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The Gold Bag by Carolyn Wells

Part 5 out of 5

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her of the important recent discovery.

When I arrived, I found Mr. Porter in the library talking with
Florence. At first I hesitated about telling my story before
him, and then I remembered that he was one of the best of
Florence's friends and advisers, and moreover a man of sound
judgment and great perspicacity. Needless to say, they were both
amazed and almost stunned by the recital, and it was some time
before they could take in the situation in all its bearings. We
had a long, grave conversation, for the three of us were not
influenced so much by the sensationalness of this new
development, as by the question of whither it led. Of course the
secret was as safe with these two, as with those of us who had
heard it directly from Philip Crawford's lips.

"I understand Philip Crawford's action," said Mr. Porter, very
seriously. "In the first place he was not quite himself, owing
to the sudden shock of seeing his brother dead before his eyes.
Also the sight of his own pistol, with which the deed had
evidently been committed, unnerved him. It was an almost
unconscious nervous action which made him take the pistol, and it
was a sort of subconscious mental working that resulted in his
abstracting the will. Had he been in full possession of his
brain faculty, he could not have done either. He did wrong, of
course, but he has made full restitution, and his wrong-doing
should not only be forgiven but forgotten."

I looked at Mr. Porter in unfeigned admiration. Truly he had
expressed noble sentiments, and his must be a broadly noble
nature that could show such a spirit toward his fellow man.

Florence, too, gave him an appreciative glance, but her mind
seemed to be working on the possibilities of the new evidence.

"Then it would seem," she said slowly, "that as I, myself, was in
Uncle's office at about eleven o'clock, and as Uncle Philip was
there a little after one o'clock, whoever killed Uncle Joseph
came and went away between those hours."

"Yes," I said, and I knew that her thoughts had flown to Gregory
Hall. "But I think there are no trains in and out again of West
Sedgwick between those hours."

"He need not have come in a train," said Florence slowly, as if
simply voicing her thoughts.

"Don't attempt to solve the mystery, Florence," said Mr. Porter
in his decided way. "Leave that for those who make it their
business. Mr. Burroughs, I am sure, will do all he can, and it
is not for you to trouble your already sad heart with these
anxieties. Give it up, my girl, for it means only useless
exertion on your part."

"And on my part too, I fear, Mr. Porter," I said. "Without
wishing to shirk my duty, I can't help feeling I'm up against a
problem that to me is insoluble. It is my desire, since the case
is baffling, to call in talent of a higher order. Fleming Stone,
for instance."

Mr. Porter gave me a sudden glance, and it was a glance I could
not understand. For an instant it seemed to me that he showed
fear, and this thought was instantly followed by the impression
that he feared for Florence. And then I chid myself for my
foolish heart that made every thought that entered my brain lead
to Florence Lloyd. With my mind in this commotion I scarcely
heard Mr. Porter's words.

"No, no," he was saying, "we need no other or cleverer detective
than you, Mr. Burroughs. If, as Florence says, the murderer was
clever enough to come between those two hours, and go away again,
leaving no sign, he is probably clever enough so to conceal his
coming and going that he may not be traced."

"But, Mr. Porter," I observed, "they say murder will out."

Again that strange look came into his eyes. Surely it was an
expression of fear. But he only said, "Then you're the man to
bring that result about, Mr. Burroughs. I have great confidence
in your powers as a detective."

He took his leave, and I was not sorry, for I wanted an
opportunity to see Florence alone.

"I am so sorry," she said, and for the first time I saw tears in
her dear, beautiful eyes, "to hear that about Uncle Philip. But
Mr. Porter was right, he was not himself, or he never could have
done it."

"It was an awful thing for him to find his brother as he did, and
go away and leave him so."

"Awful, indeed! But the Crawfords have always been strange in
their ways. I have never seen one of them show emotion or
sentiment upon any occasion."

"Now you are again an heiress," I said, suddenly realizing the

"Yes," she said, but her tone indicated that her fortune brought
in its train many perplexing troubles and many grave questions.

"Forgive me," I began, "if I am unwarrantably intrusive, but I
must say this. Affairs are so changed now, that new dangers and
troubles may arise for you. If I can help you in any way, will
you let me do so? Will you confide in me and trust me, and will
you remember that in so doing you are not putting yourself under
the slightest obligation?"

