Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Intrusion of Jimmy by P. G. Wodehouse

Part 1 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

This Etext was prepared by Charles Franks and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team








The main smoking-room of the Strollers' Club had been filling for
the last half-hour, and was now nearly full. In many ways, the
Strollers', though not the most magnificent, is the pleasantest club
in New York. Its ideals are comfort without pomp; and it is given
over after eleven o'clock at night mainly to the Stage. Everybody is
young, clean-shaven, and full of conversation: and the conversation
strikes a purely professional note.

Everybody in the room on this July night had come from the theater.
Most of those present had been acting, but a certain number had been
to the opening performance of the latest better-than-Raffles play.
There had been something of a boom that season in dramas whose
heroes appealed to the public more pleasantly across the footlights
than they might have done in real life. In the play that had opened
to-night, Arthur Mifflin, an exemplary young man off the stage, had
been warmly applauded for a series of actions which, performed
anywhere except in the theater, would certainly have debarred him
from remaining a member of the Strollers' or any other club. In
faultless evening dress, with a debonair smile on his face, he had
broken open a safe, stolen bonds and jewelry to a large amount, and
escaped without a blush of shame via the window. He had foiled a
detective through four acts, and held up a band of pursuers with a
revolver. A large audience had intimated complete approval

"It's a hit all right," said somebody through the smoke.

"These near-'Raffles' plays always are," grumbled Willett, who
played bluff fathers in musical comedy. "A few years ago, they would
have been scared to death of putting on a show with a crook as hero.
Now, it seems to me the public doesn't want anything else. Not that
they know what they DO want," he concluded, mournfully.

"The Belle of Boulogne," in which Willett sustained the role of
Cyrus K. Higgs, a Chicago millionaire, was slowly fading away on a
diet of paper, and this possibly prejudiced him.

Raikes, the character actor, changed the subject. If Willett once
got started on the wrongs of the ill-fated "Belle," general
conversation would become impossible. Willett, denouncing the
stupidity of the public, as purely a monologue artiste.

"I saw Jimmy Pitt at the show," said Raikes. Everybody displayed

"Jimmy Pitt? When did he come back? I thought he was in Italy."

"He came on the Lusitania, I suppose. She docked this morning."

"Jimmy Pitt?" said Sutton, of the Majestic Theater. "How long has he
been away? Last I saw of him was at the opening of 'The Outsider' at
the Astor. That's a couple of months ago."

"He's been traveling in Europe, I believe," said Raikes. "Lucky
beggar to be able to. I wish I could."

Sutton knocked the ash off his cigar.

"I envy Jimmy," he said. "I don't know anyone I'd rather be. He's
got much more money than any man except a professional 'plute' has
any right to. He's as strong as an ox. I shouldn't say he'd ever had
anything worse than measles in his life. He's got no relations. And
he isn't married."

Sutton, who had been married three times, spoke with some feeling.

"He's a good chap, Jimmy," said Raikes.

"Yes," said Arthur Mifflin, "yes, Jimmy is a good chap. I've known
him for years. I was at college with him. He hasn't got my
brilliance of intellect; but he has some wonderfully fine qualities.
For one thing, I should say he had put more deadbeats on their legs
again than half the men in New York put together."

"Well," growled Willett, whom the misfortunes of the Belle had
soured, "what's there in that? It's mighty easy to do the
philanthropist act when you're next door to a millionaire."

"Yes," said Mifflin warmly, "but it's not so easy when you're
getting thirty dollars a week on a newspaper. When Jimmy was a
reporter on the News, there used to be a whole crowd of fellows just
living on him. Not borrowing an occasional dollar, mind you, but
living on him--sleeping on his sofa, and staying to breakfast. It
made me mad. I used to ask him why he stood for it. He said there
was nowhere else for them to go, and he thought he could see them
through all right--which he did, though I don't see how he managed
it on thirty a week."

"If a man's fool enough to be an easy mark--" began Willett.

"Oh, cut it out!" said Raikes. "We don't want anybody knocking Jimmy

"All the same," said Sutton, "it seems to me that it was mighty
lucky that he came into that money. You can't keep open house for
ever on thirty a week. By the way, Arthur, how was that? I heard it
was his uncle."

"It wasn't his uncle," said Mifflin. "It was by way of being a
romance of sorts, I believe. Fellow who had been in love with
Jimmy's mother years ago went West, made a pile, and left it to Mrs.
Pitt or her children. She had been dead some time when that
happened. Jimmy, of course, hadn't a notion of what was coming to
him, when suddenly he got a solicitor's letter asking him to call.
He rolled round, and found that there was about five hundred
thousand dollars just waiting for him to spend it."

Jimmy Pitt had now definitely ousted "Love, the Cracksman" as a
topic of conversation. Everybody present knew him. Most of them had
known him in his newspaper days; and, though every man there would
have perished rather than admit it, they were grateful to Jimmy for
being exactly the same to them now that he could sign a check for
half a million as he had been on the old thirty-a-week basis.
Inherited wealth, of course, does not make a young man nobler or
more admirable; but the young man does not always know this.

"Jimmy's had a queer life," said Mifflin. "He's been pretty much
everything in his time. Did you know he was on the stage before he
took up newspaper-work? Only on the road, I believe. He got tired of
it, and cut it out. That's always been his trouble. He wouldn't
settle down to anything. He studied law at Yale, but he never kept
it up. After he left the stage, he moved all over the States,
without a cent, picking up any odd job he could get. He was a waiter
once for a couple of days, but they fired him for breaking plates.
Then, he got a job in a jeweler's shop. I believe he's a bit of an
expert on jewels. And, another time, he made a hundred dollars by
staying three rounds against Kid Brady when the Kid was touring the
country after he got the championship away from Jimmy Garwin. The
Kid was offering a hundred to anyone who could last three rounds
with him. Jimmy did it on his head. He was the best amateur of his
weight I ever saw. The Kid wanted him to take up scrapping
seriously. But Jimmy wouldn't have stuck to anything long enough in
those days. He's one of the gypsies of the world. He was never
really happy unless he was on the move, and he doesn't seem to have
altered since he came into his money."

"Well, he can afford to keep on the move now," said Raikes. "I wish

"Did you ever hear about Jimmy and--" Mifflin was beginning, when
the Odyssey of Jimmy Pitt was interrupted by the opening of the door
and the entrance of Ulysses in person.

Jimmy Pitt was a young man of medium height, whose great breadth and
depth of chest made him look shorter than he really was. His jaw was
square, and protruded slightly; and this, combined with a certain
athletic jauntiness of carriage and a pair of piercing brown eyes
very much like those of a bull-terrier, gave him an air of
aggressiveness, which belied his character. He was not aggressive.
He had the good-nature as well as the eyes of a bull-terrier. Also,
he possessed, when stirred, all the bull-terrier's dogged

There were shouts of welcome.

"Hullo, Jimmy!"

"When did you get back?"

"Come and sit down. Plenty of room over here."

"Where is my wandering boy tonight?"

"Waiter! What's yours, Jimmy?"

Jimmy dropped into a seat, and yawned.

"Well," he said, "how goes it? Hullo, Raikes! Weren't you at 'Love,
the Cracksman'? I thought I saw you. Hullo, Arthur! Congratulate
you. You spoke your piece nicely."

"Thanks," said Mifflin. "We were just talking about you, Jimmy. You
came on the Lusitania, I suppose?"

"She didn't break the record this time," said Sutton.

A somewhat pensive look came into Jimmy's eyes.

"She came much too quick for me," he said. "I don't see why they
want to rip along at that pace," he went on, hurriedly. "I like to
have a chance of enjoying the sea-air."

"I know that sea-air," murmured Mifflin.

Jimmy looked up quickly.

"What are you babbling about, Arthur?"

"I said nothing," replied Mifflin, suavely.

"What did you think of the show tonight, Jimmy?" asked Raikes.

"I liked it. Arthur was fine. I can't make out, though, why all this
incense is being burned at the feet of the cracksman. To judge by
some of the plays they produce now, you'd think that a man had only
to be a successful burglar to become a national hero. One of these
days, we shall have Arthur playing Charles Peace to a cheering

"It is the tribute," said Mifflin, "that bone-headedness pays to
brains. It takes brains to be a successful cracksman. Unless the
gray matter is surging about in your cerebrum, as in mine, you can't

Jimmy leaned back in his chair, and spoke calmly but with decision.

