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The Red Seal by Natalie Sumner Lincoln

Part 3 out of 4

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current of air from the dining room, and two of the windows
inclosing the porch were open.

"That's hardly possible," Kent replied skeptically. "The envelope
weighed at least two ounces; it would have taken quite a gale to
budge it."

McIntyre turned red. "Are you insinuating that one of us walked
off with your envelope, Kent?" he demanded angrily. Mrs. Brewster
stayed him as he was about to rise.

"Did you not say that Detective Ferguson brought you the envelope,
Mr. Kent?" she asked.

"Yes."

"Then what more likely than that he carried it off again?" She
smiled amusedly as Kent's expression altered. "Why not ask the
detective?"

Her suggestion held a grain of truth. Suppose Ferguson had not
believed his statement that the papers in the envelope were his
personal property and had taken the envelope away to examine it
at his leisure? The thought brought Kent to his feet.

"Good night, Mrs. Sherlock Holmes," he said jestingly, "I'll
follow your advice - There was no opportunity to say more, for
several men had discovered the widow's perch on the stairs and
came to claim their dances. Over their heads McIntyre watched
Kent stride downstairs, then stooping over he picked up Mrs.
Brewster's fan and sat down to patiently await her return.

Kent's pursuit of the detective took longer than he had anticipated,
and it was after midnight before he finally located him at the
office of the Chief of Detectives in the District Building. "I've
called for the envelope you took from my safe early this evening,"
he began without preface, hardly waiting for the latter's surprised
greeting.

"Why, Mr. Kent, I left it lying on the porch table at the club,"
declared Ferguson. "Didn't you take it?"

"No." Kent's worried expression returned. "Like a fool I forgot
the envelope when that cheering broke out in the dining room and
rushed to find out what it was about; when I returned to the porch
the envelope was gone.

"Disappeared?" questioned Ferguson in astonishment.

"Disappeared absolutely; I searched the porch thoroughly and couldn't
find a trace of it," Kent explained. "And in spite of McIntyre's
contention that it might have blown out of the window, I am certain
it did not."

"The windows were open, and I recollect there was a strong draught,"
remarked Ferguson thoughtfully. "But not sufficient to carry away
that envelope."

"Exactly." Kent stepped closer. "Did you observe which one of our
companions stood nearest the porch table?"

Ferguson eyed him curiously. "Say, are you insinuating that one of
those people took your envelope?"

"Yes."

A subdued whistle escaped Ferguson. "What was in that envelope.
Mr. Kent," he demanded, "to make it of any value to that bunch?" and
as Kent did not answer immediately, he added, "Are you sure it had
nothing to do with Jimmie Turnbull's death and Philip Rochester's
disappearance?"

"Quite sure." Kent's gaze did not waver before his penetrating look.
"I have already told you that the envelope contained old love letters,
and I very naturally do not wish them to fall into the hands of
Colonel McIntyre, the father of the girl I hope to marry."

Ferguson smiled understandingly. "I see. From what I know of
Colonel McIntyre there's a very narrow, nagging spirit concealed
under his frank and engaging manner; I wish you joy of your future
father-in-law," and he chuckled.

"Thanks," dryly. "You haven't answered my question as to who stood
nearest the porch table, Ferguson."

The detective looked thoughtful. "We all stood fairly near; perhaps
Mrs. Brewster was a shade the nearest. Mr. Clymer was offering her
a chair when that noise came from the dining room. There's one thing
I am willing to swear to" - his manner grew more earnest -" that
envelope was still lying on the table when I hustled into the dining
room."

"Well, who was the last person to leave the porch?" Kent demanded
eagerly.

"I don't know," was the disappointing answer. "I reached the door
at the same moment you did and passed right around the dining room
to get a view of what was going on. I thought I would take a squint
at the tables and see if there was any wine being used," he admitted.
"But there was nothing doing in that line. Then Mr. Clymer offered
to bring me down to Headquarters, and I left the club with him."

Kent took a turn about the room. "Did Mr. Clymer go to the Cosmos
Club?" he asked, pausing by the detective.

"No, I heard him tell his chauffeur to drive to the Saratoga. Want
to use the telephone?" observing Kent's glance stray to the
instrument.

By way of answer Kent took off the receiver and after giving a
number to Central, he recognized Clymer's voice over the telephone.

"That you, Mr. Clymer? Yes, well, this is Kent speaking. Can you
tell me who was the last person to leave the porch when Colonel de
Geofroy made his farewell speech to-night at the club?"

"I was," came Clymer's surprised answer.

"I waited for McIntyre to pick up Mrs. Brewster's fan."

"Did he take my letter off the table also?" called Kent.

"Why, no." Clymer's voice testified to his increased surprise.
"Mrs. Brewster dropped her fan right in the doorway just as McIntyre
and I approached; we both stooped to get it and, like fools; bumped
our heads together in the act. He got the fan, however, and I
waited for him to walk into the dining room before following Mrs.
Brewster."

"As you passed the table, Mr. Clymer, did you see my letter lying
on the table?" persisted Kent.

"Upon my word I never looked at the table," Clymer's hearty tone
carried conviction. "I walked right along in my hurry to know what
the cheering was about. I am sorry, Kent; have you mislaid your
letter?"

"Yes," glumly. "Sorry to have disturbed you, Mr. Clymer; good
night," and Clymer's echoing, "Good night" sounded faintly as he
hung up the receiver.

"Drew blank," he announced, turning to Ferguson. "Confound you,
Ferguson; you bad no right to touch the papers in my safe. If harm
comes from it, I'll make you suffer," and not waiting for the
detective's jumbled apologies and explanations, he hurried from the
building. But once on the sidewalk he paused for thought. McIntyre
must have picked up the white envelope, there was no other feasible
explanation of its disappearance. But what had attracted his
attention to the envelope - the red seal with the big letter " B"
was its only identifying mark. If Helen had only told him the
contents of the envelope!

Kent struck his clenched fist in his left hand in wrath; something
must be done, he could not stand there all night. Although it was
through no fault of his own that he had lost the envelope
entrusted to his care, he was still responsible to Helen for its
disappearance. She must be told that it was gone, however
unpleasant the task.

Kent walked hastily along Pennsylvania Avenue until he came to a
drug store still open, and entered the telephone booth. He had
recollected that the twins had a branch telephone in their sitting
room; he would have to chance their being awake at that hour.

Barbara McIntyre turned on her pillow and rubbed her sleepy eyes;
surely she had been mistaken in thinking she heard the telephone
bell ringing. Even as she lay striving to listen, she dozed off
again, to be rudely awakened by Helen's voice at her ear.

"Babs!" came the agitated whisper. "The envelope's gone."

"Gone!" Barbara swung out of bed.