She looked at me very earnestly for a moment, and then without
replying directly to my questions, she said in a low tone, "You
are the very best friend I have ever had."

"Florence!" I cried; but even as she had spoken, she had gone
softly out of the room, and with a quiet joy in my heart, I went

That afternoon I was summoned to Mr. Philip Crawford's house to
be present at the informal court of inquiry which was to
interrogate Gregory Hall.

Hall was summoned by telephone, and not long after he arrived.
He was cool and collected, as usual, and I wondered if even his
arrest would disturb his calm.

"We are pursuing the investigation of Mr. Joseph Crawford's
death, Mr. Hall," the district attorney began, "and we wish, in
the course of our inquiries, to ask some questions of you."

"Certainly, sir," said Gregory Hall, with an air of polite

"And I may as well tell you at the outset," went on Mr. Goodrich,
a little irritated at the young man's attitude, "that you, Mr.
Hall, are under suspicion."

"Yes?" said Hall interrogatively. "But I was not here that

"That's just the point, sir. You say you were not here, but you
refuse to say where you were. Now, wherever you may have been
that night, a frank admission of it will do you less harm than
this incriminating concealment of the truth."

"In that case," said Hall easily, "I suppose I may as well tell
you. But first, since you practically accuse me, may I ask if
any new developments have been brought to light?"

"One has," said Mr. Goodrich. "The missing will has been found."

"What?" cried Hall, unable to conceal his satisfaction at this

"Yes," said Mr. Goodrich coldly, disgusted at the plainly
apparent mercenary spirit of the man; "yes, the will of Mr.
Joseph Crawford, which bequeaths the bulk of his estate to Miss
Lloyd, is safe in Mr. Randolph's possession. But that fact in no
way affects your connection with the case, or our desire to learn
where you were on Tuesday night."

"Pardon me, Mr. Goodrich; I didn't hear all that you said."

Bluffing again, thought I; and, truly, it seemed to me rather a
clever way to gain time for consideration, and yet let his
answers appear spontaneous.

The district attorney repeated his question, and now Gregory Hall
answered deliberately

"I still refuse to tell you where I was. It in no way affects
the case; it is a private matter of my own. I was in New York
City from the time I left West Sedgwick at six o'clock on Monday,
until I returned the next morning. Further than that I will give
no account of my doings."

"Then we must assume you were engaged in some occupation of which
you are ashamed to tell."

Hall shrugged his shoulders. "You may assume what you choose,"
he said. "I was not here, I had no hand in Mr. Crawford's death,
and knew nothing of it until my return next day."

"You knew Mr. Crawford kept a revolver in his desk. You must
know it is not there now."

Hall looked troubled.

"I know nothing about that revolver," he said. "I saw it the day
Mr. Philip Crawford brought it there, but I have never seen it

This sounded honest enough, but if he were the criminal, he
would, of course, make these same avowals.

"Well, Mr. Hall," said the district attorney, with an air of
finality, "we suspect you. We hold that you had motive,
opportunity, and means for this crime. Therefore, unless you can
prove an alibi for Tuesday night, and bring witnesses to grove
where you, were, we must arrest you, on suspicion, for the murder
of Joseph Crawford."

Gregory Hall deliberated silently for a few moments, then he

"I am innocent. But I persist in my refusal to allow intrusion
on my private and personal affairs. Arrest me if you will, but
you will yet learn your mistake."

I can never explain it, even to myself, but something in the
man's tone and manner convinced me, even against my own will,
that he poke the truth.



The news of Gregory Hall's arrest flew through the town like

That evening I went to call on Florence Lloyd, though I had
little hope that she would see me.

To my surprise, however, she welcomed me almost eagerly, and,
though I knew she wanted to see me only for what legal help I
might give her, I was glad even of this.

And yet her manner was far from impersonal. Indeed, she showed a
slight embarrassment in my presence, which, if I had dared, I
should have been glad to think meant a growing interest in our

"You have heard all?" I asked, knowing from her manner that she

"Yes," she replied; "Mr. Hall was here for dinner, and then -
then he went away to - "

"To prison," I finished quietly. "Florence, I cannot think he is
the murderer of your uncle."

