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Title:      Death of a Celebrity
Author:     Hulbert Footner
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.:  0301351.txt
Edition:    1
Language:   English
Character set encoding:     Latin-1(ISO-8859-1)--8 bit
Date first posted:          October 2003
Date most recently updated: October 2003

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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      Death of a Celebrity
Author:     Hulbert Footner




HULBERT FOOTNER, whose inside knowledge of the underworld of New York
and Chicago makes his crime stories ring so true, has had an amazingly
adventurous career. He was obliged to leave school at fourteen to earn
his own living as an office boy and clerk--such a bare living that when
he wanted new shoes, he had to sell his stamp collection. But from his
room he could see the stage door of the old Grand Opera House, and
becoming stage struck, he wrote a play which was actually accepted,
while he was given a small part himself. But he was, the critics
insisted, a rotten actor, so there was nothing for it but a return to
the hated commercial life.

A year or two later the next break came when a friend in Calgary,
Alberta, representing Footner as a star reporter from the New York
Herald, got him a job on the Morning Albertan. Footner played up well
and spent a year expanding two-line telegram dispatches (all the paper
could afford) into front-page stories.

Then, adventure calling, he embarked on a twelve-hundred mile trip,
alone, into the almost unknown Northern Regions of the province.
Returning to New York, he obtained a well-paid job in a mysterious
investment house which proved to be crooked. After a brief period of
penury some stories were accepted by the Century Magazine, and so
Footner's career as an author began. He now lives in Maryland in
Chailesgift, one of the oldest houses in America, built in 1650.




DEATH OF A CELEBRITY



Miss GAIL GARRETT, accompanied by her elderly maid, Catherine, was on
her way to dinner at Gavin Dordress'. She was appearing in Robert
Greenfield's play. White Orchids, at the time, and the party had been
arranged for Sunday night to suit her convenience. She had not the
expression of one who is looking forward to a good time. In the
seclusion of the car her beautiful face was tense and stormy. When the
cab stopped, she saw several men with square boxes hanging around the
apartment house door, and she hesitated before getting out. "Press
photographers? Who do you suppose tipped them off? Gavin wouldn't."

"They always seem to know where you're going to be, Miss," said
Catherine.

It was a small apartment house, one tenant to a floor, and there was
nobody to open the door of the car. "I don't see why Gavin lives in such
a dump," grumbled Miss Garrett. "He doesn't have to. Get out first and
keep my skirt off the running-board."

Catherine obeyed. Miss Garrett settled the collar of her ermine coat
more becomingly around her neck, and assumed the famous smile. When she
had descended, Catherine closed the door of the car, and hung behind so
that she would not spoil the pictures. All the photographers tried to
crowd in front of the star simultaneously. "Walk slowly," said one.
"Give us a chance." Another was crying: "Look at me, Miss Garrett. Look
at me!"

She smiled, the bulbs flashed; they made way for her, and she entered
the building. As the sober Catherine followed, one of the young men
winked at her broadly. "Hi, Toots!" he said softly.

Catherine glared at him, and all the young men laughed.

The entrance door led directly into a small, square foyer with a single
elevator. The operator was a sharp-featured young white man with an
insinuating smile. As soon as he had closed the elevator door, he turned
around, saying: "Good-evening, Miss Garrett. Hope it's not a liberty,
but I seen you in your play on Thursday night. It was swell!"

Gail smiled automatically. "Thank you." He went on: "If you would give
me your autograph, Miss Garrett, I would value it above anything I own."
From his pocket he produced a fountain pen and a little pad. "I can't
write with my gloves on."

"Sure you can! Plenty good enough."

"Didn't I give you my autograph before?"

"No, Miss," he said with an open-eyed candour that was a little
overdone. "Must have been one of the other boys."

"Watch your car!" said Catherine nervously.

"That's all right. She stops automatic at the top."

At that moment the car did stop. As the operator still stood offering
her the pen and the pad, Gail took them and scribbled her name as the
quickest way of getting rid of him. "He had a nerve!" muttered Catherine
when the elevator door closed.

"I am the servant of the public," murmured Gail plaintively.

The door of the apartment was opened, not by Gavin's Hillman, but a man
engaged for the evening.

From the foyer double glass doors led into a sunroom which was filled
with growing plants and had a little fountain playing in the middle. It
was the penthouse which had attracted Gavin to the otherwise
undistinguished apartment house on Madison Avenue. He had leased it
while the building was still going up, and had designed the big sunroom
after his own ideas. One side of it, filled with glass, made an immense
how jutting into the roof-garden. Gavin was in the sunroom now, mixing a
cocktail at a portable bar. Gail waved her hand to him and turned aside
in the corridor leading to the bedrooms. "You needn't trouble to show
me," she said to the servant. "I know the way."

In the guest-room Catherine took her mistress' cape, and handed her what
she required from the little dressing-case the maid carried. Gail
studied herself in the mirror with the anxiety of a beauty of
forty-three. Her figure was still willowy, but after forty, blonde hair,
no matter what you do to it, is apt to betray. She was wearing a
virginal dress of white chiffon with puffs at the shoulders and a skirt
shirred in tiers. The tense look in her eyes displeased her.
"Eye-drops," she said, and Catherine got out the bottle and the dropper.

"How do I look?" asked Gail when this operation was finished.

"Lovely, Miss," said Catherine. "White suits you so well!"

"That's what you always say," grumbled Gail, "whether I am wearing black
or red or green."

Catherine primmed her lips a little. It was as if she had said: "Then
why ask?"

"You may go now," said Gail. "Tell Martin I shan't want him again
to-night. I'll taxi home."

"Is it safe?" murmured Catherine.

"If not, somebody will bring me."

When she entered the sunroom Gavin came to meet her. He was frankly
forty-five and handsomer than he had ever been, the lines in his face
were lines of distinction. "Lovely!" he murmured, picking up her hand
and conveying it to his lips.

Gait's smile became tight. "Only my hand?" she said.

"The servant is still in sight."

She looked over her shoulder. "He's gone now."

He pressed her lips lightly with his own.

A flicker of anger crossed Gail's face. "It wasn't always like that,"
she said.

"I didn't want to rumple you, my dear."

"Ah, don't make pretences! I can see through you perfectly!"

"Cigarette?" he said, offering the box.

"No!" She immediately changed her mind, and helped herself. She turned
away, and glancing in a mirror, tried to smooth her face out. "You can't
make me quarrel with you," she said.

"I'm not trying to." He was smiling broadly and that angered her afresh.

She struggled with it. "How about the new play? Is it finished?"

"All but," he said. "In another week."

"Tell me about it."

"My dear," he protested, "you know I never talk about my work. Wasn't it
Stevenson who said you must never show unfinished work to anybody?"

"That's not what Stevenson said. He said never show unfinished work to
women or fools."

"Well, I never show it to anybody."

"So you say. Mack Townley has announced that he is going to produce the
play in January."

"That's the usual press stuff. Mack knows no more about the play than
its title: The Changeling."

"Do you mean to say he is willing to produce it sight unseen?"

"Well, after we have been working together for eighteen years that's not
very strange. . . . Cocktail?"

"No, thank you."

"I have got to the age where I need it."

"This talk of your growing old is all nonsense," said Gail angrily. "It
doesn't fool me."

"You're wrong," said Gavin, holding his glass up to the light. "It's the
cause of the misunderstanding between us. I am getting old."

She bit her lip. "Well, never mind that . . . Am I to have the leading
part in the new play?"

"Ah, don't let's talk business," said Gavin cajolingly.

"I insist on an answer! That's why I came early. You never give me a
chance to see you alone. I have to make my plans as well as Mack
Townley."

"There is no part in it worthy of you," said Gavin. "It's a man's play."

"There must be a woman in it, or it wouldn't be your play."

"The only important woman's part is that of a young girl."

Gail flung her cigarette violently on the floor. "I thought so! I
thought so!" she cried. "Why don't you say right out that I'm too old to
act in your plays!"

"Gail, for God's sake!" he remonstrated.

She looked more than her age now. The repulsion that she could see in
his eyes made her worse. "So this is what I get for having given you the
best years of my life! For having devoted all my art to making you
famous! You owe your fame to me! To me! Do you hear? Where would you
have been if I had not breathed life into the silly puppets in your
plays?"

Gavin's face hardened. "You are a great actress," he said. "I have never
failed to acknowledge my debt to you. . . . But just now you are making
a show of yourself."

"How dare you!" she gasped. "O God, that I should live to hear a man
speak to me like that! I won't bear it! I won't. . .!"

He seized her wrists to make her listen to him. "There are strange
servants in the flat," he said. "Do you want to read all this in the
gossip columns tomorrow?"

"I don't care! I don't care!" she cried; nevertheless she lowered her
voice. The husky tones were venomous. "I'm not going to take this from
you! I'm not the sort of woman who can be chucked aside like an old hat.
I'll show you up. I'll ruin you! O God! How I hate you! Smug and
sneering as you are . . ."

Gavin put in mildly: "I never sneered at anybody in my life."

"You lie! You're sneering now! I could kill you for the way you've used
me! I could kill you . . .!"

A bell sounded in the distance. Gail caught her breath on a gasp, and
running out, turned towards the guest-room at the end of the corridor.
She passed the manservant on his way to the entrance door. Gavin poured
another cocktail.

Emmett Gundy, the novelist, and his friend, Luella Kip, were on their
way to Gavin Dordress' apartment in a taxicab. Emmett was bundled up in
a blue rumble-seat coat belted around the waist, the only one of that
colour in New York, he claimed. With the collar turned up and his
hat-brim snapped down in front, all that could be seen of him were his
glittering dark eyes, and small, carefully-trained moustache. Louella
was one of the army of free-lance writers who somehow managed to scrape
a living without ever becoming known to the public. A little, faded
woman with a harassed expression, she looked twenty years older than
Emmett, but they were in fact the same age. Emmett looked her over
critically. "That dress has seen better days," he remarked.

"Well, you know the state of my wardrobe," said Louella philosophically.
"It's the best I have. Mr. Dordress is a friendly man. He won't care."

"There will be others present."

"If you are ashamed of my appearance you shouldn't have brought me,"
said Louella, plucking up spirit.

"Gavin invited you. I merely conveyed the invitation."

"Were you hoping I would decline?" she asked quietly.

He did not answer her. "Gavin will be friendly enough if you flatter
him," he said bitterly. "He doesn't care who it comes from."

"He doesn't need flattery," said Louella. "He's at the top of his
profession."

"You would say that. Just to be disagreeable. You mean that he makes
more money than any other playwright of the day. Money isn't everything.
As a matter of fact, Gavin Dordress hasn't a spark of original talent.
What he has is a talent for publicity. He understands the politics of
the theatre. He knows what wires to pull. It is Gail Garrett and Mack
Townley who have made him."

"Everybody else says that it was Gavin Dordress who made them."

"O, I dare say! Nothing succeeds like success. He's got you going like
all the other women. Gavin has made his way step by step through using
women. A male charmer, that's what he is."

"How can you say such a thing?" she murmured.

"But he can't fool me," Emmett went on. "I've known him too long. I've
known him since he was a half-baked frosh in college."

"You were a freshman, too, then."

"Sure; but I made good. I was famous before I graduated from college. My
first book sold forty thousand copies. It was four or five years after
that before Gavin even got a production. His first play was a complete
flop."

"I hate to hear you talk about him like that," murmured Louella. "Your
oldest friend!"

"Sure, he's my friend. So what?"

"It sounds as if you hated him."

"Don't be silly. I see him as he is, that's all. He can't pull any wool
over my eyes." Emmett laughed bitterly. "I've got to hand it to Gavin
for his cleverness. I only wish I could get away with it. It doesn't pay
to be sincere. Tripe is what they want, and tripe is what they pay for!"

This started Louella's thoughts in a new direction.

"What did Middlebrook say about your novel?" she asked.

"He was keen to publish it," said Emmett, "but I told him to go to
hell."

"Why?" she asked blankly.

"Because he suggested certain changes that showed he completely
misunderstood it. I took the script and walked out."

"O, Emmett!"

"Well, do you expect me to prostitute myself to an ignorant fool like
Middlebrook? He's a butcher, not a publisher. He buys and sells novels
by the pound-like the tripe they are!"

"What will you do?" she murmured. "What will we both do?"

"Have you been turned down, too?" he asked sharply. "Your articles for
the Metropolitan?"

"No," she said sadly. "I give them what they want. I have no talent, so
it doesn't matter. But they have reduced my rate. There are so many
younger writers in the field."

"Middlebrook is not the only publisher," growled Emmett.

"But the novel has been turned down so many times!"

"Gavin could help me if he wanted to," said Emmett sorely. "With a
recommendation from him any publisher would bring it out."

"Have you asked him?"

"Sure, he's read the script."

"What did he say?"

"He intimated that he didn't think much of it. O, very delicately, of
course. Suggested that I try something else. Pure professional jealousy.
He is enough of a writing man to recognise real talent when he sees it.
You can hardly blame him. Said that novels were a bit out of his line,
and offered me a hundred to tide me over."

"Another hundred?"

"Well, why not? What's a lousy hundred to Gavin? He makes a hundred
thousand a year."

"But it mounts up so. How will you ever pay him back?"

"That's the least of my troubles."

"Emmett," she said earnestly, "let's start in on your script to-morrow
and go over it chapter by chapter. . . ."

"So you think I can no longer write," he said harshly. "You, too!"

"No, Emmett, no! I believe in you. I shall always believe in you."

"You think you can teach me how to write!"

"No I have no talent. I have never had any illusions about that. But
I've been through a hard school. I know what the public wants. At least
I know what they say the public wants. If we could just fix this novel
up so you could get an advance on it, you could bring it out under
another name if you were ashamed of it."

"That would be artistic suicide."

"But you must live! Gavin Dordress will get tired of lending you money.
It's only human nature."

"Is that a way of saying that you're getting tired of helping me out?"

Louella lowered her head. "Emmett, how can you say such things to me?
After all these years!"

"For God's sake, don't turn on the waterworks," he said irritably, "or
you will look a sight when we get there." He lit a cigarette.

Louella dried her eyes. After a moment or two she returned to the
charge. "You see, if you could somehow wangle an advance on this novel,
it would give you the time to write something really fine; something
they would have to take."

"I have never allowed anybody to tell me what I ought to write," he said
harshly, "and certainly I'm not going to begin now. Please change the
subject."

"If there could only be some understanding between us, these troubles
would be easy to hear," she murmured. "What would we care if .. if .. ."

"O, for God's sake, don't get emotional!" he said. "We're almost there!"

After a silence Louella said very low: "I suppose you look on me as a
drag on you now. If I were strong enough I ought to leave you."

"So you're talking about deserting me now," he-said. "I thought we were
leading up to that."

She put her hand over his-briefly. "Don't be afraid. I'll never leave
you . . unless you wish me to."

The car stopped. "Press photographers?" she said uneasily.

Emmett turned down the collar of his coat. "Gavin Dordress doesn't often
entertain," he said. "Naturally it has news value."

"How did they know about it?"

"Well, I tipped them off if you must know. Won't do me any harm to be
shot as a guest of the great man-. . . You go in first. It's me they
want."

The photographers glanced indifferently at Miss Kip and Mr. Gundy.
Louella disappeared within the apartment house, while Emmett lingered on
the step as if he wanted a last puff or two at his cigarette. "Well,
boys," he said pleasantly. "Always on the job!"

"Are you a friend of Gavin Dordress?" asked one.

"The oldest friend he's got," said Emmett with a careless air. "So
what?"

They focused their cameras, and set off the flashes while Emmett
nonchalantly flipped the ash from his cigarette. "What name?" asked the
young photographer who had first spoken. "Emmett Gundy. Emmett with two
t's, please."

"What's your line, brother?" asked another photographer.

Emmet looked at him coldly. "Novelist," he said. "Where have you been
keeping yourself?"

He went on into the apartment house and the four young men grinned at
each other. The one whom Emmett had rebuked asked: "Is this guy Gundy
such a muchness?"

"Nan," said another. "I seem to remember that he wrote a novel of
college life way back before the war. That was before I was breeched."

"It's always the way with these has-beens."

SIEBERT ACKROYD and Cynthia Dordress were driving up the Avenue from
Washington Square in Siebert's little convertible with the top down. It
was a typical November night, cold, with sparkling stars. Cynthia was
enveloped in a beaver coat, Gavin's gift, and had a chiffon veil around
her trim head to keep her hair in place. When her hair was covered, it
emphasized the clean, pure line of her profile. Siebert was a big young
man with strongly-marked features and a look of resolution that verged
on impatience. Most men, seeing the look in his eye, addressed him
politely. "What a night!" he said. "I wish we could drive right through
until morning, without having to go to that silly party at your Dad's."

"Dad's parties are not silly," said Cynthia.

"By morning we could be in Virginia," murmured Siebert. "You are sweet
enough to eat."

"Long before morning we should be quarrelling." said Cynthia.

"Well, is it my fault that we always seem to get in a quarrel?"

"Is it mine?" countered Cynthia.

"Let's not start anything now," said Siebert quickly. "Let me put the
case to you in a matter-of-fact way without any heat or passion. I am
horribly in love with you. I have gone all out. To be beside you like
this is heaven for me. Does that make you sore?"

"Of course not," she said in a softened voice.

"You have me to make or break," he went on. "You come between me and
everything. Naturally, such a state of suspense is hell on earth. I am
good for nothing."

"That seems a little excessive to me," said Cynthia.

"Excessive!" he exclaimed. "Do you want a half portion of love? Do you
wish that I wasn't completely in love with you?"

"No .. yes ... I don't know," she said. "I suppose it would be better
for you it you weren't."

"Do you love me back again?"

"Well, yes, in a way."

"In a way! ... In a way!" he muttered, pounding a fist on his thigh.
"That's what gets me! How can any warm-blooded person be in love 'm a
way'?"

"Well, it hasn't swamped my intelligence," said Cynthia.

"Meaning that it has mine."

"Now you're beginning to quarrel."

"No! No!" he said quickly. "I am perfectly cool and reasonable. I'm
trying to get to the bottom of this. I'm head over heels in love with
you, and you love me 'm a way'; why don't we get married?"

"I've told you so many times ..."

"Yes, but always with anger and insults. Consequently it wasn't
convincing. Let's talk it over calmly. We could afford to get married.
My agency is only a small affair, but it's solidly founded because I
only accept authors for my clients who have something in them, and I do
so well for them they will never leave me. Year by year it is bound to
pay better. O, God! to think of having a home! To come home to you at
night . . ."

"You forgot that I have my job, too, at the clinic."

"I admit I am jealous of your job," said Siebert "You are not
hard-boiled enough to deal with sick people all day. It takes too much
out of you."

"I have the feeling of being useful," said Cynthia. "There is nothing to
beat it."

"I wouldn't mind if you worked at home. You should write like your
father, and let me be your agent."

"I have no talent for writing."

"Well, I concede the job at the clinic," he said. "We can afford a good
servant. Don't you want a home, too? Wouldn't it be lovely to meet in
our own home after work and be together until we went to work again?"

"Yes," said Cynthia a little faintly; "but . . ."

"Then why don't we do it?" Taking a hand from the wheel he felt for
Cynthia's hand, but she drew it back out of reach.

"This is where we begin to quarrel," she said sadly. "Not to-night,"
said Siebert. "You couldn't make me mad."

"This longing to be together," she murmured, "this love, doesn't last-or
at least it changes very much. All older people, all books tell you
that."

"The heck with them!" said Siebert. "I will never change."

"And when it changes, we've got to have something more solid to go on
with."

"Time will take care of that."

"You are simply refusing to face things. That's what brings couples to
Reno."

"Cyn, for God's sake, if we love each other, why go behind it?"

"You're such a boy!" she murmured.

"Is that where I fall short?"

"Yes. I see through you too clearly. You're no wiser than I am. You
never surprise me."

"Well, I'm damned!" he muttered. And after a silence, grimly: "I could
surprise you all right, if I didn't love you so damned much!"

"I shall never marry," said Cynthia, "unless some man wants me who I
feel is bigger and cleverer than myself, and who has reserves that I
cannot enter into."

"In other words, a Gavin Dordress," he said with extreme bitterness.

"Now you're just being hateful."

"This feeling for your father is ridiculous!"

"It's not ridiculous; it's only unusual. The circumstances are unusual.
It's just a year ago since I saw my father for the first time. My mother
was a foolish, light-headed woman. She was jealous of his popularity and
his fame. Soon after I was born she divorced him, and regretted it as
long as she lived. She kept me away from him, and he made no effort to
see me because, as he has told me since, he thought the most important
thing was not to come between a child and its mother. Her bitterness
against him was pathological, and naturally I absorbed it. I grew up
thinking of him as a kind of monster.

"When I did go to see him after my mother's death, it was not with any
idea of finding a father; I simply meant to use him as a means of
getting on in the world. And then when I saw him and talked to him ...
O, Siebert! I thought I was hiding my hatred and bitterness, but of
course he instantly saw it, though he made believe not to. He was so
funny and human and casual; so honest! Not like a father at all, but
somebody my own age. I felt a sympathy and understanding such as I had
never known in my mother. Yet he didn't make any effort to win me over,
but just let me alone. All my defences went down immediately. I wanted
to grovel before him then. I felt as if it would take the rest of my
life to make up for the way I misjudged him."

"Well, that's all right," said Siebert grudgingly. "Gavin's a right guy.
He's your father. He doesn't conflict with me. I aim to be your
husband." He laughed, not very mirthfully. "A fellow is heavily
handicapped in marrying the daughter of such a superman, but I'll chance
it."

Cynthia did not respond to the laugh. "You don't understand," she said.
"During the past year my father has given me an ideal that I-well, I
couldn't take anything less than my ideal, could I?"

Siebert glanced at her in dismay. "Cynthia!"

"You asked for the plain truth," she cried, "and there it is!"

"Damn Gavin Dordress!" he said savagely.

"I hate you when you talk like that!" said Cynthia, teething. "You are
merely coarse and shallow! You understand nothing!"

"Damn him!" said Siebert. "I hate him!"

Cynthia was near tears then. "You knew him before I came on the scene.
It was at his place that I first met you. You were his friend."

"Sure, I was his friend. I don't mean to say that Gavin is a crook or
anything. But if he comes between me and you I hate him! It's a natural
feeling and I'm not ashamed of it. Damn him! I say. I'm no pious saint
to turn the other cheek. If anybody hurts me I'm going to strike back!"

"Well, I'm glad you have shown yourself in your true colours!" said
Cynthia.

"God! I'd like to shake you!" groaned Siebert. "I'd like to shake some
sense into your silly head!"

"Really!" said Cynthia.

They drove up in front of Gavin's house. "I suppose we've got to sit
through this damn dinner," he growled.

"I'll see that you're not placed beside me," said Cynthia.

"Go on in," he said. "I'll find a parking place and follow."

The bulbs flashed as Miss Dordress crossed the sidewalk. "Hold your head
up!" yelled the photographers, but she only pressed it lower. When
Siebert followed a few minutes later, one said: "Wipe off that scowl,
brother."

"Go to hell," said Siebert. The bulbs flashed anyhow. "Miss Dordress'
escort," said a voice. "What's the name, please?"

"Julius Caesar," said Siebert.

THOUGH he was not a tall man and far from slender, Amos Lee Mappin
stepped out with a good stride, and little Fanny Parran, clinging to his
arm, was obliged almost to trot to keep up. Fanny's littleness, her
dimples, her blonde curls and her lisp gave her the artless charm of a
child, but a man who assumed to talk baby-talk to her was apt to get a
shock.

She said: "On the level, Pop, you didn't wangle this invitation for me,
did you? Was it Mr. Dordress' very own idea to ask me?"

"Absolutely," said Lee. "He said to me: 'Lee, I'm short of a female for
Sunday night. Do you think that cheeky little secretary of yours would
condescend to accept an invitation?"

"Go on, Pop!" said Fanny. "Mr. Dordress never said that. He is too
dignified."

"You don't know the half of it, my child. Of course I couldn't swear to
his exact words, but that was the sense of it."

"O, dear!" said Fanny after a moment. "I suppose he does think I'm
pretty fresh."

"Well, he's considered a good judge of human nature."

"I didn't tell you what happened that day he came to your office, Pop. I
was ashamed."

"Good God! Did you assault the man?"

"Don't try to be funny! . . . You see, the Police Commissioner was with
you, and Mr. Dordress had to wait a few minutes in the outer room. He
looked at me in such a friendly way, I mean as if I was a human being,
and not just a piece of office furniture, and we got to talking. I can't
tell you just how it came about-I was fussed, you see, at being noticed
by the great man, and I heard myself saying: 'Mr. Dordress, I think the
women in your plays are terrible!'"

Lee chuckled. "Not a bad opening. And what did Gavin say?"

"He said: 'I think so too!'"

Lee laughed aloud. "It is undoubtedly to that that you owe your
invitation to dinner. Gavin is fed up with women who throw fits over
him. Strange as it may seem, he's a modest man."

"How kind of him to ask little me!" said Fanny "Do I look all right,
Pop? I won't disgrace you?"

"You do, and you will not," said Lee calmly. "You know that very well
already, so stop insulting my intelligence."

"Some men wouldn't force me to fish for compliments," said Fanny.

"I'm your boss, not your boy friend."

"Who will be there besides us?"

"I gather it's a kind of class reunion; Yale '13. Mack Townley and his
new wife . . ."

"That's Beatrice Ellerman. She's beautiful."

"Hm!" said Lee.

"Don't you like her, Pop?"

"A man never likes the young wives of his old friends. I think she's
taking Mack for a ride."

"But surely, with his experience he ought to know what he's doing. After
all the beautiful actresses he has hired and fired in his productions."

"That's just it. Over-confidence. Mack thinks he knows the sex. A man
can't have his guard up all the time. She watched him until he lowered
it, and pinked him! No man is safe."

"You have escaped."

"That's because I know my own weakness. I never try conclusions with a
woman. I run away."

"Have you never been in love?"

"Never! I would as soon toy with a cobra!"

"I think you're lying! . . . Who else will be there?"

"Emmett Gundy."

"Who's he?"

"Another one of our classmates. He writes novels. At least, I suppose he
still does. I haven't seen anything from his pen lately. In college
Emmett was considered the brightest of the lot. But he seems to have
flashed in the pan."

"Who is asked for him?"

"I don't know. Years ago Emmett had a girl called Louella Kip. Sweet
little thing, and absolutely devoted to him. I have forgotten whether he
married her. Gavin keeps up with him."

"You four were special friends in college?"

"Yes, pretty close. But in a little gang like that there are always
fellows who pair off. Gavin and I were the closest. We had been to prep
school together. Great days! Seems like yesterday. How well I remember
when we discovered the Phoenician alphabet in an old book. For years we
used to correspond in it."

"Your class was quite a distinguished one," said Fanny, "what with Gavin
Dordress and Mr. Townley and this novelist whoever he is."

"Gavin Dordress is the only real star we produced."

"O, I don't know, Pop, you're not so dusty. Of course, you haven't an
immense popular following like Gavin Dordress, because you're a
specialist. But you're known, your books sell. You're at the head of
your speciality."

"Crime, eh?"

"I love it!" said Fanny. "How did you come to adopt crime, Pop?"

"I suppose it's because I'm such a mild man. . . . And of course Gavin's
daughter and her young man will be there," he went on.

"He's cute," said Fanny.

"Quite!" said Lee. "Six foot two of cuteness!"

"And what lady will Mr. Dordress ask for himself?"

"O, Gail Garrett, of course."

"Why 'of course'? Is that still going on?"

"I don't understand you."

"All right. Prude . . . Gosh! Think of being asked to dinner with Gail
Garrett! I shall be perfectly overwhelmed!"

"Then we will see a phenomenon!"

"That's not very clever . . . You don't know me, Pop. I mean to be
perfectly quiet to-night and take everything in."

"Impossible!"

"What's Gail Garrett like, close to?"

"How am I to answer that? A popular star for twenty-five years. She's
not like a mere woman; she's a Broadway institution."

"She must be human."

"O, quite!" said Lee dryly, "in the wrong way . . . She won't cotton to
you."

"Why not? Everybody likes me-or almost everybody."

"Because you have twenty years advantage of her, that's why."

"I see. Well, I'll try not to provoke her."

As Lee and Fanny approached the steps of the apartment house where Gavin
Dordress lived, a photographer said: "Are you going to Mr. Dordress'?"

"Such was our intention," said Lee in his mild manner. "But if Dordress
is unfair to labour we'll eat elsewhere."

The photographers grinned and set off their flashes. "What name,
please?"

"Amos Lee Mappin."

"O, the detective."

"Nothing of the sort," said Lee. Fanny was delighted to see Pop getting
a little of his own back. "If you must hang a label on me make it
'amateur criminologist.'"

"Amateur nothing," said the young man, making a note; "famous
criminologist . . . And the young lady?"

"Miss Frances Parran . . . You can add that I am the author of The Fine
Art of Murder on sale at all bookstores."

"The heck with it!" said the young man. "You're the guy that the police
consulted in respect to the wash-tub murder. You solved it for them.
That's your news-value."

"Well, just as you like," said Lee. He and Fanny entered the apartment
house.

BEA ELLERMAN, now, officially, Mrs. Mack Townley, was one of the most
beautiful women in the public eye, and the little cushions of
self-satisfaction at the corners of her adorable lips suggested that she
knew it. Her tall figure, her classic features, her soft dark hair, all
were perfect, and she had in addition that all-over lusciousness of
aspect that defies description. Her husband could deny her nothing. She
was wearing a Hattie Carnegie dress of stiff blue silk besprinkled with
tiny gold stars and a fifty-thousand dollar sable coat; clips, necklace
and bracelet of diamonds and emeralds. She sat a little forward in the
taxi, smoothing the wrinkles out of her gloves, while Mack from his
corner watched her with a kind of agony of desire and frustration. A
tall man, Mack, beginning to grow a little heavy; dark, handsome,
self-indulgent face; famous for his perfect grooming. "We're half an
hour late," he growled.

"What of it?" said Bea. "They won't sit down without us."

"It's damn bad manners!"

"Nonsense. Nobody's on time. Not important people anyhow. I aimed to be
late to-night."

"Why, for God's sake?"

"Because I wasn't going to let Gail Garrett make an entrance on me. That
old woman!"

"All right," growled Mack. "But please remember that she's still an
important person in my business."

"She's slipping fast. It's ridiculous the way she tries to hang on to
Gavin Dordress. Anybody can sec that he is sick of her."

"What is it to you?"

"Nothing. But I hate to see Gavin made a fool of."

"Leave it to him."

"A man is no match for a woman in a situation like this. Gavin needs the
help of another woman in getting rid of Gail Garrett."

A spasm of anger crossed Mack's face. "Meaning yourself?" Bea smiled
confidently. "You keep out of this!" growled Mack. "I won't have it!"

Bea leaned over and slid the glass across so that the chauffeur could
not hear. "Don't speak to me like that," she said coldly. "I am not
accustomed to it."

"All right," said Mack. "But you leave Garrett alone, that's all."

"So she's important to you," said Bea with a disagreeable smile. "Are
you thinking of engaging her?"

"No. But I don't want any feud started."

"Mercy! I'm not going to do anything. I don't have to. The woman already
hates me as much as it is possible for one woman to hate another."

"All right," growled Mack.

Bea smoothed her gloves. "I'm quite looking forward to this dinner," she
murmured. "I expect to enjoy myself. I suppose Gavin will put Garrett at
his right hand and me at his left. Then we'll see."

Mack drew his lips back. "All right! But don't forget that a man can
stand only so much!"

"What on earth are you talking about?" she said, turning to him. He
refused to answer her. "Are you going to carry on like this every time a
man acts as if he liked me?"

"I don't care about any other man. It's only this man . . ,"

"He's your oldest friend."

"So much the worse."

Bea shrugged elaborately. "I don't see how I can act any differently. I
certainly can't set out to keep Gavin Dordress at arm's length. He's
your partner. It's absolutely essential to you." Mack said nothing. "I
should think you'd be glad to help him get rid an incubus like Garrett.
It would be tragic if he gave her the lead in his new play. She's
finished. Worse than tragic, it would be bad for business."

"All right," said Mack. "But you keep out of it."

"What's the new play about?" she asked. "I don't know."

"You announced it a week ago."

"That's a routine matter. It's not finished, I haven't seen it, and he
has told me nothing about it."

"Does he intend to give the lead to Garrett?"

"I don't know."

"Well, are you going to let him give her the part?"

"I never interfere with the casting of a Dordress play."

"Don't be a fool!" said Bea sharply. "Let us face realities. Do I or do
I not get this part?"

"Better wait and see the play."

"That's got nothing to do with it. There has to be a leading woman's
part and I'm going to play it. It's the next step in my career. I've
been planning this for years."

"Was that why you married me?" growled Mack.

"For heaven's sake, this is business!" she said. "Try to look at it from
my point of view. The new Dordress play will be the number one event of
the season. Naturally I play the lead. If the play was produced by Mack
Townley and Mack Townley's wife did not get the lead it would be like a
slap in the face, it would be like repudiation."

"The final choice rests with Gavin," said Mack.

"O, I'll take care of him," said Bea confidently. "I'll see that he
wants me to play the part."

Mack's face turned blackish, and his right hand clenched instinctively.
"By God!" he muttered. "By God! ..."

Bea, busy with her thoughts, did not notice him. "His giving a dinner at
this time falls just right," she said. "I'll get him to tell me about
the play. I'll clinch the matter to-night . . ."

Mack broke out in a low, thick voice. "God damn the play! And Gavin
Dordress, tool I'll have nothing to do with it. Let him find another
manager!"

Bea turned her head swiftly and looked at him from between narrowed
lids. "I'm fed up!" stormed Mack. "Fed up, do you hear? Gavin this and
Gavin that; you din his name into my ears from morning until night. The
man has laid a spell on you. Do you expect me to stand for it? Gavin and
Gavin's play! No, by God! I'm through with him and I'll tell him so
to-night. I'm going to take you away from all this!"

"You don't mean what you're saying," put in Bea quietly.

"All right! You'll see!" he cried.

"Listen to me," she said. "You're at the head of your profession in New
York and London. The first nights of the plays that you put on are
important social events. The people don't come to see your bright eyes.
It's because you're the fashion. If you drop Gavin Dordress, Maurice
Stein will get him, or Sam Nikodemus, or Gregory McArdle, and he will
become the fashion. You will be handing a great fortune to one of your
rivals, while you drop into second place!"

"I'm going to retire," muttered Mack. "I've made enough. We'll travel
abroad."

"Who, me?" said Bea. She laughed delicately, and paused to allow the
sound to sink in. "Can you see me fluffing from one European resort to
another with nothing to do but exchange gossip with the other wives and
get fat? You can do it if you want. Not me. I'm twenty-nine years old
and I'm not going to quit until I get to the top of the ladder. Get
that. When I agreed to marry you it was understood that you were to help
me in my career. If you chuck your part of the bargain don't expect me
to keep mine. The day you drop Gavin Dordress I go to Reno!"

"By God! you're a cold-blooded proposition!" muttered Mack, beaten.

"That doesn't help any," said Bea pettishly. "Really, Mack, I don't
understand you. With all your experience you must know that in our
profession business is all mixed up with personal relations. You can't
separate them. If, in order to get this part, it is necessary for me to
cajole the author, and even appear make love to him a little, why should
you care? You must have been through it a hundred times before."

Mack shook his head heavily. "No. Never before," said quietly. "Because
I'm in love with you, Bea, And there's something in a man more powerful
than business policy, or making money or getting ahead of others. A man
may keep it under for years, may never have known that it was there, but
it breaks out .. it breaks out . . .!"

Bea appeared to relent a little. She patted his hand, did not look
around. She was intent on her own thoughts. "I'm crazy about you!" he
murmured. "You came into my life at a time when I thought all that was
past. It is like a fire in me. It scorches. Everything in me is changed.
You can make my life either a heaven or a hell on earth!"

"Bear!" she said in a fond voice, but her expression had not changed.

"Tell me you are not so cold-blooded as you make out!"

"Of course I'm not! I was talking business!"

"Tell me you're just a little fond of me."

"Certainly I am. Or I wouldn't have married you."

"Kiss me, Bea!"

She obediently turned her head. "Don't muss me!" she warned. He kissed
her gently, his hand closing hard over hers. "Ouch! You're hurting my
hand."

"Sorry, dear . . . Let's not go to this dinner," he pleaded. "Honestly,
I don't feel up to it!"

"But we must!" she said. "We're there! We can't back out now . . .
Besides, the matter may be decided to-night. If I am not there, Garrett
will wangle the part out of him!"

"All right," he said heavily. "But I feel that it is a mistake."

"But Mack, we understand each other now. If you see me being very nice
to Gavin you will know it is only through motives of policy."

"You are not nice to him through motives of policy," he said darkly.
"The man excites you. I have eyes."

"I will be extra nice to you after we have left," she said softly.

"All right. But don't goad me too far while we're there." It was like a
groan. "Don't goad me!"

When they got out of the cab. Mack hung back in order to give the
photographers a fair show at Bea. Bea smiled dazzlingly at each young
man in turn. "Hello, boys! We meet again."

"Couldn't be too often for me, Miss Ellerman," said one. The bulbs
flashed. When Bea passed on they took Mack in turn. When Mack had
disappeared into the apartment house one young man said to another:
"Townley's showing his age."

GAVIN DORDRESS and his guests had moved into the studio after dinner.
This was a big room occupying the entire westerly end of the penthouse
with windows on three sides looking out on the neat box hedges of the
roof-garden. The window curtains were drawn back and coloured lights
were strung in the garden to make a festive effect. At the back of the
garden the wall of the adjoining building rose some fifteen feet higher,
covered with a lattice over which vines were trained in summer. Indoors,
Gavin did not go in for decorative fads: the room was of no period, but
merely comfortable, with deep chairs, mellow old rugs, shaded lamps and
endless shelves of hooks. A fire was burning.

The setting was right for a good party, and the company highly
ornamental. Gavin, Mack, Emmett and Siebert were tall, handsome men, and
Lee, though his figure was tubby, had a distinctive head; all the women
were beautiful women, each in her own style, except poor Louella.
Nevertheless, it was not a good party; there was no lack of brittle talk
and laughter, but it had overtures like thunder on the horizon.

Gavin had become aware of it as soon as they sat down to the table. He
could not talk all the time; he was hungry. And as soon as he fell
silent, the ladies at his right and left, with a too-perfect courtesy
and sweetness, began taking shots at each other. In his mind Gavin
consigned them both to the devil. His own clever Cynthia was silent and
distrait. He could do little with Louella Kip because she was afraid of
him. He addressed himself gratefully to Fanny Parran, whole sharp
answers were delightful. But when he talked to Fanny, both Gail and Bea
began to discharge their darts in her direction, and Gavin, for Fanny's
own sake, felt obliged to leave the girl alone. He was relieved when the
ladies left the table.

The men were no better. Mack Townley had drunk too much; Siebert
Ackroyd's comely young face was white and tight-lipped. Neither would
talk; they glanced at Gavin with barely-concealed animosity. Gavin
inwardly shrugged them off. In the brightly lighted room Emmett Gundy
had the look of a handsome boy who had started to wither before he was
quite mature. His would-be flattering remarks were curdled with envy.
Nursing his brandy goblet between his hands and sniffing the old
Armagnac, he simpered: "This is the incense of popular success." When he
lit a cigar he said: "I suppose some Cuban admirer presented you with
these."

Only Lee Mappin was his own dry, comical self, and Gavin's heart warmed
to him. His best friend! They talked about college days, hoping to draw
in the other two classmates, but without success. As soon as the men had
drunk their brandies, Gavin led them to the ladies in the sunroom,
hoping for the best. The tight smiles which greeted them were not
reassuring. What a party! Gavin glanced at Cynthia for humorous
sympathy, but Cynthia was sunk in her own painful thoughts. From the
sunroom they proceeded to the studio. Townley, tall, dark, regal in the
starry blue dress, looked around. "So this is where masterpieces are
produced!"

Gavin said: "I wish I could think so."

"So, is this the first time you have been in this room, darling?" asked
Gail. Alongside Bea she looked a little insipid. The gathered chiffon
dress was too youthful. Gail was straightening a picture on the wall,
and returning a book to its place on the shelf with a proprietary air
that made Bea's eyes snap. "O, dear no!" said Bea. "I have spent happy
hours here. But every time I enter I have the same feeling of awe."

"It will wear off," said Gail.

"Can I have a Scotch and soda?" growled Mack.

"Surely," said Gavin, pressing a bell. Even the perfect Hillman was
upset to-night, Gavin observed with wry humour when his servant entered,
wheeling the bar. Hillman's lean face was drawn and grey; his eyes and
his hands shook a little when he put ice in the glasses.

