It was ten o’clock now, an hour since the Rat and Muggy Ladd had left Foo Sen’s. Again Jimmie Dale told himself that it was still early, that the Rat would wait for a much later hour—but at the same time he acknowledged to himself a sense of growing and premonitory uneasiness. Certainly, in any case, he had no time to lose. He turned quickly and hurried along the block that separated him from the Bowery—he had a fair idea of the haunts usually frequented in the evening by the men he sought, and, even failing to find the men themselves, there was always the chance, and a very good one, that, where Curley was known, Curley’s fifteen thousand dollar deal might be the subject of gossip which would answer his, Jimmie Dale’s, purpose quite as well.

But an hour went by—and yet another. Midnight came—and midnight had brought him nothing. It seemed as though he had combed the East Side from end to end, and he had found neither Curley, nor Haines, nor Patsy Marles—nor had he heard anything—nor had such guarded questions as he had dared to ask without involving possible disastrous consequences to “Smarlinghue,” should the Rat, after all, succeed and hear of his activities, had any result. And then, still maintaining his efforts with dogged determination, though conscious now that with the hour so late he might perhaps better return to the Sanctuary, change, say, into the clothes of Jimmie Dale, and, crediting the Rat with already having made a successful inroad on the safe, devote his energies to running down the Rat, and, if possible, to salvaging the plunder, he was in the act of entering again one of the dance halls he had already visited earlier in the evening, when one of the men he was searching for lurched out through the doorway. It was Patsy Marles, garrulous, drunk, exceedingly unsteady on his feet, and accompanied by three or four companions. They crowded out past Jimmie Dale, and gathered aimlessly on the pavement. Marles’ voice rose in earnest insobriety for what was very probably by no means the first time.

“Betcher life! Spot cash—fifteen thousand—spot cash! Sure, I saw it! Only—hic!—got one boss now. Little ol’ Reddy got the—hic!—papers from lawyer ‘safternoon. Know ol’ Grenville, don’t you—that’s him—ol’ Grenville. Come on, whatsh’s use standin’ round here doin’ nothin’!”

Jimmie Dale did not enter the dance hall—instead, scuffling hurriedly along to the next corner, he turned off the Bowery, and, choosing the darker and more dimly lighted streets and, at times, a lane or alleyway, broke a run. In the space of a little more than a second he had at last obtained the information that he had searched for vainly for over two hours. There seemed something mockingly ironical in the fact that he had been obliged to search for those two hours! What had happened in that time? Two hours! It was three hours now since the Rat had left Foo Sen’s!

He shook his head with sudden impatience at himself. He would gain nothing by speculating on possibilities! He had the information now. The one thing to do was to act upon it. So it was old Grenville’s safe! Old Grenville, the lawyer; honest old Grenville, the East Side called him, the one man, perhaps, whose word was accepted at its face value, and who was both liked and trusted everywhere in the Bad Lands—because he was honest! Jimmie Dale’s lips tightened as he ran. It was more than ordinarily dirty work, then, on the Rat’s part. Grenville was an old man, close to seventy, at a guess; and if any one had earned immunity from the depredations of the underworld it was this curious and lovable old character—honest Grenville. The man was not a criminal lawyer, he had made no enemies even in that way; he was more a paternal family solicitor, as it were, to the dregs of humanity that had crowded his queer and dingy office now, so report had it, for over forty years. He was credited with having amassed a little money, not a fortune, perhaps, for there were many fees never collected and never asked for amongst the needy, but enough to live comfortably on in the simple and unpretentious way in which old Grenville lived.

Yes, it was dirty work—miserable, dirty work, the work of a hound and a cur! And the Rat’s logic was unassailable. From Patsy Marles’ maudlin babbling it was evident that Reddy Curley had bought Haines, his partner, out; that the price was fifteen thousand dollars; and that Grenville, acting for Haines obviously, had received the purchase money from Curley, and in return had handed over what the Rat had taken to be a receipt, but what was probably in reality much more likely to have been a Bill of Sale. But in either case, it was neither Curley nor Haines who would suffer—it was old Grenville, who, if the funds were stolen and not recovered, would have to make the amount good out of his own pocket, and who, as all who knew old Grenville knew well, would unhesitatingly do so at once if it took the last cent that pocket held.

