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Midnight by Octavus Roy Cohen

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Taxicab No. 92,381 skidded crazily on the icy pavement of Atlantic
Avenue. Spike Walters, its driver, cursed roundly as he applied the
brakes and with difficulty obtained control of the little closed car.
Depressing the clutch pedal, he negotiated the frozen thoroughfare and
parked his car in the lee of the enormous Union Station, which bulked
forbiddingly in the December midnight.

Atlantic Avenue was deserted. The lights at the main entrance of the
Union Station glowed frigidly. Opposite, a single arc-lamp on the corner
of Cypress Street cast a white, cheerless light on the gelid pavement.
The few stores along the avenue were dark, with the exception of the
warmly lighted White Star restaurant directly opposite the Stygian spot
where Spike's car was parked.

The city was in the grip of the first cold wave of the year. For two days
the rain had fallen--a nasty, drizzling rain which made the going soggy
and caused people to greet one another with frowns. Late that afternoon
the mercury had started a rapid downward journey. Fires were piled high
in the furnaces, automobile-owners poured alcohol into their radiators.
The streets were deserted early, and the citizens, for the most part, had
retired shiveringly under mountains of blankets and down quilts still
redolent of moth-balls.

Winter had come with freezing blasts which swept around corners and
chilled to the bone. The rain of two days became a driving sleet, which
formed a mirror of ice over the city.

On the seat of his yellow taxicab, Spike Walters drew a heavy lap-robe
more closely about his husky figure and shivered miserably. Fortunately,
the huge bulk of the station to his right protected him in a large
measure from the shrieking wintry winds. Mechanically Spike kept his eyes
focused upon the station entrance, half a block ahead.

But no one was there. Nowhere was there a sign of life, nowhere an
indication of warmth or cheer or comfort. With fingers so numb that they
were almost powerless to do the bidding of his mind, Spike drew forth his
watch and glanced at it. Midnight!

Spike replaced the watch, blew on his numb fingers in a futile effort to
restore warmth, slipped his hands back into a pair of heavy--but, on
this night, entirely inadequate--driving-gloves, and gave himself over to
a mental rebellion against the career of a professional taxi-driver.

"Worst night I've ever known," he growled to himself; and he was not
far wrong.

Midnight! No train due until 12.25, and that an accommodation from some
small town up-State. No taxi fares on such a train as that. The
north-bound fast train--headed for New York--that was late, too. Due at
11.55, Spike had seen a half-frozen station-master mark it up as being
fifty minutes late. Perhaps a passenger to be picked up there--some
sleepy, disgruntled, entirely unhappy person eager to attain the warmth
and coziness of a big hotel.

Yet Spike knew that he must wait. The company for which he worked
specialized on service. It boasted that every train was met by a
yellow taxicab--and this was Spike's turn for all-night duty at the
Union Station.

All the independent taxi-drivers had long since deserted their posts. The
parking space on Cypress Street, opposite the main entrance of the
station--a space usually crowded with commercial cars--was deserted. No
private cars were there, either. Spike seemed alone in the drear December
night, his car an exotic of the early winter.

Ten minutes passed--fifteen. The cold bit through Spike's overcoat,
battled to the skin, and chewed to the bone. It was well nigh unbearable.
The young taxi-driver's lips became blue. He tried to light a cigarette,
but his fingers were unable to hold the match.

He looked around. A street-car, bound for a suburb, passed noisily. It
paused briefly before the railroad-station, neither discharging nor
taking on a passenger, then clanged protestingly on its way. Impressed in
Spike's mind was a mental picture of the chilled motorman, and of the
conductor huddled over the electric heater within the car. Spike felt a
personal resentment against that conductor. Comfort seemed unfair on a
night like this; heat a luxury more to be desired than much fine gold.

From across the street the light of the White Star Cafe beckoned.
Ordinarily Spike was not a patron of the White Star, nor other eating
establishments of its class. The White Star was notoriously unsanitary,
its food poisonously indigestible; but as Spike's eyes were held
hypnotically by the light he thought of two things--within the circle of
that light he could find heat and a scalding liquid which was flavored
with coffee.

The vision was too much for Spike. The fast train, due now at 12.45,
might bring a fare. It was well beyond the bounds of reason that he would
get a passenger from the accommodation due in a few minutes. There were
no casuals abroad.

The young driver clambered with difficulty from his seat. He staggered as
he tried to stand erect, his numb limbs protesting against the burden of
his healthy young body. A gale howled around the dark Jackson Street
corner of the long, rambling station, and Spike defensively covered both
ears with his gloved hands.

He made his way eagerly across the street; slipping and sliding on the
glassy surface, head bent against the driving sleet, clothes crackling
where particles of ice had formed. Spike reached the door of the
eating-house, opened it, and almost staggered as the warmth of the place
smote him like a hot blast.

For a few seconds he stood motionless, reveling in the sheer animal
comfort of the change. Then he made his way to the counter, seated
himself on a revolving stool, and looked up at the waiter who came
stolidly forward from the big, round-bellied stove at the rear.

"Hello, George!"

The restauranteur nodded.


"My gosh! What a night!"

"Pretty cold, ain't it?"

"Cold?" Spike Walters looked up antagonistically. "Say, you don't know
what cold means. I'd rather have your job to-night than a million
dollars. Only if I had a million dollars I'd buy twenty stoves, set 'em
in a circle, build a big fire in each one, sit in the middle, and tell
winter to go to thunder--that's what I'd do. Now, George, hustle and lay
me out a cup of coffee, hot--get that?--and a couple of them greasy
doughnuts of yourn."

The coffee and doughnuts were duly produced, and the stolid Athenian
retired to the torrid zone of his stove. Spike bravely tried one of the
doughnuts and gave it up as a bad job, but he quaffed the coffee with an
eagerness which burned his throat and imparted a pleasing sensation of
inward warmth. Then he stretched luxuriously and lighted a cigarette.

He glanced through the long-unwashed window of the White Star
Cafe--"Ladies and gents welcome," it announced--and shuddered at the
prospect of again braving the elements. Across the street his
unprotesting taxicab stood parked parallel to the curb; beyond it
glowered the end of the station. To the right of the long, rambling
structure he could see the occasional glare of switch engines and
track-walkers' lanterns in the railroad yards.

As he looked, he saw the headlight of the locomotive at the head of the
accommodation split the gloom. Instinctively Spike rose, paid his
check, and stood uncomfortably at the door, buttoning the coat tightly
around his neck.

Of course it was impossible that the accommodation carried a fare for
him; but then duty was duty, and Spike took exceeding pride in the
company for which he worked. The company's slogan of service was part of
Spike's creed. He opened the door, recoiled for a second as the gale
swept angrily against him, then plunged blindly across the street. He
clambered into the seat of his cab, depressed the starter, and
eventually was answered by the reluctant cough of the motor. He raced it
for a while, getting the machinery heated up preparatory to the
possibility of a run.

Then he saw the big doors at the main entrance of the station open and a
few melancholy passengers, brought to town by the accommodation train,
step to the curb, glance about in search of a street-car, and then duck
back into the station. Spike shoved his clutch in and crawled forward
along the curb, leaving the inky shadows of the far end of the station,
and emerging finally into the effulgence of the arc at the corner of
Cypress Street.

Once again the door of the Union Station opened. This time Spike took a
professional interest in the person who stepped uncertainly out into the
night. Long experience informed him that this was a fare.

She was of medium height, and comfortably guarded against the frigidity
of the night by a long fur coat buttoned snugly around her neck. She wore
a small squirrel tam, and was heavily veiled. In her right hand she
carried a large suit-case and in her left a purse.

She stepped to the curb and looked around inquiringly. She signalled the
cab. Even as he speeded his car forward, Spike wondered at her
indifference to the almost unbearable cold.

"Cab, miss?"

He pulled up short before her.

"Yes." Her tone was almost curt. She had her hand on the door handle
before Spike could make a move to alight. "Drive to 981 East End Avenue."