"Gone where?"

"Father has it."

Downstairs in the library Mrs. Brewster paused on her entrance by
the side of a piece of carved Venetian furniture and laying her
coronation scarf on it, she examined a white envelope - the red
seal was intact.

At the sound of approaching footsteps she raised a trap door in
the piece of furniture and only her keen ears caught the faint
thud of the envelope as it dropped inside, then with a happy,
tender smile she turned to meet Colonel McIntyre.

CHAPTER XII

THE ECHO OF A LAUGH

Colonel McIntyre tramped the deserted dining room in exasperation.
Nine o'clock and the twins had not come to breakfast, nor was there
any evidence that Mrs. Brewster intended taking that meal downstairs.

"Will you wait any longer, sir?" inquired Grimes, who hovered
solicitously in the background. "I'm afraid, sir, your eggs will
be over-done."

"Bring them along," directed McIntyre, and flung himself into his
chair at the foot of the table. He had been seated but a few
minutes when Barbara appeared and dutifully presented her cheek to
be kissed, then she tripped lightly to Helen's place opposite her
father, and pressed the electric bell for Grimes.

"Coffee, please," she said as that worthy appeared, and busied
herself in arranging the cups and saucers. "Helen is taking her
breakfast upstairs," she explained to her father.

"How about Mrs. Brewster?"

"Still asleep." Barbara poured out her father's coffee with careful
attention to detail. "I peeked into her room a moment ago and she
looked so 'comfy' I hadn't the heart to awaken her. You must have
been very late at the club last night."

"We got home a little after one o'clock."

McIntyre helped himself to poached eggs and bacon. "What did you
do last night?"

"Went to bed early," answered Barbara with brevity. "Helen wasn't
feeling well."

McIntyre's handsome face showed concern as he glanced across the
table. "Have you sent for Dr. Stone?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Helen - I - we "- Barbara stumbled in her speech. "We have taken
an aversion to Dr. Stone."

McIntyre set down his coffee cup with unwonted force, thereby
spilling some of its contents.

"What!" he exclaimed in complete astonishment, and regarded her
fixedly for a moment. His tolerant manner, which he frequently
assumed toward Barbara, grew stern. "Dr. Stone is my personal
friend, as well as our family physician -"

"And a cousin of Margaret Brewster," put in Barbara mildly.

"Well, what of it?" trenchantly, aware that he had colored at
mention of the widow's name. "Nothing," Barbara's eyes opened
innocently. "I only recalled the fact of his relationship as you
enumerated his virtues."

Colonel McIntyre transferred his regard from her to the butler.
"You need not wait, Grimes." He remained silent until the servant
was safely in the pantry, and then addressed his daughter. "None
of your tricks, Barbara," he cautioned. "If Helen is ill enough
to require medical attention, Dr. Stone is to be sent for,
regardless of your sudden dislike to him, for which, by the way,
you have given no cause."

"Haven't I?" Barbara folded her napkin with neat exactness. "It's
- it's intangible."

"Pooh!" McIntyre gave a short laugh, as he pushed back his chair.
"I'm going to see Helen. And Barbara," stopping on his way to the
door, "don't be a fool."

Barbara rubbed the tiny mole under the lobe of her ear, a trick she
had when absent-minded or in deep thought. "Helen," she announced,
unaware that she spoke loud, "shall have a physician, but it won't
be - why, Grimes," awakening to the servant's noiseless return. "You
can take the breakfast dishes. Did Miss Helen eat anything?"

"Not very much, miss." Grimes shook a troubled head. "But she done
better than at dinner last night, so she's picking up, and don't you
be worried over her," with emphasis, as he sidled nearer. "Tell me,
miss, is the colonel courtin' Mrs. Brewster?"

"Ask him," she suggested and smiled at the consternation which
spread over the butler's face.

"Me, miss!" he exclaimed in horror. "It would be as much as my
place is worth; the colonel's that quick-tempered. Why, miss, just
because I tidied up his desk and put his papers to rights he flew
into a terrible passion."

"When was that?"

"Early this morning, miss; and he so upset Thomas, miss, that he
gave notice."

"Oh, that's too bad." Barbara liked the second man. "Perhaps father
will reconsider and persuade him to stay."

The butler looked unconvinced. "It was about the police dogs," he
confided to her. "Thomas told him that Miss Helen wanted them
brought back, and the colonel swore at him - 'twas more than Thomas
could stand and he ups and goes." Barbara halted half way to the
door. "Did Thomas get the dogs?"

"You wait and see, miss." Grimes was guilty of a most undignified
wink. "Thomas ain't forgiven himself for not being here Monday night,
miss; though it wouldn't a done him any good; he wouldn't a heard Mr.
Turnbull climbing in or his arrest, away upstairs in the servants'
quarters."

"Grimes," Barbara retracted her footsteps and placed her lips very
close to the old servant's ear.

"When I came in on Tuesday morning I found the door to the attic
stairway standing partly open...

"Did you now, miss?" The two regarded each other warily. "And
what hour may that have been?"

The butler cocked his ear for her answer - 'he was sometimes a
little hard of hearing; but he waited in vain, Barbara had
disappeared inside the library.

Colonel McIntyre had not gone at once to see his daughter Helen,
as Barbara had supposed from his remark, instead he went down the
staircase and into the reception room on the ground floor. It
was generally used as a smoking room and lounge, but when
entertaining was done, cloaks and wraps were left there. McIntyre
looked over the prettily upholstered furniture, then strolled to
the window and carefully inspected the lock; it appeared in perfect
order as he tested it. Pushing the catch back as far as it would
go, he raised the window - the sash moved upward without a sound,
and he leaned out and looked up and down the path which ran the
depth of the house to the kitchen door and servants' entrance.
There was an iron gate separating the path from the sidewalk, always
kept locked at night, and McIntyre had thought that sufficient
protection and had not put an iron grille in the window.

McIntyre closed and locked the window, then pulling out the gilt
chair which stood in front of the desk, he sat down, selected some
monogrammed paper and penned a few lines in his characteristic
though legible writing. Picking up some red sealing wax, he
lighted the small candle in its brass holder which matched the rest
of the desk ornaments, but before heating the wax he looked for his
signet ring, and frowned when he recalled leaving it on his dresser.
He hesitated a moment, then catching sight of a silver seal lying
at the back of the desk he picked it up and moistened the initial.
A few minutes later he blew out the candle, returned the wax and
seal to a pigeon hole, and carefully placed the envelope with its
well stamped letter "B" in his coat pocket, and tramped upstairs.

Helen heard his heavy tread coming down the hall toward her room,
and scrambled back to bed. She had but time to arrange her dressing
sacque when her father walked in.

