The Bat HTML version

Pistol Practice
She knew who it was, of course. The Bat! No doubt of it. And yet - did the Bat ever
threaten before he struck? She could not remember. But it didn't matter. The Bat was
unprecedented - unique. At any rate, Bat or no Bat, she must think out a course of action.
The defection of cook and housemaid left her alone in the house with Lizzie and Billy -
and Dale, of course, if Dale returned. Two old women, a young girl, and a Japanese
butler to face the most dangerous criminal in America, she thought grimly. And yet - one
couldn't be sure. The threatening letter might be only a joke - a letter from a crank - after
all. Still, she must take precautions; look for aid somewhere. But where could she look
for aid?
She ran over in her mind the new acquaintances she had made since she moved to the
country. There was Doctor Wells, the local physician, who had joked with her about
moving into the Bat's home territory - He seemed an intelligent man - but she knew him
only slightly - she couldn't call a busy Doctor away from his patients to investigate
something which might only prove to be a mare's-nest. The boys Dale had met at the
country club - "Humph!" she sniffed, "I'd rather trust my gumption than any of theirs."
The logical person to call on, of course, was Richard Fleming, Courtleigh Fleming's
nephew and heir, who had rented her the house. He lived at the country club - she could
probably reach him now. She was just on the point of doing so when she decided against
it - partly from delicacy, partly from an indefinable feeling that he would not be of much
help. Besides, she thought sturdily, it's my house now, not his. He didn't guarantee
burglar protection in the lease.
As for the local police - her independence revolted at summoning them. They would
bombard her with ponderous questions and undoubtedly think she was merely a nervous
old spinster. If it was just me, she thought, I swear I wouldn't say a word to anybody -
and if the Bat flew in he mightn't find it so easy to fly out again, if I am sixty-five and
never shot a burglar in my life! But there's Dale - and Lizzie. I've got to be fair to them.
For a moment she felt very helpless, very much alone. Then her courage returned.
"Pshaw, Cornelia, if you have got to get help - get the help you want and hang the
consequences!" she adjured herself. "You've always hankered to see a first-class detective
do his detecting - well, get one - or decide to do the job yourself. I'll bet you could at
She tiptoed to the main door of the living-room and closed it cautiously, smiling as she
did so. Lizzie might be about and Lizzie would promptly go into hysterics if she got an
inkling of her mistress's present intentions. Then she went to the city telephone and asked
for long distance.
When she had finished her telephoning, she looked at once relieved and a little naughty -
like a demure child who has carried out some piece of innocent mischief unobserved.