If she noticed this, my first use of her Christian name, she
offered no remonstrance, and I went on

"To be sure, they have proved that he had motive, means,
opportunity, and all that, but it is only indefinite evidence.
If he would but tell where he was on Tuesday night, he could so
easily free himself. Why will he not tell?"

"I don't know," she said, looking thoughtful. "But I cannot
think he was here, either. When he said good-by to me to-night,
he did not seem at all apprehensive. He only said he was
arrested wrongfully, and that he would soon be set free again.
You know his way of taking everything casually."

"Yes, I do. And now that you are your uncle's heiress, I suppose
he no longer wishes to break the engagement between you and him."

I said this bitterly, for I loathed the nature that could thus
turn about in accordance with the wheel of fortune.

To my surprise, she too spoke bitterly.

"Yes," she said; "he insists now that we are engaged, and that he
never rally wanted to break it. He has shown me positively that
it is my money that attracts him, and if it were not that I don't
want to seem to desert him now, when he is in trouble - "

She paused, and my heart beat rapidly. Could it be that at last
she saw Gregory Hall as he really was, and that his mercenary
spirit had killed her love for him? At least, she had intimated
this, and, forcing myself to be content with that for the
present, I said:

"Would you, then, if you could, get him out of this trouble?"

"Gladly. I do not think he killed Uncle Joseph, but I'm sure I
do not know who did. Do you?"

"I haven't the least idea," I answered honestly, for there, in
Florence Lloyd's presence, gazing into the depths of her clear
eyes, my last, faint suspicion of her wrong-doing faded away.
"And it is this total lack of suspicion that makes the case so
simple, and therefore so difficult. A more complicated case
offers some points on which to build a theory. I do not blame
Mr. Goodrich for suspecting Mr. Hall, for there seems to be no
one else to suspect."

Just then Mr. Lemuel Porter dropped in for an evening call. Of
course, we talked over the events of the day, and Mr. Porter was
almost vehement in his denunciation of the sudden move of the
district attorney.

"It's absurd," he said, "utterly absurd. Gregory Hall never did
the thing. I've known Hall for years, and he isn't that sort of
a man. I believe Philip Crawford's story, of course, but the
murderer, who came into the office after Florence's visit to her
uncle, and before Philip arrived, was some stranger from out of
town - some man whom none of us know; who had some grievance
against Joseph, and who deliberately came and went during that
midnight hour."

I agreed with Mr. Porter. I had thought all along it was some
one unknown to the Sedgwick people, but some one well known to
Joseph Crawford. For, had it been an ordinary burglar, the
victim would at least have raised a protecting hand.

"Of course Hall will be set free at once," continued Mr. Porter,
"but to arrest him was a foolish thing to do."

"Still, he ought to prove his alibi," I said.

"Very well, then; make him prove it. Give him the third degree,
if necessary, and find out where he was on Tuesday night."

"I doubt if they could get it out of him," I observed, "if he
continues determined not to tell."

"Then he deserves his fate," said Mr. Porter, a little
petulantly. "He can free himself by a word. If he refuses to do
so it's his own business."

"But I'd like to help him," said Florence, almost timidly. "Is
there no way I can do so, Mr. Burroughs?"

"Indeed there is," I said. "You are a rich woman now; use some
of your wealth to employ the services of Fleming Stone, and I can
assure you the truth will be discovered."

"Indeed I will," said Florence. "Please send for him at once."

"Nonsense!" said Mr. Porter. "It isn't necessary at all. Mr.
Burroughs here, and young Parmalee, are all the detectives we
need. Get Hall to free himself, as he can easily do, and then
set to work in earnest to run down the real villain."

"No, Mr. Porter," said Florence, with firmness; "Gregory will not
tell his secret, whatever it is. I know his stubborn nature.
He'll stay in prison until he's freed, as he is sure he will be,
but he won't tell what he has determined not to divulge. No, I
am glad I can do something definite at last toward avenging Uncle
Joseph's death. Please send for Mr. Stone, Mr. Burroughs, and I
will gladly pay his fees and expenses." Mr. Porter expostulated
further, but to no avail. Florence insisted on sending for the
great detective.

So I sent for him.

