The Pagan Madonna (Chapter 10, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 10

Cleigh was not only a big and powerful man--he was also courageous, but
the absence of Dodge and the presence of Cunningham offered such sinister
omen that temporarily he was bereft of his natural wit and initiative.

"Where's Dodge?" he asked, stupidly.

"Dodge is resting quietly," answered Cunningham, gravely. "He'll be on his
feet in a day or two."

That seemed to wake up Cleigh a bit. He drew his automatic.

"Face to the wall, or I'll send a bullet into you!"

Cunningham shook his head.

"Did you examine the clip this morning? When you carry weapons like that
for protection never put it in your pocket without a look-see. Dodge
wouldn't have made your mistake. Shoot! Try it on the floor, or up through
the lights--or at me if you'd like that better. The clip is empty."

Mechanically Cleigh took aim and bore against the trigger. There was no
explosion. A depressing sense of unreality rolled over the Wanderer's
owner.

"So you went into town for her luggage? Did you find the beads?"

Cleigh made a negative sign. It was less an answer to Cunningham than an
acknowledgment that he could not understand why the bullet clip should be
empty.

"It was an easy risk," explained Cunningham. "You carried the gun, but I
doubt you ever looked it over. Having loaded it once upon a time, you
believed that was sufficient, eh? Know what I think? The girl has hidden
the beads in her hair. Did you search her?"

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