Part 5 out of 6
"Coming back! That's the best argument you could make for my staying!"
"But, Larry--they both have keys, and Barney always carries a gun!"
"I stay here, unless you leave with me. Listen to some more, Maggie. I
laid all the cards on the table. Do you know the kind of people you're
tied up with? I'll not say anything about your father, for I guess you
know all there is to know. But Barney Palmer! He's the lowest kind of
crook that breathes. There's been a lot of talk about squealers and
police stools. Well, the big squealer, the big stool, is Barney
"I don't believe it!" she cried involuntarily.
"It's true! I've got it straight. Barney wanted to smash me, because
I'd made up my mind to quit the old game and because he wanted to get
me out of his way with you. So he framed it up so that I appeared to
be a squealer, and started the gangmen after me. And he put Barlow up
to the idea of forcing me to be a stool, and then framing me when I
refused. It was Barney who fixed things so I had to go to jail, or be
shot up, or run away. It was Barney Palmer who squealed on Red
Hannigan and Jack Rosenfeldt, and who's been squealing on his other
pals. And that's the sort you're stringing along with!"
She gazed at him in appalled half conviction. He remained silent to
let his truth sink in.
They were standing so, face to face, when a key grated in the outer
door of the little hallway as on the occasion of Larry's first visit
here. And as on that occasion, Maggie sprang swiftly forward and shot
home the bolt of the inner door. Then she turned and caught Larry's
"It's Barney--I told you he was coming!" she whispered. "Oh, why
didn't you go before? Come on!"
She tried to drag him toward her bedroom door, through which she had
once helped him escape. But this time he was not to be moved.
"I stay right here," he said to her.
There was the sound of a futile effort to turn the lock of the inner
door; then Barney's voice called out: "What's the matter, Maggie? Open
Maggie, still clutching Larry's resisting arm, stood gasping in wide-
"Open the door for them, Maggie," Larry whispered.
"I'll not do it!" she whispered back.
"Open it, or I will," he ordered.
Their gazes held a moment longer while Barney rattled at the lock.
Then slowly, falteringly, her amazed eyes over her shoulder upon him,
Maggie crossed and unlocked the door. Barney entered, Old Jimmie just
"I say, Maggie, what was the big idea in keeping us--" he was
beginning in a grumbling tone, when he saw Larry just beyond her. His
complaint broke off in mid-breath; he stopped short and his dark face
twitched with his surprise.
"Larry Brainard!" he finally exclaimed. Old Jimmie, suddenly tense,
blinked and said nothing.
"Hello, Barney; hello, Jimmie," Larry greeted his former allies,
putting on an air of geniality. "Been a long time since we three met.
Don't stand there in the door. Come right in."
Barney was keen enough to see, though Larry's attitude was careless
and his tone light, that his eyes were bright and hard. Barney moved
forward a couple of paces, alert for anything, and Old Jimmie
followed. Maggie looked on at the three men, her girlish figure taut
and hardly breathing.
"Didn't know you were in New York," said Barney.
"Well, here I am all right," returned Larry with his menacing
By now Barney had recovered from his first surprise. He felt it time
to assert his supremacy.
"How do you come to be here with Maggie?" he demanded abruptly.
"Happened to catch sight of her on the street to-day. Trailed her here
to the Grantham, and to-night I just dropped in."
Barney's tone grew more authoritative, more ugly. "We told you long
ago we were through with you. So why did you come here?"
"That's easy answered, Barney. The last time we were all together,
you'd come to take Maggie away. This is that same scene reproduced--
only this time I've come to take Maggie away."
"What's that?" snapped Barney.
Larry's voice threw off its assumed geniality, and became drivingly
hard. "And to get Maggie to come, I've been telling her the kind of a
bird you are, Barney Palmer! Oh, I've got the straight dope on you!
I've been telling her how you framed me, and were able to frame me
because you are Chief Barlow's stool."
Barney went as near white as it was possible for him to become, and
his mouth sagged. " What--what--" he stammered.
"I've been telling her that you are the one who really squealed on Red
Hannigan and Jack Rosenfeldt."
"You're a damned liar!" Barney burst out, and instantly from beneath
his left arm he whipped an automatic which he thrust against Larry's
stomach. "Take that back, damn you, or I'll blow you straight to
"Barney!--Larry!" interjected Maggie in sickened fright.
"This is nothing to worry over, Maggie," Larry said. He looked back at
Barney. "Oh, I knew you would flash a gun on me at some stage of the
game. But you're not going to shoot."
"You'll see, if you don't take that back!"
Larry realized that his hot blood had driven him into an enterprise of
daring, in which only bluff and the playing of his highest cards could
help him through.
"You don't think I was such a fool as to walk into this place without
taking precautions," he said contemptuously. "You won't shoot, Barney,
because since I knew I might meet you and you'd pull a gun, I had
myself searched by two friends just before I came up here. They'll
testify I was not armed. They know you, and know you so well that
they'll be able to identify the thing in your hand as your gun. So no
matter what Maggie and Jimmie may testify, the verdict will be cold-
blooded murder and the electric chair will be your finish. And that's
why I know you won't shoot. So you might as well put the gun away."
Barney neither spoke nor moved.
"I've called your bluff, Barney," Larry said sharply. "Put that gun
away, or I'll take it from you!"
Barney's glare wavered. The pistol sank from its position. With a
lightning-swift motion Larry wrenched it from Barney's hand.
"Guess I'd better have it, after all," he said, slipping it into a
pocket. "Keep you out of temptation."
And then in a subdued voice that was steely with menace: "I'm too busy
to attend to you now, Barney--but, by God, I'm going to square things
with you for the dirt you've done me, and I'm going to show you up for
a stool and a squealer!" He wheeled on Old Jimmie. "And the only
reason I'll be easy with you, Jimmie Carlisle, is because you are
Maggie's father--though you're the rottenest thing as a father God
ever let breathe!"
Old Jimmie shrank slightly before Larry's glower, and his little eyes
gleamed with the fear of a rat that is cornered. But he said nothing.
Larry turned his back upon the two men. "We're through with this
bunch, Maggie. Put on a hat and a wrap, and let's go. We can send for
"No you don't, Maggie," snarled Barney, before Maggie could speak.
Old Jimmie made his first positive motion since entering the room. He
shifted quickly to Maggie's side and seized her arm.
"You're my daughter, and you stay with me!" he ordered. "I brought you
up, and you do exactly what I tell you to! You're not going with
Larry--he's lying about Barney. You stay with me!"
"Come on, let's go, Maggie," repeated Larry.
"You stay with me!" repeated Jimmie.
Thus ordered and appealed to, Maggie was areel with contradicting
thoughts and impulses while the three men awaited her action. In fact
she had no clear thought at all. She never knew later what determined
her course at this bewildered moment: perhaps it was partly a
continuance of her doubt of Larry, perhaps partly once more sheer
momentum, perhaps her instinctive feeling that her place was with the
man she believed to be her father.
"Yes, I'll stay with you," she said to Old Jimmie.
"That's the signal for you to be on your way, Larry Brainard!" Barney
snapped at him triumphantly.
Larry realized, all of a sudden, that his coming here was no more than
a splendid gesture to which his anger had excited him. Indeed there
was nothing for him but to be on his way.
"I've told you the truth, Maggie; and you'll be sorry that you have
not left--if not sorry soon, then sorry a little later."
He turned to Barney with a last shot; he could not leave the gloating
Barney Palmer his unalloyed triumph. "I told you I had the straight
dope on you, Barney. Here's some more of it. I know exactly what your
game is, and I know exactly who your sucker is. We'll see if you put
it over--you squealer! Good-night, all."
With that Larry walked out. Old Jimmie regarded his partner with
"How about that, Barney--you being a stool and a squealer?" he
"I tell you it's all a lie--a damned lie!" cried Barney with feverish
"I hope it is!" breathed Old Jimmie.
This was a subject Barney wanted to get away from. "Maggie," he
demanded, "is what Larry Brainard said about how he came here the
truth?--his seeing you on the street and then following you here?"
"How do I know where he first saw me?"
"But is to-night the first time you've seen him?"
"Sure you haven't been seeing him?" demanded Barney's quick jealousy.
"I have not."
"Did he tell you where he came from?--where he hangs out?"
Old Jimmie interrupted this cross-examination.
"You're wasting good time asking these questions. Barney, do you
realize the cold fact that it's not a good thing for you, nor for us,
for Larry Brainard to be back in New York, floating around as he
"I should say not!" Barney saw he was facing a sudden crisis, and in
the need for quick action he spoke without thought of Maggie. "We've
got to look after him at once!"
"Tell the bunch he's back, and let them take care of him?" suggested
Barney considered rapidly. If Larry knew of his arrangement with the
police, then perhaps his secret was beginning to leak through to
others. He decided that for the present it would be wiser to keep from
these old friends and allies.
"Not the bunch--the police!" he said inspiredly. "They're after him,
anyhow, and are sore. All we've got to do is slip them word--they'll
do the rest!" And then with the sharper emphasis of an immediate plan:
"We don't want to lose a minute. I know where Gavegan hangs out at
this time of night. Come on!"
With a bare "Good-night" to Maggie the two men hurried forth on their
pressing mission. Left to herself, Maggie sank into a chair and wildly
considered the many elements of this new situation. Presently two
thoughts emerged to dominance: Whether Larry was right or wrong, he
had risked coming out of his safety for her sake--perhaps had risked
all he had won for her sake. And now the police were to be set after
him, with that Gavegan heading the pack.
