“Carling commit suicide! Not on your life! No; of course he didn’t! It was that cursed Gray Seal croaked him, just as sure as you sit in that chair!”
The other grunted. “Yes; but what’d the Gray Seal want to pinch a hundred thousand out of the bank for, and then give it back again the next morning?”
“What’s he done a hundred other things for to cover up the real object of what he’s after?” retorted the first speaker, with a short, vicious laugh; then, with a thump of his fist on the table: “The man’s a devil, a fiend, and anywhere else but New York he’d have been caught and sent to the chair where he belongs long ago, and—”
A burst of ragtime drowned out the man’s words. Jimmie Dale placed a fifty-cent piece and a tip beside it on his dinner check, pushed back his chair, and rose from the table. There was a half-tolerantly satirical, half-angry glint in his dark, steady eyes. It was not only the police who yelped at his heels, but every man, woman, and child in the city. The man had not voiced his own sentiments—he had voiced the sentiments of New York! And it was quite on the cards that if he, Jimmie Dale, were ever caught his destination would not even be the death cell and the chair at Sing Sing—his fellow citizens had reached a pitch where they would be quite capable of literally tearing him to pieces if they ever got their hands on him!
And yet there were a few, a very few, a handful out of five millions, who sometimes remembered perhaps to thank God that the Gray Seal lived—that was his reward. That—and she, whose mysterious letters prompted and impelled his, the Gray Seal’s, acts! She—nameless, fascinating in her brilliant resourcefulness, amazing in her power, a woman whose life was bound up with his and yet held apart from him in the most inexplicable, absorbing way; a woman he had never seen, save for her gloved arm in the limousine that night, who at one unexpected moment projected a dazzling, impersonal existence across his path, and the next, leaving him battling for his life where greed and passion and crime swirled about him, was gone!
Jimmie Dale threaded the small, crowded rooms—the interior of Marlianne’s had never been altered from the days when the place had been a family residence of some pretension—and, reaching the hall, received his hat from the frowsy-looking boy in attendance. He passed outside, and, at the top of the steps, paused as he took his cigarette case from his pocket. It was nearly a week since Carling, the cashier of the Hudson-Mercantile National Bank, had been found dead in his home, a bottle that had contained hydrocyanic acid on the floor beside him; nearly a week since Bookkeeper Bob, unaware that he had ever been under temporary suspicion for the robbery of the bank, had, equally unknown to himself, been cleared of any complicity in that affair—and yet, as witness the conversation of a moment ago, it was still the topic of New York, still the vital issue that filled the maw of the newspapers with ravings, threats, and execrations against the Gray Seal, snarling virulently the while at the police for the latter’s ineptitude, inefficiency, and impotence!