Part 5 out of 9
"He?" Jimmie Dale was lighting his cigarette now.
"A boy, sir," Benson amplified. "I couldn't get anything out of
him. He just said he'd been told to give it to me, and tell me to
see that you got it at once. I hope, sir, I haven't--"
"Not at all, Benson," said Jimmie Dale pleasantly. "It's quite all
right. Good-night, Benson."
"Good-night, sir," Benson answered, climbing back to his seat.
There was a queer little smile on Jimmie Dale's lips, as he watched
the great car swing around in the street and glide noiselessly away--
a queer little smile that still held there even after he himself
had started briskly along the avenue in a downtown direction. It
was invariably the same, always the same--the letters came
unexpectedly, when least looked for, now by this means, now by that,
but always in a manner that precluded the slightest possibility of
tracing them to their source. Was there anything, in his intimate
surroundings, in his intimate life, that she did not know about him--
who knew absolutely nothing about her! Benson, for instance--that
the man was absolutely trustworthy--or else she would never for an
instant have risked the letter in his possession. Was there
anything that she did not--yes, one thing--she did not know him in
the role he was going to play to-night. That at least was one thing
that surely she did not know about him; the role in which, many
times, for weeks on end, he had devoted himself body and soul in an
attempt to solve the mystery with which she surrounded herself; the
role, too, that often enough had been a bulwark of safety to him
when hard pressed by the police; the role out of which he had so
carefully, so painstakingly created a now recognised and well-known
character of the underworld--the role of Larry the Bat.
Jimmie Dale turned from Fifth Avenue into Broadway, continued on
down Broadway, across to the Bowery, kept along the Bowery for
several more blocka--and finally headed east into the dimly lighted
cross street on which the Sanctuary was located.
And now Jimmie Dale became cautious in his movements. As he
approached the black alleyway that flanked the miserable tenement,
he glanced sharply behind and about him; and, at the alleyway
itself, without pause, but with a curious lightning-like side step,
no longer Jimmie Dale now, but the Gray Seal, he disappeared from
the street, and was lost in the deep shadows of the building.
In a moment he was at the side door, listening for any sound from
within--none had ever seen or met the lodger or the first floor
either ascending or descending, except in the familiar character of
Larry the Bat. He opened the door, closed it behind him, and in the
utter blackness went noiselessly up the stairs--stairs so rickety
that it seemed a mouse's tread alone would have set them creaking.
There seemed an art in the play of Jimmie Dale's every muscle; in
the movements, lithe, balanced, quick, absolutely silent. On the
first landing he stopped before another door, there was the faint
click of a key turning in the lock; and then this door, too, closed
behind him. Sounded the faint click of the key as it turned again,
and Jimmie Dale drew a long breath, stepped across the room to
assure himself that the window blind was down, and lighted the gas
A yellow, murky flame spurted up, pitifully weak, almost as though
it were ashamed of its disreputable surroundings. Dirt, disorder,
squalour, the evidence of low living testified eloquently enough to
any one, the police, for instance, in times past inquisitive until
they were fatuously content with the belief that they knew the
occupant for what he was, that the place was quite in keeping with
its tenant, a mute prototype, as it were, of Larry the Bat, the dope
For a little space, Jimmie Dale, immaculate in his evening clothes,
stood in the centre of the miserable room, his dark eyes, keen,
alert, critical, sweeping comprehensively over every object about
him--the position of a chair, of a cracked drinking glass on the
broken-legged table, of an old coat thrown with apparent
carelessness on the floor at the foot of the bed, of a broken bottle
that had innocently strewn some sort of white powder close to the
threshold, inviting unwary foot tracks across the floor. And then,
taking out the Tocsin's letter, he laid it upon the table, placed
what money he had in his pockets beside it, and began rapidly to
remove his clothes. The Sanctuary had not been invaded since his
last visit there.
He turned back the oilcloth in the far corner of the room, took up
the piece of loose flooring, which, however, strangely enough,
fitted so closely as to give no sign of its existence even should it
inadvertently, by some curious visitor again be trod upon; and from
the aperture beneath lifted out a bundle of clothes and a small box.
Undressed now, he carefully folded the clothes he had taken off,
laid them under the flooring, and began to dress again, his wardrobe
supplied by the bundle he had taken out in exchange--an old pair of
shoes, the laces broken; mismated socks; patched trousers, frayed at
the bottoms; a soiled shirt, collarless, open at the neck. Attired
to his satisfaction, he placed the box upon the table, propped up a
cracked mirror, sat down in front of it, and, with a deft, artist's
touch, began to apply stain to his hands, wrists, neck, throat, and
face--but the hardness, the grim menace that now grew into the
dominant characteristic of his features was not due to the stain
"Dear Philanthropic Crook"--his eyes were on the Tocsin's letter
that lay before him. He read on--for once, even to Jimmie Dale's
keen, facile mind, a first reading had failed to convey the full
significance of what she had written. It was too amazing, almost
beyond belief--the series of crimes, rampant for the past few weeks,
at which the community had stood aghast, the brutal murder of
Roessle but a few hours old, lay bare before his eyes. It was all
there, all of it, the details, the hellish cleverness, the personnel
even of the thugs, all, everything--except the proof.
"Get him, Jimmie--the man higher up. Get him, Jimmie--before
another pays forfeit with his life"--the words seemed to leap out at
him from the white page in red, dancing lines--"Get him--Jimmie--the
man higher up."
Jimmie Dale finished the second reading of the letter, read it again
for the third time, then tore it into tiny fragments. His fingers
delved into the box again, and the transformation of Jimmie Dale,
member of New York's most exclusive social set, into a low, vicious-
featured denizen of the underworld went on--a little wax applied
skilfully behind the ears, in the nostrils and under the upper lip.
It was all there--all except the proof. And the proof--he laughed
aloud suddenly, unpleasantly. There seemed something sardonic in
it; ay, more than that, all that was grim in irony. The proof, in
Stangeist's own writing, sworn to before witnesses in the presence
of a notary, the text of the document, of course, unknown to both
witnesses and notary, evidence, absolute and final, that would be
admitted in any court, for Stangeist was a lawyer, and would see to
that, was in Stangeist's own safe, for Stangeist's own protection--
Stangeist, who was himself the head and brains of this murder gang--
Stangeist, who was the man higher up!
It was amazing, without parallel in the history of crime--and yet
ingenious, clever, full of the craft and cunning that had built up
the shyster lawyer's reputation below the dead line.
Jimmie Dale's lips were curiously thin now. So it was Stangeist! A
Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a vengeance! He knew Stangeist--not
personally; not by the reputation Stangeist held, low even as that
was, among his brother members of the profession; but as the man was
known for what he really was among the crooks and criminals of the
underworld, where, in that strange underground exchange, whispered
confidences passed between those whose common enemy was the law,
where Larry the Bat himself was trusted in the innermost circles.
Stangeist was a power in the Bad Lands. There were few among that
unholy community that Stangeist, at one time or another, in one way
or another, had not rescued from the clutches of the law, resorting
to any trick or cunning, but with perjury, that he could handle like
the master of it that he was, employed as the most common weapon of
defence for his clients--provided he were paid well enough for it.
The man had become more than the attorney for the crime world--he
had become part of it. Cunning, shrewd, crafty, conscienceless,
cold-blooded--that was Stangeist.
The form and features of the man pictured themselves in Jimmie
Dale's mind--the six-foot muscular frame, that was invariably
clothed in attire of the most fashionable cut; the thin lips with
their oily, plausible smile, the straight black hair that straggled
into pin point, little black eyes, the dark face with its high cheek
bones, which, with the pronounced aquiline nose and the persistent
rumour that he was a quarter caste, had led the underworld,
prejudiced always in favour of a "monaker," to dub the man the
Jimmie Dale laughed again--still unpleasantly. So Stangeist had
taken the plunge at last and branched out into a wider field, had
he? Well, there was nothing surprising in that--except that he had
not done it before! The irony of it lay in the fact that at last he
had been TOO clever, overstepped himself in his own cleverness, that
was all. It was Australian Ike, The Mope, and Clarie Deane that
Stangeist had gathered around him, the Tocsin had said--and there
were none worse in Larry the Bat's wide range of acquaintanceship
than those three. Stangeist had made himself master of Australian
Ike, The Mope, and Clarie Deane--and he had driven them a little too
hard on the division of the spoils--and laughed at them, and cracked
the whip much after the fashion that the trainer in the cage handles
the growling beasts around him.
A dozen of the crimes that had appalled and staggered New York they
had committed under his leadership; and then, it seemed, they had
quarrelled furiously, the three pitted against Stangeist,
threatening him, demanding a more equitable share of the proceeds.
None was better aware than Stangeist that threats from men of their
calibre were likely to result in a grim aftermath--and Stangeist,
yesterday, the Tocsin said, had answered them as no other man than
Stangeist would either have thought of or have dared to do. One by
one, at separate times, covering the other with a revolver,
Stangeist had permitted them to read a document that was addressed
to the district attorney. It was a confession, complete in every
detail, of every crime the four together had committed, implicating
Stangeist as fully and unreservedly as it did the other three. It
required no commentary! If anything happened to Stangeist, a stab
in the dark, for instance, a bullet from some dark alleyway, a
blackjack deftly wielded, as only Australian Ike, The Mope or Clarie
Deane knew how to wield it--the document automatically became a
DEATH SENTENCE for Australian Ike, The Mope, and Clarie Deane!
It was very simple--and, evidently, it had been effective, as
witness the renewal of their operations in the murder of Roessle
that afternoon. Fear and avarice had both probably played their
part; fear of the man who would with such consummate nerve fling his
life into the balance to turn the tables upon them, while he jeered
at them; avarice that prompted them to get what they could out of
Stangeist's brains and leadership, and to be satisfied with what
they COULD get--since they could get no more!
Satisfied? Jimmie Dale shook his head. No; that was hardly the
word--cowed, perhaps, for the moment, would be better. But
afterward, with a document like that in existence, when they would
never be safe for an instant--well, beasts in the cages had been
known to get the better of the man with the whip, and beasts were
gentle things compared with Australian Ike, The Mope, and Clarie
Deane! Some day they would reverse the tables on the Indian Chief--
if they could. And if they couldn't it would not be for the lack of
There would be another act in that drama of the House Divided before
the curtain fell! And there would be a sort of grim, poetic justice
in it, a temptation almost to let the play work itself out to its
own inevitable conclusion, only--Jimmie Dale, the final touches
given to his features, stood up, and his hands clenched suddenly,
fiercely--it was not just the man higher up alone, there were the
other three as well, the whole four of them, all of them, crimes
without number at their door, brutal, fiendish acts, damnable
outrages, murder to answer for, with which the public now was
beginning to connect the name of the Gray Seal! The Gray Seal!
Jimmie Dale's hands, whose delicate fingers were artfully grimed and
blackened now beneath the nails, clenched still tighter--and then,
with a quick shrug of his shoulders, a thinning of the firmly
compressed lips, he picked up the coat from where it lay upon the
floor, put it on, put the money that was on the table in his pocket,
and replaced the box under the flooring.