Perhaps the further thinking Maggie did did not result in cool, mature
wisdom--for her thoughts were the operations of a panicky mind.
Somehow she had to get warning to Larry of this imminent police hunt!
Without doubt Larry would return to Cedar Crest sometime that night.
Word should be sent to him there. A letter was too uncertain in such a
crisis. Of course she had an invitation to go to Cedar Crest the
following afternoon, and she might warn him then--but that might be
too late. She dared not telephone or telegraph--for that might somehow
direct dangerous attention to the exact spot where Larry was hidden.
Also she had an instinct, operating unconsciously long before she had
any thought of what she was eventually to do, not to let Barney or Old
Jimmie find out, or even guess, that she had warned Larry--not yet.
There seemed nothing that she herself could do. Then she thought of
the Duchess. That was the way out! The Duchess would know some way in
which to get Larry word.
Five minutes later, in her plainest suit and hat, Maggie in a taxicab
was rolling down toward the Duchess's--from where, only a few months
back, she had started forth upon her great career.
Old Jimmie did not like meeting the police any oftener than a meeting
was forced upon him, and so he slipped away and allowed Barney Palmer
to undertake alone the business of settling Larry. Barney found
Gavegan exactly where he had counted: lingering over his late dinner
in the cafe of a famous Broadway restaurant--a favorite with some of
the detectives and higher officials of the Police Department--in which
cafe, in happier days now deeply mourned, Gavegan had had all the
exhilaration he wanted to drink at the standing invitation of the
proprietor, and where even yet on occasion a bit of the old
exhilaration was brought to Gavegan's table in a cup or served him in
a room above to which he had had whispered instructions to retire. The
proprietor had in the old days liked to stand well with the police;
and though his bar was now devoted to legal drinks--or at least
obliging Federal officers reported it to be--he still liked to stand
well with the police.
Gavegan was at a table with a minor producer of musical shows, to whom
Barney had been of occasional service in securing the predominant
essential of such music--namely, shapely young women. Barney nodded to
Gavegan, chatted for a few minutes with his musical-comedy friend,
during which he gave Gavegan a signal, then crossed to the once-
crowded bar, now sunk to isolation and the lowly estate of soft
drinks, and ordered a ginger ale. Not until then did he notice Barlow,
chief of the Detective Bureau, at a corner table. Barney gave no sign
of recognition, and Barlow, after a casual glance at him, returned to
Barney, in solitude at one end of the bar, slowly sipped with a sort
of indignation against his kickless purchase. Presently Gavegan was
beside him, having most convincing ill-luck in his attempts to light
his cigar from a box of splintering safety matches which stood at that
end of the bar.
"Well, what is it?" Gavegan whispered out of that corner of his mouth
which was not occupied by his cigar. He did not look at Barney.
"Any clue to Larry Brainard yet?" Barney whispered also out of a
corner of his mouth, glass at his lips. Like-wise he seemed not to
notice the man beside him.
"Naw! Still out West somewhere. Them Chicago bums couldn't catch a
crook if he walked along State Street with a sign-board on him!"
"Saw Larry Brainard to-night."
Gavegan had difficulty in maintaining his attitude of non-awareness of
"Right here in New York."
"What! Where'd you see him?"
"Coming out of the Grantham."
"Fifteen minutes ago."
"Know where he went to?--where he hangs out?--know anything else?"
"That's everything. Thought I'd better slip it to you as quick as I
"This time that bird'll not get away!" growled Gavegan, still in a
whisper. "Twenty-four hours and he'll be in the cooler!"
Finally Gavegan managed to get a flame from one of those irritatingly
splintery Swedish matches made in Japan. Cigar alight he walked over
to Barlow's table. He conversed with his Chief a moment or two, then
went out. After a minute Barney saw Chief Barlow crossing toward the
bar. Barney seemed not to notice this movement. Barlow likewise paused
beside him to light a cigar; and from the side of the Chief's mouth
there issued: "Room 613."
Barlow passed on. Presently Barney finished the dreary drudgery of
drink and sauntered out. Five minutes later, having exercised the
proper caution, he was in Room 613, and the door was locked.
"What's this dope you just handed Gavegan about Larry Brainard?"
Barney gave his information, again, but this time more fully. Of
course he omitted all mention of Maggie and the enterprise which Larry
had sought to interrupt; it was part of the tacit understanding
between these two that Barlow should have no knowledge of Barney's
professional doings, unless such knowledge should be forced upon him
by events or people too strong to be ignored.
"Did Brainard drop any clue that might give us a lead as to where he's
Barney remembered something Larry had said half an hour before, which
he had considered mere boasting. "He said he knew I had some game on,
and he said he knew who the sucker was I was planning to trim."
"Did he say who the sucker was?"
"If Larry Brainard really did know, then who would he be having in
Barney hesitated; but he perceived that this was a question which had
to be answered. "Young Dick Sherwood, of the swell Sherwood family--
Barlow did not pursue the subject. According to his arrangement with
Barney, the latter's private activities were none of his business.
"I'll get busy with the drag-net; we'll land Brainard this time," said
Barlow. And then with a grim look at Barney: "But Larry Brainard's not
what I got you up here to talk about, Palmer. I wanted to talk about
two words to you--and say 'em to you right between your eyes."
"Go ahead, Chief."
"First, you ain't been worth a damn to me for several months. You've
given me no value received for me keeping my men off of you. You
haven't turned up a single thing."
"Come, now, Chief--you're forgetting about Red Hannigan and Jack
"Chicken feed! They're out on bail, and when their cases come up,
they'll beat them! Besides, you didn't give me that tip to help me;
you gave it to me so that you could fix things to put Larry Brainard
in bad with all his old friends. You did that to help yourself. Shut
up! Don't try to deny it. I know!"
Barney did not attempt denial. Barlow went on:
"And the second thing I want to tell you, and tell you hard, is this:
You gotta turn in some business! The easy way you've been going makes
it look like you've forgot I've got hold of you where the hair's long.
Young man, you'd better remember that I've got you cold for that
Gregory stock business--you and Old Jimmie Carlisle. Got all the
papers in a safety-deposit vault, and got three witnesses doing
stretches in Sing Sing. Keep on telling yourself all that! and keep on
telling yourself that, if you don't come across, some day soon I'll
suddenly discover that you're the guilty party in that Gregory affair,
and I'll bring down those witnesses I've got cached in Sing Sing."
Barney moved uneasily in his chair. He knew the bargain he had made,
and did not like to dwell upon the conditions under which he was a
"No need to rag me like this, Chief," he protested. "Sure I remember
all you've said. And you're not going to have cause to be sore much
longer. There'll be plenty doing."
"See that there is! And see that you don't pull any raw work. And see
that you don't let your foot slip. For if you do, you know what'll
happen to you. Now get out!"
Barney got out, again protesting that he would not be found failing.
He was not greatly disturbed by what Barlow had said. Every so often
there had to be just such sessions, and every so often Barlow had to
let off just such steam.
Barney's errand was done. The police of the city were on Larry's trail
and his share in the matter was and would remain unknown. Thus far all
was well. He had no doubt of Larry's early capture, now that he was
back in New York, and now that the whole police force had been
promptly warned and were hotly after him, and now that all avenues of
exit would instantly be, in fact by this time were, under surveillance
and closed against him--and now that every refuge of the criminal
world was only a trap for him. No, there wasn't a doubt of Larry's
early capture. There couldn't be. And once Larry was locked up, things
would be much better. Barlow would see that Larry didn't talk
undesirable things, or at least that such talk was not heard. It
wasn't exactly pleasant or safe having Larry at large, free to blurt
out to the wrong persons those things about Barney's being a stool and
Greatly comforted, though eager for news of the chase, Barney started
on his evening's routine of visiting the gayer restaurants. Business
is business, and a man suffers when he neglects it. True, this was a
neat proposition which he had in hand; but that would soon be cleaned
up, and Businessman Barney desired to be all ready to move forward
into further enterprises.
In the meanwhile there had been a session between Maggie and the
Duchess. At about the time Barney had whispered his unlipped news to
Gavegan, Maggie, breathless with her frantic haste though she had made
the journey in a taxicab, entered the familiar room behind the
"Good-evening, Maggie." The voice was casual, indifferent, though at
that moment there was no person that the Duchess, pondering her
problems, more wished to see. "Sit down. What's the matter?"
"The police know Larry is in New York and are after him!"
"How do you know?"
Rapidly Maggie told of the happenings in her sitting-room, and of
Barney and Old Jimmie starting out to warn Gavegan. The Duchess heard
every word, but most of her faculties were concentrated upon a
reexamination of Maggie and upon those questions which had been
troubling her all evening and for these many days. Was there good in
Maggie? Was she justified in longer suppressing the truth of Maggie's
"Why are you telling me all this?" the Duchess asked, when Maggie had
finished her rapid recital.
"Why! Isn't it plain? I want you to get warning to Larry that the
police are after him!"
"Why not do it yourself?"
"I'm going out where he is to-morrow, but that may be too late."
Maggie gave her other reasons, such as they were. The old woman's eyes
never left Maggie's flushed face, and yet never showed any interest.
