And then suddenly every muscle grew strained and rigid. Was there some one in the corridor? Was it some one moving—or was it only fancy? He listened—while he strained his eyes through the darkness. There was no sound; only that abnormal, heavy silence that—yes, he remembered that, too, now—that had clung about him last night like a pall. He could see nothing, hear nothing—but intuitively, bringing a cold dismay, the greater because it was something unknown, intangible, he felt as though eyes were upon him, that even in the darkness he was being watched!
And as he stood there, then, slowly there crept upon Jimmie Dale the sense of peril and disaster. It was not intuition now—it was certainty. He was trapped! It was the part of a fool to imagine that with their devil’s cunning, their cleverness, their ingenuity, he, or any one else, could enter that house unknown to its occupants! Had he made electric contact when he had opened the front door, and rung a signal here, perhaps, upstairs—had he set some system of alarm at work when he had touched that window? What did it matter—the details that had heralded his entrance? He was certain now that his presence in the house was known. Only, why had they left him so long without attack? He shook his head with a quick, impatient movement. That, too, was obvious! He was under observation. Who was he? Why had he come? Was he simply a paltry safe-tapper—or was he one whom they had a real need to fear? And then, too, there might well be another reason. It was far from likely, in fact unreasonable, to imagine that all the men he had seen here the night before were in the house now. Not many of them, if any, would live here, for constant, daily coming and going, even through the garage, could not escape notice; and, of the servants, probably a lesser breed of criminal, some of them, at least, no doubt, were engaged at that moment in watching his own house on Riverside Drive! There was even the possibility that the man posing as Henry LaSalle was, for the time being, here alone.
He shook his head again. He could hardly hope for that—he had no right to hope for anything more now than a struggle, with an inevitably fatal ending to himself, but one in which at least he could sell his life as dearly as possible, one in which, perhaps, he might pay the Tocsin’s score with the man he had come to find! If he could do that—well, after all, the price was not too great!
There were no tremours of the muscles now. It was Jimmie Dale, the Gray Seal, every faculty alert, tense, keyed up to its highest efficiency; the brain cool, keen, and active—fighting for his life. The front door through which he had entered was an impossibility; but there was the window in the library that he had opened—if they would let him get that far! That was as good a chance as any. If he made an effort to find, say, a way to the flat above and chanced some means of escape there, it would in no wise obviate an attack upon him, and he would only be under the added disadvantage of unfamiliar surroundings.