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´╗┐Title: The Adventures of Jimmie Dale
Author: Packard, Frank L. (Frank Lucius), 1877-1942
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Adventures of Jimmie Dale" ***

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by Frank L. Packard


































Among New York's fashionable and ultra-exclusive clubs, the St. James
stood an acknowledged leader--more men, perhaps, cast an envious eye at
its portals, of modest and unassuming taste, as they passed by on Fifth
Avenue, than they did at any other club upon the long list that the city
boasts. True, there were more expensive clubs upon whose membership roll
scintillated more stars of New York's social set, but the St. James was
distinctive. It guaranteed a man, so to speak--that is, it guaranteed a
man to be innately a gentleman. It required money, it is true, to keep
up one's membership, but there were many members who were not wealthy,
as wealth is measured nowadays--there were many, even, who were pressed
sometimes to meet their dues and their house accounts, but the accounts
were invariably promptly paid. No man, once in, could ever afford, or
ever had the desire, to resign from the St. James Club. Its membership
was cosmopolitan; men of every walk in life passed in and out of
its doors, professional men and business men, physicians, artists,
merchants, authors, engineers, each stamped with the "hall mark" of
the St. James, an innate gentleman. To receive a two weeks' out-of-town
visitor's card to the St. James was something to speak about, and men
from Chicago, St. Louis, or San Francisco spoke of it with a sort of
holier-than-thou air to fellow members of their own exclusive clubs, at
home again.

Is there any doubt that Jimmie Dale was a gentleman--an INNATE
gentleman? Jimmie Dale's father had been a member of the St. James
Club, and one of the largest safe manufacturers of the United States, a
prosperous, wealthy man, and at Jimmie Dale's birth he had proposed his
son's name for membership. It took some time to get into the St. James;
there was a long waiting list that neither money, influence, nor pull
could alter by so much as one iota. Men proposed their sons' names for
membership when they were born as religiously as they entered them upon
the city's birth register. At twenty-one Jimmie Dale was elected to
membership; and, incidentally, that same year, graduated from Harvard.
It was Mr. Dale's desire that his son should enter the business and
learn it from the ground up, and Jimmie Dale, for four years thereafter,
had followed his father's wishes. Then his father died. Jimmie Dale had
leanings toward more artistic pursuits than business. He was credited
with sketching a little, writing a little; and he was credited with
having received a very snug amount from the combine to which he sold out
his safe-manufacturing interests. He lived a bachelor life--his mother
had been dead many years--in the house that his father had left him on
Riverside Drive, kept a car or two and enough servants to run his
menage smoothly, and serve a dinner exquisitely when he felt hospitably

Could there be any doubt that Jimmie Dale was innately a gentleman?

It was evening, and Jimmie Dale sat at a small table in the corner of
the St. James Club dining room. Opposite him sat Herman Carruthers,
a young man of his own age, about twenty-six, a leading figure in the
newspaper world, whose rise from reporter to managing editor of the
morning NEWS-ARGUS within the short space of a few years had been almost

They were at coffee and cigars, and Jimmie Dale was leaning back in his
chair, his dark eyes fixed interestedly on his guest.

Carruthers, intently engaged in trimming his cigar ash on the edge of
the Limoges china saucer of his coffee set, looked up with an abrupt

"No; I wouldn't care to go on record as being an advocate of crime," he
said whimsically; "that would never do. But I don't mind admitting quite
privately that it's been a positive regret to me that he has gone."

"Made too good 'copy' to lose, I suppose?" suggested Jimmie Dale
quizzically. "Too bad, too, after working up a theatrical name like that
for him--the Gray Seal--rather unique! Who stuck that on him--you?"

Carruthers laughed--then, grown serious, leaned toward Jimmie Dale.

"You don't mean to say, Jimmie, that you don't know about that, do you?"
he asked incredulously. "Why, up to a year ago the papers were full of

"I never read your beastly agony columns," said Jimmie Dale, with a
cheery grin.

"Well," said Carruthers, "you must have skipped everything but the stock
reports then."

"Granted," said Jimmie Dale. "So go on, Carruthers, and tell me about
him--I dare say I may have heard of him, since you are so distressed
about it, but my memory isn't good enough to contradict anything you may
have to say about the estimable gentleman, so you're safe."

Carruthers reverted to the Limoges saucer and the tip of his cigar.

"He was the most puzzling, bewildering, delightful crook in the annals
of crime," said Carruthers reminiscently, after a moment's silence.
"Jimmie, he was the king-pin of them all. Clever isn't the word for him,
or dare-devil isn't either. I used to think sometimes his motive was
more than half for the pure deviltry of it, to laugh at the police and
pull the noses of the rest of us that were after him. I used to dream
nights about those confounded gray seals of his--that's where he got
his name; he left every job he ever did with a little gray paper affair,
fashioned diamond-shaped, stuck somewhere where it would be the first
thing your eyes would light upon when you reached the scene, and--"

"Don't go so fast," smiled Jimmie Dale. "I don't quite get the
connection. What did you have to do with this--er--Gray Seal fellow?
Where do you come in?"

"I? I had a good deal to do with him," said Carruthers grimly. "I was a
reporter when he first broke loose, and the ambition of my life, after
I began really to appreciate what he was, was to get him--and I nearly
did, half a dozen times, only--"

"Only you never quite did, eh?" cut in Jimmie Dale slyly. "How near did
you get, old man? Come on, now, no bluffing; did the Gray Seal ever even
recognise you as a factor in the hare-and-hound game?"

"You're flicking on the raw, Jimmie," Carruthers answered, with a wry
grimace. "He knew me, all right, confound him! He favoured me with
several sarcastic notes--I'll show 'em to you some day--explaining
how I'd fallen down and how I could have got him if I'd done something
else." Carruthers' fist came suddenly down on the table. "And I would
have got him, too, if he had lived."

"Lived!" ejaculated Jimmie Dale. "He's dead, then?"

"Yes," averted Carruthers; "he's dead."

"H'm!" said Jimmie Dale facetiously. "I hope the size of the wreath you
sent was an adequate tribute of your appreciation."

"I never sent any wreath," returned Carruthers, "for the very simple
reason that I didn't know where to send it, or when he died. I said he
was dead because for over a year now he hasn't lifted a finger."

"Rotten poor evidence, even for a newspaper," commented Jimmie Dale.
"Why not give him credit for having, say--reformed?"

Carruthers shook his head. "You don't get it at all, Jimmie," he said
earnestly. "The Gray Seal wasn't an ordinary crook--he was a classic.
He was an artist, and the art of the thing was in his blood. A man like
that could no more stop than he could stop breathing--and live. He's
dead; there's nothing to it but that--he's dead. I'd bet a year's salary
on it."

"Another good man gone wrong, then," said Jimmie Dale capriciously. "I
suppose, though, that at least you discovered the 'woman in the case'?"

Carruthers looked up quickly, a little startled; then laughed shortly.

"What's the matter?" inquired Jimmie Dale.

"Nothing," said Carruthers. "You kind of got me for a moment, that's
all. That's the way those infernal notes from the Gray Seal used to
end up: 'Find the lady, old chap; and you'll get me.' He had a damned
patronising familiarity that would make you squirm."

"Poor old Carruthers!" grinned Jimmie Dale. "You did take it to heart,
didn't you?"

"I'd have sold my soul to get him--and so would you, if you had been in
my boots," said Carruthers, biting nervously at the end of his cigar.

"And been sorry for it afterward," supplied Jimmie Dale.

"Yes, by Jove, you're right!" admitted Carruthers, "I suppose I should.
I actually got to love the fellow--it was the GAME, really, that I
wanted to beat."

"Well, and how about this woman? Keep on the straight and narrow path,
old man," prodded Jimmie Dale.

"The woman?" Carruthers smiled. "Nothing doing! I don't believe there
was one--he wouldn't have been likely to egg the police and reporters on
to finding her if there had been, would he? It was a blind, of course.
He worked alone, absolutely alone. That's the secret of his success,
according to my way of thinking. There was never so much as an
indication that he had had an accomplice in anything he ever did."

Jimmie Dale's eyes travelled around the club's homelike, perfectly
appointed room. He nodded to a fellow member here and there, then his
eyes rested musingly on his guest again.

Carruthers was staring thoughtfully at his coffee cup.

"He was the prince of crooks and the father of originality," announced
Carruthers abruptly, following the pause that had ensued. "Half the time
there wasn't any more getting at the motive for the curious things he
did, than there was getting at the Gray Seal himself."

"Carruthers," said Jimmy Dale, with a quick little nod of approval,
"you're positively interesting to-night. But, so far, you've been kind
of scouting around the outside edges without getting into the thick of
it. Let's have some of your experiences with the Gray Seal in detail;
they ought to make ripping fine yarns."

"Not to-night, Jimmie," said Carruthers; "it would take too long." He
pulled out his watch mechanically as he spoke, glanced at it--and pushed
back his chair. "Great Scott!" he exclaimed. "It's nearly half-past
nine. I'd no idea we had lingered so long over dinner. I'll have to
hurry; we're a morning paper, you know, Jimmie."

"What! Really! Is it as late as that." Jimmie Dale rose from his chair
as Carruthers stood up. "Well, if you must--"

"I must," said Carruthers, with a laugh.

"All right, O slave." Jimmie Dale laughed back--and slipped his hand,
a trick of their old college days together, through Carruthers' arm as
they left the room.

He accompanied Carruthers downstairs to the door of the club, and saw
his guest into a taxi; then he returned inside, sauntered through the
billiard room, and from there into one of the cardrooms, where, pressed
into a game, he played several rubbers of bridge before going home.

It was, therefore, well on toward midnight when Jimmie Dale arrived at
his house on Riverside Drive, and was admitted by an elderly manservant.

"Hello, Jason," said Jimmie Dale pleasantly. "You still up!"

"Yes, sir," replied Jason, who had been valet to Jimmie Dale's father
before him. "I was going to bed, sir, at about ten o'clock, when a
messenger came with a letter. Begging your pardon, sir, a young lady,

"Jason"--Jimmie Dale flung out the interruption, sudden, quick,
imperative--"what did she look like?"

"Why--why, I don't exactly know as I could describe her, sir," stammered
Jason, taken aback. "Very ladylike, sir, in her dress and appearance,
and what I would call, sir, a beautiful face."

"Hair and eyes--what color?" demanded Jimmie Dale crisply. "Nose, lips,
chin--what shape?"

"Why, sir," gasped Jason, staring at his master, "I--I don't rightly
know. I wouldn't call her fair or dark, something between. I didn't take
particular notice, and it wasn't overlight outside the door."

"It's too bad you weren't a younger man, Jason," commented Jimmie Dale,
with a curious tinge of bitterness in his voice. "I'd have given a
year's income for your opportunity to-night, Jason."

"Yes, sir," said Jason helplessly.

"Well, go on," prompted Jimmie Dale. "You told her I wasn't home, and
she said she knew it, didn't she? And she left the letter that I was on
no account to miss receiving when I got back, though there was no need
of telephoning me to the club--when I returned would do, but it was
imperative that I should have it then--eh?"

"Good Lord, sir!" ejaculated Jason, his jaw dropped, "that's exactly what
she did say."

"Jason," said Jimmie Dale grimly, "listen to me. If ever she comes here
again, inveigle her in. If you can't inveigle her, use force; capture
her, pull her in, do anything--do anything, do you hear? Only don't let
her get away from you until I've come."

Jason gazed at his master as though the other had lost his reason.

"Use force, sir?" he repeated weakly--and shook his head. "You--you
can't mean that, sir."

"Can't I?" inquired Jimmie Dale, with a mirthless smile. "I mean every
word of it, Jason--and if I thought there was the slightest chance of
her giving you the opportunity, I'd be more imperative still. As it
is--where's the letter?"

"On the table in your studio, sir," said Jason, mechanically.

Jimmie Dale started toward the stairs--then turned and came back to
where Jason, still shaking his head heavily, had been gazing anxiously
after his master. Jimmie Dale laid his hand on the old man's shoulder.

"Jason," he said kindly, with a swift change of mood, "you've been a
long time in the family--first with father, and now with me. You'd do a
good deal for me, wouldn't you?"

"I'd do anything in the world for you, Master Jim," said the old man

"Well, then, remember this," said Jimmie Dale slowly, looking into the
other's eyes, "remember this--keep your mouth shut and your eyes open.
It's my fault. I should have warned you long ago, but I never dreamed
that she would ever come here herself. There have been times when it was
practically a matter of life and death to me to know who that woman is
that you saw to-night. That's all, Jason. Now go to bed."

"Master Jim," said the old man simply, "thank you, sir, thank you for
trusting me. I've dandled you on my knee when you were a baby, Master
Jim. I don't know what it's about, and it isn't for me to ask. I
thought, sir, that maybe you were having a little fun with me. But I
know now, and you can trust me, Master Jim, if she ever comes again."

"Thank you, Jason," said Jimmie Dale, his hand closing with an
appreciative pressure on the other's shoulder "Good-night, Jason."

Upstairs on the first landing, Jimmie Dale opened a door, closed and
locked it behind him--and the electric switch clicked under his fingers.
A glow fell softly from a cluster of shaded ceiling lights. It was a
large room, a very large room, running the entire depth of the
house, and the effect of apparent disorder in the arrangement of its
appointments seemed to breathe a sense of charm. There were great
cozy, deep, leather-covered lounging chairs, a huge, leather-covered
davenport, and an easel or two with half-finished sketches upon them;
the walls were panelled, the panels of exquisite grain and matching; in
the centre of the room stood a flat-topped rosewood desk; upon the floor
was a dark, heavy velvet rug; and, perhaps most inviting of all, there
was a great, old-fashioned fireplace at one side of the room.

For an instant Jimmie Dale remained quietly by the door, as though
listening. Six feet he stood, muscular in every line of his body, like
a well-trained athlete with no single ounce of superfluous fat about
him--the grace and ease of power in his poise. His strong, clean-shaven
face, as the light fell upon it now, was serious--a mood that became him
well--the firm lips closed, the dark, reliant eyes a little narrowed, a
frown on the broad forehead, the square jaw clamped.

Then abruptly he walked across the room to the desk, picked up an
envelope that lay upon it, and, turning again, dropped into the nearest
lounging chair.

There had been no doubt in his mind, none to dispel. It was precisely
what he had expected from almost the first word Jason had spoken. It was
the same handwriting, the same texture of paper, and there was the same
old haunting, rare, indefinable fragrance about it. Jimmie Dale's
hands turned the envelope now this way, now that, as he looked at it.
Wonderful hands were Jimmie Dale's, with long, slim, tapering fingers
whose sensitive tips seemed now as though they were striving to decipher
the message within.

He laughed suddenly, a little harshly, and tore open the envelope.
Five closely written sheets fell into his hand. He read them slowly,
critically, read them over again; and then, his eyes on the rug at his
feet, he began to tear the paper into minute pieces between his fingers,
depositing the pieces, as he tore them, upon the arm of his chair. The
five sheets demolished, his fingers dipped into the heap of shreds on
the arm of the chair and tore them over and over again, tore them until
they were scarcely larger than bits of confetti, tore at them absently
and mechanically, his eyes never shifting from the rug at his feet.

Then with a shrug of his shoulders, as though rousing himself to present
reality, a curious smile flickering on his lips, he brushed the pieces
of paper into one hand, carried them to the empty fireplace, laid them
down in a little pile, and set them afire. Lighting a cigarette, he
watched them burn until the last glow had gone from the last charred
scrap; then he crunched and scattered them with the brass-handled fender
brush, and, retracing his steps across the room, flung back a portiere
from where it hung before a little alcove, and dropped on his knees in
front of a round, squat, barrel-shaped safe--one of his own design and
planning in the years when he had been with his father.

His slim, sensitive fingers played for an instant among the knobs and
dials that studded the door, guided, it seemed by the sense of touch
alone--and the door swung open. Within was another door, with locks and
bolts as intricate and massive as the outer one. This, too, he opened;
and then from the interior took out a short, thick, rolled-up leather
bundle tied together with thongs. He rose from his knees, closed the
safe, and drew the portiere across the alcove again. With the bundle
under his arm, he glanced sharply around the room, listened intently,
then, unlocking the door that gave on the hall, he switched off the
lights and went to his dressing room, that was on the same floor. Here,
divesting himself quickly of his dinner clothes, he selected a dark
tweed suit with loose-fitting, sack coat from his wardrobe, and began to
put it on.

Dressed, all but his coat and vest, he turned to the leather bundle that
he had placed on a table, untied the thongs, and carefully opened it
out to its full length--and again that curious, cryptic smile tinged his
lips. Rolled the opposite away from that in which it had been tied
up, the leather strip made a wide belt that went on somewhat after
the fashion of a life preserver, the thongs being used for shoulder
straps--a belt that, once on, the vest would hide completely, and,
fitting close, left no telltale bulge in the outer garments. It was not
an ordinary belt; it was full of stout-sewn, up-right little pockets
all the way around, and in the pockets grimly lay an array of fine,
blued-steel, highly tempered instruments--a compact, powerful burglar's

The slim, sensitive fingers passed with almost a caressing touch over
the vicious little implements, and from one of the pockets extracted
a thin, flat metal case. This Jimmie Dale opened, and glanced
inside--between sheets of oil paper lay little rows of GRAY, ADHESIVE,

Jimmie Dale snapped the case shut, returned it to its recess, and from
another took out a black silk mask. He held it up to the light for

"Pretty good shape after a year," muttered Jimmie Dale, replacing it.

He put on the belt, then his vest and coat. From the drawer of his
dresser he took an automatic revolver and an electric flashlight,
slipped them into his pocket, and went softly downstairs. From the hat
stand he chose a black slouch hat, pulled it well over his eyes--and
left the house.

Jimmie Dale walked down a block, then hailed a bus and mounted to the
top. It was late, and he found himself the only passenger. He inserted
his dime in the conductor's little resonant-belled cash receiver, and
then settled back on the uncomfortable, bumping, cushionless seat.

On rattled the bus; it turned across town, passed the Circle, and
headed for Fifth Avenue--but Jimmie Dale, to all appearances, was quite
oblivious of its movements.

It was a year since she had written him. SHE! Jimmie Dale did not smile,
his lips were pressed hard together. Not a very intimate or personal
appellation, that--but he knew her by no other. It WAS a woman,
surely--the hand-writing was feminine, the diction eminently so--and had
SHE not come herself that night to Jason! He remembered the last letter,
apart from the one to-night, that he had received from her. It was
a year ago now--and the letter had been hardly more than a note. The
police had worked themselves into a frenzy over the Gray Seal, the
papers had grown absolutely maudlin--and she had written, in her
characteristic way:

Things are a little too warm, aren't they, Jimmie? Let's let them cool
for a year.

Since then until to-night he had heard nothing from her. It was a
strange compact that he had entered into--so strange that it could never
have known, could never know a parallel--unique, dangerous, bizarre, it
was all that and more. It had begun really through his connection with
his father's business--the business of manufacturing safes that should
defy the cleverest criminals--when his brains, turned into that channel,
had been pitted against the underworld, against the methods of a
thousand different crooks from Maine to California, the report of whose
every operation had reached him in the natural course of business,
and every one of which he had studied in minutest detail. It had begun
through that--but at the bottom of it was his own restless, adventurous

He had meant to set the police by the ears, using his gray-seal device
both as an added barb and that no innocent bystander of the underworld,
innocent for once, might be involved--he had meant to laugh at them and
puzzle them to the verge of madness, for in the last analysis they would
find only an abortive attempt at crime--and he had succeeded. And then
he had gone too far--and he had been caught--by HER. That string of
pearls, which, to study whose effect facetiously, he had so idiotically
wrapped around his wrist, and which, so ironically, he had been unable
to loosen in time and had been forced to carry with him in his sudden,
desperate dash to escape from Marx's the big jeweler's, in Maiden Lane,
whose strong room he had toyed with one night, had been the lever which,
AT FIRST, she had held over him.

The bus was on Fifth Avenue now, and speeding rapidly down the deserted
thoroughfare. Jimmie Dale looked up at the lighted windows of the St.
James Club as they went by, smiled whimsically, and shifted in his seat,
seeking a more comfortable position.

She had caught him--how he did not know--he had never seen her--did not
know who she was, though time and again he had devoted all his energies
for months at a stretch to a solution of the mystery. The morning
following the Maiden Lane affair, indeed, before he had breakfasted,
Jason had brought him the first letter from her. It had started by
detailing his every move of the night before--and it had ended with an
ultimatum: "The cleverness, the originality of the Gray Seal as a crook
lacked but one thing," she had naively written, "and that one thing was
that his crookedness required a leading string to guide it into channels
that were worthy of his genius." In a word, SHE would plan the coups,
and he would act at her dictation and execute them--or else how did
twenty years in Sing Sing for that little Maiden Lane affair appeal to
him? He was to answer by the next morning, a simple "yes" or "no" in the
personal column of the morning NEWS-ARGUS.

A threat to a man like Jimmie Dale was like flaunting a red rag at a
bull, and a rage ungovernable had surged upon him. Then cold reason had
come. He was caught--there was no question about that--she had taken
pains to show him that he need make no mistake there. Innocent enough in
his own conscience, as far as actual theft went, for the pearls would in
due course be restored in some way to the possession of their owner, he
would have been unable to make even his own father, who was alive then,
believe in his innocence, let alone a jury of his peers. Dishonour,
shame, ignominy, a long prison sentence, stared him in the face,
and there was but one alternative--to link hands with this unseen,
mysterious accomplice. Well, he could at least temporise, he could
always "queer" a game in some specious manner, if he were pushed too
far. And so, in the next morning's NEWS-ARGUS, Jimmie Dale had answered
"yes." And then had followed those years in which there had been NO
temporising, in which every plan was carried out to the last detail,
those years of curious, unaccountable, bewildering affairs that
Carruthers had spoken of, one on top of another, that had shaken the old
headquarters on Mulberry Street to its foundations, until the Gray Seal
had become a name to conjure with. And, yes, it was quite true, he
had entered into it all, gone the limit, with an eagerness that was

The bus had reached the lower end of Fifth Avenue, passed through
Washington Square, and stopped at the end of its run. Jimmie Dale
clambered down from the top, threw a pleasant "good-night" to the
conductor, and headed briskly down the street before him. A little
later he crossed into West Broadway, and his pace slowed to a leisurely

Here, at the upper end of the street, was a conglomerate business
section of rather inferior class, catering doubtless to the poor,
foreign element that congregated west of Broadway proper, and to the
south of Washington Square. The street was, at first glance, deserted;
it was dark and dreary, with stores and lofts on either side. An
elevated train roared by overhead, with a thunderous, deafening clamour.
Jimmie Dale, on the right-hand side of the street, glanced interestedly
at the dark store windows as he went by. And then, a block ahead, on the
other side, his eyes rested on an approaching form. As the other reached
the corner and paused, and the light from the street lamp glinted on
brass buttons, Jimmie Dale's eyes narrowed a little under his slouch
hat. The policeman, although nonchalantly swinging a nightstick,
appeared to be watching him.

Jimmie Dale went on half a block farther, stooped to the sidewalk to
tie his shoe, glanced back over his shoulder--the policeman was not in
sight--and slipped like a shadow into the alleyway beside which he had

It was another Jimmie Dale now--the professional Jimmie Dale. Quick as
a cat, active, lithe, he was over a six foot fence in the rear of a
building in a flash, and crouched a black shape, against the back door
of an unpretentious, unkempt, dirty, secondhand shop that fronted
on West Broadway--the last place certainly in all New York that the
managing editor of the NEWS-ARGUS, or any one else, for that matter,
would have picked out as the setting for the second debut of the Gray

From the belt around his waist, Jimmie Dale took the black silk mask,
and slipped it on; and from the belt, too, came a little instrument
that his deft fingers manipulated in the lock. A curious snipping sound
followed. Jimmie Dale put his weight gradually against the door. The
door held fast.

"Bolted," said Jimmie Dale to himself.

The sensitive fingers travelled slowly up and down the side of the door,
seeming to press and feel for the position of the bolt through an inch
of plank--then from the belt came a tiny saw, thin and pointed at the
end, that fitted into the little handle drawn from another receptacle in
the leather girdle beneath the unbuttoned vest.

Hardly a sound it made as it bit into the door. Half a minute
passed--there was the faint fall of a small piece of wood--into the
aperture crept the delicate, tapering fingers--came a slight rasping of
metal--then the door swung back, the dark shadow that had been Jimmie
Dale vanished and the door closed again.

A round, white beam of light glowed for an instant--and disappeared. A
miscellaneous, lumbering collection of junk and odds and ends
blocked the entry, leaving no more space than was sufficient for bare
passageway. Jimmie Dale moved cautiously--and once more the flashlight
in his hand showed the way for an instant--then darkness again.

The cluttered accumulation of secondhand stuff in the rear gave place to
a little more orderly arrangement as he advanced toward the front of the
store. Like a huge firefly, the flashlight twinkled, went out, twinkled
again, and went out. He passed a sort of crude, partitioned-off
apartment that did duty for the establishment's office, a sort of little
boxed-in place it was, about in the middle of the floor. Jimmie Dale's
light played on it for a moment, but he kept on toward the front door
without any pause.

Every movement was quick, sure, accurate, with not a wasted second. It
had been barely a minute since he had vaulted the back fence. It was
hardly a quarter of a minute more before the cumbersome lock of the
front door was unfastened, and the door itself pulled imperceptibly

He went swiftly back to the office now--and found it even more of a
shaky, cheap affair than it had at first appeared; more like a box stall
with windows around the top than anything else, the windows doubtless to
permit the occupant to overlook the store from the vantage point of the
high stool that stood before a long, battered, wobbly desk. There was
a door to the place, too, but the door was open and the key was in
the lock. The ray of Jimmie Dale's flashlight swept once around the
interior--and rested on an antique, ponderous safe.

Under the mask Jimmie Dale's lips parted in a smile that seemed almost
apologetic, as he viewed the helpless iron monstrosity that was little
more than an insult to a trained cracksman. Then from the belt came the
thin metal case and a pair of tweezers. He opened the case, and with
the tweezers lifted out one of the gray-coloured, diamond-shaped seals.
Holding the seal with the tweezers, he moistened the gummed side with
his lips, then laid it on a handkerchief which he took from his pocket,
and clapped the handkerchief against the front of the safe, sticking
the seal conspicuously into place. Jimmie Dale's insignia bore no finger
prints. The microscopes and magnifying glasses at headquarters had many
a time regretfully assured the police of that fact.

And now his hands and fingers seemed to work like lightning. Into the
soft iron bit a drill--bit in and through--bit in and through again.
It was dark, pitch black--and silent. Not a sound, save the quick, dull
rasp of the ratchet--like the distant gnawing of a mouse! Jimmie Dale
worked fast--another hole went through the face of the old-fashioned
safe--and then suddenly he straightened up to listen, every faculty
tense, alert, and strained, his body thrown a little forward. WHAT WAS

From the alleyway leading from the street without, through which he
himself had come, sounded the stealthy crunch of feet. Motionless in the
utter darkness, Jimmie Dale listened--there was a scraping noise in the
rear--someone was climbing the fence that he had climbed!

In an instant the tools in Jimmie Dale's hands disappeared into their
respective pockets beneath his vest--and the sensitive fingers shot to
the dial on the safe.

"Too bad," muttered Jimmie Dale plaintively to himself. "I could have
made such an artistic job of it--I swear I could have cut Carruthers'
profile in the hole in less than no time--to open it like this is really
taking the poor old thing at a disadvantage."

He was on his knees now, one ear close to the dial, listening as the
tumblers fell, while the delicate fingers spun the knob unerringly--the
other ear strained toward the rear of the premises.

Came a footstep--a ray of light--a stumble--nearer--the newcomer was
inside the place now, and must have found out that the back door had
been tampered with. Nearer came the steps--still nearer--and then the
safe door swung open under Jimmie Dale's hand, and Jimmie Dale, that he
might not be caught like a rat in a trap, darted from the office--but he
had delayed a little too long.

From around the cluttered piles of junk and miscellany swept the
light--full on Jimmie Dale. Hesitation for the smallest fraction of a
second would have been fatal, but hesitation was something that in all
his life Jimmie Dale had never known. Quick as a panther in its spring,
he leaped full at the light and the man behind it. The rough voice, in
surprised exclamation at the sudden discovery of the quarry, died in a

There was a crash as the two men met--and the other reeled back before
the impact. Onto him Jimmie Dale sprang, and his hands flew for the
other's throat. It was an officer in uniform! Jimmie Dale had felt the
brass buttons as they locked. In the darkness there was a queer smile on
Jimmie Dale's tight lips. It was no doubt THE officer whom he had passed
on the other side of the street.

The other was a smaller man than Jimmie Dale, but powerful for his
build--and he fought now with all his strength. This way and that the
two men reeled, staggered, swayed, panting and gasping; and then--they
had lurched back close to the office door--with a sudden swing, every
muscle brought into play for a supreme effort, Jimmie Dale hurled the
other from him, sending the man sprawling back to the floor of the
office, and in the winking of an eye had slammed shut the door and
turned the key.

There was a bull-like roar, the shrill CHEEP-CHEEP-CHEEP of the
patrolman's whistle, and a shattering crash as the officer flung his
body against the partition--then the bark of a revolver shot, the tinkle
of breaking glass, as the man fired through the office window--and past
Jimmie Dale, speeding now for the front door, a bullet hummed viciously.

Out on the street dashed Jimmie Dale, whipping the mask from his
face--and glanced like a hawk around him. For all the racket, the
neighbourhood had not yet been aroused--no one was in sight. From just
overhead came the rattle of a downtown elevated train. In a hundred-yard
sprint, Jimmie Dale raced it a half block to the station, tore up the
steps--and a moment later dropped nonchalantly into a seat and pulled an
evening newspaper from his pocket.

Jimmie Dale got off at the second station down, crossed the street,
mounted the steps of the elevated again, and took the next train uptown.
His movements appeared to be somewhat erratic--he alighted at the
station next above the one by which he had made his escape. Looking down
the street it was too dark to see much of anything, but a confused noise
as of a gathering crowd reached him from what was about the location of
the secondhand store. He listened appreciatively for a moment.

"Isn't it a perfectly lovely night?" said Jimmie Dale amiably to
himself. "And to think of that cop running away with the idea that I
didn't see him when he hid in a doorway after I passed the corner! Well,
well, strange--isn't it?"

With another glance down the street, a whimsical lift of his shoulders,
he headed west into the dilapidated tenement quarter that huddled for
a handful of blocks near by, just south of Washington Square. It was
a little after one o'clock in the morning now and the pedestrians were
casual. Jimmie Dale read the street signs on the corners as he went
along, turned abruptly into an intersecting street, counted the
tenements from the corner as he passed, and--for the eye of any one who
might be watching--opened the street door of one of them quite as though
he were accustomed and had a perfect right to do so, and went inside.

It was murky and dark within; hot, unhealthy, with lingering smells of
garlic and stale cooking. He groped for the stairs and started up.
He climbed one flight, then another--and one more to the top. Here,
treading softly, he made an examination of the landing with a view,
evidently, to obtaining an idea of the location and the number of doors
that opened off from it.

His selection fell on the third door from the head of the stairs--there
were four all told, two apartments of two rooms each. He paused for an
instant to adjust the black silk mask, tried the door quietly, found it
unlocked, opened it with a sudden, quick, brisk movement--and, stepping
in side, leaned with his back against it.

"Good-morning," said Jimmie Dale pleasantly.

It was a squalid place, a miserable hole, in which a single flickering,
yellow gas jet gave light. It was almost bare of furniture; there was
nothing but a couple of cheap chairs, a rickety table--unpawnable. A
boy, he was hardly more than that, perhaps twenty-two, from a posture
in which he was huddled across the table with head buried in out-flung
arms, sprang with a startled cry to his feet.

"Good-morning," said Jimmie Dale again. "Your name's Hagan, Bert
Hagan--isn't it? And you work for Isaac Brolsky in the secondhand shop
over on West Broadway--don't you?"

The boy's lips quivered, and the gaunt, hollow, half-starved face,
white, ashen-white now, was pitiful.

"I--I guess you got me," he faltered "I--I suppose you're a
plain-clothes man, though I never knew dicks wore masks."

"They don't generally," said Jimmie Dale coolly. "It's a fad of
mine--Bert Hagan."

The lad, hanging to the table, turned his head away for a moment--and
there was silence.

Presently Hagan spoke again. "I'll go," he said numbly. "I won't make any
trouble. Would--would you mind not speaking loud? I--I wouldn't like her
to know."

"Her?" said Jimmie Dale softly.

The boy tiptoed across the room, opened a connecting door a little,
peered inside, opened it a little wider--and looked over his shoulder at
Jimmie Dale.

Jimmie Dale crossed to the boy, looked inside the other room--and his
lip twitched queerly, as the sight sent a quick, hurt throb through his
heart. A young woman, younger than the boy, lay on a tumble-down bed, a
rag of clothing over her--her face with a deathlike pallor upon it, as
she lay in what appeared to be a stupor. She was ill, critically ill;
it needed no trained eye to discern a fact all too apparent to the most
casual observer. The squalor, the glaring poverty here, was even more
pitifully in evidence than in the other room--only here upon a chair
beside the bed was a cluster of medicine bottles and a little heap of

Jimmie Dale drew back silently as the boy closed the door.

Hagan walked to the table and picked up his hat.

"I'm--I'm ready," he said brokenly. "Let's go."

"Just a minute," said Jimmie Dale. "Tell us about it."

"Twon't take long," said Hagan, trying to smile. "She's my wife. The
sickness took all we had. I--I kinder got behind in the rent and things.
They were going to fire us out of here--to-morrow. And there wasn't any
money for the medicine, and--and the things she had to have. Maybe you
wouldn't have done it--but I did. I couldn't see her dying there for the
want of something a little money'd buy--and--and I couldn't"--he caught
his voice in a little sob--"I couldn't see her thrown out on the street
like that."

"And so," said Jimmie Dale, "instead of putting old Isaac's cash in
the safe this evening when you locked up, you put it in your pocket
instead--eh? Didn't you know you'd get caught?"

"What did it matter?" said the boy. He was twirling his misshappen hat
between his fingers. "I knew they'd know it was me in the morning when
old Isaac found it gone, because there wasn't anybody else to do it.
But I paid the rent for four months ahead to-night, and I fixed it so's
she'd have medicine and things to eat. I was going to beat it before
daylight myself--I"--he brushed his hand hurriedly across his cheek--"I
didn't want to go--to leave her till I had to."

"Well, say"--there was wonderment in Jimmie Dale's tones, and his
English lapsed into ungrammatical, reassuring vernacular--"ain't that
queer! Say, I'm no detective. Gee, kid, did you think I was? Say, listen
to this! I cracked old Isaac's safe half an hour ago--and I guess there
won't be any idea going around that you got the money and I pulled a
lemon. Say, I ain't superstitious, but it looks like luck meant you to
have another chance, don't it?"

The hat dropped from Hagan's hands to the floor, and he swayed a little.

"You--you ain't a dick!" he stammered. "Then how'd you know about me and
my name when you found the safe empty? Who told you?"

A wry grimace spread suddenly over Jimmie Dale's face beneath the mask,
and he swallowed hard. Jimmie Dale would have given a good deal to have
been able to answer that question himself.

"Oh, that!" said Jimmie Dale. "That's easy--I knew you worked there.
Say, it's the limit, ain't it? Talk about your luck being in, why all
you've got to do is to sit tight and keep your mouth shut, and you're
safe as a church. Only say, what are you going to do about the money,
now you've got a four months' start and are kind of landed on your feet?

"Do?" said the boy. "I'll pay it back, little by little. I meant to. I
ain't no--" He stopped abruptly.

"Crook," supplied Jimmie Dale pleasantly. "Spit it right out, kid; you
won't hurt my feelings none. Well, I'll tell you--you're talking the way
I like to hear you--you pay that back, slide it in without his knowing
it, a bit at a time, whenever you can, and you'll never hear a yip out
of me; but if you don't, why it kind of looks as though I have a right
to come down your street and get my share or know the reason why--eh?"

"Then you never get any share," said Hagan, with a catch in his voice.
"I pay it back as fast as I can."

"Sure," said Jimmie Dale. "That's right--that's what I said. Well, so
long--Hagan." And Jimmie Dale had opened the door and slipped outside.

An hour later, in his dressing room in his house on Riverside Drive,
Jimmie Dale was removing his coat as the telephone, a hand instrument on
the table, rang. Jimmie Dale glanced at it--and leisurely proceeded
to remove his vest. Again the telephone rang. Jimmie Dale took off his
curious, pocketed leather belt--as the telephone repeated its summons.
He picked out the little drill he had used a short while before, and
inspected it critically--feeling its point with his thumb, as one might
feel a razor's blade. Again the telephone rang insistently. He reached
languidly for the receiver, took it off its hook, and held it to his

"Hello!" said Jimmie Dale, with a sleepy yawn. "Hello! Hello! Why the
deuce don't you yank a man out of bed at two o'clock in the morning and
have done with it, and--eh? Oh, that you, Carruthers?"

"Yes," came Carruthers' voice excitedly. "Jimmie, listen--listen! The
Gray Seal's come to life! He's just pulled a break on West Broadway!"

"Good Lord!" gasped Jimmie Dale. "You don't say!"



"The most puzzling bewildering, delightful crook in the annals of crime,"
Herman Carruthers, the editor of the MORNING NEWS-ARGUS, had called the
Gray Seal; and Jimmie Dale smiled a little grimly now as he recalled
the occasion of a week ago at the St. James Club over their after-dinner
coffee. That was before his second debut, with Isaac Brolsky's
poverty-stricken premises over on West Broadway as a setting for the

SHE had written: "Things are a little too warm, aren't they, Jimmie?
Let's let them cool for a year." Well, they had cooled for a year, and
Carruthers as a result had been complacently satisfied in his own mind
that the Gray Seal was dead--until that break at Isaac Brolsky's over on
West Broadway!

Jimmie Dale's smile was tinged with whimsicality now. The only effect
of the year's inaction had been to usher in his renewed activity with
a furor compared to which all that had gone before was insignificant.
Where the newspapers had been maudlin, they now raved--raved in
editorials and raved in headlines. It was an impossible, untenable,
unbelievable condition of affairs that this Gray Seal, for all his
incomparable cleverness, should flaunt his crimes in the faces of the
citizens of New York. One could actually see the editors writhing in
their swivel chairs as their fiery denunciations dripped from their
pens! What was the matter with the police? Were the police children;
or, worse still, imbeciles--or, still worse again, was there some one
"higher up" who was profiting by this rogue's work? New York would not
stand for it--New York would most decidedly not--and the sooner the
police realised that fact the better! If the police were helpless, or
tools, the citizens of New York were not, and it was time the citizens
were thoroughly aroused.

There was a way, too, to arouse the citizens, that was both good
business from the newspaper standpoint, and efficacious as a method.
Carruthers, of the MORNING NEWS-ARGUS, had initiated it. The MORNING
NEWS-ARGUS offered twenty-five thousand dollars' reward for the capture
of the Gray Seal! Other papers immediately followed suit in varying
amounts. The authorities, State and municipal, goaded to desperation,
did likewise, and the five million men, women, and children of New York
were automatically metamorphosed into embryonic sleuths. New York was

Jimmie Dale, alias the Gray Seal, member of the ultra-exclusive St.
James Club, the latter fact sufficient in itself to guarantee his
social standing, graduate of Harvard, inheritor of his deceased father's
immense wealth amassed in the manufacture of burglar-proof safes, some
of the most ingenious patents on which were due to Jimmie Dale himself,
figured with a pencil on the margin of the newspaper he had been
reading, using the arm of the big, luxurious, leather-upholstered
lounging chair as a support for the paper. The result of his
calculations was eighty-five thousand dollars.

He brushed the paper onto the Turkish rug, dove into the pocket of his
dinner jacket for his cigarettes, and began to smoke as his eyes strayed
around the room, his own particular den in his fashionable Riverside
Drive residence.

Eighty-five thousand dollars' reward! Jimmie Dale blew meditative rings
of cigarette smoke at the fireplace. What would she say to that? Would
she decide it was "too hot" again, and call it off? It added quite a
little hazard to the game--QUITE a little! If he only knew who "she"
was! It was a strange partnership--the strangest partnership that had
ever existed between two human beings.

He turned a little in his chair as a step sounded in the hallway
without--that is, Jimmie Dale caught the sound, muffled though it was by
the heavy carpet. Came then a knock upon the door.

"Come in," invited Jimmie Dale.

It was old Jason, the butler. The old man was visibly excited, as he
extended a silver tray on which lay a letter.

Jimmie Dale's hand reached quickly out, the long, slim tapering fingers
closed upon the envelope--but his eyes were on Jason significantly,

"Yes, Master Jim," said the old man, "I recognised it on the instant,
sir. After what you said, sir, last week, honouring me, I might say, to
a certain extent with your confidence, though I'm sure I don't know what
it all means, I--"

"Who brought it this time, Jason?" inquired Jimmie Dale quietly.

"Not the young person, begging your pardon, not the young lady, sir. A
shuffer in a big automobile. 'Your master at once,' he says, and shoves
the letter into my hand, and was off."

"Very good, Jason," said Jimmie Dale. "You may go."

The door closed. Yes, it was from HER--it was the same texture of paper,
there was the same rare, haunting fragrance clinging to it.

He tore the envelope open, and extracted a folded sheet of paper. What
was it this time? To call the partnership off again until the present
furor should have subsided once more--or the skilfully sketched outline
of a new adventure? Which? He glanced at the few lines written on the
sheet, and lunged forward from his chair to his feet. It was neither one
nor the other. It was--

Jimmie Dale's face was set, and an angry red surge swept his cheeks. His
lips moved, muttering audibly fragments of the letter, as he stared at

"--incredible that you--a heinous thing--act instantly--this is ruin--"

For an instant--a rare occurrence in Jimmie Dale's life--he stood like a
man stricken, still staring at the sheet in his hand. Then mechanically
his fingers tore the paper into little pieces, and the little pieces
into tiny shreds. Anger fled, and a sickening sense of impotent dismay
took its place; the red left his cheeks, and in its stead a grayness

"Act instantly!" The words seemed to leap at him, drum at his ears with
constant repetition. Act instantly! But how? How? Then his brain--that
keen, clear, master brain--sprang from stunned inaction into virility
again. Of course--Carruthers! It was in Carruthers' line.

He stepped to the desk--and paused with his hand extended to pick up the
telephone. How explain to Carruthers that he, Jimmie Dale, already knew
what Carruthers might not yet have heard of, even though Carruthers
would naturally be among the first to be in touch with such affairs! No;
that would never do. Better get there himself at once and trust to--

The telephone rang.

Jimmie Dale waited until it rang again, then he lifted the receiver from
the hook.

"Hello?" he said.

"Hello! Hello! Jimmie!" came a voice. "This is Carruthers. That you,

"Yes," said Jimmie Dale and sat down limply in the desk chair.

"It's the Gray Seal again. I promised you I'd let you in on the ground
floor next time anything happened, so come on down here quick if you
want to see some of his work at firsthand."

Jimmie Dale flirted a bead of sweat from his forehead.

"Carruthers," said Jimmie languidly, "you newspaper chaps make me tired
with your Gray Seal. I'm just going to bed."

"Bed nothing!" spluttered Carruthers, from the other end of the wire.
"Come down, I tell you. It's worth your while--half the population of
New York would give the toes off their feet for the chance. Come down,
you blast idiot! The Gray Seal has gone the limit this time--it's

Jimmie Dale's face was haggard.

"Oh!" he said peevishly. "Sounds interesting. Where are you? I guess
maybe I'll jog along."

"I should think you would!" snapped Carruthers. "You know the Palace on
the Bowery? Yes? Well, meet me on the corner there as soon as you can.
Hustle! Good--"

"Oh, I say, Carruthers!" interposed Jimmie Dale.

"Yes?" demanded Carruthers.

"Thanks awfully for letting me know, old man."

"Don't mention it!" returned Carruthers sarcastically. "You always were
a grateful beast, Jimmie. Hurry up!"

Jimmie Dale hung up the receiver of the city 'phone, and took down the
receiver of another, a private-house installation, and rang twice for
the garage.

"The light car at once, Benson," he ordered curtly. "At once!"

Jimmie Dale worked quickly then. In his dressing room, he changed from
dinner clothes to tweeds; spent a second or so over the contents of a
locked drawer in the dresser, from which he selected a very small but
serviceable automatic, and a very small but highly powerful magnifying
glass whose combination of little round lenses worked on a pivot, and,
closed over one another, were of about the compass of a quarter of a

In three minutes he was outside the house and stepping into the car,
just as it drew up at the curb.

"Benson," he said tersely to his chauffeur, "drop me one block this
side of the Palace on the Bowery--and forget there was ever a speed law
enacted. Understand?"

"Very good, sir," said Benson, touching his cap. "I'll do my best, sir."

Jimmie Dale, in the tonneau, stretched out his legs under the front
seat, and dug his hands into his pockets--and inside the pockets his
hands were clenched and knotted fists.

Murder! At times it had occurred to him that there was a possibility
that some crook of the underworld would attempt to cover his tracks and
take refuge from pursuit by foisting himself on the authorities as the
Gray Seal. That was a possibility, a risk always to be run. But that
MURDER should be laid to the Gray Seal's door! Anger, merciless and
unrestrained, surged over Jimmie Dale.

There was peril here, live and imminent. Suppose that some day he should
be caught in some little affair, recognised and identified as the Gray
Seal, there would be the charge of murder hanging over him--and the
electric chair to face!

But the peril was not the only thing. Even worse to Jimmie Dale's
artistic and sensitive temperament was the vilification, the holding up
to loathing, contumely, and abhorrence of the name, the stainless name,
of the Gray Seal. It WAS stainless! He had guarded it jealously--as a
man guards the woman's name he loves.

Affairs that had mystified and driven the police distracted with
impotence there had been, many of them; and on the face of them--crimes.
But no act ever committed had been in reality a crime--none without
the highest of motives, the righting of some outrageous wrong, the
protection of some poor stumbling fellow human.

That had been his partnership with her. How, by what amazing means, by
what power that smacked almost of the miraculous she came in touch with
all these things and supplied him with the data on which to work he
did not know--only that, thanks to her, there were happier hearts and
happier homes since the Gray Seal had begun to work. "Dear Philanthropic
Crook," she often called him in her letters. And now--it was MURDER!

Take Carruthers, for instance. For years, as a reporter before he had
risen to the editorial desk, he had been one of the keenest on the scent
of the Gray Seal, but always for the sake of the game--always filled
with admiration, as he said himself, for the daring, the originality of
the most puzzling, bewildering, delightful crook in the annals of crime.
Carruthers was but an example. Carruthers now would hunt the Gray Seal
like a mad dog. The Gray Seal, to Carruthers and every one else, would
be the vilest name in the land--a synonym for murder.

On the car flew--and upon Jimmie Dale's face, as though chiselled in
marble, was a look that was not good to see. And a mirthless smile set,
frozen, on his lips.

"I'll get the man that did this," gritted Jimmie Dale between his teeth.
"I'll GET him! And, when I get him, I'll wring a confession from him if
I have to swing for it!"

The car swept from Broadway into Astor Place, on down the Bowery, and
presently stopped.

Jimmie Dale stepped out. "I shall not want you any more, Benson," he
said. "You may return home."

Jimmie Dale started down the block--a nonchalant Jimmie Dale now, if
anything, bored a little. Near the corner, a figure, back turned, was
lounging at the edge of the sidewalk. Jimmie Dale touched the man on the

"Hello, Carruthers!" he drawled.

"Ah, Jimmie!" Carruthers turned with an excited smile. "That's the boy!
You've made mighty quick time."

"Well, you told me to hurry," grumbled Jimmie Dale. "I'm doing my best
to please you to-night. Came down in my car, and got summoned for three
fines to-morrow."

Carruthers laughed. "Come on," he said; and, linking his arm in Jimmie
Dale's, turned the corner, and headed west along the cross street. "This
is going to make a noise," he continued, a grim note creeping into his
voice. "The biggest noise the city has ever heard. I take back all I
said about the Gray Seal. I'd always pictured his cleverness as being
inseparable with at least a decent sort of man, even if he was a rogue
and a criminal, but I'm through with that. He's a rotter and a hound
of the rankest sort! I didn't think there was anything more vulgar or
brutal than murder, but he's shown me that there is. A guttersnipe's got
more decency! To murder a man and then boastfully label the corpse is--"

"Say, Carruthers," said Jimmie Dale plaintively, suddenly hanging back,
"I say, you know, it's--it's all right for you to mess up in this sort
of thing, it's your beastly business, and I'm awfully damned thankful to
you for giving me a look-in, but isn't it--er--rather INFRA DIG for me?
A bit morbid, you know, and all that sort of thing. I'd never hear the
end of it at the club--you know what the St. James is. Couldn't I be
Merideth Stanley Annstruther, or something like that, one of your new
reporters, or something like that, you know?"

Carruthers chuckled. "Sure, Jimmie," he said. "You're the latest
addition to the staff of the NEWS-ARGUS. Don't worry; the incomparable
Jimmie Dale won't figure publicly in this."

"It's awfully good of you," said Jimmie gratefully. "I have to have a
notebook or something, don't I?"

Carruthers, from his pocket, handed him one. "Thanks," said Jimmie Dale.

A little way ahead, a crowd had collected on the sidewalk before a
doorway, and Carruthers pointed with a jerk of his hand.

"It's in Moriarty's place--a gambling hell," he explained. "I haven't
got the story myself yet, though I've been inside, and had a look
around. Inspector Clayton discovered the crime, and reported it at
headquarters. I was at my desk in the office when the news came, and, as
you know the interest I've taken in the Gray Seal, I decided to 'cover'
it myself. When I got here, Clayton hadn't returned from headquarters,
so, as you seemed so keenly interested last week, I telephoned you. If
Clayton's back now we'll get the details. Clayton's a good fellow with
the 'press,' and he won't hold anything out on us. Now, here we are.
Keep close to me, and I'll pass you in."

They shouldered through the crowd and up to an officer at the door.
The officer nodded, stepped aside, and Carruthers, with Jimmie Dale
following, entered the house.

They climbed one flight, and then another. The card-rooms, the faro,
stud, and roulette layouts were deserted, save for policemen here and
there on guard. Carruthers led the way to a room at the back of the
hall, whose door was open and from which issued a hubbub of voices--one
voice rose above the others, heavy and gratingly complacent.

"Clayton's back," observed Carruthers.

They stepped over the threshold, and the heavy voice greeted them.

"Ah, here's Carruthers now! H'are you, Carruthers? They told me you'd
been here, and were coming back, so I've been keeping the boys waiting
before handing out the dope. You've had a look at that--eh?" He flung
out a fat hand toward the bed.

The voices rose again, all directed at Carruthers now.

"Bubble's burst, eh, Carruthers? What about the 'Prince of Crooks'?
Artistry in crime, wasn't it, you said?" They were quoting from his
editorials of bygone days, a half dozen reporters of rival papers,
grinning and joshing him good-naturedly, seemingly quite unaffected by
what lay within arm's reach of them upon the bed.

Carruthers smiled a little wryly, shrugged his shoulders--and presented
Jimmie Dale to Inspector Clayton.

"Mr. Matthewson, a new man of ours--inspector."

"Glad to know you, Mr. Matthewson," said the inspector.

Jimmie Dale found his hand grasped by another that was flabby and
unpleasantly moist; and found himself looking into a face that was red,
with heavy rolls of unhealthy fat terminating in a double chin and a
thick, apoplectic neck--a huge, round face, with rat's eyes.

Clayton dropped Jimmie Dale's hand, and waved his own in the air. Jimmie
Dale remained modestly on the outside of the circle as the reporters
gathered around the police inspector.

"Now, then," said Clayton coarsely, "the guy that's croaked there is
Metzer, Jake Metzer. Get that?"

Jimmie Dale, scribbling hurriedly in his notebook like all the rest,
turned a little toward the bed, and his lower jaw crept out the fraction
of an inch. Both gas jets in the room were turned on full, giving ample
light. A man fully dressed, a man of perhaps forty, lay upon his back on
the bed, one arm outflung across the bedspread, the other dangling,
with fingers just touching the floor, the head at an angle and off the
pillow. It was as though he had been carried to the bed and flung upon
it after the deed had been committed. Jimmie Dale's eyes shifted and
swept the room. Yes, everything was in disorder, as though there had
been a struggle--a chair upturned, a table canted against the wall,
broken pieces of crockery from the washstand on the carpet, and--

"Metzer was a stool pigeon, see?" went on Clayton, "and he lived here.
Moriarty wasn't on to him. Metzer stood in thick with a wider circle of
crooks than any other snitch in New York."

Jimmie Dale, still scribbling as Clayton talked, stepped to the bed and
leaned over the murdered man. The murder had been done with a blackjack
evidently--a couple of blows. The left side of the temple was crushed
in. Right in the middle of the forehead, pasted there, a gray-colored,
diamond shaped paper seal flaunted itself--the device of the Gray Seal.
In Jimmie Dale' hand, hidden as he turned his back, the tiny combination
of powerful lenses was focused on the seal.

Clayton guffawed. "That's right!" he called out. "Take a good look.
That's a bright young man you've got, Carruthers."

Jimmie Dale looked up a little sheepishly--and got a grin from the
assembled reporters, and a scowl from Carruthers.

"Now, then," continued Clayton, "here's the facts--as much of 'em as I
can let you boys print at present. You know I'm stretching a point
to let you in here--don't forget that when you come to write up the
case--honour where's honour's due, you know. Well, me and Metzer there
was getting ready to close down on a big piece of game, and I was over
here in this room talking to him about it early this afternoon. We had
it framed to get our man to-night--see? I left Metzer, say, about three
o'clock, and he was to show up over at headquarters with another little
bit of evidence we wanted at eight o'clock to-night."

Jimmie Dale was listening--to every word. But he stooped now again over
the murdered man's head deliberately, though he felt the inspector's
rat's eyes upon him--stooped, and, with his finger nail, lifted back the
right-hand point of the diamond-shaped seal where it bordered a faint
thread of blood on the man's forehead.

There was a bull-like roar from the inspector, and he burst through the
ring of reporters, and grabbed Jimmie Dale by the shoulder.

"Here you, what in hell are you doing!" he spluttered angrily.

Embarrassed and confused, Jimmie Dale drew back, glanced around, and
smiled again a little sheepishly as his eyes rested on the red-flushed
jowl of the inspector.

"I--I wanted to see how it was stuck on," he explained inanely.

"Stuck on!" bellowed Clayton. "I'll show you how it's STUCK on, if you
monkey around here! Don't you know any better than that! Where were you
dragged up anyway? The coroner hasn't been here yet. You're a hot cub
of a reporter, you are!" He turned to Carruthers. "Y'ought to get out
printed instructions for 'em before you turn 'em loose!" he snapped.

Carruthers' face was red with mortification. There was a grin, expanded,
on the faces of the others.

"Stand away from that bed!" roared Clayton at Jimmie Dale. "And if you
go near it again, I'll throw you out of here bodily!"

Jimmie Dale edged away, and, eyes lowered, fumbled nervously with the
leaves of his notebook.

Clayton grunted, glared at Jimmie Dale for an instant viciously--and
resumed his story.

"I was saying," he said, "that Metzer was to come to headquarters at
eight o'clock this evening. Well, he didn't show up. That looked queer.
It was mighty important business. We was after one of the biggest hauls
we'd ever pulled off. I waited till nine o'clock, an hour ago, and I
was getting nervous. Then I started over here to find out what was the
matter. When I got here I asked Moriarty if he'd seen Metzer. Moriarty
said he hadn't since I was here before. He was a little suspicious that
I had something on Metzer--see? Well, by pumping Moriarty, he admitted
that Metzer had had a visitor about an hour after I left."

"Who was it? Know what his name is, inspector?" asked one of the
reporters quickly.

Inspector Clayton winked heavily. "Don't be greedy boys," he grinned.

"You mean you've got him?" burst out another one of the men excitedly.

"Sure! Sure, I've got him." Inspector Clayton waved his fat hand airily.
"Or I will have before morning--but I ain't saying anything more till
it's over." He smiled significantly. "Well, that's about all. You've
got the details right around you. I left Moriarty downstairs and came up
here, and found just what you see--Metzer laying on the bed there, and
the gray seal stuck on his forehead--and"--he ended abruptly--"I'll have
the Gray Seal himself behind the bars by morning."

A chorus of ejaculations rose from the reporters, while their pencils
worked furiously.

Then Jimmie Dale appeared to have an inspiration. Jimmie Dale turned a
leaf in his notebook and began to sketch rapidly, cocking his head now
on one side now on the other. With a few deft strokes he had outlined
the figure of Inspector Clayton. The reporter beside Jimmie Dale leaned
over to inspect the work, and another did likewise. Jimmie Dale drew
in Clayton's face most excellently, if somewhat flatteringly; and then,
with a little flourish of pride, wrote under the drawing: "The Man Who
Captured the Gray Seal."

"That's a cracking good sketch!" pronounced the reporter at his side.
"Let the inspector see it."

"What is it?" demanded Clayton, scowling.

Jimmie Dale handed him the notebook modestly.

Inspector Clayton took it, looked at it, looked at Jimmie Dale; then his
scowl relaxed into a self-sufficient and pleased smile, and he grunted

"That's the stuff to put over," he said. "Mabbe you're not much of
a reporter, but you can draw. Y're all right, sport--y're all right.
Forget what I said to you a while ago."

Jimmie Dale smiled too--deprecatingly. And put the notebook in his

An officer entered the room hurriedly, and, drawing Clayton aside, spoke
in an undertone. A triumphant and malicious grin settled on Clayton's
features, and he started with a rush for the door.

"Come around to headquarters in two hours, boys," he called as he went
out, "and I'll have something more for you."

The room cleared, the reporters tumbling downstairs to make for the
nearest telephones to get their "copy" into their respective offices.

On the street, a few doors up from the house where they were free from
the crowd, Carruthers halted Jimmie Dale.

"Jimmie," he said reproachfully, "you certainly made a mark of us both.
There wasn't any need to play the 'cub' so egregiously. However, I'll
forgive you for the sake of the sketch--hand it over, Jimmie; I'm going
to reproduce it in the first edition."

"It wasn't drawn for reproduction, Carruthers--at least not yet," said
Jimmie Dale quietly.

Carruthers stared at him. "Eh?" he asked blankly.

"I've taken a dislike to Clayton," said Jimmie Dale whimsically. "He's
too patently after free advertising, and I'm not going to help along his
boost. You can't have it, old man, so let's think about something
else. What'll they do with that bit of paper that's on the poor devil's
forehead up there, for instance."

"Say," said Carruthers, "does it strike you that you're acting queer?
You haven't been drinking, have you, Jimmie?"

"What'll they do with it?" persisted Jimmie Dale.

"Well," said Carruthers, smiling a little tolerantly, "they'll
photograph it and enlarge the photograph, and label it 'Exhibit A' or
'Exhibit B' or something like that--and file it away in the archives
with the fifty or more just like it that are already in their

"That's what I thought," observed Jimmie Dale. He took Carruthers by the
lapel of the coat. "I'd like a photograph of that. I'd like it so much
that I've got to have it. Know the chap that does that work for the

"Yes," admitted Carruthers.

"Very good!" said Jimmie Dale crisply, "Get an extra print of the
enlargement from him then--for a consideration--whatever he asks--I'll
pay for it."

"But what for?" demanded Carruthers. "I don't understand."

"Because," said Jimmie Dale very seriously, "put it down to imagination
or whatever you like, I think I smell something fishy here."

"You WHAT!" exclaimed Carruthers in amazement. "You're not joking, are
you, Jimmie?"

Jimmie Dale laughed shortly. "It's so far from a joke," he said, in
a low tone, "that I want your word you'll get that photograph into my
hands by to-morrow afternoon, no matter what transpires in the meantime.
And look here, Carruthers, don't think I'm playing the silly thickhead,
and trying to mystify you. I'm no detective or anything like that. I've
just got an idea that apparently hasn't occurred to any one else--and,
of course, I may be all wrong. If I am, I'm not going to say a word even
to you, because it wouldn't be playing fair with some one else; if I'm
right the MORNING NEWS-ARGUS gets the biggest scoop of the century. Will
you go in on that basis?"

Carruthers put out his hand impulsively. "If you're in earnest,
Jimmie--you bet!"

"Good!" returned Jimmie Dale. "The photograph by to-morrow afternoon
then. And now--"

"And now," said Caruthers, "I've got to hurry over to the office and get
a write-up man at work. Will you come along, or meet me at headquarters
later? Clayton said in two hours he'd--"

"Neither," said Jimmie Dale. "I'm not interested in headquarters. I'm
going home."

"Well, all right then," Carruthers returned. "You can bank on me for
to-morrow. Good-night, Jimmie."

"Good-night, old man," said Jimmie Dale, and, turning, walked briskly
toward the Bowery.

But Jimmie Dale did not go home. He walked down the Bowery for three
blocks, crossed to the east side, and turned down a cross street. Two
blocks more he walked in this direction, and halfway down the next.
Here he paused an instant--the street was dimly lighted, almost dark,
deserted. Jimmie Dale edged close to the houses until his shadow blended
with the shadows of the walls--and slipped suddenly into a pitch-black

He opened a door, stepped into an unlighted hallway where the air was
close and evil smelling, mounted a stairway, and halted before another
door on the first landing. There was the low clicking of a lock, three
times repeated, and he entered a room, closing and fastening the door
behind him.

Jimmie Dale called it his "Sanctuary." In one of the worst
neighbourhoods of New York, where no questions were asked as long as the
rent was paid, it had the further advantage of three separate exits--one
by the areaway where he had entered; one from the street itself; and
another through a back yard with an entry into a saloon that fronted on
the next street. It was not often that Jimmie Dale used his Sanctuary,
but there had been times when it was no more nor less than exactly what
he called it--a sanctuary!

He stepped to the window, assured himself that the shade was down--and
lighted the gas, blinking a little as the yellow flame illuminated the

It was a rough place, dirty, uninviting; a bedroom, furnished in the
most scanty fashion. Neither, apparently, was there anything suspicious
about it to reward one curious enough to break in during the owner's
absence--some rather disreputable clothes hanging on the wall, and flung
untidily across the bed--that was all.

Alone now, Jimmie Dale's face was strained and anxious and,
occasionally, as he undressed himself, his hands clenched until his
knuckles grew white. The gray seal on the murdered man's forehead was
a GENUINE GRAY SEAL--one of Jimmie Dale's own. There was no doubt of
that--he had satisfied himself on that point.

Where had it come from? How had it been obtained? Jimmie Dale carefully
placed the clothes he had taken off under the mattress, pulled a
disreputable collarless flannel shirt over his head, and pulled on a
disreputable pair of boots. There were only two sources of supply. His
own--and the collection that the police had made, which Carruthers had
referred to.

Jimmie Dale lifted a corner of the oilcloth in a corner of the room,
lifted a piece of the flooring, lifted out a little box which he placed
upon the rickety table, and sat down before a cracked mirror. Who was
it that would have access to the gray seals in the possession of the
police, since, obviously, it was one of those that was on the dead man's
forehead? The answer came quick enough--came with the sudden out-thrust
of Jimmie Dale's lower jaw. ONE OF THE POLICE THEMSELVES--no one else.
Clayton's heavy, cunning face, Clayton's shifty eyes, Clayton's sudden
rush when he had touched the dead man's forehead, pictured themselves
in a red flash of fury before Jimmie Dale. There was no mask now, no
facetiousness, no acted part--only a merciless rage, and the muscles of
Jimmie Dale's face quivered and twitched. MURDER, foisted, shifted upon
another, upon the Gray Seal--making of that name a calumny--ruining
forever the work that she and he might do!

And then Jimmie Dale smiled mirthlessly, with thinning lips. The box
before him was open. His fingers worked quickly--a little wax behind the
ears, in the nostrils, under the upper lip, deftly placed-hands, wrists,
neck, throat, and face received their quota of stain, applied with an
artist's touch--and then the spruce, muscular Jimmie Dale, transformed
into a slouching, vicious-featured denizen of the underworld, replaced
the box under the flooring, pulled a slouch hat over his eyes,
extinguished the gas, and went out.

Jimmie Dale's range of acquaintanceship was wide--from the upper strata
of the St. James Club to the elite of New York's gangland. And, adored
by the one, he was trusted implicitly by the other--not understood,
perhaps, by the latter, for he had never allied himself with any of
their nefarious schemes, but trusted implicitly through long years of
personal contact. It had stood Jimmie Dale in good stead before, this
association, where, in a sort of strange, carefully guarded exchange,
the news of the underworld was common property to those without the law.
To New York in its millions, the murder of Metzer, the stool pigeon,
would be unknown until the city rose in the morning to read the
sensational details over the breakfast table; here, it would already be
the topic of whispered conversations, here it had probably been known
long before the police had discovered the crime. Especially would it be
expected to be known to Pete Lazanis, commonly called the Runt, who
was a power below the dead line and, more pertinent still, one in whose
confidence Jimmie Dale had rejoiced for years.

Jimmie Dale, as Larry the Bat--a euphonious "monaker" bestowed possibly
because this particular world knew him only by night--began a search for
the Runt. From one resort to another he hurried, talking in the accepted
style through one corner of his mouth to hard-visaged individuals behind
dirty, reeking bars that were reared on equally dirty and foul-smelling
sawdust-strewn floors; visiting dance halls, secretive back rooms, and
certain Chinese pipe joints.

But the Runt was decidedly elusive. There had been no news of him, no
one had seen him--and this after fully an hour had passed since Jimmie
Dale had left Carruthers in front of Moriarty's. The possibilities
however were still legion--numbered only by the numberless dives and
dens sheltered by that quarter of the city.

Jimmie Dale turned into Chatham Square, heading for the Pagoda Dance
Hall. A man loitering at the curb shot a swift, searching glance at him
as he slouched by. Jimmie Dale paused in the doorway of the Pagoda and
looked up and down the street. The man he had passed had drawn a little
closer; another man in an apparently aimless fashion lounged a few yards

"Something up," muttered Jimmie Dale to himself. "Lansing, of
headquarters, and the other looks like Milrae."

Jimmie Dale pushed in through the door of the Pagoda. A bedlam of noise
surged out at him--a tin-pan piano and a mandolin were going furiously
from a little raised platform at the rear; in the centre of the room a
dozen couples were in the throes of the tango and the bunny-hug; around
the sides, at little tables, men and women laughed and applauded and
thumped time on the tabletops with their beer mugs; while waiters, with
beer-stained aprons and unshaven faces, juggled marvelous handfuls of
glasses and mugs from the bar beside the platform to the patrons at the

Jimmie Dale's eyes swept the room in a swift, comprehensive glance,
fixed on a little fellow, loudly dressed, who shared a table halfway
down the room with a woman in a picture hat, and a smile of relief
touched his lips. The Runt at last!

He walked down the room, caught the Runt's eyes significantly as he
passed the table, kept on to a door between the platform and the bar,
opened it, and went out into a lighted hallway, at one end of which a
door opened onto the street, and at the other a stairway led above.

The Runt joined him. "Wot's de row, Larry?" inquired the Runt.

"Nuthin' much," said Jimmie Dale. "Only I t'ought I'd let youse know.
I was passin' Moriarty's an' got de tip. Say, some guy's croaked Jake
Metzer dere."

"Aw, ferget it!" observed the Runt airily. "Dat's stale. Was wise to dat
hours ago."

Jimmie Dale's face fell. "But I just come from dere," he insisted; "an'
de harness bulls only just found it out."

"Mabbe," grunted the Runt. "But Metzer got his early in de

Jimmie Dale looked quickly around him--and then leaned toward the Runt.

"Wot's de lay, Runt?" he whispered.

The Runt pulled down one eyelid, and, with his knowing grin, the
cigarette, clinging to his upper lip, sagged down in the opposite corner
of his mouth.

Jimmie Dale grinned, too--in a flash inspiration had come to Jimmie

"Say, Runt"--he jerked his head toward the street door--"wot's de fly
cops doin' out dere?"

The grin vanished from the Runt's lips. He stared for a second wildly at
Jimmie Dale, and then clutched at Jimmie Dale's arm.

"De WOT?" he said hoarsely.

"De fly cops," Jimmie Dale repeated in well-simulated surprise. "Dey was
dere when I come in--Lansing an' Milrae, an--"

The Runt shot a hurried glance at the stairway, and licked his lips as
though they had gone suddenly dry.

"My Gawd, I--" He gasped, and shrank hastily back against the wall
beside Jimmie Dale.

The door from the street had opened noiselessly, instantly. Black forms
bulked there--then a rush of feet--and at the head of half a dozen men,
the face of Inspector Clayton loomed up before Jimmie Dale. There was
a second's pause in the rush; and, in the pause, Clayton's voice, in a
vicious undertone:

"You two ginks open your traps, and I'll run you both in!"

And then the rush passed, and swept on up the stairs.

Jimmie Dale looked at the Runt. The cigarette dangled limply; the Runt's
eyes were like a hunted beast's.

"Dey got him!" he mumbled. "It's Stace--Stace Morse. He come to me after
croakin' Metzer, an' he's been hidin' up dere all afternoon."

Stace Morse--known in gangland as a man with every crime in the calendar
to his credit, and prominent because of it! Something seemed to go
suddenly queer inside of Jimmie Dale. Stace Morse! Was he wrong, after
all? Jimmie Dale drew closer to the Runt.

"Yer givin' me a steer, ain't youse?" He spoke again from the corner
of his mouth, almost inaudibly. "Are youse sure it was Stace croaked
Metzer? Wot fer? How'd yer know?"

The Runt was listening, his eyes strained toward the stairs. The hall
door to the street was closed, but both were quite well aware that there
was an officer on guard outside.

"He told me," whispered the Runt. "Metzer was fixin' ter snitch on him
ter-night. Dey've got de goods on Stace, too. He made a bum job of it."

"Why didn't he get out of de country den when he had de chanst, instead
of hangin' around here all afternoon?" demanded Jimmie Dale.

"He was broke," the Runt answered. "We was gettin' de coin fer him ter
fade away wid ter-night, an'--"

A revolver shot from above cut short his words. Came then the sound of a
struggle, oaths, the shuffling tread of feet--but in the dance hall the
piano still rattled on, the mandolin twanged, voices sang and applauded,
and beer mugs thumped time.

They were on the stairs now, the officers, half carrying, half dragging
some one between them--and the man they dragged cursed them with utter
abandon. As they reached the bottom of the stairs, Jimmie Dale
caught sight of the prisoner's face--not a prepossessing
one--villainous,--low-browed, contorted with a mixture of fear and rage.

"It's a lie! A lie! A lie!" the man shrieked. "I never seen him in me
life--blast you!--curse you!--d'ye hear!"

Inspector Clayton caught Jimmie Dale and the Runt by the collars.

"There's nothing to interest you around here!" he snapped maliciously.
"Go on, now--beat it!" And he pushed them toward the door.

They had heard the disturbance in the dance hall now and the occupants
were swarming to the sidewalk. A patrol wagon came around the corner. In
the crowd Jimmie Dale slipped away from the Runt.

Was he wrong, after all? A fierce passion seized him. It was Stace Morse
who had murdered Metzer, the Runt had said. In Jimmie Dale's brain the
words began to reiterate themselves in a singsong fashion: "It was Stace
Morse. It was Stace Morse." Then his lips drew tight together. WAS it
Stace Morse? He would have given a good deal for a chance to talk to the
man--even for a minute. But there was no possibility of that now. Later,
to-morrow perhaps, if he was wrong, after all!

Jimmie Dale returned to the Sanctuary, removed from his person all
evidences of Larry the Bat--and from the Sanctuary went home to
Riverside Drive.

In his den there, in the morning after breakfast, Jason, the butler,
brought him the papers. Three-inch headlines in red ink screamed,
exulted, and shrieked out the news that the Gray Seal, in the person of
Stace Morse, fence, yeggman and murderer, had been captured. The public,
if it had held any private admiration for the one-time mysterious crook
could now once and forever disillusion itself. The Gray Seal was Stace
Morse--and Stace Morse was of the dregs of the city's scum, a pariah,
an outcast, with no single redeeming trait to lift him from the ruck
of mire and slime that had strewn his life from infancy. The face of
Inspector Clayton, blandly self-complacent, leaped out from the paper
to meet Jimmie Dale's eyes--and with it a column and a half of perfervid

Something at first like dismay, the dismay of impotency, filled Jimmie
Dale--and then, cold, leaving him unnaturally calm, the old merciless
rage took its place. There was nothing to do now but wait--wait until
Carruthers should send that photograph. Then if, after all, he were
wrong--then he must find some other way. But was he wrong! The notebook
that Carruthers had given him, open at the sketch he had made of
Clayton, lay upon the desk. Jimmie Dale picked it up--he had already
spent quite a little time over it before breakfast--and examined it
again minutely, even resorting to his magnifying glass. He put it down
as a knock sounded at the door, and Jason entered with a silver card
tray. From Carruthers already! Jimmie Dale stepped quickly forward--and
then Jimmie Dale met the old man's eyes. It wasn't from Carruthers--it
was from HER!

"The same shuffer brought it, Master Jim," said Jason.

Jimmie Dale snatched the envelope from the tray, and waved the other
from the room. As the door closed, he tore open the letter. There was
just a single line:

Jimmie--Jimmie, you haven't failed, have you?

Jimmie Dale stared at it. Failed! Failed--HER! The haggard look was in
his face again. It was the bond between them that was at stake--the Gray
Seal--the bond that had come, he knew for all time in that instant, to
mean his life.

"God knows!" he muttered hoarsely, and flung himself into a lounging
chair, still staring at the note.

The hours dragged by. Luncheon time arrived and passed--and then by
special messenger the little package from Carruthers came.

Jimmie Dale started to undo the string, then laid the package down,
and held out his hands before him for inspection. They were trembling
visibly. It was a strange condition for Jimmie Dale either to witness or
experience, unlike him, foreign to him.

"This won't do, Jimmie," he said grimly, shaking his head.

He picked up the package again, opened it, and from between two pieces
of cardboard took out a large photographic print. A moment, two, Jimmie
Dale examined it, used the magnifying glass again; and then a strange
gleam came into the dark eyes, and his lips moved.

"I've won," said Jimmie Dale, with ominous softness. "I've WON!"

He was standing beside the rosewood desk, and he reached for the phone.
Carruthers would be at home now--he called Carruthers there. After a
moment or two he got the connection.

"This is Jimmie, Carruthers," he said. "Yes, I got it. Thanks. . . .
Yes. . . . Listen. I want you to get Inspector Clayton, and bring him up
here at once. . . . What? No, no--no! . . . How? . . . Why--er--tell him
you're going to run a full page of him in the Sunday edition, and you
want him to sit for a sketch. He'd go anywhere for that. . . . Yes. . . .
Half an hour. . . . YES. . . . Good-bye."

Jimmie Dale hung up the receiver; and, hastily now, began to write upon
a pad that lay before him on the desk. The minutes passed. As he wrote,
he scored out words and lines here and there, substituting others. At
the end he had covered three large pages with, to any one but himself,
an indecipherable scrawl. These he shoved aside now, and, very
carefully, very legibly, made a copy on fresh sheets. As he finished, he
heard a car draw up in front of the house. Jimmie Dale folded the copied
sheets neatly, tucked them in his pocket, lighted a cigarette, and was
lolling lazily in his chair as Jason announced: "Mr. Carruthers, sir,
and another gentleman to see you."

"Show them up, Jason," instructed Jimmie Dale.

Jimmie Dale rose from his chair as they came in. Jason, well-trained
servant, closed the door behind them.

"Hello, Carruthers; hello, inspector," said Jimmie Dale pleasantly, and
waved them to seats. "Take this chair, Carruthers." He motioned to one
at his elbow. "Glad to see you, inspector--try that one in front of the
desk, you'll find it comfortable."

Carruthers, trying to catch Jimmie Dale's eye for some sort of a cue,
and, failing, sat down. Inspector Clayton stared at Jimmie Dale.

"Oh, it's YOU, eh?" His eyes roved around the room, fastened for an
instant on some of Jimmie Dale's work on an easel, came back finally
to Jimmie Dale--and he plumped himself down in the chair indicated.
"Thought you was more'n a cub reporter," he remarked, with a grin.
"You were too slick with your pencil. Pretty fine studio you got here.
Carruthers says you're going to draw me."

Jimmie Dale smiled--not pleasantly--and leaned suddenly over the desk.

"Yes," he said slowly, a grim intonation in his voice, "going to draw

With an exclamation, Clayton slued around in his chair, half rose, and
his shifty eyes, small and cunning, bored into Jimmie Dale's face.

"What d'ye mean by that?" he snapped out

"Just exactly what I say," replied Jimmie Dale curtly. "No more,
no less. But first, not to be too abrupt, I want to join with the
newspapers in congratulating you on the remarkable--shall I call it
celerity, or acumen?--with which you solved the mystery of Metzer's
death, and placed the murderer behind the bars. It is really remarkable,
inspector, so remarkable, in fact, that it's almost--SUSPICIOUS. Don't
you think so? No? Well, that's what Mr. Carruthers was good enough to
bring you up here to talk over--in an intimate and confidential way, you

Inspector Clayton surged up from his chair to his feet, his fists
clenched, the red sweeping over his face--and then he shook one fist at

"So that's your game, is it!" he stormed. "Trying to crawl out of that
twenty-five thousand reward, eh? And as for you"--he turned on Jimmie
Dale--"you've rigged up a nice little plant between you, eh? Well, it
won't work--and I'll make you squirm for this, both of you, damn you,
before I'm through!" He glared from one to the other for a moment--then
swung on his heel. "Good-afternoon, gentlemen," he sneered, as he
started for the door.

He was halfway across the room before Jimmie Dale spoke.


Clayton turned. Jimmie Dale was still leaning over the desk, but now one
elbow was propped upon it, and in the most casual way a revolver covered
Inspector Clayton.

"If you attempt to leave this room," said Jimmie Dale, without raising
his voice, "I assure you that I shall fire with as little compunction as
though I were aiming at a mad dog--and I apologise to all mad dogs for
coupling your name with them." His voice rang suddenly cold. "Come back
here, and sit down in that chair!"

The colour ebbed slowly from Clayton's face. He hesitated--then sullenly
retraced his steps; hesitated again as he reached the chair, and finally
sat down.

"What--what d'ye mean by this?" he stammered, trying to bluster.

"Just this," said Jimmie Dale. "That I accuse you of the murder of Jake

"Good God!" burst suddenly from Carruthers.

"You lie!" yelled Clayton--and again he surged up from his chair.

"That is what Stace Morse said," said Jimmie Dale coolly. "Sit down!"

Then Clayton tried to laugh. "You're--you're having a joke, ain't you?
It was Stace--I can prove it. Come down to headquarters, and I can prove
it. I got the goods on him all the way. I tell you"--his voice rose
shrilly--"it was Stace Morse."

"You are a despicable hound," said Jimmie Dale, through set lips.
"Here"--he handed the revolver over to Carruthers--"keep him covered,
Carruthers. You're going to the CHAIR for this, Clayton," he said, in
a fierce monotone. "The chair! You can't send another there in your
place--this time. Shall I draw you now--true to life? You've been
grafting for years on every disreputable den in your district. Metzer
was going to show you up; and so, Metzer being in the road, you removed
him. And you seized on the fact of Stace Morse having paid a visit to
him this afternoon to fix the crime on--Stace Morse. Proofs? Oh, yes, I
know you've manufactured proofs enough to convict him--if there weren't
stronger proofs to convict YOU."

"Convict ME!" Clayton's lower jaw hung loosely; but still he made
an effort at bluster. "You haven't a thing on me--not a thing--not a

Jimmie Dale smiled again--unpleasantly.

"You are quite wrong, Clayton. See--here." He took a sheet of paper from
the drawer of his desk.

Clayton reached for it quickly. "What is it?" he demanded.

Jimmie Dale drew it back out of reach.

"Just a minute," he said softly. "You remember, don't you, that in the
presence of Carruthers here, of myself, and of half a dozen reporters,
you stated that you had been alone with Metzer in his room at three
o'clock yesterday, and that it was you--alone--who found the body later
on at nine o'clock? Yes? I mention this simply to show that from your
own lips the evidence is complete that you had an OPPORTUNITY to commit
the crime. Now you may look at this, Clayton." He handed over the sheet
of paper.

Clayton took it, stared at it, turning it over from first one side to
the other. Then a sort of relief seemed to come to him and he gulped.

"Nothing but a damned piece of blank paper!" he mumbled.

Jimmie Dale reached over and took back the sheet.

"You're wrong again, Clayton," he said calmly. "It WAS quite blank
before I handed it to you--but not now. I noticed yesterday that your
hands were generally moist. I am sure they are more so now--excitement,
you know. Carruthers, see that he doesn't interrupt."

From a drawer, Jimmie Dale took out a little black bottle, the notebook
he had used the day before, and the photograph Carruthers had sent him.
On the sheet of paper Clayton had just handled, Jimmie Dale sprinkled a
little powder from the bottle.

"Lampblack," explained Jimmie Dale. He shook the paper carefully,
allowing the loose powder to fall on the desk blotter--and held out the
sheet toward Clayton. "Rather neat, isn't it? A very good impression,
too. Your thumb print, Clayton. Now don't move. You may look--not
touch." He laid the paper down on the desk in front of Clayton. Beside
it he placed the notebook, open at the sketch--a black thumb print now
upon it. "You recall handling this yesterday, I'm sure, Clayton. I tried
the same experiment with the lampblack on it this morning, you see. And
this"--beside the notebook he placed the police photograph; that,
too, in its enlargement, showed, sharply defined, a thumb print on
a diamond-shaped background. "You will no doubt recognise it as an
official photograph, enlarged, taken of the gray seal on Metzer's
forehead--AND THE THUMB PRINT OF METZER'S MURDERER. You have only to
glance at the little scar at the edge of the centre loop to satisfy
yourself that the three are identical. Of course, there are a dozen
other points of similarity equally indisputable, but--"

Jimmie Dale stopped. Clayton was on his feet--rocking on his feet. His
face was deathlike in its pallor. Moisture was oozing from his forehead.

"I didn't do it! I didn't do it!" he cried out wildly. "My God, I tell
you, I DIDN'T do it--and--and--that would send me to the chair."

"Yes," said Jimmie Dale coldly, "and that's precisely where you're
going--to the chair."

The man was beside himself now--racked to the soul by a paroxysm of

"I'm innocent--innocent!" he screamed out. "Oh, for God's sake, don't
send an innocent man to his death. It WAS Stace Morse. Listen! Listen!
I'll tell the truth." He was clawing with his hands, piteously, over the
desk at Jimmie Dale. "When the big rewards came out last week I stole
one of the gray seals from the bunch at headquarters to--to use it the
first time any crime was committed when I was sure I could lay my hands
on the man who did it. Don't you see? Of course he'd deny he was the
Gray Seal, just as he'd deny that he was guilty--but I'd have the
proof both ways and--and I'd collect the rewards, and--and--" The man
collapsed into the chair.

Carruthers was up from his seat, his hands gripping tight on the edge of
the desk as he leaned over it.

"Jimmie--Jimmie--what does this mean?" he gasped out.

Jimmie Dale smiled--pleasantly now.

"That he has told the truth," said Jimmie Dale quietly. "It is quite
true that Stace Morse committed the murder. Shows up the value of
circumstantial evidence though, doesn't it? This would certainly have
got him off, and convicted Clayton here before any jury in the land. But
the point is, Carruthers, that Stace Morse ISN'T the Gray Seal--and that
the Gray Seal is NOT a murderer."

Clayton looked up. "You--you believe me?" he stammered eagerly.

Jimmie Dale whirled on him in a sudden sweep of passion.

"NO, you cur!" he flashed. "It's not you I believe. I simply wanted your
confession before witnesses." He whipped the three written sheets from
his pocket. "Here, substantially, is that confession written out." He
passed it to Carruthers. "Read it to him, Carruthers."

Carruthers read it aloud.

"Now," said Jimmie Dale grimly, "this spells ruin for you, Clayton. You
don't deserve a chance to escape prison bars, but I'm going to give you
one, for you're going to get it pretty stiff, anyhow. If you refuse to
sign this, I'll hand you over to the district attorney in half an hour,
and Carruthers and I will swear to your confession; on the other hand,
if you sign it, Carruthers will not be able to print it until to-morrow
morning, and that gives you something like fourteen hours to put
distance between yourself and New York. Here is a pen--if you are quick
enough to take us by surprise once you have signed, you might succeed in
making a dash for that door and effecting your escape--without forcing
us to compound a felony--understand?"

Clayton's hand trembled violently as he seized the pen. He scrawled
his name--looked from one to the other--wet his lips--and then, taking
Jimmie Dale at his word, rushed for the door--and the door slammed
behind him.

Carruthers' face was hard. "What did you let him go for, Jimmie?" he
said uncompromisingly.

"Selfishness. Pure selfishness," said Jimmie Dale softly. "They'd guy me
unmercifully if they ever heard of it at the St. James Club. The
honour is all yours, Carruthers. I don't appear on the stage. That's
understood? Yes? Well, then"--he handed over the signed confession--"is
the 'scoop' big enough?"

Carruthers fingered the sheets, but his eyes in a bewildered way
searched Jimmie Dale's face.

"Big enough!" he echoed, as though invoking the universe. "It's the
biggest thing the newspaper game has ever known. But how did you come to
do it? What started you? Where did you get your lead?"

"Why, from you, I guess, Carruthers," Jimmie Dale answered thoughtfully,
with artfully puckered brow. "I remembered that you had said last week
that the Gray Seal never left finger marks on his work--and I saw one on
the seal on Metzer's forehead. Then, you know, I lifted one corner where
the seal overlapped a thread of blood, and, underneath, the thread of
blood wasn't in the slightest disturbed; so, of course, I knew the seal
had been put on quite a long time after the man was dead--not until the
blood had dried thoroughly, to a crust, you know, so that even the damp
surface of the sticky side of the seal hadn't affected it. And then,
I took a dislike to Clayton somehow--and put two and two together,
and took a flyer in getting him to handle the notebook. I guess that's
all--no other reason on earth. Jolly lucky, don't you think?"

Carruthers didn't say anything for a moment. When he spoke, it was

"You saved me twenty-five thousand dollars on that reward, Jimmie."

"That's the only thing I regret," said Jimmie Dale brightly. "It wasn't
nice of you, Carruthers, to turn on the Gray Seal that way. And
it strikes me you owe the chap, whoever he is, a pretty emphatic
exoneration after what you said in this morning's edition."

"Jimmie," said Carruthers earnestly. "You know what I thought of him
before. It's like a new lease of life to get back one's faith in him.
You leave it to me. I'll put the Gray Seal on a pedestal to-morrow that
will be worthy of the immortals--you leave it to me."

And Carruthers kept his word. Also, before the paper had been an hour
off the press, Carruthers received a letter. It thanked Carruthers
quite genuinely, even if couched in somewhat facetious terms, for his
"sweeping vindication," twitted him gently for his "backsliding,"
begged to remain "his gratefully," and in lieu of signature there was a
gray-coloured piece of paper shaped like this:


Only there were no fingerprints on it.



It was the following evening, and they had dined together again at the
St. James Club--Jimmie Dale, and Carruthers of the MORNING NEWS-ARGUS.
From Clayton and a discussion of the Metzer murder, the conversation had
turned, not illogically, upon the physiognomy of criminals in general.
Jimmie Dale, lazily ensconced now in a lounging chair in one of the
club's private library rooms, flicked a minute speck of cigar ash from
the sleeve of his dinner jacket, and smiled whimsically across the table
at his friend.

"Oh, I dare say there's a lot in physiognomy, Carruthers," he drawled.
"Never studied the thing, you know--that is, from the standpoint
of crime. Personally, I've only got one prejudice: I distrust, on
principle, the man who wears a perennial and pompous smirk--which isn't,
of course, strictly speaking, physiognomy at all. You see, a man can't
help his eyes being beady or his nose pronounced, but pomposity and a
smirk, now--" Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders.

Carruthers laughed--and then glanced ludicrously at Jimmie Dale, as the
door, ajar, was pushed open, and a man entered.

"Speaking of angels," murmured Jimmie Dale--and sat up in his chair.
"Hello, Markel!" he observed casually, "You've met Carruthers, of the
NEWS-ARGUS, haven't you?"

Markel was fat and important; he had beady black eyes, fastidiously
trimmed whiskers--and a pronounced smirk.

Markel blew his nose vigorously, coughed asthmatically, and held out his

"Of course, certainly," said he effusively. "I've met Carruthers several
times--used his sheet more than once to advertise a new bond flotation."

The dominant note in Markel's voice was an ingratiating and unpleasant
whine, and Carruthers nodded, not very cordially--and shook hands.

Markel went back to the door, closed it carefully, and returned to the

"Fact is," he smiled confidentially, "I saw you two come in here a few
minutes ago, and I've got something that I thought Carruthers might be
glad to have for his society column--say, in the Sunday edition."

He dove into the inside pocket of his coat, produced a large morocco
leather jeweller's case, and, holding it out over the table between
Carruthers and Jimmie Dale, suddenly snapped the cover open--and then,
with a complacent little chuckle that terminated in another fit of
coughing, spilled the contents on the table under the electric reading

Like a thing of living, pulsing fire it rolled before their eyes--a
magnificent diamond necklace, of wondrous beauty, gleaming and
scintillating as the light rays shot back from a thousand facets.

For a moment, both men gazed at it without a word.

"Little surprise for my wife," volunteered Markel, with a debonair wave
of his pudgy hand, and trying to make his voice sound careless.

The case lay open--patently displaying the name of the most famous
jewelry house in America. Jimmie Dale's eyes fixed on Markel's whiskers
where they were brushed outward in an ornate and fastidious gray-black

"By Jove!" he commented. "You don't do things by halves, do you,

"Two hundred and ten thousand dollars I paid for that little bunch of
gewgaws," said Markel, waving his hand again. Then he clapped Carruthers
heartily on the shoulder. "What do you think of it, Carruthers--eh?
Say, a photograph of it, and one of Mrs. Markel--eh? Please her, you
know--she's crazy on this society stunt--all flubdub to me of course.
How's it strike you, Carruthers?"

Carruthers, very evidently, liked neither the man nor his manners, but
Carruthers, above everything else, was a gentleman.

"To be perfectly frank with you, Mr. Markel," he said a little frigidly,
"I don't believe in this sort of thing. It's all right from a newspaper
standpoint, and we do it; but it's just in this way that owners of
valuable jewelry lay themselves open to theft. It simply amounts to
advising every crook in the country that you have a quarter of a million
at his disposal, which he can carry away in his vest pocket, once he can
get his hands on it--and you invite him to try."

Jimmie Dale laughed. "What Carruthers means, Markel, is that you'll have
the Gray Seal down your street. Carruthers talks of crooks generally,
but he thinks in terms of only one. He can't help it. He's been
trying so long to catch the chap that it's become an obsession. Eh,

Carruthers smiled seriously. "Perhaps," he admitted. "I hope, though,
for Mr. Markel's sake, that the Gray Seal won't take a fancy to it--if
he does, Mr. Markel can say good-bye to his necklace."

"Pouf!" coughed Markel arrogantly. "Overrated! His cleverness is all
in the newspaper columns. If he knows what's good for him, he'll know
enough to leave this alone."

Jimmie Dale was leaning over the table poking gingerly with the tip of
his forefinger at the centre stone in the setting, revolving it gently
to and fro in the light--a very large stone, whose weight would hardly
be less than fifteen carats. Jimmie Dale lowered his head for a closer
examination--and to hide a curious, mocking little gleam that crept into
his dark eyes.

"Yes, I should say you're right, Markel," he agreed judicially. "He
ought to know better than to touch this. It--it would be too hard to
dispose of."

"I'm not worrying," declared Markel importantly.

"No," said Jimmie Dale. "Two hundred and ten thousand, you said.
Any special--er--significance to the occasion, if the question's not
impertinent? Birthday, wedding anniversary--or something like that?"

"No, nothing like that!" Markel grinned, winked secretively, and rubbed
his hands together. "I'm feeling good, that's all--I'm going to make the
killing of my life to-morrow."

"Oh!" said Jimmie Dale.

Markel turned to Carruthers. "I'll let you in on that, too, Carruthers,
in a day or two, if you'll send a reporter around--financial man, you
know. It'll be worth your while. And now, how about this? What do you
say to a little article and the photos next Sunday?"

There was a slight hint of rising colour in Carruthers' face.

"If you'll send them to the society editor, I've no doubt he'll be able
to use them," he said brusquely.

"Right!" said Markel, and coughed, and patted Carruthers' shoulder
patronisingly again. "I'll just do that little thing." He picked up the
necklace, dangled it till it flashed and flashed again under the light,
then restored it very ostentatiously to its case, and the case to his
pocket. "Thanks awfully, Carruthers," he said, as he rose from his
chair. "See you again, Dale. Good-night!"

Carruthers glared at the door as it closed behind the man.

"Say it!" prodded Jimmie Dale sweetly. "Don't feel restrained because
you are a guest--I absolve you in advance."

"Rotter!" said Carruthers.

"Well," said Jimmie Dale softly. "You see--Carruthers?"

Carruthers' match crackled savagely as he lighted a cigar.

"Yes, I see," he growled. "But I don't see--you'll pardon my saying
so--how vulgarity like that ever acquired membership in the St. James

"Carruthers," said Jimmie Dale plaintively, "you ought to know better
than that. You know, to begin with, since it seems he has advertised
with you, that he runs some sort of brokerage business in Boston. He's
taken a summer home up here on Long Island, and some misguided chap put
him on the club's visitor's list. His card will NOT be renewed. Sleek
customer, isn't he? Trifle familiar--I was only introduced to him last

Carruthers grunted, broke his burned match into pieces, and began to
toss the pieces into an ash tray.

