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The Bat by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood

Part 5 out of 5

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"He may know who did it. Do you?"

Billy still shook his head.

Bailey remained unconvinced.

"Who did you see at the head of the small staircase?" he queried
imperatively. "Now we're through with nonsense; I want the truth!"

Billy shivered.

"See face - that's all," he brought out at last.

"Whose face?"

Again it was evident that Billy knew or thought he knew more than
he was willing to tell.

"Don't know," he said with obvious untruth, looking down at the

"Never mind, Billy," cut in Miss Cornelia. To her mind questioning
Billy was wasting time. She looked at the Unknown.

"Solve the mystery of this man and we may get at the facts," she
said in accents of conviction.

As Bailey turned toward her questioningly, Billy attempted to steal
silently out of the door, apparently preferring any fears that might
lurk in the darkness of the corridor to a further grilling on the
subject of whom or what he had seen on the alcove stairs. But
Bailey caught the movement out of the tail of his eye.

"You stay here," he commanded. Billy stood frozen. Beresford
raised the candle so that it cast its light full in the Unknown's

"This chap claims to have lost his memory," he said dubiously. "I
suppose a blow on the head might do that, I don't know."

"I wish somebody would knock me on the head! I'd like to forget a
few things!" moaned Lizzie, but the interruption went unregarded.

"Don't you even know your name?" queried Miss Cornelia of the Unknown.

The Unknown shook his head with a slow, laborious gesture.

"Not - yet."

"Or where you came from?"

Once more the battered head made its movement of negation.

"Do you remember how you got in this house?" The Unknown made an

"Yes - I - remember - that - all - right" he said, apparently
undergoing an enormous strain in order to make himself speak at all.
He put his hand to his head.

"My - head - aches - to - beat - the - band," he continued slowly.

Miss Cornelia was at a loss. If this were acting, it was at least
fine acting.

"How did you happen to come to this house?" she persisted, her voice
unconsciously tuning itself to the slow, laborious speech of the

"Saw - the - lights."

Bailey broke in with a question.

"Where were you when you saw the lights?"

The Unknown wet his lips with his tongue, painfully.

"I - broke - out - of - the - garage," he said at length. This was
unexpected. A general movement of interest ran over the group.

"How did you get there?" Beresford took his turn as questioner.

The Unknown shook his head, so slowly and deliberately that Miss
Cornelia's fingers itched to shake him in spite of his injuries.

"I - don't - know."

"Have you been robbed?" queried Bailey with keen suspicion.

The Unknown mumbled something unintelligible. Then he seemed to
get command of his tongue again.

"Everything gone - out of - my pockets," he said.

"Including your watch?" pursued Bailey, remembering the watch that
Beresford had found in the grounds.

The Unknown would neither affirm nor deny.

"If - I - had - a - watch - it's gone," he said with maddening
deliberation. "All my - papers - are gone.

Miss Cornelia pounced upon this last statement like a cat upon a

"How do you know you had papers?" she asked sharply.

For the first time the faintest flicker of a smile seemed to appear
for a moment on the Unknown's features. Then it vanished as
abruptly as it had come.

"Most men - carry papers - don't they?" he asked, staring blindly
in front of him. "I'm dazed - but - my mind's - all - right. If
you - ask me - I - think - I'm - d-damned funny!"

He gave the ghost of a chuckle. Bailey and Beresford exchanged

"Did you ring the house phone?" insisted Miss Cornelia.

The Unknown nodded.


Miss Cornelia and Bailey gave each other a look of wonderment.

"I - leaned against - the button - in the garage - " he went on.
"Then - I think - maybe I - fainted. That's - not clear."

His eyelids drooped. He seemed about to faint again.

Dale rose, and came over to him, with a sympathetic movement of her

"You don't remember how you were hurt?" she asked gently.

The Unknown stared ahead of him, his eyes filming, as if he were
trying to puzzle it out.

"No," he said at last. "The first thing I remember - I was in the
garage - tied." He moved his lips. "I was - gagged - too - that's
- what's the matter - with my tongue - now - Then - I got myself
- free - and - got out - of a window - "

Miss Cornelia made a movement to question him further. Beresford
stopped her with his hand uplifted.

