Part 8 out of 9
"Jason!" exclaimed Jimmie Dale again.
"I beg pardon, sir, Master Jim," stammered the man. "I--I must have
fallen asleep, sir."
"Jason, what are you doing here?" Jimmie Dale demanded sharply.
"Well, sir," said Jason, still fumbling for his words, "it--it was
the telephone, sir."
"Yes, sir. A woman, begging your pardon, Master Jim, a lady, sir,
has been telephoning every hour or so, and she--"
"YES!" Jimmie Dale had jumped across the room and had caught the
other fiercely by the shoulder. "Yes--yes! What did she say?
"Good Lord, Master Jim!" faltered Jason. "I--she--"
"Jason," said Jimmie Dale, suddenly as cold as ice, "what did she
say? Think, man! Every word!"
"She didn't say anything, Master Jim. Nothing at all, sir--except
to keep asking each time if she could speak to you."
"Nothing else, Jason?"
"You are SURE?"
"I'm sure, Master Jim. Not another thing but that, sir, just as
I've told you."
"Thank God!" said Jimmie Dale, in a low voice.
"Yes, sir," said Jason mechanically.
"How long ago was it since she telephoned last?" asked Jimmie Dale
"Well, sir, I couldn't rightly say. You see, as I said, Master Jim,
I must have gone to sleep, but--"
They were staring tensely into each other's face. The telephone on
the desk was ringing vibrantly, clamourously, through the stillness
of the room.
Jason, white, frightened, bewildered, touched his lips with the tip
of his tongue.
"That'll be her again, sir," he said hoarsely.
"Wait!" said Jimmie Dale tersely.
He was trying to think, to think faster than he had ever thought
before. He could not tell Jason to say that he had not yet come in--
THEY knew he was in, it would be but showing his hand to that "some
one" who would be listening now on the wire. He dared not speak to
her, or, above all, allow her to expose herself by a single
inadvertent word. He dared not speak to her--and she was here now,
calling him! He could not speak to her--and it was life and death
almost that she should know what had happened; life and death almost
for both of them that he should know all and everything she could
tell him. True, it would take but a minute to run to the cellar and
cut those wires, while Jason held her on the pretence of calling
him, Jimmie Dale, to the 'phone; only a minute to cut those wires--
and in so doing advertise to these fiends the fact that he had
discovered their trick; admit, as though in so many words, that
their suspicions of him were justified; lay himself open to some new
move that he could not hope to foresee; and, paramount to all else,
rob her and himself of this master trump the Crime Club had placed
in his hands, by means of which there was a chance that he could
hoist them with their own petard!
The telephone rang again--imperatively, persistently.
"Listen, Jason." Jimmie Dale was speaking rapidly, earnestly. "Say
that I've come in and have gone to bed--in a vile humour. That you
told me a lady had been calling, but that I said if she called again
I wasn't to be disturbed if it was the Queen of Sheba herself--that
I wouldn't answer any 'phone to-night for anybody. Do you
understand? No argument with her--just that. Now, answer!"
Jason lifted the receiver from the hook.
"Yes--hello!" he said. "Yes, ma'am, Mr. Dale has come in, but he
has retired. . . . Yes, I told him; but, begging your pardon,
ma'am, he was in what I might say was a bit of a temper, and said he
wasn't to be disturbed by any one."
Jimmie Dale snatched the receiver from Jason, and put it to his own
"Kindly tell Mr. Dale that unless he comes to the 'phone now," a
feminine voice, her voice, in well-simulated indignation, was
saying, "it will be a very long day before I shall trouble myself
Jimmie Dale clapped his hand firmly over the mouthpiece of the
instrument. Thank God for that clever brain of hers! She
"Repeat what you said before, Jason," he instructed hurriedly.
"Then say 'Good-night.'"
He removed his hand from the mouthpiece.
"It's quite useless, ma'am," said Jason apologetically. "In the
rare temper he was in, he wouldn't come, to use his own words,
ma'am, not for the Queen of Sheba herself, ma'am. Good-night,
Jimmie Dale hung the receiver back on the hook--and with his hand
flirted away a bead of moisture that had sprung to his forehead.
"Good Lord, Master Jim, what's wrong, sir? What's happened, sir?
And--and those clothes, Master Jim, sir! They aren't the ones you
went out in, sir--they aren't yours at all, sir!" Jason ventured
"Jason," said Jimmie Dale, "switch off the light, and go to the
front window and look out. Keep well behind the curtains. Don't
show yourself. Tell me if you see anything."
"Yes, sir," said Jason obediently.
The light went out. Jimmie Dale moved to the rear of the room--to
the window overlooking the garage and yard.
"I don't see anything, sir," Jason called.
"Watch!" Jimmie Dale answered.
A minute passed--two--three. Jimmie Dale was staring down into the
black of the yard. She understood! She knew, of course, before she
'phoned that something had gone wrong to-night. She knew that only
peril of the gravest moment would have kept him from the 'phone--and
her. She knew now, as a logical conclusion, that it was dangerous
to attempt to communicate with him at his home. Those wires! Where
did they lead to? Not far away--that would be almost a mechanical
impossibility. Was it into the Crime Club itself--near at hand? Or
the basement, say, of that apartment house across the driveway?
And then Jimmie Dale spoke again:
"Do you see anything, Jason?"
"I'm not sure, sir," Jason answered hesitantly. "I thought I saw a
man move behind a tree out there across the road a minute ago, sir.
Yes, sir--there he is again!"
There was a thin, mirthless smile on Jimmie Dale's lips.
Below, in the shadow of the garage, a dark form, like a deeper
shadow, stirred--and was still again.
"What time is it, Jason?" Jimmie Dale asked presently.
"It'll be about half-past four, sir."
"Go to bed, Jason."
"Yes, sir; but"--Jason's voice, low, troubled, came through the
darkness from the upper end of the room--"Master Jim, sir, I--"
"Go to bed, Jason--and not a word of this."
"Yes, sir. Good-night, Master Jim."
Jimmie Dale groped his way to the big lounging chair in which he had
found Jason asleep, and flung himself into it. They had struck
quickly, these ingenious, dress-suited murderers of the Crime Club!
The house was already watched, would be watched now untiringly,
unceasingly; not a movement of his henceforth but would be under
His hands, resting on the arms of the chair, closed slowly until
they became tight-clenched, knotted fists. What was he to do? It
was not only the Crime Club, it was not only the Tocsin and her
peril--there was the underworld snapping and snarling at his heels,
there was the police, dogged and sullen, ever on the trail of the
Gray Seal! His life, even before this, in his fight against the
underworld and the police, had depended upon his freedom of action--
and now, at one and the same time, that freedom was cut away from
beneath his feet, as it were, and a third foe, equally as deadly as
the others, was added to the list!
For months, to preserve and sustain the character of Larry the Bat,
he had been forced to assume the role almost daily; for, in that
sordid empire below the dead line, whose one common bond and aim was
the Gray Seal's death, where suspicion, one of the other, was
rampant and extravagant, where each might be the one against whom
all swore their vengeance, Larry the Bat could not mysteriously
disappear from his accustomed haunts without inviting suspicion in
an active and practical form--an inquisitorial visit to his squalid
lodgings, the Sanctuary--and the end of Larry the Bat!
If, as he had thought only a few hours before, he was through
forever with his dual life, that would not have mattered, the
underworld would have been welcome to make what it chose of it--but
now the preservation of the character of Larry the Bat was more
vital and necessary to him than it had ever been before. It was a
means of defense and offense against these men who lurked now
outside his doors. It was the sole means now of communication with
her; for, warned both by Jason's words, and what must be an obvious
fact to her, that their plans had miscarried, that it was dangerous
to communicate with him as Jimmie Dale, she would expect him, count
on him to make that move. There would be no longer either reason or
attempt on her part to maintain the mystery with which she had
heretofore surrounded herself, the crisis had come, she would be
watching, waiting, hoping, seeking for him more anxiously and with
far more at stake than he had ever sought for her--until now!
He got up impulsively from his chair, and, in the blackness, began
to pace the room. The next move was clear, pitifully clear; it had
been clear from the first, it had been clear even in that ride in
the car--it was so clear that it seemed veritably to mock him as he
prodded his brains for some means of putting it into execution. He
must get to the Sanctuary, become Larry the Bat--but how? HOW! The
question seemed at last to become resonant, to ring through the room
with the weight of doom upon it.
Schemes, plans, ideas came, bringing a momentary uplift--only to be
discarded the next instant with a sort of bitter, desperate regret.
These men were not men of mere ordinary intelligence; their
cleverness, their power, the amazing scope of their organisation,
all bore grim witness to the fact that they would be blinded not at
all by any paltry ruse.
He could walk out of the house in the morning as Jimmie Dale without
apparent hindrance--that was obvious enough. And so long as he
pursued the usual avocations of Jimmie Dale, he would not be
interfered with--only WATCHED. It was useless to consider that plan
for a moment. It would not help him to reach the Sanctuary--without
leading them there behind him! True, there was always the chance
that he might shake them off his trail, but he could hardly hope to
accomplish anything like that without their knowing that it was done
DELIBERATELY--and that he dared not risk. The strongest weapon in
his hands now was his secret knowledge that he was being watched.
That telephone there, for instance, that most curiously kept on
insisting in his mind that it, and it alone was the way out, was the
last thing he could place in jeopardy. Besides, there was another
reason why such a plan would not do; for, granting even that he
succeeded in eluding them on the way, and managed to reach the
Sanctuary, his freedom of action would be so restricted and limited
as to be practically worthless--he would have to return to his home
here again within a reasonable time as Jimmie Dale, within a few
hours at most--or again they would be in possession of the fact that
he had discovered their surveillance.
That, it was true, had been his original plan when he had entered
the house half an hour previously, but it was an entirely different
matter now. Then, he had counted on GETTING AWAY without their
knowing it, before they, as he had fondly thought, would have had a
chance to establish their espionage, and when they would have had no
reason to suspect, for a time at least, that he was not still within
the house, when they would have been watching, as it were, an empty
He stopped in his walk, and, after a moment, dropped down into the
lounging chair again. That was it, of course. An empty cage! If
he could escape from the house! Not so much without their seeing
him; that was more or less a mechanical detail. But escape--and
leave them in possession of a sort of guarantee or assurance that he
was still there! That would give him the freedom of action that he
must have. He smiled with bitter irony. That solved the problem!