Without leaving the driver's seat, Spike reached for her suit-case and
put it beside him. The woman--a young woman, Spike reflected--stepped
inside and slammed the door. Spike fed the gas and started, whirling
south on Atlantic Avenue for two blocks, and then turning to his left
across the long viaduct which marks the beginning of East End Avenue.

He settled himself for a long and unpleasant drive. To reach 981 East End
Avenue he had to drive nearly five miles straight in the face of the
December gale.

And then he found himself wondering about the woman. Her coat--a rich fur
thing of black and gray--her handbag, her whole demeanor--all bespoke
affluence. She had probably been visiting at some little town, and had
come down on the accommodation; but no one had been there to meet her.
Anyway, Spike found himself too miserable and too cold to reflect much
about his passenger.

He drove into a head wind. The sleet slapped viciously against his
windshield and stuck there. The patent device he carried for the purpose
of clearing rain away refused to work. Spike shoved his windshield up in
order to afford a vision of the icy asphalt ahead.

And then he grew cold in earnest. He seemed to freeze all the way
through. He drove mechanically, becoming almost numb as the wind,
unimpeded now, struck him squarely. He lost all interest in what he was
doing or where he was going. He called himself a fool for having left the
cozy warmth of the White Star Cafe. He told himself--

Suddenly he clamped on the brakes. It was a narrow squeak! The end of the
long freight train rumbled on into the night. Spike hadn't seen it; only
the racket of the big cars as they crossed East End Avenue, and then the
lights on the rear of the caboose, had warned him.

He stopped his car for perhaps fifteen seconds to make sure that the
crossing was clear, then started on again, a bit shaken by the narrow
escape. He bumped cautiously across the railroad tracks.

The rest of the journey was a nightmare. The suburb through which he was
passing seemed to have congealed. Save for the corner lights, there was
no sign of life. The roofs and sidewalks glistened with ice. Occasionally
the car struck a bump and skidded dangerously. Spike had forgotten his
passenger, forgotten the restaurant, the coffee, the weather itself. He
only remembered that he was cold--almost unbearably cold.

Then he began taking note of the houses. There was No. 916. He looked
ahead. These were houses of the poorer type, the homes of laborers
situated on the outer edge of the suburb of East End. Funny--the
handsomely dressed woman--such a poor neighborhood--

He came to a halt before a dilapidated bungalow which squatted darkly in
the night. Stiff with cold, he reached his hand back to the door on the
right of the car, and with difficulty opened it. Then he spoke:

"Here y'are, miss--No. 981!"

There was no answer. Spike repeated:

"Here y'are, miss."

Still no answer. Spike clambered stiffly from the car, circled to the
curb, and stuck his head in the door.

"Here, miss--"

Spike stepped back. Then he again put his head inside the cab.

"Well, I'll be--"

The thing was impossible, and yet it was true. Spike gazed at the seat.
The woman had disappeared!

The thing was absurd; impossible. He had seen her get into the cab at the
Union Station. There, in the front of the car, was her suit-case; but she
had gone--disappeared completely, vanished without leaving a sign.

Momentarily forgetful of the cold, Spike found a match and lighted it.
Holding it cupped in his hands, he peered within the cab. Then he
recoiled with a cry of horror.

For, huddled on the floor, he discerned the body of a man!



The barren trees which lined the broad deserted thoroughfare jutted
starkly into the night, waving their menacing, ice-crusted arms. The
December gale, sweeping westward, shrieked through the glistening
branches. It shrieked warning and horror, howled and sighed, sighed
and howled.

Spike Walters felt suddenly ill. He forgot the cold, and was conscious of
a fear which acted like a temporary anesthesia. For a few seconds he
stood staring, until the match which he held burned out and scorched the
flesh of his fingers. His jaw dropped, his eyes widened. He opened his
lips and tried to speak, but closed them again without having uttered a
sound save a choking gasp. He tried again, feeling an urge for
speech--something, anything, to make him believe that he was here,
alive--that the horror within the cab was real. This time he uttered an
"Oh, my God!"

The words seemed to vitalize him. He fumbled for another match, found it,
and lighted it within the cab. It seemed to have the radiance of an

Spike had hoped that his first impression would prove to be a mere
figment of his imagination; but now there was no doubting. There,
sprawled in an ugly, inhuman heap on the floor, head resting against the
cushioned seat of the cab, was the figure of a man. There was no doubt
that he was dead. Even Spike, young, optimistic, and unversed in the ways
of death as he was, knew that he was alone with a corpse.

And as he gazed, a strange courage came to him. He found himself
emboldened to investigate. He was shivering while he did so, shivering
with fear and with the terrific cold of the night. He could not quite
bring himself to touch the body, but he did not need to move it to see
that murder had been done.

The clothes told him instantly that the man was of high social station.
They were obviously expensive clothes, probably tailor-made. The big
coat, open at the top, was flung back. Beneath, Spike discerned a gray
tweed--and on the breast of the gray tweed was a splotch, a dark, ugly
thing which appeared black and was not black. Spike shuddered. He had
never liked the sight of blood.

The match spluttered and went out. Spike looked around. He felt
hopelessly alone. Not a pedestrian; not a light. The houses, set well
back from the street, were dark, forbiddingly dark.

He saw a street-car rattle past, bound on the final run of the night for
the car-sheds at East End. Then he was alone again--alone and frightened.

He felt the necessity for action. He must do something--something, but
what? What was there to do?

A great fear gripped him. He was with the body. The body was in his cab.
He would be arrested for the murder of the man!

Of course he knew he didn't do it. The woman had committed the murder.

Spike swore. He had almost forgotten the woman. Where was she? How had
she managed to leave the taxicab? When had the man, who now lay sprawled
in the cab, entered it?

He had driven straight from the Union Station to the address given by
the woman--straight down East End Avenue, turning neither to right nor
left. The utter impossibilty of the situation robbed it of some of its
stark horror. And yet--

Spike knew that he must do something. He tried to think connectedly, and
found it a difficult task. Near him loomed the shadow which was No. 981
East End Avenue--the address given by the woman when she entered the cab.
He might go in there and report the circumstances. Some one there would
know who she was, and--but he hesitated.

Perhaps this thing had been prearranged. Perhaps they would get him--for
what he didn't know. When a man--a young man--comes face to face with
murder for the first time, making its acquaintance on a freezing December
midnight and in a lonely spot, he is not to be blamed if his mental
equilibrium is destroyed.

Wild plans chased each other through his brain. He might dump the body by
the roadside and run back to town. That was absurd on the face of it, for
he would be convicting himself when the body was found. It would be
traced to him in some way--he knew that. He was already determined to
keep away from No. 981 East End Avenue. There was something sinister in
the unfriendly shadow of the rambling house. He might call the police.

That was it--he would call the police. But how? Go into a house near by,
wake the residents, telephone headquarters that a murder had been done?
Alarm the neighborhood, and identify himself with the crime? Spike was
afraid, frankly and boyishly afraid--afraid of the present, and more
afraid of the future.

And yet he knew that he must get in touch with the police, else the
police would eventually get in touch with him. He thought then of taking
the body in to headquarters; but he feared that his cab might be stopped
_en route_ to the city and the body discovered. They would never believe,
then, that he had been bound for headquarters.

Almost before he knew that he had arrived at a decision, Spike had groped
his way across the icy street and pressed the bell-button on the front
door of the least unprepossessing house on the block.

For a long time there was no answer. Finally a light shone in the hall,
and the skinny figure of a man, shivering violently despite the
blanket-robe which enfolded him, appeared in the hallway. He flashed on
the porch light from inside and peered through the glass door. Apparently
reassured, he cracked the door slightly.

"Yes. What do you want?"

At sound of a human voice, Spike instantly felt easier. The fact that he
could converse, that he had shed his terrible loneliness, steadied him as
nothing else could have done. He was surprised at his own calmness, at
the fact that there was scarcely a quaver in the voice with which he
answered the man.

"I'm Spike Walters," he said with surprising quietness. "I'm a driver for
the Yellow and White Taxicab Company. My cab is No. 92,381. I have a man
in my cab who has been badly injured. I want to telephone to the city."

The little householder opened the door wider, and Spike entered. Cold as
the house was, from the standpoint of the man within, its hold-over
warmth was a godsend to Spike's thoroughly chilled body.