He came two days later, and in the interval nothing further had
been learned from Gregory Hall. The man was an enigma to me. He
was calm and impassive as ever. Courteous, though never cordial,
and apparently without the least apprehension of ever being
convicted for the crime which had caused his arrest.

Indeed, he acted just as an innocent man would act; innocent of
the murder, that is, but resolved to conceal his whereabouts of
Tuesday night, whatever that resolve might imply.

To me, it did not imply crime. Something he wished to conceal,
certainly; but I could not think a criminal would act so. A
criminal is usually ready with an alibi, whether it can be proved
or not.

When Fleming Stone arrived I met him at the station and took him
at once to the inn, where I had engaged rooms for him.

We first had a long conversation alone, in which I told him,
everything I knew concerning the murder.

"When did it happen?" he asked, for, though he had read some of
the newspaper accounts, the date had escaped him.

I told him, and added, "Why, I was called here just after I left
you at the Metropolis Hotel that morning. Don't you remember,
you deduced a lot of information from a pair of shoes which were
waiting to be cleaned?"

"Yes, I remember," said Stone, smiling a little at the

"And I tried to make similar deductions from the gold bag and the
newspaper, but I couldn't do it. I bungled matters every time.
My deductions are mostly from the witnesses' looks or tones when
giving evidence."

"On the stand?"

"Not necessarily on the stand. I've learned much from talking to
the principals informally."

"And where do your suspicions point?"

"Nowhere. I've suspected Florence Lloyd and Gregory Hall, in
turn, and in collusion; but now I suspect neither of them."

"Why not Hall?"

"His manner is too frank and unconcerned."

"A good bluff for a criminal to use."

"Then he won't tell where he was that night."

"If he is the murderer, he can't tell. A false alibi is so
easily riddled. It's rather clever to keep doggedly silent; but
what does he say is his reason?"

"He won't give any reason. He has determined to keep up that
calm, indifferent pose, and though it is aggravating, I must
admit it serves his purpose well."

"How did they find him the morning after the murder?"

"Let me see; I believe the coroner said he telephoned first to
Hall's club. But the steward said Hall didn't stay there, as
there was no vacant room, and that he had stayed all night at a

"What hotel?"

"I don't know. The coroner asked the steward, but he didn't

"Didn't he find out from Hall, afterward?"

"I don't know, Stone; perhaps the coroner asked him, but if he
did, I doubt if Hall told. It didn't seem to me important."

"Burroughs, my son, you should have learned every detail of
Hall's doings that night."

"But if he were not in West Sedgwick, what difference could it
possibly make where he was?"

"One never knows what difference anything will make until the
difference is made. That's oracular, but it means more than it
sounds. However, go on."

I went on, and I even told him what Florence had told me
concerning the possibility of Hall's interest in another woman.

"At last we are getting to it," said Stone; "why in the name of
all good detectives, didn't you hunt up that other woman?"

"But she is perhaps only a figment of Miss Lloyd's brain."

"Figments of the brains of engaged young ladies are apt to have a
solid foundation of flesh and blood. I think much could be
learned concerning Mr. Hall's straying fancy. But tell me again
about his attitude toward Miss Lloyd, in the successive
developments of the will question."

Fleming Stone was deeply interested as I rehearsed how, when
Florence was supposed to be penniless, he wished to break the
engagement. When Philip Crawford offered to provide for her, Mr.
Hall was uncertain; but when the will was found, and Florence was
known to inherit all her uncle's property, then Gregory Hall not
only held her to the engagement, but said he had never wished to
break it.

"H'm," said Stone. "Pretty clear that the young man is a

"He is," I agreed. "I felt sure of that from the first."

"And he is now under arrest, calmly waiting for some one to prove
his innocence, so he can marry the heiress."

"That's about the size of it," I said. "But I don't think
Florence is quite as much in love with him as she was. She seems
to have realized his mercenary spirit."

Perhaps an undue interest in my voice or manner disclosed to this
astute man the state of my own affections, for he gave me a
quizzical glance, and said, "O-ho! sits the wind in that

"Yes," I said, determined to be frank with him. "It does. I
want you, to free Gregory Hall, if he's innocent. Then if, for
any reason, Miss Lloyd sees fit to dismiss him, I shall most
certainly try to win her affections. As I came to this
determination when she was supposed to be penniless, I can
scarcely be accused of fortune-hunting myself."

