Part 4 out of 6
"I suppose you go on to Detroit at once. We are readjusting our
whole freight schedules!"
"Yes," gravely said Witherspoon, "unless I can help you here. I'll
telegraph my people at once. Will you telegraph Hugh and see if he
might need me here? I suppose he will come on at once."
"I can hardly say," replied Ferris, caught off his guard. "He was
to have met Clayton to-day, in Cheyenne!"
In an instant Ferris regretted the lapse, and hastily added, "Of
course, you might wait a couple of days. Worthington can give
you his ideas, and then you can save time in closing the railroad
deal. Old Hugh has a clear majority of our stock now."
Though Witherspoon had instantly grasped the significance of Ferris'
dropped hint, he stilled his beating heart. "What have you done
with Clayton's rooms?" he quietly said. "You had an apartment with
him. You should search it."
Ferris started. "By Jove! Yes! I forgot all about that. I've two
men watching them now."
After a short pause, Witherspoon said calmly, "There may be some
sudden sickness, some accident in the country, some mysterious
happening. His rooms should be carefully examined."
"You are right," answered Ferris, "and I have my duplicate keys.
Let us drive up there, you and I; we will take a look and then seal
them up till the detectives examine them. We are getting at facts
here; we are awaiting now to hear from Hugh. As you knew Clayton
at college, I'd like to have you represent the fair thing at the
searching of the rooms, particularly as I lived with him. But he
has not been there since Saturday morning, and the money is gone.
That tells the whole story. It's impossible to keep it quiet now,
and I wash my hands of the whole thing. It occurred three days
before I took charge."
The two young men silently made their way to the street. As they
seated themselves in the first carriage they saw idle, Witherspoon
calmly remarked, "If I know Worthington's mind, he will make very
radical changes here now. Do you suspect any collusion?"
Ferris shook his head. "Poor old Somers has Clayton's tag receipts
for the currency and cheques as usual. I'm sorry for the old
man. We'll retire him, at any rate, pension or no pension. It was
Wade's silly system, to trace all our money down with two sets of
custodians, and then send it to bank by ONE man!"
"You don't think Clayton can have been made away with? Followed
by those who have accidentally dropped on his secrets, or some one
informed by some member of your office staff?"
"No; that's all far-fetched and speculative," gruffly said Ferris.
"But the whole damned lot, from old Wade down, are under secret
espionage now. I ordered that on at once. Besides, the Fidelity
Company have their own people at work."
"Ah! There was a bond?" questioned Witherspoon. "Fifty thousand,
only," growled Ferris, "and they probably will only pay a half.
They'll make us prove our loss in open court, and you know we don't
care to haul out our books. But the recovery goes really to old
Hugh; he paid all the dues on Clayton's bond."
They halted in a watchful silence at the fashionable apartment-house,
and Ferris, calling the janitor as a witness, using his own keys,
opened the vacant rooms. At the door he paused to give a few sharp
directions to the watchers, and so Jack Witherspoon stepped into
the room first. By a mere accident he felt a small object under
his foot, and then quickly secured it in his hand, having carelessly
dropped his hat. He felt a little card-case in the hand which
remained thrust idly in his pocket.
Together the two young men searched every corner of the double
apartment. The careful housewife's summer shroudings of Ferris'
rooms were still undisturbed.
As for Clayton's apartment, it was left in the careless disorder of
a young man about town. "I will touch nothing," said Ferris, awed
into a dismal silence. Jack Witherspoon keenly followed Ferris'
every movement. There was nothing to indicate any idea of departure.
Even Clayton's trunk-keys were in the scattered packages in the
ante-rooms. The closets, dressers, and wardrobes showed no gap, as
the young men explored.
"That's the only new thing I see--that picture," casually said
Ferris, pointing to the Danube view. "I never saw that before, and
he was not much of an art collector."
A sharp knock on the door drew Ferris to the door, where an office
clerk awaited him with a telegram. Witherspoon still stood eying
the picture, when Ferris said, "Look out for things here. I've got
to answer a telegram. Hugh is not at Cheyenne. I must call him at
Tacoma. Alice can forward the dispatch."
Left alone in the room, Jack Witherspoon redoubled his energies,
knowing that he might never see the interior again. Ferris' remark
about the picture had strangely attracted his attention. "That
means something," mused the excited Jack. His hand was on a closet
door, and by a strange impulse he opened it quickly. A picture-case
of heavy pasteboard stood there, upright in a corner, and a
half-detached label caught his eye. The Detroit lawyer tore it off
and hastily secreted it. He was seated at a table in the room when
"Now," said he, bolting the doors between the two apartments,
"I wish to have you see these rooms sealed up! I must get back to
the office. You would do me a great favor if you would be here and
represent me as well as Clayton's interests when the detectives
search to-morrow. For nothing more can be done till I hook on to
Worthington, or the police may have a report from the outside.
"Twenty tramp steamers and fifty sea-going boats have left since
Saturday noon. I am afraid Clayton has shown us a clean pair of
heels. What do you think?"
But Jack Witherspoon only clutched the objects in his pocket, and
slowly shook his head. "I think nothing! It is a sad business, and
I will help you all I can! I will wait here until you hear from
Hugh, at any rate. You can drop me at the Hoffman."
At the hotel Ferris said, on parting, "Come over at ten o'clock
to-morrow. I'll give you a stenographer and one of our assistant
cashiers. Then you can verify the whole contents of Clayton's rooms
with the detectives. The lawyers and head police will look through
his safe and office papers under my eye."
At the parting, Ferris, worn out by the day's excitements, murmured,
as if seeking a confirmation of his theory, "Clayton has been acting
very strangely of late. Old Hugh wanted me to give him a talking
"There'll be a reward offered, of course," said Jack, anxious to
lead Ferris out.
"Certainly," was the rejoinder. "I think fifteen thousand for him,
and ten more for the money or cheques. But all depends on Hugh!"
"I'll meet you at ten," gravely answered the stranger lawyer. "This
will break up our dinner, I am sick at heart."
Once in his room, Witherspoon drew out the two articles which he had
concealed. The first was a little red morocco card-case, evidently
dropped as the supposed fugitive had left his room! Jack's fingers
trembled as he drew out the few visiting cards. With a wildly
beating heart he examined them.
He sprang excitedly to his feet as he read the faintly pencilled
lines traced on the back of one, "Irma Gluyas, No. 192 Layte Street,
It was the work of an instant only to glance at the label torn from
the picture-case. The printed words, "Newport Art Gallery," were
visible above the words, "Fräulein Irma Gluyas, 192 Layte Street,
Brooklyn," and the adjuration, "Handle with care," completed the
marks upon the tell-tale paper.
The anxious lawyer saw the magnificent castle in the air which
he had builded crumbled at his feet. "This is for me alone," he
swore in his heart, and it was only after an hour's cogitation that
he resolved upon his course. "I must hunt up Doctor Atwater; but,
first, wait for the wishes of Worthington. The package from Detroit
may tell me something. And I must examine that picture and see that
no tell-tale inscription is on the back. Here is the key of the
Seated alone, with his nerves strained to the utmost, a sudden
inspiration came to the loyal friend of the missing man. "I am too
late. They have killed him!"
He cursed the evil hour when he left for Europe without placing
Randall Clayton in a place of safety. "I should have taken him
with me, or else gone West with him and braved old Hugh. Yes; they
have lured him away! Killed him, and hidden this money. It will
all come out of the stockholders. It goes back into old Hugh's own
pocket. He has made his title safe!
"In some way poor Clayton has babbled, and they have swept him
from the face of the earth. But for some fatal imprudence, he would
have come into his stolen fortune. And, after my settlement, Hugh
Worthington would have feared to attack Clayton."
In half an hour Mr. John Witherspoon was on his way to Brooklyn.
He had already deposited the two precious articles in the massive
safes of the Hoffman, and he began his weary quest with a glance
at the "Newport Art Gallery," whose Fourteenth Street address was
printed upon the label.
"This remains for a future examination," was Jack's rapid conclusion.
"The picture was procured here within three months, and the shop
looks like a permanent one." A glance at a Directory, in a drug-store,
proved that the Emporium had been there for a year, certainly.
It was four o'clock when the lawyer resolutely rang, the bell at
No. 192 Layte Street. He had consumed an hour in scanning the quiet
exterior of the stately old mansion. The ignoble use of the parlor
frontage as a modiste's shop, attracted him as he vainly waited
for a reply to his repeated ringing.
All that he could gain from a pert shop-girl was the news that the
house was shut up, and that no one lived there.
The judicious use of a two-dollar bill brought as a harvest the
news that it had been used as a private club for men and that it
had been recently closed. "Ask in the saloon--the "Valkyrie"--next
door. They are the landlords," said the girl as she returned to
her ribbons. The acute lawyer, whose years of active practice had
opened his eyes to many of the mysteries of the inside life of New
York, Detroit and Chicago, was not deceived by the decorous white
"I have done enough for one day," he mused. "I have kept my temper,
and Ferris suspects nothing. Poor Clayton never betrayed me; he
only betrayed himself. And he has been trapped; BUT BY WHOM? God
Once safely back in the Hoffman, Jack Witherspoon leisurely dined.
His self-commune had taught him the need of a perfect control of
every faculty. "I will not linger here to embarrass Ferris; but
the Newport Art Gallery, the mysterious woman of 192 Layte Street,
and the picture's secret history shall be my property alone. I will
not betray myself. Arthur Ferris may, perhaps, unbosom himself!"
As the lonely night hours advanced, Witherspoon sat in his room,
vainly striving to reconcile the dozen theories of the flaring
editions of the evening papers. There was not a single suggestion
of foul play; not a word to point the direction of the supposed
fugitive's evasion; not a clue from the baffled police.
It was the old story of a double life, the wreckage of a promising
career. "Just a plain, ordinary thief was Mr. Randall Clayton,"
said one acute observer; "his case is only extraordinary from the
amount taken. And it seems that he robbed for the lucre itself, as
the most careful inquiry divulges no stain upon his private life.
