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Midnight by Octavus Roy Cohen

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"There is no use in concealment, Mr. Carroll. I have been driven almost
crazy since that night. I have almost reached the end of my rope. It was
the scandal I have been fighting to avoid--not so much for my own sake as
for Evelyn and my husband. Publicity--of this kind--would be
very--very--awkward--for both of them."

"I'm sorry--" Carroll hesitated. "If you don't care to talk to me--"

She shrugged slightly. "It makes no difference--now. I'd rather talk to
you than someone who might understand less readily--or more harshly."

"I may question you?"


"I regret it--and rest assured that I am trying to find--a way
out--for you."

"There is no way out--from the scandal. But that is my own fault--"

Somewhere down the block an auto horn shrieked: in another room of the
house an old grandfather's clock chimed sonorously.

"You admit that you were the woman in the taxicab?"

"Yes. Certainly."

"Do you admit that you killed Roland Warren?"

Her startled eyes flashed to his. The color drained from her cheeks. Her
answer was almost inaudible--


"You did not kill him?" Carroll was impressed with the nuance of truth in
her answer.

"No--I did not kill him."

"But when you got into the taxicab--isn't it a fact that he was
already there?"

"Yes--he was there, Mr. Carroll. _But he was already dead_!"



"--Already dead!" Carroll did not know if his lips framed the words or if
the walls of the room had echoed. He was startled at a time when he
fancied that there could be no further surprise in store for him. He
found himself eyeing the woman and he wondered that he gave credence to
her statement.

Naomi was sitting straight, large black eyes dilated, hands gripping the
arms of the chair tightly, lips slightly parted. Even under the stress of
the moment Carroll was actually conscious of her feminine allure; unable
to free himself of her hypnotic personality. She spoke--but he scarcely
heard her words through his chaos of thought.

"He was dead--before I got into the taxi-cab."

He saw that she was fighting to impress upon him the truth of her
well-nigh unbelievable statement, that every atom of her brain strove
desperately to convince him. And then she relaxed suddenly, as though
from too great strain, and a shudder passed over her.

"I knew--I knew--"

"You knew _what_, Mrs. Lawrence?"

"I knew that you would not believe me. Oh! it's true--this story I am
telling you. But I knew no one could believe it--it stretches one's
credulity too far. That is why I have kept silent through all these days
which have passed--that and a desire to save Evelyn and my husband."

"You love your husband?" Carroll bit his lips. The question had slipped
out before he realized that he had formed the words. But she did not
evade the issue--

"I despise him, Mr. Carroll. But he has played square with me--more so
than I have with him. And publication of this would hurt him--"

"Because he cares for you?"

"No. But because he is proud: because he is jealous of his personal
possessions--of which I am one."

"I see--And Mr. Warren--?"

She spread her hands in a helpless, hopeless gesture. "What's the use,
Mr. Carroll? Why, should I wrack myself with the story when you do not
even believe the reason upon which it is based? If you only believed me
when I tell you that when I got into the taxicab Roland had already
been killed--"

"I do believe that," returned Carroll gently.

She inbreathed sharply, then her eyes narrowed a trifle. "Do you mean
that--or is it bait to make me talk?"

"I can not do more than repeat my statement. I believe what you
have told me."

She held his eyes for a moment, then slowly hers shrank from the contact.
"You are telling me the truth," she ventured.

"And if you will tell me the whole story, Mrs. Lawrence--I shall see what
I can do for you."

"What is there to do for me? There is no way to keep my name from it--my
name and the story of the mistake which I made--was willing to make."

"Good God! No."

"If we--" he used the pronoun unconsciously--"can establish that, there
may be some way of keeping the details from the public. Suppose you
start at the beginning--and tell me what there is to tell?"

She hesitated. "Everything?"

"Everything--or nothing. A portion of the story will not help either of
us. Of course you don't have to--"

Impulsively she leaned forward. "There is something about you, Mr.
Carroll, which makes me trust you. I feel that you are a friend rather
than an enemy."

He bowed gratefully. "Thank you."

"It really began shortly after my marriage to Mr. Lawrence--" she had
started her story before she knew it. "I knew that I had made a mistake.
He is nearly thirteen years older than I--a man of icy disposition, a
nature which is cruel in its frigidity. I am not that--that kind of a
woman, Mr. Carroll. I should not have married that type of man.

"He was good enough to me in his own peculiar way. I have a little money
of my own: he is wealthy. He liked to dress me up and show me off. He was
liberal with money--if not with kindness--when there was trouble in my
family. After my parents died he allowed Evelyn to live with us. They
have never liked one another--the more reason why I am grateful to him
for allowing her to remain in the house.