"Just a moment, Miss Van Gorder. Anderson ought to know of this."

He started for the door without perceiving the flash of keen
intelligence and alertness that had lit the Unknown's countenance
for an instant, as once before, at the mention of the detective's
name. But just as he reached the door the detective entered.

He halted for a moment, staring at the strange figure of the Unknown.

"A new element in our mystery, Mr. Anderson," said Miss Cornelia,
remembering that the detective might not have heard of the mysterious
stranger before - as he had been locked in the billiard room when the
latter had made his queer entrance.

The detective and the Unknown gazed at each other for a moment - the
Unknown with his old expression of vacant stupidity.

"Quite dazed, poor fellow," Miss Cornelia went on. Beresford added
other words of explanation.

"He doesn't remember what happened to him. Curious, isn't it?"

The detective still seemed puzzled.

"How did he get into the house?"

"He came through the terrace door some time ago," answered Miss
Cornelia. "Just before we were locked in."

Her answer seemed to solve the problem to Anderson's satisfaction.

"Doesn't remember anything, eh?" he said dryly. He crossed over to
the mysterious stranger and put his hand under the Unknown's chin,
jerking his head up roughly.

"Look up here!" he commanded.

The Unknown stared at him for an instant with blank, vacuous eyes.
Then his head dropped back upon his breast again.

"Look up, you - " muttered the detective, jerking his head again.
"This losing your memory stuff doesn't go down with me!" His eyes
bored into the Unknown's.

"It doesn't - go down - very well - with me - either," said the
Unknown weakly, making no movement of protest against Anderson's
rough handling.

"Did you ever see me before?" demanded the latter. Beresford held
the candle closer so that he might watch the Unknown's face for any
involuntary movement of betrayal.

But the Unknown made no such movement. He gazed at Anderson,
apparently with the greatest bewilderment, then his eyes cleared,
he seemed to be about to remember who the detective was.

"You're - the - Doctor - I - saw - downstairs - aren't you?" he
said innocently. The detective set his jaw. He started off on a
new tack.

"Does this belong to you?" he said suddenly, plucking from his
pocket the battered gold watch that Beresford had found and waving
it before the Unknown's blank face.

The Unknown stared at it a moment, as a child might stare at a new
toy, with no gleam of recognition. Then -

"Maybe," he admitted. "I - don't - know." His voice trailed off.
He fell back against Bailey's arm.

Miss Cornelia gave a little shiver. The third degree in reality
was less pleasant to watch than it had been to read about in the
pages of her favorite detective stories.

"He's evidently been attacked," she said, turning to Anderson.
"He claims to have recovered consciousness in the garage, where
he was tied hand and foot!"

"He does, eh?" said the detective heavily. He glared at the
Unknown. "If you'll give me five minutes alone with him, I'll get
the truth out of him!" he promised.

A look of swift alarm swept over the Unknown's face at the words,
unperceived by any except Miss Cornelia. The others started
obediently to yield to the detective's behest and leave him alone
with his prisoner. Miss Cornelia was the first to move toward the
door. On her way, she turned.

"Do you believe that money is irrevocably gone?" she asked of

The detective smiled.

"There's no such word as 'irrevocable' in my vocabulary," he
answered. "But I believe it's out of the house, if that's what
you mean."

Miss Cornelia still hesitated, on the verge of departure.

"Suppose I tell you that there are certain facts that you have
overlooked?" she said slowly.

"Still on the trail!" muttered the detective sardonically. He did
not even glance at her. He seemed only anxious that the other
members of the group would get out of his way for once and leave
him a clear field for his work.

"I was right about the Doctor, wasn't I?" she insisted.

"Just fifty per cent right," said Anderson crushingly. "And the
Doctor didn't turn that trick alone. Now - " he went on with
weary patience, "if you'll all go out and close that door - "

Miss Cornelia, defeated, took a candle from Bailey
and stepped into the corridor. Her figure stiffened. She
gave an audible gasp of dismayed surprise.

"Quick!" she cried, turning back to the others and gesturing toward
the corridor. "A man just went through that skylight and out onto
the roof!"



"Our on the roof!"

"Come on, Beresford!"

"Hustle - you men! He may be armed!"

"Righto - coming!"