Another case of the 'model young man' gone wrong."
Witherspoon had thrown the journals into his trunk as a precaution,
and was smothering his disgust at their heartlessness, when Arthur
Ferris, white-faced, dashed into his room.
"What has happened? Have you found his body?" cried the Detroit
man, springing up. "I may have to leave you here to represent me
privately," gasped Ferris, as with a shaking hand he extended a
telegram. "Read that!" Witherspoon gasped, in a sudden dismay, as
he read the crushing news. The dispatch was simply signed "Alice,"
and the young men were speechless as Witherspoon falteringly read
"Ellensburg, Washington, July 5, 1897. "Father lying dying at Pasco.
Railroad accident. Join me there. I arrive six o'clock morning."
"I have ordered all the Tacoma dispatches repeated to her," muttered
"He did not get this news about Clayton." Ferris' eyes were averted.
In his craven heart there was but one burning question, "My God!
Did he remake his will after our marriage? I may be left a pauper
on Alice's bounty."
And Ferris, with a mighty effort, controlled his knowledge of the
secret wedding. "This is horrible!" he cried, as he sank into a
And while they were mute, a ghastly, gleaming corpse was whirled
hither and thither, under the blackened waters rushing inward from
the sea, under the arch of Brooklyn Bridge, a mute witness of the
curse of Cain, waiting God's awful mandate for the sea to give up
A CRUEL LEGACY.
Randall Clayton's name was being bandied scornfully by thousands
of sneering lips as Arthur Ferris evaded his New York friends in
the crowded lobby of the Hoffman. The crafty lawyer bridegroom was
happy at Witherspoon's promise to remain and aid him.
The secret antagonists had, however, lied to each other with all
possible show of candor. Ferris returned rapidly to Robert Wade's
private office, having engaged a temporary resting place at the
Fifth Avenue. "Let no cards be sent to my room--from the press or
any other people. You can easily understand why!" he ordered.
The suave head clerk convoluted in sympathy with the financial
disaster, now the theme of the wildest gossip. But his heart
was as cold as the gleam of his gigantic diamond stud (real), as
he smoothly greeted the next customer. What is human suffering or
disgrace in a New York crowd?
Ferris calmly refreshed himself at the Fifth Avenue's historic bar,
and then, hastening away to the Trading Company's office, sharply
dismissed the timorous Wade. That fat functionary was visibly
rattled when Ferris sent him home for the night. "I shall personally
direct all important matters now. You may as well notify Bell and
Edson that (for your own sake). I allow you and Somers, as well as
them, to remain on duty. But you four men can consider yourselves
practically suspended until Hugh Worthington arrives. You officials
can sign no single paper, from now on, without my counter endorsement.
There's my warrant for this action. I shall have this letter spread
on your confidential letter-book, so consider me as the real manager
until I put you on duty again."
Robert Wade turned ashen pale as he read Hugh Worthington's carte
blanche powers given under his own hand to the new vice-president.
"As I hold this, his power of attorney, and all his proxies, I
presume that you recognize my authority," coldly remarked Ferris.
"I will take charge of all here. I will be either here or at Parlor
C, Fifth Avenue."
"When do you expect Worthington?" stammered the deposed manager.
"I don't know," sharply said Ferris.
"For God's sake, consider my family, my business future, my
reputation," cried Wade, with tears in his eyes.
"Pooh!" angrily rejoined Ferris. "Make that by-play on old Hugh.
It's all lost on me!"
And, as the door closed, he sharply locked it, and, after examining
the rooms to prevent any Peeping Tom observing his actions, Ferris
sat down to study Clayton's telegraph book, and the messages which
he had rifled from the dead man's desk.
"I am safe so far," muttered Ferris. "No one knows of my big secret
deal. But from this fellow's dispatch to Hugh, he certainly intended
to go out and see Edson at Bay Ridge. Now, did he start in good
faith? I must set some good outside detectives at work on that.
"Then this dispatch to Alice, I wonder if she had still left a
sneaking fondness for him! Who can read a woman's heart? It's like
judging the depth of water by its smoothness: all mere conjecture.
Half the women are liars, and the other half hide more than half the
truth under their silken breastplates. They fight with double-edged
lies as their keenest weapons.
"Unless Clayton was a very deep rascal, he certainly intended to go
on West. Where the devil is he? Kidnapped, and held till the swag
is safe? Dead? No!"
A guilty spasm of conscience suggested that the missing cashier
might have secreted the funds and fled, to make private terms later
from his hiding place, with the wary Hugh.
"He knew nothing, he suspected nothing of the Detroit land deal,"
finally decided Ferris. "It's just a case of plain, ordinary thief!"
The ambitious scoundrel had decided to conceal the finding of
Clayton's dispatches and carbon-book from all the local officials
of the company.
"Now to the practical," he muttered, as he spread out his girl
wife's fateful telegram.
"She will have surely received the Tacoma dispatches to the old
man before I can reach her now. The Associated Press, to-morrow,
will have a full account of the accident. His condition will be
telegraphed all over the country. But I'll instantly send a carte
blanche order to the Western Union man at Pasco for hourly reports."
The Gazetteer had furnished him the meager information that Pasco
was a little railroad junction town in Franklin County, Washington,
on the Columbia River. "The old man must have been delayed on his
way to meet Clayton."
"Now, for Alice!" The schemer's brow was damp with a cold moisture
as he muttered: "Old Hugh hated even to hear of Death. He tabooed
the subject like a Chinese mandarin.
"His will! Did he think to change that document after the formal
marriage? I have not yet delivered Senator Durham! Hugh may have
left this girl the whole property! Fool! That I did not take that
matter up! Who ever thinks of Death, the grim shadow, stealing
along at our side? I must kill off her lingering regard for 'Brother
Randall Clayton!' Shall I start?"
After half an hour's cogitation, Ferris had made up his plan of
operations. "I must let him drop! I cannot reach him. I will then
act on a certainty. She will report to me. I will clear all up here
and start West to-morrow night. But I will await her report and a
second order to join her. I must let her know why I linger."
There were a dozen attendants waiting outside, for the accountants,
detectives and police were to be busied, coming and going, all the
night. Ferris had already called Einstein, waiting now on his own
special orders, when he changed his mind. "I'll trust no one now."
He decided to go to the telegraph office himself. He suddenly
remembered the influence of the robbery and Worthington's untimely
death upon the value of the Western Trading Company's stock.
"Damn it!" he growled. "I may be left a millionaire or a pauper!
I don't know which; and I have no ready money."
But the presence of Senator Durham at Newport gave him a gleam of
light in these dark skies. "I'll telegraph to Durham (in cipher) to
sell a big block of this stock short at the opening of the Board.
Hugh's death will carry it down twenty or thirty dollars a share,
and then it will be back to the normal in a week."
Suddenly he remembered the waiting Einstein. "Tell me," hoarsely
whispered Ferris as he dragged the lad back into the private office,
"What do you think of all this? You knew Mr. Clayton's ways!"
"What's my opinion worth?" bluntly said the watchful Emil. "This!"
said Ferris, handing him a roll of bills. "Then," fearfully whispered
the artful boy, "it ain't no case of skippin' out. I believe some
of the fools in the office got a braggin' over their lunches about
our heavy bank business, and some smart gang has 'done up' Mr.
Clayton. I don't think he's alive. He wasn't the man to 'give up'
easy. He was 'dead square.' There wasn't no woman in the case. I
could tell stories of some of the other gentlemen. No! Clayton's
been hit good an' hard!"
The boy trembled as he spoke. Ferris laughed contemptuously. "Here,
in New York!"
The stubborn boy answered: "Look a-here! I'm only a poor working
boy! There's twenty squares within a, half mile where a man's life
isn't safe if he flashes a ten-dollar bill. Clayton was followed,
and done up for fair. An' the gang an' the swag are hundreds of
miles away! That's how!"
"But where would they hide him?" answered Ferris, shivering at the
boy's matter-of-fact coldness.
"RIVER!" emphatically said Emil. "Five to six hundred floaters
picked up every year. Nobody knows; nobody cares!
"Now," sagely concluded Emil, "if Clayton could have been led off,
then it's dead easy; but he started straight for the bank, and
never got there. The gang may have piped him off for months, and
they worked on him, right here in the heart of town."
"Keep your mouth shut. Post me, on the quiet," said Ferris, as he
remembered his telegrams. When Emil Einstein was left alone, he
calmly counted his bills.
"Pretty good throw-off," he murmured. "I must lie low, for the
mother's sake. And--give her a wide berth. It's getting pretty
warm. This fellow's a chump; but the detectives, there's another
breed of rats!" The boy shivered as he thought of the gleaming
Arthur Ferris had now recovered from the first shock of the tidings
from the West enough to look ahead for the piloting of his own
interests. He smiled grimly. "Business before pleasure!" as he sent
off at the Twenty-third Street general office the tidings which
enabled Senator Durham to turn a cool hundred thousand. "He'll be
down here to-morrow to watch over his stocks! I must wait and see
him before I go West. Besides, I must see Witherspoon and give him
his cue. He knows nothing! He searched the Detroit title and never
even made a kick. His firm passed on the whole matter. I need him
to carry out my future plans."
It seemed to Ferris that his long dispatch to "Miss Alice Worthington"
betrayed too much connubial tenderness. He recast it, and, after
stating that he would leave for Pasco within twenty-four hours,
"Open and read all dispatches sent on to your father from Tacoma.
The company's affairs are paralyzed here. I am in sole control.
Randall Clayton has absconded with a quarter of a million. Missing
since Saturday. Police at work. Telegraph your hotel address.
I will report by wire to-morrow several times. Will be guided by
your telegrams. Am acting under your father's letter of instructions.
Secure all his private papers in case of grave results of injury."
All the weary night Arthur Ferris tossed uneasily upon his bed,
tormented with returning fears as to Hugh Worthington's testamentary
dispositions. "Those old miser hunks are crafty! The girl will
be wax in my hands if I am left to control the money. If she has
the purse-strings I may find her ugly in harness. She has the old
man's blood in her, and blood will tell."