The little man designated a telephone on the wall, then started nervously
as central answered and Spike barked a single command into the

"Police-station, please!"


"Never you mind, sir," Spike told the householder. "Hello! Police!" he
called to the operator.

There was a pause, then Spike went on:

"This is Spike Walters--Yellow and White Taxi Company. I'm out at No. 981
East End Avenue. There's a dead man in my cab!"

The weary voice at the other end became suddenly alive.

"A dead man!"


"Who is he?"

"I don't know. That's why I called you."

"When did he die? How?"

Spike controlled himself with an effort.

"Don't you understand? He has been killed--"

"The devil you say!" replied the voice at headquarters, and the little
householder chimed in with a frightened squeak.

"Yes," repeated Spike painstakingly. "The man is dead--killed. It is very
peculiar. I can't explain over the phone. I called up to ask you what I
shall do."

"Hold connection a minute!" Spike heard a hurried whispered conversation
at the other end, then the voice barked back at him: "Stay where you
are--couple of officers coming, and coming fast!"

It was Dan O'Leary, night desk sergeant, who was on duty at headquarters
that night, and Sergeant Dan O'Leary was a good deal of an institution on
the city's force. He hopped excitedly from his desk into the office of
Eric Leverage, the chief of police.

Chief Leverage, a broad-shouldered, heavy-set, bushy-eyebrowed
individual, looked up from the chess-board, annoyed at this interruption
of a game which had been in progress since ten o'clock that night.
O'Leary grabbed a salute from thin air.

"'Scuse my botherin' ye, chief, but there's hell to pay out at East End."

O'Leary was never long at coming to the point. Leverage looked up.
So, too, did the boyish, clean-shaven young man with whom he was
playing chess.

"An' knowin' that Mr. Carroll was playin' chess with ye, chief--an' him
naturally interested in such things--I hopped right in."

"I'll say you did," commented the chief phlegmatically. "I have you
there, Carroll--dead to rights!"

O'Leary was a trifle irritated at the cold reception accorded his news.

"Ye ain't after understanding" he said slowly. "It's murder that has been
done this night."

"H-m!" Carroll's slow, pleasant drawl seemed to soothe O'Leary. "Murder?"

"You said it, Mr. Carroll."

Leverage had risen. It was plain to be seen from his manner that the
chess-game was forgotten. Leverage was a policeman first and a
chess-player second--a very poor second. His voice, surcharged with
interest, cracked out into the room.

"Spill the dope, O'Leary!"

The night desk sergeant needed no further bidding. In a few graphic words
he outlined his telephone conversation with Spike Walters.

Before he finished speaking, Leverage was slipping into his enormous
overcoat. He nodded to Carroll.

"How about trotting out there with me, David?"

Carroll smiled agreeably.

"Thank goodness my new coupe has a heating device, chief!"

That was all. It wasn't David Carroll's way to talk much, or to show any
untoward emotion. It was Carroll's very boyishness which was his greatest
asset. He had a way of stepping into a case before the principals knew he
was there, and of solving it in a manner which savored not at all of
flamboyance. A quiet man was Carroll, and one whose deductive powers Eric
Leverage fairly worshiped.

On the slippery, skiddy journey to East End the two men--professional
policeman and amateur criminologist--did not talk much. A few comments
regarding the sudden advent of fiercest winter; a remark, forcedly
jocular, from the chief, that murderers might be considerate enough to
pick better weather for the practice of their profession--and that was
all. Thus far they knew nothing about the case, and they were both too
well versed in criminology to attempt a discussion of something with
which they were unfamiliar.

Spike Walters saw them coming--saw their headlights splitting the
frigid night. He was at the curb to meet them as they pulled up. He
told his story briefly and concisely. Leverage inspected the young man
closely, made note of his license number and the number of his
taxi-cab. Then he turned to his companion, who had stood by, a silent
and interested observer.

"S'pose you talk to him a bit, Carroll."

"I'm David Carroll," introduced the other man. "I'm connected with the
police department. There's a few things you tell which are rather
peculiar. Any objections to discussing them?"

In spite of himself, Spike felt a genial warming toward this boyish-faced
man. He had heard of Carroll, and rather feared his prowess; but now that
he was face to face with him, he found himself liking the chap. Not only
that, but he was conscious of a sense of protection, as if Carroll were
there for no other purpose than to take care of him, to see that he
received a square deal.

"Yes, sir, Mr. Carroll, I'll be glad to tell you anything I know."

"You have said, Walters, that the passenger you picked up at the Union
Station was a woman."

"Yes, sir, it was a woman."

"Are you sure?"

"Why, yes, sir. I couldn't very well be mistaken. You see--o-o-oh!
You're thinking maybe it was a man in woman's clothes? Is that it, sir?"

Carroll smiled.

"What do _you_ think?"

"That's impossible, sir. It was a woman--I'd swear to that."

"Pretty positive, eh?"

"Absolutely, sir. Besides, take the matter of the overcoat the--the--body
has on. Even if what you think was so, sir--that it was a woman dressed
up like a man--and if he had gotten rid of the women's clothes, where
would he have gotten the clothes to put on?"

"H-m! Sounds logical. How about the suit-case you said this woman had?"

"Yonder it is--right on the front beside me, where it has been all
the time."

"And you tell us that between the time you left the Union Station and the
time you got here a man got into the taxicab, was killed by the woman,
the woman got out, and you heard nothing?"

"Yes, sir," said Spike simply. "Just that, sir."

"Rather hard to believe, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir. That's why I called the police." Chief Leverage was shivering
under the impact of the winter blasts.

"S'pose we take a look at the bird, David," he suggested, nodding toward
the taxi. "That might tell us something."

Carroll nodded. The men entered the taxi, and Leverage flashed a
pocket-torch in the face of the dead man. Then he uttered an exclamation
of surprise not unmixed with horror.

"Good Lord!"

"You know him?" questioned Carroll easily.

"Know him? I'll say I do. Why, man, that's Roland Warren!"

"Warren! Roland Warren! Not the clubman?"

"The very same one, Carroll, an' none other. Well, I'm a sonovagun!
Sa-a-ay, something surely _has_ been started here." He swung around on
the taxi-driver. "You, Walters!"

"Yes, sir?"

"You are sure the suit-case is still in front?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well"--to Carroll--"that makes it easier. It's the woman's suit-case,
and if we can't find out who she is from that, we're pretty bum, eh?"

"Looks so, Erie. You're satisfied"--this to Walters--"that that is her

"Absolutely. It hasn't been off the front since she handed it to me at
the station."

Carroll swung the suit-case to the inside of the cab. It opened readily.
Leverage kept his light trained on it as Carroll dug swiftly through the
contents. Finally the eyes of the two men met. Carroll's expression was
one of frank amazement; Leverage's reflected sheer unbelief.

"It can't be, Carroll!"

"Yet--it is!"

"Sufferin' wildcats!" breathed Leverage. "The suit-case ain't the woman's
at all! It's Warren's!"



The thing was incomprehensible, yet true. Not a single article of
feminine apparel was contained in the suit-case. Not only that, but
every garment therein which bore an identification mark was the
property of Roland Warren, the man whose body leered at them from the
floor of the taxicab.

The two detectives again inspected the suit-case. An extra suit had been
neatly folded. The pockets bore the label of a leading tailor, and the
name "Roland R. Warren." The tailor-made shirts and underwear bore the
maker's name and Warren's initials. The handkerchiefs were Warren's. Even
those articles which were without name or initials contained the same
laundry-mark as those which they knew belonged to the dead man.

Carroll's face showed keen interest. This newest development had rather
startled him, and made an almost irresistible appeal to his love for the
bizarre in crime. The very fact that the circumstances smacked of the
impossible intrigued him. He narrowed his eyes and gazed again upon the
form of the dead man. Finally he nudged Leverage and designated three
initials on the end of the suit-case.

"R.R.W.--Roland R. Warren!" Leverage grunted. "It's his, all right,
Carroll. But just the same there ain't no such animal."