Jimmie Dale became absorbed in an inspection of his hands--those
wonderful hands with long, slim, tapering fingers, whose clean, pink
flesh masked a strength and power that was like to a steel vise.

Jimmie Dale looked up. "Going to print a nice little story for him about
the 'costliest and most beautiful necklace in America'?" he inquired

Carruthers scowled. "No," he said bluntly. "I am not. He'll read the
NEWS-ARGUS a long time before he reads anything about that, Jimmie."

But therein Carruthers was wrong--the NEWS-ARGUS carried the "story" of
Markel's diamond necklace in three-inch "caps" in red ink on the front
page in the next morning's edition--and Carruthers gloated over it
because the morning NEWS-ARGUS was the ONLY paper in New York that did.
Carruthers was to hear more of Markel and Markel's necklace than he
thought, though for the time being the subject dropped between the two

It was still early, barely ten o'clock, when Carruthers left the club,
and, preferring to walk to the newspaper offices, refused Jimmie Dale's
offer of his limousine. It was but five minutes later when Jimmie Dale,
after chatting for a moment or two with those about in the lobby, in
turn sought the coat room, where Markel was being assisted into his

"Getting home early, aren't you, Markel?" remarked Jimmie Dale

"Yes," said Markel, and ran his fingers fussily, comb fashion, through
his whiskers. "Quite a little run out to my place, you know--and with,
you know what, I don't care to be out too late."

"No, of course," concurred Jimmie Dale, getting into his own coat.

They walked out of the club together, and Markel climbed importantly
into the tonneau of a big gray touring car.

"Ah--home, Peters," he sniffed at his chauffeur; and then, with a
grandiloquent wave of his hand to Jimmie Dale: "'Night, Dale."

Jimmie Dale smiled with his eyes--which were hidden by the brim of his

"Good-night, Markel," he replied, and the smile crept curiously to
the corners of his mouth as he watched the gray car disappear down the

A limousine drew up, and Benson, Jimmie Dale's chauffeur, opened the

"Home, Mr. Dale?" he asked cheerily, touching his cap. "Yes,
Benson--home," said Jimmie Dale absently, and stepped into the car.

It was a luxurious car, as everything that belonged to Jimmie Dale was
luxurious--and he leaned back luxuriously on the cushions, extended
his legs luxuriously to their full length, plunged his hands into his
overcoat pockets--and then a change stole strangely, slowly over Jimmie

The sensitive fingers of his right hand in the pocket had touched, and
now played delicately over a sealed envelope that they had found there,
played over it as though indeed by the sense of touch alone they could
read the contents--and he drew his body gradually erect.

It was another of those mysterious missives from--HER. The texture of
the paper was invariably the same--like this one. How had it come there?
Collusion with the coat boy at the club? That was hardly probable.
Perhaps it had been there before he had entered the club for dinner--he
remembered, now, that there had been several people passing, and that he
had been jostled slightly in crossing the sidewalk. What, however, did
it matter? It was there mysteriously, as scores of others had come to
him mysteriously, with never a clew to her identity, to the identity of
his--he smiled a little grimly--accomplice in crime.

He took the envelope from his pocket and stared at it. His fingers had
not been at fault--it was one of hers. The faint, elusive, exquisite
fragrance of some rare perfume came to him as he held it.

"I'd give," said Jimmie Dale wistfully to himself--"I'd give everything
I own to know who you are--and some day, please God, I will know."

Jimmie Dale tore the envelope very gently, as though the tearing almost
were an act of desecration--and extracted the letter from within. He
began to read aloud hurriedly and in snatches:

"DEAR PHILANTHROPIC CROOK: Charleton Park Manor--Markel's house is the
second one from the gates on the right-hand side--library leads off
reception hall on left, door opposite staircase--telephone in reception
hall near vestibule entrance, left-hand side--safe is one of your
father's make, No. 14,321--clothes closet behind the desk--probably will
be kept in cash box--five servants; two men, three maids--quarters on
top story--Markel and wife occupy room over library--French windows to
dining room on opposite side of the house--opening on the lawn--get
it TO-NIGHT, Jimmie--TO-MORROW WOULD BE TOO LATE--dispose of it--see
fit--Henry Wilbur, Marshall Building, Broadway--fifth story--"

Through the glass-panelled front of the car, Jimmie Dale could see his
chauffeur's back, and the hand that held the letter dropped now to his
side, and Jimmie Dale stared--at his chauffeur's back. Then, presently,
he read the letter again, as though committing it to memory now; and
then, tearing the paper into tiny shreds, as he did with every one of
her communications, he reached out of the window and allowed the little
pieces to filter gradually from his hand.

The Gray Seal! He smiled in his whimsical way. If it were ever known!
He, Jimmie Dale, with his social standing, his wealth, his position--the
Gray Seal! Not a police official, not a secret-service bureau probably
in the civilised world, but knew the name--not a man, woman, or child
certainly in this great city around him but to whom it was as
familiar as their own! Danger? Yes. A battle of wits? Yes. His against
everybody's--even against Carruthers', his old college chum! For, even
as a reporter, before he had risen to the editorial desk, and even now
that he had, Carruthers had been one of the keenest on the scent of the
Gray Seal.

Danger? Yes. But it was worth it! Worth it a thousand times for the very
lure of the danger itself; but worth it most of all for his association
with her who, by some amazing means, verging indeed on the miraculous,
came into touch with all these things, and supplied him with the data on
which to work--that always some wrong might be righted, or gladness
come where there had been gloom before, or hope where there had been
despair--that into some fellow human's heart should come a gleam
of sunshine. Yes, in spite of the howls of the police, the virulent
diatribes of the press, an angry public screaming for his arrest,
conviction, and punishment, there were those perhaps who even on their
bended knees at night asked God's blessing on--the Gray Seal!

Was it strange, then, after all, that the police, seeking a clew through
motive, should have been driven to frenzy on every occasion in finding
themselves forever confronted with what, from every angle they were able
to view it, was quite a purposeless crime! On one point only they
were right, the old dogma, the old, old cry, old as the institution of
police, older than that, old since time immemorial--CHERCHEZ LA FEMME!
Quite right--but also quite purposeless! Jimmie Dale's eyes grew
wistful. He had been "hunting for the woman in the case" himself,
now, for months and years indefatigably, using every resource at his
command--quite purposelessly.

Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders. Why go over all this to-night--there
were other things to do. She had come to him again--and this time with
a matter that entailed more than ordinary difficulty, more than usual
danger, that would tax his wits and his skill to the utmost, not only
to succeed, but to get out of it himself with a whole skin. Markel--eh?
Jimmie Dale leaned back in his seat, clasped his hands behind his
head--and his eyes, half closed now, were studying Benson's back again
through the plate-glass front.

He was still sitting in that position as the car approached his
residence on Riverside Drive--but, as it came to a stop, and Benson
opened the door, it was a very alert Jimmie Dale that stepped to the

"Benson," he said crisply, "I am going downtown again later on, but I
shall drive myself. Bring the touring car around and leave it in front
of the house. I'll run it into the garage when I get back--you need not
wait up."

"Very good, sir," said Benson.

In the hallway, Jason, the butler, who had been butler to Jimmie Dale's
father before him, took Jimmie Dale's hat and coat.

"It's a fine evening, Master Jim," said the privileged old man

Jimmie Dale took out his silver cigarette case, selected a cigarette,
tapped it daintily on the cover of the case--and accepted the match the
old man hastily produced.

"Yes, Jason." said Jimmie Dale, pleasantly facetious, "it a fine night,
a glorious night, moon and stars and a balmy breeze--quite too fine,
indeed, to remain indoors. In fact, you might lay out my gray ulster; I
think I will go for a spin presently, when I have changed."

"Yes, sir," said Jason. "Anything else, Master Jim?"

"No; that's all, Jason. Don't sit up for me--you may go to bed now."

"Thank you, sir," said the old man.

Jimmie Dale went upstairs, opened the door of his own particular den on
the right of the landing, stepped inside, closed the door, switched on
the light--and Jimmie Dale's debonair nonchalance dropped from him as a
mask instantly--and it was another Jimmie Dale--the professional Jimmie

Quick now in every action, he swung aside the portiere that curtained
off the squat, barrel-shaped safe in the little alcove, opened the safe,
took out that curious leather girdle with its kit of burglar's tools,
added to it a flashlight and an automatic revolver, closed the safe--and
passed into his dressing room. Here, he proceeded to divest himself
rapidly of his evening clothes, selecting in their stead a suit of dark
tweed. He heard Jason come up the stairs, pass along the hall, and mount
the second flight to his own quarters; and presently came the sound of
an automobile without. The dressing room fronted on the Drive--Jimmie
Dale looked out. Benson was just getting out of the touring car.
Slipping the leather girdle, then, around his waist, Jimmie Dale put on
his vest, then his coat--and walked briskly downstairs.

Jason had laid out a gray ulster on the hall stand. Jimmie Dale put it
on, selected a leather cap with motor-goggle attachment that pulled down
almost to the tip of his nose, tucked a slouch hat into the pocket of
the ulster, and, leaving the house, climbed into his car.

He glanced at his watch as he started--it was a quarter of eleven.
Jimmie Dale's lips pursed a little.

"I guess it'll make a night of it, and a tight squeeze, at that, to get
back under cover before daylight," he muttered. "I'll have to do some
tall speeding."

But at first, across the city and through Brooklyn, for all his
impatience, it was necessarily slow--after that, Jimmie Dale took
chances, and, once on the country roads of Long Island, the big,
powerful car tore through the night like a greyhound whose leash is

A half hour passed--Jimmie Dale's eyes shifting occasionally from the
gray thread of road ahead of him under the glare of the dancing lamps,
to the road map spread out at his feet, upon which, from time to time,
he focused his pocket flashlight. And then, finally, he slowed the car
to a snail's pace--he should be very near his destination--that very
ultra-exclusive subdivision of Charleton Park Manor.

On either side of the road now was quite a thickly set stretch of wooded
land, rising slightly on the right--and this Jimmie Dale scrutinised
sharply. In fact, he stopped for an instant as he came opposite to a
wagon track--it seemed to be little more than that--that led in through
the trees.

"If it's not too far from the seat of war," commented Jimmie Dale to
himself, as he went on again, "it will do admirably."

And then, a hundred yards farther on, Jimmie Dale nodded his head in
satisfaction--he was passing the rather ornate stone pillars that marked
the entrance to Charleton Park Manor, and on which the initial promoters
of the subdivision, the real-estate people, had evidently deemed it good
advertising policy to expend a small fortune.

Another hundred yards farther on, Jimmie Dale turned his car around
and returned past the gates to the wagon track again. The road was
deserted--not a car nor a vehicle of any description was in sight.
Jimmie Dale made sure of that--and in another instant Jimmie Dale's own
car, every light extinguished, had vanished--he had backed it up the
wagon track, just far enough in for the trees to screen it thoroughly
from the main road.

Nor did Jimmie Dale himself appear again on the main road--until just as
he emerged close to the gates of Charleton Park Manor from a short cut
through the woods. Also, he was without his ulster now, and the slouch
hat had replaced the motor cap.

Jimmie Dale, in the moonlight, took stock of his surroundings, as he
passed in at a businesslike walk through the gates. It was a large park,
if that name could properly be applied to it at all, and the houses--he
caught sight of one set back from the driveway on the right--were quite
far apart, each in its own rather spacious grounds among the trees.

"The second house on the right," her letter had said. Jimmie Dale had
already passed the first one--the next would be Markel's then--and it
loomed ahead of him now, black and shadowy and unlighted.

Jimmie Dale shot a glance around him--there was stillness, quiet
everywhere--no sign of life--no sound.

Jimmie Dale's face became tense, his lips tight--and he stepped suddenly
from the sidewalk in among the trees. They were not thick here, of
course, the trees, and the turf beneath his feet was well kept--and,
therefore, soundless. He moved quickly now, but cautiously, from tree to
tree, for the moonlight, flooding the lawn and house, threw all objects
into bold relief.

A minute, two, three went by--and a shadow flitted here and there across
the light-green sward, like the moving of the trees swaying in the
breeze--and then Jimmie Dale was standing close up against one side of
the house, hidden by the protecting black shadows of the walls.

But here, for a moment, Jimmie Dale seemed little occupied with the
house itself--he was staring down past its length to where the woods
made a heavy, dark background at the rear. Then he turned his head,
to face directly to the main road, then back again slowly, as though
measuring an angle. Jimmie Dale had no intention of making his escape by
the roundabout way in which he had been forced to come in order to make
certain of locating the right house, the second one from the gates--and
he was getting the bearings of his car and the wagon track now.

"I guess that'll be about right," Jimmie Dale muttered finally. "And now

He slipped along the side of the house and halted where, almost on a
level with the ground, the French windows of the dining room opened on
the lawn. Jimmie Dale tried them gently. They were locked.

An indulgent smile crept to Jimmie Dale's lips--and his hand crept in
under his vest. It came out again--not empty--and Jimmie Dale leaned
close against the window. There was a faint, almost inaudible,
scratching sound, then a slight, brittle crack--and Jimmie Dale laid a
neat little four-inch square of glass on the ground at his feet. Through
the aperture he reached in his hand, turned the key that was in the
lock, turned the bolt-rod handle, pushed the doors silently open--wide
open--left them open--and stepped into the room.

He could see quite well within, thanks to the moonlight. Jimmie Dale
produced a black silk mask from one of the little leather pockets,
adjusted it carefully over his face, and crossed the room to the hall
door. He opened this--wide open--left it open--and entered the hall.

Here it was dark--a pitch blackness. He stood for a moment,
listening--utter silence. And then--alert, strained, tense in an
instant, Jimmie Dale crouched against the wall--and then he smiled a
little grimly. It was only some one coughing upstairs--Markel--in his
sleep, perhaps, or, perhaps--in wakefulness.

"I'm a fool!" confided Jimmie Dale to himself, as he recognised the
cough that he had heard at the club. "And yet--I don't know. One's
nerves get sort of taut. Pretty stiff business. If I'm ever caught, the
penitentiary sentence I get will be the smallest part of what's to pay."

A round button of light played along the wall from the flashlight in
his hand--just for an instant--and all was blackness again. But in that
instant Jimmie Dale was across the hall, and his fingers were tracing
the telephone connection from the instrument to where the wires
disappeared in the baseboard of the floor. Another instant, and he had
severed the wires with a pair of nippers.

Again the quick, firefly gleam of light to locate the stair case and the
library door opposite to it--and, moving without the slightest noise,
Jimmie Dale's hand was on the door itself. Again he paused to listen.
All was silence now.

The door swung under his hand, and, left open behind him, he was in
the room. The flashlight winked once--suspiciously. Then he snapped its
little switch, keeping the current on, and the ray dodged impudently
here and there all over the apartment.

The safe was set in a sort of clothes closet behind the desk, she had
said. Yes, there it was--the door, at least. Jimmie Dale moved toward
it--and paused as his light swept the top of the intervening desk. A
mass of papers, books, and correspondence littered it untidily. The
yellow sheet of a telegram caught Jimmie Dale's eye.

He picked it up and glanced at it. It read:

"Vein uncovered to-day. Undoubtedly mother lode. Enormously rich. Put
the screws on at once. THURL."

Under the mask, Jimmie Dale's lips twitched.

"I think, Markel, you miserable hound," said he softly, "that God will
forgive me for depriving you of a share of the profits. Two hundred and
ten thousand, I think it was, you said the sparklers cost." A curious
little sound came from Jimmie Dale's lips--like a chuckle.

Jimmie Dale tossed the telegram back on the desk, moved on behind the
desk, opened the door of the closet that had been metamorphosed into
a vault--and the white light travelled slowly, searchingly, critically
over the shining black-enamelled steel, the nickelled knobs, and dials
of a safe that confronted him.

Jimmie Dale nodded at it--familiarly, grimly.

"It's number one-four-three-two-one, all right," he murmured. "And one
of the best we ever made. Pretty tough. But I've done it before. Say,
half an hour of gentle persuasion. It would be too bad to crack it with
'soup'--besides, that's crude--Carruthers would never forgive the Gray
Seal for that!"

The light went out--blackness fell. Jimmie Dale's slim, sensitive
fingers closed on the dial's knob, his head touched the steel front of
the safe as he pressed his ear against it for the tumblers' fall.

And then silence. It seemed to grow heavier, that silence, with
each second--to palpitate through the quiet house--to grow pregnant,
premonitory of dread, of fear--it seemed to throb in long undulations,
and the stillness grew LOUD. A moonbeam filtered in between the edge
of the drawn shade and the edge of the window. It struggled across the
floor in a wavering path, strayed over the desk, and died away, shadowy
and formless, against the blackness of the opened recess door, against
the blackness of the great steel safe, the blackness of a huddled
form crouched against it. Only now and then, in a strange, projected,
wraithlike effect, the moon ray glinted timidly on the tip of a nickel
dial, and, ghostlike, disclosed a human hand.

Upstairs, Markel coughed again. Then from the safe a whisper,
heavy-breathed as from great exertion:


The dial whirled with faint, musical, little metallic clicks; then
began to move slowly again, very, very slowly. The moonbeam, as though
petulant at its own abortive attempt to satisfy its curiosity, retreated
back across the floor, and faded away.


Time passed. Then from the safe again, but now in a low gasp, a pant of


The ear might barely catch the sound--it was as of metal sliding in
well-oiled grooves, of metal meeting metal in a padded thud. The massive
door swung outward. Jimmie Dale stood up, easing his cramped muscles,
and flirted the sweat beads from his forehead.

After a moment, he knelt again. There was still the inner door--but that
was a minor matter to Jimmie Dale compared with what had gone before.

Stillness once more--a long period of it. And then again that cough from
above--a prolonged paroxysm of it this time that went racketing through
the house.

Jimmie Dale, in the act of swinging back the inner door of the safe,
paused to listen, and little furrows under his mask gathered on his
forehead. The coughing stopped. Jimmie Dale waited a moment, still
listening--then his flashlight bored into the interior of the safe.

"The cash box, probably," quoted Jimmie Dale, beneath his breath--and
picked it up from where it lay in the bottom compartment of the safe.

The lock snipped under the insistent probe of a delicate little
blued-steel instrument, and Jimmie Dale lifted the cover. There was
a package of papers and documents on top, held together with elastic
bands. Jimmie Dale spent a moment or two examining these, then
his fingers dived down underneath, and the next minute, under the
flashlight, the morocco leather case open, the diamond necklace was
sparkling and flashing on its white satin bed.

"A tempting little thing, isn't it?" said Jimmie Dale gently. "It was
really thoughtful of you, Markel, to buy that this afternoon!"

Jimmie Dale replaced the necklace in the cash box, set the cash box on
the floor, closed the inner door of the safe, and swung the outer door
a little inward--but left it flauntingly ajar. Then from a pocket of the
leather girdle beneath his vest he produced his small, thin, flat, metal
case. From this, from between sheets of oil paper, with the aid of a
pair of tweezers, he lifted out a gray, diamond-shaped seal. Jimmie
Dale was apparently fastidious. He held the seal with the tweezers as
he moistened the adhesive side with his tongue, laid the seal on his
handkerchief, and pressed the handkerchief firmly against the safe--as
usual, Jimmie Dale's insignia bore no finger prints as it lay neatly
capping the knob of the dial.

He reached down, picked up the cash box--and then, for the second time
that night, held suddenly tense, alert, listening, his every muscle
taut. A door opened upstairs. There came a murmur of voices. Then a
momentary lull.

Jimmie Dale listened. Like a statue he stood there in the black,
absolutely motionless--his head a little forward and to one side.
Nothing--not a sound. Then a very low, curious, swishing noise, and a

Jimmie Dale moved stealthily from the recess, and noiselessly to the
desk. Very faintly, but distinctly now, came a pad of either slippered
or bare feet on the stairway carpet. Like a cat, soundless in his
movements, Jimmie Dale crept toward the door of the room. Down the
stairs came that pad of feet; occasionally came that swishing sound.
Nearer the door crept Jimmie Dale, and his lips were thinned now, his
jaws clamped. How near were they together, he and this night prowler? At
times he could not hear the other at all, and, besides, the heavy carpet
made the judgment of distance an impossibility. If he could gain the
hall, and, in the darkness, elude the other, the way of escape through
the dining room was open. And then, within a few feet of the door,
Jimmie Dale halted abruptly, as a woman's voice rose querulously from
the hallway above:

"You are making a perfect fool of yourself, Theodore Markel! Come back
here to bed!"

Jimmie Dale's face hardened like stone--the answer came almost from the
very threshold in front of him:

"I can't sleep, I tell you"--it was Markel's voice, in a disgruntled
snarl. "I was a fool to bring the confounded thing home. I'm going to
take the library couch for the rest of the night."

It happened quick, then--quick as the winking of an eye. Two sharp,
almost simultaneous, clicks of the electric-light buttons pressed by
Markel, and the hall and library were a flood of light--and Jimmie Dale
leaped forward to where, in dressing gown and pajamas, blankets and
bedding over one arm, a revolver dangling in the other hand, Markel
stood full before the door in the hallway without.

There was a wild yell of terror and surprise from Markel, then a
deafening roar and a spit of flame from his revolver--a bitter,
smothered exclamation from Jimmie Dale as the cash box crashed to the
floor from his left hand, and he was upon the other like a tiger.

With the impact, both men went to the floor, grappled, and rolled over
and over. Half mad with fear, shock, and surprise, Markel fought like a
maniac, and his voice, in gasping shouts, rang through the house.

A minute, two passed--and the men rolled about the hall floor. Markel,
over middle age and unheathily fat, against Jimmie Dale's six feet of
muscle--only Jimmie Dale's left hand, dripping a red stream now, was
almost useless.

From above came wild confusion--women's voices in little shrieks; men's
voices shouting in excitement; doors opening, running feet. And then
Jimmie Dale had snatched the revolver from the floor where Markel
had dropped it in the scuffle, and was pressing it against Markel's
forehead--and Markel, terror-stricken, had collapsed in a flabby, pliant

Jimmie Dale, still covering Markel with the weapon, stood up. The
frightened faces of women protruded over the banisters above. The two
men-servants, at best none too enthusiastically on the way down, stopped
as though stunned as Jimmie Dale swung the revolver upon them.

Then Jimmie Dale spoke--to Markel--pointing the weapon at Markel again.

"I don't like you, Markel," he said, with cold impudence. "The only
decent thing you'll ever do will be to die--and if those men of yours
on the stairs move another step it will be your death warrant. Do you
understand? I would suggest that you request them to stay where they

Cold sweat was on Markel's face as he stared into the muzzle of the
revolver, and his teeth chattered.

"Go back!" he screamed hysterically at the servants. "Go back! Sit down!
Don't move! Do what he tells you!"

"Thank you!" said Jimmie Dale grimly. "Now, get up yourself!"

Markel got up.

Jimmie Dale backed to the library door, picked up the cash box, tucked
it under his left armpit, and faced those on the stairs.

"Mr. Markel and I are going out for a little walk," he announced coolly.
"If one of you make a move or raise an alarm before your master comes
back, I shall be obliged, in self-defence, to shoot--Mr. Markel. Mr.
Markel quite understands that--I am sure. Do you not, Mr. Markel?"

"Helen," screamed Markel to his wife, "don't let 'em move! For God's
sake, do as he says!"

Jimmie Dale's lips, just showing beneath the edge of his mask, broadened
in a pleasant little smile.

"Will you lead the way, Mr. Markel?" he requested, with ironic
deference. "Through the dining room, please. Yes, that's right!"

Markel walked weakly into the dining room, and Jimmie Dale followed. A
prod in the back from the revolver muzzle, and Markel stepped through
the French windows and out on the lawn. Jimmie Dale faced the other
toward the woods at the rear of the house.

"Go on!" Jimmie Dale's voice was curt now, uncompromising. "And step

They passed on along the side of the house and in among the trees. Fifty
yards or so more, and Jimmie Dale halted. He backed Markel up against a
large tree--not over gently.

"I--I say"--Markel's teeth were going like castanets. "I--"

"You'll oblige me by keeping your mouth shut," observed Jimmie Dale
politely--and he whipped the cord of Markel's dressing gown loose
and began to tie the man to the tree. "You have many unpleasant
characteristics, Markel--your voice is one of them. Shall I repeat that
I do not like you?" He stepped to the back of the tree. "Pardon me if I
draw this uncomfortably tight. I don't think you can reach around to the
knot. No? The trunk is too large? Quite so!" He stepped around to face
Markel again--the man was thoroughly frightened, his face was livid, his
jaw sagged weakly, and his eyes followed every movement of the revolver
in Jimmie Dale's hand in a sort of miserable fascination. Jimmie Dale
smiled unhappily. "I am going to do something, Markel, that I should
advise no other man to do--I am going to put you on your honour! For the
next fifteen minutes you are not to utter a sound. Do you understand?"

"Y-yes," said Markel hoarsely.

"No," said Jimmie Dale sadly, "I don' think you do. Let me be painfully
explicit. If you break your vow of silence by so much as a second, then
to-morrow, or the next day, or the day after, at my convenience, Markel,
you and I will meet again--for the LAST time. There can be no possible
misapprehension on your part now--Markel?"

"N-no,"--Markel could scarcely chatter out the word.

"Quite so," said Jimmie Dale, in velvet tones. He stood for an
instant looking at the other with cool insolence; then: "Good-night,
Markel"--and five minutes later a great touring car was tearing New
Yorkward over the Long Island roads at express speed.

It was one o'clock in the morning as Jimmie Dale swung the car into a
cross street off lower Broadway, and drew up at the curb beside a large
office building. He got out, snuggled the cash box under his ulster,
went around to the Broadway entrance, glanced up to note that a light
burned in a fifth-story window, and entered the building.

The hallway was practically in darkness, one or two incandescents only
threw a dim light about. Jimmie Dale stopped for a moment at the foot
of the stairs, beside the elevator well, to listen--if the watchman was
making rounds, it was in another part of the building Jimmie Dale began
to climb.

He reached the fifth floor, turned down the corridor, and halted in
front of a door, through the ground-glass panel of which a light glowed
faintly--as though coming from an inner office beyond. Jimmie Dale drew
the black silk mask from his pocket, adjusted it, tried the door, found
it unlocked, opened it noiselessly, and stepped inside. Across the
room, through another door, half open, the light streamed into the outer
office, where Jimmie Dale stood.

Jimmie Dale stole across the room, crouched by the door to look into the
inner office--and his face went suddenly rigid.

"Good God!" he whispered. "As bad as that!"--but it was a nonchalant
Jimmie Dale to all outward appearances that, on the instant, stepped
unconcernedly over the threshold.

An elderly man, white-haired, kindly-faced, kindly-eyed, save now that
the face was drawn and haggard, the eyes full of weariness, was standing
behind a flat-topped desk, his fingers twitching nervously on a revolver
in his hand. He whirled, with a startled cry, at Jimmie Dale's entrance,
and the revolver clattered from his fingers to the floor.

"I am afraid," said Jimmie Dale, smiling pleasantly, "that you were
going to shoot yourself. Your name is Wilbur, Henry Wilbur, isn't it?"

Unmanned, trembling, the other stood--and nodded mechanically.

"It's really not a nice thing to do," said Jimmie Dale confidentially.
"Makes a mess, you see, too"--he was pulling off his motor gauntlet,
his ulster, his jacket, and, having set the cash box on the desk, was
rolling back his sleeve as he spoke. "Had a little experience myself
this evening." He held out his hand that, with the forearm, was covered
with blood. "A little above the wrist--fortunately only a flesh wound--a
little memento from a chap named Markel, and--"

"MARKEL!" The word burst, quivering, from the other's lips.

"Yes," said Jimmie Dale imperturbably. "Do you mind if I wash a bit--and
could you oblige me with a towel, or something that would do for a

The man seemed dazed. In a subconscious way, he walked from the desk to
a little cupboard, and took out two towels.

Jimmie Dale stooped, while the other's back was turned, picked up the
revolver from the floor, and slipped it into his trousers pocket.

"Markel?" said Wilbur again, the same trembling anxiety in his voice, as
he handed Jimmie Dale the towels and motioned toward a washstand in the
corner of the room. "Did you say Markel--Theodore Markel?"

"Yes," said Jimmie Dale, examining his wound critically.

"You had trouble--a fight with him? Is he--he--dead?"

"No," said Jimmie Dale, smiling a little grimly. "He's pretty badly
hurt, though, I imagine--but not in a physical way."

"Strange!" whispered Wilbur, in a numbed tone to himself; and he went
back and sank down in his desk chair. "Strange that you should speak of
Markel--strange that you should have come here to-night!"

Jimmie Dale did not answer. He glanced now and then at the other, as he
deftly dressed his wrist--the man seemed on the verge of collapse, on
the verge of a nervous breakdown. Jimmie Dale swore softly to himself.
Wilbur was too old a man to be called upon to stand against the trouble
and anxiety that was mirrored in the misery in his face, that had
brought him to the point of taking his own life.

Jimmie Dale put on his coat again, walked over to the desk, and picked
up the 'phone.

"If I may?" he inquired courteously--and confided a number to the
mouthpiece of the instrument.

There was a moment's wait, during which Wilbur, in a desperate sort of
way, seemed to be trying to rally himself, to piece together a puzzle,
as it were; and for the first time he appeared to take a personal
interest in the masked figure that leaned against his desk. He kept
passing his hands across his eyes, staring at Jimmie Dale.

Then Jimmie Dale spoke--into the 'phone.

"MORNING NEWS-ARGUS office? Mr. Carruthers, please. Thank you."

Another wait--then Jimmie Dale's voice changed its pitch and register to
a pleasant and natural, though quite unrecognisable bass.

"Mr. Carruthers? Yes. I thought it might interest you to know that
Mr. Theodore Markel purchased a very valuable diamond necklace this
afternoon. . . . Oh, you knew that, did you? Well, so much the better;
you'll be all the more keenly interested to know that it is no longer in
his possession. . . . I beg pardon? Oh, yes, I quite forgot--this is the
Gray Seal speaking. . . . Yes. . . . The Gray Seal. . . . I have just
come from Mr. Markel's country house, and if you hurry a man out there
you ought to be able to give the public an exclusive bit of news,
a scoop, I believe you call it--you see, Mr. Carruthers, I am not
ungrateful for, I might say, the eulogistic manner in which the MORNING
NEWS-ARGUS treated me in that last affair, and I trust I shall be able
to do you many more favours--I am deeply in your debt. And, oh, yes,
tell your reporter not to overlook the detail of Mr. Markel in his
pajamas and dressing gown tied to a tree in his park--Mr. Markel might
be inclined to be reticent on that point, and it would be a pity to
deprive the public of any--er--'atmosphere' in the story, you know. . . .
What? . . . No; I am afraid Mr. Markel's 'phone is--er--out of order.
. . . Yes. . . . And, by the way, speaking of 'phones, Mr. Carruthers,
between gentlemen, I know you will make no effort under the
circumstances to discover the number I am calling from. Good-night, Mr.
Carruthers." Jimmie Dale hung the receiver abruptly on the hook.

"You see," said Jimmie Dale, turning to Wilbur--and then he stopped. The
man was on his feet, swaying there, his face positively gray.

"My God!" Wilbur burst out. "What have you done? A thousand times better
if I had shot myself, as I would have done in another moment if you had
not come in. I was only ruined then--I am disgraced now. You have robbed
Markel's safe--I am the one man in the world who would have a reason
above all others for doing that--and Markel knows it. He will accuse
me of it. He can prove I had a motive. I have not been home to-night.
Nobody knows I am here. I cannot prove an alibi. What have you done!"

"Really," said Jimmie Dale, almost plaintively, swinging himself up on
the corner of the desk and taking the cash box on his knee, "really, you
are alarming yourself unnecessarily. I--"

But Wilbur stopped him. "You don't know what you are talking about!"
Wilbur cried out, in a choked way; then, his voice steadying, he rushed
on: "Listen! I am a ruined man, absolutely ruined. And Markel has ruined
me--I did not see through his trick until too late. Listen! For years,
as a mining engineer, I made a good salary--and I saved it. Two years
ago I had nearly seventy thousand dollars--it represented my life work.
I bought an abandoned mine in Alaska for next to nothing--I was certain
it was rich. A man by the name of Thurl, Jason T. Thurl, another mining
engineer, a steamer acquaintance, was out there at the time--he was a
partner of Markel's, though I didn't know it then. I started to work the
mine. It didn't pan out. I dropped nearly every cent. Then I struck
a small vein that temporarily recouped me, and supplied the necessary
funds with which to go ahead for a while. Thurl, who had tried to buy
the mine out from under my option in the first place, repeatedly then
tried to buy it from me at a ridiculous figure. I refused. He persisted.
I refused--I was confident, I KNEW I had one of the richest properties
in Alaska."

Wilbur paused. A little row of glistening drops had gathered on his
forehead. Jimmie Dale, balancing Markel's cash box on one knee, drummed
softly with his finger tips on the cover.

"The vein petered out," Wilbur went on. "But I was still confident.
I sank all the proceeds of the first strike--and sank them fast, for
unaccountable accidents that crippled me both financially and in the
progress of the work began to happen." Wilbur flung out his hands
impotently. "Oh, it's a long story--too long to tell. Thurl was at the
bottom of those accidents. He knew as well as I did that the mine was
rich--better than I did, for that matter, for we discovered before we
ran him out of Alaska that he had made secret borings on the property.
But what I did not know until a few hours ago was that he had actually
uncovered what we uncovered only yesterday--the mother lode. He was
driving me as fast as he could into the last ditch--for Markel. I
didn't know until yesterday that Markel had any thing to do with it. I
struggled on out there, hoping every day to open a new vein. I raised
money on everything I had, except my insurance and the mine--and sank
it in the mine. No one out there would advance me anything on a property
that looked like a failure, that had once already been abandoned. I
have always kept an office here, and I came back East with the idea of
raising something on my insurance. Markel, quite by haphazard as I then
thought, was introduced to me just before we left San Francisco on
our way to New York. On the run across the continent we became very
friendly. Naturally, I told him my story. He played sympathetic good
fellow, and offered to lend me fifty thousand dollars on a demand note.
I did not want to be involved for a cent more than was necessary, and,
as I said, I hoped from day to day to make another strike. I refused
to take more than ten thousand. I remember now that he seemed strangely

Again Wilbur stopped. He swept the moisture from his forehead--and his
fist, clenched, came down upon the desk.

"You see the game!"--there was bitter anger in his voice now. "You see
the game! He wanted to get me in deep enough so that I couldn't wriggle
out, deeper than ten thousand that I could get at any time on my
insurance, he wanted me where I couldn't get away--and he got me. The
first ten thousand wasn't enough. I went to him for a second, a third, a
fourth, a fifth--hoping always that each would be the last. Each time a
new note, a demand note for the total amount, was made, cancelling the
former one. I didn't know his game, didn't suspect it--I blessed God for
giving me such a friend--until this, or, rather, yesterday afternoon,
when I received a telegram from my manager at the mine saying that
he had struck what looked like a very rich vein--the mother lode.
And"--Wilbur's fist curled until the knuckles were like ivory in their
whiteness--"he added in the telegram that Thurl had wired the news of
the strike to a man in New York by the name of Markel. Do you see? I
hadn't had the telegram five minutes, when a messenger brought me a
letter from Markel curtly informing me that I would have to meet my note
to-morrow morning. I can't meet it. He knew I couldn't. With wealth in
sight--I'm wiped out. A DEMAND note, a call loan, do you understand--and
with a few months in which to develop the new vein I could pay it
readily. As it is--I default the note--Markel attaches all I have left,
which is the mine. The mine is sold to satisfy my indebtedness. Markel
buys it in legally, upheld by the law--and acquires, ROBS me of it,

"And so," said Jimmie Dale musingly, "you were going to shoot yourself?"

Wilbur straightened up, and there was something akin to pathetic
grandeur in the set of the old shoulders as they squared back.

"Yes!" he said, in a low voice. "And shall I tell you why? Even if,
which is not likely, there was something reverting to me over the
purchase price, it would be a paltry thing compared with the mine. I
have a wife and children. If I have worked for them all my life, could I
stand back now at the last and see them robbed of their inheritance by a
black-hearted scoundrel when I could still lift a hand to prevent it!
I had one way left. What is my life? I am too old a man to cling to it
where they are concerned. I have referred to my insurance several times.
I have always carried heavy insurance"--he smiled a little curious,
mirthless smile--"THAT HAS NO SUICIDE CLAUSE." He swept his hand over
the desk, indicating the papers scattered there. "I have worked late
to-night getting my affairs in order. My total insurance is fifty-two
thousand dollars, though I couldn't BORROW anywhere near the full amount
on it--but at my death, paid in full, it would satisfy the note. My
executors, by instruction would pay the note--and no dollar from the
mine, no single grain of gold, not an ounce of quartz, would Markel ever
get his hands on, and my wife and children would be saved. That is--"

His words ended abruptly--with a little gasp. Jimmie Dale had opened
the cash box and was dangling the necklace under the light--a stream of
fiery, flashing, sparkling gems.

Then Wilbur spoke again, a hard, bitter note in his voice, pointing his
hand at the necklace.

"But now, on top of everything, you have brought me disgrace--because
you broke into his safe to-night for THAT? He would and will accuse me.
I have heard of you--the Gray Seal--you have done a pitiful night's work
in your greed for that thing there."

"For this?" Jimmie Dale smiled ironically, holding the necklace up.
Then he shook his head. "I didn't break into Markel's safe for this--it
wouldn't have been worth while. It's only paste."

"PASTE!" exclaimed Wilbur, in a slow way.

"Paste," said Jimmie Dale placidly, dropping the necklace back into its
case. "Quite in keeping with Markel, isn't it--to make a sensation on
the cheap?"

"But that doesn't change matters!" Wilbur cried out sharply, after a
numbed instant's pause. "You still broke into the safe, even if you
didn't know then that the necklace was paste."

"Ah, but, you see--I did know then," said Jimmie Dale softly. "I am
really--you must take my word for it--a very good judge of stones, and I
had--er--seen these before."

Wilbur stared--bewildered, confused.

"Then why--what was it that--"

"A paper," said Jimmie Dale, with a little chuckle--and produced it from
the cash box. "It reads like this: 'On demand, I promise to pay--'"

"My note!" It came in a great, surging cry from Wilbur; and he strained
forward to read it.

"Of course," said Jimmie Dale. "Of course--your note. Did you think that
I had just happened to drop in on you? Now, then, see here, you just
buck up, and--er--smile. There isn't even a possibility of you being
accused of the theft. In the first place, Markel saw quite enough of me
to know that it wasn't you. Secondly, neither Markel nor any one else
would ever dream that the break was made for anything else but the
necklace, with which you have no connection--the papers were in the cash
box and were just taken along with it. Don't you see? And, besides, the
police, with my very good friend, Carruthers at their elbows, will see
very thoroughly to it that the Gray Seal gets full and ample credit for
the crime. But"--Jimmie Dale pulled out his watch, and yawned under his
mask--"it's getting to be an unconscionable hour--and you've still a
letter to write."

"A letter?" Wilbur's voice was broken, his lips quivering.

"To Markel," said Jimmie Dale pleasantly. "Write him in reply to his
letter of the afternoon, and post it before you leave here--just as
though you had written it at once, promptly, on receipt of his. He will
still get it on the morning delivery. State that you will take up the
note immediately on presentation at whatever bank he chooses to name.
That's all. Seeing that he hasn't got it, he can't very well present
it--can he? Eventually, having--er--no use for fake diamonds, I
shall return the necklace, together with the papers in his cash box
here--including your note."

"Eventually?" Uncomprehendingly, stumblingly, Wilbur repeated the word.

"In a month or two or three, as the case may be," explained Jimmie
Dale brightly. "Whenever you insert a personal in the NEWS-ARGUS to
the effect that the mother lode has given you the cash to meet it." He
replaced the note in the cash box, slipped down to his feet from the
desk--and then he choked a little. Wilbur, the tears streaming down
his face, unable to speak, was holding out his hands to Jimmie Dale.
"I--er--good-night!" said Jimmie Dale hurriedly--and stepped quickly
from the room.

Halfway down the first flight of stairs he paused. Steps, running after
him, sounded along the corridor above; and then Wilbur's voice.

"Don't go--not yet," cried the old man. "I don't understand. How did you
know--who told you about the note?"

Jimmie Dale did not answer--he went on noiselessly down the stairs. His
mask was off now, and his lips curved into a strange little smile.

"I wish I knew," said Jimmie Dale wistfully to himself.



It was still early in the evening, but a little after nine o'clock.
The Fifth Avenue bus wended its way, jouncing its patrons, particularly
those on the top seats, across town, and turned into Riverside Drive. A
short distance behind the bus, a limousine rolled down the cross street
leisurely, silently.

As the lights of passing craft on the Hudson and a myriad scintillating,
luminous points dotting the west shore came into view, Jimmie Dale rose
impulsively from his seat on the top of the bus, descended the little
circular iron ladder at the rear, and dropped off into the street. It
was only a few blocks farther to his residence on the Drive, and
the night was well worth the walk; besides, restless, disturbed, and
perplexed in mind, the walk appealed to him.

He stepped across to the sidewalk and proceeded slowly along. A month
had gone by and he had not heard a word from--HER. The break on West
Broadway, the murder of Metzer in Moriarty's gambling hell, the theft
of Markel's diamond necklace had followed each other in quick
succession--and then this month of utter silence, with no sign of her,
as though indeed she had never existed.

But it was not this temporary silence on her part that troubled Jimmie
Dale now. In the years that he had worked with this unknown, mysterious
accomplice of his whom he had never seen, there had been longer
intervals than a bare month in which he had heard nothing from her--it
was not that. It was the failure, total, absolute, and complete,
that was the only result for the month of ceaseless, unremitting,
doggedly-expended effort, even as it had been the result many times
before, in an attempt to solve the enigma that was so intimate and vital
a factor in his own life.

If he might lay any claims to cleverness, his resourcefulness, at
least, he was forced to admit, was no match for hers. She came, she went
without being seen--and behind her remained, instead of clews to her
identity, only an amazing, intangible mystery, that left him at times
appalled and dismayed. How did she know about those conditions in West
Broadway, how did she know about Metzer's murder, how did she know about
Markel and Wilbur--how did she know about a hundred other affairs of the
same sort that had happened since that night, years ago now, when out of
pure adventure he had tampered with Marx's, the jeweller's strong
room in Maiden Lane, and she had, mysteriously then, too, solved HIS
identity, discovered him to be the Gray Seal?

Jimmie Dale, wrapped up in his own thoughts, entirely oblivious to his
surroundings, traversed another block. There had never been since the
world began, and there would never be again, so singular and bizarre a
partnership as this--of hers and his. He, Jimmie Dale, with his strange
double life, one of New York's young bachelor millionaires, one whose
social status was unquestioned; and she, who--who WHAT? That was just
it! Who what? What was she? What was her name? What one personal,
intimate thing did he know about her? And what was to be the end?
Not that he would have severed his association with her--not for
worlds!--though every time, that, by some new and curious method, one of
her letters found its way into his hands, outlining some fresh coup
for him to execute, his peril and danger of discovery was increased in
staggering ratio. To-day, the police hunted the Gray Seal as they hunted
a mad dog; the papers stormed and raved against him: in every detective
bureau of two continents he was catalogued as the most notorious
criminal of the age--and yet, strange paradox, no single crime had ever
been committed!

Jimmie Dale's strong, fine-featured face lighted up. Crime! Thanks to
her, there were those who blessed the name of the Gray Seal, those
into whose lives had come joy, relief from misery, escape from death
even--and their blessings were worth a thousandfold the risk and peril
of disaster that threatened him at every minute of the day.

"Thank God for her!" murmured Jimmie Dale softly. "But--but if I could
only find her, see her, know who she is, talk to her, and hear her
voice!" Then he smiled a little wanly. "It's been a pretty tough
month--and nothing to show for it!"

It had! It had been one of the hardest months through which Jimmie Dale
had ever lived. The St. James, that most exclusive club, his favourite
haunt, had seen nothing of him; the easel in his den, that was his
hobby, had been untouched; there had been days even when he had not
crossed the threshold of his home. Every resource at his command he
had called into play in an effort to solve the mystery. For nearly the
entire month, following first this lead and then that, he had lived in
the one disguise that he felt confident she knew nothing of--that was,
or, rather, had become, almost a dual personality with him. From the
Sanctuary, that miserable and disreputable room in a tenement on the
East Side, a tenement that had three separate means of entrance and
exit, he had emerged day after day as Larry the Bat, a character as well
known and as well liked in the exclusive circles of the underworld as
was Jimmie Dale in the most exclusive strata of New York's society
and fashion. And it had been useless--all useless. Through his own
endeavours, through the help of his friends of the underworld, the
lives of half a dozen men, Bert Hagan's on West Broadway, for instance,
Markel's, and others', had been laid bare to the last shred, but nowhere
could be found the one vital point that linked their lives with hers,
that would account for her intimate knowledge of them, and so furnish
him with the clew that would then with certainty lead him to a solution
of her identity.

It was baffling, puzzling, unbelievable, bordering, indeed, on the
miraculous--herself, everything about her, her acts, her methods, her
cleverness, intangible in one sense, were terrifically real in another.
Jimmie Dale shook his head. The miraculous and this practical, everyday
life were wide and far apart. There was nothing miraculous about it--it
was only that the key to it was, so far, beyond his reach.

And then suddenly Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders in consonance with
a whimsical change in both mood and thought.

"Larry the Bat, is a hard taskmaster!" he muttered facetiously. "I'm
afraid I'm not very presentable this evening--no bath this morning,
and no shave, and, after nearly a month of make-up, that beastly grease
paint gets into the skin creases in a most intimate way." He chuckled
as the thought of old Jason, his butler, came to him. "I saw Jason,
torn between two conflicting emotions, shaking his head over the black
circles under my eyes last night--he didn't know whether to worry over
the first signs of a galloping decline, or break his heart at witnessing
the young master he had dandled on his knees going to the damnation
bowwows and turning into a confirmed roue! I guess I'll have to mind
myself, though. Even Carruthers detached his mind far enough from his
editorial desk and the hope of exclusively publishing the news of the
Gray Seal's capture in the MORNING NEWS-ARGUS, to tell me I was looking
seedy. It's wonderful the way a little paint will metamorphose a man!
Well, anyway, here's for a good hot tub to-night, and a fresh start!"

He quickened his pace. There were still three blocks to go, and here was
no hurrying, jostling crowd to impede his progress; indeed, as far as he
could see up the Drive, there was not a pedestrian in sight. And then,
as he walked, involuntarily, insistently, his mind harked back into the
old groove again.

"I've tried to picture her," said Jimmie Dale softly to himself. "I've
tried to picture her a hundred, yes, a thousand times, and--"

A bus, rumbling cityward, went by him, squeaking, creaking, and rattling
in its uneasy joints--and out of the noise, almost at his elbow it
seemed, a voice spoke his name--and in that instant intuitively he KNEW,
and it thrilled him, stopped the beat of his heart, as, dulcet, soft,
clear as the note of a silver bell it fell--and only one word:


He whirled around. A limousine, wheels just grazing the curb, was
gliding slowly and silently past him, and from the window a woman's
arm, white-gloved and dainty, was extended, and from the fingers to the
pavement fluttered an envelope--and the car leaped forward.

For the fraction of a second, Jimmie Dale stood dazed, immovable, a
gamut of emotions, surprise, fierce exultation, amazement, a strange
joy, a mighty uplift, swirling upon him--and then, snatching up the
envelope from the ground, he sprang out into the road after the car. It
was the one chance he had ever had, the one chance she had ever given
him, and he had seen--a white-gloved arm! He could not reach the car,
it was speeding away from him like an arrow now, but there was something
else that would do just as well, something that with all her cleverness
she had overlooked--the car's number dangling on the rear axle, the
rays of the little lamp playing on the enamelled surface of the plate!
Gasping, panting, he held his own for a yard or more, and there floated
back to him a little silvery laugh from the body of the limousine, and
then Jimmie Dale laughed, too, and stopped--it was No. 15,836!

He stood and watched the car disappear up the Drive. What delicious
irony! A month of gruelling, ceaseless toil that had been vain, futile,
useless--and the key, when he was not looking for it, unexpectedly,
through no effort of his, was thrust into his hand--No. 15,836!

Jimmie Dale, the gently ironic smile still on his lips, those slim,
supersensitive fingers of his subconsciously noting that the texture of
the envelope was the same as she always used, retraced his steps to the

"Number fifteen thousand eight hundred and thirty-six," said Jimmie Dale
aloud--and halted at the curb as though rooted to the spot. It sounded
strangely familiar, that number! He repeated it over again slowly:
"One-five-eight-three-six." And the smile left his lips, and upon his
face came the look of a chastened child. She had used a duplicate plate!
Fifteen thousand eight hundred and thirty-six was the number of one of
his own cars--his own particular runabout!

For a moment longer he stood there, undecided whether to laugh or swear,
and then his eyes fastened mechanically on the envelope he was twirling
in his fingers. Here, at least, was something that was not elusive;
that, on the contrary, as a hundred others in the past had done,
outlined probably a grim night's work ahead for the Gray Seal! And, if
it were as those others had been, every minute from the moment of its
receipt was precious time. He stepped under the nearest street light,
and tore the envelope open.

"Dear Philanthropic Crook," it began--and then followed two closely
written pages. Jimmie Dale read them, his lips growing gradually
tighter, a smouldering light creeping into his dark eyes, and once he
emitted a short, low whistle of consternation--that was at the end, as
he read the post-script that was heavily underscored: "Work quickly.
They will raid to-night. Be careful. Look out for Kline, he is the
sharpest man in the United States secret service."

For a brief instant longer, Jimmie Dale stood under the street lamp,
his mind in a lightning-quick way cataloguing every point in her letter,
viewing every point from a myriad angles, constructing, devising,
mapping out a plan to dove-tail into them--and then Jimmie Dale swung on
a downtown bus. There was neither time nor occasion to go home now--that
marvellous little kit of burglar's tools that peeped from their tiny
pockets in that curious leather undervest, and that reposed now in
the safe in his den, would be useless to him to-night; besides, in the
breast pocket of his coat, neatly folded, was a black silk mask, and,
relics of his role of Larry the Bat, an automatic revolver, an
electric flashlight, a steel jimmy, and a bunch of skeleton keys, were
distributed among the other pockets of his smart tweed suit.

Jimmie Dale changed from the bus to the subway, leaving behind him,
strewn over many blocks, the tiny and minute fragments into which he had
torn her letter; at Astor Place he left the subway, walked to Broadway,
turned uptown for a block to Eighth Street, then along Eighth Street
almost to Sixth Avenue--and stopped.

A rather shabby shop, a pitiful sort of a place, displaying in its
window a heterogeneous conglomeration of cheap odds and ends, ink
bottles, candy, pencils, cigarettes, pens, toys, writing pads, marbles,
and a multitude of other small wares, confronted him. Within, a little,
old, sweet-faced, gray-haired woman stood behind the counter, pottering
over the rearrangement of some articles on the shelves.

"My word!" said Jimmie Dale softly to himself. "You wouldn't believe it,
would you! And I've always wondered how these little stores managed to
make both ends meet. Think of that old soul making fifteen or twenty
thousand dollars from a layout like this--even if it has taken her a

Jimmie Dale had halted nonchalantly and unconcernedly by the curb,
not too near the window, busied apparently in an effort to light a
refractory cigarette; and then, about to enter the store, he gazed
aimlessly across the street for a moment instead. A man came briskly
around the corner from Sixth Avenue, opened the store door, and went in.

Jimmie Dale drew back a little, and turned his head again as the door
closed--and a sudden, quick, alert, and startled look spread over his

The man who had entered bent over the counter and spoke to the old lady.
She seemed to listen with a dawning terror creeping over her features,
and then her hands went piteously to the thin hair behind her ears. The
man motioned toward a door at the rear of the store. She hesitated,
then came out from behind the counter, and swayed a little as though her
limbs would not support her weight.

Jimmie Dale's lips thinned.

"I'm afraid," he muttered slowly, "I'm afraid that I'm too late even
now." And then, as she came to the door and turned the key on the
inside: "Pray Heaven she doesn't turn the light out--or somebody might
think I was trying to break in!"

But in that respect Jimmie Dale's fears were groundless. She did not
turn out either of the gas jets that lighted the little shop; instead,
in a faltering, reluctant sort of manner, she led the way directly
through the door in the rear, and the man followed her.

The shop was empty--and Jimmie Dale was standing against the door on the
outside. His position was perfectly natural--a hundred passers-by would
have noted nothing but a most commonplace occurrence--a man in the act
of entering a store. And, if he appeared to fumble and have trouble with
the latch, what of it! Jimmie Dale, however, was not fumbling--hidden by
his back that was turned to the street, those wonderful fingers of his,
in whose tips seemed embodied and concentrated every one of the human
senses, were working quickly, surely, accurately, without so much as the
wasted movement of a single muscle.

A faint tinkle--and the key within fell from the lock to the floor. A
faint click--and the bolt of the lock slipped back. Jimmie Dale restored
the skeleton keys and a little steel instrument that accompanied them
to his pocket--and quietly opened the door. He stepped inside, picked up
the key from the floor, inserted it in the lock, closed the door behind
him, and locked it again.

"To guard against interruption," observed Jimmie Dale, a little

He was, perhaps, thirty seconds behind the others. He crossed the shop
noiselessly, cautiously, and passed through the door at the rear. It
opened into a short passage that, after a few feet, gave on a sort of
corridor at right angles--and down this latter, facing him, at the end,
the door of a lighted room was open, and he could see the figure of the
man who had entered the shop, back turned, standing on the threshold.
Voices, indistinct, came to him.

The corridor itself was dark; and Jimmie Dale, satisfied that he was
fairly safe from observation, stole softly forward. He passed two
doors on his left--and the curious arrangement of the building that had
puzzled him for a moment became clear. The store made the front of an
old tenement building, with apartments above, and the rear of the store
was a sort of apartment, too--the old lady's living quarters.

Step by step, testing each one against a possible creaking of the floor,
Jimmie Dale moved forward, keeping close up against one wall. The man
passed on into the room--and now Jimmie Dale could distinguish every
word that was being spoken; and, crouched up, in the dark corridor, in
the angle of the wall and the door jamb itself, could see plainly enough
into the room beyond. Jimmie Dale's jaw crept out a little.

A young man, gaunt, pale, wrapped in blankets, half sat, half reclined
in an invalid's chair; the old lady, on her knees, the tears streaming
down her face, had her arms around the sick man's neck; while the other
man, apparently upset at the scene, tugged vigorously at long, gray

"Sammy! Sammy!" sobbed the woman piteously. "Say you didn't do it,
Sammy--say you didn't do it!"

"Look here, Mrs. Matthews," said the man with the gray mustaches gently,
"now don't you go to making things any harder. I've got to do my duty
just the same, and take your son."

The young man, a hectic flush beginning to burn on his cheeks, gazed
wildly from one to the other.

"What--what is it?" he cried out.

The man threw back his coat and displayed a badge on his vest.

"I'm Kline of the secret service," he said gravely. "I'm sorry, Sammy,
but I want you for that little job in Washington at the bureau--before
you left on sick leave!"

Sammy Matthews struggled away from his mother's arms, pulled himself
forward in his chair--and his tongue licked dry lips.

"What--what job?" he whispered thickly.

"You know, don't you?" the other answered steadily. He took a large,
flat pocketbook from his pocket, opened it, and took out a five-dollar
bill. He held this before the sick man's eyes, but just out of reach,
one finger silently indicating the lower left-hand corner.

Matthews stared at it for a moment, and the hectic flush faded to a
grayish pallor, and a queer, impotent sound gurgled in his throat.

"I see you recognise it," said the other quietly. "It's open and shut,
Sammy. That little imperfection in the plate's got you, my boy."

"Sammy! Sammy!" sobbed the woman again. "Sammy, say you didn't do it!"

"It's a lie!" said Matthews hoarsely. "It's a lie! That plate was
condemned in the bureau for that imperfection--condemned and destroyed."

"Condemned TO BE destroyed," corrected the other, without raising his
voice. "There's a little difference there, Sammy--about twenty years'
difference--in the Federal pen. But it wasn't destroyed; this note was
printed from it by one of the slickest gangs of counterfeiters in the
United States--but I don't need to tell you that, I guess you know who
they are. I've been after them a long time, and I've got them now, just
as tight as I've got you. Instead of destroying that plate, you stole
it, and disposed of it to the gang. How much did they give you?"

Matthews' face seemed to hold a dumb horror, and his fingers picked at
the arms of the chair. His mother had moved from beside him now, and
both her hands were patting at the man's sleeve in a pitiful way, while
again and again she tried to speak, but no words would come.

"It's a lie!" said Matthews again, in a colourless, mechanical way.

The man glanced at Mrs. Matthews as he put the five-dollar note back
into his pocket, seemed to choke a little, shook his head, and all trace
of the official sternness that had crept into his voice disappeared.

"It's no good," he said in a low tone. "Don't do that, Mrs. Matthews,
I've got to do my duty." He leaned a little toward the chair. "It's dead
to rights, Sammy. You might as well make a clean breast of it. It was
up to you and Al Gregor to see that the plate was destroyed. It WASN'T
destroyed; instead, it shows up in the hands of a gang of counterfeiters
that I've been watching for months. Furthermore, I've got the plate
itself. And finally, though I haven't placed him under arrest yet for
fear you might hear of it before I wanted you to and make a get-away,
I've got Al Gregor where I can put my hands on him, and I've got his
confession that you and he worked the game between you to get that plate
out of the bureau and dispose of it to the gang."

"Oh, my God!"--it came in a wild cry from the sick man, and in a
desperate, lurching way he struggled up to his feet. "Al Gregor said
that? Then--then I'm done!" He clutched at his temples. "But it's not
true--it's not true! If the plate was stolen, and it must have been
stolen, or that note wouldn't have been found, it was Al Gregor who
stole it--I didn't, I tell you! I knew nothing of it, except that he and
I were responsible for it and--and I left it to him--that's the only way
I'm to blame. He's caught, and he's trying to get out of it with a light
sentence by pretending to turn State's evidence, but--but I'll fight
him--he can't prove it--it's only his word against mine, and--"

The other shook his head again.

"It's no good, Sammy," he said, a touch of sternness back in his tones
again. "I told you it was open and shut. It's not only Al Gregor. One
of the gang got weak knees when I got him where I wanted him the other
night, and he swears that you are the one who DELIVERED the plate to
them. Between him and Gregor and what I know myself, I've got evidence
enough for any jury against every one of the rest of you."

Horror, fear, helplessness seemed to mingle in the sick man's staring
eyes, and he swayed unsteadily upon his feet.

"I'm innocent!" he screamed out. "But I'm caught, I'm caught in a net,
and I can't get out--they lied to you--but no one will believe it any
more than you do and--and it means twenty years for me--oh, God!--twenty
years, and--" His hands went wriggling to his temples again, and he
toppled back in a faint into the chair.

"You've killed him! You've killed my boy!" the old lady shrieked out
piteously, and flung herself toward the senseless figure.

The man jumped for the table across the room, on which was a row of
bottles, snatched one up, drew the cork, smelled it, and ran back with
the bottle. He poured a little of the contents into his cupped hand,
held it under young Matthews' nostrils, and pushed the bottle into Mrs.
Matthews' hands.

"Bathe his forehead with this, Mrs. Matthews," he directed reassuringly.
"He'll be all right again in a moment. There, see--he's coming around

There was a long, fluttering sigh, and Matthews opened his eyes; then
a moment's silence; and then he spoke, with an effort, with long pauses
between the words:


The words seemed to ring absolute terror in the old lady's ears. She
turned, and dropped to her knees on the floor.

"Mr. Kline, Mr. Kline," she sobbed out, "oh, for God's love, don't take
him! Let him off, let him go! He's my boy--all I've got! You've got
a mother, haven't you? You know--" The tears were streaming down the
sweet, old face again. "Oh, won't you, for God's dear name, won't you
let him go? Won't--"

"Stop!" the man cried huskily. He was mopping at his face with his
handkerchief. "I thought I was case-hardened, I ought to be--but I guess
I'm not. But I've got to do my duty. You're only making it worse for
Sammy there, as well as me."

Her arms were around his knees now, clinging there.

"Why can't you let him off!" she pleaded hysterically. "Why can't
you! Why can't you! Nobody would know, and I'd do anything--I'd pay
anything--anything--I'll give you ten--fifteen thousand dollars!"

"My poor woman," he said kindly, placing his hand on her head, "you are
talking wildly. Apart altogether from the question of duty, even if
I succeeded in hushing the matter up, I would probably at least be
suspected and certainly discharged, and I have a family to support--and
if I were caught I'd get ten years in the Federal prison for it. I'm
sorry for this; I believe it's your boy's first offence, and if I could
let him off I would."

"But you can--you can!" she burst out, rocking on her knees, clinging
tighter still to him, as though in a paroxysm of fear that he might
somehow elude her. "It will kill him--it will kill my boy. And you can
save him! And even if they discharged you, what would that mean against
my boy's life! You wouldn't suffer, your family wouldn't suffer,
I'll--I'll take care of that--perhaps I could raise a little more than
fifteen thousand--but, oh, have pity, have mercy--don't take him away!"

The man stared at her a moment, stared at the white face on the
reclining chair--and passed his hand heavily across his eyes.

"You will! You will!" It came in a great surging cry of joy from the old
lady. "You will--oh, thank God, thank God!--I can see it in your face!"

"I--I guess I'm soft," he said huskily, and stooped and raised Mrs.
Matthews to her feet. "Don't cry any more. It'll be all right--it'll be
all right. I'll--I'll fix it up somehow. I haven't made any arrests yet,
and--well, I'll take my chances. I'll get the plate and turn it over to
you to-morrow, only--only it's got to be destroyed in my presence."

"Yes, yes!" she cried, trying to smile through her tears--and then
she flung her arms around her son's neck again. "And when you come
to-morrow, I'll be ready with the money to do my share, too, and--"

But Sammy Matthews shook his head.

"You're wrong, both of you," he said weakly. "You're a white man,
Kline. But destroying that plate won't save me. The minute a single note
printed from it shows up, they'll know back there in Washington that the
plate was stolen, and--"

"No; you're safe enough there," the other interposed heavily. "Knowing
what was up, you don't think I'd give the gang a chance to get them
into circulation, do you? I got them all when I got the plate. And"--he
smiled a little anxiously--"I'll bring them here to be destroyed with
the plate. It would finish me now, as well as you, if one of them ever
showed up. Say," he said suddenly, with a catch in his breath, "I--I
don't think I know what I'm doing."

Mrs. Matthews reached out her hands to him.

"What can I say to you!" she said brokenly, "What--"

Jimmie Dale drew back along the wall. A little way from the door he
quickened his pace, still moving, however, with extreme caution. They
were still talking behind him as he turned from the corridor into the
passageway leading to the store, and from there into the store itself.
And then suddenly, in spite of caution, his foot slipped on the bare
floor. It was not much--just enough to cause his other foot, poised
tentatively in air, to come heavily down, and a loud and complaining
creak echoed from the floor.

Jimmie Dale's jaws snapped like a steel trap. From down the corridor
came a sudden, excited exclamation in the little old lady's voice, and
then her steps sounded running toward the store. In the fraction of a
second Jimmie Dale was at the front door.

"Clumsy, blundering fool!" he whispered fiercely to himself as he turned
the key, opened the door noiselessly until it was just ajar, and turned
the key in the lock again, leaving the bolt protruding out. One step
backward, and he was rapping on the counter with his knuckles. "Isn't
anybody here?" he called out loudly. "Isn't any--oh!"--as Mrs. Matthews
appeared in the back doorway. "A package of cigarettes, please."

She stared at him, a little frightened, her eyes red and swollen with
recent crying.

"How--how did you get in here?" she asked tremendously.

"I beg your pardon?" inquired Jimmie Dale, in polite surprise.

"I--I locked the door--I'm sure I did," she said, more to herself than
to Jimmie Dale, and hurried across the floor to the door as she spoke.

Jimmie Dale, still politely curious, turned to watch her. For a moment
bewilderment and a puzzled look were in her face--and then a sort of
surprised relief.

"I must have turned the key in the lock without shutting the door
tight," she explained, "for I knew I turned the key."

Jimmie Dale bent forward to examine the lock--and nodded.

"Yes," he agreed, with a smile. "I should say so." Then, gravely
courteous: "I'm sorry to have intruded."

"It is nothing," she answered; and, evidently anxious to be rid of him,
moved quickly around behind the counter. "What kind of cigarettes do you

"Egyptians--any kind," said Jimmie Dale, laying a bill on the counter.

He pocketed the cigarettes and his change, and turned to the door.

"Good-evening," he said pleasantly--and went out.

Jimmie Dale smiled a little curiously, a little tolerantly. As he
started along the street, he heard the door of the little shop close
with a sort of supercareful bang, the key turned, and the latch rattle
to try the door--the little old lady was bent on making no mistake a
second time!

And then the smile left Jimmie Dale's lips, his face grew strained and
serious, and he broke into a run down the block to Sixth Avenue. Here he
paused for an instant--there was the elevated, the surface cars--which
would be the quicker? He looked up the avenue. There was no train
coming; the nearest surface car was blocks away. He bit his lips in
vexation--and then with a jump he was across the street and hailing a
passing taxicab that his eyes had just lighted on.

"Got a fare?" called Jimmie Dale.

"No, sir," answered the chauffeur, bumping his car to an abrupt halt.

"Good!" Jimmie Dale ran alongside, and yanked the door open. "Do you
know where the Palace Saloon on the Bowery is?"

"Yes, sir," replied the man.

Jimmie Dale held a ten-dollar bank note up before the chauffeur's eyes.

"Earn that in four minutes, then," he snapped--and sprang into the cab.

The taxicab swerved around on little better than two wheels, started on
a mad dash down the Avenue--and Jimmie Dale braced himself grimly in
his seat. The cab swerved again, tore across Waverly Place, circuited
Washington Square, crossed Broadway, and whirled finally into the upper
end of the Bowery.

Jimmie Dale spoke once--to himself--plaintively.

"It's too bad I can't let old Carruthers in on this for a scoop with his
precious MORNING NEWS-ARGUS--but if I get out of it alive myself, I'll
do well! Wonder if the day'll ever come when he finds out that his very
dear friend and old college pal, Jimmie Dale, is the Gray Seal that he's
turned himself inside out for about four years now to catch, and that
he'd trade his soul with the devil any time to lay hands on! Good old
Carruthers! 'The most puzzling, bewildering, delightful crook in the
annals of crime'--am I?"

The cab drew up at the curb. Jimmie Dale sprang out, shoved the bill
into the chauffeur's hand, stepped quickly across the sidewalk, and
pushed his way through the swinging doors of the Palace Saloon. Inside
leisurely and nonchalantly, he walked down past the length of the bar to
a door at the rear. This opened into a passageway that led to the side
entrance of the saloon on the cross street. Jimmie Dale emerged from
the side entrance, crossed the street, retraced his steps to the Bowery,
crossed over, and walked rapidly down that thoroughfare for two blocks.
Here he turned east into the cross street; and here, once more, his pace
became leisurely and unhurried.

"It's a strange coincidence, though possibly a very happy one," said
Jimmie Dale, as he walked along, "that it should be on the same street
as the Sanctuary--ah, this ought to be the place!"

An alleyway, corresponding to the one that flanked the tenement where,
as Larry the Bat, he had paid room rent as a tenant for several years,
in fact, the alleyway next above it, and but a short block away,
intersected the street, narrow, black, and uninviting. Jimmie Dale, as
he passed, peered down its length.

"No light--that's good!" commented Jimmie Dale to himself. Then: "Window
opens on alleyway ten feet from ground--shoe store, Russian Jew, in
basement--go in front door--straight hallway--room at end--Russian
Jew probably accomplice--be careful that he does not hear you moving
overhead"--Jimmie Dale's mind, with that curious faculty of his, was
subconsciously repeating snatches from her letter word for word, even
as he noted the dimly lighted, untidy, and disorderly interior of what,
from strings of leather slippers that decorated the cellarlike entrance,
was evidently a cheap and shoddy shoe store in the basement of the

The building itself was rickety and tumble-down, three stories high, and
given over undoubtedly to gregarious foreigners of the poorer class, a
rabbit burrow, as it were, having a multitude of roomers and lodgers.
There was nothing ominous or even secretive about it--up the short
flight of steps to the entrance, even the door hung carelessly half

Jimmie Dale's slouch hat was pulled a little farther down over his eyes
as he mounted the steps and entered the hallway. He listened a moment.
A sort of subdued, querulous hubbub seemed to hum through the place, as
voices, men's, women's, and children's, echoing out from their various
rooms above, mingled together, and floated down the stairways in a
discordant medley. Jimmie Dale stepped lightly down the length of
the hall--and listened again; this time intently, with his ear to the
keyhole of the door that made the end of the passage. There was not a
sound from within. He tried the door, smiled a little as he reached for
his keys, worked over the lock--and straightened up suddenly as his
ear caught a descending step on the stairs. It was two flights up,
however--and the door was unlocked now. Jimmie Dale opened it, and, like
a shadow, slipped inside; and, as he locked the door behind him, smiled
once more--the door lock was but a paltry makeshift at best, but INSIDE
his fingers had touched a massive steel bolt that, when shot home, would
yield when the door itself yielded--and not before. Without moving the
bolt, he turned--and his flashlight for a moment swept the room.

"Not much like the way they describe this sort of place in storybooks!"
murmured Jimmie Dale capriciously. "But I get the idea. Mr. Russian Jew
downstairs makes a bluff at using it for a storeroom."

Again the flashlight made a circuit. Here, there, and everywhere,
seemingly without any attempt at order, were piles of wooden shipping
cases. Only the centre of the room was clear and empty; that, and a
vacant space against the wall by the window.

Jimmie Dale, moving without sound, went to the window. There was a shade
on it, and it was pulled down. He reached up underneath it, felt for
the window fastening, and unlocked it; then cautiously tested the window
itself by lifting it an inch or two--it slid easily in its grooves.

He stood then for a moment, hardfaced, a frown gathering his forehead
into heavy furrows, as the flashlight's ray again and again darted
hither and thither. There was nothing, absolutely nothing in the room
but wooden packing cases. He lifted the cover of the one nearest to him
and looked inside. It was quite empty, except for some pieces of heavy
cord, and a few cardboard shoe boxes that, in turn, were empty, too.

"It's here, of course," said Jimmie Dale thoughtfully to himself.
"Clever work, too! But I can't move half a hundred packing cases without
that chap below hearing me; and I can't do it in ten minutes, either,
which, I imagine is the outside limit of time. Fortunately, though,
these cases are not without their compensation--a dozen men could hide

He began to move about the room. And now he stooped before one pile of
boxes and then another, curiously attempting to lift up the entire pile
from the bottom. Some he could not move; others, by exerting all his
strength, gave a little; and then, finally, over in one corner, he found
a pile that appeared to answer his purpose.

"These are certainly empty," he muttered.

There was just room to squeeze through between them and the next stack
of cases alongside; but, once through, by the simple expedient of moving
the cases out a little to take advantage of the angle made by the
corner of the room, he obtained ample space to stand comfortably upright
against the wall. But Jimmie Dale was not satisfied yet. Could he see
out into the room? He experimented with his flashlight--and carefully
shifted the screen of cases before him a little to one side. And yet
still he was not satisfied. With a sort of ironical droop at the
corners of his lips, as though suddenly there had flashed upon him the
inspiration that fathered one of those whimsical ideas and fancies that
were so essentially a characteristic of Jimmie Dale, he came out from
behind the cases, went across the room to the case he had opened when he
first entered, took out the cord and the cover of one of the cardboard
shoe boxes, and with these returned to his hiding place once more.

The sounds from the upper stories of the tenement now reached him hardly
at all; but from below, directly under his feet almost, he could hear
some one, the proprietor of the shoe store probably, walking about.

Tense, every faculty now on the alert, his head turned in a strained,
attentive attitude, Jimmie Dale threw on the flashlight's tiny switch,
took that intimate and thin metal case from his pocket, extracted a
diamond-shaped, gray paper seal with the little tweezers, moistened the
adhesive side, and stuck it in the centre of the white cardboard-box
cover, then tore the edges of the cardboard down until the whole was
just small enough to slip into his pocket. Through the cardboard he
looped a piece of cord, placard fashion, and with his pencil printed the
four words--"with the compliments of "--above the gray seal. He
surveyed the result with a grim, mirthless chuckle--and put the piece of
cardboard in his pocket.

"I'm taking the longest chances I ever took in my life," said Jimmie
Dale very seriously to himself, as his fingers twisted, and doubled,
and tied the remaining pieces of cord together, and finally fashioned a
running noose in one end. "I don't--" The cord and the flashlight went
into his pocket, the room was in darkness, the black mask was whipped
from his breast pocket and adjusted to his face, and his automatic was
in his hand.

Came the creak of a footstep, as though on a ladder exactly below him,
another, and another, receding curiously in its direction, yet at the
same time growing louder in sound as if nearer the floor--then a crack
of light showed in the floor in the centre of the room. This held for
an instant, then expanded suddenly into a great luminous square--and
through a trapdoor, opened wide now, a man's head appeared.

Jimmie Dale's eyes, fixed through the space between the piles of cases,
narrowed--there was, indeed, little doubt but that the shoe-store
proprietor below was an accomplice! The store served a most convenient
purpose in every respect--as a secret means of entry into the room, as
a sort of guarantee of innocence for the room itself. Why not! To the
superficial observer, to the man who might by some chance blunder into
the room--it was but an adjunct of the store itself!

The man in the trap-doorway paused with his shoulders above the floor,
looked around, listened, then drew himself up, walked across the floor,
and shot the heavy bolt on the door that led into the hallway of the
house. He returned then to the trapdoor, bent over it, and whistled
softly. Two more men, in answer to the summons, came up into the room.

"The Cap'll be along in a minute," one of them said. "Turn on the

A switch clicked, flooding the room with sudden brilliancy from half a
dozen electric bulbs.

"Too many!" grunted the same voice again. "We ain't working
to-night--turn out half of 'em."

The sudden transition from the darkness for a moment dazzled Jimmie
Dale's eyes--but the next moment he was searching the faces of the three
men. There were few crooks, few denizens of the crime world below the
now obsolete but still famous dead line that, as Larry the Bat, he did
not know at least by sight.

"Moulton, Whitie Burns, and Marty Dean," confided Jimmie Dale softly
to himself. "And I don't know of any worse, except--the Cap. And gun
fighters, every one of them, too--nice odds, to say nothing of--"

"Here's the Cap now!" announced one of the three. "Hello, Cap, where'd
you raise the mustache?"

Jimmie Dale's eyes shifted to the trapdoor, and into them crept a
contemptuous and sardonic smile--the man who was coming up now and
hoisting himself to the floor was the man who, half an hour before, had
threatened young Sammy Matthews with arrest.

The Cap, alias Bert Malone, alias a score of other names, closed the
trapdoor after him, pulled off his mustache and gray wig, tucked them in
his pocket, and faced his companions brusquely.

"Never mind about the mustache," he said curtly. "Get busy, the lot of
you. Stir around and get the works out!"

"What for?" inquired Whitie Burns, a sharp, ferret-faced little man. "We
got enough of the old stuff on hand now, and that bum break Gregor made
when he pinched the cracked plate put the finish on that. Say, Cap--"

"Close your face, Whitie, and get the works out!" Malone cut in shortly.
"We've only got the whole night ahead of us--but we'll need it all.
We're going to run the queer off that cracked plate."

One of the others, Marty Dean this time, a certain brutal aggressiveness
in both features and physique, edged forward.

"Say, what's the lay?" he demanded. "A joke? We printed one fiver off
that plate--and then we knew enough to quit. With that crack along
the corner, you couldn't pass 'em on a blind man! And Gregor saying he
thought we could patch the plate up enough to get by with gives me a
pain--he's got jingles in his dome factory! Run them fivers eh--say, are
you cracked, too?"

"Aw, forget it!" observed Malone caustically. "Who's running this gang?"
Then, with a malicious grin: "I got a customer for those fivers--fifteen
thousand dollars for all we can turn out to-night. See?"

The others stared at him for a moment, incredulity and greed mingling in
a curious half-hesitant, half-expectant look on their faces.

Then Whitie Burns spoke, circling his lips with the tip of his tongue:

"D'ye mean it, Cap--honest? What's the lay? How'd you work it?"

Malone, unbending with the sensation he had created, grinned again.

"Easy enough," he said offhandedly. "It was like falling off a log.
Gregor said, didn't he, that the only way he had been able to get
his claws on that plate was on account of young Matthews going away
sick--eh? Well, the old Matthews woman, his mother, has got money--about
fifteen thousand. I guess she ain't got any more than that, or I'd have
raised the ante. Aw, it was easy. She threw it at me. I framed one up on
them, that's all. I'm Kline, of the secret service--see? I don't suppose
they'd ever seen him, though they'd know his name fast enough, but I
made up something like him. I showed them where I had a case against
Sammy for pinching the plate that was strong enough to put a hundred
innocent men behind the bars. Of course, he knew well enough he was
innocent, but he could see the twenty years I showed him with both eyes.
Say, he mussed all over the place, and went and fainted like a girl. And
then the old woman came across with an offer of fifteen thousand for the
plate, and corrupted me." Malone's cunning, vicious face, now that
the softening effects of the gray hair and mustache were gone, seemed
accentuated diabolically by the grin broadening into a laugh, as he

Marty Dean's hand swung with a bang to Malone's shoulder.

"Say, Cap--say, you're all right!" he exclaimed excitedly. "You're
the boy! But what's the good of running anything off the plate before
turning it over to 'em--the stuff's no good to us."

"You got a wooden nut, with sawdust for brains," said Malone
sarcastically. "If he'd thought the gang of counterfeiters that was
supposed to have bought the plate from him had run off only one fiver
and then stopped because they say it wouldn't get by, and weren't going
to run any more, and just destroy the plate like it was supposed to have
been destroyed to begin with, and it all end up with no one the wiser,
where d'ye think we'd have banked that fifteen thousand! I told him I
had the whole run confiscated, and that the queer went with the plate,
so we'll just make that little run to-night--that's why I sent word
around to you this morning."

"By the jumping!" ejaculated Whitie Burns, heavy with admiration. "You
got a head on you, Cap!"

"It's a good thing for some of you that I have," returned Malone
complacently. "But don't stand jawing all night. Go on, now--get busy!"

There was no surprise in Jimmie Dale's face--he had chosen his position
behind a pile of cases that he had been extremely careful, as a man
is careful when his life hangs in the balance, to assure himself were
empty. None of the four came near or touched the pile behind which he
stood; but, here and there about the room, they pulled this one and that
one out from various stacks. In scarcely more than a moment, the room
was completely transformed. It was no longer a storeroom for surplus
stock, for the storage of bulky and empty packing cases! From the cases
the men had picked out, like a touch of magic, appeared a veritable
printing plant, an elaborate engraver's outfit--a highly efficient
foot-power press, rapidly being assembled by Whitie Burns; an electric
dryer, inks, a pile of white, silk-threaded bank-note paper, a cutter,
and a score of other appurtenances.

"Yes," said Jimmie Dale very gently to himself. "Yes, quite so--but the
plate? Ah!" Malone was taking it out from the middle of a bundle of old
newspapers, loosely tied together, that he had lifted from one of the

Jimmie Dale's eyes fastened on it--and from that instant never left it.
A minute passed, two, three of them--the four men were silently busy
about the room--Malone was carefully cleaning the plate.

"They will raid to-night. Look out for Kline, he is the sharpest man in
the United State secret service"--the warning in her letter was running
through Jimmie Dale's mind. Kline--the real Kline--was going to raid
the place to-night. When? At what time? It must be nearly eleven o'clock
already, and--

It came sudden, quick as the crack of doom--a terrific crash against the
bolted door--but the door, undoubtedly to the surprise of those without,
held fast, thanks to the bolt. The four men, white-faced, seemed for an
instant turned to statues. Came another crash against the door--and a
sharp, imperative order to those within to open it and surrender.

"We're pinched! Beat it!" whispered Whitie Burns wildly--and dashed for
the trapdoor.

Like a rat for its hole, Marty Dean followed. Malone, farther away,
dropped the plate on the floor, and rushed, with Moulton beside him,
after the others--but he never reached the trapdoor.

Over the crashing blows, raining now in quick succession on the door of
the room, over a startled commotion as lodgers, roomers, and tenants on
the floor above awoke into frightened activity with shouts and cries,
came the louder crash of a pile of packing boxes hurled to the floor.
And over them, vaulting those scattered in his way, Jimmie Dale sprang
at Malone. The man reeled back, with a cry. Moulton dashed through
the trapdoor and disappeared. The short, ugly barrel of Jimmie Dale's
automatic was between Malone's eyes.

"You make a move," said Jimmie Dale, in a low sibilant way, "and
I'll drop you where you stand! Put your hands behind your back--palms

Malone, dazed, cowed, obeyed. A panel of the door split and rent down
its length--the hinges were sagging. Jimmie Dale worked like lightning.
The cord with the slip noose from his pocket went around Malone's
wrists, jerked tight, and knotted; the placard, his lips grim, with no
sign of humour, Jimmie Dale dangled around the man's neck.

"An introduction for you to Mr. Kline out there--that you seem so fond
of!" gritted Jimmie Dale. Then, working as he talked: "I've got no time
to tell you what I think of you, you pitiful hound"--he snatched up the
plate from the floor and put it in his pocket--"Twenty years, I think
you said, didn't you?"--his hand shot into Malone's pocket-book, and
extracted the five-dollar note--"If you can open this with your toes
maybe you can get a way"--he wrenched the trapdoor over and slammed it
shut--"good-night, Malone"--and he leaped for the window.

The door tottered inward from the top, ripping, tearing, smashing
hinges, panels, and jamb. Jimmie Dale got a blurred vision of brass
buttons, blue coats, and helmets, and, in the forefront, of a stocky,
gray-mustached, gray-haired man in plain clothes.

Jimmie Dale threw up the window, swung out, as with a rush the officers
burst through into the room and a revolver bullet hummed viciously past
his ear, and dropped to the ground--into encircling arms!

"Ah, no, you don't, my bucko!" snapped a hoarse voice in his ear. "Keep
quiet now, or I'll crack your bean--understand!"

But the officer, too heavy to be muscular, was no match for Jimmie
Dale, who, even as he had dropped from the sill, had caught sight of
the lurking form below; and now, with a quick, sudden, lithe movement he
wriggled loose, his fist from a short-arm jab smashed upon the point of
the other's jaw, sending the man staggering backward--and Jimmie Dale

A crowd was already collecting at the mouth of the alleyway, mostly
occupants of the house itself, and into these, scattering them in all
directions, eluding dexterously another officer who made a grab for him,
Jimmie Dale charged at top speed, burst through, and headed down the
street, running like a deer.

Yells went up, a revolver spat venomously behind him, came the shrill
CHEEP-CHEEP! of the police whistle, and heavy boots pounding the
pavement in pursuit.

Down the block Jimmie Dale raced. The yells augmented in his rear.
Another shot--and this time he heard the bullet buzz. And then he
swerved--into the next alleyway--that flanked the Sanctuary.

He had perhaps a ten yards' lead, just a little more than the distance
from the street to the side door of the Sanctuary that opened on
the alleyway. And, as he ran now, his fingers tore at his clothing,
loosening his tie, unbuttoning coat, vest, collar, shirt, and
undershirt. He leaped at the door, swung it open, flung himself
inside--and then sacrificing speed to silence, went up the stairs like a
cat, cramming his mask now into his pocket.

His room was on the first landing. In an instant he had unlocked the
door, entered, and locked it again behind him. From outside, an excited
street urchin's voice shrilled up to him:

"He went in that door! I seen him!"

The police whistle chirped again; and then an authoritative voice:

"Get around and watch the saloon back of this, Heeney--there's a way out
through there from this joint."

Jimmie Dale, divested of every stitch of clothing that he had worn,
pulled a disreputable collarless flannel shirt over his head, pulled on
a dirty and patched pair of trousers, and slipped into a threadbare and
filthy coat. Jimmie Dale was working against seconds. They were at the
lower door now. He lifted the oilcloth in the corner of the room,
lifted up the loose piece of the flooring, shoved his discarded garments
inside, and from a little box that was there smeared the hollow of
his hand with some black substance, possessed himself of two little
articles, replaced the flooring, replaced the oilcloth, and, in bare
feet, stole across the room to the door. Against the door, without a
sound, Jimmie Dale placed a chair, and on the chair seat he laid the two
little articles he had been carrying in his hand. It was intensely black
in the room, but Jimmie Dale needed no light here. From under the bed he
pulled out a pair of woolen socks and a pair of congress boots, both as
disreputable as the rest of his attire, put them on--and very quietly,
softly, cautiously, stretched himself out on the bed.

The officers were at the top of the stairs. A voice barked out:

"Stand guard on this landing, Peters. Higgins, you take the one above.
We'll start from the top of the house and work down. Allow no one to
pass you."

"Yes, sir! Very good, Mr. Kline," was the response.

Kline!--the sharpest man in the United States secret service, she had
said. Jimmie Dale's lips set.

"I'm glad I had no shave this morning," said Jimmie Dale grimly to

His fingers were working with the black substance in the hollow of his
hand--and the long, slim, tapering fingers, the shapely, well-cared-for
hands grew unkempt and grimy, black beneath the finger nails--and a
little, too, played its part on the day's growth of beard, a little
around the throat and at the nape of the neck, a little across the
forehead to meet the locks of straggling and disordered hair. Jimmie
Dale wiped the residue from the hollow of his hand on the knee of his
trousers--and lay still.

An officer paced outside. Upstairs doors opened and closed. Gruff, harsh
tones in commands echoed through the house. The search party descended
to the second floor--and again the same sounds were repeated. And then,
thumping down the creaking stairs, they stopped before Jimmie Dale's
room. Some one tried the door, and, finding it locked, rattled it

"Open the door!" It was Kline's voice.

Jimmie Dale's eyes were closed, and he was breathing regularly, though
just a little slower than in natural respiration.

"Break it down!" ordered Kline tersely.

There was a rush at it--and it gave. It surged inward, knocked against
the chair, upset the latter, something tinkled to the floor--and four
officers, with Kline at their head, jumped into the room.

Jimmie Dale never moved. A flashlight played around the room and focused
upon him--and then he was shaken roughly--only to fall inertly back on
the bed again.

"I guess this is all right, Mr. Kline," said one of the officers. "It's
Larry the Bat, and he's doped to the eyes. There's the stuff on the
floor we knocked off the chair."

"Light the gas!" directed Kline curtly; and, being obeyed, stooped to
the floor and picked up a hypodermic syringe and a small bottle. He held
the bottle to the light, and read the label: LIQUOR MORPHINAE. "Shake
him again!" he commanded.

None too gently, a policeman caught Jimmie Dale by the shoulder and
shook him vigorously--again Jimmie Dale, once the other let go his hold,
fell back limply on the bed, breathing in that same, slightly slowed

"Larry the Bat, eh?" grunted Kline; then, to the officer who had
volunteered the information: "Who's Larry the Bat? What is he? And how
long have you known him?"

"I don't know who he is any more than what you can see there for
yourself," replied the officer. "He's a dope fiend, and I guess a pretty
tough case, though we've never had him up for anything. He's lived here
ever since I've been on the beat, and that's three years or--"

"All right!" interrupted Kline crisply. "He's no good to us! You say
there's an exit from this house into that saloon at the back?"

"Yes, sir but the fellow, whoever he is, couldn't get away from there.
Heeney's been over on guard from the start."

"Then he's still inside there," said Kline, clipping off his words.
"We'll search the saloon. Nice night's work this is! One out of the
whole gang--and that one with the compliments of the Gray Seal!"

The men went out and began to descend the stairs.

"One," said Jimmie Dale to himself, still motionless, still breathing in
that slow way so characteristic of the drug. "Two. Three. Four."

The minutes went by--a quarter of an hour--a half hour. Still Jimmie
Dale lay there--still motionless--still breathing with slow regularity.
His muscles began to cramp, to give him exquisite torture. Around
him all was silence--only distant sounds from the street reached
him, muffled, and at intervals. Another quarter of an hour passed--an
eternity of torment. It seemed to Jimmie Dale, for all his will power,
that he could not hold himself in check, that he must move, scream out
even in the torture that was passing all endurance. It was silent now,
utterly silent--and then out of the silence, just outside his door, a
footstep creaked--and a man walked to the stairs and went down.

"Five," said Jimmie Dale to himself. "The sharpest man in the United
States secret service."

And then for the first time Jimmie Dale moved--to wipe away the beads of
sweat that had sprung out upon his forehead.



Larry the Bat shambled out of the side door of the tenement into the
back alleyway; shambled along the black alleyway to the street--and
smiled a little grimly as a shadow across the roadway suddenly shifted
its position. The game was growing acute, critical, desperate even--and
it was his move.

Larry the Bat, disreputable denizen of the underworld, alias Jimmie
Dale, millionaires' clubman, alias the Gray Seal, whom Carruthers of the
MORNING NEWS-ARGUS called the master criminal of the age, shuffled along
in the direction of the Bowery, his hands plunged deep in the pockets
of his frayed and tattered trousers, where his fingers, in a curious,
wistful way, fondled the keys of his own magnificent residence on
Riverside Drive. It was his move--and it was an impasse, ironical,
sardonic, and it was worse--it was full of peril.

True, he had outwitted Kline of the secret service two nights before,
when Kline had raided the counterfeiters' den; true, he had no reason to
believe that Kline suspected HIM specifically, but the man Kline wanted
HAD entered the tenement that night, and since then the house had been
shadowed day and night. The result was both simple and disastrous--to
Jimmie Dale. Larry the Bat, a known inmate of the house, might come
and go as he pleased--but to emerge from the Sanctuary in the person of
Jimmie Dale would be fatal. Kline had been outwitted, but Kline had not
acknowledged final defeat. The tenement had been searched from top to
bottom--unostentatiously. His own room on the first landing had been
searched the previous afternoon, when he was out, but they had failed to
find the cunningly contrived opening in the floor under the oilcloth in
the corner, an impromptu wardrobe, that would proclaim Larry the Bat and
Jimmie Dale to be one and the same person--that would inevitably lead
further to the establishment of his identity as the Gray Seal. In time,
of course, the surveillance would cease--but he could not wait. That was
the monumental irony of it--the factor that, all unknown to Kline, was
forcing the issue hard now. It was his move.

Since, years ago now, as the Gray Seal, he had begun to work with HER,
that unknown, mysterious accomplice of his, and the police, stung to
madness both by the virulent and constant attacks of the press and by
the humiliating prod of their own failures, sought daily, high and low,
with every resource at their command, for the Gray Seal, he had never
been in quite so strange and perilous a plight as he found himself at
that moment. To preserve inviolate the identity of Larry the Bat was
absolutely vital to his safety. It was the one secret that even she, who
so strangely appeared to know all else about him, he was sure, had not
discovered--and it was just that, in a way, that had brought the present
impossible situation to pass.

In the month previous, in a lull between those letters of hers, he had
set himself doggedly and determinedly to the renewed task of what had
become so dominantly now a part of his very existence--the solving of
HER identity. And for that month, as the best means to the end--means,
however, that only resulted as futilely as the attempts that had gone
before--he had lived mostly as Larry the Bat, returning to his home in
his proper person only when occasion and necessity demanded it. He had
been going home that evening, two nights before, walking along Riverside
Drive, when from the window of the limousine she had dropped the letter
at his feet that had plunged him into the affair of the Counterfeit
Five--and he had not gone home! Eventually, to save himself, he had, in
the Sanctuary, performing the transformation in desperate haste, again
been forced to assume the role of Larry the Bat.

That was really the gist of it. And yesterday morning he had remembered,
to his dismay, that he had had little or no money left the night before.
He had intended, of course, to replenish his supply--when he got home.
Only he hadn't gone home! And now he needed money--needed it badly,
desperately. With thousands in the bank, with abundance even in
his safe, in his own den at home, a supply kept there always for an
emergency, he was facing actual want--he rattled two dimes, a nickel,
and a few odd pennies thoughtfully against the keys in his pocket.

To a certain extent, old Jason, his butler, could be trusted. Jason even
knew that mysterious letters of tremendous secretive importance came
to the house, and the old man always meant well--but he dared not trust
even Jason with the secret of his dual personality. What was he to do?
He needed money imperatively--at once. Thanks to Kline, for the time
being, at least, he could not rid himself of the personality of Larry
the Bat by the simple expedient or slipping into the clothes of Jimmie
Dale--he must live, act, and remain Larry the Bat until the secret
service officer gave up the hunt. How bridge the gulf between Jimmie
Dale and Larry the Bat in old Jason's eyes!

Nor was that all. There was still another matter, and one that, in order
to counteract it, demanded at once a serious inroad--to the extent of
a telephone call--upon his slender capital. A too prolonged and
unaccounted-for absence from home, and old Jason, in his anxious,
blundering solicitude, would have the fat in the fire at that end--and
the city, and the social firmament thereof, would be humming with the
startling news of the disappearance of a well-known millionaire. The
complications that would then ensue, with himself powerless to lift a
finger, Jimmie Dale did not care to think about--such a contretemps must
at all hazards be prevented.

Jimmie Dale reached the corner of the street, where it intersected
the Bowery, and paused languidly by the curb. No one appeared to be
following. He had not expected that there would be--but it was as well
to be sure. He walked then a few steps along the Bowery--and slipped
suddenly into a doorway, from where he could command a view of the
street corner that he had just left. At the end of ten minutes,
satisfied that no one had any concern in his immediate movements, he
shambled on again down the Bowery.

There was a saloon two blocks away that boasted a private telephone
booth. Jimmie Dale made that his destination.