When Gavin took a glass from him he said: "You may go home with the
other men when they finish up. If we want anything we'll serve
ourselves."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir," said Hillman.

After he had left the room Lee Mappin said, just to be saying something:
"Doesn't Hillman sleep in?"

"No," said Gavin. "He's a family man. He has a home of his own. Servants
ought to be allowed to live normal lives like anybody else."

"O!" exclaimed Bea. "Do you mean to say that after the butler goes home
you are all alone here on this roof?"

"Surely." said Gavin, "Why not?"

"Aren't you afraid?"

"Hardly. I've reached the age when I love to be alone."

Fanny Parran was beside him at the moment. "That's hardly polite," she
murmured.

"Well, do you blame me?" Gavin asked, smiling back.

Fanny glanced over the company. "No. If it was me, I'd tell them all to
get the heck out!"

Gavin laughed. "If they were all like you what a good party it would
be!"

"You're pretty nice yourself," said Fanny.

Gail and Bea, observing this low-voiced exchange, moved from different
directions to break it up. Bea said to Gavin: "I don't think it's right
for you to be alone at night. Suppose you were taken sick!"

"I am never sick," said Gavin. "If I should be, the telephone is beside
my bed."

"You might be too sick to use it."

"If I was unconscious what difference would it make to me?"

"You don't look as if you were going to be sick," said Bea, languishing
at him, "but men who are so much in the public eye are always a mark for
kidnappers, burglars, cranks, and so on."

" Anybody who lives in fear might as well die and be done with it," said
Gavin. "The elevator man is there to protect me from intruders. And up
here on the fifteenth floor it is hardly likely anybody is coming in by
the window."

Gail glanced scornfully at Bea: "Anybody who tried to tackle Gavin would
regret it. He is armed."

"Are you?" said Bea.

Gail moved towards an immense flat-topped desk at the south end of the
room. She said: "He keeps a gun here." Pulling out the middle drawer,
she picked up a business-like black automatic, and exhibited it. There
was something terrible in her smile. "You seem to be familiar with
them," said Bea.

"I use a gun like this in my present play."

"Put it away, Gail," said Gavin good-humouredly. "I hate to see anybody
fooling with a loaded gun."

Bea, her face sharpened by curiosity, had joined Gail at the desk. Gail
returned the gun to its place. Bea's eyes ran over the contents of the
wide, shallow drawer. Alongside the gun lay a pile of typescript with
corrections and interlineations in a quaint and individual hand. At the
top of the first page was typed the title: The Changeling. "O here is
the great play!" cried Bea. "Won't you read it to us, Gavin?"

Gail stood a little away from the desk, watching Bea with a slight,
malicious smile. Fanny Parran and Louella Kip, who did not know Gavin
very well, added their voices to Bea's. "O, do read it, Mr. Dordress!"

Gavin shook his head. "I never read my own stuff aloud," he said,
obstinately good-humoured.

"Please!" chorused the three women.

Emmett spoke up: "Leave him alone," he said with a sour smile.

"He hates to be the centre of attraction." "The truth is," said Gavin,
smiling, "I have listened to too many young playwrights laughing and
sobbing over their own lines."

"But among your intimate friends . . ." pleaded Bea.

"Shut the drawer, Bea," growled Mack. "Can't you see that he hates to
have his work touched?"

Bea smiled at her husband in a manner that presaged trouble later, and
slowly pushed the drawer in. Returning to Gavin, she said: "Well, tell
us something about the play: tell us the story of it."

He shook his head. "It is always likely to be stood on its head or
turned inside out up to the very moment when it is handed to the
typist."

Fanny, to create a diversion, asked: "Don't you have a secretary?"

"No," he said, suggesting by his smile that if he could have one like
her he would. "If she's young she tries to vamp you; if she's old she
tries to boss you ... I have a girl in occasionally for correspondence.
Writing a play is a slow business. I can type quite fast enough to keep
up with the flow of my ideas."

"Tell us about the people in the play," said Bea cajolingly.

She seated herself beside Gavin on the sofa and laid a hand on his arm.
From across the room Mack's glowering eyes watched her. "Not a word,"
said Gavin, smiling and firm. "It's the only rule I ever made for
myself-and kept."

"Then nobody in the world but you knows what is in that play?" said Bea.

"Nobody in the world! Mack is taking a big chance in announcing its
production."

"I could still refuse to produce it," growled Mack.

Everybody except Gavin laughed as at a good joke. Bea, laughing the
loudest, said to Mack: "You won't do that!"

"O, I don't know," he growled.

Gavin glanced at him, puzzled. Mack refused to meet his eye.

It was Emmett Gundy who made the first move to break up the ill-starred
party. He exchanged a meaning look with Louella and they arose. It was
no more than ten o'clock. The inevitable empty politenesses were
exchanged. "Must you go? It's so early."

"Sorry," said Emmett, " but we have promised to join some friends at the
Coq Rouge."

Louella looked as if this was news to her. She had too honest a face for
society. Gavin and Cynthia accompanied them to the door of the room.
"Are you going to be tied up to-morrow, Gavin?" asked Emmett
off-handedly.

"I'll be working on my play. I haven't made any engagements."

"Could I see you for a few minutes after working hours? I want to ask
your advice about rewriting my novel."

"Surely. Drop in about five."

When they had gone, Gavin said, low-voiced: "Stand by me, Cyn. I want
you to stay until after everybody has gone."

She looked quickly in his face. "Surely, Dad."

Lee and Fanny were on their feet. "Must you go?" said Gavin with real
regret.

"Must!" said Lee. They moved into the foyer and he added: "Fanny and I
thought this would be the quickest way to break it up. This party was
doomed not to prosper."

"Dear old Lee!" said Gavin warmly.

"Why this sudden burst of affection?"

"You shine like a good deed in a naughty world!"

"I've been called many things in my time," said Lee. "But that's a new
one."

"I'm sorry it wasn't a good party," said Gavin to Fanny.

"Ask me again."

"I shall."

When Gavin and Cynthia turned to go back, they met Siebert, very stiff
and good-looking, coming out of the studio. Cynthia, with the slightest
of bows, passed on into the room. "Must you go?" said Gavin. "I was
hoping you would stay on a little."

"Thanks," said Siebert, "but I'm sure you and Cynthia want a little time
together."

Gavin was drawn to this young man. "It's a long time since you have
dropped in on me, Siebert. When are we going to have another game of
chess?"

"Chess is all very well for you," said Siebert, "but I have my way to
make. I can't take the time for it."

"Well . . . I'm sorry," said, Gavin. "You had the makings of a good
player. Goodnight, Siebert."

Siebert went on to get his things.

Gavin looked weary when he re-entered the studio. In the beginning he
had exerted himself to make things go; now he didn't care. Thus, when
Mack growled: "Get your things, Bea," he said nothing.

Bea made no move. "It's only ten o'clock," she said. "Gavin will think
we're not enjoying ourselves. Sit here, Gavin."

Gavin sat beside her. Mack left the room. Bea looked after him
indifferently, and rattled on: "You and Cynthia must dine with us very
soon, and that handsome fellow, Siebert. . and, of course, you, Gail."

"Thanks." said Gail.

She was sitting opposite them with a ghastly fixed smile. She was
squeezing a handkerchief in her hand, and she had bitten off all the
lip-stick from her lower lip without knowing it. Bea, flaunting her
beauty and freshness, said: "What night shall it be, Gavin? I want to
make this a very special occasion."

"I'd rather not make any engagements until I get the play off my hands;
four or five days; a week at the outside."

"Very well, let me know. I want to consult you about the other guests .
. ."

Bea's flow was checked by the return of Mack. He had her coat over his
arm. "Come on," he said. Bea saw that she could not defy him without
creating a scene and got up slowly. "Husbands are so peremptory!"

All five of them passed out into the foyer, and stood there while Mack
helped his wife into her coat. Gail made no move to get her things. "Can
we put you down anywhere, Gail, dear?" said Bea.

"Thanks, darling. I'm not quite ready."

Bea's eyes glittered. She glanced across the sunroom. "How lovely the
garden looks under the lights!" she said. "Show it to me, Gavin. It
won't take a minute."

"Very well," said Gavin woodenly.

They crossed the sunroom. The key to the garden door hung alongside the
door-frame. Gavin opened the door and they went out, closing the door
behind them. The three waiting in the foyer could see them dimly through
the glass. Gavin was calling Bea's attention to something off to the
South. Bea slipped her hand cosily under his arm, and they passed out of
sight.

Gail and Mack continued to stare out through the glass. They had
forgotten where they were. Cynthia hastened to make conversation: "Dad
consulted a man up in the Bronx Botanical Gardens about planting the
sunroom. Everything looks as if it was growing naturally, doesn't it?
Some of the plants are very rare . . ."

Neither Gail nor Mack paid any attention and her voice trailed away. It
was so quiet they could hear sounds from the pantry where the servants
were washing up. Moment followed moment, increasing the strain. Finally
Gail said in an unnaturally sharp voice: "I'd like to see the garden,
too."

She crossed the sunroom and went out, leaving the door open. Outside she
started to run. Mack watched her for a moment, glowering, then silently
went after her. Cynthia, after hesitating painfully, followed Mack.

They found Gavin and Bea standing beside the parapet at the east end of
the roof. Behind them a wasted moon was rising over the river, and the
pinpoint lights of Queensborough stretched away to infinity. When
Cynthia came up to the group, Gail was saying shrilly: "You better look
after your wife, Mack! She needs it!"

"Don't want your help," growled Mack.

"She's loose! She's common! She's cheap!" shrilled Gail. "See her trying
to brazen it out..."

"Gail, for God's sake, be quiet!" said Gavin. His voice was weary with
disgust.

"Come in!" growled Mack to Bea, with a jerk of his head towards the
house door.

"You have no right to speak to me like that!" retorted Bea. "Am I your
servant?"

Mack raised his voice slightly. "Come in!" he repeated. "Or you'll get
worse."

Bea turned to Gavin. "You hear, he threatens me! He's mad! It is
dangerous for me to go with him!"

"He is your husband," said Gavin coldly.

That was all that was said, but the voices, that is, three of the
voices, were so charged with venom as to make the youngest person
present feel physically sick. Such a scene was new to Cynthia. Somehow
or other they found themselves in the sunroom again. Gavin drew
Cynthia's arm under his. She felt better when she saw his face. It was
weary and disgusted, but there was no loss of dignity there.

Mack made straight for the door of the apartment. He held it open for
Bea to pass through. She, having recovered herself partly, took her time
about it. "I'm going," she said to Gavin, "not because he orders me to,
but because I want to end a painful situation. Good-night, Gavin.
Good-night, Cynthia, dear. Goodnight, Gail." She went out with a
nonchalant air. Gail sneered.

Mack, preparing to follow Bea, looked furiously at Gavin. "Give your
play to whoever you like," he said. "I'm through!"

"That suits me," said Gavin levelly. The door slammed.

Gail, with a grotesque attempt to recover her usual sugary manner, said:
"Cynthia, darling, I want a few words alone with Gavin. You will excuse
us, I'm sure. Such old friends!"

Cynthia looked at her father, then at Gail. She said coolly: "I'm sorry,
but Dad just said he wanted to speak privately to me."

Gail caught her breath, and looked at Gavin. "Is this true?'"

"You heard her," said Gavin.

Gail could scarcely articulate now. "So! So! You put this child ahead of
me now! You're using her as a shield! This chit! Don't think that I
can't see through your pitiful evasions. . . ."

Cynthia ran away down the corridor. Gail was still storming when she
returned with the ermine coat over her arm. "Your coat, Miss Garrett."

"Am I being put out of the house now?" cried Gail. "Gavin, will you
stand for that? Do you put me out of your house?"

Her face was so distorted with rage neither Gavin nor Cynthia could bear
to look at her. Since she refused to put her arms through the sleeves of
her coat, Cynthia hung it over her shoulders. Gavin opened the door.
"Are you going to let me go down into the street alone?" cried Gail.
"Me? There is no doorman in this miserable house to find me a taxi!"

Gavin hesitated. "Hillman is still here," said Cynthia. She ran into the
pantry and fetched the butler out. "Hillman," said Gavin, "go down with
Miss Garrett and get her a cab."

"Yes, sir."

"You'll be sorry for this, Gavin!" cried Gail. "Remember, I warned you!
... I warned you!"

Gavin closed the door, and he and Cynthia looked at each other. "What a
mess!" he said wearily. "My child, I'm so sorry you had to be let in for
it!"

"It won't hurt me," said Cynthia. "I'm not made of glass." She laughed
shakily. "You are too attractive to the ladies, Dad."

"It's not my attractiveness," said Gavin, "but something more sordid.
These women are fighting to get a part in my play."

"Which one gets it?"

"Neither."

They dropped on a sofa alongside the fire. After a while Cynthia said:
"I'd better go, too. I feel done up, and so do you."

"Don't go," said Gavin. "Why don't you stay all night?"

"I haven't my things."

"I wish you'd come here and live," he said wistfully. "It would be so
jolly to have you in the house."

She shook her head firmly. "I love my independence. And so do you. We
can be friends without living together."

"I shall never give another party," said Gavin. "Why do people give
parties?"

"Don't say that."

"Even Hillman. What the devil do you suppose is the matter with
Hillman?"

"He confided in me a little yesterday," 'said Cynthia. "He is married to
an ambitious wife. She twits him all the time because he's only a
servant. She tells him that their children are old enough now to be
ashamed of him. She wants him to give up his job and do something for
himself. Hillman tells her he has no money. She says if he would use his
wits he wouldn't be without money."

"Poor devil!"

Cynthia stood up. "I must go, Dad."

"Wait! What's the trouble between you and Siebert?"

Cynthia turned away her head. "Ah, don't ask me! He's impossible! Always
pestering me to marry him!"

"Aren't you a little in love with him?"

She looked at the floor. "Yes," she murmured. "That's just the trouble.
He's so good to look at . . and such a boy! But I can't respect him,
Dad."

"Siebert's a good lad; sound at heart; able, too."

"I know. I know. But he has no imagination, none of the finer
qualities."

"What of it? These sensitive, imaginative creatures are not easy to live
with, Cyn. Siebert is very much of a man."

"You can say that about him!" she said in surprise. "You ought to hear
the way he abuses you!"

Gavin laughed. "Jealous, eh? I seem to be in everybody's way!"

"Don't say that!" cried Cynthia, putting her arms around him. "You are
my ideal!"

"Ideals are all very well," said Gavin, smoothing her hair. "But I
advise you to think twice before sending Siebert away. I suppose he
flies into a rage and uses bad language. That's a manly weakness, my
dear. If you married him his ridiculous jealousy would disappear."

"No! No! Not said Cynthia. "He is impossible!"

"Well . . . I'm sorry."

He kissed her good-night at the door. "We'll feel better in the morning,
Cyn."

"Will you go to bed now?" she asked.

"I'll read a little while to compose my mind. I'll call you when I
wake."

"Do, dear."

Hillman said: "Shall I get you a cab, Miss?"

"No, indeed. I am accustomed to going about by myself."

"Good-night, Miss."

"Good-night, Hillman."

In the elevator the boy Joe asked her with a sharp look: "Is the party
over, Miss?"

"Yes," she said. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, everybody's in the house now except the real late birds. If I'm
not wanted for a couple of hours I could get a sleep."

As Cynthia waited on the corner for a taxi, an odd-looking figure passed
by, a tall man with heavy, stooping shoulders, a foreigner by the look
of him. An old, yellowish overcoat as shapeless as a bag hung from his
shoulders without touching him anywhere and he wore a leather aviator's
helmet that fastened under his chin. He kept his head down as he walked;
he had on thick glasses and had an uncanny way of looking around them.
At the moment Cynthia scarcely noticed him, but the strangeness of his
appearance was impressed on her subconsciousness.

CYNTHIA lived in a small walk-up apartment, parlour, bedroom and bath,
in a converted dwelling in West Fifty-fifth Street, not half a mile from
Gavin's place. She let herself in and threw her coat on a sofa. Her
little living-room no longer seemed the same haven of peace and freedom.
One of the first things that caught her eye was a framed photograph of
Siebert on her desk. She thrust it face down in a drawer. After a while
she drifted back to the desk, and taking out the photograph, looked at
it a long time. She glanced at the clock; 10.50. After painful
hesitation, she picked up the telephone and dialled a number. Her
expression suggested that she had no intention of humbling herself, but
was willing to give Siebert a chance to say he was sorry.

He did not answer. She hung up and going slowly into the bedroom started
to undress. For a long time she lay open-eyed in her bed waiting for the
telephone. It did not ring. When she finally slept with wet lashes on
her cheeks, her sleep was broken by bad dreams. Distorted faces formed
and dissolved in front of her; Gail Garrett; Mack Townley; the envious
Emmett Gundy; the sharp-featured elevator boy; even Hillman, weak,
desperate and furtive.

She was awakened by a roaring that seemed to be inside her head. It
resolved itself into the ringing of the telephone bell. She glanced at
the bedside clock; 7.50. Her face cleared as if by magic, and she ran
into the next room with shining eyes.

But it was not the deep voice that she longed to hear, and her face
fell. This was a man's voice so distracted and broken she did not
recognise it. "Miss Dordress?"

"Yes. Who is it?"

"Hillman, Miss ... O, Miss! . . . There has been an accident ... I don't
know how to tell you . . .!"

An icy hand was laid on Cynthia's breast. "My father?"

"Yes, Miss . . . Come quickly!"

"What has happened?" cried Cynthia. The frantic Hillman had already hung
up. She threw on her clothes anyhow and got a cab at the door. In five
minutes she was at the door of the Madison Avenue apartment. Short as
the time was, a thousand horrors had suggested themselves. She fought
them off by saying to herself: Hillman is a fool! He exaggerates the
trouble.

There was a different boy on the elevator. This was Harry, whom Cynthia
liked. "What has happened?" she asked him breathlessly.

He turned away his head. "I don't know, Miss. They'll tell you."

He is afraid to tell me! she thought; it is the worst! Hillman opened
the door of the apartment. His eyes were red-rimmed, his hands shaking.
At the sight of her his eyes filled with weak tears. "O, Miss . . .!"

"What has happened?" cried Cynthia.

"Your father . . ." He was unable to go on. Cynthia turned to run to her
father's bedroom. "Not there. He's in the studio." When she turned in
that direction, he caught hold of her. "You mustn't go in there."

Cynthia, frozen, dropped weakly in a chair, staring at the man. "Is he?
.. is he? . . am I too late?"

Hillman nodded. "Mr. Dordress has passed away."

"No! It can't be so!"

"Yes, Miss. Many hours ago."

Cynthia covered her face with her hands. She did not weep. "Send for Mr.
Mappin," she whispered.

"He's on his way, Miss."

When the bell rang Cynthia turned her haggard face to see who it was.
Two or three-important-looking men pushed in as if they had a right to
enter. One was in uniform with a lot of gold braid. Police! Several
underlings followed, carrying paraphernalia of different sorts. "This
way, please, gentlemen," stammered Hillman, leading them towards the
studio.

"What are the police doing here?" whispered Cynthia.

When the bell rang again she went to the door herself. It was Lee
Mappin. He took her in his arms. "My dear, dear child!"

She drew herself away. "Never mind me. Go in there. Lee. In there! And
for God's sake come and tell me what has happened."

She dropped back in the chair and waited like a woman of stone.

When Lee entered the studio he saw the body of his friend lying huddled
on the floor near the fireplace. He drew a long breath to steady
himself. Gavin's right arm was outstretched and near it lay a black
automatic as if it had been knocked from his hand as he fell. Under his
head a pool of blood had spread out on the parquet floor and coagulated.
The wound itself was hidden. Gavin's eyes were fixed and staring. Near
him a police photographer was kneeling on the floor, preparing to take a
picture of the body. Lee looked around the room. The set-up was familiar
to him; Captain of the precinct; Lieutenant of detectives, another
detective, medical examiner, fingerprint expert and so on.

Captain Kelleran knew him. "Good God! Mr. Mappin, what are you doing
here!" he exclaimed. "Gavin Dordress was my oldest friend," said Lee.

"I didn't know that. You have my sympathy."

"When did this happen?" asked Lee.

"About nine hours ago. Say ten-thirty or eleven last night. There is
nothing here to interest us professionally. Clearly a suicide."

"He had everything to live for," murmured Lee.

"He left a letter," said the Captain, handing Lee a manilla sheet that
appeared to have been torn off a pad on Gavin's desk. "I take it that's
his handwriting?"

Gavin as a young man had taken the trouble to form a highly decorative
hand. The quaintly-formed characters were inimitable. "Undoubtedly,"
said Lee. He read the letter with a masklike face. "Do you recognise the
gun?" asked the Captain.

Instead of answering directly, Lee went to the desk at the other end of
the room and pulled out the middle drawer. He said: "Gavin kept his gun
here. It's gone. It was of the same style and calibre as that on the
floor. We may assume that that is his gun."

"So you see . . ." said the Captain, spreading out his hands. "We'll
check fingerprints on the gun to make sure. There are powder burns
around the wound."

There was something else about the drawer that made Lee look thoughtful.
He returned to the fireplace. The fire had been out for many hours. On
top of the dead embers lay the charred remnants of many burned papers.
One sheet had partly fallen out, and the top of it was unburned. Lee
could read a typed title: The Changeling. So Gavin had burned the new
play before killing himself. This was no business of the policeman's and
Lee said nothing about it.

Taking the letter, Lee returned to Cynthia in the foyer. She raised her
questioning eyes to his, and he said simply: "Gavin has left us."

"What was it?" she whispered. "Heart? . . . Why the police?"

"He took his own life."

Cynthia, wildly staring, stammered: "No, Lee, no!"

He put a hand on her shoulder. "You must face it, my dear. He had the
right to leave us if he wished to."

"Yes," she agreed. "But he couldn't have done it! . . . Last night when
I left him there was no such thought in his mind. He was looking ahead
to our future . . ."

"Then it was a sudden impulse."

"No, Lee! Dad was not a creature of impulse. He was stable!"

Lee handed her the letter. A spasm of pain crossed the girl's face at
sight of the decorative characters.-There was neither salutation nor
signature. She read: "I have reached the summit of my life-indeed I
appear to have passed it. I have done my best work. There is nothing
before me but a slow decline in power. I wish to be remembered by my
best, and so I choose to write the End while I can do it firmly. Men
live too long.

"What are the thoughts of a man who pauses on the brink of the
unknowable? I have often wondered. Now I know. He thinks of his
childhood; the first tree climbed; the first little creek that was swum
from bank to bank. Those were the biggest successes of life. Later he
remembers the words that remained unspoken; the wine untasted; the
kisses that were not given. They are the sweetest. He hears the first
sleepy notes of awakening birds, and sees a lake gleaming in the dawn.
And always the stars, his unchanging companions, who mocked him when he
was set up, and comforted him when he was cast down.

"This is the last thought: Man is not worthy of his beautiful earth. The
worst that has been said about man's life is true; it is cruel, ugly and
evil-but who would give up the privilege of sitting in on so magnificent
a show? I have seen it, and I leave the theatre without regret."

Cynthia's tears were falling fast before she came to the end. Some
moments passed before she could speak. "Was this all?" she whispered.
"Nothing . . not one word for me?"

"That is all," said Lee. "He would not leave me without a word!" she
cried. "Lee, I will not believe that he killed himself! There are people
who wished him dead."

"It must be faced," said Lee. "There is the gun, the powder marks. The
letter sounds like Gavin."

"It sounds like him," she agreed; "but it has a made-up sound. It is
like something he might have written in a play."

"Cynthia, my dear, you are only tormenting yourself!"

"Why shouldn't I be tormented?" she burst out. "He would not leave me
without a word. . . . Listen, Lee, we came close to each other for a
moment last night as I was leaving. There was nothing much said. We
understood each other without speaking. You cannot mistake such a
moment. After that he could not have left me without a word. I do not
believe he killed himself. I will never believe it.... Look at this
letter! Notice how in the first line he has changed "apex" to "summit";
down below he wrote "most men" and then crossed out "most," and changed
"abyss" to "unknowable." Would a man be thinking about literary effect
when he was about to die?"

"Habit, perhaps," said Lee. "He wrote the letter. How else can it be
explained?"

"It sounds like something out of a play," insisted Cynthia. "Let us read
the new play and see if there is not a clue there."

"He burned it," said Lee.

"Burned it? Why should he?"

"Well, he implies in the letter that he was dissatisfied with it."

"Implies! Implies! Words can imply so many things! He doesn't say that
he was dissatisfied with it. He told me he thought it was good."

"Sometimes there is a reaction. Every writer knows what that is like."

Cynthia was not listening. "Lee, suppose that this letter is something
that Dad wrote for his play. He was always making changes and inserting
new pages either in type or longhand. The murderer found it. He would
then be obliged to destroy the rest of the play, wouldn't he, in order
to conceal the fact that this had been taken from it?"

"That is too far-fetched!" objected Lee.

"What do you mean, far-fetched?"

"It is incredible that the murderer-if there was a murderer, should have
stumbled on something that came so pat to his needs."

"Perhaps he read the play first and this letter suggested the plan of
the murder."

"Gavin would allow no one to read the play."

"There were plenty of people whO were crazy to get a line on it. Hillman
may have betrayed Dad while lie was out. Hillman ..." She pulled up
suddenly, and her eyes widened.

"What is it?" asked Lee.

"Hillman has something on his mind."

"Naturally, after . . ."

"O, this began many days ago."

"Where does Hillman live?" asked Lee.

"I don't know. It's in Gavin's address book." Captain Kelleran came out
of the studio with his men tailing after him. He bowed to Cynthia with
grave sympathy and drew Lee aside. "There is nothing in this case for
the police," he said. "With an ordinary magnifying glass we could
identify Mr. Dordress' fingerprints on the gun without the necessity of
taking photographs. The medical examiner will hand you the necessary
permit for burial, and we will trouble you no more. Please convey my
sympathy to the young lady."

"Thank you. She will appreciate it, Captain." Lee shepherded them out
through the door.

When they were left alone Cynthia came and wound her arms around Lee's
neck. "Thank God, I have you!" she said. "Bless your heart!" he
murmured. "Have I convinced you that Gavin did not kill himself?" she
asked, looking deep into his eyes. "No, my dear," he said gravely. "So
far this is only a surmise on your part. We must have evidence."

"Then look for it! Look for it!" she said, urging him with her hands.
"Before anything is moved or changed, before any one else comes. You can
lay bare the truth. Lee, if anybody can."

"I'll do my best," he said.

THE bell rang. "This will be the reporters," said Lee.

"Don't let them in!" exclaimed Cynthia in horror.

Lee stopped Hillman on his way to the door. "Wait a minute." He said to
Cynthia: "We can't keep them out, my dear. I'll take care of them. You
go into the guest-room. You should stay here for the present, because
you can't protect yourself from intruders in your own place. I'll send
for Fanny Parran to be with you."

"I don't want anybody."

"Fanny is a woman in a thousand. She'll act as if nothing was the
matter."

"I wane to be with Dad," said Cynthia piteously.

Lee thought of the black stain under Gavin's head. "You shall be," he
promised. "When I get these people out of the house."

Lee took the precaution of locking the studio door and pocketing the
key. A swarm of reporters and photographers was then admitted. More were
arriving constantly. Lee told them a plain story of what had happened,
and let them copy Gavin's letter. He answered every question that he
considered a proper one, but nipped in the bud every attempt to make a
sensational mystery of the case. That section of the press which thrives
on sensation was disappointed. One or two of the men from the more
unscrupulous sheets edged to the door of the studio and tried it. Lee
said: "That's all now, boys. I've got a lot to do. I'll receive you
again at eleven o'clock to give you anything that may break in for the
later editions."

They left.

Fanny arrived, saddened and wondering. Lee said to her: "I rely on you.
Keep your ears open and your mouth shut. I want you to stay with Cynthia
for the present. Keep her occupied if you can. There must be family
letters to write and so on. She is under the delusion that her father
was murdered, and we must appear to humour it."

Fanny's eyes widened. "You don't think that . . ."

"Please God there's nothing in it!" said Lee. "One can face the fact
that Gavin left us because he wished to go, but if he was taken ... I
... Read that!" he said, handing her the letter. "What does it suggest
to a woman's intuition?"

Fanny read the letter, and considered. "It sounds," she said slowly,
"-what shall I say? Just a little highfalutin for a man so simple and
natural as Mr. Dordress."

Lee looked at her in surprise. "That's what Cynthia said. I hope you're
both wrong. Go to her."

Lee locked himself in the studio for an hour. When he came out his mild
face was stern and grey. Meeting Hillman drifting around the foyer like
a lost soul, he said: "You may telephone for the undertaker now. Let him
arrange the body suitably on a couch in there, and see that the floor is
washed, so that Miss Cynthia may see her father before he is taken
away."

"Yes, sir."

Lee went on to the two girls in the guest-room. When Cynthia saw his
face she cried out: "What have you discovered?"

He hesitated. "Tell me everything that is in your mind," she pleaded.
"Treat me like a man. It is the kindest thing you can do. What I cannot
bear is to be kept in the dark."

"I agree," said Lee. "What I have discovered raises a doubt in my mind
that Gavin killed himself."

"I knew he wouldn't leave me without a word," murmured Cynthia.

"What did you find?" asked Fanny.

Lee still had Gavin's letter in his hand. He said: "The yellow pad from
which this sheet was presumably torn was not lying on Gavin's desk when
we were in the room last night. The inference is that he got it out
later. If you run your finger lightly along the top of this paper you
can feel microscopic pieces of glue clinging to it. When I placed this
sheet on top of the pad and examined the edges under a strong glass, I
saw that these specks of glue do not fit with the glue that remains on
the pad. In other words, this is not the last sheet that was torn off
that pad. As a matter of fact, the pad was twice as thick as it is at
present when this sheet was torn off it."

The eyes of both girls widened when they took in the significance of
this. "Also," Lee went on, "Gavin's fountain pen was on his desk. I find
that he uses the sort of fluid that writes blue and darkens with time.
When I made tests with the ink I saw at once that this letter was not
written last night. It is several days old, possibly more than a week."

"What did I tell you?" said Cynthia.

"Wait! It is possible that Gavin may have written this several days ago
and have been keeping it."

Cynthia shook her head. "He could not have had any such idea when he was
talking to me last night."

"A forgery?" suggested Fanny.

"We may dismiss that possibility," said Lee. "Gavin certainly wrote this
letter."

"For some other purpose," said Cynthia obstinately.

"You may be right, but until we have further evidence, we must still
reckon on the possibility of suicide. . . . There is something else."

"Yes?" asked Cynthia anxiously.

"Six little marks on Gavin's forehead, as if he had struck against
something, not hard. I don't know yet what they signify. The police were
so sure it is suicide they paid no attention. I have made a sketch of
the marks."

"Anything else?" asked Cynthia.

"I found Gavin's address book, but the little book bound in green
Morocco which he entered ideas for plots, scenes and characters is
missing."

"It was always in Gavin's desk," said Cynthia.

"What happened last night after Fanny and I went home?" asked Lee.

Cynthia described what had taken place word by word, as closely as she
could remember. She cried out passionately: "It is easy to see who . .
."

Lee held up his hand. "Wait! My first rule is: Never be satisfied with
the obvious explanation. We must always have the unknown quantity in
mind. If there is a murderer it may be somebody we never heard of."

"If, if, if," murmured Cynthia. "You will drive me crazy with your ifs!"

Lee smiled at her. "Bless your heart! . . . We don't know all the
circumstances of Gavin's life."

"If you are implying that there is anything discreditable . . ."

"I'm not," said Lee; "but if there is, what difference would it make to
those who loved him?"

Tears gathered in Cynthia's eyes. "I noticed that there was a certain
coldness between you and Siebert last night," Lee hazarded.

Cynthia told him briefly what had happened.

There was a knock on the door. It was Hillman to say that Mr. Kinnaird
was asking for Mr. Mappin. Kinnaird was Gavin's attorney, a young man.
Lee went out to meet him. The two gripped hands. "Is there anything I
can do?" asked Kinnaird.

"Answer a question," said Lee. "You have his will?"

"Yes."

"Is it proper for you to tell me the provisions?"

"Surely. You and I are named as executors. It's a brief will. He leaves
everything to his daughter except for two bequests. Fifty thousand
dollars to the Authors' League Fund, and five thousand to his servant,
Robert Hillman."

"So," said Lee.

"You don't suspect that . . ."

"I suspect nothing," said Lee, "but I must look into everything."

The two men discussed the various measures that must be taken in respect
to Gavin's death. When the lawyer had gone, Lee addressed Hillman in his
mild way. "Hillman, tell me about Mr. Dordress' movements yesterday."

The gaunt man-servant was an abject figure. His hair was disordered, and
the neat black bow had crept around to the side of his collar without
his being aware of it. A natural grief for his master was hardly
sufficient to account for the frantic look in his eyes. Lee observed
that he had continually to pause and swallow his saliva. "Mr. Dordress
was working very hard on his play, sir. He was in the studio from
breakfast until lunch, and again after lunch. He went out for a little
while in the afternoon, but he was home by three and at work again. He
worked until it was time to dress for dinner."

"Did he say where he was going when he went out?"

"To the bank, sir."

"Any place else?"

"He didn't say, sir."

"Any visitors yesterday?"

"There are always callers, sir, but I had strict orders to say he was
out. He saw only one man. Mr. Alan Talbert."

"Who's he?"

"A young gentleman; a playwright, I believe. He addressed Mr. Dordress
as 'The Master.'"

"How long did he stay?"

"A few minutes only. The others who called were . . ."

"Never mind if they didn't see him . . . Now as to last night; as I
understand it, Mr and Mrs. Townley left together; shortly afterwards
Miss Garrett left; then Miss Cynthia."

"That's right, sir."

"What did you do then?"

"The hired servants had already gone, sir. I just looked around to see
that everything was all right, and I went home, too. Ten to eleven it
was when I left."

"How long was that after Miss Cynthia had gone?"

"Twenty minutes to half an hour, sir."

"Did you see Mr. Dordress before you left?"

"Yes, sir. Went into the studio to ask if there was anything he wanted."

"What was he doing?"

"Sitting in his big chair, sir, reading."

"Did he appear to be composed?"

"O, yes, sir. Spoke to me quiet and friendly. Said there was nothing he
wanted."

"Did you notice what he was reading?"

"No, sir. A little book with a green cover."

"He must have put it back on the shelf. It's not anywhere around now."

"Yes, sir."

"So you were the last person to see him alive," said Lee quietly.

Hillman's face broke up. He was squeezing his hands together to control
their trembling. "Don't say that, sir!" he stammered. "O, don't say
that!"

"Why not?" said Lee, affecting to be surprised.

"That's what they always say of a person when he is suspected of .. of
... Mr. Dordress was a good master. I have worked for him nine years . .
how could I . . .?"

"You are not suspected of anything," said Lee mildly. "Have you any
reason to believe that Mr. Dordress did not kill himself?"

"No . . yes . . how should I know?" stammered Hillman. "There was bad
talk here last night. You know about it."

"I know about it," said Lee dryly. "But everything points to suicide. I
suspect nobody. I am investigating merely to clear up any possible
doubt. Keep your mouth shut, Hillman. We must be careful not to start
anything that might sully Mr. Dordress' name."

"O, yes, sir! Did you know, sir, that Miss Garrett was overheard to
threaten Mr. Dordress' life?"

"Who overheard her?" asked Lee.

"One of the waiters from Millerand's, sir. It was when she first came.
Miss Garrett was the first to arrive."

"I hope the man will keep his mouth shut," said Lee.

"He said he would, sir."

Lee studied the butler. "Look at me, Hillman." The servant tried hard to
keep his eyes fixed on Lee's, but they would not obey him. "What are you
afraid of?" asked Lee.

Hillman began to tremble. "I . . . I'm not afraid, sir. Only distressed.
My master .. to go like this ..."

Lee cut him short. "Did you know you were down in his will for five
thousand dollars?"

Hillman made his face look glad and surprised, but it was not
convincing. "O, Mr. Mappin! No, sir. I didn't know! Five thousand
dollars! I can scarcely believe it!"

"It's true," said Lee, watching him.

"When will I get the money, Mr. Mappin?"

"I can't tell you exactly. In a week or two, I suppose. Have you a
special need of it?"

"Yes, sir. I'm buying a little restaurant, sir."

"If Mr. Dordress had not died where would you have got the money?"

"I suppose I would have gone to the loan sharks, sir."

Taking a new line, Lee asked: "What about the boy who was on the
elevator last night?"

Hillman was relieved. "Joe Dietz, sir."

"Is he a friend of yours?"

"No, sir. Not to say a friend. I never took to the boy."

"Why?"

"He's too nosey. Always making up some excuse to get into the apartment.
He pesters the guests for autographs and sells them."

"Get him here if you can without arousing his suspicions. I don't want
to start anybody thinking there is a mystery about Mr. Dordress' death."

"Yes, sir."

Joe Dietz was hanging around in the lobby below and Hillman was able to
produce him in a few minutes. An under-sized young fellow with a mean
expression; sharp eyes darting in every direction. "Where is he?" he
asked.

Lee ignored the question. Hillman had his ears stretched, and Lee sent
him into the studio to tidy it up. To Joe he said: "Miss Dordress was
the last of the guests to leave last night, and after that Hillman went
home?"

"That's right, sir. Do you suspect that the boss was murdered?" he
asked, licking his lips.

"No," said Lee. "Mr. Dordress killed himself. I am merely trying to
establish a motive. Keep your mouth shut and I'll see that you are taken
care of."

"Yes, sir. You can depend upon me, sir," said Joe fawningly.

"After Miss Dordress went home, how long was it before Hillman left?"

"I couldn't tell you exactly, sir."

"Well was it a long time or a short time?"

"Shortish."

"An hour?"

"Not so long."

"Half an hour?"

"Maybe. I didn't take no particular notice."

Lee was unable to pin him down. He couldn't tell whether the boy was
trying to throw suspicion on Hillman, or was withholding the vital
answer to increase his own importance. Lee let it go for the moment.
"After Hillman had gone home did you take anybody else up to Mr.
Dordress' apartment?"

"No, sir."

"What were you doing at the time?"

"I took a sleep, sir."

"Where?"

"On the bench in the elevator. I left the door open."

"Where are the stairs in this building?"

"They run up in a fireproof shaft alongside the elevator."

"Is there a door to the stairs in the foyer?"

"Yes, sir. Right beside the elevator."

"While you were sleeping couldn't somebody have come up the stairs?"

"No, sir. The door's locked. It's a spring lock. If there was a fire and
the tenants run down the stairs they could open the door from the
inside. But on the outside you have to have a key."

"How did Hillman look when he came to work this morning? Distressed?
Excited?"

"No, sir. He looked the same as usual."

"Joe," said Lee very casually, "did you come up here to Mr. Dordress'
flat last night after Hillman had gone?"

Joe became very excited. "No, sir! No, sir I What for would I come up
here so late? I swear I never saw Mr. Dordress last night. May God
strike me dead if I ain't telling the truth!"

"Leave God out of it," said Lee dryly. He felt that the boy was lying
somewhere.

"Mr. Mappin, can I see him?" asked Joe with unpleasant eagerness. "No,"
said Lee.

After the boy had gone Lee called up Stan Oberry. Stan operated a small,
high-class detective agency, and Lee was accustomed to calling on him
for assistance. "Stan," he said, "there are two men that I want tailed.
The first is Joe Dietz, an elevator boy at-- Madison Avenue. He's
hanging around the lobby of the house off duty, if you can send a man
over. Joe is the rat-faced one. The other man is George Hillman, Mr.
Dordress' servant. He'll be busy in the house all day. While waiting for
him, your man might go up to 729 Calhoun Street, the Bronx, where he
lives, and pick up all he can about Hillman's family, his recent
movements, and his habits generally."

"Okay, Lee."

THE bell rang. When Hillman opened the door, the tall figure of Siebert
Ackroyd entered quickly. Siebert was terribly upset. "Is Miss Dordress
here?" he demanded of Hillman.

"I'll see, Sir."

"For God's sake, tell me plainly, is she here or isn't she?"

"I don't know if she can see anybody, sir."

"Well, go tell her I'm here."

Lee Mappin, hearing the voices, came out of the studio. He greeted
Siebert coolly, and Siebert, observing it, stiffened. Lee said to
Hillman: "Wait a moment."

"Are you giving the orders here?" said Siebert angrily.

"So it would appear," said Lee.

"By whose authority?"

"Cynthia's."

"And are you going to prevent me from seeing her?"

"Not at all. I merely wanted to have a few words with you first. Come in
here." He led Siebert into the gunroom out of the hearing of Hillman.

Siebert made an effort to overcome his angry manner. "Mr. Mappin, this
is a terrible blow to me," he said. "Please overlook it if I .. if I
..."

