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The Red Seal by Natalie Sumner Lincoln

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"Surely; and won't you have an ice?" Barbara's hospitable instincts
were aroused. "Here, waiter -"

"No, thanks; I haven't time," protested Parker, slipping into the
chair. "I just came from your house, Miss McIntyre; the butler said
I might find you here, and as it was rather important, I took the
liberty of introducing myself. We plan to run a story, featuring
the dangers of masquerading in society, and of course it hinges on
the death of Mr. Turnbull. I'm sorry" - he apologized as he saw
Barbara wince. "I realize the topic is one to make you feel badly;
but I promise to ask only few questions." His smile was very
engaging and Barbara's resentment receded somewhat.

"What are they?" she asked.

"Did you recognize Mr. Turnbull in his burglar's make-up when you
confronted him in the police court?" Parker drew out copy paper and
a pencil, and waited for her reply. There was a pause.

"I did not recognize Mr. Turnbull in court," she stated finally.
"His death was a frightful shock."

"Sure. It was to everybody," agreed Parker. "How about your sister,
Miss Barbara; did she recognize him?"

"No." faintly.

Parker showed his disappointment; he was not eliciting much
information. Abruptly he turned to Clymer, whose prominent position
in the financial world made him a familiar figure to all
Washingtonians.

"Weren't you present in the police court on Tuesday morning also?"
Parker asked.

"Yes," Clymer modified the curt monosyllable by adding, "I helped
Dr. Stone carry Turnbull out of the prisoners' cage and into the
anteroom."

"And did you recognize your cashier?" demanded Parker. At the
question Barbara set down her goblet of water without care for its
perishable quality and looked with quick intentness at the banker.

"I recognized Mr. Turnbull when his wig was removed," answered
Clymer, raising his head in time to catch Barbara's eyes gazing
steadfastly at him. With a faint flush she turned her attention
to the reporter.

"Mr. Turnbull's make-up must have been superfine," Parker remarked.
"Just one more question. Can you tell me if Mr. Philip Rochester
recognized his room-mate when he was defending him in court?"

"No, I cannot," and observing Parker's blank expression, she added,
"why don't you ask Mr. Rochester?"

"Because I can't locate him; he seems to have vanished off the face
of the globe." The reporter rose. "You can't tell me where's he's
gone, I suppose?"

"I haven't the faintest idea," answered Barbara truthfully. "I was
at his office this -" she stopped abruptly on finding that Mrs.
Brewster was standing just behind her. Had the widow by chance
overheard her remark? If so, her father would probably learn of her
visit to the office of Rochester and Kent that morning.

"Do I understand that Philip Rochester is out of town?" inquired Mrs.
Brewster. "Why, I had an appointment with him to-morrow."

"He's gone and left no address that I can find," explained Parker.
"Thank you, Miss McIntyre; good evening," and the busy reporter
hurried away.

There was a curious expression in Mrs. Brewster's eyes, but she
dropped her gaze on her finger bowl too quickly for Clymer to
analyze its meaning.

"What can have taken Mr. Rochester out of town?" she asked. The
question was not addressed to any one in particular, but Colonel
McIntyre answered it, as he did most of the widow's remarks.

"Dry Washington," he explained. "It isn't the first trip Philip has
made to Baltimore since the 'dry' law has been in force, eh, Clymer?"

"No, and it won't be his last," was the banker's response. "What's
the matter, Miss McIntyre?" as Barbara pushed back her chair.

"I feel a little faint," she stammered. "The air here is - is
stifling. If you don't mind, father, I'll take the car and drive
home."

"I'll come with you," announced Mrs. Brewster, rising hurriedly;
and as she turned solicitously to aid Barbara she caught Colonel
McIntyre's admiring glance and his whispered thanks.

Outside the caf Clymer discovered that the McIntyre limousine was
not to be found, and, cautioning Barbara and the widow to remain
where they were, he went back into the caf in search of Colonel
McIntyre, who had stayed behind to pay his bill.

A sudden exodus from the caf as other diners came out to get their
cars, separated Barbara from Mrs. Brewster just as the former caught
sight of her father's limousine coming around McPherson Square. Not
waiting to see what had become of her companion, Barbara started up
the sidewalk intent on catching their chauffeur's attention. As she
stood by the curb, a figure brushed by her and a paper was deftly
slipped inside her hand.

Barbara wheeled about abruptly. She stood alone, except for several
elaborately dressed women and their companions some yards away who
were indulging in noisy talk as they hurried along. At that moment
the McIntyre limousine stopped at the curb and the chauffeur opened
the door.

"Take me home, Harris," she ordered. "And then come back for Mrs.
Brewster and father. I don't feel well - hurry."

"Very good, miss," and touching his cap the chauffeur swung his car
up Fifteenth Street.

The limousine had turned into Massachusetts Avenue before Barbara
switched on the electric lamp in the car and opened the note so
mysteriously given to her. She read feverishly the few lines it
contained

Dear Helen:
The coroner will call an inquest. Secrete letter "B."

The note was unsigned but it was in the handwriting of Philip
Rochester.

CHAPTER VII

THE RED SEAL

The gloomy morning, with leaden skies and intermittent rain,
reflected Harry Kent's state of mind. He could not fix his
attention on the business letters which Sylvester placed before him;
instead, his thoughts reverted to the scene in Rochester's and
Turnbull's apartment the night before, the elusive visitor he had
found there on his arrival, his interview with Detective Ferguson,
and above all the handkerchief, saturated with amyl nitrite, and
bearing the small embroidered letter "B" - the initial, insignificant
in size, but fraught with dire possibilities if, as Ferguson hinted,
Turnbull had been put to death by an over-dose of the drug. "B "
- Barbara; Barbara - "B" - his mind rang the changes; pshaw! other
names than Barbara began with "B."

"Shall I transcribe your notes, Mr. Kent?" asked Sylvester, and Kent
awakened from his reverie, discovered that he had scrawled the name
Barbara and capital "Bs" on the writing pad. He tore off the sheet
and crumpled it into a small ball. "No, my notes are unimportant "
Kent unlocked his desk and took some manuscript from one of the
drawers. "Make four copies of this brief, then call up the printer
and ask how soon he will complete the work on hand. Has Mr. Clymer
telephoned?

"Not this morning." Sylvester rose, papers in hand. "There has been
a Mr. Parker of the Post who telephones regularly once an hour to ask
for Mr. Rochester's address and when he is expected at the office."
He paused and looked inquiringly at Kent. "What shall I say the next
time he calls?"

"Switch him on my phone," briefly. "That is all now, Sylvester.
I must be in court by noon, so have the brief copied by eleven."

"Yes, sir," and Sylvester departed, only to return a second later.
"Miss McIntyre to see you," he announced, and stood aside to allow
the girl to enter.

It was the first time Kent had seen Helen since the tragedy of
Tuesday, and as he advanced to greet her he noted with concern her
air of distress and the troubled look in her eyes. Her composed
manner was obviously only maintained by the exertion of self-control,
for the hand she offered him was unsteady.

"You are so kind," she murmured as he placed a chair for her. "Babs
told me you have promised your aid, and so I have come -" she
pressed one hand to her side as if she found breathing difficult
and Kent, reaching for his pitcher of ice water which stood near at
hand, filled a tumbler and gave it to her.

"Take a little," he coaxed as she moved as if to refuse the glass.
"Why didn't you telephone and I would have called on you; in fact,
I planned to run in and see you this afternoon.

"It is wiser to have our talk here," she replied. Setting down the
empty glass she gazed about the office and her face brightened at
sight of a safe standing in one corner. "Is that yours or Philip's?"
she asked, pointing to it.

"The safe? Oh, it's for our joint use, owned by the firm, you know,"
explained Kent, somewhat puzzled by her eagerness.

"Do you keep your private papers there, as well as the firm's?" '

"Oh, yes; Philip has retained one section and I the other." Kent
walked over and threw open the massive door which he had unlocked
on entering the office and left ajar. "Would you like to see the
arrangements of the compartments?"

Without answering Helen crossed the room and stood by his side.

"Which is Philip's section?" she asked.

"This," and Kent touched the side of the safe.

Helen turned around and inspected the office; the outer door through
which she had entered was closed, as were also the private door
leading directly into the outside corridor, and the one opening into
the closet. Convinced that they were really alone, she took from
her leather hand-bag a white envelope and handed it to Kent.

"Please put this in Philip's compartment," she said, and as he
hesitated, she added pleadingly, "Please do it, Harry, and ask no
questions."

Kent looked at her wonderingly; the girl was obviously laboring
under intense excitement of some sort, which might at any moment
break into hysteria. Bottling up his curiosity, he stooped down
in front of the safe.

"Certainly I will put the envelope away for you," he agreed cheerily.
"Wait, though, I must find if Philip left the key of the compartment
on his bunch." He took from his pocket the keys he had found so
useful the night before, and selected one that resembled the key to
his own compartment, and inserted it in the lock. To his surprise
he discovered the compartment was already unlocked. Without comment
he pulled open the inside drawer and started to lay the white
envelope on top of the papers already there, when he hesitated.

