Part 2 out of 6
"Then," cheerfully answered the dealer, "the lady will make a grand
concert tour, adequately supported. It is for that contingency
she is studying English ballads and the language."
Clayton suddenly remembered the unromantic address of 192 Layte
Street, Brooklyn. "Fräulein Gluyas resides in Brooklyn?" he said,
with a fine air of carelessness.
Lilienthal's eyes swept obliquely the young man's distrustful face.
"Fräulein Gluyas ordered the picture sent to the rooms of her
music master, 192 Layte Street, Brooklyn. Poor old Raffoni was once
a world-wide star, a velvet tenor. Now he is literally a voice maker,
a master of technique for Maurice Grau. The Hungarian nightingale
studies there, and only takes her hall practice here in the off
season, in Chickering's empty salon. There is a jealous professional
mystery in this secrecy. The summer is the opera's off season,
just as the winter is the same for the great circus and travelling
shows. The hardest work is thus veiled from the public. The impresario
is always a wily individual."
"And the lady's real residence?" impatiently queried the budding
lover. "That is an absolute secret, for Grau carefully hides away
his coming stars. Somewhere on Long Island an old Hungarian noble
family have had a retreat since the days of Kossuth.
"The Fräulein is their guest, and, for other reasons than complete
faith with Grau, she receives no one. She is as proud and haughty as
she is beautiful, and rumor has it that the pursuit of an Austrian
Archduke drove her to the safety of our shores. All this I have
gathered from my old friend, Signore Raffoni."
Clayton mutely followed Lilienthal to the door of a private room
in the "Bavaria" and, with a wildly beating heart, was bowing low
before the woman whose shining eyes had brought to his bosom such
"It is like a page from a novel," the flute-like voice murmured,
"that this lucky picture should have brought us together again, as
it strangely did once face to face."
Randall Clayton's ears drank in that soft, wooing accent, and all
the ardor of his eyes betrayed the instant recognition which lay
behind the diva's merry words.
When he had murmured his thanks, the presence of Lilienthal seemed
to be a bar to any rapprochement. Clayton was fain to accept Fräulein
Gluyas' courtesy in allowing him a choice as to the handling of
the picture or its replica.
"If Mademoiselle will allow me," said Clayton, "I will give Mr.
Lilienthal my cheque for the coming proof, and retain in my possession
the one framed in our American manner."
This was soon settled, and then, with a glance at his watch, the
dealer, bowing low, hurried away.
"We artists have to be unconventional," frankly said the Magyar
"I await Madame Raffoni here for a little tour of the wonderful
New York shops."
It was a natural passage from the picture to the memories of the
Danube, and then, under the kindling glances of the diva, Randall
Clayton talked, with spirit, of his happy summer ramblings through
Austria and Hungary.
Irma Gluyas' magnetic eyes burned into his soul as she followed
the young stranger in his itinerary. It was only when the maître
d'hôtel entered, announcing Madame Raffoni as in waiting in her
carriage, that Randall Clayton's castle in Spain came crashing down
The Magyar witch dropped her eyes when Clayton took her hands in
adieu. "You have made me forget time, and my workaday world," he
said. "I have now something to live for--to hear you sing! It seems
so hard to meet only to part. I may never see your coming picture;
you may never see mine again. But I cannot lose you from my life.
It seemed, Fräulein Irma," he said, earnestly, "when I first met
the glance of your dreaming eyes, that I had known you in some
"I receive no one; I am a recluse," murmured Irma, with eyes
smiling through down dropped lashes; "but, if you care, you may
come, a week from to-day, and breakfast with me here! Dear old
Raffoni will play propriety. As for the singing, I am pledged to
be mute, parôle d'honneur. But you must be in my first audience.
I must keep an artist's faith with my manager."
"I shall have the loge d'honneur at your début," enthusiastically
cried Clayton, as he lingered over her frankly extended hand after
murmuring his acceptance.
The woman who sat, with her head bowed upon her hands, listened to
his receding footsteps. "Il Regalantuomo," she murmured. "It is a
pity, too! What does Fritz want of him?"
Then gliding serpent-like from the darkened corridor, she joined
the waiting woman in the carriage below, a woman whose form was
but dimly defined beyond the half-lowered silken curtain of the
carriage as Randall Clayton sped along to his money mill.
Some indefinable impulse kept Clayton from speaking of his breakfast
engagement as he strode into the Newport Art Gallery. His cheque
for one hundred and twenty-five dollars was soon transferred to
Lilienthal in return for the coveted picture, which was dispatched
to the young man's lonely apartment.
"Not a bad turn," mused Adolf Lilienthal. "I raised him seventy-five
dollars! He paid like a prince, and, if I mistake not, this is his
first and last transaction here. The picture that he wanted is
burned into his heart now."
It was but one of a hundred similar intrigues to which Lilienthal
had been the successful Leporello, and he calmly betook himself to
the continued villainy of his daily life. He feared also to follow
on the footsteps of the crafty Fritz Braun, for in the years of
their illicit dealings the weaker nature had been molded by the
daring master villain into a habitual subjection. "He has some
little game of his own," chuckled Lilienthal. "Friend Fritz is a
But the man, now burning with a new purpose in life, the puppet of
strange destinies, dreamed only of a golden future as he lingered
late that night at the Astor House with Jack Witherspoon.
It was two o'clock before he returned to his lonely rooms to gloat
over the picture and its promise of the future meeting.
"I shall be rich," he mused, "and I will follow her to the end of
the earth until I read the secret of those wonderful eyes."
He little dreamed that even before he had paid Lilienthal the
cheque, a carriage had stopped for a moment before Magdal's Pharmacy,
and Mr. Fritz Braun had heard, with a wild delight, the whispered
words, "The game is won; he will come!" The busy devil prisoned in
Braun's heart laughed for very joy.
UNDER THE SHADOWS OF THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE.
When the "Fuerst Bismarck" moved grandly away from her wharf and
glided down the stream, Jack Witherspoon paced the deck with clouded
brows. The acute Detroit lawyer had rightly estimated the crushing
effect of his disclosure of Hugh Worthington's treachery.
The two college mates were now banded together, however, by a secret
compact, and both of them realized the craft of the foe whom they
were fighting. "Not a letter, not a cable, not a single scrap of
paper," said the wary Jack. "And you must keep away from me and be
sure to dissemble all your wrath."
Clayton appreciated the prudence which had separated them in
the last three days of his friend's stay, and minutely followed
Witherspoon's final descriptions of the hidden plans of the great
syndicate. "You must be ever on your guard," said the new champion,
"and remember the annual election and this strange wedding must be
allowed to take place without suspicion.
"On my return I shall frankly mingle with the 'upper ten' of the
Trust. You are never to be seen alone in my company. But you can
meet me over in Jersey City; there we can arrange a simple cipher
for future use, and, when the blow falls, you are then to demand
a month's leave of absence. So no word to any one of your destination.
"If Hugh Worthington lurks on the Pacific Coast until he has made
the coup, I will find him out there. You can be in hiding near,
ready to appear, and then boldly claim your rights. Arthur Ferris
will probably be back in New York City in charge, and Worthington
will yield rather than have the world, his beloved daughter, and
all society know of his inward baseness. I shall delve further
into the old records, under pretense of following up the title to
our purchase. Perhaps we may even now unearth other unconveyed
Randall Clayton, brave as he was, shuddered when Witherspoon solemnly
said: "Remember! Your life is in your own hands. For God's sake,
be prudent! One little self-betrayal in sudden anger, and then
either Worthington or Ferris would surely compass your death for
this tempting million. You will fight for your birthright, and I
for the future happiness of darling Francine Delacroix."
When they wrung each other's hands in the last good-bye, "each
heart recalled a different name."
For, burning on the altars of that lonely heart of Clayton's
was the fierce fire which bound him now as the worshipper of the
velvet-voiced Magyar witch. He, too, had some one to fight for
now, and his ardent fancy painted her in every glowing color of
the passion of young manhood.
Left alone to his daily affairs, Randall Clayton now lived behind
an impenetrable mask. He knew not which of the higher employees
was charged with that secret espionage so necessary to the final
success of the Worthington, Durham and Ferris conspiracy.
Was it the pale-faced Somers, the smooth old accountant, his
pompous chief, Mr. Robert Wade, or some one of those who had broken
his bread and drank his wine in the occasional friendship of the
business coterie. And now Clayton hated the old money-lover who was
foisting a husband on his only child merely to chain a Senator to
the wheels of the money chariot.
Seated alone, in the evening, watching the treasured picture, and
waiting for the day of the diva's breakfast, a fierce desire for
stern reprisals took possession of Clayton. "I have it!" he murmured.
The pathway seemed clear at last. And the next day, following out
his self-protective scheme, he directed the bright-faced office
boy Einstein to report at his rooms on the ensuing evening.
There was a broad grin on the young rascal's face when he finally
left his master. He darted away with a ten-dollar bill in his purse,
the earnest of a secret monthly stipend. "Some strange fellows
are following me, spying upon me, my boy," said the man who now
doubted all men but one, on earth, and who was fast falling under
the spell of his dreamy adoration of an utterly unknown siren.
"It matters not who they are or what they want. I wish you to
follow me up, with a good deal of care, in my evening wanderings,
and shadow these spotters.
"There is a new hundred-dollar bill ready for you when you find
who they are, and where they come from, and who they report to.
You can keep hovering around at a safe distance, and never address
or notice me. Spend what money you like in following my evening
rounds. I'll repay it all. I am going to lead them a merry dance.
Every day, before I leave the office, I will give you a different
rendezvous, up to midnight. You are simply to hover around, ignore
me, and then skilfully shadow my pursuers."
The service of the Western Trading Company now galled Randall
Clayton like the galley slave's chain. And yet Jack Witherspoon's
counsel had been most wise. For Clayton knew not who had replaced
the treacherous Ferris in that secret espionage, so necessary to
Worthington until the great "deal" had been consummated.
"Lies, lies, all lies," muttered Clayton, as he read the friendly,
almost fatherly, letters of Hugh Worthington announcing his intended
tour around the world. "The old fox," sneered Clayton, as he read
the "rider" to the capitalist's letter.
