It was not far to the Sanctuary, only halfway down the short block to the corner of the lane; but it seemed a distance interminable to Jimmie Dale. His brain was whirling in a chaotic turmoil; and the turmoil seemed barbed with a horrible fear that robbed him for the moment of his mental poise. It was as a man dazed, unconscious of the physical process by which he had arrived there, that he found himself standing in the Sanctuary, leaning like a man spent with effort against the door which, mechanically, he had closed behind him.

In hideous, baleful, jeering reiteration those words which she had written were racing through his brain. “I am very happy to-night, and I wanted to tell you so ... happy to-night ... happy to-night ... happy to-night.” Happy to-night—what depth of irony! Happy to-night—and they had caught her—as the “way was clearing”——with the end of peril, with the end of the miserable, hunted existence she had been forced to lead just in sight! Silver Mag—the Tocsin! And he—he, who, too, had been happy to-night, he, who had known that mighty uplift upon him, he, who had dreamed that the morrow might bring life and love and sunshine—he was facing now a blackness of despair that he had never known before. Unwittingly, if such danger as she was in could be made the greater, he had made it so. If the underworld was the implacable enemy of Silver Mag, because Silver Mag was known as the ally in the old days of Larry the Bat, and known, therefore, as the ally of the Gray Seal; so, for the same reason exactly, the police were her implacable enemy! And, whether she fell into the hands of one or the other, the end ultimately differed only in the method by which her death would be accomplished; it was murder at the hands of the Mole and his gang; it was the death chair in Sing Sing as an accomplice of the Gray Seal at the hands of the police. “Death to the Gray Seal!”——that was the slogan of the underworld. “The Gray Seal dead or alive—but the Gray Seal”—that was the fiat of the police. And both held good for Silver Mag! With the Mole alone there might have been a chance—but now, he had launched the police as well against her, had sent them to the Mole’s, for that was the first place they would raid in their hunt for the Pippin.

The sweat beads started out on Jimmie Dale’s forehead. She had discarded the character of “Silver Mag” that night in the tenement fire when he had discarded the character of “Larry the Bat”—and “Silver Mag” had never been seen again until to-night. But he, Jimmie Dale, had appeared since then as Larry the Bat—and for some reason to-night she must have found it necessary, in working out her plans to their consummation no doubt, to have assumed again the character of Silver Mag—and she had been caught! But the Mole, it was absolutely certain, if left alone, would first exhaust every means within his power of forcing from Silver Mag the information that he would naturally believe she had concerning the whereabouts of the Gray Seal, before wreaking the vengeance of the underworld upon her; but equally the Mole, if interrupted by the police, would, in a sort of barbarous rivalry, if he, Jimmie Dale, knew the underworld at all, never surrender Silver Mag—alive. It would be the old cry, hideously worded, as he had heard it that night of the long ago in the attack on the old Sanctuary—the Gray Seal and Silver Mag were their “meat!” Something like a moan was wrung from Jimmie Dale’s lips. With the police out of it there would have been time; with the police a factor, granted even that the Mole gave her up, her death was certain.

The mind works swiftly. An eternity seemed bridged as he stood there against the door, his hands pressed to his temples—in reality scarcely a second had passed. Time! It was like a clarion call, that word, clearing his brain, lashing him into instant action. There was time, a small, pitifully inadequate margin, but yet a margin—the few minutes left before Carruthers would have the police hammering at the Mole’s door. There was a chance, still a chance to save her life. And if he succeeded in getting her away from the Mole’s—what then! It would be touch and go! What of the afterwards—a means of retreat—a temporary sanctuary? Yes, yes—he must think of everything!

