Part 4 out of 6
peradventure of doubt that the woman whom he had married was in
truth an ex-convict, even as Burke and Demarest had declared.
Nevertheless, he did not for an instant believe that she was
guilty of the crime with which she had been originally charged
and for which she had served a sentence in prison. For the rest,
he could understand in some degree how the venom of the wrong
inflicted on her had poisoned her nature through the years, till
she had worked out its evil through the scheme of which he was
the innocent victim. He cared little for the fact that recently
she had devoted herself to devious devices for making money, to
ingenious schemes for legal plunder. In his summing of her, he
set as more than an offset to her unrighteousness in this regard
the desperate struggle she had made after leaving prison to keep
straight, which, as he learned, had ended in her attempt at
suicide. He knew the intelligence of this woman whom he loved,
and in his heart was no thought of her faults as vital flaws. It
seemed to him rather that circumstances had compelled her, and
that through all the suffering of her life she had retained the
more beautiful qualities of her womanliness, for which he
reverenced her. In the closeness of their association, short as
it had been, he had learned to know something of the tenderer
depths within her, the kindliness of her, the wholesomeness.
Swayed as he was by the loveliness of her, he was yet more
enthralled by those inner qualities of which the outer beauty was
only the fitting symbol.
So, in the face of this catastrophe, where a less love must have
been destroyed utterly, Dick remained loyal. His passionate
regard did not falter for a moment. It never even occurred to
him that he might cast her off, might yield to his father's
prayers, and abandon her. On the contrary, his only purpose was
to gain her for himself, to cherish and guard her against every
ill, to protect with his love from every attack of shame or
injury. He would not believe that the girl did not care for him.
Whatever had been her first purpose of using him only as an
instrument through which to strike against his father, whatever
might be her present plan of eliminating him from her life in the
future, he still was sure that she had grown to know a real and
lasting affection for himself. He remembered startled glances
from the violet eyes, caught unawares, and the music of her voice
in rare instants, and these told him that love for him stirred,
even though it might as yet be but faintly, in her heart.
Out of that fact, he drew an immediate comfort in this period of
his misery. Nevertheless, his anguish was a racking one. He
grew older visibly in the night and the day. There crept
suddenly lines of new feeling into his face, and, too, lines of
new strength. The boy died in that time; the man was born, came
forth in the full of his steadfastness and his courage, and his
The father suffered with the son. He was a proud man, intensely
gratified over the commanding position to which he had achieved
in the commercial world, proud of his business integrity, of his
standing in the community as a leader, proud of his social
position, proud most of all of the son whom he so loved. Now,
this hideous disaster threatened his pride at every turn--worse,
it threatened the one person in the world whom he really loved.
Most fathers would have stormed at the boy when pleading failed,
would have given commands with harshness, would have menaced the
recalcitrant with disinheritance. Edward Gilder did none of
these things, though his heart was sorely wounded. He loved his
son too much to contemplate making more evil for the lad by any
estrangement between them. Yet he felt that the matter could not
safely be left in the hands of Dick himself. He realized that
his son loved the woman--nor could he wonder much at that. His
keen eyes had perceived Mary Turner's graces of form, her
loveliness of face. He had apprehended, too, in some measure at
least, the fineness of her mental fiber and the capacities of her
heart. Deep within him, denied any outlet, he knew there lurked
a curious, subtle sympathy for the girl in her scheme of revenge
against himself. Her persistent striving toward the object of
her ambition was something he could understand, since the like
thing in different guise had been back of his own business
success. He would not let the idea rise to the surface of
consciousness, for he still refused to believe that Mary Turner
had suffered at his hand unjustly. He would think of her as
nothing else than a vile creature, who had caught his son in the
toils of her beauty and charm, for the purpose of eventually
making money out of the intrigue.
Gilder, in his library this night, was pacing impatiently to and
fro, eagerly listening for the sound of his son's return to the
house. He had been the guest of honor that night at an important
meeting of the Civic Committee, and he had spoken with his usual
clarity and earnestness in spite of the trouble that beset him.
Now, however, the regeneration of the city was far from his
thought, and his sole concern was with the regeneration of a
life, that of his son, which bade fair to be ruined by the wiles
of a wicked woman. He was anxious for the coming of Dick, to
whom he would make one more appeal. If that should fail--well,
he must use the influences at his command to secure the forcible
parting of the adventuress from his son.
The room in which he paced to and fro was of a solid dignity,
well fitted to serve as an environment for its owner. It was
very large, and lofty. There was massiveness in the desk that
stood opposite the hall door, near a window. This particular
window itself was huge, high, jutting in octagonal, with leaded
panes. In addition, there was a great fireplace set with tiles,
around which was woodwork elaborately carved, the fruit of
patient questing abroad. On the walls were hung some pieces of
tapestry, where there were not bookcases. Over the octagonal
window, too, such draperies fell in stately lines. Now, as the
magnate paced back and forth, there was only a gentle light in
the room, from a reading-lamp on his desk. The huge chandelier
was unlighted.... It was even as Gilder, in an increasing
irritation over the delay, had thrown himself down on a couch
which stood just a little way within an alcove, that he heard the
outer door open and shut. He sprang up with an ejaculation of
"Dick, at last!" he muttered.
It was, in truth, the son. A moment later, he entered the room,
and went at once to his father, who was standing waiting, facing
"I'm awfully sorry I'm so late, Dad," he said simply.
"Where have you been?" the father demanded gravely. But there
was great affection in the flash of his gray eyes as he scanned
the young man's face, and the touch of the hand that he put on
Dick's shoulder was very tender. "With that woman again?"
The boy's voice was disconsolate as he replied:
"No, father, not with her. She won't see me."
The older man snorted a wrathful appreciation.
"Naturally!" he exclaimed with exceeding bitterness in the heavy
voice. "She's got all she wanted from you --my name!" He
repeated the words with a grimace of exasperation: "My name!"
There was a novel dignity in the son's tone as he spoke.
"It's mine, too, you know, sir," he said quietly.
The father was impressed of a sudden with the fact that, while
this affair was of supreme import to himself, it was, after all,
of still greater significance to his son. To himself, the chief
concerns were of the worldly kind. To this boy, the vital thing
was something deeper, something of the heart: for, however absurd
his feeling, the truth remained that he loved the woman. Yes, it
was the son's name that Mary Turner had taken, as well as that of
his father. In the case of the son, she had taken not only his
name, but his very life. Yes, it was, indeed, Dick's tragedy.
Whatever he, the father, might feel, the son was, after all, more
affected. He must suffer more, must lose more, must pay more
with happiness for his folly.
Gilder looked at his son with a strange, new respect, but he
could not let the situation go without protest, protest of the
"Dick," he cried, and his big voice was shaken a little by the
force of his emotion; "boy, you are all I have in the world. You
will have to free yourself from this woman somehow." He stood
very erect, staring steadfastly out of his clear gray eyes into
those of his son. His heavy face was rigid with feeling; the
coarse mouth bent slightly in a smile of troubled fondness, as he
added more softly: "You owe me that much."
The son's eyes met his father's freely. There was respect in
them, and affection, but there was something else, too, something
the older man recognized as beyond his control. He spoke
gravely, with a deliberate conviction.
"I owe something to her, too, Dad."
But Gilder would not let the statement go unchallenged. His heavy
voice rang out rebukingly, overtoned with protest.
"What can you owe her?" he demanded indignantly. "She tricked
you into the marriage. Why, legally, it's not even that.
There's been nothing more than a wedding ceremony. The courts
hold that that is only a part of the marriage actually. The fact
that she doesn't receive you makes it simpler, too. It can be
arranged. We must get you out of the scrape."
He turned and went to the desk, as if to sit, but he was halted
by his son's answer, given very gently, yet with a note of
finality that to the father's ear rang like the crack of doom.
"I'm not sure that I want to get out of it, father."
That was all, but those plain words summed the situation, made
the issue a matter not of advice, but of the heart.
Gilder persisted, however, in trying to evade the integral fact
of his son's feeling. Still he tried to fix the issue on the
known unsavory reputation of the woman.
"You want to stay married to this jail-bird!" he stormed.
A gust of fury swept the boy. He loved the woman, in spite of
all; he respected her, even reverenced her. To hear her thus
named moved him to a rage almost beyond his control. But he
mastered himself. He remembered that the man who spoke loved
him; he remembered, too, that the word of opprobrium was no more
than the truth, however offensive it might be to his
sensitiveness. He waited a moment until he could hold his voice
even. Then his words were the sternest protest that could have
been uttered, though they came from no exercise of thought, only
out of the deeps of his heart.
"I'm very fond of her."
That was all. But the simple sincerity of the saying griped the
father's mood, as no argument could have done. There was a
little silence. After all, what could meet such loving loyalty?
When at last he spoke, Gilder's voice was subdued, a little
"Now, that you know?" he questioned.