He had not dared to reveal the secret marriage in the decorous
language of his carefully worded dispatch. But one comfort was
left him. "I have the whip hand of them all," he murmured. "I am in
charge, and no one can displace me. Jack Witherspoon knows nothing,
and I can easily placate him by making him one of the estate's lawyers."
The golden crown of the millionaire seemed to have descended upon
his brows at last.
Yet, while he slept, the enemy was awake and sowed tares! At the
Hoffman House Doctor Atwater and Witherspoon sat in conference long
after the midnight chimes had sounded. When the young men separated,
Atwater heartily grasped his friend's hand. "Poor Randall," he
sighed. "Fool, perhaps, even as you or I; but thief and defaulter,
no; never. There is some sad solution to this mystery. You must
wait till Worthington arrives, and be the champion of our missing
friend. I only fear later a discovery of his murder, and, if so,
thank God! it will be a cypress wreath; not the stain of dishonor,
or the brand of the felon. I am yours, to the last."
As Witherspoon said "Good night" to the little picture of Francine
Delacroix, which was his household goddess, he swore an oath of
fidelity. "It may leave me poor, separate us for years; but Clayton,
dead or alive, shall be found. The Detroit package may unravel a
part of this mystery."
It was high noon the next day when Arthur Ferris had completed
his arrangements for the hasty trip West. Jack Witherspoon sat in
Ferris' private office, stunned with the news of Hugh Worthington's
death at Pasco.
For the operator there had loyally sent on to Ferris the first news
of the millionaire's demise in laconic words, "Died at ten o'clock,
fully conscious. Daughter with him since four A.M. Full Associated
Press reports later."
The morning journals only contained a rumor that "Mr. Hugh
Worthington's private car was attached to the telescoped train."
"This leaves me in charge of all until Hugh's will is opened,"
evasively said Ferris. "But it is my duty to go out there. You
must remain here, as my representative, until I return. I will
telegraph your firm at Detroit that I need you here. They can
charge a company fee. Your own honorarium will be paid 'out of the
estate.' Now join me here at four. I'll have your orders ready.
And you can go to the station with me. I'll wire you, twice a day,
and you can report to me, on the train."
"Any clue?" sadly demanded Witherspoon. "Oh! Clayton has got
clean away with his swag," said Ferris. "I've published fifteen
thousand dollars' reward for him, and ten more for the cheques or
any considerable part of the stolen money."
They parted in silence, and Ferris never saw the glare in Jack
Witherspoon's eyes. "If he proves innocent, my poor friend, I'll
make Ferris, on his knees, eat those cruel words!"
But when he left his new client, so strangely brought into his half
confidence, the Detroit lawyer hastened to Adams' Express office.
For two hours he sat alone in a private room and studied over the
contents of the mute message of the dead.
There were things in the package which astounded him; there
were written words which melted him to tears. The little hoard of
twenty-eight thousand dollars in certified cheques was there, with
an order for Randall Clayton's active stocks. A duly executed will,
in favor of my school-fellow and friend, Jack Witherspoon, lawyer,
of Detroit, was accompanied with a letter which gave the history
of the abortive attempt to decoy him to Cheyenne.
The last manly lines brought tears to Jack Witherspoon's eyes. "As
they cannot lure me to Cheyenne, they may strike at me, even here,
and so, before your return. I've left you the little I have. Should
aught befall me, you are my sole heir, and the old matter would
go to you. Punish Hugh, follow up and defeat Ferris, and win my
birthright for Francine Delacroix. Make her your happy wife. We
made a mistake, Jack. We should have gone West together at once,
and faced old Hugh."
The young lawyer's eyes were filled with tears as he read the rest
of Clayton's statement, evidently prepared to offset any attempt
on his life.
But he was ready to battle within the enemy's lines, with a calm
and unmoved face, when he met Arthur Ferris at four o'clock.
Witherspoon scarcely recognized the man whom he instinctively felt
to be Randall Clayton's murderer. There were great furrows in
Ferris' pale cheeks as he handed him a telegram. "I believe that
the whole world is going mad," desperately said the baffled Ferris.
"Just read those lines from a now helpless and orphaned girl."
The men who were to fight out a battle to the death eyed each other
in silence. Witherspoon scarcely could credit his eyes, as he read
again and again the few words of the imperative message.
"My father died this morning. Do not join me. Send no telegrams
or letters. I am coming, at once, to New York. Remain in charge
until I come with my lawyers from Detroit. I will have my father's
will and all his papers. I act under his last wishes. Find Randall
Clayton, dead or alive.
"Now, tell me, Witherspoon, is not that girl mad?" hoarsely cried
Ferris. "I suppose that all the railroad people and our ranch men
have gathered around her, and she has dozens of volunteer advisers.
By God! I'll straighten her out when I meet her."
The young Detroit lawyer met Ferris' agonized glances squarely,
and his voice rang as coldly as the clang of steel when he quietly
said, handing back the papers: "I must tell you, Mr. Ferris," he
answered, with decision, "that I release you from any obligation to
me for my services so far. I shall decline to express any personal
or professional opinion in this matter until I get further orders."
Ferris sprang back like a tiger cat at bay.
"Orders! Orders from whom?" he almost yelled.
"From my seniors at Detroit," quietly answered Jack, "or from Miss
Alice Worthington. I am surprised at tne tone in which you refer
to her! What are your claims upon her?
"Of course, as a brother professional, you know that your power
of attorney from poor old Hugh ended with his appallingly sudden
death. That demise also vacates the letter of instructions given
"But I am the vice-president of the company," growled Ferris, scenting
a possible enemy in the imperturbable young advocate. "True, but
you are not a judge on the bench. You have suspended all the officers
here, usurped their powers, and taken great responsibilities. Do
you control a majority of the stock of the Western Trading Company?"
"Of course, you know I don't; but the Worthington estate does!"
"What power have you to represent that estate?" pursued the unpitying
"It looks as if Miss Worthington would act herself, and, also, have
other advisers. I now, as a friend to all parties, warn you that
you will be held responsible for all your acts here. You must not
ask me for any further advice."
"I suppose you will volunteer your legal acumen to the young heiress,
now!" sneered Ferris. He regretted his brutal outbreak, for John
Witherspoon rose with calmness.
"I own five hundred shares of the stock myself, earned as a fee,
from the late Mr. Worthington.
"I shall claim my right to have access to the company's public
offices, and to watch your strange floundering around here. We
will drop our social and personal intercourse right here--forever.
Your last remark is so vile that it is beneath contempt."
Witherspoon was at the door when Ferris laid his pleading hands
upon his arm.
The Detroit man shook them off. "I warn you, Mr. Ferris," he said,
"that a very reputable minority of the community, if not a majority,
will believe that Randall Clayton was waylaid and murdered. Now,
until you can show him up as a thief, I recommend you to use charity
and forbearance. It is my belief that there has been some damnable
foul play here."
The dejected Ferris sat for an hour with his head buried in his hands,
before he dared to answer his girl wife's imperative telegram. "I
must wait here like a tongue-tied dog," he growled.
"Has the will made her a sole legatee? If so, I must work on her
feelings. I was a fool to quarrel with this fellow. He was another
of the school-time playmates!"
When Ferris sneaked out to send a submissive dispatch to his wife,
he was tormented by the stern words of the young orphan's telegram.
"I act under his last wishes. Find Randall Clayton, dead or alive."
"There is trouble ahead," mused Ferris, "and I have made enemies
of all the officials here. But Alice is mine. I hold her in the
hollow of my hand. My wife! That she cannot gainsay."
When he had sent off his message he felt strangely cheered by the
reflection that Worthington probably left ten to fifteen millions
"There's enough for all," he cheerily reflected. "I'll let her play
'Miss Millions' a bit, but when the probate proceedings come up,
she'll find a husband is a hard thing to deal with."
He was wandering back to the office, determined to remove at once
all of his private data and personal effects to the Fifth Avenue,
when he stumbled over the policeman on the beat.
Sturdy Dennis McNerney flourished his club in a passing salute.
"Bad business, sir, this of Mr. Clayton," said the stalwart
Irish-American. "Is it true there's twenty-five thousand reward
With a sudden inspiration Arthur Ferris paused. "Mac," said he, "I
am deeply interested here. I'll give you personally five thousand
dollars more for the first clue; mind you, no publicity."
The policeman's eyes sparkled. "Word of honor?" he said. "Yes!
I'll write it in your presence, seal it, and give it to you--this
promise, if the clue leads to Clayton, dead or alive."
The two men walked along in the streaming crowd. Ferris felt
instinctively that the officer was holding something back.
"What do the reporters say?" hesitating remarked Ferris. "All in
the dark--a pack of fools--unless it's a crime that gives itself
away to any one. They know nothing, and the force has not picked
up a pointer. Strange, strange, that the job was so neatly done!"
"What do you mean?" quickly queried Ferris.
"Oh! Any gonoph can see that the man was murdered for the stuff!"
resolutely said McNerney. "He was no fellow to clear out! His life
was clean as a whistle! I know all about him!"
"How can you prove that?" hotly said the excited lawyer. "Because
all the men on the force, from here to his rooms, and around town,
knew him for a clean, civil, honest, steady fellow--one in ten
thousand. Thief, he? Never!" said McNerney. "Not on your life!"
Ferris stopped. "I will be at the Fifth Avenue, night and day,"
said the vice-president, "either there or at our office. You can
come to my rooms at your will. I'll leave word for your admittance.
You'll have your money in ten minutes if you turn up any sign of
As the men separated McNerney strolled down to the corner where he
had seen Clayton and Leah Einstein enter the carriage. "Here the
poor fellow began his ride to death," mused Dennis. "I must have
that reward--all of it--and this fellow's five thousand. Had he
a hand in it? I'll spot him from to-night.
"But the Jew boy has the key of the secret! Of course, he's crafty
and cowardly. In a month he will throw off his fear. When I catch
him with that woman I've got the right scent of the whole thing.
