“Sure, I am!”
The officers whispered for a moment together.
“We’ll try it,” decided the one who appeared to be in command. “We’re in the dark, anyhow, and the thing may be only a steer. Mabbe it’ll work—anyway, it won’t do any harm.” His hand fell heavily on Jimmie Dale’s shoulder. “Mrs. Hagan know you?” brusquely.
“Sure she does!” sniffled Larry the Bat.
“Good!” rasped the officer. “Well, we’ll make the visit with you. And you do what you’re told, or we’ll put the screws on you—see? We’re after something here, and you’ve blown the whole game—savvy? You’ve spilled the gravy—understand?”
In the darkness, Jimmie Dale smiled grimly. It was far more than he had dared to hope for—they were playing into his hands!
“But I don’t know ’bout any game,” grovelled Larry the Bat piteously.
“Who in hell said you did!” growled the officer. “You’re supposed to have snitched the lay to us, that’s all—and mind you play your part! Come on!”
It was two doors down the hall to Mike Hagan’s room, and there one of the officers, putting his shoulder to the door, burst it open and sprang in. The other shoved Jimmie Dale forward. It was quickly done. The three were in the room. The door was closed again.
Came a cry of terror out of the darkness, a movement as of some one rising up hurriedly in bed; and then Mrs. Hagan’s voice:
“What is it! Who is it! Mike!”
The table—it was against the right-hand wall, Jimmie Date remembered. He sidled quickly toward it.
“Strike a light!” ordered the officer in charge.
Jimmie Dale’s fingers were feeling under the edge of the table—a quick sweep along it—nothing! He stooped, reaching farther in—another sweep of his arm—and his fingers closed on a sheet of paper and a piece of hard gum. In an instant they were in his pocket.
A match crackled and flared up. A lamp was lighted. Larry the Bat sulked sullenly against the wall.
Terror-stricken, wide-eyed, Mrs. Hagan had clutched the child lying beside her to her arms, and was sitting bolt upright in bed.
“Now then, no fuss about it!” said the officer in charge, with brutal directness. “You might as well make a clean breast of Mike’s share in that murder downstairs—Larry the Bat, here, has already told us the whole story. Come on, now—out with it!”
“Murder!”—her face went white. “My Mike—murder!” She seemed for an instant stunned—and then down the worn, thin, haggard face gushed the tears. “I don’t believe it!” she cried. “I don’t believe it!”
“Come on now, cut that out!” prodded the officer roughly. “I tell you Larry the Bat, here, has opened everything up wide. You’re only making it worse for yourself.”
“Him!” She was staring now at Jimmie Dale. “Oh, God!” she cried. “So that’s what you are, are you—a stool-pigeon for the cops? Well, whatever you told them, you lie! You’re the curse of this neighbourhood, you are, and if my Mike is bad at all, it’s you that’s helped to make him bad. But murder—you lie!”