PublicBookshelf Book Club
William MacLeod Raine
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How long she remained there Phyllis did not know. Fear drummed at her heart. She was sick with apprehension. At last her very terror drove her out to learn the worst. She walked round to the front of the house and saw a light in the store. Swiftly she ran across and up the steps to the porch. Three men were inside examining the empty chair by the light of a lantern one held in his hand.
"Did--did he get away?" the girl faltered.
The men turned. One of them was Slim. He held in his hand pieces of the slashed rope and the open pocket-knife that had freed the prisoner.
"Looks like it," Slim answered. "With some help from a friend. Now, I wonder who that useful friend was and how in time he got in here?"
Her eyes betrayed her. Just for an instant they swept to the cellar door, to make sure it was still shut. But that one glance was enough. Slim, about to speak, changed his mind, and stared at her with parted lips. She saw suspicion grow in his face and resolve itself to certainty, helped to decision by the telltale color dyeing her cheeks.
"Does the cellar stairway from the store connect with the kitchen cellar, Phyllie?" he asked.
He nodded, then laughed without mirth. "I reckon I can tell you, boys, who Mr. Keller's friend in need is."
"Who? I'd like right well to know." Brill Healy, in a pallid fury, had just come in and was listening.