Larry the Bat was a very well-known character in that resort, and the
bullet-headed dispenser of drinks behind the bar nodded unctuously to
him over the heads of those clustered at the rail as he entered; Larry
the Bat, as befitted one of the elite of the underworld, was graciously
pleased to acknowledge the proletariat salutation with a curt nod. He
walked down to the end of the room, entered the telephone booth--and was
carelessly careful to close the door tightly behind him.

He gave the number of his residence on Riverside Drive, and waited for
the connection. After some delay, Jason's voice answered him.

"Jason," said Jimmie Dale, in matter-of-fact tones, "I shall be out
of the city for another three or four days, possibly a week, and--" he
stopped abruptly, as a sort of gasp came to him over the wire.

"Thank God that's you, sir!" exclaimed the old butler wildly. "I've been
near mad, sir, all day!"

"Don't get excited, Jason!" said Jimmie Dale a little sharply. "The mere
matter of my absence for the last two days is nothing to cause you any
concern. And while I am on the subject, Jason, let me say now that I
shall be glad if you will bear that fact in mind in future."

"Yes, sir," stammered Jason. "But, sir, it ain't that--good Lord, Master
Jim, it ain't that, sir! It's--it's one of them letters."

Something like a galvanic shock seemed to jerk the disreputable,
loose-jointed frame of Larry the Bat suddenly erect--and a strained
whiteness crept over the dirty, unwashed face.

"Go on, Jason," said Jimmie Dale, without a quiver in his voice.

"It came this morning, sir--that shuffer with his automobile left it.
I had just time to say you weren't at home, sir, and he was gone. And
then, sir, there ain't been an hour gone by all through the day that a
woman, sir--a lady, begging your pardon, Master Jim--hasn't rung up
on the telephone, asking if you were back, and if I could get you, and
where you were, and half frantic, sir, half sobbing, sometimes, sir, and
saying there was a life hanging on it, Master Jim."

Larry the Bat, staring into the mouthpiece of the instrument,
subconsciously passed his hand across his forehead, and subconsciously
noted that his fingers, as he drew them away, were damp.

"Where is the letter now, Jason?" inquired Jimmie Dale coolly.

"Here on your desk, Master Jim. Shall I bring it to you?"

Bring it to him! How? When? Where? Bring it to him! The ghastly irony
of it! Jimmie Dale tried to think--prodding, spurring desperately that
keen, lightning brain of his that had never failed him yet. How bridge
the gulf between Larry the Bat and Jimmie Dale in Jason's eyes--not just
for the replenishing of funds now, but with a life at stake!

"No--I think not, Jason," said Jimmie Dale calmly. "Just leave it where
it is. And if she telephones again, say that you have told me--that will
be sufficient to satisfy any further inquiries. And Jason--"

"Yes, sir?"

"If she telephones again, try and find out where the call comes from."

"I haven't forgotten what you said once, Master Jim, sir," said the old
man eagerly. "And I've been trying that sir, all day. They've all come
from different pay stations, sir."

A mirthless little smile tinged Jimmie Dale's lips. Of course! He might
have known! It was always that way, always the same. He was as near to
the solution of her identity at that moment as he had been years ago,
when she, in some mysterious way, alone of all the world, had identified
him as the Gray Seal!

"Very good, Jason," he said quietly. "Don't bother about it any more.
It will be all right. You can expect me when you see me. Good-night." He
hung the receiver on the hook, walked out of the booth, and mechanically
reached the street.

All right! It was far from "all right"--very far from it. It was no
trivial thing, that letter; they never had been trivial things, those
letters of hers, that involved so often a matter of life and death--as
this one now, perhaps, as her actions would seem to indicate, involved
life and death more urgently than any that had gone before. It was far
from all right--at a moment when his own position, his own safety, was
at best but a desperate chance; when his every energy, brain, wit, and
cunning were taxed to the utmost to save himself! And yet, somehow, some
way, at any cost, he must get that letter--and at any cost he must act
upon it! To fail her was to fail utterly in everything that failure in
its most miserable, its widest sense, implied--failure in that which
rose paramount to every other consideration in life!

Fail her! Jimmie Dale's lips thinned into a hard, drawn line--and then
parted slowly in a curiously whimsical smile. It would be a strange
burglary that he had decided upon, in order that he might not fail
her--stranger than any the Gray Seal had ever committed, and, in some
respects, even more perilous!

He started along the Bowery, walking briskly now, toward the nearest
subway station, at Astor Place, his mind for the moment electing to face
the situation in a humour as whimsical as his smile. Supposing that,
as Larry the Bat, he were caught and arrested during the next hour, in
Jimmie's Dale's residence on Riverside Drive! With his arrest as Larry
the Bat, Jimmie's Dale would automatically disappear. Would follow then
the suspicion that Jimmie Dale, the millionaire, had met with foul play,
and as time went on, and Jimmie Dale, being then in prison as Larry
the Bat, did not reappear, the assurance of it; then the certainty
that suspicion would focus on Larry the Bat as being connected with
the millionaire's death, since Larry the Bat had been caught in Jimmie
Dale's home--and he would be accused of his own murder! It was quite
humourous, of course, quite grotesquely bizarre--but it was equally
an exceedingly grim possibility! There were drawbacks to a dual

"In a word," confided Jimmie Dale softly to himself, and a serious light
crept into the dark, steady eyes, "I'm in a bit of a nasty mess!"

At Astor Place he entered the subway; at Fourteenth Street he changed
to an express, and at Ninety-sixth Street he got out. It was but a short
walk west to Riverside Drive, and from there his house was only a few
blocks farther on.

Jimmie Dale did not slouch now. And for all his disreputable attire,
incongruous as it was in that neighbourhood, few people that he
passed paid any attention to him, none gave him more than a casual
glance--Jimmie Dale swung along, upright, with no attempt to make
himself inconspicuous, hurrying a little, as one intent upon a definite
errand. As he neared his house he slowed his pace a little until a
couple, who were passing in front of it, had gone on; then he went up
the steps, but noiselessly as a shadow now, to the front door, opened
it softly, closed it softly behind him, and crouched for a moment in the

Through the monogrammed lace on the plate glass of the inner doors he
could see, a little indistinctly, into the reception hall beyond. The
hall was empty. Jason, for that matter, would be the only one likely to
be about; the other servants would have no business there in any case,
and whether in their quarters above or below, they had their own stairs
at the rear.

Jimmie Dale inserted the key in the spring lock, and opened the door
a cautious fraction of an inch--to listen. There was no sound--yes,
a subdued murmured--the servants were downstairs in the basement. He
slipped inside, slipped, in a flash, across the hall, and, treading like
a cat, went up the stairs. He scarcely seemed to breathe until, with a
little sigh of relief, he stood inside his den on the first floor, with
the door shut behind him.

"I must speak to Jason about being a little more watchful," muttered
Jimmie Dale facetiously. "Here's all my property at the mercy of--Larry
the Bat!"

An instant he stood by the door, looking about him--in the bright
moonlight streaming in through the side windows the room's appointments
stood out in soft shadows, the huge davenport, the great, luxurious
easy-chairs, an easel with a half-finished canvas, as he had left it;
the big, flat-topped, rosewood desk, the open fireplace--and then, his
steps silent on the thick velvet rug under foot, he walked quickly to
the desk.

Yes, there it was--the letter. He placed it hurriedly in his pocket--the
moonlight was not strong enough to read by, and he dared not turn on the

And now money--funds. In the alcove behind the portiere, Jimmie Dale
dropped on his knees before the squat, barrel-shaped safe, and opened
it. He reached inside, took out a package of banknotes, placed the bills
in his pocket--and hesitated a moment. What else would he require? What
act did that letter call upon the Gray Seal to perform in the next few
hours? Jimmie Dale stared thoughtfully into the interior of the safe.
Whatever it was, it must be performed in the role of Larry the Bat, for
though he could get into his dressing room now, and become Jimmie Dale
again, there were still those watchers outside the Sanctuary--THEY must
not become suspicious--and if Larry the Bat disappeared mysteriously,
Larry the Bat would be the man that Kline and the secret service of the
United States would never cease hunting for, and that would mean that
he could never reassume a character that was as necessary for his
protection as breath was to life, so long as the Gray Seal worked. True,
he could change now to Jimmie Dale, but he would have to change back
again and return to the Sanctuary before morning, as Larry the Bat--and
remain there until Kline, beaten, called off his human bloodhounds. No,
a change was not to be thought of.

What, then, would he require--that compact little kit of burglar tools,
rolled in its leather jacket, that, unrolled slipped about his body like
a close-fitting undervest? As well to take it anyway. He removed his
coat and vest, took out the leather bundle from the safe, untied the
thongs that bound it together, unrolled it, passed it around his body,
life belt fashion, secured the thongs over his shoulders, and put on
his coat and vest again. A revolver, a flashlight? He had both--at
the Sanctuary, under the flooring--but there were duplicates here! He
slipped them into his pockets. Anything else--to forestall and provide
for any possible contingency? He hesitated again for a moment, thinking,
then slowly closed the inner door of the safe, locked it, swung the
outer door shut--and, in the act of twirling the knobs, sprang suddenly
to his feet. Sharp, shrill in the stillness of the room, the telephone
bell on the desk rang out clamourously.

Jimmie Dale's face set hard, as he leaped out from behind the
curtain--had Jason heard it! It rang again before he could reach the
desk--was ringing as he snatched the receiver from the hook.

"Yes, yes!" he called, in a low, guarded, hasty way, into the
mouthpiece. "Hello! What is it?" And then one hand, resting on the desk,
closed around the edge, and tightened until the skin over the knuckles
grew ivory white. It was--SHE! She! It was HER voice--he had only heard
it once in all his life--that night, two nights before, in a silvery
laugh from the limousine as it had sped away from him down the road--but
he knew! It thrilled him now with a mad rhapsody, robbing him for the
moment of every thought save that she was living, real, existent--that
it was HER voice. "It's you--YOU!" he said hoarsely.

"Oh, Jimmie--you at last!"--it came in a little gasping cry of relief.
"The letter--"

"Yes, I've got it--it's all right--it's all right"--the words would
not seem to come fast enough in his desperate haste. "But it's you now.
Listen! Listen!" he pleaded. "Tell me who you are! My God! how I've
tried to find you, and--"

That rippling, silvery laugh again, but now, too, it seemed to his eager
ear, with just the faintest note of wistfulness in it.

"Some day, Jimmie. That letter now. It--"

Jimmie Dale straightened up suddenly--Jason's steps, running, sounded
outside the room along the corridor--there was not an instant to lose.

"Hang up! Good-bye! Danger! Don't ring again!" he whispered hurriedly,
and, with a miserable smile, replacing the receiver bitterly on the
hook, he jumped for the curtain.

He reached it none too soon. The door opened, an electric-light switch
clicked, and the room was flooded with light. Jason, still running,
headed for the desk.

"It'll be her again!" Jimmie Dale heard the old man mutter, as from the
edge of the portiere he watched the other's actions.

Jason picked up the telephone.

"Hello! Hello!" he called--then began to click impatiently with the
receiver hook. "Hello! . . . Who? . . . Central? . . . I don't want
any number--somebody was calling here. . . . What? . . . Nobody on the

He set the telephone back on the desk with a bewildered air.

"That's queer!" he exclaimed. "I could have sworn I heard it ring twice,
and--" He stopped abruptly, and, leaning across the desk, hung there,
wide-eyed, staring, while a sickly pallor began to steal into his face.
"The letter!" he mumbled wildly. "The letter--Master Jim's letter--the
letter--it's GONE!"

Trembling, excited, the old man began to search the desk, then down on
his knees on the floor under it; and then, growing more frantic with
every instant, rose and began to hunt around the room in an agitated,
aimless fashion.

Jason's distress was very real--he was almost beside himself now with
fear and anxiety. A whimsical, affectionate smile played over Jimmie
Dale's lips at the old man's antics--and changed suddenly into one of
consternation. Jason was making directly now for the curtain behind
which he stood! Perhaps, though, he would pass it by, and--Jason's hand
reached out and grasped the portiere.

"Jason!" said Jimmie Dale sharply.

The old man staggered back as though he had been struck, tried to speak,
choked, and gazed at the curtain with distended eyes.

"Is--is that you, sir--Master Jim--behind the curtain there?" he finally
blurted out. "I--sir--you gave me a start--and the letter, Master Jim--"

"Don't lose your head, Jason," said Jimmie Dale coolly. "I've got the
letter. Now do as I bid you."

"Yes--Master Jim," faltered the old man.

"Pull down the window shades and draw the portiere together," directed
Jimmie Dale.

Jason, still overwrought and excited, obeyed a little awkwardly.

"Now the lights, Jason," instructed Jimmie Dale. "Turn them off, and go
and sit down in that chair at the desk."

Again Jason obeyed, stumbling in the darkness as he returned from the
electric-light switch at the farther end of the room. He sat down in the

Larry the Bat stepped out from behind the curtain. "I came for that
letter, Jason," he explained quietly. "I am going out again now. I may
be back to-morrow; I may not be back for a week. You will say nothing,
not a word, of my having been here to-night. Do you understand, Jason?"

"Yes, sir," said Jason; then hesitantly: "Would you mind saying, sir,
when you came in?"

"It's of no consequence, Jason--is it?"

"No, sir," said Jason.

Jimmie Dale smiled in the darkness.


"Yes, sir."

"I wish you to remain where you are, without leaving that chair, for the
next ten minutes." He moved across the room to the door. "Good-night,
Jason," he said.

"Good-night, Master Jim--good-night, sir--oh, Lord!"

Jimmie Dale did not require that ten minutes; it was a very wide margin
of safety to obviate the possibility of Jason, from a window, detecting
the exit of a disreputable character from the house--in three minutes
he was turning the corner of the first cross street and walking rapidly
away from Riverside Drive.

In the subway station Jimmie Dale read the letter--read it twice over,
as he always read those strange epistles of hers that opened the door to
new peril, new danger to the Gray Seal, but too, that seemed somehow to
draw tighter, in a glad, big way, the unseen bond between them; read it,
as he always read those letters, almost subconsciously committing the
very words to memory with that keen faculty of brain of his. But now
as he began to tear the sheet and envelope into minute particles, a
strained, hard look was on his face and in his eyes, and his lips, half
parted, moved a little.

"It's a death warrant," muttered Jimmie Dale. "I--I guess to-night will
see the end of the Gray Seal. She says I needn't do it, but I guess it's
worth the risk--a human life!"

A downtown express roared into the station.

"What time is it?" Jimmie Dale asked the guard, as he stepped aboard.

"'Bout midnight," the man answered tersely.

The forward car was almost empty, and Jimmie Dale chose a seat by
himself. How did she know? How did she know not only this, but the
hundred other affairs that she had outlined in those letters of hers? By
what means, superhuman, indeed, it seemed, did she--Jimmie Dale jerked
himself erect suddenly. What good did it do to speculate on that now,
when every minute was priceless? What was HE to do, how was he to act,
what plan could he formulate and carry out, and WIN against odds that,
at the outset, were desperate enough even to forecast almost certain
failure--and death!

Who would ever have suspected old Tom Ludgate, known for years
throughout the squalour of the East Side as old Luddy, the pushcart man,
of having a bag of unset diamonds under his pillow--or under the sack,
rather, that he probably used for a pillow! What a queer thing to do!
But then, old Luddy was a character--apparently always in the most
poverty-stricken condition, apparently hardly more than keeping body
and soul together, trusting no one, and obsessed by the dread that by
depositing in a bank some one would discover that he had money, and
attempt to force it from him, he had put his savings, year after
year, for twenty years, twenty-five years, perhaps, into unset
stone--diamonds. How had she found that out?

Jimmie Dale sank into a deeper reverie. He could steal them all right,
and they would be well worth the stealing--old Luddy had done well, and
lived and existed on next to nothing--the stones, she said, were worth
about fifteen thousand dollars. Not so bad, even for twenty-five years
of vegetable selling from a pushcart! He could steal them all right; it
would tax the Gray Seal's ingenuity little to do so simple a thing as
that, but that was not all, nor, indeed, hardly a factor in it--it was
vital that if he were to succeed at all he must steal them PUBLICLY, as
it were.

And after that--WHAT? His own chances were pretty slim at best. Jimmie
Dale, staring at the grayness of the subway wall through the window,
shook his head slowly--then, with a queer little philosophical shrug of
his shoulders, he smiled gravely, seriously. It was all a part of the
game, all a part of the life--of the Gray Seal!

It was half-past twelve, or a little later, as nearly as he could judge,
for Larry the Bat carried no such ornate thing in evidence as a watch,
as he halted at the corner of a dark, squalid street in the lower
East Side. It was a miserable locality--in daylight humming with a
cosmopolitan hive of pitiful humans dragging out as best they could
an intolerable existence, a locality peopled with every nationality on
earth, their community of interest the struggle to maintain life at the
lowest possible expenditure, where necessity even was pared and
shaved down to a minimum; but now, at night time, or rather in the
early-morning hours, the darkness, in very mercy, it seemed, covered it
with a veil, as it were, and in the quiet that hung over it now hid the
bald, the hideous, aye, and the piteous, too, from view.

It was a narrow street, and the row of tenement houses, each house
almost identical with its neighbour, that flanked the pavement on either
side, seemed, from where Jimmie Dale stood looking down its length, from
the corner, to converge together at a point a little way beyond,
giving it an unreal, ominous, cavernlike effect. And, too, there seemed
something ominous even in its quiet. It was as though one sensed acutely
the crouching of some Thing in its lair--waiting silently, viciously,
with sullen patience.

A footstep sounded--another. Jimmie Dale drew quickly back around the
corner into an areaway. Two men passed--in helmets--swinging their
nightsticks--that beat was always policed in pairs!

They passed on, turned the corner, and went down the narrow cross street
that Jimmie Dale had just been inspecting. He started to follow--and
drew back again abruptly. A form flitted suddenly across the road and
disappeared in the darkness in the officers' wake--ten yards behind
the first another followed--at the same interval of distance still
another--and yet still one more--four in all.

The darkness hid all six, the two policemen, the four men behind
them--the only sounds were the OFFICERS' footsteps dying away in the

Jimmie Dale's fingers were mechanically testing the mechanism of the
automatic in his pocket.

"The Skeeter's gang!" he muttered to himself. "Red Mose, the Midget,
Harve Thoms--and the Skeeter! The Worst apaches in the city of New York;
death contractors--the lowest bidders! Professional assassins, and a
man's life any time for twenty-five dollars! I wonder--I've never
done it yet--but I wonder if it would be a crime in God's sight if one
shot--to KILL!"

Jimmie Dale was at the corner again--again the street before him was
black, deserted, empty. He chose the right hand side, and, well in the
shadow of the houses, as an extra precaution, stole along silently. He
stopped finally before one where, in the doorway, hung a little sign.
Jimmie Dale mounted the porch, and with his eyes close to the sign could
just make out the larger words in the big printed type:



Jimmie Dale nodded. That was right. The first house on the right-hand
side, with the room-to-rent sign, her letter had said. His fingers were
testing the doorknob. The door was not locked.

"Naturally, it wouldn't be locked," Jimmie Dale told himself grimly--and
stepped inside.

He stood for an instant without movement, every faculty on the alert.
Far up above him a step, guarded though his trained ear made it out
to be, creaked faintly upon the stairs--there was no other sound. The
creaking, almost inaudible at its loudest, receded farther up--and
silence fell.

In the darkness, noiselessly, Jimmie Dale groped for the stairway, found
it, and began to ascend. The minutes passed--it seemed a minute even
from step to step, and there were three flights to the top! There must
be no creaking this time--the slightest sound, he knew well enough,
would be not only fatal to the work he had to do, but probably fatal to
himself as well. He had been near death many times--the consciousness
that he was nearer to it now, possibly, than he had ever been before,
seemed to stimulate his senses into acute and abnormal energy. And, too,
the physical effort, as, step by step, the flexed muscles relaxing so
slowly, little by little, gradually, each time as he found foothold
on the step higher up, was a terrific strain. At the top his face was
bathed in perspiration, and he wiped it off with his coat sleeve.

It was still dark here, intensely dark, and his eyes, though grown
accustomed to it, could make out nothing but the deeper shadow of the
walls. But thanks to her, always a mistress of accurate and minute
detail, he possessed a mental plan of his surroundings. The head of the
stairs gave on the middle of the hallway--the hallway ran to his right
and left. To his right, on the opposite side of the hall, was the door
of old Luddy's squalid two-room apartment.

For a moment Jimmie Dale stood hesitant--a sudden perplexity and anxiety
growing upon him. It was strange! What did it mean? He had nerved
himself to a quick, desperate attempt, trusting to surprise and his own
wit and agility for victory--there had seemed no other way than that,
since he had seen those four men at the corner--since they were AHEAD
of him. True, they were not much ahead of him, not enough to have
accomplished their purpose--and, furthermore, they were not in that
room. He knew that absolutely, beyond question of doubt. He had listened
for just that all the nerve-racking way up the stairs. But where
were they? There was no sound--not a sound--just blackness, dark,
impenetrable, utter, that began to palpitate now.

It came in a whisper, wavering, sibilant--from his left. A sort of
relief, fierce in the breaking of the tense expectancy, premonitory in
the possibilities that it held, swept Jimmie Dale. He crept along the
hall. The whisper had come from that room, presumably empty--that was
for rent!

By the door he crouched--his sensitive fingers, eyes to Jimmie Dale so
often--feeling over jamb and panels with a delicate, soundless touch.
The door was just ajar. The fingers crept inside and touched the knob
and lock--there was no key within.

The whispering still went on--but it seemed like a screaming of vultures
now in Jimmie Dale's ears, as the words came to him.

"Aw, say, Skeeter, dis high-brow stunt gives me de pip! Me fer goin' in
dere an' croakin' de geezer reg'lar, widout de frills. Who's to know?
Say, just about two minutes, an' we're beatin' it wid de sparklers."

An inch, a half inch at a time, the knob slowly, very, very slowly
turning, the door was being closed by the crouched form on the

"Close yer trap, Mose!" came a fierce response. "We ain't fixed the
lay all day for nothin'. There ain't a soul on earth knows he's got any
sparklers, 'cept us. If there was, it would be different--then they'd
know that was what whoever did it was after, see?"

The door was closed--the knob slowly, very, very slowly being released
again. From one of the leather pockets under Jimmie Dale's vest came a
tiny steel instrument that he inserted in the key-hole.

The same voice spoke on:

"That's what we're croaking him for, 'cause nobody knows about them
diamonds, and so's he can't TELL anybody afterward that any were
pinched. An' that's why it's got to look like he just got tired of
living and did it himself. I guess that'll hold the police when they
find the poor old duck hanging from the ceiling, with a bit of cord
around his neck, and a chair kicked out from under his feet on the
floor. Ain't you got the brains of a louse to see that?"

"Sure"--the whisper came dully, in grudging intonation through the
panels--the door was locked. "Sure, but it's de hangin' 'round waitin'
to get busy that's gettin' me goat, an'--"

Jimmie Dale straightened up and began to retreat along the corridor.
A merciless rage was upon him now, every fiber of his being seemed to
tingle and quiver with it--the damnable, hellish ingenuity of it all
seemed to choke and suffocate him.

"Luck!" muttered Jimmie Dale between his clenched teeth. "Oh, the
blessed luck to get that door locked! I've got time now to set the stage
for my own get-away before the showdown!"

He stole on along the corridor. Excerpts from her letter were running
through his brain: "It would do no good to warn him, Jimmie--the Skeeter
and his gang would never let up on him until they got the stones. . . .
It would do no good for you to steal them first, for they would only
take that as a ruse of old Luddy's, and murder the man first and hunt
afterward. . . . In some way you must let the Skeeter SEE you steal
them, make them think, make them certain that it is a bona-fide theft,
so that they will no longer have any interest or any desire to do old
Luddy harm. . . . And for it to appear real to them, it must appear real
to old Luddy himself--do not take any chances there."

Jimmie Dale's eyes narrowed. Yes, it was simple enough now with that
pack of hell's wolves guarded for the moment by a locked door, forced to
give him warning by breaking the door before they could get out. It was
simple enough now to enter old Luddy's room, steal the stones at the
revolver point, then make enough disturbance--when he was ready--to set
the gang in motion, and, as they rushed in open him, to make his escape
with the stones to the roof through Luddy's room. That was simple
enough--there was an opening to the roof in Luddy's room, she had said,
and there was a ladder kept there in place. On hot nights, it seemed,
the old man used to go up there and sleep on the roof--not now, of
course. It was too late in the year for that--but the opening in the
roof was there, and the ladder remained there, too.

Yes, it was simple enough now. And the next morning the papers would
rave with execrations against the Gray Seal--for the robbery of the
life savings of a poor, defenseless old man, for committing as vile and
pitiful a crime as had ever stirred New York! Even Carruthers, of
the MORNING NEWS-ARGUS, would be moved to bitter attack. Good old
Carruthers--who little thought that the Gray Seal was his old college
pal, his present most intimate friend, Jimmie Dale! And afterward--after
the next morning? Well, that, at least, had never been in doubt. Old
Luddy could be made to leave New York, and, once away, with the Skeeter
and his gang robbed of incentive to pay any further attention to him,
the stones could be secretly returned to the old man. And it would
to the public, to the police, be just another of the Gray Seal's
crimes--that was all!

Jimmie Dale had reached old Luddy's door. The Gray Seal? Oh, yes, they
would know it was the Gray Seal--the insignia was familiar enough;
familiar to the crooks of the underworld, who held it in awe; familiar
to the police, to whom it was an added barb of ridicule. He was placing
it now, that insignia, a diamond-shaped, gray paper seal, on the panel
of the door; and now, a black silk mask adjusted over his face, Jimmie
Dale bent to insert the little steel instrument in the lock--a pitiful,
paltry thing, a cheap lock, to fingers that could play so intimately
with twirling knobs and dials, masters of the intricate mechanism of
vaults and safes!

And then, about to open the door, a sort of sudden dismay fell upon him.
He had not thought of that--somehow, it had not occurred to him! WHAT
WAS IT THEY WERE WAITING FOR? Why had they not struck at once, as, when
he had first entered the house, he had supposed they would do? What was
it? Why was it? Was old Luddy out? Were they waiting for his return--or

The door, without sound, moved gradually under his hand. A faint odor
assailed his nostrils! It was dark, very dark. Across the room, in a
direct line, was the doorway of the inner room--she had explained that
in her letter. It was slow progress to cross that room without sound,
in silence--it was a snail's movement--for fear that even a muscle might

And now he stood in the inner doorway. It was dark here, to--and yet,
how bizarre, a star seemed to twinkle through the very roof of the room
itself! The odour was pungent now. There was a long-drawn sigh--then a
low, indescribable sound of movement. SOMEBODY, APART FROM OLD LUDDY,

It swept, the full consciousness of it, upon Jimmie Dale in an
instantaneous flash. Chloroform; the open scuttle in the roof; the
waiting of those others--all fused into a compact logical whole. They
had loosened the scuttle during the day, probably when old Luddy was
away--one of them had crept down there now to chloroform the old man
into insensibility--the others would complete the ghastly work presently
by stringing their victim up to the ceiling--and it would be suicide,
for, long before morning came, long before the old man would be
discovered, the fumes of the chloroform would be gone.

It seemed like a cold hand, deathlike, clutching at his heart. Was he
too late, after all! Chloroform alone could--kill! To the right, just a
little to the right--he must make no mistake--his ear placed the sound!
He whipped his hands from the side pockets of his coat--the ray of his
flashlight cut across the room and fell upon an aged face upon a bed,
upon a hand clutching a wad of cloth, the cloth pressed horribly against
the nose and mouth of the upturned face--and then, roaring in the
stillness, spitting a vicious lane of fire that paralleled the
flashlight's ray, came the tongue flame of his automatic.

There was a yell, a scream, that echoed out, reverberated, and went
racketing through the house, and Jimmie Dale leaped forward--over a
table, sending it crashing to the floor. The man had reeled back against
the wall, clutching at a shattered wrist, staring into the flashlight's
eye, white-faced, jaw dropped, lips working in mingled pain and fear.

"Harve Thoms--you, eh?" gritted Jimmie Dale.

A cunning look swept the distorted face. Here, apparently, was only one
man--there were pals, three of them, only a few yards away.

"You ain't got nothing on me!" he snarled, sparring for time. "You
police are too damned fresh with your guns!"

"I'll take yours!" snapped Jimmie Dale, and snatched it deftly from the
other's pocket. "This ain't any police job, my bucko, and you make
a move and I'll drop you for keeps, if what you've got already ain't
enough to teach you to keep your hands off jobs that belong to your

He was working with mad haste as he spoke. One minute at the outside
was, perhaps, all he could count upon. Already he had caught the rattle
of the locked door down the hall. He lit a match and turned on the gas
over the bed--it was the most dangerous thing he could do--he knew that
well enough, none knew it better--it was offering himself as a fair
mark when the others rushed in, as they would in a moment now--but the
Skeeter and his gang and this man here must have no misconception of his
purpose, his reason for being there, the same as their own, the theft of
the stones--and no misconception as to his SUCCESS.

"Y'ain't the police!"--it came in a choked gasp from the other, as he
blinked in the sudden light "Say then--"

"Shut up!" ordered Jimmie Dale curtly. "And mind what I told you about
moving!" He leaned over the bed. Old Luddy, though under the influence
of the chloroform, was moving restlessly. Thoms had evidently only begun
to apply the chloroform--old Luddy was safe! Jimmie Dale ran his hand
in under the pillow. "If you ain't swiped them already they ought to be
here!" he growled; "and if you have I'll--ah!" A little chamois bag was
in his hand. He laughed sneeringly at Thoms, opened the bag, allowed
a few stones to trickle into his hand--and then, without stopping to
replace them, dashed stones and bag into his pocket. The door along the
corridor crashed open.

"What's that?" he gasped out, in well-simulated fright--and sprang for
the ladder that led up to the roof.

It had all taken, perhaps, the minute that he had counted on--no more.
Noises came from the floors below now, a confusion of them--the shot,
the scream had been heard by others, save those who had been in the
locked room. And the latter were outside now in the corridor, running to
their accomplice's aid.

There was a pause at the outer door--then an oath--and coupled with the
oath an exclamation:

"The Gray Seal!"

They had swept a flashlight over the door panel--Jimmie Dale, halfway up
the ladder, smiled grimly.

The door opened--there was a rush of feet. The man with the shattered
wrist yelled, cursing wildly:

"Here he is--on the ladder! Let him have it! Fill him full of holes!"

Jimmie Dale was in the light--they were in the dark of the outer room.
He fired at the threshold, checking their rush--as a hail of bullets
chipped and tore at the ladder and spat wickedly against the wall. He
swung through to the roof, trying, as he did so, to kick the ladder
loose behind him. It was fastened!

The three gunmen jumped into the room--from the roof Jimmie Dale got a
glimpse of them below, as he flung himself clear of the opening. Bullets
whistled through the aperture--a voice roared up as he gained his feet:

"Come on! After him! The whole place is alive, but this lets us out.
We can frame up how we came to be here easy enough. Never mind the old
geezer there any more! Get the Gray Seal--the reward that's out for him
is worth twice the sparklers, and--"

Jimmie Dale hurled the cover over the scuttle. He could have stood them
off from above and kept the ladder clear with his revolver, but the
alarm seemed general now--windows were opening, voices were calling to
one another--from the windows across the street he must stand out in
sharp outline against the sky. Yes--he was seen now.

A woman's voice, from a top-story window across the street, screamed
out, high-pitched in excitement:

"There he is! There he is! On the roof there!"

Jimmie Dale started on the run along the roof. The houses, built wall to
wall, flat-roofed, seemed to offer an open course ahead of him--until
a lane or an intersecting street should bar his way! But they were not
quite all on the same level, though--the wall of the next house rose
suddenly breast high in front of him. He flung himself up, regained his
feet--and ducked instantly behind a chimney.

The crack of a revolver echoed through the night--a bullet drummed
through the air--the Skeeter and his gang were on the roof now, dashing
forward, firing as they ran. Two shots from Jimmie Dale's automatic, in
quick succession cooled the ardour of their rush--and they broke, black,
flitting forms, for the shelter of chimneys, too.

And now the whole neighbourhood seemed awakened. A dull-toned roar,
as from some great gulf below, rolled up from the street, a medley of
slamming windows, the rush of feet as people poured from the houses,
cries, shouts, and yells--and high over all the shrill call of the
police-patrol whistle--and the CRACK, CRACK, CRACK of the Skeeter's
revolver shots--the Skeeter and his hellhounds for once self-appointed
allies of the law!

Twice again Jimmie Dale fired--then crouching, running low, he zigzagged
his way across the next roof. The bullets followed him--once more his
pursuers dashed forward. And again Jimmie Dale, his face set like stone
now, his breath coming in hard gasps, dodged behind a chimney, and with
his gun checked their rush for the third time.

He glanced about him--and with a growing sense of disaster saw that two
houses farther on the stretch of roof appeared to end. There would be
a lane or a street there! And in another minute or two, if it were not
already the case, others would be following the gunmen to the roof,
and then he would be--he caught his breath suddenly in a queer little
strangled cry of relief. Just back of him, a few yards away, his eyes
made out what, in the darkness, seemed to be a glass skylight.

A dark form sped like a deeper shadow across the black in front of
him, making for a chimney nearer by, closing in the range. Jimmie Dale
fired--wide. Tight as was the corner he was in, little as was the
mercy deserved at his hands, he could not, after all, bring himself to
shoot--to kill.

A voice, the Skeeter's, bawled out raucously:

"Rush him all together--from different sides at once!"

A backward leap! Jimmie Dale's boot was crashing glass and frame,
stamping at it desperately, making a hole for his body through the
skylight. A yell, a chorus of them, answered this--then the crunch of
racing feet on the gravel roof. He emptied his revolver, sweeping the
darkness with a semicircle of vicious flashes.

It seemed an hour--it was barely the fraction of a second, as he hung
by his hands from the side of the skylight frame, his body swinging
back and forth in the unknown blackness below. The skylight might
be, probably was, directly over the stair well, and open clear to the
basement of the house--but it was his only chance. He swung his body
well out, let go--and dropped. With the impetus he smashed against a
wall, was flung back from it in a sort of rebound, and his hands closed,
gripping fiercely, on banisters. It had been the stair well beyond any
question of doubt, but his swing had sent him clear of it.

Above, they had not yet reached the skylight. Jimmie Dale snatched a
precious moment to listen, as he rose, and found himself, apart from
bruises, perhaps unhurt. There was commotion, too, in this house below,
the alarm had extended and spread along the block--but the commotion was
all in the FRONT of the house--the street was the lure.

Jimmie Dale started down the stairs, and in an instant he had gained the
landing. In another he had slipped to the rear of the hall--somewhere
there, from the hall itself, from one of the rear rooms, there must be
an exit to the fire escape. To attempt to leave by the front way was
certain capture.

They were yelling, shouting down now through the sky-light above, as
Jimmie Dale softly raised the window sash at the rear of the hall. The
fire escape was there. Shouts from along the corridor, from the tenement
dwellers who had been crowding their neighbours' rooms, craning their
necks probably from the front windows, answered the shouts now from the
roof and the skylight; doors opened; forms rushed out--but it was dark
in the corridor, only a murky yellow at the upper end from the opened

Jimmie Dale slipped through the window to the fire escape, and, working
cautiously, silently, but with the speed of a trained athlete, made his
way down. At the bottom he dropped from the iron platform into the back
yard, ran for the fence and climbed over into a lane on the other side.

And then, as he ran, Jimmie Dale snatched the mask from his face and
put it in his pocket. He was safe now. He swept the sweat drops from his
forehead with the back of his hand--noticing them for the first time.
It had been close--almost as close for him as it had been for old Luddy.
And to-morrow the papers would execrate the Gray Seal! He smiled a
little wanly. His breath was still coming hard. Presently they would
scour the lane--when they found that their quarry was not in the house.
What a racket they were making! The whole district seemed roused like a
swarm of angry bees.

He kept on along the lane--and dodged suddenly into a cross street where
the two intersected. The clang of a bell dinned discordantly in
his ears--a patrol wagon swept by him, racing for the scene of the
disturbance--the riot call was out!

Again Jimmie Dale smiled wearily, passing his hand across his eyes.

"I guess," said Jimmie Dale, "I'm pretty near all in. And I guess it's
time that Larry the Bat went--home."

And a little later a figure turned from the Bowery and shambled down
the cross street, a disreputable figure, with hands plunged deep in his
pockets--and a shadow across the roadway suddenly shifted its position
as the shambling figure slouched into the black alleyway and entered the
tenement's side door.

And Larry the Bat smiled softly to himself--Kline's men were still on



A white-gloved arm, a voice, and a silvery laugh! Just that--no more!
Jimmie Dale, in his favourite seat, an aisle seat some seven or eight
rows back from the orchestra, stared at the stage, to all outward
appearances absorbed in the last act of the play; inwardly, quite
oblivious to the fact that even a play was going on.

A white-gloved arm, a voice, and a silvery laugh! The words had formed
themselves into a sort of singsong refrain that, for the last few days,
had been running through his head. A strange enough guiding star to
mould and dictate every action in his life! And that was all he had ever
seen of her, all that he had ever heard of her--except those letters,
of course, each of which had outlined the details of some affair for the
Gray Seal to execute.

Indeed, it seemed a great length of time now since he had heard from her
even in that way, though it was not so many days ago, after all. Perhaps
it was the calm, as it were, that, by contrast, had given place to the
strenuous months and weeks just past. The storm raised by the newspapers
at the theft of Old Luddy's diamonds had subsided into sporadic
diatribes aimed at the police; Kline, of the secret service, had finally
admitted defeat, and a shadow no longer skulked day and night at
the entrance to the Sanctuary--and Larry the Bat bore the government
indorsement, so to speak, of being no more suspicious a character than
that of a disreputable, but harmless, dope fiend of the underworld.

Larry the Bat! The Gray Seal! Jimmie Dale the millionaire! What if it
were ever known that that strange three were one! What if--Jimmie Dale
smiled whimsically. A burst of applause echoed through the house, the
orchestra was playing, the lights were on, seats banged, there was the
bustle of the rising audience, the play was at an end--and for the life
of him he could not have remembered a single line of the last act!

The aisle at his elbow was already crowded with people on their way out.
Jimmie Dale stooped down mechanically to reach for his hat beneath his
seat--and the next instant he was standing up, staring wildly into the
faces around him.

It had fallen at his feet--a white envelope. Hers! It was in his hand
now, those slim, tapering, wonderfully sensitive fingers of Jimmie
Dale, that were an "open sesame" to locks and safes, subconsciously
telegraphing to his mind the fact that the texture of the paper--was
hers. Hers! And she must be one of those around him--one of those
crowding either the row of seats in front or behind, or one of those
just passing in the aisle. It had fallen at his feet as he had stooped
over for his hat--but from just exactly what direction he could not
tell. His eyes, eagerly, hungrily, critically, swept face after face.
Which one was hers? What irony! She, whom he would have given his
life to know, for whom indeed he risked his life every hour of the
twenty-four, was close to him now, within reach--and as far removed as
though a thousand miles separated them. She was there--but he could not
recognise a face that he had never seen!

With an effort, he choked back the bitter, impotent laugh that rose to
his lips. They were talking, laughing around him. Her VOICE--yes, he
had once heard that, and that he would recognise again. He strained to
catch, to individualise the tone sounds that floated in a medley about
him. It was useless--of course--every effort that he had ever made
to find her had been useless. She was too clever, far too clever for
that--she, too, would know that he could and would recognise her voice
where he could recognise nothing else.

And then, suddenly, he realised that he was attracting attention. Level
stares from the women returned his gaze, and they edged away a little
from his vicinity as they passed, their escorts crowding somewhat
belligerently into their places. Others, in the same row of seats as his
own, were impatiently waiting to get by him. With a muttered apology,
Jimmie Dale raised the seat of his chair, allowing these latter to pass
him--and then, slipping the letter into his pocketbook, he snatched up
his hat from the seat rack.

There was still a chance. Knowing he was there, she would be on her
guard; but in the lobby, among the crowd and unaware of his presence,
there was the possibility that, if he could reach the entrance ahead of
her, she, too, might be talking and laughing as she left the theatre.
Just a single word, just a tone--that was all he asked.

The row of seats at whose end he stood was empty now, and, instead of
stepping into the thronged aisle, he made his way across to the opposite
side of the theatre. Here, the far aisle was less crowded, and in a
minute he had gained the foyer, confident that he was now in advance of
her. The next moment he was lost in a jam of people in the lobby.

He moved slowly now, very slowly--allowing those behind to press by
him on the way to the entrance. A babel of voices rose about him,
as, tight-packed, the mass of people jostled, elbowed, and pushed
good-naturedly. It was a voice now, her voice, that he was listening
for; but, though it seemed that every faculty was strained and intent
upon that one effort, his eyes, too, had in no degree relaxed their
vigilance--and once, half grimly, half sardonically, he smiled to
himself. There would be an unexpected aftermath to this exodus
of expensively gowned and bejewelled women with their prosperous,
well-groomed escorts! There was the Wowzer over there--sleek, dapper,
squirming in and out of the throng with the agility and stealth of a
cat. As Larry the Bat he had met the Wowzer many times, as indeed he
had met and was acquainted with most of the elite of the underworld.
The Wowzer, beyond a shadow of doubt, in his own profession stood upon
a plane entirely by himself--among those qualified to speak, no one yet
had ever questioned the Wowzer's claim to the distinction of being the
most dexterous and finished "poke getter" in the United States!

The crowd thinned in the lobby, thinned down to the last few belated
stragglers, who passed him as he still loitered in the entrance; and
then Jimmie Dale, with a shrug of his shoulders that was a great
deal more philosophical than the maddening sense of chagrin and
disappointment that burned within him, stepped out to the pavement and
headed down Broadway. After all, he had known it in his heart of hearts
all the time--it had always been the same--it was only one more occasion
added to the innumerable ones that had gone before in which she had
eluded him!

And now--there was the letter! Automatically he quickened his steps a
little. It was useless, futile, profitless, for the moment, at least, to
disturb himself over his failure--there was the letter! His lips parted
in a strange, half-serious, half-speculative smile. The letter--that
was paramount now. What new venture did the night hold in store for
him? What sudden emergency was the Gray Seal called upon to face this
time--what role, unrehearsed, without warning, must he play? What story
of grim, desperate rascality would the papers credit him with
when daylight came? Or would they carry in screaming headlines the
announcement that the Gray Seal was caged and caught at last, and in
three-inch type tell the world that the Gray Seal was--Jimmie Dale!

A block down, he turned from Broadway out of the theatre crowds that
streamed in both directions past him. The letter! Almost feverishly
now he was seeking an opportunity to open and read it unobserved; an
eagerness upon him that mingled exhilaration at the lure of danger
with a sense of premonition that, irritably, inevitably was with him
at moments such as these. It seemed, it always seemed, that, with an
unopened letter of hers in his possession, it was as though he were
about to open a page in the Book of Fate and read, as it were, a
pronouncement upon himself that might mean life or death.

He hurried on. People still passed by him--too many. And then a cafe,
just ahead, making a corner, gave him the opportunity that he sought.
Away from the entrance, on the side street, the brilliant lights from
the windows shone out on a comparatively deserted pavement. There was
ample light to read by, even as far away from the window as the curb,
and Jimmie Dale, with an approving nod, turned the corner and walked
along a few steps until opposite the farthest window--but, as he halted
here at the edge of the street, he glanced quickly behind him at a man
whom he had just passed. The other had paused at the corner and was
staring down the street. Jimmie Dale instantly and nonchalantly produced
his cigarette case, selected a cigarette, and fastidiously tapped its
end on his thumb nail.

"Inspector Burton in plain clothes," he observed musingly to himself. "I
wonder if it's just a fluke--or something else? We'll see."

Jimmie Dale took a box of matches from his pocket. The first would not
light. The second broke, and, with an exclamation of annoyance, he flung
it away. The third was making a fitful effort at life, as another man
emerged hastily from the cafe's side door, hurried to the corner, joined
the man who was still loitering there, and both together disappeared at
a rapid pace down the street.

Jimmie Dale whistled softly to himself. The second man was even better
known than the first; there was not a crook in New York but would
side-step Lannigan of headquarters, and do it with amazing celerity--if
he could!

"Something up! But it's not my hunt!" muttered Jimmie Dale; then, with
a shrug of his shoulders: "Queer the way those headquarters chaps
fascinate and give me a thrill every time I see them, even if I haven't
a ghost of a reason for imagining that--"

The sentence was never finished. Jimmie Dale's face was gray. The street
seemed to rock about him--and he stared, like a man stricken, white to
the lips, ahead of him. THE LETTER WAS GONE! His hand, wriggling from
his empty pocket, swept away the sweat beads that were bursting from his
forehead. It had come at last--the pitcher had gone once too often to
the well!

Numbed for an instant, his brain cleared now, working with lightning
speed, leaping from premise to conclusion. The crush in the theatre
lobby--the pushing, the jostling, the close contact--the Wowzer, the
slickest, cleverest pickpocket in the United States! For a moment he
could have laughed aloud in a sort of ghastly, defiant mockery--he
himself had predicted an unexpected aftermath, had he not!

Aftermath! It was--the END! An hour, two hours, and New York would be
metamorphosed into a seething caldron of humanity bubbling with the
news. It seemed that he could hear the screams of the newsboys now
shouting their extras; it seemed that he could see the people, roused to
frenzy, swarming in excited crowds, snatching at the papers; he seemed
to hear the mob's shouts swell in execration, in exultation--it seemed
as though all around him had gone mad. The mystery of the Gray Seal was
solved! It was Jimmie Dale, Jimmie Dale, Jimmie, Dale, the millionaire,
the lion of society--and there was ignominy for an honoured name, and
shame and disaster and convict stripes and sullen penitentiary walls--or
death! A felon's death--the chair!

He was running now, his hands clenched at his sides; his mind, working
subconsciously, urging him onward in a blind, as yet unrealised,
objectless way. And then gradually impulse gave way to calmer reason,
and he slowed his pace to a quick, less noticeable walk. The Wowzer!
That was it! There was yet a chance--the Wowzer! A merciless rage,
cold, deadly, settled upon him. It was the Wowzer who had stolen his
pocketbook, and with it the letter. There could be no doubt of that.
Well, there would be a reckoning at least before the end!

He was in a downtown subway train now--the roar in his ears in
consonance, it seemed, with the turmoil in his brain. But now, too, he
was Jimmie Dale again; and, apart from the slightly outthrust jaw, the
tight-closed lips, impassive, debonair, composed.

There was yet a chance. As Larry the Bat he knew every den and lair
below the dead line, and he knew, too, the Wowzer's favourite haunts.
There was yet a chance, only one in a thousand, it was true, almost too
pitiful to be depended upon--but yet a chance. The Wowzer had probably
not worked alone, and he and his pal, or pals, would certainly not
remain uptown either to examine or divide their spoils--they would wait
until they were safe somewhere in one of their hell holes on the East
Side. If he could find the Wowzer, reach the man BEFORE THE LETTER WAS
OPENED--Jimmie Dale's lips grew tighter. THAT was the chance! It he
failed in that--Jimmie Dale's lips drooped downward in grim curves at
the corners. A chance! Already the Wowzer had at least a half hour's
lead, and, worse still, there was no telling which one of a dozen places
the man might have chosen to retreat to with his loot.

Time passed. His mind obsessed, Jimmie Dale's physical acts were
almost wholly mechanical. It was perhaps fifteen minutes since he had
discovered the loss of the letter, and he was walking now through the
heart of the Bowery. Exactly how he had got there he could not have
told; he had only a vague realisation that, following an intuitive
sense of direction, he had lost not a second of time in making his way

And now he found himself hesitating at the corner of a cross street. Two
blocks east was that dark, narrow alleyway, that side door that made the
entrance to the Sanctuary. It would be safer, a hundred times safer, to
go there, change his clothes and his personality, and emerge again as
Larry the Bat--infinitely safer in that role to explore the dens of the
underworld, many of them indeed unknown and undreamed of by the police
themselves, than to trust himself there in well-cut, fashionable
tweeds--but that would take time. Time! When, with every second, the
one chance he had, desperate as that already was, was slipping away from
him. No; what was apparently the greater risk at least held out the only

He went on again--his brain incessantly at work. At the worst, there
was one mitigating factor in it all. He had no need to think of her.
Whatever the ruin and disaster that faced him in the next few hours, she
in any case was safe. There was no clew to HER identity in the letter;
and where he, for months on end, with even more to work upon, had failed
at every turn to trace her, there was little fear that any one else
would have any better success. She was safe. As for himself--that was
different. The Gray Seal would be referred to in the letter, there would
be the outline, the data for the "crime" she had planned for that night;
and the letter, though unaddressed, being found in his pocketbook,
where cards and notes and a dozen different things among its contents
proclaimed him Jimmie Dale, needed no further evidence as to its
ownership nor the identity of the Gray Seal.

Jimmie Dale's fingers crept inside his vest and fumbled there for a
moment--and a diamond stud, extracted from his shirt front, glistened
sportively in the necktie that was now tucked jauntily in at one side of
his shirt bosom. He had reached the Blue Dragon, one of Wowzer's usual
hang outs, and, swerving from the sidewalk, entered the place. There was
wild tumult within--a constant storm of applause, derision, and hilarity
that was hurled from the tables around the room at the turkey-trotting,
tango-writhing couples on the somewhat restricted space of polished
hardwood flooring in the centre. Jimmie Dale swaggered down the room,
a cigar tilted up at an angle between his teeth, his soft felt hat a
little rakishly on one side of his head and well over his nose.

At the end of the room, at the bar, Jimmie Dale leaned toward the
barkeeper and talked out of the corner of his mouth. There were private
rooms upstairs, and he jerked his head surreptitiously ceilingward.

"Say, is de Wowzer up dere?" he inquired in a cautious whisper.

The man behind the bar, well known to Jimmie Dale as one of the Wowzer's
particular pals, favoured him with a blank stare.

"Never heard of de guy!" he announced brusquely. "Wot's yours?"

"Gimme a mug of suds," said Jimmie Dale, reaching for a match. He puffed
at his cigar, blew out the match, and, after a moment, flung the charred
end away--but on his hand, as, palm outward, he raised it to take his
glass, the match had traced a small black cross.

The barkeeper put down the beer he had just drawn, wiped his hand
hurriedly, and with sudden enthusiasm thrust it across the bar.

"Glad to know youse, cull!" he exclaimed. "Wot's de lay?"

Jimmie Dale smiled.

"Nix!" said Jimmie Dale. "I just blew in from Chicago. Used to know de
Wowzer dere. He said dis place was on de level, an' I could always find
him here, dat's all."

"Sure, youse can!" returned the barkeeper heartily. "Only he ain't here
now. He beat it about fifteen minutes ago, him an' Dago Jim. I guess
youse'll find him at Chang's, I heard him an' Dago say dey was goin'
dere. Know de place?"

Jimmie Dale shook his head.

"I ain't much wise to New York," he explained.

"Aw, dat's easy," whispered the barkeeper. "Go down to Chatham Square,
an' den any guy'll show youse Chang Foo's." He winked confidentially. "I
guess youse won't bump yer head none gettin' around inside."

Jimmie Dale nodded, grinned back, emptied his glass, and dug for a coin.

"Forget it!" observed the barkeeper cordially. "Dis is on me. Any friend
of de Wowzer's gets de glad hand here any time."

"T'anks!" said Jimmie Dale gratefully, as he turned away. "So long,
then--see youse later."

Chang Foo's! Jimmie Dale's face set even a little harder than it
had before, as he swung on again down the Bowery. Yes; he knew Chang
Foo's--too well. Underground Chinatown--where a man's life was worth the
price of an opium pill--or less! Mechanically his hand slipped into his
pocket and closed over the automatic that nestled there. Once in--where
he had to go--and the chances were even, just even, that was all, that
he would ever get out. Again he was tempted to return to the Sanctuary
and make the attempt as Larry the Bat. Larry the Bat was well enough
known to enter Chang Foo's unquestioned, and--but again he shook his
head and went on. There was not time. The Wowzer and his pal--it was
Dago Jim it seemed--had evidently been drinking and loitering their way
downtown from the theatre, and he had gained that much on them; but
by now they would be smugly tucked away somewhere in that maze of dens
below the ground, and at that moment probably were gloating over the
biggest night's haul they had ever made in their lives!

And if they were! What then? Once they knew the contents of that
letter--what then? Buy them off for a larger amount than the many
thousands offered for the capture of the Gray Seal? Jimmie Dale gritted
his teeth. That meant blackmail from them all his life, an intolerable
existence, impossible, a hell on earth--the slave, at the beck and call
of two of the worst criminals in New York! The moisture oozed again to
Jimmie Dale's forehead. God, if he could get that letter before it was
opened--before they KNEW! If he could only get the chance to fight for
it--against ANY odds! Life! Life was a pitiful consideration against the
alternative that faced him now!

From the Blue Dragon to Chang Foo's was not far; and Jimmie Dale covered
the distance in well under five minutes. Chang Foo's was just a tea
merchant's shop, innocuous and innocent enough in its appearance,
blandly so indeed, and that was all--outwardly; but Jimmie Dale, as he
reached his destination, experienced the first sensation of uplift he
had known that night, and this from what, apparently, did not in the
least seem like a contributing cause.

"Luck! The blessed luck of it!" he muttered grimly, as he surveyed
the sight-seeing car drawn up at the curb, and watched the passengers
crowding out of it to the ground. "It wouldn't have been as easy to fool
old Chang as it was that fellow back at the Dragon--and, besides, if I
can work it, there's a better chance this way of getting out alive."

The guide was marshalling his "gapers"--some two dozen in all, men and
women. Jimmie Dale unostentatiously fell in at the rear; and, the guide
leading, the little crowd passed into the tea merchant's shop. Chang
Foo, a wizened, wrinkled-faced little Celestial, oily, suave, greeted
them with profuse bows, chattering the while volubly in Chinese.

The guide made the introduction with an all-embracing sweep of his hand.

"Chang Foo--ladies and gentlemen," he announced; then held up his hand
for silence. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said impressively, "this is one
of the most notorious, if not THE most notorious dive in Chinatown, and
it is only through special arrangement with the authorities and at great
expense that the company is able exclusively to gain an entree here for
its patrons. You will see here the real life of the Chinese, and in half
an hour you will get what few would get in a lifetime spent in China
itself. You will see the Chinese children dance and perform; the Chinese
women at their household tasks; the joss, the shrine of his hallowed
ancestors, at which Chang Foo here worships; and you will enter the most
famous opium den in the United States. Now, if you will all keep close
together, we will make a start."

In spite of his desperate situation, Jimmie Dale smiled a little
whimsically. Yes; they would see it all--UPSTAIRS! The same old bunk
dished out night after night at so much a head--and the nervous little
schoolma'am of uncertain age, who fidgeted now beside him, would go
back somewhere down in Maine and shiver while she related her "wider
experiences" in tremulous whispers into the shocked ears of envious
other maiden ladies of equally uncertain age. The same old bunk--and a
profitable one for Chang Foo for more reasons than one. It was dust in
the eyes of the police. The police smiled knowingly at mention of Chang
Foo. Who should know, if they didn't, that it was all harmless fake, all
bunk! And so it was--UPSTAIRS!

They were passing out of the shop now, bowed out through a side door by
the obsequious and oily Chang Foo. And now they massed again in a sort
of little hallway--and Chang Foo, closing the door upon Jimmie Dale, who
was the last in the line, shuffled back behind the counter in his shop
to resume his guard duty over customers of quite another ilk. With the
door closed, it was dark, pitch dark. And this, too, like everything
else connected with Chang Foo's establishment, for more reasons than
one--for effect--and for security. Nervous little twitters began to
emanate from the women--the guide's voice rose reassuringly:

"Keep close together, ladies and gentlemen. We are going upstairs now

Jimmie Dale hugged back against the wall, sidled along it, and like a
shadow slipped down to the end of the hall. The scuffling of two dozen
pairs of feet mounting the creaky staircase drowned the slight sound as
he cautiously opened a door; the darkness lay black, impenetrable, along
the hall. And then, as cautiously as he had opened it, he closed the
door behind him, and stood for an instant listening at the head of a
ladder-like stairway, his automatic in his hand now. It was familiar
ground to Larry the Bat. The steps led down to a cellar; and diagonally
across from the foot of the steps was an opening, ingeniously hidden by
a heterogeneous collection of odds and ends, boxes, cases, and rubbish
from the pseudo tea shop above; a low opening in the wall to a passage
that led on through the cellars of perhaps half a dozen adjoining
houses, each of which latter was leased, in one name or another--by
Chang Foo.

Jimmie Dale crept down the steps, and in another moment had gained the
farther side of the cellar; then, skirting around the ruck of cases, he
stooped suddenly and passed in through the opening in the wall. And
now he halted once more. He was straining his eyes down a long, narrow
passage, whose blackness was accentuated rather than relieved by curious
wavering, gossamer threads of yellow light that showed here and there
from under makeshift thresholds, from doors slightly ajar. Faint noises
came to him, a muffled, intermittent clink of coin, a low, continuous,
droning hum of voices; the sickly sweet smell of opium pricked at his

Jimmie Dale's face set rigidly. It was the resort, not only of the most
depraved Chinese element, but of the worst "white" thugs that made New
York their headquarters--here, in the succession of cellars, roughly
partitioned off to make a dozen rooms on either side of the passage,
dope fiends sucked at the drug, and Chinese gamblers spent the greater
part of their lives; here, murder was hatched and played too often to
its hellish end; here, the scum of the underworld sought refuge from the
police to the profit of Chang Foo; and here, somewhere, in one of these
rooms, was--the Wowzer.

The Wowzer! Jimmie Dale stole forward silently, without a sound,
swiftly--pausing only to listen for a second's space at the doors as he
passed. From this one came that clink of coin; from another that jabber
of Chinese; from still another that overpowering stench of opium--and
once, iron-nerved as he was, a cold thrill passed over him. Let this
lair of hell's wolves, so intent now on their own affairs, be once
roused, as they certainly must be roused before he could hope to finish
the Wowzer, and his chances of escape were--

He straightened suddenly, alert, tense, strained. Voices, raised in a
furious quarrel, came from a door just beyond him on the other side
of the passage, where a film of light streamed out through a cracked
panel--it was the Wowzer and Dago Jim! And drunk, both of them--and both
in a blind fury!

It happened quick then, almost instantaneously it seemed to Jimmie Dale.
He was crouched now close against the door, his eye to the crack in the
panel. There was only one figure in sight--Dago Jim--standing beside
a table on which burned a lamp, the table top littered with watches,
purses, and small chatelaine bags. The man was lurching unsteadily on
his feet, a vicious sneer of triumph on his face, waving tauntingly
an open letter and Jimmie Dale's pocket-book in his hands--waving them
presumably in the face of the Wowzer, whom, from the restrictions of the
crack, Jimmie Dale could not see. He was conscious of a sickening sense
of disaster. His hope against hope had been in vain--the letter had been

Dago Jim's voice roared out, hoarse, blasphemous, in drunken rage:

"De Gray Seal--see! Youse betcher life I knows! I been waitin' fer
somet'ing like dis, damn youse! Youse been stallin' on me fer a year
every time it came to a divvy. Youse've got a pocketful now youse
snitched to-night dat youse are tryin' to do me out of. Well, keep
'em"--he shoved his face forward. "I keeps dis--see! Keep 'em Wowzer,
youse cross-eyed--"

"Everyt'ing I pinched to-night's on de table dere wid wot youse pinched
yerself," cut in the Wowzer, in a sullen, threatening growl.

"Youse lie, an' youse knows it!" retorted Dago Jim. "Youse have given me
de short end every time we've pulled a deal!"

"Dat letter's mine, youse--" bawled the Wowzer furiously.

"Why didn't youse open it an' read it, den, instead of lettin' me do it
to keep me busy while youse short-changed me?" sneered Dago Jim. "Youse
t'ought it was some sweet billy-doo, eh? Well, t'anks, Wowzer--dat's wot
it is! Say," he mocked, "dere's a guy'll cash a t'ousand century notes
fer dis, an' if he don't--say, dere's SOME reward out fer the Gray
Seal! Wouldn't youse like to know who it is? Well, when I'm ridin' in
me private buzz wagon, Wowzer, youse stick around an' mabbe I'll tell
youse--an' mabbe I won't!"

"By God"--the Wowzer's voice rose in a scream--"youse hand over dat

"Youse go to--"

Red, lurid red, a stream of flame seemed to cut across Jimmie Dale's
line of vision, came the roar of a revolver shot--and like a madman
Jimmie Dale flung his body at the door. Rickety at best, it crashed
inward, half wrenched from its hinges, precipitating him inside. He
recovered himself and leaped forward. The room was swirling with blue
eddies of smoke; Dago Jim, hands flung up, still grasping letter and
pocketbook, pawed at the air--and plunged with a sagging lurch face
downward to the floor. There was a yell and an oath from the Wowzer--the
crack of another revolver shot, the hum of the bullet past Jimmie Dale's
ear, the scorch of the tongue flame in his face, and he was upon the

Screeching profanity, the Wowzer grappled; and, for an instant, the two
men rocked, reeled, and swayed in each other's embrace; then, both
men losing their balance, they shot suddenly backward, the Wowzer,
undermost, striking his head against the table's edge--and men, table,
and lamp crashed downward in a heap to the floor.

It had been no more, at most, than a matter of seconds since Jimmie Dale
had hurled himself into the room; and now, with a gurgling sigh,
the Wowzer's arms, that had been wound around Jimmie Dale's back and
shoulders, relaxed, and, from the blow on his head the man, lay
back inert and stunned. And then it seemed to Jimmie Dale as though
pandemonium, unreality, and chaos at the touch of some devil's hand
reigned around him. It was dark--no, not dark--a spurt of flame was
leaping along the line of trickling oil from the broken lamp on the
floor. It threw into ghastly relief the sprawled form of Dago
Jim. Outside, from along the passageway, came a confused jangle of
commotion--whispering voices, shuffling feet, the swish of Chinese
garments. And the room itself began to spring into weird, flickering
shadows, that mounted and crept up the walls with the spreading fire.

There was not a second to lose before the room would be swarming with
that rush from the passageway--and there was still the letter, the
pocketbook! The table had fallen half over Dago Jim--Jimmie Dale pushed
it aside, tore the crushed letter and the pocketbook from the man's
hands--and felt, with a grim, horrible sort of anxiety, for the other's
heartbeat, for the verdict that meant life or death to himself. There
was no sign of life--the man was dead.

Jimmie Dale was on his feet now. A face, another, and another showed
in the doorway--the Wowzer was regaining his senses, stumbling to his
knees. There was one chance--just one--to take those crowding figures by
surprise. And with a yell of "Fire!" Jimmie Dale sprang for the doorway.

They gave way before his rush, tumbling back in their surprise against
the opposite wall; and, turning, Jimmie Dale raced down the passageway.
Doors were opening everywhere now, forms were pushing out into the
semi-darkness--only to duck hastily back again, as Jimmie Dale's
automatic barked and spat a running fire of warning ahead of him. And
then, behind, the Wowzer's voice shrieked out:

"Soak him! Kill de guy! He's croaked Dago Jim! Put a hole in him, de--"

Yells, a chorus of them, took up the refrain--then the rush of following
feet--and the passageway seemed to racket as though a Gatling gun were
in play with the fusillade of revolver shots. But Jimmie Dale was at
the opening now--and, like a base runner plunging for the bag, he flung
himself in a low dive through and into the open cellar beyond. He was
on his feet, over the boxes, and dashing up the stairs in a second. The
door above opened as he reached the top--Jimmie Dale's right hand shot
out with clubbed revolver--and with a grunt Chang Foo went down before
the blow and the headlong rush. The next instant Jimmie Dale had sprung
through the tea shop and was out on the street.

A minute, two minutes more, and Chinatown would be in an uproar--Chang
Foo would see to that--and the Wowzer would prod him on. The danger was
far from over yet. And then, as he ran, Jimmie Dale gave a little gasp
of relief. Just ahead, drawn up at the curb, stood a taxicab--waiting,
probably, for a private slumming party. Jimmie Dale put on a spurt,
reached it, and wrenched the door open.

"Quick!" he flung at the startled chauffeur. "The nearest subway
station--there's a ten-spot in it for you! Quick man--QUICK! Here they

A crowd of Chinese, pouring like angry hornets from Chang Foo's shop,
came yelling down the street--and the taxi took the corner on two
wheels--and Jimmie Dale, panting, choking for his breath like a man
spent, sank back against the cushions.

But five minutes later it was quite another Jimmie Dale, composed,
nonchalant, imperturbable, who entered an up-town subway train, and,
choosing a seat alone near the centre of the car, which at that hour
of night in the downtown district was almost deserted, took the crushed
letter from his pocket. For a moment he made no attempt to read it,
his dark eyes, now that he was free from observation, full of troubled
retrospect, fixed on the window at his side. It was not a pleasant
thought that it had cost a man his life, nor yet that that life was also
the price of his own freedom. True, if there were two men in the city of
New York whose crimes merited neither sympathy nor mercy, those two men
were the Wowzer and Dago Jim--but yet, after all, it was a human life,
and, even if his own had been in the balance, thank God it had been
through no act of his that Dago Jim had gone out! The Wowzer, cute and
cunning, had been quick enough to say so to clear himself, but--Jimmie
Dale smiled a little now--neither the Wowzer, nor Chang Foo, nor
Chinatown would ever be in a position to recognise their uninvited

Jimmie Dale's eyes shifted to the letter speculatively, gravely. It
seemed as though the night had already held a year of happenings, and
the night was not over yet--there was the letter! It had already cost
one life; was it to cost another--or what?

It began as it always did. He read it through once, in amazement; a
second time, with a flush of bitter anger creeping to his cheeks; and
a third time, curiously memorising, as it were, snatches of it here and

"DEAR PHILANTHROPIC CROOK: Robbery of Hudson-Mercantile National
Bank--trusted employee is ex-convict, bad police record, served term in
Sing Sing three years ago--known to police as Bookkeeper Bob, real name
is Robert Moyne, lives at ---- Street, Harlem--Inspector Burton
and Lannigan of headquarters trailing him now--robbery not yet made

There was a great deal more--four sheets of closely written data. With
an exclamation almost of dismay, Jimmie Dale pulled out his watch. So
that was what Burton and Lannigan were up to! And he had actually run
into them! Lord, the irony of it! The--And then Jimmie Dale stared at
the dial of his watch incredulously. It was still but barely midnight!
It seemed impossible that since leaving the theatre at a few minutes
before eleven, he had lived through but a single hour!

Jimmie Dale's fingers began to pluck at the letter, tearing it into
pieces, tearing the pieces over and over again into tiny shreds. The
train stopped at station after station, people got on and off--Jimmie
Dale's hat was over his eyes, and his eyes were glued again to the
window. Had Bookkeeper Bob returned to his flat in Harlem with the
detectives at his heels--or were Burton and Lannigan still trailing the
man downtown somewhere around the cafe's? If the former, the theft
of the letter and its incident loss of time had been an irreparable
disaster; if the latter--well, who knew! The risk was the Gray Seal's!

At One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Street Jimmie Dale left the train; and,
at the end of a sharp four minutes' walk, during which he had dodged in
and out from street to street, stopped on a corner to survey the block
ahead of him. It was a block devoted exclusively to flats and apartment
houses, and, apart from a few belated pedestrians, was deserted. Jimmie
Dale strolled leisurely down one side, crossed the street at the end of
the block, and strolled leisurely back on the other side--there was no
sign of either Burton or Lannigan. It was a fairly safe presumption then
that Bookkeeper Bob had not returned yet, or one of the detectives at
least would have been shadowing the house.

Jimmie Dale, smiling a little grimly, retraced his steps again, and
turned deliberately into a doorway--whose number he had noted as he had
passed a moment or so before. So, after all, there was time yet!
This was the house. "Number eighteen," she had said in her letter. "A
flat--three stories--Moyne lives on ground floor."

Jimmie Dale leaned against the vestibule door--there was a faint
click--a little steel instrument was withdrawn from the lock--and Jimmie
Dale stepped into the hall, where a gas jet, turned down, burned dimly.

The door of the ground-floor apartment was at his right, Jimmie Dale
reached up and turned off the light. Again those slim, tapering,
wonderfully sensitive fingers worked with the little steel instrument,
this time in the lock of the apartment door--again there was that almost
inaudible click--and then cautiously, inch by inch, the door opened
under his hand. He peered inside--down a hallway lighted, if it could be
called lighted at all, by a subdued glow from two open doors that gave
upon it--peered intently, listening intently, as he drew a black silk
mask from his pocket and slipped it over his face. And then, silent as
a shadow in his movements, the door left just ajar behind him, he stole
down the carpeted hallway.

Opposite the first of the open doorways Jimmie Dale paused--a curiously
hard expression creeping over his face, his lips beginning to droop
ominously downward at the corners. It was a little sitting room, cheaply
but tastefully furnished, and a young woman, Bookkeeper Bob's wife
evidently, and evidently sitting up for her husband, had fallen sound
asleep in a chair, her head pillowed on her arms that were outstretched
across the table. For a moment Jimmie Dale held there, his eyes on the
scene--and the next moment, his hand curved into a clenched fist, he had
passed on and entered the adjoining room.

It was a child's bedroom. A night lamp burned on a table beside the bed,
and the soft rays seemed to play and linger in caress on the tousled
golden hair of a little girl of perhaps two years of age--and something
seemed to choke suddenly in Jimmie Dale's throat--the sweet, innocent
little face, upturned to his, was smiling at him as she slept.

Jimmie Dale turned away his head--his eyelashes wet under his mask.
"BENEATH THE MATTRESS OF THE CHILD'S BED," the letter had said. His face
like stone, his lips a thin line now, Jimmie Dale's hand reached
deftly in without disturbing the child and took out a package--and then
another. He straightened up, a bundle of crisp new hundred-dollar notes
in each hand--and on the top of one, slipped under the elastic band that
held the bills together, an unsealed envelope. He drew out the latter,
and opened it--it was a second-class steamship passage to Vera Cruz,
made out in a fictitious name, of course, to John Davies, the booking
for next day's sailing. From the ticket, from the stolen money, Jimmie
Dale's eyes lifted to rest again on the little golden head, the smiling
lips--and then, dropping the packages into his pockets, his own lips
moving queerly, he turned abruptly to the door.

"My God, the shame of it!" he whispered to himself.

He crept down the corridor, past the open door of the room where the
young woman still sat fast asleep, and, his mask in his pocket again,
stepped softly into the vestibule, and from there to the street.

Jimmie Dale hurried now, spurred on it seemed by a hot, insensate fury
that raged within him--there was still one other call to make that
night--still those remaining and minute details in the latter part of
her letter, grim and ugly in their portent!

It was close upon one o'clock in the morning when Jimmie Dale stopped
again--this time before a fashionable dwelling just off Central Park.
And here, for perhaps the space of a minute, he surveyed the house from
the sidewalk--watching, with a sort of speculative satisfaction, a man's
shadow that passed constantly to and fro across the drawn blinds of one
of the lower windows. The rest of the house was in darkness.

"Yes," said Jimmie Dale, nodding his head, "I rather thought so. The
servants will have retired hours ago. It's safe enough."

He ran quickly up the steps and rang the bell. A door opened almost
instantly, sending a faint glow into the hall from the lighted room; a
hurried step crossed the hall--and the outer door was thrown back.

"Well, what is it?" demanded a voice brusquely.

It was quite dark, too dark for either to distinguish the other's
features--and Jimmie Dale's hat was drawn far down over his eyes.

"I want to see Mr. Thomas H. Carling, cashier of the Hudson-Mercantile
National Bank--it's very important," said Jimmie Dale earnestly.

"I am Mr. Carling," replied the other. "What is it?"

Jimmie Dale leaned forward.

"From headquarters--with a report," he said, in a low tone.

"Ah!" exclaimed the bank official sharply. "Well, it's about time! I've
been waiting up for it--though I expected you would telephone rather
than this. Come in!"

"Thank you," said Jimmie Dale courteously--and stepped into the hall.

The other closed the front door. "The servants are in bed, of course,"
he explained, as he led the way toward the lighted room. "This way,

Behind the other, across the hall, Jimmie Dale followed and close at
Carling's heels entered the room, which was fitted up, quite evidently
regardless of cost, as a combination library and study. Carling, in
a somewhat pompous fashion, walked straight ahead toward the
carved-mahogany flat-topped desk, and, as he reached it, waved his hand.

"Take a chair," he said, over his shoulder--and then, turning in the act
of dropping into his own chair, grasped suddenly at the edge of the desk
instead, and, with a low, startled cry, stared across the room.

Jimmie Dale was leaning back against the door that was closed now behind
him--and on Jimmie Dale's face was a black silk mask.

For an instant neither man spoke nor moved; then Carling, spare-built,
dapper in evening clothes, edged back from the desk and laughed a little

"Quite neat! I compliment you! From headquarters with a report, I think
you said?"

"Which I neglected to add," said Jimmie Dale, "was to be made in

Carling, as though to put as much distance between them as possible,
continued to edge back across the room--but his small black eyes, black
now to the pupils themselves, never left Jimmie Dale's face.

"In private, eh?"--he seemed to be sparring for time, as he smiled. "In
private! You've a strange method of securing privacy, haven't you? A bit
melodramatic, isn't it? Perhaps you'll be good enough to tell me who you

Jimmie Dale smiled indulgently.

"My mask is only for effect," he said. "My name is--Smith."

"Yes," said Carling. "I am very stupid. Thank you. I--" he had reached
the other side of the room now--and with a quick, sudden movement jerked
his hand to the dial of the safe that stood against the wall.

But Jimmie Dale was quicker--without shifting his position, his
automatic, whipped from his pocket, held a disconcerting bead on
Carling's forehead.

"Please don't do that," said Jimmie Dale softly. "It's rather a good
make, that safe. I dare say it would take me half an hour to open it. I
was rather curious to know whether it was locked or not."

Carling's hand dropped to his side.

"So!" he sneered. "That's it, is it! The ordinary variety of sneak
thief!" His voice was rising gradually. "Well, sir, let me tell you

"Mr. Carling," said Jimmie Dale, in a low, even tone, "unless you
moderate your voice some one in the house might hear you--I am quite
well aware of that. But if that happens, if any one enters this room,
if you make a move to touch a button, or in any other way attempt to
attract attention, I'll drop you where you stand!" His hand, behind his
back, extracted the key from the door lock, held it up for the other to
see, then dropped it into his pocket--and his voice, cold before, rang
peremptorily now. "Come back to the desk and sit down in that chair!" he

For a moment Carling hesitated; then, with a half-muttered oath, obeyed.

Jimmie Dale moved over, and stood in front of Carling on the other side
of the desk--and stared silently at the immaculate, fashionably groomed
figure before him.

Under the prolonged gaze, Carling's composure, in a measure at least,
seemed to forsake him. He began to drum nervously with his fingers on
the desk, and shift uneasily in his chair.

And then, from first one pocket and then the other, Jimmie Dale took
the two packages of banknotes, and, still with out a word, pushed them
across the desk until they lay under the other's eyes.

Carling's fingers stopped their drumming, slid to the desk edge,
tightened there, and a whiteness crept into his face. Then, with an
effort, he jerked himself erect in his chair.

"What's this?" he demanded hoarsely.

"About ten thousand dollars, I should say," said Jimmie Dale slowly. "I
haven't counted it. Your bank was robbed this evening at closing time, I

"Yes!" Carling's voice was excited now, the colour back in his face.
"But you--how--do you mean that you are returning the money to the

"Exactly," said Jimmie Dale.

Carling was once more the pompous bank official. He leaned back and
surveyed Jimmie Dale critically with his little black eyes.

"Ah, quite so!" he observed. "That accounts for the mask. But I am still
a little in the dark. Under the circumstances, it is quite impossible
that you should have stolen the money yourself, and--"

"I didn't," said Jimmie Dale. "I found it hidden in the home of one of
your employees."

"You found it--WHERE?"

"In Moyne's home--up in Harlem."

"Moyne, eh?" Carling was alert, quick now, jerking out his words. "How
did you come to get into this, then? His pal? Double-crossing him, eh? I
suppose you want a reward--we'll attend to that, of course. You're
wiser than you know, my man. That's what we suspected. We've had the
detectives trailing Moyne all evening." He reached forward over the desk
for the telephone. "I'll telephone headquarters to make the arrest at

"Just a minute," interposed Jimmie Dale gravely. "I want you to listen
to a little story first."

"A story! What has a story got to do with this?" snapped Carling.

"The man has got a home," said Jimmie Dale softly. "A home, and a
wife--and a little baby girl."

"Oh, that's the game then, eh? You want to plead for him?" Carling flung
out gruffly. "Well, he should have thought of all that before! It's
quite useless for you to bring it up. The man has had his chance
already--a better chance than any one with his record ever had before.
We took him into the bank knowing that he was an ex-convict, but
believing that we could make an honest man of him--and this is the

"And yet--"

"NO!" said Carling icily.

"You refuse--absolutely?" Jimmie Dale's voice had a lingering, wistful
note in it.

"I refuse!" said Carling bluntly. "I won't have anything to do with it."

There was just an instant's silence; and then, with a strange, slow,
creeping motion, as a panther creeps when about to spring, Jimmie Dale
projected his body across the desk--far across it toward the other. And
the muscles of his jaw were quivering, his words rasping, choked with
the sweep of fury that, held back so long, broke now in a passionate

"And shall I tell you why you won't? Your bank was robbed to-night of
one hundred thousand dollars. There are ten thousand here. THE OTHER

"You lie!" Ashen to the lips, Carling had risen in his chair. "You lie!"
he cried. "Do you hear! You lie! I tell you, you lie!"

Jimmie Dale's lips parted ominously.

"Sit down!" he gritted between his teeth.

The white in Carling's face had turned to gray, his lips were
working--mechanically he sank down again in his chair.

Jimmie Dale still leaned over the desk, resting his weight on his right
elbow, the automatic in his right hand covering Carling.

"You cur!" whispered Jimmie Dale. "There's just one reason, only one,
that keeps me from putting a bullet through you while you sit there.
We'll get to that in a moment. There is that little story first--shall
I tell it to you now? For the past four years, and God knows how many
before that, you've gone the pace. The lavishness of this bachelor
establishment of yours is common talk in New York--far in excess of a
bank cashier's salary. But you were supposed to be a wealthy man in your
own right; and so, in reality you were--once. But you went through
your fortune two years ago. Counted a model citizen, an upright man, an
honour to the community--what were you, Carling? What ARE you? Shall I
tell you? Roue, gambler, leading a double life of the fastest kind. You
did it cleverly, Carling; hid it well--but your game is up. To-night,
for instance, you are at the end of your tether, swamped with debts,
exposure threatening you at any moment. Why don't you tell me again that
I lie--Carling?"

But now the man made no answer. He had sunk a little deeper in his
chair--a dawning look of terror in the eyes that held, fascinated, on
Jimmie Dale.

"You cur!" said Jimmie Dale again. "You cur, with your devil's work! A
year ago you saw this night coming--when you must have money, or face
ruin and exposure. You saw it then, a year ago, the day that Moyne,
concealing nothing of his prison record, applied through friends for a
position in the bank. Your co-officials were opposed to his appointment,
but you, do you remember how you pleaded to give the man his chance--and
in your hellish ingenuity saw your way then out of the trap! An
ex-convict from Sing Sing! It was enough, wasn't it? What chance had
he!" Jimmie Dale paused, his left hand clenched until the skin formed
whitish knobs over the knuckles.

Carling's tongue sought his lips, made a circuit of them--and he tried
to speak, but his voice was an incoherent muttering.

"I'll not waste words," said Jimmie Dale, in his grim monotone. "I'm not
sure enough myself--that I could keep my hands off you much longer. The
actual details of how you stole the money to-day do not matter--NOW. A
little later perhaps in court--but not now. You were the last to leave
the bank, but before leaving you pretended to discover the theft of a
hundred thousand dollars--that, done up in a paper parcel, was even then
reposing in your desk. You brought the parcel home, put it in that safe
there--and notified the president of the bank by telephone from here of
the robbery, suggesting that police headquarters be advised at once. He
told you to go ahead and act as you saw best. You notified the police,
speciously directing suspicion to--the ex-convict in the bank's employ.
You knew Moyne was dining out to-night, you knew where--and at a hint
from you the police took up the trail. A little later in the evening,
you took these two packages of banknotes from the rest, and with this
steamship ticket--which you obtained yesterday while out at lunch by
sending a district messenger boy with the money and instructions in a
sealed envelope to purchase for you--you went up to the Moynes' flat in
Harlem for the purpose of secreting them somewhere there. You pretended
to be much disappointed at finding Moyne out--you had just come for a
little social visit, to get better acquainted with the home life of your
employees! Mrs. Moyne was genuinely pleased and grateful. She took you
in to see their little girl, who was already asleep in bed. She left
you there for a moment to answer the door--and you--you"--Jimmie Dale's
voice choked again--"you blot on God's earth, you slipped the money and
ticket under the child's mattress!"

Carling came forward with a lurch in his chair--and his hands went out,
pawing in a wild, pleading fashion over Jimmie Dale's arm.

Jimmie Dale flung him away.

"You were safe enough," he rasped on. "The police could only construe
your visit to Moyne's flat as zeal on behalf of the bank. And it
was safer, much more circumspect on your part, not to order the flat
searched at once, but only as a last resort, as it were, after you
had led the police to trail him all evening and still remain without
a clew--and besides, of course, not until you had planted the evidence
that was to damn him and wreck his life and home! You were even generous
in the amount you deprived yourself of out of the hundred thousand
dollars--for less would have been enough. Caught with ten thousand
dollars of the bank's money and a steamship ticket made out in a
fictitious name, it was prima-facie evidence that he had done the job
and had the balance somewhere. What would his denials, his protestations
of innocence count for? He was an ex-convict, a hardened criminal caught
red-handed with a portion of the proceeds of robbery--he had succeeded
in hiding the remainder of it too cleverly, that was all."

Carling's face was ghastly. His hands went out again--again his tongue
moistened his dry lips. He whispered:

"Isn't--isn't there some--some way we can fix this?"

And then Jimmie Dale laughed--not pleasantly.

"Yes, there's a way, Carling," he said grimly. "That's why I'm here." He
picked up a sheet of writing paper and pushed it across the desk--then a
pen, which he dipped into the inkstand, and extended to the other. "The
way you'll fix it will be to write out a confession exonerating Moyne."

Carling shrank back into his chair, his head huddling into his

"NO!" he cried. "I won't--I can't--my God!--I--I--WON'T!"

The automatic in Jimmie Dale's hand edged forward the fraction of an

"I have not used this--yet. You understand now why--don't you?" he said
under his breath.

"No, no!" Carling pushed away the pen. "I'm ruined--ruined as it is. But
this would mean the penitentiary, too--"

"Where you tried to send an innocent man in your place, you hound; where

"Some other way--some other way!" Carling was babbling. "Let me out of
this--for God's sake, let me out of this!"

"Carling," said Jimmie Dale hoarsely, "I stood beside a little bed
to-night and looked at a baby girl--a little baby girl with golden hair,
who smiled as she slept."

Carling shivered, and passed a shaking hand across his face.

"Take this pen," said Jimmie Dale monotonously; "or--THIS!" The
automatic lifted until the muzzle was on a line with Carling's eyes.

Carling's hand reached out, still shaking, and took the pen; and his
body, dragged limply forward, hung over the desk. The pen spluttered on
the paper--a bead of sweat spurting from the man's forehead dropped to
the sheet.

There was silence in the room. A minute passed--another. Carling's pen
travelled haltingly across the paper then, with a queer, low cry as
he signed his name, he dropped the pen from his fingers, and, rising
unsteadily from his chair, stumbled away from the desk toward a couch
across the room.

An instant Jimmie Dale watched the other, then he picked up the sheet of
paper. It was a miserable document, miserably scrawled:

"I guess it's all up. I guess I knew it would be some day. Moyne hadn't
anything to do with it. I stole the money myself from the bank to-night.
I guess it's all up.


From the paper, Jimmie Dale's eyes shifted to the figure by the
couch--and the paper fluttered suddenly from his fingers to the desk.
Carling was reeling, clutching at his throat--a small glass vial rolled
upon the carpet. And then, even as Jimmie Dale sprang forward, the other
pitched head long over the couch--and in a moment it was over.

Presently Jimmie Dale picked up the vial--and dropped it back on the
floor again. There was no label on it, but it needed none--the strong,
penetrating odor of bitter almonds was telltale evidence enough. It was
prussic, or hydrocyanic acid, probably the most deadly poison and the
swiftest in its action that was known to science--Carling had provided
against that "some day" in his confession!

For a little space, motionless, Jimmie Dale stood looking down at the
silent, outstretched form--then he walked slowly back to the desk, and
slowly, deliberately picked up the signed confession and the steamship
ticket. He held them an instant, staring at them, then methodically
began to tear them into little pieces, a strange, tired smile hovering
on his lips. The man was dead now--there would be disgrace enough for
some one to bear, a mother perhaps--who knew! And there was another way
now--since the man was dead.

Jimmie Dale put the pieces in his pocket, went to the safe, opened it,
and took out a parcel, locked the safe carefully, and carried the parcel
to the desk. He opened it there. Inside were nearly two dozen little
packages of hundred-dollar bills. The other two packages that he had
brought with him he added to the rest. From his pocket he took out the
thin metal insignia case, and with the tiny tweezers lifted up one of
the gray-coloured, diamond-shaped paper seals. He moistened the
adhesive side, and, still holding it by the tweezers, dropped it on
his handkerchief and pressed the seal down on the face of the topmost
package of banknotes. He tied the parcel up then, and, picking up the
pen, addressed it in printed characters:



"District messenger--some way--in the morning," he murmured.

Jimmie Dale slipped his mask into his pocket, and, with the parcel under
his arm, stepped to the door and unlocked it. He paused for an instant
on the threshold for a single, quick, comprehensive glance around the
room--then passed on out into the street.

At the corner he stopped to light a cigarette--and the flame of the
match spurting up disclosed a face that was worn and haggard. He threw
the match away, smiled a little wearily--and went on.

The Gray Seal had committed another "crime."



Choosing between the snowy napery, the sparkling glass and silver, the
cozy, shaded table-lamps, the famous French chef of the ultra-exclusive
St. James Club, his own home on Riverside Drive where a dinner fit for
an epicure and served by Jason, that most perfect of butlers, awaited
him, and Marlianne's, Jimmie Dale, driving in alone in his touring car
from an afternoon's golf, had chosen--Marlianne's.

Marlianne's, if such a thing as Bohemianism, or, rather, a concrete
expression of it exists, was Bohemian. A two-piece string orchestra
played valiantly to the accompaniment of a hoarse-throated piano; and
between courses the diners took up the refrain--and, as it was always
between courses with some one, the place was a bedlam of noisy riot.
Nevertheless, it was Marlianne's--and Jimmie Dale liked Marlianne's. He
had dined there many times before, as he had just dined in the person of
Jimmie Dale, the millionaire, his high-priced imported car at the curb
of the shabby street outside--and he had dined there, disreputable in
attire, seedy in appearance, with the police yelping at his heels, as
Larry the Bat. In either character Marlianne's had welcomed him with
equal courtesy to its spotted linen and most excellent table-d'hote with
VIN ORDINAIRE--for fifty cents.

And now, in the act of reaching into his pocket for the change to pay
his bill, Jimmie Dale seemed suddenly to experience some difficulty in
finding what he sought, and his fingers went fumbling from one pocket
to another. Two men at the table in front of him were talking--their
voices, over a momentary lull in violin squeaks, talk, laughter,
singing, and the clatter of dishes, reached him:

"Carling commit suicide! Not on your life! No; of course he didn't! It
was that cursed Gray Seal croaked him, just as sure as you sit in that

The other grunted. "Yes; but what'd the Gray Seal want to pinch a
hundred thousand out of the bank for, and then give it back again the
next morning?"

"What's he done a hundred other things for to cover up the real object
of what he's after?" retorted the first speaker, with a short, vicious
laugh; then, with a thump of his fist on the table: "The man's a devil,
a fiend, and anywhere else but New York he'd have been caught and sent
to the chair where he belongs long ago, and--"

A burst of ragtime drowned out the man's words. Jimmie Dale placed a
fifty-cent piece and a tip beside it on his dinner check, pushed
back his chair, and rose from the table. There was a half-tolerantly
satirical, half-angry glint in his dark, steady eyes. It was not only
the police who yelped at his heels, but every man, woman, and child in
the city. The man had not voiced his own sentiments--he had voiced the
sentiments of New York! And it was quite on the cards that if he, Jimmie
Dale, were ever caught his destination would not even be the death cell
and the chair at Sing Sing--his fellow citizens had reached a pitch
where they would be quite capable of literally tearing him to pieces if
they ever got their hands on him!

And yet there were a few, a very few, a handful out of five millions,
who sometimes remembered perhaps to thank God that the Gray Seal
lived--that was his reward. That--and SHE, whose mysterious letters
prompted and impelled his, the Gray Seal's, acts! She--nameless,
fascinating in her brilliant resourcefulness, amazing in her power, a
woman whose life was bound up with his and yet held apart from him in
the most inexplicable, absorbing way; a woman he had never seen, save
for her gloved arm in the limousine that night, who at one unexpected
moment projected a dazzling, impersonal existence across his path, and
the next, leaving him battling for his life where greed and passion and
crime swirled about him, was gone!

Jimmie Dale threaded the small, crowded rooms--the interior of
Marlianne's had never been altered from the days when the place had been
a family residence of some pretension--and, reaching the hall, received
his hat from the frowsy-looking boy in attendance. He passed outside,
and, at the top of the steps, paused as he took his cigarette case
from his pocket. It was nearly a week since Carling, the cashier of
the Hudson-Mercantile National Bank, had been found dead in his home,
a bottle that had contained hydrocyanic acid on the floor beside him;
nearly a week since Bookkeeper Bob, unaware that he had ever been under
temporary suspicion for the robbery of the bank, had, equally unknown
to himself, been cleared of any complicity in that affair--and yet, as
witness the conversation of a moment ago, it was still the topic of New
York, still the vital issue that filled the maw of the newspapers
with ravings, threats, and execrations against the Gray Seal, snarling
virulently the while at the police for the latter's ineptitude,
inefficiency, and impotence!

Jimmie Dale closed his cigarette case with a snap that was almost human
in its irony, dropped it back into his pocket, and lighted a match--but
the flame was arrested halfway to the tip of his cigarette, as his eyes
fixed suddenly and curiously on a woman's form hurrying down the street.
She had turned the corner before he took his eyes from her, and the
match between his fingers had gone out. Not that there was anything very
strange in a woman walking, or even half running, along the street; nor
that there was anything particularly attractive or unusual about
her, and if there had been the street was too dark for him to have
distinguished it. It was not that--it was the fact that she had neither
passed by the house on whose steps he stood, nor come out of any of the
adjoining houses. It was as though she had suddenly and miraculously
appeared out of thin air, and taken form on a sidewalk a little way down
from Marlianne's.

"That's queer!" commented Jimmie Dale to himself. "However--" He took
out another match, lighted his cigarette, jerked the match stub away
from him, and, with a lift of his shoulders, went down the steps.

He crossed the pavement, walked around the front of his machine, since
the steering wheel was on the side next to the curb, and, with his hand
out to open the car door--stopped. Some one had been tampering with
it--it was not quite closed. There was no mistake. Jimmie Dale made
no mistakes of that kind, a man whose life hung a dozen times a day on
little things could not afford to make them. He had closed it firmly,
even with a bang, when he had got out.

Instantly suspicious, he wrenched the door wide open, switched on
the light under the hood, and, with a sharp exclamation, bent quickly
forward. A glove, a woman's glove, a white glove lay on the floor of the
car. Jimmie Dale's pulse leaped suddenly into fierce, pounding beats. It
was HERS! He KNEW that intuitively--knew it as he knew that he breathed.
And that woman he had so leisurely watched as she had disappeared from
sight was, must have been--she!

He sprang from the car with a jump, his first impulse to dash after
her--and checked himself, laughing a little bitterly. It was too late
for that now--he had already let his chance slip through his fingers.
Around the corner was Sixth Avenue, surface cars, the elevated,
taxicabs, a multitude of people, any one of a hundred ways in which
she could, and would, already have discounted pursuit from him--and,
besides, he would not even have been able to recognise her if he saw

Jimmie Dale's smile was mirthless as he turned back to the car, and
picked up the glove. Why had she dropped it there? It could not have
been intentional. Why had--he began to tear suddenly at the glove's
little finger, and in another second, kneeling on the car's step, his
shoulders inside, he was holding a ring close under the little electric

It was a gold seal ring, a small, dainty thing that bore a crest:
a bell, surmounted by a bishop's mitre--the bell, quaint in design,
harking the imagination back to some old-time belfry tower. And
underneath, in the scroll--a motto. It was a full minute before Jimmie
Dale could decipher it, for the lettering was minute and the words, of
course, reversed. It was in French: SONNEZ LE TOCSIN.

He straightened up, the glove and ring in his hand, a puzzled expression
on his face. It was strange! Had she, after all, dropped the glove
there intentionally; had she at last let down the barriers just a little
between them, and given him this little intimate sign that she--

And then Jimmie Dale laughed abruptly, self-mockingly. He was only
trying to deceive himself, to argue himself into believing what, with
heart and soul, he wanted to believe. It was not like her--and neither
was it so! His eyes had fixed on the seat beside the wheel. He had not
used the lap rug all that day, he couldn't use a rug and drive, he had
left it folded and hanging on the rack in the tonneau--it was now neatly
folded and reposing on the front seat!

