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The Brass Bowl by Louis Joseph Vance

Part 4 out of 5

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staircase, this the personality whose animosity toward her had grown so
virulent that, even when consciously ignorant of its proximity, she had
been repelled and frightened by its subtle emanations! And now--and now
she was in his power!

Dazed with fear she started up, acting blindly on the primitive instinct
to fly; and in another moment, doubtless, would have thrown herself boldly
from the cab to the sidewalk, had her companion not seized her by the
forearm and by simple force compelled her to resume her seat.

"Be still, you little fool!" he told her sharply. "Do you think that I'm
going to let you go a third time? Not till I'm through with you.... And if
you scream, by the powers, I'll throttle you!"

XIV

RETRIBUTION

She sank back, speechless. Anisty glanced her up and down without visible
emotion, then laughed unpleasantly,--the hard and unyielding laugh of
brute man brutishly impassioned.

"This silly ass, Maitland," he observed, "isn't really as superfluous as
he seems. _I_ find him quite a convenience, and I suppose that ought
to be totted up to his credit, since it's because he's got the good taste
to resemble me.... Consider his thoughtfulness in providing me this cab!
What'd I've done without it? To tell the truth I was quite at a loss to
frame it up, how to win your coy consent to this giddy elopement, back
there in the hall. But dear kind Mis-ter Maitland, bless his innocent
heart! fixes it all up for me.... And so," concluded the criminal with
ironic relish,--"and so I've got _you_, my lady."

He looked at her in sidelong fashion, speculative, calculating,
relentless. And she bowed her head, assenting, "Yes--"

"You're dead right, little woman. Got you. Um-mmm."

She made no reply; she could have made none aside from raising an outcry,
although now she was regaining something of her shattered poise, and with
it the ability to accept the situation quietly, for a little time (she
could not guess how long she could endure the strain), pending an
opportunity to turn the tables on this, her persecutor.

"What is it," she said presently, with some effort--"what is it you wish
with me?"

"I have my purpose," with a grim smile.

"You will not tell me?"

"You've guessed it, my lady; I will not--just yet. Wait a bit."

She spurred her flagging spirit until it flashed defiance. "Mr. Anisty!"

"Yes?" he responded with a curling lip, cold eyes to hers.

"I demand--"

"No you don't!" he cut her short with a snarl. "You're not in a position
to demand anything. Maybe it would be as well for you to remember who
you're dealing with."

"And----?"--heart sinking again.

"And I've been made a fool of just as long as I can stand for it. I'm a
crook--like yourself, my lady, but with more backbone and some pride in
being at the head of my profession. I'm wanted in a dozen places; I'll
spend the rest of my days in the pen, if they ever get me. Twice today
I've been within an ace of being nabbed--kindness of you and your
Maitland. Now--I'm desperate and determined. Do you connect?"

"What--?" she asked breathlessly.

"I can make you understand, I fancy. Tonight, instead of dropping to the
back yard and shinning over the fences to safety, I took the fire escape
up to the top flat--something a copper would never think of--and went
through to the hall. Why? Why, to interrupt the tender tete-a-tete
Maitland had planned. Why again? Because, for one thing, I've never yet
been beaten at my own game; and I'm too old a dog to learn new tricks.
Moreover, no man yet has ever laid hands on me in anger and not regretted
it." The criminal's voice fell a note or two, shaking with somber passion.
"I'll have that pup's hide yet!" he swore.

The girl tried to nerve herself. "It--it doesn't seem to strike you," she
argued, controlling her hysteria by sheer strength of purpose, "that I
have only to raise my voice to bring all Broadway to my rescue."

For by now the cab had sheered off into that thoroughfare, and was rocking
rapidly south, between glittering walls of light. A surface car swooped
down upon them, and past, making night hideous with gong and drumming
trucks, and drowning Anisty's response. For which reason he chose to
repeat it, with added emphasis.

"You try it on, my lady, and see what happens."

She had no answer ready, and he proceeded, after waiting a moment: "But
you're not going to be such a fool. You have no pleasure in the prospect
of seeing the inside of the Tombs, yourself; and, besides, you ought to
know me well enough to know...."

"What?" she breathed, in spite of herself.

Anisty folded his arms, thrusting the right hand beneath his coat.

"Maitland got only one of my guns," he announced ironically. "He'd've got
the contents of the other, only he chose to play the fool and into my
hands. Now I guess you understand,"--and turning his head he fixed her
with an inflexible glare, chill and heartless as steel,--"that one squeal
out of you will be the last. Oh, I've got no scruples; arrest to me means
a living death. I'll take a shorter course, by preference, and--I'll take
you with me for company."

"You--you mean you would shoot me?" she whispered, incredulous.

"Like a dog," he returned with unction.

"You, a man, would--would shoot a woman?"

"You're not a woman, my lady: you're a crook. Just as I'm not a man:
_I'm_ a crook. We're equals, sexless, soulless. You seem to have
overlooked that. Amateurs often do.... To-night I made you a fair
proposition, to play square with me and profit. You chose to be haughty.
Now you see the other side of the picture."

Bravado? Or deadly purpose? How could she tell? Her heart misgave her; she
crushed herself away from him as from some abnormally vicious, loathly
reptile.

He understood this; and regarded her with a confident leer, inscrutably
strong and malevolent.

"And there is one other reason why you will think twice before making a
row," he clinched his case. "If you did that, and I weakly permitted the
police to nab and walk us off, the business would get in the papers--your
name and all; and--what'd Maitland think of you then, my lady? What'd he
think when he read that Dan Anisty had been pinched on Broadway in company
with the little woman he'd been making eyes at--whom he was going, in his
fine manlike way, to reach down a hand to and yank up out of the gutter
and redeem and--and all that slush? Eh?"

And again his low evil laugh made her shudder. "Now, you won't risk that.
You'll come with me and behave, I guess, all right."

She was dumb, stupefied with misery.

He turned upon her sharply.

"Well?"

Her lips moved in soundless assent,--lips as pallid and bloodless as the
wan young face beneath the small inconspicuous hat.

The man grunted impatiently; yet was satisfied, knowing that he had her
now completely under control: a condition not hard to bring about in a
woman who, like this, was worn out with physical fatigue and overwrought
with nervous strain. The conditions had been favorable, the result was
preeminently comfortable. She would give him no more trouble.

The hansom swerved suddenly across the car-tracks and pulled up at the
curb. Anisty rose with an exclamation of relief and climbed down to the
sidewalk, turning and extending a hand to assist the girl.

"Come!" he said imperatively. "We've no time to waste."

For an instant only she harbored a fugitive thought of resistance; then
his eyes met hers and held them, and her mind seemed to go blank under his
steadfast and domineering regard. "Come!" he repeated sharply. Trembling,
she placed a hand in his and somehow found herself by his side. Regardless
of appearances the man retained her hand, merely shifting it beneath his
arm, where a firm pressure of the elbow held it as in a vise.

"You needn't wait," he said curtly to the cabby; and swung about, the girl
by his side.

"No nonsense now," he warned her tensely, again thrusting a hand in his
breast pocket significantly.

"I understand," she breathed faintly, between closed teeth.

She had barely time to remark the towering white facade of upper
Broadway's tallest sky-scraper ere she was half led, half dragged into the
entrance of the building.

The marble slabs of the vestibule echoed strangely to their
footsteps--those slabs that shake from dawn to dark with the tread of
countless feet. They moved rapidly toward the elevator-shaft, passing on
their way deserted cigar- and news-stands shrouded in dirty brown clothes.
By the dark and silent well, where the six elevators (of which one only
was a-light and ready for use) stood motionless as if slumbering in utter
weariness after the gigantic exertions of the day, they came to a halt;
and a chair was scraped noisily on the floor as a night-watchman rose,
rubbing his eyes and yawning, to face them.

Anisty opened the interview brusquely. "Is Mr. Bannerman in now?" he
demanded.

The watchman opened his eyes wider, losing some of his sleepy expression;
and observed the speaker and his companion--the small, shrinking,
frightened-looking little woman who bore so heavily on her escort's arm,
as if ready to drop with exhaustion. It appeared that he knew Maitland by
sight, or else thought that he did.

"Oh, ye're Mister Maitland, ain't yous?" he said. "Nope; if Misther
Bannerman's in his offis, I dunno nothin' about it."

"He was to meet me here at two," Anisty affirmed. "It's a very important
case. I'm sure he must be along, immediately, if he's not up-stairs.
You're sure--?"

"Nah, I ain't sure. He may've been there all night, f'r all I know. But
I'll take yous up 'f you want," with a doubtful glance at the girl.

"This lady is one of Mr. Bannerman's clients, and in great trouble." The
self-styled Maitland laid his hand in a protecting gesture over the
fingers on his arm; and pressed them cruelly. "I think we will go up,
thank you. If Bannerman's not in, I can 'phone him. I've a pass-key."

The watchman appeared satisfied: Maitland's social standing was guaranty
enough.

"All right, sir. Step in."

The girl made one final effort to hang back. Anisty's brows blackened. "By
God!" he told her in a whisper. "If you dare...!"

And somehow she found herself at his side in the steel cage, the gate's
clang ringing loud in her ears. The motion of the car, shooting upwards
with rapidly increasing speed, made her slightly giddy. Despite Anisty's
supporting arm she reeled back against the wall of the cage, closing her
eyes. The man observed this with covert satisfaction.

As the speed decreased she began to feel slightly stronger; and again
opened her eyes. The floor numbers, black upon a white ground, were
steadily slipping down; the first she recognized being 19. The pace was
sensibly decreased. Then with a slight jar the elevator stopped at 22.

