Blote brought the carrier in high over the Snithian Estate, dropped lower and descended gently through the roof. The pale, spectral servants moving about their duties in the upper hall failed to notice the wraith-like cage passing soundlessly among them.
In the dining room, Dan caught sight of the girl--Snithian's daughter, perhaps--arranging shadowy flowers on a sideboard.
"Let me take it," Dan whispered. Blote nodded. Dan steered for the kitchen, guided the carrier to the spot on which he had first emerged from the vault, then edged down through the floor. He brought the carrier to rest and neutralized all switches in a shower of sparks and blue light.
The vault door stood open. There were pictures stacked on the bunk now, against the wall, on the floor. Dan stepped from the carrier, went to the nearest heap of paintings. They had been dumped hastily, it seemed. They weren't even wrapped. He examined the topmost canvas, still in a heavy frame; as though, he reflected, it had just been removed from a gallery wall--
"Let's look around for Snithian," Dan said. "I want to talk to him."
"I suggest we investigate the upper floors, Dan. Doubtless his personal
pad is there."
"You use the carrier; I'll go up and look the house over."
"As you wish, Dan." Blote and the carrier flickered and faded from view.
Dan stooped, picked up the pistol he had dropped in the scuffle with Fiorello and stepped out into the hall. All was silent. He climbed stairs, looked into rooms. The house seemed deserted. On the third floor he went along a corridor, checking each room. The last room on the west side was fitted as a study. There was a stack of paintings on a table near the door. Dan went to them, examined the top one.
It looked familiar. Wasn't it one that Look said was in the Art Institute at Chicago?
There was a creak as of an un-oiled hinge. Dan spun around. A door stood open at the far side of the room--a connecting door to a bedroom, probably.
"Keep well away from the carrier, Mr. Slane," a high thin voice said from the shadows. The tall, cloaked figure of W. Clyde Snithian stepped into view, a needle-barreled pistol in his hand.
"I thought you'd be back," he piped. "It makes my problem much simpler.
If you hadn't appeared soon, it would have been necessary for me to shift the scene of my operations. That would have been a nuisance."