"Ferris will have my power of attorney, and he alone will communicate
with me. If Alice's health demands it, I may vary my route and look
around in the Sierras, or take the summer run to Alaska. I fear
the heat of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. But all will depend
upon the doctors and their advice.
"Report only to Ferris as to any thing you wish to reach me. He
will have my private cipher. All the rest is mere routine."
But the words of the old money-grabber angered Clayton less than
Ferris' effusive friendly epistles from Detroit.
"I can excuse Worthington," growled Clayton, as he paced his private
room like a caged tiger. "He has his old crime to cover up, his
only daughter to shield, his vast plans to further. I am only a poor
pawn in his fevered game of life; but Ferris, 'mine own familiar
friend,' he is a traitor, a needless traitor, to his black heart's
"For it is the sale of a soul, his dirty traffic in my heart's
secrets, a Benedict Arnold of the heart, for mere dirty gain. And
his cold ensnaring of this innocent girl is an outrage; it is a
crime to make her the hostage of Senator Durham's corrupt friendship."
And yet, mindful of Jack Witherspoon's counsel, he took up the
trade of an honest Iago, and hid his raging hatred behind the mask
of an olden gratitude to the one, a loyal friendship to the other.
The searchlight of his mind was turned only on the Western conspirators,
and he feared no villainy in the world save the Detroit schemer who
had robbed him of his birthright. "By Heavens! I'll give up trade,
the service of this greedy octopus. I will go abroad and so escape
Worthington's vengeance, and Ferris' duplicity."
He began to secretly watch every one of the leading New York officials
of the company in order to detect Ferris' successor in the hidden
watch upon his movements.
It was with a secret longing for the coming Monday of the breakfast
that Clayton passed Lilienthal's window, three days after Jack's
sailing, in company with the grave-featured Robert Wade. His runaway
heart was all unsuspicious now.
Thank Heaven! There was no longer the graceful woman lingering there
fascinated by the picture whose sunset glories lit up in gold and
purple the lonely man's rooms. But the suave dealer, waiting at
his door, salaamed with effusion as the manager passed. His salute
distantly included Clayton, and the action was not lost upon Robert
"Do you know Lilienthal?" somewhat sharply asked Wade.
"Not at all," carelessly answered the younger man. "I happened
to drop in and buy a bit of a landscape from him the other day. He
mentioned when I gave him my cheque that you occasionally patronized
"He is a rare art connoisseur," musingly said Wade, "and I've picked
up a few pretty bits of etching now and then at his shop. You must
come up and see my collection some day."
Clayton, busied with his day dreams, did not notice the sudden
paleness of the pompous manager. In his own ignorance of the mysteries
of the "private room" and its secret "facilities for patrons," he
never dreamed that the man at his side was "light of foot, fierce
at heart" as the tiger when he stole to the rendezvous arranged
by Lilienthal, who had indeed offered many "choice bits" to the
astute manager. Clayton had stumbled along in New York, blinded to
its dual existence, its gilded shams.
"I will never set foot in that place again," remarked Clayton, as
he strode alone down University Place to the bank. "Lilienthal must
never know of my further acquaintance with the Fräulein."
And so, each keeping his own secret hugged closely to an anxious
heart, the two men went along on their different paths, each drawn
along by the invisible threads of life--the one dragged on by a
sudden romantic, resistless passion, the other by the glowing links
of the iron chains of habit, the ruling appetite of a remorseless
lust. And yet both of them were only blinded fools of passion.
The dragging days until the trysting time for the breakfast were
filled up with business cares, but Randall Clayton had roamed
the streets of New York at night, restlessly, since Witherspoon's
sailing. In a feverish unrest, he had visited concert halls,
theaters, and searched the now deserted club-rooms for a familiar
A Sunday drive in the Park, and late excursions among the
kaleidoscopic crowds of midnight New York filled up his time until
he should again meet Irma Gluyas.
He had always turned away in disgust from the painted faces of the
leering sirens of the Tenderloin, and now he sat gloomily eying the
vacuous stare of the rabbit-faced stage beauties capering in their
mock diamonds. For a higher womanly ideal reigned in his lonely
Back, back to the speaking silence of his lonely rooms he wandered,
to gaze through the smoke wreaths upon that picture which had so
strangely brought Irma Gluyas into his life. Gloomily recalling
the past, he went over all the brief memories of his boyhood, and
tried to recall his stern father's few confidences, or picture to
himself the mother whom he had never known. All was a gray blank
of toiling days and carking cares. And Worthington had robbed him
and made him eat the bread of dependence.
He lived now only to wreak a vengeance upon the man who had shared
his father's early speculations and deserted him in his time of need.
The ruin of Everett Clayton was now explained. And but one gracious
memory lingered with him to lighten the gloom of his dependent
Golden-haired Alice Worthington, the child-angel of the house,
the frank girlish little playmate, the slim, shy school girl, the
"Little Sister" of his striving college days. And now she was
doomed to be the deluded prey of a vulgar money conspiracy--sold,
body and soul.
He groaned as he thought of the deliberate sacrifice of the girl's
glorious young womanhood to the vicious ambitions of her father's
mad race for wealth and power.
"Shall I warn her?" he bitterly mused. And then all his manhood
rose up against discovering a father's shame. "Never!" he cried. "I
have eaten his bread and salt. My quarrel is with him alone! Ferris
is to be the coming bridegroom. He is like all the rest--greedy of
money and power. He will surely make her a "good husband" of the
plutocratic code. Her money, his uncle's influence, bartered off
for each other, will tie them firmly together. She shall never know
from me. But I will fight Hugh Worthington a silent battle to the
death. It will be a life and death struggle under the Black Flag."
It was this oath which made Clayton resolve to now hide his own
private life slyly from all his colleagues. And it was a most
needful precaution. For one single imprudence would give to his
enemies the secret of his devotion to the dark-eyed woman whose
eyes seemed to shine through all the clouds around him.
And, strange to say, the watchful Einstein had as yet made
no report, though each night during the week Clayton had seen the
youth hovering afar, at varied times, and in strangely incongruous
changes of external adornment.
It was while Clayton was hastily packing up his bank deposits,
upon the Monday morning, which had at last arrived, young Einstein
glided into the room and drew Clayton to the door, left slightly
"There, quick," he whispered. "Those two fellows at the elevator,
now. They have just come out from reporting to old Wade. I was in the
office, waiting for Mr. Somers to give me the last mail deposits.
"Get out and follow them," whispered Clayton. "Come to my rooms
at eight to-night. Your hundred dollars await you." The agile
lad nodded and stole out, springing down the stairs to await the
"Now," growled Clayton, as he viciously snapped the lock of his
portmanteau. "I will hide my every movement from you, my marble-faced
old sleuth. You are the heir of Ferris' infamy."
And yet, as Clayton descended in the elevator, he realized that
he had no claim whatever upon Robert Wade's friendship. "He has
not betrayed me," murmured the now defiant cashier. "He is only the
human 'transmitter' in Hugh Worthington's 'long-distance telephone'
But, deep down in his angered heart, Clayton swore an oath to
lead them all a merry dance. "No man among them shall ever have my
confidence, and I will find a way to hide my every movement."
He would have made a total change of residence at once but for Jack
Witherspoon's friendly caution. And so he sadly dismissed a plan
to follow Irma Gluyas, to find out her real residence, and to be
near her in the hours which she could make a paradise.
He smiled as he thought of the magnificent corbeille of flowers
which he had already sent over to the Restaurant Bavaria to be
placed in the breakfast-room. He had stolen away for a quarter of
an hour to give his own directions to the grave-faced "Oberkellner,"
who was all discretion, as he pocketed Clayton's ten-dollar bill
and said, "I perfectly understand. Madame already ordered the
breakfast on Saturday. The same apartment. And you can trust to
me." The suave politeness of the well-greased palm.
There was a mild-eyed wonder in the eyes of the dashing attaches
of the Astor Place Bank as Randall Clayton entered on this fateful
Monday morning. For, with that unconscious desire to please of the
lover, Clayton's attire bespoke an unaccustomed elegance.
And yzt a discreet silence was observed as the sixty thousand
dollars was transferred, and the flying fingers of the lynx-eyed
clerks filled up the dozen drafts which Clayton impatiently awaited.
In his haste Clayton hailed a passing coupe, dashed away to
the office, and quickly snapping his door after delivering over
his trust, glided down the stairs. "To the Irving Place Theater,"
ordered the impatient lover, and then the minutes seemed hours till
he had paid off his man, and then, by Fourteenth Street, hastily
entered the darkened hallway of the Restaurant Bavaria.
He was but vaguely aware of the presence of Madame Raffoni, as he
bowed low before his hostess. The incognito diva was a dream of
beauty in her ravishing Viennese morning dress. Randall Clayton
drew a new courage from Fräulein Irma's murmured remark, "Madame
Raffoni, unfortunately, speaks no English," and the young enthusiast
only noted that the ex-professional still possessed splendid eyes,
and showed the remains of a considerable personal beauty.
His whole cares fell away from him as Clayton joined in the merry
mood of his beautiful enchantress. The little dejeuner was a perfect
rapprochement, in the light-hearted happiness of the hour.
Clayton had cast aside all suspicion when he left the doors of the
Western Trading Company, and over the Liebfrauenmilch and Tokayer
he found a new eloquence. His Western stories, his European
experiences vastly interested the dark-eyed enchantress, and, led
on by the spell of those wistful eyes--Othello-like--he told her
the whole story of his life. For he stood before her, all unarmed
in his sudden love fever.
Two hours sped by in a lingering day dream, until, yielding to
his murmured entreaties, Irma Gluyas sat down at the piano, and
in thrilling half voice, sang him the songs of the far off Magyar
As Merlin forgot his wisdom before the wily white-bosomed Vivien,
so did the stormy-hearted American yield to the charm of the woman
who sat there, with the choicest flowers of his offering clustered
over her sculptured breast. Love's old, old story of a total
And then, as the last melody died away, the Hungarian witch softly
sighed, "The shadows are already stealing in! We have stolen a few
happy moments, mon ami. Ships that meet, and speak, and pass. I
will not say Adieu! I will only say that I hope to meet you again.