"I thought you were tied up with Barney and Old Jimmie," the Duchess
commented. "Why are you going against them in this, and trying to help
"What's the difference why I'm doing it," Maggie cried with feverish
impatience, "so long as I'm trying to help him out of this!"
"Don't you realize," continued the calm old voice, "that Larry must
already know, as a matter of course, that the police and all the old
crowd are after him?"
"Perhaps he does, and perhaps he doesn't. All the same, he should know
for certain! The big point is, will you get Larry word?"
A moment passed and the Duchess did not speak. In fact this time she
had not heard Maggie, so intent was she in trying to look through
Maggie's dark, eager eyes to the very core of Maggie's being.
"Will you get Larry word?" Maggie repeated impatiently.
The Duchess came out of her study. There was a sudden thrill within
her, but it did not show in her voice.
"As soon as telling him will do any good. And now you better hurry
back to your hotel, if you don't want Barney and Old Jimmie to suspect
what you've been up to. Though why you still want to hang on to that
pair, knowing what they are, is more than I can guess."
She stood up. "Wait a minute," she said as Maggie started for the
door. Maggie turned back, and for another moment the Duchess silently
peered deep into Maggie's eyes. Then she said shortly, almost sharply:
"At your age I was twice as pretty as you are--and twice as clever--
and I played much the same game. Look what I got out of life! . . .
Good-night." And abruptly the Duchess wheeled about and mounted the
Twenty minutes later Maggie was back at the Grantham, her absence
unobserved. Though palpitant over Larry's fate, she had the
satisfaction of having achieved with Larry's grandmother what she had
set forth to achieve. She did not know, could not know, that what she
had accepted as her achievement was inconsequential compared to what
had actually been achieved by her spontaneous appearance before the
As the Duchess had gazed into Maggie's excited, imploring eyes, it had
been borne in upon her carefully judging and painfully hesitant mind
that there was better than a fifty per cent chance that Larry was
right in his estimate of Maggie; that Maggie's inclination toward
criminal adventure, her supreme self-confidence, all her bravado, were
but the superficial though strong tendencies developed by her
unfortunate environment; that within that cynical, worldly shell there
were the vital and plastic makings of a real woman.
And so the long-troubled Duchess, who to her acquaintances had always
seemed as unemotional as the dust-coated, moth-eaten parrot which
stood in mummified aloofness upon her safe, had made a momentous
decision that had sent through her old veins the thrilling sap of a
great crisis, a great suspense. She had tried to guide destiny. She
was now through with such endeavor. She had no right, because of her
love for Larry, to withhold longer the facts of Maggie's parentage.
She was now going to tell the truth, and let events work out as they
But the events--what were they going to be?
For a moment the Duchess had been impelled to tell the truth straight
out to Maggie. But she had caught herself in time. This whole affair
was Larry's affair, and the truth belonged to him to be used as he saw
fit. So when she had told Maggie that she would get word to Larry, it
was this truth which she had had in mind, and only in a very minor way
the news which Maggie had brought.
This was, of course, such a truth as could be safely communicated only
by word of mouth. The Duchess realized that Larry no longer dared come
to her, and that therefore she must manage somehow to get to him. And
get to him without betraying his whereabouts.
There was little chance that the police would search her place or
greatly bother her. To the police mind, now that Larry was aware he
was known to be in New York, the pawnshop would obviously be the last
place in which he would seek refuge or through which he would have
dealings. Nevertheless, the Duchess deemed it wise to lose no moment
and to neglect no possible caution. Therefore, while Barney was still
with Chief Barlow and before the general order regarding Larry had
more than reached the various police stations, the Duchess, in cape,
hat, and veil, was out of her house. A block up the street lived the
owner of two or three taxicabs, concerning whom the Duchess, who was
almost omniscient in her own world, knew much that the said owner
ardently desired should be known no further. A few sentences with this
gentleman, and fifteen minutes later, huddled back in the darkened
corner of a taxicab, she rolled over the Queensboro Bridge out upon
Long Island on her mission of releasing a fact whose effect she could
An hour and a half after that Larry was leading her to a bench in the
scented darkness of the Sherwoods' lawn. She had telephoned "Mr.
Brandon" from a drug-store booth in Flushing, and Larry had been
waiting for her near the entrance to Cedar Crest.
"What brought you out here like this, grandmother?" Larry whispered in
amazement as he sat down beside her.
"To tell you that the police are after you," she whispered back.
"I knew that already."
"Yes, I knew that you would."
"But how did you find out?"
"Maggie told me."
"She came down to see me, told me what had just happened at her place,
told me about Barney hurrying away to slip the news to that Gavegan,
and begged me to warn you at once. She was terribly nervous and
"Maggie did that!" he breathed. His heart leaped at her unexpected
concern for him. "Maggie did that!" And then: "There wasn't any need;
she should have known that I would know."
"It was rather foolish in a way--but Maggie was too excited to use
His grandmother did not speak for a moment. "Her losing her head and
coming shows that she cares for you, Larry."
He could make no response. This was indeed the clearest evidence
Maggie had yet given that possibly she might care.
"Maggie may have lost her head in her excitement," he managed to say;
"but, grandmother, there was no reason for you to lose your head so
far as to come away out here to tell me about the police."
"I didn't come away out here to tell you about the police," she
replied. "I came to tell you something else."
"You're sure you really care for Maggie?"
"I told you that when I was down to see you this evening."
Though the Duchess had decided, the desire to protect Larry remained
tenaciously in her and made it hard for her jealous love to take a
risk. "You're sure she might turn out all right--that is, under better
"I'm sure, grandmother." He recalled how a few hours earlier at the
Grantham the demand of Old Jimmie that she remain with him had seemed
the force that had controlled her decision. "There would be no doubt
of it if it were not for Old Jimmie, and the people he's kept her
among, and the ideas he's been feeding her since she was a baby. I
don't think she has any love for her father; but they say blood is
mighty thick and I guess with her it's just the usual instinct of a
child to stand with her father and do what he says. Yes, if she were
not held back and held down by having Old Jimmie for a father, I'm
sure she'd be all right."
The Duchess felt that the moment had now arrived for her to unloose
her secret. But despite her fixed purpose to tell, her words had to be
forced out, and were halting, bald.
"Jimmie Carlisle--is not her father."
"What's that?" exclaimed Larry.
"Not so loud. I said Jimmie Carlisle is not her father."
"Her father is Joe Ellison."
"Grandmother!" He caught her hands. "Why--why--" But for a moment his
utter dumbfoundment paralyzed his speech. "You're--you're sure of
that?" he finally got out.
"Yes." She went on and told of how her suspicion had been aroused, of
her interview with Joe Ellison which had transmuted suspicion into
certainty, of her theory of the motives which had actuated Jimmie
Carlisle in so perverting the directions of the man who had held
Jimmie as his most trusted friend.
Larry was fairly stunned by this recital of what had been done. And he
was further stunned as he realized the fullness of what now seemed to
be the circumstances.
"God, think of it!" he breathed. "Maggie trying to be a great
adventuress because she was brought up that way, because she thinks
her father wants her to be that--and having never a guess of the
truth! And Joe Ellison believing that his daughter is a nice, simple
girl, happily ignorant of the life he tried to shield her from--and
having never a guess of the truth! What a situation! And if they
should ever find out--"
He broke off, appalled by the power and magnitude of what he vaguely
saw. Presently he said in a numbed, awed voice:
"They should know the truth. But how are they to find out?"
"I'm leaving all that to you, Larry. Maggie and Joe Ellison are your
affair. It's up to you to decide what you think best to do."
Larry was silent for several moments. "You've known this for some
"For several weeks."
"Why didn't you tell me before?"
"I was afraid it might somehow bring you closer to Maggie, and I
didn't want that," she answered honestly. "Now I think a little better
of Maggie. And you've proved to me I can trust a great deal more to
your judgment. Yes, I guess that's the chief reason I've come out here
to tell you this: you've proved to me I've got to respect your
judgment. And so whatever you may do--about Maggie or anything else--
will be all right with me."
She did not wait for a response, but stood up. Her voice which had
been shot through with emotion these last few minutes was now that
flat, mechanical monotone to which the habitants of her little street
"I must be getting back to the city. Good-night."
He started to accompany her to her car, but she forbade him, saying
that it would not help matters to have him seen and possibly
recognized by the taxicab driver; and so she went out of the grounds
alone. Within another hour and a half she was set down unobserved in a
dim side street in Brooklyn. Thence she made her way on foot to the
Subway and rode home. If the police had noticed her absence and should
question her, she could refuse to answer, or say that she had been
visiting late with a friend in Brooklyn.
Larry sat long out in the night after his grandmother had left him.
What should he do with this amazing information placed at his
disposal? Tell Joe Ellison? Or tell Maggie? Or tell both? Or himself
try to meet Jimmie Carlisle and pay that traitor to Joe Ellison and
that malformer of Maggie the coin he had earned?