In quick succession, from the same hiding place, an automatic, a
black silk mask, an electric flashlight, that thin metal box like a
cigarette case, and a half dozen vicious-looking little blued-steel
burglar's tools were stowed away in his pockets, the flooring
carefully replaced, the oilcloth spread back again; and then,
pulling a slouch hat well down over his eyes, he reached up to turn
off the gas.
For an instant his hand held there, while his eyes, sweeping around
the apartment, took in every single detail about him in that same
alert, comprehensive way as when he had entered--then the room was
in darkness, and the Gray Seal, as Larry the Bat, a shuffling,
unkempt creature of the underworld, alias Jimmie Dale, the lionised
of clubs, the matrimonial target of exclusive drawing-rooms, closed
the door of the Sanctuary behind him, shuffled down the stairs,
shuffled out into the lane, and shuffled along the street toward the
A policeman on the corner accosted him familiarly.
"Hello, Larry!" grinned the officer.
"'Ello!" returned Jimmie Dale affably through the side of his mouth.
"Fine night, ain't it?"--and shuffled on along the street.
And now Jimmie Dale began to hurry--still with that shuffling tread,
but covering the ground nevertheless with amazing celerity. He had
lost no time since receiving the Tocsin's letter, it was true, but,
for all that, it was now after ten o'clock. Stangeist's house was
"dark" that evening, she had said, meaning that the occupants,
Stangeist as well as whatever servants there might be, for Stangeist
had no family, were out--the servants in town for a theatre or
picture show probably--and Stangeist himself as yet not back,
presumably from that Roessle affair. The stub of an old cigar,
unlighted, shifted with a sudden, savage twist of the lips from one
side of Jimmie Dale's mouth to the other. There was need for haste.
There was no telling when Stangeist might get back--as for the
servants, that did not matter so much; servants in suburban homes
had a marked affinity for "last trains!"
Jimmie Dale boarded a cross-town car, effected a transfer, and in a
quarter of an hour after leaving the Sanctuary was huddled, an
inoffensive heap, like a tired-out workingman, in a corner seat of a
Long Island train. From here, there was only a short run ahead of
him, and, twenty minutes later, descending from the train at Forest
Hills, he had passed through the more thickly settled portion of the
little place, and was walking briskly out along the country road.
Stangeist's house lay, approximately, a mile and a half from the
station, quite by itself, and set well back from the road. Jimmie
Dale could have found it with his eyes blindfolded--the Tocsin's
directions had lacked none of their usual explicit minuteness. The
road was quite deserted. Jimmie Dale met no one. Even in the
houses that he passed the lights were in nearly every instance
Something, merciless in its rage, swept suddenly over Jimmie Dale,
as, unbidden, of its own volition, the last paragraph he had read in
that evening's paper began to repeat itself over and over again in
his mind. The two little kiddies--it seemed as though he could see
them standing there--and from Jimmie Dale's lips, not given to
profanity, there came a bitter oath. It might possibly be that,
even if he were successful in what was before him to-night, the
authors of the Roessle murder would never be known. That confession
of Stangeist's was written prior to what had happened that
afternoon, and there would be no mention, naturally, of Roessle.
And, for a moment, that seemed to Jimmie Dale the one thing
paramount to all others, the one thing that was vital; then he shook
his head, and laughed out shortly. After all, it did not matter--
whether Stangeist and the blood wolves he had gathered around him
paid the penalty specifically for one particular crime or for
another could make little difference--they would PAY, just as
surely, just as certainly, once that paper was in his possession!
Jimmie Dale was counting the houses as he passed--they were more
infrequent now, farther apart. Stangeist was no fool--not the fool
that he would appear to be for keeping a document like that, once he
had had the temerity to execute it, in his own safe; for, in a day
or two, the Tocsin had hinted at this, after holding it over the
heads of Australian Ike, The Mope, and Clarie Deane again to drive
the force of it a little deeper home, he would undoubtedly destroy
it--and the SUPPOSITION that it was still in existence would have
equally the same effect on the minds of the other three! Stangeist
was certainly alive to the peril that he ran with such a thing in
his possession, only the peril had not appealed to him as imminent
either from the three thugs with whom he had allied himself, or,
much less, from any one else, that was all.
Jimmie Dale halted by a low, ornamental stone fence, some three feet
high, and stood there for a moment, glancing about him. This was
Stangeist's house--he could just make out the building as it loomed
up a shadowy, irregular shape, perhaps two hundred yards back from
the fence. The house was quite dark, not a light showed in any
window. Jimmie Dale sat down casually on the fence, looked
carefully again up and down the road--then, swinging his legs over,
quick now in every action, he dropped to the other side, and stole
silently across the grass to the rear of the house.
Here he stopped again, reached up to a window that was about on a
level with his shoulders, and tested its fastenings. The window--it
was the window of Stangeist's private sanctum, according to the plan
in her letter--was securely locked. Jimmie Dale's hands went into
his pocket--and the black silk mask was slipped over his face. He
listened intently--then a little steel instrument began to gnaw like
A minute passed--two of them. Again Jimmie Dale listened. There
was not a sound save the night sounds--the light breeze whispering
through the branches of the trees; the far-off rumble of a train;
the whir of insects; the hoarse croaking of a frog from some near-by
creek or pond. The window sash was raised an inch, another, and
gradually to the top. Like a shadow, Jimmie Dale pulled himself up
to the sill, and, poised there, his hand parted the heavy portieres
that hung within. It was too dark to distinguish even a single
object in the room. He lowered himself to the floor, and slipped
cautiously between the portieres.
From somewhere in the house, a clock began to strike. Jimmie Dale
counted the strokes. Eleven o'clock. It was getting late--TOO
late! Stangeist was likely to be back at any moment. The
flashlight, in Jimmie Dale's hand now, circled the room with its
little round white ray, lingering an instant in a queer, inquisitive
sort of way here and there on this object and that--and went out.
Jimmie Dale nodded--the flat desk in the centre of the floor, the
safe in the corner by the rear wall, the position of everything in
the room, even to the chairs, was photographed on his mind.
He stepped from the portieres to the safe, and the flashlight played
again--this time reflecting back from the glistening nickelled
knobs. Jimmie Dale's lips tightened. It was a small safe, almost
ludicrously small; but to such height as the art of safe design had
been carried, that design was embodied in the one before him.
"Type K-four-two-eight-Colby," muttered Jimmie Dale. "A nasty
little beggar--and it's eleven o'clock now! I'd use 'soup' for
once, if it weren't that it would put Stangeist wise, and give him a
chance to make his get-away before the district attorney got the
nippers on the four of them."
The light went out. Jimmie Dale dropped to his knees; and, while
his left hand passed swiftly, tentatively over dials and handle, he
rubbed the fingers of his right hand rapidly to and fro over the
carpet. Wonderful finger tips were those of Jimmie Dale, sensitive
to an abnormal degree; and now, tingling with the friction, the
nerves throbbing at the skin surface, they closed in a light,
delicate touch upon the knob of the dial--and Jimmie Dale's ear
pressed close against the face of the safe.
Time passed. The silence grew heavy--seemed to palpitate through
the room. Then a deep breath, half like a sigh, half like a
fluttering sob as of a strong man taxed to the uttermost of his
endurance, came from Jimmie Dale, and his left hand swept away the
sweat beads that had spurted to his forehead.
"Eight--thirteen--twenty-two," whispered Jimmie Dale.
There was a click, a low metallic thud as the bolts slid back, and
the door swung open.
And now the flashlight again, searching the mechanism of the inner
door--then darkness once more.
Five minutes, ten minutes went by. The clock struck again--and the
single stroke seemed to boom out through the house in a weird,
raucous, threatening note, and seemed to linger, throbbing in the
The inner door was open--the flashlight's ray was flooding a nest of
pigeonholes and little drawers. The pigeonholes were crammed with
papers, as, presumably, too, were the drawers. Jimmie Dale sucked
in his breath. He had already been there well over half an hour--
every minute now, every second was counting against him, and to
search that mass of papers before Stangeist returned was--
"Ah!"--it came in a fierce little ejaculation from Jimmie Dale.
From the centre pigeonhole, almost the first paper he had touched,
he drew a long, sealed envelope and at a single swift glance had
read the inscription upon it, written in longhand:
TO THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY,
NEW YORK CITY.
The words in the corners were underscored three times.
Swiftly, deftly, Jimmie Dale's hands rolled the rounded end of one
of his collection of the legal instruments under the flap of the
envelope, turned the sheets over and drew out the folded document
inside. There were eight sheets of legal foolscap, neatly fastened
together at the top left-hand corner with green tape. He opened
them out, read a few words here and there, and turned the pages
hurriedly over to scrutinise the last one--and nodded grimly. Three
witnesses had testified to the signature of Stangeist, and a
notary's seal, accompanied by the usual legal formula, was duly
Jimmie Dale slipped the document into his pocket, and, with the
envelope in his hand, moved to the desk. He opened first one drawer
and then another, and finally discovering a pile of blank foolscap,
took out four sheets, folded them, and placed them in the envelope,
sealing the flap of the latter again. That it did not seal very
well now brought a quizzical twitch to Jimmie Dale's lips. Sealed
or unsealed, perhaps, it made little difference; but, for all that,
he was not through with it yet. Apart from bringing the four to
justice, there was, after all, a chance to vindicate the Gray Seal
in this matter at least, and repudiate the newspaper theory which
the public, to whom the Gray Seal was already a monster of iniquity,
would seize upon with avidity.
There was no further need of light now. Jimmie Dale replaced the
flashlight in his pocket, took out the thin, metal case, opened it,
and with the tiny pair of tweezers that likewise nestled there,
lifted out one of the gray, diamond-shaped paper seals. There was
no question but that, once under arrest, Stangeist's effects would
be immediately and thoroughly searched by the authorities! Jimmie
Dale's smile from quizzical became ironic. It would afford the
police another little, bewildering reminder of the Gray Seal, and
give Carruthers, good old Carruthers of the MORNING NEWS-ARGUS, so
innocently ignorant that the Gray Seal was his old college pal, yet
the one editor of them all who was not forever barking and yelping
at the Gray Seal's heels, a chance to vindicate himself a little,
too! Jimmie Dale moistened the adhesive side of the gray seal, and,
still mindful of tell-tale finger prints, laid it with the tweezers
on the flap of the envelope, and pressed it firmly into place with
And then, suddenly, every faculty instantly on the alert, he
snatched up the envelope from the desk, and listened. Was it
imagination, a trick of nerves, or--no, there it was again!--a
footfall on the gravel walk at the front of the house. The sound
became louder, clearer--two footfalls instead of one. It was
Stangeist, and somebody was with him.
In an instant Jimmie Dale was across the room and kneeling again
before the safe. His fingers were flying now. The envelope shot
back into the pigeonhole from which he had taken it--the inner door
of the safe closed silently and swiftly.