That was all there was to it--just that! It was very simple,
exceedingly simple; it was only--impossible!
The smile left his lips, and once more his hands, clenched fiercely.
No; it was not impossible! It MUST be done--if he was to win
through, if he was even to save himself! It must be done--or FAIL
her! It COULD be done; there was a way--if he could only see it!
As the minutes passed, many of them, Jimmie Dale sat there
motionless, staring before him at the desk that was faintly outlined
in the unlighted room. Then somewhere in the house a clock struck
the hour. Five o'clock! He raised his head. YES! It could be
done! There was a way! He had the germ of it now. And now the
plan began to grow, to take form and shape in his mind, to dovetail,
to knit the integral parts into a comprehensive whole. There was a
way--but he must have assistance. Jason--yes, assuredly. Benson,
his chauffeur--yes, equally as trustworthy as Jason. Benson was
devoted to him; and moreover Benson was young, alert, daring, cool.
He had had more than one occasion to test Benson's resourcefulness
Jimmie Dale rose abruptly, went to the rear window, and, parting the
curtains cautiously, stood peering down into the courtyard. Yes, it
was feasible; even a little more than feasible. The garage fronted
the driveway, of course, to give free entrance and egress to the
cars, but where the wall of the garage and the rear wall of the
house overlapped, as it were, the space between them was not much
more than ten yards; and here the shadows of the two walls,
mingling, lay like a black, impenetrable pathway--not like that
other shadow he had seen moving at the side of the garage, and that,
if not for the moment discernible, was none the less surely still
Satisfied, Jimmie Dale swung briskly from the window, and, going now
to his bedroom across the hall, undressed and went to bed--but not
to sleep. There would be time enough to sleep, all day, if he
wished; now, there were still the little details to be thought out
that, more than anything else, could make or wreck his plans. A
point overdone, the faintest suggestion of a false note where men of
the calibre of those against whom he was now fighting for his life
were concerned, would not only make his scheme abortive, but would
place him utterly at their mercy.
It was nine o'clock when he rang for Jason.
"Jason," he said abruptly, as the other entered, "I want you to
telephone for Doctor Merlin."
"The doctor, sir!" exclaimed the old man anxiously. "You're--you're
not ill, Master Jim, sir?"
"Do I look ill, Jason?" inquired Jimmie Dale gravely.
"Well, sir," admitted Jason, in concern; "a bit done up, sir,
perhaps. A little pale, sir; though I'm sure--"
"I'm glad to hear it," said Jimmie Dale, sitting up in bed. "The
worse I look, the better!"
"I--I beg pardon, sir?" stammered Jason.
"Jason," said Jimmie Dale, gravely again, "you have had reason to
know that on several occasions my life has been threatened. It is
threatened now. You know from last night that this house is now
watched. You may, or you may not have surmised--that our telephone
wires have been tapped."
"Tapped, sir!"--Jason's face had gone a little gray.
"Yes; a party line, so to speak," said Jimmie Dale grimly. "Do you
understand? You must be careful to say no more, no less than
exactly what I tell you to say. Now go and telephone! Ask the
doctor to come over and see me this morning. Simply say that I am
not feeling well; but that, apart from being apparently in a very
nervous condition, you do not know what is the matter."
"Yes, sir--good Lord, sir!" gasped Jason--and left the room to carry
out his orders.
An hour later, Doctor Merlin had been and gone--and had left two
prescriptions; one written, the other verbal. With the written one,
Benson, in his chauffeur's livery, was dispatched to the drug store;
the verbal one was precisely what Jimmie Dale had expected from the
fussy old family physician: "Two or three days of quiet in the house
James; and if you need me again, let me know."
"Now, Jason," said Jimmie Dale, when the old man had returned from
ushering Doctor Merlin from the house, "our friends out there will
be anxious to learn the verdict. I was to dine with the Ross-
Hendersons to-morrow night, was I not?"
"Yes, sir; I think so, sir."
"Make sure!" said Jimmie Dale. "Look in my engagement book there on
"Yes, sir, that's right," he announced.
"Very good," said Jimmie Dale softly. "Now go and telephone again,
Jason. Present my regrets and excuses to the Ross-Hendersons, and
say that under the doctor's orders I am confined to the house for
the next few days--and, Jason!"
"When Benson returns with the medicine let him bring it here
himself--and I shall want you as well."
Jimmie Dale propped himself up a little wearily on the pillows, as
Jason went out of the room. After all, his condition was not
entirely feigned. He was, as a matter of fact, pretty well played
out, both mentally and physically. Certainly, that he should
require a doctor and be confined to the house could not arouse
suspicion even in the minds of those alert, aristocratic thugs of
the Crime Club, prone as they would be to suspect anything--a man
who had been knocked unconscious in an automobile smash the night
before, had been in a fight, had been subjected to a terrific mental
shock, to say nothing of the infernal drug that had been
administered to him, might well be expected to be indisposed the
next morning, and for several mornings following that! It might,
indeed, even cause them to relax their vigilance for the time being--
though he dared build nothing on that. Well, he had only to coach
Benson and Jason in the parts they were to play, and the balance of
the morning and all the afternoon was his in which to rest.
He reached over to the table, picked up a pencil and paper, and
began to jot down memoranda. He had just tossed the pencil back on
the table as the two men entered.
Jason, at a sign, closed the door quietly.
Jimmie Dale looked at Benson half musingly, half whimsically, for a
moment before he spoke.
"Benson," he said, "the back seat of the large touring car is hinged
and lifts up, once the cushion is removed, doesn't it?"
"Yes, sir," Benson answered promptly.
"And there's space enough for, say, a man inside, isn't there?"
"Why, yes, sir; I suppose so--at a squeeze"--Benson stared blankly.
"Quite so!" said Jimmie Dale calmly. "Now, another matter, Benson:
I believe some chauffeurs have a habit, when occasion lends itself,
of taking, shall we say, their 'best girl' out riding in their
"SOME might," Benson replied, a little stiffly. "I hope you don't
think, sir, that--"
"One moment, Benson. The point is, it's done--quite generally?"
"And you have a 'best girl,' or at least could find one for such a
purpose, if you were so inclined?"
"Yes, sir," said Benson; "but--"
"Very good!" Jimmie Dale interrupted. "Then to-night, Benson,
taking advantage of my illness, and to-morrow night, and the nights
after that until further notice, you will acquire and put into
practice that reprehensible habit."
"I--I don't understand, Mr. Dale."
"No; I dare say not," said Jimmie Dale--and then the whimsicality
dropped from him. "Benson," he said slowly, "do you remember a
night, nearly four years ago, the first night you ever saw me? You
had, indiscreetly, I think, displayed more money than was wise in
that East Side neighbourhood."
"I remember," said Benson, with a sudden start; then simply: "I
wouldn't be here now, sir, if it hadn't been for you."
"Well," said Jimmie Dale quietly, "the tables are turned to-day,
Benson. As Jason already knows, this house is watched. For reasons
that I cannot explain, I am in great danger. Bluntly, I am putting
my life in your hands--and Jason's."
Benson looked for an instant from Jimmie Dale to Jason, caught the
strained, troubled expression on the old man's face, then back again
at Jimmie Dale.
"D'ye mean that, sir!" he cried. "Then you can count on me, Mr.
Dale, to the last ditch!"
"I know that, Benson," Jimmie Dale said softly. "And now, both of
you, listen! It is imperative that I should get away from the
house; and equally imperative that those watching should believe
that I am still here. Not even the servants are to be permitted a
suspicion that I am not here in my bed, ill. That, Jason, is your
task. You will allow no one to wait on me but yourself; you will
bring the meal trays up regularly--and eat the food yourself. You
will answer all inquiries, telephone and otherwise, in person--I am
not seeing any one. You understand perfectly, Jason?"
"I understand, Master Jim. You need have no fear, sir, on that
"Now, you, Benson," Jimmie Dale went on. "A few minutes ago I sent
you out in your chauffeur's togs with that prescription. You were
undoubtedly observed. I wanted you to be. It was quite necessary
that they should know and be able to recognise you again--to
disabuse their minds later on of the possibility that I might be
masquerading in your clothes; and also, of course, that they should
know who you were, and what your position was in the household.
Very well! To-night, at eight o'clock exactly, you are to go out
from the back door of the house to the garage. On the way out--it
will be quite dark then--I want you to drop something, say, a bunch
of keys that you had been jingling in your hand. You are to
experience some difficulty in finding it again, move about a little
to force any one that may be lurking by the garage to retreat around
the corner. Grumble a bit and make a little noise; but you are not
to overdo it--a couple of minutes at the outside is enough, by that
time I shall be under the car seat. You will then run the machine
out to the street and stop at the curb, jump out, and, as though you
had forgotten something, hurry back to the garage. You must not be
away long--enough only to permit, say, a passer-by to glance into
the car and satisfy himself that it is empty. You understand, of
course, Benson, that the hood must be down--no closed car to invite
even the suggestion of concealment--that would be a fatal blunder.
Drive then to the young lady's home by as direct a route as you can--
give no appearance of being aware that you are followed, as you
will be, and much less the appearance of attempting to elude
pursuit. Act naturally. Between here and your destination I will
manage readily enough to leave the car. You will then take the
young lady for her drive--that is what they will be interested in--
your motive for going out to-night. And, as I said, take her
driving again on each succeeding night--establish the HABIT to their
Jimmie Dale paused, glanced at the paper which he still held in his
hand, then handed it to Benson.
"Just one thing more, Benson," he said: "Listed on that paper you
will find a different rendezvous for each night for the next five
nights, excluding to-night, which, after you have returned the young
lady to her home, you are to pass by on your way back here. See
that your drive is always over in time for you to pass each night's
rendezvous at half past eleven sharp. Don't stop unless I signal
you. If I am not there, go right on home, and be at the next place
on the following night. I am fairly well satisfied they will not
bother about you after to-night, or to-morrow night at the most;
but, for all that, you must take no chances, so, except in the route
you take in going to the young lady's, always avoid covering the
same ground twice, which might give the appearance of having some
ulterior purpose in view--even in your drives, vary your runs. Is
this clear, Benson?"
