"Not for mine, friend." The chauffeur laughed scornfully. "I ain't
lost no Red November!"
"Will a thousand dollars make you change your mind?"
The chauffeur's eyes narrowed.
"Whatcha drivin' at? Me - why - I'd take a lotta chances for a
"Help me - do as I say - and it's yours."
"Lead me to the coin," was the prompt decision.
P. Sybarite delved hastily into a trousers pocket and produced a
handful of bills of large denominations.
"There's a five hundred dollar bill to start with," he rattled,
stripping off the first that fell to his fingers - "and here's a
hundred - no, here's another five instead."
"In the mitt," the chauffeur stipulated simply, extending his palm.
"Either you're crazy or I am - but in the mitt, friend, and I'll run
the car right into that garage, 'f you say so."
"Nothing so foolish as that." P. Sybarite handed over the two bills
and put away the rest of his wealth. "Just jump into that car and be
ready to swing across the street and block 'em as they come."
"You're on!" agreed the chauffeur with emotion - carefully putting his
"And a thousand more" - his courage wrung this tribute from P.
Sybarite's admiration - "if you're hurt - "
"You're on there, too - and don't think for a minute I'll letcha
The chauffeur turned to his car, jumped into the driver's seat, and
advanced the spark. The purr of the motor deepened to a leonine growl.
"Hello!" he exclaimed in surprise, real or feigned, to see P. Sybarite
take the seat by his side. "What t'ell? Who's payin' _you_ to be a
"Did you think I'd ask you to run a risk that frightened me?"
"Dunno's I thought much about it, but 'f yuh wanta know what I think
now, _I_ think you oughta get a rebate outa whatcha give me - if you
live to apply for it. And I don't mind tellin' you, if you do, you
won't get it."
Again the spiteful drumming of the automatic: P. Sybarite swung round
in time to see one of the plain-clothes men return the fire with
several brisk shots, then abruptly drop his revolver, clap a hand to
his bosom, wheel about-face, and fall prone.
A cry shrilled up from the bystanders, only to be drowned out by
another, but fortunately more harmless, fusillade from the garage.
"Tunin' up!" commented the chauffeur grimly. "Sounds to me like they
was about ready to commence!"
P. Sybarite shut his teeth on a nervous tremor and lost a shade or two
"Ready?" he said with difficulty.
The chauffeur's reply was muffled by another volley; on the echoes of
which the little man saw the nose of a car poke diagonally out of the
garage door, pause, swerve a trifle to the right, and pause once
"They're coming!" he cried wildly. "Stand by, quick!"
The alarm was taken up and repeated by two-score throats, while those
dotting the street and sidewalks near by broke in swift panic and
began madly to scuttle to shelter within doorways and down basement
Like an arrow from the string, November's car broke cover at an angle.
Ignoring the slanting way from threshold to gutter, it took the bump
of the curb apparently at full tilt, and skidded to the northern curb
before it could be brought under control and its course shaped
With a shiver P. Sybarite recognised that car.
It was not the taxicab that he had been led to expect, but the same
maroon-coloured limousine into which he had assisted Marian
Blessington at the Bizarre.
On its front seats were two men - Red November himself at the driver's
side, a revolver in either hand. And the body of the car contained one
passenger, at least, if P. Sybarite might trust to an impression
gained in one hasty glance through the forward windows as the car bore
down upon them - November's weapons spitting fire....
He could not say who that one passenger might be; but he could guess;
and guessing, knew the automatic in his grasp to be useless; he dared
not fire at the gangster for fear of loosing a wild bullet into the
body of the car....
Now they were within fifty feet of one another. By contrast with the
apparent slowness of the touring car to get in motion, the limousine
seemed already to have attained locomotive speed.
A yell and a shot from one of November's revolvers (P. Sybarite saw
the bullet score the asphalt not two feet from the forward wheel)
warned them to clear the way as the gang leader's car swerved wide to
And on this the touring car seemed to get out of control, swinging
across the street. Immediately the other, crowded to the gutter,
attempted to take the curb, but, the wheels meeting it at an angle not
sufficiently acute, the manoeuvre failed. To a chorus of yells
November's driver shut down the brakes not a thought too soon - not
soon enough, indeed, to avoid a collision that crumpled a mudguard as
though it had been a thing of pasteboard.