A dry chuckle came from Jimmie Dale's lips. It was just like
fiction, just precisely time enough to have accomplished what he had
come for before he was interrupted, not a second more or less, the
villain foiled at the psychological moment! The key was rattling in
the front door now--they were in the hall--he could hear Stangeist's
voice--there came a dull glow from the hallway, following the click
of an electric-light switch. The outer door of the safe swung shut,
the bolts slid into place, the dial whirled under Jimmie Dale's
fingers. It was only a step to the portieres, the open window--and
escape. He straightened up, stepped back, the portieres closed
behind him--and the chuckle died on Jimmie Dale's lips.
He was trapped--caught without so much as a corner in which to turn!
Stangeist was even then coming into the room--and OUTSIDE, darkly
outlined, two forms stood just beneath the window. Instinctively,
quick as a flash, Jimmie Dale crouched below the sill. Who were
they? What did it mean? Questions swept in swift sequence through
his brain. Had they seen him? It would be very dark against the
background of the portieres, but yet if they were watching--he drew
a breath of relief. He had not been seen. Their voices reached him
in low, guarded whispers.
"Say, youse, Ike, pipe it! Dere's a window open in the snitch's
room. Come on, we'll get in dere. It'll make the hair stand up on
the back of his neck fer a starter."
"Aw, ferget it! " replied another voice. "Can the tee-ayter stunt!
Clarie leaves the front door unfastened, don't he? An' dey'll be in
dere in a minute now. Wotcher want ter do? Crab the game? He
might hear us an' fix Clarie before we had a chanst, the skinny old
fox! An' dere's the light now--see! Beat it on yer toes fer the
front of the house!"
The room was flooded with light. Through the portieres, that Jimmie
Dale parted by the barest fraction of an inch, he could see
Stangeist and another man, a thick-set, ugly-faced-looking customer--
Clarie Deane, according to that brief, whispered colloquy that he
had heard outside. He looked again through the window. The two
dark forms had disappeared now, but they had disappeared just a few
seconds too late--with the two other men now in the room, and one of
them so close that Jimmie Dale could almost have reached out and
touched him, it was impossible to get through the window without
being detected, when the slightest sound would attract instant
attention and equally instant suspicion. It was a chance to be
taken only as a last resort.
Jimmie Dale's face grew hard, as his fingers closed around his
automatic and drew the weapon from his pocket. It was all plain
enough. That last act in the drama which he had speculatively
anticipated was being staged with little loss of time--and in a grim
sort of way the thought flashed across his mind that, perilous as
his own position was, Stangeist at that moment was in even greater
peril than himself. Australian Ike, The Mope, and Clarie Deane,
given the chance, and they seemed to have made that chance now, were
not likely to deal in half measures--Clarie Deane had dropped into a
chair beside the desk; and The Mope and Australian Ike were creeping
around to the front door!
The parting in the portieres widened a little more, a very little
more, slowly, imperceptibly, until Jimmie Dale, by the simple
expedient of moving his head, could obtain an unobstructed view of
the entire room.
Stangeist tossed a bag he had been carrying on the desk, pulled up a
chair opposite to Clarie Deane, and sat down. Both men were side
face to Jimmie Dale.
"You tell the boys," said Stangeist abruptly, "to fade away after
this for a while. Things are getting too hot. And you tell The
Mope I dock him five hundred for that extra crunch on Roessle's
skull. That sort of thing isn't necessary. That's the kind of
stunt that gets the public sore--the man was dead enough as it was.
"Sure!" Clarie Deane's ejaculation was a grunt.
Stangeist opened the bag, and dumped the contents on the desk--pile
after pile of banknotes, the pay roll of the Martindale-Kensington
"Some haul!" observed Clarie Deane, with a hoarse chuckle. "The
papers said over twenty thousand."
"You can't always believe what the papers say," returned Stangeist
curtly; and, taking a scribbling pad from the desk, began to check
up the packages.
Clarie Deane's cigar had gone out. He rolled the short stub in his
mouth, and leaned forward.
The bills were evidently just as they had been delivered to the
murdered paymaster at the bank, done up with little narrow paper
bands in packages of one hundred notes each, save for a small bundle
of loose bills which latter, with the rolls of silver, Stangeist
swept to one side of the desk.
Package by package, Stangeist went on jotting the amounts down on
"Nix!" growled Clarie Deane suddenly. "Cut that out! Them's fivers
in that wad. Make that five hundred instead of one--I'm onter yer!"
"Mistake," said Stangeist suavely, changing the figures with his
pencil. "You're pretty wide awake for this time of night, aren't
"Oh, I dunno!" responded Clarie Deane gruffly. "Not so very!"
Stangeist, finished with the packages, picked up the loose bills,
and, with a short laugh, tossed them into the bag and followed them
with the rolls of silver. He pushed the bag toward Clarie Deane.
"That's a little extra for you," he said. "The trouble with you
fellows is that you don't know when you're well off--but the sooner
you find it out the better, unless you want another lesson like
yesterday." He made the addition on the pad. "Fifteen thousand,
eight hundred dollars," he announced softly. "That's seven
thousand, nine hundred for the three of you to divide, less five
hundred from The Mope."
Clarie Deane's eyes narrowed. His hands were on his knees, hidden
by the desk.
"There's more'n twenty there," he said sullenly--and drew a match
across the under edge of the desk with a long, crackling noise.
Stangeist's face lost its suavity, a snarl curled his lips; but,
about to reply, he sprang suddenly to his feet instead, his head
turned sharply toward the door.
"What's that!" he said hoarsely. "It's not the servants, they
wouldn't dare to--"
Stangeist's words ended in a gulp. He was staring into the muzzle
of a heavy-calibered revolver that Clarie Deane had jerked up from
under the desk.
"You sit down, or I'll blow your block off!" said Clarie Deane, with
a sudden leer.
It happened then almost before Jimmie Dale could grasp the details;
before even Clarie Deane himself could interfere. The door burst
open, two men rushed in--and one, with a bound, flung himself at
Stangeist. The man's hand, grasping a clubbed revolver, rose in the
air, descended on Stangeist's head--and Stangeist went down in a
limp heap, crashed into the chair, and slid from the chair with a
thud to the floor.
There was an oath from Clarie Deane. He jumped from his seat, and
with a violent shove sent the man reeling half across the room.
"Blast you, Mope!" he snarled. "You're too blamed fly! D'ye
wanter queer the whole biz?"
"Aw, wot's the matter wid youse!" The Mope, purple-faced with rage,
little black eyes glittering, mouth working under a flattened nose
that some previous encounter had broken and bent over the side of
his face, advanced belligerently.
Australian Ike, who had entered the room with him, pulled him back.
"Ferget it!" he flung out. "Clarie's dealin' the deck. Ferget it!"
The Mope glared from one to the other; then shook his fist at
Stangeist on the floor.
"Youse two make me sick!" he sneered. "Wot's the use of waitin' all
night? We was to bump him off, anyway, wasn't we? Dat's wot youse
said yerselves, 'cause wot was ter stop him writin' out another
paper if we didn't fix him fer keeps?"
"That's all right," rejoined Clarie Deane; "but that's the second
act, you bonehead, see! We ain't got the paper yet, have we? Say,
take a look at that safe! It's easier ter scare him inter openin'
it than ter crack it, ain't it?"
Jimmie Dale, from his crouched position, began to rise to his feet
slowly, making but the slightest movement at a time, cautious of the
least sound. His lips were like a thin line, his fingers tightly
pressed over the automatic in his hand. There was not room for him
between the portieres and the window; and, do what he could, the
hangings bulged a little. Let one of the three notice that, or
inadvertently brush against the portieres, and his life would not be
worth an instant's purchase.
They were lifting Stangeist up now, propping him up in the chair.
Stangeist moaned, opened his eyes, stared in a dazed way at the
three faces that leered into his, then dawning intelligence came,
and his face, that had been white before, took on a pasty, grayish
"You--the three of you!" he mumbled. "What's this mean?"
And then Clarie Deane laughed in a low, brutal way.
"Wot d'ye think it means? We want that paper, an' we want it damn
quick--see! D'ye think we was goin' ter stand fer havin' a trip ter
Sing Sing an' the wire chair danglin' over our heads!"
Stangeist closed his eyes. When he opened them again, something of
the old-time craftiness was in his face.
"Well, what are you going to do about it?" he inquired, almost
sharply. "You know what will happen to you, if anything happens to
"Don't youse kid yerself!" retorted Clarie Deane. "D'ye think we're
fools? This ain't like it was yesterday--see! We GETS the paper
this time--so there won't nothin' happen to us. You come across
with it blasted quick now, or The Mope'll give you another on the
bean that'll put you to sleep fer keeps!"
The blood was running down Stangeist's face. He wiped it away from
"It's not here," he said innocently. "It's in my box in the safety-
"Aw," blurted out Australian Ike, pushing suddenly forward, "youse
can't work dat crawl on--"
"Cut it out, Ike!" snapped Clarie Dane. "I'm runnin' this! So it's
in the vaults, eh?" He shoved his face toward Stangeist's.
"Yes," said Stangeist easily. "You see--I was looking for something
Clarie Deane's fist clenched.
"You lie!" he choked. "The Mope, here, was the last of us you
showed the paper to yesterday afernoon, an' the vaults was closed
then--an' you ain't been there to-day, 'cause you've been watched.
That's why we fixed it fer to-night after the divvy that you've just
tried ter do us on again, 'cause we knew you had it here."
"I tell you, it's not here," said Stangeist evenly.
"You lie!" said Clarie Deane again. "It's in that safe. The Mope
heard you tell the girl in yer office that if anything happened to you
she was ter wise up the district attorney that there was a paper in
your safe at home fer him that was important. Now then, you beat it
over ter that safe, an' open it up--we'll give you a minute ter do
"The paper's not there, I tell you," said Stangeist once more.
"That's all right," submitted Clarle Deane grimly. "There's a
quarter of that minute gone."
"I won't!" Stangeist flashed out violently.
"That's all right," repeated Clarie Deane. "There's half of that
Jimmie Dale's eyes, in a fascinated sort of way, were on Stangeist.
The man's face was twitching now, moisture began to ooze from his
forehead, as the callous brutality of the scowling faces seemed to
get him--and then he lurched suddenly forward in his chair.
"My God!" he cried out, a ring of terror in his voice "What do you
mean to do? You'll pay for it! They'll get you! The servants will
be back in a minute."
"Two skirts!" jeered Clarie Deane. We ain't goin' ter run away from
them. If they comes before we goes, we'll fix 'em. That minute's
Stangeist licked his lips with his tongue.
"Suppose--suppose I refuse?" he said hoarsely.
"You can suit yerself," said Clarie Deane, with a vicious grin. "We
know the paper's there, an' we gets it before we leaves here--see?
You can take yer choice. Either you goes over ter the safe an'
opens it yerself, or else"--he paused and produced a small bottle
from his pocket--"this is nitro-glycerin', an' we opens it fer you
with this. Only if we does the job we does it proper. We ties you
up and sets you against the door of the safe before we touches off
the 'soup,' an' mabbe if yer a good guesser you can guess the rest."
There was a short, raucous guffaw from The Mope.