"Yes, sir," said Benson earnestly.
"Very well, then," said Jimmie Dale. "Eight o'clock to the dot,
Benson--compare your time with Jason's. And now, Jason, see that I
get a chance to sleep until dinner time to-night."
The hours that followed were hours of sound and much-needed sleep
for Jimmie Dale, and from which he awoke only on Jason's entrance
that evening with the dinner tray.
"I've slept like a log, Jason!" he cried briskly, as he leaped out
of bed. "Anything new--anything happened?"
"No, sir; not a thing," Jason answered. "Only, Master Jim, sir"--
the old man twisted his hands nervously--"I--you'll excuse my saying
so, sir--I do hope you'll be careful to-night, sir. I can't help
being afraid that something'll happen to you, Master Jim."
"Nonsense, Jason!" Jimmie Dale laughed cheerfully. "There's nothing
going to happen--to me! You go ahead now and stay with the
servants, and get them out of the road at the proper time."
He bathed, dressed, ate his dinner, and was slipping cartridges into
the magazine of his automatic when, within a minute or two of eight
o'clock, Jason's whisper came from the doorway.
"It's all clear now, Master Jim, sir."
"Right!" Jimmie Dale responded--and followed Jason down the
stairway, and to the head of the cellar stairs.
Here Jason halted.
"God keep you, Master Jim!" said the old man huskily. "Good-night,
Jason," Jimmie Dale answered softly; and, with a reassuring squeeze
on the other's arm, went on down to the cellar.
Here he moved quickly, noiselessly across to the window--not the
window of the night before, but another of the same description,
almost directly beneath the one in his den above, that faced the
garage and lay in the line of that black shadow path between the two
buildings. Deftly, cautiously without sound, a half inch, an inch
at a time he opened it. He stood listening, then. A minute passed.
Then he heard Benson open and shut the back door; then Benson in the
yard; and then Benson's voice in a muttered and irritable growl,
talking to himself, as he stamped around on the ground.
With a lithe, agile movement, Jimmie Dale pulled himself up and
through the window--and began to creep rapidly on hands and knees
toward the garage. It was dark, intensely dark. He could barely
distinguish Benson's form, though, as he passed the other, the
slight sounds he made drowned out by the chauffeur's angry
mumblings, he could have reached out and touched Benson easily.
He gained the interior of the garage, and, as Benson, came on again,
stepped lightly into the car, lifted the seat, and wriggled his way
It was close, stuffy, abominably cramped, but Jimmie Dale was
smiling grimly now. Thanks to Benson, there wasn't a possibility
that he had been seen. He both felt and heard Benson start the car.
Then the car moved forward, ran the length of the driveway, bumped
slightly as it made the street--and stopped. He heard Benson jump
out and run back--and then he listened intently, and the grim smile
flickered on his lips again. Came the sound of a footstep on the
sidewalk close beside the car--then silence--the car shook a little
as though some one's weight was on the step--then the footsteps
receded--Benson returned on the run--and the car started forward
Perhaps ten minutes passed. Three times the car had swerved
sharply, making a corner turn. Then Jimmie Dale pushed up the seat,
and, protected from observation from behind by the back of the car
itself, crawled out and crouched down on the floor of the tonneau.
"Don't look around, Benson," he said calmly. "Are we followed?"
"Yes, sir." Benson answered. "At least, there's always been a car
behind us, though not the same one. They're pretty clever. There
must be three or four, each following the other. Every time I turn
a corner it's a different car that turns it behind me."
"How far behind?" Jimmie Dale asked.
"Half a block."
"Slow down a little," instructed Jimmie Dale; "and don't turn
another corner until they've had a chance to accomodate themselves
to your new speed. You are going too fast for me to jump, and I
don't want them to notice any change in speed, except what is made
in plain sight. Yes; that's better. Where are we, Benson?"
"That's Amsterdam Avenue ahead," replied Benson.
"All right," said Jimmie Dale quietly. "Turn into it. The more
people the better. Tell me just as you are about to turn."
"Yes, sir," said Benson; then, almost on the instant, "All ready,
Jimmie Dale's hand reached out for the door catch, edged the door
ajar, the car swerved, took the corner--and Jimmie Dale stepped out
on the running board, hung there negligently for a moment as though
chatting with Benson, and then with an airy "good-night" dropped
nonchalantly to the ground, and the next instant had mingled with
the throng of pedestrians on the sidewalk.
A half minute later, a large gray automobile turned the corner and
followed Benson--and Jimmie Dale, stepping out into the street
again, swung on a downtown car. The road to the Sanctuary was open!
In his impatience, now, the street car seemed to drag along every
foot of the way; but a glance at his watch, as he finally reached
the Bowery, and, walking then, rapidly approached the cross street a
few steps ahead that led to the Sanctuary, told him that it was
still but a quarter to nine. But even at that he quickened his
steps a little. He was free now! There was a sort of savage,
elemental uplift upon him. He was free! He could strike now in his
own defense--and hers! In a few moments he would be at the
Sanctuary; in a few more he would be Larry the Bat, and by to-morrow
at the latest he would see--The Tocsin. After all, that "hour" was
not to be taken from him! It was not, perhaps, the hour that she
had meant it should be, thought and prayed, perhaps, that it might
be! It was not the hour of victory. But it was the hour that meant
to him the realisation of the years of longing, the hour when he
should see her, see her for the first time face to face, when there
should be no more barriers between them, when--"
"Fer Gawd's sake, mister, buy a pencil!"
A hand was plucking at his sleeve, the thin voice was whining in his
ear. He halted mechanically. A woman, old, bedraggled, ragged, was
thrusting a bunch of cheap pencils imploringly toward him--and then,
with a stifled cry, Jimmie Dale leaned forward. The eyes that
lifted to his for an instant were bright and clear with the vigor of
youth, great eyes of brown they were, and trouble, hope, fear,
wistfulness, ay, and a glorious shyness were in their depths. And
then the voice he knew so well, the Tocsin's was whispering
"I will be waiting here, Jimmie--for Larry the Bat."
It was only a little way back along the street from the Sanctuary to
the corner on the Bowery where as Jimmie Dale he had left her, where
as Larry the Bat now he was going to meet her again; it would take
only a moment or so, even at Larry the Bat's habitual,
characteristic, slouching, gait--but it seemed that was all too
slow, that he must throw discretion to the winds and run the
distance. His blood was tingling; there was elation upon him,
coupled with an almost childlike dread that she might be gone.
"The Tocsin! The Tocsin!" he kept saying to himself.
Yes; she was still there, still whiningly imploring those who passed
to buy her miserable pencils--and then, with a quick-flung whisper
to him to follow as he slouched up close to her, she had started
slowly down the street.
"The Tocsin! The Tocsin! The Tocsin!"--his brain seemed to be
ringing with the words, ringing with them in a note clear as a
silver bell. The Tocsin--at last! The woman who so strangely, so
wonderfully, so mysteriously had entered into his life, and
possessed it, and filled it with a love and yearning that had come
to mold and sway and actuate his very existence--the woman for whom
he had fought; for whom he had risked, and gladly risked, his
wealth, his name, his honour--everything; the woman for whose sake
he, the Gray Seal, was sought and hounded as the most notorious
criminal of the age; she whose cleverness, whose resourcefulness,
whose amazing intimacy with the hidden things of the underworld had
seemed, indeed, to border on the supernatural; she, the Tocsin--the
woman whose face he had never seen before! The woman whose face he
had never seen before--and who now was that wretched hag that
hobbled along the street before him, begging, whining, and
importuning the passers-by to purchase of her pitiful wares!
He laughed a little--buoyantly. He had never pictured a first
meeting such as this! A hag? Yes! And one as disreputable in
appearance as he himself, as Larry the Bat, was disreputable! But
he had seen her eyes! Inimitable as was her disguise, she could not
hide her eyes, or hide the pledge they held of the beauty of form
and feature beneath the tattered rags and the touch of a master in
the make-up that brought haggard want and age into the face--and
dimly he began to divine the source, the means by which she had
acquired the information that for years had enabled her to plan
their coups, that had enabled him to execute them under the guise of
crime, that for years had seemed beyond all human reach.
Where was she going? Where was she taking him? But what did it
matter! The years of waiting were at an end--the years of mystery
in a few moments now would be mystery no more!
Ah! She had turned from the Bowery, and was heading east. He
shuffled on after her, guardedly, a half block behind. It was well
that Jimmie Dale had disappeared, that he was Larry the Bat again--
the neighbourhood was growing more and more one that Jimmie Dale
could not long linger in without attracting attention; while, on the
other hand, it was the natural environment of such as Larry the Bat
and such as she, who was leading him now to the supreme moment of
his life. Yes, it was that--the fulfillment of the years! The
thought of it alone filled his mind, his soul; it brushed aside, it
blotted out for the time being the danger, the peril, the deadly
menace that hung over them both. It was only that she, the Tocsin,
was here--only that at last they would be together.
On she went, traversing street after street, the direction always
trending toward the river--until finally she halted before what
appeared to be, as nearly as he could make out in the almost total
darkness of the ill-lighted street, a small and tumble-down, self-
contained dwelling that bordered on what seemed to be an unfenced
store yard of some description. He drew his breath in sharply. She
had halted--waiting for him to come up with her. She was waiting
for him--WAITING for him! It seemed as though he drank of some
strange, exhilarating elixir--he reached her side eagerly--and then--
and then--her hand had caught his, and she was leading him into the
house, into a black passage where he could see nothing, into a room
equally black over whose threshold he stumbled, and her voice in a
low, conscious way, with a little tremour, a half sob in it that
thrilled him with its promise, was in his ears:
"We are safe here, Jimmie, for a little while--but, oh, Jimmie, what
have I done! What have I done to bring you into this--only--only--I
was so sure, so sure, Jimmie, that there was nothing more to fear!"
The blood was beating in hammer blows at his temples. It seemed all
unreal, untrue that this moment could be his, that it was not a
dream--a dream which was presently to be snatched from him in a
bitter awakening. And then he laughed out wildly, passionately.
No--it was true, it was real! Her breath was on his cheek, it was a
living, pulsing hand that was still in his--and then soul and mind
and body seemed engulfed and lost in a mad ecstasy--and she was in
his arms, crushed to him, and he was raining kisses upon her face.
