The City of Fire (Chapter 6, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 6

Billy was doing some rapid thinking while he stood motionless in the
bushes. It seemed a half hour, but in reality it was but a few seconds
before he heard a low whistle. The men piled rapidly into the car with
furtive looks on either side into the dark.

Billy gave a wavering glance toward the looming house in the darkness
where the motionless figure had been left. Was it a dead man lying
there alone, or was he only doped. But what could he do in the dark
without tools or flash? He decided to stick with the machine, for he
had no desire to foot it home, and anyway, with his bicycle he would be
far more independent. Besides, there was the perfectly good automobile
to think about. If the man was dead he couldn't be any deader. If he
was only doped it would be some time before he came to, and before
these keepers could get back he would have time to do something. Billy
never doubted his responsibility in the matter. It was only a question
of expediency. If he could just "get these guys with the goods on
them," he would be perfectly satisfied.

He made a dash for his seat at the back while the car was turning, and
they were off at a brisk pace down the mountain, not waiting this time
to double on their tracks, but splashing through the Creek only once
and on up to the road again.

Like an uneasy fever in his veins meantime, went and came a vision of
that limp inert figure of the man being carried into the haunted house
as it stood out in the flare of the flash light, one arm hanging
heavily. What did that hand and arm remind him of? Oh--h! The time when
Mark was knocked cold at the Thanksgiving Day Football game last year.
Mark's hand and arm had looked like that--he had held his fingers like
that--when they picked him up. Mark had the base-ball hand! Of course
that rich guy might have been an athlete too, they were sometimes. And
of course Mark was right now at home and in bed, where Billy wished he
was also, but somehow the memory of that still dark "knocked cold"
attitude, and that hanging hand and arm would not leave him. He frowned
in the dark and wished this business was over. Mark was the only living
soul Billy felt he could ever tell about this night's escapade, and he
wasn't sure he could tell him, but he knew if he did that Mark would
understand.

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