"Yes," said Jimmie Dale, a sort of self-pity in his tones, "I might have

He lifted the rug. Beneath it on the leather seat lay a white envelope.
Her letter! The letter that never came save with the plan of some grim,
desperate work outlined ahead--the call to arms for the Gray Seal.
SONNEZ LE TOCSIN! Ring the Tocsin! Sound the alarm! The Tocsin!
The words were running through his brain. A strange motto on that
crest--that seemed so strangely apt! The Tocsin! Never once in all the
times that he had heard from her, never once in the years that had gone
since that initial letter of hers had struck its first warning note,
had any communication from her been but to sound again a new alarm--the
Toscin! The Tocsin--the word seemed to visualise her, to give her a
concrete form and being, to breathe her very personality.

"The Tocsin!"--Jimmie Dale whispered the word softly, a little
wistfully. "Yes; I shall call you that--the Tocsin!"

He folded the glove very carefully, placed it with the ring in his
pocketbook, picked up the letter--and, with a sharp exclamation, turned
it quickly over in his fingers, then bent hurriedly with it to the

Strange things were happening that night! For the first time, the letter
was not even SEALED! That was not like her, either! What did it mean?
Quick, alert now, anxious even, he pulled the double, folded sheets
from the envelope, glanced rapidly through them--and, after a moment, a
smile, whimsical, came slowly to his lips.

It was quite plain now--all of it. The glove, the ring, and the unsealed
letter--and the postscript held the secret; or, rather, what had been
intended for a postscript did, for it comprised only a few words, ending
abruptly, unfinished: "Look in the cupboard at the rear of the room. The
man with the red wig is--" That was all, and the words, written in ink,
were badly blurred, as though the paper had been hastily folded before
the ink was dry.

It was quite plain; and, in view of the real explanation of it all,
eminently characteristic of her. With the letter already written, she
had come there, meaning to place it on the seat and cover it with the
rug, as, indeed, she had done; then, deciding to add the postscript, and
because she would attract less attention that way than in any other, she
had climbed into the car as though it belonged to her, and had seated
herself there to write it. She would have been hurried in her movements,
of course, and in pulling off her glove to use the fountain pen the ring
had come with it. The rest was obvious. She had but just begun to write
when he had appeared on the steps. She had slipped instantly down to
the floor of the car, probably dropping the glove from her lap, hastily
inclosed the letter in the envelope which she had no time to seal,
thrust the envelope under the rug, and, forgetting her glove and fearful
of risking his attention by attempting to close the door firmly,
had stolen along the body of the car, only to be noticed by him too
late--when she was well down the street!

And at that latter thought, once more chagrin seized Jimmie Dale--then
he turned impulsively to the letter. All this was extraneous, apart--for
another time, when every moment was not a priceless asset as it very
probably was now.

"Dear Philanthropic Crook"--it always began that way, never any other
way. He read on more and more intently, crouched there close to the
light on the floor of his car, lips thinning as he proceeded--read it to
the end, absorbing, memorising it--and then the abortive postscript:

"Look in the cupboard at the rear of the room. The man with the red wig

For an instant, as mechanically he tore the letter into little shreds,
he held there hesitant--and the next, slamming the door tight, he flung
himself into the seat behind the wheel, and the big, sixty-horse-power,
self-starting machine was roaring down the street.

The Tocsin! There was a grim smile on Jimmie Dale's lips now. The alarm!
Yes, it was always an alarm, quick, sudden, an emergency to face on the
instant--plans, decisions to be made with no time to ponder them, with
only that one fact to consider, staggering enough in itself, that a
mistake meant disaster and ruin to some one else, and to himself, if
the courts were merciful where he had little hope for mercy, the
penitentiary for life!

And now to-night again, as it almost always was when these mysterious
letters came, every moment of inaction was piling up the odds against
him. And, too, the same problem confronted him. How, in what way, in
what role, must he play the night's game to its end? As Larry the Bat?

The car was speeding forward. He was heading down Broadway now, lower
Broadway, that stretched before him, deserted like some dark, narrow
canyon where, far below, like towering walls, the buildings closed
together and seemed to converge into some black, impassable barrier. The
street lights flashed by him; a patrolman stopped the swinging of his
night-stick, and turned to gaze at the car that rushed by at a rate
perilously near to contempt of speed laws; street cars passed at
indifferent intervals; pedestrians were few and far between--it was the
lower Broadway of night.

Larry the Bat? Jimmie Dale shook his head impatiently over the steering
wheel. No; that would not do. It would be well enough for this young
Burton, perhaps, but not for old Isaac, the East Side fence--for Isaac
knew him in the character of Larry the Bat. His quick, keen brain,
weaving, eliminating, devising, scheming, discarded that idea. The final
coup of the night, as yet but sensed in an indefinite, unshaped way, if
enacted in the person of Larry the Bat would therefore stamp Larry the
Bat and the Gray Seal as one--a contretemps but little less fatal, in
view of old Issac, than to bracket the Gray Seal and Jimmie Dale! Larry
the Bat was not a character to be assumed with impunity, nor one to
jeopardize--it was a bulwark of safety, at it were, to which more than
once he owed escape from capture and discovery.

He lifted his shoulders with a sudden jerk of decision as the car
swerved to the left and headed for the East Side. There was only
one alternative then--the black silk mask that folded into such tiny
compass, and that, together with an automatic and the curious, thin
metal case that looked so like a cigarette case, was always in his
pocket for an emergency!

The car turned again, and, approaching its destination, Jimmie Dale
slowed down the speed perceptibly. It was a strange case, not a pleasant
one--and the raw edges where they showed were ugly in their nakedness.
Old Isaac Pelina, young Burton, and Maddon--K. Wilmington Maddon, the
wall-paper magnate! Curious, that of the three he should already know
two--old Isaac and Maddon! Everybody in the East Side, every denizen
of the underworld, and many who posed on a far higher plane knew old
Isaac--fence to the most select clientele of thieves in New York,
unscrupulous, hand in glove with any rascality or crime that promised
profit, a money lender, a Shylock without even a Shylock's humanity as
a saving grace! Yes; as Larry the Bat he knew old Isaac, and he knew him
not only personally but by firsthand reputation--he had heard the man
cursed in blasphemous, whole-souled abandon by more than one crook who
was in the old fence's toils. They dealt with him, the crooks, while
they swore to "get" him because he was "safe," but--Jimmie Dale's lips
parted in a mirthless smile--some day old Isaac would be found in that
spiders' den of his back of the dingy loan office with a knife in his
heart or a bullet through his head! And K. Wilmington Maddon--Jimmie
Dale's smile grew whimsical--he had known Maddon quite intimately for
years, had even dined with him at the St. James Club only a few nights
before. Maddon was a man in his own "set"--and Maddon, interfered with,
was likely to prove none too tractable a customer to handle. And young
Burton, the letter had said, was Maddon's private and confidential
secretary. Jimmie Dale's lips thinned again. Well, Burton's acquaintance
was still to be made! It was a curious trio--and it was dirty work, more
raw than cunning, more devilish than ingenious; blackmail in its most
hellish form; the stake, at the least calculation, a cool half million.
A heavy price for a single slip in a man's life!

He brought the car abruptly to a halt at the edge of the curb, and
sprang out to the ground. He was in front of "The Budapest" restaurant,
a garish establishment, most popular of all resorts for the moment on
the East Side, where Fifth Avenue, in the fond belief that it was seeing
the real thing in "seamy" life, engaged its table a week in advance.
Jimmie Dale pushed a bill into the door attendant's hand, accompanied by
an injunction to keep an eye on the machine, and entered the cafe.

But for a sort of tinselled ostentation the place might well have been
the Marlianne's that he had just left--it was crowded and riot was
at its height; a stringed orchestra in Hungarian costume played what
purported to be Hungarian airs; shouts, laughter, clatter of dishes,
and thump of steins added to the din. He made his way between the
close-packed tables to the stairs, and descended to the lower floor.
Here, if anything, the confusion was greater than above; but here,
too, was an exit through to the rear street--and a moment later he was
sauntering past the front of an unkempt little pawnshop, closed for
the night, over whose door, in the murk of a distant street lamp, three
balls hung in sagging disarray, tawny with age, and across whose dirty,
unwashed windows, letters missing, ran the legend:

IS AC PELINA Pawn brok r

The pawnshop made the corner of a very dark and narrow lane--and, with a
quick glance around him to assure himself that he was unobserved, Jimmie
Dale stepped into the alleyway, and, lost instantly in the blacker
shadows, stole along by the wall of the pawnshop. Old Isaac's business
was not all done through the front door.

And then suddenly Jimmie Dale shrank still closer against the wall. Was
it intuition, premonition--or reality? There seemed an uncanny feeling
of PRESENCE around him, as though perhaps he were watched, as though
others beside himself were in the lane. Yes; ahead of him a shadow
moved--he could just barely distinguish it now that his eyes had grown
accustomed to the darkness. It, like himself, was close against the
wall, and now it slunk noiselessly down the length of the lane until he
lost sight of it. AND WHAT WAS THAT? He strained his ears to listen. It
seemed like a window being opened or closed, cautiously, stealthily, the
fraction of an inch at a time. And then he located the sound--it came
from the other side of the lane and very nearly opposite to where, on
the second floor, a dull, yellow glow shone out from old Isaac's private
den in the rear of the pawnshop's office.

Jimmie Dale's brows were gathered in sharp furrows. There was evidently
something afoot to-night of which the Tocsin had NOT sounded the alarm.
And then the frown relaxed, and he smiled a little. Miraculous as was
the means through which she obtained the knowledge that was the basis of
their strange partnership, it was no more miraculous than her unerring
accuracy in the minutest details. The Tocsin had never failed him yet.
It was possible that something was afoot around him, quite probable,
indeed, since he was in the most vicious part of the city, in the heart
of gangland; but whatever it might be, it was certainly extraneous to
his mission or she would have mentioned it.

The lane was empty now, he was quite sure of that--and there was
no further sound from the window opposite. He started forward once
more--only to halt again for the second time as abruptly as before,
squeezing if possible even more closely against the wall. Some one had
turned into the lane from the sidewalk, and, walking hurriedly, choosing
with evident precaution the exact centre of the alleyway, came toward

The man passed, his hurried stride a half run; and, a few feet beyond,
halted at old Isaac's side door. From somewhere inside the old building
Jimmie Dale's ears caught the faint ringing of an electric bell; a
long ring, followed in quick succession by three short ones--then the
repeated clicking of a latch, as though pulled by a cord from above, and
the man passed in through the door, closing it behind him.

Jimmie Dale nodded to himself in the darkness. It was a spring lock; the
signal was one long ring and three short ones--the Tocsin had not missed
even those small details. Also, Burton was late for his appointment, for
that must have been Burton--business such as old Isaac had in hand
that night would have permitted the entrance of no other visitor but K.
Wilmington Maddon's private secretary.

He moved down the lane to the door, and tried it softly. It was locked,
of course. The slim, tapering, sensitive fingers, whose tips were eyes
and ears to Jimmie Dale, felt over the lock--and a slender little steel
instrument slipped into the keyhole. A moment more and the catch was
released, and the door, under his hand, began to open. With it ajar,
he paused, his eyes searching intently up and down the lane. There was
nothing, no sign of any one, no moving shadows now. His gaze shifted to
the window opposite. Directly facing it now, with the dull reflection
upon it from the lighted window of old Isaac's den above his head, he
could make out that it was open--but that was all.

Once more he smiled--a little tolerantly at himself this time. Some one
had been in the lane; some one had opened the window of his or her
room in that tenement house across from him--surely there was nothing
surprising, unnatural, or even out of the commonplace in that. He had
been a little bit on edge himself, perhaps, and the sudden movement of
that shadow, unexpected, had startled him for the moment, as, in all
probability, the opening of the window had startled the skulking figure
itself into action.

The door was open now. He stepped noiselessly inside, and closed it
noiselessly behind him. He was in a narrow hall, where a few yards away,
a light shone down a stairway at right angles to the hall itself.

"Rear door of pawnshop opens into hall, and exactly opposite very short
flight of stairs leading directly to doorway of Isaac's den above.
Ramshackle old place, low ceilings. Isaac, when sitting in his den, can
look down, and, by means of a transom over the rear door of the shop,
see the customers as they enter from the street, while he also keeps an
eye on his assistant. Latter always locks up and leaves promptly at six
o'clock--" Jimmie Dale was subconsciously repeating to himself snatches
from the Tocsin's letter, which, as subconsciously in reading, he had
memorised almost word for word.

And now voices reached him--one, excited, nervous, as though the
speaker were labouring under mental strain that bordered closely on
the hysterical; the other, curiously mingling a querulousness with an
attempt to pacify, but dominantly contemptuous, sneering, cold.

Jimmie Dale moved along the hall--very slowly--without a sound--testing
each step before he threw his body weight from one leg to the other. He
reached the foot of the stairs. The Tocsin had been right; it was a very
short flight. He counted the steps--there were eight. Above, facing him,
a door was open. The voices were louder now. It was a sordid-looking
room, what he could see of it, poverty-stricken in its appearance,
intentionally so probably for effect, with no attempt whatever at
furnishing. He could see through the doorway to the window that opened
on the alleyway, or, rather, just glimpse the top of the window at an
angle across the room--that and a bare stretch of floor. The two men
were not in the line of vision.

Burton's voice--it was unquestionably Burton speaking--came to Jimmie
Dale now distinctly.

"No, I didn't! I tell you, I didn't! I--I hadn't the nerve."

Jimmie Dale slipped his black silk mask over his face; and with extreme
caution, on hands and knees, began to climb the stairs.

"So!" It was old Isaac now, in a half purr, half sneer. "And I was so
sure, my young friend, that you had. I was so sure that you were not
such a fool. Yes; I could even have sworn that they were in your pocket
now--what? It is too bad--too bad! It is not a pleasant thing to think
of, that little chair up the river in its horrible little room where--"

"For God's sake, Isaac--not that! Do you hear--not that! My God, I
didn't mean to--I didn't know what I was doing!"

Jimmie Dale crept up another step, another, and another. There was
silence for a moment in the room; then Burton again, hoarse-voiced:

"Isaac, I'll make good to you some other way. I swear I will--I swear
it! If I'm caught at this I'll--I'll get fifteen years for it."

"And which would you rather have?" Jimmie Dale could picture the oily
smirk, the shrug of his shoulders, the outthrust hands, palms upward,
elbows in at the hips, the fingers curved and wide apart--"fifteen
years, or what you get--for murder? Eh, my friend, you have thought of
that--eh? It is a very little price I ask--yes?"

"Damn you!" Burton's voice was shrill, then dropped to a half sob. "No,
no, Isaac, I didn't mean that. Only, for God's sake be merciful! It is
not only the risk of the penitentiary; it's more than that. I--I tried
to play white all my life, and until that cursed night there's no man
living could say I haven't. You know that--you know that, Isaac. I tell
you I couldn't do it this afternoon--I tell you I couldn't. I tried to
and--and I couldn't."

Jimmie Dale was lying flat on the little landing now, peering into the
room. Back a short distance from the doorway, a repulsive-looking
little man in unkempt clothes and soiled linen, with yellowish-skinned,
parchment face, out of which small black eyes shone cunningly and
shrewdly, sat at a bare deal table in a rickety chair; facing him across
the table stood a young man of not more than twenty-five, clean cut,
well dressed, but whose face was unnaturally white now, and whose hand,
as he extended it in a pleading gesture toward the other, trembled
visibly. Jimmie Dale's hand made its way quietly to his side pocket and
extracted his automatic.

Old Isaac humped his shoulders, and leered at his visitor.

"We talk a great deal, my young friend. What is the use? A bargain is
a bargain. A few rubies in exchange for your life. A few rubies and my
mouth is shut. Otherwise"--he humped his shoulders again. "Well?"

Burton drew back, swept his hand in a dazed way across his eyes--and
laughed out suddenly in bitter mirth.

"A few rubies!" he cried. "The most magnificent stones on this side of
the water--a FEW rubies! It's been Maddon's life hobby. Every child in
New York knows that! A few--yes, there's only a few--but those few are
worth a fortune. He trusts me, the man has been like a father to me,

"So you are the very last to be suspected," observed old Isaac suavely.
"Have I not told you that? There is nothing to fear. Did we not arrange
everything so nicely--eh, my young friend? See, it was to-night that
Maddon gives a little reception to his friends, and did you not say that
the rubies would be taken from the safe-deposit vault this afternoon
since his friends always clamoured to see them as a very fitting
conclusion to an evening's entertainment? And did you not say that you
very naturally had access to the safe in the library where you worked,
and that he would not notice they were gone until he came to look
for them some time this evening? I think you said all that. And what
suspicion let alone proof, would attach itself to you? You were out of
the room once when he, too, was absent for perhaps half an hour. It
is very simple. In that half hour, some one, somehow, abstracted them.
Certainly it was not you. You see how little I ask--and I pay well, do I
not? And so I gave you until to-night. Three days have gone, and I have
said nothing, and the body has not been found--eh? But to-night--eh--it
was understood! The rubies--or the chair."

Burton's lips moved, but it was a moment before he could speak.

"You wouldn't dare!" he whispered thickly. "You wouldn't dare! I'd tell
the story of--of what you tried to make me do, and they'd send you up
for it."

Old Isaac shrugged with pitying contempt.

"Is it, after all, a fool I am dealing with!" he sneered. "And I--what
should I say? That you had stolen the stones from your employer and
offered them as a bribe to silence me, and that I had refused. The very
act of handing you over to the police would prove the truth of what I
said and rob you of even a chance of leniency--FOR THAT OTHER THING. Is
it not so--eh? And why did I not hand you over at once three nights ago?
Believe me, my young friend, I should have a very good reason ready, a
dozen, if necessary, if it came to that. But we are borrowing trouble,
are we not? We shall not come to that--eh?"

For a moment it seemed to Jimmie Dale, as he watched, that Burton would
hurl himself upon the other. White to the lips, the muscles of his face
twitching, Burton clenched his fists and leaned over the table--and
then, with sudden revulsion of emotion, he drew back once more, and once
more came that choked sob:

"You'll pay for this, Isaac--your turn will come for this!

"I have been threatened very often," snapped the other contemptuously.
"Bah, what are threats! I laugh at them--as I always will." Then, with
a quick change of front, his voice a sudden snarl: "Well, we have
talked enough. You have your choice. The stones or--eh? And it is

The old pawnbroker sprawled back in his chair, a cunning leer on his
vicious face, a gleam of triumph, greed, in the beady, ratlike eyes that
never wavered from the other. Burton, moisture oozing from his forehead,
stood there, hesitant, staring back at old Isaac, half in a fascinated
gaze, half as though trying to read some sign of weakness in the bestial
countenance that confronted him. And then, very slowly, in an automatic,
machine-like way, his hand groped into the inside pocket of his
vest--and old Isaac cackled out in derision.

"So! You thought you could bluff me, eh--you thought you could fool old
Isaac! Bah! I read you like a book! Did I not tell you a while back that
you had them in your pocket? I know your kind, my young friend; I know
your kind very well indeed--it is my business. You would not have
dared to come here to-night without the price. So! You took them this
afternoon as we agreed. Yes, yes; you did well. You will not regret it.
And now let me see them"--his voice rose eagerly--"let me see them now,
my young friend."

"Yes, I took them." Burton spoke listlessly. "God help me!"

Old Isaac, quivering, excited, like a different creature now, sprang
from his chair, and, as Burton drew a long, flat, leather case from
his pocket, snatched it from the other's hand. His fingers in their
rapacious haste could not at first manipulate the catch, and then
finally, with the case open, he bent over the table feverishly. The
light reflected back as from some living mass of crimson fire, now
shading darkly, now glowing into wondrous, colourful transparency as he
moved the case to and fro with jerky motions of his hands--and he was
babbling, crooning to himself like one possessed.

"Ah, the little beauties! Ah, the pretty little things! Yes, yes; these
are the ones! This is the great Aracon--see, see, the six-sided prism
terminated by the six-sided pyramid. But it must be cut--it must be cut
to sell it, eh? Ah, it is too bad--too bad! And this, this one here, I
know them all, this is--"

But his sentence was never finished--it was Jimmie Dale, on his feet
now, leaning against the jamb of the door, his automatic covering the
two men at the table, who spoke.

"Quite so, Isaac," he said coolly; "you know them all! Quite so,
Isaac--but be good enough to DROP them!"

The case fell from Isaac's hand, the flush on his cheeks died to a
sickly pallor, and, his mouth half open, he stood like a man turned to
stone, his hands with curved fingers still outstretched over the table,
over the crimson gems that, spilled from the case, lay scattered now
on the tabletop. Burton neither spoke nor moved--a little whiter, the
misery in his face almost apathetic, he moistened his lips with the tip
of his tongue.

Jimmie Dale walked across the room, halted at the end of the table,
and surveyed the two men grimly. And then, while one hand with revolver
extended rested easily on the table, the other gathered up the stones,
placed them in the case, and, the case in his pocket, Jimmie Dale's lips
parted in an uninviting smile.

"I guess I'm in luck to-night, eh, Isaac?" he drawled. "Between you and
your young friend, as I believe you call him, it would appear as though
I had fallen on my feet. That Aracon's worth--what would you say?--a
hundred, two hundred thousand alone, eh? A very famous stone, that--had
your eye on it for quite a time, Isaac, you miserable blood leech, eh?"

Isaac did not answer; but, while he still held back from the table, he
seemed to be regaining a little of his composure--burglars of whatever
sort were no novelty to him--and was staring fixedly at Jimmie Dale.

"Can't place me--though there's not many in the profession you don't
know? Is that it?" inquired Jimmie Dale softly. "Well, don't try, Isaac;
it's hardly worth your while. I'VE got the stones now, and--"

"Wait! Wait! Listen!" It was Burton, speaking for the first time, his
words coming in a quick, nervous rush. "Listen! You don't--"

"Hold your tongue!" cried old Isaac, with sudden fierceness. "You are a
fool!" He leaned toward Jimmie Dale, a crafty smile on his face, quite
in control of himself once more. "Don't listen to him--listen to me.
You're right. I can't place you, and it doesn't make any difference"--he
took a step forward--"but--"

"Not too close, Isaac!" snapped Jimmie Dale sharply. "I know YOU!"

"So!" ejaculated old Isaac, rubbing his hands together. "So! That is
good! That is what I want. Listen, we will make a bargain. We are birds
of a feather, eh? All thieves, eh? You've got the drop on us who did all
the work, but you'll give us our share--eh? Listen! You couldn't get rid
of those stones alone. You know that; you're not so green at the game,
eh? You'd have to go to some one. You know me; you know old Isaac, you
say. Well, then, you know there isn't another man in New York could
dispose of those rubies and play SAFE doing it except me. I'll make a
good bargain with you."

"Isaac," said Jimmie Dale pensively, "you've made a good many 'good'
bargains. I wonder when you'll make your last! There's more than one
looking for 'interest' on those bargains in a pretty grim sort of way."

"Bah!" ejaculated old Isaac. "It is an old story. They are all alike. I
am afraid of none of them. I hold them all like--THAT!" His hand opened
and closed like a taloned claw.

"And you'd add me to the lot, eh?" said Jimmie Dale. He lifted the
revolver, its muzzle on old Isaac, examined the mechanism thoughtfully,
and lowered it again. "Very well, I'll make a bargain with
you--providing it is agreeable to your young friend here."

"Ah!" exclaimed old Isaac shrilly. "So! That is good! It is done then."
He chuckled hoarsely. "Any bargain I make he will agree to. Is it not
so?" He fixed his eyes on Burton. "Well, is it not so? Speak up! Say--"

He stopped--the words cut short off on his lips. It came without
warning--a crash, a pound on the door below--another.

Burton shrank back against the wall.

"My God! The police!" he gasped. "Maddon's found out! We're--we're

Jimmie Dale's eyes, on old Isaac, narrowed. The pounding in the alleyway
grew louder, more insistent. And then his first suspicion passed--it
was no "game" of Isaac's. Crafty though the old fox was, the other's
surprise and agitation was too genuine to be questioned.

Still the pounding continued--some one was kicking viciously at the
door, and banging a tattoo on the panels with his fists.

Old Isaac's clawlike hands doubled suddenly.

"It is some drunken sot," he snarled out, "that knows no better than to
come here and rouse the whole neighbourhood! It is true, in a moment we
will have the police running in from the street. But wait--wait--I'll
teach the fool a lesson!" He dashed around the table, ran for the
window, wrenched the catch up, flung the window open, and, snarling
again, leaned out--and instantly the knocking ceased.

And instantly then, with a sharp cry, as the whole ghastly meaning of it
swept upon him, Jimmie sprang after the other--too late! Came the
roar of a revolver shot, a stream of flame cutting the darkness of the
alleyway from the window in the house opposite--and, without a sound,
old Isaac crumpled up, hung limply for a moment over the sill, and slid
in a heap to the floor.

On his hands and knees, protected from the possibility of another bullet
by the height of the sill, Jimmie Dale, quick in every movement now,
dragged the inert form toward the table away from the window, and bent
hurriedly over the other. A minute perhaps he stayed there--and then
rose slowly.

Burton, horror-stricken, unmanned, beside himself, was hanging,
clutching with both hands at the table edge.

"He's dead," said Jimmie Dale laconically.

Burton flung out his hands.

"Dead!" he whispered hoarsely. "I--I think I'm going mad. Three days of
hell--and now this. We'd--we'd better get out of here quick--they'll get
us if--"

Jimmie Dale's hand fell with a tight grip on Burton's shoulder.

"There won't be any more shots fired--pull yourself together!"

Burton stared at him in a demented way.

"What's--what's it mean?" he stammered.

"It means that I didn't put two and two together," said Jimmie Dale a
little bitterly. "It means that there's a dozen crooks been dancing
old Isaac's tune for a long time--and that some of them have got him at

Burton reached out suddenly and clutched Jimmie Dale's arm.

"Then I'm safe!" He mumbled the words, but there was dawning hope,
relief in his white face. "Safe! I'm safe--if you'll only give me back
those stones. Give them back to me, for God's sake give them back to me!
You don't know--you don't understand. I stole them because--because he
made me--because I--it was the only chance I had. Oh, my God, you don't
know what the last three days have been! Give them back to me, won't
you--won't you? You--you don't know!"

"Don't lose your nerve!" said Jimmie Dale sharply. "Sit down!" He pushed
the other into the chair. "There's no one will disturb us here for some
time at least. What is it that I don't know? That three nights ago
you were in a gambling hell, Sagosto's, to be exact, one of the most
disreputable in New York--and you went there on the invitation of a
stray acquaintance, a man named Perley--shall I describe him for you? A
short, slim-built man, black eyes, red hair, beard, and--"

"YOU know that!" The misery, the hopelessness was back in Burton's face
again--and suddenly he bent over the table and buried his head in his
outflung arms.

There was silence for a moment. Tight-lipped, Jimmie Dale's eyes
travelled from Burton's shaking shoulders to the motionless form on the
floor. Then he spoke again:

"You're a bit of a rounder, Burton, but I think you've had a lesson that
will last you all your life. You were half-drunk when you and Perley
began to hobnob over a downtown bar. He said he'd show you some real
life, and you went with him to Sagosto's. He gave you a revolver before
you went in, and told you the place wasn't safe for an unarmed man. He
introduced you to Sagosto, the proprietor, and you were shown to a
back room. You drank quite a little there. You and Perley were alone,
throwing dice. You got into a quarrel. Perley tried to draw his
revolver. You were quicker. You drew the one he had given you--and
fired. He fell to the floor--you saw the blood gush from his breast just
above the heart--he was dead. In a panic you rushed from the place and
out into the street. I don't think you went home that night."

Burton raised his head, showing his haggard face.

"I guess it's no use," he said dully. "If you know, others must. I
thought only Isaac and Sagosto knew. Why haven't I been arrested? I wish
to God I had--I wouldn't have had to-day to answer for."

"I am not through yet," said Jimmie Dale gravely. "The next day old
Isaac here sent for you. He said Sagosto had told him of the murder, and
had offered to dispose of the corpse and keep his mouth shut for fifty
thousand dollars--that no one in his place knew of it except himself.
Isaac, for his share, wanted considerably more. You told him you had no
such sums, that you had no money. He told you how you could get it--you
had access to Maddon's safe, you were Maddon's confidential
secretary, fully in your employer's trust, the last man on earth to be
suspected--and there were Maddon's famous, priceless rubies."

Jimmie Dale paused. Burton made no answer.

"And so," said Jimmie Dale presently, "to save yourself from the death
penalty you took them."

"Yes," said Burton, scarcely above his breath. "Are you an officer? If
you are, take me, have done with it! Only for Heaven's sake end it! If
you're not--"

Jimmie Dale was not listening. "The cupboard at the rear of the room,"
she had said. He walked across to it now, opened it, and, after a little
search, found a small bundle. He returned with it in his hand, and,
kneeling beside the dead man on the floor, his back to Burton, untied
it, took out a red wig and beard, and slipped them on to old Isaac's
head and face.

"I wonder," he said grimly, as he stood up, "if you ever saw this man

"My God--PERLEY!" With a wild cry, Burton was on his feet, straining
forward like a man crazed.

"Yes," said Jimmie Dale, "Perley! Sort of an ironic justice in his end
as far as you are concerned, isn't there? I think we'll leave him like
that--as Perley. It will provide the police with an interesting little
problem--which they will never solve, and--STEADY!"

Burton was rocking on his feet, the tears were streaming down his face.
He lurched heavily--and Jimmie Dale caught him, and pushed him back into
the chair again.

"I thought--I thought there was blood on my hands," said Burton brokenly;
"that--that I had taken a man's life. It was horrible, horrible! I've
lived through three days that I thought would drive me mad, while I--I
tried to do my work, and--and talk to people, just as if nothing had
happened. And every one that spoke to me seemed so carefree and happy,
and I would have sold my soul to have changed places with them." He
stared at the form on the floor, and shivered suddenly. "It--it was like
that I saw him last!" he whispered. "But--but I do not understand."

Jimmie Dale smiled a little wearily.

"It was simple enough," he said. "Old Isaac had had his eyes on those
rubies for a long time. The easiest way of getting them was through you.
The revolver he gave you before you entered Sagosto's was loaded with
blank cartridges, the blood you saw was the old, old trick--a punctured
bladder of red pigment concealed under the vest."

"Let us get out of here!" Burton shuddered again. "Let us get out of
here--at once--now. If we're found here, we'll be accused of--THAT!"

"There is no hurry," Jimmie Dale answered quietly. "I have told you that
no one is liable to come here to-night--and whoever did this certainly
will not raise an alarm. And besides, there is still the matter of the

"Yes," said Burton, with a quick intake of his breath.

"Yes--the rubies--what are you going to do with them? I--I had forgotten
them. You'll--" He stopped, stared at Jimmie Dale, and burst into a
miserable laugh. "I'm a fool, a blind fool!" he moaned. "It does not
matter what you do with them. I forgot Sagosto. When they find Isaac
here, Sagosto will either tell his story, which will be enough to
convict me of this night's work, the REAL murder, even though I'm
innocent; or else he'll blackmail me just as Isaac did."

Jimmie Dale shook his head.

"You are doing Isaac's cunning an injustice," he said grimly. "Sagosto
was only a tool, one of many that old Isaac had in his power--and, for
that matter, as likely as any one else to have had a hand in Isaac's
murder to-night. Sagosto saw you once when Isaac brought you into his
place--not because Isaac wanted Sagosto to see you, but because he
wanted YOU to see Sagosto. Do you understand? It would make the story
that Sagosto came to him with the tale of the murder the next day ring
true. Sagosto, however, did not go to old Isaac the next day to tell
about any fake murder--naturally. Sagosto would not know you again
from Adam--neither does he know anything about the rubies, nor what old
Isaac's ulterior motives were. He was paid for his share in the game in
old Isaac's usual manner of payment probably--by a threat of exposure
for some old-time offence, that Isaac held over him, if he didn't keep
his mouth shut."

Burton's hand brushed his eyes.

"Yes," he muttered. "Yes--I see it now."

Jimmie Dale stooped down, picked up the paper from the floor in which
the wig and beard had been wrapped, walked back with it, and replaced
it in the cupboard. And then, with his back to Burton again, he took
the case of gems from his pocket, opened it, and laid it on the cupboard
shelf. Also from his pocket came that thin metal case, and from the
case, with a pair of tweezers that obviated the possibility of telltale
finger prints, a gray, diamond-shaped piece of paper, adhesive on
one side that, cursed by the distracted authorities in every police
headquarters on both sides of the Atlantic, and raved at by a virulent
press whose printed reproductions had made it familiar in every
household in the land--was the insignia of the Gray Seal. He moistened
the adhesive side, dropped it from the tweezers to his handkerchief, and
pressed it down firmly on the inside of the cover of the jewel case. He
put both cases back in his pockets, and returned to Burton.

"Burton," he said a little sharply, "while I was outside that doorway
there, I heard you beg old Isaac to let you keep the rubies, and three
times already you have asked the same of me. What would you do with them
if I gave them back to you?"

Burton did not reply for a moment--he was gazing at the masked face in a
half-eager, half-doubtful way.

"You--you mean you will give them back!" he burst out finally.

"Answer my question," prompted Jimmie Dale.

"Do with them?" Burton repeated slowly. "Why, I've told you. They'd go
back to Mr. Maddon--I'd take them back."

"Would you?" Jimmie Dale's voice was quizzical.

A puzzled expression came to Burton's face.

"I don't know what you mean by that," he said. "Of course, I would!"

"How?" asked Jimmie Dale. "Do you know the combination of Mr. Maddon's

"No," said Burton

"And the safe would be locked, wouldn't it?"


"Quite so," said Jimmie Dale musingly. "Then, granted that Mr. Maddon
has not already discovered the theft, how would you replace the stones
before he does discover it? And if he already knows that they are gone,
how would you get them back into his hands?"

"Yes, I know," Burton answered a little listlessly. "I've thought of
that. There's only one way--to take them back to him myself, and make a
clean breast of it, and--" He hesitated.

"And tell him you stole them," supplied Jimmie Dale.

Burton nodded his head. "Yes," he said.

"And then?" prodded Jimmie Dale. "What will Maddon do? From what I've
heard of him, he's not a man to trifle with, nor a man to take an overly
complacent view of things--not the man whose philosophy is 'all's well
that ends well.'"

"What does it matter?" Burton's voice was low. "It isn't that so much.
I'm ready for that. It's the fact that he trusted me implicitly, and
I--well, I played the fool, or I'd never have got into a mess like

For an instant Jimmie Dale looked at the other searchingly, and then,
smiling strangely, he shook his head.

"There's a better way than that, Burton," he said quietly.

"I think, as I said before, you've had a lesson to-night that will last
you all your life. I'm going to give you another chance--with Maddon.
Here are the stones." He reached into his pocket and laid the case on
the table.

But now Burton made no effort to take the case--his eyes, in that
puzzled way again, were on Jimmie Dale.

"A better way?" he repeated tensely. "What do you mean? What way?"

"Well, say at the expense of another man's reputation--of mine,"
suggested Jimmie Dale, with his whimsical smile. "You need only say that
a man came to you this evening, told you that he stole these rubies from
Mr. Maddon during the afternoon, and asked you, as Mr. Maddon's private
secretary, to restore them with his compliments to their owner."

A slow flush of disappointment, deepening to one of anger dyed Burton's

"Are you trying to make a fool of me?" he cried out. "Go to Maddon with
a childish tale like that! There's no man living would believe such a
cock-and-bull story!"

"No?" inquired Jimmie Dale softly. "And yet I am inclined to think there
are a good many--that even Maddon would, hard-headed as he is. You
might say that when the man handed you the case you thought it was some
practical joke being foisted on you, until you opened the case"--Jimmie
Dale pushed it a little farther across the table, and Burton,
mechanically, his eyes still on Jimme Dale, loosened the catch with his
thumb nail--"until you opened the case, saw the rubies, and--"

"The Gray Seal!" Burton had snatched the case toward him, and was
straining his eyes at the inside cover. "You--the Gray Seal!"

"Well?" said Jimmie Dale whimsically.

Motionless, the case held open in his hands, Burton stood there.

"The Gray Seal!" he whispered. Then, with a catch in his voice: "You
mean this? You mean to let me have these back--you mean--you mean all
you've said? For God's sake, don't play with me--the Gray Seal, the most
notorious criminal in the country, to give back a fortune like this!

"Dog with a bad name," said Jimmie Dale, with a wry smile; then, a
little gruffly: "Put it in your pocket!"

Slowly, almost as though he expected the case to be snatched back from
him the next instant, Burton obeyed.

"I don't understand--I CAN'T understand!" he murmured. "They say that
you--and yet I believe you now--you've saved me from a ruined life
to-night. The Gray Seal! If--if every one knew what you had done,

"But every one won't," Jimmie Dale broke in bluntly, "Who is to tell
them? You? You couldn't very well, when you come to think of it--could
you? Well, who knows, perhaps there have been others like you!"

"You mean," said Burton excitedly, "you mean that all these crimes of
yours that have seemed without motive, that have been so inexplicable,
have really been like to-night to--"

"I don't mean anything at all," interposed Jimmie Dale a little
hurriedly. "Nothing, Burton--except that there is still one little thing
more to do to bolster up that 'childish' story of mine--and then get
out of here." He glanced sharply, critically around the room, his eyes
resting for a moment at the last on the form on the floor. Then tersely:
"I am going to turn out the light--we will have to pass the window to
get to the door, and we will invite no chances. Are you ready?"

"No; not yet," said Burton eagerly. "I haven't said what I'd like to say
to you, what I--"

"Walk straight to the door," said Jimmie Dale curtly. There was the
click of an electric-light switch, and the room was in darkness. "Now,
no noise!" he instructed.

And Burton, perforce, made his way across the room--and at the door
Jimmie Dale joined him and led him down the short flight of stairs. At
the bottom, he opened the door leading into the rear of the pawnshop
itself, and, bidding Burton follow, entered.

"We can't risk even a match; it could be seen from the street," he said
brusquely, as he fumbled around for a moment in the darkness. "Ah--here
it is!" He lifted a telephone receiver from its hook, and gave a number.

Burton caught him quickly by the arm.

"Good Lord, man, what are you doing?" he protested anxiously. "That's
Mr. Maddon's house!"

"So I believe," said Jimmie Dale complacently. "Hello! Is Mr. Maddon
there? . . . I beg pardon? . . . Personally, yes, if you please."

There was a moment's wait. Burton's hand was still nervously clutching
at Jimmie Dale's sleeve. Then:

"Mr. Maddon?" asked Jimmie Dale pleasantly. "Yes? . . . I am very sorry
to trouble you, but I called you up to inquire if you were aware that
your rubies, and among them your Aracon, had been stolen? . . . I beg
pardon! . . . Rubies--yes. . . . You weren't. . . . Oh, no, I am quite
in my right mind; if you will take the trouble to open your safe you
will find they are gone--shall I hold the line while you investigate?
. . . What? . . . Don't shout, please--and stand a little farther away
from the mouthpiece." Jimmie Dale's tone was one of insolent composure
now. "There is really no use in getting excited. . . . I beg pardon? . . .
Certainly, this is the Gray Seal speaking. . . . What?" Jimmie Dale's
voice grew plaintive, "I really can't make out a word when you yell like
that. . . . Yes. . . . I had occasion to use them this afternoon, and I
took the liberty of borrowing them temporarily--are you still there, Mr.
Maddon? . . . Oh, quite so! Yes, I hear you NOW. . . . No, that is
all, only I am returning them through your private secretary, a very
estimable young man, though I fear somewhat excitable and shaky, who is
on his way to you with them now. . . . WHAT'S THAT YOU SAY? You repeat
that," snapped Jimmie Dale suddenly, icily, "and I'll take them
from under your nose again before morning! . . . Ah! That is better!
Good-night--Mr. Maddon."

Jimmie Dale hung up the receiver and shoved Burton toward the door.

"Now then, Burton, we'll get out of her--and the sooner you reach Fifth
Avenue and Mr. Maddon's house the better. No; not that way!" They had
reached the hall, and Burton had turned toward the side door that opened
on the alleyway. "Whoever they were who settled their last account with
Isaac may still be watching. They've nothing against any one else,
but they know some one was in here at the time, and, if the police
are clever enough ever to get on their track, they might find it
very convenient to be able to say WHO was in the room when Isaac was
murdered--there's nothing to show, since Isaac so obligingly opened the
window for them, that the shot was fired THROUGH the window and not from
the inside of the room. And even if they have already taken to their
heels"--Jimmie Dale was leading Burton up the stairs again as he
talked--"it might prove exceedingly inconvenient for us if some
passer-by should happen to recollect that he saw two men of our general
appearance leaving the premises. Now keep close--and follow me."

They passed the door of Isaac's den, turned down a narrow corridor that
led to the rear of the house--Jimmie Dale guiding unerringly, working
from the mental map of the house that the Tocsin had drawn for
him--descended another short flight of stairs that gave on the kitchen,
crossed the kitchen, and Jimmie Dale opened a back door. He paused here
for a moment to listen; then, cautioning Burton to be silent, moved on
again across a small back yard and through a gate into a lane that
ran at right angles to the alleyway by which both had entered the
house--and, a minute later, they were crouched against a building, a
half block away, where the lane intersected the cross street.

Here Jimmie Dale peered out cautiously. There was no one in sight. He
touched Burton's shoulder, and pointed down the street.

"That's your way, Burton--mine's the other. Hurry while you've got the
chance. Good-night."

Burton's hand reached out, caught Jimmie Dale's, and wrung it.

"God bless you!" he said huskily. "I--"

And Jimmie Dale pushed him out on to the street.

Burton's steps receded down the sidewalk. Jimmie Dale still crouched
against the wall. The steps grew fainter in the distance and died
finally away. Jimmie Dale straightened up, slipped the mask from his
face to his pocket, stepped out on the street--and five minutes later
was passing through the noisy bedlam of the Hungarian restaurant on his
way to the front door and his car.

"SONNEZ LE TOCSIN," Jimmie Dale was saying softly to himself. "I wonder
what she'll do when she finds I've got the ring?"



The Tocsin! By neither act, sign, nor word had she evidenced the
slightest interest in that ring--and yet she must know, she certainly
must know that it was now in his possession. Jimmie Dale was
disappointed. Somehow, he had counted more than he had cared to admit on
developments from that ring.

He pulled a little viciously at his cigarette, as he stared out of the
St. James Club window. That was how long ago? Ten days? Yes; this would
be the eleventh. Eleven days now and no word from her--eleven days since
that night at old Isaac's, since she had last called him, the Gray Seal,
to arms. It was a long while--so long a while even that what had come
to be his prerogative in the newspapers, the front page with three-inch
type recounting some new exploit of that mysterious criminal the Gray
Seal, was being usurped. The papers were howling now about what they,
for the lack of a better term, were pleased to call a wave of crime that
had inundated New York, and of which, for once, the Gray Seal was not
the storm centre, but rather, for the moment, forgotten.

He drew back from the window, and, settling himself again in the big
leather lounging chair, resumed the perusal of the evening paper. His
eye fell on what was common to every edition now, a crime editorial--and
the paper crackled suddenly under the long, slim, tapering fingers,
so carefully nurtured, whose sensitive tips a hundred times had made
mockery of the human ingenuity squandered on the intricate mechanism
of safes and vaults. No; he was wrong--the Gray Seal had not been

"We should not be surprised," wrote the editor virulently, "to discover
at the bottom of these abominable atrocities that the guiding spirit,
in fact, was the Gray Seal--they are quite worthy even of his diabolical
disregard for the laws of God and man."

Jimmie Dale's lips straightened ominously, and an angry glint crept into
his dark, steady eyes. There was nothing then, nothing too vile that,
in the public's eyes, could not logically be associated with the Gray
Seal--even this! A series of the most cold-blooded, callous murders
and robberies, the work, on the face of it, of a well-organized band
of thugs, brutal, insensate, little better than fiends, though clever
enough so far to have evaded capture, clever enough, indeed, to have
kept the police still staggering and gasping after a clew for one
murder--while another was in the very act of being committed! The Gray
Seal! What exquisite irony! And yet, after all, the papers were not
wholly to blame for what they said; he had invited much of it. Seeming
crimes of the Gray Seal had apparently been genuine beyond any question
of doubt, as he had intended them to appear, as in the very essence of
their purpose they had to be.

Yes; he had invited much--he and she together--the Tocsin and himself.
He, Jimmie Dale, millionaire, clubman, whose name for generations in
New York had been the family pride, was "wanted" as the Gray Seal for so
many "crimes" that he had lost track of them himself--but from any one
of which, let the identity of the Gray Seal be once solved, there was
and could be no escape! What exquisite irony--yet full, too, of the most
deadly consequences!

Once more Jimmie Dale's eyes sought the paper, and this time scanned the
headlines of the first page:





Jimmie Dale read on--and as he read there came again that angry set to
his lips. The details were not pleasant. Herman Roessle, the paymaster
of the Martindale-Kensington Mills, whose plant was on the Hudson, had
gone that morning in his runabout to the nearest town, three miles away,
for the monthly pay roll; had secured the money from the bank, a sum of
twenty-odd thousand dollars; and had started back with it for the
mill. At first, it being broad daylight and a well-frequented road, his
nonappearance caused no apprehension; but as early afternoon came and
there was still no sign of Roessle the mill management took alarm.
Discovering that he had left the bank for the return journey at a few
minutes before eleven, and that nothing had been seen of him at his
home, the police were notified. Followed then several hours of fruitless
search, until finally, with the whole countryside aroused and the
efforts of the police augumented by private search parties, the car was
found in a thicket at the edge of a crossroad some four miles back from
the river, and, a little way from the car, the body of Roessle, dead,
the man's head crushed in where it had been fiendishly battered by some
blunt, heavy object. There was no clew--no one could be found who had
seen the car on the crossroad--the murderer, or murderers, and the
twenty-odd thousand dollars in cash had disappeared leaving no trace

There were several columns of this, which Jimmie Dale skimmed through
quickly; but at the end he stared for a long time at the last paragraph.
Somehow, strange, to relate, the paper had neglected to turn its "sob"
artist loose, and the few words, added almost as though they were
an afterthought, for once rang true and full of pathos in their very
simplicity--at the Roessle home, where Mrs. Roessle was prostrated,
two little tots of five and seven, too young to understand, had gravely
received the reporter and told him that some bad man had hurt their

"Mr. Dale, sir!"

Jimmie Dale lowered his paper. A club attendant was standing before him,
respectfully extending a silver card tray. From the man, Jimmie Dale's
eyes fixed on a white envelope on the tray. One glance was enough--it
was HERS, that letter. The Tocsin again! His brain seemed suddenly to be
afire, and he could feel his pulse quicken, the blood begin to pound
in fierce throbs at his heart. Life and death lay in that white,
innocent-looking, unaddressed envelope, danger, peril--it was always
life and death, for those were the stakes for which the Tocsin played.
But, master of many things, Jimmie Dale was most of all master of
himself. Not a muscle of his face moved. He reached nonchalantly for the

"Thank you," said Jimmie Dale.

The man bowed and started away. Jimmie Dale laid the envelope on the
arm of the lounging chair. The man had reached the door when Jimmie Dale
stopped him.

"Oh, by the way," said Jimmie Dale languidly, "where did this come

"Your chauffeur, sir," replied the other. "Your chauffeur gave it to the
hall porter a moment ago, sir."

"Thank you," said Jimmie Dale again.

The door closed.

Jimmie Dale glanced around the room. It was the caution of habit, that
glance; the habit of years in which his life had hung on little things.
He was alone in one of the club's private library rooms. He picked up
the envelope, tore it open, took out the folded sheets inside, and began
to read. At the first words he leaned forward, suddenly tense in his
chair. He read on, turning the pages hurriedly, incredulity, amazement,
and, finally, a strange menace mirroring itself in turn upon his face.

He stood up--the letter in his hand.

"My God!" whispered Jimmie Dale.

It was a call to arms such as the Gray Seal had never received
before--such as the Tocsin had never made before. And if it were true
it--True! He laughed aloud a little gratingly. True! Had the Tocsin,
astounding, unbelievable, mystifying as were the means by which she
acquired her knowledge not only of this, but of countless other affairs,
ever by so much as the smallest detail been astray. If it were true!

He pulled out his watch. It was half-past nine. Benson, his chauffeur,
had sent the letter into the club. Benson had been waiting outside
there ever since dinner. Jimmie Dale, for the first time since the
first communication that he had ever received from the Tocsin, did not
immediately destroy her letter now. He slipped it into his pocket--and
stepped quickly from the room.

In the cloakroom downstairs he secured his hat and overcoat, and,
though it was a warm evening, put on the latter since he was in evening
clothes, then walked leisurely out of the club.

At the curb, Benson, the chauffeur, sprang from his seat, and, touching
his cap, opened the door of a luxurious limousine.

Jimmie Dale shook his head.

"I shall not keep you waiting any longer, Benson," he said. "You may
take the car home, and put it up. I shall probably be late to-night."

"Very good, sir," replied the chauffeur.

"You sent in a letter a moment or so ago, Benson?" observed Jimmie Dale
casually, opening his cigarette case.

"Yes, sir," said Benson. "I hope I didn't do wrong, sir. He said it was
important, and that you were to have it at once."

"He?" Jimmie Dale was lighting his cigarette now.

"A boy, sir," Benson amplified. "I couldn't get anything out of him. He
just said he'd been told to give it to me, and tell me to see that you
got it at once. I hope, sir, I haven't--"

"Not at all, Benson," said Jimmie Dale pleasantly. "It's quite all
right. Good-night, Benson."

"Good-night, sir," Benson answered, climbing back to his seat.

There was a queer little smile on Jimmie Dale's lips, as he watched the
great car swing around in the street and glide noiselessly away--a queer
little smile that still held there even after he himself had started
briskly along the avenue in a downtown direction. It was invariably the
same, always the same--the letters came unexpectedly, when least
looked for, now by this means, now by that, but always in a manner that
precluded the slightest possibility of tracing them to their source. Was
there anything, in his intimate surroundings, in his intimate life,
that she did not know about him--who knew absolutely nothing about her!
Benson, for instance--that the man was absolutely trustworthy--or else
she would never for an instant have risked the letter in his possession.
Was there anything that she did not--yes, one thing--she did not know
him in the role he was going to play to-night. That at least was one
thing that surely she did not know about him; the role in which, many
times, for weeks on end, he had devoted himself body and soul in an
attempt to solve the mystery with which she surrounded herself; the
role, too, that often enough had been a bulwark of safety to him when
hard pressed by the police; the role out of which he had so carefully,
so painstakingly created a now recognised and well-known character of
the underworld--the role of Larry the Bat.

Jimmie Dale turned from Fifth Avenue into Broadway, continued on down
Broadway, across to the Bowery, kept along the Bowery for several more
blocks--and finally headed east into the dimly lighted cross street on
which the Sanctuary was located.

And now Jimmie Dale became cautious in his movements. As he approached
the black alleyway that flanked the miserable tenement, he glanced
sharply behind and about him; and, at the alleyway itself, without
pause, but with a curious lightning-like side step, no longer Jimmie
Dale now, but the Gray Seal, he disappeared from the street, and was
lost in the deep shadows of the building.

In a moment he was at the side door, listening for any sound from
within--none had ever seen or met the lodger or the first floor either
ascending or descending, except in the familiar character of Larry
the Bat. He opened the door, closed it behind him, and in the utter
blackness went noiselessly up the stairs--stairs so rickety that it
seemed a mouse's tread alone would have set them creaking. There seemed
an art in the play of Jimmie Dale's every muscle; in the movements,
lithe, balanced, quick, absolutely silent. On the first landing he
stopped before another door, there was the faint click of a key turning
in the lock; and then this door, too, closed behind him. Sounded the
faint click of the key as it turned again, and Jimmie Dale drew a long
breath, stepped across the room to assure himself that the window blind
was down, and lighted the gas jet.

A yellow, murky flame spurted up, pitifully weak, almost as though it
were ashamed of its disreputable surroundings. Dirt, disorder, squalour,
the evidence of low living testified eloquently enough to any one,
the police, for instance, in times past inquisitive until they were
fatuously content with the belief that they knew the occupant for what
he was, that the place was quite in keeping with its tenant, a mute
prototype, as it were, of Larry the Bat, the dope fiend.

For a little space, Jimmie Dale, immaculate in his evening clothes,
stood in the centre of the miserable room, his dark eyes, keen, alert,
critical, sweeping comprehensively over every object about him--the
position of a chair, of a cracked drinking glass on the broken-legged
table, of an old coat thrown with apparent carelessness on the floor at
the foot of the bed, of a broken bottle that had innocently strewn some
sort of white powder close to the threshold, inviting unwary foot tracks
across the floor. And then, taking out the Tocsin's letter, he laid it
upon the table, placed what money he had in his pockets beside it, and
began rapidly to remove his clothes. The Sanctuary had not been invaded
since his last visit there.

He turned back the oilcloth in the far corner of the room, took up the
piece of loose flooring, which, however, strangely enough, fitted
so closely as to give no sign of its existence even should it
inadvertently, by some curious visitor again be trod upon; and from the
aperture beneath lifted out a bundle of clothes and a small box.

Undressed now, he carefully folded the clothes he had taken off, laid
them under the flooring, and began to dress again, his wardrobe supplied
by the bundle he had taken out in exchange--an old pair of shoes, the
laces broken; mismated socks; patched trousers, frayed at the bottoms; a
soiled shirt, collarless, open at the neck. Attired to his satisfaction,
he placed the box upon the table, propped up a cracked mirror, sat down
in front of it, and, with a deft, artist's touch, began to apply stain
to his hands, wrists, neck, throat, and face--but the hardness, the grim
menace that now grew into the dominant characteristic of his features
was not due to the stain alone.

"Dear Philanthropic Crook"--his eyes were on the Tocsin's letter that
lay before him. He read on--for once, even to Jimmie Dale's keen, facile
mind, a first reading had failed to convey the full significance of what
she had written. It was too amazing, almost beyond belief--the series of
crimes, rampant for the past few weeks, at which the community had
stood aghast, the brutal murder of Roessle but a few hours old, lay bare
before his eyes. It was all there, all of it, the details, the hellish
cleverness, the personnel even of the thugs, all, everything--except the

"Get him, Jimmie--the man higher up. Get him, Jimmie--before another
pays forfeit with his life"--the words seemed to leap out at him from
the white page in red, dancing lines--"Get him--Jimmie--the man higher

Jimmie Dale finished the second reading of the letter, read it again
for the third time, then tore it into tiny fragments. His fingers delved
into the box again, and the transformation of Jimmie Dale, member of New
York's most exclusive social set, into a low, vicious-featured denizen
of the underworld went on--a little wax applied skilfully behind the
ears, in the nostrils and under the upper lip.

It was all there--all except the proof. And the proof--he laughed aloud
suddenly, unpleasantly. There seemed something sardonic in it; ay, more
than that, all that was grim in irony. The proof, in Stangeist's own
writing, sworn to before witnesses in the presence of a notary, the
text of the document, of course, unknown to both witnesses and notary,
evidence, absolute and final, that would be admitted in any court, for
Stangeist was a lawyer, and would see to that, was in Stangeist's own
safe, for Stangeist's own protection--Stangeist, who was himself the
head and brains of this murder gang--Stangeist, who was the man higher

It was amazing, without parallel in the history of crime--and yet
ingenious, clever, full of the craft and cunning that had built up the
shyster lawyer's reputation below the dead line.

Jimmie Dale's lips were curiously thin now. So it was Stangeist! A
Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with a vengeance! He knew Stangeist--not
personally; not by the reputation Stangeist held, low even as that was,
among his brother members of the profession; but as the man was known
for what he really was among the crooks and criminals of the underworld,
where, in that strange underground exchange, whispered confidences
passed between those whose common enemy was the law, where Larry the Bat
himself was trusted in the innermost circles.

Stangeist was a power in the Bad Lands. There were few among that unholy
community that Stangeist, at one time or another, in one way or another,
had not rescued from the clutches of the law, resorting to any trick or
cunning, but with perjury, that he could handle like the master of
it that he was, employed as the most common weapon of defence for his
clients--provided he were paid well enough for it. The man had become
more than the attorney for the crime world--he had become part of
it. Cunning, shrewd, crafty, conscienceless, cold-blooded--that was

The form and features of the man pictured themselves in Jimmie Dale's
mind--the six-foot muscular frame, that was invariably clothed in attire
of the most fashionable cut; the thin lips with their oily, plausible
smile, the straight black hair that straggled into pin point, little
black eyes, the dark face with its high cheek bones, which, with the
pronounced aquiline nose and the persistent rumour that he was a
quarter caste, had led the underworld, prejudiced always in favour of a
"monaker," to dub the man the "Indian Chief."

Jimmie Dale laughed again--still unpleasantly. So Stangeist had taken
the plunge at last and branched out into a wider field, had he? Well,
there was nothing surprising in that--except that he had not done it
before! The irony of it lay in the fact that at last he had been TOO
clever, overstepped himself in his own cleverness, that was all. It was
Australian Ike, The Mope, and Clarie Deane that Stangeist had gathered
around him, the Tocsin had said--and there were none worse in Larry the
Bat's wide range of acquaintanceship than those three. Stangeist had
made himself master of Australian Ike, The Mope, and Clarie Deane--and
he had driven them a little too hard on the division of the spoils--and
laughed at them, and cracked the whip much after the fashion that the
trainer in the cage handles the growling beasts around him.

A dozen of the crimes that had appalled and staggered New York they had
committed under his leadership; and then, it seemed, they had quarrelled
furiously, the three pitted against Stangeist, threatening him,
demanding a more equitable share of the proceeds. None was better aware
than Stangeist that threats from men of their calibre were likely to
result in a grim aftermath--and Stangeist, yesterday, the Tocsin said,
had answered them as no other man than Stangeist would either have
thought of or have dared to do. One by one, at separate times, covering
the other with a revolver, Stangeist had permitted them to read
a document that was addressed to the district attorney. It was a
confession, complete in every detail, of every crime the four together
had committed, implicating Stangeist as fully and unreservedly as it
did the other three. It required no commentary! If anything happened
to Stangeist, a stab in the dark, for instance, a bullet from some dark
alleyway, a blackjack deftly wielded, as only Australian Ike, The Mope
or Clarie Deane knew how to wield it--the document automatically became
a DEATH SENTENCE for Australian Ike, The Mope, and Clarie Deane!

It was very simple--and, evidently, it had been effective, as witness
the renewal of their operations in the murder of Roessle that afternoon.
Fear and avarice had both probably played their part; fear of the man
who would with such consummate nerve fling his life into the balance
to turn the tables upon them, while he jeered at them; avarice that
prompted them to get what they could out of Stangeist's brains and
leadership, and to be satisfied with what they COULD get--since they
could get no more!

Satisfied? Jimmie Dale shook his head. No; that was hardly the
word--cowed, perhaps, for the moment, would be better. But afterward,
with a document like that in existence, when they would never be safe
for an instant--well, beasts in the cages had been known to get the
better of the man with the whip, and beasts were gentle things compared
with Australian Ike, The Mope, and Clarie Deane! Some day they would
reverse the tables on the Indian Chief--if they could. And if they
couldn't it would not be for the lack of trying.

There would be another act in that drama of the House Divided before the
curtain fell! And there would be a sort of grim, poetic justice in it, a
temptation almost to let the play work itself out to its own inevitable
conclusion, only--Jimmie Dale, the final touches given to his features,
stood up, and his hands clenched suddenly, fiercely--it was not just the
man higher up alone, there were the other three as well, the whole
four of them, all of them, crimes without number at their door, brutal,
fiendish acts, damnable outrages, murder to answer for, with which the
public now was beginning to connect the name of the Gray Seal! The Gray

Jimmie Dale's hands, whose delicate fingers were artfully grimed and
blackened now beneath the nails, clenched still tighter--and then, with
a quick shrug of his shoulders, a thinning of the firmly compressed
lips, he picked up the coat from where it lay upon the floor, put it on,
put the money that was on the table in his pocket, and replaced the box
under the flooring.

In quick succession, from the same hiding place, an automatic, a black
silk mask, an electric flashlight, that thin metal box like a cigarette
case, and a half dozen vicious-looking little blued-steel burglar's
tools were stowed away in his pockets, the flooring carefully replaced,
the oilcloth spread back again; and then, pulling a slouch hat well down
over his eyes, he reached up to turn off the gas.

For an instant his hand held there, while his eyes, sweeping around the
apartment, took in every single detail about him in that same alert,
comprehensive way as when he had entered--then the room was in darkness,
and the Gray Seal, as Larry the Bat, a shuffling, unkempt creature
of the underworld, alias Jimmie Dale, the lionised of clubs, the
matrimonial target of exclusive drawing-rooms, closed the door of the
Sanctuary behind him, shuffled down the stairs, shuffled out into the
lane, and shuffled along the street toward the Bowery.

A policeman on the corner accosted him familiarly.

"Hello, Larry!" grinned the officer.

"'Ello!" returned Jimmie Dale affably through the side of his mouth.
"Fine night, ain't it?"--and shuffled on along the street.

And now Jimmie Dale began to hurry--still with that shuffling tread, but
covering the ground nevertheless with amazing celerity. He had lost
no time since receiving the Tocsin's letter, it was true, but, for all
that, it was now after ten o'clock. Stangeist's house was "dark" that
evening, she had said, meaning that the occupants, Stangeist as well
as whatever servants there might be, for Stangeist had no family, were
out--the servants in town for a theatre or picture show probably--and
Stangeist himself as yet not back, presumably from that Roessle affair.
The stub of an old cigar, unlighted, shifted with a sudden, savage twist
of the lips from one side of Jimmie Dale's mouth to the other. There was
need for haste. There was no telling when Stangeist might get back--as
for the servants, that did not matter so much; servants in suburban
homes had a marked affinity for "last trains!"

Jimmie Dale boarded a cross-town car, effected a transfer, and in
a quarter of an hour after leaving the Sanctuary was huddled, an
inoffensive heap, like a tired-out workingman, in a corner seat of a
Long Island train. From here, there was only a short run ahead of him,
and, twenty minutes later, descending from the train at Forest Hills, he
had passed through the more thickly settled portion of the little place,
and was walking briskly out along the country road.

Stangeist's house lay, approximately, a mile and a half from the
station, quite by itself, and set well back from the road. Jimmie Dale
could have found it with his eyes blindfolded--the Tocsin's directions
had lacked none of their usual explicit minuteness. The road was quite
deserted. Jimmie Dale met no one. Even in the houses that he passed the
lights were in nearly every instance already out.

Something, merciless in its rage, swept suddenly over Jimmie Dale, as,
unbidden, of its own volition, the last paragraph he had read in that
evening's paper began to repeat itself over and over again in his mind.
The two little kiddies--it seemed as though he could see them standing
there--and from Jimmie Dale's lips, not given to profanity, there came
a bitter oath. It might possibly be that, even if he were successful in
what was before him to-night, the authors of the Roessle murder would
never be known. That confession of Stangeist's was written prior to what
had happened that afternoon, and there would be no mention, naturally,
of Roessle. And, for a moment, that seemed to Jimmie Dale the one thing
paramount to all others, the one thing that was vital; then he shook
his head, and laughed out shortly. After all, it did not matter--whether
Stangeist and the blood wolves he had gathered around him paid the
penalty specifically for one particular crime or for another could make
little difference--they would PAY, just as surely, just as certainly,
once that paper was in his possession!

Jimmie Dale was counting the houses as he passed--they were more
infrequent now, farther apart. Stangeist was no fool--not the fool that
he would appear to be for keeping a document like that, once he had had
the temerity to execute it, in his own safe; for, in a day or two, the
Tocsin had hinted at this, after holding it over the heads of Australian
Ike, The Mope, and Clarie Deane again to drive the force of it a little
deeper home, he would undoubtedly destroy it--and the SUPPOSITION that
it was still in existence would have equally the same effect on the
minds of the other three! Stangeist was certainly alive to the peril
that he ran with such a thing in his possession, only the peril had not
appealed to him as imminent either from the three thugs with whom he had
allied himself, or, much less, from any one else, that was all.

Jimmie Dale halted by a low, ornamental stone fence, some three feet
high, and stood there for a moment, glancing about him. This was
Stangeist's house--he could just make out the building as it loomed up a
shadowy, irregular shape, perhaps two hundred yards back from the fence.
The house was quite dark, not a light showed in any window. Jimmie Dale
sat down casually on the fence, looked carefully again up and down
the road--then, swinging his legs over, quick now in every action, he
dropped to the other side, and stole silently across the grass to the
rear of the house.

Here he stopped again, reached up to a window that was about on a level
with his shoulders, and tested its fastenings. The window--it was the
window of Stangeist's private sanctum, according to the plan in
her letter--was securely locked. Jimmie Dale's hands went into his
pocket--and the black silk mask was slipped over his face. He listened
intently--then a little steel instrument began to gnaw like a rat.

A minute passed--two of them. Again Jimmie Dale listened. There was not
a sound save the night sounds--the light breeze whispering through
the branches of the trees; the far-off rumble of a train; the whir of
insects; the hoarse croaking of a frog from some near-by creek or pond.
The window sash was raised an inch, another, and gradually to the top.
Like a shadow, Jimmie Dale pulled himself up to the sill, and, poised
there, his hand parted the heavy portieres that hung within. It was too
dark to distinguish even a single object in the room. He lowered himself
to the floor, and slipped cautiously between the portieres.

From somewhere in the house, a clock began to strike. Jimmie Dale
counted the strokes. Eleven o'clock. It was getting late--TOO late!
Stangeist was likely to be back at any moment. The flashlight, in Jimmie
Dale's hand now, circled the room with its little round white ray,
lingering an instant in a queer, inquisitive sort of way here and there
on this object and that--and went out. Jimmie Dale nodded--the flat desk
in the centre of the floor, the safe in the corner by the rear wall, the
position of everything in the room, even to the chairs, was photographed
on his mind.

He stepped from the portieres to the safe, and the flashlight played
again--this time reflecting back from the glistening nickelled knobs.
Jimmie Dale's lips tightened. It was a small safe, almost ludicrously
small; but to such height as the art of safe design had been carried,
that design was embodied in the one before him.

"Type K-four-two-eight-Colby," muttered Jimmie Dale. "A nasty little
beggar--and it's eleven o'clock now! I'd use 'soup' for once, if it
weren't that it would put Stangeist wise, and give him a chance to make
his get-away before the district attorney got the nippers on the four of

The light went out. Jimmie Dale dropped to his knees; and, while his
left hand passed swiftly, tentatively over dials and handle, he rubbed
the fingers of his right hand rapidly to and fro over the carpet.
Wonderful finger tips were those of Jimmie Dale, sensitive to an
abnormal degree; and now, tingling with the friction, the nerves
throbbing at the skin surface, they closed in a light, delicate touch
upon the knob of the dial--and Jimmie Dale's ear pressed close against
the face of the safe.

Time passed. The silence grew heavy--seemed to palpitate through the
room. Then a deep breath, half like a sigh, half like a fluttering sob
as of a strong man taxed to the uttermost of his endurance, came from
Jimmie Dale, and his left hand swept away the sweat beads that had
spurted to his forehead.

"Eight--thirteen--twenty-two," whispered Jimmie Dale.

There was a click, a low metallic thud as the bolts slid back, and the
door swung open.

And now the flashlight again, searching the mechanism of the inner
door--then darkness once more.

Five minutes, ten minutes went by. The clock struck again--and the
single stroke seemed to boom out through the house in a weird, raucous,
threatening note, and seemed to linger, throbbing in the air.

The inner door was open--the flashlight's ray was flooding a nest
of pigeonholes and little drawers. The pigeonholes were crammed with
papers, as, presumably, too, were the drawers. Jimmie Dale sucked in his
breath. He had already been there well over half an hour--every minute
now, every second was counting against him, and to search that mass of
papers before Stangeist returned was--

"Ah!"--it came in a fierce little ejaculation from Jimmie Dale. From
the centre pigeonhole, almost the first paper he had touched, he drew
a long, sealed envelope and at a single swift glance had read the
inscription upon it, written in longhand:



The words in the corners were underscored three times.

Swiftly, deftly, Jimmie Dale's hands rolled the rounded end of one of
his collection of the legal instruments under the flap of the envelope,
turned the sheets over and drew out the folded document inside. There
were eight sheets of legal foolscap, neatly fastened together at the top
left-hand corner with green tape. He opened them out, read a few words
here and there, and turned the pages hurriedly over to scrutinise
the last one--and nodded grimly. Three witnesses had testified to the
signature of Stangeist, and a notary's seal, accompanied by the usual
legal formula, was duly affixed.

Jimmie Dale slipped the document into his pocket, and, with the envelope
in his hand, moved to the desk. He opened first one drawer and then
another, and finally discovering a pile of blank foolscap, took out four
sheets, folded them, and placed them in the envelope, sealing the
flap of the latter again. That it did not seal very well now brought a
quizzical twitch to Jimmie Dale's lips. Sealed or unsealed, perhaps, it
made little difference; but, for all that, he was not through with it
yet. Apart from bringing the four to justice, there was, after all, a
chance to vindicate the Gray Seal in this matter at least, and repudiate
the newspaper theory which the public, to whom the Gray Seal was already
a monster of iniquity, would seize upon with avidity.

There was no further need of light now. Jimmie Dale replaced the
flashlight in his pocket, took out the thin, metal case, opened it, and
with the tiny pair of tweezers that likewise nestled there, lifted out
one of the gray, diamond-shaped paper seals. There was no question but
that, once under arrest, Stangeist's effects would be immediately
and thoroughly searched by the authorities! Jimmie Dale's smile from
quizzical became ironic. It would afford the police another little,
bewildering reminder of the Gray Seal, and give Carruthers, good old
Carruthers of the MORNING NEWS-ARGUS, so innocently ignorant that the
Gray Seal was his old college pal, yet the one editor of them all who
was not forever barking and yelping at the Gray Seal's heels, a chance
to vindicate himself a little, too! Jimmie Dale moistened the adhesive
side of the gray seal, and, still mindful of tell-tale finger prints,
laid it with the tweezers on the flap of the envelope, and pressed it
firmly into place with his elbow.

And then, suddenly, every faculty instantly on the alert, he snatched up
the envelope from the desk, and listened. Was it imagination, a trick
of nerves, or--no, there it was again!--a footfall on the gravel walk at
the front of the house. The sound became louder, clearer--two footfalls
instead of one. It was Stangeist, and somebody was with him.

In an instant Jimmie Dale was across the room and kneeling again before
the safe. His fingers were flying now. The envelope shot back into the
pigeonhole from which he had taken it--the inner door of the safe closed
silently and swiftly.

A dry chuckle came from Jimmie Dale's lips. It was just like fiction,
just precisely time enough to have accomplished what he had come for
before he was interrupted, not a second more or less, the villain foiled
at the psychological moment! The key was rattling in the front door
now--they were in the hall--he could hear Stangeist's voice--there came
a dull glow from the hallway, following the click of an electric-light
switch. The outer door of the safe swung shut, the bolts slid into
place, the dial whirled under Jimmie Dale's fingers. It was only a
step to the portieres, the open window--and escape. He straightened up,
stepped back, the portieres closed behind him--and the chuckle died on
Jimmie Dale's lips.

He was trapped--caught without so much as a corner in which to turn!
Stangeist was even then coming into the room--and OUTSIDE, darkly
outlined, two forms stood just beneath the window. Instinctively, quick
as a flash, Jimmie Dale crouched below the sill. Who were they? What did
it mean? Questions swept in swift sequence through his brain. Had they
seen him? It would be very dark against the background of the portieres,
but yet if they were watching--he drew a breath of relief. He had not
been seen. Their voices reached him in low, guarded whispers.

"Say, youse, Ike, pipe it! Dere's a window open in the snitch's room.
Come on, we'll get in dere. It'll make the hair stand up on the back of
his neck fer a starter."

"Aw, ferget it!" replied another voice. "Can the tee-ayter stunt!
Clarie leaves the front door unfastened, don't he? An' dey'll be in dere
in a minute now. Wotcher want ter do? Crab the game? He might hear us
an' fix Clarie before we had a chanst, the skinny old fox! An' dere's
the light now--see! Beat it on yer toes fer the front of the house!"

The room was flooded with light. Through the portieres, that Jimmie Dale
parted by the barest fraction of an inch, he could see Stangeist and
another man, a thick-set, ugly-faced-looking customer--Clarie Deane,
according to that brief, whispered colloquy that he had heard outside.
He looked again through the window. The two dark forms had disappeared
now, but they had disappeared just a few seconds too late--with the two
other men now in the room, and one of them so close that Jimmie Dale
could almost have reached out and touched him, it was impossible to
get through the window without being detected, when the slightest sound
would attract instant attention and equally instant suspicion. It was a
chance to be taken only as a last resort.

Jimmie Dale's face grew hard, as his fingers closed around his automatic
and drew the weapon from his pocket. It was all plain enough. That last
act in the drama which he had speculatively anticipated was being staged
with little loss of time--and in a grim sort of way the thought flashed
across his mind that, perilous as his own position was, Stangeist at
that moment was in even greater peril than himself. Australian Ike, The
Mope, and Clarie Deane, given the chance, and they seemed to have made
that chance now, were not likely to deal in half measures--Clarie Deane
had dropped into a chair beside the desk; and The Mope and Australian
Ike were creeping around to the front door!

The parting in the portieres widened a little more, a very little more,
slowly, imperceptibly, until Jimmie Dale, by the simple expedient of
moving his head, could obtain an unobstructed view of the entire room.

Stangeist tossed a bag he had been carrying on the desk, pulled up a
chair opposite to Clarie Deane, and sat down. Both men were side face to
Jimmie Dale.

"You tell the boys," said Stangeist abruptly, "to fade away after this
for a while. Things are getting too hot. And you tell The Mope I dock
him five hundred for that extra crunch on Roessle's skull. That sort
of thing isn't necessary. That's the kind of stunt that gets the public
sore--the man was dead enough as it was. See?"

"Sure!" Clarie Deane's ejaculation was a grunt.

Stangeist opened the bag, and dumped the contents on the desk--pile
after pile of banknotes, the pay roll of the Martindale-Kensington

"Some haul!" observed Clarie Deane, with a hoarse chuckle. "The papers
said over twenty thousand."

"You can't always believe what the papers say," returned Stangeist
curtly; and, taking a scribbling pad from the desk, began to check up
the packages.

Clarie Deane's cigar had gone out. He rolled the short stub in his
mouth, and leaned forward.

The bills were evidently just as they had been delivered to the murdered
paymaster at the bank, done up with little narrow paper bands in
packages of one hundred notes each, save for a small bundle of loose
bills which latter, with the rolls of silver, Stangeist swept to one
side of the desk.

Package by package, Stangeist went on jotting the amounts down on the

"Nix!" growled Clarie Deane suddenly. "Cut that out! Them's fivers in
that wad. Make that five hundred instead of one--I'm onter yer!"

"Mistake," said Stangeist suavely, changing the figures with his pencil.
"You're pretty wide awake for this time of night, aren't you, Clarie?"

"Oh, I dunno!" responded Clarie Deane gruffly. "Not so very!"

Stangeist, finished with the packages, picked up the loose bills, and,
with a short laugh, tossed them into the bag and followed them with the
rolls of silver. He pushed the bag toward Clarie Deane.

"That's a little extra for you," he said. "The trouble with you fellows
is that you don't know when you're well off--but the sooner you find it
out the better, unless you want another lesson like yesterday." He made
the addition on the pad. "Fifteen thousand, eight hundred dollars," he
announced softly. "That's seven thousand, nine hundred for the three of
you to divide, less five hundred from The Mope."

Clarie Deane's eyes narrowed. His hands were on his knees, hidden by the

"There's more'n twenty there," he said sullenly--and drew a match across
the under edge of the desk with a long, crackling noise.

Stangeist's face lost its suavity, a snarl curled his lips; but, about
to reply, he sprang suddenly to his feet instead, his head turned
sharply toward the door.

"What's that!" he said hoarsely. "It's not the servants, they wouldn't
dare to--"

Stangeist's words ended in a gulp. He was staring into the muzzle of a
heavy-calibered revolver that Clarie Deane had jerked up from under the

"You sit down, or I'll blow your block off!" said Clarie Deane, with a
sudden leer.

It happened then almost before Jimmie Dale could grasp the details;
before even Clarie Deane himself could interfere. The door burst open,
two men rushed in--and one, with a bound, flung himself at Stangeist.
The man's hand, grasping a clubbed revolver, rose in the air, descended
on Stangeist's head--and Stangeist went down in a limp heap, crashed
into the chair, and slid from the chair with a thud to the floor.

There was an oath from Clarie Deane. He jumped from his seat, and with a
violent shove sent the man reeling half across the room.

"Blast you, Mope!" he snarled. "You're too blamed fly! D'ye wanter queer
the whole biz?"

"Aw, wot's the matter wid youse!" The Mope, purple-faced with rage,
little black eyes glittering, mouth working under a flattened nose that
some previous encounter had broken and bent over the side of his face,
advanced belligerently.

Australian Ike, who had entered the room with him, pulled him back.

"Ferget it!" he flung out. "Clarie's dealin' the deck. Ferget it!"

The Mope glared from one to the other; then shook his fist at Stangeist
on the floor.

"Youse two make me sick!" he sneered. "Wot's the use of waitin' all
night? We was to bump him off, anyway, wasn't we? Dat's wot youse said
yerselves, 'cause wot was ter stop him writin' out another paper if we
didn't fix him fer keeps?"

"That's all right," rejoined Clarie Deane; "but that's the second act,
you bonehead, see! We ain't got the paper yet, have we? Say, take a look
at that safe! It's easier ter scare him inter openin' it than ter crack
it, ain't it?"

Jimmie Dale, from his crouched position, began to rise to his feet
slowly, making but the slightest movement at a time, cautious of the
least sound. His lips were like a thin line, his fingers tightly pressed
over the automatic in his hand. There was not room for him between the
portieres and the window; and, do what he could, the hangings bulged a
little. Let one of the three notice that, or inadvertently brush against
the portieres, and his life would not be worth an instant's purchase.

They were lifting Stangeist up now, propping him up in the chair.
Stangeist moaned, opened his eyes, stared in a dazed way at the three
faces that leered into his, then dawning intelligence came, and his
face, that had been white before, took on a pasty, grayish pallor.

"You--the three of you!" he mumbled. "What's this mean?"

And then Clarie Deane laughed in a low, brutal way.

"Wot d'ye think it means? We want that paper, an' we want it damn
quick--see! D'ye think we was goin' ter stand fer havin' a trip ter Sing
Sing an' the wire chair danglin' over our heads!"

Stangeist closed his eyes. When he opened them again, something of the
old-time craftiness was in his face.

"Well, what are you going to do about it?" he inquired, almost sharply.
"You know what will happen to you, if anything happens to me."

"Don't youse kid yerself!" retorted Clarie Deane. "D'ye think we're
fools? This ain't like it was yesterday--see! We GETS the paper this
time--so there won't nothin' happen to us. You come across with it
blasted quick now, or The Mope'll give you another on the bean that'll
put you to sleep fer keeps!"

The blood was running down Stangeist's face. He wiped it away from his

"It's not here," he said innocently. "It's in my box in the
safety-deposit vaults."

"Aw," blurted out Australian Ike, pushing suddenly forward, "youse can't
work dat crawl on--"

"Cut it out, Ike!" snapped Clarie Dane. "I'm runnin' this! So it's in
the vaults, eh?" He shoved his face toward Stangeist's.

"Yes," said Stangeist easily. "You see--I was looking for something like

Clarie Deane's fist clenched.

"You lie!" he choked. "The Mope, here, was the last of us you showed
the paper to yesterday afternoon, an' the vaults was closed then--an' you
ain't been there to-day, 'cause you've been watched. That's why we fixed
it fer to-night after the divvy that you've just tried ter do us on
again, 'cause we knew you had it here."

"I tell you, it's not here," said Stangeist evenly.

"You lie!" said Clarie Deane again. "It's in that safe. The Mope heard
you tell the girl in yer office that if anything happened to you she was
ter wise up the district attorney that there was a paper in your safe
at home fer him that was important. Now then, you beat it over ter that
safe, an' open it up--we'll give you a minute ter do it in."

"The paper's not there, I tell you," said Stangeist once more.

"That's all right," submitted Clarle Deane grimly. "There's a quarter of
that minute gone."

"I won't!" Stangeist flashed out violently.

"That's all right," repeated Clarie Deane. "There's half of that minute

Jimmie Dale's eyes, in a fascinated sort of way, were on Stangeist. The
man's face was twitching now, moisture began to ooze from his forehead,
as the callous brutality of the scowling faces seemed to get him--and
then he lurched suddenly forward in his chair.

"My God!" he cried out, a ring of terror in his voice "What do you mean
to do? You'll pay for it! They'll get you! The servants will be back in
a minute."

"Two skirts!" jeered Clarie Deane. "We ain't goin' ter run away from
them. If they comes before we goes, we'll fix 'em. That minute's up!"

Stangeist licked his lips with his tongue.

"Suppose--suppose I refuse?" he said hoarsely.

"You can suit yerself," said Clarie Deane, with a vicious grin. "We know
the paper's there, an' we gets it before we leaves here--see? You can
take yer choice. Either you goes over ter the safe an' opens it yerself,
or else"--he paused and produced a small bottle from his pocket--"this
is nitro-glycerin', an' we opens it fer you with this. Only if we does
the job we does it proper. We ties you up and sets you against the door
of the safe before we touches off the 'soup,' an' mabbe if yer a good
guesser you can guess the rest."

There was a short, raucous guffaw from The Mope.

Stangeist turned a drawn face toward the man, stared at him, and
stared in a miserable way at the other two in turn. He licked his lips
again--none was in a better position than himself to know that there
would be neither scruples nor hesitancy to interfere with carrying out
the threat.

"Suppose," he said, trying to keep his voice steady, "suppose I open the
safe--what then--afterward?"

"We ain't got the safe open yet," countered Clarie Deane
uncompromisingly. "An' we ain't got no more time ter fool over it,
either. You get a move on before I counts five, or The Mope an' Ike ties
you up! One--"

Stangeist staggered to his feet, wiped the blood out of his eyes for the
second time, and, with lips working, went unsteadily across the room to
the safe.

He knelt before it, and began to manipulate the dial; while the others
crowded around behind him. The Mope was fingering his revolver again
club fashion. Australian Ike's elbow just grazed the portieres, and
Jimmie Dale flattened himself against the window, holding his breath--a
smile on his lips that was mirthless, deadly, cold. The end was not far
off now; and then--WHAT?

Stangeist had the outer door of the safe open now--and now the inner
door swung back. He reached in his hand to the pigeonhole, drew out the
envelope--and with a sudden, wild cry, reeled to his feet.

"My God!" he screamed out. "What's--what's this!"

Clarie Deane snatched the envelope from him.

"THE GRAY SEAL!"--the words came with a jerk from his lips. He ripped
the envelope open frantically--and like a man stunned gazed at the four
blank sheets, while the colour left his face. "IT'S GONE!" he cried out

"Gone!" There was a burst of oaths from Australian Ike. "Gone! Den we're
nipped--de lot of us!"

The Mope's face was like a maniac's as he whirled on Stangeist.

"Sure!" he croaked. "But youse gets yers first, youse--"

With a cry, Stangeist, to elude the blow, ducked blindly backward--into
the portieres--and with a rip and tear the hangings were wrenched apart.

It came instantaneously--a yell of mingled surprise and fury from the
three--the crash and spit of Jimmie Dale's revolver as he fired one shot
at the floor to stop their rush--then he flung himself at the window,
through it, and dropped sprawling to the ground.

A stream of flame cut the darkness above him, a bullet whistled by his
head--another--and another. He was on his feet, quick as a cat, and
running close alongside of the wall of the house. He heard a thud behind
him, still another, and yet a third--they were dropping through the
window after him. Came another shot, an angry hum of the bullet closer
than before--then the pound of racing feet.

Jimmie Dale swung around the corner of the house, running at top speed.
Something that was like a hot iron suddenly burned and seared along the
side of his head just above the ear. He reeled, staggered, recovered
himself, and dashed on. It nauseated him, that stinging in his head,
and all at once seemed to be draining his strength away. The shouts, the
shots, the running feet became like a curious buzzing in his ears. It
seemed strange that they should have hit him, that he should be wounded!
If he could only reach the low stone wall by the road, he could at least
make a fight for his life on the other side!

Red streaks swam before Jimmie Dale's eyes. The wall was such a long way
off--a yard or two was a very long way more to go--the weakness
seemed to be creeping up now even to numb his brain. No, here was the
wall--they hadn't hit him again--he laughed in a demented way--and
rolled his body over, and fell to the other side.


The cry seemed to reach some inner consciousness, revive him, send the
blood whipping through his veins. That voice! It was her--HERS! The
Tocsin! There was an automobile, engine racing, standing there in the
road. He won to his feet--dark, rushing forms were almost at the wall.
He fired--once--twice--fired again--and turned, staggering for the car.

"Jimmie! Jimmie--QUICK!"

Panting, gasping, he half fell into the tonneau. The car leaped forward,
yells filled the air--but only one thing was dominant in Jimmie Dale's
reeling brain now. He pulled himself up to his feet, and leaned over the
back of the seat, reaching for the slim figure that was bent over the

"It's you--you at last!" he cried. "Your face--let me lee your face!"

A bullet split the back panel of the car--little spurting flames were
dancing out from the roadway behind.

"Are you mad!" she shouted back at him. "Let me steer--do you want them
to hit me!"

"No-o," said Jimmie Dale, in a queer singsong sort of way, and his
head seemed to spin dizzily around. "No--I guess--" He choked. "The
paper--it's in--my pocket"--and he went down unconscious on the floor of
the car.

When he recovered his senses he was lying on a couch in a plainly
furnished room, and a man, a stranger, red, jovial-faced, farmerish
looking, was bending over him.

"Where am I?" he demanded finally, propping himself up on his elbow.

"You're all right," replied the man. "She said you'd come around in a
little while."

"Who said so?" inquired Jimmie Dale.

"She did. The woman who brought you here about five minutes ago. She
said she ran you down with her car."

"Oh!" said Jimmie Dale. He felt his head--it was bandaged, and it was
bandaged, he was quite sure, with a piece of torn underskirt. He looked
at the man again. "You haven't told me yet where I am."

"Long Island," the other answered. "My name's Hanson. I keep a bit of a
truck garden here."

"Oh," said Jimmie Dale again.

The man crossed the room, picked up an envelope from the table, and came
back to Jimmie Dale.

"She said to give you this as soon as you got your senses, and asked us
to put you up for a while, as long as you wanted to stay, and paid
us for it, too. She's all right, she is. You don't want to hold the
accident up against her, she was mighty sorry about it. And now I'll go
and see if the old lady's got your room ready while you're readin' your

The man left the room.

Jimmie Dale sat up on the couch, and tore the envelope open. The note,
scrawled in pencil, began abruptly:

"You were quite a problem. I couldn't take you HOME--could I? I couldn't
take you to what you call the Sanctuary could I? I couldn't take you to
a hospital, nor call in a doctor--the stain you use wouldn't stand it.
But, thank God! I know it's only a flesh wound, and you are all right
where you are for the day or two that you must keep quiet and take care
of yourself. By the time you read this the paper will be on the way to
the proper hands, and by morning the four where they should be. There
were a few articles in your clothes I thought it better to take charge
of in case--well, in case of ACCIDENT."

Jimmie Dale tore the note up, and smiled wryly at the door. He felt
in his pockets. Mask, revolver, burglar's tools, and the thin metal
insignia case were gone.

"And I had the sublime optimism," murmured Jimmie Dale, "to spend months
trying to find her as Larry the Bat!"



The bullet wound along the side of his head and just above his ear would
have been a very awkward thing indeed, in more ways than one, for Jimmie
Dale, the millionaire, to have explained at his club, in his social set,
or even to his servants, and of these latter to Jason the Solicitous
in particular; but for Jimmie Dale as Larry the Bat it was a matter of
little moment. There was none to question Larry the Bat, save in a most
casual and indifferent way; and a bandage of any description, primarily
and above all one that he could arrange himself, with only himself to
take note of the incongruous hues of skin where the stain, the grease
paint, and the make-up was washed off, would excite little attention
in that world where daily affrays were common-place happenings, and a
wound, for whatever reason, had long since lost the tang of novelty. Why
then should it arouse even a passing interest if Larry the Bat, credited
as the most confirmed of dope fiends, should have fallen down the
dark, rickety stairs of the tenement in one of his orgies, and, in the
expressive language of the Bad Lands, cracked his bean!

And so Jimmie Dale had been forced to maintain the role of Larry the Bat
for a far longer period than he had anticipated when, ten days before,
he had assumed it for the night's work that had so nearly resulted
fatally for himself, though it had placed Roessle's murderers behind
the bars. For, the next day, unwilling to court the risk of remaining
in that neighbourhood, he had left Hanson's, the farmer's, house on
Long Island where the Tocsin had carried him in an unconscious state,
telephoned Jason that he had been unexpectedly called out of town for
a few days, and returned to the Sanctuary in New York. And here, to his
grim dismay, he had found the underworld in a state of furious, angry
unrest, like a nest of hornets, stirred up, seeking to wreak vengeance
on an unseen assailant.

For years, as the Gray Seal, Jimmie Dale had lived with the slogan of
the police, "The Gray Seal dead or alive--but the Gray Seal!" sounding
in his ears; with the newspapers screaming their diatribes, arousing
the people against him, nagging the authorities into sleepless, frenzied
efforts to trap him; with a price upon his head that was large enough to
make a man, not too pretentious, rich for life--but in the underworld,
until then, the name of the Gray Seal had been one to conjure with, for
the underworld had sworn by the unknown master criminal, and had
spoken his name with a reverence that was none the less genuine even if
pungently tainted with unholiness. But now it was different. Up and down
through the Bad Lands, in gambling hells, in vicious resorts, in the
hiding places where thugs and crooks burrowed themselves away from
the daylight, through the heart and the outskirts of the underworld
travelled the fiat, whispered out of mouths crooked to one side--DEATH

Gangland differences were forgotten in the larger issue of the common
weal. The gang spirit became the spirit of a united whole, and the crime
fraternity buzzed and hummed poisonously, spurred on by hatred, thirst
for revenge, fear, and, perhaps most potent of all, a hideous suspicion
now of each other.

The underworld had received a shock at which it stood aghast, and which,
with its terrifying possibilities, struck consternation into the soul
of every individual of that brotherhood whose bond was crime, who was
already "wanted" for some offence or other, whether it ranged from
murder in the first degree to some petty piece of sneak thievery.
Stangeist, the Indian chief, the lawyer whose cunning brain had stood as
a rampart between the underworld and a prison cell, was himself now in
the Tombs with the certainty of the electric chair before him; and with
him, the same fate equally assured, were Australian Ike, The Mope, and
Clarie Deane! Aristocrats of the Bad Lands, peers of that inglorious
realm were those four--and the blow had fallen with stunning force,
a blow that in itself would have been enough to have stirred the
underworld to its depths. But that was not all--from the cells in the
Tombs, from the four came the word, and passed from mouth to mouth in
that strange underground exchange until all had heard it, that the Gray
Seal had "SQUEALED." The Gray Seal who, though unknown, they had counted
the most eminent among themselves, had squealed! Who was the Gray Seal?
It he had held the secrets of Stangeist and his band, what else might
he not know? Who else might not fall next? The Gray Seal had become
a snitch, a menace, a source of danger that stalked among them like a
ghastly spectre. Who was the Gray Seal? None knew.

"Death to the Gray Seal! Run him to earth!" went the whisper from lip
to lip; and with the whisper men stared uncertainly into each other's
faces, fearful that the one to whom they spoke might even be--the Gray

Jimmie Dale's lips twisted queerly as he looked around him at the
squalid appointments of the Sanctuary. The police were bad enough, the
papers were worse; but this was a still graver peril. With every denizen
of the underworld below the dead line suspicious of each other, their
lives, the penitentiary, or a prison sentence the stakes against which
each one played, the role of Larry the Bat, clever as was the make-up
and disguise, was fraught now more than ever before with danger and
peril. It seemed as though slowly the net was beginning at last to
tighten around him.

The murky, yellow flame of the gas jet flickered suddenly, as though
in acquiescence with the quick, impulsive shrug of Jimmie Dale's
shoulders--and Jimmie Dale, bending to peer into the cracked mirror that
was propped up on the broken-legged table, knotted his dress tie almost
fastidiously. The hair, if just a trifle too long, covered the scar on
his head now, the wound no longer required a bandage, and Larry the Bat,
for the time being at least, had disappeared. Across the foot of the
bed, neatly folded, lay his dress coat and overcoat, but little creased
for all that they had lain in that hiding-place under the flooring since
the night when, hurrying from the club, he had placed them there to
assume instead the tatters of Larry the Bat. It was Jimmie Dale in his
own person again who stood there now in Larry the Bat's disreputable
den, an incongruous figure enough against the background of his
miserable surroundings, in perfect-fitting shoes and trousers, the
broad expanse of spotless white shirt bosom glistening even in the
poverty-stricken flare from the single, sputtering gas jet.

Jimmie Dale took the watch from his pocket that had not been wound for
many days, wound it mechanically, set it by guesswork--it was not far
from eight o'clock--and replaced it in his pocket. Carefully then, one
at a time, he examined his fingers, long, slim, sensitive, tapering
fingers, magical masters of safes and locks and vaults of the most
intricate and modern mechanism--no single trace of grime remained,
they were metamorphosed hands from the filthy paws of Larry the Bat. He
nodded in satisfaction; and picked up the mirror for a final inspection
of himself, that, this time, did not miss a single line in his face or
neck. Again Jimmie Dale nodded. As though he had vanished into thin
air, as though he had never existed, not a trace of Larry the Bat
remained--except the heap of rags upon the floor, the battered slouch
hat, the frayed trousers, the patched boots with their broken laces, the
mismated socks, the grimy flannel shirt, and the old coat that he had
just discarded.

