Part 6 out of 9
DEATH TO THE GRAY SEAL!"--through the underworld, in dens and dives
that sheltered from the law the vultures that preyed upon society,
prompted by self-fear, by secret dread, by reason of their very
inability to carry out their purpose, the whispered sentence grew
daily more venomous, more insistent. THE GRAY SEAL, DEAD OR ALIVE--
BUT THE GRAY SEAL!" It was the "standing orders" of the police.
Railed at by a populace who angrily demanded at its hands this
criminal of criminals, mocked at and threatened by a virulent press,
stung to madness by the knowledge of its own impotence, flaunted
impudently to its face by this mysterious Gray Seal to whose door
the law laid a hundred crimes, for whom the bars of a death cell in
Sing Sing was the certain goal could he but be caught, the police,
to a man, was like an uncaged beast that, flicked to the raw by some
unseen assailant and murderous in its fury, was crouched to strike.
Grim paradox--a common bond that linked the hands of the law with
those that outraged it!
Death to the Gray Seal! Was it, at last, the beginning of the end?
Jimmie Dale, as Larry the Bat, unkempt, disreputable in appearance,
supposed dope fiend, a figure familiar to every denizen below the
dead line, skulked along the narrow, ill-lighted street of the East
Side that, on the corner ahead, boasted the notorious resort to
which Bristol Bob had paid the doubtful, if appropriate, compliment
of giving his name. From under the rim of his battered hat, Jimmie
Dale's eyes, veiled by half-closed, well-simulated drug-laden lids,
missed no detail either of his surroundings or pertaining to the
passers-by. Though already late in the evening, half-naked children
played in the gutters; hawkers of multitudinous commodities cried
their wares under gasoline banjo torches affixed to their pushcarts;
shawled women of half a dozen races, and men equally cosmopolitan,
loitered at the curb, or blocked the pavement, or brushed by him.
Now a man passed him, flinging a greeting from the corner of his
mouth; now another, always without movement of the lips--and Jimmie
Dale answered them--from the corner of his mouth.
But while his eyes were alert, his mind was only subconsciously
attune to his surroundings. Was it indeed the beginning of the end?
Some day, he had told himself often enough, the end must come. Was
it coming now, surely, with a sort of grim implacability--when it was
too late to escape! Slowly, but inexorably, even his personal
freedom of action was narrowing, being limited, and, ironically
enough, through the very conditions he had himself created as an
avenue of escape.
It was not only the police now; it was, far more to be feared, the
underworld as well. In the old days, the role of Larry the Bat had
been assumed at intervals, at his own discretion, when, in a corner,
he had no other way of escape; now it was forced upon him almost
daily. The character of Larry the Bat could no longer be discarded
at will. He had flung down the gauntlet to the underworld when, as
the Gray Seal, he had closed the prison doors behind Stangeist, The
Mope, Australian Ike, and Clarie Deane, and the underworld had
picked the gauntlet up. Betrayed, as they believed, by the one who,
though unknown to them; they had counted the greatest among
themselves, and each one fearful that his own betrayal might come
next, every crook, every thug in the Bad Lands now eyed his oldest
pal with suspicion and distrust, and each was a self-constituted
sleuth, with the prod of self-preservation behind him, sworn to the
accomplishment of that unhallowed slogan--death to the Gray Seal.
Almost daily now he must show himself as Larry the Bat in some
gathering of the underworld--a prolonged absence from his haunts was
not merely to invite certain suspicion, where all were suspicious of
each other, it was to invite certain disaster. He had now either to
carry the role like a little old man of the sea upon his back, or
renounce it forever. And the latter course he dared not even
consider--the Sanctuary was still the Sanctuary, and the role of
Larry the Bat was still a refuge, the trump card in the lone hand he
He reached the corner, pushed open the door of Bristol Bob's, and
shuffled in. The place was a glare of light, a hideous riot of
noise. On a polished section of the floor in the centre, a turkey
trot was in full swing; laughter and shouting vied raucously with an
Jimmie Dale slowly made the circuit of the room past the tables,
that, ranged around the sides, were packed with occupants who
thumped their glasses in tempo with the music and clamoured at the
rushing waiters for replenishment. A dozen, two dozen, men and
women greeted him. Jimmie Dale indifferently returned their
salutes. What a galaxy of crooks--the cream of the underworld! His
eyes, under half-closed lids, swept the faces--lags, dips, gatmen,
yeggs, mob stormers, murderers, petty sneak thieves, stalls,
hangers-on--they were all there. He knew them all; he was known to
He shuffled on to the far end of the room, his leer a little
arrogant, a certain arrogance, too, in the tilt of his battered hat.
He also was quite a celebrity in that gathering--Larry the Bat was
of the aristocracy and the elite of gangland. Well, the show was
over; he had stalked across the stage, performed for his audience--
and in another hour now, free until he must repeat the same
performance the next day in some other equally notorious dive, he
would be sitting in for a rubber of bridge at that most exclusive of
all clubs, the St. James, where none might enter save only those
whose names were vouched for in the highest and most select circles,
and where for partners he would possibly have a justice of the
supreme court, or mayhap an eminent divine! He looked suddenly
around him, as though startled. It always startled him, that
comparison. There was something too stupendous to be simply
ironical in the incongruity of it. If--if he were ever run to
His eyes met those of a heavy-built, coarse-featured man, the chewed
end of a cigar in his mouth, who stepped from behind the bar,
carrying a tin tray with two full glasses upon it. It was Bristol
Bob, ex-pugilist, the proprietor.
"How're you, Larry?" grunted the man, with what he meant to be a
Jimmie Dale was standing in the doorway of a passage that prefaced a
rear exit to the lane. He moved aside to allow the other to pass.
"'Ello, Bristol," he returned dispassionately.
Bristol Bob went on along down the passage, and Jimmie Dale shuffled
slowly after him. He had intended to leave the place by the rear
door--it obviated the possibility of an undesirable acquaintance
joining company with him if he went out by the main entrance. But
now his eyes were fixed on the proprietor's back with a sort of
speculative curiosity. There was a private room off the passage,
with a window on the lane; but they must be favoured customers
indeed that Bristol Bob would condescend to serve personally--any
one who knew Bristol Bob knew that.
Jimmie Dale slowed his shuffling gait, then quickened it again.
Bristol Bob opened the door and passed into the private room--the
door was just closing as Jimmie Dale shuffled by. He had had only a
glance inside--but it was enough. They were favoured customers
indeed! It was no wonder that Bristol Bob himself was on the job!
Two men were in the room: Lannigan of headquarters, rated the
smartest plain-clothes man in the country--and, across the table
from Lannigan, Whitey Mack, as clever, finished and daring a crook
as was to be found in the Bad Lands, whose particular "line" was
diamonds, or, in the vernacular of his ilk, "white stones," that had
earned him the sobriquet of "Whitey." Lannigan of headquarters,
Whitey Mack of the underworld, sworn enemies those two--in secret
session! Bristol Bob might well play the part of outer guard. If a
choice few of those outside in the dance hall could get a glimpse
into that private room it would be "good-night" to Whitey Mack.
Jimmie Dale's eyes were narrowed a little as he shuffled on down the
passage. Lannigan and Whitey Mack with their heads together! What
was the game? There was nothing in common between the two men.
Lannigan, it was well known, could not be "reached." Whitey Mack,
with his ingenious cleverness, coupled with a cold-blooded
fearlessness that had made him an object of unholy awe and respect
in the eyes of the underworld, was a thorn that was sore beyond
measure in the side of the police. Certainly, it was no ordinary
thing that had brought these two together; especially, since, with
the unrest and suspicion that was bubbling and seething below the
dead line, and with which there was none more intimate than Whitey
Mack, Whitey Mack was inviting a risk in "making up" with the police
that could only be accounted for by some urgent and vital incentive.
Jimmie Dale pushed open the door that gave on the lane. Behind him,
Bristol Bob closed the door of the private room and retreated back
along the passage. Jimmie Dale stepped out into the lane--and
instinctively his eyes sought the window of the private room. The
shade was drawn, only a yellow murk filtered out into the black,
unlighted lane, but suddenly he started noiselessly toward it. The
window was open a bare inch or so at the bottom!
The sill was just shoulder high, and, placing his ear to the
opening, he flattened himself against the wall. He could not see
inside, for the shade was drawn well to the bottom; but he could
hear as distinctly as though he were at the table beside the two
men--and at the first words, the loose, disjointed frame of Larry
the Bat seemed to tauten curiously and strain forward lithe and
"This Gray Seal dope listens good, Whitey; but, coming from you, I'm
leery. You've got to show me."
"Don't you want him?" There was a nasty laugh from Whitey Mack.
"You BET I want him!" returned the headquarters man with a
suppressed savagery that left no doubt as to his earnestness. "I
want him fast enough, but--"
"Then, blast him, so do I!" Whitey Mack rapped out with a vicious
snarl. "So does every guy in the fleet down here. We got it in for
him. You get that, don't you? He's got Stangeist and his gang
steered for the electric chair now; he put a crimp in the Weasel the
other night--get that? He's like a blasted wizard with what he
knows. And who'll he deal the icy mitt to next? Me--damn him--me,
for all I know!"
"That's all right," observed Lannigan coolly. "I'm not questioning
your sincerity for a minute; I know all about that; but that doesn't
land the Gray Seal. I'll work with you if you've anything to offer,
but we've had enough 'tips' and 'information' handed us at
headquarters in the last few years to make us a trifle skeptical.
Show me what you've got, Whitey?"
"Show you! " echoed Whitey Mack passionately. "Sure, I'll show you!
That's what I'm going to do--show you. I'll show you the Gray Seal!
I ain't handing you any tips. I'VE FOUND OUT WHO THE GRAY SEAL IS!"
There was a tense silence. It seemed to Jimmie Dale as though cold
fingers were clutching at his heart, stifling its beat--then the
blood came bursting to his forehead. He could not see into the
room, but that silence was eloquent. It seemed as though he could
picture the two men--Lannigan leaning suddenly forward--Lannigan and
Whitey Mack staring tensely into each other's eyes.
"You--WHAT!" It came low and grim from Lannigan.
"That's what!" asserted Whitey Mack bluntly. "You heard me! That's
what I said! I know who the Gray Seal is--and I'm the only guy
that's wise to him. Am I letting you in right?"
"You're sure?" demanded Lannigan hoarsely. "You're sure? Who is
There was a half laugh, half snarl from Whitey Mack.
"Oh, no, you don't!" he growled. "Nix on that! What do you take
me for--a fool? You beat it out of here and round him up--eh--while
I suck my thumbs? Say, forget it! Do you think I'm doing this
because I love you? Why, blame you, you've been aching for a year
to put the bracelets on me yourself! Say, wake up! I'm in on this
Again that silence. Then Lannigan spoke slowly, in a puzzled way.
I don't get you, Whitey," he said. "What do you mean?" Then, a
little sharply: "You're quite right; you've got some reputation
yourself, and you're badly 'wanted' if we could get the 'goods' on
you. If you're trying to plant something, look out for yourself,
"Can that!" snapped Whitey Mack threateningly. "Can that sort of
spiel right now--or quit! I ain't telling you his name--yet. BUT
I'LL TAKE YOU TO HIM TO-NIGHT--and you and me nabs him together. Is
that straight enough goods for you?"