"That is the life we have led together. We have long since ceased to have
anything in common. He has kept to himself and I have remained alone. So
far as the world knew--our home life was tranquil. Unbearably so--to a
nature like mine which loves love--and life.

"I grew to hate my husband as a man much as I admired him in certain ways
for his brain and his achievement. Our individualities are millions of
miles apart. There was no oneness in our married life. And gradually he
learned that I hated him--and he became contemptuous. That stung my
pride. He didn't care. I felt--felt unsexed!

"No need to go into further detail. Sufficient to say that I became
desperate for a little affection, a little kindness, a little recognition
of the fact that I am a woman--and a not entirely unattractive one. It
was about then that I met Roland Warren.

"I wonder if you understand women, Mr. Carroll? I wonder if it is
possible for you to comprehend their psychological reactions? Because if
you cannot--you will never understand what Roland Warren meant to me. You
will never understand the condition which has led to--this tragedy."

She paused and Carroll nodded. "You can trust me to understand."

"I believe you do. I believe you understand something of what was going
on within me when Roland came into my life. In the light of what has
transpired, the fact that I was neglected by my husband seems
absurd--trivial. But it is not absurd--it is _not_ trivial!

"Mr. Warren was kind to me. He was attentive--courteous--I believe that
he really loved me. I may have been fooled, of course. Starved as I was
for the affection of a man, I may have been blind to the sincerity of his
protestations. But I believed him.

"As to how I felt toward him: I don't know. I liked him--admired him. I
believe that I loved him. But again we are faced with the abnormal
condition in which I found myself. I believe I loved him as I believe he
loved me. He represented a chance for life when for three years I had
been dead--living and breathing--yet dead as a woman. And that is the
most terrible of all deaths.

"We planned to elope. Don't ask me how I could consider such a thing.
There is no answer possible. It wasn't a sane decision--but I decided
that I would. There was the craving to get away from things--to try to
start over. To revel in the richest things of life for awhile. I was
selfish--unutterably so. I didn't think then of the effect on my
husband--or of the effect on Evelyn. I was selfish--yes. But immoral--no!
What I planned to do--under the circumstances--was not immoral. Even yet
I cannot convince myself that it was.

"Roland laid all his plans to leave the city. In all my delirium of
preparation--the hiding and the secrecy--I felt sincerely sorry for only
one person, and that person was Hazel Gresham to whom Mr. Warren was
engaged. I believe she was in love with him. But so was I--and if he
loved me--as I said before, Mr. Carroll--I was selfish!

"On the morning of the day we were to go--my husband was in Nashville,
you know--Mr. Warren came to the house in his car. He showed me that he
had reserved a drawing-room for us to New York. In order that we would
not be seen together, he gave me one of the railroad tickets. I was to
reach the Union Station ten minutes before train time. If you
recall--the train on which we were to go was quite late that night.

"We planned not to talk to one another at the station until after
boarding the train. Morning would have published news of the scandal
broadcast, but until the irrevocable step had been taken--we determined
to avoid gossip. And, Mr. Carroll--I was then--what is called a 'good
woman'. My faithlessness up to that time, and to this moment, had been
mental--and mental only.

"When he left me that morning he took with him my suit-case. We had
agreed that I was not to take a trunk: that I was to buy--a
trousseau--in New York. I looked upon it almost as a honeymoon. He took
my suit-case to the Union Station and checked it there. I did not see
him again that day."

"Toward evening--knowing that my husband was not due back until the
following morning, and realizing that I could not leave Evelyn alone in
the house--I suggested that she spend the night with Hazel Gresham. She
was surprised--knowing that I dread to be alone at night--but was ready
enough to go. I was not overcome with either emotion or shame when I told
her good-bye that afternoon. I was so hungry for happiness that I was
dead to the other emotions.

"I went to the station that night in a street car. I had telephoned in
advance and learned that the train was late. The night was the worst of
the winter--bitterly cold. When I reached the station, I saw that Roland
was already there, and as he saw me enter, he left through the opposite
door--walking out to the platform which parallels the railroad tracks.

"Then from the outside, he motioned me to follow. He wanted to talk to
me, but would not risk doing so where we might be seen. I sat down for
awhile, then, as casually as I could, followed him onto the station
platform. I saw him down at the far end near the baggage room. Again he
motioned to me to follow him. And he started out past the baggage room
into the railroad yards.