But for hours the situation itself was still too bewildering in its
many phases for Larry to give concentrated thought to what should be
its attempted solution. Not until dawn was beginning to awaken dully,
as with a protracted yawn, out of the shadowy Sound, was he able
really to hold his mind with clearness upon the problem of what use he
should make of these facts of which he had been appointed guardian. He
decided against telling Joe Ellison--at least he would not tell him
yet. He recalled the rumors of Joe Ellison's repressed volcano of a
temper; if Joe Ellison should learn how he had been defrauded, all the
man's vital forces would be instantly transformed into destructive,
vengeful rage that would spare no one and count no cost. The result
would doubtless be tragedy, with no one greatly served, and with Joe
very likely back in prison. If he himself should go out to give Old
Jimmie his deserts, his action would be just good powder wasted--it
likewise would serve no constructive purpose. Larry realized that it
is only human nature for a wronged man to wish for and attempt
revenge; but that in the economy of life revenge has no value, serves
no purpose; that it usually only makes a bad situation worse.
A tremendous wrong had been done here, a wrong which showed a
malignant, cunning, patient mind. But as Larry finally saw the matter,
the point for first consideration was not the valueless satisfaction
of making the guilty man suffer, but was to try to restore to the
victims some part of those precious things of which they had been
And then Larry had what seemed to him an inspiration: his inspiration
being only a sane thought, and what the Duchess, though she had not
pointed the way to him, had thought he would do. Maggie was the
important person in this situation!--Maggie whose life was just
beginning, and whose nature he still believed to be plastic! Not Joe
Ellison or Old Jimmie Carlisle, who had almost lived out their lives
and whose natures were now settled into what they would be until the
end. By playing upon the finer elements in Maggie's character he had
all but succeeded in rousing to dominance that best nature which
existed within her. He would privately tell Maggie the truth, and tell
only her and leave the using of that knowledge to her alone. The shock
of that knowledge, the effect of its revelations upon her, together
with the responsibility of what she should do with this information,
might be just the final forces necessary to make Maggie break away
from all that she had been and swing over to all that he believed she
Yes, that was the thing to do! And he would do it within the next
twelve hours; for Dick had told him that Maggie was coming out again
to Cedar Crest on the afternoon of the day which was now rousing from
its sleep. That is, he would do it if the police or the allies of his
one-time friends did not locate him before Maggie came. But of that he
had no serious fear; he knew he had made a clean get-away from the
Grantham, and that the shrewd Duchess had left no scent by which those
bloodhounds of the Police Department could trail her.
Larry did not even try to sleep; he knew it would be of no avail. Back
in his own room he sat going over the situation, and his decision. He
tingled with the sense of the tremendous power which had been
delivered into his hands. Yes, tremendous! But what were going to be
Maggie's reactions the moment he told her?--just what would be her
course after she knew the truth?
Larry undressed, had a bath, shaved, dressed again, and started to
work. But that day the most Larry did was abstractedly going through
the motions of work. He was completely filled with the situation and
its many questions, and with the suspense of waiting for Maggie to
come and of how he was going to manage to see her privately.
The meeting, however, proved no difficulty; for Maggie, who arrived at
four, had come primarily on Larry's account and she herself maneuvered
the encounter. While they were on the piazza, Dick having gone into
the house for a fresh supply of cigarettes, and Miss Sherwood being in
an animated discussion with Hunt, Maggie said:
"Miss Sherwood, I've never had a real look down at the Sound from the
edge of your bluff. Do you mind if Mr. Brandon shows me?"
"Not at all. Tea won't be served for half an hour, so take your time.
Have Mr. Brandon show you the view from just the other side of that
old rose-bench; that's the best view."
They walked away chatting mechanically until they were in a garden
seat behind the rose-bench. The rose-bench was a rather sorry affair,
for it had been set out in this exposed place by a former gardener who
had forgotten that the direct winds from the Sound are malgracious to
roses. However, it screened the two, and was far enough removed so
that ordinary tones would not carry to the house.
"Did your grandmother get you word about the police?" Maggie asked
with suppressed excitement as soon as they were seated.
"Yes. She came out here about midnight."
"Then why, while you still had time, didn't you get farther away from
New York than this?"
"If I'm to be caught, I'm to be caught; in the meantime, this is as
safe a place as any other for me. Besides, I wanted to have at least
one more talk with you--after something new grandmother told me about
"Something new about me?" echoed Maggie, startled by his grave tone.
"About your father," he said, watching closely for the effect upon her
of his revelations.
"What about my father? What's he been doing that I don't know about?"
"You do not know a single thing that your father has done."
"Because you do not know who your father is."
"What!" she gasped.
"Listen, Maggie. What I'm going to tell you may seem unbelievable, but
you've got to believe it, because it's the truth. I can see that you
have proofs if you want proofs. But you can accept what I tell you as
absolute facts. You are by birth a very different person from what you
believe yourself. Your father is not Jimmie Carlisle. And your mother-
"Larry!" She tensely gripped his arm.
"Your mother was of a good family. I imagine something like Miss
Sherwood's kind--though not so rich and not having such social
standing. She died when you were born. She never knew what your
father's business actually was; he passed for a country gentleman. He
was about the smoothest and biggest crook of his time, and a straight
crook if there is such a thing."
"Larry!" she breathed.
"He kept this gentleman-farmer side of his life and his marriage
entirely hidden from his crook acquaintances; that is, from all except
one whom he trusted as his most loyal friend. Before you were old
enough to remember, he was tripped up and sent away on a twenty-year
"And he's--he's still in prison?" whispered Maggie.
Larry did not heed the interruption. "He had developed the highest
kind of ambition for you. He wanted you to grow up a fine simple woman
like your mother--something like Miss Sherwood. He did not want you
ever to know the sort of life he had known; and he did not want you to
be handicapped by the knowledge that you had a crook for a father. He
still had intact your mother's fortune, a small one, but an honest
one. So he put you and the money in the hands of his trusted friend,
with the instructions that you were to be brought up as the girls of
the nicest families are brought up, and believing yourself an orphan."
"That friend of his, Larry?" she whispered tensely.
"I don't know what Jimmie Carlisle's motives were for what he has
done. Perhaps to get your money, perhaps some grudge against your
father, which he was afraid to show while your father was free, for
your father was always his master. But Old Jimmie has brought you up
exactly contrary to the orders he received. If revenge was Old
Jimmie's motive, his cunning, cowardly brain could not have conceived
a more diabolical revenge, one that would hurt your father more. Till
a few years ago, when word was sent to your father that Old Jimmie was
dead, Jimmie regularly wrote your father about the success of his
plan, about how splendidly you were developing and getting on with the
best people. And your father--I knew him in prison--now believes you
have grown up into exactly the kind of young woman he planned."
"Larry!" she choked in a numbed voice. "Larry!"
"Your father is now as happy as it is possible for him to be, for he
has lived for years and still lives in the belief that his great
dream, the only big thing left for him to do, has come to pass: that
somewhere out in the world is his daughter, grown into a nice, simple,
wholesome young woman, with a clean, wholesome life before her. And
though she is the one thing in all the world to him, he never intends
to see her again for fear that his seeing her might somehow result in
an accident that would destroy her happy ignorance. Maggie, can you
conceive the tremendous meaning to your father of what he believes he
has created? And can you conceive the tremendous difference between
the dream he lives upon, and the reality?"
She was white, staring, wilted. For once all the defiance, self-
confidence, bravado, melted out of her, and she was just an appalled
and frightened young girl.
After a moment she managed to repeat the question Larry had ignored:
"Is my real father--still in prison?"
"You'd like to see your real father?" he asked her.
"I think--I'd like to have a glimpse of him," she breathed.
Larry, just before this, had noted Joe Ellison in his blue overalls
and wide straw hat cleaning out a bank of young dahlias a distance up
the bluff. He now took Maggie's arm and guided her in that direction.
"See that man there working among the dahlias?--the man who once
brought you a bunch of roses? Joe Ellison is his name. He's the man
I've been talking about--your father."
He felt her quivering under his hand for a moment, and heard her
breath come in swift, spasmodic pants. He was wondering what was the
effect upon her of this climax of his revelation, when she whispered:
"Do you suppose--I can speak--to my father?"
"Of course. He likes all young women. And I told you that he and I
were close friends."
"Then--come on." She arose, clinging to him, and drew him after her.
Halfway to Joe she breathed: "You please say something first.
He recognized this as the appeal of one whose faculties were reeling.
There had never been any attempt here at Cedar Crest to conceal Joe
Ellison's past, and in Larry's case there had been only such
concealment as might help his evasion of his dangers. And so Larry
remarked as Joe Ellison took his wide hat off his white hair and stood
bareheaded before them:
"Joe, Miss Cameron knows who I really am, and about my having been in
Sing Sing; and I've just told her about our having been friends there.
Also I told her about your having a daughter. It interested her and
she asked me if she couldn't talk to you, so I brought her over."
Larry stood aside and tensely watched this meeting between father and
daughter. Joe bowed slightly, and with a dignified grace that overalls
and over fifteen years of prison could not take from one who during
his early and middle manhood had been known as the perfection of the
finished gentleman. His gray eyes warmed with appreciation of the
young figure before him, just as Larry had seen them grow bright
watching the young figures disporting in the Sound.
"It is very gracious for a young woman like you, Miss Cameron," he
said in a voice of grave courtesy, "to be interested enough in an old
man like me to want to talk with him."
Maggie made the supreme effort of her life to keep herself in hand. "I
wanted to talk to you because of something Mr. Brainard told me about-
-about your having a daughter."
Larry felt that this was too sacred a scene for him to intrude upon.
"Would you mind excusing me," he said; "there are some calculations
I've got to rush out"--and he returned to the bench on which they had
been sitting and pretended to busy himself over a pocket notebook.
