Guy Garrick by Arthur B. Reeve - HTML preview

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19. The Eavesdropper Again


It took our combined efforts now to take care not only of Violet Winslow but Warrington himself, who was on the verge of collapse after his heroic rescue of her.

I found the cab and in perhaps half an hour Miss Winslow was so far recovered that she could be taken to the hotel where she and her aunt had engaged rooms for the night.

We drew up at an unfrequented side carriage entrance of the hotel in order to avoid the eyes of the curious and Warrington jumped out to assist Violet. The strain had told on him and in spite of his desire to take care of her, he was glad to let Garrick guide him to the elevator, while I took Miss Winslow's arm to assist her.

Our first object had been to get our two invalids where they could have quiet and so regain their strength and we rode up in the elevator, unannounced, to the suite of Violet and her aunt.

 "For heaven's sake--Violet--what's all this?" exclaimed Mrs. de Lancey as we four entered the room.

It was the first time we had seen the redoubtable Aunt Emma. She was a large woman, well past middle age, and must have been handsome, rather than pretty, when she was younger. Everything about Mrs. de Lancey was correct, absolutely correct. Her dress looked like a form into which she had been poured, every line and curve being just as it should be, having "set" as if she had been made of reinforced concrete. In short, she was a woman of "force."

 An incursion such as we made seemed to pain her correct soul acutely. And yet, I fancied that underneath the marble exterior there was a heart and that secretly she was both proud and jealous of her dainty niece.

 Violet sank into a chair and Garrick deposited Warrington, thoroughly exhausted, on a couch.

Mrs. de Lancey looked sternly at Warrington, as though in some way he might be responsible. I could not help feeling that she had a peculiar sense of conscientiousness about him, that she was just a bit more strict in gauging him than she would have been if he had not been the wealthy young Mr. Warrington whom scores and hundreds of mothers and guardians in society would have welcomed for the sake of marriageable daughters no matter how black and glaring his faults. I was glad to see the way Warrington took it. He seemed to want to rest not on the merits of the Warrington blood nor the Warrington gold, but on plain Mortimer Warrington himself.

 "What HAS happened, Violet?" repeated Mrs. de Lancey.

 Violet had, woman-like, in spite of her condition caught the stern look that her aunt had shot at Warrington.

"Nothing, now," she replied with a note of defiance. "Lucille-- seems to have been a--a bad woman--friendly with bad men. Mr. Garrick overheard a plot to carry me off and telephoned Mortimer. Fortunately when Mortimer went up home to warn us, he found the letter and knew where I was going to-night. Ill as he was, he came all the way to the city, followed me into that house, saved me-- even before Mr. Garrick could get there."

Violet's duenna was considerably mollified, though she tried hard not to admit it. Garrick seized the opportunity and poured forth a brief but connected story of what had happened.

 "Well," exclaimed Mrs. de Lancey as he finished, "you children ought to be very thankful it isn't worse. Violet, I think I'll call up the house physician. You certainly need a doctor. And as for you, Mortimer,--you can't go to your apartment. Violet tells me it is all burned out. There's an empty suite across the hall. I'll telephone the room clerk and engage it for you. And you need a doctor, too. Now--there's going to be no more foolishness. You're both going to stay right here in this hotel until you're all right. Your mother and I were great friends, Mortimer, when we were girls. I--you must let me PLAY mother--for her sake."

I had been right about Mrs. de Lancey. Her voice softened and I saw a catch in Warrington's throat, too, at the mention of the mother he remembered only hazily as a small boy.

Violet and Warrington exchanged glances. I fancied the wireless said, "We've won the old lady over, at last," for Warrington continued to look at her, while she blushed a bit, then dropped her eyes to hide a happy tear.

Mrs. de Lancey was bustling about and I felt sure that in another minute every available bellhop in the hotel would be at work. As Warrington might have said in his slang, "Action is her middle name."

 Garrick rose and bade our two patients a hasty good-night, tactfully forgetting to be offended by their lack of interest now in anything except each other.

"I doubt if they get much chance to be alone--not with that woman mothering them," he smiled to me, drawing me toward the door. "Don't let's spoil this chance."

Mrs. de Lancey was busy in the next room, as we stopped to say good-bye to her.

 "I--I can't talk to you--now, Mr. Garrick," she cried, with a sudden, unwonted show of emotion, taking both his hands in hers. "You--you've saved my girl--there-there's nothing in this world you could have done for me--greater."

"Mrs. de Lancey," replied Garrick, deftly changing the subject, "there's just one thing. I'm afraid you are--have been, I mean,--a little hard on Mr. Warrington. He isn't what you think--"

"Mr. Garrick," she returned, in a sudden burst of confidence, "I'm afraid you, too, misunderstand me. I am not hard on the boy. But, remember. I knew his mother and father--intimately. Think of it, sir--the responsibilities that rest on that young man. Do you wonder that I--I want him better than others? Don't you see--that is why I want to hold him up to the highest standard. If Violet-- marries him," she seemed to choke over the word,--"they must meet tests that ordinary people never know. Don't you understand? I've seen other young men and other young women in our circle--they were our babies once--I've seen them--go down. But I-I am proud. The Winslows, yes, and the Warringtons, they,--they SHAN'T go down--not while I have an ounce of strength or a grain of sanity. Nothing--nothing but the best that is in us--counts."