"I was very grateful to him. He was taking no risk of our being seen
together. I followed slowly--not seeing him, but knowing that he would be
waiting for me out there. You understand where I mean? It is in that
section of the railroad yards where through trains leave their early
morning Pullmans--the tracks are parallel to Atlantic Avenue--and also
the main line tracks running into the Union Station shed.

"I was conscious of the intense cold, but excitement buoyed me up. I
passed through the gate which ordinarily bars passengers from the tracks,
but which that night had either been left open or opened by Roland. The
wind, as I stepped from under the shelter of the station shed, was
terrific: howling across the yards, stinging with sleet. It was very
slippery under foot--I had to watch closely. And I was just a trifle
nervous because here and there through the yards I could see
lanterns--yard workers and track walkers, I presume. And occasionally the
headlight of a switch engine zigzagged across the tracks--I was afraid
I'd be caught in the glare--

"Finally, I saw Warren. He had walked about a hundred and fifty yards
down the track and was standing in the shelter of the Pullman office
building. It was very dark there--just enough light for me to make out
his silhouette. I started forward--then stopped: frightened.

"For I distinctly saw the figure of a man coming into the yards from
Atlantic Avenue. From the moment I noticed him I had the peculiar
impression that the man had not only seen Mr. Warren and intended
speaking to him--but also that the meeting was not unexpected. I stopped
where I was and strained my eyes through the darkness--

"I could not see much--save that they were talking. Of course I could
hear nothing. I was shivering--but more with premonition of tragedy than
with the terrific cold. Then suddenly I saw the two shadows merge--the
combined shadow whirled strangely. I knew that Mr. Warren was fighting
with this other man.

"I started forward again. Then I saw one of the shadows step back from
the other. There was the flash of a revolver--no noise, because a train
was rolling under the shed at the moment. But I saw the flash of the gun.
I stood motionless, horrified. I didn't advance, didn't run--

"I knew that the man who had been shot was Mr. Warren. I didn't know
what to do. I felt suddenly lost; hopeless--And watching, I saw one
figure stoop and lift the prostrate man. He dragged him across the
tracks to the inky darkness between the Pullman offices and the rear of
the baggage room. I don't know what he did there--but I remember
looking toward Atlantic Avenue and seeing a yellow taxicab parked
against the curb. I could see that there was no one in the driver's
seat--and while I watched I saw the man who had done the shooting drag
Mr. Warren's body to the taxicab. It was dark in the street--the arc
light on the corner was out--

"I saw him throw Mr. Warren's body into the taxicab. It was then that I
turned and fled toward the station.

"I can't tell you how I felt. At a time like that one doesn't pause to
analyze one's emotional reactions. I was conscious of horror--of that and
the idea that I must save myself. And then the thought struck me that
perhaps Mr. Warren was _not_ dead. Perhaps he was only badly wounded. If
that were the case I knew that he would freeze to death in the cab. It
was necessary to get to him--

"By that time I had reached the waiting room. I saw his suit-case--and
then, Mr. Carroll--I thought of something else: something which made it
imperative that I get to Mr. Warren--" She stopped suddenly.
Carroll--eyes wide with interest--motioned her on.

"You thought of something--something which made it necessary for you to
get to him?"

"Yes. I remembered that he had in his pocket the check for my suit-case!
He had checked it himself that day. I realized in a flash that there
would be a police investigation--and the minute that checkroom stub was
found, the detectives would have followed it up. They would have
discovered my suit-case. My name would then have been indelibly linked
with his--in--in that way--

"So there were two reasons why I knew I must get into that taxicab: to
recover the suit-case check--and to either assure myself that he was
dead, or else take him where he could get expert medical attention.
Almost before I knew what I was doing I seized his suit-case, which he
had left on the floor of the waiting room. I left the station along with
several passengers who had come in on the local train. I called the
taxicab--I told him to drive me to some place on East End Avenue--gave
him some address which I knew was a long distance away--so that I would
have time to learn if he was dead--and if he wasn't, to get him to a
doctor's; and if he was, to find the check--the finding of which in his
pocket would have connected me with the affair.

"He was dead!" She paused--choked--and went on gamely. "I got out of the
taxicab when it slowed down at a railroad crossing. I walked half the
distance back to town, then caught the last street car home--"

Her voice died away. Carroll relaxed slowly. Then a puzzled frown creased
his forehead--

"The man who did the actual shooting," he said quietly--"have you the
slightest idea as to his identity?"

"No." Her manner was almost indifferent: the strain was over--she was
hardly conscious of what she was saying. "He was smaller than Mr.
Warren--a man of about my husband's size--"

She stopped abruptly! Carroll's gaze grew steely--he made a note of the
expression of horror in her eyes.