Jimmie Dale had halted before a small building on one of the cross streets near the upper end of the Bowery. There were some half dozen signs on the doorway, for the most part time worn and shabby, amongst them that of Henry Grenville, Attorney-at-Law.

There were no lights in any of the windows, but Jimmie Dale, as he tried the door, found it unlocked, and, opening it noiselessly, stepped inside. Here, a single incandescent suspended over the stair well gave a murky illumination to the surroundings. A narrow corridor, dotted with office doors, was on his left; the stairway—there was no elevator—was directly in front of him. He stood motionless for an instant, listening. There was no sound. He moved forward then, as silent as the silence around him, and began to mount the stairs. Old Grenville’s office, he knew, was at the rear of the corridor on the first landing.

It was after midnight now, quite a little after midnight. Jimmie Dale’s fingers, in the right-hand pocket of his tattered coat, closed over the stock of his automatic. Still no sound! Was he too late to forestall the Rat; or, by no means an unlikely possibility, was the Rat there now; or was—a low, muttered exclamation, that mingled surprise and bewilderment, came suddenly from Jimmie Dale’s lips. He had reached the landing, and here, from the head of the stairs, he could see a dull yellow glow thrown out into the corridor through the glass panel of the lawyer’s door.

An instant’s pause, and then, chagrined, the sense of defeat upon him, he moved forward again as silently as before. He reached the door and crouched beside it. A murmur of voices came to him from within. Jimmie Dale’s lips parted in grim irony. The game was up, of course, but he was occupying precisely the same coign of vantage that, according to the Rat, the Rat had occupied that afternoon, and if the Rat had been able, undiscovered, to see and hear, then he, Jimmie Dale, could do the same. The slim, tapering, sensitive fingers closed on the doorknob—a thin ray of light began to steal through between the door-edge and the jamb—and grew wider—and the voices, from a confused murmur, became distinct. And now, through the narrow crack of the slightly opened door, he could see inside; and he could see that, as he had already realised, he was too late, very much too late, in time only, as it were, for the post-mortem of the affair—even the police were already on the spot!

It was a curious scene! A rickety old railing across the middle of the musty, bare-floored room served to indicate that the space beyond was the old lawyer’s “private” office. And here, inside the railing, a desk, or, rather, a great, flat, deal table, spread with a red, ink-stained cloth, was littered with books and papers; while behind the table, again, stood a huge, old-fashioned safe, its door swung wide open, its erstwhile contents scattered in disorder about the floor.

Jimmie Dale’s eyes swept the interior of the room with a single, quick, comprehensive glance—and then, narrowed, travelled from one to another of the faces of the four men who were gathered around the table. He knew them all. The stocky, grizzle-haired man in the centre was a plain-clothes man from headquarters, named Barlow; at the lower end of the table Reddy Curley and Haines, his partner, faced each other, Curley drumming indifferently with his fingers on the table-top, Haines scowling and chewing his lower lip, a certain coarse brutality in both their faces that was neither pleasant nor inviting; but it was the white-haired old man, bent of form, standing at the head of the table, upon whom Jimmie Dale’s eyes lingered. Old Grenville! The man’s hand, as he raised it to pass it across his eyes, was shaking palpably; his face, kindly still in spite of its worn and haggard expression, was pale with anxiety and strain. Barlow was speaking:

“You say there’s nothing else missing, Mr. Grenville, except the sealed envelope that contained the fifteen thousand dollars given you by Mr. Curley this afternoon?”

The old lawyer shook his head.

“I can’t say,” he answered. “As I told you, I often come here at night to work. To-night a client kept me very late at my house, so it was only, I should say, a quarter of an hour ago when I reached here. I telephoned you at once, and, awaiting your arrival, I did not disturb anything, so I have not examined any of the papers yet.”

“I don’t think it’s a question of papers,” observed the Headquarters man dryly.

“There was nothing else taken then,” decided Grenville slowly; “for there was no other money in the safe at the time—in fact, I rarely keep any there.”

“Well then,” said Barlow crisply, “it’s pretty near open and shut that some one was wise to that fifteen thousand being there to-night, and it wasn’t just a lucky haul out of any old safe just because the safe looked easy.” He turned toward Curley and Haines. “Were either of you talking with any one around the East Side to-night who would be likely to make a tip of it, or pass the tip along?”

