“Sure I do!” answered Jimmie promptly.
“Where are they?”
“They’re up in that house—Lacey Granitch an’ a lady named Helen—”
And instantly the door of the car was flung open. A man leaped out, and another man, and another; they kept coming—Jimmie would not have believed that an automobile could have held so many people. Not one of them said a word, but all started on the run for Jimmie’s house as if they were charging in a battle.
Jimmie followed behind. He heard sounds of a scuffle on the lawn, and screams from inside. At first the little farm-hand could not make up his mind what to do, but finally he ran to the house; and there in the front room he saw the beautiful lady, with her wet hair streaming down her back, and the tears streaming down her face, sunk on her knees, before the man who had hailed Jimmie from the automobile. She had caught his coat with her two hands, and clung to it with such desperation that when he tried to draw away he dragged her along the floor. “Paul!” she was screaming. “What are you going to do?”
“Be quiet! Be quiet!” commanded the man. He was young, tall and superhumanly handsome; his face had the white light of a passionate resolve, his lips were set like those of a man who is marching to his death in battle. “Answer me!” cried the woman again and again; until finally he said: “I shan’t kill him; but I mean to teach him his lesson.”
“Paul, Paul, have mercy!” sobbed the woman; she went on pleading hysterically, in the most dreadful distress that Jimmie had ever seen or heard. “It wasn’t his fault, Paul, it was mine! I did it all! Oh, for Christ’s sake! You are driving me mad!” She moaned, she implored, she sobbed till she choked herself; and when the man tried to tear her hands loose she fought with him, he could not get free of her.
“You’re not going to move me, Helen,” he declared. “You might as well get that clear.”
“But I tell you it was my fault, Paul! I ran away with him!”
“All right,” answered the man, grimly. “I’ll fix him so no other man’s wife will ever run away with him.”
Her clamour continued more wildly than ever, until two other men came into the room. “Joe,” said Paul, to one of them, “take her down to the car and keep her there. Don’t let her call for help—if anybody comes along, keep her quiet, keep your hand tight over her mouth.”
“Paul, you’re a fiend!” shrieked the woman. “I’ll kill you for this!”
“You’re welcome to,” answered the man. “I shouldn’t care—but I’m going to do this job before I die.” And he tore the woman’s hands away from him, and by his stern anger he gave the other two men the necessary resolution. They carried her, half-fainting, out of the room.
All this time Jimmie Higgins had been standing like one turned to stone; and Lizzie had shrunk into a far corner of the room, all but paralysed with terror. Now the man turned to them. “My good people,” he said, “we want to borrow your room for a half-hour or so. We’ll pay you well for it—enough to buy the whole house if you want to.”