And following Miss Cornelia's lead, Jack Bailey, Anderson, Beresford,
and Billy dashed out into the corridor, leaving Dale and the
frightened Lizzie alone with the Unknown.

"And I'd run if my legs would!" Lizzie despaired.

"Hush!" said Dale, her ears strained for sounds of conflict. Lizzie,
creeping closer to her for comfort, stumbled over one of the Unknown's
feet and promptly set up a new wail.

"How do we know this fellow right here isn't the Bat?" she asked in
a blood-chilling whisper, nearly stabbing the unfortunate Unknown in
the eye with her thumb as she pointed at him. The Unknown was
either too dazed or too crafty to make any answer. His silence
confirmed Lizzie's worst suspicions. She fairly hugged the floor
and began to pray in a whisper.

Miss Cornelia re-entered cautiously with her candle, closing the
door gently behind her as she came.

"What did you see?" gasped Dale.

Miss Cornelia smiled broadly.

"I didn't see anything," she admitted with the greatest calm. "I
had to get that dratted detective out of the room before I
assassinated him."

"Nobody went through the skylight?" said Dale incredulously.

"They have now," answered Miss Cornelia with obvious satisfaction.
"The whole outfit of them."

She stole a glance at the veiled eyes of the Unknown. He was lying
limply back in his chair, as if the excitement had been too much
for him - and yet she could have sworn she had seen him leap to his
feet, like a man in full possession of his faculties, when she had
given her-false cry of alarm.

"Then why did you - " began Dale dazedly, unable to fathom her
aunt's reasons for her trick.

"Because," interrupted Miss Cornelia decidedly, "that money's in
this room. If the man who took it out of the safe got away with
it, why did he come back and hide there?"

Her forefinger jabbed at the hidden chamber wherein the masked
intruder had terrified Dale with threats of instant death.

"He got it out of the safe - and that's as far as he did get with
it," she persisted inexorably. "There's a HAT behind that safe, a
man's felt hat!"

So this was the discovery she had hinted of to Anderson before he
rebuffed her proffer of assistance!

"Oh, I wish he'd take his hat and-go home!" groaned Lizzie
inattentive to all but her own fears.

Miss Cornelia did not even bother to rebuke her. She crossed behind
the wicker clothes hamper and picked up something from the floor.

"A half-burned candle," she mused. "Another thing the detective

She stepped back to the center of the room, looking knowingly from
the candle to the Hidden Room and back again.

"Oh, my God - another one!" shrieked Lizzie as the dark shape of a
man appeared suddenly outside the window, as if materialized from
the air.

Miss Cornelia snatched up her revolver from the top of the hamper.

"Don't shoot - it's Jack!" came a warning cry from Dale as she
recognized the figure of her lover.

Miss Cornelia laid her revolver down on the hamper again. The
vacant eyes of the Unknown caught the movement.

Bailey swung in through the window, panting a little from his

"The man Lizzie saw drop from the skylight undoubtedly got to the
roof from this window," he said. "It's quite easy."

"But not with one hand," said Miss Cornelia, with her gaze now
directed at the row of tall closets around the walls of the room.
When that detective comes back I may have a surprise party for him,"
she muttered, with a gleam of hope in her eye.

Dale explained the situation to Jack.

"Aunt Cornelia thinks the money's still here."

Miss Cornelia snorted.

"I know it's here." She started to open the closets, one after the
other, beginning at the left. Bailey saw what she was doing and
began to help her.

Not so Lizzie. She sat on the floor in a heap, her eyes riveted on
the Unknown, who in his turn was gazing at Miss Cornelia's revolver
on the hamper with the intent stare of a baby or an idiot fascinated
by a glittering piece of glass.

Dale noticed the curious tableau.

"Lizzie - what are you looking at?" she said with a nervous shake in
her voice.

"What's he looking at?" asked Lizzie sepulchrally, pointing at the
Unknown. Her pointed forefinger drew his eyes away from the
revolver; he sank back into his former apathy, listless, drooping.

Miss Cornelia rattled the knob of a high closet by the other wall.

"This one is locked - and the key's gone," she announced. A new
flicker of interest grew in the eyes of the Unknown. Lizzie glanced
away from him, terrified.

