But Jimmie Dale lost no time in the Sanctuary. In the darkness he crossed the room, and from behind the movable section of the baseboard possessed himself of a pocket flashlight, and a small, but extremely serviceable, steel jimmy—and in a moment more was back in the lane, and from the lane again was heading still deeper into the heart of the East Side.

English Dick! A twisted smile crossed his lips. Well as he knew the underworld and its sordid citizenship, he might be forgiven for not knowing English Dick. The man’s reputation had reached into every corner of the Bad Lands, it was true; but it had not been known that the man himself was on this side of the water. And that the secret had been kept spoke with grim and deadly significance for the power and cunning of the master brain to which the Tocsin had referred, for English Dick was known as the most famous forger in Europe, the best in his line, and as such, from afar, was worshipped as a demi-god by the underworld of New York.

Block after block of dark, ill-lighted streets Jimmie Dale traversed, until, perhaps fifteen minutes after he had left the Sanctuary, he swerved suddenly for the second time that night into a lane. He might not have known English Dick, but he knew Reddy Mull, and he knew Marloff’s! Reddy Mull was a gangster, a gunman pure and simple, whose services were at the call of the highest bidder; and Marlopp’s was a pool and billiard hall—to the uninitiated. Marlopp’s, however, if one had ears well trained enough to hear, resounded to the click of ivory that was not the click of pool and billiard balls! Upstairs, if one could get upstairs, a gambling hell supplanted the billiard hall below. It was an unsavoury place, the resort of crooks, some of whom lived there—amongst them, Reddy Mull.

Jimmie Dale, close against the fence, and halfway down the lane now, paused and looked about him, straining his eyes through the blackness—then with a lithe spring he caught the top of the fence, swung himself over, and dropped to the ground on the other side. The rear of a row of low buildings now loomed up before him across a narrow yard. Window lights showed here and there from the houses on either side; and from the upper windows of the house directly in front of him faint threads of light filtered out into the darkness through the cracks of closed shutters, but the lower part of the house was in blackness.

He crept forward silently across the yard. There was a back entrance, but it led to the basement—Jimmie Dale’s immediate attention was directed to the rear window, the window of one Reddy Mull’s room. And here, crouched beneath it, Jimmie Dale listened. From the front of the establishment came muffled sounds from the pool and billiard hall; there was nothing else.

The window was above the level of his head, but still easily within reach. He tested it, found it locked—and the steel jimmy crept in under the sash. A moment passed, there was a faint, almost indistinguishable creak; and then Jimmie Dale, drawing himself up with the agility of a cat, had slipped through, and was standing, listening again, inside the room.

The sounds from the pool room were louder, more distinct now, even rising once into a shout of boisterous hilarity; but there was no other sound. The round, white ray of Jimmie Dale’s flashlight circled the room suddenly, inquisitively—and went out. It was a bare, squalid place, dirty, filthy, disreputable. There was a bed, unmade, a table, a few chairs, a greasy, threadbare carpet on the floor—nothing else, save that his eyes had noted that the electric-light switch was on the wall beside the jamb of the door.

The flashlight winked again—and again went out. Jimmie Dale slipped his mask over his face, and moved forward toward the wall.

“Under loose board, right-hand corner from door,” murmured Jimmie Dale. He was kneeling on the floor now. “Yes, here it was!” His flashlight was boring down into a little excavation beneath the piece of flooring he had removed. He stared into this for a moment, his lips twitching grimly; then, with a whimsical shrug of his shoulders, he replaced the board, and stood up. He had found the hiding place without any trouble—but he had found it empty. “I guess,” said Jimmie Dale, with a mirthless smile, “that there’s a good deal of the bank’s property at large—temporarily!”

There was a chair by the wall close to the door, he had noticed. He moved over, and sat down—but, instead of his flashlight, his automatic was in his hand now. There was the chance, of course, that English Dick had already been here with that twenty thousand from the bank, and in that case, as witness the empty hiding place, Reddy Mull had already passed it on; but it was much more likely that neither one of the two had yet arrived. Which one would come first then—English Dick, or Reddy Mull? If it were Reddy Mull it would be unfortunate—for Reddy Mull. His, Jimmie Dale’s, immediate business was with English Dick, and he was quite content to leave Reddy Mull to the later ministrations of the police.