There was no faltering in the answer.
"Now, that I know," Dick said distinctly. Then abruptly, the
young man spoke with the energy of perfect faith in the woman.
"Don't you see, father? Why, she is justified in a way, in her
own mind anyhow, I mean. She was innocent when she was sent to
prison. She feels that the world owes her----"
But the older man would not permit the assertion to go
uncontradicted. That reference to the woman's innocence was an
arraignment of himself, for it had been he who sent her to the
term of imprisonment.
"Don't talk to me about her innocence!" he said, and his voice
was ominous. "I suppose next you will argue that, because she's
been clever enough to keep within the law, since she's got out of
State Prison, she's not a criminal. But let me tell you--crime
is crime, whether the law touches it in the particular case, or
whether it doesn't."
Gilder faced his son sternly for a moment, and then presently
spoke again with deeper earnestness.
"There's only one course open to you, my boy. You must give this
The son met his father's gaze with a level look in which there
was no weakness.
"I've told you, Dad----" he began.
"You must, I tell you," the father insisted. Then he went on
quickly, with a tone of utmost positiveness. "If you don't, what
are you going to do the day your wife is thrown into a patrol
wagon and carried to Police Headquarters--for it's sure to
happen? The cleverest of people make mistakes, and some day
she'll make one."
Dick threw out his hands in a gesture of supreme denial. He was
furious at this supposition that she would continue in her
But the father went on remorselessly.
"They will stand her up where the detectives will walk past her
with masks on their faces. Her picture, of course, is already in
the Rogues' Gallery, but they will take another. Yes, and the
imprints of her fingers, and the measurements of her body."
The son was writhing under the words. The woman of whom these
things were said was the woman whom he loved. It was blasphemy
to think of her in such case, subjected to the degradation of
these processes. Yet, every word had in it the piercing, horrible
sting of truth. His face whitened. He raised a supplicating
"That's what they will do to your wife," Gilder went on harshly;
"to the woman who bears your name and mine." There was a little
pause, and the father stood rigid, menacing. The final question
came rasping. "What are you going to do about it?"
Dick went forward until he was close to his father. Then he spoke
with profound conviction.
"It will never happen. She will go straight, Dad. That I know.
You would know it if you only knew her as I do."
Gilder once again put his hand tenderly on his son's shoulder.
His voice was modulated to an unaccustomed mildness as he spoke.
"Be sensible, boy," he pleaded softly. "Be sensible!"
Dick dropped down on the couch, and made his answer very gently,
his eyes unseeing as he dwelt on the things he knew of the woman
"Why, Dad," he said, "she is young. She's just like a child in a
hundred ways. She loves the trees and the grass and the
flowers--and everything that's simple and real! And as for her
heart--" His voice was low and very tender: "Why, her heart is
the biggest I've ever known. It's just overflowing with
sweetness and kindness. I've seen her pick up a baby that had
fallen in the street, and mother it in a way that--well, no one
could do it as she did it, unless her soul was clean."
The father was silent, a little awed. He made an effort to shake
off the feeling, and spoke with a sneer.
"You heard what she said yesterday, and you still are such a fool
as to think that."
The answer of the son came with an immutable finality, the
sublime faith of love.
"I don't think--I know!"
Gilder was in despair. What argument could avail him? He cried
out sharply in desperation.
"Do you realize what you're doing? Don't go to smash, Dick, just
at the beginning of your life. Oh, I beg you, boy, stop! Put
this girl out of your thoughts and start fresh."
The reply was of the simplest, and it was the end of argument.
"Father," Dick said, very gently, "I can't."
There followed a little period of quiet between the two. The
father, from his desk, stood facing his son, who thus denied him
in all honesty because the heart so commanded. The son rested
motionless and looked with unflinching eyes into his father's
face. In the gaze of each was a great affection.
"You're all I have, my boy," the older man said at last. And now
the big voice was a mildest whisper of love.
"Yes, Dad," came the answer--another whisper, since it is hard to
voice the truth of feeling such as this. "If I could avoid it, I
wouldn't hurt you for anything in the world. I'm sorry, Dad,
awfully sorry----" He hesitated, then his voice rang out clearly.
There was in his tone, when he spoke again, a recognition of that
loneliness which is the curse and the crown of being:
"But," he ended, "I must fight this out by myself--fight it out
in my own way.... And I'm going to do it!"
CHAPTER XVI. BURKE PLOTS.
The butler entered.
"A man to see you, sir," he said.
Gilder made a gesture of irritation, as he sank into the chair at
"I can't see any one to-night, Thomas," he exclaimed, sharply.
"But he said it was most important, sir," the servant went on.
He held out the tray insistently.
The master took the card grudgingly. As his eyes caught the
name, his expression changed slightly.
"Very well," he said, "show him up." His glance met the
wondering gaze of his son.
"It's Burke," he explained.
"What on earth can he want--at this time of night?" Dick
The father smiled grimly.
"You may as well get used to visits from the police." There was
something ghastly in the effort toward playfulness.
A moment later, Inspector Burke entered the room.
"Oh, you're here, too," he said, as his eyes fell on Dick.
"That's good. I wanted to see you, too."
Inspector Burke was, in fact, much concerned over the situation
that had developed. He was a man of undoubted ability, and he
took a keen professional pride in his work. He possessed the
faults of his class, was not too scrupulous where he saw a safe
opportunity to make a snug sum of money through the employment of
his official authority, was ready to buckle to those whose
influence could help or hinder his ambition. But, in spite of
these ordinary defects, he was fond of his work and wishful to
excel in it. Thus, Mary Turner had come to be a thorn in his
side. She flouted his authority and sustained her incredible
effrontery by a restraining order from the court. The thing was
outrageous to him, and he set himself to match her cunning. The
fact that she had involved Dick Gilder within her toils made him
the more anxious to overcome her in the strife of resources
between them. After much studying, he had at last planned
something that, while it would not directly touch Mary herself,
would at least serve to intimidate her, and as well make further
action easier against her. It was in pursuit of this scheme that
he now came to Gilder's house, and the presence of the young man
abruptly gave him another idea that might benefit him well. So,
he disregarded Gilder's greeting, and went on speaking to the
"She's skipped!" he said, triumphantly.
Dick made a step forward. His eyes flashed, and there was anger
in his voice as he replied:
"I don't believe it."
The Inspector smiled, unperturbed.
"She left this morning for Chicago," he said, lying with a manner
that long habit rendered altogether convincing. "I told you
she'd go." He turned to the father, and spoke with an air of
boastful good nature. "Now, all you have to do is to get this boy
out of the scrape and you'll be all right."
"If we only could!" The cry came with deepest earnestness from
the lips of Gilder, but there was little hope in his voice.
The Inspector, however, was confident of success, and his tones
rang cheerfully as he answered:
"I guess we can find a way to have the marriage annulled, or
whatever they do to marriages that don't take."
The brutal assurance of the man in thus referring to things that
were sacred, moved Dick to wrath.
"Don't you interfere," he said. His words were spoken softly,
Nevertheless, Burke held to the topic, but an indefinable change
in his manner rendered it less offensive to the young man.
"Interfere! Huh!" he ejaculated, grinning broadly. "Why, that's
what I'm paid to do. Listen to me, son. The minute you begin
mixing up with crooks, you ain't in a position to give orders to
any one. The crooks have got no rights in the eyes of the
police. Just remember that."
The Inspector spoke the simple truth as he knew it from years of
experience. The theory of the law is that a presumption of
innocence exists until the accused is proven guilty. But the
police are out of sympathy with such finical methods. With them,
the crook is presumed guilty at the outset of whatever may be
charged against him. If need be, there will be proof a-plenty
against him--of the sort that the underworld knows to its sorrow.
But Dick was not listening. His thoughts were again wholly with
the woman he loved, who, as the Inspector declared, had fled from
"Where's she gone in Chicago?"
Burke answered in his usual gruff fashion, but with a note of
kindliness that was not without its effect on Dick.
"I'm no mind-reader," he said. "But she's a swell little girl,
all right. I've got to hand it to her for that. So, she'll
probably stop at the Blackstone--that is, until the Chicago
police are tipped off that she is in town."
Of a sudden, the face of the young man took on a totally
different expression. Where before had been anger, now was a
vivid eagerness. He went close to the Inspector, and spoke with
"Burke," he said, pleadingly, "give me a chance. I'll leave for
Chicago in the morning. Give me twenty-four hours start before
you begin hounding her."
The Inspector regarded the speaker searchingly. His heavy face
was drawn in an expression of apparent doubt. Abruptly, then, he
"Seems reasonable," he admitted.
But the father strode to his son.
"No, no, Dick," he cried. "You shall not go! You shall not go!"
Burke, however, shook his head in remonstrance against Gilder's
plea. His huge voice came booming, weightily impressive.