While Larry had been speaking and moving away, Maggie had swiftly been
appraising her father. His gray eyes were direct as against the
furtiveness of Jimmie's; his mouth had a firm kindliness as against
the wrinkled cunning of Jimmie's; his bearing was erect, self-
possessed, as against Jimmie's bent, shuffling carriage. Maggie felt
no swift-born daughter love for this stranger who was her father. The
turmoil of her discovery filled her too completely to admit a full-
grown affection; but she thrilled with the sense of the vast
difference between her supposed father and this her real father.
In the meantime her father had spoken. Joe would have been more
reserved with men or with older women; but with this girl, so much the
sort of girl he had long dreamed about, his reserve vanished without
resistance, and in its place was a desire to talk to this beautiful
creature who came out of the world which the big white house
"I have a daughter, yes," he said. "But Larry--Mr. Brainard perhaps I
should say--has likely told you all there is to tell."
"I'd like to hear it from you, please--if you don't mind."
"There's really not much to tell," he said. "You know what I was and
what happened. When I went to prison my daughter was too young to
remember me--less than two years old. I didn't want her ever to be
drawn into the sort of life that had been mine, or be the sort of
woman that a girl becomes who gets into that life. And I didn't want
her ever to have the stigma, and the handicap, of her knowing and the
world knowing that her father was a convict. You can't understand it
fully, Miss Cameron, but perhaps you can understand a little how
disgraced you would feel, what a handicap it would be, if your father
were a convict. I had a good friend I could trust. So I turned my
daughter over to him, to be brought up with no knowledge of my
existence, and with every reasonable advantage that a nice girl should
have. I guess that's all, Miss Cameron."
"This friend--what was his name?"
"Carlisle--Jimmie Carlisle. But his name could never have meant
anything to you. Besides, he's dead now."
Maggie forced herself on. "Your plan--it turned out all right? And
you--you are happy?"
"Yes." In the sympathetic atmosphere which this young girl's presence
created for him, Joe's emotions flowed into words more freely than
ever before in the company of a human being. Though he was answering
her, what he was really doing was rather just letting his heart use
its long-silent voice, speak its exultant dream and belief.
"Somewhere out in the world--I don't know where, and I don't want to
know--my daughter has now grown into a wholesome, splendid young
woman!" he said in a vibrant voice. Brooding in solitude so long upon
his careful plan that he believed could not fail, had made the keen
Joe Ellison less suspicious concerning it than he otherwise would have
been--perhaps had made him a bit daffy on this one subject. "I have
saved my daughter from all the grime she might have known, and which
might have soiled her, and even pulled her down if I hadn't thought
out in good time my plan to protect her. And of course I am happy!" he
exulted. "I have done the best thing that it was possible for me to
do, the thing which I wanted most to do! Instead of what she might
have been, I have as a daughter just such a nice girl as you are--just
about your own age--though, of course, she hasn't your money, your
social position, and naturally not quite the advantages you have had.
Of course I'm happy!"
"You're--you're sure she's all that?"
Again his words were as much a statement aloud to himself of his
constant dream as they were a direct answer to Maggie. "Of course!
There was enough money--the plan was in the hands of a friend who knew
how to handle such a thing--she's never known anything but the very
best surroundings--and until she was fourteen I had regular reports on
how wonderfully she was progressing. You see my friend had had her
legally adopted by a splendid family, so there's no doubt about
everything being for the best."
"And you"--Maggie drove herself on--"don't you ever want to see her?"
"Of course I do. But at the very beginning I fixed things so I could
not; so that I would not even know where she is. Removed temptation
from myself, you see. Don't you see the possible results if I should
try to see her? Something might happen that would bring out the truth,
and that would ruin her happiness, her career. Don't you see?"
His gray eyes, bright with his great dream, were fixed intently upon
Maggie; and yet she felt that they were gazing far beyond her at some
other girl . . . at his girl.
" I--I--" she gulped and swayed and would have fallen if he had not
been quick to catch her arm.
"You are sick, Miss?" he asked anxiously.
"I--I have been," she stammered, trying to regain control of her
faculties. "It's--it's that--and my not eating--and standing in this
hot sun. Thank you very much for what you've told me. I'd--I'd better
be getting back."
"I'll help you." And very gently, with a firm hand under one arm, he
escorted her to the bench where Larry sat scribbling nothings. He then
raised his hat and returned to his dahlias.
"Well?" queried Larry when they were alone.
"I can't stand it to stay here and talk to these people," she replied
in an agonized whisper. "I must get away from here quick, so that I
"May I come with you?"
"No, Larry--I must be alone. Please, Larry, please get into the house,
and manage to fake a telephone message for me, calling me back to New
York at once."
"All right." And Larry hurried away. She sat, pale, breathing rapidly,
her whole being clenched, staring fixedly out at the Sound. Five
minutes later Larry was back.
"It's all arranged, Maggie. I've told the people; they're sorry you've
got to go. And Dick is getting his car ready."
She turned her eyes upon him. He had never seen in them such a look.
They were feverish, with a dazed, affrighted horror. She clutched his
"You must promise never to tell my father about me!"
"I won't. Unless I have to."
"But you must not! Never!" she cried desperately. "He thinks I'm--Oh,
don't you understand? If he were to learn what I really am, it would
kill him. He must keep his dream. For his sake he must never find out,
he must keep on thinking of me just the same. Now, you understand?"
Larry slowly nodded.
Her next words were dully vibrant with stricken awe. "And it means
that I can never have him for my father! Never! And I think--I'd--I'd
like him for a father! Don't you see?"
Again Larry nodded. In this entirely new phase of her, a white-faced,
stricken, shivering girl, Larry felt a poignant sympathy for her the
like of which had never tingled through him in her conquering moods.
Indeed Maggie's situation was opening out into great human problems
such as neither he nor any one else had ever foreseen!
"There comes Dick," she whispered. "I must do my best to hold myself
together. Good-bye, Larry."
A minute later, Larry just behind her, she was crossing the lawn on
Dick's arm, explaining her weakness and pallor by the sudden dizziness
which had come upon her in consequence of not eating and of being in
the hot sun.
Larry was far more deeply moved this time when Maggie drove away with
Dick than on that former occasion when he had tried to play with
adroitness upon her psychological reactions. Now he knew that her very
world was shaken; that her soul was stunned and reeling; that she was
fighting with all her strength for a brief outward composure.
He had loved her for months, but he had never so loved her as in this
hour when all her artificial defenses had been battered down and she
had been just a bewildered, agonized girl, with just the emotions and
first thoughts that any other normal girl would have had under the
same circumstances. His great desire had been to be with her, to
comfort her, help her; but he realized that she had been correct in
her instinct to be by herself for a while, to try to comprehend it
all, to try to think her way out.
When Maggie was out of sight he excused himself from having tea, left
Hunt and Miss Sherwood upon the veranda, and sought his study. But
though he had neglected his work the whole day, he now gave it no
attention. He sat at his desk and thought of Maggie: tried to think of
what she was going to do. Her situation was so complicated with big
elements which she would have to handle that he could not foretell
just what her course would be. It was a terrific situation for a young
woman, who was after all just a very young girl, to face alone. But
there was nothing for him but to wait for news from her. And she had
not said even that she would ever let him hear.
While he considered these matters he had risen and paced the room.
Once he had paused at a French window which opened upon a side
veranda, and had seen below him a few yards away Joe Ellison, whose
interest in his flowers had established his workday from sunrise to
sunset. Joe Ellison had been pulling tiny weeds that were daring to
attempt to get a start in a rose-garden. Larry's mind had halted a
moment upon Joe. Here at least was a contented man: one who, no matter
what happened, would remain in ignorance of possibly great events
which would intimately concern him. Then Larry had left the window and
had returned to his thoughts of Maggie.
But Larry's thoughts were not to remain exclusively with Maggie for
long. Shortly after six Judkins entered and announced that a man was
at the door with a message. The man had refused to come in, saying he
was only a messenger and was in a hurry; and had refused to give
Judkins the message, saying that it was verbal. Thinking that some
word had come from his grandmother, or possibly even from Maggie,
Larry went out upon the veranda. Waiting for him was a nondescript man
he did not know.
"Mr. Brandon, sir?" asked the man.
"Yes. You have a message for me?"
Before the man could reply, there came a shout from the shrubbery
beyond the drive:
"Grab him, Smith! He's the man!"
Instantly Smith's steely arms were about Larry, pinning his elbows to
his sides, and a man broke from the shrubbery and hurried toward the
house. Instinctively Larry started to struggle, but he ceased as he
recognized the man coming up the steps. It was Gavegan. Larry realized
that he had been shrewdly trapped, that resistance would serve no end,
and the next moment handcuffs were upon his wrists.
"Well, Brainard," gloated Gavegan, "we've landed you at last!"
"So it seems, Gavegan."
"You thought you was damned clever, but I guess you know now you ain't
one, two, three!"
"Oh, I knew how clever you are, Gavegan," Larry responded dryly, "and
that you'd get me sooner or later if I hung around."
