The Adventures of Jimmie Dale HTML version

I.5. The Affair Of The Pushcart Man
Larry the Bat shambled out of the side door of the tenement into the back
alleyway; shambled along the black alleyway to the street--and smiled a little
grimly as a shadow across the roadway suddenly shifted its position. The game
was growing acute, critical, desperate even--and it was his move.
Larry the Bat, disreputable denizen of the underworld, alias Jimmie Dale,
millionairs clubman, alias the Gray Seal, whom Carruthers of the MORNING
NEWS-ARGUS called the master criminal of the age, shuffled along in the
direction of the Bowery, his hands plunged deep in the pockets of his frayed and
tattered trousers, where his fingers, in a curious, wistful way, fondled the keys of
his own magnificent residence on Riverside Drive. It was his move--and it was an
impasse, ironical, sardonic, and it was worse--it was full of peril.
True, he had outwitted Kline of the secret service two nights before, when Kline
had raided the counterfeiters' den; true, he had no reason to believe that Kline
suspected HIM specifically, but the man Kline wanted HAD entered the tenement
that night, and since then the house had been shadowed day and night. The
result was both simple and disastrous--to Jimmie Dale. Larry the Bat, a known
inmate of the house, might come and go as he pleased--but to emerge from the
Sanctuary in the person of Jimmie Dale would be fatal. Kline had been outwitted,
but Kline had not acknowledged final defeat. The tenement had been searched
from top to bottom-- unostentatiously. His own room on the first landing had been
searched the previous afternoon, when he was out, but they had failed to find the
cunningly contrived opening in the floor under the oilcloth in the corner, an
impromptu wardrobe, that would proclaim Larry the Bat and Jimmie Dale to be
one and the same person--that would inevitably lead further to the establishment
of his identity as the Gray Seal. In time, of course, the surveillance would cease--
but he could not wait. That was the monumental irony of it--the factor that, all
unknown to Kline, was forcing the issue hard now. It was his move.