"If there's anything locked up in that closet," she whimpered, "you'd
better let it stay! There's enough running loose in this house as
it is!"

Unfortunately for her, her whimper drew Miss Cornelia's attention
upon her.

"Lizzie, did you ever take that key?" the latter queried sternly.

"No'm," said Lizzie, too scared to dissimulate if she had wished.
She wagged her head violently a dozen times, like a china figure
on a mantelpiece.

Miss Cornelia pondered.

"It may be locked from the inside; I'll soon find out." She took
a wire hairpin from her hair and pushed it through the keyhole.
But there was no key on the other side; the hairpin went through
without obstruction. Repeated efforts to jerk the door open failed.
And finally Miss Cornelia bethought herself of a key from the other
closet doors.

Dale and Lizzie on one side - Bailey on the other - collected the
keys of the other closets from their locks while Miss Cornelia
stared at the one whose doors were closed as if she would force
its secret from it with her eyes. The Unknown had been so quiet
during the last few minutes, that, unconsciously, the others had
ceased to pay much attention to him, except the casual attention
one devotes to a piece of furniture. Even Lizzie's eyes were now
fixed on the locked closet. And the Unknown himself was the first
to notice this.

At once his expression altered to one of cunning - cautiously, with
infinite patience, he began to inch his chair over toward the wicker
clothes hamper. The noise of the others, moving about the room,
drowned out what little he made in moving his chair.

At last he was within reach of the revolver. His hand shot out in
one swift sinuous thrust - clutched the weapon - withdrew. He then
concealed the revolver among his tattered garments as best he could
and, cautiously as before, inched his chair back again to its
original position. When the others noticed him again, the mask of
lifelessness was back on his face and one could have sworn he had
not changed his position by the breadth of an inch.

"There - that unlocked it!" cried Miss Cornelia triumphantly at last,
as the key to one of the other closet doors slid smoothly into the
lock and she heard the click that meant victory.

She was about to throw open the closet door. But Bailey motioned
her back.

"I'd keep back a little," he cautioned. "You don't know what may
be inside."

"Mercy sakes, who wants to know?" shivered Lizzie. Dale and Miss
Cornelia, too, stepped aside involuntarily as Bailey took the candle
and prepared, with a good deal of caution, to open the closet door.

The door swung open at last. He could look in. He did so - and
stared appalled at what he saw, while goose flesh crawled on his
spine and the hairs of his head stood up.

After a moment he closed the door of the closet and turned back,
white-faced, to the others.

"What is it?" said Dale aghast. "What did you see?"

Bailey found himself unable to answer for a moment. Then he pulled
himself together. He turned to Miss Van Gorder.

"Miss Cornelia, I think we have found the ghost the Jap butler saw,"
he said slowly. "How are your nerves?"

Miss Cornelia extended a hand that did not tremble.

"Give me the candle."

He did so. She went to the closet and opened the door.

Whatever faults Miss Cornelia may have had, lack of courage was not
one of them - or the ability to withstand a stunning mental shock.
Had it been otherwise she might well have crumpled to the floor, as
if struck down by an invisible hammer, the moment the closet door
swung open before her.

Huddled on the floor of the closet was the body of a man. So
crudely had he been crammed into this hiding-place that he lay
twisted and bent. And as if to add to the horror of the moment one
arm, released from its confinement, now slipped and slid out into
the floor of the room.

Miss Cornelia's voice sounded strange to her own ears when finally
she spoke.

"But who is it?"

"It is - or was - Courtleigh Fleming," said Bailey dully.

"But how can it be? Mr. Fleming died two weeks ago. I - "

"He died in this house sometime tonight. The body is still warm."

"But who killed him? The Bat?"

"Isn't it likely that the Doctor did it? The man who has been his
accomplice all along? Who probably bought a cadaver out West and
buried it with honors here not long ago?"

He spoke without bitterness. Whatever resentment he might have felt
died in that awful presence.

"He got into the house early tonight," he said, "probably with the
Doctor's connivance. That wrist watch there is probably the
luminous eye Lizzie thought she saw.