He was working with mad speed now, stripping off his clothes, delving into that secret hiding place behind the movable section of the base-board near the door. And now the gas, with its poverty-stricken, meagre, yellow flame, illuminated the place dimly—and Jimmie Dale, with his make-up box and a cracked mirror, worked against the flying minutes. There was only one way to go—as Larry the Bat. It would give the Mole and the underworld nothing to work on afterwards if Larry the Bat went to the rescue of Silver Mag; and if he won through there would then still be “Smarlinghue’s” sanctuary, this place here, as a temporary refuge. The transformation to Larry the Bat stole an extra minute or two from the priceless store, but it was the only way—to risk it as Smarlinghue or Jimmie Dale, to risk recognition, would be the act of a fool, for it would render abortive the initial success, if, by any means, he could succeed even to that extent. Thank God for the circumstances that, prior to this, had led him to duplicate Larry the Bat’s disreputable apparel; thank God for one chance of life—for her—that this afforded now.

The gas was out again, the room was in darkness. Through the little French window, and hugged close against the wall of the tenement, and through the loose Aboard in the fence that gave egress to the lane, Jimmie Dale, as Larry the Bat now, slunk along. And then, in the lane, he broke into a run. And now, an added peril came—a glimpse of Larry the Bat by any of gangland’s fraternity, man or woman, and it would be the end! His position now was analogous to hers as Silver Mag before she had been caught! There would be no parley—it would be the end! But that was the chance he took, the only chance there was—for her.

But Jimmie Dale knew the East Side. By alleys and lanes, through yards and over fences, Jimmie Dale made his way along; and when forced into the open to cross a street, it was a dark, ill-lighted section that was chosen, and where for a short distance here and there he must needs keep to the street he held deep in the shadows of the buildings, crouching in doorways to avoid passers-by. It took time—he dared not calculate how long. Carruthers was not the man to let the grass grow under his feet! Carruthers would probably, before leaving home, have telephoned some Headquarters’ man to meet him—the detective would have telephoned Headquarters from Melinoff’s—and after that it would not take the police long to reach the Mole’s!

It took time, this tortuous threading of the East Side—he did not know how long it had taken—but at last, as he swung into a long, black, and very narrow alleyway, he drew a quick breath of relief. So far, at least, he was ahead of the police. It was still and silent, there was no sound of any disturbance, and the Mole’s now was only a little way ahead. He stole forward noiselessly. It was very quiet—much more quiet even than usual in that far from savoury neighbourhood. He remembered, with a grim smile of satisfaction, that the Wowzer had explained there was to be no crowding for front seats for fear of attracting the attention of the police. It had been very thoughtful of the Mole to pass that word around—very! With the underworld, prompted by curiosity and seething with hate, swarming here, the single chance he, Jimmie Dale, had of reaching her would have been swept away. He paused now, his lips set hard, crouched by the fence that separated the Mole’s backyard from the alleyway. His plan was simple; but it depended for its ultimate success almost entirely on his ability to secure an instant means of disappearance for the Tocsin the moment she was outside the Mole’s walls. That he could find her, that he could get her out of the house was another matter—he could only trust to his wits and nerve in that respect. But if he succeeded in that, then—he moved silently a little further up the lane, crossed to the other side and halted again, this time before the back door of a shed. In an instant his picklock was at work; in another he had opened the door a bare fraction of an inch. His lips grew tighter, as he retraced his steps to the Mole’s fence. If that shed were ever needed at all, there would not be time to fumble in the dark for knob or latch—and there would be no necessity for that fumbling now! From the shed there was a very sure means of escape across a small intervening yard, and out through an areaway into the street, for the shed was one of the many entrances to Foo Sen’s, a place with which he was very intimately acquainted—all this, of course, provided that, if the Tocsin were seen to enter the shed, some one held the pursuers back long enough to afford her time to reach the street.

Jimmie Dale shrugged his shoulders, as he opened a low gate in the fence silently and stepped through, into the yard beyond, leaving the gate open behind him. He was not a fool, blinded to what probably lay ahead! He could not hope to reach the Tocsin, much less effect her rescue, without warning the inmates of this house that loomed up before him now, without a fight with the Mole and the Mole’s gangsters. It was not likely that he could reach the shelter of that shed, but the Tocsin could, and, once inside, throwing away her cloak and wig, “Silver Mag” would disappear, and after that there was the Sanctuary, and then her own brave wits. There came a queer twist to Jimmie Dale’s lips, and then a shrug of his shoulders again. It was not likely to be the ending to the night that he had thought it might be when sitting there in Bristol Bob’s only a few short hours ago!

