Part 2 out of 6
be her religion. She was thoroughly orthodox, and had the defensive
and aggressive fervor which is the temper of militant orthodoxy.
And so more keenly than ever, because she was more determined than
ever, Maggie studied the groups of well-dressed men and women who ate
and danced at the Ritzmore, among whom she circulated in her short,
smart skirt with her cigarette tray swung from her neck by a broad
purple ribbon. Particularly she liked the after-theater crowd, for
then only evening wear was permitted in the supper-room and the people
were at their liveliest. She liked to watch the famous professional
couple do their specialties on the glistening central space with the
agile spot-lights always bathing them; and then watch the smartly
dressed guests take the floor with the less practiced and more humble
steps. Sometime soon she was going to have clothes as smart as any of
these. Soon she would be one of these brilliant people, and have a
life more exciting than any. Very soon--for her apprenticeship was
Barney Palmer had these last few months, since he had discovered in
Maggie a star who only needed coaching and then an opportunity, made
it a practice to come for Maggie occasionally when one o'clock, New
York's curfew hour, dispersed the pleasure-seekers and ended Maggie's
day of work, or rather her day of intensive schooling for her greater
life. On the night of his return from Chicago, which was a week after
his break with Larry, Barney reported to take Maggie home. He was in
swagger evening clothes and he asked the starter for a taxi; with an
almost lordly air and for the service of a white-gloved gesture to a
chauffeur, he carelessly handed the starter (who, by the way, was a
richer man than Barney) a crisp dollar bill. Barney was trying to make
his best impression.
"Seen much of that stiff, Larry Brainard?" he asked when the cab was
His tone, which he tried to make merely contemptuous, conveyed the
deep wrath which he still felt whenever his mind reverted to Larry.
Maggie reserved to herself the privilege of thinking of Larry just as
she pleased; but being the kind of girl she was, she could not help
being also a bit of a coquette.
"I didn't think he was such a stiff, Barney," she said in an
irritatingly pleasant voice. "His prison clothes were bad, but now
that he's dressed right I think he looks awfully nice. You and father
have always said he looked the perfect swell."
"See here--has he been talking to you?" Barney demanded savagely.
"A little. Yes, several times. In fact he said quite a lot that night
after you'd gone."
"What did he say?"
"He said he was not only going to go straight, but"--in her
provocative, teasing voice--"he was going to make me go straight."
"What's that? Tell me just what he said!" demanded Barney, his wrath
suddenly flaring into furious jealousy.
Maggie told him in detail; in fact told him the scene in greater
detail and with a greater length than had been the actuality. Also she
censored the scene by omitting her own opposition to Larry's
determination. She enjoyed playing with Barney, the exercise of the
power she had over Barney's passions.
"And you stood for all that!" cried Barney. By this time they were far
down town. "You listen to me, Maggie: What I said to Larry's face that
night at the Duchess's still stands. I think he's yellow and has
turned against his old pals. I tell you what, I'm going to watch that
"You won't find it hard to watch him, Barney. Larry never hides
"Oh, I'll watch him all right! And you, Maggie--why, you talk as
though you liked that line of talk he gave you!"
"Larry talks well--and I did like it, rather."
"See here! You're not falling for him? You're not going to let him
make you go straight?"
Maggie certainly had no intention of letting any such thing come to
pass; but she could not check her innocent-toned baiting.
"How do I know what he'll make me do? He's clever and handsome, you
Barney gripped her shoulder fiercely. "Maggie--are you falling in love
"How do I know, when--"
"Maggie!" He gripped her more tightly, and his phrases tumbled out
fiercely, rapidly. "You're not going to do anything of the sort! If he
goes straight--if you go straight--how can he ever help you? He can't!
And it will be your finish--the finish of all the big things we've
talked about. Listen: since Larry threw us down, I've taken hold of
things and will soon be ready to spring something big. Just a few days
now and you'll be out of that dirty street, and you'll be in swell
clothes doing swell work--and it will mean the best restaurants,
theaters, swell times!"
The car had turned into the narrow, cobbled street and had paused
before the Duchess's. Suddenly Barney caught her into his arms.
"And, Maggie, you're going to be mine! We'll have a nifty little
place, all right! You know I'm dippy about you....And, Maggie, I don't
even want you to go back in there where Larry Brainard is. Let's drive
back uptown and start in together now! To-night!"
It was not the fact that he had not suggested marriage which stirred
Maggie: men and women in Barney's class lived together, and sometimes
they were married and sometimes they were not. It was something else,
something of which she was not definitely conscious: but she felt no
such momentary thrill, no momentary, dazing surrender, as she had felt
the night when Larry had similarly held her.
"Stop that, Barney!" she gasped. "Let me go!" She struggled fiercely,
and then tore herself free.
"What's wrong with you?" panted Barney. "You're mine, ain't you?"
"You leave me alone! I'm going to get out!"
She had the door open, and was stepping out when he caught her sleeve.
But she pulled so determinedly that to have held her would have meant
nothing better than ripping the sleeve out of her coat. So he freed
her and followed her across the sidewalk to the Duchess's door.
"What's the idea?" he demanded, choking with fierce jealousy. "It's
not Larry, after all? You're not going to let him make you go
She had recovered her poise, and she replied banteringly:
"As I said, how can I tell what he's going to make me do?"
She heard him draw a deep, quivering breath between clenched teeth;
but she could not see how his figure tensed and how his face twisted
into a glower.
"Get this, Maggie: Larry Brainard is never going to be able to make
you do anything. You get that?"
"Yes, I get it, Barney; good-night," she said lightly.
And Maggie slipped through the door and left Barney trembling in the
Maggie, as she mounted to her room, was hardly conscious of the ring
of menace in Barney's voice; but once she was in bed, his tone and his
words came back to her and stirred a strange uneasiness in her mind.
Barney was angry; Barney was cunning; Barney would stop at nothing to
gain his ends. What might be behind his threatening words?
The next morning as she was coming in with milk for her breakfast
coffee, she met Larry in the Duchess's room behind the pawnshop. He
smilingly planted himself squarely in her way.
"See here, Maggie--aren't you ever going to speak to a fellow?"
Something within her surged up impelling her to tell him of Barney's
savage yet unformulated threat. The warning got as far as her tongue,
and there halted, struggling.
Her strange, fixed look startled Larry. "Why, what's the matter,
Maggie?" he exclaimed.
But her pride, her settled determination to unbend to him in no way
and to have no dealings with him, were stronger than her impulse; and
the struggling warning remained unuttered.
"Nothing's the matter," she said, and brushed past him and hurried up
At times during the day, while tutoring with Mr. Bronson, Larry
thought of Maggie's strange look. And his mind was upon it late in the
afternoon when he entered the little street. But as he neared his
grandmother's house all such thought was banished by Detective Gavegan
of the Central Office stepping from the pawnshop and blocking the door
with his big figure. There was grim, triumphant purpose on the hard
features of Gavegan, conceited by nature and trained to harsh
dominance by long rule as a petty autocrat.
"Hello, Gavegan," Larry greeted him pleasantly. "Gee, but you look
tickled! Did the Duchess give you a bigger loan than you expected on
the Carnegie medal you just hocked?"
"You'll soon be cuttin' out your line of comedy." Gavegan slipped his
left arm through Larry's right. "You're comin' along with me, and
you'd better come quiet."
Larry stiffened. "Come where?"
"I haven't done a thing, Gavegan, and you know it! What do you want me
"Me and the Chief had a little talk about you," leered Gavegan. "And
now the Chief wants to have a little personal talk with you. He asked
me to round you up and bring you in."
"I've done nothing, and I'll not go!" Larry cried hotly.
"Oh, yes, you will!" Gavegan withdrew his right hand from his coat
pocket where it had been resting in readiness. In the hand, its thong
about his wrist, was a short leather-covered object filled with lead.
"I've got my orders, and you'll come peaceably, or--But I'd just as
soon you'd resist, for I owe you something for the punch you slipped
over on me the other night."
Larry, taut with the desire to strike, gazed for a moment into the
glowering face of the detective. Gavegan, gripping his right arm, with
that bone-crushing slug-shot itching for instant use, was apparently
master in the present circumstances. But before Larry's quick mind had
decided upon a course, the door of the pawnshop opened and closed, and
a voice said sharply:
"Nothing doing on that rough stuff, Gavegan!" The speaker was now on
Larry's left side, a heavy-faced man in a black derby. "Larry, better
be a nice boy and come with us."
"Oh, it's you, Casey!" said Larry. "If you say I've got to go, I'll
go--for you're one white copper, even if you do have Gavegan for a
partner. Come on. What're we standing here for?"
The trio made their way out of the narrow street, and after some
fifteen minutes of walking through the twisting byways of that part of
the city, they passed through the granite doorway at Headquarters and
entered the office of Deputy Commissioner Barlow, Chief of the
Detective Bureau. Barlow was talking over the telephone in a growling
staccato, and the three men sat down. After a moment Barlow banged the
receiver upon its hook, and turned upon them. He had a clenched,
driving face, with small, commanding eyes. It was his boast that he
got results, that it was his policy to make people do what you told
'em. He had no other code.
"Well, Brainard," he snapped, "here you are again. What you up to
"Going to try the straight game, Chief," returned Larry.
"Don't try to put that old bunk over on me!"
"It's not bunk, Chief. It's the real stuff."
"Cut it out, I say! Don't you suppose I had a clever bird like you
picked up the minute you landed in the city, and have had you covered
ever since? And if you are going straight, what about the session you
had with Barney Palmer and Old Jimmie Carlisle the very night you blew
in? And I'm on to this bluff of your going to that business institute.
So come across, Brainard! I've got your every move covered!"
"I've already come across, Chief," replied Larry, trying to keep his
temper in the face of the other's bullying manner. "I told Barney and
Old Jimmie that I was through with the old game, and through with them
as pals at the old game--that's all there was to that meeting. I'm
going to that business institute for the same reason that every other
person goes there--to learn. That's all there is to the whole
business, Chief: I'm going to go straight."
