Twenty minutes later, well along the East River front, in an unsavoury and deserted neighbourhood, Jimmie Dale was crouched before the door of a small building that seemed built half on the shore edge, and half on an old and run-down pier that extended out into the water. The building itself was little more than a storage shed, and originally had probably laid claims to nothing more pretentious—to-day it served as warehouse and office for Hunchback Joe’s “business,” and, above, for Hunchback Joe’s living quarters. Jimmie Dale glanced around him sharply—not for the first time. There were no other buildings in his immediate vicinity, and such as could be seen loomed up only as black, shadowy, distant shapes—warehouses and small factories, for the most part, and empty and deserted now at night. It was intensely black—only a twinkling light here and there from a passing craft on the river, and the glow from thousands of street lamps that, like some strange aerial illumination, hovered over the opposite shore. The shed itself, windowless at least in front, was as silent, as deserted, and as black as all around it.

Jimmie Dale’s hand stole into his pocket, produced a black silk mask, adjusted the mask over his face—and then the deft, slim fingers were at work with a little steel instrument on the door lock. A moment more, and the door swung silently inward, slowly, inch by inch. He listened intently. There was no sound. He stepped inside, and silently closed and locked the door behind If Hunchback Joe had not returned yet, it was necessary that Hunchback Joe should find the door as he had left it—locked! Again Jimmie Dale listened—and then the ray of his flashlight circled the place. A miscellany of ship’s junk was piled without any attempt at order all over the place; a board partition with two small windows, one on each side of the door, ran from side to side of the shed about a third of the way up its length; and in the sides of the shed itself were also two small, narrow windows—too small and too narrow, Jimmie Dale noted grimly, for the passage of a man’s body.

He moved forward cautiously, though he was almost certain that he was ahead of Hunchback Joe. He, Jimmie Dale, had come without an instant’s loss of time from Baldy Jack’s, and it was more than an even chance that Hunchback Joe would have remained somewhere in the neighbourhood until the affair was over. It would take some little time—not until after the police had restored order—to discover that the attempt upon Klanner had been abortive, that Klanner’s body was not lying there dead on the floor. But after that—Jimmie Dale opened the door of the partition stealthily, slipped through, and, as his flashlight swept around again, nodded his head sharply—yes, he had thought so!—there was a means of communication here—a telephone. Well then, after that, Hunchback Joe would set every crook and tool over whom he had any control at work to find Klanner. But that meant different men at work in many different directions, and there must therefore be some central spot where Hunchback Joe could be instantly reached and reports made to him should Klanner be found—and what better place, what more likely place than here in the security of his own lair! Yes, Hunchback Joe, since he, Jimmie Dale, was now satisfied that the other had not yet returned, would be back here, and, in all probability, long before midnight. Midnight! Why had the Tocsin set midnight, waited for midnight as the hour for the Secret Service raid? Did she have a hidden purpose in that? Was it possible she knew that some one beside Hunchback Joe would also be here at that hour—that Clarke might be here, too! Well, why not! There might well be need for a conference between Clarke and his unholy chief of staff! There might—Jimmie Dale frowned savagely. His mind was running riot! He had not come here to speculate on possibilities; for, whatever might happen, there was definite and instant work to do.

The white ray of the flashlight played steadily now around him. The place evidently served as the office; it was partitioned off again in exactly the same manner from the rear of the shed, making an oblong enclosure the width of the shed one way, and a good fifteen feet the other. It was electric-lighted, and contained a battered table in lieu of desk, upon which stood the telephone; there were several chairs, and a safe, whose scratched, marred, and apparently ramshackle exterior did not disguise from Jimmie Dale the fact that it was of the finest and most modern make.

A rough, wooden stairway led above. Jimmie Dale mounted this, found that it gave on a crudely furnished, attic-like bedroom, and then descending again, he opened the rear door of the partition, and flashed his light around the back of the shed. There were a few packing cases here—that was all. The shed was evidently built out to the extreme end of the pier, judging from its depth; and there had been side doors, but these were boarded up and bore evidence of having been long out of use—and there were no windows.

