The Unspeakable Perk
The Woman At The Quinta
Thanks to his rival's map, Carroll had little difficulty in finding the trail to the mountain
quinta. A brilliant new moon helped to make easy the ascent. What course he would
pursue upon his arrival he had not clearly defined to himself. That would depend largely
upon the attitude of the man he was seeking. The flame of battle, still hot from the
afternoon's melee, burned high in the Southerner's soul, for he was not of those whose
spirit rapidly cools. Bitter resentment on behalf of Miss Polly Brewster fanned that flame.
On one point he was determined: neither he nor the so-called Perkins should leave the
mountain until he had had from the latter's own lips a full explanation.
Coming out into the open space, he got his first glimpse of the quinta. It was dark, except
for one low light. From the farther side there came faintly to his ear a rhythmical sound,
with brief intervals of quiet, as if some one hard at labor were stopping from time to time
for breath. At that distance, Carroll could not interpret the sound, but some unidentified
quality of it struck chill upon his fancy. Long experience in the woods had made him a
good trailsman. He proceeded cautiously until he reached the edge of the clearing.
The sound had stopped now, but he thought he could hear heavy breathing from beyond
the house. As he moved toward that side, a small but malevolent-looking snake slithered
out from beneath a bush near by. Involuntarily he leaped aside. As he landed, a round
pebble slipped under his foot. He flung up his arm. It met the low branch of a tree, and
saved him a fall. But the thrashing of the leaves made a startling noise in the moonlit
stillness. The snake went on about its business.
"Hola!" challenged a voice around the angle of the house.
Carroll recognized the voice. He stepped out of the shadows and strode across the open
space. At the corner of the house he met the muzzle of a revolver pointing straight at the
pit of his stomach. Back of it were the steady and now goggleless eyes of Luther Pruyn.
"I am unarmed," said Carroll.
"Ah, it's you!" said the other. He lowered his weapon, carefully whirled the cylinder to
bring the hammer opposite an empty chamber, and dropped it in his pocket. "What do
"Quite so," said the other coolly. "I'd forgotten that I invited you here. How long had you
been watching me?"
"I saw you only when you came out from behind the house."
"And you wish to know about--about my companion in this place?" continued the other
in an odd tone.