"Good morning, my dear," he said and, stooping over, kissed her.
As he straightened up, the side of his single-breasted coat turned
back and exposed to Helen's bright eyes the end of a white
envelope. "Barbara told me you are not well," he wheeled forward
a chair and sat down by the bed. "Hadn't I better send for Dr.
Stone?" "Oh, no," her reply, though somewhat faint, was emphatic,
and he frowned.

"Why not?" aggressively. "I trust you do not share Barbara's
suddenly developed prejudice against the good doctor."

"I do not require a physician," she said evasively. "I am well."

McIntyre regarded her vexedly. He could not decide whether her
flushed cheeks were from fever or the result of exertion or
excitement. Excitement over what? He looked about the room; it
reflected the taste of its dainty owner in its furnishings, but
nowhere did he find an answer to his unspoken question, until his
eye lighted on a box of rouge under the electric lamp on her
bed stand.

"Don't use that," he said, touching the box.

"You know I detest make-up."

"Oh, that!" She turned to see what he was talking about. "That
rouge belongs to Margaret Brewster."

McIntyre promptly changed the conversation. "Have you had your
breakfast?" he asked.

"Yes; Grimes took the tray down some time ago." Helen watched her
father fidget with his watch fob for several minutes, then asked
with characteristic directness. "What do you wish?"

"To see that you have proper medical attention if you are ill," he
returned promptly. "How would a week or ten days at Atlantic City
suit you and Barbara?"

"Not at all." Helen sat up from her reclining position on the
pillows. "You forget, father, that we have a house-guest; Margaret
Brewster is not leaving until May."

"I had not forgotten," curtly. "I propose that she go with us."

A faint "Oh!" escaped Helen, otherwise she made no comment, and
McIntyre, after contemplating her for a minute, looked away.

"Either go to Atlantic City with us, Helen, or resume your normal,
everyday life," he said shortly. "I am tired of heroics; Jimmie
Turnbull was hardly the man to inspire them."

"Stop!" Helen's voice rang out imperiously. "I will not permit one
word said in disparagement of Jimmie, least of all from you, father.
Wait," as he attempted to speak. "I do not know what traits of
character I may have inherited from you, but I have all mother's
loyalty, and - that loyalty belongs to Jimmie."

McIntyre's eyes shifted under her gaze.

"I regret very much this obsession," he said rising. "I will not
attempt to reason with you again, Helen, but "- he made no effort
to lower his voice, "the world - our world will soon know what
manner of man James Turnbull was, of that I am determined."

"And I "- Helen faced her father proudly - "I will leave no stone
unturned to defend his memory."

Her father wheeled about. "In doing so, see that you do not
compromise yourself," he remarked coldly, and before the infuriated
girl could answer, he slammed the door shut and stalked downstairs.

Some half hour later he opened the door of Rochester and Kent's law
office and would have walked unceremoniously into Kent's private
office had not John Sylvester stepped forward from behind his desk
in the corner.

"Good morning, Colonel," he said civilly. "Mr. Kent is not here.
Do you wish to leave any message?"

"Oh, good morning, Sylvester," McIntyre's manner was brusque. "When
do you expect Mr. Kent?"

"In about twenty minutes, Colonel." Sylvester glanced at the wall
clock. "Won't you sit down?"

McIntyre took the chair and planted it by the window. Never a very
patient man, he waited for Kent with increasing irritation, and at
the end of half an hour his temper was uppermost. "Give me something
to write with," he demanded of Sylvester. Accepting the clerk's
fountain pen without thanks, he walked over to the center table and,
drawing out his leather wallet, took from it a visiting card and,
stooping over, wrote

You have but thirty-six hours remaining.
McIntyre.

"See that Mr. Kent gets this card," he directed. "No, don't put it
there," irascibly, as the clerk laid the card on top of a pile of
letters. "Take it into Mr. Kent's office and put it on his desk."

There was that about Colonel McIntyre which inspired complete
obedience to his wishes, and Sylvester followed his directions
without further question.

As the clerk stepped into Kent's office McIntyre saw a woman sitting
by the empty desk. She turned her head on hearing footsteps and
their glances met. A faint exclamation broke from her.

"Margaret!" McIntyre strode past Sylvester. "What are you doing
here?"

Mrs. Brewster's ready laugh hid all sign of embarrassment. "Must
you know?" she asked archly. "That is hardly fair to Barbara."

"So Barbara sent you here with a message!" Mrs. Brewster treated
his remark as a statement and not a question, and briskly changed
the subject.

"I can't wait any longer," she pouted. "Please tell Mr. Kent that
I am sorry not to have seen him."

"I will, madam." Sylvester placed McIntyre's card in the center of
Kent's desk and flew to open the door for Mrs. Brewster.

As the widow stepped into the corridor she brushed by an
over-dressed woman, whose cheap finery gave clear indication of her
tastes. Hardly noticing another's presence she turned and took
McIntyre's arm and they strolled off together, her soft laugh
floating back to where Mrs. Sylvester stood talking to her husband.

CHAPTER XIII

THE FACE AT THE WINDOW

Harry Kent rang the doorbell at the McIntyre residence for the fifth
time, and wondered what had become of the faithful Grimes; the butler
was usually the soul of promptness, and to keep a caller waiting on
the doorstep would, in his category, rank as the height of
impropriety. As Kent again raised his hand toward the bell, the
door swung open suddenly and Barbara beckoned to him to come inside.

"The bell is out of order," she explained. "I saw you from the
window. Hurry, and Grimes won't know that you are here," and she
darted ahead of him into the reception room. Kent followed more
slowly; he was hurt that she had had no other greeting for him.

"Babs, aren't you glad to see me?" he asked wistfully.

For an instant her eyes were lighted by her old sunny smile.

"You know I am," she whispered softly. As his arms closed around
her and their lips met in a tender kiss she added fervently, "Oh,
Harry, why didn't you make me marry you in the happy bygone days?"

"I asked you often enough," he declared.

"Will you go with me to Rockville at once?" Her face changed and
she drew back from him. "No," she said. "It is selfish of me to
think of my own happiness now."

"How about mine?" demanded Kent with warmth. "If you won't consider
yourself, consider me."

"I do." She looked out of the window to conceal sudden blinding
tears. There was a hint of hidden tragedy in her lovely face which
went to Kent's heart.

"Sweetheart," his voice was very tender, "is there nothing I can do
for you?"

"Nothing," she shook her head drearily. "This family must 'dree
its weir.'

Kent studied her in silence; that she was in deadly earnest he
recognized, she was no hysterical fool or given to sentimental
twaddle.

"You came to me on Wednesday to ask my aid in solving Jimmie
Turnbull's death," he said. "I have learned certain facts -"

Barbara sprang to her feet. "Wait," she cautioned. "Let me close
the door. Now, go on -" with her customary impetuosity she reseated
herself.

