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said the landlord as they glanced round this comfortless garret, "but
many great people have slept well here, as doubtless you will also," and
he turned to descend the ladder.
"It will serve," answered Castell; "but, friend, tell your men to leave
the stable open, as we start at dawn, and be so good as to give me
"I cannot spare the lamp," he grunted sulkily, with his foot already on
the first step.
Peter strode to him and grasped his arm with one hand, while with the
other he seized the lamp. The man cursed, and began to fumble at his
belt, as though for a knife, whereon Peter, putting out his strength,
twisted his arm so fiercely that in his pain he loosed the lamp, which
remained in Peter's hand. The inn-keeper made a grab at it, missed his
footing and rolled down the ladder, falling heavily on the floor below.
Watching from above, to their relief they saw him pick himself up, and
heard him begin to revile them, shaking his fist and vowing vengeance.
Then Peter shut down the trap-door. It was ill fitted, so that the edge
of it stood up above the flooring, also the bolt that fastened it had
been removed, although the staples in which it used to work remained.
Peter looked round for some stick or piece of wood to pass through these
staples, but could find nothing. Then he bethought him of a short length
of cord that he had in his pocket, which served to tie one of the
saddle-bags in its place on his mule. This he fastened from one staple
to the other, so that the trap-door could not be lifted more than an
inch or two.
Reflecting that this might be done, and the cord cut with a knife
passed through the opening, he took one of the chairs and stood it so
that two of its legs rested on the edge of the trap-door and the other
two upon the boarding of the floor. Then he said to Castell:
"We are snared birds; but they must get into the cage before they wring
our necks. That wine was poisoned, and, if they can, they will murder us
for our money--or because they have been told to do so by the guide. We
had best keep awake to-night."
"I think so," answered Castell anxiously. "Listen, they are talking down
Talking they were, as though they debated something, but after a while
the sound of voices died away. When all was silent they hunted round the
attic, but could find nothing that was unusual to such places. Peter
looked at the window-hole, and, as it was large enough for a man to pass
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