Jimmie Dale’s fingers tested the mechanism of his automatic in the darkness. Whose was the master brain behind all this? This crime to-night bore glaring evidence to the work of some far-flung, intricate and powerful organisation—the Tocsin was indubitably right in that. Was this the first concrete expression he had had of that undercurrent he had sensed of late as permeating the underworld, that he had sensed was reaching out as one of its objects for him and that—

He came suddenly without a sound to his feet, and pressed back close against the wall, his body rigid and thrown forward like one poised to spring. There was a footstep outside the door, the rasp of a key in the lock, then a faint, murky path of light as the door opened, and a man stepped forward over the threshold. The key was inserted with another rasping sound in the inner side of the lock, the door closed, the key turned and was withdrawn, thrust evidently into its possessor’s pocket—and then Jimmie Dale, silently, in a lightning flash, was upon the other, his hand at the man’s throat, the cold, round muzzle of his automatic against the other’s face. There was a choked cry, the thud as of something dropping on the floor—and then Jimmie Dale spoke.

“Put your hands up over your head!” he breathed grimly—and, as the other obeyed, his own hand fell away from the man’s throat, and in a quick, deft sweep over the other’s clothing located the bulge of a revolver, and whipped it from the man’s pocket. He pushed the man with his automatic’s muzzle back against the wall, closer to the electric-light switch. Was it Reddy Mull—or English Dick? And then Jimmie Dale laughed low, unpleasantly, as he switched on the light. He was staring into a face that was white and colourless—the face of a man with a heavy black moustache, and whose slouch hat was jammed far down over his eyes. The process of elimination made it very simple—it was English Dick.

The man blinked, and wet his lips with his tongue, and at sight of Jimmie Dale’s mask, perhaps because it suggested a community of interest, tried to force a smirk.

“What’s—what’s the game?” he stammered.

“This—to begin with!” said Jimmie Dale grimly—and, stooping, picked up from the floor a small black satchel, the object that English Dick had dropped on entering the room. “Go over to that table!” ordered Jimmie Dale curtly.

The man obeyed.

“Sit down!” Jimmie Dale was clipping off his words in cold menace.

Again the man obeyed.

Jimmie Dale, his back to the door as he faced the other across the table, snapped open the bag. It was full to the top with banknotes and securities. Under his mask his lips curled in a hard, forbidding smile. He took from his pocket the package of the bank’s securities he had found in the drawer of Forrester’s desk, and laid it in silence on the table beside the satchel; beside this again, still in silence, he placed the bottle that had contained the hydrocyanic acid, and—after an instant’s pause—spread out the sheet of note paper bearing Forrester’s forged signature.

The man’s face, white before, had gone a livid gray.

“W-what do you want?” he whispered.

“I want you to write another confession.” There was a deadly monotony in Jimmie Dale’s voice, as he tapped the paper with the muzzle of his automatic. “This one is out of date.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” faltered English Dick. “So help me, honest to God, I don’t!”

“Don’t you!” There was a curious drawl in Jimmie Dale’s voice—and then in a flash his free hand swept across the table, jerked away the other’s moustache, and pushed the slouch hat up from the man’s eyes. “I mean that the game is up—Dryden.”

There was a low cry; and the man, with working lips, shrank back in his chair.

“You cur!” The words were coming fast and hot from Jimmie Dale’s lips now. “English Dick, alias Dryden, the bank teller! So, you don’t know what I mean! Listen, then, and I’ll tell you! Six months ago you got a position in the bank. Since then you’ve forged names right and left on securities, falsified the books, and stolen cash and securities. Day by day, working in with your gang, you’ve brought the loot here, coming in disguise of course, as you’ve come to-night, for it wouldn’t do for 'Dryden’ to be seen in this neighbourhood! And you turned the loot over to Reddy Mull—by leaving it, if he didn’t happen to be around, under that loose board there in the corner.”

