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She could make out the Hayden-Bond mansion on the corner ahead of her now, and now she was abreast of the rather ornate and attached little building, that was obviously the garage. She drew the key from her pocket, and glanced around her. There was no one in sight. She stepped swiftly to the small door that flanked the big double ones where the cars went in and out, opened it, closed it behind her, and locked it.
For a moment, her eyes unaccustomed to the darkness, she could see nothing; and then a car, taking the form of a grotesque, looming shadow, showed in front of her. She moved toward it, felt her way into the tonneau, lifted up the back seat, and, groping around, found a flashlight. She meant to hurry now. She did not mean to let that nervous dread, that fear, that was quickening her pulse now, have time to get the better of her. She located the door that led to the house, and in another moment, the short passage behind her, she was in the kitchen, the flashlight winking cautiously around her. She paused to listen here. There was not a sound.
She went on again - through a swinging pantry door with extreme care, and into a small hall. "On the right," the Sparrow had said. Yes, here it was; a door that opened on the rear of the library, evidently. She listened again. There was no sound - save the silence, that seemed to grow loud now, and palpitate, and make great noises. And now, in spite of herself, her breath was coming in quick, hard little catches, and the flashlight's ray, that she sent around her, wavered and was not steady. She bit her lips, as she switched off the light. Why should she be afraid of this, when in another five minutes she meant to invite attention!
She pushed the door in front of her open, found it hung with a heavy portiere inside, brushed the portiere aside, stepped through into the room, stood still and motionless to listen once more, and then the flashlight circled inquisitively about her.
It was the library. Her eyes widened a little. At her left, over against the wall, the mangled door of a safe stood wide open, and the floor for a radius of yards around was littered with papers and documents. The flashlight's ray lifted, and she followed it with her eyes as it made the circuit of the walls. Opposite the safe, and quite near the doorway in which she stood, was a window recess, portiered; diagonally across from her was another door that led, presumably, into the main hall of the house; the walls were tapestried, and hung here and there with clusters of ancient trophies, great metal shields, and swords, and curious arms, that gave a sort of barbaric splendor to the luxurious furnishings of the apartment.
She worked quickly now. In a moment she was at the window portieres, and, drawing these aside, she quietly raised the window, and looked out. The window was on the side of the house away from the cross street, and she nodded her head reassuringly to herself as she noted that it gave on a narrow strip of grass, it could not be called lawn, that separated the Hayden-Bond mansion from the house next door; that the window was little more than shoulder-high from the ground; and that the Avenue was within easy and inviting reach along that little strip of grass between the two houses.
She left the window open, and retraced her steps across the room, going now to the littered mass of papers on the floor near the safe. She began to search carefully amongst them. She smiled a little curiously as she came across the plush-lined jeweler's case that had contained the necklace, and which had evidently been contemptuously discarded by the Cricket and his confederates; but it took her longer to find the paper for which she was searching. And then she came upon it - a grease-smeared advertisement for some automobile appliances, a well-defined greasy finger-print at one edge - and thrust the paper into her pocket.
And now suddenly her heartbeat began to quicken again until its thumping became tumultuous. She was ready now. She looked around her, using the flashlight, and her eyes rested appraisingly on one of the great clusters of shields and arms that hung low down on the wall between the window and the door by which she had entered. Yes, that would do. Her lips tightened. It would have been so easy if there had not been that cash to account for! She could replace the necklace, but she could not replace the cash - and one, as far as the Sparrow was concerned, was as bad as the other. But there was a way, and it was simple enough. She whispered to herself that it was not, after all, very dangerous, that the cards were all in her own hands. She had only to pull down those shields with a clatter to the floor, which would arouse some one of the household, and as that some one reached the library door and opened it, she would be disappearing through the window, and the necklace, as though it had slipped from her pocket or grasp in her wild effort to escape, would be lying behind her on the floor. They would see that it was not the Sparrow; and there would be no question as to where the money was gone, since the money had not been dropped. There was the interval, of course, that must elapse between the accident that knocked the shields from the wall and the time it would take any of the inmates to reach the library, an interval in which a thief might reasonably be expected to have had time enough to get away without being seen; but the possibility that she had not fully accomplished her ends when the accident occurred, and that she had stayed to make frantic and desperate efforts to do so right up to the last moment, would account for that.
She moved now to an electric-light switch, and turned on the light. They must be able to see beyond any question of doubt that the person escaping through the window was not the Sparrow. What was she afraid of now, just at the last! There was an actual physical discomfort in the furious thumping of that cowardly little heart of hers. It was the only way. And it was worth it. And it was not so very dangerous. People, aroused out of bed, could not follow her in their night clothes; and in a matter of but a few minutes, before the police notified by telephone could become a factor in the affair, she would have run the block down the Avenue, and then the other block down the cross street, then back to the taxi, and be whirling safely downtown.
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