"Any man of ordinary intelligence," he said, "could break into a

Mifflin jumped up and began to gesticulate. This was heresy.

"My good man, what absolute--"

"_I_ could," said Jimmy, lighting a cigarette.

There was a roar of laughter and approval. For the past few weeks,
during the rehearsals of "Love, the Cracksman," Arthur Mifflin had
disturbed the peace at the Strollers' with his theories on the art
of burglary. This was his first really big part, and he had soaked
himself in it. He had read up the literature of burglary. He had
talked with men from Pinkerton's. He had expounded his views nightly
to his brother Strollers, preaching the delicacy and difficulty of
cracking a crib till his audience had rebelled. It charmed the
Strollers to find Jimmy, obviously of his own initiative and not to
be suspected of having been suborned to the task by themselves,
treading with a firm foot on the expert's favorite corn within five
minutes of their meeting.

"You!" said Arthur Mifflin, with scorn.


"You! Why, you couldn't break into an egg unless it was a poached

"What'll you bet?" said Jimmy.

The Strollers began to sit up and take notice. The magic word "bet,"
when uttered in that room, had rarely failed to add a zest to life.
They looked expectantly at Arthur Mifflin.

"Go to bed, Jimmy," said the portrayer of cracksmen. "I'll come with
you and tuck you in. A nice, strong cup of tea in the morning, and
you won't know there has ever been anything the matter with you."

A howl of disapproval rose from the company. Indignant voices
accused Arthur Mifflin of having a yellow streak. Encouraging voices
urged him not to be a quitter.

"See! They scorn you," said Jimmy. "And rightly. Be a man, Arthur.
What'll you bet?"

Mr. Mifflin regarded him with pity.

"You don't know what you're up against, Jimmy," he said. "You're
half a century behind the times. You have an idea that all a burglar
needs is a mask, a blue chin, and a dark lantern. I tell you he
requires a highly specialized education. I've been talking to these
detective fellows, and I know. Now, take your case, you worm. Have
you a thorough knowledge of chemistry, physics, toxicology--"


"--electricity and microscopy?"

"You have discovered my secret."

"Can you use an oxy-acetylene blow-pipe?"

"I never travel without one."

"What do you know about the administration of anaesthetics?"

"Practically everything. It is one of my favorite hobbies."

"Can you make 'soup'?"


"Soup," said Mr. Mifflin, firmly.

Jimmy raised his eyebrows.

"Does an architect make bricks?" he said. "I leave the rough
preliminary work to my corps of assistants. They make my soup."

"You mustn't think Jimmy's one of your common yeggs," said Sutton.
"He's at the top of his profession. That's how he made his money. I
never did believe that legacy story."

"Jimmy," said Mr. Mifflin, "couldn't crack a child's money-box.
Jimmy couldn't open a sardine-tin."

Jimmy shrugged his shoulders.

"What'll you bet?" he said again. "Come on, Arthur; you're earning a
very good salary. What'll you bet?"

"Make it a dinner for all present," suggested Raikes, a canny person
who believed in turning the wayside happenings of life, when
possible, to his personal profit.

The suggestion was well received.

"All right," said Mifflin. "How many of us are there? One, two,
three, four--Loser buys a dinner for twelve."

"A good dinner," interpolated Raikes, softly.

"A good dinner," said Jimmy. "Very well. How long do you give me,

"How long do you want?"

"There ought to be a time-limit," said Raikes. "It seems to me that
a flyer like Jimmy ought to be able to manage it at short notice.
Why not tonight? Nice, fine night. If Jimmy doesn't crack a crib
tonight, it's up to him. That suit you, Jimmy?"


Willett interposed. Willett had been endeavoring to drown his
sorrows all the evening, and the fact was a little noticeable in his

"See here," he said, "how's J-Jimmy going to prove he's done it?"

"Personally, I can take his word," said Mifflin.

"That be h-hanged for a tale. Wha-what's to prevent him saying he's
done it, whether he has or not?"

The Strollers looked uncomfortable. Nevertheless, it was Jimmy's

"Why, you'd get your dinner in any case," said Jimmy. "A dinner from
any host would smell as sweet."

Willett persisted with muddled obstinacy.

"Thash--thash not point. It's principle of thing. Have thish thing
square and 'bove board, _I_ say. Thash what _I_ say."

"And very creditable to you being able to say it," said Jimmy,
cordially. "See if you can manage 'Truly rural'."

"What _I_ say is--this! Jimmy's a fakir. And what I say is what's
prevent him saying he's done it when hasn't done it?"

"That'll be all right," said Jimmy. "I'm going to bury a brass tube
with the Stars and Stripes in it under the carpet."

Willett waved his hand.

"Thash quite sh'factory," he said, with dignity. "Nothing more to

"Or a better idea," said Jimmy. "I'll carve a big J on the inside of
the front door. Then, anybody who likes can make inquiries next day.
Well, I'm off home. Glad it's all settled. Anybody coming my way?"

"Yes," said Arthur Mifflin. "We'll walk. First nights always make me
as jumpy as a cat. If I don't walk my legs off, I shan't get to
sleep tonight at all."

"If you think I'm going to help you walk your legs off, my lad,
you're mistaken. I propose to stroll gently home, and go to bed."

"Every little helps," said Mifflin. "Come along."

"You want to keep an eye on Jimmy, Arthur," said Sutton. "He'll
sand-bag you, and lift your watch as soon as look at you. I believe
he's Arsene Lupin in disguise."



The two men turned up the street. They walked in silence. Arthur
Mifflin was going over in his mind such outstanding events of the
evening as he remembered--the nervousness, the relief of finding
that he was gripping his audience, the growing conviction that he
had made good; while Jimmy seemed to be thinking his own private
thoughts. They had gone some distance before either spoke.

"Who is she, Jimmy?" asked Mifflin.

Jimmy came out of his thoughts with a start.

"What's that?"

"Who is she?"

"I don't know what you mean."

"Yes, you do! The sea air. Who is she?"

"I don't know," said Jimmy, simply.

"You don't know? Well, what's her name?"

"I don't know."

"Doesn't the Lusitania still print a passenger-list?"

"She does."

"And you couldn't find out her name in five days?"


"And that's the man who thinks he can burgle a house!" said Mifflin,

They had arrived now at the building on the second floor of which
was Jimmy's flat.

"Coming in?" said Jimmy.

"Well, I was rather thinking of pushing on as far as the Park. I
tell you, I feel all on wires."

"Come in, and smoke a cigar. You've got all night before you if you
want to do Marathons. I haven't seen you for a couple of months. I
want you to tell me all the news."

"There isn't any. Nothing happens in New York. The papers say things
do, but they don't. However, I'll come in. It seems to me that
you're the man with the news."

Jimmy fumbled with his latch-key.

"You're a bright sort of burglar," said Mifflin, disparagingly. "Why
don't you use your oxy-acetylene blow-pipe? Do you realize, my boy,
that you've let yourself in for buying a dinner for twelve hungry
men next week? In the cold light of the morning, when reason returns
to her throne, that'll come home to you."

"I haven't done anything of the sort," said Jimmy, unlocking the

"Don't tell me you really mean to try it."

"What else did you think I was going to do?"

"But you can't. You would get caught for a certainty. And what are
you going to do then? Say it was all a joke? Suppose they fill you
full of bullet-holes! Nice sort of fool you'll look, appealing to
some outraged householder's sense of humor, while he pumps you full
of lead with a Colt."

"These are the risks of the profession. You ought to know that,
Arthur. Think what you went through tonight."

Arthur Mifflin looked at his friend with some uneasiness. He knew
how very reckless Jimmy could be when he had set his mind on
accomplishing anything, since, under the stimulus of a challenge, he
ceased to be a reasoning being, amenable to argument. And, in the
present case, he knew that Willett's words had driven the challenge
home. Jimmy was not the man to sit still under the charge of being a
fakir, no matter whether his accuser had been sober or drunk.

