And then there came a cry--a cry in a woman's voice;
It was the Tocsin's voice from the rear doorway of the office. It was her voice; Jimmie Dale could never mistake it even in its startled cry--but he did not look. His eyes were on the man who was standing on the other side of the overturned table, whose beard where he, Jimmie Dale, had grasped the other's face had been wrenched away, and whose shrunken figure seemed to tower up now in height, and whose deformity was a padded coat, awry now because of the erect and upright posture in which the man stood. It was Clarke, the master of disguise, who once had impersonated Travers, the chauffeur; it was Marre--Wizard Marre.
There was a ghastly smile on the man's face.
"Marre," he said. "Yes--Marre. But you never knew it, did you, Miss LaSalle--until now! Well, now is time enough for you, and far too soon for me!" He flung out his hand in a queer, impotent gesture, as he threw back his shoulders. "But I would like to be thought a good loser. I congratulate you, Miss LaSalle!" Again his hand was raised in gesture--and with lightning swiftness, before Jimmie Dale could intervene, swept to his vest pocket and was carried to his mouth. "And so I drink to your success, and--"
A gla.s.s vial rolled away upon the floor--and Jimmie Dale, with a bound, had caught the swaying figure in his arms. There was a tremor through the man's form--then inertness. He lowered the other to the ground.
Wizard Marre was dead. It was the colourless liquid of the old Crime Club, instantaneous in its action that--
Jimmie Dale swept his hand over his masked face, and pulled the mask away, and looked up. She, the Tocsin; yes, it was the Tocsin; yes, it was Marie--only the beautiful face was deadly pale--it was the Tocsin who was standing over him, shaking him frantically by the shoulder.
"Jimmie! Quick! Quick!" she cried. "The Secret Service men! Don't you hear them? Quick! This way!"
There was a crash, a pound upon the street door. She had caught his hand, and was pulling him forward now out into the rear of the shed.
There was a light from the office doorway--enough to see. One of the packing cases was tipped over, and, on hinges, made a trap door. A short ladder led downward to where, a few feet below, two boats were moored.
"I came this way. I followed him," she said. "Quick--Jimmie!"
It took an instant, no more, to swing her through the opening, but as he lowered her down and her hair brushed his cheek, there came a quick half sob to Jimmie Dale's lips.
"Mark!" he whispered. "Marie--at last!"
Came the rip and tear and rend of wood, the thud of a falling door from the front of the shed, the rush of feet--but Jimmie Dale was in the boat now, and the packing case above was swung back into place.
"Right ahead, Jimmie!" she breathed. "The planks at the end of the pier swing aside--yes, there--no, a little to the right--yes!"
The boat shot out into the river--farther out--and the pier and shed merged into the shadows of the sh.o.r.e line and were lost.
And then Jimmie Dale let the oars swing loose. She was crouched in the bottom of the boat close beside him. He bent his head until his lips touched her hair, and lower still until his lips touched hers. And a long time pa.s.sed. And the boat drifted on. And he drew her closer into his arms, and held her there. She was safe now, safe for always--and the road of fear lay behind. And into the night there seemed to come a great quiet, and a great joy, and a great thankfulness, and a wondrous peace.
And the boat drifted on.
And neither spoke--for they were going _home_.
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