"Why not?" he questioned. "It's a fair gamble. And, besides, I
like the boy's nerve."
Dick seized on the admission eagerly.
"And you'll agree?" he cried.
"Yes, I'll agree," the Inspector answered.
"Thank you," Dick said quietly.
But the father was not content. On the contrary, he went toward
the two hurriedly, with a gesture of reproval.
"You shall not go, Dick," he declared, imperiously.
The Inspector shot a word of warning to Gilder in an aside that
Dick could not hear.
"Keep still," he replied. "It's all right."
Dick went on speaking with a seriousness suited to the magnitude
of his interests.
"You give me your word, Inspector," he said, "that you won't
notify the police in Chicago until I've been there twenty-four
"You're on," Burke replied genially. "They won't get a whisper
out of me until the time is up." He swung about to face the
father, and there was a complete change in his manner. "Now,
then, Mr. Gilder," he said briskly, "I want to talk to you about
another little matter----"
Dick caught the suggestion, and interrupted quickly.
"Then I'll go." He smiled rather wanly at his father. "You
know, Dad, I'm sorry, but I've got to do what I think is the
Burke helped to save the situation from the growing tenseness.
"Sure," he cried heartily; "sure you have. That's the best any
of us can do." He watched keenly as the young man went out of
the room. It was not until the door was closed after Dick that
he spoke. Then he dropped to a seat on the couch, and proceeded
to make his confidences to the magnate.
"He'll go to Chicago in the morning, you think, don't you?"
"Certainly," Gilder answered. "But I don't like it."
Burke slapped his leg with an enthusiasm that might have broken a
"Best thing that could have happened!" he vociferated. And then,
as Gilder regarded him in astonishment, he added, chuckling: "You
see, he won't find her there."
"Why do you think that?" Gilder demanded, greatly puzzled.
Burke permitted himself the luxury of laughing appreciatively a
moment more before making his exclamation. Then he said quietly:
"Because she didn't go there."
"Where did she go, then?" Gilder queried wholly at a loss.
Once again the officer chuckled. It was evident that he was well
pleased with his own ingenuity.
"Nowhere yet," he said at last. "But, just about the time he's
starting for the West I'll have her down at Headquarters.
Demarest will have her indicted before noon. She'll go for trial
in the afternoon. And to-morrow night she'll be sleeping up the
river.... That's where she is going."
Gilder stood motionless for a moment. After all, he was an
ordinary citizen, quite unfamiliar with the recondite methods
familiar to the police.
"But," he said, wonderingly, "you can't do that."
The Inspector laughed, a laugh of disingenuous amusement, for he
understood perfectly the lack of comprehension on the part of his
"Well," he said, and his voice sank into a modest rumble that was
none the less still thunderous. "Perhaps I can't!" And then he
beamed broadly, his whole face smiling blandly on the man who
doubted his power. "Perhaps I can't," he repeated. Then the
chuckle came again, and he added emphatically: "But I will!"
Suddenly, his heavy face grew hard. His alert eyes shone
fiercely, with a flash of fire that was known to every patrolman
who had ever reported to the desk when he was lieutenant. His
heavy jaw shot forward aggressively as he spoke.
"Think I'm going to let that girl make a joke of the Police
Department? Why, I'm here to get her--to stop her anyhow. Her
gang is going to break into your house to-night."
"What?" Gilder demanded. "You mean, she's coming here as a
"Not exactly," Inspector Burke confessed, "but her pals are
coming to try to pull off something right here. She wouldn't
come, not if I know her. She's too clever for that. Why, if she
knew what Garson was planning to do, she'd stop him."
The Inspector paused suddenly. For a long minute his face was
seamed with thought. Then, he smote his thigh with a blow strong
enough to kill an ox. His face was radiant.
"By God! I've got her!" he cried. The inspiration for which he
had longed was his at last. He went to the desk where the
telephone was, and took up the receiver.
"Give me 3100 Spring," he said. As he waited for the connection
he smiled widely on the astonished Gilder. " 'Tain't too late,"
he said joyously. "I must have been losing my mind not to have
thought of it before." The impact of sounds on his ear from the
receiver set him to attention.
"Headquarters?" he called. "Inspector Burke speaking. Who's in
my office? I want him quick." He smiled as he listened, and he
spoke again to Gilder. "It's Smith, the best man I have. That's
luck, if you ask me." Then again he spoke into the mouthpiece of
"Oh, Ed, send some one up to that Turner woman. You have the
address. Just see that she is tipped off, that Joe Garson and
some pals are going to break into Edward Gilder's house to-night.
Get some stool-pigeon to hand her the information. You'd better
get to work damned quick. Understand?"
The Inspector pulled out that watch of which Aggie Lynch had
spoken so avariciously, and glanced at it, then went on speaking:
"It's ten-thirty now. She went to the Lyric Theater with some
woman. Get her as she leaves, or find her back at her own place
later. You'll have to hustle, anyhow. That's all!"
The Inspector hung up the receiver and faced his host with a
"What good will all that do?" Gilder demanded, impatiently.
Burke explained with a satisfaction natural to one who had
devised something ingenious and adequate. This inspiration filled
him with delight. At last he was sure of catching Mary Turner
herself in his toils.
"She'll come to stop 'em," he said. "When we get the rest of the
gang, we'll grab her, too. Why, I almost forgot her, thinking
about Garson. Mr. Gilder, you would hardly believe it, but
there's scarcely been a real bit of forgery worth while done in
this country for the last twenty years, that Garson hasn't been
mixed up in. We've never once got him right in all that time."
The Inspector paused to chuckle. "Crooks are funny," he
explained with obvious contentment. "Clever as he is, Garson let
Griggs talk him into a second-story job, and now we'll get him
with the goods.... Just call your man for a minute, will you, Mr.
Gilder pressed the electric button on his desk. At the same
moment, through the octagonal window came a blinding flash of
light that rested for seconds, then vanished. Burke, by no means
a nervous man, nevertheless was startled by the mysterious
"What's that?" he demanded, sharply.
"It's the flashlight from the Metropolitan Tower," Gilder
explained with a smile over the policeman's perturbation. "It
swings around this way about every fifteen minutes. The servant
forgot to draw the curtains." As he spoke, he went to the
window, and pulled the heavy draperies close. "It won't bother
The entrance of the butler brought the Inspector's thoughts back
to the matter in hand.
"My man," he said, authoritatively, "I want you to go up to the
roof and open the scuttle. You'll find some men waiting up
there. Bring 'em down here."
The servant's usually impassive face showed astonishment, not
unmixed with dismay, and he looked doubtfully toward his master,
who nodded reassuringly.
"Oh, they won't hurt you," the Inspector declared, as he noticed
the man's hesitation. "They're police officers. You get 'em down
here, and then you go to bed and stay there till morning.
Again, the butler looked at his master for guidance in this very
peculiar affair, as he deemed it. Receiving another nod, he
"Very well, sir." He regarded the Inspector with a certain
helpless indignation over this disturbance of the natural order,
and left the room.
Gilder himself was puzzled over the situation, which was by no
means clear to him.
"How do you know they're going to break into the house to-night?"
he demanded of Burke; "or do you only think they're going to
break into the house?"
"I know they are." The Inspector's harsh voice brought out the
words boastfully. "I fixed it."
"You did!" There was wonder in the magnate's exclamation.
"Sure," Burke declared complacently, "did it through a
"Oh, an informer," Gilder interrupted, a little doubtfully.
"Yes," Burke agreed. "Stool-pigeon is the police name for him.
Really, he's the vilest thing that crawls."
"But, if you think that," Gilder expostulated, "why do you have
anything to do with that sort of person?"
"Because it's good business," the Inspector replied. "We know
he's a spy and a traitor, and that every time he comes near us we
ought to use a disinfectant. But we deal with him just the
same--because we have to. Now, the stool-pigeon in this trick is
a swell English crook. He went to Garson yesterday with a scheme
to rob your house. He tried out Mary Turner, too, but she
wouldn't stand for it--said it would break the law, which is
contrary to her principles. She told Garson to leave it alone.
But he met Griggs afterward without her knowing anything about
it, and then he agreed to pull it off. Griggs got word to me
that it's coming off to-night. And so, you see, Mr. Gilder,
that's how I know. Do you get me?"
"I see," Gilder admitted without any enthusiasm. As a matter of
fact, he felt somewhat offended that his house should be thus
summarily seized as a trap for criminals.
"But why do you have your men come down over the roof?" he
"It wasn't safe to bring them in the front way," was the
Inspector's prompt reply. "It's a cinch the house is being
watched. I wish you would let me have your latch-key. I want to
come back, and make this collar myself."
The owner of the house obediently took the desired key from his
ring and gave it to the Inspector with a shrug of resignation.
"But, why not stay, now that you are here?" he asked.