Jimmy, meanwhile, had produced whiskey and cigars. Now, he was lying
on his back on the lounge, blowing smoke-rings at the ceiling.

"Well?" said Arthur Mifflin, at length.

"Well, what?"

"What I meant was, is this silence to be permanent, or are you going
to begin shortly to amuse, elevate, and instruct? Something's
happened to you, Jimmy. There was a time when you were a bright
little chap, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.
Where be your gibes now; your gambols, your songs, your flashes of
merriment that were wont to set the table in a roar when you were
paying for the dinner? Yon remind me more of a deaf-mute celebrating
the Fourth of July with noiseless powder than anything else on
earth. Wake up, or I shall go. Jimmy, we were practically boys
together. Tell me about this girl--the girl you loved, and were
idiot enough to lose."

Jimmy drew a deep breath.

"Very well," said Mifflin complacently, "sigh if you like; it's
better than nothing."

Jimmy sat up.

"Yes, dozens of times," said Mifflin.

"What do you mean?"

"You were just going to ask me if I had ever been in love, weren't

"I wasn't, because I know you haven't. You have no soul. You don't
know what love is."

"Have it your own way," said Mifflin, resignedly.

Jimmy bumped back on the sofa.

"I don't either," he said. "That's the trouble."

Mifflin looked interested.

"I know," he said. "You've got that strange premonitory fluttering,
when the heart seems to thrill within you like some baby bird
singing its first song, when--"

"Oh, cut it out!"

"--when you ask yourself timidly, 'Is it? Can it really be?' and
answer shyly, 'No. Yes. I believe it is!' I've been through it
dozens of times; it is a recognized early symptom. Unless prompt
measures are taken, it will develop into something acute. In these
matters, stand on your Uncle Arthur. He knows."

"You make me sick," Jimmy retorted.

"You have our ear," said Mifflin, kindly. "Tell me all."

"There's nothing to tell."

"Don't lie, James."

"Well, practically nothing."

"That's better."

"It was like this."


Jimmy wriggled himself into a more comfortable position, and took a
sip from his glass.

"I didn't see her until the second day out."

"I know that second day out. Well?"

"We didn't really meet at all."

"Just happened to be going to the same spot, eh?"

"As a matter of fact, it was like this. Like a fool, I'd bought a
second-class ticket."

"What? Our young Rockerbilt Astergould, the boy millionaire,
traveling second-class! Why?"

"I had an idea it would be better fun. Everybody's so much more
cheery in the second cabin. You get to know people so much quicker.
Nine trips out of ten, I'd much rather go second."

"And this was the tenth?"

"She was in the first-cabin," said Jimmy.

Mifflin clutched his forehead.

"Wait!" he cried. "This reminds me of something--something in
Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet? No. I've got it--Pyramus and Thisbe."

"I don't see the slightest resemblance."

"Read your 'Midsummer Night's Dream.' 'Pyramus and Thisbe,' says the
story, 'did talk through the chink of a wall,'" quoted Mifflin.

"We didn't."

"Don't be so literal. You talked across a railing."

"We didn't."

"Do you mean to say you didn't talk at all?"

"We didn't say a single word."

Mifflin shook his head sadly.

"I give you up," he said. "I thought you were a man of enterprise.
What did you do?"

Jimmy sighed softly.

"I used to stand and smoke against the railing opposite the barber's
shop, and she used to walk round the deck."

"And you used to stare at her?"

"I would look in her direction sometimes," corrected Jimmy, with

"Don't quibble! You stared at her. You behaved like a common rubber-
neck, and you know it. I am no prude, James, but I feel compelled to
say that I consider your conduct that of a libertine. Used she to
walk alone?"


"And, now, you love her, eh? You went on board that ship happy,
careless, heart-free. You came off it grave and saddened.
Thenceforth, for you, the world could contain but one--woman, and
her you had lost."

Mifflin groaned in a hollow and bereaved manner, and took a sip from
his glass to buoy him up.

Jimmy moved restlessly on the sofa.

"Do you believe in love at first sight?" he asked, fatuously. He was
in the mood when a man says things, the memory of which makes him
wake up hot all over for nights to come.

"I don't see what first sight's got to do with it," said Mifflin.
"According to your own statement, you stood and glared at the girl
for five days without letting up for a moment. I can quite imagine
that you might glare yourself into love with anyone by the end of
that time."

"I can't see myself settling down," said Jimmy, thoughtfully. "And,
until you feel that you want to settle down, I suppose you can't be
really in love."

"I was saying practically that about you at the club just before you
came in. My somewhat neat expression was that you were one of the
gypsies of the world."

"By George, you're quite right!"

"I always am."

"I suppose it's having nothing to do. When I was on the News, I was
never like this."

"You weren't on the News long enough to get tired of it."

"I feel now I can't stay in a place more than a week. It's having
this money that does it, I suppose."

"New York," said Mifflin, "is full of obliging persons who will be
delighted to relieve you of the incubus. Well, James, I shall leave
you. I feel more like bed now. By the way, I suppose you lost sight
of this girl when you landed?"


"Well, there aren't so many girls in the United States--only twenty
million. Or is it forty million? Something small. All you've got to
do is to search around a bit. Good-night."


Mr. Mifflin clattered down the stairs. A minute later, the sound of
his name being called loudly from the street brought Jimmy to the
window. Mifflin was standing on the pavement below, looking up.


"What's the matter now?"

"I forgot to ask. Was she a blonde?"


"Was she a blonde?" yelled Mifflin.

"No," snapped Jimmy.

"Dark, eh?" bawled Mifflin, making night hideous.

"Yes," said Jimmy, shutting the window.


The window went up again.


"Me for blondes!"

"Go to bed!"

"Very well. Good-night."


Jimmy withdrew his head, and sat down in the chair Mifflin had
vacated. A moment later, he rose, and switched off the light. It was
pleasanter to sit and think in the dark. His thoughts wandered off
in many channels, but always came back to the girl on the Lusitania.
It was absurd, of course. He didn't wonder that Arthur Mifflin had
treated the thing as a joke. Good old Arthur! Glad he had made a
success! But was it a joke? Who was it that said, the point of a
joke is like the point of a needle, so small that it is apt to
disappear entirely when directed straight at oneself? If anybody
else had told him such a limping romance, he would have laughed
himself. Only, when you are the center of a romance, however
limping, you see it from a different angle. Of course, told badly,
it was absurd. He could see that. But something away at the back of
his mind told him that it was not altogether absurd. And yet--love
didn't come like that, in a flash. You might just as well expect a
house to spring into being in a moment, or a ship, or an automobile,
or a table, or a--He sat up with a jerk. In another instant, he
would have been asleep.

He thought of bed, but bed seemed a long way off--the deuce of a
way. Acres of carpet to be crawled over, and then the dickens of a
climb at the end of it. Besides, undressing! Nuisance--undressing.
That was a nice dress the girl had worn on the fourth day out.
Tailor-made. He liked tailor-mades. He liked all her dresses. He
liked her. Had she liked him? So hard to tell if you don't get a
chance of speaking! She was dark. Arthur liked blondes, Arthur was a
fool! Good old Arthur! Glad he had made a success! Now, he could
marry if he liked! If he wasn't so restless, if he didn't feel that
he couldn't stop more than a day in any place! But would the girl
have him? If they had never spoken, it made it so hard to--

At this point, Jimmy went to sleep.



At about the time when Jimmy's meditations finally merged themselves
in dreams, a certain Mr. John McEachern, Captain of Police, was
seated in the parlor of his up-town villa, reading. He was a man
built on a large scale. Everything about him was large--his hands,
his feet, his shoulders, his chest, and particularly his jaw, which
even in his moments of calm was aggressive, and which stood out,
when anything happened to ruffle him, like the ram of a battle-ship.
In his patrolman days, which had been passed mainly on the East
side, this jaw of his had acquired a reputation from Park Row to
Fourteenth Street. No gang-fight, however absorbing, could retain
the undivided attention of the young blood of the Bowery when Mr.
McEachern's jaw hove in sight with the rest of his massive person in
close attendance. He was a man who knew no fear, and he had gone
through disorderly mobs like an east wind.

