The City of Fire (Chapter 9, page 1 of 14)


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Chapter 9

After Billy had listened a long time he took a single step to relieve
his cramped toes, which were numb with the tensity of his strained
position. Stealthily as he could he moved his shoe, but it seemed to
grind loudly upon the cement floor of the cellar, and he stopped frozen
in tensity again to listen. After a second he heard a low growl as if
someone outside the house were speaking. Then all was still. After a
time he heard the steps again, cautiously, walking over his head, and
his spine seemed to rise right up and lift him, as he stood trembling.
He wasn't a bit superstitious, Billy wasn't. He knew there was no such
thing as a ghost, and he wasn't going to be fooled by any noises
whatsoever, but anybody would admit it was an unpleasant position to be
in, pinned in a dark unfamiliar cellar without a flash light, and steps
coming overhead, where only a dead man or a doped man was supposed to
be.

He cast one swift glance back at the cobwebby window through which
he had so recently arrived, and longed to be back again, out in the
open with the bells, the good bells sounding a call in his ears. If he
were out wouldn't he run? Wouldn't he even leave his old bicycle to any
fate and run? But no! He couldn't! He would have to come back
inevitably. Whoever was upstairs in that house alone and in peril he
must save. Suppose--!--His heart gave a great dry sob within him and he
turned away from the dusty exit that looked so little now and so
inadequate for sudden flight.

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