Then, I'll hunt up the hack-driver. The boy is the key. And if the
force finds out nothing in two weeks the game is mine! If the boy
is arrested, I'll get in with the woman and carriage clue. I can
While Jack Witherspoon and Doctor Atwater conferred at the Hoffman,
there was a private meeting at Robert Wade's mansion, which brought
together all the suspended officials.
Robert Wade, with indignation against Ferris' brutal treatment,
announced the policy of a united resistance, a joint appeal to
Hugh Worthington, and the demand of an Investigation Committee of
Directors. "We will wait for Mr. Worthington's vindication," said
Wade, in an unanswerable tone.
"Then you will wait until eternity," sadly said Walter Edson.
"Here is the ten o'clock edition of the Evening Telegram. Mr. Hugh
Worthington, the well-known capitalist, died at Pasco, Washington,
this morning, from injuries received in a railroad accident."
When the hubbub had subsided, the voice of Wade was heard. "Gentlemen,
we must act in a passive defence until the Worthington Estate
sends in a man to control the situation. I shall move that three
of us retain lawyers to defend us all and advise us as to our joint
course, for I apprehend Mr. Arthur Ferris will be a King Shark if
he rules over us."
While the endangered officials burned the midnight oil, the
hollow-eyed Arthur Ferris was hidden at the Waldorf-Astoria with
that sage statesman Senator Dunham. It was long after midnight
when Dunham dismissed his nephew. He had half pooh-poohed away the
fears of the young schemer.
"Of course, the girl is rattled. You see, no one but you and
I know of the marriage. It gives you an iron hold upon her. She
will undoubtedly be advised to let our Western friends escort Mr.
Worthington's body on to Detroit. There, of course, she will be
met by the family lawyers.
"After the necessary preliminaries there, one of them will escort
her on here--and--I will be within reach. She evidently wishes to
have the affair of the marriage made public, some time later. If
you made Worthington do the right thing about the will, and all
that, you will come out all right.
"But do not cross her wishes. You cannot spring this marriage on
the public without endangering all our interests. My lawyers here
will look out for the big deal. You can bring the estate's lawyer
to me, and, when you have reduced your wife to a passive mood,
we three can clue up all the private affairs. I will be near you.
I think you are borrowing trouble. As for young Witherspoon, let
him be a little huffy. I can soon whip in those railroad chiefs of
his. Have little to do with him, but be civil--that's all.
"Don't antagonize him. He might prove an ugly customer."
While the tide of intrigue ebbed and flowed around the great
company's headquarters, far away beyond the Rockies, on past the
dreary plains and the uplifted minarets of the Columbia, seated by
the coffin of her dead father, Alice Ferris gazed down in silence
upon the face of the stern old man.
Among the silent watchers, gazing in the fair face of the orphaned
girl, there was no one who knew her other than as Alice Worthington.
The calm majesty of Death had swept away from the dead capitalist's
face all the anxious look of money cares. The pale lips were silent
now, behind his broad brow the busy brain was settled forever.
To the frontier clergyman, to the company's Western superintendent,
to the few care-worn women who had offered their services, the strong
face and tearless eyes of the beautiful mourner were a mystery of
The morrow was to bear Alice Ferris away to her home by the lakes,
and some subtle influence seemed to have transformed the golden-haired
girl into a stern, stately Niobe.
All the journals from Cheyenne to the Pacific were now teeming
with fulsome praise of the man whose firm hand had guided so many
enterprises past all the financial shoals and quicksands of our
sweeping tide of speculation.
The whole of America now knew how the deceased millionaire had left
Tacoma in the ruddy glow of health, his luxurious car attached to
the eastward train.
There had been but a hurried parting between Hugh Worthington and
his idolized daughter. Alice well knew the light of Victory shining
out upon the old man's rugged face, as he received the brief telegrams
of Ferris from Philadelphia informing him of the sweeping triumph
in the election which had thrown the final destines of the Western
Trading Company unreservedly into his hands.
There was a cloud, however, chilling the hearts of father
and daughter, when Hugh briefly announced that he was going on to
Cheyenne to meet Randall Clayton. "You will forgive him; you will
bring him on to us; he will remain here when my real church wedding
and all our reunion of friends introduces me as a bride. For I am
only pledged by the law now."
Then the old man's face hardened. "I have to use diplomacy with
him," he briefly answered. "He has stubbornly refused to obey my
orders. He might ruin my newly modelled company as an open enemy.
And I have invited him West only to save trouble between Arthur and
him. You know what a future you will have as the wife of Senator
Dunham's only nephew. I have tried to gain wealth for you. Arthur
Ferris may Himself reach the Senate. I had to choose for you. I
chose well. Randall might have been the son of my old age, but"--
Then Alice Ferris, with flashing eyes, faced her father. The virginal
heart of the girl was roused with a nameless terror. "And so you
have made me Arthur Ferris' wife to chain the Senator to you for
life! You told me that Randall Clayton led a vile life. Who told
The Little Sister's heart was aflame. All her soul went out in
a flood of faith in the absent man's honor. "You have been at my
side, near me, father. Some one has worked upon you. I will make
Arthur tell me all."
It was only after a positive refusal to take Alice on to Cheyenne
that the old capitalist left the lonely heiress sobbing in a wild
And but twenty-four hours later the open switch left unguarded by
a drunken laborer had sent a thundering special crashing into Hugh
Worthington's special car.
Strangers had tenderly lifted his bruised and bleeding body; but
no one but the mourning girl had heard the awful confession of
those early morning hours at Pasco.
Alice Worthington shuddered as the dying man gasped out his fateful
words, driven on by a self-torment which was a living hell. The
millionaire faltered out the shameful discovery of Randall Clayton's
"I was forced to take advantage of Everett Clayton in the panic
days when we separated. It was his ruin or mine. It was only after
I had nurtured and educated Randall that I found the forgotten land
had leaped into a priceless estate. The railway changes made it a
"I was tempted! I feared to'disclose my plans of handling Dunham.
I was forced to buy Dunham's influence with speculating for him. It
was only another form of bribery. And so, to seal Dunham's faith,
I married you to Arthur Ferris!"
The girl bride's, eyes settled into a stony stare as the wretched
man grasped her hands. "It is too late now. The company has been
my dream, the crown of my life. But you can make restitution. You
are now nineteen. I have left all to you, in my will. Boardman
and Warner are the executors. They are honest. There is young
Witherspoon, too, their junior; he is Clayton's friend. You can tell
him that you have discovered this property interest for Clayton.
"Spare my name. Spare yourself the public shame. You can make
restitution. Tell Arthur Ferris all. He has my confidence. He
knew the whole intrigue. And make him give Clayton his half of
the proceeds of the land sale. You will have all my millions! Your
husband is powerless to interfere. I intended to leave him a handsome
sum. But you can take Randall Clayton's deed to the railroad land
and give him one-half of what they pay me. Ferris has carried the
whole matter through. He knows."
When the dying man recovered from the weakness of his effort at
disclosure, he lay whispering, "Nemesis! Nemesis! I am punished!"
And Alice Worthington, at her dying father's side, felt herself now
chained to the galley, a slave of millions. She had become twenty
years older in half an hour. In low tones she asked questions to
which the repentant man replied only by a feeble motion of assent.
When the noonday sun stood high over Pasco, the whole shameful
story had been revealed to the orphan. The great sighing of the
mountain pines seemed to blazen the secret of a great man's cowardly
And yet Hugh Worthington died with his hand feebly clasping his
motherless child's, a smile upon his lips, for she had promised
never to betray the blackened past.
"Give him back his own," muttered old Hugh, whose lips had feebly
owned that he had allowed Randall Clayton's good name to be vilely
accused. "Give him his own!" imploringly faltered the dying Croesus.
And so, the legacy of a crime came as a crushing burden to the girl
wife whose clear eyes had looked into her father's darkened soul.
The papers and telegrams which the lonely heiress was forced to
examine told her clearly how Randall Clayton's pathway had been
beset with snares.
She shuddered as she read the telegrams which proved a catastrophe
which she could not avert. "And Arthur Ferris--my husband in
name--knew all! This is his work!"
She roused herself to action and gave over the dead clay to kindly
hands when, at midnight on the day of her father's death, she had
received all the dispatches which told her of Randall Clayton's
evasion. Kneeling by her father's body she vowed herself a priestess
of Justice. "They may have killed him. I may be too late; but I
will deal with my despoiled brother's memory as my only heritage.
For he was innocent, and has been robbed of birthright, good name,
and perhaps life itself."
THE MESSAGE FROM AMOY.
THE GIRL BRIDE'S REBELLION.
For a week after the receipt of the ominous telegram from Pasco,
Arthur Ferris sat, a gloomy tyrant, in the offices of the Western
Trading Company. There were dark circles around the young lawyer's
eyes, and his restless mind gnawed upon itself in an intolerable
Left alone by Senator Dunham's departure, the open aversion of the
company's officials had astounded him.
Even Robert Wade, so cringing before the death of Worthington, had
received his reinstatement in a sullen silence. "Do I understand
that you wish me to be responsible for the daily conduct of the
company's affairs?" gravely said Wade. "Then you must restore all
the officials or I will not act! Every one knows, sir, that your
power of attorney from the late Mr. Worthington became valueless
at his death."
Ferris, with fear and trembling, awaited the extraordinary meeting
of the Board of Directors called to meet the exigencies of the
demise of Worthington and the great robbery. With a heavy heart
he resigned the following up of the missing Randall Clayton to the
company's advisory attorneys.
Day by day he had breathlessly watched every telegram brought in,
every delivery of the mails. Neither letter nor dispatch from the
girl wife broke into the gloom of these days.
He dared not disobey her positive injunctions. He feared to leave
New York City and go to Detroit to meet her, and only the meager
results of private telegraphic inquiry, as well as the chattering
journals, told him of the arrival of Miss Alice Worthington, now
the greatest heiress of the Lake States, in her palatial Detroit
Senator Dunham's easy-going counsels had been of no comfort. To
the millionaire politician, the natural ascendancy of Ferris over
the girl's future and fortune seemed "to close the incident."
