The Efficiency Expert

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 93

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.

If one may interpret footsteps--and the Lizard, from the fund of a
great experience, felt that he could--those descending the stairway
from above him might have been described as nervous and repressed; for
at least they gave the Lizard the impression of one who desired to flee
in haste and yet dared not do so, for fear of attracting attention by
the increased noise that greater speed might entail.

At least the Lizard knew that those were the footsteps of no watchman,
but whether it be guardian of the law or fellow

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