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Title: A Self-Made Thief
Author: Hulbert Footner
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Language: English
Date first posted: November 2008
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Title: A Self-Made Thief
Author: Hulbert Footner


* * * * *



* * * * *


In the little card-room upstairs at the staid old Chronos Club on
Gramercy Park a heated argument was going on. It was late on a night
something like two years ago, and a long succession of refreshments from
the bar downstairs was, without doubt, contributing to the heat.
Heberdon, Spurway, Hanwell and Nedham, excellent fellows all, and good
friends, had become involved in a discussion which had nothing to do with
the game of bridge, and the cards were now lying unheeded on the table,
while the players scowled and shook their fingers at each other, and
otherwise went through the absurd pantomime of gentlemen annoyed with
each other.

"You don't know what you're talking about!"

"Oh, I don't, don't I? Do you?"

"You talk as if you were the fount of all wisdom, and we were humble
worshippers at the shrine."

"Your metaphors are mixed."

"Give us credit for some sense, Frank."

"I will, when you show any."

And so on. It appeared not to be a battle royal, but a case of three
against one, Heberdon being the one. He was making certain asseverations
on the subject of crime and criminals which the others violently and
scornfully combated. Heberdon was a lawyer in his early thirties, a
good-looking man of a pale, correct and regular cast of features, and of
a demeanour exact and punctilious to match. He appeared to be the calmest
of the quartet, but it was a calmness more apparent than real; he had his
features under better control, that was all.

Like most men of his type, his cold and inscrutable exterior concealed an
unbounded egoism and a mule like obstinacy. Opposition put him in a cold
fury contradict him often enough, and he would go to any lengths to
justify himself. This weakness of character was well known to his
friends, and in the beginning they had had no object, save to amuse
themselves by baiting him, but in doing so, as is not infrequently the
case, they had lost their own tempers--all about nothing.

It had started innocently enough. Heberdon, shuffling the cards, had
remarked in accents of scorn, "I see the police have got Corby."

"Who's Corby?" Spurway had asked. Spurway was a pink and portly
stockbroker. His ideas were few, but he repeated them often. He was the
noisiest of Heberdon's opponents.

"The hold-up man who got six thousand from a customer of the Eastern
Trust Company three days ago."

Heberdon's ideas on the subject of crime were a source of diversion to
his friends. Spurway had winked at the others. "What do you care?" he

"Nothing," was the indifferent reply. "Only, one hates to see such a
display of foolishness. Why, he got clean away with his six thousand
without leaving a clue. Six thousand for, maybe, three minutes' work! How
long do we have to sweat for six thousand, working honestly?"

"Oh, well, I guess honest work's easiest in the end," Spurway had
remarked virtuously.

"It is, if you're a born fool," said Heberdon tartly.

"If he left no clue, how did they land him?" asked Nedham idly. Nedham
was also a lawyer, but of a very different type from Heberdon, a large,
blond, slow and reliable sort of fellow, with eyes set wide apart in his
head and a benignant cast in one of them; in short, a man cut out by
nature to be the trusted repository of wills and family skeletons.

"The conceited fool wrote a letter to the newspapers, bragging of his

"Corby a friend of yours?" Hanwell had asked dryly. He was an advertising
man, dark, slender and quick. He dealt mostly in personalities, and he
knew best how to get under Heberdon's thin skin.

"Don't be an ass, Han."

"Well, you seem to take it to heart, his getting pinched."

"It's nothing, of course, but one hates to see a neat bit of work spoiled
by stupid conceit."

"Why don't you set up a correspondence course in crime, Frank?" Hanwell
had asked at this juncture.

Heberdon ignored the flippant query. The laughter of the others annoyed
him excessively.

"Oh, well, I expect if they hadn't got him one way they would in
another," Spurway remarked in his heavy way. "A crook hasn't got a chance
in the world. The dice are loaded against him."

Now, Heberdon's hobby was crime and criminals. He possessed quite an
extensive library on such matters, and he had likewise gone deeply into
the correlated subjects of police methods, locks, disguises, et cetera.
He looked upon himself as an expert authority, and, therefore, it greatly
increased his irritation to hear a stupid fellow like Spurway laying down
the law.

"That shows how little you have thought about it," he had retorted.
"That's the impression the police like to give out. That's what we tell
ourselves in order to feel comfortable. As a matter of fact, the exact
reverse is the truth. Wealth is wide open. All a man has to do is to help
himself. With the most ordinary horse sense a crook would run no greater
risks than a man in a so-called honest business."

It was these extreme statements which had really started the fray. "Come
off!" they cried derisively. "What kind of dope do you use?"

"Oh, when you can't answer an argument it's easy to become abusive!"
retorted Heberdon with his irritating superior air.

"The movies have softened your brain!" suggested Spurway.

"I'm not interested in the movie brand of crime," returned Heberdon
coldly. "I know something about the real thing."

"But according to the statistics a very great proportion of crimes are
solved and the perpetrators punished," remarked Nedham.

"A very great proportion of crimes never get into the newspapers or into
the statistics," said Heberdon. "In such cases it is to the interest both
to those who have suffered and to the police to conceal them. Even if
your argument were well founded it would only prove that criminals have
no more sense than other men. I said if he had horse sense."

"In your opinion there's only one really sensible man honest or
dishonest," remarked Hanwell dryly. Heberdon ignored him.

"Haven't we got ten thousand police in this town?" demanded Spurway. "How
do they occupy themselves?"

"Ten thousand patrolmen," corrected Heberdon. "They have nothing to do
with solving crime. That's in the hands of the few hundred men in the
Central Detective Bureau. All they do is to look wise and wait for a
crook to betray himself."

"It's just a cheap popular stunt to run down the police," observed
Spurway. "I don't take any stock in it."

"I'm not running down the police," said Heberdon. "I suppose they do all
they can. But what can they do? In fiction, of course, the
super-detective performs amazing feats of analysis and deduction, but
you've got to remember that the author planned it all out in advance and
was able to make things come out just the way he pleased. In life,
detectives are just ordinary human beings. If a crook makes his getaway
without leaving any clue, the sleuths are up a tree, aren't they? They
can't get messages out of the air!"

"There's always a clue!"

"There needn't be, if the crook has good sense."

"That's all right as far as it goes," said Nedham in his slow way; "but
you overlook the fact that the whole of society is organised on a
law-abiding basis. That is to say, every one of us is behind the
policeman, while every hand is raised against the crook He's at a
hopeless disadvantage."

"Not at all," retorted Heberdon. "It's only the consciousness of our
helplessness that makes us stand behind the police. It's the policeman
that's at a disadvantage. The crook prepares his plans in secrecy; he can
take as much time as he wants. Every crime is a surprise sprung on
society, a fresh riddle to be guessed. It's easier to make a riddle for
others to solve than to solve other people's riddles, isn't it?"

"It's not only a question of being caught," said Nedham. "When a man
kicks over the traces he becomes an outcast, a stray dog; all the
decencies of life are out of his reach."

Heberdon, in his anger, went a little further than he intended. "When a
man kicks over the traces he becomes free!" he cried. "He is no longer
subject to the absurd and galling rules that bind us down. He lives his
own life!"

The other three stared at him in a startled way.

"The policeman has the telephone, the telegraph, the newspapers to help
him." Spurway spoke with the air of one laying down an unanswerable

"Sure," said Heberdon, "so has the crook. Especially. the newspapers.
For the newspapers print all the doings of the police, and the crook only
has to read them to keep one move ahead."

"But organised society--" began Nedham still pursuing his own line of

"All bluff and intimidation!" interrupted Heberdon. "A man only has to
defy what you call organised society to discover how helpless it is!"

"You seem to know," put in Hanwell dryly. Heberdon turned slightly paler.
"Can't you engage in a discussion without descending to personalities?"
he demanded.

It would be tedious to report the entire discussion. As in all such
controversies, once they had set forth their ideas, the participants had
nothing to do but repeat them, making up in increased emphasis what their
statements lacked in freshness. It soon became a hammer-and-tongs' affair
of flat assertion opposed by flat denial. Here they stuck. The slow
Nedham became rosy, Spurway turned an alarming purple, Hanwell's face
showed a fixed grin like a cat's, and Heberdon's pallor took on a livid

Quite carried away, the latter cried at last, "It's a cinch to stick up a
bank nowadays! With a car waiting outside, the engine running, a turn
around the corner, and the trick is done!"

This was received with loud jeers.

"Frank Heberdon, the heroic highwayman!"

"Desperado by proxy?"

"Oh, Frank's a new type, the theoretical thief!"

"Leader of the club-lounge gang of yeggs!" Heberdon could not take
joshing of this sort. His eyes narrowed dangerously.

"If it's so easy why don't you give us a demonstration?" taunted Hanwell.

"By gad, I will!" cried Heberdon, beside himself.

The others stared, and laughed queerly. They had not expected to be taken
up so quickly. Then suddenly a mental picture of the correct Heberdon in
the role of hold-up man suggested itself to them, and the laughter became

Their laughter was unbearable to Heberdon. "You think I don't mean it!"
he cried. "I'll show you!" He snatched his cheque-book out of his pocket.
"I've got five hundred to put up on it. Will you match it?"

This effectually stilled their laughter. Spurway, who was the most nearly
drunk of the quartet, solemnly drew out his cheque-book and prepared to
write. After he had made the first move it was difficult for the other
two to draw back, Hanwell, thinking to call Heberdon's bluff, made haste
to produce his cheque-book in turn. Only Nedham ventured to remonstrate.

"Come on, fellows, this has gone too far. Think what you're doing!"

Heberdon turned on him with an ugly sneer. "I thought that would show up
the short sports!" he said. There was a hateful, jeering quality in his
voice that no man with warm blood in his veins could tolerate. Nedham
flushed, and, taking out his cheque-book, wrote a cheque and tossed it in
the centre of the table.

"I'm content," he said shortly.

Hanwell looked anxious. He would have liked to draw back then, but he
lacked the initiative. Grown men, no less than boys, are led into strange
situations through their fear of taking a dare.

"Is it five hundred each?" he asked in an uncertain voice.

"Sure," said Heberdon. "That's only fair since I take the risk."

Hanwell wrote his cheque out slowly.

Spurway had signed his. "I suppose we can have them certified in the
morning," he remarked solemnly.

"Oh, I hope we're not bona-fide crooks," said Nedham bitterly.

Nedham, once the die was cast, seemed more determined than any of them.
"I think it's all damned nonsense," he said, "but since you insist on it,
let the consequences be on your own head!" He drew a sheet of paper
toward him, and wrote rapidly.

"What are you doing?" asked Hanwell anxiously. "Drawing up a memorandum
of the bet."

"Oh, your word is sufficient," said Heberdon patronisingly.

"You don't get the idea," observed Nedham dryly. "You might slip up, you

"No fear of that," Heberdon spoke confidently.

"I hope not, for all our sakes. I don't relish being made a fool of any
more than the next man. It's just as well to take precautions. We'll seal
this and deposit it in the office, where it will be stamped with the
receiving stamp and the date. If you should happen to be nabbed by the
stupid police, it may save you a jail sentence--or at least mitigate it."

Hanwell's and Spurway's eyes bolted at the ominous sound of the words
"jail sentence," but not Heberdon's. Anger blinded him to every
consideration save the necessity of justifying himself.

"What conditions do you lay down?" Nedham asked him. "It's your privilege
to make your own." Heberdon affected a nonchalant air. "I undertake to
stick up a New York City bank single-handed during business hours, and
get clean away with a sum exceeding two thousand. Of course, I can't tell
what the haul will amount to."

Nedham wrote. Finishing this, he said: "There ought to be a time limit
set. I don't suppose any of us can afford to keep this amount of money
tied up indefinitely."

"Say within a month, or I forfeit," suggested Heberdon.

Nedham completed writing his statement.

"What would you do with the loot?" Hanwell nervously wanted to know.

"Return it, of course," answered Heberdon with a cool stare. "What do you
think I am?"

The paper was passed around the table and signed in characteristic style,
Heberdon with bravado, Hanwell with signs of panic, Spurway solemnly
closing one eye, and Nedham doggedly with tight lips. It was then
enclosed with the cheques, and the envelope sealed with wax. They carried
it downstairs to the club superintendent, who, according to instructions,
stamped it with the club stamp and put it in the safe. The super-,
intendent understood only that it contained the stakes of a wager, and
was to be yielded up on demand of any two of the parties concerned.


Heberdon lived in a tiny but rather luxurious flat immediately across the
park from the club. The same building now altered into bachelor
apartments had been the city residence of his family for a generation,
and from it Heberdon derived the modest income that barely sufficed his
needs. He himself had scraped together every cent of his little patrimony
to make the necessary alterations to put the house on an income-producing
basis. Indeed, up to this time every act of Heberdon's life had been
marked by prudence and caution--too much caution perhaps.

His law practice was largely one of courtesy. It about paid the rent of
the smallest office in a good building and the wages of an office boy,
who was necessary to keep the establishment open, for Heberdon never
allowed his "practice" to interfere with his afternoon bridge at the
club, nor, for that matter, with golf in the mornings, when the weather
was suitable. He had a standing offer to enter the office of his uncle,
ex-Judge Palliser, of the State Supreme Court, but that he knew entailed
real work, and he was coy about accepting it.

"Really, I can't give up my practice," he would say. That practice did
yeoman's service in conversation.

Heberdon was the last of his immediate family, but he enjoyed a large and
ultra-respectable connection of uncles, aunts, cousins, _et cetera_.
Besides Judge Palliser--head of the firm of Palliser, Beardmore, Beynon
and Riggs, and one of our leading corporation lawyers--there was Mrs.
Pembroke Conard, leader of the old Knickerbocker set, his aunt; Professor
Maltbie Heberdon, Dean of Kingston, another uncle, and so on. Heberdon,
though he affected to despise them as a lot of dull owls, was,
nevertheless, very sensible of the advantages of such connections, and
lost no opportunity of cultivating his graft with those who counted. For
years h had been "paying attention" to his cousin, Ida Palliser, the
judge's eldest daughter. It was an indefinite sort of affair, entailing
no responsibilities.

Other young men might have considered that Heberdon's lines were cast in
very pleasant places, but never was there a more inveterate grumbler.
Nobody appreciated him at his true worth, he felt. He had been born to
accomplish great things, he told himself, but circumstances held him

Next morning he awoke, conscious of a feeling of heaviness under the
occiput. His thoughts ran: "What's the matter with me? Drank too much
last night! Blamed fool! Well, never again!"

Suddenly recollection of the bet rushed back on him, and he sat up in bed
in a panic. "Great Heaven! What have I done? I must have been out of my
mind! How can I get out of it? How can I get out of it?"

He got out of bed all shaky and took a stiff horn of whisky to steady his
nerves. Presently he felt better.

"It's not up to me to get out of it," he thought. "At least, not right
away. I have a month. The other fellows are sure to weaken. Hanwell's
scared green already, and Spurway will be, as soon as he sobers up. If I
play my cards right they'll pay me the money not to do it. As for Nedham,
he can go to hell, dam stubborn mule!

"In the meantime I'll go ahead just as if I meant to carry the thing
through. Pick my bank. Lay all my plans--"

At this point in his deliberations a queer little feeling of pleasure
began to run through his mind like quicksilver. "It would be fun to plan
such a job! To pit my wits against the whole of what Nedham calls
'organised' society. I have the wits and the pluck to do it, too. Never
had a chance to prove them. Rotten dull life I lead. I was cut out for
something better.

"They laughed at me! I'd love to show them! If I should do it, it would
be perfectly safe. Nobody would ever suspect me. And those fellows would
damn well keep their mouths shut. Lord! The very idea makes my blood run

"But, of course, I'm not going to do it really. And yet--"

In the course of the morning Hanwell called him up at the office. At the
first sound of his anxious voice Heberdon smiled contemptuously into the
receiver. "Hallo, Frank! How do you feel this morning?"

"Great!" rejoined Heberdon, with particular heartiness.

Hanwell's voice fell. "Oh, you do, do you?" He paused.

"What can I do for you, old man?" asked Heberdon. "Say, about that bet
last night. What a pack of fools we were!" A loud but unconvincing laugh
here. "You didn't take it seriously, of course."

"Do I understand you're trying to get out of it?" demanded Heberdon with
assumed astonishment.

"Oh, no, no!" said Hanwell quickly. "A bet's a bet, of course. That's not
what I called up about. I wanted to know--er--if you'd be at the club


Later Spurway dropped in on him, pinker than usual and very
self-conscious. His greeting was effusive. He tried to get away with the
innocent candid, but he was as transparent as window-glass.

"'Lo, Frank. I certainly did get beyond myself last night."

"Oh, you had a bit of a bun on."

Spurway passed a fat hand over his brow. "I have a vague recollection of
making some bet or other. Thought I'd better come round and find out what
it was. Of course I'll stick by my part of it, though I was drunk."

"Come off," said Heberdon scornfully. "You weren't as drunk as all that."

Spurway made a heavy pretence of trying to remember. "Something about
your sticking up a bank," he said.

"Cut out the comedy," exclaimed Heberdon. "You remember just as well as I

"But when I woke up this morning I couldn't believe in my own
recollection. You surely weren't in earnest."

"I was."

"Oh, my Lord, Frank! Think what you're doing!" Heberdon stuck out his
chin truculently. "Are you trying to renege?" he demanded.

"Oh, no, no!" said Spurway helplessly. "But this is awful--awful!" He went
out muttering to himself.

Finally Nedham came. Nedham was of tougher fibre than the other two, and
he went directly to the point.

"Look here, Frank, that was a damn fool business we started last night.
Let's call it off. I'm quite sure that Hanwell and Spurway feel the same
about it as I."

"I don't know that it is exactly up to them--or to you," said Heberdon
with a disagreeable smile. "I was the challenged one."

Nedham stared. "You can't mean that you intend to carry it out!"

"I carry out everything I start."

"But, my dear fellow, you're risking everything, your professional
reputation, your liberty!"

"Why don't you say plainly that you want to get out of it?" said Heberdon
with a sneer.

"I do want to get out of it," answered Nedham earnestly. "I don't want to
be a party to another man's suicide--worse than suicide."

"Much obliged," said Heberdon. "You can always stop payment on your
cheque, you know."

Nedham flushed up angrily and rose. "You talk like a schoolboy!"

"I don't need you to put me right," retorted Heberdon. "It isn't my feet
that are cold."

Nedham strode angrily out of the office.

Heberdon immediately started making his plans. He still told himself
that, of course, he would drop the thing as soon as Nedham et al. were
reduced to a proper state of humility, but in the meantime he went about
it as in a game with himself. That very day he dropped into several
down-town banks to look around. He soon found that wealth was not so
"wide-open" as he had confidently asseverated.

You no sooner started to look around a bank than you found watchful eyes
upon you. "How dare they suspect me of anything crooked?" thought
Heberdon with a sense of outrage.

He had no sense of humour. The largest bank of all had a "pill-box"
elevated above the floor with ugly looking loopholes commanding the
entrances. Heberdon shrewdly suspected that this was a mere bit of stage
business, but if the pill-box had been constructed merely for its
psychological effect, it worked in his case. The skin of his scalp
tingled at the thought of defying the aim of a possible unseen watcher
within. He decided that the big down-town banks with their crowds of
customers and numerous guards and attendants were out of the question.

There remained the up-town and suburban banks. Their business is now
mainly in the hands of two Or three big institutions who specialise in
outlying branches. Heberdon procured lists of the latter, and, striking
out the obviously impossible ones, began to visit the others in order.

He put them through a gradual process of elimination. Some were hopeless
at first glance. Others more promising he revisited and compared. He gave
up his whole time to it. More and more it became like a fascinating game.
At last he had an opportunity to apply his long-pondered theories on
crime. His idle days were at last filled with an object. Never had his
brain worked so quickly and sharply; never had life seemed so full.

From his long list he struck off one name after another. He found that
small banks generally were arranged according to one of two plans; either
the banking office was a square--or round--enclosure with the cages
ranged all round, or else the cages extended in a row down one side of a
corridor. Needless to say the latter plan suited him better. In such a
bank all the clerks were under his eye at once, and no one could take him
from the rear.

The paying-teller's window was his particular object. Sometimes it was
awkwardly placed in relation to his getaway; sometimes the teller himself
was too determined-looking a fellow. In one bank otherwise suitable,
Heberdon was shocked to discover an electric lock on the street door
which presumably could be operated from within the cages in case anybody
tried to make a hasty getaway. This he considered a low-down trick. Some
banks dealt principally with stores; these paid out little money, but
only took it in. Others did a business so small as to be beneath
Heberdon's notice altogether.

Not to detail too minutely the different stages of his search, it may be
said at once that he finally picked on the Princesboro branch of the Wool
Exchange Trust Company. This bank included several large factories among
its customers and paid out large sums weekly for pay-roll purposes. It
faced the plaza of the Princesboro Bridge. It occupied a corner store,
and the cages stretched in a long line down a corridor none too brightly
lighted. The paying-teller occupied the cage nearest the street door,
though separated from the door by the office of the cashier or manager.
Most important of all to Heberdon, the paying-teller was a pale,
mild-appearing young man, just what he was looking for. "He'll collapse
like a pricked balloon," he told himself.

With exemplary patience Heberdon returned to the bank day after day to
watch and observe from without and within. The appearance of the elegant
correct young lawyer, with his pince-nez, was not such as to excite
suspicion readily. Those clerks who noticed him probably took him for a
new customer. As a result of these visits Heberdon established the
following main facts:--

(a) There was a uniformed attendant--possibly armed--on guard in the
corridor during business hours, a dangerous-looking customer.

(b) But he went out to lunch every day at twelve-thirty, remaining until

(c) Between the hours of twelve and one very few customers visited the

(d) The little glass-enclosed office just inside the street door and on
your left as you entered was occupied by two men, manager, presumably,
and his assistant. The former went out every day, remaining until one,
whereupon the other went out for an hour. Both were exact and regular in
their habits.

(e) The pay-roll money was mostly drawn on Friday afternoons. The rush to
withdraw began soon after one o'clock and continued until the closing
hour. For a while before they came on Fridays, the paying-teller always
occupied himself in getting his cash out of the safe and arranging it on
the desk in front of him in convenient form to pay out.

(f) At the street entrance to the bank were a pair of old-fashioned doors
which opened inward only, and had knobs on them. Outside the doors there
was a folding steel gate, but as this was always drawn back during
business hours, it did not enter into Heberdon's calculations. It was
perhaps the doors that finally led him to settle on the Princesboro Bank.
"Oh, this is a cinch!" he said to himself.

From the foregoing may be readily deduced the reasons that led Heberdon
to decide that the hour of twelve-fifty on any Friday would be the proper
time to pull off his trick.

It would be difficult to say just at what moment all this ceased to be a
game, and crystallised into a positive intention. Heberdon himself could
not have told. He was an adept in deceiving himself anyway. He
discouraged what further timid overtures Spurway and Hanwell made,
waiting for Nedham to humble himself. But Nedham never did, and in the
end all three avoided him at the club, and took in another man to make a
fourth at bridge.

Heberdon shrugged and went on planning. The elaborate imaginary structure
that he reared for his amusement ended by mastering him. It became more
real than reality. He became enamoured of the ingenuity of his plan; he
could not bear to destroy anything so perfect; he had to try it. Still
protesting to himself that it was all a game, he went on with his
preparations until it was too late to turn back.

No trouble was too great for him to take in respect to the smallest
detail of his scheme. He could have done it the second Friday after the
wager was laid, but he took a whole extra week to make sure he had not
forgotten anything, or had not overlooked any contingency. For instance,
his disguise, he devoted whole days to perfecting that.

Among the members of the Chronos Club were a number of actors with whom
Heberdon was acquainted. He made a practice of dropping into the
dressing-room of one of them who happened to be playing in town, and
watched him make up. He learned that professionals commonly do not use
false moustaches, _et cetera_, but glue loose hair to their faces and
trim and curl it to suit. Such appendages are almost impossible to

Practising endlessly before his own mirror, Heberdon finally succeeded in
making a glossy little moustache and embryo side-burns that would pass
closest muster. He designed to play the part of a flashy young sport of
the latest model and haunted burlesque theatres, roadhouses, and shore
resorts to study his types.

A straw hat of exaggerated pattern, a much "shaped" and bepocketed suit
of a weird shade of green, loud shoes, socks, tie, and shirt altered the
correct Heberdon's appearance beyond all recognition. He left o the
pince-nez, without which he had never been seen. On the day before that
set for his enterprise he made up and dressed in his new clothes, in
order to accustom himself to them, and spent the afternoon at Brighton

Here he boldly wooed the sun, and by evening the added pink tinge to his
complexion completed his metamorphosis. He looked ten years younger; a
perfect product of Coney Island and the East Side social clubs, one would
have said. On his way home he came face to face with his three friends in
Gramercy Park. They passed him without recognition, and Heberdon
triumphed inwardly.

In his own room that night Heberdon bent all the faculties of his mind on
the next day's task. He went over and over his plan, looking at it from
every angle. "It is water-tight," he said to himself at last. "I can't
fail!" Then he went to bed and slept like a child on the eve of an


There is a little hotel in Princesboro, and just above it is the single
taxi-stand that the suburb boasts. At precisely twelve-forty next day a
young fellow with a glossy little moustache and a nobby green suit issued
from the hotel and hailed the first cab in line. It may be said that it
was no part of Heberdon's plan to take the chauffeur into his confidence.
In case of a chase, should the man prove unwilling, Heberdon carried that
wherewith to persuade him.

With his hand on the door, Heberdon consulted his watch. "Must catch the
one o'clock from the Nugent Avenue Station," he said to the chauffeur
with a careless air. "Got to stop at the bank first. The Wool Exchange
Trust on the plaza."

The man nodded. Heberdon got in and pulled the door after him. They

Up to this moment Heberdon's mind had been occupied with his calculations
to the exclusion of aught else. But in the brief period of inaction
during the ride, stage-fright laid its icy hand on his breast. His heart
began to beat alarmingly, and to rise suffocatingly in his throat; a cold
sweat sprang out on his palms and his temples, "I'll never be able to do
it! Never! Never!" something whispered to him.

He would have given anything to leap out of the cab and run for it, but a
force stronger than his will kept him fast. As a matter of fact, his days
and nights of concentration on the plan of robbing the bank had in the
end obsessed his brain. He could not conceive now of giving it up. His
long preparations had created a power that carried him along in spite of
himself. "Too late! Too late!" he thought despairingly.

He sought desperately to distract his mind from its terrors. Had he
everything? Yes, the satchel, pistol unloaded--the light cloth cap to
replace the too-conspicuous straw later, the thin hardwood wedge, the
stout double iron hook that he had made himself out of a necktie-holder.

The taxi-cab stopped in front of the bank and the shaking Heberdon
started subconsciously to go through the oft-rehearsed performance. To
the driver he said with the best imitation of nonchalance he could

"Let your engine run. I shan't be inside but a second."

Within the bank everything was always as he had seen it in his mind's
eye; the uniformed attendant missing, the assistant manager alone in his
little glass-enclosed office, at least half of the clerks out to lunch.
At the door of the private office--which swung both ways--Heberdon made a
feint of dropping his satchel. Stooping to pick it up he slipped his
wedge under the door, and, straightening, tapped it home with the toe of
his shoe.

There was but one customer in the corridor, and he was down at the
receiving teller's window at the far end. Even as Heberdon looked at him
he got his pass-book through the window and started to leave. In order to
give him time to get out Heberdon turned to the customers' desk at his
right hand, as if to write a cheque.

Silence filled the bank. The man who was walking out had on rubber-soled
shoes, and his footfalls made no sound. From behind the brass grating
came a sudden loud crackle as the book-keeper turned a page of his big
ledger. He muttered to himself as he carried forward his column of
figures. Then all was still again.

The silence contributed to Heberdon's demoralisation. He was suddenly
conscious of the furnace-like heat of the place. His hand was trembling as
with the palsy. Catching a sudden glimpse of a noiseless overhead fan out
of the tail of his eye, he almost jumped out of his shoes.

"This will never do!" he said to himself as to somebody else. "You'll
make a ghastly mess of the affair." All the way through he had the
feeling of watching an alien body carry through what he had planned.
"Drop it! Drop it!" he whispered. "Get out while there's time?" But that
force outside his will kept him to it.

When the departing customer passed out through the street doors Heberdon
turned around to the paying-teller's window. Within the pale and
conscientious young man was counting and recounting his money, and
arranging the packages of bills convenient to his hand against the rush
he presently expected. All of a sudden the icy grip on Heberdon's breast
relaxed. His hands ceased to tremble; he drew a long breath and found
himself perfectly cool. "I have the pluck!" he told himself exultingly.

The paying-teller, aware of some one waiting at the window, looked up. He
found himself gazing down the short barrel of an ugly little automatic
pistol. Behind the pistol was a grim set face. He took his breath sharply,
his jaw dropped, his hands fell nervelessly on his desk, a sickly green
tinge crept under his skin. Heberdon had not mistaken his man.

In the soft and courteous tones he had often rehearsed, Heberdon said:
"If you cry out or turn your head, I'll blow the top of your skull off.
Raise the wicket and pass out all the money on your desk!"

Even before he finished speaking the young man's trembling hands flung up
the brass gate and started shoving out the tall piles of bills. His wide
and fascinated gaze never left the pistol. There was no sound to be heard
but the whisper of the overhead fan and the soft _plop_ of the packages
as they slid off the little glass shelf into the satchel that Heberdon
held beneath.

It was all over in fifteen seconds. "Twenty thousand, if it's a dollar!"
thought Heberdon, with a fearful joy. At a peremptory nod from Heberdon
the paying-teller let the little gate rattle down. Heberdon began to back
away. The other man's sick eyes followed the pistol barrel. Heberdon
turned and walked smartly to the street door. As he laid hand upon it he
heard a gasping cry behind him:

"Boys, I'm robbed!"

The young man in the glass-enclosed office snatched a revolver from a
pigeon-hole of his desk with incredible swiftness, and, springing up,
launched himself against the door. But the wedge held it, at least for
the moment. Heberdon passed out into the street, and turning with a
careless movement dropped his double-hook over the two handles. No
indifferent passer-by would be likely to catch the significance of what
he was doing. He then walked sedately across the pavement and got in a

"Nugent Avenue Station," he said with an off-hand air. "Let her go!"

As the cab got under way Heberdon had a fleeting glimpse of white and
excited faces within the doors of the bank. The doors were violently
rattled. The chauffeur did not hear it above the noise of his engine, but
passers-by did, and Heberdon, looking back through the little rear
window, saw them stop and look. He was only going to have a few seconds'

"It's enough!" he told himself. "There is no other car right handy. If my
chauffeur gets cold feet I have the gun for him."

His spirits soared. "Twenty thousand! The Riviera, Italy, Cairo! A whole
year of delicious idleness! Choice eats, choice drinks, choice smokes,
and lively company! At last I'll be able to play the part I'm fitted

In his flush of triumph he completely forgot his intention of returning
the money. They were crossing the plaza at a good rate, the chauffeur,
all unconscious of the storm preparing to break behind, when there came a
report like a small cannon from beneath the cab. The sound had the effect
of letting all the wind out of Heberdon, too.

"By the eternal, a tyre!" he thought. "I'm done! Why didn't I look at the
tyres? What shall I do?"

The taxicab drew up beside the curb at the corner of the principal street
leading from the plaza. At the same moment across the open space figures
came tumbling out of the bank, and seeing the stoppage of the cab set up
loud shouts. Heberdon leaped out and forthwith took to his heels down the
street. The shoppers instinctively made for the doorways. The chauffeur,
arrested in full motion, stood staring after his fare, a comical figure
of astonishment.

The shouts from the bank gave him his cue. Suddenly he came to life and
with a whoop leaped after Heberdon. Heberdon, stealing a white glance
over his shoulder, saw with a sinking heart what long legs he had, and
what a hard eye. Heberdon, like most city men, had not really tried out
his legs in years. To be sure, Nature suggested the proper motions at
this juncture, but he lacked confidence in his legs.

"I'll never be able to do it!" he told himself despairingly, and in so
thinking his sinews softened. On the other hand, the young chauffeur
looked able to run all day, and half a block behind the chauffeur was a
mob gathering volume like a snowball.

All the other people gave them the right of way like fire-engines. The
chauffeur gained on Heberdon with every stride. Heberdon could hear his
quick, sure steps--quicker than his own. Finally the chauffeur cried,
seemingly right behind him: "Stop, you thief!"

Heberdon, in a panic, dropped the satchel. The chauffeur stopped to pick
it up, and the fugitive gained a precious thirty yards. But down the
block the roar was momentarily growing louder. Those who dared not stop
Heberdon were safely falling in behind his pursuers. The sound of that
roar struck terror into the very core of Heberdon's breast. He learned
what it was to be hunted.

"Why do I go on running," he thought. "It's all up! I might as well

He almost collided with a young lady in the act of descending from her
limousine to enter a shop. The hunted creature received an impression of
warm, kind eyes. She drew aside a little from the door of her cab with a
barely perceptible gesture of invitation. Heberdon, swerving, flung
himself in. She sprang after. A roar of rage went up from the pursuing
crowd. The girl's eyes sparkled. Leaning out, she cried to the chauffeur:

"Step on her! Step on her! Turn the first corner to the left!"

The engine was running, and the car jerked violently into motion. She
slammed the door. As they turned the corner, Heberdon, looking back, saw
that his pursuers had stopped another car, and, climbing aboard, were
pointing out the limousine to the chauffeur.

At such a moment Heberdon was not exactly susceptible to the charms of
sex. He had an impression that with heightened colour and sparkling eyes
she was studying him with extraordinary curiosity. He wished to escape
from the regard of those eyes.

At the moment he was not conscious of what she looked like, but he
remembered well enough later; her lovely clothes--a little too
spectacular for Heberdon's lady cousins; her full, red, generous mouth,
her glowing dark eyes. She was very young; her whole person radiated
youth recklessly, lavishly.

She was as excited as a boy. Snatching up the speaking-tube, she cried:
"Faster! Faster! Never mind what you break! Fifty dollars if you shake
that car!" They were in a quieter street with a bad pavement, over which
the car bounced, flinging them to the roof. They turned to the right and
again to the left, but the following car clung to them. It was of lighter
build, and picked up faster. The pavements became worse and worse, and,
in spite of himself, the chauffeur and the limousine slowed down. His
mistress snatched up the speaking-tube again.

"Step on her!" she cried. "To hell with the springs! I'll pay."

Heberdon's cold heart experienced a feeling of warmth. "Splendid
creature!" he thought.

They turned to the right again into a well-paved street stretching away
to the south. The chauffeur "stepping on her" at last they roared down
with wide-open exhaust.

"No more corners!" commanded the girl. "We'll leave them at a standstill
in the straight."

Looking through the back window, they saw their pursuers turn into the
street, and other cars behind them. But as she had said, they were
distancing them fast. They had now left the central part of Princesboro
behind them, and their way stretched ahead of them unhindered by traffic.
Heberdon began to breathe more freely.

The girl was still studying him. "What did you do?" she asked
downrightly, like a boy.

"Nothing," muttered Heberdon. He looked away. He was scarcely in the
posture in which he cared to talk to a pretty woman. He was accustomed to
patronise women from an eminence. This one had him at a disadvantage. His
vanity squirmed under those candid eyes.

But feeling that she was entitled to some sort of an explanation, he went
on: "There was some trouble in the bank when I was passing. I don't know
what it was. But they picked on me."

The girl looked disappointed. "You could trust me," she said.

The limousine was now making fifty miles an hour. "I'm safe if those
tyres hold," thought Heberdon.

As if in answer to his thought, the girl said, smiling, "The tyres are

Alas for their hopes! There was a railway crossing at grade in their
path, and as they approached it the striped gates slowly descended. The
chauffeur put on his brakes, and the car half-slewed around in the road.

"Smash through!" cried the girl excitedly. "Take the gates! You have

But the man, with a shake of his head, brought his car to a stop at the

"Oh, damn him for a coward!" cried the girl with tears in her eyes. "If I
had been at the wheel!"

Without more ado, Heberdon leaped out. He never gave a thought to the
fate of the girl. He ducked under the gates, but the oncoming train was
now at hand, and he could not pass in front. It was an outbound freight,
miles long, it seemed to his despairing heart, and moving slowly. There
was nothing for him to do but run down the line alongside the train. The
cars with his pursuers were drawing near.

Heberdon thought: "I'll swing myself on the caboose as she passes and
hide inside. She's gathering way all the time. I have money to square the
train crew. Anyhow, they couldn't throw me off until she slows down."

But on the rear platform stood a trainman with an uncompromising, hard
eye. Heberdon ran on.

His pursuers had likewise taken to the railway line on foot. Catching
sight of him, they raised renewed shouts. Heberdon was now at the
entrance to the railway yards. A high board fence bounded it on
either hand. But long lines of freight cars stood on the spreading
tracks, and these suggested good cover to the fugitive. Crossing the main
line, he ran around the end of one string of cars and crawled under
another. Here he felt safe enough to slow down a little and give his
overladen heart a chance.

"They'll run on down through the yard," he decided. "If I stay up at this
end perhaps I can double back."

He heard his pursuers, now reduced to a score or so of men, come running
down the line and pause among the cars at a loss. But one of them must
have dropped to the ground and looked along underneath, for a voice was

"I see his legs! Third track over!"

The fugitive took to his heels again, darting, twisting, doubling around
the cars until he had fairly lost his own way in the depths of the yard.
He saw nothing of his pursuers, nor did he hear them again. There must
have been moments when they were close, but with a common impulse of
prudence, they no longer called to each other. Heberdon did not know at
what moment he might plump on them around a car. His heart was
continually in his mouth. He who had lived such a sheltered and
well-ordered life up to this time would have shuddered to catch sight in
a mirror of the wild-eyed, hunted thing he was now.

The partly open portal of a box-car tempted him. He drew himself aboard,
and softly closing the door flung himself down to rest. There was no rest
for his fears, though. He felt trapped. He pictured his pursuers drawing
a line around the yard, and when they had every point of egress watched,
starting a car-to-car search. It appeared that he had made a fatal
tactical error. He ought to have kept on going until he found a way out
of the yard.

He wasted some moments of agony, then, trying to screw up his courage
sufficiently to open the door again. Finally he began to draw it back an
inch at a time. The crack revealed nothing stirring outside, nor could he
hear any sound. He opened it sufficiently to permit the passage of his
body, and stuck his head out. He looked into the face of the tall young
chauffeur who was flattened against the car waiting for him. The
chauffeur roared with laughter.

A hand shot out and gripped Heberdon's collar. He was ignominiously
hauled out and dropped to the ground. He got to his feet and stood
apathetically awaiting his captor's pleasure. There was no fight in him.

"Hey, men!" cried the chauffeur. "Here he is! I've got him!"

Men appeared from several directions around the cars.


Heberdon was frisked and his gun taken from him. Forming in procession,
they wended their way out of the yard and back up the line toward the
street crossing where the automobiles had been left. Midway in the
procession walked the chauffeur with his hand in Heberdon's collar. This
connection was in sharp contrast to all of Heberdon's former relations
with taxicab drivers.

The men, still heated with excitement, talked about Heberdon as if he
were an inanimate object or were not there at all. They displayed no
particular animus against him, but in a way were almost kindly disposed
as to one who had furnished the excuse for a madly exciting and
successful man-hunt.

"Gee! If he'd kept on to the river, we'd never have got him. He could
have slipped on a ferry."

"Aw, they always do the wrong thing, them crooks. Lose their heads when
they want it most."

"He don't look like an old-timer, do he? Bet this was his first job."

"Well, he's got all the pep scared out of him now all right, all right."

"Don't look right human, does he?"

"Oh, you can tell he's a bad one. Got a shifty eye."

Heberdon at first was merely dazed. But the exercise of walking restored
his faculties, and the future began to unroll itself before his mind's
eye in colours hideously vivid. The loss of his secure and desirable
place in the world--he could see his respectable relatives disowning him
in horror; shame, disgrace, jail! Bitterest of all to his vanity was the
thought of the triumph of his clubmates; he made sure they would triumph.
Heberdon lived on his vanity. A sick feeling of desperation seized
him. He looked around him furtively.

They were now streaming along the double-tracked line. The approach of
another long freight, this one bound in at a good rate of speed, forced
them all to take to a ditch. Heberdon saw his chance. It was a desperate
one, but better death under the wheels than--

Wrenching himself free, he sprang across the track immediately in front
of the looming engine. The breath of the monster was hot on his neck, but
he found himself safe on the other side--and none had cared to follow.
For the moment he was safe. On the other side of the long train, let the
men shout themselves hoarse if they wanted.

In a trice Heberdon was over the high fence that bounded the right of
way, across a dingy yard and through a working man's humble cottage
before the startled eyes of the housewife. He cut diagonally across a
main street, and turned down another that led away at right angles from
the railway. From the little houses women and children looked curiously
after the running figure, but prudently forbore to take up the chase. He
turned two more corners, and, feeling comparatively safe, slowed down to
a walk. As a walker, nobody noticed him.

He considered his situation anxiously. He was not by any means out of
danger, for they had him awkwardly cornered in a peninsula of
Princesboro. On his right was the East River a half-mile or so distant.
The ferry-houses were now well behind him, and he dared not retrace his
steps. Somewhere in front of him, he knew, was the mouth of Oldtown
Creek, and to the left was Central Avenue, the automobile thoroughfare
which was presumably patrolled by those looking for him. The nearest
bridge over the creek was that which carried Central Avenue across. He
finally decided to make for Central Avenue, watch his chance of getting
across, and then cross the creek by one of the bridges higher up. If it
had only been a neighbourhood where taxicabs were to be had!

At the next corner he turned to the left again. Crossing the first
street, to his dismay he saw figures of men far to the left, their
attitude proclaiming them searchers. Before he could get out of sight one
perceived him and raised a shout. The hunt was on again.

Heberdon realised that it was the bright band around his hat, visible as
far as he was, which had betrayed him. How vainly he cursed it now. Why
hadn't he thrown it away? He had the cap in his pocket to take its place.
Luck was certainly against him!

Swerving to the right, he ran blindly down the street, with his pursuers
in full cry. This was another tactical error, but he was becoming
confused now. Still, he had two blocks start, and there was no automobile
to run him down. Attracted by the shouting, people rushed out of the
little houses. Fearful of being tripped up or seized by some bolder
spirit, Heberdon took to the middle of the road.

Two blocks ahead of him the street ended at the bank or the creek.
Heberdon could see a strip of foul, black water. Before this he had
realised his mistake in taking this direction, and at the last corner he
essayed to turn toward Central Avenue again. But a fresh shout greeted
him from this direction. An automobile was approaching with men on the
running-board. Heberdon stopped short with despair in his heart. Escape
was cut off in three directions. There was only one way left, to the
south. Whirling about he saw that he was cut off there, too, by a bend in
the creek.

For a moment he hung in indecision at the crossroads, his wild eyes
darting this way and that. The approaching men were yelling like fiends.
Better the water than the men. Heberdon ran down the remaining short
block and across the wharf at the end and jumped into the oily creek.

Heberdon was a swimmer--or had been a swimmer in boyhood--and he
instinctively struck out, much hampered by his clothes. The stream was
only forty or fifty yards wide at this point, more of the nature of a
canal. The outgoing tide helped him more than his own efforts; he was
carried swiftly away from the wharf. The silly hat floated away on an
independent course.

Heberdon had made perhaps a third of the way across when his pursuers
began to arrive on the wharf. None offered to follow him into the foul
water, but all contented themselves with yelling imprecations after him.
One man pulled a revolver and began to shoot. Heberdon's heart turned to
water. "Inhuman brute!" he thought. "I'm done!"

He kept under water as well as he could, and what with that and the
poorness of the marksman's aim, the ammunition was exhausted without any
damage to the swimmer.

Before the man could reload, the tide carried Heberdon around the bend
out of his range of vision. Some had started to run away, evidently in
the hope of cutting him off below, and Heberdon had heard the automobile
start off. It would naturally make for the bridge a quarter of a mile

Somehow Heberdon found himself across the creek. At the point of
exhaustion he pulled himself up a rotting ladder on an old bulkhead. Some
of his pursuers had come out lower down across the stream, but he was
safely out of their reach. He was more anxious about the automobile.

He found himself in a paved way between great bonded warehouses,
shuttered and silent. There was no one about on his side. He started to
run weakly over the cobblestones.

The smelly water squished out of his shoes, and left a wet trail as he
ran. He came out on a street paralleling the creek. There were people
here, and he dared not run, though this was the street down which he
expected the automobile to appear. He got around a corner and found
himself in a block of lumber and coal yards and small factories.

Aware of the danger of being trapped again, nevertheless he could run no
further. His heart was bursting. The tall piles of boards drying in the
air offered good cover. There was no one watching at the gate of the
lumber yard. He ran in and twisted and turned through the alleys between
the lumber until even terror could carry him no farther. He flung himself
down and lay there gasping.

By-and-by the sound of an automobile in the street outside brought him to
his feet again. It was not necessarily the automobile he feared, but the
mere sound was enough to start him going. He staggered on until he came
to the other side of the yard which fronted on the broad expanse of the
East River. The matchless panorama brought no joy to Heberdon's heart. It
was only another wall cutting off escape.

On the river-front some men were loading lumber on a lighter. Heberdon
was careful not to expose himself to them. By keeping behind the piles,
and watching his chance to dart across open spaces, he contrived to
circle around them, and to gain the boundary fence at the lower side of
the yard. Here in a slip on the waterfront his glazed eyes were
brightened by the sight of a skiff, a way of escape without returning to
the street.

There were no oars in the boat, but a hasty search finally revealed them
hidden under some boards. Heberdon cast off and pulled out of the slip
with inept strokes; what matter if he was venturing in his inexperience
on perilous waters or small boats? Anything was better than what lay
behind him.

There was only one way to go, for the tide was running out faster than he
could pull against it. So much the better for him; Princesboro and
Oldtown Creek were left safely behind. He pulled but feebly, letting the
tide carry him as it would, taking care only to avoid the ends of the
piers. He was now off the district of Johnsburgh, with the great black
sugar refineries stretched alongshore, and ahead of him the far-flung
span of the Johnsburgh Bridge, with the trolley-cars and automobiles
threading their way across like spiders on a web.

As he was carried down-stream the river traffic ever increased and the
unpractised oarsman's heart was continually in his mouth, with the tugs,
lighters, and ferries that came at him from every side, bearing down on
him with contemptuous disregard for a mere rowboat, and kicking up great
waves behind that threatened to swamp him. Even more alarming were the
great car-floats swinging around helpless in the grip of the tide. Had he
escaped one danger only to fall victim to another? Heberdon, with his
unstrung nerves, was ready to weep.

He reflected that a general alarm would shortly be out for him, if indeed
his description was not already in the hands of every policeman in the
five boroughs. The sight of a natty little launch with a big P. D. on the
bow, smartly bucking the tide, reminded him that there were police on the
water, too. He almost had heart failure when it bore down on him. But it
passed without stopping. The next one might have later information. It
was up to him to find a hiding-place.

Yet he dared not land either. As long as it was daylight his drenched and
bedraggled appearance would render him fatally conspicuous in the
streets. A pier higher than its neighbours and with a clear space beneath
offered a solution. He allowed the skiff to drift beneath it, and, making
sure from the high-water mark on the piles that the tide would not
presently rise and crush his skiff under the overhead sleepers, he made
his painter fast and determined to wait there until dark.

For a long time he sat gazing out on the bright river from its gloomy
hiding-place in a daze of fatigue, not thinking about anything in
particular. The tide lapped and sucked at the piles, and the sounds of
the outer world reached him reverberating hollowly over the surface of
the water. Gradually drowsiness overcame him. Once he heard the scamper
of little feet on the overhead beam, and started up in affright. But even
the thought of rats could not keep him awake. He slept.

When he awoke it was beginning to grow dark on the river outside, the
water gleamed like a sapphire in the evening light. The sounds of traffic
had almost ceased. He resolved to wait yet a while. He was stiff and sore
all over and his head ached continually from the emanations of the
sewer-laden water.

It was pitch-dark where he was, and, what with the smell of corruption
and the threatening chuckle of the water, a nightmare cavern. He imagined
that he saw snaky shadows in every corner. His damp clothes clung to him
heavily. How sickeningly he longed for light, warmth, and the sound of
human voices! The thought of the club was like an unattainable Elysium.

He was crouching between the two thwarts of his skiff. Suddenly a heavy
body dropped in the stern, landing within a few inches of him, and almost
rolling the skiff under. A grunt of terror was forced from Heberdon's
lungs, and like an animal he scrambled to the point of the bow. He clung
there, paralysed with fear. The place suggested nameless things. He could
see nothing but a darker shadow in the stern. It was creeping toward him,
feeling for a weapon. His throat was constricted; he could not make a
sound. The thing fumbled with an oar.

Heberdon, in the expectation of a blow, suddenly recovered the use of his
limbs, and like an ape, half-leaped, half-scrambled to the joist
overhead. He lay upon it, gripping it between elbows and knees. The
creature below jabbed viciously with the oar at the place where he had
just been. Meeting with no resistance, the shape crept farther forward in
the skiff. Heberdon could then have dropped on its back, but not for
worlds would he have come to grips with the loathsome thing.

It fumbled at the painter, freed it, and with a push against the piles
propelled the boat out from under the pier. The tide was now running up.
Heberdon was so relieved to be rid of the shape that he let the boat go
without a thought. Not until he perceived, in the fading light outside,
it was a man like himself, did the reaction set in and, mixed with the
feeling of relief and impotent rage, convulsed him. But he did not curse
him nor seek to call him back, for it was an ominously burly figure with
a gorilla-like head sunk between his shoulders. Heberdon never saw his
face. The skiff was quickly carried out of his range of vision.

Where the man had come from Heberdon never knew. He must have lain
concealed under the floor of the pier, like a gigantic wood-louse. There
are no doubt many underground routes in the city that people who live on
the surface never suspect. As for Heberdon, blocked in front and behind
by girders running in the other direction, there was no possible escape
save by dropping into the water. He dreaded it as a shell-shocked man
dreads a battle, but finally he had to let himself drop, gasping.

In the water he pulled himself shoreward from pile to pile. It was quite
dark now, but he dared not venture outside, because he heard quiet voices
just overhead, working people, no doubt, taking the evening air on the
water-front. He could not call for help, of course, without giving an
account of himself. At the shore end of the pier extended a long
bulkhead, smooth and greasy, affording him no finger-hold. Up and down he
searched in vain for a ladder or a break. It was like the futile
struggles of an insect, bumping its head against the side of a

He swam a distance of blocks, it seemed to him, and his strength was
rapidly failing when he came at last to a place where the bulkhead was
rotten and the interstices between the planks afforded him a precarious
hand-and-foot hold. He drew himself out and sat down on the stringpiece
to recover himself. Fortunately in this place there were no loiterers,
but by that time he would not have cared if there had been.

He was in the factory district of Johnsburgh, silent and deserted at this
time of night. After having wrung the water from his clothes as best he
could, he started up-town, heading for the bridge terminal. Some time
passed before he could nerve himself to cross the brightly lighted plaza.
He thought of the other plaza with a shudder. A street clock told him it
was after ten.

He dared not expose himself in a lighted trolley-car, and was obliged to
drag his weary body across the two-mile span in the comparative obscurity
of the promenade. And on the Manhattan side he had yet another two miles
to walk to Gramercy Park.

When he finally reached his own building, it was fortunately closed for
the night, the hall attendant gone. Otherwise he must still have been a
wanderer. He let himself in with a thankful heart, and, climbing the
stairs, closed his own door behind him with a sob of relief, and,
flinging himself on the couch without undressing, slept again.


When he awoke Heberdon's clock was striking six, and the little park
below his windows was bright in the sunshine. He lay aghast at his
recollections of the day before and hugging his sense of present
security. The whole affair seemed like a dream now--a hideous dream at
which he shuddered and tried to put out of mind. How cozy and charming
his little rooms were! Every object how inexpressibly dear to him!

He was presently aroused to the fact that he had lain down in his damp
clothes, and that his pleasant rooms were contaminated with a faint odour
of sewage. Cursing himself for his folly, he hastened to bathe and to
dress himself in his proper garments. On the clothes of the bank robber
he poured benzine that he had provided for that purpose, and burnt them
in the fireplace. He sprayed his atomiser around the room to sweeten the

He was keenly curious to see the morning paper--and not without
apprehensions. It was delivered at his door at eight o'clock. He had no
doubt that it was already waiting downstairs. But he did not care to
betray too great an eagerness for news to the hall-boy. Finally when it
dropped with a swish outside his door he waited until the receding
footsteps had passed out of hearing, then pounced on it.

The hold-up of the Princesboro Bank occupied a prominent position on the
front page. Heberdon read the story with a queer thrill. A pang of
chagrin went through him when he learned the amount of cash that had been
in his possession for a minute or two--twenty-seven thousand dollars.
First, he hastily skimmed through the story and was reassured; the thief
had got away clear, it was stated, and the police were with out clues.
Then he read it more carefully, his vanity deliciously tickled by
references to the desperado's cool nerve and resourcefulness.

He eagerly read of the girl who had aided him. She had been arrested and
later arraigned in the magistrate's court. It had naturally been supposed
that she was an accomplice of the thief, but she stoutly protested that
she had never seen him before, and had simply yielded to an impulse of
compassion, seeing a human creature hunted by a mob. A cloud of witnesses
appeared in her behalf--storekeepers of Princesboro, her fashionable
friends, a faithful old man-servant.

Evidently she had made a conquest of the newspaper reporter; he was for
her through and through, and indeed the whole court-room must have fallen
under the spell of her beauty and candour. The magistrate had discharged
her with a reprimand that scarcely veiled a compliment. Her name was Miss
Cora Flowerday, and she lived at No. 23 Deepdene Road, Greenhill Gardens,
an outlying part of Princesboro. "An orphan, with means of her own," so
ran the story, and many a poor young man's mouth must have watered at the

"Splendid girl!" Heberdon said to himself--but not so warmly as on the
day before. He was glad she had got off so easily, since it cost him
nothing, but he had no desire at the moment ever to see her again. That
incident in his life, that nightmare, was to be sponged off clean. Never
again, he told himself, would he willingly set foot on the streets of
Princesboro. Oh, blessed was respectability and all its works! He thought
of all his solid and respectable relatives with positive affection. How
could he ever have thought them dull? He decided to go see the Pallisers
that very day. And yet--'way deep down in his consciousness, unheard and
unacknowledged, there was a little nagging voice: "If only that cursed
tyre had not burst!"

His breakfast was sent up as usual by the housekeeper of the apartment
house. Heberdon lingered over it, tasting the satisfaction of a safe and
ordered life with every mouthful. Never again would he call existence
dull. He had a fleeting picture of himself in the grip of the chauffeur,
and shuddered. He had had his fill of excitement. Anyway, it was high
time he settled down.

He would think about that offer of a berth in his uncle's
office--tremendously important firm. And his cousin Ida Palliser wasn't
so bad by lamplight. Anyway, a man who wanted to get on couldn't afford
to marry for youth and beauty. Solid family connections were the thing.

After breakfast he telephoned down to the hall-boy. As landlord, Heberdon
enjoyed rather better service than the other tenants in the building.

"Thomas, what time do the first editions of the afternoon papers come

"About ten o'clock, sir."

"Get me one, and bring it up."

"Yes, sir."

When it came, Heberdon read the usual rehash of the earlier story--but in
another part of the paper there was a paragraph that caused the skin of
his scalp to prickle and his palms to become moist. The blessed sense of
security was stripped from him; a chasm yawned at his feet; the old
sickening hunted feeling came winging back.

"In connection with the hold-up of the Princesboro branch of the Wool
Exchange Trust Company at midday yesterday, an extraordinary story has
been told the district attorney by a young man whose name for the present
is withheld. This young man claims to be employed as bell-boy or waiter
in one of the best-known clubs in the city. About a month ago, he says,
four prominent young members of the club became involved in a discussion
as to the ease with which crimes might be committed. In waiting on them
he overheard much of their talk, he claims, and the upshot of the
argument was that one of the four bet the others that he could hold up a
New York City bank, single-handed, and get away clean. The police and the
district attorney do not place much credence in the story, suspecting
that it may be the invention of a notoriety-seeker who sees his chance of
breaking into the newspapers. But, of course, it will be investigated."

Investigated! With a shiver Heberdon gazed at his timepiece. Ten-thirty;
even now an emissary from the district attorney's office might be on the
way! With trembling hands he made haste to dress himself for the street.
Gone was his delightful feeling of affection for his little flat. His one
idea now was to get away from it. As he picked up his hat the telephone
bell rang, and his heart turned to water.

He instantly made up his mind what to do. He did not answer the 'phone,
but stole out of the flat, and made his way up the final flight of
stairs, which ended at a door opening on the roof. In a similar building
two doors east, Heberdon had an acquaintance who, like himself, lived on
the top floor. In order to save the stairs they had visited each other
over the roof, and Heberdon, knowing the way, now proceeded to this other
building and descended through it to the street.

Without daring to look back, he made rapid tracks to the east, pausing
not until he was safely swallowed in the comfortable throng at the
intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue. By this time, no one having
tapped him on the shoulder, he began to breathe more freely. Entering a
cigar-store, he made for a telephone booth and called up Hanwell's

Mr. Hanwell was out, his stenographer said. She believed that he might
be found at the Chronos Club, as she had lately heard from him there.
Heberdon called up the club and presently got Hanwell on the wire. From a
slightly tremulous quality in his voice he guessed that the other had
read the disturbing paragraph. Hanwell admitted as much.

"You'd better see the superintendent about a certain paper," Heberdon
said meaningly.

"I have seen him. I got it from him."

"Good. Have you heard from the other fellows?"

"They're both here. We've got to see you at once, Can't talk about such a
thing over the 'phone."

"I'd better not come there. Some one from the--well, we might be asked
for there. I'm telephoning from a cigar-store at--" and Heberdon gave the
number on Broadway. "You three get a taxi and pick me up at the door. We
can talk in the cab."

"There in three minutes," said Hanwell.

Of the conference between the quartet that presently took place in a
joggling taxi-cab, it is unnecessary to speak in detail. They all spent a
bad quarter of an hour. It was Nedham who finally tried to stop the

"Look here, you fellows, this gets us nowhere," he said. "What's the use
of recrimination? We're all in the same hole, and we've got to get out of
it the best we can."

"I didn't stick up a bank!" growled Spurway.

"Shut up; you were a party to it."

"What'll we do?" quavered Hanwell.

"Deny the whole thing," declared Spurway, "and stick to it."

"But we don't know how much the boy overheard."

"He can't know anything about the paper Nedham drew up. He wasn't in the
room then. Anyhow, what's the word of a bell-boy against us four?"

"But the publicity will ruin us even if they can't prove anything!"

"Oh, for God's sake, stop snivelling! Buck up, can't you?"

"Then there's Maynard, too," wailed Hanwell. Maynard was the club

"Maynard is safe. For the honour of the club, and all that."

Nedham spoke least, and to the best effect. "Maynard is safe, all right,"
he said. "But to deny the boy's story is to keep it alive. Admit it, and
it will be forgotten."

"Admit it!" cried the other three, staring.

"Sure. Up to a point. Nothing need be said about the memorandum I drew
up. Admit it, and turn it into a joke. Say it was all talk."

Heberdon, who had pursued his own line of thought, affirmed abruptly.
"Nedham is right. That's what I'm going to do."

Hanwell and Spurway still expostulated. The former suggested that they
had all better leave town. Nedham patiently set to work to convince them,
but Heberdon lost his temper.

"Hang it all!" he said irritably. "Can't you do what I say without any
more argument? I'm the on' that's got to be considered in this matter,
aren't I?"

"Clumsy bungler!" muttered Spurway. Heberdon turned pale.

Nedham made haste to pour oil on the troubled waters. "Cut it out I Cut
it out!" he said. "If we can't stop quarrelling among ourselves we're all
done for!"

Hanwell and Spurway finally agreed to Nedham's suggestion.

Nedham asked: "What are you going to do about yesterday, Frank?"

"Establish an alibi," was the solemn reply. "Can you make it

"You leave that to me."

Having reached an agreement, they separated.

Heberdon continued in the cab to ex-Judge Palliser's office. Here, having
no appointment, he had to wait for a miserable half-hour in the outer
office, still in momentary expectation of a tap on the shoulder. When he
was finally admitted to his uncle's sanctum he was paler than usual, and
moist in his agitation. The older man, scenting trouble, instinctively
adopted a defensive attitude.

"Judge" Palliser, as he was always called, was a typical successful
lawyer who has been on the bench. Most lawyers when they ascend to that
eminence take on flesh, mellow, and become rotund. It is the exercise of
the wits that keeps men thin; lawyers have to think, and judges don't.
Judge Palliser had a complexion like port wine, and a figure like a butt
of malmsey. In voice he boomed unctuously, if one may be permitted the
expression. His grand and single aim in life was to keep at bay the
perplexities that interfere with a good digestion.

"Well, Frank!" he cried with the heartiness that he assumed as a cover
for all sorts of real feelings. "How goes it?"

Heberdon, knowing his uncle, was not much heartened by the heartiness.
"Well enough," he answered with a somewhat sickly attempt to appear at
his ease. In his nervousness he plunged directly into the business that
had brought him. "Have you read the papers to-day?"

"As much as Fever do," said the judge with a grand carelessness. "What
about 'em?"

"That hold-up over in Princesboro yesterday," stammered Heberdon.

"Outrageous! Don't know what we're coming to, I'm sure! Nobody is safe
nowadays. But that's nothing in our line, is, it?"

"Oh, no," said Heberdon feebly. "Have you read the evening papers?"

"Evening papers!" repeated the judge, staring. "It's only eleven o'clock
in the morning!"

"Yes, I know. But they start coming out right after breakfast."

"Catchpenny rags!" was the scornful comment. "Battening for idle minds! I
don't bother with newspapers during office hours."

It was impossible for Heberdon to find the words actually to open the
business he had come on. Instead, he took the newspaper out of his
pocket, and mutely called attention to the upsetting paragraph. Judge
Palliser adjusted his glasses and read it through.

"Scandalous innuendo," he cried. "The newspapers love to start that sort
of thing, confident they will never be called to account." Suddenly he
looked sharply at his nephew. "Good God, Frank, you--you haven't got
anything to do with this, have you?"

"Nothing, really," said Heberdon quickly. "But it's very unfortunate--"

"What do you mean? Don't whine!"

"Well, it's a fact," stammered the young man, "that some friends and I at
the club got into an argument about crime one night--and I suppose a
bell-boy overheard us--"

Judge Palliser turned pale under the fine network of purple veins that
overspread his expansive countenance, and his eyes seemed to protrude a
little farther. "And were you the one that took up the bet?" he asked.


"Good God, Frank! You might at least have considered your family!"

"But it was all a joke," said Heberdon. "Only talk. None of us has ever
thought of it since."

"Then what did you come to me for?" demanded the judge.

"Well, I suppose I'll be questioned," said Heberdon--to save his life he
could not keep the whining tone out of his voice. "It's damned awkward.
As it happens, I'm not in a position to establish an alibi for

"H'm!" said his uncle, grimly studying him. Heberdon squirmed.

"Where were you yesterday?" demanded the elder.

Heberdon was ready with his tale. "I felt seedy," he explained glibly
enough. "I went down to Brighton Beach for lunch and spent the afternoon
on the sand. Just as luck would have it, I didn't meet a soul I knew."

"H'm!" said Judge Palliser again. "What can I do about it?"

Heberdon could not quite meet the irate eye. "Well, I thought--" he
mumbled. "A man in your position--a word would be sufficient."

"Ah," said his uncle. "I take it you are suggesting that I perjure myself
on your behalf."

"Where's the harm?" whined Heberdon. "If I had done anything wrong it
would be different. But just an unlucky accident--you surely can't think
there is anything in it!"

"Oh, no," said Judge Palliser. Heberdon was unable to decide whether his
words concealed irony.

"And it would be damned unpleasant--for all of us, if they were to go on
with the thing. I'm only thinking of you and the girls."

"That's kind of you!" This time there could be no doubt of the irony.

There was a silence while Judge Palliser stared grimly at Heberdon, and
Heberdon twisted on his chair.

"What is it exactly that you want me to do?" the older man asked at last.

"If it could be shown that you knew where I was yesterday--or, better
still, if I was with you--"


Another silence.

"Where were you yesterday afternoon?" Heberdon ventured to ask.

"I went up to Chester Hills to play golf."

"Did you go up alone?"


Heberdon brightened. "Well, then, how simple--"

"Hold on a minute," said his uncle. "The money was recovered, if I
remember aright?"

"What's that got to do with--" Heberdon began, but changed his mind under
the look in his uncle's eye "Yes," he said meekly.

"And his pistol, when they took it from him--"

"Was unloaded."

"But he might have unloaded it after the hold-up."

"He had had no chance."

"Frank," said Judge Palliser severely, "if you had some serious work to
do and weren't loafing about all day, you wouldn't be needing my help
now. Some time ago I made you an offer to come into my office. How about

Heberdon thoroughly understood the implication in this speech, and began
to breathe more freely. "I had already decided to accept it, and thank
you," he said quickly.

His eagerness caused an expression of caution to appear upon the judicial
countenance. "Let me see, what figure did I name?" he said.

"Twenty-five hundred to start," answered Heberdon with a sinking heart.

Judge Palliser shook his head heavily. "Sorry, won't be able to do it!"
he said. "Money's so tight. I'll make it two thousand to begin. Promotion
rests with you, you know."

"I'm satisfied," rejoined Heberdon with a wry smile.

"Then there's Ida," said the judge with a fond, parental smile. "A fine
girl, Ida, so intellectual; the pick of my brood! You and she have been
going together since your school days. Now that you're going to settle
down, I hope you'll soon--eh? Make us old folks happy?"

Heberdon swallowed hard. "I'll ask her to-night to name the day," he

"Good!" exclaimed Judge Palliser. "Now let's go into the details of this
foolish little other matter."

When Heberdon got home a young man was waiting for him in the hall
downstairs. To Heberdon's satisfaction, he was a very young man, not
altogether sure of himself, and visibly impressed by Heberdon's superior
style. Heberdon, as a result of his interview with his uncle, had quite
recovered his usual self-possession.

"Mr. Heberdon?" the young, man asked diffidently.

Heberdon bowed.

"I called earlier, but you were out. I went to your office and to your
club, but could not find you. May I have a few words with you?"

"Certainly. Sorry to have put you to so much trouble. Won't you come

In Heberdon's sitting-room the young man said: "I'm from the district
attorney's office."

"Bless me!" exclaimed Heberdon, laughing. "What am I wanted for?"

"Haven't you read the evening papers?"

"Not yet. I haven't had time."

The young man stated his errand, and Heberdon indulged in a hearty laugh,
in which the other joined.

"I need hardly say that we do not believe the boy's yarn," the young man
explained hastily. "The district attorney sent me to you just as a matter
of form to ask about it."

"But the boy's story is true," said Heberdon smiling. The young man

"So far as it goes," added Heberdon. "It is true that my friends and I had
a discussion about the ease with which certain kinds of crime might be
committed. Possibly we even went through the form of betting each
other--I do not remember. But fellows are always doing that without
meaning anything. None of us has given the matter a thought since. Fancy
anybody taking it seriously!" He laughed again.

The young man, reassured, laughed too. "It is too bad to trouble you
about such a thing," he remarked. "But would you mind describing your
movements yesterday--just as a matter of form. That will silence all

"Not the least objection," said Heberdon. "I didn't go to my office
yesterday morning because I had a brief to prepare, and I wanted to write
in the greater quiet of my room here. In the course of my labours a
knotty legal question presented itself, and I telephoned to my uncle for
advice--Judge Palliser, you know."

"Of course," said the young man, much impressed.

"It was then about noon," Heberdon went on. "Judge Palliser said he was
leaving to play golf up at Chester Hills, and if I'd ride up on the train
with him we discuss the matter on the way. I was tickled to pieces to
have the advantage of my uncle's very considerable experience, of

"Naturally," murmured the young man.

"So we took the twelve-thirty from Union Central, arriving at Chester
Hills at one-twenty, I think. My uncle invited me up to the club to
lunch, but I thought he wanted to be with his friends, so I declined. I
found there was no train back from Chester Hills for over an hour, so I
trolleyed to Yonkers and got a train there. Got home about three, and
spent the afternoon finishing my brief. Dined alone at Mellish's, and in
the evening I went--"

"That is more than sufficient," interrupted the young man. "At the time
of the robbery you were on the train with Judge Palliser."

"Yes, lucky for me, isn't it?" said Heberdon with a laugh.

"Oh, I'm sure it would have been all right, anyway," said the polite
young man. He rose, "Thank you for being so frank, Mr. Heberdon."

"Not at all," said Heberdon, with a wave of the hand. "By the way, in
order to lay this yarn in its grave once and for all, you'd better stop
and see my uncle, hadn't you?"

"With you permission, I will," replied the young man. "Thank you, again,
Mr. Heberdon. Good-morning."


At the end of two weeks, in the offices of Palliser, Beardmore, Beynon &
Riggs, Heberdon told himself bitterly that his lot was no better than
that of a hard-driven cab-horse. All the dirty work of the firm fell to
his share, it seemed; the endless, tiresome searching of records, the
preparation of perfunctory documents, the interviewing of unimportant
people, the attendance at insignificant, long-winded trials. Every person
in the establishment took his tone toward Heberdon from the head, and
Judge Palliser had let it be known from the first that his nephew was to
receive no special consideration. It was useless to kick; Heberdon had
delivered himself into bondage, and well he knew it. Behind the old
judge's bluff joviality there was a certain remorselessness.

Outside the office things were worse, if possible. His engagement to Miss
Ida Palliser had been formally announced, and congratulations were in
order. Congratulations rang a hollow knell inside Heberdon;
congratulations riveted his chains. His fiancée's pinched nose blinded
him to her very solid virtues.

The Pallisers were established up at Marchmont for the summer, and nearly
every night Heberdon was dragged around to other houses in the
neighbourhood, or to entertainments at the country club, there to be
shown off as by a condescending proprietor. Having waited so long for her
engagement, the eldest Miss Palliser was not going to be denied any of
the perquisites appertaining thereto. Useless for the victim to try to
assert himself; she was of a strong character, and her father backed her

The whole numerous Heberdon-Palliser connection was pleasantly stirred by
the betrothal, and there were numerous purely family parties in honour of
the pair. These were the most trying of all. Heberdon secretly detested
his relations, for least of all in the world did they appreciate him.
They were always bringing up incidents of his childhood that made him
feel foolish.

There was Aunt Florence, otherwise Mrs. Pembroke Conard, a very great
lady in her own estimation, who expected you figuratively to crawl on the
carpet, and you had to do it, Ida said, in order not to compromise the
handsome wedding present that was to be expected from that quarter. The
same with Grand-Aunt Maria Heberdon, who was childish and slightly
palsied, but whose will--that is to say, her testamentary will--was never
to be lost sight of for a moment. Then there was Uncle Maltbie
Heberdon, the Dean of Kingston, a solemn bore, only a professor to be
sure, but the whole family kow-towed to him because he was assumed to
give it literary tone.

The younger generation consisted principally of smart young married
couples who endeavoured to conceal their desperate struggles with the
high cost of living behind a humorous frankness on the subject. Their
only hope of salvation lay in their "expectations" from Aunt Maria et al.
How sick Heberdon was of hearing about their babies and their servants!
They had as few as possible of the former and as many as possible of the
latter. The youngest of these couples took it upon themselves to
patronise the engaged pair as a foolish young couple who would learn
better. Ida, who had hitherto been considered almost elderly, enjoyed
this, but Heberdon writhed.

Ida was above all businesslike. "What is the gross income from your
apartment house, Frank?" she asked one day.

"I don't know," he said sulkily; "about six thousand, I guess."

"Why, Frank! There are nine apartments in the building, and there isn't
one of them that rents for less than nine hundred and sixty dollars. And
you told me yourself they were always full."

"Well, there's taxes and repairs and wages and coal, isn't there?"

"I said gross."

"Well, I know I never get more than four thousand dollars out of it."

"If you own up to four thousand, I can safely assume five," she said
shrewdly. "And when we're married you'll get a thousand more for your
flat. Then there's your two thousand salary."

"I can't stand that long," muttered Heberdon.

"Oh, I expect papa is just testing you out. I'll make him give me two
thousand dollars for myself. That's ten thousand. None of the married
girls have more than that except Jessie Crittendon, and she had to take a
man fifty years old. I'll make mine go farther than any of them. We'll
take a small, perfectly appointed apartment on Park Avenue. We won't have
any children, of course. We'll cultivate Aunt Florence's set. They're
older than we are, of course, but they'll die off sooner and that will
leave me in a position to take the lead."

"Dull as ditch-water," muttered the exasperated Heberdon.

"What of it?" said Ida virtuously. "We're not in this world just for the
purposes of amusement, I hope. Of course Aunt Florence is old-fashioned.
The very smartest thing is to be a little old-fashioned. That's something
that these new people can't imitate. And, after all, her lot are the best
people. Nobody enjoys such prestige. That's the main thing."

So much for Ida's style. Left to himself Heberdon would no doubt have
developed along similar lines, but he did not relish being dragged.

On the rare occasions when Heberdon was allowed to escape to his club, he
found less satisfaction there than of yore. Never since that ride in the
taxi-cab had his three friends referred in any way to the unfortunate
wager. The memorandum and the cheques had been destroyed presumably; at
least the cheque Heberdon had given them had never been presented for
payment. He was willing, or had been willing, to pay it, but' did not
feel called upon to remind them of the fact.

Spurway, Hanwell, and Nedham now drew their skirts, as it were, on
Heberdon's approach. They had taken in another man permanently for a
fourth at bridge. Heberdon might have been considered to have a perfectly
just cause for resentment in this holier-than-thou attitude, but it was
not that that made him hot under the collar. Every time he saw his
erstwhile friends he was reminded of Spurway's contemptuous remark,
"Clumsy bungler!" Heberdon could not forget that. It had made a rankling
wound in his vanity.

"Was it my fault that the damned taxi-cab burst a tyre?" he passionately
asked himself. "By gad, I'd like to show them!"

The intense disagreeableness of his present situation had the natural
effect of causing Heberdon to turn to the past. The effect of the fright
he had received gradually wore off. The Princesboro robbery had been
forgotten under the press of newer sensations, and there was no chance of
its being brought up now. Heberdon forgot the sensation of being hunted,
and of having a hand twisted in your collar; forgot his ghastly fright
under the pier; but on the other hand, in imagination he often returned
to that thrilling moment when he poked a gun at the paralysed
paying-teller, and the great, fat packages of greenbacks began to plop
into the opened satchel like ripe fruit.

"Ah, that was living!" he sighed. "If only it hadn't been for that tyre!"

He took up the study of crime again, feeling more than ever like an
expert now. A new book of the psychology of criminals came out, which he
had to have, of course. After reading it he wrote, anonymously, a long
letter to the author, putting him right on several points.

More and more as a refuge from the pinpricks of existence Heberdon began
to seek solace in day dreams. Day-dreaming seems such an innocent
pastime. You can imagine anything you like, and as long as you keep it on
an imaginary plane whom does it hurt?

Every time he went into one of the several banks with which his firm did
business, he involuntarily began to plan how it might be robbed; noted
the armed guards, sized up the clerks and their dispositions, looked to
the exits and informed himself as to the volume of business done at
different hours. He robbed the Market National a dozen times over--in
imagination. To be sure, there were practical difficulties in the way,
but in his daydreams he always brilliantly surmounted these, and got away
with an immense haul.

Under the Market National there were safe-deposit vaults he often had to
visit, and this establishment stimulated his ingenuity even more than a
bank. Because nobody had ever robbed a safe-deposit vault that he knew
of; it would be an immense feather in the cap of the first cool hand who
was able to pull it off. He thought about it endlessly, but the very
simplicity of the arrangements offered insuperable difficulties.

At the foot of a stairway from the bank you were faced by an immense
steel grill with bars two inches in diameter. In this grill was a gate
with a most imposing array of locks and further guarded during business
hours by a young man with perfect manners and an unwavering determined
eye. He never left the gate. In his side-pocket Heberdon saw the slight
bulge of a heavy little object of significant shape.

Beside the young man on a little shelf was a great ledger, in which was
written the names, numbers, genealogy and passwords of the customers, but
as a matter of fact, the young man knew most of the customers and but
rarely had to consult his book.

Behind the great steel fence all the little safes were arranged in tier
upon tier down both sides of a wide corridor. These were in charge of a
snowy-haired old gentleman with, if possible, even more delightful
manners than the other. He unlocked the outer door of your safe and
handed you the tin box within. It would be child's play to overcome him,
Heberdon thought, but what would be the use while the young man held the

Having received your box you carried it through an archway into a room
which opened up at the back. This room was lined all around with booths
where the customers might open their boxes in privacy. A negro maid was
in charge here; she opened the door of the booth for you and closed it
behind you. Heberdon, unable to evolve a scheme for robbing the vault
itself, coquetted with the idea of holding up one of the other customers.
They nearly all carried little satchels. The maid often went out of the
room. How simple to drop a customer with a blackjack, thrust his body
into one of the booths, close the door on it, and, taking his satchel,
calmly walk out. The difficulty was that the crime would instantly be
brought home to Francis Heberdon, lawyer. Heberdon never did succeed in
getting around that.

When Heberdon and Ida dined at a wealthy and fashionable house, while
Heberdon was making sprightly table talk with the lady on this side or
that, his under-mind would be busy appraising the hostess's jewels and
the amount of plate displayed, counting the servants, noting all the
household arrangements, the window-fasteners, the relation of the windows
to the grounds outside, _et cetera, et cetera_. What a sensation would it
have caused had his thoughts stalked forth into the light. Perhaps the
thoughts of some of the other guests were queer, too, in their way.

There was a particular piquancy in planning the robbery of Aunt
Florence's house, which, in its heavy style, was the most magnificent of
all the houses that they visited. It was on the Hudson, where plutocrats
used to live, in style a limestone castle of 1884. Unfortunately, Aunt
Florence's jewels were so well known that she didn't have to wear them.
Presumably they were well locked up in one of those confounded
safe-deposit vaults. To be sure, there was plate by the hundredweight,
but rather difficult to carry off. Anyway, Heberdon had the feeling that
mere silver was beneath the notice of a really first-class crook.

One afternoon when he was waiting for an Elevated train over on the
Flatwick line, a single-car stopped at the station, the money-car. Every
day it travelled up and down the line at a certain hour collecting the
receipts from each station, and on Saturday morning it came around with
the pay envelopes.

From boyhood, Heberdon had been familiar with the sight of the money-car,
but now, for the first time, it occurred to him what a sensation would be
caused if it were robbed. He saw the headlines in his mind's eye, "A
train robbery in New York City!" The car had never been robbed within his
memory. It ought not to be too difficult, say, at one of the lonely
stations in the suburbs. To be sure, it carried a strong crew--motorman,
conductor, and three clerks--but long immunity surely must have made them
careless; they might be taken by surprise--

When the car stopped, one of the clerks got off with his little satchel
and disappeared within the ticket-office. Without appearing to take any
special interest, Heberdon sauntered along the platform, glancing through
the windows of the car. Within, it was arranged like a miniature bank,
with a narrow passage running through on Heberdon's side, flanked by a
wooden partition with a brass grill above. The grill was pierced with
several little windows. Behind the grill the remaining clerks were
working with their backs to Heberdon. The one who had got off returned to
the car with his satchel, and the car moved on down the line.

Heberdon ruminated. "One would have to know the exact layout of the
interior before he could do anything. When she comes back on the other
track the interior will be open to the platform over there. Let me see,
it will take her twenty minutes to run down to the ferry, and the same to
come back. I'll just be on hand."

But forty minutes later, over on the other platform, a disappointment
awaited him. The interior of the car had been ingeniously contrived with
a view to avoid tempting the populace by a display of coin without at the
same time suggesting that anything was hidden. The clerks were now facing
Heberdon with the brass grill at their backs, but the back of the desk at
which they worked had been built up, cutting off the lower part of the
windows, and Heberdon could not see what they were doing with their

"Well," thought Heberdon, "when they pay off, the men go inside to get
their money. They're always advertising for men. I could go to work on a
Friday and get paid off next day. It would only mean a day oft from the
office. I'll ask for next Friday off."


From that time forward every hour that Heberdon could call his own, as
well as a good many stolen from the firm that employed him, was devoted
to his fascinating new game of "robbing the money-car." He soon had its
daily schedule by heart, and contriving to be at various stations up and
down the line when it was due, watched it without appearing to, and added
bit by bit to his knowledge of its arrangements and the habits of the

It made its rounds every afternoon just before the evening rush began to
set in. Shortly before it was due, auditors called at the ticket-offices
to check up the ticket-sellers' accounts and to wrap up the money in
convenient packages. When the money-car stopped at the busy stations
down-town, a clerk always came off for the cash, the conductor remaining
on the rear platform. This offered a knotty problem to the would-be
hold-up man.

But he presently learned that at the outlying stations where traffic was
light and there were few, if any, passengers waiting at the hour the car
came by, the clerks remained inside and let the conductor go to the
ticket-office for the receipts. This greatly simplified Heberdon's plan
of action.

He observed that just inside the rear door of the car was another door
leading to the clerks' enclosure. When the conductor got on with his
satchel it was his habit to close the car gate behind him, pull the
bell-cord and go on inside. The inner door was opened by one of the
clerks and the satchel was taken from him, Then as far as Heberdon could
make out from the motions of the clerks' heads and shoulders, they
emptied it on the desk before them, and checked up the amount. But what
became of the money after it was counted he could not be certain. It
appeared as if they stooped down and put it somewhere. This was the vital
point upon which he had to assure himself.

As upon a former occasion Heberdon's day-dreams became transformed by
insensible degrees into a definite resolve. Long after he had secretly
made up his mind to put his plan into action he was still telling himself
that it was all in fun. This saved him the necessity of facing
consequences in his mind. It was just a pastime; he could drop it any
time, _et cetera, et cetera_. And when even he could no longer deceive
himself he said in his thoughts, "I'll return the money, of course. I
just want to prove to myself that I have the wit and the nerve to pull
off such a job. I'm not a crook at heart--but life is so tiresome!"

Once more he devoted many hours in his room to perfecting a disguise.
This time he desired to appear as a stupid-looking, unskilled labourer.
He had decided to apply for the job of car-cleaner, since the better
class of employees had to undergo a period of probation. Clothes from a
hand-me-down merchant soaked and allowed to dry wrinkled, together with
grime rubbed into his face, hands and neck, made a startling difference
in the aspect of the elegant and immaculate young lawyer.

He tried it out on the street with entire success. Heberdon knew the
habits of his own house so well that by choosing his time he could go in
and out at very small chance of meeting anybody. One hall-boy came on at
seven in the morning and worked until three; the hours of the other were
from three until eleven. Between eleven and seven the outer door was
closed and the hall untenanted.

In the offices of Palliser, Beardmore, _et cetera_, every Saturday was a
holiday during the summer. Heberdon applied for Friday off in addition,
and since he had been assiduous in his duties of late, had no difficulty
in getting it. He obtained a respite from Ida's silken bonds by pleading
an old bit of business out of town that had to be cleaned up. Late
Thursday night he issued out of the house in his workman's get-up and
spent the uncomfortable balance of the night in a cheap lodging. Early
Friday morning he proceeded to the car-barns of the Flatwick Elevated
line, and applied for the job of car-cleaner. He got it. It is not a job
that is much sought after.

Friday was the hardest day he had ever put in in his life. Only his
enthusiasm for his carefully built-up plan kept him at it. More than once
he was on the point of being fired for sheer inefficiency. But he managed
to come through by the skin of his teeth. Then he had the lodging-house
to look forward to again. But he stole home late at night for a bath and
a goad cigar.

On Saturday he obtained his reward when the pay-car came around. It
rested on a siding in the yards, and a ladder was let down at each end.
The employees forming in line entered at the rear, and obtaining their
envelopes at one of the little windows passed through the car and out at
the front.

Heberdon, moving slowly in line, had therefore several minutes inside the
car which he used to the fullest advantage. The plan of the interior was
very simple, just the narrow passage on one side, and the clerk's
enclosure on the other with its desk extending under the Window. Heberdon
observed with satisfaction that there was but the one door to their
enclosure, that at the rear. There was, therefore, no direct
communication between clerks and motorman.

Heberdon's eyes brightened at the sight of a safe under the desk just
inside the door. This, then, was where they stooped to put the money. As
they were continually putting money in it--one clerk would still be
counting the receipts of a station when they stopped at the next--it was
not reasonable to suppose that the safe would ever be locked unless the
clerks were warned of danger. This was all Heberdon needed.

As soon as he got his pay he coolly walked off, leaving the boss of the
cleaners cursing. It was a lot of trouble to take for a three-minutes'
glimpse of the inside of the car, but an artist knows no pains too great,
and Heberdon thought of himself as an artist in crime.

Disguised as he was, he could not go home by daylight, but spent the rest
of the day in settling on the point of attack. In his old clothes he
experienced an odd sense of security. Nobody looked at him on the street.
He meant to choose a station near the end of the line, but not, of
course, the terminal at Cedar Vale Cemetery, for that was comparatively a
busy place with extra men employed on the platform. He found that at the
last two stations before the terminal the company maintained no
ticket-office on the up-town side, the supposition being that nobody
would care to climb the stairs for so short a ride when there were

The last office on the outbound side was at Cornelia Street. This office
could not have taken in enough to pay its incumbent, and was, perhaps,
maintained merely to provide a sinecure for an old employee. The
ticket-seller had exceeded the allotted span of man; he was bent and
shaky, and spent most of his hours on duty asleep. Far from feeling any
compunction on the score of his decrepitude, Heberdon was delighted.
"He'll be a cinch," he thought. "This is the place!"

By Tuesday afternoon Heberdon was all ready. The disguise he had provided
was very simple, being merely a suit of clothes such as Frank Heberdon
certainly would not have worn, and a pair of heavy-rimmed glasses. In
reserve he carried a little mask, a contrivance of his own that he could
snap over the upper part of his face with one hand. He had in addition an
extra coat and cap and two pairs of handcuffs that he had picked up in a
second-hand store. All these articles he put in a suitcase, which he
checked at the Morris and Sussex terminal on his way to the office
Tuesday morning. He also checked the inevitable satchel for the loot.

For the purposes of his getaway he was not trusting this time to a
taxicab. He had bought a light, used car of a widely-known make, and had
thoroughly tested it out with particular attention to its starting
apparatus. The tyres were nearly new. He had taken out two licences under
assumed names, and kept the car in a large garage, quite away from his
usual haunts.

The money-car was due at the Cornelia Street Station at four-eighteen. It
could be depended upon to the minute except in the case of a block
down-town, very unlikely at this hour of the day. Heberdon left the
office at two, bound ostensibly for the Hall of Records for the purpose
of making a search. He did show himself there, but soon proceeded to the
terminal, where he changed his clothes in one of the dressing-rooms
obligingly provided for travellers, and packing what he took off in the
suitcase, left it on check. In fact, he found a modern railway terminal
of invaluable assistance to him in his operations.

Proceeding across the river he got his car, drove out in the country,
where he changed the licence-tags in an unfrequented spot and returned to
Cornelia Street in good time for his job. "Nothing like thinking every
detail out in advance," he told himself self-approvingly.

It was a sparsely settled neighbourhood with raw, newly graded street
criss-crossing on the bar plain. Gaunt, new flat-houses rose singly here
and there. The Elevated line ran out Flatwick Avenue. On the downtown
side of the Avenue under the station, there were one or two stores, on
the up-town side only vacant lots full of weeds and waste paper.

Heberdon stopped his car on the up-town side at the foot of the stairs to
the station. He had some minutes to spare which he used up in making
pretended repairs to his engine. From the sidewalk he could see down the
Elevated line as far as the next station. At this time of day on the
Flatwick route the trains ran on a five-minute headway.

One came along, stopped at the station overhead and went on. A single
passenger descended the stairs and wandered away over the plain.
According to Heberdon's calculations the money-car would follow. He made
sure that all was in order. The mask and the handcuffs were in his
left-hand pocket, the pistol in the other. He took the extra coat and cap
out of the satchel and left them rolled up in the car. The one or two
pedestrians who passed paid no attention to him.

At last he saw the money-car draw into the station below. Even at the
distance he knew it because of the lack of the usual destination placard
on the front rail At the bottom of the stairway was an iron gate
presumably for use at night after the station had closed. No one was
looking at the moment, and Heberdon quietly closed it behind him for the
purpose of discouraging any chance passenger. Then he quickly mounted the

At a station so unimportant there was no ticket-chopper, of course. You
paid your nickel through a little hole to the old man in his box, who
thereupon pressed a spring that released a turnstile and let you through.
Upon reaching the box Heberdon saw that the old man was sleeping
comfortably within. So much the better for his plans. He vaulted quietly
over the turnstile and passed out on the platform. The station across the
tracks was likewise deserted except, presumably, for the ticket-agent in
his box. Heberdon had satisfied himself that the agent over there could
not see what went on across the line.

He passed quickly into the little waiting-room that opened off the
platform. This in turn communicated with the agent's box. The door to the
box stood open for air--who would ever suppose that a station which did
a business perhaps of a dollar a day would be held up?--and the old man
was fully revealed perched on his I all stool with his cheek supported by
his palm, an expression of beatific peace on his wasted face. His
helplessness gave Heberdon no pause. Snapping the mask over his eyes, he
went up to the old man and poked him in the ribs with his pistol.

"Hands up!" he barked. That tone was the result of long practice.

It was a rude awakening for the old soul. Blinking and gasping, he
straightened up on his stool, and fell back against the wall of his box.
The trembling hands went up, he had scarcely the strength to hold them
there. When he found his voice he stuttered piteously:

"Mister! Mister! You got the wrong man! I don't take in nothing here. Not
a dollar a day! Honest! Look in the drawer for yourself. Oh, mister, I'm
an old man! Please let me go!"

Heberdon pulled out the drawer--but not for the sake of the little change
it contained. He let it drop on the floor. The desk was a skeleton
affair, and when the drawer was pulled out it left exposed a stout bar
which had supported the front of it.

"Put your left hand out in front of you!" commanded Heberdon.

The old man obeyed, and Heberdon handcuffed him to the bar of the desk.

"You don't have to do that! You don't have to!" wailed the victim. "I
wouldn't touch you! That's all I've got. In the drawer!"

"Be quiet!" said Heberdon.

He heard the money-car approaching down the line. He had timed his
operation to a nicety. He took off his coat and hat and dropped them on
the floor of the little office. He had taken care that there should be
nothing about these garments to betray him later. He closed the door on
himself arid the old man, who still sat on his stool gasping for breath
and watching Heberdon with fascinated eyes.

The money-car drew to a stop at the platform outside. The gate clanged
open and the conductor was heard to cross the platform with quick steps.
He entered the little waiting-room. As the door from the platform closed
behind him, Heberdon let the other door swing out. The astonished
conductor found himself confronted by a masked man with a pistol. A queer
grunt escaped him, and without waiting for any command, he dropped his
satchel and his hands shot up over his head.

"Take off your coat and hat and let them drop on the floor!" commanded

He was instantly obeyed.

"Get inside with you!"

The conductor backed into the little office while Heberdon backed out.

"Put out your left hand! Your right hand, you--" This to the old man.

They obeyed, and he handcuffed them together.

"I've got two men outside," rasped Heberdon. "If you make the slightest
noise they'll blow you to hell!"

From the petrified expressions of the two, he guessed they would give him
no trouble.

Closing the door on them he hastily wriggled into the conductor's uniform
coat, and jammed the hat on his head. He let the satchel lie and took his
own, which had been chosen for its wide mouth. He put the mask and the
pistol back in his pocket for the moment, and, opening the door to the
platform, crossed quickly with his head down. There was but small chance,
though, of the clerks spotting him during these few steps, for their view
was obstructed by the grill.

As he set foot within the car Heberdon snapped on the mask again, and
took out the pistol. The mask was designed less for the purpose of
disguise than for its demoralising effect on his victims. One of the
clerks put out a negligent hand and pulled the spring lock on the door to
their enclosure. Heberdon stepped inside. The clerks looked up and froze.
Not a sound escaped any one of the three.

"Down to the other end with you!" ordered Heberdon.

They made haste to back away from him, pressing close together.

Heberdon dropped to one knee before the safe and, putting the gun within
instant reach of his hand, grasped the handle of the lock. If it were
fast. But it turned in his hand, and the door swung open, revealing the
money piled neatly on shelves within; packages of bills above, and rolls
of silver in paper below. Exultation coursed through Heberdon's veins.

The satchel was already open. Keeping an eye on the trembling clerks, he
swept the packages of bills into it in a cascade. Of the silver he took
only the dollars and halves, letting the chicken-feed lie. Springing to
his feet he backed out of the door and pulled it shut after him.

All this took scarcely more time than it requires to tell. On the car
platform he pulled the bell cord twice before stepping off. This was to
induce the motorman to pull his head in in case he might be looking out
for the cause of the delay. The car started to move, and Heberdon stepped

The exit gate being closed, Heberdon vaulted over the turnstile and ran
down the stairs--but not too quickly. No sound came from the little
office where the two men were confined. In the street there was no one
near his car. He got in and started her. Overhead the money-car, having
gone a few hundred yards, had stopped again. Evidently the clerks had
communicated with the motorman. But ahead all was clear now. Let them
raise what alarm they liked.

His route of escape had been carefully planned, of course; out Flatwick
Avenue to Church, to Winston, to the Hardman Pike, and so on into the
country. In those little-travelled streets there was no sign of pursuit.
Sure of this, he stopped long enough to change from the uniform coat and
visor to the extra garments he had in the car. Later, in an unfrequented
side road, he hid the discarded clothes in thick underbrush, and in the
same spot changed his licence-plates back to the numbers that he
ordinarily used.

Returning to town by a different route he put up his car. Whether or not
he ever claimed it again would depend on how the chase went. He could
follow that in the newspapers.

Claiming the valise at the check-room, he changed back to his usual
clothes in one of the terminal dressing-rooms, and carried his two
valises home, reaching there in plenty of time to dress and catch the
six-fifteen for Marchmont, where he was booked to dine with the
Pallisers. The little satchel with its heavy load he hid for the time
being under the soiled clothes in his laundry-basket.


Resisting pressure to stay all night at Marchmont, on the score of having
to be to work early next morning, Heberdon got back to his own rooms
about midnight. He had been in pretty good feather all evening; with the
delightful secret he possessed, he did not find his relatives so
tiresome; indeed, there was something distinctly humorous to him in the
idea of the successful hold-up man taking his ease in the _crême de la
crême_ of respectable society.

But while he diverted himself, his mind had been ever busy with the
little satchel at home. How much did it contain?--ten thousand, twelve,
fifteen? He could scarcely restrain his impatience to return and count
it. At the dinner-table, just to be on the safe side, he related a little
incident that was supposed to have occurred to him in the Hall of Records
that afternoon. But he had no fear of detection. This time he had done
his job up brown.

In the train he gave himself up wholly to exultation.

"Gad, what a thrilling five minutes!...That was living! To see the old
boy crumple up, and the young ones cower!...What a sense of power a pound
of steel in the shape of a gun gives you! Pull a gun and the world is
yours!...But the gun has to be backed up by head work. There was nothing
the matter with my head work! Everything turned out exactly as I
planned...My nerve was perfect, too. Oh, they'll certainly have to hand
it to me..."

The only thing that mitigated his sense of triumph was his inability to
let Spurway, Nedham and Hanwell know what he had done, and to crow over
them. For a while he coquetted with the idea of telling them.

"I needn't tell them in so many words," he thought, "nor give anything
away that could be used against me as evidence...A word or two would be
sufficient to put them on. They wouldn't dare give me away either, on
account of their connection with the previous affair.

"But, no! You can't tell what Nedham might do. He's so damned
self-righteous!...And, even if they didn't give me away, they might hold
it over me in future. I'd always have to take them into account. Too
risky...Maybe they'll guess it was I, anyhow."

Arriving in town, his first acts had been to buy half a dozen Paradise
Perfectos, the kind of cigar his uncle smoked, but rarely gave away, and
a late paper, which carried the first story of the robbery. The details
were meagre as yet, and hopelessly garbled. The money-car had been held
up by three masked men, who escaped in a big touring-car, firing at the
citizens who endeavoured to stop them, _et cetera, et cetera_. Heberdon
was divided between amusement and chagrin. Of course, if it were really
supposed that there were three men concerned it made him safer than ever,
but on the other hand his conceit was craving, for references to the
daring individual who, with superhuman daring and resourcefulness, had
held up five men, and so on and so on.

Reaching home, he made haste to draw down the front blinds, though there
was nothing opposite but the little park, and to hang a towel from the
handle of the entrance door to cover the key-hole. He dug up the satchel
from the laundry-basket and, with sparkling eyes, emptied out the
contents on his centre table. He had, of course, never possessed so great
a sum in cash. It was a beautiful sight, the tumbled heap of greenbacks
in packages, the fat rolls of coin. Greasy and old though the bills might
be, they had a lovely feel.

He counted it all with voluptuous deliberation. Nothing to him if he made
a mistake and had to begin over; it was an occupation of which one could
scarcely tire. The final result was somewhat disappointing; seven
thousand and odd. The bills were mostly of small denominations, and they
bulked large. Still, seven thousand dollars! He went off into another

It occurred to him that he had intended to return the money, but he
instantly thought of a dozen reasons for not doing so. "Why, to return
the money would cause more of a sensation than the original robbery!...It
would revive that story about the bet! My uncle would get on to me. He
has a nasty, inquiring mind, anyhow...However I might like to restore the
money it's simply out of the question!...

"Besides--it's coming to me!...

"All that hard thinking and planning, and the nerve it took to pull the
thing off! Seven thousand is little enough to pay me...It isn't as if I
was robbing the poor. The loss will fall on the Flatwick shareholders.
There are thousands of them. That means a few cents apiece. What's

"But it would be immoral to add it to my capital, and take interest on
it...I'll have to spend it. I'll do what good I can with it by putting it
in circulation...Nothing like a splurge, of course. Just a little here
and there.

"Meals at the club are all right for a poor man, but--I'll eat at the
Madagascar after this...Bernard is still the chef there...I won't have to
consult the prices on the menu, either...I always did like things out of
season...And I'll smoke nothing but Paradise Perfectos hereafter, as many
as I like...Always did loathe cheap cigars, cheap anything. I'll go to a
better tailor.

"I could have discreet little parties here, too--I lead too dull a life.
It's my own house, I guess. And the other tenants don't seem to be too
particular--who could I have?...Hang it, everybody I know is too
stodgy...I need to make some new friends, a sporting crowd...

"That girl over in Princesboro--gad! What flashing black eyes, what fresh
and crimson lips!...I wouldn't be ashamed to face her now. I am my own
man again...And it wouldn't be exactly painful to spend money on
her...The Madagascar would set her off!

"Her name is Cora Flowerday, and she lives at 23 Deepdene Road,
Greenhill Gardens. That stuck in my memory...I know Greenhill
Gardens...Architecture with a capital A. Successful artists, writers, and
that lot. That's what gives her that charming bohemian look...A lot of
good it does me...I can never see her again.

"But why can't I? If she didn't give me away before she's not likely to
now, is she?...Not in the character of Frank Heberdon, of course...And
not in the character of the cheap sport who tried to hold up the
Princesboro bank...In that rig I wouldn't be let in...But what's to
prevent me adopting a new character to go and see her in. She very likely
wouldn't recognise in me the half-dead crook she picked up...And even if
she did, she couldn't very well hang on to me and holler for the police.
If things don't go right, I can simply drop out of sight again...

"But if I go in a new character I'll have to invent an excuse for
calling...That oughtn't to be too hard. If a girl likes your looks she
doesn't scrutinise your excuse for scraping an acquaintance too
closely...Not this girl, anyhow. She's dead game...I know what I could
do. I could make out that I'm bringing a message of thanks from the guy
she helped out that day, who's turned over a new leaf and gone to

Heberdon toyed with this seductive idea for a while, but his cigar went
out, a chill struck through him, and he suddenly became conscious of an
immense weariness. A reaction set in in his thoughts.

"You're dreaming again! You'd better recognise when you're well off. Go
to bed and forget about her!"

But Heberdon's dreams, it may be remarked, had a way of mastering him in
the end. When he arose next morning vastly refreshed from an excellent
night's sleep, the black-eyed girl recurred to his mind, and indeed she
reigned there all day. As a result of the previous day's happenings
Heberdon faced the world with a new outlook. Old bonds within him seemed
to have broken, letting loose the wild spirit of which he had scarcely
been conscious before.

He was aware of a new impatience with respectability, an unappeasable
restlessness, a craving for additional excitement. The black-eyed girl
accorded better with this new Heberdon than Ida Palliser did. Heberdon
shuddered at the thought of Ida and her pinched nose. Nothing pinched
about Cora.

In the first place the morning papers carried fairly accurate accounts of
the hold-up of the money-car, and Heberdon's vanity was fed to the full
by the indignation--and admiration with which the exploit filled all
honest breasts. Like a successful playwright on the morning after,
Heberdon bought a copy of every paper and carefully clipped the accounts.
Unfortunately the praise, if it were praise, was only vicarious. How
Heberdon longed to be able to tell somebody that he was the man, and
observe their astonishment, horror, respect, with his own eyes...I
believe I could tell her, he thought.

According to the newspaper stories when the youthful desperado--they made
Heberdon out about twenty years old--jumped in his car and drove away, he
was swallowed up from the ken of man. To be sure, the police gave out
mysterious hints, and made confident prognostications that they would
have the fellow behind the bars in twenty-four hours, but Heberdon,
knowing the ways of the police, was undisturbed. It was clear they had
nothing to go on.

All day the black-eyed girl rose between him and whatever he was about.
Having dutifully presented himself at Marchmont the night before, this
night was his own. The thought of spending it alone was horrible. Long
before evening came, while still denying his intention to himself, he
had, nevertheless, made up his mind to go out to Greenhill Gardens.

He dressed with most particular care, for he wished to remove all
impression of their first meeting, and after dining at the Madagascar, as
he had promised himself, he hired a car to take him out. The chauffeur
had instructions to avoid the most direct route through Princesboro which
had unpleasant associations for his fare.

"I'll just scout around, and if I don't like the look of the place, I
won't go in," Heberdon told himself.

It was a delightful evening. Leaning back in the corner of the car,
puffing a Paradise Perfecto, Heberdon felt like a king. "This is the
life!" he told himself. "There's not much in this remorse business!...If
everything goes well to-night I'll send her a bushel of American Beauties

At this, his more prudent self spoke up. "Seven thousand won't last a
hell of a long time at that rate." To which the reckless Heberdon
replied: "Oh, there's plenty more where that came from." He was
progressing faster than he recognised.

In the admirably laid-out suburb of Greenhill Gardens he found Deepdene
Road without any trouble. At first he told his chauffeur to drive through
slowly. No. 23 was absolutely reassuring, a charming little house in the
English style, among oak trees. Returning, they stopped in front, and
Heberdon bade his chauffeur wait, even if he were inside an hour or two.

The door was opened to him by an old man whose status he could not define
off-hand. He was neatly enough dressed, but he had an uncouth air, that
no neatness of attire could tame. He was certainly not a member of the
exquisite Miss Flowerday's family, and his grim and aggressive aspect
hardly suggested a servant. But Heberdon remembered having read in the
newspaper of a faithful and eccentric old retainer; this must be he.

"Is Miss Flowerday in?" he asked.

The old fellow looked him over before replying. He seemed at the point of
denying him, but a burst of laughter and gay voices through the portières
at the left made it very evident that the lady was at home. Finally the
old man said ungraciously:

"What name shall I say?"

"Mr. Strathearn."

The other gave him a look as much as to say, "I don't know you." Aloud he
said, "Wait here. I'll tell her. She has company."

This sort of servant was new to Heberdon, who stood where he had been
left, in an indignant fume. Faithful the man might well be, but his
domestic training had been neglected. His manners were more like those of
a bar-tender than a butler.

But Heberdon had not to wait long. The portières were jerked back by an
energetic hand and she swam before him infinitely more beautiful than he
remembered her, a vision in yellow malines, with a misty scarf of the
same material floating about her bare shoulders.

Heberdon was not prepared for it; he caught his breath. He was further
confused by the fact that she instantly recognised him; the look of cool
inquiry gave place to warm pleasure. Her hand shot out like a boy's.

"It's you!" she cried. "I'm so glad!"

Heberdon was unable to find a suitable reply.

The old servant had followed her, and was lingering at the back of the

"It's all right, John," said Miss Flowerday. "I know Mr. Strathearn."

Not altogether reassured, the old man, still scowling, vanished toward
the back premises.

"He thought you were a book-agent, or a masher, perhaps," she said with a
laugh. "We've been bothered to death since our address was published in
the papers. He was all ready to throw you out. You mustn't mind him. He's
an old dear! I'll square him later...Ah, it was good of you to come!" she
went on, taking a step closer to Heberdon. "It shows that you trust me,
after all!"

Heberdon was turned upside down in his mind. Her unaffected friendliness,
her frank recognition of the fact that they shared a secret was
delightful, but--to be recognised as a thief and yet welcomed to this
charming little house! He knew young girls were rapidly becoming advanced
in their ideas, but what was he to make of this? He was still unable to
return a suitable answer, but fortunately she required none.

"Take off your things," she rattled on, "and throw them on the table. I'm
sorry there's a crowd, but we'll manage to get a few minutes' talk. I'm
dying to ask you things. I did so hope you'd look me up, that's why I
took care to see that they printed my address correctly, but then I
thought how could you come, not knowing--" She pulled herself up

"Not knowing what?" thought Heberdon.

When he stood revealed in his immaculate evening clothes, she glanced him
over with delightful sly humour.

"Quite a change!" she murmured.

"You surely didn't think I was what I seemed to be then?" said Heberdon.

"Oh, no; I knew," she answered.

She pulled him .through the portières into a long, narrow living-room
that looked bigger than it was. It was quaintly and beautifully furnished
in a scheme of dull-blue and dull-red. The company was in gala dress.

"Mr. Strathearn," was casually introduced all around; Mr. and Mrs. Ullom,
Miss Starbird, Mr. Alcorne, Mr. Crommelin, and others whose names he

He could not quite place these people. They had good assurance; the
rather insolent air that Heberdon instinctively adopted toward strangers
did not intimidate them in the least. Their manners were very free, but
then everybody's manners are free nowadays; and if under the freedom a
certain guardedness was perceptible, why that, too, is characteristic of
every stratum of society at present.

Men and women alike were beautifully turned out--almost too beautifully;
there was something slightly unnatural about their polished surfaces.
Like successful stage people, Heberdon thought, but stage people cannot
get together without talking shop, and there was no word of the theatre
here. Brought up among the Bourbons of Manhattan, it was evident that
these people lacked what his folk called "birth," but Heberdon welcomed
that. He was sick of his kind of people, and he wanted to find a society
as different as possible. But of course in his mind he looked down on

They were not especially intimate with each other, because the
conversation was scarcely interrupted by the entrance of the stranger.
Heberdon had no sense of the talk getting under way again with a missing
cylinder until it warmed up. It was idle talk about anything and nothing
with a disproportionate amount of laughter; in other words, the talk of
good-looking, well-dressed people who have dined well and are thoroughly
pleased with themselves.

The most noticeable figure among theme was the man Alcorne. Heberdon
picked on him at once as his only possible rival in the room. He did not
take much share in the conversation, but sat a little apart with a
scornful air. His eyes rolled strangely; he twitched in his chair. His
veiled glance followed Miss Flowerday wherever she moved. "In love with
her," thought Heberdon. It gave him little uneasiness. "A dissipated
wreck," was his inward comment.

The little house had no reticences; the dining-room, of pleasant
proportions and warm colouring, opened off the living-room. There was no
one in here, and Miss Flowerday presently manoeuvred Heberdon to a sofa
in the embrasure of a bay-window. Heberdon was sensible of the scowl on
Alcorne's face that followed them.

She was an embarrassingly direct young person.

"What made you look so queer when I welcomed you?" she demanded. "What
did you expect if not a welcome?"

"I hardly expected you to recognise me," stammered Heberdon. "An when you
did--and yet didn't seem to mind; well, it sort of cut the ground from
under my feet."

She laughed as at a private joke of her own. "I see," she said. "That was
natural--under the circumstances. But if you didn't expect to be
recognised what excuse did you have for calling?"

Heberdon was rapidly becoming at his ease. He had the wit to perceive
that frankness would be the surest passport to this young lady's
esteem--not that he intended to be frank, but he could appear to be frank
as well as anybody. Though dangerous, there was something thrillingly
delightful in the situation; had he not been longing all day to exhibit
himself in his true colours, as the nerviest crook of his time?

He said, "I was going to make out that I had a message of gratitude for
you from the poor devil you picked up that day."

She laughed delightedly. "And did you really expect to get away with
that? How simple men are!"

"How did you recognise me so quickly?" he asked.

"From your eyes. I never forget eyes. You can't disguise eyes."

"You can wear glasses."

"Glasses are only glass...Don't be uneasy about other people," she went
on smiling. "I am experienced in detecting disguises."

What a strange remark to fall from the lips of a candid young girl! Up to
this moment Heberdon had supposed that her unconventionality was the
result of her inexperience. What if she were not so inexperienced. He
looked his question, but she turned it off with a laugh.

"How did you finally get away that day?" she asked.

"According to the papers, after you swam the creek you entirely
disappeared. Sometimes I was afraid--"

Heberdon gave her a rather touched-up account of the subsequent incidents
of his escape.

Her eyes glowed like Desdemona's upon a similar occasion. "How
thrilling," she exclaimed. "Ah, ordinary life is so dull!"

"Well, I've no intention of repeating that affair," said he. "That was a

"You got away from them all," she said warmly. "You fooled them! That was
success. What does the money matter? It's the game!"

Heberdon was deliciously flattered.

"What have you been doing lately?" she asked.

Heberdon understood this as an invitation to relate more adventures. "Oh,
that's not my regular line;" he said, laughing. "That was only for a bit
of excitement."

Her face fell. "Ah, you do not trust me, after all," she murmured.

This was exactly what he desired her to say. He was charmed.

"The reason I didn't come before," he told her, "was that I couldn't bear
to appear in your eyes like a whipped cur, like a yellow dog chased down
the alley with a tin can tied to his tail."

She gave him a warm glance through lowered lashes.

"How conceited men are!" she said softly. "And how foolish! If they only
knew, it is when they are in trouble that they--that we cannot--" She
finished with a shrug.

"A man has his pride," remarked Heberdon.

"After all, it wasn't your fault that the tyre burst," she went on. "I
thought the whole affair was wonderfully planned and carried out. So

"Who?" asked Heberdon.

"A friend of mine...The wedge under the door that gave you time to get
out; the double hook over the outside door-handles! And all by yourself,
too! Stunning nerve, I thought. When I read the newspapers I was doubly
glad that I had been able to give you a lift."

Heberdon, while he looked modest, thought: "Here is somebody at last who
appreciates me! What would she say to yesterday's affair?"

Miss Flowerday was studying him. "Evidently something has happened to set
you up again in your own opinions," she said acutely.

Heberdon shrugged.

"I thought of you this morning," she went on, "when I read of the hold-up
on the Flatwick Elevated road. Another brilliant and original piece of
work. Nobody ever thought of holding up the Elevated road before. Such
humorous touches too; I mean making a human chain of the ticket-agent and
the conductor; putting on the conductor's coat and hat, and starting the
car before he got free. One man against five! What a wonderful nerve!"

It was bound to come out, of course. Heberdon allowed himself to look

"It was you!" she cried.

He shrugged again.

She clapped her hands like a little girl. "Oh, lovely!" she cried. "And
then you felt you could come to see me! Aren't men funny? Now, you must
tell me all about it," she went on. "Every littlest thing!"

Which he did, with due regard for the picturesque features of his tale.
His gratified vanity was simply purring now.

She had a hundred questions to ask. "Suppose the clerks in the car had
showed fight?"

"I had sized them up beforehand. You can generally tell by the look in a
man's eye."

"But suppose they had rushed you when you were on the floor in front of
the safe?"

"Nearly the whole length of the car separated us, If they had moved I had
plenty of time to snatch up my gun.'

"Would you have fired?"

"Certainly," he said coolly. "Sooner than face a jail sentence. I have
more at stake than most. The other time my gun wasn't loaded, but that
was merely squeamishness."

She shuddered. "That's the horrible part of it," she murmured.

He decided that in future he would suppress the violent details of his

"Suppose the motorman had come out of his box?" she asked.

"The whole business didn't take more than a few seconds longer than their
ordinary stop at a station. Maybe he was out of his box, but when I
pulled the bell-cord he had to get in again."

By the time he finished his tale the cries for "Cora!" from the front
room were becoming too insistent to be denied.

"Bother!" she exclaimed, standing up. "I suppose we'll have to go!"
Before she took a step forward, though, she said to him with a strange
look: "I have something to tell you. I am in the same business."

"What!" cried Heberdon, amazed. He looked incredulously around the
charming room.

"Yes," she said, following his glance. "All the proceeds of one job or

"What!" he cried again. "You a--"

"Don't!" she said hastily. "That's an ugly word, the word other people
use. Let's call ourselves buccaneers."

"And those people in there?" Heberdon asked, wide-eyed.

"Some of them," she answered guardedly. "Others are just acquaintances
that one picks up and lets drop again."

Heberdon glanced toward the kitchen. "And the old man?"

"Ah, he's the greatest one of us all!" she said, bright-eyed. "I can't
tell you his name, because I have not his permission. But he will tell
you himself soon. For you must be one of us!"

Heberdon, dazed, followed her into the next room. Alcorne's eyes rolled
at him inimically as he entered.


Next morning Heberdon lay in bed so long thinking over what had happened
the night before that he was late for an appointment at the office. It
came to the ears of Judge Palliser, who admonished his nephew sharply.
Heberdon, stung, offered to resign his job.

"Go ahead," said Judge Palliser with a steely look. "As far as I am aware
your services are not indispensable to the firm."

Heberdon wilted. He was not yet ready to take up the challenge. His
prudent self was far from dead, only a little submerged. However
delightful it was to indulge the wilder strain after so many years of
repression, he had no intention of letting go his anchor to windward. He
wanted it well understood with himself that it was only a temporary
indulgence. He had to have his respectable job and his respectable
relatives to fall back on.

So he allowed Judge Palliser to call his bluff, and prudence held sway
all day. He was panic-stricken now when he recollected his indiscreet
confessions to the alluring Cora.

"What could I have been thinking of?" he asked himself. "To give myself
away to a crook? Perhaps she's not a crook at all, but was simply drawing
me out!" This possibility made him shiver. He tried to reassure himself
with the thought that they had no line on him. He firmly resolved never
to go there again.

This was his night to go up to Marchmont, and he welcomed the trip as a
sort of bolster to his good resolution. He even went so far as to buy
Grand-Aunt Maria a box of candy. The old soul almost wagged her head off
at the sight of it, and informed Heberdon for the hundredth time that he
was down in her will.

"Yes," he thought, sourly appraising her, "and a fat lot of good it will
do me! A stringy old fowl like you will live to be a hundred! There's
nothing to wear you out, for your wits went long ago!"

Ida observed the box of candy with prim lips, for it was not the old
lady's habit to pass candy around, nor for that matter to eat it herself.
She hoarded it, to produce it, perhaps, in a month or two with a
magnificent gesture of generosity.

Heberdon, determined to square himself, succeeded in being decently
lover-like to Ida, and even deferred to his prospective mother-in-law, an
amiable, garrulous woman disregarded by her family. The judge, observing
these evidences of a chastened spirit, permitted the sun of his approval
to shine forth again on his nephew.

Heberdon's secret thoughts, like every man's whom self-interest forces to
be good-natured, were bitter. "That's all right!" he said in spirit to
his relatives. "Grin like Chessy cats, all of you. I knuckle down to you
to suit my own ends, but I despise you, every one of you!"

Back in town the following morning his restlessness broke out afresh. It
was the newspapers that unsettled him. Comment on the Flatwick hold-up
had by now been crowded by the press of newer news to a "stick" or two on
an inside page. Heberdon felt cheated. His voracious and insatiable
vanity required two-column heads continuously. Way down deep in his
consciousness a ferment began to work: "How to break into the news
again?" was the unacknowledged thought.

In this mood his thoughts flew back to Cora Flower-day. In Heberdon's
mind she was linked up with the daring life. Her alluring image teased
him all day. He was torn between desire and fear. If only he had not
given himself away to her! If he only dared trust her!--but was it
possible to trust any woman that ever lived?

He dined in solitary state at the Madagascar, and the expanding
influences of terrapin, mallard and champagne completed the undoing of
prudence. The other voice gained the ascendency.

"A girl like that, so open, impulsive, warm all on the surface. She
couldn't deceive a man like me. She's incapable of laying a trap.
Besides, she's crazy about me. Anybody could see that. That other fellow
was grinding his teeth. I am a fool to suspect her."

He compromised with his prudent self by resolving to write to her. No
danger in that. And from the tone of her reply he could guide his future
actions. As soon as he finished eating he went to the writing-room, and
gave the Madagascar as his address. Before starting his letter he debated
long, biting the end of his penholder.

"A bold, bluff, downright tone will be best with a girl like that," he

He wrote:--

"DEAR MISS FLOWERDAY,--I've been thinking about you all day. You're a
witch, the way you come between a man and his business. It seems like an
age since I saw you. To be sure, you told me to come again, but you set
no time, and I didn't want to wear my welcome out. I suppose I've got to
give the other fellows a show. Dining by myself here to-night, my lonely
condition was almost more than I could stand. Even the _Terrapin Bernard_
failed to please. Yet they say the great man prepares it with his own
hands. And the people around me made me sick; fat, overdressed mutts, to
put it plainly. There wasn't a woman in the room could hold a candle to
you. Not even the famous Irma Hamerton, who was seated a few tables away.
When am I going to see you?

"Yours devotedly,


Heberdon read this over before enclosing it, and prudence got in one last
kick. "Too warm, too warm! Much better find out what you're up against
before you let yourself go so far!" Another period of anxious pen-biting
followed, but suddenly the girl's image floated before him warm and
alluring. He licked the envelope and stamped it shut.

"Oh, hell," he thought. "Let her go! Might as well be hung for a sheep as
a lamb!"

The next morning there was not a single word in the papers about the
hold-up on the Elevated road, and Heberdon was in a rage. "If I don't get
out of this jail of an office, I'll end by wrecking the place!" he
thought. He looked around on his associates with a jaundiced eye. "Silly,
white-livered pettifoggers! Think they can order me around. Me! I can see
them quake if they knew who I was!"

It was Saturday, but a press of work on a certain case had brought them
all down to the office for an hour or two. Later, Heberdon made an excuse
to delay his departure for Marchmont, and hung around the Madagascar all
afternoon, drinking more than was good for him, and asking at the desk at
half-hour intervals for a letter. Toward evening it came.

"DEAR MR. STRATHEARN,--When can you see me again? That rests with you, an
it please you, sir. (I make a curtsey here.) I am astonished to learn
that you should have been scared off by the other fellows. I expected
that a man of your nerve would do the scaring.

"Seriously, though, I was delighted to hear from you, for I wanted to ask
you to dinner, and I didn't know where to reach you. Will you come Monday
night at seven? You can telephone. The number is Greenhill 722. Remember
that, for you won't find it in the book. You don't have to wait until
Monday either. I am always at home Saturday afternoon and evening. But
there's a crowd then. On Monday, I have arranged to have nobody but you.

"I have told the chief all about you, and he is anxious to meet you and
shake you by the hand, he says. He is sorry for the rude reception he
gave you on Wednesday night. He says I must tell you his name as a token
of our confidence in you. It is John Blighton.

"Until Monday (or Sunday),

"Yours sincerely,


John Blighton! Heberdon whistled noiselessly. Not for nothing had he
studied the annals of crime. In his estimation John Blighton was the
greatest bank-robber of the previous generation. The most notorious of
all bank robberies, the looting of the Whitehall Savings Institution, was
generally laid at his door, though the mystery had never been solved
definitely. Besides many lesser affairs. Blighton's skill in getting the
coin was only equalled by his success in covering his tracks. Arrested
time and again he had always succeeded in escaping a jail sentence.

"They have put themselves in my hands now," thought Heberdon exultingly.
"No further cause for me to worry." He immediately went to a telephone
booth and called up Greenhill 722.

Hearing her voice over the wire, the sweetness of it unexpectedly took
his breath away and his heart began to knock on his ribs. Never before
had a woman been able to move the pale and proper young lawyer like this.
He enjoyed the novel sensation, but it scared him a little, too.

"Oh, is it you?" she said warmly. "Coming out Monday night?"

"With bells on."

"Good! Perhaps you'll come Sunday too?"

"Sorry, I have a date up in the country."

"Ah! Speaking about other fellows! How about other girls?"

"There is no other for me."

"Yes, that's what they all say."

"But I mean it."

"They always add that."

"I swear there's no other girl in the world that figures for a minute
with me!"

"Mercy! Your voltage is too high! You'll bum out the fuses. Good-bye."

"Oh, wait a minute! Don't hang up!"

"What is it?"

"Nothing. But I don't want to lose you yet. Your voice is so sweet! I
never heard anything that--"

"Oh, I'm so disappointed in you."

"Disappointed? Why?" His voice fell absurdly.

She laughed delightedly. "I thought when I saw you here the other night,
so cold and ascetic-looking, that you hadn't had anything much to do with
girls. But now I find you as practised as any of them!"

"I'm not practised. It's nature speaking out. It's the first time--"

"Go along with you! I wasn't born yesterday. See you Monday then.

This time she did hang up, leaving Heberdon excited--and a little
dubious. "Lord! I shouldn't have let myself go like that!" he thought.
"She'll get a hold over me!"

He went along up to Marchmont, and thinking of the other girl, almost
succeeded in being ardent with Ida.

On Monday night the old man admitted him to 23 Deepdene Road with a grim
smile. Something sinister appeared in his face when he smiled. Sure
enough, when he closed the door, he did put out a great ham of a hand and
grasped Heberdon's.

"Glad to see you!" he said. "You bring honour o an ancient trade. We'll
have a talk later. I got to see to the dinner now. You'll find Cora
setting the table. Make yourself at home."

A strange greeting surely from an ostensible servant, thought Heberdon,
but this was in all ways a strange house.

To-night Cora was wearing a soft, creamy dress against which one of the
American Beauties he had sent glowed like a naked heart. Heberdon was a
little dizzied by the sight. In her eyes was an expression that bade him
be at home there, though her tongue still rallied him. She made him put
the glasses around the table. The rest of his flowers made a gorgeous
centre-piece there.

"I wanted you to wear them, not the table," he complained.

"Goodness, the whole bunch would extinguish poor little me!" she replied,

There were three places set--Heberdon wondered who was to be the
third--the cook perhaps.

"I hope you're hungry," she said. "Of course, it won't be like Bernard's,
though Jack does his darndest. But there are a couple of bottles of '04
champagne that are not so bad."

Heberdon was charmed with the informality of the household. There was no
other servant but the old man, and he, it seemed, was something more than
a servant. They passed freely in and out of the little kitchen where
Blighton, with a gingham apron tied around his neck, was basting a roast.
There was something decidedly quaint in the sight of the old robber
engaged in this lowly function.

"He's a born cook," said Cora affectionately.

"Every man who has a delicate tongue likes to cook," commented Blighton.
"In preparing a dinner he tastes it in his imagination. As for those that
have a coarse taste they are no better than wooden men."

"One of my neighbours tried to take him from me by offering him higher
wages," said Cora.

They roared with laughter.

Cora mixed cocktails in the dining-room, and carried one out to the cook.
The soup was brought in. Its delicate aroma would not have shamed Bernard

"Sit down and fall to," directed Cora. "Jack will be in with the meat."

When the main course was served, and the old man sat down at the table,
Cora remarked with a slightly defiant air:

"Frank might as well know the truth."

The unexpected sound of his name on her lips--Cora was never one to stand
on ceremony, warmed Heberdon through and through. He was prepared to
swallow any "truth" then.

The old man nodded.

"Jack is my dad," said Cora coolly.

Heberdon gasped a little at the suddenness of the announcement. Father
and daughter laughed aloud at the comical fact of astonishment he made.

"It was his own idea," Cora went on. "He insisted on setting me up in
good style in my own house. He said he'd shame me as a father--"

"I ain't one of this new generation of fancy men," put in old John;
"experts on grand opera and etiquette. In my day we were rougher--and
honester, I think."

Heberdon looked a little queer.

"Honester in our feelings, I mean," said old John without perceiving
anything humorous.

"And so he established himself as my cook and general bodyguard," Cora
went on. "It's very convenient for me, I must say."

"And I can smoke an old clay on the back porch without my collar," put in
the old man.

"Of course, we couldn't keep any other servants," said Cora.

"Too nosey," growled the old man.

"Do your friends know?" asked Heberdon.

"Only our old pals," said Cora. "Dick Alcorne, Dave Commelin, Grace
Starbird, and so on. Not our Greenhill Gardens friends."

"Flibbertigibbets'!" muttered the old man. "Goslings! Puff-balls!"

"Yet they call us the inconsistent sex!" said Cora, smiling
affectionately at her parent. "Listen to him! He insisted on setting me
up in this stuffy suburb when I'd far rather be near the white lights
just so that I could have good society, as he calls it. And then when
these people do come, he all but sticks out his tongue at them!"

"Well, nothing's too good for Cora," stated the old man aggressively.

"You're dead right there," said Heberdon.

By-and-by the old man gave them a toast. "Here's to the good old days
when iron safes cut like cheese, or burst open like Chinese firecrackers
with a little charge of nitro!"

They drank it to humour him, though as young people, of course, they
considered no days quite like their own.

"Nothing doing with these here chrome nickel-steel doors," Blighton went
on, "safe-cracking has gone out for good--except country post-offices,
and such small stuff."

"But there are still good chances nowadays," objected Heberdon. It was
thrillingly exciting to him to hear such things spoken out loud. Hitherto
he had scarcely dared whisper them to himself.

"Oh, yes," agreed Blighton. "This is the day of the hold-up man. He is no
longer limited to dark spots on a country road or to lonely stretches of
railway-track. The invention of the automobile has extended his
operations into the very centre of our cities. Why, they'll be holding up
police headquarters next thing you know. Ah, if there had been
automobiles in my day, I'd have given an account of myself!"

"Seems to me you did, anyhow," remarked Heberdon ingratiatingly.

"You bet he did!" from the loyal and admiring Cora.

"Not so bad! Not so bad!" said the old man.

"But of course in our business we can't hire any press-agents. Some of my
best work must for ever remain unknown. In regard to a certain affair I
have a reputation, I believe--"

"I know what you refer to," put in Heberdon.

"But it's not known for certain if I did it, and it's not known at all
how it was done. And. I'm not telling. No, in our trade a man must do a
good job for the love of it, for he can take no praise. The reason I had
to retire was that I got too great a reputation. It's a topsy-turvey
world. I got the most credit for the easiest jobs. But I suppose that
holds true of other trades as well--"

"What jobs, for instance?" asked Heberdon.

The old man, gazed at the centre electric with a pleasantly reminiscent
smile. Heberdon noticed that in the, strong light the pupils of his eyes
almost closed like a cat's.

"Not to name any names I mind one job that made a great mystery in the
papers," he said. "Me and my pals had laid out to crack a safe in a
certain big bank. This was to be our chef-doover, as they say, and we had
spent weeks of preparation on it. When the night came, we went there with
a regular portable machine-shop and explosives' factory combined. Six of
us there was. We had an old four-wheeler with two horses like they drive
to funerals nowadays. It was a big job. I can't tell you all the trouble
we went to, getting the cop off his beat and all. Well, we got in
according to plan, gagged the watchman, laid out all our tools--" He

"What happened?" asked Heberdon breathlessly. Certain details suggested
that it was the great Whitehall robbery the old man was talking about.
Was he about to learn the solution of a mystery which had baffled the
police for a quarter of a century?

"The cashier had forgotten to lock up!" said the old man with a loud

But the quality of the twinkle in his eye suggested that he was not
telling the whole truth, and so Heberdon found himself no wiser than he
had been in the beginning.

The meal ended with a tart St. Honoré. "This came from the fool
caterers," said old John carelessly. "I don't fool with no truck like

When they finished eating, Cora disappeared into the kitchen, ostensibly
to prepare the coffee, but in reality, Heberdon suspected, to give the
old man a chance to unbutton his waistcoat, and tell a broadminded story
or two, which he did with exceeding enjoyment. When the coffee was ready,
Cora called Heberdon into the living-room.

"Get along in with you," said the old man, "clear."

Heberdon made a faint-hearted offer to help.

"Get along with you!" was the scornful answer. "You'd bust the best
china. You young fellows' hands ain't trained like ours was."

Heberdon halted for a moment, holding the portières apart and surveying
Cora with eyes that began to burn. She made a charming picture sitting on
a low chair in front of the coffee-stand, looking around and up at him
with her warm and candid smile.


Heberdon was not one of your headlong lovers; he did not fall to his
knees beside the low chair, and crush her to him, though, he told
himself, she half expected it. Like an inexperienced wine-bibber, he
preferred to roll her under his tongue for a while.

"How lovely you are!" he murmured--and that at least was sincere.

"Pooh!" she pouted. "I hate compliments. I'm no society girl. When
anybody pays me compliments I don't know where to look!"

"Then you do really hate them," he said acutely. "You're too sharp!"

He drew a chair as close to hers as he could, and sat upon it gloating
over her beauty. She exhaled a subtle and delicious fragrance.

"What scent do you use?" he asked suddenly.

"That's something no true woman tells," she retorted. "You must think of
it as me, not as something that comes in a bottle."

The white soft curve of her neck was the loveliest thing he had ever
beheld. Not having been susceptible to such things hitherto it hit him
hard. The pink lobe of her ear, the little curls at the nape of her neck,
exquisite! A man of warmer nature would have forgotten himself entirely,
but Heberdon was still "tasting."

"I am certainly in luck!" he kept telling himself. He saw that the white
hand that lifted the cup trembled a little, and he was filled with a
delicious sense of power.

"Sugar?" she asked.

"Anything you like," he answered. "I'm hypnotised."

"Don't be silly!" she said, handing him his cup, but avoiding his eyes.

He leaned forward so that his shoulder touched hers. She did not draw
away. The warmth of her seemed to strike into his very breast--but there
was a little hard, cold core there that did not melt. She fluttered at
the touch. They were sitting before the empty fireplace, and she said
with charming irrelevance:

"I wish there was a fire! There is nothing to look at!"

"I have plenty to look at," he murmured with his lips an inch from her

She suddenly jumped up. "Mercy! This is too exotic!" she cried with a
boyishly disconcerted air. "Like a greenhouse in the summer time."

Heberdon laughed. She had a pretty wit, it seemed. He was not at all
disturbed by her flight. There was no hurry.

Coffee-cup in hand she sauntered up and down the room. There was both
grace and energy in every line of her young figure. "We've scarcely begun
to get acquainted yet," she said with meaning.

"It's not necessary to be fully acquainted," retorted Heberdon.

She ignored the remark. "Isn't it funny how you feel that you know a
person even after a single meeting. But every time you see them their
character lengthens out like--like a telescope, until at last when you
know them very well you realise that you don't know them at all?"

"Isn't that rather mixed up?" queried Heberdon.

"I don't care!" she said with a delightfully free gesture. "Thank Heaven
I don't have to take thought to what I say! I have no reputation for
cleverness to keep up. If there's no sense to it, it doesn't matter in
the least!"

"What you say makes all the difference in the world," murmured Heberdon.

"That's not worthy of you," she said mockingly. "That's what Jack calls
parlour porridge."

Heberdon had a provoking sense of having lost his power over her while
the length of the room separated them. "Come and sit down," he said in
that tone of cajoling peremptoriness that men employ tinder the

She shook her head decisively. "You're dangerous."

Nothing could have been sweeter to Heberdon. It restored his
self-conceit. "Are you afraid of danger?" he taunted.

She considered this with her head on one side. "Not any definite danger,"
she said at last. "I love any danger that I know. But things I don't
know? Yes, I confess I am afraid of them."

"Then know them," said Heberdon.

She took no notice of this. "Come on, and walk up and down with me," she
said gaily. "It's good for the digestion."

He obeyed, but not with a very good grace. "It's so ridiculous!" he

"Ha!" she cried wickedly. "Now I know what you're afraid of!"


"You're afraid of being ridiculous!"

It was true, of course, therefore it flicked him shrewdly. For the moment
he could think of no retort.

She maliciously pursued her advantage. "I'm so sorry for you! You must
suffer keenly. Because everybody is always being ridiculous. You are
ridiculous this minute, standing there glowering at me as if you wanted
to bite me!"

Heberdon thought, "This girl needs a lesson!"

He put the empty cup on the table, and she negligently handed hers over
to put beside it.

"I'm not afraid of you any more," she said mockingly.

Anger added the necessary fillip to Heberdon's ardour. "Be careful!" he
said a little thickly.

She laughed in his face.

He seized her and crushed her to him. For an instant she surrendered, and
her head fell back on the thick of his arm. He kissed her. But at the
touch of his lips a reaction set in. Suddenly, with a surprising
strength, she tore herself away, and without a backward look ran out of
the room and up the stairs.

Heberdon was not greatly concerned. This was much the way he expected her
to act. "She'll be back," he said to himself calmly, and lit a cigar. "At
any rate, the ice is broken."

He walked around the room looking at the backs of the books. They were a
mixed lot; novels, politics, biography and history, many of them
well-worn, not at all like the standard sets in morocco that graced the
libraries of his relatives. Heberdon looked for something on his own
special subject; not finding it he turned away. He wasn't in the least
interested in novels, politics, biography, and history.

As the minutes passed and there was no sign of Cora's return he became a
little uneasy. He went to the hall door and looked upstairs; no sight nor
sound of her there. He wondered if he were expected to follow. He knew
nothing of the layout above. Risky! There was the old man in the kitchen
to be taken into account, an ugly customer when roused. Heberdon decided
not to follow.

"No harm in holding off a little bit," he said to himself. "Make them
anxious." He strolled out into the kitchen.

John Blighton was wiping the dishes and humming an old song under his

"Oh, George, tell him to stop!
That was the cry of Mariar."

Heberdon looked at him sharply, but there was no hint of a _double
entendre_ in his grim and grinning old face.

"Where's Cora?" asked Blighton.

"Gone upstairs," said Heberdon.

"I'll be through directly, and we'll all go up to the den. We sit there
on closed nights."

"Closed nights?" queried Heberdon.

"Times when we don't want to be bothered with the human puff-balls," said
the old man, grinning. "I answer the door and says: 'Miss Flowerday is
out, and will they please leave their names.'"

Heberdon became aware that he was being subjected to a keen scrutiny. He
bore it with equanimity, knowing that his face didn't give away much.

"Looka here," said the old man with his bluff candour, "in our business
'tain't polite to ask personal questions, but I've taken a fancy to you.
Got any family?"

"If you mean, am I married," said Heberdon. No."

"Any folks?"

"Not father or mother or brothers or sisters. Plenty of other relatives,
but I'm not much for them."

"Have they cast you off?"

"No, no, but we just don't travel the same beat."

"They're big guns, I take it, 'way up."

"Some of them."

"And you drifted into this business from a love of excitement, not
because you were in need for the coin."

Heberdon was flattered. "That's about it," he said.

"Was the Princesboro bank your first job?"

Heberdon made it a practice to tell the truth--when there was nothing to
be lost by it. "My first," he answered.

"It showed head work," said the old man approvingly.

When his work was clone he led the way upstairs to an inviting little
room at the back of the house with shaded lights, capacious easy-chairs,
plenty to smoke, and a cellaret in the corner.

Seeing him glance around, the old man said simply, "Cora has the art of
making a place livable. It's a pleasant harbour after a stormy life."

"I expect you have lived," observed Heberdon, with the object of drawing
him out further.

Blighton shrugged. "I ain't no model for the young to pattern after," he

They had no more than settled themselves in the little room when Cora
came in. In her manner there was no trace of self-consciousness; her face
was as bland as a baby's. Heberdon was secretly relieved. His alarmed
vanity was soothed.

"She means that the little incident downstairs is simply to be sponged
off," he told himself. "She's giving me notice that I must begin all over
again, I don't mind. I don't want her to give in too quickly."

"Shall we play a hand at rum?" suggested the old man. "When we are alone
me and Cora play till the cows come home. It's an innocent game. But we
see through each other like window-glass."

"You mean I see through you," amended Cora.

"Well, a third hand will supply an unknown quantity. Frank ought to be a
card-player; his face is as smooth as a poker-chip."

Heberdon understood that this was intended as a compliment.

"Hardly worth while to begin," said Cora. "The others will be here

Heberdon looked at her in surprise and chagrin.

"We asked some of our old friends to come in late," she explained coolly.
"Jack's idea being to let them understand that you were to be one of us
hereafter." But the old man had looked surprised, too.

"She telephoned them while I was in the kitchen," thought Heberdon. "She
is cleverer than I thought That's all right. I'll tame her."

Aloud he said with assumed heartiness: "That's very kind of you. I was
interested in those people the other night."

He got no change out of Cora; she continued to look bland.

Miss Starbird and Mr. Crommelin were the first to arrive. The former was
a handsome lady, a more or less natural blonde, who passed current as a
girl, and might have been any age short of forty. She was beautifully
dressed in a highly sophisticated style which became her. She affected
the downright no-nonsense air of a woman commercial traveller. Heberdon
quailed a little under the glance of her large, cool, blue eyes; an
immense experience of the world was suggested there. He would never have
dared to make love to this lady, eminently personable though she was.

Crommelin was a dour, silent, dark man about ten years older than
Heberdon. He dressed the part of a sober business man, but his hands were
noticeably out of character; strong, nervous, vital-looking hands, oddly
scarred. Whenever Crommelin looked at Cora the dour expression broke up,
the dark eyes beamed, and one perceived then that life had not embittered
him, though he was permanently cast down. Heberdon saw that his affection
for Cora was purely a paternal feeling.

These two accepted Heberdon without question on John Blighton's say-so,
and admitted him at once into their most intimate talk. According to
their own code they chatted with a careless freedom of their own affairs,
but betrayed no knowledge of Heberdon's business, nor the slightest
curiosity concerning it. Quite the reverse from the ways of respectable
society, Heberdon thought. They left it to him to return their confidence
if he chose. For the present he did not choose.

Miss Starbird, it appeared, was in the jewellery line; that is to say,
she did not dispose of jewellery, she acquired it. Certain details of her
operations that she let fall greatly stimulated a desire in Heberdon to
hear more.

"My dears, I've taken a studio down in Greenwich Village," she said.
"It's the greatest scheme ever. Really, things are getting so easy
nowadays, it's a shame to take the money."

"That's what I say," put in Heberdon.

"A studio?" queried Cora, smiling. "You can't paint but one face!"

"Cat!" retorted Miss Starbird in perfect good humour. "I don't have to
paint pictures. Plenty of poor devils to do it for me. Besides, most of
the painters have left Greenwich Village in disgust anyhow. It's the
great American nut forest nowadays; walnuts, hickory-nuts, peanuts, and
filberts. If Horace Greeley were living nowadays he'd say, 'Young man, be
a nut!'

"The village idea is wonderful for our business. Anybody can go anywhere
down there and meet everybody. All you need is nut-gall, and a line of
nut-talk. Anything will do. My line is transcendental angles--"

"What are they?" asked old John.

"Bless your heart, I don't know. But neither does anybody else. It has an
imposing sound. That's all that's necessary."

"Still, I don't get the idea," persisted Blighton.

"Listen, darling. The biggest people in town hang around Greenwich
Village nowadays; they think they're seeing life, the poor Simons! I gave
an 'evening' in my studio night before last, and Peter Chilton brought
the Damrells, who bought the Cornfields--you know, the dame who owns the
hundred-thousand-dollar necklace--now do you begin to see a glimmer?
Naturally, I made up to her, my dears. She was much flattered. Asked me
up to lunch on Thursday to talk about transcendental angles."

"Um! I see," said John Blighton. "It is well that I lived in my own time.
I should not prosper in these! What you been doing, Dave?"

"Nothing," answered Crommelin in his dejected way. Living on my capital
and waiting for an idea. Got any?"

"Nothing definite," returned the old man. He tapped his head. "Something
stewing in here."

"Anything for me in it?" asked Miss Starbird. "I love Jack's jobs, they're
always so dashing!"

"I play leading lady next time," said Cora. "It's my turn."

The talk was interrupted by a ring at the door-bell. Blighton went down
to answer it. He remained below getting a supply of ice, and the visitor
came up alone. It was Alcorne.

At the sight of him a constraint fell upon the party. Alcorne's aspect
was wild in the extreme, his eyes rolled, his head twitched, his lips
were rolled back in a grin of pain. To Heberdon it seemed as if some
frightful catastrophe must have overtaken the man, but upon glancing
covertly around at the others, he saw that they were not alarmed, but
only disgusted.

Alcorne seemed not to be aware of ay coolness in his reception. He went
from one to another, greeting them jocularly in a jerky, high-pitched
voice. The words bore no relation to the wild and desperate look in his
eyes. When he came to Heberdon he paused and looked him up and down.
Heberdon was sensible of purest hatred in the insane eyes. "This man
would like to see me on the rack," he thought.

Alcorne said, "So here's the candy kid again. The new leading man who's
going to send us all back to the small time!"

Heberdon smiled stiffly. This company was strange to him, and he did not
know for sure whether this was the man's ordinary manner or if he were
going out of his way to insult him.

Alcorne did not leave him long in doubt. "Think pretty well of yourself,
don't you?" he said, sneering.

"I've lived to see a dozen like you get their heads shaved!"

This was pretty crude. Heberdon reddened. Before he could act Cora was at
his side.

"Please pay no attention," she said quietly. "He is not himself."

"Oh, I'm not myself, am I?" said Alcorn with a loud, cracked laugh.

Cora's eyes blazed on him. "Be quiet, or leave the house!" she commanded.

He was afraid of her. The crazy eyes bolted; he went to a sofa and
plumped himself down. Here he sat biting his fingers, his eyes rolling
horribly, and darting little glances of hatred like snakes' tongues in
Heberdon's direction. The others, affecting to ignore him, tried to take
up their conversation.

Suddenly Alcorne, apropos of nothing that had gone before, broke out in a
dry, shrill voice of a man labouring under great nervous tension--but
there was little connection between his manner and his words.

"Won five thousand on the wheel at Standish's last night! They say I
don't know when to stop. Played No. 23 all evening--Cora's number...No
jinx for me!...Cleaned out twice before I killed my hog!...Made 'em
settle in crisp, new fifty-dollar notes...Oh, you crackle!...They're all
gone now. I'm the boy to burn 'em up!...Bought a present for Cora--" Here
he fumbled in his pockets. "That's gone, too...Never mind! I'll go back
to-night and get some more!"

During this, Blighton re-entered the room. Cora, with a look; called his
attention to Alcorne.

"Dick," said the old man with grim mildness, "come downstairs with me."

"Shan't!" muttered Alcorne.

A vein stood out on the old man's forehead. His face became terrible in
anger. Without saying anything more he pointed to the door. Alcorne
thought better of his defiance, and slunk out of the room. Blighton
followed. The girls sighed with relief.

"What's the matter with him?" asked Heberdon.

"Cocaine, heroin, morphine; some drug or another," said Cora. "He is worse
to-night than he has ever been."

Miss Starbird was pale under her rouge. "He's always getting worse!" she
cried. "What are we to do with him? If this goes on he will do something
reckless that will ruin us all! Yet we can't cast him off either."

"He is not so reckless as he seems," said Cora contemptuously. "He trades
on this wildness."

By-and-by Blighton and Alcorne came back. As to what had happened below
Heberdon could only conjecture. At any rate, Alcorne was subdued and
wretched-looking now. He sat down by himself and took no part in the
talk, smoking one cigarette after another held in his shaking fingers.

Heberdon, when he had an opportunity, studied him curiously. In his way
Alcorne was rather a notable figure. In the veiled insolence of his
manner, and the careless elegance of his dress, he would not have been
out of place in the most fashionable club. His mannerisms were such as
are associated with such places. He looked like the scion of a
millionaire who had never been denied anything since infancy, and had gone
the pace from the age of fifteen. He was of about Heberdon's years, but
at present he looked almost aged.

The others treated Alcorne like a sick man, affecting to ignore his
outbreak. They sought to draw him into the conversation, but he remained
silent. His presence put an effectual damper on the party, and Miss
Starbird departed with Crommelin before long. Heberdon lingered on,
hoping to outstay the other, or at least to get a word or two alone with
Cora. Alcorne sat on in dogged silence, inspired perhaps by the same idea.
In the end the bluff old man cut the knot to suit himself.

"Well, boys, time to close up," he said. "Cora must have her beauty

Heberdon glanced at Cora. She kept her eyes down. Since she acquiesced
there was nothing for it but to go.

Since neither young man would yield place to the other they left the
house together. Cora's adieus were friendly and offhand, exactly the same
to each. No night was named for Heberdon's return. "She wants to avoid
exciting him again," Heberdon told himself.

Outside the house Alcorne seemed to recover some of his aplomb, and to be
wishful to ingratiate himself. "Fine night," he said, cocking an eye

The prudent Heberdon was perfectly willing to put a good face on matters.
"Fine!" he replied warily.

Alcorne had a car waiting at the kerb, a rakish-looking raceabout that
suited his type. "Give you a lift back to town," he said offhand.

Heberdon hesitated.

Alcorne laughed. The man had at certain moments an uncanny perspicacity.
"Oh, I'm all right now," he said. "But you can drive her yourself if you
want. I suppose you can drive."

"I can," answered Heberdon shortly.

"All right. Take the wheel."

They started, and for a mile or two exchanged no speech except for
Alcorne's pointing out the proper turns to take. "What's he thinking
about?" thought Heberdon, "or does he think at all?" No doubt the same
question was in the other man's mind.

Finally Heberdon became aware that the other had drawn a little folded
paper from his change pocket, and was opening it with shaking fingers.
The action was significant.

"For God's sake, put it away until you get home!" said Heberdon sharply.
"I can't take care of you."

Alcorne laughed. "This will buck me up," he said. "I took too strong a
shot before."

He took a pinch of white powder from the paper and snuffed it up.
Heberdon waited to see what would happen. If the man got obstreperous
again, he intended simply to stop the car, and leave him to his own
devices. But a deep, unholy curiosity stirred Heberdon; his nostrils
tingled with desire.

Pretty soon Alcorne began to talk rationally enough. "The night's young,"
he said. "Where will we go?"

"Much obliged," said Heberdon dryly, "bed for mine."

"Where do you hang out?"

"The Madagascar."

"I didn't ask you where you wrote your letters. We all use Madagascar

Heberdon remained silent.

Momentarily, Alcorne became more voluble. He displayed a crude desire to
square himself. "Mustn't mind me," he said. "Not a bad sort if you take
me as you find me. Got a rough edge to my tongue, I suppose. Don't care
what I say. You're too thin-skinned anyhow...Come on, I'll introduce you
at Standout's."

In a supposedly purified city Standout's was well known as the most
gorgeous of gambling houses. Heberdon would have liked very well to be
introduced there, but he was afraid of being compromised by his eccentric
companion. He shook his head.

Alcorn read his thought. "You're afraid I'll queer you. You don't know
me. I'm the best known sport in town. All the young fellows are crazy to
be seen with me. Doesn't matter what I do; it becomes the style.

"You and I ought to be pals," he went on. "We're the only young fellows
in Jack's bunch. I don't know what your line is, but I suppose you're
good at it, or Jack wouldn't bother with you. You and I might go in on
something together. I could put you on to some good things. Got a job on
hand now, and need a helper."

Heberdon thought, "Is this on the level or is he just working me?...When
a man's drunk the truth generally comes out, but I don't know about
dope...Anyhow, I'll be careful, but there's no necessity of making him

Aloud he said, "That would be great. But just at the moment I'm full up."

But Alcorne's sharp ears caught the insincere ring.

A snarl crept into his voice. Ah-h, you think I'm a down-and-outer, don't
you? Nothing to it! You don't know me. I take an occasional shot of coke,
but it hasn't got me at all. I can control it!"

"I expect that's what they all say," thought Heberdon.

Alcorn went on, "Sometimes, like to-night, I deliberately take an
overdose just for the thrill. By God! What a lovely jingle it starts! You
walk on air, you feel like an emperor, you live! Cocaine offers you the
keys to paradise. Why the hell shouldn't you enter occasionally?"

All this found a horrid echo in Heberdon's breast; he, too, liked to walk
on air and feel himself an emperor. Alcorne fumbled in his pocket again.
"Here, take a half a shot," he said. "Just for the jingle." Heberdon was
tempted--and terrified. "God forbid!" he said quickly.

Alcorne laughed, and put away the paper. "You'll come to it," he said
carelessly. "You're the kind. You're conceited. Cocaine is meat and drink
to a conceited man."

Heberdon shuddered.

As Alcorne put him down at the Madagascar he said, "I hang out at
Mellout's chop-house. Look me up any time."


It was astounding how swiftly the seven thousand melted away. There was
a tiny wrist-watch for Cora of platinum and French enamel, a thousand
dollars cool; there was a complete new outfit for himself, nothing
spectacular, of course, but everything of the finest quality and
workmanship. Heberdon went to a new and more expensive tailor, and, not
daring to run such a bill in his own name, was obliged to pay cash.

There were new furnishings for his rooms, including may little
indulgences he had hitherto been obliged to deny himself; dressing-gowns
of heavy silk; fittings for his bureau of eboy and silver, personal
jewellery and knick-knacks.

There is nobody like your cold-blooded person for luxuriousness. And this
is not to speak of the stocks of choice liquors and cigars, elaborate
dinners at the Madagascar, taxicabs every time he stirred out of doors,
bushels of American Beauties, et cetera, et cetera. Within a week
Heberdon's money was two-thirds gone, and the pressure to replenish his
funds became insistent.

Meanwhile Cora was acting in a baffling way that exasperated him to the
highest degree. As a matter of fact, she was so simple and candid that he
could not see through her in the least. There was nothing in her actions
to suggest that she did not care for him; on the contrary, her eyes
continually betrayed her. But she displayed an astounding obstinacy and
ingenuity in keeping him at arm's length. He could never get her alone.

Once he asked her to dine with him at the Madagascar, thinking of the
long ride home by taxicab. Her eyes brightened, but her lips became

"On one condition," she said.

"What is that?"

"That we walk to the station afterward, and come home by, train."

His face fell. "Cora!"

"I mean it."

He agreed, not meaning to hold to it.

"She'll feel differently after dinner," he told himself. But shed not.
She balked at the taxicab he called, and he had to give in to her or make
a scene in the street, something the proper Heberdon shuddered at.

The journey home was not exactly a happy one.

He left her at her door, and returned to town in a cold fury. Determined
to teach her a lesson, he stayed away from Greenhill Gardens for three
days. But no word came from her, and in the end he was obliged to go
back. As a matter of fact, with every day that passed he became less
capable of playing the master with Cora.

She was in his blood and in his brain, too; her resistance maddened him
no less than her charm.

It was Saturday night when he went back after the dinner incident. He was
not expected, for Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays were his regular
nights at 23 Deepdene Road. Tuesdays, Thursdays and week-ends he went up
to Marchmont. On this particular Saturday he simply could not endure the
thought of not seeing Cora until Monday, so he telegraphed Ida that he
would be out Saturday morning, and took a taxicab for Greenhill Gardens.

Cora was unaffectedly glad to see him, but there was not much comfort to
Heberdon's egoism in that, because there was no humility in her
gladness. She did not appear sorry for the way she had acted; on the
contrary, she showed a forgiving air that angered him afresh.

Of late Cora had always seen to it that others were present when Heberdon
called, but to-night she was unprepared. To be sure, old Jack was there,
but he presently announced his intention of going to "the club,"
whatever that was.

Evidently Cora had not taken him into her confidence as to the situation
between her and Heberdon. Her pride would not allow her in Heberdon's
presence o try to prevent his going out.

So Heberdon was left alone with her at last. She showed neither
constraint nor self-consciousness but held up her chin with a dauntless
air that secretly intimidated the man. Now that he had his chance, true
to his nature, he hung back and sulked.

In the cosy little den upstairs she tried to tease him into a better
humour, but without any success. He was waiting for her to ask him what
was the matter, and she would not do that. Finally, she propose a game of
rum. He agreed with a great parade of indifference.

Cora, like the charming child she was immediately became absorbed in the
game. To Heberdon this was an added offence. In his irritation he made
mistakes, and of course she beat him and triumphed innocently.

This was the last straw. He flung down his hand in a burst of temper.

"Damn the cards!"

"It isn't the cards' fault," she remarked, laughing.

"You're right," he said darkly; "it isn't the cards."

"What is it, then?"

"You know what's the matter!" he told her accusingly.

She was too honest to feign innocence.

"Oh, that!" she said coolly. "I'm sorry."

"Why do you treat me so?" he demanded.

"How else could I treat you?" she murmured. "Are you a mere flirt?"

She was stung. "I don't know what you mean," she said coldly. "I act as I
feel. If that is flirting, I suppose I am a flirt."

"You don't act as you feel. You do care for me. Your eyes draw me on.

"Of course I care for you," she said simply as a child. "I never made ay
secret of it."

"Then why do you hold me off?"

She shrugged.

"Are you trying to madden me?"

"It rests with you, doesn't it?" she asked very low. Still his blind
egoism he would not see.

"That first night," he said. "You didn't draw away from me then; you let
me take you; you kissed me back. What has happened since then?"

He was leaning across the table, reaching for her, and she was leaning
back. She rose, pushing back her chair.

"Do you love me?" she asked simply.

"I'm mad about you!" he cried. "I can think of nothing else, night or
day. You have stirred me to my depths! No woman ever meant to me what you

"I asked you if you loved me," she repeated with soft persistence.

"Am I not telling you I'm crazy about you? What's a word?"

She shrugged. "True; what's a word!"

He took a step around the table. "Then come to me! We're wasting time!"

"Keep back!" she ordered sharply.

"I will have you!" he cried.

He had her cornered. Her eyes darted around the room like a wild thing's.
They fell upon a paper-knife on the mantel, and quick as light she had
snatched it up. Heberdon stopped in his tracks. It was the swift sure
gesture rather than the foolish weapon which intimidated him.

Cora flung it disdainfully on the table.

"Oh, we're acting like people in a play!" she cried distressfully. "It's
too silly!"

Encouraged by this evidence of weakness, he took another step toward her.
Instantly her face steeled again.

"Stay where you are!" she said.

He stayed.

"There must be an explanation," she went on with proud simplicity,
"though it seems very strange to me that you should require any. I don't
know what another woman would do; I don't care. You say you love me, or
are crazy about me, but I must know what you want. Do you wish to
marry me?"

The word had the effect of an icy shower on Heberdon. He started back,
staring at her clownishly.

"Marry!" he echoed, and laughing harsh

Cora gazed at him sombrely. "If you are trying to insult me, you can't!"
she said quietly. "Not that way. For I know my own worth. I could make you
marry me if I chose--Oh, I've seen it one; but I don't want you on such
terms. If you don't want to marry me, all right; I shan't die of it. You
may continue to come here; I'll be friends with you. But it must be
understood, hands off! You, the same as any other man! You'd better go now
and think er what I've said."

In the face of that proud simplicity there was no answer possible; there
was nothing to do but to go, as she bade him. With a sneer and an r of
bravado Heberdon left the room, horribly conscious nevertheless that he
was being put out.

His vanity could not endure the thought. Rage suffocated him. How he got
out the front door he never knew. That the thief and the daughter of a
thief should seek to put him in his place; should presume to speak of
marriage; should practically order him of the house. Oh, ridiculous,

It did him no good to take that lofty tone to himself. The fact
remained--she had put him out, and she was back there triumphing over
him. Oh, how could he get square with her; how could he make her suffer;
how make her crawl in abasement! He couldn't, because she had put him in
the wrong with her ridiculous pretence of virtue. He should have
laughed--laughed! And now it was too late.

To put it plainly, she had punctured the egoist's illusions by speaking
the truth. He simply could not exist without his illusions. He could not
face the truth; he had to drive it out of his mind somehow.

In the turmoil of his feelings he walked half-way into town without
realising what he was doing. The walk did not calm him at all. He
trolleyed the rest of the way. It was impossible to think of going home
to bed. He had to achieve forgetfulness somehow; he had to find something
that would set him up again in his own esteem. The thought of Alcorne
popped into his head.

He dropped into Mellish's chop-house, and asked for him.

"Oh, Dick," said the cashier, with perfect familiarity. "He's over at
Blaney's place. Just telephoned me from there."

Heberdon proceeded to the address given. Blaney's proved to be a dingy
little bar in a side street that was doing an extraordinary business. It
was hard to say what constituted the attraction of the place, but you
felt it as soon as you entered; a complacent air, as if the motto over the
bar had been: "Everything goes here, and nothing goes any farther."
Perhaps it was in the insinuating lee of the bartenders.

In the rear of the bar-room there was a "garden"--a small hall,
really--where couples danced to the strains of an orchestration that was
fed with nickels. Elegantly dressed couples jostled shoddy couples, but
the same spirit hovered over all; was it the spirit of dissoluteness?

Heberdon paused just inside the street door, a little taken aback by the
unexpected throng and the racket. Presently he made out Alcorne, deep in
talk with a shady-looking customer who wore a cap pulled low over his

At Heberdon's approach this individual faded away. Alcorn seemed to be in
fairly rational state for him, though his eyeballs rolled, his head
twitched, and his yellow fingers trembled as usual.

He greeted Heberdon almost effusively.

"Strathearn! Good man! What'll you have? was hoping you'd look me up some

Heberdon took whisky neat, but that wasn't what he craved.

With his uncanny insight into evil, Alcorne entered into the state of the
other man's mind without a word being spoken.

"I was just on my way over to Standish's," he said. "You'll come?"

Heberdon nodded.

On the way in a taxi Alcorne produced one of the little white papers,
and, unfolding it, took a pinch of the contents. Heberdon's eyes

"Take half a shot just for the jingle," said Alcorne invitingly.

Heberdon had no thought of resistance now. This was what he craved;
forgetfulness, a stimulus. Taking the amount that Alcorne measured off,
he snuffed it up as he had seen the other man do. Alcorne showed all his
yellow teeth.

Heberdon had two thousand dollars in his pocket--all that remained of his


Standish's was one of an otherwise respectable row of big brownstone
houses in a side street among the Forties. The arrangements were very
discreet. There was a bright light in the vestibule, and while you waited
there for the door to be opened you were presumably subjected to a close
scrutiny from within, but you were not aware of it. Alcorne being
eminently persona grata at the house, he and his friend were not kept
standing long.

The lower floor was given up to dressing-rooms in charge of smiling and
discreet footmen and maids, who made you feel that you could not be
better taken care of anywhere. A magnificent, sweeping stairway, with
elaborately carved balustrade, wound up through the centre of the house,
fitting for the display of delicately shod feet and exquisite, slender
ankles. The whole of the second story was a dancing floor with little
tables all around, like Blaney's--with a difference. The same spirit
hovered over the place, but there were no shoddy couples here. Heberdon,
in all his experience, had never seen such women and such clothes.

As they climbed the stairs he began to feel a subtle fire mounting in his
brain. The first sensations were exquisite; the horrible hurt to his
self-love ceased to torment him; a fine, big pride filled his being. All
these dashing people of whom ordinarily he would have been just a little
in awe now seemed like such ordinary creatures that he was thrilled by
the sense of his own superiority. It seemed to him that everybody
instinctively recognised his worth; he stepped among them like a king.

"The girls aren't so bad," he remarked to Alcorne with a blase air; "but
the men! Lord, what common-looking mutts!"

Alcorne glanced at him sidewise and stroked his upper lip, to hide the
yellow-toothed smile.

The green-baize covered tables were on the third floor. There was very
little noise up here; only a certain clicking and shuffling, and low,
excited voices, uttering numbers. There was roulette, _rouge et noir_,
fan-tan, and may other games ancient and modern, including even a form of
solitaire which seemed to be popular with the older patrons of the house.
There was a whole row of them, white-haired and benevolent, each playing
with himself at a little table, a watchful representative of the bank
sitting opposite.

The greatest press was around' the wheels, and in this direction Alcorne
and Heberdon bent their steps. Heberdon's sense of well-being had by now
risen to such a pitch that it was difficult to tell if it were well-being
or agoy. The blood pounded in his temples; he couldn't see very well; his
body seemed to have overcome the attraction of gravity and he had
difficulty in keeping his feet on the ground. He grasped Alcorne's arm.

They found places in the circle about one of the wheels. Heberdon was
vaguely conscious of the faces of the others around, floating faces
without any bodies, in particular the mask of a young woman with staring
eyes and a jewelled aigrette in her hair which quivered incessantly.
Then the spinning, parti-coloured wheel hypnotised him. It seemed like a
symbol of his brain; was it a wheel or was it his brain spinning there?
Like everybody else he instinctively thrust a hand in his pocket, that
was the last he knew.

He came to, to find himself lying on a couch in a small room. One of the
irreproachable men-servants was there.

He heard Alcorne say: "He's better now. You needn't wait."

Heberdon tried to rise, and was overcome by a wave of nausea. He fell
back on the couch. His head was bursting.

"What's happened?" he asked weakly.

"You tried to go it, that's all," said Alcorne with his cackling laugh.
"Never saw a man take it like you before. I only gave you half a man's
size dose, too. But it blew the top of your head clean off. When you saw
the wheel you went crazy; started in to break the bank. I couldn't hold
you. And when your last dollar went you crumpled up, as if somebody had
dropped you with a slung-shot. We carried you up here."

"All my money!" wailed Heberdon.

"Every damn cent!" said Alcorne cheerfully. Heberdon thought: "It's a
lie! He's got it! But I can never prove it!"

"Hell, what's a couple of thousand to a guy like you?" Alcorne went on
easily. "I can put you in the way of making plenty more myself."

The bottom seemed to have dropped out of Heberdon's world. "All my
money!" he repeated. "All my money! I must get out of this!" He tried to
sit up again. "I'm sick!" he wailed.

In his weakness and relaxation the tears began to roll down his face.

Alcorne regarded him with that unchangeable grin.

"There's only one thing for you," he said.

"What's that?"

"A hair of the dog that bit you." The inevitable little folded paper

Heberdon, in his utter prostration, had only one thought--to recover that
godlike sense of superiority. He put out a trembling hand. Alcorne
measured oat a minute dose.

Presently the blood began to mount to Heberdon's brain again. His
weakness left him. Rising from the couch, he caught sight of a ghastly
drawn face in a mirror, but refused to recognise it as his own. He was in
great haste to put the room and the hideous recollection of his awakening
behind him.

"Let's go! Let's go!" he said nervously.

"We'll take a table on the dancing-floor," announced Alcorne. "I've got a
proposition to put up to you. And by the way, since you're cleaned out
I'll lend you fifty."

Alcorne took out his bill roll, but held it in such a way that Heberdon
could not see how much it contained. "Has he got the gall to lend me back
fifty of my own?" he thought bitterly. Alcorne's crazy grin told him
nothing. "I'll never know," Heberdon told himself. He hastily pocketed
the money without thanks.

By the time they got a table on the second floor Heberdon's self-esteem
was pretty well restored. It was not the ecstasy of the first dose, but
he had no desire to repeat that. He merely wanted to feel like somebody;
and he did.

To be sure, it was all slightly unreal; he found himself blinking in
order to decide whether the turning figures on the floor were really
dancers or merely spots before his eyes. Alcorne's twisted face had a
disconcerting way of retreating into a fog and springing out at him
again. Only part of the time did he realise that the second voice he
heard speaking was his own. It seemed to be carrying on its half of the
conversation intelligently, but he had no control over it.

But it was a comfortable enough state, on the whole. He blinked and
basked in the light and warmth. He felt fine. He listened to Alcorne's
proposition without a qualm, for he was living in a world where all moral
considerations had been sloughed off.

"Ever hear of Miss Biddy O'Bierne?" asked Alcorne.

Heberdon nodded. "The Irish millionairess."

"The same. Her old man made a stack in the palmy days of railroading.
Started as a navvy, and ended as a first-class road-wrecker."

"What about Biddy?"

"She's got a pearl necklace worth--well I don't know what it's worth; but
Gelder has put up a standing offer of fifty thousand for it."

"Who's Gelder?"

"Er--a broker."

"Well, how are you going to get it?"

"I'm giving you the chance.

"What's the dope?"

"Listen. Biddy O'Bierne is one of the characters of New York. An old
maid, over sixty. Lives alone with her servants in a big brick house on
the avenue, near Washington Square. She's a superstitious old bird, and
she wears her necklace night and day; she thinks it brings her luck--see?

"She's a great philanthropist. Wants to be known as the most charitable
woman in New York. By playing up to that, you can do what you like
with her. Now, you've got a good appearance. You can go anywhere. All you
have to do is to go to her house and get that rope of oyster buttons.
I've got it all fixed for to-morrow."

Heberdon was not so bemused but that this startled him a little.

"Hey? To-morrow!" he said.

"You'll have to act promptly, or some slick guy will cut you out.
Gelder's offer is known to all, of course."

"To-morrow!" repeated Heberdon, a little dazed.

"Listen," said Alcorne. "Biddy's got a butler, Cummings by name. He's
more than a mere servant; a sort of bodyguard and general factotum.
Watches over her like a hen with one chicken. Nothing doing when he's in
the house. I've been doing some work on this case. I happen to know that
Cummings has a day off to-morrow. He's going up to the country. There
won't be anybody in the house but the old dame and a pack of maids."

Considerations of prudence occurred dimly to Heberdon.

"But I've got to know the lay of the land," he objected. "I've got to
find out the old party's habits and so on. That will take time. I can't
go it blind."

"I've done all that for you," said Alcorne. "Listen. We'll fix you up a
disguise together. You'll call there about four-thirty to-morrow
afternoon. She's religious as hell, and she's not at home to visitors
Sunday, so there's no danger of your meeting anybody--see?"

"But if she's not at home to visitors, why should she see me?"

"Listen. It's all been thought out. You will be provided with a
calling-card reading 'Mr. Christopher Kelly'; and down in the corner
'Secretary Ozone Farm for Convalescent Children.' Firstly, the Irish name
will appeal to her; she's strong for the race; secondly, she'll be up in
the air at the thought of anybody starting a new charity without
consulting her first. Oh, she'll see you all right."

"Have you got a plan of the house?"

"Don't need any. It's an English basement, and there's a reception-room
on the ground floor just a step or two from the front door. Ordinary
callers are shown in there, and intimate friends are taken upstairs."

"Where did you get your information?"

"I took one of the maids out."

"Go ahead."

Well, the maid will leave you in the reception-room, and the old girl
will come to you there. You don't want to die laughing when you see her.
She's about four foot ten high and the same in circumference. On her head
she wears a sort of hay-rick of false hair, red, and about a foot high.
Don't be worried if you don't see the necklace; it will be under her
bodice; she never leaves it off."

"Well, what's the procedure?"

"You will just give her a little swipe with a silencer that I have for
you--handy little tool. You must give her a side swipe on the temple,
because, of course, you could not make any impression on that shock
absorber on top.

"And you want to be ready to catch her when she keels over, so she won't
make a thud on the floor that will bring somebody. That's all. You just
take the marbles and walk out--see? Nothing to it?"

Heberdon's jingle was at its height. Little hot eddies were whirling
through his brain. The room swam in a golden mist. There was a certain
deferential note in Alcorne's voice that Heberdon's voracious vanity
simply gobbled up. Alcorne suggested that there was nobody so well fitted
as Heberdon to pull off a job like this--of course there wasn't! Nobody
so cool, so nervy, so resourceful as he I He'd show them all; they'd have
to hand it to him! Fifty thousand--But amidst this jingling welter one
canny question made itself heard.

"How do we split?" asked Heberdon.

"Fifty-fifty, I suppose," said Alcorne carelessly.

"Not on your life? I take the risk. Seventy-five, twenty-five."

"Ah, don't be a Jew, Frank!"

"Seventy-five, twenty-five, or I quit right here!"

"Oh, all right," said Alcorne. "There my hand on it."

They shook.

"You'd better spend the night with me," suggested Alcorne carelessly.
"You can have my bed, and I'll take the couch. You'll feel rotten in the
morning, but I'll soon fix you up. Then we can rehearse the act."

Heberdon assented, scarcely hearing. His brain was on fire, and the
figures thirty-seven thousand five hundred were dancing in the flames.

"What a picayune I was with my measly seven thou," he thought. "This is
something like! Won't I make it fly, though! This is only a beginning.
I'll make the whole world sit up and take notice before I'm through."

But his arms and legs were twitching; he was mad to go somewhere and do
something, he knew not what.

"Come on, let's go!" he said, jumping up.

"All right, let's go back to Blaney's, rejoined Alcorne. Some amusing
guys there you ought to knows I got one or two other places I'd like to
show you, too."

Heberdon awoke at dawn. His surroundings were strange to him and for a
moment he could not figure out where he was. He was afraid to find out,
and he closed his eyes again. He had a vile taste in his mouth and a,
bursting head. Worse still, the woe of all the ages was lying on his
breast; immeasurable, inexplicable woe that he was powerless to struggle
against. He could not face such a world. Tears of self-pity forced
themselves from under his lids.

But merely closing his eyes did not serve to shut out that crushing sense
of woe; he felt he should fall to screaming if he did not do something.
He rose up in bed and looked around him. Across the faded bedroom in the
cold light he saw Alcorne lying on his back on a couch, his mouth open,
hideously like a dead man. Recollection returned with a rush, and with it
the explanation of his woe; Cora, cocaine, the gambling-house, the plot
to bludgeon an old woman.

Heberdon's hair fairly stood on end--not with penitence, but with terror.
Looking at Alcorne, he thought:

"He doped me; he robbed me, perhaps; he doped me again! He worked me the
way he wanted. I promised to do a job for him. I agreed to everything he
said. He brought me here so that he'd' have me right in the morning. My
God! in a little bit I'd be the man's slave for life!"

Heberdon's fears were greater than his weakness. Notwithstanding the
trembling of his limbs, he dressed himself swiftly and silently, and
contrived to let himself out of the room without awakening the sleeper.
He ran most of the way home through the empty streets, and gaining his
own rooms, flung himself on his bed in a passion of relief.

"Never again! Never again!" he swore. "So help me God, never again!"


After spending over an hour in a barber's chair having his face steamed
and massaged in an endeavour to remove the traces of that awful night,
Heberdon took train up to Marchmont as to a refuge. Wild horses could not
have kept him from Marchmont that day.

How reassuring was the sight of the Pallisers' big, old Mackinaw car at
the station, with its correct, but not too correct, chauffeur, and Ida,
cool and supercilious, in her corner of the rear seat. He never so nearly
loved her as at that moment. The spreading, homely country house further
comforted him; how good to feel that he belonged there; that he was one
of such an eminently secure and domesticated herd! Surely, while he kept
a tight grip on them he could never descend into the maelstrom!

Luncheon brought the usual family house-party around the table; Judge
Palliser, rather less hearty and whole-souled in the family circle than
in public; his amiable wife, who rarely took her eyes from the sun of her
lord's countenance; Ida; Amy Steele, a smart young married sister; Dean
Heberdon and his wife, inveterate country home visitors; Cyrus Jr., the
young hopeful; and Aunt Maria Heberdon, who sulked because Frank had
brought her no present, and all but threatened to see her lawyer.

By this time the rejuvenating effects of the massage treatment had pretty
well worn off, and Mrs. Palliser, who had a genius for putting her foot
in it, remarked on Heberdon's used-up appearance.

"My dear, I'm afraid you're working too hard," said she.

All looked at Heberdon, who silently cursed the woman. The opportunity
was too good to be lost on Judge Palliser, who remarked with the heavy
sarcasm of the bench:

"Frank will certainly kill himself with overwork if he doesn't let up.
I'm always telling him so."

Mrs. Palliser missed the sarcasm--she always did! "Tsch! Tsch! Tsch!"
she said solicitously. "Couldn't you come up here for a few days and
rest, Frank?"

"We couldn't possibly spare him, my dear," said Judge Palliser, winking
at the others to make sure that the point got over.

"Silly old fool!" thought Frank. Out of the tail of his eye he observed
uncomfortably that Ida's pinched nose was registering a determination to
inquire into this question of overwork when she got him alone.

Dean Heberdon was the sort of man who feels it his duty to wag his beard
at whatever subject comes up; he said oratorically: "Overwork is the
curse of the age. It is only within the walls of one of our older
institutions of learning that any leisure and serenity is to be found
nowadays. At Kingston--"

He was prepared to deliver a whole lecture on the subject, but Amy Steele
cut in: "That's exactly what I tell Herbert. I hate to see Herbert
overwork. Over and over I have offered to get along with three inside
servants, and give up the second car, but he won't hear of it. Of course,
the Damrells have just set up their third car, but what is that to us? Or
we might rent the house and come in to a good hotel to live. Yon can get
the sweetest apartments for only six hundred a month, and it would be so
much easier on dear Herbert."

"Poor Herbert!" murmured Mrs. Palliser abstractedly.

Cyrus Jr. sniggered.

"I don't see why you say that, mamma," said her daughter aggrievedly.

"Of course not; of course not!" said the elder lady hurriedly. "I wasn't

"In my day," put in Grand-Aunt Maria quaveringly, "a whole family could
live on six hundred a year." As no one paid the least attention to her,
she repeated the statement as loud as possible, whereupon they all turned
hurriedly with a "Yes, yes, of course, Aunt Maria."

Heberdon, seeing the conversation pass safely away from him, breathed
more freely and applied himself to chicken timbales with a still air. But
Judge Palliser brutally brought it back again.

"Were you working at the office yesterday, Frank?"

"No, sir; I was busy on that old case of mine."

"H-m!" said his uncle dryly. "It certainly takes a lot of your time. I
hope it pans out well. By the way, what is the nature of the case?"

"Just at present I am not permitted to say," answered Heberdon with a
heavy air of professional discretion. Cyrus Jr. spoke up unexpectedly.
Cyrus was a prep. school youth, finished beyond his years, and generally
bored and contemptuous in the family circle. Said he:

"I saw Frank at Blaney's last night."

An inward tremor shook Heberdon, but he managed to keep his face. It was
not likely that any one else at the table knew anything about Blaney's,
and indeed they showed in their faces that they thought it better not to
inquire. All except Mrs. Palliser; one could depend on her never to let
sleeping dogs lie.

"What's Blaney's?" she asked innocently.

There was nothing that relieved the tedium of life for her youngest child
like an opportunity to shock his family.

"A low dive on Fortieth Street," he said coolly.

"Good Heavens, Cyrus, what were you doing in such a place?"

"Chap took me there after the theatre just to see it. It's the latest
place to go. You see all kinds there; evening dress and hand-me-downs.
There's a big organ in back. There are slots in the wall all around, and
every time anybody drops a nickel she starts to play. If two drop at the
same time, why, the house wins. But ask Frank; he knows."

Mrs. Palliser turned a distressed face toward Heberdon; all the others
looked down their noses except Aunt Maria, who did not understand what
was going on. "Frank, is it true what he says, or is he just joking?"

Heberdon had to make a swift decision. He greatly desired to lie, but
foresaw that it would deliver him helpless into the hands of young Cyrus,
who had the look of a potential blackmailer. So he chose the truth--that
is to say, part of the truth.

"It's true I dropped into a saloon called Blaney's last night," he said
indifferently. "But I know nothing of the place. I went there to find a

"Dick Alcorne," put in the incorrigible Cyrus: "The fellow I was with
says he's the worst man in New York; high-class crook, gambler, and
dope-fiend. He's one of sights of Blaney's. Seemed to be quite a pal of
old Frank's."

Heberdon was panic-stricken inside; fortunate for him his face was
naturally colourless and wooden.

"I know nothing about that," he said, carefully schooling his voice. "I
merely want to get him to testify for my client."

"Well, that will be enough about Blaney's," announced the head of the
family peremptorily.

Heberdon was safe for the present, but his heart misgave him at the
thought of the cross-examination he would presently have to undergo at
the hands of Ida. There was a look of sweet unconsciousness in her eyes
that always portended trouble.

Heberdon's chastened state of mind lasted until Monday. Monday afternoon
he began to get feverish again. This was his regular evening to spend
with Cora, and as the time drew near he felt a pull from the direction of
Greenhill Gardens as of a gigantic magnet. He simply could not face the
thought of spending the evening in his own company. A yearning emptiness
filled him that was worse than hunger. Of course he gave in to it, but
true to his nature, deceived himself while he did so.

"If I stay away from there she'll think she has me going," he thought. "I
can't let her think she can get under my skin. I've got to go out there
just to show her I don't give a continental."

Meanwhile all day Monday he had been feeling keenly the pinch of his
impecuniosity. It is astonishing how quickly one can become a slave to
luxurious habits The fifty dollars he had from Alcorne lasted him no
time. He desired to send the usual bushel of American Beauties out ahead
of him--not as a peace offering, you understand, but just to show how
great-minded he could be in the face of injustice; but when he tried to
get credit the florist demurred with deference and firmness. Perhaps the
very extravagance of Heberdon's order had alarmed him. At any rate, the
pseudo Mr. Strathearn marched out of the place in a rage, and the roses
were not sent.

Heberdon had to dine at the club, a sad come-down from the
Madagascar--and worse, when it came time to start for Greenhill Gardens,
instead of lolling luxuriously in a taxi with the top down, he had to
ride bolt upright in one of the plebeian trolley-cars that he detested.
Like an insistent bell in his brain rang the thought: "I must have money!
I must have money!" From this it was but a short step to: "I don't
care how I get it!"

As he approached 23 Deepdene Road it gave him a nasty turn to find
Alcorne's rakish raceabout standing out in front. He walked on in a
horrible state of indecision; what was he to do? Return to town and bite
his fingers in solitude all evening? But how could he face the man?

It was not that he was in physical fear of Alcorne; he could have
crumpled him up, and both knew it. But Heberdon's soul was horribly
attracted and repelled by the other; he was afraid of him in another way.
On the other hand, how could he leave him there to have his own way with
the household, to poison their minds against him--Heberdon? He had to be
there to keep his own end up. Anyhow, better to meet him for the first
time in the presence of others; there could be no explanations then.

He forced himself to return to No. 23. John Blighton opened the door to
him. His greeting was bluff and hearty, and Heberdon was partly
reassured. Neither Cora nor Alcorne could have told him anything yet.

"Just the man I want to see!" said Blighton. "You and me's got to have a
little business talk before you go home."

The sound of Alcorne's jerky, cracked laugh came down the stairs, putting
Heberdon's teeth on edge.

"Dick's upstairs," went on Blighton. "He's in better shape to-night.
Grace is here, too. Go right up." The old man followed Heberdon.

Cora betrayed no self-consciousness at the sight of him, but welcomed him
as unaffectedly as a child. She was glad to see him, and made no scruple
of showing it. This did not please the queasy Heberdon, who would sooner
have seen her mount her high horse a little.

"Confound the girl!" he thought crossly. "She takes my coming as a sign
that I've knuckled down to her. I'll have to show her. How unfeminine!
There's no reticence about her, no allure!"

Just the same, his eyes were devouring her--the exquisite grace of her
slender white arms, the inimitable carriage of her dark head. He could
not drag his gaze away.

Alcorne's greeting was quite unabashed. "Hullo, here's Strathearn! Good
old Strathearn! Gave me the slip nicely, didn't you, Sunday morning?"

Heberdon, inwardly cursing him, exhibited as good an imitation of good
nature as he was able.

"Sunday morning?" repeated Cora, with raised brows.

"Sure; Frank and I made a night of it," explained Alcorne maliciously.
"Some night, eh, Frankie?" This with a leer that caused Heberdon to grind
his teeth while he smiled. "Frank tried to break the bank at Standish's,
but it broke him first."

Cora cast down her eyes and said no more. Old John took notice of the
remark, but he said nothing either. Their silence was harder for Heberdon
to bear than anything they could have said.

"What right have they to judge me?" he thought hotly. "It was my own
money, I guess."

To Heberdon's relief it presently appeared that Alcorne was returning to
town. He offered to carry Miss Starbird with him.

"Thanks," said that lady dryly, "but I've got to see Jack."

"How about you, Frank?" asked Alcorne.

"Oh, I've just come."

"I'll wait for you."

Blighton came to Heberdon's assistance. "Roll along, Dick," he said in
his bluff way. "Frank and I have got to talk a little business."

A sneer made Alcorne's face even uglier than its wont. "Oh, I see!" he
said. "Why don't you say at once that I'm not wanted. Go ahead and talk
your business. I've got business of my own. I'm off. I'll let myself

He slammed the front door ill-temperedly behind him, and in a moment they
heard his engine start with wide-open exhaust.

Blighton, shrugged.

"So you went out with him Saturday night," he said to Heberdon with
embarrassing directness. "Not that it's any of my business, but I take an
interest in you, Frank. I know him better than you do, maybe. Dick
Alcorne's a bad egg, not to say plumb rotten. And at that I ain't got too
sensitive a nose. Ten years ago I didn't know a brighter or a nervier
lad. I had great hopes of Dick. But the drug got him. It's not only
spoiled his nerve, but it's poisoned his whole nature. Why, he had the
gall to put up the job of blackjacking an old woman for her trumpery
necklace to me!"

Heberdon had the sensation of blushing. Fortunately for him, his
countenance did not easily betray changes of colour.

"I told him a thing or two," Blighton went on. "In fact, I gave him the
worst call I ever gave a man. Never reached him! The worst of that stuff
is that the lower it drags its victims down, the higher it sets them up
in their own opinion. I'd kick him out altogether if it wasn't for old
times. In a way he's a sick man; we have to bear with him some."

Heberdon did not take this friendly admonition in very good part. "You
don't think because I went out with him once that I'm going to fall for
him altogether, do you?" he asked stiffly.

"No, no," said the old man. "You've got a good strong head of your own, I
take it. But a word to the wise, you know."

Cora added softy: "He hates you, Frank, because you've kept your health
and your nerve. He'd like to drag you down to his own level."

Heberdon laughed in an annoyed way.

"I wasn't born yesterday," he said. "I've cut my eye-teeth."

The subject was dropped.

"Draw up your chair and light up, Frank," invited Blighton. Damn good
cigars you smoke, boy. I respect them, though I find a cheaper article
better suited to my plebeian taste. Take off your coat and make yourself

"Jack!" said Cora reprovingly.

"There's nothing proud about me," went on the old man, peeling off his
coat. "He can do as he likes." Heberdon kept his own on.

They sat in a circle of easy chairs around the little table with a shaded
light. Old Jack had some difficulty in getting his cigar to draw to suit
him, and Miss Starbird betrayed impatience.

"For Heaven's sake, take another, and shoot!" she cried.

"Easy, my girl, I'm no Croesus," he drawled.

Heberdon, too, felt an excitement mounting slowly in his breast. For the
moment he ceased looking at Cora, who sat farthest back from the light.
"Whatever it is, I hope it's big and quick," he thought. "I'm ready for
it. I need the money."

The old man began at last.

"There's been a plan stewing in my head this good while past, and I'm
ready now to take off the lid and have a look at the decoction. First
off, I intended to pull this myself, but I haven't got the right
appearance for a sunlight job. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's
ear. Then, too, it needs brisk work, and in itself the sight of a brisk
old man is suspicious. I thought of Crommelin--ah, there's cool hand for
you! Crommelin's nerve is like fine tempered steel.

"But he don't look quite right either. His hands would give him away. And
men don't wear gloves in the summer-time nowadays, except a few dudes.
But as soon as I laid eyes on Frank I says, There's my man! Frank has
style, the real thing that cannot be imitated. Who would ever suspect
Frank of any slick work, to look at him?"

Miss Starbird broke in impatiently again: "You're telling your story
wrong end first, Jack! What's the job? I am dying with curiosity. And
where do I come in?"

"Just like a woman!" said Jack ruefully. "Won't let me lay out my scheme
systematically! Well, who does the biggest cash business in the city of
New York?"

"Oh, if you're going to talk in riddles now!" she exclaimed.

"The Hippodrome," ventured Cora.

"Not by a jugful!"

"One of the big department stores," put in Heberdon. "Wrong again. Their
sales are largely on credit. How about the Union Central Terminal?"

Heberdon whistled noiselessly. "Never thought of that!"

"Well, I'll tell you on ordinary days the ticket-offices take in about
fifty thousand in the twenty-four hours, practically all in cash. And on
Friday afternoon and Saturday mornings in summer, what with people going
away on their vacations, the takings are as high as seventy thousand."

Heberdon's eyes brightened. "That's worth going after," he observed.

"Quite! Quite!" said the old man dryly. "You know the brigade of
ticket-offices," he went on. "Well, down at the end of the row, hidden
from the public, is the head ticket-seller's place. Once a day the money
is collected here, packed in a valise, and carried to the bank. The head
ticket-seller carries it himself with a single guard. They're as regular
as the depot clock; 9.45 and 2.45 on Mondays; 2.45 on Tuesdays,
Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; and 12.45 on Saturdays.

"These two men come out of an inconspicuous little side door on the arcade
where the shops are, and make their way up the ramp to the front of the
depot at the Vandermeer Avenue corner, where a special taxi is waiting
for them. The station is always crowded when they go, but on Saturday it
is packed with the crowds for the half-holiday specials. Another reason
for choosing Saturday, let alone the amount being bigger that day."

"Good!" said Heberdon. "Leave it to me to dope out a scheme to get that

"A scheme is already doped out, such as it is," went on the old man in
his dry way. "Let me open it to you, and if you can improve it, so much
the better."

In a few words he revealed a plan that caused the other three to laugh
outright in admiration. Like all of Jack's work, it showed humour. Even
the conceited Heberdon was impressed. He had no amendments to offer. The
thing was brilliant in its simplicity. They could not see how it might

Only Cora looked aggrieved. "The woman's part ought to be mine," she said
without any bitterness toward Grace Starbird. "It's my kind of a part. I
leave it to Grace if it isn't."

"You little cat!" rejoined the older woman good-naturedly. "Do you mean
to insinuate that I am getting old and losing my nerve?"

"Not at all!" said Cora. "You've got plenty of nerve. You've got too much
for this part. You love to act; you know you do. You can't help throwing
yourself on it. You'd overdo it. But I'd be scared half to death. I'd
look scared. That is just what is wanted here. Give me a chance to show
what I can do, Grace. There are so many, many things you can do better
than I."

"It's up to Jack," said Grace. "I don't want to deprive the young of any

Blighton scowled at the thought of his darling risking herself. "She's
too young," he muttered.

Cora faced him with spirit. "You've been saying that long enough, Jack!
When shall I be old enough, I'd like to know? I've told you often enough
that I will not go on living here in luxury that is supplied at the risk
of others. I've got to be allowed to do my part and take my chance, or
I'll go off on my own, I swear I will!"

Grace Starbird supported the girl, and in the end Blighton gave a
reluctant consent.

Heberdon took Cora's outburst to himself, and was much elated thereby.
"She's crazy about me!" he told himself. "She couldn't contain her
jealousy at the thought of the other woman doing a job with me. I'll get
her on my own terms yet."

"How will we split?" Heberdon asked Blighton.

Blighton was not Alcorne. "You have the big end of it," he said promptly,
"you take half. Cora will take thirty per cent., and I, who am just a
super, will take twenty."

"But the whole plan is yours," objected the girl. "You are the commander."

After an amicable wrangle, father and daughter agreed to divide their
half equally. Heberdon did not offer to give up any of his share.


The following Saturday was fixed upon for the attempt on the Union
Central Terminal's cash, and during the intervening days Heberdon once
more had an absorbing preoccupation. He contrived to be at the station
each day when the cash was carried to the bank, and narrowly studied the
appearance and the movements of the two men. Wednesday and Friday
evenings he spent out at 23 Deepdene Road, planning and rehearsing every
move with Blighton and Cora. During these evenings he had no opportunity
to see Cora alone, but he was content to let that go for the present.

"This affair will make a bond between us," he told himself. "After we've
pulled it off together she'll never be able to resist me."

By Saturday morning all was ready. Heberdon had not to go to the office
this day, so his time was all his own. He had promised Ida to be out on
the 12.40 train. To be sure, zero hour for their attack was not until
12.45, but Heberdon had discovered, upon studying the timetable, that
there was an express at 12.51 which overtook the 12.40 at Rochdale. He
could change cars there, and if the question were raised it would appear
as if he had left town five minutes before the robbery.

His disguise was simple; no more than a cap to pull low over his head, a
pair of heavy-rimmed glasses, and a glossy little moustache. He was not
relying on disguise this time, his aim being merely to render himself
inconspicuous. He dressed with care to that end; a suit of indeterminate
colour, neither well nor ill made; a plain shirt and tie, a collar such
as four men out of five wear.

At noon he met Blighton and Cora by appointment at a restaurant not far
from the terminal. He opened his eyes at the sight of Cora. With
materials even simpler than his own she had completely metamorphosed her
appearance. With a plain straight dress that made her look flat-chested,
demure white collars and cuffs, her hair rolled over her ears, and a
schoolgirl's hat, she seemed not a day over sixteen. Her look of
wide-eyed innocence was a triumph of art. Blighton was made up and
dressed as a prosperous business man. He carried a bag of golf-sticks.
Cora had seen to the details of his attire.

They scarcely touched the lunch that Blighton ordered. All were too
excited to eat--even the grim and experienced old-timer, though it must
be said that his perturbation was chiefly on Cora's account. It took the
form principally of begging her to eat.

"I can't," she said, smiling to reassure him. "I've got the travel

"If you don't feel just right--" said the old man heavily.

"Nonsense, Jack! I never felt better. If you don't stop fussing over me,
I'll have to operate on my own hereafter."

The old man cheered up somewhat.

As for Heberdon, he was occupied in concealing from the others that he
was in a blue funk himself.

There was little for him and Blighton to say to each other, every
possible contingency having already been discussed. Sometimes they went
over it just for the sake of talking.

"If everything goes as usual the two guys will be out on the street at
12.46," said Blighton. "That gives you just five minutes to turn the
trick and get your train. It ought to be enough. But if anything holds
you up and you miss that train, there's another at 1.02. Only, you
shouldn't hang around the station. Take the Elevated uptown, and board it
in Harlem."

Separating at the door of the restaurant, they made their way separately
to the station. Blighton now carried Heberdon's suitcase packed for the
week-end, while Heberdon had a special bag supplied by Blighton. It was

At the station the Saturday afternoon rush was in full sweep. Converging
from every direction, the currents of intending travellers joined at the
entrances and flowed down the ramps like humanity in the liquid. There
was a swing to the gait of most individuals and a shine in their eyes,
for all had put office work behind them for a blessed forty-four hours,
and a goodly proportion were liberated for a whole delectable fortnight.
The roadways were jammed with taxis, and trolley-cars could move only at
a snail's pace. The shops in the station building facing on the street
were overflowing with those making last purchases.

Heberdon's allotted station was in front of the drugstore between the
middle entrance to the station and the mouth at the Vandermeer Avenue
corner. About fifty feet from him he had presently the satisfaction of
seeing Cora take up her place just inside the corner entrance as if
waiting for some one.

Many a sympathetic glance was cast on this picture of innocent maidenhood
from the crowd hurrying by. The cab that was waiting for the two men with
the money was in its place before her, and a second cab, which had been
provided by John Blighton, and had a friend of his at the wheel, drew up
at the kerb a short distance behind the first.

This was to provide Cora's means of escape. Blighton's own stand was
beside the information desk in the waiting-room. Thus the stage was set
for the big scene. Heberdon could not see the big station clock without
stepping out into the street, but there was a clock in the drug-store on
which he kept his eye.

The brief period that followed put a strain on the waiting actor's
nerves. As always at such moments, Heberdon suffered an agony of
stage-fright, an inexplicable anguish that gripped him without warning,
and almost brought his heart to a standstill.

"What am I doing?" an inner voice seemed to cry. "This is madness! Run!

But, of course he did not listen to it; men, unfortunately, make a merit
of deafening themselves to the still small voices. Long preparation and
rehearsal had built up an imaginary structure that overawed him. Besides,
there was Cora within view. He stuck it out with the sweat running down
his face.

And then suddenly he saw Cora cross the sidewalk swiftly. This was the
signal that the men were coming. For the fraction of a second he stared
at her stupidly, wondering what it had to do with him, then the reaction
took place. His agony rolled away, giving place to a kind of insane
exhilaration. After that Heberdon, no longer a thinking being, was pure
action, swift as a released spring, swift as a jungle cat.

The two men he was waiting for appeared at the corner entrance. The
principal of the two was a short, stout fellow with a self-important air.
He wore a brown suit with the coat flying open over his solid stomach,
and a straw hat placed just so on his head. He carried a black valise
just like an ordinary traveller's, but the strain on his body betrayed
its unusual weight.

"I'll jolt that complacent air out of you directly," thought Heberdon.

The second man was a strong, dull-looking young fellow in an ill-fitting
new suit. "Bodyguard" was written all over him.

Their emergence upon the sidewalk was Cora's cue. A piercing shriek arose
high above the noise of traffic. All those hundreds of hurrying people
stopped in their tracks and turned startled faces. They saw a charming
girlish figure starting to cross the street, stagger and sink to the
pavement. So many rushed to her aid that she was threatened with
suffocation by her would-be helpers. In ten seconds there was a dense,
swaying mob immediately in front of the taxicab that was waiting for the
men with the money.

These two, startled by the outcry and conscious of their responsibility,
instinctively made for the shelter of their cab. It was a matter of some
difficulty for them to push their way through the running crowd on the

The strong man shouldered the runners roughly out of the way. The two
gained their cab and, clambering in, pulled the door to after them.
Heberdon, who was close by, heard the fat little man agitatedly cry to
his chauffeur to go on, but to do this, with all those hundreds under his
front wheels, was manifestly impossible.

Heberdon marked that the fat man was sitting on the side of the cab
farthest from the kerb with the satchel on his knees. The windows of the
cab were open, of course.

In such confusion, with everybody running and straining to see into the
centre of the crowd, there was little danger of Heberdon's activities
attracting attention. They were not conspicuous activities. Making
believe to run and to look with the rest, he took care to stick close to
the taxicab, and to allow no one to come between him and his quarry. As
the moment for action drew near he was at the rear, off-sidewalk wheel of
the taxi, where the occupants could not see him, of course.

Meanwhile, Cora was playing her part with spirit! Her first loud cries
had given place to a pitiful weeping. The crowd about her was convulsed
with sympathy. Heberdon heard voices asking: "What's the matter, miss?
What's the matter?" Others replied for her: "She's sick. Call an
ambulance." Cora herself spoke up: "No; a taxi, a taxi!"

Many turned to the driver behind them, but he shook his head and
indicated his passengers within. Angry voices demanded that they vacate
for the sick lady, but they sat tight, looking anxious.

By this time the driver of the second cab, Blighton's man, made his
presence known. Steering out into the street, he passed the first cab. A
score of voices held him up just beyond. The decisive moment was now at
hand. Heberdon already had his big satchel unlocked and was holding it
shut with a forefinger.

They bundled Cora into the taxicab, everybody running around like insects
trying to get a look. A man followed her, which made Heberdon momentarily
anxious, but things happened so quickly he had no time to think about it.
The slam of the door upon them was Heberdon's next cue.

Without showing himself at the window of the other cab, he thrust an arm
inside and, seizing the handle of the satchel, jerked it out and dropped
it in his own larger satchel, all in one movement.

The man inside in a dazed and feeble voice cried out: "I'm robbed!" Then
getting some breath into his lungs he roared it out lustily.

Instantly the crowd faced about, all agape for a fresh sensation.
Meanwhile the cab with Cora inside moved off down the street at a good
rate. The people came crowding around the door of the other cab; Heberdon
crowded with them. There could have been no safer place for him. To have
made a break to get away at that moment would have been fatal.

The fat man stuck his head out of the window, crying: "It's a frame-up
Stop that taxi!"

Some of the bystanders started to run down the street in a futile
fashion, but the stoppage of traffic had created a, free space and the
escaping cab was already at Madison Avenue. The bodyguard, losing his
head, cried to the chauffeur of the standing car:

"Go after her! Go after her!"

The chauffeur made as if to obey, but the fat man screamed:--

"Stop! She hasn't got the money! My black bag! Look for that!"

The two of them tumbled out. The bodyguard blew a police whistle, and
blindly shouldered this way and that in the crowd, looking for the black
bag which was that moment safely reposing inside Heberdon's larger
pigskin one.

Several policemen ran up and were apprised of what had happened.
Meanwhile, Heberdon was gaping like all the others. He allowed any one
who would to push in front of him, and he was therefore gradually crowded
back to the outside of the circle without making any effort of his own.
He could now see the big blue clock over the station. The hands pointed
to 12.49. All this had therefore taken place in three minutes, and
Heberdon had still two minutes in which to catch his train.

A newcomer next to him said: "What's the matter, fellow?"

Heberdon replied in the parlance of the streets: "Search me! Guy there
says he's robbed. Gee! I can't wait! I got a train to catch."

"Same here," responded the other.

Together they made their way around the edge of the crowd, and, entering
the station, sped down the ramp. Many others were running; they excited
no attention. Heberdon's one thought was not to betray in his carriage
how heavy the bag was. He lost his companion in the concourse. Cutting
diagonally across the vast hall, Heberdon made believe suddenly to
discover a friend in a gray-haired man standing beside the information
desk. He stopped short with a look of glad surprise, and, dropping his
bag, grasped the hand of the other man, whose bag was likewise at his

"Thompson! Of all men! Where are you bound for the week-end?"


"Sorry you're not going my way. I'm for Rochedale. I got to run for it.
See you Monday."


Heberdon ran on. All this had been carefully rehearsed. Of course nobody
noticed that he picked up the gray-haired man's suit-case and left the
pigskin bag. Heberdon got through the gates for the 12.51 just as they
were closing. Passing down the train platform he removed the heavy-rimmed
glasses and put them in his pocket. In the vestibule of the car he passed
a hand over his face and the glossy little moustache came away with it.

But the train did not immediately start, and Heberdon, glancing out of
the window, experienced a shiver of apprehension upon beholding a brief
colloquy between the conductor and a hard-faced man on the platform.

"One of those railroad bulls!" thought Heberdon.

The hard-faced one got on the train and it started. In the yard Heberdon
unobtrusively dropped the false moustache and the heavy-rimmed glasses
out of the window.

The first stop for this train was Rochedale, thirty-five minutes out. In
the course of the run the hard-faced man entered the car accompanied by
the conductor, and once more Heberdon felt an uncomfortable tickling
sensation up and down his spine. But he soon perceived the object of the
car-to-car search, and breathed freely again. It was the hand-baggage the
detective was looking at. No bag in the car escaped his ferret-like gaze.
Some bags he tested by lifting, one or two, with apologies and a brief
display of his badge, he opened. Heberdon had nothing to fear. They
didn't even lift his suit-case.

At Rochedale he shifted to the local train. Shortly before arriving at
Marchmont he changed his cap for a straw hat from the suit-case. Ida was
waiting for him as usual in the big Mackinaw.

"Goodness, Frank I What have you got on?" she said with strong
disapproval. "What common looking clothes. They don't lock like you."

"My other business suits were at the tailors'," he said glibly. "I'll
change as soon as we get home. I have plenty in my bag."

"We'll have to wait for the next train," she said. "Cyrus telephoned he
was taking the 1.02. Boys are so inconsiderate. Anyway, I don't see why
he can't walk."

When young Cyrus arrived he was full of the tale of what had happened in
the station.

"Hell to pay!" he said blithely. "A guy stuck up the head-ticket seller
in broad daylight, and got away with the day's takings."

"What time was this?" asked Heberdon casually.

"Quarter to one."

"Must have been just after I left. Sorry I missed the excitement."


The late editions of the evening papers, which presumably carried the
first news of the robbery, were not taken in by the Pallisers; and
Heberdon was therefore obliged to possess his soul in patience until the
next morning. He passed a wretchedly excited and uneasy afternoon and
night. It was hard to be parted from the money just after he had snatched
it, and without even knowing the amount.

Thoughts of the loot and of Cora were all mixed up in his mind. He felt
an intolerable desire for both. Not that the money was not safe with
Blighton; even the suspicious Heberdon could not doubt old John's
squareness. But he felt the need of it like food. If it had only been in
the roomy with him he could have slept, he told himself.

As to Cora, the case was worse; that evening of evenings he ought to have
been with her. What a thrice-confounded fool he had been not to have
arranged it. Exalted by the danger and the success of their common
undertaking, she could not have resisted him.

And now what was she doing? Celebrating their success without him, no
doubt. Heberdon ground his teeth at the thought. How did he know what
other man might be hanging around.

Meanwhile, he was obliged to make love to Ida all evening, or at least to
pay her the proper attentions. Ida, fortunately, did not exact much
ardour. Ida was perfectly well-meaning and harmless, but how his
stretched and quivering nerves hated her! There were moments when his
voice fairly trembled with rage as he made the obvious, fatuous answers
that her conversation required. He would smile at her in a glassy fashion
and think:

"Some day I'll get square with you, my lady! I'll find ways to put you on
the grill, and make you smile while you scorch!"

Meanwhile Ida, all unconscious, prattled on about the sweet refectory
table that she had found for the dining-room. It was three hundred years
old, and showed every year of it.

Heberdon had got up early Sunday morning and, with burning eyes, read the
papers before the family came down. For once his gluttonous vanity was
satiated--or almost. The fly in his amber was still the fact that nobody
knew or could know that the hero of the day's news was he--Frank

"The most daring robbery that had ever taken place in the city of New
York," the newspapers said. They spoke of it in the hushed tones that
they save for the very greatest happenings. "A modern highwayman that put
the great historical figures of Dick Turpin and Jack Sheppard to shame."

What more could Heberdon ask?

Indeed, the affair had created so profound a stir, the papers expressed
so strong a sense of courage, that Heberdon became a little anxious as he
read on. All the resources of the city, State, and even the Federal
government were to be devoted to running down the criminals, it was said;
the most famous private detective in the country had been engaged.
Arrests were promised within twenty-four hours, as usual.

Re-reading the story, Heberdon was reassured. They really had nothing to
go on, and all the detectives in the world couldn't help them. The man
who had been robbed could furnish no description of the thief. A hand had
appeared from nowhere and had snatched his satchel into nowhere.

The amount obtained was sixty-six thousand dollars. Heberdon's mouth
watered. They were combing the city for the girl in the case, but there
was nothing in this part of the story to give Heberdon any uneasiness.
They were looking for a girl of sixteen or seventeen. It had been
discovered that the licence plate on the car in which she escaped was a
spurious one. The doctor who had accompanied her from the scene came in
for a certain amount of suspicion at first, but that very much chagrined
young man finally succeeded in establishing his innocence.

Naturally the overwhelming sensation in the morning's news furnished the
main topic of conversation at the Palliser breakfast table. All sorts of
far-fetched theories were put forward. It was very difficult for Heberdon
to restrain himself from putting them right.

In the course of the talk Mrs. Palliser remarked, with a sad shake of the
head: "And they said the girl was no more than sixteen years old! How

"Oh, they ripen early nowadays!" remarked Cyrus cheekily.

"So we see!" said Judge Palliser grimly.

The point was lost on Cyrus.

Dean Heberdon proposed to explain the case according to the Freudian
hypothesis. "Crime is the natural and inevitable corollary of modern
industrialism," he began oratorically.

"What's a corollary?" interrupted Mrs. Palliser timidly. "Sounds like
something in botany."

Nobody paid any attention to her.

Dean Heberdon rolled on: "The tedium of mechanical operations suppresses
the need of variety and excitement that is a vital part of human nature.
Put a man at feeding a machine for ten hours a day, and you'll turn out a

"I thought, in my old-fashioned way, that crimes were commuted by those
who wouldn't work," put in Judge Palliser.

"There are millions of working men," objected Ida, "and only a few
criminals, I hope."

"Every working man is a potential criminal," said the professor

Heberdon was very uneasy under all this. Finally, he could stand it no
longer. "This was no working man's job," he burst out. "No working man
would be capable of it."

"Oh, Frank," said Mrs. Palliser reproachfully, "you don't mean to say
that a gentleman could do such a thing?"

Cyrus Jr., answered for him. "Why not?" he wanted to know. "It showed
nerve and finish, didn't it? Aren't those gentlemanly qualities?"

"Be quiet, Cyrus," said Ida loftily. "You are not as funny as you think
you are."

Cyrus forgot his man-of-the-world air and stuck out his tongue at her.

Grand-Aunt Maria Heberdon piped up: "The cook steals the sugar. Every
Thursday when she goes home for her afternoon off, she carries a basket.
I watch her."

Mrs. Palliser passed over the marmalade to side-track her.

Somebody else said: "The police always make out that such a crime was the
result of a deep-laid plot. But I think the thief just happened by in the
midst of the excitement, and saw his chance, and took it."

This annoyed Heberdon afresh. "How did he make away with the valise if he
hadn't planned it all out beforehand?" he demanded. "Things don't come
out just pat the way you want them to."

"You all talk as if it were the work of one man," put in a
brother-in-law. "Whereas there was probably a dozen concerned in it. That
crowd that pushed around the cab; the police should have roped in the lot
of them."

"I don't agree with you," said Heberdon stiffly. "All the most successful
affairs of this kind are carried out single-handed. The more there are in
it the greater chance of a slip-up."

"You seem to know," remarked Judge Palliser dryly.

It was just a lucky shot in the dark, of course, and quite in the judge's
usual vein, but Heberdon shivered internally and dried up. The discussion
raged on without him; after that, nothing could tempt him to open his

By the time Sunday evening came around, Heberdon's nerves were in bad
shape. The inconsequential family talk, which never varied, exasperated
him almost beyond bearing. He compared it in his mind with the talk of
the very different and vastly more amusing circle at No. 23 Deepdene
Road, where he longed to be. On Sundays all sorts of young men were free
of the house; there was always a picnic supper amidst hilarity.

How did he know what young man might be making love to Cora under cover
of all this? He writhed at the thought. He threshed his brains in vain
for an expedient whereby he might return to town. But the excuse of his
old case had been pretty well worked out, and he could hardly plead
business on Sunday. He had to stick it out.

Monday morning he took the earliest possible train. On his way to his
rooms to change, and leave his bag, he stopped in at the Madagascar on
the bare chance that a note from Cora might be awaiting him there.

A letter was handed him, but it was not from Cora. The handwriting was
strange to him--a shaky, almost illegible scrawl. Within he read:

"DEAR STRATHEARN,--Didn't have a chance the other night to put you on to
the ropes. Thought you might like a jingle now and then, so enclose the
joy stuff. It's carefully measured for a man of your size, so you needn't
be afraid of it.



"P.S.--When these are gone you can get all you want by presenting the
enclosed prescription at the address given."

A peculiar smile wreathed Heberdon's lips as he read this. "Clumsy work,"
he thought. "He must think I'm a gudgeon. This is funny."

His impulse was to tear the papers into bits and toss them into the
gutter, but, in the very act of doing so, a recollection of the thrilling
excitement in the gift of that pinch of white powder made him tingle all
over. He held his hand and began to find excuses for himself.

"I suppose the stuff is valuable. Why destroy it? That would be weak.
That would show that I distrusted myself. Anyhow, the professor said that
a certain amount of excitement was good for humans. Why shouldn't I take
one once in a long while, when I'm by myself, just for the thrill? I'd
never let it get a grip on me. I'm not a weak-minded fool like Alcorne."

The upshot was that he thrust the envelope with powders and prescriptions
into his pocket, and when he got to his rooms hid it between the pages of
a book.

From his own place he called up Cora. Once more the sound of her fresh,
boyish voice gave his heart a shrewd wrench.

"Is everything all right?" he asked breathlessly.

"Right as right can be? Where are you?"

"At the Madagascar."

"How are you?"

"All right, but longing for you."

Cora laughed deliciously. "That's only proper, You're coming out to
dinner, aren't you?"

"I hope so. But I can't wait all day. Won't you come in to town and lunch
with me?"

"Surely. Where?"

Heberdon thought swiftly. "Let me see. Not any of the big places. I have
it--a little Italian place on MacDougall Street. Not much to look at, but
the food is A1."

"I love such places."

"Well, meet me at the Brevoort at one o'clock, and we'll taxi down. And,
Cora! Bring me something on account, will you? I'm stony."

She laughed again. "All right. Thank Heaven, the new spinach is in. It's
a bumper crop."

Heberdon hung up the receiver, with a beating heart. But love, or what
passed for love with him, only excited him, and did not soften his heart.
His head was scheming busily.

On his way down-town he stopped at a restaurant--a little parlour-floor
dining-room which advertised itself with a dazzling blue facade, and was
not perhaps of impeccable cleanliness. But a few choice spirits had
discovered that Mme. Corioli was an incomparable cook; there was a Tuscan
wine, too, that paid no licence fee. Madame, a handsome peasant of the
campagna, received Heberdon with an insinuating smile.

"Lunch for two at one o'clock." he said. "The best you can set out.
Er--how about a private room?"

Madame, a woman of perfect discretion, did not allow so much as an eyelid
to flicker.

"Certainly," she said calmly, "the little room at the head of the stairs."

Heberdon gave an annoyed attention to the tiresome details that presented
themselves to him at the office, and only began to live again on his way
to the Brevoort. Cora, in an artfully plain blue suit and an abandoned
little hat, was prompt to the hour. Heberdon could never decide whether
she were more alluring in the severe garments she affected by day--always
excepting the cap sheaf, which was anything but severe--or in her
blossomy evening dresses.

It was only three minutes from the Brevoort to their destination. Cora's
eyebrows went up at the sight of the little room, but she said nothing
until madame had left them.

"Why the seclusion?" she asked.

"We must talk," said Heberdon glibly. "And the dining-room downstairs is
so small that every word can be overheard unless you whisper like

"Oh, if you only want to talk," rejoined Cora with meaning.

But she was ill at ease, and presently she returned to the subject.

"Please, Frank, don't force me to be on my guard against you," she said
with an appealing naivete. "If you knew how hard it was for people like
me to put a restraint upon themselves! And to-day, especially, I am on
wings; I want to soar!"

Heberdon leaned toward her across the table.

"Why don't you soar with me?" he asked a little thickly.

She leaned back and shrugged in an offended way.

He saw that he was likely to spoil his own game with too much
precipitancy. He must at least restrain himself until the waiters had
ceased passing in and out.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I'll try."

She brightened.

As the meal progressed she gradually forgot the necessity for curbing her
exuberance. She mounted like a lark.

"Oh, Frank, wasn't it exciting?" she cried. "At first I nearly died with
fright. While I was waiting inside the entrance, I mean. I almost failed
you then. It's a wonder I didn't really and truly collapse before I got
my cue. Weren't you a little bit scared?"

"Oh, no," answered Heberdon indifferently, "It's such an old story."

She made a face at him. "You're not human," she said. "Of course, when I
saw the chesty little guy come marching up the ramp as if he owned the
railroad, I was all right. The weight of the satchel he carried inspired
me. I forget myself. I forgot everything.

"What fun it is to act, anyway! When I screeched and fell down, and all
those men crowded around me with their scared and sympathetic faces, what
a sense of power I had! I believe I'll go on the stage and move thousands
to tears. I wanted to embroider my part. But I didn't exactly feel like
myself either. I felt loose from my body.

"When they bundled me into the cab I almost burst out laughing in their
faces, they were so funny and clumsy. 'Easy! Easy!' they said, as if
they were lowering a heavy bale of goods. One said: 'I'm a doctor. I'll go
with you.' This wasn't in my calculations, but seemed better to let him
come than to waste precious seconds trying to prevent him. So I let him.
I heard the yells behind when we started off, but he never got on to it.
We had a sweet heart-to-heart talk in the taxi--"

Heberdon scowled.

"Purely professional! Purely professional!" she cried gaily. "I told him
it was hysteria, and he patted my hand and gave me oceans of good advice.
I got better quickly, and dropped him at Fifty-Ninth Street in spite of
his protestations. How exquisitely foolish men are when they talk to
young girls; I mean that pretence of being fatherly, while their eyes
gobble you up. I had forgotten."

The lunch was very simple and very good. Whenever the waiter, a son of
madame's, came to the door, he knocked, and every time he knocked, Cora
chuckled. Upon pouring the coffee he put a little bell beside Heberdon's

"When the gentleman wants me he will please to ring," he said suavely.

This was to serve notice that he wouldn't be back. Heberdon lowered his
eyes to hide the glitter that sprang up in them. There was a key inside
the door. He longed to turn it and drop it in his pocket, but he did not
dare. He was more afraid of Cora than he would have admitted.

She rattled on in seeming unconsciousness:

"I had myself carried away uptown to the Hotel Tours. I checked my valise
there, and changed my appearance somewhat in the ladies' room. Then I got
an ordinary taxi and went to another hotel, and changed some more, and so
on, until I looked like my usual self again.

"Then I went home by train. All this time I was nearly beside myself with
anxiety, not knowing what had happened to you and Jack. Jack was home
before me. What a blessed relief it was to see his homely old phiz, and
to see by his grin that everything was all right with you, too."

"You thought of me?" murmured Heberdon, deepening his voice.

"Sure! No need to play the organ about it!" There was no stopping
Heberdon now.

"Cora, how beautiful you are!" he murmured.

Her face fell like a child's. "You're determined to spoil my fun! Why
will you be so theatrical?"

"If it's theatrical, I can't help it," he said. "You're in my blood like
a fever!"

She tried to hold him off with chaffing, "I don't want to be anybody's

"You lead me on," he said, "then try to push me off."

"Lead you on!" she cried indignantly. "Is the least bit of fun and
naturalness to be thrown up to me as a reproach? Do you want me to
pretend to be a half-witted ingenue, as other women do? What _do_ you

He had risen. "I want you!" he muttered. "All of you!"

She jumped up. "Keep away from me," she said warningly. "Will nothing
teach you?"

"Why do you still fight against me?" he pleaded. "After Saturday? Are we
not in all ways partners now? We were meant for each other. Come to me,

"Here?" she said, glancing around the ugly little room.

"What does the place matter? Don't fight me any more. Give me a pledge.
Your lips! You gave them once!"

She made no answer. She stood gazing at him with the sombre look that he
could not fathom. Having gone so far, there was nothing for him to do but
carry it through. He made a sudden move toward her; she darted around the

"Don't make a noise!" he cautioned in sudden alarm.

She saw her advantage. "I'll make as much noise as I can," she said. "You
tried to trap me here."

Heberdon's face turned ugly. "Make a noise then," he said. "You won't get
much sympathy in this house."

They continued to circle warily and slowly around the table. Cora pulled
a chair after her, in the way of a barricade. Their looks were dark upon
each other. Neither was aware, of course, of the exquisite absurdity of
the situation. When Cora had her back to the door Heberdon saw his

"Look out--the waiter!" he whispered sharply..

She turned her head. Heberdon bounded forward and, avoiding the chair,
seized her in his arms. They struggled in most unloverly fashion. Hate
was in their faces. Cora, in the plumage of a butterfly, was nevertheless
as strong as a deer. Leaning back from the waist and pressing against him
with her two hands she finally broke free. But she left him between her
and the door. She retreated to the other side of the little room.

"Let me be or I'll cry for help!" she panted.

Heberdon was beyond caring for that now. He sprang toward her again.
Swiftly as an animal she seized the back of the other chair, and with a
twist sent it sliding across the floor. Heberdon crashed over it, and for
an instant lay spread-eagled on the floor.

Before he could recover himself Cora was out of the door.

Following to the head of the stairs, he had the unspeakable mortification
of seeing the blue skirt flirt through the front door and of hearing it
slam behind her. The sound had the effect of an explosion in his brain,
blinding him with rage. Mme. Corioli came out into the lower hall with an
air of discreet inquiry. Seeing Heberdon's distorted face, she instantly
comprehended what had happened, and as quickly made believe to perceive

"Did you ring?" she asked blandly.

Heberdon's one conscious thought was to conceal his humiliation. He shook
his head and went back into the little room. When Mme. Corioli
disappeared into the rear quarters below, he left money on the table and
stole out of the house.

He walked up the teeming street of the Italian quarter quite blind to his
surroundings. Upon reaching Washington Square, an empty taxicab overtook
him. Hailing it, he had himself carried to his rooms. Like an arrow to
its mark he went to the book where he had hidden the drug, and opened one
of the folded papers with fingers trembling in haste.

No power on earth could have stopped him. He simply could not live with
his vanity shattered. When the fire began to mount in his brain he began
to feel once more like a man in his own estimation. He laughed somewhat
unsteadily, it is true, but still laughter. He had to hear the sound of
his own laughter,

"What is she to a man like me?" he asked himself. "Pooh--a. plaything!
Less than nothing! She must be taught a lesson, that's all. I'm the one
to do it I'll take her down a peg!"

He returned to the office.


Heberdon had not been long at the office when he received a summons to
Judge Palliser's room. In his present state of inflation he was not
easily to be intimidated. "Let him say anything he likes to me," he
muttered to himself. "Just let him try it on! I'll tell him to go to
blazes and turn around and march out of the place! He's begin to
appreciate me then."

However, Judge Paliser's attitude was propitiatory rather than

"Sit down, Frank," he said. "Have a cigar."

"Huh," thought Frank, "he wants something out of me now."

"I have a proposition to put up to you, Frank," the judge went on, "that
is not exactly to your disadvantage."

"Nor to yours, either," reflected Heberdon. "I thought so!" Heberdon,
with his wooden face, was able to conceal the fire that was burning in
his brain. The older man perceived nothing out of the way.

"I've not been blind to the fact that your job here wasn't exactly a bed
of roses," he went on. "But of course it would have been fatal to the
morale of the office if I had appeared to favour my own nephew. And, as I
told you when you came, I meant to try you out while I waited for an
opportunity to give you a boost."

Heberdon thought; "And of course you have got to get rid of certain
amount of hot air."

Judge Palliser went on impressively: "Well, the opportunity has

"You needn't think you're going to get me for nothing, old man," thought
Heberdon. "I've got thirty-three thousand dollars waiting for me out at
Greenhill Gardens, and I guess that's more than you could raise

Judge Palliser continued: "You are aware, of course, that the firm is
general counsel for the International Finance Corporation. What you do
not know is--and this is in confidence, of course--the I.F.C. has
undertaken a merger of all the public utilities in the city of Managuay,
South America; that is to say, street railways, electric power plant,
gasworks and waterworks.

"In order to avoid exciting popular opinion, it is not to be known that
American capital is behind the scheme; there will be dummy local
directors, and a firm of local lawyers for general counsel. But we are
going to send a representative to be taken into that firm, see? Just to
see that there is no disposition to put anything over on us. And I have
chosen you."

"South America!" repeated Heberdon blankly. His first impulse was to turn
the offer down, flat, but an instinct of caution bade him hold his
tongue for the moment.

"The land of golden opportunity!" commented Judge Palliser unctuously.
"The eyes of our best young men are turning in that direction." He named
a handsome remuneration. "You will be expected to stay two years. At the
end of that time we will see what we will see."

"I'll have to think it over," said Heberdon cautiously.

"Oh, I'm not asking you to pack up and leave tomorrow," rejoined the
judge. "The details of the merger have still to be perfected, and you
must familiarise yourself with the whole business before leaving New
York. Spanish lessons will be in order, too. You would have to sail about
the end of September, two months from now.

"I assume that you would take Ida with you. Ida, I understand, has always
had a fancy to be married in the country, the smartest thing, they tell
me. Well, you can be married in Marchmont before we come into town, and
go to Managuay for your honeymoon."

In Heberdon's superheated brain the little devils began to get busy. "Two
months!...A lot can happen in two months!...Why shouldn't I?...Cora...Get
square with her...Shake the whole bunch for ever."

Even to himself Heberdon would not name what he meant to do. But his mind
was made up.

"I accept," he said to his uncle.

"Of course you do!" cried Judge Palliser. "It's a chance such as doesn't
often come to a man of your age. Run along now and write the glad tidings
to Ida. I'll carry it up to her when I go. You and I will go into details
some other time, and at the first opportunity I will introduce you to the
officials of the I.F.C. Big men, Frank!"

One of the nasty little difficulties that had faced Heberdon was how he
was going to present himself at No. 23 Deepdene Road to collect the
money, after what had occurred. But all that was changed now. He was
eager to go. He meant to go and claim the dinner that had been offered
him. Over and over in his mind he rehearsed the little scene that was
going to make all smooth for him. He was so carried away by it that he
got in quite a glow of self-approval. How shocked he would have been had
any one used the words cold and heartless villainy in respect to what he
purposed doing!

So much for cocaine. By the time he got home to dress the effect had worn
off, and the reaction set in, but not in the form of remorse--fear
rather! "I'll never be able to pull it off!" he thought with a shudder.
"It's too nervy a scheme. I'd be found out! Good Heaven! If the old man
so much as suspected, he'd shoot me like a dog!"

Half-sick, panic-stricken, and perfectly incapable of facing Cora in his
present condition, there was nothing for Heberdon to do but to open
another of the little folded papers. The pleasant tingling fires were
relighted. Confidence arose.

"What am I afraid of? Cora has absolutely no line on me as Frank
Heberdon. And a country wedding wouldn't attract the attention of a big
affair in town. I'll fix it so that Ida and I will sail immediately after
the ceremony...And the city of Managuay is a long, long way off. I will
simply have dropped out of the world for them...Everything can happen in
two years...The difficulty will be with Cora...Secrecy--the old man
mustn't be told."

Upheld by the deceitful courage of cocaine, Heberdon presented himself at
the door of No. 23 Deepdene Road with an unabashed countenance. It was
opened to him by John Blighton, and from the old man's unaltered
demeanour it was clear he had been told nothing of the incident at Mme.

"Cora's upstairs bedizening herself," he said. "Dinner's ail ready.
We'll eat first, and then we'll ladle out the gravy. I haven't opened the
keister yet. Cora wouldn't let me without you were here. But, oh, son; it
took some strength of mind! There are some sunny boys in that keister
from the heft of it!"

Jack went back in the kitchen to dish up, and Heberdon, puffing at a
cigarette, walked up and down the living-room, still rehearsing what he
had to say to Cora. He must open the scene before they sat down to eat.

In a few moments she faced him, not with an unfriendly or an accusatory
air, but merely wary, with an eye out for a way of retreat through the
dining-room into the kitchen. She was pale. At Heberdon's first words
the new tone caused her to start and look at him with wide eyes. He was
very humble.

"Cora, I acted like a brute to-day! Can you ever forgive me?"

Her eyes went down. "I don't know that I have anything in particular to
forgive," she murmured with her invincible honesty. "One knows what men
are. I should not have gone. But I hoped--I--I am sorry--" She could not
go on.

"You were perfectly right," he said. "I respect, you for the way you
acted. But you ran away to-day before I had a chance to speak. I wanted
to ask you to marry me."

The downcast eyes leaped up to his, then fell again; a lovely warmth
flooded the pale face. "Oh, Frank!" she murmured, swaying.

He took her in his arms. There was no resistance now. The little devils
in his steaming brain rubbed their hands at the excellent progress of

"Cora, I can't wait for you!" he murmured ardently. The ardour was real
enough, anyway. "There is no reason why we should wait, is there? Marry
me at once, darling!"

"There is no reason, I suppose, why we should wait," she murmured with
adorable dreaminess. "At least, I can't think of any at this moment. But
we must talk. Oh, yes, there are reasons! Oh, it is cruel to have to
think and to talk now. But I must think. Frank!"

"Yes, darling."

"There is something I want to ask you to do for me. Oh, something so near
my heart I am afraid to speak of it!"

"What is it?" he asked with an uncomfortable misgiving.

Her white arms stole around his neck. Her deep glance sought to plumb his
very soul, and the little devils wriggled uncomfortably.

"Frank, we have plenty of money now," she said beseechingly. "Promise me
that we may run straight after we are married. It is my dream!"

This was like cold water again on Heberdon. He did not relish a moral
attitude in Cora. But he kept his face smooth and considered what to say.

His silence frightened Cora. "Don't misunderstand me," she hurriedly
pleaded. "It isn't exactly for moral reasons. Ah, don't think for a
moment that I feel myself any better than you or Jack. It isn't that. I'm
not think of myself. This is the only life I have ever known; how could
it seem wrong to me when I was born to it? But I can't help dreaming of
being like other people. And--and--things will be different now. We
might," the eyes fell again, "we might have children. I want things to be
different for them! Oh, I don't want them to be handicapped! I can't help
remembering my mother and the agonies she suffered when dad had work on
hand! You are clever enough to succeed at anything. Promise me that we
can run straight, Frank."

This was intensely disagreeable to Heberdon, but he managed to hide his
feelings. It had occurred to him that it made no difference what he
promised for the future, since there was to be no future. He put on a
solemn air.

"I promise," he said, "for your sake."

And all the little devils rolled and squealed in glee.

Cora kissed him with a will. "Ah, now I shall be happy!" she cried from a
full heart. "And please God! I'll make you happy, too!"

This was surrender complete, and Heberdon made haste to avail himself of
it. "There is something I want you to do for me," he said. "But only a
little thing."

"Just ask it and see!" she said with shining eyes.

"Keep our marriage a secret for a little while."

Her face turned grave, and she partly drew away from him. "But why?" she

"For no important reason," he said craftily. "But just because it would
be so sweet to belong to each other in secret. I can't bear to think of
people knowing all about us and smiling--you know the way they smile. I
suppose I am oversensitive, but it hurts, Cora. Of course they've got to
know some time, but just a little while to have our happiness wholly to

She was trying hard to accommodate herself to his point of view. "I
understand how you feel about people in general. I feel the same. But our
own people--I mean Jack. Of course, Jack must be told." Heberdon shook
his head. "He, least of all," he said; "because we've got to be with

Cora was keenly distressed. "Oh, Frank! How could I keep it from Jack?"

"Just for a little while," he pleaded. "It isn't as if he had any
objections to me. I have tested myself to him. He approves of me, doesn't
he? He likes me?"

"Oh, yes?" she admitted. "But--"

"Then, where's the harm? Just for a little while. We could be married
over again later if it would save his feelings."

"How long, Frank?"

"Say two months."

Cora sighed. "Very well, I agree," she said. "Though I don't like it. But
you are doing more than that for me!"

"Strike while the iron is hot!" whispered the little devils.

"To-morrow, Cora?" whispered Heberdon with burning eyes.

"Oh, not to-morrow!" she exclaimed. "Give me a day to accustom myself to
the idea! Wednesday, perhaps!"

"Wednesday, for sure!" he urged.

She nodded, hiding her face.

"Meet me at the Madagascar at five," he said breathlessly, "see to all
the arrangements."

None of the three did justice to Jack Blighton's excellent cooking on
this occasion. When Heberdon's brain was jingling, mere food meant
nothing to him. He glanced at Cora through his lashes, and dreamed of the
next day, while the little devils made merry within. Cora's thoughts,
too, were far from food. She was pale, but with a different pallor from
before. Her breast lifted on tremulous sighs. As for Blighton, his mind
was upstairs with the black keister. He could talk of nothing else, nor
were the other two, preoccupied with love though they might be,
indifferent to this subject.

Dispensing with dessert and coffee, they piled the dishes in the sink,
and hastened upstairs to the den. The black satchel reposed in a closet
there. Clearing the largest table in the room, they opened it and poured
out the contents pell-mell.

It was a feast for lawless eyes, and the three pairs above the table
glittered. This was no haul of dirty little bills such as Heberdon had
made from the Elevated road. A good proportion of them were of large
denominations--twenties, fifties, hundreds--and the big numbers, of
course, are always fresh and clean. Who ever saw a greasy hundred-dollar
bill? Since travellers are often furnished with gold, there were more
than a few eagles and double eagles in the lot.

To count and divide so great a sum was no five minutes' job. They didn't
care. Before they had it completed they heard the well-known sound of
Dick Alcorne's car in the street; Dick, in defiance of the law, always
drove with his exhaust open. They looked at one another in chagrin.

"Hell!" exclaimed Blighton.

"Don't let him in," said Cora.

"There's a light in the hall; he knows we're home." The old man began to
sweep the money back in the valise. "He mustn't see all this," he
growled. "It would turn his head for sure."

"He mustn't be told what happened," added Cora.

"But suppose he guesses it was us pulled the trick?"

"We must deny it. He is not fit to be trusted with such a secret."

The old man, after considering a moment, shook his head. "No!" he said.
"No need for us to publish the facts, of course. But if he's guessed it
was us, we mustn't deny it. For if he thinks we have lied to him, that
will, in his mind, release him from all obligations towards us."

Jack's word was law, of course, and Cora and Heberdon were obliged to
acquiesce. Blighton put the satchel back in the closet and went
downstairs to answer the bell.

At first glance Heberdon saw with a sort of fellow feeling that Alcorne
was at the height of a jingle. His face was lividly pale, the pupils of
his eyes distended; his breathing was quick and shallow, his movements
jerky beyond all control. Heberdon stole an uneasy glance at his own face
in the mirror. The result was reassuring. "I would never let myself go as
far as that," he told himself confidently.

Alcorne left them in no doubt as to what was in his mind.

"Congratulations, folks!" he cried. "So this was the job you've all been
whispering about! Well, I have to hand it to you. The biggest and the
neatest job of the century! I'll say it is!"

They smiled, neither denying nor affirming the flattering impeachment.

Alcorne went on. "It didn't take me long to recognise your fine Italian
hand, Jack. You were the brains of the scheme, eh, while Frank and Cora
were the hands?"

Heberdon's vanity could scarcely let this pass unchallenged. "The best
scheme in the world wouldn't be much good without the nerve to carry it
out," he remarked.

Alcorne laughed disagreeably. "Never fail to rise, do you, Frank?"

He sat down and jumped up again; lit a cigarette and immediately tossed
it away. He tried to smile at them and succeeded only in glaring, for his
facial muscles were under no better control than his vocal cords. It was
clear that he wished to ingratitate himself though he could not always
restrain that malicious tongue of his. Finally he blurted out the object
of his visit.

"This comes in damn lucky for me. I'm broke. Absolutely cleaned out!"

Heberdon sneered. John Blighton grimly stroked his clean-shaven upper

"I've got to have a couple of thou or go under," announced Alcorne.

"Got to?" said John Blighton with ominous quietness. The prudent Heberdon
perceived that he had much better leave this matter to the old man.

"Debts of honour," explained Alcorne flippantly.

"Aren't you taking a good deal for granted?" murmured Blighton.

"It's always been understood, hasn't it, that when some of us were flush
and one was broke, we shared?"

"I'd share my last penny with a pal for necessities: said Blighton. But
gambling debts are something else again."

"Gambling is a necessity to me," remarked Alcorne with his flip and crazy

The old man made no reply, but the vein in his forehead swelled.

The hot steam in Alcorne's brain rendered him blind and fatuous. "Well,
what are you going to do?" he wanted to know. "I don't care whether it's
a joint loan or separate."

"And what if we refuse," asked Blighton, sill more quietly.

Alcorne's cracked laugh rang out again. "Oh, you won't do that! I know
too much about you!"

There was silence in the little room. A dark flush overspread the old man's
face. It became terrible to see. Cora and Heberdon paled with concern,
though the cause of it still preserved his impudent air. Finally the old
man began to speak.

"Drugged and diseased as you are," he said. "I am astonished that you
have so far forgot yourself as to threaten me! .No man ever did that, by
Heaven, and got away with it!" He slowly doubled his great fist.

"Dad, not here!" cried Cora sharply. "Frank, stop him!"

Heberdon was not anxious to interfere. Nevertheless, he moved between the
two men. Alcorne, suddenly abject, retreated to the door.

"Aw, I didn't mean anything," he whined. "Can't you take a joke, Jack?"

"Jack nothing!" cried the old man. "Out of my house, you cur!"

Alcorne turned and fled precipitately down the stairs. At the foot he
turned and cried back in a voice as shrill as a hysterical woman:

"You'll be sorry for this Blighton! I'll get square with you! You know I
can, don't you? Just you wait!"

The front door slammed.

"Will he go to the police," asked Cora aghast.

"Don't you believe it," answered the old man coolly. "He's waiting out
there now for somebody to ask him to come back."

It was true they heard no sound of the motor starting.

"But hadn't we better keep him here at least until he comes to his
senses?" Cora suggested anxiously.

"Let him go!" said Blighton harshly. "He will not go to the police. He
couldn't put me behind the bars without landing there himself. And to a
dope like him it would be worse than death to be deprived of his drug.

"But he'll make trouble for us somehow," persisted Cora.

"I dare say," said Blighton cooly. "He is ingenious in devilry. But I
dare say, too, that we can stand it."


Next morning Heberdon awoke to another sickening reaction--not so violent
as on the former occasion, for the small dose of the drug that he was
taking no longer had quite the same power over him, but terrifying enough
in good sooth.

"What am I coming to?" he asked himself with a flash of panic-stricken
insight. He could not face that question, and his hand was drawn
longingly toward another of the little white papers. But with an expiring
effort of the will he refrained from opening it. He could not bring
himself to destroy the destroyer, though; he shut the book and put it
back on its stand. Setting himself up as well as he could with several
cups of black coffee--food was hateful to him--he went to the office.

His mind was in a state of frantic confusion. His villainous scheme had
succeeded beyond his hopes, but he dared not go on with it now. His lips
burned with the recollection of Cora's kisses. He could neither resolve
to give her up nor to go through the marriage ceremony as planned. At the
recollection of the terrible sight of John Blighton in anger he turned
cold all over.

"He wouldn't shoot me," he thought. "He'd strangle me with those hands!
Strong as a vice! I'd be as helpless as a rag in them!"

Over and over Heberdon's thoughts pursued the same round: "I'll postpone
the marriage. I'll never see her again. I've got the money all right.
I'll just drop out of sight. I've got to drop all that or God knows where
I'll end!...I'll stick to Ida and her lot. That' safety...I'll try to
hurry up the South American trip...I'll get Ida to marry me at
once...That will save me!...Oh, God! I can't give Cora up! I can't...I

To be sure there was another way out; that was to keep faith with Cora;
marry her, and run straight. But never for a moment would Heberdon
consider that. He shivered at the thought of the amused contempt of his
respectable and powerful relatives. In short, he condemned himself to
suffer all the torments of the egoist who insists on having his cake and
eating it, too; on playing without paying. It can't be done.

Heberdon had another cause for fear, when he thought of it, in Alcorne.
"He's going to make trouble...He has a special grudge against me. He
knows, too, that I got half, or more than half of the coin. He'll try to
bleed me...Another reason for staying away from Greenhill Gardens.
Alcorne can't reach me except through them...But I can't give her up!...I

During the course of the morning Judge Palliser sent for him. He wanted
to talk over the details of the proposed South American trip. The
harassed Heberdon was a good deal reassured by this talk. Street
railways, power plants, underwriting securities, legal business; here was
something safe and solid to tie up to. The judge was charmed by his
nephew's unwonted complaisance and anxiety to please.

Heberdon came away from his office saying to himself, "That settles it!
My mind is made up now. Safe and sane financing for mine...I'll write
Cora a note putting off the date to-morrow...And I'll never see her

But he didn't really mean it.

He applied himself to studying the Managuayan contracts, but was a little
discomposed by the refusal of the lines of type-writing to run straight
across the pages. Only by holding one eye closed could he make any sense
of it.

Later an office-boy entered his room to announce that a man wanted to see

"What name?" asked Heberdon.

"Wouldn't give his name. Just said a personal friend."

"What did he want to see me about?"

"A personal matter, he said."

"What sort of looking man?"

"Funny looking guy. Sporty clothes. Squeaky voice. Can't make his eyes
behave. One rolls up in his head while the other's looking straight at

No mistaking this description. Heberdon's heart stood still. He stared at
the boy in incredulous horror. Alcorne here! How could it have happened?
For a moment he was unable to find his voice. Then he asked huskily:

"Whom did he ask for?"

"Just said he wanted to see a fellow who worked here; young fellow, about
thirty, pale-faced, wears glasses; dresses elegant and quiet. So I says,
'You mean our Mr. Heberdon.'"

"You told him my name?" cried Heberdon.

"How was I to know?" protested the scared boy.

The room seemed to whirl around Heberdon. He was unable to think
coherently. Words came flowing out of his mouth involuntarily.

"Tell him I'm out."

The boy left the room.

Heberdon pressed his bursting head between his hands. What was he to do?
No answer was forthcoming. His head seemed to be full of broken gears
that wouldn't mesh. Alcorne had discovered his secret! The ruthless,
poisonous maniac had him in his power! What was there for it but instant
flight? But flight would mean letting go for ever of solidity, of
respectability, of safety. "I'd sink! I'd sink, alone!" Heberdon cried
to himself in a panic. How he longed for the contents of one of the
little white papers to bring at least a semblance of order out of the
chaos in his brain.

He became aware that the boy had returned to the room, and was staring at
him open-mouthed.

"What do you want now?" he asked sharply.

"When I told the fellow you were out he asked to see Judge Palliser.
Thought I better tell you first." Heberdon shivered in his very soul.
He gave up.

"Show him in here," he said in a muffled voice.

"What'll I tell him?" asked the boy.

"Tell him, oh, tell him anything you like!" said Heberdon desperately.
"Tell him you found me in one of the other offices."

Heberdon got up and looked out of the windows. He heard Alcorne enter,
but could not immediately bring himself to turn round. 'Without looking
at the man he was hatefully aware of every detail of his appearance--the
elegantly careless clothes; the fixed sneer, the fidgety movements, the
rolling eye. He heard Alcorne plump himself into a chair.

"Well, Frank," he said with his hateful cackling laugh, "you do yourself
pretty well, it seems."

Heberdon turned and stole a little glance at him sitting there smirking
in his gratified malice. His thought was, "If I could stop his breath
what a good job it would be for all!"

Alcorne went on: "I thought something like this would be about your
style. The hold-up game is just a little side-line with you, eh!"

"For God's sake! Anybody may come in!" said Heberdon hoarsely.

Alcorne laughed. "I suppose you're wondering how I came to drop in on
you. Well, since you wouldn't take me into your confidence I lad to do a
little detective work myself. Put up my car and trailed you into town
last night. Followed you to your rooms. This morning I actually put
myself to the inconvenience of getting up at eight o'clock so that I
could watch your door. Followed you down here, and then went and had some
breakfast. Simple, eh?"

Heberdon had returned to his chair. He played abstractedly with the
objects on his desk. "He has me at his mercy," he was thinking. "He'll
take every cent I've got--and everything I may win in future! He'll make
me do whatever he wants--that vile beast!...My life will be a hell on
earth! I've got to kill him..."

"I called to remind you of that little loan you promised me," said
Alcorne with a leer.

Heberdon was too far done to even make believe to chaff with the man.

"How much?" he asked dully.

"Why, Frank, what a poor memory you've got! And you a lawyer. Five
thousand was the figure named. Some men might double it after the
treatment I received, but I've got a generous nature. Five thousand will
satisfy me."

Even the unblushing effrontery could not rouse Heberdon. "I haven't it by
me," he muttered.

"Your cheque-book,' suggested Alcorne.

"I've no such sum in the bank."

"Oh, well, you've got it snugly salted down somewhere. I'll give you a
chance to get it, and I'll come back for it this afternoon."

Heberdon made no answer. He was thinking, "I must kill him quickly before
my resolution fails me."

"I said I'd come back for it this afternoon," Alcorne repeated.

"No, don't come here," said Heberdon, bestirring himself. "It isn't safe.
I'll bring it to you."

"Just as you say. Where?"

Heberdon thought. "His room!...That place is deserted upstairs during the
day...That poniard I bought for a curiosity. It has a point like a
needle! Nobody has seen it in my possession!"

"Come to! Come to!" broke in Alcorne. "Where will I wait for you?"

Heberdon moistened his lips. "Suppose we say your room? A little after

"Right-o!" said Alcorne. The man was almost good-natured, he was so sure
of his power. "Well, I don't want to keep you from your work," he added
mockingly. He rose. "So long, Frank, old man. See you later."

Heberdon remained sunk in his chair, staring before him with eyes that
saw nothing.

"So many people go in and out of the restaurant at Mellish's I'd never be
noticed...I'll enter by the side door as if I was going up to the ladies'
section. And then I'll simply keep on up the stairs. The upper floors are
sure to be deserted...No bachelor is ever in his room at five. I'll hand
him the money in loose bills. He'll stoop over to count it, and that will
expose his back. I must look up an anatomical chart and locate the exact
position of the heart from behind...There mustn't be any slip-up. My
hands mustn't tremble...A little shot of coke will put me in shape for
it...Then never again! If it hadn't been for that devil I would never
have known the damn stuff! Bat does a man cry out when he's struck to the
heart? How can I be sure of that?...There must be no cry--

"When he's found dead will his visit to this office come out?...Not
likely. He wouldn't tell any of his friends he was coming here...I don't
believe he has any friends. Only bar-room cronies. But a description of
the dead man would be published, a photograph maybe...What if they should
get on to something here...No chance! A dead man's eyes don't roll!

"I suppose I looked queer to the boy who showed him in. He may talk to
the others. Oh, what's the gossip of office-boys anyhow? With Alcorne
dead there's nothing to prove any connection between Frank Heberdon and
that life...Just the same, I'd better see the boy--and sort of remove
that impression...I'll account for Alcorne's visit somehow.

"I'll slip home for a pick-me-up--I'll be able to think more clearly

Heberdon returned to the office after lurch with a pleasant heat inside
his head. He seemed to himself to be perfectly self-possessed, his brain
working with remarkable clearness. A difficulty had but to present itself
to be solved. He did not make the mistake of calling the boy to speak to
him about Alcorne; that would have seemed to lend too much importance to
the incident. But when the boy came in on another errand, he remarked

"That was a queer customer you showed in this morning, Joe."

The boy grinned.

"I expect I pretty well jumped down your throat, when you told me you had
given him my name."

"You looked funny," confessed the boy. "Like as if he was the avenger on
your trail."

Heberdon laughed heartily. "Avenger! Your brain has been turned by the
movies, Joe! That poor fellow is only a bar-room acquaintance. Picked me
up one night when I'd had a bit too much. Naturally I didn't want him to
know who I was. He wanted to make a touch, of course."

"Well, if he comes again I'll know what to do," observed the boy.

"Oh, it really doesn't matter," said Heberdon, turning to his desk with
an indifferent air. "He will never come here again!" he thought.

Heberdon did not remain at the office long. It was impossible for him
even to make a feint of working. He was still tormented by that question.
"When a man is struck to the heart does he have time to cry out?"

He went to the main public library and looked up what he could find under
the headings of "Heart," "Wounds," _et cetera_. The information was not
conclusive. He gathered that a man was likely to grunt or gasp when he
received a mortal blow. He could not be sure.

He proceed to his rooms, and out of a piece of wire contrived a clip for
the poniard similar to the clips attached to fountain pens. This was to
suspend the weapon inside his coat, on the left-hand side, convenient to
the grasp of his right hand.

But, after all, he could not make up his mind to use the weapon.

I have to get down three flights of stairs...A cry would spoil
everything. My bare hands would be better...When he stoops over to count
the money I could take his windpipe from behind. If I stopped his wind
there would be no cry...And no blood! My hands are strong. They would be
strong as steel at that moment!

Once Heberdon had tried to strangle a cat. He remembered the creature's
frantic struggles. It had escaped. And a cat weighs perhaps a thirtieth
part of a man. But a cat is a cat! A man far gone like Alcorne has no
such steely sinews...He couldn't make up his mind one way or the other.
In the end he decided to take the poniard anyhow, and leave it to the
inspiration of the moment how to act.

At ten minutes past five Heberdon was on the way to keep his appointment
in a taxi he had picked up in the street. He had the five thousand with
him. He did not have himself carried direct to Mellish's, but names a
restaurant a few doors away. Making believe to enter the place he turned
around as soon as the man had gone, and proceeded to his real
destination. He was shaking as if with an ague, his teeth chattering like
castanets--but in his change pocket was the last little folded paper. He
delayed taking the contents until the final moment, for it was in the
first onrush of the intoxication that he felt invincible and king-like.

On the second story landing of the old chop-house he stopped and snuffed
up the contents of the little paper. He waited with a hand on the rail
until the fire began to mount in his brain. Then he went on up with his
heart waxing big in his breast.

"It would take a better man than Alcorne to stand up to me now...My nerve
is perfect. I'm just as calm as if I was going up to bed...I'd use my
bare hand instead of the poniard...More satisfaction!"

Alcorne's room was on the top floor in the front. Heberdon knocked on the
door with a firm knuckle.

"Little does he think what's waiting for him!" he muttered to himself.

Alcorne flung the door open with a "Hallo, Frank!" and stood aside for
Heberdon to enter. Heberdon walked in with a bit of a strut. As he passed
Alcorne he perceived behind him another man--a gross creature with an
evil-grinning face. Heberdon stopped short, and all his superb courage
ran out of him like water out of a burst paper bag.

Alcorne, at the sight of the alteration in his face, laughed aloud. "This
is my friend, Pete Dickey," he said. "Pete, meet Mr. Strathearn. You had a
funny look in your eye, Frank, when you said you were coming here, so I
thought I better have a witness present. No offence, I hope."

The waning effect of the cocaine was just sufficient to enable Heberdon
to keep his face before the two. He handed over the money.

"You'll find that all right," he said.

He got out of the room as quickly as possible, notwithstanding Alcorne's
jocular, derisive cries to have something before he went. He did not get
out too soon. Something in his breast was rising higher and higher. On
the stairs it broke. The tears gushed from his eyes, and like a
hysterical woman he stuffed his handkerchief in his mouth to stifle his
sobs. One pays for the courage of cocaine.

Reaching the streets he hurried along with his head down. His feet took
him instinctively in the direction of the Union Central Station for no
reason but that it was his habit to take the five-forty to Marchmont on
Tuesday evenings.


Heberdon spent a ghastly night tossing on his bed at the Pallisers'. The
failure of his attempt upon Alcorne, the fear of what Alcorne would do
next, and the thought of Cora combined almost drove him insane. And worse
than the torment of his thoughts was the hunger for cocaine that would
not let a nerve of his body rest. That unappeasable craving made the
night a hundred years long.

By rising early and taking a train before breakfast, the haggard yellow,
shaken creature contrived to avoid the members of the household. On
reaching town his first act was to hurry to his rooms, and get the
prescription out of the book where he had hidden it. He called a taxicab
and ordered the driver to take him to the address given. Once he was
headed toward the place his jumping nerves quieted a little.

"Of course, I'd never let myself get in the habit," he thought. "But I've
got to have it, until I can get Alcorne out of my way...I'd go insane
without it...That may take a little time now, because he's suspicious.
I've got to lay my plans carefully. I'll be cautious about the dope, too.
I'll get it down on a system...Neither too much nor too little. Once my
mind is easy I can stop."

The address proved to be in a forgotten little street on the ragged
eastern edge of the island. It was a grimy drug-store with a furtive air.
The fly-specked stock-in-trade had the look of being set out merely as a
stage effect, properties of a show that had been some seasons on the
road. As a matter of fact the trade of the place was limited to two or
three commodities which may not easily be procured elsewhere. The
proprietor had the yellowed, spoiled look of an habitual partaker of his
own wares.

He welcomed Heberdon as a prosperous new customer, with a grin that was
intended to be ingratiating, but was merely horrible. Having secured a
customer in this business he probably did not lose him often until death

Heberdon was not much impressed by the horror of the place, nor its
proprietor. He handed over his prescription with a hand trembling in
anxiety. Suppose the man refused! But there was no danger, really. The
prescription supplied a sufficient credential. The "druggist" made
haste to fill it. Heberdon had the drug put up in slightly stronger
doses; he was already becoming wise to its use. The price charged for the
powders staggered him--but it had to be paid, of course.

As the druggist showed him out he said with oily obsequiousness: "Next
time you come, if you don't mind, leave your taxi at the corner. It is so
conspicuous in this quiet little street!"

Safe in the taxi again Heberdon made haste to take one of the powders. He
fell back in the seat with a groan of relief. His ghastly vigil was over.
The immediate effect of the drug was to resolve him to meet Cora that
afternoon as arranged, and go through with his plans.

"I've got to have her!...I've got to have her! Whatever happens! Hell,
what's the use of worrying! I can lie out of anything!"

In the exciting but somewhat muzzy state of mind induced by cocaine, it
was easy not to dwell on unpleasant things. Heberdon put away the thought
of Alcorne for the time being and gave himself up to the dreams of Cora.
He tried to feel like a man on his wedding-day but it was not an entire
success. In the midst of his transports he would often become conscious
of a nagging feeling of unreality. In other words, there was plenty of
fizz to his champagne, but not much kick in it. His state of mind was a
good deal like fireworks, which burst out gorgeously, but suddenly end in
charred sticks.

When the effect of the dose began to wear off he took another without a

"The thing is to know how to control this thing. Neither too much nor too
little...I'm getting it down fine!...Cocaine won't do you any harm if you
keep it in its place!"

There was a good deal to be done in respect to his preparations and he
did not trouble the office much that day. But he had become a person of
more consideration since the South American scheme had been bruited, and
there was none to question his comings and goings. He engaged a charming
little suite at the Madagascar, for "Frank Strathearn and wife," and had
it filled with flowers. From the clerk at the desk he obtained the
address of a clergyman rather well-known in connection with Bohemian
marriages, and calling upon him, made a date for five-thirty that
afternoon. He bought a wedding-ring. The legal implications of what he
was a out to do never troubled him. That was another of the things that
he simply chose not to think about.

Shortly before five he finally departed from the office to meet Cora. She
was already waiting for him in the rear corridor of the Madagascar, that
fashionable place of rendezvous. She looked very lovely and like a bride
dressed for going away, in blue foulard. The hat today was not one of the
vivid affairs she usually affected, but had a modest droop to the brim
more befitting the occasion. Her face was pale and her eyes big with a
distress she could not hide.

"What's the matter?" asked Heberdon sharply.

"Nothing special," she said, forcing a smile, "just the agitation natural
to the occasion...Oh, Frank!..."

The involuntary appeal did not touch his heart; it annoyed him. He saw
that there _was_ something special the matter.

"Something has happened," he said. "I insist on knowing!"

"Dick Alcorne has been here," she said simply.

A cold chill struck to Heberdon's soul, and for a moment the cocaine
stopped effervescing in his brain.

"Dick Alcorne!" he echoed a little stupidly, "How did he come here? Was
it just a chance meeting?"

"I don't know. I think perhaps he followed me here."

Heberdon looked nervously up and down the corridor. "Oh, he's gone now."

Heberdon studied Cora sharply. There was distress in her face, but
nothing to indicate any change of feeling toward him. Nevertheless, he
could scarcely bring himself to put the question.

"What--what did Alcorne say to you?"

"Oh, the usual thing. I am always so ashamed to be seen in public with

"The usual thing?"

"Don't you know? It's what he calls making love."

She shivered delicately. "I can't stop him. It's impossible to penetrate
his vanity."

Heberdon moistened his lips. "Did he--did he say anything about me?"

She shook her head.

He breathed more freely. "Well, come on," h said. "We'd better walk away.
We'll stroll do the block to Eighth Avenue to make certain we're not
being followed."

She nodded and rose.

During their walk down the long block they scarcely spoke. Their
constraint was not unnatural under the circumstances. Cora occasionally
touched Heberdon's arm as if to reassure herself. With the slightest
encouragement she would have taken it boldly, but this would have
affronted Heberdon's sense of propriety, and she guessed it from his
slight frown. He walked with his head over his shoulder, more like a
fleeing thief than a prospective bridegroom. But he was able to assure
himself without doubt that they were not being followed. In that quiet
block of respectable dwellings there were few pedestrians beside

At Eighth Avenue they picked up a taxi-cab and had themselves carried
down-town to the Municipal Buildings. They mounted to the marriage
licence bureau and took their places among all the little Hebrew,
Italian, and nondescript couples bound on the same business that they
were. Cora was alarmed by their frank endearments. But they thought, no
doubt, since they were there, and since everybody knew what they were
there for, they might as well spoon while they waited.

A settled depression rested on Cora. It piqued Heberdon's vanity, and his
frown deepened. She did her best to rouse herself.

"Forgive me," she murmured. "But it seems so, sordid; so different from
what I had imagined. I'll be all right later."

The licence was issued to Frank Strathearn and Cora Blighton. With the
document in Frank's pocket they taxied back uptown. Cora ever grew paler
and more quiet. The parsonage was a modest dwelling in the Thirties. As
the cab came to a stop before the door Cora laid a hand on Heberdon's

"Frank, I can't help it," she said imploringly. "I must speak! I feel
that we should not enter here. Some danger awaits us. All day I have
simply been crushed by a premonition of evil. Let us wait for another
day, dearest. I shall not love you any less!"

Heberdon was highly incensed by this "woman's nonsense," as he termed it
to himself, but he had the grace to try to conceal his feelings.

"It's too late to turn back now," he told her. "You'd feel just the same
another day. I suppose it's natural. When we got it over with, you'll be
all right." She bowed her head in submission.

They crossed the sidewalk and mounted the steps. The bored and
none-too-tidy maid who opened the door scarcely deigned to look at them.
Like the clerks in the licence-bureau she had the air of one sated with
the foolish spectacle of matrimony.

"What name," she asked listlessly.


She closed the door. "Your friend is waiting in the reception-room," she
said listlessly. "I'll tell Mr. Ainslie you're here."

"My friend!" echoed Heberdon blankly. A horrid instinct told him who it
was without looking. He involuntarily turned to escape. But the
reception-room was separated from the hall by an archway only, and the
occupant of the room had already perceived them. It was Alcorne, sitting
there, grinning.

Heberdon's clutch on reality slipped. His head whirled insanely. He felt
as if he were falling through a void. He forgot all about Cora.

She, seeing the evidences of confusion in her lover's face, took command
of the situation. "We'll have to go through with it," she whispered
swiftly to Heberdon. "After all, it's no affair of his."

She walked with a cool and majestic air into the reception-room, and
Heberdon perforce had to follow.

Alcorne stood up. That unchanging grin may have meant anything or
nothing, a snarl or a benediction, His eyes rolled wildly. He stuffed his
hands in his pockets to conceal their trembling.

"Well, I guess you're surprised to see me," he said in his cracked and
uncertain voice.

"Naturally," said Cora coldly. "If we had wanted you to be present we
would have invited you."

Heberdon thought: "Damn the girl, she's giving everything away!" He was
quite incapable himself, though, of shunting the conversation in what he
considered the proper direction.

Cora's rebuke never reached Alcorne, who seemed to be filled with a
malicious glee, though one could not be sure. "When I left you in the
Madagascar a while ago," he said to her. "I happened to glance at the
register on my way out, and there I saw as plain as a pike-staff, 'Frank
Strathearn and his wife.' 'Hallo!' says I, 'what's our young Frank up
to?' Pointing to the entry I says to the clerk, 'There's a friend of
mine, is he in?' 'Hasn't come yet,' said the clerk. 'He's getting
married.' 'How do you know?' I asked. 'Asked me for the name of a
parson.' 'Indeed!' says I. Well, to make a long story short, I got the
name of the parson from him, and came around here and found out what hour
you were expected. And here I am. If you want to keep these things to
yourself you'll have to cover your tracks a great deal better."

Heberdon was aghast at his own folly. How, when he had felt so sure of
himself, had he come to leave so wide open a trail?

"Well, now you've enjoyed your little triumph," said Cora bitterly, "if
you have any sense of decency remaining I hope you'll go."

This shot told. Alcorne snarled; there was no doubt of its being a snarl.
"I don't know that I'm so dead to a sense off decency as that! And I
don't intend to go until you two go--which won't be long. After all, Jack
Blighton is my oldest friend, and you're his daughter. I'm not going to
let any slick guy put up an ugly job on you while I'm able to prevent

Cora's lip curled.

Alcorne addressed Heberdon peremptorily. "Show me your licence!"

Cora's eyes flashed. "How dare you!" she cried. She turned to Heberdon to
forbid him; Heberdon, however, had no intention of obeying.

"He's marrying you under an assumed name," said Alcorne.

"You can't frighten me with that," retorted Cora. "We all take what names
we choose. I'm marrying the man and not his name."

"That's all right," said Alcorne with one of his uncanny flashes of
perspicacity, "but you don't even know what his right name is."

Cora winced under this and lowered her head.

"Four nights a week he moves in the highest society!" Alcorne continued
triumphantly, "and the other three he lowers himself by associating with

Cora's head went up and she managed to laugh.

Alcorne's face turned dark. "Wait a bit before you laugh! I haven't begun
to tell all I know! I called on him to-day at his office. Swell offices;
one of the biggest legal firms in town!"

Cora glanced sidewise at Heberdon, but there was no help to be had there.
So she fought her own battle. "So much the better!" she said calmly.

"So much the better, eh?" snarled Alcorne. "He's engaged to a society
girl. Is that so much the better?"

"It's a lie!" said Cora instantly.

"Oh, is it?" said Alcorne. "I thought you'd say that-so I went to the
trouble of looking up the announcement in the papers. I have the clipping

Cora's pride would not permit her to ask for the clipping or to put out
her hand for it. But her pride could not conceal the torments she was

"On second thoughts I'm not going to show it to, you," said Alcorne,
putting the slip of paper back in his pocket. "Because knowledge is
power, and I mean to keep my power."

Cora looked up with a ray of hope in her eyes. Perhaps, after all, the
man was bluffing.

"Oh, you don't need to read the clipping in order to be satisfied of the
truth of what I say," sneered Alcorne. "Look at your young man."

She looked and could not but see the terror and blank confusion in
Heberdon's face. It was significant enough. Cora turned suddenly faint.
She put her hand out to the back of a chair for support.

"Now, who's got a sense of decency?" cried Alcorne.

"It isn't true! It isn't true!" she murmured. "Frank, why don't you
say something?"

Heberdon's brain was still whirling dizzily with these thoughts going
round in it:

"Why don't I say something?...Why do stand here and let him put it all
over me? Why don't I brazen it out?...She'd rather believe me than
him...What's the matter with me? Oh, God! If I only had a shot of

Half a dozen things to say occurred to him at once, and in his confusion
he chose the worst one.

"A man's name is anything he wants to call himself," he stammered,
echoing Cora. "You are marrying me, not my name."

"Oh, then, it is true!" cried Cora.

He saw his mistake. "Not about the engagement," he said. "I'm not engaged
to any woman but you!" Alcorne whistled a little tune, and significantly
tapped the pocket that contained the clipping.

Heberdon made another mistake. He admitted the clipping. "They fixed
that, up among themselves," he said. "I broke it off." He wanted to add,
"when I met you," but his confused brain could not remember whether the
announcement had appeared before or after he became acquainted with Cora.

"When?" demanded Alcorne, sneering.

"As soon as I read it," said Heberdon. "It was published without my

"Modest and gallant gentleman!" said Alcorne. "No denial appeared in the
papers," he added. "I looked."

"They don't publish denials," rejoined Heberdon. He was becoming a little
encouraged from the glib sound of his own lies. "That's to save the
girl's face. They just allow it to be forgotten."

"Oh, what does all this matter?" said Cora proudly and simply. "Do you
love me, Frank?"

Heberdon saw the spasm of pain that crossed Alcorne's face, and one
thought filled him to the exclusion of every other. "Get square! Get
square! Marry her and put him on the toaster!"

So that it was with a very fair imitation of ardour that he cried, "Can
you doubt it, Cora? You axe the only woman in the world for me! If you
abandon me I'll go to the dogs!"

She raised her head. "Very well," she said. "I'll marry you, anyhow!"

"You fool!" cried Alcorne, beside himself. "You are committing suicide!
Your father shall know of this! I'll call him up!"

"We'll be married before you could get him on the wire," she said coldly.

"I'll tell the parson all the circumstances. He would not dare marry

"Then we'll go to another!"

They heard a door close above, and a step on the stairs. Heberdon began
to be able to smile at Alcorne now. But his feeling of triumph was very
short-lived. Alcorne suddenly pulled himself in.

"Frank has forgotten something," he said quietly. "What's that?" said
Heberdon in quite a firm voice. "Forgot to ask my permission," said
Alcorne, with his eyes rolling extraordinarily.

Cora stared at him indignantly.

"No, I haven't lost my mind," said Alcorne, with restored insolence.
"Frank is my little bondman, my man-servant, my slave. Frank has to do
everything I tell him to, and well he knows it! If I wanted him to, he
would have to get down on his marrow bones on the carpet here and wipe
the dust off my shoes. Isn't it so, Frank?"

Heberdon gulped. At that moment the clergyman entered the room in his
decent black habit. He smiled his unmeaning professional smile and bobbed
his head to each.

"Sony to have kept you waiting," he said. "I had a hospital visit this
afternoon, and had to change my clothes. Beautiful weather, isn't it?
Happy is the bride the sun shines on!"

The stock remark was hardly appropriate to the strained atmosphere of the
room, but the speaker could hardly be blamed for that.

"Which is the lucky man?" he asked, glancing from Alcorne to Heberdon.

Cora indicated the latter.

The clergyman sat down at his desk. "May I see your licence, sir?"

Alcorne whispered to Heberdon, "Remember, I for bid this marriage!"

A light suddenly broke in Heberdon's foggy brain. "Why, of course I can't
marry her!...If Alcorne is a witness I'd have to stick to her!"

He began to whisper stutteringly to Cora, "Hadn't we better put it off? I
can't dare to many you under an assumed name now. I want to get a new

"It doesn't make the least difference," she whispered back.

"But Alcorne being here," Heberdon went on desperately. "It spoils
everything. Let's call it off for to-day."

She looked at him in astonishment. A fine sweat had broken out on his
forehead; his eyes were sick with fear. No woman could fail to read those
signs. Cora's love and her pride together received a mortal blow.

But she gave little sign of it. Without an instant's pause she turned to
the minister, saying:

"We are sorry to have troubled you, sir, but certain circumstances have
forced us to change our plans. Good-afternoon."

Before the surprised clergyman could focus his glasses she was out of the

Alcorne said, with his matchless effrontery, "But we mustn't forget your
honorarium, sir. Allow me."

He then laid a bill on the clergyman's desk.

The act was wasted on the other two. Cora was already out of the front
door and the distracted Heberdon, feeling as if the heart was being
dragged out of his breast, was following her, pleading.

"Cora! Wait! Wait! Let me explain. Let me go with you!"

She turned a stony face to him. "Stay where you are!" she said in a voce
that rooted him to the steps.

Alcorne overtook them. "I'll see you home," he said to Cora, with a glib
and confident air.

Her glance shrivelled him up, too.

"The cab is here," she said. "I will go alone."

The closing of the cab door broke the spell that held Heberdon. He ran
after it insensately. A fog descended on his brain. For a while he knew
nothing. He never sensed what became of Alcorne.


From this time forward Heberdon, during his waking hours, was
continuously under the influence of cocaine. With the caution natural to
him, he carefully regulated the doses, so as to maintain an even simmer
to his brain. To be sure, there were the black and hopeless moments of
awakening in the morning, but he took care to have one of the little
folded papers handy to his bedside, As long as he kept himself going with
it he looked all right. Though the little flames were shooting up in his
brain, he still appeared the correct and punctilious young lawyer that he
had always been. He still promised himself, of course, to give it up as
soon as he had his present business out of hand.

Cocaine applied balm to the searing recollection of that ghastly scene at
the parsonage. By dint of reassuring himself, he came to believe that
there was no serious break between him and Cora.

"She loves me anyhow--she showed that clearly enough...That's all that
matters. Of course, she's sore--but I can bring her round all right when
I'm ready; soon as I get Alcorne out of the way. Fortunately he didn't
give me away altogether. Of course, she may worm it out of him, but it's
not likely. She's sorer at him than she is at me...And he thinks he can
do more damage by holding it over my head!"

Heberdon's confidence, though, was not so great that he cared to present
himself at No. 23 Deepdene Road. He kept away, though he hungered and
thirsted for Cora more than ever. Cocaine might enable him to deceive
himself during the day, but it did not prevent him from dreaming of her
at night with intolerable yearning, and wakening with her name on his

Everything depended on his getting Alcorne out of the way. He lived with
that thought. In his sick brain the figure of Alcorne assumed monstrous
proportions like, a nightmare shape. Everything that frustrated him,
everything that opposed him, everything that hurt him he blamed on
Alcorne, of course.

Nearly every day some new scheme of murder presented itself. But each
scheme developed some fatal flaw. And indeed the problem that confronted
Heberdon might well have staggered a man with all his wits about him. Not
only was Alcorne on his guard, but now it would be necessary to conceal
all traces of the murder tor fear Cora might suspect who had done it.

"I must take things slowly," lie said to himself. "An opportunity is
bound to offer if I always hold myself ready to strike...I must make
friends with Alcorne...Not go out of my way to smooth him down, of
course, or he'll surely smell a rat. But just gradually let on that I'm
resigned to the situation...If I could only get on a job with him, that
would give me the chance."

To Joe, the office-boy, Heberdon said: "If that poor souse calls
again  to make a touch, better bring him in to me. The quickest way of
getting rid of him is to give him half a dollar."

Five days after the scene at the parsonage Alcorne turned up at the
office with his unabashed grin. When he and Heberdon were alone he said:

"Broke again, Frank! It's fierce, the high cost of vice!"

Heberdon shrugged with the air of one making the best of a bad job. "How
much do you want?"

"The usual five thou," replied Alcorne airily.

"I suppose I can't help myself," said Heberdon in a tone of bitter

"That's the way to take it," rejoined Alcorne, grinning.

"But at this rate I'll soon be as broke as you are."

"I can put you in the way of making more."

Heberdon thought: "Mustn't appear too eager." Aloud he said: "I don't
fancy the last job you put up to me."

"That's queered now," said Alcorne. "Old dame's gone to the country. I'll
dope out something else. You and I will make a good team; I'll supply the
brains and you the nerve."

Heberdon thought furiously: "Besotted fool! Cocaine has eaten what
little brains you ever had!"

"I have several ideas stirring," went on Alcorne.

"Don't talk about them here," interposed Heberdon quickly. "I'll bring
you the money to-night, and then we'll have a chance."

"Want to come to my room?" asked Alcorne grinning.

"Doesn't matter to me," said Heberdon indifferently. "You can come to my
place if you'd rather."

He thought swiftly: "I might do it there. If I had some way of disposing
of the body...A trunk! I could start away on a journey and lose the trunk

But Alcorne cut in on these pleasant ruminations by saying: "Oh, make it
Blaney's at nine."

At Blaney's they got a little table in the garden.

Heberdon paid over the money, feeling a good deal as if he were draining
his veins of their life-giving ichor. They sat talking over their

Heberdon thought: "The thing would be to get him out of town." Aloud he
said: "How about Miss Biddy O'Bierne's necklace?"

"I told you she'd gone out of town," said Alcorne.


"Narragansett Pier."

"Why couldn't we pull it off up there? It's worth looking into, isn't it?"

"In a crowded hotel? Don't be a fool!"

Heberdon shrugged. "Well, what do you propose?"

"It ought to be something in the jewel line," said Alcorne. "The jewel
market is strong. A new fellow has come up that will buy anything we
bring him. Pay a fair price, too. He's in with some of the biggest
jewellers in town.

"What's his name?"

Alcorne showed all his discoloured teeth. "Wouldn't you like to know! You
can leave that end of it to me, partner."

Heberdon swallowed it because he had to.

"Now, you're in with a lot of nabobs," proceeded Alcorne. You ought to
know where the diamonds and pearls are to be picked up."

"You said you'd supply the brains of the outfit," said Heberdon. "I'm
awaiting orders."

"That's all right," rejoined Alcorne. "You tell me where the stuff is to
be had, and I'll tell you how to get it."

"I'll look around," said Heberdon.

"All right. I'll see the fellow that buys the stuff. Often they can put
you on to good things."

Leaving Alcorne, Heberdon thought: He hasn't got nerve enough to pull off
the simplest stunt. I'm necessary to him. That's where I'll get a hold
over him. Heberdon still made a habit of asking at the desk of the
Madagascar for letters, and on the following day he was rewarded by
receiving one bearing the postmark of Greenhill Gardens. But the hand was
not Cora's. He tore it open.

"DEAR FRANK,--What's the hell's the matter with you giving us the go-by
like this? Come on out Wednesday night.

"J. B."

This was almost as good as a letter from Cora. Heberdon's breast swelled
with a feeling of triumph.

"She put him up to writing this. I did exactly the right thing to stay
away, and not send any word. She couldn't stand it any longer...I've got
her going now...Now, when I go back I mustn't fall all over myself to
make it up--must let her feel that I know my own worth, and that she
treated me damn badly."

But the poor wretch was happy in his way; that is to say, as happy as an
egoist may be. There was a little song in his muzzy brain:

"Cora! Cora! Cora! I'll see her to-morrow!"

Blighton let him in, and his grim, hearty greeting was unchanged.

"This is no way to treat a pal!" he said.

Heberdon muttered something about having had to go out of town. A sense
of emptiness in the house behind Blighton made his heart sink.

"Where's Cora?" he asked sharply.

"Say, I'm sorry. After I wrote you, she found she had to be out
to-night," said Blighton, "Sitting up all night with a sick friend.
You'll have to come out again Friday."

It was a sickening disappointment. Heberdon's vanity side-slipped and
crashed. That soaring pride of his, so prone to seek altitude records,
was at the same time horribly sensitive to changes of temperature.

He thought: "Blighton said, 'After I wrote you, she found she had to be
out?' After she found I was coming she made up that excuse."

But the heady fumes of cocaine began to set him up, "Just a girl's
bluff!...She put him up to writing that letter all right. She wanted to
resume relations, but she didn't want me to know she made the first move.
So she goes away to-night. Friday she'll be waiting here for me--Friday
it will be up to me to stay away and teach her a lesson."

He didn't remain long talking to old Jack.

On Thursday Heberdon got a telephone call from Alcorne: "Meet me at
Blaney's at nine to-night."

Heberdon's heart sank. Did he want more already?

Alcorne interpreted the silence aright, and his cackling laugh came over
the wire. "It's not what you think," he said. "I've got it."

"Got what?"

"What we were looking for."

"I can't meet you to-night," said Heberdon. "Got to go out of town."

"Going up to see number one, eh?" sneered Alcorne. Heberdon bit his lip
in silence. "Some day you'll pay for that, with the rest," he thought.

"Make it five this afternoon, then," said Alcorne. "It'll only take a few
minutes to lay it out to you." Heberdon agreed.

Blaney's garden was deserted at this hour--and an ideal place to hatch a
little conspiracy.

"I got a tip from my friend, the jewel-broker," explained Alcorne. "Soon
as he caught sight of me he said: 'Alcorne! Just the man I want to see.
Got a job for you.' When he laid it out to me I laughed. It's a
cinch--it's too easy! Like swiping chewing-gum from a blind pedlar."

"Let's hear it," said Heberdon.

"Well, it appears there's a dago millionaire visiting this country just
now--a celebrated collector and so on. From what my friend tells me, an
eccentric sort of character; in other words, if he wasn't so rich he'd be
called real crazy and put in a nuttery."

"What's his name?"

"My friend didn't tell me. If he told me, that would let him out,
wouldn't it?"

"But how can we get after the dago if we don't know who he is?"

"Oh, he's not our mark; he's our principal. Listen. It appears his heart
is set on getting hold of a certain gold and enamel cup that was made by
a celebrated Italian artist in the seventeenth century. I forget his
name--Ben something. It is called the Baragliesi Cup. The dago claims it
was carried off from Italy by Napoleon as loot. After passing through
many hands, it is now in the collection of an American millionaire. The
dago offers twenty thousand for the cup, and no questions asked."

"But what good will it do him?" said Heberdon. "He couldn't show it

"We should worry about that!" laughed Alcorne. "Didn't I tell you he was
crazy? It seems he's actuated by patriotic motives. This is one of Italy's
greatest works of art, he claims, and it's his duty as a patriotic dago
to restore it to Italy, and incidentally to his own collection. He will
show it to connoisseurs in secret, he says. No Italian would give him

"Where is the cup?" asked Heberdon.

"In the Severance collection, Baltimore." Heberdon thought: "If I get you
down to Baltimore you'll never come back." Aloud he said carelessly: I've
heard of the collection."

"Severance himself is dead," Alcorne went on. "He left his collection to
the city, housed in a magnificent museum. It's open to the public, but
there's half a dollar admission, which is lucky for us, for the number of
folks willing to put up half a dollar for art's sake is limited.

"The place is never crowded, and at certain hours is quite deserted. My
friend tells me, too, that the attendants have become careless, because
Baltimore is a law-abiding town, and there has never been an attempt to
rob the collection. Such stuff is too hard to dispose of, anyhow.

"The Baragliesi Cup with other objects is in a glass case in the centre
of a small room to the right of the main hall on the ground floor. You
can't miss it. It's ticketed. It's in the shape of a big scallop shell in
gold, resting on the back of an enamelled tortoise. Besides, you'll be
supplied with a copy to slip in the place of the genuine. Only a clumsy
copy, my friend says, but it will keep the eye of an attendant from being
attracted to the empty space."

"That's all right," said Heberdon. "But how am I going to get into the
case? It doesn't look like such a cinch to me. Am I expected to smash the

"I thought you were an expert on locks," sneered Alcorne. "I'll tell you
this; such museum cases are all made by a certain firm. They use a lock
made for them especially by the Orlick Manufacturing Company in
Meriden--a small, neat, strong affair. Isn't that enough for you?"

"I don't know," said Heberdon cautiously. "I'll look into it. I thought
you were going to supply the brains of the outfit."

"Oh, if you don't want to take it on, I can easily get somebody else,"
retorted Alcorne.

Heberdon did want to take it on, but not just for the reasons that
Alcorne supposed. "I'll let you know to-morrow morning," he said. "When
do you want to pull it off?"

"The sooner the better. The dago's in a rush to get home."

"I only have Saturdays and Sundays off from the office. If I can fix it
about the key we might go down to-morrow night. That will give us two
full days. If it takes longer we'll have to go back next week."

"Oh, I'm not going," said Alcorne coolly. "This is up to you."

Heberdon's heart sank. "I may need help," he objected.

"Can't help that. I never go so far from Broadway. It's a rule I've

"Aren't you afraid I might lift the cup and make off with it?" asked
Heberdon, grinning.

"You couldn't dispose of it," retorted Alcorne, grinning back.

Heberdon was afraid to say any more, for fear of betraying his secret
thought. He shrugged and appeared to submit. Another scheme to get
Alcorne was working in his brain.

"All right," he said. "If I can make out with the key I'll go down on the
sleeper to-morrow night."

"Meet me here at nine," said Alcorne, "and I'll pass you the fake cup."

"How do we split?" asked Heberdon.

"You can leave that to me," said Alcorne insolently.

Heberdon thought: "If I put up a strong kick it will lull any lingering
suspicions he may have." He said: "No, sir! I've got  to know where I

Alcorne shrugged. "Five thousand to my friend," he said coolly; "ten
thousand to me, and five thousand to you."

Heberdon protested with an appearance of the greatest indignation.

"What's the difference?" said Alcorne. "I'd only lake it from you

They argued the matter hotly back and forth. Heberdon, for his own ends,
even humbled his pride to beg Alcorne not to be so hard on him. Then he
abused him. It was good acting, he told himself.

"Oh, shut your head!" said Alcorne at last. "You know you've got to do
what I tell you, anyhow."

This is exactly what Heberdon desired. The sullen reluctance with which
he gave way deceived the other man completely.

"You might as well learn your place, Frank," 'he said, with a loud laugh
of gratified malice.

Heberdon let his eyes fall in seeming humility--in reality he desired to
hide the glitter there. He thought: "That's all right, my man! I've got
you going!"


While the estimable members of the Palliser household slept the sleep of
easy consciences, Heberdon walked his room into the small hours,
thinking, thinking. Under the combined stimuli of cocaine and hate, his
brain was active enough, but somehow it did not seem to be able to round
out conclusions. Before he worked out one plan a new one would crowd it
out of his head. And everything he thought of required an accomplice.

He had no doubt but there were other men who hated Alcorne no less than
he did, but the question was how to lay his hands on one such at short
notice. Morning came, and he had still not filled-in the details of his

In the old days when Heberdon had been interested in crime in theory
only, he had occasionally been, tempted to write to the newspapers under
an assumed name, giving his idea of certain cases. Through this means he had
become acquainted with one Nicholson,' a. locksmith of tastes similar to
his own.

He had finally, under an assumed name, called on the man at his little
shop down-town. Each had secretly perceived a fellow spirit in the other,
and the acquaintance had ripened. Without any actual confidences having
been exchanged, Heberdon knew that Nicholson was a man who would stop at
nothing. Nicholson's knowledge of locks was nothing less than amazing.

On returning to town next morning Heberdon's first act was to call on
Nicholson in relation to a key to the exhibition cases in the Severance
gallery. Not that Heberdon had the slightest intention of lifting the
Baragliesi cup, but he wished to be prepared with the right thing to say
to Alcorne. The relation between Heberdon and Nicholson was now such that
Heberdon could put the matter up to the other man without the slightest
hesitancy. Things were not tagged by their right names, of course.

"I know the style of lock well," said Nicholson. "I could get you a
master-key that would open any of the cases made by that company, but it
would take a little time."

"How much time?" asked Heberdon.

"A week."

Heberdon considered. "I'll let you know Monday whether I'm going to need
it," he said at last. "In the meantime lend me a key of the same general
style. Just to show."

Nicholson, with a nod, found a little key for him. He Was not a man to
ask too many questions.

From Nicholson's shop Heberdon had himself carried in a taxi to Gibbon
Street. He needed a further supply of cocaine before leaving town. This
time, as requested, he left his cab at the corner, and made his way over
the remaining distance on foot. He had an uneasy feeling that the dirty
little children looked at him knowingly, and indeed they did.

The little store was known quite frankly in the neighbourhood as the
"coke-shop," and Heberdon was not the only well-dressed man who
patronised it.

As he approached the door it opened violently, and a figure was propelled
out, landing in a heap at Heberdon's feet. The prostrate one scrambled
out of the way, as if expecting a kick, and, getting to his feet, leaned
against the show-window and hiding his face in his arms wept noisily like
a child. It was a meagre, bony little figure, and Heberdon had a glimpse
of a face incredibly drawn and haggard--a middle-aged man, one would have
said, had it not been for a pathetic suggestion of youth about the eyes.

Heberdon was disgusted with the exhibition. He drew himself aside and
circled around the figure in order to enter the shop.

"What's the matter?" he asked the proprietor indifferently.

"Damn coke-fiend had the nerve to come to me for his dope," was the
indignant reply. "Threatened to report me when I wouldn't give him his
filthy drug."

The display of moral indignation in one who was at that moment putting up
cocaine for Heberdon might have been considered laughable--but not by
Heberdon. He and the storekeeper maintained the pleasing fiction that it
was a harmless drug Heberdon came for, and each was careful of the
other's feelings.

When Heberdon, having pocketed his purchase, came out, the poor young
wretch was still there. But his tears had ceased to flow. He was waiting
for Heberdon with an agony of eagerness in his eyes.

"Mister! Mister!" he stuttered. "For God's sake give me a little shot!
Just a pick-me-up! My nerve is all gone! I'll be screaming directly.
Don't refuse! Don't refuse! Just a pinch, mister, for God's sake! I've
spent hundreds in there, and now the damn Shylock kicks me out when I'm

Heberdon's first impulse was to mount indignation--like the storekeeper.
But he quickly reflected: "I could buy this man body and soul for a few
shots of coke! I need a man." He said, "All right, I'll give it to you.
Come up to the corner. I've got a cab there. Walk behind me."

The poor creature shambled after him. Around the corner they were out of
sight of those who had curiously witnessed the encounter. Heberdon, with
a furtive glance around, opened the cab door, and the other clambered in.
They started. Heberdon handed over one of the folded papers. The young
man's hands, though they trembled as if palsied, did not spill a single
grain of it. He snuffed it up, and fell back in a corner of the cab with
a groan of relief.

Heberdon, whose own head was humming a little, watched him through
narrowed lids. He was not thinking: "I may come to this," but, "I can say
anything I like to this fellow; a man as far gone as this can't afford to
have any moral scruples."

By-and-by the young fellow opened his eyes and sat up. There was a
startling change in his expression. He looked almost rational now. He had
dropped years. A slightly filmy quality to his gaze was all that revealed
his abnormal state.

"I'm all right now," he murmured. "You can put me out."

"Wait a minute," said Heberdon. "What you going to do?"

"Maybe I can get a job dish-washing somewhere. If you'd give me another
shot to keep me going till night."

He hazarded this clearly without any hope of getting it. But Heberdon
handed him over another little paper. The youth took it with a strange
look, and pocketed it as one might stow a gold piece. He did not thank

"A pretty poor life, eh?" said Heberdon.

The other shrugged apathetically. "I've quit worrying."

"Any home?"

A shake of the head. "The Nonpareil House when I've got two bits for a

"How old are you?" asked Heberdon curiously.


"Any folks?"

Another shake of the head.

"How would you like to work for me?" asked Heberdon carelessly.

The youth looked at him quickly. "What at?"

"Anything I told you," said Heberdon, with a hard glance that was
significant of the nature of the work.

But the youth had no idea of questioning it. He began to tremble.

"Would you--Would you--" he stammered.

"As much as you wanted," said Heberdon coolly. "So it didn't paralyse

A terrible eagerness appeared in the young man's eyes. "I'd do
anything--anything!" he stuttered in an abasement dreadful to see. "Only
try me!"

"Oh, it isn't much," said Heberdon. I've got a little job to pull off
down in Baltimore. Your part would be simple."

"Only try me!" implored the young man, unconsciously clasping his hands.
"I'd serve you well!"

Heberdon studied him. It was clear that the game of life was too much for
him, and all he asked was to be taken care of. Heberdon thought: "If I
keep the stuff in my own hands and dole it out he'll be as meek as a
lamb." He said: "All right. No pay. But I'll keep you."

This was like paradise to the outcast. Nothing to think about and all the
coke he wanted.

"You mean it? On the level?" he murmured.

"What I've given you will keep you going till evening," said Heberdon.
"Meet me at five-thirty in the Southern Terminal, in front of the ticket
offices. I'll give you more then, and tell you about leaving to-night."

The young man nodded eagerly. One could see that he scarcely dared credit
his good fortune. Little doubt but that he would be at the meeting place.
Heberdon stopped the cab and signed to him to get out.

"By the way," said Heberdon, "what's your name?"

The other looked uneasy, "They call me anything they've a mind to," he

"I'll call you Johnson," said Heberdon. "You call me Mr. Smith."

"Yes, sir, Mr. Smith."

"I suppose you've got to eat," said Heberdon.

He gave him half a dollar--enough for food, but not enough for dope--and
drove on in high satisfaction. His plan was rounding into shape now.

That afternoon he approached the station in no little anxiety--his plan
was complete, and if Johnson failed him--But he was there. Indeed, he had
the look of having been there for hours. The station was no doubt as good
as any place for him to sit and dream. The craving was coming on him
again. His look of eagerness at the sight of Heberdon was very gratifying
to that gentleman.

Heberdon passed him another dose, and Johnson, with the skill resulting
from long practice, took it in the crowded station there without
betraying what he was doing. Heberdon glanced over him critically. His
linen was dirty, and his suit, though whole, looked as if it had been
slept in many a night.

"I suppose you'll have to have new clothes," Heberdon said. "Come on,
before the stores close. Walk behind me."

Johnson followed him like a dog. New clothes meant nothing in particular
to him. There was only one thing could excite him.

When the outfit was bought, Heberdon gave him money for his supper and
sent him back to the station. "The train leaves at half-past twelve
to-night. You had better be waiting from ten o'clock on, as I don't know
when I'll get there. Don't recognise me unless I speak to you first. If
anybody is with me I'll make out to get on the train and come back after

After his own luxurious dinner at the Madagascar, Heberdon wrote an
affectionate letter to Ida, bewailing the fact that business would
prevent him coming up to Marchmont for the week-end. It was his old case,
he said, which was at last approaching a settlement. He'd be up Monday

Later, Heberdon had himself carried to Blaney's to meet Alcorne, as
agreed. At sight of Alcorne propped against the mahogany, Heberdon put on
a harassed air.

"Well, how goes it, Frank!" cried Alcorne, with the leering joviality
that made no pretence of concealing his insolence.

"Bad," said Heberdon.

"What's the matter?" demanded the other, scowling. "I'm sick!"

"Sick! Huh! Cold feet, I guess."

"No--sciatica," and Heberdon put a hand to the small of his back.

Alcorne scowled at him, full of suspicion.

"It's not bad yet," explained Heberdon. "But generally when I have these
attacks they lay me out cold for a couple of days. It's foolish to start
anything to-night."

"Hell!" said Alcorne. "I told my friend everything was all right, and the
dago's engaged passage home Saturday."

"But there's no assurance of my being able to pull it off the first trip

"Why not? How about the key?"

"I have it," Heberdon showed the key Nicholson had given him. "That's a
master key to all the cases turned out by that company."

"Why, then it's as easy as turning over in bed!" said Alcorne. "Take a
good stiff horn. Take a flask with you. Hell! You'll be all right."

Heberdon by degrees allowed himself to be persuaded. "I'll do the best I
can," he said. "But I warned you."

Shortly after eleven Alcorne accompanied him over to the station; not out
of friendliness, naturally, but to make sure that he really got on the
train. As they passed through the concourse Heberdon, out of the tail of
his eye, saw little Johnson hanging about. He parted from Alcorne at the
train gates in apparent amity.

"What hotel you going to stop at?" Alcorne asked idly.

"I thought it would be better to get a furnished room. In case I had to go
back again," said Heberdon.

"Don't see that it matters," commented Alcorne, "but suit yourself."

Heberdon gave Alcorne ten minutes to get out of the station, and then
reascended to the concourse. Johnson was now near the train gates, but as
there was a possibility of Alcorne's still hanging about, Heberdon did
not recognise him. On these night trains the conductor sits at a little
desk at the gate and collects the tickets before the passengers go to
bed. Heberdon went to his conductor and said, loud enough for Johnson to

"I forgot to leave you my friend's tickets. He'll ask you for them when
he comes. Name of Johnson."

Johnson, hearing this, stole away unobtrusively. Heberdon waited on the
train platform below. Presently he saw Johnson return and identify
himself to the conductor. As he came down the steps Heberdon boarded the
train. Soon Johnson joined him in the smoking compartment.

"So far, so good," said Heberdon. "Here's your night-cap. Run along to
bed. You'll have to look sharp in the morning because we've got a busy
day ahead of us."

Heberdon himself remained up until the train started to make sure his
little servant did not give him the slip.


Next morning in the dressing-room of the sleeping-car, Heberdon got into
conversation with a citizen of Baltimore. After, sounding him out a
little Heberdon said:

"My firm is sending me to Baltimore to establish a branch."

"Ah," said the good Baltimorean, immediately interested. "What line?"

"Shipping," replied Heberdon. "A new line to South America."

"If I can be of any service--" said the other. "Permit me, my card."

Heberdon, who always carried a small collection of cards against an
emergency, gave him one in return that was inscribed: "Mr. Hector

"The first thing I've got to do," went on Heberdon, "is to look about for
a house for my family. Can you give me any information?"

The Baltimorean could. In ten minutes Heberdon had acquired all that he
needed to know, about localities, et cetera. He was not so much
interested in rents. He took down the names of several agents who
specialised in dwellings.

Immediately after breakfast in the station, he and Johnson started in a
taxicab to make their rounds. It was rather a nuisance to have to drag
Johnson with him, but Heberdon did not care to let him out of his sight.
And it must be said that the docile little fellow gave no trouble. His
indifference was extraordinary. He never spoke except when he was spoken
to. He took everything as it came. It did not seem to occur to him to
wonder what Heberdon's business might be. He was content simply to sit
and dream, knowing that when his dreams began to wear thin the means to
renew them would be forthcoming. Heberdon allowed others to assume that
he was a sort of servant.

They visited many houses. Heberdon's requirements--all of which he did
not feel called upon to state to the agents--were: a respectable,
middle-class dwelling in a decent, respectable neighbourhood not too far
out; in short, such a one as might be taken for a rooming house of the
better class. The interior must be in fair condition, not too fresh nor
too dingy. There must be an earthen cellar or some other convenient place
to dispose of what Heberdon meant to leave there.

By noon he was in possession of such a house on Jefferson Avenue, the
lease signed, a month's rent paid down, and the key in his pocket. The
agent congratulated himself on obtaining a tenant who made no
disagreeable stipulations as to repairs and new decorations. The
particular reason which led Heberdon to fix on this house was that along
with it went a shed in the corner of the backyard with a plank floor.

They bought broom, mop, and other cleaning paraphernalia and carried it
home in the taxicab. Leaving Johnson with instructions to clean the hall
and the front parlour only, and all the windows in the front of the
house, Heberdon sallied out again to purchase furnishings. Since the
youth was now in a strange town without a cent of money, Heberdon felt
safe in leaving him.

Whatever Heberdon's defects of character, it must be conceded that he was
thorough in his operations, and that there was a queer artistic streak in
his make up which led him to take no end of pains with the details of his
stage effects. He had prudently provided himself with a list as follows:

Second-hand carpet for hall and stairs. See that the worn spots come in
the right places. If this is not possible, get strips of linoleum to
cover the supposed worn spots.

Old-fashioned, second-hand hat rack.

Four second-hand steel engravings of Landseer animals stained and
fly-specked if possible.

Second-hand rug for parlour. Ought to be large, showy design, roses, _et
cetera_. Linoleum strips, if necessary.

Second-hand parlour suite, much worn; tidies for the backs and arms.

Carved walnut table, with marble top; plush-covered albums and gift-books
for same; art lamp.

Miscellaneous pictures for parlour. Coloured art photographs, with showy
frames. A big oil-painting on easel, with plush drape for the top, if
possible to find it.

Iron clock; big pink sea-shells, china ornaments, _et cetera_, for
parlour mantel.

Roll of cheese-cloth for window curtains.

Hardware; tacks, tack-hammer, heavy hammer, nails, shovel, pick, crowbar,
and lantern.

Portières, with pins and rings to hang them.

During the course of the afternoon Heberdon bought all these articles,
and either arranged for their immediate delivery or carried them away
himself in the cab. They got curtains tacked up inside all the front
windows before they knocked off for the day. With the clean panes and the
strips of white hanging primly within, the house instantly took on a
respectable, habited 'look like its neighbours.

The only thing that Heberdon regretted was that he could not paste a
little strip beside the door with the legend "Furnished Rooms" upon it.
But it did not seem to be the custom in Baltimore.

During all these preparations Johnson only volunteered two remarks.

"Where are the beds?" he asked.

"That's funny!" said Heberdon. "They haven't sent them yet?"

"Will we be here long?"

Heberdon looked at him with a queer smile. "A fairish long while," he

They dined at an hotel. Afterward Heberdon, as a result of long
cogitation, composed the following telegram to Alcorne. He sent it as a
night letter, because he did not want to bring him too soon. He was not
yet ready for him. Every word had been considered and reconsidered with a
view to obtaining a carelessly natural effect.

"I got the contract signed all right to-day, and it is safe in my
possession. But I'm down with sciatica for fair. Shan't be able to move
off my back for three or four days. Makes me uneasy to have the contract
by me. Other parties might repent of the bargain and try to get it back.
Could you come down and get it Sunday? I have a room on Jefferson Avenue.
My landlady's son is sending this for me. If you can't come I could send
him to New York with the contract. Answer to the below address."

Heberdon and Johnson slept at the hotel. Immediately after breakfast they
returned to Jefferson Avenue. In the sunny Sabbath quiet Heberdon highly
approved the aspect of the house he had chosen. It was of the older
school of Baltimore domestic architecture, one of a long row of decent
plain brick fronts set off with white marble steps. Nothing could have
been more reassuring than the sedate and respectable air of the
neighbourhood, with its old trees and its well-dressed pedestrians.

Within, the next thing to attend to was the shed in the back yard.
Heberdon had carried the "hardware" out there the day before. Leaving
Johnson in the house to finish the cleaning, he went out to lay out the

It was a store-house about ten feet square. He had to leave the door open
for light, and sunshine filled the place with dancing motes and painted a
vivid rectangle on the floor. Like most of such places, it was filled
with discarded odds and ends of a household--old brooms, leaky pails,
broken crockery, and smashed furniture. Heberdon piled and swept the
litter to one side, leaving a clear space twice as big as he required.

Then, with the crowbar, he pried up the planks of the floor, careful not
to split them. The hole was of darkly significant shape, about six feet
by two. Under the cross-sleepers the dry, brown earth was revealed.
Heberdon called Johnson. When the youth came to him he said curtly:

"Dig me a hole the size of that opening."

Johnson shrank back. "A grave?" he gasped. Heberdon, sure now of his man,
took no pains to dissemble.

"What do you care?" he said callously, "undertake the job of filling it."

Johnson lowered his head and set doggedly to work.

"Make as little noise as you can," cautioned Heberdon. "It's Sunday, and
we don't want to attract the attention of the neighbours."

He went into the house to arrange the furniture, returning at intervals
to inspect the progress of the work. It went slowly because of the
interference of the cross-sleepers. Seen through the open door, the
meagre little frame of Johnson standing in the hole, laboriously plying
the shovel or piling the clods around the edge, made a picture like some
grim old etching. When it was about two feet deep he asked: "Will that

Heberdon, looking down into it, considered darkly. The youth's head was
turned away. Heberdon glanced at him with a sinister little smile.

"Another foot," he said.

Johnson set to work again.

Shortly before mid-day a telegram was brought to the door. Heberdon
opened it with trembling fingers, It read:

"Arrive Baltimore 2.20 to-day. Will come direct to your place. Don't let
the contract out of your hands. D. A."

A pink spot appeared in either of Heberdon's waxy cheeks; his eyes
glittered. "Good!" he cried involuntarily. "I can't fail now."

Johnson looked at him, vaguely apprehensive.

Heberdon surveyed his completed arrangements with a feeling of pride. So
much as was intended to be seen of the house--that is to say, the
entrance-hall and the parlour--was the middle-class lodging-house to the

In addition to the articles on his list, Heberdon had picked up various
queer gimcracks in the second-hand shops which flourish in Baltimore.
Moreover, everything looked as if it had been in place for at least
thirty years. There was supposed to be a bedroom behind the parlour, but
one could not see into it on account of the portières.

Over and over Heberdon rehearsed Johnson in the simple part he was to
play. A man would ring at the street door. Johnson was to open the door
wide. He was to look neither scared nor overbold, but just indifferent.
The man would ask for Mr. Strathearn. Johnson was to reply: "Yes, sir,
ma put him in the parlour suite, account of his back."

After closing the street door he was to knock on the parlour door, and
without waiting for any answer was then to open the door for the man to
pass in.

At this point an ugly thought occurred to Heberdon: "What if Alcorne
brought a friend." He considered it, biting his fingers. Then his face
hardened. "If he has anybody with him show them both in," he said
harshly. "And lock the front door."

The weapon Heberdon had was a round, five-pound weight of lead such as
plumbers use. This was knotted in the toe of a sock. He also had a
revolver, but this was to be used only in case of dire necessity.

At 2.20 Heberdon and Johnson were waiting, both well primed with cocaine.
A few minutes later a taxicab drew up before the house. Back from the
windows in the parlour Heberdon was watching. Johnson was in the hall; he
was to count to twenty-five before he opened the door. Alcorne got out of
the cab.

Heberdon's flesh crawled with hate at the sight of his enemy, and his
grip tightened on the black-jack. Alcorne was alone. He spoke to the
chauffeur, apparently bidding him wait. He took a seemingly careless
survey of the house. Apparently the result was satisfactory, for he came
to the steps and rang the bell.

Heberdon got behind the door from the hall and listened. Johnson played
his part well. His listless tone was just right.

"Is there a Mr. Strathearn stopping here?"

"Yes, sir. Ma put him in the parlour suite, account of his back."

Then the closing of the front door, steps crossing the hall, a knock and
the door opened. Heberdon raised his right arm. All the forces of his
being were gathered up in that blow; his face resembled nothing human.

Alcorne entered, presenting his back to the man behind the door.
Heberdon's eyes fastened on the round bald spot on his crown; he brought
the lead weight crashing down. The man dropped to the floor like a felled

But the hideous passions that were released in Heberdon were not to be
sated with one blow. With a low, bestial cry of rage he, the elegant and
punctilious, flung himself on the prostrate body, swinging the weight
again and again. Through the open door the youth in the hall watched with
clenched hands pressed to his mouth and eyes frozen in horror.

Suddenly Heberdon came to himself. Rage departed from him and left him
weak and trembling. He rose and passed his hand over his face. He looked
down at his ghastly handiwork as if he saw it for the first time.
Shuddering, he turned and, wrenching down one of the portières, roughly
wrapped it round the ruined head. Then he caught sight of the boy, and
stared as if to ask how he came there. Recollection returned; he laughed

"Well, that's done," he said in a dazed way.

"The--the cab is waiting," stuttered the boy, between ashy lips.

"Eh? Oh, the cab!" said Heberdon. "Well, go out and tell him that the
gentleman has decided to stay."

The boy broke into a dry, nervous sobbing. "I can't! I can't! I can't!" he
stuttered. "I can't show myself."

Heberdon started for the door. The boy intercepted him with a gasping

"You're all over blood!"

"Oh, am I?" said Heberdon, looking down at himself. "I didn't see it come
there. Spreads like ink, doesn't it? It's damn bad blood!"

"The cab!" wailed the boy.

"Let him wait," said Heberdon.

The prudent Heberdon had provided a complete change of clothing against
possible contingencies. By the time he had washed and dressed in the
kitchen he knew just what he was doing, though he felt shaky. A shot of
cocaine gave him renewed courage. He returned to the front door outwardly
self-possessed, though he averted his head from the object lying inside
the other doorway.

To the cabman Heberdon said: "My friend is obliged to remain for a
while. He doesn't want you to wait. How much?"

The chauffeur perceived nothing out of the way in the look of the pale,
well-dressed young gentleman who spoke with the habit of command. He
named his price, received it, and drove away.

Returning to the house, Heberdon sneered at the spectacle of the
shattered Johnson, who was crouched in a corner of the hall like an
idiot. In order to restore him to some semblance of usefulness, he gave
him a stiff dose of the drug they set such store by. Under its influence
Johnson became his useful self, a little more apathetic perhaps, a little
more hopeless.

Together they dragged the body to the rear of the hall, where anybody who
might possibly chance to look through the parlour windows could not see
it, and flung the remaining portière over it.

"Tack down a piece of linoleum over the stain in the rug," ordered

Johnson obeyed.

"There's nothing we can do now until dark," his master said. "We'll have
to wait."

"Not here!" muttered the youth. "Let's go out--and come back."

Heberdon shrugged indifferently.

They spent the intervening hours riding aimlessly out of town and back
again in various trolley-cars. It was nothing to them where they went or
what they saw, for both were existing in the Nirvana of the coca leaf.

When it was as dark as it was likely to become on a fair summer night
they returned to the house. Neither had eaten. Up and down Jefferson
Avenue all was peace; pleasant little family parties were gathered on the
steps of the various houses; light laughter and the murmur of quiet
voices were in the air. There was nothing in the outer aspect of the
number that was their destination to suggest that it was any less
peaceable than its neighbours. The girls next door looked with curiosity
at the two young men who entered.

But once inside, a subtle odour met their nostrils. It caused them to
shiver and their hair to rise, a little, notwithstanding the fresh doses
of cocaine. Heberdon, counting the remaining papers, found that he had
but four. "But it will be enough," he said to himself with a sinister
smile into the darkness.

Before touching the body Heberdon prudently changed back to the soiled
clothes he had taken off earlier. He dropped the weighted sock in his
side pocket. Johnson had but the one suit.

"I'll have to be careful," he said, thinking of his garments.

Heberdon smiled again without replying.

Between them they carried the body across the yard and into the shed in
the dark. It was cold and already beginning to stiffen. Closing the door
of the shed, they lit the lantern. Lowering the body into the hole
promised to be somewhat of a difficult matter on account of the sleepers
running across.

Heberdon's eyes, darting everywhere, took in the lay of the land, and he
laid out his plans accordingly. He put the lamp down just inside the door
of the shed and dragged the body up to the other end of the grave.

"I'll lower him in at the top," he said. "You get down in there. Crouch
down under the cross-pieces, and pull him toward you by the feet. No,
turn around, or you'll get in your own way."

Johnson obeyed in his usual docile fashion. This brought him with his
back to the lantern. Heberdon lowered the body into the grave, and the
youth, crouching, drew it toward him and between his feet. Heberdon moved
around to the foot of the grave as if to see better. He knelt behind
Johnson, all the time issuing instructions:

"Take it slow. Just ease him along. Stay where you are and grab him
higher up. That's it. Now he's set!"

Heberdon's hand stole to his side-pocket. As the youth, having completed
his task, straightened up, the blackjack swung again and crashed down.
The youth fell forward over one of the sleepers without a sound, and hung
there with swinging arms, like a sawdust doll. One blow was enough for
him. There was a depression in the back of his skull almost as big as a

Heberdon straightened up. "There's a happy release from your miseries,"
he muttered.


On the way back to New York in the train Heberdon reflected with perfect
clearness and calmness on what had happened. The pleasant humming in his
brain helped him, he decided, to look at matters in the right light.

"Safe under two feet of earth...The boards neatly nailed down, and fresh
dust sifted into the cracks; the rubbish piled on top just as it was...No
danger of anything rising out of that hole to trouble me in
future...Everything is all right--all right."

From the number of times he felt called upon to assure himself that
everything was all right, it may be guessed that there was a little fear
at the bottom of his consciousness that would not be stilled.

"Nobody will disturb the house for a month--more than a month; for the
agent will call for his rent a couple of times before he goes so far as
to break in...It will cause talk, of course, to find the house like that,
just one room furnished--but just local talk...They wouldn't go nosing
around for a body just on spec...Somebody has to be missed before they
think of looking for a body.

"The news of Alcorne's disappearance will never reach Baltimore. A little
talk around Mellish's chophouse. Nobody cares enough about him to start
an investigation...As for Jack Blighton and Cora, they'll simply be
relieved when he stops coming around...Everything is all right.

"Suppose, a long while from now, the shed should be pulled down or the
floor taken up? Why, I'll be in South America...What is there to connect
the general counsel of the Managuay Public Utilities with a case in
Baltimore? Why, nothing, of course...Everything is all right.

"According to the fiction-writers, I ought to be a prey to remorse
now...Am I a prey to remorse? Not so that you could notice it I It was a
good deed to put that beast out of the way. I'll never lose any sleep
over him. A good job well done...I feel fine!"

He held his hand out in front of him and studied it attentively. "It only
shakes a little bit. That's the dope...Well, I'm ready to start tapering
off now--to-morrow. Everything is all right."

To his second victim he never gave a thought.

He had not had much sleep during the past few nights, and in the course
of the journey he dozed in the chair car--dozed and dreamed that he was
still awake, as one so often does; still sitting in his chair with the
New Jersey landscape flying by. But the chair in front of him, which had
been empty before, was now occupied. He could not see the face of the
person in it, only the top of his head over the back. Suddenly, he
perceived that the head was oddly crushed in. An icy hand was laid on his

"Turn around! Turn around!" he thought he whispered. "Let me see your
face--if you have a face."

The chair in front swung slowly, and Heberdon found himself looking into
a pair of inexpressibly mournful eyes that plumbed his very soul. Terror
broke over him like a tidal-wave blotting out the universe. He was
frantic with it, but he could not move nor make a sound.

"Only twenty years old!" the youth murmured. "I never knew life. I never
knew joy. I never knew love!"

Heberdon thought: "If he keeps this up I shall go mad!...Am I not mad

The youth murmured: "Do you remember what it was like to be twenty years
old? Do you remember what a clean and jolly old place the world was for
you then?"

With the magic of dreams the figure dissolved, and in its place Heberdon
saw himself as he had been at twenty--an uncommonly good-looking boy,
with his regular features and delicate fair skin, a sparkle in his eyes
and a song on his fresh lips. He heard an echo of the old song:

"Sweetheart, when you walk my way,
Be it night or be it day,
Dreary winter, faery May,
I shall know and greet you."

The once-loved air brought back the very smell and taste of that time. An
intolerable agony wrenched Heberdon's breast. For an instant he saw with
flame-clearness the difference between that figure and the one that was
his to-day.

"God help me!" he seemed to cry. "What has happened to change me so? What
will become of me now?"

He suddenly became aware of the vibrating car again, with the double line
of people sunk in their magazines or staring out of the windows
listlessly. The conductor was beside him.

Heberdon fumbled in the wrong pockets with a distraught air. He was
trembling, sweating.

"Are you sick, sir?" asked the conductor.

Heberdon shook his head. "A little dizzy spell," he murmured. "It's

When the man had gone on, Heberdon went to the end of the car for a
restorer. It was his last shot--but he was nearing New York.

It was mid-afternoon on Monday before he got to the office--he had to
make a side trip to Gibbon Street first--but Judge Palliser was out of
town, and no explanation was called for. During the remaining office
hours he made a great pretence of business, a hollow pretence, for his
nerves were jumping like crickets.

"I'm taking too much," he thought. "To-morrow I'll begin to taper off."

In his distempered state he turned to the thought of Cora like a thirsty
man to a woodland spring. In the horrible sense of unreality that
unnerved him--his dreams were more vivid than his waking sensations--she
was a fixed point; she was something to cling to. She was very real; her
honesty, her sweetness, her wonderful vitality, could cool the fever that
was burning him up.

Of course, he would not admit all this. He merely said to himself: "I've
punished her enough now. I can go back there"

But he dared not go Monday night, for he had promised Ida to come to
Marchmont, and after disappointing her over the week-end, to break it
would be a serious matter.

He spent a wretched evening sitting on the broad verandah of the
Pallisers', listening to the family talk. The judge was away from home,
and Cyrus was calling on his girl. The others held forth in their usual
styles, paying scant attention to each other; Mrs. Palliser on the
subjects of marketing and servants, Amy Steele on dear Herbert, Dean
Heberdon lecturing from a very tall platform, and Ida--the family
censor--putting them all in their places. From her corner Aunt Maria
Heberdon was telling an endless story about journeying from Syracuse to
Rochester in a canal-boat seventy years ago, the point of the tale being
that at meal-times there was a plate with five cookies between her and
her sister Elizabeth Ann. And Elizabeth Ann always got the odd one. Such
were the old lady's reminiscenses.

All this was torment to Heberdon in his jumpy state. He sighed with
relief when the party broke up for the night. Ida expected him to linger
for a tête-à-tête, but he could not face it. Pleading fatigue, he went to
his room. Not that he wanted to go to bed; he had an extraordinary dread
of closing his eyes. But at least in his room he had the means of
forgetfulness--so long as he kept awake.

He did not undress, but took a book down and essayed to read. No go. The
printed characters danced like imps before his eyes. At the same time an
immense weariness threatened to overpower him. He dared not give in to
it. He had all the lights turned on. Sitting in a chintz-covered easy
chair in the pleasant room, he tried to discipline his mind.

"Look here, this can't go on--I've got to have sleep...I don't believe in
anything I can't touch. These are only imaginary terrors...I can control
my imagination the same as any other part of me. I will not be afraid...I
will sleep!...Suppose I dream again?...Well, suppose I dream? A dream's
only a dream--there's nothing in it. When you wake up it's over."

Heberdon's thoughts tailed off. But it seemed to him that he was still in
the act of admonishing himself when the meagre little figure in the
ill-fitting new suit came into the room; or rather he suddenly was there,
for Heberdon did not see him enter. A groan was forced from the bottom of
Heberdon's breast. He clasped his hands over his eyes, but he saw him as
plainly as ever; he pressed his thumbs into his ears, but he still heard
the soft, mournful voice:

"Twenty years old! Twenty years old!"

"I am going out of my mind!' thought Heberdon.

"Seventy years is the span of a man's life," the voice went on. "In
killing me you killed fifty years of mine."

"It's a lie!" cried Heberdon. "You wouldn't have lasted the year out."

"I might have been saved. It is easy to save the young."

"Your life was a hell. I released you."

"You are not God," was the quiet reply.

"Have pity on me," moaned Heberdon. "You are at rest, and I have to go on

"You are only at the beginning of your torments."

"Leave me! Leave me!"

"I will never leave you. Whenever you close your eyes I will be there.
You may drug yourself as you choose. I will be there to hold up the truth
to you.

"I will never touch another grain!" cried Heberdon.

"So you say every night," the inexorable soft voice went on, "and every
day you take more."

"I will stop."

"You cannot stop. If you were deprived of it you would fall to grovelling
and screaming like me."

"Have mercy!" moaned Heberdon.

"Lost! Lost! Lost!" said the dreadful voice. "There is no hope for you!"

Suddenly the scene changed, and Heberdon found himself in the sordid
little shop on Gibbon Street among the fly-specked boxes of soap and
patent medicine cartons. He was dreadfully conscious of empty pockets and
of a gnawing pain in his vitals. With clasped hands he made his prayer to
the furtive and evil face behind the counter for a dose, a single little
dose to save his manhood. The man laughed and jerked his head toward the
door. Then it seemed to Heberdon that his racked frame could stand no
more; he flew to pieces; he was no longer a man, but a bundle of naked
red filaments, each separate one of which conveyed the pain of hell to
his breast. He heard some one yelling.

He found himself sitting in his chair in the lighted, chintz-hung
bedroom. Young Cyrus, in pyjamas, was beside him, shaking him violently
by the shoulder.

"For Heaven's sake, what's the matter with you?" the boy was saying.

Heberdon stared at him stupidly. For an instant he thought it was that
other boy.

"I--I must have been dreaming," he stammered. Cyrus gave a loud laugh.
"Well, cut it out! You've got the whole house going now!"

Heberdon pressed his splitting head between his hands. Relief--and a new
terror filled him.

"Wh-what was I saying?" he stammered, scarcely able to shape the words.

"Nothing, only yells," said Cyrus, with another laugh. "'Fraid of giving
something away, eh? Why don't you undress? What you got the room lighted
like a gin-palace for?"

"I fell asleep over my book," stammered Heberdon, "Well, turn in and get a
fresh start," said the boy, starting back to his own room.

Heberdon sat staring before him. "Oh, my God, what an escape! I must not
sleep again to-night...I must never sleep again in this house. How can I
get out of it?...How can I sleep anywhere if I am going to betray myself
in dreams? There must be a drug to keep one from dreaming."

Turning out the lights, he paced the room until daylight.

He dared not go to town before breakfast; that would have been to invite

At whatever cost he had to run the gauntlet of the breakfast table. In
reality the ordeal was not a very severe one, but to the horribly
sensitive Heberdon it was bad enough.

Innumerable feeble jokes were made at his expense, particularly by young
Cyrus, but fortunately people are blind. Heberdon looked like a corpse,
but they merely ascribed it to overwork at the office.

From the station he took a cab to Gibbon Street. His flesh crawled as he
entered the little shop. There he had stood in his dream. There was the
proprietor behind the counter. But the expression on that worthy's face
was now very different. He was grinning oleaginously and rubbing his
hands to see Heberdon so soon again.

"Look here," began Heberdon brusquely, "I'm sleeping badly."

"I understand," said the other instantly. "Bad dreams."

Heberdon scowled, not pleased to have his complaint so unerringly

"It's very common," the other went on. "I am often consulted about it!"

"Can you do anything for me?" demanded Heberdon.

"I certainly can. I have the very thing. A discovery of my own."

"What is it?"

"I call it--er--sopora," was the reply, with an inimitable leer. "From
the Latin _sopor_, meaning a deep sleep."

Is it--er--dangerous?"

"Dangerous!" cried the other with, an astonished air. "Harmless as

"But in connection with the--er--thing I am taking?"

Its natural complement. Your drug keeps you on your toes during the day,
and sopora lets you down at night. Many of my customers take them
together without the slightest ill effects."

"Well, give me some," said Heberdon impatiently. "Unfortunately it's a
very rare drug," began the other deprecatingly.

"How much?"

"I'm obliged to charge a dollar a dose."

Heberdon shrugged. "Give me enough for a couple of weeks."

While his package was being wrapped, some impulse prompted Heberdon to

"That was a wretched specimen I saw in here last week."

The druggist shrugged in an annoyed way.

"A down-and-outer," he remarked, "not worth bothering about."

"Do you know anything about him?"

"What should I know about him?"

"His name?"

"I've heard him called Dopey Joey, that's all."

"Has he got any folks?"

"Oh, they threw him out long long ago. He took to eating drugs in school,
they say. His father was a civil service man, too."

"What name?"

"How should I know?"

The storekeeper's curiosity was aroused in turn.

"He followed you up the street, didn't he?" he asked.

Heberdon had an internal shiver of apprehension.

"Oh, only to the corner," he said quickly. "I had a cab waiting there."

As that day wore on, the murk in Heberdon's head began to be lightened by
a ray of hope.

"I'll see Cora to-night...When I make it up with Cora everything will be
all right; my mind will be at ease; I'll be able to get a fresh
start...No dreams will trouble me when I have Cora...She's real!"

But it was thirteen days since he had seen her, and no word had come from
her directly in all that time. Not all the cocaine he was taking was
sufficient to prevent harrowing anxieties from rising. In the effort to
reassure himself his brain evolved queer processes of reasoning.

"It was that blackguard Alcorne that made trouble between us...Now that
he's out of the way, everything will be all right. I did it for her sake.
He was always a plague to her...He put me in a bad light that day. I'll
soon remove that impression...After all, she loves me. Nothing can change
that...Everything will be all right."

On his way out to Greenhill Gardens in a taxicab he was as near softened
as Heberdon had ever been.

"Cora! Cora! My God--how sweet she is! Her eyes like twin evening
stars!...I'll humble myself if it will please her. She's worth it...I've
got to have her on any terms--any terms! When she comes to me I'll be all
right again."

John Blighton opened the door to him as usual.

"Good boy, Frank!" he cried. "I was just wishing for a friendly face to
cheer my lonesomeness."

Heberdon's heart went down like a stone. "Lonesomeness?" he echoed

"Cora's gone away on a trip. Didn't she let you know? We expected you out

"A trip?" faltered Heberdon. Despair knocked at his breast. He had
counted on her terribly. "Where?"

"Went with a tourist party up to Newfoundland by sea. She looked so
peaked and done up I made her go. The hot weather, I guess. She'll be
back Monday week."


On the evening of "Monday week" Heberdon was on his way to Greenhill
Gardens again. Of the intervening times it is unnecessary to say much. He
had got through it by virtue of doubled and redoubled doses of cocaine by
day and "sopora"--which one may guess is very much better known under
another name--by night. Thanks to the sopora he had not been visited by
any more such shattering dreams, but the combined attacks of the two
drugs in reckless doses had had a visible effect. In thirteen days he
looked older by as many years. At the office they were beginning to
glance askance at him.

That afternoon just before leaving, Judge Palliser had sent for him.
The judge was in a very bad temper.

"The Managuayan business is off," he said bluntly. "Why?" Heberdon had

"The I.F.C. won't have you, that's all."


"Why? Why? Why? They asked you for an opinion on the contracts, didn't
they? It took you two weeks to furnish it, and then it showed an utter
lack of grasp of the subject; utter! Nice position that puts me into.
After boosting you for the job! I don't blame them in the least. I can
see it myself. What's got into you I can't imagine. I'll give you a month
longer here to get some kind of grip on yourself. If you can't you'll
have to go. I can't risk another such fiasco! Run along, now. I've no
patience to talk to you."

Heberdon had left his office in a daze. Later, after boosting himself up
with the usual means, he was filled with a febrile rage not unmixed with
terror. Now, on his way out of Greenhill Gardens he was still fulminating

"I'll show him! I'll show him! I won't work out the month in that sink.
I'll fling my job in his face tomorrow! Thank God, I've the wits to take
what I want when I want it! I'm glad the thing's done with! I won't have
to go up to Marchmont any more. Stupid hole! I'll get ahead of Ida by
writing her to-night and telling her it's all off. We'll see how he feels
when he has her back on his hands! Then I can spend every night with
Cora! By Heaven, I'll marry her on the level and set her up as Mrs. Frank
Heberdon. That will be a slap in their faces!

"Ought to have done it in the beginning--married Cora--I treated her
badly just to save my relations' feelings, and this is the thanks I get
for it! I'll make it up to her now. Oh, I'll be sure of her then. I need
her! I need her! Cora's worth a hundred of Ida. I'll be safe with Cora.
She won't let me go down. She couldn't!"

Thus, in spite of any amount of cocaine, the frantic terror was bound to
poke its head up in the end. Another blow awaited him. He dismissed his
cab at the kerb and rang the bell of No. 23. The old man opened the door,
but his usual grim heartiness was missing. He looked disconcerted at the
sight of Heberdon. He did not invite him to enter.

Heberdon, horribly sensitive to the shades of people's bearing toward
asked sharply:

"Where's Cora?"

Dissimulation sat very ill on old Jack. He looked off into space as
embarrassed as a schoolboy. "Had to go out," he said. "I'm just stepping
out to the club myself. Come along with me and have a touch."

Heberdon cast down his eyes to hide the utter confusion there. He could
not very well refuse to accompany Jack, and the two walked away from the
house sedately enough. Fireworks were whizzing in Heberdon's brain.

"There's another man in the house, and she sent her father to get rid of
me. Another man! Another man!"

Blighton found a safe subject for conversation in his garden. He had
caught the infection from his neighbours. He was aware of nothing absurd
in the spectacle of the old freebooter cultivating the soil in his
declining years.

"Had two cauliflowers for dinner to-night. First I've raised. They wasn't
very big, but, man, the flavour was ambrosial! Guess it's been too hot.
I'll try 'em again for fall. You should see my string-beans. Thick as
fleas on a squirrel and still coming! The stalk worms got my squash,

Heberdon contrived to make sympathetic sounds even while the rockets went
off in his head.

"Damned lying jade! Just like all the rest of them! By Heaven, I'll make
her regret the day she lied to me! I'll show her I'm not the man to be
trifled with! But I must be cagey--bide my time. Let her think she's
pulled the wool over my eyes. Then strike suddenly and terribly!"

Blighton's "club" proved to be a cosy little saloon in a less
fashionable suburb across the railway line. They sat down and called for
refreshments. But naturally it did not work. Blighton was horribly
constrained. He could not bring himself to speak naturally of Cora, and
he couldn't think of anything else to talk about. He was concerned, too,
for the wild look which Heberdon could not altogether hide, yet his
natural delicacy forbade him to inquire into the cause of it.

After two drinks Blighton rose abruptly, saying: "Well, I must get back
home and turn in for a needed rest. Early morning's the only time to work
a garden. I'll see you on the trolley."

Heberdon allowed him to do so; rode two blocks toward town, and then
returned on another car. He hastened back to Deepdene Road. As before,
No. 23 showed no light in front, but upon stealing around the house he
saw a bright crack edging the lowered blinds of the den upstairs.

"He's still there," he told himself,

Across the road there was a little open space with trees and shrubbery.
Here Heberdon took up his place in the impenetrable shadows.

At length he heard the door of No. 23 open--the door was in the side of
the house and out of his range of vision--and caught good-nights and
laughter; laughter that turned like a knife in his breast.

"She can laugh while I am suffering the torments of hell," he thought.

A tall, masculine figure strode down the little walk to the street, and
turned in the direction of the trolley line. There was a debonair swing
to the shoulders; young shoulders indubitably. He walked fast, with a
lift in his steps. Across the road Heberdon hurried after him on his

The man in front never thought of turning his head. By-and-by he began to
whistle cantily.

"Damn him! Damn him!" thought Heberdon. "When I'm through with him he
won't be whistling!"

At the trolley line the man in front waited, whistling, and swinging on
his heels, for a car bound citywards. Heberdon hung back in the shadows
watching and scowling.

In the brightly lighted car that they both boarded, Heberdon got his
first good look at the other. He saw a boy in his twenties with a high
colour and a sparkling blue eye. He was tall and strong and exceedingly
well-favoured; and that he was not altogether unaware of his good looks
somehow added to his attractiveness. He betrayed it in the slightly
picturesque quality of his dress and in the hint of a swagger. But there
was good sense and good feeling in his face too, in the eyes, eyes prone
to light up with friendliness, in the lips turned up ready to smile.

Heberdon became a little dizzy with hatred at the sight; the freshness,
the clean blood, the unimpaired vigour. He did not need to be told that
this youth enjoyed his meals, slept well o' nights, and loved life. The
implied contrast was unendurable; in the murky depths of his
consciousness was born the determination to besmirch the brightness and
to befoul the clear stream.

Hatred gave him a certain clairvoyance in regard to the character of the

"Innocent as a baby! All on the surface. He's to be had for the asking.
Anybody could win him with a pretence of friendliness--and a little
flattery. I'll make him my own--and then--"

At the Manhattan end of the bridge the young man changed cars, and
Heberdon changed with him, but remained this time out on the platform
where he could watch him unseen. They changed again to a Lexington Avenue
car and rode down to Twenty-Fifth Street. Here the light-hearted youth
jumped off and hurried west without a suspicion that anybody in the world
had any reason to track him. Heberdon was on the other side of the
street. The young man ran up the steps of a house near the corner, one of
a long row, and let himself in. Heberdon crossed the street to examine
the house. Beside the door-frame there was a little white ticket with
"Furnished Rooms" upon it.

Heberdon smiled to himself. "This is too easy!" he reflected.

He went back across the street and marked the light that sprang up in the
window of the third floor hall-room. The young man appeared there and
pulled down the blind.

"So-long, until to-morrow!" said Heberdon with an ugly smile, and turned

Once the hateful spectacle of vigorous and comely youth was removed from
his eyes, true to his nature he started busily to reassure himself.

"There's nothing to fear in him! No half-baked cub like that ever obtains
a strong hold over a woman. Not a young woman, anyhow. When I've removed
him she won't know he's gone. But she mustn't know what's going on. I'll
scrape acquaintance with without her knowing."

Before going down-town next morning, Heberdon returned to the house on
Twenty-Fifth Street in the guise of one looking for a room. Of the
several vacancies in the house he chose the third floor rear, and paid
his rent. He did not see the youth; the door of the hall-room was open
and he had already gone for the day. Heberdon explained that he was a
traveller who would not often be at home, but he had to have a
stopping-place. The landlady was well pleased to have such a one.

It need hardly be said that Heberdon did not throw up his job at the
office. He had to hang on to somebody, and his repulse at 23 Deepdene
Road had the inevitable effect of making him slavishly anxious to please
the family lot. He wrote an affectionate letter to Ida to the effect that
he was terribly sorry he couldn't come up that night, but the judge had
hauled him over the coals for neglecting his business, and he was going
to work nights at the office to see if he couldn't catch up, _et cetera_.

Immediately after dinner he carried a bag to his new quarters. Upon being
shown upstairs he observed with satisfaction that there was a crack of
light showing under the door of the front hall-room on his floor. On
being left alone he studied out a little plan of action. He left his bag
open on the table and slipped an envelope in it; hid the match-safe, and
taking a cigarette, went and knocked on the door of the room in front. It
was pulled open with a bang. The young fellow was in his shirt sleeves, a
book lay open on his desk.

None could be more friendly and ingratiating than Heberdon when he had an
object in view. "Sorry to disturb you," he said. "I'm the new lodger in
the back. They don't seem to have left me any matches. Can I borrow one?"

"Sure thing!" cried the youth, diving for his match-safe.

Heberdon lit up--and lingered. "Studying?" he asked, with a nod toward
the book.

"No, only reading a yarn to pass the time," was the reply.

"Is it a good one?"

"So-so. I'm not much for reading, I guess. I like to be doing something."

"Same here," said Heberdon.

"Sit down and chin a while, if you're not busy," said the young man with
a shy warmth.

When Heberdon showed a disposition to accept, he sprang to bring forward
the only chair the little room contained. For him there remained the bed
to sit on.

"I suppose if we're going to be neighbours we ought to be friendly,"
remarked Heberdon, taking the chair.

The youth showed two rows of creamy teeth. "Bully!" he cried. "I don't
know a soul in the house. When you meet them in the hall they look at you
as if you were a pickpocket! I'm Paul Alvey!"

"I'm Frank Drury," said Heberdon. He reflected: "If I should meet him
later at the Blightons I can lie out of it. I'll tell Cora I was on a job

"Haven't I seen you before somewhere?" asked Alvey.

"Not that I'm aware of," said Heberdon with an innocent air.

"I have it! Didn't you ride in on the car from Greenhill Gardens last

"Why, yes," said Heberdon, affecting surprise. "I don't remember seeing

"I was right under your nose," laughed Alvey.

"I got on at King's Terrace," said Heberdon negligently. "I've got a girl
out there."

The youth blushed and smiled ingenuously. "I was seeing a girl out there,
too. But she's not mine, unfortunately!"

"Nor ever will be," thought Heberdon, lowering his eyes.

They were soon talking like old friends. Heberdon had read his man aright
in guessing that he was warm and impulsive. It never occurred to Alvey to
examine the quality of the offered friendship; he met it more than

It seemed quite natural for Heberdon to ask, by-and-by: "What's your

"Hudson Electric Company," was the answer.

"That's the big concern on the river-front, isn't it? What do you do

"Assistant cashier."

Heberdon pricked up his ears. "Perhaps that's my first move," he thought;
"to queer him with his bosses." He said carelessly: "Pretty good job,
isn't it?"

"So-so. What's a beggarly twenty-five a week nowadays? I've got to pull
down a bigger cluster of raisins than that! But I stay with them because
they've promised me the first branch office that falls vacant. Only the
branch managers are so damn healthy!"

"You're young," said Heberdon.

"Twenty-four," said the other as if he were getting anxious about it.
"Besides, a fellow might want to marry," he added self-consciously.

A horrid little pain stabbed Heberdon. His thought was--though he would
have died rather than confess it: "What a beautiful young pair they
would make!" He said hastily: "What does an assistant cashier have to do?"

"Oh, keep the petty cash and look after the pay-roll."

"Pay-roll?" said Heberdon.

"Yes. Keep the register of the employees, you know. Post up from the time
cards, and make up the envelopes."

"Pay-roll?" repeated Heberdon very offhand. "That must run up to a good
bit of money weekly."

"Over seven thousand."

Heberdon thought: "If I could lift that somehow, and fasten it on him!"
Then aloud, feeling his way: "I should think making up the pay envelopes
would be a job in itself."

"Oh, no, the cashier helps me with it. We used to do it Saturday
mornings, but now that the force is increased, we draw the money on
Friday and work Friday night until it's finished."

"I wouldn't like to have the responsibility for such a sum of money
in that part of the town at night," observed Heberdon.

"That's nothing!" was the heedless reply. "This Friday I'll have it to do
alone. The cashier's having his wooden wedding, or something."

Heberdon quickly lowered his eyes.

"I expect I'll be at it most of the night," added Alvey with a laugh.

"All alone in that building?" asked Heberdon softly. "Oh, the locks are
strong, and there's a perfectly good watchman."

"Oh, if there's a watchman in call--"

"He's not exactly in call. He sits downstairs just inside the street
door. I only see him once an hour when he makes his rounds."

"Isn't the office on the ground floor?" asked Heberdon.

"No, the top; worse luck. After hours it's a case of walk up, four

"I hope your wind is good," remarked Heberdon facetiously. How do you get
in after hours if the watchman isn't at the door?"

"Oh, I have my own key," said the rash youth.

Heberdon thought: "This is beginning to shape up. I'll get an impression
of that key. No more questions now. I can return to it later."

"Come into my room," Heberdon suggested. "It's cooler. The breeze is on
that side to-night."

Alvey followed him willingly.

They talked for a couple of hours. Heberdon laid himself out to be
friendly and sympathetic. Under his subtle questioning he gradually laid
the young man's soul bare. It was not very difficult. Sympathy unlocks
young hearts, and Alvey was not experienced enough to perceive that
Heberdon's was a skeleton key.

In the end they came around to talking of girls, of course. Paul was very
earnest on this subject.

"I never understood girls until lately," he said. "Don't laugh! I don't
mean that I understand them now, but I know now what they may mean to a
man. I used to think of girls as sort of playthings--oh, out o' sight,
you know, but just something to have fun with. Just lately I met one that
changed all that. She looked at me once, and I lost myself. I don't mean
a baby stare; no, sir, this one was grave and simple. She didn't know
what she was doing to me. Since then everything is changed for me. This
is for keeps, you understand. There could never be another for me like

Heberdon turned his head away. "How did you meet her?" he asked softly.

The ingenuous Alvey was delighted to answer the question. "This year I
took a trip to Newfoundland for my vacation," he explained. "By sea, you
know. She was on the ship. Never will I forget the moment I saw her
first. I got on board early, and I was leaning against the rail by the
top of the gang-plank, looking 'em over as they came aboard, you know.
Making up my mind what the prospects for sport would be on the trip. She
had her head down as she came up the plank, and I coughed to make her
look up. Lord, what a fool a fellow can be till he's been through the
fire. It makes me hot all over now when I think of that cough.

"Well, she looked up, and she saw a foolish enough sight, I don't doubt.
Me looking bright-eyed, you know the way a fellow does. But not at a
woman like her. Not twice! She had her revenge on the spot. Those eyes
struck me to the heart. I faded.

"She was alone. Oh, what luck. What luck! I bribed the purser to give me
a seat beside her at the table. So I was able to be with her from early
morn till dewy eve. Eating, walking the deck, sitting wrapped up in the
chairs. She let me read to her. That was a cinch, for I could tell, her
things with my voice, while just reading the words of the book, you know.
Oh, those two weeks were better than half a lifetime of paying calls on
shore! But one day or a hundred it would have been the same with me. For
me the bell struck with that first look."

"Does she--er--reciprocate?" asked Heberdon, inwardly writhing.

"I don't know," young Paul replied simply. "Sometimes I think yes;
sometimes I think no. She makes out to treat me like a child, though I'm
two years older, really. She is very kind to me. Sometimes I wish she
wasn't so kind. She jollies the life out of me, but her eyes are soft. I
swear I don't know whether it's the real thing, or just the kindness her
tender heart might throw to a dog."

Heberdon breathed a little easier. "Nothing serious has happened," he
told himself. As a means of covering his agitation he made a feint of
unpacking his bag.

"Have you got a picture of your girl?" asked Paul shyly. His fingers
hovered over his inner breast pocket. A frightful pain transfixed

"She has given him her picture!" he thought. "By God, if he shows it
to me, I can't hold myself! I know I can't!" Aloud he said hastily:
"No, it's in my trunk."

Paul's hand dropped from his pocket. He rose. "Well, I suppose I must
go," he said. "To-morrow's a working day."

The time had come for Heberdon to put into effect the little play he had
been thinking about all evening. From his valise he drew the plain white
envelope he had slipped there. He had to rest his hands on the frame of
the valise to conceal their trembling.

"Look," he said with a light laugh, "what a fellow I know, a drug-clerk,
gave me to-day."

"What's in it?" asked Paul.

"Cocaine. The joy-stuff, he called it."

Paul drew close, his eyes bright with an unholy curiosity. "Let me see."
From the envelope he drew one of the little folded papers and opened it.
His hands were steady. "Looks just like talcum powder," he said. "Has no
smell at all."

"What did you expect?" asked Heberdon, laughing a little unsteadily.

"They say this wrecks men, body and soul!" remarked the youth.

"Oh, of course, if it gets a grip of you," said Heberdon carelessly. "My
friend says there's an elegant jingle in it."

"Put it away! Put it away!" cried Paul in mock terror. "This is no sugar
for a good young man's tea!"

"This is only half the smallest dose," said Heberdon dreamily. "I'll try
one with you, just for the thrill."

"No, thanks!" rejoined Paul. "I find life exciting enough without any
artificial thrills!"

"They say a man ought to try everything once."

An expression of genuine concern appeared in Paul's honest face. "Take my
advice, Drury, and throw the damned stuff out of the window. You looked
at it like the cat at the canary. If you feel like that about it, it
would get you sure. Throw it out of the window!"

Heberdon saw that he had lost. Concealing his feelings, he did, indeed,
throw the envelope out of the window.

"Well, good-night," said Paul.

Heberdon did not turn from the window. "Oh, by the way," he said, "I've
got to go up to Gansevoort Street at noon to-morrow. That's near your
shop. I'll call for you and blow you to a lunch, if you like."

"Fine!" said Paul.

"All right. Expect me at twelve-thirty."

When the door closed, Heberdon turned around livid and trembling. His
face was distorted like a maniac's. He could not have endured the strain
another five seconds. He glided to the door like a cat, and stood there,
flinging up his clenched hands in a mute gesture of hate.


Heberdon did not remain at the Twenty-Fifth Street house for the night,
but returned to Gramercy Park. In order to get any sleep it was necessary
for him to increase the dose of "sopora" again, and consequently in the
morning to take more cocaine to rouse himself. When he finally started
out, his brain was like a horse running a race on a treadmill; it
galloped but it got nowhere. Every day now it was becoming more and more
difficult to think things out to a conclusion.

All morning he was busy with the idea of robbing the Hudson Electric
Company. The preliminaries offered no special difficulties. Easy enough
to borrow the key while Alvey slept--Heberdon had already satisfied
himself that the careless youth left his door unlocked at night--and easy
enough, probably, once he was armed with the key, to avoid the watchman
on his rounds. He could tell better about that after he had had a look at
the building.

But after reaching the office floor, how to deal with Alvey was the
problem that stumped Heberdon for the time being. Of course he could
always bludgeon him, but that would defeat his own purpose. The seven
thousand was only incidental; what he desired was to ruin Alvey, and of
course if the youth were found lying helpless on the floor no blame would
attach to him for the robbery. Heberdon racked his brains for an
expedient whereby he might fasten the crime on him.

"Of course I might give him his quietus for keeps," thought Heberdon.
"But that would let him out too easy. I want to drag him down first. I
want him to suffer. I want him to suffer as I do!"

By noon no expedient had occurred to him. He went to take the youth out
to lunch as agreed. His purpose in so doing, of course, was to get the
lay of the land.

The Hudson Electric Company occupied its own building on the river front,
a busy, teeming neighbourhood by day. On the ground floor there were
storerooms and shipping platforms, with the office entrance and elevator
at one side. The next three floors were devoted to manufacturing, while
the show-rooms and offices occupied the fifth floor. The concern
manufactured electrical appliances of all kinds.

On entering from the street, Heberdon's first glance was for the lock on
the door. His experienced eye recognised it as one well known to him. It
had been invented by a policeman, and was non-jimmyable. Just inside the
door the elevator was waiting, and he had no opportunity at the moment to
pursue his investigations as to the interior of the building.

On the top floor he was let out into the stair-hall, which by means of a
door of wired glass opened into the show-room. This occupied more than
half the floor. There were no partitions. The office was at the rear, the
cashier's cage in a corner. The cage was not visible from the elevator
until you passed through the door of wired glass.

Heberdon thought: "Damned awkward if the lights are turned on. I've got
to get the door open and get down half the length of the floor without
being spotted. And at that he's protected by a cage."

As he came closer he saw that by some inadvertence the cage had been left
open at the top. One could, therefore, scramble up the side and drop in
without any trouble. But what would the inmate of the cage be doing

Alvey welcomed Heberdon blithely--and seizing his hat, joined him outside
the cage.

Heberdon forced himself to resume the air of friendly interest. "So this
is your joint," he said, looking about. "It's quite imposing. Just the
same I wouldn't care about being here alone at night. Suppose a hold-up
man came creeping down among the showcases in the dark?" he added

"Still running on that?" responded Alvey, joining in the laugh. "You
can't scare me. The lights will be turned on full, and I've got a trusty
gun in the drawer of my desk."

Heberdon thought: "The hell you say!" He appeared to drop the subject.
"Well, it's a great place," he said admiringly. Do they mind visitors?"

"Not a bit of it!" answered Alvey. "Let's walk downstairs and look in on
each floor as we pass." This was exactly what Heberdon desired.

Out in the hall, Heberdon observed that the stairs ran on up. "I thought
this was the top floor," he said carelessly. "What's up there?"

"There's a sort of little bungalow built on the roof," Was the answer.
"The engineer lives there with his family, and the watchman boards with

In this hall in the rear there was another door which Alvey opened. "This
is the demonstration-room of the new Keith light. I'll give you a

Heberdon attended with a polite interest, thinking meanwhile: "There's
no lock on the door. This room would make a possible hiding-place."

As they descended through the various floors, Alvey continued to play the
demonstrator. Heberdon observed that none of the doors giving on the
stair hall from the work-rooms was fitted with locks. Possibly this was
on account of fire regulations. They were double-section doors, swinging
both ways.

Heberdon thought: "Easy enough to sidestep a watchman if he wasn't
looking for you--wear rubber-soled shoes."

As they passed out of the building, Heberdon observed a push-button high
up on the door-frame.

"What's that for?" he asked.

"Rings a big bell in the hall. It's to call the watchman if you want to
get in after office hours. They put it up high out of reach of the street

The lunch was a very amicable affair. Heberdon exerting all his
self-control, forced himself to listen to more of Alvey's artless
confidences. Alvey thought he had never met so friendly and sympathetic a
fellow, Alvey did not refer again to Cora. Upon separating, Alvey
volunteered to introduce Heberdon to a good cheap restaurant in the
neighbourhood of their rooming-house, and they arranged to meet there at
half-past six.

In the meantime something happened to Alvey, for he turned up at the
meeting-pace like a youth transformed; there was an added shine to his
blue eyes, his movements were jerky and spasmodic, he progressed abruptly
from fits of dreamy abstraction to bursts of hilarity. Heberdon,
affecting to notice nothing, waited with a sick feeling of apprehension
to hear the explanation.

There was a mirror beside their table, and though he would not look in
it, Heberdon was horribly conscious of the contrast between Alvey's red
comeliness and his sallow lantern jaws. Heberdon played with the scarred,
tinned knife at his place.

"If it were sharp! If I dared slash with it--"

As Alvey made no offer to confide the cause of his new joy, Heberdon was
finally obliged to ask casually:

"What's happened? You act as if you'd come into a fortune."

"Better than that!" cried the youth. "I got a letter--such a letter!
Beyond all expectations! I'm really beginning to think that maybe--Oh, I
can't talk about it!"

Further than that he would not be drawn out. Heberdon kept his eyes down.
His food was like ashes under his palate.

Alvey was in haste to finish his meal. "Got to bathe and dress," he
explained. "I'll give you a pointer, Drury. When you want a hot bath in
our house don't wait till bedtime."

"Going out to Greenhill Gardens?" asked Heberdon--with what he intended
to be a jocular grin--but it was more like the grimace of a soul in

Alvey was not very perspicacious. "No such luck!" he said. "Got an aunt
up in Harlem. Got to do the dutiful up there once a week."

They proceeded to the rooming-house, and went to their respective
quarters. Heberdon left his door open. In a few minutes Alvey sailed by,
his tall form encased in a bath-robe.

"Me for the suds!" he cried gaily, and went down the stairs.

Heberdon heard the bath-room door slam, and the key turn in the lock. The
opportunity was too good to be missed. Slipping along the hall he entered
Alvey's little room. The youth's clothes lay on the bed where he had
flung them. It was the work of a few seconds to pull out his key-ring and
find the key marked with the name of the lock he knew, and press it into
the little form of wax that he had ready.

There was something else Heberdon wanted. His trembling fingers sought
the inside pocket of Alvey's coat. He drew out a thick, square envelope
of a style he recognised, superscribed in Cora's big, half-formed hand.
The faint, alluring fragrance that emanated from it brought her so
vividly close that Heberdon turned a little faint and leaned against the
bed-head for support. He read:

"DEAR BOY,--I've exercised the privilege of changing my mind, I will come
and help you "make up pay" on Friday night. It will be fun doing it
together. But I refuse to be admitted to the building and shown upstairs
by a strange man. You say the watchman is away at his dinner from seven
till seven-thirty. Very well, I will present myself at the door at
seven-fifteen, and will ring three times. You tell the watchman
beforehand that you're expecting one of the girls back to help you, and
that you will let her in. I don't suppose he knows all the office girls
by sight. And then if he sees me in the cage later, it will be all right.

"Until Friday, Yours, C."

Scarcely knowing what he was doing, Heberdon. shoved the letter back in
its envelope, and the envelope in the pocket. Somehow, he got back into
his own room, and flinging himself down, pressed his head between his
hands and tried to think. But no order would come out of the crazy
confusion of his head. All he was aware of was a voice screaming:

"She's going to him there! Alone together in that building! Alone
together! Alone together!"

He took a dose of cocaine. Immediately after each dose he still enjoyed a
lucid interval--an interval that ever became shorter. He needed it now.

As the false clearness settled on his brain, he went over and over the
words of the letter--no danger his forgetting any of it! "Make up the
pay," in quotation marks. To Heberdon the quotation marks could have but
one significance. Cora had tempted the enamoured youth. They planned to
lift the seven thousand together. Of course! Of course! That was why she
was so particular to have the watchman out of the way!

A crazy exultation took the place of Heberdon's despair. "What a fool I
was to torment myself! She doesn't love him! She's using him! Just as
they used me in the Union Central affair. He's their latest protégé. God
help him!"

Suddenly a baleful ray of light struck athwart Heberdon's brain. He
clapped his hands down on his thighs. "By Heaven! Quarter past seven! The
watchman at supper! The three rings! They're playing right into my hands!
This was all I needed to know! I'll get the money, and get square, too!

"I'll be there ten minutes ahead of her and let myself in with my key.
I'll hide myself in the little demonstration-room on the top floor. At
seven-ten I'll have somebody give the three rings. Alvey will go chasing
down the stairs. I'll slip back to the cage and get the seven thou--

"Not finding anybody at the door, Alvey will hang around a bit. I'll
sneak on down the stairs. If I hear him coming back I can slide into any
of the work-rooms. When she does come he'll bring her upstairs and I'll
walk out with the money. Then let him explain to her--and to his
bosses--where the money went!"

Before Alvey came upstairs from his bath Heberdon was out of the house.
His objective was a quiet little hotel in Fourth Avenue where Crommelin
lived. Heberdon had met Crommelin several times at 23 Deepdene Road, and
was on good terms with him; sufficiently good at any rate for his present

He found Crommelin in the reading-room of the place, looking a little
seedy and dispirited. So much the better. Crommelin himself was
astonished at the change in Heberdon's appearance, but he was much too
astute to make any comment upon it.

"How are things?" asked Heberdon.

"Rotten! No luck lately."

"I've got a trifling job on," said Heberdon carelessly. "Too small to
attract you, perhaps."

"I need coin," rejoined Crommelin simply.

"I'm going to make a little touch at the Hudson Electric Building
to-morrow," Heberdon went on. "I've arranged how to get it and all that,
but I need a friend for a moment outside. At exactly ten minutes past

"Daylight?" interjected Crommelin.

"Sure! Just the hour when nobody is looking for trouble. At ten minutes
past seven I want you to press the button three times at the elevator
entrance to the building. That's all. Press the button three times, and
walk on. There's five hundred in it for you. I suppose you know I'm good
for it."

"Oh, any friend of Jack Blighton's--" said Crommelin.

"Are you on, then?"

"I'm on," said Crommelin succinctly.


Upon leaving Crommelin, Heberdon returned to the Gramercy Park house,
consequently he did not see Alvey again. That night he doubled his dose,
and again in the morning. Upon this day all restrictions were thrown to
the winds. Whenever he felt a shiver of apprehension; whenever that
bottomless gulf seemed about to yawn at his feet, he took more cocaine,
and he soon lost all account of the amount. No human frame could stand

"It doesn't matter about to-day. The lid is off today! I can go as far as
I like! It's only one day. To-morrow everything will be all right. My
mind will be easy. To-morrow I'll begin to brace up in earnest."

He had no breakfast; the thought of food was loathsome to him. Some time
during the morning in a lucid interval he started down-town to get the
key he needed from Nicholson. Something happened to him on the way, for
the next thing he knew he was entering the locksmith's shop. He must have
walked the entire distance.

He got the key--for a fancy price and no questions asked, and leaving the
place automatically turned in the direction of the office. But he never
arrived there. A sort of gray fog seemed to roll over his consciousness,
and when it lifted he found himself in a street strange to him--a wide
street with tall tenement-houses rising on either hand, but with grass
growing between the cobble-stones. "This is a dream," thought Heberdon.
On a lamp-post he read the name of the street: Pleasant Avenue. He
laughed, and the sound rang strangely in his own ears. The fog descended

He next found himself in upper Third Avenue; he knew it by the Elevated
road and the big, cheap stores. He was still walking--and desperately
weary. He got on a car bound he knew not where. He was sure he knew where
the Third Avenue cars went, but he could not quite remember. The next
thing he knew he was being roughly ejected at the end of the line. He had
wit enough to wait and take the next car back to town.

He had no recollection of getting off the car, but he presently found
himself on the Bowery, rolling from side to side of the pavement like a
drunken man. Some boys were following him, jeering. He felt no shame, but
an immense self-pity. "The poor fellow hasn't eaten all day!" he thought.
Entering a lunch-room he forced himself to eat a sandwich and drink a cup
of coffee, though the stuff was nauseating. He continued to sit there in
a daze until he was invited to leave in no uncertain tones.

He made his way along the thronged sidewalk of Houston Street, bound
east. He had a vague notion of calling on his friend the druggist, though
he was not in need of his wares at that moment, having several shots of
cocaine in his pocket and more at home. Though he had but lately taken a
dose, he still felt distressful and was trembling.

"The damn stuff doesn't make me happy any more," he reflected, and the
hot tears rolled down his cheeks.

Suddenly he perceived that he had a companion in his walk--the little
youth with the big eyes was beside him. He had no hat on, and the
crushed-in place on the back of his head was very conspicuous. But
Heberdon was not terrified this time; he was too far gone inside; he was
conscious only of a fretful irritation.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded. "It's not night, and I'm not
asleep, I'm walking the street."

"I'm walking with you," replied the youth.

"Where's your hat? It's not decent coming out like that?"

"Nobody can see me but you."

"You're trying to make out I'm crazy!" cried Heberdon in a febrile rage.
"You lie! I know exactly what I'm doing!"

The other made no reply, but simply gazed at Heberdon. There was no
particular expression in his eyes. It was just a stare.

"What are you looking at?" snapped Heberdon.

"A lost soul!" was the quiet reply.

"You lie!" said Heberdon again. "I've got half a dozen shots in my pocket
and plenty of money to buy more when that's gone--plenty? You'll never
see me screeching and hollering for it!"

"It will not be long!" remarked the other.

A white-hot flame of rage leaped up inside Heberdon. Turning, he seized
his tormentor with both hands around the throat, and shook him like rat.
It was real flesh and blood that he had between his fingers, too; there
was an exquisite satisfaction in that.

Suddenly Heberdon received a violent shock. He came to to find himself in
the street surrounded by a pushing, swaying crowd, some of whom looked
indignant, but the most merely brutishly curious. One of the angry men
had a grip on his arm. On the other side of the circle a boy was
sniffling, rubbing his eyes and pointing out Heberdon.

"It was him done it," he whimpered. "I wasn't doing nothing. He come
along, talking to himself and waving his arms. He grabbed me and tried to
choke me. He's looney!"

"Call a policeman!" said the man who had hold of Heberdon.

For an instant Heberdon saw his situation clearly, and turned sick with
terror and dismay. He instinctively thrust a hand in his pocket, and
pulling out a roll of bills, handed one to the man and one to the boy.
The temper of the crowd changed. A rich lunatic was another matter. The
man let go his arm, and the circle opened to let him pass. "Bug-house,
all right," they said as he fled. He ran across the street, and presently
had the luck to see a taxi approaching empty. Hailing it, he flung
himself in with a sob of relief.

He had no recollection of dismissing the cab. He found himself over on
the west side of town on Canal Street. Happening to look up at a street
clock he saw that the hands were pointing to ten minutes to seven.

"It's time to get to work," he said to himself, without any sense of the
absurdity of "getting to work" in his present condition.

The river was just ahead of him, and the Hudson Electric Building but a
few blocks to the north. As it loomed up, a tower-clock somewhere was
striking seven. He still had five minutes to spare. He sat down on a
shipping platform. He was not worrying about his lapses of consciousness;
that was the most significant thing of all about his condition. He seemed
to himself to be perfectly free from agitation and self-possessed.

Meanwhile the peace of evening was settling on the river-front. The
trucks had ceased to rattle and the gong to ring. Such few People as live
along there were gathered outside the doorways for the sake of the cool
air. On other shipping-platforms sat pairs of longshoremen playing
draughts on chalked squares with bits of brick for red men and and coal
for black. Across the street in the wide open space before the pier
fronts the horse trucks were now stored for the night, row upon row in a
disappearing perspective up the street.

At five minutes past the hour Heberdon strolled up to the door of the
electric building and coolly let himself in with his key. The unreal
quality of everything prevented him from feeling any excitement or
nervousness. He went through with it like a man in a dream. Once inside
though it did occur to him that he needed every ounce of his wits for the
job ahead, and he paused at the foot of the stairs and took a shot of
cocaine. The sense of unreality passed for the moment.

He looked down at his empty hands in surprise. "Why, I've forgotten to
bring the satchel to carry the stuff away in," he thought in surprise.
"How came I to do that? I'll have to stuff it in my pockets. Or wrap it
in paper. And I was going home for my gun."

He softly climbed the stairs, his head bent to catch the slightest
untoward noise. There no sound to be heard throughout the building.

On reaching the top floor he found that the door giving on the show-room
had been caught back on a wedge to permit the passage of air. Though it
was still bright out of doors, the stairway was some distance from the
windows, and where Heberdon stood the light was dim. He ventured to drop
to the floor and stick his head a few inches inside the doorway. So far
so good. Down at the end of the floor he clearly made out the solitary
figure in the cashier's cage counting money. Heberdon gloated a little at
the sight. He could not see the man's face because of a shaded electric
light which hung before it.

While he looked, the man leaned forward to reach for something, and
Heberdon got a strange shock. The man looked older than Paul Alvey,
different, somehow. Heberdon's faculties slipped. Confusion filled him.
He drew back into the hall. What had happened? What error could he have
made in his calculations? It mast be Paul Alvey. Had he not made a date
with Cora to come there that night. Heberdon told himself his eyes had
deceived him.

Before he could look again the great bell sounded three times in the hall
below. At any rate Crommelin had not failed him. Heberdon hastily let
himself into the demonstration-room, and softly pulled the door to.

Crouching inside he waited, listening for the footsteps of the man in the
cage. He was strangely long in coming. And when he did come it was with
deliberate steps--not the haste of a lover. He paused in the hall
immediately outside the door where Heberdon was.

"Oh, Patterson!" he called.

_It was not the voice of Alvey_! Heberdon's head swam again.

A door opened above, and a voice came down: Yes, sir?"

"Did you hear the bell?"

"Yes, sir. I'll be right down."

"You finish your supper. I'll go. It may be a message for me."

"All right, sir. Thank you, sir."

The door closed above, and the man in the hall went downstairs with
leisurely steps. Heberdon tried in vain to think clearly. He could carry
out a preconceived plan automatically, but he was quite incapable of
meeting a new situation. In spite of the evidence of his senses he clung
to the preconceived idea.

"It must be Alvey! It must be! I've only heard him talking a couple of
times. Maybe he's excited and his voice sounds different. Anyhow, the
money's there. Get it!"

As soon as the descending figure turned the stairs, Heberdon slipped out
of his hiding-place and hastened back to the cashier's cage. It was the
work of a moment to scramble up the outside of the wire grating and drop
inside. There was no money in sight. Heberdon pulled out one drawer after
another in the breast-high desk. No money! In his search he scattered the
papers wildly. In the drawer nearest the door he saw the revolver.

No money! His brain reeled again. Suddenly he perceived the safe behind
him. Dropping to the floor he laid trembling fingers on the handle. It
was locked! That flame of blinding rage shot up in his brain again. They
had cheated him! Then the fog rolled in!

He was recalled to reality by hearing an amazed and angry voice cry:
"What the hell are you doing in there?"

Outside the cage he saw a tall man with a resolute and outraged face.
"Patterson! Patterson! A thief!" the man called loudly.

Heberdon thought instinctively of the revolver he had seen. Jerking out
the drawer he snatched it up. The man outside dropped behind one of the
office desks for cover. He redoubled his shouts for help. Heberdon flung
open the door of the cage and ran out. The man was caught in a corner
between the desk and a railing, and Heberdon, running around the desk,
pointed the gun at his head.

"Stand up!" he commanded hoarsely. "Put up your hands!"

The man obeyed with alacrity.

"Stand where you are," said Heberdon, "or I'll blow the top of your
head off!"

Heberdon began to back toward the stair hall. In his preoccupation with
the man in front, he overlooked the possibility of danger from the other
direction. Suddenly a pair of strong arms were flung around him, one of
which knocked up his pistol arm. The gun exploded harmlessly. The
newcomer secured the weapon.

The shock was too much for Heberdon's tottering nerves. As in that
ghastly dream it seemed to him that he flew to pieces. He slipped into
the bottomless pit at last. He had the sensation of falling endlessly
through space. The face of the youth with the big eyes seemed to be
pressed close to his own.

"It has come!" the face whispered.

Again Heberdon heard the wild screams he was not conscious of uttering.

"Be quiet!" commanded the man who held him.

"Take him away! Take him away!" yelled Heberdon.

"What's the matter with him?" asked the man helplessly.

"Dope," said the cashier laconically. "Look at his eyes!"

Heberdon, with a last instinct of self-preservation, struggled to reach
the change pocket of his coat. "Let me get it!" he gasped.

"No, you don't!" said his captor, taking a fresh grip on him.

"For God's sake let me get it!" moaned Heberdon. "It's not a gun!"

"See what's in that pocket," said the man who held him.

The other searched and drew out the little folded papers. "Just as I
thought!" he cried contemptuously. Crumpling them up he tossed them away.

A despairing scream broke from Heberdon.

"Some poor bug who has just wandered in," suggested the watchman.

The other man shook his head. "He was in the cage. He was after the
pay-roll. Lucky I locked the money in the safe before I went downstairs.
How did he get in the building?"

"Search his other pockets."

The cashier found Heberdon's key, and hastily compared it with a key of
his own.

"A key to the street door!" he said grimly. "There's no accident about
this. That ring at the door was just to draw me away from the cage. He
had a confederate outside."

"Well, he ought to have cut out the dope before tackling a job like
this," declared the watchman grimly. "I'll turn him over to the police.
Give him a shot for Mike's sake! I can't take him out yelling."

The cashier picked up the stuff where he had thrown it. The watchman
partly released Heberdon, and he was allowed to take his dose. A measure
of quiet returned to him. He stood shaking all over, his head sunk an his

"There's an object-lesson for you!" said the watchman grimly. "Come along
with you!"

"Want me?" asked the cashier.

"You've got your work to do. I guess can handle this athlete without
assistance. I'll whistle for a cop at the door. When you're through your
work you'll have to go round to the station house."

Twisting his hand in Heberdon's collar, the watchman thrust him toward
the stair hall. The cashier went back to his cage.

Heberdon's brain was working fairly clearly now. A desperate terror
nerved him.

"If they put me behind the bars they'll take my coke from me--my sleeping
powder. He'll come back. It will kill me! I must do something--something!
Better be killed at once--"

The watchman was pushing Heberdon downstairs a step in advance of him. It
was his right hand that he had twisted in the captive's collar. He had
put the gun in his pocket. Heberdon was on the side of the stairs nearest
the hand-rail. On the next to the last flight an idea occurred to him.

"If I flung my left arm up and back I could hook him round the neck and
sling him forward--grab the rail with my other hand to keep him from
pulling me after--"

The action followed hard on the thought. It was successful. The watchman,
taken unawares, pitched headlong down the stone stairs, Heberdon remained
clinging to the rail. The watchman landed in a heap at the foot. But he
was not completely disabled. He managed to get to his hands and knees and
to shout for help in a voice hoarse with pain.

Heberdon did not try to pass him, but vaulting over the stair rail,
dropped to the landing below. Only one flight remained. He ran out into
the blessed free air of the street. The wide, empty thoroughfare offered
no cover except among the empty wagons across the car tracks. Heberdon
darted across, and bending double, lost himself among the wheels.

Safely hidden, he squatted on his heels and looked back under the wagon
bodies to see what would happen. The cashier was the first to appear at
the door. He looked up and down the empty street at a loss. The watchman
appeared behind him, bent with pain, and supporting himself against the
door-frame. He put a police-whistle to his lips and blew shrilly.
Heberdon waited for no more.

Doubling and twisting around and under the empty trucks, he finally
emerged in the narrow lane between the last line of them and the pier
buildings. Here, hidden from the street outside, he could run at top
speed without interference. The ranks of trucks ended at Christopher
Street ferry. A cross-town car was just starting. Heberdon swung himself
aboard and was carried away to.. safety.


As soon as the urgent danger passed, Heberdon's bra in began to slip
again, but with a difference. It was not the fog of apathy that obscured
his faculties to w, hat the poisonous gas of rage. That white-hot flame
burned through his brain like an acetylene torch.

"He trapped me! I was a fool to think him so simple! All the time he was
drawing me out, and planning how to trap me. Cora helped him I Oh, God,
they planned it together--laughing She wrote that letter just to decoy
me, and he left it in his pocket where I would find it! But I'll show
them! To-night! First him and then her. Unless I find them together."

He went to his rooms and got his revolver. Ho walked the five short
blocks that separated Gramercy Park from Twenty-Fifth Street. It still
lacked a few minutes of eight o'clock, and the streets were bright. He
let himself into the rooming-house with his key. He bowed to his landlady
in the lower hall. Outwardly he was collected enough, and that worthy
woman had no idea that it was a madman who passed her, grasping a loaded
revolver in his side pocket.

He went direct to Alvey's room and knocked. There was no answer. He tried
the door; it yielded. The room was empty--empty and _stripped_! All of
Alvey's little belongings were missing, and his trunk had been removed.
Heberdon looked around him stupidly, and then returning downstairs,
called the landlady out into the hall. He was still fingering the
revolver, and was quite capable to shooting her as a party to the
conspiracy against him.

"Where's Alvey?" he demanded.

"Left to-day," she said, with a pleasant zest of one who has a real bit
of news to impart. "Most unexpected. Had a sudden business call out of
town, he said. Permanent. I guess he must have got a step up, for he
seemed real pleased. Such a nice young fellow! Paid me an extra week's
rent so I wouldn't lose nothing on the room, though he wasn't bound to do
it. I always did like Mr. Alvey; so much the gentleman! I always said it.
I says to him to-day: Mr. Alvey, whenever you come back to town--"

In the middle of this communication Heberdon turned abruptly and left the
house. Then, for the first, she did suspect his sanity a little.
She went out on the stoop, and stared after him until he turned the
corner of Lexington Avenue. She never knew how close she had been to
death. She never saw him again.

Hailing the first taxicab that approached, Heberdon ordered the driver to
take him out to Greenhill Gardens. During the long drive up to
Fifty-Ninth Street, across the far-flung bridge and out through the
suburbs, he changed one crazy mood for another. The top of the' cab was
down and the breeze cooled his burning head. He let go of the revolver.

"Poor, poor Cora! A thief, and the daughter of a thief! She never had a
chance! Before I kill her I'll give her one. I'll offer to marry her and
lift her out of the mire. Marry her under my own name, too! We'll see
what they say to that!"

He dismissed his cab. Old John opened the door to him, but there was no
welcome in his grim face, nor any embarrassment either.

"Where's Cora?" asked Heberdon.

"Gone away," was the uncompromising reply. Things spun around Heberdon's
head. "Wh--where?" he stammered.

The old man's face hardened. The veins stood out on his forehead. "I
don't know as I've any call to tell you," he said. "You're either drunk
or doped. I'll tell you this, though. Before she went sic wrote a letter
to you, and sent it to the Madagascar. You'll find it there."

He closed the door. Heberdon fumbled with the gun. But even his anger was
swallowed up in the chaos that filled him. Turning, he went stumblingly
down the walk.

An hour later he turned up at the Madagascar. Next morning the clerks at
the desk recollected his visit, and the extraordinary, inhuman look of
the man was explained. He got his letter, but dimly conscious of the
curious stares upon him, he would not read it there. He strutted out of
the hotel, and taxied to Gramercy Park. Standing alongside his gate-leg
table he slit the envelope with the jewelled poniard that he had once
designed for another purpose. A whiff of the well-remembered fragrance
dizzied him. He could not read the words of the letter until he had
snuffed up another of the white powders.

"DEAR FRANK,--Perhaps silence would be best, but I feel that I must write
you. I wish you to know that I have forgiven you, and that in my heart I
will always be your friend, though I never see you again. I loved you in
the beginning; you knew that because I could not hide it. Perhaps it
would have been better for me if I had. You never cared for me except for
my looks, which is the least part of me. You wanted me too cheap. I have
my pride, too. Though it wasn't pride that stopped me, but just common
sense. You seemed to think that a girl shouldn't have any sense. It
annoyed you. I saw that we would be miserably unhappy together. Once you
possessed me you would have tired of me. I had no influence over you. In
your heart you despised me. I cannot understand a love like that. Nobody
will ever know what you caused me to suffer; but truly, that is all over
now, and there is no bitterness remaining. I have learned that there are
different kinds of love. Perhaps one cannot build a lifetime of happiness
on the blind and passionate kind.

"I am going to marry another man--I shall be married to him by the time
this reaches you. He is a good and generous boy who loves me with all his
heart. There is no doubt about that. He is older than I really, but he
seems years younger. He needs me. And I long to take care of him. Perhaps
I shall be happiest so. And I shall have my dearest wish, too, to run
straight, to be like other people. I need not live in dread like my poor

"You must not think I have been keeping this from you. I didn't make up
my mind until to-day. To-day he got the offer of a responsible position
in the West. He had to leave within a few hours and didn't know when he
could get back. He came and begged me to go with him. I took my courage
in my hands and told him all about myself, about my feeling for you, too.
He stood up under it. He said, even so, he'd be lucky if he got me. So we
are going away to a place where nobody knows us to get a fresh start.

"I think of that other woman. She must love you, and perhaps with your
better self you love her. With me it was only a kind of excitement. I beg
you to go to her and tell her everything. You are going down where the
way is steep, Frank. If she loves you, she will forgive. And you two can
get a fresh start also. It is my dearest hope.

"Your friend,


Heberdon glanced around the room. Everything within it rocked before his
eyes. His face turned hideous with rage and pain. His brain seemed to
burst into flames. He clapped his head between his hands and screamed in

"Gone!" he cried aloud. "Gone--with him! In his arms by now, making a
mock of me!" A torrent of foul vituperation burst from his lips.

But the pain in his head was insupportable. It beat him to the floor,
where he writhed, clawing at the rug. The paroxysm finally passed,
leaving him gasping. Another would kill him, he knew. He dragged himself
on hands and knees to the stand where he kept the book that hid his store
of cocaine. He took another dose on top of the last.

As a flame shoots up before it dies the burnt-out brain responded for the
last time to the stimulus. His body seemed to lose all weight. He got to
his feet. He walked on air. Like a frog, he puffed up with his old
delusions of self-importance. He laughed horribly.

"What do I care? I'll show them! I'll show the whole world how much I
care! There is nobody like me! I'll show them what kind of man I am!"

He sat down at the table, and pulling paper toward him, started to write
in characters big and small in lines that run up and down hill:

"TO THE EDITOR OF THE DAILY SPHERE,--Sir--I am the cleverest crook in
America. I collect tribute where I choose. The police are helpless
against me. I play with them like ten-pins. Look behind any of the big
successful robberies lately and there you will find me. To mention only a
few, it was I who held up the Princesboro bank single-handed. That was
the result of a bet with some of my friends at the Chronos Club. To be
sure, I didn't get away with the coin on that occasion, because my taxi
blew out a tyre. But that wasn't my fault.

"There was no accident when I held up the money-car on the Flatwick
Elevated road. Your paper said it was the work of a gang of three or
four, but you lied as usual. I did it single-handed. I prefer to work
alone. I can depend on myself. I only got a beggarly seven thousand out
of the job, but it was rather amusing; the five men I held up were such a
white-livered lot. Five or fifty, it's all the same to me.

"By this time you have guessed that it was I who carried out the great
Union Central robbery. Right. Equal to the best exploits of Jack Sheppard
and Dick Turpin, you said. They were picayunes beside me. Did they ever
gather in sixty-six thousand at a single haul? Besides, they were hung
and I'm very much alive. And I'll do bigger things than this before I'm
through. On this occasion I had a girl working under my orders, but the
whole scheme was mine from start to finish. I simply lifted the bag of
coin out of the taxi, dropped it in a bigger bag, walked into the station
and took a train. Really, it was too easy.

"There was a man got in my way, a well-known bad character, called Dick
Alcorne. Around Times Square they're asking what's become of, him. Well,
I'll tell you. I decoyed him down to Baltimore, and cracked him over the
head in a house I rented on Jefferson Avenue. He was a low fellow, a
dope-fiend, and guilty of every crime. In putting him out of the way I
was a public benefactor. His body is buried under a shed in the yard at
the address given. Oh, a second body will be found there, too. That's
only a little dope-fiend I picked up on the street who helped me. I had
to croak him, too. I don't know his name.

"As you will perceive by this letter, I am a man of education and
breeding. My family has been prominent in New York for four generations.
Judge Palliser is my uncle, Mrs. Pembroke Conard is my aunt. Besides the
Chronos, I belong to several well-known clubs. I'm a man of means. I only
engage in these affairs for the fun of it. Men are such fools,
particularly policemen and newspaper reporters, that they are beneath my
contempt. It amuses me a little to play with them, but as I say, it's too
easy. Publish this and let them catch me if they can.


He stopped writing only because his brain was beginning to blaze again.
He enclosed his letter, addressed it, and slipped it in his pocket.
Leaping to his feet he caught the edge of the table cover and jerked it
from the table. With a savage kick he then capsized the table itself.
Looking around he picked up the chair, and swinging it about his head he
made short work of everything in the room that was breakable.

"I'll show them! I'll show them!" he cried.

Jamming on his hat he went reeling down the stairs and out into the dark
street followed by the astonished gaze of the hall-boy.

Outside, the little youth with the big eyes was waiting for him.


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