The mirror was replaced on the table; and, pushing the heap of clothes
before him with his foot, Jimmie Dale knelt down in the corner of the
room where the oilcloth had been turned up and the loose planking of the
floor removed, and began to pack the articles away in the hole. Jimmie
Dale rolled the trousers of Larry the Bat into a compact little bundle,
and stuffed them under the flooring. The gas jet seemed to blink again
in a sort of confidential approval, as though the secret lay inviolate
between itself and Jimmie Dale. Through the closed window, shade tightly
drawn, came, low and muffled, the sound of distant life from the Bowery,
a few blocks away. The gas jet, suffering from air somewhere within the
pipes, hissed angrily, the yellow flame died to a little blue, forked
spurt--and Jimmie Dale was on his feet, his face suddenly hard and white
as marble.


For the fraction of a second Jimmie Dale stood motionless. Found as
Jimmie Dale in the den of Larry the Bat, and the consequences required
no effort of the imagination to picture them; police or denizen of the
underworld who was knocking there, it was all the same, the method of
death would be a little different, that was all--one legalised, the
other not. Jimmie Dale, Larry the Bat, the Gray Seal, once uncovered,
could expect as much quarter as would be given to a cornered rat. His
eyes swept the room with a swift, critical glance--evidences of Larry
the Bat, the clothes, were still about, even if he in the person of
Jimmie Dale, alone damning enough, were not standing there himself.
And he was even weaponless--the Tocsin had taken the revolver from
his pocket, together with those other telltale articles, the mask, the
flashlight, the little blued-steel tools, before she had intrusted him
that night, wounded and unconscious, to Hanson's care.

Jimmie Dale slipped his feet out of his low evening pumps, snatched up
the old coat and hat from the pile, put them on, and, without a
sound, reached the gas jet and turned it off. A second had gone by--no
more--the knocking still sounded insistently on the door. It was dark
now, perfectly black. He started across the room, his tread absolutely
silent as the trained muscles, relaxing, threw the body weight gradually
upon one foot before the next step was taken. It was like a shadow,
a little blacker in outline than the surrounding blackness, stealing
across the floor.

Halfway to the door he paused. The knocking had ceased. He listened
intently. It was not repeated. Instead, his ear caught a guarded step
retreating outside in the hall. Jimmie Dale drew a breath of relief.
He went on again to the door, still listening. Was it a trap--that step

At the door now, tense, alert, he lowered his ear to the keyhole. There
came the faintest creak from the stairs. Jimmie Dale's brows gathered.
It was strange! The knocking had not lasted long. Whoever it was was
going away--but it required the utmost caution to descend those stairs,
rickety and tumble-down as they were, with no more sound than that!
Why such caution? Why not a more determined and prolonged effort at his
door--the visitor had been easily satisfied that Larry the Bat was not
within. TOO easily satisfied! Jimmie Dale turned the key noiselessly in
the lock. He opened the door cautiously--half inch--an inch, there was
no sound of footsteps now. Occasionally a lodger moved about on the
floor above; occasionally from somewhere in the tenement came the murmur
of voices as from behind closed door--that was all. All else was silence
and darkness now.

The door, on its well-oiled hinges, swung wide open. Jimmie Dale thrust
out his head into the hall--and something fell upon the threshold with
a little thud--but for a moment Jimmie Dale did not move. Listening,
trying to pierce the darkness, he was as still as the silence around
him; then he stooped and groped along the threshold. His hand closed
upon what seemed like a small box wrapped in paper. He picked it up,
closed and locked the door again, and retreated back across the room. It
was strange--unpleasantly strange--a box propped stealthily against the
door so that it would fall to the threshold when the door was opened!
And why the stealth? What did it mean? Had the underworld with its
thousand eyes and ears already succeeded in a few days where the police
had failed signally for years--had they sent him this, whatever it was,
as some grim token that they had run Larry the Bat to earth? He shook
his head. No; gangland struck more swiftly, with less finesse than
that--the "cat-and-mouse" act was never one it favoured, for the mouse
had been known to get away.

Jimmie Dale lighted the gas again, and turned the package over in his
hands. It was, as he had surmised, a small cardboard box; and it was
wrapped in plain paper and tied with a string. He untied the string,
and still suspicious, as a man is suspicious in the knowledge that he is
stalked by peril at every turn, removed the wrapper a little gingerly.
It was still without sign or marking upon it, just an ordinary cardboard
box. He lifted off the cover, and, with a short, sudden laugh, stared, a
little out of countenance, at the contents.

On the top lay a white, unaddressed envelope. HERS! Beneath--he emptied
the box on the table--his black silk mask, his automatic revolver, the
kit of fine, small blued-steel burglar's tools, his pocket flashlight,
and the thin metal insignia case. The Tocsin! Impulsively Jimmie Dale
turned toward the door--and stopped. His shoulders lifted in a shrug
that, meant to be philosophical, was far from philosophical. He could
not, dared not venture far through the tenement dressed as he was; and
even if he could there were three exits to the Sanctuary, a fact that
now for the first time was not wholly a source of unmixed satisfaction
to him; and besides--she was gone!

Jimmie Dale opened the letter, a grim smile playing on his lips. He had
forgotten for the moment that the illusion he had cherished for years
in the belief that she did not know Larry the Bat as an alias of
Jimmie Dale was no more than--an illusion. Well, it had been a piece of
consummate egotism on his part, that was all. But, after all, what did
it matter? He had had his innings, tried in the role of Larry the Bat
to solve her identity, devoted weeks on end to the attempt--and failed.
Some day, perhaps, his turn would come; some day, perhaps, she would no
longer be able to elude him, unless--the letter crackled suddenly in
his fingers--unless the house that they had built on such strange
and perilous foundations crashed at some moment, without an instant's
warning, in disaster and ruin to the ground. Who knew but that this
letter now, another call to the Gray Seal to act, another peril invited,
would be the LAST? There must be an end some day; luck and nerve had
their limitations--it had almost ended last week!

"Dear Philanthropic Crook"--it was the same inevitable beginning. "You
are well enough again, aren't you, Jimmie?--I am sending these little
things back to you, for you will need them to-night."--Jimmie Dale read
on, muttering snatches of the letter aloud: "Michael Breen prospecting
in Alaska--map of location of rich mining claim--Hamvert, his former
partner, had previously fleeced him of fifteen thousand dollars--his
share of a deal together--Breen was always a very poor man--Breen later
struck a claim alone; but, taking sick, came back home--died on
arrival in New York after giving map to his wife--wife in very
needy circumstances--lives with little daughter of seven in New
Rochelle--works out by the day at Henry Mittel's house on the
Sound near-by--wife intrusted map for safe-keeping and advice to
Mittel--Hamvert after map--telephone wires cut--room one hundred
and forty-eight, corner, right, first floor, Palais-Metropole
Hotel, unoccupied--connecting doors--quarter past nine to-night--the
Weasel--Mittel's house later--the police--look out for both the Weasel
and the police, Jimmie--"

There was more, several pages of it, explanations, specific details down
to a minute description of the locality and plan of the house on the
Sound. Jimmie Dale, too intent now to mutter, read on silently. At the
end he shuffled the sheets a little abstractedly, as his face hardened.
Then his fingers began to tear the letter into little shreds, tearing it
over and over again, tearing the shreds into tiny particles. He had not
been far wrong. From what the night promised now, this might well be the
last letter. Who knew? There would be need of all the wit and luck and
nerve to-night that the Gray Seal had ever had before.

With a jerk, Jimmie Dale roused himself from the momentary reverie into
which he had fallen; and, all action now, stuffed the torn pieces of the
letter into his trousers pocket to be disposed of later in the street;
took off the old coat and slouch hat again, and resumed the disposal of
Larry the Bat's effects under the flooring.

This accomplished, he replaced the planking and oilcloth, stood up, put
on his dress coat and light overcoat, and, from the table, stowed the
black silk mask, the automatic, the little kit of tools, the flashlight,
and the thin metal case away in his pockets.

Jimmie Dale raised his hand to the gas fixture, circled the room with a
glance that missed no single detail--then the light went out, the door
closed behind him, locked, a dark shadow crept silently down the stairs,
out through the side door into the alleyway, along the alleyway close to
the wall of the tenement where it was blackest, and, satisfied that
for the moment there were no passers-by, emerged on the street, walking
leisurely toward the Bowery.

Once well away from the Sanctuary, however, Jimmie Dale quickened his
steps; and twenty minutes later, having stopped but once to telephone to
his home on Riverside Drive for his touring car, he was briskly mounting
the steps of the St. James Club on Fifth Avenue. Another twenty minutes
after that, and he had dismissed Benson, his chauffeur, and, at
the wheel of his big, powerful machine, was speeding uptown for the
Palais-Metropole Hotel.

It was twelve minutes after nine when he drew up at the curb in front of
the side entrance of the hotel--his watch, set by guesswork, had been a
little slow, and he had corrected it at the club. He was replacing the
watch in his pocket as he sauntered around the corner, and passed in
through the main entrance to the big lobby.

Jimmie Dale avoided the elevators--it was only one flight up, and
elevator boys on occasions had been known to be observant. At the top
of the first landing, a long, wide, heavily carpeted corridor was before
him. "Number one hundred and forty-eight, the corner room on the right,"
the Tocsin had said. Jimmie Dale walked nonchalantly along--past No.
148. At the lower end of the hall a group of people were gathered around
the elevator doors; halfway down the corridor a bell boy came out of a
room and went ahead of Jimmie Dale.

And then Jimmie Dale stopped suddenly, and began to retrace his steps.
The group had entered the elevator, the bell boy had disappeared around
the farther end of the hall into the wing of the hotel--the corridor
was empty. In a moment he was standing before the door of No. 148;
in another, under the persuasion of a little steel instrument, deftly
manipulated by Jimmie Dale's slim, tapering fingers, the lock clicked
back, the door opened, and he stepped inside, closing and locking the
door again behind him.

It was already a quarter past nine, but no one was as yet in the
connecting room--the fanlight next door had been dark as he passed. His
flashlight swept about him, located the connecting door--and went out.
He moved to the door, tried it, and found it locked. Again the little
steel instrument came into play, released the lock, and Jimmie Dale
opened the door. Again the flashlight winked. The door opened into a
bathroom that, obviously, at will, was either common to the two rooms or
could, by the simple expedient of locking one door or the other, be used
by one of the rooms alone. In the present instance, the occupant of the
adjoining apartment had taken "a room with a bath."

Jimmie Dale passed through the bathroom to the opposite door. This was
already three-quarters open, and swung outward into the bedroom, near
the lower end of the room by the window. Through the crack of the door
by the hinges, Jimmie Dale flashed his light, testing the radius of
vision, pushed the door a few inches wider open, tested it again with
the flashlight--and retreated back into No. 148, closing the door on his
side until it was just ajar.

He stood there then silently waiting. It was Hamvert's room next door,
and Hamvert and the Weasel were already late. A step sounded outside in
the corridor. Jimmie Dale straightened intently. The step passed on
down the hallway and died away. A false alarm! Jimmie Dale smiled
whimsically. It was a strange adventure this that confronted him, quite
the strangest in a way that the Tocsin had ever planned--and the night
lay before him full of peril in its extraordinary complications. To win
the hand he must block Hamvert and the Weasel without allowing them an
inkling that his interference was anything more than, say, the luck of
a hotel sneak thief at most. The Weasel was a dangerous man, one of the
slickest second-story workers in the country, with safe cracking as one
of his favourite pursuits, a man most earnestly desired by the police,
provided the latter could catch him "with the goods." As for Hamvert,
he did not know Hamvert, who was a stranger in New York, except that
Hamvert had fleeced a man named Michael Breen out of his share in a
claim they had had together when Breen had first gone to Alaska to try
his luck, and now, having discovered that Breen, when prospecting alone
somewhere in the interior a month or so ago, had found a rich vein and
had made a map or diagram of its location, he, Hamvert, had followed
the other to New York for the purpose of getting it by hook or crook.
Breen's "find" had been too late; taken sick, he had never worked his
claim, had barely got back home before he died, and only in time to hand
his wife the strange legacy of a roughly scrawled little piece of paper,
and--Jimmie Dale straightened up alertly once more. Steps again--and
this time coming from the direction of the elevator; then voices; then
the opening of the door of the next room; then a voice, distinctly

"Pull up a chair, and we'll get down to business. You're late, as it is.
We haven't any time to waste, if we're going to wash pay-dirt to-night."

"Aw, dat's all right!" responded another voice--quite evidently the
Weasel's. "Don't youse worry--de game's cinched to a fadeaway."

There was the sound of chairs being moved across the floor. Jimmie Dale
slipped the black silk mask over his face, opened the door on his side
of the bathroom cautiously, and, without a sound, stepped into the
bathroom that was lighted now, of course, by the light streaming in
through the partially opened door of Hamvert's room. The two were
talking earnestly now in lower tones. Jimmie Dale only caught a word
here and there--his faculties for the moment were concentrated on
traversing the bathroom silently. He reached the farther door, crouched
there, peered through the crack--and the old whimsical smile flickered
across his lips again.

The Palais-Metropole was high class and exclusive, and the Weasel for
once looked quite the gentleman, and, for all his sharp, ferret face,
not entirely out of keeping with his surroundings--else he would never
have got farther than the lobby. The other was a short, thickset,
heavy-jowled man, with a great shock of sandy hair, and small black eyes
that looked furtively out from overhanging, bushy eyebrows.

"Well," Hamvert was saying, "the details are your concern. What I
want is results. We won't waste time. You're to be back here by
daylight--only see that there's no come-back."

"Leave it to me!" returned the Weasel, with assurance. "How's dere
goin' ter be any come-back? Mittel keeps it in his safe, don't he? Well,
gentlemen's houses has been robbed before--an' dis job'll be a good one.
De geographfy stunt youse wants gets pinched wid de rest, dat's all. It
disappears--see? Who's ter know youse gets yer claws on it? It's just
lost in de shuffle."

"Right!" agreed Hamvert briskly--and from his inside pocket produced
a package of crisp new bills, yellow-backs, and evidently of large
denominations. "Half down and half on delivery--that's our deal."

"Dat's wot!" assented the Weasel curtly.

Hamvert began to count the bills.

Jimmie Dale's hand stole into his pocket, and came out with his
handkerchief and the thin metal insignia case. From the latter, with its
little pair of tweezers, he took out one of the adhesive gray seals.
His eyes warily on the two men, he dropped the seal on his handkerchief,
restored the thin metal case to his pocket--and in its stead the
blue-black ugly muzzle of his automatic peeped from between his fingers.

"Five thousand down," said Hamvert, pushing a pile of notes across the
table, and tucking the remainder back into his pocket; "and the other
five's here for you when you get back with the map. Ordinarily, I
wouldn't pay a penny in advance, but since you want it that way and
the map's no good to you while the rest of the long green is, I--" He
swallowed his words with a startled gulp, clutched hastily at the money
on the table, and began to struggle up from his chair to his feet.

With a swift, noiseless side-step through the open door, Jimmie Dale was
standing in the room.

Jimmie Dale's tones were conversational. "Don't get up," said Jimmie
Dale coolly. "And take your hand off that money!"

The Weasel, whose back had been to the door, squirmed around in his
chair--and in his turn stared into the muzzle of Jimmie Dale's revolver,
while his jaw dropped and sagged.

"Good-evening, Weasel," observed Jimmie Dale casually. "I seem to be in
luck to-night. I got into that room next door, but an empty room is slim
picking. And then it seemed to me I heard some one in here mention five
thousand dollars twice, which makes ten thousand, and which happens to
be just exactly the sum I need at the present moment--if I can't get any
more! I haven't the honour of your wealthy friend's acquaintance, but
I am really charmed to meet him. You--er--understand, both of you, that
the slightest sound might prove extremely embarrassing."

Hamvert's face was white, and he stirred uneasily in his chair; but
into the Weasel's face, the first shock of surprised dismay past, came
a dull, angry red, and into the eyes a vicious gleam--and suddenly he
laughed shortly.

"Why, youse damned fool," jeered the Weasel, "d'youse t'ink youse can
get away wid dat! Say, take it from me, youse are a piker! Say, youse
make me tired. Wot d'youse t'ink youse are? D'youse t'ink dis is a
tee-ayter, an' dat youse are a cheap-skate actor strollin' acrost de
stage? Aw, beat it, youse make me sick! Why, say, youse pinch dat money,
an' youse have got de same chanst of gettin' outer dis hotel as a guy
has of breakin' outer Sing Sing! By de time youse gets five feet from de
door of dis room we has de whole works on yer neck."

"Do you think so, Weasel?" inquired Jimmie Dale politely. He carried his
handkerchief to his mouth to cloak a cough--and his tongue touched
the adhesive side of the little diamond-shaped gray seal. Hand and
handkerchief came back to the table, and Jimmie Dale leaned his weight
carelessly upon it, while the automatic in his right hand still covered
the two men. "Do you think so, Weasel?" he repeated softly. "Well,
perhaps you are right; and yet; somehow, I am inclined to disagree with
you. Let me see, Weasel--it was Tuesday night, two nights ago; wasn't
it, that a trifling break in Maiden Lane at Thorold and Sons disturbed
the police? It was a three-year job for even a first offender, ten
for one already on nodding terms with the police and fifteen to twenty
for--well, say, for a man like you, Weasel--IF HE WERE CAUGHT! Am I
making myself quite plain?"

The colour in the Weasel's cheeks faded a little--his eyes were holding
in sudden fascination upon Jimmie Dale.

"I see that I am," observed Jimmie Dale pleasantly. "I said, 'if he were
caught,' you will remember. I am going to leave this room in a moment,
Weasel, and leave it entirely to your discretion as to whether you will
think it wise or not to stir from that chair for ten minutes after
I shut the door. And now"--Jimmie Dale nonchalantly replaced his
handkerchief in his pocket, nonchalantly followed it with the banknotes
which he picked up from the table--and smiled.

With a gasp, both men had strained forward, and were staring, wild-eyed,
at the gray seal stuck between them on the tabletop.

"The Gray Seal!" whispered the Weasel, and his tongue circled his lips.

Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders.

"That WAS a bit theatrical, Weasel," he said apologetically; "and yet
not wholly unnecessary. You will recall Stangeist, The Mope, Australian
Ike, and Clarie Deane, and can draw your own inference as to what might
happen in the Thorold affair if you should be so ill-advised as to force
my hand. Permit me"--the slim, deft fingers, like a streak of lightning,
were inside Hamvert's coat pocket and out again with the remainder of
the banknotes--and Jimmie Dale was backing for the door--not the door
of the bathroom by which he had entered, but the door of the room itself
that opened on the corridor. There he stopped, and his hand swept around
behind his back and turned the key in the locked door. He nodded at the
two men, whose faces were working with incongruously mingled expressions
of impotent rage, bewilderment, fear, and fury--and opened the door a
little. "Ten minutes, Weasel," he said gently. "I trust you will not
have to use heroic measures to restrain your friend for that length of
time, though if it is necessary I should advise you for your own sake to
resort almost--to murder. I wish you good evening, gentlemen."

The door opened farther; Jimmie Dale, still facing inward, slipped
between it and the jamb, whipped the mask from his face, closed the door
softly, stepped briskly but without any appearance of haste along the
corridor to the stairs, descended the stairs, mingled with a crowd in
the lobby for an instant, walked, seemingly a part of it, with a group
of ladies and gentlemen down the hall to the side entrance, passed
out--and a moment later, after drawing on a linen dust coat which he
took from under the seat, and exchanging his hat for a tweed cap, the
car glided from the curb and was lost in a press of traffic around the

Jimmie Dale laughed a little harshly to himself. So far, so good--but
the game was not ended yet for all the crackle of the crisp notes in
his pocket. There was still the map, still the robbery at Mittel's
house--the ten-thousand-dollar "theft" would not in any way change that,
and it was a question of time now to forestall any move the Weasel might

Through the city Jimmie Dale alternately dodged, spurted, and dragged
his way, fuming with impatience; but once out on the country roads and
headed toward New Rochelle, the big machine, speed limits thrown to the
winds, roared through the night--a gray streak of road jumping under the
powerful lamps; a village, a town, a cluster of lights flashing by him,
the steady purr of his sixty-horse-power engines; the gray thread of
open road again.

It was just eleven o'clock when Jimmie Dale, the road to himself for the
moment at a spot a little beyond New Rochelle, extinguished his lights,
and very carefully ran his car off the road, backing it in behind a
small clump of trees. He tossed the linen dust coat back into the car,
and set off toward where, a little distance away, the slap of waves from
the stiff breeze that was blowing indicated the shore line of the Sound.
There was no moon, and, while it was not particularly dark, objects and
surroundings at best were blurred and indistinct; but that, after all,
was a matter of little concern to Jimmie Dale--the first house beyond
was Mittel's. He reached the water's edge and kept along the shore.
There should be a little wharf, she had said. Yes; there it was--and
there, too, was a gleam of light from the house itself.

Jimmie Dale began to make an accurate mental note of his surroundings.
From the little wharf on which he now stood, a path led straight to the
house, bisecting what appeared to be a lawn, trees to the right, the
house to the left. At the wharf, beside him, two motor boats were
moored, one on each side. Jimmie Dale glanced at them, and, suddenly
attracted by the familiar appearance of one, inspected it a little more
closely. His momentarily awakened interest passed as he nodded his head.
It had caught his attention, that was all--it was the same type and
design, quite a popular make, of which there were hundreds around New
York, as the one he had bought that year as a tender for his yacht.

He moved forward now toward the house, the rear of which faced him--the
light that flooded the lawn came from a side window. Jimmie Dale was
figuring the time and distance from New York as he crept cautiously
along. How quickly could the Weasel make the journey? The Weasel would
undoubtedly come, and if there was a convenient train it might prove a
close race--but in his own favour was the fact that it would probably
take the Weasel quite some little time to recover his equilibrium from
his encounter with the Gray Seal in the Palais-Metropole, also the
further fact that, from the Weasel's viewpoint, there was no desperate
need of haste. Jimmie Dale crossed the lawn, and edged along in the
shadows of the house to where the light streamed out from what now
proved to be open French windows. It was a fair presumption that he
would have an hour to the good on the Weasel.

The sill was little more than a couple of feet from the ground, and,
from a crouched position on his knees below the window, Jimmie Dale
raised himself slowly and peered guardedly inside. The room was empty.
He listened a moment--the black silk mask was on his face again--and
with a quick, agile, silent spring he was in the room.

And then, in the centre of the room, Jimmie Dale stood motionless,
staring around him, an expression, ironical, sardonic, creeping into his
face. THE ROBBERY HAD ALREADY BEEN COMMITTED! At the lower end of the
room everything was in confusion; the door of a safe swung wide, the
drawers of a desk had been wrenched out, even a liqueur stand, on which
were well-filled decanters, had been broken open, and the contents of
safe and desk, the thief's discards as it were, littered the floor in
all directions.

For an instant Jimmie Dale, his eyes narrowed ominously, surveyed the
scene; then, with a sort of professional instinct aroused, he stepped
forward to examine the safe--and suddenly darted behind the desk
instead. Steps sounded in the hall. The door opened--a voice reached

"The master said I was to shut the windows, and I haven't dast to go in.
And he'll be back with the police in a minute now. Come on in with me,

"Lord!" exclaimed another voice. "Ain't it a good thing the missus is
away. She'd have highsteericks!"

Steps came somewhat hesitantly across the floor--from behind the desk,
Jimmie Dale could see that it was a maid, accompanied by a big, rawboned
woman, sleeves rolled to the elbows over brawny arms, presumably the
Mittels' cook.

The maid closed the French windows, there were no others in the room,
and bolted them; and, having gained a little confidence, gazed about

"My, but wasn't he cute!" she ejaculated. "Cut the telephone wires, he
did. And ain't he made an awful mess! But the master said we wasn't to
touch nothing till the police saw it."

"And to think of it happening in OUR house!" observed the cook heavily,
her hands on her hips, her arms akimbo. "It'll all be in the papers, and
mabbe they'll put our pictures in, too."

"I won't get over it as long as I live!" declared the maid. "The yell
Mr. Mittel gave when he came downstairs and put his head in here,
and then him shouting and using the most terrible language into
the telephone, and then finding the wires cut. And me following him
downstairs half dead with fright. And he shouts at me. 'Bella,' he
shouts, 'shut those windows, but don't you touch a thing in that room.
I'm going for the police.' And then he rushes out of the house."

"I was going to bed," said the cook, picking up her cue for what was
probably the twentieth rehearsal of the scene, "when I heard Mr. Mittel
yell, and--Lord, Bella, there he is now!"

Jimmie Dale's hands clenched. He, too, had caught the scuffle of
footsteps, those of three or four men at least, on the front porch.
There was one way, only one, of escape--through the French windows!
It was a matter of seconds only before Mittel, with the police at his
heels, would be in the room--and Jimmie Dale sprang to his feet. There
was a wild scream of terror from the maid, echoed by another from the
cook--and, still screaming, both women fled for the door.

"Mr. Mittel! Mr. Mittel!" shrieked the maid--she had flung herself out
into the hall. "He's--he's back again!"

Jimmie Dale was at the French windows, tearing at the bolts. They
stuck. Shouts came from the front entryway. He wrenched viciously at the
fastenings. They gave now. The windows flew open. He glanced over his
shoulder. A man, Mittel presumably, since he was the only one not in
uniform, was springing into the room. There was a blur of forms and
brass buttons behind Mittel--and Jimmie Dale leaped to the lawn,
speeding across it like a deer.

But quick as he ran, Jimmie Dale's brain was quicker, pointing the
single chance that seemed open to him. The motor boat! It seemed like a
God-given piece of luck that he had noticed it was like his own; there
would be no blind, and that meant fatal, blunders in the dark over its
mechanism, and he could start it up in a moment--just the time to cast
her off, that was all he needed.

The shouts swelled behind him. Jimmie Dale was running for his life. He
flung a glance backward. One form--Mittel, he was certain--was perhaps a
hundred yards in the rear. The others were just emerging from the
French windows--grotesque, leaping things they looked, in the light that
streamed out behind them from the room.

Jimmie Dale's feet pounded the planking of the wharf. He stooped and
snatched at the mooring line. Mittel was almost at the wharf. It seemed
an age, a year to Jimmie Dale before the line was clear. Shouts rang
still louder across the lawn--the police, racing in a pack, were more
than halfway from the house. He flung the line into the boat, sprang in
after it--and Mittel, looming over him, grasped at the boat's gunwhale.

Both men were panting from their exertions.

"Let go!" snarled Jimmie Dale between clenched teeth.

Mittel's answer was a hoarse, gasping shout to the police to hurry--and
then Mittel reeled back, measuring his length upon the wharf from a blow
with a boat hook full across the face, driven with a sudden, untamed
savagery that seemed for the moment to have mastered Jimmie Dale.

There was no time--not a second--not the fraction of a second.
Desperately, frantically he shoved the boat clear of the wharf.
Once--twice--three times he turned the engine over without success--and
then the boat leaped forward. Jimmie Dale snatched the mask from his
face, and jumped for the steering wheel. The police were rushing out
along the wharf. He could just faintly discern Mittel now--the man was
staggering about, his hands clapped to his face. A peremptory order to
halt, coupled with a threat to fire, rang out sharply--and Jimmie Dale
flung himself flat in the bottom of the boat. The wharf edge seemed to
open in little, crackling jets of flame, came the roar of reports like a
miniature battery in action, then the FLOP, FLOP, FLOP, as the lead tore
up the water around him, the duller thud as a bullet buried its nose in
the boat's side, and the curious rip and squeak as a splinter flew. Then
Mittel's voice, high-pitched, as though in pain:

"Can't any of you run a motor boat? He's got me bad, I'm afraid. That
other one there is twice as fast."

"Sure!" another voice responded promptly. "And if that's right, he's run
his head into a trap. Cast loose, there, MacVeay, and pile in, all of
you! You go back to the house, Mr. Mittel, and fix yourself up. We'll
get him!"

Jimmie Dale's lips thinned. It was true! If the other boat had any speed
at all, it was only a question of time before he would be overtaken.
The only point at issue was how much time. It was dark--that was in his
favour--but it was not so dark but that a boat could be distinguished on
the water for quite a distance, for a longer distance than he could hope
to put between them. There was no chance of eluding the police that
way! The keen, facile brain that had saved the Gray Seal a hundred times
before was weaving, planning, discarding, eliminating, scheming a way
out--with death, ruin, disaster the price of failure. His eyes swept
the dim, irregular outline of the shore. To his right, in the opposite
direction from where he had left his car, and perhaps a mile ahead, as
well as he could judge, the land seemed to run out into a point. Jimmie
Dale headed for it instantly. If he could reach it with a little lead to
the good, there was a chance! It would take, say, six minutes, granting
the boat a speed of ten miles an hour--and she could do that. The others
could hardly overtake him in that time--they hadn't got started yet. He
could hear them still shouting and talking at the wharf. And Mittel's
"twice as fast" was undoubtedly an exaggeration, anyhow.

A minute more passed, another--and then, astern, Jimmie Dale caught the
racket from the exhaust of a high-powered engine, and a white streak
seemed to shoot out upon the surface of the water from where, obscured
now, he placed the wharf. A quarter-mile lead, roughly four hundred
yards; yes, he had as much as that--but that, too, was very little.

He bent over his engine, coaxing it, nursing it to its highest
efficiency; his eyes strained now upon the point ahead, now upon his
pursuers behind. He was running with the wind, thank Heaven! or the
small boat would have had a further handicap--it was rolling up quite a

The steering gear, he found, was corded along the side of the boat,
permitting its manipulation from almost any position, and, abruptly now,
Jimmie Dale left the engine to rummage through the little locker in the
stern of the boat. But as he rummaged, his eyes held speculatively on
the boat astern. She was gaining unquestionably, steadily, but not as
fast as he had feared. He would still have a hundred yards' lead, at
least, abreast the point--and, he was smiling grimly now, a hundred
yards there meant life to the Gray Seal! The locker was full of a
heterogeneous collection of odds and ends--a suit of oilskins, tools,
tins, and cans of various sizes and descriptions. Jimmie Dale emptied
the contents, some sort of powder, of a small, round tin box overboard,
and from his pocket took out the banknotes, crammed them into the box,
crammed his watch in on top of them, and screwed the cover on tightly.
His fingers were flying now. A long strip torn from the trousers' leg of
the oilskins was wrapped again and again around the box--and the box was
stuffed into his pocket.

The flash of a revolver shot cut the blackness behind him, then another,
and another. They were firing in a continuous stream again. It was
fairly long range, but there was always the chance of a stray bullet
finding its mark. Jimmie Dale, crouching low, made his way to the bow of
the boat again.

The point was looming almost abreast now. He edged in nearer, to hug
it as closely as he dared risk the depth of the water. Behind,
remorselessly, the other boat was steadily closing the gap; and the
shots were not all wild--one struck, with a curious singing sound, on
some piece of metal a foot from his elbow. Closer to the shore, running
now parallel with the head of the point, Jimmie Dale again edged in the
boat, his jaws, clamped, working in little twitches.

And then suddenly, with a swift, appraising glance behind him, he
swerved the boat from her course and headed for the shore--not directly,
but diagonally across the little bay that, on the farther side of the
point, had now opened out before him. He was close in with the edge of
the point, ten yards from it, sweeping past it--the point itself came
between the two boats, hiding them from each other--and Jimmie Dale,
with a long spring, dove from the boat's side to the water.

The momentum from the boat as he sank robbed him for an instant of all
control over himself, and he twisted, doubled up, and rolled over and
over beneath the water--but the next moment his head was above the
surface again, and he was striking out swiftly for the shore. It was
only a few yards--but in a few SECONDS the pursuing boat, too, would
have rounded the point. His feet touched bottom. It was haste now,
nothing else, that counted. The drum of the racing engines, the
crackling roar of the exhaust from the oncoming boat was in his ears. He
flung himself upon the shore and down behind a rock. Around the point,
past him, tore the police boat, dark forms standing clustered in the
bow--and then a sudden shout:

"There she is! See her? She's heading into the bay for the shore!"

Jimmie Dale's lips relaxed. There was no doubt that they had sighted
their quarry again--a perfect fusillade of revolver shots directed at
the now empty boat was quite sufficient proof of that! With something
that was almost a chuckle, Jimmie Dale straightened up from behind the
rock and began to run back along the shore. The little motor boat would
have grounded long before they overtook her, and, thinking naturally
enough, that he had leaped ashore from her, they would go thrashing
through the woods and fields searching for him!

It was a longer way back by the shore, a good deal longer; now over
rough, rocky stretches where he stumbled in the darkness, now through
marshy, sodden ground where he sank as in a quagmire time and again over
his ankles. It was even longer than he had counted on, and time, with
the Weasel on one hand and the return of the police on the other, was
a factor to be reckoned with again, as, a half hour later, Jimmie Dale
stole across the lawn of Mittel's house for the second time that night,
and for the second time crouched beneath the open French windows.

Masked again, the water still dripping from what were once immaculate
evening clothes but which now sagged limply about him, his collar a
pasty string around his neck, the mud and dirt splashed to his knees,
Jimmie Dale was a disreputable and incongruous-looking object as he
crouched there, shivering uncomfortably from his immersion in spite of
his exertions. Inside the room, Mittel passed the windows, pacing the
floor, one side of his face badly cut and bruised from the blow with the
boat hook--and as he passed, his back turned for an instant, Jimmie Dale
stepped into the room.

Mittel whirled at the sound, and, with a suppressed cry, instinctively
drew back--Jimmie Dale's automatic was dangling carelessly in his right

"I am afraid I am a trifle melodramatic," observed Jimmie Dale
apologetically, surveying his own bedraggled person; "but I assure you
it is neither intentional nor for effect. As it is, I was afraid I would
be late. Pardon me if I take the liberty of helping myself; one gets a
chill in wet clothes so easily"--he passed to the liqueur stand, poured
out a generous portion from one of the decanters, and tossed it off.

Mittel neither spoke nor moved. Stupefaction, surprise, and a very
obvious regard for Jimmie Dale's revolver mingled themselves in a
helpless expression on his face.

Jimmie Dale set down his glass and pointed to a chair in front of the

"Sit down, Mr. Mittel," he invited pleasantly. "It will be quite
apparent to you that I have not time to prolong our interview
unnecessarily, in view of the possible return of the police at any
moment, but you might as well be comfortable. You will pardon me again
if I take another liberty"--he crossed the room, turned the key in the
lock of the door leading into the hall, and returned to the desk. "Sit
down, Mr. Mittel!" he repeated, a sudden rasp in his voice.

Mittel, none too graciously, now seated himself.

"Look here, my fine fellow," he burst out, "you're carrying things with
a pretty high hand, aren't you? You seem to have eluded the police for
the moment, somehow, but let me tell you I--"

"No," interrupted Jimmie Dale softly, "let ME tell you--all there is
to be told." He leaned over the desk and stared rudely at the bruise on
Mittel's face. "Rather a nasty crack, that," he remarked.

Mittel's fists clenched, and an angry flush swept his cheeks.

"I'd have made it a good deal harder," said Jimmie Dale, with sudden
insolence, "if I hadn't been afraid of putting you out of business and
so precluding the possibility of this little meeting. Now then"--the
revolver swung upward and held steadily on a line with Mittel's eyes--
"I'll trouble you for the diagram of that Alaskan claim that belongs to
Mrs. Michael Breen!"

Mittel, staring fascinated into the little, round, black muzzle of the
automatic, edged back in his chair.

"So--so that's what you're after, is it?" he jerked out. "Well"--he
laughed unnaturally and waved his hand at the disarray of the
room--"it's been stolen already."

"I know that," said Jimmie Dale grimly. "By--YOU!"

"Me!" Mittel started up in his chair, a whiteness creeping into his
face. "Me! I--I--"

"Sit down!" Jimmie Dale's voice rang out ominously cold. "I haven't any
time to spare. You can appreciate that. But even if the police return
before that map is in my possession, they will still be TOO LATE as
far as you are concerned. Do you understand? Furthermore, if I am
caught--you are ruined. Let me make it quite plain that I know
the details of your little game. You are a curb broker, Mr.
Mittel--ostensibly. In reality, you run what is nothing better than an
exceedingly profitable bucket shop. The Weasel has been a customer
and also a stool for you for years. How Hamvert met the Weasel is
unimportant--he came East with the intention of getting in touch with a
slick crook to help him--the Weasel is the coincidence, that is all. I
quite understand that you have never met Hamvert, nor Hamvert you, nor
that Hamvert was aware that you and the Weasel had anything to do
with one another and were playing in together--but that equally is
unimportant. When Hamvert engaged the Weasel for ten thousand dollars
to get the map from you for him, the Weasel chose the line of least
resistance. He KNEW you, and approached you with an offer to split the
money in return for the map. It was not a question of your accepting his
offer--it was simply a matter of how you could do it and still protect
yourself. The Weasel was well qualified to point the way--a fake robbery
of your house would answer the purpose admirably--you could not be held
either legally or morally responsible for a document that was placed,
unsolicited by you, in your possession, if it were stolen from you."

Mittel's face was ashen, colourless. His hands were opening and shutting
with nervous twitches on the top of the desk.

Jimmie Dale's lips curled.

"But"--Jimmie Dale was clipping off his words now viciously--"neither
you nor the Weasel were willing to trust the other implicitly--perhaps
you know each other too well. You were unwilling to turn over the map
until you had received your share of the money, and you were equally
unwilling to turn it over until you were SAFE; that is, until you had
engineered your fake robbery even to the point of notifying the police
that it had been committed; the Weasel, on the other hand, had some
scruples about parting with any of the money without getting the map in
one hand before he let go of the banknotes with the other. It was very
simply arranged, however, and to your mutual satisfaction. While you
robbed your own house this evening, he was to get half the money in
advance from Hamvert, giving Hamvert to understand that HE had planned
to commit the robbery himself to-night. He was to come out here then,
receive the map from you in exchange for your share of the money, return
to Hamvert with the map, and receive in turn his own share. I might
say that Hamvert actually paid down the advance--and it was perhaps
unfortunate for you that you paid such scrupulous attention to details
as to cut your own telephone wires! I had not, of course, an exact
knowledge of the hour or minute in which you proposed to stage your
little play here. The object of my first visit a little while ago was
to forestall your turning the diagram over to the Weasel. Circumstances
favoured you for the moment. I am back again, however, for the same
purpose--the map!"

Mittel, in a cowed way, was huddled back in his chair. He smiled
miserably at Jimmie Dale.

"QUICK!" Jimmie Dale flung out the word in a sharp, peremptory bark. "Do
you need to be told that the CARTRIDGES are dry?"

Mittel's hand, trembling, went into his pocket and produced an envelope.

"Open it!" commanded Jimmie Dale. "And lay it on the desk, so that I can
read it--I am too wet to touch it."

Mittel obeyed--like a dog that has been whipped.

A glance at the paper, and Jimmie Dale's eyes lifted again--to sweep the
floor of the room. He pointed to a pile of books and documents in one
corner that had been thrown out of the safe.

"Go over there and pick up that check book!" he ordered tersely.

"What for?" Mittel made feeble protest.

"Never mind what for!" snapped Jimmie Dale. "Go and get it--and HURRY!"

Once more Mittel obeyed--and dropped the book hesitantly on the desk.

Jimmie Dale stared silently, insolently, contemptuously at the other.

Mittel stirred uneasily, sat down, shifted his feet, and his fingers
fumbled aimlessly over the top of the desk.

"Compared with you," said Jimmie Dale, in a low voice, "the Weasel, ay,
and Hamvert, too, crooks though they are, are gentlemen! Michael Breen,
as he died, told his wife to take that paper to some one she could
trust, who would help her and tell her what to do; and, knowing no one
to go to, but because she scrubbed your floors and therefore thought
you were a fine gentleman, she came timidly to you, and trusted you--you

Jimmie Dale laughed suddenly--not pleasantly. Mittel shivered.

"Hamvert and Breen were partners out there in Alaska when Breen first
went out," said Jimmie Dale slowly, pulling the tin can wrapped in
oilskin from his pocket. "Hamvert swindled Breen out of the one strike
he made, and Mrs. Breen and her little girl back here were reduced to
poverty. The amount of that swindle was, I understand, fifteen thousand
dollars. I have ten of it here, contributed by the Weasel and Hamvert;
and you will, I think, recognise therein a certain element of poetic
justice--but I am still short five thousand dollars."

Jimmie Dale removed the cover from the tin can. Mittel gazed at the
contents numbly.

"You perhaps did not hear me?" prompted Jimmie Dale coldly. "I am still
short five thousand dollars."

Mittel circled his lips with the tip of his tongue.

"What do you want?" he whispered hoarsely.

"The balance of the amount." There was an ominous quiet in Jimmie
Dale's voice. "A check payable to Mrs. Michael Breen for five thousand

"I--I haven't got that much in the bank," Mittel fenced, stammering.

"No? Then I should advise you to see that you have by ten o'clock
to-morrow morning!" returned Jimmie Dale curtly. "Make out that check!"

Mittel hesitated. The revolver edged insistently a little farther across
the desk--and Mittel, picking up a pen, wrote feverishly. He tore the
check from its stub, and, with a snarl, pushed it toward Jimmie Dale.

"Fold it!" instructed Jimmie Dale, in the same curt tones. "And fold
that diagram with it. Put them both in this box. Thank you!" He wrapped
the oilskin around the box again, and returned the box to his pocket.
And again with that insolent, contemptuous stare, he surveyed the man at
the desk--then he backed to the French windows. "It might be as well to
remind you, Mittel," he cautioned sternly, "that if for any reason this
check is not honoured, whether through lack of funds or an attempt by
you to stop payment, you'll be in a cell in the Tombs to-morrow for this
night's work--that is quite understood, isn't it?"

Mittel was on his feet--sweat glistened on his forehead.

"My God!" he cried out shrilly. "Who are you?"

And Jimmie Dale smiled and stepped out on the lawn.

"Ask the Weasel," said Jimmie Dale--and the next instant, lost in the
shadows of the house, was running for his car.



DEATH TO THE GRAY SEAL!"--through the underworld, in dens and dives that
sheltered from the law the vultures that preyed upon society, prompted
by self-fear, by secret dread, by reason of their very inability
to carry out their purpose, the whispered sentence grew daily more
venomous, more insistent. THE GRAY SEAL, DEAD OR ALIVE--BUT THE GRAY
SEAL!" It was the "standing orders" of the police. Railed at by a
populace who angrily demanded at its hands this criminal of criminals,
mocked at and threatened by a virulent press, stung to madness by the
knowledge of its own impotence, flaunted impudently to its face by this
mysterious Gray Seal to whose door the law laid a hundred crimes, for
whom the bars of a death cell in Sing Sing was the certain goal could
he but be caught, the police, to a man, was like an uncaged beast that,
flicked to the raw by some unseen assailant and murderous in its fury,
was crouched to strike. Grim paradox--a common bond that linked the
hands of the law with those that outraged it!

Death to the Gray Seal! Was it, at last, the beginning of the end?
Jimmie Dale, as Larry the Bat, unkempt, disreputable in appearance,
supposed dope fiend, a figure familiar to every denizen below the dead
line, skulked along the narrow, ill-lighted street of the East Side
that, on the corner ahead, boasted the notorious resort to which Bristol
Bob had paid the doubtful, if appropriate, compliment of giving his
name. From under the rim of his battered hat, Jimmie Dale's eyes, veiled
by half-closed, well-simulated drug-laden lids, missed no detail either
of his surroundings or pertaining to the passers-by. Though already late
in the evening, half-naked children played in the gutters; hawkers of
multitudinous commodities cried their wares under gasoline banjo torches
affixed to their pushcarts; shawled women of half a dozen races, and men
equally cosmopolitan, loitered at the curb, or blocked the pavement,
or brushed by him. Now a man passed him, flinging a greeting from
the corner of his mouth; now another, always without movement of the
lips--and Jimmie Dale answered them--from the corner of his mouth.

But while his eyes were alert, his mind was only subconsciously attune
to his surroundings. Was it indeed the beginning of the end? Some day,
he had told himself often enough, the end must come. Was it coming
now, surely, with a sort of grim implacability--when it was too late to
escape! Slowly, but inexorably, even his personal freedom of action
was narrowing, being limited, and, ironically enough, through the very
conditions he had himself created as an avenue of escape.

It was not only the police now; it was, far more to be feared, the
underworld as well. In the old days, the role of Larry the Bat had been
assumed at intervals, at his own discretion, when, in a corner, he had
no other way of escape; now it was forced upon him almost daily. The
character of Larry the Bat could no longer be discarded at will. He had
flung down the gauntlet to the underworld when, as the Gray Seal, he had
closed the prison doors behind Stangeist, The Mope, Australian Ike, and
Clarie Deane, and the underworld had picked the gauntlet up. Betrayed,
as they believed, by the one who, though unknown to them; they had
counted the greatest among themselves, and each one fearful that his own
betrayal might come next, every crook, every thug in the Bad Lands
now eyed his oldest pal with suspicion and distrust, and each was a
self-constituted sleuth, with the prod of self-preservation behind him,
sworn to the accomplishment of that unhallowed slogan--death to the Gray
Seal. Almost daily now he must show himself as Larry the Bat in some
gathering of the underworld--a prolonged absence from his haunts was not
merely to invite certain suspicion, where all were suspicious of each
other, it was to invite certain disaster. He had now either to carry
the role like a little old man of the sea upon his back, or renounce it
forever. And the latter course he dared not even consider--the Sanctuary
was still the Sanctuary, and the role of Larry the Bat was still a
refuge, the trump card in the lone hand he played.

He reached the corner, pushed open the door of Bristol Bob's, and
shuffled in. The place was a glare of light, a hideous riot of noise. On
a polished section of the floor in the centre, a turkey trot was in
full swing; laughter and shouting vied raucously with an impossible

Jimmie Dale slowly made the circuit of the room past the tables, that,
ranged around the sides, were packed with occupants who thumped their
glasses in tempo with the music and clamoured at the rushing waiters
for replenishment. A dozen, two dozen, men and women greeted him. Jimmie
Dale indifferently returned their salutes. What a galaxy of crooks--the
cream of the underworld! His eyes, under half-closed lids, swept the
faces--lags, dips, gatmen, yeggs, mob stormers, murderers, petty sneak
thieves, stalls, hangers-on--they were all there. He knew them all; he
was known to all.

He shuffled on to the far end of the room, his leer a little arrogant,
a certain arrogance, too, in the tilt of his battered hat. He also
was quite a celebrity in that gathering--Larry the Bat was of the
aristocracy and the elite of gangland. Well, the show was over; he had
stalked across the stage, performed for his audience--and in another
hour now, free until he must repeat the same performance the next day in
some other equally notorious dive, he would be sitting in for a rubber
of bridge at that most exclusive of all clubs, the St. James, where none
might enter save only those whose names were vouched for in the highest
and most select circles, and where for partners he would possibly have
a justice of the supreme court, or mayhap an eminent divine! He looked
suddenly around him, as though startled. It always startled him, that
comparison. There was something too stupendous to be simply ironical in
the incongruity of it. If--if he were ever run to earth!

His eyes met those of a heavy-built, coarse-featured man, the chewed end
of a cigar in his mouth, who stepped from behind the bar, carrying a tin
tray with two full glasses upon it. It was Bristol Bob, ex-pugilist, the

"How're you, Larry?" grunted the man, with what he meant to be a smile.

Jimmie Dale was standing in the doorway of a passage that prefaced a
rear exit to the lane. He moved aside to allow the other to pass.

"'Ello, Bristol," he returned dispassionately.

Bristol Bob went on along down the passage, and Jimmie Dale shuffled
slowly after him. He had intended to leave the place by the rear
door--it obviated the possibility of an undesirable acquaintance joining
company with him if he went out by the main entrance. But now his
eyes were fixed on the proprietor's back with a sort of speculative
curiosity. There was a private room off the passage, with a window on
the lane; but they must be favoured customers indeed that Bristol Bob
would condescend to serve personally--any one who knew Bristol Bob knew

Jimmie Dale slowed his shuffling gait, then quickened it again. Bristol
Bob opened the door and passed into the private room--the door was just
closing as Jimmie Dale shuffled by. He had had only a glance inside--but
it was enough. They were favoured customers indeed! It was no wonder
that Bristol Bob himself was on the job! Two men were in the room:
Lannigan of headquarters, rated the smartest plain-clothes man in the
country--and, across the table from Lannigan, Whitey Mack, as clever,
finished and daring a crook as was to be found in the Bad Lands, whose
particular "line" was diamonds, or, in the vernacular of his ilk, "white
stones," that had earned him the sobriquet of "Whitey." Lannigan of
headquarters, Whitey Mack of the underworld, sworn enemies those two--in
secret session! Bristol Bob might well play the part of outer guard. If
a choice few of those outside in the dance hall could get a glimpse into
that private room it would be "good-night" to Whitey Mack.

Jimmie Dale's eyes were narrowed a little as he shuffled on down the
passage. Lannigan and Whitey Mack with their heads together! What was
the game? There was nothing in common between the two men. Lannigan, it
was well known, could not be "reached." Whitey Mack, with his ingenious
cleverness, coupled with a cold-blooded fearlessness that had made him
an object of unholy awe and respect in the eyes of the underworld, was a
thorn that was sore beyond measure in the side of the police.
Certainly, it was no ordinary thing that had brought these two together;
especially, since, with the unrest and suspicion that was bubbling
and seething below the dead line, and with which there was none more
intimate than Whitey Mack, Whitey Mack was inviting a risk in "making
up" with the police that could only be accounted for by some urgent and
vital incentive.

Jimmie Dale pushed open the door that gave on the lane. Behind him,
Bristol Bob closed the door of the private room and retreated back along
the passage. Jimmie Dale stepped out into the lane--and instinctively
his eyes sought the window of the private room. The shade was drawn,
only a yellow murk filtered out into the black, unlighted lane, but
suddenly he started noiselessly toward it. The window was open a bare
inch or so at the bottom!

The sill was just shoulder high, and, placing his ear to the opening,
he flattened himself against the wall. He could not see inside, for the
shade was drawn well to the bottom; but he could hear as distinctly as
though he were at the table beside the two men--and at the first words,
the loose, disjointed frame of Larry the Bat seemed to tauten curiously
and strain forward lithe and tense.

"This Gray Seal dope listens good, Whitey; but, coming from you, I'm
leery. You've got to show me."

"Don't you want him?" There was a nasty laugh from Whitey Mack.

"You BET I want him!" returned the headquarters man with a suppressed
savagery that left no doubt as to his earnestness. "I want him fast
enough, but--"

"Then, blast him, so do I!" Whitey Mack rapped out with a vicious snarl.
"So does every guy in the fleet down here. We got it in for him. You
get that, don't you? He's got Stangeist and his gang steered for the
electric chair now; he put a crimp in the Weasel the other night--get
that? He's like a blasted wizard with what he knows. And who'll he deal
the icy mitt to next? Me--damn him--me, for all I know!"

"That's all right," observed Lannigan coolly. "I'm not questioning your
sincerity for a minute; I know all about that; but that doesn't land the
Gray Seal. I'll work with you if you've anything to offer, but we've had
enough 'tips' and 'information' handed us at headquarters in the last
few years to make us a trifle skeptical. Show me what you've got,

"Show you!" echoed Whitey Mack passionately. "Sure, I'll show you!
That's what I'm going to do--show you. I'll show you the Gray Seal! I
ain't handing you any tips. I'VE FOUND OUT WHO THE GRAY SEAL IS!"

There was a tense silence. It seemed to Jimmie Dale as though cold
fingers were clutching at his heart, stifling its beat--then the blood
came bursting to his forehead. He could not see into the room, but
that silence was eloquent. It seemed as though he could picture the two
men--Lannigan leaning suddenly forward--Lannigan and Whitey Mack staring
tensely into each other's eyes.

"You--WHAT!" It came low and grim from Lannigan.

"That's what!" asserted Whitey Mack bluntly. "You heard me! That's what
I said! I know who the Gray Seal is--and I'm the only guy that's wise to
him. Am I letting you in right?"

"You're sure?" demanded Lannigan hoarsely. "You're sure? Who is he,

There was a half laugh, half snarl from Whitey Mack.

"Oh, no, you don't!" he growled. "Nix on that! What do you take me
for--a fool? You beat it out of here and round him up--eh--while I suck
my thumbs? Say, forget it! Do you think I'm doing this because I love
you? Why, blame you, you've been aching for a year to put the bracelets
on me yourself! Say, wake up! I'm in on this myself."

Again that silence. Then Lannigan spoke slowly, in a puzzled way.

"I don't get you, Whitey," he said. "What do you mean?" Then, a little
sharply: "You're quite right; you've got some reputation yourself, and
you're badly 'wanted' if we could get the 'goods' on you. If you're
trying to plant something, look out for yourself, or--"

"Can that!" snapped Whitey Mack threateningly. "Can that sort of spiel
right now--or quit! I ain't telling you his name--yet. BUT I'LL TAKE
YOU TO HIM TO-NIGHT--and you and me nabs him together. Is that straight
enough goods for you?"

"Don't get sore," said Lannigan, more pacifically. "Yes, if you'll do
that it's good enough for any man. But lay your cards on the table face
up, Whitey--I want to see what you opened the pot on."

"You've seen 'em," Whitey Mack answered ungraciously. "I've told you
already. The Gray Seal goes out for keeps--curse him for a snitch! If
I bumped him off, or wised up any of the guys to it, and we was caught,
we'd get the juice for it even if it was the Gray Seal, wouldn't we?
Well, what's the use! If one of you dicks get him, he gets bumped off
just the same, only regular, up in the wire parlour at Sing Sing. I
ain't looking for that kind of trouble when I can duck it. See?"

"Sure," said Lannigan.

"Besides, and moreover," continued Whitey Mack, "there's SOME reward
hung out for him that I'm figuring to born in on. I'd swipe it all
myself, don't you make any mistake about that, and you'd never get a
look-in, only, sore as the mob is on the Gray Seal, it ain't healthy for
any guy around these parts to get the reputation of being a snitch, no
matter who he snitches on. Bump him off--sure! Snitching--well, you get
the idea, eh? I'm ducking that too. Get me?"

"I get you," said Lannigan, with a short, pleased laugh.

"Well, then," announced Whitey Mack, "here's my proposition, and it's my
turn to hand out the 'look-out-for-your-self' dope. I'm busting the game
wide open for you to play, but you throw me down, and"--his voice sank
into a sullen snarl again--"you can take it from me, I'll get you for

"All right," responded Lannigan soberly. "Let's hear it. If I agree to
it, I'll stick to it."

"I believe you," said Whitey Mack curtly. "That's why I picked you out
for the medal they'll pin on you for this. And here's getting down to
tacks! I'll lead you to the Gray Seal to-night and help you nab him and
stay with you to the finish, but there's to be nobody but you and me on
the job. When it's done I fade away, and nobody's to know I snitched,
and no questions asked as to how I found out about the Gray Seal.
I ain't looking for any of the glory--you can fix that up to suit
yourself. The cash is different--you come across with half the reward
the day they pay it."

"You'll get it!" There was savage elation in Lannigan's voice, the
emphatic smash of a fist on the table. "You're on, Whitey. And if we get
the Gray Seal to-night, I'll do better by you than that."

"We'll get him!" said Whitey Mack, with a vicious oath. "And--"

Jimmie Dale crouched suddenly low down, close against the wall. The
crunch of a footstep sounded from the end of the lane. Some one had
turned in from the cross street, some fifty yards away, and was heading
evidently for the back entrance to Bristol Bob's. Jimmie Dale edged
noiselessly, cautiously back past the doorway, kept on, pressed close
against the wall, and finally paused. He had not been seen. The back
door of Bristol Bob's opened and closed. The man had gone in.

For a moment Jimmie Dale stood hesitant. There was a wild surging in his
brain, something like a myriad batteries of trip hammers seemed to be
pounding at his temples. Then, almost blindly, he kept on down the lane
in the same direction in which he had started to retreat--as well one
cross street as another.

He turned into the cross street, went along it--and presently emerged
into the full tide of the Bowery. It was garishly lighted; people
swarmed about him. Subconsciously, there were crowded sidewalks;
subconsciously, he was on the Bowery--that was all.

Ruin, disaster, peril faced him--faced him, and staggered him with the
suddenness of the shock. Was it true? No; it could not be true! It was
a bluff--Whitey Mack was bluffing. Jimmie Dale's lips grew thin in a
mirthless smile as he shook his head. Neither Whitey Mack nor any other
man would dare to bluff like that. It was too straight, too open-handed,
Whitey Mack had laid his cards too plainly on the table. Whitey Mack's
words rang in his ears: "I'll LEAD you to the Gray Seal to-night and
help you nab him and stay with you to the finish." The man meant what he
said, meant what he said, too, about the "finish" of the Gray Seal; not
a man in the Bad Lands but meant--death to the Gray Seal! But how, by
what means, when, where had Whitey Mack got his information? "I'm the
only one that's wise," Whitey Mack had said. It seemed impossible. It
WAS impossible! Whitey Mack was sincere enough probably in what he had
said, but the man simply could not know. Whitey Mack could only have
spotted some one that, for some reason or other, he IMAGINED was the
Gray Seal. That was it--must be it! Whitey Mack had made a mistake. What
clew could he have obtained to--

Over the unwashed face of Larry the Bat a gray pallor spread slowly. His
fingers were plucking at the frayed edge of his inside vest pocket.
The dark eyes seemed to turn coal-black. A laugh, like the laugh of one
damned, rose to his lips, and was choked back. It was gone! GONE! That
thin metal case, like a cigarette case, that, between the little sheets
of oil paper, held those diamond-shaped, gray-coloured, adhesive seals,
the insignia of the Gray Seal--was gone! Clew! It seemed as though there
were an overpowering nausea upon him. CLEW! That little case was not a
clew--it was a death warrant!

His hands clenched fiercely. If he could only think for a moment! The
lining of his pocket had given away. The case had dropped out. But there
was nothing about the case to identify any one as the Gray Seal unless
it were found in one's actual possession. Therefore Whitey Mack, to have
solved his identity, must have seen him drop the case. There could be no
question about that. It was equally obvious then that Whitey Mack would
know the Gray Seal as Larry the Bat. Did he also know him as Jimmie
Dale? Yes, or no? It was a vital question. His life hung on it.

That keen, facile brain, numbed for the moment, was beginning to work
with lightning speed. It was four o'clock that afternoon when he had
assumed the character of Larry the Bat--some time between four o'clock
and the present, it was now well after eleven, the case had dropped from
his pocket. There had been ample time then for Whitey Mack to have
made that appointment with Lannigan--and ample time to have made a
surreptitious visit to the Sanctuary. Had Whitey Mack gone there? Had
Whitey Mack found that hiding place in the flooring under the oilcloth?
Had Whitey Mack discovered that the Gray Seal was not only Larry the
Bat--but Jimmie Dale?

Jimmie Dale swept his hand across his forehead. It was damp from
little clinging beads of moisture. Should he go to the Sanctuary and
change--become Jimmie Dale again? Was it the safest thing to do--or the
most dangerous? Even if Whitey Mack had been there and discovered the
dual personality of Larry the Bat, how would he, Jimmie Dale, know it?
The man would have been crafty enough to have left no sign behind him.
Was it to the Sanctuary that Whitey Mack meant to lead Lannigan that
evening--or did Whitey Mack know him as Jimmie Dale, and to make it
the more sensational, plan to carry out the coup, say, at the St. James
Club? Whitey Mack and Lannigan were still at Bristol Bob's; he had
probably time, if he so elected, to reach the Sanctuary, change, and get
away again. But every minute was priceless now. What should he do? Run
from the city as he was for cover--or take the gambler's chance? Whitey
Mack knew him as Larry the Bat--it was not certain that Whitey Mack knew
him as Jimmie Dale.

He had halted, absorbed, in front of a moving-picture theatre. Great
placards, at first but a blur of colour, suddenly forced themselves in
concrete form upon his consciousness. Letters a foot high leaped out at
him: "THE DOUBLE LIFE." There was the picture of a banker in his private
office hastily secreting a forged paper as the hero in the guise of a
clerk entered; the companion picture was the banker in convict stripes
staring out from behind the barred doors of a cell. There seemed a
ghastly augury in the coincidence. Why should a thing like that be
thrust upon him to shake his nerve when he needed nerve now more than he
had ever needed it in his life before?

He raised his hand to jerk aimlessly at the brim of his hat, dropped
his hand abruptly to his side again, and started quickly, hurriedly away
through the throng around him. A sort of savagery had swept upon him.
In a flash he had made his decision. He would take the gambler's chance!
And afterward--Jimmie Dale's lips were like a thin, straight line--it
was Whitey Mack's life or his own! Whitey Mack had said he was the only
one that was wise--and Whitey Mack had not told Lannigan yet, wouldn't
tell Lannigan until the show-down. If he, Jimmie Dale, got to the
Sanctuary, became Jimmie Dale and got away again, even if Whitey Mack
knew him as Jimmie Dale, there was still a chance. It was his life or
Whitey Mack's--Whitey Mack, with his lean-jawed, clean-shaven wolf's
face! If he could get Whitey Mack before the other was ready to tell
Lannigan! Surely he had the right of self-preservation! Surely his life
was as valuable as Whitey Mack's, as valuable as a man's who, as those
in the secrets of the underworld knew well enough, had blood upon his
hands, who lived by crime, who was a menace to the community! Had he not
the right to preserve his own life at the expense of one such as that?
He had never taken life--the thought was abhorrent! But was there any
other way in event of Whitey Mack knowing him as Jimmie Dale? His
back was against the wall; he was trapped; certain death, and, worse,
dishonour stared him in the face. Lannigan and Whitey Mack would be
together--the odds would be two to one against him--and he had no
quarrel with Lannigan--somehow he must let Lannigan out of it.

The other side of the street was less crowded. He crossed over, and,
still with the shuffling tread that dozens around him knew as the
characteristic gait of Larry the Bat, but covering the ground with
amazing celerity, he hurried along. It was only at the end of the block,
that cross street from the Bowery that led to the Sanctuary. How much
time had he? He turned the corner into the darker cross street. Whitey
Mack would have learned from Bristol Bob that Larry the Bat had just
been there; that is, that Larry the Bat was not at the Sanctuary. Whitey
Mack would probably be in no hurry--he and Lannigan might wait until
later, until Whitey Mack should be satisfied that Larry the Bat had gone
home. It was the line of least resistance; they would not attempt to
scour the city for him. They might even wait in that private room at
Bristol Bob's until they decided that it was time to sally out. He might
perhaps still find them there when he got back; at any rate, from there
he must pick up their trail again. On the other hand--all this was but
supposition--they might make at once for the Sanctuary to lie in wait
for him. In any case there was need, desperate need, for haste.

He glanced sharply around him; and, by the side of the tenement house
now that bordered on the alleyway, with a curious, swift, gliding
motion, he seemed to blend into the shadow and darkness. It was the
Sanctuary, that room on the first floor of the tenement, the tenement
that had three entrances, three exits--a passageway through to the
saloon on the next street that abutted on the rear, the usual front
door, and the side door in the alleyway. Gone was the shuffling gait.
Quick, alert, he ran, crouching, bent down, along the alleyway, reached
the side door, opened it stealthily, closed it behind him with equal
caution, and, in the dark entry, stood motionless, listening intently.

There was no sound. He began to mount the rickety, dilapidated stairs;
and, where it seemed that the lightest tread must make them creak out in
blatant protest, his trained muscles, delicately compensating his body
weight, carried him upward with a silence that was almost uncanny. There
was need of silence, as there was need of haste. He was not so sure
now of the time at his disposal--that he had even reached the Sanctuary
FIRST. How long had he loitered in that half-dazed way on the Bowery?
He did not know--perhaps longer than he had imagined. There was the
possibility that Whitey Mack and Lannigan were already above, waiting
for him; but, even if they were not already there and he got away before
they came, it was imperative that no one should know that Larry the Bat
had come and gone.

He reached the landing, and paused again, his right hand, with a vicious
muzzle of his automatic peeping now from between his fingers, thrown
a little forward. It was black, utterly black, around him. Again that
stealthy, catlike tread--and his ear was at the keyhole of the Sanctuary
door. A full minute, priceless though it was, passed; then, satisfied
that the room was empty, he drew his head back from the keyhole, and
those slim, tapering fingers, that in their tips seemed to embody
all the human senses, felt over the lock. Apparently it had been
undisturbed; but that was no proof that Whitey Mack had not been there
after finding the metal case. Whitey Mack was known to be clever with a
lock--clever enough for that, anyhow.

He slipped in the key, turned it, and, on hinges that were always oiled,
silently pushed the door open and stepped across the threshold. He
closed the door until it was just ajar, that any sound might reach him
from without--and, whipping off his coat, began to undress swiftly.

There was no light. He dared not use the gas; it might be seen from the
alleyway. He was moving now quickly, surely, silently here and there.
It was like some weird spectre figure, a little blacker than the
surrounding darkness, flitting about the room. The oilcloth in the
corner was turned back, the loose flooring lifted, the clothes of Jimmie
Dale taken out, the rags of Larry the Bat put in. The minutes flew by.
It was not the change of clothing that took long--it was the eradication
of Larry the Bat's make-up from his face, throat, neck, wrists, and
hands. Occasionally his head was turned in a tense, listening attitude;
but always the fingers were busy, working with swift deftness.

It was done at last. Larry the Bat had vanished, and in his place
stood Jimmie Dale, the young millionaire, the social lion of New York,
immaculate in well-tailored tweeds. He stooped to the hole in the
flooring, and, his fingers going unerringly to their hiding place, took
out a black silk mask and an electric flashlight--his automatic was
already in his possession. His lips parted grimly. Who knew what part
a flashlight might not play--and he would need the mask for Lannigan's
benefit, even if it did not disguise him from Whitey Mack. Had he left
any telltale evidence of his visit? It was almost worth the risk of a
light to make sure. He hesitated, then shook his head, and, stooping
again, carefully replaced the flooring and laid the oilcloth over it--he
dared not show a light at any cost.

But now even more caution than before was necessary. At times, the
lodgers had naturally enough seen their fellow lodger, Larry the Bat,
enter and leave the tenement--none had ever seen Jimmie Dale either
leave or enter. He stole across the room to the door, halted to assure
himself that the hall was empty, slipped out into the hall, and locked
the door behind him. Again that trained, long-practiced, silent tread
upon the stairs. It seemed as though an hour passed before he reached
the bottom, and his brain was shrieking at him to hurry, hurry,
HURRY! The entryway at last, the door, the alleyway, a long breath of
relief--and he was on the cross street.

A step, two, he took in the direction of the Bowery--and he was bending
down as though to tie his shoe, his automatic, from his side pocket,
concealed in his hand. WAS THAT SOME ONE THERE? He could have sworn he
saw a shadow-like form start out from behind the steps of the house on
the opposite side of the street as he had emerged from the alleyway.
In his bent posture, without seemingly turning his head, his eyes swept
sharply up and down the other side of the ill-lighted street. Nothing!
There was not even a pedestrian in sight on the block from there to the

Jimmie Dale straightened up nonchalantly, and stooped almost instantly
again, as though the lace were still proving refractory. Again that
sharp, searching glance. Again--nothing! He went forward now in apparent
unconcern; but his right hand, instead of being buried in his coat
pocket, swung easily at his side.

It was strange! His ineffective ruse to the contrary, he was certain
that he had not been mistaken. Was it Whitey Mack? Was the question
answered? Was the Gray Seal known, too, as Jimmie Dale? Were they
trailing him now, with the climax to come at the club, at his own
palatial home, wherever the surroundings would best lend themselves
to assuaging that inordinate thirst for the sensational that was so
essentially a characteristic of the confirmed criminal? What a headline
in the morning's papers it would make!

At the corner he loitered by the curb to light a cigarette--still not a
soul in sight on either side of the street behind him, except a couple
of Italians who had just passed by. Strange again! The intuition, if it
were only intuition, was still strong. He swung abruptly on his heel,
mingled with the passers-by on the Bowery, walked a rapid half dozen
steps until the building hid the cross street, then ran across the road
to the opposite side of the Bowery, and, in a crowd now, came back to
the corner. He crossed from curb to curb slowly, sheltered by a fringe
of people that, however, in no way obstructed his view down the side
street. And then Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders. He had evidently
been mistaken, after all. He was overexcited; his nerves were raw--that,
perhaps, was the solution. Meanwhile, every minute was counting, if
Whitey Mack and Lannigan should still be at Bristol Bob's.

He kept on down the Bowery, hurrying with growing impatience through the
crowds that massed in front of various places of amusement. He had not
intended to come along the Bowery, and, except for what had occurred,
would have taken a less frequented street. He would turn off at the next

He was in front of that moving-picture theatre again. "THE DOUBLE
LIFE"--his eyes were attracted involuntarily to the lurid, overdone
display. It seemed to threaten him; it seemed to dangle before him a
premonition as it were, of what the morning held in store; but now, too,
it seemed to feed into flame that smouldering fury that possessed him.
His life--or Whitey Mack's! Men, women, and the children who turned
night into day in that quarter of the city were clustered thick around
the signs, hiving like bees to the bald sensationalism. Almost savagely
he began to force his way through the crowd--and the next instant, like
a man stunned, had stopped in his tracks. His fingers had closed in a
fierce, spasmodic clutch over an envelope that had been thrust suddenly
into his hand.

"JIMMIE!" from somewhere came a low, quick voice. "Jimmie, it is
half-past eleven now--HURRY."

He whirled, scanning wildly this face, then that. It was her voice--HER
voice! The Tocsin! The sensitive fingers were telegraphing to his brain,
as they always did, that the texture of the envelope, too, was hers.
Her voice; yes, anywhere, out of a thousand voices, he would distinguish
hers--but her face, he had never seen that. Which, out of all the crowd
around him, was hers? Surely he could tell her by her dress; she would
be different; her personality alone must single her out. She--

"Say, have youse got de pip, or do youse t'ink youse owns de earth!" a
man flung at him, heaving and pushing to get by.

With a start, though he scarcely heard the man, Jimmie Dale moved on.
His brain was afire. All the irony of the world seemed massed in a
sudden, overwhelming attack upon him. It was useless--intuitively he
had known it was useless from the instant he had heard her voice. It was
always the same--always! For years she had eluded him like that, come
upon him without warning and disappeared, but leaving always that
tangible proof of her existence--a letter, the call of the Gray Seal to
arms. But to-night it was as it had never been before. It was not alone
baffled chagrin now, not alone the longing, the wild desire to see her
face, to look into her eyes--it was life and death. She had come at the
very moment when she, perhaps alone of all the world, could have pointed
the way out, when life, liberty, everything that was common to them both
was at stake, in deadly peril--and she had gone, ignorant of it all,
leaving him staggered by the very possibility of the succour that was
held up before his eyes only to be snatched away without power of his to
grasp it. His intuition had not been at fault--he had made no mistake
in that shadow across the street from the Sanctuary. It had been the
Tocsin. He had been followed; and it was she who had followed him,
until, in a crowd, she had seized the opportunity of a moment ago.
Though ultimately, perhaps, it changed nothing, it was a relief in a way
to know that it was she, not Whitey Mack, who had been lurking there;
but her persistent, incomprehensible determination to preserve the
mystery with which she surrounded herself was like now to cost them both
a ghastly price. If he could only have had one word with her--just one

The letter in his hand crackled under his clenched fist. He stared at
it in a half-blind, half-bitter way. The call of the Gray Seal to arms!
Another coup, with its incident danger and peril, that she had planned
for him to execute! He could have laughed aloud at the inhuman mockery
of it. The call of the Gray Seal to arms--NOW! When with every faculty
drained to its last resource, cornered, trapped, he was fighting for his
very existence!

"Jimmie, it is half-past eleven now--HURRY!" The words were jangling
discordantly in his brain.

And now he laughed outright, mirthlessly. A young girl hanging on her
escort's arm, passing, glanced at him and giggled. It was a different
Jimmie Dale for the moment. For once his immobility had forsaken him. He
laughed again--a sort of unnatural, desperate indifference to everything
falling upon him. What did it matter, the moment or two it would take to
read the letter? He looked around him. He was on the corner in front
of the Palace Saloon, and, turning abruptly, he stepped in through the
swinging doors. As Larry the Bat, he knew the place well. At the rear of
the barroom and along the side of the wall were some half dozen
little stalls, partitioned off from each other. Several of these were
unoccupied, and he chose the one farthest from the entrance. It was
private enough; no one would disturb him.

From the aproned individual who presented himself he ordered a drink.
The man returned in a moment, and Jimmie Dale tossed a coin on the
table, bidding the other keep the change. He wanted no drink; the
transaction was wholly perfunctory. The waiter was gone; he pushed the
glass away from him, and tore the envelope open.

A single sheet, closely written on both sides of the paper, was in his
hand. It was her writing; there was no mistaking that, but every word,
every line bore evidence of frantic haste. Even that customary formula,
"dear philanthropic crook," that had prefaced every line she had ever
written him before, had been omitted. His eyes traversed the first few
lines with that strange indifference that had settled upon him. What,
after all, did it matter what it was; he could do nothing--not even save
himself probably. And then, with a little start, he read the lines over
again, muttering snatches from them.

". . . Max Diestricht--diamonds--the Ross-Logan stones--wedding--sliding
panel in wall of workshop--end of the room near window--ten boards to
the right from side wall--press small knot in the wood in the centre of
the tenth board--to-night . . ."

It brought a sudden thrill of excitement to Jimmie Dale that, impossible
as he would have believed it an instant ago, for the moment overshadowed
the realisation of his own peril. A robbery such as that, if it were
ever accomplished, would stir the country from end to end; it would set
New York by the ears; it would loose the police in full cry like a pack
of bloodhounds with their leashes slipped. The society columns of the
newspapers had been busy for months featuring the coming marriage of the
Ross-Logans' daughter to one of the country's young merchant princes.
The combined fortunes of the two families would make the young couple
the richest in America. The prospective groom's wedding gift was to be
a diamond necklace of perfectly matched, large stones that would eclipse
anything of the kind in the country. Europe, the foreign markets, had
been literally combed and ransacked to supply the gems. The stones had
arrived in New York the day before, the duty on them alone amounting to
over fifty thousand dollars. All this had appeared in the papers.

Jimmie Dale's brows drew together in a frown. On just exactly what
percentage the duty was figured he did not know; but it was high
enough on the basis of fifty thousand dollars to assume safely that the
assessed value of the stones was not less than four times that amount.
Two hundred thousand dollars--laid down, a quarter of a million! Well,
why not? In more than one quarter diamonds were ranked as the soundest
kind of an investment. Furthermore, through personal acquaintance with
the "high contracting parties," who were in his own set, he knew it to
be true.

He shrugged his shoulders. The papers, too, had thrown the limelight on
Max Diestricht, who, though for quite a time the fashion in the social
world, had, up to the present, been comparatively unknown to the average
New Yorker. His own knowledge of Max Diestricht went deeper than the
superficial biography furnished by the newspapers--the old Hollander
had done more than one piece of exquisite jewelry work for him. The old
fellow was a character that beggared description, eccentric to the point
of extravagance, and deaf as a post; but, in craftmanship, a modern
Cellini. He employed no workmen, lived alone over his shop on one of
the lower streets between Fifth and Sixth Avenues near Washington
Square--and possessed a splendid contempt for such protective
contrivances as safes and vaults. If his prospective patrons
expostulated on this score before intrusting him with their valuables,
they were at liberty to take their work elsewhere. It was Max Diestricht
who honoured you by accepting the commission; not you who honoured Max
Diestricht by intrusting him with it. "Of what use is it to me, a safe!"
he would exclaim. "It hides nothing; it only says, 'I am inside; do
not look farther; come and get me!' Yes? It is to explode with the
nitro-glycerin--POUF!--and I am deaf and I hear nothing. It is a
foolishness, that"--he had a habit of prodding at one with a levelled
fore-finger--"every night somewhere they are robbed, and have I been
robbed? HEIN, tell me that; have I been robbed?"

It was true. In ten years, though at times having stones and precious
metal aggregating large amounts deposited with him by his customers, Max
Diestricht had never lost so much as the gold filings. There was a
queer smile on Jimmie Dale's lips now. The knot in the tenth board
was significant! Max Diestricht was scrupulously honest, a genius in
originality and conception of design, a master in the perfection and
delicacy of his finished work--he had been commissioned to design and
set the Ross-Logan necklace.

The brain works quickly. All this and more had flashed almost
instantaneously through Jimmie Dale's mind. His eyes fell to the letter
again, and he read on. Halfway through, a sudden whiteness blanched
his face, and, following it, a surging tide of red that mounted to his
temples. It dazed him; it seemed to rob him for the moment of the
power of coherent thought. He was wrong; he had not read aright. It was
incredible, dare-devil beyond belief--and yet in its very audacity lay
success. He finished the letter, read it once more--and his fingers
mechanically began to tear it into little shreds. His brain was in a
whirl, a vortex of conflicting emotions. Had Whitey Mack and Lannigan
left Bristol Bob's yet? Where were they now? Was there time for--this?
He was staring at the little torn scraps of paper in his hand. He thrust
them suddenly into his pocket, and jerked out his watch. It was nearly
midnight. The broad, muscular shoulders seemed to square back curiously,
the jaws to clamp a little, the face to harden and grow cold until it
was like stone. With a swift movement he emptied his glass into the
cuspidor, set the glass back on the table, and stepped out from the
stall. His destination was Max Diestricht's.

The Palace Saloon was near the upper end of the Bowery, and, failing a
taxicab, of which none was in sight, his quickest method was to walk,
and he started briskly forward. It was not far; and it was barely
ten minutes from the time he had left the Palace Saloon when he swung
through Washington Square to Fifth Avenue, and, a moment later, turned
from that thoroughfare, heading west toward Sixth Avenue, along one of
those streets which, with the city's northward trend, had quite lost
any distinctive identity, and from being once a modestly fashionable
residential section had now become a conglomerate potpourri of small
tradesmen's stores, shops and apartments of the poorer class. He knew
Max Diestricht's--he could well have done without the aid of the arc
lamp which, even if dimly, indicated that low, almost tumble-down,
two-story structure tucked away between the taller buildings on either
side that almost engulfed it. It was late. The street was quiet. The
shops and stores had long since been closed, Max Diestricht's among
them--the old Hollanders' name in painted white letters stood out
against the background of a darkened workshop window. In the story
above, the lights, too, were out; Max Diestricht was probably fast
asleep--and he was stone deaf!

A glance up and down the street, and Jimmie Dale was standing, or,
rather, leaning against Max Diestricht's door. There was no one to see,
and if there were, what was there to attract attention to a man standing
nonchalantly for a moment in a doorway? It was only for a moment. Those
master fingers of Jimmie Dale were working surely, swiftly, silently. A
little steel instrument that was never out of his possession was in the
lock and out again. The door opened, closed; he drew the black silk mask
from his pocket and slipped it over his face. Immediately in front of
him the stairs led upward; immediately to his right was the door into
the shop--the modest street entrance was common to both.

The door into the workshop was not locked. He opened it, stepped inside,
and closed it quietly behind him. The place was in blackness. He stood
for a moment silent, straining his ears to catch the slightest sound,
reconstructing the plan of his surroundings in his mind as he remembered
it. It was a narrow, oblong room, running the entire depth of the
building, a very long room, blank walls on either side, a window in the
middle of the rear wall that gave on a back yard, and from the back yard
there was access to the lane; also, as he remembered the place, it was
a riot of disorder, with workbenches and odds and ends strewn without
system or reason in every direction--one had need of care to negotiate
it in the dark. He took his flashlight from his pocket, and, preliminary
to a more intimate acquaintance with the interior, glanced out through
the front window near which he stood--and, with a suppressed cry, shrank
back instinctively against the wall.

Two men were crossing the street, heading directly for the shop door.
The arc lamp lighted up their faces. IT WAS INSPECTOR LANNIGAN OF
HEADQUARTERS AND WHITEY MACK! The quick intake of Jimmie Dale breath was
sucked through clenched teeth. They were close on his heels then--far
closer than he had imagined. It would take Whitey Mack scarcely any
longer to open that front door than it had taken him. Close on his
heels! His face was rigid. He could hear them now at the door. The
flashlight in his hand winked down the length of the room. If was a
dangerous thing to do, but it was still more dangerous to stumble into
some object and make a noise. He darted forward, circuiting a workbench,
a stool, a small hand forge. Again the flashlight gleamed. Against the
side wall, near the rear, was another workbench, with a sort of coarse
canvas curtain hanging part way down in front of it, evidently to
protect such things as might be stored away beneath it from dust,
and Jimmie Dale sprang for it, whipped back the canvas, and crawled
underneath. He was not an instant too soon. As the canvas fell back into
place, the shop door opened, closed, and the two men had stepped inside.

Whitey Mack's voice, in a low whisper though it was, seemed to echo
raucously through the shop.

"Mabbe we'll have a sweet wait, but I got the straight dope on this.
He's going to make a try for Dutchy's sparklers to-night. We'll let him
go the limit, and we don't either of us make a move till he's pinched
them, and then we get him with the goods on him. He can't get away;
he hasn't a hope! There's only two ways of getting in here or getting
out--this door and window here, and a window that's down there at the
back. You guard this, and I'll take care of the other end. Savvy?"

"Right!" Lannigan answered grimly. "Go ahead!"

There was the sound of footsteps moving forward, then a vicious bump,
the scraping of some object along the floor, and a muffled curse from
Whitey Mack.

"Use your flashlight!" advised the inspector, in a guarded voice.

"I haven't got one, damn it!", growled Whitey Mack. "It's all right.
I'll get along."

Again the steps, but more warily now, as though the man were cautiously
feeling ahead of him for possible obstacles. Jimmie Dale for a moment
held his breath. He could have reached out and touched the man as the
other passed. Whitey Mack went on until he had taken up a position
against the rear wall. Jimmie Dale heard him as he brushed against it.

Then silence fell. He was between them now. Stretched full length on the
floor, Jimmie Dale raised the lower portion of the canvas away from
in front of his face. He could see nothing; the place was in Stygian
blackness; but it had been close and stifling, and, at least, it gave
him more air.

The minutes dragged by--each more interminable than the one that
had gone before. Not a movement, not a sound, and then, through the
stillness, very faint at first, came the regular, repressed breathing
of Whitey Mack, who was much the nearer of the two men. And, once
noticeable, almost imperceptible as it was it seemed to pervade the room
and fill it with a strange, ominous resonance that rose and fell until
the blackness palpitated with it.

Slowly, very slowly, Jimmie Dale's hand crept into his pocket--and crept
out again with his automatic. He lay motionless once more. Time in any
concrete sense ceased to exist. Fancied shapes began to assume form
in the darkness. By the door, Lannigan stirred uneasily, shifting his
position slightly.

Was it hours--was it only minutes? It seemed to ring through the
nerve-racking stillness like the shriek of a hurtling shell--and it was
only a whisper.

"Watch yourself, Lannigan," whispered Whitey Mack. "He's coming now
through the yard! Don't move till I start something. Let him get his
paws on the sparklers."

Silence again. And then a low rasping at the window, like the gnawing of
a rat; then, inch by inch, the sash was lifted. There was the sound as
of a body forcing its way over the sill cautiously, then a step upon the
floor inside, another, and still another. The figure of a man loomed up
suddenly against the glow of a flashlight as he threw the round, white
ray inquisitively here and there over the rear wall. And now he appeared
to be counting the boards. One, two, three--ten. His hand ran up and
down the tenth board. Again and again he repeated the operation, and
something like the snarl of a baited beast echoed through the room. He
half turned to snatch at something in his pocket, and the light for
a moment showed a black-bearded, lowering face, partially hidden by a
peaked cap that was pulled far down over his eyes.

There was the rip and tear of rending wood, as a steel jimmy, in lieu of
the spring the man evidently could not find, bit in between the boards,
a muttered oath of satisfaction, and a portion of the wall slid back,
disclosing what looked like a metal-lined cupboard. He reached in,
seized one of a dozen little boxes, and wrenched off the cover. A blue,
scintillating gleam seemed to leap out to meet the white ray of the
flashlight. The man chuckled hoarsely, and began to cram the rest of the
boxes into his pockets.

Jimmie Dale stirred. On hands and knees he was creeping now from beneath
the workbench. Something caught and tore behind him--the canvas curtain.
And at the sound, with a sharp cry, the man at the wall whirled, the
light went out, and he sprang toward the window. Jimmie Dale gained his
feet and leaped forward. A revolver shot cut a lane of fire through the
blackness; and, above the roar of the report, Whitey Mack's voice in a
fierce yell:

"It's all right, Lannigan! I got him! No--HELL!" There was a terrific
crash of breaking glass. "He's got away!"

"Not yet, he hasn't!" gritted Jimmie Dale between his teeth, and his
clubbed revolver swung crashing to the head of a dark form in front of

There was a half sigh, half moan. The form slid limply to the floor.
Lannigan was floundering down the shop, leaping obstacles in a mad rush,
his flashlight picking out the way.

Jimmie Dale stepped swiftly backward, and his hand groped out for the
droplight, over the end of the bench, that he had knocked against in
his own rush. His fingers clutched it--and the lower end of the shop was
flooded with light. Except for his felt hat that lay a little distance
away, there was no sign of Whitey Mack; the huddled form of the man,
who but a moment since had chuckled as he pocketed old Max Diestricht's
gems, lay sprawled, inert, upon the floor, and Lannigan was staring into
the muzzle of Jimmie Dale's automatic.

"Drop that gun, Lannigan!" said Jimmie Dale coolly. "And I'll trouble
you not to make a noise; it might attract attention from the street;
there's been too much already. DROP THAT GUN!"

The revolver clattered from Lannigan's hand to the floor. A step
forward, and Jimmie Dale's toe sent it spinning under a bench. Another
step, and, his revolver still covering the other, he had whipped a pair
of handcuffs from the officer's side pocket.

Lannigan, as though the thought had never occurred to him, offered no
resistance. He was staring in a dazed sort of way back and forth from
Jimmie Dale to the man on the floor.

"What's this mean?" he burst out suddenly, "Where's--"

"Your wrist, please!" requested Jimmie Dale pleasantly. "No--the left
one. Thank you"--as the handcuff snapped shut. "Now go over there and
sit down on the floor beside that fellow. QUICK!" Jimmie Dale's voice
rasped suddenly, imperatively.

Still bewildered, but a little sullen now, Lannigan obeyed. Jimmie Dale
stooped quickly, and snapped the other link of the handcuff over the
unconscious man's right wrist.

Jimmie Dale smiled.

"That's the approved way of taking your man, isn't it? Left wrist to the
prisoner's right. He's only stunned; he'll be around in a moment. Know

Lannigan shook his head.

"Take a good look at him," invited Jimmie Dale. "You ought to know most
of them in the business."

Lannigan bent over a little closer, and then, with an amazed cry, his
free hand shot forward and tore away the other's beard.


"My God!" gasped Lannigan.

"Quite so!" said Jimmie Dale evenly. "You'll find the diamonds in his
pockets, and, excuse me"--his fingers were running through Whitey Mack's
clothes--"ah, here it is"--the thin metal case was in his hand--"a
little article that belongs to me, and whose loss, I am free to admit,
caused me considerable concern until I was informed that he had only
found it without having the slightest idea as to whom it belonged.
It made quite a difference!" He had opened the case carelessly before
Lannigan's eyes. "'The Gray Seal!' I'll say it for you," said Jimmie
Dale whimsically. "This is what probably put the idea into his head,
after first, in some way, having discovered old Max Diestricht's hiding
place; and, if I had given him time enough, he would probably have stuck
one of these seals, in clumsy imitation of that little eccentricity of
mine, on the wall over there to stamp the job as genuine. You begin to
get it, don't you Lannigan? Pretty sure-fire as an alibi, eh? And he'd
have got away with it, too, as far as you were concerned. He had only
to fire that shot, smash the window, tuck his false beard, mustache, and
peaked cap into his pocket, put on his own hat that you see there on the
floor--and yell that the man had escaped. He'd help you chase the thief,
too! Rather neat, don't you think, Lannigan? And worth the risk, too,
considering the howl that would go up at the theft of those stones, and
that, known as the slickest diamond thief in the country, he would be
the first to be suspected--except that the police themselves, in the
person of Inspector Lannigan of headquarters, would be prepared to prove
a perfectly good alibi for him."

Lannigan's head was thrust forward; his eyes, hard, were riveted on
Whitey Mack.

"My God!" he said again under his breath. Then fiercely: "He'll get his
for this!"

It was a moment before Jimmie Dale spoke; he was musingly examining the
automatic in his hand.

"I am going now, Lannigan," he observed quietly. "I require, say,
fifteen minutes in which to effect my escape. It is, of course, obvious
that an alarm raised by you might prove extremely awkward, but a piece
of canvas from that bench there, together with a bit of string, would
make a most effective gag. I prefer, however, not to submit you to that
indignity. Instead, I offer you the alternative of giving me your word
to remain quietly where you are for--fifteen minutes."

Lannigan hesitated.

Jimmie Dale smiled.

"I agree," said Lannigan shortly.

Jimmie Dale stepped back. The electric-light switch clicked. The place
was in darkness. There was a moment, two, of utter stillness; then
softly, from the front end of the shop, a whisper:

"If I were you, Lannigan, I'd take that gun from Whitey's pocket before
he comes round and beats you to it."

And the door had closed silently behind Jimmie Dale.



In the subway, ten minutes before, a freckled-faced messenger boy had
squeezed himself into a seat beside Jimmie Dale, yanked a dime novel
from a refractory pocket, and, blissfully lost to all the world, had
buried his head in its pages. Jimmie Dale's glance at the youngster had
equally, perforce, embraced the lurid title of the thriller, "Dicing
with Death," so imperturbably thrust under his nose. At the time, he had
smiled indulgently; but now, as he left the subway and headed for his
home on Riverside Drive, the words not only refused to be ignored, but
had resolved themselves into a curiously persistent refrain in his
mind. They were exactly what they purported to be, dime-novelish, of
the deepest hue of yellow, melodramatic in the extreme; but also, to him
now, they were grimly apt and premonitorily appropriate. "Dicing with
Death"--there was not an hour, not a moment in the day, when he was not
literally dicing with death; when, with the underworld and the police
allied against him, a single false move would lose him the throw that
left death the winner!

The risk of the dual life enforced upon him grew daily greater, and in
the end there must be the reckoning. He would have been a madman to have
shut his eyes in the face of what was obvious--but it was worth it all,
and in his soul he knew that he would not have had it otherwise even
now. To-night, to-morrow, the day after, would come another letter
from the Tocsin, and there would be another "crime" of the Gray Seal's
blazoned in the press--would that be the last affair, or would there
be another--or to-night, to-morrow, the day after, would he be trapped
before even one more letter came!

He shrugged his shoulders, as he ran up the steps of his house. Those
were the stakes that he himself had laid on the table to wager upon the
game, he had no quarrel there; but if only, before the end came, or even
with the end itself, he could find--HER!

With his latchkey he let himself into the spacious, richly furnished,
well-lighted reception hall, and, crossing this, went up the broad
staircase, his steps noiseless on the heavy carpet. Below, faintly, he
could hear some of the servants--they evidently had not heard him close
the door behind him. Discipline was relaxed somewhat, it was quite
apparent, with Jason, that peer of butlers, away. Jason, poor chap, was
in the hospital. Typhoid, they had thought it at first, though it had
turned out to be some milder form of infection. He would be back in a
few days now; but meanwhile he missed the old man sorely from the house.

He reached the landing, and, turning, went along the hall to the door of
his own particular den, opened the door, closed it behind him--and in an
instant the keen, agile brain, trained to the little things that never
escaped it, that daily held his life in the balance, was alert. The room
was unusually dark, even for night-time. It was as though the window
shades had been closely drawn--a thing Jason never did. But then Jason
wasn't there! Jimmie Dale, smiling then a little quizzically at himself,
reached up for the electric-light switch beside the door, pressed
it--and, his finger still on the button, whipped his automatic from his
pocket with his other hand. THE ROOM WAS STILL IN DARKNESS.

The smile on Jimmie Dale's lips was gone, for his lips now had closed
together in a tight, drawn line. The lights in the rest of the house, as
witness the reception hall, were in order. This was no ACCIDENT! Silent,
motionless, he stood there, listening. Was he trapped at last--in his
own house! By whom? The police? The thugs of the underworld? It made
little difference--the end would differ only in the method by which it
was attained! What was that! Was there a slight stir, a movement at the
lower end of the room--or was it his imagination? His hand fell from the
electric-light switch to the doorknob behind his back. Slowly, without
a sound, it began to turn under his slim, tapering fingers, whose deft,
sensitive touch had made him known and feared as the master cracksman of
them all; and, as noiselessly, the door began to open.

It was like a duel--a duel of silence. What was the intruder, whoever he
might be, waiting for? The abortive click of the electric-light switch,
to say nothing of the opening of the door when he had entered, was
evidence enough that he was there. Was the other trying to place him
exactly through the darkness to make sure of his attack! The door was
open now. And suddenly Jimmie Dale laughed easily aloud--and on the
instant shifted his position.

"Well?" inquired Jimmie Dale coolly from the other side of the

It seemed like a long-drawn sigh fluttering through the room, a gasp of
relief--and then the blood was pounding madly at his temples, and he was
back in the room again, the door closed once more behind him.

"Oh, Jimmie--why didn't you speak? I had to be sure that it was you."

It was her voice! HERS! The Tocsin! HERE! She was here--here in his

"You!" he cried. "You--here!" He was pressing the electric-light switch
frantically, again and again.

Her voice came out of the darkness from across the room:

"Why are you doing that, Jimmie? You know already that I have turned off
the lights."

"At the sockets--of course!" He laughed out the words almost
hysterically. "Your face--I have never seen your face, you know." He was
moving quickly toward the reading lamp on his desk.

There was a quick, hurried swish of garments, and she was blocking his

"No," she said, in a low voice; "you must not light that lamp."

He laughed again, shortly, fiercely now. She was close to him, his hands
reached out for her, touched her, and thrilling at the touch, swept her
toward him.