"Don't get sore," said Lannigan, more pacifically. "Yes, if you'll
do that it's good enough for any man. But lay your cards on the
table face up, Whitey--I want to see what you opened the pot on."
"You've seen 'em," Whitey Mack answered ungraciously. "I've told
you already. The Gray Seal goes out for keeps--curse him for a
snitch! If I bumped him off, or wised up any of the guys to it, and
we was caught, we'd get the juice for it even if it was the Gray
Seal, wouldn't we? Well, what's the use! If one of you dicks get
him, he gets bumped off just the same, only regular, up in the wire
parlour at Sing Sing. I ain't looking for that kind of trouble when
I can duck it. See?"
"Sure," said Lannigan.
"Besides, and moreover," continued Whitey Mack, "there's SOME reward
hung out for him that I'm figuring to born in on. I'd swipe it all
myself, don't you make any mistake about that, and you'd never get a
look-in, only, sore as the mob is on the Gray Seal, it ain't healthy
for any guy around these parts to get the reputation of being a
snitch, no matter who he snitches on. Bump him off--sure!
Snitching--well, you get the idea, eh? I'm ducking that too. Get
"I get you," said Lannigan, with a short, pleased laugh.
"Well, then," announced Whitey Mack, "here's my proposition, and
it's my turn to hand out the 'look-out-for-your-self' dope. I'm
busting the game wide open for you to play, but you throw me down,
and"--his voice sank into a sullen snarl again--"you can take it
from me, I'll get you for it!"
"All right," responded Lannigan soberly. "Let's hear it. If I
agree to it, I'll stick to it."
"I believe you," said Whitey Mack curtly. "That's why I picked you
out for the medal they'll pin on you for this. And here's getting
down to tacks! I'll lead you to the Gray Seal to-night and help you
nab him and stay with you to the finish, but there's to be nobody
but you and me on the job. When it's done I fade away, and nobody's
to know I snitched, and no questions asked as to how I found out
about the Gray Seal. I ain't looking for any of the glory--you can
fix that up to suit yourself. The cash is different--you come
across with half the reward the day they pay it."
"You'll get it!" There was savage elation in Lannigan's voice, the
emphatic smash of a fist on the table. "You're on, Whitey. And if
we get the Gray Seal to-night, I'll do better by you than that."
"We'll get him!" said Whitey Mack, with a vicious oath. "And--"
Jimmie Dale crouched suddenly low down, close against the wall. The
crunch of a footstep sounded from the end of the lane. Some one had
turned in from the cross street, some fifty yards away, and was
heading evidently for the back entrance to Bristol Bob's. Jimmie
Dale edged noiselessly, cautiously back past the doorway, kept on,
pressed close against the wall, and finally paused. He had not been
seen. The back door of Bristol Bob's opened and closed. The man
had gone in.
For a moment Jimmie Dale stood hesitant. There was a wild surging
in his brain, something like a myriad batteries of trip hammers
seemed to be pounding at his temples. Then, almost blindly, he kept
on down the lane in the same direction in which he had started to
retreat--as well one cross street as another.
He turned into the cross street, went along it--and presently
emerged into the full tide of the Bowery. It was garishly lighted;
people swarmed about him. Subconsciously, there were crowded
sidewalks; subconsciously, he was on the Bowery--that was all.
Ruin, disaster, peril faced him--faced him, and staggered him with
the suddenness of the shock. Was it true? No; it could not be
true! It was a bluff--Whitey Mack was bluffing. Jimmie Dale's lips
grew thin in a mirthless smile as he shook his head. Neither Whitey
Mack nor any other man would dare to bluff like that. It was too
straight, too open-handed, Whitey Mack had laid his cards too
plainly on the table. Whitey Mack's words rang in his ears: "I'll
LEAD you to the Gray Seal to-night and help you nab him and stay
with you to the finish." The man meant what he said, meant what he
said, too, about the "finish" of the Gray Seal; not a man in the Bad
Lands but meant--death to the Gray Seal! But how, by what means,
when, where had Whitey Mack got his information? "I'm the only one
that's wise," Whitey Mack had said. It seemed impossible. It WAS
impossible! Whitey Mack was sincere enough probably in what he had
said, but the man simply could not know. Whitey Mack could only
have spotted some one that, for some reason or other, he IMAGINED
was the Gray Seal. That was it--must be it! Whitey Mack had made a
mistake. What clew could he have obtained to--
Over the unwashed face of Larry the Bat a gray pallor spread slowly.
His fingers were plucking at the frayed edge of his inside vest
pocket. The dark eyes seemed to turn coal-black. A laugh, like the
laugh of one damned, rose to his lips, and was choked back. It was
gone! GONE! That thin metal case, like a cigarette case, that,
between the little sheets of oil paper, held those diamond-shaped,
gray-coloured, adhesive seals, the insignia of the Gray Seal--was
gone! Clew! It seemed as though there were an overpowering nausea
upon him. CLEW! That little case was not a clew--it was a death
His hands clenched fiercely. If he could only think for a moment!
The lining of his pocket had given away. The case had dropped out.
But there was nothing about the case to identify any one as the Gray
Seal unless it were found in one's actual possession. Therefore
Whitey Mack, to have solved his identity, must have seen him drop
the case. There could be no question about that. It was equally
obvious then that Whitey Mack would know the Gray Seal as Larry the
Bat. Did he also know him as Jimmie Dale? Yes, or no? It was a
vital question. His life hung on it.
That keen, facile brain, numbed for the moment, was beginning to
work with lightning speed. It was four o'clock that afternoon when
he had assumed the character of Larry the Bat--some time between
four o'clock and the present, it was now well after eleven, the case
had dropped from his pocket. There had been ample time then for
Whitey Mack to have made that appointment with Lannigan--and ample
time to have made a surreptitious visit to the Sanctuary. Had
Whitey Mack gone there? Had Whitey Mack found that hiding place in
the flooring under the oilcloth? Had Whitey Mack discovered that
the Gray Seal was not only Larry the Bat--but Jimmie Dale?
Jimmie Dale swept his hand across his forehead. It was damp from
little clinging beads of moisture. Should he go to the Sanctuary
and change--become Jimmie Dale again? Was it the safest thing to
do--or the most dangerous? Even if Whitey Mack had been there and
discovered the dual personality of Larry the Bat, how would he,
Jimmie Dale, know it? The man would have been crafty enough to have
left no sign behind him. Was it to the Sanctuary that Whitey Mack
meant to lead Lannigan that evening--or did Whitey Mack know him as
Jimmie Dale, and to make it the more sensational, plan to carry out
the coup, say, at the St. James Club? Whitey Mack and Lannigan were
still at Bristol Bob's; he had probably time, if he so elected, to
reach the Sanctuary, change, and get away again. But every minute
was priceless now. What should he do? Run from the city as he was
for cover--or take the gambler's chance? Whitey Mack knew him as
Larry the Bat--it was not certain that Whitey Mack knew him as
He had halted, absorbed, in front of a moving-picture theatre.
Great placards, at first but a blur of colour, suddenly forced
themselves in concrete form upon his consciousness. Letters a foot
high leaped out at him: "THE DOUBLE LIFE." There was the picture of
a banker in his private office hastily secreting a forged paper as
the hero in the guise of a clerk entered; the companion picture was
the banker in convict stripes staring out from behind the barred
doors of a cell. There seemed a ghastly augury in the coincidence.
Why should a thing like that be thrust upon him to shake his nerve
when he needed nerve now more than he had ever needed it in his life
He raised his hand to jerk aimlessly at the brim of his hat, dropped
his hand abruptly to his side again, and started quickly, hurriedly
away through the throng around him. A sort of savagery had swept
upon him. In a flash he had made his decision. He would take the
gambler's chance! And afterward--Jimmie Dale's lips were like a
thin, straight line--it was Whitey Mack's life or his own! Whitey
Mack had said he was the only one that was wise--and Whitey Mack had
not told Lannigan yet, wouldn't tell Lannigan until the show-down.
If he, Jimmie Dale, got to the Sanctuary, became Jimmie Dale and got
away again, even if Whitey Mack knew him as Jimmie Dale, there was
still a chance. It was his life or Whitey Mack's--Whitey Mack, with
his lean-jawed, clean-shaven wolf's face! If he could get Whitey
Mack before the other was ready to tell Lannigan! Surely he had the
right of self-preservation! Surely his life was as valuable as
Whitey Mack's, as valuable as a man's who, as those in the secrets
of the underworld knew well enough, had blood upon his hands, who
lived by crime, who was a menace to the community! Had he not the
right to preserve his own life at the expense of one such as that?
He had never taken life--the thought was abhorrent! But was there
any other way in event of Whitey Mack knowing him as Jimmie Dale?
His back was against the wall; he was trapped; certain death, and,
worse, dishonour stared him in the face. Lannigan and Whitey Mack
would be together--the odds would be two to one against him--and he
had no quarrel with Lannigan--somehow he must let Lannigan out of it.
The other side of the street was less crowded. He crossed over,
and, still with the shuffling tread that dozens around him knew as
the characteristic gait of Larry the Bat, but covering the ground
with amazing celerity, he hurried along. It was only at the end of
the block, that cross street from the Bowery that led to the
Sanctuary. How much time had he? He turned the corner into the
darker cross street. Whitey Mack would have learned from Bristol
Bob that Larry the Bat had just been there; that is, that Larry the
Bat was not at the Sanctuary. Whitey Mack would probably be in no
hurry--he and Lannigan might wait until later, until Whitey Mack
should be satisfied that Larry the Bat had gone home. It was the
line of least resistance; they would not attempt to scour the city
for him. They might even wait in that private room at Bristol Bob's
until they decided that it was time to sally out. He might perhaps
still find them there when he got back; at any rate, from there he
must pick up their trail again. On the other hand--all this was but
supposition--they might make at once for the Sanctuary to lie in
wait for him. In any case there was need, desperate need, for
He glanced sharply around him; and, by the side of the tenement
house now that bordered on the alleyway, with a curious, swift,
gliding motion, he seemed to blend into the shadow and darkness. It
was the Sanctuary, that room on the first floor of the tenement, the
tenement that had three entrances, three exits--a passageway through
to the saloon on the next street that abutted on the rear, the usual
front door, and the side door in the alleyway. Gone was the
shuffling gait. Quick, alert, he ran, crouching, bent down, along
the alleyway, reached the side door, opened it stealthily, closed it
behind him with equal caution, and, in the dark entry, stood
motionless, listening intently.
There was no sound. He began to mount the rickety, dilapidated
stairs; and, where it seemed that the lightest tread must make them
creak out in blatant protest, his trained muscles, delicately
compensating his body weight, carried him upward with a silence that
was almost uncanny. There was need of silence, as there was need of
haste. He was not so sure now of the time at his disposal--that he
had even reached the Sanctuary FIRST. How long had he loitered in
that half-dazed way on the Bowery? He did not know--perhaps longer
than he had imagined. There was the possibility that Whitey Mack
and Lannigan were already above, waiting for him; but, even if they
were not already there and he got away before they came, it was
imperative that no one should know that Larry the Bat had come and
He reached the landing, and paused again, his right hand, with a
vicious muzzle of his automatic peeping now from between his
fingers, thrown a little forward. It was black, utterly black,
around him. Again that stealthy, catlike tread--and his ear was at
the keyhole of the Sanctuary door. A full minute, priceless though
it was, passed; then, satisfied that the room was empty, he drew his
head back from the keyhole, and those slim, tapering fingers, that
in their tips seemed to embody all the human senses, felt over the
lock. Apparently it had been undisturbed; but that was no proof
that Whitey Mack had not been there after finding the metal case.