"Before I do so, I must tell you, Babs, that I recognized the fraud
you and Helen perpetrated at the coroner's inquest yesterday
afternoon."

"Fraud?"

"Yes," quietly. "I am aware that you impersonated Helen on the
witness stand and vice versa. You took a frightful risk."

"I don't see why," she protested. "In my testimony I told nothing
but the truth."

"I never doubted you told the truth regarding the events of Monday
night as you saw them, but the coroner's questions were put to you
under the impression that you were Helen." Kent scrutinized her
keenly. "Would Helen have been able to give the same answers that
you did without perjuring herself?"

Barbara started and her face paled. "Are you insinuating that Helen
killed Jimmie?" she cried.

"No," his emphatic denial was prompt. "But I do believe that she
knows more of what transpired Monday night than she is willing to
admit. Is that not so, Barbara?"

"Yes," she acknowledged reluctantly.

"Does she know who poisoned Jimmie?"

"No - no!" Barbara rested a firm hand on his shoulder. "I swear
Helen does not know. You must believe me, Harry."

"She may not know," Kent spoke slowly. "But are you sure she does
not suspect some one?"

"Well, what if I do?" asked Helen quietly, and Kent, looking around,
found her standing just inside the door. Her entrance had been
noiseless.

"You should tell the authorities, Helen." Kent rose as she passed
him and selected a seat which brought her face somewhat in shadow.
"If you do not you may retard justice."

"But if I speak I may involve the innocent," she retorted. "I -"
her eyes shifted from him to Barbara and back again. "I cannot
undertake that responsibility."

"Better that than let the guilty escape through your silence,"
protested Kent. "Possibly the theories of the police may coincide
with yours.

"What are they?" asked Barbara impetuously.

Kent considered before replying. If Detective Ferguson had gone
so far as to secure a search warrant to go through Rochester's
apartment and office it would not be long before the fact of his
being a "suspect" would be common property; there could, therefore,
be no harm in his repeating Ferguson's conversation to the twins.
In fact, as their legal representative, they were entitled to know
the latest developments from him.

"Detective Ferguson believes that the poison was administered by
Philip Rochester," he said finally, and watched to see how the
announcement would affect them. Barbara's eyes opened to their
widest extent, and back in her corner, into which she had
gradually edged her chair, Helen emitted a long, long breath as
her taut muscles relaxed.

"What makes Ferguson think Philip guilty?" demanded Barbara.

"It is known that he and Jimmie were not on good terms," replied
Kent. "Then Rochester's disappearance after Jimmie's death lends
color to the theory."

"Has Philip really disappeared?" asked Helen. "You showed me a
telegram -"

"Apparently the telegram was a fake," admitted Kent. "The Cleveland
police report that he is not at the address given in the telegram."

"But who could have an object in sending such a telegram?" asked
Barbara slowly.

"Rochester, in the hope of throwing the police off his track, if
he really killed Jimmie." Kent looked straight at Helen. "It was
while searching our office safe for trace of Rochester's present
address that Ferguson obtained possession of your sealed envelope."

Helen plucked nervously at the ribbon on her gown. "Did the
detective open the envelope" she asked.

"No."

"Are you sure?"

"Positive; the red seal was unbroken."

"Tell us how the envelope came to be stolen from you," coaxed
Barbara.

"We were in the little smoking porch off the dining room at the Club
de Vingt." Barbara smiled her remembrance of it, and motioned Kent
to continue. "Ferguson had just put down the envelope on the table
and I started to pick it up when cheering in the dining room
distracted my attention and I, with the others, went to see what it
was about. When I returned to the porch the envelope was no longer
on the table."

"Who were with you?" questioned Helen.

"Your father, Mrs. Brewster -"

"Of course," murmured Barbara. "Go on, Harry."

"Detective Ferguson and Ben Glymer," Barbara made a wry face, "and"
- went on Kent, not heeding her, "each of these persons deny any
further knowledge of the envelope, except they declare it was lying
on the table when we all made a dash for the dining room.

"Who was the last to leave the porch?" asked Helen.

"Ben Clymer."

"And he saw no one take the envelope?"

"He declares that he had his back to the table, part of the time,
but to the best of his knowledge no one took the envelope."

"One of them must have," insisted Barbara.

"The envelope hadn't legs or wings."

"One of them did take it," agreed Kent.

"But which one is the question. Frankly, to find the answer, I must
know the contents of the envelope, Helen."

"Why?"

"Because then I will have some idea who would be enough interested
in the envelope to steal it."

Helen considered him long and thoughtfully. "I cannot answer your
question," she announced finally. She saw his face harden, and
hastened to explain. "Not through any lack of confidence in you,
Harry, b-b-but," she stumbled in her speech. "I - I do not know
what the envelope contains."

Kent stared at her open-mouthed. "Then who requested you to lock
the envelope in Rochester's safe?" he demanded, and receiving no
reply, asked suddenly: "Was it Rochester?"

"I am not at liberty to tell you," she responded; her mouth set in
obstinate lines and before he could press his request a second time,
she asked: "Philip Rochester defended Jimmie in court when every
one thought him a burglar; why then, should Philip have picked him
out to attack - he is not a homicidal maniac?"

"No, but the police contend that Rochester recognized Jimmie in his
make-up and decided to kill him; hoping his death would be
attributed to angina pectoris, and no post-mortem held," wound up
Kent.

"I don t quite understand" - Helen raised her handkerchief to her
forehead and removed a drop of moisture. "How did Philip kill
Jimmie there in court before us all?"

"Ferguson believes that he put the dose of aconitine in the glass
of water which Jimmie asked for," explained Kent, and would have
continued his remarks, but a scream from Barbara startled him.

"There, look at the window," she cried. "I saw a face peering in.
Look quick, Harry, look!"

Kent needed no second bidding, but although he craned his head far
outside the open window and gazed both up and down the street and
along the path to the kitchen door, he failed to see any one. "Was
it a man or woman?" he asked, turning back to the room.

"I - I couldn't tell; it was just a glimpse." Barbara stood resting
one hand on the table, her weight leaning upon it. Not for words
would she have had Kent know that her knees were shaking under her.

"Did you see the face, Helen?" As he put the question Kent looked
around at the silent girl in the corner; she had slipped back in
her chair and, with closed eyes, lay white-lipped and limp. With
a leap Kent gained her side and his hand sought her pulse.

"Ring for brandy and water," he directed as Barbara came to his aid.
"Helen has fainted."