Chief Barlow, hunched forward, his undershot jaw clenched on a cigar
stub, regarded Larry steadily with his beady, autocratic eyes. Barlow
was trained to penetrate to the inside of men's minds, and he
recognized that Larry was in earnest.
"You mean you think you are going to go straight," Barlow remarked
slowly and meaningly.
"I know I am going to go straight," Larry returned evenly, meeting
squarely the gaze of the Chief of Detectives.
"Do you realize, young man," Barlow continued in the same measured,
significant tone, "that whether you go straight, and how you go
straight, depends pretty much on me?"
"Mind making that a little clearer, Chief?"
"I'll show you part of my hand--just remember that I'm holding back my
high cards. I don't believe you're going to go straight, so we'll
start with the proposition that you're not going to run straight and
work on from there. You're clever, Brainard--I hand you that; and all
the classy crooks trust you. That's why I had picked you out for what
I wanted long before you left stir. Brainard, you're wise enough to
know that some of our best pinches come from tips handed us from the
inside. Brainard"--the slow voice had now become incisive, mandatory--
"you're not going to go straight. You're going to string along with
Barney and Old Jimmie and the rest of the bunch--we'll protect you--
and you're going to slip us tips when something big is about to be
Larry, experienced with police methods though he was, could hardly
believe this thing which was being proposed to him, Larry Brainard.
But he controlled himself.
"If I get you, Chief, you are suggesting that I become a police
"Exactly. We'll never tip your hand. And any little thing you pull off
on your own we'll not bother you about. And, besides, we'll slip you a
little dough regular on the quiet."
"And all you want me to do in exchange," Larry asked quietly, "is to
hand up my pals?"
Larry found it required his all of strength to control himself; but he
"There are only three small objections to your proposition, Chief."
"The first is, I shall not be a stool."
"And the second is, I wouldn't squeal on a pal to you even if I were a
crook. And the third is what I said in the beginning: I'm not going to
be a crook."
Barlow's squat, powerful figure arose menacingly. Casey also stood up.
"I tell you you ARE going to be a crook!" Barlow's big fist crashed
down on his desk in a tremendous exclamation point. "And you're going
to work for me exactly as I tell you!"
"I have already given you my final word," said Larry.
"You--you--" Barlow almost choked at this quiet defiance. His face
turned red, his breath came in a fluttering snarl, his powerful
shoulders hunched up as if he were about to strike. But he held back
his physical blows.
"That's your ultimatum?"
"If you care to call it so--yes."
"Then here's mine! I told you I was holding back my high cards. Either
you do as I say, and work with Gavegan and Casey, or you'll not be
able to hold a job in New York! My men will see to that. And here's
another high card. You do as I've said, or I'll hang some charge on
you, one that'll stick, and back up the river you'll go for another
stretch! There's an ultimatum for you to think about!"
It certainly was. Larry gazed into the harsh, glaring face, set in
fierce determination. He knew that Barlow, as part of his policy,
loved to break down the spirit of criminals; and he knew that nothing
so roused Barlow as opposition from a man he considered in his power.
Close beside the Chief he saw the gloating, malignant face of Gavegan;
Casey, who had been restless since the beginning of the scene, had
moved to the window and was gazing down into Center Street.
For a moment Larry did not reply. Barlow mistook Larry's silence for
wavering, or the beginning of an inclination to yield.
"You turn that over in your noodle," Barlow drove on. "You're going to
go crooked, anyhow, so you might as well go crooked in the only way
that's safe for you. I'm going to have Gavegan and Casey watch you,
and if in the next few days you don't begin to string along with
Barney and Old Jimmie and that bunch, and if you don't get me word
that your answer to my proposition is 'yes,' hell's going to fall on
you! Now get out of here!"
Larry got out. He was liquid lava of rage inside; but he had had
enough to do with police power to know that it would help him not at
all to permit an eruption against a police official while he was in
the very heart of the police stronghold.
He walked back toward his own street in a fury, beneath which was
subconsciously an element of uneasiness: an uneasiness which would
have been instantly roused to caution had he known that Barney Palmer
had this hour and more been following him in a taxicab, and that
across the street from the car's window Barney's sharp face had
watched him enter Police Headquarters and had watched him emerge.
Home reached, Larry briefly recounted his experience at Headquarters
to Hunt and the Duchess. The painter whistled; the Duchess blinked and
said nothing at all.
"Maggie was more right than she knew when she first said you were
facing a tough proposition!" exclaimed Hunt. "Believe me, young
fellow, you're certainly up against it!"
"Can you beat it for irony!" said Larry, pacing the floor. "A man
wants to go straight. His pals ask him to be a crook, and are sore
because he won't be a crook. The police ask him to be a crook, and
threaten him because he doesn't want to be a crook. Some situation!"
"Some situation!" repeated Hunt. "What're you going to do?"
"Do?" Larry halted, his face set with defiant determination. "I'm
going to keep on doing exactly what I've been doing! And they can all
go to hell!"
For several days nothing seemed to be happening, though Larry had a
sense that unknown forces were gathering on distant isothermal lines
and bad weather was bearing down upon him. During these days, trying
to ignore that formless trouble, he gave himself with a most rigid
determination to his new routine--the routine which he counted on to
help him into the way of great things.
Every day he saw Maggie; sometimes he was in her company for an hour
or more. He had the natural hunger of a young man to talk to a young
woman; and, moreover, it is a severe strain for a man to be living
under the same roof with the girl he loves and not to be on terms of
friendship with her. But Maggie maintained her aloofness. She spoke
only when she was pressed into it, and her speech was usually no more
than a "yes" or a "no," or a flashing phrase of disdain.
At times Larry had the feeling that, for all her repression, Maggie
would have been glad to be more free with him. And he knew enough of
human nature not to be too disheartened by her attitude. Had he been a
nonentity to her, she would have ignored him. Her very insults were
proof that he was a positive personality with real significance in her
life. And so he counseled himself to have patience and await a thawing
or an awaking. Besides, he kept repeating to himself, there would be
small chance of effecting a conversion in this militant young
orthodoxist of cynicism until he had proved the soundness of contrary
views by his own established success.
And thus the days drifted by. But on the fifth day after his interview
with Barlow things began to happen. First of all, he noticed in a
morning paper that Red Hannigan and Jack Rosenfeldt, members of his
old outfit and suggested by Old Jimmie as participants in his proposed
new enterprise, had just been arrested by Gavegan and Casey on the
charge of alleged connection with the sale of fraudulent mining stock.
Second, on his return at the end of the afternoon, he saw standing
before the house a taxicab with a trunk beside the chauffeur. In the
musty museum of a room behind the pawnshop he found Hunt and the
Duchess and Old Jimmie and Barney; and also Maggie, coming down the
stairway, hat and coat on and carrying a suitcase. A sharp pain
throbbed through him as he recognized the significance of Maggie's hat
and coat and baggage.
"Maggie--you're going away?" he exclaimed.
She had paused at the foot of the stairway, and at sight of him had
gone a little pale and wide-eyed. But in an instant she had recovered
her accustomed flair; there came a proud lift to her head, a flash of
scorn into her dark eyes.
"At last I'm leaving this street for good," she said. "I told you that
some day I was going out into the world and do big things. The time's
come--I'm graduated--I'm going to begin real work. And I'm going to
"Maggie!" he breathed. Then impulsively he started toward her
authoritatively. "Maggie, I'm not going to let you do anything of the
But swiftly Barney had stepped in between them, Old Jimmie just behind
"Keep out of this!" Barney snapped at Larry, a reddish blaze in his
eyes. "Maggie's going away and you can't stop her. D'you think her
father is going to let her stay down here any longer, where you can
spout your preaching at her!--and you all the time a stool and a
"What's that?" cried Larry.
"I called you a stool!" repeated the malignantly exultant Barney,
alert for any move on the part of the suddenly tensed Larry. "And you
are a stool! Didn't I see you myself go into Headquarters with Casey
and Gavegan where you sold yourself to Chief Barlow!"
"Why, you damned--"
Even before he spoke Larry launched a furious swing straight from the
hip at Barney's twisted face. But Barney had been expecting exactly
that, and was even the quicker. He caught Larry's wrist before it was
fairly started, and thrust a dull-hued automatic into Larry's stomach.
"Behave; damn you," gritted Barney, "or I'll blow your damned guts
out! No--go ahead and try to hit me. I'd like nothing better than to
kill you, you rat, and have a good plea of self-defense!"
Larry let his hands unclench and fall to his sides. "You've got the
drop on me, Barney--but you're a liar."
"You bet I got the drop on you! And not only with my gun. I've got it
on you about being a stool. Everybody knows you are a stool. And
what's more, they know you are a squealer!"
"A squealer!" Larry stiffened again.
"A stool and a squealer!" Barney fairly hurled at Larry these two most
despised epithets of his world. "You've done your job swell as a
stool, and squealed on Red Hannigan and Jack Rosenfeldt and turned
them up for the police!"
"You believe I had anything to do with their arrest?" exclaimed Larry.
Barney laughed in his derision.
"Of course we believe it," put in Old Jimmie, his seamed, cunning face
now ruthlessly hard. "And what's more, we know it!"
"And what's still more," Barney taunted, "Maggie believes it, too!"
Larry turned to Maggie. Her face was now drawn, with staring eyes.
"Maggie--do you believe it?" he demanded.
For a moment she neither spoke nor moved. Then slowly she nodded.
"But, Maggie," he protested, "I didn't do it! Barlow did ask me to be
a stool, but I turned him down! Aside from that, I know no more of
this than you do!"
"Of course you'd deny it--we were waiting for that," sneered Barney.
"Jimmie, we've wasted enough time here. Take Maggie's bag and let's be
Old Jimmie picked up Maggie's suitcase, and slipping a hand through
her arm led her across the room. She did not even say good-bye to Hunt
or the Duchess, or even glance at them; but went out silently, her
drawn, staring look on Larry alone.