"Huh!" Burke retorted. "Suppose some of them saw me come in?
There wouldn't be anything doing until after they see me go out
The hall door opened and the butler reentered the room. Behind
him came Cassidy and two other detectives in plain clothes. At a
word from his master, the disturbed Thomas withdrew with the
intention of obeying the Inspector's directions that he should
retire to bed and stay there, carefully avoiding whatever
possibilities of peril there might be in the situation so foreign
to his ideals of propriety.
"Now," Burke went on briskly, as the door closed behind the
servant, "where could these men stay out of sight until they're
There followed a little discussion which ended in the selection
of a store-room at the end of the passage on the ground floor, on
which one of the library doors opened.
"You see," Burke explained to Gilder, when this matter had been
settled to his satisfaction, and while Cassidy and the other
detectives were out of the library on a tour of inspection, "you
must have things right, when it comes to catching crooks on a
frame-up like this. I had these men come to Number Twenty-six on
the other street, then round the block on the roofs."
Gilder nodded appreciation which was not actually sincere. It
seemed to him that such elaborate manoeuvering was, in truth,
"And now, Mr. Gilder," the Inspector said energetically, "I'm
going to give you the same tip I gave your man. Go to bed, and
"But the boy," Gilder protested. "What about him? He's the one
thing of importance to me."
"If he says anything more about going to Chicago--just you let
him go, that's all! It's the best place for him for the next few
days. I'll get in touch with you in the morning and let you know
then how things are coming out."
Gilder sighed resignedly. His heavy face was lined with anxiety.
There was a hesitation in his manner of speech that was wholly
unlike its usual quick decisiveness.
"I don't like this sort of thing," he said, doubtfully. "I let
you go ahead because I can't suggest any alternative, but I don't
like it, not at all. It seems to me that other methods might be
employed with excellent results without the element of treachery
which seems to involve me as well as you in our efforts to
overcome this woman."
Burke, however, had no qualms as to such plotting.
"You must have crooked ways to catch crooks, believe me," he said
cheerfully. "It's the easiest and quickest way out of the
trouble for us, and the easiest and quickest way into trouble for
The return of the detectives caused him to break off, and he gave
his attention to the final arrangements of his men.
"You're in charge here," he said to Cassidy, "and I hold you
responsible. Now, listen to this, and get it." His coarse voice
came with a grating note of command. "I'm coming back to get this
bunch myself, and I'll call you when you're wanted. You'll wait
in the store-room out there and don't make a move till you hear
from me, unless by any chance things go wrong and you get a call
from Griggs. You know who he is. He's got a whistle, and he'll
use it if necessary.... Got that straight?" And, when Cassidy
had declared an entire understanding of the directions given, he
concluded concisely. "On your way, then!"
As the men left the room, he turned again to Gilder.
"Just one thing more," he said. "I'll have to have your help a
little longer. After I've gone, I want you to stay up for a
half-hour anyhow, with the lights burning. Do you see? I want to
be sure to give the Turner woman time to get here while that gang
is at work. Your keeping on the lights will hold them back, for
they won't come in till the house is dark, so, in half an hour
you can get off the job, switch off the lights and go to bed and
stay there--just as I told you before." Then Inspector Burke,
having in mind the great distress of the man over the unfortunate
entanglement of his son, was at pains to offer a reassuring word.
"Don't worry about the boy," he said, with grave kindliness.
"We'll get him out of this scrape all right." And with the
assertion he bustled out, leaving the unhappy father to miserable
CHAPTER XVII. OUTSIDE THE LAW.
Gilder scrupulously followed the directions of the Police
Inspector. Uneasily, he had remained in the library until the
allotted time was elapsed. He fidgeted from place to place, his
mind heavy with distress under the shadow that threatened to
blight the life of his cherished son. Finally, with a sense of
relief he put out the lights and went to his chamber. But he did
not follow the further directions given him, for he was not
minded to go to bed. Instead, he drew the curtains closely to
make sure that no gleam of light could pass them, and then sat
with a cigar between his lips, which he did not smoke, though
from time to time he was at pains to light it. His thoughts were
most with his son, and ever as he thought of Dick, his fury waxed
against the woman who had enmeshed the boy in her plotting for
vengeance on himself. And into his thoughts now crept a doubt,
one that alarmed his sense of justice. It occurred to him that
this woman could not have thus nourished a plan for retribution
through the years unless, indeed, she had been insane, even as he
had claimed--or innocent! The idea was appalling. He could not
bear to admit the possibility of having been the involuntary
inflicter of such wrong as to send the girl to prison for an
offense she had not committed. He rejected the suggestion, but
it persisted. He knew the clean, wholesome nature of his son.
It seemed to him incredible that the boy could have thus given
his heart to one altogether undeserving. A horrible suspicion
that he had misjudged Mary Turner crept into his brain, and would
not out. He fought it with all the strength of him, and that was
much, but ever it abode there. He turned for comfort to the
things Burke had said. The woman was a crook, and there was an
end of it. Her ruse of spoliation within the law was evidence of
her shrewdness, nothing more.
Mary Turner herself, too, was in a condition utterly wretched,
and for the same cause--Dick Gilder. That source of the father's
suffering was hers as well. She had won her ambition of years,
revenge on the man who had sent her to prison. And now the joy
of it was a torture, for the puppet of her plans, the son, had
suddenly become the chief thing in her life. She had taken it
for granted that he would leave her after he came to know that
her marriage to him was only a device to bring shame on his
father. Instead, he loved her. That fact seemed the secret of
her distress. He loved her. More, he dared believe, and to
assert boldly, that she loved him. Had he acted otherwise, the
matter would have been simple enough.... But he loved her, loved
her still, though he knew the shame that had clouded her life,
knew the motive that had led her to accept him as a husband.
More--by a sublime audacity, he declared that she loved him.
There came a thrill in her heart each time she thought of
that--that she loved him. The idea was monstrous, of course, and
yet---- Here, as always, she broke off, a hot flush blazing in
her cheeks.... Nevertheless, such curious fancies pursued her
through the hours. She strove her mightiest to rid herself of
them, but in vain. Ever they persisted. She sought to oust them
by thinking of any one else, of Aggie, of Joe. There at last was
satisfaction. Her interference between the man who had saved her
life and the temptation of the English crook had prevented a
dangerous venture, which might have meant ruin to the one whom
she esteemed for his devotion to her, if for no other reason. At
least, she had kept him from the outrageous folly of an ordinary
Mary Turner was just ready for bed after her evening at the
theater, when she was rudely startled out of this belief. A note
came by a messenger who waited for no answer, as he told the
yawning maid. As Mary read the roughly scrawled message, she was
caught in the grip of terror. Some instinct warned her that this
danger was even worse than it seemed. The man who had saved her
from death had yielded to temptation. Even now, he was engaged in
committing that crime which she had forbidden him. As he had
saved her, so she must save him. She hurried into the gown she
had just put off. Then she went to the telephone-book and
searched for the number of Gilder's house.
* * * * *
It was just a few moments before Mary Turner received the note
from the hands of the sleepy maid that one of the leaves of the
octagonal window in the library of Richard Gilder's town house
swung open, under the persuasive influence of a thin rod of
steel, cunningly used, and Joe Garson stepped confidently into
the dark room.
A faint radiance of moonlight from without showed him for a
second as he passed between the heavy draperies. Then these fell
into place, and he was invisible, and soundless as well. For a
space, he rested motionless, listening intently. Reassured, he
drew out an electric torch and set it glowing. A little disc of
light touched here and there about the room, traveling very
swiftly, and in methodical circles. Satisfied by the survey,
Garson crossed to the hall door. He moved with alert assurance,
lithely balanced on the balls of his feet, noiselessly. At the
hall door he listened for any sound of life without, and found
none. The door into the passage that led to the store-room where
the detectives waited next engaged his business-like attention.
And here, again, there was naught to provoke his suspicion.
These preliminaries taken as measures of precaution, Garson went
boldly to the small table that stood behind the couch, turned the
button, and the soft glow of an electric lamp illumined the
apartment. The extinguished torch was thrust back into his
pocket. Afterward he carried one of the heavy chairs to the door
of the passage and propped it against the panel in such wise that
its fall must give warning as to the opening of the door. His
every action was performed with the maximum of speed, with no
least trace of flurry or of nervous haste. It was evident that
he followed a definite program, the fruit of precise thought
guided by experience.
It seemed to him that now everything was in readiness for the
coming of his associates in the commission of the crime. There
remained only to give them the signal in the room around the
corner where they waited at a telephone. He seated himself in
Gilder's chair at the desk, and drew the telephone to him.
"Give me 999 Bryant," he said. His tone was hardly louder than a
whisper, but spoken with great distinctness.
There was a little wait. Then an answer in a voice he knew came
over the wire.