Carroll turned to the dazed Walters.

"Understand what we've just discovered, son?" he inquired mildly.

Spike's teeth were chattering with cold.

"I don't hardly understand none of it, sir. 'Cording to what I make out,
that suit-case belongs to the body and not to the woman."

"Right! Now what I want to know is how that could be."

Spike shook his head dazedly.

"Lordy, Mr. Carroll, I couldn't be knowing that."

"You're sure the woman got into your cab alone?"

"Absolutely, sir. She came through the waiting-room alone, carrying that
very same suit-case--"

"You're positive it was _that_ suit-case?"

"Yes, sir--that is, as positive as I can be. You see I was on the lookout
for a fare, but wasn't expecting one, on account of the fact that this
here train was an accommodation, and folks that usually come in on it
take street-cars and not a taxi. Well, the minute I seen a good-lookin',
well-dressed woman comin' out the door, I sort of noticed. It surprised
me first off, because I asked myself what she was doing on that train."

"You thought it was peculiar?"

"Not peculiar, exactly; but sort of--of--interesting."

"I see. Go ahead!"

"Well, she was carrying that suit-case, and she seemed in a sort of a
hurry. She walked straight out of the door and toward the curb, and--"

"Did she appear to be expecting some one?"

"No, sir. I noticed that particularly. Sort of thought a fine lady like
her would have some one to meet her, which is how I happened to notice
that she didn't seem to expect nobody. She come right to the curb and
called me. I was parked along the curb on the right side of Atlantic
Avenue--headin' north, that is--and I rolled up. She handed me the
suit-case and told me to drive her to No. 981 East End Avenue. I stuck
the suit-case right where you got it from just now; and while I ain't
sayin' nothin' about what happened back yonder in the cab, Mr. Carroll,
I'll bet anything in the world that that there suit-case is the same one
she carried through the waitin'-room and handed to me."

"H-m! Peculiar. You drove straight out here, Walters?"

"Straight as a bee-line, sir. Frozen stiff, I was, drivin' right into the
wind eastward along East End Avenue, and I had to raise the windshield a
bit because there was ice on it and I couldn't see nothin'--an' my
headlights ain't any too strong."

"You didn't stop anywhere?"

"No, sir. Wait a minute--I did!"


"At the R.L. and T. railroad crossing, sir. I didn't see nor hear no
train there, and almost run into it. It was a freight, and travelin'
kinder slow. I seen the lights of the caboose and stopped the car right
close to the track. I wasn't stopped more'n fifteen or twenty seconds,
and just as soon as the train got by, I went on."

"But you did stand still for a few seconds?"

"Yes, sir."

"If any one had got into or out of the cab right there, would you have
heard them?"

"I don't know that I would. I was frozen stiff, like I told you, sir; and
I wasn't thinking of nothin' like that. Besides, the train was makin' a
noise; an' me not havin' my thoughts on nothin' but how cold I was, an'
how far I had to drive, I mos' prob'ly wouldn't have noticed--although I
might have."

"Looks to me," chimed in Leverage, "as if that's where the shift must
have taken place; though it beats me--"

Carroll lighted a cigarette. Of the three men, he was the only one who
seemed impervious to the cold. Leverage and the taxi-driver were both
shivering as if with the ague. Carroll, an enormous overcoat snuggled
about his neck, his hands thrust deep into his pockets, his boyish face
set with interest, seemed perfectly comfortable. As a matter of fact, the
unique circumstances surrounding the murder had so interested him that he
had quite forgotten the weather.

"Obviously," he said to Leverage, "it's up to us to find out whether the
people at this house here expected a visitor."

"You said it, David; but I haven't any doubt it was a plant, a
fake address."

"I think so, too."

"Wait here." The chief started for the dark little house. "I'll ask 'em."

Three minutes later Leverage was back.

"Said nothing doing," he imparted laconically. "No one expected--no one
away who would be coming back--and then wanted to know who in thunder I
was. They almost dropped dead when I told 'em. No question about it, that
address was a stall. This dame had something up her sleeve, and took care
to see that your taxi man was given a long drive so she'd have plenty of
time to croak Warren."

"Then you think she met him by arrangement, chief?"

"Looks so to me. Only thing is, where did he get in?"

"That's what is going to interest us for some time to come, I'm afraid.
And now suppose we go back to town? I'll drive my car; I'll keep behind
you and Walters, here. You ride together in his cab."

Walters clambered to his seat, and succeeded, after much effort, in
starting his frozen motor. Leverage bulked beside him on the suit-case of
the dead man. The taxi swung cityward, and immediately behind trailed
Carroll in his cozy coupe.

As Carroll drove mechanically through the night, he gave himself over to
a siege of intensive thought. The case seemed fraught with unusual
interest. Already it had developed an overplus of extraordinary
circumstances, and Carroll had a decided premonition that the road of
investigation ahead promised many surprises.

There was every reason why it should. The social prominence of the dead
man, the mysterious disappearance of the handsomely dressed woman--all
the facts of the case pointed to an involved trail.

If it were true that the woman had entered the taxicab alone, that the
man had come in later, and that the murder had been committed by the
woman in the cab before reaching the railroad crossing, the thing must
undoubtedly have been prearranged to the smallest fractional detail. That
being the premise, it was only a logical conclusion that persons other
than the woman and the dead man were involved.

Interesting--decidedly so! But there was nothing to work on. Even the
suit-case clue had vanished into thin air, so far as its value to the
police was concerned.

That suit-case bothered Carroll. He believed Spike's story, and was
convinced that the suit-case which they had examined out on East End
Avenue was the one which the woman had carried from the train to the
taxicab. There again the trail of the dead man and the vanished woman
crossed; else why was she carrying his suit-case?

The journey was over before he knew it. The yellow taxi turned down the
alley upon which headquarters backed, and jerked to a halt before the
ominous brown-stone building. Carroll parked his car at the rear,
assigned some one to stand guard over the body, and the three men,
Leverage carrying the suit-case, ascended the steps to the main room and
thence to the chief's private office.

The warmth of the place was welcome to all of them, and in the
comforting glow of a small grate fire, which nobly assisted the
struggling furnace in its task of heating the spacious structure, Spike
Walters seemed to lose much of the nervousness which he had exhibited
since the discovery of the body. Carroll warmed his hands at the blaze,
and then addressed Leverage.

"How about this case, chief?"

"How about it?"

"You want me to butt in on it?"

"_Want_ you? Holy sufferin' oysters! Carroll, if you didn't work on it,
I'd brain you! You're the only man in the State who could--"

"Soft-pedal the blarney," grinned Carroll. "And now--the suit-case

He dropped to his knees and opened the suit-case. Garment by garment he
emptied it, searching for some clue, some damning bit of evidence, which
might explain the woman's possession of the dead man's belongings. He
found nothing. It was evident that the grip had been carefully packed for
a journey of several days at least; but it was a man's suit-case, and its
contents were exclusively masculine.

Carroll shrugged as he rose to his feet. He turned toward Spike Walters
and laid a gentle hand on the young man's shoulder.

"Walters," he said, "I want to let you know that I believe your story
all the way through. I think that Chief Leverage does, too--how about
it, chief?"

"Sounds all right to me."

"But we've got to hold you for a while, my lad. It's tough, but you were
the person found with the body, and we've naturally got to keep you in
custody. Understand?"

"Yes, sir. It's none too pleasant, but I guess it's all right."

"We'll see that you're made comfortable, and I hope we'll be able to let
you go within a day or so."

He pressed a button, and turned Walters over to one of the officers on
inside duty, with instructions to see that the young taxi-driver was
afforded every courtesy and comfort, and was not treated as a criminal.
Spike turned at the door.

"I want to thank you--"

"That's all right, Spike!"

"You're both mighty nice fellers--especially you, Mr. Carroll. I'm for
you every time!"

Carroll blushed like a schoolgirl. The door closed behind Walters, and
Carroll faced Leverage.

"Next thing is the body, chief."

"Want it up here?"

"If you please."

An orderly was summoned, commands given, and within five minutes the body
of the dead man was borne into the room and laid carefully on the couch.
Leverage glanced inquisitively at Carroll.

