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The Adventures of Jimmie Dale

I.11. The Stool-Pigeon
In the subway, ten minutes before, a freckled-faced messenger boy had
squeezed himself into a seat beside Jimmie Dale, yanked a dime novel from a
refractory pocket, and, blissfully lost to all the world, had buried his head in its
pages. Jimmie Dale's glance at the youngster had equally, perforce, embraced
the lurid title of the thriller, "Dicing with Death," so imperturbably thrust under his
nose. At the time, he had smiled indulgently; but now, as he left the subway and
headed for his home on Riverside Drive, the words not only refused to be
ignored, but had resolved themselves into a curiously persistent refrain in his
mind. They were exactly what they purported to be, dime-novelish, of the
deepest hue of yellow, melodramatic in the extreme; but also, to him now, they
were grimly apt and premonitorily appropriate. "Dicing with Death"--there was not
an hour, not a moment in the day, when he was not literally dicing with death;
when, with the underworld and the police allied against him, a single false move
would lose him the throw that left death the winner!
The risk of the dual life enforced upon him grew daily greater, and in the end
there must be the reckoning. He would have been a madman to have shut his
eyes in the face of what was obvious--but it was worth it all, and in his soul he
knew that he would not have had it otherwise even now. To-night, to-morrow, the
day after, would come another letter from the Tocsin, and there would be another
"crime" of the Gray Seal's blazoned in the press--would that be the last affair, or
would there be another--or to-night, to-morrow, the day after, would he be
trapped before even one more letter came!
He shrugged his shoulders, as he ran up the steps of his house. Those were the
stakes that he himself had laid on the table to wager upon the game, he had no
quarrel there; but if only, before the end came, or even with the end itself, he
could find--HER!
 
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