“Where you tried to send an innocent man in your place, you hound; where you—”
“Some other way—some other way!” Carling was babbling. “Let me out of this—for God’s sake, let me out of this!”
“Carling,” said Jimmie Dale hoarsely, “I stood beside a little bed to-night and looked at a baby girl—a little baby girl with golden hair, who smiled as she slept.”
Carling shivered, and passed a shaking hand across his face.
“Take this pen,” said Jimmie Dale monotonously; “or—this!” The automatic lifted until the muzzle was on a line with Carling’s eyes.
Carling’s hand reached out, still shaking, and took the pen; and his body, dragged limply forward, hung over the desk. The pen spluttered on the paper—a bead of sweat spurting from the man’s forehead dropped to the sheet.
There was silence in the room. A minute passed—another. Carling’s pen travelled haltingly across the paper then, with a queer, low cry as he signed his name, he dropped the pen from his fingers, and, rising unsteadily from his chair, stumbled away from the desk toward a couch across the room.
An instant Jimmie Dale watched the other, then he picked up the sheet of paper. It was a miserable document, miserably scrawled:
“I guess it’s all up. I guess I knew it would be some day. Moyne hadn’t anything to do with it. I stole the money myself from the bank to-night. I guess it’s all up.
“Thomas H. Carling.”
From the paper, Jimmie Dale’s eyes shifted to the figure by the couch—and the paper fluttered suddenly from his fingers to the desk. Carling was reeling, clutching at his throat—a small glass vial rolled upon the carpet. And then, even as Jimmie Dale sprang forward, the other pitched head long over the couch—and in a moment it was over.
Presently Jimmie Dale picked up the vial—and dropped it back on the floor again. There was no label on it, but it needed none—the strong, penetrating odor of bitter almonds was telltale evidence enough. It was prussic, or hydrocyanic acid, probably the most deadly poison and the swiftest in its action that was known to science—Carling had provided against that “some day” in his confession!
For a little space, motionless, Jimmie Dale stood looking down at the silent, outstretched form—then he walked slowly back to the desk, and slowly, deliberately picked up the signed confession and the steamship ticket. He held them an instant, staring at them, then methodically began to tear them into little pieces, a strange, tired smile hovering on his lips. The man was dead now—there would be disgrace enough for some one to bear, a mother perhaps—who knew! And there was another way now—since the man was dead.