“Get out of my way!” he yelled, hurling the shrieking maid aside, striking the frightened butler who tried to seize him on the stairs. There was another manservant at the door, who stood his ground swinging a bronze statuette. Quest darted into the drawing-room, ran through the music-room and dining-room beyond, and slammed the door of the butler’s pantry.
He stood there panting, glaring, his shoulder set against the door; then he saw a bolt, and shot it, and backed away, pistol swinging in his bleeding fist.
Servants were screaming somewhere in the house; doors slammed, a man was shouting through a telephone amid a confusion of voices that swelled continually until the four walls rang with the uproar. A little later a policeman ran through the basement into the yard beyond; another pushed his way to the pantry door and struck it heavily with his night-stick, demanding admittance.
For a second he waited; then the reply came, abrupt, deafening; and he hurled himself at the bolted door, and it flew wide open.
But Quest remained uninterested. Nothing concerned him now, lying there on his back, his bruised young face toward the ceiling, and every earthly question answered for him as long as time shall last.
* * * * *
Up-stairs a very old and shrunken man sat shivering in bed, staring vacantly at some policemen and making feeble efforts to reach a wig hanging from a chair beside him—a very glossy, expensive wig, nicely curled where it was intended to fall above the ears.
“I don’t know,” he quavered, smirking at everybody with crackled, painted lips, “I know nothing whatever about this affair. You must ask my son Jack, gentlemen—my son Jack—te-he!—oh, yes, he knows; he can tell you a thing or two, I warrant you! Yes, gentlemen, he’s like all the Dysarts—fit for a fight or a frolic!—te-he!—he’s all Dysart, gentlemen—my son Jack. But he is a good son to me—yes, yes!—a good son, a good son! Tell him I said so—and—good-night.”
“Nutty,” whispered a policeman. “Come on out o’ this boodwar and lave th’ ould wan be.”
And they left him smirking, smiling, twitching his faded lips, and making vague sounds, lying there asleep in his dotage.
And all night long he lay mumbling his gums and smiling, his sleep undisturbed by the stir and lights and tramp of feet around him.
And all night long in the next room lay his son, white as marble and very still.
Toward morning he spoke, asking for his father. But they had decided to probe for the bullet, and he closed his eyes wearily and spoke no more.
They found it. What Dysart found as the winter sun rose over Manhattan town, his Maker only knows, for his sunken eyes opened unterrified yet infinitely sad. But there was a vague smile on his lips after he lay there dead.
Nor did his slayer lie less serenely where bars of sunlight moved behind the lowered curtains, calm as a schoolboy sleeping peacefully after the eternity of a summer day where he had played too long and fiercely with a world too rough for him.