Barney backed after them, his automatic still held in readiness. "I'm
letting you down damned easy, Brainard," he said, hate glittering in
his eyes. "But there's some who won't be so nice!"
With that he closed the door. Until that moment both Hunt and the
Duchess had said nothing. Now the Duchess spoke up:
"I'm glad they've taken Maggie away, Larry. I've seen the way you've
come to feel about her, and she's not the right sort for you."
But Larry was still too dazed by the way in which Maggie had walked
out of his life to make any response.
"But there's a lot in what Barney said about there being some who
wouldn't be easy on you," continued the Duchess. "That word had been
brought me before Barney showed up. So I had this ready for you."
From a slit pocket in her baggy skirt the Duchess drew out a pistol
and handed it to Larry.
"What's this for?" Larry asked.
"I was told that word had gone out to the Ginger Buck Gang to get
you," answered the Duchess. "Barney has some secret connection with
the Ginger Bucks. His saying that you were a stool and a squealer is
not the only thing he's got against you; he's jealous of you on
account of everything--especially Maggie. So you'll need that gun."
"What's this I've fallen into the middle of?" exclaimed Hunt. "A
"It's very easy to understand when you know the code," Larry explained
grimly. "Down here when an outfit thinks one of its members has
squealed on them, it's their duty to be always on the watch for their
chance to finish him off. I'm to be finished off--that's all."
"Say, young fellow, the life of a straight crook doesn't seem to be
getting much simpler! Why, man, you hardly dare to stir from the
house! What are you going to do?"
"Going to go around my business, always with the pleasant anticipation
of a bullet in my back when some fellow thinks it safe for him to
The three of them discussed this latest development over their dinner,
which they had together up in Hunt's studio. But despite all their
talk of his danger, a very real and near danger, Larry's mind was more
upon Maggie who had thus suddenly been wrenched out of his life. He
remembered her excited, boastful talk of their first evening. Her
period of schooling was indeed now over; she was now committed to her
rosily imagined adventure, in which she saw herself as a splendid
lady. And with Barney Palmer as her guiding influence! . . .
Dinner had been finished and Hunt was trying to give Larry such cheer
as "Buck up, young fellow--you know the worst--there's nothing else
that can happen," when the lie direct was given to his phrases by
heavy steps running up the stairway and the opening and closing of the
door. There stood Officer Casey, heaving for breath.
Instinctively Larry drew his pistol. "Casey! What're you here for?"
"Get rid of that gat--don't be found with a gun on," ordered Casey.
"And beat it. You've got less than five minutes to make your get-
"My get-away! What's up?"
"You haven't come across as the Chief ordered you to, and he's out to
give you just what he said he would," Casey said rapidly, his speech
broken by panting. "There's been a stick-up, with assault that may be
changed to attempted manslaughter, and the Chief has three men who
swear you're the guilty party. It's a sure-fire case against you,
Larry--and it'll mean five to ten years if you're caught. Gavegan and
I got the order to arrest you. I've beat Gavegan to it so's to tip you
off, but he's only a few minutes behind. Hurry, Larry! Only--only--"
Casey paused, gasping for his wind.
"Only what, Casey?"
"Only alibi me, Larry, by slipping over a haymaker on me like you did
on Gavegan. So's I can say I tried to get you, but you were too quick
and knocked me cold. Quick! Only not too hard--I know how to play
Larry handed the pistol to Hunt. "Casey, you're a real scout! Thanks!"
He grasped Casey's hand, then swiftly relaxed his grip. "Ready?"
"Fire," said Casey.
Larry held his open left hand close to Casey's jaw, and drove his
right fist into his palm with a thudding smack. Casey went sprawling
to the floor, and lay there loosely, with mouth agape, in perfect
simulation of a man who has been knocked out.
Larry turned quickly. "You two will testify that I beat Casey up and
then made my escape?"
"Sure, I'll testify to anything for the sake of a good old goat like
Casey!" cried Hunt. "But hurry, boy--beat it!"
The Duchess held out Larry's hat to him, and thrust into his coat
pocket a roll of bills which had come from her capacious skirt.
"Hurry, Larry--and be careful--for you're all I've got."
Impulsively Larry stooped and kissed the thin, shriveled lips of his
grandmother--the first kiss he had ever given her. Then he turned and
ran down the stairway, Hunt just behind him. He turned out the light
in the back room, and called to Old Isaac to darken the pawnshop
proper. He was going forth with two forces in arms against him, the
police and his pals, and he had no desire to be a shining mark for
either or both by stepping through a lighted doorway.
"Larry, my son, you're all right!" said Hunt, gripping his hand in the
darkness. "Listen, boy: if ever you're trapped and can get to a
telephone, call Plaza nine-double-o-one and say 'Benvenuto Cellini.'"
"Remember, you're to say 'Benvenuto Cellini,' and the telephone is
Plaza nine-double-o-one. Luck to you!" Again they gripped hands. Then
Larry slipped through the darkened doorway into whatever might lie
A misting rain was being swirled about by a temperish wind as Larry
came out into the little street. Down toward the river the one
gaslight glowed faintly like an expiring nebula; all the little shops
were closed; home lights gleamed behind the curtained windows which
the storm had closed; so that the street was now a little canyon of
Larry had not needed to think to know that Gavegan would be making his
vindictive approach from the westerly regions where lay Headquarters.
So, keeping in the deeper shadows close to the building, Larry took
the eastern course of the street, remembering in a flash a skiff he
had seen tethered to a scow moored to the pier which stretched like a
pointer finger from the little Square. As yet he had no plan beyond
the necessity of the present moment, which was flight. Could he but
make that skiff unseen and cast off, he would have time, in the brief
sanctuary which the black river would afford him, to formulate the
wisest procedure his predicament permitted him.
As he came near that smothered glow-worm of a street-lamp it assumed
for him the betraying glare of a huge spot-light. But it had to be
passed to gain the skiff; and with collar turned up and hat-brim
pulled down and head hunched low, he entered the dim sphere of
betrayal, walked under its penny's-worth of flame, and glided toward
the shadows beyond, his eyes straining with the preternatural keenness
of the hunted at every stoop and doorway before him.
He was just passing out of the sphere of mist-light--the lamp being
now at his back helped him--when he saw three vague figures lurking
half a dozen paces ahead of him. His brain registered these vague
figures with the instantaneity of a snapshot camera at full noon. They
were mere shadows; but the farther of the three seemed to be Barney
Palmer--he was not sure; but of the identity of the other two there
was no doubt: "Little Mick" and "Lefty Ed," both members high in the
councils of the Ginger Bucks, and either of whose services as a killer
could be purchased for a hundred dollars or a paper of cocaine,
depending upon which at the moment there was felt the greater need.
In the very instant that he saw, Larry doubled about and ran at full
speed back up the street. Two shots rang out; Larry could not tell
whether they were fired by Little Mick or Lefty Ed or Barney Palmer--
that is, if the third man really were Barney. Again two shots were
fired, then came the sound of pursuing feet. Luckily not one of the
bullets had touched Larry; for the New York professional gunman is the
premier bad shot of all the world, and cannot count upon his
marksmanship, unless he can get his weapon solidly anchored against
his man, or can sneak around to the rear and pot his unsuspecting
victim in the back.
As Larry neared the pawnshop with the intention of making his escape
through the western stretch of the street, he saw that Old Isaac has
switched on the lights; and he also saw Officer Gavegan bearing down
in his direction. They sighted each other in the same instant, and
Gavegan let out a roar and started for him.
Caught between two opposing forces, Larry again had no time to plan.
Rather, there was nothing he could plan, for only one way was open to
him. He dashed into the pawnshop and into the back room. At the
Duchess's desk Hunt was scribbling at furious speed.
"I'm caught, Hunt--Gavegan's coming," he gasped, and ran up the
stairs, Hunt following and stuffing his scribblings into a pocket. As
Larry passed the open studio door he saw Casey sitting up. "Down on
the floor with you, Casey! Hunt, work over him to bring him to--and
stall Gavegan for a while if you can."
With that Larry sprang to a ladder at the end of the little hall, ran
up it, unhooked and pushed up the trap, scrambled through upon the
roof, and pushed the trap back into place.
Fortune, or rather the well-wishing wits of friends below, gave Larry
a few precious moments more than he had counted on. He was barely out
on the rain-greased tin roof, with the trap down, when Gavegan came
thumping up the stairs and into the studio. At sight of the recumbent
Casey, head limply on Hunt's knees, and his loose face being laved by
a wet towel in Hunt's hands, Gavegan let out another roar:
"Hell's bells! What the hell's this mean?"
"I tried to nab Brainard," Casey mumbled feebly, "and he knocked me
out cold--the same as he did you, Gavegan."
"Hell!" snorted Gavegan, his wrath increased by this reference. "You
there"--to Hunt and the Duchess--"where'd Brainard go? He's in this
house some place!"
"I don't know," said Hunt.
"Yes, you do! Leave that boob side-kick of mine sleep it off, and help
me find Brainard or you'll feel my boot!"
The big painter stood up facing the big detective and his left hand
gripped the latter's wrist and his right closed upon the detective's
throat just as it had closed upon the lean throat of Old Jimmie on the
day of Larry's return--only now there was nothing playful in the noose
of that big hand. He shook Gavegan as he might have shaken a pillow,
with a thumb thrusting painfully in beneath Gavegan's ear.
"I've done nothing, and that bully stuff doesn't go with me!" he
fairly spat into Gavegan's face. "You talk to me like a gentleman and
apologize, or I'll throw you out of the window and let your head
bounce off one of its brother cobblestones below!"
Gavegan choked out an apology, whereat Hunt flung him from him. The
detective, glowering at the other, pulled aside curtains, peered into
corners; then made furious and fruitless search of the rooms below,
bringing up at last at Maggie's door, which the Duchess had slipped
ahead of him and locked. When he demanded the key, the Duchess told
him of Maggie's departure and her carrying the key with her. It was a
solid door, with strong lock and hinges; and two minutes of Gavegan's
battering shoulders were required to make it yield entrance. Not till
he found the room empty did Gavegan think of the trap and the roof.
