Part 6 out of 6
The Inspector did not interrupt his work, but answered with the
utmost good nature.
"Is that what they did to you, Joe? I'll have to speak to
Cassidy about that. Now, just you sit down, Joe, won't you? I
want to have a little talk with you. I'll be through here in a
second." He went on with the writing.
Garson moved forward slightly, to the single chair near the end
of the desk, and there seated himself mechanically. His face thus
was turned toward the windows that gave on the corridor, and his
eyes grew yet more clouded as they rested on the grim doors of
the cells. He writhed in his chair, and his gaze jumped from the
cells to the impassive figure of the man at the desk. Now, the
forger's nervousness increased momently it swept beyond his
control. Of a sudden, he sprang up, and stepped close to the
"Say," he said, in a husky voice, "I'd like--I'd like to have a
"What's the matter with you, Joe?" the Inspector returned,
always with that imperturbable air, and without raising his head
from the work that so engrossed his attention. "You know, you're
not arrested, Joe. Maybe, you never will be. Now, for the love
of Mike, keep still, and let me finish this letter."
Slowly, very hesitatingly, Garson went back to the chair, and
sank down on it in a limp attitude of dejection wholly unlike his
customary postures of strength. Again, his fear-fascinated eyes
went to the row of cells that stood silently menacing on the
other side of the corridor beyond the windows. His face was
tinged with gray. A physical sickness was creeping stealthily on
him, as his thoughts held insistently to the catastrophe that
threatened. His intelligence was too keen to permit a belief
that Burke's manner of almost fulsome kindliness hid nothing
ominous--ominous with a hint of death for him in return for the
death he had wrought.
Then, terror crystallized. His eyes were caught by a figure, the
figure of Cassidy, advancing there in the corridor. And with the
detective went a man whose gait was slinking, craven. A
cell-door swung open, the prisoner stepped within, the door
clanged to, the bolts shot into their sockets noisily.
Garson sat huddled, stricken--for he had recognized the victim
thrust into the cell before his eyes.... It was Dacey, one of his
own cronies in crime--Dacey, who, the night before, had seen him
kill Eddie Griggs. There was something concretely sinister to
Garson in this fact of Dacey's presence there in the cell.
Of a sudden, the forger cried out raucously:
"Say, Inspector, if you've got anything on me, I--I would----"
The cry dropped into unintelligible mumblings.
Burke retained his manner of serene indifference to the other's
agitation. Still, his pen hurried over the paper; and he did not
trouble to look up as he expostulated, half-banteringly.
"Now, now! What's the matter with you, Joe? I told you that I
wanted to ask you a few questions. That's all."
Garson leaped to his feet again resolutely, then faltered, and
ultimately fell back into the chair with a groan, as the
Inspector went on speaking.
"Now, Joe, sit down, and keep still, I tell you, and let me get
through with this job. It won't take me more than a minute
But, after a moment, Garson's emotion forced hint to another
"Say, Inspector----" he began.
Then, abruptly, he was silent, his mouth still open to utter the
words that were now held back by horror. Again, he saw the
detective walking forward, out there in the corridor. And with
him, as before, was a second figure, which advanced slinkingly.
Garson leaned forward in his chair, his head thrust out, watching
in rigid suspense. Again, even as before, the door swung wide,
the prisoner slipped within, the door clanged shut, the bolts
clattered noisily into their sockets.
And, in the watcher, terror grew--for he had seen the face of
Chicago Red, another of his pals, another who had seen him kill
Griggs. For a time that seemed to him long ages of misery,
Garson sat staring dazedly at the closed doors of the tier of
cells. The peril about him was growing--growing, and it was a
deadly peril! At last, he licked his dry lips, and his voice
broke in a throaty whisper.
"Say, Inspector, if you've got anything against me, why----"
"Who said there was anything against you, Joe?" Burke rejoined,
in a voice that was genially chiding. "What's the matter with you
to-day, Joe? You seem nervous." Still, the official kept on
with his writing.
