Part 4 out of 5
"Not likely. If the owner of that bag - a woman, presumably - is
the slayer of Joseph Crawford, and made her escape from the scene
undiscovered, she is not likely to stay around where she may be
found. And the bag itself, and its contents, are hopelessly
"They are that," I agreed. "Not a thing in it that mightn't be
in any woman's bag in this country. To me, that cleaner's
advertisement means nothing in connection with Miss Lloyd."
"I am glad to hear you say that, Mr. Burroughs. I confess I have
had a half-fear that your suspicions had a trend in Florence's
direction, and I assure you, sir, that girl is incapable of the
slightest impulse toward crime."
"I'm sure of that," I said heartily, my blood bounding in my
veins at an opportunity to speak in defense of the woman I loved.
"But how if her impulses were directed, or even coerced, by
"Just what do you mean by that?"
"Oh, nothing. But sometimes the best and sweetest women will act
against their own good impulses for those they love."
"I cannot pretend to misunderstand you," said Mr. Porter. "But
you are wrong. If the one you have in mind - I will say no name
- was in any way guiltily implicated, it was without the
knowledge or connivance of Florence Lloyd. But, man, the idea is
absurd. The individual in question has a perfect alibi."
"He refuses to give it."
"Refuses the details, perhaps. And he has a right to, since they
concern no one but himself. No, my friend, you know the French
rule; well, follow that, and search for the lady with the gold-
"The lady without it, at present," I said, with an apologetic
smile for my rather grim jest.
"Yes; and that's the difficulty. As she hasn't the bag, we can't
discover her. So as a clue it is worthless."
"It seems to be," I agreed.
I thought best not to tell Mr. Porter of the card I had found in
the bag, for I hoped soon to hear from headquarters concerning
the lady whose name it bore. But I told him about the photograph
I had found in Mr. Crawford's desk, and showed it to him. He did
not recognize it as being a portrait of any one he had ever seen.
Nor did he take it very seriously as a clue.
"I'm quite sure," he said, "that Joseph Crawford has not been
interested in any woman since the death of his wife. He has
always seemed devoted to her memory, and as one of his nearest
friends, I think I would have known if he had formed any other
attachment. Of course, in a matter like this, a man may well
have a secret from his nearest friends, but I cannot think this
mild and gentle-looking lady is at all concerned in the tragedy."
As a matter of fact, I agreed with Mr. Porter, for nothing I had
discovered among the late Mr. Crawford's effects led me to think
he had any secret romance.
After Mr, Porter's departure I studied long over my puzzles, and
I came to the conclusion that I could do little more until I
should hear from headquarters.
THE PHOTOGRAPH EXPLAINED
That evening I went to see Philip Crawford. As one of the
executors of his late brother's estate, and as probable heir to
the same, he was an important personage just now.
He seemed glad to see me, and glad to discuss ways and means of
running down the assassin. Like Mr. Porter, he attached little
importance to the gold bag.
"I can't help thinking it belongs to Florence," he said. "I know
the girl so well, and I know that her horrified fear of being in
any way connected with the tragedy might easily lead her to,
disown her own property, thinking the occasion justified the
untruth. That girl has no more guilty knowledge of Joseph's
death than I have, and that is absolutely none. I tell you
frankly, Mr. Burroughs, I haven't even a glimmer of a suspicion
of any one. I can't think of an enemy my brother had; he was the
most easy-going of men. I never knew him to quarrel with
anybody. So I trust that you, with your detective talent, can at
least find a clue to lead us in the right direction."
"You don't admit the gold bag as a clue, then?" I asked.
"Nonsense! No! If that were a clue, it would point to some
woman who came secretly at night to visit Joseph. My brother was
not that sort of man, sir. He had no feminine acquaintances that
were unknown to his relatives."
"That is, you suppose so."
"I know it! We have been brothers for sixty years or more, and
whatever Joseph's faults, they did not lie in that direction.
No, sir; if that bag is not Florence's, then there is some other
rational and commonplace explanation of its presence there."
"I'm glad to hear you speak so positively, Mr. Crawford, as to
your brother's feminine acquaintances. And in connection with
the subject, I would like to show you this photograph which I
found in his desk."
I handed the card to Mr. Crawford, whose features broke into a
smile as he looked at it.
"Oh, that," he said; "that is a picture, of Mrs. Patton." He
looked at the picture with a glance that seemed to be of admiring
reminiscence, and he studied the gentle face of the photograph a
moment without speaking.
Then he said, "She was beautiful as a girl. She used to be a
school friend of both Joseph and myself."
"She wrote rather an affectionate message on the back," I
Mr. Crawford turned the picture over.
"Oh, she didn't send this picture to Joseph. She sent it to my
wife last Christmas. I took it over to show it to Joseph some
months ago, and left it there without thinking much about it. He
probably laid it in his desk without thinking much about it,
either. No, no, Burroughs, there is no romance there, and you
can't connect Mrs. Patton with any of your detective
"I rather thought that, Mr. Crawford; for this is evidently a
sweet, simple-minded lady, and more over nothing has turned up to
indicate that Mr. Crawford had a romantic interest of any kind."
"No, he didn't. I knew Joseph as I know myself. No; whoever
killed my brother, was a man; some villain who had a motive that
I know nothing about."
"But you were intimately acquainted with your brother's affairs?"
"Yes, that is what proves to me that whoever this assassin was,
it was some one of whose motive I know nothing. The fact that my
brother was murdered, proves to me that my brother had an enemy,
but I had never suspected it before."
"Do you know a Mrs. Egerton Purvis?"
I flung the question at him, suddenly, hoping to catch him
unawares. But he only looked at me with the blank expression of
one who hears a name for the first time.
"No," he answered, "I never heard of her. Who is she?"
"Well, when I was hunting through that gold-mesh bag, I
discovered a lady's visiting card with that name on it. It had
slipped between the linings, and so had not been noticed before."
To my surprise, this piece of information seemed to annoy Mr.
"No!" he exclaimed. "In the bag? Then some one has put it
there! for I looked over all the bag's contents myself."
"It was between the pocket and the lining," said I; "it is there
still, for as I felt sure no one else would discover it, I left
it there. Mr. Goodrich has the bag."
"Oh, I don't want to, see it," he exclaimed angrily. "And I tell
you anyway, Mr. Burroughs, that bag is worthless as a clue. Take
my advice, and pay no further attention to it."
I couldn't understand Mr. Crawford's decided attitude against the
bag as a clue, but I dropped the subject, for I didn't wish to
tell him I had made plans to trace up that visiting card.
"It is difficult to find anything that is a real clue," I said.
"Yes, indeed. The whole affair is mysterious, and, for my part,
I cannot form even a conjecture as to who the villain might have
been. He certainly left no trace."
"Where is the revolver?" I said, picturing the scene in
Philip Crawford started as if caught unawares.
"How do I know?" he cried, almost angrily. "I tell you, I have
no suspicions. I wish I had! I desire, above all things, to
bring my brother's murderer to justice. But I don't know where
to look. If the weapon were not missing, I should think it a
"The doctor declares it could not have been suicide, even if the
weapon had been found near him. This they learned from the
position of his arms and head."
"Yes, yes; I know it. It was, without doubt, murder. But who -
who would have a motive?"
"They say," I observed, "motives for murder are usually love,
revenge, or money."
"There is no question of love or revenge in this instance. And
as for money, as I am the one who has profited financially,
suspicion should rest on me."
"Absurd!" I said.
"Yes, it is absurd," he went on, "for had I desired Joseph's
fortune, I need not have killed him to acquire it. He told me
the day before he died that he intended to disinherit Florence,
and make me his heir, unless she broke with that secretary of
his. I tried to dissuade him from this step, for we are not a
mercenary lot, we Crawfords, and I thought I had made him
reconsider his decision. Now, as it turns out, he persisted in
his resolve, and was only prevented from carrying it out by this
midnight assassin. We must find that villain, Mr. Burroughs! Do
not consider expense; do anything you can to track him down."
"Then, Mr. Crawford," said I, "if you do not mind the outlay, I
advise that we send for Fleming Stone. He is a detective of
extraordinary powers, and I am quite willing to surrender the
case to him."
Philip Crawford eyed me keenly.
"You give up easily, young man," he said banteringly.
"I know it seems so," I replied, "but I have my reasons. One is,
that Fleming Stone makes important deductions from seemingly
unimportant clues; and he holds that unless these clues are
followed immediately, they are lost sight of and great
opportunities are gone."
"H'm," mused Philip Crawford, stroking his strong, square chin.
"I don't care much for these spectacular detectives. Your man, I
suppose, would glance at the gold bag, and at once announce the
age, sex, and previous condition of servitude of its owner."