Faint streaks of light through the interstices of a shuttered window showed just in front of him, as he stole forward across the yard. Window or back door, it mattered little to Jimmie Dale now, so that he could gain an entry into the house unobserved. It was very quiet—even ominously quiet—that impression came to him suddenly again. The quarter here was full of dives and gambling hells and resorts frequented by the worst in crimeland—but it seemed that the Mole’s injunction had been obeyed to the letter! It boded little good—for her! Jimmie Dale’s face, under the grime of Larry the Bat’s make-up, grew white and set, as he approached the window. God in Heaven, was he already too late! The Mole, with his little tobacco shop in front as a blind, and his rooms above rented to “lodgers,” thus housing the gang of Apaches that worked under his leadership, had had every opportunity, once the Tocsin was in his power in there, of doing as he would. And then another thought came flashing quick upon him. If they had gone that far, if she were dead, they must have discovered that under the cloak and the gray, straggling hair of Silver Mag—was Marie LaSalle. He forced a grip of iron upon himself, fighting mentally like a madman with himself for his self-control. The night with every passing moment seemed yawning wider and wider before him in a chasm that threatened ruin, and disaster, and the wreckage of everything that in life was worth the living, and—no,’ Not yet! The luck had turned! She was there! Silver Mag was there! There! And safe so far!

The window was shoulder high. He was peering in through the blind. There was no light in the room itself, but a faint glow came in through the open doorway of a lighted room beyond—enough to enable him to make out a woman’s form, the grizzled hair streaming over the threadbare cloak, as she lay on a cheap cot across the room, her face to the wall, her hands bound together behind her back.

It was Jimmie Dale working with all the art he knew; now; and those slim, sensitive, wonderful fingers were swift and silent as they had never been before. A steel jimmy loosened the shutters, and they swung apart with out a sound. He could see better now—see, at least, that she was alone in the room. He tapped softly on the window pane. It was too dark to see her face, but he saw her raise her head quickly, and then, evidently, quick to meet an emergency as she always was, rise from the cot and steal to the edge of the open door. He was working at the window now. A fever of anxiety was him—it seemed that his fingers stumbled, that they lost their cunning, that an eternity passed as she stood there apparently on guard by the door, her bound hands behind her back like some piteous appeal to him to hurry—to hurry—and, in the name of all that life meant to both of them, to make haste.

And now cautiously, inch by inch, he was raising the window; and in another moment, in obedience to his whisper, the bound wrists were thrust within his reach, and he was severing the cords with his knife.

“Thank God!” breathed Jimmie Dale fervently. “Now jump—across the yard—the door of Foo Sen’s shed—it’s open—quick—”

There came a sudden crash from the front of the house, a sudden turmoil from within, a burst of shouts, a chorus of yells. The police! And now another shout, another burst of yells—from the rear—from the lane! Jimmie Dale’s lips were like a thin, straight line. She was free from the house now, standing beside him here in the darkness. He reached swiftly up and closed the shutters—left open they invited immediate attention. His mind was working in lightning flashes. The police were at the front and rear, of course—they would not raid the front and leave the rear unguarded! But why the shouts out there in the lane—why had they not rushed in at once—and why now that shot! It was followed by another, and still another—and then a fusillade of them, as though the shots were returned.

“Quick!” he whispered again, and led the way toward the gate in the fence. The police would be pouring out of the house from the back door in a minute—the only chance was a dash for it. His mind was groping now, bewildered. What did it mean? The police who had obviously been detailed to the lane at the rear of the Mole’s were fighting now—with whom—why? But the fight was working further on down the lane in the opposite direction from that shed door. “Quick!” he said again. “The shed door—on the other side—quick!”