"The envelope is unaddressed, Helen," he remarked, extending it
toward her. She waved it back.

"It is sealed with red wax," she stated. "That is all that is
necessary for identification."

Kent turned over the envelope - the flap was held down securely with
a large red seal which bore the one letter "B." He dropped the
envelope inside the drawer, locked the compartment, and closed the
door of the safe.

"Let us talk," he suggested and led the way back to their chairs.
"Helen," he began, after she was seated. "There is nothing I will
not do for your sister Barbara," his manner grew earnest. "I -" he
flushed; baring his feelings to another, no matter how sympathetic
that other was, was foreign to his reserved nature. "I love her
beyond words to express. I tell you this to - to - gain your trust."

"You already have it, Harry!" Impulsively Helen extended her hand,
and he held it in a firm clasp for a second. "Babs and I have come
at once to you in our trouble."

"Yes, but you have only hinted what that trouble, was," he reminded
her gently. "I cannot really aid you until you give me your full
confidence."

Helen looked away from him and out of the window. The relief, which
had lighted her face a moment before, had vanished. It was some
minutes before she answered.

"Babs told you that I suspected Jimmie did not die from angina
pectoris -" She spoke with an effort.

"Yes."

She waited a second before continuing her remarks. "I have asked
the coroner to make an investigation." She paused again, then added
with more animation, "He is the one to tell us if a crime has been
committed."

"He can tell if death has been accelerated by a weapon, or a drug,"
responded Kent; he was weighing his words carefully so that she
might understand him fully. "But to constitute a crime, it has to
be proved first, that the act has been committed, and second, that
a guilty mind or malice prompted it. Can you furnish a clew to
establish either of the last mentioned facts in connection with
Jimmie's death?"

Kent wondered if she had heard him, she was so long in replying,
and he was about to repeat his question when she addressed him.

"Have you heard from Coroner Penfield?"

"No. I tried several times to get him on the telephone, but without
success," replied Kent; his disappointment at not receiving an
answer to his question showed in his manner. "I went to Penfield's
house last night, but he had been called away on a case and,
although I waited until nearly ten o'clock, he had not returned when
I left. Have you had word from him?"

"Not - not directly." She had been nervously twisting her
handkerchief about in her fingers; suddenly she turned and looked
full at Kent, her eyes burning feverishly. "I would give all I
possess, my hope of future happiness even, if I could prove that
Jimmie died from angina pectoris."

Kent looked at her in mingled sympathy and doubt. - What did her
words imply - further tragedy?

"Jimmie might not have died from angina pectoris," he said, "and
still not have been poisoned -"

"You mean -"

"Suicide."

Slowly Helen took in his meaning, but she volunteered no remark,
and Kent after a pause, added, "While I have not seen Coroner
Penfield I did hear last night what killed Jimmie." Helen
straightened up, one hand pressed to her heart. "It was a lethal
dose of amyl nitrite."

"Amyl nitrite," she repeated. "Yes, I have heard that it is given
for heart trouble. How" - she looked at him queerly. "How is it
administered?"

"By crushing a capsule in a handkerchief and inhaling its fumes "
- he was watching her closely. "The handkerchief Jimmie was seen
to use just before he died was found to contain two or more broken
capsules."

Helen sat immovable for over a minute, then she bowed her head and
burst into dry tearless sobs which wracked her body. Kent laid a
tender hand on her shoulder, then concluding it was better for her
to have her cry out, he wandered aimlessly about the office waiting
for her to regain her composure.

He stopped before one of the windows facing south and stared moodily
at the Belasco Theater. That playhouse had surely never staged a
more complicated mystery than the one he had set himself to unravel.
What consolation could he offer Helen? If he encouraged her belief
in his theory that Jimmie committed suicide he would have to
establish a motive for suicide, and that motive might prove to be
the theft of Colonel McIntyre's valuable securities. Threatened
with exposure as a thief and forger, Jimmie had committed suicide,
so would run the verdict; the fact of his suicide was proof of his
guilt of the crime Colonel McIntyre virtually charged him with, and
vice versa.

What had been discovered to point to murder? The finding of a
handkerchief, saturated with amyl nitrite, which had not belonged
to the dead man. Proof - bah! it was ridiculous! What more likely
than that Jimmie, while in the McIntyre house before his arrest as
a burglar, had picked up one of Barbara's handkerchiefs, stuffed
it inside his pocket, and when threatened with exposure on being
held for the grand jury, had, in desperation, crushed the amyl
nitrite capsules in Barbara's handkerchief and killed himself.

Kent drew a long, long sigh. His faith in Jimmie's honesty was
shaken at last by the accumulative evidence, and he was convinced
that he had found the solution to the problem, but how impart it to
the weeping girl? To prove her lover a thief, forger, and suicide
was indeed a task he shrank from.

A ring at the telephone caused Kent to move hastily to the
instrument; when he hung up the receiver Helen was adjusting her
veil before a mirror over the mantel.

"Colonel McIntyre is in the next room," he said, keeping his voice
lowered.

"My father!" Helen's eyes were hard and dry. "Does he know that
I am here?"

"I don't know; Sylvester simply said he had called to see me and
is waiting in the outer office." Observing her indecision, Kent
opened the door leading directly into the corridor. "You can leave
this way without encountering Colonel McIntyre."

Helen hurried through the door and paused in the corridor to whisper
feverishly in Kent's ear, "Promise me you will remain faithful to
Barbara whatever develops."

"I will!" Kent's pledge rang out clearly, and Helen with a lighter
heart turned to walk away when a telegraph boy appeared around the
corner of the corridor and thrust a yellow envelope at Kent, who
stood half inside his office watching Helen.

"Sign here," the boy said, indicating the line on the receipt slip,
and getting it back, departed.

Motioning to Helen to wait, Kent tore open the telegram. It was
from Cleveland and dated the night before. The message ran:
Called to Cleveland. Address City Club. Rochester.

Without comment Kent held out the telegram so that Helen could
read it.

"What!" she exclaimed. "Philip in Cleveland last night. I - I
- don't understand." And looking at her Kent was astounded at the
flash of terror which shone for an instant in her eyes. Before he
had time to question her she bolted around the corridor.

Kent remained staring ahead for an instant then returned thoughtfully
to his office, and within a second Sylvester received a telephone
message to show Colonel McIntyre into Kent's office. Not only
Colonel McIntyre followed the clerk into the room but Benjamin
Clymer. "Any further developments, Kent?" inquired the banker.
"No, we can't sit down; just dropped in to see you a minute."

"There is nothing new," Kent had made instant decision; such
information regarding the death of Turnbull as he had gleaned from
Ferguson, and the events of the night before should be confided to
Clymer alone, and not in the presence of Colonel McIntyre.

"Did you search Turnbull's apartment last night as you spoke of
doing?" asked McIntyre.

"I did, and found no trace of your securities, Colonel."

McIntyre lifted his eyebrows as he smiled sarcastically. "Can I
see Rochester?" he asked.

"He is in Cleveland; I don't know just when he will be back."

"Indeed? Too bad you haven't the benefit of his advice," remarked
McIntyre insolently. "At Clymer's request, Kent, I have allowed
you until Saturday night to find the securities and either clear
Turnbull's name or admit his guilt; there remain two days and a
half before I take the affair in my own hands and make it public."

"I hope to establish Turnbull's innocence before that time," retorted
Kent coolly.

Inwardly his spirits sank; had not every effort on his part brought
but further proof of Jimmie's guilt? That McIntyre would make no
attempt to hush up the scandal was obvious.

"Keep me informed of your progress," McIntyre's manner was
domineering and Kent felt the blood mount to his temples, but he
was determined not to lose his temper whatever the provocation;
McIntyre was Barbara's father.

Clymer, aware that the atmosphere was getting strained,
diplomatically intervened.

"Dine with me to-night, Kent," he said. "Perhaps you will then
have some news that will throw light on the present whereabouts of
the securities. I found, on making inquiries, that they have not
been offered for sale in the usual channels. Come, McIntyre, I
have a directors' meeting in twenty minutes."

McIntyre, who had been swinging his walking stick from one hand to
the other in marked impatience, turned to Kent, his manner more
conciliatory.

"Pleasant quarters you have," he remarked. "Does Rochester share
his room with you?"

"No, Colonel, his is across the ante-room where you waited a few
minutes ago," explained Kent as he accompanied his visitors to the
door. "This is my office."

"Ah, yes, I thought as much on seeing only one desk," McIntyre's
manner grew more cordial. "Does Rochester's furniture duplicate
yours, safe and all?"

"Safe - no, he has none; that is the firm's safe." Kent was
becoming restless under so many personal questions. "Good-by, Mr.
Clymer."

"Don't forget to-night at eight," the banker reminded him before
stepping into the corridor. "We'll dine at the Club de Vingt.
Come along, McIntyre."