"Just what I have thought, Mr. Crawford. I'm sure he could do
"And that's all the good it would do! That bag doesn't belong to
"How do you know?"
"By common-sense. No woman came to the house in the dead of
night and shot my brother, and then departed, taking her revolver
with her. And again, granting a woman did have nerve and
strength enough to do that, such a woman is not going off leaving
her gold bag behind her as evidence!"
This speech didn't affect me much. It was pure conjecture.
Women are uncertain creatures, at best; and a woman capable of
murder would be equally capable of losing her head afterward, and
leaving circumstantial evidence behind her.
I was sorry Mr. Crawford didn't seem to take to the notion of
sending for Stone. I wasn't weakening in the case so far as my
confidence in my own ability was concerned; but I could see no
direction to look except toward Florence Lloyd or Gregory Hall,
or both. And so I was ready to give up.
"What do you think of Gregory Hall?" I said suddenly.
"As a man or as a suspect?" inquired Mr. Crawford.
"Well, as a man, I think he's about the average, ordinary young
American, of the secretary type. He has little real ambition,
but he has had a good berth with Joseph, and he has worked fairly
hard to keep it. As a suspect, the notion is absurd. He wasn't
even in West Sedgwick."
"How do you know?"
"Because he went away at six that evening, and was in New York
until nearly noon the next day."
"How do you know?"
Philip Crawford stared at me.
"He says so," I went on; "but no one can prove his statement. He
refuses to say where he was in New York, or what he did. Now,
merely as a supposition, why couldn't he have come out here - say
on the midnight train - called on Mr. Joseph Crawford, and
returned to New York before daylight?"
"Absurd! Why, he had no motive for killing Joseph."
"He had the same motive Florence would have. He knew of Mr.
Crawford's objection to their union, and he knew of his threat to
change his will. Mr. Hall is not blind to the advantages of a
"Right you are, there! In fact, I always felt he was marrying
Florence for her money. I had no real reason to think this, but
somehow he gave me that impression."
"Me, too. Moreover, I found a late extra of a New York paper in
Mr. Crawford's office. This wasn't on sale until about half past
eleven that night, so whoever left it there must have come out
from the city on that midnight train, or later."
A change came over Philip Crawford's face. Apparently he was
brought to see the whole matter in a new light.
"What? What's that?" he cried excitedly, grasping his chair-arms
and half rising. " A late newspaper! An extra!"
"Yes; the liner accident, you know."
"But - but - Gregory Hall! Why man, you're crazy! Hall is a
good fellow. Not remarkably clever, perhaps, and a
fortune-hunter, maybe, but not - surely not a murderer!"
"Don't take it so hard, Mr. Crawford," I broke in. "Probably.
Mr. Hall is innocent. But the late paper must have been left
there by some one, after, say, one o'clock."
"This is awful! This is terrible!" groaned the poor man, and I
couldn't help wondering if he had some other evidence against
Hall that this seemed to corroborate.
Then, by an effort, he recovered himself, and began to talk in
more normal tones.
"Now, don't let this new idea run away with you, Mr. Burroughs,"
he said. "If Hall had an interview with my brother that night,
he would have learned from him that he intended to make a new
will, but hadn't yet done so."
"Exactly; and that would constitute a motive for putting Mr.
Crawford out of the way before he could accomplish his purpose."
"But Joseph had already destroyed the will that favored
"We don't know that," I responded gravely. "And, anyway, if he
had done so, Mr. Hall didn't know it. This leaves his motive
"But the gold bag," said Mr. Crawford, apparently to get away -
from the subject of Gregory Hall.
"If, as you say," I began, "that is Florence's bag - "
I couldn't go on. A strange sense of duty had forced those words
from me, but I could say no more.
Fleming Stone might take the case if they wanted him to; or they
might get some one else. But I could not go on, when the only
clues discoverable pointed in a way I dared not look.
Philip Crawford was ghastly now. His face was working and he
"Nonsense, Dad!" cried a strong, young voice, and his son,
Philip, Jr., bounded into the room and grasped his father's
hands. "I overheard a few of your last words, and you two are on
the wrong track. Florrie's no more mixed up in that horrible
business than I am. Neither is Hall. He's a fool chap, but no
villain. I heard what you said about the late newspaper, but
lots of people come out on that midnight train. You may as well
suspect some peaceable citizen coming home from the theatre, as
to pick out poor Hall, without a scrap of evidence to point to
I was relieved beyond all words at the hearty assurance of the
boy, and I plucked up new courage. Apprehension had made me
faint-hearted, but if he could show such flawless confidence in
Florence and her betrothed, surely I could do as much.
"Good for you, young man!" I cried, shaking his hand. "You've
cheered me up a lot. I'll take a fresh start, and surely we'll
find out something. But I'd like to send for Stone."
"Wait a bit, wait a bit," said Mr. Crawford. "Phil's right;
there's no possibility of Florrie or Hall in the matter. Leave
the gold bag, the newspapers, and the yellow posies out of
consideration, and go to work in some sensible way."
"How about Mr. Joseph's finances?" I asked. "Are they in
"Never finer," said Philip Crawford. "Joseph was a very rich
man, and all due to his own clever and careful investments. A
bit of a speculator, but always on the right side of the market.
Why, he fairly had a corner in X.Y. stock. Just that deal - and
it will go through in a few days - means a fortune in itself. I
shall settle that on Florence."
"Then you think the will will never be found?" I said.
Mr. Crawford looked a little ashamed, as well he might, but he
"If it is, no one will be more glad than I to see Florrie
reinstated in her own right. If no will turns up, Joe's estate
is legally mine, but I shall see that Florence is amply provided
He spoke with a proud dignity, and I was rather sorry I had
caught him up so sharply.
I went back to the inn, and, after vainly racking my brain over
it all for a time, I turned in, but to a miserably broken night's
A CALL ON Mrs. PURVIS
The next morning I received information from headquarters. It
was a long-code telegram, and I eagerly deciphered it, to learn
that Mrs. Egerton Purvis was an English lady who was spending a
few months in New York City. She was staying at the Albion
Hotel, and seemed to be in every way above suspicion of any sort.
Of course I started off at once to see Mrs. Purvis.
Parmalee came just as I was leaving the inn, and was of course
anxious and inquisitive to know where I was going, and what I was
going to do.
At first I thought I would take him into my confidence, and I
even thought of taking him with me. But I felt sure I could do
better work alone. It might be that Mrs. Egerton Purvis should
turn out to be an important factor in the case, and I suppose it
was really an instinct of vanity that made me prefer to look her
up without Parmalee by my side.
So I told him that I was going to New York on a matter in
connection with the case, but that I preferred to go alone, but I
would tell him the entire result of my mission as soon as I
returned. I think he was a little disappointed, but he was a
good-natured chap, and bade me a cheerful goodby, saying he would
meet me on my return.
I went to New York and went straight to the Albion Hotel.
Learning at the desk that the lady was really there, I sent my
card up to her with a request for an immediate audience, and very
soon I was summoned to her apartment.
She greeted me with that air of frigid reserve typical of an
English woman. Though not unattractive to look at, she possessed
the high cheekbones and prominent teeth which are almost
universal in the women of her nation. She was perhaps between
thirty and forty years old, and had the air of a grande dame.
"Mr. Burroughs?" she said, looking through her lorgnon at my
card, which she held in her hand.
"Yes," I assented, and judging from her appearance that she was a
woman of a decided and straightforward nature I came at once to
"I'm a detective, madam," I began, and the remark startled her
out of her calm.
"A detective!" she cried out, with much the same tone as if I had
said a rattlesnake.
"Do not be alarmed, I merely state my profession to explain my
"Not be alarmed! when a detective comes to see me! How can I
help it? Why, I've never had such an experience before. It is
shocking! I've met many queer people in the States, but not a
detective! Reporters are bad enough!"
"Don't let it disturb you so, Mrs. Purvis. I assure you there is
nothing to trouble you in the fact of my presence here, unless it
is trouble of your own making."
"Trouble of my own making!" she almost shrieked. " Tell me at
once what you mean, or I shall ring the bell and have you
Her fear and excitement made me think that perhaps I was on the
track of new developments, and lest she should carry out her
threat of ringing the bell, I plunged at once into the subject.
"Mrs. Purvis, have you lost a gold-mesh bag?" I said bluntly.
"No, I haven't," she snapped, "and if I had, I should take means
to recover it, and not wait for a detective to come and ask me
I was terribly disappointed. To be sure she might be telling a
falsehood about the bag, but I didn't think so. She was angry,
annoyed, and a little frightened at my intrusion, but she was not
at all embarrassed at my question.
