Part 6 out of 6
There was a surging mob around them now, pushing, fighting madly to
reach the door; and, as Klanner regained his feet, they were both swept
forward, and, lunging through the door, were precipitated out into the
lane. And here, wary of a riot call that had probably already been rung
in by the patrolman on the beat, the crowd was taking to its heels and
dispersing in both directions along the lane.
"Quick!" said Jimmie Dale again--and, with his hand on Klanner's arm,
broke into a run.
Those running in the same direction turned off from the lane at the
first cross street; but Jimmie Dale held to the lane, and it was three
blocks away from Baldy Jack's before he stopped.
Klanner was panting from his exertions.
"My God--what's it mean!" he gasped. "I--I thought I saw a revolver in
that man's hand, the fellow next to me, just as the lights went out."
"You probably did," said Jimmie Dale grimly.
"Well----what's it mean?" repeated Klanner heavily.
It was a moment before Jimmie Dale answered. For the man's own sake, the
less that Klanner knew the better, probably--and yet the man must be
kept out of harm's way for the rest of the night. Having failed at Baldy
Jack's, it was certain, since Clarke's whole plan hinged on Klanner's
death, that they would try again. After to-night--if all went well--it
did not matter, for Klanner then would be no longer a factor to Clarke
or Hunchback Joe!
"It means," said Jimmie Dale gravely, "that there's been some sort of a
gangster's fight pulled off, and that probably there's been dirty
work--murder--in there. The police will go the limit to round up
everybody they can find who was in Baldy Jack's. There's only one thing
to do--keep your mouth shut and lie low to-night. You can't take any
chances of getting into this--you look like a man who's got a decent
job he doesn't want to lose, and you don't look like a man who is
entitled to be saddled with a reputation for hanging around that sort of
place. Do you live near here?"
"Yes," said Klanner, a little dully.
"Well then," said Jimmie Dale quietly, "get out of this neighbourhood
for the night. Don't risk recognition while the chase is hot. Go uptown
somewhere to any hotel you like, and _stay_ there in your room. You can
go to work just as well from there in the morning. Got any money?"
"Yes," said Klanner slowly. "Yes, I got some money--and I guess you're
right. Say, who are you anyway? You seem to have a line on this sort of
thing, and I guess I owe you a whole skin. If you hadn't--"
"I'm a man in a hurry," said Jimmie Dale whimsically--and then the
grim note crept back into his voice. "I am giving you a straight tip.
Take it--and take that street car that's coming along there." He held
out his hand.
"Sure!" said Klanner. "And I--"
"Good-night," said Jimmie Dale, and started abruptly across the street,
entering the lane on the other side again--but here, in the shadows, he
paused for a moment, watching until Klanner boarded the uptown car.
AT FIVE MINUTES OF TWELVE
Twenty minutes later, well along the East River front, in an unsavoury
and deserted neighbourhood, Jimmie Dale was crouched before the door of
a small building that seemed built half on the shore edge, and half on
an old and run-down pier that extended out into the water. The building
itself was little more than a storage shed, and originally had probably
laid claims to nothing more pretentious--to-day it served as warehouse
and office for Hunchback Joe's "business," and, above, for Hunchback
Joe's living quarters. Jimmie Dale glanced around him sharply--not for
the first time. There were no other buildings in his immediate vicinity,
and such as could be seen loomed up only as black, shadowy, distant
shapes--warehouses and small factories, for the most part, and empty and
deserted now at night. It was intensely black--only a twinkling light
here and there from a passing craft on the river, and the glow from
thousands of street lamps that, like some strange aerial illumination,
hovered over the opposite shore. The shed itself, windowless at least in
front, was as silent, as deserted, and as black as all around it.
Jimmie Dale's hand stole into his pocket, produced a black silk mask,
adjusted the mask over his face--and then the deft, slim fingers were at
work with a little steel instrument on the door lock. A moment more, and
the door swung silently inward, slowly, inch by inch. He listened
intently. There was no sound. He stepped inside, and silently closed
and locked the door behind If Hunchback Joe had not returned yet, it was
necessary that Hunchback Joe should find the door as he had left
it--locked! Again Jimmie Dale listened--and then the ray of his
flashlight circled the place. A miscellany of ship's junk was piled
without any attempt at order all over the place; a board partition with
two small windows, one on each side of the door, ran from side to side
of the shed about a third of the way up its length; and in the sides of
the shed itself were also two small, narrow windows--too small and too
narrow, Jimmie Dale noted grimly, for the passage of a man's body.