Sylvester stopped Kent on his way back to his office and handed
him the neatly typewritten copies of his brief, and with a word of
thanks the lawyer went over to his desk and, gathering such papers
as he required at the court house, he thrust them and the brief
into his leather bag, but instead of hurrying on his way, he stood
still to consider the events of the morning.

Helen McIntyre, during their interview, had not responded to his
appeal for her confidence, nor vouchsafed any reason for her belief
that Jimmie Turnbull had been the victim of foul play. And Colonel
McIntyre had given him only until Saturday night to solve the
problem! Kent's overwrought feelings found vent in an emphatic oath.

"Excuse me," exclaimed Sylvester mildly from the doorway. "I knocked
and understood you to say come in.

"Well, what is it?" Kent's nerves were getting a bit raw; a glance
at his watch showed him he had a slender margin only in which to
reach the court house in time for his appointment. Not even waiting
for the clerk's reply he snatched up his brief case and made for the
private door leading into the corridor. But he was destined not to
get away without another interruption.

As Sylvester was hastily explaining, "Two gentlemen to see you, Mr.
Kent," the clerk was thrust aside and Detective Ferguson entered,
accompanied by a deputy marshal.

"Sorry to detain you, Mr. Kent," exclaimed the detective. "I came
to tell you that Coroner Penfield has just called an inquest for
this afternoon to inquire into Jimmie Turnbull's death. Where's
your partner, Mr. Rochester?" looking around inquiringly.

"In Cleveland. Won't I do?" replied Kent, his appointment forgotten
in the news that Ferguson had just given him.

"No, we didn't come for legal advice," Ferguson smiled; then grew
serious. "What's Mr. Rochester's address?"

Kent walked over to his desk and picked up the telegram. "The City
Club, Cleveland," he stated.

"Thanks," Ferguson jotted down the address in his note-book.
"Jones, here," placing his hand on his companion, "came to serve
Mr. Rochester with a subpoena; he's wanted at the Turnbull inquest
as a material witness."

CHAPTER VIII

THE INQUEST

Coroner Penfield adjusted his eyeglasses and scanned the spectators
gathered for the Turnbull inquest. The room was crowded with both
men and women, the latter predominating, and the coroner decided
that, while some had come from a personal interest in the dead man,
the majority had been attracted by morbid curiosity. There was a
stir among the spectators as an inner door opened and the jury,
led by the morgue master filed into the room and took their places.
Coroner Penfield rose and addressed the foreman.

"Have you viewed the body?" he inquired.

"Yes, doctor," and the man sat down.

Coroner Penfield then concisely stated the reason for the inquest
and summoned Officer O'Ryan to the witness stand. The policeman
stood, cap in hand, while being sworn by the morgue master, and
then took his place on the platform in the chair reserved for the
witnesses.

His answer to Coroner Penfield's questions relative to his name,
residence in Washington, and length of service in the city Police
Force were given with brevity and a rich Irish brogue.

"Where were you on Tuesday morning at about five o'clock?" asked
Penfield, first consulting some memoranda on his desk.

"On my way home," explained O'Ryan. My relief had just come."

"Does your beat take in the McIntyre residence? "

"It does, sir."

"Did you observe any one loitering in the vicinity of the residence
prior to five o'clock, Tuesday morning?"

"No, sir. It was only when the lady called to me that I was
attracted to the house."

"Did she state what was the matter?"

"Yes, sir. She said that she had locked a burglar in a closet, and
to come and get him, and I did so," and O'Ryan expanded his chest
with an air of satisfaction as be glanced about the morgue.

"Did the burglar resist arrest?"

"No, sir; he came very peaceably and not a word out of him."

"Had you any idea that the burglar was not what he seemed?"

"Devil an idea, begging your pardon - O'Ryan remembered hastily
where he was. "The burglar looked the part he was masquerading,
and his make-up was perfect," ended O'Ryan with relish. "Never
gave me a hint he was a gentleman and a bank cashier in disguise."

Kent, who had arrived at the morgue a few minutes before the
policeman commenced his testimony, smiled in spite of himself. He
was feeling exceedingly low spirited, and had come to the inquest
with inward foreboding as to its result. On what developed there,
he Was convinced, hung Jimmie Turnbull's good name. After his
interview with Detective Ferguson that morning, he had wired Philip
Rochester to return to Washington at once. He had requested an
immediate reply, and had fully expected to find a telegram at his
office when he stopped there on his way to the morgue, but none had
come.

"Whom did you see in the McIntyre house?" the coroner asked O'Ryan.

"No one sir, except the burglar and Miss McIntyre."

"Did you find any doors or windows unlocked?"

"No, sir; I never looked to see."

"Why not?"

"Because the young lady said that she had been over the house and
everything was then fastened." O'Ryan looked anxiously at the
coroner. Would he make him out derelict in his duty? It would
seriously affect his standing on the Force. "I took Miss McIntyre's
word for the house, for I had the burglar safe under arrest."

"How did Miss McIntyre appear?"

"Appear? Sure, she looked very sweet in her blue wrapper and her
hair down her back," answered O'Ryan with emphasis.

"She was not fully dressed then?"

"No, sir."

"Was Miss McIntyre composed in manner or did she appear frightened?"
asked Penfield. It was one of the questions which Kent had expected,
and he waited with intense interest for the policeman's reply.

"She was very pale and - and breathless like." O'Ryan flapped his
arms about vaguely in his endeavor to demonstrate his meaning. "She
kept begging me to hurry and get the burglar out of the house, and
after telling her that she would have to appear in the Police Court
first thing that morning, I went off with the prisoner."

"Were there lights in the house?" questioned Penfield.

"Only dim ones in the halls and two bulbs turned on in the library;
it's a big room though, and they hardly made any light at all,"
explained O'Ryan; he was particular as to details. "I used
handcuffs on the prisoner, thinking maybe he'd give me the slip in
the dim light, but there was no fight or flight in him."

"Did he talk to you on the way to the station house?"

"No, sir; and at the station he was just as quiet, only answered
the questions the desk sergeant put to him, and that was all,"
stated 0' Ryan.

Penfield laid down his memorandum pad. "All right, O'Ryan; you may
retire," and at the words the policeman left the platform and the
room. He was followed by the police sergeant who had been on desk
duty at the Eighth Precinct on Tuesday morning. His testimony
simply corroborated O'Ryan's statement that the prisoner had done
and said nothing which would indicate that he was other than he
seemed - a housebreaker.

Coroner Penfield paused before calling the next witness and drank
a glass of ice water; the weather had turned unseasonably hot, and
the room in which inquests were held, was stifling, in spite of the
long opened windows at either end.

"Call Miss Helen McIntyre," Penfield said to the morgue master, and
the latter crossed to the door leading to the room where sat the
witnesses. There was instant craning of necks to catch a glimpse
of the society girl about whom, with her twin sister, so much
interest centered.

Helen was extremely pale as she advanced up the room, but Kent,
watching her closely, was relieved to see none of the nervousness
which had been so marked at their interview that morning. She was
dressed with fastidious taste, and as she mounted the platform after
the morgue master had administered the oath, Coroner Penfield rose
and, with a polite gesture, indicated the chair she was to occupy.

"I am Helen McIntyre," she announced c1ear1y. "Daughter of Colonel
Charles McIntyre."

"Tell us the circumstances attending the arrest of James Turnbull,
alias John Smith, in your house on Tuesday morning, Miss McIntyre,"
directed the coroner, seating himself at his table, on which were
writing materials.

"I was sitting up to let in my sister, who had gone to a dance,"
she began, "and fearing I would fall asleep I went down into the
library, intending to sit in one of the window recesses and watch
for her arrival. As I entered the library I saw a figure steal
across the room and disappear inside a closet. I was very
frightened, but had sense enough left to cross softly to the
closet and lock the door." She paused in her rapid recital and
drew a long breath, then continued more slowly:

"I hurried to the window and across the street I saw a policeman
standing under a lamp-post. It took but a minute to call him. The
policeman opened the closet door, put handcuffs on Mr. Turnbull and
took him away."

Coroner Penfield, as well as the jurors, followed her statement
with absorbed attention. At its end he threw down his pencil and
spoke briefly to the deputy coroner, who had been busily engaged in
taking notes of the inquest, and then he turned to Helen.

"You heard no sound before entering the library?"

"No one walking about the house?" he persisted.

"No." She followed the negative with a short explanation. "I lay
down on my bed soon after dinner, not feeling very well, and slept
through the early hours of the night."

"At what hour did you wake up?"

"About four o'clock, or a little after."

"Then you were awake an hour before you discovered the supposed
burglar in your library?"

"Y-yes," Helen's hesitation was faint. "About that length of time."

"And you heard no unusual sounds in that hour's interval?"

"I heard nothing" - her manner was slightly defiant and Kent's heart
sank; if he had only thought to warn her not to antagonize the
coroner.

"Where were you during that hour?"

"Lying down," promptly. "Then, afraid I would drop off to sleep
again, I went downstairs."

Coroner Penfield consulted his notes before asking another question.