"Are you quite sure you have not lost a gold-link bag?" I
insisted, as if in idiotic endeavor to persuade her to have done
"Of course I'm sure," she replied, half laughing now; "I suppose
I should know it if I had done so."
"It's a rather valuable bag," I went on, "with a gold frame-work
and gold chain."
"Well, if it's worth a whole fortune, it isn't my bag," she
declared; "for I never owned such a one."
"Well," I said, in desperation, "your visiting card is in it."
"My visiting card!" she said, with an expression of blank
wonderment. "Well, even if that is true, it doesn't make it my
bag. I frequently give my cards to other people."
This seemed to promise light at last. Somehow I couldn't doubt
her assertion that it was not her bag, and yet the thought
suddenly occurred to me if she were clever enough to be
implicated in the Crawford tragedy, and if she had left her bag
there, she would be expecting this inquiry, and would probably be
clever enough to have a story prepared.
"Mrs. Purvis, since you say it is not your bag, I'm going to ask
you, in the interests of justice, to help me all you can."
"I'm quite willing to do so, sir. What is it you wish to know?"
"A crime has been committed in a small town in New Jersey. A
gold-link bag was afterward discovered at the scene of the crime,
and though none of its other contents betokened its owner, a
visiting card with your name on it was in the bag."
Becoming interested in the story, Mrs. Purvis seemed to get over
her fright, and was exceedingly sensible for a woman.
"It certainly is not my bag, Mr. Burroughs, and if my card is in
it, I can only say that I must have given that card to the lady
who owns the bag."
This seemed distinctly plausible, and also promised further
"Do you remember giving your card to any lady with such a bag?"
Mrs. Purvis smiled. "So many of your American women carry those
bags," she said; "they seem to be almost universal this year. I
have probably given my card to a score of ladies, who immediately
put it into just such a bag."
"Could you tell me who they are?"
"No, indeed;" and Mrs. Purvis almost laughed outright, at what
was doubtless a foolish question.
"But can't you help me in any way?" I pleaded.
"I don't really see how I can," she replied. "You see I have so
many friends in New York, and they make little parties for me, or
afternoon teas. Then I meet a great many American ladies, and we
often exchange cards. But we do it so often that of course I
can't remember every particular instance. Have you the card you
I thanked my stars that I had been thoughtful enough to obtain
the card before leaving West Sedgwick, and taking it from my
pocket-book, I gave it to her.
"Oh, that one !" she said; "perhaps I can help you a little, Mr.
Burroughs. That is an old-fashioned card, one of a few left over
from an old lot. I have been using them only lately, because my
others gave out. I have really gone much more into society in
New York than I had anticipated, and my cards seemed fairly to
melt away. I ordered some new ones here, but before they were
sent to me I was obliged to use a few of these old-fashioned
ones. I don't know that this would help you, but I think I can
tell pretty nearly to whom I gave those cards."
It seemed a precarious sort of a chance, but as I talked with
Mrs. Purvis, I felt more and more positive that she herself was
not implicated in the Crawford case. However, it was just as
well to make certain. She had gone to her writing-desk, and
seemed to be looking over a diary or engagement book.
"Mrs. Purvis," I said, "will you tell me where you were on
Tuesday evening of last week?"
"Certainly;" and she turned back the leaves of the book. "I went
to a theatre party with my friends, the Hepworths; and afterward,
we went to a little supper at a restaurant. I returned here
about midnight. Must I prove this?" she added, smiling; "for I
can probably do so, by the hotel clerk and by my maid. And, of
course, by my friends who gave the party."
"No, you needn't prove it," I answered, certain now that she knew
nothing of the Crawford matter; "but I hope you can give me more
information about your card."
"Why, I remember that very night, I gave my cards to two ladies
who were at the theatre with us; and I remember now that at that
time I had only these old-fashioned cards. I was rather ashamed
of them, for Americans are punctilious in such matters; and now
that I think of it, one of the ladies was carrying a gold-mesh
"Who was she?" I asked, hardly daring to hope that I had really
struck the trail.
"I can't seem to remember her name, but perhaps it will come to
me. It was rather an English type of name, something like
"Where did she live?"
"I haven't the slightest idea. You see I meet these ladies so
casually, and I really never expect to see any of them again.
Our exchange of cards is a mere bit of formal courtesy. No, I
can't remember her name, or where she was from. But I don't
think she was a New Yorker."
Truly it was hard to come so near getting what might be vital
information, and yet have it beyond my grasp! It was quite
evident that Mrs. Purvis was honestly trying to remember the
lady's name, but could not do so.
And then I had what seemed to me an inspiration. "Didn't she
give you her card?" I asked.
A light broke over Mrs. Purvis's face. "Why, yes, of course she
did! And I'm sure I can find it."
She turned to a card-tray, and rapidly running over the bits of
pasteboard, she selected three or four.
"Here they are," she exclaimed, "all here together. I mean all
the cards that were given me on that particular evening. And
here is the name I couldn't think of. It is Mrs. Cunningham. I
remember distinctly that she carried a gold bag, and no one else
in the party did, for we were admiring it. And here is her
address on the card; Marathon Park, New Jersey."
I almost fainted, myself, with the suddenness of the discovery.
Had I really found the name and address of the owner of the gold
bag? Of course there might be a slip yet, but the evidence
seemed clear that Mrs. Cunningham, of Marathon Park, owned the
bag that had been the subject of so much speculation
I had no idea where Marathon Park might be, but that was a mere
detail. I thanked Mrs. Purvis sincerely for the help she had
given me, and I was glad I had not told her that her casual
acquaintance was perhaps implicated in a murder mystery.
I made my adieux and returned at once to West Sedgwick.
As he had promised, Parmalee met me at the station, and I told
him the whole story, for I thought him entitled to the
information at once.
"Why, man alive!" he exclaimed, "Marathon Park is the very next
station to West Sedgwick!"
"So it is!" I said; "I knew I had a hazy idea of having seen the
name, but the trains I have taken to and from New York have been
expresses, which didn't stop there, and I paid no attention to
"It's a small park," went on Parmalee, "of swagger residences;
very exclusive and reserved, you know. You've certainly
unearthed startling news, but I can't help thinking that it will
be a wild goose chase that leads us to look for our criminal in
"What do you think we'd better do?" said I. "Go to see Mrs.
"No, I wouldn't do that," said Parmalee, who had a sort of
plebeian hesitancy at the thought of intruding upon aristocratic
strangers. "Suppose you write her a letter and just ask her if
she has lost her bag."
"All right," I conceded, for truth to tell, I greatly preferred
to stay in West Sedgwick than to go out of it, for I had always
the undefined hope of seeing Florence Lloyd.
So I wrote a letter, not exactly curt, but strictly formal,
asking Mrs. Cunningham if she had recently lost a gold-mesh bag,
containing her gloves and handkerchief.
Then Parmalee and I agreed to keep the matter a secret until we
should get a reply to this, for we concluded there was no use in
stirring up public curiosity on the matter until we knew
ourselves that we were on the right trail.
THE OWNER OF THE GOLD BAG
The next day I received a letter addressed in modish, angular
penmanship, which, before I opened it, I felt sure had come from
Mrs. Cunningham. It ran as follows
Mr. HERBERT Burroughs
Dear Sir: Yes, I have lost a gold bag, and I have known all along
that it is the one the newspapers are talking so much about in
connection with the Crawford case. I know, too, that you are the
detective on the case, and though I can't imagine how you did it,
I think it was awfully clever of you to trace the bag to me, for
I'm sure my name wasn't in it anywhere. As I say, the bag is
mine, but I didn't kill Mr. Crawford, and I don't know who did.
I would go straight to you, and tell you all about it, but I am
afraid of detectives and lawyers, and I don't want to be mixed up
in the affair anyway. But I am going to see Miss Lloyd, and
explain it all to her, and then she can tell you. Please don't
let my name get in the papers, as I hate that sort of prominence.
Very truly yours,
I smiled a little over the femininity of the letter, but as
Parmalee had prophesied, Marathon Park was evidently no place to
look for our criminal.
The foolish little woman who had written that letter, had no
guilty secret on her conscience, of that I was sure.
I telephoned for Parmalee and showed him the letter.
"It doesn't help us in one way," he said, "for of course, Mrs.
Cunningham is not implicated. But the bag is still a clue, for
how did it get into Mr. Crawford's office?"
"We must find out who Mr. Cunningham is," I suggested.
"He's not the criminal, either. If he had left his wife's bag
there, he never would have let her send this letter."
"Perhaps he didn't know she wrote it."
"Oh, perhaps lots of things! But I am anxious to learn what Mrs.
Cunningham tells Miss Lloyd."
"Let us go over to the Crawford house, and tell Miss Lloyd about
"Not this morning; I've another engagement. And besides, the
little lady won't get around so soon."