Simultaneously P. Sybarite's chauffeur set the brakes, and with the
agility of a hounded rabbit seeking its burrow, dived from his seat to
the side of the car farthest from the gangsters.
In an instant he was underneath it.
P. Sybarite, on the other hand, had leaped before the accident.
Staggering a pace or two - and all the time under fire - he at length
found his feet not six feet from the limousine. It had stopped
broadside on. In this position he commanded the front seats without
great danger of sending a shot through the body.
His weapon rose mechanically and quite deliberately he took
aim - making assurance doubly sure throughout what seemed an age made
sibilant by the singing past his head of the infuriated gangster's
But his finger never tightened upon the trigger.
November had ceased firing and was plucking nervously at the slide of
his automatic. His driver had jumped down from his seat and was
scuttling madly up the street.
In a breath P. Sybarite realised what was the matter: as automatics
will, when hot with fast firing, November's had choked on an empty
With a sob of excitement the little man lowered his weapon and flung
himself upon the gang leader.
November rose to meet him, reversing his pistol and aiming at P.
Sybarite's head a murderous blow. This, however, the little man was
alert to dodge. November came bodily into his arms. Grappling, the two
reeled and went down, P. Sybarite's fingers closing on the throat of
the assassin just as the latter's head struck the pavement with brutal
The man shivered, grunted, and lay still.
P. Sybarite disengaged and got up on his feet.
In a daze, P. Sybarite shook and felt himself all over, unable to
credit his escape from that rain of bullets.
But he was apparently unharmed.
Then suddenly he quickened to the circumstances: the thing was
finished, November stunned and helpless at his feet, November's driver
making off, the crowd swarming round, the police an imminent menace.
Now if Marian were in the body of the town-car, as he believed, he
must get her out of it and away before the police and detectives could
overtake and apprehend them both.
Instant action, inspired audacity, a little luck - and the thing might
possibly be accomplished.
His chauffeur was crawling ignominiously out from beneath the touring
car - his countenance livid with grime and the pallor of fright.
Meeting the eye of his employer, he grinned a sheepish grin.
P. Sybarite seized him by the arm.
"Are you hurt?"
"Not ten cents' worth - much less a thousand dollars! No such luck!"
His mouth to the fellow's ear, P. Sybarite whispered hoarsely and
"Unhook your license number - throw it in the car - get ready to move
on the word - lady in that car - kidnapped - I love her - d'you
understand? - we must get her away - another thousand in this for you - "
"Gotcha," the man cut in smartly. "And I'm with you to the last act!
Go to it, bo' - I like your style!"
Swinging about, P. Sybarite jumped upon the running-board of the
maroon-coloured car, wrenched the door open, and stumbled in.
In her evening frock and her cloak of furs, Marian lay huddled in a
corner, wrists and ankles alike made fast with heavy twine, her mouth
closed tight by a bandanna handkerchief passed round her jaws and
knotted at the nape of her neck. Above its folds her face was like
snow, but the little man thought to detect in her staring eyes a hint
of intelligence, and on this he counted with all his soul.
"Don't scream!" he pleaded as, whipping out a pocket knife, he severed
her bonds. "Don't do anything but depend on me. Pretend, if you like,
you don't know what's happening - likely you don't at that! No matter.
Have faith in me; I'll get you clear of this yet!"
He fancied a softening look in those wide and frightened eyes of a
An instant's work loosed her scored and excoriated wrists; in another,
the bonds fell from her ankles. Deftly unknotting the bandage that
closed her mouth, he asked could she walk. With difficulty, in a husky
and painful whisper, but still courageously, she told him yes.