"Who lives in your house beside you and your twin sister?" he asked.

"My father, Colonel McIntyre; our house guest, Mrs. Louis C.
Brewster, and five servants," she replied. "Grimes, the butler;
Martha, our maid; Jane, the chambermaid; Hope, our cook; and Thomas,
our second man; the chauffeur, Harris, the scullery maid, and the
laundress do not stay at night."

"Who were at home beside yourself on Monday night and early Tuesday
morning?"

"My father and Mrs. Brewster; I believe the servants were in also,
except Thomas, who had asked permission to spend the night in
Baltimore."

"Miss McIntyre?" Coroner Penfield put the next question in an
impressive manner. "On discovering the burglar why did you not
call your father?"

"My first impulse was to do so," she answered promptly. "But on
leaving the library I passed the window, saw the policeman, and
called him in." She shot a keen look at the coroner, and added
softly, "The policeman was qualified to make an arrest; my father
would have had to summon one had he been there."

"Quite true," acknowledged Penfield courteously. "Now, Miss
McIntyre, why did the prisoner so obligingly walk straight into
a closet on your arrival in the library?"

"I presume he was looking for a way out of the room and blundered
into it," she explained. "There are seven doors opening from our
library; the prisoner may have heard me approaching, become confused,
and walked through the wrong door."

"That is quite plausible - with an ordinary bona-fide burglar,"
agreed Penfield. "But was not Mr. Turnbull acquainted with the
architectural arrangements of your house?"

"He was a frequent caller and an intimate friend," she said, with
dignity. "As to his power of observation and his bump of locality
I cannot say. The library was but dimly lighted."

"Miss McIntyre," Penfield spoke slowly. "Were you aware of the real
identity of the burglar?"

"I had no suspicion that he was not what he appeared," she responded.
"He said or did nothing after his arrest to give me the slightest
inkling of his identity."

Penfield raised his eyebrows and shot a look at the deputy coroner
before going on with his examination.

"You knew Mr. Turnbull intimately, and yet you did not recognize
him?" he asked.

"He wore an admirable disguise." Helen touched her lips with the
tip of her tongue; inwardly she longed for the glass of ice water
which she saw standing on the reporters' table. "Mr. Turnbull's
associates will tell you that he excelled in amateur theatricals."

Penfield looked at her critically for a moment before continuing
his questions. She bore his scrutiny with composure.

"Officer O'Ryan has testified that you informed him you examined
the windows of your house," he said, after a brief wait. "Did you
find any unlocked?"

"Yes; one was open in the little reception room off the front door."

"What floor is the room on?"

"The ground floor."

"Would it have been easy for any one to gain admittance through the
window without attracting attention in the street?" was Penfield's
next question.

"Yes."

"Miss McIntyre," Penfield rose, "I have only a few more questions
to put to you. Why did Mr. Turnbull come to your house - a house
where he was a welcome visitor - in the middle of the night
disguised. as a burglar?"

The reporters as well as the spectators bent forward to catch her
reply.

"Mr. Turnbull had a wager with my sister, Barbara," she explained.
"She bet him that he could not break into the house without being
discovered."

Penfield considered her answer before addressing her again.

"Why didn't Mr. Turnbull tell you who he was when you had him
arrested?" he asked.

Helen shrugged her shoulders. "I cannot answer that question, for
I do not know his reason. If he had only confided in me" - her
voice shook -" he might have been alive to-day."

"How so?" Penfield shot the question at her.

"Because then he would have been spared the additional excitement
of his trip to the police station and the scene in court, which
brought on his attack of angina pectoris."

Penfield regarded her for a moment in silence.

"I have no further questions, Miss McIntyre," he said, and turned
to the morgue master. "Ask Miss Barbara McIntyre to come to the
platform." Turning back to his table and the papers thereon he
failed to see the twins pass each other in the aisle. They were
identically attired and when Coroner Penfield looked again at the
witness chair, he stared in surprise at its occupant.

"I beg pardon, Miss McIntyre, I desire your sister to testify,"
he remarked.

"I am Barbara McIntyre." A haunting quality in her voice caught
Kent's attention, and he leaned eagerly forward, his eyes following
each movement of her nervous fingers, busily twisting her gloves
inside and out.

"I beg your pardon," exclaimed the coroner, recovering from his
surprise. He had seen the twins at the police court on Tuesday
morning for a second only, and then his attention had been
entirely centered on Helen. He had heard, but had not realized
until that moment, how striking was the resemblance between the
sisters.

"Miss McIntyre," the coroner cleared his throat and commenced his
examination. "Where were you on Monday night?"

"At a dance given by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Grosvenor."

"At what hour did you return?"

"I think it was half past five or a few minutes earlier."

"Who let you in?"

"My sister."

"Did you see the burglar?"

"He had left," she answered. "My sister told me of her adventure
as we went upstairs to our rooms."

"Miss McIntyre," Penfield picked up a page of the deputy coroner's
closely written notes, and ran his eyes down it. "Your sister has
testified that James Turnbull went to your house disguised as a
burglar on a wager with you. What were the terms of that wager?"

"I bet him that he could not enter the house after midnight without
his presence being detected by our new police dogs," exclaimed
Barbara slowly. She had stopped twirling her gloves about, and one
hand was firmly clenched over the arm of her chair.

"Did the dogs discover his presence in the house?"

"Apparently not, or they would have aroused the household," she said.
"I cannot answer that question, though, because I was not at home."

"Where are the dogs kept?"

"In the garage in the daytime."

"And at night?" he persisted.

"They roam about our house," she admitted, "or sleep in the boudoir,
which is between my sister's bedroom and mine.

"Were the dogs in the house on Monday night?"

"I did not see them on my return from the dance."

"That is not an answer to my question, Miss McIntyre," the coroner
pointed out. "Were the dogs in the house?"

There was a distinct pause before she spoke. "I recall hearing our
butler, Grimes, say that he found the dogs in the cellar. Mr.
Turnbull's shocking death put all else out of my mind; I never once
thought of the dogs."

"In spite of the fact that it was a wager over the dogs which
brought about the whole situation?" remarked the coroner dryly.

Barbara flushed at his tone, then grew pale.

"I honestly forgot about the dogs," she repeated. "Father sent
them out to our country place Tuesday afternoon; they annoyed our
- our guest, Mrs. Brewster."

"In what way?"

"By barking - 'they are noisy dogs."

"And yet they did not arouse the household when Mr. Turnbull broke
into the house - Coroner Penfield regarded her sternly. "How do
you account for that?"

Barbara's right hand stole to the arm of her chair and clasped it
with the same convulsive strength that she clung to the other chair
arm. When she spoke her voice was barely audible.

"I can account for it in two ways," she began. "If the dogs were
accidentally locked in the cellar they could not possibly hear Mr.
Turnbull moving about the house; if they were roaming about and
scented him, they might not have barked because they would recognize
him as a friend."

"Were the dogs familiar with his step and voice?"

"Yes. Only last Sunday he played with them for an hour, and later
in the afternoon took them for a walk in the country."

"I see." Penfield stroked his chin reflectively. "When your sister
told you of finding the burglar and his arrest, did you not, in the
light of your wager, suspect that he might be Mr. Turnbull?"

"No." Barbara's eyes did not falter before his direct gaze. "I
supposed that Mr. Turnbull meant to try and enter the house in his
own proper person; it never dawned on me that he would resort to
disguise. Besides," as the coroner started to make a remark, "we
have had numerous robberies in our neighborhood, and the apartment
house two blocks from us has had a regular epidemic of sneak
thieves."

The coroner waited until Dr. Mayo, who had been writing with
feverish haste, had picked up a fresh sheet of paper before
resuming his examination.

"You accompanied your sister to the police court," he said. "Did
you see the burglar there?"

"Yes."

"Did you realize his identity in the court room?"

"No. I only awoke to - to the situation when I saw him lying dead
with his wig removed. The shock was frightful"- she closed her eyes
for a second, for the room and the rows of faces confronting her
were mixed in a maddening maze and she raised her hand to her
swimming head. When she looked up she found Coroner Penfield by
her side.

"That is all," he said kindly. "Please remain in the witness room,
I may call you again," and he helped her down the step with careful
attention.

Back in his corner Kent watched her departure. He was white to the
lips.

"Heat too much for you?" asked a kindly-faced stranger, and Kent
gave a mumbled "No," as he strove to pull himself together.

What deviltry was afoot? How dared the twins take such risks - to
bear false witness was a grave criminal offense. He, alone, among
all the spectators, had realized that in testifying before the
inquest, the twins had swapped identities.

CHAPTER IX

"B-B-B"

The return of the morgue master to the platform caused Coroner
Penfield to break off his whispered conversation with Dr. Mayo.

"Colonel McIntyre just telephoned that his car had a blow-out on
the way here," explained the morgue master. "He will arrive
shortly."

Penfield consulted a list of names. "Call Grimes, the McIntyre
butler," he said. "We will hear him while waiting for the Colonel."