Stangeist turned a drawn face toward the man, stared at him, and
stared in a miserable way at the other two in turn. He licked his
lips again--none was in a better position than himself to know that
there would be neither scruples nor hesitancy to interfere with
carrying out the threat.
"Suppose," he said, trying to keep his voice steady, "suppose I open
the safe--what then--afterward?"
"We ain't got the safe open yet," countered Clarie Deane
uncompromisingly. "An' we ain't got no more time ter fool over it,
either. You get a move on before I counts five, or The Mope an' Ike
ties you up! One--"
Stangeist staggered to his feet, wiped the blood out of his eyes for
the second time, and, with lips working, went unsteadily across the
room to the safe.
He knelt before it, and began to manipulate the dial; while the
others crowded around behind him. The Mope was fingering his
revolver again club fashion. Australian Ike's elbow just grazed the
portieres, and Jimmie Dale flattened himself against the window,
holding his breath--a smile on his lips that was mirthless, deadly,
cold. The end was not far off now; and then--WHAT?
Stangeist had the outer door of the safe open now--and now the inner
door swung back. He reached in his hand to the pigeonhole, drew out
the envelope--and with a sudden, wild cry, reeled to his feet.
"My God!" he screamed out. "What's--what's this!"
Clarie Deane snatched the envelope from him.
"THE GRAY SEAL!"--the words came with a jerk from his lips. He
ripped the envelope open frantically--and like a man stunned gazed
at the four blank sheets, while the colour left his face. "IT'S
GONE!" he cried out hoarsely.
"Gone!" There was a burst of oaths from Australian Ike. "Gone!
Den we're nipped--de lot of us!"
The Mope's face was like a maniac's as he whirled on Stangeist.
"Sure!" he croaked. "But youse gets yers first, youse--"
With a cry, Stangeist, to elude the blow, ducked blindly backward--
into the portieres--and with a rip and tear the hangings were
It came instantaneously--a yell of mingled surprise and fury from
the three--the crash and spit of Jimmie Dale's revolver as he fired
one shot at the floor to stop their rush--then he flung himself at
the window, through it, and dropped sprawling to the ground.
A stream of flame cut the darkness above him, a bullet whistled by
his head--another--and another. He was on his feet, quick as a cat,
and running close alongside of the wall of the house. He heard a
thud behind him, still another, and yet a third--they were dropping
through the window after him. Came another shot, an angry hum of
the bullet closer than before--then the pound of racing feet.
Jimmie Dale swung around the corner of the house, running at top
speed. Something that was like a hot iron suddenly burned and
seared along the side of his head just above the ear. He reeled,
staggered, recovered himself, and dashed on. It nauseated him, that
stinging in his head, and all at once seemed to be draining his
strength away. The shouts, the shots, the running feet became like
a curious buzzing in his ears. It seemed strange that they should
have hit him, that he should be wounded! If he could only reach the
low stone wall by the road, he could at least make a fight for his
life on the other side!
Red streaks swam before Jimmie Dale's eyes. The wall was such a
long way off--a yard or two was a very long way more to go--the
weakness seemed to be creeping up now even to numb his brain. No,
here was the wall--they hadn't hit him again--he laughed in a
demented way--and rolled his body over, and fell to the other side.
The cry seemed to reach some inner consciousness, revive him, send
the blood whipping through his veins. That voice! It was her--
HERS! The Tocsin! There was an automobile, engine racing, standing
there in the road. He won to his feet--dark, rushing forms were
almost at the wall. He fired--once--twice--fired again--and turned,
staggering for the car.
Panting, gasping, he half fell into the tonneau. The car leaped
forward, yells filled the air--but only one thing was dominant in
Jimmie Dale's reeling brain now. He pulled himself up to his feet,
and leaned over the back of the seat, reaching for the slim figure
that was bent over the wheel.
"It's you--you at last!" he cried. "Your face--let me lee your
A bullet split the back panel of the car--little spurting flames
were dancing out from the roadway behind,
"Are you mad!" she shouted back at him. "Let me steer--do you want
them to hit me!"
"No-o," said Jimmie Dale, in a queer singsong sort of way, and his
head seemed to spin dizzily around. "No--I guess--" He choked.
"The paper--it's in--my pocket"--and he went down unconscious on the
floor of the car.
When he recovered his senses he was lying on a couch in a plainly
furnished room, and a man, a stranger, red, jovial-faced, farmerish
looking, was bending over him.
"Where am I?" he demanded finally, propping himself up on his elbow.
"You're all right," replied the man. "She said you'd come around in
a little while."
"Who said so?" inquired Jimmie Dale.
"She did. The woman who brought you here about five minutes ago.
She said she ran you down with her car."
"Oh!" said Jimmie Dale. He felt his head--it was bandaged, and
it was bandaged, he was quite sure, with a piece of torn underskirt.
He looked at the man again. "You haven't told me yet where I am."
"Long Island," the other answered. "My name's Hanson. I keep a bit
of a truck garden here."
"Oh," said Jimmie Dale again.
The man crossed the room, picked up an envelope from the table, and
came back to Jimmie Dale.
"She said to give you this as soon as you got your senses, and asked
us to put you up for a while, as long as you wanted to stay, and
paid us for it, too. She's all right, she is. You don't want to
hold the accident up against her, she was mighty sorry about it.
And now I'll go and see if the old lady's got your room ready while
you're readin' your letter."
The man left the room.
Jimmie Dale sat up on the couch, and tore the envelope open. The
note, scrawled in pencil, began abruptly:
You were quite a problem. I couldn't take you HOME--could I? I
couldn't take you to what you call the Sanctuary could I? I
couldn't take you to a hospital, nor call in a doctor--the stain you
use wouldn't stand it. But, thank God! I know it's only a flesh
wound, and you are all right where you are for the day or two that
you must keep quiet and take care of yourself. By the time you read
this the paper will be on the way to the proper hands, and by
morning the four where they should be. There were a few articles in
your clothes I thought it better to take charge of in case--well, in
case of ACCIDENT."
Jimmie Dale tore the note up, and smiled wryly at the door. He felt
in his pockets. Mask, revolver, burglar's tools, and the thin metal
insignia case were gone.
"And I had the sublime optimism," murmured Jimmie Dale, "to spend
months trying to find her as Larry the Bat!"
TWO CROOKS AND A KNAVE
The bullet wound along the side of his head and just above his ear
would have been a very awkward thing indeed, in more ways than one,
for Jimmie Dale, the millionaire, to have explained at his club, in
his social set, or even to his servants, and of these latter to
Jason the Solicitous in particular; but for Jimmie Dale as Larry the
Bat it was a matter of little moment. There was none to question
Larry the Bat, save in a most casual and indifferent way; and a
bandage of any description, primarily and above all one that he
could arrange himself, with only himself to take note of the
incongruous hues of skin where the stain, the grease paint, and the
make-up was washed off, would excite little attention in that world
where daily affrays were common-place happenings, and a wound, for
whatever reason, had long since lost the tang of novelty. Why then
should it arouse even a passing interest if Larry the Bat, credited
as the most confirmed of dope fiends, should have fallen down the
dark, rickety stairs of the tenement in one of his orgies, and, in
the expressive language of the Bad Lands, cracked his bean!
And so Jimmie Dale had been forced to maintain the role of Larry the
Bat for a far longer period than he had anticipated when, ten days
before, he had assumed it for the night's work that had so nearly
resulted fatally for himself, though it had placed Roessle's
murderers behind the bars. For, the next day, unwilling to court
the risk of remaining in that neighbourhood, he had left Hanson's,
the farmer's, house on Long Island where the Tocsin had carried him
in an unconscious state, telephoned Jason that he had been
unexpectedly called out of town for a few days, and returned to the
Sanctuary in New York. And here, to his grim dismay, he had found
the underworld in a state of furious, angry unrest, like a nest of
hornets, stirred up, seeking to wreak vengeance on an unseen
For years, as the Gray Seal, Jimmie Dale had lived with the slogan
of the police, "The Gray Seal dead or alive--but the Gray Seal!"
sounding in his ears; with the newspapers screaming their diatribes,
arousing the people against him, nagging the authorities into
sleepless, frenzied efforts to trap him; with a price upon his head
that was large enough to make a man, not too pretentious, rich for
life--but in the underworld, until then, the name of the Gray Seal
had been one to conjure with, for the underworld had sworn by the
unknown master criminal, and had spoken his name with a reverence
that was none the less genuine even if pungently tainted with
unholiness. But now it was different. Up and down through the Bad
Lands, in gambling hells, in vicious resorts, in the hiding places
where thugs and crooks burrowed themselves away from the daylight,
through the heart and the outskirts of the underworld travelled the
fiat, whispered out of mouths crooked to one side--DEATH TO THE GRAY
Gangland differences were forgotten in the larger issue of the
common weal. The gang spirit became the spirit of a united whole,
and the crime fraternity buzzed and hummed poisonously, spurred on
by hatred, thirst for revenge, fear, and, perhaps most potent of
all, a hideous suspicion now of each other.
The underworld had received a shock at which it stood aghast, and
which, with its terrifying possibilities, struck consternation into
the soul of every individual of that brotherhood whose bond was
crime, who was already "wanted" for some offence or other, whether
it ranged from murder in the first degree to some petty piece of
sneak thievery. Stangeist, the Indian chief, the lawyer whose
cunning brain had stood as a rampart between the underworld and a
prison cell, was himself now in the Tombs with the certainty of the
electric chair before him; and with him, the same fate equally
assured, were Australian Ike, The Mope, and Clarie Deane!
Aristocrats of the Bad Lands, peers of that inglorious realm were
those four--and the blow had fallen with stunning force, a blow that
in itself would have been enough to have stirred the underworld to
its depths. But that was not all--from the cells in the Tombs, from
the four came the word, and passed from mouth to mouth in that
strange underground exchange until all had heard it, that the Gray
Seal had "SQUEALED." The Gray Seal who, though unknown, they had
counted the most eminent among themselves, had squealed! Who was
the Gray Seal? It he had held the secrets of Stangeist and his
band, what else might he not know? Who else might not fall next?
The Gray Seal had become a snitch, a menace, a source of danger that
stalked among them like a ghastly spectre. Who was the Gray Seal?
"Death to the Gray Seal! Run him to earth!" went the whisper from
lip to lip; and with the whisper men stared uncertainly into each
other's faces, fearful that the one to whom they spoke might even
be--the Gray Seal!
Jimmie Dale's lips twisted queerly as he looked around him at the
squalid appointments of the Sanctuary. The police were bad enough,
the papers were worse; but this was a still graver peril. With
every denizen of the underworld below the dead line suspicious of
each other, their lives, the penitentiary, or a prison sentence the
stakes against which each one played, the role of Larry the Bat,
clever as was the make-up and disguise, was fraught now more than
ever before with danger and peril. It seemed as though slowly the
net was beginning at last to tighten around him.
