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The red button


THEREDBUTTON
ByWILLIRWIN
AUTHOROF
TheCitythatWas,Etc.
SYNDICATEPUBLISHINGCOMPANY
NEWYORKLONDON
COPYRIGHT1912THEBOBBS-MERRILLCOMPANY
CONTENTS
ITHEBOARDERS
IITHECHIEF
IIIMBS.HANSKA’SSTORY
IVAMANWHOLAUGHS
VTOMMYNORTH
VITWINSTARS
VIIFACINGTHEMUSIC
VIIICOQUETTISHMcGHEE
IXMOVINGTHEPAWNS
XALONEHAND
XICRYINGITOFF
XIITHEPEREZFAMILY



XIIIACRITICALMOMENT
XIVTHEFINALTEST
XVJOHNTALKS
XVIASTROKEOFLUCK
XVIITHELASTSEANCE
XVIIITHETHIRDDECREE
XIXARISE
XXWHENDIMPLESWIN
XXITAKINGSTOCK
XXIIHAPPYEVERAFTER
THEREDBUTTON


CHAPTERI
THEBOARDERS
REGARDINGtheeventsofthatrainyautumneveningatMrs.Moore’s
boardinghouseinthefarWestTwentiesofNewYork,accountsdiffersomewhat
althoughnotenough,afterall,butthatwemaypiecetogetheraconnectedstory.
Untilthegreatevent,theyweretrivial.Itwasthereflectedlightofthetragedy
whichgavethemtheirimportance.
Mostoftheboardersremainedindoors,sinceitwastoowetintheearlyevening
forfaringout-of-doorswithcomfort.Afterdinner,MissHardingandMissJones,
stenographers,whosharedaroom-and-alcoveonthesecondfloor,entertained
“company”intheparloronthegroundfloortwoyoungoffice-mateswhofigure
butdimlyinthistale.Thesecallerscameateightoclock.Afewminuteslater
ProfessorNolljoinedthem.ProfessorNollwasadietdelusionist,theassistant
editorofahealth-foodmagazine.Helivedonthethirdfloor,acrossthehallfrom
CaptainHanska,inaroomfurnished(astheCaptainhimself’remarkedduring
oneofhisgenialmoments)withallthehorrorsofhome.ForProfessorNollhad
traveledwidely,gatheringexperienceandjunk;andineveryportoftheworldhe
hadboughtfreelyofgilt-and-trashcurios.Hewasasproudofthatbizarre
apartmentasthoughithadbeentheLouvre.AcharmingoldmanwasProfessor
Nollwhenhedismountedfromhishobbyandoccasionallywhenherodeit,too.
Athicktangleofsilversilkhairandalittlepairofchina-blueeyesaccenteda
personalityallinnocence,gaiety,andold-ageprattle.
MissHardingandMissJoneshadnotarrivedatthatpointwiththeiryoungmen
wheretheywantedtovisitalone.WhenProfessorNollenteredandsuggested
music,theywelcomedhim.Hesatdowntothepiano,therefore,andtheyall


sangthefoolishephemeralsongsofthepicture-shows.Mrs.Moorestoodinthe
hallforatime,listening.MissJonesspiedherandinvitedherin.Shewasaland
ladyofthelugubrioustype;sheweptsilentlyoverthesentimentalpassageswith
rhymeson“posey,”“cosey”and“proposey”;andeventuallyshejoinedher
voicewiththesinging.Onceortwicesheleftmomentarilytolookaftertowels,
furnace-heatandotherhousewifelycares.Oneofthesetourstookhertothetop
ofthehouse,whereMissEstrilla,theladysickwithweakeyes,livedinahalfdarkenedrearroom.Shewasanewcomer,thisMissEstrilla,andnotyetwell


enoughtotakehermealsinthediningroom.MissEstrilla’sbrother,aslim,
mercuriallittleLatinwithanentertainingtrickofthetongue,wasreadingtoher
byashadedlamp,asheoftendidofevenings.WhenMrs.Moorerejoinedthe
others,theyweresingingfull-voice.
OnthestairsMrs.MooremetCaptainHanskapassingupfromhislateand
solitarydinner.Hewasalittleirregularaboutmeals;andthiseveninghehad
comein,demandingdinner,aftereverythingwasclearedaway.Halfthe
boardinghouselikedCaptainHanska,andhalfdislikedhim.Rather(andmore
accurately)allhalf-likedandhalf-hatedhim.Alargeman,offorty-fiveorso,
helookedatfirstsightratherbloated,andatsecondonlygrossandbigthrough
theaccumulationofmiddle-agedmuscleandthethickerflowofmiddle-aged
blood.Hewasbull-necked,broad-shouldered,wideofwaistandheavyofleg.
Everythingabouthimdenotedoldstrengthgonestale.Infaceheshowedthe
tracesofwhatmusthavebeengreatyouthfulcomeliness.Evennow,hehadan
eyewhichcouldbebothkeenandkindwhenhismoodwasgentle.Thosemoods
ofhispuzzledeveryone.Nomancouldbemoreirritableattimes;yet,none,as
allthefemininepartofthehousetestified,couldbemorecharming,moreunder
standingofwomen.Therewasacuriousqualitybeneathallthat,aqualitywhich
noneofMrs.Moore’sboardershadthediscernmenttoformulate.Itwasas
thoughsomeinnerdrivingenergysoughtanoutlet,andfoundnowaythrough
thataccumulationoffleshandbloodandmuscle.
Beforehestartedupthestairs,hepausedaninstantattheparlordoorandlooked
uponthesingers.
“Comeoninthewater’sfine!”calledMissHardingjocularly.
CaptainHanskareturnednoanswer.Apparentlyoneofhissardonicgibeswas
onhislips,butheletitdiethere.Andheturnedaway.
“Hecancertainlybeagrouchwhenhewantsto,”saidMissHarding,asthough
apologizingtotheyoungmen.
“Fierce!”exclaimedMissJones.Andtheyresumedtheirsinging.AsCaptain
HanskapassedMrs.Mooreonthelowerflightofstairs,hisheadwasbentand
hegavenosignofrecognition.
Mrs.Mooredidnotleavetheparlor,shetestifiedafterward,untilMr.Lawrence
Wadecalled,askingforCaptainHanska.Asonpreviousoccasions,hegaveher


