“Look here, pard,” said Bill Briggs, laboriously breaking in upon their conversation; “I want to do the right thing by you an’ her as fer as I can. You’ve been good to me, an’ I won’t fergit it. Besides, you said you’d make things easy fer me if I told you what I knowed about that job last winter. Well, I’d better tell it now, ’cause I’m liable to pass in my checks before these doctors git through with me. An’ besides, they’ll be haulin’ me off to the county seat in a day or two. Now, this is dead straight, I’m goin’ to give you. Maybe it won’t help you none, but ’11 give you a lead.”
“Go on,” cried Bonner breathlessly.
“Well, Sam Welch come to me in Branigan’s place one night—that’s in Fourt’ Avenue—an’ says he’s got a big job on. We went over to Davy Wolfe’s house an’ found him an’ his mother—the old fairy, you remember. Well, to make it short, Sam said it was a kidnaping job an’ the Wolfes was to be in on it because they used to live in this neighbourhood an’ done a lot of work here way back in the seventies. There was to be five thousand dollars in the job if we got that girl safe on board a ship bound fer Europe. Sam told us that the guy what engineered the game was a swell party an’ a big boy in politics, finance, society an’ ever’thin’ else. He could afford to pay, but he didn’t want to be seen in the job. Nobody but Sam ever seen his face. Sam used to be in politics some. Jest before we left New York to come up here, the swell guy comes around to Davy’s with another guy fer final orders. See? It was as cold as h—— as the dickens—an’ the two of ’em was all muffled up so’s we couldn’t get a pipe at their mugs. One of ’em was old—over fifty, I guess—an’ the other was a young chap. I’m sure of that.
“They said that one or the other of ’em would be in this neighbourhood when the job was pulled off; that one thousand dollars would be paid down when we started; another thousand when we got ’er into the cave; and the rest when we had ‘er at the dock in New York—alive an’ unhurt. See? We was given to understand that she was to travel all the rest of ’er life fer ’er health. I remember one thing plain: The old man said to the young ’un: ’She must not know a thing of this, or it will ruin everything.’ He wasn’t referrin’ to the girl either. There was another woman in the case. They seemed mighty anxious to pull the job off without this woman gettin’ next.
“Well, we got ready to start, and the two parties coughed up the thousand plunks—that is, the young ’un handed it over to Sam when the old ’un told him to. Sam took three hundred and the rest of us two hundred a piece. When they were lookin’ from the winder to see that nobody on the streets was watchin’ the house, I asked Sam if he knowed either of them by name. He swore he didn’t, but I think he lied. But jest before they left the house, I happened to look inside of the old boy’s hat—he had a stiff dicer. There was a big gilt letter in the top of it.”