The murky, yellow flame of the gas jet flickered suddenly, as though
in acquiescence with the quick, impulsive shrug of Jimmie Dale's
shoulders--and Jimmie Dale, bending to peer into the cracked mirror
that was propped up on the broken-legged table, knotted his dress
tie almost fastidiously. The hair, if just a trifle too long,
covered the scar on his head now, the wound no longer required a
bandage, and Larry the Bat, for the time being at least, had
disappeared. Across the foot of the bed, neatly folded, lay his
dress coat and overcoat, but little creased for all that they had
lain in that hiding-place under the flooring since the night when,
hurrying from the club, he had placed them there to assume instead
the tatters of Larry the Bat. It was Jimmie Dale in his own person
again who stood there now in Larry the Bat's disreputable den, an
incongruous figure enough against the background of his miserable
surroundings, in perfect-fitting shoes and trousers, the broad
expanse of spotless white shirt bosom glistening even in the
poverty-stricken flare from the single, sputtering gas jet.
Jimmie Dale took the watch from his pocket that had not been wound
for many days, wound it mechanically, set it by guesswork--it was
not far from eight o'clock--and replaced it in his pocket.
Carefully then, one at a time, he examined his fingers, long, slim,
sensitive, tapering fingers, magical masters of safes and locks and
vaults of the most intricate and modern mechanism--no single trace
of grime remained, they were metamorphosed hands from the filthy
paws of Larry the Bat. He nodded in satisfaction; and picked up the
mirror for a final inspection of himself, that, this time, did not
miss a single line in his face or neck. Again Jimmie Dale nodded.
As though he had vanished into thin air, as though he had never
existed, not a trace of Larry the Bat remained--except the heap of
rags upon the floor, the battered slouch hat, the frayed trousers,
the patched boots with their broken laces, the mismated socks, the
grimy flannel shirt, and the old coat that he had just discarded.
The mirror was replaced on the table; and, pushing the heap of
clothes before him with his foot, Jimmie Dale knelt down in the
corner of the room where the oilcloth had been turned up and the
loose planking of the floor removed, and began to pack the articles
away in the hole. Jimmie Dale rolled the trousers of Larry the Bat
into a compact little bundle, and stuffed them under the flooring.
The gas jet seemed to blink again in a sort of confidential
approval, as though the secret lay inviolate between itself and
Jimmie Dale. Through the closed window, shade tightly drawn, came,
low and muffled, the sound of distant life from the Bowery, a few
blocks away. The gas jet, suffering from air somewhere within the
pipes, hissed angrily, the yellow flame died to a little blue,
forked spurt--and Jimmie Dale was on his feet, his face suddenly
hard and white as marble.
SOME ONE WAS KNOCKING AT THE DOOR!
For the fraction of a second Jimmie Dale stood motionless. Found as
Jimmie Dale in the den of Larry the Bat, and the consequences
required no effort of the imagination to picture them; police or
denizen of the underworld who was knocking there, it was all the
same, the method of death would be a little different, that was all--
one legalised, the other not. Jimmie Dale, Larry the Bat, the Gray
Seal, once uncovered, could expect as much quarter as would be given
to a cornered rat. His eyes swept the room with a swift, critical
glance--evidences of Larry the Bat, the clothes, were still about,
even if he in the person of Jimmie Dale, alone damning enough, were
not standing there himself. And he was even weaponless--the Tocsin
had taken the revolver from his pocket, together with those other
telltale articles, the mask, the flashlight, the little blued-steel
tools, before she had intrusted him that night, wounded and
unconscious, to Hanson's care.
Jimmie Dale slipped his feet out of his low evening pumps, snatched
up the old coat and hat from the pile, put them on, and, without a
sound, reached the gas jet and turned it off. A second had gone by--
no more--the knocking still sounded insistently on the door. It
was dark now, perfectly black. He started across the room, his
tread absolutely silent as the trained muscles, relaxing, threw the
body weight gradually upon one foot before the next step was taken.
It was like a shadow, a little blacker in outline than the
surrounding blackness, stealing across the floor.
Halfway to the door he paused. The knocking had ceased. He
listened intently. It was not repeated. Instead, his ear caught a
guarded step retreating outside in the hall. Jimmie Dale drew a
breath of relief. He went on again to the door, still listening.
Was it a trap--that step outside?
At the door now, tense, alert, he lowered his ear to the keyhole.
There came the faintest creak from the stairs. Jimmie Dale's brows
gathered. It was strange! The knocking had not lasted long.
Whoever it was was going away--but it required the utmost caution to
descend those stairs, rickety and tumble-down as they were, with no
more sound than that! Why such caution? Why not a more determined
and prolonged effort at his door--the visitor had been easily
satisfied that Larry the Bat was not within. TOO easily satisfied!
Jimmie Dale turned the key noiselessly in the lock. He opened the
door cautiously--half inch--an inch, there was no sound of footsteps
now. Occasionally a lodger moved about on the floor above;
occasionally from somewhere in the tenement came the murmur of
voices as from behind closed door--that was all. All else was
silence and darkness now.
The door, on its well-oiled hinges, swung wide open. Jimmie Dale
thrust out his head into the hall--and something fell upon the
threshold with a little thud--but for a moment Jimmie Dale did not
move. Listening, trying to pierce the darkness, he was as still as
the silence around him; then he stooped and groped along the
threshold. His hand closed upon what seemed like a small box
wrapped in paper. He picked it up, closed and locked the door
again, and retreated back across the room. It was strange--
unpleasantly strange--a box propped stealthily against the door so
that it would fall to the threshold when the door was opened! And
why the stealth? What did it mean? Had the underworld with its
thousand eyes and ears already succeeded in a few days where the
police had failed signally for years--had they sent him this,
whatever it was, as some grim token that they had run Larry the Bat
to earth? He shook his head. No; gangland struck more swiftly,
with less finesse than that--the "cat-and-mouse" act was never one
it favoured, for the mouse had been known to get away.
Jimmie Dale lighted the gas again, and turned the package over in
his hands. It was, as he had surmised, a small cardboard box; and
it was wrapped in plain paper and tied with a string. He untied the
string, and still suspicious, as a man is suspicious in the
knowledge that he is stalked by peril at every turn, removed the
wrapper a little gingerly. It was still without sign or marking
upon it, just an ordinary cardboard box. He lifted off the cover,
and, with a short, sudden laugh, stared, a little out of
countenance, at the contents.
On the top lay a white, unaddressed envelope. HERS! Beneath--he
emptied the box on the table--his black silk mask, his automatic
revolver, the kit of fine, small blued-steel burglar's tools, his
pocket flashlight, and the thin metal insignia case. The Tocsin!
Impulsively Jimmie Dale turned toward the door--and stopped. His
shoulders lifted in a shrug that, meant to be philosophical, was far
from philosophical. He could not, dared not venture far through the
tenement dressed as he was; and even if he could there were three
exits to the Sanctuary, a fact that now for the first time was not
wholly a source of unmixed satisfaction to him; and besides--she was
Jimmie Dale opened the letter, a grim smile playing on his lips. He
had forgotten for the moment that the illusion he had cherished for
years in the belief that she did not know Larry the Bat as an alias
of Jimmie Dale was no more than--an illusion. Well, it had been a
piece of consummate egotism on his part, that was all. But, after
all, what did it matter? He had had his innings, tried in the role
of Larry the Bat to solve her identity, devoted weeks on end to the
attempt--and failed. Some day, perhaps, his turn would come; some
day, perhaps, she would no longer be able to elude him, unless--the
letter crackled suddenly in his fingers--unless the house that they
had built on such strange and perilous foundations crashed at some
moment, without an instant's warning, in disaster and ruin to the
ground. Who knew but that this letter now, another call to the Gray
Seal to act, another peril invited, would be the LAST? There must
be an end some day; luck and nerve had their limitations--it had
almost ended last week!
"Dear Philanthropic Crook"--it was the same inevitable beginning.
"You are well enough again, aren't you, Jimmie?--I am sending these
little things back to you, for you will need them to-night."--Jimmie
Dale read on, muttering snatches of the letter aloud: "Michael Breen
prospecting in Alaska--map of location of rich mining claim--
Hamvert, his former partner, had previously fleeced him of fifteen
thousand dollars--his share of a deal together--Breen was always a
very poor man--Breen later struck a claim alone; but, taking sick,
came back home--died on arrival in New York after giving map to his
wife--wife in very needy circumstances--lives with little daughter
of seven in New Rochelle--works out by the day at Henry Mittel's
house on the Sound near-by--wife intrusted map for safe-keeping and
advice to Mittel--Hamvert after map--telephone wires cut--room one
hundred and forty-eight, corner, right, first floor, Palais-
Metropole Hotel, unoccupied--connecting doors--quarter past nine
to-night--the Weasel--Mittel's house later--the police--look out for
both the Weasel and the police, Jimmie--"
There was more, several pages of it, explanations, specific details
down to a minute description of the locality and plan of the house
on the Sound. Jimmie Dale, too intent now to mutter, read on
silently. At the end he shuffled the sheets a little abstractedly,
as his face hardened. Then his fingers began to tear the letter
into little shreds, tearing it over and over again, tearing the
shreds into tiny particles. He had not been far wrong. From what
the night promised now, this might well be the last letter. Who
knew? There would be need of all the wit and luck and nerve
to-night that the Gray Seal had ever had before.
With a jerk, Jimmie Dale roused himself from the momentary reverie
into which he had fallen; and, all action now, stuffed the torn
pieces of the letter into his trousers pocket to be disposed of
later in the street; took off the old coat and slouch hat again, and
resumed the disposal of Larry the Bat's effects under the flooring.
This accomplished, he replaced the planking and oilcloth, stood up,
put on his dress coat and light overcoat, and, from the table,
stowed the black silk mask, the automatic, the little kit of tools,
the flashlight, and the thin metal case away in his pockets.
Jimmie Dale raised his hand to the gas fixture, circled the room
with a glance that missed no single detail--then the light went out,
the door closed behind him, locked, a dark shadow crept silently
down the stairs, out through the side door into the alleyway, along
the alleyway close to the wall of the tenement where it was
blackest, and, satisfied that for the moment there were no passers-
by, emerged on the street, walking leisurely toward the Bowery.
Once well away from the Sanctuary, however, Jimmie Dale quickened
his steps; and twenty minutes later, having stopped but once to
telephone to his home on Riverside Drive for his touring car, he was
briskly mounting the steps of the St. James Club on Fifth Avenue.
Another twenty minutes after that, and he had dismissed Benson, his
chauffeur, and, at the wheel of his big, powerful machine, was
speeding uptown for the Palais-Metropole Hotel.
It was twelve minutes after nine when he drew up at the curb in
front of the side entrance of the hotel--his watch, set by
guesswork, had been a little slow, and he had corrected it at the
club. He was replacing the watch in his pocket as he sauntered
around the corner, and passed in through the main entrance to the
Jimmie Dale avoided the elevators--it was only one flight up, and
elevator boys on occasions had been known to be observant. At the
top of the first landing, a long, wide, heavily carpeted corridor
was before him. "Number one hundred and forty-eight, the corner
room on the right," the Tocsin had said. Jimmie Dale walked
nonchalantly along--past No. 148. At the lower end of the hall a
group of people were gathered around the elevator doors; halfway
down the corridor a bell boy came out of a room and went ahead of
And then Jimmie Dale stopped suddenly, and began to retrace his
steps. The group had entered the elevator, the bell boy had
disappeared around the farther end of the hall into the wing of the
hotel--the corridor was empty. In a moment he was standing before
the door of No. 148; in another, under the persuasion of a little
steel instrument, deftly manipulated by Jimmie Dale's slim, tapering
fingers, the lock clicked back, the door opened, and he stepped
inside, closing and locking the door again behind him.