hiscard,whichread:“Mr.LawrenceWade,CurfewClub.”Hehadcalledbefore;
whethertwoorthreetimes,Mrs.Moore’smemorywouldneverservetotell.But
sherecognizedhimperfectlyshewouldhaveknownhimanywhere,shesaid.
“Gee,who’syourswellfriendhecertainlycouldleadmeupblushingtothe
altar,”hadbeenMissHarding’stributethefirsttimeshesawhim.Forhewas
verycomelyacomelinessthatwasaperfectblendofcasteandcharacter.And
thatnightsheflashedalanguishingrollofherbigeyesafterthetallfigureasit
disappeared.“Thatfellowwoulddoforaclothinghouseadourcollarsfitround
theneck!”shewhisperedtothecompany;whereuponeveryonegiggled.
Mrs.MoorecarriedthecardtoCaptainHanska’sroomonthethirdfloor.
“Whatisit?”hegrowled,assheknocked.
“Mr.Wadetoseeyou,”shereplied.
Sherememberedafterwardthathepausedforaninstantbeforeheanswered;also
sheheardarustlingasthoughsomeoneweremovingabout.
“I’vegonetobed,”hesaidafterthepause.“Whereishe?Downstairs?”
“Yes,sir.”
“Thenshowhimup,”saidtheCaptain,“butsayI’vegonetobed.”
Mrs.MooreturnedbacktosummonMr.Wade;asshedidso,Mr.Estrillacame
downfromthefloorabove.
“Oh,goodevening,Mr.Estrilla!”saidMrs.Moore.“Didyoursister—”
JustthenthevoiceofCaptainHanskabrokeinfrombehindthedoor.
“Waitaminute.AskMr.Wadeifhemindsmynotgettingup.I’veacoldand
I’vetakensomemedicine.”
“Verywell,Captain,”repliedMrs.Moore.Estrilla,seeingthatshewasengaged,
wentondownstairstothefrontdoor.
Thisnarrativehasgone,sofar,fromthepointofviewofMrs.Moore.Wewill


shiftnowtoMissHarding;foratimelethermindbethecrystalofourthought.
Weshallfinditascatteringandsuperficialmind,butfurnishedforthwithgood
memory,thetrickofobservation,andaninstinctforconcreteexpression.A
momentbeforeMrs.MoorecamebackandtoldMr.WadethatCaptainHanska
wouldseehim,Mr.Estrillaappearedatthedooroftheparlor.Althoughtheyhad
seenbutlittleofhimatMrs.Moores,hewaspopularforaLatinLightnessof
temperament,acheerfulandwinningsmile,animblewitwhichlostnothing
becauseofhisquaintaccent,andvarious,winsome,actortrickswhichMrs.
Moorecalled“capers.”AtthatmomenttheyweresingingYip-hi-addy-hi-ay,
theninitsfirstrun.Mr.Estrilla,bundledupinhatandmackintosh,cutacurvet
inthehall,kickedoutoneofhissmallAndalusianfeet,joinedanoteofthe
chorusinapleasant,light,tenorvoice,changedtoafalsettotonewhichwas
plainlyanimitationofMissHarding’ssinging,aridwhirledtowardtheouter
door.MissHardingcalled:
“Comeinandsing!”ButMr.Estrillaonlypivotedthroughthedoor,calling:
“Buenasnochesyip-hi-addy-hi-ay!”Perhapsfiveminuteslater,MissHarding
wentupstairsforahandkerchief.Foramomentshewasabsent-mindedarare
thingwithhersothatinsteadofturningonthesecondfloor,whereherroomwas
situated,shecontinuedanotherflightandbroughtup,suddenlyawareofher
mistake,atthethird-floorlanding.Somethingheldherthereforamomentthe
soundofhighwordsfromCaptainHanska’sroom.MissHardingpausedlonger
thanneeessary.Shewasanhonorablegirlenough,butthemosthonorableofus
payinstinctivetributetoourcuriosity.
“ItellyoubothIwont,”cameCaptainHanska’sratherharshvoice.
“Oh,IthinkperhapsIcanmakeyouchangeyourmind,”cameotheraccents
which,MissHardingreflected,wentperfectlywiththepersonalityofMr.
LawrenceWade.
“Somesortofarumpusgoingonupthere,”saidMissHardingassheregained
theparlor.ThenrememberingthatshemustaccounttoMissJonesforher
presenceonthethirdfloorthebachelorquartersoftheestablishmentsheadded
vaguely,“Youcanhearitjustasplain!”
Theyhadallstoppedsingingfromverywearinessofvoice,andMrs.Mooreand
ProfessorNollhadretiredtoleavetheyoungcouplesalonewiththeirdevices,
whenMr.Wadeappearedagaininthehallthistimeonhiswayout.Everyone


sawhimplainly,especiallyMissHarding,whosatfacingthedoor.
“Look,who’shere,Essie!”shewhisperedinanundertonetoMissJones.Asshe
recalleditafterward,heseemedalittlepale.Hecastnomorethanonequick
absentglanceatthegroupbythepiano;andthedoorclosedbehindhim.
Mrs.Moorehadgonetobedonthegroundfloor.ButProfessorNolldidnot
retireimmediately.AbasicprincipleoftheNollScientificPlanofDietwaslight
alimentationbeforeretiring.ByhisspecialarrangementwithMrs.Moore,the
maid,aftercleaningupfromdinner,alwaysleftaglassofhygienicbuttermilk
andtwoprotosebiscuitsonthesideboard.ProfessorNollateslowly,glancingat
hiswatchnowandthenthathemightassurehimselfastotheptopertimingon
eachmouthful.Sohedidnotgoupstairsuntiljustbeforethecompanyleft.
CaptainHanska,asIhavesaid,livedjustacrossthehallfromhim.Thelightwas
outintheCaptain’sroom,heremembered,andeverythingseemedquiet.
Nothing,hetestifiedafterward,happenedtodisturbhissleep;“however,”he
managedtothrowin“scientificdietmakessoundslumber.”Withintenminutes,
the“company”leftandtheyoungwomenwenttotheirroom.Therewassilence
inthehouse.
Silenceuntilhalfpasttwooclockandthen
TommyNorth,whooccupiedthethirdfloorfront,camehomefromastag
smokerdrunk.
Hestoodataparlouscross-roadofhislife,thisTommyNorth.Hewasan
attractiveyoungmanstubby,bright-eyed,red-headed,quick-tongued,and
twenty-eight.Hisbusinessofwritingandsellingadvertisinggavehimallkinds
ofcontactwithallkindsofattractivepeoplewholikedhimforhisflashesofwit
andhisgenuinewarmthofheart.Theywerethekindofpeople,unfortunately,
whoconducttheirsociallifebeforegildedbars,oraboutluxuriouscafetables.
SoithappenedthatTommywassowingwildoatsandirrigatingthemwithgood
liquor;andtheyhadbeguntosproutinhissystem.Thiswasnotthefirsttime
thathehadreturned,uncertainoftongueandfoot,inthehoursofvice.Onthe
lastoccasion,hemadesomuchnoisethatMissHardingrefusedhimher
countenanceforaweekandMrs.Mooregavehimwarning.Thatwarning,rested
atthebottomofhismaudlinpsychologyashecreptuptothefrontdoor,
unlockedit,andstolewithin.


