“And your mystery man? What does he look like?”
“He’s quite young, not more than twenty-two at the most, and not very large — medium size, perhaps, or a little under. He’s very dark, with high cheek-bones and a large nose. High, straight shoulders, too, but not broad. He walks with small, almost mincing, steps.”
“He was wearing a brown suit and a tan cap when I saw him on Fayette Street yesterday afternoon. I suppose he wore the same last night, but I’m not positive.”
“I suppose you’ll drop in here for my reports,” the detective wound up, “since I won’t know where to send them to you?”
“Yes.” The man in gray stood up and held out his hand. “I’m very grateful to you for undertaking this, Mr. Rush.”
Alec Rush said that was all right. They shook hands, and the man in gray went out.
The ugly man waited until his client had had time to turn off into the corridor that led to the elevators. Then the detective said, “Now, Mr. Man!” got up from his chair, took his hat from the clothes-tree in the corner, locked his office door behind him, and ran down the back stairs.
He ran with the deceptive heavy agility of a bear. There was something bearlike, too, in the looseness with which his blue suit hung on his stout body, and in the set of his heavy shoulders — sloping, limber-jointed shoulders whose droop concealed much of their bulk.
He gained the ground floor in time to see the gray back of his client issuing into the street. In his wake Alec Rush sauntered. Two blocks, a turn to the left, another block, and a turn to the right. The man in gray went into the office of a trust company that occupied the ground floor of a large office building.
The rest was the mere turning of a hand. Half a dollar to a porter: the man in gray was Ralph Millar, assistant cashier.
Darkness was settling in Charles-Street Avenue when Alec Rush, in a modest black coupe, drove past the address Ralph Millar had given him. The house was large in the dusk, spaced from its fellows as from the paving by moderate expanses of fenced lawn.
Alec Rush drove on, turned to the left at the first crossing, again to the left at the next, and at the next. For half an hour he guided his car along a many-angled turning and returning route until, when finally he stopped beside the curb at some distance from, but within sight of, the Landow house, he had driven through every piece of thoroughfare in the vicinity of that house.
He had not seen Millar’s dark, high-shouldered young man.
Lights burned brightly in Charles-Street Avenue, and the night traffic began to purr southward into the city. Alec Rush’s heavy body slumped against the wheel of his coupe while he filled its interior with pungent fog from a black cigar, and held patient, bloodshot eyes on what he could see of the Landow residence.
Three-quarters of an hour passed, and there was motion in the house. A limousine left the garage in the rear for the front door. A man and a woman, faintly distinguishable at that distance, left the house for the limousine. The limousine moved out into the cityward current. The third car behind it was Alec Rush’s modest coupe.
Except for a perilous moment at North Avenue, when the interfering cross-stream of traffic threatened to separate him from his quarry, Alec Rush followed the limousine without difficulty. In front of a Howard Street theatre it discharged its freight: a youngish man and a young woman, both tall, evening-clad, and assuringly in agreement with the descriptions the detective had got from his client.