Grimes, small and thin, with the stolid countenance of the
well-trained servant, was exceedingly short in his replies to the
coroner's questions. Yes, he had lived with the McIntyre during
their residence in Washington, something like five years, he couldn't
quite remember the exact dates. No, there was never any quarreling,
upstairs or down; it was a well-ordered household until this.

"Exactly," remarked the coroner dryly. "What about Monday night?
Tell us, Grimes, what occurred in that house between midnight
Monday and five o'clock Tuesday morning."

"Haven't much to tell," was the grumpy response. "I went upstairs
about half-past eleven and got down the next morning at the usual
hour, seven o'clock."

"And you heard no disturbing sounds in the night?"

"No; sir. We wouldn't be likely to; the servants' rooms are all
at the top of the house and the staircase leading to them has a
brick wall on either side, like stairs leading to an ordinary attic,
and there's a door at the bottom which shuts off all sound from
below." It was the longest sentence the butler had indulged in and
he paused for breath.

"Who closes the house at night. Grimes?"

"I do, sir.

"Why did you leave the window in the reception room open?"

"I didn't, sir," was the prompt denial. "I had just locked it when
Mrs. Brewster came in, along with Colonel McIntyre and Mr. Clymer,
and they sat down to talk. When I left the room the window was
locked fast, and so was every door and window in the place," he
declared aggressively. " I'll take my dying oath to it, sir."
Penfield looked at Grimes; that he was telling the truth was
unmistakable.

"Who sits up to let in the young ladies when they go to balls?" he
asked.

"Generally no one, sir, because Colonel McIntyre accompanies them
or calls for them, and he has his latch-key. Lately," added Grimes
as an after-thought, "Miss Helen has been using a duplicate
latch-key."

"Has Miss Barbara McIntyre a latch-key, also?" asked Penfield.

"No, sir, I believe not," the butler looked dubious. "I recall
that Colonel McIntyre gave Miss Helen her key at the luncheon table,
and he said, then, to Miss Barbara that he couldn't trust her with
one because she would be sure to lose it, she is that careless."

The coroner asked the next question with such abruptness that the
butler started.

"When did you last see Mr. Turnbull at the house?"

"Sunday afternoon." Grimes' reply was spoken with more than his
accustomed quickness of speech. "Mr. Turnbull called twice, after
a long time in the drawing room, he went away taking the police dogs
with him, and later called to bring them back."

"Where were these dogs on Monday night?"

"I last saw them in the library," replied Grimes shortly.

"And where did you find them the next morning?" prompted the coroner.

"In the cellar," laconically.

"And what were they doing in the cellar?"

"Hunting rats."

"And how did the dogs get in the cellar?" inquired the coroner
patiently. Grimes was not volunteering information, even if he
could not be accused of holding it back.

"Some one must have let them down the back stairs," the butler
admitted. "I don't know who it was."

"Which servant got downstairs ahead of you on Tuesday morning?"

"No one, sir; the cook over-slept, and she and the maids came
down in a bunch ten minutes later."

"And who told you of the attempted burglary and the burglar's
arrest?" asked Penfield.

"Miss Barbara. She asked us to hurry breakfast for her and Miss
Helen 'cause they had to go at once to the police court; she didn't
give any particulars, or nothing," added Grimes in an injured tone.
"'Twarn't 'til Thomas and I saw the afternoon papers that we knew
what had been going on in our own house."

"That is all, Grimes," announced Penfield, and the butler left the
platform with the same stolid air he wore when he arrived. He was
followed in the witness chair by the other McIntyre servants in
succession. Their testimony added nothing to what he had said but
simply confirmed his statements.

Kent, who had grown restless during the servants' monotonous
testimony, forgot the oppressive atmosphere of the room on seeing
Mrs. Brewster enter under the escort of the morgue master. Spying
a vacant seat several rows ahead of where he was sitting, Kent,
with a muttered apology to the people over whom he crawled in
his efforts to get out, hurried into it just as the vivacious
widow had finished taking the oath to "tell the truth and nothing
but the truth," and seated herself, with much rustling of silk
skirts in the witness chair.

"State your full name, madam," directed Coroner Penfield, eyeing
her dainty beauty with admiration.

"Margaret Perry Brewster," she answered. "Widow of Louis C.
Brewster. Both I and my late husband were born and lived in Los
Angeles, California."

"Are you visiting the Misses McIntyre?"

"Yes." Mrs. Brewster spoke in a chatty impersonal manner. "I
have been with them since the first of the month."

"Did you attend the Grosvenor dance?" asked the coroner.

"No; the affair was only given for the debutantes of last fall and
did not include married people," she explained. "It was a warm
night and Colonel McIntyre asked Mr. Benjamin Clymer, who was
dining with him, and me, to go for a motor ride, leaving Barbara
at the Grosvenors' en route. We did so, returning to the house
about eleven o'clock, and sat talking until about midnight in the
reception room, then Colonel McIntyre drove Mr. Clymer home, and
I went to my room."

"Were you awakened by any noises during the night?" inquired
Penfield.

"No; I heard no noises." Mrs. Brewster's charming smile was
infectious.

"When did you first learn of the supposed burglary and the death
of James Turnbull?"

"The McIntyre twins told me about the tragedy on their return from
the police court," answered Mrs. Brewster, and settled herself a
little more comfortably in the witness chair.

"When you were in the reception room, Mrs. Brewster " - Penfield
paused and studied his notes a second -" did you observe if the
window was open or closed?"

"It was not open when we entered," she responded. "But the air in
the room was stuffy and at my request Mr. Clymer raised the window."

"Did he close it later?"

She considered the question. "I really do not recall," she admitted
finally. Her eyes strayed toward the door through which she had
entered, and Penfield answered her unspoken thought.

"Just one more question," he said hurriedly. "Did you see the dogs
on Monday night?"

"Yes. I heard them scratching at the door leading to the basement
as I went upstairs, and so I turned around and went down and opened
the door and let them run down into the cellar."

Penfield snapped shut his notebook. "I am greatly obliged, Mrs.
Brewster; we will not detain you longer."

The morgue master stepped forward and helped the pretty widow down
from the platform.

"Colonel McIntyre is here now," he told the coroner.

"Ah, then bring him in," and Penfield, while awaiting the arrival
of the new witness, straightened the papers on his desk.

McIntyre looked straight ahead of him as he walked down the room
and stood frowning heavily while the oath was being administered,
but his manner, when the coroner addressed him, had regained all
the suavity and polish which had first captivated Washington
society.

"I have been a resident of Washington for about five years," he
said in answer to the coroner's question. "My daughters attended
school here after their return from Paris, where they were in a
convent for four years. They made their debut last November at our
home in this city."

"Were you aware of the wager between your daughter Barbara and James
Turnbull?" asked Penfield.

"I heard of it Sunday afternoon but paid little attention," admitted
McIntyre. "My daughter Barbara's vagaries I seldom take seriously."

"Was Mr. Turnbull a frequent visitor at your house?"

"Oh, yes."

"Was he engaged to your daughter Helen?"

"No." McIntyre's denial was prompt and firmly spoken. Penfield
and Kent, from his new seat nearer the platform, watched the
colonel narrowly, but learned nothing from his expression.

"I have heard otherwise," observed the coroner dryly.

"You have been misinformed," McIntyre's manner was short. "I
would suggest, Mr. Coroner, that you confine your questions and
conjectures to matters pertinent to this inquiry."

Penfield flushed as one of the jurors snickered, but he did not
repeat his previous question, asking instead, "Was there good
feeling between you and Mr. Turnbull?"

"I never quarreled with him," replied McIntyre. "I really saw
little of him as, whenever he called at the house, he came to see
one or the other of my daughters, or both."

"When did you last see Mr. Turnbull?" inquired Penfield.

"He was at the house on Sunday and I had quite a talk with him,"
McIntyre leaned back in his chair and regarded the neat crease in
his trousers with critical eyes. "I last saw Turnbull going out
of the street door."

"Were you disturbed by the burglar's entrance on Monday night?"

McIntyre shook his head. "I am a heavy sleeper," he said. "I
regret very much that my daughter Helen did not at once awaken me
on finding the burglar, as she supposed, hiding in the closet. I
knew nothing of the affair until Grimes informed me of it, and
only reached the police court in time to bring my daughters home
from the distressing scene following the identification of the dead
burglar as Jimmie Turnbull."

"Colonel McIntyre," Penfield turned over several papers until he
found the one he sought. "Mrs. Brewster has testified that while
you and she were sitting in the reception room, Mr. Clymer opened
the window. Did you close it on leaving the room?"

McIntyre reflected before answering. "I cannot remember doing so,"
he stated finally. "Clymer was in rather a hurry to leave, and
after bidding Mrs. Brewster good night, we went straight out to
the car and I drove him to the Saratoga."

"Then you cannot swear to the window having been re-locked?"

"I cannot."

Penfield paused a moment. "Did you return immediately to your house
from the Saratoga apartment?"

"I did" promptly. "My chauffeur, Harris, wasn't well, and I wanted
him to get home."

