The White Moll by Frank L. Packard - HTML preview

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The Old Shed

 

Rhoda Gray opened her eyes, and, from the cot upon which she lay, stared with drowsy curiosity around the garret - and in another instant was sitting bolt upright, alert and tense, as the full flood of memory swept upon her.

There was still a meager light creeping in through the small, grimy window panes, but it was the light of waning day. She must have slept, then, all through the morning and the afternoon, slept the dead, heavy sleep of exhaustion from the moment she had flung herself down here a few hours before daybreak.

She rose impulsively to her feet. It was strange that she had not been disturbed, that no one had come to the garret! The recollection of the events of the night before were crowding themselves upon her now. In view of last night, in view of her failure to keep that appointment in the role of Danglar's wife, it was very strange indeed that she had been left undisturbed!

Subconsciously she was aware that she was hungry, that it was long since she had eaten, and, almost mechanically, she prepared herself something now from the store the garret possessed; but, even as she ate, her mind was far from thoughts of food. From the first night she had come here and self-preservation had thrust this miserable role of Gypsy Nan upon her, from that first night and from the following night when, to save the Sparrow, she had been whirled into the vortex of the gang's criminal activities, her mind raced on through the sequence of events that seemed to have spanned some vast, immeasurable space of time until they had brought her to - last night.

Last night! She had thought it was the end last night, but instead - The dark eyes grew suddenly hard and intent. Yes, she had counted upon last night, when, with the necessary proof in her possession with which to confront Danglar with the crime of murder, she could wring from the man all that now remained necessary to substantiate her own story and clear herself in the eyes of the law of that robbery at Skarbolov's antique store of which she was held guilty - and instead she had barely escaped with her life. That was the story of last night.

Her eyes grew harder. Well, the way was still open, wasn't it? Last night had changed nothing in that respect. To-night, as the White Moll, she had only to find and corner Danglar as she had planned to do last night. She had still only to get the man alone somewhere.

Rhoda Gray's hands clenched tightly. That was all that was necessary - just the substantiation of her own story that the plot to rob Skarbolov lay at the door of Danglar and his gang; or, rather, perhaps, that the plot was in existence before she had ever heard of Skarbolov. It would prove her own statement of what the dying woman had said. It would exonerate her from guilt; it would prove that, rather than having any intention of committing crime, she had taken the only means within her power of preventing one. The real Gypsy Nan, Danglar's wife, who had died that night, bad, even in eleventh-hour penitence, refused to implicate her criminal associates. There was a crime projected which, unless she, Rhoda Gray, would agree to forestall it in person and would give her oath not to warn the police about it and so put the actual criminals in jeopardy, would go on to its fulfillment!

She remembered that night in the hospital. The scene came vividly before her now. The woman's pleading, the woman's grim loyalty even in death to her pals. She, Rhoda Gray, had given her oath.

It became necessary only to substantiate those facts. Danglar could be made to do it. She had now in her possession the evidence that would convict him of complicity in the murder of Deemer, and for which murder the original Gypsy Nan had gone into hiding; she even had in her possession the missing jewels that had prompted that murder; she had, too, the evidence now to bring the entire gang to justice for their myriad depredations; she knew where their secret hoard of ill-gotten gains was hidden - here in this attic, behind that ingeniously contrived trap-door in the ceiling. She knew all this; and this information placed before the police, providing only it was backed by the proof that the scheme to rob Skarbolov was to be carried out by the gang, as she, Rhoda Gray, would say the dying woman had informed her, would be more than enough to clear her. She had not had this proof on that first night when she had snatched at the mantle of Gypsy Nan as the sole means of escape from Rough Rorke, of headquarters; she did not have it now - but she would have it, stake all and everything in life she had to have it, for it, in itself, literally meant everything and all - and Danglar would make a written confession, or else - or else - She smiled mirthlessly. That was all! Last night she had failed. To-night she would not fail. Before morning came, if it were humanly within her power, she and Danglar would have played out their game - to the end.

And now a pucker came and gathered her forehead into little furrows, and anxiety and perplexity crept into her eyes. Another thought tormented her. In the exposure that was to come the Adventurer, alias the Pug, was involved. Was there any way to save the man to whom she owed so much, the splendidly chivalrous, high-couraged gentleman she loved, the thief she abhorred?

