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A block away from the hotel Barney parted from Old Jimmie. For a space Barney thought of his partner. Barney had quick eyes which were quite capable of taking in two things at once; and while he had seen the excited glow his final speech had brought back into Maggie's face, he had also caught that swift look of uncertainty in the lean, cunning face of Old Jimmie: a look of one who is eager to go on, yet sees himself frustrated by his own eagerness. To Barney it was a puzzling, suspicious look.

As Barney made his way toward a harbor of refreshment he wondered about Old Jimmie—not in the manner Larry had wondered about a father bringing his daughter up into crooked ways—but he wondered what kind of a man beneath his shrewd, yielding, placating manner Old Jimmie really was, how far he was to be trusted, whether he was in this game on the level or whether he was playing some very secret hand of his own. Though he had known and worked with Old Jimmie for years, Barney had never been admitted to the inner chambers of the older man's character. He sensed that there were hidden rooms and twisting passages; and of this much he was certain, that Old Jimmie was sly and saturnine.

Well, he would be on guard that Old Jimmie didn't put anything over on your obliging servant, Barney Palmer!

This was the era of legal prohibition, but thus far Barney had not been severely discommoded by the action of the representatives of America's free institutions in Washington, for Barney knew his New York. In an ex-saloon on Sixth Avenue, which nominally sold only the soft drinks permitted by the wise men of the Capital, Barney leaned at his ease upon the bar and remarked: “Give me some of the real stuff, Tim, and forget that eye-dropper the boss bought you last week.” Barney had a drink of the real stuff, and then another drink, in the measuring of neither of which had an eye-dropper been involved.

After that, much heartened, he put two dollars upon the bar and went his way. His course took the dapper Barney into three of the gayest restaurants in the Times Square section; and in these Barney paused long enough to speak to a few after-theater supper-parties. For this was the hour when Barney paid his social calls; he was very strict with himself upon this point. Barney was really by way of being a rising figure in this particular circle of New York society composed of people who had or believed they had an interest in the theater, of expensively gowned women the foreground of whose lives was most attractive, but whose background was perhaps wisely kept out of the picture, and of moneyed young men who gloried in the idea that they were living the life. These social calls from gay table to gay table, at all of which Barney was welcome—for here Barney showed only his most attractive surfaces, his most brilliant facets—were in truth a very important part of Barney's business.

A little later, alone at a corner table in a quieter restaurant, Barney was eating his supper and making an inventory of his prospects. He was in a very exultant mood. The whiskey he had drunk had given broad wings to his self-satisfaction; and what he was now sipping from his tea-cup—it was not tea, for Barney was on the proper terms with his waiter here—this draught from his tea-cup tipped these broad wings at a yet more soaring angle.

Yes, he had certainly put it over so far. And Maggie would certainly prove a winner. Those fair women he had chatted with as he had moved from table to table, why, they'd be less than dirt compared to Maggie when Maggie was rigged out and readied up and the stage was set. And it had been he, Barney Palmer, who had been the first to discover Maggie's latent possibilities!

He had an eye beyond mere surfaces, had Barney. He had used women in the past in putting over many of his more private transactions (and had done so partly for the reason that using women so was eminently “safe”—this despite his violent outburst of sneering disdain at Larry when the latter had spoken of safety): some of them professional sharpers, some unscrupulous actresses of the lower flight—such women as he had just chatted with in the restaurants where he had made his brief visits. But such, he now recognized, were rather BLASEES, rather too obvious. They were the blown rose. But Maggie was fresh, and once she was properly broken in, she would be his perfect instrument. Yes, perfect!

Barney's plans soared on. Some day, when it fitted in just right with his plans, he was going to marry Maggie, It was only recently that he had seen her full charms, and still more recently that he had determined upon marriage. That decision had materially altered certain details of the career Barney had blue-printed for himself. Barney had long regarded marriage as an asset for himself; a valuable resource which he must hold in reserve and not liquidate, or capitalize, until his own market was at its peak. He knew that he was good-looking, an excellent dancer, that he had the metropolitan finish. He had calculated that sometime some rich girl, perhaps from the West, who did not know the world too well, would fall under the spell of his charms; and he would marry her promptly while she was still infatuated, before she could learn too much about him. Such had been Barney's idea of marriage for himself; which is very similar to ideas held by thousands of gentlemen, young and otherwise, in this broad land of ours, who consider themselves neither law-breakers nor adventurers.

But that was all changed now. Now it was Maggie, though Maggie in pursuit of their joint advantage might possibly first have to go through the marriage ceremony with some other man. Of course, a very, very rich man! Barney already had this man marked. He hoped, though, they would not have to go so far as marriage. However, he was willing to wait his proper turn. As he had told Maggie, you could not put over a big thing in a hurry.

As for Larry, he'd certainly handled that business in swell fashion! He'd certainly put a crimp in what had been developing between Larry and Maggie. And he'd get Larry in time, too. The drag-net was too large and close of mesh for Larry to hope to escape it. The word he'd slipped that boob Gavegan had sure done the business! And the indirect way he had tipped off the police about Red Hannigan and Jack Rosenfeldt and had then made his pals think Larry had squealed—that was sure playing the game, too! Jack and Red would get off easy—there was nothing on them; but little old Barney Palmer had certainly used his bean in the way he had set the machinery of the police and the under-world in motion against Larry!

While other occupants of the cafe, particularly the women, stole looks at the handsome, flawlessly dressed, interesting-looking Barney, Barney had yet another of those concoctions which the discreet waiter served in a tea-cup. He'd done a great little job, you bet! Not another man in New York could have done better. He was sure going to put Maggie across! And in doing so, he was going to do what was right by yours truly.

All seemed perfect in Barney's world....

And while Barney sat exulting over triumphs already achieved and those inevitably to be achieved, Maggie lay in her new bed dreaming exultant dreams of her own: heedless of the regular snoring which resounded in the adjoining room—for the excellent Miss Grierson, while able to keep her every act in perfect form while in the conscious state, unfortunately when unconscious had no more control of the goings-on of her mortal functions than the lowliest washwoman. Maggie's flights of fancy circled round and round Larry. She stifled any excuses or insurgent yearnings for him. He'd deserved what he had got. Already, contrary to his predictions, she had made a tremendous advance into her brilliant future. She would show him! Yes, she would show him! Oh, but she was going to do things!

But while she dreamed thus, shaping a magnificent destiny—an independent, self-engineered young woman, so very, very confident of the great future she was going to achieve through the supremacy of her own will and her own abilities—no slightest surmise came into her mind that Barney Palmer was making plans by which her will was to count as naught and by which he was to be the master of her fate, and that the furtive, yielding Old Jimmie was also dreaming a patient dream in which she was to be a mere chess-piece which was to capture a long-cherished game.

And yet, after all, Maggie's dreams, aside from the peculiar twist life had given them, were fundamentally just the ordinary dreams of youth: of willful confident youth, to whom but a small part of the world has yet been opened, who in fact does not yet half know its own nature.


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