Hopeful, rather than counting on this assurance, he jumped out and
offered his hand. She put hers into it (and it was cold as ice),
stirred, rose stiffly, tottered to the door, and fell into his
A uniformed patrolman, breaking through the crowd about them, seized
P. Sybarite and held him fast.
"What's this? Who's this?" he gabbled incoherently, brandishing a
vaguely formidable fist.
"A lady, you fool!" P. Sybarite snapped. "Let go and catch that
scoundrel over there - if you're worth your salt."
He waved his free hand broadly in the direction taken by November's
Abruptly and without protest the patrolman released him, butted his
way through the crowd, and disappeared.
An arm boldly about Marian's waist, P. Sybarite helped her to the step
of the touring car - and blessed that prince among chauffeurs, who was
up and ready in his seat!
But now again he must be hindered: a plain-clothes man dropped a heavy
hand upon his shoulder and screwed the muzzle of a revolver into P.
"Under arrest!" he blatted wildly. "Carrying fire-arms! Causing a
crowd to collect - !"
"All right - all right!" P. Sybarite told him roughly. "I admit it. I'm
not resisting, am I? Take that gun out of my ear and help me get this
lady into the car before she's trampled and torn to pieces by these
Stupidly enough, the man comprehended some part of his admonishment.
Staring blankly from the little man to the girl, he pocketed his
weapon and, grasping Marian's arm, assisted her into the touring car.
"Thanks!" cried P. Sybarite, jumping up on the running-board. "You're
most amiable, my friend!"
And with the heel of his open hand he struck the man forcibly upon the
chest, so that he reeled back, tripped over the hapchance foot of an
innocent by-stander, and went sprawling and blaspheming upon his back.
Somebody laughed hysterically.
"Go!" P. Sybarite cried to the chauffeur.
The crowd gave way before the lunge of the car....
They were halfway to Fifth Avenue before pursuit was thought of; had
turned the corner before it was fairly started; in five minutes had
thrown it off entirely and were running free at a moderate pace up
Broadway just above Columbus Circle....
"Where to now, boss?" the chauffeur presently enquired.
P. Sybarite looked enquiringly at his charge. Since her rescue she had
neither moved nor spoken - had rested motionless in her corner of the
tonneau, eyes closed, body relaxed and listless. But now she roused;
unveiled the dear wonder of her eyes of brown; even mustered up the
ghost of a smile.
"Wherever you think best," she told him gently.
"The Plaza? You might be bothered there. We may be traced - we're sure
to. This only saves us for the day. To-morrow - reporters - all
that - perhaps. Perhaps not!... Don't you know somebody out of town to
whom you could go for the day? Once across the city line, we're safe
for a little."
She nodded: breathed an address in Westchester County....
Some time later P. Sybarite became sensible of an amazing fact. A hand
of his rested on the cushioned seat, and in it lay, now warm and
wonderfully soft and light, Marian's hand.
He stared incredulously until he had confirmed the substance of this
impression; looked up blinking; met the confident, straightforward,
and wistful regard of the girl; and blushed to his brows.
The car swept on and on, through the golden hush of that glorious
Toward ten of that same Sunday morning a touring car of majestic mien
drew up in front of a boarding-house in Thirty-eighth Street West.
From this alighted a little man of somewhat bedraggled appearance,
wearing a somewhat weather-beaten but heartfelt grin.
Ostentatiously (or so it seemed to one solitary and sour-mouthed
spectator, disturbed in his perusal of a comic supplement on the
brownstone stoop of the boarding-house) he shook hands with the
chauffeur, and, speaking guardedly, confirmed some private
understanding with him.
Then the car rolled off, and P. Sybarite shuffled meekly in through
the gate, crossed the dooryard, and met the outraged glare of George
Bross with an apologetic smile and the request:
"If you've got a pack of Sweets about you, George, I can use one in my
Without abating his manifestation of entire disapproval, George
produced a box of cigarettes, permitted P. Sybarite to select one, and
They shared a match, even as brothers might, before honest indignation
escaped the grim portals of the shipping clerk's mouth.
"Sa-ay!" he exploded - "looky here: where've you been all night?"
