Jimmie Dale and the Phantom Clue - Frank L. Packard - ebook

Jimmie Dale and the Phantom Clue ebook

Frank L. Packard

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The third book „Jimmie Dale and the Phantom Clue” in the Gray Seal series is quite fantastic! Jimmie Dale, alias The Gray Seal, alias Smarlinghue, the gentleman adventurer, is back on the scent with the King of crim and quarry. Over the head of the woman he loves hangs a menace from the gang, she and Jimmie have often thwarted, and through the previous volume saw the leader disposed of, and they free to marry and live their own lives. But Marie knows that there is still one, „The Phantom”, who menaces her. She again disappears to work out her own salvation... Jimmie too resumes his underworld work. A fast-paced, adventurous story riddled with aliases, disguises, gunfire and opium dens.

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Liczba stron: 498

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Contents

I. The Tocsin

II. The Gray Seal

III. One Isaac Shiftel

IV. Threads

V. Mother Margot

VI. The Man With the Rubber-Tipped Cane

VII. The Message

VIII. Jimmie Dale Pays a Visit

IX. The House With the Broken Stairs

X. Beggar Pete

XI. The Panelled Wall

XII. Little Sweeney

XIII. The Lesser Breed

XIV. The Cat's-Paw

XV. Behind the Doors of the Underworld

XVI. English Steve

XVII. A Devil's Alibi

XVIII. The Voice

XIX. Jackals

XX. At a Quarter to Three

XXI. The Call of the Night

XXII. A Tapped Wire

XXIII. The Pieces of a Puzzle

XXIV. The Black Box

XXV. In the Sanctuary

XXVI. At “The White Rat”

XXVII. The Lair

XXVIII. Blind Peter's

XXIX. The Port of Dawn

I

THE TOCSIN

The boat drifted on. In the distance a ferry churned its way across the river. From the farther shore the myriad lights of Brooklyn flung a soft glow into the sky, like a canopy between the city and the night.

And in the boat two figures merged as one in the darkness.

“Marie!” Jimmie Dale whispered. His arms tightened about her. “Marie!”

She made answer by a little pressure of her hand.

He looked behind him–in toward the nearer shore. Somewhere back there, somewhere amongst those irregular outlines that thrust out points of deeper darkness into the black, mirror-like surface of the water, was the old pier from beneath which they had escaped, and, above the pier, the shed where but a little while ago–or was it hours, or a lifetime ago?–Clarke, alias Wizard Marre, alias Hunchback Joe, had played his last card, and lost.

A grim smile touched Jimmie Dale’s lips. Inside that shed the secret service men had found their quarry–dead. They were there now. In their hands lay the evidence that solved the murder of Jathan Lane; and in their hands, too, was the murderer himself–only Wizard Marre had taken the easier way, and was dead.

Jimmie Dale’s smile softened. Inside that shed at the present moment there was commotion enough and lightPg 10 enough; but he could hear nothing, and he could see no light. The Tocsin here and himself were too far away. Too far away! Yes, that was it–at last! Too far away from the old life–forever. The road of fear lay behind them, and she was free, free to come out into the sunlight again. She had said so herself in that letter he had read at the club only a few hours ago. Free! Life lay before them now–and love. With the death of Wizard Marre there could now be an end of his, Jimmie Dale’s, own rôles of the Gray Seal, and Larry the Bat, and Smarlinghue, and–no, not hers as the Tocsin, that could never change or terminate, for she would always be the Tocsin to him.

The Tocsin! Memory came surging upon him. That night in the long ago, before he had ever seen her, when he had known her only as the woman who addressed him as “Dear Philanthropic Crook” in those mysterious notes of hers that, supplying the data on which he had acted, the data for those “crimes,” where no crime save that of rendering abortive the crimes of others had ever been, had made the name of the Gray Seal anathema to police and underworld alike; that night when, besides a note, he had also found a gold seal ring of hers, a dainty thing that bore a crest, a bell surmounted by a bishop’s mitre, and underneath, in the scroll, a motto in French: Sonnez le Tocsin! It had seemed so apt! Ring the Tocsin! Sound the alarm! Always her notes had done that–calling the Gray Seal to arms that some one else might be the better or the happier for what she bade him do. The Tocsin! The word had seemed to visualise her then, and, knowing her by no other name, he had called her–the Tocsin.

She stirred a little in his arms.

“What time is it, Jimmie?” she asked.

He shook his head. Time! What did time matter now? To Marie LaSalle, who once had lived in hourly peril of her life as Silver Mag in the days of the old Crime Club, and later, yes even until to-night, had again been forced to live under cover of some rôle which she had never divulged to him and which he had never penetrated; and to him, JimmiePg 11 Dale, in whose ears need never sound again that slogan of the underworld, “Death to the Gray Seal!” that reached to every nook and corner of the Bad Lands–to her and to him what did time count for now, save as a great, illimitable mine of happiness, a wealth beyond all telling that they were to spend together!