"I love you! I love you!" he was crying hoarsely; and over and over
again: "I love you! I love you!"
She did not struggle. The warm, rich lips were yielding to his; he
could feel the throb, the life in the young, lithe form against his
own. She was his--his! The years, the past, all were swept away--
and she was his at last--his for always. And there came a mighty
sense of kingship upon him, as though all the world were at his
feet, and virility, and a great, glad strength above all other
men's, and a song was in his soul, a song triumphant--for she was
"You!" he cried out--and strained her to him. "You!" he cried
again--and kissed her lips and her eyelids and her lips again.
And then her head was buried on his shoulder, and she was crying
softly; but after a moment she raised her hands and laid them upon
his face, and held them there, and because it was dark, dared to
raise her head as well, and her eyes to look into his.
Then for a long time they stood there so, and for a long time
neither spoke--and then with a little startled, broken cry, as
though the peril and the menace hanging over them, forgotten for the
moment, were thrust like a knife stab suddenly upon her, she drew
herself away, and ran from him, and went and got a lamp, and lighted
it, and set it upon the table.
And Jimmie Dale, still standing there, watched her. How gloriously
her eyes shone, dimmed and misty with the tears that filled them
though they were! And there was nothing incongruous in the rags
that clothed her, in the squalour and poverty of the bare room, in
the white furrows that the tears had plowed through the grime and
make-up on her cheeks.
"You wonderful, wonderful woman!" Jimmie Dale whispered.
She shook her head as though almost in self-reproach.
"I am not wonderful, Jimmie," she said, in a low voice. "I"--and
then she caught his arm, and her voice broke a little--"I've brought
you into this--probably to your death. Jimmie, tell me what
happened last night, and since then. I--I've thought at times to-
day I should go mad. Oh, Jimmie, there is so much to say to-night,
so much to do if--if we are ever to be together for--for always.
Last night, Jimmie--the telephone--I knew there was danger--that all
had gone wrong--what was it?"
His arms were around her shoulders, drawing her close to him again.
"I found the wires tapped," he said slowly.
"Yes, and--and the man you met--the chauffeur?"
"He is dead," Jimmie Dale answered gently.
He felt her hand close with a quick, spasmodic clutch upon his arm;
her face grew white--and for a moment she turned away her head.
"And--and the package?" she asked presently.
"I do not know," replied Jimmie Dale. "He did not have it with him;
"Wait!" she interrupted quickly. "We are only wasting time like
this! Tell me everything, everything just as it happened,
everything from the moment you received my letter."
And, holding her there in his arms, softening as best he could the
more brutal details, he told her. And, at the end, for a little
while she was silent; then in a strained, impulsive way she asked
"The chauffeur--you are sure--you are positive that he is dead?"
"Yes," said Jimmie Dale grimly; "I am sure." And then the pent-up
flood of questions burst from his lips. Who was the chauffeur? The
package, the box numbered 428, and John Johansson? And the Crime
Club? And the issue at stake? The danger, the peril that
surrounded her? And she--above all--more than anything else--about
herself--her strange life, its mystery?
She checked him with a strangely wistful touch of her finger upon
his lips, with a queer, pathetic shake of her head.
"No, Jimmie; not that way. You would never understand. I cannot--"
"But I am to know--now! Surely I am to know NOW!" he cried, a
sudden sense of dismay upon him. Three years! Three years--and
always the "next" time! "I must know now, if I am to help you!"
She smiled a little wanly at him, as she drew herself away, and,
dropping into a chair, placed her elbows on the rickety table,
cupping her chin in her hands.
"Yes; you are to know now," she said, almost as though she were
talking to herself; then, with a swift intake of her breath,
impulsively: "Jimmie! Jimmie! I had thought that it would be all
so different when--when you came. That--that I would have nothing
to fear--for you--for me--because--it would be all over. And now
you are here, Jimmie--and, oh, thank God for you!--but I feel to-
night almost--almost as though it were hopeless, that--that we were
"Beaten!" He stepped quickly to the table, and sat down, and took
one of her hands away from her face to hold it in both his own.
"Beaten!" he laughed out defiantly; then, playfully, soothingly, to
reassure her: "Jimmie Dale and Larry the Bat and the Gray Seal and
the Tocsin--BEATEN! And after we have just scored the last trick!"
"But we do not hold many trumps, Jimmie," she answered gravely.
"You have seen something of this Crime Club's power, its methods,
its merciless, cruel, inhuman cunning, and you, perhaps, think that
you understand--but you have not begun to grasp the extent of either
that power or cunning. This horrible organisation has been in
existence for many years. I do not know how many. I only know that
the men of whom it is composed are not ordinary criminals, that they
do not work in the ordinary way--to-day, they set the machinery of
fraud, deception, robbery, and murder in motion that ten years from
now, and, perhaps, only then, will culminate in the final success of
their schemes--and they play only for enormous stakes. But"--her
lips grew set--"you will see for yourself. I must not talk any
longer than is necessary; we must not take too much time. You count
on three days before they begin to suspect that all is not right
with Jimmie Dale--I know them better than you, and I give you two
days, forty-eight hours at the outside, and possibly far less.
Jimmie"--abruptly--"did you ever hear of Peter LaSalle?"
"The capitalist? Yes!" said Jimmie Dale. "He died a few years ago.
I know his brother Henry well--at the club, and all that."
"Do you!" she said evenly. "Well, the man you know is not Peter
LaSalle's brother; he is an impostor--and one of the Crime Club."
"Not--Peter LaSalle's brother!"--Jimmie Dale repeated the words
mechanically. And suddenly his brain was whirling. Vaguely, dimly,
in little memory snatches, events, not pertinent then, vitally
significant now, came crowding upon him. Peter LaSalle had come
from somewhere in the West to live in New York; and very shortly
afterward had died. The estate had been worth something over eleven
millions. And there had been--he leaned quickly, tensely forward
over the table, staring at her. "My God!" he whispered hoarsely.
"You are not, you cannot be--the--the daughter--Peter LaSalle's
daughter, who disappeared strangely!"
"Yes," she said quietly. "I am Marie LaSalle."
THE TOCSIN'S STORY
LaSalle! The old French name! That old French inscription on the
ring: "SONNEZ LE TOCSIN!" Yes; he began to understand now. She was
Marie LaSalle! He began to remember more clearly.
Marie LaSalle! They had said she was one of the most beautiful
girls who had ever made her entree into New York society. But he
had never met her--as Marie LaSalle; never met her--until now, as
the Tocsin, in this bare, destitute, squalid hovel, here at bay,
both of them, for their lives.
He had been away when she had come with her father to New York; and
on his return there had only been the father's brother in the
father's place--and she was gone. He remembered the furor her
disappearance had caused; the enormous rewards her uncle had offered
in an effort to trace her; the thousand and one speculations as to
what had become of her; and that then, gradually, as even the most
startling and mystifying of events and happenings always do, the
affair had dropped into oblivion and had been forgotten by the
public at least. He began to count back. Yes, it must have been
nearly five years ago; two years before she, as the Tocsin, and he,
as the Gray Seal, had formed their amazing and singular partnership,
that--he started suddenly, as she spoke.
"I want to tell you in as few words as I can," she said abruptly,
breaking the silence. "Listen, then, Jimmie. My mother died ten
years ago. I was little more than a child then. Shortly after her
death, father made a business trip to New York, and, on the advice
of some supposed friends, he had a new will drawn up by a lawyer
whom they recommended, and to whom they introduced him. I do not
know who those men were. The lawyer's name was Travers, Hilton
Travers." She glanced curiously at Jimmie Dale, and added quickly:
"He was the chauffeur--the man who was killed last night."
"You mean," Jimmie Dale burst out, "you mean that he was--but,
first, the will! What was in the will?"
"It was a very simple will," she answered. "And from the nature of
it, it was not at all strange that my father should have been
willing to have had it drawn by a comparative stranger, if that is
what you are thinking. Summarised in a few words, the will left
everything to me, and appointed my Uncle Henry as my guardian and
the sole executor of the estate until I should have reached my
twenty-fifth birthday. It provided for a certain sum each year to
be paid to my uncle for his services as executor; and at the
expiration of the trust period--that is, when I was twenty-five--
bequeathed to him the sum of one hundred thousand dollars."
Jimmie Dale nodded. "Go on!" he prompted.
"It is hard to tell it in logical sequence," she said, hesitating a
moment. "So many things seem to overlap each other. You must
understand a little more about Hilton Travers. During the five
years following the signing of the will father came frequently to
New York, and became, not only intimate with Travers, but so much
impressed with the other's cleverness and ability that he kept
putting more and more of his business into Travers' hands. At the
end of that five years, we moved to New York, and father, who was
then quite an old man, retired from all active business, and turned
over a great many of his personal affairs to Travers to look after
for him, giving Travers power of attorney in a number of instances.
So much for Travers. Now about my uncle. He was my father's only
brother; in fact, they were the only surviving members of their
family, apart from very distant connections in France, from where,
generations back, the family originally came." Her hand touched
Jimmie Dale's for an instant. "That ring, Jimmie, with its crest
and inscription, is the old family coat of arms."
"Yes," he said briefly; "I surmised as much."
"Strange as it may seem, in view of the fact that they had not seen
each other for twenty years," she went on hurriedly "my father and
my uncle were more than ordinarily attached to each other. Letters
passed regularly between them, and there was constant talk of one
paying the other a visit--but the visit never materialised. My
uncle was somewhere in Australia, my father was here, and
consequently I never saw my uncle. He was quite a different type of
man from father--more restless, less settled, more rough and ready,
preferring the outdoor life of the Australian bush to the
restrictions of any so-called civilisation, I imagine. Financially,
I do not think he ever succeeded very well, for twice, in one way or
another, he lost every sheep on his ranch and father set him up
again; and I do not think he could ever have had much of a ranch,
for I remember once, in one of the letters he wrote, that he said he
had not seen a white man in weeks, so he must have lived a very
lonely life. Indeed, at about the time father drew the new will, my
uncle wrote, saying that he had decided to give up sheep running on
his own account as it did not pay, and to accept a very favourable
offer that had been made to him to manage a ranch in New Zealand;
and his next letter was from the latter country, stating that he had
carried out his intentions, and was well satisfied with the change
he had made. The long-proposed visit still continued to occupy my
father's thoughts, and on his retirement from business he definitely
made up his mind to go out to New Zealand, taking me with him. In
fact, the plans were all arranged, my uncle expressed unbounded
delight in his letters, and we were practically on the eve of
sailing, when a cable came from my uncle, telling us to postpone the
visit for a few months, as he was obliged to make a buying trip for
his new employer that would keep him away that length of time--and
then"--her fingers, that had been abstractedly picking out the lines
formed by the grain of the wood in the table top, closed suddenly
into tight-clenched fists--"and then--my father died."