“My God!” The man’s face was ghastly. “Who—who are you?”

“To-day,” went on Jimmie Dale, as though he had not heard the other, “you came to the climax of the plan you had been working on for those six months—the bank was wrecked—and what little there was left you took”—he jerked his hand toward the open satchel—“replacing it at the last moment with previously prepared dummy packages. And you took it, you cur”—Jimmie Dale’s voice choked suddenly—“not only at the expense of a man’s life, but of his good name and reputation. You might have known, I do not know whether you did or not, that Forrester had some private trouble with a money lender, but I do not imagine that had anything to do with your having selected Forrester’s bank. Your object was to exploit a small bank where, with only one man from whom to hide your work, you could loot it thoroughly; and a forged confession clever enough to deceive any one in its handwriting and signature, and the man found dead from a dose of prussic acid, the empty bottle on the floor beside him, needed no other evidence to stamp him as the guilty man.”

English Dick was struggling to his feet; his eyes, in a sort of horrible fascination, on Jimmie Dale.

Jimmie Dale, pushed him savagely back into his seat. “Yes—you cur!” he said again. “You got your first fright when you found those evidences of suicide were gone—you even lost your nerve a little in your bluff with the bank examiners—and you hurried here the moment you could get away from the preliminary police investigation that followed—I was even afraid you might get here a little sooner than you did. Shall I give you the details of this afternoon and to-night? The plant was ready. You had sent for the bank examiners. You had already prepared the forged confession, and had a small package of securities ready. Forrester had gone to New York. You turned over the confession and the package of securities to your accomplice, or accomplices, to be left in Forrester’s room. I imagine that you telephoned, or sent a message, to New York to Forrester telling him that the bank examiners were in the bank, that there was something the matter, and for him to go to his rooms, and, say, meet you there before going to the bank. Your accomplice, for you established an alibi by remaining with the bank examiners, stole in after him, or even in the dark hallway stunned him with a black-jack, then forced the poison down his throat, laid him on the floor, placed the empty bottle beside him, and left the confession on the desk. The plan was very cunningly worked out. The bruise on Forrester’s head was most obviously accounted for—his head had struck, of course, against the leg of the couch—he was found lying in that position! It is strange, though, isn’t it, how sometimes the most cunning of plans go astray in the simplest and yet the most perverse of ways? Who, under the circumstances, would have thought of it! Your accomplice had simply to place a document already prepared upon the desk. Even you did not think to warn him yourself. It did not enter his head to see if there were pen and ink there with which it might have been written, or, failing that, a fountain pen in Forrester’s pocket—and there was neither the one nor the other. That’s all—except the name of the man who killed Forrester.” Jimmie Dale leaned forward sharply. “Who was it?”

English Dick wet his lips again.

“I—they—they’d kill me like—like a dog if I told,” he mumbled.

They?” The monosyllable came curt and hard.

“I don’t know,” said English Dick. “That’s God’s truth—I never knew—there’s a big gang—none of us know.”.

“But you know who worked with you in this.” Jimmie Dale was speaking through clenched teeth. “You know who killed Forrester.”

“Yes.” The man’s whisper was scarcely audible.


“Reddy—Reddy Mull.”

“Yes,” said Jimmie Dale in his grim monotone, “I thought so.”

He reached into the satchel where a small package of securities were wrapped up in a sheet of the bank’s stationery, removed the sheet of paper, and spread it out before English Dick. “Write it down!” he commanded—and the muzzle of his automatic jerked forward to touch the fountain pen in the other’s vest pocket. “Write it—all of it—your own share—Reddy Mull’s—the whole story!”

The man’s lips seemed to have gone dry again, and again and again his tongue circled them.

“I can’t!” he said hoarsely. “I daren’t—they’d kill me. And—and if they didn’t, it would send me up, and perhaps—perhaps to the chair.”

