He stood at the telephone, the receiver still held to his ear and his right forefinger holding down the hook while the line cleared. When he spoke again, Shirley knew he was calling his mill-office. He got a response immediately, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour.
“Sexton? Pennington speaking. I’ve sent over the Black Minorca with a rifle and sixty rounds of ammunition... What? You can hear him shooting already? Bully boy with a crockery eye! He’ll clean that gang out and keep them from working until the police arrive. You’ve telephoned Rondeau, have you?... Good! He’ll have his men waiting at the log-landing, and there’ll be no delay. As soon as you’ve seen the switch-engine started for the woods, meet me down at Water and B streets. Sexton, we’ve got to block them. It means a loss of millions to me if we fail!”
Shirley was standing in the doorway as he faced about from the telephone. “Uncle Seth,” she said quietly, “use any honourable method of defeating Bryce Cardigan, but call off the Black Minorca. I shall hold you personally responsible for Bryce Cardigan’s life, and if you fail me, I shall never forgive you.”
“Silly, silly girl!” he soothed her. “Don’t you know I would not stoop to bush-whacking? There’s some shooting going on, but its wild shooting, just to frighten Cardigan and his men off the job.”
“You can’t frighten him,” she cried passionately, “You know you can’t. He’ll kill the Black Minorca, or the Black Minorca will kill him. Go instantly and stop it.”
“All right, all right!” he said rather humbly, and sprang down the front steps into the waiting car. “I’ll play the game fairly, Shirley, never fear.”
She stood in the doorway and watched the red tail-light, like a malevolent eye, disappear down the street. And presently as she stood there, down the boulevard a huge gray car came slipping noiselessly— so noiselessly, in fact, that Shirley recognized it by that very quality of silence. It was Bryce Cardigan’s Napier.
“George!” she called. “Come here.”
The car slid over to the gate and stopped at the sight of the slim white figure running down the garden walk.
“Is Mr. Cardigan hurt?” she demanded in an agony of suspense.
George Sea Otter grunted contemptuously. “Nobody hurt ’cept the Black Minorca. I am taking him to your company hospital, miss. He tried to shoot my boss, so I shoot him myself once through the leg. Now my boss says: ‘Take him to the Laguna Grande hospital, George.’ Me, I would drop this greaser in the bay if I was the boss.”
She laughed hysterically. “On your way back from the hospital stop and pick me up, George,” she ordered. “This senseless feud has gone far enough. I must stop it—at once.”
He touched his broad hat, and she returned to the house to dress.
Meanwhile Colonel Pennington had reached the crossing once more, simultaneously with the arrival of Sam Perkins, the chief of police, accompanied by two automobiles crammed with patrolmen. Perkins strutted up to Bryce Cardigan and Buck Ogilvy.