Twenty minutes later Kent hastened out of the McIntyre house and,
turning into Connecticut Avenue, boarded a street car headed south.
After carrying Helen to the twins' sitting room he had assisted
Barbara in reviving her. He had wondered at the time why Barbara
had not summoned the servants, then concluded that neither sister
wished a scene. That Helen was worse than she would admit he
appreciated, and advised Barbara to send for Dr. Stone. The
well-meant suggestion had apparently fallen on deaf ears, for no
physician had appeared during the time he was in the house, nor had
Barbara used the telephone, almost at her elbow as she sat by her
sister's couch, to summon Dr. Stone. Kent had only waited long
enough to convince himself that Helen was out of danger, and then
had departed.

It was nearly one o'clock when he finally stepped inside his office,
and he found his clerk and a dressy female bending eagerly over a
newspaper. They looked up at his approach and Sylvester came
forward.

"This is my wife, sir," he explained, and Kent bowed courteously to
Mrs. Sylvester. "We were just reading this account of Mr. Rochester's
disappearance; it's dreadful, sir, to think that the police believe
him guilty of Mr. Turn
bull's murder."

"Dreadful, indeed," agreed Kent; the news had been published even
sooner than he had imagined. "What paper is that?"

"The noon edition of the Times." Sylvester handed it to him.

"Thanks," Kent flung down his hat and spread open the paper. "Who
have been here to-day?"

"Colonel McIntyre, sir; he left a card for you." Sylvester hurried
into Kent's office, to return a moment later with a visiting card.
"He left this, sir, for you with most particular directions that it
be handed to you at once on your arrival."

Kent read the curt message on the card without comment and tore the
paste-board into tiny bits.

"Any one else been in this morning?" he asked.

"Yes, sir." Sylvester consulted a written memorandum. "Mr. Black
called, also Colonel Thorne, Senator Harris, and Mrs. Brewster."

"Mrs. Brewster!" The newspaper slipped from Kent's fingers in his
astonishment. "What did she want here?"

"To see you, sir, so she said, but she first asked for Mr.
Rochester," explained Sylvester, stooping over to pick up the
inside sheet of the Times which had separated from the others. "I
told her that Mr. Rochester was unavoidably detained in Cleveland;
then she said she would consult you and I let her wait in your
office for the good part of an hour."

Kent thought a moment then walked toward his door; on its threshold
he paused, struck by a sudden idea.

"Did Colonel McIntyre come with Mrs. Brewster?" he asked.

"No, Mr. Kent; he came in while she was here."

"And they went off together," volunteered Mrs. Sylvester, who had
been a silent listener to their conversation. Kent started; he had
forgotten the woman. "Excuse me, Mr. Kent," she continued, and
stepped toward him. "I presume, likely, that you are very interested
in this charge of murder against your partner, Mr. Rochester."

"I am," affirmed Kent, as Mrs. Sylvester paused.

"I am too, sir," she confided to him. "Cause you see I was in the
court room when Mr. Turnbull died and I'm naturally interested."

"Naturally," agreed Kent with a commiserating glance at his clerk;
the latter's wife threatened to be loquacious, and he judged from
her looks that it was a habit which had grown with the years. As a
general rule he abhorred talkative women, but - "And what took you
to the police court on Tuesday morning?"

"Why, me and Mr. Sylvester have our little differences like other
married couples," she explained. "And sometimes we ask the Court
to settle them." She caught Kent's look of impatience and hurried
her speech. "The burglar case came on just after ours was remanded,
and seeing the McIntyre twins, whom I've often read about, I just
thought I'd stay. Let me have that paper a minute."

"Certainly," Kent gave her the newspaper and she ran her finger down
the columns devoted to the Turnbull case with a slowness that set his
already excited nerves on edge.

"Here's what I'm looking for," she exclaimed triumphantly, a minute
later, and pointed to the paragraph:

"Mrs. Margaret Perry Brewster, the fascinating widow, added
nothing material to the case in her testimony, and she was
quickly excused, after stating that she was told about the
tragedy by the McIntyre twins upon their return from the
Police Court."

"Well what of it?" asked Kent.

"Only this, Mr. Kent;" Mrs. Sylvester enjoyed nothing so much as
talking to a good looking man, especially in the presence of her
husband, and she could not refrain from a triumphant look at him
as she went on with her remarks. "There was a female sitting on
the bench next to me in Court; in fact, she and I were the only
women on that side, and I kinder noticed her on that account, and
then I saw she was all done up in veils - I couldn't see her face.

"I caught her peering this way and that during the burglar's
hearing; I don't reckon she could see well through all the veils.
Now, don't get impatient, Mr. Kent; I'm getting to my point - that
woman sitting next to me in the police court was the widow Brewster."

"What!" Kent laughed unbelievingly. "Oh, come, you are mistaken."

"I am not, sir." Mrs. Sylvester spoke with conviction. "Now, why
does Mrs. Brewster declare at the coroner's inquest that she only
heard of the Turnbull tragedy from the McIntyre twins on their
return home?"

"You must be mistaken," argued Kent.

"Why, you admit yourself that the woman was so swathed in veils
that you could not see her face."

"No, but I heard her laugh in court," Mrs. Sylvester spoke in deep
earnestness and Kent placed faith in her statement in spite of his
outward skepticism. "And I heard her laugh in this corridor this
morning and I placed her as the same woman. I asked Mr. Sylvester
who she was, and he told me. I'd been reading this account of the
Turnbull inquest, and I recollected seeing Mrs. Brewster's name,
and my husband and I were just reading the account over when you
came in."

Kent gazed in perplexity at Mrs. Sylvester. "Why did Mrs. Brewster
laugh in the police court?" he asked.

"When Dr. Stone exclaimed to the deputy marshal - 'Your prisoner
appears ill!'" declared Mrs. Sylvester; she enjoyed the dramatic,
and that Kent was hanging on her words she was fully aware, in
spite of his expressionless face. "Dr. Stone lifted the burglar
in his arms and then Mrs. Brewster laughed as she laughed in
the corridor to-day - a soft gurgling laugh."

CHAPTER XIV

PAY CASH

It was the rush hour at the Metropolis Trust Company and the busy
paying teller counted out silver and gold and treasury notes of
varying denominations with the mechanical precision and exactness
which experience gives. Suddenly his hand stopped midway toward
the money drawer, his attention arrested by the signature on a check.
A swift glance upward showed him a girl's face at the grille of the
window. There was an instant's pause, then she addressed him.

"Do hurry, Mr. McDonald; father is waiting for me."

"Pardon me, Miss McIntyre." He stamped the check and laid it to
one side. "how do you want the money?"

"Oh, I forgot." She glanced at a memorandum on the back of an
envelope. "Mrs. Brewster wishes ten tens, five twenties, and
ten ones.

Thank you, good afternoon," and counting over the money she thrust
it inside her bag and hurried away.