But your world and mine are so different. I have my career to
make, and you must go on and be a money prince. There are no other
princes in your workaday America!" Madame Raffoni was nodding in
an alcove when the enraptured Randall Clayton caught the diva's
hand. For he could not bear to lose her now; his heart clamored
for her love.
His kisses warmed its veined marble as he whispered, "I must see
you again. We two are alone in the world. I owe you a return of
your gallant hospitality."
Her bosom was heaving in a tumult of vague emotion as she whispered,
"I am fenced off from the whole world. My career depends upon my
fidelity to those who trust me. I am absolutely incognito. I live
apart from the world, and I dare not take you to my home. There
is no way. The artist has no home life, no heart life. The world
claims us; all our youth, beauty, talent, even our last energies
are given up to the insatiate public.
"You must call me back when you look at our Danube picture, and,
when the ban is lifted, if I succeed, you will hear of me. If I
fail," she brokenly murmured, "then, forget me--think of me as only
one who, a stranger in a strange land, has shared Life's cup with
you, in a gleam of passing sunshine." There were bright tears
trembling upon her down-dropped lashes.
"And I shall have nothing of you! Not even a picture," hoarsely
murmured Clayton. "I will not be denied. I shall see you again. I
will follow you!"
He was startled by the ashen pallor of her face.
"You must not! You dare not!" she cried, in a sudden agitation. "It
would mean our eternal parting! For I will not have my plighted
honor forfeit. Promise me, if you ever hope to see me again, that
you will not follow me!"
There was the ring of truth in her words, and even the accent of
fear in her appeal.
Catching at a last straw, Clayton pleaded before the word of
dismissal should fall from her trembling lips.
"I must see you again," he begged. "I leave all to you, and I swear
to obey you in all things."
The beautiful woman bowed her head in her hands.
"See how I trust you," she brightly said, meeting his glance frankly
at last. "Be at the arch in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, next Sunday
"If you have a closed carriage we can drive an hour in the park.
If we must say farewell, we can say it then. For even when I met
you first, in that crowded street, I felt that in some strange
freemasonry of Life, we were to be friends."
A single frightened, warning gesture recalled him to his senses,
as Irma pointed to her nodding companion. "You do not know how
jealous artists are.
"One single imprudence would be my professional ruin; my career
would be blasted. Trust to me! Obey me; swear that you will not
follow me, and we shall meet again, for I would not lose you from
my life." He took the roses from her bosom and kissed them.
"Go, now," she whispered, "but only that we may meet again! I have
"Loyal to the death," swore Clayton, as he kissed her trembling
hands and then stole away, leaving her there alone with pallid lips
and a wildly beating heart.
Clayton had taken up the burden of his unfinished day's business
before the carriage left the "Bavaria," and swiftly traversing
Fourth Avenue, passed along to the Thirty-fourth Street ferry.
There was but one occupant, however, for Madame Raffoni had silently
disappeared before the diva, heavily veiled, entered the vehicle.
Clayton wondered at the protracted absence of his office boy,
ignorant that the young double spy was standing before the Restaurant
Bavaria watching Leah Einstein's furtive disappearance.
And neither the lad, astounded as his mother's unaccustomed finery,
nor the love-blinded Randall Clayton ever knew that "Madame Raffoni"
hastened to Magdal's Pharmacy to whisper to Mr. Fritz Braun tidings
which brought a surging swell of triumph into that arch plotter's
"Leah! You are a wonder, after all," was the comment of her old
lover. "Keep this whole matter quiet. Hoodwink them all! And that
pair of diamond ear-rings you dreamed of may fall your way at last!"
The poor cast-off woman swore a blind obedience to her lover once,
her tyrant still.
The adroit Timmins laughed in his heart when his employer, deliberately
closing his cabinet, left the shop an hour earlier than usual on
this particularly auspicious afternoon.
Fritz Braun's eyes gleamed viciously behind the blue glass screens
as he sedately boarded his car. "Things are coming my way at last,"
he said. "I must not hurry, I must make no mistake, and I must let
that Magyar devil fancy that she is playing this game herself, for
one false step would ruin all." And he vowed to deceive the daring
woman whom he feared to curb. "She shall work my will and not know
the finale in the third act."
The office doors of the Western Trading Company closing, one by
one, with a resounding clang, awoke Randall Clayton from day dreams
which he dared not break off.
The office boy had not returned when Clayton, now on guard against
every one in the employ of the Western robber baron, went out into
the crowds pressing homewards.
He had given up, in a mad impulse, the whole faith of his unspent
life to the woman who had whispered, "Go now, that we may meet
The thrilling accents of her voice, sweet and low, seemed to vibrate
in his soul, and so, hugging his darling secret to his heart, he
vowed to baffle Worthington's spies. "For her," he murmured, "I
will outwit them all."
No shade of suspicion rested upon the lovely image dwelling now on
the throne of his heart. For in the matchless beauty of her delicate
face he saw only the royal mint stamp of a noble soul. He had called
her to his side out of all New York's thronging thousands, by the
mute appeal of his lonely, longing eyes. It was Nature's mesmerism.
And as that grand hailing sign had been answered by Fate's decree,
he was blind to the pathway leading on. For, in his fond conceit,
he only knew Worthington and Ferris as enemies.
With a restless impatience, he awaited the coming of his office boy
after he had trifled the time away over his dinner at the Imperial.
Leaning back in his chair, he keenly watched the voluble lad, in a
growing wonder, as Einstein triumphantly recalled every detail of
his master's evening movements of the past week.
"I didn't get on to them well, sir," concluded Emil, "but the last
two nights one or the other of them has kept you in sight all the
"Daly's, the Imperial, Hammerstein's, the Waldorf, up where you
bought your outing goods, down to Proctor's, up the Boulevard to
the Colonial Club, they piped you off. You see I only got familiar
with them after a few nights. But now I have them dead to rights."
"And where did they go from there?" growled Clayton. "After they
reported to the old man," irreverently answered Einstein, "they
went together down to the Fidelity Company. I followed them in and
brought away a card. That's all, sir!"
Randall Clayton paced the floor in silence a few moments. Then,
taking out his pocketbook, he handed the eager youth a hundred-dollar
bill. "Keep this matter all to yourself, Emil," he gravely said.
"I will let you off now for a couple of weeks. Then I will take
you on again and will see if these 'spotters' are still on duty.
I will look out for you, and see you promoted."
When the boy had departed, Randall Clayton sank back in his chair.
"Whatever happens," he musingly decided, "I will never expose Irma
to the dangers of this espionage. They may have other agents by
day, who knows! And, if I wish to safely meet her, it must be over
His thought were wandering far away across the black, flowing tide
of the East River, where the Brooklyn Bridge was now traced in line
of living light against the darkness of night.
Over there, beyond the gloomy river warehouses, with their forests
of masts, across the swiftly rushing tide seeking the unknown sea,
the graceful Queen of his awakened heart was hidden from him. "I
shall find her out; nothing shall part us; she shall hear me yet;
she shall learn to look for my coming, and she shall open the gates
of her home to me. Her heart shall beat against my own."
For, in all the sweep of a lover's imagination, he only saw her,
at the end of the veiled pathway, with love lighting her softly
shining eyes, and her beloved hand waving him on.
While he still wandered in a Fool's Paradise, the crafty office boy
was hastening across the great span which hangs its curving arch
from Manhattan to Long Island.
Einstein was driven on by his gnawing greed of money. "Fritz must
know this at once," he muttered. These business detective fellows
are dangerous, and could easily break up his little game.
"For if Clayton gets into any trouble, out he goes! There's no
money in him then, and he's no good to Fritz Braun, no more to me.
This news ought to fetch me a couple of twenties if well played."
It was ten o'clock when Emil Einstein sprang down the stairway of
the eastern terminus of the Brooklyn Bridge. The lad was blithe at
heart as he turned to the left and, passing through the seething
press of the crowds congested under the electric lights of Sands
and Fulton Streets, carefully reconnoitered a gorgeous saloon on
the corner of Layte and Dale Streets.
Einstein peered in through the two swinging doors of the front,
and then betook himself to the side entrance on Dale Street, where
the "Family Entrance," the private corridor, and one or two halls
admitted him to the restaurant, card rooms and private rooms of the
ground floor of the five-story corner brick building. The youth
recoiled, after a peep through a ground glass door left ajar, at
the glories of the main hall of the famous "Valkyrie" saloon.
"What am I to do?" he mused, as he lit his cigarette in a dark
doorway outside, parrying the coarse advances of two fleeting Cyprians
with a retort which brought the blood to their cheeks, leaping up
under the plastered rouge. "I've been forbidden to call him out of
192; he and my mother are both now fooling the Duchess; I am playing
a double game with Clayton, and, by Hokey, old Wade's watchful men
may drop on to me. I may lose the best job in New York if these
people get all tangled up. What the devil is going on, anyway?"
He crossed the street and gazed up at the glaring red pressed-brick
walls of the Valkyrie corner. All the two score of windows on Dale
Street, and the score on Layte Street were closely guarded with
solid shutters of a green hue.
"God knows what deviltry is going on here," muttered the lad, a coward
at heart. There were fleeting figures of veiled women gliding past
him through the dim entrances, the refluent stream of the Devil's
Down the gloomy side street the blue gleam of the pitiless river
showed light against the somber night, the yellow blinking lights
of the tugs flitting about like corpse candles.
In the dark shadows of the involved angular corners, thug and ghoul
lurked until midnight should bring them their prey, the careless
roysterer, or the belated prosperous citizen. Out on Layte Street
the flashy throng was still pouring toward the Fulton Ferry.
"I wonder if I dare," mused the lad, as he walked around the corner
and paused before No. 192 Layte Street. The sober splendor of the
richly decorated old five-story brownstone told of the vanished
glories of the ante-bellum days.
