And then, with sudden decision, taking his hesitation, as it were, by the throat, Jimmie Dale hurried on again—to the Sanctuary. At most, it could delay him but another fifteen minutes, and by half-past twelve, or a quarter to one at the latest, he would be at Spider Jack’s.
Disdaining the secrecy of the side door on the alley, for who had a better right or was better known there than Larry the Bat, a tenant of years, he entered the tenement by the front door, scuffled up the stairs to the first landing, and let himself into his disreputable room. He locked the door behind him, lighted the choked and wheezy gas jet, in a single, sharp-flung glance assured himself that the blinds were tightly shut, and, kneeling in the far corner, threw back the oilcloth and lifted up the loose section of the flooring beneath. He reached inside, fumbling under the neatly folded clothes of Jimmie Dale, and in a moment laid his leather girdle with its kit of burglar’s tools on the floor beside him; and beside that again an electric flashlight, a black silk mask, and—what he had never expected to use again when, early the night before, he had, as he had believed, put it away forever—the thin, metal insignia case of the Gray Seal. Another moment, and, with the flooring replaced, the oilcloth rolled back into position, he had stripped off his coat and was pulling his spotted, greasy shirt off over his head; then, stooping quickly, he picked up the girdle, put it on, put on his shirt again over it, put on his coat, put the metal case, the flashlight, and the mask in his pockets—and once more the Sanctuary was in darkness.
It was perhaps fifteen minutes later that Jimmie Dale turned into the upper section of Thompson Street. Here he slowed his pace, that had been almost a run since he had left the Sanctuary, and began to shuffle leisurely along; for the street, that a few hours before would have been choked with its pushcarts and venders, its half naked children playing where they could find room in the gutters, its sidewalks thronged with shawled women and picturesquely dressed, earringed, dark-visaged men, a scene, as it were, transported from some foreign land, was still far from deserted; the quiet, if quiet it could be called, was but comparative, there were many yet about, and he had no desire to attract attention by any evidence of undue haste. And, besides, Spider Jack’s was just ahead, making the corner of the alleyway a few hundred feet farther on, and he had very good reasons for desiring to approach Spider’s little novelty store at a pace that would afford him every opportunity for observation.
On he shuffled along the street, until, reaching Spider Jack’s, a little two-storied, tumble-down brick structure, a muttered exclamation of satisfaction escaped him. The shop was closed and dark; and, though Spider Jack lived above the store, there were no lights even in the upper windows. Spider Jack presumably was either out, or in bed! So far, then, he could have asked for nothing more.