Larry made good use of these few extra minutes granted him. Whatever
he was to do he realized he must do it quickly. Not for long would the
forces arrayed against him be small in number; Gavegan, though beaten
at the outset, would send out an alarm that would arouse the police of
the city--and in their own degree the gangsters would do the same.
During his weeks of freedom Larry had unconsciously studied the layout
of the neighborhood, his old instincts at work. The subconscious
knowledge thus gained was of instant value. He hurried along the
slippery roofs, taking care not to trip over the dividing walls, and
came to the rear edge of a roof where he had marked a fire-escape with
an unusually broad upper landing. He could discern the faint outlines
of this; and hanging to the gutter he dropped to the fire-escape, and
a moment later he was down in the back yard; and yet two moments later
he was over two fences and going through a rabbit's burrow of a
passageway that went beneath a house into the street behind his own.
He did not pause to reconnoiter. Time was of the essence of his
safety, risks had to be taken. He plunged out of his hole--around the
first corner--around the next--and thus wove in and out, working
westward, till at last, on turning a corner into a lighted street, he
saw possible relief in two stray taxicabs before a little East Side
restaurant, one of which was just leaving.
"Taxi!" he called breathlessly.
The chauffeur of the moving car swung back beside the curb and opened
the door. But even as he started to enter he saw Little Mick and Lefty
Ed turn into the street behind him. However, the brightness of this
street ill-accorded with the anonymity with which their art is most
safely and profitably practiced, so Larry got in without a bullet
flicking at him.
"Forty-Second Street and Broadway," he called to the chauffeur as he
closed the door.
The car started off. Looking back through the little window he saw
Lefty Ed enter the other taxicab, and saw Little Mick standing on the
curb. He understood. Little Mick was to send out the alarm, while
Lefty was to follow the trail.
Let Lefty follow. At least Larry now had a few minutes to consider
some plan which should look beyond the safety of the immediate moment.
He was well-dressed, albeit somewhat wet and soiled; he had money in
his pockets. What should he do?
Yes, what should he do? The more he considered it the more ineluctable
did his situation become. By now Gavegan had sent out his alarm;
within a few moments every policeman on duty would have instructions
to watch for him. He might escape for the time, at least, these allies
of his one-time pals by going to a hotel and taking a room there; but
to walk into a hotel would be to walk into arrest. On the other hand,
he might evade the police if he sought refuge in one of his old
haunts, or perhaps with old Bronson; but then his angered pals knew of
these haunts, and to enter one of them would be to offer himself
freely to their vengeance.
There were other cities--but then how was he to get to them? He saw
Manhattan for what it was to a man who was a fugitive from justice and
injustice: an island, a trap, with only a few outlets and inlets for
its millions: two railway stations--a few ferries--a few bridges--a
few tunnels: and at every one of them policemen watching for him. He
could not leave New York. And yet how in God's name was he to stay
He thought of Maggie. So she wanted the life of dazzling, excitement,
of brilliant adventure, did she? He wondered how she would like a
little of the real thing--such as this?
As he neared Forty-Second Street he still was without definite plan
which would guarantee him safety, and there was Lefty hanging on
doggedly. An idea came which would at least extend his respite and
give him more time for thought. He opened the door of his cab and
thrust a ten-dollar note into the instinctively ready hand of his
"Keep the change--and give me a swing once around Central Park,
slowing down on those hilly turns on the west side."
The car entered the park at the Plaza and sped up the shining, almost
empty drive. Larry kept watch, now on the trailing Lefty, now on the
best chance for execution of his idea--all the way up the east side
and around the turn at the north end. As the car, now south-bound,
swung up the hill near One Hundred and Fifth Street, at whose crest
there is a sharp curve with thick-growing, overhanging trees, Larry
opened the right door and said:
"Show me a little speed, driver, as soon as you pass this curve!"
"I gotcha," replied the chauffeur.
The slowing car hugged the inside of the sharp turn, Larry holding the
door open and waiting his moment. The instant the taxi made the curve
Lefty's car was cut from view; and that instant Larry sprang from the
running-board, slamming the door behind him, landed on soft earth and
scuttled in among the trees. Crouching in the shadows he saw his car
speed away as per his orders, and the moment after he saw Lefty's car,
evidently taken by surprise by this obvious attempt at escape, leap
forward in hot pursuit.
Larry slipped farther in among the trees and sat down, his back
against a tree. This was better. For the time he was safe.
He drew a long breath. Then for a moment what he had just been through
this last hour came back to him in an almost amusing light: as
something grotesquely impossible--much like those helter-skelter,
utterly unreal chases which, with slight variations of personalities
and costumes, were the chief plots for the motion-picture drama in its
crude childhood. But though there seemed a likeness, there was a
tremendous difference. For this was real! Every one was in earnest!
Again he thought of Maggie. What would she think, what would be her
attitude, if she knew the truth about him?--the truth about those she
had gone with and the life she had gone into? Would she be inclined
toward HIM, would she help him?...
Again he thought of what he should do. Now that he commanded a
composure which had not been his during the stress of his flight, he
examined every aspect with greater care. But the conclusions of
composure were the same as those of excitement. He could not gain
entrance to one of the great hotels and remain in his room,
unidentified among its thousands of strangers; he could not find
asylum in one of his old haunts; he dared not try to leave Manhattan.
He was a prisoner, whose only privilege was a larger but most
And that liberty was becoming penetratingly uncomfortable. An hour had
passed, the ground on which he sat was wet and cold, and the misty air
was assuming a distressing kinship with departed winter and was making
shivering assaults upon his bones. At the best, he realized, he could
not hope to remain secure in this cultivated wilderness beyond
daylight. With the coming of morning he would certainly be the prey of
either his pals or the police. And if they did not beat him from his
hiding, plain mortal hunger would drive him out into the open streets.
If he was to do anything at all, he must do it while he still had the
moderate protection of the night.
And then for the first time there came to him remembrance of Hunt's
rapid injunction, given him in the hurly-burly of escape when no
thoughts could impress the upper surface of his mind save those of the
immediate moment. "If you're trapped, call Plaza nine-double-o-one and
say 'Benvenuto Cellini.'"
Larry had no idea what that swift instruction might be about. And the
chance seemed a slender, fantastical one, even if he could safely get
to a public telephone. But it seemed his only chance.
He arose, and, keeping as much as he could to the wilder regions of
the park, and making the utmost use of shadows when he had to cross a
path or a drive, he stole southward. He remembered a drug-store at
Eighty-Fourth Street and Columbus Avenue, peculiarly suited to his
purpose, for it had a side entrance on Eighty-Fourth Street and was
in a neighborhood where policemen were infrequent.
Fortune favored him. At length he reached Eighty-Fourth Street and
peered over the wall. Central Park West was practically empty of
automobiles, for the theaters had not yet discharged their crowds and
no policeman was in sight. He vaulted the wall; a minute later he was
in a booth in the drug-store, had dropped his nickel in the slot, and
was asking for Plaza nine-double-o-one.
"Hello, sir!" responded the very correct voice of a man.
"Benvenuto Cellini," said Larry.
"Hold the wire, sir," said the voice.
Larry held the wire, wondering. After a moment the same correct voice
asked where Larry was speaking from. Larry gave the exact information.
"Stay right in the booth, and keep on talking; say anything you like;
the wire here will be kept open," continued the voice. "We'll not keep
you waiting long, sir."
The voice ceased. Larry began to chat about topics of the day, about
invented friends and engagements, well knowing that his stream of talk
was not being heard unless Central was "listening in"; and knowing
also that, to any one looking into the glass door of his booth, he was
giving a most unsuspicious appearance of a busy man. And while he
talked, his wonder grew. What was about to happen? What was this
Benvenuto Cellini business all about?
He had been talking for fifteen minutes or more when the glass door of
the booth was opened from without and a man's voice remarked:
"When you are through, sir, we will be going."
The voice was the same he had heard over the wire. Larry hung up and
followed the man out the side door, noting only that he had a lean,
respectful face. At the curb stood a limousine, the door of which was
opened by the man for Larry. Larry stepped in.
"Are you followed, sir?" inquired the man.
"I don't know."
"We'd better make certain. If you are, we'll lose them, sir. We'll
stop somewhere and change our license plates again."
Instead of getting into the unlighted body with him, as Larry had
expected, the man closed the door, mounted to the seat beside the
chauffeur, and the car shot west and turned up Riverside Drive.
One may break the speed laws in New York if one has the speed, and if
one has the ability to get away with it. This car had both. Never
before had Larry driven so rapidly within New York City limits; he
knew this, that any trailing taxicab would be lost behind. At Two-
Hundred-and-Forty-Fifth Street the car swung into Van Cortland Park,
and switched off all lights. Two minutes later they halted in a dark
stretch of one of the by-roads of the Park.
"We'll be stopping only a minute, sir, to put on our right number
plates," the man opened the door to explain.
Within the minute they were away again, now proceeding more leisurely,
in the easy manner of a private car going about its private business--
though the interior of the car was discreetly dark and Larry huddled
discreetly into a corner. Thus they drove over the Grand Boulevards
and recrossed the Harlem River and presently drew up in front of a
great apartment house in Park Avenue.
The man opened the door. "Walk right in, sir, as though you belong
here. The doorman and the elevatorman are prepared."
They might be prepared, but Larry certainly was not; and he shot up
the elevator to the top floor with mounting bewilderment. The man
unlocked the door of an apartment, ushered Larry in, took his wet hat,
then ushered the dazed Larry through the corner of a dim-lit drawing-
room and through another door.
"You are to wait here, sir," said the man, and quietly withdrew.
