Part 3 out of 6
The long morning dragged on in a semi-stupor as he sat there
listening to the hollow footfall of the casual passers-by.
And yet there was no word from Madame Raffoni, the only holder of
the secret of Irma Gluyas' life. His foot was on the threshhold to
leave at last, when Arthur Ferris calmly entered.
Randall Clayton mastered himself with a mighty effort, as Ferris
glibly murmured, "I am only here for a few moments! Come into the
The few minutes before they were at their ease in Robert Wade's
impregnable sanctum enabled Clayton to steel himself against the
secret bridegroom's duplicity. Clayton's quick eye noted Ferris'
satchel, his top-coat and umbrella carelessly thrown down on Wade's
"Have you been at the rooms?" carelessly remarked Clayton, tossing
Ferris' private keys upon the table. "No," curtly replied Ferris.
"I came here directly from the train. I wished to stop and see my
mother and sister; but Wade's illness has upset all my plans.
"I have to go on to Philadelphia at once on some private business
for the Chief. You know he is a very heavy stockholder in the Cramp
Shipbuilding Company. I will not be back for several days."
"And what about the election?" deliberately replied Clayton, now
anxious to draw his enemy out. "I have nothing to do with that,"
said Ferris, dropping his eyes to veil a slight agitation. "Wade
has all that in charge, and he has given Somers his proxy."
"I thought that you held Worthington's private power of attorney,"
stoutly said Randall Clayton.
"Only for his outside matters, Clayton," coaxingly said Ferris.
"The fact is, we may expect many changes. Hugh has several plans
of great importance in his mind.
"Yes; I have lived in an atmosphere of change for some time, Ferris,"
said Clayton, bluntly. "I have only been waiting for your return
to consult with you about giving up our joint apartment.
"I reserved that privilege on May 1st, and you can either keep the
rooms or sublet them. I have paid the rental for the last three
months in your absence."
"See here, Clayton," sharply said Ferris, throwing off the mask.
"I am not a man for any mysteries. I don't know why I should be
forced to tell you things that I do not know myself.
"Now, I will be several days busy with these outside matters at
Philadelphia. You had the one opportunity of your life the other
"I expect that you will have reconsidered your refusal to Wade,
to obey Hugh Worthington's orders by my return."
"So you know all about it, do you?" fiercely retorted Randall Clayton.
"I fancied that Wade was dealing directly with Hugh, himself, by the
tone of the Chief's letters and the telegrams which I have received."
"The matter has been referred to me," hotly answered Ferris, who
dared not openly use his new power. "But I will not wait here to
discuss this matter. I may miss my train."
Arthur Ferris sharply rang a bell, and then, with a nod of recognition,
directed the young Einstein to take his traps down stairs and call
him a carriage.
The door clanged and the two secret enemies were left facing each
"I had fancied," said Clayton, bitterly, "that a lifetime spent
in Hugh Worthington's service would at least win me a dismissal at
"Wade has tried to force me to throw up a position for which I was
previously named by Worthington. I imagined that the Chief was
really going abroad. He seems to have changed his plans. I have no
means of reaching him direct.
"And now, sir, you will find the keys of our rooms with the janitor
on your return. All that I wish to know is whether I shall deal
with you or Wade in giving my final answer to the suspended orders
for me to go West."
"You stand ready to throw up a life position?" harshly cried Ferris,
white with secret rage pausing with his hand on the door.
"I shall certainly wait until I hear from Mr. Worthington,"
gravely answered Clayton. "It matters little about me. Your own
life position is secure!"
"What do you mean by that?" cried Ferris, springing forward in a
sudden anger which made him forget all his plans of crafty concealment.
But the tall Westerner, with one wave of his arm, swept Ferris'
delicate form away from the door and passed out of the presence of
the budding capitalist.
Arthur Ferris cast stealthy glances to right and left as he sought
the elevator. He breathed freer when he reached the sidewalk.
Fortunately, no one had overheard the unseemly quarrel.
His hand was on the carriage door when his glances fell upon the
questioning face of Emil Einstein.
"Anything further, sir?" demanded the eager office boy. "Yes! Jump
in with me and ride down to the Pennsylvania Ferry. I may need
Ferris' brain was in a whirl. He had intended to double around
and reach Wade's house, where he was a secret guest, during the
excitable ordeal of the election.
Too well he knew the dangers of setting his own foot in Wall Street.
Keen brokers, great operators, lynx-eyed newspaper reporters would
soon corner him.
His slightest word would be misconstrued, and there was still time
for some unforeseen plot before the polls of the stockholders'
election closed at three o'clock.
Clayton's defiant manner had aroused his jealousy to a keen rage.
"Does the fool know anything of my marriage?" he mused. "How could
he?" Ferris smiled, for his girl wife was still in Tacoma, by her
father's side, and the marriage had been a secret one.
The crafty lawyer hated Clayton, at heart, for too well he knew that
no word clouding Clayton's character could be uttered unchallenged
in Alice Worthington's presence.
Once he had tried, to probe her opinions, with faint sneers, but
his voice had died away under the indignant protest of the heiress.
"I do not know who has poisoned my father's mind," resolutely said
the Little Sister, "but Randall Clayton has been the brother of my
heart, and always will be. If he had never left us we would all
be happier to-day."
The clear-browed woman did not know how truly this arrow had sped
to its mark. It silenced forever Arthur Ferris, and lent a new
caution to the scheming plans of the old money grabber.
"If I only had my cipher book," was the first thought of the excited
Ferris, "I must telegraph to Hugh and put him on his guard. What
the devil can Clayton have picked up?"
There was yet two weeks before the final arrangement of the "great
deal," and the repayment of the two millions could be substantially
As the carriage dashed along to the Christopher Street Ferry, Ferris
rapidly made up his plan of action. "I can go over to Taylor's
Hotel at Jersey City. Old Somers will cast the majority vote at a
quarter of three.
"I can call him up at the down-town office by telephone, and then
telegraph direct to old Hugh at Tacoma.
"And Wade must come over to me at Philadelphia and spend a day or
so, for appearance's sake. But a light rein is needed for this wild
ass of the West, Clayton. Oh! to have him out there in Cheyenne
for one month.
"Yes! By Jove, I have it! Hugh must invite him to meet him there.
I will telegraph him, and the old man can smooth Clayton down."
A sudden desire to know of Randall Clayton's private life seized
upon Ferris, who already contemplated a sweet revenge. "Damn
him! I must keep him and Alice apart. She would side with him, on
sentimental grounds. But, as soon as I get back, I can cipher Hugh
that he must settle this fellow, in some way, on that Western visit.
The old fox can find a way, and both Alice and I will be out of
Deliberately selecting two one hundred dollar bills from his wallet,
Arthur Ferris held them up to the astonished gaze of Einstein.
"Mr. Clayton has been a little strange in his behavior lately," he
said. "In some tiff he has thrown up his old rooms, and is going
to move. I will be away three or four days. When I come back, I
want to know just where he is located, and--all about him; who his
friends are, and so on. There is more where this came from."
"I understand," smoothly answered Emil, pocketing the bills with
In the meantime Ferris had scribbled a few words on a card. He stopped
the carriage. "Jump out and take a coupe, and get instantly down to
Wall and Broad. You'll find Mr. Somers waiting in the election-room.
Tell him not to leave there till I get him on the 'phone from
Jersey City. And my address you can give him as Lafayette House,
Philadelphia. I'll be there three days." The lie was deliberate,
and even the triple spy believed him.
The long hours crawled away while Randall Clayton resolutely paced
his lonely office. Only the busy under-accountants came in now and
then for a word of directions, and the ticking of the office clock
sounded like the hollow tapping of hammers upon coffin-lids to the
solitary man who was crazed with his loving anxiety to hear from
the woman who now ruled his every thought.
He forgot the absence of Einstein in his eager waiting for some
intelligence of the woman whom he had shielded from the storm. Poor
Madame Raffoni had mumbled some obscure words about "die herz-kranke."
"Heartsick, my God! I am heartsick," cried Randall Clayton. "And,
she may be alone; there may be no one to send."
Clayton tried to recall the last directions which he had given
to the disguised Leah Einstein. All that he could recall was the
murmured pledge, "I will come, I will come!"
The lover's heart told him that Ferris' spies would now follow in
his every movment. He lingered, in a trance of agony, until long
after the parchment-faced Somers had returned from Wall and Broad
"It was a very quiet election," murmured Somers, who started at the
appearance of the young man's haggard face. He was astonished to
see Clayton lingering there to the confines of darkness.
The faithful old tool of Mammon had crawled back to turn all his
combination knobs and cast a last glance over the rooms into which
his life had grown as the silkworm into its cocoon.
"You must go away, my boy," kindly said old Somers, "you need a
"Yes, yes," mournfully replied Clayton, thinking of the five days
of agony before Jack Witherspoon would arrive to run the gauntlet
of the treacherous Ferris. "I must go away--go away--and, have a
long, long rest!"
The old accountant watched his listless steps as he departed. "Head
or heart--which?" he murmured. "That man is in a bad way."
"THIS MAY BE MY LAST BANK DEPOSIT."
There was an air of supreme content upon the usually impassive face
of Arthur Ferris when he hung the receiver of the public telephone
up upon its hook, at precisely fifteen minutes past three o'clock,
in the office of Taylor's Hotel.
The astonished girl gazed admiringly after the young lawyer, when
he dropped a two-dollar bill into her hand, saying, "Never mind
"It's my lucky day," murmured Ferris, as he sought the telegraph
office. The measured words of Accountant Somers were still ringing
in his ears:
"A very quiet election; no opposition to our ticket. Directors'
meeting pro forma. Vice-President Selden cast majority vote
for new officers. Reports endorsed. Selden, president; yourself,
vice-president; Hugh Worthington, managing director. New officers
published to-morrow. Too late for afternoon press. Will go and
report to Mr. Wade."