"Why a little lady?" I asked, smiling.
"Oh, the whole tone of the letter seems to imply a little
yellow-haired butterfly of a woman."
"Just the reverse of Florence Lloyd," I said musingly.
"Yes; no one could imagine Miss Lloyd writing a letter like that.
There's lots of personality in a woman's letter. Much more than
in a man's."
Parmalee went away, and prompted by his suggestions, I studied
the letter I had just received. It was merely an idle fancy, for
if Mrs. Cunningham was going to tell Miss Lloyd her story, it
made little difference to me what might be her stature or the
color of her hair. But, probably because of Parmalee's
suggestion, I pictured her to myself as a pretty young woman with
that air of half innocence and half ignorance which so well
becomes the plump blonde type.
The broad veranda of the Sedgwick Arms was a pleasant place to
sit, and I had mused there for some time, when Mr. Carstairs came
out to tell me that I was asked for on the telephone. The call
proved to be from Florence Lloyd asking me to come to her at
Only too glad to obey this summons, I went directly to the
Crawford house, wondering if any new evidence had been brought to
Lambert opened the door for me, and ushered me into the library,
where Florence was receiving a lady caller.
"Mrs. Cunningham," said Florence, as I entered, "may I present
Mr. Burroughs - Mr. Herbert Burroughs. I sent for you," she
added, turning to me, "because Mrs. Cunningham has an important
story to tell, and I thought you ought to hear it at once."
I bowed politely to the stranger, and awaited her disclosures.
Mrs. Cunningham was a pretty, frivolous-looking woman, with
appealing blue eyes, and a manner half-childish, half-apologetic.
I smiled involuntarily to see how nearly her appearance coincided
with the picture in my mind, and I greeted her almost as if she
were a previous acquaintance.
"I know I've done very wrong," she began, with a nervous little
flutter of her pretty hands; "but I'm ready now to 'fess up, as
the children say."
She looked at me, so sure of an answering smile, that I gave it,
"Let us hear your confession, Mrs. Cunningham; I doubt if it's a
very dreadful one."
"Well, you see," she went on, "that gold bag is mine."
"Yes," I said; "how did it get here?"
"I've no idea," she replied, and I could see that her shallow
nature fairly exulted in the sensation she was creating. "I went
to New York that night, to the theatre, and I carried my gold
bag, and I left it in the train when I got out at the station."
"West Sedgwick?" I asked.
"No; I live at Marathon Park, the next station to this."
"Next on the way to New York?"
"Yes. And when I got out of the train - I was with my husband
and some other people - we had been to a little theatre party - I
missed the bag. But I didn't tell Jack, because I knew he'd
scold me for being so careless. I thought I'd get it back from
the Lost and Found Department, and then, the very next day, I
read in the paper about the - the - awful accident, and it told
about a gold bag being found here."
"You recognized it as yours?"
"Of course; for the paper described everything in it - even to
the cleaner's advertisement that I'd just cut out that very day."
"Why didn't you come and claim it at once?"
"Oh, Mr. Burroughs, you must know why I didn't! Why, I was
scared 'most to death to read the accounts of the terrible
affair; and to mix in it, myself - ugh! I couldn't dream of
anything so horrible."
It was absurd, but I had a desire to shake the silly little
bundle of femininity who told this really important story, with
the twitters and simpers of a silly school-girl.
"And you would not have come, if I had not written you?"
She hesitated. "I think I should have come soon, even without
"Why, Mrs. Cunningham?"
"Well, I kept it secret as long as I could, but yesterday Jack
saw that I had something on my mind. I couldn't fool him any
"As to your having a mind!" I said to myself, but I made no
"So I told him all about it, and he said I must come at once and
tell Miss Lloyd, because, you see, they thought it was her bag
all the time."
"Yes," I said gravely; "it would have been better if you had come
at first, with your story. Have you any one to substantiate it,
or any proofs that it is the truth?"
The blue eyes regarded me with an injured expression. Then she
"Oh, yes, I can `prove property'; that's what you mean, isn't it?
I can tell you which glove finger is ripped, and just how much
money is in the bag, and - and here's a handkerchief exactly like
the one I carried that night. Jack said if I told you all these
things, you'd know it's my bag, and not Miss Lloyd's."
"And then, there was a card in it."
"A card? My card?"
"No, not your card; a card with another name on it. Don't you
Mrs. Cunningham thought for a moment. Then, "Oh, yes!" she
exclaimed. "Mrs. Purvis gave me her card, and I tucked it in the
pocket of the bag. Was that the way you discovered the bag was
mine? And how did that make you know it."
"I'll tell you about that some other time if you wish, Mrs.
Cunningham; but just now I want to get at the important part of
your story. How did your gold bag get in Mr. Crawford's office?"
"Ah, how did it?" The laughing face was sober now and she seemed
appalled at the question. "Jack says some one must have found it
in the car-seat where I left it, and he" - she lowered her voice
- "he must be the - "
"The murderer," I supplied calmly. "It does look that way. You
have witnesses, I suppose, who saw you in that train?"
"Mercy, yes! Lots of them. The train reaches Marathon Park at
12: 50, and is due here at one o'clock. Ever so many people got
out at our station. There were six in our own party, and others
besides. And the conductor knows me, and everybody knows Jack.
He's Mr. John Le Roy Cunningham."
It was impossible to doubt all this. Further corroboration it
might be well to get, but there was not the slightest question in
my mind as to the little lady's truthfulness.
"I thank you, Mrs. Cunningham," I said, "for coming to us with
your story. You may not be able to get your bag to-day, but I
assure you it will, be sent to you as soon as a few inquiries can
be made. These are merely for the sake of formalities, for, as
you say, your fellow townspeople can certify to your presence on
the train, and your leaving it at the Marathon Park station."
"Yes," she replied; "and" - she handed me a paper - "there's my
husband's address, and his lawyer's address, and the addresses of
all the people that were in our party that night. Jack said you
might like to have the list. He would have come himself to-day,
only he's fearfully busy. And I said I didn't mind coming alone,
just to see Miss Lloyd. I wouldn't have gone to a jury meeting,
though. And I'm in no hurry for the bag. In fact, I don't care
much if I never get it. It wasn't the value of the thing that
made me come at all, but the fear that my bag might make trouble
for Miss Lloyd. Jack said it might. I don't see how, myself,
but I'm a foolish little thing, with no head for business
matters." She shook her head, and gurgled an absurd little
laugh, and then, after a loquacious leave-taking, she went away.
"Well?" I said to Florence, and then, "Well?" Florence said to
It was astonishing how rapidly our acquaintance had progressed.
Already we had laid aside all formality of speech and manner, and
if the girl had not really discovered my mental attitude toward
her, at least I think she must have suspected it.
"Of course," I began, "I knew it wasn't your bag, because you
said it wasn't. But I did incline a little to the `woman
visitor' theory, and now that is destroyed. I think we must
conclude that the bag was brought here by the person who found it
on that midnight train."
"Why didn't that person turn it over to the conductor?" she said,
more as if thinking to herself than speaking to me.
"Yes, why, indeed?" I echoed. "And if he brought it here, and
committed a criminal act, why go away and leave it here?"
I think it was at the same moment that the minds of both of us
turned to Gregory Hall. Her eyes fell, and as for me, I was
nearly stunned with the thoughts that came rushing to my brain.
If the late newspaper had seemed to point to Hall's coming out on
that late train, how much more so this bag, which had been left
on that very train
We were silent for a time, and then, lifting her sweet eyes
bravely to mine, Florence said
"I have something to tell you."
"Yes," I replied, crushing down the longing to take her in my
arms and let her tell it there.
"Mr. Hall had a talk with me this morning. He says that he and
the others have searched everywhere possible for the will, and it
cannot be found. He says Uncle Joseph must have destroyed it,
and that it is practically settled that Uncle Philip is the legal
heir. Of course, Mr. Philip Crawford isn't my uncle, but I have
always called him that, and Phil and I have been just like
"What else did Mr. Hall say?" I asked, for I divined that the
difficult part of her recital was yet to come.
"He said," she went on, with a rising color, "that he wished me
to break our engagement."
I will do myself the justice to say that although my first
uncontrollable thought was one of pure joy at this revelation,
yet it was instantly followed by sympathy and consideration for
"Why?" I asked in a voice that I tried to keep from being hard.
"He says," she continued, with a note of weariness in her voice,
"that he is not a rich man, and cannot give me the comforts and
luxuries to which I have been accustomed, and that therefore it
is only right for him to release me."
"Of course you didn't accept his generous sacrifice," I said; and
my own hopes ran riot as I listened for her answer.
