Jimmie Dale slipped through the window to the fire escape, and, working cautiously, silently, but with the speed of a trained athlete, made his way down. At the bottom he dropped from the iron platform into the back yard, ran for the fence and climbed over into a lane on the other side.
And then, as he ran, Jimmie Dale snatched the mask from his face and put it in his pocket. He was safe now. He swept the sweat drops from his forehead with the back of his hand—noticing them for the first time. It had been close—almost as close for him as it had been for old Luddy. And to-morrow the papers would execrate the Gray Seal! He smiled a little wanly. His breath was still coming hard. Presently they would scour the lane—when they found that their quarry was not in the house. What a racket they were making! The whole district seemed roused like a swarm of angry bees.
He kept on along the lane—and dodged suddenly into a cross street where the two intersected. The clang of a bell dinned discordantly in his ears—a patrol wagon swept by him, racing for the scene of the disturbance—the riot call was out!
Again Jimmie Dale smiled wearily, passing his hand across his eyes.
“I guess,” said Jimmie Dale, “I’m pretty near all in. And I guess it’s time that Larry the Bat went—home.”
And a little later a figure turned from the Bowery and shambled down the cross street, a disreputable figure, with hands plunged deep in his pockets—and a shadow across the roadway suddenly shifted its position as the shambling figure slouched into the black alleyway and entered the tenement’s side door.
And Larry the Bat smiled softly to himself—Kline’s men were still on guard!
A white-gloved arm, a voice, and a silvery laugh! Just that—no more! Jimmie Dale, in his favourite seat, an aisle seat some seven or eight rows back from the orchestra, stared at the stage, to all outward appearances absorbed in the last act of the play; inwardly, quite oblivious to the fact that even a play was going on.
A white-gloved arm, a voice, and a silvery laugh! The words had formed themselves into a sort of singsong refrain that, for the last few days, had been running through his head. A strange enough guiding star to mould and dictate every action in his life! And that was all he had ever seen of her, all that he had ever heard of her—except those letters, of course, each of which had outlined the details of some affair for the Gray Seal to execute.
Indeed, it seemed a great length of time now since he had heard from her even in that way, though it was not so many days ago, after all. Perhaps it was the calm, as it were, that, by contrast, had given place to the strenuous months and weeks just past. The storm raised by the newspapers at the theft of Old Luddy’s diamonds had subsided into sporadic diatribes aimed at the police; Kline, of the secret service, had finally admitted defeat, and a shadow no longer skulked day and night at the entrance to the Sanctuary—and Larry the Bat bore the government indorsement, so to speak, of being no more suspicious a character than that of a disreputable, but harmless, dope fiend of the underworld.