"Sure," said Lee equably. ". . . It is more terrible even than it
appears, Siebert ... I have reason to believe that Gavin did not kill
himself."

"What!" cried Siebert. "You mean you think "-his voice sunk-"murdered?"

"It is possible," said Lee. "I know I can rely on you to say nothing."

"But how? . . how?" stammered Siebert.

"I don't know. What did you do when you left here last night?"

Siebert's face flamed with anger. "By God!' are you suggesting that I .
. .!"

Lee betrayed impatience. "That's a foolish answer, Siebert. I am
'suggesting' nothing. I don't know what happened. I haven't any theory
as yet. It's my duty to follow up every line wherever it may lead. Where
did you go last night?"

"I don't have to answer you," muttered Siebert.

"Of course not. But a refusal to answer leads to a certain inference . .
."

A blank look come into Siebert's face. "I can tell you where I went," he
said slowly. "But I have no corroboration of it."

"Well, tell me anyhow."

"I walked the streets," said Siebert bleakly. "I was all upset. I had
quarrelled with Cynthia."

"I know that," said Lee.

This made Siebert freshly angry. "So she tells you all about me, eh?"

"What streets?" asked Lee.

"I couldn't tell you. I went over on the East side because I didn't want
to meet anybody. I went into different bars and drank. I couldn't point
them out to you."

"What time did you get home?"

"I don't know. It was after two. They could tell you at the Allingham,
where I live."

Lee nodded. "I'll tell Cynthia you're here," he said.

He found the two girls in the guest-room. Cynthia, with a quiet white
face, was dictating the necessary family letters to Fanny. Lee said:
"Siebert is here."

Cynthia sprang up. A little colour came into her face. "You want to see
him, then?"

"Siebert? Why of course!"

Lee took her hand. "My dear!" he said gravely.

"What is it, Lee?" she asked, anxiously searching his face.

"Keep a firm grip on yourself!"

Cynthia was very quick of apprehension. Every vestige of colour drained
out of her face. "Lee . . you don't suspect that Siebert could have . .
.?"

"I don't suspect him." he said. "I have no evidence. But he could have
done it."

"O, no! no!" she whispered. "Not Siebert! I couldn't bear it. Lee!"

"My dear," he said. "I believe you are brave enough to face anything."

Cynthia went quickly to the sunroom. Lee waited for her in the foyer.
When Siebert saw Cynthia coming, his angry, virile face turned imploring
and his hands went out to her. "Cynthia!"

She stopped short of him. He took a step towards her, but she fended him
off. "Has Mappin put that ugly suspicion into your mind?" he demanded.
"Have you turned against me?"

She shook her head. "I don't think there's anything in it."

"If I could only tell you how I felt when I heard what had happened!" he
said brokenly. "I mean, because I was angry at Gavin last night and
spoke against him. God help me! I felt as if it was my fault somehow. My
rage was only a flash in the pan, Cyn. I was sore because you kept me at
arm's length. I had nothing against Gavin, really. Nobody knows better
than me what a fine man he was!"

"Thank you, Siebert," she whispered.

His arms went out again. "Cynthia!"

She shook her head. "I can't! I am all empty inside ... I have no
feeling for anything or anybody now . . except him. . . . Thank you for
coming, Siebert."

He turned from her and strode out of the apartment without looking at
Lee. "He acted badly," Cynthia murmured to Lee; "he got angry. But that
doesn't mean anything. Whenever Siebert is distressed or upset he flies
in a temper and lashes out at whoever may be around him. It's just a
boyish trick."

"Very likely," said Lee.

"Lee, it couldn't have been Siebert!" she murmured, searching his eyes
for confirmation.

He pressed her hand. "Don't you believe me?"

"I neither believe nor disbelieve. I hope you're right. I'm waiting for
evidence."

"Then find it!" she cried. "Find it quickly! I must know the truth or
I'll go out of my mind!"

"Do you know Alan Talbert?" asked Lee.

"I've met him; a handsome young man, a playwright, a great admirer of
Dad's. Dad spoke of him as rather a silly fellow, but likeable."

"Is that all?"

"That's all I know."

AFTER Cynthia had been given an opportunity to be with her father,
Gavin's body was removed to a funeral establishment. Lee received the
reporters again, and answered their questions as far as he thought
proper. Lee was an old hand in dealing with the press, and
notwithstanding the reporters' cleverness, they were unable to extract
an admission from him that there was anything unexplained about the
death of Gavin Dordress. By this time the news was all over town, and a
long procession of callers began; Gavin's admirers, actors who had
appeared in his plays, playwrights he had encouraged. None of the other
guests at dinner the night before called or phoned, and Lee set out in
search of them.

First to the Townley Theatre where Mack maintained a luxurious suite of
offices. The outer room, where a line of playwrights and actors was
usually waiting, was empty now. Lee was told that Mr. Townley had
telephoned he would not come to the office. Lee could not go behind
that, though the frightened faces of elevator boy, receptionist and
secretary suggested that Mack was in fact in the building, probably in
one of the unbridled rages for which he was known. Lee left a note for
him, and proceeded to the Townley apartment on Park Avenue. Here a
wooden-faced man-servant told him that Mr. Townley had gone to his
office. "There's a lack of team-work," said Lee dryly. "Is Mrs. Townley
in?"

"No, sir."

"Can you tell me where she may be found?"

"I don't know, sir."

"When will she return?"

"She didn't say, sir."

While Lee was talking to the man a trunk was carried across the foyer
and out through a service door. "Has Mrs. Townley left the city?" he
asked at a venture.

"Well, yes, sir," admitted the servant.

"Why didn't you say so at once? Where has she gone?"

"I have not been informed, sir."

Lee could get no more out of him. Nor were the hallmen any more
communicative. From a booth in a drugstore he called Stan Oberry again.
"Stan, I have been informed that Bea Ellerman, that is, Mrs. Mack
Townley, has left town. Find out for me where she's gone. In the case of
so prominent a person it ought not to be difficult. If you have a
discreet man on call, let him try to find out what led to this sudden
departure. A woman might get it better."

"Okay, Lee."

Then to the Hotel Conradi-Windermere where Gail Garrett leased an
apartment. Lee did not send up his name but proceeded directly to Gail's
quarters in the tower. The door was opened by Gail's own maid,
Catherine, who was known to Lee. The elderly woman was pale and shaken.
Lee made believe not to notice anything out of the way. "Good morning,
Catherine. I'd like to see Miss Garrett for a moment."

"She's not in," muttered Catherine.

Lee could hear Gail's voice behind the closed door of the living-room.
He pushed past Catherine. After all, he had known Gail Garrett for
fifteen years.

"It won't do you no good!" complained Catherine. "She won't see you. She
won't see nobody!"

"She is seeing somebody now," said Lee.

"It's Mr. Bittner from the theatre."

Lee seated himself in the foyer. "I will wait until she is free."

Catherine, wringing her hands together, went away through a service
door.

Lee heard the rumble of a man's voice behind the living-room door. The
words were indistinguishable. Then Gail's voice, shrill and strident: "I
don't care! I won't appear. I won't! I won't! I won't, do you hear? All
right, put a notice in the paper; return the money. Don't you think I
have any feelings?"

Another rumble. "Get out!" screamed Gail with a startling addition of
profanity. "You're driving me mad! Get out! Get out, you fool! Close the
show. I will never act again! Never! Never! I'm through!"

Little Solon Bittner, Gail Garrett's producer, came out of the
living-room very red in the face. The door slammed behind him. The two
men nodded to each other; Bittner said to Lee with a desperate air: "She
refuses to go on to-night. She wants me to close the show. You are her
friend. Try to get her to listen to reason."

"Give her a little time, Bittner," said Lee. "She's had a terrible
shock."

"But if Miss Garrett is unable to go on because Gavin Dordress shoots
himself, it will make a scandal. It will injure her."

Lee shrugged.

The little man went on out waving his hands.

Lee knocked on the living-room door. "Gail, it's me. Lee Mappin."

"Go away!" answered a strangled voice.

"Sorry, I have to talk to you. It's imperative."

"Go away!"

Lee opened the door and walked in. The great beautiful room decorated in
the style of Louis Seize by a master, was all in disorder. One of the
gilt chairs was overthrown; clothes, pillows, torn papers were scattered
about. Gail, wearing an elaborate negligee, sat crouched in a chair bent
almost double as if in physical pain. In her hands she had a
handkerchief that she was slowly tearing into shreds. Her face was
ravaged-by grief, rage, fear; it was impossible to tell which; perhaps
all three. She looked terrible and she didn't care. "Get out!" she said
sullenly, with scarcely a glance at Lee. "I told you not to come in.
Have I no privacy in my own home? Can't I ever be left alone?"

"I'm sorry," said Lee, "but you must listen to me for a few moments." He
sat down.

She sprang up in a rage. "Must? Must? I'm not accustomed to that sort of
talk and I'm not going to take it from you! Leave my rooms or I'll
telephone to the office and have you put out!"

Lee faced her out. "You're only making a show of yourself," he said
calmly. "If you will stop to think, you must realise that I have always
been your friend, that I was Gavin's friend . . ."

She heard only one word of this. Clapping her hands to her head she
began to pace the long room with uneven steps. She had neglected to
fasten the negligee around her, and it streamed open revealing her
nightdress. "Gavin! Gavin! Gavin!" she wailed. "He's gone! Nothing can
bring him back to me. I shall never touch his hand again, nor hear the
sound of his dear voice! I cannot bear it! I will not bear it!"

Lee waited with a slightly cynical air for her to exhaust herself. She
turned on him suddenly. "You sit there as calmly as if you had come to
tea!" she cried. "You feel nothing! You are inhuman!"

"What I feel or do not feel has nothing to do with it," said Lee. "I
have work to do. There is reason to believe that Gavin did not kill
himself."

He noted that she was not surprised. She resumed her pacing. "What
difference does it make?" she mourned. "He is gone and nothing can bring
him, back to me."

"Last night you were overheard to threaten his life," said Lee.

That arrested her attention. She stopped, staring at him wildly,
pressing her face between her hands. "Overheard? By whom?"

"One of the waiters hired for the evening."

Gail sneered. "It's a lie! He can't prove it!"

"He can testify to it."

"Nobody would believe a waiter!"

"Unfortunately there were other unpleasant incidents. The scene when you
left."

"Who would dare to accuse me?" she demanded.

"My dear," said Lee dryly, "nobody is safe from an accusation."

She was intimidated by the quiet voice. She said, taking a lower tone:
"Would you accuse me of such a thing, Lee?"

He met her eyes squarely. "Certainly, if I had evidence that it was
true."

She became more conciliatory. "But Lee, everybody knows what an angry
woman is. She makes terrible threats without meaning a word of it. You
know I loved Gavin. I am shattered by his loss!" Lee said nothing. "What
did you come here for?" she asked sharply.

"To get you to tell me the truth as far as you know it. ... What did you
do when you left Gavin's last night?"

"I came home."

"Right away?"

"Just as quick as a taxi could bring me."

"Did you enter the hotel through the lobby?"

"I never use the lobby. I came in the private entrance for the tower
apartments."

"There are two elevators," said Lee. "Which one did you use? Right or
left as you face them?"

Gail's lip curled. "I suppose you are going to verify my statements by
questioning the elevator boys."

"Surely."

"All right. I came up in the left-hand elevator. And it was operated by
the one they call Vincent, one of the older employees. I hope you're
satisfied."

"Thank you," said Lee. "Did you go out again later?"

Gail bit her lip, hesitated, blurted out: "No!" Immediately she added:
"I suppose you'll question the boys about that, too."

"Naturally."

"All right," she said defiantly. "I'll save you the trouble. I did go
out again."

"Where did you go?"

"I won't tell you."

"That looks bad, Gail."

"I don't care how it looks. I was on my own private business."

"For your own sake I ask you to tell me," Lee said. "After all these
years you must know that you can trust me."

"You'll get no more out of me," she said with, tight lips.

Lee got up. "Then I'll have to find out through other sources."

"I wish you luck."

"I met Bittner outside," said Lee. "The poor fellow was in despair. Of
course, he stands to lose a fortune if you insist on his closing the
show."

"Closing the show?" said Gail sharply. "Whoever suggested such a thing?"

"You did."

"O, for God's sake!" she cried melodramatically, "why must you all take
me so literally! I'm not going to close the show. I'm a good trouper. I
shall go on as usual to-night though my heart is breaking!"

"Then you'd better telephone him," Lee suggested dryly.

Through one of the managers of the hotel who was an acquaintance. Lee
got in touch with Vincent, the elevator boy. Vincent told him that he
had taken up Miss Garrett about ten-thirty the previous night, and
almost immediately afterwards had carried her down again. She had taken
a taxi at the private door. It was a driver who regularly served the
hotel, and Vincent was able to give Lee his name. Later in the afternoon
the taxi-driver came to Lee's office and told the following story: "Miss
Gail Garrett hired me at the private door of the Conradi-Windermere
about twenty to eleven. I recognised her from pictures. She looked bad.
I thought she had been drinking. She told me to take her to-- Bayard
Street on the East Side. That's a bad neighbourhood. Near Chinatown. The
Nonpariel Social Club occupies two floors at that number. She sent me in
to ask tor a guy called "Cagey." He was there, playing pool, and I
brought him out to her ..."

"What sort of fellow?" interrupted Lee.

"He was well-named," said the taxi-driver. "Gangster, if I know
anything. A slick, smooth young guy with a wall eye. Swell dresser.
Eyetalian descent. A two-gun man by the look of him."

"Go on," said Lee.

"He leans in the back of the cab and talks to her. I can't hear much but
I makes out he's bawling her out for coming to him and leaving a
wide-open trail. Seemed funny a young East Side guy would have the face
to talk to Gail Garrett like that. I figures he must have something on
her. Well, she gets out and pays me, and I drive away leaving them
there, that's all."

"Damn!" muttered Lee. "Didn't you realise that you were on the track of
something? Didn't you watch them?"

The driver compressed his lips. "Sure, I thought it was funny, but it
was none of my business. Us hackies can't afford to get nosey. Mister.
The nosey ones just don't last." Lee gave him a tip and promised that
there would be more in it for him later if he kept his mouth shut.

Lee phoned to Stan Oberry for a report on the youth known as "Cagey "
who was a member of the Nonpariel Social Club in Bayard Street. Within a
couple of hours he was in possession of the following: "Francesco Chigi
(American pronunciation 'Cagey') known also as Frank Chigi, Cecco Chigi
and Cagey Frank. 23 years old; born at-- Mulberry Street where his
parents still live, but they have not seen him since he came out of
prison. Spent most of his boyhood in various Reform Schools and Houses
of Correction. Has served two years in Sing Sing for robbery and
assault. Is now credited with being one of Manny Peglar's 'torpedoes,'
ie., killers. Was arrested and tried last year for the murder of Goose
McAuley, member of a rival gang. Acquitted for lack of evidence. A
dangerous man. Is said to derive a good income from victimising wealthy
women. Several such are known to have fallen for his good looks. The
police say that it is useless trying to prosecute such cases. I have
verified your information that he was called out of the Nonpariel Social
Club at ten-fifty last night by a richly-dressed woman. They drove away
in a taxi. He has not been seen around his usual haunts to-day. I have
no information as to his present home. Additional report will follow."

WHEN Lee returned to the Dordress apartment the nervous Hillman said
that Mr. Mack Townley had not called on the phone. Mr. Emmett Gundy was
waiting in the sunroom. Lee went in to Emmett. No matter how poor Emmett
was he contrived to be well dressed. He would have gone without food
sooner than show himself otherwise. He was wearing the blue fur overcoat
which Lee thought silly. Lee had known him for twenty-five years, but
had not seen much of him lately. Out of doors with his hat on, Emmett
could still pass for a handsome young man. But of late his face had
taken on the sour look of one who feels that he is not appreciated. He
said the things that Lee had already listened to twenty times that day.
"What a terrible thing, Lee! Little did I think last night that I would
never see Gavin again! I can scarcely realise that he's gone. Every
moment I expect to see him come walking out of the studio. I didn't hear
of it until I went out at noon. Why didn't you send for me? Is there
anything I can do?"

Emmett had always been like that; self-centred. He couldn't get excited
about anything except what concerned himself. Lee sat down, suddenly
conscious of an immense weariness. He had had no time to indulge his own
grief. "There is nothing to do," he "aid. "It has all been taken care
of. ... But I'd like to ask you a question or two."

"Sure," said Emmett, "anything at all."

"You are one of Gavin's closest friends; first, I must tell you there is
a suspicion that he may not have killed himself."

"I'm not surprised," said Emmett. "There were ugly passions brewing here
last night . . . What evidence have you?"

"Practically none. It is chiefly Cynthia. She refuses to believe that
her father killed himself."

"That's natural enough," said Emmett. "Maybe when she gets over the
shock she'll forget her suspicions."

"Maybe."

"What did you want of me?"

"You and Louella Kip were the first ones to leave here after dinner last
night. Where did you go?"

Emmett smiled thinly. "You don't think that I . . .?"

"No! No!" said Lee wearily. "Gavin has been practically keeping me for
the last three months. It's not likely that I ..."

"Of course not. But answer the question."

"I told Gavin we were going on to another party," said Emmett. "That was
just an excuse to get away. As a matter of fact, Louella and I went
directly to my place. I had been discussing with her some changes I was
going to make in my novel, and we got out the script and went to work on
it. We got so interested in it we worked for three or four hours. It was
two o'clock before she went home."

"Where is your place?" asked Lee.

"It's a dump on East Thirty-fourth Street," said Emmett. "Number-- .
Just one room. I've been so broke lately I couldn't afford anything
better."

"Walk-up?"

"Sure."

"Did anybody see you come in, or see Louella leave?"

"I doubt it."

"Where does Louella live?"

"In a-boarding-house on Irving Place. Mrs, Cayley's."

"Thanks," said Lee.

He got up to indicate that he was finished, but Emmett lingered. "Have
you any theory as to what happened?" he asked.

"None whatever," said Lee. "I'm just working to satisfy Cynthia."

Still Emmett made no move to go. Finally he said: "I'm in a hell of a
hole, Lee. These circulating libraries are ruining us novelists. More
people are reading my novels than ever before, but my royalties are only
a third of what they were. Gavin had promised to lend me a hundred to
tide me over until I could collect my next advance. I was to see him at
five to-day. I don't know what I'll do now."

Lee thought: Always the same Emmett. He makes a touch with the air of
one conferring a favour. He drew out his cheque book. "Let me take his
place," he said.

"That certainly is good of you. Lee. I'll pay it back just as soon as I
place my novel."

When he had gone. Lee looked up Mrs. Cayley's number in the phone book.
In due course he heard Louella's gentle voice on the wire, and his face
softened; he liked Louella; everybody liked her. Her voice now was
shaken with distress. "O, Mr. Mappin, I can't tell you how dreadfully I
feel about Mr. Dordress! To have this happen so soon after we had seen
him! I didn't know him very well, but he was always so kind, so
warm-hearted, so generous, I felt as if he was one of my dearest
friends!"

There was no doubt of the genuineness of Louella's feelings. Lee said,
as if it were a matter of small concern: "There are various points in
connection with last night that I have to check up. You understand that
it's purely a formality. Where did you and Emmett go when you left
Gavin's?"

"We went direct to Emmett's place," she said quickly. "He wanted to read
me part of his new novel and ask my advice about changing it. We got
interested in it we worked over it for three hours more. It was nearly
two when I got home."

"Do you room alone?" asked Lee.

"Yes," she said in a surprised voice. "Why do you ask that?"

"Did anybody in the boarding-house see you come in?"

"O, no! At that hour it's like a house of the dead." An agitated note
came into her voice. "Why do you ask me these questions, Mr. Mappin. Is
there anything wrong? Is there .. ."

"No, indeed!" said Lee soothingly. "It's just a formality."

She did not sound altogether reassured. However, he bade her good-bye
and hung up.

Lee, looking for Mack Townley, called up his office, his home, the
Racquet Club, where he was accustomed to play handball in the afternoon;
the Federal League Club. He was said to be not at any of these places,
nor would any one tell Lee where he might be found. There could be no
doubt that Mack was deliberately keeping out of the way.

Before he was married, Mack had hung out for years at the Federal League
Club, and Lee had a hunch that he would fly back there like a homing
pigeon. He decided to take a chance on it. Putting on hat and coat
again, he had himself driven to the magnificent quarters of the Federal
League on Park Avenue.

To the boy at the desk he said off-handedly: "Mr. Townley phoned me to
come here for a conference. I'll go right up to his room."

Lee had the kind of front that impresses club servants, and the boy
never thought of questioning his statement. As he started up in the
elevator, Lee said suddenly. "There! I've forgotten the number they gave
me at the desk!"

"Whose room, sir?" asked the elevator man.

"Mr. Townley's."

"Number seventeen, sir."

Lee knocked on the door of seventeen and Mack's sullen voice answered:
"Who is it?"

Lee smiled to himself at the success of his ruse. "Lee Mappin," he said,
and went in without waiting to be bidden.

Mack Townley's heavy face was a study when he saw Lee. He was trying to
make out that he was glad to see him, but he could not control the flush
of anger. He sat relaxed and glooming in an easy chair by the window.
There was a whisky bottle on a stand within reach of his hand. "Hello!"
he growled. "I've been trying to get hold of you all day."

Lee's bland expression suggested: Not too hard. I think! He said: "I've
been trying to get hold of you, too."

Lee was shocked by the change that only eighteen hours had worked in
Mack. His face was ravaged as if by disease. The glass when he lifted it
to his lips trembled violently in his hand. "Have a drink," he growled.
"You'll find another glass in the bathroom."

"No thanks," said Lee. "You know me. I can't drink hard liquor before
dinner."

"God, Lee, this is a frightful blow to me! I can't face it!"

This sounded like something Lee had heard a short time before. These
mourners for Gavin's death thought first of themselves, it seemed. "I
got in a rage with Gavin last night," Mack went on. "I cursed him when I
left him. And then to hear that he was dead-God! It was as if I had
killed him by wishing him dead!" Mack, clenching his fist until the
knuckles whitened, pounded his knee. "God, Lee, I've been in hell all
day! I've been in hell!"

Lee regarded him speculatively. It was clear that the man was in hell,
but he wondered if Mack had given the true reason for it.

Mack squirmed under Lee's quiet gaze. "What did you want of me?" he
growled. "It seems we have been playing at cross purposes all day."

Lee's look said: The cross purposes were not mine! "I suppose everything
has come on you," muttered Mack.

"Do you want help? Is there plenty of money available?"

"O, plenty of money," said Lee.

"What is it, then?"

"Mack," said Lee, "there is a suspicion that Gavin did not kill
himself."

Mack's face flushed in a terrible manner that made it look blackish. "Is
there any evidence that he was put out of the way," he demanded harshly,
"or do you inspect me just because I cursed him last night?"

Lee faced him out. "Not much evidence," he said. "Did you read the
letter he left?"

"Yes. It was in the paper."

"It does not ring true," said Lee. "It is too general in its terms."

"Who's to say it doesn't ring true? Gavin was a queer fellow at heart."

"Certainly. Like all of us. But not queer in just that way."

"It it in his writing?"

"Yes."

"Then I don't see how you can go behind it."

"Mack," said Lee quietly, "what did you do when you left Gavin's
apartment last night?"

Mack's face turned black again. He half hoisted himself out of his
chair, then dropped back into it heavily. "I suppose you've got the
right to suspect me," he growled. ". . . After the way I talked. God
knows I had the will to kill Gavin last night . . but I didn't do it."

"Where did you go?" persisted Lee.

"Bea and I drove home to our apartment," Mack answered with a defiant
glare. "We went directly to bed. I read for a while and then I slept.
And that's that."

"What did you read?" asked Lee.

The seeming-simple question put Mack in a violent rage. "What the hell
is it to you what I read?" he shouted.

Lee shrugged.

Mack glanced at him almost with fear, and moderated his tone. "I don't
remember what I read. Some newspaper or magazine I picked up. ... I
admit I was upset. But gradually I quieted down."

"Where's Bea?" asked Lee.

Mack scowled at him. "Have you been looking for her?"

"Naturally."

Mack hesitated before he answered, drawing his hand down over his face.
It was apparent that he was almost at the limit of his endurance. When
he spoke he did not answer Lee directly. "People like us have no privacy
at all," he growled. "We live surrounded by a mob. Our so-called friends
force their way into our very bedrooms before we're up. We're spied upon
every moment by servants, reporters and God knows who all. When Bea
heard this morning what had happened she was in a state of collapse. I
have put her in a sanatorium to save her from prying eyes."

"Where?" asked Lee.

"I won't tell you that. Not even you. I promised her."

"You realise, of course, that Bea is the only one who can support the
alibi you have offered."

"All right," growled Mack, "if you want to bring a charge against me,
Bea will appear."

"I don't want to bring a charge against you," said Lee. "I want you to
give me the facts that will clear you once and for all."

"I'll satisfy you to-morrow," muttered Mack. "Just give me time to get
my grip."

Lee glanced at the whisky bottle but said nothing. "I'm not the only one
that had it in for Gavin," growled Mack.

"I'm following up every line," said Lee.

"Here's something you don't know," said Mack. "A week ago Gail Garrett
came to me to borrow a thousand dollars. I said: 'Good God, Gail!
Bittner is paying you fifteen hundred a week, and twenty-five per cent
of the net. The show is making money. Where has it all gone?' She said:
'It's my debts, Mack; they're keeping me poor.'"

"How do you figure that this connects Gail with what happened last
night?" asked Lee.

Mack said meaningly: "In this town there are guns tor hire, Lee. They
come high. Suppose Gail was getting the money together to hire a gun?"

"Did you let her have the thousand?"

"No. I have other uses for my money."

"I'll look into it," said Lee. "What day did she come to you?"

"Last Monday," said Mack, "the seventh."

Upon leaving Mack, Lee went to his office in Madison Avenue nearby, to
see if anything had come in. He found three reports waiting for him. The
first: "I picked up Joe Dietz at-- Madison Avenue and kept him under
observation until he started away at 2 pm. He took the subway to the
Bushwick section of Brooklyn where he lives. He entered a large poolroom
at-- Marcy Avenue and played pool. He was well known there. The place
was pretty full and I was able to mix among the watchers without
attracting attention to myself. The talk was all about the suicide of
Gavin Dordress. Everybody was asking Joe Dietz questions because they
knew he worked in the house. Joe was quite the hero of the hour. He
claimed to be a personal friend of Mr. Dordress' but it sounded phony to
me. He was acting mysterious, sort of letting on that it was no suicide
if the truth was known, and he, Joe, knew enough to bust the case wide
open if he wanted to speak. My opinion is, he was just running his lip,
as they say. He has the look of a loosemouth. He left the place at four
and I tailed him to his home at-- Bedford. He lives with his parents at
that address. I dropped him there and returned to the poolroom to see
what I could pick up It wasn't much. Joe is known simply as a young
waster who spends all his spare time playing pool with others of his
kind, and occasionally goes on the loose in the navy-yard section. The
only thing funny about him is, that he certainly has more money to spend
than the 18 or 20 a week he pulls down as an elevator man. "J.B."

The second report: "According to instructions I proceeded to 729 Calhoun
Street, the Bronx. It is a five-story walk-up apartment house for thirty
families. Pretty cheap rents. There is no family by the name of Hillman
living there now. The janitor told me they moved away about six weeks
ago. He didn't know their present address. I got some of their old
neighbours in talk. Hillman family consisted of father, mother and a boy
and girl of high school age. The father, a quiet man, worked long hours
and was rarely seen. His wife gave out that he was in the theatrical
business. Mrs. Hillman was not popular with the neighbours, being
considered too ritzy. Was always boasting about her rich friends. At the
time they moved she told her neighbours that they were in the money now,
and would be living in a much better style hereafter. She did not tell
anybody where they were going. On inquiring at the Post Office I found
they had left no forwarding address. When Hillman leaves his work
to-night I will tail him to his new home. "R.S."

The third report: "I ran down the driver of the taxi who carried Mr and
Mrs. Mack Townley from-- Madison Avenue to the Andorra Apartments last
night shortly before ten-thirty. His name is Dave Levine, of-- Scammell
Street. Levine told me that the couple quarrelled so loudly on the way
home that he could hear part of what they said. He was jealous; accused
his wife of being too friendly with Gavin Dordress. She threatened to
leave him. At the Andorra Mrs. Townley went straight in, but Townley,
when he had paid the driver, walked away down Park in a blind rage.
Tappan, night hallman at the Andorra, told me Townley returned at 3 am.
As Tappin put it, he looked as if he'd been through the mill. Townley,
still in a rage, left the house again about eight-forty. Two hours later
Mrs. Townley called a cab and had herself driven to Grand Central
Station. She bought a ticket to Reno, Nevada, and engaged space right
through. Her trunks were sent after her. I got next to Cobbett, the
butler at the Townley's, but he wouldn't talk. I'll try to get a line on
the other servants. "A.A."

Lee sat for a while, smoking and studying. Finally, he put the reports
in his pocket and went on to the Dordress apartment. His first thought
there was to consult the stubs in Gavin's current cheque book. He
discovered that on November 7th Gavin had issued a cheque to "G.G." for
a thousand dollars. Lee's face turned pretty grim.

LEE MAPPIN and Cynthia met in the sunroom. Under Cynthia's direction
Hillman was watering the rare ferns and tropical plants that had been
Gavin's pride. Cynthia was moving about pinching off a dead leaf here
and there, and tying up the plants that were too heavy for their stems.
At five o'clock she had insisted on letting Fanny go home. "Dad used to
do this every afternoon," she said, with a painful smile.

When Hillman had finished his job and departed, she wanted to know what
had happened. Lee hesitated. "You promised to tell me everything . .
everything!" she reminded him. "It is the only way I can have any peace
of mind."

Lee glanced into the foyer to make sure that the long-eared Hillman had
really gone, and closed the glass doors. "Various things have come to
light," he laid; "some with an ugly look, but nothing conclusive. At the
moment it is all at loose ends. None of them will tie together."

"Tell me," she said.

He did so.

Cynthia's pale face, refined by grief, turned hard. "It was Gail
Garrett," she murmured. "That's clear!"

"Keep an open mind!" Lee warned her, "until we turn up the final
positive proof."

Later, Lee said: "If you have no objections, I would like to send to my
place for a bag and sleep here for the next few nights."

"Objections? Of course not! But why. Lee?"

"I don't feel that I have got all the evidence that these rooms may
contain, and I don't like to leave the place unguarded. We can't trust
Hillman. I could pay him off and send him home, but how would I know
that he turned in all the keys? Or Joe Dietz may have secured a key to
the apartment. If I padlocked the outer door it would certainly start a
story that some dark mystery was concealed here."

"I'll stay here with you if you want me," said Cynthia.

"Very good idea," said Lee. "In your own place the reporters would
continually be ringing your phone and your door-bell. I didn't suggest
it because I thought it might be painful for you."

Cynthia looked around with her poignant smile. "No," she said. "I feel
Dad's presence in these rooms, but it doesn't hurt; it comforts me."

"Very well, that's settled," said Lee.

"I'll ask Hillman if there's any dinner," said Cynthia.

"Shall I ask Fanny to join us?" said Lee.

"If you'd like to have her."

"I have several lines out. It is possible I may be called away. I
wouldn't like you to be alone here."

"I'm not one of these tender females that have to be protected. Fanny
has given me her whole day already."

The upshot was that Lee and Cynthia dined quietly together. Each had a
burden of grief to bear, and each was comforted by the other's presence.
Neither felt obliged to talk. When the meal came to an end Lee told
Hillman he could go home as soon as he had cleaned up. Lee and Cynthia
started going over Gavin's papers in the studio. "Hadn't I better do
this first alone?" asked Lee. "We may stumble on painful things."

Cynthia shook her head. "Everything that concerns Dad is dear to me,"
she said. "I don't care what we may find."

Hillman left about eight-thirty. Half an hour later Lee was called to
the phone. It was Stan Oberry. "I'm sorry I have to report a slip-up,"
he said. "When Hillman came out of the Madison Avenue house he dived
into a taxi-cab hound westward. He had evidently been standing inside
the door watching the traffic lights and timed his exit so that he got a
cab and across Madison without delay. Schelling, my operative, says that
Hillman couldn't have seen him. Hillman was expecting to be tailed, and
took his measures accordingly. Schelling got another cab and followed,
but lost some precious time. Hillman dismissed his cab at Times Square
and ran down one of the subway entrances. Schelling followed, but lost
him in the station. That place, as you know, is like a rabbit warren.
Schelling says he is sure that Hillman merely ran down one flight of
steps and up another. Schelling got a place where he could watch both
platforms, and he did not see Hillman take a train."

"That's all right," said Lee. "Operatives are only human. Let Schelling
try to tail Hillman again tomorrow. Or, if he has any reason to believe
that Hillman spotted him, put another man on Hillman's tail."

"Okay," said Stan.

In half an hour he called Lee again. "Better luck this time," he said.
"Frank Chigi or Cagey turned up in Hester Street a while ago and has
taken his girl out to dinner. Cagey is lousy with money. He bought the
girl a fur coat that must have set him back three hundred dollars or
more. He has taken her to Andre's, a French restaurant in Park Row, and
is buying champagne. My operative, Vosper, is watching the place. What
do you want me to do? I've got a man here that I can send down to Vosper
with instructions. Do you want to question this Cagey?"

"Sure," said Lee quickly. "Maybe the champagne will loosen his tongue.
The opportunity is too good to be passed up. Who is the man you've got
there in your office?"

"Schelling."

"All right. Let Schelling go down to the door and I'll pick him up in
three minutes. He can come downtown with me, and introduce me to Vosper,
and we'll work out something together. You had better stay in your
office until you hear from me."

"Right!"

Cynthia was distressed. "No, Lee, no!" she protested. "Let Mr. Oberry do
it, or one of his men. That's their work. This man Cagey is dangerous.
He is known as a killer."

"He won't hurt me," said Lee smiling. "I shall pose as the most harmless
little gentleman that ever took a drop too much. Cagey is too important
to turn over to anybody else."

Quarter of an hour later Lee and Schelling got out of a taxi at the Park
Row entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge and walked on to Aridre's restaurant
at the corner of Frankfort Street. In this neighbourhood there are
always plenty of people about. At the top of the steps leading to the
basement restaurant they ran-into Vosper, Stan Oberry's other operative.
Lee was introduced to Vosper, and the latter said: "They're still
inside."

"Good," said Lee. "I'm going in to try to get next to them. You two men
take cover and wait for us to come out. If I am with the couple, follow
us where-ever we may go. If they won't let me go with them, you follow
them, and communicate with me when you can through Stan's office."

"Okay, Mr. Mappin."

Lee, pulling a lock of hair over his forehead, and setting his derby and
his neck-tie slightly askew, went down the steps and entered the little
restaurant with a rolling gait and an expression of great dignity.
Occasionally he hiccupped behind his hand. He represented a type that is
dear to all waiters, and the two waiters in the place hastened forward
to assist him tenderly to a seat. Lee paused, swaying on his feet, and
looked around him. It was well past the usual dinner hour and there were
only three couples left in the place. He had no difficulty in picking
out the one he wanted. Disregarding the suggestions of the waiters, he
rolled up to the next table and sat down. A menu card was thrust under
his nose. "Don't wanna eat. Wanna drink," said Lee, hiccupping. "Gimme
Black and White highball."

"Yes, sir."

It was a comely couple at the next table. Lee's seeming-drunken glance
was all over the place, but he missed no detail. The young man's trim,
muscular figure was set off by a well-cut brown suit. He wore a snowy
shirt that emphasised his smooth, swarthy skin and an orange tie from an
expensive shop. His blue-black hair glistened like steel under the
lights. He affected an absolutely dead pan. The girl, who was about his
own age, and like him of Italian extraction, was pretty in a cheap
fashion, and very smartly turned out. Her hat had an upstanding brim
that enframed her pert face like a halo. Over the back of her chair was
flung a costly leopard coat. Cagey addressed her as Clo-Clo. She was
crazy about her dangerous little boy friend, and could not hide it. He
accepted it as his due.

Lee noticed that Cagey was not drinking. Occasionally he tasted his
wine, no more. On the other hand, Clo-Clo loved it as women love
champagne. Cagey filled her glass from time to time, and already her
face was flushed and her tongue unloosed. She leaned across the table
and spoke to Cagey. Lee could read her lips. "Take a look at the comical
little guy who just come in."

Cagey glanced at Lee indifferently. His eyes had the yellow flicker of a
cat animal after feeding. Lee's drink had just been put before him. He
raised it with drunken solemnity and toasted Cagey. The young man merely
stared, but the girl was interested. "Hey, daddy, drink with me!" she
said. "Lee's line was the old fashioned drunk. " 'S a privilege," he
said, bowing to Cagey, "if the young gen'leman will permit."

Cagey's glance was contemptuous. "Sure," he said.

Lee raised his glass. "To your pretty eyes!"

Clo-Clo giggled. "Ain't he the gentleman!"

"Gen'leman enough to reco'nise a lady when I see one!" said Lee.

Clo-Clo leaned across the table to whisper to Cagey. Lee guessed that
she was saying the old guy looked like he might be carrying a roll.
Cagey shrugged. Clo-Clo said: "Come on over, Daddy!"

Thus Lee found himself sitting between them and sharing the wine. He
accepted a second glass. He and Clo-Clo made the confused noises that
pass for conversation on such occasions, while Cagey listened with a
sneer. "'S a privilege to be sitting at the table with such a smart
little lady. 'S a privilege and I 'preciate it. Deeply! I'm a man enjoys
society beauriful girl, and I don't care who knows it."

And Clo-Clo: "You're all right. Daddy. You're a gentleman. You certainly
can hand out a fancy line."

"No!" said Lee, wagging his hand. "I'm a plain-spoken man. I haven't any
line to hand out. The trouble with me is, I'm too honest. Some people
resent it."

And so on. And so on. Unfortunately for Lee, Cagey was cold sober. Sober
and watchful. Lee said: "Wassa matter, young man? You're not drinking
wine. Won't you join me drinking health this beauriful girl!" He toasted
Clo-Clo.

Cagey tasted his wine and put the glass down. "Bottoms up! Bottoms up!"
cried Lee. "She's worth' it, isn't she? Don't tell me young fellow like
you can't 'preciate such beauriful girl!"

Cagey was annoyed. His eyes flickered dangerously. "Ah, leave him be,"
said Clo-Clo to Lee. "You and me can finish the bottle. Frank's got a
job of work to-night and he don't want to . . ."

The sleepy yellow eyes suddenly blazed, and by the girl's suppressed cry
it was evident that Cagey had stamped on her foot under the table. Lee
hiccupped. "Job of work," he muttered. "Good boy! I honour the workers.
What's your line, young man?"

Cagey's lips curled. "I work for a broadcasting station trimming the
cat's whiskers."

Lee made out to be affronted. "I may be a little high," he said, "but I
know when I'm being ribbed. If I'm intruding on this pleasant company
you only have to ..."

"Ah, sit down, Daddy," said Clo-Clo. "Frank don't mean nothing by it."

"I ask him civil question and he ribs me," said Lee, aggrieved.

"I'm a printer on the Daily American," said Cagey. "I go on at eleven
o'clock. That's what Clo-Clo meant by a job of work."

Lee appeared to be satisfied. "Time for another bottle," he said.

Cagey glanced at his watch. "I got to leave you," he said, "you and
Clo-Clo can drink it."

Lee rubbed his lip. "She is beauriful girl!" he murmured.

Clo-Clo slipped her arm through his. "Say, this dump is as gay as a
funeral parlour. You come with me, Daddy, and I'll show you something."

When their waiter brought the check, Cagey coolly signified that Lee
would pay it. The three of them left the place together. On the way out
Cagey, with a hard look at Clo-Clo, whispered something to her out of
the corner of his mouth. Lee couldn't hear it, but he got her reply:
"I'll take care of him."

On the street Cagey bade them a casual good-bye and struck off across
Park Row in the direction of a subway entrance. This was not the way to
reach the American Building, of course. Lee had to let him go. However,
he saw Stan's men, Vosper and Schelling, converging on the subway
entrance from different directions.

LEE and Clo-Clo waited at the curb for a taxi. Lee suspected that the
girl, like himself, was not as tight as she was making out to be. As she
leaned against him, he was aware of her light fingers touching his
different pockets to find out where he kept his roll. As a matter of
fact, his wallet was in his breast pocket, and as his jacket was
buttoned across, it was not too easy to get at.

A cab came and Clo-Clo gave a number in Bayard Street. Lee knew this was
not where she lived. He was unable to get her to talk about Cagey. In
the cab she renewed her blandishments and Lee caught her thin wrist just
as the hand was slipping inside the lapel of his jacket. "Naughty!
Naughty!" he said with a drunken laugh. Clo-Clo screamed with laughter.