"About your husband's size!" he repeated softly.



For a moment she was silent. It was patent that she was groping
desperately for the correct thing to say. And finally she extended a
pleading hand--

"Please--don't think that!"


"That is was--was my husband. He wouldn't--"

"Why not?"

"Anyway--it is impossible. He was in Nashville. He didn't get home
until morning."

Carroll shook his head. "I hope he can prove he was in Nashville. We have
tried to prove it, and we cannot. And you must admit, Mrs. Lawrence, that
had he known what you planned he would have had the justification of the
unwritten law--"

Her eyes brightened. "You think, then--that if he did--he would be

"Yes. More so in view of your story that there was a fight between the
two men. That would probably add self-defense to his plea. However, I may
be wrong in that--"

"You are indeed, Mr. Carroll. My husband--isn't that kind of a man. And
even if he had done the shooting--he could not have concealed it from me
for this length of time. He would have given a hint--"

"No-o. He wouldn't have done that. If he shot Warren he would have been
afraid of telling even you."

She walked to the window where she stood for a moment looking out on the
drear December day. Then she turned tragically back to Carroll.

"You are going to arrest me?"


"Why not?"

"Because I believe your story, Mrs. Lawrence. And so long as there is any
way to keep your name clear of the whole miserable mess, I shall do so."

"But if you arrest my husband--"

"I have no intention of doing that, either--unless I am convinced that he
was in the city when the shooting occurred. I am not in favor of
indiscriminate arrests. In this case, they can do nothing but harm."

"You are very good," she said softly. "I didn't imagine that a

"Some of us are human beings, Mrs. Lawrence. Is that so strange?"

She did not answer, and for several minutes they sat in silence--each
intent in thought. It was Carroll who broke the stillness:

"Do you know William Barker?"

"Barker? Why, yes--certainly. He was Mr. Warren's valet."

"I know it. Have you seen Barker since the night Mr. Warren was killed?"

"Yes." He could scarcely distinguish her answer. "Twice."

"He called here?"


"Was your husband at home on either occasion?"


"Why did he come here?"

She hesitated, but only for the fraction of a second. "It was Barker who
was driving me to distraction. He knew that I was the woman in the
taxicab. He really believes that I killed Mr. Warren. He has been
blackmailing me."

"A-ah! So _that_ explains his visits, and his plentiful supply of

"Yes. Oh! it was shameful--that I should be so helpless before his
demands. It didn't matter that I had nothing to do with the killing--it
was enough that I had to pay any price to keep my name clear of scandal.
Looking back on the affair now, Mr. Carroll--I cannot understand my own
weakness. But I felt that I owed it to my husband and my sister to
protect them from scandal at any cost--and I have paid Barker a good deal
of money--"

"I see." Carroll rose. "I want you to understand, Mrs. Lawrence, that you
have helped me tremendously. And to know, also, that I shall probably
succeed in keeping your name out of any disclosures which might have to
be made to the public."

"But if my husband did it--"

"In that event, it will be impossible not to tell."

"And if he didn't do it?"

"Then you will be safe. But," finished the detective seriously, "if your
husband didn't do it--I don't know who did. I have followed every
possible trail and unless guilt can be fastened on either your husband or
Barker, there isn't the faintest shadow of suspicion attached to anyone
else. It will make things very difficult--for me."

During his ride to headquarters Carroll was busy with his thoughts. He
was worried about the possible complicity of Gerald Lawrence in the
shooting of Warren. He was more than halfway convinced that Lawrence
knew a good deal about it--and the obvious method was to order
Lawrence's arrest and make him prove an alibi. But such a procedure was
impossible in view of his determination to protect Naomi's name to the
ultimate moment.

He was greeted at headquarters by a reporter for one of the two evening
papers. The reporter was eager for an interview. There had been an
appalling dearth of local news, and the Warren story had been long since
played beyond the point of public interest. The readers, explained the
reporter, were growing tired of theories and column after column of
conjecture. They wanted a few facts.

Carroll shook his head. "Nothing definite to give out yet."

The reporter was persistent. "You have made no new discoveries at all?"

"Well--I'd hardly say that."

"Then you _have_?"

"Yes," answered Carroll frankly, "I have."

"You think you know who killed Warren?"

Carroll, his mind still busy with Naomi's story, answered casually. "I
believe I do. That is just a belief, mind you. But there is an outside
chance that there will be important developments within the next
twenty-four hours."

"Something definite, eh?"

"If anything at all happens, it will be definite."