She pushed the remains of her frugal meal away from her, stood up abruptly from the rickety washstand at which she had been seated, and commenced to pace nervously up and down the stark, bare garret. Where was the line of demarcation between right and wrong? Was it a grievous sin, or an infinitely human thing to do, to warn the man she loved, and give him a chance to escape the net she meant to furnish the police? He was a thief, even a member of the gang - though he used the gang as his puppets. Did ethics count when one who had stood again and again between her and peril was himself in danger now? Would it be a righteous thing, or an act of despicable ingratitude, to trap him with the rest?

She laughed out shortly. Warn him! Of course, she would warn him! But then - what? She shivered a little, and her face grew drawn and tired. It was the old, old story of the pitcher and the well. It was almost inevitable that sooner or later, for some crime or another, the man she loved would be caught at last, and would spend the greater portion of his days behind prison bars. That was what the love that had come into her life held as its promise to her! It was terrible enough without her agency being the means of placing him there!

She did not want to think about it. She forced her mind into other channels, though they were scarcely less disquieting. Why was it that during the day just past there had been not a sign from Danglar or any one of the gang, when every plan of theirs had gone awry last night, and she had failed to keep her appointment in the role of Danglar's wife? Why was it? What did it mean? Surely Danglar would never allow what had happened to pass unchallenged, and - was that some one now?

She halted suddenly by the door to listen, her hand going instinctively to the wide, voluminous pocket of her greasy skirt for her revolver. Yes, there was a footstep in the hall below, but it was descending now to the ground floor, not coming up. She even heard the street door close, but still she hung there in a strained, tense way, and into her face there came creeping a gray dismay. Her pocket was empty.

The revolver was gone! Its loss, pregnant with a hundred ominous possibilities, seemed to bring a panic fear upon her, holding her for a moment inert - and then she rushed frantically to the cot. Perhaps it had fallen out of her pocket during the hours she had lain there asleep. She searched the folds of the soiled and crumpled blanket, that was the cot's sole covering, then snatched the blanket completely off the cot and shook it; and then, down on her knees, she searched the floor under the cot. There was no sign of the revolver.

Rhoda Gray stood up, and stared in a stunned way about her. Was this, then, the explanation of her having seemingly been left undisturbed here all through the day? Had some one, after all, been here, and -? She shook her head suddenly with a quick, emphatic gesture of dissent. The door was still locked, she could see the key on the inside; and, besides, as a theory, it wasn't logical. They wouldn't have taken her revolver and left her placidly asleep!

The loss of the revolver was a vital matter. It was her one safeguard; the one means by which she could first gain and afterwards hold the whip-hand over Danglar in the interview she proposed to have with him; the one means of escape, the last resort, if she herself were cornered and fell into his power. It had sustained her more than once, that resolution to turn it against herself if she were in extremity. It meant everything to her, that weapon, and it was gone now; but the panic that had seized upon her was gone too, and she could think rationally and collectively again.

Last night, or rather this morning, when she had made her way back to the shed out there in the lane behind the garret, she had been in a state of almost utter exhaustion. She had changed from the clothes of the White Moll to those of Gypsy Nan, but she must have done so almost mechanically for she had no concrete recollection of it. It was quite likely then, even more than probable, that she had left the revolver in the pocket of her other clothes; for she had certainly had, not only her revolver, but her flashlight and her skeleton keys with her when she had visited old Luertz's place last night, and later on too, when she had jumped into that automobile in front of the Silver Sphinx, she had had her revolver, for she had used it to force the chauffeur out of the car - and she had no one of those articles now.

Of course! That was it! She stepped impulsively to the door, and, opening it, made her way quickly down the stairs to the street. The revolver was undoubtedly in the pocket of her other skirt, and she felt a surge of relief sweep upon her; but a sense of relief was far from enough. She would not feel safe until the weapon was again in her possession, and intuitively she felt that she had no time to lose in securing it. She had already been left too long alone not to make a break in that unaccountable isolation they had accorded her as something to be expected at any moment. She hurried now down the street to the lane that intervened between Gypsy Nan's house and the next corner, glanced quickly about her, and, seeing no one in her immediate vicinity, slipped into the lane. She gained the deserted shed some fifty yards along the lane, entered through the broken door that hung, half open, on sagging hinges, and, dropping on her knees, reached in under the decayed and rotting flooring. She pushed aside impatiently the package of jewels, at whose magnificence she had gazed awe-struck and bewildered the night before, and drew out the bundle that comprised her own clothing. Her hand sought the pocket eagerly. Yes, it was here - at least the flashlight was, and so were the skeleton keys. That was what had happened! She had been near utter collapse last night, and she had forgotten, and - Rhoda Gray, unconscious even that she still held the clothing in her hands, rose mechanically to her feet. There was a sudden weariness in her eyes as she stared unseeingly about her. Yes, the flashlight and the keys were here - but the revolver was not! Her brain harked back in lightning flashes over the events of the preceding night. She must have lost it somewhere, then. Where? She had had it in the automobile, that she knew positively; but after that she did not remember, unless - yes, it must have been that! When she had jumped from the car and flung herself down at the roadside! It must have fallen out of her pocket then.