She had been gone a bare five minutes when Kent reached the window
and pushed several checks toward the teller.

"Is Mr. Clymer in his office, McDonald?" he asked, placing the bank
notes given, him in his wallet.

"I'm not sure." The teller glanced around at the clock; the hands
stood at ten minutes of three. "It's pretty near closing time, Kent;
still, he may be there."

"I'll go and see," and with a nod of farewell Kent turned on his
heel and walked off in the direction of the office of the bank
president. On reaching there he saw, through the glass partition
of the door, Clymer seated in earnest conclave with two men.

Happening to glance up Clymer recognized Kent and beckoned to him
to come inside. "You know Taylor," he said by way of introduction.
"And this is Mr. Harding of New York - Mr. Kent," he turned around
in his swivel chair to face the three men. "Draw up a chair, Kent;
we were just going over to see you.

"Yes?" Kent looked inquiringly at the bank president, the gravity
of his manner betokened serious tidings. " What is it, Mr. Clymer?"

Clymer did not reply at once. "It's this," he said finally, with
blunt directness. "Your partner, Philip Rochester, appears to be
a bankrupt. Harding and Taylor came in here to attach his private
bank account to cover indebtedness to their business firms."

An exclamation broke from Kent. "Impossible!" he gasped.

"I would have said the same this morning," declared Clymer. "But
on investigation I find that Rochester has over-drawn his account
here for a large amount and borrowed heavily. The further I look
into his financial affairs the more involved I find them."

"But" - Kent was white-lipped. "I know for an absolute fact that
Rochester was paid some exceedingly large fees last week, totaling
over fifty thousand dollars."

"He has never deposited such a sum, or anywhere like that amount in
this bank either last week or this," stated Clymer, running his eyes
down a bank statement which, with several pass books, lay on his
desk.

"Does he carry accounts at other banks?" inquired Harding.

"Not that I can discover," responded Taylor. "I have been to every
national and private banking house in Washington, but all deny having
him as a depositor. Did Rochester ever bank out of town, Kent?"

"Not to my knowledge." Kent drew out a bank book. "Here is the
firm's balance, Mr. Clymer; we bank here, you know."

"Yes." Clymer's look of anxiety deepened.

"Did you see McDonald as you came in?"

"Yes, he cashed some checks for me."

"Your personal checks?"

"Yes." Kent looked questioningly at Clymer. What do you mean?"

"Only this; that all moneys deposited here in the firm name of
Rochester and Kent have been drawn out."

"That's not possible!" Kent started up.

"Checks on that account must bear both Rochester's signature and
mine."

"Checks bearing both signatures have been presented for the total
sum deposited to your credit," stated Clymer and he picked up four
canceled checks. "See for yourself."

Kent stared at the checks in dumbfounded silence; then carrying
them to the light he examined them with minute care before bringing
them back to the bank president.

"This is the first I have heard of these transactions," he said.

"You mean -"

"That the signatures are clever forgeries." His statement was heard
with gravity. Taylor exchanged a meaning look with the New Yorker.

"You mean your signature is a forgery," he suggested. "Rochester
had a peculiar gift of penmanship."

Kent sprang up. "Do you accuse Philip Rochester of signing these
checks and inserting my name to them?"

"I do," calmly. "I am not familiar with your signature, Kent, but
that Rochester wrote the body of those four checks and put his own
signature at the bottom I will swear to in any court of law. To
make them valid he had to add your name."

"But, d-mn it, man!" Kent stared in bewilderment at his three
companions. "Rochester was honorable and straight-forward -"

"And addicted to drink," put in Harding. "But not a forger,"
retorted Kent firmly. Harding's only rejoinder was a skeptical
smile as he turned to address Clymer.

"So Rochester not only has taken his own money, but withdrawn that
belonging to the firm of Rochester and Kent without the knowledge
of his junior partner; it looks black, Mr. Clymer," he remarked.
"Especially when taken in consideration with his other involved
financial transactions."

"Where will we find Rochester, Kent?" asked Taylor, before the
bank president could answer the New Yorker.

Kent paused in indecision. What reply could he make without
further involving Rochester in trouble? He had not the faintest
idea where Rochester was, but to state that he was missing
could not but add to the belief that he had made away with all
the money he could lay his hands on. The noon edition of the
Times had hinted at Rochester's disappearance but had stated they
could not get the statement confirmed from Police Headquarters;
obviously Harding and Taylor had not seen the newspaper.

Was it just to the men before him to keep them in the dark? If
their claims were true, and Kent never doubted that they were, they
had already lost money through Rochester's extraordinary behavior.
Kent turned sick at the thought of his own loss - his savings swept
away. Would Barbara wait for him - was it fair to ask her?

Taylor broke the prolonged silence.

"I met Detective Ferguson on my way here," he stated. "He told me
that the police were looking for Rochester."

"What?" Harding looked up, startled. "Why didn't you inform me of
that?"

"Well, I thought we'd better hear from Mr. Clymer the true state of
Rochester's finances," responded Taylor. "I never anticipated such
facts as he has given us."

"But if you knew the police were after Rochester -" objected Harding.

Clymer broke into the conversation; there was a heavy frown on his
usually placid countenance. "I judged from Detective Ferguson's
confidences to us, Kent, at the Club de Vingt that he was wanted by
the police in connection with the Turnbull tragedy, but the facts
brought out through Harding's action to attach Rochester's bank
account, puts a different construction on Rochester's disappearance."

"What had Rochester to do with Jimmie Turnbull?" questioned Harding,
before Kent could answer Clymer.

"They lived together," he replied shortly.

"And one dies and the other disappears," Harding whistled dolefully.
"Wasn't Mr. Turnbull an official of this bank, Mr. Clymer?"

"Yes, our cashier."

"Were his affairs involved?"

"Not in the least," Clymer spoke with emphasis. "A most honorable
fellow, Jimmie Turnbull; his murder was a shocking affair."

"Have the police found any motive for the crime, Kent?" asked Taylor.

"I believe not."

Harding, who had been ruminating in silence, leaned forward, his
expression alight with a sudden idea.

"Could it be that Turnbull found out that Rochester was passing
forged checks, and Rochester insured his silence by Poisoning him?"
he asked.

Clymer and Kent exchanged glances, as Kent's thoughts reverted to
the forged letter presented by Turnbull to the bank's treasurer,
whereby he had been given McIntyre's valuable negotiable securities.
Could it be that Rochester had written the letter, given it to his
room-mate, Turnbull, and the latter, thinking it genuine, had secured
the McIntyre securities and handed them over to Rochester? The idea
took Kent's breath away; and yet, the more he contemplated it, the
more feasible it appeared.

"What's the date on those checks?" demanded Kent.