She spoke again:

“What time is it, Jimmie?”

And now he answered her.

“I don’t know,” he said happily. “It was just midnight when the shed back there was raided. Since then there hasn’t been any such thing as time, Marie.”

“Listen!” she said.

From somewhere across the water, faintly, a tower clock struck the hour.

“One o’clock!” she exclaimed, as though in dismay. “We must be getting ashore. I–I did not think it was so late. And please, Jimmie, I’d like to row the boat. I–I feel quite–quite cold.”

He felt her shiver a little in his arms.

“Cold!” he echoed anxiously; and then, as he released her: “All right, if you really want to. It isn’t very far. And I guess it’s safe now. Pull in and skirt along the shore until we can find some good place to land.”

She nodded as she picked up the oars, then turned the boat’s head in toward the shore and began to row.

Jimmie Dale moved back into the stern of the boat and settled himself in his seat. He watched her, drinking in the lithe, graceful swing of her body, the rhythmic stroke of the heavy oars. He could not see her face for the night shadows hid it, but he could see the poise of her head and the contour of the full, perfect throat. And he clasped his hand behind his head, and a great happiness and a great peace fell upon him.

It seemed somehow as though the voyage of this little boat in which they had fled out here into the night for safety epitomised a voyage of great immensity that had begun in the very long ago, a voyage of interminable nightPg 12 through which his eyes had been straining and his soul had been yearning for a glimpse of the beacon light that should signal the approach to a wondrous Port of Dawn. And now the voyage was almost at an end. Marie there at the oars, and the peace and quiet around them, was the beacon light at last; and they could no more lose their way because the way was charted now to that Port of Dawn where there was no more any strife and peril and sordid crime, and where only love was.

He smiled at his fancy, and suddenly laughed out into the night.

“Keep in a little to the right, Marie,” he called. “There’s something that looks like a low wharf ahead that ought to do.”

“Yes; I see it,” she answered.

Jimmie Dale sat abruptly upright in his seat. Perhaps it was only the rasp and creak of the oars in the rowlocks, but it had sounded so human–like a short, quick, suppressed sob. He leaned forward.

“Was that you, Marie?” he asked quickly. “What is it?”

He could not see her face. Her voice came back to him steady and untroubled:

“Nothing, Jimmie.”

Across the night, far up above them and in the distance, a great bridge stretched from shore to shore, its arc of sparkling lights like a tiara crowning the brow of the heavens. Faintly there came the roar of traffic, ever restless, ever sleepless. A trolley clanged its way unseen somewhere near the shore which the boat was now rapidly approaching; and here, where the lights showed but sparsely, many buildings, small and large, loomed out in queer, grotesque and fanciful shapes.

Jimmie Dale’s dark eyes lighted. All this was as it always was and always had been–only it was changed. It held a promise now that it had never held before. He felt his pulse beat quicken.

The Port of Dawn!

“Here we are, Marie!” he cried.Pg 13

The bow of the boat touched the edge of a low wharf–and then Jimmie Dale, like a man stunned, bewildered, his mind and brain in turmoil and riot, was standing up in the stern of the boat. Quick, like a flash, the Tocsin had lifted the oars from the rowlocks, flung them away in the water, and, springing to the string-piece of the wharf, had pushed the boat out again.

“Jimmie! Oh, Jimmie!” Her voice reached him in a low, broken sob. “There was no other way. It’s in your pocket, Jimmie. I put it there when–when you were–were holding me.”

“Marie!” he cried out wildly. “In God’s name, what are you doing, Marie!” He flung himself upon his knees and began to paddle furiously with his hands. “Marie!” he cried again.

A shadow flitted swiftly along the wharf shorewards; it grew filmy and mingled with a thousand other shadows–and was lost.

She was gone! The Tocsin was gone–as she had gone so many times before. He paddled on with his hands, but the act was purely mechanical. Gone! A cold chill was at his heart; an agony of fear seized upon him. Gone–when life in all its fulness...Gone! Why? An abyss seemed to yawn before him.

After a time the boat bumped against the wharf. He sprang out and ran madly to the shore. He found himself groping like a blind man amongst buildings, in alleys, along dimly lighted streets. And then suddenly he stood still with the consciousness of stark futility upon him. Had he learned no lesson from the past? It was useless to search for her. He might have known that from the first! He had known it, only–only things had seemed so changed to-night.

Fear took its toll of him again. It brought the sweat beads out upon his forehead. Fear for her. Subconsciously he realised now that something, somewhere, had, after all, gone wrong to-night; that she was still in danger, a danger that she still meant he should not share. No other reasonPg 14 save that brave, unselfish love of hers would have prompted her to this.

“It’s in your pocket, Jimmie.” Her words came back to him.

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