A stately mansion in whose halls there had been royal cheer in the
departed days when Brooklyn had its proud burghers and New York its
simple citizens of worth. But the pressure of commerce, the havoc
of the bridge construction, the onrush of warehouse, shop, and the
pressure of the street railway octopus had left the sedate mansion
a relic of better days in an incongruous medley of little shops,
doubtful lodging-houses, vile man-traps, and clustering saloons.
Here the Juggernaut car of King Alcohol was rolling on remorselessly,
crushing out all life save the frenzied dream of the dipsomaniac.
But the lad paused and shook his head as he noted the windows of
the old English basement tightly barred. The parlor floor, bearing
the gilded sign, "Parisian Millinery Repository," was darkened, and,
above, the three upper floors presented only an array of undraped
windows solidly shut off by white-enamelled inside folding blinds.
The decorous-looking main entrance bore but one card, in script,
"Raffoni, Musical Director."
For years the neighborhood had forgotten its curiosity over the
foreign-looking men and women who passed the vigilant Cerberus at
the stately oaken door. No daring book-agent, no pedlar of indurated
cheek, no outside barbarian had ever crossed that guarded portal,
for a brass chain of impregnable strength prevented any intrusion,
and only a glimpse of the old tesselated marble floor rewarded the
It was "No Thoroughfare" to the multitude, and the quaint visitors
were either personally conducted or used latch-keys.
The over-fed policeman sucking his club in front of 192 Layte only
smiled in answer to vague inquiry, "Private house, belongs to old
family estate, people in Europe," and then with a leer would drop
into the "Valkyrie" for a fistful of good cigars and a flask of
the very best.
The timid young scoundrel lingering before 192 on this fresh,
starry night was the only "outsider" who knew what deadly master
mind controlled the mysteries of the "Valkyrie" saloon and 192
Layte Street, its sedate neighbor.
The particular use of the "fake" millinery repository, the hidden
life of the upper floors of the old mansion, were only known to
the man whom Emil Einstein feared to meet in anger.
But in the Devil's auction of the corner building, man, woman and
child were knocked down to the highest bidder, for the hell-minted
price of human souls.
Gambler, crook and thief; wanton, decoy and badger; racing tout,
fugitive, smuggler, and counterfeiter; lottery sharp and green-goods
man, all welcomed the white, red and blue lights gleaming over the
"Valkyrie" saloon as the harbor-lights of their safe port in any
"I have it," muttered Einstein, as he boldly threw open the swinging
half door of the "Valkyrie." Shading his eyes in the flood of
garish light, he gazed around at the twenty round tables. Six alert
barkeepers lurked in front of the superb mirrors behind the rich
walnut counters gleaming with crystal and silver.
The music of the Orchestrion bore away on its flood of Strauss
waltzes the shrill chatter of women's laughter in the inside hell
of the private rooms.
Opening doors admitted fragments of poker gabble as the white-aproned
waiters rushed around with their trays of drinks.
With artful geography of arrangement, gaudy women from the side
street, at tables, were parading their too evident charms before
the crowd of clerks, men about town, warrant officers, railroad
employees, old roués, sporting men and belated "slummers" who leered
at every arrival of "fresh fish."
Young Einstein, scribbling the single word "Emil" on a card, approached
the parchment-faced German lad who sat in state, manipulating the
bewildering keys of the "Cash Register."
"Send this to the boss at once," said Einstein in a low voice.
"You can't see him," contemptuously announced the insolent
Jack-in-office, tossing back the card. He scented a possible
successor in this vulpine-looking young stranger. But Einstein
resolutely came back to the charge. "It's his business, and he'll
jerk you out of your job if you throw me down. I will not stir a
step till I see him. Send it up."
And Emil made a significant gesture with a defiant thumb.
Audacity carried the day! Young Einstein, coolly purchasing
a Regalia and seating himself at a table, grinned a last defiance
as a "Kellner" finally touched his arm and led him into a vacant
Down a stairway came the sounding tread of a heavy man, and Einstein
was in the presence of Mr. Fritz Braun.
"It's about him, Clayton," faltered the boy, awed at his employer's
"Come with me," harshly said Braun, as he led the lad up to the
third floor. When they had entered a rear sleeping-room, Braun
locked the door. "Tell me all," he anxiously cried. "Out with it.
If you lie you'll never leave this house, remember!"
With chattering teeth, the lad delivered himself of his discovery.
It was only after half an hour of cross questioning that Braun was
satisfied with the details of Robert Wade's espionage of Randall
Clayton. "You've done well, for yourself," said Braun, at last,
handing the boy a roll of bills. "But never come here again. I'll
give you an address to-morrow where you can call, telephone or
telegraph, and a name. Post me on all. Keep this from your mother.
I'll handle her myself. Now, by day you can slip over to the store,
by night use the new address. Get home now. Go over the ferry."
He filled the boy's hand with loose silver. "I'll stay here. Speak
to no one. Get out quickly by the side door."
Emil Einstein was safely across the Fulton Ferry before he had
realized the startling change in Fritz Braun's appearance. The flowing
golden beard, the blue glasses, the padded clothes of middle-age
cut were gone. Fritz Braun, lithe, sharp-faced, with piercing eyes,
a dashing cavalry mustache, and dapper Wall Street tailoring, was
twenty years younger, and another man.
His diamond jewels, rakish air and "loose fish" manner bespoke the
flush book-maker or the flashy "boss."
"Here's for a night on the Bowery," gleefully cried Einstein,
counting his Judas gains, while he tried to forget Fritz Braun's
That dapper gentleman, stepping into a closet, passed swiftly
through the door from the Valkyrie into 192 Layte Street. His
hidden pool-room, gambling den and exchange for soul and body was
temporarily forgotten by "Mr. August Meyer," owner of the peerless
"I'll get a carriage and drive over to Irma," he growled. "She must
never cross the river again. We must lead him over here; but how?
Perhaps the pretty devil can help me. I must throw Wade off the
track. Irma can fool this young greenhorn. The job must be done
over there. For a fortune, for his life or mine; and he must be
teased along till the July holidays."
Then Mr. August Meyer of Brooklyn proceeded to leisurely array
himself as a clubman of fashion.
BREAKERS AHEAD! CHECKMATE! MR. ARTHUR FERRIS WORKS IN THE DARK.
Randall Clayton was an enigma in his altered personal bearing
to his old confrères when he entered the manager's office at his
summons on a balmy afternoon of the dying days of June.
The two months since Jack Witherspoon's departure had changed the
frank young fellow into a taciturn man of feline secretiveness. The
discovery of Worthington's treachery, the knowledge of the dogging
spies at his heels, had been a suddenly transforming influence. He
now ardently burned for the return of his one confidant, for the
annual election was but a few days distant.
The ripening summer was coming on fast. On Fifth Avenue the delicate,
haughty-faced young Princesses of Mammon now bore the June blush
roses in their slender pitiless hands. The annual hegira pleasureward
And as yet only Randall Clayton's burning eyes marked the conflict
raging in his soul. But he longed to leap into the open, and boldly
defy Worthington. For a new purpose had stolen upon him in these
weeks--the sudden desire for wealth.
He craved money for but one object--to cast it at the feet of
Irma Gluyas and then to bear her away from a world of lies to the
storied Danube, where woman's rosy lip rests in clinging transports
upon lips speaking the wild love of the gallant Magyar land. He
now knew the power of wealth. Clayton had become as secretive as
the young Pawnee on his first warpath. He was now watching the
enemy's camp and awaiting the moves of both the guilty employer
and false friend.
Through the still subsidized Einstein he knew that the bootless
espionage upon his leisure hours had been given up at last. He had
baffled his enemies.
It had not been done by fear of the clumsy artifices of Robert
Wade, but a desire born of his overmastering love for Irma, to
guard her every footstep. His heart melted in its memories of that
crowning hour of the avowal of his love, when she had whispered,
"I dare not take you to my home! Wait, Randall, wait, and trust
all to me."
Two months past had seen him plunging deeper into the mad love,
more blindly, every day, sinking into the hungry passion, waxing
into a fond delirium, under the artful orders of a veiled Mokanna.
"You must lead him on, far as you can; make him forget everything
in the world but yourself; promise him all, and grant him nothing."
A thousand plans had been revolved by Clayton for the future, but
the delicious thralldom of his love drew him to Irma Gluyas as the
moon draws the sea.
It had been his own jealous lover heart which bade her meet him in
all distant places, but to always shun the city with Wade's baffled
spies still on the watch.
For once, the orders of the double traitor Einstein were identical,
as neither the artful Braun nor the anxious lover cared to risk
the dangers of Irma's face meeting the gaze of the watchful Wade.
In a guarded silence the young cashier awaited Mr. Robert Wade's
official action on this June afternoon. He was only vaguely
aware by rumor that Hugh Worthington and Miss Alice still lingered
somewhere on the Pacific Coast.
There had been no further word from Arthur Ferris, and the
all-important election was but a week distant now. Clayton keenly
watched the solemn-faced manager as he drew out some papers from
a bulky envelope. There was but one phase in his now double life
of which Clayton naturally feared the exposure.
Warned by Witherspoon, Clayton had watched the steady rise of the
Western Trading Company's stock, week by week, during the absence
of the arbiter of its destinies. His veins were filled with the
tide of a new-born passion.
Clayton had boldly risked all his savings in the margining of
large blocks of the stock, dealing constantly through a Wall Street
Three times he had fortunately turned over his capital since
Witherspoon had unveiled the scheme to draw in a majority of the
shares, and he was now sixteen thousand dollars to the good. Even
after lavishing a goodly part of his gains upon the mysterious
diva, in every fantastic way possible, in their stealthy meetings,
Clayton still had pyramided his capital and now was sure of another
harvest. And he only wondered at the reluctance with which the
lovely Hungarian accepted the jewels thrust upon her.
"I will sell out the day before the election," mused Clayton, as
he awaited the manager's slow mental processes. "Then I can even
stand a discharge," he defiantly thought.
The young man's face paled suddenly as Wade handed him a telegram
addressed in the care of the manager. "When you have carefully read
this," said Wade, "I will give you Mr. Worthington's own ideas,
from his confidential instructions to me."
