“Just a little nerve, dear,” said he as they arose. “Do as I have told you and trust to luck. It can’t fail.”
The plain-clothes man was just outside the door. Scores of people were hurrying past, umbrellas raised in the face of the drizzle. Down Broadway the glare of lights was broken and left hazy in the fog like rain. The sidewalks in the distance looked like a bobbing field of black mushrooms, shiny and sleek. The air was chill with the wet shadows of a night that hated to surrender to the light of man.
“Where’s the cab?” demanded Hugh. “Get it up here quick. I don’t want to keep my friend waiting at the station. Come in and have a drink, officer. It’s no fun standing around this kind of weather. No job for a decent human being, I’d say. Especially when one’s set to watch respectable people and not criminals. This is a rattling good joke on me—and my sister. I need about three good, stiff drinks? We’ll go in next door here. Get into the cab, Marian, We won’t be inside two minutes.”
If the plain-clothes man was willing to take the drink, all well and good, but if he refused—but he did not refuse. He looked carefully about, shivered appropriately, and said he “didn’t care if he did.” Grace urged them to hurry as she entered the cab and Hugh gave his promise. Scarcely had the two men passed beyond the light screen doors when Grace Vernon coolly stepped from the cab and hurriedly made her way off through the crowd of umbrellas, first telling the driver to wait for her in front of the drug store.
A moment later she boarded a Broadway car, and excited, but intent only on reaching a place where she could safely engage a cab to take her to the dock. And all the time she was hoping and praying, not for herself, but for the important young gentleman who was clicking his righteous glass in a den of iniquity.
READY FOR THE SEA
Ridgeway, his nerves tense and his eyes gleaming, marched his thoroughly chilled companion up to the bar. He manoeuvred so that the plain-clothes man stood with his back toward the door, and he seemed to be in no especial haste to attract the attention of the bartender. As they gave their order for drinks, Hugh saw Grace, in his mind’s eye, slipping from the carriage and off into the crowd—and every fibre of his heart was praying for success to attend her flight. He found himself talking glibly, even volubly to the watcher, surprised that he could be doing it with his mind so full of other thoughts.
“Awful night to be out. I’d hate to have a job like yours,” he was rattling on, heaving intermittent breaths of relief as he saw the size of the drink the other was pouring out for himself.
“I’ve been at it for twelve years. I don’t mind anything just so it helps to make a comfortable home for the old lady and the kids.”
“Ah, the kids,” said Hugh, grasping at the subject as if it were the proverbial straw. “How I love kids! How many have you?”