The first official act of Vice-President Arthur Ferris had been
to order Accountant Somers to send a cheque for one month's extra
salary to each of the office force, and then to add, "I shall
be in Philadelphia for some days, remember; Lafayette House. Use
telegraph business cipher only. I will be too busy to come to the
telephone. Shall be at Cramp's yards taking a look with a view to
further investments there."
No flush of triumph colored Arthur Ferris' pale face as he pondered
over his dispatch to Hugh Worthington. He suddenly paused, with
his pencil in the air.
"By God! I have it! We will soft-soap this fellow. Violence in
quarrel is always a clumsy mistake. I need to keep in touch with
Clayton; at least, until old Hugh gets his claws upon him. What if
the fool resigns and throws all up in a huff? There is no way to
lure him out West then. It would not do to have anything happen to
him here. And I'll ring in the Auld Lang Syne a bit, also."
He smiled artfully as he read over his two telegrams before handing
them to the waiting operator. The anaemic girl was sadly disappointed
in their tenor. She had scented an intrigue in the presence of the
dapper young lawyer with his distinctly clubman air.
"Pshaw! only business," she murmured, as she dashed her hand into
the cash till for the change of a five-dollar bill.
But Arthur Ferris' resolute eyes recalled her to duty, as he
impatiently said, "Repeat them both back to me, at Lafayette House,
Philadelphia. Take out the extra charge, and please give me a press
copy of each."
"I'll run over to Philadelphia, drop in at the clubs, have a good
time, and then disappear via Pittsburgh 'for New York,'" he said.
"It will give time for Randall Clayton to cool off. And, after
all, the smooth way is the best way. I can hold him over till Hugh
works him 'on the easy pulley.'"
He was proud of these two telegrams, as he sat at his carefully-chosen
early dinner. He read them over with a secret glee.
"He is ours. No one can snatch him from our clutches. The old man
can cajole him with Alice's wish that he should join the family
party. That'll fetch him. Fool! that he did not make the running
while she was at his side. The 'Sister' business is always a rank
failure. But he has made me a millionaire for life."
Arthur Ferris had no pity for the man whose life secrets he
had sapped in those four long years of treason to friendship. He
recalled with a secret complacence the steps which had led him,
bit by bit, into Hugh Worthington's confidence, through the frank
disclosures of Clayton.
And so, fortified by the single-hearted man's intimate relations
with the Detroit household, Arthur Ferris had taken up every thread
as it slipped through Clayton's busy fingers.
The knowledge that he would enjoy Randall Clayton's real patrimony;
that he had stolen a charming wife from the man who was bound by
an unearned gratitude to Worthington, made this hour of triumph a
most delicious one.
"Old Hugh needed me; he needed a man who would be a safe intermediary
with Durham; one who was a Safe Deposit for both senator and
"Now I hold every trump in life, and Clayton, the dolt, has thrown
away his fortune and made mine."
Then the thin-lipped lawyer recalled Balzac's remark, "One, in
order to succeed, must either cut one's way through life like a
sword, or glide through the world quietly like a pestilence."
"I'll let Hugh use the sword," he laughed, as he enjoyed his
well-warmed Chamberton. "I am beyond all the storms of Fate now.
"What more could I desire? On the road to a million, a charming girl
wife, one whom I can mould like clay, and Durham and Worthington
can easily send me to Congress." He saw the Senate chamber opening
to him, through the rosy light of the wooing Burgundy.
And again his eye sought the telegrams. "Not a word to alter," and
he smiled as he read.
"Palace Hotel, Tacoma:--
"A quiet election. All arranged. New officers published to-morrow.
Telegraph Clayton to meet you at Cheyenne for conference. Have Alice
join. Suggest month's vacation. He is irritable and suspicious.
Full code telegrams to you at Cheyenne. Will wait here until you
have met him and disposed of his case."
Ferris had added a key-word, which no one would suspect meant
"Imminent danger," and signed an alias known to Hugh Worthington
But to Randall Clayton his Judas words of brotherly cordiality were
as frank and open as the unsuspecting nature of the defrauded man
The unhappy Clayton was troubled at heart as he opened this yellow
paper, livid with its living lie, as he waited aimlessly at his
rooms for some tidings from Emil Einstein, whose long absence had
In the lonely rooms, with his eyes fixed on Irma Gluyas' superb
artist proof, Clayton gave himself easily up to Ferris' crafty
He had already repented the violent quarrel. "This marriage may
be a mere rumor," he mused. "Jack Witherspoon must make his words
good when he comes."
He had already half determined to frankly meet Hugh Worthington
with a demand for a clearing up of the whole mystery of his youthful
The telegram from Jersey City disarmed all his resentment. It was
"Dear Old Boy: Forget hasty words. Am tired with travel; worn out.
Remember the old friendship. Stay in our rooms. Will return in
three days. You shall choose your way to arrange with Worthington.
If you wish to stay on here, I'll telegraph jointly with you. Meet
me at dinner Monday night, Century Club."
When he had read the last words, "Answer, Lafayette House,
Philadelphia," Randall Clayton went out into the early evening
and listlessly dispatched the words, "All right. Will stay on as
requested," and then he slowly returned to his rooms. On his return
he found Emil Einstein awaiting him before his door.
Clayton's beating heart told him that the unusual had happened.
"Speak! What is it?" cried the half-crazed lover. And the boy then
hurriedly told him of his late return to the office, after executing
many errands for the absent Ferris.
"There was a woman--a lady," hesitated Einstein, "trying to find
your office. The elevator man told her that you had gone. She only
spoke a little English, and, as I speak German, I tried to keep
"She dared not stay!" almost shouted Clayton.
"She left word your friend is very ill, and that she cannot leave
her. You cannot go there to-night, but the lady may come back
to-morrow morning for you if anything happens. She was very much
"And you?"--demanded Clayton, grasping the boy's arm. "Why did you
not bring her here?"
"She could not stay. She had waited a long time before I came back.
And I told her it was a half-holiday to-morrow, the three-days'
holiday coming on"--
"Would you know her again?" anxiously demanded Clayton.
"Certainly," murmured the sordid liar, speaking the truth for once.
"Describe her," hastily ordered the excited man. And Master Emil
Einstein gave a not too glowing description of the charms of his
"Listen," said the half-demented Clayton. "You must watch all
to-morrow morning, down below, upon the sidewalk, and around the
"If that lady comes, just detain her down there, and I will join
her at once. Not a word to a living soul. Swear that you'll keep
this secret, and I'll make your fortune yet."
"I swear on my life," said the startled boy, frightened at the
ghastly pallor of Clayton's face.
He hastened away, leaving the cashier disturbed at his last disclosure.
"I forgot to say that she fears they may move your friend to-night,
some place, God knows where: perhaps to some hospital, and then,
of course, she couldn't come."
Randall Clayton sank into a chair with a smothered groan. For the
one haunting fear of his last three months was proving true. Here was
the separation from Irma Gluyas, and on the verge of his fortune.
"My God! It is terrible," he cried. He waited until the boy had
"He must not know. One false step now would ruin all," thought
Clayton. "My love for Irma once suspected, and she would be spirited
off to Europe or lose her artistic future. If she were cast out,
I have nothing to offer yet, nothing but castles in Spain."
But the lad, hidden in a dark doorway, was greedily counting the
loose bills which Clayton had hastily thrust into his hand. "Paid
for not giving away my own mother's secrets," the boy laughed
viciously. "The old girl is safe, but what the devil is she up
to?" He decided that he would cautiously watch over Clayton, but
he feared to report this last entanglement to Fritz Braun, whose
gripsack and office luggage he was to remove from the pharmacy.
Before Einstein had reached the pharmacy, driven on by a mad unrest,
Randall Clayton threw on a loose top coat, slipped a loaded pistol
in his pocket, and then, hailing the first empty carriage, dashed
down to the Brooklyn Bridge. It was only by taking up his course
on the evening of the storm, on foot, that the restless lover could
make his way over to the corner where the pretentious newness of
the "Valkyrie" building shamed the rich old mansion sheltered under
At the Magdal Pharmacy, Mr. Fritz Braun suspended his last looking
over his private desk, just long enough to whisper a few final
directions to Emil Einstein. The boy had nothing special to report.
But the crafty pharmacist well knew how to reach the softest spot
of the young Hebrew's indurated heart.
"See here," he said, as he drew the boy into a dark corner. "After
all said and done, your mother is the only human being in the world
that I trust. For Leah has always been true to me. I'm getting
a bit old. I'm going to settle down after I've made this trip. If
you watch my interests while I'm away, your mother may have a home
for life with me, in charge of my home; and you, you young rascal,
I'll push your fortune. So, a shut mouth; look out and don't babble
to Lilienthal. He is a chatterer. Timmins, here, is a drunken
loafer, and will burn the block up some night, but I need him a
little while yet.
"I may even give you this place, and set you up with a good
pharmacist, if I can find a man over there. Timmins can show him
the secret side of the business; then, we can throw this London
cockney out, and you'll find Magdal's to be a gold mill. I shall
have something else to do, my boy. Now, be off with my traps."
"Take them to 192 Layte Street. Ring the front bell three times;
you'll find your mother there. Give her the traps, but do not enter
the house. She will tell you anything I wish to-morrow; and, so,
remember I can make your fortune. Obey your mother; there's one
thing about her, she has got some head and heart." The boy hastened
away on his quest.
Fritz Braun, left alone, stooped and picked up a little piece of
paper which had fluttered down on the floor at his feet. He was
careful to "leave no black plume as a token."
And now there was not a vestige left of his past nefarious traffic.
"Timmins can do no harm now," sneeringly laughed Fritz Braun. "For
I carry these things in my head, and he must trust to some member of
the craft. What blockheads these fat-witted English practitioners
Braun's hollow laugh echoed from behind the flowing false beard,
as he read over the faded prescriptions he had idly picked up. It
was a powerful agent of evil--a tool of the deadly thug.
"By God! I may need this old friend. How did I come to forget it?
It may purchase my safety, or else give some poor devil peace and
"My last appearance on any stage," he muttered, as his hands were
soon busied with the familiar phials around him. "I'll have a few
doses of this 'Sinner's Friend' with me," he muttered. "Who knows
where I may not need it. It is the only paralyzer."