As a matter of fact Larry's capture, which was as unspectacular as his
escape had been strenuous, was the consequence of no cleverness at
all. Larry had said to Barney Palmer the night before that he knew who
Barney's sucker was; and Barney had passed this information along to
Chief Barlow. "Follow every clue; luck may be with you and one of the
clues may turn up what you want":--this is in substance an unwritten
rule of routine procedure which effects those magnificent police
solutions which are presented as more mysterious than the original
mystery--for it is well for the public to believe that its police
officers are unfailingly more clever than its criminals. Barlow had
done some routine thinking: if Larry Brainard knew Dick Sherwood was
the sucker, then watching Dick Sherwood might possibly reveal the
whereabouts of Larry Brainard. Barlow had passed this tip along to
Gavegan. Gavegan had grumbled to himself that it was only a thousand
to one shot; but luck had been with him, and his long shot had won.
Miss Sherwood, Hunt behind her, had been drawn by the sound of voices
around to the side of the veranda where stood the four men. "What are
you doing?" she now sharply demanded of Gavegan.
"Don't like to make any unpleasant scene, Miss Sherwood, but I've
gotta tell you that this so-called Brandon is a well-known crook."
Gavegan enjoyed few things more than astounding people with unpleasant
facts. "His real name is Brainard; he's done time, and now he's wanted
by the New York police for a tough job he pulled."
"I knew all that long ago," said Miss Sherwood.
"Eh--what?" stammered Gavegan.
"Mr. Brainard told me all that the first time I saw him."
"Hello, Gavegan," said Hunt, stepping forward.
"Well, I'll be--if you ain't that crazy--" Again the ability to
express himself coherently and with restraint failed Gavegan. "If you
ain't that painter that lived down at the Duchess's!"
"Right, Gavegan--as a detective always should be. And Larry Brainard
was then, and is now, my friend."
Miss Sherwood again spoke up sharply. "Mr. Gavegan--if that is your
name--you will please take those foolish things off Mr. Brainard's
Gavegan had been cheated out of creating a sensation. That
discomfiture perhaps made him even more dogged than he was by nature.
"Sorry, Miss, but he's charged with having committed a crime and is a
fugitive from justice, and I can't."
"I'll be his security. Take them off."
"Sorry to refuse you again, Miss. But he's a dangerous man--got away
once before. My orders is to take no risks that'll give him another
chance for a get-away."
Miss Sherwood turned to Larry. "I'll go into town with you, and so
will Mr. Hunt. I'll see that you get bail and a good lawyer."
"Thank you, Miss Sherwood," Larry said. "Gavegan, I guess we're ready
"Not just yet, Brainard. Sorry, Miss Sherwood, but we've got a search
warrant for your place. We just want to have a look at the room
Brainard used. No telling what kind of crooked stuff he's been up to.
And to make the search warrant O.K. I had it issued in this county and
brought along a county officer to serve it. Show it to the lady,
"I have no desire to see it, Mr. Gavegan. I have more interest in
watching you while you go through my things." And giving Gavegan a
look which made an unaccustomed flush run up that officer's thick neck
and redden his square face, she led the way into Larry's study. "This
is the room where Mr. Brainard works," she said. "Through that door is
his bedroom. Everything here except his clothing is my property. I
shall hold you rigidly responsible for any disorder you may create or
any damage you may do. Now you may go ahead."
"Let's have all your keys, Brainard," Gavegan choked out.
Larry handed them over. With Miss Sherwood, Hunt, and Larry looking
silently on, the two men began their examination. They began with the
papers on Larry's desk and in its drawers; and in all his life Gavegan
had not been so considerate in a search as he now was with Miss
Sherwood's blue eyes coldly upon him. They unlocked cabinets,
scrutinized their contents, shook out books, examined the backs of
pictures, took up rugs; then passed into Larry's bedroom. Miss
Sherwood made no move to follow the officers into that more intimate
apartment, and the other two watchers remained with her.
A minute passed. Then Gavegan reentered, a puzzled, half-triumphant
look on his red face, holding out a square of paint-covered canvas.
"Found this thing in Brainard's chiffonier. What the he--I mean what's
it doing out here?"
There was not an instant's doubt as to what the thing was. Larry
started, and Hunt started, and Miss Sherwood started. But it was Miss
Sherwood who first spoke.
"Why, it's a portrait of Miss Cameron, in costume! And painted by Mr.
Hunt!" In amazement she turned first upon Larry and upon Hunt. "When
did you ever paint her portrait, when you did not meet Miss Cameron
till you met her here? And, Mr. Brainard, how do you come to possess
Miss Cameron's portrait?"
It was Gavegan who spoke up promptly, and not either of the two
suddenly discomfited men. And Gavegan instantly sensed in the
situation a chance to get even for the humiliation his self-esteem had
"Miss Cameron nothing! Her real name is Maggie Carlisle, and she used
to live at a dump of a pawnshop down on the East Side run by
Brainard's grandmother. Brainard knew her there, and so did Mr. Hunt."
"But--but--" gasped Miss Sherwood--"she's been coming out here as
"I tell you your Maggie Cameron is Maggie Carlisle!" said Gavegan
gloatingly. "I've known her for years. Her father is Old Jimmie
Carlisle, a notorious crook. And she's mixed up right now with her
father and some others in a crooked game. And Brainard here used to be
sweet on her, and probably still is, and if he's been letting her come
here, without telling you who she is--well, I guess you know the
answer. Didn't I tell you, Miss, that give me a chance and I'd turn up
something against this guy Brainard!"
Miss Sherwood's face was white, but set with grim accusation that was
only waiting to pronounce swift judgment. "Mr. Hunt, is it true that
Miss Cameron is this Maggie Carlisle the officer mentions, and that
you knew it all the while?"
"Yes--" began the painter.
"Don't blame him, Miss Sherwood," Larry interrupted. "He didn't tell
you because I begged him not to as a favor to me. Blame me for
Her judgment upon Hunt was pronounced with cold finality, her eyes
straight into Hunt's: "Whatever may have been Mr. Hunt's motives, I
unalterably hold him to blame."
She turned upon Larry. The face which he had only seen in gracious
moods was as inflexibly stern as a prosecuting attorney's.
"We're going to go right to the bottom of this, Mr. Brainard. You too
have known all along that this Miss Cameron was really the Maggie
Carlisle this officer speaks of?"
"And you have known all along that she was the daughter of this
notorious criminal, Old Jimmie Carlisle?"
The impulse surged up in Larry to tell the newly learned truth about
Maggie. But he remembered Maggie's injunction that the truth must
never be known. He checked his revelation just in time.
"And is it true that Maggie Carlisle is herself what is known as a
crook?--or has had crooked inclinations or plans?"
"It's like this, Miss Sherwood--"
"A direct answer, please!"
"And is it true, as this officer has suggested, that you were in love
with her yourself?"
"You are aware of my brother's infatuation for her? That he has asked
her to marry him?"
Her voice now sounded more terrible to Larry. "I took you in to give
you a chance. And your repayment has been that, knowing all these
things, you have kept silent and let me and my brother be imposed upon
by a swindling operation. And who knows, since you admit that you love
the girl, that you have not been a partner in the conspiracy from the
"That's exactly the idea, Miss!" put in Gavegan.
Larry had foreseen many possible wrong turns which his plan might
take, but he was appalled by the utter unexpectedness of the actual
disaster. And yet he recognized that the evidence justified Miss
Sherwood's judgment of him. It all made him seem an ingrate and a
For the moment Larry was so overwhelmed that he made no attempt to
speak. And since for once Gavegan was content merely to gloat over his
triumph, there was stiff silence in the room until Miss Sherwood said
in the cold voice of a judge after a jury has brought in a verdict of
"Of course, if you think there is anything you may say for yourself,
Mr. Brainard, you now have the chance to say it."
"I have much to say, but I can't blame you if you refuse to believe
most of it," Larry said desperately, fighting for what seemed his last
chance. "I loved Maggie Carlisle. I believed she had splendid
qualities. Only she was dominated by the twisted ideas Old Jimmie
Carlisle had planted in her. I wanted to eradicate those twisted
ideas, and make her good qualities her ruling ones. But she didn't
believe in me. She thought me a soft-head, a police stool, a squealer.
Then I had to disappear; you know all about that. Not till I had been
with you for several weeks did I learn that she was being used in a
swindling scheme against Dick.
"I did think of telling you or Dick. But my greatest interest was to
awaken that better person I believed to be in her; and I knew that the
certain result of my exposing her to you would be for me to lose the
last bit of influence I had with her, and for her to pass right on to
another enterprise of similar character. So the idea came to me that
if I didn't expose her, but caused her to be received with every
courtesy by her intended victims, the effect upon her would be that
she would feel a revulsion for what she was doing and she would come
to her best senses. I told this to Mr. Hunt; that's why he agreed not
to give her away. And another point, though frankly this was not so
important to me: it seemed to me that a good hard jolt might be just
what was needed to make Dick take life more seriously, and I saw in
this affair a chance for Dick to get just the jolt he needed.
"That's all, Miss Sherwood. Except that I have seen signs which make
me believe that what I figured would happen to Maggie Carlisle have
begun to happen to her."
"Bunk!" snorted Gavegan.
"I know that part of what he says is true," put in Hunt.
Miss Sherwood ignored Hunt and his remark. The look of controlled
wrath which she held upon Larry did not change. Larry recognized that
his statement had sounded most implausible. Miss Sherwood in her
indignation considered only that her kindness had been betrayed, her
hospitality outraged, and that those she had accepted as friends had
sought to trick her family in the worst way she could conceive; and
she spoke accordingly.