"Indeed, you can't, old chap. You're not that sort. Well, let's
go to see your district attorney and his precious prisoner, and
see what's to be done."

We went to the district attorney's office, and, later,
accompanied by him and by Mr. Randolph, we visited Gregory Hall.

As I had expected, Mr. Hall wore the same unperturbed manner he
always showed, and when Fleming Stone was introduced, Hall
greeted him coldly, with absolutely no show of interest in the
man or his work.

Fleming Stone's own kindly face took on a slight expression of
hauteur, as he noticed his reception, but he said, pleasantly

"I am here in an effort to aid in establishing your innocence,
Mr. Hall."

"I beg your pardon?" said Hall listlessly.

I wondered whether this asking to have a remark repeated was
merely a foolish habit of Hall's, or whether, as I had heretofore
guessed, it was a ruse to gain time.

Fleming Stone looked at him a little more sharply as he repeated
his remark in clear, even tones.

"Thank you," said Hall, pleasantly enough. "I shall be glad to
be free from this unjust suspicion."

"And as a bit of friendly advice," went on Stone, "I strongly
urge that you, reveal to us, confidentially, where you were on
Tuesday night."

Hall looked the speaker straight in the eye.

"That," he said, "I must still refuse to do."

Fleming Stone rose and walked toward the window.

"I think," he said, "the proof of your innocence may depend upon
this point."

Gregory Hall turned his head, and followed Stone with his eyes.

"What did you say, Mr. Stone?" he asked quietly.

The detective returned to his seat.

"I said," he replied, "that the proof of your innocence might
depend on your telling this secret of yours. But I begin to
think now you will be freed from suspicion whether you tell it or

Instead of looking glad at this assurance, Gregory Hall gave a
start, and an expression of fear came into his eyes.

"What do you mean?" he said

"Have you any letters in your pocket, Mr. Hall?" went on Fleming
Stone in a suave voice.

"Yes; several. Why?"

"I do not ask to read them. Merely show me the lot."

With what seemed to be an unwilling but enforced movement, Mr.
Hall drew four or five letters from his breast pocket and handed
them to Fleming Stone.

"They've all been looked over, Mr. Stone," said the district
attorney; "and they have no bearing on the matter of the, crime."

"Oh, I don't want to read them," said the detective.

He ran over the lot carelessly, not taking the sheets from the
envelopes, and returned them to their owner.

Gregory Hall looked at him as if fascinated. What revelation was
this man about to make?

"Mr. Hall," Fleming Stone began, "I've no intention of forcing
your secret from you. But I shall ask you some questions, and
you may do as you like about answering them. First, you refuse
to tell where you were during the night last Tuesday. I take it,
you mean you refuse to tell how or where you spent the evening.
Now, will you tell us where you lodged that night?"

"I fail to see any reason for telling you," answered Hall, after
a moment's thought. "I have said I was in New York City, that is

"The reason you may as well tell us," went on Mr. Stone, "is
because it is a very simple matter for us to find out. You
doubtless were at some hotel, and you went there because you
could not get a room at your club. In fact, this was stated when
the coroner telephoned for you, the morning after the murder. I
mean, it was stated that the club bed-rooms were all occupied. I
assume, therefore, that you lodged at some hotel, and, as a
canvass of the city hotels would be a simple matter, you may as
well save us that trouble."

"Oh, very well," said Gregory Hall sullenly; "then I did spend
the night at a hotel. It was the Metropolis Hotel, and you will
find my name duly on the register."

"I have no doubt of it," said Stone pleasantly. "Now that you
have told us this, have you any objection to telling us at what
time you returned to the hotel, after your evening's occupation,
whatever it may have been?"

"Eh?" said Hall abstractedly. He turned his head as he spoke,
and Fleming Stone threw me a quizzical smile which I didn't in
the least understand.

"You may as well tell us," said Stone, after he had repeated his
question, "for if you withhold it, the night clerk can give us
this information."

"Well," said Hall, who now looked distinctly sulky, "I don't
remember exactly, but I think I turned in somewhere between
twelve and one o'clock."

"And as it was a late hour, you slept rather late next morning,"
suggested Stone.

"Oh, I don't know. I was at Mr. Craw ford's New York office by
half-past ten."