But Miss Cornelia's face was still thoughtful, and he went on:

"Isn't it clear, Miss Van Gorder?" he queried, with a smile. "The
Doctor and old Mr. Fleming formed a conspiracy - both needed money -
lots of it. Fleming was to rob the bank and hide the money here.
Wells's part was to issue a false death certificate in the West, and
bury a substitute body, secured God knows how. It was easy; it kept
the name of the president of the Union Bank free from suspicion -
and it put the blame on me."

He paused, thinking it out.

"Only they slipped up in one place. Dick Fleming leased the house
to you and they couldn't get it back."

"Then you are sure," said Miss Cornelia quickly, "that tonight
Courtleigh Fleming broke in, with the Doctor's assistance - and
that he killed Dick, his own nephew, from the staircase?"

"Aren't you?" asked Bailey surprised. The more he thought of it
the less clearly could he visualize it any other way.

Miss Cornelia shook her head decidedly.


Bailey thought her merely obstinate - unwilling to give up, for
pride's sake, her own pet theory of the activities of the Bat.

"Wells tried to get out of the house tonight with that blue-print.
Why? Because he knew the moment we got it, we'd come up here - and
Fleming was here."

"Perfectly true," nodded Miss Cornelia. "And then?"

"Old Fleming killed Dick and Wells killed Fleming," said Bailey
succinctly. "You can't get away from it!"

But Miss Cornelia still shook her head. The explanation was too
mechanical. It laid too little emphasis on the characters of those
most concerned.

"No," she said. "No. The Doctor isn't a murderer. He's as
puzzled as we are about some things. He and Courtleigh Fleming
were working together - but remember this - Doctor Wells was locked
in the living-room with us. He'd been trying to get up the stairs
all evening and failed every time."

But Bailey was as convinced of the truth of his theory as she of

"He was here ten minutes ago - locked in this room," he said with
a glance at the ladder up which the doctor had ascended.

"I'll grant you that," said Miss Cornelia. "But - " She thought
back swiftly. "But at the same time an Unknown Masked Man was
locked in that mantel-room with Dale. The Doctor put out the
candle when you opened that Hidden Room. Why? Because he thought
Courtleigh Fleming was hiding there!" Now the missing pieces of
her puzzle were falling into their places with a vengeance. "But
at this moment," she continued, "the Doctor believes that Fleming
has made his escape! No - we haven't solved the mystery yet. There's
another element - an unknown element," her eyes rested for a moment
upon the Unknown, "and that element is - the Bat!"

She paused, impressively. The others stared at her - no longer able
to deny the sinister plausibility of her theory. But this new
tangling of the mystery, just when the black threads seemed raveled
out at last, was almost too much for Dale.

"Oh, call the detective!" she stammered, on the verge of hysterical
tears. "Let's get through with this thing! I can't bear any more!"

But Miss Cornelia did not even hear her. Her mind, strung now to
concert pitch, had harked back to the point it had reached some
time ago, and which all the recent distractions had momentarily

Had the money been taken out of the house or had it not? In that
mad rush for escape had the man hidden with Dale in the recess back
of the mantel carried his booty with him, or left it behind? It
was not in the Hidden Room, that was certain.

Yet she was so hopeless by that time that her first search was
purely perfunctory.

During her progress about the room the Unknown's eyes followed her,
but so still had he sat, so amazing had been the discovery of the
body, that no one any longer observed him. Now and then his head
drooped forward as if actual weakness was almost overpowering him,
but his eyes were keen and observant, and he was no longer taking
the trouble to act - if he had been acting.

It was when Bailey finally opened the lid of a clothes hamper that
they stumbled on their first clue.

"Nothing here but some clothes and books," he said, glancing inside.

"Books?" said Miss Cornelia dubiously. "I left no books in that

Bailey picked up one of the cheap paper novels and read its title
aloud, with a wry smile.

"'Little Rosebud's Lover, Or The Cruel Revenge,' by Laura Jean - "

"That's mine!" said Lizzie promptly. "Oh, Miss Neily, I tell you
this house is haunted. I left that book in my satchel along with
'Wedded But No Wife' and now - "

"Where's your satchel?" snapped Miss Cornelia, her eyes gleaming.

"Where's my satchel?" mumbled Lizzie, staring about as best she
could. "I don't see it. If that wretch has stolen my satchel - !"