"I told him I was willing to share poverty with him," she said,
with a quiet dignity, as if telling an impersonal tale, "but he
insisted that the engagement should be broken."
"And is it?" I asked eagerly, almost breathlessly.
She gave me that look which always rebuked me - always put me
back in my place - but which, it seemed to me, was a little less
severe than ever before. "It's left undecided for a day or two,"
she said. Then she added hurriedly
"I must see if he needs me. Do you suppose this story of Mrs.
Cunningham's will in any way - well, affect him?"
"It may," I replied truthfully. "At any rate, he must be made to
tell where he was and what he was doing Tuesday night. You have
no idea, have you?"
Florence hesitated a moment, looked at me in a way I could not
fathom, and then, but only after a little choking sound in her
throat, she said
"No, I have no idea."
It was impossible to believe her. No one would show such
emotion, such difficulty of speech, if telling a simple truth.
Yet when I looked in her troubled eyes, and read there anxiety,
uncertainty, and misery, I only loved her more than ever. Truly
it was time for me to give up this case. Whatever turn it took,
I was no fit person to handle clues or evidence which filled me
with deadly fear lest they turn against the one I loved.
And yet that one, already suspected by many, had been proved to
have both motive and opportunity.
And I, I who loved her, knew that, in one instance, at least, she
had been untruthful.
Yes, it was high time for me to give this case into other hands.
I looked at her again, steadily but with a meaning in my glance
that I hoped she would understand. I wanted her to know, that
though of course justice was my end and aim, yet I was sure the
truth could not implicate her, and if it did implicate Mr. Hall,
the sooner we discovered it the better.
I think she appreciated my meaning, for the troubled look in her
own eyes disappeared, and she seemed suddenly almost willing to
give me her full confidence.
I resolved to make the most of my opportunity.
"Of course you know," I said gently, "that I want to believe all
you say to me. But, Miss Lloyd, your naturally truthful nature
so rebels at your unveracity, that it is only too plain to be
seen when you are not telling the truth. Now, I do not urge you,
but I ask you to tell me, confidentially if you choose, what your
surmise is as to Mr. Hall's strange reticence."
"It is only a surmise," she said, and though the troubled look
came back to her eyes, she looked steadily at me. "And I have no
real reason even to think it, but I can't help feeling that
Gregory is interested in some other woman beside myself."
Again I felt that uncontrollable impulse of satisfaction at this
disclosure, and again I stifled it. I endeavored to treat the
matter lightly. "Is that all?" I asked; "do you mean that
perhaps Mr. Hall was calling on some other lady acquaintance that
"Yes, that is what I do mean. And, as I say, I hare no real
reason to think it. But still, Mr. Burroughs, if it were true, I
cannot agree with you that it is unimportant. Surely a man is
not expected to call on one woman when he is betrothed to
another, or at least, not to make a secret of it."
I thoroughly agreed with her, and my opinion that Hall was a cad
received decided confirmation.
"My treating it as a light matter, Miss Lloyd, was not quite
sincere. Indeed, I may as well confess that it was partly to
cover the too serious interest I take in the matter."
She looked up, startled at this, but as my eyes told her a
certain truth I made no effort to conceal, she looked down again,
and her lip quivered.
I pulled myself together. "Don't think I am taking advantage of
your confidence," I said gently; "I want only to help you.
Please consider me an impersonal factor, and let me do all I can
for you. For the moment, let us suppose your surmise is correct.
This would, of course, free Mr. Hall from any implication of
"Yes, and while I can't suspect him of anything like crime, I
hate, also, to suspect him of disloyalty to me."
Her head went up with a proud gesture, and I suddenly knew that
the thought of Hall's interest in another woman, affected her
pride and her sense of what was due her, far more than it did her
heart. Her fear was not so much that Hall loved another woman,
as that his secrecy in the matter meant a slight to her own
"I understand, Miss Lloyd, and I hope for the sake of all
concerned, your surmise is not correct. But, with your
permission, I feel it my duty to discover where Mr. Hall was that
evening, even if to do this it is necessary to have professional
assistance from headquarters."
She shuddered at this. "It is so horrid," she said, "to spy upon
a gentleman's movements, if he is only engaged in his personal
"If we were, sure of that, we need not spy upon him. But to the
eye of justice there is always the possibility that he was not
about his personal affairs that evening, but was here in West
"You don't really suspect him, do you?" she said; and she looked
at me as if trying to read my very soul.
"I'm afraid I do," I answered gravely; "but not so much from
evidence against him, as because I don't know where else to look.
"No," said Florence Lloyd.
IN Mr. GOODRICH'S OFFICE
As was my duty I went next to the district attorney's office to
tell him about Mrs. Cunningham and the gold bag, and to find out
from him anything I could concerning Gregory Hall. I found Mr.
Porter calling there, and both he and Mr. Goodrich welcomed me as
a possible bringer of fresh news. When I said that I did know of
new developments, Mr. Porter half rose from his chair.
"I dare say I've no business here," he said; "but you know the
deep interest I take in this whole matter. Joseph Crawford was
my lifelong friend and near neighbor, and if I can be in any way
instrumental in freeing Florence from this web of suspicion - "
I turned on him angrily, and interrupted him by saying
"Excuse me, Mr. Porter; no one has as yet voiced a suspicion
against Miss Lloyd. For you to put such a thought into words, is
starting a mine of trouble.".
The older man looked at me indulgently, and I think his shrewd
perceptions told him at once that I was more interested in Miss
Lloyd than a mere detective need be.
"You are right," he said; "but I considered this a confidential
"It is," broke in Mr. Goodrich, "and if you will stay, Mr.
Porter, I shall be glad to have you listen to whatever Mr.
Burroughs has to tell us, and then give us the benefit of your
I practically echoed the district attorney's words, for I knew
Lemuel Porter to be a clear-headed and well-balanced business
man, and his opinions well worth having.
So it was to two very interested hearers that I related first the
story of Florence's coming downstairs at eleven o'clock on the
fatal night, for a final endeavor to gain her uncle's consent to
"Then it was her bag!" exclaimed Mr. Porter. "I thought so all
I said nothing at the moment and listened for Mr. Goodrich's
"To my mind," said the district attorney slowly, "this story,
told now by Miss Lloyd, is in her favor. If the girl were
guilty, or had any guilty knowledge of the crime, she would not
have told of this matter at all. It was not forced from her; she
told it voluntarily, and I, for one, believe it."
"She told it," said I, "because she wished to take the
responsibility of the fallen rose petals upon herself. Since we
are speaking plainly, I may assure you, gentlemen, that she told
of her later visit to the office because I hinted to her that the
yellow leaves might implicate Gregory Hall."
"Then," said Mr. Goodrich triumphantly, "she herself suspects Mr.
Hall, which proves that she is innocent."
"It doesn't prove her innocent of collusion," observed Mr.
"Nor does it prove that she suspects Mr. Hall," I added. "It
merely shows that she fears others may suspect him."
"It is very complicated," said the district attorney.
"It is," I agreed, "and that is why I wish to send for the famous
detective, Fleming Stone."
"Stone! Nonsense!" exclaimed Mr. Goodrich. "I have every
confidence in your skill, Mr. Burroughs; I would not insult you
by calling in another detective."
"Surely not," agreed Mr. Porter. "If you need help, Mr.
Burroughs, confer with our local man, Mr. Parmalee. He's a
pretty clever chap, and I don't know why you two don't work more
"We do work together," said I. "Mr. Parmalee is both clever and
congenial, and we have done our best in the matter. But the days
are going by and little of real importance has been discovered.
However, I haven't told you as yet, the story of the gold bag. I
have found its owner."
Of course there were exclamations of surprise at this, but
realizing its importance they quietly listened to my story.
With scarcely a word of interruption from my hearers, I told them
how I had found the card in the bag, how I had learned about Mrs.
Purvis from headquarters, how I had gone to see her, and how it
had all resulted in Mrs. Cunningham's visit to Miss Lloyd that
"Well!" exclaimed Mr. Porter, as I concluded the narrative.
"Well! Of all things! Well, I am amazed! Why, this gives a
wide scope of possibilities. Scores of our people come out on
that theatre train every night."
"But not scores of people would have a motive for putting Joseph
Crawford out of the way," said Mr. Goodrich, who sat perplexedly
Then, by way of a trump card, I told them of the, "extra "
edition of the evening paper I had found in the office.
The district attorney stared at me, but still sat frowning and
But Mr. Porter expressed his wonderment.
"How it all fits in!" he cried. "The bag, known to be from that
late train; the paper, known to have been bought late in New
York! Burroughs, you're a wonder! Indeed, we don't want any
Fleming Stone, when you can do such clever sleuthing as this."