Seizing a three-ounce flask, he cast aside his blue goggles for
a moment as he measured his ingredients. One by one he carefully
added them, until the small bottle was filled with a colorless
He read the innocent-looking scrawl a last time, and then burned
it at a fluttering gas jet. The words seemed burned in upon his
brain. His practiced glance ran over the bottles on the shelves
ranged there like soldiers in their silent ranks. His eye gleamed
vindictively as he murmured: "First, my old friend chloral hydrate--there
you are. Now, your reliable brother, chloroform"--He shook up the
growing mixture with a secret pride. "Just the right amount of
muriate codine"--There was a pause, as the codine dissolved with
the other ingredients. "And now," he gaily murmured, "distilled
water," the last element needed to bind these together as a water
of death. It is a royal secret of the rogue's pharmacy--the best
garment for a flitting soul, tasteless and painless.
"Warranted to fit the largest man or the smallest boy," laughed
the scoundrel, replacing his goggles, as he fitted a ground-glass
stopper tightly to the flask. "I am not particularly anxious to be
caught with this on me. It would mean two to five years of 'voluntary
assistance' to the State at Sing Sing. But one little well-regulated
dose of this soothing charm, and the strongest man drops helpless
at my feet."
Braun slipped it in an inner pocket, and passed out, with a careless
nod to the overjoyed Timmins. "Remember, Lilienthal is your only
adviser. Six months from now, I'll put a new life into things here."
When Braun had disappeared, Ben Timmins drained a brandy and soda
to his eternal discomfiture. "'Ere's 'oping the bloomin' ship
founders with the old beggar," growled the Londoner, who had noted
Braun sweep away the last thirty dollars in the till. "'E might
have left me a few pennies."
It was ten o'clock when Randall Clayton, pacing up and down the
street, nervously eying the darkened front door of 192 Layte Street,
saw a lad nimbly dart up the front steps, touch a bell-push, and
then vanish in a few moments, as the door closed. Ciayton could
only distinguish vaguely the bundles with which the boy had been
loaded down. He lingered there in agony, afraid to approach that
But, a half-hour later, a portly man, in a light-colored coat,
with easy leisure, strolling up the steps, inserted a latch-key,
and the baffled lover could only see that the hallway was dark,
with one half-turned-up gas jet.
Clayton cautiously explored the rear of the house, finding an
alleyway suitable for unloading the bulky wares of the "Valkyrie"
A broad flight of steps led down to the cellarway of the "Valkyrie,"
and a similar one to the basement of the old mansion.
"The basement is used for business storage, evidently," mused the
puzzled Clayton; but even with his brief experience of the night
before, he could tell that the great rear drawing-room and library
were the rooms into which he had borne the senseless form of the
woman he madly loved. Through a chink of the enamelled white shutters
a faint pencil of light shone out in the gloomy darkness.
"Good God!" he groaned, "I would give my life to be within that
room." For his heart told him that Irma Gluyas lay helpless within
there, and he only wandered away at midnight, when a stray policeman
suspiciously eyed him lingering in the alley.
"Einstein is my only hope," he despairingly cried, as he wandered
back to the bridge and sought his lonely rooms. The silky-gray
dawn found him still dressed, lying on a chair, with his eyes fixed
upon the picture, the first sight of which had been the beginning
of his fevered dream.
And then, suddenly recalling himself, he put out the flaring lights,
bathed his throbbing temples, and went out to seek an early-opening
coffee-shop. "I must be myself to-day," he muttered, after the
drowsy waiter had forced some breakfast upon him.
"For the three-days' holiday begins at noon, and I shall be free
then. I must do my bank business alone, and keep Einstein on the
By sheer force of habit, he had opened the damp morning--paper
thrust upon the swell customer.
"Some young fly by night, throwing his money and his life away,"
mused the experienced Celtic attendant. "Give me the Tenderloin
for fools. And there's a new crop every year!"
Suddenly Randall Clayton started. There was the confirmation of Jack
Witherspoon's prophetic warnings. The words "Important Financial
Changes" met his eye, with the announcement of the "cut and dried"
election of the Western Trading Company. "So, Mr. Arthur Ferris,
you are the new vice-president, and Mr. Hugh Worthington the
managing director." He saw how he had been duped.
Throwing a few coins on the table, he sped homeward and made a
careful toilet. "Jack will be here in three days, now! I will meet
them and beat them at their own game. Craft for craft, and I can
wait. For Irma's sake!"
On his way to the office for the first time he steadied his nerve
with the bar-keeper's aid. The blood bounded in his pulses under
the unaccustomed stimulant.
He was devil-may-care in his manner as he listlessly turned over his
morning mail, thrusting his pistol back into the bank portmanteau. The
sight of the familiar case recalled to him his dangerous position.
"I must play my policy game softly now," he mused. "Whatever
happens, I must meet Ferris smoothly; but once that Jack Witherspoon
is safely out of town to the West, I'll have him face up old Hugh.
It's either life with Irma, or death without her!"
Mechanically carrying on his routine, he opened his mail, after
exchanging a few careless words with Somers over the "new deal"
in the company's management.
"I shall get your bank deposits ready early," kindly said old
Somers. "I'm glad to see you looking better. I go away at noon
for the three-days' holiday. You can keep the bank-book, and we
can get the exchange Tuesday at noon.
"I will finish my trial balance papers while I'm up at Greenwich.
I'm only a stray few cents out."
And then Ralph Somers told Clayton of the month's gratuity. "I
guess I'll go in for a gay old Fourth!" cheerfully said Clayton,
who picked up a telegram just brought in by a boy.
His face softened strangely as he read words which waked all the
happy memories of his lonely boyhood.
Here, at last, vas a message from the woman who had been the
"Little Sister" of the few bright years of his shaded life. And
her truthful, girlish face rose up before him again, as he read
the words which touched his wavering heart. The dispatch was from
Hugh Worthington at Tacoma, and the old fox had well chosen the
only way to disarm Clayton's watchful suspicions.
The words seemed frank enough, and Randall Clayton's fingers
trembled with a certain pleasurable thrill as he read.
"She still thinks of me, poor Little Sister, after all these
years of estrangement. Perhaps only the greed of gold lies behind
the whole thing. He seized a telegraph blank and studied over his
"What shall I wire to him?" the puzzled man vainly demanded. He
tried to mark out the false and true between the words of father
and daughter. It all seemed fair enough in a way, according to
their different natures.
"Tacoma, July 2, 1897.
"Come at once to Cheyenne. Am leaving here to join you. Alice wishes
to see you particularly before she sails for Japan. Take a month's
leave. Turn your cash business over to Secretary Edson. You can
go back to Pacific Coast with me after seeing our ranches. If
you don't like assignment out West, you can go back to New York.
Telegraph me to Cheyenne date of your arrival, and also answer
Alice. Palace Hotel, Tacoma. Don't fail. Imperative."
Randall Clayton was left without lights to guide. "By Heavens!" he
cried. "Jack has surely been deceived as to the marriage. I must
answer Hugh. I dare not leave Alice without an answer. And Jack
only three days away!"
After a half-hour's study he sprang from his chair.
"Eureka!" he muttered. "There's Doctor Billy Atwater, the only
man I know of Jack Witherspoon's college fraternity, and of my own
Chapter here. I can have him meet Jack at the steamer and give him
a sealed letter to follow me on to Cheyenne. I can telegraph Jack
at Detroit. Arthur Ferris will be busied here."
"Ringing a bell, he sent a boy up town to his stable to order
a carriage to wait for him at the corner of Fourteenth Street and
University Place. When I go to the bank I can drive up and be sure
to catch him at his office. He may be going off for a three-days'
holiday, also. I must not miss him."
Then he resolutely traced his telegram accepting Hugh Worthington's
offer, and penned a few lines to "Miss Alice." "What a sham our
modern plutocratic life is," bitterly murmured Clayton. "Is it
really Miss or Mrs.? Where does the truth lie? I'll stake my life
that Alice has not deceived me!"
The hoodwinked Clayton never knew of the fierce secret battle at
Tacoma, in which Arthur Ferris had flatly refused to come East and
make the great quiet coup de finance until Worthington had agreed
to a private ceremony before his departure. "Give what reasons
you wish to Alice; you can even take her over to Japan and back
as Miss Worthington; but I will be made safe, or I'll not turn the
cards for you."
"Very good, then," growled old Worthington, to whom Senator Durham's
friendship was the one factor of success. "You put Durham into our
partnership; I my daughter; but she remains Alice Worthington, and
does not leave my side until you have brought Durham into line on
the Inter-State Commerce. Then I've got my senatorial partner, and
you your wife."
"Yes, and I am only sure of my life position when the marriage
has taken place," placidly replied Ferris. "I care not for any
publicity, but I know you will deal fairly with your daughter's
husband. Then we can trust each other, for we must!"
It had been even so, and Arthur Ferris left his girl wife, still
a stranger to him, in the care of the father who demanded the New
York deal with the senatorial ally as the price of the strangely
deferred honeymoon joys.
The girl bride, with a tranquil heart, awaited the return of
Ferris for the Japanese voyage which was to be a married lovers'
wandering in fairyland. She had taken the dross of Ferris' heart
for minted gold, led on by a father's lure.
Clayton's words were laconic, but his faith went with them. To the
millionaire he telegraphed:
"Will start for Cheyenne Monday. Must go to Bay Ridge to see Edson.
Will telegraph arrival from Omaha."
But to Miss Alice Worthington, Palace Hotel, Tacoma, he dispatched:
"I am coming West, but only to see you, after many years. Your wish
is my law. You are still my 'Little Sister,' and I am, as of old,
These telegrams copied in his manifold book, into which he had
carelessly thrust Hugh's dispatch, he picked up a letter in Arthur
Ferris' well-known hand-writing.