They drew up before the side door of a Chinese resort that fronted on
Mott Street. Lee paid off the taxi. He had no notion of entering this
den; but he played his hand warily, since he did not know but that
Clo-Clo might still be able to warn Cagey if Lee aroused her suspicions.
It was quite in character for Lee to turn suddenly obstinate.
"Chinatown?" he muttered, as he stood swaying on the sidewalk. "Don't
like Chinatown. It's nasty. Let's go decent place."

Clo-Clo slipped her arm through his. "Come on, Daddy," she said
cajolingly. "This is a real nice place. Only white people come here.
Would I bring you here if it wasn't nice?"

Lee stood his ground. They stood arguing it out on the sidewalk while
the Chinamen indifferently shuffled past. Lee, as a drunken man will,
suddenly changed his tune. "I'm going home. My wife's waiting for me.
She's been a good wife to me and this ain't treating her right!" He
appeared about to cry.

"Just one little drink. Daddy," urged Clo-Clo. "Then I'll let you go
home. A gentleman like you are wouldn't leave a girl flat in the
street."

"I'm going home," insisted Lee.

A block away a patrolman was standing under a street light swinging his
night-stick. Seeing the argument, he started strolling towards them.
Clo-Clo suddenly dropped Lee's arm, and cursing him in a fervent
whisper, went through the door of the saloon, and slammed it after her.

The instant she disappeared, Lee recovered his sobriety. Without waiting
for the patrolman to come up, he hastened through to the Bowery and from
a booth in a drugstore called up Stan Oberry's office. He gave Stan a
brief account of what had happened. Stan, it appeared, had not yet heard
from Schelling and Vosper. Lee gave Stan the number of his pay station,
and stood by waiting for him to call again.

In five minutes or so the call came through. Stan said: "Cagey took a
subway express to the 17710. Street station in the Bronx. Schelling says
that the train was full and Cagey didn't get on to the fact that he was
being tailed. From the subway station he proceeded on foot to Ingoldsby
Avenue. This street faces Bronx Park. Number 33 Ingoldsby is Cagey's
mark. He walked around it taking a slant from every side, then crossed
over to the Park. He is lying on a bank below the street level watching
the house. There are lights in the upstairs windows. He is up to
mischief of some sort. Schelling left Vosper watching Cagey and went to
telephone. Schelling will stand by the telephone for five minutes for
instructions. If you want to come up there he says meet him at the
corner of Ingoldsby and 179th Street. That corner is outside Cagey's
line of vision."

Lee said to Stan: "Phone Schelling that if he and Vosper are satisfied
that a serious crime is contemplated, it's up to them to prevent it.
That comes first. Meanwhile, I'll get up there as quick as I can. Subway
express is the quickest. I'll be at the meeting place in twenty-five
minutes. After you've talked to Schelling, find out from the telephone
company who lives at 33 Ingoldsby Avenue. Use my name."

Lee met Schelling at the corner of two empty streets. It was one of the
pleasanter neighbourhoods of the Bronx, removed from the crowded blocks
of flats. Across the road stretched the dark expanse of Bronx Park with
street lamps at intervals. "Anything new?" asked Lee. "No," said
Schelling. "When I left Cagey was still watching the house. Waiting for
the lights to go out."

He led Lee across into the Park, which sloped down from the street
level. For a few hundred feet they followed one of the footpaths which
ran parallel with the street above. The other side of the street was
lined with a row of semi-detached suburban houses. It was not yet
midnight, and there was still a few couples sitting on the park benches,
or strolling along. Watching his chance, Schelling pulled Lee behind a
clump of shrubbery at a moment when they were unobserved. From this dump
they gained another, nearer to the street fence, and so came to the spot
where Schelling had left his mate on watch. "Vosper's gone!" he
whispered.

A moment later they discovered him lying in the spot where Cagey had
been.

"Cagey's just gone across the road," Vosper whispered. "He sneaked
around behind Thirty-three. The lights have gone out."

"This lad's line is more likely to be murder than robbery," said Lee.
"Quick! we must divide here. Schelling, you go in search of a policeman.
Vosper, you sneak back under the fence and cut across the street below,
where he can't see you. I'll go the other way. Work back under the rear
walls of the houses and we'll meet at the back door of Thirty-three!"

Lee ran along under the fence for a hundred feet, then made his way
across the street and between two of the houses opposite. He thought:
For an amateur this is getting too close to crime. The backyards had
been thrown into a community garden; there were no fences. A certain
amount of light from the street struck in between each pair of houses.
Lee crept back along a garden path towards Thirty-three. As he
approached the house, he sensed Vosper coming from the other direction.

There was a little platform at each kitchen door and on the platform of
Thirty-three rose a dark object which might have been a garbage can. But
certain movements betrayed it. It was Cagey squatting down, apparently
working at the lock of the kitchen door. As Lee drew closer the door
opened. Cagey stood up and took a swift survey of the garden while Lee
flattened himself against the wall. Cagey entered the house, leaving the
door open.

Lee and Vosper ran silently for the steps. Lee got there first. "Watch
out! Watch out!" Vosper whispered urgently, but Lee, disregarding the
warning, sprang up the steps and ran into the kitchen. "There's a robber
in the house!" he called out. "Turn on lights!"

They heard a thump, as of somebody leaping out of bed upstairs, then
silence in the dark house. Somewhere near, they knew. Cagey was
crouching, breathing fast. The plan of the little house was apparent at
a glance. Lee and Vosper were in the kitchen. As they faced the front,
there was a swing door into the dining room to the left and a door into
the hall to the right. This door stood open. Looking through the hall
they could see the street lights through the panes of the front door.
Lee and Vosper waited, one on each side of the hall door. Vosper had a
gun in his hand.

Upstairs a switch clicked, and the lower hall was flooded with light.
They saw the natty figure of Cagey crouching near the foot of the
stairs. His dark face was like a wax mask, only the eyes alive. Holding
his gun poised, his eyes darted this way and that, but he could find
nothing to shoot at. He backed to the front door. "Lend me your gun,"
whispered Lee to Vosper. The gun was shoved into his hand, and he
slipped noiselessly through the swing door into the dining-room. There
was an arched opening between dining-room and living-room, and on the
right of the living-room, another arch into the hall. By creeping around
the wall. Lee got within ten feet of Cagey; near enough to see the young
man's breast rising and falling with his panting breath. Cagey with his
free hand was feeling behind him for the lock of the front door. Lee
said: "Drop your gun! I have you covered." Instead of obeying, Cagey
dived for the stairs, and started scrambling up on all fours. Lee could
not shoot because of the intervening banisters. A gun barked from the
head of the stairs. Cagey rose to his full height with his arms flung
above his head. He crashed over backwards and slid to the foot, where he
lay huddled with blood running down his face and on to the gay orange
tie. He was dead. His gun had flown out of his hand. Lee walked out, and
picking it up stood looking down at him. Vosper joined him from the
kitchen. "A handsome lad," muttered Lee. "Too bad he couldn't have been
used for a better purpose."

Hearing a sound from the top of the stairs, he looked up. He saw a
grey-faced man in pyjamas with a gun hanging down from his shaking hand.
It was George Hillman. The two men stared at each other. Lee, who was
fond of saying that nothing could surprise him, was, for once, brought
up all standing. Hillman gasped out: "Mr. Mappin . . how did you get
here?"

"What are you doing here?" said Lee.

"I live here, sir."

Lee looked around at the expensively furnished rooms with a grim
expression. He indicated the body at his feet. "Do you know this man?"

"No, sir! No, sir!" protested Hillman breathlessly. "I never saw him
before. He is just a robber, a common robber. He broke into my house; he
had a gun in his hand; I had a right to shoot him."

"Surely," said Lee. "Come down and look at him closer."

Hillman slowly descended the stairs. It sickened him to look at the
corpse. "I never saw him before! I swear it!"

"You were expecting some such attack?"

"No, sir! No, sir! Why should anybody attack me?"

"That's what I want to know . . . Why the gun?"

"I'm a timid man, sir. I always keep a gun handy."

"Why did he choose this house instead of one of the others? What have
you of special value that he was after?"

"Nothing, sir, nothing! You can search the place and see for yourself."
They heard steps on the porch outside and there was a heavy pounding on
the front door. It was Schelling bringing a policeman. Soon afterwards
two more officers arrived in a radio car. The neighbours in various
states of undress, gathered on the porch peeping through the windows
with inquisitive and terrified eyes.

The body was removed to the police station, and the whole party
accompanied it. This was very awkward for Lee, who dreaded the exposure
of a scandal that would involve Gavin Dordress. Lee said that he was on
his way to see Hillman about a matter concerning his late master's
affairs. He had seen the dead man acting suspiciously and had called on
two strangers (Vosper and Schelling) for aid. Vosper and Schelling lied
as to the nature of their occupations. Hillman was only too glad to
support this story. He produced a licence to carry a gun. Lee noted that
it was dated a month before. The affair was treated as a simple
burglary. The butler was allowed to go on his own recognisance. Indeed,
the police lieutenant congratulated him on his presence of mind. The
dead man was removed to the Morgue to await identification.

When they left the police station Lee sent Vosper and Schelling home,
and took Hillman into a saloon on Fordham Avenue. Lee had reason to
believe that Mrs. Hillman wore the trousers of the family, and he wanted
to question the husband alone. Hillman was obviously dreading it. He
swallowed a shot of whisky to give him courage. "Hillman," began Lee,
"where did you get the money to live in such style?"

"My wife and I operate a restaurant," Hillman answered nervously. "I
told you that, Mr. Mappin."

"No, you didn't," said Lee. "You told me you had paid something down on
a restaurant, and still required a large sum to conclude the deal."

"We took possession when I made the first payment. I just omitted to
state that. I wasn't trying to deceive you, Mr. Mappin."

"An important omission," said Lee. "Where did you get the money to make
the first payment?"

"It was the savings of a lifetime, Mr. Mappin. I have been putting by
money since I was a boy."

"How could you keep a family on a hundred and fifty a month and put by
money?"

"My wife helped me. She works, too."

In Lee's report on the Hillman's there had been no mention that Mrs.
Hillman was a wage-earner. "How much did you pay down?" asked Lee.

"Only one thousand dollars, sir. We are paying off the balance out of
earnings."

"Where is this restaurant?"

"On Jerome Park Avenue, Mr. Mappin. It is called Harvest's."

"Who did you buy it from?"

"Howard Harvest, sir. His address is-- Webster Avenue."

"Why did you never tell Mr. Dordress that you were engaging in
business?"

"Why, sir, I was afraid Mr. Dordress might resent it because I was
getting ready to leave him. I had been working for him nine years, you
see."

"Well, why didn't you leave him?"

"I just couldn't bring myself to it, Mr. Mappin. After nine years it was
like second nature to me to be waiting on Mr. Dordress."

"Never mind the nine years," said Lee. "Tell me plainly why, when you
were in receipt of a good income from the restaurant, you were willing
to go on slaving for twelve or fourteen hours a day for a hundred and
fifty a month."

"I wasn't sure we could make a go of the restaurant," said Hillman
faintly.

"Have you been stealing from Mr. Dordress?" asked Lee bluntly. "No, sir!
No, sir!" protested Hillman. "How can you say such a thing, Mr. Mappin?"

"If you have been guilty of any minor crimes you had better say so."

"Mr. Mappin, I haven't committed any crimes," wailed Hillman. "How can
you think such things of me?"

"People don't get rich so quick, honestly," said Lee. "I'll tell you why
you were willing to go on working for Mr. Dordress. You were afraid that
if he learned how well fixed you were, he would take you out of his
will."

"Well, yes, that's a fact," admitted Hillman. "It was natural, wasn't
it?"

Lee's forefinger shot out. "Then you did know that you were down in Mr.
Dordress' will."

Hillman's face turned ashy when he perceived the slip he had made. "I
didn't so to speak know it," he stammered. "I only hoped that Mr.
Dordress would remember me."

"Mr. Dordress was a younger man than you. In the natural course of
things he would have outlived you." Hillman was silent. "Were you going
to work on for him indefinitely on the chance of collecting your
legacy?"

"I just didn't think the thing through, Mr. Mappin."

"I believe that you did think it through. I believe that you determined
to make sure of your legacy before you gave up your job."

"No, sir! No, sir! No, sir!" cried Hillman frantically. "Such a thought
never entered my head, Mr. Mappin! I won't touch a cent of the money
now! I don't need it, anyhow. I have my restaurant."

"The restaurant is entirely yours, then?"

"Yes ... No ... It will be! It will be!"

Lee studied the abject creature with a frown. It came to him that he
never would be able to break him down. The butler might stutter and turn
pale and weep, but he was borne up by some secret assurance. Perhaps
because he knew Lee had no direct evidence against him. There had been
no witness to his crime. But Lee was far from giving up as yet.
"Hillman," he said softly, "was the money for the restaurant or any part
of it supplied by Miss Garrett?"

By Hillman's glance of panic Lee knew he had made a strike. "No, sir!
No, sir! What for should Miss Garrett advance me money?"

"I'm asking you."

"No, sir! Miss Garrett hasn't no use for me at all, Mr. Mappin. None
whatever! Specially lately since I had orders from Mr. Dordress not to
admit her to the apartment if he was there alone. I've had to take the
rough side of Miss Garrett's tongue, sir. You have only, to ask her what
she thinks of me and you'll get an earful."

Lee studied him. He saw that he had Hillman badly worried, and
determined to leave him in that condition. He got up saying: "Are you
coming to work to-morrow?"

"Why, certainly, Mr. Mappin. That is, if you want me."

"I want you."

"Then I'll be there, sir."

On his way home Lee telephoned Stan Oberry to assign a man to watch
Hillman. "I don't think he's going to run for it, he's got too much at
stake. However, let's not take any chances."

WHEN Lee got back to the Madison Avenue house he found Joe Dietz on duty
in the elevator. "Joe," he said, "you have been shooting off your mouth
too much about the death of Mr. Dordress."

"No, sir!" protested Joe. "I never said a word!"

"Don't lie to me," said Lee. "I know." Joe stared as if Lee had
exhibited supernatural powers.

Up in the penthouse, Cynthia, hearing the door dose, came out of her
room in dressing-gown and slippers to meet him. Lee scolded her
affectionately. She had a report that had been sent around from Stan
Obeny's office earlier in the night, and she was curious to learn the
contents. Lee read it aloud. "This morning when I was working out the
lay of the Townley apartment in the Andorra, I saw that Mr and Mrs.
Townley's bedroom had two windows on the Sixty-sixth Street side of the
building, and a third window opening on a court. I noticed from the
street that this third window was open. It was faced by a similar window
across the court also open, and this gave me the idea that the quarrel
between the Townleys might have been overheard by their neighbours
across the court. I located the apartment that the window belonged to,
and presented myself there in the guise of a canvasser.

"The master and mistress were out and the maid had time on her hands.
She was willing to gossip. She doesn't know the name of the people
across the court. She didn't hear their quarrel last night because she
sleeps at the other end of the apartment. This morning she was attracted
into her mistress's bedroom by hearing a woman scream across the court.
She said a woman was having hysterics over there; kept crying out that
somebody was dead and she would never see him again. There was a man in
the room who was in a rage because the woman was carrying on so. The
maid couldn't distinguish what he said, but she distinctly heard the
woman cry out: 'You killed him! You killed him! You murderer!'
Apparently the man then left the room, and the woman continued to have
hysterics on the bed. I haven't been able to approach any of the Townley
servants. Tappan, night doorman at the Andorra, who gave me information
this morning, has disappeared. I believe that Townley is taking care of
him to keep him from talking further. A. A."

"Very questionable evidence," said Lee with a shrug. "It bears no
relation to what happened-to-night. Gavin cannot have been killed by two
different people." He told her of the night's events. "Another killing!"
murmured Cynthia. "This man was no loss," said Lee coolly. "I am sorry
his mouth was stopped only because he would have made a valuable
witness."

Lee made hot drinks for Cynthia and himself to induce sleep. While they
sipped them in the studio he went over his case. "Take Hillman. He had
free access to Gavin. He had the best opportunity. Yet he is such a
timid fellow, it is difficult to believe that he could have killed a man
in cold blood."

"You saw him kill a man to-night," said Cynthia.

"That was different. That man was advancing on him with a drawn gun."

"Hillman has been bought."

"Obviously. In addition to the temptation furnished by his own legacy,
he has been receiving large sums from some sources. Gail Garrett is
indicated. The restaurant apparently has been paid for. Working on this
basis, we must assume that Gail hired Hillman to do the thing, and that
after it was done, either because his demands were too exorbitant, or
simply because he knew too much, she took steps to have him put out of
the way."

"That is how it looks to me," said Cynthia.

"Still I am not satisfied that it was Hillman who fired the fatal shot,"
said Lee.

"Why?"

"He has told us that he went home a few minutes after you left. The
elevator boy was vague as to the exact time, but put it at half an hour.
It would have taken an hour or more to destroy the play in that careful
manner. By the way, it is a strange thing that only the title of the
play was left unconsumed. It suggests that the murderer wished us to
know what he had destroyed."

"That would be a characteristic gesture of Gall's," murmured Cynthia.
"That may be right."

"If it wasn't Hillman who fired the shot, who was it?"

"The professional killer. In that case Hillman admitted him earlier in
the evening and left him in the apartment to do his work. Afterwards
Cagey could have gone down the stairs, and let himself out of the
building without disturbing the sleeping elevator boy."

Cynthia thought this over. "But, Lee," she objected, "if Dad was in the
studio all the time, how could Cagey have got his gun?"

"Hillman could have taken it when Gavin was out of the room and handed
it to Cagey."

"No fingerprints."

"They would wear gloves."

Cynthia nodded. "Yes, that hangs together."

"But we lack definite proof," said Lee. "We must keep all other
possibilities in mind until the proof is forthcoming . . . There is a
thing in Hillman's favour that sticks in my mind."

"What's that?"

"You have seen how timid he is, and how incapable of brazening things
out. Yet Joe Dietz told me that when Hillman came to work early this
morning he looked just the same as usual; he did not seem to be
disturbed about anything."

"Maybe Joe Dietz is Hillman's accomplice."

"I don't think so. Because when I was questioning Hillman to-day he
suggested that Joe Dietz might be implicated. He would not have done
that in the case of an accomplice."

"What are the other possibilities you have in mind?"

"There is Joe Dietz. I have not by any means eliminated him. We know
that he is a worthless character who spends more money than he earns
honestly. Gavin, who was kind to everybody, had befriended the boy, and
Joe had visited the apartment. If Joe had come to the door last night
Gavin would no doubt have admitted him. This is all surmise, of course.
It is hard to imagine such a weedy youth committing so hold a crime. And
Joe could hardly have been clever enough to have found Gavin's letter,
and to have planted it to cover his crime. More likely the elevator boy
was merely an accessory; that he brought somebody else up to the
penthouse last night, and has been well paid to keep his mouth shut."

"Who?" asked Cynthia very low.

"Figure it out for yourself. Emmett Gundy, for instance."

"Emmett has an alibi."

"Quite so," said Lee dryly, "but in the business of investigating crime
you learn to distrust alibis. There is nothing to support Emmett's alibi
but the word of Miss Kip."

"You surely don't think that Louella could have had a hand in . . ."

"In murder?" put in Lee. "Certainly not. But she is a soft and gentle
woman, and completely infatuated with Emmett. He may have forced her to
lie for him."

"He had no motive," said Cynthia.

"None that we know of," agreed Lee, " unless the sheer hatred of an
envious and disappointed man for one who had out-stripped him was a
sufficient motive."

"Dad has been supporting him."

"All right. Put it down in Emmett's favour that he had no known motive.
Next we must consider Siebert Ackroyd."

Cynthia flushed painfully. "Lee, it could not have been Siebert," she
murmured. "It could not have been!"

"How do you know?"

"My heart tells me so."

"My dear, the heart is not a reliable guide in such matters. I must go
by logic."

"What have you got against Siebert?"

"He is only a possibility. He was raging against Gavin last night, and
there are three hours of his time that he can't account for. That's
all."

"Mack Townley is a much more likely person."

"True. Mack is a man of unbridled passions. He made threats against
Gavin. He was obviously beside himself with rage last night. What is
more, he lied to me about his movements after leaving here. To-day his
actions and his appearance were highly suspicious."

"There is also his wife's accusation."

"I don't attach much weight to that. A hysterical woman is capable of
making such a charge without any evidence. I believe she was surmising
just as we are."

"One can surmise the truth, Lee."

"Surely. But it's not evidence."

"Mack Townley is rich. He can suppress unfavourable evidence and produce
false evidence in his own favour."

"I have it in mind, my dear."

When he undressed for bed, sleep was still far from Lee's eyes. He was
in Gavin's bare bedroom-Gavin favoured a Spartan simplicity in his
sleeping arrangements, and a sense of his lost friend was strong with
Lee; Gavin's droll smile; his rather slow and quizzical manner of
speaking; the suggestion of sadness in his eyes though he was the most
serene of men, and quick to laughter. Lee remembered his first sight of
Gavin, a long-legged youth on the campus, with eyes that saw what they
looked at. For Lee, Gavin had never changed; always the youth of twenty.

Realising that he must have some sleep in order to cope with the next
day's work, Lee swallowed one of the barbital tablets that he kept by
him for such an emergency. He got into bed and slowly sank into
unconsciousness.

He found himself struggling from under a load of sleep with terror in
his heart. Something dreadful had penetrated to his consciousness. He
threw his legs out of bed and thrust his feet in slippers. He ran out of
his room and across the hall that separated him from Cynthia's room. Her
door was open. He felt for the light switch and turned it. Her bed was
empty. Running blindly through the corridor, he stumbled over her body
lying on the floor of the foyer. He found the lights and, dropping
beside her, gathered her in his arms.

She had fainted. She came to her senses in his arms and clung to him
like a child. "O, Lee! There was somebody here!"

"Perhaps you had a dream," he said soothingly.

"No, Lee! I heard him. And then I saw him. I called for you, and then
like a fool I fainted. I ought to have caught him and held him."

"Where was he?"

Cynthia pointed to the sunroom.

Lee, half believing it to be a hallucination, turned on lights in the
sunroom. There lay a flowerpot smashed on the tile floor; the garden
door was standing open. "I had left my door open," Cynthia went on; "I
heard something out in the middle of the apartment."

"Why didn't you call me then?"

"I thought I might be mistaken. I went out into the foyer. He was in the
studio then. I could see the faint reflections of a flashlight in there.
He came out. He had turned out his light. Just a shadow of a man. It was
then that I called you. He dashed out through the sunroom. That's all I
can remember."

Returning to his room. Lee threw on a warm dressing-gown, and snatched
up gun and flashlight. Cynthia insisted on accompanying him into the
garden, and he could not prevent her. The key to the garden door was
hanging in its usual place beside the doorframe. There was a second key
sticking in the lock of the door. Lee took the key and closed the door
so that the intruder could not slip back into the apartment while he was
looking for him in the garden.

Ten minutes search satisfied him that the man was no longer there.
"Where could he have gone?" murmured Cynthia. "We are two hundred feet
above the street."

"Either he flew away," said Lee dryly, "or he climbed the wall to the
adjoining building. I favour the latter explanation."

They returned to the apartment. Any further sleep that night was out of
the question. "Could it have been Hillman?" suggested Cynthia.

"Hillman had the run of the apartment all day, and he's coming back in
the morning. Why should he sneak in in the middle of the night?"

"No, it was not Hillman," she said. "A heavy, hulking figure, with
stooped shoulders and a strange skull cap pulled close over his head."
She shivered. "Somewhere I have seen such a figure, but I can't remember
... I can't remember."

"What kind of a building is it next door?" said Lee. "I never happened
to notice."

"An office building."

"It's four o'clock. Such a building would be locked up at this hour. I
don't see how anybody could get in."

"Then what do you think?"

"I think that he had been waiting out in the garden all evening for a
chance to come in. Perhaps he didn't know that anybody would be sleeping
in the apartment to-night until he got on the roof and saw the lights."

Cynthia shivered. "He's been watching me all evening then."

"My first job is to discover what he was after," said Lee. "Yesterday I
made a complete mental inventory of the contents of the studio. I ought
to be able to tell if anything has been taken."

Like an experienced hound Lee nosed about the big room, subjecting every
inch of it to examination, while Cynthia huddled in an easy-chair
watching him. The drawers of the big desk, the cupboards, the
bookshelves, he omitted nothing. It was full daylight before he came to
an end, and threw up his hands in defeat. "Nothing is missing. So far as
I can tell everything in the room is exactly as it was yesterday."

Soon afterwards Hillman arrived. He was calmer today; better able to
meet their eyes. It was impossible to believe that he could have been
the early morning intruder.

When they had eaten breakfast Lee obstinately renewed his search of the
studio. "The explanation must be here," he insisted.

In the end he came to Cynthia with a little ornamental wooden box in his
hand. It contained a set of carved ivory chessmen. "You have found
something?" she said anxiously. "Yes," he said, "but it only deepens the
mystery. Gavin's set of chessmen has been taken away and another left in
its place. The thief put the new ones in the old box. That's why I
didn't discover the substitution before."

"The clicking of the pieces was the first sound that I heard," murmured
Cynthia.

"These are similar to the others," Lee went on, "but the design of each
piece is a little different. Notice that the castle is shorter and
thicker through; the head of the knight more skilfully carved. I should
never have discovered the substitution had I not been so familiar with
the old set."

"It was the murderer!"

"So it would seem. Nobody else would have taken such a risk."

"What could he have wanted them for?"

"God knows, my dear! There is no mystery about Gavin's chessmen. He's
had the set for twenty-five years. I remember well when he bought it. It
cost fifteen dollars. That was a big sum for a college boy to lay out.
Gavin had become crazy about the game. He undertook to teach me, but I
had not patience enough to make a good player. We will have to find the
missing chessmen before we can hope to discover why they were taken."

WHEN Hillman next had occasion to enter the studio, the chessmen were
lying exposed on a table. Cynthia watched the servant's face. "Hillman,
Mr. Dordress was a great chess-player, wasn't he?" asked Lee.

"Yes, sir," he answered readily. "Mr. Dordress was very partial to the
game."

"With whom did he play?"

"Lately he had been complaining that he had nobody to play with, sir."

"And before that?"

"He used to play with Mr. Siebert Ackroyd, sir."

Cynthia paled. "Mr. Ackroyd used to drop in evenings," Hillman went on.
"Mr. Dordress said he had the makings of an A1 player. But he hasn't
been for some time past."

"Anybody else?" asked Lee.

"Miss Garrett, sir. Mr. Dordress taught her the game several years ago.
I fancy she wasn't a very good player. Mr. Dordress would give her a
handicap and then beat her. They used to play in the late afternoons or
on Sunday evenings."

"Anybody else?"

"Not that I can recollect, sir."

"How about Mr. Gundy?"

"I don't know. I have never seen him play with Mr. Dordress."

"Or Mr. Townley?"

"No, sir. Mr. Townley was too full of business. He never dropped it just
to pass the time with Mr. Dnrdrcss. He always had business."

"Are these the chessmen that Mr. Dordress ordinarily played with?" asked
Lee.

"Why yes, sir. He never owned but the one set."

"All right, thank you, Hillman. That's all now."

The servant cast a glance of sharp curiosity at the little ivory
figures. "Excuse me, sir, but have you learned anything from these?"

"Nothing," said Lee?"

When he had gone out Cynthia said: "The chessmen meant nothing to him."

"That is obvious," said Lee.

"O, dear!" she complained, "everything we have learned to-day seems to
cancel out everything we learned yesterday. Can you see any light?"

"A crack or two," he answered, smiling. "It is possible that the
principal in this affair employed several agents to carry out his plan
..."

"Or her plan," murmured Cynthia. "It has already been suggested that
there were two such agents; there may have been more. Perhaps no one of
these agents was informed of what the others were up to."

They went out into the roof garden to see what further clues daylight
might reveal. A dull rumble of traffic arose from the street below,
punctuated by the occasional squawk of a motor horn. Except for the
evergreen hedges the garden wore the bleak dress of winter. The gravel
paths revealed no trace of footsteps. In a broad box of earth outside
the window of Cynthia's room, Lee found the print of a big hand. It had
been encased in a glove. "He was leaning forward here to peep between
the slats of the Venetian blinds," said Lee.

Cynthia shivered.

Lee covered the hand-print. Later in the day he took a cast of it with
plaster of paris. In order to reach the box the man had had to force his
way through the growing evergreens. Lee, examining them through a
magnifying glass, carefully collected some woollen hairs clinging to the
spiny foliage.

All along the back of the garden ran the wall of the adjoining building,
some fifteen feet higher than the garden. Gavin had covered it with a
wooden lattice over which vines might be trained in summer. Lee said the
man could not have climbed down and climbed back by the lattice. The
interstices were too small to provide a toe hold. "Very likely he used a
rope ladder," said Lee. "The supports of the tank on the roof next door
would provide a convenient place to tie his ladder." Lee was presently
able to point out the exact spot where the man had come down and gone
back again. The painted lattice showed scuff marks. "The rope ladder,"
said Lee, "would have a tendency to throw him against the lattice,
especially if he was in a hurry."

Back in the house, Lee put the hairs he had picked up under a
microscope. After examination he said: "It was a cheap material that
contained wool and jute. Light brown or yellowish in colour."

"A yellow overcoat!" murmured Cynthia, staring. "Now I remember, Lee. As
I stood on the corner Sunday night a man wearing a strange-looking
yellow overcoat passed me. He had a leather helmet drawn over his head.
. . . Lee! . . . Lee! That was the man who broke in here last night.
That was my father's murderer I ... O, God! Lee, he must have been on
his way to kill him then!"

"Would you know him if you saw him?"

"O, Heavens, yes! Every detail of his appearance seems to be etched on
my brain!"

Lee, feeling that he had reached a point where he required the
assistance of the police, drove down to Headquarters to talk to
Inspector Loasby, the chief of the detective force. Cynthia went to her
work at the New York Hospital. Lee's relations with the police were
peculiar. On several occasions be had given Loasby valuable help, and
the latter was presumably grateful. When a case broke. Lee had always
retired gracefully and let Loasby take the credit. The Inspector could
not understand Lee's desire to be known as an author rather than a
detective. Privately, he considered Lee a bit cracked.

Loasby was a handsome man and a first-rate detective officer in the
modern scientific manner. Perhaps he lacked something of imagination,
but Lee considered that just as well in a public official. At
Headquarters Lee found him up to his neck in the detail of the day's
business, but Loasby, knowing that Lee was no trifler, put everything
aside to listen to his story. Lee did not feel that it was incumbent on
him to tell Loasby all he surmised, but he gave him the facts. When he
came to an end the Inspector's jaw was hanging down. "Good God, Mappin,
there's dynamite in this case! Gavin Dordress, Gail Garrett, Mack
Townley, Bea Ellerman. What a bunch of headliners! We'll have to be
damn' careful before we move!"

"Are you telling me?" said Lee.

Loasby agreed that it would be better for the police to take no official
cognizance of the case until Lee had secured more evidence. In the
meantime Loasby put the resources of the department at Lee's disposal,
and Lee, on his part, agreed to keep the Inspector fully informed.

Lee's first request was for a search to be made for the missing set of
chessmen. He described the ivory figures and asked (a) that the catch
basins of the sewers in the vicinity of Gavin Dordress' apartment be
cleaned out; (b) that the employees of the Department of Sanitation be
instructed to watch for the chessmen in all receptacles of rubbish and
garbage that were put out to be emptied; (c) that a description of the
chessmen be broadcast to all policemen on patrol, and that the pawnshops
be searched. Lee also handed to the Inspector the key he had found in
the garden door of the penthouse. It was to be photographed and a
circular printed and sent to every locksmith in the city with the object
of learning who had made such a key.

Returning up-town, Lee visited the tall, narrow office building next
door to the apartment house. Before making his presence known, he went
up to the top floor, where he found a flight of stairs leading up. At
the top was a door opening on the roof, furnished with an ordinary
spring lock. By pressing down the catch on the lock, anybody could go
out on the roof and return whenever he had a mind to. The roof offered
no distinctive features. On the base of the iron standard supporting the
water tank, Lee could distinguish marks where a rope or rope ladder had
been tied.

He looked up the Superintendent of the building. Posing as a private
detective, Lee said: "The apartment of the late Mr. Dordress was entered
last night. Apparently the thief lowered himself from the roof of your
building."

"What did he get?"

"Nothing. He was scared off."

The Superintendent told Lee that his building was kept open until 11.30
to suit the convenience of a School of Telegraphy on the top floor,
which conducted classes every night of the week. There were two
sessions: 7 to 9 and 9 to 11. The School was closed about 11.30 and the
elevator man went home at the same time. Thereafter the outer door of
the building was locked. There was a watchman who was required to visit
every floor of the building four times between midnight and 8 am.

The Superintendent admitted that it would be possible for anybody who
was familiar with the movements of the watchman to slip past him on his
rounds. In fact, the watchman had reported on Monday morning, and again
this morning (Tuesday), that he had found the front door of the building
unlocked after he had locked it. For the coming night, a second man had
been engaged to sit in the entrance hall while the other was making his
rounds. "He's hardly likely to come back again," said Lee dryly. "Best
to say nothing about this for the present."

"You bet your life," said the Superintendent. "I don't want any
unfavourable publicity for my building."

The night elevator boy came on duty in the middle of the afternoon, and
Lee returned later, to talk to him. He was a keen boy, immediately
interested when Lee questioned him. Feeling his way from question to
question, Lee finally got this story out of him. "Last Wednesday or
Thursday, I can't be sure, I carried a funny-looking guy up to the
Telegraph School. I marked him particular, he was such a dumb,
foreign-looking cluck; most of the students up there are smart young
American fellows. The first time he come he only stayed a few minutes
and I took him down again. He come back Sunday night about a quarter to
eleven. I told him the school would be closing in a few minutes, but he
said he only wanted to register, and there was time enough for that. So
I took him up."

"Did you bring him down again?" asked Lee.

"I didn't see him going down, but there's such a crowd when the school
lets out I might easy miss seeing somebody. But I don't think I would
have missed that funny-looking guy."

"Did you see him last night?"

"Yes. Last night he come in time for the nine o'clock session."

"Did you carry him down again?"

"No, sir. Now that you ask me, I never saw him again. I forgot about
him."

"Describe him."

"Well, he was a tall fellow and heavy-built; kind of stooped in the
shoulders; almost like he had a hump-on his back. I couldn't tell you
the colour of his eyes. He wore thick glasses that made his eyes
funny-looking. He couldn't see very good; kind of felt his way along.
Clean shaven. He was a Yiddisher. Talked broken. He had on a big
overcoat, kind of yellowish, that hung, on him like a sack. You couldn't
buy such an overcoat in this town. He musta brought it over from the
other side. And a leather helmet; come right down over his head."

"Very good description." said Lee. "What age man?"

"I couldn't tell you. Mister. He wasn't young and he wasn't old."

"Would you know him again?"

"I sure would . . . What's he wanted for, Boss?"

"Trying to break into the apartment next door... _ If you value your
job, say nothing about it."

"I get you." said the boy, grinning.

LEE returned to the apartment. At the end of the day Stan Oberry sent
around a batch of reports. There was nothing new on Mack Townley. He had
slept at the Federal League Club. In the morning he had visited his
apartment, and had then returned to the club where he had remained
hidden all day. Joe Dietz had, as usual, spent most of his day in the
poolroom. He had refused to talk about the Dordress case to-day, and had
appeared uneasy and suspicious. Gail Garrett had not left her apartment
in the Conradi-Windermere all day. Stan's operative, Vosper, armed with
a letter of introduction from Lee to the President, had visited the
Farmers and Merchants Bank where Gail kept her account. Vosper had been
furnished with some significant figures. On October 10th, Miss Garrett's
balance had stood at $18,000, and she had since made large weekly
deposits. But she had drawn out no less than $35,000, which had been
paid to her personally, in cash, $5,000 at a time; her present balance
was less than $1,000.

There was nothing on Hillman since he had been at work in the apartment
all day. As a matter of fact, Schelling, who was assigned to watch him,
had been detailed to discover what he could about the Harvest Restaurant
on Jerome Park Avenue. Schelling reported that it was a small place
doing an excellent business. Said to gross between twelve and fourteen
hundred weekly, of which the net would be in the neighbourhood, of two
hundred. It was efficiently managed by Mrs. Hillman, who spent long
hours in the place, generally leaving between one and two in the
morning. There was such a person as Howard Harvest, and Hillman had
undoubtedly bought the place from him. Hillman was said to have paid
fifteen thousand for goodwill, fixtures and lease. When Schelling
visited the address Hillman had given as Harvest's, he found that the
Harvest's had moved some weeks before, giving out that they were going
to California.

Oberry at Lee's request had sent a man by plane to Reno, Nevada, to get
a statement from Mrs. Mack Townley.

In the afternoon papers Lee read that the body of Frank Cagey or Chigi
had been identified and removed from the morgue. The account stated that
he was "lying in state" in the rooms of the Nonpariel Social Club, while
his friends prepared a gangster's funeral for him on a grand scale. Lee
was relieved to see that no connection was suggested between the death
of Gavin Dordress and the killing of the burglar in the Bronx by Gavin's
butler on the following night. The press commiserated with the
unfortunate man who had been concerned in two such tragedies.

When Cynthia came in from work, Lee laid all this before her. When she
had read the reports she said: "It is now certain that Hillman has paid
in full for his restaurant with money obtained from Gail Garrett."

"Fairly certain," agreed Lee cautiously. "I don't understand why she
paid Hillman so much since he does not seem to have taken the principal
part in the killing."

"What do you suppose she did with the other ten thousand?"

Lee shrugged. "I assume that Cagey got it."

At six o'clock a messenger came from Police Headquarters bringing the
missing set of chessmen. Loasby said that it had been pledged early that
morning in a pawnshop on Third Avenue. The description of the man who
had pawned it tallied with that furnished by the elevator boy, yellow
overcoat, stooped back and all. "Nice work!" said Lee, sitting down to
write the Inspector a note of congratulation.

Lee set up the little red and white ivory chessmen on Gavin's desk, and
studied them piece by piece, both with the naked eye and under a glass,
while Cynthia awaited the verdict. For a long time Lee was baffled;
finally, as he studied one of the little castles with its battlemented
top, an association of ideas began to work in his mind. From a drawer of
the desk he got the little sketch he had made of the bruise on Gavin's
forehead. Pressing the top of the castle in an inked pad that lay in
Gavin's drawer, he made an impression of it on the paper alongside his
own sketch. The two little pictures were identical; six tiny
parallelograms ranged in a circle.

Cynthia stared at them with widening eyes. "Lee, you are wonderful!" she
murmured. "That tells the story," said Lee. "Gavin was playing chess
with somebody at the moment he was shot. His head sank forward and
struck against this chessman. I mentioned the bruise on Gavin's forehead
to one of the reporters, and it was printed yesterday. That is what
determined the murderer to make away with the telltale piece."

"Playing chess," murmured Cynthia, ". . with whom?"

"We know of three chess-players," said Lee, grimly; "Gail Garrett, Mack
Townley and Siebert Ackroyd; there may be others. "It couldn't have been
anybody but Gail," Cynthia said sharply. "Everything points to her."

"Everything but the man in the yellow overcoat," said Lee. "We haven't
established any connection between him and Gail."

"We know that she has employed two accomplices; why not a third?"

"That remains to be proven." They heard the bell ring outside, and
Hillman presently entered to say that Mr. Ackroyd was calling. He had
asked for Miss Cynthia.

Cynthia's face was twisted with pain. "I won't see him," she said
quickly.

"Better take a look at him," Lee said to Cynthia in an undertone. "It
may destroy your suspicion or confirm it."

Cynthia, after a painful hesitation, nodded her head. "We'll come out to
him," said Lee. He gathered up the chessmen.

Siebert was agitatedly pacing the foyer. His handsome face was drawn
with anxiety. He was scarcely aware of Lee's presence. "Cyn, I had to
come," he burst out. "I can't settle to anything when you're in such
trouble. How goes it?"

Cynthia looked at him darkly. "All right," she said tonelessly. Evading
his outstretched hand, she crossed the foyer to the opening of the
corridor, and turning around, fixed him with her dark gaze. He was
standing almost on the same spot where she had first seen the man who
had entered the night before.

"What's the matter?" asked Siebert blankly.

Lee moved quickly towards the sunroom. "Come in here a moment, Siebert.
I have something to show you."

Siebert strode into the sunroom, Cynthia watching every movement. Lee
took down the key to the garden door from its hook on the door-frame and
showed it to him. "Siebert, did you ever borrow this key?"