Jimmie Dale returned now to the front of the shed.

“Under the sail-cloth in left corner,” she had written. Yes, here it was! He stooped down, a twisted smile on his lips, and, taking from his pocket the packet of papers and the blackjack, tucked them under several folds of the cloth. “Unto Caesar!” she had said. Well, he had rendered back to “Caesar” the things that were “Caesar’s.” He straightened up. The Secret Service men would know where to look—she would have seen to that! “Unto Caesar!” The smile died away, and an angry red tinged Jimmie Dale’s cheeks—he was picturing again that scene in Klanner’s room, the bestial deviltry of that deformed and hideous creature who, to cover up his own guilt, was railroading an innocent man to death. “Unto Caesar!”—yes, there was grim justice here—but that was not enough! Justice might and would have its turn, but before then there was another sort of justice, too!

He went back into the office, and sat down in a chair beside the table where he could command the door. He laid his flashlight, the ray on, upon the table, took from his pocket the metal insignia case, lifted out a seal, dropped it by means of the tweezers on his handkerchief, folded the handkerchief carefully, and replaced the insignia case and handkerchief in his pocket; then, switching off the flashlight, he restored that, too, to his pocket.

It was dark now again—and silent. There was no sound, save the gentle lap of water against the pier, and the distant, muffled murmur of traffic from one of the great bridges that spanned the river. Jimmie Dale’s automatic was in his hand. There was one man who stood between the woman whom he loved and her happiness, one man, who had driven her from her home and by every foul art and craft had sought to take her life, one man, one man only—Marre, alias Clarke. And once Clarke were run to earth, she was free forever—no one else had any incentive in hounding her to her death.

Well, there was one man who knew where Marre was—Hunchback Joe. And, come what might, Hunchback Joe would tell him, Jimmie Dale, to-night where Marre was! He was not so sure as the Tocsin that Hunchback Joe would talk to the police; he was sure that Hunchback Joe would talk—to the Gray Seal. That was all. That was what he was waiting for here now in the darkness before the police came—for Hunchback Joe.

Time passed—a half hour—an hour. It was getting perilously close to the time when the Secret Service men would be pounding at the door out there, and the margin of time left for that grim interview with Hunchback Joe was narrowing rapidly; but there was a strange, calm, cold patience possessing Jimmie Dale—the man would come, and come in time—he knew that, knew it as he knew that he sat there and lived and breathed.

The silence was oppressive, heavy; it seemed to palpitate in rhythm with the lap of the water against the pier. The minutes dragged by, another five of them—and then suddenly Jimmie Dale sat rigidly forward in his chair. The front door had not been unlocked or opened, but there was the sound of a footstep now—from the rear section of the shed, where there had appeared to be no entrance! The footstep came nearer—the door of the partition opened—there was the click of the electric-light switch—the light came on—and then a low, savage, startled oath came from the doorway.

Jimmie Dale did not move—his automatic was covering the misshapen, toad-like figure of Hunchback Joe, as the other stood just inside the room. For a moment neither spoke—then Hunchback Joe laughed suddenly in cool contempt.

“What’s the game?” he demanded. “You don’t need any mask on here—I deal with your kind every day. What do you want?”

Jimmie Dale rose to his feet.

“This—to begin with!” he said—and, crossing the room, felt through the other’s pockets, and possessed himself of the man’s revolver. “Now go over there, and sit down at that table!”

Hunchback Joe laughed contemptuously again, as he obeyed; but there was a hint of deadly menace in his voice as he spoke.

“Go to it—while you can!” he snarled. “You’ve got the drop on me. Well, what do you want?”

Jimmie Dale followed, and faced the other across the table. Hunchback Joe’s eyes, with that curious, unpleasant trick of which the man seemed possessed, were blinking ceaselessly.

“I want to give this back to you,” said Jimmie Dale quietly—and flung the roll of bills that he had taken from Klanner’s trunk down upon the table.

