“Quick!” he ordered the reeling boy—“into that cab unless you want to be treated by a Bellevue sawbones—held as a witness besides. Are you badly hurt?”
“Not badly,” gasped the boy—“shot through the shoulder—can wait for treatment—must keep out of the papers—”
“Right!” P. Sybarite jerked open the door, and his charge stumbled into the cab. “Drive anywhere—like sin,” he told the chauffeur—“tell you where to stop when we get clear of this mess—”
Privately he blessed that man; for the cab was in motion almost before he could swing clear of the sidewalk. He tumbled in upon the floor, and picked himself up in time to close the door only when they were swinging on two wheels round the corner of Seventh Avenue.
SUCH STUFF AS PLOTS ARE MADE OF
“How is it?” P. Sybarite asked solicitously.
“Aches,” replied the boy huddled in his corner of the cab.
Then he found spirit enough for a pale, thin smile, faintly visible in a milky splash from an electric arc rocking by the vehicle in its flight.
“Aches like hell,” he added. “Makes one feel a bit sickish.”
“Anything I can do?”
“No—thanks. I’ll be all right—as soon as I find a surgeon to draw that slug and plaster me up.”
“That’s the point: where am I to take you?”
“Home—the Monastery—Forty-third Street.”
“Yes; I herd by my lonesome.”
“Praises be!” muttered P. Sybarite, relieved.
For several minutes he had been entertaining a vision of himself escorting this battered and bloody young person to a home of shrieking feminine relations, and poignantly surmising the sort of welcome apt to be accorded the good Samaritan in such instances.
And while he was about it, he took time briefly to offer up thanks that the shock of his wound seemed to have sobered the boy completely.
Opening the door, he craned his neck out to establish communication with the ear of the chauffeur; to whom he repeated the address, adding an admonition to avoid the Monastery until certain he had shaken off pursuit, if any; and dodged back.
At this juncture the taxicab was slipping busily up Eighth Avenue, having gained that thoroughfare via Forty-first Street. A little later it turned eastwards....
“No better, I presume?” P. Sybarite enquired.
“Not so’s you’d notice it,” the boy returned bravely.... “First time anything like this ever happened to me,” he went on. “Funny sensation—precisely as if somebody had lammed me for a home run—with a steel girder for a bat ...”
“Must be tough!” said P. Sybarite blankly, experiencing a qualm at the thought of a soft-nosed bullet mushrooming through living flesh.
“Guess I can stand it.... Where are we?”
P. Sybarite took observations.”