Larry looked about him. He took in but a few details, but he knew
enough about the better fittings of life to realize that he was in the
presence of both money and the best of taste. He noted the log fire in
the broad fireplace, comfortable chairs, the imported rugs on the
gleaming floor, the shelves of books which climbed to the ceiling, a
quaint writing-desk in one corner which seemed to belong to another
country and another century, but which was perfectly at home in this
On the desk he saw standing a leather-framed photograph which seemed
familiar. He crossed and picked it up. Indeed it was familiar! It was
a photograph of Hunt: of Hunt, not in the shabby, shapeless garments
he wore down at the Duchess's, but Hunt accoutered as might be a man
accustomed to such a room as this--though in this picture there was
the same strong chin, the same belligerent good-natured eyes.
Now how and where did that impecunious, rough-neck painter fit into--
But the dazed question Larry was asking was interrupted by a voice
from the door--the thick voice of a man:
"Who the hell 'r' you?"
Larry whirled about. In the doorway stood a tall, bellicose young
gentleman of perhaps twenty-four or five, in evening dress, flushed of
face, holding unsteadily to the door-jamb.
"I beg your pardon," said Larry.
"'N' what the hell you doin' here?" continued the belligerent young
"I'd be obliged to you if you could tell me," said Larry.
"Tryin' to stall, 'r' you," declared the young gentleman with a
scowling profundity. "No go. Got to come out your corner 'n' fight.
'N' I'm goin' lick you."
The young man crossed unsteadily to Larry and took a fighting pose.
"Put 'em up!" he ordered.
This was certainly a night of strange adventure, thought Larry. His
wild escape--his coming to this unknown place--and now this befuddled
young fellow intent upon battle with him.
"Let's fight to-morrow," Larry suggested soothingly.
"Put 'em up!" ordered the other. "If you don't know what you're doin'
here, I'll show you what you're doin' here!"
But he was not to show Larry, for while he was uttering his last
words, trying to steady himself in a crouch for the delivery of a
blow, a voice sounded sharply from the doorway--a woman's voice:
The young man slowly turned. But Larry had seen her first. He had no
chance to take her in, that first moment, beyond noting that she was
slender and young and exquisitely gowned, for she swept straight
across to them.
"Dick, you're drunk again!" she exclaimed.
"Wrong, sis," he corrected in an injured tone. "It's same drunk."
"Dick, you go to bed!"
"You go to bed!"
The young man wavered before her commanding gaze. "Jus's you say--
jus's you say," he mumbled, and went unsteadily toward the door.
The young woman watched him out, and then turned her troubled face
back to Larry. "I'm sorry Dick behaved to you as he did."
And then before Larry could make answer, her clouded look was gone.
"So you're here at last, Mr. Brainard." She held her hand out, smiling
a smile that by some magic seemed to envelop him within an immediate
"I'm Miss Sherwood." He noted that the slender, tapering hand had
almost a man's strength of grip. "You needn't tell me anything about
yourself," she added, "for I already know a lot--all I need to know:
about you--and about Maggie Carlisle. You see an hour ago a messenger
brought me a long letter he'd written about you." And she nodded to
the photograph Larry was still holding.
"You--you know him?" Larry stammered.
She answered with a whimsical smile: "Yes. Isn't he a grand, foolish
old dear? He's such a roistering, bragging personage that I've named
him Benvenuto Cellini--though he's neither liar nor thief. He must
have told you what I called him."
So that explained this password of "Benvenuto Cellini"! "No, he didn't
explain anything. There was no time."
"I don't know where he is," she continued; "please don't tell me. I
don't want to know until he wants me to know."
Larry had been making a swift appraisal of her. She was perhaps
thirty, fair, with golden-brown hair held in place by a large comb of
wrought gold, with violet-blue eyes, wearing a low-cut gown of violet
chiffon velvet and dull gold shoes. Larry's instinct told him that
here was a patrician, a thoroughbred: with poise, with a knowledge of
the world, with whimsical humor, with a kindly understanding of
people, with steel in her, and with a smiling readiness for almost any
"I think no one will find you--at least for the present," her
pleasantly modulated voice continued. "There are so many things I want
to talk over with you. Perhaps I can help about Maggie. I hope you
don't mind my talking about her." Larry could not imagine any one
taking offense at anything this brilliant apparition might possibly
say. "But we'll put off our talk until to-morrow. It's late, and
you're wet and cold, and besides, my aunt is having one of her bad
spells and thinks she needs me. Judkins will see to you. Good-night."
"Good-night," said Larry.
She moved gracefully out--almost floated, Larry would have said. The
next moment the man was with him who had been his escort here, and led
Larry into a spacious bedroom with bath attached. Ten minutes later
Judkins made his exit, carrying Larry's outer clothes; and another ten
minutes later, after a hot bath, and garbed in silk pajamas which
Judkins had produced, Larry was in the softest and freshest bed that
had ever held him.
But sleep did not come to Larry for a long time. He lay wondering
about this golden-haired, poiseful Miss Sherwood. She was undoubtedly
the woman in the back of Hunt's life. And he wondered about Hunt--who
he really was--what had really driven him into this strange exile. And
he wondered about Maggie--what she might be doing--what from this
strange new vantage-point he might do for her and with her. And he
wondered how his own complex situation was going to work itself out.
And still wondering, Larry at length fell asleep.
When Larry awoke the next morning, he blinked for several bewildered
moments about his bedroom, so unlike his cell at Sing Sing and so
unlike Hunt's helter-skelter studio down at the Duchess's which he had
shared, before he realized that this big, airy chamber and this
miracle of a bed on which he lay were realities and not a mere
continuation of a dream of fantastic and body-flattering wealth.
Then his mind turned back a page in the book of his life and he lay
considering the events of the previous evening: the scene with Barney
and Old Jimmie and Maggie, their all denouncing him as a police stool-
pigeon and a squealer, and Maggie's defiant departure to begin her
long-dreamed-of career as a leading-woman and perhaps star in what she
saw as great and thrilling adventures; his own enforced and frenzied
flight; his strange method of reaching this splendid apartment; his
meeting with the handsome, drink-befuddled young man in evening
clothes; his meeting with the exquisitely gowned patrician Miss
Sherwood, who had received him with the poise and frank friendliness
of a democratic queen, and had immediately ordered him off to bed.
Strange, all of these things! But they were all realities. And in this
new set of circumstances which had come into being in a night, what
was he to do?
He recalled that Miss Sherwood had said that she and he would have
their talk that morning. He pulled his watch from under his pillow. It
was past nine o'clock. He looked about him for clothes, but saw only a
bathrobe. Then he remembered Judkins carrying off his rain-soaked
garments, with "Ring for me when you wake up, sir."
Larry found an electric bell button dangling over the top of his bed
by a silken cord. He pushed the button and waited. Within two minutes
the door opened, and Judkins entered, laden with fresh garments.
"Good-morning, sir," said Judkins. "Your own clothes, and some shirts
and other things I've borrowed from Mr. Dick. How will you have your
bath, sir--hot or cold?"
"Cold," said the bewildered Larry.
Judkins disappeared into the great white-tiled bathroom, there was the
rush of splashing water for a few moments, then silence, and Judkins
"Your bath is ready, sir. I've laid out some of Mr. Dick's razors. How
soon shall I bring you in your breakfast?"
"In about twenty minutes," said Larry.
Exactly twenty minutes later Judkins carried in a tray, and set it on
a table beside a window looking down into Park Avenue. "Miss Sherwood
asked me to tell you she would see you in the library at ten o'clock,
sir--where she saw you last night," said Judkins, and noiselessly was
Freshly shaven, tingling from his bath, with a sense of being garbed
flawlessly, though in garments partly alien, Larry addressed himself
to the breakfast of grapefruit, omelette, toast and coffee, served on
Sevres china with covers of old silver. In his more prosperous eras
Larry had enjoyed the best private service that the best hotels in New
York had to sell; but their best had been coarse and slovenly compared
to this. He would eat for a minute or two--then get up and look at his
carefully dressed self in the full-length mirror--then gaze from his
high, exclusive window down into Park Avenue with its stream of cars
comfortably carrying their occupants toward ten o'clock jobs in Wall
or Broad Streets--and then he would return to his breakfast. This was
He was toward the end of his omelette when a knock sounded at his
door. Thinking Judkins had returned, he called, "Come in"; but instead
of Judkins the opening door admitted the belligerent young man in
rumpled evening clothes of the previous night. Now he wore a silk
dressing-gown of a flamboyant peacock blue, his feet showed bare in
toe slippers, his wavy, yellowish hair had the tousled effect of a
very recent separation from a pillow. A cigarette depended from the
corner of his mouth.
Larry started to rise. But the young man arrested the motion with a
gesture of mock imperativeness.
"Keep your seat, fair sir; I would fain have speech with thee." He
crossed and sat on a corner of Larry's table, one slippered foot
dangling, and looked Larry over with an appraising eye. "Permit me to
remark, sir," he continued in his grand manner, "that you look as
though you might be some one."
"Is that what you wanted to tell me, Mr. Sherwood?" queried Larry.
The other's grand manner vanished and he grinned. "Forget the 'Mr.
Sherwood,' or you'll make me feel not at home in my own house," he
begged with humorous mournfulness. "Call me Dick. Everybody else does.
That's settled. Now to the reason for this visitation at such an
ungodly hour. Sis has just been in picking on me. Says I was rude to
you last night. I suppose I was. I'd had several from my private stock
early in the evening; and several more around in jovial Manhattan
joints where prohibition hasn't checked the flow of happiness if you
know the countersign. The cumulative effect you saw, and were the
victim of. I apologize, sir."
"That's all right, Mr.--"
"Dick is what I said," interrupted the other.
"Dick, then. It's all right. I understand."
"Thanks. I'll call you Old Captain Nemo for short. Sis didn't tell me
your name or anything about you, and she said I wasn't to ask you
questions. But whatever Isabel does is usually one hundred percent
right. She said I'd probably be seeing a lot of you, so I'll introduce
myself. You'd learn all about me from some one else, anyhow, so you
might as well learn about me from me and get an impartial and unbiased
statement. Clever of me, ain't it, to beat 'em to it?"