"No, I ain't nervous," Garson cried, with a feverish effort to
appear calm. "Why, what makes you think that? But this ain't
exactly the place you'd pick out as a pleasant one to spend the
morning." He was silent for a little, trying with all his
strength to regain his self-control, but with small success.
"Could I ask you a question?" he demanded finally, with more
firmness in his voice.
"What is it?" Burke said.
Garson cleared his throat with difficulty, and his voice was
"I was just going to say--" he began. Then, he hesitated, and
was silent, at a loss.
"Well, what is it, Joe?" the Inspector prompted.
"I was going to say--that is--well, if it's anything about Mary
Turner, I don't know a thing--not a thing!"
It was the thought of possible peril to her that now, in an
instant, had caused him to forget his own mortal danger. Where,
before, he had been shuddering over thoughts of the death-house
cell that might be awaiting him, he now had concern only for the
safety of the woman he cherished. And there was a great grief in
his soul; for it was borne in on him that his own folly, in
disobedience to her command, had led up to the murder of
Griggs--and to all that might come of the crime. How could he
ever make amends to her? At least, he could be brave here, for
her sake, if not for his own.
Burke believed that his opportunity was come.
"What made you think I wanted to know anything about her?" he
"Oh, I can't exactly say," Garson replied carelessly, in an
attempt to dissimulate his agitation. "You were up to the house,
you know. Don't you see?"
"I did want to see her, that's a fact," Burke admitted. He kept
on with his writing, his head bent low. "But she wasn't at her
flat. I guess she must have taken my advice, and skipped out.
Clever girl, that!"
Garson contrived to present an aspect of comparative
"Yes," he agreed. "I was thinking of going West, myself," he
"Oh, were you?" Burke exclaimed; and, now, there was a new note
in his voice. His hand slipped into the pocket where was the
pistol, and clutched it. He stared at Garson fiercely, and spoke
with a rush of the words:
"Why did you kill Eddie Griggs?"
"I didn't kill him!" The reply was quick enough, but it came
weakly. Again, Garson was forced to wet his lips with a dry
tongue, and to swallow painfully. "I tell you, I didn't kill
him!" he repeated at last, with more force.
Burke sneered his disbelief.
"You killed him last night--with this!" he cried, viciously. On
the instant, the pistol leaped into view, pointed straight at
Garson. "Why?" the Inspector shouted. "Come on, now! Why?"
"I didn't, I tell you!" Garson was growing stronger, since at
last the crisis was upon him. He got to his feet with lithe
swiftness of movement, and sprang close to the desk. He bent his
head forward challengingly, to meet the glare of his accuser's
eyes. There was no flinching in his own steely stare. His
nerves had ceased their jangling under the tautening of
"You did!" Burke vociferated. He put his whole will into the
assertion of guilt, to batter down the man's resistance. "You
did, I tell you! You did!"
Garson leaned still further forward, until his face was almost
level with the Inspector's. His eyes were unclouded now, were
blazing. His voice came resonant in its denial. The entire pose
of him was intrepid, dauntless.
"And I tell you, I didn't!"
There passed many seconds, while the two men battled in silence,
will warring against will. ... In the end, it was the murderer
Suddenly, Burke dropped the pistol into his pocket, and lolled
back in his chair. His gaze fell away from the man confronting
him. In the same instant, the rigidity of Garson's form relaxed,
and he straightened slowly. A tide of secret joy swept through
him, as he realized his victory. But his outward expression
"Oh, well," Burke exclaimed amiably, "I didn't really think you
did, but I wasn't sure, so I had to take a chance. You
understand, don't you, Joe?"
"Sure, I understand," Garson replied, with an amiability equal to
the Inspector's own.
Burke's manner continued very amicable as he went on speaking.
"You see, Joe, anyhow, we've got the right party safe enough.
You can bet on that!"
Garson resisted the lure.