“Mustavoiddisgrace,”hemutteredtohimself;“awfulbrandonyoung
manhood.Fairwomenavoidme.Pestilence.”Atthisthought,hedroppedatear.
Suddenly,hismindturnedfullrevolutionandthesituationoccurredtohimas
ridiculous.Whereathelaughedbeneathhisbreath,ashethought.Thevigilant
Mrs.Moore,whowokeateverynightentranceoflodgers,heardthatraucous
laughter.Sheleapedoutofbed,openedherdooracrack,andobservedTommy
ashestoodbalancinghimselfunderthedimpointofthegas-jet.Oblivioustothe
opendoorandthewatchfuleye,hemadeaturnaboutthenewelpostandbegan
puttingonefootcautiouslybeforetheother,sayingoverandoveradrunken
refrainwhichran:
“Hayfootstrawfootonegoesupandtheothergoesdown.”Sohevanishedfrom
thevisionofMrs.Moore.Bysimilardeviceshenegotiatedthestretchofhall
carpetonthesecondfloor,andtookthenextflight.Hewasnearhishavennow
hisownroom,thirdfloorfront.Inthedimhalllight,hebalancedhimselfandlet
histongueplayagain.
“Energyandperseverancevictoryalmostwon,”hesaid.“Justtalktoyourfeet
andletemdoyourwork.”Butthemusculareffortofclimbingtwoflightshad
senthisliquorsurgingtohishead,sothathedizziedandstaggered.Hecaught
thebanisterforsupport.Thensomething,realorfancied,caughthiseye
somethingwhichheldhisdrunkenattention.Hestoopedandclutchedatit.The
effortoverbalancedhimandsenthimsprawlingonhishandsintosomewet
stickysubstance.
“Fearfulcarelesshousekeeping,”hesaidasheregainedhisfeet,“forcesmeto
extrememeasurewipinghandsonshirt.Nootherplacetowipehands.Renewed
necessityarises”hestoppedandrepeatedthephrasewithinordinatedelight
“renewednecessityforreachingownroom.”Hetookthelastthreeyardsina
seriesofstaggeringboundswhichlandedhimwithathumpagainsthisdoor.He
caughttheknobashefell,andthebarrieropened,lettinghimtumbleonhisown
motiontothefloor.Hekickedthedoorshutashelayprostrate,andthen
managedtopullhimselfuprightandreachtheeledtric-lightbuttonforMrs.
Mooreburnedgasinthehallsforeconomy,butelectriclightsintherooms.The
twotumbleshadthrownhimintoanotherstateofconsciousness;hisheadbegan
toclearandhismotionstosteady.Soheturned,hispredicamentstillinhismind,
tothewash-standinthecorner.
Aboveithungamirror.Inpassing,Tommy’sgazeswepttheglass,leapedback,


caughtonwhatblanchedhisfacetoasicklywhite,whatsteadiedhisunsteady
figureuntilitstoodstraightandstiff,whatclearedhisheadsoviolentlythathe
couldthinkwithalltheswiftnessofterror.
Onhisdressshirt-frontwastheimprintofahugeredhand.
“Whose?”Tommyaskedhimselfoneinstant.Thenext,hisgazeboundedfrom
themirrortohisownhands.
Bloodmiredhisfingers.Onhiscoatwasblood,onhissleevewasblood,onhis
kneeswasblood,onhisveryshoes.Helookedatthemirroragain.Acrosshis
chinzigzaggedadarkredlinebloodalso.
Hisfirstsanethoughtwasthathehadcuthimself,andwasbleedingtodeath.He
lookedagainathishands,butsawnowound.Then,drunkenmemorieslingering
alittleinhissobermind,herememberedthefallandtheprocessofwipinghis
hands.Heranbacktothehallway,turnedupthepin-pointoflightonthegas-jet.
Thereitwas,athinstreamofblood,spottedalittlewherehehadfalleninit.
AnditwaswidestwhereitbeganitsflowatthethresholdofCaptainHanska’s
door.Inaweakaccessofrealterror,hefelltopoundingonthewalland
shouting:
“Murder!Murder!”
Suddenlymasteringhimself,heseizedtheknobofCaptainHanska’sdoor.The
latchgavewayitwasnotlocked.Butitopenednomorethanafootortwo
scarcelyenoughtogiveamanpassagewhensomethingblockeditfrombehind.
Inthetemporaryweaknessofhiswill,TommyNorthshrankbackfromentering
suchaplaceofveritablehorror.Heshoutedagain;andnowProfessorNoll,
lookinginhisbathrobelikeastrangepriestofastrangeEasternrite,rushedfrom
hisroomgaspktg:
“What’sthenatter?”
Theblood,thepale,gibbering,dabbledyoungman,>vereexplanationenough.
Hehimselfopenedthedoorasfarasitcouldgo,andedgedintotheroom.
“Matched,quick!”hecalledfromwithin.
TommyNorthfoundhismatch-case;andthemasteryofanothermind,withthe


exampleofbettercourage,drewhimafterProfessorNoll.Helightedamatch,
helditup.Itflaredandblazeduntilitburnedhisringers.Inthatflickering
transitorylighttheysawallthatitwasnecessarytosee.
CaptainHanska’sbodyblockedthedoor.Helaydressedinhispajamas,the
shrunkenrelicofwhathadbeenaportlymanlayonhisbackwithhishands
liftedoverhisheadasthoughhewereclutchingattheair.Fromhisbreaststuck
thehaftofagreatknife;andfromthewoundthepoolofbloodflowedtothe
threshold.Thematchwentout;andwithacommonimpulseTommyNorthand
ProfessorNollstruggledtoseewhowouldbefirsttogetbackthroughthatdoor.
Therefollowedalarms,screams,therunningofwomen,hystericsonthepartof
Mrs.Moore,whohadstartedfrombedatTommy’sfirstcry.TommyNorth,
albeitordinarilyabraveandresourcefulyoungmanenough,wasofnousein
thiscrisis,whatwiththecompressionoftenemotionalyearsintotenminutesof
life.Worseforhim,thehen-mindedMrs.Moore,seeingtheblood,cried,“You
murderer!”clutchedathiscoat,andfellintoafaint.UponProfessorNoll
devolvedthemasculineguidanceofthisaffair.Andhethoughtfirst,notofthe
police,butofadoctor.Bythistime,MissHardingandMissJoneswereweeping
breasttobreast;Mrs.Moorehadrecoveredtosaythatshealwaysexpecteditof
Mr.North,andMissEstrilla,theinvalidladyonthetopfloor,hadcalledfrom
theheadofthestairs,“Whatisit?”Withthebrutalitywhichimpelsusincrises
toconfideunpalliatedhorrors,someoneshrieked,“Hanska’smurdered!”There
camefromabovesomeSpanishejaculationstowhichnoonepaidmuch
attention,andthenarattlingofthehookofthetelephone,whichhungonadoorpostinthatfourth-floorhall.
ProfessorNoll,hismindstillonthenecessityforcallingadoctor,slippedinto
ulsterandbedshoesandrushedacrossthestreettorousethehousephysicianin
theapartment-hotel.Hewassometimemakinghimselfknownandunderstood.
Ashenearedhisowndooragain,hesawMr.Estrillaenteringalmostontherun.
“There’sbeenamurder!CaptainHanska’skilled!”ProfessorNollcalledafter
him.
“Iknowmyseestertelephonesheisfrighten,Estrillacalledbackshrillyoverhis
shoulder.Andhehurriedupthestairs.
Bythistime,theopendoor,theflutteringlights,thescreamsandhysterics,had