Then Carroll excused himself and sought Eric Leverage. Under pledge of
secrecy he told Leverage the entire story as he had heard it from Naomi
Lawrence's lips. When he finished Leverage slammed his hand on the arm of
his chair--

"Gerald Lawrence, or I'm a bum guesser," he stated positively.

"Looks that way," admitted Carroll. "What I hate about the idea is that
if Lawrence is the man there will be no way on earth to keep Mrs.
Lawrence's name out of it."

"You're right--How about Barker?"

"I believe Barker's story. So does Mrs. Lawrence. She believes that
Barker thinks she killed Warren in the taxi."

Leverage glanced keenly at his friend. "You are going to arrest

"No-o. Not yet. He may not have done it--"

"Well," sizzled the chief of police, "if he didn't and Barker didn't--who
the devil did?"

Carroll shook his head hopelessly. "I don't know, Eric. If neither of
those two men did, we'll be left hopelessly in the air."

"Exactly. We know that one of 'em did the shooting. We've covered this
case from every angle, and if we believe that the shooting was not done
by Mrs. Lawrence, we must suspect one of the two men involved. And if you
are sure it wasn't Barker--"

"Let's wait a little while longer," counseled Carroll. "I want to be
absolutely sure of my ground."

The two men sat in Leverage's office and talked. They discussed the case
again from the beginning to its present status--threshing out each detail
in the hope that they might have overlooked some vital fact which would
give them a basis upon which to proceed. Their efforts were fruitless.
The investigation had developed results--true enough--but those results
were not at all satisfactory.

And it was about an hour later that a knock came on the door. In response
to Leverage's summons, an orderly entered. In his hand he carried an
evening paper--

"Just brought this in, sir. Thought you and Mr. Carroll might like
to read it."

The orderly retired. Carroll spread the paper--then did something very
rare. He swore profoundly. His eyes focused angrily on the enormous
first page headlines:


"Identity of Clubman's Slayer Known to Famous Detective


"Sensational Developments Promised by David Carroll in Exclusive
Interview with Reporter for The Star."

It all came back to Carroll now. The eager reporter, the news-hunger,
his non-committal statements. He read furiously through the story. It
proved to be one of those newspaper masterpieces which uses an enormous
number of words and says nothing. Carroll was quoted as saying only what
he had actually said. It was the personal conjecture of the reporter
writing the story which had given spur to the vivid imagination of the
headline writer.

"So now," questioned Leverage--"what are you going to do: deny it?"

"No!" snapped Carroll--"I can't. He hasn't misquoted a single line of
what I said. It just makes things--makes 'em mighty embarrassing."

He sat hunched in his chair staring at the screaming headlines and
re-reading the lurid story. Again an orderly entered.

"Young lady out there," he announced, "who wants to know if Mr.
Carroll is here."

Instantly the mind of the detective leaped to the tragic figure of Naomi
Lawrence. "She wants to see me?" he questioned.

"Yes, sir."

"Show her in." He motioned to Leverage to remain. The orderly
disappeared--and in a minute, the door opened and a woman entered.
Carroll sprang to his feet with an exclamation of surprise.

"Miss Gresham!"

Hazel Gresham nodded. She advanced toward Carroll. Every drop of color
had been drained from her cheeks. Her manner indicated intense nervous
strain. Her eyes were wide and fixed--

"I would like to speak to you alone, Mr. Carroll."

"Yes--This is Chief Leverage, Miss Gresham."

Leverage acknowledged the introduction and would have left but the girl
stopped him. "On second thought, Mr. Leverage--you might remain."

Eric paused. His eyes sought Carroll's face. Both men knew that something
vitally unexpected was about to be disclosed. They waited for the girl to
speak--and when she did her voice was so low as to be almost

"About a half hour ago, gentlemen--I read the story in The Star.
I--I--" she faltered for a moment, then went bravely on--"I came right
down--to save you the trouble of sending for me!"

Silence: tense--expectant. "You did _what?"_ queried Carroll.

"I came down--to save you the trouble--the embarrassment--of sending for
me." She looked at them eagerly. "I have come to give myself up!"

Carroll frowned. "For what?"

"For--for the murder of--Roland Warren!"

The detective shook his head. "I don't understand, Miss Gresham. Really I
don't. Do you mean to tell me that _you_ were the woman in the taxicab?"

She was biting her lips nervously. "Yes."

"And that you shot Roland Warren?"

"Y-yes--And when I read in the paper that you knew who did it--I came
right down here. I didn't want to--to--to be brought down--in a
patrol wagon."

"I see--" Wild thoughts were chasing one another through Carroll's
brain. He was beginning to see light. "You are quite _sure_ that you
killed Mr. Warren?"