Penfield thought a moment before putting the next question.

"How did Miss Barbara return from the Grosvenor dance?" he asked.

"She was brought home by friends, Colonel and Mrs. Chase." McIntyre
in turning about in his chair knocked down his walking stick from
its resting place against its side, and the unexpected clatter made
several women, nervously inclined, jump in their seats. Observing
them, McIntyre smiled and was still smiling amusedly when Penfield
addressed him.

"Did you observe many lights burning in your house when you
returned?" asked Penfield.

"No, only those which are usually left lit at night."

"Was your daughter Helen awake?"

"I do not know. Her room was in darkness when I walked past her
door on my way to bed."

Penfield removed his eye-glasses and polished them on his silk
handkerchief. "I have no further questions to ask. Colonel, you
are excused."

McIntyre bowed gravely to him and as he left the platform came face
to face with his family physician, Dr. Stone.

Penfield, who was an old acquaintance of the physician's, signed to
him to come on the platform. After the preliminaries had been gone
through, he shifted his chair around, the better to face Stone.

"Did you accompany the Misses McIntyre to the police court on
Tuesday morning?" he asked.

"I did," responded the physician, "at Miss Barbara's request. She
said her sister was not very well and they disliked going alone to
the police court."

"Did she state why she did not ask her father to go with them?"

"Only that he had not fully recovered from an attack of tonsilitis,
which I knew to be a fact, and they did not want him to over-tax
his strength."

There was a moment's pause as the coroner, his attention diverted
by a whispered word or two from the morgue master, referred to his
notes before resuming his examination.

"Did you know James Turnbull?" he asked a second later.

"Yes, slightly."

"Did you recognize him in his burglar's disguise?"

"I did not"

"Had you any suspicion that the burglar was other than he seemed?"

"No."

Penfield picked up a memorandum handed him by Dr. Mayo and referred
to it. "I understand, doctor, that you were the first to go to the
burglar's aid when he became ill," he said. "Is that true?"

"Yes," Stone spoke with more animation. "Happening to glance inside
the cage where the prisoner sat, I saw he was struggling convulsively
for breath. With Mr. Clymer's assistance I carried him into an
ante-room off the court, but before I had crossed its threshold
Turnbull expired in my arms."

"Was he conscious before he died?"

At the question Kent bent eagerly forward. What would be the reply?

"I am not prepared to answer that with certainty," replied Dr. Stone
cautiously. "As I picked him up I heard him stammer faintly:
'B-b-b.'"

Kent started so violently that the man next to him turned and
regarded him for a moment, then, more interested in what was
transpiring on the platform, promptly forgot his agitated neighbor.

"Was Turnbull delirious, doctor?" asked the coroner.

Stone shook his head in denial. "No," he stated. "I take it that
he started to say 'Barbara,' and his breath failed him; at any rate
I only caught the stuttered 'B-b-b.'"

Penfield did not immediately continue his examination, but when he
did so his manner was stern.

"Doctor, what in your opinion caused Mr. Turnbull's death?"

"Judging superficially - I made no thorough examination," Stone
explained parenthetically, "I should say that Mr. Rochester was
right when he stated that Turnbull died from an acute attack of
angina pectoris."

"How did Mr. Rochester come to make that assertion and where?"

"Immediately after Turnbull's death," replied Stone. "Mr. Rochester,
who shared his apartment, defended him in court. Mr. Rochester was
aware that Turnbull suffered from the disease, and Mr. Clymer, who
was present, also knew it."

"And what is your opinion, doctor?" questioned Penfield.

Stone hesitated. "There was a distinct odor of amyl nitrite
noticeable when I went to Turnbull's aid, and I concluded then that
he had some heart trouble and had inhaled the drug to ward off an
attack. It bears out Mr. Rochester's theory of death from angina
pectoris."

"I see. Thank you, doctor. Please wait with the other witnesses;
we may call you again," and with a sigh the busy physician resigned
himself to spending another hour in the room reserved for the
witnesses.

The next to take the witness stand was Deputy Marshal Grant. His
testimony was short and concise, - and his description of the
scene in the police court preceding Turnbull's death was
listened to with deep attention by every one.

"Did the prisoner show any symptoms of illness before his heart
attack?" asked Penfield.

"Not exactly illness," replied Grant slowly. "I noticed he didn't
move very quickly; sort of shambled, as if he was weak in his legs.
I've seen 'drunk and disorderlies' act just that way, and paid no
particular attention to him. He did ask for a drink of water
just after he returned to the cage."

"Did you give it to him?"

"No, an attendant gave the glass to Mr. Rochester who handed it
to Mr. Turnbull."

Penfield regarded Grant in silence for a minute. "That is all,"
he announced, and with a polite bow the deputy marshal withdrew.

Detective Ferguson recognized Kent as he passed up the room to the
platform and gave him a slight bow and smile, but the smile had
disappeared when, at the coroner's request, he told of his arrival
just after the discovery of the burglar's identity.

"I searched the cage where the prisoner had been seated and found
this handkerchief," he went on to say. "It had been dropped by
Turnbull and was saturated with amyl nitrite. I had it examined
by a chemist, who said that this amyl nitrite was given to patients
with heart trouble in little pearl capsules to be crushed in
handkerchiefs and the fumes inhaled.

"The chemist also told me that" - the detective spoke with
impressive seriousness, "judging from the number of particles of
capsules adhering to the linen, more than one capsule had been
crushed by Turnbull. Here is the handkerchief," and he laid it
on the table with great care.

Kent's heart sank; the moment he had dreaded all that long
afternoon had come. Penfield inspected the handkerchief with
interest, and then passed it to the jurors, cautioning them to
handle it carefully.

"I note," he stated, turning again to Detective Ferguson, "that
it is a woman's handkerchief."

"It is," replied Ferguson. "And embroidered in one corner is the
initial 'B.'"

Penfield ran his fingers through his gray hair. "You may go,
Ferguson," he said, and beckoned to the morgue master. "Ask Miss
Barbara McIntyre to return."

The girl was quick in answering the summons. Kent, more and more
worried, was watching the scene with painful attention.

"Did Mr. Turnbull have one of your handkerchiefs?" asked Penfield.

Her surprise at the question was manifest in her manner.

"He might have," she said. "I have a dreadful habit of dropping
my handkerchiefs around."

"Did you miss one after his visit to your house on Monday night?"

"Miss McIntyre," Penfield took up the handkerchief which the
foreman replaced on his desk a moment before, and holding it with
care extended it toward the girl. "Is this your handkerchief?"

She inspected the handkerchief and the initial with curiosity, but
with nothing more, Kent was convinced, and in his relief was
almost guilty of disturbing the decorum of the inquest with a shout
of joy.

"It is not my handkerchief," she stated clearly.

Penfield replaced the handkerchief on the table with the same care
he had picked it up, and turned again to her.

"Thank you, Miss McIntyre; I won't detain you longer. Logan," to
the morgue master, "ask Dr. Stone to step here."

Almost immediately Stone reentered the room and hurried to the
platform.

"Would two or more capsules of amyl nitrite constitute a lethal
dose?" asked Penfield.

"They would be very apt to finish a feeble heart," replied Stone.
"Three capsules, if inhaled deeply would certainly kill a healthy
person."

Penfield showed the handkerchief to the physician. "Can a chemist
tell, from the particles clinging to this handkerchief, how many
capsules have been used?"

"I should say he could." Stone looked grave as he inspected the
linen, taking careful note of the letter "B" in one corner of the
handkerchief. "But there is this to be considered - Turnbull may
not have crushed those capsules all at the same time."

"What do you mean?"

"He may have felt an attack coming on earlier in the evening and
used a capsule, and in the police court used the same handkerchief
in the same manner."

"I see," Penfield nodded. "The point is cleverly taken."

Kent silently agreed with the coroner. The next instant Stone was
excused, and after a slight pause the deputy coroner, Dr. Mayo,
left his table and his notes and occupied the witness chair, after
first being sworn. The preliminaries did not consume much time,
and Penfield's manner was brisk as he addressed his assistant.

"Did you make a post-mortem examination of Turnbull?" he asked.

"I did, sir, in the presence of the morgue master and Dr. McLane."
Dr. Mayo displayed an anatomical chart, drawing his pencil down it
as he talked. "We found from the condition of the heart that the
deceased had suffered from angina pectoris" - he paused and spoke
more slowly - "in examining the gastric contents we found the
presence of aconitine."

"Aconitine?" questioned Penfield, and the reporters, scenting the
sensational, leaned forward eagerly so as not to miss the deputy
coroner's answer.

"Aconitine, an active poison," he explained. "It is the alkaloid
of aconite, and generally fatal in its results."