But Garson said nothing more. Instead, he picked up a penholder
from the tray on the desk, and began tapping lightly on the rim
of the transmitter. It was a code message in Morse. In the room
around the corner, the tapping sounded clearly, ticking out the
message that the way was free for the thieves' coming.
When Garson had made an end of the telegraphing, there came a
brief answer in like Morse, to which he returned a short
For a final safeguard, Garson searched for and found the
telephone bell-box on the surbase below the octagonal window. It
was the work of only a few seconds to unscrew the bells, which he
placed on the desk. So simply he made provision against any
alarm from this source. He then took his pistol from his
hip-pocket, examined it to make sure that the silencer was
properly adjusted, and then thrust it into the right side-pocket
of his coat, ready for instant use in desperate emergency. Once
again, now, he produced the electric torch, and lighted it as he
extinguished the lamp on the table.
Forthwith, Garson went to the door into the hall, opened it, and,
leaving it ajar, made his way in silence to the outer doorway.
Presently, the doors there were freed of their bolts under his
skilled fingers, and one of them swung wide. He had put out the
torch now, lest its gleam might catch the gaze of some casual
passer-by. So nicely had the affair been timed that hardly was
the door open before the three men slipped in, and stood mute and
motionless in the hall, while Garson refastened the doors. Then,
a pencil of light traced the length of the hallway and Garson
walked quickly back to the library. Behind him with steps as
noiseless as his own came the three men to whom he had just given
When all were gathered in the library, Garson shut the hall door,
touched the button in the wall beside it, and the chandelier
threw its radiant light on the group.
Griggs was in evening clothes, seeming a very elegant young
gentleman indeed, but his two companions were of grosser type, as
far as appearances went: one, Dacey, thin and wiry, with a ferret
face; the other, Chicago Red, a brawny ruffian, whose stolid
features nevertheless exhibited something of half-sullen good
"Everything all right so far," Garson said rapidly. He turned to
Griggs and pointed toward the heavy hangings that shrouded the
octagonal window. "Are those the things we want?" he demanded.
"Yes," was the answer of English Eddie.
"Well, then, we've got to get busy," Garson went on. His alert,
strong face was set in lines of eagerness that had in it
something of fierceness now.
But, before he could add a direction, he was halted by a soft
buzzing from the telephone, which, though bell-less, still gave
this faint warning of a call. For an instant, he hesitated while
the others regarded him doubtfully. The situation offered
perplexities. To give no attention to the summons might be
perilous, and failure to respond might provoke investigation in
some urgent matter; to answer it might easily provide a larger
"We've got to take a chance." Garson spoke his decision curtly.
He went to the desk and put the receiver to his ear.
There came again the faint tapping of some one at the other end
of the line, signaling a message in the Morse code. An
expression of blank amazement, which grew in a flash to deep
concern, showed on Garson's face as he listened tensely.
"Why, this is Mary calling," he muttered.
"Mary!" Griggs cried. His usual vacuity of expression was cast
off like a mask and alarm twisted his features. Then, in the next
instant, a crafty triumph gleamed from his eyes.
"Yes, she's on," Garson interpreted, a moment later, as the
tapping ceased for a little. He translated in a loud whisper as
the irregular ticking noise sounded again.
"I shall be there at the house almost at once. I am sending this
message from the drug store around the corner. Have some one
open the door for me immediately."
"She's coming over," Griggs cried incredulously.
"No, I'll stop her," Garson declared firmly.
"Right! Stop her," Chicago Red vouchsafed.
But, when, after tapping a few words, the forger paused for the
reply, no sound came.
"She don't answer," he exclaimed, greatly disconcerted. He tried
again, still without result. At that, he hung up the receiver
with a groan. "She's gone----"
"On her way already," Griggs suggested, and there was none to
doubt that it was so.
"What's she coming here for?" Garson exclaimed harshly. "This
ain't no place for her! Why, if anything should go wrong now----"
But Griggs interrupted him with his usual breezy cheerfulness of
"Oh, nothing can go wrong now, old top. I'll let her in." He
drew a small torch from the skirt-pocket of his coat and crossed
to the hall door, as Garson nodded assent.
"God! Why did she have to come?" Garson muttered, filled with
forebodings. "If anything should go wrong now!"
He turned back toward the door just as it opened, and Mary darted
into the room with Griggs following. "What do you want here?" he
demanded, with peremptory savageness in his voice, which was a
tone he had never hitherto used in addressing her.
Mary went swiftly to face Garson where he stood by the desk,
while Griggs joined the other two men who stood shuffling about
uneasily by the fireplace, at a loss over this intrusion on their
scheme. Mary moved with a lissome grace like that of some wild
creature, but as she halted opposite the man who had given her
back the life she would have thrown away, there was only tender
pleading in her voice, though her words were an arraignment.
"Joe, you lied to me."
"That can be settled later," the man snapped. His jaw was thrust
forward obstinately, and his clear eyes sparkled defiantly.
"You are fools, all of you!" Mary cried. Her eyes darkened and
distended with fear. They darted from Garson to the other three
men, and back again in rebuke. "Yes, fools! This is burglary. I
can't protect you if you are caught. How can I? Oh, come!" She
held out her hands pleadingly toward Garson, and her voice
dropped to beseeching. "Joe, Joe, you must get away from this
house at once, all of you. Joe, make them go."
"It's too late," was the stern answer. There was no least
relaxation in the stubborn lines of his face. "We're here now,
and we'll stay till the business is done."
Mary went a step forward. The cloak she was wearing was thrown
back by her gesture of appeal so that those watching saw the
snowy slope of the shoulders and the quick rise and fall of the
gently curving bosom. The beautiful face within the framing scarf
was colorless with a great fear, save only the crimson lips, of
which the bow was bent tremulously as she spoke her prayer.
"Joe, for my sake!"
But the man was inexorable. He had set himself to this thing,
and even the urging of the one person in the world for whom he
most cared was powerless against his resolve.
"I can't quit now until we've got what we came here after," he
Of a sudden, the girl made shift to employ another sort of
"But there are reasons," she said, faltering. A certain
embarrassment swept her, and the ivory of her cheeks bloomed
rosily. "I--I can't have you rob this house, this particular
house of all the world." Her eyes leaped from the still obdurate
face of the forger to the group of three back of him. Her voice
was shaken with a great dread as she called out to them.
"Boys, let's get away! Please, oh, please! Joe, for God's sake!"
Her tone was a sob.
Her anguish of fear did not swerve Garson from his purpose.
"I'm going to see this through," he said, doggedly.
"It's settled, I tell you."
In the man's emphasis the girl realized at last the inefficacy of
her efforts to combat his will. She seemed to droop visibly
before their eyes. Her head sank on her breast. Her voice was
husky as she tried to speak.
"Then----" She broke off with a gesture of despair, and turned
away toward the door by which she had entered.
But, with a movement of great swiftness, Garson got in front of
her, and barred her going. For a few seconds the two stared at
each other searchingly as if learning new and strange things,
each of the other. In the girl's expression was an outraged
wonder and a great terror. In the man's was a half-shamed pride,
as if he exulted in the strength with which he had been able to
maintain his will against her supreme effort to overthrow it.
"You can't go," Garson said sharply. "You might be caught."
"And if I were," Mary demanded in a flash of indignation, "do you
think I'd tell?"
There came an abrupt change in the hard face of the man. Into
the piercing eyes flamed a softer fire of tenderness. The firm
mouth grew strangely gentle as he replied, and his voice was
overtoned with faith.
"Of course not, Mary," he said. "I know you. You would go up
for life first."
Then again his expression became resolute, and he spoke
"Just the same, you can't take any chances. We'll all get away
in a minute, and you'll come with us." He turned to the men and
spoke with swift authority.
"Come," he said to Dacey, "you get to the light switch there by
the hall door. If you hear me snap my fingers, turn 'em off.
With instant obedience, the man addressed went to his station by
the hall door, and stood ready to control the electric current.
The distracted girl essayed one last plea. The momentary
softening of Garson had given her new courage.
"Joe, don't do this."
"You can't stop it now, Mary," came the brisk retort. "Too late.
You're only wasting time, making it dangerous for all of us."
Again he gave his attention to carrying on the robbery.
"Red," he ordered, "you get to that door." He pointed to the one
that gave on the passageway against which he had set the chair
tilted. As the man obeyed, Garson gave further instructions.
"If any one comes in that way, get him and get him quick. You
understand? Don't let him cry out."
Chicago Red grinned with cheerful acceptance of the issue in such
an encounter. He held up his huge hand, widely open.
"Not a chance," he declared, proudly, "with that over his mug."
To avoid possible interruption of his movements in an emergency,
he removed the chair Garson had placed and set it to one side,
out of the way.
"Now, let's get to work," Garson continued eagerly. Mary spoke
with the bitterness of defeat.