"Want the coroner?"

"Surely; and you might also call in the newspapermen."

"Eh? Reporters?"

"Yes. I have a hunch, Leverage, that a great gob of sensational
publicity, right now, will be of inestimable help. Meanwhile let's get
busy before either the coroner or the reporters arrive."

The two detectives went over the body meticulously. Warren had been shot
through the heart. Carroll bent to inspect the wound, and when he
straightened his manner showed that he had become convinced of one
important fact. In response to Leverage's query, he explained:

"Shot fired from mighty close," he said.


"The flame from the gun has scorched his clothes. That's proof enough."

"In the taxi, eh?"


"But the driver would have heard."

"He probably would; but he didn't."


Carroll resumed his inspection of the body, examining every detail of
figure and raiment; and while he worked he talked.

"You know something about this chap?"

"More or less. He's prominent socially; belongs to clubs, and
all that sort of thing. Has money--real money. Bachelor--lives
alone. Has a valet, and all that kind of rot. Owns his car.
Golfer--tennis-player--huntsman. Popular with women--and men, too,
I believe. About thirty-three years old."


"None. He's one of the few men in town who don't work at something.
That's how I happen to know so much about him. A chap who's different
from other fellows is usually worth knowing something about."

"Right you are! But that sort of a man--you'd hardly think he'd be the
victim of--hello, what's this?"

Carroll had been going through the dead man's wallet. He rose to his
feet, and as he did so Leverage saw that the purse was stuffed with bills
of large denomination--a very considerable sum of money. But apparently
Carroll was not interested in the money; in his hand he held a
railroad-ticket and a small purple Pullman check.

"What's the idea?" questioned Leverage.

"Brings us back to the woman again," replied Carroll, with peculiar

"How so?"

"He was planning to take a trip with her."

Leverage glanced at the other man with an admixture of skepticism
and wonder.

"How did you guess that?"

"I didn't guess it. It's almost a sure thing. At least, it is pretty
positive that he was not planning to go alone."

"Yes? Tell me how you know."

Carroll extended his hand.

"See here--a ticket for a drawing-room to New York, and _one_

"Yes, but--"

"Two railroad-tickets are required for possession of the drawing-room,"
he said quietly. "Warren had only one. It is clear, then, that the
holder of the missing ticket was going to accompany him; so what we have
to do now--"

"Is to find the other railroad-ticket," finished Leverage dryly. "Which
isn't any lead-pipe cinch, I'd say!"



Carroll gazed intently upon the face of the dead man. There was a
half quizzical light in the detective's eyes as he spoke, apparently
to no one.

"I've often thought," he said, "in a case like this, how much simpler
things would be if the murdered man could talk."

"H-m!" rejoined the practical Leverage. "If he could, he wouldn't be

"Perhaps you're right. And following that to a logical conclusion, if
he were not dead _we_ wouldn't be particularly interested in what he
had to say."

"All of which ain't got a heap to do with the fact that your work is cut
out for you, Carroll. You're dead sure about that ticket dope, ain't you?
I ain't used to traveling in drawing-rooms myself."

"It's straight enough, Leverage. The railroad company won't allow a
single passenger to occupy a drawing-room--that is, they demand two
tickets. If you, for instance, were traveling alone, and desired a
drawing-room, you'd be compelled to have two tickets for yourself. That
being so, it is plain that Warren there didn't intend making this trip to
New York alone. If he had, he would have had the two tickets along with
the drawing-room check. I am certain that two tickets were bought,
because the railroad men won't sell a drawing-room with a single ticket.
It is obvious, then, that he bought two tickets and gave the other one to
the person who was to make the trip with him."

"The woman, of course!"

"What woman?"

"The woman in the fur coat--the one who got into the taxicab."

"Perhaps; but she came in on the accommodation train after the New York
train was due to leave. The fast train was late."

"So was the accommodation. They are due to make connection."

"That's true. If we can find that ticket--"

"We'll have found the woman, and when we find her the case will end."


The door opened, and Sergeant O'Leary entered.

"The coroner, sorr--him an' a reporter from each av the mornin' papers."

"Show the coroner in first," ordered Carroll. "Let the newspapermen

"Yis, sorr. They seem a bit impatient, sorr. They say they're holdin' up
the city edition for the news, sorr."

"Very good. Tell them Chief Leverage says the story is worth
waiting for."

The coroner--a short, thick-set man--entered and heard the story from
Leverage's lips. He made a cursory examination and nodded to Carroll.

"Inquest in the morning, Mr. Carroll. Meanwhile, I reckon you want to let
them newspapermen in."

The two reporters entered and listened popeyed to the story. They
telephoned a bulletin to their offices, and were assured of an hour's
leeway in phoning in the balance of the story. They were quivering with
excitement over what promised to be, from a newspaper standpoint, the
juiciest morsel of sensational copy with which the city had been blessed
for some time.

To them Carroll recounted the story as he knew it, concealing nothing.

"This is a great space-eating story," he told them in their own
language--the jargon of the fourth estate--"and the more it eats the
better it'll be for me. We want publicity on this case--all you can hand
out big chunks of it. We want to know who that woman was. The way I
figure it, this city is going to get a jolt at breakfast. Every one is
going to be comparing notes. Out of that mass of gossip we may get some
valuable information. Get that?"

"We do. Space in the morning edition will be limited, but by evening, and
the next morning--oh, baby!"

They took voluminous notes and telephoned in enough additional
information to keep the city rooms busy. When they would have gone,
Carroll stopped them.

"Either of you chaps know anything of Warren's personal history?"

The elder of the two nodded.

"I do. Know him personally, in fact. I've played golf with him. Pretty
nice sort."

"Rich, isn't he?"

"Reputed to be. Never works; spends freely--not ostentatiously, but
liberally. Pretty fine sort of a chap. It's a damned shame!"

"How about his relations with women?"

The reporter hesitated and glanced guiltily at the dead body.

"That's rather strong--"

"It's not going beyond here, unless I find it necessary. I've played
clean with you boys. Suppose you do the same with me."

"We-e-ell"--reluctantly--"he was rather much of a rounder. Nothing
coarse about him, but he never was one to resist a woman. Rather the
reverse, in fact."

"Ever been mixed up in a scandal?"

"Not publicly. He's friendly with a good many men--and with their wives.
A dozen, I guess; but the husbands invite him to their homes, so I don't
suppose there could be anything in the gossip. You see, folks are always
too eager to talk about a man in his position and whatever woman he
happens to be friendly with. And anyway, there hasn't been nearly so much
talk about him since his engagement was announced."

"He is engaged?"

"Why, yes."

"To a girl in this city!"

"Sure! I thought you knew that. Dandy girl--Hazel Gresham. You've heard
of Garry Gresham? It's his kid sister."

"So-o! How long has this engagement been known?"

"Couple of months. Pretty soft on both sides; he's got money and so has
she. She's a good scout, too, even if she is a kid."

"How old?"

"Hardly more than twenty; but her family seemed to welcome the match.
Warren and Garry Gresham were pretty good friends. Warren was about
thirty-three or thirty-four, you know. Gossip had it that the family was
going to object because of the difference in ages, but they didn't."

Carroll was silent for a moment.

"Nothing else about him you think might prove interesting?"


"And your idea of the murderer, after what you've heard?"

"The woman in the taxicab killed him."

"When did he get in?"

The reporter threw back his head and laughed.

"What is this--a game? If I knew that I'd have your job, Mr. Carroll.
The dame killed him, all right; and when we find out how she did it, and
when, and how he got in and she got out, we'll have a whale of a story!"

"No theories as to the identity of this woman, have you?"

"Nary one. A chap like Warren--bachelor, unencumbered--is liable to know
a heap of 'em. From what you tell me of the tickets--from the fact that
she was going away with him, I sort of figure you might do a little
social investigating and discover what woman might have been going off
with him."

Eric Leverage had been listening intently. His mind, never swift to work,
yet worked surely. His big voice boomed into the conversation:



"This young fellow says Miss Gresham's family didn't have no objections
to the marriage. It just occurred to me to ask him is he _sure_?"