He moved forward cautiously, though he was almost certain that he was
ahead of Hunchback Joe. He, Jimmie Dale, had come without an instant's
loss of time from Baldy Jack's, and it was more than an even chance that
Hunchback Joe would have remained somewhere in the neighbourhood until
the affair was over. It would take some little time--not until after the
police had restored order--to discover that the attempt upon Klanner had
been abortive, that Klanner's body was _not_ lying there dead on the
floor. But after that--Jimmie Dale opened the door of the partition
stealthily, slipped through, and, as his flashlight swept around again,
nodded his head sharply--yes, he had thought so!--there was a means of
communication here--a telephone. Well then, after that, Hunchback Joe
would set every crook and tool over whom he had any control at work to
find Klanner. But that meant different men at work in many different
directions, and there must therefore be some central spot where
Hunchback Joe could be instantly reached and reports made to him should
Klanner be found--and what better place, what more likely place than
here in the security of his own lair! Yes, Hunchback Joe, since he,
Jimmie Dale, was now satisfied that the other had not yet returned,
would be back here, and, in all probability, long before midnight.
Midnight! Why had the Tocsin set midnight, waited for midnight as the
hour for the Secret Service raid? Did she have a hidden purpose in that?
Was it possible she knew that some one beside Hunchback Joe would also
be here at that hour--that Clarke might be here, too! Well, why not!
There might well be need for a conference between Clarke and his unholy
chief of staff! There might--Jimmie Dale frowned savagely. His mind was
running riot! He had not come here to speculate on possibilities; for,
whatever might happen, there was definite and instant work to do.
The white ray of the flashlight played steadily now around him. The
place evidently served as the office; it was partitioned off again in
exactly the same manner from the rear of the shed, making an oblong
enclosure the width of the shed one way, and a good fifteen feet the
other. It was electric-lighted, and contained a battered table in lieu
of desk, upon which stood the telephone; there were several chairs, and
a safe, whose scratched, marred, and apparently ramshackle exterior did
not disguise from Jimmie Dale the fact that it was of the finest and
most modern make.
A rough, wooden stairway led above. Jimmie Dale mounted this, found that
it gave on a crudely furnished, attic-like bedroom, and then descending
again, he opened the rear door of the partition, and flashed his light
around the back of the shed. There were a few packing cases here--that
was all. The shed was evidently built out to the extreme end of the
pier, judging from its depth; and there had been side doors, but these
were boarded up and bore evidence of having been long out of use--and
there were no windows.
Jimmie Dale returned now to the front of the shed.
"Under the sail-cloth in left corner," she had written. Yes, here it
was! He stooped down, a twisted smile on his lips, and, taking from his
pocket the packet of papers and the blackjack, tucked them under several
folds of the cloth. "Unto Caesar!" she had said. Well, he had rendered
back to "Caesar" the things that were "Caesar's." He straightened up.
The Secret Service men would know where to look--she would have seen to
that! "Unto Caesar!" The smile died away, and an angry red tinged Jimmie
Dale's cheeks--he was picturing again that scene in Klanner's room, the
bestial deviltry of that deformed and hideous creature who, to cover up
his own guilt, was railroading an innocent man to death. "Unto
Caesar!"--yes, there was grim justice here--but that was not enough!
Justice might and _would_ have its turn, but before then there was
another sort of justice, too!
He went back into the office, and sat down in a chair beside the table
where he could command the door. He laid his flashlight, the ray on,
upon the table, took from his pocket the metal insignia case, lifted out
a seal, dropped it by means of the tweezers on his handkerchief, folded
the handkerchief carefully, and replaced the insignia case and
handkerchief in his pocket; then, switching off the flashlight, he
restored that, too, to his pocket.
It was dark now again--and silent. There was no sound, save the gentle
lap of water against the pier, and the distant, muffled murmur of
traffic from one of the great bridges that spanned the river. Jimmie
Dale's automatic was in his hand. There was one man who stood between
the woman whom he loved and her happiness, one man, who had driven her
from her home and by every foul art and craft had sought to take her
life, one man, one man only--Marre, alias Clarke. And once Clarke were
run to earth, she was free forever--no one else had any incentive in
hounding her to her death.
Well, there was one man who knew where Marre was--Hunchback Joe. And,
come what might, Hunchback Joe would tell him, Jimmie Dale, to-night
where Marre was! He was not so sure as the Tocsin that Hunchback Joe
would talk to the police; he was sure that Hunchback Joe would talk--_to
the Gray Seal_. That was all. That was what he was waiting for here now
in the darkness before the police came--for Hunchback Joe.