But there was another side to his character. In fact, that other
side was so large that the rest of him, his readiness in combat and
his zeal in breaking up public disturbances, might be said to have
been only an off-shoot. For his ambition was as large as his fist
and as aggressive as his jaw. He had entered the force with the
single idea of becoming rich, and had set about achieving his object
with a strenuous vigor that was as irresistible as his mighty
locust-stick. Some policemen are born grafters, some achieve graft,
and some have graft thrust upon them. Mr. McEachern had begun by
being the first, had risen to the second, and for some years now had
been a prominent member of the small and hugely prosperous third
class, the class that does not go out seeking graft, but sits at
home and lets graft come to it.

In his search for wealth, he had been content to abide his time. He
did not want the trifling sum that every New York policeman
acquires. His object was something bigger, and he was prepared to
wait for it. He knew that small beginnings were an annoying but
unavoidable preliminary to all great fortunes. Probably, Captain
Kidd had started in a small way. Certainly, Mr. Rockefeller had. He
was content to follow in the footsteps of the masters.

A patrolman's opportunities of amassing wealth are not great. Mr.
McEachern had made the best of a bad job. He had not disdained the
dollars that came as single spies rather than in battalions. Until
the time should arrive when he might angle for whales, he was
prepared to catch sprats.

Much may be done, even on a small scale, by perseverance. In those
early days, Mr. McEachern's observant eye had not failed to notice
certain peddlers who obstructed the traffic, divers tradesmen who
did the same by the side-walk, and of restaurant keepers not a few
with a distaste for closing at one o'clock in the morning. His
researches in this field were not unprofitable. In a reasonably
short space of time, he had put by the three thousand dollars that
were the price of his promotion to detective-sergeant. He did not
like paying three thousand dollars for promotion, but there must be
sinking of capital if an investment is to prosper. Mr. McEachern
"came across," and climbed one more step up the ladder.

As detective-sergeant, he found his horizon enlarged. There was more
scope for a man of parts. Things moved more rapidly. The world
seemed full of philanthropists, anxious to "dress his front" and do
him other little kindnesses. Mr. McEachern was no churl. He let them
dress his front. He accepted the little kindnesses. Presently, he
found that he had fifteen thousand dollars to spare for any small
flutter that might take his fancy. Singularly enough, this was the
precise sum necessary to make him a captain.

He became a captain. And it was then that he discovered that El
Dorado was no mere poet's dream, and that Tom Tiddler's Ground,
where one might stand picking up gold and silver, was as definite a
locality as Brooklyn or the Bronx. At last, after years of patient
waiting, he stood like Moses on the mountain, looking down into the
Promised Land. He had come to where the Big Money was.

The captain was now reading the little note-book wherein he kept a
record of his investments, which were numerous and varied. That the
contents were satisfactory was obvious at a glance. The smile on his
face and the reposeful position of his jaw were proof enough of
that. There were notes relating to house-property, railroad shares,
and a dozen other profitable things. He was a rich man.

This was a fact that was entirely unsuspected by his neighbors, with
whom he maintained somewhat distant relations, accepting no
invitations and giving none. For Mr. McEachern was playing a big
game. Other eminent buccaneers in his walk of life had been content
to be rich men in a community where moderate means were the rule.
But about Mr. McEachern there was a touch of the Napoleonic. He
meant to get into society--and the society he had selected was that
of England. Other people have noted the fact--which had impressed
itself very firmly on the policeman's mind--that between England and
the United States there are three thousand miles of deep water. In
the United States, he would be a retired police-captain; in England,
an American gentleman of large and independent means with a
beautiful daughter.

That was the ruling impulse in his life--his daughter Molly. Though,
if he had been a bachelor, he certainly would not have been
satisfied to pursue a humble career aloof from graft, on the other
hand, if it had not been for Molly, he would not have felt, as he
gathered in his dishonest wealth, that he was conducting a sort of
holy war. Ever since his wife had died, in his detective-sergeant
days, leaving him with a year-old daughter, his ambitions had been
inseparably connected with Molly.

All his thoughts were on the future. This New York life was only a
preparation for the splendors to come. He spent not a dollar
unnecessarily. When Molly was home from school, they lived together
simply and quietly in the small house which Molly's taste made so
comfortable. The neighbors, knowing his profession and seeing the
modest scale on which he lived, told one another that here at any
rate was a policeman whose hands were clean of graft. They did not
know of the stream that poured week by week and year by year into
his bank, to be diverted at intervals into the most profitable
channels. Until the time should come for the great change, economy
was his motto. The expenses of his home were kept within the bounds
of his official salary. All extras went to swell his savings.

He closed his book with a contented sigh, and lighted another cigar.
Cigars were his only personal luxury. He drank nothing, ate the
simplest food, and made a suit of clothes last for quite an unusual
length of time; but no passion for economy could make him deny
himself smoke.

He sat on, thinking. It was very late, but he did not feel ready for
bed. A great moment had arrived in his affairs. For days, Wall
Street had been undergoing one of its periodical fits of jumpiness.
There had been rumors and counter-rumors, until finally from the
confusion there had soared up like a rocket the one particular stock
in which he was most largely interested. He had unloaded that
morning, and the result had left him slightly dizzy. The main point
to which his mind clung was that the time had come at last. He could
make the great change now at any moment that suited him.

He was blowing clouds of smoke and gloating over this fact when the
door opened, admitting a bull-terrier, a bull-dog, and in the wake
of the procession a girl in a kimono and red slippers.



"Why, Molly," said the policeman, "what are you doing out of bed? I
thought you were asleep."

He placed a huge arm around her, and drew her to his lap. As she sat
there, his great bulk made her seem smaller than she really was.
With her hair down and her little red slippers dangling half a yard
from the floor, she seemed a child. McEachern, looking at her, found
it hard to realize that nineteen years had passed since the moment
when the doctor's raised eyebrows had reproved him for his
monosyllabic reception of the news that the baby was a girl.

"Do you know what the time is?" he said. "Two o'clock."

"Much too late for you to be sitting here smoking," said Molly,
severely. "How many cigars do you smoke a day? Suppose you had
married someone who wouldn't let you smoke!"

"Never stop your husband smoking, my dear. That's a bit of advice
for you when you're married."

"I'm never going to marry. I'm going to stop at home, and darn your

"I wish you could," he said, drawing her closer to him. "But one of
these days you're going to marry a prince. And now run back to bed.
It's much too late--"

"It's no good, father dear. I couldn't get to sleep. I've been
trying hard for hours. I've counted sheep till I nearly screamed.
It's Rastus' fault. He snores so!"

Mr. McEachern regarded the erring bull-dog sternly.

"Why do you have the brutes in your room?"

"Why, to keep the boogaboos from getting me, of course. Aren't you
afraid of the boogaboos getting you? But you're so big, you wouldn't
mind. You'd just hit them. And they're not brutes--are you,
darlings? You're angels, and you nearly burst yourselves with joy
because auntie had come back from England, didn't you? Father, did
they miss me when I was gone? Did they pine away?"

"They got like skeletons. We all did."


"I should say so."

"Then, why did you send me away to England?"

"I wanted you to see the country. Did you like it?"

"I hated being away from you."

"But you liked the country?"

"I loved it."

McEachern drew a breath of relief. The only possible obstacle to the
great change did not exist.

"How would you like to go back to England, Molly?"

"To England! When I've just come home?"

"If I went, too?"

Molly twisted around so that she could see his face better.

"There's something the matter with you, father. You're trying to say
something, and I want to know what it is. Tell me quick, or I'll
make Rastus bite you!"

"It won't take long, dear. I've been lucky in some investments while
you were away, and I'm going to leave the force, and take you over
to England, and find a prince for you to marry--if you think you
would like it."

"Father! It'll be perfectly splendid!"

"We'll start fair in England, Molly. I'll just be John McEachern,
from America, and, if anybody wants to know anything about me, I'm a
man who has made money on Wall Street--and that's no lie--and has
come over to England to spend it."

Molly gave his arm a squeeze. Her eyes were wet.

"Father, dear," she whispered, "I believe you've been doing it all
for me. You've been slaving away for me ever since I was born,
stinting yourself and saving money just so that I could have a good
time later on."

"No, no!"