Conscious that he was now environed in the house of his enemies,
Randall Clayton sat for some time there, silently pondering the
suddenness of a proposal which affected his whole future career.
"You are wanted as general superintendent of all of our Western
ranches. Headquarters at Cheyenne. Please telegraph acceptance,
and meet Ferris at Cheyenne in four days. He leaves to-day. Answer.
Wade has my full instructions."
The blood surged back to Randall Clayton's heart in a defiant flood.
"They know nothing; but I'll hear him out."
It was twenty minutes before the manager had finished the explanation
of the measure proposed and had dilated upon the advance of salary,
the future prospects, and all the ultimate benefits of the parties
to this autocratically suggested change. "He has been secretly
coached up by Ferris," thought the suspicious Clayton. But he gave
no sign of his secret distrust.
"Of course," purringly remarked Robert Wade, "it is a little sudden;
but I am authorized to make you a half year's salary allowance for
first expenses and outfit, and so you can easily get away to-morrow
night. That will bring you out to Cheyenne in time to meet Ferris,
and then get your instructions. He is coming on to look at the annual
accounts and give Mr. Worthington's views as to your successor."
Wade pushed over a telegraph blank. "Just write out your telegram,
and I will send it on at once. You will accept, of course."
Randall Clayton had schooled himself since Jack Witherspoon's
departure in every defensive measure against the secret plotters.
And so his voice was suave and measured as he simply said, "I think,
Mr. Wade, that I shall have to regretfully decline this promotion.
I am perfectly well satisfied as I am. I know nothing of the details
of our great Western business. I have forgotten the frontier now."
The lines in Wade's face hardened. "Is that your only reason? You
will soon pick up the technique!"
Clayton stood the fire of the vulpine gray eyes without a quiver.
Jack Witherspoon's warning injunctions returned to his mind. "Look
out, my boy, that they don't get you sidetracked in some lonely
place. They would kill you like a rat if our design to uncover
the past was ever discovered."
Clayton but too well knew how easily a man could be lost forever out
in the Black Hills, or along the lonely Platte. "It is their grand
final move before bringing out Ferris as the new-made capitalist.
My life would not be worth a pin-head. And Witherspoon would be
far away out of reach. Irma lost to me forever!"
The jealous lover could almost see the crowded opera-house and
hear that now familiar witching voice. He knew that men would
bow before her beauty; that flowers, jewels, flattery and fortune
would be showered upon her. The hungry "upper ten" pine for new
victims with unsatisfied maw. He had already dedicated his coming
fortune to her; she should be his heart-queen, and together they
would go back and buy the old family castle, whose legends had
fallen from her lips in the stolen hours of the long love trysts
of the last two months.
"I cannot accept this flattering offer, Mr. Wade," resolutely said
the young man, who now saw a steely anger in the manager's eyes.
"I have given the flower of my youth to Mr. Worthington's service;
but this is a total change, a sudden break-up of all my private
plans. I beg that you will at once telegraph him my respectful
Clayton rose with a look on his face which completed Wade's thorough
annoyance. "Stop, sir; stop! Think before you throw away all your
chances in life! You can have a whole day to think this over. Would
you forfeit Mr. Worthington's regard and so lose your place?"
There was a strident anger in the manager's harsh voice. But Clayton,
realizing that he had even till now not been able to gain Irma's
pictured face, looked forward to the heart-wreck of this enforced
absence. "If I am to be cast out like a dog after my faithful
service, then you must do it, sir," gravely said Clayton, Witherspoon's
warnings returning to stiffen his resolution. "Why not await Mr.
Ferris' arrival? I may be able to reach Mr. Worthington's second
thoughts through him." The agent of the two far off conspirators
lost his self-control at last.
"I'll await nothing," roared Robert Wade. "That will do, sir!" And
as the defiant Clayton retired, the manager rang for a telegraph
"I have given them checkmate," mused Clayton, as he snapped his
door behind him. "Their plans probably included making away with
me, out West, after Ferris has done his work and returns to openly
claim Alice's hand. It is a fight for my life now. I must reach
Irma at once. I must tell her all."
Suddenly he thought of the future. His heart sickened. "Wade will
undoubtedly recommend my discharge. If Jack fails me, I am then
to be cast out in the streets, and the influence of the Trust will
surely keep me from holding any other position longer than they
can find out where to reach me."
He absently broke the seals of a couple of letters dropped on his
desk in his brief absence.
He sprang up, a new man, as he read Jack Witherspoon's few words.
The missive was dated from Paris. It bore in its light-hearted
chatter a few words which sealed his fate in life.
"Am coming home at once. Will be with you in ten days. Let nothing
prevent our meeting in New York. Will act instantly in your matter.
Have had private news. They were secretly married a month ago at
Tacoma. Be on your guard!"
Seizing his hat, Randall Clayton hurried away to the nearest
telegraph office, where he felt safe from Robert Wade's spies.
"Thank God for Irma's wit," he said, in his heart, as he sent the
veiled words which would bring her to that quiet hotel on Staten
Island, where, among Richmond's leafy bowers, they now defied all
possible detection. It had been her own plan. The long weeks of
Clayton's complete self-surrender had brought about no forward step
in Irma Gluyas' intimacy.
The still silent Madame Raffoni was the careful guardian of the
veiled beauty, and Clayton, loyal to a frenzy of romantic faith,
had never broken his promise.
For he lived only now in Irma's whispered promise, "Wait, and trust
to me. You shall come to me as soon as I can break my bonds. It
shall be then you and I, for the rest of our days, if Love still
holds the helm."
It was long after midnight when the defiant lover returned to his
apartment. The Magyar witch had finally learned the last secret
of his honest heart, and with clinging arms had whispered through
her kisses, "If you leave me, Randall, it is the death of our love."
And, trusting blindly to his honest love, Clayton wagered his life
upon a woman's faith.
Under the door of his room lay a yellow envelope, and as the now
resolute man read it he smiled grimly. "Victory!" he cried, for
Ferris' words assured him of a coming triumph, a crown of life and
love. It seemed that Irma's love had conquered after all.
"Await me in New York. I think that we can arrange all for your
remaining as you are." The signature was that of the artful Ferris.
"And I think that Jack and I can handle you, my false friend!"
While the young lover read the words which gave him a new hope, far
across the Brooklyn Bridge, Mr. Fritz Braun, in his own private
lair, was pondering over the words of Madame Raffoni, who had just
left the man who was the iron tyrant of her soiled life.
"I must give him a little more line! And I must either land the
fish now or lose him forever."
There was a steely gleam in the sleepless eyes of him who pondered
upon his clouded pathway. "It must be done! And she must help in
some way. She holds the winning cards now. Nothing else will draw
The masquerading criminal was almost desperate. It had been his
by-play for years to p|ay at hide and seek with humanity, using his
duplex characters at first to throw off any pursuit of the Vienna
police; and, later, to hide his nefarious operations on the New
Greedy for money, before Irma Gluyas had been driven to his arms by
adverse fortunes, Fritz Braun had at first made his refuge at the
"Valkyrie," then owned by Ludwig Sohmer, whose passion for "playing
the races" had at last dragged him down.
The Viennese fugitive diligently plied his erstwhile patron with
drink and smilingly enmeshed the brutish peasant-bred Sohmer in a
series of compounded loans.
It was not long until all the employees recognized in the alert
"August Meyer" the mainstay of the decaying fortunes of the half
Every evening, without fail, the sharp commands of Fritz Braun
were now conveyed to the responsible underlings! Sohmer, staggering
homeward with his greedy Aspasias from the Waterloo conflicts of
the race-track, sullenly assented at last to the chattel mortgages
and bills of sale which placed the "Valkyrie" and the whole building
under August Meyer's name. Then, taking the downward road, Sohmer
tried to drown himself in drink, and succeeded.
When Sohmer was found dead in his bed, the millionaire brewer who
backed the "Valkyrie," and the owner of the ground on which the
building erected by Sohmer stood, gladly took on the active August
Meyer in loco the departed Sohmer.
The solidity of the new tenant's finances was vouched for by the
agents of the old estate from whom Fritz Braun had already leased
192 Layte Street, in his Brooklyn name of "August Meyer."
Strange to say, the keen-eyed officials of the German Consulate-General
had issued to the acute pharmacist a regular passport, upon the
military and family papers of Braun's poor soldier drudge at the
It had been an exchange acceptable to both parties: an ocean
of drink, a weekly pittance of food and raiment, for the valuable
attested documents which gave the disguised Viennese fugitive the
right to boldly claim the Kaiser's official protection as "August
Meyer." It was the very citadel of Braun's rising fortunes!
And so, with Sohmer soundly sleeping, whether well or illy, "after
life's fitful fever," the foxy Viennese rejoiced in his assigned
ground-lease, Sohmer's business, and the gold mine of the hidden
pool-room, gambling den and disguised harem of No. 192 Layte Street.
Fritz Braun had allowed a few months to pass before he secretly
opened the party walls between the two buildings to allow his
choicest patrons to enter No. 192 Layte Street all unobserved; but,
for reasons of his own, he had made one or two private alterations
in the two buildings which enabled him to enter the different floors
by his own judiciously veiled private entrances.
The cellar of No. 192 Layte Street had been piped for cold-storage
of the wines and beer of the "Valkyrie" under Fritz Braun's own
supervision when he gave up the basement of the "Valkyrie" to the
kitchens of the restaurant, which drew the attractive women of the
quarter into the safest possible association with their victims
crowding the "Valkyrie" saloon.
A vigilant business man, August Meyer came each evening to settle
the days' affairs and personally watch the money mill next door,
which ran noiselessly on golden wheels from nine o'clock till
No one had Meyer's confidence; he left no tell-tale papers to connect
him with the gruff pharmacist of Sixth Avenue, and at midnight he
always vanished to his own private home, a diligently guarded terra
incognita to all men.
A sphinx-like "Oberkellner" received the orders of the proprietor
each evening; a steward of equal taciturnity "ran" the restaurant,
and August Meyer himself, with autocratic power, directed the
villainous operations of No. 192 Layte Street.
