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Tracked To Doom
by [?]

‘Tis midnight in Paris.

A myriad of lamps that line the Champs Elysees and the Rouge et Noir, cast their reflection in the dark waters of the Seine as it flows gloomily past the Place Vendome and the black walls of the Convent Notadam.

The great French capital is astir.

It is the hour when crime and vice and wickedness reign.

Hundreds of fiacres drive madly through the streets conveying women, flashing with jewels and as beautiful as dreams, from opera and concert, and the little bijou supper rooms of the Cafe Tout le Temps are filled with laughing groups, while bon mots, persiflage and repartee fly upon the air–the jewels of thought and conversation.

Luxury and poverty brush each other in the streets. The homeless gamin, begging a sou with which to purchase a bed, and the spendthrift roue, scattering golden louis d’or, tread the same pavement.

When other cities sleep, Paris has just begun her wild revelry.

The first scene of our story is a cellar beneath the Rue de Peychaud.

The room is filled with smoke of pipes, and is stifling with the reeking breath of its inmates. A single flaring gas jet dimly lights the scene, which is one Rembrandt or Moreland and Keisel would have loved to paint.

A garcon is selling absinthe to such of the motley crowd as have a few sous, dealing it out in niggardly portions in broken teacups.

Leaning against the bar is Carnaignole Cusheau–generally known as the Gray Wolf.

He is the worst man in Paris.

He is more than four feet ten in height, and his sharp, ferocious looking face and the mass of long, tangled gray hair that covers his face and head, have earned for him the name he bears.

His striped blouse is wide open at the neck and falls outside of his dingy leather trousers. The handle of a deadly looking knife protrudes from his belt. One stroke of its blade would open a box of the finest French sardines.

“Voila, Gray Wolf,” cries Couteau, the bartender. “How many victims to-day? There is no blood upon your hands. Has the Gray Wolf forgotten how to bite?”

“Sacre Bleu, Mille Tonnerre, by George,” hisses the Gray Wolf. “Monsieur Couteau, you are bold indeed to speak to me thus.

“By Ventre St. Gris! I have not even dined to-day. Spoils indeed. There is no living in Paris now. But one rich American have I garroted in a fortnight.

“Bah! those Democrats. They have ruined the country. With their income tax and their free trade, they have destroyed the millionaire business. Carrambo! Diable! D–n it!”

“Hist!” suddenly says Chamounix the rag-picker, who is worth 20,000,000 francs, “some one comes!”

The cellar door opened and a man crept softly down the rickety steps. The crowd watches him with silent awe.

He went to the bar, laid his card on the counter, bought a drink of absinthe, and then drawing from his pocket a little mirror, set it up on the counter and proceeded to don a false beard and hair and paint his face into wrinkles, until he closely resembled an old man seventy-one years of age.

He then went into a dark corner and watched the crowd of people with sharp, ferret-like eyes.

Gray Wolf slipped cautiously to the bar and examined the card left by the newcomer.

“Holy Saint Bridget!” he exclaims. “It is Tictocq, the detective.”

Ten minutes later a beautiful woman enters the cellar. Tenderly nurtured, and accustomed to every luxury that money could procure, she had, when a young vivandiere at the Convent of Saint Susan de la Montarde, run away with the Gray Wolf, fascinated by his many crimes and the knowledge that his business never allowed him to scrape his feet in the hall or snore.

“Parbleu, Marie,” snarls the Gray Wolf. “Que voulez vous? Avez-vous le beau cheval de mon frere, oule joli chien de votre pere?”

“No, no, Gray Wolf,” shouts the motley group of assassins, rogues and pickpockets, even their hardened hearts appalled at his fearful words. Mon Dieu! You cannot be so cruel!”