Whitey Mack was known to be clever with a lock--clever enough for
He slipped in the key, turned it, and, on hinges that were always
oiled, silently pushed the door open and stepped across the
threshold. He closed the door until it was just ajar, that any
sound might reach him from without--and, whipping off his coat,
began to undress swiftly.
There was no light. He dared not use the gas; it might be seen from
the alleyway. He was moving now quickly, surely, silently here and
there. It was like some weird spectre figure, a little blacker than
the surrounding darkness, flitting about the room. The oilcloth in
the corner was turned back, the loose flooring lifted, the clothes
of Jimmie Dale taken out, the rags of Larry the Bat put in. The
minutes flew by. It was not the change of clothing that took long--
it was the eradication of Larry the Bat's make-up from his face,
throat, neck, wrists, and hands. Occasionally his head was turned
in a tense, listening attitude; but always the fingers were busy,
working with swift deftness.
It was done at last. Larry the Bat had vanished, and in his place
stood Jimmie Dale, the young millionaire, the social lion of New
York, immaculate in well-tailored tweeds. He stooped to the hole in
the flooring, and, his fingers going unerringly to their hiding
place, took out a black silk mask and an electric flashlight--his
automatic was already in his possession. His lips parted grimly.
Who knew what part a flashlight might not play--and he would need
the mask for Lannigan's benefit, even if it did not disguise him
from Whitey Mack. Had he left any telltale evidence of his visit?
It was almost worth the risk of a light to make sure. He hesitated,
then shook his head, and, stooping again, carefully replaced the
flooring and laid the oilcloth over it--he dared not show a light at
But now even more caution than before was necessary. At times, the
lodgers had naturally enough seen their fellow lodger, Larry the
Bat, enter and leave the tenement--none had ever seen Jimmie Dale
either leave or enter. He stole across the room to the door, halted
to assure himself that the hall was empty, slipped out into the
hall, and locked the door behind him. Again that trained, long-
practiced, silent tread upon the stairs. It seemed as though an
hour passed before he reached the bottom, and his brain was
shrieking at him to hurry, hurry, HURRY! The entryway at last, the
door, the alleyway, a long breath of relief--and he was on the cross
A step, two, he took in the direction of the Bowery--and he was
bending down as though to tie his shoe, his automatic, from his side
pocket, concealed in his hand. WAS THAT SOME ONE THERE? He could
have sworn he saw a shadow-like form start out from behind the steps
of the house on the opposite side of the street as he had emerged
from the alleyway. In his bent posture, without seemingly turning
his head, his eyes swept sharply up and down the other side of the
ill-lighted street. Nothing! There was not even a pedestrian in
sight on the block from there to the Bowery.
Jimmie Dale straightened up nonchalantly, and stooped almost
instantly again, as though the lace were still proving refractory.
Again that sharp, searching glance. Again--nothing! He went
forward now in apparent unconcern; but his right hand, instead of
being buried in his coat pocket, swung easily at his side.
It was strange! His ineffective ruse to the contrary, he was
certain that he had not been mistaken. Was it Whitey Mack? Was the
question answered? Was the Gray Seal known, too, as Jimmie Dale?
Were they trailing him now, with the climax to come at the club, at
his own palatial home, wherever the surroundings would best lend
themselves to assuaging that inordinate thirst for the sensational
that was so essentially a characteristic of the confirmed criminal?
What a headline in the morning's papers it would make!
At the corner he loitered by the curb to light a cigarette--still
not a soul in sight on either side of the street behind him, except
a couple of Italians who had just passed by. Strange again! The
intuition, if it were only intuition, was still strong. He swung
abruptly on his heel, mingled with the passers-by on the Bowery,
walked a rapid half dozen steps until the building hid the cross
street, then ran across the road to the opposite side of the Bowery,
and, in a crowd now, came back to the corner. He crossed from curb
to curb slowly, sheltered by a fringe of people that, however, in no
way obstructed his view down the side street. And then Jimmie Dale
shrugged his shoulders. He had evidently been mistaken, after all.
He was overexcited; his nerves were raw--that, perhaps, was the
solution. Meanwhile, every minute was counting, if Whitey Mack and
Lannigan should still be at Bristol Bob's.
He kept on down the Bowery, hurrying with growing impatience through
the crowds that massed in front of various places of amusement. He
had not intended to come along the Bowery, and, except for what had
occurred, would have taken a less frequented street. He would turn
off at the next block.
He was in front of that moving-picture theatre again. "THE DOUBLE
LIFE"--his eyes were attracted involuntarily to the lurid, overdone
display. It seemed to threaten him; it seemed to dangle before him
a premonition as it were, of what the morning held in store; but
now, too, it seemed to feed into flame that smouldering fury that
possessed him. His life--or Whitey Mack's! Men, women, and the
children who turned night into day in that quarter of the city were
clustered thick around the signs, hiving like bees to the bald
sensationalism. Almost savagely he began to force his way through
the crowd--and the next instant, like a man stunned, had stopped in
his tracks. His fingers had closed in a fierce, spasmodic clutch
over an envelope that had been thrust suddenly into his hand.
"JIMMIE!" from somewhere came a low, quick voice. "Jimmie, it is
half-past eleven now--HURRY."
He whirled, scanning wildly this face, then that. It was her voice--
HER voice! The Tocsin! The sensitive fingers were telegraphing to
his brain, as they always did, that the texture of the envelope,
too, was hers. Her voice; yes, anywhere, out of a thousand voices,
he would distinguish hers--but her face, he had never seen that.
Which, out of all the crowd around him, was hers? Surely he could
tell her by her dress; she would be different; her personality alone
must single her out. She--
"Say, have youse got de pip, or do youse t'ink youse owns de earth!"
a man flung at him, heaving and pushing to get by.
With a start, though he scarcely heard the man, Jimmie Dale moved
on. His brain was afire. All the irony of the world seemed massed
in a sudden, overwhelming attack upon him. It was useless--
intuitively he had known it was useless from the instant he had
heard her voice. It was always the same--always! For years she had
eluded him like that, come upon him without warning and disappeared,
but leaving always that tangible proof of her existence--a letter,
the call of the Gray Seal to arms. But to-night it was as it had
never been before. It was not alone baffled chagrin now, not alone
the longing, the wild desire to see her face, to look into her eyes--
it was life and death. She had come at the very moment when she,
perhaps alone of all the world, could have pointed the way out, when
life, liberty, everything that was common to them both was at stake,
in deadly peril--and she had gone, ignorant of it all, leaving him
staggered by the very possibility of the succour that was held up
before his eyes only to be snatched away without power of his to
grasp it. His intuition had not been at fault--he had made no
mistake in that shadow across the street from the Sanctuary. It had
been the Tocsin. He had been followed; and it was she who had
followed him, until, in a crowd, she had seized the opportunity of a
moment ago. Though ultimately, perhaps, it changed nothing, it was
a relief in a way to know that it was she, not Whitey Mack, who had
been lurking there; but her persistent, incomprehensible
determination to preserve the mystery with which she surrounded
herself was like now to cost them both a ghastly price. If he could
only have had one word with her--just one word!
The letter in his hand crackled under his clenched fist. He stared
at it in a half-blind, half-bitter way. The call of the Gray Seal
to arms! Another coup, with its incident danger and peril, that she
had planned for him to execute! He could have laughed aloud at the
inhuman mockery of it. The call of the Gray Seal to arms--NOW!
When with every faculty drained to its last resource, cornered,
trapped, he was fighting for his very existence!
"Jimmie, it is half-past eleven now--HURRY!" The words were
jangling discordantly in his brain.
And now he laughed outright, mirthlessly. A young girl hanging on
her escort's arm, passing, glanced at him and giggled. It was a
different Jimmie Dale for the moment. For once his immobility had
forsaken him. He laughed again--a sort of unnatural, desperate
indifference to everything falling upon him. What did it matter,
the moment or two it would take to read the letter? He looked
around him. He was on the corner in front of the Palace Saloon,
and, turning abruptly, he stepped in through the swinging doors. As
Larry the Bat, he knew the place well. At the rear of the barroom
and along the side of the wall were some half dozen little stalls,
partitioned off from each other. Several of these were unoccupied,
and he chose the one farthest from the entrance. It was private
enough; no one would disturb him.
From the aproned individual who presented himself he ordered a
drink. The man returned in a moment, and Jimmie Dale tossed a coin
on the table, bidding the other keep the change. He wanted no
drink; the transaction was wholly perfunctory. The waiter was gone;
he pushed the glass away from him, and tore the envelope open.
A single sheet, closely written on both sides of the paper, was in
his hand. It was her writing; there was no mistaking that, but
every word, every line bore evidence of frantic haste. Even that
customary formula, "dear philanthropic crook," that had prefaced
every line she had ever written him before, had been omitted. His
eyes traversed the first few lines with that strange indifference
that had settled upon him. What, after all, did it matter what it
was; he could do nothing--not even save himself probably. And then,
with a little start, he read the lines over again, muttering
snatches from them.
". . . Max Diestricht--diamonds--the Ross-Logan stones--wedding--
sliding panel in wall of workshop--end of the room near window--ten
boards to the right from side wall--press small knot in the wood in
the centre of the tenth board--to-night . . ."
It brought a sudden thrill of excitement to Jimmie Dale that,
impossible as he would have believed it an instant ago, for the
moment overshadowed the realisation of his own peril. A robbery
such as that, if it were ever accomplished, would stir the country
from end to end; it would set New York by the ears; it would loose
the police in full cry like a pack of bloodhounds with their leashes
slipped. The society columns of the newspapers had been busy for
months featuring the coming marriage of the Ross-Logans' daughter to
one of the country's young merchant princes. The combined fortunes
of the two families would make the young couple the richest in
America. The prospective groom's wedding gift was to be a diamond
necklace of perfectly matched, large stones that would eclipse
anything of the kind in the country. Europe, the foreign markets,
had been literally combed and ransacked to supply the gems. The
stones had arrived in New York the day before, the duty on them
alone amounting to over fifty thousand dollars. All this had
appeared in the papers.
Jimmie Dale's brows drew together in a frown. On just exactly what
percentage the duty was figured he did not know; but it was high
enough on the basis of fifty thousand dollars to assume safely that
the assessed value of the stones was not less than four times that
amount. Two hundred thousand dollars--laid down, a quarter of a
million! Well, why not? In more than one quarter diamonds were
ranked as the soundest kind of an investment. Furthermore, through
personal acquaintance with the "high contracting parties," who were
in his own set, he knew it to be true.