"If that is the best Mr. Brainard has to say for himself, Mr. Gavegan,
you may take him with you, and without any interference from me. I ask
only that you take him out of the house at once."
With that she moved from the room, not looking again at either Hunt or
Larry. For a brief space there was silence, while Gavegan let his
triumph feed gloatingly upon the sight of his prisoner.
This brief silence was broken by a low, strange sound, like a human
cry quickly repressed, that seemed to come from just outside the
"What was that?" Larry asked quickly.
"I didn't hear anything," said Gavegan whose senses had been
thoroughly concentrated upon his triumph.
"I did," said Hunt. "On the veranda."
"We'll see. Watch him--" to the county officer; and Gavegan followed
Hunt to the French windows and looked out. "No one on the veranda, and
no one in sight," he reported. "You fellows must have been dreaming."
He returned and faced Larry. "I guess you'll admit, Brainard, that
I've got you for keeps this time."
"Then suppose we be starting for Headquarters." Larry responded.
Hunt moved to Larry's side. "I'll just trail along after you, Larry.
Anyhow, this doesn't seem to be any place for me."
A few minutes afterwards Larry was in a car beside Gavegan, speeding
away from Cedar Crest toward the city. Larry's thoughts were the
gloomiest he had entertained since he had come out of Sing Sing months
before with his great dream. All that he had counted on had gone
wrong. He was in the hands of the police, and he knew how hard the
police would be. He had incurred the hostility of Miss Sherwood and
had lost what had seemed a substantial opportunity to start his career
as an honest man. The only item of his great plan in which he did not
seem to have failed completely was Maggie. And he did not know what
Maggie was going to do.
When Maggie drove away with Dick from Cedar Crest--this was an hour
before Gavegan descended out of the blue upon Larry and two hours
before he rode triumphantly away with his captive--she was the most
dazed and disillusioned young creature who had ever set out
confidently to conquer the world. Courage, confidence, quickness of
wit, all the qualities on which she had prided herself, were now
entirely gone, and she was just a white, limp figure that wanted to
run away: a weak figure in which swirled thoughts almost too
spasmodically powerful for so weakened a vessel not to be shattered
under their wild strain: thoughts of her amazingly discovered real
father--of how she was the very contradiction of her father's dream--
of Larry--of the cunning Jimmie Carlisle whom till this day she had
believed her father--of Barney Palmer.
So agitated was she with these gyrating thoughts that she was not
conscious that Dick had stopped the car on the green roadside until he
had taken her hand and had begun to speak. The happy, garrulous,
unobservant Dick had not noticed anything out of the way with her more
than a pallor which she had explained away as being due to nothing
more than a bit of temporary dizziness. And so for the second time
Dick now poured out his love to her and asked her to marry him.
"Don't, Dick--please!" she interrupted him. "I can't marry you!
"What!" cried the astounded Dick. "Maggie--why not?"
"I can't. That's final. And don't make me talk to you now, Dick--
please! I cannot!"
His face, so fresh and happy the moment before, became gray and lined
with pain. But he silently swung the car back into the road.
She forgot him utterly in what was happening within her. As they rode
on, she forced herself to think of what she should do. She saw herself
as the victim of much, and as guilty of much. And then inspiration
came upon her, or perhaps it was merely a high frenzy of desperation,
and she saw that the responsibility for the whole situation was upon
her alone; she saw it as her duty, the role assigned her, to try to
untangle alone this tangled situation, to try to measure out justice
to every one.
First of all, as she had told Larry, her father's dream of her must
remain unbroken. Whatever she did, she must do nothing that might
possibly be a sharp blow to the conception of his daughter which were
the roots and trunk and flowering branches of his present happiness. .
. . And then came a real inspiration! She would, in time, make herself
into the girl he believed her--make his dream the truth! She would get
rid of Old Jimmie and Barney--would cut loose from everything
pertaining to her former life--would disappear and live for a year or
two in the kind of environment in which he believed he had placed her-
-and would reappear and claim him for her father! And for his own
sake, he should never know the truth. Two years more and he should
have the actuality, where he now had only the dream!
But before she was free to enter upon this plan, before she could
vanish out of the knowledge of all who had known her, there was a
great duty to Larry Brainard which she must discharge. He was hunted
by the police, he was hunted by his former pals. And he was in his
predicament fundamentally because of her. Therefore, it was her
foremost duty to clear Larry Brainard.
Yes, she would do that first! Somehow! . . .
She was considering this problem of how she was to clear Larry, who
had tried to awaken her, who had shielded her, who loved her, when
Dick slowed his car down in front of the Grantham and helped her out.
As he said a subdued good-bye and was stepping back into his car, an
impulse surged up into her--an impulse of this different Maggie whose
birth was being attended by such bewildering emotions and decisions.
"Dick, won't you please come up for just a little while?"
Three minutes later they were in her sitting-room. Cap in hand Dick
awaited her words in the misery of silence. Her look was drawn, but
"Back in the road, Dick, you asked me why I couldn't marry you. I
asked you up here to tell you."
"Yes?" he queried dully.
"One reason is that, though I like you, I don't like you that way. The
more important reason to you is that I am a fraud."
"A fraud!" he exclaimed incredulously.
It had come to her, as she was leaving the car, that the place to
start her new life was to start right, or quit right, with Dick. "A
fraud," she repeated--"an impostor. There is no Maggie Cameron. I am
born of no good family from the West. I have no money. I have always
lived in New York--most of the time down on the East Side. I used to
work in a Fifth Avenue millinery shop. Till three months ago I sold
cigarettes in one of the big hotels."
"What of that!" cried Dick.
"That is the nicest part of what I have to tell you," she continued
relentlessly. "My supposed relatives, Jimmie Carlisle and Barney
Palmer, are no relatives at all, but are two clever confidence men. I
have been in with them, working on a scheme they have framed.
Everything I have seemed to be, everything I have done, even this
expensive apartment, have all been parts of that scheme. The idea of
that scheme was to swindle some rich man out of a lot of money--
through my playing on his susceptibilities."
"Maggie!" he gasped.
"More concretely, the idea was to trick some rich man into falling in
love with me, to get him to propose, then to have me confess that I
was already married, but to a man who would give me a divorce if he
were paid enough. The rich man would then drive a bargain with my
supposed husband, pay over a lot of money--after which Barney, Old
Jimmie, and I would disappear with our profits."
"Maggie!" he repeated, stupefied with his incredulous amazement. But
the unflinching gaze she held upon him convinced him she was speaking
the truth. "Then, if that was your game, why are you telling me now?
Why didn't you say 'yes' when I proposed a week ago? I would have
fallen for the game; you would have succeeded."
Not till that moment did Maggie realize the full truth; not till then
did she realize the solid influence Larry Brainard had been in the
background of her life all these months.
"I didn't go through with it because of Larry Brainard."
"Larry Brainard!" His astonishment increased. "You know Larry
"I've known him for several years."
"And you've been coming out, and he's been pretending not to know you!
Of course I knew what Larry Brainard has been. But is he in this,
"No. He's exactly what you think him. From the start he's been trying
to keep me out of this. He was behind my coming to your house; he's
told me so. His reason for getting me there was his belief that my
being treated by you and your sister as I was would make me ashamed of
myself and make me want to quit what I was doing. And I think--I think
he was right--partly."
"And Larry--he's the reason you're telling me now?"
"I think so. But there are other reasons." Making a clean breast of
things though she was, she felt she dared not trust Dick with the
secret of her father. "I--I wanted to clear things up as far as I was
responsible. That's one reason I'm telling you. There was the chance
you might sometime find out that Larry had known me and suspect him; I
wanted you to know the truth of what he'd really done. And I wanted to
tell you the truth about myself, so you'd despise and forget me,
instead of perhaps carrying around romantic delusions about me after
I've gone. And there's another reason. I'd like to tell you--for
you've been everything that's fine to me--if it won't offend you."
"Go on," he said huskily.
"Barney Palmer picked you out as the victim--you didn't know you were
being picked out--because he said that you were an easy mark. That you
took things for exactly what they pretended to be, and didn't care
what you did with your money. That you never would settle down into a
responsible person. I'm telling you all this, Dick, because I don't
want you to be what Barney said."
Dick slumped into a chair, at last beaten down by this cumulative
revelation. He buried his face in his hands and his panting breath was
convulsive with unuttered sobs. Maggie looked down upon the young boy,
with pity, remorse, and an increasing recognition of the wide-spread
suffering she had wrought.
"To think that this has all been horrible make-believe!" he at last
groaned. "That all the while I've been looked on as just a young fool
who would always remain a fool!"
Maggie, in her sense of guilt, was helpless to make any reply that
would soften his agony; and for a space neither spoke.
Presently Dick stood suddenly up. His face was still marked by
suffering, but somehow it seemed to have grown older without losing
its youth. There was a new blaze of determination in the direct look
he held on Maggie.
"You say you have never loved me?" he demanded.
She shook her head. "But I've told you that I've always liked you."
"Larry Brainard's doing what he has kept on doing for you--that means
that he loves you, doesn't it?" he pressed on.
"He has told me so."
"And you love him?"
"What difference does that make?--since I am going away as soon as I
get everything I'm wholly or partly responsible for cleared up."
"If Larry Brainard has known you for a long while, then how about
Barney Palmer and Jimmie Carlisle?"