Together they darted into the lane. From behind, the back door of the Mole’s house was flung open, and there came the rush of feet. From down the lane the short, vicious tongue-flames of revolvers stabbed through the black. But in the darkness, save for those quick, myriad flashes like gigantic fireflies winking in the night, he could see nothing. They were racing, racing like mad, he and this form beside him for whose safety he prayed so wildly, so passionately in his soul now. It was only a step further—just another one—and the police, coming out of the Mole’s, had not reached the gate yet. Just another step—and then a bullet, straying from the fight down there along the lane, drummed past his ear in an angry buzz—and the form beside him lurched heavily, stumbled, and pitched forward. And, with a low, broken cry, Jimmie Dale swung out a supporting arm, and pushing the shed door open with his elbow, gained the interior, and lowered his burden gently, a dead weight now, to the floor.

And then Jimmie Dale sprang to the door, and swung a heavy bolt that was there into place; then, running across the shed, he locked the other door as well. It was, perhaps, needless precaution. No one had seen them enter here, and there was little chance of the police developing any interest in the shed; while from the other side—Foo Sen’s—the fact that there was a police battle in the lane would only cause the inmates of the dive to give the shed and lane the widest possible berth!

It had taken scarcely a second to lock the doors, and now he knelt beside a form that was ominously still upon the floor, and called her name over and over again.

“Marie! Marie! Marie!” he whispered frantically.

There was no answer—no movement. The strong, steady hands shook, those marvellous fingers, usually so deft and sure, faltered now as they loosened the cloak and threw the hood back over the wig of tangled, matted hair. It was not the darkness alone that would not let him see—there was a mist and a blur before his eyes. And now he loosened the heavy wig itself to give her relief—she would have no further need of that, for it would not be as Silver Mag that she left here—if she left here at all—no, no!—his mind seemed breaking—she would leave here, she must—yes, yes, she was breathing now—she was not dead—not dead!

He wrenched his flashlight from his pocket. To find the wound and stop the flow of blood! The ray shot out—there was a cry from Jimmie Dale—and like a man distraught he reeled to his feet—and like a man distraught stared at the upturned face, ghastly white under the flashlight’s glare.

It was the Pippin.

The wig of grizzled hair that he had unconsciously been holding dropped from Jimmie Dale’s hand, and his hand went upward to his temple. Was he mad! Was this joy, relief, rage or fury that, surging upon him, was robbing him of his senses! The Pippin! How could it be the Pippin! The cloak with its hood, and the long, gray matted wig were very like Silver Mag’s—very like Silver Mag’s! The Pippin! The Pippin!—one-time actor who had murdered old Melinoff, the old-clothes dealer! No—he was not mad! Dimly, his mind groping in the darkness, he began to see.

The Pippin’s eyes opened.

“Who’s there?” he demanded weakly.

Jimmie Dale, without a word, leaned forward, and threw the ray of light upon his own face.

A queer smile flickered across the Pippin’s lips; his voice, weak as it was, was debonair and careless.

“Well, we nearly got you, Larry—at that! You fell for it, all right. Only—only some one”—his voice weakened still farther—“must have spilled the beans—to the—police.”

Jimmie Dale made no answer. His lips were thinned and tight together. It was plain enough now. It had been a plant to get him—to get Larry the Bat, who was known to the underworld to be the Gray Seal—to get the Gray Seal through an appeal to the Gray Seal’s loyalty toward his pal, Silver Mag! A plant, devilish enough in its ingenuity—Silver Mag impersonated—the “news” of her capture spread broadcast through the underworld on the chance that it would reach the ears of Larry the Bat, and tempt Larry the Bat into the open—as it had done! He knew now why the Pippin had gone to Melinoff’s—old Melinoff’s stock, more than any other dealer’s, would be the most likely to supply the Pippin with the garments that, if not too closely inspected, would pass muster for Silver Mag’s. He knew now why the underworld, believing what it had been told, had been warned to keep away from the Mole’s—he knew now that it was because he was to have no inkling that he was walking into a baited trap.

He had torn the Pippin’s clothing loose, found the bullet hole in the left side, perilously near the heart, and was striving now to staunch the other’s wound. The man had little call for mercy, but at least—

The Pippin pushed his hand away.