"It's true," she said. She turned on him with a tremulous laugh. "I
don't believe you've had enough to eat for years. I believe you're
all skin and bone. Never mind. To-morrow, I'll take you out and buy
you the best dinner you've ever had, out of my own money. We'll go
to Sherry's, and you shall start at the top of the menu, and go
straight down it till you've had enough."

"That will make up for everything. And, now, don't you think you
ought to be going to bed? You'll be losing all that color you got on
the ship."

"Soon--not just yet. I haven't seen you for such ages!" She pointed
at the bull-terrier. "Look at Tommy, standing there and staring. He
can't believe I've really come back. Father, there was a man on the
Lusitania with eyes exactly like Tommy's--all brown and bright--and
he used to stand and stare just like Tommy's doing."

"If I had been there," said her father wrathfully, "I'd have knocked
his head off."

"No, you wouldn't, because I'm sure he was really a very nice young
man. He had a chin rather like yours, father. Besides, you couldn't
have got at him to knock his head off, because he was traveling

"Second-class? Then, you didn't talk with him?"

"We couldn't. You wouldn't expect him to shout at me across the
railing! Only, whenever I walked round the deck, he seemed to be


"He may not have been staring at me. Probably, he was just looking
the way the ship was going, and thinking of some girl in New York. I
don't think you can make much of a romance out of it, father."

"I don't want to, my dear. Princes don't travel in the second-

"He may have been a prince in disguise."

"More likely a drummer," grunted Mr. McEachern.

"Drummers are often quite nice, aren't they?"

"Princes are nicer."

"Well, I'll go to bed and dream of the nicest one I can think of.
Come along, dogs. Stop biting my slipper, Tommy. Why can't you
behave, like Rastus? Still, you don't snore, do you? Aren't you
going to bed soon, father? I believe you've been sitting up late and
getting into all sorts of bad habits while I've been away. I'm sure
you have been smoking too much. When you've finished that cigar,
you're not even to think of another till to-morrow. Promise!"

"Not one?"

"Not one. I'm not going to have my father getting like the people
you read about in the magazine advertisements. You don't want to
feel sudden shooting pains, do you?"

"No, my dear."

"And have to take some awful medicine?"


"Then, promise."

"Very well, my dear. I promise."

As the door closed, the captain threw away the stump he was smoking,
and remained for a moment in thought. Then, he drew another cigar
from his case, lighted it, and resumed the study of the little note-
book. It was past three o'clock when he went to his bedroom.



How long the light had been darting about the room like a very much
enlarged firefly, Jimmy did not know. It seemed to him like hours,
for it had woven itself into an incoherent waking dream of his; and
for a moment, as the mists of sleep passed away from his brain, he
fancied that he was dreaming still. Then, sleep left him, and he
realized that the light, which was now moving slowly across the
bookcase, was a real light.

That the man behind it could not have been there long was plain, or
he would have seen the chair and its occupant. He seemed to be
taking the room step by step. As Jimmy sat up noiselessly and
gripped the arms of the chair in readiness for a spring, the light
passed from the bookcase to the table. Another foot or so to the
left, and it would have fallen on Jimmy.

From the position of the ray, Jimmy could see that the burglar was
approaching on his side of the table. Though until that day he had
not been in the room for two months, its geography was clearly
stamped on his mind's eye. He knew almost to a foot where his
visitor was standing. Consequently, when, rising swiftly from the
chair, he made a football dive into the darkness, it was no
speculative dive. It had a conscious aim, and it was not restrained
by any uncertainty as to whether the road to the burglar's knees was
clear or not.

His shoulder bumped into a human leg. His arms closed
instantaneously on it, and pulled. There was a yelp of dismay, and a
crash. The lantern bounced away across the room, and wrecked itself
on the reef of the steam-heater. Its owner collapsed in a heap on
top of Jimmy.

Jimmy, underneath at the fall, speedily put himself uppermost with a
twist of his body. He had every advantage. The burglar was a small
man, and had been taken very much by surprise, and any fight there
might have been in him in normal circumstances had been shaken out
of him by the fall. He lay still, not attempting to struggle.

Jimmy half-rose, and, pulling his prisoner by inches to the door,
felt up the wall till he found the electric-light button.

The yellow glow that flooded the room disclosed a short, stocky
youth of obviously Bowery extraction. A shock of vivid red hair was
the first thing about him that caught the eye. A poet would have
described it as Titian. Its proprietor's friends and acquaintances
probably called it "carrots." Looking up at Jimmy from under this
wealth of crimson was a not unpleasing face. It was not handsome,
certainly; but there were suggestions of a latent good-humor. The
nose had been broken at one period of its career, and one of the
ears was undeniably of the cauliflower type; but these are little
accidents which may happen to any high-spirited young gentleman. In
costume, the visitor had evidently been guided rather by individual
taste than by the dictates of fashion. His coat was of rusty black,
his trousers of gray, picked out with stains of various colors.
Beneath the coat was a faded red-and-white sweater. A hat of soft
felt lay on the floor by the table.

The cut of the coat was poor, and the fit of it spoiled by a bulge
in one of the pockets. Diagnosing this bulge correctly, Jimmy
inserted his hand, and drew out a dingy revolver.

"Well?" he said, rising.

Like most people, he had often wondered what he should do if he were
to meet a burglar; and he had always come to the conclusion that
curiosity would be his chief emotion. His anticipations were proved
perfectly correct. Now that he had abstracted his visitor's gun, he
had no wish to do anything but engage him in conversation. A
burglar's life was something so entirely outside his experience! He
wanted to learn the burglar's point of view. Incidentally, he
reflected with amusement, as he recalled his wager, he might pick up
a few useful hints.

The man on the floor sat up, and rubbed the back of his head

"Gee!" he muttered. "I t'ought some guy had t'rown de buildin' at

"It was only little me," said Jimmy. "Sorry if I hurt you at all.
You really want a mat for that sort of thing."

The man's hand went furtively to his pocket. Then, his eye caught
sight of the revolver, which Jimmy had placed on the table. With a
sudden dash, he seized it.

"Now, den, boss!" he said, between his teeth.

Jimmy extended his hand, and unclasped it. Six shells lay in the

"Why worry?" he said. "Sit down and let us talk of life."

"It's a fair cop, boss," said the man, resignedly.

"Away with melancholy," said Jimmy. "I'm not going to call the
police. You can beat it whenever you like."

The man stared.

"I mean it," said Jimmy. "What's the trouble? I've no grievance. I
wish, though, if you haven't any important engagement, you would
stop and talk awhile first."

A broad grin spread itself across the other's face. There was
something singularly engaging about him when he grinned.

"Gee! If youse ain't goin' to call de cops, I'll talk till de
chickens roost ag'in."

"Talking, however," said Jimmy, "is dry work. Are you by any chance
on the wagon?"

"What's dat? Me? On your way, boss!"

"Then, you'll find a pretty decent whiskey in that decanter. Help
yourself. I think you'll like it."

A musical gurgling, followed by a contented sigh, showed that the
statement had been tested and proved correct.

"Cigar?" asked Jimmy.

"Me fer dat," assented his visitor.

"Take a handful."

"I eats dem alive," said the marauder jovially, gathering in the

Jimmy crossed his legs.

"By the way," he said, "let there be no secrets between us. What's
your name? Mine is Pitt. James Willoughby Pitt."

"Mullins is my monaker, boss. Spike, dey calls me."

"And you make a living at this sort of thing?"

"Not so woise."

"How did you get in here?"

Spike Mullins grinned.

"Gee! Ain't de window open?"

"If it hadn't been?"

"I'd a' busted it."

Jimmy eyed the fellow fixedly.

"Can you use an oxy-acetylene blow-pipe?" he demanded.

Spike was on the point of drinking. He lowered his glass, and gaped.

"What's dat?" he said.

"An oxy-acetylene blow-pipe."

"Search me," said Spike, blankly. "Dat gets past me."

Jimmy's manner grew more severe.

"Can you make soup?"

"Soup, boss?"