beguntoattracttheattentionofthisandthatlatepedestrian.Amilkmanpulled
up,hitched,andentered;andthenanight-faringprinter.Presentlythelittleknot
inthestreetandtheparlorswasaugmentedbyawoman,fullyandratheroverluxuriouslydressed,asthoughforthetheaterabigpicturehatandablacksatin,
fur-edgedeveningcoatoveralightgownwhichshowedhereandtheretheglitter
ofsequins.Shewasalargebutshapelywomanofuncertainage;yetsopleasing
withalthatthegatheringloafers,evenintheexcitementofamurder,spareda
fewadmiringglancesatherface.Herexpressionchangedmomentarilywith
eachsoundfromabove;andwiththesechangestheghostofalineofdimples
playedabouthergenerousmobilemouth.Themouth,thedimples,thepeaked
chin,therathersmallstraightnose,allappearedinstrangecontrasttoherlarge
lighteyes,whicharrestedattentionatoncethroughacuriousappearanceof
lookingfaraway.
Theprinterandthemilkmanhastenedtotellhertheirnews.Somerowwason
upthere;they’doverheardsomethingaboutamurder.Atthatword,thestrange
womanwithquickefficientgestures,drewoffherlongeveninggloves,
straightenedoutthefingers,rolledthemintoaneatball,andputthemawayin
hermuff.
“I’mgoin’up,”sheconfidedtoherfellows.“Ibelongtheretheyneedasensible
woman,fromthewaythey’rescreechin.Youbetternotfollowyou’lldono
goodanitmightgityouinvolved.”Withsurprisinglightness,consideringher
bulk,shemountedthestairs.
Thenoiseguidedhertothefocusofinterest;shepushedherwayintotheroom
ofthelateCaptainHanska,andstoodlookingaboutwithapairoflargeserious
eyeswhichtookineverydetail.Shebenthergazeonthedeadman,stooped,
madequickexamination,firstofthewoundandthenofhisface.BothMrs.
MooreandMissHardingwereabouttoaskthisstrangertoaccountforherself,
whenthedoctor,half-dressedbutcarryinghisbag,edgedpastthedoor.All
turnedtohim.Helookedbutaninstantontheface.
“He’sdead,”hesaidcalmlyandbriefly.
Atthisconfirmationofwhateveryonealreadyknew,Mrs.Moorefaintedagain
tumbledintothearmsofMissHarding.MissJones,withafeelingthatshemust
dotherightthingnowthatthedoctorwaslooking,rushedoverandopenedboth
windows.IfMrs.Mooreexpectedattentionfromthedoctor,shewasbalked.He


wasmakingamorecarefulexaminationandthatladygraduallyrevivedofher
ownmotion.
“Hehasbeendeadforsometimenotlongenoughforrigormortistosetin,but
he’scoldandthebloodhasbeguntocongeal,”hesaidatlength.“Hasanyone
notifiedthepolice?HasanyonecalledupaCoroner?”
“I’llattendtothat,”volunteeredthestrangewoman,withanairofperfect
competenceandcommand;“where’sthephonegroundfloorandtopfloorhall?
Allright;I’llusethetopfloor;that’snearer.AnyparticularCoroner,Doctor?
Lipschutz?Allright.”
Thedoctorgavealookofinquiryatherraiment,sogrotesquelymismatched
withsuchascene.TommyNorth,alreadyperceivingwhatmighthappentoa
youngmancaughtallblood-smearedinproximitytoamurder,threwaquick
appealingglanceofhisown.Thewomanseemedtocatchtheinquiryandthe
appeal.
“Don’tyouworry,youngman.I’vegotnoconnectionwiththepolice,anifyou
didn’tdothisthingyou’reallright,”andthentothedoctor:“Mynameis
MadameLeGrange,Iownthehouseat442acrossthestreet.Nevermind,my
dear”thistoMissHarding,whoshowedsignsofcomingoutofherstuporand
following.Withabusinesslikeair,shebustledupstairs,calledpolice
headquarters,informedthemtherehadbeenamurderatandthedoctorwanted
CoronerLipschutzalso,theyhadbettersendsomepolicemen.Thisdone,she
spentamomentinthoughtbeforeshedescended.
Inthehall,shemettheregularpatrolman,whohadreceivedthenewsatlast.The
limbofthelawhadforbiddentheaugmentedcrowdatthedoortofollowhim;he
wasascendingalone.Thesightofthiswomaninherfashionableclothesorwas
ithercompellinglookofcommandstoppedhim.
“Listen,”shesaid,“there’sonlyasecond.NevermindwhoIam.Lookatthis.”
Sheproducedtheoldandwornpieceofpaperwhichshehaddrawnfromher
bagaminutebefore.
“Tothepolice,”itread.“Anymatterthatconcernsthebearer,Mrs.RosalieLe
Grange,istobereferredtome.Irequestyoutogiveherthegreatestdiscretion.
“INSPECTORMARTINMcGEE.”


“Notaword,”pursuedRosalieLeGrange.“NowmindIdidn’tseethisthing,an
Idon’tknowasmuchaboutitasyou.Butit’syourjobtotipmeofftothe
reservesassoonastheycomemakethemunderstandthattheyain’ttostopme
whateverIdo.Andremember”nowthewomansmiledinameaningway“you
gotherejustasquickasyoucouldnotasecondlaterI’llsticktothat.Nowget
inside.”Shewaitedamoment,beforeshefollowedhim.
TommyNorth,fairlygreennow,wassittingonacouchinhisghastlyraiment.At
thatmoment,SenorEstrillacamedownthestairsfromhissister’sroom.Hehad
openedhisraincoat,butitwasstillwet.Hehadturneduphishatbrim,butan
occasionaldropfell.
“Myseesterisbetter,”hesaid.“Oh,canIassist?”Andwhilehehelpedthemen
tocoverthebody,helistenedtoscatteredexplanationsfromthewomen.
Nowthereserveshadcome;andafterthem,theCoronerandthedetectives.
Theyclearedoutthehouse,holdingonlythosewhoseemedtothempertinent
witnesses.AtasignalfromRosalieLeGrangetheydetainedherforatime,on
thegroundthatshehadarrivedsuspiciouslyearly.Thefirstunorganizedsearch
forthecriminalsimmereddowntoTommyNorth,althoughevenMrs.Moore
admittedthathehadenteredonlyaminutebeforethebodywasdiscovered.In
themidstoftheinvestigation,anewquandarypresenteditself.Thehousewas
tobesealedwhilethepoliceinvestigated.Theinnocentwouldhavetofind
someotherdwelling-place.Thatsuitedher,MissHardingremarked;she
wouldn’tsleepthereagain;whereuponMrs.Moore,declaringshewasruined,
fellagaintoweeping.AndsuddenlyshewhocalledherselfMadameLeGrange
steppedforwardintothehuddleddistressedgroup.
“Ihaven’tintroducedmyself,”shesaid,witheasymasterfulcalm,“butI’vejust
openedthehouseat442asaboardinghouse.Youain’tgoingtoholdme,of
course”thistothepolice“and,anyhow,youknowwheretofindmeincaseyou
wantme.There’sroomto-nightinmyhouseforyouall.”Sheturned,withher
eternalairofmistressinanysituation,toMissHarding.“Come,dressandpack
upyournightthings,mydear.Wecanmoveyourtrunksto-morrow.”
Mechanically,MissHardingobeyed,andthenMissJones.SuddenlyMr.
Estrilla,whohadbeenministeringtoMrs.Moorebythedoor,spokeupand
asked:
“Myseester,too?”


