Bill Bolton and Hidden Danger
Bill Bolton and Hidden Danger
THROUGH THE WINDOW
Bang! Bang! Bang!
Bill Bolton, startled from a sound sleep, sat up in bed.
His room was pitch dark. For a moment or two he listened to wind whistling through trees and the swishing pound of a heavy downpour. Lightning flashed in the bright flare of a summer electrical storm, and through open windows he saw rain in steel rods lashing the darker night.
Crash! Bang! Bang!
"Thunder, that's all," said young Bolton and lay down again.
Bill was out of bed in a jiffy. He heard the unmistakable ping of a bullet as it struck the rainpipe by his farther window.
This time he dropped to the floor and lay still. The second shot smashed a pane in the upper window sash and knocked over a copper water jar that stood on the mantel, sending it rattling to the floor.
"That lad," said Bill to himself, "is perched in a maple. Wild shooting, too-even in the dark. I wonder what in blazes he's aiming at!"
He crept on all fours to the window and knelt before it, bringing his eyes level with the sill.
Crash! Crack! Bill winced. With the thunderclap came a ball of red fire. It struck a large northern maple, shot down the trunk and vanished into the turf below the spreading foliage. For an instant trees, shrubbery and lawn were illuminated with red light. Bill caught a glimpse of the flower garden beyond broad lawns, and a group of figures standing on the drive near the stone wall that separated the Bolton estate from the highway. He plainly saw a man drop from the big maple to the ground. Then as he sprang to his feet and leaned out of the window, the glare was gone and black night shut down on the world again.
"Reach down and give me a hand, Bill!"
The muffled voice came from just below.
"Who is it?" Bill spoke in the same cautious tone.
"It's me. Charlie Evans. I'm hangin' on by the ivy and this leader-but I can't find anything above me to get a grip on."
"Okay, boy. Let me get hold of your wrist-that's it. Mind you don't slip! The ivy has been cut away from the windows."
Bill pulled, caught Charlie beneath his shoulders and lifted him over the sill.
"Get out of their line of fire," he ordered.
As quickly as possible he closed both windows and pulled down the green shades. A moment later he found the wall-switch and flooded the room with light. Charlie, a round-faced, red-headed boy of twelve, still sat on the floor. He was soaked to the skin and breathing heavily.
Bill gave him one look and disappeared into the bathroom. When he returned, he brought a glass of water with him. Charlie grabbed the tumbler and drained it in a few gulps.
"That's the berries!" he wheezed. "Got another?"
"Soon-too much in a hurry will make you sick. Are you hurt? I mean, did those guys wing you? I take it that you were the target they aimed at."
"I sure was, Bill, but they're rotten shots. Gee, I've had a time of it, I tell you. Can't I have another drink now? I've been running ever since they punctured the tires and I'm dry as an empty well."
"All right, but take your time drinking it."
Bill followed Charlie into the bathroom. "You may be dry inside, but those clothes of yours are soaking wet. Get out of them and take a good rub down. And put on that bathrobe on the door. If I'm not in the bedroom when you're through, wait for me there-I'll be back as soon as possible."
He went into the bedroom, and from there into the hall. A night light was burning at the foot of the staircase. Thunder still rumbled in the distance but the storm was passing over. Bill ran lightly down to the lower floor. For a second he hesitated, then went into the library on his right and shut the door behind him.
This room was on the same side of the house as his bedroom. He went at once to a side window, and