"A strange coincidence, Burroughs," said Fleming Stone, turning
to me.

"Eh? Beg pardon?" said Hall, turning his head also.

"Mr. Hall," said Stone, suddenly facing him again, "are you deaf?
Why do you ask to have remarks repeated?"

Hall looked slightly apologetic. " I am a little deaf," he said;
"but only in one ear. And only at times - or, rather, it's worse
at times. If I have a cold, for instance."

"Or in damp weather?" said Stone. "Mr. Hall, I have questioned
you enough. I will now tell these gentlemen, since you refuse to
do so, where you were on the night of Mr. Crawford's murder. You
were not in West Sedgwick, or near it. You are absolutely
innocent of the crime or any part in it."

Gregory Hall straightened up perceptibly, like a man exonerated
from all blame. But he quailed again, as Fleming Stone, looking
straight at him, continued: "You left West Sedgwick at six that
evening, as you have said. You registered at the Metropolis
Hotel, after learning that you could not get a room at your club.
And then - you went over to Brooklyn to meet, or to call on, a
young woman living in that borough. You took her back to New
York to the theatre or some such entertainment, and afterward
escorted her back to her home. The young woman wore a street
costume, by which I mean a cloth gown without a train. You did
not have a cab, but, after leaving the car, you walked for a
rather long distance in Brooklyn. It was raining, and you were
both under one umbrella. Am I correct, so far?"

At last Gregory Hall's calm was disturbed. He looked at Fleming
Stone as at a supernatural being. And small wonder. For the
truth of Stone's statements was evident from Hall's amazement at

"You - you saw us!" he gasped.

"No, I didn't see you; it is merely a matter of observation,
deduction, and memory. You recollect the muddy shoes?" he added,
turning to me.

Did I recollect! Well, rather! And it certainly was a
coincidence that we had chanced to examine those shoes that
morning at the hotel.

As for Mr. Randolph and the district attorney, they were quite as
much surprised as Hall.

"Can you prove this astonishing story, Mr. Stone?" asked Mr.
Goodrich, with an incredulous look.

"Oh, yes, in lots of ways," returned Stone. "For one thing, Mr.
Hall has in his pocket now a letter from the young lady. The
whole matter is of no great importance except as it proves Mr.
Hall was not in West Sedgwick that night, and so is not the

"But why conceal so simple a matter? Why refuse to tell of the
episode?" asked Mr. Randolph.

"Because," and now Fleming Stone looked at Hall with accusation
in his glance - " because Mr. Hall is very anxious that his
fiancee shall not know of his attentions to the young lady in

"O-ho!" said Mr. Goodrich, with sudden enlightenment. "I see it
all now. Is it the truth, Mr. Hall? Did you go to Brooklyn and
back that night, as Mr. Stone has described?"

Gregory Hall fidgeted in an embarrassed way. But, unable to
escape the piercing gaze of Stone's eyes, he admitted grudgingly
that the detective had told the truth, adding, "But it's
wizardry, that's what it is! How could he know?"

"I had reason for suspicion," said Stone; "and when I found you
were deaf in your right ear, and that you had in your pocket a
letter addressed in a feminine hand, and postmarked `Brooklyn,' I
was sure."

"It's all true," said Hall slowly. "You have the facts all
right. But, unless you have had me shadowed, will you tell me
how you knew it all?"

And then Fleming Stone told of his observations and deductions
when we noticed the muddied shoes at the Metropolis Hotel that

"But," he said, as he concluded, "when I hastily adjudged the
young lady to be deaf in the left ear, I see now I was mistaken.
As soon as I realized Mr. Hall himself is deaf in the right ear,
especially so in damp or wet weather, I saw that it fitted the
case as well as if the lady had been deaf in her left ear. Then
a note in his pocket from a lady in Brooklyn made me quite sure I
was right."

"But, Mr. Stone," said Lawyer Randolph, "it is very astonishing
that you should make those deductions from those shoes, and then
come out here and meet the owner of the shoes."

"It seems more remarkable than it really is, Mr. Randolph," was
the response; "for I am continually observing whatever comes to
my notice. Hundreds of my deductions are never verified, or even
thought of again; so it is not so strange that now and then one
should prove of use in my work."