He shrugged his shoulders. The papers, too, had thrown the
limelight on Max Diestricht, who, though for quite a time the
fashion in the social world, had, up to the present, been
comparatively unknown to the average New Yorker. His own knowledge
of Max Diestricht went deeper than the superficial biography
furnished by the newspapers--the old Hollander had done more than
one piece of exquisite jewelry work for him. The old fellow was a
character that beggared description, eccentric to the point of
extravagance, and deaf as a post; but, in craftmanship, a modern
Cellini. He employed no workmen, lived alone over his shop on one
of the lower streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues near Washington
Square--and possessed a splendid contempt for such protective
contrivances as safes and vaults. If his prospective patrons
expostulated on this score before intrusting him with their
valuables, they were at liberty to take their work elsewhere. It
was Max Diestricht who honoured you by accepting the commission; not
you who honoured Max Diestricht by intrusting him with it. "Of what
use is it to me, a safe!" he would exclaim. "It hides nothing; it
only says, 'I am inside; do not look farther; come and get me!'
Yes? It is to explode with the nitro-glycerin--POUF!--and I am deaf
and I hear nothing. It is a foolishness, that"--he had a habit of
prodding at one with a levelled fore-finger--"every night somewhere
they are robbed, and have I been robbed? HEIN, tell me that; have I
It was true. In ten years, though at times having stones and
precious metal aggregating large amounts deposited with him by his
customers, Max Diestricht had never lost so much as the gold
filings. There was a queer smile on Jimmie Dale's lips now. The
knot in the tenth board was significant! Max Diestricht was
scrupulously honest, a genius in originality and conception of
design, a master in the perfection and delicacy of his finished
work--he had been commissioned to design and set the Ross-Logan
The brain works quickly. All this and more had flashed almost
instantaneously through Jimmie Dale's mind. His eyes fell to the
letter again, and he read on. Halfway through, a sudden whiteness
blanched his face, and, following it, a surging tide of red that
mounted to his temples. It dazed him; it seemed to rob him for the
moment of the power of coherent thought. He was wrong; he had not
read aright. It was incredible, dare-devil beyond belief--and yet
in its very audacity lay success. He finished the letter, read it
once more--and his fingers mechanically began to tear it into little
shreds. His brain was in a whirl, a vortex of conflicting emotions.
Had Whitey Mack and Lannigan left Bristol Bob's yet? Where were
they now? Was there time for--this? He was staring at the little
torn scraps of paper in his hand. He thrust them suddenly into his
pocket, and jerked out his watch. It was nearly midnight. The
broad, muscular shoulders seemed to square back curiously, the jaws
to clamp a little, the face to harden and grow cold until it was
like stone. With a swift movement he emptied his glass into the
cuspidor, set the glass back on the table, and stepped out from the
stall. His destination was Max Diestricht's.
The Palace Saloon was near the upper end of the Bowery, and, failing
a taxicab, of which none was in sight, his quickest method was to
walk, and he started briskly forward. It was not far; and it was
barely ten minutes from the time he had left the Palace Saloon when
he swung through Washington Square to Fifth Avenue, and, a moment
later, turned from that thoroughfare, heading west toward Sixth
Avenue, along one of those streets which, with the city's northward
trend, had quite lost any distinctive identity, and from being once
a modestly fashionable residential section had now become a
conglomerate potpourri of small tradesmen's stores, shops and
apartments of the poorer class. He knew Max Diestricht's--he could
well have done without the aid of the arc lamp which, even if dimly,
indicated that low, almost tumble-down, two-story structure tucked
away between the taller buildings on either side that almost
engulfed it. It was late. The street was quiet. The shops and
stores had long since been closed, Max Diestricht's among them--the
old Hollanders' name in painted white letters stood out against the
background of a darkened workshop window. In the story above, the
lights, too, were out; Max Diestricht was probably fast asleep--and
he was stone deaf!
A glance up and down the street, and Jimmie Dale was standing, or,
rather, leaning against Max Diestricht's door. There was no one to
see, and if there were, what was there to attract attention to a man
standing nonchalantly for a moment in a doorway? It was only for a
moment. Those master fingers of Jimmie Dale were working surely,
swiftly, silently. A little steel instrument that was never out of
his possession was in the lock and out again. The door opened,
closed; he drew the black silk mask from his pocket and slipped it
over his face. Immediately in front of him the stairs led upward;
immediately to his right was the door into the shop--the modest
street entrance was common to both.
The door into the workshop was not locked. He opened it, stepped
inside, and closed it quietly behind him. The place was in
blackness. He stood for a moment silent, straining his ears to
catch the slightest sound, reconstructing the plan of his
surroundings in his mind as he remembered it. It was a narrow,
oblong room, running the entire depth of the building, a very long
room, blank walls on either side, a window in the middle of the rear
wall that gave on a back yard, and from the back yard there was
access to the lane; also, as he remembered the place, it was a riot
of disorder, with workbenches and odds and ends strewn without
system or reason in every direction--one had need of care to
negotiate it in the dark. He took his flashlight from his pocket,
and, preliminary to a more intimate acquaintance with the interior,
glanced out through the front window near which he stood--and, with
a suppressed cry, shrank back instinctively against the wall.
Two men were crossing the street, heading directly for the shop
door. The arc lamp lighted up their faces. IT WAS INSPECTOR
LANNIGAN OF HEADQUARTERS AND WHITEY MACK! The quick intake of
Jimmie Dale breath was sucked through clenched teeth. They were
close on his heels then--far closer than he had imagined. It would
take Whitey Mack scarcely any longer to open that front door than it
had taken him. Close on his heels! His face was rigid. He could
hear them now at the door. The flashlight in his hand winked down
the length of the room. If was a dangerous thing to do, but it was
still more dangerous to stumble into some object and make a noise.
He darted forward, circuiting a workbench, a stool, a small hand
forge. Again the flashlight gleamed. Against the side wall, near
the rear, was another workbench, with a sort of coarse canvas
curtain hanging part way down in front of it, evidently to protect
such things as might be stored away beneath it from dust, and Jimmie
Dale sprang for it, whipped back the canvas, and crawled underneath.
He was not an instant too soon. As the canvas fell back into place,
the shop door opened, closed, and the two men had stepped inside.
Whitey Mack's voice, in a low whisper though it was, seemed to echo
raucously through the shop.
"Mabbe we'll have a sweet wait, but I got the straight dope on this.
He's going to make a try for Dutchy's sparklers to-night. We'll let
him go the limit, and we don't either of us make a move till he's
pinched them, and then we get him with the goods on him. He can't
get away; he hasn't a hope! There's only two ways of getting in
here or getting out--this door and window here, and a window that's
down there at the back. You guard this, and I'll take care of the
other end. Savvy?"
"Right!" Lannigan answered grimly. "Go ahead!"
There was the sound of footsteps moving forward, then a vicious
bump, the scraping of some object along the floor, and a muffled
curse from Whitey Mack.
"Use your flashlight!" advised the inspector, in a guarded voice.
"I haven't got one, damn it!", growled Whitey Mack. "It's all
right. I'll get along."
Again the steps, but more warily now, as though the man were
cautiously feeling ahead of him for possible obstacles. Jimmie Dale
for a moment held his breath. He could have reached out and touched
the man as the other passed. Whitey Mack went on until he had taken
up a position against the rear wall. Jimmie Dale heard him as he
brushed against it.
Then silence fell. He was between them now. Stretched full length
on the floor, Jimmie Dale raised the lower portion of the canvas
away from in front of his face. He could see nothing; the place was
in Stygian blackness; but it had been close and stifling, and, at
least, it gave him more air.
The minutes dragged by--each more interminable than the one that had
gone before. Not a movement, not a sound, and then, through the
stillness, very faint at first, came the regular, repressed
breathing of Whitey Mack, who was much the nearer of the two men.
And, once noticeable, almost imperceptible as it was it seemed to
pervade the room and fill it with a strange, ominous resonance that
rose and fell until the blackness palpitated with it.
Slowly, very slowly, Jimmie Dale's hand crept into his pocket--and
crept out again with his automatic. He lay motionless once more.
Time in any concrete sense ceased to exist. Fancied shapes began to
assume form in the darkness. By the door, Lannigan stirred
uneasily, shifting his position slightly.
Was it hours--was it only minutes? It seemed to ring through the
nerve-racking stillness like the shriek of a hurtling shell--and it
was only a whisper.
"Watch yourself, Lannigan," whispered Whitey Mack. "He's coming now
through the yard! Don't move till I start something. Let him get
his paws on the sparklers."
Silence again. And then a low rasping at the window, like the
gnawing of a rat; then, inch by inch, the sash was lifted. There
was the sound as of a body forcing its way over the sill cautiously,
then a step upon the floor inside, another, and still another. The
figure of a man loomed up suddenly against the glow of a flashlight
as he threw the round, white ray inquisitively here and there over
the rear wall. And now he appeared to be counting the boards. One,
two, three--ten. His hand ran up and down the tenth board. Again
and again he repeated the operation, and something like the snarl of
a baited beast echoed through the room. He half turned to snatch at
something in his pocket, and the light for a moment showed a black-
bearded, lowering face, partially hidden by a peaked cap that was
pulled far down over his eyes.
There was the rip and tear of rending wood, as a steel jimmy, in
lieu of the spring the man evidently could not find, bit in between
the boards, a muttered oath of satisfaction, and a portion of the
wall slid back, disclosing what looked like a metal-lined cupboard.
He reached in, seized one of a dozen little boxes, and wrenched off
the cover. A blue, scintillating gleam seemed to leap out to meet
the white ray of the flashlight. The man chuckled hoarsely, and
began to cram the rest of the boxes into his pockets.
Jimmie Dale stirred. On hands and knees he was creeping now from
beneath the workbench. Something caught and tore behind him--the
canvas curtain. And at the sound, with a sharp cry, the man at the
wall whirled, the light went out, and he sprang toward the window.
Jimmie Dale gained his feet and leaped forward. A revolver shot cut
a lane of fire through the blackness; and, above the roar of the
report, Whitey Mack's voice in a fierce yell:
"It's all right, Lannigan! I got him! No--HELL!" There was a
terrific crash of breaking glass. "He's got away!"
"Not yet, he hasn't!" gritted Jimmie Dale between his teeth, and his
clubbed revolver swung crashing to the head of a dark form in front
There was a half sigh, half moan. The form slid limply to the
floor. Lannigan was floundering down the shop, leaping obstacles in
a mad rush, his flashlight picking out the way.
Jimmie Dale stepped swiftly backward, and his hand groped out for
the droplight, over the end of the bench, that he had knocked
against in his own rush. His fingers clutched it--and the lower end
of the shop was flooded with light. Except for his felt hat that
lay a little distance away, there was no sign of Whitey Mack; the
huddled form of the man, who but a moment since had chuckled as he
pocketed old Max Diestricht's gems, lay sprawled, inert, upon the
floor, and Lannigan was staring into the muzzle of Jimmie Dale's
"Drop that gun, Lannigan!" said Jimmie Dale coolly. "And I'll
trouble you not to make a noise; it might attract attention from the
street; there's been too much already. DROP THAT GUN!"
The revolver clattered from Lannigan's hand to the floor. A step
forward, and Jimmie Dale's toe sent it spinning under a bench.
Another step, and, his revolver still covering the other, he had
whipped a pair of handcuffs from the officer's side pocket.
Lannigan, as though the thought had never occurred to him, offered
no resistance. He was staring in a dazed sort of way back and forth
from Jimmie Dale to the man on the floor.
"What's this mean?" he burst out suddenly, "Where's--"
"Your wrist, please!" requested Jimmie Dale pleasantly. "No--the
left one. Thank you"--as the handcuff snapped shut. "Now go over
there and sit down on the floor beside that fellow. QUICK!" Jimmie
Dale's voice rasped suddenly, imperatively.