 I think Mrs. de Lancey and Garrick understood each other perfectly after that. He said nothing, in fact did not need to say anything, for he looked it.

"I feel that I can safely resign my job as guardian," was all he remarked, finally. "Neither of them could be in better hands. Only, keep that boy quiet a few days. You can do it better than I can--you and Miss Winslow. Trust me to do the rest."

 A moment later we were passing out through the hotel lobby, as Garrick glanced at his watch.

"A wonderful woman, after all," he mused, in the manner of one who revises an estimate formed hastily on someone else's hearsay. "Well, it's too late to do anything more to-night. I suppose those papers are printed down at the Star. We'll stop and get them in the morning. Did you recognise the voice over the vocaphone?"

 "I can't say I did," I confessed.

 "Perhaps you aren't used to it and things sound too metallic to you. But I did. It was the Chief."

 "I suspected as much," I replied. "Where do you suppose he went?"

 Garrick shrugged his shoulders.

 "I doubt whether we could find him in New York to-night," he answered, slowly. "I think he must feel by this time that the town is getting too hot for him."

 There was nothing that I could say, and I played the part admirably.

 "Come," he decided, as he turned from the hotel in the direction, now, of our apartment. "Let's snatch a little rest. We'll need it to-morrow for the final spurt."

Tired and exhausted though I was I cannot say that I slept. At least, it may have been physical rest that I got. Certainly my mind never stopped in its dream play, as the kaleidoscopic stream of events passed before me, now in their true form, now in the fantastic shapes that constitute one of the most interesting studies of the modern psychology.

I was glad when I heard Garrick stirring in his room in the early daylight and heard him call out, "Are you awake, Tom? There are some things I want to attend to, while you drop into the Star for those papers. I'm afraid you'll have to breakfast alone. Meet me at my office as soon as you can."

He was off a few minutes later, as fresh as though he had been on a vacation instead of plunged into the fight of his life. I followed him, more leisurely, and then rode down in the infernal jam in the subway to execute his commission. Then for an hour or two I fidgeted impatiently in his office waiting for him, until finally he came downtown in the racing car which Warrington had placed at his disposal.

He said nothing, but it was all the same to me. I had reached that nervous state where I craved something doing, as a drug-fiend craves the dope that sets his brain on fire again.

I did not ask where he was going, for I knew it intuitively, and it was not long before we were again in the part of the city where the gangster's garage was located.

 We stopped and Garrick beckoned to an urchin, a couple of blocks below the garage.

 "Do you want to make a dollar, kid?" he asked, jingling four quarters enticingly.

 The boy's eyes never left the fist that held the tempting bait. "Betcherlife," he answered.

"Well, then," instructed Garrick, "take these newspapers. I don't want you to sell any of them on the street. But when you come to that garage over there--see it?-I want you to yell, 'Extra-- special extra! All about the great gambling exposure. Warrants out!' Just go in there. They'll buy, all right. And if you say a word about anyone giving you these papers to sell--I'll chase you and get back this dollar to the last cent. You'll go to the Gerry Society--get me?"

The boy did. The bait was as alluring as the threat terrible. After Garrick had given him final instructions not to start with the papers for at least five minutes, we slipped quietly around the next street and came out near the Old Tavern, but not in front of it.

Garrick left the car--I had been riding almost on the mud guard-- in charge of Warrington's man, who was to appear to be tinkering with the engine as an excuse for waiting there, and to keep an eye on anything that happened down the street.

We made our way into our room at the Tavern with more than ordinary caution, for fear that something might have been discovered. Apparently, however, the discovery of one detectaphone had been enough to disarm further suspicion, and the garage keeper had not thought it necessary to examine the telephone wires to see whether they had been tampered with in any way. The wire which he had thought led to the warehouse had seemed quite sufficient to explain everything.

 In the room which we had used so much, we found the other detectaphone working splendidly. Garrick picked it up.

By the sound, evidently, someone in the garage was overhauling a car. It may have been that they were fixing one up so that its rightful owner would never recognize it, or they may have been getting ready to take one out. There was no way of determining.

We could hear one of the workmen helping about the car, a man whom we had listened to when the instrument first introduced us to the place. The second machine, connected with the telephone, did not transmit quite as clearly as the broken detective device had done, but it served and, besides, we could both hear through this and could confirm anything that might be indistinct to either of us alone.

 "The Chief has gone up-state," remarked Garrick, piecing together the conversation where we had broken into it.

 "We had to hustle to make that boat," remarked a voice which I recognised as that of one of the men.

"But she got off all right, didn't she?" "Sure--he had the tickets and everything, and her baggage had already gone aboard."

"That's Lucille, I suppose," supplied Garrick. "No doubt part of her bribe for getting Miss Winslow into their power was free passage back to France. We can't stop to take up her case, yet."

