“Larry the Bat, eh?” grunted Kline; then, to the officer who had volunteered the information: “Who’s Larry the Bat? What is he? And how long have you known him?”
“I don’t know who he is any more than what you can see there for yourself,” replied the officer. “He’s a dope fiend, and I guess a pretty tough case, though we’ve never had him up for anything. He’s lived here ever since I’ve been on the beat, and that’s three years or—”
“All right!” interrupted Kline crisply. “He’s no good to us! You say there’s an exit from this house into that saloon at the back?”
“Yes, sir but the fellow, whoever he is, couldn’t get away from there. Heeney’s been over on guard from the start.”
“Then he’s still inside there,” said Kline, clipping off his words. “We’ll search the saloon. Nice night’s work this is! One out of the whole gang—and that one with the compliments of the Gray Seal!”
The men went out and began to descend the stairs.
“One,” said Jimmie Dale to himself, still motionless, still breathing in that slow way so characteristic of the drug. “Two. Three. Four.”
The minutes went by—a quarter of an hour—a half hour. Still Jimmie Dale lay there—still motionless—still breathing with slow regularity. His muscles began to cramp, to give him exquisite torture. Around him all was silence—only distant sounds from the street reached him, muffled, and at intervals. Another quarter of an hour passed—an eternity of torment. It seemed to Jimmie Dale, for all his will power, that he could not hold himself in check, that he must move, scream out even in the torture that was passing all endurance. It was silent now, utterly silent—and then out of the silence, just outside his door, a footstep creaked—and a man walked to the stairs and went down.
“Five,” said Jimmie Dale to himself. “The sharpest man in the United States secret service.”
And then for the first time Jimmie Dale moved—to wipe away the beads of sweat that had sprung out upon his forehead.
THE AFFAIR OF THE PUSHCART MAN
Larry the Bat shambled out of the side door of the tenement into the back alleyway; shambled along the black alleyway to the street—and smiled a little grimly as a shadow across the roadway suddenly shifted its position. The game was growing acute, critical, desperate even—and it was his move.
Larry the Bat, disreputable denizen of the underworld, alias Jimmie Dale, millionaires’ clubman, alias the Gray Seal, whom Carruthers of the morning news-Argus called the master criminal of the age, shuffled along in the direction of the Bowery, his hands plunged deep in the pockets of his frayed and tattered trousers, where his fingers, in a curious, wistful way, fondled the keys of his own magnificent residence on Riverside Drive. It was his move—and it was an impasse, ironical, sardonic, and it was worse—it was full of peril.