Jimmie Dale turned away his head. There were tears in her eyes.
The old sense of unreality was strong upon him again. He was
listening to the Tocsin's story. It was strange that he should be
doing that--that it could be really so! It seemed as though
magically he had been transported out of the world where for years
past he had lived with danger lurking at every turn, where men set
watch about his house to trap him, where the denizens of the
underworld yowled like starving beasts to sink their fangs in him,
where the police were ceaselessly upon his trail to wreak an
insensate vengeance upon him; it seemed as though he had been
transported away from all that to something that he had dreamed
might, perhaps, sometime happen, that he had hoped might happen,
that he had longed for always, but now that it was his, that it also
was full of the sense of the unreal. And yet as his mind followed
the thread of her story, and leaped ahead and vaguely glimpsed what
was to come, be was conscious in a sort of premonitory way of a
vaster peril than any he had ever known, as though forces, for the
moment masked, were arrayed against him whose strength and whose
malignity were beyond human parallel. In what a strange, almost
incoherent way his brain was working! He roused himself a little
and looked around him--and, with a shock, the starkness of the room,
the abject, pitiful air of destitution brought home to him with
terrific, startling force the significance of the scene in which he
was playing a part. His face set suddenly in hard lines. That she
should have been brought to assume such a life as this--forced out
of her environment of wealth and refinement, forced in her purity to
rub shoulders with the vile, the dissolute, forced to exist as such
a creature amid the crime and vice, the wretched horror of the
underworld that swirled around her! There was anger now upon him,
burning, hot--a merciless craving that was a savage, hungry lust for
And then she was speaking again:
"Father's death occurred very shortly after my uncle's message
advising us to postpone our trip was received. On his death,
Travers, very naturally, as father's lawyer, cabled my uncle to come
to New York at once; and my uncle replied, saying that he was coming
by the first steamer."
She paused again--but only for an instant, as though to frame her
thoughts in words.
"I have told you that I had never seen my uncle, that even my father
had not seen him for twenty years; and I have told you that the man
you know as Henry LaSalle is an impostor--I am using the word
'uncle' now when I refer to him simply to avoid confusion. You are,
perhaps, expecting me to say that I took a distinctive dislike to
him from the moment he arrived? On the contrary, I had every reason
to be predisposed toward him; and, indeed, was rather agreeably
surprised than otherwise--he was not nearly so uncouth and
unpolished as, somehow, I had pictured his life would have made him.
Do you understand, Jimmie? He was kind, sympathetic; and, in an
apathetic way, I liked him. I say 'apathetic' because I think that
best describes my own attitude toward every one and everything
following father's death until--THAT NIGHT."
She rose abruptly from her chair, as though a passive position of
any kind had suddenly become intolerable.
"Why tell you what my father and I were to each other!" she cried
out in a low, passionate voice. "It seemed as though everything
that meant anything had gone out of my life. I became worn out,
nervous; and though the days were bad enough, the nights were a
source of dread. I began to suffer from insomnia--I could not
sleep. This was even before my supposed uncle came. I used to read
for hours and hours in my room after I had gone to bed. But"--she
flung out her hand with an impatient gesture--"there is no need to
dwell on that. One night, about a week after that man had arrived,
and a little over a month after father had died, I was in my room
and had finished a book I was reading. I remember that it was well
after midnight. I had not the slightest inclination to sleep. I
picked up another book--and after that another. There were plenty
in my room; but, irrationally, of course, none pleased me. I
decided to go down to the library--not that I think I really
expected to find anything that I actually wanted, but more because
it was an impulse, and furnished me for the moment with some
definite objective, something to do. I got up, slipped on a
dressing gown, and went downstairs. The lights were all out. I was
just on the point of switching on those in the reception hall, when
suddenly it seemed as though I had not strength to lift my hand, and
I remember that for an instant I grew terribly cold with dread and
fear. From the room on my right a voice had reached me. The door
was closed, but the voice was raised in an outburst of profanity.
I--I could hear every word.
"'If she's out of the way, there's no come-back,' the voice snarled.
'I won't listen to anything else! Do you hear! Why, you fool, what
are you trying to do--hand me one! Turn everything into cash, and
divvy, and beat it--eh? And I'm the goat, and I get caught and get
twenty years for stealing trust funds--and the rest of you get the
coin!' He swore terribly again. 'Who's taken the risk in this for
the last five years! There'll be no smart Aleck lawyer tricks--
there'll be no halfway measures! And who are you to dictate! She
goes out--that's safe--I inherit as next of kin, with no one to
dispute it, and that's all there is to it!'
"I stood there and could not move. It was the voice of the man I
knew as my uncle! My heart seemed to have stopped beating. I tried
to tell myself that I was dreaming, that it was too horrible, too
incredible to be real; that they could not really mean to--to MURDER
me. And then I recognised Hilton Travers' voice.
"'I am not dictating, and you are not serious, of course,' he said,
with what seemed an uneasy laugh. 'I am only warning you that you
are forgetting to take the real Henry LaSalle into account. He is
bound to hear of this eventually, and then--'
"Another voice broke in--one I did not recognise.
"'You're talking too loud, both of you! Travers doesn't understand,
but he's to be wised up to-night, according to orders, and--'
"The voice became inaudible, muffled--I could not hear any more. I
suppose I remained there another three or four minutes, too stunned
to know what to do; and then I ran softly along the hall to the
library door. The library, you understand, was at the rear of the
room they were in, and the two rooms were really one; that is, there
was only an archway between them. I cannot tell you what my
emotions were--I do not know. I only know that I kept repeating to
myself, 'they are going to kill me, they are going to kill me!' and
that it seemed I must try and find out everything, everything I
She turned away from the table, and began to pace nervously up and
down the miserable room.
Jimmie Dale rose impulsively from his chair--but she waved him back
"No; wait!" she said. "Let me finish. I crept into the library.
It took me a long time, because I had to be so careful not to make
the slightest noise. I suppose it was fully six or seven minutes
from the time I had first heard my supposed uncle's voice until I
had crept far enough forward to be able to see into the room beyond.
There were three men there. The man I knew as my uncle was sitting
at one end of the table; another had his back toward me; and Travers
was facing in my direction--and I think I never saw so ghastly a
face as was Hilton Travers' then. He was standing up, sort of
swaying, as he leaned with both hands on the table.
"'Now then, Travers,' the man whose back was turned to me was saying
threateningly, 'you've got the story now--sign those papers!'
"It seemed as though Travers could not speak for a moment. He kept
looking wildly from one to the other. He was white to the lips.
"'You've let me in for--THIS!' he said hoarsely, at last, 'You
devils--you devils--you devils! You've let me in for--murder! Both
of them! Both Peter and his brother--MURDERED!'"
She stopped abruptly before Jimmie Dale, and clutched his arm
"Jimmie, I don't know why I did not scream out. Everything went
black for a moment before my eyes. It was the first suspicion I had
had that my father had met with foul play, and I--"
But now Jimmie Dale swayed up from his chair.
"Murdered!" he exclaimed tensely. "Your father! But--but I
remember perfectly, there was no hint of any such thing at the time,
and never has been since. He died from quite natural causes."
She looked at him strangely.
"He died from--inoculation," she said. "Did--did you not see
something of that laboratory in the Crime Club yourself the night
before last--enough to understand?"
"Good God!" muttered Jimmie Dale, in a startled way then: "Go on!
Go on! What happened then?"
She passed her hand a little wearily across her eyes--and sank down
into her chair again.
"Travers," she continued, picking up the thread of her story, "had
raised his voice, and the third man at the table leaned suddenly,
aggressively toward him.
"'Hold your tongue!' he growled furiously. 'All you're asked to do
is sign the papers--not talk!'
"Travers shook his head.
"'I won't!' he cried out. 'I won't have any hand in another murder--
in hers! My God, I won't--I won't, I tell you! It's horrible!'
"'Look here, you fool!' the man who was posing as my uncle broke in
then. 'You're in this too deep to get out now. If you know what's
good for you, you'll do as you're told!'
"Jimmie, I shall never forget Travers' face. It seemed to have
changed from white to gray, and there was horror in his eyes: and
then he seemed to lose all control of himself, shaking his fists in
their faces, cursing them in utter abandon.
"'I'm bad!' he cried. 'I've gone everything, everything but the
limit--everything but murder. I stop there! I'll have no more to
do with this. I'm through! You--you pulled me into this, and--and
I didn't know!'
"'Well, you know now!' the third man sneered. 'What are you going
to do about it?'
"'I'm going to see that no harm comes to Marie LaSalle,' Travers
answered in a dull way.
"The other man now was on his feet--and, I do not know quite how to
express it, Jimmie, he seemed ominously quiet in both his voice and
"'You'd better think that over again, Travers!' he said. 'Do you
"'I mean it,' Travers said. 'I mean it--God help me!'
"'You may well add that!' returned the other, with an ugly laugh.
He reached out his hand toward the telephone on the table. 'Do you
know what will happen to you if I telephone a certain number and say
that you have turned--traitor?'
"'I'll have to take my chances,' Travers replied doggedly. 'I'm
"'Take them, then!' flung out the other. 'You'll have little time
given you to do us any harm?'
"Travers did not answer. I think he almost expected an attack upon
him then from the two men. He hesitated a moment, then backed
slowly toward the door. What happened in the next few moments in
that room, I do not know. I stole out of the library. I was
obsessed with the thought that I must see Travers, see him at all
costs, before he got away from the house. I reached the end of the
hall as the room door opened, and he came out. It was dark, as I
said, and I could not see distinctly, but I could make out his form.