"Yes, I'm sure. Why do you doubt me? Don't you suppose that I know
whether I killed him? Don't you suppose I can prove that I did it--"

"Yes--I suppose you can. I wonder, Miss Gresham," and Carroll's voice
was very, very gentle, "if you would wait in that room yonder for a
few minutes?"

"Certainly--" She raised her head pleadingly: "You _do_ believe me,
don't you?"

Carroll dodged the issue. "I want to think."

Alone with Leverage, Carroll clenched his fist--"If that isn't the most

"She's not telling the truth, is she, David?"

"Certainly not. She couldn't smash her own alibi if she tried a
million years."

He paced the room, walking in quick, jerky steps. Finally his face
cleared and he stopped before Leverage's chair.

"I've got it!" he announced triumphantly.

"Got what?"

"Never mind," Carroll was surcharged with suppressed excitement. "I want
you to do something for me, Leverage--and do it promptly."


"Send Cartwright and bring Garry Gresham here."

"Garry Gresham?"

"Yes--the young lady's brother."

Leverage was bewildered. "What in the world do you want with him?"

"I want him," explained Carroll confidently--"because _Garry Gresham is
the man who shot Warren!"_



Within an hour Garry Gresham appeared at headquarters in the company of
Cartwright. The officer left the room and the three men were alone.

Gresham's manner was nervous, but he showed no fright. Leverage,
regarding him keenly, found reason to doubt Carroll's positive statement
that Gresham was the person they sought. The young man stood facing them
bravely, waiting--

"Gresham," said Carroll softly, "Your sister is in that room yonder. She
read the afternoon paper--the report that I knew who killed Roland
Warren. She immediately came here to give herself up."

An expression of utter bewilderment crossed young Gresham's face. Then he
started forward angrily: "Why are you lying to me--"

"Easy, Gresham--easy there. I am not lying to you."

He saw Garry's eyes dart to the door behind which the sister was seated.
"What did she give herself up for, Carroll?"

"For killing Roland Warren."

Gresham took a firm grip on himself. "She didn't do it," he stated

"Of course not," returned Carroll with equal assurance. "_You_ did! And
so that you will be quite convinced that I am not trying to trick you
into the confession which I am sure you will make--" He crossed the room
and flung open the door. "Come in, please, Miss Gresham."

The girl entered quietly--then saw her brother. Instantly her manner
softened. She stepped swiftly to his side and took his hand in hers.
"Please, Garry--"

Gresham smiled; a tender, affectionate smile.

"Good scout, aren't you, Sis? But tell me," his tone was conversational,
"how did you know that I shot Roland Warren?"

"You didn't!" She flung around on Carroll--"Don't believe him. I shot
Mr. Warren--"

"I knew from the first that you didn't do it, Miss Gresham. I know that
Miss Rogers spent the night with you. More than that, I know the identity
of the woman in the taxicab."

"Who was she?" It was Gresham who questioned.

Carroll shook his head. "It doesn't matter who she was, Gresham. We're
going to keep her name out of this case. She was a woman who loved Roland
Warren--and his death saved her from a great mistake. There's no
necessity to ruin her life, is there?"

"How did you know--it was Garry--who did the shooting?" asked the girl.

"The minute you confessed," answered the detective quietly, "I knew that
you were doing it to shield someone. You could have had no possible
motive for shielding either of the other two men under suspicion. I knew
that it must be your brother. He had motive enough--he knew that you
were in love with Mr. Warren--engaged to him. He knew that Warren was
about to elope with another woman, that it would cause you intense
misery. So he went to the station that night to prevent the elopement.
Isn't that so, Gresham?"

The young man nodded. "Yes. When I went to your apartment the morning
after the killing, it was for the purpose of confessing. But then when
you assured me that my sister was not under suspicion--I decided to wait
awhile before saying anything." He paused--"And as to that night--I
parked my car a couple of blocks away and walked to the station through
Jackson Street, intending to cut through the yards and approach the
waiting room from the passenger platform. I had no idea that--that there
would be--a tragedy. I wanted to reason with Warren; to beg him to save
my sister from suffering which I knew would be attendant on--his

"He was walking in the yards as I entered from between the Pullman
building and the baggage room. I don't know what he was doing there--but
I spoke to him. He seemed startled at seeing me. I told him that I knew
he was planning to elope--and begged him to call it off.

"Much to my surprise, he immediately got nasty. He seemed to want to get
rid of me. He told me it was none of my damned business what he was
doing. He even admitted the truth of what I said.