Still bewildered, but a little sullen now, Lannigan obeyed. Jimmie
Dale stooped quickly, and snapped the other link of the handcuff
over the unconscious man's right wrist.
Jimmie Dale smiled.
"That's the approved way of taking your man, isn't it? Left wrist
to the prisoner's right. He's only stunned; he'll be around in a
moment. Know him?"
Lannigan shook his head.
"Take a good look at him," invited Jimmie Dale. "You ought to know
most of them in the business."
Lannigan bent over a little closer, and then, with an amazed cry,
his free hand shot forward and tore away the other's beard.
IT WAS WHITEY MACK!
"My God!" gasped Lannigan.
"Quite so!" said Jimmie Dale evenly. "You'll find the diamonds in
his pockets, and, excuse me"--his fingers were running through
Whitey Mack's clothes--"ah, here it is"--the thin metal case was in
his hand--"a little article that belongs to me, and whose loss, I am
free to admit, caused me considerable concern until I was informed
that he had only found it without having the slightest idea as to
whom it belonged. It made quite a difference!" He had opened the
case carelessly before Lannigan's eyes. "'The Gray Seal!' I'll say
it for you," said Jimmie Dale whimsically. "This is what probably
put the idea into his head, after first, in some way, having
discovered old Max Diestricht's hiding place; and, if I had given
him time enough, he would probably have stuck one of these seals, in
clumsy imitation of that little eccentricity of mine, on the wall
over there to stamp the job as genuine. You begin to get it, don't
you Lannigan? Pretty sure-fire as an alibi, eh? And he'd have got
away with it, too, as far as you were concerned. He had only to
fire that shot, smash the window, tuck his false beard, mustache,
and peaked cap into his pocket, put on his own hat that you see
there on the floor--and yell that the man had escaped. He'd help
you chase the thief, too! Rather neat, don't you think, Lannigan?
And worth the risk, too, considering the howl that would go up at
the theft of those stones, and that, known as the slickest diamond
thief in the country, he would be the first to be suspected--except
that the police themselves, in the person of Inspector Lannigan of
headquarters, would be prepared to prove a perfectly good alibi for
Lannigan's head was thrust forward; his eyes, hard, were riveted on
"My God!" he said again under his breath. Then fiercely: "He'll get
his for this!"
It was a moment before Jimmie Dale spoke; he was musingly examining
the automatic in his hand.
"I am going now, Lannigan," he observed quietly. "I require, say,
fifteen minutes in which to effect my escape. It is, of course,
obvious that an alarm raised by you might prove extremely awkward,
but a piece of canvas from that bench there, together with a bit of
string, would make a most effective gag. I prefer, however, not to
submit you to that indignity. Instead, I offer you the alternative
of giving me your word to remain quietly where you are for--fifteen
Jimmie Dale smiled.
"I agree," said Lannigan shortly.
Jimmie Dale stepped back. The electric-light switch clicked. The
place was in darkness. There was a moment, two, of utter stillness;
then softly, from the front end of the shop, a whisper:
"If I were you, Lannigan, I'd take that gun from Whitey's pocket
before he comes round and beats you to it."
And the door had closed silently behind Jimmie Dale.
In the subway, ten minutes before, a freckled-faced messenger boy
had squeezed himself into a seat beside Jimmie Dale, yanked a dime
novel from a refractory pocket, and, blissfully lost to all the
world, had buried his head in its pages. Jimmie Dale's glance at
the youngster had equally, perforce, embraced the lurid title of the
thriller, "Dicing with Death," so imperturbably thrust under his
nose. At the time, he had smiled indulgently; but now, as he left
the subway and headed for his home on Riverside Drive, the words not
only refused to be ignored, but had resolved themselves into a
curiously persistent refrain in his mind. They were exactly what
they purported to be, dime-novelish, of the deepest hue of yellow,
melodramatic in the extreme; but also, to him now, they were grimly
apt and premonitorily appropriate. "Dicing with Death"--there was
not an hour, not a moment in the day, when he was not literally
dicing with death; when, with the underworld and the police allied
against him, a single false move would lose him the throw that left
death the winner!
The risk of the dual life enforced upon him grew daily greater, and
in the end there must be the reckoning. He would have been a madman
to have shut his eyes in the face of what was obvious--but it was
worth it all, and in his soul he knew that he would not have had it
otherwise even now. To-night, to-morrow, the day after, would come
another letter from the Tocsin, and there would be another "crime"
of the Gray Seal's blazoned in the press--would that be the last
affair, or would there be another--or to-night, to-morrow, the day
after, would he be trapped before even one more letter came!
He shrugged his shoulders, as he ran up the steps of his house.
Those were the stakes that he himself had laid on the table to wager
upon the game, he had no quarrel there; but if only, before the end
came, or even with the end itself, he could find--HER!
With his latchkey he let himself into the spacious, richly
furnished, well-lighted reception hall, and, crossing this, went up
the broad staircase, his steps noiseless on the heavy carpet.
Below, faintly, he could hear some of the servants--they evidently
had not heard him close the door behind him. Discipline was relaxed
somewhat, it was quite apparent, with Jason, that peer of butlers,
away. Jason, poor chap, was in the hospital. Typhoid, they had
thought it at first, though it had turned out to be some milder form
of infection. He would be back in a few days now; but meanwhile he
missed the old man sorely from the house.
He reached the landing, and, turning, went along the hall to the
door of his own particular den, opened the door, closed it behind
him--and in an instant the keen, agile brain, trained to the little
things that never escaped it, that daily held his life in the
balance, was alert. The room was unusually dark, even for night-
time. It was as though the window shades had been closely drawn--a
thing Jason never did. But then Jason wasn't there! Jimmie Dale,
smiling then a little quizzically at himself, reached up for the
electric-light switch beside the door, pressed it--and, his finger
still on the button, whipped his automatic from his pocket with his
other hand. THE ROOM WAS STILL IN DARKNESS.
The smile on Jimmie Dale's lips was gone, for his lips now had
closed together in a tight, drawn line. The lights in the rest of
the house, as witness the reception hall, were in order. This was
no ACCIDENT! Silent, motionless, he stood there, listening. Was he
trapped at last--in his own house! By whom? The police? The thugs
of the underworld? It made little difference--the end would differ
only in the method by which it was attained! What was that! Was
there a slight stir, a movement at the lower end of the room--or was
it his imagination? His hand fell from the electric-light switch to
the doorknob behind his back. Slowly, without a sound, it began to
turn under his slim, tapering fingers, whose deft, sensitive touch
had made him known and feared as the master cracksman of them all;
and, as noiselessly, the door began to open.
It was like a duel--a duel of silence. What was the intruder,
whoever he might be, waiting for? The abortive click of the
electric-light switch, to say nothing of the opening of the door
when he had entered, was evidence enough that he was there. Was the
other trying to place him exactly through the darkness to make sure
of his attack! The door was open now. And suddenly Jimmie Dale
laughed easily aloud--and on the instant shifted his position.
"Well?" inquired Jimmie Dale coolly from the other side of the
It seemed like a long-drawn sigh fluttering through the room, a gasp
of relief--and then the blood was pounding madly at his temples, and
he was back in the room again, the door closed once more behind him.
"Oh, Jimmie--why didn't you speak? I had to be sure that it was
It was her voice! HERS! The Tocsin! HERE! She was here--here in
"You!" he cried. "You--here!" He was pressing the electric-light
switch frantically, again and again.
Her voice came out of the darkness from across the room:
"Why are you doing that, Jimmie? You know already that I have
turned off the lights."
"At the sockets--of course!" He laughed out the words almost
hysterically. "Your face--I have never seen your face, you know."
He was moving quickly toward the reading lamp on his desk.
There was a quick, hurried swish of garments, and she was blocking
"No," she said, in a low voice; "you must not light that lamp."
He laughed again, shortly, fiercely now. She was close to him, his
hands reached out for her, touched her, and thrilling at the touch,
swept her toward him.
"Jimmie--Jimmie--are you mad!" she breathed.
Mad! Yes--he was mad with the wildest, most passionate exhilaration
he had ever known. He found his voice with an effort.
"These months and years that I have tried until my soul was sick to
find you!" he cried out. "And you are here now! Your face--I must
see your face!"
She had wrenched herself away from him. He could hear her breath
coming sharply in little gasps. He groped his way onward toward the
"WAIT!"--her tones seemed to ring suddenly vibrant through the room.
"Wait, before you touch that lamp! I--I put you on your honour not
to light it."
He stopped abruptly.
"My--honour?" he repeated mechanically.
"Yes! I came here to-night because there was no other way. No
other way--do you understand? I came, trusting to your honour not
to take advantage of the conditions that forced me to do this. I
had no fear that I was wrong--I have no fear now. You will not
light that lamp, and you will not make any attempt to prevent my
going away as I came--unknown. Is there any question about it,
Jimmie? I am in YOUR house."
"You don't know what you are saying!" he burst out wildly. "I've
risked my life for a chance like this again and again; I've gone
through hell, living in squalour for a month on end as Larry the Bat
in the hope that I might discover who you are--and do you think I'll
let anything stop me now! I tell you, no--a thousand times no!"
She made no answer. There was only her low, quick breathing coming
from somewhere near him. He made another step toward the lamp--and
"I tell you, no!" he said again, and took another step forward--and
stopped once more.
Still she made no answer. A minute passed--another. His hand
lifted and swept across his forehead in an agitated way. Still
silence. She neither moved nor spoke. His hand dropped slowly to
his side. There was a queer, twisted smile upon his lips.
"You win!" he said hoarsely.
"Thank you, Jimmie," she said simply.
"And your name, who you are"--he was speaking, but he did not seem
to recognise his own voice--"the hundred other things I've sworn I'd
make you explain when I found you, are all taboo as well, I
"Yes," she said.
He laughed bitterly.
"Don't you know," he cried out, "that between the police and the
underworld, our house of cards is likely to collapse at any minute--
that they are hunting the Gray Seal day and night! Is it to be
always like this--that I am never to know--until it is too late!
She came toward him out of the darkness impulsively.
"They will never get you, Jimmie," she said, in a suppressed voice.
And some day, I promise you now, you shall have your reward for to-
night. You shall know--everything."
"When?" The word came from him with fierce eagerness.
"I do not know," she answered gently. "Soon, perhaps--perhaps
sooner than either of us imagine."
"And by that you mean--what?" he asked, and his hand reached out for
her again through the blackness.
This time she did not draw away. There was an instant's hesitation;
then she spoke again hurriedly, a note of anxiety in her voice.
"You are beginning all over again, aren't you, Jimmie? And I have
told you that to-night I can explain nothing. And, besides, it is
what has brought me here that counts now, and every moment is of--"
"Yes. I know," he interposed; "but, then, at least you will tell me
one thing: Why did you come to-night, instead of sending me a letter
as you always have before?"