"If you don't want me----" he began suggestively; and he turned
toward the door to the outer hall. "Why, if you don't want me,
"Oh, what's the hurry, Joe?" Burke retorted, with the effect of
stopping the other short. He pressed the buzzer as the agreed
signal to Cassidy. "Where did you say Mary Turner was last
At the question, all Garson's fears for the woman rushed back on
him with appalling force. Of what avail his safety, if she were
still in peril?
"I don't know where she was," he exclaimed, doubtfully. He
realized his blunder even as the words left his lips, and sought
to correct it as best he might. "Why, yes, I do, too," he went
on, as if assailed by sudden memory. "I dropped into her place
kind of late, and they said she'd gone to bed--headache, I
guess.... Yes, she was home, of course. She didn't go out of the
house, all night." His insistence on the point was of itself
suspicious, but eagerness to protect her stultified his wits.
Burke sat grim and silent, offering no comment on the lie.
"Know anything about young Gilder?" he demanded. "Happen to know
where he is now?" He arose and came around the desk, so that he
stood close to Garson, at whom he glowered.
"Not a thing!" was the earnest answer. But the speaker's fear
rose swiftly, for the linking of these names was
The inner door opened, and Mary Turner entered the office.
Garson with difficulty suppressed the cry of distress that rose
to his lips. For a few moments, the silence was unbroken. Then,
presently, Burke, by a gesture, directed the girl to advance
toward the center of the room. As she obeyed, he himself went a
little toward the door, and, when it opened again, and Dick
Gilder appeared, he interposed to check the young man's rush
forward as his gaze fell on his bride, who stood regarding him
with sad eyes.
Garson stared mutely at the burly man in uniform who held their
destinies in the hollow of a hand. His lips parted as if he were
about to speak. Then, he bade defiance to the impulse. He
deemed it safer for all that he should say nothing--now!... And
it is very easy to say a word too many. And that one may be a
word never to be unsaid--or gainsaid.
Then, while still that curious, dynamic silence endured, Cassidy
came briskly into the office. By some magic of duty, he had
contrived to give his usually hebetudinous features an expression
"Say, Chief," the detective said rapidly, "they've squealed!"
Burke regarded his aide with an air intolerably triumphant. His
voice came smug:
"Squealed, eh?" His glance ran over Garson for a second, then
made its inquisition of Mary and of Dick Gilder. He did not give
a look to Cassidy as he put his question. "Do they tell the same
story?" And then, when the detective had answered in the
affirmative, he went on speaking in tones ponderous with
self-complacency; and, now, his eyes held sharply, craftily, on
"I was right then, after all--right, all the time! Good enough!"
Of a sudden, his voice boomed somberly. "Mary Turner, I want you
for the murder of----"
Garson's rush halted the sentence. He had leaped forward. His
face was rigid. He broke on the Inspector's words with a gesture
of fury. His voice came in a hiss:
"That's a damned lie!... I did it!"
CHAPTER XXIV. ANGUISH AND BLISS.
Joe Garson had shouted his confession without a second of
reflection. But the result must have been the same had he taken
years of thought. Between him and her as the victim of the law,
there could be no hesitation for choice. Indeed, just now, he
had no heed to his own fate. The prime necessity was to save
her, Mary, from the toils of the law that were closing around
her. For himself, in the days to come, there would be a ghastly
dread, but there would never be regret over the cost of saving
her. Perhaps, some other he might have let suffer in his
stead--not her! Even, had he been innocent, and she guilty of the
crime, he would still have taken the burden of it on his own
shoulders. He had saved her from the waters--he would save her
until the end, as far as the power in him might lie. It was thus
that, with the primitive directness of his reverential love for
the girl, he counted no sacrifice too great in her behalf. Joe
Garson was not a good man, at the world esteems goodness. On the
contrary, he was distinctly an evil one, a menace to the society
on which he preyed constantly. But his good qualities, if few,
were of the strongest fiber, rooted in the deeps of him. He
loathed treachery. His one guiltiness in this respect had been,
curiously enough, toward Mary herself, in the scheme of the
burglary, which she had forbidden. But, in the last analysis,
here his deceit had been designed to bring affluence to her. It
was his abhorrence of treachery among pals that had driven him to
the murder of the stool-pigeon in a fit of ungovernable passion.