It was already a quarter past nine, but no one was as yet in the
connecting room--the fanlight next door had been dark as he passed.
His flashlight swept about him, located the connecting door--and
went out. He moved to the door, tried it, and found it locked.
Again the little steel instrument came into play, released the lock,
and Jimmie Dale opened the door. Again the flashlight winked. The
door opened into a bathroom that, obviously, at will, was either
common to the two rooms or could, by the simple expedient of locking
one door or the other, be used by one of the rooms alone. In the
present instance, the occupant of the adjoining apartment had taken
"a room with a bath."
Jimmie Dale passed through the bathroom to the opposite door. This
was already three-quarters open, and swung outward into the bedroom,
near the lower end of the room by the window. Through the crack of
the door by the hinges, Jimmie Dale flashed his light, testing the
radius of vision, pushed the door a few inches wider open, tested it
again with the flashlight--and retreated back into No. 148, closing
the door on his side until it was just ajar.
He stood there then silently waiting. It was Hamvert's room next
door, and Hamvert and the Weasel were already late. A step sounded
outside in the corridor. Jimmie Dale straightened intently. The
step passed on down the hallway and died away. A false alarm!
Jimmie Dale smiled whimsically. It was a strange adventure this
that confronted him, quite the strangest in a way that the Tocsin
had ever planned--and the night lay before him full of peril in its
extraordinary complications. To win the hand he must block Hamvert
and the Weasel without allowing them an inkling that his
interference was anything more than, say, the luck of a hotel sneak
thief at most. The Weasel was a dangerous man, one of the slickest
second-story workers in the country, with safe cracking as one of
his favourite pursuits, a man most earnestly desired by the police,
provided the latter could catch him "with the goods." As for
Hamvert, he did not know Hamvert, who was a stranger in New York,
except that Hamvert had fleeced a man named Michael Breen out of his
share in a claim they had had together when Breen had first gone to
Alaska to try his luck, and now, having discovered that Breen, when
prospecting alone somewhere in the interior a month or so ago, had
found a rich vein and had made a map or diagram of its location, he,
Hamvert, had followed the other to New York for the purpose of
getting it by hook or crook. Breen's "find" had been too late;
taken sick, he had never worked his claim, had barely got back home
before he died, and only in time to hand his wife the strange legacy
of a roughly scrawled little piece of paper, and--Jimmie Dale
straightened up alertly once more. Steps again--and this time
coming from the direction of the elevator; then voices; then the
opening of the door of the next room; then a voice, distinctly
"Pull up a chair, and we'll get down to business. You're late, as
it is. We haven't any time to waste, if we're going to wash pay-
"Aw, dat's all right!" responded another voice--quite evidently the
Weasel's. "Don't youse worry--de game's cinched to a fadeaway."
There was the sound of chairs being moved across the floor. Jimmie
Dale slipped the black silk mask over his face, opened the door on
his side of the bathroom cautiously, and, without a sound, stepped
into the bathroom that was lighted now, of course, by the light
streaming in through the partially opened door of Hamvert's room.
The two were talking earnestly now in lower tones. Jimmie Dale only
caught a word here and there--his faculties for the moment were
concentrated on traversing the bathroom silently. He reached the
farther door, crouched there, peered through the crack--and the old
whimsical smile flickered across his lips again.
The Palais-Metropole was high class and exclusive, and the Weasel
for once looked quite the gentleman, and, for all his sharp, ferret
face, not entirely out of keeping with his surroundings--else he
would never have got farther than the lobby. The other was a short,
thickset, heavy-jowled man, with a great shock of sandy hair, and
small black eyes that looked furtively out from overhanging, bushy
"Well," Hamvert was saying, "the details are your concern. What I
want is results. We won't waste time. You're to be back here by
daylight--only see that there's no come-back."
"Leave it to me!" returned the Weasel, with assurance. "How's dere
goin' ter be any come-back? Mittel keeps it in his safe, don't he?
Well, gentlemen's houses has been robbed before--an' dis job'll be a
good one. De geographfy stunt youse wants gets pinched wid de rest,
dat's all. It disappears--see? Who's ter know youse gets yer claws
on it? It's just lost in de shuffle."
"Right!" agreed Hamvert briskly--and from his inside pocket produced
a package of crisp new bills, yellow-backs, and evidently of large
denominations. "Half down and half on delivery--that's our deal."
"Dat's wot!" assented the Weasel curtly.
Hamvert began to count the bills.
Jimmie Dale's hand stole into his pocket, and came out with his
handkerchief and the thin metal insignia case. From the latter,
with its little pair of tweezers, he took out one of the adhesive
gray seals. His eyes warily on the two men, he dropped the seal on
his handkerchief, restored the thin metal case to his pocket--and in
its stead the blue-black ugly muzzle of his automatic peeped from
between his fingers.
"Five thousand down," said Hamvert, pushing a pile of notes across
the table, and tucking the remainder back into his pocket; "and the
other five's here for you when you get back with the map.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't pay a penny in advance, but since you want it
that way and the map's no good to you while the rest of the long
green is, I--" He swallowed his words with a startled gulp,
clutched hastily at the money on the table, and began to struggle up
from his chair to his feet.
With a swift, noiseless side-step through the open door, Jimmie Dale
was standing in the room.
Jimmie Dale's tones were conversational. "Don't get up," said
Jimmie Dale coolly. "And take your hand off that money!"
The Weasel, whose back had been to the door, squirmed around in his
chair--and in his turn stared into the muzzle of Jimmie Dale's
revolver, while his jaw dropped and sagged.
"Good-evening, Weasel," observed Jimmie Dale casually. "I seem to
be in luck to-night. I got into that room next door, but an empty
room is slim picking. And then it seemed to me I heard some one in
here mention five thousand dollars twice, which makes ten thousand,
and which happens to be just exactly the sum I need at the present
moment--if I can't get any more! I haven't the honour of your
wealthy friend's acquaintance, but I am really charmed to meet him.
You--er--understand, both of you, that the slightest sound might
prove extremely embarrassing."
Hamvert's face was white, and he stirred uneasily in his chair; but
into the Weasel's face, the first shock of surprised dismay past,
came a dull, angry red, and into the eyes a vicious gleam--and
suddenly he laughed shortly.
"Why, youse damned fool," jeered the Weasel, "d'youse t'ink youse
can get away wid dat! Say, take it from me, youse are a piker!
Say, youse make me tired. Wot d'youse t'ink youse are? D'youse
t'ink dis is a tee-ayter, an' dat youse are a cheap-skate actor
strollin' acrost de stage? Aw, beat it, youse make me sick! Why,
say, youse pinch dat money, an' youse have got de same chanst of
gettin' outer dis hotel as a guy has of breakin' outer Sing Sing!
By de time youse gets five feet from de door of dis room we has de
whole works on yer neck."
"Do you think so, Weasel?" inquired Jimmie Dale politely. He
carried his handkerchief to his mouth to cloak a cough--and his
tongue touched the adhesive side of the little diamond-shaped gray
seal. Hand and handkerchief came back to the table, and Jimmie Dale
leaned his weight carelessly upon it, while the automatic in his
right hand still covered the two men. "Do you think so, Weasel?" he
repeated softly. "Well, perhaps you are right; and yet; somehow, I
am inclined to disagree with you. Let me see, Weasel--it was
Tuesday night, two nights ago; wasn't it, that a trifling break in
Maiden Lane at Thorold and Sons disturbed the police? It was a
three-year job for even a first offender, ten for one already on
nodding terms with the police and fifteen to twenty for--well, say,
for a man like you, Weasel--IF HE WERE CAUGHT! Am I making myself
The colour in the Weasel's cheeks faded a little--his eyes were
holding in sudden fascination upon Jimmie Dale.
"I see that I am," observed Jimmie Dale pleasantly. "I said, 'if he
were caught,' you will remember. I am going to leave this room in a
moment, Weasel, and leave it entirely to your discretion as to
whether you will think it wise or not to stir from that chair for
ten minutes after I shut the door. And now"--Jimmie Dale
nonchalantly replaced his handkerchief in his pocket, nonchalantly
followed it with the banknotes which he picked up from the table--
With a gasp, both men had strained forward, and were staring, wild-
eyed, at the gray seal stuck between them on the tabletop.
"The Gray Seal!" whispered the Weasel, and his tongue circled his
Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders.
"That WAS a bit theatrical, Weasel," he said apologetically; "and
yet not wholly unnecessary. You will recall Stangeist, The Mope,
Australian Ike, and Clarie Deane, and can draw your own inference as
to what might happen in the Thorold affair if you should be so ill-
advised as to force my hand. Permit me"--the slim, deft fingers,
like a streak of lightning, were inside Hamvert's coat pocket and
out again with the remainder of the banknotes--and Jimmie Dale was
backing for the door--not the door of the bathroom by which he had
entered, but the door of the room itself that opened on the
corridor. There he stopped, and his hand swept around behind his
back and turned the key in the locked door. He nodded at the two
men, whose faces were working with incongruously mingled expressions
of impotent rage, bewilderment, fear, and fury--and opened the door
a little. "Ten minutes, Weasel," he said gently. "I trust you will
not have to use heroic measures to restrain your friend for that
length of time, though if it is necessary I should advise you for
your own sake to resort almost--to murder. I wish you good evening,
The door opened farther; Jimmie Dale, still facing inward, slipped
between it and the jamb, whipped the mask from his face, closed the
door softly, stepped briskly but without any appearance of haste
along the corridor to the stairs, descended the stairs, mingled with
a crowd in the lobby for an instant, walked, seemingly a part of it,
with a group of ladies and gentlemen down the hall to the side
entrance, passed out--and a moment later, after drawing on a linen
dust coat which he took from under the seat, and exchanging his hat
for a tweed cap, the car glided from the curb and was lost in a
press of traffic around the corner.
Jimmie Dale laughed a little harshly to himself. So far, so good--
but the game was not ended yet for all the crackle of the crisp
notes in his pocket. There was still the map, still the robbery at
Mittel's house--the ten-thousand-dollar "theft" would not in any way
change that, and it was a question of time now to forestall any move
the Weasel might make.
Through the city Jimmie Dale alternately dodged, spurted, and
dragged his way, fuming with impatience; but once out on the country
roads and headed toward New Rochelle, the big machine, speed limits
thrown to the winds, roared through the night--a gray streak of road
jumping under the powerful lamps; a village, a town, a cluster of
lights flashing by him, the steady purr of his sixty-horse-power
engines; the gray thread of open road again.