The reporter flushed.

"Why, no, chief; not sure. You never can be sure about things like that;
but so far as the public knew--"

"That's it, exactly. How do we know, though, but what they were sore as a
pup over it, and just kept their traps closed because they didn't want
any gossip? S'posin' they were trying to break things off, an' makin' it
pretty uncomfortable for the girl? S'pose that, eh?"

"Yes," argued the reporter. "Suppose all of that. Where does it get you?"

"It gets you just here"--Leverage talked slowly, heavily, tapping his
spatulate fingers on the table to emphasize his points--"we know this
bird was going to elope with some skirt. All right! Now I ask this--why
go all around the block, looking for some one he might have been mixed up
with, when the woman a man is most likely to elope with is the girl he's
engaged to marry?"

Silence--several seconds of it. Carroll spoke:

"Miss Gresham, you mean?"

"Sure, David--sure! I'm not sayin' she was the woman, mind you. I'm not
sayin' anything except that if I'm right in thinkin' that maybe her
folks weren't as crazy about this guy Warren as they seemed--if I'm
right in that, maybe they was plannin' to take matters in their own
hands and elope."

"It's possible."

"Sure, it's possible, and--"

"But, chief," interrupted the reporter who had done most of the talking,
"why should Miss Gresham kill Warren?"

"I didn't say she did, did I?"

"If she was the woman in the taxi--"

"If! Sure--_if!_ All I mentioned that for was to show you we might as
well start thinking close to home before we go to beatin' through the
bushes to follow a cold trail."

The reporters left, and Carroll smiled at Leverage.

"Good idea, Eric--about Miss Gresham."

"'Tain't a hunch," said Leverage. "It just made good talkin'."

"I'm glad you did it, anyway."

"What is thare about it that you like?"

"Those newspaper chaps will play it up. Maybe they won't intend to,
but they'll play it up, just the same; and it won't take us long
either to connect Miss Gresham with the crime or to link up an
iron-clad alibi for her."

"H-m! Not bad! You know, Carroll"--and Leverage smiled frankly--"I'm
always makin' these fine suggestions an' pullin' good stunts, an' never
knowin' whether they're good or not until somebody tells me."

"A good many folks are like that, Eric, but they don't admit it

"Neither do I--publicly."

Leverage rose and yawned.

"It's me for the hay, Carroll. I'm played out; and I have a hunch that
to-morrow I'm going to be busy as seven little queen bees--and you, too."

Carroll reached for his overcoat.

"A little bit of thinking things over isn't going to hurt me, either.
Good night!"

Thirty minutes later Carroll reached his apartment, and a half-hour after
that he was sleeping soundly. The following morning he waked "all over,"
as was his habit, and turned his eyes to gaze through the window.

During the night the sleety drizzle had ceased, and the sun streamed
with brilliant coldness upon a city which shone in a glare of ice.
Leafless trees stretched their ice-covered tentacles into the cold,
penetrating air; pedestrians and horses slipped on the glassy pavements;
automobiles either skidded dangerously or set up an incessant rattle
with their chains.

Carroll glanced at his watch. It showed nine o'clock. He started with
surprise. Then he reached for the newspapers on the table at the side of
his bed, and spread open the front pages.

They had evidently been made up anew with the breaking of the Warren
murder story. Eight-column streamers shrieked at him from both front
pages. He read the stories through, and smiled with satisfaction. Just as
he had anticipated, both reporters, hungry for some definite clue upon
which to work, had seized upon the possibility of Hazel Gresham being the
mysterious woman in the taxicab. Not that they said so openly, but they
said enough to make the public know that the detectives in charge of the
case were likely to investigate her movements on the previous night.

Carroll stepped into a shower, then dressed quickly and ate a light
breakfast served him by his maid, Freda. Before he finished, the doorbell
rang, and Freda announced that there was a lady to see him.

"A lady?"

Freda shrugged.

"She ain't bane nothin' but a girl, sir, Mr. Carroll--just a
little girl."

"Show her in."

In two minutes Freda returned, and behind her came the visitor. Carroll
concealed a smile at sight of her. She was a little thing--sixteen or
seventeen years old, he judged--a fluffy, blond girl quivering with
vivacity; the type of girl who is desperately reaching for maturity,
entirely forgetful of the charms of her adolescence. He rose and bowed in
a serious, courtly manner.

"You wish to see me?"

"Yes, sir, I _do_. Is _this_ Mr. Carroll--the famous detective?"

"I am David Carroll--yes."

She inspected him with frank approval.

"Why, you don't look any more than a boy! I thought you were old and had
whiskers--and--and--everything horrid."

"I'm glad you're pleasantly surprised. What can I do for you?"

"Oh, it isn't what you can do for me--it's what I can do for you!"

"And that is?"

"I came to tell you all about this terrible Warren murder case."

"_You_ came to tell _me_ about it?"

"Why, yes," she retorted smilingly. "You see, I know just _heaps_ about
the whole thing!"



Carroll was more than amused; he was keenly interested. He motioned
his visitor to a chair and seated himself opposite, regarding her

She was not exactly the type of person he had anticipated encountering in
a murder investigation. From the tip of her pert little hat to the toes
of her ultra-fashionable shoes she was expressive of the independent
rising generation--a generation wiser in the ways of the world than that
from which it was sprung--a generation strangely bereft of genuine youth,
yet charming in an entirely modern and unique manner.

She was obviously a young person of italics, a human exclamation-point,
enthusiastic, irrepressible. She sat fidgeting in her chair, trying her
best to convince the detective that she was a woman grown.

"I'm Evelyn Rogers," she gushed. "I'm the sister of Naomi Lawrence--you
know her, of _course_. She's one of the city's social leaders. Of course,
she's kind of frumpy and _terribly_ old. She must be--why, I suppose
she's every bit of thirty! And that's simply _awful!"_

"I'm thirty-eight," smiled Carroll.


"Yes, indeed."

"Well, you don't look it. You don't look a day over twenty-two, and I
think men who are really grown up and yet look like boys are simply
_adorable!_ I do, really. And I simply _despise_ boys of twenty-two who
try to look like thirty-eight. Don't you?"

"M-m! Not always."

"Well, _I_ do! They're always putting on airs and trying to make us girls
think they're full-grown. I just simply haven't time to waste with them.
I feel so _old!"_

"I haven't a doubt of it, Miss Rogers. And now--I believe you came to
tell me something about the Warren case?"

"Oh, yes, indeed--just _lots!_ But do you know"--she stared at him with
frank approval--"I'm terribly tickled with the way you look. You may not
believe it, but I've always been _atrociously_ in love with you."


"Yes, indeed! You're such a _wonderful_ man--having your name in the
papers all the time. Oh, I've read about everything you've done!
That's how I learned so much about detectiving--or isn't that what you
call it?"


"That's it. You know I always was simply _incorrigible_ in making up
words when I couldn't think of the right one. Don't you think it's a
lot of trouble sometimes--thinking of just the right word in the
right place?"

"Sometimes. But about the Warren case?"

"Oh, yes, certainly! I'm always getting off my subject, ain't I? I
mean--am I not? Bother grammar, anyway. It's a terrible bore, don't
you think?"

"Yes, Miss Rogers. And now--"

"Back to that awful crime again, aren't you? It's simply sugary the way
you great detectives stick to one subject. I can do it, too, when I have
to. I took some lessons once in power of will--concentration and all that
sort of thing. It made me feel wickedly old; but I learned a great deal
about keeping my mind on one subject all the time. You know, it doesn't
matter what you concentrate on--even if it's only making biscuits, or
something messy and domestic like that--it does you good. It trains you
not to waste words, and to store up your mental energy, and all that sort
of thing. And all the time I was studying that course, I was thinking how
perfectly glorious modern science is. Just suppose Shakespeare had been
able to concentrate like us moderns can! His plays would have been
utterly _marvelous_, wouldn't they?"

"I suppose they would. And now let's try concentrating on the
Warren case."

"That's what I've been leading up to. You see, I knew Mr. Warren very
well. In fact, he was awfully friendly with me. To tell you the
strict truth, and absolutely in confidence, I really believe he was
in love with me!"