He might have stayed his hand then, but for the gusty rage that
swept him on to the crime. None the less, had he spared the man,
his hatred of the betrayer would have been the same.... And the
other virtue of Joe Garson was the complement of this--his own
loyalty, a loyalty that made him forget self utterly where he
loved. The one woman who had ever filled his heart was Mary, and
for her his life were not too much to give.
The suddenness of it all held Mary voiceless for long seconds.
She was frozen with horror of the event.
When, at last, words came, they were a frantic prayer of protest.
"No, Joe! No! Don't talk--don't talk!"
Burke, immensely gratified, went nimbly to his chair, and thence
surveyed the agitated group with grisly pleasure.
"Joe has talked," he said, significantly.
Mary, shaken as she was by the fact of Garson's confession,
nevertheless retained her presence of mind sufficiently to resist
with all her strength.
"He did it to protect me," she stated, earnestly.
The Inspector disdained such futile argument. As the doorman
appeared in answer to the buzzer, he directed that the
stenographer be summoned at once.
"We'll have the confession in due form," he remarked, gazing
pleasedly on the three before him.
"He's not going to confess," Mary insisted, with spirit.
But Burke was not in the least impressed. He disregarded her
completely, and spoke mechanically to Garson the formal warning
required by the law.
"You are hereby cautioned that anything you say may be used
against you." Then, as the stenographer entered, he went on with
lively interest. "Now, Joe!"
Yet once again, Mary protested, a little wildly.
"Don't speak, Joe! Don't say a word till we can get a lawyer for
The man met her pleading eyes steadily, and shook his head in
"It's no use, my girl," Burke broke in, harshly. "I told you I'd
get you. I'm going to try you and Garson, and the whole gang for
murder--yes, every one of you.... And you, Gilder," he continued,
lowering on the young man who had defied him so obstinately,
"you'll go to the House of Detention as a material witness." He
turned his gaze to Garson again, and spoke authoritatively: "Come
on now, Joe!"
Garson went a step toward the desk, and spoke decisively.
"If I come through, you'll let her go--and him?" he added as an
afterthought, with a nod toward Dick Gilder.
"Oh, Joe, don't!" Mary cried, bitterly. "We'll spend every
dollar we can raise to save you!"
"Now, it's no use," the Inspector complained. "You're only
wasting time. He's said that he did it. That's all there is to
it. Now that we're sure he's our man, he hasn't got a chance in
"Well, how about it?" Garson demanded, savagely. "Do they go
clear, if I come through?"
"We'll get the best lawyers in the country," Mary persisted,
desperately. "We'll save you, Joe--we'll save you!"
Garson regarded the distraught girl with wistful eyes. But there
was no trace of yielding in his voice as he replied, though he
spoke very sorrowfully.
"No, you can't help me," he said, simply. "My time has come,
Mary.... And I can save you a lot of trouble."
"He's right there," Burke ejaculated. "We've got him cold. So,
what's the use of dragging you two into it?"
"Then, they go clear?" Garson exclaimed, eagerly. "They ain't
even to be called as witnesses?"
Burke nodded assent.
"You're on!" he agreed.
"Then, here goes!" Garson cried; and he looked expectantly toward
The strain of it all was sapping the will of the girl, who saw
the man she so greatly esteemed for his service to her and his
devotion about to condemn himself to death. She grew
half-hysterical. Her words came confusedly:
"No, Joe! No, no, no!"
Again, Garson shook his head in absolute refusal of her plea.
"There's no other way out," he declared, wearily. "I'm going
through with it." He straightened a little, and again looked at
the stenographer. His voice came quietly, without any
"My name is Joe Garson."
"Alias?" Burke suggested.