Her heart seemed to stand still. Suppose they had found it! They would certainly recognize it as belonging to Gypsy Nan! They were not fools. The deduction would be obvious - the identity of the White Moll would be solved. Was that why no one had apparently come near her? Were they playing at cat-and-mouse, watching her before they struck, so that she would lead them to those jewels under the flooring here that were worth a king's ransom? They certainly believed that the White Moll had them. The Adventurer's note, so ironically true, that he had intended as an alibi for himself, and which he had exchanged for the package in old Luertz's place, would have left no doubt in their minds but that the stones were in her possession. Was that it? Were they - She held her breath. It seemed as though suddenly her limbs were refusing to support her weight. In the soft earth outside she had heard no step, but she saw now a shadow fall athwart the half-open door-way. There was no time to move, even had she been capable of action. It seemed as though even her soul had turned to stone, and, with the White Moll's clothes in her hands, she stood there staring at the doorway, and something that was greater than fear, because it mingled horror, ugly and forbidding, fell upon her. It was still just light enough to see. The shadow moved forward and came inside. She wanted to scream, to rush madly in retreat to the farthest corner of the shed; but she could not move. It was Danglar who was standing there. He seemed to sway a little on his feet, and the dark, sinister face seemed blotched, and he seemed to smile as though possessed of some unholy and perverted sense of humor.

She was helpless, at his mercy, unarmed, saved for her wits. Her wits! Were wits any longer of avail? She could believe nothing else now except that he had been watching her  - before he struck.

 "What are you doing here, and what are those clothes you've got in your hands?" he rasped out.

She could only fence for time in the meager hope that some loophole would present itself. She forced an assumed defiance into her tones and manner, that was in keeping with the sort of armed truce, which, from her first meeting with Danglar, she had inaugurated as a barrier between them.

 "You have asked me two questions," she said tartly. "Which one do you want me to answer first?"

 "Look here," he snapped, "you cut that out! There's one or two things need explaining see? What are those clothes?"

Her wits! Perhaps he did not know as much as she was afraid he did! She seemed to have become abnormally contained, her mind abnormally acute and active. It was not likely that the woman, his wife, whom he believed she was, had worn her own clothes in his presence since the day, some two years ago, when she had adopted the disguise of Gypsy Nan; and she, Rhoda Gray, remembered that on the night Gypsy Nan, re-assuming her true personality, had gone to the hospital, the woman's clothes, like these she held now, had been of dark material. It was not likely that a man would be able to differentiate between those clothes and the clothes of the White Moll, especially as the latter hung folded in her hands now, and even though he had seen them on her at the Silver Sphinx last night.

 "What clothes do you suppose they are but my own? - though I haven't had a chance to wear them much lately!" she countered crisply.

 He scowled at her speculatively.

 "What are you doing with them out here in this hole, then?" he demanded.

"I had to wear them last night, hadn't I?" she retorted. "I'd have looked well coming out of Gypsy Nan's garret dressed as myself if any one had seen me! She scowled at him in turn. She was beginning to believe that he had not even an inkling of her identity. Her safest play was to stake everything on that belief. "Say, what's the matter with you?" she inquired disdainfully. "I came out here and changed last night; and I changed into these rags I'm wearing now when I got back again; and I left my own clothes here because I was expecting to get word that I could put them on again soon for keeps - though I might have known from past experience that something would queer the fine promises you made at Matty's last night! And the reason I'm out here now is because I left some things in the pocket, amongst them" - she stared at him mockingly -" my marriage certificate."

 Danglar's face blackened.

