A Poor Wise Man HTML version

"How about the vaults? I suppose they are fireproof?"
"Yes. Do you realize that every record we've got has gone? D'you suppose those
fellows knew about them?"
Willy Cameron had been asking himself the same question.
"Trouble is," Pink went on, "you don't know who to trust. They're not all
foreigners. Let's get away from here; it makes me sick."
They wandered through the night together, almost unconsciously in the direction
of the City Club, but within a block of it they realized that something was wrong.
A hospital ambulance dashed by, its gong ringing wildly, and a fire engine, not
pumping, stood at the curb.
"Come on" Pink said suddenly. "There were two explosions. It's just possible - "
The club was more sinister than the burning bank; it was a mass of grim
wreckage, black and gaping, with now and then the sound of settling masonry,
and already dotted with the moving flash-lights of men who searched.
To Pink this catastrophe was infinitely greater than that of the bank. Men he
knew had lived there. There were old club servants who were like family
retainers; one or two employees were ex-service men for whom he had found
employment. He stood there, with Willy Cameron's hand on his arm, with a new
maturity and a vast suffering in his face.
"Before God," he said solemnly, "I swear never to rest until the fellows behind
this are tried, condemned and hanged. You've heard it, Cameron."
The death list for that night numbered thirteen, the two watchmen at the bank
and eleven men at the club, two of them members. Willy Cameron, going home
at dawn, exhausted and covered with plaster dust, bought an extra and learned
that a third bomb, less powerful, had wrecked the mayor's house. It had been
placed under the sleeping porch, and but for the accident of a sick baby the
entire family would have been wiped out.
Even his high courage began to waver. His records were gone; that was all to do
over again. But what seemed to him the impasse was this fighting in the dark. An
unseen enemy, always. And an enemy which combined with skill a total lack of
any rules of warfare, which killed here, there and everywhere, as though for the
sheer joy of killing. It struck at the high but killed the low. And it had only begun.