"Alias nothing!" came the sharp retort. "Garson's my monaker. I
shot English Eddie, because he was a skunk, and a stool-pigeon,
and he got just what was coming to him." Vituperation beyond the
mere words beat in his voice now.
Burke twisted uneasily in his chair.
"Now, now!" he objected, severely. "We can't take a confession
Garson shook his head--spoke with fiercer hatred. "because he was
a skunk, and a stool-pigeon," he repeated. "Have you got it?"
And then, as the stenographer nodded assent, he went on, less
violently: "I croaked him just as he was going to call the bulls
with a police-whistle. I used a gun with smokeless powder. It
had a Maxim silencer on it, so that it didn't make any noise."
Garson paused, and the set despair of his features lightened a
little. Into his voice came a tone of exultation indescribably
ghastly. It was born of the eternal egotism of the criminal,
fattening vanity in gloating over his ingenuity for evil.
Garson, despite his two great virtues, had the vices of his
class. Now, he stared at Burke with a quizzical grin crooking
"Say," he exclaimed, "I'll bet it's the first time a guy was ever
croaked with one of them things! Ain't it?"
The Inspector nodded affirmation. There was sincere admiration
in his expression, for he was ready at all times to respect the
personal abilities of the criminals against whom he waged
"That's right, Joe!" he said, with perceptible enthusiasm.
"Some class to that, eh?" Garson demanded, still with that
gruesome air of boasting. "I got the gun, and the Maxim-silencer
thing, off a fence in Boston," he explained. "Say, that thing
cost me sixty dollars, and it's worth every cent of the money....
Why, they'll remember me as the first to spring one of them
things, won't they?"
"They sure will, Joe!" the Inspector conceded.
"Nobody knew I had it," Garson continued, dropping his braggart
At the words, Mary started, and her lips moved as if she were
about to speak.
Garson, intent on her always, though he seemed to look only at
Burke, observed the effect on her, and repeated his words
swiftly, with a warning emphasis that gave the girl pause.
"Nobody knew I had it--nobody in the world!" he declared. "And
nobody had anything to do with the killing but me."
Burke put a question that was troubling him much, concerning the
motive that lay behind the shooting of Griggs.
"Was there any bad feeling between you and Eddie Griggs?"
Garson's reply was explicit.
"Never till that very minute. Then, I learned the truth about
what he'd framed up with you." The speaker's voice reverted to
its former fierceness in recollection of the treachery of one
whom he had trusted.
"He was a stool-pigeon, and I hated his guts! That's all," he
concluded, with brutal candor.
The Inspector moved restlessly in his chair. He had only
detestation for the slain man, yet there was something morbidly
distasteful in the thought that he himself had contrived the
situation which had resulted in the murder of his confederate.
It was only by an effort that he shook off the vague feeling of
"Nothing else to say?" he inquired.
Garson reflected for a few seconds, then made a gesture of
"Nothing else," he declared. "I croaked him, and I'm glad I done
it. He was a skunk. That's all, and it's enough. And it's all
true, so help me God!"
The Inspector nodded dismissal to the stenographer, with an air
"That's all, Williams," he said, heavily. "He'll sign it as soon
as you've transcribed the notes."
Then, as the stenographer left the room, Burke turned his gaze on
the woman, who stood there in a posture of complete dejection,
her white, anguished face downcast. There was triumph in the
Inspector's voice as he addressed her, for his professional pride
was full-fed by this victory over his foes. But there was, too,
an undertone of a feeling softer than pride, more generous,
something akin to real commiseration for this unhappy girl who
drooped before him, suffering so poignantly in the knowledge of
the fate that awaited the man who had saved her, who had loved
her so unselfishly
"Young woman," Burke said briskly, "it's just like I told you.
You can't beat the law. Garson thought he could--and now----!"
He broke off, with a wave of his hand toward the man who had just
sentenced himself to death in the electric-chair.
"That's right," Garson agreed, with somber intensity. His eyes
were grown clouded again now, and his voice dragged leaden.