Secure in his "block of stock," he returned to the delights of
Newport, where the Senatorial toga was duly flourished in the gayest
But, a crafty scoundrel, warned by his own uneasy conscience, Arthur
Ferris took alarm at the "Social items" of the Detroit Free Press.
When he learned that Miss Worthington intended to visit New York
City, accompanied by Messrs. Boardman and Warner, the executors
of her father's estate, on matters connected with the probate of
the will, he realized that he was in imminent danger.
He used every means of rapid information, and only gleaned the
meager news that the public funeral of the dead Croesus would be
deferred for a month until the "various civic bodies" could "take
The Detroit papers were filled with the reverberated reports of
Randall Clayton's mysterious crime, "by which astounding peculation,
the millionaire's estate would possibly shrink several hundred
thousand dollars." And yet--no trace of the fugitive!
Ferris already scented his deadly foe in Mr. John Witherspoon, who
daily visited the offices of the Trading Company, passing him with
a mere formal bow, when engaged upon the books and papers.
It was with a thrill of new alarm that Ferris learned from the company's
advisory attorneys that Mr. Witherspoon had been commissioned by
the executors of the estate "to make a thorough investigation into
the alleged defalcation of the still missing Clayton."
Ferris was baffled when he sought to spy upon Witherspoon's
movements. It was easy to find out that the Detroit lawyer had left
the Hoffman House, but "with no address."
And he vainly sought counsel of Senator Dunham when he was informed
by the company's lawyers that Mr. Witherspoon declined to transact
any business with him save in writing, and through the company's
"Go out and bring your wife to terms, you young fool," roughly said
the angered statesman. "You've no rights, now, save through her."
To the consternation of the secret bridegroom, the Detroit papers
announced that "nothing whatever would be as yet announced as to
the disposition of the late Mr. Worthington's vast estate," until
the return of the executors from New York City.
With all his nerves temporarily shattered, Arthur Ferris saw all
his cardboard fortifications suddenly strewn around him by adverse
gales. His barren title of vice-president of the company now availed
him nothing. The president, manager, and directors all practically
shunned him, waiting for the word as to who would manage the
controlling interest of the dead Croesus.
There was a formal evening meeting of all concerned when the
detective captain finally reported that the whole department were
unable to find a clue of Randall Clayton's whereabouts. Arthur
Ferris gazed askance at Mr. John Witherspoon's strong face when the
company's leading New York lawyer took up the word, as the French
neatly put it. "Gentlemen," said he, "we may as well adjourn this
meeting. We have been in secret session here, till it now nears
midnight. We are all groping in the dark. Here is a remarkable
phase of a great crime. Even the 'argus-eyed press' has no theory
There was a frightened hush when Counsellor Stillwell solemnly
said: "Are we sure that we are on the right road? It appears that
we have lost all roads. Groping! Only feeling our way in the dark!
Police and journals powerless, our rewards unanswered! It remains
for us to drop the matter of theft, and--look for a murderer.
"I now move that we double the reward and seek for the murderer
or murderers of Randall Clayton! Remember, not a bill or cheque,
not an object, the bank book, nothing has been found to indicate
either theft or flight.
"I always had implicit confidence in Clayton's honor; he was
trusted by our heaviest stockholder, named by him, backed by him;
and Mr. Worthington, even at his lamented death, proposed making
him general manager in the West. There's not a shadow on the name
of the missing man."
While the audience eyed each other, the three police officials
present cried in accord: "Good; double the reward. NOW YOU'RE ON
THE RIGHT TRACK."
"I second the motion," quietly said the pale-faced Witherspoon. "I
do also," slowly said Ferris, "and I offer the amendment that this
action takes effect when Mr. Worthington's executors arrive and
authorize this important step."
In sheer impotency to quarrel, the puzzled meeting adjourned, and
Arthur Ferris, now conspicuously alone, was left to chatter with
Policeman Dennis McNerney on the lonely street corner below.
"Well!" said Ferris impatiently, as a fifty-dollar bill changed
hands. "All I can tell you," whispered the policeman, "is that
Lawyer Witherspoon is at the Buckingham. He received no visitors
but his friend, a young doctor.
"Physician's name, William Atwater, M.D. Mail and telegrams he gets
at down-town office, your company's lawyers. And he spends all his
time running around at nights with Atwater or locked up with old
Stillwell in his den down town.
"It's a poor harvest, Dennis," gruffly said Ferris.
"That's all there's in it," stolidly said the man. "Shall I keep
up the watch?"
"Yes, as usual," sadly replied Ferris, as he sped up Broadway to
the Fifth Avenue. The policeman snorted his contempt, when Ferris
had turned the corner.
"A beggarly fifty! By God! I'll hold the boy down. Somewhere
in that funny little joint of a drug-store the secret lies. In a
couple of weeks I can begin work on Timmins; but the office boy,
Einstein, waited personally on Clayton! When his fear wears off,
I'll trap him. He is spending money too freely. Where does that
As McNerney wandered on, he was as ignorant of Einstein's continued
milking of Ferris' purse, as Ferris was of Jack Witherspoon's
treasured clues and as all the knowing ones were of Arthur Ferris'
crafty course in robbing Randall Clayton's desk of the tell-tale
Einstein's greedy fingers were now always in Ferris' purse, for
well the Jewish boy knew that Ferris feared to disclose the theft
of the private papers. And so he filled the schemer's ears with
unmeaning babble about Randall Clayton's night life in New York.
"In the dark! In the dark!" muttered Ferris, as he threw himself
down on his bed. "Did Clayton ever start for Bay Ridge? Did he hide
the money and flee to Europe? Did he go West to meet Worthington?"
A wild idea came to him that the bank employees might have stolen
the money, lured Clayton into some Bowery or Fourth Avenue dive,
some room on Eighth Street, and then stolen the tell-tale bank-book.
"What would not any man do for a quarter of a million?" groaned
Ferris in despair.
And all these long days, while the New York community was daily
forgetting the flight of Clayton, the theft, and the dead millionaire
to whom all the worshippers of the Golden Calf had bowed, the
"Mesopotamia" was slowly nearing Stettin, now breasting the North
Irma Gluyas, awakened from her narcotic stupor, felt in her wild,
wayward heart that Mr. August Meyer had lied to her.
But there was an apparent peace on the liner. The passionate-hearted
singer amused the captain and half deceived her watchful tyrant.
But, deep in her heart, she had evolved a plan. Once safely in
Stettin, she would telegraph to Clayton.
True, she had no money; but her fingers were covered with flashing
rings. Partner of some of Fritz Braun's smuggling secrets, she was
free of all crime, but the desire to innocently lure Clayton away
while the Cattle Trust's safes could be robbed in the holidays.
Step by step her old-time paramour had lured her on to betray
Randall Clayton, and yet, at the last, the good angel struggled
with the spirit of evil in that stormy heart. There was a smiling
calm on Fritz Braun's face which did not deceive her. She knew
that the great game had been pulled off. But how--with what golden
harvest--she knew not.
And yet she marked Braun's trembling hands, the lines graven on
his face, his deep potations, his fierce fever to reach the land.
And so, deep in her heart, she swore, "If he has harmed him, it is
his life or mine!"
Gazing out on the leaden surges of the ocean, she could see the face
of her manly lover, the one man who had believed in her underlying
womanhood. There was no stain on the red roses worn on her breast
for him; only truth in her gleaming Magyar eyes. "He loved me, for
what he saw in me--the innocent woman that I once was." And bitter
tears mingled with the salt brine flashing by--the tears of a
Fritz Braun never knew that the woman who submitted to his caresses
was a spirit of wrath. Fool in his own conceit, he was yet watchful.
If she makes a single false move at Stettin, she seals her own
fate, he darkly pledged his familiar demon. And so, stealthily
eying each other, the fugitive and his fascinating dupe neared the
sandy dunes of the German Baltic land.
And yet God's wrath followed them. There was the throb of guilt in
both their bosoms, resting in one the betrayal of a soul, on the
other the crushing weight of innocent blood crying for vengeance.
And still, as yet, they slept in peace, for the dark waters of the
East River had not given up that ghastly mute witness whirling and
diving in the black under eddies around the rock-hewn pyramids of
the Brooklyn Bridge.
A thousand pairs of eager eyes now watched the money exchanges of
America and Europe for any paltry bit of the plunder stored away
in Fritz Braun's black valise. But the vengeance of God slept only
while the sinners fled away from the place of the betrayal of a
Vice-President Arthur Ferris of the Western Trading Company found
in the proud and formal reserve of the reinstated officials an
armor proof against all his legal acumen.
Some subtle spirit of unexpressed defiance seemed to have banded them
all against him. He felt that the stately oak which had sheltered
him was now fallen indeed. It was in an agony of spirit that he
awaited the appearance of his unacknowledged wife.
The "private agency" which he had secretly employed brought a new
discovery to his heart, when, ten days after Hugh Worthington's
death, Ferris was awakened before his breakfast by a sudden report.
The spy handed, in silence, to the astounded man a sealed envelope,
which was the tidings of an impending Waterloo.
"Miss Worthington arrived night before last, with Boardman and
Warner. They came on in a special car via the Pennsylvania road.
She is at A. C. Stillwell's town house on Central Park West. The
lawyers are both at the University Club. She has not left the house,
and there have been many business-looking callers at the Stillwell
house. Boardman or Warner is there on duty all the while, in
alternation. Watch them."
Shame, rage, and fear struggled for the mastery on Ferris' pale
cheeks as he dismissed the paid spy. "Tell your chief I'll call in
and give him my final directions to-day," he curtly said.
In two hours Arthur Ferris had made the formal toilet for
a professional duel of wits. He was the first caller when the
silver-haired counselor had dispatched his morning mail.
Mr. Stillwell's frosty blue eyes gleamed with an Arctic light as
Arthur Ferris opened his masked batteries. In all that long ride
down Broadway, Ferris had arranged the "subject matter" evidently
to his own satisfaction. But he floundered under the mute inquiry
of those frosty eyes, and the floundering finally ceased.