“We weren’t there at all to-night,” Curley replied. “Haines and I were out in my car, and we’d just got back when you picked us up at the store on the way up here. But, at that, I guess you’re right. We didn’t make any secret about it, and I daresay after I’d got the business tacked away safe in my inside pocket this afternoon”—he grinned maliciously at Haines—“I may have mentioned it to one or two.”

“Got it tucked away safe, have you? Own it, do you?” Haines caught him up truculently.

“Sure!” Curley had wicked, little greenish-grey eyes, and their stare was uninviting as he fixed them on his quondam partner. “If you want to grouch, go ahead and grouch! We’ve been pretty good friends for a pretty good number of years, but I ain’t a fool. Sure, it’s mine now! I didn’t ask you to employ Grenville, did I? I was satisfied to take any old piece of paper with your fist on it, saying you’d sold out to me; but no, you were for having the thing done with frills on it Well, I’m still satisfied! I came here at five o’clock this afternoon, and paid the coin over to your attorney, and I got a perfectly good little Bill of Sale for it—and that lets me out. It’s up to you and your Mister Attorney. Why don’t you ask him what he’s going to do about it, instead of trying to take it out on me the way you’ve been doing ever since Barlow told us what had happened, and—”

“Mr. Curley is perfectly right, Mr. Haines”—the old lawyer’s voice was quiet, though it trembled a little. “The title to the business is now vested in Mr. Curley, and you are entitled to look to me for compensation. I”—he hesitated an instant—“I—I hope the money may be recovered, otherwise—”

“Eh?” inquired Mr. Haines sharply.

“Otherwise,” the old lawyer went on with an effort, “I am afraid I shall have a great deal of difficulty in raising so large a sum.”

“The hell you are!” said Mr. Haines uncharitably, and leaned forward over the table. “Don’t try to come that dodge! Everybody says you’re well fixed. Everybody says you’ve got a neat little pile salted away.”

The lawyer’s face was ashen, and his lips were quivering; but there was a fine dignity in the poise of the old man’s head, and in the squared shoulders.

“Nevertheless, I am, unfortunately, telling you the truth, in spite of any rumours, or public belief to the contrary,” he said steadily. “A few thousands, a very few, is all I have ever been able to lay aside. Those are at your disposal, Mr. Haines, and the balance I promise to procure as speedily as possible; but in plain words, if this money is not recovered, and I do not say this to invite either sympathy or leniency, but because you have questioned my word, I shall have lost everything I own.”

Mr. Haines scowled.

“Well, I’m glad to know you’ve at least got enough!” he said roughly. “It sure will surprise a whole lot of people that fifteen thousand wipes Mr. Henry Grenville out!”

A flush dyed the old lawyer’s cheeks. He made as though to speak—and, instead, turned silently away from the table, his back to the others. There was silence in the room now for a moment. Again Jimmie Dale’s eyes travelled swiftly from one to another of the group—to Curley, grinning maliciously at his ex-partner again—to Haines, gnawing at his lower lip, and scowling blackly—to Barlow, obviously uncomfortable, who was uneasily tracing patterns with his forefinger on the top of the table—and back to the old lawyer, whose shoulders now, as though carrying a load too heavy for their strength, had drooped pathetically, and into whose face, in spite of a brave effort at self-control, had crept a wan and miserable despair.

“Look here!” said Barlow gruffly. “It strikes me you can settle all this some other time. It’s got nothing to do with the guy that pulled this break, and I’m losing time. Headquarters is waiting for my report. You two had better beat it; Mr. Grenville won’t mind, I guess—I’ve got your end of the story, and—”

Jimmie Dale was retreating back along the corridor—and a minute later he was in the street, and scuffling along in a downtown direction. His hands, in the pockets of his tattered coat, were clenched, and through the pallor of Smarlinghue’s make-up a dull red burned his cheeks. Old Grenville—and the Rat! The smile that found lodgment on Smarlinghue’s contorted lips was mirthless. The old man had taken it like the gentleman he was. He had not perhaps hidden the quiver of the lip—who would at seventy! It was not easy to begin life again at seventy! Old Grenville—and the Rat! Well, the game was not played out yet! There would be an accounting of that fifteen thousand dollars before the morning came, and, as between old Grenville and the Rat, it might not perhaps be old Grenville who paid!