Larry found himself smiling back into the ingratiating, irresponsible,
boyish face. "I suppose so."
"I'll shoot you the whole works at once. Name, Richard Livingston
Sherwood. Years, twenty-four, but alleged not yet to have reached the
age of discretion. One of our young flying heroes who helped save
France and make the world safe for something or other by flapping his
wings over the endless alkali of Texas. Occupation, gentleman farmer."
"You a farmer!" exclaimed Larry.
"A gentleman farmer," corrected Dick. "The difference between a farmer
and a gentleman farmer, Captain Nemo, is that a gentleman farmer makes
no profit on his crops. Now my friends say I'm losing an awful lot of
money and am sowing an awfully big crop. And according to them,
instead of practicing sensible crop rotation, I'm a foolish one-crop
farmer--and my one crop is wild oats."
"I see," said Larry.
"Of course I do do a little something else on the side. Avocation. I'm
in the brokerage business. But my chief business is looking after the
Sherwood interests. You see, my mother--father died ten years before
she did--my mother, being dotty about the innate superiority of the
male, left me in control of practically everything, and I do as well
by it as the more important occupation of farming will permit. Which
completes the racy history of myself."
"I'm sorry I can't reciprocate."
"That's all right, Captain Nemo. There's plenty of time--and it
doesn't make any difference, anyhow." For all his light manner and
careless chatter, Larry had a sense that Dick had been sizing him up
all this while; that, in fact, to do this was the real purpose of the
present call. Dick slipped to his feet. "If you're just now a bit shy
on duds, as I understand you are, why, we're about the same size. Tell
Judkins what you want, and make him give you plenty. What time you
"Just ten o'clock."
"By heck--time a farmer was pulling on his overalls and going forth to
his dew-gemmed toil!"
"And time for me to be seeing your sister," said Larry, rising.
"Come on. I'm a good seneschal, or major domo, or what you like--and
I'll usher you into her highness's presence."
A moment later Larry was pushed through the library door and Dick
announced in solemn tone:
"Senorita--Mademoiselle--our serene, revered, and most high sister
Isabel, permit us to present our newest and most charming friend,
"Dick," exclaimed Miss Sherwood, "get out of here and get yourself
into some clothes!"
"Listen to that!" complained Dick. "She still talks to me as though I
were her small brother. Next thing she'll be ordering me to wash
behind my ears!"
"Get out, and shut the door after you!"
The reply was Dick's stately exit and the sharp closing of the door.
"Has Dick been talking to you about himself?" asked Miss Sherwood.
"What did he say?"
Larry gave the substance of the autobiography which Dick had
"Part of that is more than the truth, part less than the truth," Miss
Sherwood remarked. "But this morning we were to have a real talk about
your affairs, and let's get to the subject."
She had motioned him to a chair beside the quaint old desk, and they
were now sitting face to face. Isabel Sherwood looked as much the
finished patrician as on the evening before, and with that easy,
whimsical humor and the direct manner of the person who is sure of
herself; and in the sober, disillusioning daylight she had no less of
beauty than had seemed hers in the softer lighting of their first
meeting. The clear, fresh face with its violet-blue eyes was gazing at
him intently. Larry realized that she was looking into the very soul
of him, and he sat silent during this estimate which he recognized she
had the right to make.
"Mr. Hunt has written me the main facts about you, certainly the
worst," she said finally. "You need tell me nothing further, if you
prefer not to do so; but it might be helpful if I knew more of the
Larry felt that there was no information he was not willing to give
this clear-eyed, charming woman; and so he told her all that had
happened since his return from Sing Sing, including his falling in
love with Maggie, the nature of their conflict, her departure into the
ways of her ambition.
"You are certainly facing a lot of difficult propositions." Miss
Sherwood checked them off on her fingers. "The police are after you--
your old friends are after you--you do not dare be caught. You want to
clear yourself--you want to make a business success--you want to
eradicate Maggie's present ambitions and remove her from her present
"That is the correct total," said Larry.
"Certainly a large total! Of them all, which is the most important
Larry considered. "Maggie," he confessed. "But Maggie really includes
all the others. To have any influence with her, I must get out of the
power of the police, I must overcome her belief that I am a stool and
a squealer, and I must prove to her that I can make a success by going
"Just so. And all these things you must do while a fugitive in
"Exactly. Or else not do them."
"H'm! . . . The most pressing thing, I judge, is to have a safe and
permanent place to hide, and to have work which may lead to an
opportunity to prove yourself a success."
"Mr. Hunt's O.K. on you would be sufficient, in any event, and he has
given that O.K.," Miss Sherwood said in her even voice. "Besides, my
own judgment prompts me to believe in your truth and your sincerity. I
have been thinking the matter over since I saw you last night. I
therefore ask you to remain here, never leaving the apartment--"
"Miss Sherwood!" he ejaculated.
"And a little later, when we go out to our place on Long Island,
you'll have more freedom. For the present you will be, to the servants
and any other persons who may chance to come in, Mr. Brandon, a second
cousin staying with us; and your explanation for never venturing forth
can be that you are convalescing after an operation. Perhaps you can
think of a plan whereby later on you might occasionally leave the
house without too great risk to yourself."
"Yes. The risk comes from the police, and from some of my old friends
and the gangsters they have enlisted. So long as they believe me in
New York, they'll all be on the lookout for me every moment. If they
believed me out of New York, they would all discontinue their
vigilance. If--if--But perhaps you would not care to do so much."
"Would you be willing to write a letter to some friend in Chicago,
requesting the friend to post an enclosed letter written by me?"
"My handwriting would be disguised--but a person who really knows my
writing would penetrate the attempted disguise and recognize it as
mine. My letter would be addressed to my grandmother requesting her to
express my recent purchase of forfeited pledges to me in Chicago. A
clever person reading the letter would be certain I was asking her to
send me my clothes."
"What's the point to that?"
"One detail of the police's search for me will be to open secretly,
with the aid of the postal authorities, all mail addressed to my
grandmother. They will steam open this letter about my clothes, then
seal it and let it be delivered. But they will have learned that I
have escaped them and am in Chicago. They will drop the hunt here and
telegraph the Chicago police, And of course the news will leak through
to my old friends, and they'll also stop looking for me in New York."
"And enclosed in another letter written by you, I'll send an order,
also to be posted in Chicago, to a good friend of mine asking him to
call at the express office, get my clothes, and hold them until I call
or send for them. When he goes and asks for the clothes, the Chicago
police will get him and find the order on him. They'll have no charge
at all against him, but they'll have further proof that I'm in Chicago
or some place in the Middle West. The effect will be definitely to
transfer the search from New York."
"Yes, I see," repeated Miss Sherwood. "Go ahead and do it; I'll help
you. But for the present you've got to remain right here in the
apartment, as I said. And later, when you think the letters have had
their effect, you must use the utmost caution."
"Certainly," agreed Larry.
"Now as to your making a start in business. I suspect that my affairs
are in a very bad shape. Things were left to my brother, as he told
you. I have a lot of papers, all kinds of accounts, which he has
brought to me and he's bringing me a great many more. I can't make
head or tail of them, and I think my brother is about as much
befuddled as I am. I believe only an expert can understand them. Mr.
Hunt says you have a very keen mind for such matters. I wish you'd
take charge of these papers, and try to straighten them out."
"Miss Sherwood," Larry said slowly, "you know my record and yet you
risk trusting me with your affairs?"
"Not that I wouldn't take the risk--but whatever there is to steal,
some one else has already stolen it, or will steal it. Your work will
be to discover thefts or mistakes, and to prevent thefts or mistakes
if you can. You see I am not placing any actual control over stealable
property in you--not yet. . . . Well, what do you say?"
"I can only say, Miss Sherwood, that you are more than good, and that
I am more than grateful, and that I shall do my best!"
Miss Sherwood regarded him thoughtfully for a long space. Then she
said: "I am going to place something further in your hands, for if you
are as clever as I think you are, and if life has taught you as much
as I think it has, I believe you can help me a lot. My brother Dick is
wild and reckless. I wish you'd look out for him and try to hold him
in check where you can. That is, if this isn't placing too great a
duty on you."
"That's not a duty--it's a compliment!"
"Then that will be all for the present. I'll see you again in an hour
or two, when I shall have some things ready to turn over to you."
Back in his bedroom Larry walked exultantly to and fro. He had
security! And at last he had a chance--perhaps the chance he had been
yearning for through which he was ultimately to prove himself a
success! . . .
He wondered yet more about Miss Sherwood. And again about her and
Hunt. Miss Sherwood was clever, gracious, everything a man could want
in a woman; and he guessed that behind her humorous references to Hunt
there was a deep feeling for the big painter who was living almost
like a tramp in the attic of the Duchess's little house. And Larry
knew Miss Sherwood was the only woman in Hunt's life; Hunt had said as
much. They were everything to each other; they trusted each other. Yet
there was some wide breach between the two; evidently his own crisis
had forced the only communication which had passed between the two for
months. He wondered what that breach could be, and what had been its
And then an idea began to open its possibilities. What a splendid
return, if, somehow, he could do something that would help bring
together these two persons who had befriended him! . . .
But most of the time, while he waited for Miss Sherwood to summon him
again, he wondered about Maggie. Yes, as he had told Miss Sherwood,
Maggie was the most important problem of his life: all his many other
problems were important only in the degree that they aided or hindered
the solution of Maggie. Where was she?--what was she doing?--how was
he, in this pleasant prison which he dared not leave, ever to overcome
her scorn of him, and ever to divert her from that dangerous career in
which her proud and excited young vision saw only the brilliant and
profitable adventure of high romance?