“She’ssick,ain’tshe?”inquiredMrs.LeGrange,asifforaninstantthatgave
herpause.“Thenthepoorthingneedsitworstofall!”sheansweredherown
argument.“Comeon!”Shedashedaway,lightlyinspiteofherbulk,Estrilla
following.
WhileRosalieLeGrangewaspreparingtomovetheinvalidonthetopfloor,the
policeandtheCoronerstraightenedoutaffairsalittle.Therewasmuchmanin
TommyNorth.Ifhehadplayedthecraveninthefirstrushofhisgruesome
discovery,itwasbecausehehadwakenedtothatstateoftensedepressionwhich
comeswiththesuddendepartureofdrunkenness.Hebecamedefiantnow;
whereuponthepolicebegantobully.WhiletheyweretryingtomakeMrs.
MooreadmitthatshehadnotseenTommyNorthcomeupthestairs,adetective
sergeantputasneeringquestiontoher
“Well,whoelsecouldhavedoneit?Whoelsehasbeenhere?”
AndtheinrushofmemorybroughtalittleshriekfromMrs.Moore.
“Mr.Wadethegentlemanwhocalledtonight!”shecried.Allatonceher
suspicionsleftthebrandedMr.North.Mr.Wadehadcomelateintheevening
andthat,inthedoctor’sopinion,wasjustaboutthetimewhenCaptainHanska
musthavedied.Mr.Wadehadcalledtwoorthreetimesbefore,alwaysatnight.
Trembling,shefoundhiscard,“LawrenceWade,CurfewClub,”intheplated
trayatthehalldoor.SuddenlyMissHarding,whohadbeenrefusingalllighton
theeventsoftheevening,gavealittleshriek.
“Why,theywerequarrelingwhenIwent—”shecried.Thenshestopped,as
thoughfearfulofherownwords.Thepoliceturnedonher.Inatumbleofwords
andemotions,shetoldwhatsheknew.Mr.Wade’slatecall,thehighwords,the
factthatnonehadheardasoundfromCaptainHanska’sroomafterWadeleftthe
housethatwasenoughfortheCoronerandthedetectives.TheypackedTommy
Northsober,pale,butnowthoroughlycollectedintothepatrolwagon,sentthe
hueandcrytotheCurfewClubafterMr.Wade,putthehouseunderguard,and
calledtheirday’sworkdone.
AndtherestoftheMooreestablishment,havingfirstreceiveddreadfulwarning
concerningthefateofabscondingwitnesses,finishedthatuneasynightunderthe
ministrationsofRosalieLeGrangeat442.


CHAPTERII
THECHIEF
INSPECTORMARTINMcGEE,themiddle-agedsolidexecutiveoftheNew
Yorkdetectives,satinhisbusinesslikeofficerunningoverthereportsonthe
Hanskamurder,nowlessthanacalendardayoldbutalreadythesubjectof
thoseinnumerableextraswhichthenewsboyswereshoutingunderhiswindows.
Nothingintheformaldocumentsbeforehimservedtogivehimanynewlight.
ThomasNorth,advertisingagent,atpresentlockeduptoawaitexamination,had
announceddiscoveryofthemurder.Whenhemadetheannouncement,hewas
spottedanddaubedwithblood.CaptainHanskahadthenbeendeadatleastan
hour.FortheperiodinwhichHanskamusthave,died,Northprovedaperfect
alibiunlessthelandlady,orNorth’scompanionsattheannualsmokerofthe
Carekillers,hadliedtothedetectives.LawrenceWadethatlookedliketheman.
WadewasmissingfromtheCurfewClubwhenthepolicearrived;however,
throughthegoodmemoriesofataxicabdriverandaticketseller,hehadbeen
tracedtoBostonandtherearrestedintheveryactofengagingEuropean
passage.
WadehadvisitedHanskaataboutthetimeofthemurder“asshownbythe
conditionofthebody.”Wadeadmittedthatfact.“Iwasthereonbusinessfora
friend,”hesaid.Pressedtoexplainwhyhehadmadesuchasuddentripoutof
town,hedeclinedtoanswer.Heknewhislegalrightshewasalawyerit
appearedandhewouldgivenofurtherexplanation.LawrenceWadeitmustbe
unlessthisprovedan“insidejob.”ThewindowsofCaptainHanska’sroom
werebothfastenedwhenNorthdiscoveredthemurder,buthisouterdoor,
leadingintothehall,wasunlocked.Therewerenosignsofanyentrancebythe
frontdoororthebasementdoor.Bynight,WadeandNorthmustgoonthecarpet
foralittletouchoftheThirdDegree.InspectorMcGeewasafirmbelieverin
thatsameThirdDegree.Lecoqtacticshedistrusted,withthedistrustofanarrow
manfortheotherman’sweapons.
ButtheformaldocumentsintheHanskacaseinterestedInspectorMcGeeless,a
greatdealless,thananinformalverbalreportmadethatmorningbythesergeant
incommandofthereserves.


“Wedidn’tknownothingabouther,Chief,”hesaid,“exceptthatshehadan
orderfromyoutellingustokeepourhooksoffher.Forgotthename—something
Frenchwitha‘Le’behindit.Itwasallright,wasn’tit?”
InspectorMcGeeunderstoodatonce;andtheinformationbroughtalittlethrill.
Hehadgivenonlytwosuchpapersinhiscareer;andtheotherwasheldbya
man.SoRosalieLeGrangehadbobbedupagain—RosalieLeGrange,trance,
testandclairvoyantmedium,followerofasmallhalf-criminaltradebutfriendof
societyagainstlargercriminals.Howcuriouslythatwomanhadglancedinand
outofhislife,andwhatluckshehadbrought!Hisfirstsuccess,forexample—
thesolutionoftheHeywoodmurder,whichhadraisedhimfromplaindetective
todetectivesergeant.NonebuthimandherknewhowRosalieLeGrangehad
clearedupthatimportantcasebyherknowledgeandshrewdness,andhad
slippedoutofitinthedramaticmoment,leavingtohimthecredit.Thenthe
Martincase,whichhadhelpedmakehimacaptaintheMcGregordiamondcase
halfadozensmallercases,allsuccessesandallredoundinggreatlytohis
reputation.Forthreeyearsnowshehadbeencompletelyoutofhisworld.Once
avaguerumorthatshewasveryprosperoushadsethimwonderingwithalittle
regretwhethershehadfallentotrickingbigdupes.Inoldyears,shealways
affectedtodespisethatprocess.
Hereshewasagain,mysteriousanddramatic,still,attheveryfocusofanother
bigcase.TheheavylipsofMartinMcGeerelaxedinasmileofunaccustomed
sweetnessashethoughtonher,andlessonhertalentsandherbeneficent
influenceoverhiscareerthanonherlookandmoveandjoyinlife.Herecalled
herasshesteppedintohiscareertenyearsagoplumpbutshapely;dimpled,
brown-haired,marvelousinthecompellingexpressionofhergrayeyes.He
recalledtheRosalieofthreeyearsagostillshapelybutnowtouchedwithage
andpowderedwithgray.Fromamongthehalf-forgottenmemoriesofabusy
andratherbrutallife,shestirredintofullvision.InspectorMcGeewasfortyeightyearsold;andthatperiodistheIndiansummerofromance.Hefound
himselflookingforwardtotheirnextmeeting.
Andashebentoverhisdeskinunaccustomedmeditation,thehourofthat
meetingwascome.Thedoormanbroughtacard“Mme.RosalieLeGrange”and
behindhimsheappeared.
AnywomanwhohadknowntheRosalieLeGrangeofInspectorMcGee’s
recollectionswouldhavereadnewprosperityintoheratfirstglance.Then,her