"Well," said the district attorney, "it seems wonderful to me.
But now that Mr. Hall has proved his alibi, or, rather, Mr. Stone
has proved it for him, we must begin anew our search for the real

"One moment," said Gregory Hall. "As you know, gentlemen, I
endeavored to keep this little matter of my going to Brooklyn a
secret. As it has no possible bearing on the case of Mr.
Crawford, may I ask of you to respect my desire that you say
nothing about it?"

"For my part," said the district attorney, "I am quite willing to
grant Mr. Hall's request. I have put him to unnecessary trouble
and embarrassment by having him arrested, and I shall be glad to
do him this favor that he asks, by way of amends."

But Mr. Randolph seemed reluctant to make the required promise,
and Fleming Stone looked at Hall, and said nothing.

Then I spoke out, and, perhaps with scant courtesy, I said:

"I, for one, refuse to keep this revelation a secret. It was
discovered by the detective engaged by Miss Lloyd. Therefore, I
think Miss Lloyd is entitled to the knowledge we have thus

Mr. Randolph looked at me with approval. He was a good friend of
Florence Lloyd, and he was of no mind to hide from her something
which it might be better for her to know.

Gregory Hall set his lips together in a way which argued no
pleasant feelings toward me, but he said nothing then. He was
forthwith released from custody, and the rest of us separated;
having arranged to meet that evening at Miss Lloyd's home to
discuss matters.



Except the half-hour required for a hasty dinner, Fleming Stone
devoted the intervening time to looking over the reports of the
coroner's inquest, and in asking me questions about all the
people who were connected with the affair.

"Burroughs," he said at last, "every one who is interested in
Joseph Crawford's death has suspected Gregory Hall, except one
person. Not everybody said they suspected him, but they did, all
the same. Even Miss Lloyd wasn't sure that Hall wasn't the
criminal. Now, there's just one person who declares that Hall
did not do it, and that he is not implicated. Why should this
person feel so sure of Hall's innocence? And, furthermore, my
boy, here are a few more important questions. In which drawer of
the desk was the revolver kept?"

"The upper right-hand drawer," I replied.

"I mean, what else was in that drawer?"

"Oh, important, valuable memoranda of Mr. Crawford's stocks and

"Do you mean stock certificates and actual bonds?"

"No; merely lists and certain data referring to them. The
certificates themselves were in the bank.

"And the will - where had that been kept?"

"In a drawer on the other side of the desk. I know all these
things, because with the lawyer and Mr. Philip Crawford, I have
been through all the papers of the estate."

"Well, then, Burroughs, let us build up the scene. Mr. Joseph
Crawford, after returning from his lawyer's that night, goes to
his office. Naturally, he takes out his will, that he thinks of
changing, and - we'll say - it is lying on his desk when Mr.
Lemuel Porter calls. He talks of other matters, and the will
still lies there unheeded. It is there when Miss Lloyd comes
down later. She has said so. It remains there until much later
- when Philip Crawford comes, and, after discovering that his
brother is dead, sees the will still on the desk and takes it
away with him, and also sees the pistol on the desk, and takes
that, too. Now, granting that the murderer came between the time
Miss Lloyd left the office and the time Philip Crawford came
there, then it was while the murderer was present that the drawer
which held the pistol was opened, the pistol taken out, and the
murder committed, Since Mr. Joseph Crawford showed no sign of
fear of violence, the murderer must have been, not a burglar or
an unwelcome intruder, but a friend, or an acquaintance, at
least. His visit must have been the reason for opening that
drawer, and that not to get the pistol, but to look at or discuss
the papers contained in that drawer. The pistol, thus disclosed,
was temptingly near the hand of the visitor, and, for some reason
connected with the papers in that drawer, the pistol was used by
the visitor - suddenly, unpremeditatedly, but with deadly intent
at the moment."

"But who - " I began.

"Hush," he said, "I see it all now - or almost all. Let us go to
Philip Crawford's at once - before it is time to go to Miss

We did so, and Fleming Stone, in a short business talk with Mr.
Crawford, learned all that he wanted to know. Then we three went
over to Florence Lloyd's home.