"Yes, truly! We women have a way of knowing when a man is in love with
us. He used to be around at the house all the time. Of course, he
pretended that he came around because he liked Sis and Gerald--"


"That's Mr. Lawrence. He's my brother-in-law--Sis's husband.
Insufferably old-timy. Don't think of anything but business. Used to look
at me through his horn-rimmed glasses and say I was entirely too young to
be receiving attentions from a man as old as Mr. Warren; but he didn't
know. I'm not young, really, you know. Of course, I'm not twenty yet, but
a girl can be under twenty and yet be a woman, can't she?"

"Yes"--dryly--"especially after she learns to concentrate."

"And as intimately as I knew Roland--that's Mr. Warren, you know--of
course I didn't call him Roland to his face. Not that he didn't want me
to, but then Sis and Gerald would have disapproved--old frumps! Knowing
him so intimately, and really believing that he was in love with
me--although, of course, the minute he became engaged to Hazel Gresham I
didn't even flirt with him any more--not the least little tiny harmless
bit well, I find it excruciatingly hard to believe that he is dead!"

"He is--quite. We're trying to discover who killed him."

"I know it. That's what I came to see you about."

"So you did. I'd quite forgotten--"

"You ought to learn to concentrate, Mr. Carroll. It's really
ridiculously easy after you've studied it a little bit. Now if I had been
you, and you had been I--me--I never would have forgotten what you came
to see me about. Of course, I know you didn't forget, really; but the
chances are that you were interested talking, and absolutely failed to
remember that poor boy."

"What poor boy?"

"Roland Warren."

Carroll with difficulty concealed a smile.

"I see! And now that I've remembered him again, suppose you tell me what
you know about him and the case?"

"It's principally about what I read in the papers this morning. Really,
Mr. Carroll, there ought to be a law against newspapers printing such
ridiculous things!"

"As what, for instance?"

"That thing they had in there this morning. Why, the way they mentioned
Hazel Gresham, you'd have thought that they thought _she_ was the woman
who killed Roland--the woman in the taxicab."

Carroll's eyes narrowed slightly. The faint smile still played about
his lips.

"You don't think she was?"

"Oh, Mr. Carroll! Please, _please_, don't be so irresistibly _absurd_!
Why in the world should Hazel kill the man she was engaged to?"

"I don't know."

"And besides, what does _she_ know about killing some one? That is the
most bizarre idea I have ever heard in all my life. Besides, she couldn't
have killed him, anyway."

"Why not?"

"Even if she'd wanted to, she couldn't; and I'm sure she didn't want to.
Not that I think Roland Warren was the finest man in the world, or
anything like that. Of course, I do believe he was interested in me, and
that made me know him pretty well; but still he was an awfully nice boy,
and I'm sure Hazel was very much in love with him. So even if she could
have killed him, she wouldn't, would she?"

"I hope not; but you said she _couldn't_. What did you mean by that?"

"I mean that nobody can be in two places at one time. Although I did
read a funny article in the Sunday magazine section of one of the big
newspapers, last year, which said that--"

"If Miss Gresham had been with Mr. Warren last night at midnight--she
would have been in two places at one time!"

"Why, yes--and that's not possible; so, of course, she--"

"What makes you think that, Miss Rogers!"

"Think what?"

"That Miss Gresham was not with Mr. Warren at midnight last night?"

"Why," answered Evelyn Rogers simply, "I _know_ she wasn't--that's all."

"You _know_?"

"Yes, indeed--beyond the what-you-call-'em of a doubt."

"How do you know that?"

"It's very simple," she explained casually. "She was with me all night."

Carroll gazed at the girl before him with new interest. Out of her
chatter he had at last garnered one important fact. His mind, trained to
seize upon the vital and instantly discard the inconsequential, clutched
the bit of information, and turned it over. From the first Carroll had
scouted the idea that the dead man's fiancee might have been responsible
for his death; but still it was a line of investigation which demanded
examination, and his pretty young visitor was making that road
exceedingly simple. He injected all the warmth of his friendly, sunny
nature in the smile which he bestowed upon her.

"You have helped me tremendously with that piece of information,
Miss Rogers."

"I don't see how, particularly. No one with any sense--provided they knew
Hazel, of course--could even imagine her killing any one, and least of
all an adorable boy like Roland. She was so much in love with him!"

"Of course, I haven't the pleasure of Miss Gresham's acquaintance."

"Of course not. You'll have to meet her, though. She's a darling!
Naturally, she's all broken up this morning because her wedding date
was all set. Now all her plans have gone smash, and she really was
_terribly_ fond--"

"You say you spent the night with Miss Gresham?"

"Certainly, and--"


"At her house."

"And you are sure she was there all night?"

"Of course! We slept in the same bed--and that's certainly proof enough,
isn't it?"

"I suppose so."

"You _suppose_? My goodness gracious! Don't you _know_?"

"Well--yes. If you're sure--"

"Why, my dear Mr. Carroll, we didn't even actually go to bed until a
quarter before twelve. At ten o'clock we made some waffles
downstairs--Hazel has just bought a perfectly _darling_ aluminum electric
waffle-iron. It makes the most toothsome waffles--all crisp and
everything. And you know when you use aluminum you don't need any grease,
so that makes the waffles much nicer. I'm getting horribly domestic since
Hazel became engaged, because she is learning--"

"And after you made the waffles?"

"Oh! After that we went up-stairs to her room, and put on our kimonos,
and had a heart-to-heart talk. I can't tell you what we talked about,
because sometimes--well, it was atrociously risque--as women will, you
know, and--"

"At a quarter before twelve you were still sitting up talking, and you
had your kimonos on?"

"Yes, and--oh, you just ought to see Hazel's new kimono--pink _crepe de
chine_, trimmed with satin. She looks simply ravishing in it. I told Sis
I wanted one like it, but--"

"And then you went to bed?"

"Yes, just about then."

"You are sure Miss Gresham didn't get up!"

"Oh, I'm positive she didn't! I didn't get to sleep until after one
o'clock, anyway, and I would have known."

"You've given me some valuable information, Miss Rogers; and I'll see to
it that the newspapers correct any impression they may have left that
Miss Gresham might have been connected with the crime. Meanwhile"--he
rose--"I'm a bit overdue down at headquarters; so if you'll excuse me--"

Evelyn Rogers rose and stood before him. Her pretty little face
was eager.

"I've really helped you, Mr. Carroll?"


"Well, I wonder--you know I'm just _fiendishly_ anxious to be helpful in
the world--I wonder if you'd let me help you some more?"

"I'd be delighted."

"Would you _really_?"


"And I can come to you any time to talk things over?"

"Whenever you get ready."

She clapped her hands.

"That's simply _exquisite_! You know, Mr. Carroll, I'm just simply crazy
about you! I always have been, but I'm more so now than ever--just

"Thank you."

She made her way to the door. There she turned, and there was a peculiar
light in her eyes.

"Mr. Carroll!"


"I wish you had been nineteen years old just now."


"Because," she flashed, "if you had been nineteen years old when I told
you what I did, you would have kissed me!"



For a long time after Evelyn departed, Carroll remained seated, puffing
amusedly on the cigar which followed his matutinal cigarette. Time had
been long since the detective had come in contact with so much youthful
spontaneity, and he found the experience refreshing. Then he rose and
would have left the apartment for headquarters, but again Freda
announced a caller.

"Another young lady?" questioned Carroll.

"No, sir. It bane young feller."

"Show him in."

The visitor entered, and Carroll found himself gazing into the level eyes
of a slightly disheveled and obviously excited young man of about
twenty-eight years of age. The man was slight of stature, but every
nervous gesture bespoke wiriness.

"Are you Mr. Carroll?"


"I'm Gresham--Garrison Gresham."

"A-a-ah! Won't you be seated!"

"Yes. I came to have a talk with you."

Carroll seated himself opposite his caller. Then he nodded.

"You came to see me?"

"About the Warren case."

"You know something about it?"

"Yes!" The young man seemed to bite the word. "I do."