It was just eleven o'clock when Jimmie Dale, the road to himself for
the moment at a spot a little beyond New Rochelle, extinguished his
lights, and very carefully ran his car off the road, backing it in
behind a small clump of trees. He tossed the linen dust coat back
into the car, and set off toward where, a little distance away, the
slap of waves from the stiff breeze that was blowing indicated the
shore line of the Sound. There was no moon, and, while it was not
particularly dark, objects and surroundings at best were blurred and
indistinct; but that, after all, was a matter of little concern to
Jimmie Dale--the first house beyond was Mittel's. He reached the
water's edge and kept along the shore. There should be a little
wharf, she had said. Yes; there it was--and there, too, was a gleam
of light from the house itself.
Jimmie Dale began to make an accurate mental note of his
surroundings. From the little wharf on which he now stood, a path
led straight to the house, bisecting what appeared to be a lawn,
trees to the right, the house to the left. At the wharf, beside
him, two motor boats were moored, one on each side. Jimmie Dale
glanced at them, and, suddenly attracted by the familiar appearance
of one, inspected it a little more closely. His momentarily
awakened interest passed as he nodded his head. It had caught his
attention, that was all--it was the same type and design, quite a
popular make, of which there were hundreds around New York, as the
one he had bought that year as a tender for his yacht.
He moved forward now toward the house, the rear of which faced him--
the light that flooded the lawn came from a side window. Jimmie
Dale was figuring the time and distance from New York as he crept
cautiously along. How quickly could the Weasel make the journey?
The Weasel would undoubtedly come, and if there was a convenient
train it might prove a close race--but in his own favour was the
fact that it would probably take the Weasel quite some little time
to recover his equilibrium from his encounter with the Gray Seal in
the Palais-Metropole, also the further fact that, from the Weasel's
viewpoint, there was no desperate need of haste. Jimmie Dale
crossed the lawn, and edged along in the shadows of the house to
where the light streamed out from what now proved to be open French
windows. It was a fair presumption that he would have an hour to
the good on the Weasel.
The sill was little more than a couple of feet from the ground, and,
from a crouched position on his knees below the window, Jimmie Dale
raised himself slowly and peered guardedly inside. The room was
empty. He listened a moment--the black silk mask was on his face
again--and with a quick, agile, silent spring he was in the room.
And then, in the centre of the room, Jimmie Dale stood motionless,
staring around him, an expression, ironical, sardonic, creeping into
his face. THE ROBBERY HAD ALREADY BEEN COMMITTED! At the lower end
of the room everything was in confusion; the door of a safe swung
wide, the drawers of a desk had been wrenched out, even a liqueur
stand, on which were well-filled decanters, had been broken open,
and the contents of safe and desk, the thief's discards as it were,
littered the floor in all directions.
For an instant Jimmie Dale, his eyes narrowed ominously, surveyed
the scene; then, with a sort of professional instinct aroused, he
stepped forward to examine the safe--and suddenly darted behind the
desk instead. Steps sounded in the hall. The door opened--a voice
"The master said I was to shut the windows, and I haven't dast to go
in. And he'll be back with the police in a minute now. Come on in
with me, Minnie."
"Lord!" exclaimed another voice. "Ain't it a good thing the missus
is away. She'd have highsteericks!"
Steps came somewhat hesitantly across the floor--from behind the
desk, Jimmie Dale could see that it was a maid, accompanied by a
big, rawboned woman, sleeves rolled to the elbows over brawny arms,
presumably the Mittels' cook.
The maid closed the French windows, there were no others in the
room, and bolted them; and, having gained a little confidence, gazed
"My, but wasn't he cute!" she ejaculated." Cut the telephone wires,
he did. And ain't he made an awful mess! But the master said we
wasn't to touch nothing till the police saw it."
"And to think of it happening in OUR house!" observed the cook
heavily, her hands on her hips, her arms akimbo. "It'll all be in
the papers, and mabbe they'll put our pictures in, too."
"I won't get over it as long as I live!" declared the maid. "The
yell Mr. Mittel gave when he came downstairs and put his head in
here, and then him shouting and using the most terrible language
into the telephone, and then finding the wires cut. And me
following him downstairs half dead with fright. And he shouts at
me. 'Bella,' he shouts, 'shut those windows, but don't you touch a
thing in that room. I'm going for the police.' And then he rushes
out of the house."
"I was going to bed," said the cook, picking up her cue for what was
probably the twentieth rehearsal of the scene, "when I heard Mr.
Mittel yell, and--Lord, Bella, there he is now!"
Jimmie Dale's hands clenched. He, too, had caught the scuffle of
footsteps, those of three or four men at least, on the front porch.
There was one way, only one, of escape--through the French windows!
It was a matter of seconds only before Mittel, with the police at
his heels, would be in the room--and Jimmie Dale sprang to his feet.
There was a wild scream of terror from the maid, echoed by another
from the cook--and, still screaming, both women fled for the door.
"Mr. Mittel! Mr. Mittel!" shrieked the maid--she had flung herself
out into the hall. "He's--he's back again!"
Jimmie Dale was at the French windows, tearing at the bolts. They
stuck. Shouts came from the front entryway. He wrenched viciously
at the fastenings. They gave now. The windows flew open. He
glanced over his shoulder. A man, Mittel presumably, since he was
the only one not in uniform, was springing into the room. There was
a blur of forms and brass buttons behind Mittel--and Jimmie Dale
leaped to the lawn, speeding across it like a deer.
But quick as he ran, Jimmie Dale's brain was quicker, pointing the
single chance that seemed open to him. The motor boat! It seemed
like a God-given piece of luck that he had noticed it was like his
own; there would be no blind, and that meant fatal, blunders in the
dark over its mechanism, and he could start it up in a moment--just
the time to cast her off, that was all he needed.
The shouts swelled behind him. Jimmie Dale was running for his
life. He flung a glance backward. One form--Mittel, he was
certain--was perhaps a hundred yards in the rear. The others were
just emerging from the French windows--grotesque, leaping things
they looked, in the light that streamed out behind them from the
Jimmie Dale's feet pounded the planking of the wharf. He stooped
and snatched at the mooring line. Mittel was almost at the wharf.
It seemed an age, a year to Jimmie Dale before the line was clear.
Shouts rang still louder across the lawn--the police, racing in a
pack, were more than halfway from the house. He flung the line into
the boat, sprang in after it--and Mittel, looming over him, grasped
at the boat's gunwhale.
Both men were panting from their exertions.
"Let go!" snarled Jimmie Dale between clenched teeth.
Mittel's answer was a hoarse, gasping shout to the police to hurry--
and then Mittel reeled back, measuring his length upon the wharf
from a blow with a boat hook full across the face, driven with a
sudden, untamed savagery that seemed for the moment to have mastered
There was no time--not a second--not the fraction of a second.
Desperately, frantically he shoved the boat clear of the wharf.
Once--twice--three times he turned the engine over without success--
and then the boat leaped forward. Jimmie Dale snatched the mask
from his face, and jumped for the steering wheel. The police were
rushing out along the wharf. He could just faintly discern Mittel
now--the man was staggering about, his hands clapped to his face. A
peremptory order to halt, coupled with a threat to fire, rang out
sharply--and Jimmie Dale flung himself flat in the bottom of the
boat. The wharf edge seemed to open in little, crackling jets of
flame, came the roar of reports like a miniature battery in action,
then the FLOP, FLOP, FLOP, as the lead tore up the water around him,
the duller thud as a bullet buried its nose in the boat's side, and
the curious rip and squeak as a splinter flew. Then Mittel's voice,
high-pitched, as though in pain:
"Can't any of you run a motor boat? He's got me bad, I'm afraid.
That other one there is twice as fast."
"Sure!" another voice responded promptly. "And if that's right,
he's run his head into a trap. Cast loose, there, MacVeay, and pile
in, all of you! You go back to the house, Mr. Mittel, and fix
yourself up. We'll get him!"
Jimmie Dale's lips thinned. It was true! If the other boat had any
speed at all, it was only a question of time before he would be
overtaken. The only point at issue was how much time. It was dark--
that was in his favour--but it was not so dark but that a boat
could be distinguished on the water for quite a distance, for a
longer distance than he could hope to put between them. There was
no chance of eluding the police that way! The keen, facile brain
that had saved the Gray Seal a hundred times before was weaving,
planning, discarding, eliminating, scheming a way out--with death,
ruin, disaster the price of failure. His eyes swept the dim,
irregular outline of the shore. To his right, in the opposite
direction from where he had left his car, and perhaps a mile ahead,
as well as he could judge, the land seemed to run out into a point.
Jimmie Dale headed for it instantly. If he could reach it with a
little lead to the good, there was a chance! It would take, say,
six minutes, granting the boat a speed of ten miles an hour--and she
could do that. The others could hardly overtake him in that time--
they hadn't got started yet. He could hear them still shouting and
talking at the wharf. And Mittel's "twice as fast" was undoubtedly
an exaggeration, anyhow.
A minute more passed, another--and then, astern, Jimmie Dale caught
the racket from the exhaust of a high-powered engine, and a white
streak seemed to shoot out upon the surface of the water from where,
obscured now, he placed the wharf. A quarter-mile lead, roughly
four hundred yards; yes, he had as much as that--but that, too, was
He bent over his engine, coaxing it, nursing it to its highest
efficiency; his eyes strained now upon the point ahead, now upon his
pursuers behind. He was running with the wind, thank Heaven! or the
small boat would have had a further handicap--it was rolling up
quite a sea.
The steering gear, he found, was corded along the side of the boat,
permitting its manipulation from almost any position, and, abruptly
now, Jimmie Dale left the engine to rummage through the little
locker in the stern of the boat. But as he rummaged, his eyes held
speculatively on the boat astern. She was gaining unquestionably,
steadily, but not as fast as he had feared. He would still have a
hundred yards' lead, at least, abreast the point--and, he was
smiling grimly now, a hundred yards there meant life to the Gray
Seal! The locker was full of a heterogeneous collection of odds and
ends--a suit of oilskins, tools, tins, and cans of various sizes and
descriptions. Jimmie Dale emptied the contents, some sort of
powder, of a small, round tin box overboard, and from his pocket
took out the banknotes, crammed them into the box, crammed his watch
in on top of them, and screwed the cover on tightly. His fingers
were flying now. A long strip torn from the trousers' leg of the
oilskins was wrapped again and again around the box--and the box was
stuffed into his pocket.
The flash of a revolver shot cut the blackness behind him, then
another, and another. They were firing in a continuous stream
again. It was fairly long range, but there was always the chance of
a stray bullet finding its mark. Jimmie Dale, crouching low, made
his way to the bow of the boat again.
The point was looming almost abreast now. He edged in nearer, to
hug it as closely as he dared risk the depth of the water. Behind,
remorselessly, the other boat was steadily closing the gap; and the
shots were not all wild--one struck, with a curious singing sound,
on some piece of metal a foot from his elbow. Closer to the shore,
running now parallel with the head of the point, Jimmie Dale again
edged in the boat, his jaws, clamped, working in little twitches.
