Larry the Bat! The Gray Seal! Jimmie Dale the millionaire! What if it were ever known that that strange three were one! What if—Jimmie Dale smiled whimsically. A burst of applause echoed through the house, the orchestra was playing, the lights were on, seats banged, there was the bustle of the rising audience, the play was at an end—and for the life of him he could not have remembered a single line of the last act!
The aisle at his elbow was already crowded with people on their way out. Jimmie Dale stooped down mechanically to reach for his hat beneath his seat—and the next instant he was standing up, staring wildly into the faces around him.
It had fallen at his feet—a white envelope. Hers! It was in his hand now, those slim, tapering, wonderfully sensitive fingers of Jimmie Dale, that were an “open sesame” to locks and safes, subconsciously telegraphing to his mind the fact that the texture of the paper—was hers. Hers! And she must be one of those around him—one of those crowding either the row of seats in front or behind, or one of those just passing in the aisle. It had fallen at his feet as he had stooped over for his hat—but from just exactly what direction he could not tell. His eyes, eagerly, hungrily, critically, swept face after face. Which one was hers? What irony! She, whom he would have given his life to know, for whom indeed he risked his life every hour of the twenty-four, was close to him now, within reach—and as far removed as though a thousand miles separated them. She was there—but he could not recognise a face that he had never seen!
With an effort, he choked back the bitter, impotent laugh that rose to his lips. They were talking, laughing around him. Her voice—yes, he had once heard that, and that he would recognise again. He strained to catch, to individualise the tone sounds that floated in a medley about him. It was useless—of course—every effort that he had ever made to find her had been useless. She was too clever, far too clever for that—she, too, would know that he could and would recognise her voice where he could recognise nothing else.
And then, suddenly, he realised that he was attracting attention. Level stares from the women returned his gaze, and they edged away a little from his vicinity as they passed, their escorts crowding somewhat belligerently into their places. Others, in the same row of seats as his own, were impatiently waiting to get by him. With a muttered apology, Jimmie Dale raised the seat of his chair, allowing these latter to pass him—and then, slipping the letter into his pocketbook, he snatched up his hat from the seat rack.
There was still a chance. Knowing he was there, she would be on her guard; but in the lobby, among the crowd and unaware of his presence, there was the possibility that, if he could reach the entrance ahead of her, she, too, might be talking and laughing as she left the theatre. Just a single word, just a tone—that was all he asked.