The hat dropped from Hagan’s hands to the floor, and he swayed a little.
“You—you ain’t a dick!” he stammered. “Then how’d you know about me and my name when you found the safe empty? Who told you?”
A wry grimace spread suddenly over Jimmie Dale’s face beneath the mask, and he swallowed hard. Jimmie Dale would have given a good deal to have been able to answer that question himself.
“Oh, that!” said Jimmie Dale. “That’s easy—I knew you worked there. Say, it’s the limit, ain’t it? Talk about your luck being in, why all you’ve got to do is to sit tight and keep your mouth shut, and you’re safe as a church. Only say, what are you going to do about the money, now you’ve got a four months’ start and are kind of landed on your feet?
“Do?” said the boy. “I’ll pay it back, little by little. I meant to. I ain’t no—” He stopped abruptly.
“Crook,” supplied Jimmie Dale pleasantly. “Spit it right out, kid; you won’t hurt my feelings none. Well, I’ll tell you—you’re talking the way I like to hear you—you pay that back, slide it in without his knowing it, a bit at a time, whenever you can, and you’ll never hear a yip out of me; but if you don’t, why it kind of looks as though I have a right to come down your street and get my share or know the reason why—eh?”
“Then you never get any share,” said Hagan, with a catch in his voice. “I pay it back as fast as I can.”
“Sure,” said Jimmie Dale. “That’s right—that’s what I said. Well, so long—Hagan.” And Jimmie Dale had opened the door and slipped outside.
An hour later, in his dressing room in his house on Riverside Drive, Jimmie Dale was removing his coat as the telephone, a hand instrument on the table, rang. Jimmie Dale glanced at it—and leisurely proceeded to remove his vest. Again the telephone rang. Jimmie Dale took off his curious, pocketed leather belt—as the telephone repeated its summons. He picked out the little drill he had used a short while before, and inspected it critically—feeling its point with his thumb, as one might feel a razor’s blade. Again the telephone rang insistently. He reached languidly for the receiver, took it off its hook, and held it to his ear.
“Hello!” said Jimmie Dale, with a sleepy yawn. “Hello! Hello! Why the deuce don’t you yank a man out of bed at two o’clock in the morning and have done with it, and—eh? Oh, that you, Carruthers?”
“Yes,” came Carruthers’ voice excitedly. “Jimmie, listen—listen! The Gray Seal’s come to life! He’s just pulled a break on West Broadway!”
“Good Lord!” gasped Jimmie Dale. “You don’t say!”
“The most puzzling bewildering, delightful crook in the annals of crime,” Herman Carruthers, the editor of the morning news-Argus, had called the Gray Seal; and Jimmie Dale smiled a little grimly now as he recalled the occasion of a week ago at the St. James Club over their after-dinner coffee. That was before his second debut, with Isaac Brolsky’s poverty-stricken premises over on West Broadway as a setting for the break.