CHAPTER X

AT THE CLUB DE VINGT

The large building of the popular Club de Vingt, or as one
Washingtonian put it, the "Club De Vin," which had sprung into
existence in the National Capital during the war, was ablaze with
light and Benjamin Clymer, sitting at a small table in one corner
of the dining-room, wished most heartily that it had been less
crowded. Many dinner-parties were being given that night, and
it was only by dint of perseverance and a Treasury note that he
had finally induced the head waiter to put in an extra table for
him and his guest, Harry Kent. Kent had been very late and, to
add to his short-comings, had been silent, not to say morose,
during dinner. Clymer heaved a sigh of relief when the table was
cleared and coffee and cigars placed before them.

Kent roused himself from his abstraction. "We cannot talk here,"
he said, looking at the gay diners who surrounded them. "And I
have several important matters to discuss with you, Mr. Clymer."

His remark was overheard by their waiter, and he stopped pouring
out Kent's coffee.

"There is a small smoking room to the right of the dining room,"
he suggested. "I passed there but a moment ago and it was not
occupied. If you desire, sir, I will serve coffee there."

"An excellent idea." Clymer rose quickly and he and Kent followed
the waiter to the inclosed porch which had been converted into an
attractive lounging room for the club members. It was much cooler
than the over-heated dining room, and Kent was grateful for the
subdued light given out by the artistically shaded lamps with which
it was furnished. There was silence while the waiter with deft
fingers arranged the coffee and cigars on a wicker table; then
receiving Clymer's generous tip with a word of thanks, the man
departed.

Kent wheeled his chair around so as to face his companion and
still have a side view of the dining room, where tables were being
rapidly removed for the dance which followed dinners on Thursday
nights. Clymer selected a cigar with care and, leaning back in
his chair until the wicker creaked under his weight, he waited
patiently for Kent to speak. It was fully five minutes before Kent
addressed him.

"So James Turnbull was poisoned after all," he commented. "A week
ago I would have sworn that Jimmie hadn't an enemy in the world."

"Ah, but he had; and a very bitter vindictive enemy, if the evidence
given at the coroner's inquest this afternoon is to be believed,"
replied Clymer seriously. "The case is remarkably puzzling."

"It is." Kent bit savagely at his cigar as a slight vent to his
feelings. "'Killed by a dose of aconitine by a person or persons
unknown,' was the jury's verdict, and a nice tangle they have left
me to ferret out.''

"You?"

"Yes. I'm going to solve this mystery if it is a possible thing."
Kent's tone was grim. "And Colonel McIntyre only gave me until
Saturday night to work in."

Clymer eyed him in surprise. "McIntyre desires to get back his
lost securities; judging from his comments after the inquest, he is
not particularly interested in who killed Turnbull."

"But I am," exclaimed Kent. "The more I think of it, the more
convinced I am that the forged letter, with the subsequent
disappearance of McIntyre's securities has some connection with
Jimmie's untimely death, be it murder or suicide."

"Suicide?" Clymer' s raised eyebrows indicated his surprise.

"Yes," shortly. "Aconitine would have killed just as surely if
swallowed with suicidal intent as if administered with murderous
design."

A pause followed which neither man seemed anxious to break, then
Kent turned to the banker, and the latter noticed the haggard
lines in his face.

"Listen to me, Mr. Clymer," he began. "My instinct tells me that
Jimmie Turnbull never forged that letter or stole McIntyre's
securities, but I admit that everything points to his guilt,
even his death."

"How so?"

"Because the theft of the securities supplies a motive for his
suicide - fear of exposure and imprisonment," argued Kent. "But
there is no motive, so far as I can see, for Jimmie's murder.
Men don't kill each other without a motive. "There is homicidal
mania," suggested Clymer.

"But not in this case," retorted Kent. "We are sane men and it is
up to us to find out if Jimmie died by his own hand or was killed
by some unknown enemy.''

"Rest easy, Mr. Kent," said a voice from the doorway and Kent, who
had turned his back in that direction the better to talk to Clymer,
whirled around and found Detective Ferguson regarding him just
inside the threshold. "Mr. Turnbull's enemy is not unknown and
will soon be under arrest."

"Who is he?" demanded Clymer and Kent simultaneously.

"Philip Rochester."

Clymer was the first to recover from his astonishment. "Oh, get
out!" he exclaimed incredulously. "Why, Rochester was Turnbull's
most intimate friend."

"Until they fell in love with the same girl," answered Ferguson
succinctly, taking possession of the only other chair the porch
boasted. "One quarrel led to another and then Rochester did for
him. Oh, it dove-tails nicely; motive, jealous anger; opportunity,
recognition in court of Turnbull disguised as a burglar, at the
same time Rochester learns that Turnbull has been caught after
midnight in the house of his sweetheart -"

"D - mn you!" Kent sprang for the detective's throat. "Cut out
your abominable insinuations. Miss McIntyre shall not be insulted."

"I'm not insulting her," gasped Ferguson, half strangled. "Let go,
Mr. Kent. I'm only telling you what that half crazy partner of
yours, Rochester, was probably thinking in the police court. Let
go, I say."

Clymer aided the detective in freeing himself. "Sit down, Kent,"
he said sternly. "Ferguson meant no offense. Go ahead, man, and
tell us the rest of your theories."

It was some minutes, however, before the detective had collected
sufficient breath to answer intelligently.

"I size it up this way," he began with a resentful glance at Kent
who had dropped back in his chair again. "Rochester knew his
friend had heart disease and that his sudden death would be
attributed to it - so he took a sporting chance and administered
a fatal dose of aconitine."

"How was it done?" asked Clymer.

"Just slipped the poison into the glass of water he handed to
Turnbull in the court room," explained Ferguson, and glanced in
triumph at Kent. "Neat, wasn't it?"

Kent regarded the detective, his mind in a whirl. His theory was
certainly plausible, but - "Have you other evidence to prove, your
theory?" he asked.

"Yes." Ferguson checked off his points on his fingers. "Remember
how insistent Mr. Rochester was that Turnbull had died from
angina pectoris?"

"I do," acknowledged Clymer, deeply interested. "Continue,
Ferguson."

The detective needed no second bidding.

"Another point," he began. "There never would have been a
post-mortem examination if Miss Helen McIntyre hadn't asked for
it. She knew of the ill-feeling between the men and suspected
foul play on Rochester's part."

"Wait," commanded Kent. "Has Miss McIntyre substantiated that
statement?"

"Not yet," admitted Ferguson. "I stopped at her house, but the
butler said the young ladies had retired and could not see any
one." Kent, who had called there on the way to keep his dinner
engagement with Clymer, had been met with the same statement, to
his bitter disappointment. He most earnestly desired to see the
twins and to see them together, to make one more effort to
induce them to confide in him; for that they had some secret
trouble he was convinced; he longed to be of aid, but his hands
were tied through lack of information.

"Don't imply motives to Miss McIntyre's act until you have
verified them, Ferguson," he cautioned. "Go on with your
theories."

"One moment," Clymer broke into the conversation. "Did Rochester
tell you, Ferguson, that he had recognized Turnbull in his burglar
disguise?"

"No, sir; I never had an opportunity to ask him, for he disappeared
Tuesday night and has not been seen or heard of since," Ferguson
rejoined.

"Hold on," Kent checked him with an impatient gesture. "I had a
telegram from Rochester this morning, stating he was in Cleveland."

"I didn't forget about the telegram," retorted Ferguson. "It was
to consult you about that, that I hunted you up to-night. That
telegram was bogus."

"What!" Kent half rose from his chair.

"Yes. After the inquest I called Cleveland on the long distance,
talked with the City Club officials and with Police Headquarters;
all declared that Rochester was not there, and no trace could be
found of his having ever arrived in the city."

Clymer laid down his half smoked cigar and stared at the detective.

"You think then that Rochester has bolted?" he asked.

"It looks that way," insisted Ferguson. "How about it, Mr. Kent?"
The question was put with a touch of arrogance.

Kent did not reply immediately. Every fact that Ferguson had
brought out fitted the situation, and Rochester's disappearance
added color to the detective's charges. Why was he hiding
unless from guilty motives, and where had he gone? Kent shook a
bewildered head.

"It is plausible," he conceded, "but, after all, only
circumstantial evidence."

"Well, circumstantial evidence is good enough for me to work on,"
retorted Ferguson. "On discovering that the telegram from Cleveland
was a hoax, I concluded Ferguson might be lurking around Washington
and so sent a description of him to the different precincts and
secured a search warrant."

"You did?"

"Yes. Armed with it I visited Mr. Rochester's apartment, but
couldn't find a clew to his present whereabouts," admitted Ferguson.
"So then I went to your office, Mr. Kent, and ransacked the firm's
safe."

"Confound you!" Kent leaned forward in his wrath and shook his fist
at the detective. "What right had you to do such a thing?"

"The search warrant covered it," explained Ferguson. "I could look
through your safe, Mr. Kent, because Rochester was your senior
partner and you shared the office together; I was within the law."

"Perhaps you were," Kent controlled his anger with an effort. "But
I had told you I did not know Rochester's whereabouts before I
showed you the Cleveland telegram, which you claim is bogus."

"It's bogus, all right," insisted the detective. "I thought it just
possible I might find some paper which would give me a clew to
Rochester's hiding place, so I went through the safe."

