"You want to cut out this story writing," he said abruptly, when she paused to find the next page. "It's bad enough to work like you do in the pictures. This is going a little too strong; you're as jumpy to-night as a guilty conscience. Cut it out."
"I'm all right. I'm just doing that for dramatic effect. This is very weird, Lite. I ought to have a green shade on the lamp, to get the proper effect. I-- don't you think--er--those footsteps are terribly mysterious?"
Lite looked at her sharply for a minute. "I sure do," he said drily. "Where did you get the idea, Jean?"
"Out of my head," she told him airily, and went on reading while Lite studied her curiously.
That night Jean awoke and heard stealthy footsteps, like a man walking in his socks and no boots, going all through the house but never coming to her room. She did not get up to see who it was, but lay perfectly still and heard her heart thump. When she saw a dim, yellow ray of light under the door which opened into the kitchen, she drew the blanket over her head, and got no comfort whatever from the feel of her six-shooter close against her hand.
The next morning she told herself that she had given in to a fine case of nerves, and that the mysterious footsteps of her story had become mixed up with the midnight wanderings of a pack-rat that had somehow gotten into the house. Then she remembered the bar of light under the door, and the pack-rat theory was spoiled.
She had taken the board off the doorway into the kitchen, so that she could use the cookstove. The man could have come in if he had wanted to, and that knowledge she found extremely disquieting. She went all through the house that morning, looking and wondering. The living-room was now the dressing-room of Muriel and her mother, and the make-up scattered over the centertable was undisturbed; the wardrobe of the two women had apparently been left untouched. Yet she was sure that some one had been prowling in there in the night. She gave up the puzzle at last and went back to her breakfast, but before the company arrived in the big, black automobile, she had found a stout hasp and two staples, and had fixed the door which led from her room into the kitchen so that she could fasten it securely on the inside.
Jean did not tell Lite about the footsteps. She was afraid that he might insist upon her giving up staying at the Lazy A. Lite did not approve of it, anyway, and it would take very little encouragement in the way of extra risk to make him stubborn about it. Lite could be very obstinate indeed upon occasion, and she was afraid he might take a stubborn streak about this, and perhaps ride over every night to make sure she was all right, or do something equally unnecessary and foolish.