"Curse you!" he burst out angrily. "When you get your tantrums on, you've got a tongue, haven't you! You'd have been wearing your clothes now, if you'd have done as you were told. You're the one that queered things last night." His voice was rising; he was rocking even more unsteadily upon his feet. "Why in hell weren't you at the Silver Sphinx?"

Rhoda Gray squinted at him through Gypsy Nan's spectacles. She knew an hysterical impulse to laugh outright in the sure consciousness of supremacy over him now. The man had been drinking. He was by no means drunk; but, on the other hand, he was by no means sober - and she was certain now that, though she did not know how he had found her here in the shed, not the slightest suspicion of her had entered his mind.

 "I was at the Silver Sphinx," she announced coolly.

 "You lie!" he said hoarsely. "You weren't! I told you to be there at eleven, and you weren't. You lie! What are you lying to me for - eh? I'll find out, you - you -"

 Rhoda Gray dashed the clothes down on the floor at her feet, and faced the man as though suddenly overcome in turn herself with passion, shaking both closed fists at him.

"Don't you talk to me like that, Pierre Danglar!" she shrilled. "I lie, do I? Well, I'll prove to you I don't! You said you were going to have supper with Cloran at about eleven o'clock, and perhaps I was a few minutes after that, but maybe you think it's easy to get all this Gypsy Nan stuff off me face and all, and rig up in my own clothes that I haven't seen for so long it's a wonder they hold together at all. I lie, do I? Well, just as I got to the Silver Sphinx, I saw a woman breaking her neck to get down the steps with you after her. She jumped into the automobile it was doped out I was to take, and you jumped into the other one, and both beat it down the street. I thought you'd gone crazy. I was afraid that Cloran would come out and recognize me, so I turned and ran, too. The safest thing I could do was to get back into the Gypsy Nan game again, and that's what I did. And I've been lying low ever since, waiting to get word from some of you, and not a soul came near me. You're a nice lot, you are! And now you come sneaking here and call me a liar! How'd you get to this shed, anyway?"

 Danglar pushed his hand in a heavy, confused way across his eyes.

"My God!" he said heavily. "So that's it, is it?" His voice became suddenly conciliating in its tones. "Look here, Bertha, old girl, don't get sore. I didn't understand, see? And there was a whole lot that looked queer. We even lost the jewels at old Luertz's last night. Do you know who that woman was? It was the White Moll! She led us a chase all over Long Island, and -"

"The White Moll!" ejaculated Rhoda Gray. And then her laugh, short and jeering, rang out. The tables were turned. She had him on the defensive now. "You needn't tell me I She got away again, of course! Why don't you hire a detective to help you? You make me weary! So, it was the White Moll, was it? Well, I'm listening - only I'd like to know first how you got here to this shed."

"There's nothing in that!" he answered impatiently. "There's something more important to talk about. I was coming over to the garret, and just as I reached the corner I saw you go into the lane. I followed you; that's all there is to that."

"Oh!" she sniffed. She stared at him for a moment. There was something in which there was the uttermost of irony now, it seemed, in this meeting between them. Last night she had striven to meet him alone, and she had meant to devote to-night to the same purpose; and she was here with him now, and in a place than which, in her wildest hopes, she could have imagined one no better suited to the reckoning she would have demanded and forced. And she was helpless, powerless to make use of it. She was unarmed. Her revolver was gone. Without that to protect her, at an intimation that she was the White Moll she would never leave the shed alive. The spot would be quite as ideal under those circumstances for him, as it would have been under other circumstances for her. She shrugged her shoulders. Danglar's continued silence evidently invited further comment on her part. "Oh!" she sniffed again. "And I suppose, then, that you have been chasing the White Moll ever since last night at eleven, and that's why you didn't get around sooner to allay my fears, even though you knew I must be half mad with anxiety at the way things broke last night. She'll have us down and out for keeps if you haven't got brains enough to beat her. How much longer is this thing going on?"

 Danglar's little black eyes narrowed. She caught a sudden glint of triumph in them. It was Danglar now who laughed.

 "Not much longer!" His voice was arrogant with malicious satisfaction. "The luck had to turn, hadn't it? Well, it's turned! I've got the White Moll at last!"

She felt the color leave her face. It seemed as though something had closed with an icy clutch upon her heart. She had heard aright, hadn't she? - that he had said he had got the White Moll at last. And there was no mistaking the mans s sinister delight in making that announcement. Had she been premature, terribly premature, in assuring herself that her identity was still safe as far as he was concerned? Did it mean that, after all, he had been playing at cat-and-mouse with her, as she had at first feared?

"You - you've got the White Moll?" She forced the words from her lips, striving to keep her voice steady and in control, and to infuse into it an ironical incredulity. "Sure!" he said complacently. "The showdown comes to-night. In another hour or so we'll have her where we want her, and -"

"Oh!" She laughed almost hysterically in relief. "I thought so! You haven't got her yet. You're only going to get her - in another hour or so! You make me tired! It's always in 'another hour or so' with you - and it never comes off!"

 Danglar scowled at her under the taunt.

"It'll come off this time!" he snarled in savage menace. "You hold that tongue of yours! Yes, it'll come off! And when it does" - a sweep of fury sent the red into his working face - "I'll keep the promise I made her once - that she'd wish she had never been born! D'ye hear, Bertha?"

 "I hear," she said indifferently. "But would you mind telling me how you are going to do it? I might believe you then - perhaps!"

 "Damn you, Bertha!" he exploded. "Sometimes I'd like to wring that pretty neck of yours; and sometimes!" - he moved suddenly toward her - "I would sell my soul for you, and -"

 She retreated from him coolly.

 "Never mind about that! This isn't a love scene!" she purred caustically. "And as for the other, save it for the White Moll. What makes you think you've got her at last?"

"I don't think - I know." He stood gnawing at his lips, eying her uncertainly, half angrily, half hungrily. And then he shrugged his shoulders. "Listen!" he said. "I've got some one else, too! And I know now where the leak that's queered every one of our games and put the White Moll wise to every one of our plans beforehand has come from. I guess you'll believe me now, won't you? We've got that dude pal of hers fastened up tighter than the night he fastened me with his cursed handcuffs! Do you know who that same dude pal is?" He laughed in an ugly, immoderate way. "You don't, of course, so I'll tell you. It's the Pug!" Rhoda Gray did not answer. It was growing dark here in the shed now - perhaps that was why the man's form blended suddenly into the doorway and wall, and blurred before her. She tried to think, but there seemed to have fallen upon her a numbed and agonized stupefaction. There was no confusing this issue. Danglar had found out that the Adventurer was the Pug. And it meant - oh, what did it mean? They would kill him. Of course, they would kill him! The Adventurer, discovered, would be safer at the mercy of a pack of starved pumas, and...

"I thought that would hold you!" said Danglar with brutal serenity. "That's why I didn't get around till now. I didn't get back from that chase until daylight - the she-fiend stole our car - and then I went to bed to get a little sleep. About three o'clock this afternoon Pinkie Bonn woke me up. He was half batty with excitement. He said he was over in the tenement in the Pug's room. The Pug wasn't in, and Pinkie was waiting for him, and then all of a sudden he heard a woman screaming like mad from somewhere. He went to the door and looked out, and saw a man dash out of a room across the hall, and burst in the door of the next room. There was a woman in there with her clothes on fire. She'd upset a coal-oil stove, or something. The man Pinkie had seen beats the fire out, and everybody in the tenement begins to collect around the door. And then Pinkie goes pop-eyed. The man's face was the face of the White Moll's dude pal - but he had on the Pug's clothes. Pinkie's a wise guy. He slips away to me without getting himself in the limelight or spilling any beans. And I didn't ask him if he'd been punching the needle again overtime, either. It fitted like a glove with what happened at old Luertz's last night. You don't know about that. Pinkie and this double-crossing snitch went there - and only found a note from the White Moll. He'd tipped her off before, of course, and the note made a nice little play so's he'd be safe himself with us. Well, that's about all. We had to get him - where we wanted him - and we got him. We waited until he showed up again as the Pug, and then we put over a frame-up deal on him that got him to go over to that old iron plant in Harlem, you know, behind Jake Malley's saloon, where we had it fixed to hand Cloran his last night - and the Pug's there now. He's nicely gagged, and tied, and quite safe. The plant's been shut down for the last two months, and there's only the watchman there, and he's 'squared.' We gave the Pug two hours of solitary confinement to think it over and come across. We just asked him for the White Moll's address, so's we could get her and the sparklers she swiped at Old Luertz's place last night."