Siebert's face showed purest surprise. "What are you getting at?" he
demanded.

"I mean for the purpose of having a duplicate made," said Lee, watching
him sternly.

Siebert flushed red with anger. "I don't understand you." Turning on his
heel, the young man demanded of Cynthia: "What does this mean?"

Lee, who did not wish to intrude on what followed, went back into the
studio. "What does this mean? What does this mean?" Siebert kept asking.

Cynthia, shrinking from him, mutely shook her head. "Why do you act so
strangely? You and Lee. It isn't possible that you suspect me of ...
Me?"

"You cursed him," she muttered.

Siebert clasped his hands to his head. "O, my God," he groaned, "haven't
I suffered enough on that account? I told you how sorry I was. It meant
nothing. It was only the anger of a moment . . . Cynthia, I have never
hidden anything from you. You must know that I am incapable of such a
thing!"

He paused, searching her face. Cynthia continued to look at him
distantly, and his face suddenly flamed with anger. "All right!" he
cried harshly. "I've given you the best I've got! Maybe you're not worth
it. There must be something the matter with you, if you can so easily
suspect the one who loves you. I reckon you're incapable of loving a
man. If you loved me, you would know that I could not do this to you!"
He strode out of the apartment.

Lee, hearing the door, came quickly back into the foyer. "Well?" he
asked.

Cynthia ran to him with failing steps,, and falling in his arms, burst
into a passion of tears. "Lee, I don't know! I don't know!" she cried.
"Sometimes I think it might have been Siebert; sometimes I am sure it
was not! Why must I be tortured so? I can't bear it!"

"Have courage," he said soothing her. "It won't be for long. We will
soon know."

CYNTHIA and Lee were seated at the dining-table. Cynthia pale, and with
dark circles under her eyes, was merely playing with her food, and Lee
couldn't eat because she couldn't. They heard the bell outside, and
Cynthia looked up apprehensively. "I dread that sound!" she murmured.

Hillman, having gone to the door, entered to say that it was Joe Dietz.
He wanted to see Mr. Mappin. He said it was important. Lee got up and
went out into the foyer followed by Cynthia. The elevator boy in his
street clothes stood there biting his lip and turning his hat
ceaselessly between his hands. Joe was not a beauty at any time and
agitation made his sharp-featured face look even more common and mean.
"Mr. Mappin, I got to talk to you! I got to talk to you!" he stammered.

Hillman was hanging around, and Lee led the way into the studio. When
the boy saw that Cynthia was coming, too, he hung back. "Mr. Mappin, I
got to see you alone."

"Has it got anything to do with what happened Sunday night?" asked Lee.

"Yes sir."

"Then she must hear it, too. Forget that she's a woman." Lee closed the
door of the studio. "What is it, Joe?"

"Mr. Mappin, I lied to you yesterday morning."

"I suspected as much," said Lee dryly. "Give me the straight dope now."

"I lied when I said there was nobody come up to Mr. Dordress' apartment
after everybody had gone. I brought up a man in the elevator."

"What man?" asked Lee sharply.

"Frank Cagey, Mr. Mappin. But I didn't know who he was then."

Lee and Cynthia looked at each other. "There was a woman come to Mr.
Dordress, too," stammered Joe.

"Who?"

"Miss Gail Garrett, sir."

Cynthia dropped suddenly into a chair as if her legs had weakened under
her. "Now I know!" she murmured.

Lee said: "Sit down, Joe. Take it slow, and tell me the whole story."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." Joe sat down on the edge of a chair, still
turning his hat. "Mr. Hillman, he was the last to leave. Miss Garrett,
she come back first. It was a good while after; about twelve, as near as
I can figure. She come back. She asked me if anybody had come to see Mr.
Dordress, and I says no, and she seemed awful glad of it. She said:
'Take me up,' and I did."

"Did Mr. Dordress let her in?" asked Lee.

"No, sir. She had her own key to the apartment."

"You're sure of that?"

"Absolutely, Mr. Mappin. She was in such a hurry she had the key in her
hand before she stepped out of the elevator, and she put it right in the
door."

"Go ahead."

"I hadn't much more than got down to the ground floor when the fellow,
he come. He was dressed so nice I never thought anything out of the way.
He said he wanted to see Mr. Dordress, and that he was expected, so I
took him up."

"Who let him in?"

"I don't know, sir. He rang the bell of the apartment. I couldn't hang
around watching. I came down in the car."

"Then what happened?"

"Well, after a while I heard a buzz from the fifteenth floor and I went
up to get them."

"How long were they in the apartment?" asked Lee. "This is important."

"I couldn't tell you exactly, Mr. Mappin. It was a good while. Not less
than half an hour, and not more than an hour, I guess."

"Go on."

"The fellow, he looked just the same as before, slick and smooth, but
the lady, she looked bad. She was all in. He had to hold her up. I took
them down in the elevator and they drove away in a taxi."

"Why did you lie about this yesterday?" asked Lee.

"Because I was scared, Mr. Mappin. In the elevator this fellow showed me
a gun and said he'd fill my belly full of lead if I ever said that he or
she had been there that night."

"Did he give you money?"

"No, sir. But she did. A hundred dollars. And promised me more if I kept
my mouth shut."

"I see," said Lee.

"I didn't care nothing about the money, sir," protested Joe. "I'm an
honest boy. Ain't I telling you the truth now? But I was scared!"

"What was it led you to tell the truth now?" asked Lee.

"I read in the paper as how Frank Cagey was shot up in the Bronx last
night. The name meant nothing to me, but his picture was in the paper
and I thought that was the guy. It said he was lying in state at--
Bayard Street and I went there on my way to work. There was a crowd
going in and out and nobody took no notice of me. I went in and looked
at him in his casket, and it was the guy. So I wasn't scared of him any
more. That's why I'm telling you."

"I see," said Lee.

"What must I do now?" asked Joe nervously. "Must I talk to the police?"

"All in good time," said Lee. "I'll tell you when ... In the meantime if
you value your own skin keep your mouth shut. This fellow Joe Cagey has
plenty of friends, remember."

Joe turned pale. "Yes, sir. Yes, sir, Mr. Mappin. You can depend upon
me, sir."

"All right, go on to your work," said Lee.

When the boy had left them. Lee and Cynthia looked at each other for a
long time without speaking. "It's all clear now," murmured Cynthia at
last. "Gail persuaded Dad to sit down to a game of chess with her, and
this murderer stole up and shot him."

"So it would seem," said Lee. His voice lacked conviction. "I don't see
why Gavin didn't take alarm when he first laid eyes on the man."

"He never laid eyes on him," said Cynthia. "Cagey only made believe to
ring the doorbell. Gail had fixed the latch of the door so that he could
go right in after the elevator had gone down."

"Maybe so," said Lee.

Cynthia reached for the telephone and began to dial a number. Lee,
divining her intention, said quickly: "Better wait! We're not sure yet!"

Cynthia looked at him in astonishment. "What more proof could you want?"

"The man in the yellow overcoat was up here too on Sunday night. Where
does he come in?"

"He was another of Gail's accomplices."

Cynthia got her connection. "Siebert," she said into the transmitter,
and her voice broke: "Siebert, can you come over here for a moment? I
have something to tell you."

Evidently Siebert could and would. Cynthia hung up. "You were too
precipitate," said Lee gravely.

"I can't help myself, Lee," she pleaded. "I wronged him in my mind!"

"What do you want me to do next?" asked Lee. "Lay the information before
the police, and ask for Gail Garrett's arrest?"

Cynthia looked at him in horror. "O, Lee! Think how the tabloids will
play up the story of Gail and Dad!"

"I don't see how it can be avoided, my dear."

"Don't tell the police," she urged. "Let us just tell Gail that we know
the truth, and leave her to her own conscience. That will be punishment
enough."

Lee shook his head. "I have pledged my word to Inspector Loasby. It is
my duty to tell the police everything we know. After that it's up to
them."

"Must you tell them right away? To-night?"

"Not to-night. I want to be surer of my ground first."

Hillman entered to ask if they would take any more dinner. Obviously it
was only an excuse; his face was tormented with curiosity. They shook
their heads, but he lingered. His curiosity proved to be stronger than
his fears. "Mr. Mappin, sir," he blurted out, "if it's not a liberty,
what did you learn from the boy? What has happened!"

"Nothing conclusive," said Lee mildly.

"Mr. Mappin . . ."

"That will be all, Hillman."

The servant went out with a distracted air. "Curious," murmured Lee,
"the pertinacity of a weak man. Hillman will face this out to the end,
though he dies a thousand deaths from sheer fright."

In ten minutes Siebert was at the door of the apartment. Cynthia ran out
into the foyer; Lee remained sitting in the studio mulling things over.
"Siebert," said Cynthia imploringly. "I'm sorry for the way I spoke and
acted. Can you forgive me, and forget it?"

The young man's eyes brooded over her sombrely. "I forgive you," he
said, "but I can't forget it right away. It made too deep a mark."

"I'm so sorry!" she murmured. "Try to put yourself in my place. Every
hour something new happens. I am dragged this way and that. I scarcely
know what I am doing."

"I know what you're going through," he said. "I wanted to stand by you.
But you preferred Mr. Mappin."

"Why can't I have both of you?"

Siebert shook his head. "Mappin suspects me. Mind, I don't blame him for
that. He's got to go by logic. But you ought to have known me better."

"You have not forgiven me," she said sadly.

"Yes, I have! I can't help loving you whatever you do."

"Then it's all right," she said, slipping her arm through his.

He pressed it hard against his side. "You haven't said that you loved
me," he murmured diffidently.

"Ah, don't ask that now," she said painfully. "There is no room inside
me now for a personal love. But I want you for my friend."

"Okay," said Siebert.

They drifted into the sunroom with linked arms.

As time passed and Hillman did not appear to say that he was going home,
Lee went in search of him. He found the servant standing in the pantry
in a distracted state. "Haven't you finished your work?" asked Lee.

"Yes, sir. Quite finished."

"Then why don't you go home?"

" I was just going, sir." Hillman took his hat and coat from the
cupboard where they hung. "Goodnight, Mr. Mappin. Please say good-night
to Miss Cynthia for me."

Lee made sure that he left the apartment.

Five minutes later Hillman was back again, shaking with fright. "Mr.
Mappin, sir," he stuttered, "would it be all right with you if I stayed
here to-night?"

"Why?" asked Lee. "I believe there are men laying for me in the street,
sir. Friends of that man .. of Cagey's. If they don't get me here they
are certain to get me in the empty streets that surround my home. I'm
afraid, Mr. Mappin."

"Nonsense!" said Lee. "When a thief is killed while breaking into a
house it is part of the chance he takes. You never heard of his friends
trying to avenge a killing of that sort. It is only when a gangster is
murdered by a rival that his mates look for revenge."

"I'm afraid," wailed Hillman.

"I see no reason for your staying here all night."

"I have a room, sir. Everything is prepared. I used to sleep here
sometimes when Mr. Dordress was alive."

"No, Hillman."

"Please! Mr. Mappin."

"It does not suit my convenience to have you sleep here," said Lee
coldly.

Hillman shuffled away, fairly blubbering with fright.

EVER since Gavin's body had been carried to the Hamilton Funeral
Parlours, a curious crowd had been milling around the establishment, and
Lee, dreading the scenes at a public funeral, had arranged to have his
friend carried secretly to a little chapel in Valhalla. There he was to
be buried on Wednesday morning. Only a dozen of Gavin's closest friends
were notified of the place and time, and all were pledged not to divulge
it to the Press.

Hillman arrived for work as usual on Wednesday morning. He looked like a
man on the verge of a nervous breakdown. "So you escaped from the
gangsters," Lee said dryly.

"It's no joke to me, Mr. Mappin," he whined. "I am watched and followed
wherever I go."

Lee and Cynthia breakfasted. Afterwards, while Cynthia was making ready
in her bedroom, Hillman came to Lee. "Mr. Mappin, would it be asking too
much for me to go with you this morning? I could ride outside with the
chauffeur."

"Why do you want to go?" asked Lee.

Hillman looked at him in surprise, and Lee noted with astonishment that
there were tears in his eyes. But of course there are men as well as
women who can cry to order. "I ... I worked for Mr. Dordress for nine
years," he stammered. "I was very strongly attached to him."

"Hum!" said Lee. "We will have to ask Miss Cynthia." When Cynthia
entered the room he said: "Hillman wants to know if he may go to the
funeral with us."

Cynthia stared at the servant. "Certainly not!" she said. "I wonder that
he has the face to speak of such a thing!" She hurried out of the room
to hide her feelings.

"You have your answer," said Lee to Hillman.

Hillman stood, an abject figure, hanging his head and twisting his hands
together. "Mr. Mappin," he whined, "surely it isn't possible that I am
suspected of .. of ..."

"O, say it out," Lee broke in. "Suspected of having had a hand in the
murder of your master. Certainly you are suspected."

"O, Mr. Mappin, this is too terrible!"

"We know that Miss Garrett has paid you large sums of money during the
last month. What was that for, if it was not to connive at the murder of
your master?"

"No, sir! No, sir! I have never taken a cent off Miss Garrett!"

"You have paid fifteen thousand dollars for your restaurant."

"No, sir! Only five thousand has been paid. That was my savings and my
wife's savings, and some we borrowed."

"Who did you borrow it from?"

"My wife took care of that, sir."

"How are you going to pay the balance?"

"Out of earnings, sir. A thousand dollars a month."

"The place doesn't earn that much."

"Then we'll have to borrow again."

Lee smiled grimly. "Furthermore," he said, "this man Cagey whom you shot
last night was also in Miss Garrett's pay. A man of his reputation in
the criminal world doesn't rob the house of a butler or a small
restaurant keeper. What was he after?"

"I don't know, Mr. Mappin. I swear I don't know!"

"All right," said Lee. "Until these questions are answered you must
expect to be under suspicion."

Hillman went out.

When Cynthia returned to the room Lee's eyes dwelt on her with affection
and pain. Grief had given her beauty an other-world quality; the clear
pallor, the enlarged eyes were not like those of a common flesh and
blood woman. Her plain black dress and hat set it off with
heart-breaking poignancy. She had refused to hide herself under a
funeral veil. "Ah, my dear! . . my dear!" he murmured.

"What's the matter?" she asked anxiously. "Don't I look all right?"

"You look like an angel! I would be more comfortable if I saw you with
red eyes and swollen nose like a common woman."

"I shan't cry to-day. Lee. Plenty of time for that."

He said: "This is going to be a painful ordeal for you."

Cynthia, guessing what had prompted his words, said quickly: "She won't
dare to come."

"She will certainly be there," said Lee gravely. "She wouldn't dare to
stay away."

As if to give point to his words the telephone rang. He answered it, and
over the wire he heard the slightly husky voice that had charmed the
ears of millions. "May I speak to Miss Dordress, please."

"Good-morning, Gail." Lee's voice was very dry. "This is Lee. Cynthia is
really in no shape to talk over the telephone. Can I take a message for
her?"

"Ah, the poor child! My heart is with her!"

"She will be grateful," said Lee.

"I called up to say that I was driving up to Valhalla alone with my
chauffeur. Can't I take Cynthia and you with me?"

"You are very kind, but we have already engaged a car. We are taking
several people with us."

"I see," said Gail. "Well, I'll see you up there." She hung up.

Cynthia listened to half of this exchange, stiffening with anger. She
should be stopped!" she murmured. "It's not decent for her to be there!"

"I will prevent her from coming if you are ready to face a show-down,"
said Lee gravely.

"O, no!" said Cynthia, turning away. "Let him be buried first."

"Why do you go?" he asked affectionately. "It's not necessary, my dear."

"I'm not going to let her keep me away!" Cynthia flashed back.

He said no more.

In Greenlawn Cemetery rain dripped slowly from the naked branches of the
trees. The grass was as vivid as freshly-applied green paint,
contrasting with the blackish green of the ivy trained over the grave
mounds. Not a dead leaf was allowed to remain on the ground nor a spray
of ivy to creep beyond its grave; no spear of grass rose above its
fellows. The place was too well-kept; it had a smug and trivial look out
of keeping with the stark fact of death.

Immediately inside the gates stood a sham gothic chapel connected by a
covered way with a receiving vault. As the hour for the ceremony
approached, two spruce young undertaker's assistants wheeled a rosewood
casket through the corridor on a nickel-plated travelling bier of the
latest design. Placing it just so at the chancel steps, they stood one
on each side in decorous attitudes of grief and watchfulness,
beautifully dressed and thoroughly pleased with themselves. The little
church was still empty and their attention wandered. One glanced at his
finger nails; the other stroked a budding moustache.

Fifty yards from the church waited the freshly-opened grave, with mats
of artificial grass like stage properties carefully laid down to hide
the uncovered earth, as it the sight of anything natural in that place
were an offence. A knot of village women gathered under the portal of
the church. The dead man was nothing to them; they didn't even know his
name; but it was clear from their expressions that they enjoyed a
funeral, any funeral.

Two taxicabs arrived from the railway station, the first bringing Alan
Talbert, a protege of Gavin's, and two other young men, the second two
girls of a highly sophisticated type, who smoked cigarettes incessantly,
and were inclined to smile at the barbarous funeral customs of our
forefathers. They were all young playwrights. Not liking to be the first
to enter the church, they remained standing outside along with the
village women.

An expensive custom-built brougham drew up and Mack Townley stepped out.
All the playwrights put themselves in a posture to attract his
attention, but Mack walked between them looking neither to right nor
left, and seated himself in a side aisle as if to avoid all contact with
his kind. There was something savage and terrible in the aspect of the
ravaged face under the conventional silk hat. The young people looked at
each other in surprise, for Mack was reputed to be an unfeeling man.
Their heads drew together; they whispered. In spite of Lee's care, word
had gone around Gavin's circle that there was something queer about the
manner of his death.

Two handsome limousines arrived together. From the first stepped the
very blonde Miss Gail Garrett, delicately worn, and most beautiful in
her black costume. Some of the village women recognised her, and finding
herself stared at, she dropped a long crepe veil over her face. The
gesture of the famous hand was perfect in its grace. She waited in the
vestibule for those who were behind her. Lee Mappin, Emmett Gundy,
Cynthia Dordress, Louella Kip and Fanny Parran got out of the second
car. As Cynthia entered the vestibule, Gail drew back her veil,
revealing a face suffused with tenderness. She picked up the girl's
hand, murmuring: "Darling child!"

Cynthia allowed her hand to rest limply in that of the older woman, but
the eyes that rested on Gail's face blazed up with startling intensity.
She said nothing. Gail, frightened, dropped the girl's hand, and let the
veil fall back quickly. The onlookers did not miss this brief exchange.
Even the village women felt that there was something strange about this
sparsely-attended funeral. They were repaid for coming.

Cynthia entered the church. Emmett Gundy on one side solicitously
supported her elbow with his hand. From the other side of the girl Lee
regarded Emmett dryly. He knew that Cynthia detested all such displays,
but he said nothing. Behind them, the gentle Louella in a black hat that
had turned rusty with age, was unaffectedly weeping. Hers were the only
tears shed. They took places in the first pew on one side of the aisle,
and Gail sat alone on the other. Nobody could see behind the latter's
crepe veil. Cynthia looked stonily ahead of her.

The other people entered the church. Presently Siebert Ackroyd drove up
in his little convertible, and went in. His eyes sought out Cynthia.
Seeing her flanked on both sides, he sat down glumly at the back of the
church. Observing Emmett's officious attentions, how he pushed up a
hassock for Cynthia to kneel on, how he found the burial service for her
in the prayer book, Siebert scowled. Over on the side aisle Mack Townley
sat apart looking at nobody.

The clergyman entered, and the undertaker's assistants retreated into
the background. It was an unimportant, ill-paid clergyman, and he was
not clever enough to conceal the fact that this was an everyday matter
with him. Even so, the beautiful words of the burial service had a
moving effect, and the sound of suppressed weeping could be heard.
Louella Kip's head was down, and under the all-enveloping veil, Gail
Garrett's shoulders were shaking. Cynthia, with dry eyes, looked stonily
ahead of her. "We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we
can carry nothing out. The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord."

When he came to the end of the first part of the service he started
slowly down the aisle, and the two young undertakers came after,
wheeling the casket. The mourners followed and after them the
sightseers. At the church door waited six soberly-clad workmen of the
cemetery who lifted the casket and bore it to the grave. Here it hung
suspended in a cradle while the service was resumed. On one side stood
Gavin's closest friends, Lee and the four black-clad women in front,
with the tall figures of Siebert Ackroyd, Emmett Gundy and Mack Townley
looking over their heads. From the other side of the grave and a little
back from it, the eyes of the village women greedily searched the faces
of the mourners. The clergyman continued: "Man that is born of women
hath but a short time to live, and is full of mystery. He cometh up, and
is cut down like a flower, he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never
continueth in one stay."

As he pronounced the benediction, Gail Garrett drew from beneath her
coat a single white rose. She extended her graceful hand, but Cynthia
was too quick for her. The girl's eyes blazed in her white face.
Wrenching the flower from the other woman's hand, she cast it on the
ground and trod on it. "For shame!" she said in a low, quivering voice.

All the others looked on as if turned into stone. Gail shrank away.
There was nothing theatrical in this gesture. "No! No!" she whispered.
"You are wrong! I did not! I did not!"

"Go!" said the blazing Cynthia, pointing to the cars.

Gail turned and ran stumblingly to her car. Nobody else moved. She
collapsed on her knees on the running-hoard, but contrived to get the
door open, and to drag herself inside. The car sped out of the cemetery.

ON his return to town, Lee went to Police Headquarters, where he put the
whole story before Inspector Loasby. The Inspector was appalled by the
task that lay before him. "Gail Garrett!" he exclaimed. "Good God! It is
terrible to think of dragging down a name like that!"

Notwithstanding her demoralisation at the cemetery, Gail was actually
playing the matinee at the Greenwich Theatre. Lee had satisfied himself
of that by telephone. "She has courage," he remarked dryly.

"She must keep up appearances at any cost," suggested Loasby.

On matinee days it was Miss Garrett's custom to remain in her
dressing-room between the two performances. She would have friends in to
a light meal that she called "tea" and would afterwards sleep for an
hour in preparation for the evening performance. Knowing this, Lee timed
his call at the theatre with Inspector Loasby for half-past six. He
wanted to save Cynthia from the ugly scene, but she insisted on
accompanying them. "My being there will break her down quicker than all
the questions of the police," she said, and Lee submitted. Loasby was in
plain clothes.

On their arrival at the stage-door they were told that Miss Garrett's
friends were still with her, and they sat down on property chairs behind
the scenes to wait. Of the three the professional police officer was the
most uneasy. "I don't like this! I don't like this!" he kept muttering.
The star dressing-room opened directly off the stage. Smiling, and
apparently her usual self, Gail came to the door to say good-bye to her
friends, and she had therefore no excuse for refusing to see these other
visitors. She silently stood away from the open door to allow them to
enter. The room was furnished as a charming boudoir in the style of
Louis Seize.

Gail's face changed at the sight of Cynthia. "You might at least have
spared me this until to-morrow," she said bitterly. "I have another
performance to go through with."

"If the people are not satisfied with your understudy their money can be
returned," said Lee bluntly. "Our business is more important than a
missed performance."

"Who is this gentleman?" asked Gail.

"Inspector Loasby of the police."

All the colour drained out of Gail's face. She ordered her maid,
Catherine, to wait outside, and to prevent anybody from entering. She
led the others to an inner room which was furnished in more workmanlike
fashion for the actual business of dressing and making-up. Feigning to
be pushed for time, she threw a stained kimono over her negligee, and
sat down in front of her mirror, letting her visitors find seats where
they could. Thus she had her back to them. She drew on a cap to protect
her hair, and commenced to dab cold cream on her face. The familiar
occupation gave her courage. "What do you want of me?" she asked in a
strangled voice. The mirror was ringed with electric lights and the
smeared face reflected in it no longer looked human.

In the presence of the great lady of the stage, the embarrassed
Inspector looked almost guilty himself. "I am sorry to have to say it,"
he muttered. "You are charged with the murder of Gavin Dordress."

She expected this, of course. Her busy hands trembled violently, but she
attempted to laugh. "How perfectly ridiculous! Who makes such a charge."

"Mr. Mappin."

Gail's agonised eyes were still fixed on her reflection in the mirror.
Her pretence that she had to make ready for the stage was preposterous.
"He had no basis for such a charge!" she said shrilly. "There is no
evidence! There couldn't be!"

The inspector looked at Lee. The latter said: "When you left Gavin's
place on Sunday night you drove home. Shortly afterwards you left the
hotel again. You were driven to the Nonpariel Social Club in Bayard
Street, where you sent in the driver to bring out a man known as Cagey
or Frank Cagey, a notorious gangster with a reputation as a killer. You
and Cagey drove away in another cab. About a half-hour later you turned
up alone at Gavin's place. You were carried up in the elevator and let
yourself into the apartment with a key. A minute or two later Cagey came
and was admitted to the apartment. There are witnesses to swear to this.
Nobody saw Gavin alive after that."

Gail sprang up from her chair and paced the little room, pressing
clenched hands against her temples, a grotesque figure with her
frenzied, white-daubed face. Cynthia turned away her head. Old habit was
so strong that there was still something theatrical in all Gail's
movements. "I did not kill him!" she cried. "I did not! I did not! But
O, God! what a position I am in! How can I prove it! Only Cagey could
save me, and he is dead!"

Lee was not at all moved by this display of emotion. "Quite!" he said.

"Do you deny that your movements on Sunday night were as Mr. Mappin has
stated?" asked the Inspector.

"No!" she said. "That much is true. You have your witnesses, haven't
you? But I did not kill him! I swear it!"

"You hired the man who fired the shot," said Lee.

"No! No! No!"

"How can you expect a jury to believe that?" asked the Inspector.

Gail came to a stand, pressing her head between her hands. "Listen! I'll
tell you the whole story. You've got to believe me . . . Listen! Listen!
. . . It is true that I went mad on Sunday night. I loved Gavin Dordress
and he cast me off in the most brutal and cold-blooded fashion! Me! Me!"

"That's a lie!" said Cynthia quickly. "My father could not . . ."

"Quiet!" murmured Lee. "What does it matter?"

Gail turned on him furiously. "O, it doesn't matter what say!" she
screamed. "I am nothing, I suppose. You always hated me, Lee Mappin . .
."

"Get on with your story," said Lee.

"He cast me off in the most brutal and cold-blooded fashion," Gail
repeated, with a spiteful glance at the girl; "and I was mad! I could
not endure such a load of shame and grief. I could not live in the same
world with the man who had wronged me so. I knew this man, Cagey-never
mind how. I knew he would do what I wanted, for money. It's true that I
went to him on Sunday night and gave him money to kill Gavin Dordress. I
was mad . . mad!"

Cynthia's eyes widened in horror. Lee moved closer to her. "When I went
home I wrote a letter to Gavin asking for a reconciliation," Gail
continued, "and I gave that to Cagey to deliver. I knew that Gavin would
read it, perhaps answer it, and Cagey was to shoot him then, and make
his getaway. . . ." Cynthia threw an arm over her face. "... But the
moment Cagey left me a revulsion of feeling took place, and I was
horrified at what I had done. I attempted to pursue him in another cab,
but I lost him in the traffic. I offered my driver everything I had on
me if he got to Gavin's place first, and we made it! We got there before
Cagey did, Your witnesses told you that! I went upstairs to beg Gavin's
forgiveness. The key?-I had possessed a key to his apartment for years.
I let myself in ... O, God! . . ." Gail's voice was choked by a dry-eyed
hysterical sobbing.

"Go on!" said Lee sternly.

Holding her head, Gail dropped to her knees. "O, God!" she moaned.
Flinging herself at full length on the rug, she pounded on the floor
with her clenched hands. "Gavin was dead!" she screamed. "Dead! Dead! .
. . He lay in the studio with a hole in his temple and blood spreading
on the floor. His body was still warm! O, God! if I had only had the
courage to kill myself then!"

Lee and the Inspector exchanged a glance. The former said: "Who killed
him?"

Gail raised her convulsed face. "He killed himself! The gun lay where it
had slipped from his hand. It was his gun. His letter of farewell was
lying on the desk . . . You know he killed himself I Could I have forged
Gavin's handwriting? Or that ignorant brute Cagey? You have only taken
advantage of appearances to bring this charge against me!"

"And then Cagey came," prompted Lee.

"He rang the bell," sobbed Gail. "I let him in because I was afraid to
leave him standing there."

"And then?"

"I can scarcely tell you. We left together."

"But that was nearly an hour later. What were you doing during that
time?"

"I was looking for my letters. I had written Gavin many letters;
foolish, loving letters. I couldn't bear the thought of having them read
by others."

"Did you find them?"

"No. Gavin must have destroyed them."

"Why did you pay Hillman such large sums of money?"

"I never gave Hillman a cent!"

"Then why did you send Cagey to Hillman's house?"

"I didn't send him there."

"That I am sure is a lie," said Lee.

"What do you think of the rest of the story, Mr. Mappin?" the Inspector
asked, low-voiced.

"She is probably speaking the truth," said Lee. "It fits in with the
other circumstances that I told you of."

Gail, amazed, partly raised herself, and started to scramble towards
Lee's chair on her knees. "Oh, Lee! thank you for those words," she
cried. "You are my friend. You will stand by me."

Lee sprang up with surprising swiftness, and backed away from his chair.
"Don't touch me!" he said sternly. "You plotted to kill my friend!"

"But I repented!" she wailed, beating the floor. "I got there before
Cagey. I am not guilty!" Seeing no mercy in Lee's face, she collapsed,
shaken by dry sobs.

Inspector Loasby said: "What action do you wish me to take, Mr. Mappin?"

Lee said: "I suggest that you take no action for the present in respect
to her. Our business lies elsewhere."

They left the theatre.

AT this point in the investigation. Lee Mappin, after consultation with
Cynthia and Inspector Loasby, changed his tactics. Suspecting that the
real murderer of Gavin Dordress was close enough to them to be able to
inform himself of all their movements. Lee undertook to lull him into a
false security by making believe to drop the investigation. On the day
following the scene in the Greenwich Theatre, therefore. Lee and Cynthia
returned to their respective apartments; Gavin's personal effects were
stored, and the penthouse subleased to an oilman who had made a strike
in the South-west and had come to New York to spend his gains.

The interest of the press in the case ceased with the funeral. Word was
dropped in the proper quarters among Gavin's friends that there had
seemed to be suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, but that
Lee Mappin, after making an investigation, was satisfied that it was a
case of suicide. Young Alan Talbert was the principal medium used by Lee
to circulate this story. Talbert was a playwright of mediocre talents
who was still among the great unproduced, but he was a lively, talkative
young fellow and an assiduous frequenter of theatrical parties.

In order to cover his tracks more completely, Lee did for a while
abstain from making any moves in the case. Stan Oberry was paid off, and
his operatives recalled from their assignments. The man sent to Reno had
not been able to get anything out of Bea Townley. When Lee started
cautiously to put out new lines, he employed other agents and changed
them frequently. Meanwhile he resumed his ordinary unhurried life,
devoting himself to his writing and showing himself freely in public. He
cultivated the society of Alan Talbert at this time. He did not care
particularly for that shallow young man, but Talbert was flattered at
being taken up by the noted Lee Mappin, and Lee was thus sure that his
doings would be reported in the right places.

During these days Lee and Cynthia avoided private meetings. The
telephone was safer. When they had first laid their plans Cynthia
expressed a wish to take Siebert Ackroyd into the secret. "I can't play
a part with Siebert," she said.

Lee's face, usually so gentle to Cynthia, turned hard. "Not with my
consent," he said. "Wait until I have cleared him of all possible
suspicion."

"Very well," she said sadly. "Then I won't see him at all."

"Just as you think best."

Siebert was not the man to take this tamely. After Cynthia had put him
off a couple of times, he flew into a rage and swore that he was
through. Thereafter they heard reports that he was drinking too much and
otherwise living recklessly, and that made Cynthia sore. She tried to
lose herself in her work at the hospital and to put Siebert out of her
life for good.

With the disappearance of Siebert, Emmett Gundy began to constitute
himself Cynthia's squire. Cynthia was a rich woman now. Emmett aimed
only to be the faithful friend, never obtruding himself, but always at
hand when wanted. His daily calls on the phone to see how she was, his
little inexpensive gifts, lapped her in kindness. Little by little she
overcame her initial dislike of her father's classmate. They talked much
of Gavin. There was no envy in Emmett now. One day Emmett and Siebert
met accidentally in the anteroom of a publisher's office. There were no
witnesses to what happened, but Emmett suffered a black eye. This had
the result of further angering Cynthia against Siebert, and making her
kinder to Emmett.

Louella Kip no longer appeared at the little gatherings of their circle,
and Emmett, when questioned, said that he had not seen her lately. Lee,
becoming anxious, looked her up. He found her absolutely without means,
about to be evicted from her cheap boarding-house, and with no place to
go. She was still defiantly loyal to Emmett and would hear no word
against him. In spite of her protests, Lee took care of her financially,
and through theatrical connections of Gavin's-not Mack Townley-succeeded
in getting her a small part in a new play.

Gail Garrett continued to appear in White Orchids at the Greenwich, but
it was obvious that she had lost her grip. Audiences are very quick to
sense that sort of thing. Business fell away with startling rapidity;
the play closed, and for the first time in many years the famous actress
found herself "at liberty." She was no longer seen around her former
haunts. In order to account for her failure, people began to say that
she was taking drugs.

Hillman, when he was relieved of his duties as butler, disappeared from
view. Mrs. Hillman was still doing an excellent business at the Harvest
Restaurant, and Lee, having learned that she was in communication with
her husband, let Hillman go for the moment, satisfied that he could lay
hands on him at any time. After a week or two had passed, Hillman
returned to town and took up his duties in the restaurant. Inspector
Loasby kept him under surveillance.

In the course of time the police were able to produce the man who had
made the duplicate key to the garden door of the penthouse. It was a
Jewish locksmith from the lower East Side. His description of his
customer tallied with that already in the hands of the police; a tall,
heavily-built foreigner with stooped shoulders. Wore thick glasses that
caused him to peer in an odd way, and spoke broken English. The Jew,
however, insisted that he was a Wop. Wore a leather cap that completely
covered his hair, and an old yellowish overcoat that had sagged out of
shape. The various people who had seen this man could not agree as to
the colour of his eyes. One said black, one said grey, one said blue.
This description had been put in the hands of every policeman in New
York.

Early, in November there was an announcement in the dramatic columns of
the New York dailies that Mack Townley had discovered a remarkable new
playwright. His name was John Venner and he had written a play called
Sin, which was so good that the astute Townley had bought it on sight,
and was preparing to put it into rehearsal as soon as a cast could be
assembled.

Every few days thereafter the public was fed an additional bit of news
about the new play. There was a mystery about the author. Mack Townley
had not laid eyes on him. All their business had been conducted by
correspondence. The Townley office declined to give out his address.
Though this was presumably Venner's first play, he had had the assurance
to stipulate that no changes should be made in it, and Townley had
actually agreed.

Very little about the play itself was given out in advance. It was said
to deal with a strange case of the transference of personality, and,
while not a horror play in the usual sense, to have breath-taking
overtones of terror and mystery. Another account described it as an
allegory in modern dress.

It was soon announced that the cast had been completed and rehearsals
started. The play was to open at the Townley Theatre on Christmas night.
It would have one of the most expensive casts ever brought together. The
principal woman's part would be played by Miss Beatrice Ellerman (Mrs.
Mack Townley), who had recovered from her recent illness.

Lee smiled grimly as he read this last item. Bea was back in town. The
fact of her brief stay in Reno had not been published in the Press, and
nobody but Lee and his close associates knew that the couple had
separated and come together again. One morning Lee met Bea coming out of
the most fashionable beauty salon on the Avenue. The tall Bea, in her
dark slenderness and grace, was more dazzlingly beautiful than ever.
Everybody on the sidewalk turned to look at her. She moved across,
smilingly conscious of her power. Her greeting to Lee was nicely
graduated between pleasure at the sight of an old friend and grief at
the recollection of their common loss. "Lee!" she murmured. "How good it
is to see you! Dear, dear Lee! You were his closest friend!"

Lee's answering smile was a thought dry. "I'm glad to see you, too. Your
last message to me was not quite so friendly."

"Ah, forget it, my dear!" she said, laying a, hand on his arm. "I was so
distracted by grief at Gavin's death I didn't know what I was doing."

"I understand," said Lee soothingly.

A shade of anxiety appeared in the handsome dark eyes. "The fact that I
went to Reno doesn't mean that there was any trouble between Mack and
me," she said. "I have a dear friend living there and I simply wanted to
be with her in my grief."

"I never gossip," said Lee.

"Why on earth did you send that person all the way to Reno to ask me
questions?"

"Well, there were certain suspicious circumstances in connection with
Gavin's death, but they are cleared up now."

"But why question me?"

Lee smiled his blandest smile. "My dear, you were overheard applying
very uncomplimentary epithets to your husband. In fact, you called him
.. a murderer."'

Bea paled under her make-up and bit the deliciously painted lip. "Lee!
Who said so?"

"A servant."

"Maybe I did," she murmured. "But a woman out of her mind with grief and
hysteria-it means nothing."

"Quite!" said Lee.

He handed her into her car. Driving away, she did not look quite so sure
of herself.

Several nights later Lee saw Mack Townley at the annual dinner of the
Pilgrims. Mack, who had large interests in London as well as New York,
was at the speakers' table. Lee marvelled at the transformation in him.
Gone was the savage look of pain and defeat. Mack had returned to his
usual smooth and astute self; the handsomest and the best-dressed
theatrical manager of two continents. His speech in the prevailing
hands-across-the-sea vein, was the wittiest of the evening. Mack had not
written it himself, of course, but he delivered it admirably. Lee did
not run into him until the party was breaking up. "Hello, Mack!"

"Well, Lee!" said Mack coolly; he was never a demonstrative man. "How
are things going?"

"As usual. I hear great tales about your new play."

Mack became the promoter at once. "In this case, Lee," he said
seriously, "the ballyhoo is not exaggerated. It is really an
extraordinary play. I have never seen actors so deeply affected by their
parts. The play inspires them."

"Splendid!" said Lee.

"You shall have two tickets tor the opening," said Mack, hurrying away.

"Thanks, old man."

Day by day little advance notices designed to whet the public appetite
for the new play appeared in the dramatic columns. The author, it
appeared, had declined to take any part in rehearsals, but it was
evident that he was keeping in touch with their progress, because he had
objected to the unsuitability of Mr. Martin Sears in the part of the
country doctor, and Mr. Sears had therefore been replaced by Mr. Everard
Welcome.

On another day: "Mr. Basil Hoare, the celebrated young English actor who
had been brought over to play the character in John Venner's play, Sin,
who represents the spirit of evil, is so powerful in the part that Miss
Phoebe Wistar became hysterical during a scene with him yesterday, and
the rehearsal had to be called off for the day."

As the date of the opening approached, the contention for tickets became
intense. Any Mack Townley opening was an event in New York's social
year, and this was considered to be exceptional. "The greatest play I
ever produced," Mack had said. Not to be there was to confess oneself
unknown. Mr. Townley's mailing-list had to be supplied first, of course;
what tickets were available to the public were snapped up within an hour
of being put on sale. The few that fell into the hands of the agencies
were quoted at fantastic prices.

From the Herald-Tribune of December 20th: "Two seats for the opening of
Sin at the Townley Theatre on Christmas night were sent to the author,
the mysterious Mr. John Venner, in the usual course. The astonishment of
the management can be better imagined than described when they were
returned yesterday with a note from Mr. Venner stating that he did not
expect to attend! An author not coming to the first night of his first
play! Incredible! However, upon thinking it over, one realises that if
Mr. Venner had occupied the numbered seats sent to him he would
immediately have been identified. No doubt he will be present, but in a
place of his own choosing."

Lee Mappin received his tickets in due course. He called up Cynthia to
ask her if she would go with him. "Thanks, dear," said Cynthia, "but I
haven't seen a show since, well, you know when. I have a sort of dread
of entering a theatre. Ask somebody else to go with you."

"My dear, this is weak-minded," protested Lee. "The sooner you overcome
it the better. Gavin wouldn't have liked to hear you speak like that."

Cynthia thought it over. "Perhaps you're right," the said. "Very well,
I'll be glad to go with you."

"That's better."

WHEN Lee Mappin's cab came to a stop in front of the Townley Theatre,
the sidewalk was jammed from curb to wall with a pushing throng of
people, craning their necks to get a glimpse of the arrivals. Two
perspiring policemen were with difficulty keeping a lane open for the
playgoers to enter the theatre. The gapers who were unable to get a
place on the sidewalk, ran out into the street and peered through the
outer windows of the arriving cars. As Lee and Cynthia passed through
the lane to the entrance they could hear people whispering to each
other: "Who are they? Who are they?" As neither Lee nor Cynthia was a
regular first-nighter, no reply was forthcoming.