"That was the first hint of unpleasantness. But it grew--rapidly. He
cursed me--anyway we had a brief, violent quarrel. He said something
about my sister and I struck him. He clinched with me. We were fighting
then--and I am a fairly good athlete. I broke out of a clinch and hit him
pretty hard. He reached into his pocket and pulled a revolver. I managed
to grab his hand before he could fire. I got it from him, and as I jerked
it away--it went off. He fell--

"I was afraid then--panicky. I felt his body and realized that he was
dead. A train had just come into the yards and there were switch
engines puffing here and there--I was apprehensive that one of their
headlights would pick me up. And there were some railroad men walking
around the yards with lanterns in their hands. There was danger that I
was going to be seen--and, had I been, I felt that I wouldn't have a
leg to stand on; alone in such a place with the body of a man whom I
admitted having shot--

"You see, I couldn't even prove the contemplated elopement. Late that
evening I had received an anonymous telephone call from a man telling me
that if I wanted to save my sister a good deal of unpleasant gossip, I'd
better meet that midnight train as Warren was eloping on it with some
other woman. But the man who gave me this information cut off before
telling me the name of the woman. I didn't know it then--and I don't
know it now.

"I knew I had to hide Warren's body; not that my killing was not
justified on the grounds of self-defense, but because I would not bring
my sister's name into it--and also because even if I did, there'd be no
proof of the truth of what I said.

"I dragged his body into the shadows between the two buildings. Atlantic
Avenue was deserted. At the curb I saw a yellow taxicab and noticed that
the driver was in the restaurant across the street. I conceived the idea
of putting the body in the taxicab--I knew I wouldn't be seen doing it,
and it would serve the purpose of causing the body to be discovered at
some point other than that at which the shooting occurred.

"I did it. Then I left. The next morning I read of the case in the papers
and I have followed it closely since. I knew you were ostensibly on the
wrong track and as a matter of self-preservation I determined to keep my
mouth shut unless it happened that the wrong person was accused. Had you
charged someone else with the killing I assure you I would have come
forward. But meanwhile--not even knowing the identity of the woman in the
taxi--there seemed no necessity for running the risk. There was nothing
save my own word to prove self-defense, you see."

"There is now," said Carroll. Hazel started eagerly and he smiled upon
her. "The story of the woman who actually was in the taxicab
substantiates yours, Gresham. She had followed Warren into the yards to
talk to him. She saw the whole affair from a distance--and then went back
through the waiting room of the station and called the taxi in which you
had placed Warren's body."

"Then Garry will be freed?" cried the girl hopefully: "His plea of
self-defense will acquit him?"

"Undoubtedly," retorted Carroll. "Don't you think so, Leverage?"

"Surest thing you know," returned the chief heartily. "And I'm darned
glad of it!"

Garry faced his sister. "How did you know that I had killed him, Sis?"

"I didn't," she answered quietly. "Not at first, anyway. But, if you
remember, you came in the house a little after eleven o'clock that night
and seemed excited. You came to my room--"

"I was thinking then," explained Garry, "that maybe _you_ were eloping
with Warren."

"Then you came home again a little after one o'clock. You waked me
then--and acted peculiarly."

"I was reassuring myself," he said, "that you really hadn't left
the house."

"The next morning while you were taking your shower I was putting up
your laundry," Hazel went on. "I found a revolver in your drawer. I
didn't think anything of it then--I hadn't even read the papers about
the--the--killing. But later, I remembered it. I went back to look for
the revolver--just why, I don't know--and it was gone. I questioned
you about it a couple of days later, and you denied that you had ever
had a revolver in the house. And I knew then, Garry--I knew that you
had done it."

He squeezed her hand. "We always did know more about each other than we
were told, didn't we, Little Sis? Because at that moment, too, I knew
that you knew!"

The young man turned back to the detectives--"And what now?" he

"We'll have to hold you, Gresham. You'll have to go through the form of
a trial--but you'll get off, don't worry!"

Sister and brother left the room hand-in-hand. Alone again, the two
detectives faced each other. "You win, David," said Leverage admiringly.
"Though darned if I know how you do it?"

"A combination of luck and common sense," returned Carroll simply. "This
time it was principally luck. It usually is in such cases--but most
detectives don't admit it. It is the wild-eyed reporter with the vivid
imagination whom we can thank for this solution. It was his fiction that
brought about Miss Gresham's ridiculous confession and that which caused
me to know that she must be shielding her brother. As to how matters
stand--I say Thank God!"


