The Bat (Chapter 5, page 1 of 15)


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Chapter 5

Miss Cornelia dropped her newspaper. Lizzie, frankly frightened, gave a little squeal and moved closer to her mistress. Only Billy remained impassive but even he looked sharply in the direction whence the sound had come.

Miss Cornelia was the first of the others to recover her poise.

"Stop that! It was the wind!" she said, a little irritably--the "Stop that!" addressed to Lizzie who seemed on the point of squealing again.

"I think not wind," said Billy. His very lack of perturbation added weight to the statement. It made Miss Cornelia uneasy. She took out her knitting again.

"How long have you lived in this house, Billy?"

"Since Mr. Fleming built."

"H'm." Miss Cornelia pondered. "And this is the first time you have been disturbed?"

"Last two days only." Billy would have made an ideal witness in a courtroom. He restricted himself so precisely to answering what was asked of him in as few words as possible.

Miss Cornelia ripped out a row in her knitting. She took a deep breath.

"What about that face Lizzie said you saw last night at the window?" she asked in a steady voice.

Billy grinned, as if slightly embarrassed. "Just face--that's all."

"A--man's face?"

He shrugged again.

"Don't know--maybe. It there! It gone!"

Miss Cornelia did not want to believe him--but she did. "Did you go out after it?" she persisted.

Billy's yellow grin grew wider. "No thanks," he said cheerfully with ideal succinctness.

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