Inside the theatre they saw Emmett Gundy at a distance but he was unable
to reach their sides because of the crowd. And Alan Talbert, beautifully
arrayed, who prided himself on knowing everybody. On the other side of
the house rose the handsome head of Siebert Ackroyd inches above the
surrounding heads. He was accompanied by a flamboyant girl who was
determined to be looked at. Cynthia looked once and not again.

The curtain was late, as usual. Every place in the house was occupied
except the two stage boxes. At the last moment a woman entered the box
on the left, but sat so far back behind the curtain that they could see
only her silken knees. Something in the house below attracted her
attention; she leaned forward and they had a glimpse of Gail Garrett's
drawn, white face. After the curtain had risen, Mack Townley and several
of the members of his staff quietly entered the box on their right.

The play opened very quietly. The setting represented the living-room of
a somewhat dilapidated Maryland manor-house, with tall windows open to
the summer night. There was a scene between a middle-aged man and a
handsome youth, his adopted son. They were deeply attached to each
other. The boy was leaving home to be married. Lee approved of the play
from the start; an atmosphere was created; tender, charming, yet faintly
portentous. He glanced at Cynthia to see how she was taking it, and was
surprised to find her leaning forward with parted lips, drinking in
every word. So far as he could see, nothing had happened on the stage to
account for such excitement.

From time to time he glanced at her. Her excitement increased. She had
lost herself completely. An intensity had come into her gaze at the
stage that was almost like pain. Her hands were gripping the arms of her
seat. Lee became very uneasy.

When the curtain fell on the first act there was a buzz of comment
through the house; very little applause. The sophisticated first night
audience saves that for the end. When the lights went up Cynthia seemed
to experience a slight collapse. She went limp all over and her head
dropped. She then looked around her in a slightly shamed manner to see
if her emotion had been noticed. "Like it?" asked Lee casually.

"No! . . . Yes! ... I don't know," she answered uncertainly. "But of
course I liked it!" she went on a little feverishly. "It's wonderful! It
did things to me. It frightens me a little. As if .. as if .. how can I
explain it? as if it was written by somebody who knew too much about me?
It was like echoes out of my own past."

Lee patted her hand. He thought her language overstrained.

In the intermission many of the people got up to join the crush at the
back, in order to see or to be seen, but Lee and Cynthia remained in
their comfortable seats. Out of the tail of his eye Lee saw Siebert
Ackroyd striding up the aisle. Siebert cast a savage glance at Cynthia.
They had several visitors, including the good-looking Alan Talbert who,
while he was talking, looked all around to see who was noticing him. He
was excited about the play. "A smash hit!" he cried.

"Isn't it a little too soon to tell?" suggested Lee.

"No, sir! You can feel it in the air. And Mack Townley is too wily to
give them a first act that is not held up by what follows. To-morrow
morning the author will be famous."

"Does anybody know anything about him?" asked Cynthia softly.

"No. I happen to know that that's not just press agent stuff. Up to now
he has really kept under cover. But you can depend on it he'll appear as
soon as he knows he has a hit on his hands."

In the second act the tension increased as the audience perceived the
devilish net that was spread for the hapless youth. The men were more
important than the women in this play, and it was not until the second
scene of the second act that Bea Ellerman made her appearance. She took
the part of a young girl, the youth's fiancee. Her perplexity and dismay
at the subtle change that had come over her lover were touching in the
extreme. Cynthia was breathing fast and her face had become agonised as
she watched the scene. Lee touched her arm. "My dear, it's only a play."
he whispered.

She turned her strained eyes on him, dark and enormous. "Can't you hear
it?" she whispered. "Hear what?"

"My father's voice."

He stared at her, too startled to speak. "This is Dad's play, Lee."

"No! No!" he whispered. "It's only your fancy."

She obstinately shook her head. "He is speaking to me through all the
lines of the play. These are his thoughts, his feelings, his very words!
That is what moves me so!"

Lee, gazing in her face, half believed it. He was a logical man, but he
knew there was that in the human consciousness which transcends logic.
Pressing her hand, he whispered: "Get a grip on yourself! Draw a mask
over your face. If you are right, it is certain that the thief who stole
Gavin's play is watching us now."

"I'll try," she whispered.

A revolving stage had been installed for the production of Sin, and in
each act the scenes succeeded each other without any pause. In the third
scene of the second act the wrecked youth, robbed of everything that
makes life worth living, crawled home to his foster-father's house. The
recognition was heart-breaking. Cynthia's shoulders were shaking. "Lee,
I've got to go," she whispered. "I can't bear any more!"

But if you go the guilty one will know that we have discovered his
guilt," he protested.

"If I stay he will see it in my face when the lights go up. I cannot
hide it!"

Fearful that she might break down in the middle of a scene, he hurried
her up the aisle. As they passed through the lobby the curtain fell on
the second act and they heard the audience forgetting its sophisticated
nonchalance, break into wild applause. "You go back," whispered Cynthia.
"You might learn something."

"I won't leave you," he said.

In the cab Cynthia broke down completely. He held her close. "O, what a
relief to get away from people," she wept. "I'm sorry you were
disappointed in me, but I couldn't stand any more!"

"It's no matter," said Lee.

"Lee," she said, "that man in the play felt towards his boy just as my
father felt towards me. My father talked to me in just that way. Hiding
his deepest feelings under a joke!"

"That may be a coincidence," said Lee.

"No! No! There are too many coincidences! . . . Listen! My father lived
in New York for so many years that everybody has forgotten he was raised
in Tidewater, Virginia. There were a hundred references to Virginia.
It's true they called it Maryland in the play, but that was just a
stall. The scent of the wild grape flower in June-notice the word scent.
Lee; anybody but Dad would have said perfume-the song of the
mocking-bird; the haze that broods on the Chesapeake in summer; the
trumpet flowers and the wild blackberries in the hedges; the buzzards
wheeling against the blue!"

"Anybody who knew Virginia might speak of these things," said Lee.

"All right. Take the peculiar sense in which he used the word
spontaneity. My father loved that quality and that word. You must have
noticed it. And the word inveigle used in place of intrigue. Besides
many others of his pet words. And his speaking of how a good man was
always at a disadvantage in the presence of a wicked man. Can't you see
his smile when he said it? Lee, if I had the script of the play before
me I believe I could point out all the places where some clumsy hand has
changed and cheapened it! Think of the title; the right name of that
play is The Changeling; Sin is a vulgar substitution!"

"You need go no further," said Lee. "I am convinced."

"When we find John Venner," he said presently, "we will have Gavin's
murderer."

As Alan Talbert had foretold, the name of John Venner was famous in New
York next day. All the newspapers joined in lavishing praises on his
play. The Times said: "It is obviously not the work of a prentice hand.
The wise, humorous lines bespeak a long experience of life, and a ripe
understanding. My guess is, that the author of Sin is a practised
literary hand-perhaps in some other field of writing, because the play
reveals certain gaucheries in dramatic technique-who has chosen the
expedient of anonymity in order to make a completely new start, and to
get an unbiased line on himself."

In the Herald-Tribune: "A new kind of play. The unthinking will call it
a 'horror' play, but there is no grisly monster exhibited on the stage,
no bloody head on a charger, nor clutching hands in space. Nothing is
named in the play. The horror evoked is a silent horror of the spirit,
which I need hardly point out is much more horrible than anything which
could be produced by stage properties."

In the World-Telegram: "The theme is the oldest in the world; viz., the
struggle between good and evil; the battlefield being a young man's
soul. In nearly all such plays the probabilities are violently wrenched
in order to bring about a happy ending with Virtue triumphant. The
author of Sin does not beg the question. He shows the struggle as a
terrific one with odds on the side of the Evil one, and the issue always
in doubt. He rescues this particular young man, and restores him to
those who love him, but Evil is not overcome. Evil stalks on grinning,
and on the watch for new victims."

In the Sun: "A completely original play; it cannot be referred to any
other play ever written.. Story, characters and atmosphere; all are new.
The whole play is a succession of slight surprises; the product of a
highly individual mind. It has the inexplicable quality of Nature
itself. Like Nature, its processes are sometimes obscure, but like
Nature it works out consistently in the end.... The final scenes in
their quiet way .. terrific! .. left the audience gasping."

The success of the play in connection with the non-appearance of the
author warranted a news story in most of the papers, in addition to the
dramatic review. It was told how Mack Townley, the producer, had sent
Venner a telegram after every act, but had received no word in reply.
However, Mr. Townley was giving a party in his apartment after the
performance tomorrow night, for the Sin company, the gentlemen of the
press and his friends generally, and he fully expected the mysterious
John Venner to be present.

Cynthia Dordress, busy at her desk in the hospital, was surprised to
hear the voice of Mack Townley over the wire at noon. The great man
rarely condescended to use the phone. Having had time to gather her
forces, Cynthia answered him calmly. "How are you my dear?" asked Mack.

"Quite well, thanks."

"Somebody told me that you were forced to leave the theatre in the
middle of the show last night."

"Yes. Wasn't it silly of me to be taken sick at such a moment? The worst
of it was, it made Lee miss the play, too. I was all right an hour
afterwards, and I'm anxious to go again as soon as possible."

"How about to-morrow night?"

"I'd love it, if it's convenient."

"Surely! You'll find two seats waiting for you at the box-office."

"Thanks so much. I'll try to get Lee."

"Afterwards perhaps you'll both come to our apartment. Bea and I are
giving a little shindig at midnight. We hope to have the mysterious John
Venner on view, but can promise nothing."

"How kind!" said Cynthia, "but I don't feel that I have any business
amongst all the celebrities!"

"What!" said Mack, "the daughter of my oldest friend who was the
greatest light of the American stage! What nonsense! Come, and uphold
the name of Dordress, my dear."

"Very well," said Cynthia, " and thank you."

She immediately called up Lee and repeated her conversation with Mack.
"What do you think of it?" she asked anxiously.

"Hum," said Lee. "I prefer not to say over the phone."

"Well, we can talk about it later."

"Do you really feel able to sit through the play again?"

"Surely. I am braced for it now. I must see this play through. It was
the shock of discovery that upset me last night."

"And the party afterwards?"

"Surely."

"He won't come," said Lee.

"He might," said Cynthia.

Cynthia sat through the third performance of Sin without an outward
tremor. "It gives me pleasure now," she said to Lee. "It's a beautiful
play. It is only the changes in it that anger me. I'd like to see it
every night."

Lee pressed her hand. "Do you think it was Mack Townley who stole it?"
she asked coolly.

"I'm not prepared to say," growled Lee. "If he had, it would have been
like him to call you up yesterday. Mack plays poker. But give me a
little more time."

Mack and Bea Townley welcomed their guests at the door of their big
living-room. Bea, in white and gold brocade with her diamonds and
emeralds, looked queenly, but Lee, glancing from one woman to another,
considered that Cynthia's white skin and pure profile, set off by a dull
black evening gown, was the more beautiful. Bea, pressing Cynthia's hand
between both of hers, murmured: "Darling, I'm so glad you could come.
They told me you were ill."

"I was better in an hour," said Cynthia.

"Do come some day when we can have a little time together."

"I work in the daytime," said Cynthia, smiling; "some Sunday, perhaps."

"Good! I'll give you a ring."

Lee listened to this with a dry expression. Both women were lying, and
each knew it.

Mack's handsome hard face wore its customary mask of scornful good
humour. His courtesy was perfect.

The living-room was sixty feet long, and with the library at one end and
a great dining-room opening at the side, the suite could accommodate two
hundred people without crowding. Pink roses were banked between the
windows. All the luminaries of New York professional and cafe society
were present; millionaires, actresses, divorcees, play-boys and titles.
The most popular persons present were the social commentators and press
photographers, who were hailed with cries of welcome as they circulated
with note-book and camera. "Such is modern society," grumbled Lee.

Everybody was eating lobster salad and drinking champagne. Each plate
had a little rack affixed to the rim to hold a glass, so that two-handed
creatures could accomplish this feat while standing. Waiters threaded
their way through the throng, filling the glasses as fast as they were
emptied. A deafening clatter of conversation filled the rooms.

As Cynthia and Lee slowly made their way through, they met many
acquaintances. Gail Garrett appeared to be the only member of Gavin
Dordress' old circle who was not present. Emmett Gundy attached himself
to them. Emmett did not appear to advantage in the brightly-lighted
room. The thinning hair on his crown was painfully apparent, his face
was sourer and more pinched than usual. He said to Cynthia: "Disgusting
mob! I'm surprised that you cared to come."

"O, once in a while it's amusing," she answered.

Alan Talbert came up to them, pale and glassy-eyed with excitement.
"Glorious occasion!" he said. "Drink with me. I'm on the threshold of a
new life!"

At the moment his words didn't seem to make sense. "It's the champagne,"
muttered Emmett as they passed on.

They came face to face with Siebert Ackroyd in the dining-room doorway.
Emmett paled and edged aside. Siebert, ignoring both Emmett and Lee,
fixed his eyes on Cynthia with an expression both savage and full of
pain. "You look handsome," he said to her.

"Same to you," said Cynthia, coolly meeting his glance.

"I'm glad to see you coming out of your shell," said Siebert, " but I
don't like your company."

"I do," said Cynthia, smiling and moving on.

"Damned impudence!" muttered Lee.

Later, Lee and Cynthia were standing against the wall of the big room
watching the tail-coated men and the bejewelled women weaving and
clustering in front of them. The noise had grown louder; one had to
shout to make oneself heard. The free champagne had been downed too
quickly, and many of the faces seemed to have softened like butter in a
warm room. Cynthia said in Lee's ear: "I wish we lived in the country."

"I get you, my dear."

There had been no new arrivals for some time, and Mack Townley was now
circulating through the room pausing to say the right word to everybody.
He said to Lee: "I'm looking around for an unexplained person who might
be the playwright. But I seem to know everybody here."

Lee said when Mack had passed on: "If he's bluffing, it's well done!"

Mack finally climbed on a chair at the end of the room and clapped his
hands to command attention. "Friends, Romans, Countrymen," he said
smilingly, "I am sorry to say that I cannot produce my playwright. What
has happened to him I don't know. I am unable to picture an author who
could pass up such an opportunity to receive the homage of the cream of
New York. It may be that . . ."

"Wait a minute, Mack!" cried a voice below him. "He's here!"

An excited murmur passed through the crowd. Everybody craned their
necks. They saw Alan Talbert pushing up to Mack's chair. "In me you see
John Venner," he cried, striking a mock attitude. 'There was an
astonished silence, followed by a burst of applause. Everybody pushed up
towards the chair, leaving Lee and Cynthia on the outskirts of the
crowd. Mack looked a little taken aback, but he smiled still. He stepped
down from the chair, and Talbert, without waiting to be asked, climbed
upon it, and turned his white face and punch-drunk eyes on the crowd. "I
am the author of Sin, God forgive me," he announced. "I wrote it on my
little Corona!"

There was a tremendous burst of handclapping in which Mack Townley,
always the diplomatist, joined. On the outskirts of the crowd Cynthia's
eyes fired up dangerously, and Lee could almost see the words shaping on
her lips: "You lie!" He pressed her hand. "Quiet!" he whispered. "This
is not the place."

Cynthia relaxed. "I got tired of rushing my plays around to the
managers' offices and having them fired back at me with insincere
praises," Talbert was saying. "You all know what people say about me;
'Alan Talbert? Sure! Nice lad, but he can't write for a damn!' That was
my label. When you get a label it's useless to struggle. So when a real
bang-up, number one idea for a play came to me I said nothing about it.
And when it was finished I invented this John Venner in order to get a
fresh hearing. And as it has turned out I seem to have been justified .
. ."

More applause.

"Lee, that is the man!" murmured Cynthia.

"I am not convinced of it," said Lee.

She looked at him in surprise. "He could have done it. Lee. He was a
frequent visitor at Dad's place. He is tall enough to have worn the
yellow overcoat. He had plenty of opportunities to steal the key to the
garden door and have a duplicate made."

"Sure," said Lee. "But think it over. If he had stolen the play he would
have been watching you last night. When he saw you leave the theatre he
would have known you suspected something. He would never have had the
courage to stand up and claim the play to your face to-night."

"But he has claimed it."

"There is a possibility that when the author failed to turn up to-night,
Talbert figured that he never would acknowledge his play. So Talbert may
have decided to claim the credit. Even though the deception is quickly
discovered, Talbert will have had his day in the news."

"Let's get out of this," whispered Cynthia.

As they were making their way through the foyer, they saw Mack, suave,
smiling, never at a loss, dealing with a knot of reporters. "Do you
believe in this claim of Alan Talbert's?" one asked him bluntly.

"Certainly I believe in it," said Mack. "Talbert is a friend of mine."

"Has his work in the past shown the promise that would justify you in
thinking he wrote Sin?"

"I don't know. I haven't read his other plays."

"Won't you require him to present documentary proof of the authorship of
Sin?"

"No," said Mack with an air of surprise. "Why should I?"

"Well, there's the question of paying the royalties."

"That doesn't concern me," said Mack. "The play was sent me by an agent.
I pay the royalties to the agent. It's up to him to decide who they
belong to."

"Who is the agent?"

"Siebert Ackroyd. He's here somewhere."

Cynthia's grasp of Lee's arm tightened painfully. " O, let's get away!"
she whispered.

THE story of what happened at Mack Townley's party broke too late to
make the morning papers. Lee had to wait for the first afternoon
editions which come out in the middle of the morning. In addition to
what Mack had told the reporters, Alan Talbert had given out a
flamboyant interview in which he described how he had written Sin and
Siebert Ackroyd, talking more cautiously, told how the play had come to
him by mail with a covering letter. He had had a number of letters from
the author since, but had never laid eyes on the man. He had transmitted
the advance payment by post office money order, according to the
author's instructions. He refused to give the author's address. As to
Alan Talbert, Siebert said that he saw no reason to question his claim,
but that of course as a business man, he must await legal proof before
paying him any royalties.

Subsequent editions of the papers described how busily Mr. Alan Talbert
was making hay while the sun shone. He displayed no reluctance to talk
to the press. Before the day was out he had sold options on two of his
earlier plays to other New York producers, and had banked the advance
payments. These producers stipulated that the plays must be billed with
the name of John Venner as author, to which Talbert had cheerfully
agreed. Talbert had signed a contract to go to Hollywood later at a
handsome salary, and in the meantime had accepted a radio engagement.
The Hollywood producers were bidding against each other for the rights
of Sin.

Meanwhile, from early morning, Lee, leaving Siebert Ackroyd aside for
the moment, had been checking up on his office force. Siebert employed
five persons; a secretary, a woman assistant, a male office manager, a
second stenographer and a messenger to tote manuscripts around. Lee,
from amongst his wide connections, chose operatives here and there and
assigned one to make contact with each of the Ackroyd employees. It was
the stenographer who proved to be the weak sister. She fell hard for the
lively and attractive young man who was put on her trail, and by one
o'clock on Friday morning (the Townley party was on Wednesday night) Lee
was in possession of all the gossip of the Ackroyd office concerning
their mysterious client, John Venner. The story was as follows:

The original script of Sin as received by Siebert Ackroyd had been typed
on an old machine with a worn ribbon. This had occasioned a good deal of
ill temper in those who read it, because of the eye-strain involved. It
contained many typographical errors which had been laboriously corrected
on the machine. Thus the author's handwriting appeared nowhere in the
script. The arrangement of speeches, business, etc., indicated that the
author was not familiar with the customary way of preparing a
playscript. The agency's first act was to have some fair copies typed.
The original script was filed. The letter which accompanied the script
had been typed on the same machine, but it was signed by hand with a
scrawly and imperfectly formed signature which looked as if it might be
that of a very old man. Subsequent letters were all signed in the same
way. For an address they gave a post-office box in Newark, New Jersey.

The latest letter from "John Venner" had been received on Wednesday.
This one bore no address at the top. The writer implied that he had seen
the first performance of Sin the previous night, but showed no pleasure
at its success. He was writing, he said, to inform his agent that he was
"travelling," and to instruct him to hold all communications,
remittances, etc., until further notice. Obviously he had not travelled
far, because the envelope bore the postmark of Stamford, Connecticut,
which is only thirty miles from New York. He enclosed a power of
attorney to enable Siebert Ackroyd to act for him in all ways.

Lee immediately had a watch put on the Newark post office box, but it
was never visited again. Siebert Ackroyd's last letter to his client lay
in it unclaimed. Clearly, John Venner had taken alarm.

The Ackroyd office received another letter from him on Friday, angrily
repudiating Alan Talbert's claim to the play. Venner undertook to prove
that he had written the original script by describing the errors and
corrections on a certain page. He suggested that Siebert should invite
Alan Talbert to submit to a similar test. Venner said that he had a
carbon copy of the script in his possession which he would produce "at
the proper time."

Siebert sent copies of this letter to the press and it was printed in
the afternoon editions. Thus, after twenty-four hours of sunshine, young
Mr. Talbert went into eclipse. But not altogether. He had made the
headlines; his name had become news. Once a name is news New Yorkers are
prone to forget how it first got that way.

On Friday night after dinner, Lee, Cynthia and Fanny Parran were
discussing these things in Lee's apartment. Cynthia's eyes were dark
with pain. She said with extreme bitterness: "It was Siebert. That is
clear."

"Nothing is proved," said Lee.

Cynthia shook her head impatiently. "Don't try to soften the blow. I've
got to take it. It was Siebert. The power of attorney proves it. John
Venner will never be heard of again. Siebert will collect the royalties
under his power of attorney. I will never believe in anybody again."

"It might just as well have been Mack Townley," insisted Lee. "Venner's
stipulation that the play must first be offered to Townley suggests
that."

"Mack is a business man," said Cynthia. "You know he wouldn't hand over
a fortune in royalties and movie rights just for a gesture."

"He might think that it was worth it for the sake of diverting suspicion
from himself."

Cynthia shook her head again. "What's the next move?" she asked.

"I will have them put under surveillance," said Lee. "I will have a look
at Venner's letters and at the original script."

"How will you go about that?"

He smiled at her.

Cynthia was still in his apartment when there was a ring at the door and
a package was handed in. Lee brought it into the living-room and opened
it. It contained the original script of Sin, and all Venner's letters to
Siebert Ackroyd. "How did you get them?" demanded Cynthia, opening her
eyes to their widest.

"A little act of burglary," said Lee blandly. "I have arranged for
photostat copies to be made, and they will be back in the Ackroyd files
before morning."

Cynthia regarded the untidy script with sombre eyes. "My father's
murderer filled those pages," she murmured.

Lee handed it first to Fanny, who was an expert in typing. She studied
it word by word under a magnifying glass, while Lee with another glass
spread the dozen letters on the table. He gave attention first to the
signature. After making some experiments with a pen held in his left
hand, he said: "These letters appear to have been signed by a man
writing with his left hand. All the signatures show the same
characteristics but the letters are better formed towards the last. He
has been practising writing with his left hand."

"As to the letters," said Lee, " they are all brief and they are
expressed in a rather dictatorial or peremptory style. He issues his
orders as if his agent were a servant," Lee looked at Cynthia
affectionately. "My dear, a man would hardly take that tone if he were
writing to himself."

Cynthia refused to be impressed. "If he was clever enough to have
thought of the rest, he could assume that, too."

Fanny said: "He used a Royal typewriter of an old model. The type is
badly worn, the alignment of letters has become uneven through neglect,
and the rubber platen so hardened with age that the period made a hole
in the paper every time it was struck."

"Good work!" said Lee.

After further study of the script. Fanny went on: "The person who wrote
this was accustomed to typing. He wrote rapidly, but he keeps making the
same mistakes all through. It looks as if he had been accustomed to a
different keyboard, but that can hardly be, since all makes of
typewriters adopted a standardised keyboard some years ago. I can't
explain it."

"I can't see the great Mack Townley typing rapidly," said Cynthia.

"He wasn't always great." said Lee. "He used a typewriter in college."

"Here's a funny thing!" exclaimed Fanny. "Though the type generally is
so worn, there is one character that is clear and sharp. It's the
exclamation point." She shoved the script over for Lee to see.

"Fine!" said Lee. "That is something definite to go on. The exclamation
point is not included in the standard keyboard. The man who used the old
typewriter had it put in place of some character he didn't use. He
required exclamation points on every page of his play, you see. He would
naturally go to one of the Royal service shops to have this done. Such a
request cannot be a common one. Perhaps we can trace the old typewriter
through this means."

REPORTS OF A. W. ("THIS is a new man I have got," remarked Lee to
Cynthia; "An actor temporarily out of a job. He's good.")

December 20th. As soon as I received word from you that Mrs. Mack
Townley had applied to the-- Agency for an English butler, I went to the
Agency to register. The woman in charge merely glanced at my fake
English testimonials. My appearance and my answers to her questions were
more important to her. Of course, I have never been a butler except on
the stage, but I had prepared myself for this interview by studying a
butler's manual, and I passed muster all right. When she asked for a New
York reference I gave her General Harrington's name, according to your
instructions.

I was sent first to a Mrs. Frelinghuysen on Fifth Avenue, and I had
considerable difficulty in getting away, because she wanted to engage
me. I said I was addicted to snuff, and she let me go. This interview
gave me more assurance in facing Mrs. Townley, to whom I was next sent.
Mrs. T is a very beautiful woman but she is not a lady born, and she has
an arrogant and disagreeable manner towards servants. However, that was
nothing to me. I made the right answers and was instructed to come to
work yesterday afternoon.

On my arrival at the apartment I was turned over to the other servants.
Mrs. Townley prefers male help; besides myself there is a cook, a
houseman and Mr. Townley's valet. The only female servant is Mrs
Townley's maid, an attractive young-woman called Antoinette, of French
nationality. All the servants dislike their masters and gossip about
them freely. Mrs. T., I was told, is unreasonable and overbearing while
her husband is subject to violent rages. More than once he has had to
settle handsomely after beating up a servant. Although they pay the best
wages, none of their present servants has been with them longer than six
weeks except Adolph Braun, Mr. T.'s valet. I tried to ingratiate myself
with Braun, but he's a surly man, the only one of the lot who is not
inclined to talkativeness.

There was a lot of gossip among the servants about the play Sin, but of
course they don't know anything-except, perhaps, Antoinette, who
accompanies her mistress to the theatre every night. Antoinette said
very mysteriously that Townley knows who really wrote the play, and so
does Mrs. T., and that she is holding the knowledge over his head.
However, they expect to make a quarter of a million out of it, and
neither is going to say or do anything which will jeopardise that.

Mr. Townley came home about six and gave me a sharp look when I took his
things. That's just his way. He has no reason to believe that I am
anything but what I appear to be. He went direct to his wife, who was in
her boudoir, and Antoinette, who was with her, told me afterwards that
his first words were that the movie rights of Sin had been sold to
Paramount for a hundred thousand. "How much of that do you get?" Mrs. T
asked. "Twenty-five thousand," he said. "Damn!" said Mrs. T. "It goes
hard to have to hand over three-quarters of it!"

Dinner passed off without any bad breaks on my part. Mrs. Townley called
me down sharply for some little things, and I begged her to excuse me
because of nervousness at the first meal. From the pantry I heard her
husband say that I looked promising, and she oughtn't to be so hard on
me or they'd get worse. She was very agreeable to her husband through
the meal. Antoinette says that means she is deceiving him. Her latest
flame is Mr. Basil Hoare, the handsome Englishman who plays opposite her
in Sin. Townley suspects nothing as yet.

The conversation of husband and wife throughout the meal was mostly
about the play, the actors and the way they played their parts. Mrs.
Townley complained bitterly about the actress who is her mother in the
play, saying that she hogged every scene in which she appeared. Mr.
Townley tried to smooth her down by saying that he could see that, but
that it would be foolish to get rid of the woman so soon after the
reviewers had given her such good notices. "Just wait a while, my dear,"
he said.

She asked him if there was anything new in respect to the so-called John
Venner. He said no, he thought they would hear no more about him. She
said she hoped so for his sake, in such a funny tone that he immediately
asked her what she meant by it. Her face was all innocence immediately.
She said: "Nothing, dear, only it would be just too bad if the
performances were halted on account of legal proceedings over the
authorship."

"Nobody is going to dose the play when it's grossing twenty-five
thousand a week," he growled.

Shortly after eight o'clock Mr and Mrs. T departed for the theatre
taking Antoinette with them, and I saw no more of them last night. Mrs.
T sent Antoinette home after the performance and she herself didn't come
in until near four. Her husband was waiting for her, and there was a
scene. There were no witnesses to it so I cannot give you any details.

December 21st (Sunday). Neither of them showed themselves yesterday
until lunch. They appeared to be reconciled. Mr. Townley is crazy about
his wife, and she can do pretty much what she likes with him. I am sorry
that I can't add much to my report of yesterday. Mr and Mrs. Townley are
accustomed to be spied on by unfriendly servants and they have learned
to keep a guard on their tongues when any of us are within hearing.
Antoinette is my best source of information, but she only knows what she
can pick up. There's a kind of armed truce between her and her mistress.
Antoinette has made herself indispensable to Mrs. T., but the latter
doesn't confide in her maid.

At the lunch table whenever Mrs. T had anything interesting to say to
Mr. T she would say to me: "That will be all, Whiteley; if we require
anything I'll ring." And I would have to beat it into the pantry. I
might have heard something by listening at the door, but the houseman
was in and out and I was afraid of arousing suspicion. In this household
it's every man for himself. The servants hate their master and mistress,
but they would betray me to them in a minute if they thought there was
anything in it for themselves.

After lunch they both went out. Mrs. Townley had to go to the theatre
for the matinee, and Townley told her he was meeting Siebert Ackroyd at
the Conradi-Windermere for the purpose of signing the movie contracts
with the Paramount officials.

At dinner last night the following conversation took place between them.
I don't understand it, but pass it along for what it may be worth.
Townley said: "I am considering a play by Jules Taschereau as a vehicle
for you later on. She said: "Hadn't you better let me read it before you
make up your mind?" He said: "Surely! It isn't a good play but it will
make money. The woman's part is the whole thing. Your part in Sin isn't
worthy of you. Now that you have created it, you could retire and do
this other thing." Mrs. Townley, leaning her chin on her palm, said with
a dreamy air: "Of course, it's not much of a part, but I love it! I hear
his dear voice in every line!" Townley flew into a passion and pounded
the table. "-- ! Am I to have him thrown in my face forever!" She looked
at him contemptuously and said: "Are you jealous of the dead?" Then she
saw me and dismissed me from the room. A.W."

When Cynthia read this report her ideas underwent a violent process of
readjustment. "Mack Townley?" she muttered. Then in a different tone.
"Mack Townley! It was he!" Lee shrugged deprecatingly. "But it is clear
from this that both Mack Townley and his wife know that Sin is my
father's play."

"Surely. However, that doesn't prove that Mack killed him. You must
remember that Gavin and Mack were associated for nearly twenty years in
putting on plays. It is possible that when this play was offered to Mack
he recognised it as Gavin's work from internal evidence, just as you
did."

"And never denounced the murderer and thief!"

"My dear," said Lee, "Mack's trained eye would tell him at a glance that
there was a fortune in the play, whoever wrote it."

"Ah, human nature is disgusting!" exclaimed Cynthia in her bitterness.

"O, not always!" protested Lee.

BRIEFER REPORTS FROM DETECTIVE-SERGEANT J.

IT'S a cinch to watch George Hillman because his life is so regular. The
danger of this job is, it's too easy; I find myself falling asleep over
it. Since he returned to town he has been sticking closely to business
at the Harvest Restaurant. A couple of weeks ago they decided to keep it
open all night and as there is no other all-night eating place in the
neighbourhood, the move has been very profitable. I should estimate that
they were grossing well over two thousand a week now. Hillman don't seem
to take any pleasure in their prosperity. He's as worried looking as
ever.

Mrs. Hillman is at the desk from nine in the morning until nine at
night, and her husband takes it from nine pm until nine am. He goes
straight home and goes to bed, getting up at five or five-thirty in the
afternoon. The next four hours are his own, but on many days he doesn't
come out of the house until it is time to go to the restaurant. He gets
all his meals in his own restaurant. Sometimes he does a little shopping
in Tremont Avenue, or just mooches up and down the street without any
particular purpose. Whenever he's out he always drops into some saloon,
not to drink, but to play the slot machines. He appears to have no
friends. I have never seen him speak to anybody.

Yesterday he departed from this routine. Coming out of his house about
six o'clock he proceeded to the East Side subway and took a down-town
express. At 86th he changed to a local and got out at Fifty-first
Street. I followed him to the Conradi-Winder-mere Hotel and was just
behind him when he asked at the desk for Miss Gail Garrett. The clerk
told him that Miss Garrett no longer lived there, and that they didn't
have her present address. He referred Hillman to Mr. Bittner, her
manager. Hillman then entered a telephone booth. The adjoining booths
were full and I was unable to overhear the conversation, but I assumed
that he was calling Bittner's apartment. He then took a Lexington Avenue
bus to Twenty-fifth Street and entered an old hotel called the Engstrom,
a crummy joint, badly run down. I was just behind him. He asked for Miss
Garrett and after telephoning upstairs, they told him she was out. But I
could tell (and so could he) that the telephone girl had had her on the
wire.

I made some fake inquiry of the clerk and followed Hillman out of the
hotel. He looked sunk. For over an hour he wandered aimlessly along the
streets of that neighbourhood; Lexington Avenue, Twenty-eighth Street,
Fifth Avenue, Twenty-third and so on. At ten past eight he returned to
the Engstrom. I couldn't follow him in a second time because the clerk
would certainly have got on to me. Anyhow, he was turned away a second
time and came out looking depressed. It was now time to go to work, and
he took the subway back to the Bronx.

FROM M. O'B.

I went to the office of the-- Co publishers to fish for a little
information. The man who received me said they were no longer publishers
for Emmett Gundy. "O, has he left you?" I said. "Hardly that," the man
said with a sour smile, " his last novel was not profitable and we
didn't care to go on with him. You had better go to Miss Flora Chisholm,
his agent, for further information." Miss Chisholm's office is on the
seventh floor of the New York Central Building. Here I made out to be
the representative of a new publishing house. I asked her if she had
placed Mr. Gundy's last novel. No, she had not, but several publishers
were interested in it. She gave me a sales talk, and offered to send the
script to my office. "You can have this fine novel on very easy terms,"
she said. I told her not to send it until I let her know.

Thus it appears that Gundy is still up against it, but as far as I can
see he isn't working at anything. On December 6th he moved from the
cheap room on East Thirty-fourth Street where he has lived for six
months past, and took a room at the Hotel Vandermeer. It was a small
room but it must have set him back $3.50 a day. On December 27th he left
the Vandermeer and took another cheap room on East Nineteenth Street. As
far as I could see he didn't do anything while at the Vandermeer but
pose in the lobby.

He is hard up but not entirely without money. Acts like a man whose time
hangs heavy on his hands. About noon I see him come to his window in his
pyjamas, yawning and stretching. When he comes out of the house he
always looks the pink of perfection. On the night of the 28th he
attended a party given by Mack Townley at the Andorra. He spends a lot
of time in the cheap movie houses on West Forty-second Street. On the
30th he spent the entire afternoon and evening going from one house to
another. On the morning of the 27th I trailed him to the office of his
agent, Miss Chisholm, in the New York Central Building. I couldn't wait
in the up-stairs corridor for him to come out because it was empty. So I
stood in the main lobby downstairs watching the elevators. All the
elevators serving the seventh floor came down in the same alcove, and I
didn't see how he could get by me. But he never came down. After waiting
a couple of hours I put in a fake call to Miss Chisholm's office. She
said he had been there but had left immediately. On the 28th the same
thing happened again. This was the afternoon. He went to his agent's
office and never came down again. I waited until I saw Miss Chisholm and
her stenographer going home and then I knew the office was closed. M.
O'B.

"This man is a fool," remarked Lee. "It has not occurred to him that if
Emmett discovered he was being trailed all he had to do was to walk
upstairs and take an elevator that would land him in a different part of
the lobby. I must find a better man."

FROM V. P.

Alan Talbert has a front of brass. In spite of everything that has been
published in the newspapers, he is still going around asserting with a
smooth face that he wrote Sin, and no amount of razzing can break him
down. He can find plenty who pretend to believe him; to a certain class
of people he's a hero because he has had so much publicity. He has no
difficulty in finding some rich woman (not too young) to take him on a
round of the most expensive hot spots every night.

Amongst all this chatter I heard Alan say one thing that may or may not
be of interest to you. It was at the bar of the Colony Restaurant. An
over-stuffed dame upholstered in sables was feeding Alan there and they
had lined up for a quick one before going in. Next to Alan stood Rufus
Cooley, the critic, who said, laughing: "You will never make me believe
that you wrote it! Sin was turned out by a more finished hand than
yours, my boy!"

"That is Gavin Dordress' influence," said Alan. "You forget that I
worked under Gavin for years. He used to call me his successor. He
helped me a lot with this play. The quiet effectiveness of the big
scenes that you have all spoken of is due to Gavin. I owe Gavin
everything."

Rufus actually seemed impressed by this. "Gavin Dordress!" he said,
stroking his chin. "I never thought of that! . . . Dordress? Why, of
course! Of course!" V. P.

REPORT OF E. B. H.

DECEMBER 31st. I didn't report earlier because I was unable to establish
contact with my man. Siebert Ackroyd lives at the Madison along with
many another well-to-do young man about town. I thought my best line
would be that of the rich young idler and I went to the Madison on
Friday morning and took a suite. Ackroyd has lived there for several
years and is well known to the staff. The servants talk about him
because he has been so much in the news lately. They say that a change
has come over him. One of the most popular young fellows in that set, he
has turned solitary and morose. In view of the great success of his play
Sin nobody can understand it. They say that he stood to pull down a
commission of ten grand from the movie rights alone. They say he is
drinking too much, and they resent it because he doesn't do his drinking
at the Madison.

I found it was a tough assignment to track Ackroyd because he takes a
taxi every time he steps out the door. It is almost impossible to trail
a man through the streets of New York in a car because of the traffic
chances. I lost him every time I tried it, so I can't tell you what his
movements were during the day on Friday or Saturday.

However, after dinner on Friday night he started out from his hotel on
foot, and I after him. He led me to a saloon on Third Avenue. He stood
down at the end of the bar away from everybody and ordered a straight
rye. I could see by the ugly look in his eyes that it would be foolish
to speak to him. He would only have cussed me out, and I would have been
no further good on this assignment. So I stood at the bar near him (but
not too near) making out that I was a solitary drinker with a grouch,
just like himself, and hoping he would notice me. But he did not. He
remained there a couple of hours ordering one whisky after another
without any visible effect, and saying nothing. He then went home and
presumably to bed.

On Saturday evening he didn't show up at the hotel for dinner. I looked
in at the Third Avenue saloon just on the chance, and there he was in
the same place scowling at his drink. So I ordered one and stood there
scowling at mine likewise, making out not to notice him at all. This
night I was in luck because there was three young roughs in the place
who were pretty tight. They passed some remarks about Ackroyd because
they didn't like his high-toned style, but he didn't hear them.
Afterwards the three were scuffling in the back of the room and one of
them bumped against Ackroyd. He was just drunk enough and sore enough to
turn and cuss the fellow out, and all three of them were ready to mix it
up with him then.

That was my chance. I lined up alongside Ackroyd, saying I would see
fair play, and between us we stretched all three of them. We and the
bartender then threw them into the street. "Let's go over to the
Madison," he said; "I live there."

"So do I," I said. "We won't go into the Madison bar," he said. "I know
too many of those guys. I'm fed up with them. We'll go up in my room and
order a bottle."

That suited me all right. But even up in his room with a bottle of
Canadian Club between us, he had little to say. He apologised for being
such poor company, and I said: "That's all right with me. I don't feel
like talking myself." That caught his attention and he said: "So you're
feeling low, too, eh? What is it? Woman trouble?" I nodded, and he
thrust out his hand. "Put it there, fellow!" He filled up my glass and
his own. "After all, whisky's a fellow's best friend," he said.

I started to tell him the story I had made up about my girl's shipping
me. He listened with attention. When I came to the end he burst out:
"All these good women are alike: they must have their pound of flesh,
like Shylock. The men who treat women as mere playthings to be picked up
and dropped again when you're through with them are right! Love 'em and
leave 'em, that's going to be my motto hereafter, Once a woman gets
under your skin you're a goner; she'll crucify you!"

From that he went on to tell me a little about his own affair, but only
in general terms, no particulars. "I had a girl," he said, " and I went
all out for her. God I how I loved her! I was prepared to lie, to steal,
to kill for that woman, and she, O, she was the perfect lady throughout.
All this money that's rolling in on me I aimed to spend on her. It's
only a mockery now."