Hurrying now, running through lanes and alleyways as he had come, Jimmie Dale headed for the Sanctuary. It was very simple now. The Rat, his work completed, would lay very low—asleep probably, in the innocent surroundings of his own room! The Rat would not be hard to find. It was necessary only that, in the little interview he proposed to have with the Rat, “Smarlinghue” should have disappeared!

He reached the tenement where, for months now, that ground floor room, opening on the small and dirty courtyard in the rear, had been his refuge, Smarlinghue’s home in the underworld, glanced quickly up and down the street to assure himself that he was not observed, then, darting into the dark hallway, he crossed it silently, unlocked the Sanctuary door, stepped through, and closed and locked the door behind him. Nor, even now, did he make the slightest sound. From the top-light, high up near the ceiling and far above the little French window whose shade was drawn, there came a faint and timid streak of moonlight. It did not illuminate the room; it but lessened the degree of blackness, as it were, giving a dim and shadowy outline to objects scattered here and there about the room—and to a darker shadow amongst those other shadows, a shadow that moved swiftly and in utter silence, a shadow that was Jimmie Dale at work.

No one had seen him enter—not that there should be anything strange in the fact that Smarlinghue should enter Smarlinghue’s own room, but it would not be Smarlinghue who went away! No one had seen him enter—it was vital now that he should not be heard moving around the room, and so invite the chance of some aimless caller in the person of a fellow-tenant, for it was no longer Smarlinghue who would be found there!

The ragged outer garments he had been wearing lay discarded in a heap on the floor, close to that section of the wall near the door where the base-board, ingeniously movable, would, in another moment or so, afford them safe hiding until such time as “Smarlinghue” should reappear in person again; from the nostrils, from beneath the lips, from behind the ears, the tiny, cleverly-inserted pieces of wax, distorting the features, had vanished; and now, over the cracked basin on the rickety washstand, the masterly-created pallor was washed rapidly away—and the thin, hollow-cheeked, emaciated face of Smarlinghue, the drug fiend, was gone, and in its place, clean-cut, clear-eyed, was the face of Jimmie Dale, clubman and millionaire.

He smiled a little whimsically, a little wanly, as he stole back across the room. It was a strange life, a dangerous life! He wondered often enough, as he was wondering now, what the end of it would be—would he find the Tocsin—or would he find death at the hands of the underworld—or judicial murder at the hands of the law for a hundred crimes attributed to the Gray Seal! Crimes! The smile grew serious and wistful, as he knelt on the floor and began to loosen the section of the baseboard in front of him. There had never been a crime committed by the Gray Seal! Yes, it was strange, bizarre, incredulous even to himself sometimes, this life of his—the strange partnership formed so long ago now with her, the Tocsin, who had prompted those “crimes” that righted a wrong, that brought sunlight into some life where there had been gloom before, and hope where there had been misery—and the love that had come—and then disaster again, and her disappearance—and his resumption once more of a dual life and a role in the underworld—and, yes, in spite of her own danger, those “calls to arms” to the Gray Seal again for the sake of others, while she refused, through love for him, through fear of the peril that it would bring him, help for herself.

He shook his head, as, the base-board removed now, he reached into the hollow beyond for the neatly-folded, expensively-tailored tweeds of Jimmie Dale. She was wrong in that. Could anything add to the peril in which he lived, as it was! If only in some way he might reach her, see her, talk to her, if only for a moment, he could make her see that, and understand, and—

A low, startled cry burst suddenly from his lips; he felt the blood ebb from his cheeks—and surge back again in a burning, mighty tide. It was dark, he could not see; but those wonderfully sensitive finger tips, that were ears and eyes to Jimmie Dale, were telegraphing a wild, mad, amazing message to his brain. The Tocsin had been here—here in the Sanctuary! She had been here—here in this room—and within the last few hours—sometime since seven o’clock that evening, when, as Jimmie Dale, he had come here to assume the role of Smarlinghue preparatory to his vigil in Foo Sen’s!

