“I guess I might as well say good-bye here,” she said dully. “You won’t want to see me again, of course. Will you—shake hands—Mr. McManus.”
“I mightn’t have got wise if you hadn’t give the snap away,” said Cork. “Why did you do it?”
“You’d have been pinched if I hadn’t. That’s why. Ain’t that reason enough?” Then she began to cry. “Honest, Eddie, I was goin’ to be the best girl in the world. I hated to be what I am; I hated men; I was ready almost to die when I saw you. And you seemed different from everybody else. And when I found you liked me, too, why, I thought I’d make you believe I was good, and I was goin’ to be good. When you asked to come to my house and see me, why, I’d have died rather than do anything wrong after that. But what’s the use of talking about it? I’ll say good-by, if you will, Mr. McManus.”
Cork was pulling at his ear. “I knifed Malone,” said he. “I was the one the cop wanted.”
“Oh, that’s all right,” said the girl listlessly. “It didn’t make any difference about that.”
“That was all hot air about Wall Street. I don’t do nothin’ but hang out with a tough gang on the East Side.”
“That was all right, too,” repeated the girl. “It didn’t make any difference.”
Cork straightened himself, and pulled his hat down low. “I could get a job at O’Brien’s,” he said aloud, but to himself.
“Good-by,” said the girl.
“Come on,” said Cork, taking her arm. “I know a place.”
Two blocks away he turned with her up the steps of a red brick house facing a little park.
“What house is this?” she asked, drawing back. “Why are you going in there?”
A street lamp shone brightly in front. There was a brass nameplate at one side of the closed front doors. Cork drew her firmly up the steps. “Read that,” said he.
She looked at the name on the plate, and gave a cry between a moan and a scream. “No, no, no, Eddie! Oh, my God, no! I won’t let you do that—not now! Let me go! You shan’t do that! You can’t—you mus’n’t! Not after you know! No, no! Come away quick! Oh, my God! Please, Eddie, come!”
Half fainting, she reeled, and was caught in the bend of his arm. Cork’s right hand felt for the electric button and pressed it long.
Another cop—how quickly they scent trouble when trouble is on the wing!—came along, saw them, and ran up the steps. “Here! What are you doing with that girl?” he called gruffly.
“She’ll be all right in a minute,” said Cork. “It’s a straight deal.”
“Reverend Jeremiah Jones,” read the cop from the door-plate with true detective cunning.
“Correct,” said Cork. “On the dead level, we’re goin’ to get married.”
Let the story wreck itself on the spreading rails of the Non Sequitur Limited, if it will; first you must take your seat in the observation car “Raison d’etre” for one moment. It is for no longer than to consider a brief essay on the subject—let us call it: “What’s Around the Corner.”