“You take your chances on that”—Jimmie Dale’s voice was low and even—“but you take no chances here—for there are none.” The automatic in Jimmie Dale’s hand edged ominously forward. “It’s Forrester’s exoneration—or you. Do you understand? And you make your choice—now.”

For an instant the man’s eyes met Jimmie Dale’s, then shifted, as though drawn in spite of himself, to the muzzle of Jimmie Dale’s automatic; and then his hand reached into his pocket for his pen.

From the pool room in front came an outburst of hand-clapping and applause—there was evidently a match of some kind going on. Jimmie Dale, his eyes on English Dick, as the latter began to write with a sort of feverish haste as though fear and a miserable desire to have done with it spurred him on, picked up the articles from the table, and placed them in the satchel. He waited silently then—and then English Dick pushed the paper toward him.

Jimmie Dale picked it up, and read it. It was all there, all of it—and the signature this time was not forged! He placed the paper in the satchel, and closed the satchel.

English Dick passed his hand across a forehead that beaded with perspiration.

“What are you going to do?” he asked under his breath.

“I’m going to see that this—and you—reaches the hands of the police,” said Jimmie Dale tersely. “We’ll leave here in a moment—by the window. There’s a patrolman who passes the end of the lane once in a while, and I expect, with the aid of a piece of cord and a pocket handkerchief as a gag, that he’ll find you there. My method may be a little crude, but I have reasons of my own for not walking into a police station with you. but before we go, there’s still that matter of—the men higher up. They needed a clever penman for this job and one who wouldn’t be recognised—and they got the best! Who brought you over from England?”

“A friend over there, one of the ‘swell ones,’ put it up to me,” English Dick answered heavily.

“Yes—and here?” prodded Jimmie Dale. “Who got you into the bank here?”

“I don’t know.” English Dick shook his head. “I reported to a man called Chester. He doped out the story I was to tell, and told me to go to the bank and apply for the job, and that it was already fixed.”

“I’d like to meet ‘Chester,’” said Jimmie Dale grimly. “Where does he live?”

“I don’t know,” said English Dick again. “I tell you, I don’t know! They’re big—my God, they’ll get me for this, if the law doesn’t! I don’t know where he lives—he always came to me. The only one I know is Reddy Mull, and—”

His voice was drowned out in a louder and more prolonged burst of applause from the pool room, which mingled shouts, cries and the thunderous banging of cue butts on the floor.

“A good shot!” said Jimmie Dale, with a grim smile.

“Yes,” said English Dick, “a good shot”—but into his voice had crept a new note, a note like one of malicious triumph.

Jimmie Dale’s lips set suddenly hard and tight. Yes, he heard now—perhaps too late—what the other saw. The uproar that had drowned out all other sounds had subsided—the door behind him had been unlocked and was now opening slowly.

And then Jimmie Dale, quick as thought is quick, his fingers closed on the satchel, hurled himself around the table and to the floor. There was the roar of a report, a flash of flame, as Reddy Mull, hand thrust in through the partially open doorway, fired—a wild scream, as the shot, meant for him, Jimmie Dale, found another mark directly behind where he had been standing—and English Dick, reeling to his feet, pitched forward over the table, carrying the table with him to the floor. It had taken the time that a watch takes to tick. Came the roar of a report again, as Jimmie Dale fired in turn—at the electric-light bulb a few feet away from him on the wall. There was the tinkle of shattering glass—and darkness. Came shouts, cries, a yell from the door from Reddy Mull, a fusillade of shots from Reddy Mull’s revolver, the rush of many feet from the pool room—and Jimmie Dale, in the blackness, dropped silently from the window to the ground.

He gained the street; and, five minutes later, blocks away, he entered the private stall of a Bowery saloon. Here, Jimmie Dale added another paper to the contents of the satchel. The characters printed, and badly formed, the paper looked like this:

             /  \
            /    \
           /      \
           \      /
            \    /
             \  /

“And I guess,” said Jimmie Dale grimly to himself, “that if I slip this to the police, the police will get—Reddy Mull.”

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook