"And I tell you, I didn't!"There passed many seconds, wbittorrent crypto rankinghile the two men battled in silence,will warring against will. ... In the end, it was the murdererwho triumphed.
"But we do. And I don't suppose you'll have any real difficulty. Intron price inr converternocent men aren't guillotined. You'll find our Paris friends will assure you of that. . . . You're best course is to get back as quickly as you can, and let them know you didn't wait to be extradited.""It sounds pleasant for me."
"Sorry, Kindell. But it's all in the game. And if you will go where policemen are being killed, and where you've no business to be - - ""Yes. I see that. . . . Well, I'll get back, and find out what I can."He hung up, conscious rather of a confused excitement of mind than any real fear. It would be absurd to accuse him of such a crime. Yet he saw points which he disliked. It was true that no one but Reynard had known that he was an agent of the English police. True that Reynard's methods were so individual, so secretive, that no one living might know the purpose which had taken him to the H?tel Splendide, or why he should have been in the ambassador's suite. Kindell himself could form no more than a vague conjecture concerning that, though he must accept the fact, Superintendent Henderson being a most unlikely man to be inaccurate, or extend statements beyond that of which he had been clearly informed. He saw also that, if the murder had been perpetrated in such a manner that suspicion was divided between Thurlow and himself, there might be a very natural official inclination to prefer the less conspicuous accus?.He looked at the clock, and said, "Damn," observing that he still had more than three hours to wait. He had the temperament which prefers to meet trouble quickly, if it cannot be left aside. But that disposition did not prevent him eating a good dinner, or sleeping well on a boat that pitched and rolled as it faced a gusty wind and a choppy sea.Chapter 10 Thurlow Is Annoyed
CYRIL B. THURLOW, accredited Ambassador Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary from the United States to the Court of St. James, might or might not be a guilty, but he was certainly a most angry, man.The French have a reputation for being more excitable than the people of his own land, but in this instance the contrast was of a contrary kind. Mr. Thurlow's explosive indignation found itself unable to disturb the calm, or deflect the course, of an investigation which, while treating him with extreme courtesy was yet of a coldly probing implacability.But Mary's next words came wholly as a surprise, seeminglytotally irrelevant to this instant of crisis. Yet they ranga-throb with an hysterical anxiety.
"Dick," she cried, "what are those tapestries worth?" With thequestion, she pointed toward the draperies that shrouded thegreat octagonal window.The young man was plainly astonished, disconcerted as well by theobtrusion of a sordid detail into the tragedy of the time."Why in the world do you----?" he began, impatiently.Mary stamped her foot angrily in protest against the delay.
"Tell me--quick!" she commanded. The authority in her voice andmanner was not to be gainsaid.Dick yielded sullenly.
"Oh, two or three hundred dollars, I suppose," he answered."Why?""Never mind that!" Mary exclaimed, violently. And now the girl'svoice came stinging like a whiplash. In Garson's face, too, wasgrowing fury, for in an instant of illumination he guessedsomething of the truth. Mary's next question confirmed his ragingsuspicion."How long have you had them, Dick?"By now, the young man himself sensed the fact that somethingmysteriously baneful lay behind the frantic questioning on thisseemingly trivial theme."Ever since I can remember," he replied, promptly.
Mary's voice came then with an intonation that broughtenlightenment not only to Garson's shrewd perceptions, but alsoto the heavier intelligences of Dacey and of Chicago Red."And they're not famous masterpieces which your father boughtrecently, from some dealer who smuggled them into this country?"So simple were the words of her inquiry, but under them beatsomething evil, deadly.The young man laughed contemptuously."I should say not!" he declared indignantly, for he resented theimplication against his father's honesty.
"It's a trick! Burke's done it!" Mary's words came with accusingvehemence.There was another single step made by Griggs toward the door intothe passage.
Mary's eye caught the movement, and her lips soundlessly formedthe name:"Griggs!"The man strove to carry off the situation, though he knew wellthat he stood in mortal peril. He came a little toward the girlwho had accused him of treachery. He was very dapper in hisevening clothes, with his rather handsome, well-groomed face setin lines of innocence.
"He's lying to you!" he cried forcibly, with a scornful gesturetoward Dick Gilder. "I tell you, those tapestries are worth amillion cold."Mary's answer was virulent in its sudden burst of hate. Foronce, the music of her voice was lost in a discordant cry ofdetestation."You stool-pigeon! You did this for Burke!"Griggs sought still to maintain his air of innocence, and hestrove well, since he knew that he fought for his life againstthose whom he had outraged. As he spoke again, his tones weretremulous with sincerity--perhaps that tremulousness was bornchiefly of fear, yet to the ear his words came stoutly enough fortruth:"I swear I didn't! I swear it!"Mary regarded the protesting man with abhorrence. The perjuredwretch shrank before the loathing in her eyes."You came to me yesterday," she said, with more of restraint inher voice now, but still with inexorable rancor. "You came to meto explain this plan. And you came from him--from Burke!""I swear I was on the level. I was tipped off to the story by apal," Griggs declared, but at last the assurance was gone out ofhis voice. He felt the hostility of those about him.Garson broke in ferociously."It's a frame-up!" he said. His tones came in a deadened roar ofwrath.
On the instant, aware that further subterfuge could be of noavail, Griggs swaggered defiance."And what if it is true?" he drawled, with a resumption of hisaristocratic manner, while his eyes swept the group balefully.
He plucked the police whistle from his waistcoat-pocket, andraised it to his lips.He moved too slowly. In the same moment of his action, Garsonhad pulled the pistol from his pocket, had pressed the trigger.
There came no spurt of flame. There was no sound--save perhaps afaint clicking noise. But the man with the whistle at his lipssuddenly ceased movement, stood absolutely still for the space ofa breath. Then, he trembled horribly, and in the next instantcrashed to the floor, where he lay rigid, dead."Damn you--I've got you!" Garson sneered through clenched teeth.
His eyes were like balls of fire. There was a frightful grin oftriumph twisting his mouth in this minute of punishment.In the first second of the tragedy, Dick had not understood.Indeed, he was still dazed by the suddenness of it all. But thefalling of Griggs before the leveled weapon of the other man,there to lie in that ghastly immobility, made him to understand.He leaped toward Garson--would have wrenched the pistol from theother's grasp. In the struggle, it fell to the floor.
Before either could pick it up, there came an interruption. Evenin the stress of this scene, Chicago Red had never relaxed hisprofessional caution. A slight noise had caught his ear, he hadstooped, listening. Now, he straightened, and called his warning."Somebody's opening the front door!"Garson forgot his weapon in this new alarm. He sprang to theoctagonal window, even as Dick took possession of the pistol.
"The street's empty! We must jump for it!" His hate was forgottennow in an emotion still deeper, and he turned to Mary. His facewas all gentleness again, where just before it had been evilincarnate, aflame with the lust to destroy. "Come on, Mary," hecried.Already Chicago Red had snapped off the lights of the chandelier,had sprung to the window, thrown open a panel of it, and hadvanished into the night, with Dacey at his heels. As Garsonwould have called out to the girl again in mad anxiety for haste,he was interrupted by Dick:
"She couldn't make it, Garson," he declared coolly andresolutely. "You go. It'll be all right, you know. I'll takecare of her!""If she's caught----!" There was an indescribable menace in theforger's half-uttered threat."She won't be." The quality of sincerity in Dick's voice wasmore convincing than any vow might have been.
"If she is, I'll get you, that's all," Garson said gravely, asone stating a simple fact that could not be disputed.Then he glanced down at the body of the man whom he had done todeath."And you can tell that to Burke!" he said viciously to the dead."You damned squealer!" There was a supremely malevolent contentin his sneer.
Chapter 19 Within The TollsThe going of Garson left the room deathly still. Dick stared fora moment at the space of window left uncovered by the draperiesnow, since the man had hurried past them, without pausing to drawthem after him. Then, presently, the young man turned again toMary, and took her hand in his. The shock of the event hadsomehow steadied him, since it had drawn his thoughts from thatother more engrossing mood of concern over the crisis in his ownlife. After all, what mattered the death of this crook? hisfancy ran. The one thing of real worth in all the world was thelife that remained to be lived between him and her.... Then,violently, the selfishness of his mood was made plain to him.
For the hand he held was shaking like some slender-stalked lilyin the clutch of the sirocco. Even as he first perceived thefact, he saw the girl stagger. His arm swept about her in avirile protecting embrace--just in time, or she would havefallen.A whisper came from her quivering lips. Her face was close tohis, else he could not have caught the uncertain murmuring. Thatface now was become ghastly pale. The violet eyes were widenedand dull. The muscles of her face twitched. She rested supinelyagainst him, as if bereft of any strength of body or of soul.
Yet, in the intensity of her utterance, the feeble whisper strucklike a shriek of horror."I--I--never saw any one killed before!"The simple, grisly truth of the words--words that he might havespoken as well--stirred the man to the deeps of his being. Heshuddered, as he turned his eyes to avoid seeing the thing thatlay so very near, mercifully merged within the shadows beyond thegentle radiance from the single lamp. With a pang of infinitepity for the woman in his arms, he apprehended in some degree thetorture this event must have inflicted on her. Frightful to him,it must in truth be vastly worse to her. There was her womanlysensitiveness to enhance the innate hideousness of the thing thathad been done here before their eyes. There was, too, the factthat the murderer himself had been the man to whom she owed herlife. Yes, for him, Dick realized with poignant sympathy, thehappening that night was terrible indeed: for her, as he guessednow at last, the torture must be something easily to overwhelmall her strength. His touch on her grew tender beyond theordinary tenderness of love, made gentler by a great underlyingcompassion for her misery.