Time passed--a half hour--an hour. It was getting perilously close to
the time when the Secret Service men would be pounding at the door
out there, and the margin of time left for that grim interview with
Hunchback Joe was narrowing rapidly; but there was a strange, calm,
cold patience possessing Jimmie Dale--the man would come, and come in
time--he knew that, knew it as he knew that he sat there and lived
The silence was oppressive, heavy; it seemed to palpitate in rhythm with
the lap of the water against the pier. The minutes dragged by, another
five of them--and then suddenly Jimmie Dale sat rigidly forward in his
chair. The front door had not been unlocked or opened, but there was the
sound of a footstep now--from the rear section of the shed, where there
had appeared to be no entrance! The footstep came nearer--the door of
the partition opened--there was the click of the electric-light
switch--the light came on--and then a low, savage, startled oath came
from the doorway.
Jimmie Dale did not move--his automatic was covering the misshapen,
toad-like figure of Hunchback Joe, as the other stood just inside the
room. For a moment neither spoke--then Hunchback Joe laughed suddenly in
"What's the game?" he demanded. "You don't need any mask on here--I deal
with your kind every day. What do you want?"
Jimmie Dale rose to his feet.
"This--to begin with!" he said--and, crossing the room, felt through the
other's pockets, and possessed himself of the man's revolver. "Now go
over there, and sit down at that table!"
Hunchback Joe laughed contemptuously again, as he obeyed; but there was
a hint of deadly menace in his voice as he spoke.
"Go to it--while you can!" he snarled. "You've got the drop on me. Well,
what do you want?"
Jimmie Dale followed, and faced the other across the table. Hunchback
Joe's eyes, with that curious, unpleasant trick of which the man seemed
possessed, were blinking ceaselessly.
"I want to give this back to you," said Jimmie Dale quietly--and
flung the roll of bills that he had taken from Klanner's trunk down
upon the table.
Hunchback Joe's eyes ceased to blink.
"Why, thanks!" grinned Hunchback Joe. "You're a queer sort of a
night marauder, you are! Sure this is for me, and that you aren't
making a mistake?"
"Quite sure," said Jimmie Dale, still quietly. "It's yours. It's the
money you planted in Klanner's trunk a couple of hours ago."
"I never heard of Klanner," said Hunchback Joe.
"It's simply the evidence that that isn't all I found in the trunk,"
said Jimmie Dale. "There was a packet of papers, and the blood-stained
blackjack with which Jathan Lane was murdered in the bank this
"My God, the man's mad!" muttered Hunchback Joe under his breath. "I'm
up against a maniac!"
Jimmie Dale had taken his handkerchief from his pocket, and, carrying it
to his mouth, had moistened the adhesive side of the little seal. His
voice rasped, as his hand went down upon the table.
"You blot on God's earth!" he said hoarsely. "That's enough of that!
The buttons are off the foils to-night, Hunchback Joe!"
For the second time, Hunchback Joe's eyes had ceased to blink. He was
staring at the gray seal on the table top in front of him, and now in
spite of his effort to maintain nonchalance, a whiteness had come
into his face.
"You!" he shrank back a little in his chair. "The Gray Seal!"
Jimmie Dale's lips were thin and drawn tight together. He made no
It was Hunchback Joe who broke the silence.
"What's your price?" he asked thickly. "I suppose you've got
those--those other things, or at least you know where they are."
"Yes," said Jimmie Dale grimly, "I know where they are."
"Well"--Hunchback Joe hesitated, fumbling for his words--"we're both
tarred with the same brush, only you're worse than I am. I've got to pay
your price, of course. Make it reasonable. I haven't got all the money
in the world. Tell me where those things are, and name your figures."
"My figure"--Jimmie Dale was clipping off his words--"is a little
information. A trade, Hunchback Joe--mine for yours. I want to know
where Peter Marre, alias Clarke, is?"
Hunchback Joe drew back from the table with a jerk. The whiteness in his
face had changed to an unhealthy, leaden gray. He shook his head.
"I don't know," he said. "That's straight--I've heard of Marre, of
course, everybody has, he's a lawyer; but I never heard of Clarke,
"A lie!" Jimmie Dale cut in, an ugly calm in his voice "You--"
But Jimmie Dale, too, was interrupted. The telephone on the table was
ringing. His automatic covering Hunchback Joe, he pulled the instrument
toward him, and lifted the receiver from the hook.
"Hello!" he said gruffly. "What's wanted?"
A voice responded in feverish excitement:
"Say, dat youse, Joe? Dis is Hoppy Meggs. Say, de fly cops has got
tipped off; dey're on de way down to yer place now. Youse want to beat
it on de jump!"
"Wait a minute!" said Jimmie Dale. He passed the instrument over to
Hunchback Joe. "It's for you," he said, with a queer smile.
Hunchback Joe put the receiver to his ear--and a moment later, without a
word in reply, returned it to the hook. But he had risen from his seat,
and, swaying on his feet, was gripping at the table edge for support.