shirt-waists,alwaysimmaculatelyneat,wereofcheaplawn;now,hermodest
waistwaschiffonandClunyhungoverafiguredsilk.Hersuithadthatperfect
tailoredsimplicitywhichonlygeniusachieves.Herhatwasunobtrusive,but
anydiscriminatingfeminineeyewouldhaveseenthatVerremadeit;andVerre
comeshigh.ThesesignsofwealthescapedMartinMcGee.Theprooftohimwas
moretangiblethediamondpendantatherthroat,theringsonherfingers.
Henotedtheselittlebrothersofprosperitybeforeheperceivedhowmuch
youngersheappearedinfaceandfigurethanwhenhesawherlast.Beingmere
maleman,hecouldnotunderstandthatthisfalseyouthwasbornandbredof
themodiste,themillinerandthemasseuse.
“Well,well!”exclaimedMartinMcGee,risingasthoughtosomegreat
personage,“backagain!Say,youjustcouldn’tkeepoutofbigdoings,could
you?Andhowprettyyoulookprettierandprettierallthetime!Whathauledyou
intotheHanskacase?”
“Iain’tintheHanskacaseatall,”respondedRosalieLeGrange,answeringhis
secondquestionfirst,“atleastnotdeep,MartinMcGee.”Sheflasheduponhim
herdimples,snappedathimhergreatgrayeyes.“Whenapersoniscomin’home
latefromasupperwithanactressfriendanseesadooropenandhearspeople
talkingontheinsidewithremarksaboutmurderandpolice,sheinvestigates.
WhichIdone.Anwhenshefindsalotofhumanhensrunninaroundliketheir
headswascutoff,shehelpsstraightenthingsout.Iwasneverrightupclosetoa
murderbefore.”Shepausedaminute,herdimplesfadedandthelinesofherface
feU.“Ugh!”sheshudderedwiththememory.
“That,”saidMartinMcGee,“iswhatI’dcallacoincidence.”
“Coincidence!”repeatedRosalieLeGrangewithfinescorn,“nowyoulook
here,InspectorMcGee,thereain’tanysuchthingascoincidencesanymorethan
there’ssuchathingasluck.No,MartinMcGee.Nearlyeverybodythat’slived
longenoughinNewYorkhashadamurderoraburglaryorsomethinginthe
sameblock.Itwasboundtohappentomeintime.Ithappened;andinsteadof
mindingmyownbusinessliketherest,Ibuttedstraightin.Whenthereasonsfor
athinggettootangled-upforyouandmetofollow,westickalabelonitancall
itluck.Butthere,”shecheckedherself,“thisisjustoneofmyplatform
inspirationaltalkslikeIusedtogivethesittersinmytestseances.OnlythenI
laidittothespirits.NowIlayittoRosalieLeGrange.”


“Usedto?”echoedInspectorMcGee.“Doesthatmeanyou’vecutitout?”
“Well,dotheseclothesandthisfive-dollaran-hourmassageonmypooroldface
looklikeIgotemfromsittersattwodollarsathrow?”inquiredRosalieLe
Grange.“Say,askmeaboutit,please.I’mdyingtotell.”
“Allright;I’veasked,”respondedMartinMcGee,akindofdullfireilluminating
hisclean-shavenjowlypolicecountenance.
“Now,”saidRosalieLeGrange,“I’mgoingtoastonishyou,MartyMcGee.Igot
itfromRobertH.Norcrosstherailroadking.”
McGee’sfacefell.Thismascotofhis,thiscuriousgoodfairywhohadskipped
inandoutofhiscareer,scatteringgoldensuccesses,wasakindofanideal.That
sheshould“work”adodderingmillionaireasNorcrosshadbeeninhislastyears
forthetaintedcoinofagedfolly,wasablowtowhatidealismanInspectorof
detectivesmayhopestilltocherish.Rosalie,skilledfromyouthtocatchand
interprettheunconsideredexpressionofthehumancountenance,readhis
emotionatonce.
“Now,Idon’tmeanatallwhatyoumean,MartinMcGee,”shesaid.“Listen.It
don’tmatterwhatIdid,orhowIdiditbutIsavedthisRobertH.Norcrossfrom
makinaboutthebiggestkindofafooloutofhimself.
There’smorethingsgetbythepolicethangettoem,InspectorMartinMcGee.
Especiallyinthemediumgame.Norcrosswascaught.,Itellyou.Everhearof
Mrs.PaulaMarkham?”
“ThewomanwhoskippedtoParisaftertheWarfieldaffair?”askedMcGee.
Rosalienodded.
“Andagreatmedium,too,”shesaid,“butalsoagreatcrook.Wellshehad
RobertNorcross,Itellyou.”Rosalieextendedoneofhercreamed-and-polished
hands.Sheclosedthefingersgradually,intoonepink,adorable,tightfist.“Just
likethat,”shesaid.“Hewastherightagetobeworkedbyamedium.Andthink
ofthestake!Thenewspaperssaidwhenhediedthathisestatewassmallerthan
anybodythought.Butitwasseventy-fivemillions.Mrs.Markhamhadhimand
them.AnIbrokethatgrip.Itain’tnecessaryformetosayhow.Funnythingwas
Ididn’tdoitforNorcrossatall,butjustforalittleblueeyedfoolofagirlin
love.Well,anyhow,whenhewokeupandrealizedthenarrowshavehehad,Mr.