He closed the door behind him--and then I called his name in a
whisper. He took a quick step toward me, then turned and hurried
toward the front door, and I thought he was going away--but the next
instant I understood his ruse. He opened the front door, shut it
again quite loudly, and crept back to me.
"'Take me somewhere where we will be safe--quick!' he whispered.
"There was only one place where I was sure we would be safe. I led
him to the rear of the house and up the servants' stairs, and to my
She broke off abruptly, and once more rose from her chair, and once
more began to pace the room. Back in his chair, Jimmie Dale, tense
and motionless now, watched her without a word.
"It would take too long to tell you all that passed between us," she
went on hurriedly. "The man was frankly a criminal--but not to the
extent of murder. And in that respect, at least, he was honest with
himself. Almost the first words he said to me were: 'Miss LaSalle,
I am as good as a dead man if I am caught by the devils behind those
two men downstairs.' And then he began to plead with me to make my
own escape. He did not know who the man was that was posing as my
uncle, had never seen him before until he presented himself as Henry
LaSalle; the other man he knew as Clarke, but knew also that
'Clarke' was merely an assumed name. He had fallen in with Clarke
almost from the time that he had begun to practise his profession,
and at Clarke's instigation had gone from one crooked deal to
another, and had made a great deal of money. He knew that behind
Clarke was a powerful, daring, and unscrupulous band of criminals,
organised on a gigantic scale, of which he himself was, in a sense--
a probationary sense, as he put it--a member; but he had never come
into direct contact with them--he had received all his orders and
instructions through Clarke. He had been told by Clarke that he was
to cultivate father following the introduction, to win father's
confidence, to get as many of father's affairs into his hands as
possible, to reach the position, in fact, of becoming father's
recognised attorney--and all this with the object, as he supposed of
embezzling from father on a large scale. Then father died, and
Travers was instructed to cable my uncle. He knew that the man who
answered that summons was an impostor; but he did not know, until
they had admitted it to him that night, that both my father and my
uncle had been murdered, and that I, too, was to be made away with."
She looked at Jimmie Dale, and suddenly laughed out bitterly.
"No; you don't understand, even yet, the patient, ingenious deviltry
of those fiends. It was they, at the time the new will was drawn,
who offered to buy out my real uncle's sheep ranch in that lonely,
unsettled district in Australia, and offered him that new position
in New Zealand. My uncle never reached New Zealand. He was
murdered on his way there. And in his place, assuming his name,
appeared the man who has been posing as my uncle ever since. Do you
begin to see! For five years they were patiently working out their
plans, for five years before my father's death that man lived and
became known and accepted, and ESTABLISHED himself as Henry LaSalle.
Do you see now why he cabled us to postpone our visit? He ran very
little risk. The chances were one in a thousand that any of his few
acquaintances in Australia would ever run across him in New Zealand;
and besides, he was chosen because it seems there was a slight
resemblance between him and the real Henry LaSalle--enough, with his
changed mode of living and more elaborate and pretentious
surroundings, to have enabled him to carry through a bluff had it
become necessary. He had all of my uncle's papers; and the Crime
Club furnished him with every detail of our lives here. I forgot to
say, too, that from the moment my uncle was supposed to have reached
New Zealand all his letters were typewritten--an evidence in
father's eyes that his brother had secured a position of some
importance; as, indeed, from apparently unprejudiced sources, they
took pains to assure father was a fact. This left them with only my
uncle's signature to forge to the letters--not a difficult matter
"Believing that they had Travers so deeply implicated that he could
do nothing, even if he had the inclination, which they had not for a
moment imagined, and arrogant in the belief in their own power to
put him out of the way in any case if he proved refractory, they
admitted all this to him that night when he brought up the issue of
the real Henry LaSalle putting in an appearance sooner or later, and
when they wanted him to smooth their path by releasing all documents
where his power of attorney was involved. Do you see now the part
they gave Travers to play? It was to put the stamp of genuineness
upon the false Henry LaSalle. Not but that they were prepared with
what would appear to be overwhelmingly convincing evidence to prove
it if it were necessary; but if the man were accepted by the
estate's lawyer there was little chance of any one else questioning
She halted again by the table--and forced a smile, as her eyes met
"I am almost through, Jimmie. That night was a terrible one for
both of us. Travers' life was not worth a moment's purchase once
they found him--and mine was only under reprieve until sufficient
time to obviate suspicion should have elapsed after father's death.
We had no proof that would stand in any court--even if we should
have been given the chance to adopt that course. And without
absolute, irrefutable proof, it was all so cleverly woven, stretched
over so many years, that our charge must have been held to be too
visionary and fantastic to have any basis in fact.
"All Travers would have been able to advance was the statement that
the supposed Henry LaSalle had admitted being an impostor and a
murderer to him! Who would believe it! On the face of it, it
appeared to be an absurdity. And even granted that we were given an
opportunity to bring the charge, they would be able to prove by a
hundred influential and well-known men in New Zealand that the
impostor was really Henry LaSalle; and were we able to find any of
my uncle's old acquaintances in Australia, it would be necessary to
get them here--and not one of them would have reached America alive.
"But there was not a chance, not a chance, Jimmie, of doing that--
they would have killed Travers the moment he showed himself in the
open. The only thing we could do that night was to try and save our
own lives; the only thing we could look forward to was acquiring in
some way, unknown to them, the proof, fully established, with which
we could crush them in a single stroke, and before they would have
time to strike back.
"The vital thing was proof of my uncle's death. That, if it could
be obtained at all, could only be obtained in Australia. Travers
was obliged to go somewhere, to disappear from that moment if he
wanted to save his life, and he volunteered to go out there. He
left the house that night by the back entrance in an old servant's
suit, which I found for him--and I never heard from him again until
a month ago in the 'personal' column of the MORNING NEWS-ARGUS,
through which we had agreed to communicate.
"As for myself, I left the house the next morning, telling my pseudo
uncle that I was going to spend a few days with a friend. And this
I actually did; but in those few days I managed to turn all my own
securities, that had been left me by my mother and which amounted to
a considerable sum, into cash. And then, Jimmie, I came to--this, I
have lived like this and in different disguises, as a settlement
worker, as a widow of means in a fashionable uptown apartment, but
mostly as you see me now--for five years. For five years I have
watched my supposed uncle, hoping, praying that through him I could
get to know the others associated with him; hoping, praying that
Travers would succeed; hoping, praying that we would get them all--
and watching day after day, and year after year the 'personal'
column of the paper, until at last I began to be afraid that it was
all useless. And there was nothing, Jimmie, nothing anywhere, and I
had no success"--her voice choked a little. "Nothing! Even Clarke
never went again to the house. You can understand now how I came to
know the strange things that I wrote to the Gray Seal, how the life
that I have led, how this life here in the underworld, how the
constant search for some clew on my own account brought them to my
knowledge; and you can understand now, too, why I never dared to let
you meet me, for I knew well enough that, while I worked to
undermine my father's and my uncle's murderers, they were moving
heaven and earth to find me.
"That is all, Jimmie. The day before yesterday, a month after
Travers' first message to let me know that he was coming, there was
another 'personal' giving me an hour and a telephone number. He was
back! He had everything--everything! We dared not meet; he was
afraid, suspicious that they had got track of him again. You know
the rest. That package contained the proof that, with Travers'
death, can probably never be obtained again. Do you understand why
THEY want it--why it is life and death to me? Do you understand why
my supposed uncle offered huge rewards for me, why secretly every
resource of that hideous organisation has been employed to find me--
that it is only by my DEATH the estate can pass into their hands,
She flung out her hands suddenly toward Jimmie Dale. "Oh, Jimmie,
Jimmie, I've--I've fought so long alone! Jimmie, what are we to
He came slowly to his feet. She had fought so long--alone. But
now--now it was his turn to fight--for her. But how? She had not
told him all--surely she had not told him all, for everything
depended upon that package. There had been so much to tell that she
had not thought of all, and she had not told him the details about
"That box--No. 428!" he cried quickly. "What is that? What does it
She shook her head.
"I do not know," she answered.
"Then who is this John Johansson?"
"I do not know," she said again.
"Nor where the Crime Club is?"
He stared at her for a moment in a dazed way.
"My God!" Jimmie Dale murmured.
And then she turned away her head.
"It's--it's pretty bad, isn't it, Jimmie? I--I told you that we did
not hold many trumps."
There was silence between them. Minute after minute passed.
Jimmie Dale dropped back into his chair again, and stared
abstractedly before him. "We do not hold many trumps, Jimmie--we do
not hold many trumps"--her words were repeating themselves over and
over in his mind. They seemed to challenge him mockingly to deny
what was so obviously a fact, and because he could not deny it to
taunt and jeer at him--to jeer at him, when all that was held at
stake hung literally upon his next move!
He looked up mechanically as the Tocsin walked to a broken mirror at
the rear of the miserable room; nodded mechanically in approval as
she began deftly to retouch the make-up on her face where the tears
had left their traces--and resumed his abstracted gaze before him.
Box number four-two-eight--John Johansson--the Crime Club--the
identity of the man who was posing as Henry LaSalle! If only he
could hit upon a clew to the solution of a single one of those
things, or a single phase of one of them--if only he could glimpse a
ray of light that would at least prompt action, when every moment of
inaction was multiplying the odds against them!
There were the men who were watching his house at that moment on
Riverside Drive--he, as Larry the Bat, might in turn keep watch on
them. He had though of that. In time, perhaps, he might, by so
doing, discover the whereabouts of the Crime Club. In time! It was
just that--he had no time! Forty-eight hours, the Tocsin insisted,
was all the time that he could count upon before they would become
suspicious of Jimmie Dale's "illness," before they would discover
that they were watching an empty house!
He might--though this was even more hazardous--make an attempt to
trace the wires that tapped those of his telephone through the
basement window that gave on the garage driveway. And what then?
True, they could not lead very far away; but, even if successful,
what then? They would not lead him to the Crime Club, but simply to
some confederate, to some man or woman playing the part of a
servant, perhaps, in the house next door, who, in turn, would have
to be shadowed and watched.
