WARDV.

I. A. R. WYLIE December 1 1923

WARDV.

I. A. R. WYLIE December 1 1923

WARDV.

I. A. R. WYLIE

THEY put him out the week before Christmas. By rights his sentence did not expire till the last day of the month but his conduct had been exemplary,and the prison Chaplain had put in a good word for his. So they made him a present of a week. his clothes and the shilling that had been found in his pocket and let him go.It was eight o'clock in the morning when the great gates clanged

b. Ii 1 U. r~tv. t-'a ni. m.'t tm is nt - ` ,!~`! mt i him I :`ough I hi' thin • I•-~' V~II `h tat: gone in'' six ":1" ` .r -` i.l nad h~-~'t. pt-rsistently • - -` .` I i t l~' i i~ien expsure made hint t. et he~ N'', c't htlt-'ot he came to a standstill -` `tt:i ihw fitt~~st Its' did not know where to w mt jo or si~ months free-will in him had been dq ii Ev~ ry action id been dictated to him till his very th L~:n~ had seemed to run in the grooves pr&'j)ared for N `. su.I .`nlv Ut I e~lv ut: prepared , he had been st na-k to he world to choose and find for himself. The mmensiiy of he thing terrified him, his isolation in *1 this astn~ was ii~e a numbing paralyzinghand on his hr'a:n. It seem eel to him that all his life the exercise yard ant the i-U u~ ct been `: woi'fcl, and now there was this 1 ng, enllc~ly "ng Street. those countless houses going on - - the b~,w of no hill for ever and ever, these un`~` st-~m.'d N ces A motor-bus thundered past him and a ta~:cab and he had to wait many minutes before he `~nt'ured cross Inc road. The noise of the motor-bus "al som~uow shaken his nerve and confused him. He had n tnc r~ht hand turning and go citywards, u: tr.sre was a public-house conveniently situated at the rrer sri he pu~h'-d the swinging dot and entered, Tn,. pacs' -r~pt .:~n odour of freshly strewn saw-iusr m:r.gleri v:~h stale tobacco arid beer, greeted hint it: I a sleepy bar-maid nodded at him over the coun

“Just out?” she asked. He nodded. "I didn't know where to go,” he explained almost ape • never do,” she said. “They always come here lat will you have?” skated, looking over at her with knitted brows, ¡most forgotten. You’d better choose for me. I ?m able to think vet. It’s six months since I You'd better have a B. & S-,” she said. Yes. thanks. That’ll do.”

H E SEATED himself at a table and she came and placed the glass beside him. He was not a hading man. still young, with regular, powerful features ned by temporary lines of weakness and indecision. He :ed up at her gratefully.

It’s six months since I’ve seen a ndly face,” he said.

You’ll see lots now,” she returned with iwkward good-nature. “Your folks’ll ;lad to see you.”

I haven’t got any ‘folks’!” Well, your girl.”

don't now that I have one.” .e laughec

.1 have, anyhow. Lucky ou out now.”

■:ed. •It’s Christi s,” she retorted. “Didn’t

parson said something >ut it. Doe; ¡ it make much difference?”

“S’pose so. People should be sort of different—friendlier, 3ort of kindlier—” she hesitated. “I don’t know

'Nor do I. I’ve forgotten. It’s queer how soon everything is forgotten—in six months!”

“Try another glass,” she suggested. “You’ll feel a bit

He nodded and whilst she busied herself behind the bar he sat forward with his face buried in his hands. The ur.accustomed fiery liquid flowed glowingly through his

veins. It seemed to creep up to his numbed consciousness and to open locked doors of memory. He recalled things long forgotten and one thing that had never ceased to shine like some unquenchable fire through the grey monotony of the days. He saw her now more distinctly— that was all. He saw the red gold aureol of her hair, the steadfast, penetrating eyes, the features at once austere and passionate, the haughty almost arrogant carriage of the head. She had been splendid—that was what he said to himself over and over again. Recklessly splendid! Confronted with his disloyalty, she had saved him. With scorn in her heart she had put her head into the noose for his sake. He wondered if the noose had tightened or if she had escaped. No hint of her fate had reached him in the cell where he had sought strange refuge from pursuing justice. Even Cassidy, scent-hound though he was, had not thought to look in Pentonville for his quarry. But he had known that there was a woman in the case and Cassidy was tireless, merciless in his pursuit. It was not likely that she had escaped.

The man at the table put out his hand and involuntarily his fingers closed on the refilled glass. The bar-maid watched him with a good-natured interest.

“You do seem down,” she said. “Who’d think you’d been let out this morning? Don’t you like to be free?”

week before Christmas 1 when they put him out of prison. He was friendless and alone. For in that blank six months, the woman he loved had gone, somewhere, out of his life. There was bitterness in his thoughts. “Bah! what sense was there in it all”— He was a fugitive still with that human blood-hound Cassidy still on his trail. It was on Christmas Eve that they met. But Cassidy only cursed him with curious gentleness. “Do you think,” he said, “that you two and a bar-maid are the only people who understand things?”— And that, too, was the Christmas Spirit.

“I’m not free,” he said almost fiercely. “No one who comes out of that place ever is. We’re chucked out into a bigger cell and no one bothers to push our food through the cell door—that’s all. The chain’s round our neck for always—and the loneliness out there is worse.”

She laughed uneasily and picked up the coppers he pushed towards her.

“Loneliness! Well, you are a queer softie! You’ll be crying for your mother soon. I never saw one like you before.”

“Perhaps not.” He got up and lurched unsteadily towards the door. The brandy and the fresh air, still more the limitless space around him, had stupefied him.

“Holloway’s where the women go, isn’t it?” he asked dully. “Yes. Got a friend there?” “I don’t know.”

He went out. He was not conscious of choosing any particular direction, but the V. footsteps. suddenly thought that What as it obsessed had become seemed, him the seemed of her? grey battlements to And guide then, his loomed up before him in answer. He stopped, rocking uncertainly on his heels, and looked up at the barred windows—then at the massive gates. If she were there—if she came out! He laughed and shrugged his shoulders. He knew her so well. She had saved him, but she would pass him by now without a glance. He had lost her like a fool—an utter fool.

THE policeman guarding the gates glanced at him doubtfully and suddenly Cassidy came to his mind. It was madness to hang about like this. He must get away quickly—out of the country. Cassidy never forgot— never gave up. He remembered what someone had said to him: “It means ten years, old man.”

Ten years! And the six months had made a will-less coward of him.

He walked fast. It was as though he had some goal to which he was hurrying, but in reality the streets were nameless to him. A kind of panic ran at his heels. The idea of stopping, of resting for an instant was intolerable. He must get on—get on at any cost. But he did not know where to go or what to do. He was almost penniless—the gates of employment were shut against him. And even if they had not been shut Cassidy would be there to nod at him with his slow, significant smile. “Hullo, Roberts, so we’re met at last, eh?”

He walked all day, unconscious of hunger and exhaustion. Then the dusk began to drop. It came with a thickening fog which wrapped the awakening lights in a blurred halo and walled out the roar of traffic. But the darkness, the immediate silence frightened him. It was the silence of the cell he had left only a few hours before. Behind it there were people moving unseen—fellow prisoners, a hundred watching, waiting Cassidys. The walls of this new prison were intangible but they bound him in no less securely. There was no escape.

HE CAME westwards. A dismal little side-street off one of the great thoroughfares drew him irresistibly into its narrow channel. At the far end there was a house lit with a blue tinted lantern and indistinctly the words, “Apartments” was written out against the haze. For an instant he paused and looked up. She had lived there. Many a time he had come past and a light had burned in her window7. Now all was dark and silent. She had gone. Involuntarily, he took a step towards the door— then something moved behind the yellow7 curtain—a shadow loomed out for an instant and vanished. He shrank awray, hurrying close to the walls as though they sheltered him, out on to the great streets. There the lights burned more warmly, cheerfully. The figures of the drifting cloud w7ere outlined against the blazing shop-windows. There w7ere children too, pressing eager noses on the intervening panes in wandering, openeyed desire. The fugitive stopped, too. The richness of these waiting gifts fascinated him. Gold and silver, emeralds and diamonds—if they had been his to pour at her feet she would not look at them or him. He knew7 her too well. Last Christmas he had bought her a cheap, tawdry little ring and she had kissed him in passionate, unreasoned gratitude. But she could not forgive. It wras not in her to forgive—as little as it wras in Cassidy to forget or give up. He turned away. Quite suddenly he realized how tired

he was, how utterly weary, the desire for warmth and rest was irresistible. He remembered a wine-shop not far off—a dirty little place which in better days he would have scorned. But he had only six-pence left and somehow or other he must obtain forgetfulness—

HE TURNED towards the curb. A street-child with a basket full of violets ran out to meet him but drew back shyly as it recognized with the swiftness of experience a poverty equal to its own. The man stopped. She had loved violets. They had been her one great weakness—her one extravagance. Last year he had given her a whole basket full with the tawdry ring in the midst—

“Give me a bunch!” he said brusquely.

“It’s twopence, mister.”

“I dare say. You can keep the change, Kiddy.”

The child danced away. He held the bunch in his hand —lifted it to his face. They were English violets and their perfume crept subtly into his fancy. It was as though she had risen up before him—had brushed past him and something tightened in his throat—an anguish of loneliness and desire. Then suddenly he threw back his head. He did not know what impulse prompted him— but in that succeeding instant something had happened. A man stood under the lamplight, a smile of half-mocking significance, about his lips.

“Well,” he said. “So we’ve met at last, Roberts, eh?” The man turned, stumbled from the curb into the vortex of the traffic. The pursuing phantom had become a reality, gripping him relentlessly. He struggled, tore himself free—then with a cry swung round to meet the something which rushed suddenly upon them both out of the darkness—

DETECTIVE CASSIDY came back to consciousness as he did all things—step by step, with a kind of slow but invincible method. Starting with the premises that something violently unexpected had happened he worked backwards to the moment when it happened, éonnecting each link of the day’s experiences till the chain broke off and dropped him into bottomless nothingness. There had been a day of waiting, as there had been hundreds of days, and then suddenly the thing for which he waited had come to pass. Beneath his impassive slowness there had glared a hot triumph—-he felt it now, though the cause of it was still shrouded in darkness. He tried to think—to re-

member. What had he been waiting for all these months? He knew it had been no small matter. It had been something so closely connected with himself that it had become the whole of his ambition—an ambition oddly sharpened by a smarting sense of failure. Yes, he had been waiting to make good—to blot out a blunder—to lay hands on someone who had escaped him. Suddenly Detective Cassidy remembered. In a flash he saw the white, horror-stricken face turned to him under the lamplight— he felt his own arm shoot out and his hand tighten on a writhing shoulder. Then again the blank wall confronted him. But at least he knew now what had brought him there. Roberts had come where he had waited for him—Roberts, driven by the instinct on which Cassidy had reckoned, had run straight into his clutches—only to escape again.

THE detective groaned under his breath. He could not understand why, though he could think so clearly, the darkness would not lift. He tried to lift his arm and felt it held helplessly to his side.

“What has happened?” he demanded feebly.

Someone touched him—bent over him.

“Are you better?”

“I don’t know—I don’t know what has happened.” “You were hurt—run over. You must be quiet.” “Where am I?”

“In Ward 5 of the Aldwych Hospital.”

“Am I dying?”

“No—you are out of danger.”

He was silent a moment—struggling with a shapeless recollection. The voice was a beautiful one, low pitched and curiously soothing. He wondered where he had heard it before.

“Why is it so dark?” he asked suddenly. “Can’t you turn on the light?”

“The light is on. Your eyes are bandaged. You were hurt about the head and your left foot is broken. We had to tie your arms down for fear you would tear off the bandages.”

“Have I been unconscious long?”

“Scarcely a week.”

“Good God!” He thought of Roberts and clenched his teeth. “What day is it?”

“Christmas Eve.”

“Too late, then.”

He lay still, fighting down the galling disappointment. A week’s start! The whole weary pursuit to begin again—

and the goal had been in sight. Once more the voice broke in upon him.

“Your wife is here. The doctor says she may see you for a minute or two. Shall I bring her?”

“Yes—yes, of course.”

HE HEARD the soft rustle of a woman's skirts and a low eager murmur. He groped blindly towards the sound and the next instant his hand was clasped and passionately kissed. For a moment neither spoke. He knew that she was kneeling beside him and that she was crying. He could feel her tears on his hand.

“You mustn’t,” he said gently. “Alice—you mustn’t! It’s all right now—I’m out of danger—”

“I know. I’m silly. I’m crying because I’m so thankful. You don’t knew what this week has been.”

“Poor little woman!”

His heart was full of love for her, but he was thinking of Roberts. A whole week’s start and perhaps many more weeks before he could take up the pursuit. An irrepressible groan broke from his lips.

“Harry—you are in pain?”

“No—it’s not that. The pain's nothing. It’s the failure—the failure—just at the winning post.”

“What failure, dear?”

“Roberts was in my hands. I had been waiting for him.

I knew' he would come sooner or later. He couldn’t keep away from that girl. It was only a question of time before he slunk back to the place w'here she had been last. I tell you I had hold of him—and then the accident happened— and he got away.” He paused an instant. She did not speak and a sudden wave of angry impatience flooded over him. “You don’t understand,” he said bitterly.

Her hand was against his shoulder. He felt that there were tears in her voice, though it rang with an almost passionate earnestness.

“I do understand, Harry. I know how ambitious you are—how failure hurts. But I don’t want you to think of these things to-night. I’d like you to feel as I do— almost glad that he is free. After all, he can’t be wholly bad. You counted on his love for someone, and people who can love like that have good in them. Harry,'Ahis is our first Christmas together—and you’re safe. I^can’t find it in my heart to wish anyone unhappy.”

“You are a woman,” he said “—senti mental^and unreasonable. I have my duty.^

“Is not mercy a duty?” $;««! ' tJ

He shook his head feebly, though he smiled now.^

"Dear Little wife! What would the world be like if you had a say in it ! But you don’t need to worry. Your protege ia well out of the country by now. If he isn’t, and 1 lay hands on him again, he won’t escape—that 1 promise you.“’

"Is that all you have to say to me—to-night?”

He hesitated an instant—then tried to lift his hand to hb tips.

*‘My dear. 1 am a rough, hard fellow—hardened by many bitter encounters w ith just such men as Roberts— but l love you. I thank God for vou and vour love. Are you satisfied?”

"Yes." she whispered. She bent over him and kissed him. then rose slowly to her feet. “Your nurse is beckoning to me. dear 1 have to go. 1 am almost jealous. For she is so beautiful and the doctor tells me her nursing

"Ah!" He turned his head a little as though roused to a sudden interest "What is she like?"

'1 can hardly describe her. She has red-gold hair and w.'nderful grey eyes. She stems too lovely to be a nurse.”

He smiled again.

"Too lovely to be a nurse.” he repeated under his

ÍJ K DID not answer his wife’s good-night. He lay very T still, listening intently to every sound in the quiet world. He was marvelously clear-headed now. Ilis very blindness seemed to have quickened each other sense. There was not a sigh of weariness or pain that escaped him. not a footfall that he could not follow backwards and forwards through the ward. It was as though his hearing fett through the darkness and painted for him each detail of his surroundings. He knew, for instance, that there was something quite close to him—in the next hed—someone whose sleep was broken by fitful dreams. Here and there a disjointed sentence fell on the silence. Cassidy lay and listened, conjecturing.

lYesently the nurse came past his bed. Her footsteps were almost noiseless but her heard her and called to her. She came at once.

"Is there anything you want?”

Yes—I can’t sleep. Are you very busy?”

Not veryIt is getting late. My patients are all ready for the night. What can I do for you?”

"Would you sit and talk to me for a moment? I think it would soothe me. You have a beautiful voice—too beautiful for a hospital ward.”

“Can anything be too beautiful for that?” she retorted gently.

"I suppose not. I know what hospital wards are like— barren ugly places—I can picture it all.”

’ "It’s not ugly to-night."

"Isn’t it? Won’t you describe it to me?”

He felt that she smiled.

"You see, it is Christmas Eve. We’ve all tried to make things as beautiful as we could—inside and out. My grumpiest patient has put on his best humor. There is a big Christmas tree in the middle covered with different coloured candles. It has not been lit yet. We shall light it tomorrow.

I shall not see it,” Cassidy said.

"I will make you see it now.”

CHE came back in a moment and a subtle perfume of ^ the woods filled his nostrils. He drank it in luxuriously.

"That’s good. It takes one back to one’s childhood doesn’t it? What else is there?”

"Not much. A piano. Good-natured people come and give us a concert at Christmas and New Year. It’s quite

gay.”

"Do you sing?" he asked suddenly.

She was silent a moment.

"Yes—-a little.”

Won’t you sing now?”

"It's too late. The doctor would be angry.”

"No—no—he wouldn’t. It would soothe us all for the right. Perhaps the poor fellow next door to me might have easier dreams. Try.”

Again the instant’s hesitation. Then he heard her go to the piano. Presently she began to sing—softly so that the sound of her voice scarcely filled the room—but with an amazing beauty of tone and feeling. It was a little oldfashioned Christmas song, childish enough, and very sweet. Cassidy struggled over on to his side to listen bette-. He did not understand music or care for it, but he was thinking rapidly. He was thinking of the girl who had tricked him so cleverly over the Roberts forgery case. She had been an operatic singer until she had met Roberts— people said that she had a lovely voice—far too lovely for a hospital ward. Cassidy cursed under his breath. His weakness maddened him. He would have given a year’s r to have torn the bandages from his eyes. Then he to laugh at himself. Undoubtedly he was a little

The silence around him deepened. It was like a profound pool into which each note of the soft pure voice fell like a pearl. Cassidy’s neighbour had ceased his brorien murmurings. Cassidy himself seemed to sleep.

Then the singer played a last chord and came noiselessly across the ward. She was all alone now—-in sole charge. A dim light burnt over the bed of Cassidy’s neighbour and the reflection fell on a quiet upturned face. She bent over it Very gently she took one of the clenched hands that lay on the coverlet and tried to open it. The fingers yielded to her pressure and a few withered violets, colourless and almost unrecognizable, slipped from the unconscious hold. She took up the flowers, one by one, then she looked at the sleeper’s face again and saw his eyes were open.

"Gabrielle!" he whispered.

She made no answer. The seconds seemed to be counted out in long heart-beats. The only sound was Cassidy’s deep, regular breathing. Cassidy’s neighbour turned his head wearily away.

"It’s a dream,” he said. "I have wanted you so much. I thought you sang to me.”

“I have been—singing to you.”

UK SEEMED not to understand. He lay very still, -*■ hiding his face from her.

"I shall wake up presently,” he said huskily.

"You are awake now.” She bent over him again and gently forced his face to hers. “You have been dreaming,” she whispered. “This isn’t a dream. It’s Gabrielle. Don’t you know it’s all real—when I touch you?”

"1 daren’t believe. I don’t know what has happened—” "You were knocked down and injured. Don’t you remember?”

“I remember Cassidy. Where is he?”

“Here.”

He turned his head and a low wavering laugh broke from his lips.

“Cassidy there! It’s almost funny, isn’t it? He doesn’t know? How glad he’ll be when he sees who’s next to him. And you too! What a haul—!” He broke off, staring up at her. “You—you’ve nursed him?” he whispered.

“Yes.”

“Good God—do you expect mercy or gratitude from

hint?"

“No. It was simply my duty.”

His eyes never left her face.

“How long have you been here?”

“Since you went in. It seemed a good place to hide, and then—”

“And then—what?”

“I wanted to start afresh.”

HE SAID nothing for an instant. A quiver passed over his white face.

“A fresh start—alone?”

“Yes.” He turned his head away. His fingers had tightened on the coverlet in a convulsive movement and she went on quietly. “I wanted to begin again—to make up for things. It seemed to me that I had suffered justly. Wrong isn’t only wrong—it’s misery. Had we been honest to the world, we might have been honest to each other. That was our punishment.”

“Gabrielle!” he muttered. “And it was I who dragged you into it all—you ruined yourself to save me.”

“I loved you,” she answered simply.

Cassidy lay very still. The bandages no longer irritated him. All that he needed to know was being borne to him on those quick broken sentences.

“It’s all past and done with,” Roberts said quietly. “I see that—I’ve known it all along. It’s what I deserve. But to-night I want you to try and think of me differently. To-night things are different. A common little barmaid told me that at this time we ought to think more kindly of each other. Look upon me as a poor devil, dying on your hands. To all intents it’s true enough. Cassidy’s got me after all. It means ten years, they say, and I shan’t face ten years. Prison either breaks or hardens a man—it breaks me. You can afford to forgive—you can afford to believe that I was faithful to you at the bottom. I love you. I’ve never loved any other woman. You can believe that.”

“I do,” she whispered.

“Gabrielle!”

“Look!” She held out the withered violets. “They found these in your hand. You must have just bought them when the accident happened and you wouldn’t let go of them through all your delirium. I remembered last Christmas—and I knew you had remembered. Then I understood—”

“And forgave?”

“Isn’t that the same thing?”

He caught her hand to his lips.

“And now it’s too late—we’re trapped, both of us.” “It’s not too late,” she whispered back. “We’re going to face whatever comes—however long, for each other.” “Ten years!” he said dully. “It’s too long, Gabrielle— too long.”

BOTH were silent. Cassidy knew that she had knelt down and that her arms encircled the man he had hunted down for six fruitless months. He had them both. Fate had been doubly kind in her roundabout way and a hard smile of triumph crept about his lips. Just for an

instant his wife’s words came back to him—oddly mingled with the perfume of the fir-tree—but it sank instantly in a ruthless sea of ambition. Not wholly bad! Perhaps not —that was not for him to judge. He had his duty.

Suddenly he knew that the woman was crying, silently, bitterly. That did not affect him. But something else had happened. He did not know what it was, but every nerve in his body had become alert, every faculty had been aroused to straining attention. There was something in the air— at first indefinable—a kind of wave of voiceless panic which suddenly found expression in a sharp shrill scream of terror. Then Cassidy knew. He tried to spring up and fell back instantly, the blood in his veins grown cold. He was helpless. And somewhere, unseen, a hideous, dreaded enemy was sweeping on to his destruction.

In the ward itself there was a subdued rush. After that first scream no one spoke except Nurse Gabrielle. She gave her orders sharply but very calmly.

“You are all able to walk, at least. Make for the lift. Go quietly and help each other. There is no danger.”

DUT the stifling smell of smoke was already in the air. •*-* Cassidy bit his teeth together. A piteous appeal had rushed to his lips but he drove it back. He would be saved without that. One of the doctors would come—Someone ran back.

“The smoke is in the passage—it is impossible to get through—we are cut off.”

“There is the fire escape outside the window. One by one—you must do the best you can. Hold on and go slowly. If you keep your heads, nothing can happen to you. No—no. I will go last—”

Cassidy tore at his bandages, but his hands had lost all power. And suddenly he screamed. It was the inevitable cry of his appalling helplessness. Pride, courage, ambition were lost in the awful thing that was coming to him. If he could have got up and faced it, fought it, he would not have flinched—but to wait there—! For an instant he believed that he was alone— then he heard Nurse Gabrielle’s voice. It had sunk almost to a whisper.

“He can’t walk. What shall we do?”

Cassidy knew than that Roberts was still there. He pictured him, leaning against the wall by the fire escape, gazing down on his pursuer’s face. The roles had been swiftly, miraculously changed. They had been in his power and he meant to show no mercy. He was-now in theirs. He tore the last bandage asunder and faced them. But they were not looking at him. There was an instant’s tense silence. Neither spoke but the swift exchange of thought between them beat like some awful wireless message against Cassidy’s brain.

“He is alone—helpless—no one will ever know.”

“They couldn’t blame us. It’s each man for himself.” “And even if they did blame—we’d get away—right away. We’d be free.”

“It’s our chance—the chance of war—

CASSIDY waited, wordless. Before these two he had become the criminal awaiting sentence of death. The utter futility of appeal held him silent. A snake-like line of smoke writhed past him—like some pale herald of the lurid army whose first glow shone against the opposite wall. Trivial details caught his attention—the disordered beds, the flowers which his wife had brought. And then he looked up at the man and woman. The unspoken conversation between them had suddenly ceased. Nurse Gabrielle was looking at the fir-tree. A tiny gold cross, fastened to its top-most branch, shone brightly in the increasing light. Roberts followed her glance and then their eyes met.

“Could you manage—?” she asked.

He nodded.

“Yes, I think so. Thank God, I’m strong enough. A battered-in head won’t matter. Yes, I’ll manage. It’s the only thing to do, isn’t it?”

“Yes—to-night—it’s the only thing.”

Roberts turned quietly to Detective Cassidy.

“You’ve got to trust me,” he said.

Cassidy made no answer. He was unconscious of any pain, as he was lifted in a pair of strong arms. He closed his eyes for what seemed an eternity, holding his breath whilst for long minutes they wavered and the man who held him groaned beneath his burden. A gust of fresh night-wind blew against his face. And then a far-off cheer came to him.

“We’re nearly there?” he asked.

“Nearly—don’t look!”

Cassidy obeyed. He was like a child, passively, blindly yielding his faith into his enemy’s hands. Then, suddenly, it was all over. The cheer grew to a roar of triumph, sounding high above the hiss of steam. Cassidy opened his eyes. He was lying on a mattress on the edge of the crowd.

Roberts bent over him.

“You’re all right?”

“Yes. Is—Nurse Gabrielle safe?”

“Yes. She came down after us.”— There was an instant’s silence. Roberts straightened his aching shoulders Continued on page 66

W a r d V .

Continued from page 22

j “Look here,” he said. “Get it over, j Cassidy. There’s a police sergeant over I there—get it over. It’s kinder in the end.”

CASSIDY lay still. Over the heads of the crowd he could see the flames licking their way up to the high hospital walls. His lips twitched.

“D—n you!” he said but with a curious gentleness. “Do you think that you two and a bar-maid are the only people who understand things? Do you think you’ve got the monopoly of every decent feeling? Do you think I didn’t see that bit of tinsel too? I haven’t recognized you to-night and I shall never recognize you again. Get out—both of you!”

“You mean—? Cassidy, you’re throwing away your big chance!”

Cassidy turned his face away from the blaze.

“Perhaps my wife won’t think so,” he said quietly. “Perhaps I don’t think so myself. Women are sometimes right, after all. Get out—and good luck to you!” Their hands met. Roberts turned and stumbled through the crowd to where a woman waited for him.