"They've known me as long, or longer."
"Then you must have all known each other?"
"Yes. Years ago Larry worked with Barney and Jimmie Carlisle."
"What was the attitude of those two toward Larry, when he was trying
to balk them by making you give up the plan?"
"They hated him. They are the cause--especially Barney--of all of
Larry's trouble with the police and with the old crowd he's quit. To
try to clear Larry, that's the most important thing I'm going to try
"And that's where you've got to let me help you!" Dick cried with
sudden energy. "Larry's been a mighty good friend to me--he's tried to
head me right--and I owe him a lot. And I'd like a chance to show that
Barney Palmer I'm not going to keep on being the eternal fool he sized
me up to be!"
Maggie was startled by this swift transformation. "Why--why, Dick!"
"What's your plan to clear Larry?"
"I hadn't got so far as to have a clear plan. I had only just realized
that there had to be a plan. But since they have set the police on
Larry, it came to me that the idea behind any plan would be for the
police to really capture Barney and Jimmie Carlisle--get them out of
"That's it!" Dick Sherwood had a mind which, given an interesting
stimulus, could work swiftly; and it worked swiftly now. "They were
planning to trim me. Let's use that plan you outlined to me--use it
to-night. You can tell them some story which will make immediate
action seem necessary and we'll all get together this evening. I'll
play my part all right--don't you worry about me! I'll come with a
roll of money that I'll dig up somewhere, and it'll be marked money.
When it's passed--bingo!--a couple of detectives that we'll have
planted to watch the proceedings will step right up and nab the two!"
She was taken aback by the very idea of him, the victim, after her
confession, throwing his lot in with her. "Why, Dick"--she stammered--
"to think of you offering to do such a thing!"
"I owe that much to Larry Brainard," he declared. "And--and I owe that
much to your desire to help set him straight. Well, what about my
Since he seemed eager to lend himself to it, it seemed to her
altogether wonderful, and she told him so. They discussed details for
several minutes, for there was much to be done and it had all to be
done most adroitly. It was agreed that he should come at ten o'clock,
when the stage would all be set.
As he was leaving to attend to his part of the play, a precautionary
idea flashed upon Maggie.
"Better telephone me just before you come. Something may have happened
to change our plans."
"All right--I'll telephone. Just keep your nerve."
With that he hurried out. At about the time he left, Larry was leaving
Cedar Crest in handcuffs beside the burly and triumphant Gavegan, and
believing that the power he had sought to exercise was now effectually
at an end. He was out of it. In his despondency it was not granted him
to see that the greatest thing which he could do was already done;
that he had set in motion all the machinery of what had taken place
and what was about to take place; that all the figures in the action
of the further drama of that night were to act as they were to do
primarily because of promptings which came from him.
Dick's departure left Maggie to think alone upon an intricate and
possibly dangerous interplay of characters in which she had cast
herself for the chief role, which might prove a sacrificial role for
her. She quickly perceived that Dick's plan, clever as it might be,
would bring about, in the dubious event of its success, only one of
the several happenings which had to come to pass if she were to clear
her slate before her disappearance.
Dick's plan was good; but it would only get rid of Barney and Old
Jimmie. It would only rid Larry of such danger as they represented; it
would only be revenge upon them for the evil they had done. And, after
all, revenge helped a man forward but very little. There would still
remain, even in the event of the success of Dick's plan, the constant
danger to Larry from the police hunt, instigated by Chief Barlow's
vindictive determination to send Larry back to prison for his refusal
to be a stool-pigeon; and the constant danger from his one-time
friends who were hunting him down with deadly hatred as a squealer.
Somehow, if she were to set things right for Larry, she had to
maneuver that night's happenings in such a way as to eliminate forever
Barlow's persecutions, and eliminate forever the danger to Larry from
his friends' and their hirelings' desire for vengeance upon a supposed
Maggie thought rapidly, elaborating on Dick's plan. But what Maggie
did was not so much the result of sober thought as of the inspiration
of a desperate, hardly pressed young woman; but then, after all, what
we call inspiration is only thought geared to an incredibly high
speed. First of all, she got rid of that slow-witted, awesome
supernumerary, Miss Grierson, who might completely upset the delicate
action of the stage by a dignified entrance at the wrong moment and
with the wrong cue. Next she called up Chief Barlow at Police
Headquarters. Fortunately for her Barlow was still in; for an
acrimonious dispute, then in progress and taking much space in the
public prints, between him and the District Attorney's office was
keeping him late at his desk despite the most autocratic and pleasant
of all demands, those of his dinner hour. To him Maggie gave a false
name, and told him that she had most important information to
communicate at once; to which he growled back that she could give it
if she came down at once.
Next she called up Barney, who had been waiting near a telephone in
expectation of news of the result of her second visit to the home of
Dick Sherwood. To Barney she said that she had the greatest possible
news--news which would require immediate action--and that he should be
at her suite at nine o'clock prepared to play his part at once in the
big proposition that had just developed, and that he should get word
to Old Jimmie to follow him in a few minutes.
Within fifteen minutes a taxicab had whirled her down to Police
Headquarters and she was in the office where three months earlier
Larry had been grilled after his refusal of the license to steal and
cheat on the condition that he become a police stool. Barlow, who was
alone in the room, looked up with a scowl from a secret report he had
secured of the activities of detectives in the District Attorney's
office. Although Maggie was pretty and stylishly dressed, Barlow did
not rise nor did he remove the big cigar he had been viciously
gnawing. It is the tradition of the Police Department, the most
thoroughly respected article of its religion, that a woman who is seen
in Police Headquarters cannot by any possibility be a lady.
"Well, what's on your chest?" he grunted, not even asking her to be
It was suddenly Maggie's impulse--sprung perhaps out of unconscious
memory of what Larry had suffered--to inflict upon herself the
uttermost humiliation. So she said:
"I've come here to offer myself as a stool-pigeon."
"What's that?" Barlow exclaimed, startled. It was not often that a
swell lady--who of course couldn't be a swell (he did not know who
Maggie was)--voluntarily walked into his office with such a
"I can give you some real information about a big game that's being
worked up. In fact, I can arrange for you to be present when the game
is pulled off, and you can make the arrests."
"Who are the people?" he asked brusquely.
Maggie knew it would be fatal to mention Barney or Old Jimmie, if that
story about Barlow's protection contained any truth. Again
inspiration, or incredibly swift thinking, came to her aid, and with
sure touch she twanged one of Barlow's rawest and most responsive
"Larry Brainard is behind it all. He's been doing a lot of things on
the quiet these last few months. Here is where you can get his whole
Maggie did not yet know what had befallen Larry, and Gavegan had
neglected to telephone his Chief of the arrest. Even had Gavegan done
so, the large and vague manner in which Maggie had stated the
situation would have stirred Barlow's curiosity.
"All right. I'll put a couple of my good men on the case. Where shall
I send 'em?"
"A couple of your good men won't do. I want only one of your good men-
-and that man is yourself."
"Me!" growled Barlow. "What kind of floor-walker d'you think I am? I'm
"Too busy to take personal charge, and get personal credit, for one of
the biggest cases that ever went through this office?"
Maggie had sought only to excite his vanity. But unknowingly she had
also appealed to something else in him: his very deep concern in the
hostile activities of the District Attorney's office. If this girl
told the truth, then here might be his chance to display such devotion
to duty as to turn up some such sensational case as would make this
investigation from the District Attorney's office seem to the public
an unholy persecution and make the chagrined District Attorney, who
was very sensitive to public opinion, think it wiser to drop the whole
"How do I know you're not trying to string me?--or get me out of the
way of something bigger?--or hand me the double-cross?"
"I shall be there all the time, and if you don't like the way the
thing develops you can arrest me. I suppose you've got some kind of
law, with a stiff punishment attached, about conspiracy against an
"Well--give me all the dope, and tell me where I'm to come," he
"I've told you all I am going to tell. All the important 'dope' you'll
get first-hand by being present when the thing happens. The place to
come is the Hotel Grantham--room eleven-forty-two--at eight-thirty
To this Barlow grudgingly agreed. He might have exulted inwardly, but
he would have shown no outer graciousness if a committee of citizens
had handed him a reward of a million dollars and an engrossed
testimonial to his unprecedented services. Barlow did not know how to
thank any one.
Five minutes after she left Headquarters Maggie was in the back room
of the Duchess's pawnshop, which her rapid planning had fixed upon as
the next station at which she should stop. She did not waste a moment
in coming to the point with the Duchess.
"Red Hannigan is really the most important of Larry's old friends who
are out to get him, isn't he? " she asked.
"Yes--in a way. I mean among those who honestly think Larry has turned
stool and squealer. He trusted Larry more than any one else--and now
he hates Larry more than any one else. Rather natural, since he was
two months in the Tombs before he could get bail--because he thinks
Larry squealed on him."
"How's he stand with his crowd?"
"No one higher. They'd all take his word for anything."
"Can you find him at once?" Maggie pursued breathlessly.
That was a trifling question to ask the Duchess; since all the news of
her shadowy world came to her ears in some swift obscure manner.
"Yes. If it is necessary."
"It's terribly necessary! If I can't get him, the whole thing may
"What thing?" demanded the Duchess.
"It might all sound impossibly foolish!" cried the excited, desperate
Maggie. "You might tell me so--and discourage me--and I simply must go