An acquaintance isnt always a friend, said the police captain, grinning. Youre Jack McMurdo of Chicago, right enough, and dont you deny it!
McMurdo shrugged his shoulders. Im not denying it, said he. Dye think Im ashamed of my own name?
Youve got good cause to be, anyhow.
What the devil dyou mean by that? he roared with his fists clenched.
No, no, Jack, bluster wont do with me. I was an officer in Chicago before ever I came to this darned coal bunker, and I know a Chicago crook when I see one.
McMurdos face fell. Dont tell me that youre Marvin of the Chicago Central! he cried.
Just the same old Teddy Marvin, at your service. We havent forgotten the shooting of Jonas Pinto up there.
I never shot him.
Did you not? Thats good impartial evidence, aint it? Well, his death came in uncommon handy for you, or they would have had you for shoving the queer. Well, we can let that be bygones; for, between you and meand perhaps Im going further than my duty in saying itthey could get no clear case against you, and Chicagos open to you to-morrow.
Im very well where I am.
Well, Ive given you the pointer, and youre a sulky dog not to thank me for it.
Well, I suppose you mean well, and I do thank you, said McMurdo in no very gracious manner.
Its mum with me so long as I see you living on the straight, said the captain. But, by the Lord! if you get off after this, its another story! So good-night to youand good-night, Councillor.
He left the barroom; but not before he had created a local hero. McMurdos deeds in far Chicago had been whispered before. He had put off all questions with a smile, as one who did not wish to have greatness thrust upon him. But now the thing was officially confirmed. The bar loafers crowded round him and shook him heartily by the hand. He was free of the community from that time on. He could drink hard and show little trace of it; but that evening, had his mate Scanlan not been at hand to lead him home, the fêted hero would surely have spent his night under the bar.
On a Saturday night McMurdo was introduced to the lodge. He had thought to pass in without ceremony as being an initiate of Chicago; but there were particular rites in Vermissa of which they were proud, and these had to be undergone by every postulant. The assembly met in a large room reserved for such purposes at the Union House. Some sixty members assembled at Vermissa; but that by no means represented the full strength of the organization, for there were several other lodges in the valley, and others across the mountains on each side, who exchanged members when any serious business was afoot, so that a crime might be done by men who were strangers to the locality. Altogether there were not less than five hundred scattered over the coal district.
In the bare assembly room the men were gathered round a long table. At the side was a second one laden with bottles and glasses, on which some members of the company were already turning their eyes. McGinty sat at the head with a flat black velvet cap upon his shock of tangled black hair, and a coloured purple stole round his neck; so that he seemed to be a priest presiding over some diabolical ritual. To right and left of him were the higher lodge officials, the cruel, handsome face of Ted Baldwin among them. Each of these wore some scarf or medallion as emblem of his office.
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