Read CHAPTER XIV of Three Thousand Dollars , free online book, by Anna Katharine Green, on ReadCentral.com.

You do not answer

She recoiled. Strong as she was, she was not proof against this surprise.

“How do you know that?” she asked, her voice losing its clear tone. “I do not deny it, but how could you know what I thought to be a secret between

“You and your lover? Well we the police know many things, young lady. We have a gift. We also have a kind of foreknowledge. I could tell you something of your future if you will deign to listen to me. Your lover is an honest man. What do you suppose he will do when he hears that you have been arrested for attempted burglary on your employer’s effects?”

He had been slowly advancing as he reeled off these glib sentences, but he paused as he met her smile. It was not of the same sort as his, but it was not without a certain suggestiveness which he felt it would be best for him to understand before he threw off his mask.

“I don’t know what he will do,” said she, meeting the false detective’s eye as she laid her hand on the safe, “but I know what I shall do if you carry out the purpose you threaten. Show my papers to the police and demand evidence of my having any bad intentions in opening this safe this morning. I think you will have difficulty in producing any. I think that you will only prove yourself a fool. Are you so strong with the authorities as to brave that?”

Astonished at her insight and more than astonished at her self-control, the experienced cracksman paused, and then in tones he rarely used, remarked quietly:

“You are playing with your life, Miss Lee. I have a pistol leveled at you from my pocket, and I’m the man to fire if you give me the slightest occasion to do so. I’m Beau Johnson, miss, a detective if you please, but also a tolerably experienced cracksman, and I want a taste of those bonds.”

“And Mr. Fellows?”

The words rang out clear and fearlessly.

“Oh, he? He’s a muff. You needn’t concern yourself about him. The matter’s between us two. Three thousand dollars for you, and a little more, perhaps, for me, and I to take all the blame.”

Her eye stole toward the door. No one could enter that way, she knew. Even her screams, if she survived them, might alarm, but could not bring her help for several minutes, if not longer. Yet she did not tremble; only grew a shade paler.

“You do not answer. What have you to say?”

“This.” She was like marble now. “You will not kill me, because that would be virtually to kill yourself. You cannot leave this room without my help, nor fire a shot without being caught like a rat in a trap. I want three thousand dollars, and I mean to have them, but I do not see how you are going to get the few more which you promise yourself. Certainly I am not going to aid you in doing so, and you cannot open that safe. You have not the musical training.”

“No.” The word came like a shot, possibly in lieu of a shot, for if ever he felt murderous it was at that moment. “I have not a musical training, but that does not make me helpless. In a few moments I shall have the pleasure of hearing you test your voice again. There’s the office clock ticking; count the strokes.”

She stood fascinated. What did he mean by this? Involuntarily she did his bidding.

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven!”

“Yes,” he repeated, “eleven! And at half past your old father dies.”

“Dies?” Her lips did not frame the words; her eyes looked it, her whole sinking, suddenly collapsing figure gave voice to the maddening query, “Dies?