The Fourth Man on the Rope
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The words shattered on her ear with incomprehensible distinctness, honed to a sharper edge by the bare walls. Startled, her hands arrested, she raised her head and stared first with astonishment, then with horror at the door -- sagging open by no more than a hair's breadth, yet its angle within the door frame was perscepectible if one looked. Failure of the latch to engage, a thing unknown with this heavy door and its superlative fittings of an earlier day. Once more her remote awareness of talk next door had been muted by her obliviousness, but there was no ignoring the pitch of this present voice, by no means unknown to her…

“…All right, you rotten cut-throat, I'll go to your Bradley.”
“At once.”
“Yes, yes, at once.”

It was over, thought the victim of the defaulting latch, thank God it was over…
Instead of the sounds of departure, however, their struck on her astounded ear something quite different. The sight of her own door moving inward -- the last thing she expected -- transfixed her with incredulity, then horror, as the opening widened and admitted him she started up with exactly the look of a thief caught in the act…

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