"Yous know the way?"

"Perfectly," replied Anisty. "Two flights up--in the tower."

"Right. When yous wants me, ring."

The car dropped like a plummet, leaving them in darkness--or rather in a
thick gloom but slightly moderated by the moonlight streaming in at
windows at either end of the corridor. Anisty gripped the girl more
roughly.

"Now, my lady! No shennanigan!"

A futile, superfluous reminder. Temporarily at least she was become as wax
in his hands. So complex had been the day's emotions, so severe her
nervous tension, so heavy the tax upon her stamina, that she had lapsed
into a state of subjective consciousness, in which she responded without
purpose, almost dreamily, to the suggestions of the stronger will.

Wearily she stumbled up the two brief flights of stairs leading to the
tower-like cupola of the sky-scraper: two floors superimposed upon the
roof with scant excuse save that of giving the building the distinction of
being the loftiest in that section of the city--certainly not to lend any
finishing touch of architectural beauty to the edifice.

On the top landing a door confronted them, its glass panel shining dimly
in the darkness. Anisty paused, unceremoniously thrusting the girl to one
side and away from the head of the staircase; and fumbled in a pocket,
presently producing a jingling bunch of keys. For a moment or two she
heard him working at the lock and muttering in an undertone,--probably
swearing,--and then, with a click, the door swung open.

The man thrust a hand inside, touched an electric switch, flooding the
room with light, and motioned the girl to enter. She obeyed passively,
thoroughly subjugated: and found herself in a large and well-furnished
office, apparently the outer of two rooms. The glare of electric light at
first partly blinded her; and she halted instinctively a few steps from
the door, waiting for her eyes to become accustomed to the change.

Behind her the door was closed softly; and there followed a thud as a bolt
was shot. An instant later Anisty caught her by the arm and, roughly now
and without wasting speech, hurried her into the next room. Then,
releasing her, he turned up the lights and, passing to the windows, threw
two or three of them wide; for the air in the room was stale and lifeless.

"And now," said the criminal in a tone of satisfaction, "now we can talk
business, my dear."

He removed his overcoat and hat, throwing them over the back of a
convenient chair, drew his fingers thoughtfully across his chin, and,
standing at a little distance, regarded the girl with a shadow of a
saturnine smile softening the hard line of his lips.

She stood where he had left her, as if volition was no longer hers. Her
arms hung slack at her sides and she was swaying a trifle, her face
vacant, eyes blank: very near the breaking-down point.

The man was not without perception; and recognized her state--one in
which, he felt assured, he could get very little out of her. She must be
strengthened and revived before she would or could respond to the direct
catechism he had in store for her. In his own interest, therefore, more
than through any yielding to motives of pity and compassion, he piloted
her to a chair by a window and brought her a glass of clear cold water
from the filter in the adjoining room.

The cold, fresh breeze blowing in her face proved wonderfully
invigorating. She let her head sink back upon the cushions of the easy,
comfortable leather chair and drank in the clean air in great deep
draughts, with a sense of renewing vigor, both bodily and spiritual. The
water helped, too: she dabbled the tip of a ridiculously small
handkerchief in it and bathed her throbbing temples. The while, Anisty
stood over her, waiting with discrimination if with scant patience.

What was to come she neither knew nor greatly cared; but, with an
instinctive desire to postpone the inevitable moment of trial, she
simulated deadly languor for some moments after becoming conscious of her
position: and lay passive, long lashes all but touching her cheeks,--in
which now a faint color was growing,--gaze wandering at random out over a
dreary wilderness of flat rectangular roofs, livid in the moonlight,
broken by long, straight clefts of darkness in whose depths lights gleamed
faintly. Far in the south the sky came down purple and black to the
horizon, where a silver spark glittered like a low-swung star: the torch
of Liberty.

"I think," Anisty's clear-cut tones, incisive as a razor edge, crossed the
listless trend of her thoughts: "I think we will now get down to business,
my lady!"

She lifted her lashes, meeting his masterful stare with a look of calm
inquiry. "Well?"

"So you're better now? Possibly it was a mistake to give you that rest, my
lady. Still, when one's a gentleman-cracksman----!" He chuckled
unpleasantly, not troubling to finish his sentence.

"Well?" he mocked, seating himself easily upon an adjacent table. "We're
here at last, where we'll suffer no interruptions to our little council of
war. Beyond the watchman, there's probably not another soul in the
building; and from that window there it is a straight drop of twenty-four
stories to Broadway, while I'm between you and the door. So you may be
resigned to stay here until I get ready to let you go. If you scream for
help, no one will hear you."

"Very well," she assented mechanically, turning her head away with a
shiver of disgust. "What is it you want?"

"The jewels," he said bluntly. "You might have guessed that."

"I did...."

"And have saved yourself and me considerable trouble by speaking ten
minutes ago."

"Yes," she agreed abstractedly.

"Now," he continued with a hint of anger in his voice, "you are going to
tell."

She shook her head slightly.

"Oh, but you are, my lady." And his tone rasped, quickened with the latent
brutality of the natural criminal. "And I know that you'll not force me to
extreme measures. It wouldn't be pleasant for you, you know; and I promise
you I shall stop at nothing whatever to make you speak."

No answer; in absolute indifference, she felt, lay her strongest weapon.
She must keep calm and self-possessed, refusing to be terrified into a
quick and thoughtless answer. "This afternoon," he said harshly, "you
stole from me the Maitland jewels. Where are they?"

"I shall not tell."

He bent swiftly forward and took one of her hands in his. Instinctively
she clenched it; and he wrapped his strong hard fingers around the small
white fist, then deliberately inserted a hard finger joint between her
second and third knuckles, slowly increasing the pressure. And watched
with absolute indifference the lines of agony grave themselves upon her
smooth unwrinkled forehead, and the color leave her cheeks, as the pain
grew too exquisite. Then, suddenly discontinuing the pressure, but
retaining her hand, he laughed shortly.

"Will you speak, my lady, or will you have more?"

"Don't," she gasped, "please...!"

"Where are the jewels? Will you?"

"No."

"Have you given them to Maitland?"

"No."

"Where are they?"

"I don't know."

"Stop that nonsense unless.... Where did you leave them?"

"I won't tell--I won't.... Ah, please, _please!_"

"Tell me!"

"Never.... Ah-h!..."

An abrupt and resounding hammering at the outer door forced him to leave
off. He dropped her hand with an oath and springing to his feet drew his
revolver; then, with a glance at the girl, who was silently weeping, tears
of pain rolling down her cheeks, mouth set in a thin pale line of
determination, strode out and shut the door after him.

As it closed the girl leaped to her feet, maddened with torture, wild eyes
casting about the room for a weapon of some sort, of offense or defense;
for she could not have endured the torture an instant longer. If forced to
it, to fight, fight she would. If only she had something, a stick of wood,
to defend herself with.... But there was nothing, nothing at all.

The room was a typical office, well but severely furnished. The rug that
covered the tile floor was of rich quality and rare design. The
neutral-tinted walls were bare, but for a couple of steel engravings in
heavy wooden frames. There were three heavily upholstered leather
arm-chairs and one revolving desk-chair; a roll-top desk, against the
partition wall, a waste-paper basket, and a flat-topped desk, or table.
And that was all.

Or not quite all, else the office equipment had not been complete. There
was the telephone!

But he would hear! Or was the partition sound-proof?

As if in contradiction of the suggestion, there came to her ears very
clearly the sound of the hall door creaking on its hinges, and then a
man's voice, shrill with anger and anxiety.

"You fool! Do you want to ruin us both? What do you mean----"

The door crashed to, interrupting the protest and drowning Anisty's reply.

"I was passing," the new voice took up its plaintive remonstrance, "and
the watchman called me in and said that you were telephoning for me----"

"Damn the interfering fool!" interrupted Anisty.

"But what's this insanity, Anisty? What's this about a woman? What----"
The new-comer's tones ascended a high scale of fright and rage.

"Lower your voice, you ass!" the burglar responded sternly. "And----"

He took his own advice; and for a little time the conference was conducted
in guarded tones that did not penetrate the dividing wall save as a deep
rumbling alternating with an impassioned squeak.

But long ere this had come to pass the girl was risking all at the
telephone. Receiver to ear she was imploring Central to connect her with
Ninety-eighty-nine Madison. If only she might get Maitland, tell him where
the jewels were hidden, warn him to remove them--then she could escape
further suffering by open confession..

"What number?" came Central's languid query, after a space. "Did you say
Nine-ought-nine-eight?"

"No, no, Central. Nine-o-eight-nine Madison, please, and hurry------
hurry!"

"Ah, I'm ringin' 'em. They ain't answered yet. Gimme time.... There they
are. Go ahead."

"Hello, hello!"

"Pwhat is ut?"

Her heart sank: O'Hagan's voice meant that Maitland was out.

"O'Hagan--is that you?... Tell Mr. Maitland------"

"He's gawn out for the noight an'------"

"Tell him, please------"

"But he's out. Ring up in the marnin'."

"But can't you take this message for him? Please...."

The door was suddenly jerked open and Anisty leaped into the room, face
white with passion. Terrified, the girl sprang from the desk, carrying the
instrument with her, placing the revolving chair between her and her
enemy.

"The brass bowl, please,--tell him that," she cried clearly into the
receiver.

And Anisty was upon her, striking the telephone from her grasp with one
swift blow and seizing her savagely by the wrist. As the instrument
clattered and pounded on the floor she was sent reeling and staggering
half-way across the room.

As she brought up against the flat-topped desk, catching its edge and
saving herself a fall, the burglar caught up the telephone.