I stared at him. Nothing I had done seemed to me "clever
sleuthing," nor did my simple discoveries seem to me of any great
"I don't like it," said Mr. Goodrich, at last. "Everything so
far known, both early and late information, seems to me to point
to Gregory Hall and Florence Lloyd in collusion."
"But you said," I interrupted, "that Miss Lloyd's confession that
she did go down-stairs late at night was in her favor."
"I said that before I knew about this bag story. Now I think the
case is altered, and the two who had real motive are undoubtedly
"But they had no motive," said Mr. Porter, "since Florence
doesn't inherit the fortune."
"But they thought she did," explained the district attorney, "and
so the motive was just as strong. Mr. Burroughs, I wish you
would confer with Mr. Parmalee, and both of you set to work on
the suggestions I have advanced. It is a painful outlook, to be
sure, but justice is inexorable. You agree with me, Mr. Porter?"
Mr. Porter started, as if he, too, had been in a brown study.
"I do and I don't," he said. "Personally, I think both those
young people are innocent, but if I am correct, no harm will be
done by a further investigation of their movements on Tuesday
night. I think Mr. Hall ought to tell where he was that night,
if only in self-defense. If he proves he was in New York, and
did not come out here, it will not only clear him, but also
Florence. For I think no one suspects her of anything more than
collusion with him."
Of course I had no mind to tell these men what Florence had told
me confidentially about Mr. Hall's possible occupation Tuesday
evening. They were determined to investigate that very question,
and so, if her surmise were correct, it would disclose itself.
"Very well," I said, after listening to a little further
discussion, which was really nothing but repetition, "then I will
consult with Mr. Parmalee, and we will try to make further
investigation of Mr. Hall's doings. But I'm ready to admit that.
it does not look easy to me to discover anything of importance.
Mr. Hall is a secretive man, and unless we have a definite charge
against him it is difficult to make him talk."
"Well, you can certainly learn something," said Mr. Goodrich.
"At any rate devote a few days to the effort. I have confidence
in you, Mr. Burroughs, and I don't think you need call in a man
whom you consider your superior. But if you'll excuse me for
making a suggestion, let me ask you to remember that a theory of
Hall's guilt also possibly implicates Miss Lloyd. You will
probably discover this for yourself, but don't let your natural
chivalry toward a woman, and perhaps a personal element in this
case, blind you to the facts."
Although he put it delicately, I quite understood that he had
noticed my personal interest in Florence Lloyd, and so, as it was
my duty to disregard that interest in my work, I practically
promised to remember his injunction.
It was then that I admitted to myself the true state of my mind.
I felt sure Florence was innocent, but I knew appearances were
strongly against her, and I feared I should bungle the case
because of the very intensity of my desire not to. And I thought
that Fleming Stone, in spite of evidence, would be able to prove
what I felt was the truth, that
Florence was guiltless of all knowledge of or complicity in her
However, I had promised to go on with the quest, and I urged
myself on, with the hope that further developments might clear
Florence, even if they more deeply implicated Gregory Hall.
I went back to the inn, and spent some time in thinking over the
matter, and methodically recording my conclusions. And, while I
thought, I became more and more convinced that, whether Florence
connived or not, Hall was the villain, and that he had actually
slain his employer because he had threatened to disinherit his
Perhaps when Hall came to the office, late that night, Mr.
Crawford was already engaged in drawing up the new will, and in
order to purloin it Hall had killed him, not knowing that the
other will was already destroyed. And destroyed it must be, for
surely Hall had no reason to steal or suppress the will that
As a next move, I decided to interview Mr. Hall.
Such talks as I had had with him so far, had been interrupted and
unsatisfactory. Now I would see him alone, and learn something
from his manner and appearance.
I found him, as I had expected, in the office of his late
employer. He was surrounded with papers, and was evidently very
busy, but he greeted me with a fair show of cordiality, and
offered me a chair.
"I want to talk to you plainly, Mr. Hall," I said, "and as I see
you're busy, I will be as brief as possible."
"I've been expecting you," said he calmly. "In fact, I'm rather
surprised that you haven't been here before."
"Why?" said I, eying him closely.
"Only because the inquiries made at the inquest amounted to very
little, and I assumed you would question all the members of the
"I'm not sure that's necessary," I responded, following his
example in adopting a light, casual tone. "I have no reason to
suspect that the servants told other than the exact truth. I
have talked to both the ladies, and now I've only a few questions
to put to you."
He looked up, surprised at my self-satisfied air.
"Have you nailed the criminal?" he asked, with a greater show of
interest than he had before evinced.
"Not exactly nailed him, perhaps. But we fancy we are on the
"Resent what?" he asked, looking blank.
"I didn't say `resent.' I said, we are on the scent."
"Oh, yes. And in what direction does it lead you?"
"In your direction," I said, willing to try what effect bluntness
might have upon this composed young man.
"I beg your pardon?" he said, as if he hadn't heard me.
"Evidences are painting toward you as the criminal," I said,
determined to disturb his composure if I could.
Instead of showing surprise or anger, he gave a slight smile, as
one would at an idea too ridiculous to be entertained for an
instant. Somehow, that smile was more convincing to me than any
verbal protestation could have been.
Then I realized that the man was doubtless a consummate actor,
and he had carefully weighed the value of that supercilious smile
against asseverations of innocence. So I went on:
"When did you first learn of the accident to the Atlantic liner,
the North America?"
"I suppose you mean that question for a trap," he said coolly;
"but I haven't the least objection to answering it. I bought a
late 'extra' in New York City the night of the disaster."
"At what hour did you buy it?"
"I don't know exactly. It was some time after midnight."
Really, there was little use in questioning this man. If he had
bought his paper at half-past eleven, as I felt positive he did,
and if he had come out to Sedgwick on the twelve o'clock train,
he was quite capable of answering me in this casual way, to throw
me off the track.
Well, I would try once again.
"Excuse me, Mr. Hall, but I am obliged to ask you some personal
questions now. Are you engaged to Miss Lloyd?"
"I beg your pardon?"
His continued requests for me to repeat my questions irritated me
beyond endurance. Of course it was a bluff to gain time, but he
did it so politely, I couldn't rebuke him.
"Are you engaged to Miss Lloyd?" I repeated.
"No, I think not," he said slowly. "She wants to break it off,
and I, as a poor man, should not stand in the way of her making a
brilliant marriage. She has many opportunities for such, as her
uncle often told me, and I should be selfish indeed, now that she
herself is poor, to hold her to her promise to me."
The hypocrite! To lay on Florence the responsibility for
breaking the engagement. Truly, she was well rid of him, and I
hoped I could convince her of the fact.
"But she is not so poor," I said. "Mr. Philip Crawford told me
he intends to provide for her amply. And I'm sure that means a
fair-sized fortune, for the Crawfords are generous people."
Gregory Hall's manner changed.
"Did Philip Crawford say that?" he cried. "Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure, as he said it to me."
"Then Florence and I may be happy yet," he said; and as I looked
him straight in the eye, he had the grace to look ashamed of
himself, and, with a rising color, he continued: "I hope you
understand me, Mr. Burroughs. No man could ask a girl to marry
him if he knew that meant condemning her to comparative poverty."
"No, of course not," said I sarcastically. "Then I assume that,
so far as you are concerned, your engagement with Miss Lloyd is
"By no means. In fact, I could not desert her just now, when
there is a - well, a sort of a cloud over her."
"What do you mean?" I thundered. "There is no cloud over her."
"Well, you know, the gold bag and the yellow rose leaves "
"Be silent! The gold bag has been claimed by its owner. But you
are responsible for its presence in this room! You, who brought
it from the midnight train, and left it here! You, who also left
the late city newspaper here! You, who also dropped two yellow
petals from the rose in your buttonhole
Gregory Hall seemed to turn to stone as he listened to my words.
He became white, then ashen gray. His hands clinched his
chair-arms, and his eyes grew glassy and fixed.
I pushed home my advantage. "And therefore, traced by these
undeniable evidences, I know that you are the slayer of Joseph
Crawford. You killed your friend, your benefactor, your
employer, in order that he might not disinherit the girl whose
fortune you wish to acquire by marrying her!"
Though I had spoken in low tones, my own intense emotion made my
words emphatic, and as I finished I was perhaps the more excited
of the two.
For Hall's composure had returned; his face resumed its natural
color; his eyes their normal expression-that of cold
"Mr. Burroughs," he said quietly, "you must be insane."
"That is no answer to my accusations," I stormed. "I tell you of
the most conclusive evidence against yourself, and instead of any
attempt to refute it you mildly remark, `you are insane.' It is
you who are insane, Mr. Hall, if you think you can escape arrest
and trial for the murder of Joseph Crawford."