"Garry Gresham will undoubtedly be freed; it was a clear case of
self-defense. Unfortunately, the fact that there was an elopement will
have to be known--but that is a comparatively trivial thing, unpleasant
as it may be for Miss Gresham. And, most of all--I'm glad because Naomi
Lawrence's name will not be dragged into it."

"How will you work that, David?"

"It can be done, Eric. The district attorney is a pretty good friend of
mine--and he's a good square fellow. Of course he will have to know the
entire story; and it is a certainty that he will believe it. And when he
does--you know that he will handle the case so that Mrs. Lawrence will
not be connected. Irregular--yes. But you believe he can--and will--do
it, don't you?"

"You bet your bottom dollar he will. He's another nut like you--so
bloomin' human it hurts."

"And now--" said Carroll, "I want to chat with William Barker. There are
one or two loose ends I want to clear up."

Barker was very humble as he entered the room.

"You're free of the murder charge," stated Carroll promptly, "but we may
hold you for blackmail."

Barker heaved a sigh of relief. "I ain't objectin' to that, Mr. Carroll.
It's a small thing when a man has thought he might be strung up."

"Who killed Warren?" questioned the detective.

"Don't you know?" came the surprised answer.

"Yes--but I'm asking you."

"I suppose you're driving at something new," retorted Barker, "but _I_
really think Mrs. Lawrence shot him."

"She didn't," answered Carroll. "And there's one thing I want to warn you
about right now, Barker. You're the only person except the Chief here,
and myself, who knows that Mrs. Lawrence is connected with the case. I
want her name kept out of it. Of course that makes it impossible to
arrest you for blackmail--and so, if you tell me the entire truth, I'm
going to _let_ you go free. But if I ever hear of her name in connection
with this case I'll know that you have leaked--and I'll get you if it
takes me ten years. Understand?"

"Yes, sir, I do--thankin' you, sir. I know which side my bread is
buttered on."

"Good. Now I'm telling you that Mrs. Lawrence did _not_ shoot Warren.
Who did?"

"I don't know--" Suddenly his expression changed. "If it wasn't her, Mr.
Carroll--it must have been Mr. Gresham."

"Aa-a-ah! What makes you think that?"

Barker's eyes narrowed. "You give me your word of honor, Mr. Carroll, I
ain't goin' to be pinched for blackmail?"


"Well, it was this way, sir. Bein' Mr. Warren's valet I knew he was
plannin' to run off with Mrs. Lawrence. I knew that was going to raise an
awful row in town--and I knew that Mr. Gresham would do a heap to keep
his sister from bein' unhappy as she was going to be if Mr. Warren done
as he was plannin'. So I called up Mr. Gresham that night and told him
everything but the woman's name. My idea was that he'd bust up the
elopement. I went to the station to make sure that Mrs. Lawrence got
there--knowin' that once she' was there, if young Mr. Gresham busted
things up, I'd be able to blackmail Mrs. Lawrence--her bein' a rich
woman. I'm comin' clean with you, Mr. Carroll--"

"Go ahead!"

"I never seen Mr. Gresham at all at the station. And when I seen Mrs.
Lawrence get into the taxi and found out the next morning that Mr.
Warren's body was found there--of course I couldn't help thinkin' like I
did, could I?"

"I suppose not. You're a skunk, Barker--and I hate to let you go. But if
the Chief is willing I'm going to do it--because your hide isn't worth
Mrs. Lawrence's good name. Now get out!"

"I'm free?" questioned the man eagerly.

"How about it, Leverage?"

"Sure," growled Leverage. "You're the boss, David."

Immediately as Barker left the room Carroll turned to the telephone and
called a number.

"Who's that?" questioned Leverage.

"Mrs. Lawrence," answered Carroll. "I want to tell her that she is safe."

Leverage smiled broadly. And as he watched Carroll's eager face he saw an
expression of consternation cross it. Carroll covered the transmitter
with his hand--

"Good Lord!" he groaned, "it's Evelyn Rogers!"

Leverage chuckled--then listened shamelessly to Carroll's end of the

"Yes--yes, this is David Carroll--I'm glad you think it was sweet of me
to telephone--I want to speak to your sister--She isn't there?--Well, ask
her to telephone me at headquarters as soon as she comes in, will
you?--Uh-huh!--the Warren case has ended--and that's what I wanted to
tell her--I only did my best--Yes--Oh! say--"

The receiver clicked on the hook. Carroll was grinning as he turned back
to his friend--

"Guess what that young thing said when I told her I had solved the
Warren case?"

"Tell me, David--I'm a poor guesser."

"She said," returned Carroll gravely--"that I am just the cutest man she
has ever known!"

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