"You're in charge of the case, aren't you?"


"You've seen this morning's papers?"

"I have."

"Well, they're rotten--absolutely rotten. They don't say it in so many
words, but the impression they create is that my sister, Hazel, was the
woman in the taxi who killed Roland Warren. It's a damned lie!"

The young man was growing more excited. Carroll put out a
restraining hand.

"I quite agree with you, my friend--it _was_ a pretty rotten impression
to create; but I shall see that all doubt is removed from the mind of the
public when this afternoon's papers appear. I have just learned that
your sister has an ironclad alibi."

"You have already learned that?"


Gresham leaned forward eagerly.

"What makes you sure--that she did not--was not--"

"Suppose I question you--if you have no objections."

"Fire away."

"Where was your sister at midnight last night?"

"At home."

"Alone? I mean was any one besides your family there?"

"Yes," replied Gresham, showing surprise at Carroll's evident
knowledge of facts.


"Evelyn Rogers spent the night with her. Evelyn's a seventeen-year-old
kid who has had what I believe you call a crush on my sister. They were
together in that house from ten o'clock last night, or earlier, until
this morning. And if you don't believe that--"

"But I do. I have just had a visit from Miss Rogers, and she told me
exactly what you have just repeated; so I'm pretty well satisfied that
your sister had nothing whatever to do with the affair. I will take
pains to see that this evening's papers make that quite clear."

Gresham rose. A load seemed to have dropped from his shoulders.

"That's white of you, Carroll! I appreciate it."

"Not at all. I have no desire to cause annoyance or inconvenience where
it is unnecessary. And Miss Rogers told me, with great attention to
detail, just why and how it was impossible for your sister to have been
anywhere except at home last night."

"Evelyn's considerable of a brick, in spite of the fact that she's more
or less minus in the upper story. And now, if you're really satisfied,
I'll be going."

The two men walked to the door together. They were about of a height;
Carroll slightly the heavier of the two.

"You've no idea as to the identity of the woman in the taxicab, have
you, Gresham?"

"No. Have you?"

"None whatever; though I fancy something ought to develop in the near
future. The city is discussing it pretty freely?"

"The town's wild about it. They don't understand anything. It's tough on
my sister. Hazel is only a kid, and I think she was in love with Warren.
Well, good day, Carroll." He extended a firm hand. "Any time I can be of
any help--"

"Thanks, Gresham."

Five minutes after Gresham's departure, Carroll was in his car, headed
for the police-station. He turned the case over and over in a keen,
analytic mind which had been refreshed by a night of untroubled sleep.

There were a good many features about it which puzzled him considerably.
While he had not expected that the trail of the mysterious midnight woman
would lead to the fiancee of the dead man, the sudden dissipation of that
as a clue rather threw him off his balance. He had reached the end of a
trail almost before setting foot upon it.

Thus far he had refused to allow himself to be worried by the strangest
feature of the case--the appearance of the dead body in a taxicab which,
according to its driver's story, could not have been other than empty. It
was always easy to explain the disappearance of a person from an
automobile; but, he figured, it was patently impossible to enter one
without the driver's knowledge.

He reached headquarters and closeted himself with Leverage. They plunged
at once into a discussion of that phase of the case.

"There are only two things which could have happened," said the chief of
police slowly. "One is that some one croaked that bird Warren and shoved
him into the cab while the woman was ridin' in it. The other is that he
slipped into the cab and she killed him. While I ain't jumpin' on no set
ideas, I have a hunch that the last one is right."


"Because the other--that idea of puttin' a dead body into a cab without
the driver knowing it--it just naturally ain't possible."

"Then you are quite convinced, Leverage, that Walters did _not_ know
anything about it?"

"Now, say, Carroll, that's putting it up to me rather strong; but since
you're asking, I'm here to say that I believe the kid. Of course it's
possible that he was in on the deal--but I'm betting Liberty bonds
against Russian rubles that he'd have slipped somewhere if that had been
the case. Nobody that's in on a murder deal is going to frame a lie that
sticks his bean as close to a noose as Walter's would be if he's not
tellin' the truth!"

"Sounds reasonable; and yet--"

"I'm surprised at you suspectin' the kid."

"I don't suspect him."

"But you said--"

"We can't overlook anything--that's what I said. It's what I was
driving at, anyway. So far, Walters is the only tangible clue we've had
to work with. As I told you, the Hazel Gresham trail died a-borning.
The kid who came to see me this morning cleared her; and then her
brother came along right afterward, red-hot over the insinuations
against his sister in the papers. As matters stand now, there's nothing
to tie to but Spike Walters."

"I'm glad you're handling it," said Leverage fervently. "And as you are,
I'm making so bold as to ask what you're going to do next?"

"A little general inquiring. You can help me on that. For one thing, I
want to get hold of every bit of dope I can regarding Warren--who he was,
where he came from, what he did, the size of his bank deposits, his
business connections, his social life, and especially every morsel of
gossip that's ever been circulated about him in connection with women."

"H-m! You think this dame was a society sort?"

"Probably. He was undoubtedly going away with her; and a man of his stamp
doesn't often elope with a woman of the other type."

"True enough! Well, I'll get you what dope I can."

"I want it all. I'm afraid this is going to resolve itself into a
contest of elimination. The city is buzzing about the case to-day, and
it ought to be pretty easy to get hold of a world of gossip concerning
Warren's love-affairs--provided he had any. Everybody's concerned over
the identity of that woman, and every woman Warren has ever been mixed
up with, even in the most innocuous way, is going to be dragged into
the case."

Carroll made his way from headquarters direct to the consolidated
railroad ticket office. He introduced himself to the chief clerk and
stated his business. The other showed keen interest.

"The tickets were sold to him in this office, Mr. Carroll. This young man
here sold them."

Carroll smiled genially at the skinny young chap who bustled forward
importantly, proud of his temporary spotlight position.

"You sold some tickets to Roland Warren?"

"Yes, sir."


"Day before yesterday."

"You are sure it was Mr. Warren?"

"Yes, sir. I have known him by sight for a longtime."

"About the tickets--what did he buy?"

"Two tickets and a drawing-room on No. 29 for New York--due to leave at
11.55 last night."

"You're sure he bought _two_ tickets and a drawing-room? Or was it
one ticket?"

"It had to be two. We can't sell a drawing-room unless the purchaser has
double transportation."

"You delivered both tickets to him personally?"

"Yes, sir--gave them both to him."

From the ticket office Carroll went back to headquarters, and from there
to the coroner's office, and, accompanied by that dignitary, to the
undertaking establishment where the body was being kept under police
guard. Nothing had yet been touched. The inquest had resulted in a
verdict of "death by violence, inflicted by a revolver in the hands of a
person unknown."

Carroll again ran through the man's pockets. In a vest pocket he
discovered what he sought. He took the trunk check to the Union Station,
and through his police badge secured access to the baggage-room. The
trunk was not there. He compared checks with the baggage-master, and
learned that the trunk had duly gone to New York. He left orders for it
to be returned to the city.

From there he went to the office of the division superintendent, and left
a half-hour later, after an exchange of telegrams between the
superintendent and the conductor of the train for New York, which
informed him that the drawing-room engaged by Warren had been unoccupied,
nor had there been an attempt on the part of any one to secure possession
of it. Also that the only berth purchased on the train had been at a
small-town stop about four o'clock in the morning.

Obviously, then, the person who was to share the drawing-room with
Warren, and for whom the second ticket had been bought, had never boarded
the train. The trail had doubled back again to the woman in the taxicab.

It was not until two o'clock in the afternoon that Carroll returned to
headquarters. He found Leverage ready with his report.

"For one thing," said the chief, "there isn't a doubt that Warren was
getting ready to leave town--and for good."

"How so?"

Leverage checked over his list.

"First, he had sublet his apartment. Second, he had with him eleven
hundred dollars in cash. Third, he left his automobile with a dealer
here to be sold, and did not place an order for any other car. And
fourth--" Leverage paused impressively.

"Yes--and fourth?"

"He fired his valet yesterday!"



There was a triumphant ring to Leverage's statement that the dead man's

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