"Ah-h!" P. Sybarite sighed provokingly: "that's a long and tiresome
With much the air of a transient, he sat him down by George's side.
"A very long and very weary story, George. I don't like to tell it to
you, really. We'd be sure to quarrel."
"Why?" George demanded aggressively.
"Because you wouldn't believe me. I don't quite believe it myself, now
that all's over, barring a page or two. Your great trouble, George, is
that you have no imagination."
"The devil I ain't!"
"Perfectly right: you haven't. If you point with pride to that wild
flight of fancy which identified 'Molly Lessing' with Marian
Blessington, George, your position is (as you yourself would say)
untenable. It wasn't imagination: it was fact."
"No!" George ejaculated. "Is that right? What'd I tell you?"
"Word of honour! But it's a secret, as yet - from everybody except you
and Violet; and even you we wouldn't tell had you not earned the right
to know by guessing and making me semi-credulous - enough to start
something - several somethings, in fact."
"G'wan!" George coaxed. "Feed it to me: I'll eat it right outa your
hand. Whatcha been doin' with yourself all night, P.S.?"
"I've been Day of Days-ing myself, George."
"Ah, can the kiddin', P.S. Come through! Whadja do?"
"Broke every Commandment in the Decalogue, George, barring one or two
of the more indelicate ones; kicked the laws of chance and probability
into a cocked hat; fractured most of the Municipal Ordinances - and - let
me see - oh, yes! - dislocated the Long Arm of Coincidence so badly that
all of its subsequent performances are going to seem stiff and lacking
in that air of spontaneity without which - "
"My Gawd!" George despaired - "he's off again on that hardy annual
talkalogue of his!... Lis'n, P.S. - "
"Call me Perceval," P. Sybarite suggested pleasantly.
"Let it be Perceval hereafter, George - always. I grant you free
"But I thought you said - "
"So I did - a few hours ago. Now I - well, I rather like it. It makes
all the difference who calls you that sort of name first, and what her
voice is like."
"One of us," George protested with profound conviction, "is plumb
loony in the head!"
"It's me," said P. Sybarite humbly: "I admit it.... And the worst of
it is - I like it! So would you if you'd been through a Day of Days."
George let that pass; for the moment he was otherwise engaged in vain
speculation as to the appearance of a phenomenon rather rare in the
calendar of that West Thirty-eighth Street boarding-house.
A Western Union boy, weary with the weariness of not less than forty
summers, was shuffling in at the gate.
"Sa-ay!" he called with the asperity of ingrained ennui - "either of
youse guys know a guy named Perceval Sybarite 't lives here?"
Silently P. Sybarite held out his hand, took the greasy little book in
its black oil-cloth binding, scrawled his signature in the proper
blank, and received the message in its sealed yellow envelope.
"Wait," he commanded calmly, eyeing Western Union with suspicion.
"W'at's eatin' you? Is they an answer?"
"They ain't no answer," P. Sybarite admitted.
"Well, whatcha want? I got no time to stick round here kiddin'."
"One moment of your valuable time. I believe you delivered a message
at the Monastery Apartments in Forty-third Street this morning."
"Well, an' what 'f I did?"
P. Sybarite extracted an immense roll of bills from his pocket;
transferred it to his other hand; delved deeper; eventually produced a
single twenty-dollar gold-piece.
"Take this," he said, tossing it to the boy with princely nonchalance.
"It's the last of a lot, but - it's yours."
"What for?" Western Union demanded in amaze; while, as for George
Bross, _he_ developed plain symptoms of apoplexy.
"You'll never know," said P. Sybarite. "Now run along before I come
In the shadow of this threat, Western Union fled precipitately....
P. Sybarite rose; yawned; smiled benignantly upon George Bross.
"I'm off to bed - was only waiting for this message," he announced;
"but before I go - tell me; how much money does Violet think you ought
to be earning before you're eligible for the Matrimonial Stakes?"
