“Box 428!” Jimmie pleaded fiercely. “Go on, man! Go on! Finish!”
“Yes!” cried the chauffeur. “John Johansson, at—”
But Jimmie Dale heard no more. There was the crash of impact as the taxicab plowed into the car that had been so craftily manoeuvered in front of it, and Jimmie Dale, lifted from his feet, was hurled violently forward with the shock, and all went black before his eyes.
THE CRIME CLUB
For what length of time he had remained unconscious, Jimmie Dale had not the slightest idea. He regained his senses to find himself lying on a couch in a strange room that had a most exquisitely brass-wrought dome light in the ceiling. That was what attracted his attention, because the light hurt his eyes, and his head was already throbbing as though a thousand devils were beating a diabolical tattoo upon it.
He closed his eyes against the light. Where was he? What had happened? Oh, yes, he remembered now! That smash on Lower Broadway! He had been hurt. He moved first one limb and then another tentatively, and was relieved to find that, though his body ached as if it had been severely shaken, and his head was bad, he had apparently escaped without serious injury.
Where was he? In a hospital? His fingers, resting at his side upon the couch, supplied him with the information that it was a very expensive couch, upholstered in finest leather. If he were in a hospital, he would be in a cot.
He opened his eyes again to glance curiously around him. The room was quite in keeping with the artistic lighting fixture and the refined, if expensive, taste that was responsible for the couch. A heavy velvet rug of rich, dark green was bordered by a polished hardwood floor; panellings of dark-green frieze and beautifully grained woodwork made the lower walls; while above, on a background of some soft-toned paper, hung a few, and evidently choice, oil paintings. There was a big, inviting lounging chair; a massive writing table, or more properly, a desk of walnut; and behind the desk, his back half turned, apparently intent upon a book, sat a man in immaculate evening dress.
Jimmie Dale closed his eyes again. There was something reassuring about it all, comfortably reassuring. Though why there should be any occasion for a feeling of reassurance at all, he could not for the moment make out. And then, in a sudden flash, the details of the night came back to him. The Tocsin’s letter—the package he was to get—the taxicab—the chauffeur, who was not a chauffeur—the chase—the trap. He lay perfectly still. It was the professional Jimmie Dale now whose brain, in spite of the throbbing, brutally aching head, was at work, keen, alert.