"Because it is different to-night than it ever was before," she
replied earnestly. "Because there is something in what has happened
that I cannot explain myself; because there is danger, and where I
could not see clearly I feared a trap, and so I dared not send what,
in a letter, could at best be only vague and incomplete details. Do
"Yes," said Jimmie Dale--but he was only listening in an abstracted
way. If he could only see that face, so close to his! He had
yearned for that with all his soul for years now! And she was here,
standing beside him, and his hand was upon her arm; and here, in his
own den, in his own house, he was listening to another call to arms
for the Gray Seal from her own lips! Honour! Was he but a poor,
quixotic fool! He had only to step to the desk and switch on the
light! Why should--he steadied himself with a jerk, and drew away
his hand. She was in HIS house. "Go on," he said tersely.
"Do you know, or did you ever hear of old Luther Doyle?" she asked.
"No," said Jimmie Dale.
"Do you know a man, then, named Connie Myers?"
Connie Myers! Who in the Bad Lands did not know Connie Myers, who
boasted of the half dozen prison sentences already to his credit?
Yes; he knew Connie Myers! But, strangely enough, it was not in the
Bad Lands or as Larry the Bat that he knew the man, or that the
other knew him--it was as Jimmie Dale. Connie Myers had introduced
himself one night several years ago with a blackjack that had just
missed its mark as the man had jumped out from a dark alleyway on
the East Side, and he, Jimmie Dale, had thrashed the other to within
an inch of his life. He had reason to know Connie Myers--and Connie
Myers had reason to remember him!
"Yes," he said, with a grim smile; "I know Connie Myers."
"And the tenement across the street from where you live as Larry the
Bat--that, of course, you know." He leaned toward her wonderingly
"Of course!" he ejaculated. "Naturally!"
"Listen, then, Jimmie!" She was speaking quickly now. "It is a
strange story. This Luther Doyle was already over fifty, when, some
eight or nine years ago, his parents died within a few months of
each other, and he inherited somewhere in the neighbourhood of a
hundred thousand dollars; but the man, though harmless enough, was
mildly insane, half-witted, queer, and the old couple, on account of
their son's mental defects, took care to leave the money securely
invested, and so that he could only touch the interest. During
these eight or nine years he has lived by himself in the same old
family house where he had lived with his parents, in a lonely spot
near Pelham. And he has lived in a most frugal, even miserly,
manner. His income could not have been less than six thousand
dollars a year, and his expenditures could not have been more than
six hundred. His dementia, ironically enough from the day that he
came into his fortune, took the form of a most pitiable and abject
fear that he would die in poverty, misery, and want; and so, year
after year, cashing his checks as fast as he got them, never
trusting the bank with a penny, he kept hiding away somewhere in his
house every cent he could scrape and save from his income--which to-
day must amount, at a minimum calculation, to fifty thousand
"And," observed Jimmie Dale quietly. "Connie Myers robbed him of
"No!" Her voice was quivering with passion, as she caught up his
words. "Twice in the last month Connie Myers TRIED to rob him, but
the money was too securely hidden. Twice he broke into Doyle's
house when the old man was out, but on both occasions was
unsuccessful in his search, and was interrupted and forced to make
his escape on account of Doyle's return. To-night, an hour ago, in
an empty room on the second floor of that tenement, in the room
facing the landing, old Luther Doyle was MURDERED!"
There was silence for an instant. Her hand had closed in a tight
pressure on his arm. The darkness seemed to add a sort of ghastly
significance to her words.
"In God's name, how do you know all this?" he demanded wildly. "How
do you know all these things?
"Does that matter now?" she answered tensely. "You will know that
when you know the rest. Oh, don't you understand, Jimmie, there is
not a moment to lose now? It was easy to lure a half-witted
creature like that anywhere; it was Connie Myers who lured him to
the tenement and murdered him there--but from that point, Jimmie, I
am not sure of our ground. I do not know whether Connie Myers is
alone in this or not; but I do know that he is going to Doyle's
house again to-night to make another search for the money. There is
no question but that old Doyle was murdered to give Connie Myers and
his accomplices, if there are any, a chance to tear the house inside
out to find the money, to give them the whole night to work in
without interruption if necessary--but Doyle dead in his own house
could have interfered no more with them than Doyle dead in that
tenement! Why was he lured to the tenement by Connie Myers when he
could much more easily have been put out of the way in his own
house? Jimmie, there is something behind this, something more that
you must find out. There may be others in this besides Connie
Myers, I do not know; but there is something here that I am afraid
of. Jimmie, you must get that man, you must get the others if there
are others, and you must stop them from getting the money in that
house to-night! Do you understand now why I have come here? I
could not explain in a letter; I do not quite seem to be explaining
now. It would seem as though there were no need for the Gray Seal--
that simply the police should be notified. But I KNOW, Jimmie, call
it intuition, what you will, I know that there is need for us, for
you to-night--that behind all this is a tragedy, deeper, blacker,
than even the brutal, cold-blooded murder that is already done."
Her voice, in its passionate earnestness, died away; and an anger,
cold, grim, remorseless, settled upon Jimmie Dale--settled as it
always settled upon him at her call to arms. His brain was already
at work in its quick, instant way, probing, sifting, planning. She
was right! It was strange, it was more than strange that, with the
added risk, the danger, the difficulty, the man should have been
brought miles to be done away with in that tenement! Why? Connie
Myers took form before him--the coarse features, the tawny hair that
straggled across the low forehead, the shifty eyes that were an
indeterminate colour between brown and gray, the thin lips that
seemed to draw in and give the jaw a protruding, belligerent effect.
And Connie Myers knew him as Jimmie Dale--it would have to be then
as Larry the Bat that the Gray Seal must work. That meant time--to
go to the Sanctuary and change.
"The police," he asked suddenly, aloud, "they have not yet
discovered the body?"
"Not yet," she replied hurriedly. "And that is still another reason
for haste--there is no telling when they will. See--here!" She
thrust a paper into his hand. "Here is a plan of old Doyle's house,
and directions for finding it. You must get Connie Myers red-
handed, you must make him convict himself, for the evidence through
which I know him to be guilty can never be used against him. And,
Jimmie, be careful--I know I am not wrong, that there is still
something more behind all this. And now go, Jimmie, go! There is
no time to lose!" She was pushing him across the room toward the
Go! The word seemed suddenly to bring dismay. It was she again who
was dominant now in his mind. Who knew if to-night, when he was
taking his life in his hands again, would not be the last! And she
was here now, here beside him--where she might never be again!
She seemed to divine his thoughts, for she spoke again, a strange
new note of tenderness in her voice that thrilled him.
"You must never let them get you, Jimmie--for my sake. It will not
last much longer--it is near the end--and I shall keep my promise.
But go, now, Jimmie--go!"
"Go?" he repeated numbly. "Go? But--but you?"
"I?" She slipped suddenly away from him, retreating back down the
room. "I will go--as I came."
"Wait! Listen!" he pleaded.
There was no answer.
She was there--somewhere back there in the darkness still. He stood
hesitant at the door. It seemed that every faculty he possessed
urged him back there again--to her. Could he let her escape him now
when she was so utterly in his power, she who meant everything in
his life! And then, like a cold shock, came that other thought--she
who had trusted to his honour! With a jerk, his hand swept out,
felt for the doorknob, and closed upon it.
"Good-night!" he said heavily, and stepped out into the hall.
It seemed for a while, even after he had gained the street and made
his way again to the subway, that nothing was concrete around him,
that he was living through some fantastical dream. His head
whirled, and he could not think rationally--and then slowly, little
by little, his grip upon himself came back. She had come--and gone!
With the roar of the subway in his ears, its raucous note seeming to
strike so perfectly in consonance with the turmoil within him, he
smiled mirthlessly. After all, it was as it always was! She was
gone--and ahead of him lay the chances of the night!
"Dicing with death!" The words, unbidden, came back once more. If
they were true before, they were doubly applicable now. It was
different to-night from what it had ever been before, as she had
said. Usually, to the smallest detail, everything was laid open,
clear before him in those astounding letters. To-night, it was
vague at best. A man had been murdered. Connie Myers had committed
the murder under circumstances that pointed strongly to some hidden
motive behind and beyond the mere chance it afforded him to search
his victim's house for the hidden cash. What was it?
Jimmie Dale stared out at the black subway walls. The answer would
not come. Station after station passed. At Fourteenth Street he
changed from the express to a local, got out at Astor Place, and a
few minutes later was walking rapidly down the upper end of the
The answer would not come--only the fact itself grew more and more
deeply significant. The ghastly, callous fiendishness that lured an
old, half-witted man to his death had Jimmie Dale in that grip of
cold, merciless anger again, and there was a dull flush now upon his
cheeks. Whatever it meant, whatever was behind it, one thing at
least was certain--HE WOULD GET CONNIE MYERS!
He was close to the Sanctuary now--it was down the next cross
street. He reached the corner and turned it, heading east; but his
brisk walk had changed to a nonchalant saunter--there were some
people coming toward him. It was the Gray Seal now, alert and
cautious. The little group passed by. Ahead, the tenement
bordering on the black alleyway loomed up--the Sanctuary, with its
three entrances and exits; the home of Larry the Bat. And across
from it was that other tenement, that held a new interest for him
now, where, in an empty room on the second floor, she had said, old
Doyle still lay. Should he go there? He was thinking quickly now,
and shook his head. It would take what he did not have to spare--
time. It was already ten o'clock; and, granted that Connie Myers
had committed the crime only a little over an hour ago, the man by
this time would certainly be on his way to Doyle's house near
Pelham, if, indeed, he were not already there. No, there was no
time to spare--the question resolved itself simply into how long,
since he had already searched twice and failed on both occasions, it
would take Connie Myers to unearth old Doyle's hiding place for the
Jimmie Dale glanced sharply around him, slipped into the alleyway,
and, crouching against the tenement wall, moved noiselessly along to
the side entrance. A moment more, and he had negotiated the rickety
stairs with practiced, soundless tread, was inside the squalid
quarters of Larry the Bat, and the door of the Sanctuary was locked
and bolted behind him.
Perhaps five minutes passed--and then, where Jimmie Dale, the
millionaire, had entered, there emerged Larry the Bat, of the
aristocracy and the elite of the Bad Lands. But instead of leaving
by the side door and the alleyway, as he had entered, he went along
the lower hallway to the front entrance. And here, instinctively,
he paused a moment at the top of the steps, as his eyes rested upon
the tenement on the opposite side of the street.
It was strange that the crime should have been committed there!
Something again seemed to draw him toward that empty room on the
second story. He had decided once that he would not go, that there
was not time; but, after all, it would not take long, and there was
at least the possibility of gaining something more valuable even
than time from the scene of the crime itself--there might even be
the evidence he wanted there that would disclose the whole of Connie
He went down the steps, and started across the street; but halfway
over, he hesitated uncertainly, as a child's cry came petulantly
from the doorway. It was dark in the street; and, likewise, it was
one of those hot, suffocating evenings when, in the crowded
tenements of the poorer class, miserable enough in any case, misery
was added to a hundredfold for lack of a single God-given breath of
air. These two facts, apparently irrelevant, caused Jimmie Dale to
change his mind again. He had not noticed the woman with the baby
in her arms, sitting on the doorstep; but now, as he reached the
curb, he not only saw, but recognised her--and he swung on down the
street toward the Bowery. He could not very well go in without
passing her, without being recognised himself--and that was a
He smiled a little wanly. Once the crime was discovered, she would
not have hesitated long before informing the police that she had
seen him enter there! Mrs. Hagan was no friend of his! One could
not live as he had lived, as Larry the Bat, and not see something in
an intimate way of the pitiful little tragedies of the poor around
him; for, bad, tough, and dissolute as the quarter was, all were not
degraded there, some were simply--poor. Mrs. Hagan was poor. Her
husband was a day labourer, often out of a job--and sometimes he
drank. That was how he, Jimmie Dale, or rather, Larry the Bat, had
come to earn Mrs. Hagan's enmity. He had found Mike Hagan drunk one
night, and in the act of being arrested, and had wheedled the man
away from the officer on the promise that he would take Hagan home.