Awaiting us were several people. The district attorney, of
course, and Lawyer Randolph. Also Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Porter,
who had been asked to be present. Gregory Hall was there, too,
and from his crestfallen expression, I couldn't help thinking
that he had had an unsatisfactory interview with Florence

As we all sat round the library, Fleming Stone was the principal

He said: "I have come here at Miss Lloyd's request, to discover,
if possible, the murderer of her uncle, Mr. Joseph Crawford. I
have learned the identity of the assassin, and, if you all wish
me to, I will now divulge it."

"We do wish you to, Mr. Stone," said Mr. Goodrich, and his voice
trembled a little, for he knew not where the blow might fall.
But after Fleming Stone's wonderful detective work in the case of
Gregory Hall, the district attorney felt full confidence in his

Sitting quietly by the library table, with the eyes of all the
company upon him, Fleming Stone said, in effect, to them just
what he had said to me. He told of the revolver in the drawer
with the financial papers. He told how the midnight visitor must
have been some friend or neighbor, whose coming would in no way
startle or alarm Mr. Crawford, and whose interest in the question
of stocks was desperate.

And then Fleming Stone turned suddenly to Lemuel Porter, and
said: "Shall I go on, Mr. Porter, or will you confess here and

It was as if a thunderbolt had fallen. Hitherto unsuspected, the
guilt of Lemuel Porter was now apparent beyond all doubt.
White-faced and shaking, his burning eyes glared at Fleming

"What are you?" he whispered, in hoarse, hissing tones. "I
feared you, and I was right to fear you. I have heard of you
before. I tried to prevent your coming here, but I could not.
And I knew, when you came, that I was doomed - doomed!

"Yes," he went on, looking around at the startled faces. "Yes, I
killed Joseph Crawford. If I had not, he would have ruined me
financially. Randolph knows that - and Philip Crawford, too. I
had no thought of murder in my heart. I came here late that
night to renew the request I had made in my earlier visit that
evening - that Joseph Crawford would unload his X.Y. stock
gradually, and in that way save me. I had overtraded; I had
pyramided my paper profits until my affairs were in such a state
that a sudden drop of ten points would wipe me out entirely. But
Joseph Crawford was adamant to my entreaties. He said he would
see to it that at the opening of the market the next morning X.Y.
stock should be hammered down out of sight. Details are
unnecessary. You lawyers and financial men understand. It was
in his power to ruin or to save me and he chose to ruin me. I
know, why, but that concerns no one here. Then, as by chance, he
moved a paper in the drawer, and I saw the pistol. In a moment
of blind rage I grasped it and shot him. Death was
instantaneous. Like one in a dream, I laid down the pistol, and
came away. I was saved, but at what a cost! No one, I think,
saw me come or go. I was afterward puzzled to know what became
of the pistol, and of the will which lay on the desk when I was
there. These matters have since been explained. Philip Crawford
is as much a criminal as I. I shot a man, but he robbed the
dead. He has confessed and made restitution, so he merits no
punishment. In the nature of things, I cannot do that, but I can
at least cheat the gallows."

With these words, Mr. Porter put something into his mouth and
swallowed it.

Several people started toward him in dismay, but he waved them
back, saying:

"Too late. Good-by, all. If possible, do not let my wife know
the truth. Can't you tell her - I died of heart failure - or -
something like that?"

The poison he had taken was of quick effect. Though a doctor was
telephoned for at once, Mr. Porter was dead before he came.

Everything was now made clear, and Fleming Stone's work in West
Sedgwick was done.

I was chagrined, for I felt that all he had discovered, I ought
to have found out for myself.

But as I glanced at Florence, and saw her lovely eyes fixed on
me, I knew that one reason I had failed in my work was because of
her distracting influence on it.

"Take me away from here," she said, and I gently led her from the

We went into the small drawing-room, and, unable to restrain my
eagerness, I said

"Tell me, dear, have you broken with Hall?"

"Yes," she said, looking up shyly into my face. "I learned from
his own lips the story of the Brooklyn girl. Then I knew that he
really loves her, but wanted to marry me for my fortune. This
knowledge was enough for me. I realize now that I never loved
Gregory, and I have told him so."

"And you do love somebody else?" I whispered ecstatically. "Oh,
Florence! I know this is not the time or the place, but just
tell me, dear, if you ever love any one, it will be - "

"You" she murmured softly, and I was content.

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