Popular with the police, exact in his monthly settlements with the
ground landlords and the despotic brewery king, Fritz Braun avoided
both the failings which had wrecked the golden fortunes of the dead
But, alas! no man is equally strong against all temptations. Deaf
to woman's wail; brutal and heartless; too fearful of his past
record to give himself up to the bowl, Fritz Braun, blasé and tired
of every side of human life, had drifted easily into the desperate
craze of the insatiate gambler.
It was months after he had found No. 192 Layte Street to be
a never-failing mint, when Braun became fascinated with the whirr
of the roulette ball, the varying chances of the faro box, and, at
last, the fine peculiarities of "unlimited poker" swept away his
once callous prudence.
Night after night, in the grim quartette of a ruinously high game,
August Meyer "held his hand" recklessly, while a street railroad
magnate, a millionaire importer, and a reigning politician swept
away the revenues of the "Valkyrie." He was rolling the stone of
Sysiphus up hill now. He had forged his own ruin.
Alone in the world, a desperate Ishmael, Fritz Braun needed the
secret protection of these powerful plutocrats. Silently he had
suffered his huge losses, waiting for the luck to turn, and now, on
the eve of his great coup of criminal sagacity, he awoke at last
to his own imperiled fortunes, and yet he feared to own that he
dared not cease gambling, that he could not "throw up his hand."
And, by one of the fantastic turns of luck which haunt even
the safest "dealing" games, he had seen the tide of Fortune turn
viciously against his banking dealers several times. The "bank"
had been broken at several of his tables until he had hypothecated
all his reserve securities. Ruin stared him in the face, for it
had come at last.
Possessed of his regular passport, safe now in any voyage in Germany,
the Low Countries, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, in Russia, Fritz Braun
had long desired to break off his slavery to the "painted ladies"
of the cards.
He had always kept some jewels of great value with him as a final
reserve, and a nest-egg of a few thousands deposited in a Frankfort
banking-house, with whose New York agents he had effected many
clearings of considerable size.
Fate was now swiftly sweeping him along, he knew not whither, and
on this night of discontent he bitterly calculated the chances of
a stormy future.
"Ten thousand dollars only left, and whatever more my jewels will
bring," he growled. "I am safe enough, though. Timmins can run the
pharmacy, and the brewery will put an agent in here if I say that
I need a few months' rest abroad."
"But there's Irma to be got rid of! If she does not help me to
this one crowning stroke of luck, then I've either got to put her
out of the way or take her with me. She knows my one dangerous
A busy devil in his heart whispered an excellent suggestion. He
grinned in self-satisfied malignity. "Yes! That's the trick! If I
win we'll take a Hoboken steamer together. Any one of our smuggling
stewards and agents over there will take care of us on the way
"If I lose, she must go with me; and there are a few lonely lakes
in Norway, a few deep fiords with leaping waterfalls. I might lose
her there, and only that coward Lilienthal would perhaps suspect.
He would have to keep his mouth shut, for he has his own tracks
to cover, and he would easily believe that the pretty jade has run
off and left me. And he fears publicity.
"As for Leah, she loves me blindly, with a dog's fidelity; her boy
will be true to his dam and drift on in silence--a sharp scoundrel!
The world is an easy oyster for him to open.
"If--if I lose Irma, I'll have Leah over there with me. My passport
as August Meyer makes me invincible."
And the scheming villain threw himself down to dream of a stroke of
luck which should make him safe in Northern Europe, in the assumed
character of "August Meyer," a second self which fitted him like a
Guardsman's uniform. "I can easily play off a long sickness, turn
over the leases, and the brewer will run the 'Valkyrie.' My one
hope and fear is Irma. If she pulls this off I'll fix her; yes,
I'll fix her!"
He drifted away into a land of dreams, a far-off land, where,
under the black shadows of the Norway firs, he could see the gleam
of white hands thrown up despairingly in the icy waters. It was a
fiend's prophecy of a nameless horror to come.
When Randall Clayton noticed the returning suavity of Manager Robert
Wade's demeanor on the days ensuing the abortive attempt to lure
the young cashier out West, he vowed to redouble his own crafty
policy of secret resistance. It all seemed so clear to him now.
"Wade and Ferris wish to conceal the marriage until the election
is over. I would be exposed, perhaps even here, to their deadly
resentment if I openly rebelled.
"But once that Jack Witherspoon is back, and Ferris anchored here,
Jack can go on and face old Worthington. I will affect ignorance,
and then a brief campaign of victory will put Irma in my arms."
Startled by Einstein's revelations, Randall Clayton had carefully
removed every scrap of his private papers from his apartments, and
his little fortune, his stocks and personal archives, were all safe
in a down-town Safe Deposit.
The address and all the details of the Trust were lying in a sealed
envelope in the safe of Jack Witherspoon's club, in Detroit, awaiting
that legal champion's return.
And so, his heart thrilled with the fear of losing the Hungarian
singer, Randall Clayton made friends with all in the office until
his friend and enemy should pass each other in New York City.
The business and social atmosphere had visibly cleared before the
day of the annual election came on.
Clayton's eyes were now fixed only on his friend Witherspoon,
whose steamer was now picking him up at Boulogne. The approach of
the Fourth of July, with a triple holiday--Saturday, Sunday and
Monday--caused Clayton to toil, early and late, in the vast annual
settlements of the end of the fiscal year. It was upon the basis
of the settlement of June 30th that the reports of July 1st, the
annual election, were to be made.
But one thought now filled Clayton's agitated heart.
It was Irma Gluyas' future. Her resolute policy of holding him off
had inflamed Clayton's lover ardor to an overmastering passion.
Gallant and loyal, he had taken her at her own word. The unconventional
artist life, her romantic early history, her foreign birth, her
carefully veiled coming début, all this conspired to cover the
singular reticence of the diva as to her home life.
He never had demanded her whole heart confidence, for he had been
forced to veil from her his hopes of winning a fortune by one fell
swoop upon the astounded Worthington.
"And then," murmured the passionate, heated lover, "I can tell her
all. I can give her a home, the power of wealth to set my jewel
off, and there shall be nothing hidden between us."
From first to last he had concealed nothing from her, save the
mechanism of the short, sharp struggle which was to make him almost
a millionaire, if Jack Witherspoon's bold plan succeeded.
It had been for her sake as well as his own that the veiled star,
Irma Gluyas, had laughingly searched the map of New York and vicinity
to find places of safe meeting.
To avoid Robert Wade's spies, to preserve Irma's incognito, they
had exhausted the "lions" of every Long Island, Staten Island,
and New Jersey village. They had canvassed every place of resort
within fifty miles of New York City.
With a dumb fidelity Madame Raffoni had accompanied her beautiful
charge. There was a wholesome innocence in these strangely arranged
Clayton often searched that lovely face to read what malign influence
kept her from opening her whole life to him.
But it all seemed so clear. Her wild artist nature yearned for the
honors of a world's applause; it was agreed between them that, be
it opera season or concert tour, that, once success was achieved,
the eclipse of Love should hide her from the eager moths who flutter
around the risen star.
"She trusts me; I have not told her all. When I can give her
my whole life and a fortune," thought Clayton, "then I shall say,
'Irma, open the sealed books. There must be nothing hidden between
With a serene confidence in Madame Raffoni, Randall Clayton always
came home alone and by circuitous routes, artfully varied, from
these strange trysts.
This stolen time seemed all too short to speak of their future,
gilded by a love which thrived strangely in the difficulties
besetting the strangely-met couple.
Clayton's mind was unclouded by suspicion. He had given his whole
destiny over to the keeping of the small blue-veined hands, which
lingered so lovingly on his heated brow. His watchfulness was only
turned upon Robert Wade's disgruntled spies.
From the heavily subsidized Einstein, Clayton gleefully learned that
the weekly "report" of one or the other of the Fidelity Company's
men consisted of a morose shake of the head and the single word,
The cashier laughed at Emil's report of Wade's accidentally overheard
angry growl, "Where the devil does he keep himself, any way?"
For Love had taught Clayton a strange, new craft, and he easily
outwitted the two brutes who always came to "report" during his
bank absences, and had vainly rifled his deserted rooms during his
long Sunday and evening absences.
There was no tell-tale clue in the lonely apartment, where the dust
of many long weeks had gathered in Arthur Ferris' vacant rooms.
Unable to absent himself on the near approach of the great annual
settlement, driven at last to extremity, Randall Clayton arranged
his last meeting with Irma, before the return of Ferris and
Witherspoon, at Manhattan Beach.
For the summer boats were already running, and, on the broad piazzas
of the Oriental they could safely meet.
It was so easy for Madame Raffoni to pilot the incognito diva by
the railway to the Manhattan Hotel. A double veil and a judiciously
fringed sunshade would make Irma Gluyas impregnable to the flaneur.
"Alas! The days of Aranjuez are over," sighed Clayton, for this
tryst of Thursday was to be followed by the election on Friday.
As yet Arthur Ferris had given no sign of his impending arrival.
Some gloomy foreboding weighed down Randall Clayton's soul with a
fear of coming disaster. He felt how powerless he was in the hands
of the cruel conspirators who had robbed him of his fortune.
He never doubted that Senator Durham and the treacherous Ferris
both possessed Hugh Worthington's dastardly secret, and that they
all stood ready to crush him.
The innocent four-line advertisement of the annual election had
been duly inserted in the obscure corners of certain fourth-class
journals, "as required by law."
There was an oily grin upon Robert Wade's self-satisfied face,
and, with no single word from Worthington or Ferris, Clayton felt
the toils closing around him. He was left out of the game--a mere
It was on the night before his five-o'clock tryst at the Manhattan,
when Clayton suddenly sprang from his chair. "By God! I have it!" he
cried. "Old Wade has failed to trap me. Ferris, the smug scoundrel,
will glide back here and try to steal into my intimacy. He can post
his slyly posted spies. I cannot then keep him off. And he will
reiterate Worthington's plans, cling to me, and run me to earth. He
will take up his Judas trade, and either trap me or else, baffled,
will telegraph Worthington and have me discharged. Why has
he concealed this secret marriage? And, damnation! I cannot ever
meet Jack Witherspoon in private without giving myself away. I must
have some one meet Witherspoon at the steamer and arrange for one
meeting out of town. He must go over to Philadelphia and await me.