"Listen, Joe! If you do this, I'm through with you. I quit."
Garson was undismayed by the threat.
"If this goes through," he countered, "we'll all quit. That's why
I'm doing it. I'm sick of the game."
He turned to the work in hand with increased energy.
"Come, you, Griggs and Red, and push that desk down a bit so that
I can stand on it." The two men bent to the task, heedless of
Mary's frantic protest.
"No! no! no! no! no, Joe!"
Red, however, suddenly straightened from the desk and stood
motionless, listening. He made a slight hissing noise that
arrested the attention of the others and held them in moveless
"I hear something," he whispered. He went to the keyhole of the
door leading into the passage. Then he whispered again, "And
it's coming this way."
At the words, Garson snapped his fingers. The room was plunged
CHAPTER XVIII. THE NOISELESS DEATH.
There was absolute silence in the library after the turning of
the switch that brought the pall of darkness. Long seconds
passed, then a little noise--the knob of the passage door
turning. As the door swung open, there came a gasping breath
from Mary, for she saw framed in the faint light that came from
the single burner in the corridor the slender form of her
husband, Dick Gilder. In the next instant he had stepped within
the room and pulled to the door behind him. And in that same
instant Chicago Red had pounced on his victim, the huge hand
clapped tight over the young man's mouth. Even as his powerful
arm held the newcomer in an inescapable embrace, there came a
sound of scuffling feet and that was all. Finally the big man's
voice came triumphantly.
"I've got him."
"It's Dick!" The cry came as a wail of despair from the girl.
At the same moment, Garson flashed his torch, and the light fell
swiftly on young Gilder, bowed to a kneeling posture before the
couch, half-throttled by the strength of Chicago Red. Close
beside him, Mary looked down in wordless despair over this final
disaster of the night. There was silence among the men, all of
whom save the captor himself were gathered near the fireplace.
Garson retired a step farther before he spoke his command, so
that, though he held the torch still, he like the others was in
shadow. Only Mary was revealed clearly as she bent in alarm
toward the man she had married. It was borne in on the forger's
consciousness that the face of the woman leaning over the
intruder was stronger to hold the prisoner and to prevent any
outcry than the might of Chicago Red himself, and so he gave the
"Get away, Red."
The fellow let go his grip obediently enough, though with a
trifle of regret, since he gloried in his physical prowess.
Thus freed of that strangling embrace, Dick stumbled blindly to
his feet. Then, mechanically, his hand went to the lamp on the
table back of the couch. In the same moment Garson snapped his
torch to darkness. When, after a little futile searching, Dick
finally found the catch, and the mellow streamed forth, he
uttered an ejaculation of stark amazement, for his gaze was
riveted on the face of the woman he loved.
"Good God!" It was a cry of torture wrung from his soul of souls.
Mary swayed toward him a little, palpitant with fear --fear for
herself, for all of them, most of all for him.
"Hush! hush!" she panted warningly. "Oh, Dick, you don't
Dick's hand was at his throat. It was not easy for him to speak
yet. He had suffered severely in the process of being throttled,
and, too, he was in the clutch of a frightful emotion. To find
her, his wife, in this place, in such company--her, the woman
whom he loved, whom, in spite of everything, he had honored, the
woman to whom he had given his name! Mary here! And thus!
"I understand this," he said brokenly at last. "Whether you ever
did it before or not, this time you have broken the law." A
sudden inspiration on his own behalf came to him. For his love's
sake, he must seize on this opportunity given of fate to him for
mastery. He went on with a new vehemence of boldness that became
"You're in my hands now. So are these men as well. Unless you do
as I say, Mary, I'll jail every one of them."
Mary's usual quickness was not lacking even now, in this period
of extremity. Her retort was given without a particle of
"You can't," she objected with conviction. "I'm the only one
"That's soon remedied," Dick declared. He turned toward the hall
door as if with the intention of lighting the chandelier.
But Mary caught his arm pleadingly.
"Don't, Dick," she begged. "It's--it's not safe."
"I'm not afraid," was his indignant answer. He would have gone
on, but she clung the closer. He was reluctant to use over-much
force against the one whom he cherished so fondly.
There came a diversion from the man who had made the capture, who
was mightily wondering over the course of events, which was
wholly unlike anything in the whole of his own rather extensive
"Who's this, anyhow?" Chicago Red demanded.
There was a primitive petulance in his drawling tones.
Dick answered with conciseness enough.
"I'm her husband. Who are you?"
Mary called a soft admonition.
"Don't speak, any of you," she directed. "You mustn't let him
hear your voices."
Dick was exasperated by this persistent identification of herself
with these criminals in his father's house.
"You're fighting me like a coward," he said hotly. His voice was
bitter. The eyes that had always been warm in their glances on
her were chill now. He turned a little way from her, as if in
instinctive repugnance. "You are taking advantage of my love.
You think that because of it I can't make a move against these
men. Now, listen to me, I----"
"I won't!" Mary cried. Her words were shrill with mingled
emotions. "There's nothing to talk about," she went on wildly.
"There never can be between you and me."
The young man's voice came with a sonorous firmness that was new
to it. In these moments, the strength of him, nourished by
suffering, was putting forth its flower. His manner was
"There can be and there will be," he contradicted. He raised his
voice a little, speaking into the shadows where was the group of
"You men back there!" he cried. "If I give you my word to let
every one of you go free and pledge myself never to recognize one
of you again, will you make Mary here listen to me? That's all I
ask. I want a few minutes to state my case. Give me that.
Whether I win or lose, you men go free, and I'll forget
everything that has happened here to-night." There came a
muffled guffaw of laughter from the big chest of Chicago Red at
this extraordinarily ingenuous proposal, while Dacey chuckled
Dick made a gesture of impatience at this open derision.
"Tell them I can be trusted," he bade Mary curtly.
It was Garson who answered.
"I know that you can be trusted," he said, "because I know you
lo----" He checked himself with a shiver, and out of the darkness
his face showed white.
"You must listen," Dick went on, facing again toward the girl,
who was trembling before him, her eyes by turns searching his
expression or downcast in unfamiliar confusion, which she herself
could hardly understand.
"Your safety depends on me," the young man warned. "Suppose I
should call for help?"
Garson stepped forward threateningly.
"You would only call once," he said very gently, yet most grimly.
His hand went to the noiseless weapon in his coat-pocket.
But the young man's answer revealed the fact that he, too, was
determined to the utmost, that he understood perfectly the
"Once would be quite enough," he said simply.
Garson nodded in acceptance of the defeat. It may be, too, that
in some subtle fashion he admired this youth suddenly grown
resolute, competent to control a dangerous event. There was even
the possibility that some instinct of tenderness toward Mary
herself made him desire that this opportunity should be given for
wiping out the effects of misfortune which fate hitherto had
brought into her life.
"You win," Garson said, with a half-laugh. He turned to the
other men and spoke a command.
"You get over by the hall door, Red. And keep your ears open
every second. Give us the office if you hear anything. If we're
rushed, and have to make a quick get-away, see that Mary has the
first chance. Get that, all of you?"
As Chicago Red took up his appointed station, Garson turned to
"Make it quick, remember."
He touched the other two and moved back to the wall by the
fireplace, as far as possible from the husband and wife by the
Dick spoke at once, with a hesitancy that betrayed the depth of
"Don't you care for me at all?" he asked wistfully.
The girl's answer was uttered with nervous eagerness which
revealed her own stress of fear.
"No, no, no!" she exclaimed, rebelliously.
Now, however, the young man had regained some measure of
"I know you do, Mary," he asserted, confidently; "a little,
anyway. Why, Mary," he went on reproachfully, "can't you see
that you're throwing away everything that makes life worth while?
Don't you see that?"
There was no word from the girl. Her breast was moving
convulsively. She held her face steadfastly averted from the
face of her husband.
"Why don't you answer me?" he insisted.
Mary's reply came with all the coldness she could command.
"That was not in the bargain," Mary said, indifferently.
The man's voice grew tenderly winning, persuasive with the
longing of a lover, persuasive with the pity of the righteous for
"Mary, Mary!" he cried. "You've got to change. Don't be so hard.
Give the woman in you a chance."
The girl's form became rigid as she fought for self-control. The
plea touched to the bottom of her heart, but she could not, would
not yield. Her words rushed forth with a bitterness that was the
cover of her distress.
"I am what I am," she said sharply. "I can't change. Keep your
promise, now, and let's get out of this."
Her assertion was disregarded as to the inability to change.
"You can change," Dick went on impetuously. "Mary, haven't you
ever wanted the things that other women have, shelter, and care,
and the big things of life, the things worth while? They're all
ready for you, now, Mary.... And what about me?" Reproach leaped
in his tone. "After all, you've married me. Now it's up to you
to give me my chance to make good. I've never amounted to much.