Jimmie Dale shook his head. Better, of the two, to start in at once
and shadow those who were shadowing his house. But that was not the
way! He knew that intuitively. He hated to eliminate it from
consideration, for he had no other move to take its place--but such
a move was almost suicide in itself. Time, and time alone, was the
vital factor. They, the Tocsin and he, must act quickly--and STRIKE
that night if they were to win. His fingers, the grimy fingers,
dirty-nailed, of Larry the Bat, that none now would recognise as the
slim tapering, wonderfully sensitive fingers of Jimmie Dale, the
fingers that had made the name of the Gray Seal famous, whose tips
mocked at bars and safes and locks, and seemed to embody in
themselves all the human senses, tightened spasmodically on the edge
of the table. Time! Time! Time! It seemed to din in his ears.
And while he sat there powerless, impotent, the Crime Club was
moving heaven and earth to find what HE must find--that package--if
he was to save this woman here, the woman whom he loved, she who had
been forced, through the machinations of these hell fiends, to adopt
the life of a wretched hag, to exist among the dregs of the
underworld, whose squalour and vice and wantonness none knew better
Jimmie Dale's face set grimly. Somewhere--somewhere in the past
five years of this life of hers in which she had been fighting the
Crime Club, pitting that clever brain of hers against it, MUST lie a
clew. She had told him her story only in baldest outline, with
scarcely a reference to her own personal acts, with barely a single
detail. There must be something, something that perhaps she had
overlooked, something, just the merest hint of something that would
supply a starting point, give him a glimmer of light.
She came back from across the room, and sank down in her chair
again. She did not speak--the question, that meant life and death
to them both, was in her eyes.
Jimmie answered the mute interrogation tersely.
"Not yet!" he said. Then, almost curtly, in a quick, incisive way,
as the keen, alert brain began to delve and probe: "You say this man
Clarke never returned to the house after that night?"
She nodded her head quietly.
"You are sure of that?" he insisted.
"Yes," she said. "I am sure."
"And you say that all these years you have kept a watch on the man
who is posing as your uncle, and that he never went anywhere, or
associated with any one, that would afford you a clew to this Crime
"Yes," she said again.
It was a moment before Jimmie Dale spoke.
"It's very strange!" he said musingly, at last. "So strange, in
fact, that it's impossible. He must have communicated with the
others, and communicated with them often. The game they were
playing was too big, too full of details, to admit of any other
possibility. And the telephone as an explanation isn't good
"And yet," she said earnestly, "possible or impossible, it is
nevertheless true. That he might have succeeded in eluding me on
occasions was perhaps to be expected; but that in all those years I
should not catch him once in what, if you are correct, must have
been many and repeated conferences with the same men is too
improbable to be thought of seriously."
Jimmie Dale shook his head again.
"If you had been able to watch him night and day, that might be so,"
he said crisply. "But, at best, you could only watch him a very
small portion of the time."
She smiled at him a little wanly.
"Do you think, Jimmie, from what you, as the Gray Seal, know of me,
that I would have watched in any haphazard way like that?"
He glanced at her with a sudden start.
"What do you mean?" he asked quickly.
"Look at me!" she said quietly. "Have you ever seen me before? I
mean as I am now."
"No," he answered, after an instant. "Not that I know of."
"And yet"--she smiled wanly again--"you have not lived, or made the
place you hold in the underworld, without having heard of Silver
"You!" exclaimed Jimmie Dale. "You--Silver Mag!" He stared at her
wonderingly, as, crouch-shouldered now, the hair, gray-threaded,
straggling out from under the hood of a faded, dark-blue, seam-worn
cloak, she sat before him, a typical creature of the underworld, her
role an art in its conception, perfect in its execution. Silver
Mag! Yes, he had heard of Silver Mag--as every one in the Bad Lands
had heard of her. Silver Mag and her pocketful of coin! Always a
pocketful of silver, so they said, that was dispensed prodigally to
the wives and children temporarily deprived of support by husbands
and fathers unfortunate enough in their clashes with the law to be
doing "spaces" up the river--and therefore the underworld swore by
Silver Mag. Always silver, never a bill; Silver Mag had never been
seen with a banknote--that was her eccentricity. Much or little,
she gave or paid out of her pocketful of jangling silver. She was
credited with being a sworn enemy of the police, and--yes, he
remembered, too--with having done "time" herself. "I don't quite
understand," he said, in a puzzled way. "I haven't run across you
personally because you probably took care to see that I shouldn't;
but--it's no secret--every one says you've served a jail sentence
"That is simply enough explained," she answered gravely. "The story
is of my own making. When I decided to adopt this life, both for my
own safety and as the best means of keeping a watch on that man, I
knew that I must win the confidence of the underworld, that I must
have help, and that in order to obtain that help I must have some
excuse for my enmity against the man known as Henry LaSalle. To be
widely known in the underworld was of inestimable value--nothing, I
knew, could accomplish that as quickly as eccentricity. You see now
how and why I became known as Silver Mag. I gained the confidence
of every crook in New York through their wives and children. I told
them the story of my jail sentence--while I swore vengeance on Henry
LaSalle. I told them that he had had me arrested for something I
never stole while I was working for him as a charwoman, and that he
had had me railroaded to jail. There wasn't one but gave me credit
for the theft, perhaps; but equally, there wasn't one but
understood, and my eccentricity helped this out, my wanting to 'get'
Henry LaSalle. Well--do you see now, Jimmie? I had money, I had
the confidence of the underworld, I had an excuse for my hatred of
Henry LaSalle, and so I had all the help I wanted. Day and night
that man has been watched. He receives no visitors--what social
life he has is, as you know, at the club. There is not a house that
he has ever entered that, sooner or later, I have not entered after
him in the hope of finding the headquarters of the clique. Even the
men and women, as far as human possibility could accomplish it, that
he has talked to on the streets have been shadowed, and their
identity satisfactorily established--and the net result has been
failure; utter, absolute, complete failure!"
Jimmie Dale's eyes, that had held steadily on her face, shifted,
troubled and perplexed, to the table top.
"You are wonderful!" he said, under his breath. "Wonderful! And--
and that makes it all the more amazing, all the more
incomprehensible. It is still impossible that he has not been in
close and constant touch with his accomplices. He MUST have been!
We would be blind fools to argue against it! It could not, on the
face of it, have been otherwise!"
"Then how, when, where has he done it?" she asked wearily.
"God knows!" he said bitterly. "And if they have been clever enough
to escape you all these years, I'm almost inclined to say what you
said a little while ago--that we're beaten."
She watched him miserably, as he pushed back his chair impulsively
and, standing up, stared down at her.
"We're against it--HARD!" he said, with a mirthless laugh. Then,
his lips tightening: "But we'll try another tack--the chauffeur--
Travers. Though even here the Crime Club has a day's start of us,
even if last night they knew no more about the whereabouts of that
package than we know now. I'm afraid of it! The chances are more
than even that they've already got it. If they were able to catch
Travers as the chauffeur, they would have had something tangible to
work back from"--Jimmie Dale was talking more to himself than to the
Tocsin now, as though he were muttering his thoughts aloud. "How
did they get track of him? When? Where? What has it led to? And
what in Heaven's name," he burst out suddenly, "is this box number
"A safety-deposit vault, perhaps, that he has taken somewhere," she
Jimmie Dale laughed mirthlessly again.
"That is the one definite thing I do know--that it isn't!" he said
positively. "It is nothing of that kind. It was half-past ten
o'clock at night when I met him, and he said that he had intended
going back for the package if it had been safe to do so. Deposit
vaults are not open at that hour. The package is, or was, if they
have not already got it, readily accessible--and at any hour. Now
go over everything again, every detail that passed between you and
Travers. He let you know that he was back in New York by means of a
'personal,' you said. What else was in that 'personal' besides the
telephone number and the hour you were to call him? Anything?"
"Nothing that will help us any," she replied colourlessly. There
were simply the words 'northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Waverly
Place,' and the signature that we had agreed upon, the two first and
two last letters of the alphabet transposed--BAZY."
"I see," said Jimmie Dale quickly. "And over the 'phone he
completed his message. Clever enough!"
"Yes," she said. "In that way, if any one were listening, or
overhead the plan, there could be little harm come of it, for the
essential feature of all, the place of rendezvous, was not
mentioned. It has not been Travers' fault that this happened--and
in spite of every precaution it has cost him his life. He wanted
nothing to give them a clew to my whereabouts; he was trying to
guard against the slightest evidence that would associate us one
with the other. He even warned me over the 'phone not to tell him
how, where, or the mode of life I was living. And naturally, he
dared give me no particulars about himself. I was simply to select
a third party whom I could trust, and to follow out his
instructions, which were those that I sent to you in my letter."
Jimmie Dale began to pace nervously up and down the room.
"Nothing else?" he queried, a little blankly.
"Nothing else," she said monotonously.
"But since last night, since you knew that things had gone wrong,"
he persisted, "surely you traced that telephone number--the one you
"Yes," she said, and shrugged her shoulders in a tired way.
"Naturally I did that--but, like everything else, it amounted to
nothing. He telephoned from Makoff's pawnshop on that alley off
Thompson Street, and--"
"WHERE!" Jimmie Dale, suddenly stock-still, almost shouted the word.
"He telephoned from--where! Say that again!"
She looked at him in amazement, half rising from her chair.
"Jimmie, what is it?" she cried. "You don't mean that--"
He was beside her now, his hands pressed upon her shoulders, his
"Box number four-two-eight!" He laughed out hysterically in his
excitement. "John Johansson--box number four-two-eight! And like a
fool I never thought of it! Don't you see? Don't you know now
yourself? THE UNDERGROUND POST OFFICE!"
She stood up, clinging to him; a wild relief, that was based on her
confidence in him, in her eyes and face, even while she shook her
"No," she said frantically. "No--I do not know. Tell me, Jimmie!
Tell me quickly! You mean at Makoff's?"
"No! Not Makoff's--at Spider Jack's, on Thompson Street!"--he was
clipping off his words, still holding her tightly by the shoulders,
still staring into her eyes. "You know Spider Jack! Jack's little
novelty store! Ah, you have not learned all of the underworld yet!