"Who is that?" he shouted imperatively into the transmitter.

Whatever the reply, it seemed to please him. His brows cleared, the wrath
that had made his face almost unrecognizable subsided; he even smiled. And
the girl trembled, knowing that he had solved her secret; for she had
hoped against hope that the only words he could have heard her speak would
have had too cryptic a significance for his comprehension.

As, slowly and composedly, he replaced the receiver on its hook and
returned the instrument to the desk, a short and rotund figure of a man,
in rumpled evening dress and wearing a wilted collar, hopped excitedly
into the room, cast at the girl one terrified glance out of eyes that
glittered with excitement like black diamonds, set in a face the hue of
yeast, and clutched the burglar's arm.

"Oh, Anisty, Anisty!" he cried piteously. "What is it? What is it? Tell
me!"

"It's all right," returned the burglar. "Don't you worry, little man. Pull
yourself together." And laughed.

"But what--what----" stammered the other.

"Only that she's given herself away," chuckled Anisty: "beautifully and
completely. 'The brass bowl,' says she,--thinking I never saw one on
Maitland's desk!--and 'O'Hagan, and who the divvle are you?' says the man
on the other end of the wire, when I ask who he is."

"And? And?" pleaded the little man, dancing with worry.

"And it means that my lady here returned the jewels to Maitland by hiding
them under a brass ash-receiver on his desk--ass that I was not to
know!... You are 'cute, my lady!" with an ironic salute to the girl, "but
you've met your match in Anisty."

"And," demanded the other as the burglar snatched up his hat and coat,
"what will you do, Anisty?"

"Do?"--contemptuously. "Why, what is there to do but go and get them?
We've risked too much and made New York too hot for the two of us, my dear
sir, to get out of the game without the profits."

"But I beg of you----"

"You needn't,"--grimly. "It won't bring you in any money."

"But Maitland--"

"Is out. O'Hagan answered the 'phone. Don't you understand?"

"But he may return!"

"That's his lookout. I'm sorry for him if he does." Anisty produced the
revolver from his pocket, and twirled the cylinder significantly. "I owe
Mr. Maitland something," he said, nodding to the white-faced girl by the
table, "and I shouldn't be sorry to----"

"And what," broke in the new-comer, "what am I going to do meanwhile?"

"Devil the bit _I_ care! Stay here and keep this impetuous female
from calling up Police Headquarters, for a good guess.... Speaking of
which, I think we had best settle this telephone business once and for
all."

The burglar turned again to the desk and began to work over the instrument
with a small screwdriver which he produced from his coat pocket, talking
the while.

"Our best plan, my dear Bannerman, is for you to come with me, at least as
far as the nearest corner. You can wait there, if you're too cowardly to
go the limit, like a man.... I'll get the loot and join you, and we can
make a swift hike for the first train that goes farthest out of town....
A pity, for we've done pretty well, you and I, old boy: you with your
social entree and bump of locality to locate the spoils, me with my
courage and skill to lift 'em, and an equitable division.... Oh, don't
worry about _her_, Bannerman! She's as deep in it as either of us,
only she happens to be sentimental, and an outsider on this deal. She
won't blab. Besides, you're ruined anyway, as far as New York's
concerned.... Come along. That's finished: she won't send any important
messages over that wire to-night, I guess."

"My dear young lady!" Rising and throwing the overcoat over his arm, he
waved his hat at her in sardonic courtesy. "I can't say it has been a
pleasure to know you but--you have made it interesting, I admit. And I bid
you a very good night. The charwoman will let you out when she comes to
clean up in the morning. Adieu, my dear!"

The little man bustled after him, bleating and fidgeting; and the lock
clicked.

She was alone ... utterly and forlornly alone ... and had lost ... lost
all, all that she had prized and hoped to win, even ... even him....

She raised fluttering, impotent white hands to her temples, trying to
collect herself. In the outer room a clock was ticking. Unconsciously she
moved to the doorway and stood looking for a time at the white,
expressionless dial. It was some time--a minute or two--before she
deciphered the hour.

Ten minutes past two!... Ah, the lifetime she had lived in the past
seventy minutes! And the futility of it all!

XV

THE PRICE

Slowly Maitland returned to the study and replaced the lamp upon his desk;
and stood briefly in silence, long fingers stroking his well-shaped chin,
his face a little thin and worn-looking, a gleam of pain in his eyes. He
sighed.

So she was gone!

He laughed a trace harshly. This surprise was nothing more than he might
have discounted, of course; he had been a fool to expect anything else of
her, he was enjoying only his just deserts both for having dared to
believe that the good in human nature (and particularly in woman's nature)
would respond to decent treatment, and for having acted on that asinine
theory.

So she was gone, without a word, without a sign!...

He sat down at the desk, sidewise, one arm extended along its edge,
fingers drumming out a dreary little tune on the hard polished wood; and
thought it all over from the beginning. Nor spared himself.

Why, after all, should it be otherwise? Why should she have stayed? Why
should he compliment himself by believing that there was aught about him
visible through the veneer acquired in a score and odd years of
purposeless existence, to attract a young and pretty woman's heart?

He enumerated his qualities specifically; and condemned them all.
Imprimis, he was a conceited ass. A fascinating young criminal had but to
toss her head at him to make him think that she was pleased with him, to
make him forget that she was what she was and believe that, because he was
willing to stoop, she was willing to climb. And he had betrayed himself so
mercilessly! How she must have laughed in her sleeve all the time, while
he pranced and bridled and preened himself under her eyes, blinded to his
own idiocy by the flame of a sudden infatuation--how she _must_ have
laughed!

Undoubtedly she had laughed; and, measuring his depth,--or his
shallowness,--had determined to use him to her ends. Why not? It had been
her business, her professional duty, to make use of him in order to
accomplish her plundering. And because she had not dared to ask him for
the jewels when he left her in the morning, she had naturally returned in
the evening to regain them, very confident, doubtless, that even if
surprised a second time, she would get off scot-free. Unfortunately for
her, this fellow Anisty had interfered. Maitland presumed cynically that
he ought to be grateful to Anisty.... The unaccountable scoundrel! Why had
_he_ returned?

How the girl had contrived to escape was, of course, more easy to
understand. Maitland recalled that sudden clatter of hoofs in the street,
and he had only to make a trip to the window to verify his suspicion that
the cab was gone. She had simply overheard his concluding remarks to the
cabby, and taken pardonable advantage of them. Maitland had footed the
bill.... She was welcome to that, however. He, Maitland, was well rid of
the whole damnable business.... Yes, jewels and all!

What were the jewels to him?... Beyond their sentimental associations, he
did not hold them greatly in prize. Of course, since they had been worn by
his mother, he would spare no expense or effort to trace and re-collect
them, for that dim sainted memory's sake. But in this case, at least, the
traditional usage of the Maitland's would never be carried out. It had
been faithfully observed when, after his mother's death, the stones had
been removed from their settings and stored away; but now they would never
be reset, even should he contrive to reassemble them, to adorn the bride
of the Maitland heir. For he would never marry. Of course not....

Maitland was young enough to believe, and to extract a melancholy
satisfaction from this.

Puzzled and saddened, his mind harked back for ever to that carking
question: Why had she returned? What had brought her back to the flat? If
she and Anisty were confederates, as one was inclined at times to
believe,--if such were the case, Anisty had the jewels, and there was
nothing else of any particular value so persistently to entice such expert
and accomplished burglars back to his flat. What else had they required of
him? His peace of mind was nothing that they could turn into cash; and
they seemed to have reaved him of nothing else.

But they had that; unquestionably they had taken that.

And still the riddle haunted him: Why had she come back that night? And,
whatever her reason, had she come in Anisty's company, or alone? One
minute it seemed patent beyond dispute that the girl and the great
plunderer were hand-in-glove; the next minute Maitland was positively
assured that their recent meeting had been altogether an accident. From
what he had heard over the telephone, he had believed them to be
quarreling, although at the time he had assigned to O'Hagan the masculine
side to the dispute. But certainly there must have arisen some difference
of opinion between Anisty and the girl, to have drawn from her that
frantic negative Maitland had heard, to have been responsible for the
overturning of the chair,--an accident that seemed to argue something in
the nature of a physical struggle; the chair itself still lay upon its
side, mute witness to a hasty and careless movement on somebody's part....

But it was all inexplicable. Eventually Maitland shook his head, to
signify that he gave it up. There was but one thing to do,--to put it out
of mind. He would read a bit, compose himself, go to bed.

Preliminary to doing so, he would take steps to insure the flat against
further burglarizing, for that night, at least. The draught moving through
the hall stirred the portiere and reminded him that the window in the
trunk-room was still open, an invitation to any enterprising sneak-thief
or second-story man. So Maitland went to close and make it fast.

As he shut down the window-sash and clamped the catch he trod on something
soft and yielding. Wondering, he stooped and picked it up, and carried it
back to the light. It proved to be the girl's hand-bag.

"Now," admitted Maitland in a tone of absolute candor, "I am damned. How
the dickens did this thing get there, anyway? What was she doing in my
trunk-closet?"

Was it possible that she had followed Anisty out of the flat by that
route? A very much mystified young man sat himself down again in front of
his desk, and turned the bag over and over in his hands, keenly
scrutinizing every inch of it, and whistling softly.

That year the fashion in purses was for capacious receptacles of grained
leather, nearly square in shape, and furnished with a chain handle. This
which Maitland held was conspicuously of the mode,--neither too large,
nor too small, constructed of fine soft leather of a gun-metal shade, with
a framework and chain of gun-metal itself. It was new and seemed
well-filled, weighing a trifle heavy in the hand. One face was adorned
with a monogram of cut gun-metal, the initials "S" and "G" and "L"
interlaced. But beyond this the bag was irritatingly non-committal.