Hunchback Joe’s eyes ceased to blink.

“Why, thanks!” grinned Hunchback Joe. “You’re a queer sort of a night marauder, you are! Sure this is for me, and that you aren’t making a mistake?”

“Quite sure,” said Jimmie Dale, still quietly. “It’s yours. It’s the money you planted in Klanner’s trunk a couple of hours ago.”

“I never heard of Klanner,” said Hunchback Joe.

“It’s simply the evidence that that isn’t all I found in the trunk,” said Jimmie Dale. “There was a packet of papers, and the blood-stained blackjack with which Jathan Lane was murdered in the bank this afternoon.”

“My God, the man’s mad!” muttered Hunchback Joe under his breath. “I’m up against a maniac!”

Jimmie Dale had taken his handkerchief from his pocket, and, carrying it to his mouth, had moistened the adhesive side of the little seal. His voice rasped, as his hand went down upon the table.

“You blot on God’s earth!” he said hoarsely. “That’s enough of that! The buttons are off the foils to-night, Hunchback Joe!”

For the second time, Hunchback Joe’s eyes had ceased to blink. He was staring at the gray seal on the table top in front of him, and now in spite of his effort to maintain nonchalance, a whiteness had come into his face.

“You!” he shrank back a little in his chair. “The Gray Seal!”

Jimmie Dale’s lips were thin and drawn tight together. He made no answer.

It was Hunchback Joe who broke the silence.

“What’s your price?” he asked thickly. “I suppose you’ve got those—those other things, or at least you know where they are.”

“Yes,” said Jimmie Dale grimly, “I know where they are.”

“Well”—Hunchback Joe hesitated, fumbling for his words—“we’re both tarred with the same brush, only you’re worse than I am. I’ve got to pay your price, of course. Make it reasonable. I haven’t got all the money in the world. Tell me where those things are, and name your figures.”

“My figure”—Jimmie Dale was clipping off his words—“is a little information. A trade, Hunchback Joe—mine for yours. I want to know where Peter Marre, alias Clarke, is?”

Hunchback Joe drew back from the table with a jerk. The whiteness in his face had changed to an unhealthy, leaden gray. He shook his head.

“I don’t know,” he said. “That’s straight—I’ve heard of Marre, of course, everybody has, he’s a lawyer; but I never heard of Clarke, and that’s—”

“A lie!” Jimmie Dale cut in, an ugly calm in his voice “You—”

But Jimmie Dale, too, was interrupted. The telephone on the table was ringing. His automatic covering Hunchback Joe, he pulled the instrument toward him, and lifted the receiver from the hook.

“Hello!” he said gruffly. “What’s wanted?”

A voice responded in feverish excitement:

“Say, dat youse, Joe? Dis is Hoppy Meggs. Say, de fly cops has got tipped off; dey’re on de way down to yer place now. Youse want to beat it on de jump!”

“Wait a minute!” said Jimmie Dale. He passed the instrument over to Hunchback Joe. “It’s for you,” he said, with a queer smile.

Hunchback Joe put the receiver to his ear—and a moment later, without a word in reply, returned it to the hook. But he had risen from his seat, and, swaying on his feet, was gripping at the table edge for support.

“I could have told you that,” said Jimmie Dale evenly; “but you’ve got it now from a source that you won’t question. I told you the buttons were off the foils tonight, but you don’t seem to realise it yet. Three nights ago you laid a trap for me—and the Pippin died. Do you understand what I mean now by naked foils? You’ve one chance for life—and that’s to answer my question. But I’ll play fair with you, and tell you that I’m going to see that the police get you even if you do answer. Those documents and that blackjack are here in this place, and the Secret Service men know where to find them.” Jimmie Dale’s watch was in his hand. “It’s five minutes to twelve. They’ll be here at midnight. I’ve got to make my getaway before they come. I need two minutes for that, including locking you in so that you can’t get away. That leaves you three minutes to make up your mind. If you answer, you can have whatever chance your lawyers can get you; if you refuse, you and I settle our score before I leave. It’s three minutes against a possible commutation of sentence to life imprisonment. Where is Marre?