"She said somethin' oncet about fifty per," George remembered
"It's yours - doubled," P. Sybarite told him. "To-morrow you will
resign from the employ of Whigham & Wimper and go to Blessington's to
enter their shipping department at a hundred a week; and if you don't
earn it, may God have mercy on your wretched soul!"
George got up very suddenly.
"I'll go send for the doctor," he announced.
"One moment more." P. Sybarite dropped a detaining hand upon his arm.
"You and Violet are invited to dinner to-night - at the Hotel Plaza.
Don't be alarmed; you needn't dress; we'll dine privately in Marian's
"Miss Blessington - Molly Lessing that was."
"Honest!" said George sincerely. "I don't know whether to think you've
gone bughouse or not. You've always been a bit queer and foolish in
the bean, but never since I've known you - "
"And after dinner," P. Sybarite pursued evenly, "you're going to
attend a very quiet little wedding party."
"Whose, for God's sake?"
"Marian's and mine; and the only reason why you can't be best man is
that the best man will be my cousin, Peter Kenny."
"Is that straight?"
"On the level."
George concluded that there was sanity in P. Sybarite's eyes.
"Well, I certainly got to slip you the congrats!" he protested. "And
say - you goin' to bounce Whigham and Wimper, too?"
"And whatcha goin' do then?"
"I? To tell you the truth, I'm considering joining the Union and
agitating for an eight-hour Day of Days. This one of mine has been
eighteen hours long, more or less - since I got those theatre tickets,
you know - and I'm too dog-tired to keep my eyes open another minute.
After I've had a nap, I'll tell you all about everything." ...
But he wasn't too tired to read his telegram, when he found himself
again, and for the last time, in his hall bedroom.
It said simply: "I love you. - Marian."
From this P. Sybarite looked up to his reflection in the glass. And
presently he smiled sheepishly, and blinked.
"Perceval...!" murmured the little man fondly.
_By the author of "The Brass Bowl"_
_By_ LOUIS JOSEPH VANCE
Author of "The Day of Days," "The Destroying Angel," etc.
Illustrated by A.I. Keller. Cloth. $1.25 _net_.
Divertingly told, in Mr. Vance's familiarly vigorous style, it never
fails to entertain. - _Boston Transcript._
Mr. Vance uses the wand of a conjurer - his humor comes bubbling to the
surface all the time. - _New York Tribune._
The yarn is excellently calculated to pass the time of a jaded novel
reader.... The story is quite surprising enough, and amusing at
that. - _New York Evening Sun._
It is a rousing tale of adventure and love told with verve and humor.
Many will pronounce it the best story yet written by the author of
"The Brass Bowl." - _Chicago Record-Herald._
The tale bristles with breathless adventure, mistaken identities,
detective investigations, romantic developments, and startling
situations.... It is a rousing story, told with a stimulating style,
and culminating in love rewarded; but, before that happy end is
reached, there are many thrilling revelations. - _Literary Digest_, New
LITTLE, BROWN, & CO., PUBLISHERS
34 BEACON STREET, BOSTON
_A Curious Story of Woman's Love_
THE DESTROYING ANGEL
By LOUIS JOSEPH VANCE
Author of "The Bandbox," "The Day of Days," etc.
Illustrated by A.I. Keller. Cloth. $1.25 _net_.
Mr. Vance keeps events moving too fast to cast any shadows
before. - _New York World._
A very readable story ... Certainly there is not a dull moment in the
book. - _New York Times._
It's a good story, well told, with plenty of brisk down-to-date humor,
and its few characters stand out well. - _Los Angeles Times._
Full of romance and strange surprises ... A narrative of dramatic
events, thrilling adventures, and all-conquering passion that makes a
swiftly moving tale. - _Philadelphia North American._
Half a dozen less vigorous and full-blooded stories might be built
from the material so lavishly employed ... There is no moment, from
start to finish, when the story is not absorbing, and the end of the
narrative, which winds to a happy climax, is all that the most ardent
romancist could desire. - _Chicago Record-Herald._
LITTLE, BROWN, & CO., PUBLISHERS
34 BEACON STREETFOSTON