"Maybe she might change her mind now," I suggested. "No, she has plenty
of her own," he said. "She isn't mercenary. Only too goddamned ladylike!
She turned me down because I was too wicked and violent for her taste.
She wants a tame man."

"Did she have any special reason?" I asked. "O, I've done things I
wouldn't want her to know about," he said, " but she could have made
anything she wanted of me! The hell with her! She had ice in her veins!"

When she had read this far, Cynthia broke down in stormy weeping. "This
is intolerable!" she cried. "It's so wicked and untrue! O, I hate him
for it! I hate him!"

Lee reached for the report. "Why read any further?"

Cynthia clung to it. "I want to know the worst about him." She read on:
"There was always trouble between this girl and me," Ackroyd continued.
"I loved her too goddamned much, that was the reason. She couldn't
understand it. She didn't know that if she had given me love it would
have softened me like a magic charm. There was a certain obstacle in the
way that drove me savage."

"What kind of obstacle?" I asked. "Never mind," he said. "It was there.
Then it was unexpectedly removed and I thought everything would be all
right between us. But no! She backed and she filled; she blew hot and
cold. Finally she made up her mind that I was a crook and that was the
end."

"Were you a crook?" I asked with a grin. "Sure," he said, " aren't we
all?"

"What particular kind of crookedness was it that she jibbed at?" I
asked. The innocent-sounding question aroused his suspicions. " O,
everything," he said, and shut up like a clam. For a while I talked
about other things to smooth him down, and then I beat it.

E. B. H.

"This is worse than I had expected," murmured Cynthia. "There is a
phrase here: ' I aimed to spend this money on her.' That proves that
Siebert had been planning the crime for weeks."

"It is possible," said Lee.

"You were right about Mack Townley," she went on. "He didn't do it. What
Siebert said to this man is as good as a confession."

"I have expressed no opinion either one way or the other," said Lee.
"Let us keep open minds."

REPORT OF R. F. S.

THE Royal Typewriter Company has two service shops in New York. I
visited both of them without result. No employee could remember having
received an order to add an exclamation point to the keyboard of an old
Royal machine. Other Royal shops in the New York district are in
Brooklyn and Newark, N.J. In Newark I finally struck pay dirt. The
machinist in charge of repairs remembered the man who wanted an
exclamation point, though it was about two months ago, he said, when
this customer came in. It was fixed in the machinist's mind because the
order was an unusual one, and because the customer was such a
queer-looking guy.

His description of the man tallies with other descriptions of the man in
the yellow overcoat. The machinist said he brought the typewriter in
under his arm, and carried it out again when it was fixed. It was in bad
order and the machinist tried to get an order to repair it, or to sell
the customer a better machine. But he had no money, he said; all he
wanted was an exclamation point, "because he had to write dialogue." The
machinist tried to get in talk with him but he only gave curt answers.

The customer's actions were so mysterious the machinist thought maybe
the typewriter was stolen, and he checked it with the list of stolen
machines that is furnished to all branch offices. But the number wasn't
on the list. The serial number of the machine was 117284. It was of the
model that was put out in 1923 and had had hard usage. Scratched in the
paint on the under side of the frame were the words "Reliable O.S. Co."
The machinist said he thought his customer was from New York, because he
came and went in the direction of the tube station.

The New York telephone directory furnished the name of a Reliable Office
Supply Company on Sixth Avenue and I went up there on the chance. I was
in luck. This is the store where the man in the yellow overcoat bought
the typewriter; the date was November 8th. ("Two days after Gavin was
killed," remarked Lee.) The store, which is near the corner of
Forty-ninth Street, sells all makes of second-hand typewriters. The
salesman remembered this customer because of his queer appearance, and
because when he tried the machine in the store, though he could write
fairly fast, he used only his two forefingers in striking the keys. When
a remark was made about this he said he had taught himself to type. He
paid fifteen dollars for the old machine. The salesman offered to let
him have a boy to carry it home, but he said he didn't mind carrying it
himself; he didn't have far to go. A few minutes later he returned and
bought a box of typewriter paper and a dozen sheets of carbon. This
suggests that he had established himself somewhere near by.

I made inquiries in Forty-ninth Street. I got no line on his hangout, if
any, but I found where he had left an old pair of shoes to be patched at
a repair shop in that street. This was a week ago. I ought to have
assistance in watching the shop in case he comes for the shoes. It is
open from eight in the morning until eleven o'clock at night.

R. F. S.

AT the hospital Cynthia served as aide to the doctors of the
neurological clinic. Her job was to receive the out-patients, to enter
their names, to arrange for their appointments with the doctors, and to
keep up their case histories. Hundreds of cases passed through her hands
weekly, but they were still individual to her and human. Some of the
warped brains were very difficult to deal with; stubborn, suspicious,
full of fear and hatred of the world where they found themselves at such
a disadvantage. Cynthia laid it on herself to treat such cases with a
special patience.

The clinic was open in the afternoons only. As there was no regular
provision for social service in the hospital, Cynthia had volunteered
for the work which was especially necessary in connection with her
department. Most of her mornings were spent in visiting the homes of the
patients, to find out why they had failed to keep appointments with the
doctors, to follow up the progress of those discharged as cured, and to
investigate cases of illness reported by other patients. The funds
available for such work were limited; when they gave out, Cynthia drew
on her own well-filled pocket-book and kept no account of it.

Mrs. Rohan and her son Patsy were among the regular attendants at the
clinic. They had been coming once a week for a long time past. Both had
epilepsy. The mother, a widow, had the appearance of a normal woman, but
was crushed with misfortune and overwork; the boy was one of Cynthia's
most repellant cases. Subnormal mentally and physically, he was
seventeen years old, but except for the sprouting moustache on his lip
looked like a boy of twelve. There was a furtive glitter in his eye but
he scarcely ever spoke. At home there were other children whom Cynthia
had never seen. None of these children should have been born; but there
they were, and it was not their fault.

On Monday afternoon near closing time, Patsy turned up at the clinic
alone. The Rohans had no appointment that day. He hung about, peeping
around the corner of the corridor until Cynthia caught sight of him and
beckoned him to her desk. He slunk forward with his upper lip lifted
like a frightened animal's. "Mom's sick," he blurted out.

Cynthia drew a long breath in the effort to conquer her repulsion.
"What's the matter with her?" she asked. "I dunno. She's on the bed. She
can't get up. The kids is crying because they ain't eaten since
morning."

Cynthia glanced at her watch. "All right. You run home and tell your
mother I'll be there in a quarter of an hour. I'll give you money to buy
milk and crackers for the children to keep them quiet until I come."

Patsy cringed. "I better take you there," he said. "It's a hard place to
find."

"All right," said Cynthia. "Sit down until I'm ready."

The last of the patients had gone into the examination rooms. She made
haste to clean up her desk and file the case histories. The boy's veiled
glance never leaving her face made her vaguely uneasy. It was impossible
to guess what was passing through his mind-if he had a mind. He looked
like a stunted weed grown in arid soil.

They left the hospital together. In the street Cynthia hailed a taxi and
Patsy grinned. "I never rode in one of them before."

He gave an address in the North-east corner of the island which Cynthia
knew to be one of the most depressed areas in the city. After they had
started he said uneasily: "Tell the guy to stop at the corner of First
Avenue. If we was to stop in front of my house the street kids would
razz the life out of me."

Cynthia passed the word to the driver. She kept to her corner of the
cab. The boy was clean enough-his hard-working mother saw to that, but
he seemed to emanate a moral decay. Meanwhile he was enjoying the drive.
"When I get money," he boasted with a leer, "I'll drive around in a taxi
all day. And when I get hungry I'll go in a restrunt and order a T-hone
steak. And I'll take my girl to the movies."

Cynthia glanced at him in horror. "Your girl?"

"Sure, I got a girl."

"You'll have to work for the money," she said. "Aah!" he sneered. "It's
only the dumb clucks 'at works for wages. There's ways of getting the
jack without working."

Cynthia shivered inwardly. She felt that it was useless to try to reason
with him.

They got out on First Avenue and headed East. Cynthia had never visited
this particular block. The tenement houses were ancient and decaying;
some of them, condemned by the authorities, had their doors and windows
boarded up; occasionally a house had been pulled down, leaving a gap in
the row like a missing tooth. It had grown dark. The night was
unseasonably mild; doors and windows stood open; children were playing
in the streets. Patsy, glancing at the big boys in terror, pressed
against Cynthia.

She took his hand though his touch made her flesh crawl. Coming to a
small grocery store, she said: "I'll get milk and crackers here for the
children."

"Don't stop! Don't stop!" he said with an odd excitement. "After I take
you to my mom I'll come back and get it." They went on.

He led her into an old house whose greasy doorway was flush with the
sidewalk. Inside a dim bulb lighted a long narrow hall with a splintery
floor. A steep stairway went up at the side. Cynthia made for the
stairway, but the boy pulled her past it. "It's in the back," he said.
"We live in a backyard tenement."

The light of the single bulb scarcely penetrated to the back of the
hall. Suddenly Cynthia realised that something was wrong, and stopped.
She could see through an open door at the back of the hall. There was no
house in the rear, but only a littered yard, a broken fence and the rear
of a hoarded-up house fronting on the next street. "You have been lying
to me ... " she began. She got no further. There was a figure lurking
under the stairs. A heavy blow descended on her head, stunning her. She
did not lose consciousness altogether but all her faculties were
paralysed except that of hearing. The cellar door beside her was thrown
back and she was hastily dragged down the stairs. She could hear her own
heels thudding from step to step. The boy pulled the door shut and ran
down after her.

In the cellar she was flung on her face on the earthen floor and the man
knelt on her back, crushing the breath out of her. He drew a cloth of
some sort over her mouth. Her senses were returning to her. As she
opened her mouth to scream, he jerked the cloth between her teeth,
almost splitting her lips and choking off all sounds. He pulled her
hands behind her to tie them. "Light the candle," he growled.

A match was struck and a little light spread around. The boy placed the
stub of a candle on the earth. His sub-human face was wreathed in a
grin. Cynthia could not see the man who was holding her down. He said in
his husky whisper: "Set the yard door open."

The boy went away. The man was swiftly tying Cynthia's wrists and ankles
together. When the boy returned the man said: "Watch the cellar stairs."

"Nobody comes down here but the gasman," said the boy.

"Never mind. Watch the stairs."

"Where's my money?" asked the boy.

"Open her pocket-book."

After a moment the boy said: "There's only twenty-three dollars in it."

"All right, take it and get."

"You promised me a hundred," whined the boy.

"Get out!" growled the man.

The boy began to cry. "If you don't give me my hundred I'll tell!" he
wailed.

The man sprang to his feet with a muttered oath. The boy started to run,
but was overtaken in two strides. They had passed out of Cynthia's range
of vision, but she heard the sickly crack of something hard on a human
skull, and the soft collapse of a body on the earth.

The man returned to her. When he finished his knots he turned her over
on her back and then for the first, as he bent over her, Cynthia saw
him; the tall hulking frame in the shapeless yellow coat, the queer cap
pulled close over his head. He had a black handkerchief tied over the
lower part of his face; his glasses glittered in the candlelight, hiding
the expression of his eyes. Instinctively Cynthia screamed with all her
might, but only a strangled groan issued through the gag. The man pulled
a gun from his pocket, and showed it to her lying on his palm. "Keep
quiet," he whispered hoarsely, " or you'll get what the boy got."

Looking beyond her feet, she saw the pitiful thin figure sprawling on
the foul earth. Blood was running through his sparse hair. She became
quiet. She could not make noise enough to be heard; she wanted to save
her strength.

Stepping over her body, the man trod out the candle flame. Returning, he
took her under the arms and dragged her to a stone stair at the back of
the cellar. He dropped her here and went ahead to investigate.
Returning, he dragged her out into the open yard. As the back wall of
the tenement rose before her with lights in a score of kitchen windows,
Cynthia struggled with all her force and endeavoured to scream again.
The man struck her savagely and she became quiet. It was useless.

He dragged her across to the broken fence and, lifting her up, coolly
dropped her on the other side. Though he was such a big fellow, he was
panting from his exertions. This was the yard of the abandoned house. It
was heaped with piles of rubbish over which the man dragged her anyhow.
They came to another cellar door. He pulled her through it and down a
half stair, and, letting her fall on a cement floor, went back to shut
the door. It had glass panes, and the upper part of his body was
silhouetted against it. He lingered there, apparently stuffing the
cracks of the door to prevent any sounds from escaping.

At this moment Cynthia's heart was ready to break with despair. Bound
and gagged in the cellar of an abandoned house; at the mercy of an armed
madman! Then she discovered, that in her rough passage across the yard
the ropes around her ankles had loosened, and hope stirred in her again.
While the man was working at the door, she drew her legs up behind her,
and hooking fingers under a strand of the rope, managed to work it over
a heel. The rest was easy. When he came down the cellar steps her legs
were free.

He struck a match in order to find her. In the brief flash of light
Cynthia saw a dozen paces away, an open stairway leading up. She
scrambled to her feet and raced for it. The man came after her, cursing,
but his match went out and he couldn't stop to light another. He
sprawled over the bottom steps. Drawing his gun, he fired in the
direction of Cynthia's racing feet, but the shot went wild. Cynthia
gained the ground floor hall of the house and leaned against the wall,
trembling. The crash of the shot turned her blood to water.

Presently she heard him softly inching up the cellar stairs. Feeling her
way along the hall with her forehead, she came to an open door and
slipped through it. She discovered that all the doors and window sashes
had been taken out and stacked against the walls. At the top of the
stairs the man struck a match, but remained standing and listening,
uncertain which way Cynthia had gone.

The rope around Cynthia's wrists was partly loosened. Backing up to one
of the doors leaning against the wall, she hooked a strand of the rope
over the door handle and brought down her hands with a sharp jerk. The
pull almost dislocated her wrists, but the rope came off and her hands
were free. The man heard the sound, and started towards the door of the
room she was in, striking a match. Feeling her way around the wall, she
found another door and passed through it.

The man was following her and the dreadful thought came to her that he
had her trapped in a room with only one door. But there was another room
beyond it, and a fourth room beyond that. This was a front room; thin
cracks of light showed between the planks nailed in the window openings,
and sounds of the street came through, filling Cynthia with a sickness
of longing. She had loosened the gag until it fell around her neck but
she uttered no cry. Long before help could reach her from the outside,
the man with the gun would have been upon her.

This front room had a door opening on the main corridor of the house,
and she stood there listening. For some moments she had heard no sound
of creeping feet or striking matches, and she didn't know where the man
was. Listening somewhere, like herself. Cynthia's desperately sharpened
wits had figured out the ground plan of this house. She knew that the
cellar stairs were to the rear of the corridor and about forty feet from
where she stood. She had seen the man stuffing the cracks of the door
into the yard below, but she had not heard him lock that door.
Apparently he had no key to it. If she could reach it first, safety lay
on the other side. It was worth trying. She slipped off her shoes.

Nerving herself up for it, she dashed for the head of the stairs. The
man, waiting, somewhere in the rear, heard her and divined her
intention. He was nearer the stairs; they collided at the top and he
flung an arm around her. His panting breath was in her face. She sensed
that his gun was in his other hand. He was between her and the stairs.
Cynthia, with the strength of desperation, launched her body against
his, at the same time gripping the door frame. He toppled clutching at
her wildly. His hold was torn loose and he went over backwards. His gun
discharged as he fell.

An absolute silence succeeded the crash. Cynthia, listening, out of line
of possible further shots, prayed that he might be seriously injured.
Moments passed and she could hear nothing. Unable to bear the suspense,
she moved one of the doors to the head of the stairs and let it slide
down on its edge. It slapped over on the concrete below. So he was not
on the stairs. Cynthia went down a few steps and looked towards the rear
of the cellar. At the same moment the man struck a match to see what had
caused the clatter on the stairs. He was lying in wait for her at the
yard door, the only way out.

Drawing back out of sight, Cynthia softly returned to the front room on
the first floor. Picking up another door, she launched it on edge like a
battering ram against one of the planks over the window. The plank
creaked but held fast. Before she could strike a second blow she heard
him running up the cellar stairs. Dropping the door, she softly
retreated through the rooms into the rear. He ran straight through the
corridor into the front room, and joy welled up in her heart. The way
out was clear!

She ran down the stairs on stockinged feet, and across the cellar. He
had wedged a stick under the handle of the door to hold it fast, but it
was the work of a second to kick that aside, and she breathed the sweet
outer air again. She heard him plunging down the stairs, and scrambled
anyhow over the piles of rubbish in the yard; fell over the fence, found
the doorway to the house in front, and running through it, gained the
sidewalk. There were people standing about. She sank down fainting at
their feet.

WHEN Cynthia opened her eyes again it was to find the blessed Irish face
of a policeman bending over her. The people of the neighbourhood were
staring down at her curiously. "What happened, Miss?" asked the
policeman. "A man seized me," she stammered. "He dragged me into an
abandoned house in the next street. He killed Patsy Rohan."

A murmur of horror travelled around the circle. "What kind of man?"
asked the policeman.

"A big man. Wore a yellow overcoat, cap pulled down close over his
head."

Several voices spoke up at once: "I saw him! He come out of the house
and went down towards the river."

A radio car with two more policemen had drawn up at the curb alongside.
Word was passed to the driver and they set off to look for the man.

Cynthia's policeman asked: "Where do you live, Miss?"

Afraid of entering her own place alone, she gave the address of Lee's
apartment. "Amos Lee Mappin!" said the policeman, surprised. "I read
about him. I'll take you there."

A taxi was brought from First Avenue and they got in.

Lee lived on an upper floor of one of the lofty apartment houses
overlooking the East River. When they arrived at the door, he paled at
the sight of Cynthia's limp figure, and the arms that took her trembled.
He laid her on a couch in his living-room. The policeman told his story.
Lee asked a few pointed questions; made no comment. "Miss Dordress will
be available for questioning any time she may be needed," he told the
policeman.

When he had gone. Lee telephoned to Headquarters. He was told that
Inspector Loasby had gone to the station house of the 5th precinct to
direct the search for the murderer. Lee got him there and Loasby told
him that the man in the yellow coat had not been apprehended. He had
last been seen getting in a taxi which headed South on East River Drive.
A general alarm had been sent out for him. "That's not likely to produce
anything," said Lee. "He was disguised, of course. He will change it
now."

Loasby went on to say that the body of Patsy Rohan had been found in the
cellar. The boy's mother, who lived upstairs, was dazed by what had
happened. No suspicion attached to her in the minds of the police. "I'll
pay for the wretch's burial," said Lee. "Don't mention my name."

When the police had searched the abandoned house in the next street,
Loasby said, they found on the cement floor at the foot of the cellar
stairs, a small flat key with a number cut in the shaft, number 415. "A
hotel key?" asked Lee. "No. Hotel keys have the name of the hotel
engraved on them. This key is too small and thin for a room key."

"I'll come up and take a look at it," said Lee.

Returning to Cynthia he said: "The man has not been caught. Evidently he
worked single-handed. Watching the clinic for days past, I take it. In
the imbecile boy he found just the tool he needed."

"Why did he attack me?" murmured Cynthia. "I have never harmed him."

"He was afraid. We are getting too close to him. He doesn't know that I
have consulted the police. He thought if he could make away with you,
then with me, he would be safe. And O, God! How nearly he succeeded with
you! We might never have found you!" Lee struggled with his feelings.
"Did you have a small key marked 415?" he asked in his customary
matter-of-fact voice.

"No," she said. "Only my apartment key. That was in the bag they took."

"The brute will be desperate now," said Lee. "We must act quickly. I'll
send for Fanny to stay with you. Jermyn will take care of you both. You
are quite safe here."

"You are going out?" she said, freshly terrified.

"Only to see Loasby."

"O, Lee, be careful! If anything happened to you ...!"

"Don't worry," he said grimly. "If he tries anything with me, I'll be
ready for him."

Telling his man Jermyn to phone Miss Parran to come and stay with
Cynthia, and not to let anybody else into the apartment until he
returned, Lee taxied up to Harlem.

Loasby was in the Captain's private office, attended by Riordan, a young
detective who acted as his secretary and aide. Both were in plain
clothes. The handsome Inspector was angered by this dirty crime and
inclined to blame Lee for not having prevented it. Lee ignored his
ill-humour. As soon as Lee laid eyes on the key found by the police, he
said: "I know what sort of key that is. I have often used them. They are
for the lock boxes in railway stations where you drop a dime and check
your bag."

"They have such boxes in fifty places around town," said Loasby,
scowling.

"They are all put out by the same company. Phone quick to the head
office and ask where box number 415 is. Arrange to have a watch put on
it."

Riordan did the telephoning. "Pennsylvania Terminal," he reported. "Come
on!" said Lee, making for the door.

Loasby and Riordan followed. "It he's lost the key," Loasby grumbled, "
he won't go back to the box."

"Man," said Lee, "with a general alarm out for him, if his other clothes
are in that box, it's a matter of life and death for him to get them."

In a red police car with blue searchlight and screaming siren, they made
the Pennsylvania Terminal in nine minutes. In the local office of the
checking company they were faced by a frightened manager. "You're too
late," he stammered. "He's been and got his things. "I'm sorry! ... I
didn't know he was wanted."

Lee clenched his teeth together and silently cursed their ill luck.
"What sort of man?" demanded the Inspector.

The manager repeated the too-familiar description of the man in the
yellow overcoat. "He said he had lost his key," he went on. "He was in a
hurry to catch a train. He described everything that was in the box, and
offered to pay for a new lock. So I opened the box for him. That is our
rule."

"What was in it?" asked Lee.

"A yellow gladstone bag, sir, considerably scuffed and worn. It
contained a black vicuna overcoat, a black soft hat rolled up, a blue
cheviot suit, black shoes and socks, a white shirt that had been worn,
with collar attached, a blue tie, a tin box . . ."

"What was in the box?"

"I didn't ask him to open it."

"How long ago was this?"

"Less than half an hour, sir."

"Didn't strike you as strange," said the Inspector sternly, " that a man
looking like that should have such fine clothes in his bag?"

"I thought they were his Sunday clothes, Inspector."

"You should . . ."

Lee shut Loasby off. "I know why he chose the Pennsylvania station to
check his things. Downstairs they have rooms for the convenience of
travellers who may wish to change their clothes. He may still be there.
Come on!"

Lee, Loasby and Riordan hastened to the stairway on the North side of
the concourse and ran down. The spotless glass-tiled lavatory opened off
the basement corridor. It was lined down to the far end with a row of
little dressing-rooms, each having a mahogany door with a slot machine
in the lock to receive dimes. Halfway down the long row there was an
arched opening leading to another division of the lavatory. The
attendant of the place was standing near the entrance. Loasby gave him a
brief flash of the gold badge. "Have you seen a man in here during the
last half hour wearing a yellowish kind of overcoat?" he asked in a low
voice.

The man shook his head. "I got to watch the nickel side, too, Inspector.
I don't see them all."

"This was an unusual looking man, a hulking fellow, stoop-shouldered;
wore a leather helmet pulled down close over his head, thick spectacles;
was carrying an old gladstone bag."

"Yeah, I seen such a one," said the man suddenly. "Here, on the dime
side. He went into a box halfway down. It would be number nine, ten or
eleven. For all I know he's still there."

Before the attendant had finished speaking, a door in the middle of the
long row silently opened, and like a shadow, a tall man slipped across
the narrow space and through the opening into the other side of the
lavatory. He kept his head turned from them, and they could not see his
face. Black hat, black overcoat now, but the anxiety to escape
observation gave him away. "There he goes!" cried the Inspector.

He and Riordan instinctively sprang forward to look in the box he had
just vacated. Lee, figuring that the man would have to come out into the
corridor through the next opening, turned in the other direction to head
him off. "Stop that man!" roared Loasby to those beyond.

Lee collided with the running man in the next opening to the corridor.
The man was holding an arm over his face. He charged full tilt into Lee,
sending him sprawling on his back in the corridor while he sprang for
the stairs. When Lee got his breath, the man was disappearing around the
top of the stairs. Lee added his voice to the bellowing Inspector. "Stop
that man!" A whole row of bootblacks stopped work and leaped up the
stairs, brushes and rags in hand. The customers climbed out of the
chairs and followed. Up above the cry was taken up: "Stop that man!"

When Lee reached the great concourse above, he had another glimpse of
the man as he headed obliquely across for the doors leading to the outer
concourse. He was slimmer than Lee expected, and not stoop-shouldered at
all. Desperation was lending him the speed of a deer. A door obediently
opened for him and he disappeared through it. The cries were echoing
from end to end of the vast hall: "Stop that man!" Men came running from
every direction to join the chase. The crowd got tangled up in the
mechanical doors and the fugitive gained on them.

When Lee reached the outer concourse, the man had almost got to the
Thirty-first Street side of the building. Men directly in his path
scuttled out of the way, and fell in at a safe distance behind him. The
crowd was roaring. The fugitive was clever enough not to spring up the
wide stairs to the street where he would certainly have been caught.
Running under the stairway, he plunged down the steps leading to the
mezzanine corridor that bisects the huge building from side to side.
This is the busiest part of the terminal, with crowds pouring up from
the train platforms below, another crowd waiting to meet friends and
more hundreds passing to and from the subway and the taxi landings.

This huddle of people instinctively parted to let the running man
through, and none dared lay hands on him. The great crowd that pursued
him could not get through the crowd that already choked the corridor and
the man gained steadily. His progress was punctuated by the sharp
screams of the women he hustled. Running alongside Lee, the face of the
dignified Inspector had become purple. "If you catch him it means
promotion," he shouted to Riordan, and put out a hand to stop Lee. "Let
the young men run," he panted. "This is no work for us!"

"I'm not done yet," said Lee. He ran on, leaving Loasby.

Midway through the corridor, there was a side corridor leading in the
direction of the subway station a block away. The fugitive had passed
out of hearing and the pursuers halted irresolutely. Some said he had
headed for the subway, others said straight ahead. The main body decided
for the subway and started charging through the tiled corridor. It he
had gone that way, they would catch him on the platform. Lee thought,
and he, Riordan and a few others kept on towards the Thirty-third Street
side where the taxis waited. This part of the mezzanine was less crowded
at the moment.

While they were still fifty yards away, through the glass of the doors
leading to the taxi platform, they saw their man getting into a cab.
"Stop that man!" they yelled, but the taxi-driver either could not or
did not want to hear, and the cab whirled out of sight into the ramp
leading to the street. They piled into the next cab. They found the
first cab stopped at the head of the ramp by a red light. Coming up
behind it, they leaped out, each with a gun in hand. But the cab ahead
was empty. "The so-and-so jumped out and run down Eighth Avenue," said
the driver disgustedly. "I couldn't leave my cab."

In the crowded sidewalk of Eighth Avenue there was no sign of their man.
"He's smart enough to have run back into the station," muttered Lee.
Turning in through the Eighth Avenue entrance of the terminal, they
stood for a moment at the top of the great stairway, searching the outer
concourse. He was not to be seen. Half a dozen of the train gates were
open, and there were doors everywhere to the telephone room, the main
concourse, the different waiting-rooms. An ordinary looking man in black
hat and overcoat, it was child's play for him to lose himself in that
labyrinth. "He has diddled us," growled Lee.


LEE and Riordan joined Inspector Loasby in the police sub-station
attached to the Terminal. Loasby had the gladstone bag found in the
dressing-room. He had taken all the usual measures. There were already
twenty detectives in the station and more on the way. The half dozen
trains then ready to depart were held until they could be searched, and
men were placed at every exit from the huge building. Telegrams were
dispatched to all stations down the line. While they awaited the result,
Lee and the Inspector snatched a hasty and gloomy meal at the lunch
counter. They were not much surprised to learn when they had finished
that the fugitive had made a clean getaway. Loasby prepared to return to
Headquarters. "I'd be glad to have you with me," he said to Lee. "I'm
organising a search that will comb this town with fine teeth. Two heads
are better than one."

"All right," said Lee. "Let me telephone home first."

Jermyn told him over the wire that Miss Cynthia was all right. Miss
Fanny was with her. He had served their dinner and they had eaten well.
Nobody had called at the apartment. "Any telephone calls?"

"One, sir. About fifteen minutes ago a man called up. He wouldn't give
his name. Said his initials were R.F.S and that you would know him. The
voice was unfamiliar to me."

"That's all right," said Lee; " a new man that I have working for me.
What did he want?"

"Wanted to get in touch with you, sir. Said he had secured an important
piece of evidence that he must put in your hands to-night. I suggested
that he come to the apartment, but he said he had a man under
observation and he couldn't take the time to come up here. But he said
he was close to your office, and if you were going to be there any time
this evening, he could run over with it. He said he'd call up the office
at intervals to see if you were there."

Lee's glum face lightened a little. An important piece of evidence! This
R. F. S was a first-rate operative. "All right," he said to Jermyn.
"I'll go right over there and wait an hour for a call. If he should call
you again, tell him I'm there. He'll find the door of the building
locked, but there's a bell which rings in the hall. I'll come down and
let him in."

To Loasby, Lee said: "I've got to go over to my office for an hour. One
of the operatives is coming in. He says he has something. I'll see you
later."

"Okay," said Loasby.

Lee took a taxi for his office. He rented a suite in an old brownstone
dwelling in the Murray Hill section of Madison Avenue, that had been
converted into business offices. Strictly speaking, Lee was only an
amateur criminologist, but he paid the rent of this place rather than
have queer and unsavoury characters come to his apartment. He could
afford it. His quarters consisted of a large room across the front of
the second floor and two little rooms opening off it.

The building was locked up when he got there. Nobody stayed in it at
night. As he let himself into the dark stair hall the thought flitted
across his mind: Maybe I'm foolish to come here alone at night. He
thrust it away. Nonsense! I'm safely locked in here. If anybody rings
the bell I can look out of the window to make sure it's the man I want
to see before I go down. I'm armed, and I have the telephone. What could
happen to me? And anyhow the murderer is not going to try on anything
else to-night after the scare we gave him in the station!

Switching on a light in the lower hall, he climbed the old stairs with
their elaborate carved balustrade, and let himself into the front office
above. He switched on the lights and pulled down the blinds. Lee had
installed opaque blinds on the windows because when he had to work late
at night he didn't want to advertise the fact to the street. He hung his
coat and hat on a tree in the corner and switched on the telephone
extension so that he could take any call that might come on his own
desk.

Lee's little private office opened off the big room at the back. It was
windowless, but had its door on the corridor, so that Lee could slip out
that way it there were callers in the front room that he did not care to
see. This door had a spring lock; also it had a black shade drawn down
over the glass so Lee's light would not shine in the corridor. Opposite
the corridor door was a third door leading to a little room
corresponding to Lee's, where Fanny carried her work when she wished to
be undisturbed. This door was usually kept shut but was not locked. Lee
naturally left the door between the front office and his own room open
when he passed through it. He turned on a desk light and lit a cigar. On
his desk, where Fanny had left them, lay the newly-arrived proofs and
the type-script of his forthcoming book entitled Murder Without Reason.
It included half a dozen fantastic homicide cases that he had dug up. He
sat down at his desk and pushed the proofs aside while he waited for his
telephone call. He had a more pressing case on his mind now.

He drew on his cigar and allowed the smoke to escape slowly. The events
of the day forced him to take a new view of the matter. Up until now he
had had it at the back of his mind that the murderer of Gavin Dordress
was a hired killer. His recent acts suggested that he was the sole head
and front of the affair; a man who worked alone; of all types of
criminal the most difficult to run down. He appeared to be rendered
desperate by the failure of his schemes. Either that or he was an out
and out madman. Lee scowled. What could a logical mind do with a madman?
A new theory began to form in his mind, but he had no evidence to
support it. He glanced wistfully at the telephone. If the operative on
the trail of the old typewriter had really turned up something, perhaps
they could take the murderer in flank. Why didn't the fellow call up?

It was as quiet as a burial vault in the empty house. The windows were
closed and the noises from the street came in faintly. There is almost
no traffic in that part of Madison Avenue after nightfall; occasionally
Lee heard the purr of a taxi-cab and at longer intervals a motor-bus
rumbled past the house. From farther away came the dull vibration of the
Third Avenue El. There are no theatres or night resorts within hailing
distance of respectable Murray Hill.

Suddenly a cold fear struck into Lee's breast. He had heard no distinct
sound, but a sixth sense told him that there was somebody in the front
room. "Who's there?" he said sharply. No answer came. Only a silence so
intense that it seemed to breathe. He jumped up to go in, but thinking
better of it, switched off the light on his desk. Instantly an unseen
hand switched off the lights in the front room, plunging the whole suite
in darkness. Lee inwardly cursed the black window shades then. He thrust
a hand in his pocket only to remember that he had dropped his gun in his
overcoat pocket when he came out into Eighth Avenue. He crouched behind
his desk, sweating profusely. Fool! Fool! Fool! he thought. The eminent
criminologist is nicely trapped!

When his eyes became more accustomed to the darkness, he perceived that
there was a little light striking into the front room through the thick
glass of the corridor door. There was no shade on this door. He had left
a light burning in the entrance hall of the house, but there was no
light on the landing outside his suite. The light was very faint, but
sufficient to reveal anybody who might try to steal into his office from
in front. Lee was very sure that the man in front could not see him.

Keeping his eye on the door his hand stole up to the French telephone on
his desk, and silently lifted the instrument. The instant he put the
receiver to his ear he realised that the line was dead. There was no
response from the operator; the wires had been cut. Lee put the
instrument back on his desk. It made a little rap on the wood, and in
the front room a man softly chuckled. Lee shivered at the sound.

If the man was lying in wait for him just outside the door, there was a
possibility that he could creep around through Fanny's room and take him
in the rear. He could retrieve his gun on the way. Breathing with open
mouth to make no sound, he started creeping on hands and knees towards
the closed door. The ten feet was like a journey of ten miles, an inch
at a time, and a pause to listen. Arriving at the door, he had a still
more difficult task to open it without giving warning.

It finally swung in silently, and he dropped to hands and knees again.
He was familiar with the position of every object in Fanny's little
room. The door into the front room was standing open. Just outside it
stood a hat tree. When Lee stuck his head into the front room he
glimpsed against the faint light coming in from the corridor, a shadowy
form crouching outside the door of his private office. On the other side
of Lee hung his overcoat. He softly felt for the pockets-to find them
empty. The man had been before him there. Lee retreated into Fanny's
office trembling violently. It was the man's more than human daring that
cut the ground from under his feet. Thus to brave him on Lee's own
ground!

He got a grip on himself, and started creeping back to his own office,
meaning to try to escape through the door into the corridor. Suddenly
the top light flared on in his room. The man had been feeling around the
edge of the door for the switch. Lee snatched up a book from Fanny's
desk and flung it at the light. His aim was true; the lamp exploded, and
the little room was plunged in darkness again.

Lee went in there, closing the door after him. None too soon, for the
light blazed on in Fanny's room behind him. Lee flung himself on the
corridor door, but he was unable to open it. The key had been turned in
the ordinary lock, and taken away. At that moment the man in Fanny's
room swung a chair and smashed the glass in the door. Lee sprang into
the front room and turning about, got the corridor door open and slammed
it behind him.

He heard the man coming. He realised in a flash that he could not hope
to get down the hall and down the lighted stairs without receiving a
bullet in his back, and he turned up the stairs. Rounding the corner, he
lay down flat on the steps, holding his breath. The heavy ornamental
balustrade kept any light from falling on him. The man came charging out
of the front room. He had a handkerchief tied around the lower part of
his face, and a gun in his hand. As he ran he drew a second gun. He
paused at the head of the stairs.

Getting to his feet, Lee made a dash back into the front room. He
slammed the door and, turning the key in the ordinary lock, threw it
away. He heard the man coming and knew he would only have a second or
two. Running obliquely across the room, he flung up the outside window
of the four. At the same moment the glass of the corridor door crashed
and the man put his hand in to feel for the latch. But he could not open
the door; he was still held up for a few seconds.

Lee climbed out on the window sill. The street below was almost empty. A
taxicab sped past, and across the road he had a fleeting sense of a
couple staring at him, transfixed with astonishment. They couldn't help
him. Lee's figure was not well adapted for climbing, but under the spur
of desperation a man can perform wonders. Stretching his legs to their
widest, he found he could get a foot on the sill of the end window in
the next house. Still clinging to his own window frame, he got a grip on
the next frame, and drew himself across. The window was closed. Smashing
in the glass with his knee, he lowered himself into a dark room.

A door slammed back in the room and lights went on. Lee found himself
faced by an indignant man in the doorway with a gun in his hand. "What
the hell does this mean?" he demanded.

"Don't shoot!" said Lee. "There's a desperate criminal after me. For
God's sake, get out of this room and get the door shut!"

His voice carried conviction. The man backed out of the room and allowed
Lee to follow him. "Is there a key in this door?" asked Lee.

"Yes."

"Then for God's sake lock it! ... Is there any other way out of the
room?"

"No."

"Thank God!" Lee leaned against the door and closed his eyes.

"Are you crazy?" demanded the angry householder.

"No," said Lee with a weary grin. "Only a little out of breath."

"What's the explanation of this?"

"I'll tell you . . but please lead me to a telephone first."

There was a telephone in the back room on the same floor. While Lee was
using it, his involuntary host watched him suspiciously, gun in hand.
Lee called up Headquarters and got Loasby on the wire. "This is Lee
Mappin," he said. Hearing that name, the householder relaxed somewhat,
and lowered his gun. "The man was lying in wait for me in my own
office," said Lee.

"Good God!" ejaculated Loasby.

"He nearly got me, but I escaped into the house next door. Next door on
the South. It's the residence of Mr. . . ." He looked at his host.
"Sanderson." said he. "The residence of Mr. Sanderson," Lee went on to
Loasby. "For God's sake, furnish me with a guard, Loasby. And put a
guard in the foyer of my apartment house."

"Surely," said Loasby. "I'll have four cars there in a jiffy. We'll
surround the building where your offices are."

"Just as you like," said Lee, "but he'll be gone. Mr. Sanderson, I am
sure, will allow some of your men to pass through his house so they can
reach the rear of the building next door."

Sanderson was all friendliness when Lee hung up. The gun was put away.
"I know you by reputation, Mr. Mappin," he said. "What a terrible thing
to happen!"

"Yes, quite," said Lee. "It would be an act of charity, Mr. Sanderson,
if you were to offer me a drink."

ALMOST instantaneously, it seemed, the radio cars one after another drew
up silently in front of the house. Detectives came to Mr. Sanderson's
door, and Lee handed over the key of the adjoining house. Other men
passed through Mr. Sanderson's basement and climbed the back fence so
that they could command the rear of the office building next door. A few
minutes later Loasby came, and Lee told him in detail what had happened.
"So he thinks he can play with us at his pleasure!" said the angry
Inspector. "By God! I'll catch this fellow if it's my last act on
earth!"

"Surely!" said Lee.

The search, as Lee had expected, was in vain. The disappointed
detectives had presently to report that the man had gone, leaving no
trace except the glass he had broken. Apparently he had come out by the
front door and coolly walked away up the street before the radio cars
arrived. Loasby went back to Headquarters, and Lee returned to his
office, guarded now by two plain-clothes men, more conspicuous for brawn
than for brains. One was red-faced; one saturnine. Lee was his usual
calm self again. Except for the two broken panes no damage had been
done. Judging from the condition of the drawers of his desk. Lee guessed
that the man had been through his papers before he arrived; however,
everything of importance was locked in the safe.

The two officers effected a temporary splice in the cut telephone wires,
and Lee called up his operative, Smither, who signed his reports R. F.
S. He found him at home. "Smither," said Lee, " my servant tells me that
a man giving your initials called me up at my apartment this evening,
and said that he had discovered an important piece of evidence that he
wanted to put in my hands to-night. How about it?"

"Why, Mr. Mappin, it's all a fake!" said the surprised Smither. "I never
called you up. As a matter of fact, I haven't had any luck to-day. Our
man never came for the shoes."

"That is what I assumed," said Lee. "You are my principal dependence in
this case, Smither. Can you taxi right down to my office to talk things
over with me?"

"Surely, Mr. Mappin."

Smither was a small, meager man of fifty with a gloomy expression; no
genius, but a dependable fellow. He opened his eyes when he saw the
smashed doors. "Yes, our friend made a raid here to-night," said Lee.

"The man in the yellow overcoat!"

"The very same. We've got the overcoat but we haven't got him."

"What a nerve!" murmured Smither. "Are the police on his trail?"

"They are," said Lee. "But I feel that they will never catch up with him
from behind. It's up to you and me to come on him from an unexpected
quarter. You haven't located his hangout?"

Smither shook his head.

