The White Moll
Frank L. Packard
Part 5 out of 5
Danglar's little black eyes narrowed. She caught a sudden glint of
triumph in them. It was Danglar now who laughed.
"Not much longer!" His voice was arrogant with malicious
satisfaction. "The luck had to turn, hadn't it? Well, it's turned!
I've got the White Moll at last!"
She felt the color leave her face. It seemed as though something
had closed with an icy clutch upon her heart. She had heard aright,
hadn't she? - that he had said he had got the White Moll at last.
And there was no mistaking the mans s sinister delight in making
that announcement. Had she been premature, terribly premature, in
assuring herself that her identity was still safe as far as he was
concerned? Did it mean that, after all, he had been playing at
cat-and-mouse with her, as she had at first feared?
"You - you've got the White Moll?" She forced the words from her
lips, striving to keep her voice steady and in control, and to
infuse into it an ironical incredulity.
"Sure!" he said complacently. "The showdown comes to-night. In
another hour or so we'll have her where we want her, and -"
"Oh!" She laughed almost hysterically in relief. "I thought so!
You haven't got her yet. You're only going to get her - in another
hour or so! You make me tired! It's always in 'another hour or so'
with you - and it never comes off!"
Danglar scowled at her under the taunt.
"It'll come off this time!" he snarled in savage menace. "You hold
that tongue of yours! Yes, it'll come off! And when it does" - a
sweep of fury sent the red into his working face - "I'll keep the
promise I made her once - that she'd wish she had never been born!
D'ye hear, Bertha?"
"I hear," she said indifferently. "But would you mind telling me
how you are going to do it? I might believe you then - perhaps!"
"Damn you, Bertha!" he exploded. "Sometimes I'd like to wring that
pretty neck of yours; and sometimes!" - he moved suddenly toward her
- "I would sell my soul for you, and -"
She retreated from him coolly.
"Never mind about that! This isn't a love scene!" she purred
caustically. "And as for the other, save it for the White Moll.
What makes you think you've got her at last?"
"I don't think - I know." He stood gnawing at his lips, eying her
uncertainly, half angrily, half hungrily. And then he shrugged his
shoulders. "Listen!" he said. "I've got some one else, too! And
I know now where the leak that's queered every one of our games and
put the White Moll wise to every one of our plans beforehand has
come from. I guess you'll believe me now, won't you? We've got that
dude pal of hers fastened up tighter than the night he fastened me
with his cursed handcuffs! Do you know who that same dude pal is?"
He laughed in an ugly, immoderate way. "You don't, of course, so
I'll tell you. It's the Pug!" Rhoda Gray did not answer. It was
growing dark here in the shed now - perhaps that was why the man's
form blended suddenly into the doorway and wall, and blurred before
her. She tried to think, but there seemed to have fallen upon her
a numbed and agonized stupefaction. There was no confusing this
issue. Danglar had found out that the Adventurer was the Pug. And
it meant - oh, what did it mean? They would kill him. Of course,
they would kill him! The Adventurer, discovered, would be safer at
the mercy of a pack of starved pumas, and...
"I thought that would hold you!" said Danglar with brutal serenity.
"That's why I didn't get around till now. I didn't get back from
that chase until daylight - the she-fiend stole our car - and then
I went to bed to get a little sleep. About three o'clock this
afternoon Pinkie Bonn woke me up. He was half batty with excitement.
He said he was over in the tenement in the Pug's room. The Pug
wasn't in, and Pinkie was waiting for him, and then all of a sudden
he heard a woman screaming like mad from somewhere. He went to the
door and looked out, and saw a man dash out of a room across the
hall, and burst in the door of the next room. There was a woman in
there with her clothes on fire. She'd upset a coal-oil stove, or
something. The man Pinkie had seen beats the fire out, and
everybody in the tenement begins to collect around the door. And
then Pinkie goes pop-eyed. The man's face was the face of the White
Moll's dude pal - but he had on the Pug's clothes. Pinkie's a wise
guy. He slips away to me without getting himself in the limelight
or spilling any beans. And I didn't ask him if he'd been punching
the needle again overtime, either. It fitted like a glove with what
happened at old Luertz's last night. You don't know about that.
Pinkie and this double-crossing snitch went there - and only found
a note from the White Moll. He'd tipped her off before, of course,
and the note made a nice little play so's he'd be safe himself with
us. Well, that's about all. We had to get him - where we wanted
him - and we got him. We waited until he showed up again as the
Pug, and then we put over a frame-up deal on him that got him to go
over to that old iron plant in Harlem, you know, behind Jake Malley's
saloon, where we had it fixed to hand Cloran his last night - and the
Pug's there now. He's nicely gagged, and tied, and quite safe. The
plant's been shut down for the last two months, and there's only the
watchman there, and he's 'squared.' We gave the Pug two hours of
solitary confinement to think it over and come across. We just asked
him for the White Moll's address, so's we could get her and the
sparklers she swiped at Old Luertz's place last night."
Still Rhoda Gray did not speak for a moment. She seemed to be held
in thrall by both terror and a sickening dismay. It did not seem
real, her surroundings here, this man, and the voice that was
gloatingly pronouncing the death sentence upon the man who had
come unbidden into her life, and into her heart, the man she loved.
Yes, she understood! Danglar's words had been plain enough. The
Adventurer had been trapped - not through Danglar's cunning, or
lack of cunning on the Adventurer's own part, but through force of
circumstances that had caused him to fling all thought of
self-consideration to the winds in an effort to save another's life.
Her hands, hidden in the folds of her skirt, clenched until they
hurt. And it was another self, it seemed, subconsciously enacting
the role of Gypsy Nan, alias Danglar's wife, who spoke at last.
"You are a fool! You are all fools!" she cried tempestuously.
"What do you expect to gain by that? Do you imagine you can make
the Pug come across with any information by a threat to kill him
if he doesn't? You tried that once. You had him cold, or at least
you thought you had, and so did he, that night in old Nicky Viner's
room, and he laughed at you even when he expected you to fire the
next second. He's not likely to have changed any since then, is he?"
"No," said Danglar, with a vicious chuckle; "and that's why I'm not
trying the same game twice. That's why we've got him over in the
old iron plant now."
There was something she did not like in Danglar's voice, something
of ominous assurance, something that startled her.
"What do you mean?" she demanded sharply.
"It's a lonely place," said Danglar complacently. "There's no one
around but the watchman, and he's an old friend of Shluker's; and
it's so roomy over there that no one could expect him to be
everywhere at once. See? That let's him out. He's been well
greased, and he won't know anything. Don't you worry, old girl!
That's what I came here for - to tell you that everything is all
right, after all. The Pug will talk. Maybe he wouldn't if he just
had his choice between that and the quick, painless end that a
bullet would bring; but there are some things that a man can't
stand. Get me? We'll try a few of those on the Pug, and, believe
me, before we're through, there won't be any secrets wrapped up in
Rhoda Gray stood motionless. Thank God it had grown dark - dark
enough to hide the whiteness that she knew had crept over her face,
and the horror that had crept into her eyes. "You mean" - her voice
was very low - "you mean you're going to torture him into talking?"
"Sure!" said Danglar. "What do you think!"
"And after that?"
"We bump him off, of course," said Danglar callously. "He knows
all about us, don't he? And I guess we'll square up on what's
coming to him! He's put the crimp into us for the last time!"
Danglar's voice pitched suddenly hoarse in fury. "That's a hell
of a question to ask! What do you think we'd do with a yellow
cur that's double-crossed us like that?"
Plead for the Adventurer's life? It was useless; it was worse than
useless - it would only arouse suspicion toward herself. From the
standpoint of any one of the gang, the Adventurer's life was forfeit.