It seemed to be a few frank words following his telegram, and was
dated from Jersey City. Randall Clayton's brow grew grave as he
followed these seemingly candid lines:
"We parted in anger, old chum and comrade. I cannot tell you all
that I hear in gossip as a lawyer or as Worthington's special agent.
You should try and yield to Hugh's whims. He is old, and has vast
plans afoot. I can now safely explain his recent changes. I simply
staid away from the annual election to prevent jealousy among our
old employees. Hugh means as well by you as he does by me. He is
now the master of the Trading Company. Meet him, if he sends for
you, or writes you, in a yielding spirit. I tell you this because,
in my absence, he has had reports of your changed life. The Fidelity
Company fear that you are either speculating or gambling. They
have reported your altered behavior. Now, all this can be cleared
up. If you have any little private side to your life, confide in
me. I can square all with Hugh. He only wished to get you out West
to break off any possible entanglement. You are not in Wall Street,
are you? It is a seething hell. Now, forgive, forget; meet me
frankly at the Century for dinner, and I may be able to make your
fortune and save your friendship. Burn this; don't answer, even
by wire, as I shall be swinging around by Pittsburg. Wade is your
only critic. He wants the place for his nephew, Tom. We can't blame
him. Blood is thicker than water, after all; but we'll beat him at
his own game. Rely on me till death."
"This man is either a true friend or else the damnedest villain
alive," muttered Clayton, as he tore the letter into a thousand
fragments. "In two weeks I will know all. The game is made; once
that Jack Witherspoon faces my quondam guardian, I will soon know
whether I am to be prince or pauper."
It only lacked a quarter of eleven when the silver-haired Somers
called Randall Clayton into his wire-screened den, and opened the
door of the high-walled private compartment with its ground-glass
"Here's your deposit, an unusually large one, Mr. Clayton," murmured
Somers, awed by the concrete wealth lying before him. "You can run
over the cheques. The money I will give you an invoice tag for
a clean one hundred and fifty thousand. The cheques go nearly a
"Here's the list and tag total; they are all endorsed.
"Just have the whole put on our book as cash and cheque deposit. I
must be off! By the way, should you not take a man with you to-day?"
"I have a carriage below," quietly said Clayton, "so I'm all right.
No one will know what's in my bag. I will drive back and put the
book in my own safe. It may be late when I do, as there'll be a
hundred heavy depositors at the Astor to-day. No one wants to keep
funds locked up three days."
Sweeping the bundled bills into the portmanteau, and then locking
up the great wallet of cheques, Randall Clayton absently shook
hands with the fidgety old accountant, now eager for his leave.
"Must catch my train. Take care of yourself," was Somers' hearty
adieu, as he vanished with his ten-year-old umbrella in hand.
Clayton walked across the hall, with the concealed fortune locked
in the travelling bag, and then remembered his pistol thrown into
his desk drawer.
He had just slipped it in his pocket when Emil Einstein glided
into the room.
"Come down," he eagerly whispered, "She's there,--and--there's some
bad news, I fear."
Never waiting for the elevator, Clayton grasped his hat, hastily
donning his top-coat, and snatching the bag, cried, "Lock up my
desk and keep my keys till I come back. Don't leave; remember!"
Everything but Irma Gluyas faded from the excited lover's mind as
he saw the portly form of Madam Raffoni lingering in the darkened
hallway of the ground-floor entrance.
There were tears in the woman's eyes as she sobbed, "She is dying!
Kommen sie schnell!"
The golden daylight turned to darkness before Clayton's eyes, as
he reeled and staggered.
Then, a mental flash of hope allured him.
"Where?" he hoarsely cried. The woman's jargon made plain that the
beautiful singer still lay in the darkened rooms whither his loving
arms had borne her.
"The carriage, yes; my God, we must hurry!" was Clayton's first
returning thought; and then, motioning to the woman to follow, the
cashier darted along Fourteenth Street.
He was already within the vehicle when Leah Einstein timidly
"To the Fulton Ferry. Hurry!" called out the excited Clayton, as
the burly policeman drove away a knot of "extra"-peddling urchins.
"I can easily reach the bank by two o'clock; they never shut the side
doors till three," murmured Clayton, as his eyes rested upon the
Russia-leather portmanteau. He instinctively gripped his revolver.
It was all right.
And then, with a sinking heart, he essayed to gain some connected
story of the Magyar songbird's grave peril.
But, the woman sobbing there was all too overcome for a connected
There was only death in the air--there was the open grave yawning
for the woman he loved, and the brightness had gone out of Randall
Clayton's life forever when, with white lips, he asked himself,
"Will we be in time? Irma! My God! Irma, my own darling!"
He had only time to dismiss the carriage and drag Madame Raffoni
on the ferry-boat when the chains barred out a score of the rushing
Twenty minutes later, his heart beating a funeral knell, Randall
Clayton, portmanteau in hand, passed within the portals of the old
brownstone mansion. As the woman softly closed the door, which she
had opened with a pass-key, she laid her finger on her lip.
Then Clayton, on tip-toe, stole softly after her into the darkened
chamber where a white-robed form lay motionless on the great canopied
THE STRANGE TUG'S VOYAGE.
"Dead, dead, my darling!" almost shrieked Randall Clayton as he cast
himself down on his knees at the side of the woman whose faintly
fluttering eyelids alone told of the vital spark of life. The dark
eyes of Madame Raffoni gleamed pityingly as she drew the young man,
almost by force, away.
With an agony of sudden terror she pointed to the hallway, and laid
her finger upon her lip. And then, in a hoarse whisper, the woman
told, in her patois, broken with sobs, of the alternate spells
of fainting and exhaustion which had brought Irma Gluyas nigh to
The darkened rooms were closed, and the air redolent of the pungent
narcotic drugs of the sickroom. Utterly unmanned, Randolph Clayton
stole back to the old drawing-room, whose rich gilding and frescoed
beauties mocked the pale, silent face lying there below.
Forgetting all prudence, he covered the limp, helpless hand with
burning kisses, gazing into the drooping eyes where he would fain
call back a glance of life and love. In this supreme moment she
belonged only to him, by right of his loyal love. In the arched
doorway of the library stood the timid woman messenger with her
hands pressed to her panting bosom.
Suddenly Irma Gluyas opened her eyes and a faint murmur broke the
"Go, go; for God's sake. They must not find you here. Go! FOR YOUR
LIFE!" Her head fell back, but her fingers were closed upon his
hand in a despairing clutch. Then Randall Clayton staggered to the
library window for breath of air.
His heart was beating wildly. Was this the end of all. Life seemed
to have fled those beloved eyes; he could see Irma's motionless
form lying there, the very apotheosis of Love. He threw himself in
a chair, and his pent-up nature gave way at last.
Mechanically he swallowed the glass of wine handed him by the watchful
Leah, and yet before she had stolen behind a curtained alcove the
room seemed to whirl around him.
He made a last desperate effort to rise, but reeled around unsteadily
and then fell prone upon the tufted carpet. A danger signal had
aroused him at last, the sliding of heavy doors which cut off the
room where the Magyar witch lay now helpless in the stupor of the
criminal's deadliest narcotic. And the frightened Leah Einstein
fled away upstairs. She only divined Fritz Braun's purpose as an
intended robbery, or some audacious blackmail. Murder had never
entered her mind!
The strong man lying there upon the floor, with glazing eyes, saw
in his last gasps a wolfish face lit up with the fires of hate
bending over him. Clayton struggled to draw the pistol which had
been his faithful guardian of years.
One last flush of expiring reason showed him his life, honor, and
a future betrayed into the hands of nameless thugs.
But there were sinews of iron in the arm of his unknown assailant
now throttling him. A hand of steel grasped his relaxing wrist and
the weapon was hurled far away.
Standing there, a triumphant Moloch, the unmasked Hugo Landor
watched the last struggles of the man relapsed into a helpless
insensibility. "Fool, the powder in those cartridges was drawn
weeks ago," muttered "August Meyer," as he growled, "This first!"
He seized upon the bank portmanteau and then disappeared for
a moment. Darting back, he dragged the prostrate form of Randall
Clayton out from the corner where it lay.
With one mighty effort he raised the heavy body and stealthily
descended the stairway into the long-unused basement.
Alone, in the darkened horrors of that grewsome cellar, the
triumphant criminal hastened to strip the body of the man whom he
had lured to a horrible death.
The deadly poison in the drugged wine had killed the unfortunate
lover almost instantly.
Braun hastened up the stairway with the plunder of the corpse,
and yet he paused a moment as three light taps resounded upon the
closed folding doors. "She is sound asleep; I cannot waken her
now," whispered Leah Einstein. "Then help me to carry her upstairs.
You must not leave her for an instant till I am done."
Meyer sprang into the room, and in five minutes returned with a
grin upon his hardened face. "Leah is safely locked in the second
story. Fear will keep her mouth shut, and she can quiet the other
The temporary eclipse of the gambling-rooms gave the disguised
criminal an opportunity to work in perfect safety.
With lightning rapidity he had examined all the spoil of his victim's
pockets. A horrid silence had settled down over the deserted old
In his stocking feet the scoundrel stole down-stairs, and there
toiled alone, with the inanimate thing, once a stalwart man, lying
there helpless and prone in death before him.
"The chloroform finished him!" muttered Meyer, as he sought fresh
air from an open grating leading into a sunken window opening. It
was in the old unused laundry-room that "Braun, the specialist,"
hastily burned all Clayton's clothing in a long-idle furnace.
"His hat and shoes can go in with my trash; the pistol I can drop
overboard," murmured the cowardly wretch. He cast a callous glance
now and then at the body of his victim, cut off in the flower of
life and hope.
"No body marks, no tell-tale finger rings; that's good," the crafty
villain mused. "He is stone dead now; he will need no watching,"
was the brute's final verdict.
And then he stole cat-like up the stairs to gloat over the contents
of the bank portmanteau. He hastily transferred the ill-gotten
fortune to a heavy black valise and, cutting the rifled portmanteau
in pieces, he sought the furnace-room once more.
There was no sound in the rooms above as the villain toiled on,
but Leah Einstein, closeted there with the drugged woman who had
been used as a fatal decoy, could hear the sound of hammering below.
She fancied that Braun was preparing to escape, having removed
the dazed victim of the knock-out drops by the help of confederates
from the saloon.
It was nearing sunset when Fritz Braun himself brought food and
wine to his frightened accomplice.
He cast a searching glance upon the sleeping beauty and then said
roughly: "Eat and drink. You can surely trust me. The job's done.
The poor fool is miles away now, in a safe place."
But Leah Einstein's pallid lips were silent. She was awed into
a stupor by the haunting presence of an unknown majesty. For the
King of Terrors ruled in the sickening atmosphere of the deserted
mansion house, and Leah feared only for herself now! Braun saw the
woman's helpless terror and so left her alone with her helpless
charge. "I won't need the useless fool to help me," he mused as he
A horrible suggestion seized upon him. "Why don't I make sure of
her?" In a few moments his nerve returned.
"She saw nothing. She knows nothing. She thinks I only robbed him,
and she has a neck to save. She shall come to me--over there. But
Irma--she follows her lover, by and by."
It was nine o'clock, the streets were dark and dismal, and a heavy
rain was falling, when a carriage drew up before No. 192 Layte
The driver was huddled up in his oilskins and scarcely glanced
toward the muffled form of the woman who was tenderly assisted into
the vehicle by the sturdy Leah and her male companion.
As the door closed, Fritz Braun sharply gave the driver his last
injunction. "Follow the express wagon down to Atlantic Basin. I
will ride on it."
Standing on the steps, Braun saw the hackman drive a few doors
away into the shadows of the neighboring houses and halt awaiting
the baggage team. He tightly locked the door on the inside.
"Lucky the front shop was closed for the holidays," he mused as
he made a last examination of the rooms above and below. There was
nothing left to betray him.
"Leah is a cunning one," he gleefully said, as he slipped on the
well-remembered brown top coat of the "pharmacist," and adjusted
anew his false beard and goggles. He felt for Clayton's useless
pistol and placed it in his outside pocket.
"Overboard you go, my friend, as soon as I reach the dock." Then
seizing his black valise, he passed out of the cellar entrance in
the rear and clambered upon the high seat of the great luggage van.
"Where to?" gruffly demanded the waiting driver, who, with his
burly mate, was drenched with rain.
"To the Atlantic Basin," sharply said Braun. "I've an extra ten
dollars in my pocket for you. It's a wild night." His only task
now was to rid himself of the stripped body of his victim, and he
had acted with a devilish ingenuity of forethought.
Then, turning the corner of the "Valkyrie," Fritz Braun led the
way along to where a snub-nosed tug lay with her hissing steam
escaping, as she tossed up and down on the frothy waves of the
The ringing of bells in the engine-room, the heavy trampling of
feet, aroused the helpless, half-dazed Irma Gluyas, as Fritz Braun
tenderly ordered the men to bear her into the little cabin.
"Give her a spoonful of this mixture," significantly said Braun,
"I must look out for the luggage."
With a delighted grin, the two expressmen received Fritz Braun's
"Happy voyage, boss," they screamed, as the stout little vessel
twisted around on her hawser and moved out on the blackened waters,
throwing the yeasty spray high up with the saucy thrusts of her
"Never mind that old trunk," cried Braun, as the sailors busied
themselves with throwing tarpaulins over the traveller's half dozen
It was a heavy package left dangerously near the gunwale of the
boat. Mr. Fritz Braun was in a fever of good humor. He had dropped
overboard something which glittered a moment as it disappeared under
the black surges of the freshening waves. The faithless pistol of
the dead cashier now lay twenty fathoms under the dark tide.
While the tug's crew busied themselves with their duties and hastily
cast off the lines, the two women were crouching in the dingy cabin.
Fritz Braun, his cigar gleaming out a red defiance, watched the
light of the Battery glide by him. He had taken a deep draught of
brandy as a final libation to Fortune. "What fools those brewery
fellows are," chuckled Braun. "They imagined that I was only dodging
a few unwelcome legal papers."
"By Heavens! I have turned over a gold mine to them, and they won't
kick. If it had not been for my damned gambling craze I would have
had a cool hundred thousand more.
"And they will surely keep the secret of 192 Layte Street, for they
wish to run their own 'joint' there. All they want is silence, to
change it a little, and no police interference. They are bound to
play my game to save themselves from police interference."
The villain laughed aloud in his glee. "And Emil and Lilienthal,
even Timmins, know nothing. It has been a great stroke of nigger
luck. This fortune is safe. Now for the last touch."
He groped his way aft to where the cheap heavy-looking package lay
with one side balanced upon the rail. It was a huge coarse packing
trunk. The crew were busied in watching the light of the South
Ferry and avoiding the floats and tugs groaning along in front of
There was no one aft as the muscular scoundrel seized a handspike
and tilted the rough-looking packing trunk overboard. It sank
instantly, though Braun started as he fancied he heard a crash.
"If the propeller struck it, no matter," he growled. "There's a
hundred pounds of broken stairway irons lashed on him. And I will
soon be thousands of miles away."
He shook the rain off like a burly water dog as he glanced in at
the cabin window of the tug. There was Irma Gluyas, lying sleeping
peacefully, with her head upon Leah Einstein's lap.
"Safe enough," he muttered, as he sheltered himself under the
overhanging deck roof.
But as the murderer's eye fell on the black valise, he smiled with
an infernal glee. "There it is landed--this prize--after months!
"And they will think that the fool cleared out with it. Thank God!
Steward Heinrichs is on the 'Mesopotamia.' He will look out for
us; but if he knew what was in that valise I'd have to fight for
The tug now swung around into the North River, and the driving
spray forced the absconding scoundrel into the Captain's little
stateroom. "How long now?" shouted Braun, in the whistling tempest.
"I'll have you alongside the 'Mesopotamia' in twenty minutes,"
answered the skipper." The 'Falcon' is the fastest tug on the
He pushed out a black bottle, which Braun, in his character of
"jovial tourist," liberally sampled. "You take an expensive way of
getting to Hoboken," smilingly said Captain Jake Ashcroft. "Ah! My
wife has been very ill since the loss of our child," was Braun's
ready response. "So feeble that I did not dare to drag her across
New York. At least, she has some comfort in this way. Poor thing!
She is fast asleep! We have to give her sedatives; her nerves are
simply wrecked. I hope that a couple of years abroad will restore
Braun handed the Captain fifty dollars. "I have a five for your
crew," he said, good humoredly, "if we make a neat landing alongside."
It was eleven o'clock when the stout tug ran alongside the
'Mesopotamia.' The old ex-liner was an "occasional" now, and all
ready to depart for Stettin.
On Braun's hail, a burly chief steward descended the companionway,
with a half dozen assistants.
In the pelting rain, Irma Gluyas, an unresisting bundle, was safely
borne by willing arms to the bridal stateroom of the huge steamer,
once the pride of the German merchant navy.
The luggage was hastily hoisted on board, and Mr. August Meyer
heartily shook the Captain's hand. "Here's the men's beer money.
It has been a famous voyage," said the happy villain, as he personally
examined the tug's cabin.
"Nothing left! So good-bye to you!" And away churned the tug,
dashing out into the midnight darkness, the red light gleaming like
the eye of some angry sea monster.
In a couple of hours the creaking donkey-engines ceased their rattle,
and Mr. August Meyer bounded up the gang-plank of the "Mesopotamia."
A burly Hoboken hotel-keeper stood waving the solitary adieu to
the victorious murderer.
They had seen Leah Einstein depart for New York City, her velvety
eyes glistening with joy, for Braun had, in the seclusion of the
Hoboken Hotel, handed her three five-hundred-dollar bills.
A handful of small change was tossed to her as a last offering.
"Remember, Leah," whispered Braun. "The driver is paid, drink money
and all. Let him set you down on Fourth Avenue. Get home, dream
of me and of our happy meeting next spring. You have the address.
Never forget it. Don't even give it to the boy. And never trust it
"I'll not forget," cried the frightened woman, as she clung to
him in her frenzied "Good bye. You'll take care of me!" "For your
whole life," answered Braun. "You need me, and I need you. I'll
soon get rid of this baby-faced fool! She actually loved that
fellow, damn him! But she will remember nothing. She was too well
doped. The knock-out drops muddled her; but he went down like
a log. And he is disposed of! All you have to do is to keep your
mouth shut forever. I will make you rich."
As Leah clung to her partner in crime, Fritz Braun gave her
a handful of gold--his last peace offering. "Never go back again
to Brooklyn," he hoarsely whispered. "Remember, and keep ready to
come to me."
Braun stood alone on the deck of the "Mesopotamia" as the huge
bulk slowly swung around and gathered headway. The yellow lights
of Hoboken gleamed out faintly to the right, and to the left New
York's irregular skyline was lit up with a lurid reflected glow.
But he shuddered as he saw the airy line of the arch of Brooklyn
Bridge and the gleaming beacons below, where vice and virtue,
craft and candor, stupid drudge and lazy child of luxury had all
forgotten the cares of the weary day.
He started in alarm as the hoarse siren of the "Mesopotamia"
screamed out its bellowing note of departure.
A spasm of rage shook his trembling frame. He challenged some dark
spectre seemingly floating on the midnight winds. "Down, down," he
growled. "You are gone forever, under the black waters. Never to
rise, and there's not a weak joint in my armor. I defy the very
devil himself! With Heinrich's help I can evade all customs' search
at Stettin; a few thalers will fix that. The whole New York lot
are powerless; and as for Leah, poor devil, love will keep her
faithful, fear will lock her tongue, even if she wished to speak."
Stealing down the stairs, he went into Irma Gluyas' superb room. A
jaded stewardess sat watching faithfully over the sleeping woman.
He touched her arm. "I will fill your purse for you," he kindly
said. "See that my wife wants nothing. You must watch her like a
"She is sadly broken in health. Don't mind her babblings!" He
touched his forehead significantly.
He had already carefully bestowed his valise of treasure under the
cosy lounge berth by the great portholes, and his rugs and wraps
Leaving the ox-eyed woman there on watch, Fritz Braun hastened to
join the steward, an old friend of the days of the pharmacy and
its secret international smuggling trade. He had tossed his false
beard overboard and tied a sea-cap with ear-flaps upon his head.
"Just as well to drop 'Fritz Braun' forever now," he laughed. "'Mr.
August Meyer' has his passports in his pockets! So, here's for a
new life. I am born to a new name and safe, even in Germany."
It was only when Sandy Hook light was far astern that August Meyer
gave up the wild potations which even astounded Heinrichs. "One
doesn't go away on a vacation every day," joyfully cried August
Meyer. "One more bottle of the Frenchman's sparkling wine, and then
to turn in and wake far out on blue water!" The fool, safe in his
own conceit, forgot the curse of Cain branded upon him now. But
the vengeance of God was following him out on the dark waters!
The lonely gulls, screaming and soaring at daybreak, skimming the
waters of New York Bay, dipping and struggling over each bit of
flotsam, rested upon the fragments of a broken trunk floating idly
along upon the sunlit waters.
There was nothing to indicate the previous contents of the package
which had been shattered by the screw of a passing vessel; there
was neither mark nor token of its past history.
And so it floated idly up and down, borne hither and thither by
the veering tides, while far below, on the ooze, the heavy irons
still weighted down the corpse of the man who had been lured to
his death by the noblest impulses of the human heart.
And the sun came gaily up, upon the day of repose, God's own
appointed day of rest, the glittering beams played upon the closed
windows of the stately old mansion, where nothing remained to
tell of a "deed without a name" save a heap of dead ashes in the
blackened grate of the laundry furnace. The pathway of the criminal
seemed covered to all mortal eyes.
The cautious patrons of the "Valkyrie," stealing in by the side
entrances, talked in whispers of the re-opening of the pool-room,
and the sleeping "blind tiger."
"Come around any evening next week, after the Fourth," was the message
given to the "safe" patrons, "and we will be happy to accommodate
There was no human being in the offices of the Western Trading
Company save the janitor, busy at his semi-annual clean-up, and the
Monday holiday approached with no suspicion of Randall Clayton's
"All New York" had hied "out of town" with its usual unpatriotic
snobbishness, and only the attendants of Mr. Randall Clayton's
rooms noted his absence.
"Singular young fellow," said the janitor to his sturdy wife.
"Comes and goes like a ghost; no friends, and has no life of his
own. Good-looking young fellow, too. Ought to have a wife and family
"It's the old story: hotel and flat life are crowding out the American
family. Men and women live on the single, and prey on each other.
One half are sharks, and the other half are their victims!"
But there were two persons in New York City who now feared to
approach each other. Emil Einstein, after a whispered conference
with his pale-faced mother in her shabby den on the East Side,
hastily called a wagon and transported all his slender effects
to the little room in rear of Magdal's Pharmacy, where the bogus
doctor had had his Sunday conferences with his bibulous patrons--the
regular "sick people"--sick of a thirst, beginning officially with
Saturday midnight and ending, providentially, on Monday morning.
Bob Timmins and Emil Einstein were already secret allies and the
Don Juans of a coterie of haphazard Sixth Avenue beauties. There
was a usefulness to both in the new alliance, and Einstein was
already the destined secret patron of the degraded Timmins.
"It's a good shelter for me," mused the adroit Hebrew, "but I'll
never tell him a word of the old man."
The parting between Leah and her hopeful son had been a wild access
of maternal tenderness. "You see, I've got to," growled the boy.
"You don't want to go to the chair, or get into Sing Sing, if this
fellow Clayton turns up a stiff. I don't know what the 'old man'
was up to.
"You do! And I don't ever want to! The only way we can meet is once
a week in the crowd around the Germania Theater on Astor Place.
"I'll come there afternoon or evening each Saturday, and hang around
till I see you. You can take a seat in the theater. I'll go up in
the gallery, and nobody will drop on us. If any one asks for me,
say I've gone away by myself to room. That I'm going to be married."
"And at the business?" timidly sobbed Leah. "Oh! I've got to stay
on there," the boy stoutly answered. "I know nothing; just keep a
shut mouth. There'll be hell to pay now. Remember, don't you ever
dare to look me up. If you should be sick, send word to Ben Timmins
at the Magdal Pharmacy. He will give me the message, and then I'll
find a safe way to see you. It's a life and death matter, remember."
The boy was eager to get away, for he feared his mother's plaint
for money. He knew nothing of the three five-hundred-dollar bills
now sewed up in the buxom Leah's corset.
"If they've buncoed him or done him up, there'll be a great run!
Holy Moses! The papers!" Emil Einstein fled away from the wrath
to come, and, even in his high-rolling evening hours with Timmins
that night he trembled.
For he had slyly gone to Mr. Randall Clayton's apartments. The
old janitor of the apartment-house met him with an anxious face.
"Here's Mr. Ferris, back from the West, hunting Mr. Clayton all
over town. They were to dine together. Where is he?"
The startled boy lied glibly, after the fashion of New York office
boys. "I don't know. Gone off on some trip, I suppose. He sent me
away on an errand yesterday, and I didn't get my week's salary.
I suppose that he has it. The pay clerk always gives it to him.
That's what I came for."
And then, whistling a rakish air, but with a nameless terror in his
heart, Emil Einstein hied himself off to Magdal's as a safe haven.
There was not a human being in all Manhattan who had seen Mr. Randall
Clayton on his hasty departure, save the smart-faced policeman,
Dennis McNerney, who had noted Clayton put the hesitating Leah
Einstein into the carriage on University Place.
"Something new for him," smilingly thought the policeman. "But he's
not beauty hunting; that's no charmer. Looks more like somebody's
And yet, shake it off as he would, the guardian of the peace recalled
that night that he had seen the woman lingering in conversation with
one of the Western Trading Company's office boys, as he made his
circuit of the block. "It is a little singular, this new departure."
With a smile he dismissed the suspense, murmuring "Young men all
have their little 'side issues.' Half New York would go crazy if
it knew what the other half does, and how they dodge each other,
God alone knows."
It was merry enough in Magdal's Pharmacy that Fourth of July night,
while Arthur Ferris, rage in his heart, at last descended at Robert
Wade's mansion and spent the evening with that sly old financier.
He dared not bring up Clayton's name, for Mr. Robert Wade was now
his inferior, and all ignorant of the dark bond between Worthington
and his unacknowledged son-in-law.
But in the pharmacy Einstein hazarded a test question. "Where's
the old man, Ben?"
"Took one of the cheap Saturday afternoon boats from Hoboken for
the other side," said Ben, handing Miss Daisy Vivian a "slight
"Go alone?" said the curious Emil.
"Certainly," smartly said Timmins. "He is too mean to pay a woman's
passage over the ferry, much less to the Old Country!"
Whereat, in the general laugh, the frightened Emil gladly observed
that Timmins really knew nothing.
They were both, however, on their guard when the oily face of Adolph
Lilienthal suddenly appeared at the soda fountain.
The picture-dealer's crafty face shone with a benevolent smile
as he said to Timmins, "I've mislaid Mr. Braun's address, the last
one he gave me!" The two young men exchanged startled glances, but
Timmins resolutely answered, "You must find it out for yourself.
The boss didn't even tell me what steamer he sailed on. I was to
see you about all."
And finally Adolph Lilienthal retired crestfallen. He dared not
admit to the clerk the quarrel which had left him in Braun's power.
"You'll have a letter surely, from him in a week or so," smoothly
answered the cockney, finally.
And then the owner of the Newport Art Gallery sadly departed.
"I am in his power," he musingly said. "He knows all about me; and
I nothing of him. He is a fiend, that fellow; and he will perhaps
keep clear of my friends on the other side. He is too smart to
commit himself." The only clue possible lay in watching the doltish
London clerk. And on his way home the picture-dealer gave that up
as hopeless. "Braun would never trust that fool. He's only a human
sponge, a confirmed soak."
Far out on the waters the "Mesopotamia" was plowing along, the blue
water curling merrily away from her bows. Mr. August Meyer, blithe
and light-hearted, gaily waved his cigar in answer to the lights
of a passing steamer bound homeward. "My compliments to Mr. Randall
Clayton!" he laughed, as he strode along the quarter deck, the only
cabin passenger. "We have given Fate a clean pair of heels. I defy
the Devil to touch me now. It was simply to hold the bag open.
That fool ran his head into it. The stroke of a lifetime!
"God! What a row there'll be; but it will take a month to find out
that he has not skipped. I will be in hiding; but to-morrow I must
face this Magyar fool. What shall I tell her?"
Mr. August Meyer tramped the deck alone until he hit upon a plausible
explanation of the awakening which would arouse the Magyar songbird's
gravest suspicions. "When she awakes and finds herself far out at
sea, there will be a devil of a racket, unless I can find a way
to control her. Should she denounce me, I might be detained by the
Captain, subject to an examination. And the money; it would have
to go overboard or else I would go to the electric chair."
He gave up his surest way of stopping the unruly woman's mouth. "No!"
he mused. "That would never do here--on shipboard. The steward,
old Heinrichs, is too smart for all that. I must get her away into
some lonely place abroad. For only in that way can I hide Clayton's
fate from her. They never reprint American news in Poland or Eastern
Prussia and Silesia. Perhaps Russia will hide me. First, to quiet
her; next, to make the money safe; lastly, to get rid of her."
But friendly devils aided him with adroit whispers. His brow was
unruffled as he bade his carousing chum, the steward, adieu at
midnight. The good ship dashed merrily on breasting the Atlantic
It was long after eight bells the next morning when Irma Gluyas
slowly opened her eyes and wonderingly gazed at her tyrant master
watching her with steadfast eyes. Neither spoke until the pale-faced
woman realized the onward motion of the sturdy old liner, and her
deep-set eyes had wandered over the nautical surroundings. Then
she buried her face in her hands and a flood of stormy sorrow shook
The acute-minded Fritz Braun knew that he had her at his mercy, for
the regulated doses of the narcotic had brought about a profound
reaction. Helplessness, coma, stupor, hallucination, dejection;
she had passed through every phase.
Turning her wan face toward him at last, the singer, in a hollow
voice, curtly said, "Explain all this!" There was a glance in
her recklessly brave eyes which made the soi disant August Meyer
relapse into a whining tenderness. "The high hand won't do here,"
he quickly resolved.
"You have been ill, my poor comrade," he tenderly said. "It's all
right now. That thunder-storm drove you frantic; you had a heart
seizure, and I had all I could do to get you away from New York
in secret." The woman eyed him doubtfully. "Whither are we going?"
she resolutely asked. "To any safe retreat in north eastern Europe
you choose," coaxingly replied Braun.
"Why?" demanded Irma, raising herself on one arm and pointing an
accusing finger. "If you have broken your oath, God forgive you!
It's your life or mine, then!"
"She does love him," was Braun's inward comment. "Stop your high
dramatic play-acting," soberly said Braun, holding a glass of
Tokayer to her lips. "Lilienthal was pounced down upon for smuggling
phenacetine. My own drug-store was searched. Thank God! none was
found there. He gave bail, the honest fellow managed to telegraph
me the agreed-on tip. I was watching over you in Brooklyn.
"I bundled you in a carriage, as you were so ill, caught a tug, ran
around to Hoboken, reached this ship just as it sailed! He knows
not who betrayed him, but the staunch old boy got five thousand
dollars to me, and the 'brotherhood' over here will take care of
"I will lie by in hiding for a season, and I can send the usual
goods in by Norwegian tramp steamers. I have a square friend on
board here, the head steward, one of the Baltic smuggling gang's
best men. So, my dear girl, look your prettiest when we land in
It was only by a grand effort of will that he faced her coldly
searching gaze. "And Clayton; what was your hidden purpose with
him, you devil?" she boldly said, but half convinced by his smooth
story. "I may as well let the cat out of the bag," laughed Braun,
taking a deep draught of the golden wine.
"I wanted to lure him over to Brooklyn and let him fool his time
away with you from Saturday to Tuesday morning. I intended you to
lead him a will-o'-the-wisp dance out on Long Island. For Lilienthal
and I had learned from the office boy that a quarter of a million
would be locked up in the Trading Company's vaults. only guarded
by the janitor and the special policeman. The janitor was with
us, that devil of a boy got us the combination, bit by bit; but
you went out of your head after the storm, and Lilienthal was half
betrayed by a drunken underling in our smuggling company. I had
to clear out. I could not leave you to starve. It's the fifth of
July, and we sailed the third. I lost the chance of my life!"
"You swear this is true!" murmured Irma. Braun bowed his head. "I
will only believe it," she said, "when I have a letter from Clayton.
I love him. I would die for him. God help him; he would marry me!"
She was astounded when Braun said, kindly, "All in due time. You
shall have your letter through Emil. The boy is one of our gang!"
THE LIGHTNING STROKE OF FATE.
While the "Mesopotamia" skimmed along over the crisp, curling seas
upon this sunlit Tuesday morning, she bore onward a man whose breast
was now filled with a vague unrest. The robust passenger known
as "Mr. August Meyer" was unusually jovial at breakfast, when he
informed the bluff Captain that Mrs. Meyer was rapidly recovering
and would soon be able "to grace the deck," in the language of the
The absconding murderer was delighted that Irma and himself were
the only first-class passengers, although accommodations for fifty
had been retained in making a "freighter" of the one-time "record
Leaving Irma, at her wish, to dream of a future meeting with Clayton,
Fritz Braun was left free to retire to his own capacious cabin.
"Take the whole twenty staterooms," cried the jolly old skipper,
highly propitiated with Braun's wine-opening and the druggist's
superb cigars. And this Tuesday afternoon Braun proposed to devote
to a careful examination of his rich plunder.
As yet he had not verified the whole stolen treasure. When all
his own luggage was arranged in his own double room, he carefully
threw overboard all of the murdered cashier's private articles.
The hat and shoes, which he had feared to burn, were cast into
the foaming wake of the vessel, and even the veriest trifle of the
contents of the deceived lover's pockets.
Braun, greedy at heart, shut his eyes as he tossed the watch-chain
and locket overboard, and even the scarf-pin, links and studs of
the victim. It was an hour after he had locked himself in when he
threw over the last shred of paper and the emptied pocketbook and
Braun smiled grimly as he carefully transferred to his wallet the
double-month's pay which had been handed to the cashier by accountant
Somers when he hastened away on his furlough.
"Nearly seven hundred dollars," laughed Braun. "My dead friend pays
my way over." There was, moreover, a few dollars in change in the
purse, which was tossed away to follow the other tell-tale objects,
after Braun had extracted Somers' test slip of the deposits. It
brought a frenzy of joy to the murderer's heart to read the lines,
"Currency, $150,000; cheques, $98,975."
He smiled grimly. "The last thing which could betray me is overboard.
I'm safe now! No fool to be caught, even by a tell-tale ring!" He
had hurled poor Clayton's college pin and seal ring far out into
the sapphire blue, and then resolutely screwed up the porthole.
"Now to see if my cashier's tag lies!"
Braun stopped, with his hand on the straps of his valise, a glooming
foreboding seized him. "I must watch this devilish woman! She was
far too placid. She has not swallowed all my story. If she should
try to cable, or to communicate." He paused, and the cold sweat
gathered upon his brow. "I'll closely watch her. I'll rush her
through Stettin. I'll hide her in some little hole on the Polish
frontier. If she tries to follow up her mad love for this fellow,
I'll finish her."
Already he looked forward with longing to the time when he could
safely call Leah Einstein to his side. "She will be true as a dog
to me, poor wretch! And I must get Irma out of the way. Perhaps
in some Polish marsh; they would not find her bones. There's the
"But, my lady, you are only sleeping with one eye shut. Your first
false movement means"--He gloomily ceased, and then feasted his eyes
on the green bundles in the common-looking valise. "I am a prince
for life," he murmured, "if I can realize on these cheques." He
opened a bundle; they were all flat endorsements.
"About half of these are good anywhere," he mused. "Our gang can
handle them; and for the others, we may get a reward to return them
later," he grimly smiled.
But as he busied himself, the inscrutable face of Irma Gluyas
returned to madden him.
"She does suspect!" he growled. "She only plays policy because she
is in my power. Never mind, my lady; you are knitting up your own
Seven hundred and fifty miles away, the streets of New York City
were filled with the refluent crowd of holiday absentees. The
great Babel had again taken up its round of toil and pleasure, its
burden of care and crime, its chase for the bubble "reputation,"
its hunting away of the urban wolf from the door.
In inverse order of importance, the shutters had come down, the
toiler had been out, dinner-pail in hand, for hours, when Milady
yawned over her morning coffee and the magnates of finance appeared
in their triumphal procession down Broadway to Wall Street.
There was a careworn look on Arthur Ferris' brow as he sprang out
of a coupe at Randall Clayton's deserted apartments at nine-thirty.
He had sullenly enjoyed Mr. Robert Wade's Fourth of July cheer,
his mind haunted with Randall Clayton's strange breach of social
faith. In vain he reassured himself. "He could not know where
to reach me with a 'phone or a wire," and his agitation increased
when the house janitor gravely said, "Mr. Clayton has not been here
since Saturday morning, sir. It's very strange. He took no travel
bag with him. I just took a peep at the room. The bed's not been
slept in, and here's a lot of mail. He's most regular.
"May be sick somewhere, sir. He looked very strange when he went
out Saturday. He'd been up in the night. I heard him moving around
"Let no one open the room till I return," sharply ordered Ferris,
and he then started his coupe off on the run for the Western Trading
Company's office. Bidding the man wait below, Arthur Ferris took
the elevator and, darting along the hall, smartly rapped at Randall
Clayton's door. It was locked, but the agile Einstein was at once
at his beck and call. "Mr. Clayton's not down yet. I fear he's
ill, sir," respectfully said the lad. "Here's all his office mail
in the ante-room."
Arthur Ferris sharply ordered the lad to watch over the closed
rooms. "Let no one open those rooms," he said. "You'll find me in
Mr. Wade's private office. Let me know the very instant Mr. Clayton
Ferris at once rang on Mr. Robert Wade's private telephone, and was
relieved when he learned that the manager had just left his Fifth
Avenue home for the office. There was a crowd of the senior employees
waiting around the door to congratulate the new vice-president, when
old Edward Somers tottered in, his face ashen with fright. Ferris
dropped the telephone ear-cup and sprang forward.
"Speak! What's gone wrong?" he cried. He feared to learn that within
that locked office the moody Clayton lay cold in death--a suicide.
But the old accountant only raised his head and babbled, "There's
something gone wrong with Mr. Clayton. The bank has just sent me
"Our Saturday deposit never reached the bank! He's in there now.
Oh! My God!"
Rapidly turning on the District call for the police, Ferris darted
into Secretary Edson's room.
"Wallace," he cried, "take two of your best men; get pistols. Shut
the offices! Let no one leave! There's been a gigantic robbery
here; perhaps a murder!"
Wallace Edson sprang up, brave and resolute, as Ferris dashed back
to the broken old man.
"How much?" he sharply demanded. "Nearly a quarter of a million!"
the old accountant faltered.
"Where's the bank-book?" cried Ferris, his presence of mind
"Clayton has it," the bookkeeper sadly said.
Opening a door, Arthur Ferris called in the treasurer. Frank Bell,
jolly and debonnair, had just returned from "no end of a good
"Look out for Somers, here," he ordered. "There's been a great
disaster. Let no one speak to him." And then the young vice-president
went out to meet the arriving police.
Mr. Robert Wade, slowly pacing along Fourteenth Street, had stopped
to whisper a few words in Lilienthal's attentive ear. There was
a delectable "private view" which was arranged for two o'clock on
this happy afternoon.