Lee gave him a cigar and took one himself. He paced the little room
thoughtfully, talking as much to himself as to Smither. "Let's see what
we've got. You traced him to a store on Sixth Avenue near Forty-ninth
Street. We have established the fact that his hangout is within two or
three minutes walk of that store. It wouldn't be on Sixth Avenue. With
the elevated railway banging past his windows and the subway diggers
drilling underneath, it would be impossible for a man to work there even
if he was only doing copying. Forty-ninth Street is our best bet;
Forty-ninth Street West of Sixth Avenue. East of Sixth the rents are too
high. Well, you made inquiries up and down Forty-ninth Street and all
you found was a pair of old shoes."

"The shoes are out of my hands now," remarked Smither. "Headquarters has
men watching the store all the time it is open. They have arranged with
the man who runs the store to signal them if anybody presents a ticket
for those shoes."

"Right," said Lee. "But he will never call tor them now . . . Let me see
... Forty-ninth Street is the regular route from Broadway over to Radio
City and the sidewalk is full all day. Consequently the character of the
street has changed very rapidly during the last year of two. Little
modern store fronts have been put in all along the way. But above the
stores most of the old buildings remain as they were. That block in
Forty-ninth Street was always rather miscellaneous. There are some queer
lodgings in those old buildings, Smither, and I am sure that is where
our man had one of his hangouts."

"One of his hangouts?" questioned Smither.

"His yellow overcoat hangout. The overcoat was part of a disguise, and
he only used that room when he was wearing it. ... Did you examine the
shoes?"

"Yes, sir."

"What did you get from them?"

"Nothing that I could use, sir."

"Old shoes are full of character."

"Sure, they are. But they don't tell you where the wearer's hangout is."

"Ordinarily, no. Still I think it's worth a trip up to Forty-ninth
Street. Let's go take another look at those shoes, Smither."

"Okay, Mr. Mappin."

One of the brawny detectives went with them, the red-faced one, the
other being left on guard in Lee's office. The three men descended from
their taxi at the Sixth Avenue corner and started West through
Forty-ninth Street. The shoe repair shop was not far. It was one of the
usual sort, presided over by an Italian padrone. It had a lot of
shoe-repairing machinery in the show-window, and in the rear a
boot-black stand on one side and on the other a row of boxes where
customers waiting for their shoes might sit, modestly hiding the holes
in their stockings.

Smither was known to the Italian in charge of the place, and he brought
out the shoes on request. A unique pair of shoes, bright yellow in
colour, and made on a toothpick-pointed last such as one doesn't see
outside of France nowadays. "He wore these on his earlier forays," said
Lee. "They went well with the rest of the outfit."

"A foreign guy," put in the Italian, " no Americano like us."

While Lee was examining the shoes, the detective on watch outside came
in with a questioning air, showing how good a watch he was keeping. He
and the other detective established contact, and the first man went back
to resume his vigil. "Almost ready to go to pieces," said Lee,
inspecting the shoes. "He picked them up second-hand somewhere. Look as
if they hadn't been cleaned since. Resoled more than once, and are near
ready for another."

"I tella him a need new sole," said the Italian. "Only want little
patches, he say. Gotta no mon'."

Lee turned the shoes over. "It would be interesting to analyse the black
scum that forms on the soles of New York shoes," he said. "I suppose the
constituents are dust, soot and machine oil. No more horse manure . . .
Look, here's a bit of foreign matter glued to the sole." He borrowed a
knife and, scraping the particle off on a bit of white paper, studied it
through a magnifying glass. "It's so saturated with the black scum I
can't tell. . . . Here's another bit, fresher, clinging to the inside of
the heel. Sawdust, Smither; what do you make of that?"

Smither shook his head.

Lee pursued his examination with the glass. "There are other particles
of sawdust caught between the welt and the sole; some fresh, some
blackened with dirt. Smither, this man walked in sawdust on a number of
occasions spread over a considerable period of time. Where would you
find sawdust in New York?"

"In a planing and finishing mill."

Lee shook his head. "Take a look through the glass. These are coarse
flakes of sawdust, like that chewed out by a big saw when it goes
through a log."

"There are no logs sawed up around New York."

"Quite so. But the sawdust like this is shipped to the city for a
variety of purposes." Lee studied for a while murmuring to himself:
"Sawdust underfoot.. sawdust underfoot . . . Smither," he said, raising
his head, " sometimes a storekeeper with a nice tile or mosaic floor
spreads sawdust in wet weather to protect it from the muddy feet of his
customers."

"That's right, sir."

"There's been a lot of rain this fall. Let's see what we can find in
Forty-ninth Street."

"But it's fine to-night, sir."

"Never mind, we can ask questions."

To make a long story short, they found three modern stores in the long
block that had such floors. The first was a sandwich shop, the second a
fancy fruiterer's and the third a high-class delicatessen. The sandwich
shop did not use sawdust in rainy weather, but the other two did. There
was a sack of the same kind of sawdust in the back of the delicatessen
store. But the proprietors of both these stores insisted that they had
never seen nor served a person answering to the description of the man
in the yellow overcoat. "No luck!" Smither said dejectedly, as they came
out of the delicatessen.

"O, I wouldn't say that," returned Lee. He was standing on the sidewalk
looking up at the windows over the store. Whoever had put in this modern
store had not considered it worth while to recondition the rest of the
house. It had a shabby air. "I didn't expect to find that the man dealt
with these stores. They're too expensive."

"Then what was your object in asking, sir?"

"Just to give me a chance to look around. . . . Notice that the man who
designed this store," he went on, " in order to get as much frontage as
possible for the show-window, put in the store door at the side. The
little entry to the door has a nice tiled floor and of course the
storekeeper would spread his sawdust on it, because that would be the
spot to get most of the mud from the feet of the customers. But that
little entry also leads to the door serving the upstairs part of the
house. Look at that door, Smither."

It was a modern door in conformity with the rest of the store front.
Inside the glass was pasted the word: Vacancy. "Let's go up," said Lee.

He pressed the bell, and the door was opened by a push button from
above. The landlady, a chronically suspicious woman like most of her
profession, waited for them at the head of the stairs. She was surprised
at the request of three prosperous-looking gentlemen to look at rooms at
that hour, but proceeded to show them the best she had, a large,
shabbily-furnished, second floor front. "Isn't this a very noisy
street?" said Lee.

"Nothing out of the ordinary, sir. Only automobile traffic. The El is
too far away to trouble you."

"I am a literary man. I must have quiet."

"I already have a literary gentleman, sir. He works here especial for
the quiet. Third floor hall. His home is in Jersey."

Lee's calm eye lighted up inwardly. Otherwise his face showed no change.
"What does he write?" he asked idly.

"I couldn't tell you that, sir. He's a foreign gentleman, a Polack, I
should say. Speaks broken. But always the gentleman."

"What's his name-not that it matters."

"Jan Dubinski, sir."

"Ah! Does he by chance wear a yellowish overcoat when he goes out?"

"Why, yes, sir! A foreign-made overcoat. So you know him!"

"Slightly. Can we trouble you to show us his room?"

"I can't do that, sir. He locks it when he goes out."

"But you must have a key in order to clean it."

"No, sir. He don't sleep here. He sweeps it himself when necessary."

"Then we must force the door. We are from the police department. We are
interested in Mr. Dubinski. I will pay for any damage we do."

The Headquarters detective flashed his badge.

The woman's hand went to her mouth. "O, dear, I don't want no trouble!"
she murmured. "Such a quiet man!"

"Calm yourself," said Lee. "If this is the man we want, it doesn't
reflect on you at all. Please show us the room."

She led the way up two more flights and pointed to a door in front. The
detective rattled it. The old door was loose. "I want a strong
screw-driver," he said; "or a chisel, or any thin tool. A poker will do
if you've got nothing better."

She fetched him a poker and he forced the door expertly. "What was your
profession before you joined the force?" asked Lee mildly.

Gum-shoes didn't get it. "Truck-driver," he said without a smile.

This was a tiny room, the cheapest in the house. It contained a narrow
bed, a scarred bureau, a kitchen table and chair by the window. The
floor was covered with a dusty carpet having most of the nap worn off.
On the table stood a typewriter, and Lee went to it straight. There were
sheets of paper alongside; he put one in the machine and struck a few
keys. The worn letters and the new exclamation point were instantly
recognisable. "This is the typewriter," said Lee, " and your lodger is
the man we're looking for."

"O dear," she said. "What's he done?"

Lee didn't want to give the woman a fit by mentioning murder. "I can't
tell you. Read the papers." He pulled out the drawers in the bureau.
They were perfectly empty. There was a shallow drawer in the table.
Nothing there but more blank sheets of paper and carbon paper. "Look
under the mattress," he said to Smither. "Feel under the carpet all over
the room."

Smither, having done so, shook his head. "I have reason to believe he
has something hidden here," insisted Lee.

"Where else is there to look, sir, in such a dump?"

"Examine the mattress," said Lee. "Make certain that it has not been
ripped open and sewed up again." Meanwhile, with his magnifying glass,
Lee was examining the woodwork of the room; door frame, baseboard,
window frame and sill. The top floor window in this old house was close
to the floor. He discovered that the old paint in the cracks of the
window-sill was broken. "This board has been taken out at some time," he
said. "See if you can pry it up with your poker, officer."

The sill came up with unexpected ease. Beneath it, in the narrow space
between lathes and brick, a thin package wrapped in newspaper was
standing on edge. Upon being opened, it was found to contain a carbon
copy of the play Sin, in the same worn type. Lee, who expected this,
scarcely glanced at it. But in the hole there was also a long manilla
envelope and he pounced on that. It contained a sheaf of letter-size
sheets covered with miscellaneous typewritten notes. The first entries
told Lee what a find he had made, and he smiled at last. "This is worth
all our trouble," he said softly to Smither. "With this we will send him
to the chair!"

"We got to catch him first," said Smither gloomily, "What is it, sir?"

"The contents of Gavin Dordress' note-book. That note-book was missing
after the murder. The murderer dared not keep the book itself, but he
copied it out before destroying it. Notes for plots, for characters, for
scenes. He needed that in the future."

"If the book is destroyed can you prove in court that these notes came
out of it?"

"I reckon so," said Lee, folding the papers. "I'll study the entries at
my leisure.. .. Hello! here's something else." He drew out a small ruled
sheet perforated along one edge. "A page from the note-book itself! So
much the better!"

"What funny-looking writing," said Smither, looking over Lee's shoulder.
"It's a kind of puzzle, isn't it? I can't make nothing of it."

"He couldn't either," said Lee. "And he saved it until he could. He
thought, because this one entry was written in cipher, that it must be
specially important to him. Maybe it is. I'll have a try at deciphering
it when I get home."

He returned the papers to the envelope, and stowed the envelope
carefully in his breast pocket. "That will be all," he said cheerfully.
"We will have to carry away all these papers; also the typewriter. The
officer will give you a formal receipt for them, ma'am. . . . And please
accept this from me for your trouble."

It was a twenty dollar bill. The astonished woman stammered her thanks.
She was not prepared for such liberality from the police.

From the delicatessen store Lee called up Headquarters. "Loasby," he
said, "do you have Hillman, Gavin Dordress' former butler, under
surveillance?"

"I have."

"Can you get in touch with the man who is watching him?"

In two minutes."

"Good, "I'm about to telephone Hillman to ask him to come to my
apartment. If he comes, all right. If he tries to escape, he's to be
arrested instantly."

"I get you, Lee. Want me up there?"

"Yes, please. I have important new evidence. Give Hillman time to get
down town first. Bring the old gladstone bag and its contents with you."

"Right. I'll be at your place in three-quarters of an hour."

Lee then called the Harvest Restaurant in the Bronx. Hillman himself
answered the phone. "Hillman," said Lee, " could you oblige me by coming
down to my apartment?"

After a silence Hillman said nervously: "Why certainly, Mr. Mappin. I'll
get my wife to relieve me here. Am I to come to the front door or the
service entrance, sir?"

"The front door," said Lee. "Take a taxi."

THE three men taxied over to the East River. The theatres were not yet
out and they made good time. Driving through the streets they could hear
newsboys calling extras with the latest news of the attack on Cynthia
Dordress and the search for the man in the yellow overcoat. Lee,
thoughtfully rolling an unlighted cigar between his lips, stared out of
the window the whole way without seeing anything.

When the cab drew up in front of his house he glanced at his two
companions. "You boys had better come up with me. I may need you."

They entered the house. There was another Headquarters man waiting in
the lobby. The two detectives passed each other without any sign of
recognition. Upstairs, when Jermyn opened the door, Lee heard a murmur
of men's voices in the distant living-room and his face hardened. "Who's
here?" he whispered. "Mr. Townley, Mr. Gundy and Mr. Ackroyd."

Lee's eyebrows went up. "I told you not to let anybody in the
apartment!"

"But your intimate friends, sir," protested Jermyn. "They said they'd
wait until you returned. I didn't like to take it on myself to . . ."

Lee smoothed his ruffled feathers. "All right . . . Have they seen Miss
Cynthia?"

"No, sir. I told them she was indisposed. The young ladies are together
in the guest-room."

"Did the men come together or singly?"

"Singly, sir. Mr. Townley came first."

"Put this typewriter out of sight under your bed. Take these two
gentlemen through the kitchen into your room. Feed them, if they're
hungry, and give them a drink. Keep your voices down. I don't want
anybody to know they're here."

"Yes, sir."

The three men disappeared silently through the pantry door; Lee
proceeded through the long gallery. His vast square living-room was
lined on two sides with windows looking East over the river and South
over the town. Siebert Ackroyd had opened a french window on the balcony
above the river, and was standing in the opening, looking out; Emmett
Gundy, seated on a sofa, was turning the pages of a magazine; Mack
Townley paced nervously back and forth with his hands behind him. The
first unbidden thought that flitted through Lee's mind was: Fine,
upstanding men, all three of them-but . . .!"

"Lee!" they cried out together, all starting for him. Siebert with long
strides reached him first. All three talked at once.

"Is she hurt. Lee? O God, when I read that terrible story I had to
come!"

"Me, too! What a dastardly attack! Fortunately I was able to keep the
news of it from Bea or she would never have been able to go on
to-night."

"Have they caught the brute. Lee? The police are so dumb!"

Lee waved his hands. "One at a time! . . . Cynthia is not injured except
for a bruise or two. But she has had a nasty shock. The man has not been
caught, but the police have hopes."

"Could I see her?" pleaded Emmett. "I know it's a lot to ask. But if I
could see her only for a moment."

Siebert glared at him angrily, and Emmett turned his back on him. The
mere presence of Siebert in the same room always made the
carefully-arranged Emmett look his age. Emmett knew it, and it made him
vicious. He glanced in a convenient mirror and stroked his moustache.
That, at least, looked young. "I expect she's gone to bed," Lee said
mildly. "But I'll find out. You boys will have to excuse me for a few
moments. A cable has come that I must decode." Lee went to the
bookshelves and abstracted a thin volume, much worn. "My code book," he
said pleasantly. He took care to conceal the cover of the book under his
arm as he went out.

Crossing the gallery, he opened the door to the corridor, which served
the bedroom wing of the apartment. He knocked at the end door and Fanny
opened it. She smiled, and opening the door wider, showed him Cynthia in
the bed. Her long curved lashes lay on her pale cheeks; all the wear and
tear of the day was wiped out of her face; her breast was gently rising
and falling. Lee nodded in satisfaction and was turning away when she
awoke. "Lee!" she said. "Thank God! you're home. I was so worried."

Lee had no intention of relating his escape. "Nonsense!" he said. "I was
guarded on every side by big strong detectives . . . How do you feel?"

"All right."

"Siebert and Mack and Emmett have come to ask for you. Do you want to
see them?"

"Siebert!" she cried, with all her heart in her voice-then quickly shook
her head. "No, I don't want to see anybody," she said sullenly.

"Very well, my dear. Finish out your sleep."

Lee entered a little study that adjoined his bedroom, and seating
himself at the desk, switched on a lamp. The book under his arm was a
manual of the language of the ancient Phoenicians. Opening it at the
page illustrating the Phoenician alphabet, he laid the leaf from Gavin
Dordress' note-book beside it, and started to translate it on another
sheet. The first words gave him a clue to the whole. His jaw dropped, he
stared incredulously at the page, then went on putting down the modern
characters rapidly.

Alone in his own room with the door shut, he had no need of putting a
guard on his face. Amazement, horror and a grim satisfaction succeeded
each other there. He finished the last letter with a stab of his pencil,
and seizing original and translation, jumped up and, slipping them in
his pocket, started back for the living-room. At the door of the study a
new thought came to him. Turning in the other direction, he knocked
again on Cynthia's door. His face was as expressionless as wood then.
Cynthia was awake; the two girls were talking quietly. Lee when it
suited him could lie as smoothly as any man in Christendom. When Fanny
opened the door, he said: "I've just had a telephone message. The man
has been caught."

Cynthia's face flushed very pink and paled again. "Thank God!" she said.
"Then he can do no further harm."

Fanny, studying Lee, said nothing. She knew her employer better than
Cynthia did. "If I have him brought here," said Lee, " do you feel able
to face him for the purpose of identification?"

"Why, certainly," Cynthia said quickly. "I'm all right. I want to do my
part. I'll get dressed at once."

"No need of that," said Lee. "Dressing-gown and slippers will do. You
will only be wanted for a moment. I'll let you know."

As he was leaving them he heard the bell ring and when he got out into
the corridor, Jermyn was at the door. The visitor was not Hillman nor
Loasby, whom Lee expected, but a veiled woman. He saw Jermyn start back.
The woman, catching sight of Lee, pushed past the servant throwing her
veil back. It was Gail Garrett. So broken was she, so haggard, so
careless in her dress, that Lee did not recognise her until she had
almost reached him. She appeared to be almost beside herself. "Lee! That
ghastly story in the papers. How is the girl? I could not rest until I
had found out." The once glorious voice had a raucous edge on it; her
utterance was slurred as if she had been drinking or was under the
influence of a drug. Lee looked at her in grim pity. "Cynthia's all
right," he said. He stepped to the door of the living-room and closed
it.

Gail clapped her hands to her head. " O, God, Lee! do you think I hired
that brute to kill Gavin, and then attack the girl? I cannot bear my
life! I cannot bear it!"

Lee shook his head. "Once I may have had that possibility in mind. I
know better now." She dropped in a chair against the wall of the gallery
and drew the back of her hand across the forehead, staring. Her moods
were as changeable as water. "What does it matter?" she said, in a dead
voice. "I'm done for. I don't know why I came here."

Lee's thoughts went back to the dazzling Gail Garrett bowing and smiling
on the stage in response to a roar of applause.

Her voice became urgent again. "Lee let me see the girl for a moment.
Just a little moment. Let me go down on my knees and beg her to forgive
me. She couldn't refuse! She's a woman, too. She has a heart. Oh God,
Lee, I loved him so! I can't bear my life! Let me see the girl."

Lee shook his head. "It wouldn't do any good. You must remember she
knows you plotted to kill her father. That's not easy to forgive. Better
leave it to time."

Gail got to her feet unsteadily. " O well, it doesn't matter. I'm done
for. I've got no friends."

"I'll look you up when I get this business out of the way," said Lee.
"Something can be done."

She was on her way to the door. "Don't bother," she said.

The bell rang again, and Jermyn was opening the door. This was Hillman,
the ex-butler. At sight of him Gail cried out sharply: "What are you
doing here? Are you following me? Is this a trap?"

The gaunt Hillman, terrified at the sight of her, turned as if to run,
but Jermyn was at the door behind him, blocking the way. "No, no. Miss,"
he stammered. "I didn't expect to find you here."

"I don't care," said Gail recklessly. "My money's all gone. You can't
get another cent out of me. So publish and be damned!"

"No, Miss, no!" protested Hillman.

Lee, sharply interested, came forward. "Publish what?" he asked.

"My letters. Last year I wrote some indiscreet letters to Gavin. He tore
them up and threw them in his waste-basket. This worm recovered the
pieces and putting them together, started blackmailing me by threatening
to sell the letters to a tabloid. When he got the notion of starting a
restaurant I had to pay him thousands."

"So that's why you paid!" murmured Lee. "Well, I'll be damned. It had
nothing to do with Gavin's death!"

"No! This was before," said Gail impatiently. She turned on Hillman
again. "Go ahead and sell the letters. You can't do me any further
harm."

"No," whined Hillman. "I want you to have the letters. I been twice to
your hotel to give them to you, but they wouldn't let me see you. I
didn't dare trust them to a servant. Here, Miss, here!" He was offering
her a little packet wrapped in paper.

Gail stared at him uncertainly, took the packet; opened one end of it;
pulled out a letter; counted the rest, and thrust the packet in her
handbag. "It's too late," she muttered. "These can't help me."

Lee was angry. "Well, by God! that restaurant is rightfully yours," he
said.

Hillman faced him in terror. "No! No! Mr. Mappin," he cried, "-if you
take it from me it will be no good to nobody! I'll pay! I'll pay her
every cent I got off her. I'll pay a hundred a week, maybe more later."

Gail cursed him indifferently. "What's a hundred a week to me, you
worm!"

"Take it!" Lee urged her. "Go to a sanatorium and recover your health;
make a come-back on the stage. You have plenty of friends; you are not
forgotten."

Gail shrugged indifferently. "It's not worth the trouble. Life is too
tedious to endure!"

She went on to the door, and Jermyn let her out. "Just the same I'll
hold you to that promise," Lee said sternly to Hillman. "A hundred
dollars a week to Miss Garrett. The first week you default you'll be
clapped in jail."

"O, Mr. Mappin, I will never default!" vowed Hillman. "I want to do the
right thing. Mr. Mappin, I went into this business very unwillingly.
Nobody knows how I suffered while it was going on."

"You took the money."

"I'm not a bad man, Mr. Mappin."

"There might be two opinions about that."

"It was my wife forced me to do it. She's ambitious."

"You can go," said Lee.

Hillman did not immediately obey. "Mr. Mappin, was it for this reason
that you sent for me?"

"No. I knew nothing about your blackmailing operations until now."

"Why did you want to see me, Mr. Mappin?"

"Well," said Lee grimly, "I had a notion to try an overcoat on you, but
I've learned since I phoned you that it doesn't fit."

He went on into the living-room. Hillman looked after him full of
suspicion and fear. "Now then, look sharp!" said Jermyn at the door.
Hillman slunk through it with his head over his shoulder, expecting a
kick. "I wouldn't soil my shoes," said Jermyn.

Lee entered the living-room with a wooden face. "Sorry to keep you boys
waiting," he said; "I had a visitor."

"That's all right," they murmured variously.

"Cynthia had gone to bed. But she said she'd come in for a minute. You'd
better wait."

"That's splendid!" said Emmett. "Bea will feel better if I can take her
a first-hand report," said Mack.

Siebert said nothing.

Lee glanced covertly in the faces of his three "friends" when they
weren't looking. It was impossible to tell anything about them. Men
learn very early to hide their feelings; some from babyhood. A man's
best friends are strange to him. I never had but one real friend,
thought Lee; well, that was a lot. In order to fill in the strained
silence he heard himself saying: "The market was a little off at the
close."

They all stared. Mack said bluntly: "Have you gone nuts, Lee?"

"I shouldn't be surprised," said Lee. "Why?"

"Who the devil cares about Wall Street at such a moment?"

"One must say something."

Lee was deeply excited. He surreptitiously wiped his face. His ears were
stretched for the sound of the doorbell. He kept glancing at his watch.
Why the hell didn't Loasby come? No one could have guessed from his mild
face that he was churning inside.

Emmett, to fill another uncomfortable pause, asked Mack how business was
at the theatre. "Couldn't be better," growled Mack. "Fifty or more
standees nightly. At every matinee we turn hundreds away."

"It's the title that attracts the women," said Emmett.

At last the sound of the doorbell. Lee stood up. He heard the rumble of
Loasby's deep voice in the gallery, and presently the Inspector entered,
carrying the old scuffed gladstone bag. Lee introduced him. "This is
Inspector Loasby, gentlemen. Mr. Gundy, Mr. Ackroyd-Mack Townley you
know."

Hands were shaken all around. Lee watched the faces. "By God!" said
Mack, "is that the bag the fellow left in the lavatory? Let's see what's
in it, Inspector."

The bag was opened out flat on a table and the shapeless yellow overcoat
taken out and exhibited; the curious leather helmet, the rumpled suit;
broken shoes, spectacles. There was a small tin make-up box with sticks
of grease-paint, cold cream, etc. Lee, glancing in the faces bending
over these things, could see nothing showing there but simple curiosity.
He said: "Notice how cleverly the shoulders and back of the overcoat
have been padded to alter the wearer's figure."

"Then he wasn't such a big fellow after all," said Mack.

"Tall," remarked Lee. "One of you fellows try it on."

"I'm damned if I will!" said Siebert.

"Maybe it's lousy," said Mack, drawing back.

"Nothing doing!" said Emmett.

Lee looked Emmett up and down speculatively. "Seems as if it was about
your size. Try it on."

"No. Put it on yourself."

"I'm too little," said Lee. He glanced at Loasby.

"Put it on, Mr. Gundy," barked the Inspector in his official voice.

Emmett's face turned greenish. "Well, if you insist," he said with a
ghastly grin. He wriggled into the overcoat, and Lee noted how snugly
the padding fitted over his shoulders and back. They pulled the leather
helmet over his head. The thick glasses changed his whole expression.

"This dirty-looking grease-paint was to make his face cadaverous," said
Lee. He started rubbing it into Emmett's cheeks. "Brown for an unshaven
chin. I can't take the time to make a perfect job of this, but it will
give you an idea."

"Don't mind me," said Emmett, bringing out a laugh. "Always glad to
afford amusement to my friends."

Lee noted that he was breathing as quick as a wounded animal; and saw
how the sweat oozed through the grease-paint on his face. Emmett was
grinning like a man on the rack. Lee unobtrusively pressed a button in
the wall. Returning, he added a few finishing touches to his work. "What
have I got to do?" asked Emmett, laughing. "Act in a charade?" Nobody
answered him.

When Lee heard Jermyn coming in the gallery he went to meet him at the
door of the room and told him in a low tone to ask Miss Cynthia to come
in. Afterwards he was to fetch out the two men from his room and let
them wait in the gallery until wanted. "Now can I take off this rig?"
asked Emmett.

"In a minute," said Lee.

Cynthia came in quickly, followed by Fanny. Cynthia was wearing a blue
cashmere negligee of Fanny's trimmed with swansdown, which gave her an
ethereal appearance. Every man in the room caught his breath at the
sight of her. Having been warned, she was not startled at the sight of
the man in the yellow overcoat. She looked him up and down gravely.
Emmett turned rigid at the sight of her. His hand stole to his throat.
He seemed to be trying to speak, and could not. "Is this the man who
attacked you this evening?" asked Loasby.

"I think so," she said doubtfully. "There is something different about
him . . . No, Inspector, this man has a moustache and that other had a
shaven lip."

"Pardon me," said Lee, "I forgot that." He turned to Emmett. The latter
threw an arm over his mouth, but Loasby pulled down both his arms from
behind and held them. The trim little moustache came away in Lee's hand
with a couple of pulls. "It's false," he said. "In disguising himself he
reversed the usual procedure. Rather clever of him."

"That is the man," said Cynthia. "I am certain of it now."

Fanny slipped an arm through Cynthia's and the two girls went out.

"I can produce a dozen more identifying witnesses," murmured Lee.

There was a silence in the big room. Siebert and Mack were staring at
Emmett, dazed. Loasby was the first to speak. He said, with a curious
mixture of admiration and chagrin: "Nice work. Lee. Like the Mounties,
you always get your man."

Lee, with a look of pain, threw up his hand. "This was more than just
another case, Inspector."

No sound came from Emmett. Loasby had released his arms. Suddenly with
the quickness of an animal, he sprang for the open window. The river was
two hundred feet below. Loasby grabbed him, but he slipped through.
Siebert thrust out a foot and he crashed to the ground. They seized him.
He struggled silently, like a madman, with the strength of three. Loasby
drew his gun and, reversing it, struck him on the head with the butt.
Emmett went limp. Smither and the headquarters detective ran in. "Have
you got handcuffs?" Loasby asked his man. "Yes, sir."

"Put them on him, and carry him out into the gallery. Phone down to the
lobby for Williamson to come up. Get a car to take this fellow to
Headquarters."

Again there was a silence in the big room. The men looked at each other,
unable to comprehend that it was all over. Siebert murmured: "Gavin was
Emmett's friend for twenty-five years!" After a moment, he added: "I
can't seem to get it straight. Lee. What about the play?"

"It was Gavin's play. That's what Emmett killed him for. Emmett copied
it, making a few unimportant changes, and sent it to you under the name
of John Venner."

"Good God, Lee! Do you blame me for my part in marketing it?"

"Did you know it was Gavin's play?"

"No! I'm not a literary man, I'm an agent!"

"That lets you out. Lee looked at Mack sombrely. "Mack knew it."

Mack's face turned livid. "No, Lee!" he cried.

"Don't lie," said Lee deprecatingly. "I have proof that you knew."

"How could I have known it? I only surmised it."

"Why didn't you tell me before you put it into rehearsal?"

"That wouldn't have brought Gavin back."

"It would have saved me two months' work, and Cynthia all that mental
agony . . . Suppose this brute had killed her this evening?"

Mack flung an arm up. "For God's sake, don't speak of that, Lee! . . .
Try to put yourself in my place," he went on. "This play gave me my only
chance to effect a reconciliation with Bea. She was mad to nose out the
Garrett woman and play that part."

"Sure," said Lee, " and what was friendship?"

Mack was silent. "Lee," asked Loasby, " how did you pin it on Emmett
Gundy?"

"We traced him by the old typewriter. To-night we found the hangout
where he did his typing. In a hole in the wall I found a page from
Gavin's note-book which Emmett had saved because he couldn't read it,
and he thought it must be important. It was important. It'll send him to
the chair." Lee took the leaf from his pocket and passed it over.

"This is all in hieroglyphics," said Loasby.

"Phoenician characters," corrected Lee. "When we were in school together
Gavin and I used to correspond in these characters in order to conceal
our boyish secrets. There are only nineteen letters in the Phoenician
alphabet and when we lacked a letter we turned one of our own upside
down. Gavin had occasion to make an entry in his note-book that he
didn't want anybody to read and he naturally turned to these characters
again."

"What does it say?" asked Loasby.

"Listen." Lee read slowly: "For his new novel Emmett said he needed a
farewell letter left by a successful man who had suddenly tired of life.
He couldn't seem to get it right, and I wrote out a draft for him.
Afterwards the amusing thought came to me: Suppose E were to kill me and
leave this letter beside my body? There's an idea for a crime play in
this."

"Good God!" murmured Siebert.

THE police took away their prisoner. Mack Townley slipped out of the
apartment without saying anything to Lee; he was ashamed. Lee paid off
Smither and sent him home. Only Siebert was left with Lee. The tall
young fellow drifted back and forth in the big room, aimlessly picking
things up and putting them down again; glancing at Lee out of the
corners of his eyes, evidently longing to confide in him, and afraid to
speak. To Lee he seemed absurdly young. Finally he said very off-hand:
"I suppose Cynthia's gone back to bed."

"I reckon so," said Lee. "She's probably asleep."

"Well, hardly sleeping so soon after the scene in this room."

Another silence. In the end Siebert could no longer hold himself in. "O
God, Lee," he burst out, "I love her so much it's terrible! Will I ever
be able to make good with her? Has the break between us widened so far
it can never be bridged?"

"Bless me!" said Lee. "How can I tell? I don't know what has passed
between you."

"I acted terribly," said Siebert. "I could bite my tongue off when I
think of some of the things I said. It was only because I loved her so,
but she can't understand that.,.. God! I've tried my damnedest to forget
her. Night after night I've tried to drink myself into unconsciousness.
I've tried to get interested in other women. It's no good! no good! I
only come out of it disgusted with myself, and wanting her more than
ever."

"She's proud," said Lee. "You'll have to humble yourself before she'll
forgive you."

"Humble myself! To Cynthia! God! I'd push a peanut with my nose from the
Battery to Harlem for her!"

"I doubt if that would help."

"I have too violent a nature," Siebert said sorrowfully. "But I'll
change. I'll learn to control myself!"

"I wouldn't tame myself too much," said Lee. "Of course, I don't know
anything about it myself, but I'm told they don't really mind a little
violence."

"Ah, now you're only pulling my leg!"

"No."

Another silence. "Of course, even if she's awake, it would be a mistake
to say anything to her to-night," Siebert said, begging Lee with his
eyes to contradict him.

"I suppose so," said Lee.

"Yet she might think it strange if I went home without even sending her
message."

"You can send your love by me."

"O God, Lee, don't torment me!"

"Well, if I could trust you merely to say goodnight . . ."

Siebert was electrified with joy. "But if she's in bed!" he gasped.

"Fanny's in there."

"Can I? Can I?"

"If you will promise me not to make a scene, however she may provoke
you."

"God, Lee, I'll go in on tiptoe!"

He was already making for the gallery with four-foot strides; Lee
trotted after him and opened the door to the bedroom corridor. "The last
door," he said.

Siebert knocked. When Fanny opened the door he said breathlessly: "Just
wanted to say good-night to Cynthia." Fanny, smiling, opened the door
wide, and there she lay. "Cynthia!" he murmured, forgetting everything.
"I'm in bed!" she said indignantly. "I see you are," he murmured,
confused. "Go away!"

"All right, Cyn." But he did not go. Fanny started edging out of the
room behind him. "Stay here, Fanny!" commanded Cynthia. Fanny made
believe to be deaf. "Well . . good-night," said Siebert. "Good-night,"
said Cynthia crossly. Siebert, like a man in a trance, went half-way to
the bed. "I'm so sorry, Cyn," he murmured. "You can tell me some other
time." He went all the way to the bed then, and dropped to his knees
beside it. "I love you so much!" he whispered, not daring to touch her.

It was sweet to see so big a young man so chastened, and in spite of
herself a dimple appeared in Cynthia's cheek. She looked obstinately
away towards the window. "Can't you forgive me?" he whispered. "Give me
a little time."

"At least you know now that there is no guilt on me."

"I never really believed you were guilty."

"You said you did. After all, I've got something to forgive, too."

Cynthia jerked her head around. "That's not going to do you any good!"

"I've got to be honest with you," he pleaded. "I love you too much to
flatter you."

"What have you got to forgive me?"

"Because you allowed yourself to believe even for a moment that I could
be guilty of such a thing!"

"Well, you acted like it!"

"You should have known!"

"I'm not going to lie here and be scolded by you. Go away." "Please
don't anger me," he begged. "I promised Lee that . . ."

"Go away! Go away! Go away!"

Siebert's self-imposed discipline broke down. "All right!" he cried in a
rage. "But by God! I'm going to have a kiss first!"

He flung his arms around her. It turned out to be a long kiss. Cynthia
relaxed and her white arms stole around his neck. "I love you so much!"
he murmured.

"I suppose I love you, too," she grumbled. "But, Lord! you're going to
be difficult to manage!"

AFTER his arrest Emmett Gundy appeared to turn completely apathetic, but
those who visited him reported that there was a wicked fire hidden in
the man. He said he had no money to employ a lawyer, and he rejected all
offers to supply him with one. Lee would have been glad to contribute to
such a cause, merely for the sake of seeing justice done. A famous
alienist interested himself in the case, but Emmett would not submit to
an examination. In the end the court assigned one of the thousand-dollar
men to defend him. This lawyer could get nothing out of his client.
Emmett insisted on pleading guilty, and no doubt the lawyer encouraged
it because it saved him trouble. In any case, the evidence for the
prosecution was overwhelming.

When it was all over it transpired that Emmett had left a confession. It
was a strange document. Instead of expressing sorrow for his acts, he
appeared to glory in them. "I had had it in for Gavin Dordress for a
long time." he wrote. "Every time he gave me money I hated him, because
I should have been the one to give money to him. He had everything in
the world; fame, money, lovers, friends, and I had nothing. It wasn't
fair, because when we were young men together everybody said I had more
talent than he. But he was crafty; he had the art of getting what he
wanted out of people. Everybody fell for him. I wasn't liked because I
was too honest. He had no real talent; his plays weren't any good, but
he was a past master of publicity. He milked other men's brains; some of
his best ideas he stole from me. My novels were so good, the publishers
were afraid of them. There was a conspiracy to keep me down.

"It was his secretiveness that gave me the idea of rubbing him out. He
would never tell anybody what he was writing. As soon as I made sure of
this, I began to lay my plans to get his play. Sitting in his studio one
day, looking out of the window, I saw how easy it would be to come down
from the roof of the building next door. Every time I went into the
sunroom I saw the key to the garden door hanging there, and I knew that
nobody went out in the garden after summer was over. So one day I
prigged the key and had a duplicate made. Afterwards I returned the
original key to its place without its ever having been missed. I got the
suicide letter out of him a couple of weeks before I was ready to use
it.

"I spent a lot of thought and time on my disguise. As I would have to
pass through the next building, firstly to get the lay of the land, and
secondly to pull the trick, I had to make myself look completely
different from my usual self. At first I couldn't see through the thick
glasses I put on, but I trained myself so that I could look around them.
I shaved off my moustache and practised with false hair until I could
apply one exactly like it. Thus I was able to go clean shaven when
disguised.

"My opportunity came on the night Gavin gave a dinner party. I left the
party early, changed to my disguise in the Penn Station, and got to the
roof of the building next door. I lowered myself to Gavin's roof garden
by means of a thin, strong rope ladder I had made. I could see into the
penthouse through the windows. His man was still there and I waited.
Meanwhile I took off my disguise. I had on a black overcoat under the
yellow one and a hat in the pocket, and I fixed up to look like my
ordinary self as well as I could in the dark.

"As soon as Gavin was alone I let myself into the sunroom, crossed the
lobby and went out into the elevator hall without his hearing me. I had
a little mirror, and in the hall I fixed my moustache. All these details
were planned in advance. I rang the apartment bell. Gavin came to the
door. He was surprised to see me back. I told him I was so nervous I
couldn't sleep; I wanted somebody to talk to. He couldn't very well turn
me away. He took me in the studio and offered me a drink. While he was
away getting ice I put a glove on, and got his gun out of the desk
drawer and dropped it in my pocket. I kept my gloved hand out of sight.
He suggested a game of chess to quiet my nerves. This suited me all
right. While he was sitting in his chair arranging the men on a little
tabourette in front of him, I came up at one side and shot him.

"I took my time to fix everything. In a drawer of his desk I found the
script of an old play. The fire was about out. I burned the script page
by page to make sure it was completely destroyed, and then laid the
half-burned title page of The Changeling on the hearth. I strapped the
rest of The Changeling script around my waist. I put away the chessmen
and moved the tabourette. I laid the farewell letter on his desk, left
the lights burning, and got out. Resumed my disguise in the garden;
climbed the rope ladder and pulled it up after me; tied it around me
under the overcoat. I had a little difficulty getting out of the
building next door, because it was closed up for the night, but by
listening carefully, I could keep tab of the watchman on his rounds, and
I finally made my way down to the ground floor and let myself out into
the street.

"Amos Lee Mappin, being ah intimate friend of Gavin's, was the greatest
danger I ran, but I had to chance it. Mappin is a slippery customer, and
a criminal at heart. He always had it in for me. The police were
satisfied as to suicide; they never figured in the case until the end.
Only Mappin insisted that it was murder; he saw good publicity in it for
himself. I made Louella Kip swear to an alibi for me that night. She
never knew that I had put Gavin out. She just thought she was saving me
inconvenience.

"When I read that Mappin had found a little bruise on Gavin's forehead
and had sketched it, I was worried. I knew Gavin must have got it from
striking against one of the chessmen, and I expected Mappin would find
the chessmen next. I thought there might be a speck of blood or skin on
one of them. So I assumed my disguise and returned to the penthouse that
night. When I got down to the roof of the lower building, I found to my
surprise that Mappin and the girl were staying in the apartment, but
that didn't frighten me off. I waited until they went to bed, and let
myself in and replaced the chessmen with a different set. On the way out
the girl saw me in the dark and screamed, but luck was with me. She
fainted, and while Mappin was bringing her to, I made a getaway.

"The rest is pretty well known. Everything went wrong after the play was
produced. The girl made believe to recognise the play as Gavin's work.
She couldn't have known it was his play; it was only a notion that she
insisted on. And Mappin backed her up, of course. So I was unable to
cash in on any royalties. I had to give up my room at the Vandermeer. In
the first place, if Gavin's death had been accepted as a suicide, I had
intended to come out after a bit and acknowledge the play as mine. Then
I could have lived easy for the rest of my life. But Mappin spoiled all
that. It was only by a fluke that he caught me in the end. My plans were
perfect. But I was too daring in going to his apartment that night.

EMMETT GUNDY."



THE END




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