"Oh, I think I can," was his only answer, with that maddening
little smile of his.
"Then where were you on Tuesday night?"
"Where were you on Tuesday night?"
"That I refuse to tell - as I have refused before, and shall
"Because you were here, and because you have too much wisdom to
try to prove a false alibi."
He looked at me half admiringly, "You are right in that," he
said. "It is extremely foolish for any one to fake an alibi, and
I certainly never should try to do so."
"That's how I know you were here," I replied triumphantly.
"You do, do you? Well, Mr. Burroughs, I don't pretend to
misunderstand you - for Miss Lloyd has told me all about Mrs.
Cunningham and her bag that she left in the train. But I will
say this if you think I came out on that midnight train, go and
ask the conductor. He knows me, and as I often do come out on
that train, he may remember that I was not on it that night. And
while you're about it, and since you consider that late newspaper
a clue, also ask him who was on the train that might have come
If this was bluffing, it was a very clever bluff, and
magnificently carried out. Probably his hope was that the
conductor could not say definitely as to Hall's presence on the
late train, and any other names he might mention would only
But before I left I made one more attempt to get at this man's
"Mr. Hall," I began, "I am not unfriendly. In fact, for Miss
Lloyd's sake as well as your own, I should like to remove every
shadow of suspicion that hovers near either or both of you."
"I know that," he said quickly. "Don't think I can't see through
your `friendliness ' to Miss Lloyd! But be careful there, Mr.
Burroughs. A man does 'not allow too many `friendly' glances
toward the girl he is engaged to."
So he had discovered my secret! Well, perhaps it was a good
thing. Now I could fight for Florence more openly if necessary.
"You are right, Mr. Hall," I went on. "I hold Miss Lloyd in very
high esteem, and I assure you, as man to man, that so long as you
and she are betrothed, neither of you will have cause to look on
me as other than a detective earnest in his work in your behalf."
"Thank you," said Hall, a little taken aback by my frankness.
I went away soon after that, and without quizzing him any
further, for, though I still suspected him, I realized that he
would never say anything to incriminate himself.
The theory that the criminal was some one who came in on that
midnight train was plausible indeed; but what a scope it offered!
Why, a total stranger to Sedgwick might have come and gone,
entirely unobserved, in the crowd.
It was with little hope, therefore, that I arranged for an
interview with the conductor of the train.
He lived in Hunterton, a few stations from West Sedgwick, and,
after ascertaining by telephone that he could see me the next
day, I went to his house.
"Well, no," he replied, after thinking over my query a bit; "I
don't think Mr. Hall came out from New York that night. I'm
'most sure he didn't, because he usually gives me his newspaper
as he steps off the train, and I didn't get any `extra' that
Of course this wasn't positive proof that Hall wasn't there, so I
asked ham to tell me all the West Sedgwick people that he did
remember as being on his train that night.
He mentioned a dozen or more, but they were nearly all names
unknown to me.
"Do you remember the Cunninghams being on the train?" I asked.
"Those Marathon Park people? Oh, yes. They were a gay party, -
coming back from a theatre supper, I suppose. And that reminds
me: Philip Crawford sat right behind the Cunninghams. I forgot
him before. Well, I guess that's all the West Sedgwick people I
I went away not much the wiser, but with a growing thought that
buzzed in my brain.
It was absurd, of course. But he had said Philip Crawford had
sat right behind Mrs. Cunningham. How, then, could he help
seeing the gold bag she left behind, when she got out at the
station just before West Sedgwick? Indeed, who else could have
seen it but the man in the seat directly behind? Even if some
one else had picked it up and carried it from the car, Mr.
Crawford must have seen it.
Moreover, why hadn't he said he was on that train? Why conceal
such a simple matter? Again, who had profited by the whole
affair? And why had Gregory Hall said: "Ask the conductor who
did get off that train?"
The rose petals were already explained by Florence. If, then,
Philip Crawford had, much later, come to his brother's with the
gold bag and the late newspaper, and had gone away and left them
there, and had never told of all this, was there not a new
direction in which to look?
But Philip Crawford! The dead man's own brother!
THE MIDNIGHT TRAIN
The enormity of suspecting Philip Crawford was so great, to my
mind, that I went at once to the district attorney's office for
consultation with him.
Mr. Goodrich listened to what I had to say, and then, when I
waited for comment, said quietly:
"Do you know, Mr. Burroughs, I have thought all along that Philip
Crawford was concealing something, but I didn't think, and don't
think now, that he has any guilty secret of his own. I rather
fancied he might know something that, if told, would be
detrimental to Miss Lloyd's cause."
"It may be so," I returned, "but I can't see how that would make
him conceal the fact of his having been on that late train
Tuesday night. Why, I discussed with him the possibility of
Hall's coming out on it, and it would have been only natural to
say he was on it, and didn't see Hall."
"Unless he did see him," remarked the district attorney.
"Yes; there's that possibility. He may be shielding Hall for
Miss Lloyd's sake - and - "
"Let's go to see him," suggested Mr. Goodrich. "I believe in the
immediate following up of any idea we may have."
It was about five in the afternoon, an hour when we were likely
to find Mr. Crawford at home, so we started off at once, and on
reaching his house we were told that Mr. Randolph was with him in
the library, but that he would see us. So to the library we
went, and found Mr. Crawford and his lawyer hard at work on the
papers of the Joseph Crawford estate.
Perhaps it was imagination, but I thought I detected a look of
apprehension on Philip Crawford's face, as we entered, but he
greeted us in his pleasant, simple way, and asked us to be
"To come right to the point, Mr. Crawford," said the district
attorney, " Mr. Burroughs and I are still searching for new light
on the tragedy of your brother's death. And now Mr. Burroughs
wants to put a few questions to you, which may help him in his
Philip Crawford looked straight at me with his piercing eyes, and
it seemed to me that he straightened himself, as for an expected
"Yes, Mr. Burroughs," he said courteously. "What is it you want
So plain and straightforward was his manner, that I decided to be
"Did you come out in that midnight train from New York last
Tuesday night?" I began.
"I did," he replied, in even tones.
"While on the train did you sit behind a lady who left a gold bag
in the seat when she got out?"
"Did you pick up that bag and take it away with you?"
"Then, Mr. Crawford, as that is the gold bag that was found in
your brother's office, I think you owe a more detailed
To say that the lawyer and the district attorney, who heard these
questions and answers, were astounded, is putting it too mildly.
They were almost paralyzed with surprise and dismay.
To hear these condemning assertions straight from the lips of the
man they incriminated was startling indeed.
"You are right," said Philip Crawford. "I do owe an explanation,
and I shall give it here and now."
Although what he was going to say was doubtless a confession, Mr.
Crawford's face showed an unmistakable expression of relief. He
seemed like a man who had borne a terrible secret around with him
for the past week, and was now glad that he was about to impart
it to some one else.
He spoke very gravely, but with no faltering or hesitation.
"This is a solemn confession," he said, turning to his lawyer,
"and is made to the district attorney, with yourself and Mr.
Burroughs as witnesses."
Mr. Randolph bowed his head, in acknowledgment of this formal
"I am a criminal in the eyes of the law," said Mr. Crawford, in
an impersonal tone, which I knew he adopted to hide any emotion
he might feel. "I have committed a dastardly crime. But I am
not the murderer of my brother Joseph."
We all felt our hearts lightened of a great load, for it was
impossible to disbelieve that calm statement and the clear gaze
of those truthful, unafraid eyes.
"The story I have to tell will sound as if I might have been my
brother's slayer, and this is why I assert the contrary at the
Pausing here, Mr. Crawford unlocked the drawer of a desk and took
out a small pistol, which he laid on the table.
"That," he said, "is my revolver, and it is the weapon with which
my brother was killed."
I felt a choking sensation. Philip Crawford's manner was so far
removed from a sensational - or melodramatic effect, that it was
doubly impressive. I believed his statement that he did not kill
his brother, but what could these further revelations mean?
Hall? Florence? Young Philip? Whom would Philip Crawford thus
shield for a whole week, and then, when forced to do so, expose?
"You are making strange declarations, Mr. Crawford," Said Lawyer
Randolph, who was already white-faced and trembling.
"I know it," went on Philip Crawford, "and I trust you three men
will hear my story through, and then take such measures as you
"This pistol, as I said, is my property. Perhaps about a month
ago, I took it over to my brother Joseph. He has always been
careless of danger, and as he was in the habit of sitting in his
office until very late, with the long windows open on a dark
veranda, I often told him he ought to keep a weapon in his desk,
by way of general protection. Then, after there had been a
number of burglaries in West Sedgwick, I took this pistol to him,
and begged him as a favor to me to let it stay in his desk drawer
as a precautionary measure. He laughed at my solicitude, but put
it away in a drawer, the upper right-hand one, among his business
papers. So much for the pistol.