"He doesn't know what soup is," said Jimmy, despairingly. "My good
man, I'm afraid you have missed your vocation. You have no business
to be trying to burgle. You don't know the first thing about the

Spike was regarding the speaker with disquiet over his glass. Till
now, the red-haired one had been very well satisfied with his
methods, but criticism was beginning to sap his nerve. He had heard
tales of masters of his craft who made use of fearsome implements
such as Jimmy had mentioned; burglars who had an airy
acquaintanceship, bordering on insolent familiarity, with the
marvels of science; men to whom the latest inventions were as
familiar as his own jemmy was to himself. Could this be one of that
select band? His host began to take on a new aspect in his eyes.

"Spike," said Jimmy.


"Have you a thorough knowledge of chemistry, physics--"

"On your way, boss!"


"Search me!"

"--electricity and microscopy?"

"... Nine, ten. Dat's de finish. I'm down an' out."

Jimmy shook his head, sadly.

"Give up burglary," he said. "It's not in your line. Better try

Spike twiddled his glass, abashed.

"Now, I," said Jimmy airily, "am thinking of breaking into a house

"Gee!" exclaimed Spike, his suspicions confirmed at last. "I t'ought
youse was in de game, boss. Sure, you're de guy dat's onto all de
curves. I t'ought so all along."

"I should like to hear," said Jimmy amusedly, as one who draws out
an intelligent child, "how you would set about burgling one of those
up-town villas. My own work has been on a somewhat larger scale and
on the other side of the Atlantic."

"De odder side?"

"I have done as much in London, as anywhere else," said Jimmy. "A
great town, London, full of opportunities for the fine worker. Did
you hear of the cracking of the New Asiatic Bank in Lombard Street?"

"No, boss," whispered Spike. "Was dat you?"

Jimmy laughed.

"The police would like an answer to the same question," he said,
self-consciously. "Perhaps, you heard nothing of the disappearance
of the Duchess of Havant's diamonds?"


"The thief," said Jimmy, flicking a speck of dust from his coat
sleeve, "was discovered to have used an oxy-acetylene blow-pipe."

The rapturous intake of Spike's breath was the only sound that broke
the silence. Through the smoke, his eyes could be seen slowly

"But about this villa," said Jimmy. "I am always interested even in
the humblest sides of the profession. Now, tell me, supposing you
were going to break into a villa, what time of night would you do

"I always t'inks it's best either late like dis or when de folks is
in at supper," said Spike, respectfully.

Jimmy smiled a faint, patronizing smile, and nodded.

"Well, and what would you do?"

"I'd rubber around some to see isn't dere a window open somewheres,"
said Spike, diffidently.

"And if there wasn't?"

"I'd climb up de porch an' into one of de bedrooms," said Spike,
almost blushing. He felt like a boy reading his first attempts at
original poetry to an established critic. What would this master
cracksman, this polished wielder of the oxy-acetylene blow-pipe,
this expert in toxicology, microscopy and physics think of his
callow outpourings!

"How would you get into the bedroom?"

Spike hung his head.

"Bust de catch wit' me jemmy," he whispered, shamefacedly.

"Burst the catch with your jemmy?"

"It's de only way I ever learned," pleaded Spike.

The expert was silent. He seemed to be thinking. The other watched
his face, humbly.

"How would youse do it, boss?" he ventured timidly, at last.


"How would youse do it?"

"Why, I'm not sure," said the master, graciously, "whether your way
might not do in a case like that. It's crude, of course, but with a
few changes it would do."

"Gee, boss! Is dat right?" queried the astonished disciple.

"It would do," said the master, frowning thoughtfully; "it would do
quite well--quite well!"

Spike drew a deep breath of joy and astonishment. That his methods
should meet with approval from such a mind...!

"Gee!" he whispered--as who would say, "I and Napoleon."



Cold reason may disapprove of wagers, but without a doubt there is
something joyous and lovable in the type of mind that rushes at the
least provocation into the making of them, something smacking of the
spacious days of the Regency. Nowadays, the spirit seems to have
deserted England. When Mr. Asquith became Premier of Great Britain,
no earnest forms were to be observed rolling peanuts along the
Strand with a toothpick. When Mr. Asquith is dethroned, it is
improbable that any Briton will allow his beard to remain unshaved
until the Liberal party returns to office. It is in the United
States that the wager has found a home. It is characteristic of some
minds to dash into a wager with the fearlessness of a soldier in a
forlorn hope, and, once in, to regard it almost as a sacred trust.
Some men never grow up out of the schoolboy spirit of "daring."

To this class Jimmy Pitt belonged. He was of the same type as the
man in the comic opera who proposed to the lady because somebody bet
him he wouldn't. There had never been a time when a challenge, a
"dare," had not acted as a spur to him. In his newspaper days, life
had been one long series of challenges. They had been the essence of
the business. A story had not been worth getting unless the getting
were difficult.

With the conclusion of his newspaper life came a certain flatness
into the scheme of things. There were times, many times, when Jimmy
was bored. He hungered for excitement, and life appeared to have so
little to offer! The path of the rich man was so smooth, and it
seemed to lead nowhere! This task of burgling a house was like an
unexpected treat to a child. With an intensity of purpose that
should have touched his sense of humor, but, as a matter of fact,
did not appeal to him as ludicrous in any way, he addressed himself
to the work. The truth was that Jimmy was one of those men who are
charged to the, brim with force. Somehow, the force had to find an
outlet. If he had undertaken to collect birds' eggs, he would have
set about it with the same tense energy.

Spike was sitting on the edge of his chair, dazed but happy, his
head still buzzing from the unhoped-for praise. Jimmy looked at his
watch. It was nearly three o'clock. A sudden idea struck him. The
gods had provided gifts: why not take them?



"Would you care to come and crack a crib with me, now?"

Reverential awe was written on the red-haired one's face.

"Gee, boss!"

"Would you?"

"Surest t'ing you know, boss."

"Or, rather," proceeded Jimmy, "would you care to crack a crib while
I came along with you? Strictly speaking, I am here on a vacation,
but a trifle like this isn't real work. It's this way," he
explained. "I've taken a fancy to you, Spike, and I don't like to
see you wasting your time on coarse work. You have the root of the
matter in you, and with a little coaching I could put a polish on
you. I wouldn't do this for everyone, but I hate to see a man
bungling who might do better! I want to see you at work. Come right
along, and we'll go up-town, and you shall start in. Don't get
nervous. Just work as you would if I were not there. I shall not
expect too much. Rome was not built in a day. When we are through, I
will criticize a few of your mistakes. How does that suit you?"

"Gee, boss! Great! An' I know where dere's a peach of a place, boss.
Regular soft proposition. A friend of mine told me. It's--"

"Very well, then. One moment, though."

He went to the telephone. Before he had left New York on his
travels, Arthur Mifflin had been living at a hotel near Washington
Square. It was probable that he was still there. He called up the
number. The night-clerk was an old acquaintance of his.

"Hello, Dixon," said Jimmy, "is that you? I'm Pitt--Pitt! Yes, I'm
back. How did you guess? Yes, very pleasant. Has Mr. Mifflin come in
yet? Gone to bed? Never mind, call him up, will you? Good."
Presently, the sleepy and outraged voice of Mr. Mifflin spoke at the
other end of the line.

"What's wrong? Who the devil's that?"

"My dear Arthur! Where you pick up such expressions I can't think--
not from me."

"Is that you, Jimmy? What in the name of--!"

"Heavens! What are you kicking about? The night's yet young. Arthur,
touching that little arrangement we made--cracking that crib, you
know. Are you listening? Have you any objection to my taking an
assistant along with me? I don't want to do anything contrary to our
agreement, but there's a young fellow here who's anxious that I
should let him come along and pick up a few hints. He's a
professional all right. Not in our class, of course, but quite a
fair rough workman. He--Arthur! Arthur! These are harsh words! Then,
am I to understand you have no objection? Very well. Only, don't say
later on that I didn't play fair. Good-night."

He hung up the receiver, and turned to Spike.


"Ain't youse goin' to put on your gum-shoes, boss?"

Jimmy frowned reflectively, as if there was something in what this
novice suggested. He went into the bedroom, and returned wearing a
pair of thin patent-leather shoes.

Spike coughed tentatively.

"Won't youse need your gun?" he hazarded. Jimmy gave a short laugh.