Undoubtedly, if one were to go to the length of unsnapping the little,
frail clasp, one would acquire information; by such facile means would
much light be shed upon the darkness. But Maitland put a decided negative
to the suggestion.

No. He would give her the benefit of the doubt. He would wait, he would
school himself to patience. Perhaps she would come back for it,--and
explain. Perhaps he could find her by advertising it,--and get an
explanation. Pending which, he could wait a little while. It was not his
wish to pry into her secrets, even if--even if....

It was something to be smoked over.... Strange how it affected him to
have in his hands something that she had owned and touched!

Opening a drawer of the desk, Maitland produced an aged pipe. A brazen
jar, companion piece to the ash receiver, held his tobacco. He filled the
pipe from the jar, with thoughtful deliberation. And scraped a match
beneath his chair and ignited the tobacco and puffed in contemplative
contentment, deriving solace from each mouthful of grateful, evanescent
incense. Meanwhile he held the charred match between thumb and forefinger.

Becoming conscious of this fact, he smiled in deprecation of his
absent-minded mood, looked for the ash-receiver, discovered it in place,
inverted beneath the book; and frowned, remembering. Then, with an
impatient gesture,--impatient of his own infirmity of mind: for he simply
could not forget the girl,--he dropped the match, swept the book aside,
lifted the bowl....

After a moment of incredulous awe, the young man rose, with eyes a-light
and a jubilant song in the heart of him. Now he knew, now understood, now
believed, and now was justified of his faith!

After which depression came, with the consciousness that she was gone, for
ever removed beyond his reach and influence, and that by her own wilful
act. It was her intelligible wish that they should never meet again, for,
having accomplished her errand, she had flown from the possibility of his
thanks.

It was so clear, now! He perceived it all, plainly. Somehow (though it was
hard to surmise how) she had found out that Anisty had stolen the jewels;
somehow (and one wondered at what risk) she had contrived to take them
from him and bring them back to their owner. And Anisty had followed.

Poor little woman! What had she not suffered, what perils had she not
braved, to prove that there was honor even in thieves! It could have been
at no inconsiderable danger,--a danger not incommensurate with that of
robbing a tigress of her whelps,--that she had managed to filch his loot
from that pertinacious and vindictive soul, Anisty!

But she had accomplished it; and all for him!

If only he could find her, _now!_

There was a clue to his hand in that bag, of course, but by this act she
had for ever removed from him the right to investigate _that_.

If he could only find that cabby.

Perhaps if he tried at the Madison Square rank, immediately....

Besides, it was clearly his duty not to remain in the flat alone with the
jewels another night. There was but one attainable place of safety for
them; and that the safe of a reputable hotel. He would return to the
Bartholdi at once, merely pausing on his way to inquire of the cabmen if
they could send their brother-nighthawk to him.

Maitland shook himself into his topcoat, jammed hat upon head, dropped the
jewels into one pocket, the cigarette case into another, and--on
impulse--Anisty's revolver, with its two unexploded cartridges, into a
third; and pressed the call button for O'Hagan, not waiting, however, for
that worthy to climb the stairs, but meeting him in the entry hall.

"I'm going back to the Bartholdi, O'Hagan, for the night. You may bring me
my letters and any messages in the morning. I should like you to sleep in
the flat to-night and answer any telephone calls."

"Yiss, Misther Maitland, sor."

"Have the police gone, O'Hagan?"

"There's a whole bottle full yet, sor."

"You've not been drinking, I trust?"

The Irishman shuffled. "Shure, sor, an' wud that be hosphitible?"

Laughing, Maitland bade him good night and left the house, turning west to
gain Fifth Avenue, walking slowly because he was a little tired, and
enjoying the rather unusual experience of being abroad at that hour
without company. The sky seemed cleaner than ordinarily, the city quieter
than ever he had known it, and in the air was a sweet smell, reminiscent
of the country-side ... reminding one unhappily of the previous night when
one had gone whistling to one's destiny along a perfumed country road....

"Good 'eavings, Mister Maitland, sir! It carn't be you!"

Maitland looked up, bewildered for the instant. The voice that hailed him
out of the sky was not unfamiliar....

A cab that he had waited on the corner to let pass, was reined back
suddenly. The driver leaned down from the box and in a thunderstruck tone
advertised his stupefaction.

"It aren't in nature, sir--if yer'll pardon my mentionin' it. But 'ere I
leaves you not ten minutes ago at the St. Luke Building and finds yer
'ere, when you 'aven't 'ad time--"

Maitland woke up. "What's that?" he questioned sharply. "You left me where
ten minutes--?"

"St. Luke Buildin', corner Broadway an'--."

"I know it," excited, "but--"

"--'avin' took yer there with the young lady--"

"Young lady!"

"--that comes outer the 'ouse with yer, sir--"

"The devil!" Maitland hesitated no longer: his foot was on the step as he
spoke. "Drive me there at once, and drive for all you're worth!" he cried.
"If there's an ounce of speed in that plug of yours and you don't get it
out--"

"Never fear, sir! We'll make it in five minutes!"

"It'll be worth your while."

"Right-O!"

Maitland dropped into his seat, dumbfounded. "Good Lord!" he whispered;
and then savagely: "In the power of that infamous scoundrel------!" And
felt of the revolver in his pocket.

The cab had been headed north; the St. Luke rears its massive bulk south
of Twenty-third Street. The driver expertly swung his vehicle almost on
dead center. Simultaneously it careened with the impact of a heavy bulk
landing upon the step and falling in a heap on the deck.

"My worrd, what's that?" came from aloft. Maitland was altogether too
startled to speak.

The heap sat up, resolving itself into the semblance of a man; who spoke
in decisive tones:

"If yeh're goin' there, I'm goin' with yeh, 'r yeh don't go--see?"

"The sleuth!" gasped Maitland, astounded.

"Ah, cut that, can't yeh?" Hickey got on all fours, found his cigar, stuck
it in his mouth, and fell into place at Maitland's side.

"Hickey, I mean. But how--"

"If yeh're Maitland, 'nd Anisty's at the St. Luke Buildin', tell that fool
up there to drive!"

Maitland had no need to lift the trap; the cabby had already done that.

"All right," the young man called. "It's Detective Hickey. Drive on!"

The lash leaped out over the roof--_cr-rack!_--and the horse, presumably
convinced that no speed other than a dead-run would ever again be demanded
of it, tore frantically down the Avenue, the hansom rocking like a
topsail-schooner in a heavy gale.

Maitland and the detective were battered against the side and back of the
vehicle and slammed against one another with painful regularity. Under
such circumstances speech was difficult; yet they managed to exchange a
few sentences.

"Yeh gottuh gun?"

"Anisty's--two good cartridges."

"Jus' as well I'm along, I guess."

And again: "How'd yeh s'pose Anisty got this cab?"

"I don't know--must've been in the house--I told cabby to wait--Anisty
seems to have walked out right on your heels."

"Hell!" And a moment later: "What's this about a woman in the case?"

Maitland took swift thought on her behalf.

"Too long to go into now," he parried the query. "You help me catch this
scoundrel Anisty and I'll put in a good word for you with the deputy
commissioner."

"Ah, yeh help _me_ nab him," grunted the detective, "'nd I won't need
no good word with nobody."

The hansom swung into Broadway, going like a whirlwind; and picked up an
uniformed officer in front of the Flatiron Building, who, shouting and
using his locust stridently, sprinted after them. A block further down
another fell into line; and he it was who panted at the step an instant
after the cab had lurched to a stop before the entrance to the St. Luke
Building.

Hickey had rolled out before the policeman had a chance to bluster.

"'Lo, Bergen," he greeted the man. "Yeh know me--I'm Hickey, Central
Office. Yeh're jus' in time. Anisty's in this buildin'--'r was ten minutes
ago. We want all the help we c'n get."

By way of reply the officer stooped and drummed a loud alarm on the
sidewalk with his night-stick.

"Say," he panted, rising, "you're a wonder, Hickey--if you get him."

"Uh-huh," grunted the detective with a sidelong glance at Maitland. "C'm
'long."

The lobby of the building was quite deserted as they entered, the
night-watchman invisible, the night elevator on its way to the roof--as
was discovered by consultation of the indicator dial above the gate.
Hickey punched the night call bell savagely.

"Me 'nd him," he said, jerking the free thumb at Maitland, "'ll go up
and hunt him out. Begin at th' top floor an' work down. That's th' way,
huh? 'Nd," to the policeman, "yeh stay here an' hold up anybody 't tries
tuh leave th' buildin'. There ain't no other entrance, I s'pose, what?"

"Basement door an' ash lift's round th' corner," responded the officer.
"But that had ought tuh be locked, night."

"Well, 'f anybody else comes along yeh put him there, anyway, for luck....
What 'n hell's th' matter with this elevator?"

The detective settled a pudgy index-finger on the push button and elicited
a far, thin, shrill peal from the annunciator above. But the indicator
arrow remained as motionless as the car at the top of the shaft. Another
summons gained no response, in likewise, and a third was also disregarded.

Hickey stepped back, face black as a storm-cloud, summed up his opinion of
the management of the building in one soul-blistering phrase, produced his
bandana and used it vigorously, uttered a libel on the ancestry of the
night-watchman and the likes of him, and turned to give profane welcome to
the policeman who had noticed the cab at Twenty-third Street and who now
panted in, blown and perspiring.

Much to his disgust he found himself assigned to stand guard over the
basement exits, and waddled forth again into the street.

Meanwhile the first officer to arrive upon the scene was taking his turn
at agitating the button and shaking the gates; and with no more profit of
his undertaking than Hickey. After a minute or two of it he acknowledged
defeat with an oath, and turned away to browbeat the straggling vanguard
of belated wayfarers,--messenger-boys, slatternly drabs, hackmen, loafers,
and one or two plain citizens conspicuously out of their reputable
grooves,--who were drifting in at the entrance to line the lobby walls
with blank, curious faces. Forerunners of that mysterious rabble which is
apparently precipitated out of the very air by any extraordinary happening
in city streets, if allowed to remain they would in five minutes have
waxed in numbers to the proportions of an unmanageable mob; and the
policeman, knowing this, set about dispersing them with perhaps greater
discretion than consideration. They wavered and fell back, grumbling
discontentedly; and Maitland, his anxiety temporarily distracted by the
noise they made, looked round to find his erstwhile cabby at his elbow. Of
whom the sight was inspiration. Ever thoughtful, never unmindful of her
whose influence held him in this coil, he laid an arresting hand on the
man's sleeve.

"You've got your cab--?"

"Yessir, right houtside."

"Drive round the corner, away from the crowd, and wait for me. If she--the
young lady--comes without me, drive her anywhere she tells you and come to
my rooms to-morrow morning for your pay."

"Thankee, sir."

Maitland turned back, to find the situation round the elevator shaft _in
status quo_. Nothing had happened, save that Hickey's rage and vexation
had increased mightily.

"But why don't you go up after him?"

"How 'n blazes can I?" exploded the detective. "He's got th' night car. 'F
I takes the stairs, he comes down by th' shaft, 'nd how'm I tuh trust this
here mutt?" He indicated his associate but humbler custodian of the peace
with a disgusted gesture.

"Perhaps one of the other cars will run--" Maitland suggested.

"Ah, they're all dead ones," Hickey disagreed with disdain as the young
man moved down the row of gates, trying one after another. "Yeh're only
wastin'--"

He broke off with a snort as Maitland, somewhat to his own surprise
managing to move the gate of the third shaft from the night elevator,
stepped into the darkened car and groped for the controller. Presently his
fingers encountered it, and he moved it cautiously to one side. A vicious
blue spark leaped hissing from the controller-box and the cage bounded up
a dozen feet, and was only restrained from its ambition to soar skywards
by an instantaneous release of the lever.

By discreet manipulation Maitland worked the car down to the street floor
again, and Hickey with a grunt that might be interpreted as an apology for
his incredulity, jumped in.

"Let 'er rip!" he cried exultantly. "Fan them folks out intuh th' street,
Bergen, 'nd watch ow-ut!"

Maitland was pressing the lever slowly wide of its catch, and the lighted
lobby dropped out of sight while the detective was still shouting
admonitions to the police below. Gradually gaining in momentum the car
began to shoot smoothly up into the blackness, safety chains clanking
beneath the floor. Hickey fumbled for the electric light switch but,
finding it, immediately shut the glare off again and left the car in
darkness.

"Safer," he explained, sententious. "Anisty'll shoot, 'nd they says he
shoots straight."

Floor after floor in ghostly strata slipped silently down before their
eyes. Half-way to the top, approximately, Hickey's voice rang sharply in
the volunteer operator's ear.

"Stop 'er! Hold 'er steady. T'other's comin' down."

Maitland obeyed, managing the car with greater ease and less jerkily as he
began to understand the principle of the lever. The cage paused in the
black shaft, and he looked upward.

Down the third shaft over, the other cage was dropping like a plummet, a
block of golden light walled in by black filigree-work and bisected
vertically by the black line of the guide-rail.

"Stop that there car!"

Hickey's stentorian command had no effect; the block of light continued to
fall with unabated speed.

The detective wasted no more breath. As the other car swept past, Maitland
was shocked by a report and flash beside him. Hickey was using his
revolver.

The detonation was answered by a cry, a scream of pain, from the lighted
cage. It paused on the instant, like a bird stricken a-wing, some four
floors below, but at once resumed its downward swoop.

"Down, down! After 'em!" Hickey bellowed. "I dropped one, by God! T'other
can't--"

"How many in the car?" interrupted Maitland, opening the lever with a firm
and careful hand. "Only two, same's us, I hit th' feller what was runnin'
it--"

"Steady!" cautioned Maitland, decreasing the speed, as the car approached
the lower floor.

The other had beaten them down; but its arrival at the street level was
greeted by a short chorus of mad yells, a brief fusillade of shots--
perhaps five in all--and the clang of the gate. Then, like a ball
rebounding, the cage swung upwards again, hurtling at full speed.

Evidently Anisty had been received in force which he had not bargained
for.

Maitland instinctively reversed the lever and sent his own car upward
again, slowly, waiting for the other to overtake it. Peering down through
the iron lattice-work he could indistinctly observe the growing cube of
light, with a dark shape lying huddled in one corner of the floor. A
second figure, rapidly taking shape as Anisty's, stood by the controller,
braced against the side of the car, one hand on the lever, the other
poising a shining thing, the flesh-colored oval of his face turned upwards
in a supposititious attempt to discern the location of the dark car.

Hickey, by firing prematurely, lent him adventitious aid. The criminal
replied with spirit, aiming at the flash, his bullet spattering against
the back wall of the shaft. Hickey's next bullet rang with a bell-like
note against the metal-work, Anisty's presumably went wide--though
Maitland could have sworn he felt the cold kiss of its breath upon his
cheek. And the lighted cage rocketed past and up.

Maitland needed no admonition to pursue; his blood was up, his heart
singing with the lust of the man-hunt. Yet Anisty was rapidly leaving
them, his car soaring at an appalling pace. Towards the top he evidently
made some attempt to slow up, but either he was ignorant of the management
of the lever, or else the thing had got beyond control. The cage rammed
the buffers with a crash that echoed through the sounding halls like a
peal of thunder-claps; it was instantaneously plunged into darkness. There
followed a splintering and rending sound, and Maitland, heart in mouth,
could make out dimly a dark, falling shadow in the further shaft. Yet ere
it had descended a score of feet the safety-clutch acted and, with a third
tremendous jar, shaking the building, the car halted.

Hickey and Maitland were then some five floors below. "Stop 'er at
Nineteen," ordered the detective. There was a lilt of exultancy in his
voice. "We got him now, all right, all right. He'll try to get down by--
There!" Overhead the crash of a gate forced open was followed by a scurry
of footsteps over the tiling. "Stop 'er and we'll head him off. So now--
_eee_asy!"

Maitland shut off the power as the car reached the nineteenth floor.
Hickey opened the gate and jumped out. "Shut that," he commanded sharply
as Maitland followed him, "in case he gets past us."

He paused a moment in thought, heavy head on bull-neck drooping forward as
he stared toward the rear of the building. He was fearless and
resourceful, for all his many deficiencies. Maitland found time, quaintly
enough, to regard him with detached curiosity, a rare animal, illustrating
all that was best and worst in his order. Endowed with unexceptionable
courage, his address in emergencies seemed altogether admirable.

"Yeh guard them stairs," he decided suddenly. "I'll run through this hall,
'nd see what's doing. Don't hesitate to shoot if he tries to jump yeh."
And was gone, clumping briskly down the corridor to the rear.

Maitland, yielding the initiative to the other's superior generalship,
stood sentinel, revolver in hand, until the detective returned, overheated
and sweating, from his tour, to report "nothin' doin'," with
characteristic brevity. He had the same report to make on both the
twentieth and twenty-first floors, where the same procedure was observed;
but as the latter was reached unexpected and very welcome reinforcements
were gained by the arrival of a third car, containing three patrolmen and
one roundsman. Yet numbers created delay; Hickey was seized and compelled
to pant explanations, to his supreme disgust.

And, suddenly impatient beyond endurance, Maitland left them and alone
sprang up the stairs.

That this was simple foolhardiness may be granted without dispute. But it
must be borne in mind that he was very young and ardent, very greatly
perturbed on behalf of an actor in the tragedy in whom the police, to
their then knowledge, had no interest whatsoever. And if in the heat of
chase he had for an instant forgotten her, now he remembered; and at once
the capture of Anisty was relegated to the status of a matter of secondary
importance. The real matter at stake was the safety of the girl whom
Anisty, by exercise of an infernal ingenuity that passed Maitland's
comprehension, had managed to spirit into this place of death and darkness
and whispering halls. Where she might be, in what degree of suffering and
danger,--these were the considerations that sent him in search of her
without a thought of personal peril, but with a sick heart and overwhelmed
with a stifling sense of anxiety.

More active than the paunch-burdened detective, he had sprinted down and
back through the hallway of the twenty-second floor, without discovering
anything, ere the police contingent had reached an agreement and the
stairhead.

There remained two more floors, two final flights. A little hopelessly he
swung up the first. And as he did so the blackness above him was riven
by a tongue of fire, and a bullet, singing past his head, flattened itself
with a vicious spat against the marble dado of the walls. Instinctively he
pulled up, finger closing upon the trigger of his revolver; flash and
report followed the motion, and a panel of ribbed glass in a door overhead
was splintered and fell in clashing fragments, all but drowning the sound
of feet in flight upon the upper staircase.

