The officers were at the top of the stairs. A voice barked out:
“Stand guard on this landing, Peters. Higgins, you take the one above. We’ll start from the top of the house and work down. Allow no one to pass you.”
“Yes, sir! Very good, Mr. Kline,” was the response.
Kline!—the sharpest man in the United States secret service, she had said. Jimmie Dale’s lips set.
“I’m glad I had no shave this morning,” said Jimmie Dale grimly to himself.
His fingers were working with the black substance in the hollow of his hand—and the long, slim, tapering fingers, the shapely, well-cared-for hands grew unkempt and grimy, black beneath the finger nails—and a little, too, played its part on the day’s growth of beard, a little around the throat and at the nape of the neck, a little across the forehead to meet the locks of straggling and disordered hair. Jimmie Dale wiped the residue from the hollow of his hand on the knee of his trousers—and lay still.
An officer paced outside. Upstairs doors opened and closed. Gruff, harsh tones in commands echoed through the house. The search party descended to the second floor—and again the same sounds were repeated. And then, thumping down the creaking stairs, they stopped before Jimmie Dale’s room. Some one tried the door, and, finding it locked, rattled it violently.
“Open the door!” It was Kline’s voice.
Jimmie Dale’s eyes were closed, and he was breathing regularly, though just a little slower than in natural respiration.
“Break it down!” ordered Kline tersely.
There was a rush at it—and it gave. It surged inward, knocked against the chair, upset the latter, something tinkled to the floor—and four officers, with Kline at their head, jumped into the room.
Jimmie Dale never moved. A flashlight played around the room and focused upon him—and then he was shaken roughly—only to fall inertly back on the bed again.
“I guess this is all right, Mr. Kline,” said one of the officers. “It’s Larry the Bat, and he’s doped to the eyes. There’s the stuff on the floor we knocked off the chair.”
“Light the gas!” directed Kline curtly; and, being obeyed, stooped to the floor and picked up a hypodermic syringe and a small bottle. He held the bottle to the light, and read the label: Liquor MORPHINAE. “Shake him again!” he commanded.
None too gently, a policeman caught Jimmie Dale by the shoulder and shook him vigorously—again Jimmie Dale, once the other let go his hold, fell back limply on the bed, breathing in that same, slightly slowed way.