"Do I understand that you ask or demand an interview with Miss
Worthington?" icily said the old lawyer. "If you will put your
wishes in writing, I will convey them to her. That is all I can
say. I admit that she is my guest, and I also desire to say that
she shuns all intrusion."
"Messrs. Boardman and Warner,"--began Ferris. "With them I have
nothing to do," coldly replied Stillwell. "You will hear of them
and from them in due time."
With trembling fingers, Arthur Ferris wrote a few lines, sealed
them, and handed them to the lawyer, whose formal bow froze the
words trembling upon his lips.
Two long days of mental agony passed before Ferris, seated at his
desk in the Trading Company's executive offices, received a formal
letter from the men whom now he most feared on earth. "Not much to
speculate on here," growled Ferris, as he pondered over the curt
"Our client, Miss Alice Worthington, will receive you, on business,
at No. 248 Central Park West, at 2 P.M. to-day. "BOARDMAN AND
WARNER, "Executors, Hugh Worthington Estate."
The signature seemed to be a fluttering banner of hostile hosts.
And yet, summoning all his trained calm, Arthur Ferris, with
unmoved gravity, bowed as he was ushered into the drawing-room of
the great New York pleader. He knew the flag of no surrender was
flying. He saluted, in silence, the two gentlemen who advanced to
And then an angry flush stole over his pale face. It was not the
chilly greeting of the massive Lemuel Boardman, not the sharp,
attentive nod of Mr. Ezra Warner, which sent the blood leaping to
his heart; it was the slight inclination of the head of Mr. John
Witherspoon, his secret antagonist. For he scented danger when
the young Detroit lawyer appeared here in the stronghold of his
rebellious wife in name.
"Miss Worthington will join us in a few moments," said Mr. Boardman.
There was the rustling of heavy, trailing robes, and Arthur Ferris
scarcely dared raise his eyes as the figure of his girl bride
darkened the door.
And he knew his fate at the first glance! He knew that he had lost
her forever, the bride of a crime.
There was a majesty in that slight figure, clad in its sombre
mourning drapery, which awed him. There was a set, marble pallor
upon the beautiful face, and Arthur Ferris could not see the sapphire
blue eyes veiled with their fringing lashes. He had started forward,
had stretched out appealing hands, and murmured "Alice," but the
youthful heiress merely glided past him in a stern silence. He
could see her now, her face buried in her thin, white hands, the
coronal of golden hair gleaming out over the black gown.
There was the faint sound of a sob as Ferris turned angrily to the
senior, while Warner bent pityingly over the young girl.
"I demand a private interview with Miss Worthington," the husband
quickly said, as he indicated the unwelcome presence of Witherspoon.
"We are here, Mr. Ferris," said Boardman, in a steady voice, "to
allow you to communicate, properly, with Miss Worthington. As her
legal representatives and the executors of her father's estate, we
are requested to remain by her. You may proceed."
"I insist that Mr. Witherspoon shall, at once, retire. He is an
interloper here," hotly replied Ferris.
"So much so," icily answered Boardman, "that he has been selected
by us as the general managing director of the Western Trading
Company to succeed the late Mr. Hugh Worthington."
The clock, ticking on noisily, seemed to sound the knell of Ferris'
last hopes. But his affections were now only a mirage of the past.
"That gives him no power over me here," stubbornly said the defeated
"True; but THIS does," quietly said Boardman, handing him a paper.
With a sickening feeling at heart, Ferris read a formal appointment,
signed by Miss Worthington, and countersigned by Boardman and
Warner, appointing John Witherspoon as resident attorney, in law
and fact, for Miss Alice Worthington.
"If that is not satisfactory, sir," gravely concluded the lawyer,
"we have named Mr. Witherspoon as special New York counsel for
the executors, and he will hold the proxy to cast the vote of the
estate in the ensuing special election. I suggest that you now
proceed with the matters in hand."
"One word!" cried Ferris, leaping to his wife's side, and seizing
her wrists. "Do you confirm this outrage?"
"I do," suddenly cried the weeping girl, springing up and facing
him with a defiant brow.
"What have you done with my brother? Where is the man whom you
falsely accused of leading a vile life? You poisoned my father's
mind against Randall. He has been led away and killed among you."
"Before God, I know nothing of his fate!" stammered Arthur Ferris,
"Then prove your innocence!" cried Alice Worthington, her lovely
face lit with the anger of an avenging angel. "There is a gulf
between us which will never be crossed, so help me, God!"
The girl fell back, weeping, in the arms of Warner, while Boardman
sternly seized the trembling Ferris. "Another such outbreak and
you can say adieu forever to the woman whose life you have wrecked,"
whispered Boardman. "Now, sir," he continued, raising his voice,
"proceed! For, after to-day all your communications will be in
writing, and only through us!"
"I demand your authority for all these high-handed actions," snarled
the deposed autocrat of the Trading Company. His heart hardened as
he reflected that, after all, he was the legal marital master of
the slim girl there, hidden in her shrouding black robes.
"Nothing easier," calmly answered Boardman. "Here is a certified
copy of the will of Hugh Worthington, which leaves his entire
estate, real and personal, to his only child.
"As Miss Worthington has passed the age of eighteen, she needs no
guardian of the person.
"We have obtained a special sanction of the Michigan courts for
the appointment of Mr. Witherspoon to represent the estate here. I
will leave you this copy, and Mr. Witherspoon will now deliver to
you our written order to cease all functions in connection with the
Trading Company except in so far as you represent your own stock.
"And, as you were not a qualified stockholder (a bona fide one) at
the last election manipulated by you, your office as vice-president
will be vacated at this special meeting."
Arthur Ferris' eyes flashed fire as Witherspoon, without a word,
handed him the second document.
He essayed vainly to speak, but his parched tongue was powerless,
his lips were fever-glued. Finally, the man who now feared a further
stroke of malevolent fortune, said, in a low voice, "I desire a
few words in private with Miss Worthington."
To the astonishment of the three men, Alice Worthington arose and
glided into the rear drawing-room, where Ferris sprang to her side.
In low whispers he essayed to recall his lost bride to her perfunctory
duties of wife. The men in the great front hall gazed at Fashion's
throng sweeping by on the avenue as Ferris led his last trumps and
endeavored to develop the hidden enemy's line of reserve.
His last hope failed when his legal wife quietly whispered, "Our
union was brought about by treachery, duress, and fraud. Do you
wish to proclaim your own share publicly? I know all now. I have
all my father's dispatches, his cipher book, his telegrams from
you, and the last, from Randall Clayton."
"You are my wife," fiercely whispered Ferris.
"In name only," defiantly replied Alice Worthington. "You will
learn my father's last wishes later, and to your sorrow. You lied
when you said that Clayton led a vile life. You poisoned my father's
mind. Thank God! I am my own mistress now.
"I have friends who will protect me and punish you. I dare you ever
to claim me as your wife. Beyond that mere civil ceremony, the sale
of a soul for Senator Dunham's influence, you have never laid your
hand in mine."
"You cannot frighten me, Madame," bitterly retorted Ferris. "I hold
your father's good name in my power."
"Stop!" coldly rejoined the angered woman. "I have the whole history
of the past. My father repaired the wrong done with his own hand,
before his death.
"You betrayed Clayton, as your life comrade; you stole upon me,
a lonely child, with your wily flatteries. I believed you to be
true, and Clayton false. You murdered his good name, you estranged
him from us. You have branded his memory as a fugitive thief! And
you have failed, with your police, detectives, and lawyers, to
find a clue! One word of charity from you and the dead man's memory
would have been cleared of the stain of theft.
"And, the prison door yawns for you! You opened Clayton's desk,
stole his telegraph-book and papers, and have secreted them."
"It is false," snarled Ferris. "Too late," cried Alice Worthington.
"We have the office boy's evidence who saw you rifle his desk.
Touch that boy if you dare! He is under our protection! We obtained
copies from the Western Union of all the last telegrams sent and
received by my poor brother."
"He plotted this robbery months ago, and sent all those as a mere
decoy," faltered Ferris. "I was merely holding them back to assist
the police." Alice Worthington's lip curled in scorn.
"Why did you not search the roads to Cheyenne? Why did you not send
detectives over to Bay Ridge? Why did you not reveal your secret
find to the chief of police?"
Suddenly Ferris saw the jaws of the trap closing upon him.
"He has been murdered!" sobbed Alice. "The money may have been
hidden, the bank-book destroyed."
"By some of the bank's people," hesitatingly said Ferris.
"You alone knew all of these details! You came here and secreted
yourself at the time of the election," sternly answered the avenging
Little Sister. "You did not even sleep once in the rooms which
you professed to share with him!"
"I acted under your father's orders," boldly rejoined Ferris.
"He is dead; it is useless to say that! No one will believe you.
And you are lying to me now. You know and I know that Randall
Clayton was no thief. I know, in my heart, and all men now believe,
that he was murdered."
Ferris' teeth chattered as he faced the accusing woman. "I am
innocent of all this," he faltered.
"Then, find his murderers!" solemnly said the rebellious wife. "You
know the crime of the past which leaves its dread legacy of shame
now crushing you. If you can aid the police, do it! You may
communicate with our company's lawyers here.
"But if you interfere at the office, if you dare to approach me,
you will be apprehended under warrants for robbing the private
records of the man who was decoyed to his death among you. One
word against my father's memory, one single hint of our marriage,
and the jail doors will close on you."
"And, the future?" whispered Ferris. "Our lives are bound together."
"The law in one year will give me a separation for desertion,"
said Alice. "The divorce will be quietly obtained in the West; if
you resist, you know the penalty! There is a gulf between us for
Time and Eternity.
"My father's murdered confidence, your Judas plots to gain a motherless
girl's hand, your wrecking Clayton's life! You can purchase your
safety in but one way: by obedience."
The astounded husband raised his hand as she glided by him. He
followed her dumbly into the front drawing-room, where the three
lawyers waited for the end of the colloquy.
"It is understood, gentlemen," said Alice Worthington, "that Mr.