"Jimmie--Jimmie--are you mad!" she breathed.

Mad! Yes--he was mad with the wildest, most passionate exhilaration he
had ever known. He found his voice with an effort.

"These months and years that I have tried until my soul was sick to find
you!" he cried out. "And you are here now! Your face--I must see your

She had wrenched herself away from him. He could hear her breath coming
sharply in little gasps. He groped his way onward toward the desk.

"WAIT!"--her tones seemed to ring suddenly vibrant through the room.
"Wait, before you touch that lamp! I--I put you on your honour not to
light it."

He stopped abruptly.

"My--honour?" he repeated mechanically.

"Yes! I came here to-night because there was no other way. No other
way--do you understand? I came, trusting to your honour not to take
advantage of the conditions that forced me to do this. I had no fear
that I was wrong--I have no fear now. You will not light that lamp,
and you will not make any attempt to prevent my going away as I
came--unknown. Is there any question about it, Jimmie? I am in YOUR

"You don't know what you are saying!" he burst out wildly. "I've risked
my life for a chance like this again and again; I've gone through hell,
living in squalour for a month on end as Larry the Bat in the hope that
I might discover who you are--and do you think I'll let anything stop me
now! I tell you, no--a thousand times no!"

She made no answer. There was only her low, quick breathing coming from
somewhere near him. He made another step toward the lamp--and stopped.

"I tell you, no!" he said again, and took another step forward--and
stopped once more.

Still she made no answer. A minute passed--another. His hand lifted and
swept across his forehead in an agitated way. Still silence. She neither
moved nor spoke. His hand dropped slowly to his side. There was a queer,
twisted smile upon his lips.

"You win!" he said hoarsely.

"Thank you, Jimmie," she said simply.

"And your name, who you are"--he was speaking, but he did not seem to
recognise his own voice--"the hundred other things I've sworn I'd make
you explain when I found you, are all taboo as well, I suppose!"

"Yes," she said.

He laughed bitterly.

"Don't you know," he cried out, "that between the police and the
underworld, our house of cards is likely to collapse at any minute--that
they are hunting the Gray Seal day and night! Is it to be always like
this--that I am never to know--until it is too late!"

She came toward him out of the darkness impulsively.

"They will never get you, Jimmie," she said, in a suppressed voice. "And
some day, I promise you now, you shall have your reward for to-night.
You shall know--everything."

"When?" The word came from him with fierce eagerness.

"I do not know," she answered gently. "Soon, perhaps--perhaps sooner
than either of us imagine."

"And by that you mean--what?" he asked, and his hand reached out for her
again through the blackness.

This time she did not draw away. There was an instant's hesitation; then
she spoke again hurriedly, a note of anxiety in her voice.

"You are beginning all over again, aren't you, Jimmie? And I have told
you that to-night I can explain nothing. And, besides, it is what has
brought me here that counts now, and every moment is of--"

"Yes. I know," he interposed; "but, then, at least you will tell me one
thing: Why did you come to-night, instead of sending me a letter as you
always have before?"

"Because it is different to-night than it ever was before," she replied
earnestly. "Because there is something in what has happened that I
cannot explain myself; because there is danger, and where I could not
see clearly I feared a trap, and so I dared not send what, in a letter,
could at best be only vague and incomplete details. Do you see?"

"Yes," said Jimmie Dale--but he was only listening in an abstracted way.
If he could only see that face, so close to his! He had yearned for that
with all his soul for years now! And she was here, standing beside him,
and his hand was upon her arm; and here, in his own den, in his own
house, he was listening to another call to arms for the Gray Seal from
her own lips! Honour! Was he but a poor, quixotic fool! He had only
to step to the desk and switch on the light! Why should--he steadied
himself with a jerk, and drew away his hand. She was in HIS house. "Go
on," he said tersely.

"Do you know, or did you ever hear of old Luther Doyle?" she asked.

"No," said Jimmie Dale.

"Do you know a man, then, named Connie Myers?"

Connie Myers! Who in the Bad Lands did not know Connie Myers, who
boasted of the half dozen prison sentences already to his credit? Yes;
he knew Connie Myers! But, strangely enough, it was not in the Bad Lands
or as Larry the Bat that he knew the man, or that the other knew him--it
was as Jimmie Dale. Connie Myers had introduced himself one night
several years ago with a blackjack that had just missed its mark as the
man had jumped out from a dark alleyway on the East Side, and he, Jimmie
Dale, had thrashed the other to within an inch of his life. He had
reason to know Connie Myers--and Connie Myers had reason to remember

"Yes," he said, with a grim smile; "I know Connie Myers."

"And the tenement across the street from where you live as Larry the
Bat--that, of course, you know." He leaned toward her wonderingly now.

"Of course!" he ejaculated. "Naturally!"

"Listen, then, Jimmie!" She was speaking quickly now. "It is a strange
story. This Luther Doyle was already over fifty, when, some eight or
nine years ago, his parents died within a few months of each other,
and he inherited somewhere in the neighbourhood of a hundred thousand
dollars; but the man, though harmless enough, was mildly insane,
half-witted, queer, and the old couple, on account of their son's mental
defects, took care to leave the money securely invested, and so that he
could only touch the interest. During these eight or nine years he has
lived by himself in the same old family house where he had lived with
his parents, in a lonely spot near Pelham. And he has lived in a most
frugal, even miserly, manner. His income could not have been less than
six thousand dollars a year, and his expenditures could not have been
more than six hundred. His dementia, ironically enough from the day that
he came into his fortune, took the form of a most pitiable and abject
fear that he would die in poverty, misery, and want; and so, year after
year, cashing his checks as fast as he got them, never trusting the bank
with a penny, he kept hiding away somewhere in his house every cent he
could scrape and save from his income--which to-day must amount, at a
minimum calculation, to fifty thousand dollars."

"And," observed Jimmie Dale quietly. "Connie Myers robbed him of it,

"No!" Her voice was quivering with passion, as she caught up his words.
"Twice in the last month Connie Myers TRIED to rob him, but the money
was too securely hidden. Twice he broke into Doyle's house when the old
man was out, but on both occasions was unsuccessful in his search, and
was interrupted and forced to make his escape on account of Doyle's
return. To-night, an hour ago, in an empty room on the second floor
of that tenement, in the room facing the landing, old Luther Doyle was

There was silence for an instant. Her hand had closed in a tight
pressure on his arm. The darkness seemed to add a sort of ghastly
significance to her words.

"In God's name, how do you know all this?" he demanded wildly. "How do
you know all these things?

"Does that matter now?" she answered tensely. "You will know that when
you know the rest. Oh, don't you understand, Jimmie, there is not a
moment to lose now? It was easy to lure a half-witted creature like that
anywhere; it was Connie Myers who lured him to the tenement and murdered
him there--but from that point, Jimmie, I am not sure of our ground. I
do not know whether Connie Myers is alone in this or not; but I do know
that he is going to Doyle's house again to-night to make another search
for the money. There is no question but that old Doyle was murdered to
give Connie Myers and his accomplices, if there are any, a chance to
tear the house inside out to find the money, to give them the whole
night to work in without interruption if necessary--but Doyle dead in
his own house could have interfered no more with them than Doyle dead in
that tenement! Why was he lured to the tenement by Connie Myers when he
could much more easily have been put out of the way in his own house?
Jimmie, there is something behind this, something more that you must
find out. There may be others in this besides Connie Myers, I do not
know; but there is something here that I am afraid of. Jimmie, you must
get that man, you must get the others if there are others, and you
must stop them from getting the money in that house to-night! Do you
understand now why I have come here? I could not explain in a letter;
I do not quite seem to be explaining now. It would seem as though
there were no need for the Gray Seal--that simply the police should be
notified. But I KNOW, Jimmie, call it intuition, what you will, I know
that there is need for us, for you to-night--that behind all this is a
tragedy, deeper, blacker, than even the brutal, cold-blooded murder that
is already done."

Her voice, in its passionate earnestness, died away; and an anger,
cold, grim, remorseless, settled upon Jimmie Dale--settled as it always
settled upon him at her call to arms. His brain was already at work in
its quick, instant way, probing, sifting, planning. She was right! It
was strange, it was more than strange that, with the added risk, the
danger, the difficulty, the man should have been brought miles to be
done away with in that tenement! Why? Connie Myers took form before
him--the coarse features, the tawny hair that straggled across the low
forehead, the shifty eyes that were an indeterminate colour between
brown and gray, the thin lips that seemed to draw in and give the jaw
a protruding, belligerent effect. And Connie Myers knew him as Jimmie
Dale--it would have to be then as Larry the Bat that the Gray Seal must
work. That meant time--to go to the Sanctuary and change.

"The police," he asked suddenly, aloud, "they have not yet discovered
the body?"

"Not yet," she replied hurriedly. "And that is still another reason
for haste--there is no telling when they will. See--here!" She thrust
a paper into his hand. "Here is a plan of old Doyle's house, and
directions for finding it. You must get Connie Myers red-handed, you
must make him convict himself, for the evidence through which I know him
to be guilty can never be used against him. And, Jimmie, be careful--I
know I am not wrong, that there is still something more behind all this.
And now go, Jimmie, go! There is no time to lose!" She was pushing him
across the room toward the door.

Go! The word seemed suddenly to bring dismay. It was she again who was
dominant now in his mind. Who knew if to-night, when he was taking his
life in his hands again, would not be the last! And she was here now,
here beside him--where she might never be again!

She seemed to divine his thoughts, for she spoke again, a strange new
note of tenderness in her voice that thrilled him.

"You must never let them get you, Jimmie--for my sake. It will not last
much longer--it is near the end--and I shall keep my promise. But go,
now, Jimmie--go!"

"Go?" he repeated numbly. "Go? But--but you?"

"I?" She slipped suddenly away from him, retreating back down the room.
"I will go--as I came."

"Wait! Listen!" he pleaded.

There was no answer.

She was there--somewhere back there in the darkness still. He stood
hesitant at the door. It seemed that every faculty he possessed urged
him back there again--to her. Could he let her escape him now when she
was so utterly in his power, she who meant everything in his life! And
then, like a cold shock, came that other thought--she who had trusted to
his honour! With a jerk, his hand swept out, felt for the doorknob, and
closed upon it.

"Good-night!" he said heavily, and stepped out into the hall.

It seemed for a while, even after he had gained the street and made his
way again to the subway, that nothing was concrete around him, that
he was living through some fantastical dream. His head whirled, and he
could not think rationally--and then slowly, little by little, his grip
upon himself came back. She had come--and gone! With the roar of the
subway in his ears, its raucous note seeming to strike so perfectly in
consonance with the turmoil within him, he smiled mirthlessly. After
all, it was as it always was! She was gone--and ahead of him lay the
chances of the night!

"Dicing with death!" The words, unbidden, came back once more. If they
were true before, they were doubly applicable now. It was different
to-night from what it had ever been before, as she had said. Usually, to
the smallest detail, everything was laid open, clear before him in
those astounding letters. To-night, it was vague at best. A man had been
murdered. Connie Myers had committed the murder under circumstances that
pointed strongly to some hidden motive behind and beyond the mere chance
it afforded him to search his victim's house for the hidden cash. What
was it?

Jimmie Dale stared out at the black subway walls. The answer would not
come. Station after station passed. At Fourteenth Street he changed from
the express to a local, got out at Astor Place, and a few minutes later
was walking rapidly down the upper end of the Bowery.

The answer would not come--only the fact itself grew more and more
deeply significant. The ghastly, callous fiendishness that lured an
old, half-witted man to his death had Jimmie Dale in that grip of cold,
merciless anger again, and there was a dull flush now upon his cheeks.
Whatever it meant, whatever was behind it, one thing at least was

He was close to the Sanctuary now--it was down the next cross street. He
reached the corner and turned it, heading east; but his brisk walk had
changed to a nonchalant saunter--there were some people coming toward
him. It was the Gray Seal now, alert and cautious. The little group
passed by. Ahead, the tenement bordering on the black alleyway loomed
up--the Sanctuary, with its three entrances and exits; the home of Larry
the Bat. And across from it was that other tenement, that held a new
interest for him now, where, in an empty room on the second floor,
she had said, old Doyle still lay. Should he go there? He was thinking
quickly now, and shook his head. It would take what he did not have to
spare--time. It was already ten o'clock; and, granted that Connie Myers
had committed the crime only a little over an hour ago, the man by this
time would certainly be on his way to Doyle's house near Pelham, if,
indeed, he were not already there. No, there was no time to spare--the
question resolved itself simply into how long, since he had already
searched twice and failed on both occasions, it would take Connie Myers
to unearth old Doyle's hiding place for the money.

Jimmie Dale glanced sharply around him, slipped into the alleyway, and,
crouching against the tenement wall, moved noiselessly along to the side
entrance. A moment more, and he had negotiated the rickety stairs with
practiced, soundless tread, was inside the squalid quarters of Larry the
Bat, and the door of the Sanctuary was locked and bolted behind him.

Perhaps five minutes passed--and then, where Jimmie Dale, the
millionaire, had entered, there emerged Larry the Bat, of the
aristocracy and the elite of the Bad Lands. But instead of leaving by
the side door and the alleyway, as he had entered, he went along the
lower hallway to the front entrance. And here, instinctively, he paused
a moment at the top of the steps, as his eyes rested upon the tenement
on the opposite side of the street.

It was strange that the crime should have been committed there!
Something again seemed to draw him toward that empty room on the second
story. He had decided once that he would not go, that there was not
time; but, after all, it would not take long, and there was at least the
possibility of gaining something more valuable even than time from the
scene of the crime itself--there might even be the evidence he wanted
there that would disclose the whole of Connie Myers' game.

He went down the steps, and started across the street; but halfway over,
he hesitated uncertainly, as a child's cry came petulantly from the
doorway. It was dark in the street; and, likewise, it was one of those
hot, suffocating evenings when, in the crowded tenements of the poorer
class, miserable enough in any case, misery was added to a hundredfold
for lack of a single God-given breath of air. These two facts,
apparently irrelevant, caused Jimmie Dale to change his mind again.
He had not noticed the woman with the baby in her arms, sitting on
the doorstep; but now, as he reached the curb, he not only saw, but
recognised her--and he swung on down the street toward the Bowery. He
could not very well go in without passing her, without being recognised
himself--and that was a needless risk.

He smiled a little wanly. Once the crime was discovered, she would not
have hesitated long before informing the police that she had seen him
enter there! Mrs. Hagan was no friend of his! One could not live as he
had lived, as Larry the Bat, and not see something in an intimate way
of the pitiful little tragedies of the poor around him; for, bad, tough,
and dissolute as the quarter was, all were not degraded there, some were
simply--poor. Mrs. Hagan was poor. Her husband was a day labourer, often
out of a job--and sometimes he drank. That was how he, Jimmie Dale,
or rather, Larry the Bat, had come to earn Mrs. Hagan's enmity. He had
found Mike Hagan drunk one night, and in the act of being arrested, and
had wheedled the man away from the officer on the promise that he would
take Hagan home. And he was Larry the Bat, a dope fiend, a character
known to all the neighbourhood, and Mrs. Hagan had laid her husband's
condition to HIS influence and companionship! He had taken Mike Hagan
home--and Mrs. Hagan had driven Larry the Bat from the door of her
miserable one-room lodging in that tenement with the bitter words on
her tongue that only a woman can use when shame and grief and anger are
breaking her heart.

He shrugged his shoulders, as, back along the Bowery, he retraced his
steps, but now, with the hurried shuffle of Larry the Bat where before
had been the brisk, athletic stride of Jimmie Dale.

At Astor Place again, he took the subway, this time to the Grand
Central Station--and, well within an hour from the time he had left the
Sanctuary, including the train journey to Pelham, he was standing in a
clump of trees that fringed a deserted roadway. He had passed but few
houses, once he was away from Pelham, and, as well as he could judge,
there was none now within a quarter of a mile of him--except this one
of old Luther Doyle's that showed up black and shadowy just beyond the

Jimmie Dale's eyes narrowed as he surveyed the place. It was little
wonder that, known to have money, an attempt to rob old Doyle should
have been made in a place like this! It was even more grimly significant
than ever of some deeper meaning that, in its loneliness an ideal place
for a murder, the man should have been lured from there for that purpose
to a crowded tenement in the city instead! What did it mean? Why had
it been done? He shook his head. The answer would not come now any more
than it had come before in the subway, or in the train on the way out,
when he had set his brain so futilely to solve the problem.

From a survey of the house, Jimmie Dale gave attention to the details of
his surroundings: the trees on either side; the open space in front, a
distance of fifty yards to the road; the absence of any fence. And then,
abruptly, he stole forward. There was no light to be seen anywhere about
the house. Was it possible that Connie Myers was not yet there? He
shook his head again impatiently. Connie Myers would not have wasted any
time--as the Tocsin had said, there was always present the possibility
that the crime in that tenement might be discovered at ANY moment.
Connie Myers would have lost no time; for, let the discovery be made,
let the police identify the body, as they most certainly would, and they
would be out here hotfoot. Jimmie Dale stood suddenly still. What did it
mean! He had not thought of that before! If old Doyle had been murdered
HERE, there would not have been even the possibility of discovery until
the morning at the earliest, and Connie Myers would have had all the
time he wanted!

WHAT WAS THAT SOUND! A low, muffled tapping, like a succession of hammer
blows, came from within the house. Jimmie Dale darted forward, reached
the side of the house, and dropped on hands and knees. One question at
least was answered--Connie Myers was inside.

The plan that she had given him showed an old-fashioned cellarway,
closed by folding trapdoors, that was located a little toward the rear
and, in a moment, creeping along, he came upon it. His hands felt over
it. It was shut, fastened by a padlock on the outside. Jimmie Dale's
lips thinned a little, as he took a small steel instrument from his
pocket. Either through inadvertence or by intention, Connie Myers had
passed up an almost childishly simple means of entrance into the house!
One side of the trapdoor was lifted up silently--and silently closed.
Jimmie Dale was in the cellar. The hammering, much more distinct now,
heavy, thudding blows, came from a room in the front--the connection
between the cellar and the house, as shown on the Tocsin's plan, was
through another trapdoor in the floor of the kitchen.

Jimmie Dale's flashlight played on a short, ladderlike stairway, and
in an instant he was climbing upward. The sounds from the front of the
house continued now without interruption; there was little fear that
Connie Myers would hear anything else--even the protesting squeak of
the hinges as Jimmie Dale cautiously pushed back the trapdoor in the
flooring above his head. An inch, two inches he lifted it; and, his eyes
on a level with the opening now, he peered into the room. The kitchen
itself was intensely dark; but through an open doorway, well to one
side so that he could not see into the room beyond, there struggled
a curiously faint, dim glimmer of light. And then Jimmie Dale's form
straightened rigidly on the stairs. The blows stopped, and a voice, in a
low growl, presumably Connie Myers', reached him.

"Here, take a drive at it from the lower edge!"

There was no answer--save that the blows were resumed again. Jimmie
Dale's face had set hard. Connie Myers was not alone in this, then!
Well, the odds were a little heavier, DOUBLED--that was all! He pushed
the trapdoor wide open, swung himself up through the opening to the
floor; and the next instant, back a little from the connecting doorway,
his body pressed closely against the kitchen wall, he was staring,
bewildered and amazed, into the next room.

On the floor, presumably to lessen the chance of any light rays stealing
through the tightly drawn window shades, burned a small oil lamp. The
place was in utter confusion. The right-hand side of a large fireplace,
made of rough, untrimmed stone and cement, and which occupied almost
the entire end of the room, was already practically demolished, and
the wreckage was littered everywhere; part of the furniture was piled
unceremoniously into one corner out of the way; and at the fireplace
itself, working with sledge and bar, were two men. One was Connie Myers.
An ironical glint crept into Jimmie Dale's eyes. The false beard and
mustache the man wore would deceive no one who knew Connie Myers! And
that he should be wearing them now, as he knelt holding the bar while
the other struck at it, seemed both uncalled for and absurd. The other
man, heavily built, roughly dressed, had his back turned, and Jimmie
Dale could not see his face.

The puzzled frown on Jimmie Dale's forehead deepened. Somewhere in the
masonry of the fireplace, of course, was where old Luther Doyle had
hidden his money. That was quite plain enough; and that Connie Myers, in
some way or other, had made sure of that fact was equally obvious. But
how did old Luther Doyle get his money IN there from time to time, as he
received the interest and dividends whose accumulation, according to the
Tocsin, comprised his hoard! And how did he get it OUT again?

"All right, that'll do!" grunted Connie Myers suddenly. "We can pry this
one out now. Lend a hand on the bar!"

The other dropped his sledge, turned sideways as he stooped to help
Connie Myers, his face came into view--and, with an involuntary start,
Jimmie Dale crouched farther back against the wall, as he stared at the
other. It was Hagan! Mrs. Hagan's husband! Mike Hagan!

"My God!" whispered Jimmie Dale, under his breath.

So that was it! That the murder had been committed in the tenement was
not so strange now! A surge of anger swept Jimmie Dale--and was engulfed
in a wave of pity. Somehow, the thin, tired face of Mrs. Hagan had risen
before him, and she seemed to be pleading with him to go away, to leave
the house, to forget that he had ever been there, to forget what he
had seen, what he was seeing now. His hands clenched fiercely. How
realistically, how importunately, how pitifully she took form before
him! She was on her knees, clasping his knees, imploring him, terrified.

From Jimmie Dale's pocket came the black silk mask. Slowly, almost
hesitantly, he fitted it over his face--Mike Hagan knew Larry the Bat.
Why should he have pity for Mike Hagan? Had he any for Connie Myers?
What right had he to let pity sway him! The man had gone the limit;
he was Connie Myers' accomplice--a murderer! But the man was not a
hardened, confirmed criminal like Connie Myers. Mike Hagan--a murderer!
It would have been unbelievable but for the evidence before his own
eyes now. The man had faults, brawled enough, and drank enough to have
brought him several times to the notice of the police--but this!

Jimmie Dale's eyes had never left the scene before him. Both men were
throwing their weight upon the bar, and the stone that they were trying
to dislodge--they were into the heart of the masonry now--seemed to
move a little. Connie Myers stood up, and, leaning forward, examined the
stone critically at top and bottom, prodding it with the bar. He turned
from his examination abruptly, and thrust the bar into Hagan's hands.

"Hold it!" he said tersely. "I'll strike for a turn."

Crouched, on his hands and knees, Hagan inserted the point of the bar
into the crevice. Connie Myers picked up the sledge.

"Lower! Bend lower!" he snapped--and swung the sledge.

It seemed to go black for a moment before Jimmie Dale's eyes, seemed to
paralyse all action of mind and body. There was a low cry that was more
a moan, the clang of the iron bar clattering on the floor, and Mike
Hagan had pitched forward on his face, an inert and huddled heap. A half
laugh, half snarl purled from Connie Myers' lips, as he snatched a stout
piece of cord from his pocket and swiftly knotted the unconscious man's
wrists together. Another instant, and, picking up the bar, prying with
it again, the loosened stone toppled with a crash into the grate.

It had come sudden as the crack of doom, that blow--too quick, too
unexpected for Jimmie Dale to have lifted a finger to prevent it. And
now that the first numbed shock of mingled horror and amazement was
past, he fought back the quick, fierce impulse to spring out on Connie
Myers. Whether the man was killed or only stunned, he could do no good
to Mike Hagan now, and there was Connie Myers--he was staring in a
fascinated way at Connie Myers. Behind the stone that the other had just
dislodged was a large hollow space that had been left in the masonry,
and from this now Connie Myers was eagerly collecting handfuls of
banknotes that were rolled up into the shape of little cylinders, each
one grotesquely tied with a string. The man was feverishly excited,
muttering to himself, running from the fireplace to where the table had
been pushed aside with the rest of the furniture, dropping the curious
little rolls of money on the table, and running back for more. And then,
having apparently emptied the receptacle, he wriggled his body over
the dismantled fireplace, stuck his head into the opening, and peered

"Kinks in his nut, kinks in his nut!" Connie Myers was muttering. "I'll
drop the bar through from the top, mabbe there's some got stuck in the

He regained his feet, picked up the bar, and ran with it into what was
evidently the front hall--then his steps sounded running upstairs.

Like a flash, Jimmie Dale was across the room and at the fireplace. Like
Connie Myers, he, too, put his head into the opening; and then, a queer,
unpleasant smile on his lips, he bent quickly over the man on the floor.
Hagan was no more than stunned, and was even then beginning to show
signs of returning consciousness. There was a rattle, a clang, a
thud--and the bar, too long to come all the way through, dropped into
the opening and stood upright. Connie Myers' footsteps sounded again,
returning on the run--and Jimmie Dale was back once more on the other
side of the kitchen doorway.

It was all simple enough--once one understood! The same queer smile
was still flickering on Jimmie Dale's lips. There was no way to get the
money out, except the way Connie Myers had got it out--by digging it
out! With the irrational cunning of his mad brain, that had put the
money even beyond his own reach, old Doyle had built his fireplace with
a hollow some eighteen inches square in a great wall of solid stonework,
and from it had run a two-inch pipe up somewhere to the story above;
and down this pipe he had dropped his little string-tied cylinders of
banknotes, satisfied that his hoard was safe! There seemed something
pitifully ironic in the elaborate, insane craftiness of the old man's
fear-twisted, demented mind.

And now Connie Myers was back in the room again--and again a puzzled
expression settled upon Jimmie Dale's face as he watched the other. For
perhaps a minute the man stood by the table sifting the little rolls of
money through his fingers gloatingly--then, impulsively, he pushed these
to one side, produced a revolver, laid it on the table, and from another
pocket took out a little case which, as he opened it, Jimmie Dale could
see contained a hypodermic syringe. One more article followed the other
two--a letter, which Connie Myers took out of an unsealed envelope. He
dropped this suddenly on the table, as Mike Hagan, three feet away on
the floor, groaned and sat up.

Hagan's eyes swept, bewildered, confused, around him, questioningly
at Connie Myers--and then, resting suddenly on his bound wrists, they
narrowed menacingly.

"Damn you, you smashed me with that sledge on PURPOSE!" he burst
out--and began to struggle to his feet.

With a brutal chuckle, Connie Myers pushed Hagan back and shoved his
revolver under the other's nose.

"Sure!" he admitted evenly. "And you keep quiet, or I'll finish you
now--instead of letting the police do it!" He laughed out jarringly.
"You're under arrest, you know, for the murder of Luther Doyle, and for
robbing the poor old nut of his savings in his house here."

Hagan wrenched himself up on his elbow.

"What--what do you mean?" he stammered.

"Oh, don't worry!" said Connie Myers maliciously. "I'M not making the
arrest, I'd rather the police did that. I'm not mixing up in it, and
by and by"--he lifted up the hypodermic for Hagan to see--"I'm going
to shoot a little dope into you that'll keep you quiet while I get away

Hagan's face had gone a grayish white--he had caught sight of the money
on the table, and his eyes kept shifting back and forth from it to
Myers' face.

"Murder!" he said huskily. "There is no murder. I don't know who Doyle
is. You said this house was yours--you hired me to come here. You said
you were going to tear down the fireplace and build another. You said I
could work evenings and earn some extra money."

"Sure, I did!" There was a vicious leer now on Connie Myers' lips. "But
you don't think I picked you out by ACCIDENT, do you? Your reputation,
my bucko, was just shady enough to satisfy anybody that it wouldn't be
beyond you to go the limit. Sure, you murdered Doyle! Listen to this."
He took up the letter:

"TO THE POLICE: Luther Doyle was murdered this evening in the tenement
at 67 ---- Street. You'll find his body in a room on the second floor.
If you want to know who did it, look in Mike Hagan's room on the floor
above. There's a paper stuck under the edge of Hagan's table with a
piece of chewing gum, where he hid it. You'll know what it is when
you go out and take a look at Doyle's house in Pelham. Yours truly, A

Mike Hagan did not speak--his lips were twitching, and there was horror
creeping into his eyes.

"D'ye get me!" sneered Connie Myers. "Tell your story--who'd believe it!
I got you cinched. Twice I tried to get this old dub's coin out here,
and couldn't find it. But the second time I found something else--a
piece of paper with a drawing of the fireplace on it, and a place in the
drawing marked with an X. That was good enough, wasn't it? That's
the paper I stuck under your table this afternoon when your wife was
out--see? Somebody's got to stand for the job, and if it's somebody else
it won't be me--get me! When I had a look at that fireplace I knew I
couldn't do the job alone in a week, and I didn't dare blast it with
'soup' for fear of spoiling what was inside. And since I had to have
somebody to help me, I thought I might as well let him help me all the
way through--and stand for it. I picked you, Mike--that's why I croaked
old Doyle in your tenement to-night. I wrote this letter while I was
waiting for you to show up at the station to come out here with me, and
I'm going to see that the police get it in the next hour. When they
find Doyle in the room below yours, and that paper in your room, and the
busted fireplace here--I guess they won't look any farther for who did
it. And say"--he leaned forward with an ugly grin--"mabbe you think I'm
soft to be telling you all this? But don't you fool yourself. You don't
know me--you don't know who I am. So tell 'em the TRUTH! They won't
believe you anyway with evidence like that against you--and the neater
the story the more they'll think it shows brains enough on your part to
have pulled a job like this!"

"My God!" Hagan was rocking on his knees, beads of sweat were starting
out on his forehead. "You wouldn't plant a man like that!" he cried
brokenly. "You wouldn't do it, would you? My God--you wouldn't do that!"

Jimmie Dale's face under his mask was white and rigid. There was
something primal, elemental in the savagery that was sweeping upon him.
He had it all now--ALL! She had been right--there was need to-night for
the Gray Seal. So that was the game, inhuman, hellish, the whole of
it, to the last filthy dregs--Connie Myers, to protect himself, was
railroading an innocent man to death for the crime that he himself had
committed! There was a cold smile on Jimmie Dale's lips now, as he took
his automatic from his pocket. No, it wasn't quite all the game--there
was still HIS hand to play! He edged forward a little nearer to the
door--and halted abruptly, listening. An automobile had stopped outside
on the road. Hagan was still pleading in a frenzied way; Connie
Myers was callously folding his letter, while he watched the other
warily--neither of the men had heard the sound.

And then, quick, almost on the instant, came a rush of feet, a crash
upon the front door--an imperative command to open in the name of the
law. THE POLICE! Jimmie Dale's brain was working now with lightning
speed. Somehow the police had stumbled upon the crime in that tenement;
and, as he had foreseen in such an event, had identified Doyle. But they
could not be sure that any one was present here in the house now--they
could not see a light any more than he had. He must get Mike Hagan
away--must see that Connie Myers did NOT get away. Myers was on his
feet now, fear struck in his turn, the letter clutched in a tight-closed
fist, his revolver swung out, poised, in the other hand. Hagan, too, was
on his feet, and, unheeded now by Connie Myers, was wrenching his wrists

Another crash upon the door--another. Another demand in a harsh voice to
open it. Then some one running around to the window at the side of the
house--and Jimmie Dale sprang forward.

There was the roar of a report, a blinding flash almost in Jimmie Dale's
eyes, as Connie Myers, whirling instantly at his entrance, fired--and
missed. It happened quick then, in the space of the ticking of a
watch--before Jimmie Dale, flinging himself forward, had reached the
man. Like a defiant challenge to their demand it must have seemed to the
officers outside, that shot of Connie Myers at Jimmie Dale, for it was
answered on the instant by another through the side window. And the
shot, fired at random, the interior of the room hidden from the officers
outside by the drawn shades, found its mark--and Connie Myers, a bullet
in his brain, pitched forward, dead, upon the floor.

"QUICK!" Jimmie Dale flung at Hagan. "Get that letter out of his hand!"
He jumped for the lamp on the floor, extinguished it, and turned again
toward Hagan. "Have you got it?" he whispered tensely.

"Yes," said Hagan, in a numbed way.

"This way, then!" Jimmie Dale caught Hagan's arm, and pulled the other
across the room and into the kitchen to the trapdoor. "Quick!" he
breathed again. "Get down there--quick! And no noise! They don't know
how many are in the house. When they find HIM they'll probably be

Hagan, stupefied, dazed, obeyed mechanically--and, in an instant, the
trapdoor closed behind them, Jimmie Dale was standing beside the other
in the cellar.

"Not a sound now!" he cautioned once more.

His flashlight winked, went out, winked again; then held steadily, in
curious fascination it seemed, as, in its circuit, the ray fell upon
a suppressed cry, Jimmie Dale snatched it away from the other. It
was but a torn HALF of the letter! "The other half! The other half,
Hagan--where is it?" he demanded hoarsely.

Hagan, almost in a state of collapse, muttered inaudibly. The crash of a
toppling door sounded from above. Jimmie Dale shook the man desperately.

"Where is it?" he repeated fiercely.

"He--he was holding it tight, it--it tore in his hand," Hagan stammered.
"Does it make any difference? Oh, let's get out of here, whoever you
are--for God's sake let's get out of here!"

Any difference! Jimmie Dale's jaws were clamped like a steel vise. Any
difference! The difference between life and death for the man beside
him--that was all! He was reading the portion in his hand. It was the
last part of the letter, beginning with: "There's a paper stuck under
the edge of Hagan's table--" From above, from the floor of the front
room now, came the rush and trample of feet. He could not go back for
the other half. And any attempt to conceal the fact that Connie Myers
had been alone in the house was futile now. They would find the torn
letter in the dead man's hand, proof enough that some one else had been
there. What was in that part of the letter that was still clutched in
that death grip upstairs? A sentence from it, that he had heard Connie
Myers read, seemed to burn itself into his brain. "IF YOU WANT TO KNOW
suddenly, like light through the darkness, came a ray of hope. He pulled
Hagan to the cellarway, and stealthily lifted one side of the double
trapdoor. There was a chance, desperate enough, one in a thousand--but
still a chance!

Voices from the house came plainly now, but there was no one in sight.
The police, to a man, were evidently all inside. From the road in front
showed the lamp glare of their automobile.

"Run for the car!" Jimmie Dale jerked out from between set teeth--and
with Hagan beside him, steadying the man by the arm, dashed across the
intervening fifty yards.

They had not been seen. A minute more, and the car, evidently belonging
to the local police, for it was headed in the direction of New York, and
as though it had come from Pelham, swept down the road, swept around a
turn, and Jimmie Dale, with a gasp of relief, straightened up a little
from the wheel.

How much time had he? The police must have heard the car; but, equally,
occupied as they were, they might well give it no thought other than
that it was but another car passing by. There was no telephone in the
house; the nearest house was a quarter of a mile away, and that might or
might not have a telephone. Could he count on half an hour? He glanced
anxiously at the crouched figure beside him. He would have to! It was
the only chance. They would telephone the contents of the dead man's
half of the letter to the New York police. Could he get to Hagan's room
FIRST! "Look in Hagan's room," their part of the letter read--but it
did not say for WHAT, or exactly WHERE! If they found nothing, Hagan was
safe. Connie Myers' reputation, the fact that he was found in disguise
at Doyle's house, was, barring any incriminating evidence, quite enough
to let Hagan out. There would only remain in the minds of the police the
question of who, beside Connie Myers, had been in old Doyle's house that
night? And now Jimmie Dale smiled a little whimsically. Well, perhaps he
could answer that--and, if not quite to the satisfaction of the police,
at least to the complete vindication of Mike Hagan.

But he could not drive through towns and villages with a mask on his
face; and there, ahead now, lights were beginning to show. And more than
ever now, with what was before him, it was imperative that Mike Hagan
should not recognise Larry the Bat. Jimmie Dale glanced again at
Hagan--and slowed down the car. They were on the outskirts of a town,
and off to the right he caught the twinkling lights of a street car.

"Hagan," he said sharply, "pull yourself together, and listen to me! If
you keep your mouth shut, you've nothing to fear; if you let out a word
of what's happened to-night, you'll probably go to the chair for a crime
you know nothing about. Do you understand?--keep your mouth shut!"

The car had stopped. Hagan nodded his head.

"All right, then. You get out here, and take a street car into New
York," continued Jimmie Dale crisply. "But when you get there, keep away
from your home for the next two or three hours. Hang around with some of
the boys you know, and if you're asked anything afterward, say you were
batting around town all evening. Don't worry--you'll find you're out of
this when you read the morning papers. Now get out--hurry!" He pushed
Hagan from the car. "I've got to make my own get-away."

Hagan, standing in the road, brushed his hand bewilderingly across his

"Yes--but you--I--"

"Never mind about that!" Jimmie Dale leaned out, and gripped Hagan's
arm impressively. "There's only one thing you've got to think of, or
remember. Keep your mouth shut! No matter what happens, keep your mouth
shut--if you want to save your neck! Good-night, Hagan!"

The car was racing forward again. It shot streaking through the streets
of the town ahead, and, dully, over its own inferno, echoed shouts,
cries, and execrations of an outraged populace--then out into the night
again, roaring its way toward New York.

He had half an hour--perhaps! It was a good thing Hagan did not know, or
had not grasped the significance of that torn letter--the man would have
been unmanageable with fear and excitement. It would puzzle Hagan to
find no paper stuck under his table when he came to look for it! But
that was a minor consideration, that mattered not at all.

Half an hour! On roared the car--towns, black roads, villages, wooded
lands were kaleidoscopic in their passing. Half an hour! Had he done it?
Had he come anywhere near doing it? He did not know. He was in the city
at last--and now he had to moderate his speed; but, by keeping to the
less frequented streets, he could still drive at a fast pace. One piece
of good fortune had been his--the long motor coat he had found in the
car with which to cover the rags of Larry the Bat, and without which he
would have been obliged to leave the car somewhere on the outskirts of
the city, and to trust, like Mike Hagan, to other and slower means of

Blocks away from Hagan's tenement, he ran the car into a lane, slipped
off the motor coat, and from his pocket whipped out the little metal
insignia case--and in another moment a diamond-shaped gray seal was
neatly affixed to the black ebony rim of the steering wheel. He smiled
ironically. It was necessary, quite necessary that the police should
have no doubt as to who had been in Doyle's house with Connie Myers that
night, or to whom they had so considerately loaned their automobile!

He was running now--through lanes, dodging down side streets, taking
every short cut he knew. Had he beaten the police to Mike Hagan's room?
It would be easy then. If they were ahead of him, then, by some means or
other, he must still get that paper first.

He was at the tenement now--shuffling leisurely up the steps. The front
door was open. He entered, and went up the first flight of stairs, then
along the hall, and up the next flight. He had half expected the place
to be bustling with excitement over the crime; but the police evidently
had kept the affair quiet, for he had seen no one since he had
entered. But now, as he began to mount the third flight, he went more
slowly--some one was ahead of him. It was very dark--he could not see.
The steps above died away. He reached the landing, started along for
Hagan's room--and a light blazed suddenly in his face, and a hard,
quick grip on his shoulder forced him back against the wall. Then the
flashlight wavered, glistened on brass buttons went out, and a voice
laughed roughly:

"It's only Larry the Bat!"

"Larry the Bat, eh?" It was another voice, harsh and curt. "What are you
doing here?"

He was not first, after all! The telephone message from Pelham--it was
almost certainly that--had beaten him! They were ahead of him, just
ahead of him, they had only been a few steps ahead of him going up the
stairs, just a second ahead of him on their way to Hagan's room! Jimmie
Dale was thinking fast now. He must go, too--to Hagan's room with
them--somehow--there was no other way--there was Hagan's life at stake.

"Aw, I ain't done nothin'!" he whined. "I was just goin' ter borrow the
price of a feed from Mike Hagan--lemme go!"

"Hagan, eh!" snapped the questioner. "Are you a friend of his?"

"Sure, I am!"

The officers whispered for a moment together.

"We'll try it," decided the one who appeared to be in command. "We're
in the dark, anyhow, and the thing may be only a steer. Mabbe it'll
work--anyway, it won't do any harm." His hand fell heavily on Jimmie
Dale's shoulder. "Mrs. Hagan know you?" brusquely.

"Sure she does!" sniffled Larry the Bat.

"Good!" rasped the officer. "Well, we'll make the visit with you. And
you do what you're told, or we'll put the screws on you--see? We're
after something here, and you've blown the whole game--savvy? You've
spilled the gravy--understand?"

In the darkness, Jimmie Dale smiled grimly. It was far more than he had
dared to hope for--they were playing into his hands!

"But I don't know 'bout any game," grovelled Larry the Bat piteously.

"Who in hell said you did!" growled the officer. "You're supposed to
have snitched the lay to us, that's all--and mind you play your part!
Come on!"

It was two doors down the hall to Mike Hagan's room, and there one of
the officers, putting his shoulder to the door, burst it open and sprang
in. The other shoved Jimmie Dale forward. It was quickly done. The three
were in the room. The door was closed again.

Came a cry of terror out of the darkness, a movement as of some one
rising up hurriedly in bed; and then Mrs. Hagan's voice:

"What is it! Who is it! Mike!"

The table--it was against the right-hand wall, Jimmie Date remembered.
He sidled quickly toward it.

"Strike a light!" ordered the officer in charge.

Jimmie Dale's fingers were feeling under the edge of the table--a quick
sweep along it--NOTHING! He stooped, reaching farther in--another sweep
of his arm--and his fingers closed on a sheet of paper and a piece of
hard gum. In an instant they were in his pocket.

A match crackled and flared up. A lamp was lighted. Larry the Bat sulked
sullenly against the wall.

Terror-stricken, wide-eyed, Mrs. Hagan had clutched the child lying
beside her to her arms, and was sitting bolt upright in bed.

"Now then, no fuss about it!" said the officer in charge, with brutal
directness. "You might as well make a clean breast of Mike's share in
that murder downstairs--Larry the Bat, here, has already told us the
whole story. Come on, now--out with it!"

"Murder!"--her face went white. "My Mike--MURDER!" She seemed for an
instant stunned--and then down the worn, thin, haggard face gushed the
tears. "I don't believe it!" she cried. "I don't believe it!"

"Come on now, cut that out!" prodded the officer roughly. "I tell you
Larry the Bat, here, has opened everything up wide. You're only making
it worse for yourself."

"Him!" She was staring now at Jimmie Dale. "Oh, God!" she cried.
"So that's what you are, are you--a stool-pigeon for the cops? Well,
whatever you told them, you lie! You're the curse of this neighbourhood,
you are, and if my Mike is bad at all, it's you that's helped to make
him bad. But murder--you LIE!"

She had risen slowly from the bed--a gaunt, pitiful figure, pitifully
clothed, the black hair, gray-streaked, streaming thinly over her
shoulders, still clutching the baby that, too, was crying now.

The officers looked at one another and nodded.

"Guess she's handing it straight--we'll have a look on our own hook,"
the leader muttered.

She paid no attention to them--she was walking straight to Jimmie Dale.

"It's you, is it," she whispered fiercely through her sobs "that would
bring more shame and ruin here--you that's selling my man's life away
with your filthy lies for what they're paying you--it's you, is it,
that--" Her voice broke.

There was a frightened, uneasy look in Larry the Bat's eyes, his lips
were twitching weakly, he drew far back against the wall--and then,
glancing miserably at the officers, as though entreating their
permission, began to edge toward the door.

For a moment she watched him, her face white with outrage, her hand
clenched at her side--and then she found her voice again.

"Get out of here!" she said, in a choked, strained way pointing to the
door. "Get out of here--you dirty skate!"

"Sure!" mumbled Larry the Bat, his eyes on the floor. "Sure!" he
mumbled--and the door closed behind him.




Whisperings! Always whisperings, low, sibilant, floating errantly
from all sides, until they seemed a component part of the drug-laden
atmosphere itself. And occasionally another sound: the soft SLAP-SLAP
of loose-slippered feet, the faint rustle of equally loose-fitting
garments. And everywhere the sweet, sickish smell of opium. It was Chang
Foo's, simply a cellar or two deeper in Chang Foo's than that in which
Dago Jim had quarrelled once--and died!

Larry the Bat, vicious-faced, unkempt, disreputable, lay sprawled out on
one of the dive's bunks, an opium pipe beside him. But Larry the Bat was
not smoking; instead, his ear was pressed closely against the boarding
that formed the rather flimsy partition at the side of the bunk. One
heard many things in Chang Foo's if one cared to listen--if one could
first win one's way through the carefully guarded gateway, that to the
uninitiated offered nothing more interesting than the entrance to a
Chinese tea-shop, and an uninviting one at that!

HAD HE BEEN FOLLOWED IN HERE? He had been shadowed for the last hour; of
that, at least, he was certain. Why? By whom? For an hour he had dodged
in and out through the dens of the underworld, as only one who was at
home there and known to all could do--and at last he had taken refuge in
Chang Foo's like a fox burrowing deep into its hole.

Few could find their way into the most infamous opium den in all New
York, where not only the poppy ruled as master, but where crime was
hatched, ay, and carried to its ghastly consummation, sometimes, as
well; and of those few, not one but was of the underworld itself. And
it was that fact which held his muscles strained and rigid now under the
miserable rags that covered them, and it was that which kept the keen,
quick brain alert and active, every faculty keyed up and tense. If it
were the police, he had little to fear, for they could not force
their way in without warning; but if it were the underworld, he was in
imminent peril, and had done little better than run himself into a trap
from which there was no escape.

"DEATH TO THE GRAY SEAL!"--he had heard that whispered more than once in
this very place. Who knew at what moment the role of Larry the Bat would
be uncovered, and the underworld, where now he held so high a place,
would be at his throat like a pack of snarling wolves! Who had been
shadowing him during the last hour?

Whisperings! Nothing tangible! He could catch no words. Only the
never-ending whisperings of gathered groups here and there--and
sometimes the clink of coin where some game was in progress.

The curtain before his bunk was drawn suddenly aside--and Larry
the Bat's fingers, where his hand was carelessly hidden by his body
tightened upon his automatic.

"Smokee some more?"

The fingers relaxed. It was only Sam Wah, one of the attendants.

"Nix!" said Larry the Bat, in a slightly muddled tone. "Got enough."

The curtain fell into place again. Larry the Bat's lips set in a thin
smile. Ultimately it made little difference whether it was the police or
the underworld! The smile grew thinner. It was the flip of a coin, that
was all! With one there was the death house at Sing Sing for the Gray
Seal; with the other--well, there were many ways, from a shot or a knife
thrust in the open street, to his murder in some hidden dive like
this of Chang Foo's, for instance, where he now was--the Gray Seal was
responsible for the occupancy of too many penitentiary cells by those of
the underworld to look for any other fate!

He raised himself up sharply on his elbow. A shrill, high note, like
the scream of a parrakeet, rang out a second time. He tore the curtain
aside, and jumped to his feet. All around him, in the twinkling of an
eye, Chinamen in fluttering blouses, chattering like magpies, mingled
with snarling, cursing whites, were running madly. A voice, prefaced
with an oath, bawled out behind him, as he sprang forward and joined the

"Beat it! De cops! Beat it!"

The police! A raid! Was it for HIM? From rooms, an amazing number of
them, more forms rushed out, joined, divided, separated, and dashed,
some this way, some that, along branching passageways. There had been
raids before, the police had begun to change their minds about Chang
Foo's, but Chang Foo's was not an easy place to raid. House after house
in that quarter of Chinese laundries, of tea shops, of chop-suey joints,
opened one into the other through secret passages in the cellars.
Larry the Bat plunged down a staircase, and halted in the darkness of
a cellar, drawing back against the wall while the flying feet of his
fellow fugitives scurried by him.

Was it for HIM, this raid? If not, the police had not a hope of getting
him if he kept his head; for back in Chang Foo's proper, which would be
quite closed off now, Chang Foo would be blandly submitting to arrest,
offering himself as a sort of glorified sacrifice while the police
confiscated opium and fan-tan layouts. If the police had no other
purpose than that in mind, Chang Foo would simply pay a fine; the next
night the place would be in full blast again; and Chang Foo, higher than
ever in the confidence of the underworld's aristocracy, would reap his
reward--and that would be all there was to it.

But was that all? The raid had followed significantly close upon the
heels of his entry into Chang Foo's. Larry the Bat began to move forward
again. He dared not follow the others, and, later on, when quiet was
restored, issue out into the street from any one of the various houses
in which he might temporarily have taken refuge. There was a chance in
that, a chance that the police might be more zealous than usual, even if
he particularly was not their game--and he could take no chance. Arrest
for Larry the Bat, even on suspicion, could have but one conclusion--not
a pleasant one--the disclosure that Larry the Bat was not Larry the Bat
at all, but Jimmie Dale, the millionaire club-man, and, to complete a
fatal triplication, that Larry the Bat and Jimmie Dale was the Gray Seal
upon whose head was fixed a price!

All was silence around him now, except that from overhead came
occasionally the muffled tread of feet. He felt his way along into a
black, narrow passage, emerged into a second cellar, swept the place
with a single, circling gleam from a pocket flashlight, passed a
stairway that led upward, reached the opposite wall, and, dropping on
hands and knees, crawled into what, innocently enough, appeared to be
the opening of a coal bin.

He knew Chang Foo's well--as he knew the ins and outs of every den and
place he frequented, knew them as a man knows such things when his life
at any moment might hang upon his knowledge.

He was in another passage now, and this, in a few steps, brought him to
a door. Here he halted, and stood for a full five minutes, absolutely
motionless, absolutely still, listening. There was nothing--not a
sound. He tried the door cautiously. It was locked. The slim, sensitive,
tapering fingers of Jimmie Dale, unrecognisable now in the grimy digits
of Larry the Bat, felt tentatively over the lock. To fingers that seemed
in their tips to possess all the human senses, that time and again
in their delicate touch upon the dial of a safe had mocked at human
ingenuity and driven the police into impotent frenzy, this was a pitiful
thing. From his pocket came a small steel instrument that was quickly
and deftly inserted in the keyhole. There was a click, the door swung
open, and Jimmie Dale, alias Larry the Bat, stepped outside into a back
yard half a block away from the entrance to Chang Foo's.

Again he listened. There did not appear to be any unusual excitement in
the neighbourhood. From open windows above him and from adjoining houses
came the ordinary, commonplace sounds of voices talking and laughing,
even the queer, weird notes of a Chinese chant. He stole noiselessly
across the yard, out into the lane, and made his way rapidly along to
the cross street.

In a measure, now, he was safe; but one thing, a very vital thing,
remained to be done. It was absolutely necessary that he should know
whether he was the quarry that the police had been after in the raid, if
it was the police who had been shadowing him all evening. If it was the
police, there was but one meaning to it--Larry the Bat was known to be
the Gray Seal, and a problem perilous enough in any aspect confronted
him. Dare he risk the Sanctuary--for the clothes of Jimmie Dale? Or was
it safer to burglarise, as he had once done before, his own mansion on
Riverside Drive?

His thoughts were running riot, and he frowned, angry with himself.
There was time enough to think of that when he knew that it was the
police against whom he had to match his wits.

Well in the shadow of the buildings, he moved swiftly along the side
street until he came to the corner of the street on which, halfway down
the block, fronted Chang Foo's tea-shop. A glance in that direction, and
Jimmie Dale drew a breath of relief. A patrol wagon was backed up to
the curb, and a half dozen officers were busy loading it with what was
evidently Chang Foo's far from meagre stock of gambling appurtenances;
while Chang Foo himself, together with Sam Wah and another attendant,
were in the grip of two other officers, waiting possibly for another
patrol wagon. There was a crowd, too, but the crowd was at a respectful
distance--on the opposite side of the street.

Jimmie Dale still hugged the corner. A man swaggered out from a doorway,
quite close to Chang Foo's, and came on along the street. As the other
reached the corner, Jimmie Dale sidled forward.

"'Ello, Chick!" he said, out of the corner of his mouth. "Wot's de lay?"

"'Ello, Larry!" returned the other. "Aw, nuthin'! De nutcracker on
Chang, dat's all."

"I t'ought mabbe dey was lookin' for some guy dat was in dere," observed
Jimmie Dale.

"Nuthin' doin'!" the other answered. "I was in dere meself. De whole mob
beat it clean, an' de bulls never batted an eye. Didn't youse pipe me
make me get-away outer Shanghai's a minute ago? De bulls never went
nowhere except into Chang's. Dere's a new lootenant in de precinct
inaugeratin' himself, dat's all. S'long, Larry--I gotta date."

"S'long, Chick!" responded Jimmie Dale--and started slowly back along
the cross street.

It was not the police, then, who were interested in his movements! Then
who? He shook his head with a little, savage, impotent gesture. One
thing was clear: it was too early to risk a return to the Sanctuary and
attempt the rehabilitation of Jimmie Dale. If any one was on the
hunt for Larry the Bat, the Sanctuary would be the last place to be

He turned the next corner, hesitated a moment in front of a garishly
lighted dance hall, and finally shuffled in through the door, made his
way across the floor, nodding here and there to the elite of gangland,
and, with a somewhat arrogant air of proprietorship, sat down at a table
in the corner. Little better than a tramp in appearance, certainly
the most disreputable-looking object in the place, even the waiter who
approached him accorded him a certain curious deference--was not Larry
the Bat the most celebrated dope fiend below the dead line?

"Gimme a mug o' suds!" ordered Jimmie Dale, and sprawled royally back in
his chair.

Under the rim of his slouch hat, pulled now far over his eyes, he
searched the faces around him. If he had been asked to pick the actors
for a revel from the scum of the underworld, he could not have improved
upon the gathering. There were perhaps a hundred men and women in
the room, the majority dancing, and, with the exception of a few
sight-seeing slummers, they were men and women whose acquaintance with
the police was intimate but not cordial--far from cordial.

Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders, and sipped at the glass that had
been set before him. It was grimly ironic that he should be, not only
there, but actually a factor and a part of the underworld's intimate
life! He, Jimmie Dale, a wealthy man, a member of New York's
exclusive clubs, a member of New York's most exclusive society! It was
inconceivable. He smiled sardonically. Was it? Well, then, it was none
the less true. His life unquestionably was one unique, apart from any
other man's, but it was, for all that, actual and real.

There had been three years of it now--since SHE had come into his life.
Jimmie Dale slouched down a little in his chair. The ice was thin,
perilously thin, that he was skating on now. Each letter, with its
demand upon him to match his wits against police or underworld, or
against both combined, perhaps, made that peril a little greater, a
little more imminent--if that were possible, when already his life
was almost literally carried, daily, hourly, in his hand. Not that he
rebelled against it; it was worth the price that some day he expected
he must pay--the price of honour, wealth, a name disgraced, ruin, death.
Was he quixotic? Immoderately so? He smiled gravely. Perhaps. But he
would do it all over again if the choice were his. There were those who
blessed the name of the Gray Seal, as well as those who cursed it. And
there was the Tocsin!

Who was she? He did not know, but he knew that he had come to love her,
come to care for her, and that she had come to mean everything in life
to him. He had never seen her, to know her face. He had never seen her
face, but he knew her voice--ay, he had even held her for a moment, the
moment of wildest happiness he had ever known, in his arms. That night
when he had entered his library, his own particular den in his own
house, and in the darkness had found her there--found her finally
through no effort of his own, when he had searched so fruitlessly for
years to find her, using every resource at his command to find her! And
she, because she had come of her own volition, relying upon him, had
held him in honour to let her go as she had come--without looking upon
her face! Exquisite irony! But she had made him a promise then--that the
work of the Gray Seal was nearly over--that soon there would be an end
to the mystery that surrounded her--that he should know all--that he
should know HER.

He smiled again, but it was a twisted smile on the mechanically
misshapen lips of Larry the Bat. NEARLY over! Who knew? That "nearly"
might be too late! Even tonight he had been shadowed, was skulking even
now in this place as a refuge. Who knew? Another hour, and the newsboys
might be shrieking their "Uxtra! Uxtra! De Gray Seal caught! De
millionaire Jimmie Dale de Jekyll an' Hyde of real life!"

Jimmie Dale straightened up suddenly in his seat. There was a shout,
an oath bawled out high above the riot of noise, a chorus of feminine
shrieks from across the room. What was the matter with the
underworld to-night? He seemed fated to find nothing but centres of
disturbance--first a raid at Chang Foo's, and now this. What was the
matter here? They were stampeding toward him from the other side of
the room. There was the roar of a revolver shot--another. Black Ike! He
caught an instant's glimpse of the gunman's distorted face through the
crowd. That was it probably--a row over some moll.

And then, as Jimmie Dale lunged up from his chair to his feet to escape
the rush, pandemonium itself seemed to break loose. Yells, shots,
screams, and oaths filled the air. The crowd surged this way and that.
Tables were overturned and sent crashing to the floor. And then came
sudden darkness, as some one of the attendants in misguided excitability
switched off the lights.

The darkness but served to increase the panic, not allay it. With a
savage snap of his jaws, Jimmie Dale swung from his table in the corner
with the intention of making his way out by a side door behind him--it
was a case of the police again, and the patrolman outside would probably
be pulling a riot call by now. And the police--He stopped suddenly,
as though he had been struck. An envelope, thrust there out of the
darkness, was in his hand; and her voice, HERS, the Tocsin's, was
sounding in his ears:

"Jimmie! Jimmie! I've been trying all evening to catch you! Quick! Get
to the Sanctuary and change your clothes. There's not an instant to
lose! It's for my sake to-night!"

And then a surging mob was around him on every side, and, pushing,
jostling, half lifting him at times from his feet, carried him forward
with its rush, and with him in its midst burst through the door and out
into the street.



Not a sound as the key turned in the lock; not a sound as the door swung
back on its carefully oiled hinges; not a sound as Larry the Bat slipped
like a shadow into the blackness of the room, closing the door behind
him again. With a tread as noiseless as a cat's, he was across the room
to satisfy himself that the shutters were tightly closed; and then the
single gas jet flared up, murky, yellow, illuminating the miserable,
squalid room--the Sanctuary--the home of Larry the Bat. There was need
for silence, need for caution. In five minutes, ten at the outside, he
must emerge again--as Jimmie Dale.

With a smile on his lips that mingled curiously chagrin and
self-commiseration, he took the letter from his pocket and tore it open.
It was she, then, who had been following him all evening, and, like a
blundering idiot, he had wasted precious, perhaps irreparable, hours!
What had she meant by "It's for my sake to-night"? The words had been
ringing in his ears since the moment she had whispered them in that
panic-stricken crowd. Was it not always for her sake that he answered
these calls to arms? Was it not always for her sake that he, as the
Gray Seal, was--The mental soliloquy came to an abrupt end. He had
subconsciously read the first sentence of the letter, and now, with
sudden feverish eagerness and excitement, he was reading it to the last

"DEAR PHILANTHROPIC CROOK: In an hour after you receive this, if all
goes well, you shall know everything--everything. Who I am--yes, and
my name. It has been more than three years now, hasn't it? It has been
incomprehensible to you, but there has been no other way. I dared not
take the chance of discovery by any one; I dared not expose you to
the risk of being known by me. Your life would not have been worth
a moment's purchase. Oh, Jimmie, am I only making the mystery more
mystifying? But to-night, I think, I hope, I pray that it is all at an
end: though against me, and against you to-night when you go to help
me, is the most powerful and pitiless organisation of criminals that the
world has ever known; and the stake we are playing for is a fortune of
millions--and my life. And yet somehow I am afraid now, just because the
end is so near, and the victory seems so surely won. And so, Jimmie, be
careful; use all that wonderful cleverness of yours as you have never
used it before, and--But there should be no need for that, it is so
simple a thing that I am going to ask you to do. Why am I writing so
illogically! Nothing, surely, can possibly happen. This is not like
one of my usual letters, is it? I am beside myself to-night with hope,
anxiety, fear, and excitement.

"Listen, then, Jimmie: Be at the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and
Waverly Place at exactly half-past ten. A taxicab will drive up, as
though you had signalled it in passing, and the chauffeur will say:
'I've another fare, in half an hour, sir, but I can get you most
anywhere in that time.' You will be smoking a cigarette. Toss it out
into the street, make any reply you like, and get into the cab. Give the
chauffeur that little ring of mine with the crest of the bell and belfry
and the motto, 'Sonnez le Tocsin,' that you found the night old Isaac
Pelina was murdered, and the chauffeur will give you in exchange a
sealed packet of papers. He will drive you to your home, and I will
telephone to you there.

"I need not tell you to destroy this. Keep the appointment in your
proper person--as Jimmie Dale. Carry nothing that might identify you
as the Gray Seal if any accident should happen. And, lastly, trust the
pseudo chauffeur absolutely."

There was no signature. Her letters were never signed. He stood for a
moment staring at the closely written sheets in his hand, a heightened
colour in his cheeks, his lips pressed tightly together--and then his
fingers automatically began to tear the letter into pieces, and the
pieces again into little shreds. To-night! It was to be to-night, the
end of all this mystery. To-night was to see the end of this dual life
of his, with its constant peril! To-night the Gray Seal was to exit from
the stage forever! To-night, a wonderful climax of the years, he was to
see HER!

His blood was quickened now, his heart pounding in a faster beat; a mad
elation, a fierce uplift was upon him. He thrust the torn bits of paper
into his pocket hurriedly, stepped across the room to the corner, rolled
back the oilcloth, and lifted up the loose plank in the flooring, so
innocently dustladen, as, more than once, to have eluded the eyes of
inquisitive visitors in the shape of police and plain clothes men from

From the space beneath he removed a neatly folded pile of clothes, laid
these on the bed, and began to undress. He was working rapidly now. Tiny
pieces of wax were removed from his nostrils, from under his lips, from
behind his ears; water from a cracked pitcher poured into a battered tin
basin, and mixed with a few drops of some liquid from a bottle which he
procured from its hiding place under the flooring, banished the make-up
stain from his face, his neck, his wrists, and hands as if by magic.
It was a strange metamorphosis that had taken place--the coarse,
brutal-featured, blear-eyed, leering countenance of Larry the Bat was
gone, and in its place, clean-cut, square-jawed, clear-eyed, was the
face of Jimmie Dale. And where before had slouched a slope-shouldered,
misshapen, flabby creature, a broad-shouldered form well over six feet
in height now stood erect, and under the clean white skin the muscles
of an athlete, like knobs of steel played back and forth with every
movement of his body.

In the streaked and broken mirror Jimmie Dale surveyed himself
critically, methodically, and, with a nod of satisfaction, hastily
donned the fashionably cut suit of tweeds upon the bed. He rummaged then
through the ragged garments he had just discarded, transferred to
his pockets a roll of bills and his automatic, and paused hesitantly,
staring at the thin metal case, like a cigarette case, that he held in
the palm of his hand. He shrugged his shoulders a little whimsically; it
seemed strange indeed that he was through with that! He snapped it
open. Within, between sheets of oil paper, lay the scores of little
diamond-shaped, gray-coloured, adhesive paper seals--the insignia of the
Gray Seal. Yes, it seemed strange that he was never to use another! He
closed the case, gathered up the clothes of Larry the Bat, tucked
the case in among them, and shoved the bundle into the hole under the
flooring. All these things would have to be destroyed, but there was not
time to-night; to-morrow, or the next day, would do for that. What would
it be like to live a normal life again, without the menace of danger
lurking on every hand, without that grim slogan of the underworld,
"Death to the Gray Seal!" or that savage fiat of the police, "The Gray
Seal, dead or alive--but the Gray Seal!" forever ringing in his ears?
What would it be like, this new life--with her?

The thought was thrilling him again, bringing again that eager, exultant
uplift. In an hour, ONE hour, and the barriers of years would be swept
away, and she would be in his arms!

"It's for my sake to-night!" His face grew suddenly tense, as the words
came back to him. That "hour" wasn't over yet! It was no hysterical
exaggeration that had prompted her to call her enemies the most powerful
and pitiless organisation of criminals that the world had ever known.
It was not the Tocsin's way to exaggerate. The words would be literally
true. The very life she had led for the three years that had gone stood
out now as a grim proof of her assertion.

Jimmie Dale replaced the flooring, carefully brushed the dust back into
the cracks, spread the oilcloth into place, and stood up. Who and what
was this organisation? What was between it and the Tocsin? What was this
immense fortune that was at stake? And what was this priceless packet
that was so crucial, that meant victory now, ay, and her life, too, she
had said?

The questions swept upon him in a sort of breathless succession. Why had
she not let him play a part in this? True, she had told him why--that
she dared not expose him to the risk. Risk! Was there any risk that the
Gray Seal had not taken, and at her instance! He did not understand, he
smiled a little uncertainly, as he reached up to turn out the gas. There
were a good many things that he did not understand about the Tocsin!

The room was in darkness, and with the darkness Jimmie Dale's mind
centred on the work immediately before him. To enter the tenement where
he was known and had an acknowledged right as Larry the Bat was one
thing; for Jimmie Dale to be discovered there was quite another.

He crossed the room, opened the door silently, stood for a moment
listening, then stepped out into the black, musty, ill-smelling hallway,
closing the door behind him. He stooped and locked it. The querulous cry
of a child reached him from somewhere above--a murmur of voices, muffled
by closed doors, from everywhere. How many families were housed beneath
that sordid roof he had never known, only that there was miserable
poverty there as well as vice and crime, only that Larry the Bat, who
possessed a room all to himself, was as some lordly and super-being to
these fellow tenants who shared theirs with so many that there was not
air enough for all to breathe.

He had no doors to pass--his was next to the staircase. He began to
descend. They could scream and shriek, those stairs, like aged humans,
twisted and rheumatic, at the least ungentle touch. But there was no
sound from them now. There seemed something almost uncanny in the
silent tread. Stair after stair he descended, his entire weight thrown
gradually upon one foot before the other was lifted. The strain upon the
muscles, trained and hardened as they were, told. As he moved from the
bottom step, he wiped little beads of perspiration from his forehead.

The door, now, that gave on the alleyway! He opened it, slipped outside,
darted across the narrow lane, stole along where the shadows of the
fence were blackest, paused, listening, as he reached the end of the
alleyway, to assure himself that there was no near-by pedestrian--and
stepped out into the street.

He kept on along the block, turned into the Bowery, and, under the first
lamp, consulted his watch. It was a quarter past ten. He could make
it easily in a leisurely walk. He continued on up the Bowery, finally
crossed to Broadway, and shortly afterward turned into Waverly Place.
At the corner of Fifth Avenue he consulted his watch again--and now he
lighted a cigarette. Sixth Avenue was only a block away. At precisely
half-past ten, to the second, he halted on the designated corner,
smoking nonchalantly.

A taxicab, coincidentally coming from an uptown direction, swung in to
the curb.

"Taxi, sir? Yes, sir?" Then, with an admirable mingling of eagerness to
secure the fare and a fear that his confession might cause him the loss
of it: "I've another fare in half an hour, sir, but I can get you most
anywhere in that time."

Jimmie Dale's cigarette was tossed carelessly into the street.

"St. James Club!" he said curtly, and stepped into the cab.

The cab started forward, turned the corner, and headed along Waverly
Place toward Broadway. The chauffeur twisted around in his seat in a
matter-of-fact way, as though to ask further directions.

"Have you anything for me?" he inquired casually.

It lay where it always lay, that ring, between the folds of that little
white glove in his pocketbook. Jimmie Dale took it out now, and handed
it silently to the chauffeur.

The other's face changed instantly--composure was gone, and a quick,
strained look was in its place.

"I'm afraid I've been watched," he said tersely. "Look behind you, will
you, and tell me if you see anything?"

Jimmie Dale glanced backward through the little window in the hood.

"There's another taxi just turned in from Sixth Avenue," he reported the
next instant.

"Keep your eye on it!" instructed the chauffeur shortly.

The speed of the cab increased sensibly.

With a curious tightening of his lips, Jimmie Dale settled himself
in his seat so that he could watch the cab behind. There was trouble
coming, intuitively he sensed that; and, he reflected bitterly, he might
have known! It was too marvellous, too wonderful ever to come to pass
that this one hour, the thought of which had fired his blood and made
him glad beyond any gladness life had ever held for him before, should
bring its promised happiness.

"Where's the cab now?" the chauffeur flung back over his shoulder.

They had passed Fifth Avenue, and were nearing Broadway.

"About the same distance behind," Jimmie Dale answered.

"That looks bad!" the chauffeur gritted between his teeth. "We'll have
to make sure. I'll run down Lower Broadway."

"If you think we're followed," suggested Jimmie Dale quietly, "why not
run uptown and give them the slip somewhere where the traffic is thick?
Lower Broadway at this time of night is as empty and deserted as a
country road."

The chauffeur's sudden laugh was mirthless.

"My God, you don't know what you are talking about!" he burst out. "If
they're following, all hell couldn't throw them off the track. And I've
got to know, I've got to be SURE before I dare make a move to-night. I
couldn't tell up in the crowded districts if I was followed, could I?
They won't come out into the open until their hands are forced."

The car swerved sharply, rounded the corner, and, speeding up faster and
faster, began to tear down Lower Broadway.

"Watch! WATCH!" cried the chauffeur.

There was no word between them for a moment; then Jimmie Dale spoke

"It's turned the corner! It's coming this way!"

The taxicab was rocking violently with the speed; silent, empty, Lower
Broadway stretched away ahead. Apart from an occasional street car,
probably there would be nothing between them and the Battery. Jimmie
Dale glanced at his companion's face as a light, flashing by, threw
it into relief. It was set and stern, even a little haggard; but, too,
there was something else there, something that appealed instantly to
Jimmie Dale--a sort of bulldog grit that dominated it.

"If he holds our speed, we'll know!" the chauffeur was shouting now to
make himself heard over the roar of the car. "Look again! Where is it

Once more Jimmie Dale looked through the little rear window. The cab had
been a block behind them when it had turned the corner, and he watched
it now in a sort of grim fascination. There was no possible doubt of it!
The two bobbing, bouncing headlights were creeping steadily nearer. And
then a sort of unnatural calm settled upon Jimmie Dale, and his hand
went mechanically to his pocket to feel his automatic there, as he
turned again to the chauffeur.

"If you've got any more speed, you'd better use it!" he said

The man shot a quick look at him.

"They are following us? You are SURE?"

"Yes," said Jimmie Dale.

The chauffeur laughed again in that mirthless, savage way.

"Lean over here, where I can talk to you!" he rasped out. "The game's
up, as far as I am concerned, I guess! But there's a chance for you.
They don't know you in this."

"Give her more speed--or dodge into a cross street!" suggested Jimmie
Dale coolly. "They haven't got us yet, by a long way!"

The other shook his head.

"It's not only that cab behind," he answered, through set lips. "You
don't know what we're up against. If they're really after us, there's
a trap laid in every section of this city--the devils! It's the package
they want. Thank God for the presentiment that made me leave it behind!
I was going back for it, you understand, if I was satisfied that we
weren't followed. Listen! There's a chance for you--there's none for me.
That package--remember this!--no one else knows where it is, and it's
life and death to the one who sent you here. It's in Box 428 at--My God,
LOOK! Look there!" he yelled, and, with a wrench at the wheel, sent the
taxi lurching and staggering for the car tracks in the centre of the

The scene, fast as thought itself, was photographing itself in every
detail upon Jimmie Dale's brain. From the cross street ahead, one from
each corner, two motor cars had nosed out into Broadway, blocking the
road on both sides. And now the car on the left-hand side was
moving forward across the tracks to counteract the chauffeur's move,
deliberately insuring a collision. There was no chance, no further
room to turn, no time to stop--the man driving the other car jumped for
safety--they would be into it in an instant.

"Box 428!" Jimmie pleaded fiercely. "Go on, man! Go on! FINISH!"

"Yes!" cried the chauffeur. "John Johansson, at--"

But Jimmie Dale heard no more. There was the crash of impact as the
taxicab plowed into the car that had been so craftily manoeuvered in
front of it, and Jimmie Dale, lifted from his feet, was hurled violently
forward with the shock, and all went black before his eyes.



For what length of time he had remained unconscious, Jimmie Dale had not
the slightest idea. He regained his senses to find himself lying on a
couch in a strange room that had a most exquisitely brass-wrought dome
light in the ceiling. That was what attracted his attention, because
the light hurt his eyes, and his head was already throbbing as though a
thousand devils were beating a diabolical tattoo upon it.

He closed his eyes against the light. Where was he? What had happened?
Oh, yes, he remembered now! That smash on Lower Broadway! He had been
hurt. He moved first one limb and then another tentatively, and was
relieved to find that, though his body ached as if it had been severely
shaken, and his head was bad, he had apparently escaped without serious

Where was he? In a hospital? His fingers, resting at his side upon the
couch, supplied him with the information that it was a very expensive
couch, upholstered in finest leather. If he were in a hospital, he would
be in a cot.

He opened his eyes again to glance curiously around him. The room was
quite in keeping with the artistic lighting fixture and the refined, if
expensive, taste that was responsible for the couch. A heavy velvet
rug of rich, dark green was bordered by a polished hardwood floor;
panellings of dark-green frieze and beautifully grained woodwork made
the lower walls; while above, on a background of some soft-toned paper,
hung a few, and evidently choice, oil paintings. There was a big,
inviting lounging chair; a massive writing table, or more properly, a
desk of walnut; and behind the desk, his back half turned, apparently
intent upon a book, sat a man in immaculate evening dress.

Jimmie Dale closed his eyes again. There was something reassuring about
it all, comfortably reassuring. Though why there should be any occasion
for a feeling of reassurance at all, he could not for the moment make
out. And then, in a sudden flash, the details of the night came back to
him. The Tocsin's letter--the package he was to get--the taxicab--the
chauffeur, who was not a chauffeur--the chase--the trap. He lay
perfectly still. It was the professional Jimmie Dale now whose brain, in
spite of the throbbing, brutally aching head, was at work, keen, alert.

The chauffeur! What had happened to him? Had the man been killed in the
auto smash; or, less fortunate than himself, fallen into the hands of
those whose power he seemed both to fear and rate so highly? And that
package! Box--what was the number?--yes, 428. What did that mean? What
box? Where was it? Who was John Johansson? He hadn't heard any more than
that; the smash had come then. And lastly, he was back again to the
same question he had begun with: Where was he now himself? It looked as
though some good Samaritan had picked him up. Who was this gentleman so
quietly reading there at the desk?

Jimmie Dale opened his eyes for the third time. How still, how
absolutely silent the room was! He studied the man's back speculatively
for a moment, then his gaze travelled on past the man to the wall,
riveted there, and his fingers, without movement of his arm, pressed
against the outside of his coat pocket. He thought as much! His
automatic was gone!

Not a muscle of Jimmie Dale's face moved. His eyes shifted to a picture
on the wall. THE MAN WAS WATCHING HIM--NOT READING! Just above the level
of the desk, a small mirror held the couch in focus--but, equally,
it held the man in focus, and Jimmie Dale had seen the other's eyes,
through a black mask that covered the face to the top of the upper lip,
fixed intently upon him.

There was a chill now where before there had been reassurance, something
ominous in the very quiet and refinement of the room; and Jimmie Dale
smiled inwardly in bitter irony--his good Samaritan wore a mask! His
self-congratulations had come too soon. Whatever had happened to the
chauffeur, it was evident enough that he himself was caught! What was it
the chauffeur had said? Something about a chance through being unknown.
Was it to be a battle of wits, then? God, if his head did not ache so
frightfully! It was hard to think with the brain half sick with pain.

Those two eyes shining in that mirror! There seemed something horribly
spectre-like about it. He did not look again, but he knew they were
there. It was like a cat watching a mouse. Why did not the man speak,
or move, or do something, and--He turned his head slowly; the man was
laughing in a low, amused way.

"You appear to be taken with that picture," observed a pleasant voice.
"Perhaps you recognise it from there? It is a Corot."

Jimmie Dale, with a well-simulated start, sat up--and, with another
quite as well simulated, stared at the masked man. The other had laid
down his book, and swung around in his chair to face the couch. Jimmie
Dale stood up a little shakily.

"Look here!" he said awkwardly. "I--I don't quite understand. I remember
that my taxi got into a smash-up, and I suppose I have to thank you for
the assistance you must have rendered me; only, as I say"--he looked in
a puzzled way around the room, and in an even more perplexed way at the
mask on the other's face--"I must confess I am at a loss to understand
quite the meaning of this."

"Suppose that instead of trying to understand you simply accept things
as you find them." The voice was soft, but there was a finality in it
that its blandness only served to make the more suggestive.

Jimmie Dale drew himself up, and bowed coldly.

"I beg your pardon," he said. "I did not mean to intrude. I have only to
thank you again, then, and bid you good-night."

The lips beneath the mask parted slightly in a politely deprecating

"There is no hurry," said the man, a sudden sharpness creeping into his
tones. "I am sorry that the rule I apply to you does not work both ways.
For instance, I might be quite at a loss to account for your presence in
that taxicab."

Jimmie Dale's smile was equally polite, equally deprecating.

"I fail to see how it could be of the slightest possible interest to
you," he replied. "However, I have no objection to telling you. I hailed
the taxi at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Waverly Place, told the
chauffeur to drive me to the St. James Club, and--"

"The St. James Club," broke in the other coldly, "is, I believe, north,
not SOUTH of Waverly Place--and on Broadway not at all."

Jimmie Dale stared at the other for an instant in patient annoyance.

"I am quite well aware of that," he said stiffly. "Nevertheless I told
the man to drive me to the St. James Club. We came across Waverly Place,
but on reaching Broadway, instead of turning uptown, he suddenly whirled
in the other direction and sent the car flying at full speed down Lower
Broadway. I shouted at the man. I don't know yet whether he was drunk
or crazy or"--Jimmie Dale's eyes fixed disdainfully on the other's
mask--"whether there might not, after all, have been method in his
madness. I can only say that before we had gone more than two or three
blocks, a wild effort on his part to avoid a collision with an auto
swinging out from a side street resulted in an even more disastrous
smash with another on the other side, and I was knocked senseless."

"'Victim,' I presume, is the idea you desire to convey," observed the
other evenly. "You were quite the victim of circumstances, as it were!"

Jimmie Dale's eyebrows lifted slightly.

"It would appear to be fairly obvious, I should say."

"Very clever!" commented the man. "But now suppose we remove the buttons
from the foils!" His voice rasped suddenly. "You are quite as well aware
as I am that what has happened to-night was not an accident. Nor--in
case the possibility may have occurred to you--are the police any the
wiser, save for the existence of two wrecked cars on Lower Broadway, and
another which escaped, and for which doubtless they are still searching
assiduously. The ownership of the taxicab you so inadvertently entered
they will have no difficulty in establishing--you, perhaps, however,
are in a better position than I am to appreciate the fact that the
establishment of its ownership will lead them nowhere. As I understand
it, the man who drove you to-night obtained the loan of the cab from one
of the company's chauffeur's in return for a hundred-dollar bill. Am I

"In view of what has happened," admitted Jimmie Dale simply, "I should
not be surprised."

There was a sort of sardonic admiration in the other's laugh.

"As for the other car," he went on, "I can assure you that its ownership
will never be known. When the nearest patrolman rushed up, there were
no survivors of the disaster, save those in the third car which he was
powerless to stop--which accounts for your presence here. You will admit
that I have been quite frank."

"Oh, quite!" said Jimmie Dale, a little wearily. "But would you mind
telling me what all this is leading to?"

The man had been leaning forward in his chair, one hand, palm downward,
resting lightly on the desk. He shifted his hand now suddenly to the arm
of his chair.

"THIS!" he said, and on the desk where his hand had been lay the
Tocsin's gold signet ring.

Jimmie Dale's face expressed mild curiosity. He could feel the other's
eyes boring into him.

"We were speaking of ownership," said the man, in a low, menacing
tone. "I want to know where the woman who owns this ring can be found

There was no play, no trifling here; the man was in deadly earnest. But
it seemed to Jimmie Dale, even with the sense of peril more imminent
with every instant, that he could have laughed outright in savage
mockery at the irony of the question. Where was she? Even WHO was she?
And this was the hour in which he was to have known!

"May I look at it?" he requested calmly.

The other nodded, but his eyes never left Jimmie Dale.

"It will give you an extra moment or so to frame your answer," he said

Jimmie Dale ignored the thrust, picked up the ring, examined it
deliberately, and set it back again on the table.

"Since I do not know who owns it," he said, "I cannot answer your

"No! Well, then, there is still another matter--a little package that
was in the taxicab with you. Where is that?"

"See here!" said Jimmie Dale irritably. "This has gone far enough! I
have seen no package, large or small, or of any description whatever.
You are evidently mistaking me for some one else. You have only to
telephone to the St. James Club." He reached toward his pocket for his
cardcase. "My name is--"

"Dale," supplied the other curtly. "Don't bother about the card, Mr.
Dale. We have already taken the liberty of searching you." He rose
abruptly from his chair. "I am afraid you do not quite realise your
position, Mr. Dale," he said, with an ominous smile. "Let me make
it clear. I do not wish to be theatrical about this, but we do not
temporise here. You will either answer both of those questions to my

Jimmie Dale's face hardened. His eyes met the other's steadily.

"Ah, I think I begin to see!" he said caustically. "When I have been
thoroughly frightened I shall be offered my freedom at a price. A sort
of up-to-date game of holdup! The penalty of being a wealthy man! If you
had named your figure to begin with, we would have saved a lot of idle
talk, and you would have had my answer the sooner: NOTHING!"

"Do you know," said the other, in a grimly musing way, "there has always
been one man, but only one until now, that I have wished I might add
to my present associates. I refer to the so-called Gray Seal. To-night
there are two. I pay you the compliment of being the other. But"--he was
smiling ominously again--"we are wasting time, Mr. Dale. I am willing to
expose my hand to the extent of admitting that the information you are
withholding is infinitely more valuable to me than the mere wreaking of
reprisal upon you for a refusal to talk. Therefore, if you will answer,
I pledge you my word you will be free to leave here within five minutes.
If you refuse, you are already aware of the alternative. Well, Mr.

Who was this man? Jimmie Dale was studying the other's chin, the lips,
the white, even teeth, the jet-black hair. Some day the tables might be
turned. Could he recognise again this cool, imperturbable ruffian who so
callously threatened him with murder?

"Well, Mr. Dale? I am waiting!"

"I am not a magician," said Jimmie Dale contemptuously. "I could not
answer your questions if I wanted to."

The other's hand slid instantly to a row of electric buttons on the

"Very well, Mr. Dale!" he said quietly. "You do not believe, I see, that
I would dare to carry my threat into execution; you perhaps even doubt
my power. I shall take the trouble to convince you--I imagine it will
stimulate your memory."

The door opened. Two men were standing on the threshold, both in evening
dress, both masked. The man behind the desk came forward, took Jimmie
Dale's arm almost courteously, and led him from the room out into a
corridor, where he halted abruptly.

"I want to call your attention first, Mr. Dale, to the fact that as far
as you are concerned you neither have now, nor ever will have, any idea
whether you are in the heart of New York or fifty miles away from it.
Now, listen! Do you hear anything?"

There was nothing. Only the strange silence of that other room was
intensified now. There was not a sound; stillness such as it seemed to
Jimmie Dale he had never experienced before was around him.

"You may possibly infer from the silence that you are NOT in the city,"
suggested the other, after a moment's pause. "I leave you to your own
conclusions in that respect. The cause, however, of the silence is
internal, not external; we had sound-proof principles in mind to a
perhaps exaggerated degree when this building was constructed. If you
care to do so, you have my permission to shout, say, for help, to your
heart's content. We shall make no effort to stop you."

Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders. He was staring down a brilliantly
lighted, richly carpeted corridor. There were doors on one side, windows
on the other, the windows all hung with heavy, closely drawn portieres.
The corridor was certainly not on the ground floor, but whether it was
on the second or third, or even above that again, he had no means of
knowing. From appearances, though, the place seemed more like a large,
private mansion than anything else.

"Just one word more before we proceed," continued the other. "I do not
wish you to labour under any illusion. Here we are frankly criminals.
This is our home. It should have some effect in impressing you with the
power and resource at our command, and also with the class of men with
whom you are dealing. There is not one among us whose education is not
fully equal to your own; not one, indeed, but who is chosen, granting
first his criminal tendencies, because he is a specialist in his own
particular field--in commerce, in the government diplomatic service, in
the professions of law and medicine, in the ranks of pure science.
We are bordering on the fantastical, are we not? Dreaming, you will
probably say, of the Utopian in crime organisation. Quite so, Mr. Dale.
I only ask you to consider the POSSIBILITIES if what I say is true. Now
let us proceed. I am going to take you into three rooms--the three whose
doors you see ahead of you. You will notice that, including the one you
have just left, there are four on this corridor. I do not wish to strain
your credulity, or play tricks upon you; so I am going to ask you to fix
an approximate idea of the length of the corridor in your mind, as it
will perhaps enable you to account more readily for what may appear to
be a discrepancy in the corresponding size of the rooms."

One of the men opened the door ahead. Jimmie Dale, at a sign from his
conductor, moved forward and entered. Just what he had expected to find
he could not have told; his brain was whirling, partly from his aching
head, partly from his desperate effort to conceive some way of escape
from the peril which, for all his nonchalance, he knew only too well
was the gravest he had ever faced; but what he saw was simply a cozily
furnished bedroom. There was nothing peculiar about it; nothing out of
the way, except perhaps that it was rather narrow.

And then suddenly, rubbing his eyes involuntarily, he was staring in a
dazed way before him. The whole right-hand side of the wall was sinking
without a sound into the floor, increasing the width of the room by some
five or six feet--and in this space was disclosed what appeared to be a
sort of chemical laboratory, elaborately equipped, extending the entire
length of the room.

"The wall is purely a matter of mechanical construction, operated
hydraulically." The man was speaking softly at Jimmie Dale's side.
"The room beneath is built to correspond; the base, ceiling, and wall
mouldings here do not have to be very ingenious to effect a disguise.
I might say, however, that few visitors, other than yourself, have ever
seen anything here but a bedroom." He waved his hand toward the retorts,
the racks of test tubes, the hundred and one articles that strewed the
laboratory bench. "As for this, its purpose is twofold. We, as well,
as the police, have often need of analysis. We make it. If we require a
drug, a poison, say, we compound it from its various ingredients, or,
as the case may be, distil it, perhaps--it is, you will agree, somewhat
more difficult to trace to its source if procured that way. And speaking
of poisons"--he stepped forward, and lifted a glass-stoppered bottle
containing a colourless liquid from a shelf--"in a modest way we have
even done some original research work here. This, for instance, is
as Utopian from our standpoint as the formation, and personnel of the
organisation I have briefly outlined to you. It possesses very essential
qualities. It is almost instantaneous in its action, requires a very
small quantity, and defies detection even by autopsy." He uncorked the
bottle, and dipped in a long glass rod. "Will you watch the experiment?"
he invited, with a sort of ghastly pleasantry. "I do not want you to
accept anything on trust."

With a start, Jimmie Dale swung around. He had heard no sound, but
another man was at his elbow now--and, struggling in the man's hand, was
a little white rabbit.

It was over in an instant. A single drop in the rabbit's mouth, and the
animal had stiffened out, a lifeless thing.

"It is quite as effective on the human organism," continued the other,
"only, instead of one drop, three are required. If I make it ten"--he
was carefully measuring the liquid into two wineglasses--"it is only
that even you may be satisfied that the quantity is fatal." He filled up
the glasses with what was apparently wine of some description, which he
poured from a decanter, and held out the glasses in front of him.

And again Jimmie Dale started, again he had heard no one enter, and yet
two men had stepped forward from behind him and had taken the glasses
from their leader's hands. He glanced around him, counting quickly--they
were surely the two who had entered with him from the corridor. No!
Including the leader, there were now six men, all in evening dress, all
masked, in the room with him.

A wave of the leader's hand, and the two men holding the glasses left
the room. The man turned to Jimmie Dale again.

"Shall we proceed to the second room, Mr. Dale?" he asked politely.
"I think it is now prepared for us--I do not wish to bore you with a
repetition of magical sliding walls."

There was something now that numbed the ache in Jimmie Dale's brain--a
sense of some deadly, remorseless thing that seemed to be constantly
creeping closer to him, clutching at him--to smother him, to choke him.
There was something absolutely fiendish, terrifying, in the veneer of
culture around him.

They had entered the second room. This, like the other, was a
pseudo-bedroom; but here the movable wall was already down. Ranged along
the right-hand side were a great number of cabinets that slid in and
out, much after the style and fashion used by clothing dealers to stock
and display their wares. These cabinets were now all open, displaying
hundreds of costumes of all kinds and descriptions, and evidently
complete to the minutest detail. The cabinets were flanked by
full-length mirrors at each end of the room, and on little tables before
the mirrors was an assortment, that none better than Jimmie Dale himself
could appreciate, of make-up accessories.

The man smiled apologetically.

"I am afraid this is rather uninteresting," he said. "I have shown it to
you simply that you may understand that we are alive to the importance
of detail. Disguise, that is daily vital to us, is an art that depends
essentially on detail. I venture to say we could impersonate any
character or type or nationality or class in the United States at a
moment's notice. But"--he took Jimmie Dale's arm again and conducted him
out into the corridor, while the two men who were evidently acting
the role of guards followed closely behind--"there is still the third
room--here." He halted Jimmie Dale before the door. "I have asked you
to answer two questions, Mr. Dale," he said softly. "I ask you now to
remember the alternative."

They still stood before the door. There was that uncanny silence
again--it seemed to Jimmie Dale to last interminably. Neither of the
three men surrounding him moved nor spoke. Then the door before him was
opened on an unlighted room, and he was led across the threshold. He
heard the door close behind him. The lights came on. And then it seemed
as though he could not move, as though he were rooted to the spot---and
the colour ebbed from his face. Three figures were before him: the two
men who had carried the glasses from the first room, and the chauffeur
who had driven him in the taxicab. The two men still held the
glasses--the chauffeur was bound hand and foot in a chair. One of the
glasses was EMPTY; the other was still significantly full.

Jimmie Dale, with a violent effort at self-control, leaned forward.

The man in the chair was dead.



There was not a sound. That stillness, weird, unnerving, that permeated,
as it were, everywhere through that mysterious house, was, if that were
possible, accentuated now. The four masked men in evening dress, five
including their leader, for the man who had appeared in that other room
with the rabbit was not here, were as silent, as motionless, as the dead
man who was lashed there in the chair. And to Jimmie Dale it seemed at
first as though his brain, stunned and stupefied at the shock, refused
its functions, and left him groping blindly, vaguely, with only a
sort of dull, subconscious realisation of menace and a deadly peril,
imminent, hanging over him.

He tried to rouse himself mentally, to prod his brain to action, to
pit it in a fight for life against these self-confessed criminals and
murderers with their mask of culture, who surrounded him now. Was there
a way out? What was it the Tocsin had said--"the most powerful and
pitiless organisation of criminals the world has ever known--the stake a
fortune of millions--her life!" There had, indeed, been no overemphasis
in the words she had used! They had taken pains themselves to make that
ominously clear, these men! Every detail of the strange house, with its
luxurious furnishings, its cleverly contrived appointments, breathed
a horribly suggestive degree of power, a deadly purpose, and an
organisation swayed by a master mind; and, grim evidence of the
merciless, inexorable length to which they would go, was the ghastly
white face of the dead chauffeur, bound hand and foot, in the chair
before him!

That EMPTY glass in the hand of one of the men! He could not take his
eyes from it--except as his eyes were drawn magnetically to that FULL
glass in the hand of one of the others. What height of sardonic irony!
He was to drink that other glass, to die because he refused to answer
questions that for years, with every resource at his command, risking
his liberty, his wealth, his name, his life, with everything that he
cared for thrown into the scales, he had struggled to solve--and failed!

And then the leader spoke.

"Mr. Dale," he said, with cold significance, "I regret to admit that
your pseudo taxicab driver was so ill-advised as to refuse to answer the
SAME questions that I have put to you."

Five to one! That was the only way out--and it was hopeless. It was the
only way out, because, convinced that he could answer those questions if
he wanted to, these men were in deadly earnest; it was hopeless, because
they were--five to one! And probably there were as many more, twice or
three times as many more within call. But what did it matter how many
more there were! He could fight until he was overpowered, that was all
he could do, and the five could accomplish that. Still, if he could
knock the full glass out of that man's hand, and gain the door, then
perhaps--he turned quickly, as the door opened. It was as though they
had read his thoughts. A number of men were grouped outside in the
corridor, then the door closed again with a cordon ranged against it
inside the room; and at the same instant his arms and wrists were caught
in a powerful grasp by the two men immediately behind him, who all along
had enacted the role of guards.

Again the leader spoke.

"I will repeat the questions," he said sharply. "Where is the woman
whose ring was found on that man there in the chair? And where is the
package that you two men had with you in the taxicab to-night?"

Jimmie Dale glanced from the tall, straight, immaculately clothed figure
of the speaker, from the threatening smile on the set lips that just
showed under the edge of the mask, to the dead man in the chair. He had
faced the prospect of death before many times, but it had come with the
heat of passion accompanying it, it had come quickly, abruptly, with
every faculty called into action to combat it, without time to dwell
upon it, to sift, weigh, or measure its meaning, and if there had been
fear it had been subordinate to other emotions. But it was different
now. He could not, of course, answer those questions; nor, he was
doggedly conscious, would he have answered them if he could--and there
was no middle course.

Death, within the next few moments, stared him in the face; and it
seemed curiously irrelevant that, in a sort of unnatural calmness, he
should be attempting to analyse his feelings and emotions concerning it.
All his life it had seemed to him that the acme of human mental
torture was the cell of a condemned criminal, with the horror of its
hopelessness, with the time to dwell upon it; and that the acme of
that torture itself must be that awful moment immediately preceding
execution, when anticipation at last was to merge into soul-sickening

Strange that thought should come! Strange that he should be framing a
brain picture of such a scene, vivid, minute in detail! No--not strange.
He was picturing himself. The analogy was not perfect, it was true, he
had not had the months, weeks, days and hours of suspense; but it was
perfect enough to bring home to him with appalling force the realisation
of his position. He was standing as a condemned man might stand in those
last, final moments, those moments which he had imagined must be the
most terrible that could exist in life; but that dismay of soul, the
horror, the terror were not his--there was, instead, a smouldering fury,
a passionate amazement that it was his own life that was threatened. It
seemed impossible that it could be his voice that was speaking now in
such quiet, measured tones.