"I work with brains, not guns," he said. "Let us be going."

There was a taxi-cab near by, as there always is in New York. Jimmy
pushed Spike in, and they drove off. To Jimmy, New York stopped
somewhere about Seventy-Second Street. Anything beyond that was
getting on for the Middle West, and seemed admirably suited as a
field for the cracksman. He had a vague idea of up-town as a remote,
desolate district, badly lighted--if lighted at all--and sparsely
dotted with sleepy policemen.

The luxury of riding in a taxi-cab kept Spike dumb for several
miles. Having arrived at what seemed a sufficiently remote part of
America, Jimmy paid the driver, who took the money with that
magnificently aloof air which characterizes the taxi-chauffeur. A
lesser man might have displayed some curiosity about the ill-matched
pair. The chauffeur, having lighted a cigarette, drove off without
any display of interest whatsoever. It might have been part of
his ordinary duties to drive gentlemen in evening clothes and shock-
headed youths in parti-colored sweaters about the city at three
o'clock in the morning.

"We will now," said Jimmy, "stroll on and prospect. It is up to you,
Spike. Didn't you say something about knowing a suitable house
somewhere? Are we anywhere near it?"

Spike looked at the number of the street.

"We got some way to go, boss," he said. "I wisht youse hadn't sent
away de cab."

"Did you think we were going to drive up to the door? Pull yourself
together, my dear man."

They walked on, striking eastward out of Broadway. It caused Jimmy
some surprise to find that the much-enduring thoroughfare extended
as far as this. It had never occurred to him before to ascertain
what Broadway did with itself beyond Times Square.

It was darker now that they had moved from the center of things, but
it was still far too light for Jimmy's tastes. He was content,
however, to leave matters entirely to his companion. Spike probably
had his methods for evading publicity on these occasions.

Spike plodded on. Block after block he passed, until finally the
houses began to be more scattered.

At last, he halted before a fair-sized detached house.

"Dis is de place," he said. "A friend of mine tells me of it. I
didn't know he was me friend, dough, before he puts me wise about
dis joint. I t'ought he'd got it in fer me 'cos of last week when I
scrapped wit' him about somet'in'. I t'ought after that he was
layin' fer me, but de next time he seen me he put me wise to dis

"Coals of fire," said Jimmy. "He was of a forgiving disposition." A
single rain-drop descended on the nape of his neck. In another
moment, a smart shower had begun.

"This matter has passed out of our hands," said Jimmy. "We must
break in, if only to get shelter. Get busy, my lad."

There was a handy window only a few feet from the ground. Spike
pulled from his pocket a small bottle.

"What's that?" inquired Jimmy.

"Molasses, boss," said Spike, deferentially.

He poured the contents of the bottle on a piece of paper, which he
pressed firmly against the window-pane. Then, drawing out a short
steel instrument, he gave the paper a sharp tap. The glass broke
almost inaudibly. The paper came away, leaving a gap in the pane.
Spike inserted his hand, shot back the catch, and softly pushed up
the window.

"Elementary," said Jimmy; "elementary, but quite neat."

There was now a shutter to be negotiated. This took longer, but in
the end Spike's persuasive methods prevailed.

Jimmy became quite cordial.

"You have been well-grounded, Spike," he said. "And, after all, that
is half the battle. The advice I give to every novice is, 'Learn to
walk before you try to run.' Master the a, b, c, of the craft first.
With a little careful coaching, you will do. Just so. Pop in."

Spike climbed cautiously over the sill, followed by Jimmy. The
latter struck a match, and found the electric light switch. They
were in a parlor, furnished and decorated with surprising taste.
Jimmy had expected the usual hideousness, but here everything from
the wall-paper to the smallest ornaments was wonderfully well

Business, however, was business. This was no time to stand admiring
artistic effects in room-furnishing. There was that big J to be
carved on the front door. If 'twere done, then 'twere well 'twere
done quickly.

He was just moving to the door, when from some distant part of the
house came the bark of a dog. Another joined in. The solo became a
duet. The air was filled with their clamor.

"Gee!" cried Spike.

The remark seemed more or less to sum up the situation.

"'Tis sweet," says Byron, "to hear the watch-dog's honest bark."
Jimmy and Spike found two watch-dogs' honest barks cloying. Spike
intimated this by making a feverish dash for the open window.
Unfortunately for the success of this maneuver, the floor of the
room was covered not with a carpet but with tastefully scattered
rugs, and underneath these rugs it was very highly polished. Spike,
treading on one of these islands, was instantly undone. No power of
will or muscle can save a man in such a case. Spike skidded. His
feet flew from under him. There was a momentary flash of red head,
as of a passing meteor. The next moment, he had fallen on his back
with a thud that shook the house. Even in the crisis, the thought
flashed across Jimmy's mind that this was not Spike's lucky night.

Upstairs, the efforts of the canine choir had begun to resemble the
"A che la morte" duet in "Il Trovatore." Particularly good work was
being done by the baritone dog.

Spike sat up, groaning. Equipped though he was by nature with a
skull of the purest and most solid ivory, the fall had disconcerted
him. His eyes, like those of Shakespeare's poet, rolling in a fine
frenzy, did glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven. He
passed his fingers tenderly through his vermilion hair.

Heavy footsteps were descending the stairs. In the distance, the
soprano dog had reached A in alt., and was holding it, while his
fellow artiste executed runs in the lower register.

"Get up!" hissed Jimmy. "There's somebody coming! Get up, you idiot,
can't you!"

It was characteristic of Jimmy that it never even occurred to him to
desert the fallen one, and depart alone. Spike was his brother-in-
arms. He would as soon have thought of deserting him as a sea-
captain would of abandoning the ship.

Consequently, as Spike, despite all exhortations, continued to
remain on the floor, rubbing his head and uttering "Gee!" at
intervals in a melancholy voice, Jimmy resigned himself to fate, and
stood where he was, waiting for the door to open.

It opened the next moment as if a cyclone had been behind it.



A cyclone, entering a room, is apt to alter the position of things.
This cyclone shifted a footstool, a small chair, a rug, and Spike.
The chair, struck by a massive boot, whirled against the wall. The
foot-stool rolled away. The rug crumpled up and slid. Spike, with a
yell, leaped to his feet, slipped again, fell, and finally
compromised on an all-fours position, in which attitude he remained,

While these stirring acts were in progress, there was the sound of a
door opening upstairs, followed by a scuttering of feet and an
appalling increase in the canine contribution to the current noises.
The duet had now taken on quite a Wagnerian effect.

There raced into the room first a white bull-terrier, he of the
soprano voice, and--a bad second--his fellow artiste, the baritone,
a massive bull-dog, bearing a striking resemblance to the big man
with the big lower jaw whose entrance had started the cyclone.

And, then, in theatrical parlance, the entire company "held the
picture." Up-stage, with his hand still on the door, stood the man
with the jaw; downstage, Jimmy; center, Spike and the bull-dog,
their noses a couple of inches apart, inspected each other with
mutual disfavor. On the extreme O. P. side, the bull-terrier, who
had fallen foul of a wicker-work table, was crouching with extended
tongue and rolling eyes, waiting for the next move.

The householder looked at Jimmy. Jimmy looked at the householder.
Spike and the bull-dog looked at each other. The bull-terrier
distributed his gaze impartially around the company.

"A typical scene of quiet American home-life," murmured Jimmy.

The householder glowered.

"Hands up, you devils!" he roared, pointing a mammoth revolver.

The two marauders humored his whim.

"Let me explain," said Jimmy pacifically, shuffling warily around in
order to face the bull-terrier, who was now strolling in his
direction with an ill-assumed carelessness.

"Keep still, you blackguard!"

Jimmy kept still. The bull-terrier, with the same abstracted air,
was beginning a casual inspection of his right trouser-leg.

Relations between Spike and the bull-dog, meanwhile, had become more
strained. The sudden flinging up of the former's arms had had the
worst effects on the animal's nerves. Spike, the croucher on all-
fours, he might have tolerated; but Spike, the semaphore, inspired
him with thoughts of battle. He was growling in a moody, reflective
manner. His eye was full of purpose.