Norcrossbegantoinvestigate,anfoundwhatI’ddone.Doyouremember,”she
askedsuddenly,“thattheyprobatedtheNorcrosswillsecret?Nobodyeverknew
exactlywhathedidwithhismoney,excepthisnephewgotmostofit.”
“Iremember,”saidInspectorMcGee.Andthen,onasuddenburstoflaughter,
“Gee!Wouldn’tthenewspapersgiveaheaptogetthisstoryyou’regoingto
tell!”
“Theywould,”respondedRosalieLeGrange,“andthat’swhyyou’llnever
breatheawordtoasoul.Butthere!IalwaysknewwhoIcouldtrustanyou’re
oneofem.Thereasonwasacodicilorwhateveryoucallit.Heleftmeintoken
ofserviceandfriendship,itsaidanoldhouseheownedoverbyNorthRiver,an
stockswellsixthousandayeartomakeonebiteofit!”
“Goodlord!Hedid?”criedMartinMcGee.
Rosalienoddedsolemnly,buthereyesshone.
“NowIplayedthatmediumgameonthesquare,youunderstand,”shesaid,
“againandagain.IpassedupchancestohookjustsucholddopesasNorcross.
MyrulewasalwajT’sstraightsittingsattwodollarsahead,annoextras.Ifaked
em,ofcourse.ButIheartenedemup.Ihandedemgoodadvice.Ikeptsillyfool
girlsfromgoin’tothebad.Igaveweepyoldwidowstheonlyrealrecreation
theyeverhad.Anhere,rightattheend,comesanhonestpieceofmoneysobig
thatIcouldhaveplayedcrookedallmylife,anneverevengotachanceat
anythinlikeit.Makesmewonder,”sheadded,“ifthegoody-goodystuffIused
tolineoutinmyinspirationalplatformtalkswasn’ttrue,afterall.”
“Andneveranoisefromthelawyers?”inquiredMartinMcGee.“Didn’tthey
squeal?”
“Likestuckpigs!”repliedRosalie,“buttheydidn’tbotherme.Iwasmyown
lawyer.Allright,saysI,sueandgetitintothepapersthatRobertH.Norcross
wasrunnintomediums.Doalotforyourrailroadsystem.Lookniceinred
head-lines.Thatfixedem.AnlastMarch/1comeintomymoney.Iclosedup
shopansoldmytestbooksan*stoppedthismediumbusiness,anstartedtobea
lady.Sixthousandayearain’ttoomuchtodothatjobinNewYork,evenwhen
youdon’thavetopayhouserent.
“Therewassixmonthsincomewaitingformewhenthelawyerssettled


everythingup,an
IputthatintothingsthatIwantedallmylife.IboughtsomestuffthatIneeded
too,butIboughtthethingsthatIwantedfirstaDuchess-lacehandkerchiefthat
putmebackfiftydollars,agoldchair,ansomediamondringsanagold-mesh
bagbutIguessthisisneitherherenorthere.Ispreadmyselfonclothes,hadmy
faceoverhauledandrenovateduntilIhardlyknewitmyself,andthenIfixedup
thehouse.Andthathouseyoucanbelievemeissomehouseit’sgotchintzbed
rooms,anaconservatoryanasmokingdenanacozycorneranasunparlor.
“AfterthatIstartedouttobealady.Iwenttotheoperaanthetheateranteaat
theDeidrich.Ihiredalandaufromaliverystable,aneverydayIdroveupFifth
Avenue.Therestofthetime,Ishopped.An,InspectorMartinMcGee,believe
me,Ibeguntofeelwrong,somehow.”
RosaliestoppedforbreathandInspectorMcGeejerkedoutaquicklaughof
anticipation.
“Itwasn’ttilllastweekthatIlookedmyselfoveranfoundIwasn’thappy.To
makenobonesofit,beinarealladywhichI’dwantedtobeallmylifejest
boredmetodeath.Itwasn’tasthoughI’dhadsomebodytodoitwith.Thatwas
thetrouble,Iguess.IneverdidassociatewithmediumsmuchIalwayswasonto
them.Twoorthreeofemcrawledaroundantriedtograftonme.Ifixedem.
Theydon’tknownothingonmeexceptIusedtobeinthebusiness,butIknow
everythingonthem.Withotherrichpeople,likeme,Iwasn’tmakinnoheadway
atall.Thatwasn’tthewholeofit,either.HereI’dbeentwentyyearstakincare
ofotherpeople’stroubles,gettingfunoutofjestlisteningtoem,anexcitement
outofwonderingwhatthey’ddonext.AnImissedit.”
“Ibetyoudid,”saidMartinMcGeeadmiringly.
“Well,lastweekIsetdownandhadagoodlongdisputewithmyself.Youcan’t
gobacktothebusiness,saysI.RosalieLeGrange,you’vegotjestwhatyou’ve
alwayswanted,an’yetyouain’thappy.Whatyouneedisacompromise,’saidI.
An’nextmorning—itcometome.Maybethespiritssentit.Youcanlaugh,
InspectorMcGee,butthere’ssomethinginthisspiritthing.Iusedtothinkthere
was,an’thenagainI’dthinktherewasn’t—eveninmyownclairvoyance.But
themoreyouknowaboutthisclairvoyantthingthemoreyoudon’tknow,an’
thatstandswhetheryou’reapsychicresearcheroraclairvoyantyourself.


“Well,anyhow,itcametomelikeaflash—boarders!Icouldrunmyhousejust
thewayIwanted,becauseIneedn’tlookoutforprofits.AnIcouldtakejestwho
IwantedandshutoutwhoeverIdidn’twant.Thethoughtchirkedmealot.
ThinksI:I’vegotasmoking-roomandacozycorneranasunparlor,andthey
ain’tmanyfolksthatboardgetthemcomforts.SoIfixedallthebedroomsup
sensiblewithgoodwhiteandgoldbedsandadult-sizetowelsangavethemall
littlefixytouchesthatmadethemhomelike.”
AgainMadameLeGrangerandown.Shepantedsoftlyamoment.
InspectorMcGeedroppedaheavyfistonhismahoganydesk.“Itwouldtakeyou
tolookuponaboardinghouseasfun!”hechuckled.
“AnIwasjestreadytobegintolookaroundanadvertisewhenthishappened.
TheideastruckmeassoonasIsawthestateofthepeopleinthathouse.The
policewouldputitunderguard,antheboarderswouldbeoutofahome.SoI
movedemoverbodily,allbuttheoneyoupinchedthesicklittledagowoman
fromupstairs,anthetwogirls,andthatfunnyoldProfessorNoll.AnI’meven
puttingupwiththelandladyifitwasotherpeople’stroublesIwaslookinfor,I
got‘emallright!”
“Gee!”ejaculatedMartinMcGee.“Icanuseyou—”
“Yes,youcan,”interruptedRosalie,“butyouwon’t.Iknowwhatyouwant.You
wantmetogotoworkanhelpcinchthiscase.Well,Iwon’t.I’moutofthat
business,too.WhatI’mherefor,MartinMcGeebeyondthepleasureIalways
tookinyoursociety”hereRosalieletherdimplesplayandflash“istotellallI
knoworsaw,so’syouwon’tbecallin’meattheinquestangettin’meafeature
inthepapers.”
“HowaboutthismanNorth?”askedtheInspector.
“Well,inthefirstplace,Ilikehim,”saidRosalie;“Ilikethatboy.”
“You’renodifferentfromeveryotherladythat’slookedintothatterrierfaceof
his,”respondedMartinMcGee,smilingheavily.“I’vebeenhavinghisrecord
trailedallday.Seemsheknowseverybody,excepttheswells,onhisbeat,the
twocops,thepaper-boy,thebartendershe’sstrongtherethebootblacks,the
wopsonthefruitstand,thekiketailor,thecabmen,theexpressmenandthe
postman,eventhechinklaundrymen.Hewasbestmanlastweekatthe