"Tuesday of this week - the day Jimmie Turnbull died." Clymer
turned them over. "They are drawn payable to cash, and bear no
endorsement, which shows Rochester must have presented them himself."

Harding and Taylor glanced significantly at each other, but neither
spoke. Suddenly Kent pushed back his chair and rose without
ceremony.

"Don't go, Kent." Clymer took up some papers. "There's a matter -"

"It will keep." Kent's mouth was set and determined. "I give you
my word of honor that all Rochester's honest debts will be paid by
the firm if necessary; I will obligate myself to that extent," he
paused. "As for you fellows," turning to Harding and Taylor who
had also risen. "Give me twenty-four hours -"

"What for?" they chorused.

"To 1ocate Philip Rochester," and waiting for no answer Kent bolted
out of the office.

CHAPTER XV

WHEN THE LIGHT FAILED

The city lights were springing up block T after block along
Pennsylvania Avenue as Detective Ferguson left that busy thoroughfare
and hurried to the Saratoga. He stepped inside the lobby of the
apartment house a full minute before his appointment with its
manager, and went at once to look him up. Before he could carry out
his purpose he was joined by Harry Kent.

"Finley had to go out," the latter explained.

"I told him I would go up to Rochester's apartment with you."

Ferguson thoughtfully caressed his clean-shaven jaw for a second,
then came to a rapid decision.

"Lead the way, sir," he said. "I'll follow." Kent found him a
silent companion while in the elevator and when walking down the
corridor to Rochester's apartment, but once inside the living room,
with the outer door tightly closed, Ferguson tossed down his hat
and his whole demeanor changed.

"Sit down, Mr. Kent." He selected a chair near Rochester's desk
for himself, as Kent found another. "Let's thrash this thing out;
are you working with me or against me?"

"Why do you ask?" Kent's surprise at the question was evident.

"Because every time I arrange to examine this apartment or inquire
into Rochester's whereabouts you show up." Ferguson's small eyes
were trying to out-stare Kent, but the latter's clear gaze did not
drop before his. "Are you aiding Philip Rochester in his efforts
to elude arrest?"

"I am not," declared Kent emphatically. "What prompts the question?"

"The fact that you are Rochester's partner," Ferguson pointed out;
his manner was still stiff. "It would be only natural for you to
help him disappear out of friendship, or" - with a sidelong glance
- "from a desire to hush up a scandal."

"On the contrary I want Rochester found and every bit of evidence
against him sifted out and aired," retorted Kent. "Two heads are
better than one, Ferguson; let us work together. Rochester must be
located within the next twenty-four hours."

Ferguson debated a moment, but Kent's speech as well as his manner
indicated his sincerity, and the detective shook off his suspicions.
"Have you had any further news of your partner?" he asked.

"No; that is" - recalling the scene in the bank early that afternoon
-" nothing that relates to Rochester's present whereabouts. Now,
Ferguson, to put your charges against Rochester in concrete form, you
believe that he was insanely jealous of Jimmie Turnbull, that he
recognized him in the Police Court in his burglar disguise, slipped
a dose of aconitine in a glass of water which Turnbull drank, and
after declaring that his friend had died from angina pectoris,
disappeared. Is that all the case you have against him?"

"At present, yes," admitted the detective cautiously.

"All circumstantial evidence -"

"But it will hold in court -"

"Ah, will it?" questioned Kent. "There's one big flaw in your case,
Ferguson; the poison used to kill Turnbull."

"Aconitine?"

"Exactly. Your theory is that Rochester slipped the poison in the
glass of water on recognizing Turnbull in the police court; now, it
is stretching probability to suppose that Rochester, a strong
healthy man, was carrying that drug around in his vest pocket."

Ferguson sat forward in his chair, his eyes glittering. "Do you
mean to say that you think the murder of Turnbull was premeditated
and not committed on the spur of the moment?" he asked.

"The fact that aconitine was used convinces me of that," answered
Kent.

Ferguson thought a moment. "If that is the case," he said,
grudgingly, "it sort of squashes the charge against Philip
Rochester."

"It would seem to," agreed Kent. "But every shred of evidence I
find points to Rochester as the guilty man."

Ferguson edged his chair forward. "What have you discovered?" he
demanded eagerly.

"This," Kent spoke with increased earnestness. "That Philip
Rochester is apparently a bankrupt, that he has over-drawn his
private account at the Metropolis Trust Company, and withdrawn our
partnership funds from the same bank."

"Your partnership funds!" echoed the detective, eyeing Kent sharply.
"How did you come to let him do that?"

"I was not aware that he had done so until Mr. Clymer told me of
the transaction this afternoon," answered Kent.

"You did not know" - Ferguson looked at him in dawning comprehension.
"You mean Rochester absconded with the funds?"

"Some one forged my name to checks drawn on the firm's account,"
Kent continued. "I understood they were made payable to cash and
presented by Rochester on the day of Turnbull's death."

Ferguson whistled as a slight vent to his feelings. "So you suspect
Rochester of being a forger?" Kent made no reply, and he added;
after a moment's deliberation, "What bearing has this discovery on
Turnbull's death, aside from Rochester's need of funds to make a
clean disappearance?"

"If it is true that Rochester was financially embarrassed and forged
checks on the Metropolis Trust Company, it establishes another motive
for the killing of Turnbull," argued Kent. "Turnbull was cashier of
that bank."

"I see; he may have discovered the forgeries - but hold on."
Ferguson checked his rapid speech. "When were these forged checks
presented at the bank?"

"Tuesday afternoon."

Ferguson's face fell. "Pshaw! man; that was after Turnbull's death
- how could he detect the forgeries?"

Kent did not reply at once; instead, he glanced keenly about the
living room. The detective had only switched on one of the reading
lamps and the greater part was in shadow. It was a pleasant and
home-like room, and Kent was conscious of a keener pang for the loss
of Jimmie Turnbull and the disappearance of Philip Rochester, as he
gazed around. The lawyer and the bank cashier had been, until that
winter, congenial comrades, sharing their business success and their
apartment in complete accord; and now a shadow as black as that
enveloping the unlighted apartment hung over their good names,
threatening one or the other with the charge of forgery and of
murder. Kent sighed and turned back to the silent detective.

"I can best answer your question by telling you that the day after
Jimmie Turnbull died Mr. Clymer sent for me," he began. "I found
Colonel McIntyre with him and was told that the Colonel had lost
valuable securities left at the bank. These securities had been
given by the treasurer of the bank to Jimmie Turnbull when he
presented a letter from Colonel McIntyre instructing the bank to
surrender the securities to Jimmie."

"Well?" questioned Ferguson. "Go on, sir."

