He drew back from the window, and, settling himself again in the big leather lounging chair, resumed the perusal of the evening paper. His eye fell on what was common to every edition now, a crime editorial—and the paper crackled suddenly under the long, slim, tapering fingers, so carefully nurtured, whose sensitive tips a hundred times had made mockery of the human ingenuity squandered on the intricate mechanism of safes and vaults. No; he was wrong—the Gray Seal had not been forgotten.
“We should not be surprised,” wrote the editor virulently, “to discover at the bottom of these abominable atrocities that the guiding spirit, in fact, was the Gray Seal—they are quite worthy even of his diabolical disregard for the laws of God and man.”
Jimmie Dale’s lips straightened ominously, and an angry glint crept into his dark, steady eyes. There was nothing then, nothing too vile that, in the public’s eyes, could not logically be associated with the Gray Seal—even this! A series of the most cold-blooded, callous murders and robberies, the work, on the face of it, of a well-organized band of thugs, brutal, insensate, little better than fiends, though clever enough so far to have evaded capture, clever enough, indeed, to have kept the police still staggering and gasping after a clew for one murder—while another was in the very act of being committed! The Gray Seal! What exquisite irony! And yet, after all, the papers were not wholly to blame for what they said; he had invited much of it. Seeming crimes of the Gray Seal had apparently been genuine beyond any question of doubt, as he had intended them to appear, as in the very essence of their purpose they had to be.
Yes; he had invited much—he and she together—the Tocsin and himself. He, Jimmie Dale, millionaire, clubman, whose name for generations in New York had been the family pride, was “wanted” as the Gray Seal for so many “crimes” that he had lost track of them himself—but from any one of which, let the identity of the Gray Seal be once solved, there was and could be no escape! What exquisite irony—yet full, too, of the most deadly consequences!
Once more Jimmie Dale’s eyes sought the paper, and this time scanned the headlines of the first page:
BRUTAL MURDER OF MILL PAYMASTER.
The crime wave still at its height.
Herman Roessle found dead near his car.
Assassins escape with $20,000.