postman’swedding,andtheydosayeveryonewhoknowshimstickstojustone
thingwhoeverdoneit,twasn’tTommyNorth.Thatmayseeminhisfavor,but
there’stwothingsagainsthim;one”MartinMcGeeliftedaheavypurplefinger
“hedoesmostofhissleepingbetweenthehoursofhalfpasttwoandhalfpast
seveninthemorning;andtwo”anotherpurplefingerpoppeduptojointhefirst
“hespendsmostofhisextramoneyatpoolparlors,Austrianvillagesandcabaret
shows,wherehehassomereputationasaturkeytrotter.Foraboythatjustcome
downfromthecountrythreeyearsago,Imustsayhe’sbeengoingsome,andthe
onlywondertomeisthatTammanyain’tgotholdofhimlongago.Doyouthink
hehadanythingtodowithit?”
“Iain’tcommittinmyselfastowhodoneitdiditIdon’thavetothinkaboutthat
anymorenowI’vestoppedbeinalady,”saidRosalie,sweepingintodigression.
“You’llneverknowthefightIhadwiththisgrammarthingaftertalkinforforty
yearsjestlikeIwantedto.Thankthelord,that’sover.Well,anyhow,Iain’t
committinmyself.LookslikeanalibiforMr.Northwhenthelandladysayshe
comeupthestairsonlyaminutebeforehehollered,anthedoctorsaysthatthis
Hanskahadbeendeadtwoorthreehours.Appearedtomelikehewasjestjarred
outofadrunk,too.HowaboutthisLawrenceWadeorwhateverhisnamewas
themanwhocalledwiththebag?Gothim?”
“HewasarrestedthismorninginBoston.”
“Skippin’?Looksbad.Hasitoccurredtoyoutoinvestigatethatyoungman’s
athleticrecord?”
InspectorMcGeejumpedandturnedonher.Rosaliewasalwayslettingslip
someoftheseextraordinarybitsofknowledge.
“Howdidyouknow,”inquiredInspectorMcGee,“thathewasanathlete?”
Rosalielookedverygrave.Butsheansweredhisquestionbyanother.
“Hewasn’tafencer?”
Foranswer,McGeepickedupared-boundcollegeannualfromhisdesk.
“We’vebeenfollowinghimup,yousee.”Andinthetabulatedrecordshe
pointedoutoneline,“Presidentfencingclub,1898-99.”


“Looksbad,”commentedRosalie.
“Why?”
“Howwouldyoustabamanifyouwerestabbinginahurry?”askedRosalie.
“Try.Here’sapenholder.Thepointofthepenisthepointoftheknife.Now!”
InspectorMcGeegraspedthepenholdersothatthepointprotrudedfromunder
hislittlefinger.Soholdingit,hemadeadownwardsweepthroughtheair.
“Ofcourse,that’showI’dgoatit,”saidMcGee,“butaregularknifeman—”
“Exactly,”interruptedRosalie.“Andyourknifewouldgoinfromabove,now
wouldn’tit?Thewoundwouldpointdown.Nowtryitthisway”Rosalie
arrangedtheweaponwhichismightierthantheswordinsuchmannerthatthe
pointextendedfromunderherforefinger.“Orthis”nowsheheldthefencer’s
grip,theshaft,lyingobliquelyalongthepalm,controlledandguidedbythe
sensitivefinger-points.“Now.Hewasstabbedintheheart,butfrombeneath.
Thewoundpointedupward.Withyourgrip,youcouldn’tstabastandingman
upward,notifheletyou.Withmygrip,Icouldn’tstabdownwardtosavemy
life.”
MartinMcGeewentintoheavythoughtwhilehestruggledforobjections.
“Supposehewaslyingdown?”heasked,atlast.
“Onthefloor?Beggintobestabbed?”jabbedRosalie.
“Maybehewasstabbedinbedandgotoutanddiedonthefloor.”
“Annevermadeanydisturbanceorleftanybloodbehind?Besides,thebed
wasn’tmussedatall.Itwasjustthrownbackasthoughhe’dgotupquietand
natural.”
“Yousawallthatintwominutes!”exclaimedMcGee.“Inevercouldunderstand
howyoudidit.”
“Ifyou’dspentyourwholelife,”repliedRosalie,“sizinupsitterswithpast,
presentanfutureinthetwominutesthatyouwasfakintrance,you’dseethings
inahurry,too!”


“Well,howonearthdidyouknowthataboutfencers?”
“Easyaslyinansimpleaswomen,“‘repliedRosalie.“Iusedtoroomwitha
littleactressthatfencedtheoneIwashavinsupperwithlastnight.Butnow,
Inspector,justtoclosethingsup,I’moutofthiscase.I’vegivenyouallIknow.
Yourpolicewillbebotherinmyboardersalotwithquestions;ansowillthe
reporters.Justtrustmetosteerthat.Youkeepmeout.”
MartinMcGeesighed.
“Allright,Rosalie;butI’dlikeyourhelp.Still,Ioweyoulotsofgoodturns,and
thecasedon’tlookasmysterious,afterall.Iguessit’sthatfellowWade.”
“Don’tgettoosuddenwithyourguesses,”repliedRosalie.“Howdoesyourdope
go,anyway?Haveyoulookedupeverybodythatsleptinthehouselastnight?
I’dliketoknowprettywellifI’mcherishinamurdererinmymidst.”
“They’rebeinglookedup,”repliedMcGee.“I’vetakenpersonalchargeofthis,
butthe
Captaincommandingtheprecinctdetectivesishelpingwiththeleg-work.The
housewasn’tentered.Wade,ormaybeNorth,didthisunlessitwasaninsidejob.
There’sthelandladywell,itmighthavebeenheraswellasanybody,ofcourse
exceptshe’sakindofanoldfool.Shejustdon’tlooklikely—”
Rosalienodded.
“Youcancountherout.”
“ThatProfessorNollisaharmlessoldcrank.Stillthey’rethepeoplethatdosuch
thingssometimes.Nowyou’vebroughtupthatpointaboutfencershewas
educatedinaGermanuniversity.Heidwell,whateveryoucallit.Theypractise
somekindofDutchswordgameoverthere,don’tthey?Therewasn’tany
servantinthehouse.Mrs.Moore’smaidsandfurnacemanwereniggers,andnig
gerssometimesuseknives.ThefurnacemanisnamedTremontTaylor.He
gambles;andwhenacoongambleshe’slikelytodoworse.Thatgetsusdownto
thewomen.MissEstrillaisupherefromCaracas,whichisinVenezuela,forher
eyes.Herbrother’sherewithher.He’stheagentinNewYorkforanindependent
asphaltcompanyofCaracas.


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