"Last Tuesday night I came out from New York on that midnight
train that reaches West Sedgwick station at one o'clock. In the
train I did not notice especially who sat near me, but when I
reached our station and started to leave the car, I noticed a
gold bag in the seat ahead. I picked it up, and, with a half-
formed intention of handing it to the conductor, I left the
train. But as I stepped off I did not see the conductor, and,
though I looked about for him, he did not appear, and the train
moved on. I looked in the station, but the ticket agent was not
visible, and as the hour was so late I slipped the bag into my
pocket, intending to hand it over to the railroad authorities
next morning. In fact, I thought little about it, for I was very
much perturbed over some financial considerations. I had been
reading my newspaper all the way out, from the city. It was an
`extra,' with the account of the steamship accident."
Here Mr. Crawford looked at me, as much as to say, "There's your
precious newspaper clue," but his manner was indicative only of
sadness and grief; he had no cringing air as of a murderer.
"However, I merely skimmed the news about the steamer, so
interested was I in they stock market reports. I needn't now
tell the details, but I knew that Joseph had a `corner' in X.Y.
stock. I was myself a heavy investor in it, and I began to
realize that I must see Joseph at once, and learn his intended
actions for the next day. If he threw his stock on the market,
there would be a drop of perhaps ten points and I should be a
large loser, if, indeed, I were not entirely wiped out. So I
went from the train straight to my brother's home. When I
reached the gate, I saw there was a low light in his office, so I
went round that way, instead of to the front door. As I neared
the veranda, and went up the steps, I drew from my overcoat
pocket the newspaper, and, feeling the gold bag there also, I
drew that out, thinking to show it to Joseph. As I look back
now, I think it occurred to me that the bag might be Florence's;
I had seen her carry one like it. But, as you can readily
understand, I gave no coherent thought to the bag, as my mind was
full of the business matter. The French window was open, and I
Mr. Crawford paused here, but he gave way to no visible emotion.
Ile was like a man with an inexorable duty to perform, and no
wish to stop until it was finished.
But truth was stamped unmistakably in every word and every look.
"Only the desk light was turned on, but that gave light enough
for me to see my brother sitting dead in his chair. I satisfied
myself that he was really dead, and then, in a sort of daze, I
looked about the room. Though I felt benumbed and half
unconscious, physically, my thoughts worked rapidly. On the desk
before him I saw his will."
An irrepressible exclamation from Mr. Randolph was the only sound
that greeted this astonishing statement.
"Yes," and Mr. Crawford took a document from the same drawer
whence he had taken the pistol; "there is Joseph Crawford's will,
leaving all his property to Florence Lloyd."
Mechanically, Mr. Randolph took the paper his client passed to
him, and, after a glance at it, laid it on the table in front of
"That was my crime," said Philip Crawford solemnly, "and I thank
God that I can confess it and make restitution. I must have been
suddenly possessed of a devil of greed, for the moment I saw that
will, I knew that if I took it away the property would be mine,
and I would then run no danger of being ruined by my stock
speculations. I had a dim feeling that I should eventually give
all, or a large part, of the fortune to Florence, but at the
moment I was obsessed by evil, and I - I stole my brother's
It was an honest confession of an awful crime. But under the
spell of that strong, low voice, and the upright bearing of that
impressive figure, we could not, at the moment, condemn; we could
only listen and wait.
"Then," the speaker proceeded, "I was seized with the terrific,
unreasoning fear that I dare say always besets a malefactor. I
had but one thought, to get away, and leave the murder to be
discovered by some one else. In a sort of subconscious effort at
caution, I took my pistol, lest it prove incriminating evidence
against me, but in my mad frenzy of fear, I gave no thought to
the gold bag or the newspaper. I came home, secreted the will
and the revolver, and ever since I have had no doubts as to the
existence of a hell. A thousand times I have been on the point
of making this confession, and even had it not been brought about
as it has, I must have given way soon. No mortal could stand out
long under the pressure of remorse and regret that has been on me
this past week. Now, gentlemen, I have told you all. The action
you may take in this matter must be of your own choosing. But,
except for the stigma of past sin, I stand again before the
world, with no unconfessed crime upon my conscience. I stole the
will; I have restored it. But my hands are clean of the blood of
my brother, and I am now free to add my efforts to yours to find
the criminal and avenge the crime.'
He had not raised his voice above those love, even tones in which
he had started his recital; he had made no bid for leniency of
judgment; but, to a man, his three hearers rose and held out
friendly hands to him as he finished his story.
"Thank you," he said simply, as he accepted this mute token of
our belief in his word. "I am gratified at your kindly attitude,
but I realize, none the less, what this will all mean for me.
Not only myself but my innocent family must share my disgrace.
However, that is part of the wrongdoer's punishment - that
results fall not only on his own head, but on the heads and
hearts of his loved ones."
"Mr. Goodrich," said Mr. Randolph, "I don't know how you look
upon this matter from your official viewpoint, but unless you
deem it necessary, I should think that this confidence of Mr.
Crawford's need never be given to the public. May we not simply
state that the missing will has been found, without any further
"I am not asking for any such consideration," said Philip
Crawford. "If you decide upon such a course, it will be entirely
of your own volition."
The district attorney hesitated.
"Speaking personally," he said, at last, "I may say that I place
full credence in Mr. Crawford's story. I am entirely convinced
of the absolute truth of all his statements. But, speaking
officially, I may say that in a court of justice witnesses would
be required, who could corroborate his words."
"But such witnesses are manifestly impossible to procure," said
"Certainly they are," I agreed, "and I should like to make this
suggestion: Believing, as we do, in Mr. Crawford's story, it
becomes important testimony in the case. Now, if it were made
public, it would lose its importance, for it would set ignorant
tongues wagging, and give rise to absurd and untrue theories, and
result in blocking our best-meant efforts. So I propose that we
keep the matter to ourselves for a time - say a week or a
fortnight - keeping Mr. Crawford under surveillance, if need be.
Then we can work on the case, with the benefit of the suggestions
offered by Mr. Crawford's revelations; and I, for one, think such
benefit of immense importance."
"That will do," said Mr. Goodrich, whose troubled face had
cleared at my suggestion. "You are quite right, Mr. Burroughs.
And the `surveillance' will be a mere empty formality. For a man
who has confessed as Mr. Crawford has done, is not going to run
away from the consequences of his confession."
"I am not," said Mr. Crawford. "And I am grateful for this
respite from unpleasant publicity. I will take my punishment
when it comes, but I feel with Mr. Burroughs that more progress
can be made if what I have told you is not at once generally
"Where now does suspicion point?"
It was Mr. Randolph who spoke. His legal mind had already gone
ahead of the present occasion, and was applying the new facts to
the old theories.
"To Gregory Hall," said the district attorney.
"Wait," said I. "If Mr. Crawford left the bag and the newspaper
in the office, we have no evidence whatever that Mr. Hall came
out on that late train."
"Nor did he need to," said Mr. Goodrich, who was thinking
rapidly. "He might have come on an earlier train, or, for that
matter, not by train at all. He may have come out from town in a
This was possible; but it did not seem to me probable. A motor
car was a conspicuous way for a man to come out from New York and
return, if he wished to keep his visit secret. Still, he could
have left the car at some distance from the house, and walked the
rest of the way.
"Did Mr. Hall know that a revolver was kept in Mr. Crawford's
desk drawer?" I asked.
"He did," replied Philip Crawford. "He was present when I took
my pistol over to Joseph."
"Then," said Mr. Goodrich, "the case looks to me very serious
against Mr. Hall. We have proved his motive, his opportunity,
and his method, or, rather, means, of committing the crime. Add
to this his unwillingness to tell where he was on Tuesday night,
and I see sufficient justification for issuing a warrant for his
"I don't know," said Philip Crawford, "whether such immediate
measures are advisable. I don't want to influence you, Mr.
Goodrich, but suppose we see Mr. Hall, and question him a little.
Then, if it seems to you best, arrest him."
"That is a good suggestion, Mr. Crawford," said the district
attorney. " We can have a sort of court of inquiry by ourselves,
and perhaps Mr. Hall will, by his own words, justify or relieve
I went away from Mr. Crawford's house, and went straight to
Florence Lloyd's. I did this almost involuntarily. Perhaps if I
had stopped to think, I might have realized that it did not
devolve upon me to tell her of Philip Crawford's confession. But
I wanted to tell her myself, because I hoped that from her manner
of hearing the story I could learn something. I still believed
that in trying to shield Hall, she had not yet been entirely
frank with me, and at any rate, I wanted to be the one to tell