The Adventures of Jimmie Dale HTML version

I.10. The Alibi
DEATH TO THE GRAY SEAL!"--through the underworld, in dens and dives that
sheltered from the law the vultures that preyed upon society, prompted by self-
fear, by secret dread, by reason of their very inability to carry out their purpose,
the whispered sentence grew daily more venomous, more insistent. THE GRAY
SEAL, DEAD OR ALIVE-- BUT THE GRAY SEAL!" It was the "standing orders"
of the police. Railed at by a populace who angrily demanded at its hands this
criminal of criminals, mocked at and threatened by a virulent press, stung to
madness by the knowledge of its own impotence, flaunted impudently to its face
by this mysterious Gray Seal to whose door the law laid a hundred crimes, for
whom the bars of a death cell in Sing Sing was the certain goal could he but be
caught, the police, to a man, was like an uncaged beast that, flicked to the raw by
some unseen assailant and murderous in its fury, was crouched to strike. Grim
paradox--a common bond that linked the hands of the law with those that
outraged it!
Death to the Gray Seal! Was it, at last, the beginning of the end? Jimmie Dale, as
Larry the Bat, unkempt, disreputable in appearance, supposed dope fiend, a
figure familiar to every denizen below the dead line, skulked along the narrow, ill-
lighted street of the East Side that, on the corner ahead, boasted the notorious
resort to which Bristol Bob had paid the doubtful, if appropriate, compliment of
giving his name. From under the rim of his battered hat, Jimmie Dale's eyes,
veiled by half-closed, well-simulated drug-laden lids, missed no detail either of
his surroundings or pertaining to the passers-by. Though already late in the
evening, half-naked children played in the gutters; hawkers of multitudinous
commodities cried their wares under gasoline banjo torches affixed to their
pushcarts; shawled women of half a dozen races, and men equally cosmopolitan,
loitered at the curb, or blocked the pavement, or brushed by him. Now a man
passed him, flinging a greeting from the corner of his mouth; now another,
always without movement of the lips--and Jimmie Dale answered them--from the
corner of his mouth.