And he was Larry the Bat, a dope fiend, a character known to all the
neighbourhood, and Mrs. Hagan had laid her husband's condition to
HIS influence and companionship! He had taken Mike Hagan home--and
Mrs. Hagan had driven Larry the Bat from the door of her miserable
one-room lodging in that tenement with the bitter words on her
tongue that only a woman can use when shame and grief and anger are
breaking her heart.
He shrugged his shoulders, as, back along the Bowery, he retraced
his steps, but now, with the hurried shuffle of Larry the Bat where
before had been the brisk, athletic stride of Jimmie Dale.
At Astor Place again, he took the subway, this time to the Grand
Central Station--and, well within an hour from the time he had left
the Sanctuary, including the train journey to Pelham, he was
standing in a clump of trees that fringed a deserted roadway. He
had passed but few houses, once he was away from Pelham, and, as
well as he could judge, there was none now within a quarter of a
mile of him--except this one of old Luther Doyle's that showed up
black and shadowy just beyond the trees.
Jimmie Dale's eyes narrowed as he surveyed the place. It was little
wonder that, known to have money, an attempt to rob old Doyle should
have been made in a place like this! It was even more grimly
significant than ever of some deeper meaning that, in its loneliness
an ideal place for a murder, the man should have been lured from
there for that purpose to a crowded tenement in the city instead!
What did it mean? Why had it been done? He shook his head. The
answer would not come now any more than it had come before in the
subway, or in the train on the way out, when he had set his brain so
futilely to solve the problem.
From a survey of the house, Jimmie Dale gave attention to the
details of his surroundings: the trees on either side; the open
space in front, a distance of fifty yards to the road; the absence
of any fence. And then, abruptly, he stole forward. There was no
light to be seen anywhere about the house. Was it possible that
Connie Myers was not yet there? He shook his head again
impatiently. Connie Myers would not have wasted any time--as the
Tocsin had said, there was always present the possibility that the
crime in that tenement might be discovered at ANY moment. Connie
Myers would have lost no time; for, let the discovery be made, let
the police identify the body, as they most certainly would, and they
would be out here hotfoot. Jimmie Dale stood suddenly still. What
did it mean! He had not thought of that before! If old Doyle had
been murdered HERE, there would not have been even the possibility
of discovery until the morning at the earliest, and Connie Myers
would have had all the time he wanted!
WHAT WAS THAT SOUND! A low, muffled tapping, like a succession of
hammer blows, came from within the house. Jimmie Dale darted
forward, reached the side of the house, and dropped on hands and
knees. One question at least was answered--Connie Myers was inside.
The plan that she had given him showed an old-fashioned cellarway,
closed by folding trapdoors, that was located a little toward the
rear and, in a moment, creeping along, he came upon it. His hands
felt over it. It was shut, fastened by a padlock on the outside.
Jimmie Dale's lips thinned a little, as he took a small steel
instrument from his pocket. Either through inadvertence or by
intention, Connie Myers had passed up an almost childishly simple
means of entrance into the house! One side of the trapdoor was
lifted up silently--and silently closed. Jimmie Dale was in the
cellar. The hammering, much more distinct now, heavy, thudding
blows, came from a room in the front--the connection between the
cellar and the house, as shown on the Tocsin's plan, was through
another trapdoor in the floor of the kitchen.
Jimmie Dale's flashlight played on a short, ladderlike stairway, and
in an instant he was climbing upward. The sounds from the front of
the house continued now without interruption; there was little fear
that Connie Myers would hear anything else--even the protesting
squeak of the hinges as Jimmie Dale cautiously pushed back the
trapdoor in the flooring above his head. An inch, two inches he
lifted it; and, his eyes on a level with the opening now, he peered
into the room. The kitchen itself was intensely dark; but through
an open doorway, well to one side so that he could not see into the
room beyond, there struggled a curiously faint, dim glimmer of
light. And then Jimmie Dale's form straightened rigidly on the
stairs. The blows stopped, and a voice, in a low growl, presumably
Connie Myers', reached him.
"Here, take a drive at it from the lower edge!"
There was no answer--save that the blows were resumed again. Jimmie
Dale's face had set hard. Connie Myers was not alone in this, then!
Well, the odds were a little heavier, DOUBLED--that was all! He
pushed the trapdoor wide open, swung himself up through the opening
to the floor; and the next instant, back a little from the
connecting doorway, his body pressed closely against the kitchen
wall, he was staring, bewildered and amazed, into the next room.
On the floor, presumably to lessen the chance of any light rays
stealing through the tightly drawn window shades, burned a small oil
lamp. The place was in utter confusion. The right-hand side of a
large fireplace, made of rough, untrimmed stone and cement, and
which occupied almost the entire end of the room, was already
practically demolished, and the wreckage was littered everywhere;
part of the furniture was piled unceremoniously into one corner out
of the way; and at the fireplace itself, working with sledge and
bar, were two men. One was Connie Myers. An ironical glint crept
into Jimmie Dale's eyes. The false beard and mustache the man wore
would deceive no one who knew Connie Myers! And that he should be
wearing them now, as he knelt holding the bar while the other struck
at it, seemed both uncalled for and absurd. The other man, heavily
built, roughly dressed, had his back turned, and Jimmie Dale could
not see his face.
The puzzled frown on Jimmie Dale's forehead deepened. Somewhere in
the masonry of the fireplace, of course, was where old Luther Doyle
had hidden his money. That was quite plain enough; and that Connie
Myers, in some way or other, had made sure of that fact was equally
obvious. But how did old Luther Doyle get his money IN there from
time to time, as he received the interest and dividends whose
accumulation, according to the Tocsin, comprised his hoard! And how
did he get it OUT again?
"All right, that'll do!" grunted Connie Myers suddenly. "We can pry
this one out now. Lend a hand on the bar!"
The other dropped his sledge, turned sideways as he stooped to help
Connie Myers, his face came into view--and, with an involuntary
start, Jimmie Dale crouched farther back against the wall, as he
stared at the other. It was Hagan! Mrs. Hagan's husband! Mike
"My God!" whispered Jimmie Dale, under his breath.
So that was it! That the murder had been committed in the tenement
was not so strange now! A surge of anger swept Jimmie Dale--and was
engulfed in a wave of pity. Somehow, the thin, tired face of Mrs.
Hagan had risen before him, and she seemed to be pleading with him
to go away, to leave the house, to forget that he had ever been
there, to forget what he had seen, what he was seeing now. His
hands clenched fiercely. How realistically, how importunately, how
pitifully she took form before him! She was on her knees, clasping
his knees, imploring him, terrified,
From Jimmie Dale's pocket came the black silk mask. Slowly, almost
hesitantly, he fitted it over his face--Mike Hagan knew Larry the
Bat. Why should he have pity for Mike Hagan? Had he any for Connie
Myers? What right had he to let pity sway him! The man had gone
the limit; he was Connie Myers' accomplice--a murderer! But the man
was not a hardened, confirmed criminal like Connie Myers. Mike
Hagan--a murderer! It would have been unbelievable but for the
evidence before his own eyes now. The man had faults, brawled
enough, and drank enough to have brought him several times to the
notice of the police--but this!
Jimmie Dale's eyes had never left the scene before him. Both men
were throwing their weight upon the bar, and the stone that they
were trying to dislodge--they were into the heart of the masonry
now--seemed to move a little. Connie Myers stood up, and, leaning
forward, examined the stone critically at top and bottom, prodding
it with the bar. He turned from his examination abruptly, and
thrust the bar into Hagan's hands.
"Hold it!" he said tersely. "I'll strike for a turn."
Crouched, on his hands and knees, Hagan inserted the point of the
bar into the crevice. Connie Myers picked up the sledge.
"Lower! Bend lower!" he snapped--and swung the sledge.
It seemed to go black for a moment before Jimmie Dale's eyes, seemed
to paralyse all action of mind and body. There was a low cry that
was more a moan, the clang of the iron bar clattering on the floor,
and Mike Hagan had pitched forward on his face, an inert and huddled
heap. A half laugh, half snarl purled from Connie Myers' lips, as
he snatched a stout piece of cord from his pocket and swiftly
knotted the unconscious man's wrists together. Another instant,
and, picking up the bar, prying with it again, the loosened stone
toppled with a crash into the grate.
It had come sudden as the crack of doom, that blow--too quick, too
unexpected for Jimmie Dale to have lifted a finger to prevent it.
And now that the first numbed shock of mingled horror and amazement
was past, he fought back the quick, fierce impulse to spring out on
Connie Myers. Whether the man was killed or only stunned, he could
do no good to Mike Hagan now, and there was Connie Myers--he was
staring in a fascinated way at Connie Myers. Behind the stone that
the other had just dislodged was a large hollow space that had been
left in the masonry, and from this now Connie Myers was eagerly
collecting handfuls of banknotes that were rolled up into the shape
of little cylinders, each one grotesquely tied with a string. The
man was feverishly excited, muttering to himself, running from the
fireplace to where the table had been pushed aside with the rest of
the furniture, dropping the curious little rolls of money on the
table, and running back for more. And then, having apparently
emptied the receptacle, he wriggled his body over the dismantled
fireplace, stuck his head into the opening, and peered upward.
"Kinks in his nut, kinks in his nut!" Connie Myers was muttering.
"I'll drop the bar through from the top, mabbe there's some got
stuck in the pipe."
He regained his feet, picked up the bar, and ran with it into what
was evidently the front hall--then his steps sounded running
Like a flash, Jimmie Dale was across the room and at the fireplace.
Like Connie Myers, he, too, put his head into the opening; and then,
a queer, unpleasant smile on his lips, he bent quickly over the man
on the floor. Hagan was no more than stunned, and was even then
beginning to show signs of returning consciousness. There was a
rattle, a clang, a thud--and the bar, too long to come all the way
through, dropped into the opening and stood upright. Connie Myers'
footsteps sounded again, returning on the run--and Jimmie Dale was
back once more on the other side of the kitchen doorway.
It was all simple enough--once one understood! The same queer smile
was still flickering on Jimmie Dale's lips. There was no way to get
the money out, except the way Connie Myers had got it out--by
digging it out! With the irrational cunning of his mad brain, that
had put the money even beyond his own reach, old Doyle had built his
fireplace with a hollow some eighteen inches square in a great wall
of solid stonework, and from it had run a two-inch pipe up somewhere
to the story above; and down this pipe he had dropped his little
string-tied cylinders of banknotes, satisfied that his hoard was
safe! There seemed something pitfully ironic in the elaborate,
insane craftiness of the old man's fear-twisted, demented mind.
And now Connie Myers was back in the room again--and again a puzzled
expression settled upon Jimmie Dale's face as he watched the other.