When Maggie rode away forever from the house of the Duchess with
Barney Palmer and her father, after the denunciation of Larry by the
three of them as a stool and a squealer, she was the thrilled
container of about as many diversified emotions as often bubble and
swirl in a young girl at one and the same time. There was anger and
contempt toward Larry: Larry who had weakly thrown aside a career in
which he was a master, and who had added to that bad the worse of
being a traitor. There was the lifting sense that at last she had
graduated; that at last she was set free from the drab and petty
things of life; that at last she was riding forth into the great
brilliant world in which everything happened--forth into the
fascinating, bewildering Unknown.
Barney and Old Jimmie talked to each other as the taxicab bumped
through the cobbled streets, their talk being for the most part
maledictions against Larry Brainard. But their words were meaningless
sounds to the silent Maggie, all of whose throbbing faculties were
just then merged into an excited endeavor to perceive the glorious
outlines of the destiny toward which she rode. However, as the cab
turned into Lafayette Place and rolled northward, her curiosity about
the unknown became conscious and articulate.
"Where am I going?" she asked.
"First of all to a nice, quiet hotel." It was Barney who answered;
somehow Barney had naturally moved into the position of leader, and as
naturally her father had receded to second place. "We've got
everything fixed, Maggie. Rooms reserved, and a companion waiting
there for you."
"A companion!" exclaimed Maggie. "What for?"
"To teach you the fine points of manners, and to help you buy clothes.
She's a classy bird all right. I advertised and picked her out of a
dozen who applied."
"Barney!" breathed Maggie. She was silent a dazed moment, then asked:
"Just--just what am I going to do?"
"Listen, Maggie: I'll spill you the whole idea. I'd have told you
before, but it's developed rather sudden, and I've not had a real
chance, and, besides, I knew you'd be all for it. Jimmie and I have
canned that stock-selling scheme for good--unless an easy chance for
it develops later. Our big idea now is to put YOU across!" Barney
believed that there might still remain in Maggie some lurking
admiration for Larry, some influence of Larry over her, and to
eradicate these completely by the brilliance of what he offered was
the chief purpose of his further quick-spoken words. "To put you
across in the biggest kind of a way, Maggie! A beautiful, clever woman
who knows how to use her brains, and who has brainy handling, can
bring in more money, and in a safer way, than any dozen men! And I
tell you, Maggie, I'll make you a star!"
"Barney! . . . But you haven't told me just what I'm to do."
"The first thing will be just a try-out; it'll help finish your
education. I've got it doped out, but I'll not tell you till later.
The main idea is not to use you in just one game, Maggie, but to
finish you off so you'll fit into dozens of games--be good year after
year. A big actress who can step right into any big part that comes
her way. That's what pays! I tell you, Maggie, there's no other such
good, steady proposition on earth as the right kind of woman. And
that's what you're going to be!"
Maggie had heard much this same talk often before. Then it had been
vague, and had dealt with an indefinite future. Now she was too
dazzled by this picture of near events which the eager Barney was
drawing to be able to make any comment.
"I'll be right behind you in everything, and so will Jimmie," Barney
continued in his exciting manner--"but you'll be the party out in
front who really puts the proposition over. And we'll keep to things
where the police can't touch us. Get a man with coin and position
tangled up right in a deal with a woman, and he'll never let out a
peep and he'll come across with oodles of money. Hundreds of ways of
working that. A strong point about you, Maggie, is you have no police
record. Neither have I, though the police suspect me--but, as I said,
I'll keep off the stage as much as I can. I tell you, Maggie, we're
going to put over some great stuff! Great, I tell you!"
Maggie felt no repugnance to what had been said and implied by Barney.
How could she, when since her memory began she had lived among people
who talked just these same things? To Maggie they seemed the natural
order. At that moment she was more concerned by a fascinating
necessity which Barney's flamboyant enterprise entailed.
"But to do anything like that, won't I need clothes?"
"You'll need 'em, and you'll have 'em! You're going to have one of the
swellest outfits that ever happened. You'll make Paris ashamed of
"No use blowing the whole roll on Maggie's clothes," put in Old
Jimmie, speaking for the first time.
Barney turned on him caustically, almost savagely. "You're a hell of a
father, you are--counting the pennies on his own daughter! I told you
this was no piker's game, and you agreed to it--so cut out the idea
you're in any nickel-in-the-slot business!"
Old Jimmie felt physical pain at the thought of parting from money on
such a scale. His earlier plans concerning Maggie had never
contemplated any such extravagance. But he was silenced by the
dominant force behind Barney's sarcasm.
"Miss Grierson--she's your companion--knows what's what about
clothes," continued Barney to Maggie. "Here's the dope as I've handed
it to her. You're an orphan from the West, with some dough, who's come
to New York as my ward and Jimmie's and we want you to learn a few
things. To her and to any new people we meet I'm your cousin and
Jimmie is your uncle. You've got that all straight?"
"Yes," said Maggie.
"You're to use another name. I've picked out Margaret Cameron for you.
We can call you Maggie and it won't be a slip-up--see? If any of the
coppers who know you should tumble on to you, just tell 'em you
dropped your own name so's to get clear of your old life. They can't
do anything to you. And tell 'em you inherited a little coin; that's
why you're living so swell. They can't do anything about that either.
. . . Here's where we get out. Got a sitting-room, two bedrooms and a
bath hired for you here. But we'll soon move you into a classier
The taxi had stopped in front of one of the unpretentious, respectable
hotels in the Thirties, just off Fifth Avenue, and Maggie followed the
two men in. This hotel did, indeed, in its people, its furnishings,
its atmosphere, seem sober and commonplace after the Ritzmore; but at
the Ritzmore she had been merely a cigarette-girl, a paid onlooker at
the gayety of others. Here she was a real guest--here her great life
was beginning! Maggie's heart beat wildly.
Up in her sitting-room Barney introduced her to Miss Grierson, then
departed with a significant look at Old Jimmie, saying he would return
presently and leaving Old Jimmie behind. Old Jimmie withdrew into a
corner, turned to the racing part of the Evening Telegram, which, with
the corresponding section of the Morning Telegraph, was his sole
reading, and left Maggie to the society of Miss Grierson.
Maggie studied this strange new being, her hired "companion," with
furtive keenness; and after a few minutes, though she was shyly
obedient in the manner of an untutored orphan from the West, she had
no fear of the other. Miss Grierson was a large, flat-backed woman who
was on the descending slope of middle age. She was really a
"gentlewoman," in the self-pitying and self-praising sense in which
those who advertise themselves as such use that word. She was all the
social forms, all the proprieties. She was deferentially autocratic;
her voice was monotonously dignified and cultured; and she was tired,
which she had a right to be, for she had been in this business of
being a gentlewomanly hired aunt to raw young girls for over a quarter
of a Century.
To the tired but practical eye of Miss Grierson, here was certainly a
young woman who needed a lot of working over to make into a lady. And
though weary and unthrillable as an old horse, Miss Grierson was
conscientious, and she was going to do her best.
Maggie made a swift survey of her new home. The rooms were just
ordinary hotel rooms, furnished with the dingy, wholesale
pretentiousness of hotels of the second rate. But they were the
essence of luxury compared to her one room at the Duchess's with its
view of dreary back yards. These rooms thrilled her. They were her
first material evidence that she was now actually launched upon her
Maggie had dinner in her sitting-room with Old Jimmie and Miss
Grierson--and of that dinner, mediocre and sloppy, and chilled by its
transit of twelve stories from the kitchen, Miss Grierson, by way of
an introductory lesson, made an august function, almost diagrammatic
in its educational details. After the dinner, with Miss Grierson's
slow and formal aid, which consisted mainly in passages impressively
declaimed from her private book of decorum, Maggie spent two hours in
unpacking her suitcase and trunk, and repacking her scanty wardrobe in
drawers of the chiffonier and dressing-table; a task which Maggie,
left to herself, could have completed in ten minutes.
Maggie was still at this task in her bedroom when she heard Barney
enter her sitting-room. "He got away," she heard him say in a low
voice to Old Jimmie.
She slipped quickly out of her bedroom and closed the door behind her.
An undefined something had suddenly begun to throb within her.
"Who got away, Barney?" she demanded in a hushed tone.
Her look made Barney think rapidly. He was good at quick thinking, was
Barney. He decided to tell the truth--or part of it.
"Got away from what?" she pursued.
"The police. They were after him on some charge. And some of his pals
were after him, too. They were out to get him because he had squealed
on Red Hannigan and Jack Rosenfeldt. Both parties were closing in on
him at about the same time. But Larry got a tip somehow, and made his
"When did it happen?"
"Must have happened a little time after we all left the Duchess's."
"But--but, Barney--how did you learn it so soon?"
"Just ran into Officer Gavegan over on Broadway and he told me," lied
Barney. He preferred not to tell her that he had been upon the scene
with Little Mick and Lefty Ed; for the third figure which Larry had
descried through the misty shadows had indeed been Barney Palmer. Also
Barney preferred not to tell what further subtle share he had had in
the causes for Larry's flight.
"Do you think he--he made a safe get-away?"
"Safe for a few hours. Gavegan told me they'd have him rounded up by
noon to-morrow." Barney was more conscious of Maggie's interest than
was Maggie herself, and again was desirous of destroying it or
diverting it. "Generally I'm for the other fellow against the police.
But this time I'm all for the coppers. I hope they land Larry--he's
got it coming to him. Remember that he's a stool and a squealer."
And swiftly Barney switched the subject. "Let's be moving along,
He drew Maggie out into the hall, to make more certain that Miss
Grierson would not overhear. "Well, Maggie," he exulted, "haven't I
made good so far in my bargain to put you over?"
"Of course we're going slow at first. That's how you've got to handle
big deals--careful. But you'll sure be a knock-out when that she-
undertaker in there gets you rigged out in classy clothes. Then the
curtain will go up on the real show--and it's going to be a big show--
and you'll be the hit of the piece!"
With that incitement to Maggie's imagination Barney left her; and Old
Jimmie followed, furtively giving Maggie a brief, uncertain look.