"My--but the Chief was mad," continued the voice of the man who must have been not only a machinist but a chauffeur when occasion demanded. "He had a package of letters. I don't know what they were--looked as if they might be from some woman."

 "What did he do with them?" asked the Boss in a tone that showed that he knew something, at least, about them already.

"Why, he was so mad after that fellow Garrick and the other fellow beat him out, that when we went down along West Street to the boat with that other woman, he tore them up and threw them in the river."

 "Did he say anything?"

 "Why, I tell you he was mad. He tore 'em up and threw them in the river. I think he said there wasn't a damn thing in 'em except a lot of mush, anyhow."

 An amused smile crossed Garrick's face as he added, parenthetically, "Good-bye to Warrington's love letters that they took from his safe."

 "At least there has been nothing they managed to get that night of the fire that they have been able to use against Warrington," I remarked, with satisfaction.

"Listen," cautioned Garrick. "What's that they are saying? Someone has told the Boss--he's talking--that they can go over Dillon's head and get back all the gambling paraphernalia? Well, I've been there, at the raided place, to-day, and it doesn't look so. The stuff has all been taken down to headquarters. Ah, so that is the game that is in the wind, is it? Get it all back by a court order and open somewhere else. Here's our boy."

The improvised newsboy had apparently stuck his head in the door as he had been instructed, for we could hear them greet him with a growl, until he yelled lustily, "Extry, special extry! All about the big gambling exposure! Warrants out! Extry!"

"Hey, you kid," came a voice from the detectaphone, "let's see that paper. What is it--the Star? Well, I'll be--! Read that. Someone's snitched to the district attorney, I'll bet. That'll make the Chief sore, all right--and he's 'way up in the country, too. I don't dare wire it to him. No, someone'll have to take a copy of this paper up there to him and tip him off. He'll be redheaded if he doesn't know about it. He was the last time anything happened. Hurry up. Finish with this car. I'll take it myself."

 Garrick laughed, almost gleefully.

"The plant has begun to work," he cried. "We'll wait here until just before he's ready to start. Three of us around our car on the street are too many. He must be getting ready for a long run."

"How much gas is there in this tank?" the gruff voice of the Boss demanded. "You dummy--not two gallons! No, you finish what you're doing. I'll fill it myself. There isn't any time for fooling now."

 There was the steady trickle of the stream of gasoline as he drew it.

"Any extra tires? What! Not a new shoe in the place? Give me a couple of the best of those old ones. Never mind. Here are two over by the telephone. Say, what the devil is this wire back here- -cut in on the telephone wire? Well,--rip it out! That's some more of that fellow Garrick's work. We got rid of one thing the other night. Well, thank heaven, I didn't have any telephone calls to- day. While I'm gone, you go over this place thoroughly. God knows how many other things he may have put in here."

 "Confound it!" muttered Garrick, as a pair of pliers made our second detectaphone die with an expiring gasp in the middle of a sentence of profanity.

 "Come on, Tom," he shouted.

There was no use now in remaining any longer in the room. Gathering up the receiving apparatus, Garrick quickly carried it down and tossed it into the waiting car around the corner. Then he sent Warrington's man to hang around, up the street, and watch what was going on at the garage.

Garrick was to drive the car himself, and we were going to leave Warrington's man behind. We could tell by the actions of the man as he stood down the street that something was taking place at the garage.

We could hear a horn blow, and I knew that the doors had opened and a big car had been backed out, slowly. Our own engine was running perfectly in spite of the seeming trouble with which we had covered up our delay. Garrick jumped in at the wheel, and I followed. The man on the corner was signalling that the car was going in the opposite direction. We leaped ahead.

As the big car ahead slipped along eastward, we followed at such a distance as not to attract attention. It was easy enough to do that, but not so easy to avoid getting tied up among the trucks laden with foodstuffs of every description which blocked the streets over in this part of town.

Where the car ahead was bound, we did not know, but I could see that the driver was a stocky fellow, who slouched down into his seat, and handled his car almost as if it had been a mere toy. It was, I felt positive, the man whom McBirney had reported one night about the neighbourhood of Longacre Square in the car which had once been Warrington's. This, at least, was a different car, I knew. Now I realised the wisdom of allowing this man, whom they called the Boss, to go free. Under the influence of Garrick's "plant," he was to lead us to the right trail to the Chief.

It was easier now to follow the car since it had worked its way into lower Fifth Avenue. On uptown it went. We hung on doggedly in the mass of traffic going north at this congested hour.

At last it turned into Forty-seventh Street. It was stopping at the ladies' gambling joint, apparently to confirm the news. I had thought that the place was closed, until the present trouble blew over, but it seemed that there must be someone there. The Boss was evidently well known, for he was immediately admitted.

Garrick did not stop. He kept on around the corner to the raided poolroom on the next street. Dillon's man, who had been stationed there to watch the place, bowed and admitted him.

"I'm going to throw it into him good, this time," remarked Garrick, as he entered. "I've been planning this stunt for an emergency--and it's here. Now for the big scare!"