The room was in darkness. They stood there rigid, silent, listening. Her hand found and caught his arm.
And then it came again—a low sound, the sound of a stealthy footstep just outside the window that faced on the storage yard.
A minute passed—another. The automatic at Jimmie Dale’s hip, the muzzle just peeping over the table top, held a steady bead on the window. Came the footstep again—and then suddenly, a series of low, quick tappings upon the windowpane. The Tocsin’s hand slipped away from his arm. Jimmie Dale’s set face relaxed as he read the underground Morse, and he replaced his revolver slowly in his pocket.
“The Magpie!” said Jimmie Dale, in an undertone. “What’s he want?”
“I don’t know,” she answered, in a whisper. “He never came here before. There’s a back way out, Jimmie, if you—”
“No,” he said quickly. “We’ve enemies enough, with out making one of the Magpie. He knows some one is here with you—our shadows were on the blind. Don’t queer yourself. Let him in. I’ll light the lamp.”
He struck a match, as she ran from the room, and, lifting the hot lamp chimney with the edge of his ragged coat, lighted the lamp. He turned the wick down a little, shading and dimming the room—and then, as he flirted a bead of moisture from his forehead, whimsically stretched out his hand to watch it in the lamplight.
“That’s bad, Jimmie,” he muttered gravely to himself, as he noted an almost imperceptible tremour. “Got a start, didn’t you! Under a bit of a strain, eh? Well”—grimly—“never mind! It looks as though the luck had turned Makoff and Spider Jack!”
His hand reached up to his hat, jerked the brim at a rakish angle over his eyes—and he sprawled himself out on a chair. He heard the Tocsin’s voice at the front door, and a man’s voice, low and guarded, answer her. Then the door closed, and their steps approached the room. It was rather curious, that—a visit from the Magpie! What could the Magpie want? What could there be in common between the Magpie and Silver Mag? The Magpie, alias Slimmy Joe, was counted the cleverest safe worker in the United States, barring only and always one—a smile flickered across the lips of Larry the Bat—one whose pre-eminence the Magpie, much to his own chagrin, admitted himself—the Gray Seal!
He looked up, twisting the stub of a cigarette between his grimy fingers and fumbling for a match, as the Tocsin and, behind her, the Magpie, short, slim, and wiry, shrewd-faced, with sharp, quick-glancing little black eyes, entered the room.
“’Ello, Larry!” grinned the Magpie. “Got yer breath back yet? I felt it through de windowpane when youse let go at de lamp!”
“’Ello, Slimmy!” returned Jimmie Dale ungraciously, speaking through the corner of his mouth. “Ferget it!”