For perhaps a minute the man stood by the table sifting the little
rolls of money through his fingers gloatingly--then, impulsively, he
pushed these to one side, produced a revolver, laid it on the table,
and from another pocket took out a little case which, as he opened
it, Jimmie Dale could see contained a hypodermic syringe. One more
article followed the other two--a letter, which Connie Myers took
out of an unsealed envelope. He dropped this suddenly on the table,
as Mike Hagan, three feet away on the floor, groaned and sat up.
Hagan's eyes swept, bewildered, confused, around him, questioningly
at Connie Myers--and then, resting suddenly on his bound wrists,
they narrowed menacingly.
"Damn you, you smashed me with that sledge on PURPOSE!" he burst
out--and began to struggle to his feet.
With a brutal chuckle, Connie Myers pushed Hagan back and shoved his
revolver under the other's nose.
"Sure!" he admitted evenly. "And you keep quiet, or I'll finish you
now--instead of letting the police do it!" He laughed out
jarringly. "You're under arrest, you know, for the murder of Luther
Doyle, and for robbing the poor old nut of his savings in his house
Hagan wrenched himself up on his elbow.
"What--what do you mean?" he stammered.
"Oh, don't worry!" said Connie Myers maliciously. "I'M not making
the arrest, I'd rather the police did that. I'm not mixing up in
it, and by and by"--he lifted up the hypodermic for Hagan to see--
"I'm going to shoot a little dope into you that'll keep you quiet
while I get away myself."
Hagan's face had gone a grayish white--he had caught sight of the
money on the table, and his eyes kept shifting back and forth from
it to Myers' face.
"Murder!" he said huskily. "There is no murder. I don't know who
Doyle is. You said this house was yours--you hired me to come here.
You said you were going to tear down the fireplace and build
another. You said I could work evenings and earn some extra money."
"Sure, I did!" There was a vicious leer now on Connie Myers' lips.
"But you don't think I picked you out by ACCIDENT, do you? Your
reputation, my bucko, was just shady enough to satisfy anybody that
it wouldn't be beyond you to go the limit. Sure, you murdered
Doyle! Listen to this." He took up the letter:
"TO THE POLICE: Luther Doyle was murdered this evening in the
tenement at 67 ---- Street. You'll find his body in a room on the
second floor. If you want to know who did it, look in Mike Hagan's
room on the floor above. There's a paper stuck under the edge of
Hagan's table with a piece of chewing gum, where he hid it. You'll
know what it is when you go out and take a look at Doyle's house in
Pelham. Yours truly, A FRIEND."
Mike Hagan did not speak--his lips were twitching, and there was
horror creeping into his eyes.
"D'ye get me!" sneered Connie Myers. "Tell your story--who'd
believe it! I got you cinched. Twice I tried to get this old dub's
coin out here, and couldn't find it. But the second time I found
something else--a piece of paper with a drawing of the fireplace on
it, and a place in the drawing marked with an X. That was good
enough, wasn't it? That's the paper I stuck under your table this
afternoon when your wife was out--see? Somebody's got to stand for
the job, and if it's somebody else it won't be me--get me! When I
had a look at that fireplace I knew I couldn't do the job alone in a
week, and I didn't dare blast it with 'soup' for fear of spoiling
what was inside. And since I had to have somebody to help me, I
thought I might as well let him help me all the way through--and
stand for it. I picked you, Mike--that's why I croaked old Doyle in
your tenement to-night. I wrote this letter while I was waiting for
you to show up at the station to come out here with me, and I'm
going to see that the police get it in the next hour. When they
find Doyle in the room below yours, and that paper in your room, and
the busted fireplace here--I guess they won't look any farther for
who did it. And say"--he leaned forward with an ugly grin--"mabbe
you think I'm soft to be telling you all this? But don't you fool
yourself. You don't know me--you don't know who I am. So tell 'em
the TRUTH! They won't believe you anyway with evidence like that
against you--and the neater the story the more they'll think it
shows brains enough on your part to have pulled a job like this!"
"My God!" Hagan was rocking on his knees, beads of sweat were
starting out on his forehead. "You wouldn't plant a man like that!"
he cried brokenly. "You wouldn't do it, would you? My God--you
wouldn't do that!"
Jimmie Dale's face under his mask was white and rigid. There was
something primal, elemental in the savagery that was sweeping upon
him. He had it all now--ALL! She had been right--there was need
to-night for the Gray Seal. So that was the game, inhuman, hellish,
the whole of it, to the last filthy dregs--Connie Myers, to protect
himself, was railroading an innocent man to death for the crime that
he himself had committed! There was a cold smile on Jimmie Dale's
lips now, as he took his automatic from his pocket. No, it wasn't
quite all the game--there was still HIS hand to play! He edged
forward a little nearer to the door--and halted abruptly, listening.
An automobile had stopped outside on the road. Hagan was still
pleading in a frenzied way; Connie Myers was callously folding his
letter, while he watched the other warily--neither of the men had
heard the sound.
And then, quick, almost on the instant, came a rush of feet, a crash
upon the front door--an imperative command to open in the name of
the law. THE POLICE! Jimmie Dale's brain was working now with
lightning speed. Somehow the police had stumbled upon the crime in
that tenement; and, as he had foreseen in such an event, had
identified Doyle. But they could not be sure that any one was
present here in the house now--they could not see a light any more
than he had. He must get Mike Hagan away--must see that Connie
Myers did NOT get away. Myers was on his feet now, fear struck in
his turn, the letter clutched in a tight-closed fist, his revolver
swung out, poised, in the other hand. Hagan, too, was on his feet,
and, unheeded now by Connie Myers, was wrenching his wrists apart.
Another crash upon the door--another. Another demand in a harsh
voice to open it. Then some one running around to the window at the
side of the house--and Jimmie Dale sprang forward.
There was the roar of a report, a blinding flash almost in Jimmie
Dale's eyes, as Connie Myers, whirling instantly at his entrance,
fired--and missed. It happened quick then, in the space of the
ticking of a watch--before Jimmie Dale, flinging himself forward,
had reached the man. Like a defiant challenge to their demand it
must have seemed to the officers outside, that shot of Connie Myers
at Jimmie Dale, for it was answered on the instant by another
through the side window. And the shot, fired at random, the
interior of the room hidden from the officers outside by the drawn
shades, found its mark--and Connie Myers, a bullet in his brain,
pitched forward, dead, upon the floor.
"QUICK!" Jimmie Dale flung at Hagan. "Get that letter out of his
hand!" He jumped for the lamp on the floor, extinguished it, and
turned again toward Hagan. "Have you got it?" he whispered tensely.
"Yes," said Hagan, in a numbed way.
"This way, then!" Jimmie Dale caught Hagan's arm, and pulled the
other across the room and into the kitchen to the trapdoor.
"Quick!" he breathed again. "Get down there--quick! And no noise!
They don't know how many are in the house. When they find HIM
they'll probably be satisfied."
Hagan, stupefied, dazed, obeyed mechanically--and, in an instant,
the trapdoor closed behind them, Jimmie Dale was standing beside the
other in the cellar.
"Not a sound now!" he cautioned once more.
His flashlight winked, went out, winked again; then held steadily,
in curious fascination it seemed, as, in its circuit, the ray fell
upon Hagan--FELL UPON THE TORN, RAGGED EDGE OF A PAPER IN HAGAN'S
HAND! With a suppressed cry, Jimmie Dale snatched it away from the
other. It was but a torn HALF of the letter! "The other half! The
other half, Hagan--where is it?" he demanded hoarsely.
Hagan, almost in a state of collapse, muttered inaudibly. The crash
of a toppling door sounded from above. Jimmie Dale shook the man
"Where is it?" he repeated fiercely.
"He--he was holding it tight, it--it tore in his hand," Hagan
stammered. "Does it make any difference? Oh, let's get out of
here, whoever you are--for God's sake let's get out of here!"
Any difference! Jimmie Dale's jaws were clamped like a steel vise.
Any difference! The difference between life and death for the man
beside him--that was all! He was reading the portion in his hand.
It was the last part of the letter, beginning with: "There's a paper
stuck under the edge of Hagan's table--" From above, from the floor
of the front room now, came the rush and trample of feet. He could
not go back for the other half. And any attempt to conceal the fact
that Connie Myers had been alone in the house was futile now. They
would find the torn letter in the dead man's hand, proof enough that
some one else had been there. What was in that part of the letter
that was still clutched in that death grip upstairs? A sentence
from it, that he had heard Connie Myers read, seemed to burn itself
into his brain. "IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO DID IT, LOOK IN MIKE
HAGAN'S ROOM ON THE FLOOR ABOVE." And then, suddenly, like light
through the darkness, came a ray of hope. He pulled Hagan to the
cellarway, and stealthily lifted one side of the double trapdoor.
There was a chance, desperate enough, one in a thousand--but still a
Voices from the house came plainly now, but there was no one in
sight. The police, to a man, were evidently all inside. From the
road in front showed the lamp glare of their automobile.
"Run for the car!" Jimmie Dale jerked out from between set teeth--
and with Hagan beside him, steadying the man by the arm, dashed
across the intervening fifty yards.
They had not been seen. A minute more, and the car, evidently
belonging to the local police, for it was headed in the direction of
New York, and as though it had come from Pelham, swept down the
road, swept around a turn, and Jimmie Dale, with a gasp of relief,
straightened up a little from the wheel.
How much time had he? The police must have heard the car; but,
equally, occupied as they were, they might well give it no thought
other than that it was but another car passing by. There was no
telephone in the house; the nearest house was a quarter of a mile
away, and that might or might not have a telephone. Could he count
on half an hour? He glanced anxiously at the crouched figure beside
him. He would have to! It was the only chance. They would
telephone the contents of the dead man's half of the letter to the
New York police. Could he get to Hagan's room FIRST! "Look in
Hagan's room," their part of the letter read--but it did not say for
WHAT, or exactly WHERE! If they found nothing, Hagan was safe.
Connie Myers' reputation, the fact that he was found in disguise at
Doyle's house, was, barring any incriminating evidence, quite enough
to let Hagan out. There would only remain in the minds of the
police the question of who, beside Connie Myers, had been in old
Doyle's house that night? And now Jimmie Dale smiled a little
whimsically. Well, perhaps he could answer that--and, if not quite
to the satisfaction of the police, at least to the complete
vindication of Mike Hagan.
But he could not drive through towns and villages with a mask on his
face; and there, ahead now, lights were beginning to show. And more
than ever now, with what was before him, it was imperative that Mike
Hagan should not recognise Larry the Bat. Jimmie Dale glanced again
at Hagan--and slowed down the car. They were on the outskirts of a
town, and off to the right he caught the twinkling lights of a
"Hagan," he said sharply, "pull yourself together, and listen to me!
If you keep your mouth shut, you've nothing to fear; if you let out
a word of what's happened to-night, you'll probably go to the chair
for a crime you know nothing about. Do you understand?--keep your
The car had stopped. Hagan nodded his head.
"All right, then. You get out here, and take a street car into New
York," continued Jimmie Dale crisply. "But when you get there, keep
away from your home for the next two or three hours. Hang around
with some of the boys you know, and if you're asked anything
afterward, say you were batting around town all evening. Don't
worry--you'll find you're out of this when you read the morning
papers. Now get out--hurry!" He pushed Hagan from the car. "I've
got to make my own get-away."
Hagan, standing in the road, brushed his hand bewilderingly across