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24. CHAPTER XXIV. IN THE TOILS. (continued)
"I'll be over," said Bince, "as soon as I dress." If there was any trace of surprise or shock in his tones the girl failed to notice it.
At ten o'clock that night a figure moved silently through the dark shadows of an alleyway in the area of the International Machine Company's plant on West Superior Street. As he moved along he counted the basement windows silently, and at the fifth window he halted. Just a casual glance he cast up and down the alley, and then, kneeling, he raised the sash and slipped quietly into the darkness of the basement.
At about the same time Jimmy's landlady called him to the telephone, where a man's voice asked if "this was Mr. Torrance?" Assured that such was the fact, the voice continued: "I am the new watchman at the plant. There's something wrong here. I can't get hold of Mr. Compton. I think you better come down. I'll be in Mr. Compton's office--" The message ceased as though central had disconnected them.
"Funny," thought Jimmy, "that he should call me up. I wonder what the trouble can be." But he lost no time in getting his hat and starting for the works.
Although the Lizard knew that there was no danger of detection, yet from long habit he moved through the plant of the International Machine Company with the noiselessness of a disembodied spirit. Occasionally, and just for the briefest instant, he flashed his lamp ahead of him, but though he had never been in the place before he found it scarcely necessary, so minute had been his instructions for reaching the office from the fifth basement window.
The room he sought was on the second floor, and the Lizard had mounted the steps from the basement to the first floor when he was brought to a sudden stop by a noise from the floor above him. The Lizard listened intently. No, he could not be mistaken. Too often had he heard a similar sound.
Some one was tiptoeing across the floor above. The Lizard was in the hallway close beside the stairs when he realized the footsteps were coming toward the stairway, and a moment later that they were cautiously descending. The Lizard flattened himself against the wall, and if he breathed his lungs gave forth no sound.
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