I've never tried much. I shall, now, if you will have it so,
Mary; if you'll help me. I will come out all right, I know
that--so do you, Mary. Only, you must help me."
"I help you!" The exclamation came from the girl in a note of
"Yes," Dick said, simply. "I need you, and you need me. Come
away with me."
"No, no!" was the broken refusal. There was a great grief
clutching at the soul of this woman who had brought vengeance to
its full flower. She was gasping. "No, no! I married you, not
because I loved you, but to repay your father the wrong he had
done me. I wouldn't let myself even think of you, and then--I
realized that I had spoiled your life."
"No, not spoiled it, Mary! Blessed it! We must prove that yet."
"Yes, spoiled it," the wife went on passionately. "If I had
understood, if I could have dreamed that I could ever care----
Oh, Dick, I would never have married you for anything in the
"But now you do realize," the young man said quietly. "The thing
is done. If we made a mistake, it is for us to bring happiness
out of that error."
"Oh, can't you see?" came the stricken lament. "I'm a
"But you love me--you do love me, I know!" The young man spoke
with joyous certainty, for some inflection of her voice had told
the truth to his heart. Nothing else mattered. "But now, to come
back to this hole we're in here. Don't you understand, at last,
that you can't beat the law? If you're caught here to-night,
where would you get off--caught here with a gang of burglars?
Tell me, dear, why did you do it? Why didn't you protect
yourself? Why didn't you go to Chicago as you planned?"
"What?" There was a new quality in Mary's voice. A sudden throb
of shock masked in the surface indifference of intonation.
Dick repeated his question, unobservant of its first effect.
"Why didn't you go to Chicago as you had planned?"
"Planned? With whom?" The interrogation came with an abrupt
force that cried of new suspicions.
"Why, with Burke." The young man tried to be patient over her
density in this time of crisis.
"Who told you that I had arranged any such thing?" Mary asked.
Now the tenseness in her manner got the husband's attention, and
he replied with a sudden gravity, apprehensive of he knew not
"Burke himself did."
"When?" Mary was standing rigid now, and the rare color flamed
in her cheeks. Her eyes were blazing.
"Less than an hour ago." He had caught the contagion of her mood
and vague alarm swept him.
"Where?" came the next question, still with that vital
"In this room."
"Burke was here?" Mary's voice was suddenly cold, very
dangerous. "What was he doing here?"
"Talking to my father."
The seemingly simple answer appeared the last straw to the girl's
burden of frenzied suspicion. Her voice cut fiercely into the
quiet of the room, imperious, savage.
"Joe, turn on that light! I want to see the face of every man in
Something fatally significant in her voice set Garson a-leap to
the switch, and, in the same second, the blaze of the chandelier
flamed brilliantly over all. The others stood motionless,
blinking in the sudden radiance--all save Griggs, who moved
stealthily in that same moment, a little nearer the door into the
passage, which was nearest to him.
But Mary's next words came wholly as a surprise, seemingly
totally irrelevant to this instant of crisis. Yet they rang
a-throb with an hysterical anxiety.
"Dick," she cried, "what are those tapestries worth?" With the
question, she pointed toward the draperies that shrouded the
great octagonal window.
The young man was plainly astonished, disconcerted as well by the
obtrusion of a sordid detail into the tragedy of the time.
"Why in the world do you----?" he began, impatiently.
Mary stamped her foot angrily in protest against the delay.
"Tell me--quick!" she commanded. The authority in her voice and
manner was not to be gainsaid.
Dick yielded sullenly.
"Oh, two or three hundred dollars, I suppose," he answered.
"Never mind that!" Mary exclaimed, violently. And now the girl's
voice came stinging like a whiplash. In Garson's face, too, was
growing fury, for in an instant of illumination he guessed
something of the truth. Mary's next question confirmed his raging
"How long have you had them, Dick?"
By now, the young man himself sensed the fact that something
mysteriously baneful lay behind the frantic questioning on this
seemingly trivial theme.
"Ever since I can remember," he replied, promptly.
Mary's voice came then with an intonation that brought
enlightenment not only to Garson's shrewd perceptions, but also
to the heavier intelligences of Dacey and of Chicago Red.
"And they're not famous masterpieces which your father bought
recently, from some dealer who smuggled them into this country?"
So simple were the words of her inquiry, but under them beat
something evil, deadly.
The young man laughed contemptuously.
"I should say not!" he declared indignantly, for he resented the
implication against his father's honesty.
"It's a trick! Burke's done it!" Mary's words came with accusing
There was another single step made by Griggs toward the door into
Mary's eye caught the movement, and her lips soundlessly formed
The man strove to carry off the situation, though he knew well
that he stood in mortal peril. He came a little toward the girl
who had accused him of treachery. He was very dapper in his
evening clothes, with his rather handsome, well-groomed face set
in lines of innocence.
"He's lying to you!" he cried forcibly, with a scornful gesture
toward Dick Gilder. "I tell you, those tapestries are worth a
Mary's answer was virulent in its sudden burst of hate. For
once, the music of her voice was lost in a discordant cry of
"You stool-pigeon! You did this for Burke!"
Griggs sought still to maintain his air of innocence, and he
strove well, since he knew that he fought for his life against
those whom he had outraged. As he spoke again, his tones were
tremulous with sincerity--perhaps that tremulousness was born
chiefly of fear, yet to the ear his words came stoutly enough for
"I swear I didn't! I swear it!"
Mary regarded the protesting man with abhorrence. The perjured
wretch shrank before the loathing in her eyes.
"You came to me yesterday," she said, with more of restraint in
her voice now, but still with inexorable rancor. "You came to me
to explain this plan. And you came from him--from Burke!"
"I swear I was on the level. I was tipped off to the story by a
pal," Griggs declared, but at last the assurance was gone out of
his voice. He felt the hostility of those about him.
Garson broke in ferociously.
"It's a frame-up!" he said. His tones came in a deadened roar of
On the instant, aware that further subterfuge could be of no
avail, Griggs swaggered defiance.
"And what if it is true?" he drawled, with a resumption of his
aristocratic manner, while his eyes swept the group balefully.
He plucked the police whistle from his waistcoat-pocket, and
raised it to his lips.
He moved too slowly. In the same moment of his action, Garson
had pulled the pistol from his pocket, had pressed the trigger.
There came no spurt of flame. There was no sound--save perhaps a
faint clicking noise. But the man with the whistle at his lips
suddenly ceased movement, stood absolutely still for the space of
a breath. Then, he trembled horribly, and in the next instant
crashed to the floor, where he lay rigid, dead.
"Damn you--I've got you!" Garson sneered through clenched teeth.
His eyes were like balls of fire. There was a frightful grin of
triumph twisting his mouth in this minute of punishment.
In the first second of the tragedy, Dick had not understood.
Indeed, he was still dazed by the suddenness of it all. But the
falling of Griggs before the leveled weapon of the other man,
there to lie in that ghastly immobility, made him to understand.
He leaped toward Garson--would have wrenched the pistol from the
other's grasp. In the struggle, it fell to the floor.
Before either could pick it up, there came an interruption. Even
in the stress of this scene, Chicago Red had never relaxed his
professional caution. A slight noise had caught his ear, he had
stooped, listening. Now, he straightened, and called his warning.
"Somebody's opening the front door!"
Garson forgot his weapon in this new alarm. He sprang to the
octagonal window, even as Dick took possession of the pistol.
"The street's empty! We must jump for it!" His hate was forgotten
now in an emotion still deeper, and he turned to Mary. His face
was all gentleness again, where just before it had been evil
incarnate, aflame with the lust to destroy. "Come on, Mary," he
Already Chicago Red had snapped off the lights of the chandelier,
had sprung to the window, thrown open a panel of it, and had
vanished into the night, with Dacey at his heels. As Garson
would have called out to the girl again in mad anxiety for haste,
he was interrupted by Dick:
"She couldn't make it, Garson," he declared coolly and
resolutely. "You go. It'll be all right, you know. I'll take
care of her!"
"If she's caught----!" There was an indescribable menace in the
forger's half-uttered threat.
"She won't be." The quality of sincerity in Dick's voice was
more convincing than any vow might have been.
"If she is, I'll get you, that's all," Garson said gravely, as
one stating a simple fact that could not be disputed.
Then he glanced down at the body of the man whom he had done to
"And you can tell that to Burke!" he said viciously to the dead.
"You damned squealer!" There was a supremely malevolent content
in his sneer.
CHAPTER XIX. WITHIN THE TOILS.
The going of Garson left the room deathly still. Dick stared for
a moment at the space of window left uncovered by the draperies
now, since the man had hurried past them, without pausing to draw
them after him. Then, presently, the young man turned again to
Mary, and took her hand in his. The shock of the event had
somehow steadied him, since it had drawn his thoughts from that
other more engrossing mood of concern over the crisis in his own
life. After all, what mattered the death of this crook? his
fancy ran. The one thing of real worth in all the world was the
life that remained to be lived between him and her.... Then,
violently, the selfishness of his mood was made plain to him.