A block away from the hotel Barney parted from Old Jimmie. For a space
Barney thought of his partner. Barney had quick eyes which were quite
capable of taking in two things at once; and while he had seen the
excited glow his final speech had brought back into Maggie's face, he
had also caught that swift look of uncertainty in the lean, cunning
face of Old Jimmie: a look of one who is eager to go on, yet sees
himself frustrated by his own eagerness. To Barney it was a puzzling,
As Barney made his way toward a harbor of refreshment he wondered
about Old Jimmie--not in the manner Larry had wondered about a father
bringing his daughter up into crooked ways--but he wondered what kind
of a man beneath his shrewd, yielding, placating manner Old Jimmie
really was, how far he was to be trusted, whether he was in this game
on the level or whether he was playing some very secret hand of his
own. Though he had known and worked with Old Jimmie for years, Barney
had never been admitted to the inner chambers of the older man's
character. He sensed that there were hidden rooms and twisting
passages; and of this much he was certain, that Old Jimmie was sly and
Well, he would be on guard that Old Jimmie didn't put anything over on
your obliging servant, Barney Palmer!
This was the era of legal prohibition, but thus far Barney had not
been severely discommoded by the action of the representatives of
America's free institutions in Washington, for Barney knew his New
York. In an ex-saloon on Sixth Avenue, which nominally sold only the
soft drinks permitted by the wise men of the Capital, Barney leaned at
his ease upon the bar and remarked: "Give me some of the real stuff,
Tim, and forget that eye-dropper the boss bought you last week."
Barney had a drink of the real stuff, and then another drink, in the
measuring of neither of which had an eye-dropper been involved.
After that, much heartened, he put two dollars upon the bar and went
his way. His course took the dapper Barney into three of the gayest
restaurants in the Times Square section; and in these Barney paused
long enough to speak to a few after-theater supper-parties. For this
was the hour when Barney paid his social calls; he was very strict
with himself upon this point. Barney was really by way of being a
rising figure in this particular circle of New York society composed
of people who had or believed they had an interest in the theater, of
expensively gowned women the foreground of whose lives was most
attractive, but whose background was perhaps wisely kept out of the
picture, and of moneyed young men who gloried in the idea that they
were living the life. These social calls from gay table to gay table,
at all of which Barney was welcome--for here Barney showed only his
most attractive surfaces, his most brilliant facets--were in truth a
very important part of Barney's business.
A little later, alone at a corner table in a quieter restaurant,
Barney was eating his supper and making an inventory of his prospects.
He was in a very exultant mood. The whiskey he had drunk had given
broad wings to his self-satisfaction; and what he was now sipping from
his tea-cup--it was not tea, for Barney was on the proper terms with
his waiter here--this draught from his tea-cup tipped these broad
wings at a yet more soaring angle.
Yes, he had certainly put it over so far. And Maggie would certainly
prove a winner. Those fair women he had chatted with as he had moved
from table to table, why, they'd be less than dirt compared to Maggie
when Maggie was rigged out and readied up and the stage was set. And
it had been he, Barney Palmer, who had been the first to discover
Maggie's latent possibilities!
He had an eye beyond mere surfaces, had Barney. He had used women in
the past in putting over many of his more private transactions (and
had done so partly for the reason that using women so was eminently
"safe"--this despite his violent outburst of sneering disdain at Larry
when the latter had spoken of safety): some of them professional
sharpers, some unscrupulous actresses of the lower flight--such women
as he had just chatted with in the restaurants where he had made his
brief visits. But such, he now recognized, were rather BLASEES, rather
too obvious. They were the blown rose. But Maggie was fresh, and once
she was properly broken in, she would be his perfect instrument. Yes,
Barney's plans soared on. Some day, when it fitted in just right with
his plans, he was going to marry Maggie, It was only recently that he
had seen her full charms, and still more recently that he had
determined upon marriage. That decision had materially altered certain
details of the career Barney had blue-printed for himself. Barney had
long regarded marriage as an asset for himself; a valuable resource
which he must hold in reserve and not liquidate, or capitalize, until
his own market was at its peak. He knew that he was good-looking, an
excellent dancer, that he had the metropolitan finish. He had
calculated that sometime some rich girl, perhaps from the West, who
did not know the world too well, would fall under the spell of his
charms; and he would marry her promptly while she was still
infatuated, before she could learn too much about him. Such had been
Barney's idea of marriage for himself; which is very similar to ideas
held by thousands of gentlemen, young and otherwise, in this broad
land of ours, who consider themselves neither law-breakers nor
But that was all changed now. Now it was Maggie, though Maggie in
pursuit of their joint advantage might possibly first have to go
through the marriage ceremony with some other man. Of course, a very,
very rich man! Barney already had this man marked. He hoped, though,
they would not have to go so far as marriage. However, he was willing
to wait his proper turn. As he had told Maggie, you could not put over
a big thing in a hurry.
As for Larry, he'd certainly handled that business in swell fashion!
He'd certainly put a crimp in what had been developing between Larry
and Maggie. And he'd get Larry in time, too. The drag-net was too
large and close of mesh for Larry to hope to escape it. The word he'd
slipped that boob Gavegan had sure done the business! And the indirect
way he had tipped off the police about Red Hannigan and Jack
Rosenfeldt and had then made his pals think Larry had squealed--that
was sure playing the game, too! Jack and Red would get off easy--there
was nothing on them; but little old Barney Palmer had certainly used
his bean in the way he had set the machinery of the police and the
under-world in motion against Larry!
While other occupants of the cafe, particularly the women, stole looks
at the handsome, flawlessly dressed, interesting-looking Barney,
Barney had yet another of those concoctions which the discreet waiter
served in a tea-cup. He'd done a great little job, you bet! Not
another man in New York could have done better. He was sure going to
put Maggie across! And in doing so, he was going to do what was right
by yours truly.
All seemed perfect in Barney's world. . . .
And while Barney sat exulting over triumphs already achieved and those
inevitably to be achieved, Maggie lay in her new bed dreaming exultant
dreams of her own: heedless of the regular snoring which resounded in
the adjoining room--for the excellent Miss Grierson, while able to
keep her every act in perfect form while in the conscious state,
unfortunately when unconscious had no more control of the goings-on of
her mortal functions than the lowliest washwoman. Maggie's flights of
fancy circled round and round Larry. She stifled any excuses or
insurgent yearnings for him. He'd deserved what he had got. Already,
contrary to his predictions, she had made a tremendous advance into
her brilliant future. She would show him! Yes, she would show him! Oh,
but she was going to do things!
But while she dreamed thus, shaping a magnificent destiny--an
independent, self-engineered young woman, so very, very confident of
the great future she was going to achieve through the supremacy of her
own will and her own abilities--no slightest surmise came into her
mind that Barney Palmer was making plans by which her will was to
count as naught and by which he was to be the master of her fate, and
that the furtive, yielding Old Jimmie was also dreaming a patient
dream in which she was to be a mere chess-piece which was to capture a
And yet, after all, Maggie's dreams, aside from the peculiar twist
life had given them, were fundamentally just the ordinary dreams of
youth: of willful confident youth, to whom but a small part of the
world has yet been opened, who in fact does not yet half know its own
No prison could have been more agreeable--that is, no prison from
which Maggie was omitted--than this in which Larry was now confined.
He had the run of the apartment; Dick Sherwood outfitted him liberally
with clothing from his superabundance of the best; Judkins and the
other servants treated him as the member of the family which they had
been informed he was; the lively Dick, with his puppy-like
friendliness, asked never an uncomfortable question, and placed Larry
almost on the footing of a chum; and the whimsically smiling Miss
Sherwood treated Larry exactly as she might have treated any well-bred
gentleman and in every detail made good on her promise to give him a
chance. In fact, in all his life Larry had never lived so well.
As for Miss Sherwood's aunt, a sister of Miss Sherwood's mother and a
figure of pale, absent-minded dignity, she kept very much to her own
sitting-room. She was a recent convert to the younger English
novelists, and was forced to her seclusion by the amazing fecundity
with which they kept repopulating her reading-table. Larry she
accepted with a hazy, preoccupied politeness, eager always to get back
to the more substantial characters of her latest fiction.
Of course Miss Sherwood did not make of Larry a complete confidant.
For all her smiling, easy frankness, he knew that there were many
doors of her being which she never unlocked for him. What he saw was
so interesting that he could not help being interested about the rest.
Of course many details were open to him. She was an excellent
sportswoman; a rare dancer; there were many men interested in her; she
dined out almost every other evening at some social affair blooming
belatedly in May (most of her friends were already settled in their
country homes, and she was still in town only because her place on
Long Island was in disorder due to a two months' delay in the
completion of alterations caused by labor difficulties); she had made
a study of beetles; she had a tiny vivarium in the apartment and here
she would sit studying her pets with an interest and patience not
unlike that of old Fabre upon his stony farm. Also, as Larry learned
from her accounts, there was a day nursery on the East Side whose lack
of a deficit was due to her.
All in all she was a healthy, normal, intelligent, unself-sacrificing
woman who belonged distinctly to her own day; who gave a great deal to
life, and who took a great deal from life.
Often Larry wished she would speak of Hunt. He was curious about Hunt,
of whom he thought daily; and such talk might yield him information
about the blustering, big-hearted painter who was gypsying it down at
the Duchess's. But as the days passed she never mentioned Hunt again;
not even to ask where he was or what he was doing. She was adhering
very strictly to the remark she had made the night Larry came here: "I
don't want to know until he wants me to know." And so Hunt remained
the same incomplete picture to Larry; the painter was indubitably at
home in such surroundings as these, and he was at home as a
roistering, hard-working vagabond at the Duchess's--but all the vast
spaces between were utterly blank, except for the sketchy remarks Hunt
had made concerning himself.
Larry had guessed that hurt pride was the reason for Hunt's vanishment
from the world which had known him. But he knew hurt pride was not
Miss Sherwood's motive for making no inquiries. Anger? No. Jealousy?
No. Some insult offered her? No. Larry went through the category of