Her mind was swift, cruelly swift, in its workings now. There came
the prompting to disclose her own identity to tell Danglar that he
need not go to the Adventurer to discover the whereabouts of the
White Moll, that she was here now before him; there came the
prompting to offer herself in lieu of the man she loved. But that,
too, was useless, and worse than useless; they would still do away
with the Adventurer because he had been the Pug, and the only chance
he now had, as represented by whatever she might be able to do,
would be gone, since she would but have delivered herself into
She drew back suddenly. Danglar had stepped toward her. She was
unable to avoid him, and his arm encircled her waist. She shivered
as the pressure of his arm tightened.
"It's all right, old girl!" he said exuberantly. "You've been
through hell, you have; but it's all right at last. You leave it
to me! Your husband's got a kiss to make up for every drop of that
grease you've had to put on the prettiest face in New York."
It seemed as though she must scream out. It was hideous. She could
not force herself to endure it another instant even for safety's safe.
She pushed him away. It was unbearable - at any risk, cost what it
might. Mind, soul and body recoiled from the embrace.
"Leave me alone!" she panted. "You've been drinking. Leave me alone!"
He drew back, and laughed.
"Not very much," he said. "The celebration hasn't started yet, and
you'll be in on that. I guess your nerves have been getting shaky
lately, haven't they? Well, you can figure on the swellest
rest-cure you ever heard of, Bertha. Take it from me! We're going
down to keep the Pug company presently. You blow around to Matty's
about midnight and get the election returns. We'll finish the job
after that by getting Cloran out of the road some way before morning,
and that will let you out for keeps - there won't be any one left to
recognize the woman who was with Deemer the night he shuffled out."
He backed to the doorway. "Get me? Come over to Matty's and see the
rajah's sparklers about midnight. We'll have 'em then - and the
she-fiend, too. So long, Bertha!"
She scarcely heard him; she answered mechanically.
"Good-night," she said.
XIX. DREAD UPON THE WATERS
For a moment after Danglar had gone, Rhoda Gray stood motionless;
and then, the necessity for instant action upon her, she moved
quickly toward the doorway herself. There was only one thing she
could do, just one; but she must be sure first that Danglar was
well started on his way. She reached the doorway, looked out - and
suddenly caught her breath in a low, quick inhalation, In the
semi-darkness she could just make out Danglar's form, perhaps
twenty-five yards away now, heading along the lane toward the
street; but behind Danglar, at a well-guarded distance in the rear,
hugging the shadows of the fence, she saw the form of another man.
Her brows knitted in a perplexed and anxious frown. The second man
was undoubtedly following Danglar. That was evident. But why?
Who was it? What did it mean?
She retreated back into the shed, and commenced hastily to disrobe
and dress again in her own clothes, which she had flung down upon
the floor. In the last analysis, did it matter who it was that was
following Danglar - even if it were one of the police? For,
supposing that the man who was shadowing Danglar was a plain-clothes
man, and suppose he even followed Danglar and the rest of the gang
to the old iron plant, and suppose that with the necessary assistance
he rounded them all up, and in that sense effected the Adventurer's
rescue, it scarcely meant a better fate for the Adventurer! It
simply meant that the Adventurer, as one of the gang, and against
whom every one of the rest would testify as the sole means left to
them of wreaking their vengeance upon one who had tricked and
outwitted them again and again for his own ends, would stand his
trial with the others, and with the others go behind prison bars for
a long term of years.
She hurried now, completing the last touches that transformed her
from Gypsy Nan into the veiled figure of the White Moll, stepped
out into the lane, and walking rapidly, reached the street and
headed, not in the direction of Harlem, but deeper over into the
East Side. Even as Danglar had been speaking she had realized that,
for the Adventurer's own sake, and irrespective of what any
premature disclosure of her own identity to the authorities might
mean to her, she could not call upon the police for aid. There
was only one way, just one - to go herself, to reach the Adventurer
herself before Danglar returned there and had an opportunity of
putting his worse than murderous intentions into effect.
Well, she was going there, wasn't she? And if she lost no time she
should be there easily ahead of them, and her chances would be
excellent of releasing the Adventurer with very little risk. From
what Danglar had said, the Adventurer was there alone. Once tied
and gagged there had been no need to leave anybody to guard him,
save that the watchman would ordinarily serve to keep any one off
the premises, which was all that was necessary. But that he had
been left at all worried her greatly. He had, of course, already
refused to talk. What they had done to him she did not know, but
the 'solitary confinement' Danglar had referred to was undoubtedly
the first step in their efforts to break his spirit. Her lips
tightened as she went along. Surely she could accomplish it! She
had but to evade the watchman - only, first, the lost revolver,
the one safeguard against an adverse turn of fortune, must be
replaced, and that was where she was going now. She knew, from her
associations with the underworld as the White Moll in the old days,
where such things could be purchased and no questions asked, if one
were known. And she was known in the establishment to which she
was going, for evil days had once fallen upon its proprietor, one
"Daddy" Jacques, in that he had incurred the enmity of certain of
his own ilk in the underworld, and on a certain night, which he
would not be likely to forget, she had stood between him and a
manhandling that would probably have cost him his life, and - Yes,
this was the place.
She entered a dirty-windowed, small and musty pawnshop. A little
old man, almost dwarf-like in stature, with an unkempt, tawny beard,
who wore a greasy and ill-fitting suit, and upon whose bald head
was perched an equally greasy skull cap, gazed at her inquiringly
from behind the counter.
"I want a gun, and a good one, please," she said, after a glance
around her to assure herself that they were alone.
The other squinted at her through his spectacles, as he shook his
"I haven't got any, lady," he answered. "We're not allowed to sell
them without -"
"Oh, yes, you have, Daddy," she contradicted quietly, as she raised
her veil. "And quick, please; I'm in a hurry."
The little old man leaned forward, staring at her for a moment as
though fascinated; and then his hand, in a fumbling way, removed
the skull cap from his bead. There was a curious, almost wistful
reverence in his voice as he spoke.
"The White Moll!" he said.
"Yes," she smiled. "But the gun, Daddy. Quick! I haven't an
instant to lose."
"Yes, yes!" he said eagerly - and shuffled away.
He was back in a moment, an automatic in his hand.
"It's loaded, of course?" she said, as she took the weapon. She
slipped it into her pocket as he nodded affirmatively. "How much,
"The White Moll!" He seemed still under the spell of amazement.
"It is nothing. There is no charge. It is nothing, of course."
"Thank you, Daddy!" she said softly - and laid a bill upon the
counter, and stepped back to the door. "Good-night!" she smiled.
She heard him call to her; but she was already on the street again,
and hurrying along. She felt better, somehow, in a mental way, for
that little encounter with the shady old pawnbroker. She was not
so much alone, perhaps, as she had thought; there were many, perhaps,
even if they were of the underworld, who had not swerved from the
loyalty they had once professed to the White Moll.
It brought a new train of thought, and she paused suddenly in her
walk. She might rally around her some of those underworld intimates
upon whose allegiance she felt she could depend, and use them now,
to-night, in behalf of the Adventurer; she would be sure then to be
a match for Danglar, no matter what turn affairs took. And then,
with an impatient shake of her head, she hurried on again. There
was no time for that. It would take a great deal of time to find
and pick her men; she had even wasted time herself, where there was
no time to spare, in the momentary pause during which she had given
the thought consideration.
She reached the nearest subway station, which was her objective,
and boarded a Harlem train, satisfied that her heavy veil would
protect her against recognition. Unobtrusively she took a window
seat. No one paid her any attention. Hours passed, it seemed to
her impatience, while the black walls rushed by, punctuated by
occasional scintillating signal lights, and, at longer intervals,
by the fuller glare from the station platforms.
In the neighborhood of 125th street she left the train, and,
entering the first drug store she found, consulted a directory.
She did not know this section of New York at all; she did not know
either the location or the firm name of the iron plant to which
Danglar, assuming naturally, of course, that she was conversant
with it, had referred; and she did not care to ask to be directed
to Jake Malley's saloon, which was the only clew she had to guide
her. The problem, however, did not appear to be a very difficult
one. She found the saloon's address, and, asking the clerk to
direct her to the street indicated, left the drug store again.
But, after all, it was not so easy; no easier than for one
unacquainted with any locality to find one's way about. Several
times she found herself at fault, and several times she was obliged
to ask directions again. She had begun to grow panicky with fear
and dread at the time she had lost, before, finally, she found the
saloon. She was quite sure that it was already more than half an
hour since she had left the drug store; and that half an hour might
easily mean the difference between safety and disaster, not only
for the Adventurer, but for herself as well. Danglar might have
been in no particular hurry, and he would probably have gone first
to whatever rendezvous he had appointed for those of the gang
selected to accompany him, but even to have done so in a leisurely
way would surely not have taken more than that half hour!
Yes, that was Jake Malley's saloon now, across the road from her,
but she could not recall the time that was already lost! They
might be there now - ahead of her.
She quickened her steps almost to a run. There should be no
difficulty in finding the iron plant now. "Behind Jake Malley's
saloon," Danglar had said. She turned down the cross street,
passed the side entrance to the saloon, and hastened along. The
locality was lonely, deserted, and none too well lighted. The arc
lamps, powerful enough in themselves, were so far apart that they
left great areas of shadow, almost blackness, between them. And
the street too was very narrow, and the buildings, such as they
were, were dark and unlighted - certainly it was not a residential
And now she became aware that she was close to the river, for the
sound of a passing craft caught her attention. Of course! She
understood now. The iron plant, for shipping facilities, was
undoubtedly on the bank of the river itself, and - yes, this was
it, wasn't it? - this picket fence that began to parallel the
right-hand side of the street, and enclose, seemingly, a very large
area. She halted and stared at it - and suddenly her heart sank
with a miserable sense of impotence and dismay. Yes, this was the
place beyond question. Through the picket fence she could make
out the looming shadows of many buildings, and spidery iron
structures that seemed to cobweb the darkness, and - and - Her
face mirrored her misery. She had thought of a single building.
Where, inside there, amongst all those rambling structures, with
little time, perhaps none at all, to search, was she to find the
She did not try to answer her own question - she was afraid that
her dismay would get the better of her if she hesitated for an
instant. She crossed the street, choosing a spot between two of
the arc lamps where the shadows were blackest. It was a high fence,
but not too high to climb. She reached up, preparatory to pulling
herself to the top - and drew back with a stifled cry. She was too
late, then - already too late! They were here ahead of her - and
on guard after all! A man's form, appearing suddenly out of the
darkness but a few feet away, was making quickly toward her. She
wrenched her automatic from her pocket. The touch of the weapon
in her hand restored her self-control.
"Don't come any nearer!" she cried out sharply. "I will fire if
And then the man spoke.
"It's you, ain't it?" he called in guarded eagerness. "It's the
White Moll, ain't it? Thank God, it's you!"
Her extended hand with the automatic fell to her side. She had
recognized his voice. It wasn't Danglar, it wasn't one of the
gang, or the watchman who was no better than an accomplice; it was
Marty Finch, alias the Sparrow.
"Marty!" she exclaimed. "You! What are you doing here?"
"I'm here to keep you from goin' in there!" he answered excitedly.
"And - and, say, I was afraid I was too late. Don't you go in
there! For God's sake, don't you go! They're layin' a trap for
you! They're goin' to bump you off! I know all about it!"
"You know? What do you mean?" she asked quickly. "How do you
"I quit my job a few days after that fellow you called Danglar
tried to murder me that night you saved me," said the Sparrow, with
a savage laugh. "I knew he had it in for you, and I guess I had
something comm' to him on my own account too, hadn't I? That's the
job I've been on ever since - tryin' to find the dirty pup. And I
found him! But it wasn't until to-night, though you can believe me
there weren't many joints in the old town where I didn't look for
him. My luck turned to-night. I spotted him comin' out of Italian
Joe's bar. See? I followed him. After a while he slips into a
lane, and from the street I saw him go into a shed there. I worked
my way up quiet, and got as near as I dared without bein' heard and
seen, and I listened. He was talkin' to a woman. I couldn't hear
everything they said, and they quarreled a lot; but I heard him say
something about framin' up a job to get somebody down to the old
iron plant behind Jake Malley's saloon and bump 'em off, and I
heard him say there wouldn't be any White Moll by morning, and I
put two and two together and beat it for here."
Rhoda Gray reached out and caught the Sparrow's hand.
"Thank you, Marty! You haven't got it quite right - though, thank
Heaven, you got it the way you did, since you are here now!" she
said fervently. "It wasn't me, it wasn't the White Moll, they
expected to get here; it's the man who helped me that night to
clear you of the Hayden-Bond robbery that Danglar meant to make
you shoulder. He risked his life to do it, Marty. They've got
him a prisoner somewhere in there; and they're coming back to - to
torture him into telling them where I am, and - and afterwards to
do away with him. That's why I'm here, Marty - to get him away,
if I can, before they come back."
The Sparrow whistled low under his breath.
"Well, then, I guess it's my hunt too," he said coolly. "And I
guess this is where a prison bird horns in with the goods. Ever
since I've been looking for that Danglar guy, I've been carryin'
a full kit - because I didn't know what might break, or what kind
of a mess I might want to get out of. Come on! We ain't got no
time. There's a couple of broken pickets down there. We might be
seen climbin' the fence. Come on!"
Bread upon the waters! With a sense of warm gratitude upon her,
Rhoda Gray followed the ex-convict. They made their way through
the fence. A long, low building, a storage shed evidently, showed
a few yards in front of them. It seemed to be quite close to the
river, for now she could see the reflection of lights from here
and there playing on the black, mirror-like surface of the water.
Farther on, over beyond the shed, the yard of the plant, dotted
with other buildings and those spidery iron structures which she
had previously noticed, stretched away until it was lost in the
darkness. Here, however, within the radius of one of the street
arc lamps it was quite light.
Rhoda Gray had paused in almost hopeless indecision as to how or
where to begin her search, when the Sparrow spoke again.
"It looks like we got a long hunt," whispered the Sparrow; "but a
few minutes before you came, a guy with a lantern comes from over
across the yard there and nosed around that shed, and acted kind
of queer, and I could see him stick his head up against them side
doors there as though he was listenin' for something inside. Does
that wise you up to anything?"
"Yes!" she breathed tensely. "That was the watchman. He's one of
them. The man we want is in that shed beyond a doubt. Hurry,
Marty - hurry!"
They ran together now, and reached the double side-door. It was
evidently for freight purposes only, and probably barred on the
inside, for they found there was no way of opening it from without.
"There must be an entrance," she said feverishly - and led the way
toward the front of the building in the direction away from the
river. "Yes, here it is!" she exclaimed, as they rounded the end
of the shed.
She tried the door. It was locked. She felt in her pocket for her
skeleton keys, for she had not been unprepared for just such an
emergency, but the Sparrow brushed her aside.
"Leave it to me!" he said quickly. "I'll pick that lock like one
o'clock! It won't take me more'n a minute."
Rhoda Gray did not stand and watch him. Minutes were priceless
things, and she could put the minute he asked for to better
advantage than by idling it away. With an added injunction to
hurry and that she would be back in an instant, she was already
racing around the opposite side of the shed. If they were pressed,
cornered, by the arrival of Danglar, it might well mean the
difference between life and death to all of them if she had an
intimate knowledge of the surroundings.
She was running at top speed. Halfway down the length of the
shed she tripped and fell over some object. She pushed it aside
as she rose. It was an old iron casting, more bulky in shape than
in weight, though she found it none too light to lift comfortably.
She ran on. A wharf projected out, she found, from this end of
the shed. At the edge, she peered over. It was quite light here
again; away from the protecting shadows of the shed, the rays of
the arc lamp played without hindrance on the wharf just as they
did on the shed's side door. Below, some ten or twelve feet below,
and at the corner of the wharf, a boat, or, rather, a sort of scow,
for it was larger than a boat though oars lay along its thwarts,
was moored. It was partly decked over, and she could see a small
black opening into the forward end of it, though the opening itself
was almost hidden by a heap of tarpaulin, or sailcloth, or something
of the kind, that lay in the bottom of the craft. She nodded her
head. They might all of them use that boat to advantage!
Rhoda Gray turned and ran back. The Sparrow, with a grunt of
satisfaction, was just opening the door. She stepped through the
doorway. The Sparrow followed.
"Close it!" said Rhoda Gray, under her breath. She felt her heart
beat quicken, the blood flood her face and then recede. Her
imagination had suddenly become too horribly vivid. Suppose they
- they had already gone farther than...
With an effort she controlled herself - and the round, white ray of
her flashlight swept the place. A moment more, and, with a low cry,
she was running forward to where, on the floor near the wall of the
shed opposite the side door, she made out the motionless form of a
man. She reached him, and dropped on her knees beside him. It was
the Adventurer. She spoke to him. He did not answer. And then she
remembered what Danglar had said, and she saw that he was gagged.
But - but she was not sure that was the reason why he did not answer.
The flashlight in her hand wavered unsteadily as it played over him.
Perhaps the whiteness of the ray itself exaggerated it, but his face
held a deathly pallor; his eyes were closed; and his hands and feet
were twisted cruelly and tightly bound.
"Give me your knife - quick - Sparrow!" she called. "Then go and
keep watch just outside."
The Sparrow handed her his knife, and hurried back to the door.
She worked in the darkness now. She could not use both hands and
still hold the flashlight; and, besides, with the door partially
open now where the Sparrow was on guard there was always the chance,
if Danglar and those of the gang with him were already in the
vicinity, of the light bringing them all the more quickly to the
Again she spoke to the Adventurer, as she removed the gag - and a
fear that made her sick at heart seized up on her. There was still
no answer. And now, as she worked, cutting at the cords on his
hands and feet, the love that she knew for the man, its restraint
broken by the sense of dread and fear at his condition, rose
dominant within her, and impulse that she could not hold in least
took possession of her, and in the darkness, since he would not
know, and there was none to see, she bent her head, and, half
crying, her lips pressed upon his forehead.
She drew back startled, a crimson in her face that the darkness
hid. What had she done? Did he know? Had he returned to
consciousness, if he really had been unconscious, in time to
know? She could not see; but she knew his eyes had opened.
She worked frantically with the bonds. He was free now. She cast
He spoke then - thickly, with great difficulty.
"It's you, the White Moll, isn't it?"
"Yes," she answered.
He raised himself up on his elbow, only to fall back with a
"I don't know how you found me, but get away at once - for God's
sake, get away!" he cried. "Danglar'll be here at any minute.
It's you he wants. He thinks you know where some - some jewels are,
and that I - I -"
"I know all about Danglar," she said hurriedly. "And I know all
about the jewels, for I've got them myself."
He was up on his knees now, swaying there. She caught at his
shoulder to support him.
"You!" he cried out incredulously. "You - you've got them? Say
that again! You - you've -"
"Yes," she said, and with an effort steadied her voice. He - he
was a thief. Cost her what it might, with all its bitter hurt,
she must remember that, even - even if she had forgotten once.
"Yes," she said. "And I mean to turn them over to the police, and
expose every one of Danglar's gang. I - you are entitled to a
chance; you once stood between me and the police. I can do no less
by you. I couldn't turn the police loose on the gang without
giving you warning, for, you see, I know you are the Pug."
"Good God!" he stammered. "You know that, too?"
"Try and walk," she said breathlessly. "There isn't any time.
And once you are away from here, remember that when Danglar is in
the hands of the police he will take the only chance for revenge he
has left, and give the police all the information he can, so that
they will get you too.
He stumbled pitifully.
"I can't walk much yet." He was striving to speak coolly. "They
trussed me up a bit, you know - but I'll be all right in a little
while when I get the cramps out of my joints and the circulation
back. And so, Miss Gray, won't you please go at once? I'm free
now, and I'll manage all right, and-"
The Sparrow came running back from the door.
"They're comm'!" he said excitedly. "They're comm' from a different
way than we came in. I saw 'em sway up there across the yard for a
second when they showed up under a patch of light from an arc lamp
on the other street. There's three of 'em. We. got about a couple
of minutes, and -"
"Get those side doors open! Quick! And no noise!"' ordered Rhoda
Gray tersely. And then to the Adventurer: "Try - try and walk!
I'll help you."
The Adventurer made a desperate attempt at a few steps. It was
miserably slow. At that rate Danglar would be upon them before
they could even cross the shed itself.
"I can crawl faster," laughed the Adventurer with bitter
whimsicality. "Give me your revolver, Miss Gray, and you two go
- and God bless you!"
The Sparrow was opening the side door, but she realized now that
even if they could carry the Adventurer they could not get away in
time. Her mind itself seemed stunned for an instant - and then, in
a lightning flash, inspiration came. She remembered that iron
casting, and the wharf, and the other side of the shed in shadow.
It was desperate, perhaps almost hopeless, but it was the only way
that gave the Adventurer a chance for his life.
She spoke rapidly. The little margin of time they had must be
"Marty, help this gentleman! Crawl to the street, if you have to.
The only thing is that you are not to make the slightest noise,
"What are you going to do?" demanded the Adventurer hoarsely.
"I'm going to take the only chance there is for all of us," she
She started toward the front door of the shed; but he reached out
and held her back.
"You are going to take the only chance there is for me!" he cried
brokenly. "You're going out there - where they are. Oh, my God!
I know! You love me! I - I was only half conscious, but I am sure
you kissed me a little while ago. And but for this you would never
have known that I knew it, because, please God, whatever else I am,
I am not coward enough to take that advantage of you. But I love
you, too! Rhoda! I have the right to speak, the right our love
gives me. You are not to go - that way. Run - run through the side
door there - they will not see you.
She was trembling. Repudiate her love? Tell him there could be
nothing between them because he was a thief? She might never live
to see him again. Her soul was in riot, the blood flaming hot in
her cheeks. He was clinging to her arm. She tore herself forcibly
away. The seconds were counting now. She tried to bid him good-by,
but the words choked in her throat. She found herself running for
the front door.
"Sparrow - quick! Do as I told you!" she half sobbed over her
shoulder - and opening the door, stepped out and dosed it behind her.
XX. A LONE HAND
And now Rhoda Gray was in the radius of the arc lamp, and distinctly
visible to any one coming down the yard. How near were they? Yes,
she saw them now - three forms-perhaps a little more than a hundred
yards away. She moved a few steps deliberately toward them, as
though quite unconscious of their presence; and then, as a shout
from one of them announced that she was seen, she halted, hesitated
as though surprised, terrified and uncertain, and, as they sprang
forward, she turned and ran - making for the side of the shed away
from the side door.
A voice rang out - Danglar's:
"By God, it's the White Moll!"
It was the only way! She had the pack in cry now. They would pay
no attention to the Adventurer while the White Moll was seemingly
almost within their grasp. If she could only hold them now for a
little while - just a little while - the Adventurer wasn't hurt
- only cramped and numbed - he would be all right again and able
to take care of himself in a little while - and meanwhile the
Sparrow would help him to get away.
She was running with all her speed. She heard them behind her - the
pound, pound, pound of feet. She had gained the side of the shed.
The light from the arc lamp was shut off from her now, and they would
only be able to see her, she knew, as a dim, fleeting shadow. Where
was that iron casting? Pray God, it was heavy enough; and pray God,
it was not too heavy! Yes, here it was! She pretended to stumble
- and caught the thing up in her arms. An exultant cry went up
from behind her as she appeared to fall - oaths, a chorus of them,
as she went on again.
They had not gained on her before; but with the weight in her arms,
especially as she was obliged to carry it awkwardly in order to
shield it from their view with her body, she could not run so fast
now, and they were beginning to close up on her. But she was on the
wharf now, and there was not much farther to go, and - and surely
she could hold all the lead she needed until she reached the edge.
The light from the arc lamp held her in view again out here on the
wharf where she was clear of the shed; but she knew they would not
fire at her except as a last resort. They could not afford to sound
an alarm that would attract notice to the spot - when they had, or
believed they had, both the Adventurer and the White Moll within
their grasp now.
She was running now with short, hard, panting gasps. There were
still five yards to go-three-one! She looked around her like a
hunted animal at bay, as she reached the end of the wharf and stood
there poised at the edge. Yes, thank God, they were still far
enough behind to give her the few seconds she needed! She cried
out loudly as though in despair and terror - and sprang from the
edge of the wharf. And as she sprang she dropped the casting; but
even as it struck the water with a loud splash, Rhoda Gray, in
frantic haste, was crawling in through the little locker-like
opening under the decked-over bow of the half scow, half boat into
which she had leaped. And quick as a flash, huddled inside, she
reached out and drew the heap of what proved to be sailcloth nearer
to her to cover the opening-and lay still.
A few seconds passed; then she heard them at the edge of the wharf,
and heard Danglar s voice.
"Watch where she comes up! She can't get away!"
A queer, wan smile twisted Rhoda Gray's lips. The casting had
served her well; the splash had been loud enough! She listened,
straining her ears to catch every sound from above. It was
miserably small this hiding place into which she had crawled,
scarcely large enough to hold her - she was beginning to be
painfully cramped and uncomfortable already.
Another voice, that she recognized as Pinkie Bonn's now, reached
"It's damned hard to spot anything out there; the water's blacker'n
Came a savage and impatient oath from Danglar.
"She's got to come up, ain't she - or drown!" he rasped. "Maybe
she's swum under the wharf, or maybe she's swum under water far
enough out so's we can't see her from here. Anyway, jump into
that boat there, and we'll paddle around till we get her."
Rhoda Gray held her breath. The boat rocked violently as, one after
another, the men jumped into it. Her right hand was doubled under
her, it was hard to reach her pocket and her automatic. She moved
a little; they were cursing, splashing with their oars, making too
much noise to hear any slight rustle that she might make.
A minute, two, went by. She had her automatic now, and she lay
there, grim-lipped, waiting. Even if they found her now, she had
her own way out; and by now, beyond any question, the Adventurer
and the Sparrow would have reached the street, and, even if they
had to hide out there somewhere until the Adventurer had recovered
the use of his limbs, they would be safe.
She could not see, of course. Once the boat bumped, and again.
They were probably searching around under the wharf. She could not
hear what they said, for they were keeping quiet now, talking in
whispers - so as not to give her warning of their whereabouts
The time dragged on. Her cramped position was bringing her
excruciating agony now. She could understand how the Adventurer,
in far worse case in the brutal position in which they had bound him,
had fainted. She was afraid she would faint herself - it was not
only the pain, but it was terribly close in the confined space, and
her head was swimming.
Occasionally the oars splashed; and then, after an interminable
time, the men, as though hopeless of success, and as though caution
were no longer of any service, began to talk louder.
The third man was Shluker. She recognized his voice, too.
"It's no use!" he snarled. "If she's a good swimmer, she could get
across the river easy. She's got away; that's sure. What the hell's
the good of this? We're playing the fool. Beat it back! She was
nosing around the shed. How do we know she didn't let the Pug loose
before we saw her?"
Pinkie Bonn whined:
"If he's gone too, we're crimped! The whole works is bust up! The
Pug knows everything, where our money is, an' everything. They'll
have us cold!"
"Close your face, Pinkie!" It was Danglar speaking, his voice hoarse
with uncontrollable rage. "Go on back, then, Shluker. Quick!"
Rhoda Gray heard the hurried splashing of the oars now; and presently
she felt the bumping of the boat against the wharf, and its violent
rocking as the men climbed out of it again. But she did not move
- save with her hand to push the folds of sailcloth a cautious inch
or two away from the opening. It did not ease the agony she was
suffering from her cramped position, but it gave her fresher air,
and she could hear better - the ring of their boot-heels on the
wharf above, for instance.
The footsteps died away. There was silence then for a moment; and
then, faintly, from the direction of the shed, there came a chorus
of baffled rage and execration. She smiled a little wearily to
herself. It was all right. That was what she wanted to know. The
Adventurer had got away.
Still she lay there. She dared not leave the boat yet; but she
could change her position now. She crawled half out from under the
docking, and lay with her head on the sailcloth. It was exquisite
relief! They could not come back along the wharf without her hearing
them, and she could retreat under the decking again in an instant,
Voices reached her now occasionally from the direction of the shed.
Finally a silence fell. The minutes passed - ten - fifteen - twenty
of them. And then Rhoda Gray climbed warily to the wharf, made her
way warily past the shed, and gained the road - and three-quarters
of an hour later, in another shed, in the lane behind the garret, she
was changing quickly into the rags of Gypsy Nan again.
It was almost the end now. To-night, she would keep the appointment
Danglar had given her - and keep it ahead of time. It was almost
the end. Her lips set tightly. The Adventurer had been warned.
There was nothing now to stand in the way of her going to the police,
save only the substantiation of that one point in her own story
which Danglar must supply.
Her transformation completed, she reached in under the flooring and
took out the package of jewels - they would help very materially
when she faced Danglar! - and, though it was somewhat large, tucked
it inside her blouse. It could not be noticed. The black, greasy
shawl hid it effectively.
She stepped out into the lane, and from there to the street, and
began to make her way across town. She did not have to search for
Danglar to-night. She was to meet him at Matty's at midnight, and
it was not more than halfpast eleven now. Three hours and a half!
Was that all since at eight o'clock, as nearly as she could place
it, he had left her in the lane? It seemed as many years; but it
was only twenty minutes after eleven, she had noticed, when she had
left the subway on her return a few minutes ago. Her hand clenched
suddenly. She was to meet him at Matty's - and, thereafter, if it
took all night, she would not leave him until she had got him alone
somewhere and disclosed herself. The man was a coward in soul. She
could trust to the effect upon him of an automatic in the hands of
the White Mall to make him talk.
Rhoda Gray walked quickly. It was not very far. She turned the
corner into the street where Danglar's deformed brother, Matty,
cloaked the executive activities of the gang with his cheap little
notion store - and halted abruptly. The store was just ahead of
her, and Danglar himself, coming out, had just closed the door.
He saw her, and stepping instantly to her side, grasped her arm
roughly and wheeled her about.
"Come on!" he said - and a vicious oath broke from his lips.
The man was in a towering, ungovernable passion. She cast a
furtive glance at his face. She had seen him before in anger; but
now, with his lips drawn back and working, his whole face contorted,
he seemed utterly beside himself.
"What's the matter?" she inquired innocently. "Wouldn't the Pug
talk, or is it a case of 'another hour or so,' and -"
He swung on her furiously.
"Hold your cursed tongue!" he flared. "You'll snicker on the
wrong side of your face this time!" He gulped, stared at her
threateningly, and quickened his step, forcing her to keep pace
with him. But he spoke again after a minute, savagely, bitterly,
but more in control of himself. "The Pug got away. The White
Moll queered us again. But it's worse than that. The game's up!
I told you to be here at midnight. It's only half past eleven yet.
I figured you would still be over in the garret, and I was going
there for you. That's where we're going now. There's no chance at
those rajah's jewels now; there's no chance of fixing Cloran so's
you can swell it around in the open again - the only chance we've
got is to save what we can and beat it!"
She did not need to simulate either excitement or disquiet.
"What is it? What's happened?" she asked tensely.
"The gang's thrown us down!" he said between his teeth. "They're
scared; they've got cold feet - they're going to quit. Shluker and
Pinkie were with me at the iron plant. We went back to Matty's
from there. Matty's with them, too. They say the Pug knows every
one of us, and every game we've pulled, and that in revenge for our
trying to murder him he'll wise up the police - that he could do it
easily enough without getting nipped himself, by sending them a
letter, or even telephoning the names and addresses of the whole
layout. They're scared - he curs! They say he knows where all our
coin is too; and they're for splitting it up to-night, and ducking
it out of New York for a while to get under cover." He laughed out
suddenly, raucously. "They will - eh? I'll show them - the
yellow-streaked pups! They wouldn't listen to me - and it meant
that you and I were thrown down for fair. If we're caught, it's
the chair. I'll show them! When I saw it wasn't any use trying to
get them to stick, I pretended to agree with them. See? I said
they could go around and dig up the rest of the gang, and if the
others felt the same way about it, they were all to come over to
the garret, and I'd be waiting for them, - and we'd split up the
swag, and everybody'd be on his own after that." Again he laughed
out raucously. "It'll take them half an hour to get together - but
it won't take that long for us to grab all that's worth grabbing
out of that trap-door, and making our getaway. See? I'll teach
them to throw Pierre Danglar down! Come on, hurry!"
"Sure!" she mumbled mechanically.
Her mind was sifting, sorting, weighing what he had said. She was
not surprised. She remembered Pinkie Bonn's outburst in the boat.
She walked on beside Danglar. The man was muttering and cursing
under his breath. Well, why shouldn't she appear to fall in with
his plans? Under what choicer surroundings could she get him alone
than in the garret? And half an hour would be ample time for her,
too! Yes, yes, she began to see! With Danglar, when she had got
what she wanted out of him herself, held up at the point of her
automatic, she could back to the door and lock him in there - and
notify the police - and the police would not only get Danglar and
the ill-gotten hoard hidden in the ceiling behind that trap-door,
but they would get all the rest of the gang as the latter in due
course appeared on the scene. Yes, why not? She experienced an
exhilaration creeping upon her; she even increased, unconsciously,
the rapid pace which Danglar had set.
"That's the stuff!" he grunted in savage approval. "We need every
minute we've got."
They reached the house where once - so long ago now, it seemed!
- Rhoda Gray had first found the original Gypsy Nan; and, Danglar
leading, mounted the dark, narrow stairway to the hall above, and
from there up the short, ladder-like steps to the garret. He
groped in the aperture under the partition for the key, opened the
door, and stepped inside. Rhoda Gray, following, removed the key,
inserted it on the inside of the door, and, as she too entered,
locked the door behind her. It was pitch-black here in the attic.
Her face was set now, her lips firm. She had been waiting for this,
hadn't she? It was near the end at last. She had Danglar - alone.
But not in the darkness! He was too tricky! She crossed the garret
to where the candle-stub, stuck in the neck of the gin bottle, stood
on the rickety washstand.
"Come over here and light the candle," she said. "I can't find my
Her hand was in the pocket of her skirt now, her fingers
tight-closed on the stock of her automatic, as he shuffled his way
across the attic to her side. A match spurted into flame; the
candle wick flickered, then steadied, dispersing little by little,
as it grew brighter, the nearer shadows - and there came a startled
cry from Danglar - and Rhoda Gray, the weapon in her pocket
forgotten, was staring as though stricken of her senses across the
garret. The Adventurer was sitting on the edge of the cot, and a
revolver in his hand held a steady bead upon Danglar and herself..
XXI . THE RECKONING
It was the Adventurer who spoke first.
"Both of you! What charming luck!" he murmured whimsically. "You'll
forgive the intrusion won't you? A friend of mine, the Sparrow by
name - I think you are acquainted with him, Danglar - was good enough
to open the door for me, and lock it again on the outside. You see,
I didn't wish to cause you any alarm through a premature suspicion
that you might have a guest!" His voice hardened suddenly as he rose
from the cot, and, though he limped badly, stepped quickly toward
them. "Don't move, Danglar - or you, Mrs. Danglar!" he ordered
sharply - and with a lightning movement of his hand felt for, and
whipped Danglar's revolver from the latter's pocket. "Pardon me!"
he said - and his hand was in and out of Rhoda Gray's pocket. He
tossed the two weapons coolly over onto the cot. "Well, Danglar,"
he smiled grimly, "there's quite a change in the last few hours,
Danglar made no answer. His face was ashen; his little black eyes,
like those of a cornered rat, and as though searching for some
avenue of escape, were darting hunted glances all around the garret.
Rhoda Gray, the first shock of surprise gone, leaned back against
the washstand with an air of composure that she did not altogether
feel. What was the Adventurer going to do? True, she need have no
fear of personal violence - she had only to disclose herself. But
- but there were other considerations. She saw that reckoning of
her own with Danglar at an end, though - yes! - perhaps the
Adventurer would become her ally in that matter. But, then, there
was something else. The Adventurer was a thief, and she could not
let him get away with those packages of banknotes up there behind
the trap-door in the ceiling, if she could help it. That was
perhaps what he had come for, and - and - Her mind seemed to tumble
into chaos. She did not know what to do. She stared at the
Adventurer. He was still dressed as the Pug, though the eye-patch
was gone, and there was no longer any sign of the artificial facial
The Adventurer spoke again.
"Won't you sit down - Mrs. Danglar?" He pushed the single chair
the garret possessed toward her - and shrugged his shoulders as
she remained motionless. "You'll pardon me, then, if I sit down
myself." He appropriated the chair, and faced them, his revolver
dangling with ominous carelessness in his hand. "I've had a
rather upsetting experience this evening, and I am afraid I am
still a little the worse for it - as perhaps you know, Danglar?"
"You damned traitor!" Danglar burst out wildly. "I - I -"
"Quite so!" said the Adventurer smoothly. "But we'll get to that
in a minute. Do you mind if I inflict a little story on you? I
promise you it won't take long. It's a little personal history
which I think will be interesting to you both; but, in any case,
as my hosts, I am sure you will be polite enough to listen. It
concerns the murder of a man named Deemer; but in order that you
may understand my interest in the matter, I must go back quite a
little further. Perhaps I even ought to introduce myself. My name,
my real name, you know, is David Holt. My father was in the American
Consular service in India when I was about ten. He eventually left
it and went into business there through the advice of a very warm
friend of his, a certain very rich and very powerful rajah in the
State of Chota Nagpur in the Province of Bengal, where we then
lived. I became an equally intimate friend of the rajah's son,
and - do I bore you, Danglar?"
Danglar was like a crouched animal, his head drawn into his
shoulders, his hands behind him with fingers twisting and gripping
at the edge of the washstand.
"What's your proposition?" he snarled. "Curse you, name your price,
and have done with it! You're as big a crook as I am!"
"You are impatient!" The Adventurer's shoulders went up again. "In
due time the rajah decided that a trip through Europe and back home
through America would round out his son's education, and broaden and
fit him for his future duties in a way that nothing else would. It
was also decided, I need hardly say to my intense delight, that I
should accompany him. We come now to our journey through the United
States - you see, Danglar, that I am omitting everything but the
essential details. In a certain city in the Middle West - I think
you will remember it well, Danglar - the young rajah met with an
accident. He was out riding in the outskirts of the city. His
horse took fright and dashed for the river-bank. He was an
excellent horseman, but, pitched from his seat, his foot became
tangled in the stirrup, and as he hung there head down, a blow from
he horse's hoof rendered him unconscious, and he was being dragged
along, when a man by the name of Deemer, at the risk of his own
life, saved the rajah's son. The horse plunged over the bank and
into the water with both of them. They were both nearly drowned.
Deemer, let me say in passing, did one of the bravest things that
any man ever did. Submerged, half drowned himself, he stayed
with the maddened animal until he had succeeded in freeing the
unconscious man. All this was some two years ago."
The Adventurer paused.
Rhoda Gray, hanging on his words, was leaning tensely forward - it
seemed as though some great, dawning wonderment was lifting her out
of herself, making her even unconscious of her surroundings.
"The rajah's son remained at the hotel there for several days to
recuperate," continued the Adventurer deliberately; "and during that
time he saw a great deal of Deemer, and, naturally, so did I. And,
incidentally, Danglar, though I thought nothing much of it then,
I saw something of you; and something of Mrs. Danglar there, too,
though - if she will permit me to say it - in a more becoming
costume than she is now wearing!" Once more he shrugged his
shoulders as Danglar snarled. "Yes, yes; I will hurry. I am almost
through. While it was not made public throughout the country,
inasmuch as the rajah's son was more or less an official guest of
the government, the details of the accident were of course known
locally, as also was the fact that the young rajah in token of his
gratitude had presented Deemer with a collection of jewels of
almost priceless worth. We resumed our journey; Deemer, who was a
man in very moderate circumstances, and who had probably never had
any means in his life before, went to New York, presumably to have
his first real holiday, and, as it turned out, to dispose of the
stones, or at least a portion of them. When we reached the coast
we received two advices containing very ill news. The first was
an urgent message to return instantly to India on account of the
old rajah's serious illness; the second was to the effect that
Deemer had been murdered by a woman in New York, and that the jewels
had been stolen."
Again the Adventurer paused, and, eying Danglar, smiled - not
"I will not attempt to explain to you," he went on, "the young
rajah's feelings when he heard that the gift he had given Deemer
in return for his own life had cost Deemer his. Nor will I attempt
to explain the racial characteristics of the people of whom the
young rajah was one, and who do not lightly forget or forgive.
But an eye for an eye, Danglar - you will understand that. If it
cost all he had, there should be justice. He could not stay
himself; and so I stayed-because he made me swear I would, and
because he made me swear that I would never allow the chase to lag
until the murderers were found.
"And so I came East again. I remembered you, Danglar - that on
several occasions when I had come upon Deemer unawares, you,
sometimes accompanied by a woman, and sometimes not, had been
lurking in the background. I went to Cloran, the house detective
at the hotel here in New York where Deemer was murdered. He
described the woman. She was the same woman that had been with
you. I went to the authorities and showed my credentials, with
which the young rajah had seen to it I was supplied from very
high sources indeed. I did not wish to interfere with the
authorities in their handling of the case; but, on the other hand,
I had no wish to sit down idly and watch them, and it was necessary
therefore that I should protect myself in anything I did. I also
made. myself known to one of New York's assistant district attorneys,
who was an old friend of my father's. And then, Danglar, I started
out after you.
"I discovered you after about a month; then I wormed myself into
your gang as the Pug. That took about a year. I was almost another
year with you as an accepted member of the gang. You know what
happened during that period. A little while ago I found out that
the woman we wanted - with you, Danglar - was your wife, living in
hiding in this garret as Gypsy Nan. But the jewels themselves were
still missing. To-night they are not. A - a friend of mine, one
very much misjudged publicly, I might say, has them, and has told
me they would be handed to the police.
"And so, Danglar, after coming here to-night, I sent the Sparrow
out to gather together a few of the authorities who are interested
in the case - my friend the assistant district attorney; Cloran, the
house detective; Rough Rorke of headquarters, who on one occasion
was very much interested in Gypsy Nan; and enough men to make the
round of arrests. They should be conveniently hidden across the
road now, and waiting for my signal. My idea, you see, was to allow
Mrs. Danglar to enter here without having her suspicions aroused,
and to see that she did not get away again if she arrived before
those who are duly qualified - which I am not - to arrest her did;
also, in view of what transpired earlier this evening, I must
confess I was a little anxious about those several years'
accumulation of stolen funds up there in the ceiling. As I said
at the beginning, I hardly expected the luck to get you both at the
same time; though we should have got you, Danglar, and every one of
the rest of the gang before morning, and -"
"You," Rhoda Gray whispered, "you - are not a thief!" Brain and
soul seemed on fire. It seemed as though she had striven to voice
those words a dozen times since he had been speaking, but that she
had been afraid - afraid that this was not true, this great,
wonderful thing, that it could not be true. "You - you are not a
- a thief!"
The Adventurer's face lost its immobility. He half rose from his
chair, staring at her in a startled way - but it was Danglar now
"It's a lie!" he screamed out. "It's a lie!" The man's reason
appeared to be almost unhinged; a mad terror seemed to possess him.
"It's all a lie! I never heard of this rajah bunk before in my
life! I never heard of Deemer, or any jewels before. You lie! I
tell you, you lie! You can't prove it; you can't -"
"But I can," said Rhoda Gray in a low voice. The shawl fell from
her shoulders; from her blouse she took the package of jewels and
held them out to the Adventurer. "Here are the stones. I got them
from where you had put them in old Luertz's room. I was hidden
there all the time last night." She was removing her spectacles
and her wig of tangled gray hair as she spoke, and now she turned
her face full upon Danglar. "I heard you discuss Deemer's murder
with your brother last night, and plan to get rid of Cloran, who
you thought was the only existing witness you need fear, and -"
"Great God!" The Adventurer cried out. "You - Rhoda! The White
Moll! I - I don't understand, though I can see you are not the
woman who originally masqueraded as Gypsy Nan, for I knew her, as
I said, by sight."
He was on his feet now, his face aflame with a great light. He
took a step toward her.
"Wait!" she said hurriedly. She glanced at Danglar. The man's
face was blanched, his body seemed to have shriveled up, and
there was a light in his eyes as they held upon her that was near
to the borderland of insanity. "That night at Skarbolov's!" she
said, and tried to hold her voice in control. "Gypsy Nan, this
man's wife, died that night in the hospital. I had found her here
sick, and I had promised not to divulge her secret. I helped her
get to the hospital. She was dying; she was penitent in a way;
she wanted to prevent a crime that she said was to be perpetrated
that night, but she would not inform on her accomplices. She begged
me to forestall them, and return the money anonymously the next day.
That was the choice I had - either to allow the crime to be carried
out, or else swear to act alone in return for the information that
would enable me to keep the money away from the thieves without
bringing the police into it. I - I was caught. You - you saved me
from Rough Rorke, but he followed me. I put on Gypsy Nan's clothes,
and managed to outwit him. I had had no opportunity to return the
money, which would have been proof of my innocence; the only way I
could prove it, then, was to try and find the authors of the crime
myself. I - I have lived since then as Gypsy Nan, fighting this
hideous gang of Danglar's here to try and save myself, and - and
to-night I thought I could see my way clear. I - I knew enough at
last about this man to make him give me a written statement that it
was a pre-arranged plan to rob Skarbolov. That would substantiate
my story. And" - she looked again at Danglar; the man was still
crouched there, eying her with that same mad light in his eyes
- "and he must be made to - to do it now for -"
"But why didn't you ask me?" cried the Adventurer. "You knew me as
the Pug, and therefore must have believed that I, too, know all
"Yes," she said, and turned her head away to hide the color she felt
was mounting to her cheeks. "I - I thought of that. But I thought
you were a thief, and - and your testimony wouldn't have been much
good unless, with it, I could have handed you, too, over to the
police, as I intended to do with Danglar; and - and - I - I couldn't
do that, and - Oh, don't you see?" she ended desperately.
"Rhoda! Rhoda!" There was a glad, buoyant note in the Adventurer's
voice. "Yes, I see! Well, I can prove it for you now without any
of those fears on my behalf to worry you! I went to Skarbolov's
myself, knowing their plans, to do exactly what you did. I did not
know you then, and, as Rough Rorke, who was there because, as I
heard later, his suspicions had been aroused through seeing some of
the gang lurking around the back door in the lane the night before,
had taken the actual money from you, I contrived to let you get
away, because I was afraid that you were some new factor in the
game, some member of the gang that I did not know about, and that I
must watch, too! Don't you understand? The jewels were still
missing. I had not got the general warning that was sent out to
the gang that night to lay low, for at the last moment it seems that
Danglar here found out that Rough Rorke had suspicions about
Skarbolov's place." He came close to her - and with the muzzle
of his revolver he pushed Danglar's huddled figure back a little
further against the washstand. "Rhoda - you are clear. The
assistant district attorney who had your case is the one I spoke
of a few minutes ago. That night at Hayden-Bond's, though I did
not understand fully, I knew that you were the bravest, truest
little woman into whom God had ever breathed the breath of life.
I told him the next day there was some mistake, something strange
behind it all. I told him what happened at Hayden-Bond's. He
agreed with me. You have never been indicted. Your case has
never come before the grand jury. And it never will now! Rhoda!
Rhoda! Thank God for you! Thank God it has all come out right,
A peal of laughter, mad, insane, horrible in its perverted mirth,
rang through the garret. Danglar's hands were creeping queerly
up to his temples. And then, oblivious evidently in his frenzy
of the revolver in the Adventurer's hand, and his eye catching the
weapons that lay upon the cot, he made a sudden dash in that
direction - and Rhoda Gray, divining his intention, sprang for the
cot, too, at the same time. But Danglar never reached his objective.
As Rhoda Gray caught up the weapons and thrust them into her pocket,
she heard Danglar's furious snarl, and whirling around, she saw the
two men locked and struggling in each other's embrace.
The Adventurer's voice reached her, quick, imperative:
"Show the candle at the window, Rhoda! The Sparrow is waiting for
it in the yard below. Then open the door for them."
A sudden terror and fear seized her. The Adventurer was not fit,
after what he had been through to-night to cope with Danglar. He
had been limping badly even a few minutes ago. It seemed to her,
as she rushed across the garret and snatched up the candle, that
Danglar was getting the best of it even now. And the Adventurer
could have shot him down, and been warranted in doing it! She
reached the window, waved the candle frantically several times
across the pane, then setting the candle down on the window ledge,
she ran for the door.
She looked back again, as she turned the key in the lock. With a
crash, pitching over the chair, both men went to the floor - and the
Adventurer was underneath. She cried out in alarm, and wrenched the
door open - and stood for an instant there on the threshold in a
They couldn't be coming already! The Sparrow hadn't had time even
to get out of the yard. But there were footsteps in the hall below,
many of them. She stepped out on the landing; it was too dark to
A sudden yell as she showed even in the faint light of the open
garret door, the quicker rush of feet, reached her from below.
"The White Moll! That's her! The White Moll!" She flung herself
flat down, wrenching both the automatic and the revolver from her
pocket. She understood now! That was Pinkie Bonn's voice. It was
the gang arriving to divide up the spoils, not the Sparrow and the
police. Her mind was racing now with lightning speed. If they got
her, they would get the Adventurer in there, too, before the police
could intervene. She must hold this little landing where she lay
now, hold those short, ladder-like steps that the oncoming footsteps
from below there had almost reached.
She fired once - twice - again; but high, over their heads, to check
Yells answered her. A vicious tongue-flame from a revolver, another
and another, leaped out at her from the black below; the spat, spat
of bullets sounded from behind her as they struck the walls.
Again she fired. They were at least more cautious now in their rush
- no one seemed anxious to be first upon the stairs. She cast a
wild glance through the open door into the garret at her side. The
two forms in there, on their feet again, were spinning around and
around with the strange, lurching gyrations of automatons - and then
she saw the Adventurer whip a terrific blow to Danglar's face - and
Danglar fall and lie still - and the Adventurer come leaping toward
But faces were showing now above the level of the floor, and there
was suddenly an increased uproar from further back in the rear until
it seemed that pandemonium itself were loosed.
"It's the police! The police behind us!" she heard Shluker's voice
She jumped to her feet. Two of the gang had reached the landing
and were smashing at the Adventurer. There seemed to be a swirling
mob in riot there below. The Adventurer was fighting like a madman.
It was hand to hand now.
"Quick! Quick!" she cried to the Adventurer. "Jump back through
"Oh, no, you don't!" It was Skeeny - she could see the man's brutal
face now. "Oh, no, you don't, you she-devil!" he shouted, and,
over-reaching the Adventurer's guard, struck at her furiously with
his clubbed revolver.
It struck her a glancing blow on the head, and she reeled and
staggered, but recovered herself. And now it seemed as though it
were another battle that she fought - and one more desperate; a
battle to fight back a horrible giddiness from overpowering her,
and with which her brain was swimming, to fight it back for just
a second, the fraction of a second that was needed until - until
- "Jump!" she cried again, and staggered over the threshold, and,
as the Adventurer leaped backward beside her, she slammed the door,
and locked it - and slid limply to the floor.
When she regained consciousness she was lying on the cot. It
seemed very still, very quiet in the garret. She opened her eyes.
It - it must be all right, for that was the Sparrow standing there
watching her, and shifting nervously from foot to foot, wasn't it?
He couldn't be there, otherwise. She held out her hand.
"Marty," she said, and smiled with trembling lips, "we - we owe
you a great deal."
The Sparrow gulped.
"Gee, you're all right again! They said it wasn't nothin', but you
had me scared worse'n down at the iron plant when I had to do the
rough act with that gent friend of yours to stop him from crawlin'
after you and fightin' it out, and queerin' the whole works. You
don't owe me nothin', Miss Gray; and, besides, I'm gettin' a lot
more than is comm' to me, 'cause that same gent friend of yours
there says I'm goin' to horn in on the rewards, and I guess that's
goin' some, for they got the whole outfit from Danglar down, and
the stuff up in the ceiling there, too."
She turned her head. The Adventurer was coming toward the cot.
"Better?" he called cheerily.
"Yes," she said. "Quite! Only I - I'd like to get away from here,
from this - this horrible place at once, and back to - to my flat
if they'll let me. Are - are they all gone?"
The Adventurer's gray eyes lighted with a whimsical smile.
"Nearly all!" he said softly. "And - er - Sparrow, suppose you go
and find a taxi!"
"Me? Sure! Of course! Sure!" said the Sparrow hurriedly, and
retreated through the door.
She felt the blood flood her face, and she tried to avert it.
He bent his head close to hers.
"Rhoda," his voice was low, passionate, "I -"
"Wait!" she said. "Your friend - the assistant district attorney
- did he come?"
"Yes," said the Adventurer. "But I shooed them all out, as soon as
we found you were not seriously hurt. I thought you had had enough
excitement for one night. He wants to see you in the morning."
"To see me" - she rose up anxiously on her elbow - "in the morning?"
He was smiling at her. His hands reached out and took her face
between them, and made her look at him.
"Rhoda," he said gently, "I knew to-night in the iron plant that
you cared. I told him so. What he wants to see you for is to tell
you that he thinks I am the luckiest man in all the world. You are
clear, dear. Even Rough Rorke is singing your praises; he says you
are the only woman who ever put one over on him."
She did not answer for a moment; and then with a little sob of glad
surrender she buried her face on his shoulder.
"It - it is very wonderful," she said brokenly, "for - for even we,
you and I, each thought the other a - a thief."
"And so we were, thank God!" he whispered - and lifted her head
until now his lips met hers. "We were both thieves, Rhoda, weren't
we? And, please God, we will be all our lives - for we have stolen
each other's heart."
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