The misshapen, shrunken thing was rocking on its feet. There was no answer.

“There are two minutes left,” said Jimmie Dale in a monotone.

The man’s eyes, coal black, hunted, the pupils gone, swept the room. His lips were working; his hands, clenching and unclenching, clawed at the table.

One!” said Jimmie Dale.

There was a scream of ungovernable fury, the crash of the toppling table, and, reaching out with both hands for Jimmie Dale’s weapon, Hunchback Joe hurled himself forward—but quick as the other was, Jimmie Dale was quicker, and with his left hand, palm open, pushed full into the man’s face, he flung the other back.

And then there came a cry—a cry in a woman’s voice;


It was the Tocsin’s voice from the rear doorway of the office. It was her voice; Jimmie Dale could never mistake it even in its startled cry—but he did not look. His eyes were on the man who was standing on the other side of the overturned table, whose beard where he, Jimmie Dale, had grasped the other’s face had been wrenched away, and whose shrunken figure seemed to tower up now in height, and whose deformity was a padded coat, awry now because of the erect and upright posture in which the man stood. It was Clarke, the master of disguise, who once had impersonated Travers, the chauffeur; it was Marre—Wizard Marre.

There was a ghastly smile on the man’s face.

“Marre,” he said. “Yes—Marre. But you never knew it, did you, Miss LaSalle—until now! Well, now is time enough for you, and far too soon for me!” He flung out his hand in a queer, impotent gesture, as he threw back his shoulders. “But I would like to be thought a good loser. I congratulate you, Miss LaSalle!” Again his hand was raised in gesture—and with lightning swiftness, before Jimmie Dale could intervene, swept to his vest pocket and was carried to his mouth. “And so I drink to your success, and—”

A glass vial rolled away upon the floor—and Jimmie Dale, with a bound, had caught the swaying figure in his arms. There was a tremor through the man’s form—then inertness. He lowered the other to the ground. Wizard Marre was dead. It was the colourless liquid of the old Crime Club, instantaneous in its action that—

Jimmie Dale swept his hand over his masked face, and pulled the mask away, and looked up. She, the Tocsin; yes, it was the Tocsin; yes, it was Marie—only the beautiful face was deadly pale—it was the Tocsin who was standing over him, shaking him frantically by the shoulder.

“Jimmie! Quick! Quick!” she cried. “The Secret Service men! Don’t you hear them? Quick! This way!”

There was a crash, a pound upon the street door. She had caught his hand, and was pulling him forward now out into the rear of the shed. There was a light from the office doorway—enough to see. One of the packing cases was tipped over, and, on hinges, made a trap door. A short ladder led downward to where, a few feet below, two boats were moored.

“I came this way. I followed him,” she said. “Quick—Jimmie!”

It took an instant, no more, to swing her through the opening, but as he lowered her down and her hair brushed his cheek, there came a quick half sob to Jimmie Dale’s lips.

“Mark!” he whispered. “Marie—at last!”

Came the rip and tear and rend of wood, the thud of a falling door from the front of the shed, the rush of feet—but Jimmie Dale was in the boat now, and the packing case above was swung back into place.

“Right ahead, Jimmie!” she breathed. “The planks at the end of the pier swing aside—yes, there—no, a little to the right—yes!”

The boat shot out into the river—farther out—and the pier and shed merged into the shadows of the shore line and were lost.

And then Jimmie Dale let the oars swing loose. She was crouched in the bottom of the boat close beside him. He bent his head until his lips touched her hair, and lower still until his lips touched hers. And a long time passed. And the boat drifted on. And he drew her closer into his arms, and held her there. She was safe now, safe for always—and the road of fear lay behind. And into the night there seemed to come a great quiet, and a great joy, and a great thankfulness, and a wondrous peace.

And the boat drifted on.

And neither spoke—for they were going home.


This is PG text.

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