A clamor of caution, warning, encouragement, and advice broke out from the
police below. But Maitland hardly heard. Already he was again in pursuit,
taking the steps two at a leap. With a hand upon the newel-post he swung
round on the twenty-third floor, and hurled himself toward the foot of the
last flight. A crash like a rifle-shot rang out above, and for a second he
fancied that Anisty had fired again and with a heavier weapon. But
immediately he realized that the noise had been only the slamming of the
door at the head of the stairs,--the door whose glazed panel loomed above
him, shedding a diffused light to guide his footsteps, its opalescent
surface lettered with the name of

HENRY M. BANNERMAN
_Attorney & Counselor-at-Law_

the door of the office whose threshold he had so often crossed to meet a
friend and adviser. It was with a shock that he comprehended this, a
thrill of wonder. He had all but forgotten that Bannerman owned an office
in the building, in the rush, the urge of this wild adventure. Strange
that Anisty should have chosen it for the scene of his last stand,--
strange, and strangely fatal for the criminal! For Maitland knew that from
this eyrie there was no means of escape, other than by the stairs.

Well and good! Then they had the man, and--

The thought was flashing in his mind, illumining the darkness of his
despair with the hope that he would be able to force a word as to the
girl's whereabouts from the burglar ere the police arrived; Maitland's
foot was on the upper step, when a scream of mortal terror--_her_
voice!--broke from within. Half maddened, he threw himself bodily against
the door, twisting the knob with frantic fingers that slipped upon its
immovable polished surface.

The bolt had been shot, he was barred out, and, with only the width of a
man's hand between them, the girl was in deathly peril and terror.

A sob that was at the same time an oath rose to his lips. Baffled,
helpless, he fell back, tears of rage starting to his eyes, her accents
ringing in his ears as terribly pitiful as the cry of a lost and wandering
soul.

"God!" he mumbled incoherently, and in desperation sent the pistol-butt
crashing against the glass. It was tough, stout, stubborn; the first blow
scarcely flawed it. As he redoubled his efforts to shatter it, Hickey's
hand shot over his shoulder to aid him.... And with startling abruptness
the barrier seemed to dissolve before their eyes, the glass falling inward
with a shrill clatter.

Quaintly, with the effect of a picture cast by a cinematograph in a
darkened auditorium, there leaped upon Maitland's field of vision the
picture of Anisty standing at bay, face drawn and tense, lips curled back,
eyes lurid with defiance and despair. He stood, poised upon the balls of
his feet, like a cat ready to spring, in the doorway between the inner and
outer offices. He raised his hand with an indescribably swift and vicious
gesture, and a flame seemed to blaze out from his finger-tips.

At the same instant Hickey's weapon spat by Maitland's cheek; the young
man felt the hot furnace breath of it.

The burglar reeled as though from a tremendous blow. His inflamed features
were suddenly whitened, and his right arm dropped limply from the
shoulder, revolver falling from fingers involuntarily relaxing.

Hickey covered him. "Surrender!" he roared. And fired again. For Anisty
had gone to his knees, reaching for the revolver with his uninjured arm.

The detective's second bullet winged through the doorway, over Anisty's
head, and bit through the outer window. As Anisty, with a tremendous
strain upon his failing powers, struggled to his feet, Maitland, catching
the murderous gleam in the man's eye, pulled trigger. The burglar's
answering shot expended itself as harmlessly as Maitland's. Both went wide
of their marks.

And of a sudden Hickey had drawn the bolt, and the body of police behind
forced Maitland pell-mell into the room. As he recovered he saw Hickey
hurling himself at the criminal's throat--one second too late. True to his
pledge never to be taken alive, Anisty had sent his last bullet crashing
through his own skull.

A cry of horror and consternation forced itself from Maitland's throat.
The police halted, each where he stood, transfixed. Anisty drew himself
up, with a trace of pride in his pose; smiled horribly; put a hand
mechanically to his lips....

And died.

Hickey caught him as he fell, but Maitland, unheeding, leaped over the
body that had in life resembled him so fatally, and entered Bannerman's
private office.

The grey girl lay at length in a corner of the room, shielded from
observation by one of the desks. Her eyes were closed, her cheeks wore the
hue of death; the fair young head was pillowed on one white and rounded
forearm, in an attitude of natural rest, and the burnished hair, its heavy
coils slipping from their fastenings, tumbled over her head and shoulders
in shimmering glory, like a splash of living flame.

With a low and bitter cry the young man dropped to his knees by her side.
In the outer office the police were assembled in excited conclave, blind
to all save the momentous fact of Anisty's last, supremely consistent act.
For the time Maitland was utterly alone with his great and aching
loneliness.

After a little while timidly he touched her hand. It lay upturned, white
slender fingers like exotic petals curling in upon the rosy hollow of her
palm. And it was soft and warm.

He lifted it tenderly in both his own, and so held it for a space,
brooding, marveling at its perfection. And inevitably he bent and touched
it with his lips, as if their ardent contact would warm it to
sentience....

The fingers tightened upon his own, slowly, surely; and in the blinding
joy of that moment he was made conscious of the ineffable sweetness of
opening, wondering eyes.

XVI

RECESSIONAL

"_Hm, hrumm!_" Thus Hickey, the inopportunely ubiquitous, lumbering
hastily in from the other office and checking, in an extreme of
embarrassment, in the middle of the floor.

Maitland glanced over his shoulder, and, subduing a desire to flay the man
alive, released the girl's hand.

"I say, Hickey," he observed, carefully suppressing every vestige of
emotion, "will you lend me a hand here? Bring a chair, please, and a glass
of water."

The detective stumbled over his feet and brought the chair at the risk of
his neck. Then he went away and returned with the water. In the meantime
the girl, silently enough for all that her eyes were speaking, with
Maitland's assistance arose and seated herself.

"You will have to stay here a few minutes," he told her, "until--er--"

"I understand," she told him in a choking tone.

Hickey awkwardly handed her the glass. She sipped mechanically.

"I have a cab below," continued Maitland. "And I'll try to arrange it so
that we can get out of the building without having to force a way through
the crowd."

She thanked him with a glance.

"There's th' freight elevator," suggested Hickey helpfully.

"Thank you.... Is there anything I can do for you, anything you wish?"
continued Maitland to the girl, standing between her and the detective.

She lifted her face to his and shook her head, very gently. "No," she
breathed through trembling lips.

"You--you've been--" But there was a sob in her throat, and she hung her
head again.

"Not a word," ordered Maitland. "Sit here for a few minutes, if you can,
drink the water and--ah--fix up your hat, you know," (damn Hickey! Why the
devil did the fellow insist on hanging round so!) "and I will go and make
arrangements."

"Th-thank you," whispered the small voice shakily.

Maitland hesitated a moment, then turned upon Hickey in sudden
exasperation. His manner was enough; even the obtuse detective could not
ignore it. Maitland had no need to speak.

"I'm sorry, sir," he said, standing his ground manfully but with a trace
more of respect in his manner than had theretofore characterized it, "but
there's uh gentleman--uh--your fren' Bannerman's outside 'nd wants tuh
speak tuh yeh."

"Tell him to--"

"Excuse _me_. He says he's gottuh see yeh. If yeh don't come out,
he'll come after yeh. I thought yeh'd ruther--"

"That's kindly thought of," Maitland relented. "I'll be there in a
minute," he added meaningly.

Hickey took an impassive face to the doorway, where, whether or not with
design, he stood precisely upon the threshold, filling it with his burly
shoulders. Maitland bent again over the girl, and took her hand.

"Dearest," he said gently, "please don't run away from me again."

Her eyes were brimming, and he read his answer in them. Quickly--it was no
time to harry her emotions further; but so much he had felt he must say--.
he brushed her hand with his lips and joined Hickey. Thrusting the
detective gently into the outer room, with a not unfriendly hand upon his
shoulder, Maitland closed the door.

"Now, see here," he said quietly and firmly, "you must help me arrange to
get this lady away without her becoming identified with the case, Hickey.
I'm in a position to say a good word for you in the right place; she had
positively nothing to do with Anisty," (this, so far as he could tell, was
as black a lie as he had ever manufactured under the lash of necessity),
"and--there's a wad in it for the boys who help me out."

"Well...." The detective shifted from one foot to the other, eying him
intently. "I guess we can fix it,--freight elevator 'nd side entrance. Yeh
have the cab waitin', 'nd--"

"I'll go with the lady, you understand, and assume all responsibility. You
can come round at your convenience and arrange the details with me, at my
rooms, since you will be so kind."

"I dunno." Hickey licked his lips, watching with a somber eye the
preparations being made for the removal of Anisty's body. "I'd 've give a
farm if I could've caught that son of a gun alive!" he added at apparent
random, and vindictively. "All right. Yeh be responsible for th' lady, if
she's wanted, will yeh?"

"Positively."

"I gottuh have her name 'nd add-ress."

"Is that essential?"

"Sure. Gottuh protect myself 'n case anythin' turns up. Yeh oughttuh know
that."

"I--don't want it to come out," Maitland hesitated, trying to invent a
plausible lie.

"Well, any one can see how you feel about it."

Maitland drew a long breath and anticipated rashly. "It's Mrs. Maitland,"
he told the man with a tremor.

Hickey nodded, unimpressed. "Uh-huh. I knowed that all along," he replied.
"But seein' as yeh didn't want it talked about...." And, apparently
heedless of Maitland's startled and suspicious stare: "If yeh're goin' to
see yer fren', yeh better get a wiggle on. He won't last long."

"Who? Bannerman? What the deuce do you mean?"

"He's the feller I plugged in the elevator, that's all. Put a hole through
his lungs. They took him into an office on the twenty-first floor, right
opp'site the shaft."

"But what in Heaven's name has he to do with this ghastly mess?"

Hickey turned a shrewd eye upon Maitland. "I guess he can tell yeh
better'n me."

With a smothered exclamation, Maitland hurried away, still incredulous and
impressed with a belief, firmer with every minute, that the wounded man
had been wrongly identified.

He found him as Hickey had said he would, sobbing out his life, supine
upon the couch of an office which the janitor had opened to afford him a
place to die in. Maitland had to force a way through a crowded doorway,
where the night-watchman was holding forth in aggrieved incoherence on the
cruel treatment he had suffered at the hands of the lawbreakers. A phrase
came to Maitland's ears as he shouldered through the group.

"....grabbed me an' trun me outer the cage, inter the hall, an' then
the shootin' begins, an' I jumps down-stairs t' the sixteent' floor...."

Bannerman opened dull eyes as Maitland entered, and smiled faintly.

"Ah-h, Maitland," he gasped; "thought you'd ... come."

Racked with sorrow, nothing guessing of the career that had brought the
lawyer to this pass, Maitland slipped into a chair by the head of the
couch and closed his hand over Bannerman's chubby, icy fingers.

"Poor, poor old chap!" he said brokenly. "How in Heaven--"

But at Bannerman's look the words died on his lips. The lawyer moved
restlessly. "Don't pity me," he said in a low tone. "This is what I might
have ... expected, I suppose ... man of Anisty's stamp ... desperate
character ... it's all right, Dan, my just due...."

"I don't understand, of course," faltered Maitland.

Bannerman lay still a moment, then continued: "I know you don't. That's
why I sent for you.... 'Member that night at the Primordial? When the
deuce was it? I ... can't think straight long at a time.... That night I
dined with you and touched you up about the jewels? We had a bully salad,
you know, and I spoke about the Graeme affair...."

"Yes, yes."

"Well ... I've been up to that game for years. I'd find out where the
plunder was, and ... Anisty always divided square.... I used to advise
him.... Of course you won't understand,--you've never wanted for a dollar
in your life...."

Maitland said nothing. But his hand remained upon the dying man's.

"This would never have happened if ... Anisty hadn't been impatient. He was
hard to handle, sometimes. I wasn't sure, you know, about the jewels; I
only said I thought they were at Greenfields. Then I undertook to find out
from you, but he was restive, and without saying anything to me went down
to Greenfields on his own hook--just to have a look around, he said. And
so ... so the fat was in the fire."

"Don't talk any more, Bannerman," Maitland tried to soothe him. "You'll
pull through this all right, and--You need never have gone to such
lengths. If you'd come to me--"'

The ghost of a sardonic smile flitted, incongruously, across the dying
man's waxen, cherubic features.

"Oh, hell," he said; "you wouldn't understand. Perhaps you weren't born
with the right crook in your nature,--or the wrong one. Perhaps it's
because you can't see the fun in playing the game. It's that that counts."

He compressed his lips, and after a moment spoke again. "You never did
have the true sportsman's love of the game for its own sake. You're like
most of the rest of the crowd--content with mighty cheap virtue, Dan.... I
don't know that I'd choose just this kind of a wind-up, but it's been fun
while it lasted. Good-by, old man."

He did not speak again, but lay with closed eyes.

Five minutes later Maitland rose and unclasped the cold fingers from about
his own. With a heavy sigh he turned away.

At the door Hickey was awaiting him. "Yer lady," he said, as soon as they
had drawn apart from the crowd, "is waitin' for yeh in the cab
down-stairs. She was gettin' a bit highsteerical 'nd I thought I'd better
get her away.... Oh, she's waitin' all right!" he added, alarmed by
Maitland's expression.

But Maitland had left him abruptly; and now, as he ran down flight after
echoing flight of marble stairs, there rested cold fear in his heart. In
the room he had just quitted, a man whom he had called friend and looked
upon with affectionate regard, had died a self-confessed and unrepentant
liar and thief.

If now he were to find the girl another time vanished,--if this had been
but a ruse of hers finally to elude him,--if all men were without honor,
all women faithless,--if he had indeed placed the love of his life, the
only love that he had ever known, unworthily,--if she cared so little who
had seemed to care much....

XVII

CONFESSIONAL

I

But the cab was there; and within it the girl was waiting for him.

The driver, after taking up his fare, had at her direction drawn over to
the further curb, out of the fringe of the rabble which besieged the St.
Luke Building in constantly growing numbers, and through which Maitland,
too impatient to think of leaving by the basement exit, had elbowed and
fought his way in an agony of apprehension that brooked no hindrance,
heeded no difficulty.

He dashed round the corner, stopped short with a sinking heart, then as
the cabby's signaling whip across the street caught his eye, fairly hurled
himself to the other curb, pausing at the wheel, breathless, lifted out of
himself with joy to find her faithful in this ultimate instance.

She was recovering, whose high spirit and recuperative powers were to him
then and always remained a marvelous thing; and she was bending forth from
the body of the hansom to welcome him with a smile that in a twinkling
made radiant the world to him who stood in a gloomy side street of New
York at three o'clock of a summer's morning,--a good hour and a half
before the dawn. For up there in the tower of the sky-scraper he had as
much as told her of his love; and she had waited; and now--and now he had
been blind indeed had he failed to read the promise in her eyes. Weary she
was and spent and overwrought; but there is no tonic in all the world like
the consciousness that where one has placed one's love, there love has
burgeoned in response. And despite all that she had suffered and endured,
the happiness that ran like soft fire in her Veins, wrapping her being
with its beneficent rapture, had deepened the color in her cheeks and
heightened the glamour in her eyes.

And he stood and stared, knowing that in all time to no man had ever woman
seemed more lovely than this girl to him: a knowledge that robbed his mind
of all other thought and his tongue of words, so that to her fell the task
of rousing him.

"Please," she said gently--"please tell the cabby to take me home, Mr.
Maitland."

He came to and in confusion stammered: Yes, he would. And he climbed up on
the step with no other thought than to seat himself at her side and drive
away for ever. But this time the cabby brought him to his senses, forcing
him to remember that some measure of coherence was demanded even of a man
in love.

"Where to, sir?"

"Eh, what? Oh!" And bending to the girl: "Home, you said--?"

She told him the address,--a number on Park Avenue, above Thirty-fourth
Street, below Forty-second. He repeated it mechanically, unaware that it
would remain stamped for ever on his memory, indelibly,--the first
personal detail that she had granted him: the first barrier down.

He sat down. The cab began to move, and halted again. A face appeared at
the apron,--Hickey's, red and moon-like and not lacking in complacency:
for the man counted of profiting variously by this night's work.

"Excuse me, Mr. Maitland, 'nd"--touching the rim of his derby--"yeh, too,
ma'am, f'r buttin' in--"

"Hickey!" demanded Maitland suddenly, in a tone of smoldering wrath, "what
the--what do you want?"

"Yeh told me tuh call round to-morrow, yeh know. When'll yeh be in?"

"I'll leave a note for you with O'Hagan. Is that all?"

"Yep--that is, there's somethin' else...."

"Well?"

"Excuse me for mentionin' it, but I didn't know--it ain't generally known,
yeh know, 'nd one uh th' boys might've heard me speak tuh yer lady by name
'nd might pass it on to a reporter. What I mean's this," hastily, as the
Maitland temper showed dangerous indications of going into active
eruption: "I s'pose yeh don't want me tuh mention't yeh're married, jes'
yet? Mrs. Maitland here," with a nod to her, "didn't seem tuh take kindly
tuh the notion of it's bein' known--"

"Hickey!"

"Ah, excuse _me!_"

"Drive on, cabby--instantly! Do you hear?"

Hickey backed suddenly away and the cab sprang into motion; while Maitland
with a face of fire sat back and raged and wondered.

Across Broadway toward Fourth Avenue dashed the hansom; and from the
curb-line Hickey watched it with a humorous light in his dull eyes.
Indeed, the detective seemed in extraordinary conceit with himself. He
chewed with unaccustomed emotion upon his cold cigar, scratched his cheek,
and chuckled; and, chuckling, pulled his hat well down over his brows,
thrust both hands into his trousers pockets, and shambled back to the St.
Luke Building--his heavy body vibrating amazingly with his secret mirth.

And so, shuffling sluggishly, he merges into the shadows, into the mob
that surges about the building, and passes from these pages.

II

In the clattering hansom, steadying herself with a hand against the
window-frame, to keep from being thrown against the speechless man beside
her, the girl waited. And since Maitland in confusion at the moment found
no words, from this eloquent silence she drew an inference unjustified,
such as lovers are prone to draw, the world over, and one that lent a
pathetic color to her thoughts, and chilled a little her mood. She had
been too sure....

But better to have it over with at once, rather than permit it to remain
for ever a wall of constraint between them. He must not be permitted to
think that she would dream of taking him upon his generous word.

"It was very kind of you," she said in a steady, small voice, "to pretend
that we--what you did pretend, in order to save me from being held as a
witness. At least, I presume that is why you did it? "--with a note of
uncertainty.

"It is unnecessary that you should be drawn into the affair," he replied,
with some resumption of his self-possession. "It isn't as if you were--"

"A thief?" she supplied as he hesitated.

"A thief," he assented gravely.

"But I--I am," with a break in her voice.

"But you are not," he asserted almost fiercely. And, "Dear," he said
boldly, "don't you suppose I _know?_"

"I ... what do you know?"

"That you brought back the jewels, for one minor thing. I found them
almost as soon as you had left. And then I knew ... knew that you cared
enough to get them from this fellow Anisty and bring them back to me, knew
that I cared enough to search the world from end to end until I found you,
that you might wear them--if you would."

But she had drawn away, had averted her face; and he might not see it; and
she shivered slightly, staring out of the window at the passing lights. He
saw, and perforce paused.

