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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Voice In The Fog - Chapter 5
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The Voice In The Fog - Chapter 5 Post by :Jason_Gazaway Category :Long Stories Author :Harold Macgrath Date :May 2012 Read :2753

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The Voice In The Fog - Chapter 5

CHAPTER V

Outside he found himself in a kind of court. He ran about wildly, like a rat in a trap. He plumped into the alley, accidentally. Down this he fled, into the street. A voice called out peremptorily to him to stop, but he went on all the faster, swift as a hare. He doubled and circled through this street and that until at last he came out into a broad, brilliant thoroughfare. An iron-pillared railway reared itself skyward and trains clamored past. Bloomsbury: millions of years and miles away! He would wake up presently, with the sunlight (when it shone) pouring into his room, and the bright geraniums on the outside window-sill bidding him good morning.

He was on the point of rushing up the station stairway, when he espied a cab at the far corner. A replica of a London cab, something which smacked of home; he could have hugged for sheer joy the bleary-eyed cabby who touched his rusty high hat.

"Free?"

"Free 's th' air, bo. Where to?"

"Pier 60, White Star Line. How much?"--quite his old-time self again.

"Two dollars,"--promptly.

"All right. And hurry!" Thomas climbed in. He was safe.

As the crow flies it was less than a ten-minutes' jog from that corner to Pier 60. Thomas had not gone far; he had merely covered a good deal of ground. Cabby drove about for three-quarters of an hour and then drew up before the pier.

Back to his cabin once more, weak as a swimmer who had breasted a strong tide. He opened his trunk and rammed the chamois-bag into the toe of one of his patent-leather boots. In the daytime he would wear it about his neck, but each night back into the shoe it must go. He flung himself on the bunk, not to sleep, but to think and wonder.

Meantime there was great excitement in the dive. The waiter was rocking his body, wailing and holding his jaw. His companion was sitting on the floor. In the wine-room two policemen and a thick-set, black-mustached man in a derby hat were asking questions.

"Robbed!" moaned Jameson.

The man in the derby hat shook him roughly. "Robbed o' what, y' soak?"

"Robbed!"

"Mike," said the man in the derby, "put th' darbies on th' Sneak. We'll get something for our trouble, anyhow. An' tell that waiter t' put th' brakes on his yawp. Bring him in here. Now, you, what's happened?"

"Why, the gink in uniform comes in . . ."

The bartender interrupted. "A gink dressed like a ship-steward comes in an' orders ale. Drinks five glasses. Goes out int' th' wine-room 'cross th' hall an' orders a bottle o' gin. An' next I hears Johnny howlin' murder. Frame-up, Mr. Haggerty. Nothin' t' do with it, hones' t' Gawd! Th' boss ain't here."

Jameson lurched toward the bartender. "Young lookin'? Red cheeks? 'Old himself like a sojer?"

"That's 'im," agreed the bartender.

"What were y' robbed of?" demanded Haggerty.

Jameson looked into a pair of chilling blue eyes. His own wavered drunkenly. "Money."

"Y' lie! What was it?" Haggerty seized Jameson by the collar and swung him about. "Hurry up!"

"I tell you, my money. Paid off t'dy. 'E knew it. Sly." Jameson had become almost sober. Out of the muddle one thing loomed clearly: he could not be revenged upon his cabin-mate without getting himself into deep trouble. Money; he'd stick to that.

"Who is he?"

"Name's Webb; firs'-class steward on th' _Celtic_. Damn 'im!"

"Lock this fool up till morning," said Haggerty. "I'll find out what he's been robbed of."

"British subject!" roared Jameson.

"Not t'night. Take 'im away. Think I saw th' fellow running as I came by. Yelled at him, but he could run some. Take 'im away. Something fishy about this. I'll call on my friend Webb in th' morning. There might be something in this."

And Haggerty paid his call promptly; only, Thomas saw him first. The morning sun lighted up the rugged Irish face. Thomas not only saw him but knew who he was, and in this he had the advantage of the encounter. One of the first things a detective has to do is to surprise his man, and then immediately begin to bullyrag and overbear him; pretend that all is known, that the game is up. Nine times out of ten it serves, for in the same ratio there is always a doubtful confederate who may "peach" in order to save himself.