His hand, thrust in through the opening to reach for his clothes, had found an envelope where it lay on the top of the folded garments—and his hand was still thrust inside—there was no need to look—the texture of the paper was hers—hers—the Tocsin’s! The blood was racing wildly through his veins. There was a mad joy upon him—and a sense of keen and bitter emptiness. Wild thoughts, in lightning flashes, swept his brain. She must have been here, then, many times before ... she knew the Sanctuary as well as he did ... she knew the secret hiding place behind the base-board ... she had come, of course, knowing he was absent ... she might come some day thinking he was absent ... yes, why not—why not ... perhaps—perhaps that was the way ... some day she might come again....

He laughed a little in a shaken way, and drew out the letter. With a mental wrench, he forced his mind into a calmer state. It was very singular that she should have placed the letter in that hiding place! It could evidence but one thing—that the contents of the letter, unlike any she had ever written before, were not of a pressing nature, for she would know very well that it might have been many hours, days even, before he might go there for the clothes of Jimmie Dale again! What, then, did it mean? Had she decided at last to tell him all, to let him take his place beside her, share her danger, fight with her! Was that it?

He reached hurriedly into the opening again, drew out the little leather girdle, and from one of its pockets took out a flashlight. He had not dared to light the gas before; dressed, or, rather, undressed, as he was at present, and no longer Smarlinghue, he dared much less to light it now.

He tore the envelope open, and, still kneeling on the floor, the flashlight upon the pages, began to read:

“Dear Philanthropic Crook: You will be surprised to find this letter in such a place, won’t you? Yes, you are quite right, for once, as you will already have told yourself, there is no hurry—for it is too late to hurry. Listen, then! Henry Grenville’s safe—the old East Side lawyer, you know—”

He had read eagerly so far. He stared at the letter now, and the words only danced in an unmeaning jumble before him. It was not for herself, it was not that she had thrown the barriers down and was bidding him come to her; it was again another “call to arms” to the Gray Seal—and for another’s sake. And there came to Jimmie Dale a miserable disappointment, for his hope, shattered now, had been greater than he had admitted even to himself. And then he was aware that, subconsciously, it had seemed to him a most curious coincidence that the letter should be dealing with the robbery of Henry Grenville’s safe that night. Yes, certainly, it was a most curious coincidence, when he was even then on his way—to the Rat! He shrugged his shoulders in his whimsical way. Well, for once, he had forestalled the Tocsin! There could be little here that he did not already know. He began to read again, but skimming over the words and sentences hurriedly now.

“... Curley ... liquor business ... buying out partner, Haines ... this afternoon ... fifteen thousand dollars ... large bills, one-hundred, five-hundred and thousand-dollar denominations ... sealed in envelope by Grenville ... placed by Grenville in his safe ... head of one of the most successful and desperate gangs in the country ... years under cover through position occupied ... take your time, Jimmie, and be careful before you act ... rest of gang is ‘working’ Boston and New England this week ... backyard from lane, high board fence ... in cellar ... cleverly concealed door at right of coal bin ... knot in wood seventh board from wall on level with your shoulders ... short passage beyond leading to door of den ... sound-proof room ... exit through other side ... sliding panel to room above ... opened by hanging weight inside ...”

In a stunned way now, Jimmie Dale stared for a long minute at the letter in his hand—then he read it again—and yet again. And then, the flashlight out, as he tore the letter into fragments, he stared again, for a long minute—into the blackness.

It was damnable, it was monstrous, this thing that he had read; it plumbed the dregs of human deviltry—but for once the Tocsin was at fault. Of the plot that had been hatched, of those details that she described, there could be no doubt, there was no question there, and there the Tocsin, he knew, had made no mistake; but the Tocsin, yes, and those who had hatched the crime themselves, had taken no account of the possible intervention of an outsider in the person of—the Rat! There was even a sort of grim irony in it all—that the Rat should quite unconsciously have feathered his nest at the expense of a far more elaborately arranged crime than his own, and at the expense of those who were of even a more abandoned, dangerous and unscrupulous type of criminal than himself!

Jimmie Dale’s face hardened suddenly—and suddenly he stooped and pulled his clothes from their hiding place, and began to dress. For once, his inside information outreached hers. It was still—the Rat. Her letter changed nothing, save that afterwards, perhaps—well, that afterwards, perhaps, there was another, others beside the Rat, with whom an accounting would be made!

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