For the hand he held was shaking like some slender-stalked lily
in the clutch of the sirocco. Even as he first perceived the
fact, he saw the girl stagger. His arm swept about her in a
virile protecting embrace--just in time, or she would have
A whisper came from her quivering lips. Her face was close to
his, else he could not have caught the uncertain murmuring. That
face now was become ghastly pale. The violet eyes were widened
and dull. The muscles of her face twitched. She rested supinely
against him, as if bereft of any strength of body or of soul.
Yet, in the intensity of her utterance, the feeble whisper struck
like a shriek of horror.
"I--I--never saw any one killed before!"
The simple, grisly truth of the words--words that he might have
spoken as well--stirred the man to the deeps of his being. He
shuddered, as he turned his eyes to avoid seeing the thing that
lay so very near, mercifully merged within the shadows beyond the
gentle radiance from the single lamp. With a pang of infinite
pity for the woman in his arms, he apprehended in some degree the
torture this event must have inflicted on her. Frightful to him,
it must in truth be vastly worse to her. There was her womanly
sensitiveness to enhance the innate hideousness of the thing that
had been done here before their eyes. There was, too, the fact
that the murderer himself had been the man to whom she owed her
life. Yes, for him, Dick realized with poignant sympathy, the
happening that night was terrible indeed: for her, as he guessed
now at last, the torture must be something easily to overwhelm
all her strength. His touch on her grew tender beyond the
ordinary tenderness of love, made gentler by a great underlying
compassion for her misery.
Dick drew Mary toward the couch, there let her sink down in a
huddled attitude of despair.
"I never saw a man--killed before!" she said again. There was a
note of half-hysterical, almost childish complaint in her voice.
She moved her head a little, as if to look into the shadows where
*IT lay, then checked herself violently, and looked up at her
husband with the pathetic simplicity of terror.
"You know, Dick," she repeated dully, "I never saw a man killed
Before he could utter the soothing words that rose to his lips,
Dick was interrupted by a slight sound at the door. Instantly,
he was all alert to meet the exigencies of the situation. He
stood by the couch, bending forward a little, as if in a posture
of intimate fondness. Then, with a new thought, he got out his
cigarette-case and lighted a cigarette, after which he resumed
his former leaning over the woman as would the ardent lover. He
heard the noise again presently, now so near that he made sure of
being overheard, so at once he spoke with a forced cheerfulness
in his inflection.
"I tell you, Mary," he declared, "everything's going to be all
right for you and me. It was bully of you to come here to me
The girl made no response. She lived still in the nightmare of
murder--that nightmare wherein she had seen Griggs fall dead to
Dick, in nervous apprehension as to the issue, sought to bring
her to realization of the new need that had come upon them.
"Talk to me," he commanded, very softly. "They'll be here in a
minute. When they come in, pretend you just came here in order
to meet me. Try, Mary. You must, dearest!" Then, again, his
voice rose to loudness, as he continued. "Why, I've been trying
all day to see you. And, now, here we are together, just as I
was beginning to get really discouraged.... I know my father will
He was interrupted by the swift swinging open of the hallway
door. Burke stood just within the library, a revolver pointed
"Hands up!--all of you!" The Inspector's voice fairly roared the
The belligerent expression of his face vanished abruptly, as his
eyes fell on Dick standing by the couch and Mary reclining there
in limp helplessness. His surprise would have been ludicrous but
for the seriousness of the situation to all concerned. Burke's
glance roved the room sharply, and he was quickly convinced that
these two were in fact the only present spoil of his careful
plotting. His face set grimly, for the disappointment of this
minute surged fiercely within him. He started to speak, his eyes
lowering as he regarded the two before him.
But Dick forestalled him. He spoke in a voice coldly repellent.
"What are you doing in this house at this time of night?" he
demanded. His manner was one of stern disapproval. "I recognize
you, Inspector Burke. But you must understand that there are
limits even to what you can do. It seems to me, sir, that you
exceed your authority by such an intrusion as this."
Burke, however, was not a whit dismayed by the rebuke and the air
of rather contemptuous disdain with which it was uttered. He
waved his revolver toward Mary, merely as a gesture of
inquisitiveness, without any threat.
"What's she doing here?" he asked. There was wrath in his rough
voice, for he could not avoid the surmise that his shrewdly
concocted scheme to entrap this woman had somehow been set awry.
"What's she doing here, I say?" he repeated heavily. His keen
eyes were darting once more about the room, questing some clue to
this disturbing mystery, so hateful to his pride.
Dick's manner became that of the devoted husband offended by
"You forget yourself, Inspector," he said, icily. "This is my
wife. She has the right to be with me--her husband!"
The Inspector grinned sceptically. He was moved no more
effectively by Mary's almost hysterical effort to respond to her
"Why shouldn't I be here? Why? Why? I----"
Burke broke in on the girl's pitiful histrionics ruthlessly. He
was not in the least deceived. He was aware that something
untoward, as he deemed it, had occurred. It seemed to him, in
fact, that his finical mechanisms for the undoing of Mary Turner
were in a fair way to be thwarted. But he would not give up the
cause without a struggle. Again, he addressed himself to Dick,
disregarding completely the aloof manner of the young man.
"Where's your father?" he questioned roughly.
"In bed, naturally," was the answer. "I ask you again: What are
you doing here at this time of night?"
Burke shook his shoulders ponderously in a movement of impatience
over this prolonging of the farce.
"Oh, call your father," he directed disgustedly.
Dick remonstrated with an excellent show of dignity.
"It's late," he objected. "I'd rather not disturb him, if you
don't mind. Really, the idea is absurd, you know." Suddenly, he
smiled very winningly, and spoke with a good assumption of
"Inspector," he said briskly, "I see, I'll have to tell you the
truth. It's this: I've persuaded my wife to go away with me.
She's going to give all that other sort of thing up. Yes, we're
going away together." There was genuine triumph in his voice
now. "So, you see, we've got to talk it over. Now, then,
Inspector, if you'll come back in the morning----"
The official grinned sardonically. He could not in the least
guess just what had in very deed happened, but he was far too
clever a man to be bamboozled by Dick's maunderings.
"Oh, that's it!" he exclaimed, with obvious incredulity.
"Of course," Dick replied bravely, though he knew that the
Inspector disbelieved his pretenses. Still, for his own part, he
was inclined as yet to be angry rather than alarmed by this
failure to impress the officer. "You see, I didn't know----"
And even in the moment of his saying, the white beam of the
flashing searchlight from the Tower fell between the undrawn
draperies of the octagonal window. The light startled the
Inspector again, as it had done once before that same night. His
gaze followed it instinctively. So, within the second, he saw the
still form lying there on the floor--lying where had been
shadows, where now, for the passing of an instant, was brilliant
There was no mistaking that awful, motionless, crumpled posture.
The Inspector knew in this single instant of view that murder had
been done here. Even as the beam of light from the Tower shifted
and vanished from the room, he leaped to the switch by the door,
and turned on the lights of the chandelier. In the next moment,
he had reached the door of the passage across the room, and his
whistle sounded shrill. His voice bellowed reinforcement to the
As Dick made a step toward his wife, from whom he had withdrawn a
little in his colloquy with the official, Burke voiced his
"Stay where you are--both of you!"
Cassidy came rushing in, with the other detectives. He was
plainly surprised to find the room so nearly empty, where he had
expected to behold a gang of robbers.
"Why, what's it all mean, Chief?" he questioned. His peering
eyes fell on Dick, standing beside Mary, and they rounded in
"They've got Griggs!" Burke answered. There was exceeding rage
in his voice, as he spoke from his kneeling posture beside the
body, to which he had hurried after the summons to his aides. He
glowered up into the bewildered face of the detective. "I'll
break you for this, Cassidy," he declared fiercely. "Why didn't
you get here on the run when you heard the shot?"
"But there wasn't any shot," the perplexed and alarmed detective
expostulated. He fairly stuttered in the earnestness of his
self-defense. "I tell you, Chief, there hasn't been a sound."
Burke rose to his feet. His heavy face was set in its sternest
"You could drive a hearse through the hole they've made in him,"
he rumbled. He wheeled on Mary and Dick. "So!" he shouted, "now
it's murder!... Well, hand it over. Where's the gun?"
Followed a moment's pause. Then the Inspector spoke harshly to
Cassidy. He still felt himself somewhat dazed by this
extraordinary event, but he was able to cope with the situation.
He nodded toward Dick as he gave his order: "Search him!"
Before the detective could obey the direction, Dick took the
revolver from his pocket where he had bestowed it, and held it
And it so chanced that at this incriminating crisis for the son,
the father hastily strode within the library. He had been