"You--you don't understand," she told him in a rush. "You give me credit
beyond my due. I didn't break into your flat again, to-night, in order to
return the jewels--at least, not for that alone."

"But you did bring back the jewels?"

She nodded.

"Then doesn't that prove what I claim, prove that you've cleared
yourself--?"

"No," she told him firmly, with the firmness of despair; "it does not.
Because I did not come for that only. I came with another purpose,--to
steal, as well as to make restitution. And I ... I stole."

There was a moment's silence, on his part incredulous. "I don't know what
you mean. What did you steal? Where is it?"

"I have lost it--"

"Was it in your hand-bag?"

"You found that?"

"You dropped it in the trunk-closet. I found it there. There is something
of mine in it?"

Dumb with misery, she nodded; and after a little, "You didn't look, of
course."

"I had no right," he said shortly.

"Other men wo-would have thought they had the right. I th-think you had,
the circumstances considered. At all events," steadying her voice, "I say
you have, now. I give you that right. Please go and investigate that
hand-bag, Mr. Maitland. I wish you to."

He turned and stared at her curiously. "I don't know what to think," he
said. "I can not believe--"

"You mu-must believe. I have no right to profit by your disbelief.... Dear
Mr. Maitland, you have been kind to me, very kind to me; do me this last
kindness, if you will."

The young face turned to him was gravely and perilously sweet; very nearly
he forgot all else. But that she would not have.

"Do this for me.... What you will find will explain everything. You will
understand. Perhaps"--timidly--"perhaps you may even find it in your heart
to forgive, when you understand.... If you should, my card-case is in the
bag, and ...." She faltered, biting her lip cruelly to steady a voice
quivering with restrained sobs. "Please, please go at once, and--and see
for yourself!" she implored him passionately.

Of a sudden he found himself resolved. Indeed, he fancied that it were
dangerous to oppose her; she was overwrought, on the verge of losing her
command of self. She wished this thing, and though with all his soul he
hated it, he would do as she desired.

"Very well," he assented quietly. "Shall I stop the cab now?"

"Please."

He tapped on the roof of the hansom and told the cabby to draw in at the
next corner. Thus he was put down not far from his home,--below the
Thirty-third Street grade.

Neither spoke as he alighted, and she believed that he was leaving her in
displeasure and abhorrence; but he had only stepped behind the cab for a
moment to speak to the driver. In a moment he was back, standing by the
step with one hand on the apron and staring in very earnestly and soberly
at the shadowed sweetness of her pallid face, that gleamed in the gloom
there like some pale, shy, sad flower.

Could there be evil combined with such sheer loveliness, with features
that in every line bodied forth the purity of the spirit that abode
within? In the soul of him he could not believe that a thief's nature fed
canker-like at the heart of a woman so divinely, naively dear and
desirable. And ... he would not.

"Won't you let me go?"

"Just a minute. I ... I should like to.... If I find that you have done
nothing so very dreadful." he laughed uneasily, "do you wish to know?"

"You know I do." She could not help saying that, letting him see that far
into her heart. "You spoke of my calling, I believe. That means to-morrow
afternoon, at the earliest. May I not call you up on the telephone?"

"The number is in the book," she said in a tremulous voice.

"And your name in the card-case?"

"Yes."

"And if I should call in half an hour--?"

"O, I shall not sleep until I know!... Good night!"

"Good night!... Drive on, cabby."

He stood, smiling queerly, until the hansom, climbing the Park Avenue
hill, vanished over its shoulder. Then swung about and with an eager step
retraced his way to his rooms, very confident that God was in His Heaven
and all well with the world.

III

The cab stopped. The girl rose and descended to the walk. The driver
touched his hat and reined the horse away. "Goodnight, ma'am," he bade her
cheerfully. And she told him "Good night" in her turn.

For a moment she seemed a bit hesitant and fearful, left thus alone. The
house in front of which she stood, like its neighbors, reared a high
facade to the tender, star-lit sky, its windows, with drawn shades and no
lights, wearing a singular look of blind patience. It had a high stoop and
a sunken area. There was a dull glow in one of the basement windows.

It was very late,--or extremely early. The moon was down, though its place
was in some way filled by the golden disk of the clock in the Grand
Central Station's tower. The air was impregnated with the sweet and
fragrant breath of the new-born day. In the tunnel beneath the street a
trolley-car rumbled and whined and clanked lonesomely. A stray cat
wandered out of a cross-street with the air of a seasoned debauchee;
stopped, scratched itself with inimitable abandon, and suddenly,
mysteriously alarmed at nothing, turned itself into a streak of shadow
that fled across the street and vanished. And, as if affected by its
terror, the grey girl slipped silently into the area and tapped at the
lighted window.

Almost immediately the gate was cautiously opened. A woman's head looked
out, with suspicion. "Oh, thank Heavens!" it said with abrupt fervor. "I
was afraid it mightn't be you, Miss Sylvia. I'm so glad you're back. There
ain't--hasn't been a minute these past two nights that I haven't been in a
fidget."

The girl laughed quietly and passed through the gateway (which was closed
behind her) into the basement hall, where she lingered a brief moment.

"My father, Annie?" she inquired.

"He ain't--hasn't stirred since you went out, Miss Sylvia. He's sleepin'
peaceful as a lamb."

"Everything is all right, then?"

"Now that you're home, it is, praises be!" The servant secured the inner
door and turned up the gas. "Not if I was to be given notice to-morrow
mornin'," she announced firmly, "will I ever consent to be a party to such
goin's-on another night."

"There will be no occasion, Annie," said the girl. "Thank you, and--good
night."

A resigned sigh,--"Good night, Miss Sylvia,"--followed her up the stairs.

She went very cautiously, careful to brush against no article of movable
furniture in the halls, at pains to make no noise on the stairs. At the
door of her father's room on the second floor she stopped and listened for
a full moment; but he was sleeping as quietly, as soundly, as the servant
had declared. Then on, more hurriedly, up another flight, to her own room,
where she turned on the electric bulb in panic haste. For it had just
occurred to her that the telephone bell might ring before she could change
her clothing and get down-stairs and shut herself into the library, whose
closed door would prevent the bell from being audible through the house.

In less than ten minutes she was stealing silently down to the
drawing-room floor again, quiet as a spirit of the night. The library door
shut without a sound: for the first time she breathed freely. Then,
pressing the button on the wall, she switched on the light in the
drop-lamp on the center-table. The telephone stood beside it.

She drew up a chair and sat down near the instrument, ready to lift the
receiver off its hook the instant the bell began to sound; and waited, the
soft light burning in the loosened tresses of her hair, enhancing the soft
color that pulsed in her cheeks, fading before the joy that lived in her
eyes when she hoped....

For she dared hope--at times; and at times could not but fear. So greatly
had she dared, who greatly loved, so heavy upon her untarnished heart was
the burden of the sin that she had put upon it, because she loved....
Perhaps he would not call; perhaps the world was to turn cold and be for
ever grey to her eyes. He was even then deciding; at that very moment her
happiness hung in the scales of his mercy. If he could forgive....

There was a click. And her face flamed scarlet, as hastily she lifted the
receiver to her ear. The armature buzzed sharply. Then Central's voice cut
the stillness.

"Hello! Nine-o-five-one?"

"Yes...."

"Wait a minute."

She waited, breathless, in a quiver. The silence sang upon the wire, the
silence of the night through which he was groping toward her....

"Hello! Is this Nine-o--"

"Yes, yes!"

"Is this the residence of Alexander C. Graeme?"

"Yes." The syllable almost choked her.

"Is this Miss Graeme at the 'phone?"

"It is."

"Miss Sylvia Graeme?"

"Yes."

"This is Daniel Maitland ... Sylvia!"

"As if I did not know your voice!" she cried involuntarily.

There followed a little pause; and in her throat the pulses tightened and
drummed.

"I have opened the bag, Sylvia...."

"Please go on."

"And I've sounded the depths of your hideous infamy!"

"Oh!" He was laughing.

"I've done more. I've made a burnt offering, within the last five minutes.
Can you guess what it is?"

"I--I--don't want to guess! I want to be told."

"A burnt offering on the altar of your happiness, dear. The papers in the
case of the Dougherty Investment Company no longer exist."

"Dan!"

"Sylvia.... Does it please you?"

"Don't you _know_?... How can it do anything but please me? If you
knew how I have suffered because my father suffered, fearing the.... No,
but you must listen! Dan, it was wearing him down to his grave, and I
thought--"

"You thought that if you could get the papers and give them to him--"

"Yes. I could see no harm, because he was as innocent as you--"

"Of course. But why didn't you ask me?"

"_He_ did, and you refused."

"But how could I tell, Sylvia, that you were his daughter, and that I
should--"

"Hush! Central will hear!"

"Central's got other things to do, besides listening to early morning
confabulations. I love you."

"Dan...."

"Yes?"

"I love--to hear you say so, dear."

"Please say that last word over again. I didn't get it."

"Dear...."

"And that means that you'll marry me?"

A pause.

"I say, that means--"

"I heard you, Dan."
"But it does, doesn't it?"

"Yes."

"When?"

"Whenever you please."

"I'll come up now."

"Don't be a silly."

"Well, when then? To-day?"

"Yes--_no_!"

"But when?"

"To-morrow--I mean next week--I mean next month."

"No; to-day at four. I'll call for you."

"But, Dan...."

"Sweetheart!"

"But you mustn't!... How can I--"

"Easily enough. There's the Little-Church-Around-the-Corner--"

"But I've nothing to wear!"

"Oh!"

Another pause.

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