I can take an evening train over, and be back here, even if Ferris
hangs on my track. I will go out alone, as if to the theater, and
then turn up belated. Ferris must not know. It is for my life, for
Irma, and for my fortune that I struggle now. My God! Whom can I
trust now, and they have poisoned Alice's mind against me. I see
their damned villainy. Poor Little Sister! Another man's wife now.
She will never know."
In his lover's second sight Randall Clayton had really stumbled
on the artful measure by which the old Croesus had deliberately
shifted Alice Worthington's love for her old-time playmate.
Over his gold-bowed spectacles, Hugh Worthington, the "surviving
partner," had sadly read aloud the details of Randall Clayton's
"New York career." "Forget him, Alice," the old man sternly said.
"He has fallen on evil ways." "And yet you still keep him in your
employ, father?" answered the clear-eyed girl, her wondering glances
gleaming out under a brow of truth.
"Yes, yes!" harshly said the startled old miser. "But it must soon
come to an end. I have delayed the inevitable. But he must go. You
are right; he must go."
And with this colloquy by the far Pacific, the old man dropped
Randall Clayton's soiled memory, while the despoiled heir had turned
at bay to fight for his own.
While Randall Clayton paced his lonely rooms in Manhattan, gazing
sadly on the glowing Danube scene, there was a woman seated in
a shaded corner of the old library of the lonely mansion on Layte
Street. The second drawing-room and library on the ground floor
were a dream of luxury. It had once pleased Mr. Fritz Braun to make
them worthy of a Sultana.
And he stood there now, regarding the graceful figure of one whose
head was hidden in her hands.
The diamonds on the adventurer's bosom flashed fitfully in the
yellow gaslight, as he slowly said, "And now you know all your
part. Will you play it?"
Irma Gluyas sprang to her feet and clutched his arms with a
despairing clasp. "Swear to me that no harm shall come to him!"
Fritz Braun growled an assent. "Not a hand shall be laid on him. I
swear it!" And then, through falling tears, the Magyar witch gave
her word to do her master's bidding. She had glided from the room
before the man started, as the street door clashed and the roll
of wheels was heard. He poured out a draught of brandy and threw
himself into a chair. "One week more and I would be too late. I
must hoodwink her!"
AN INSIDE RING.
DREAMING BY THE SEA.
Five o'clock on Thursday afternoon found Mr. Randall Clayton
hovering around the grounds of the more democratic Hotel Manhattan,
while the early birds of fashion sought the more pretentious splendor
of the Oriental.
There was an anxious look upon the young man's face, and deep hollows
under his eyes told of unaccustomed vigils. A couple of wandering
peris gazed wishfully at the hand bundle carefully enveloped in
silvery tissue paper. It was true that dark blue Russian violets,
the starry forget-me-not, and the peerless lilies of the valley were
therein hidden, but a keener emotion than expectant love shone in
the young man's haggard eyes.
He was anxiously gazing around for the now well known form of Madame
Raffoni. Clayton dared not exhibit himself before the couple of
hundred staring eyes upon the pavilion and broad porticos.
An unknown fear of being entrapped drove him restlessly about.
"Would to God that Jack Witherspoon had arrived!" muttered the
lover. "I may have the trap sprung on me at any moment. Another
week; a long, long week! And God knows what may not happen in that
time." Some burning fever gnawed at his unquiet heart, some veiled
danger weighed him down.
Clayton was waiting for the approach of the wife of that mysterious
musical director whom he had never seen.
A fortunate sort of lingua Franca had been patched up between the
unsuspicious Clayton and the dark-eyed duenna. A few words of
German, a little scattered French, and a bit of gibberish English
enabled the two to hold occasional brief and amiable intercourse.
"What language does she really speak?" often cried the baffled
Clayton to the mocking Irma.
"Only pure Czech, my comrade," laughed the diva. "And I will teach
you the softest language of Love myself when we wander back into
the blue Bohemian mountains to proud old Georgsburg. My father was
a Magyar, my mother," she softly said, "a Czech princess."
While Clayton moved around, cautiously exhibiting himself as agreed
upon, his mind was agitated with a hundred unknown fears. He knew
not the designs of his panther-footed enemies.
To his astonishment, Robert Wade was absent the whole last business
day of the year from the Western Trading Company's offices, and
this, too, when every pen was busied up to five o'clock.
And, the momentous election was to occur in the morning!
He had lingered with his own annual summary until three o'clock,
when the dejected face of Somers, the head accountant, had appeared
at his office door. "I have a telegram that Mr. Wade is sick in
his bed. I am to take the consolidated accounts up to him to-night."
And so Randall Clayton handed over his papers without a word. "It
will probably be the last account I will ever render here," he
savagely mused, as he clashed his roll-top desk. "I wish that I had
broken it all off when Wade brought on the half quarrel. I should
have taken a friend with me, drawn out my little hoard, gone West
and faced Worthington before he successfully works this infamous
"Now I am powerless. He may tell us both to go to the devil."
And then Clayton sadly remembered that he depended only on Jack
Witherspoon's mere hearsay for any proofs of wrong-doing. "Yes!
I've only Jack's eagerness to marry that dainty Francine Delacroix
to thank for my fortune--if I ever get it. A woman whom I never
have seen decides my whole destiny, while I would give my life up,
my last drop of blood, for Irma!"
Ah! All unknown to him, a dozen busy minds were weaving snares for
his wandering feet. While Clayton, at last, saw Madame Raffoni
cautiously approaching, in his superb Fifth Avenue residence, the
sick man, Robert Wade, was closeted with the wolfish-eyed Arthur
Ferris, the parchment-faced Somers, and four of the seven directors
of the Trading Company.
On guard, lingering around Clayton's apartment, two mercantile
agent's spies were waiting to pipe him off and report his every
movement secretly to the returned Ferris, now breathless with
anxiety for the greatest financial coup of the season.
Mr. Fritz Braun was artfully busied at Magdal's Pharmacy with giving
Timmins a few last directions, and with the quiet destruction of
a few necessary professional memoranda which he did not care to
leave behind as dangerous weapons in the hands of the law or any
In the pocket of Mr. Fritz Braun's well-known brown overcoat
now reposed a bulky envelope, with a passport for Mr. and Mrs.
August Meyer, his Frankfort bank exchange, and several letters of
introduction to responsible merchants in Upper Germany. He was, at
least, armed for flight, and fortified beyond all attack.
Ben Timmins looked forward, with delight, to a six-months' suzerainty
of his master's drug business. "I have given Mr. Lilienthal my power
of attorney," said Braun soberly, and I figure that you should
turn him in at least two hundred dollars a week profit, and also
keep the stock up. He will look in once or twice a week. If you
need help, he will get you a man. If you don't do your duty, he
will promptly kick you out."
"Thank you, sir," submissively remarked Timmins, who felt sure of
declaring himself an equal cash dividend every week.
"Now remember," said Braun, "I am going over to see Lilienthal. If
any one asks for me, I have gone over the water, that's all.
"For how long, is nobody's business, and you can refer all inquiries
to Lilienthal direct. All that you have to do is to mind your
business and mine. Lilienthal will let you know when I am coming
back, and advise you."
The two lovers had met, far away at Manhattan Beach, after Madame
Raffoni had discreetly piloted Clayton over to a sandy hollow where
a half-burned spar gave a convenient resting-place, before Fritz
Braun and Lilienthal had finished an acrimonious settlement of
some private money matters.
"I'm not a wolf," growled Braun. "You square up as if you were
never going to see me again. You need me more than I need you."
They were in the safe seclusion of the "Private Room" of the Newport
Art Gallery, judiciously vacated for the occasion, when a strange
fear took possession of the sly pleasure pander, Mr. Adolph
"See here, Braun," he huskily said, a mean suspicion seizing upon
him, "You're not cutting stick for good! You're not going to 'blow
on me' and 'give me away!' By God! I believe it," he said in fright,
as he noted Braun's pale face.
"It's two months since I've seen Irma Gluyas. Damn you! You've sent
her over to the other side, and got all your papers safe! You've
turned revenue spy! I see your game!"
Before the words were out of his mouth, Braun had dragged the
venal scoundrel down in a strangler's grip. Planting his knee on
his chest, he hissed, "One more word and I'll throttle you here!
I can go out by the side entrance! You dare not scream! You fool!
Don't you know Irma, the pretty baggage, cleared out six weeks ago
with a New York millionaire whom she picked up?"
"Swear to me that you'll keep your mouth shut or I'll go out and
denounce you now. I have nothing to lose. You have. You have robbed
me in our past dealings. You are rich and I am poor. I am going to
follow that woman over the world till I find her, for I loved her.
That's all! Swear that you'll keep my secrets or I'll kill you now.
I've burned every paper I have in the world."
When Braun's desperate mood had passed, he allowed the pleading
man to rise, and then listened morosely as Lilienthal, the veriest
coward at heart, begged for a reconciliation. "I didn't know of
your trouble," gasped Lilienthal. "See here, if you'll go on to
Hamburg and Bremen and fix up that 'phenacetine' business for me,
I'll advance you five thousand dollars now. I didn't know you were
so hard up." He whispered an address in the victorious druggist's
The half-crazed gamester felt that he had gone too far, and in half
an hour he departed richer by a cheque for five thousand dollars.
But his mind was far away on Manhattan Beach, with the wandering
lovers, as he told Lilienthal that he should not call again. "I'll
jump on the first steamer I can catch! Timmins knows all. Just
watch him, and don't put yourself in his power, till I return. He
can run the shop to a good profit in 'dope' and drinks till I am
with you again. I'm damned near crazy at losing that woman." And
the cowardly Lilienthal believed his rugged master.
When he had stalked away through the snaplock-guarded private entrance,
there came over Lilienthal's face a spasm of deadly hatred. "The
dirty dog!" he growled, as he unlocked a cabinet and drank heavily.
"It must be true. This young fellow Clayton is here on duty every
day; he looks wolfish, too. I wonder if he really loved the girl.