And then suddenly, with a swift, appraising glance behind him, he
swerved the boat from her course and headed for the shore--not
directly, but diagonally across the little bay that, on the farther
side of the point, had now opened out before him. He was close in
with the edge of the point, ten yards from it, sweeping past it--the
point itself came between the two boats, hiding them from each
other--and Jimmie Dale, with a long spring, dove from the boat's
side to the water.
The momentum from the boat as he sank robbed him for an instant of
all control over himself, and he twisted, doubled up, and rolled
over and over beneath the water--but the next moment his head was
above the surface again, and he was striking out swiftly for the
shore. It was only a few yards--but in a few SECONDS the pursuing
boat, too, would have rounded the point. His feet touched bottom.
It was haste now, nothing else, that counted. The drum of the
racing engines, the crackling roar of the exhaust from the oncoming
boat was in his ears. He flung himself upon the shore and down
behind a rock. Around the point, past him, tore the police boat,
dark forms standing clustered in the bow--and then a sudden shout:
"There she is! See her? She's heading into the bay for the shore!"
Jimmie Dale's lips relaxed. There was no doubt that they had
sighted their quarry again--a perfect fusillade of revolver shots
directed at the now empty boat was quite sufficient proof of that!
With something that was almost a chuckle, Jimmie Dale straightened
up from behind the rock and began to run back along the shore. The
little motor boat would have grounded long before they overtook her,
and, thinking naturally enough, that he had leaped ashore from her,
they would go thrashing through the woods and fields searching for
It was a longer way back by the shore, a good deal longer; now over
rough, rocky stretches where he stumbled in the darkness, now
through marshy, sodden ground where he sank as in a quagmire time
and again over his ankles. It was even longer than he had counted
on, and time, with the Weasel on one hand and the return of the
police on the other, was a factor to be reckoned with again, as, a
half hour later, Jimmie Dale stole across the lawn of Mittel's house
for the second time that night, and for the second time crouched
beneath the open French windows.
Masked again, the water still dripping from what were once
immaculate evening clothes but which now sagged limply about him,
his collar a pasty string around his neck, the mud and dirt splashed
to his knees, Jimmie Dale was a disreputable and incongruous-looking
object as he crouched there, shivering uncomfortably from his
immersion in spite of his exertions. Inside the room, Mittel passed
the windows, pacing the floor, one side of his face badly cut and
bruised from the blow with the boat hook--and as he passed, his back
turned for an instant, Jimmie Dale stepped into the room.
Mittel whirled at the sound, and, with a suppressed cry,
instinctively drew back--Jimmie Dale's automatic was dangling
carelessly in his right hand.
"I am afraid I am a trifle melodramatic," observed Jimmie Dale
apologetically, surveying his own bedraggled person; "but I assure
you it is neither intentional nor for effect. As it is, I was
afraid I would be late. Pardon me if I take the liberty of helping
myself; one gets a chill in wet clothes so easily"--he passed to the
liqueur stand, poured out a generous portion from one of the
decanters, and tossed it off.
Mittel neither spoke nor moved. Stupefaction, surprise, and a very
obvious regard for Jimmie Dale's revolver mingled themselves in a
helpless expression on his face.
Jimmie Dale set down his glass and pointed to a chair in front of
"Sit down, Mr. Mittel," he invited pleasantly. "It will be quite
apparent to you that I have not time to prolong our interview
unnecessarily, in view of the possible return of the police at any
moment, but you might as well be comfortable. You will pardon me
again if I take another liberty"--he crossed the room, turned the
key in the lock of the door leading into the hall, and returned to
the desk. "Sit down, Mr. Mittel!" he repeated, a sudden rasp in his
Mittel, none too graciously, now seated himself.
"Look here, my fine fellow," he burst out, "you're carrying things
with a pretty high hand, aren't you? You seem to have eluded the
police for the moment, somehow, but let me tell you I--"
"No," interrupted Jimmie Dale softly, "let ME tell you--all there is
to be told." He leaned over the desk and stared rudely at the
bruise on Mittel's face. "Rather a nasty crack, that," he remarked.
Mittel's fists clenched, and an angry flush swept his cheeks.
"I'd have made it a good deal harder," said Jimmie Dale, with sudden
insolence, "if I hadn't been afraid of putting you out of business
and so precluding the possibility of this little meeting. Now
then"--the revolver swung upward and held steadily on a line with
Mittel's eyes--" I'll trouble you for the diagram of that Alaskan
claim that belongs to Mrs. Michael Breen!"
Mittel, staring fascinated into the little, round, black muzzle of
the automatic, edged back in his chair.
So--so that's what you're after, is it?" he jerked out. "Well"--he
laughed unnaturally and waved his hand at the disarray of the room--
"it's been stolen already."
"I know that," said Jimmie Dale grimly. "By--YOU!"
"Me!" Mittel started up in his chair, a whiteness creeping into his
face. "Me! I--I--"
"Sit down!" Jimmie Dale's voice rang out ominously cold. "I
haven't any time to spare. You can appreciate that. But even if
the police return before that map is in my possession, they will
still be TOO LATE as far as you are concerned. Do you understand?
Furthermore, if I am caught--you are ruined. Let me make it quite
plain that I know the details of your little game. You are a curb
broker, Mr. Mittel--ostensibly. In reality, you run what is nothing
better than an exceedingly profitable bucket shop. The Weasel has
been a customer and also a stool for you for years. How Hamvert met
the Weasel is unimportant--he came East with the intention of
getting in touch with a slick crook to help him--the Weasel is the
coincidence, that is all. I quite understand that you have never
met Hamvert, nor Hamvert you, nor that Hamvert was aware that you
and the Weasel had anything to do with one another and were playing
in together--but that equally is unimportant. When Hamvert engaged
the Weasel for ten thousand dollars to get the map from you for him,
the Weasel chose the line of least resistance. He KNEW you, and
approached you with an offer to split the money in return for the
map. It was not a question of your accepting his offer--it was
simply a matter of how you could do it and still protect yourself.
The Weasel was well qualified to point the way--a fake robbery of
your house would answer the purpose admirably--you could not be held
either legally or morally responsible for a document that was
placed, unsolicited by you, in your possession, if it were stolen
Mittel's face was ashen, colourless. His hands were opening and
shutting with nervous twitches on the top of the desk.
Jimmie Dale's lips curled.
"But"--Jimmie Dale was clipping off his words now viciously--
"neither you nor the Weasel were willing to trust the other
implicitly--perhaps you know each other too well. You were
unwilling to turn over the map until you had received your share of
the money, and you were equally unwilling to turn it over until you
were SAFE; that is, until you had engineered your fake robbery even
to the point of notifying the police that it had been committed; the
Weasel, on the other hand, had some scruples about parting with any
of the money without getting the map in one hand before he let go of
the banknotes with the other. It was very simply arranged, however,
and to your mutual satisfaction. While you robbed your own house
this evening, he was to get half the money in advance from Hamvert,
giving Hamvert to understand that HE had planned to commit the
robbery himself to-night. He was to come out here then, receive the
map from you in exchange for your share of the money, return to
Hamvert with the map, and receive in turn his own share. I might
say that Hamvert actually paid down the advance--and it was perhaps
unfortunate for you that you paid such scrupulous attention to
details as to cut your own telephone wires! I had not, of course,
an exact knowledge of the hour or minute in which you proposed to
stage your little play here. The object of my first visit a little
while ago was to forestall your turning the diagram over to the
Weasel. Circumstances favoured you for the moment. I am back
again, however, for the same purpose--the map!"
Mittel, in a cowed way, was huddled back in his chair. He smiled
miserably at Jimmie Dale.
"QUICK!" Jimmie Dale flung out the word in a sharp, peremptory
bark. "Do you need to be told that the CARTRIDGES are dry?"
Mittel's hand, trembling, went into his pocket and produced an
"Open it!" commanded Jimmie Dale. "And lay it on the desk, so that
I can read it--I am too wet to touch it."
Mittel obeyed--like a dog that has been whipped.
A glance at the paper, and Jimmie Dale's eyes lifted again--to sweep
the floor of the room. He pointed to a pile of books and documents
in one corner that had been thrown out of the safe.
"Go over there and pick up that check book!" he ordered tersely.
"What for?" Mittel made feeble protest.
"Never mind what for!" snapped Jimmie Dale. "Go and get it--and
Once more Mittel obeyed--and dropped the book hesitantly on the
Jimmie Dale stared silently, insolently, contemptuously at the
Mittel stirred uneasily, sat down, shifted his feet, and his fingers
fumbled aimlessly over the top of the desk.
"Compared with you," said Jimmie Dale, in a low voice, the Weasel,
ay, and Hamvert, too, crooks though they are, are gentlemen!
Michael Breen, as he died, told his wife to take that paper to some
one she could trust, who would help her and tell her what to do;
and, knowing no one to go to, but because she scrubbed your floors
and therefore thought you were a fine gentleman, she came timidly to
you, and trusted you--you cur!"
Jimmie Dale laughed suddenly--not pleasantly. Mittel shivered.
"Hamvert and Breen were partners out there in Alaska when Breen
first went out," said Jimmie Dale slowly, pulling the tin can
wrapped in oilskin from his pocket. "Hamvert swindled Breen out of
the one strike he made, and Mrs. Breen and her little girl back here
were reduced to poverty. The amount of that swindle was, I
understand, fifteen thousand dollars. I have ten of it here,
contributed by the Weasel and Hamvert; and you will, I think,
recognise therein a certain element of poetic justice--but I am
still short five thousand dollars."
Jimmie Dale removed the cover from the tin can. Mittel gazed at the
"You perhaps did not hear me?" prompted Jimmie Dale coldly. "I am
still short five thousand dollars."
Mittel circled his lips with the tip of his tongue.
"What do you want?" he whispered hoarsely.
"The balance of the amount." There was an ominous quiet in Jimmie
Dale's voice. "A check payable to Mrs. Michael Breen for five
"I--I haven't got that much in the bank," Mittel fenced, stammering.
"No? Then I should advise you to see that you have by ten o'clock
to-morrow morning!" returned Jimmie Dale curtly. "Make out that
Mittel hesitated. The revolver edged insistently a little farther
across the desk--and Mittel, picking up a pen, wrote feverishly. He
tore the check from its stub, and, with a snarl, pushed it toward
"Fold it!" instructed Jimmie Dale, in the same curt tones. "And
fold that diagram with it. Put them both in this box. Thank you!"
He wrapped the oilskin around the box again, and returned the box to
his pocket. And again with that insolent, contemptuous stare, he
surveyed the man at the desk--then he backed to the French windows.
"It might be as well to remind you, Mittel," he cautioned sternly,
"that if for any reason this check is not honoured, whether through
lack of funds or an attempt by you to stop payment, you'll be in a
cell in the Tombs to-morrow for this night's work--that is quite
understood, isn't it?"
Mittel was on his feet--sweat glistened on his forehead.
"My God!" he cried out shrilly. "Who are you?"
And Jimmie Dale smiled and stepped out on the lawn.
"Ask the Weasel," said Jimmie Dale--and the next instant, lost in
the shadows of the house, was running for his car.