“He’ll be killed!” gasped Van, his face as white as Joel’s robe fluttering below them in his wild descent. “Stop him, Percy. Oh! do stop him.”
Percy clung to the window-sill, and danced in distress. “Stop him!” he was beyond uttering anything more.
“Yes, oh, Joe! don’t you see it’s only Percy and Van?” cried Van persuasively, and hanging out of the window to the imminent danger of adding himself to Joel’s company.
Percy shoved him back. “He’s ’most down,” he said, finding his breath. “Now we’ll run downstairs and let him in.”
Van flew off from the window. “I’ll go; it’s my scrape,” and he was unlocking the door.
“I’m the oldest,” said Percy, hurrying to get there first. “I ought to have known better.”
This made Van furious, and pushing Percy with all his might, he wriggled out first as the door flew open, and not forgetting to tiptoe down the hall, he hurried along, Percy behind him, to hear the noise of men’s feet coming over the stairs.
Van tried to rush forward shouting, “Thomas, it’s we boys—Percy and Van.” Instead, he only succeeded in the darkness, in stumbling over a chair, and falling flat with it amid a frightful racket that drowned his voice.
Old Mr. King who had been awakened by the previous noise, and had rung his burglar alarm that connected with Thomas’s and Jencks’s rooms in the stable, now cried out from his doorway. “Make quick work, Thomas,” and Percy saw the gleam of a pistol held high in Thomas’s hand.
Up with a rush came bare feet over the back stairs; a flutter of something white, and Joel sprang in between them. “It’s Percy—it’s Percy!” he screamed, “don’t you see, Thomas?”
“I’m Percy—don’t shoot!” the taller burglar kept saying without intermission, while the flaring of candles and frightened voices, told of the aroused household.
“Make quick work, Jencks!” shouted Mr. King from his doorway, to add to the general din.
Thomas, whose blood was up, determined once for all to put an end to the profession of burglary as far as his master’s house was concerned, now drew nearer, steadying his pistol and trying to sight the nearest fellow. This proved to be Van, now struggling to his feet.
Joel took one wild step forward. “Thomas—don’t shoot! It’s Van!”
“Make quick work, Thomas!” called Mr. King.
There was but a moment in which to decide. It was either Van or he; and in an instant Joel had stepped in front of the pistol.
OF MANY THINGS
Van threw his arms around Joel. “Make quick work, Thomas,” called Mr. King from his doorway. The pistol fell from Thomas’s hand. “I’ve shot one of the boys. Och, murther!” he screamed.
And everybody rushing up supposed it was Van, who was writhing and screaming unintelligibly in the corner.