If he might lay any claims to cleverness, his resourcefulness, at least, he was forced to admit, was no match for hers. She came, she went without being seen—and behind her remained, instead of clews to her identity, only an amazing, intangible mystery, that left him at times appalled and dismayed. How did she know about those conditions in West Broadway, how did she know about Metzer’s murder, how did she know about Markel and Wilbur—how did she know about a hundred other affairs of the same sort that had happened since that night, years ago now, when out of pure adventure he had tampered with Marx’s, the jeweller’s strong room in Maiden Lane, and she had, mysteriously then, too, solved his identity, discovered him to be the Gray Seal?
Jimmie Dale, wrapped up in his own thoughts, entirely oblivious to his surroundings, traversed another block. There had never been since the world began, and there would never be again, so singular and bizarre a partnership as this—of hers and his. He, Jimmie Dale, with his strange double life, one of New York’s young bachelor millionaires, one whose social status was unquestioned; and she, who—who what? That was just it! Who what? What was she? What was her name? What one personal, intimate thing did he know about her? And what was to be the end? Not that he would have severed his association with her—not for worlds!—though every time, that, by some new and curious method, one of her letters found its way into his hands, outlining some fresh coup for him to execute, his peril and danger of discovery was increased in staggering ratio. To-day, the police hunted the Gray Seal as they hunted a mad dog; the papers stormed and raved against him: in every detective bureau of two continents he was catalogued as the most notorious criminal of the age—and yet, strange paradox, no single crime had ever been committed!
Jimmie Dale’s strong, fine-featured face lighted up. Crime! Thanks to her, there were those who blessed the name of the Gray Seal, those into whose lives had come joy, relief from misery, escape from death even—and their blessings were worth a thousandfold the risk and peril of disaster that threatened him at every minute of the day.
“Thank God for her!” murmured Jimmie Dale softly. “But—but if I could only find her, see her, know who she is, talk to her, and hear her voice!” Then he smiled a little wanly. “It’s been a pretty tough month—and nothing to show for it!”
It had! It had been one of the hardest months through which Jimmie Dale had ever lived. The St. James, that most exclusive club, his favourite haunt, had seen nothing of him; the easel in his den, that was his hobby, had been untouched; there had been days even when he had not crossed the threshold of his home. Every resource at his command he had called into play in an effort to solve the mystery. For nearly the entire month, following first this lead and then that, he had lived in the one disguise