Spider Jack is the craftiest 'fence' in the Bad Lands--and Makoff is
his partner. Spider buys the crooks' stuff, and Makoff disposes of
it through the pawnshop--it's only a step through the connecting
back yard from one to the other, and--"
"Yes--but," she interrupted feverishly, "the package--you said--"
"Wait!" Jimmie Dale cried. "I'm coming to that! If Travers stood
in with Makoff, he stood in with Spider Jack. For years Spider has
been a sort of clearing house for the underworld--for years he has
conducted, and profitably, too, his underground post office. Crooks
from all over the country, let alone those in New York, communicate
with each other through Spider Jack. These, for a fee, are
registered at Spider's, and given a number--a box number he calls
it, though, of course, there are no actual boxes. Letters come by
mail addressed to him--the sealed envelope within containing the
actually intended recipient's name. These Spider either forwards,
or delivers in person when they are called for. Dozens of crooks,
too, unwilling, perhaps, to dispose of small ill-gotten articles at
ruinous 'fence' prices, and finding it unhealthy for the moment to
keep them in their possession, use this means of depositing them
temporarily for safe-keeping. You see now, don't you? It's certain
that's where Travers left the package. He used the name of John
Johansson, not to hoodwink Spider Jack, I should say, but as an
added safeguard against the Crime Club. Travers must have known
both Makoff and Spider Jack in the old days, and probably had
reason, and good reason, to trust them both--possibly, a crook then
himself, as he confessed, he may have acted in a legal capacity for
them in their frequent tangles with the police."
"Then," she said--and there was a glad, new note in her voice,
"then, Jimmie--Jimmie, we are safe! You can get it, Jimmie! It is
only a little thing for the Gray Seal to do--to get it now that we
know where it is."
"Yes," he said tersely. "Yes--if it is still there."
"Still there!"--she repeated the words quickly, nervously. "Still
there! What do you mean?"
"I mean if they, too, have not discovered that he was at Makoff's--
if they have not got there first!" he said grimly. "There seems to
be no limit to their cleverness, or their power. They penetrated
his disguise as a chauffeur, and who knows what more they have
learned since last night? We are fighting them in the dark, and--
WHAT'S THAT!" he whispered tensely, suddenly--and leaning forward
like a flash, as he whipped his automatic from his pocket, he blew
out the lamp.
The room was in darkness. They stood there rigid, silent,
listening. Her hand found and caught his arm.
And then it came again--a low sound, the sound of a stealthy
footstep just outside the window that faced on the storage yard.
A minute passed--another. The automatic at Jimmie Dale's hip, the
muzzle just peeping over the table top, held a steady bead on the
window. Came the footstep again--and then suddenly, a series of
low, quick tappings upon the windowpane. The Tocsin's hand slipped
away from his arm. Jimmie Dale's set face relaxed as he read the
underground Morse, and he replaced his revolver slowly in his
"The Magpie!" said Jimmie Dale, in an undertone. "What's he want?"
"I don't know," she answered, in a whisper. "He never came here
before. There's a back way out, Jimmie, if you--"
"No," he said quickly. "We've enemies enough, with out making one
of the Magpie. He knows some one is here with you--our shadows were
on the blind. Don't queer yourself. Let him in. I'll light the
He struck a match, as she ran from the room, and, lifting the hot
lamp chimney with the edge of his ragged coat, lighted the lamp. He
turned the wick down a little, shading and dimming the room--and
then, as he flirted a bead of moisture from his forehead,
whimsically stretched out his hand to watch it in the lamplight.
"That's bad, Jimmie," he muttered gravely to himself, as he noted an
almost imperceptible tremour. "Got a start, didn't you! Under a
bit of a strain, eh? Well"--grimly--"never mind! It looks as though
the luck had turned Makoff and Spider Jack!"
His hand reached up to his hat, jerked the brim at a rakish angle
over his eyes--and he sprawled himself out on a chair. He heard the
Tocsin's voice at the front door, and a man's voice, low and
guarded, answer her. Then the door closed, and their steps
approached the room. It was rather curious, that--a visit from the
Magpie! What could the Magpie want? What could there be in common
between the Magpie and Silver Mag? The Magpie, alias Slimmy Joe,
was counted the cleverest safe worker in the United States, barring
only and always one--a smile flickered across the lips of Larry the
Bat--one whose pre-eminence the Magpie, much to his own chagrin,
admitted himself--the Gray Seal!
He looked up, twisting the stub of a cigarette between his grimy
fingers and fumbling for a match, as the Tocsin and, behind her, the
Magpie, short, slim, and wiry, shrewd-faced, with sharp, quick-
glancing little black eyes, entered the room.
"'Ello, Larry!" grinned the Magpie. "Got yer breath back yet? I
felt it through de windowpane when youse let go at de lamp!"
"'Ello, Slimmy!" returned Jimmie Dale ungraciously, speaking through
the corner of his mouth. "Ferget it!"
"Sure!" said the Magpie unconcernedly. He stared about him, and
finally, drawing a chair up to the table, sat down, motioned the
Tocsin to do the same, and leaned forward amiably. "I didn't mean
to throw no scare into youse," he said, in a conciliating tone.
"But I had a little business wid Mag, an' I was kind of interested
in whether she was entertainin' company or not--see? I didn't know
youse an' Mag was workin' together."
"Mabbe," observed Jimmie Dale, as ungraciously as before, "mabbe
dere's some more t'ings youse don't know!"
"Aw, cough up de grouch!" advised the Magpie, with a hint of
impatience creeping into his voice. "Youse don't need to be sore
all night! I told youse I wasn't tryin' to hand youse one, didn't
"Never mind Larry, Slimmy," put in the Tocsin petulantly. "He's
down on his luck, dat's all. He ain't had de price of a pinch of
coke fer two days."
"Oho!" exclaimed the Magpie, grinning again. "So dat's wot's givin'
youse de pip, eh, Larry? Well, den, say, youse can take it from me
dat mabbe youse'll be glad I blew around. I was lookin' fer a guy
about yer size fer a little job to-night, an' I was t'inkin' of
lettin' Young Dutchy in on it, but seem' youse are here an' in wid
Mag, an' dat I got to get Mag in, too, youse are on if youse say de
"Wot's de lay?" inquired Larry the Bat, unbending a little.
The Magpie cocked his eye, and stuck his tongue in his cheek.
"GOOD-night!" he said tersely. "Nothin' like dat! Are youse on, or
"Well, den, wot's in it fer me?" persisted Larrry the Bat.
"More'n de price of a coke sneeze!" returned the Magpie pertinently.
"Dere's a century note fer youse, an' mabbe two or t'ree of dem fer
Larry the Bat's eyes gleamed avariciously.
"Aw, quit yer kiddin'!" he said gruffly. "A century note--fer me!"
"Dat's wot I said! Youse heard me!" rejoined the Magpie shortly.
"Only if it listens good to youse now, I don't want no squealin'
after the divvy. I'm takin' de chances, youse has de soft end of
it. One century note fer youse--an' de rest is none of yer
business! Dat's puttin' it straight, ain't it? Well, wot do youse
say, an' say it quick--'cause if youse ain't comin' in, youse can
beat it out of here so's I can talk to Mag."
"Dere ain't nothin' I wouldn't take a chance on fer a hundred
plunks!" declared Larry the Bat, with sudden fervency--and stared,
anxiously expectant, at the Magpie. "Sure, I'm on Slimmy! Sure, I
am! Cut it loose! Spill de story!"
"Well, den," said the Magpie, "I wants--"
"Youse ain't through yet!" interrupted the Tocsin tartly. "I ain't
heard youse askin' me nothin'! I ain't on me uppers like Larry, an'
mabbe de price don't cut so much ice--see?"
"Aw," said the Magpie, with a smirk, "I don't have to ask youse on
dis lay. Dis is where youse'd come in on it fer marbles. Say, dis
is where we gets de hook into a guy by de name of Henry LaSalle!
HENRY LASALLE! Under the table, Jimmie Dale's hand clenched
suddenly; but not a muscle of his face moved, save, as with the tip
of his tongue, he shifted the butt of the cigarette that was hanging
royally from his lower lip to the other corner of his mouth.
"Sure! She's 'got' youse, Slimmy!" he flung out, with a grin, as
the Tocsin wrinkled up her face menacingly and began to mumble to
herself. "He's de guy dat handed her one when she was young, an'
she's been layin' fer him ever since! Sure! I know! Ain't I
worked him fer her till I wears me shoes out tryin' to get somet'ing
on him! Sure, she's in on it! Go on, Slimmy, wot's de lay? Wot do
I do fer dat century?"
The Magpie hitched his chair closer to the table and, as his sharp,
little, ferret eyes glanced around the room, motioned the two to
brings their heads nearer.
"One of me influential broker friends down on Wall Street put me
wise," he said, with a wink. "Dat's good enough fer youse two, as
far as dat goes. But take it from me, I got it dead straight." He
lowered his voice "Say, he's one of de richest mugs in New York,
ain't he? Well, he's been sellin' stocks an' bonds all day,
t'ousands an' t'ousands of dollars' worth--fer cash."
"All dem t'ings is always sold fer cash," remarked Larry the Bat
"Aw, ferget it!" said the Magpie earnestly. "Fer CASH, I said--de
coin, de long green--understand? He wasn't shovin' no checks fer
what he sold into de bank except to get dem cashed. Dat's wot he's
been doin' all day--gettin' de checks cashed, an' gettin' de money
in big bills--see! I know of one bunch of eighty t'ousand--an'
dat's only one!"
"Wot fer?" inquired Larry the Bat. It was the question that was
pounding at his brain, as he stared innocently at the Magpie. What
did it mean? Why was Henry LaSalle turning, and, if the Magpie was
right, feverishly turning every security he could lay his hands on
into cash? And then, in a flash, the answer came. THEY HAD NOT
FOUND THE PACKAGE! Equally to them, as to the Tocsin, sitting there
before him, it meant life and death. If the package were found by
the Tocsin instead of themselves, the game was up! They were
preparing for eventualities. If they were forced to run at a
moment's notice, they at least were not going to run empty-handed!
Far from empty-handed, it seemed! It would not be difficult for the
estate's executor to realise a vast sum in short order on instantly
marketable, gilt-edged securities--say, half a million dollars. Not
very bulky, either--in large bills! Five thousand hundred-dollar
bills would make half a million. It was astonishing how small a
hand bag, say, might hold a fortune! "Wot fer, Slimmy?" he inquired
again, wiggling his cigarette butt on his tongue tip. "Wot'd he do