himself negligently, but all at once his purpose flashed upon him.
“Bess, what time is it?” he demanded.
“Past six o’clock, as you can see by the sun.”
“Curse it! what made me fall asleep?” ejaculated Jack, with an oath. “Now it may be too late.”
“How long have you been awake, Bess?” he asked.
“An hour or more.”
“Why didn’t you wake me up?” demanded Jack sharply.
“I didn’t know you wanted me to,” answered his wife. “Only yesterday you swore at me for waking you up an hour later.”
“Yesterday isn’t to-day, and I had something to do,” said Jack, looking significantly upward.
“Didn’t you attend to it last night?”
“No; curse my drowsiness! I fell asleep like a natural-born fool that I was.”
“How could I know that? I was asleep myself.”
“You always have some excuse,” said Jack, rather unreasonably. “Just quit movin’ round and makin’ a noise. It may not be too late yet.”
No sound was heard in the loft above. Happily, the two lodgers might still be asleep, so Jack said to himself, and in that case he might still be able to carry out his plan. At any rate, there was no time to lose, and he began softly to ascend the ladder.
When his head reached the level of the flooring he looked eagerly at the rude couch where his guests lay. Both were fast asleep. Bradley was still held in the power of the powerful drug which had been mingled with his wine, and Ben had yielded to the sound and healthful slumber which at his age follows fatigue. His boyish face lay on his hand, and he looked innocent and happy. There was a smile about his lips, for he was dreaming of his far-away home.
The sight might have appealed to any one less hardened than Jack Carter, calling up memories of his own dead boy, and powerfully appealing to what heart he had left. But Jack felt simply relieved to find that the boy, whose wakefulness he had feared, was sound asleep.
“All the better,” he muttered. “It isn’t too late, after all. Now, Jack Carter, is your time. I hope you’ll make a good haul.”