Ferris has intruded upon me for the last time. I leave it to you to
demand and enforce the absolute protection of my privacy. Nothing
can induce me to consent to another interview, or to answer any
There reigned a dismal silence in the room as Alice Worthington
glided out into the great hall. Standing on the lowest stair, she
turned, a desolate and pathetic figure, with the golden hair rippling
over the marble brows.
She steadied herself with one arm, and a slight cry of affright
trembled upon her parted lips as Ferris sprang forward, crying "For
God's sake, hear me! Just one word!"
But Boardman's heavy, restraining hand grasped the deserted
husband's arm. "Mr. Ferris," he gravely said. "Our future course
will be dictated by your behavior. You must only communicate with
the Trading Company's lawyers on these affairs. As to the Worthington
Estate, there is our representative, Mr. Witherspoon. And, in the
interests of justice, bestir yourself now to find Randall Clayton's
"The chief of police has his eyes specially upon you, and so, I
give you a fair warning."
Ferris, with flashing eyes, essayed to speak, but Boardman
significantly ushered him to the door. "It is peace or war, as you
will have it! We three men have all the secrets of the past. If you
attempt, in the slightest degree, to annoy our principal, we will
strike, and without mercy."
As the defeated husband drove home along the leafy borders of the
beautiful Central Park--the one lovely oasis in New York's scattered
maze of brick and iron monstrosity--he saw his life lying sere and
yellow around him, his bare uplands scorched before their time.
"Ruin, ruin," he murmured, and a craven fear now possessed him--a
fear born of his ignorance of the awful remorse of the dying hours
of the Croesus, the moneyed giant cut off in the midst of all his
"How much do they know?" he murmured.
Rage filled his stormy heart; he would have struck back as madly as
the blind rattlesnake but for the craven fears which now assailed
"I must await my time for revenge," he muttered. "One touch of
publicity in this, and Senator Dunham would chase me out of America.
He must, at the last, protect me, if only to save himself."
Stunned by the sudden onslaught of the girl whom he had supposed
to be but a pliant, hoodwinked child, Ferris sat long pondering
gloomily in his rooms at the Fifth Avenue, his head buried in his
The weary hours passed in alternations of rage and despair.
Haggard-eyed Ferris sprang to the door in the early evening gloom,
as a sharp knock roused him. When Policeman Dennis McNerney entered,
he gazed wonderingly at the young lawyer.
"What's come over you?" demanded the officer. "You have heard the
news? I did not dare to go up to the office, and so I waited till
you had finished your dinner."
Ferris wearily gazed at his visitor. "What do you mean? I'm sick.
I'm going away for a change, and I've turned the whole thief-catching
business over to Stillwell, the company's lawyer."
The policeman stepped back and softly locked the door.
"See here, Mr. Ferris," he soberly said. "You should not leave
till the whole thing's cleared up. If you don't want me to follow
up your private inquiry, just say so." He handed to the astonished
man an evening paper. There, marked with a great scrawl, was a
"BODY FOUND IN RIVER"
"Was That of a Young Man of Evidently Good Station--No Clue as to
the Deceased's Identity--Another Mysterious Crime."
"A body was found this morning in the East River off the foot of
Baltic Street, Brooklyn. It was that of a young man about twenty-eight
years of age. The deceased was about five feet eleven inches in
height, of light complexion and brown hair. It was entirely naked
and considerably bruised by the contact of the wharves and passing
vessels. There was no mark found upon the body, which is that of
a man of apparent refinement and one unused to labor. It was found
floating by an Italian boatman and taken to the morgue. It had
been in the water about three weeks."
"Well!" demanded Ferris, his hand trembling, as he handed back
the paper. "I have been on the lookout for your missing cashier,"
quietly answered McNerney, with a searching glance at the agitated
"I have watched the morgue and all the police reports. When I heard
of this, I captured that Jew office boy, ran him over to the morgue
in a coupe, and he and I instantly recognized poor Mr. Clayton.
God rest his soul, all that's left of him!"
Ferris dropped into a chair, shivering violently. "It will be
featured in all the morning papers," coolly continued McNerney.
"There's your problem solved. The poor fellow was decoyed in some
black-hearted, cowardly manner and done up for the stuff. It was
no common gang who fixed him for fair," gloomily concluded the
dissatisfied officer. "There were no marks of violence upon the
Ferris staggered to the sideboard and took a draught of brandy. "I
wash my hands of the whole thing," he huskily said. "If you wish
to follow it up, go and see Stillwell."
"That's all you have to say?" cried the now suspicious policeman.
"I'm sick of the whole job, and shall leave town," sullenly answered
Ferris, as he opened the door and said, "Call our affair off! I'll
telegraph to Stillwell, and he can handle the company's interests."
Dennis McNerney watched Ferris disappear in the swarm of Broadway's
evening loungers, and then directed his steps to Magdal's Pharmacy.
"I'll take that boy under my wing; and the published reward must
be mine. This cold-hearted brute may have had a hand in it. I'll
watch him night and day, and let the boy get over all his fears.
Inside of a month I'll find that woman, the hack-driver, and perhaps
this lame duck caught in the meshes. I'll lay low for a week, but
that boy and that woman shall tell their story to me alone, and
it's worth a fortune. I fancy I see daylight. It's a case of soft
and easy. Once the boy would be frightened, I would lose this blind
THE LONELY PURSUER.
Arthur Ferris was secluded from all callers in his rooms at the
Fifth Avenue Hotel until late on the morning when a million people
read the "featured" details of the mysterious murder of Randall
Exhausted by the mental struggle with his now defiant wife, he
yet retained enough of his cunning to heed Policeman McNerney's
Ferris' rooms were littered with the score of newspapers over
which he had been busied since daybreak, and his breakfast stood
still untasted at his side. He wavered between his desire for
self-protection and his fear of the hard-featured Stillwell.
In his own heart Ferris cared not a whit whether Clayton had been
waylaid by accidental thugs, betrayed at the bank, duped by some
insidious woman, or slain by an inner conspiracy of the employees.
"The money is gone, the cheques will probably be replaced," he
grumbled. "Damn the company's interests! I am glad of their loss.
The Worthington Estate will probably make it good.
"But I must go over and show up. I cannot afford to be suspected
here. God knows what game is on, with Stillwell now as chief of
He had decided to make a brief visit at the office, and to then
visit Stillwell, and resign his vice-presidency, on the ground of
ill-health. "I'll lay off then, watch the game, keep silence, and
The long, weary hours of the night had brought him one consolation.
As he reached for his hat and gloves, he laughed bitterly. "She
may pay a round price to be rid of me, and then I'll keep all her
secrets as well as mine! A kind of armed neutrality!"
At the door, he was confronted by the grave-faced captain of
detectives. "You are wanted, Mr. Ferris, at once, at the company's
office," sharply said the official, with a comprehensive glance at
"Stillwell is there, and we wish to take your statement. We propose
to avenge poor Clayton's murder. You were probably the last person
who had a confidential interview with him."
"I know it," frankly answered Ferris, "and was on my way over when
you knocked." The two men soon joined a silent circle of the higher
officials of the company, gathered about Counsellor Stillwell,
in Manager Wade's office. Ferris felt the freezing taciturnity of
the detective on the short walk, and even more the greeting of the
Bowing to Stillwell, the defeated schemer said, "Before we begin,
I wish a word with you in private."
"There is to be no privacy here, sir," coldly replied the lawyer,
"save the actions of the police. We are all equally interested in
discovering poor Clayton's murderer.
"As you branded him as a thief, you can, at least, let us all hear
your whole statement now. We have stenographers, a notary, and you
can send for a lawyer if you wish counsel."
"I'll not delay you a single moment," resentfully said Ferris,
springing to a writing table. He handed a few lines to the astonished
attorney, and said, in a ringing voice, "Read that aloud! Let the
secretary give me a written acknowledgment. Then, swear me, and I
will make a voluntary statement."
There was a general murmur of surprise as Stillwell read
the unconditional resignation of Arthur Ferris as vice-president,
director, and special counsel of the Western Trading Company.
In the awkward pause which followed, Ferris remarked boldly:
"I intended to ask for an indefinite leave on account of breaking
health. I shall now remain here, as an ordinary witness, subject
to your orders, and with no other interest than to clear up the
In half an hour Ferris had closed his artful disclosures. "Any
matters occurring between the late Mr. Worthington and myself are
confidential as between lawyer and client."
In the circle, Messrs. Boardman and Warner watched with ferret eyes
every movement of the man who only gazed into the faces of enemies.
"That is all, for the present," significantly said Stillwell, when
the chief of police, the head detective, and himself had hurled
the last questions at Ferris.
"I will then retire," defiantly remarked Ferris. "With this
statement to all men, I shall now be mute to all questioners save
the proper authorities. I have turned twenty reporters away this
morning without a word, and the police authorities can reach me at
my hotel, until they have closed their labors. Then my connection
with this company and its affairs terminates forever."
He gazed fiercely at the impassive face of John Witherspoon, and
rising, with a bow of general adieu, stalked into the hall.
But he turned as Boardman, Warner, and Witherspoon, following, drew
him into the room where Clayton had fought out his life struggles.
"You may now deliver us the papers taken from this desk, and so,
escape a prosecution," firmly remarked Boardman. Ferris sat down
at the table and wrote a few lines. Handing the paper to the senior
executor, he said, with a cutting sneer:
"There is my bill for one hundred thousand dollars for legal services
in the last five years for Hugh Worthington. Upon its approval and
payment, I will deliver over all the papers of our long intimacy,
and sign clean receipts.
"I will then stipulate not to approach Miss Worthington in any
manner. Here are all the valueless papers you demand. Will you give
me a receipt for them?"
"You took them surreptitiously! You can well afford to trust our
honor," snappishly said Warner. "Very good," added Boardman. "You
will hear from us, as to your claim, in due time."
When Arthur Ferris' footfall died out upon the stair, Boardman
drily remarked, as he pocketed the bill, "The price of a scoundrel's
silence! Well, we will see! But the fellow really knows nothing of
the murder! Let us go to work, gentlemen."
