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|Rudder Grange||Frank R. Stockton|
Treating of a Novel Style of Burglar
|Page 2 of 6||
I hurried on a few clothes, and then I tried to find the bureau in the dark. This was not easy, as I lost my bearings entirely. But I found it at last, got the top drawer open and took out my pistol. Then I slipped out of the room, hurried up the stairs, opened the door (setting off the alarm there, by the way), and ran along the deck (there was a cold night wind), and hastily descended the steep steps that led into the boarder's room. The door that was at the bottom of the steps was not fastened, and, as I opened it, a little stray moonlight illumed the room. I hastily stepped to the bed and shook the boarder by the shoulder. He kept HIS pistol under his pillow.
In an instant he was on his feet, his hand grasped my throat, and the cold muzzle of his Derringer pistol was at my forehead. It was an awfully big muzzle, like the mouth of a bottle.
I don't know when I lived so long as during the first minute that he held me thus.
"Rascal!" he said. "Do as much as breathe, and I'll pull the trigger."
I didn't breathe.
I had an accident insurance on my life. Would it hold good in a case like this? Or would Euphemia have to go back to her father?
He pushed me back into the little patch of moonlight.
"Oh! is it you?" he said, relaxing his grasp. "What do you want? A mustard plaster?"
He had a package of patent plasters in his room. You took one and dipped it in hot water, and it was all ready.
"No," said I, gasping a little. "Burglars."
"Oh!" he said, and he put down his pistol and put on his clothes.
"Come along," he said, and away we went over the deck.
When we reached the stairs all was dark and quiet below.
It was a matter of hesitancy as to going down.
I started to go down first, but the boarder held me back.
"Let me go down," he said.
"No," said I, "my wife is there."
"That's the very reason you should not go," he said. "She is safe enough yet, and they would fire only at a man. It would be a bad job for her if you were killed. I'll go down."
So he went down, slowly and cautiously, his pistol in one hand, and his life in the other, as it were.
When he reached the bottom of the steps I changed my mind. I could not remain above while the burglar and Euphemia were below, so I followed.
The boarder was standing in the middle of the dining-room, into which the stairs led. I could not see him, but I put my hand against him as I was feeling my way across the floor.
I whispered to him:
"Shall we put our backs together and revolve and fire?"
"No," he whispered back, "not now; he may be on a shelf by this time, or under a table. Let's look him up."
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Frank R. Stockton
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