“It’s no use,” said the Pippin. “I’m—I’m done for. But—but I don’t understand. When you came to the window, I went to the door and tipped them off that you were there, and the gang that was waiting started around into the lane so that you wouldn’t get any chance to make a break that way. I—I don’t understand. Where—where did the police come from?”

“I sent them—from Melinoff’s,” said Jimmie Dale grimly.

The Pippin came up on his elbow.

“You!” he gasped. “You—you know what happened there—you were wise to everything all the time?”

“No,” said Jimmie Dale. “I only knew you had murdered Melinoff. You left one of your cuff links there.”

“Did I?” said the Pippin. He sank back on the floor again. “I didn’t know it. It—it must have fallen out of my shirt when I undressed. I came away wearing women’s things, and carrying my own clothes in a bundle.” He laughed shortly, huskily. “That’s what was the matter with Melinoff. It was the old fool’s own fault! I didn’t want to hurt him! He didn’t understand at first when I was pawing all his stuff over, but when he saw me try the things on, and tumbled that I was—was going to play Silver Mag, he said he wouldn’t stand for it. Ha, ha! Silver Mag!” The Pippin’s voice had taken on a queer mumbling note, and his mind seemed to be functioning suddenly in a half-wandering way. “Some role, Silver Mag! I was the star to-night! You remember Silver Mag—how she used to go around in the old days and hand out the silver coins, never a bill, just coins, to the families whose men were doing spaces up the river in Sing Sing? She kept old Melinoff’s wife going while he was in limbo—that’s what he said. I didn’t want to hurt the old fool, but he wouldn’t keep his mouth shut. Ha, ha! Silver Mag! It was some play on the boards to-night! Clever brain, the Big Fellow’s got! It wasn’t any good if Silver Mag and Larry the Bat were together, but Silver Mag was seen buying a ticket and getting on a train for Chicago last night—and last night, later than that, the Gray Seal sent the Forrester stuff to the police—so they couldn’t have been together this evening unless he went afterwards to Chicago, too—and he didn’t do that because all the trains were watched. It was the biggest chance that ever came across of getting the Gray Seal in a trap. Some stage setting—some play—clever brain that—”

The voice trailed off. Outside there was quiet now, save for the crunch of an occasional footstep. The police who, as Jimmie Dale understood quite clearly now, had run into the Mole’s gang as the two converged at the rear of the Mole’s house, had evidently now got the better of the gangsters. And that convergence, too, explained why the Pippin had accompanied him so meekly toward the shed—the Pippin’s one aim and object at that moment had been to avoid the police! He leaned suddenly forward over the man—the Pippin was going fast now. There was one thing yet, a thing that was vital, paramount, above all others.

“Pippin,” he said quietly, “you’re going out. Who put up this plant? It wasn’t the Mole, he’s not big enough, he’s only a tool like yourself. Who was it?”

“No—not the Mole,” murmured the Pippin. “He—he isn’t big enough. Clever brain—clever brain—clever—”

“Who was it? Answer me, Pippin!”

“Yes,” said the Pippin, and the queer smile came again, “I—I’ll tell you. It—it was some one”—Jimmie Dale could scarcely hear the words—“some one—who will—get you yet!”

The smile was still on the Pippin’s lips—but the man was dead. Jimmie Dale stood up again, and then Jimmie Dale, too, smiled; but it was a grim smile, hard and ominous. In his mind he had answered his own question.

It was that unseen hand of last night—only to-night the challenge had been direct. Well, he would pick up the gauntlet again—and at the same time, perhaps, add a little “atmosphere” to Carruthers’ scoop! From his pocket came the thin, metal insignia case; and, lifting it with the tiny tweezers, moistening the adhesive side with his tongue, Jimmie Dale stooped down and fastened a gray seal on the floor by the Pippin’s side.

And then Jimmie Dale crept out of the shed toward Foo Sen’s, and crept into the dark areaway, and, as he had come, by alleyways and lanes, and through yards, and by ill-lighted, unfrequented streets, returned again to the Sanctuary—alone.

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