When they returned to the conference room, below them, on the street,
the deposed favorite of fortune was chatting with a new officer on
"McNerney? Oh, yes," grinned the strange policeman. "He has taken
two-months' leave and goes over to see his ould mother, in Oireland.
His home address, sure, I don't know. Mayhap the sergeant can tell
While the bluecoat sauntered away, Ferris mentally recorded another
mistake. "I should have thrown the hat-box after the hat," he
murmured. "A few hundred dollars would have been well spent. And yet
he is probably in their ring now. His 'leave of absence' indicates
a very sudden return of affection for the 'ould mother.'"
Ferris now decided upon a policy of open frankness and calm
indifference. "There is no one I could have made use of, but that
Jew office boy," he mused, as he sauntered up Broadway, "and they
have bought him out, over my head. I will let my little bill for
"legal services" ripen. I can afford to let my 'legal field' lie
fallow for the summer."
And yet he cursed the memory of the innocent victim of the
mysterious murder. "But for her sentimental hubbub, I could have
easily managed Alice. This fellow's strange death gives him the
halo of martyrdom. He is out of my reach now. The old man must
have feared the 'Iron Gate' of Death! And, after all, his plans
to 'efface' Clayton were only inchoate. I cannot terrify them with
any hearsay projects. I must get what I can, cling to Dunham, and
"The marriage! That means just the one hundred thousand dollars!
I will save it and my good name by submitting in silence."
He signalled a passing carriage and ordered the man to drive him
far "up the road," out of range of the shrill-voiced newsboys,
hawking their "extras," with "Full accounts of the great murder
For a brief day the name of Randall Clayton was on every one's lips.
There were hundreds clustered around the morgue, where already the
mute witness who had drifted back under the arch of the Brooklyn
Bridge lay in the gloomy state of death. The hasty verdict of "death
from murder committed by parties unknown," was all the record of
the darkly-veiled happening.
It was a blind trail, after all, which had ended this open and
honorable career in the sight of all men. The electric lights were
throwing fitful gleams upon the black waters whirling past the
Brooklyn Bridge, when the executors, with Witherspoon, gathered
around Miss Alice Worthington in the drawing-room of the Stillwell
There was also the tired counsellor, who had also vainly probed the
officials of the company, the employees of the Astor Place Bank,
and every reachable occupant of the huge business building.
Poor old Somers, for the hundredth time, had rehearsed his story,
and yet it all ended in a blind trail.
While they talked of the dead, in hushed voices, Policeman Dennis
McNerney was chatting with Emil Einstein over the counter of the
Magdal Pharmacy. The keen-eyed policeman noted the efflorescent
jewelry, and the resplendent garb of the too-prosperous-looking
Notwithstanding the Jewish boy's sudden prosperity, there were
deeply-marked dark circles about his eyes. The Bowery's delights
were telling upon the frightened lad, who had sealed his glib tongue
now behind lying lips. Flattered by the "cop's" familiar manner,
Emil greedily swallowed the ground bait artfully scattered by the
He reeled off the story which he had told to the inquisitors
of parting in the office with Clayton after Somers had given over
the deposits. Before the two separated, Einstein had forgotten his
"Let me know if you pick up any items," said McNerney, giving the
lad a ten-dollar bill, with a secret sorrow at throwing good money
away. "My chum, Jim Condon, and I hope to help get this reward into
our Precinct Squad. Come down to-morrow night to the station, and
I'll introduce you. He'll look out for you, and he can write me
and keep on the trail. I take the next Cunard steamer for Queenstown."
Mr. Ben Timmins, as host, drew McNerney into the little back room,
and the three smacked their lips over the "medicinal brandy," which
had been Fritz Braun's pride.
"Where's the boss?" casually demanded the officer. "He went over
to Germany a couple of months ago," volubly explained Timmins. "I'm
cock o' the walk for a few months now. Drop in and see me, on the
Two hours later, from a dark angle opposite, Officer McNerney saw
Emil Einstein, with swinging steps, cigar in mouth, speed along
In plain clothes, his brow covered with a soft hat, the athletic
policeman dashed along, keeping his prey in view. The lightning
change of uniform gave him a clear protection, and in the thirty
minutes of his necessary absence, the mustache which was McNerney's
pride had disappeared.
"Either he goes to his girl, or else to meet the woman of the
carriage," mused the man, who had sworn to reach a portion of the
now heavily increased award. "Once I locate his 'stamping ground,'
I am on the road to success."
It was twenty minutes before the excited McNerney saw Einstein
slacken his determined pace down the Bowery. McNerney's heart beat,
in wild hopes, as the lad, with furtive glances around, began to
linger around the corner of the Dry Dock Bank.
"Is it the ten dollars burning in his pocket?" murmured the excited
man. "Some cheap woman foolery?"
His practiced eye soon told him of the lad's determined purpose.
For, in all the hovering movements, the office boy never left one
or the other front of the bank building.
And none of the loungers, no street waif, no bedaubed siren
lingered in colloquy there in the shadows of the respected fiduciary
institution. "It's a poor fishing ground for the fancy," growled
McNerney, as he suddenly darted forward in pursuit.
A woman, whose gliding walk and shapely voluptuousness of body
indicated the Polish Jewess, paused, and bending her head, without
a word of salutation, listened to the eager lad. The hands of the
two met, in the darkness, and then Einstein sped back into the
glaring Bowery, while the dark-robed woman pursued her way toward
the East River.
"No bad walker," was McNerney's forced conclusion, as he gathered
himself. The unknown had swept around the corner from the south
and turned eastwardly to meet the waiting lad, with the sure gait
of one who knew she was waited for.
On, onward, with undulating lissom swing, the veiled woman sped,
McNerney judiciously regulating his gait. And all her settled purpose
was evident in the measured flight, the head never once turned in
curious gaze, and the singularity of her march.
At last, halting before a respectable-looking tenement-house on
First Avenue, the woman turned into the open hallway and paused at
the door of the lefthand apartment.
In an instant there was a flash of light within, and then the dimly
outlined shadows of a woman moving from behind the linen curtains.
"Fairly run to earth! It's a good night's work!" laughed McNerney.
"Things are going my way at last!" He hastened off and, jumping on
the nearest car, sought his own home by a round-about way. "Now,
Dennis, my boy," he said, as he stuffed his pipe. "One bit of
hurry, and ye are ruined! I have two birds to watch. And I know
her perch, their meetingplace, and the boy's own den!" He now saw
airy castles of Spain gaily rising in the smoke wreaths around him.
"To-morrow," he said, "I will prospect, and I think I'll borrow
Mrs. Haggerty's boy, Dan, to hunt for a tailor in that building.
He is sharp and he can knock at the door by mistake, so I'll get
her general description.
"If the janitor is a fair man to jolly, Dan must then find out his
pet saloon, and I'll make a new friend on the East Side.
"But I must disappear, after I have met this boy Einstein at the
station. I'll have to slip on a false mustache for ten minutes.
Jim Condon can bring him out to me in the dark. He can tell him I
don't care to run up against the sergeant."
On Central Park West there was a circle of astonished listeners,
when Doctor William Atwater had closed the conference by reporting
his inability to trace a single enemy of the murdered man. Counsellor
Stillwell, in a grave reverie, listened and abandoned all present
hope of any clue to the cowardly murder.
"All seems darkness around us, now," he sighed. "The journals, the
police, the detectives, and our own private searches have failed
to locate any suspicion, however fleeting.
"It only remains for us, while awaiting some unravelling of the
mystery, to unite in the fitting burial of the unfortunate gentleman,
when the Coroner has finished his dreary labors. He had not a
single enemy in the world! It was the fatal trust of the vast money
handling which caused his murder. And only after long plotting and
careful daily watch was he foully done to death."
Alice Worthington's clear voice startled each listener as she said,
"There is but one faint clue clinging to the past. A transaction
which might have drawn upon him the vengeance of some one. I have
kept this secret until all else failed.
"Before my father's death, even in those last hours of lingering
agony, he signed a deed as trustee for Everett Clayton, which
transfers to Randall Clayton one-half of the Detroit Depot lands,
or one-half of its purchase price. This money, nearly a million
dollars, goes now into the estate of the dead man!"
"My God!" whispered Witherspoon, as Doctor Atwater grasped both
his hands. "If any one had an interest in concealing that vast
property, we must look for them, for the plot which led to Clayton's
murder. My poor father pledged me to secrecy until I had delivered
the deed and the legal acknowledgment of his property interest to
Clayton. It was for this that my father wished to meet Randall at
Cheyenne--to tell him of the fortune which had come to him!"
The girl's sobbing voice touched every heart as she faltered,
"Judge Downs, at Pasco, drew all the papers and acknowledgments,
and, after my father's death, he explained all the details to
me. But father," she cried, with a gust of stormy tears, "told me
himself of the discovery of the value of this property, and that
he had feared to arouse poor Randall's hopes until the Railway
Company had purchased the land."
Her voice died away; its accent of truth had brought the astounded
lawyers to their feet; but in a corner Doctor Atwater whispered to
Jack Witherspoon, who was shaking as a leaf in a storm.
"Silence, my friend," he murmured. "This makes you a millionaire.
Say nothing to-night. Confide only in Alice. You and I must tell
her, alone, and later, of Clayton's will. If Ferris knew of this,
he is the murderer."
The grave voice of Boardman alone broke the silence. "This is matter
of the gravest moment, and only to be discussed in the future, my
dear child," he said. "Gentlemen, we will suspend all our labors
until we have had ample time for reflection. We may find the
murderer hiding under the shadow of this useless fortune. For I
believe poor Clayton left no heir. Even gold can be useless at the
Witherspoon's temples were throbbing as Doctor Atwater hurried
him away to his home. "There is a mystery of mysteries, my boy,"
sadly said Atwater, "in the strange turn of Fortune's wheel which
throws the millions into Francine Delacroix's pretty white hands.
"Rouse yourself! We must think, act, and avenge our friend! It