“All’s fair, here!” thought Gabriel, snatching up a chair. For a moment he brandished it on high. With this weapon, he knew—though final defeat was inevitable, when reinforcements should arrive—he could sweep a clear space.
Perhaps he might even yet escape! He heard feet trampling on the stairs, and his heart died within him. Well, even though escape were impossible, he would fight to a finish and die game, if die he must!
Down swung the chair, and round, crashing to ruin as it struck the policeman who was just getting to his feet again. Oaths, cries, screams made the place hideous. Dust rose, and blood began to flow.
Armed now with one leg of the chair, Gabriel retreated; and as he went, he hurled the bitterness of all his scorn and hate upon these vile conspirators.
And as he flayed them with his tongue, he struck; and like Samson against the Philistines, he did great execution.
Like Samson, too, he lost his power through a woman’s treachery. For, even as the attackers seemed to fall back, shattered and at a loss before such fury and tremendous strength, behind Gabriel the woman rose, a laugh of malice on her lips, the policeman’s long and heavy night-stick in her hand.
A moment she poised it, crouching as he—seeing her not—swung his weapon and hurled his defiance at the baffled men in front.
Then, aiming at the base of the skull, she struck.
Sudden bright lights spangled the darkness, for Gabriel. Everything whirled about, in dizzying confusion. A strange, far roaring sounded in his ears.
Then he fell; and oblivion took him to its blessed peace and rest; and all grew still and black.
THE BEAST GLOATS.
“Fer Gawd’s sake, let’s have a light here, somebody!” panted the dishevelled policeman. Outside, the ringing of a gong became audible. Then came a clattering of hoofs, as the police-patrol, nicely-timed by the conspirators, and summoned by a confederate, drew up at the box on the corner.
Somebody struck another match, and a raw gas-light flared. From the hallway, two or three others crowded into the wrecked room. Disjointed exclamations, oaths and curses intermingled with harsh laughter.
The woman—Lillian Rafter, probably the finest actress and stool-pigeon in the whole detective world of graft and crookedness—lighted a cigarette at the gas-burner, and laughed with triumph.
“Some make-up, eh kid?” she demanded of the taller detective, who was now nursing a bad “shiner,” as a black eye is known in the under-world, and whose face was battered to a bleeding pulp. “Believe me, as a job, this is some job! From start to finish, a pippin. He was bound to fall for it though. No help for him. Even if he hadn’t butted into the ‘plant’ we fixed for him in the alley, there, I could have braced him in the street with my tale of woe. He was just bound to be ‘it,’ this time. We had him going, all ways for Sunday!”