He had to get back to New York at once, and as speedily as possible! The shining face of a street clock that a short time before he had looked at, admonished him there were no moments to spare, if he would carry out his plan, his headstrong purpose—to verify or disprove a certain wild theory—which would take him where, lead to what? No matter! Above, between black shadows of tall buildings, he saw a star, bright, beautiful. Something in him seemed to leap up to it—to that light as frostily clear as her eyes! A taxi passed; he hailed it.
“How much to Jersey City?” he asked in feverish tones.
The man approximated a figure; it was large, but Mr. Heatherbloom at once got in.
“All right,” he said. “Only let her go! I’ve a train to catch.”
“You don’t want to land us in the police court, do you?” asked the chauffeur.
Mr. Heatherbloom devoutly hoped not.
Two days later, on a bright afternoon, a young man stood on the edge of a sea-wall called the Battery. It was not the Battery, commanding a view of the outgoing and incoming maritime traffic of the continent’s metropolis, but another Battery, overlooking another harbor, or estuary, landlocked save for an entrance about a mile in width. Behind him lay, not a great, but a little, city; hardly more than a big town; before him a few vessels of moderate tonnage placidly plied the main or swash channels.
The scene was tranquilizing; nevertheless the young man appeared out of harmony with it. His face wore a feverish flush; his eyes had a restless gleam. He had only a short time before come to town, entering in unconventional fashion. As the train had slackened at a siding on the outskirts he had quietly, and unperceived, slipped off the back platform of the rear car; then made his way by devious and little frequented side streets to the sea-front.
There, his eager gaze scanned the craft, moving in the open, or motionless at the distant wharfs. An expression of acute disappointment passed over his features; his eyes did not find what they sought. Had that mad flight been for nothing? Had he but run into a new kind of “pocket” here, all to no purpose?
Mr. Heatherbloom sat down; he was weary and worn. The dancing sparkles laughed at him; he did not feel like “laughing back”. Even as he leaned against the parapet a newsboy close at hand called out:
“All about the mysterious abduction! One of the miscreants traced to this city! Superintendent of police warned of his probable arrival!”
The lad looked at Mr. Heatherbloom as he shouted; that gentleman returned his gaze with unflinching stolidness.
“What abduction?” he asked.
“Beautiful New York heiress.”
The voice passed on; the fugitive was once more alone with his thoughts. If they had been wild, turbulent before, what were they now? His hands closed; at the moment he did not bemoan his own probable fate, only the fact that the clue bringing him here had been false—false!