"That's right, Mary," he repeated dully, after a little pause.
"You can't beat the law!"
There followed a period of silence, in which great emotions were
vibrant from heart to heart. Garson was thinking of Mary, and,
with the thought, into his misery crept a little comfort. At
least, she would go free. That had been in the bargain with
Burke. And there was the boy, too. His eyes shot a single swift
glance toward Dick Gilder, and his satisfaction increased as he
noted the alert poise of the young man's body, the strained
expression of the strong face, the gaze of absorbed yearning with
which he regarded Mary. There could be no doubt concerning the
depth of the lad's love for the girl. Moreover, there were manly
qualities in him to work out all things needful for her
protection through life. Already, he had proved his devotion,
and that abundantly, his unswerving fidelity to her, and the
force within him that made these worthy in some measure of her.
Garson felt no least pang of jealousy. Though he loved the woman
with the single love of his life, he had never, somehow, hoped
aught for himself. There was even something almost of the
paternal in the purity of his love, as if, indeed, by the fact of
restoring her to life he had taken on himself the responsibility
of a parent. He knew that the boy worshiped her, would do his
best for her, that this best would suffice for her happiness in
time. Garson, with the instinct of love, guessed that Mary had
in truth given her heart all unaware to the husband whom she had
first lured only for the lust of revenge. Garson nodded his head
in a melancholy satisfaction. His life was done: hers was just
beginning, now.... But she would remember him --oh, yes, always!
Mary was loyal.
The man checked the trend of his thoughts by a mighty effort of
will. He must not grow maudlin here. He spoke again to Mary,
with a certain dignity.
"No, you can't beat the law!" He hesitated a little, then went
on, with a certain curious embarrassment. "And this same old law
says a woman must stick to her man."
The girl's eyes met his with passionate sorrow in their misty
deeps. Garson gave a significant glance toward Dick Gilder, then
his gaze returned to her. There was a smoldering despair in that
look. There were, as well, an entreaty and a command.
"So," he went on, "you must go along with him, Mary.. . .
Won't you? It's the best thing to do."
The girl could not answer. There was a clutch on her throat just
then, which would not relax at the call of her will.
The tension of a moment grew, became pervasive. Burke, accustomed
as he was to scenes of dramatic violence, now experienced an
altogether unfamiliar thrill. As for Garson, once again the surge
of feeling threatened to overwhelm his self-control. He must not
break down! For Mary's sake, he must show himself stoical, quite
undisturbed in this supreme hour.
Of a sudden, an inspiration came to him, a means to snap the
tension, to create a diversion wholly efficacious. He would turn
to his boasting again, would call upon his vanity, which he knew
well as his chief foible, and make it serve as the foil against
his love. He strove manfully to throw off the softer mood. In a
measure, at least, he won the fight--though always, under the
rush of this vaunting, there throbbed the anguish of his heart.
"You want to cut out worrying about me," he counseled, bravely.
"Why, I ain't worrying any, myself--not a little bit! You see,
it's something new I've pulled off. Nobody ever put over
anything like it before."
He faced Burke with a grin of gloating again.
"I'll bet there'll be a lot of stuff in the newspapers about
this, and my picture, too, in most of 'em! What?"
The man's manner imposed on Burke, though Mary felt the torment
that his vainglorying was meant to mask.
"Say," Garson continued to the Inspector, "if the reporters want
any pictures of me, could I have some new ones taken? The one
you've got of me in the Gallery is over ten years old. I've
taken off my beard since then. Can I have a new one?" He put
the question with an eagerness that seemed all sincere.
Burke answered with a fine feeling of generosity.
"Sure, you can, Joe! I'll send you up to the Gallery right now."
"Immense!" Garson cried, boisterously. He moved toward Dick
Gilder, walking with a faint suggestion of swagger to cover the
nervous tremor that had seized him.
"So long, young fellow!" he exclaimed, and held out his hand.
"You've been on the square, and I guess you always will be."