"Is it worth while, will it convince you now, any more than before, to
repeat that there is some mistake here? I am no more able to answer your
questions than you are yourselves. I never saw that man in the chair
there in my life until the moment that I hailed him in his cab to-night.
I do not know who the woman is to whom that ring belongs, much less do
I know where she is. And if there was a package of any sort in the
taxicab, as you state, I never saw it."

The lips under the mask curved into a lupine smile.

"Think well, Mr. Dale!" The man's voice was low, menacing. "Ethically,
if you so choose to consider it, your refusal may be the act of a brave
man; practically, it is the act of--a fool. Now--your answer!"

"I have answered you," said Jimmie Dale--and, relaxing the muscles in
his arms, let them hang limply for an instant in the grip of the two men
behind him. "I have no other answer."

It was only a sign, a motion of the leader's hand--but with it, quick
as a lightning flash, Jimmie Dale was in action. The limp arms tautened
into steel as he wrenched them loose, and, whirling around, he whipped
his fist to the chin of one of the two guards.

In an instant, with the blow, as the man staggered backward, the room
was in pandemonium. There was a rush from the door, and two, three, four
leaping forms hurled themselves upon Jimmie Dale. He shook them off--and
they came again. There was no chance ultimately, he knew that; it was
only the elemental within him that rose in fierce revolt at the thought
of tame submission, that bade him sell his life as dearly as he could.
Panting, gasping for breath, dragging them by sheer strength as they
clung to him, he got his back to the wall, fighting with the savage fury
and abandon of a wild cat.

But it could not last. Where one man went down before him, two
remorselessly appeared--the room seemed filled with men--they poured in
through the door--he laughed at them in a half-demented way--more
and more of them came--there was no play for his arms, no room to
fight--they seemed so close around him, so many of them upon him, that
he could not breathe--and he was bending, being crushed down as by an
intolerable weight. And then his feet were jerked from beneath him, he
crashed to the floor, and, in another moment, bound hand and foot, he
was tied into a chair beside that other chair whose grim occupant sat in
such ghastly apathy of the scene.

The room cleared instantly of all but the original five. His head was
drawn suddenly, violently backward, and clamped in that position; and
a metal instrument, forced into his mouth, while his lips bled in their
resistance, pried jaws apart and held them open.

"One drop!" the leader ordered curtly.

The man with the full glass bent over him, and dipped a glass rod into
the liquid. The drop glistened a ruby red on the end of the rod--and
fell with a sharp, acrid, burning sensation upon Jimmie Dale's tongue.

For a moment Jimmie Dale's animation, mental and physical, seemed swept
away from him in, as it were, a hiatus of hideous suspense. What was it
to be like this passing? Why did it not act at once, as it had acted on
the rabbit they had showed him in the other room? Yes, he remembered!
It took more than one drop for a man; and besides, this was diluted.
One drop had no effect on a man; it required--Good God, ONE DROP EVEN
OF THIS WAS ENOUGH? He strained forward in the chair until the sweat in
great beads sprang from his forehead, strained and fought and tore at
his bonds in a paroxysm of madness to free himself while there still
remained a little strength. There was something filming before his eyes,
a numbed feeling was creeping through his limbs, robbing them, sapping
them of their vitality and power. He felt himself slipping away into a
state of utter weakness, and his brain began to grow confused.

A voice seemed to float in the air near him: "For the last time--will
you answer?"

With a supreme effort, Jimmie Dale strove to rally his tottering senses.
Did they not understand the stupendous mockery of their questions? Did
they not understand that he did not know? He had told them so--perhaps
he had better tell them so again.

"I--" He tried to speak, and found the words thick upon his tongue.
"I--do not--know."

The glass itself was thrust abruptly between his lips. Some of the
contents spilled and trickled upon his chin, and then a flood of it,
burning, fiery, poured down his throat. A flood of it--and it needed but
THREE drops and there had been TEN in the glass!

So this was death--a hazy, nebulous thing! There was no pain. It was
like--like--nothingness. And out of the nothingness SHE came. Strange
that she should come! Alone she had fought these fiends and outwitted
them for--how long was it? Three years! She would be more than ever
alone now. Pray God she did not finally fall into their clutches!

How it burned now, that fatal draught they had forced down his throat,
and how it gripped at him and seemed to eat and bore its way into the
very tissues! It was the end, and--no! It was STIMULATING him! Strength
seemed to be returning to his limbs; it seemed as though he were being
carried, as though the bonds about him were being loosened; and now his
brain seemed to be growing clearer.

He roused up with a startled exclamation. He was back in the same room
in which he had first returned to consciousness after the accident. He
was on the same couch. The same masked figure was at the same desk. Had
he been dreaming? Was this then only some horrible, ghastly nightmare
through which he had passed?

No, it had been real enough; his clothes, rent and torn, and the blood
upon his hands, where the skin had been scraped from his knuckles in the
fight, bore evidence to that. He must then have lost consciousness for
a while, though it seemed to him that at no moment, hazy, irrational
though his brain might have been, had he become entirely oblivious to
what was taking place around him. And yet it must have been so!

The eyes from behind the mask were fixed steadily upon him, and below
the mask there was the hard, unpleasant set to the lips that Jimmie Dale
had grown accustomed to expect.

The man spoke abruptly.

"That you find yourself alive, Mr. Dale," he said grimly, "is no
confession of weakness upon the part of those with whom you have had to
deal here. To bear witness to that there is one who is not alive, as you
have seen. That man we knew. With you it was somewhat different. Your
presence in the taxicab was only suspicious. There was always the
possibility that you might be one of those ubiquitous 'innocent
bystanders.' Your name, your position, the improbability that you could
have anything in common with--shall we say, the matter that so deeply
interests us?--was all in your favour. However, presumption and
probability are the tools of fools. We do not depend upon them--we apply
the test. And having applied the test, we are convinced that you have
told the truth--that is all."

He rose from his chair brusquely. "I shall not apologise to you for what
has happened. I doubt very much if you are in a frame of mind to accept
anything of the sort. I imagine, rather, that you are promising yourself
that we shall pay, and pay dearly, for this--that, among other things,
we shall answer for the murder of that man in the other room. All this
will be quite within your province, Mr. Dale--and quite fruitless.
To-morrow morning the story that you are preparing to tell now would
sound incredible even in your own ears; furthermore, as we shall take
pains to see that you leave this place with as little knowledge of its
location as you obtained when you arrived, your story, even if believed,
would do little service to you and less harm to us. I think of nothing
more, Mr. Dale, except--" There was a whimsical smile on the lips now.
"Ah, yes, the matter of your clothes. We can, and shall be glad to make
reparation to you to the slight extent of offering you a new suit before
you go."

Jimmie Dale scowled. Sick, shaken, and weak as he was, the cool,
imperturbable impudence of the man was fast growing unbearable.

The man laughed. "I am sure you will not refuse, Mr. Dale--since we
insist. The condition of the clothes you have on at present might--I say
'might'--in a measure support your story with some degree of tangible
evidence. It is not at all likely, of course; but we prefer to discount
even so remote a possibility. When you have changed, you will be motored
back to your home. I bid you good-night, Mr. Dale."

Jimmie Dale rubbed his eyes. The man was gone--through a door at the
rear of the desk, a door that he had not noticed before, that was not
even in evidence now, that was simply a movable section of the wall
panelling--and for an instant Jimmie Dale experienced a sense of
sickening impotence. It was as though he stood defenceless, unarmed,
and utterly at the mercy of some venomous power that could crush what it
would remorselessly and at will in its might.

The place was a veritable maze, a lair of hellish cleverness. He had
no illusions now, he laboured under no false estimate of either the
ingenuity or the resources of this inhuman nest of vultures to whom
murder was no more than a matter of detail. And it was against these men
that henceforth he was to match his wits! There could be no truce, no
armistice. It was their lives, or hers, or his! Well, he was alive now,
the first round was over, and so far he had won. His brows furrowed
suddenly. Had he? He was not so sure, after all. He was conscious of a
disquieting, premonitory intuition that, in some way which he could not
explain, the honours were not entirely his.

He was apparently--the "apparently" was a mental reservation--quite
alone in the room. He got up from the couch and walked shakily across
the floor to the desk. A revolver lay invitingly upon the blotting pad.
It was his own, the one they had taken from him after the accident.
Jimmie Dale picked it up, examined it--and smiled a little sarcastically
at himself for his trouble. It was unloaded, of course. He was twirling
it in his hand, as a man, masked as every one in the house was masked,
and carrying a neatly folded suit over his arm, entered from the

"The car is ready as soon as you are dressed," announced the other
briefly. He laid the clothes upon the couch--and settled himself
significantly in a chair.

Jimmie Dale hesitated. Then, with a shrug of his shoulders, recrossed
the room, and began to remove his torn garments. What was the use! They
would certainly have their own way in the end. It wasn't worth another
fight, and there was nothing to be gained by a refusal except to offer a
sop to his own exasperation.

He dressed quickly, in what proved to be an exceedingly well-fitting
suit; and finally turned tentatively to the man in the chair.

The other stood up, and produced a heavy black silk scarf.

"If you have no objections," he said curtly, "I'll tie this over your

Again Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders.

"I am glad enough to get out on any conditions," he answered

"'Fortunate' would be the better word," rejoined the other
meaningly--and, deftly knotting the scarf, led Jimmie Dale blindfolded
from the room.



Was he in the city? In a suburban town? On a country road? It seemed
childishly absurd that he could not at least differentiate to that
extent; and yet, from the moment he had been placed in the automobile
in which he now found himself, he was forced to admit that he could not
tell. He had started out with the belief that, knowing New York and its
surroundings as minutely as he knew them, it would be impossible, do
what they would to prevent it, that at the end of the journey he should
be without a clew, and a very good clew at that, to the location of what
he now called, appropriately enough it seemed, the Crime Club.

But he had never ridden blindfolded in a car before! He could see
absolutely nothing. And if that increased or accentuated his sense of
hearing, it helped little--the roar of the racing car beat upon his
eardrums the more heavily, that was all. He could tell, of course, the
nature of the roadbed. They were running on an asphalt road, that was
obvious enough; but city streets and suburban streets and hundreds of
miles of country road around New York were of asphalt!

Traffic? He was quite sure, for he had strained his ears in an effort to
detect it, that there was little or no traffic; but then, it must be
one or two o'clock in the morning, and at that hour the city streets,
certainly those that would be chosen by these men, would be quite as
deserted as any country road! And as for a sense of direction, he had
none whatever--even if the car had not been persistently swerving and
changing its course every little while. If he had been able to form even
an approximate idea of the compass direction in which they had started,
he might possibly have been able in a general way to counteract this
further effort of theirs to confuse him; but without the initial
direction he was essentially befogged.

With these conclusions finally thrust home upon him, Jimmie Dale
philosophically subordinated the matter in his mind, and, leaning back,
composed himself as comfortably as he could upon his seat. There was a
man beside him, and he could feel the legs of two men on the seat facing
him. These, with the driver, would make four. He was still well guarded!
The car itself was a closed car--not hooded, the sense of touch told
him--therefore a limousine of some description. These facts, in a sense
inconsequential, were absorbed subconsciously; and then Jimmie Dale's
brain, remorselessly active, in spite of the pain from his throbbing
head, was at work again.

It seemed as though a year had passed since, in the early evening, as
Larry the Bat, he had burrowed so ironically for refuge in Chang Foo's
den--from her! It seemed like some mocking unreality, some visionary
dream that, so short a while before, he had read those words of hers
that had sent the blood coursing and leaping through his veins in mad
exultation at the thought that the culmination of the years had come,
that all he longed for, hoped for, that all his soul cried out for was
to be his--"in an hour." An HOUR--and he was to have seen her, the woman
whose face he had never seen, the woman whom he loved! And the hour
instead, the hours since then, had brought a nightmare of events so
incredible as to seem but phantoms of the imagination.

Phantoms! He sat up suddenly with a jerk. The face of the dead
chauffeur, the limp form lashed in that chair, the horrible picture in
its entirety, every detail standing out in ghastly relief, took form
before him. God knew there was no phantom there!

The man beside him, at the sudden start, lifted a hand and felt
hurriedly over the bandage across Jimmie Dale's eyes.

Jimmie Dale was scarcely conscious of the act. With that face before
him, with the scene re-enacting itself in his mind again, had come
another thought, staggering him for a moment with the new menace that it
brought. He had had neither time nor opportunity to think before; it had
been all horror, all shock when he had entered that room. But now, like
an inspiration, he saw it all from another angle. There was a glaring
fallacy in the game these men had played for his benefit to-night--a
fallacy which they had counted on glossing over, as it had, indeed, been
glossed over, by the sudden shock with which they had forced that scene
upon him; or, failing in that, they had counted on the fact that his,
or any other man's nerve would have failed when it came to open defiance
based on a supposition which might, after all, be wrong, and, being
wrong, meant death.

But it was not supposition. Either he was right now, or these men were
childish, immature fools--and, whatever else they might be, they were
The man had not been murdered in that room. He had not, in a sense, been
murdered at all. The man, absolutely, unquestionably, without a loophole
for doubt, had either been killed outright in the automobile accident,
or had died immediately afterward, probably without regaining
consciousness, certainly without supplying any of the information that
was so determinedly sought.

Yes, he saw it now! Their backs were against the wall, they were at
their wits' end, these men! The knowledge that the chauffeur possessed,
that they KNEW he possessed, was evidently life and death to them. To
kill the man before they had wormed out of him what they wanted to know,
or, at least, until, by holding him a prisoner, they had exhausted every
means at their command to make him speak, was the last thing they would

Jimmie Dale sat for a long time quite motionless. The car was speeding
at a terrific rate along a straight stretch of road. He could almost
have sworn, guided by some intuitive sense, that they were in the
country. Well, even if it were so, what did that prove! They might
have started FROM New York itself--only to return to it when they had
satisfied themselves that he was sufficiently duped. Or they might have
started legitimately from outside New York, and be going toward the city
now. Since the ultimate destination was New York, and they had made no
attempt to hide that from him, it was useless to speculate--for at best
it could be only speculation. He had decided that once before! The man
at his side felt again over the scarf to see that it was in place.

Curiously now Jimmie Dale recalled the inward monitor that had warned
him the honours had not all been his in this first round with the Crime
Club to-night. If they had deliberately murdered the chauffeur because
of a refusal to answer, they would equally have done the same to him.
Fool that he had been not to have seen that before! And yet would it
have made any difference? He shook his head. He could not have acted to
any better advantage than he had done. He could not--his lips curled in
grim derision--have been any more convincing.

Convincing! It was all clear enough now! If the chauffeur had suffered
death rather than talk, even admitting the fact that they had more
grounds for suspecting the chauffeur's complicity, would his, Jimmie
Dale's, mere denial, his choice, too, of death, have been any the more
convincing, or have saved his life where it had not saved the other's?
A certain added respect for these men, against whom, until the end now,
his victory or theirs, he realised he was fighting for his life, came
over him as he recognised the touch of a master hand. They did not know
where to find the Tocsin; the package that she had said was vital to
them was still beyond their reach; the chauffeur was dead; and he,
Jimmie Dale, alone remained--a clew that they had still to prove valid
or invalid it was true, but the only clew in their possession. And,
gaining nothing from him by a show of force, to throw him off his guard,
they had let him go--meaning him to believe they were convinced he knew
nothing, and that the episode, the adventure of the night, was, as far
as they were concerned, ended, finished, and done with!

Time passed, a very long time, as he sat there. It might have been an
hour--he could only hazard a guess. Not one of the men in the car
had spoken a word. But to Jimmie Dale, the car itself, the ride, its
duration, these three strange companions, were for the time being
extraneous. Even that sick giddiness in his head had, at least
temporarily, gone from him.

And so, all unsuspectingly, he was to lead them to the Tocsin and fall
into the trap himself! His hands, thrust deep in his pockets, were
tightly clenched. They were clever enough, ingenious enough, powerful
enough to watch him henceforth at every turn--and from now on, day and
night, they were to be reckoned with. Suppose that in some way, as it
might well have happened, for it was now vitally necessary that she
should communicate with him and he with her, he had played blindly into
their hands, and through him she should have fallen into their power! It
brought a sickening chill, a sort of hideous panic to Jimmie Dale--and
then fury, anger, in a torrent, surged upon him, and there came a
merciless desire to crush, to strangle, to stamp out this inhuman band
of criminals that, with intolerable effrontery to the laws of God and
man, were so elaborately and scientifically equipped for their monstrous

And then Jimmie Dale, in the darkness, smiled again grimly as the
leader's reference to the Gray Seal recurred to him. Well, perhaps, who
knew, they would have reason more than they dreamed of to wish the
Gray Seal enrolled in their own ranks! It was strange, curious! He had
thought all that was ended. Only a few short hours before he had hidden
away all, everything that was incident to the life of the Gray Seal, the
clothes of Larry the Bat, that little metal case with the gray-coloured,
adhesive seals, a dozen other things, believing that it only remained
for him to return and destroy them at his leisure as a finishing touch
to the Gray Seal's career--and now, instead, he was face to face with
the gravest and most dangerous problem that she had ever called upon him
to undertake!

Well, at least, the odds were not all in the Crime Club's favour. Where
they now certainly believed him to be entirely off his guard, he was
thoroughly on his guard; and where they might suspect him, watch him,
they would suspect and watch only the character, the person of Jimmie
Dale, and count not at all upon either Larry the Bat or--the Gray Seal.

A sort of savage elation fell upon Jimmie Dale. His brain, that had been
stagnant, confused, physically sick with pain and suffering, was working
now with its old-time vigour and ease, mapping, planning, scheming the
way ahead. To strike, and strike quickly--to strike FIRST! It must be
his move next--not theirs! And he must act to-night at once, the moment
he was given this pretence to liberty that they had in store for him,
before they had an opportunity of closing down around him with a network
of spies that he could not elude. By morning, Jimmie Dale would be Larry
the Bat, and inhabiting the Sanctuary again. And a tip to Jason, his
old butler, to the effect, say, that he had gone away for a trip,
would account for his disappearance satisfactorily enough; it would not
necessarily arouse their suspicions when they eventually discovered he
was gone, for against that was always the possible, and quite likely
presumption that, where they had succeeded in nothing else, they had
at least succeeded in frightening him thoroughly and to the extent of
imbuing him with a hasty desire to put a safe distance between himself
and them.

And now, with his mind made up to his course of action, an intense
impatience to put his plan into effect, an irritation at the useless
twistings and turnings of the car that had latterly become more
frequent, took hold upon him. How much longer was this to last! They
must have been fully an hour and a half on the road already, and--ah,
the car was stopping now!

He straightened up in his seat as the machine came to a halt--but the
man at his side laid a restraining hand upon him. The car door opened,
and one of the men got out. Jimmie Dale caught an indistinct murmur of
voices from without, then the man returned to his seat, and the car went
on again.

Another half hour passed, that, curbing his irritation and impatience,
was filled with the conjectures and questions that anew came crowding in
upon his mind. Why had the car made that stop? It was rather curious. It
was certainly a prearranged meeting place. Why? And these clothes that
he now wore--why had they made him change? His own had not been very
badly torn. The reason given him was, on the face of it now, in view
of what he now knew, mere pretence. What was the ulterior motive behind
that pretence? What did this package, that had already cost a man his
life to-night, contain? Who was the chauffeur? What was this death feud
between the Tocsin and these men? Did she know where the Crime Club was?
Who and where was John Johansson? What was this box that was numbered
428? Could she supply the links that would forge the chain into an
unbroken whole?

And then for the second time the car slowed down--and this time the man
on the seat beside Jimmie Dale reached up and untied the scarf.

"You get out here," said the man tersely.



Had it not been for the stop the car had previously made, for the
possibility that he might have obtained a glimpse outside when the door
had been opened, the scarf over his eyes would have been superfluous;
for now, with it removed, he could scarcely distinguish the forms of the
three men around him, since the window curtains of the car were tightly
drawn. Nor was he given the opportunity to do more, even had it been
possible. The car stopped, the door was opened, he was pushed toward
it--and even as he reached the ground, the door was closed behind him,
and the car was speeding on again. But where he could not see before,
it took now but a glance to obtain his bearings--he was standing on a
corner on Riverside Drive, within a few doors of his own house.

Jimmie Dale stood still for a moment, watching the car as it disappeared
rapidly up the Drive. And with a sort of grim facetiousness his brain
began to correlate time and distance. Where had he come from? Where
was this Crime Club? They had been, as nearly as he could estimate, two
hours in making the journey; and, as nearly as he could estimate, in
their turnings and twistings had covered at least twice the distance
that would be represented by a direct route. Granting, then, an average
speed of forty miles an hour, which was overgenerous to be on the safe
side, and the fact that they certainly had not crossed the Hudson, which
now lay before him, flanking the Drive, the Crime Club was somewhere
within the area of a semicircle, whose centre was the corner on which he
now stood, and whose radius was forty miles--OR FORTY YARDS! He forced
a laugh. It was just that, no more, no less--he was as likely to have
started on his ride from within a biscuit throw of where he now stood,
as to have started on it from miles away!

But--he aroused himself with a start--he was wasting time! It must be
very late, near morning, and he would have need for every moment that
was left between now and daylight. He turned, walked quickly to his
house, mounted the steps, and with his latch-key--they had at least
permitted him to retain the contents of his pockets when they had forced
him to change his clothes--opened the front door softly, and, stepping
inside, closed the door as silently as he had opened it.

He paused for an instant to listen. There was not a sound. The servants,
naturally, would have been in bed hours ago. Even old Jason--Jimmie Dale
smiled, half whimsically, half affectionately--whose paternal custom it
was to sit up for his Master Jim, who, as he was fond of saying, he had
dandled as a baby on his knee, had evidently given it up as a bad job
on this occasion and had turned in himself. Jason, however, had left the
light burning here in the big reception hall.

Jimmie Dale stepped to the switch and turned off the light; then stood
hesitant in the darkness. Was there anything to be gained by rousing
Jason now and telling him what he intended to do--to instruct him to
answer any inquiries by the statement that "Mr. Dale had gone away for
a trip"? He could trust Jason; Jason already knew much--more than one
of those mysterious letters of the Tocsin's had passed through Jason's

Jimmie Dale shook his head. No; he could communicate with Jason from
downtown in the morning. He had half expected to find Jason up, and,
in that case, would have taken the other, as far as necessary, into
his confidence; but it was not a matter that pressed for the moment. He
could get into touch with Jason at any time readily enough. Was there
anything else before he went? He would not be able to get back as easily
as he got out! Money! He shook his head again--a little grimly this
time. He had been caught once before as Larry the Bat without funds!
There was plenty of money now hidden in the Sanctuary, enough for any
emergency, enough to last him indefinitely.

He stepped forward along the hall, his tread noiseless on the rich,
heavy rug, passed into the rear of the house, descended the back stairs,
and reached the cellar. It was below the level of the ground, of course;
but a narrow window here, though quite large enough to permit of egress,
gave on the driveway at the side of the house that led to the garage in
the rear.

Cautiously now, for the cement flooring was, in the stillness, little
less than a sounding board, Jimmie Dale reached the wall and felt along
it to the window, the lower edge of whose sill was just slightly below
the level of his shoulder. It opened inward, if he remembered correctly.
His fingers were feeling for the fastenings. It was too dark to see
a thing. He muttered in annoyance. Where were the fastenings! At
the sides, or at the bottom? His hand began to make a circuit of the
sill--and then suddenly, with a low, sharp cry, he leaned forward!

WHAT DID THIS MEAN? Wires! No wires had ever been there before! His
fingers were working now with feverish haste, telegraphing their message
to his brain. The wires ran through the sill close to the corner of
the wall--tiny fragments of wood, as from an auger, were still on the
sill--and here was a small particle of wire insulation that, those
sensitive finger tips proclaimed, was FRESH.

A cold thrill ran through Jimmie Dale; and there came again that
sickening sense of impotency in the face of the malignant, devilish
cunning arrayed against him, that once before he had experienced, that
night. He had thought to forestall them--and he had been forestalled
himself! This could only have been done--they had had no interest in
him before then--while they held him at the Crime Club, while he was
spending that two hours in the car! Was that why they had taken so long
in coming? Was that why the car had stopped that time--that those with
him might be told that the work here had been completed, and he need no
longer be kept away?

He edged away from the window, and, as cautiously as he had come,
retraced his steps across the cellar and up the stairs--and then, the
possibility of being heard from without gone, he broke into a run. There
was no need to wonder long what those wires meant. They could mean only
one of two things--and the Crime Club would have little concern in his
electric light! THEY HAD TAPPED HIS TELEPHONE. The mains, he knew,
ran into the cellar from the underground service in the street. He was
racing like a madman now. How long ago, how many hours ago, had they
done that! Great Scott, SHE was to have telephoned! Had she done so? Was
the game, all, everything, she herself, at their mercy already? If she
had telephoned, Jason would have left a message on his desk--he would
look there first--afterward he would waken Jason.

He gained the door of his den on the first landing, a room that ran the
entire length of one side of the house from front to rear, burst in,
switched on the light---and stood stock-still in amazement.

"Jason!" he cried out.

The old butler, fully dressed, rubbing and blinking his eyes at the
light, and with a startled cry, rose up from the depths of a lounging

"Jason!" exclaimed Jimmie Dale again.

"I beg pardon, sir, Master Jim," stammered the man. "I--I must have
fallen asleep, sir."

"Jason, what are you doing here?" Jimmie Dale demanded sharply.

"Well, sir," said Jason, still fumbling for his words, "it--it was the
telephone, sir."


"Yes, sir. A woman, begging your pardon, Master Jim, a lady, sir, has
been telephoning every hour or so, and she--"

"YES!" Jimmie Dale had jumped across the room and had caught the other
fiercely by the shoulder. "Yes--yes! What did she say? QUICK, man!"

"Good Lord, Master Jim!" faltered Jason. "I--she--"

"Jason," said Jimmie Dale, suddenly as cold as ice, "what did she say?
Think, man! Every word!"

"She didn't say anything, Master Jim. Nothing at all, sir--except to
keep asking each time if she could speak to you."

"Nothing else, Jason?"

"No, sir."

"You are SURE?"

"I'm sure, Master Jim. Not another thing but that, sir, just as I've
told you."

"Thank God!" said Jimmie Dale, in a low voice.

"Yes, sir," said Jason mechanically.

"How long ago was it since she telephoned last?" asked Jimmie Dale

"Well, sir, I couldn't rightly say. You see, as I said, Master Jim, I
must have gone to sleep, but--"

They were staring tensely into each other's face. The telephone on the
desk was ringing vibrantly, clamourously, through the stillness of the

Jason, white, frightened, bewildered, touched his lips with the tip of
his tongue.

"That'll be her again, sir," he said hoarsely.

"Wait!" said Jimmie Dale tersely.

He was trying to think, to think faster than he had ever thought before.
He could not tell Jason to say that he had not yet come in--THEY knew he
was in, it would be but showing his hand to that "some one" who would
be listening now on the wire. He dared not speak to her, or, above all,
allow her to expose herself by a single inadvertent word. He dared not
speak to her--and she was here now, calling him! He could not speak
to her--and it was life and death almost that she should know what had
happened; life and death almost for both of them that he should know all
and everything she could tell him. True, it would take but a minute
to run to the cellar and cut those wires, while Jason held her on the
pretence of calling him, Jimmie Dale, to the 'phone; only a minute to
cut those wires--and in so doing advertise to these fiends the fact that
he had discovered their trick; admit, as though in so many words, that
their suspicions of him were justified; lay himself open to some new
move that he could not hope to foresee; and, paramount to all else, rob
her and himself of this master trump the Crime Club had placed in his
hands, by means of which there was a chance that he could hoist them
with their own petard!

The telephone rang again--imperatively, persistently.

"Listen, Jason." Jimmie Dale was speaking rapidly, earnestly. "Say that
I've come in and have gone to bed--in a vile humour. That you told me a
lady had been calling, but that I said if she called again I wasn't
to be disturbed if it was the Queen of Sheba herself--that I wouldn't
answer any 'phone to-night for anybody. Do you understand? No argument
with her--just that. Now, answer!"

Jason lifted the receiver from the hook.

"Yes--hello!" he said. "Yes, ma'am, Mr. Dale has come in, but he has
retired. . . . Yes, I told him; but, begging your pardon, ma'am, he
was in what I might say was a bit of a temper, and said he wasn't to be
disturbed by any one."

Jimmie Dale snatched the receiver from Jason, and put it to his own ear.

"Kindly tell Mr. Dale that unless he comes to the 'phone now," a
feminine voice, her voice, in well-simulated indignation, was saying,
"it will be a very long day before I shall trouble myself to--"

Jimmie Dale clapped his hand firmly over the mouthpiece of the
instrument. Thank God for that clever brain of hers! She understood!

"Repeat what you said before, Jason," he instructed hurriedly. "Then say

He removed his hand from the mouthpiece.

"It's quite useless, ma'am," said Jason apologetically. "In the rare
temper he was in, he wouldn't come, to use his own words, ma'am, not for
the Queen of Sheba herself, ma'am. Good-night, ma'am."

Jimmie Dale hung the receiver back on the hook--and with his hand
flirted away a bead of moisture that had sprung to his forehead.

"Good Lord, Master Jim, what's wrong, sir? What's happened, sir?
And--and those clothes, Master Jim, sir! They aren't the ones you went
out in, sir--they aren't yours at all, sir!" Jason ventured anxiously.

"Jason," said Jimmie Dale, "switch off the light, and go to the front
window and look out. Keep well behind the curtains. Don't show yourself.
Tell me if you see anything."

"Yes, sir," said Jason obediently.

The light went out. Jimmie Dale moved to the rear of the room--to the
window overlooking the garage and yard.

"I don't see anything, sir," Jason called.

"Watch!" Jimmie Dale answered.

A minute passed--two--three. Jimmie Dale was staring down into the black
of the yard. She understood! She knew, of course, before she 'phoned
that something had gone wrong to-night. She knew that only peril of the
gravest moment would have kept him from the 'phone--and her. She knew
now, as a logical conclusion, that it was dangerous to attempt to
communicate with him at his home. Those wires! Where did they lead to?
Not far away--that would be almost a mechanical impossibility. Was it
into the Crime Club itself--near at hand? Or the basement, say, of that
apartment house across the driveway? Or--where?

And then Jimmie Dale spoke again:

"Do you see anything, Jason?"

"I'm not sure, sir," Jason answered hesitantly. "I thought I saw a man
move behind a tree out there across the road a minute ago, sir. Yes,
sir--there he is again!"

There was a thin, mirthless smile on Jimmie Dale's lips.

Below, in the shadow of the garage, a dark form, like a deeper shadow,
stirred--and was still again.

"What time is it, Jason?" Jimmie Dale asked presently.

"It'll be about half-past four, sir."

"Go to bed, Jason."

"Yes, sir; but"--Jason's voice, low, troubled, came through the darkness
from the upper end of the room--"Master Jim, sir, I--"

"Go to bed, Jason--and not a word of this."

"Yes, sir. Good-night, Master Jim."

"Good-night, Jason."

Jimmie Dale groped his way to the big lounging chair in which he had
found Jason asleep, and flung himself into it. They had struck quickly,
these ingenious, dress-suited murderers of the Crime Club! The house
was already watched, would be watched now untiringly, unceasingly; not a
movement of his henceforth but would be under their eyes!

His hands, resting on the arms of the chair, closed slowly until they
became tight-clenched, knotted fists. What was he to do? It was not only
the Crime Club, it was not only the Tocsin and her peril--there was the
underworld snapping and snarling at his heels, there was the police,
dogged and sullen, ever on the trail of the Gray Seal! His life, even
before this, in his fight against the underworld and the police, had
depended upon his freedom of action--and now, at one and the same time,
that freedom was cut away from beneath his feet, as it were, and a third
foe, equally as deadly as the others, was added to the list!

For months, to preserve and sustain the character of Larry the Bat, he
had been forced to assume the role almost daily; for, in that sordid
empire below the dead line, whose one common bond and aim was the
Gray Seal's death, where suspicion, one of the other, was rampant and
extravagant, where each might be the one against whom all swore their
vengeance, Larry the Bat could not mysteriously disappear from his
accustomed haunts without inviting suspicion in an active and practical
form--an inquisitorial visit to his squalid lodgings, the Sanctuary--and
the end of Larry the Bat!

If, as he had thought only a few hours before, he was through forever
with his dual life, that would not have mattered, the underworld would
have been welcome to make what it chose of it--but now the preservation
of the character of Larry the Bat was more vital and necessary to him
than it had ever been before. It was a means of defense and offense
against these men who lurked now outside his doors. It was the sole
means now of communication with her; for, warned both by Jason's
words, and what must be an obvious fact to her, that their plans had
miscarried, that it was dangerous to communicate with him as Jimmie
Dale, she would expect him, count on him to make that move. There
would be no longer either reason or attempt on her part to maintain the
mystery with which she had heretofore surrounded herself, the crisis
had come, she would be watching, waiting, hoping, seeking for him
more anxiously and with far more at stake than he had ever sought for
her--until now!

He got up impulsively from his chair, and, in the blackness, began to
pace the room. The next move was clear, pitifully clear; it had been
clear from the first, it had been clear even in that ride in the car--it
was so clear that it seemed veritably to mock him as he prodded his
brains for some means of putting it into execution. He must get to the
Sanctuary, become Larry the Bat--but how? HOW! The question seemed at
last to become resonant, to ring through the room with the weight of
doom upon it.

Schemes, plans, ideas came, bringing a momentary uplift--only to be
discarded the next instant with a sort of bitter, desperate regret.
These men were not men of mere ordinary intelligence; their cleverness,
their power, the amazing scope of their organisation, all bore grim
witness to the fact that they would be blinded not at all by any paltry

He could walk out of the house in the morning as Jimmie Dale without
apparent hindrance--that was obvious enough. And so long as he pursued
the usual avocations of Jimmie Dale, he would not be interfered
with--only WATCHED. It was useless to consider that plan for a moment.
It would not help him to reach the Sanctuary--without leading them there
behind him! True, there was always the chance that he might shake them
off his trail, but he could hardly hope to accomplish anything like that
without their knowing that it was done DELIBERATELY--and that he dared
not risk. The strongest weapon in his hands now was his secret knowledge
that he was being watched.

That telephone there, for instance, that most curiously kept on
insisting in his mind that it, and it alone was the way out, was the
last thing he could place in jeopardy. Besides, there was another reason
why such a plan would not do; for, granting even that he succeeded in
eluding them on the way, and managed to reach the Sanctuary, his freedom
of action would be so restricted and limited as to be practically
worthless--he would have to return to his home here again within a
reasonable time as Jimmie Dale, within a few hours at most--or again
they would be in possession of the fact that he had discovered their

That, it was true, had been his original plan when he had entered the
house half an hour previously, but it was an entirely different matter
now. Then, he had counted on GETTING AWAY without their knowing it,
before they, as he had fondly thought, would have had a chance to
establish their espionage, and when they would have had no reason to
suspect, for a time at least, that he was not still within the house,
when they would have been watching, as it were, an empty cage.

He stopped in his walk, and, after a moment, dropped down into the
lounging chair again. That was it, of course. An empty cage! If he could
escape from the house! Not so much without their seeing him; that
was more or less a mechanical detail. But escape--and leave them in
possession of a sort of guarantee or assurance that he was still there!
That would give him the freedom of action that he must have. He smiled
with bitter irony. That solved the problem! That was all there was
to it--just that! It was very simple, exceedingly simple; it was

The smile left his lips, and once more his hands, clenched fiercely. No;
it was not impossible! It MUST be done--if he was to win through, if
he was even to save himself! It must be done--or FAIL her! It COULD be
done; there was a way--if he could only see it!



As the minutes passed, many of them, Jimmie Dale sat there motionless,
staring before him at the desk that was faintly outlined in the
unlighted room. Then somewhere in the house a clock struck the hour.
Five o'clock! He raised his head. YES! It could be done! There was a
way! He had the germ of it now. And now the plan began to grow, to take
form and shape in his mind, to dovetail, to knit the integral parts into
a comprehensive whole. There was a way--but he must have assistance.
Jason--yes, assuredly. Benson, his chauffeur--yes, equally as
trustworthy as Jason. Benson was devoted to him; and moreover Benson was
young, alert, daring, cool. He had had more than one occasion to test
Benson's resourcefulness and nerve!

Jimmie Dale rose abruptly, went to the rear window, and, parting the
curtains cautiously, stood peering down into the courtyard. Yes, it
was feasible; even a little more than feasible. The garage fronted the
driveway, of course, to give free entrance and egress to the cars, but
where the wall of the garage and the rear wall of the house overlapped,
as it were, the space between them was not much more than ten yards;
and here the shadows of the two walls, mingling, lay like a black,
impenetrable pathway--not like that other shadow he had seen moving at
the side of the garage, and that, if not for the moment discernible, was
none the less surely still lurking there!

Satisfied, Jimmie Dale swung briskly from the window, and, going now
to his bedroom across the hall, undressed and went to bed--but not to
sleep. There would be time enough to sleep, all day, if he wished; now,
there were still the little details to be thought out that, more than
anything else, could make or wreck his plans. A point overdone, the
faintest suggestion of a false note where men of the calibre of those
against whom he was now fighting for his life were concerned, would
not only make his scheme abortive, but would place him utterly at their

It was nine o'clock when he rang for Jason.

"Jason," he said abruptly, as the other entered, "I want you to
telephone for Doctor Merlin."

"The doctor, sir!" exclaimed the old man anxiously. "You're--you're not
ill, Master Jim, sir?"

"Do I look ill, Jason?" inquired Jimmie Dale gravely.

"Well, sir," admitted Jason, in concern; "a bit done up, sir, perhaps. A
little pale, sir; though I'm sure--"

"I'm glad to hear it," said Jimmie Dale, sitting up in bed. "The worse I
look, the better!"

"I--I beg pardon, sir?" stammered Jason.

"Jason," said Jimmie Dale, gravely again, "you have had reason to know
that on several occasions my life has been threatened. It is threatened
now. You know from last night that this house is now watched. You
may, or you may not have surmised--that our telephone wires have been

"Tapped, sir!"--Jason's face had gone a little gray.

"Yes; a party line, so to speak," said Jimmie Dale grimly. "Do you
understand? You must be careful to say no more, no less than exactly
what I tell you to say. Now go and telephone! Ask the doctor to come
over and see me this morning. Simply say that I am not feeling well; but
that, apart from being apparently in a very nervous condition, you do
not know what is the matter."

"Yes, sir--good Lord, sir!" gasped Jason--and left the room to carry out
his orders.

An hour later, Doctor Merlin had been and gone--and had left two
prescriptions; one written, the other verbal. With the written one,
Benson, in his chauffeur's livery, was dispatched to the drug store; the
verbal one was precisely what Jimmie Dale had expected from the fussy
old family physician: "Two or three days of quiet in the house James;
and if you need me again, let me know."

"Now, Jason," said Jimmie Dale, when the old man had returned from
ushering Doctor Merlin from the house, "our friends out there will be
anxious to learn the verdict. I was to dine with the Ross-Hendersons
to-morrow night, was I not?"

"Yes, sir; I think so, sir."

"Make sure!" said Jimmie Dale. "Look in my engagement book there on the

Jason looked.

"Yes, sir, that's right," he announced.

"Very good," said Jimmie Dale softly. "Now go and telephone again,
Jason. Present my regrets and excuses to the Ross-Hendersons, and say
that under the doctor's orders I am confined to the house for the next
few days--and, Jason!"

"Yes, sir?"

"When Benson returns with the medicine let him bring it here
himself--and I shall want you as well."

Jimmie Dale propped himself up a little wearily on the pillows, as Jason
went out of the room. After all, his condition was not entirely feigned.
He was, as a matter of fact, pretty well played out, both mentally and
physically. Certainly, that he should require a doctor and be confined
to the house could not arouse suspicion even in the minds of those
alert, aristocratic thugs of the Crime Club, prone as they would be
to suspect anything--a man who had been knocked unconscious in an
automobile smash the night before, had been in a fight, had been
subjected to a terrific mental shock, to say nothing of the infernal
drug that had been administered to him, might well be expected to be
indisposed the next morning, and for several mornings following that!
It might, indeed, even cause them to relax their vigilance for the time
being--though he dared build nothing on that. Well, he had only to coach
Benson and Jason in the parts they were to play, and the balance of the
morning and all the afternoon was his in which to rest.

He reached over to the table, picked up a pencil and paper, and began to
jot down memoranda. He had just tossed the pencil back on the table as
the two men entered.

Jason, at a sign, closed the door quietly.

Jimmie Dale looked at Benson half musingly, half whimsically, for a
moment before he spoke.

"Benson," he said, "the back seat of the large touring car is hinged and
lifts up, once the cushion is removed, doesn't it?"

"Yes, sir," Benson answered promptly.

"And there's space enough for, say, a man inside, isn't there?"

"Why, yes, sir; I suppose so--at a squeeze"--Benson stared blankly.

"Quite so!" said Jimmie Dale calmly. "Now, another matter, Benson: I
believe some chauffeurs have a habit, when occasion lends itself, of
taking, shall we say, their 'best girl' out riding in their masters'

"SOME might," Benson replied, a little stiffly. "I hope you don't think,
sir, that--"

"One moment, Benson. The point is, it's done--quite generally?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you have a 'best girl,' or at least could find one for such a
purpose, if you were so inclined?"

"Yes, sir," said Benson; "but--"

"Very good!" Jimmie Dale interrupted. "Then to-night, Benson, taking
advantage of my illness, and to-morrow night, and the nights after
that until further notice, you will acquire and put into practice that
reprehensible habit."

"I--I don't understand, Mr. Dale."

"No; I dare say not," said Jimmie Dale--and then the whimsicality
dropped from him. "Benson," he said slowly, "do you remember a night,
nearly four years ago, the first night you ever saw me? You had,
indiscreetly, I think, displayed more money than was wise in that East
Side neighbourhood."

"I remember," said Benson, with a sudden start; then simply: "I wouldn't
be here now, sir, if it hadn't been for you."

"Well," said Jimmie Dale quietly, "the tables are turned to-day, Benson.
As Jason already knows, this house is watched. For reasons that I cannot
explain, I am in great danger. Bluntly, I am putting my life in your
hands--and Jason's."

Benson looked for an instant from Jimmie Dale to Jason, caught the
strained, troubled expression on the old man's face, then back again at
Jimmie Dale.

"D'ye mean that, sir!" he cried. "Then you can count on me, Mr. Dale, to
the last ditch!"

"I know that, Benson," Jimmie Dale said softly. "And now, both of you,
listen! It is imperative that I should get away from the house; and
equally imperative that those watching should believe that I am still
here. Not even the servants are to be permitted a suspicion that I am
not here in my bed, ill. That, Jason, is your task. You will allow
no one to wait on me but yourself; you will bring the meal trays up
regularly--and eat the food yourself. You will answer all inquiries,
telephone and otherwise, in person--I am not seeing any one. You
understand perfectly, Jason?"

"I understand, Master Jim. You need have no fear, sir, on that score."

"Now, you, Benson," Jimmie Dale went on. "A few minutes ago I sent
you out in your chauffeur's togs with that prescription. You were
undoubtedly observed. I wanted you to be. It was quite necessary that
they should know and be able to recognise you again--to disabuse their
minds later on of the possibility that I might be masquerading in your
clothes; and also, of course, that they should know who you were, and
what your position was in the household. Very well! To-night, at eight
o'clock exactly, you are to go out from the back door of the house to
the garage. On the way out--it will be quite dark then--I want you to
drop something, say, a bunch of keys that you had been jingling in your
hand. You are to experience some difficulty in finding it again, move
about a little to force any one that may be lurking by the garage to
retreat around the corner. Grumble a bit and make a little noise; but
you are not to overdo it--a couple of minutes at the outside is enough,
by that time I shall be under the car seat. You will then run the
machine out to the street and stop at the curb, jump out, and, as though
you had forgotten something, hurry back to the garage. You must not be
away long--enough only to permit, say, a passer-by to glance into the
car and satisfy himself that it is empty. You understand, of course,
Benson, that the hood must be down--no closed car to invite even the
suggestion of concealment--that would be a fatal blunder. Drive then
to the young lady's home by as direct a route as you can--give no
appearance of being aware that you are followed, as you will be, and
much less the appearance of attempting to elude pursuit. Act naturally.
Between here and your destination I will manage readily enough to leave
the car. You will then take the young lady for her drive--that is what
they will be interested in--your motive for going out to-night. And, as
I said, take her driving again on each succeeding night--establish the
HABIT to their satisfaction."

Jimmie Dale paused, glanced at the paper which he still held in his
hand, then handed it to Benson.

"Just one thing more, Benson," he said: "Listed on that paper you will
find a different rendezvous for each night for the next five nights,
excluding to-night, which, after you have returned the young lady to her
home, you are to pass by on your way back here. See that your drive is
always over in time for you to pass each night's rendezvous at half
past eleven sharp. Don't stop unless I signal you. If I am not there,
go right on home, and be at the next place on the following night. I am
fairly well satisfied they will not bother about you after to-night,
or to-morrow night at the most; but, for all that, you must take no
chances, so, except in the route you take in going to the young lady's,
always avoid covering the same ground twice, which might give the
appearance of having some ulterior purpose in view--even in your drives,
vary your runs. Is this clear, Benson?"

"Yes, sir," said Benson earnestly.

"Very well, then," said Jimmie Dale. "Eight o'clock to the dot,
Benson--compare your time with Jason's. And now, Jason, see that I get a
chance to sleep until dinner time to-night."

The hours that followed were hours of sound and much-needed sleep for
Jimmie Dale, and from which he awoke only on Jason's entrance that
evening with the dinner tray.

"I've slept like a log, Jason!" he cried briskly, as he leaped out of
bed. "Anything new--anything happened?"

"No, sir; not a thing," Jason answered. "Only, Master Jim, sir"--the old
man twisted his hands nervously--"I--you'll excuse my saying so, sir--I
do hope you'll be careful to-night, sir. I can't help being afraid that
something'll happen to you, Master Jim."

"Nonsense, Jason!" Jimmie Dale laughed cheerfully. "There's nothing
going to happen--to me! You go ahead now and stay with the servants, and
get them out of the road at the proper time."

He bathed, dressed, ate his dinner, and was slipping cartridges into the
magazine of his automatic when, within a minute or two of eight o'clock,
Jason's whisper came from the doorway.

"It's all clear now, Master Jim, sir."

"Right!" Jimmie Dale responded--and followed Jason down the stairway,
and to the head of the cellar stairs.

Here Jason halted.

"God keep you, Master Jim!" said the old man huskily. "Good-night,
Jason," Jimmie Dale answered softly; and, with a reassuring squeeze on
the other's arm, went on down to the cellar.

Here he moved quickly, noiselessly across to the window--not the
window of the night before, but another of the same description, almost
directly beneath the one in his den above, that faced the garage and lay
in the line of that black shadow path between the two buildings. Deftly,
cautiously without sound, a half inch, an inch at a time he opened it.
He stood listening, then. A minute passed. Then he heard Benson open and
shut the back door; then Benson in the yard; and then Benson's voice in
a muttered and irritable growl, talking to himself, as he stamped around
on the ground.

With a lithe, agile movement, Jimmie Dale pulled himself up and through
the window--and began to creep rapidly on hands and knees toward
the garage. It was dark, intensely dark. He could barely distinguish
Benson's form, though, as he passed the other, the slight sounds he made
drowned out by the chauffeur's angry mumblings, he could have reached
out and touched Benson easily.

He gained the interior of the garage, and, as Benson, came on again,
stepped lightly into the car, lifted the seat, and wriggled his way

It was close, stuffy, abominably cramped, but Jimmie Dale was smiling
grimly now. Thanks to Benson, there wasn't a possibility that he had
been seen. He both felt and heard Benson start the car. Then the car
moved forward, ran the length of the driveway, bumped slightly as it
made the street--and stopped. He heard Benson jump out and run back--and
then he listened intently, and the grim smile flickered on his lips
again. Came the sound of a footstep on the sidewalk close beside the
car--then silence--the car shook a little as though some one's weight
was on the step--then the footsteps receded--Benson returned on the
run--and the car started forward once more.

Perhaps ten minutes passed. Three times the car had swerved sharply,
making a corner turn. Then Jimmie Dale pushed up the seat, and,
protected from observation from behind by the back of the car itself,
crawled out and crouched down on the floor of the tonneau.

"Don't look around, Benson," he said calmly. "Are we followed?"

"Yes, sir." Benson answered. "At least, there's always been a car behind
us, though not the same one. They're pretty clever. There must be three
or four, each following the other. Every time I turn a corner it's a
different car that turns it behind me."

"How far behind?" Jimmie Dale asked.

"Half a block."

"Slow down a little," instructed Jimmie Dale; "and don't turn another
corner until they've had a chance to accommodate themselves to your new
speed. You are going too fast for me to jump, and I don't want them to
notice any change in speed, except what is made in plain sight. Yes;
that's better. Where are we, Benson?"

"That's Amsterdam Avenue ahead," replied Benson.

"All right," said Jimmie Dale quietly. "Turn into it. The more people
the better. Tell me just as you are about to turn."

"Yes, sir," said Benson; then, almost on the instant, "All ready, sir!"

Jimmie Dale's hand reached out for the door catch, edged the door ajar,
the car swerved, took the corner--and Jimmie Dale stepped out on the
running board, hung there negligently for a moment as though chatting
with Benson, and then with an airy "good-night" dropped nonchalantly
to the ground, and the next instant had mingled with the throng of
pedestrians on the sidewalk.

A half minute later, a large gray automobile turned the corner and
followed Benson--and Jimmie Dale, stepping out into the street again,
swung on a downtown car. The road to the Sanctuary was open!

In his impatience, now, the street car seemed to drag along every foot
of the way; but a glance at his watch, as he finally reached the Bowery,
and, walking then, rapidly approached the cross street a few steps ahead
that led to the Sanctuary, told him that it was still but a quarter to
nine. But even at that he quickened his steps a little. He was free now!
There was a sort of savage, elemental uplift upon him. He was free! He
could strike now in his own defense--and hers! In a few moments he would
be at the Sanctuary; in a few more he would be Larry the Bat, and by
to-morrow at the latest he would see--The Tocsin. After all, that "hour"
was not to be taken from him! It was not, perhaps, the hour that she had
meant it should be, thought and prayed, perhaps, that it might be! It
was not the hour of victory. But it was the hour that meant to him the
realisation of the years of longing, the hour when he should see her,
see her for the first time face to face, when there should be no more
barriers between them, when--

"Fer Gawd's sake, mister, buy a pencil!"

A hand was plucking at his sleeve, the thin voice was whining in his
ear. He halted mechanically. A woman, old, bedraggled, ragged, was
thrusting a bunch of cheap pencils imploringly toward him--and then,
with a stifled cry, Jimmie Dale leaned forward. The eyes that lifted to
his for an instant were bright and clear with the vigor of youth, great
eyes of brown they were, and trouble, hope, fear, wistfulness, ay, and
a glorious shyness were in their depths. And then the voice he knew so
well, the Tocsin's was whispering hurriedly:

"I will be waiting here, Jimmie--for Larry the Bat."



It was only a little way back along the street from the Sanctuary to
the corner on the Bowery where as Jimmie Dale he had left her, where as
Larry the Bat now he was going to meet her again; it would take only
a moment or so, even at Larry the Bat's habitual, characteristic,
slouching, gait--but it seemed that was all too slow, that he must throw
discretion to the winds and run the distance. His blood was tingling;
there was elation upon him, coupled with an almost childlike dread that
she might be gone.

"The Tocsin! The Tocsin!" he kept saying to himself.

Yes; she was still there, still whiningly imploring those who passed to
buy her miserable pencils--and then, with a quick-flung whisper to him
to follow as he slouched up close to her, she had started slowly down
the street.

"The Tocsin! The Tocsin! The Tocsin!"--his brain seemed to be ringing
with the words, ringing with them in a note clear as a silver bell.
The Tocsin--at last! The woman who so strangely, so wonderfully, so
mysteriously had entered into his life, and possessed it, and filled it
with a love and yearning that had come to mold and sway and actuate
his very existence--the woman for whom he had fought; for whom he had
risked, and gladly risked, his wealth, his name, his honour--everything;
the woman for whose sake he, the Gray Seal, was sought and hounded as
the most notorious criminal of the age; she whose cleverness, whose
resourcefulness, whose amazing intimacy with the hidden things of the
underworld had seemed, indeed, to border on the supernatural; she, the
Tocsin--the woman whose face he had never seen before! The woman whose
face he had never seen before--and who now was that wretched hag that
hobbled along the street before him, begging, whining, and importuning
the passers-by to purchase of her pitiful wares!

He laughed a little--buoyantly. He had never pictured a first meeting
such as this! A hag? Yes! And one as disreputable in appearance as he
himself, as Larry the Bat, was disreputable! But he had seen her eyes!
Inimitable as was her disguise, she could not hide her eyes, or hide the
pledge they held of the beauty of form and feature beneath the tattered
rags and the touch of a master in the make-up that brought haggard want
and age into the face--and dimly he began to divine the source, the
means by which she had acquired the information that for years had
enabled her to plan their coups, that had enabled him to execute them
under the guise of crime, that for years had seemed beyond all human

Where was she going? Where was she taking him? But what did it matter!
The years of waiting were at an end--the years of mystery in a few
moments now would be mystery no more!

Ah! She had turned from the Bowery, and was heading east. He shuffled on
after her, guardedly, a half block behind. It was well that Jimmie Dale
had disappeared, that he was Larry the Bat again--the neighbourhood
was growing more and more one that Jimmie Dale could not long linger
in without attracting attention; while, on the other hand, it was the
natural environment of such as Larry the Bat and such as she, who was
leading him now to the supreme moment of his life. Yes, it was that--the
fulfillment of the years! The thought of it alone filled his mind, his
soul; it brushed aside, it blotted out for the time being the danger,
the peril, the deadly menace that hung over them both. It was only that
she, the Tocsin, was here--only that at last they would be together.

On she went, traversing street after street, the direction always
trending toward the river--until finally she halted before what appeared
to be, as nearly as he could make out in the almost total darkness of
the ill-lighted street, a small and tumble-down, self-contained dwelling
that bordered on what seemed to be an unfenced store yard of some
description. He drew his breath in sharply. She had halted--waiting for
him to come up with her. She was waiting for him--WAITING for him!
It seemed as though he drank of some strange, exhilarating elixir--he
reached her side eagerly--and then--and then--her hand had caught his,
and she was leading him into the house, into a black passage where he
could see nothing, into a room equally black over whose threshold he
stumbled, and her voice in a low, conscious way, with a little tremour,
a half sob in it that thrilled him with its promise, was in his ears:

"We are safe here, Jimmie, for a little while--but, oh, Jimmie, what
have I done! What have I done to bring you into this--only--only--I was
so sure, so sure, Jimmie, that there was nothing more to fear!"

The blood was beating in hammer blows at his temples. It seemed all
unreal, untrue that this moment could be his, that it was not a dream--a
dream which was presently to be snatched from him in a bitter awakening.
And then he laughed out wildly, passionately. No--it was true, it was
real! Her breath was on his cheek, it was a living, pulsing hand that
was still in his--and then soul and mind and body seemed engulfed and
lost in a mad ecstasy--and she was in his arms, crushed to him, and he
was raining kisses upon her face.

"I love you! I love you!" he was crying hoarsely; and over and over
again: "I love you! I love you!"

She did not struggle. The warm, rich lips were yielding to his; he could
feel the throb, the life in the young, lithe form against his own. She
was his--his! The years, the past, all were swept away--and she was his
at last--his for always. And there came a mighty sense of kingship
upon him, as though all the world were at his feet, and virility, and a
great, glad strength above all other men's, and a song was in his soul,
a song triumphant--for she was his!

"You!" he cried out--and strained her to him. "You!" he cried again--and
kissed her lips and her eyelids and her lips again.

And then her head was buried on his shoulder, and she was crying softly;
but after a moment she raised her hands and laid them upon his face,
and held them there, and because it was dark, dared to raise her head as
well, and her eyes to look into his.

Then for a long time they stood there so, and for a long time neither
spoke--and then with a little startled, broken cry, as though the peril
and the menace hanging over them, forgotten for the moment, were thrust
like a knife stab suddenly upon her, she drew herself away, and ran from
him, and went and got a lamp, and lighted it, and set it upon the table.

And Jimmie Dale, still standing there, watched her. How gloriously her
eyes shone, dimmed and misty with the tears that filled them though they
were! And there was nothing incongruous in the rags that clothed her, in
the squalour and poverty of the bare room, in the white furrows that the
tears had plowed through the grime and make-up on her cheeks.

"You wonderful, wonderful woman!" Jimmie Dale whispered.

She shook her head as though almost in self-reproach.

"I am not wonderful, Jimmie," she said, in a low voice. "I"--and then
she caught his arm, and her voice broke a little--"I've brought you into
this--probably to your death. Jimmie, tell me what happened last night,
and since then. I--I've thought at times to-day I should go mad. Oh,
Jimmie, there is so much to say to-night, so much to do if--if we
are ever to be together for--for always. Last night, Jimmie--the
telephone--I knew there was danger--that all had gone wrong--what was

His arms were around her shoulders, drawing her close to him again.

"I found the wires tapped," he said slowly.

"Yes, and--and the man you met--the chauffeur?"

"He is dead," Jimmie Dale answered gently.

He felt her hand close with a quick, spasmodic clutch upon his arm; her
face grew white--and for a moment she turned away her head.

"And--and the package?" she asked presently.

"I do not know," replied Jimmie Dale. "He did not have it with him;

"Wait!" she interrupted quickly. "We are only wasting time like this!
Tell me everything, everything just as it happened, everything from the
moment you received my letter."

And, holding her there in his arms, softening as best he could the more
brutal details, he told her. And, at the end, for a little while she was
silent; then in a strained, impulsive way she asked again:

"The chauffeur--you are sure--you are positive that he is dead?"

"Yes," said Jimmie Dale grimly; "I am sure." And then the pent-up flood
of questions burst from his lips. Who was the chauffeur? The package,
the box numbered 428, and John Johansson? And the Crime Club? And
the issue at stake? The danger, the peril that surrounded her? And
she--above all--more than anything else--about herself--her strange
life, its mystery?

She checked him with a strangely wistful touch of her finger upon his
lips, with a queer, pathetic shake of her head.

"No, Jimmie; not that way. You would never understand. I cannot--"

"But I am to know--now! Surely I am to know NOW!" he cried, a sudden
sense of dismay upon him. Three years! Three years--and always the
"next" time! "I must know now, if I am to help you!"

She smiled a little wanly at him, as she drew herself away, and,
dropping into a chair, placed her elbows on the rickety table, cupping
her chin in her hands.

"Yes; you are to know now," she said, almost as though she were talking
to herself; then, with a swift intake of her breath, impulsively:
"Jimmie! Jimmie! I had thought that it would be all so different
when--when you came. That--that I would have nothing to fear--for
you--for me--because--it would be all over. And now you are here,
Jimmie--and, oh, thank God for you!--but I feel to-night almost--almost
as though it were hopeless, that--that we were beaten."

"Beaten!" He stepped quickly to the table, and sat down, and took one
of her hands away from her face to hold it in both his own. "Beaten!"
he laughed out defiantly; then, playfully, soothingly, to reassure her:
"Jimmie Dale and Larry the Bat and the Gray Seal and the Tocsin--BEATEN!
And after we have just scored the last trick!"

"But we do not hold many trumps, Jimmie," she answered gravely. "You
have seen something of this Crime Club's power, its methods, its
merciless, cruel, inhuman cunning, and you, perhaps, think that you
understand--but you have not begun to grasp the extent of either that
power or cunning. This horrible organisation has been in existence for
many years. I do not know how many. I only know that the men of whom
it is composed are not ordinary criminals, that they do not work in
the ordinary way--to-day, they set the machinery of fraud, deception,
robbery, and murder in motion that ten years from now, and, perhaps,
only then, will culminate in the final success of their schemes--and
they play only for enormous stakes. But"--her lips grew set--"you will
see for yourself. I must not talk any longer than is necessary; we must
not take too much time. You count on three days before they begin to
suspect that all is not right with Jimmie Dale--I know them better than
you, and I give you two days, forty-eight hours at the outside, and
possibly far less. Jimmie"--abruptly--"did you ever hear of Peter

"The capitalist? Yes!" said Jimmie Dale. "He died a few years ago. I
know his brother Henry well--at the club, and all that."

"Do you!" she said evenly. "Well, the man you know is not Peter
LaSalle's brother; he is an impostor--and one of the Crime Club."

"Not--Peter LaSalle's brother!"--Jimmie Dale repeated the words
mechanically. And suddenly his brain was whirling. Vaguely, dimly, in
little memory snatches, events, not pertinent then, vitally significant
now, came crowding upon him. Peter LaSalle had come from somewhere in
the West to live in New York; and very shortly afterward had died. The
estate had been worth something over eleven millions. And there had
been--he leaned quickly, tensely forward over the table, staring at her.
"My God!" he whispered hoarsely. "You are not, you cannot be--the--the
daughter--Peter LaSalle's daughter, who disappeared strangely!"

"Yes," she said quietly. "I am Marie LaSalle."



LaSalle! The old French name! That old French inscription on the ring:
"SONNEZ LE TOCSIN!" Yes; he began to understand now. She was Marie
LaSalle! He began to remember more clearly.

Marie LaSalle! They had said she was one of the most beautiful girls
who had ever made her entree into New York society. But he had never met
her--as Marie LaSalle; never met her--until now, as the Tocsin, in this
bare, destitute, squalid hovel, here at bay, both of them, for their

He had been away when she had come with her father to New York; and
on his return there had only been the father's brother in the father's
place--and she was gone. He remembered the furor her disappearance had
caused; the enormous rewards her uncle had offered in an effort to trace
her; the thousand and one speculations as to what had become of her;
and that then, gradually, as even the most startling and mystifying of
events and happenings always do, the affair had dropped into oblivion
and had been forgotten by the public at least. He began to count back.
Yes, it must have been nearly five years ago; two years before she,
as the Tocsin, and he, as the Gray Seal, had formed their amazing and
singular partnership, that--he started suddenly, as she spoke.

"I want to tell you in as few words as I can," she said abruptly,
breaking the silence. "Listen, then, Jimmie. My mother died ten years
ago. I was little more than a child then. Shortly after her death,
father made a business trip to New York, and, on the advice of some
supposed friends, he had a new will drawn up by a lawyer whom they
recommended, and to whom they introduced him. I do not know who those
men were. The lawyer's name was Travers, Hilton Travers." She glanced
curiously at Jimmie Dale, and added quickly: "He was the chauffeur--the
man who was killed last night."

"You mean," Jimmie Dale burst out, "you mean that he was--but, first,
the will! What was in the will?"

"It was a very simple will," she answered. "And from the nature of it,
it was not at all strange that my father should have been willing to
have had it drawn by a comparative stranger, if that is what you are
thinking. Summarised in a few words, the will left everything to me,
and appointed my Uncle Henry as my guardian and the sole executor of the
estate until I should have reached my twenty-fifth birthday. It provided
for a certain sum each year to be paid to my uncle for his services as
executor; and at the expiration of the trust period--that is, when I was
twenty-five--bequeathed to him the sum of one hundred thousand dollars."

Jimmie Dale nodded. "Go on!" he prompted.

"It is hard to tell it in logical sequence," she said, hesitating a
moment. "So many things seem to overlap each other. You must understand
a little more about Hilton Travers. During the five years following the
signing of the will father came frequently to New York, and became,
not only intimate with Travers, but so much impressed with the other's
cleverness and ability that he kept putting more and more of his
business into Travers' hands. At the end of that five years, we moved
to New York, and father, who was then quite an old man, retired from all
active business, and turned over a great many of his personal affairs
to Travers to look after for him, giving Travers power of attorney in a
number of instances. So much for Travers. Now about my uncle. He was my
father's only brother; in fact, they were the only surviving members of
their family, apart from very distant connections in France, from where,
generations back, the family originally came." Her hand touched
Jimmie Dale's for an instant. "That ring, Jimmie, with its crest and
inscription, is the old family coat of arms."

"Yes," he said briefly; "I surmised as much."

"Strange as it may seem, in view of the fact that they had not seen each
other for twenty years," she went on hurriedly "my father and my
uncle were more than ordinarily attached to each other. Letters passed
regularly between them, and there was constant talk of one paying the
other a visit--but the visit never materialised. My uncle was somewhere
in Australia, my father was here, and consequently I never saw my uncle.
He was quite a different type of man from father--more restless, less
settled, more rough and ready, preferring the outdoor life of the
Australian bush to the restrictions of any so-called civilisation, I
imagine. Financially, I do not think he ever succeeded very well, for
twice, in one way or another, he lost every sheep on his ranch and
father set him up again; and I do not think he could ever have had much
of a ranch, for I remember once, in one of the letters he wrote, that he
said he had not seen a white man in weeks, so he must have lived a very
lonely life. Indeed, at about the time father drew the new will, my
uncle wrote, saying that he had decided to give up sheep running on his
own account as it did not pay, and to accept a very favourable offer
that had been made to him to manage a ranch in New Zealand; and his next
letter was from the latter country, stating that he had carried out
his intentions, and was well satisfied with the change he had made. The
long-proposed visit still continued to occupy my father's thoughts, and
on his retirement from business he definitely made up his mind to go
out to New Zealand, taking me with him. In fact, the plans were all
arranged, my uncle expressed unbounded delight in his letters, and we
were practically on the eve of sailing, when a cable came from my uncle,
telling us to postpone the visit for a few months, as he was obliged to
make a buying trip for his new employer that would keep him away that
length of time--and then"--her fingers, that had been abstractedly
picking out the lines formed by the grain of the wood in the table top,
closed suddenly into tight-clenched fists--"and then--my father died."

Jimmie Dale turned away his head. There were tears in her eyes. The old
sense of unreality was strong upon him again. He was listening to the
Tocsin's story. It was strange that he should be doing that--that
it could be really so! It seemed as though magically he had been
transported out of the world where for years past he had lived with
danger lurking at every turn, where men set watch about his house to
trap him, where the denizens of the underworld yowled like starving
beasts to sink their fangs in him, where the police were ceaselessly
upon his trail to wreak an insensate vengeance upon him; it seemed as
though he had been transported away from all that to something that he
had dreamed might, perhaps, sometime happen, that he had hoped might
happen, that he had longed for always, but now that it was his, that it
also was full of the sense of the unreal. And yet as his mind followed
the thread of her story, and leaped ahead and vaguely glimpsed what was
to come, he was conscious in a sort of premonitory way of a vaster peril
than any he had ever known, as though forces, for the moment masked,
were arrayed against him whose strength and whose malignity were beyond
human parallel. In what a strange, almost incoherent way his brain was
working! He roused himself a little and looked around him--and, with a
shock, the starkness of the room, the abject, pitiful air of destitution
brought home to him with terrific, startling force the significance of
the scene in which he was playing a part. His face set suddenly in
hard lines. That she should have been brought to assume such a life as
this--forced out of her environment of wealth and refinement, forced
in her purity to rub shoulders with the vile, the dissolute, forced to
exist as such a creature amid the crime and vice, the wretched horror
of the underworld that swirled around her! There was anger now upon him,
burning, hot--a merciless craving that was a savage, hungry lust for

And then she was speaking again:

"Father's death occurred very shortly after my uncle's message advising
us to postpone our trip was received. On his death, Travers, very
naturally, as father's lawyer, cabled my uncle to come to New York
at once; and my uncle replied, saying that he was coming by the first

She paused again--but only for an instant, as though to frame her
thoughts in words.

"I have told you that I had never seen my uncle, that even my father had
not seen him for twenty years; and I have told you that the man you know
as Henry LaSalle is an impostor--I am using the word 'uncle' now when I
refer to him simply to avoid confusion. You are, perhaps, expecting
me to say that I took a distinctive dislike to him from the moment he
arrived? On the contrary, I had every reason to be predisposed toward
him; and, indeed, was rather agreeably surprised than otherwise--he was
not nearly so uncouth and unpolished as, somehow, I had pictured his
life would have made him. Do you understand, Jimmie? He was kind,
sympathetic; and, in an apathetic way, I liked him. I say 'apathetic'
because I think that best describes my own attitude toward every one and
everything following father's death until--THAT NIGHT."

She rose abruptly from her chair, as though a passive position of any
kind had suddenly become intolerable.

"Why tell you what my father and I were to each other!" she cried out
in a low, passionate voice. "It seemed as though everything that meant
anything had gone out of my life. I became worn out, nervous; and though
the days were bad enough, the nights were a source of dread. I began
to suffer from insomnia--I could not sleep. This was even before my
supposed uncle came. I used to read for hours and hours in my room
after I had gone to bed. But"--she flung out her hand with an impatient
gesture--"there is no need to dwell on that. One night, about a week
after that man had arrived, and a little over a month after father had
died, I was in my room and had finished a book I was reading. I remember
that it was well after midnight. I had not the slightest inclination
to sleep. I picked up another book--and after that another. There were
plenty in my room; but, irrationally, of course, none pleased me. I
decided to go down to the library--not that I think I really expected
to find anything that I actually wanted, but more because it was an
impulse, and furnished me for the moment with some definite objective,
something to do. I got up, slipped on a dressing gown, and went
downstairs. The lights were all out. I was just on the point of
switching on those in the reception hall, when suddenly it seemed as
though I had not strength to lift my hand, and I remember that for an
instant I grew terribly cold with dread and fear. From the room on my
right a voice had reached me. The door was closed, but the voice was
raised in an outburst of profanity. I--I could hear every word.

"'If she's out of the way, there's no come-back,' the voice snarled. 'I
won't listen to anything else! Do you hear! Why, you fool, what are you
trying to do--hand me one! Turn everything into cash, and divvy, and
beat it--eh? And I'm the goat, and I get caught and get twenty years
for stealing trust funds--and the rest of you get the coin!' He swore
terribly again. 'Who's taken the risk in this for the last five years!
There'll be no smart Aleck lawyer tricks--there'll be no halfway
measures! And who are you to dictate! She goes out--that's safe--I
inherit as next of kin, with no one to dispute it, and that's all there
is to it!'

"I stood there and could not move. It was the voice of the man I knew
as my uncle! My heart seemed to have stopped beating. I tried to tell
myself that I was dreaming, that it was too horrible, too incredible to
be real; that they could not really mean to--to MURDER me. And then I
recognised Hilton Travers' voice.

"'I am not dictating, and you are not serious, of course,' he said,
with what seemed an uneasy laugh. 'I am only warning you that you are
forgetting to take the real Henry LaSalle into account. He is bound to
hear of this eventually, and then--'

"Another voice broke in--one I did not recognise.

"'You're talking too loud, both of you! Travers doesn't understand, but
he's to be wised up to-night, according to orders, and--'

"The voice became inaudible, muffled--I could not hear any more. I
suppose I remained there another three or four minutes, too stunned to
know what to do; and then I ran softly along the hall to the library
door. The library, you understand, was at the rear of the room they
were in, and the two rooms were really one; that is, there was only an
archway between them. I cannot tell you what my emotions were--I do not
know. I only know that I kept repeating to myself, 'they are going to
kill me, they are going to kill me!' and that it seemed I must try and
find out everything, everything I could."

She turned away from the table, and began to pace nervously up and down
the miserable room.

Jimmie Dale rose impulsively from his chair--but she waved him back

"No; wait!" she said. "Let me finish. I crept into the library. It took
me a long time, because I had to be so careful not to make the slightest
noise. I suppose it was fully six or seven minutes from the time I
had first heard my supposed uncle's voice until I had crept far enough
forward to be able to see into the room beyond. There were three men
there. The man I knew as my uncle was sitting at one end of the
table; another had his back toward me; and Travers was facing in my
direction--and I think I never saw so ghastly a face as was Hilton
Travers' then. He was standing up, sort of swaying, as he leaned with
both hands on the table.

"'Now then, Travers,' the man whose back was turned to me was saying
threateningly, 'you've got the story now--sign those papers!'

"It seemed as though Travers could not speak for a moment. He kept
looking wildly from one to the other. He was white to the lips.

"'You've let me in for--THIS!' he said hoarsely, at last, 'You
devils--you devils--you devils! You've let me in for--murder! Both of
them! Both Peter and his brother--MURDERED!'"

She stopped abruptly before Jimmie Dale, and clutched his arm tightly.

"Jimmie, I don't know why I did not scream out. Everything went black
for a moment before my eyes. It was the first suspicion I had had that
my father had met with foul play, and I--"

But now Jimmie Dale swayed up from his chair.

"Murdered!" he exclaimed tensely. "Your father! But--but I remember
perfectly, there was no hint of any such thing at the time, and never
has been since. He died from quite natural causes."

She looked at him strangely.

"He died from--inoculation," she said. "Did--did you not see something
of that laboratory in the Crime Club yourself the night before
last--enough to understand?"

"Good God!" muttered Jimmie Dale, in a startled way then: "Go on! Go on!
What happened then?"

She passed her hand a little wearily across her eyes--and sank down into
her chair again.

"Travers," she continued, picking up the thread of her story, "had
raised his voice, and the third man at the table leaned suddenly,
aggressively toward him.

"'Hold your tongue!' he growled furiously. 'All you're asked to do is
sign the papers--not talk!'

"Travers shook his head.

"'I won't!' he cried out. 'I won't have any hand in another murder--in
hers! My God, I won't--I won't, I tell you! It's horrible!'

"'Look here, you fool!' the man who was posing as my uncle broke in
then. 'You're in this too deep to get out now. If you know what's good
for you, you'll do as you're told!'

"Jimmie, I shall never forget Travers' face. It seemed to have changed
from white to gray, and there was horror in his eyes: and then he
seemed to lose all control of himself, shaking his fists in their faces,
cursing them in utter abandon.

"'I'm bad!' he cried. 'I've gone everything, everything but the
limit--everything but murder. I stop there! I'll have no more to do
with this. I'm through! You--you pulled me into this, and--and I didn't

"'Well, you know now!' the third man sneered. 'What are you going to do
about it?'

"'I'm going to see that no harm comes to Marie LaSalle,' Travers
answered in a dull way.

"The other man now was on his feet--and, I do not know quite how to
express it, Jimmie, he seemed ominously quiet in both his voice and his

"'You'd better think that over again, Travers!' he said. 'Do you mean

"'I mean it,' Travers said. 'I mean it--God help me!'

"'You may well add that!' returned the other, with an ugly laugh. He
reached out his hand toward the telephone on the table. 'Do you know
what will happen to you if I telephone a certain number and say that you
have turned--traitor?'

"'I'll have to take my chances,' Travers replied doggedly. 'I'm

"'Take them, then!' flung out the other. 'You'll have little time given
you to do us any harm?'

"Travers did not answer. I think he almost expected an attack upon him
then from the two men. He hesitated a moment, then backed slowly toward
the door. What happened in the next few moments in that room, I do not
know. I stole out of the library. I was obsessed with the thought that
I must see Travers, see him at all costs, before he got away from the
house. I reached the end of the hall as the room door opened, and he
came out. It was dark, as I said, and I could not see distinctly, but
I could make out his form. He closed the door behind him--and then
I called his name in a whisper. He took a quick step toward me, then
turned and hurried toward the front door, and I thought he was going
away--but the next instant I understood his ruse. He opened the front
door, shut it again quite loudly, and crept back to me.

"'Take me somewhere where we will be safe--quick!' he whispered.

"There was only one place where I was sure we would be safe. I led
him to the rear of the house and up the servants' stairs, and to my

She broke off abruptly, and once more rose from her chair, and once
more began to pace the room. Back in his chair, Jimmie Dale, tense and
motionless now, watched her without a word.

"It would take too long to tell you all that passed between us," she
went on hurriedly. "The man was frankly a criminal--but not to the
extent of murder. And in that respect, at least, he was honest with
himself. Almost the first words he said to me were: 'Miss LaSalle, I am
as good as a dead man if I am caught by the devils behind those two men
downstairs.' And then he began to plead with me to make my own escape.
He did not know who the man was that was posing as my uncle, had never
seen him before until he presented himself as Henry LaSalle; the other
man he knew as Clarke, but knew also that 'Clarke' was merely an assumed
name. He had fallen in with Clarke almost from the time that he had
begun to practise his profession, and at Clarke's instigation had gone
from one crooked deal to another, and had made a great deal of money. He
knew that behind Clarke was a powerful, daring, and unscrupulous band of
criminals, organised on a gigantic scale, of which he himself was, in
a sense--a probationary sense, as he put it--a member; but he had never
come into direct contact with them--he had received all his orders and
instructions through Clarke. He had been told by Clarke that he was to
cultivate father following the introduction, to win father's confidence,
to get as many of father's affairs into his hands as possible, to reach
the position, in fact, of becoming father's recognised attorney--and
all this with the object, as he supposed of embezzling from father on
a large scale. Then father died, and Travers was instructed to cable my
uncle. He knew that the man who answered that summons was an impostor;
but he did not know, until they had admitted it to him that night, that
both my father and my uncle had been murdered, and that I, too, was to
be made away with."

She looked at Jimmie Dale, and suddenly laughed out bitterly.

"No; you don't understand, even yet, the patient, ingenious deviltry
of those fiends. It was they, at the time the new will was drawn, who
offered to buy out my real uncle's sheep ranch in that lonely, unsettled
district in Australia, and offered him that new position in New Zealand.
My uncle never reached New Zealand. He was murdered on his way there.
And in his place, assuming his name, appeared the man who has been
posing as my uncle ever since. Do you begin to see! For five years
they were patiently working out their plans, for five years before
my father's death that man lived and became known and accepted, and
ESTABLISHED himself as Henry LaSalle. Do you see now why he cabled us to
postpone our visit? He ran very little risk. The chances were one in a
thousand that any of his few acquaintances in Australia would ever run
across him in New Zealand; and besides, he was chosen because it
seems there was a slight resemblance between him and the real Henry
LaSalle--enough, with his changed mode of living and more elaborate and
pretentious surroundings, to have enabled him to carry through a bluff
had it become necessary. He had all of my uncle's papers; and the Crime
Club furnished him with every detail of our lives here. I forgot to
say, too, that from the moment my uncle was supposed to have reached New
Zealand all his letters were typewritten--an evidence in father's eyes
that his brother had secured a position of some importance; as, indeed,
from apparently unprejudiced sources, they took pains to assure father
was a fact. This left them with only my uncle's signature to forge to
the letters--not a difficult matter for them!

"Believing that they had Travers so deeply implicated that he could do
nothing, even if he had the inclination, which they had not for a moment
imagined, and arrogant in the belief in their own power to put him out
of the way in any case if he proved refractory, they admitted all this
to him that night when he brought up the issue of the real Henry LaSalle
putting in an appearance sooner or later, and when they wanted him to
smooth their path by releasing all documents where his power of attorney
was involved. Do you see now the part they gave Travers to play? It was
to put the stamp of genuineness upon the false Henry LaSalle. Not but
that they were prepared with what would appear to be overwhelmingly
convincing evidence to prove it if it were necessary; but if the man
were accepted by the estate's lawyer there was little chance of any one
else questioning his identity."

She halted again by the table--and forced a smile, as her eyes met
Jimmie Dale's.

"I am almost through, Jimmie. That night was a terrible one for both
of us. Travers' life was not worth a moment's purchase once they found
him--and mine was only under reprieve until sufficient time to obviate
suspicion should have elapsed after father's death. We had no proof that
would stand in any court--even if we should have been given the chance
to adopt that course. And without absolute, irrefutable proof, it was
all so cleverly woven, stretched over so many years, that our charge
must have been held to be too visionary and fantastic to have any basis
in fact.

"All Travers would have been able to advance was the statement that the
supposed Henry LaSalle had admitted being an impostor and a murderer
to him! Who would believe it! On the face of it, it appeared to be an
absurdity. And even granted that we were given an opportunity to bring
the charge, they would be able to prove by a hundred influential
and well-known men in New Zealand that the impostor was really Henry
LaSalle; and were we able to find any of my uncle's old acquaintances in
Australia, it would be necessary to get them here--and not one of them
would have reached America alive.

"But there was not a chance, not a chance, Jimmie, of doing that--they
would have killed Travers the moment he showed himself in the open. The
only thing we could do that night was to try and save our own lives; the
only thing we could look forward to was acquiring in some way, unknown
to them, the proof, fully established, with which we could crush them in
a single stroke, and before they would have time to strike back.

"The vital thing was proof of my uncle's death. That, if it could
be obtained at all, could only be obtained in Australia. Travers was
obliged to go somewhere, to disappear from that moment if he wanted to
save his life, and he volunteered to go out there. He left the house
that night by the back entrance in an old servant's suit, which I found
for him--and I never heard from him again until a month ago in the
'personal' column of the MORNING NEWS-ARGUS, through which we had agreed
to communicate.

"As for myself, I left the house the next morning, telling my pseudo
uncle that I was going to spend a few days with a friend. And this
I actually did; but in those few days I managed to turn all my own
securities, that had been left me by my mother and which amounted to a
considerable sum, into cash. And then, Jimmie, I came to--this, I have
lived like this and in different disguises, as a settlement worker, as a
widow of means in a fashionable uptown apartment, but mostly as you see
me now--for five years. For five years I have watched my supposed
uncle, hoping, praying that through him I could get to know the others
associated with him; hoping, praying that Travers would succeed; hoping,
praying that we would get them all--and watching day after day, and year
after year the 'personal' column of the paper, until at last I began
to be afraid that it was all useless. And there was nothing, Jimmie,
nothing anywhere, and I had no success"--her voice choked a little.
"Nothing! Even Clarke never went again to the house. You can understand
now how I came to know the strange things that I wrote to the Gray Seal,
how the life that I have led, how this life here in the underworld, how
the constant search for some clew on my own account brought them to my
knowledge; and you can understand now, too, why I never dared to let
you meet me, for I knew well enough that, while I worked to undermine my
father's and my uncle's murderers, they were moving heaven and earth to
find me.

"That is all, Jimmie. The day before yesterday, a month after Travers'
first message to let me know that he was coming, there was another
'personal' giving me an hour and a telephone number. He was back! He
had everything--everything! We dared not meet; he was afraid, suspicious
that they had got track of him again. You know the rest. That package
contained the proof that, with Travers' death, can probably never be
obtained again. Do you understand why THEY want it--why it is life
and death to me? Do you understand why my supposed uncle offered huge
rewards for me, why secretly every resource of that hideous organisation
has been employed to find me--that it is only by my DEATH the estate can
pass into their hands, and now--"

She flung out her hands suddenly toward Jimmie Dale. "Oh, Jimmie,
Jimmie, I've--I've fought so long alone! Jimmie, what are we to do?"

He came slowly to his feet. She had fought so long--alone. But now--now
it was his turn to fight--for her. But how? She had not told him
all--surely she had not told him all, for everything depended upon that
package. There had been so much to tell that she had not thought of all,
and she had not told him the details about that.

"That box--No. 428!" he cried quickly. "What is that? What does it

She shook her head.

"I do not know," she answered.

"Then who is this John Johansson?"

"I do not know," she said again.

"Nor where the Crime Club is?"


He stared at her for a moment in a dazed way.

"My God!" Jimmie Dale murmured.

And then she turned away her head.

"It's--it's pretty bad, isn't it, Jimmie? I--I told you that we did not
hold many trumps."



There was silence between them. Minute after minute passed. Neither

Jimmie Dale dropped back into his chair again, and stared abstractedly
before him. "We do not hold many trumps, Jimmie--we do not hold many
trumps"--her words were repeating themselves over and over in his mind.
They seemed to challenge him mockingly to deny what was so obviously a
fact, and because he could not deny it to taunt and jeer at him--to jeer
at him, when all that was held at stake hung literally upon his next

He looked up mechanically as the Tocsin walked to a broken mirror at the
rear of the miserable room; nodded mechanically in approval as she began
deftly to retouch the make-up on her face where the tears had left their
traces--and resumed his abstracted gaze before him.

Box number four-two-eight--John Johansson--the Crime Club--the identity
of the man who was posing as Henry LaSalle! If only he could hit upon a
clew to the solution of a single one of those things, or a single phase
of one of them--if only he could glimpse a ray of light that would at
least prompt action, when every moment of inaction was multiplying the
odds against them!

There were the men who were watching his house at that moment on
Riverside Drive--he, as Larry the Bat, might in turn keep watch on them.
He had though of that. In time, perhaps, he might, by so doing, discover
the whereabouts of the Crime Club. In time! It was just that--he had no
time! Forty-eight hours, the Tocsin insisted, was all the time that he
could count upon before they would become suspicious of Jimmie Dale's
"illness," before they would discover that they were watching an empty

He might--though this was even more hazardous--make an attempt to trace
the wires that tapped those of his telephone through the basement window
that gave on the garage driveway. And what then? True, they could not
lead very far away; but, even if successful, what then? They would not
lead him to the Crime Club, but simply to some confederate, to some man
or woman playing the part of a servant, perhaps, in the house next door,
who, in turn, would have to be shadowed and watched.

Jimmie Dale shook his head. Better, of the two, to start in at once and
shadow those who were shadowing his house. But that was not the way! He
knew that intuitively. He hated to eliminate it from consideration,
for he had no other move to take its place--but such a move was almost
suicide in itself. Time, and time alone, was the vital factor. They, the
Tocsin and he, must act quickly--and STRIKE that night if they were to
win. His fingers, the grimy fingers, dirty-nailed, of Larry the
Bat, that none now would recognise as the slim tapering, wonderfully
sensitive fingers of Jimmie Dale, the fingers that had made the name of
the Gray Seal famous, whose tips mocked at bars and safes and locks,
and seemed to embody in themselves all the human senses, tightened
spasmodically on the edge of the table. Time! Time! Time! It seemed to
din in his ears. And while he sat there powerless, impotent, the
Crime Club was moving heaven and earth to find what HE must find--that
package--if he was to save this woman here, the woman whom he loved, she
who had been forced, through the machinations of these hell fiends,
to adopt the life of a wretched hag, to exist among the dregs of the
underworld, whose squalour and vice and wantonness none knew better than

Jimmie Dale's face set grimly. Somewhere--somewhere in the past five
years of this life of hers in which she had been fighting the Crime
Club, pitting that clever brain of hers against it, MUST lie a clew.
She had told him her story only in baldest outline, with scarcely a
reference to her own personal acts, with barely a single detail. There
must be something, something that perhaps she had overlooked, something,
just the merest hint of something that would supply a starting point,
give him a glimmer of light.

She came back from across the room, and sank down in her chair again.
She did not speak--the question, that meant life and death to them both,
was in her eyes.

Jimmie answered the mute interrogation tersely.

"Not yet!" he said. Then, almost curtly, in a quick, incisive way, as
the keen, alert brain began to delve and probe: "You say this man Clarke
never returned to the house after that night?"

She nodded her head quietly.

"You are sure of that?" he insisted.

"Yes," she said. "I am sure."

"And you say that all these years you have kept a watch on the man who
is posing as your uncle, and that he never went anywhere, or associated
with any one, that would afford you a clew to this Crime Club?"

"Yes," she said again.

It was a moment before Jimmie Dale spoke.

"It's very strange!" he said musingly, at last. "So strange, in fact,
that it's impossible. He must have communicated with the others, and
communicated with them often. The game they were playing was too
big, too full of details, to admit of any other possibility. And the
telephone as an explanation isn't good enough."

"And yet," she said earnestly, "possible or impossible, it is
nevertheless true. That he might have succeeded in eluding me on
occasions was perhaps to be expected; but that in all those years I
should not catch him once in what, if you are correct, must have been
many and repeated conferences with the same men is too improbable to be
thought of seriously."

Jimmie Dale shook his head again.

"If you had been able to watch him night and day, that might be so,"
he said crisply. "But, at best, you could only watch him a very small
portion of the time."

She smiled at him a little wanly.

"Do you think, Jimmie, from what you, as the Gray Seal, know of me, that
I would have watched in any haphazard way like that?"

He glanced at her with a sudden start.

"What do you mean?" he asked quickly.

"Look at me!" she said quietly. "Have you ever seen me before? I mean as
I am now."

"No," he answered, after an instant. "Not that I know of."

"And yet"--she smiled wanly again--"you have not lived, or made the
place you hold in the underworld, without having heard of Silver Mag."

"You!" exclaimed Jimmie Dale. "You--Silver Mag!" He stared at her
wonderingly, as, crouch-shouldered now, the hair, gray-threaded,
straggling out from under the hood of a faded, dark-blue, seam-worn
cloak, she sat before him, a typical creature of the underworld, her
role an art in its conception, perfect in its execution. Silver Mag!
Yes, he had heard of Silver Mag--as every one in the Bad Lands had heard
of her. Silver Mag and her pocketful of coin! Always a pocketful of
silver, so they said, that was dispensed prodigally to the wives
and children temporarily deprived of support by husbands and fathers
unfortunate enough in their clashes with the law to be doing "spaces"
up the river--and therefore the underworld swore by Silver Mag.
Always silver, never a bill; Silver Mag had never been seen with a
banknote--that was her eccentricity. Much or little, she gave or paid
out of her pocketful of jangling silver. She was credited with being
a sworn enemy of the police, and--yes, he remembered, too--with having
done "time" herself. "I don't quite understand," he said, in a puzzled
way. "I haven't run across you personally because you probably took
care to see that I shouldn't; but--it's no secret--every one says you've
served a jail sentence yourself."

"That is simply enough explained," she answered gravely. "The story is
of my own making. When I decided to adopt this life, both for my own
safety and as the best means of keeping a watch on that man, I knew that
I must win the confidence of the underworld, that I must have help, and
that in order to obtain that help I must have some excuse for my enmity
against the man known as Henry LaSalle. To be widely known in the
underworld was of inestimable value--nothing, I knew, could accomplish
that as quickly as eccentricity. You see now how and why I became
known as Silver Mag. I gained the confidence of every crook in New
York through their wives and children. I told them the story of my jail
sentence--while I swore vengeance on Henry LaSalle. I told them that he
had had me arrested for something I never stole while I was working for
him as a charwoman, and that he had had me railroaded to jail. There
wasn't one but gave me credit for the theft, perhaps; but equally,
there wasn't one but understood, and my eccentricity helped this out,
my wanting to 'get' Henry LaSalle. Well--do you see now, Jimmie? I had
money, I had the confidence of the underworld, I had an excuse for my
hatred of Henry LaSalle, and so I had all the help I wanted. Day and
night that man has been watched. He receives no visitors--what social
life he has is, as you know, at the club. There is not a house that he
has ever entered that, sooner or later, I have not entered after him
in the hope of finding the headquarters of the clique. Even the men
and women, as far as human possibility could accomplish it, that he
has talked to on the streets have been shadowed, and their identity
satisfactorily established--and the net result has been failure; utter,
absolute, complete failure!"

Jimmie Dale's eyes, that had held steadily on her face, shifted,
troubled and perplexed, to the table top.

"You are wonderful!" he said, under his breath. "Wonderful! And--and
that makes it all the more amazing, all the more incomprehensible. It is
still impossible that he has not been in close and constant touch with
his accomplices. He MUST have been! We would be blind fools to argue
against it! It could not, on the face of it, have been otherwise!"

"Then how, when, where has he done it?" she asked wearily.

"God knows!" he said bitterly. "And if they have been clever enough to
escape you all these years, I'm almost inclined to say what you said a
little while ago--that we're beaten."

She watched him miserably, as he pushed back his chair impulsively and,
standing up, stared down at her.

"We're against it--HARD!" he said, with a mirthless laugh. Then, his
lips tightening: "But we'll try another tack--the chauffeur--Travers.
Though even here the Crime Club has a day's start of us, even if last
night they knew no more about the whereabouts of that package than we
know now. I'm afraid of it! The chances are more than even that they've
already got it. If they were able to catch Travers as the chauffeur,
they would have had something tangible to work back from"--Jimmie Dale
was talking more to himself than to the Tocsin now, as though he were
muttering his thoughts aloud. "How did they get track of him? When?
Where? What has it led to? And what in Heaven's name," he burst out
suddenly, "is this box number four-two-eight!"

"A safety-deposit vault, perhaps, that he has taken somewhere," she

Jimmie Dale laughed mirthlessly again.

"That is the one definite thing I do know--that it isn't!" he said
positively. "It is nothing of that kind. It was half-past ten o'clock
at night when I met him, and he said that he had intended going back for
the package if it had been safe to do so. Deposit vaults are not open
at that hour. The package is, or was, if they have not already got it,
readily accessible--and at any hour. Now go over everything again, every
detail that passed between you and Travers. He let you know that he was
back in New York by means of a 'personal,' you said. What else was in
that 'personal' besides the telephone number and the hour you were to
call him? Anything?"

"Nothing that will help us any," she replied colourlessly. "There were
simply the words 'northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Waverly Place,'
and the signature that we had agreed upon, the two first and two last
letters of the alphabet transposed--BAZY."

"I see," said Jimmie Dale quickly. "And over the 'phone he completed his
message. Clever enough!"

"Yes," she said. "In that way, if any one were listening, or overhead
the plan, there could be little harm come of it, for the essential
feature of all, the place of rendezvous, was not mentioned. It has not
been Travers' fault that this happened--and in spite of every precaution
it has cost him his life. He wanted nothing to give them a clew to my
whereabouts; he was trying to guard against the slightest evidence that
would associate us one with the other. He even warned me over the
'phone not to tell him how, where, or the mode of life I was living. And
naturally, he dared give me no particulars about himself. I was simply
to select a third party whom I could trust, and to follow out his
instructions, which were those that I sent to you in my letter."

Jimmie Dale began to pace nervously up and down the room.

"Nothing else?" he queried, a little blankly.

"Nothing else," she said monotonously.