"Where did you leave it?"

"Up here. Right in this room. It was a new satchel too. I'll have
the law on him, that's what I'll do."

"Isn't that your satchel, Lizzie?" asked Miss Cornelia, indicating
a battered bag in a dark corner of shadows above the window.

"Yes'm," she admitted. But she did not dare approach very close to
the recovered bag. It might bite her!

"Put it there on the hamper," ordered Miss Cornelia.

"I'm scared to touch it!" moaned Lizzie. "It may have a bomb in it!"

She took up the bag between finger and thumb and, holding it with
the care she would have bestowed upon a bottle of nitroglycerin,
carried it over to the hamper and set it down. Then she backed away
from it, ready to leap for the door at a moment's warning.

Miss Cornelia started for the satchel. Then she remembered. She
turned to Bailey.

"You open it," she said graciously. "If the money's there - you're
the one who ought to find it;"

Bailey gave her a look of gratitude. Then, smiling at Dale
encouragingly, he crossed over to the satchel, Dale at his heels.
Miss Cornelia watched him fumble at the catch of the bag - even
Lizzie drew closer. For a moment even the Unknown was forgotten.

Bailey gave a triumphant cry.

"The money's here!"

"Oh, thank God!" sobbed Dale.

It was an emotional moment. It seemed to have penetrated even
through the haze enveloping the injured man in his chair. Slowly
he got up, like a man who has been waiting for his moment, and now
that it had come was in no hurry about it. With equal deliberation
he drew the revolver and took a step forward. And at that instant
a red glare appeared outside the open window and overhead could be
heard the feet of the searchers, running.

"Fire!" screamed Lizzie, pointing to the window, even as Beresford's
voice from the roof rang out in a shout. "The garage is burning!"

They turned toward the door to escape, but a strange and menacing
figure blocked their way.

It was the Unknown - no longer the bewildered stranger who had
stumbled in through the living-room door - but a man with every
faculty of mind and body alert and the light of a deadly purpose
in his eyes. He covered the group with Miss Cornelia's revolver.

"This door is locked and the key is in my pocket!" he said in a
savage voice as the red light at the window grew yet more vivid
and muffled cries and tramplings from overhead betokened universal
confusion and alarm.



Lizzie opened her mouth to scream. But for once she did not carry
out her purpose.

"Not a sound out of you!" warned the Unknown brutally, almost
jabbing the revolver into her ribs. He wheeled on Bailey.

"Close that satchel," he commanded, "and put it back where you
found it!"

Bailey's fist closed. He took a step toward his captor.

"You - " he began in a furious voice. But the steely glint in the
eyes of the Unknown was enough to give any man pause.

"Jack!" pleaded Dale. Bailey halted.

"Do what he tells you!" Miss Cornelia insisted, her voice shaking.

A brave man may be willing to fight with odds a hundred to one -
but only a fool will rush on certain death. Reluctantly, dejectedly,
Bailey obeyed - stuffed the money back in the satchel and replaced
the latter in its corner of shadows near the window.

"It's the Bat - it's the Bat!" whispered Lizzie eerily, and, for
once her gloomy prophecies seemed to be in a fair way of
justification, for "Blow out that candle!" commanded the Unknown
sternly, and, after a moment of hesitation on Miss Cornelia's part,
the room was again plunged in darkness except for the red glow
at the window.

This finished Lizzie for the evening. She spoke from a dry throat.

"I'm going to scream!" she sobbed hysterically. "I can't keep it

But at last she had encountered someone who had no patience with
her vagaries.

"Put that woman in the mantel-room and shut her up!" ordered the
Unknown, the muzzle of his revolver emphasizing his words with a
savage little movement.

Bailey took Lizzie under the arms and started to execute the order.
But the sometime colleen from Kerry did not depart without one
Parthian arrow.

"Don't shove," she said in tones of the greatest dignity as she
stumbled into the Hidden Room. "I'm damn glad to go!"

The iron doors shut behind her. Bailey watched the Unknown intently.
One moment of relaxed vigilance and -

But though the Unknown was unlocking the door with his left hand the
revolver in his right hand was as steady as a rock. He seemed to
listen for a moment at the crack of the door.