As the smug "dealer" bowed, his mind reverted to Mr. Wade's handsome
employee, Randall Clayton, and then the picture episode, and the
entrancing Magyar witch.
"I wonder, now," mused Lilienthal, "if young Clayton stole that
pretty devil away from Fritz Braun! Braun was really crazy over
her, it seems, and he, the black-hearted wretch, has gone over to
Europe to hunt for her. The pretty minx may be in hiding somewhere
up on the West Side, with Clayton. And yet I never saw or heard
of them together again. It may be he only wanted the picture, not
Mr. Lilienthal's laughter at his own joke was cut short by the racing
past of four policemen and two detectives. He was still standing
gaping in wonder when Robert Wade forced his way into his own office
and found all in an uproar.
Only Arthur Ferris was cool and collected, as he stationed the
police and called two stenographers into the room where old Somers
and Emil Einstein awaited the opening of an inquisition.
"There's been a robbery of a quarter of a million of our company's
funds, Wade," sharply cried Ferris. "We want to find out where
Clayton is. Take hold now and get these men's statements. I'll bring
in the bank messenger, and then try and hold Hugh Worthington on
the telegraph. The Chief should be even now nearing Cheyenne."
Ferris grasped Einstein's arm and drew him out of the room, as
Wade pompously began his Jupiter-like procedure. "I'll send for
the detective captain, and the Fidelity Company's people," said
Ferris; but he dragged Einstein into a vacant room. "You can open
his office, you young devil?" he whispered.
"Yes; side door key," said Einstein, conscious now of a protecting
"Get me in there, quick!" said Ferris, his eyes aflame. In a few
moments they stood in the vacant room. Ferris pointed to the desk.
"Remember what you told me!" he sternly murmured. And as the lad
drew out his stolen key, Ferris watched the roll-top desk slide
open. He grasped the bundle of telegrams and lone papers on the
pad, and motioned for the trembling boy to lock it.
Then, darting back into the ante-room, he dashed off two telegrams,
the first addressed to his secret partner at Cheyenne, and the
other to his wife in fact, but not name, "Miss Alice Worthington,
Palace Hotel, Tacoma."
"Not a word of this to any one; I'll pay you," said Ferris, as
he stuffed the papers in his pocket and rang for a telegraph boy.
"Come in, now, and tell your story--all but this!"
Holding the shivering lad while he sent a brace of messengers for
the detective chief and the Fidelity Company's expert, Arthur Ferris
muttered, "Is it murder or a daring robbery? Is it flight? Has he
discovered his rights and robbed Peter to pay Paul? Old Hugh must
come, and until then, silence!"
When the noonday sun burned down upon Manhattan Island, a thousand
offices had received the message:
"Look out for Randall Clayton, absconding cashier of the Western
Trading Company. Age 28, height 5 feet 11 inches; gray eyes, brown
hair, well built, weight about 170; speaks French and some German;
born Detroit; slight Western accent. Missing since Saturday noon,
July 2, with $150,000 currency and $100,000 endorsed cheques. Watch
all trains and steamers. Photographs by mail to-morrow. Presumably
alive; no woman in the case."
And in the spacious rooms of the Western Trading Company the
usual business was now moving on, while a detective sat on guard
in Clayton's office, and another in his deserted rooms, where the
Danube picture smiled down upon the callous stranger, who murmured,
"The old story, 'Cards, women, the Tenderloin, Wall Street, and
fast life!' Another man gone to hell with his eyes open."
But in the mob of reporters now filling the affable treasurer's
room there was the ball of angry contention tossed vigorously too
Reporter Snooks of the Earth coldly bluffed Sears of the Ledger
with a bet, "Two to one on his skipping out; even money on a murder;
even money on a bunco."
And so "lightly they spoke" of the man who had yielded up his
unstained honor in a mad chivalry for the sake of a woman whose
love had innocently led him to a horrible taking off!
Within the manager's room, the preliminary inquisition was rapidly
moving on. Arthur Ferris, with burning eyes gazing intently as each
word fell from the lips of the frightened witnesses.
It was while this drama was being played that the "Fuerst Bismarck"
swept grandly up the North River, and the returning lawyer tourist,
Jack Witherspoon, hastened up town, eager to meet his client.
"I will prospect a little," mused the cautious Witherspoon, as he
registered at the Hoffman House. "Somebody may know me; and no
human being must see Clayton and I together in New York! One chance
spy and Hugh Worthington would be on his defense, and I would then
lose my place in a jiffy and all power to make him disgorge."
He was pondering over the best way to reach Clayton, and had just
decided to wait after dark at the rooms for his old class-mate,
when he remembered the annual election.
"By Jove!" mused Witherspoon, now burning to with Francine Delacroix's
dowry from the enemy.
"Ferris will surely be nosing around here. I must not show myself
at Clayton's rooms. There are two ways: one to call him by telephone,
and the other is to telegraph to the Detroit Club and have the
Secretary then telegraph to Clayton to call at once at Room 586,
Hoffman, on 'Alpha Delta Phi' business. They might have a clerk on
at the telephone over at the office. and if I was asked who wants
Mr. Clayton, I might be trapped."
He suddenly remembered his last agreement with his prospective
client, that if anything unforeseen occurred, Clayton would write
or telegraph to his comrade at the Detroit Club, and so, Witherspoon
added a few words of direction to the secretary, to his request
that Clayton be bidden to an "Alpha Delta Phi" secret reunion at
Room 586, Hoffman.
Witherspoon had already purchased a week's file of the New York
journals in order to follow up the financial columns, and was
moving toward the elevator from the telegraph stand, when a boy
thrust an extra into his hand.
"Heavy Robbery by Absconding Cashier! Randall Clayton Lets the
Western Trading Company in for a Quarter of a Million. Another Case
of a Double Life!"
With a supreme effort the Detroit lawyer mastered himself and
sought the seclusion of his room. In ten minutes he had recovered
his legal acumen. The two columns of the extra gave a list of
the new officers of the company, and the statement that Mr. Hugh
Worthington was at Tacoma with his invalid daughter, was supplemented
by the statement that Arthur Ferris of Heath & Ferris, 105 Broad
Street (the recently elected vice-president), was in charge of the
When Jack Witherspoon had cooled his heated brows, he swore a deep
and mighty oath of vengeance. "I don't believe a word of this
whole rot," he stoutly said to himself. "Either Clayton has been
frightened off, and is waiting for me near Detroit, or they have
trapped him in some way. Something has brought things to a crisis.
And yet, I must handle Mr. Arthur Ferris with velvet gloves!"
He reflected now upon the imprudence of his registration at the
Hoffman. The railroad attorneyship had brought him in close contact
with Ferris. "I must go around there and show up at once! They
would surely see my arrival in the papers!"
He had just finished his professional toilet when a telegram was
brought to his door. He tore it open with a wild anxiety.
"No news of friend here. Have sent dispatch as agreed. There is
sealed box of valuables here for you, deposited a month ago by your
friend; sent by special express commission. Telegraph your directions."
He sought the telegraph office and wired orders to have the deposit
instantly expressed to him, at Adams & Co.'s general office. "Take
receipt in my name for twenty-five thousand dollars' value," was
his last prudent order.
And then, jumping into a coupé, he departed for the Western Trading
Company's office. "They will have the telegram," thought Witherspoon.
"Thank God! Ferris is a Columbia College man, and no member of our
'frat.' I can tell him that some of our New York chapter proposed
to celebrate my return, unknown to me. There's Doctor Billy Atwater.
I must look him up to-night. I can leave him here on guard while
I go and face Hugh Worthington. Either Hugh or Ferris has put up
Suddenly an awful thought came to him.
"My God! Have they made away with him?"
He saw his course plainly now. The untiring pursuit of the wolf,
the silence of the crouching panther!
"Never!" he proudly declared in his heart. "Randall Clayton a thief!
Never! I will be the second shadow of Mr. Arthur Ferris. If any
one has the key of this mystery, he has. Clayton never went away
willingly. It would be his ruin for life to let his name be blackened.
And, the money! Who has it?"
The prominence of Mr. John Witherspoon as the Detroit counsel of
the Trading Company's great syndicate carrying agents insured his
instant admission to the general manager's room. There was a sober
gathering of a dozen magnates, and Arthur Ferris sprang up, somewhat
disconcerted, when he saw Witherspoon's anxious face.
The young vice-president left the detective captain, Manager Wade,
the haggard old Somers, and two great lawyers, and drew Witherspoon
away into Randall Clayton's deserted rooms.
"Where did you drop from?" curtly demanded Ferris. "I've been some
months in Europe," simply said Witherspoon, now wearing the oily
mask of his profession. "I arrived on the 'Fuerst Bismarck' to-day,
and was going to take to-night's train West. But some fellows of
my college 'frat' had fixed up a 'surprise banquet' for me at the
"So, after all they had to tell me to hold me over, I was just
opening my accumulated mail, when by accident I picked up an extra.
I thought poor Clayton was away on a summer vacation."
"He's away on a devilish long one!" snarled Ferris. "Took French
leave with a quarter of a million. Who, in God's name, would have
taken him for a thief!" The mournful ring of Ferris' voice almost
deceived his secret adversary; but Ferris was, in secret, pondering
over the Detroit dispatch to the absent Clayton, which he had opened
"This man knows nothing," decided the wary Ferris, for Witherspoon's
face was frankness itself.
Jack looked around at two men vigorously working away at a huge
safe standing in the corner. "They're now opening Clayton's safe,"
bitterly said Ferris. "Of course, there will be nothing found
there. No! It's either a case of secret gambling, mad Wall Street
plunging, or a crazy woman intrigue."
"What do the detectives say?" soberly queried the Detroit lawyer.
"Case of sharp thief, got three days' start of us by clearing
out Saturday at eleven. I've suspended that old fool, Somers, for
trusting such a deposit to one man alone! It's a crushing disgrace
to the New York management. I shall sweep it all away as soon as
I can get Hugh's orders. I'll take charge myself, now!