"I could have told you that," said Jimmie Dale evenly; "but you've got
it now from a source that you won't question. I told you the buttons
were off the foils tonight, but you don't seem to realise it yet. Three
nights ago you laid a trap for me--_and the Pippin died_. Do you
understand what I mean now by naked foils? You've one chance for
life--and that's to answer my question. But I'll play fair with you, and
tell you that I'm going to see that the police get you even if you do
answer. Those documents and that blackjack are here in this place, and
the Secret Service men know where to find them." Jimmie Dale's watch was
in his hand. "It's five minutes to twelve. They'll be here at midnight.
I've got to make my getaway before they come. I need two minutes for
that, including locking you in so that _you_ can't get away. That leaves
you three minutes to make up your mind. If you answer, you can have
whatever chance your lawyers can get you; if you refuse, you and I
settle our score before I leave. It's three minutes against a possible
commutation of sentence to life imprisonment. _Where is Marre?_"
The misshapen, shrunken thing was rocking on its feet. There was
"There are two minutes left," said Jimmie Dale in a monotone.
The man's eyes, coal black, hunted, the pupils gone, swept the room.
His lips were working; his hands, clenching and unclenching, clawed at
"_One!_" said Jimmie Dale.
There was a scream of ungovernable fury, the crash of the toppling
table, and, reaching out with both hands for Jimmie Dale's weapon,
Hunchback Joe hurled himself forward--but quick as the other was, Jimmie
Dale was quicker, and with his left hand, palm open, pushed full into
the man's face, he flung the other back.
And then there came a cry--a cry in a woman's voice;
It was the Tocsin's voice from the rear doorway of the office. It was
her voice; Jimmie Dale could never mistake it even in its startled
cry--but he did not look. His eyes were on the man who was standing on
the other side of the overturned table, whose beard where he, Jimmie
Dale, had grasped the other's face had been wrenched away, and whose
shrunken figure seemed to tower up now in height, and whose deformity
was a padded coat, awry now because of the erect and upright posture in
which the man stood. It was Clarke, the master of disguise, who once had
impersonated Travers, the chauffeur; it was Marre--Wizard Marre.
There was a ghastly smile on the man's face.
"Marre," he said. "Yes--Marre. But you never knew it, did you, Miss
LaSalle--until now! Well, now is time enough for you, and far too soon
for me!" He flung out his hand in a queer, impotent gesture, as he threw
back his shoulders. "But I would like to be thought a good loser. I
congratulate you, Miss LaSalle!" Again his hand was raised in
gesture--and with lightning swiftness, before Jimmie Dale could
intervene, swept to his vest pocket and was carried to his mouth. "And
so I drink to your success, and--"
A glass vial rolled away upon the floor--and Jimmie Dale, with a bound,
had caught the swaying figure in his arms. There was a tremor through
the man's form--then inertness. He lowered the other to the ground.
Wizard Marre was dead. It was the colourless liquid of the old Crime
Club, instantaneous in its action that--
Jimmie Dale swept his hand over his masked face, and pulled the mask
away, and looked up. She, the Tocsin; yes, it was the Tocsin; yes, it
was Marie--only the beautiful face was deadly pale--it was the Tocsin
who was standing over him, shaking him frantically by the shoulder.
"Jimmie! Quick! Quick!" she cried. "The Secret Service men! Don't you
hear them? Quick! This way!"
There was a crash, a pound upon the street door. She had caught his
hand, and was pulling him forward now out into the rear of the shed.
There was a light from the office doorway--enough to see. One of the
packing cases was tipped over, and, on hinges, made a trap door. A short
ladder led downward to where, a few feet below, two boats were moored.
"I came this way. I followed him," she said. "Quick--Jimmie!"
It took an instant, no more, to swing her through the opening, but as he
lowered her down and her hair brushed his cheek, there came a quick
half sob to Jimmie Dale's lips.
"Mark!" he whispered. "Marie--at last!"
Came the rip and tear and rend of wood, the thud of a falling door from
the front of the shed, the rush of feet--but Jimmie Dale was in the boat
now, and the packing case above was swung back into place.
"Right ahead, Jimmie!" she breathed. "The planks at the end of the pier
swing aside--yes, there--no, a little to the right--yes!"
The boat shot out into the river--farther out--and the pier and shed
merged into the shadows of the shore line and were lost.
And then Jimmie Dale let the oars swing loose. She was crouched in the
bottom of the boat close beside him. He bent his head until his lips
touched her hair, and lower still until his lips touched hers. And a
long time passed. And the boat drifted on. And he drew her closer into
his arms, and held her there. She was safe now, safe for always--and the
road of fear lay behind. And into the night there seemed to come a great
quiet, and a great joy, and a great thankfulness, and a wondrous peace.
And the boat drifted on.
And neither spoke--for they were going _home_.