"How did you get it open?" asked Kent.

"I found it open."

Kent leapt to his feet. "You - found - it open! "- he stammered.
"Why, man, I locked that safe securely just before I left the office
at six o'clock."

Sure?"

Absolutely certain."

"Were you alone?"

"Yes, all alone. Sylvester left at five o'clock"

"Who knew the combination of the safe?"

"Only Rochester and I."

It was Ferguson's turn to spring up "By -!" he exclaimed. "I thought
the electric bulbs in the office felt warm, as if they had recently
been burning - Rochester must have been there just before me."

"It would seem that Rochester is still in the city," remarked Clymer.
"Do you know, Kent, whether he had his office keys with him?"

"I presume so," Kent slipped his hand inside his pocket and took
out a bunch of keys. "He left these duplicates in his desk at the
office."

"Sure they are duplicates?" questioned Ferguson, and Kent flushed.

"I know they are," he retorted. "Rochester had them made over a
year ago as a matter of convenience, for he was always forgetting
his keys, and kept these at our office."

"He's a queer cuss," was the detective's only comment and Clymer
broke into the conversation.

"Did you find any address or paper in the safe which might prove
a clew, Ferguson?" he inquired.

"Nothing, not even a scrap of paper," and the detective's tone was
glum.

"Did the safe look as if its contents had been tumbled about?"
asked Kent.

"No, everything seemed in order." Ferguson thrust his hand inside
his coat pocket. "There was one envelope in the right hand
compartment which puzzled me -"

"Hold on - was that compartment also unlocked?" asked Kent.

"It was," not giving Kent time to speak again Ferguson continued
his remarks. "As this was unaddressed I brought it to you, Mr.
Kent, to ask if it was your personal property" - he drew out the
white envelope which Helen McIntyre had brought Kent that morning
and turned it over so that both men could see the large red seal
bearing the letter "B."

"It is my property," asserted Kent instantly.

"Would you mind opening it?" asked Ferguson.

"I would, most certainly; it relates to my personal affairs."

Ferguson looked a trifle non-plussed. "Would you mind telling me
its contents, Mr. Kent?" he asked persuasively.

Kent regarded the detective squarely. He could not betray Helen,
the envelope might contain harmless nonsense, but she had placed it
in his safe-keeping - no, confound it, she had left it in the safe
for Rochester - and Rochester was apparently a fugitive from justice,
while circumstantial evidence pointed to his having poisoned Helen's
lover, Jimmie...

"If you must know, Ferguson," Kent spoke with deliberation. "They
are old love letters of mine."

Clymer glanced down at the envelope which the detective still held,
the red seal making a distinct blotch of color on the white, glazed
surface.

"Ah, Kent," he said in amusement. "So rumor is right in predicting
your engagement to Barbara McIntyre. Good luck to you!"

Through the open doorway to the dining room where the dancing had
ceased for the moment, came a soft laugh and Mrs. Brewster looked
in at them. McIntyre, standing like her shadow, gazed in curiosity
over her shoulder at the three men.

"How jolly to find you," cooed Mrs. Brewster. "And what a charming
retreat! It's much too nice to be occupied by men, only." She
inclined her head in a little gracious bow to Ferguson and stepped
inside.

"Have my chair," suggested Clymer hospitably as the pretty widow
raised her lorgnette and scanned the Oriental hangings and lamps,
and lastly, the white envelope which lay on the table, red seal
uppermost, where Ferguson had placed it on her entrance.

"Are your daughters here, Colonel McIntyre?" asked Kent as he took
a step toward the table. McIntyre's answer was drowned in an
outburst of cheering in the dining room and the rush of many feet.
On common impulse Kent and the others turned toward the doorway and
looked inside the dining room. Two officers of the French High
Commission were being held on the shoulders of comrades and were
delivering, as best they could amidst cheers and applause, their
farewell to hospitable Washington.

As his companions brushed by him to join the gay throng in the
center of the room, Kent turned back to pick up the envelope he had
left lying on the table. It was gone.

In feverish haste Kent looked under the table, under the chairs, the
lounge and its cushions, behind the draperies, and even under the
rugs which covered the floor of the porch, and then rose and
stared into the dining room. Which one of his companions had taken
the envelope?

Outside the porch the beautiful trumpet vine, its sturdy trunk and
thick branches reaching almost to the roof of the club building,
rustled as in a high wind, and the branches swayed this way and that
as a figure climbed swiftly down from the porch until, reaching the
fence separating the club property from its neighbor's, the man
swung across it, no mean athletic feet, and taking advantage of each
sheltering shadow, darted into the alley and from there down silent,
deserted Nineteenth Street.

CHAPTER XI

HALF A TRUTH

Dancing was being resumed in the dining room as Kent appeared again
in the doorway and he made his way as quickly as possible among the
couples, going into all the rooms on that floor, but nowhere could
he find Detective Ferguson. On emerging from the drawing room, he
encountered the steward returning from downstairs.

"Have you seen Mr. Clymer?" he asked hurriedly.

"Yes, Mr. Kent; he just left the club, taking Detective Ferguson
with him in his motor. Is there anything I can do?" added the
steward observing Kent's agitation.

"No, no, thanks. Say, where is Colonel McIntyre?" Kent gave up
further pursuit of the detective, he could find him later at
Headquarters. The steward looked among the dancers. "I don't
see him," he said, "But there is Mrs. Brewster dancing in the
front room; the Colonel must be somewhere around. If I meet him,
Mr. Kent, shall I tell him you are looking for him?"

"I will be greatly obliged if you will do so," replied Kent, and
straightening his tie, he went in quest of the pretty widow. He
had found her a merry chatter-box in the past, possibly he could
gain valuable information from her. He found Mrs. Brewster just
completing her dance with a fine looking Italian officer whose
broad breast bore many military decorations.

"Dance the encore with me" - Kent could be very persuasive when
he wished, and Mrs. Brewster dimpled with pleasure, but there was a
faint indecision in her manner which he was quick to note. What
prompted it? He had been on friendly terms with her; in fact, she
had openly championed his cause, so Barbara had once told him, when
Colonel McIntyre had made caustic remarks about his frequent calls
at the McIntyre house.

"Just one turn," she said, as the foreigner bowed and withdrew. "I
am feeling a little weary to-night - the strain of the inquest," she,
added in explanation.

"Perhaps you would rather sit out the dance," he suggested. "There
is an alcove in that window; oh, pshaw!" as a man and a girl took
possession of the chairs.

"Never mind, we can roost on the stairs," Mrs. Brewster preceded
him to the staircase leading to the third floor, and sat down,
bracing her back very comfortably against the railing, while
Kent seated himself at her feet on the lower step. "Extraordinary
developments at the inquest this afternoon," he began, as she
volunteered no remark. "To think of Jimmie Turnbull being
poisoned!"

"It is unbelievable," she said, and her vehemence was a surprise to
Kent; he knew her as all froth and bubble. What had brought the
dark circles under her eyes and the unwonted seriousness in her
manner?

"Unbelievable, yes," he agreed gravely. "But true; the autopsy
ended all doubt."

"You mean it developed doubt," she corrected, and a sigh accompanied
the words. "Have the police any clew to the guilty man?"

"I don't know, I'm sure," Kent spoke with caution.

"You don't?" Her voice was a little sharp. "Didn't Detective
Ferguson give you any news when talking to you on the porch?"

"So you recognized the detective?"

"I? No; I have never seen him before" - she nodded gayly to an
acquaintance passing through the hall. "Colonel McIntyre told me
his name. It was so odd to meet a man here not in evening clothes
that I had to ask who he was."

"Ferguson came to bring me some papers about a personal matter,"
explained Kent. He turned so as to face her. "Did you see a
white envelope lying on the table when you walked out on the
porch?"

She bowed her head absently, her foot keeping time to the inspiring
music played by the orchestra stationed on the stair landing just
above where they sat. "You left it lying on the table."

"Yes, so I did," replied Kent. "And I believe I was so ungallant
as to bolt into the dining room in front of you. Please accept my
apologies." Behind her fan, which she used with languid grace,
the widow watched him.

"We all bolted together," she responded, "and are equally guilty -"

"Of what?" questioned a voice from the background, and looking up
Kent saw Colonel McIntyre standing on the step above Mrs. Brewster.
The music had ceased and in the lull their conversation had been
distinctly audible.

"Guilty of curiosity," finished the widow.

"Colonel de Geofroy's farewell speech was very amusing, did you
not think so?"

"I did not stay to hear it," Kent confessed. "I had to return to
the porch and get my envelope."

"You were a long time about it," commented McIntyre, sitting down
by Mrs. Brewster and possessing himself of her fan. "I waited to
tell you that Helen and Barbara were worn out after the inquest
and so stayed at home to-night, but you didn't show up."

"Neither did the envelope," retorted Kent, and as his companions
looked at him, he added. "It had disappeared off the table."

"Probably blew away," suggested McIntyre. "I noticed a strong

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