"Not a sound if you value your lives!" he warned again, he shepherded
them away from the direction of the window with his revolver.

"In a moment or two," he said in a hushed, taut voice, "a man will
come into this room, either through the door or by that window - the
man who started the fire to draw you out of this house."

Bailey threw aside all pride in his concern for Dale's safety.

"For God's sake, don't keep these women here!" he pleaded in low,
tense tones.

The Unknown seemed to tower above him like a destroying angel.

"Keep them here where we can watch them!" he whispered with fierce
impatience. "Don't you understand.? There's a KILLER loose!"

And so for a moment they stood there, waiting for they knew not what.
So swift had been the transition from joy to deadly terror, and now
to suspense, that only Miss Cornelia's agile brain seemed able to
respond. And at first it did even that very slowly.

"I begin to understand," she said in a low tone. "The man who
struck you down and tied you in the garage - the man who killed Dick
Fleming and stabbed that poor wretch in the closet - the man who
locked us in downstairs and removed the money from that safe - the
man who started that fire outside - is - "

"Sssh!" warned the Unknown imperatively as a sound from the direction
of the window seemed to reach his ears. He ran quickly back to the
corridor door and locked it.

"Stand back out of that light! The ladder!"

Miss Cornelia and Dale shrank back against the mantel. Bailey took
up a post beside the window, the Unknown flattening himself against
the wall beside him. There was a breathless pause.

The top of the extension ladder began to tremble. A black bulk
stood clearly outlined against the diminishing red glow - the Bat,
masked and sinister, on his last foray!

There was no sound as the killer stepped into the room. He waited
for a second that seemed a year - still no sound. Then he turned
cautiously toward the place where he had left the satchel - the
beam of his flashlight picked it out.

In an instant the Unknown and Bailey were upon him. There was a
short, ferocious struggle in the darkness - a gasp of laboring
lungs - the thud of fighting bodies clenched in a death grapple.

"Get his gun!" muttered the Unknown hoarsely to Bailey as he tore
the Bat's lean hands away from his throat. "Got it?"

"Yes," gasped Bailey. He jabbed the muzzle against a straining back.
The Bat ceased to struggle. Bailey stepped a little away.

"I've still got you covered!" he said fiercely. The Bat made no

"Hold out your hands, Bat, while I put on the bracelets," commanded
the Unknown in tones of terse triumph. He snapped the steel cuffs
on the wrists of the murderous prowler. "Sometimes even the
cleverest Bat comes through a window at night and is caught. Double
murder - burglary - and arson! That's a good night's work even for
you, Bat!"

He switched his flashlight on the Bat's masked face. As he did so
the house lights came on; the electric light company had at last
remembered its duties. All blinked for an instant in the sudden

"Take off that handkerchief!" barked the Unknown, motioning at the
black silk handkerchief that still hid the face of the Bat from
recognition. Bailey stripped it from the haggard, desperate
features with a quick movement - and stood appalled.

A simultaneous gasp went up from Dale and Miss Cornelia.

It was Anderson, the detective! And he was - the Bat!

"It's Mr. Anderson!" stuttered Dale, aghast at the discovery.

The Unknown gloated over his captive.

"I'm Anderson," he said. "This man has been impersonating me.
You're a good actor, Bat, for a fellow that's such a bad actor!"
he taunted. "How did you get the dope on this case? Did you tap
the wires to headquarters?"

The Bat allowed himself a little sardonic smile.

"I'll tell you that when I - " he began, then, suddenly, made his
last bid for freedom. With one swift, desperate movement, in spite
of his handcuffs, he jerked the real Anderson's revolver from him
by the barrel, then wheeling with lightning rapidity on Bailey,
brought the butt of Anderson's revolver down on his wrist. Bailey's
revolver fell to the floor with a clatter. The Bat swung toward the
door. Again the tables were turned!

"Hands up, everybody!" he ordered, menacing the group with the
stolen pistol. "Hands up - you!" as Miss Cornelia kept her hands
at her sides.

It was the greatest moment of Miss Cornelia's life. She smiled
sweetly and came toward the Bat as if the pistol aimed at her heart
were as innocuous as a toothbrush.

"Why?" she queried mildly. "I took the bullets out of that revolver
two hours ago.