Still Rhoda Gray did not speak for a moment. She seemed to be held in thrall by both terror and a sickening dismay. It did not seem real, her surroundings here, this man, and the voice that was gloatingly pronouncing the death sentence upon the man who had come unbidden into her life, and into her heart, the man she loved. Yes, she understood! Danglar's words had been plain enough. The Adventurer had been trapped - not through Danglar's cunning, or lack of cunning on the Adventurer's own part, but through force of circumstances that had caused him to fling all thought of self-consideration to the winds in an effort to save another's life. Her hands, hidden in the folds of her skirt, clenched until they hurt. And it was another self, it seemed, subconsciously enacting the role of Gypsy Nan, alias Danglar's wife, who spoke at last.

"You are a fool! You are all fools!" she cried tempestuously. "What do you expect to gain by that? Do you imagine you can make the Pug come across with any information by a threat to kill him if he doesn't? You tried that once. You had him cold, or at least you thought you had, and so did he, that night in old Nicky Viner's room, and he laughed at you even when he expected you to fire the next second. He's not likely to have changed any since then, is he?"

 "No," said Danglar, with a vicious chuckle; "and that's why I'm not trying the same game twice. That's why we've got him over in the old iron plant now."

 There was something she did not like in Danglar's voice, something of ominous assurance, something that startled her.

"What do you mean?" she demanded sharply. "It's a lonely place," said Danglar complacently. "There's no one around but the watchman, and he's an old friend of Shluker's; and it's so roomy over there that no one could expect him to be everywhere at once. See? That let's him out. He's been well greased, and he won't know anything. Don't you worry, old girl! That's what I came here for - to tell you that everything is all right, after all. The Pug will talk. Maybe he wouldn't if he just had his choice between that and the quick, painless end that a bullet would bring; but there are some things that a man can't stand. Get me? We'll try a few of those on the Pug, and, believe me, before we're through, there won't be any secrets wrapped up in his bosom."

Rhoda Gray stood motionless. Thank God it had grown dark - dark enough to hide the whiteness that she knew had crept over her face, and the horror that had crept into her eyes. "You mean" - her voice was very low - "you mean you're going to torture him into talking?"

 "Sure!" said Danglar. "What do you think!"

 "And after that?"

"We bump him off, of course," said Danglar callously. "He knows all about us, don't he? And I guess we'll square up on what's coming to him! He's put the crimp into us for the last time!" Danglar's voice pitched suddenly hoarse in fury. "That's a hell of a question to ask! What do you think we'd do with a yellow cur that's double-crossed us like that?"

Plead for the Adventurer's life? It was useless; it was worse than useless - it would only arouse suspicion toward herself. From the standpoint of any one of the gang, the Adventurer's life was forfeit. Her mind was swift, cruelly swift, in its workings now. There came the prompting to disclose her own identity to tell Danglar that he need not go to the Adventurer to discover the whereabouts of the White Moll, that she was here now before him; there came the prompting to offer herself in lieu of the man she loved. But that, too, was useless, and worse than useless; they would still do away with the Adventurer because he had been the Pug, and the only chance he now had, as represented by whatever she might be able to do, would be gone, since she would but have delivered herself into their hands.

 She drew back suddenly. Danglar had stepped toward her. She was unable to avoid him, and his arm encircled her waist. She shivered as the pressure of his arm tightened.

"It's all right, old girl!" he said exuberantly. "You've been through hell, you have; but it's all right at last. You leave it to me! Your husband's got a kiss to make up for every drop of that grease you've had to put on the prettiest face in New York."

It seemed as though she must scream out. It was hideous. She could not force herself to endure it another instant even for safety's safe. She pushed him away. It was unbearable - at any risk, cost what it might. Mind, soul and body recoiled from the embrace. "Leave me alone!" she panted. "You've been drinking. Leave me alone!"

 He drew back, and laughed.

"Not very much," he said. "The celebration hasn't started yet, and you'll be in on that. I guess your nerves have been getting shaky lately, haven't they? Well, you can figure on the swellest rest-cure you ever heard of, Bertha. Take it from me! We're going down to keep the Pug company presently. You blow around to Matty's about midnight and get the election returns. We'll finish the job after that by getting Cloran out of the road some way before morning, and that will let you out for keeps - there won't be any one left to recognize the woman who was with Deemer the night he shuffled out." He backed to the doorway. "Get me? Come over to Matty's and see the rajah's sparklers about midnight. We'll have 'em then - and the she-fiend, too. So long, Bertha!"

 She scarcely heard him; she answered mechanically. "Good-night," she said.