It was probably this that caused Spike to look at the householder.
Till then, he had been too busy to shift his gaze, but now the bull-
dog's eye had become so unpleasing that he cast a pathetic glance up
at the man by the door.

"Gee!" he cried. "It's de boss. Say, boss, call off de dawg. It's
sure goin' to nip de hull head off'n me."

The other lowered the revolver in surprise.

"So, it's you, you limb of Satan!" he remarked. "I thought I had
seen that damned red head of yours before. What are you doing in my

Spike uttered a howl in which indignation and self-pity were nicely

"I'll lay for that Swede!" he cried. "I'll soak it to him good!
Boss, I've had a raw deal. On de level, I has. Dey's a feller I
know, a fat Swede--Ole Larsen his monaker is--an' dis feller an' me
started in scrapping last week, an' I puts it all over him, so he
had it in for me. But he comes up to me, like as if he's meanin' to
be good, an' he says he's got a soft proposition fer me if I'll give
him half. So, I says all right, where is it? An' he gives me de
number of dis house, an' says dis is where a widder-lady lives all
alone, an' has got silver mugs and t'ings to boin, an' dat she's
away down Sout', so dere ain't nobody in de house. Gee! I'll soak it
to dat Swede! It was a raw deal, boss. He was just hopin' to put me
in bad wit' you. Dat's how it was, boss. Honest!"

The big man listened to this sad story of Grecian gifts in silence.
Not so the bull-dog, which growled from start to finish.

Spike eyed it uneasily.

"Won't you call off de dawg, boss?" he said.

The other stooped, and grasped the animal's collar, jerking him

"The same treatment," suggested Jimmy with approval, "would also do
a world of good to this playful and affectionate animal--unless he
is a vegetarian. In which case, don't bother."

The big man glowered at him.

"Who are you?" he demanded.

"My name," began Jimmy, "is--"

"Say," said Spike, "he's a champion burglar, boss--"

The householder shut the door.

"Eh?" he said.

"He's a champion burglar from de odder side. He sure is. From
Lunnon. Gee, he's de guy! Tell him about de bank you opened, an' de
jools you swiped from de duchess, an' de what-d'ye-call-it blow-

It seemed to Jimmy that Spike was showing a certain want of tact.
When you are discovered by a householder--with revolver--in his
parlor at half-past three in the morning, it is surely an
injudicious move to lay stress on your proficiency as a burglar. The
householder may be supposed to take that for granted. The side of
your character that should be advertised in such a crisis is the
non-burglarious. Allusion should be made to the fact that, as a
child, you attended Sunday school regularly, and to what the
minister said when you took the divinity prize. The idea should be
conveyed to the householder's mind that, if let off with a caution,
your innate goodness of heart will lead you to reform and to avoid
such scenes in future.

With some astonishment, therefore, Jimmy found that these
revelations, so far from prejudicing the man with the revolver
against him, had apparently told in his favor. The man behind the
gun was regarding him rather with interest than disapproval.

"So, you're a crook from London, are you?"

Jimmy did not hesitate. If being a crook from London was a passport
into citizens' parlors in the small hours, and, more particularly,
if it carried with it also a safe-conduct out of them, Jimmy was not
the man to refuse the role. He bowed.

"Well, you'll have to come across, now you're in New York.
Understand that! And come across good."

"Sure, he will," said Spike, charmed that the tension had been
relieved, and matters placed upon a pleasant and business-like
footing. "He'll be good. He's next to de game, sure."

"Sure," echoed Jimmy, courteously. He did not understand; but things
seemed to be taking a turn for the better, so why disturb the

"Dis gent," said Spike respectfully, "is boss of de cops. A police-
captain," he corrected himself.

A light broke upon Jimmy's darkness. He wondered he had not
understood before. He had not been a newspaper-man in New York for a
year without finding out something of the inner workings of the
police force. He saw now why the other's manner had changed.

"Pleased to meet you," he said. "We must have a talk together one of
these days."

"We must," said the police-captain, significantly. He was rich,
richer than he had ever hoped to be; but he was still on Tom
Tiddler's ground, and meant to make the most of it.

"Of course, I don't know your methods on this side, but anything
that's usual--"

"I'll see you at my office. Spike Mullins will show you where it

"Very well. You must forgive this preliminary informal call. We came
in more to shelter from the rain than anything."

"You did, did you?"

Jimmy felt that it behooved him to stand on his dignity. The
situation demanded it.

"Why," he said with some hauteur, "in the ordinary course of
business I should hardly waste time over a small crib like--"

"It's banks fer his," murmured Spike, rapturously. "He eats dem
alive. An' jools from duchesses."

"I admit a partiality for jewels and duchesses," said Jimmy. "And,
now, as it's a little late, perhaps we had better--Ready, Spike?
Good-night, then. Pleased to have met you."

"I'll see you at my office."

"I may possibly look in. I shall be doing very little work in New
York, I fancy. I am here merely on a vacation."

"If you do any work at all," said the policeman coldly, "you'll look
in at my office, or you'll wish you had when it's too late."

"Of course, of course. I shouldn't dream of omitting any formality
that may be usual. But I don't fancy I shall break my vacation. By
the way, one little thing. Have you. any objections to my carving a
J on your front-door?"

The policeman stared.

"On the inside. It won't show. It's just a whim of mine. If you have
no objection?"

"I don't want any of your--" began the policeman.

"You misunderstand me. It's only that it means paying for a dinner.
I wouldn't for the world--"

The policeman pointed to the window.

"Out you get," he said, abruptly. "I've had enough of you. And don't
you forget to come to my office."

Spike, still deeply mistrustful of the bull-dog Rastus, jumped at
the invitation. He was through the window and out of sight in the
friendly darkness almost before the policeman had finished speaking.
Jimmy remained.

"I shall be delighted--" he had begun. Then, he stopped. In the
doorway was standing a girl--a girl whom he recognized. Her startled
look told him that she, too, had recognized him.

Not for the first time since he had set out from his flat that night
in Spike's company, Jimmy was conscious of a sense of the unreality
of things. It was all so exactly as it would have happened in a
dream! He had gone to sleep thinking of this girl, and here she was.
But a glance at the man with the revolver brought him back to earth.
There was nothing of the dream-world about the police-captain.

That gentleman, whose back was toward the door, had not observed the
addition to the company. Molly had turned the handle quietly, and
her slippered feet made no sound. It was the amazed expression on
Jimmy's face that caused the captain to look toward the door.


The girl smiled, though her face was white. Jimmy's evening clothes
had reassured her. She did not understand how he came to be there,
but evidently there was nothing wrong. She had interrupted a
conversation, not a conflict.

"I heard the noise and you going downstairs, and I sent the dogs
down to help you, father," she said. "And, then, after a little, I
came down to see if you were all right."

Mr. McEachern was perplexed. Molly's arrival had put him in an
awkward position. To denounce the visitor as a cracksman was now
impossible, for he knew too much. The only real fear of the
policeman's life was lest some word of his money-making methods
might come to his daughter's ears.

Quite a brilliant idea came to him.

"A man broke in, my dear," he said. "This gentleman was passing, and
saw him."

"Distinctly," said Jimmy. "An ugly-looking customer!"

"But he slipped out of the window, and got away," concluded the

"He was very quick," said Jimmy. "I think he may have been a
professional acrobat."

"He didn't hurt you, father?"

"No, no, my dear."

"Perhaps I frightened him," said Jimmy, airily.

Mr. McEachern scowled furtively at him.

"We mustn't detain you, Mr.-"

"Pitt," said Jimmy. "My name is Pitt." He turned to Molly. "I hope
you enjoyed the voyage."

The policeman started.

"You know my daughter?"

"By sight only, I'm afraid. We were fellow-passengers on the
Lusitania. Unfortunately, I was in the second-cabin. I used to see
your daughter walking the deck sometimes."

Molly smiled.

"I remember seeing you--sometimes."

McEachern burst out.

"Then, you--!"

He stopped, and looked at Molly. The girl was bending over Rastus,
tickling him under the ear.

"Let me show you the way out, Mr. Pitt," said the policeman,
shortly. His manner was abrupt, but when one is speaking to a man
whom one would dearly love to throw out of the window, abruptness is

Book of the day: