FRANK L. PACKARD
CHAPTER XXI The Last Chance
JOHN BRUCE closed the door of Larmon’s suite, and taking the elevator went up to his own room in the Bayne-Miloy Hotel, two floors above. Here he flung himself almost wearily into a chair. Larmon had gone to bed; but bed offered no appeal to him, John Bruce, in spite of the fact that he was conscious of great mental fatigue. Bed without sleep was a horror, and his spirits were too depressed to make sleep even a possibility.
Prom a purely selfish standpoint, and he admitted to utter selfishness now, it had been a hollow victory.
Crang was gone, disposed of, and as far as Larmon was concerned the man nolongerexisted, for if Crang had held a certain intimate knowledge of Larmon’s life over Larmon's head, Larmon was now in exactly the same position in respect of Crang. And Crang, too, for the time being at least, was no longer a factor in Claire’s life.
He smiled grimly to himself. Hollow! The victory had been sweeping, complete, conclusive—for every one but himself! He had not even waited to leave the dock before he had telephoned Claire.
And Claire had— He rose suddenly and began to walk feverishly up and down the room. Hollow!
He laughed out shortly. She had curtly refused to talk to him. He had only meant to telephone to say that he was on the way up to her house, and he had managed to say that much — and she had coldly, contemptuously informed him that she would not be at home, and had hung up the receiver. She had given him no opportunity to say any more.
It was not like Claire. It had been so unexpected that he had left the dock mentally dazed. The sight of the liner out in the stream had seemed to mock him ironically. After that, until now, he had followed the line of least resistance. He had come back here to the hotel, and dined with Larmon.
He stood still in the middle of the room. Larmon! It had been a singular evening that he had just spent with Larmon.
He had got a new viewpoint of Larmon—a strange, grave sympathetic Larmon. He had given Larmon the í details of everything that had happened; and Larmon had led him on to talk—of everything, and anything, it seemed now, as he looked back upon it. And somehow, he could not tell why, even while he felt that Larmon was drawing him out, urging him even'to speak of Claire and the most intimate things of the last few weeks, he had been glad]to respond. It was only when Larmon for a little while had discussed his great chain of gambling houses that he, John Bruce, had felt curiously detached from it all and estranged from the other, as though he were masquerading as some one else, as some one whom Larmon believed to be John Bruce, and as though he in his true self had no interest in these matters any longer in a personal sense, as though his connection with them had automatically ceased with the climax of Crang’s removal. It was queer! But then his mind had been obsessed, elsewhere. And yet here, too, he had been frank with Larmon—frank enough to admit the feelings that had prompted him to refrain from actual play only two nights before. He remembered the quick little tattoo of Larmon’s quill toothpick at this admission, and Larmon’s tight little smile.
"Y'ES, it had been a singular evening! In those few hours he seemed to have grown to know Larmon as though he had known the man all his life, to be drawn in a personal way, to admire Larmon as a man. There was something of debonair sang-froid about Larmon. He had made no fuss over his escape that day, and much less been effusive in any thanks. In fact, that seemed to be about the only subject that had not been mentioned. Larmon’s philosophy of life was apparently definitely fixed and settled; and, in so far as Larmon was concerned was a gamble—and, consistently enough, his own activities in that respect were on as vast a scale as possible.
Larmon with his unemotional face and his quill toothPi j j ?’ -n0t unemoti°nal! When Larmon had finally pleaded fatigue and a desire to go to bed there had been something in Larmon’s face and Larmon’s “good-night,” that still lingered with him, John Bruce, and which even now he could not define.
John Bruce’s brows gathered into tight furrows. His
imnd nad flown off at a tangent. There was Claire! It had
not been like Claire. Nor had he meant nor did he intend now to accept her dismissal as final. But what was it that had happened? What was it? He could think only of one thing—the letter he had written to Larmon. It was a certainty that Crang’s hand was in this somewhere, and Crang had said that he had shown the letter to Claire, but
The telephone rang.
John Bruce stepped to the desk, and picked up the instrument.
“Yes? Hello,” he said.
The clerk’s voice from the office answered him :
“There’s a man down here, Mr. Bruce, who insists on seeing you. He’s pretty seedy, and looks as though he had been on a bat for a week. I’m sorry to bother you, but we can’t get rid of him. He says his name is Hawkins.”
“Send him up at once!” said John Bruce sharply.
“Yes, sir.” The clerk coughed deprecatingly. “Very well, Mr. Bruce. Thank you.”
Hawkins! John Bruce walked to the door of his suite, and opened it. He looked at his watch. It was getting on now to eleven o’clock. What on earth had brought Hawkins up here to the Bayne-Miloy at this hour? He smiled a little grimly as he stood waiting on the threshold, and the recollection of the night before last came back to him. Well, at least, he was safe to-night from any kidnapping through the medium of Hawkins.
The elevator door clanged a little way down the corridor, and Hawkins, followed by a bell boy, stepped out.
“This way, Hawkins!” John Bruce called—and dismissed the bell-boy with a wave of his hand.
And then, as Hawkins reached the door, John Bruce stared in amazement, and for a moment absolved the clerk for his diagnosis. Hawkins’ face was like parchment, devoid of color; his hands, twisting at the old felt hat, trembled as with the ague; and the blue eyes, fever-burned they seemed, stared out in a fixed way from under the shaggy brows.
John Bruce pulled the old man inside the apartment
“Good Lord, Hawkins!” he exclaimed anxiously. “What’s the matter with you?”
Hawkins caught at John Bruce’s arm.
“It’s to-morrow morning,” he said hoarsely. “Tomorrow morning at eight o’clock.”
“What is?” inquired John Bruce. He forced the old cabman gently into a chair. “You’re upset, Hawkins. Here—wait! I’ll get you something.”
But Hawkins held him back.
“I don’t want a drink.” There was misery, bitterness, in Hawkins’ voice. “I don’t want a drink—for once. It’s come! It—it’s come to the end now. Crang and— and my little girl are going to be married to-morrow morning.”
And then John Bruce laughed quietly, and laid his hand assuringly on the old cabman’s shoulder.
“No, Hawkins,” he said. “I don’t know where you got that idea; but it won’t be to-morrow morning, nor for a good many to-morrow mornings either. Crang at the present moment is on board a ship on his way to South America.”
“I know,” said Hawkins dully. “But half an hour ago I left him with Claire in Paul Veniza’s house.”
John Bruce’s hand tightened on Hawkins’ shoulder until the old man winced.
“You what?” John Bruce cried out. “Yes,” said Hawkins. “I heard him talking about it in the back room. They didn’t know I was there. He said there was something the matter with the engines.”
Crang back! ' John Bruce’s face was set as chiselled marble.
“Do you know what you are saying, Hawkins?” he demanded fiercely, as though to trample down and sweep aside by the brute force of his own incredulity the other’s assertion. “Do you know what you are saying— do youV’
“Yes, I know,” said Hawkins helplessly. “He said you nearly killed him today, and—”
John Bruce’s laugh, with a savagery that had him now at its mercy and in its grip, rang suddenly through the room.
“Then, for once, he told the truth!” he cried. “He tricked me cold with that old bus last night, and trapped me in the rats’
I hole where his gang holds out, but—”
Hawkins stumbled to his feet. His face seemed to have grown grayer still, more haggard and full of abject misery.
“That’s it, then!” he whispered. “I—I understand now.
I was drunk last night. Oh, my God, I’m to blame for this too!”
John Bruce pushed Hawkins almost roughly back into his chair. Last night was gone. It was of no significance any more.
“Never mind about that!” he said between his teeth. “It doesn’t matter now. Nothing matters now except Claire. Go on, tell me! What does it mean? To-morrow morning, you said. Why this sudden decision about tomorrow morning?”
jLJ AWKINS’ lips seemed dry. He circled them again and -*■ A again with his tongue.
“He said you nearly killed him to-day, as I—I told you,” said Hawkins, fumbling for his words.
“And he said that you had been lovers before that night when you were stabbed and that he wasn’t going to stand for it any longer, and—and”—Hawkins’ voice broke— “and that she belonged to him. And he said she was the only one who could stop this trouble between you and him before it was too late, and that was by marrying him at once. And—and Claire said she would.”
Hawkins stopped. His old felt hat was on his knees, and he twisted at it aimlessly with shaking fingers.
John Bruce stood motionless.
“Go on,” he bit off his words.
“That’s all,” said Hawkins, “except he made her promise not to let you know anything about it. They’re going to
leave the house to-morrow morning, and are going down to Station Island to get married because there’s some minister down there he knows, Crang said. And I’m to take Crang, and—and”—the old man turned away his face—“I—I’m to be best man. That —that’s what he said—best man.”
John Bruce walked abruptly to the window, and stared blindly out into the night. His brain seemed afire.
For a time neither man spoke.
“You said you loved her,” said Hawkins at last. “I came to you. There wasn’t any other place to go. Paul Veniza can’t do anything.”
John Bruce turned from the window, and walking to Hawkins laid his two hands on the other’s shoulders. He was calmer now.
“Yes, I love her,” he said huskily, “and I think—I am not sure—but I think now there is a chance she can be made to change her mind even now at the last minute. But that means I must see her, or rather, that she must see me.”
Hawkins paused in the twisting of his felt hat to raise bewildered eyes.
“I’ve got the car here,” he said. “I’ll take you down.”
“The car!” exclaimed John Bruce quickly. “Yes, I never thought of that! Listen, Hawkins! Claire refused to see me this afternoon, or even to talk to me over the telephone. I am not quite sure why. But no matter what her reason was, I must see her now at once. I have something to tell her that I hope will persuade her not to go on with this tomorrow morning—or ever.” His voice was growing grave and hard. “I hope you understand, Hawkins. I believe it may succeed. If it fails, then neither you now, I nor any soul on earth can alter her decision. That’s all that I can tell you now.”
Hawkins nodded his head. A little color, eagerness, hope, had come into his face.
“That’s enough,” he said tremulously, “as long as you— you think there is a chance even yet. And—and you do, don’t you?”
“Yes,” said John Bruce, “I think there is more than a chance— If I can see her alone and make her listen to me. The car will be just the thing. But she would refuse to come out, if she knew I were in it. I depend on you for that. We’ll drive down there, and you will have to make some excuse to get her to come with you. After that you can keep on driving us around the block until I either win or lose.”
T T AWKINS rose hurriedly to his feet.
“Let us go, John Bruce! For God’s sake, let us go!” he cried eagerly. “I’ll— I’ll tell her Mrs. Hedges—that’s my landlady—has got to see her at once. She’ll come quick enough.”
John Bruce put on his hat and coat, and without a word led the way to the door— but at the door paused for an instant. There was Larmon—and Crang was back. And then he shook his head in quick decision. There was time enough later. It would serve no purpose to tell Larmon now other than the thankless one of giving Larmon a restless night.
John Bruce went on. He did not speak again until, outside the hotel, he stepped into the travelling pawnshop as Hawkins opened the car door for him.
“You will have to make sure that Crang has gone,” he said quietly. “Don’t stop in front of the house, Hawkins.”
“I’ll make sure,” whispered Hawkins, as he climbed to his seat.
“Oh, my God, my little girl!”
The old car jolted forward. John Bruce’s face was set again in hard, chiselled lines. He tried to think— but now his brain seemed curiously impotent, as though it groped through chaos and through turmoil only to stagger back bewildered, defeated, a wounded thing. And for a time it was like that, as he sat there swaying with the lurch of the speeding car, one thought impinging fast upon another only to be swallowed up so quickly in turn by still another that he could correlate no one of them.
And then, after a little time again, out of this strange mental strife images began to take form, as sharply defined and distinct one from the other as before they had been mingled in hopeless confusion—and he cried out aloud in sudden agony of soul. It was to save his life that this had happened. He had wrung that knowledge from Crang. That
'TUIE STORY SO FAR:— Hawkins, New York cab driver, inveterate drunkard, permits Paul Veniza, pawnbroker, to adopt his motherless bo,by girl, Claire. Twenty years later, Urlin P. Neyret, proprietor of gambling houses, meets in Honolulu John Bruce, of good family, but down and out temporarily, and offers him a big income to do his bidding in anything. Bruce returns to a life of luxury, meets Claire in a travelling pawnshop (a taxi driven by Hawkins), is injured in a fight, and takes refuge in the girl’s room, falling unconscious. Dr. Crang, cocaine addict, as price for saving Bruce’s life, extracts a promise of marriage from Claire. Bruce, recovering slowly, witnesses robbery by Crang and accomplices of Veniza’s safe. Bruce declares his love to Claire. He then meets Hawkins again and learns the latter is Claire’s father. Hawkins renews to Bruce and Veniza his pledge that he will drink no more. Will he keep it? Bruce discloses to Veniza his love for Claire. Crang attacks Claire brutally, in a drugged frenzy, and is severely handled by Bruce, who rescues the girl after a terrific fight. Crang threatens Bruce’s life. Bruce returns to his life of luxury, is tricked by a ruse into Crang’s den of scoundrels, and is threatened with death unless he lures Neyret (alias Larmon) by a trick letter into Crang’s power for blackmail. Claire learns of the plot, is led to believe Bruce has been guilty of a dastardly betrayal, and Crang used the trick letter to get Larmon into his den. By a ruse, Bruce turns the tables on Crang, and threatens to wring the doctor’s neck unless he discloses the ivhole truth of his infamous plot. Bruce then puts him aboard a ship bound for South America, Crang escapes and gets ashore the same night and seeks revenge by wringing a promise from Claire to marry him next morning at eight. Hawkins overhears and goes to warn John Bruce of Crang’s intentions.
was the lever he meant to use with Claire now, and it must succeed. He must make it succeed! It seemed to drive
him mad now, that thought—that to-morrow morning she should die for him. Not physical death—worse than that! God! It was unthinkable, horrible, abominable.
He dropped back on the seat. He battled for calmness. In a little while Claire would be here beside him—for a little while. He shook his head. This was not real, nothing of his life had been real since that moon-mad night on the sands of Apia. No; that was not true! Soul, mind and body rose up in fierce denial. His love was real, a living, breathing, actual reality. Claire—
TOHN BRUCE sank his face in his hands. Hours seemed to pass. And then he was conscious that the car had stopped. He roused himself, and drawing the window curtain slightly, looked out. Hawkins had stopped a few houses down past the one-time pawnshop.
John Bruce rose suddenly and changed his seat to the one in the far opposite corner, his back to the front of the car. The time seemed interminable. Then he heard a light footstep ring on the pavement, and he heard Hawkins’ voice. The car door was opened, a dark form entered, sat down, the door closed, and the car started forward.
It was strange! It was like that here in this car, that'he had stepped in one night and found Claire—as she would now find him. That was so long ago. And it seemed so long since even he had last seen her—since that night when, piqued so unwarrantably, he had left Paul Veniza’s house! He felt his hands tremble. He steadied himself. He did not want to frighten or startle her now. “Claire,” he said softly.
He heard a slight, quick rustle of garments—and then the light in the car was flashed on.
She was leaning tensely forward, a little figure with loose cloak flung over her shoulders, without hat, a wondrous sheen from the light on the dark, silken hair, her eyes wide her finger still on the electric-light button.
“You!” she cried sharply. “And Hawkins too in this!” She reached for the door handle; but John Bruce caught her hand.
“Claire!” he pleaded hoarsely. “Wait! If it is a trick, at least you know that with Hawkins and me you will come to no harm. What else could I do? You would not speak to me this afternoon, you would not let me see you, and I must talk to you to-night.”
She looked at him steadily.
“Must?” she repeated coldly. “And to-night? Why to-night?”
“Because,” John Bruce answered quickly, “to-morrow would be too late. I know about to-morrow morning. Hawkins told me. He was outside the door of that room when Crang was talking to you tonight.”
She sank back in her seat with a little cry. Her face had gone white—but again she steadied herself.
“And—and do you think that is any reason why you should have inveigled me into this car?” she asked dully. “Do you think that anything you can say will alter —to-morrow morning?”
“Yes; I do;” said John Bruce earnestly. “But”—he smiled a little bitterly—“lam afraid, too, that it will be hopeless enough if first you will not tell me what has so suddenly come between us. Claire, what is ti?”
The dark eyes lighted with a glint, half angry, half ironical.
“Is that what you brought me here for?”
“No,” he said quietly.
“Then,” she said coolly, “if you do not know, I will toll you. I read a letter that you wrote to a certain Mr. Larmon.”
It was a long minute before he spoke.
“I I thought it might be that,” he said slowly. “I knew you had seen it. Crang told me so. Andan d 1 was afraid you might believe it Claire.”
“Believe it!” She returned monotonously. “Had I any choice? Have 1 any now? I knew you were in danger. I knew it was written to save your life. I knew it was your handwriting. I knew you wrote it,” she turned away her head. “It was so miserable a lie, so cowardly a betrayal—to save your life.”
“But so hard to believe, so bitter to believe,”
Continued on page 46
Continued from page 25
—there was a sudden eager thrill in John Bruce’s voice—“that you wept upon it. Look, Claire,” he cried. “I have that letter here—and this, that I took from Crang to-day when I turned the tables on him. See! Read them both!” He took from his pocket the letter and the slip cut from the bottom of the sheet, and laid them in her lap. “The bottom was written in invisible ink—the way I always communicated privately with Larmon. Salt brings it out. I knew Larmon would subject it to the test, so I was willing to write anything that Crang dictated. I wrote that secret message on the bottom of the paper while Crang was out of the room where he had me a prisoner. Oh, don’t you see now, Claire? When your tears fell on the paper faint traces of the secret writing began to appear. That gave Crang the clue,'and he worked at it until he had brought out the message, and then he cut off the bottom before delivering the letter to Larmon,
TOHN BRUCE stopped. Claire’s face
was buried in the cushions, and, huddled in the corner of the car, she was sobbing bitterly.
“Don’t! Don’t cry, Claire!” John Bruce whispered, and laid his hand over hers where it crushed the letter in her lap.
“I believed it,” she said. “I did you that wrong. There is no forgiveness for such meanness of soul as that.”
“No,” John Bruce answered gently, “there is no forgiveness—because there is nothing to forgive. It was only another piece of that miserable hound’s cunning that tricked us both. I did not appreciate what he was after in that reference to you; I thought he was only trying to make the letter bullet proof in its plausibility for Larmon’s benefit—I never thought that he would show it to you.”
She had drawn her hand away, but her face was still hidden; and for a moment there was silence between them.
“Claire,” John Bruce said in a low voice, “the night I left your house you said that rather than regretting your promise tomarry Crang, you had come to be glad you had made it. Can you still say that?”
She lifted her face now, tear-stained, the brown eyes strangely radiant through the wet lashes.
“Yes,” she said. “I am glad. So glad— because I know now that it was worth it alF so many, many times over.”
“Claire”—his voice was lower still-— “I left your house then angry, jealous, misjudging you because you had said that. You asked for forgiveness a minute agowhen there was nothing to forgive; I asked for forgiveness from you after that night, but even then I did not know how far beyond the right to forgiveness I had gone.”'
She stared at him in a startled way.
“What—what do you mean?” shebreathed.
And now John Bruce’s face was alight.
“You have confessed your love, Claire,” he cried passionately. “It was not fair perhaps, but I am past all that now—and you would not have confessed it in any other way. Glad! I was a stranger that night when you bought my life—and tonight you are glad, not because my life i& now or ever could be worth such a sacrificeas yours, but because love has come to make you think so, sweetheart, and you care—you care for me.”
“You know!” Her face was deathly white. “You know about—about that night?” she faltered.
John Bruce had both her hands imprisoned now.
“Yes; I know!” He laughed with a strange buoyancy; passion, triumph werevibrant in his voice. “Did Crang not tell you how near to death he came to-day? I choked the truth out of him. Yes; I know! I know, that it was to save my lifeyou made thiat premise, that you sold
Everything you held dear in life for me— but it is over now.” . ;
TTE WAS beside her. He raised he 1 two ft hands to draw her arms around fiTs neck. She struggled back.
“No, no!” she cried wildly. “Oh, you must not—you must not!”
“Must not!” His voice rang his. challenge to the world. The blood was pounding in mad abandon through his veins. His soul itself seemed aflame. Closer, closer he drew her to him. “Must not! There is only you and me—and our love— on all the earth.”
But still she struggled—and then suddenly the tears came.
“Oh, you are so strong — so strong,” she sobbed—and like some weary child finding rest her head dropped upon his shoulder and lay hidden there.
“Claire! Claire!” It was his soul that
He kissed the silken hair, and fondled it; and kissed the tear-wet eyes and his cheek lay against hers; and she was in his arms, and he held her there tight-clasped so that she might never go again.
And after a time she sobbed no more; and her hand, lifting, found his face and touched it gently, and creeping upward brushed the hair back from his forehead— and then suddenly she clung to him with all her strength, and drew his head down until her lips met his.
And there was no world about them. And time was non-existent, and only they two lived.
It was Claire at last who put his arms from her in a wistful, lingering way.
“We have been mad for a little while,” she whispered. “Take me back home now, John—and—and you must never try to see me again.”
And something seemed to grow chill and cold within John Bruce’s heart.
“Not that, Claire!” he cried out. “You do not mean that—that, after this, you will go on with—with to-morrow morning.”
A brave little effort at a smile quivered on her lips.
“We had our hour, John,” she said; '"“yours and mine. It can never be taken from us, and I shall live in it all my life; but it is over now. Yes; I shall go through with to-morrow morning. There is no other way. I must keep my promise.”
“No!” he cried out again. “It shall never be! Claire, you cannot mean what you are saying! A promise like that! It was forced upon you inhumanly, horribly. He would have murdered me.”
“But to-night you are alive,” she answered quietly.
“Alive! yes!” he said fiercely. “I am alive, and—”
“It is because you are alive that I promised,” she broke in gently. “He kept his word. I cannot break mine.”
“Alive!” John Bruce laughed now in sudden, bitter agony. “Alive—yes! And do you think that I can walk about the streets and talk, and smile, and suck the honey out of life, while you have paid for it with a tortured soul? Claire, you shall not! That man is—No, wait! There is myself. He called me a snivelling hypocrite. You shall know the worst of me before you know the worst of him. There is not much to tell—because he had told you. I am a gambler. All my life I’ve gambled. As far back as I can remember I’ve been a rolling stone. My life has been useless, utterly worthless. But I was never ashamed of it; I never saw any reason to be ashamed until you came into my life. It hasn’t been the same since then—and it will never be the same again. You have given me something to live for now, Claire!”
CHE shook her head.
^ “You do not argue well,” she said softly. “If I have [brought this to you, John, I am so glad—so glad for this, too. Oh, I cannot tell you how glad I am, for, because I loved you, the knowledge of what your life was hurt me. But I had faith in you, John, as I always shall have. So don’t you see”—the brave little smile came again—“that this is a reward, something tangible and great, to make still more worth while the promise that I
He stared at her. He swept his hand across his eyes. She seemed to be slipping away from him—beyond—beyond his reach.
“That man!” he said desperately. “You said you knew him—but you do not know him. He is the head and front and brains •of a gang of crooks. I know! He held me a
prisoner in their dirty lair, a hidden place, a cellar over in the slums like rats they were. He is a criminal, and a dangerous one—while he masquerades with his medicines. God alone knows the crimes, if there are any, that he has not committed. He is a foul, unclean and filthy thing, debauched and dissolute, a moral leper. Claire, do you understand all this—that his life is pollution and defilement, that love to him is lust, that your innocence—”
With a broken, piteous cry, Claire stopped him.
And again he stared at her. She did not speak, but in her eyes he read the torment of a far greater and fuller appreciation of the price than he, he knew, though it turned his soul sick within him, could ever have.
And suddenly he covered his face with his hands. v
“Bought!” he said brokenly in his agony. “Oh, my God, this has bought
He felt his hands drawn away, and her two palms laid upon his cheeks. He looked at her. How white she was!
“Help me, John,” she said steadily. “Don’t make it harder.”
She reached out and touched the bell button beside the seat.
In a subconscious way he remembered that was the signal for Hawkins to bring the travelling pawnshop to the end of its circuit around the block in its oldtime trips to Persia. He made no effort to stop her. There was something of ultimate finality in her face and eyes that answered, before it was uttered, the question that stumbled on his lips.
“Claire! Claire,” he pleaded wildly. “Will nothing change you?”
“There is no other way,” she said.
He stretched out his arms to draw her to him again, to lay her head once more upon his shoulder—but now she held him back.
“No!” she whispered. “Be merciful now, John—my strength is almost gone.”
And there was something in her voice that held him back.
The car stopped.
And then, as the door was opened and she stood up, suddenly she leaned swiftly forward and pressed her lips to his—and springing from the car was gone.
John Bruce groped his way out of the car. Across the sidewalk the door of Paul Veniza’s house closed. Hawkins, standing by the car door, clutched at his arm. And Hawkins’ hand was trembling violently. Slowly his eyes met Hawkins’.
He shook his head.
The old lined face seemed to grey even in the murky light of a distant street lamp.
“I’d rather see her dead,” said the old cab driver brokenly.
John Bruce made no answer.
Then Hawkins, gulping his words, spoke
“I—where’ll I drive you?”
John Bruce started blindly on past Hawkins down the street.
“Nowhere,” he said.
CHAPTER XXII Through the Night
A GAUNT and haggard figure stalked Tithrough the night; around him only shuttered windows, darkened houses, and deserted streets. The pavements rang hollow to the impact of his boot heels. Where the way lay open he went. But always he walked, walkéd incessantly, without pause, hurrying—nowhere.
There was a raw, biting chili in the air, and his hands, ungloved, as they swung at his sides, were blue with cold. But sweat in great beads stood out upon his forehead. At times his lips moved and he spoke aloud. It was a hoarse sound.
“Or him!” he said. “Or him!”
On! Always on! There was no rest. It was ceaseless. The gray came into the
And then at last the figure halted.
There was a large window with wire grating, and a light burned within. In the window was a plate mirror, and a timepiece. It was a jeweller’s window.
The man looked at the time-piece. It was five o’clock. He looked at the mirror. It reflected the face of a young man grown old. The eyes burned deep in their sockets; the lines were hard, without softness; the skin was tightly drawn across the cheek bones, and was colorless. And he stared at the face, stared for a time without recognition. And then as he smiled and the face in the mirror smiled with him in a distorted movement of the lips, he swept his hand across his eyes.
“John Bruce,” he said.
It seemed to arouse him from some mental absorption in which his physical entity had been lost. It was five o’clock, and he was John Bruce. At eleven o’clock —or was it twelve—last night he had left Hawkins standing by the door of the travelling pawnshop, and since then—
He stared around him. He was somewhere downtown. He did not know where. He began to walk in an uptown direction.
Something had been born in those hours. Something cataclysmic. What was it?
“Or him!” The words came again—• aloud—without apparent volition.
What did that mean? It had something to do with Hawkins; with what Hawkins had said, standing there by the travelling pawnshop. What was it Hawkins had said? Yes; he remembered: "I’d rather see her
With cold judicial precision now the hours unrolled themselves before him.
He was going to kill Crang.
To Be Concluded.