Thomas never stirred from his place against the rail. He drew on his pipe and pretended to be stolidly interested in the sweating stevedores, the hoist-booms and the brown coffee-bags.

A hand fell lightly on his shoulder. Haggerty had a keen eye for a face; he saw weak spots, where a hundred other men would have seen nothing out of the ordinary. The detective always planned his campaign upon his interpretation of the face of the intended victim.

"Webb?"

Thomas lowered his pipe and turned. "Yes, sir."

"Where were you between 'leven an' twelve last night?"

"What is that to you, sir?" (Yeoman of the Guard style.)

"What did Jameson take away from you?"

"Who are you, and what's your business with me?" The pipe-stem returned with a click to its ivory vise.

"My name is Haggerty, of th' New York detective force; American Scotland Yard, 'f that'll sound better. Better tell me all about it."

"I'm a British subject, on board a British ship."

"Nothing doing in m' lord style. When y' put your foot on that pier you become amenable t' th' laws o' th' United States, especially 'f you've committed a crime."

"A crime?"

"Listen here. You went int' Lumpy Joe's, waited till Jameson got drunk, an' then you rolled him."

"Rolled?"--genuinely bewildered.

"Picked his pockets, if you want it blunt. Th' question is, did he take it from you 'r you from him? I can arrest you, Mr. Webb, British subject 'r not. 'S up t' you t' tell me th' story. Don't be afraid of me; I don't eat up men. All y' got t' do is t' treat me on th' level. You won't lose anything 'f you're honest."

"Come with me, sir." (The smuggler was, in his day, a match in cunning for any or all of His Majesty's coast-guards.)

Haggerty followed the young man down the various companionways. Instinctively he knew what was coming, the pith of the matter if not the details. Thomas pulled out his trunk, unlocked it, threw back the lid, and picked up an old leather box.

"Look at this, sir. It was my mother's. And I'd be a fine chap, would I not, to let a drunken scoundrel steal it and get away with it."

It was a Neapolitan brooch, of pink coral, surrounded by small pearls. Haggerty balanced it on his palm and appraised it at three or found hundred dollars. He glanced casually into the leather box. Some faded tin-types, some letters, a very old Bible, and odds and ends of a young man's fancy: Haggerty shrugged. It looked as if he had stumbled into a mare's-nest.

"He said you took money."

"He lied,"--tersely.

"Do y' want t' appear against him?"

"No. We sail at seven to-morrow. So long as he missed his shot, let him go."

"Why didn't y' lodge a complaint against him?"

"I'm not familiar with your laws, Mr. Haggerty. So I took the matter in my own hands."

"Don't do it again. Sorry t' trouble you. But duty's duty. An' listen. Always play your game above board; it pays."

"Thanks."

Haggerty started to offer his hand, but the look in the gray eyes caused him to misdoubt and reconsider the impulse. So Thomas made his first mistake, which, later on, was to cost him dear. Coconnas shook hands with Caboche the headsman, and escaped the "question extraordinary." Truth is, Thomas was not an accomplished liar. He could lie to the detective, but he could not bring himself to shake hands on it.

On the way down the plank Haggerty mused: "An' I thought I had a hunch!"

Thomas sighed. "Play your game above board; it pays." Into what a labyrinth of lies he was wayfaring!

That same night, on the other side of the Atlantic, the ninth Baron of Dimbledon sailed for America to rehabilitate his fortunes. He did and he didn't.

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CHAPTER VIThomas was a busy man up to and long after the hour of sailing. His cabins were filled with about all the variant species of the race: two nervous married women with their noisy mismanaged children, three young men on a lark, and an actress who was paying her husband's expenses and gladly announced the fact over and through the partitions. Three bells tingled all day long, and the only thing that saved Thomas from the "sickbay" was the fact that the bar closed at eleven. And a rough passage added to his labors. No Henley
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CHAPTER IVIambic and hexameter, farewell! In that moment the poet died in Thomas; I mean, the poet who had to dig his expressions of life out of ink-pots. Things boil up quickly and unexpectedly in the soul; century-old impulses, undreamed of by the inheritor; and when these bubble and spill over the kettle's lip, watch out. There is an island in the South Seas where small mud-geysers burst forth under the pressure of the foot. Fate had stepped on Thomas. As he sprang out of his bunk he was a reversion: the outlaw in Lincoln-green, the Yeoman
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