"But since last night, since you knew that things had gone wrong," he
persisted, "surely you traced that telephone number--the one you called

"Yes," she said, and shrugged her shoulders in a tired way. "Naturally
I did that--but, like everything else, it amounted to nothing. He
telephoned from Makoff's pawnshop on that alley off Thompson Street,

"WHERE!" Jimmie Dale, suddenly stock-still, almost shouted the word. "He
telephoned from--where! Say that again!"

She looked at him in amazement, half rising from her chair.

"Jimmie, what is it?" she cried. "You don't mean that--"

He was beside her now, his hands pressed upon her shoulders, his face

"Box number four-two-eight!" He laughed out hysterically in his
excitement. "John Johansson--box number four-two-eight! And like a fool
I never thought of it! Don't you see? Don't you know now yourself? THE

She stood up, clinging to him; a wild relief, that was based on her
confidence in him, in her eyes and face, even while she shook her head.

"No," she said frantically. "No--I do not know. Tell me, Jimmie! Tell me
quickly! You mean at Makoff's?"

"No! Not Makoff's--at Spider Jack's, on Thompson Street!"--he was
clipping off his words, still holding her tightly by the shoulders,
still staring into her eyes. "You know Spider Jack! Jack's little
novelty store! Ah, you have not learned all of the underworld yet!
Spider Jack is the craftiest 'fence' in the Bad Lands--and Makoff is
his partner. Spider buys the crooks' stuff, and Makoff disposes of it
through the pawnshop--it's only a step through the connecting back yard
from one to the other, and--"

"Yes--but," she interrupted feverishly, "the package--you said--"

"Wait!" Jimmie Dale cried. "I'm coming to that! If Travers stood in with
Makoff, he stood in with Spider Jack. For years Spider has been a sort
of clearing house for the underworld--for years he has conducted, and
profitably, too, his underground post office. Crooks from all over
the country, let alone those in New York, communicate with each other
through Spider Jack. These, for a fee, are registered at Spider's, and
given a number--a box number he calls it, though, of course, there
are no actual boxes. Letters come by mail addressed to him--the sealed
envelope within containing the actually intended recipient's name. These
Spider either forwards, or delivers in person when they are called
for. Dozens of crooks, too, unwilling, perhaps, to dispose of small
ill-gotten articles at ruinous 'fence' prices, and finding it unhealthy
for the moment to keep them in their possession, use this means of
depositing them temporarily for safe-keeping. You see now, don't you?
It's certain that's where Travers left the package. He used the name
of John Johansson, not to hoodwink Spider Jack, I should say, but as
an added safeguard against the Crime Club. Travers must have known both
Makoff and Spider Jack in the old days, and probably had reason, and
good reason, to trust them both--possibly, a crook then himself, as
he confessed, he may have acted in a legal capacity for them in their
frequent tangles with the police."

"Then," she said--and there was a glad, new note in her voice, "then,
Jimmie--Jimmie, we are safe! You can get it, Jimmie! It is only a little
thing for the Gray Seal to do--to get it now that we know where it is."

"Yes," he said tersely. "Yes--if it is still there."

"Still there!"--she repeated the words quickly, nervously. "Still there!
What do you mean?"

"I mean if they, too, have not discovered that he was at Makoff's--if
they have not got there first!" he said grimly. "There seems to be no
limit to their cleverness, or their power. They penetrated his disguise
as a chauffeur, and who knows what more they have learned since last
night? We are fighting them in the dark, and--WHAT'S THAT!" he whispered
tensely, suddenly--and leaning forward like a flash, as he whipped his
automatic from his pocket, he blew out the lamp.

The room was in darkness. They stood there rigid, silent, listening. Her
hand found and caught his arm.

And then it came again--a low sound, the sound of a stealthy footstep
just outside the window that faced on the storage yard.



A minute passed--another. The automatic at Jimmie Dale's hip, the muzzle
just peeping over the table top, held a steady bead on the window. Came
the footstep again--and then suddenly, a series of low, quick tappings
upon the windowpane. The Tocsin's hand slipped away from his arm.
Jimmie Dale's set face relaxed as he read the underground Morse, and he
replaced his revolver slowly in his pocket.

"The Magpie!" said Jimmie Dale, in an undertone. "What's he want?"

"I don't know," she answered, in a whisper. "He never came here before.
There's a back way out, Jimmie, if you--"

"No," he said quickly. "We've enemies enough, with out making one of
the Magpie. He knows some one is here with you--our shadows were on the
blind. Don't queer yourself. Let him in. I'll light the lamp."

He struck a match, as she ran from the room, and, lifting the hot lamp
chimney with the edge of his ragged coat, lighted the lamp. He turned
the wick down a little, shading and dimming the room--and then, as he
flirted a bead of moisture from his forehead, whimsically stretched out
his hand to watch it in the lamplight.

"That's bad, Jimmie," he muttered gravely to himself, as he noted an
almost imperceptible tremour. "Got a start, didn't you! Under a bit of a
strain, eh? Well"--grimly--"never mind! It looks as though the luck had
turned Makoff and Spider Jack!"

His hand reached up to his hat, jerked the brim at a rakish angle over
his eyes--and he sprawled himself out on a chair. He heard the Tocsin's
voice at the front door, and a man's voice, low and guarded, answer her.
Then the door closed, and their steps approached the room. It was rather
curious, that--a visit from the Magpie! What could the Magpie want? What
could there be in common between the Magpie and Silver Mag? The Magpie,
alias Slimmy Joe, was counted the cleverest safe worker in the United
States, barring only and always one--a smile flickered across the lips
of Larry the Bat--one whose pre-eminence the Magpie, much to his own
chagrin, admitted himself--the Gray Seal!

He looked up, twisting the stub of a cigarette between his grimy fingers
and fumbling for a match, as the Tocsin and, behind her, the Magpie,
short, slim, and wiry, shrewd-faced, with sharp, quick-glancing little
black eyes, entered the room.

"'Ello, Larry!" grinned the Magpie. "Got yer breath back yet? I felt it
through de windowpane when youse let go at de lamp!"

"'Ello, Slimmy!" returned Jimmie Dale ungraciously, speaking through the
corner of his mouth. "Ferget it!"

"Sure!" said the Magpie unconcernedly. He stared about him, and finally,
drawing a chair up to the table, sat down, motioned the Tocsin to do the
same, and leaned forward amiably. "I didn't mean to throw no scare into
youse," he said, in a conciliating tone. "But I had a little business
wid Mag, an' I was kind of interested in whether she was entertainin'
company or not--see? I didn't know youse an' Mag was workin' together."

"Mabbe," observed Jimmie Dale, as ungraciously as before, "mabbe dere's
some more t'ings youse don't know!"

"Aw, cough up de grouch!" advised the Magpie, with a hint of impatience
creeping into his voice. "Youse don't need to be sore all night! I told
youse I wasn't tryin' to hand youse one, didn't I?"

"Never mind Larry, Slimmy," put in the Tocsin petulantly. "He's down on
his luck, dat's all. He ain't had de price of a pinch of coke fer two

"Oho!" exclaimed the Magpie, grinning again. "So dat's wot's givin'
youse de pip, eh, Larry? Well, den, say, youse can take it from me dat
mabbe youse'll be glad I blew around. I was lookin' fer a guy about
yer size fer a little job to-night, an' I was t'inkin' of lettin' Young
Dutchy in on it, but seem' youse are here an' in wid Mag, an' dat I got
to get Mag in, too, youse are on if youse say de word."

"Wot's de lay?" inquired Larry the Bat, unbending a little.

The Magpie cocked his eye, and stuck his tongue in his cheek.

"GOOD-night!" he said tersely. "Nothin' like dat! Are youse on, or ain't

"Well, den, wot's in it fer me?" persisted Larrry the Bat.

"More'n de price of a coke sneeze!" returned the Magpie pertinently.
"Dere's a century note fer youse, an' mabbe two or t'ree of dem fer

Larry the Bat's eyes gleamed avariciously.

"Aw, quit yer kiddin'!" he said gruffly. "A century note--fer me!"

"Dat's wot I said! Youse heard me!" rejoined the Magpie shortly. "Only
if it listens good to youse now, I don't want no squealin' after the
divvy. I'm takin' de chances, youse has de soft end of it. One century
note fer youse--an' de rest is none of yer business! Dat's puttin' it
straight, ain't it? Well, wot do youse say, an' say it quick--'cause if
youse ain't comin' in, youse can beat it out of here so's I can talk to

"Dere ain't nothin' I wouldn't take a chance on fer a hundred plunks!"
declared Larry the Bat, with sudden fervency--and stared, anxiously
expectant, at the Magpie. "Sure, I'm on Slimmy! Sure, I am! Cut it
loose! Spill de story!"

"Well, den," said the Magpie, "I wants--"

"Youse ain't through yet!" interrupted the Tocsin tartly. "I ain't heard
youse askin' me nothin'! I ain't on me uppers like Larry, an' mabbe de
price don't cut so much ice--see?"

"Aw," said the Magpie, with a smirk, "I don't have to ask youse on dis
lay. Dis is where youse'd come in on it fer marbles. Say, dis is where
we gets de hook into a guy by de name of Henry LaSalle! Get me?"

HENRY LASALLE! Under the table, Jimmie Dale's hand clenched suddenly;
but not a muscle of his face moved, save, as with the tip of his tongue,
he shifted the butt of the cigarette that was hanging royally from his
lower lip to the other corner of his mouth.

"Sure! She's 'got' youse, Slimmy!" he flung out, with a grin, as the
Tocsin wrinkled up her face menacingly and began to mumble to herself.
"He's de guy dat handed her one when she was young, an' she's been
layin' fer him ever since! Sure! I know! Ain't I worked him fer her till
I wears me shoes out tryin' to get somet'ing on him! Sure, she's in on
it! Go on, Slimmy, wot's de lay? Wot do I do fer dat century?"

The Magpie hitched his chair closer to the table and, as his sharp,
little, ferret eyes glanced around the room, motioned the two to brings
their heads nearer.

"One of me influential broker friends down on Wall Street put me wise,"
he said, with a wink. "Dat's good enough fer youse two, as far as dat
goes. But take it from me, I got it dead straight." He lowered his voice
"Say, he's one of de richest mugs in New York, ain't he? Well, he's been
sellin' stocks an' bonds all day, t'ousands an' t'ousands of dollars'
worth--fer cash."

"All dem t'ings is always sold fer cash," remarked Larry the Bat

"Aw, ferget it!" said the Magpie earnestly. "Fer CASH, I said--de coin,
de long green--understand? He wasn't shovin' no checks fer what he sold
into de bank except to get dem cashed. Dat's wot he's been doin' all
day--gettin' de checks cashed, an' gettin' de money in big bills--see! I
know of one bunch of eighty t'ousand--an' dat's only one!"

"Wot fer?" inquired Larry the Bat. It was the question that was pounding
at his brain, as he stared innocently at the Magpie. What did it mean?
Why was Henry LaSalle turning, and, if the Magpie was right, feverishly
turning every security he could lay his hands on into cash? And then,
in a flash, the answer came. THEY HAD NOT FOUND THE PACKAGE! Equally
to them, as to the Tocsin, sitting there before him, it meant life and
death. If the package were found by the Tocsin instead of themselves,
the game was up! They were preparing for eventualities. If they were
forced to run at a moment's notice, they at least were not going to
run empty-handed! Far from empty-handed, it seemed! It would not be
difficult for the estate's executor to realise a vast sum in short order
on instantly marketable, gilt-edged securities--say, half a million
dollars. Not very bulky, either--in large bills! Five thousand
hundred-dollar bills would make half a million. It was astonishing
how small a hand bag, say, might hold a fortune! "Wot fer, Slimmy?" he
inquired again, wiggling his cigarette butt on his tongue tip. "Wot'd he
do dat fer?"

"How de hell do youse suppose I knows!" demanded the Magpie, politely
scornful. "Dat's his business--dat ain't wot's worryin' me!"

"No--sure, it ain't!" admitted Larry the Bat ingratiatingly. "But go on,
keep movin', Slimmy! Wot's he done wid de stuff?"

"Done wid it!" echoed the Magpie, with a short laugh. "Wot do youse
t'ink! He's been luggin' it home to his swell joint up dere on de
avenoo, an' crammin' his safe full of it."

Larry the Bat sucked in his breath.

"Gee, dat's soft!" he murmured, and then suddenly, as though with
painful inspiration: "Say, Slimmy--say, are youse sure youse ain't been
handed a steer?"

The Magpie grinned wickedly.

"I ain't fallin' fer steers!" he said shortly. "Dis is on de level."

Jimmie Dale lurched up from his chair, and, leaning over the lamp
chimney, drew wheezily on his cigarette to get a light. His eyes sought
the Tocsin's face. To all intents and purposes she was entirely absorbed
in the Magpie. He sat down again to gape, with well-stimulated, doglike
admiration, at Slimmy Joe. WAS THIS, TOO, A PLANT? Why had the Magpie
come to THEM with this story of Henry LaSalle? And then, the next
instant, as the Magpie spoke, his suspicions were allayed.

"Let's get down to cases!" the Magpie invited crisply. "I didn't blow
in here just by luck. Dis Henry LaSalle is de guy youse worked fer once,
ain't he, Mag? Dat's de spiel, ain't it?--he sent youse up fer pinchin'
de tacks out of his carpets!"

"I never pinched nothin'!" snarled Silver Mag truculently. "He's a dirty
liar! I never did!"

"Cut it out! Cut it out! Can dat!" complained the Magpie patiently. "De
point is, youse worked in his house, didn't youse?"

"Sure I did!" snapped the Tocsin, sullenly aggressive; "but--"

"Well, den, dat's wot I want, dat's wot I come fer, Mag--a plan of de
house. See?"

Jimmie Dale could feel the Tocsin's eyes upon him, questioning,
searching, seeking a cue. A plan of the house--yes or no? And a decision
on the instant!

"Sure!" said Larry the Bat brightly. "Dat's wot I was t'inkin' youse
were after all de time. Say, youse are all right, Slimmy! Youse are de
kind to work wid! Go on, Mag, draw de dope fer Slimmy. Dat's better
dan tryin' to put one over on de swell guy. Dis'll make him squeal fer

The Magpie produced a pencil and a piece of paper from his pocket, and
laid them on the table in front of the Tocsin.

"Dere youse are," he announced. "Help yerself, an' go to it, Mag!"

The Tocsin, evidently not quite certain of her part, wet the pencil
doubtfully on the end of her tongue.

"I ain't never drawed plans," she said anxiously. "Mabbe"--she glanced
at Jimmie Dale--"mabbe I dunno how to do it RIGHT."

"Aw, go ahead!" nodded Larry the Bat. "Youse can do it right, Mag. Youse
don't have to make no oil paintin'! All de Magpie wants is de doors an'
windows, eh, Slimmy?"

"Sure," agreed the Magpie encouragingly. "Dat's all, Mag. Just mark
de rooms out on de first floor, an' de basement. Youse can explain wot
youse 're doin' as youse goes along. I'll get youse."

The Tocsin cackled maliciously in assent; and then, while the Magpie got
up from his chair and stood peering over her shoulder, she began to draw
labouriously, her brows knitted, the pencil hooked awkwardly between
cramped-up forefinger and thumb.

Larry the Bat, slouched forward over the table, his chin in his hands,
appeared to watch the proceedings with mild interest--but his eyes, like
a hawk's, were following every line on the paper, transferring them to
his brain, photographing every detail of the plan in his mind. And as
he watched, there seemed something that was near to the acme of all that
was ironical in the Magpie standing there, his sharp, little, black eyes
drinking in greedily the Tocsin's work, in the Tocsin herself aiding and
abetting in the projected theft--OF HER OWN MONEY! How far would he let
the Magpie go? He did not know. Perhaps--who could tell!--all the way.
Between now and then there lay that package! If it were at Makoff's, at
Spider Jack's, if he could find it, get it--the Magpie as a temporary
custodian of the estate's money would at least preclude its loss by
flight if the Crime Club took alarm too quickly. Larry the Bat's eyes,
under half-closed lids, rested musingly on the Magpie's face. The Magpie
would not get very far away with it! On the other hand, if he failed at
Spider Jack's, if, after all, he was wrong, and the package had never
been there, or if they had forestalled him, turned the trick upon
him, already secured it, then--Larry the Bat's lips, working on his
cigarette, formed in a twisted smile--then, well then, that was quite
another matter! Perhaps he and the Magpie might not agree so far! A half
million dollars was perhaps not much out of eleven millions, but it was
a salvage not to be despised! Why did he say half a million! Well, why
not? If the Magpie knew of a single transaction of eighty thousand,
and there had been many transactions during the day, a half million was
little likely to prove an exaggeration--and the less likely in view
of the fact that, if those in the Crime Club were preparing for
an emergency, they would not stint themselves in the disposal of

The Magpie was keeping up a running fire of questions, as the Tocsin
toiled on with her pencil. Where did the hall lead to? How many windows
in the library? Did she remember the kind of fastenings? Did the
servants sleep in the basement, or above? And finally, twice over, as
she finished the clumsy drawing and pushed it toward him, he demanded
minute details of the position of the safe.

"Aw, dat's all right, Slimmy!" Larry the Bat cut in airily. "If youse
ferget anyt'ing when youse get in dere, youse can ask me. I got it

The Magpie folded the paper and stowed it carefully away in his pocket.

"Ask youse, eh!" he grunted sarcastically. "An' where do youse t'ink
youse'll be about dat time?"

"In dere wid youse, of course," replied Larry the Bat promptly. "Dat's
wot youse said."

"Yes, youse will--NOT!" announced the Magpie, with cold finality. "Do
youse t'ink I want to queer myself! A hot one youse'd be on an inside
job! Youse'll be OUTSIDE, wid yer peepers skinned for de bulls--youse
an' Mag here, too. See! Get dat straight. While I'm on de job youse
two plays de game. Now youse listen to me, both of youse. Don't start
nothin' unless youse has to. If it's a cinch I got to make a get-away,
youse two start a drunk fight. Get me? Youse know de lay. T'row de talk
loud--an' I'll fade. Dat's all! We'll crack de crib early--it'll be
quiet enough up dere by one o'clock."

One o'clock! Larry the Bat shook his head. What time was it now? It was
about nine when he had first met the Tocsin, then the Sanctuary, then
the long walk as he had followed her--say a quarter of ten for that. And
he had certainly been here with her not less than an hour and a half.
It must be after eleven, then. One o'clock! And before that must come
Makoff and Spider Jack! The night that half an hour ago had seemed so
sterile, was crowding a program of events upon him now--too fast!

"Nothin' doin'!" he said thoughtfully. "Youse are in wrong dere, Slimmy.
One o'clock don't go! Say, take it from me, I've watched dat guy
too many nights fer Mag. 'Tain't often he leaves de club before one
o'clock--an' he ain't never in bed before two."

"All right," agreed the Magpie, after a moment's reflection. "Youse
ought to know. Make it three o'clock." He pulled a cigar from his
pocket, lighted it, and, leaning back in his chair, stuck his feet up
on the table. "If youse don't mind, Mag, I'll stick around a while," he
decided calmly. "Mabbe de less I'm seen to-night de better--an' I guess
dere won't be nobody lookin' fer me here."

Larry the Bat coughed suddenly, and rose up a little heavily from his
chair. He had not counted on that! If the Magpie was settling down for
a prolonged stay, it devolved upon him, Jimmie Dale, to get away, and
at once--and without exciting the Magpie's suspicions. He coughed again,
looked nervously from the Tocsin to the Magpie--stammered--swallowed
hard--and coughed once more.

"Well, wot's bitin' youse?" inquired the Magpie ironically.

"Nothin'," said Larry the Bat--and hesitated. "Nothin', only--" He
hesitated again; and then, the words in a rush:

"Say, Slimmy, couldn't youse come across wid a piece of dat century

"Wot fer?" demanded the Magpie, a little aggressively.

Larry the Bat cleared his throat with a desperate effort.

"Youse knows," he admitted sheepishly. "Just gimme de price of one,
Slimmy--just one."

"Coke!" exploded the Magpie. "An' get soaked to de eyes--not by a damn

"No! Honest to Gawd, no, Slimmy--just one!" pleaded Larry the Bat.

"Nix!" said the Magpie shortly.

Larry the Bat thrust out a hand before the Magpie's eyes that shook

"I got to have it!" he declared, with sudden fierceness. "I GOT to--see!
Look at me! I ain't goin' to be no good to-night if I don't. I tell
youse, I got to! I ain't goin' to t'row youse down, Slimmy--honest, I
ain't! Just one--an' it'll set me up. If I don't get none I'll be on de
rocks before mornin'! Dat's straight, Slimmy--ask Mag, she knows."

"Aw, let him go get it!" broke in the Tocsin wearily. "Dat's de best
t'ing youse can do, Slimmy--dey're all alike when dey gets in his

"Youse cocaine sniffers gives me de pip!" snorted the Magpie, in
disgust. He dug down into his pocket, produced a bill, and flung it
across the table to Larry the Bat. "Well, dere youse are; but youse
can take it from me, Larry, dat if youse gets whiffed"--he swore
threateningly--"I'll crack every bone in yer face! Get me?"

"Slimmy," said Larry the Bat fervently, grabbing at the bill with a
hungry hand, "youse can count on me. I'll be up dere on de job before
youse are. Three o'clock, eh? Well, so long, Slimmy"--he slouched
eagerly to the door. "So long, Mag"--he paused on the threshold for
a single, quick-flung, significant glance. "See youse on de avenoo,
Mag--I'll be up dere before youse are. So long!"

"Oh, so long!" said the Tocsin contemptuously.

And, an instant later, Jimmie Dale closed the outer door behind him.



Nearly midnight already! It was even later than he had thought. Larry
the Bat pressed his face against a shop's windowpane on the Bowery for
a glance at a clock that had caught his eye on the wall within. Nearly

He slouched on again hurriedly, still debating in his mind, as he
had been debating it all the way from the Tocsin's, the question of
returning again to the Sanctuary. So far, the way both to Spider Jack's
and the Sanctuary had been in the same direction--but the Sanctuary was
on the next street.

Jimmie Dale reached the corner--and hesitated. It was strange how strong
was the intuition upon him to-night that bade him go on and make all
speed to Spider Jack's--while equally strong was the cold, stubborn
logic that bade him go first to the Sanctuary. There were things that he
needed there that would probably be absolutely essential to him before
the night was out, things without which he might be so badly handicapped
as to invite failure from the start; and yet--it was already midnight!

Ostensibly both Makoff and Spider Jack closed their places at eleven.
But that might mean anything--depending upon their own respective
inclinations, or on what of their own peculiar brand of deviltry might
be afoot. If they were still about, still in evidence, he was still too
early, midnight though it was; though, on the other hand, if the coast
was clear, he could ill afford to lose a moment of the time between
now and the hour that the Magpie had planned for the robbery of Henry
LaSalle, for it would not be an easy matter, even once inside Spider
Jack's, to find that package--since it was Spider's open boast that
things committed to his care were where the police, or any one else,
might as well whistle and suck their thumbs as try to find them!

And then, with sudden decision, taking his hesitation, as it were, by
the throat, Jimmie Dale hurried on again--to the Sanctuary. At most, it
could delay him but another fifteen minutes, and by half-past twelve, or
a quarter to one at the latest, he would be at Spider Jack's.

Disdaining the secrecy of the side door on the alley, for who had a
better right or was better known there than Larry the Bat, a tenant of
years, he entered the tenement by the front door, scuffled up the stairs
to the first landing, and let himself into his disreputable room. He
locked the door behind him, lighted the choked and wheezy gas jet, in a
single, sharp-flung glance assured himself that the blinds were tightly
shut, and, kneeling in the far corner, threw back the oilcloth and
lifted up the loose section of the flooring beneath. He reached inside,
fumbling under the neatly folded clothes of Jimmie Dale, and in a moment
laid his leather girdle with its kit of burglar's tools on the floor
beside him; and beside that again an electric flashlight, a black silk
mask, and--what he had never expected to use again when, early the night
before, he had, as he had believed, put it away forever--the thin, metal
insignia case of the Gray Seal. Another moment, and, with the flooring
replaced, the oilcloth rolled back into position, he had stripped off
his coat and was pulling his spotted, greasy shirt off over his head;
then, stooping quickly, he picked up the girdle, put it on, put on
his shirt again over it, put on his coat, put the metal case, the
flashlight, and the mask in his pockets--and once more the Sanctuary was
in darkness.

It was perhaps fifteen minutes later that Jimmie Dale turned into the
upper section of Thompson Street. Here he slowed his pace, that had
been almost a run since he had left the Sanctuary, and began to shuffle
leisurely along; for the street, that a few hours before would have been
choked with its pushcarts and venders, its half naked children playing
where they could find room in the gutters, its sidewalks thronged with
shawled women and picturesquely dressed, earringed, dark-visaged men,
a scene, as it were, transported from some foreign land, was still
far from deserted; the quiet, if quiet it could be called, was but
comparative, there were many yet about, and he had no desire to attract
attention by any evidence of undue haste. And, besides, Spider Jack's
was just ahead, making the corner of the alleyway a few hundred feet
farther on, and he had very good reasons for desiring to approach
Spider's little novelty store at a pace that would afford him every
opportunity for observation.

On he shuffled along the street, until, reaching Spider Jack's, a little
two-storied, tumble-down brick structure, a muttered exclamation of
satisfaction escaped him. The shop was closed and dark; and, though
Spider Jack lived above the store, there were no lights even in the
upper windows. Spider Jack presumably was either out, or in bed! So far,
then, he could have asked for nothing more.

Jimmie Dale edged in close to the building as he slouched by, so close
that his hat brim seemed to touch the windowpane. It was possible that
from a room at the rear of the store there might be a light with a
telltale ray perhaps filtering through, say, a door crack. But there was
nothing--only blackness within.

He paused at the corner of the building by the alleyway. Down here,
adjoining the high board fence of Spider Jack's back yard, Makoff made
pretense at pawnbrokering in a small and dingy wooden building, that was
little more pretentious than a shed--and in Makoff's place, so far as he
could see, there was no light, either.

Jimmie Dale's fingers were industriously rolling a cigarette, as, under
the brim of his slouch hat, his eyes were noting every detail around
him. A yard in against the wall of Spider Jack's, the wall cutting
off the rays of the street lamp at a sharp angle, it was shadowy and
black--and beyond that, farther in, the alleyway was like a pit. It
would take less, far less, than the fraction of a second to gain that
yard, but some one was approaching behind him, and a little group of
people loitered, with annoying persistency, directly across the way on
the other side of the street. Jimmie Dale stuck the cigarette between
his lips, fumbled in his pockets, and finally produced a box of matches.
The group opposite was moving on now; the footsteps he had heard behind
him, those of a man, drew nearer, the man passed by--and the box of
matches in Jimmie Dale's hand dropped to the ground. He reached to pick
them up, and in his stooping posture, without seeming to turn his head,
flung a quick glance behind him up the street. No one, for that fraction
of a second that he needed, was near enough to see--and in that fraction
of a second Jimmie Dale disappeared.

A dozen yards down the lane, he sprang for the top of the high fence,
gripped it, and, lithe and active as a cat, swung himself up and over,
and dropped noiselessly to the ground on the other side. Here he stood
motionless for a moment, close against the fence, to get his bearings.
The rear of Spider Jack's building loomed up before him--the back
windows as unlighted as those in front. Luck so far, at least, was with
him! He turned and looked about him, and, his eyes growing accustomed to
the darkness, he could just make out Makoff's place, bordering the end
of the yard--nor, from this new vantage point, could he discover,
any more than before, a single sign of life about the pawnbroker's

Jimmie Dale stole forward across the yard, mounted the three steps of
the low stoop at Spider Jack's back door, and tried the door cautiously.
It was locked. From his pocket came the small steel instrument that
had stood Larry the Bat in good stead a hundred times before in similar
circumstances. He inserted it in the keyhole, worked deftly with it
for an instant--and tried the door again. It was still locked. And
then Jimmie Dale smiled almost apologetically. Spider Jack did not use
ordinary locks on his back door!

The discountenanced instrument went back into his pocket, and now
Jimmie Dale's hand slipped inside his shirt, and from one of the little,
upright pockets of the leather belt, and from still another, and from
after that a third, came the vicious little blued-steel tools. The
sensitive fingers travelled slowly up and down the side of the door--and
then he was at work in earnest. A minute passed--another--there was a
dull, low, grating sound, a snick as of metal yielding suddenly--and
Jimmie Dale was coolly stowing away his tools again inside his shirt.

He pushed the door open an inch, listened, then swung it wide, stepped
inside, and closed it behind him. A round, white beam of light flashed
in a quick circle--and went out. It was a sort of storeroom, innocent
enough and orderly enough in appearance, bare-floored, with boxes and
packing cases piled neatly against the walls. In one corner a staircase
led to the story above--and from above, quite audibly now, he caught the
sound of snoring. Spider Jack was in bed, then!

Directly facing him was the open door of another room, and Jimmie Dale,
moving softly forward, entered it. He had never been in Spider Jack's
before, and his first concern was to form an intimate acquaintanceship
with his surroundings. Again the flashlight circled, and again went out.

"No windows!" muttered Jimmie Dale under his breath. "Nothing very fancy
about the architecture! Three rooms in a row! Store in front of this
room through that door of course. Wonder if the door's locked, though
it's a foregone conclusion the package wouldn't be in there."

Not a sound, his tread silent, he crossed to the closed door that he had
noticed. It was unlocked, and he opened it tentatively a little way.
A faint glow of light diffused itself through the opening. Jimmie Dale
nodded his head and closed the door again. The street lamp, shining
through the shop windows, accounted for the light.

And now the flashlight played with steady inquisitiveness about him.
The room in which he stood seemed to combine a sort of office, with
a lounging room, in which Spider Jack, no doubt, entertained his
particular cronies. There was table in the centre, cards still upon it,
chairs about it. Against the wall farthest away from the shop stood
a huge, old-fashioned cabinet; and a little farther along, anglewise,
partitioning off the corner, as it were, hung, for some purpose or
other, a cretonne curtain. Also, against the wall next to the lane,
bringing a commiserating smile to Jimmie Dale's lips as his eyes fell
upon it, was a clumsy, lumbering, antique safe.

Jimmie Dale's eyes returned to the curtain. What was it doing there?
What was it for? Instinctively he stepped over to examine it. A single
glance, however, as he lifted it aside, sufficed. It was nothing but
a make-shift clothes closet. He turned from it, switched off the
flashlight, and stood staring meditatively into the darkness. In a
strange house, with the knowledge to begin with that what he sought was
carefully hidden, it was no sinecure to find that package. He had never
for a moment imagined that it would be. But of one thing, however, there
was no uncertainty in his mind--he would get the package!--by search
if possible, by other means if search failed. It was now close to one
o'clock. If by two o'clock his efforts had been fruitless, Spider Jack
would hand over the package--at the revolver point! It was quite simple!
Meanwhile--Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders, and, going over to
the safe, knelt down in front of it--meanwhile, as well begin here as
anywhere else.

The trained fingers closed on the handle--and on the instant, as though
in startled amazement, shifted to the dial. They came back to the
handle--a wrench--then a low, amused chuckle--and the door swung open.
The great, unwieldy thing was only a monumental bluff! It not only had
not been locked, but it COULD NOT be locked--the mechanism was out of
order, the bolts could not be moved by so much as a hair's breadth!

Still chuckling, Jimmie Dale shot the flashlight's ray into the interior
of the safe--and the chuckle died on his lips, and into his face came a
look of strained bewilderment. Inside, everything was in chaos,
books, papers, a miscellany of articles, as though they had first been
ruthlessly pulled out on the floor, then gathered up in an armful and
crammed back inside again. For an instant he did not move, and then a
queer, hard, mirthless smile drew down the corners of his mouth. With a
sort of bitter, expectant nod of his head, he turned the light upon the
door of the safe. Yes, there were the scratches that the tools had left;
and, as though in sardonic jest, the holes, where the steel bit had
bored, were plugged with putty and rubbed over with some black substance
that was still wet and came off, smearing his finger, as he touched it.
It could not have been done long ago, then! How long? A half hour--an
hour? Not more than that!

Mechanically he closed the door of the safe, rose to his feet and,
almost heedless of noise now, the flashlight ray dancing before him,
he jumped across to the old-fashioned cabinet and pulled the door open.
Here, as within the safe, all inside, plain evidence of thorough, if
hasty, search, was scattered and tossed about in hopeless confusion.

He shut the cabinet door; the flashlight went out; and he stood like
a man stunned, the sense of some abysmal disaster upon him. He was too
late! The game was up! If it had ever been here, the package was gone
now--GONE! The Crime Club had been here before him!

"The game was up! The game was up!"--his mind seemed to keep on
repeating that. The Crime Club had beaten him by an hour, at most,
and had been here, and had searched. It was strange, though, that they
should have been at such curious pains to cover their tracks by leaving
the room in order, by such paltry efforts to make the safe appear
untouched when the first glance that was at all critical would disclose
immediately what had been done! Why should they need to cover their
tracks at all; or, if it was necessary, why, above all, in such a
pitifully inadequate way! His mind barked back to the same ghastly
refrain--"the game was up!"

NO! Not yet! There was still a chance! There was still Spider Jack!
Suppose, in spite of their search, they had failed to find the package!
Jimmie Dale's lips set in a thin line, as he started abruptly toward
the door. There was still that chance, and one thing was grimly
certain--Spider Jack would, at least, show him where the package HAD

And then, halfway to the door, he halted suddenly, and stood
still--listening. An electric bell was ringing loudly, imperiously,
somewhere upstairs. Followed almost immediately the sound of some one,
Spider Jack presumably, moving hurriedly about overhead; and then, a
moment later, steps coming down the staircase in the adjoining room.

Jimmie Dale drew back, flattening himself against the wall. Spider Jack
entered the room, stumbled across it, in the darkness, fumbled for the
door that led into his little shop, opened it, passed through, fumbled
around in there again, for matches evidently, then lighted a gas jet in
the store, and, going to the street door, opened it.

Jimmie Dale had edged along the wall a little to a position where he had
an unobstructed view through the open doorway connecting the shop and
the room in which he stood. Spider Jack, in trousers and shirt, hastily
donned, no doubt, as he had got out of bed, was standing in the street
doorway, and beyond him loomed the forms of several men. Spider Jack
stepped aside to allow his visitors to enter--and suddenly, a cry barely
suppressed upon his lips, Jimmie Dale involuntarily strained forward.
Three men had entered, but his eyes were fixed, fascinated, upon
only one--the first of the three. Was it an hallucination? Was he
mad---dreaming? It was Hilton Travers, THE CHAUFFEUR--the man whom he
could have sworn he had last seen dead, lashed in that chair, in that
ghastly death chamber of the Crime Club!

"Rather rough on you, Spider, to pull you out of bed at this hour," the
chauffeur was saying apologetically.

"Oh, that's all right, seein' it's you, Travers," Spider Jack answered,
gruffly amiable. "Only I was kind of lookin' for you last night."

"I know," the chauffeur replied; "but I couldn't connect with my friends
here. Shake hands with them, Spider--Bob Marvin--Harry Stead."

"Glad to know you, gents," said Spider Jack, with a handgrip apiece.

The chauffeur lowered his voice a little.

"I suppose we're alone here, eh, Spider? Yes? Well, then, you know what
I've come for--that package--Marvin and Stead, here, are the ones that
are in on it with me. Get it for me, will you, Spider?"

"Sure--Mr. Johansson!" Spider grinned. "Sure! Come on into the back room
and make yourselves comfortable. I'll be mabbe five minutes, or so."

Jimmie Dale's brain was whirling. What did it mean? He could not seem
to understand. His mind seemed to refuse its functions. Travers, the
chauffeur--ALIVE! He drew in his breath sharply. That curtain in the
corner! He must see this out now! They were coming! Quick, noiseless,
he stole along the side of the wall, reached the corner, and slipped in
behind the curtain, as Spider Jack, striking a match, entered the room.

Spider Jack lighted the gas, and, as the others followed behind him,
waved them toward the chairs around the table.

"I'll just ask you gents not to leave the room," he said meaningly, over
his shoulder, as he stepped toward the rear door. "It's kind of a fad of
mine to keep some things even from my wife!"

"All right, Spider--I understand," the chauffeur returned readily.

Jimmie Dale's knife cut a tiny slit in the cretonne on a level with his
eyes. The three men had seated themselves at the table, and appeared to
be listening intently. Spider Jack's footsteps echoed back as he crossed
the rear room, sounded dull and muffled descending the stoop outside,
and died away.

"I told you it wasn't in the house!" the man who had been introduced as
Stead laughed shortly. "We wasted the hour we had here."

The third man spoke crisply, incisively, to the chauffeur.

"Turn down that gas jet a little! You've got across with it so far--but
you can't stand a searchlight, Clarke!"

And at the words, in a flash, the meaning of it, all of it, to the last
detail that was spelling death, ruin, and disaster for her, the Tocsin,
for himself as well, burst upon Jimmie Dale. That VOICE! He would have
known it, recognised it, among a thousand--it was the masked man of the
night before, the leader, the head of the Crime Club! And it was not
Travers there at all! He remembered now, too well, that second room they
had showed him in the Crime Club--its multitude of disguises, though
in this case they had the dead man's clothes ready to their hands--the
leader's boast that impersonation was but child's play to them! And now
he understood why they had covered up the traces of their search in only
so curiously inadequate a manner. They had failed to find the package,
and, as a last resort, had adopted the ruse of impersonating Hilton
Travers, the chauffeur, which made it necessary that when they called
Spider Jack from his bed, as they had just done, that Spider Jack, at a
CASUAL glance, should notice nothing amiss--but it would be no more than
a casual glance, for, who should know better than they, he would not
have to go for the package to any place that they had disturbed! And he,
Jimmie Dale, could only stand here and watch them, helpless, powerless
to move! Three of them! A step out into the room was to invite certain
death. It would not matter, his death--if he could gain anything
for her, for the Tocsin, by it. But what could he gain--by dying? He
clenched his hands until the nails bit into the flesh.

Spider Jack re-entered the room, carrying what looked like a large,
bulky, manila envelope, heavily sealed, in his hand. He tossed it on the

"There you are, Travers!" he said.

"I wonder," suggested the leader pleasantly, "if, now that we're here,
Travers, your friend would mind letting us have this room for a few
minutes to ourselves to clean up the business?"

"Sure!" agreed Spider Jack cordially. "You're welcome to it! I'll wait
out here in the store until you say the word."

He went out, closing the door after him. The leader picked up the

"We'll take no chances with this," he said grimly. "It's been too close
a call. After we've had a look at it, we'll put it out of harm's way on
the spot, here, while we've got it--before we leave!"

He ripped the package open, and disclosed perhaps a dozen
official-looking documents, besides a miscellaneous number of others.
He took up the first of the papers, glanced through it hurriedly, then
tossed it to the pseudo chauffeur.

"Tear it up, and tear it up--SMALL!" he ordered tersely. The next,
after examining it as he had the first, he tossed to the other man. "Go
ahead!"--curtly. "Work fast! From the looks of these, Travers had us
cold! There's proof enough here of LaSalle's murder to send us all to
the chair!"

He went on glancing through the documents; and then suddenly, joining
the others in their work, began to rip and tear at the papers himself.

A sort of cold horror had settled upon Jimmie Dale, and his forehead
was clammy wet. The inhuman irony of it! That he should stand there and
watch, impotent to prevent it, the destruction of what he would have
given his life to secure! And then slowly, a grim, hard, merciless smile
came to his lips. He had recognised the leader's voice--now he would
recognise the leader's FACE. At least, that was left to him--perhaps the
master trump of all. It would not be very hard to find the Crime Club
now--with that man to lead the way!

The scraps of paper, tiny shreds, mounted into a heap on the table--and
with the last of the contents of the package destroyed, the leader stood

"Put these pieces in your pockets; we don't want to leave them here," he
directed quietly. "And then let's get out."

In scarcely a moment, the last scrap of paper had vanished. The three
men walked to the door, passed through it, and joined Spider Jack in the
store--and Jimmie Dale, slipping out from behind the curtain, gained the
door of the rear room, crept through it, reached the stoop, and then,
darting like the wind across the yard, was over the fence in a second,
and in another was out of the alleyway and on the street.

He was in time--in plenty of time. They had just left Spider Jack's,
and were, perhaps, fifty yards or so ahead of him. He slouched on behind
them--the cold, grim smile on his lips once more. It was the Crime Club
now, that hell's cradle where their devil's schemes were hatched,
that was the one thing left to him; they would lead him to that, and
then--and then it would be his turn to STRIKE!

They turned the first corner. And suddenly, as the racing engine of an
automobile caught his ear, he broke into a run, and dashed around the
corner after them--in time to see them jump into a car, and the car
speed off along the street! He halted, as though he were suddenly
dazed--started involuntarily to run forward again--stopped with a hollow
laugh at the futility of it--and stood still and motionless on the

And then he swayed a little, and his face grew gray. Failure, defeat,
ruin--in that moment he knew them all to their bitterest dregs. How
could he go to her! How could he face her, and tell her that they were
beaten, that the last hope was gone, that he had failed!

"God!" he cried aloud, and clenched his hands.

Then deep in his consciousness a thought stirred, and he swept a shaking
hand across his eyes. Why had it come again, that thought! Did it mean
that HE must play--the last card! There was a way--there had always been
a way. The way the Crime Club took--MURDER. It was their own weapon!
If the man who posed as Henry LaSalle were killed! If that man--were

"The Magpie was to be there at three!" he muttered--and started
mechanically back along the street.



It was a horrible thing--and it grew upon him. In a blind, mechanical
way, his brain receptive to nothing else, Jimmie Dale walked on along
the street. To kill a man! Death he had faced himself a hundred times,
witnessed it a hundred times in its most violent forms, had seen murder
done before his eyes, had been in straits where, to save his own life,
it had seemed the one last desperate chance--and yet his hands were
still clean! To kill a man in fair fight, in struggle, when the blood
was hot, was terrible enough, a possibility that was always before him,
the one thing from which he shrank, the one thing that, as the Gray
Seal, he had always feared; but to kill a man deliberately, to creep
upon his victim with hideous, cold-blooded premeditation--he shivered a
little, and his hand shook as he drew it nervously across his eyes.

But there was no other way! Again and again, insidiously grappling with
his revulsion, with the horror that the impulse to murder inspired,
came that other thought--there was no other way. If the man who posed
as Henry LaSalle were DEAD! If he were dead! If he were dead! See, now,
what would happen if that man were dead! How clear his brain was on that
point! The whole plot would tumble like a house of cards about the heads
of the Crime Club. The courts would require an auditing of the estate
by a trustee of the courts' own appointing, who would continue to
administer it until the Tocsin's twenty-fifth birthday, or until there
was tangible evidence of her death--but the Tocsin, automatically with
her pseudo uncle's death, could publicly appear again. Her death could
no longer benefit the Crime Club, since it, the Crime Club, with the
supposed uncle dead, could not profit through the false Henry LaSalle
inheriting as next of kin! It was the weak link, the vulnerable point in
the stupendous scheme of murder and crime with which these hell fiends
had played for and won, so far, the stake of eleven millions. Not that
they had overlooked or been blind to this, they were too clever, too
cunning for that--it was only that they had planned to accomplish the
Tocsin's death, as they had her father's and uncle's, and ESTABLISH
the false Henry LaSalle in undisputed possession and ownership of the
estate--and had failed in that--up to the present. But the material
results remained the same, so long as the Tocsin, to save her life,
was forced to remain in hiding, so long as proof that would convict the
Crime Club was not forthcoming--SO LONG AS THAT MAN LIVED!

Time passed to which Jimmie Dale was oblivious. At times he walked
slowly, scarcely moving; at times his pace was a nervous, hurried
stride, that was almost a run. And as he was oblivious to time, so was
he oblivious to his surroundings, to the direction which he took.
At times his forehead was damp with moisture that was not there from
physical exertion; at times his face, deathly white, was full as of
the vision of some shuddering, abhorrent sight; at times his lips were
thinned into a straight line, and there was a glitter in the dark eyes
that was not good to see, while his hands at his sides clenched until
the skin, tight over the knuckles, was an ivory white. To kill a man!

What other way was there? The proof that it had taken Hilton Travers
years to obtain, the proof on which the Tocsin's life depended, was
destroyed utterly, irreparably. It could never be duplicated--Hilton
Travers was dead--MURDERED. Murder! That thought again! It was their
own weapon! Murder! Would one kill a venomous reptile in whose fangs
was death? What right had this man to life, whose life was forfeit even
under the law--for murder? Was she to drag on an intolerable existence
among the dregs and the scum of the underworld, she, in her refinement
and her purity, to exist among the vile and dissolute, in daily, hourly
peril of her life, because the weapons that these inhuman vultures
had used to rob her, to destroy those she loved, to make of her life a
hideous, joyless thing, should not be used against them?

But to kill a man! To steal upon a man with cold intent in the blackness
of the night--and take his life! To be a murderer! To know the horror
of blood forever upon one's hands, to rise, cold-sweated, in the night,
fearful of the very shadows around one, to live with every detail of
that fearsome act sweeping like some dread spectre at unexpected moments
upon the consciousness! He put up his hands before his face, as though
to blot out the thought from him. Mind and soul recoiled before it--to
kill a man!

He walked on and on, until at last, conscious of a sense of fatigue, he
stopped. He must have come a long way, been walking a long time. Where
was he? He looked about him for a moment in a dazed way--and suddenly,
with a low cry, shrank back. As though he had been drawn to it by
some ghastly magnet, he found himself standing in front of the LaSalle
mansion, on Fifth Avenue. No, no; it was not for that he had come--to
kill a man! It was only--only to get that money. Yes--he remembered
now--that money from the safe, before the Magpie got it. The Magpie was
to be there at three o'clock--and the Tocsin was to be there, too. The
Tocsin! That package! He had failed! It had been her one hope, and--and
it was gone. What could he say to her? How could he tell her the
miserable truth? But--but he had not come there in the dead of night to
kill a man, these other things were what had--

"Jimmie!" It was a quick-breathed whisper. A hand was on his arm.

He turned, startled. It was the Tocsin--Silver Mag.

"Jimmie!" in alarm. "Why are you standing here like this? You may be

Seen! Suppose he WERE seen? He shuddered a little.

"Yes; that's so!" he said hoarsely. He glanced numbly up and down the
wide, deserted, but well-lighted, avenue. It was no place, that most
aristocratic section of the city, for such as Silver Mag and Larry
the Bat to be seen at that hour of night, or, rather, morning. And if
anything HAPPENED inside that house! "I--I didn't think of that," he
said mechanically.

"Come across the street--under the stoop of that house there." She had
his arm, and was half dragging him as she spoke, the alarm in her voice
intensified. And then, a moment later, safe from observation: "Jimmie,
Jimmie, what is the matter? What has happened? What makes you act so

"Nothing," he said. "I--"

"TELL me!" she insisted wildly.

And then, with a violent effort, Jimmie Dale forced his mind back to the
immediate present. He was only inspiring her with terror--and there was
the Magpie--and that money in the safe!

"Where is the Magpie?" he asked, with quick apprehension. "Am I late? Is
he in there already?"

"No," she said. "He hasn't come yet."

"What time is it?" he demanded anxiously.

"About half-past two," she replied. "But, Jimmie--"

"Wait!" he broke in. "Where is he now? You were both together! And
you were both to be here at three. What are you doing here alone at
half-past two?"

A strange little exclamation, one almost of dismay, it seemed, escaped

"The Magpie left my place an hour ago--to get his kit, I think. And I
came here at once because that was what you and I understood I was to
do, wasn't it? Jimmie, you frighten me! You are not yourself. Don't
you remember the last words you said, as you nodded to me behind the
Magpie's back--that you would be here BEFORE us? There was no mistaking
your meaning--if I could get away from him, I was to come here and meet

Jimmie Dale passed his hand nervously across his eyes. Of course, he
remembered now! What a frightful turmoil his brain had been in!

"Yes; of course!" He tried to speak nonchalantly. "I had forgotten for
the moment."

She caught his arm in a quick, tight hold, shaking him in a terrified

"YOU--forget a thing like that! Jimmie--something terrible has happened.
Can't you see that I am nearly mad with anxiety! What is it? What is it?
That package, Jimmie--is it the package?"

He did not answer. What could he say? It meant life, hope, joy,
everything that the world held for her--and it was gone.

"Yes--it IS the package!" she whispered frantically. "Quick, Jimmie!
Tell me! It--it was not there? You--you could not find it?"

"It was there," he said, as though the words were literally forced from

"Then? Then--WHAT, Jimmie?" The clutch on his arm was like a vise.

"They got it," he said. It was like a death sentence that he pronounced.
"It is destroyed."

She did not speak or move--save that her hands, as though nerveless and
without strength, fell away from his arms, and dropped to her sides. It
was dark there under the stoop, though not so dark but that he could see
her face. It was gray--gray as death. And there was misery and fear
and a pitiful helplessness in it--and then she swayed a little, and he
caught her in his arms.

"Gone!" she murmured in a dead, colourless way--and suddenly laughed out
sharply, hysterically.

"Don't! For God's sake, don't do that!" he pleaded wildly.

She looked at him then for a moment in strange quiet--and lifted her
hand and stroked his face in a numbed way.

"It--it would have been better, Jimmie, wouldn't it," she said in the
same monotonous voice, "it would have been better if--if I had never
found out anything, and they--they had done the same to me that they did
to--to father."

"Marie! Marie!" It was the first time he had ever spoken her name, and
it was on his lips now in an agony of tenderness and appeal. "Don't! You
mustn't speak like that!"

"I'm tired," she said. "I--I can't fight any more."

She did not cry. She lay there in his arms quite still--like a weary

The minutes passed. When Jimmie Dale spoke again it was
irrelevantly--and his face was very white:

"Marie, describe the upper floor of that house over there for me."

She roused herself with a start.

"The upper floor?" she repeated slowly. "Why--why do you ask that?"

"Have YOU forgotten in turn?" he said, with a steady smile. "That money
in the safe--it's yours--we can at least save that out of the wreck. You
only drew the basement plan and the first floor for the Magpie--the
more I know about the house the better, of course, in case anything goes
wrong. Now, see, try and be brave--and tell me quickly, for I must get
through before the Magpie comes, and I have barely half an hour."

"No, Jimmie--no!" She slipped out of his arms. "Let it alone! I am
afraid. Something--I--I have a feeling that something will happen."

"It is the only way." He said it involuntarily, more to himself than to

"Jimmie, let it alone!" she said again.

"No," he said. "I am going--so tell me quickly. Every minute that we
wait is one that counts against us."

She hesitated an instant--and then, speaking rapidly, made a verbal
sketch of the upper portion of the house for him.

"It's a very large house, isn't it?" he commented innocently--to pave
the way for the question, above all others, that he had to ask. "Which
is your uncle's, I mean that man's room?"

"The first on the right, at the head of the landing," she answered.
"Only, Jimmie, don't--don't go!"

He drew her close to him again.

"Now, listen," he said quietly. "When the Magpie comes and finds I am
not here, lead him to think that the money he gave me was too much for
me; that I am probably in some den, doped with drug--and hold him as
long as you can on the pretext that there is always the possibility I
may, after all, show up before he goes in there. You understand? And
now about yourself--you must do exactly as I say. On no account allow
yourself to be seen by ANY ONE except the Magpie. I would tell you to
go now, only, unless it is vitally necessary, we cannot afford to
arouse the Magpie's suspicions--he'd have every crook in the underworld
snarling at our heels. But you are not to wait, even for him, if you
detect the slightest disturbance in that house before he comes. And,
equally, after he has gone in, whether I have come out or not, at the
first indication of anything unusual you are to get away at once. You

"Yes," she said. "But--but, Jimmie, you--"

"Just one thing more." He smiled at her reassuringly. "Did the Magpie
say anything about how he intended to get in?"

"Yes--by the side away from the corner of the street," she said
tremulously. "You see, there's quite a space between the house and the
one next door; and, besides, the house next door is closed up, there's
nobody there, the family has gone away for the summer. The library
window there is low enough to reach from the ground."

For a moment longer he held her close to him, as though he could not let
her go--then bent and kissed her passionately. And in that moment all
the emotions he had known as he had walked blindly from Spider Jack's
that night surged again upon him; and that voice was whispering,
whispering, whispering: "It is the only way--it is the only way."

And then, not daring to trust his voice, he released her suddenly,
and stepped back out from under the stoop--and the next instant he was
across the deserted avenue. Another, and he had slipped through the
iron gates that opened on the street driveway--and in yet another he was
crouched close up against the front door of the LaSalle mansion.

It was a large house, a very large house, one of the few that, even
amid the wealth and luxury of that quarter, boasted its own grounds, and
those so restricted as scarcely to deserve the name; but it was set far
enough back from the street to escape the radius of the street lamps,
and so guarantee in its shadows security from observation. It was not
the Magpie's way, the front door--the obvious to the Magpie and his ilk
was a thing always to be shunned. Jimmie Dale's lips were set in a
grim smile, as his fingers worked with lightning speed, now taking this
instrument and now that from the leather pockets in the girdle beneath
his shirt--the penitentiaries were full of Magpies who shunned the

Very slowly, very cautiously the door opened. He listened breathlessly,
tensely. The door closed again--behind him. He was inside now.
Stillness! Blackness! Not a sound! A minute went by--another. And then,
as he stood there, strained, listening, the silence itself began, it
seemed, to palpitate, and pound, pound, pound, and be full of strange
noises. It was a horrible thing--to kill a man!



A moment later, Jimmie Dale stepped forward through the vestibule.
He was quite calm now; a sort of cold, merciless precision in every
movement succeeding the riot of turbulent emotions that had possessed
him as he had entered the house.

The half hour, the maximum length of time before the Magpie would
appear, as he had estimated it when out there under the stoop with the
Tocsin, had dwindled now to perhaps twenty minutes, twenty-five at the
outside. Twenty-five minutes! Twenty-five minutes was so little that for
an instant the temptation was strong upon him to sacrifice, rather
than any of those precious minutes, the Magpie instead! And then in the
darkness, as he stole noiselessly across the hall, he shook his head. It
would be a cowardly, brutal thing to do. What chance would a man with a
record like the Magpie's stand if caught there? How easy it would be
to shift the murder of the supposed Henry LaSalle to the Magpie's
shoulders! Jimmie Dale's lips closed firmly. Self-preservation was,
perhaps, the first law, but he would save the Magpie if he could--the
Magpie should have his chance! The man might be a criminal, might
deserve punishment at the hands of the law, his liberty might be a
menace to the community--but he was not a murderer, his life forfeit for
a crime he had never committed!

If he, Jimmie Dale, could only in some way have arranged with the Tocsin
out there to keep the Magpie away altogether! But it could not be done
without arousing the Magpie's suspicions; and, as a corollary to that,
afterward, with the subsequent events, would come--the deluge! The law
of the underworld was clear, concise, and admitting of no appeal on that
point; to double cross a pal meant, sooner or later, a knife thrust, a
blackjack, or--But what difference did it make what form the execution
of the sentence took? And, since, then, that was out of the question,
since he could not keep the Magpie away without practically risking his
own life, the Magpie at least must have his chance.

Jimmie Dale was at the library door now, that, according to the plan the
Tocsin had drawn for the Magpie, and as he remembered her description
when she had told him her story earlier in the evening, was just at the
foot of the staircase. How dark it was! Though the stairs could be only
a few feet away, he could not see them. And how intense the silence was
again! Here, where he stood, the slightest stir from above must have
reached him--but there was not a sound.

His hand felt out for the doorknob, found it, turned it, and pushed the
door open. He stepped inside the room and closed the door behind him.
The safe, according to the Tocsin's plan again, was in that sort of
alcove at the lower end of the library. Jimmie Dale's flashlight played
inquisitively about the room. There was the window, the only one in the
room, the window through which the Magpie proposed to enter; there
was the archway of the alcove, with its--no, there were no longer any
portieres; and there was the safe, he could see it quite plainly from
where he stood at the upper end of the room.

The flashlight went out for the space of perhaps thirty seconds--thirty
seconds of absolute silence, absolute stillness--then the round, white
ray of the light again, but glistening now on the nickel knobs and dial
of the safe--and Jimmie Dale was on his knees before it.

A low, scarcely breathed exclamation, that seemed to mingle anxiety
and hesitation, escaped him. He, who knew the make of every safe in the
country, knew this one for its true worth. Twenty-five minutes! Could he
open it in that time, let alone with any time to spare! It was not
like the one in Spider Jack's; it was the kind that the Magpie, however
clever he might be in his own way, would be forced to negotiate with
"soup," and, with the attendant noise, double his chance of discovery
and capture--and the responsibility for what might have happened
UPSTAIRS! No; the Magpie must have his chance! And, besides, the money
in the safe apart, why should not he, Jimmie Dale, have his own chance,
as well? All this would help. The motive--robbery; the perpetrator,
there was grim mockery on his lips now as the light went out and the
sensitive fingers closed on the knob of the dial, the perpetrator--the
Gray Seal. It would afford excellent food for the violent editorial
diatribes under which the police again would writhe in frenzy!

Stillness again! Silence! Only a low, tense breathing; only, so faint
that it could not be heard a foot away, a curious scratching, as from
time to time the supersensitive fingers fell away from the dial to rub
upon the carpet--to increase even their sensitiveness by setting the
nerves to throbbing through the skin surface at the tips. And then
Jimmie Dale's head, ear pressed close against the safe to catch the
tumbler's fall, was lifted--and the flashlight played again on the dial.

"Twenty-eight and a quarter--left."

How fast the time went--and how slowly! Still the black shape crouched
there in the darkness against the safe. At times, in strange, ghostly
flashes, the nickel dial with the ray upon it seemed to leap out and
glisten through the surrounding blackness; at times, the quick intake of
breath, as from great exertion; at times, faint, musical little clicks,
as, after abortive effort, the dial whirled, preparatory to a fresh
attempt. And then, at last--a gasp of relief:


Came the sound, barely audible, as of steel sliding in well-oiled
grooves, the muffled thud of metal meeting metal as the bolts shot
back--and the heavy door swung outward.

Jimmie Dale stretched his cramped limbs, and wiped the moisture from
his face--then set to work again upon the inner door. This was an easier
matter--far easier. Five minutes, perhaps a little more, went by--and
then the inner door was open, and the flashlight's ray was flooding the
interior of the safe.

A queer little sound, half of astonishment, half of disappointment,
issued from Jimmie Dale's lips. There was money here, a great deal
of money, undoubtedly, but there was no such sum as he had, somehow,
fantastically imagined from the Magpie's evidently overcoloured story
that there would be; there was money, ten packages of banknotes neatly
piled in the bottom compartment--but there was no half million of
dollars! He picked up one of the packages hurriedly--and drew in
his breath. After all, there was a great deal--the notes were
of hundred-dollar denomination, and on the bottom were two
one-thousand-dollar bills! Calculated roughly, if each of the other
nine packages contained a like amount, the total must exceed a hundred

And now Jimmie Dale began to work with feverish haste. From the leather
girdle inside his shirt came the thin metal insignia case--and a gray
seal was stuck firmly on the dial knob of the safe. This done, he tucked
away the packages of banknotes, some into his pockets and some inside
his shirt; and then quickly ransacked the interior of the safe,
flauntingly spilling the contents of drawers and pigeonholes out upon
the floor.

He stood up, and, leaving the safe door wide open, walked back across
the room to the window, unfastened the catch, and opened the window an
inch or two. The way was open now for the Magpie! The Magpie would have
no need to make any noise in forcing an entrance; he would be able to
see almost at a glance that he had been forestalled--by the Gray Seal;
and that, as far as he was concerned, the game was up. The Magpie had
his chance! If the Magpie did not take the hint and make his escape as
noiselessly as he had entered--it was his own fault! He, Jimmie Dale,
had given the Magpie his chance.

Jimmie Dale turned from the window, and made his way out of the library
to the foot of the stairs, leaving the library door open behind him. How
long had he been? Was it more or less than the twenty-five minutes? He
did not know--only, as yet, the Magpie had not come, and now perhaps it
did not make so much difference.

Where was he going now? His foot was on the first stair--and suddenly he
drew it back, the cold sweat bursting out on his forehead. Where was
From his inner consciousness, as it were, the answer, in all the bald,
naked horror that it implied, flashed upon him. The first room on the
right--THAT man's room! God, how the darkness and the stillness began
to palpitate again, and suddenly seem to shriek out at him over and over
the one single, ghastly word--MURDER!

It had been with him, that thought, all the time he had been working
at the safe; but it had been there then only subconsciously, like some
heavy, nameless dread, subjugated for the moment by the work he had
had to do which had demanded the centred attention of every faculty he
possessed. But now the moment had come when there was only THAT before
him, only that, nothing else--only that, the man upstairs in the first
room to the right of the landing!

Why did he hesitate? Why did he stand there while the priceless moments
before daylight came were passing? The man was a murderer, a blotch on
society, and, his life already forfeited, he was living now only because
the law had not found him out--the man was a criminal, bloodstained--and
his life, because he had taken her father's life and had tried to take
the Tocsin's own life, stood between her and every hope of happiness,
robbing her even literally, in a material sense, of everything that
the world could hold for her! Why did he hesitate? It was that man's
life--or hers! It was the only way!

He put his foot upon the bottom step again--paused still another
instant--and then began stealthily to mount the stairs. The darkness!
There had never been, it seemed, such darkness before! The stillness--he
had never known silence so heavy, so full of strange, premonitory
pulsings; a silence that seemed so incongruously full of clamouring
whispers in his ears! It must be those imagined whispers that were
affecting his nerve--for now, as he gained the landing and slipped his
automatic from his pocket, his hand was shaking with a queer twitching

For an instant, fighting for his self-composure, he stood striving
to locate his surroundings through the darkness. The staircase was a
circular one, making the landing nearly at the front of the house, and
rearward from this, the Tocsin had said, a hallway ran down the centre,
with rooms on either side. The first room to the right, therefore,
should be just at his hand. He reached out, feeling cautiously--there
was nothing. He edged to the right--still nothing; edged a little
farther, a sense of bewilderment growing upon him, and finally his
fingers touched the wall. It was very strange! The hallway must be much
wider than he had understood it to be from what she had said!

He moved along now straight ahead of him, his hand on the wall, feeling
for the door--and with every step his bewilderment increased. Surely
there must be some mistake--perhaps he had misunderstood! He had come
fully twice the distance that one would expect--and yet there was
no door. Ah, what was that? His fingers closed on soft, heavy velvet
hangings. These could hardly be in front of a door, and yet--what else
could it be? He drew the hangings warily apart, and felt behind them. It
was a window; but it was shuttered in some way evidently, for he could
not see out.

Jimmie Dale stood motionless there for fully a minute. It seemed absurd,
preposterous, the conviction that was being forced home upon him--that
there were no rooms on the right-hand side of the corridor at all!
But that was not like the Tocsin, accurate always in the most minute
details. The room must be still farther along. He was tempted to use
his flashlight--but that, as long as he could feel his way, was an
unnecessary risk. A flashlight upstairs, where a sleeping-room door
might be ajar, or even wide open, where some one wakeful, THAT man
himself, perhaps, might see it, was quite another matter than a
flashlight in the closed and deserted library below!

He went on once more, still guiding himself by a light finger touch upon
the wall, passed another portiere similar to the first, and, after that,
another--and finally stopped by bringing up abruptly against the end
wall of the house. It was certainly very strange! There WERE no rooms
on the right-hand side of the corridor. And here, hanging across the end
wall, was another of those ubiquitous velvet portieres. He parted it,
and, a little to his surprise, found a window that was not shuttered,
but that, instead, was heavily barred by an ornamental grille work. He
could see out, however, and found that he was looking directly out
from the rear of the house. A lamp from the side street threw what was
undoubtedly the garage into shadowy outline, and he made out below him
a short stretch of yard between the garage and the house. He remembered
that now--she had described all that to the Magpie. There was no
driveway between the front and the rear. The house being on the corner,
the entrance to the garage was directly from the side street. Yes, she
had described all that exactly as it was, but--he dropped the portiere
and faced around, carrying his hand in a nonplused way to his eyes--but
here, upstairs, within the house, it was not as she had said it was at
all! What did it mean? She could not have blundered so egregiously as
that, unless--he caught his breath suddenly--unless she had done so
intentionally! Was that it? Had she surmised, formed a suspicion of
what was in his mind, of what he meant to do--and taken this means of
defeating it? If so--well, it was too late for that now! There was
one way--only one way! Whatever the cost, whatever it might mean for
him--there was only one way out for her.

His flashlight was in his hand now, and the round, white ray shot down
the corridor--seemed suddenly to falter unsteadily--swept in through an
open door that was almost beside him--and then, as though a nerveless
hand held it, the ray dropped and played shakily on the toe of his boot
before it went out.

A stifled cry rose to his lips. Something cold, like a hand of ice,
seemed to clutch at his heart. Those portieres, the wide, richly
carpeted corridor! It was the corridor of the night before! That room at
his side was the room where he had seen Hilton Travers, the chauffeur,
dead, lashed in a chair! He felt the sweat beads burst out anew upon his




His brain seemed to whirl, staggered as by some gigantic, ghastly
mockery. The Crime Club! HERE! He had thought to creep upon that
man--and he had run blindly into the very heart and centre of these hell
fiends' nest!

Silently he stood there, holding his breath as he listened now,
motionless as a statue, forcing his mind to THINK. He remembered that
last night his impression of the place had been that it was more like
some great private mansion than anything else. Well, he had been right,
it seemed! He could have laughed aloud--sardonically, hysterically. It
was not so strange now that there were no rooms on the right-hand side
of the corridor! And what could have suited their purpose better, what,
by its very location, its unimpeachable character, could be a more ideal
lair for them than this house! And how grimly simple it was now, the
explanation! In the five years that the false Henry LaSalle had been in
possession, they had cunningly remodelled the upper floor--that was all!
It was quite clear now why the man never entertained--why he had never
been caught or found or known to be in communication with his fellow
conspirators! It was no longer curious that one might watch the door of
the house for months at a stretch and go unrewarded for one's pains, as
the Tocsin had done, when access to the house by those who frequented it
was so easy through the garage on the side street--and from the garage,
if their work there was in keeping with their clever contrivances
within the house, by an underground connection into, say, the cellar or

Again Jimmie Dale checked that nervous, unnatural inclination to laugh
aloud. Was there anything, any single incident, any single detail of all
that had transpired, that was not explained, borne out, as it could be
explained and borne out in no other way save that the Crime Club should
be no other than this very house itself? It was the exposition of
that favourite theory of his--it was so obvious that therein lay its
security. He had mocked at the Magpie not many moments before on that
score--and now it was the beam in his own eye! It was so obvious now, so
glaringly obvious, that the Crime Club could have been nowhere else; so
obvious, with every word of the Tocsin's story pointing it out like a
signpost--and he had not seen it!

And then suddenly every muscle grew strained and rigid. WAS THERE SOME
ONE IN THE CORRIDOR? Was it some one moving--or was it only fancy? He
listened--while he strained his eyes through the darkness. There was no
sound; only that abnormal, heavy silence that--yes, he remembered that,
too, now--that had clung about him last night like a pall. He could
see nothing, hear nothing--but intuitively, bringing a cold dismay, the
greater because it was something unknown, intangible, he FELT as though
eyes were upon him, that even in the darkness he was being watched!

And as he stood there, then, slowly there crept upon Jimmie Dale the
sense of peril and disaster. It was not intuition now--it was certainty.
He was trapped! It was the part of a fool to imagine that with their
devil's cunning, their cleverness, their ingenuity, he, or any one else,
could enter that house unknown to its occupants! Had he made electric
contact when he had opened the front door, and rung a signal here,
perhaps, upstairs--had he set some system of alarm at work when he had
touched that window? What did it matter--the details that had heralded
his entrance? He was certain now that his presence in the house was
known. Only, why had they left him so long without attack? He shook his
head with a quick, impatient movement. That, too, was obvious! He was
under observation. Who was he? Why had he come? Was he simply a paltry
safe-tapper--or was he one whom they had a real need to fear? And then,
too, there might well be another reason. It was far from likely, in fact
unreasonable, to imagine that all the men he had seen here the night
before were in the house now. Not many of them, if any, would LIVE here,
for CONSTANT, daily coming and going, even through the garage, could
not escape notice; and, of the servants, probably a lesser breed of
criminal, some of them, at least, no doubt, were engaged at that
moment in watching his own house on Riverside Drive! There was even
the possibility that the man posing as Henry LaSalle was, for the time
being, here alone.

He shook his head again. He could hardly hope for that--he had no right
to hope for anything more now than a struggle, with an inevitably fatal
ending to himself, but one in which at least he could sell his life as
dearly as possible, one in which, perhaps, he might pay the Tocsin's
score with the man he had come to find! If he could do that--well, after
all, the price was not too great!

There were no tremours of the muscles now. It was Jimmie Dale, the Gray
Seal, every faculty alert, tense, keyed up to its highest efficiency;
the brain cool, keen, and active--fighting for his life. The front door
through which he had entered was an impossibility; but there was the
window in the library that he had opened--if they would let him get that
far! That was as good a chance as any. If he made an effort to find,
say, a way to the flat above and chanced some means of escape there, it
would in no wise obviate an attack upon him, and he would only be under
the added disadvantage of unfamiliar surroundings.

Feeling out with his left hand, his automatic thrown a little forward
in his right, he began to retrace his way along the blank wall of the
corridor, pausing between each step to listen, moving silently, his
tread on the heavy carpet as noiseless as though it were some shadow
creeping there.

Stillness--utter, absolute! Always that stillness. Always that sense of
danger around him--the tense, bated expectancy of momentary attack--a
revolver flash through the darkness--a sudden rush upon him. But still
there was nothing--only the darkness, only the silence.

He gained the head of the stairs and began to descend--and now the
strain began to tell upon his nerves again. Again he was possessed of
the mad impulse to cry out, to do anything that would force the issue,
that would end the horrible, unbearable suspense. Why did that revolver
shot not come? Why had they not yet rushed upon him? Why were they
playing with him as a cat with a mouse? Or was it all wild, fanciful
imagination? NO! What was that again! He could have sworn this time that
he had heard a sound, but he could neither define its character, nor
locate the direction from which it had come.

He was at the foot of the stairs now; and, guiding himself by the wall,
moving now barely an inch at a time, he reached the library door that
he had left open, and stole in over the threshold. Halfway down the room
and diagonally across from where he stood was the window. In a moment
now he could gain that, but they would never let him go so easily--and
so it must come now, in that next moment, their attack! Where were they?
Where were they now? The table--he must remember not to bump into the
table! A pause between each step, he was crossing the room. He was
halfway to the window. Had it been all fancy, was he to--And then Jimmie

Stillness again! A sort of deadly calm upon him, Jimmie Dale felt
out behind his back for the big library table that he had been
circuiting--if the window were wide open it might be done, but to jump
for it and stand silhouetted there during the pause necessary to fling
the window up was little less than suicidal. He edged back noiselessly
until his fingers touched the table; then, lowering himself to his
knees, he backed in underneath it, and lay flat upon the floor. It was
not much protection, but it had one advantage: if they switched on
the lights it would show an EMPTY room for the first instant, and that
instant meant--the first shot!

Where were they now? By the library door? How many of them were there?
Well, it was their move! Two could play at cat and mouse until--until
DAYLIGHT! That wasn't very far off, now, and when that came he might
still have the first shot, but after that--he turned his head quickly
toward the window. There was a faint scratching noise as of finger nails
gripping the sill; then the window, very slowly, almost silently, was
pushed steadily upward, and a dark form loomed up outside; and then,
crawling through, a man dropped, as though his feet were padded like a
cat's on the floor inside the room. The Magpie!

A flashlight's ray shot out--and, with a twisted smile propped now
on his left elbow to give free play to his revolver arm, Jimmie Dale
followed the white spot eagerly with his eyes. But it did not circle
around; instead, the light was turned almost instantly toward the lower
end of the room--and, a second later, was holding steadily on the open
door of the safe, and the litter of papers on the floor.

Came a savage growl of amazed fury from the Magpie: then his step
down the room; and, as he reached the safe, a torrent of unbridled
blasphemy--and then, in a sort of staggered gasp, as he leaned suddenly
forward examining the knob of the dial:

"The Gray Seal!"

A moment the Magpie stood there; and then, cursing again in abandon,
turned, and started back for the window, his flashlight dancing before
him--and stopped, a snarl of fury on his lips. The flashlight was
playing full on Jimmie Dale under the table!

"Larry the Bat! The Gray Seal! By God!" choked the Magpie. "You--you--"
The Magpie's flashlight, as he shifted it from his right hand to his
left and wrenched out his revolver, had fallen upon two men crouched
close against the wall by the library door--and he screamed out in an
access of fury. "De double cross! A plant! De bulls! You damned snitch,
Larry!" screamed out the Magpie--and fired.

The bullet tore into the carpet beside Jimmie Dale. Came answering shots
from the men by the door; and then the Magpie, emptying his automatic at
the two men as he ran, the flame tongues cutting vicious lanes of fire
through the darkness, dashed for the window. There was a cry, the crash
of a heavy body pitching to the floor--and the Magpie had flung himself
out through the window, and in the momentary ensuing silence within the
room came the sound of his footsteps running on the gravel below.

There was a low moan, the movement as of some one staggering and
lurching around--and then the lights went on. But for an instant
Jimmie Dale did not move. He was staring at the form of a man still and
motionless on the floor in front of him--the man who had posed as Henry
LaSalle. Dead! The man was dead! His mind ran riot for a moment. Where
were the others--were there only these two? Only these two in the house!
Only these two--and one was dead! And then Jimmie Dale was on his feet.
One was dead--but there was still the other, the man who was reeling
there, back turned to him, by the electric-light switch. But even as
Jimmie Dale sprang forward, this second man, clawing at the wall for
support, slipped to his knees and fell upon the carpet.

Jimmie Dale reached him, snatched the revolver from his hand, and bent
over him. It was the man whose name he did not know, but whose face he
had reason enough to know too well--it was the leader of the Crime Club.

The man, though evidently badly wounded, smiled defiantly in spite of
his pain.

"So you're the Gray Seal!" he flung out contemptuously. "A clever
enough safe-cracker--but only a lowbrow, like the rest of them. Another
illusion dispelled! Well, you've got the money--better run, hadn't you?"

Jimmie Dale made no answer. Satisfied that the man was too badly hurt to
move, he went and bent over the silent form in the centre of the room. A
moment's examination was enough. "Henry LaSalle" was dead.

He stood there looking down at the man. It was what he had come
for--though it was the Magpie, not himself, who had accomplished it!
The man was dead! The words began to run through his mind in a queer
reiteration. The man was dead--the man was dead! He checked himself
sharply. He must think now--think fast, and think RIGHT.

The Magpie knew that Larry the Bat was the Gray Seal--and as fast as the
Magpie could get there, the news would spread like wildfire through the
underworld. "Death to the Gray Seal! Death to the Gray Seal!" He could
hear that slogan ringing again in his ears, but as he had never heard it
before--with a snarl of triumph now as of wolves who at last had pulled
their quarry down. He had not a second to spare--and yet--that man
wounded there on the floor! What of him--guilty of murder, the brains of
this inhuman, monstrous organisation, the one to whom, more even than to
that dead man, the Tocsin owed the horror and the misery and the grief
and despair that had come into her life! What of him? What of the Crime
Club here? What of this nest of vipers? Were they to escape? Were they

With a sudden, low exclamation, Jimmie Dale jumped for the table, and,
snatching up the telephone, rattled the hook violently.

"Give me"--his voice came in well-simulated gasps, each like a man
fighting for every word--"give me--police--headquarters! Quick! QUICK!

The wounded man on the floor raised himself on his elbow.

"What are you doing?" he demanded in a startled way. "Are you mad! Thank
your stars you were lucky enough to get out of this alive--and get out
now, while you have the chance!"

Jimmie Dale pressed his hand firmly over the mouthpiece of the

"I'll go," he said, with a cold smile, "when I've settled with you--for
the murder of Henry LaSalle."

"That man!" ejaculated the man scornfully, pointing to the form on the
floor. "So that's your game! Going to try and cover your tracks! Why,
you fool, I LIVE here! Do you think the police would imagine for an
instant that I killed him?"

"I said--HENRY LASALLE," said Jimmie Dale evenly.

The man came farther up on his elbow, a sudden look of fear in his face.

"What--what do you mean?" he cried hoarsely.

But Jimmie Dale was talking again into the telephone--gasping, choking
out his words as before:

"Police headquarters? I'm Henry LaSalle. Fifth Avenue. I--I've been
shot. Take down this statement. I'll--I'll be dead before you get
here--I'm not the real Henry LaSalle at all. We murdered Henry
LaSalle--in Australia, and murdered Peter LaSalle here. We--we tried
to kill the daughter, but she ran away. This house has been our
headquarters for the last five years. The man who shot me to-night is
the leader of the gang. We quarrelled over the division of a haul.
He's here on the floor now, wounded. Get them all, get them all, damn
them!--do you hear?--get them all! They're out of the house now, but
lay a trap for them. They always come in through the garage on the side
street. Oh, God, I'm done for! Break down the west walls of the rooms
upstairs--if--you--want proof of what--the gang's been doing. Hurry!
Hurry! I'm--I'm--done for--I--"

Jimmie Dale permitted the telephone to drop with a clash from his hand
to the table.

The face of the man on the floor was livid.

"Who are you? In God's name, who are you?" he cried out wildly.

"Does it matter?" inquired Jimmie Dale grimly. "Your game is up. You'll
go to the chair for the murder of 'Henry LaSalle'--if it is by proxy!
Those rooms upstairs alone are enough to damn you, to prove every word
of that dying 'confession'--but to-morrow, added to it, will come the
story of Marie LaSalle herself."

For a moment the man hung there swaying on his elbow, his face working
in ghastly fashion--and then suddenly, with a strange laugh, he carried
one hand swiftly to his mouth--and laughed again--and before Jimmie Dale
could reach him was lifeless on the floor.

A tiny vial rolled away upon the carpet. Jimmie Dale picked it up. A
drop or two of liquid still remained in it--colourless, clear, like
that liquid this same man had dropped into the rabbit's mouth the night
before, like the liquid in the glasses they had carried into that third
room, like the liquid that his man had said was from a formula of their
own, that was instantaneous in its action, that defied detection by

The set, stern features of Jimmie Dale relaxed. It was justice--but it
was also death. In a surge of emotion, the events of scarcely more
than twenty-four hours, began to crowd upon him--and then, ominously
dominant, above all else, that slogan of the underworld, "Death to the
Gray Seal!" came ringing once more in his ears. It brought him, with a
startled movement of his hand across his eyes, to a realisation of his
own desperate position. Yes, yes, he must go! The way was clear now for
the Tocsin--clear now for her!

He dropped the vial into his pocket, and, running to the safe, quickly
scraped the gray seal from the dial's knob; then he drew the packages of
money from his shirt and pockets and tossed them on the floor among the
litter of papers already there--she would get it back again when it had
served its purpose, it would be self-evident that it was the proceeds of
that day's sale of the estate's securities over which the "quarrel" had

And now the window! He ran to it, closed it, and LOCKED it; then,
laying the revolver he had taken from the leader down beside the man,
he stepped across the room again and drew the body of "Henry LaSalle"
closer to the table--as though the man had fallen there when the
telephone had dropped from his hand.

It was done now! On the floor beside him lay each man's weapon--and both
of the revolvers had been discharged several times. Jimmie Dale paused
on the library threshold for a final survey of the room. It was done!
The way was clear--for her. And now if he could only save himself! There
was no chance for Larry the Bat! Could he save--JIMMIE DALE!

He crossed the hall, a queer, half-grim, half-wistful smile on his
lips, unlocked the front door, stepped out, locked it behind him--and
in another moment, doubling around the corner, was running along like a
hare along the side street.



On Jimmie Dale ran. Across on Fourth Avenue he swung on a car that took
him to Astor Place. Then striking east once more, making a detour to
avoid the Bowery, he ran on at top speed again. To reach the Sanctuary,
not before the Magpie should have spread the alarm, that was impossible,
but to reach it before the underworld should have had time to recover
its breath, as it were, before the underworld should have had time to
act--that was his only chance! The Magpie had, at the outside, a start
of fifteen minutes; but he, Jimmie Dale, had probably retrieved five
minutes of that in the time he had made in getting downtown. That left
the Magpie ten to the good. How long would it take the Magpie to bring
the underworld swarming like hornets around the Sanctuary?

On Larry the Bat ran. At the Sanctuary were the clothes, the belongings
of Jimmie Dale. Could he save Jimmie Dale! If he could get there,
change, and get out again, the way was clear for him--as clear as for
the Tocsin now. In a few hours the police would have every member of
the Crime Club in the trap; there would be no watch any more around
his house on Riverside Drive; and he would be free to return there
and resume his normal life as Jimmie Dale again if he could make
the Sanctuary in time! But let the Magpie get there first, let the
underworld tear the place to pieces in its fury as it would do, let them
discover that hiding place under the flooring, for instance, and the
Gray Seal would not be merely Larry the Bat, but Jimmie Dale as well,
and--a cry escaped him even as he ran--it meant ruin, the disgrace of
an honoured name, death, crimes without number at his door. Crimes! The
Gray Seal had never committed a crime! But the crimes attributed to the
Gray Seal he could not disprove, not one of them! He had meant them
to appear as crimes--and he had succeeded so well that the Gray Seal's
name, execrated, was a synonym for the most callous, dangerous, and
unscrupulous criminal of the age!

He was gasping for breath as finally, making for the side door, he
darted into the alleyway that flanked the Sanctuary. What story would
the Magpie tell? Not the truth, of course--that would let the Magpie in
for what had happened that night, for the Magpie must be well aware
that he had shot at least one of the two men in that room. But the
truth wasn't necessary; it was foreign, and had no bearing on the one
outstanding fact--the Gray Seal was Larry the Bat. At the present moment
the Magpie had a double incentive for "getting" the Gray Seal--the Gray
Seal was the only one who could prove murder against him that night
in the LaSalle mansion. And afterwards, when the police version of the
affair was made public, the Magpie, to save himself, would be careful
enough to do or say nothing to contradict "Henry LaSalle's" confession!

Larry the Bat slipped in through the door, halted there, listened; and
then began to mount the rickety stairs, with his silent tread. At the
top he paused again. Nothing--no sound! They were not here yet--so far
he was in time! He stepped to the Sanctuary door, unlocked it, passed
into the squalid, miserable room that had harboured him for so long as
Larry the Bat, locked the door behind him, crossed quickly to the window
to make sure that the shutters were closed--and then, for the first
time, as the gray light streaked in through the interstices, he was
conscious that it was already dawn. So much the more need for haste

He whipped out his revolver and laid it at his hand on the dilapidated
table; then the flooring in the corner was up in an instant, and he
began to strip off the rags of Larry the Bat. Boots, mismated socks, the
torn, patched trousers, the greasy flannel shirt, the threadbare coat,
the nondescript slouch hat were thrown in a pile on the floor; and
with them, from their hiding-place, the grease paints and heterogeneous
collection of make-up accessories. This done, he began to slip on the
clothes of Jimmie Dale; and, when half dressed, turned to the table
again to remove the characteristic grime, stain, and paint of Larry the
Bat from face, hands, wrists, throat, and neck. This was a longer, more
arduous task. He reached for the cracked pitcher to pour more water into
the basin--and, snatching up his revolver instead, whirled to face the

Some one was outside! He had caught the creak of a footstep upon the
stairs. In a flash he was across the room and crouched by the door. Yes,
the step was nearer now--at the head of the stairs--on the landing. His
revolver lifted, holding a steady bead on the door panel. And then there
came a low voice:

"Jimmie! Jimmie! Are you there? Quick, Jimmie! Are you there?"

The Tocsin! What was she doing here! Why had he not warned her up there
on the avenue, fool that he was, that of all places she was to keep away
from here!

She slipped into the room as he unlocked the door.

"They're coming, Jimmie!" she panted breathlessly. "There's not an
instant to lose! Listen! When the Magpie ran from the house, I ran with
him--but it"--she tried to smile--"it wasn't to obey you, to run away--I
had made up my mind I wouldn't do that--it was to find out from him what
had happened. He told me you were the Gray Seal. He did not suspect me.
He thinks you were no more than just Larry the Bat to me, as you were
to everybody else. He went straight to Chicago Ike's gambling rooms and
found the Skeeter's gang there--you know them, Red Mose, the Midget,
Harve Thoms, and the Skeeter--you remember your fight with them over
old Luddy's diamonds! Well, they have not forgotten, either! They are on
their way here, now! The news that you are the Gray Seal is travelling
like lightning all through the underworld--there will be a mob here on
the Skeeter's heels. So, Jimmie--quick! Run!"

Run! Half Larry the Bat, half Jimmie Dale--and run! In another five
minutes, perhaps--yes. But there probably would not be five minutes--and
she--if she were found here!

"Yes," he said quietly. "I'll get away in a moment. You go at once.
I'll"--he was smiling at her reassuringly--"I'll meet you at--"

She looked at him then for an instant--interrupting him quickly, as she
shook her head.

"I didn't notice, Jimmie. You cannot go like that--can you? It would
be even worse than being caught as Larry the Bat. Hurry then--I am not
going without you."

"No!" he said. "Go now! Go at once, Marie--while you can. You have
risked your life as it is to come here and tell me this. For God's sake,
go now!"

The great, brown eyes were smiling bravely through a sudden mist. She
shook her head again.

"Not without you, Jimmie."

It brought a fierce, wild throb of joy upon him--and then a cold,
sickening fear.

"Listen!" he cried out desperately. "You must go now! You cannot take
any chances now, Marie. Everything is right for you. That man who posed
as your uncle is dead--the leader of the Crime Club is dead. Don't you
understand what that means! You have only to be Marie LaSalle again and
claim your own. I cannot tell you all now--there's no time. That house
was the Crime Club itself. The police will get them all. Don't you see!
Don't you see! Everything is clear for you now--and now go! Go--you must

She was staring at him, a strange wonder in her face.

"Clear! All clear--for me! I--I can go back to--to my own life again!"
It was as though she were whispering some amazing thing of unbelievable
joy to herself.

"YES!" he cried out again. "Yes! But go--go, Marie!"

But now, for answer, suddenly she reached out and took the key from the
door and put it in the pocket of her dress.

"We will go together, Jimmie--or not at all," she said simply. "We are
wasting precious moments. Hurry and dress!"

He hesitated miserably. What could he do--if she WOULD not go! And it
was true--the moments were flying. Better, rather than futile argument,
to use them as she said. There was still a chance! Why not! Five
minutes! He could do better than that! He MUST do better than that!

Without a word, he ran back across the room. In frantic haste, from
face, hands, wrists, and neck came the stain. There was still time. She
was standing there by the door, listening. She, the Tocsin, she whom
he loved, she who, all through the years that had gone, had been so
strangely elusive and yet so intimately a part of his life, SHE was
standing there now, here with him--in peril with every second that

He had only to slip on his coat and vest now--and make a bundle of
Larry the Bat's things on the floor, so that he could carry them away
to destroy them. He stooped to gather up the clothes--and straightened
suddenly--and jumped toward the door again.

"They are coming, Jimmie!" she called, in a low voice. But he had
already heard them--the stairs were creaking loudly under the tread of
many feet. He pushed the Tocsin hurriedly back against the wall at the
side of the door.

"Stand there!" he said, under his breath. "Out of the line of fire!
Don't move!"

There was a rush against the door--and then a voice growled:

"Aw, cut dat out! Wot do youse want to do--scare him away by bustin' it!
Pick de lock, an' we'll lay for him inside till he shows up."

It was the Skeeter's voice. The Skeeter and his gang--the worst apaches
in the city of New York! Professional assassins, death contractors,
he had called them--and the lowest bidders! A man's life any time for
twenty-five dollars! No, they were not likely to forget the affair of
the pushcart man, to forget old Luddy and his diamonds, to forget--the
Gray Seal! And they were only the vanguard of what was to come!

Some one was working at the lock now. There was one way to stop that. It
would not take them long to find out that he WAS there once the door
was opened! Better know it with the door SHUT! Jimmie Dale lifted his
revolver coolly and fired through the panel.

A burst of yells answered the shot; and among them, high above the
others, the Magpie's scream:

"We got him! We got him! He's dere now!"

And then it seemed that pandemonium broke loose--there was a volley of
shots, the bullets splintering through the door panels as from a machine
gun, so fast they came--and then another rush against the door.

Flat on the floor, but well back and to one side, Jimmie Dale fired
steadily--again and again.

Came screams of pain, yells, and oaths--and they fell back from the

And now from above, from overhead, came tumult--windows thrown up, the
stamp of feet, cries of fright. And from the street, a low, sullen roar.
The underworld was gathering fast!

Once more the rush upon the door--and Jimmie Dale, a grim, twisted smile
upon his lips, emptied his revolver into the panels. Once more they
fell back--and then there came the Skeeter's voice, snarling like an
infuriated beast:

"He'll get de lot of us like dis! Cut it out! Besides, we'll have de
bulls down here in a minute--an' he's OUR meat, not theirs. Dey'd be
too damned soft wid him--dey'd only send him to de chair. Youse chase
upstairs, Mose, an' pass de word to beat it--an' beat it quick. We'll
BURN de skunk out--dat's wot. An' de bulls can stand alongside an'
watch, if dey likes--but he's our meat."

Jimmie Dale did not dare to look at the Tocsin's face. Mechanically he
refilled the magazine of his automatic--and lay there, waiting. The roar
from the street grew louder. They seemed to be fighting out there, as
though an inadequate number of police were trying to disperse a mob--and
not succeeding! Pretty soon, with the riot call in, there would probably
be a battle--for the Gray Seal! Sublime irony! It was death at the hands
of either one!

Children whimpered on the stairs outside, men swore, women cried, feet
shuffled hurriedly by as the tenement emptied. Occasionally, a pertinent
invitation to him to remain where he was, there was a vicious rip
through the panel, and the drumming whir of a bullet flying through the
room. And then a curious, ominous crackling sound--and then the smell of

Jimmie Dale stood up, his face drawn and haggard. The tenement would go
like matchwood, burn like a bonfire, with any kind of a start--and there
was no doubt about the start! The Skeeter, the Magpie, and the rest
would have seen that it had headway enough to serve their purpose before
either firemen or police could thwart them. He, Jimmie Dale, could
take his choice: walk out into a bullet, or stay there and--he smiled
miserably as his eyes fell upon the pile of Larry the Bat's clothing on
the floor. There was no longer need to worry about ITS destruction--the
fire would take care of that only too well! And then a low, bitter
cry came to his lips, and he clenched his hands. If it were only
himself--only himself! He crossed to the Tocsin and caught her in his

"Oh, my God--Marie!" he faltered.

The cape and hood had fallen from her, and with the hood had fallen the
gray-streaked hair of Silver Mag--and now as she smiled at him it was
from a face that was very beautiful and very brave and very full of

And he held her there--and neither spoke.

It seeped in under the threshold of the door, it came from everywhere,
filling the room--the black, strangling smoke. Outside in the hall all
was silence now--save for that crackle of flame that grew in volume,
that came now in quick, sharp reports, like revolver shots. From out in
the street swelled a cry: "Death to the Gray Seal!" Then the clang of
bells, the roar and rattle of fire apparatus, strident voices bellowing
orders, and the crowd again, blood hungry: "Death to the Gray Seal!"

There was a chance, just one--if the fire had no headway along the upper
end of the landing--and if they had not thought to set a watch for
him ABOVE! They--the Magpie, the Skeeter, and his gang--must have been
driven even out of the house now by the smoke and flame.

"Give me the key, I am going to open the door, Marie," he said quietly.
"Cover your face with a handkerchief, anything, and run to the LEFT to
the next flight of stairs. There are two flats above this--we'll make
the roof if we can. Now--are you ready?"

It was an instant before she answered, an instant in which she lifted
her face to his, and held his face between her two hands--and then:

"I am ready, Jimmie."

He flung open the door, his arm around her to help her forward--and
instinctively, with a cry, fell back for a moment. With the inrush of
the draft poured the smoke, and through it, lurid, yellow, showed the
flames leaping from the stair well.

And then all was blind madness. Together they ran. At the foot of the
stairs she fell, recovered herself, staggered up another--and fell
again. He caught her up in his arms and, staggering now as she had
staggered, went on. His lungs seemed to be bursting. His limbs grew
weak and trembled under him. He could not see or breathe. The nauseating
fumes suffocated him, bringing an intolerable agony. He gained the first
landing above. There was one more--one more! If he could only rest here
for a moment! Yes, that was it--rest. It wasn't so bad here now. She
stirred in his arms, struggled to her feet--and he was helping her on
again, and up the next flight of stairs.

And suddenly he found himself laughing in hysteria--for they were
climbing a half stair, half ladderway at the end of the upper landing,
and the open skylight was above them, and they were drinking in the
pure, fresh air--and now they were out upon the roof, and the roar from
the street was in their ears, like the roar of great waters from some
canyon far below. Jimmie Dale tried to speak, and found his lips were
cracked and dry. He wet them with his tongue.

"Don't stand up--we'd be seen--CRAWL," he mumbled hoarsely.

It took a long time--over one roof, and then another, and yet
another--and then through the skylight of a tenement whose occupants
were either craning from the front windows, or were on the street below.
It was, perhaps, half an hour--and then they, too, were standing in the
street, and all about them the crowd was shouting in wild excitement.

Up the block, inside the fire lines, the Sanctuary was blazing
furiously--and now suddenly the wall seemed to bulge outward. It brought
a yell from the crowd:

"Death to the Gray Seal!"

She pulled at his arm.

"Let us get away! Let us get away, Jimmie!" she whispered frantically.

A strange smile was on Jimmie Dale's lips.

"We're safe now--for always," he whispered back. "Look!"

The Sanctuary wall bulged farther outward, seemed to hang an instant
hesitant in mid-air--and fell with a mighty crash.

The Gray Seal was dead!

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Adventures of Jimmie Dale" ***

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