The Bat flung the revolver toward her with a curse. The real
Anderson instantly snatched up the gun that Bailey had dropped and
covered the Bat.

"Don't move!" he warned, "or I'll fill you full of lead!" He smiled
out of the corner of his mouth at Miss Cornelia who was primly
picking up the revolver that the Bat had flung at her - her own

"You see - you never know what a woman will do," he continued.

Miss Cornelia smiled. She broke open the revolver, five loaded
shells fell from it to the floor. The Bat stared at her - then
stared incredulously at the bullets.

"You see," she said, "I, too, have a little imagination!"



An hour or so later in a living-room whose terrors had departed,
Miss Cornelia, her niece, and Jack Bailey were gathered before a
roaring fire. The local police had come and gone; the bodies of
Courtleigh Fleming and his nephew had been removed to the mortuary;
Beresford had returned to his home, though under summons as a
material witness; the Bat, under heavy guard, had gone off under
charge of the detective. As for Doctor Wells, he too was under
arrest, and a broken man, though, considering the fact that
Courtleigh Fleming had been throughout the prime mover in the
conspiracy, he might escape with a comparatively light sentence.
In a little while the newspapermen of all the great journals would
be at the door - but for a moment the sorely tried group at
Cedarcrest enjoyed a temporary respite and they made the best of
it while they could.

The fire burned brightly and the lovers, hand in hand, sat before
it. But Miss Cornelia, birdlike and brisk, sat upright on a chair
near by and relived the greatest triumph of her life while she
knitted with automatic precision.

"Knit two, purl two," she would say, and then would wander once
more back to the subject in hand. Out behind the flower garden the
ruins of the garage and her beloved car were still smoldering; a
cool night wind came through the broken windowpane where not so
long before the bloody hand of the injured detective had intruded
itself. On the door to the hall, still fastened as the Bat had
left it, was the pathetic little creature with which the Bat had
signed a job - for once, before he had completed it.

But calmly and dispassionately Miss Cornelia worked out the
crossword puzzle of the evening and announced her results.

"It is all clear," she said. "Of course the Doctor had the
blue-print. And the Bat tried to get it from him. Then when the
Doctor had stunned him and locked him in the billiard room, the
Bat still had the key and unlocked his own handcuffs. After that
he had only to get out of a window and shut us in here."

And again:

"He had probably trailed the real detective all the way from town
and attacked him where Mr. Beresford found the watch."

Once, too, she harkened back to the anonymous letters-

"It must have been a blow to the Doctor and Courtleigh Fleming when
they found me settled in the house!" She smiled grimly. "And when
their letters failed to dislodge me.

But it was the Bat who held her interest; his daring assumption of
the detective's identity, his searching of the house ostensibly for
their safety but in reality for the treasure, and that one moment
of irresolution when he did not shoot the Doctor at the top of the
ladder. And thereafter lost his chance -

It somehow weakened her terrified admiration for him, but she had
nothing but acclaim for the escape he had made from the Hidden
Room itself.

"That took brains," she said. "Cold, hard brains. To dash out of
that room and down the stairs, pull off his mask and pick up a
candle, and then to come calmly back to the trunk room again and
accuse the Doctor - that took real ability. But I dread to think
what would have happened when he asked us all to go out and leave
him alone with the real Anderson!"

It was after two o'clock when she finally sent the young people
off to get some needed sleep but she herself was still bright-eyed
and wide-awake.

When Lizzie came at last to coax and scold her into bed, she was
sitting happily at the table surrounded by divers small articles
which she was handling with an almost childlike zest. A clipping
about the Bat from the evening newspaper; a piece of paper on which
was a well-defined fingerprint; a revolver and a heap of five shells;
a small very dead bat; the anonymous warnings, including the stone
in which the last one had been wrapped; a battered and broken watch,
somehow left behind; a dried and broken dinner roll; and the box of
sedative powders brought by Doctor Wells.

Lizzie came over to the table and surveyed her grimly.

"You see, Lizzie, it's quite a collection. I'm going to take them
and - "

But Lizzie bent over the table and picked up the box of powders.

"No, ma'am," she said with extreme finality. "You are not. You
are going- to take these and go to bed."

And Miss Cornelia did.

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