The Adventures of Jimmie Dale - Frank L. Packard - ebook

The Adventures of Jimmie Dale ebook

Frank L. Packard

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Wealthy millionaire by day, at night Jimmie Dale put on a costume and becomes „The Grey Seal,” daredevil safe cracker and footpad – he never takes a thing, but leaves behind his mark, a grey seal of paper to mark his conquest. He was just doing it for „the sheer deviltry of it” at first, but when a woman catches him she blackmails him to war on certain crime organizations. Frank Packard’s Gray Seal character first appeared in print in 1914. In some ways he was inspired by earlier Edwardian adventurers like A.J Raffles, the Scarlet Pimpernel, and Arsene Lupin, but Packard blended those borrowed elements into an entirely new concept. Dale’s adventures first appeared in „People’s Magazine” and then were collected into several novels.

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Liczba stron: 779

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Contents

PART ONE

THE MAN IN THE CASE

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

PART TWO

THE WOMAN IN THE CASE

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

PART ONE

THE MAN IN THE CASE

CHAPTER I

THE GRAY SEAL

Among New York’s fashionable and ultra-exclusive clubs, the St. James stood an acknowledged leader–more men, perhaps, cast an envious eye at its portals, of modest and unassuming taste, as they passed by on Fifth Avenue, than they did at any other club upon the long list that the city boasts. True, there were more expensive clubs upon whose membership roll scintillated more stars of New York’s social set, but the St. James was distinctive. It guaranteed a man, so to speak–that is, it guaranteed a man to be innately a gentleman. It required money, it is true, to keep up one’s membership, but there were many members who were not wealthy, as wealth is measured nowadays–there were many, even, who were pressed sometimes to meet their dues and their house accounts, but the accounts were invariably promptly paid. No man, once in, could ever afford, or ever had the desire, to resign from the St. James Club. Its membership was cosmopolitan; men of every walk in life passed in and out of its doors, professional men and business men, physicians, artists, merchants, authors, engineers, each stamped with the “hall mark” of the St. James, an innate gentleman. To receive a two weeks’ out-of-town visitor’s card to the St. James was something to speak about, and men from Chicago, St. Louis, or San Francisco spoke of it with a sort of holier-than-thou air to fellow members of their own exclusive clubs, at home again.

Is there any doubt that Jimmie Dale was a gentleman–an INNATE gentleman? Jimmie Dale’s father had been a member of the St. James Club, and one of the largest safe manufacturers of the United States, a prosperous, wealthy man, and at Jimmie Dale’s birth he had proposed his son’s name for membership. It took some time to get into the St. James; there was a long waiting list that neither money, influence, nor pull could alter by so much as one iota. Men proposed their sons’ names for membership when they were born as religiously as they entered them upon the city’s birth register. At twenty-one Jimmie Dale was elected to membership; and, incidentally, that same year, graduated from Harvard. It was Mr. Dale’s desire that his son should enter the business and learn it from the ground up, and Jimmie Dale, for four years thereafter, had followed his father’s wishes. Then his father died. Jimmie Dale had leanings toward more artistic pursuits than business. He was credited with sketching a little, writing a little; and he was credited with having received a very snug amount from the combine to which he sold out his safe-manufacturing interests. He lived a bachelor life–his mother had been dead many years–in the house that his father had left him on Riverside Drive, kept a car or two and enough servants to run his menage smoothly, and serve a dinner exquisitely when he felt hospitably inclined.

Could there be any doubt that Jimmie Dale was innately a gentleman?

It was evening, and Jimmie Dale sat at a small table in the corner of the St. James Club dining room. Opposite him sat Herman Carruthers, a young man of his own age, about twenty-six, a leading figure in the newspaper world, whose rise from reporter to managing editor of the morning NEWS-ARGUS within the short space of a few years had been almost meteoric.

They were at coffee and cigars, and Jimmie Dale was leaning back in his chair, his dark eyes fixed interestedly on his guest.

Carruthers, intently engaged in trimming his cigar ash on the edge of the Limoges china saucer of his coffee set, looked up with an abrupt laugh.

“No; I wouldn’t care to go on record as being an advocate of crime,” he said whimsically; “that would never do. But I don’t mind admitting quite privately that it’s been a positive regret to me that he has gone.”

“Made too good ‘copy’ to lose, I suppose?” suggested Jimmie Dale quizzically. “Too bad, too, after working up a theatrical name like that for him–the Gray Seal–rather unique! Who stuck that on him–you?”

Carruthers laughed–then, grown serious, leaned toward Jimmie Dale.

“You don’t mean to say, Jimmie, that you don’t know about that, do you?” he asked incredulously. “Why, up to a year ago the papers were full of him.”

“I never read your beastly agony columns,” said Jimmie Dale, with a cheery grin.

“Well,” said Carruthers, “you must have skipped everything but the stock reports then.”

“Granted,” said Jimmie Dale. “So go on, Carruthers, and tell me about him–I dare say I may have heard of him, since you are so distressed about it, but my memory isn’t good enough to contradict anything you may have to say about the estimable gentleman, so you’re safe.”

Carruthers reverted to the Limoges saucer and the tip of his cigar.

“He was the most puzzling, bewildering, delightful crook in the annals of crime,” said Carruthers reminiscently, after a moment’s silence. “Jimmie, he was the king-pin of them all. Clever isn’t the word for him, or dare-devil isn’t either. I used to think sometimes his motive was more than half for the pure deviltry of it, to laugh at the police and pull the noses of the rest of us that were after him. I used to dream nights about those confounded gray seals of his–that’s where he got his name; he left every job he ever did with a little gray paper affair, fashioned diamond-shaped, stuck somewhere where it would be the first thing your eyes would light upon when you reached the scene, and–”

“Don’t go so fast,” smiled Jimmie Dale. “I don’t quite get the connection. What did you have to do with this–er–Gray Seal fellow? Where do you come in?”

“I? I had a good deal to do with him,” said Carruthers grimly. “I was a reporter when he first broke loose, and the ambition of my life, after I began really to appreciate what he was, was to get him–and I nearly did, half a dozen times, only–”

“Only you never quite did, eh?” cut in Jimmie Dale slyly. “How near did you get, old man? Come on, now, no bluffing; did the Gray Seal ever even recognise you as a factor in the hare-and-hound game?”

“You’re flicking on the raw, Jimmie,” Carruthers answered, with a wry grimace. “He knew me, all right, confound him! He favoured me with several sarcastic notes–I’ll show ’em to you some day–explaining how I’d fallen down and how I could have got him if I’d done something else.” Carruthers’ fist came suddenly down on the table. “And I would have got him, too, if he had lived.”

“Lived!” ejaculated Jimmie Dale. “He’s dead, then?”

“Yes,” averted Carruthers; “he’s dead.”

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