Well, I shall soon have my day. If Braun ever presents that letter
in Hamburg the friends there will have received my secret message
by our No. II, who goes over this trip. A walk around the docks,
and a knife stab in the back will settle Braun. He knows too much
to be allowed to run loose in Europe. He would like to spoil our
game; he shall spoil his own." And the traitor hastened away to
entrap Braun, little dreaming that the acute druggist would never
trust himself to the hands of the "gang" at Hamburg.
Randall Clayton had been startled by Madame Raffoni's eager
disclosure as he approached the place of rendezvous. He had studied
the still handsome face of the disguised Leah Einstein when she told
him that the Fräulein was really ill and most unhappy. He managed
to pick out from her dialect that the diva had been plunged in some
Quietly restraining himself, he watched the voluptuous form of
the Jewess mingle with the crowd of guests on the hotel terrace.
"That poor woman, a worn-out theater beauty, is without guile. What
can this mean?"
He had rightly judged the good-hearted Leah's concern, and he never
knew of the long hours of the discarded mistress' ministrations
to the "reigning beauty."
Timorous at heart, Leah Einstein's evil career had been only one
of petty wheedling craft, and an easy self-surrender.
Violence she both feared and abhorred, and now, in the wane of her
beauty, she was easily content with such crumbs of money profit as
could be picked up by an easy code of a plastic surface morality
which covered only her petty intrigues.
Loyal to Irma Gulyas, Randall Clayton dared not question the poor
mock duenna; in fact, her jargon vocabulary would have failed her,
but there had been no deceit in the sympathetic tears which clung
to Madame Raffoni's eyelids.
Seated on a half-burned spar, there where the roar of the restless
waves reached their ears, with her face veiled, the Magyar witch
awaited her all unsuspicious lover. The golden sunset faded now
far in the west, the piled up purple clouds were turning blacker,
and around them
"The mists arose, the waters swelled,"
"Gulls screamed, their flight recalling."
The woman's heart was racked with the deceit which had entrapped
a man she now madly loved.
The freshening wind was driving the black smoke of the steamers,
far out at sea, in long funereal wreaths, athwart the foaming wake,
and the silver-sailed schooners began to reef, in anticipation of
the coming storm.
An infinite tenderness seized upon Randall Clayton as he motioned
to Madame Raffoni to leave them, and then took that beloved head
to its shelter upon his breast.
His heart panted for the day when they could be all in all to
each other. He felt the clouding spell of some mysterious enmity
descending upon them, and clouding their love as he kissed the
white and trembling hands which had so nervously clasped his own.
For Irma Gluyas feared for her own life. She dared not betray the
tiger-like Fritz Braun, whose veiled scheme of plunder or blackmail
she could not fathom.
Hitherto all had gone well with them, in their merry will-o'-the-wisp
game with Irma's jealous unknown guardians, with his concealed
But Clayton well knew that no mere pretense would baffle Arthur
Ferris' thorough knowledge of all of his past social habits.
He dared not openly quarrel with Ferris until Jack Witherspoon's
return. He only lived now to see the Detroit lawyer speeding west,
far on ahead of the deceitful Ferris, who would be detained in
New York by the quiet consummation of the big deal.
Clayton was but too well aware that his only weapon was his knowledge
of Ferris' secret marriage--an outrage upon Alice Worthington's
And yet he dared not openly use that weapon; how easy for the old
capitalist to frame a suave excuse for the "maimed rites" of that
One longing burned now in Clayton's heart, the honest wish to find
some dignified and safe place of meeting with the woman upon whom
he would shower the gold soon to be his own.
"If anything should happen," he thought.
Of course, his own face was too well known to adopt any mere hiding
tactics. Irma was ever fearful of her jealous artist guardians,
and in this lovely evening hour the lover's heart rose up in all
its stormy tendeness to beg her to lift the veil from her incognito.
Even while they murmured again their vows and drifted away into
dreams of the unclouded future, the heavens were blackening around
Irma seemed strangely frightened as she cowered in her lover's
arms, while he begged her to lift the veil of her privacy.
"I must be with you--near you," he cried. "Listen! I have even
now grave matters hanging over me which may summon me suddenly
away from you. You know not my abode. You cannot write or telegraph
safely to my office.
"There are veiled spies, jealous rivals, there, who would rob me
of place, power, and the money which will yet be ours, in the dear
far-off Danube land.
"You have been ill, distressed," he fondly said. "Nay, do not deny
it! Madame Raffoni has told me all."
"My God!" whispered Irma. "She has told you"--
"Only that you have suffered, my darling," said Clayton, folding
her to his breast.
"Ah! I must make an end of it!" the loyal lover cried, as Irma lay
sobbing on his breast. "If I could only come to you; how shall I
know? Can you trust no one? There is Madame Raffoni," said Clayton.
"She knows where my office is. I have bribed her, with flattery
and a few little kindnesses, to come and tell me of you, several
times, when we have been separated in these long weeks. We have
not even gone to the 'Bavaria'; I have shown her my office. I care
not to force myself upon your loyal secrecy. I respect the promise
upon which your artistic future depends; but think of me. If you
were ill, and we were separated by Fate, I should go mad! I could
not live! Can you not trust her to bring me to you?" Fear and love
were striving now in the singer's throbbing heart.
The Magyar witch clasped her arms around her gallant lover in
a mad access of tenderness. "And you do love me so, Randall," she
cried, in a storm of tears.
"More than my life," said the man who now felt her heart beating
wildly against his own.
"Ah! God!" sobbed Irma. "If we had only met in other days, in
another land, in my own dear country!"
"Listen, Irma," pleaded Clayton. "I will soon take you away, far
over the seas."
"In a few weeks I shall be free, and you shall be my own, my very
own! For I will then come to you, free to give you all that life
and love can give.
"But promise me now that Madame Raffoni shall lead me to you if
you need me. You can trust her. I will come to her home. I cannot
bear this agony, and I am watched, also!"
Even as he spoke, the heavens blackened and a stormy drift of rain
swept athwart the sky. There was a muttering roll of thunder. The
white-crested waves dashed menacingly upon the shore!
Irma Gluyas clung to her lover as the affrighted Madame Raffoni came
rushing toward them for shelter in the storm. The red lightning
flashed, and the fury of the storm was upon them. It was a wild
tempest which raged around them. The women were helpless with
In despair, Randall Clayton gazed at the distant hotels; there was
shelter and safety. But now a new fear beset him. His well-known
identity, Irma's marked beauty, the strange attendant duenna, there
would be certain discovery and scandal. And he would be Ferris'
easy victim if discovered.
Irma Gluyas shrieked as she clung to her lover and bade him save
her as the wild lightning bolts rent the darkness. It was a horrid
A few hundred yards away a heavy closed carriage was slowly creeping
along the drive between the hotels. "Run for your life!" shouted
Clayton to the eager Madame Raffoni. "Stop that carriage. Offer
him anything, everything! I will carry her. I must save her."
Bending himself to the task, Clayton raised the fainting form of
Irma Gluyas. Her long hair lowered, swept around her in the storm;
her sculptured arms clung to him, and her warm heart thrilled him
as he sped on through the driving torrent. He was possessed with
Love's last delirium.
In the violence of the storm, Clayton could only motion "forward"
as he closed the door of the carriage and the frightened horses
set off at a mad gallop. The inmates of the carriage never saw the
bridge as the vehicle swayed from side to side in the blue-flamed
They were nearing Brooklyn when, in the still driving storm,
Clayton descended and procured some restoratives at a pharmacy.
He poured a draught of strong wine between the affrighted woman's
pallid lips, and then whispered, "You must tell me where to take
you. It is life or death now."
And then Irma Gluyas, her head resting on Madame Raffoni's bosom,
feebly whispered, "To my home, 192 Layte Street."
There was not a word spoken as, in the midnight darkness of the
storm, the horses struggled along until, under the shelter of the
high houses, the carriage stopped before the desolate-looking old
There was a look of terror on Madame Raffoni's face which was not
lost upon Clayton. "Get the door open," he hoarsely cried. "I will
carry her in. Then, I swear to you, I will leave her at once."
The strong man sprang from his place, and in a few moments he stood
within the veiled splendors of the old drawing-room.
Kneeling by the bed, wherein he had deposited the senseless woman,
Clayton chafed her marble hands in an agony of despair.
But, even in his lover's exaltation, he listened to Madame Raffoni,
who knelt before him in passionate adjuration. "Go, go!" she cried
in broken pathos. "I will come to you to-morrow."
And she dragged him to the door. "I will all do; everything! I
swear! Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!"
With one last despairing look, raining passionate kisses upon the
marble lips of the woman he loved, Randall Clayton left the dusky
magnificence of the superb apartment, and only halted at the door
long enough to whisper to the Raffoni, "Bring me to her to-morrow,
and I will make you rich!"
And the poor woman dumbly covered his hands with obedient kisses.
"Go, go!" she cried. "I will come!"
And, touched with the woman's frantic fears, Randall Clayton sprang
into the carriage. Through the blinding storm he had reached the
New York side before he thought of his own movements, of the morrow,
of his coming friend, and of his wary enemies.
Then he resolutely made up his mind to fight the warring Fates to
He drove to the Astor House, dismissed his driver with a ransom
fee, and there hid himself in an upper room.
When he presented himself at the half-deserted office of the Western
Trading Company, upon the next morning, he was clad in unfamiliar
His blood-shot eyes told of a vigil of mental suffering, and he
dared say nothing as he gruffly bowed when Mr. Somers told him of
Robert Wade's continued illness.
"I am going down to the election," said the old accountant. And
so you will be in charge, as Mr. Ferris has not been heard from.
There is no one here but you to represent the management."
"Trapped," muttered Clayton, who listened every moment for some
tidings of the woman whose silken hair had wound its delicate meshes
around him in the storm. "Dying; dead, perhaps," he groaned, in an
agony of excitement, and then and there he swore that, upon the
arrival of Witherspoon he would leave the cave of his enemies, await
his fate, and bear Irma Gluyas away to farther and fairer lands.