Dick had no scruple in clasping that extended hand very warmly in
his own. He had no feeling of repulsion against this man who had
committed a murder in his presence. Though he did not quite
understand the other's heart, his instinct as a lover taught him
much, so that he pitied profoundly--and respected, too.
"We'll do what we can for you," he said, simply.
"That's all right," Garson replied, with such carelessness of
manner as he could contrive. Then, at last, he turned to Mary.
This parting must be bitter, and he braced himself with all the
vigors of his will to combat the weakness that leaped from his
As he came near, the girl could hold herself in leash no longer.
She threw herself on his breast. Her arms wreathed about his
neck. Great sobs racked her.
"Oh, Joe, Joe!" The gasping cry was of utter despair.
Garson's trembling hand patted the girl's shoulder very softly, a
caress of infinite tenderness.
"That's all right!" he murmured, huskily. "That's all right,
Mary!" There was a short silence; and then he went on speaking,
more firmly. "You know, he'll look after you."
He would have said more, but he could not. It seemed to him that
the sobs of the girl caught in his own throat. Yet, presently, he
strove once again, with every reserve of his strength; and,
finally, he so far mastered himself that he could speak calmly.
The words were uttered with a subtle renunciation that was this
"Yes, he'll take care of you. Why, I'd like to see the two of
you with about three kiddies playing round the house."
He looked up over the girl's shoulder, and beckoned with his head
to Dick, who came forward at the summons.
"Take good care of her, won't you?"
He disengaged himself gently from the girl's embrace, and set her
within the arms of her husband, where she rested quietly, as if
unable to fight longer against fate's decree.
"Well, so long!"
He dared not utter another word, but turned blindly, and went,
stumbling a little, toward the doorman, who had appeared in
answer to the Inspector's call.
"To the Gallery," Burke ordered, curtly.
Garson went on without ever a glance back.... His strength was at
* * * * *
There was a long silence in the room after Garson's passing. It
was broken, at last, by the Inspector, who got up from his chair,
and advanced toward the husband and wife. In his hand, he
carried a sheet of paper, roughly scrawled. As he stopped before
the two, and cleared his throat, Mary withdrew herself from
Dick's arms, and regarded the official with brooding eyes from
out her white face. Something strange in her enemy's expression
caught her attention, something that set new hopes alive within
her in a fashion wholly inexplicable, so that she waited with a
sudden, breathless eagerness.
Burke extended the sheet of paper to the husband.
"There's a document," he said gruffly. "It's a letter from one
Helen Morris, in which she sets forth the interesting fact that
she pulled off a theft in the Emporium, for which your Mrs.
Gilder here did time. You know, your father got your Mrs. Gilder
sent up for three years for that same job--which she didn't do!
That's why she had such a grudge against your father, and against
the law, too!"
Burke chuckled, as the young man took the paper, wonderingly.
"I don't know that I blame her much for that grudge, when all's
said and done.... You give that document to your father. It sets
her right. He's a just man according to his lights, your father.
He'll do all he can to make things right for her, now he knows."
Once again, the Inspector paused to chuckle.
"I guess she'll keep within the law from now on," he continued,
contentedly, "without getting a lawyer to tell her how.... Now,
you two listen. I've got to go out a minute. When I get back, I
don't want to find anybody here--not anybody! Do you get me?"
He strode from the room, fearful lest further delay might involve
him in sentimental thanksgivings from one or the other, or
both--and Burke hated sentiment as something distinctly
* * * * *
When the official was gone, the two stood staring mutely each at
the other through long seconds. What she read in the man's eyes
set the woman's heart to beating with a new delight. A bloom of
exquisite rose grew in the pallor of her cheeks. The misty light
in the violet eyes shone more radiant, yet more softly. The
crimson lips curved to strange tenderness.... What he read in her
eyes set the husband's pulses to bounding. He opened his arms in
an appeal that was a command. Mary went forward slowly, without
hesitation, in a bliss that forgot every sorrow for that blessed
moment, and cast herself on his breast.