"That letter was a forgery." Kent sat back and watched the
detective's rapidly changing expression. "And no trace has been
found of the Colonel's securities, last known to be in the
possession of Turnbull."

"Great heavens!" ejaculated Ferguson.

"Which was the forger - Turnbull or Rochester?"

Kent shook a puzzled head. "That is for us to discover," he said
soberly. "Colonel McIntyre contends that Turnbull forged the letter
and stole the securities, then fearing his guilt would become known,
committed still another crime - that of suicide, he could have
swallowed a dose of aconitine while at the police court."

"Well, I'll be - blessed!" ejaculated Ferguson. "But if he was the
forger how does that square with Rochester's peculiar behavior?
The checks bearing your forged signatures were presented, mind you,
by Rochester after Turnbull's death?"

"It doesn't square," acknowledged Kent frankly. "There is this to
be said for Turnbull: he was the soul of honor, his affairs were
found to be in excellent condition, he was drawing a good salary,
his investments paying well - he did not need to acquire securities
or money by resorting to forgery."

"Whereas Philip Rochester was on the point of bankruptcy," remarked
Ferguson. "Do you suppose he forged Colonel McIntyre's letter and
gave it to Turnbull, and the latter got the securities from the bank
treasurer and handed them over to Rochester in good faith, supposing
his room-mate would give the papers to Colonel McIntyre?"

Kent nodded in agreement. "It looks that way to me," he said
gloomily. "Philip Rochester stood well in the community, his law
practice is large and lucrative, and if it had not been for his
periods of idleness and - and" - hesitating - "passion for good
living, he would never have run into debt."

"But he got there." Ferguson's laugh was contemptuous. "A
desperate man will do anything, Mr. Kent."

"I know," Kent looked dubious. "I would believe him guilty if it
were not for the use of aconitine - that shows premeditation on the
part of the murderer."

"And why shouldn't Rochester plan Turnbull's murder ahead of the
scene in the police court?" argued Ferguson. "Wasn't he living in
deadly fear of exposure? If he did not commit the murder, why did
he run away? And if he is innocent, why doesn't he come forward and
prove it?"

"He may not know that he is suspected of the crime," retorted Kent,
rising. "It is for us to find Rochester, and I suggest that we
search this apartment thoroughly."

"I have already done so," objected Ferguson. "And there wasn't the
faintest clew to his hiding place."

"For all that I am not satisfied." Kent walked over and switched
on another light. "When I came here on Wednesday night I had a
tussle with some man, but he escaped in the dark without my seeing
him. I believe he was Rochester."

"You are probably right." Ferguson crossed the room. "And if he
came back once, he may return again. Come ahead," and he plunged
into the first bedroom. The two men subjected each room to an
exhaustive search, but their labors were their only reward; except
for an accumulation of dust, the apartment was undisturbed. They
had reached the kitchenette-pantry when the gong over their heads
sounded loudly, and Kent, with a muttered exclamation hastened
toward the front door of the apartment. Ferguson, intent on
studying the "L" of the building as seen from the window, was
hardly conscious of his departure, and some seconds elapsed before
he turned toward the door. As he gained it, he saw a dark shape
dart down the hall. With a bound Ferguson started in pursuit, and
the next second grappled with the flying man just as the electric
lights went out and they were plunged in darkness.

Suddenly Kent's voice echoed down the hall. "Come here quick,
Ferguson!"

There was a note of urgency about his appeal, and Ferguson straining
his muscles until the blood pounded in his temples, threw the
struggling man into a tufted arm-chair which stood by the entrance
to the small dining room, and drawing out his handcuffs, slipped
them on securely. "Stay there," Ferguson admonished his prisoner.
"Or there will be worse coming to you," and he thrust the muzzle of
his revolver against the man's heaving chest to illustrate his
meaning; then as Kent called again, he sped down the hall and
brought up breathless at the front door. The light was still
burning in the corridor, though not very brightly, and he saw Kent
hand the grinning messenger boy a shiny quarter. Touching his
battered cap the boy went whistling away. "Tell the elevator boy
to report that a fuse has burned out in Mr. Rochester's apartment,"
Ferguson called after him, and the lad waved his hand as he dashed
into the elevator.

Paying no attention to the detective's call, Kent showed him a
white envelope which bore the simple address:

PHILIP ROCHESTER, ESQ.
THE SARATOGA

"It's the identical envelope I found in your safe," declared
Ferguson.

"And which disappeared last night at the Club de Vingt." Kent
turned over the envelope. "See, the red seal."

For a minute the men contemplated the seal with the large
distinctive letter "B" in the center.

"Open the letter, sir," Ferguson urged and Kent, his fingers fairly
trembling, jerked and tore at the linen incased envelope; the flap
ripped away and he opened the envelope - it was empty.

Instinctively the two men glanced down at the parquetry flooring;
nothing but a thin coating of dust lay there, and Kent looked up
and down the corridor; it was deserted.

"Do you recognize the handwriting?" asked Ferguson.

"No." Kent regarded the envelope in bewilderment. "What shall we
do?"

"Do? Call up the Dime Messenger Service and see where the envelope
came from; but first come and see my prisoner.

"Your prisoner?" in profound astonishment.

"Yes. I caught him chasing up the hall after you," explained
Ferguson as they hurriedly retraced their steps. "I put handcuffs
on him and then went to you. Ah, here's the light!"

"The light, yes; but where's your prisoner?" and Kent, who was a
trifle in advance of his companion in reaching the dining room,
stood aside to let Ferguson pass him.

The detective halted abruptly. The chair into which he had thrust
his prisoner was vacant. The man had disappeared.

With one accord Ferguson and Kent advanced close to the chair, and
an oath broke from. the detective. On the cushion of the chair,
still bearing the impress of a human body, lay a pair of shining
new handcuffs.

Dazedly Ferguson stooped over and examined them. They were still
securely locked. Wheeling around Kent dashed through the door to
his right and Ferguson, collecting his wits, searched the rest of
the apartment with minute care. Five minutes later he came face
to face with Kent in the living room. "Not a trace of any kind,"
declared Kent. "It's the same as the other night; the man's gone.
It's - it's positively uncanny."

Ferguson's face was red from mortification and his exertions
combined.

"The fellow must have slipped from the room by that other door and
out through the living room as we came down the hail," he said.
"Did you shut the door of the apartment, Mr. Kent, before coming
down here to look at the prisoner?"

"Yes." Kent led the way back to the dining room. "Did you
recognize the man, Ferguson?"

"No." The detective swore softly as he stared about the room.
"The lights went out just as I tackled him."

"It was beastly luck that the fuse burned out at that second,"
groaned Kent. "Fortune was with him in that; but how did the man
get free of the handcuffs?" pointing to them still lying in the
chair. "We can't attribute that to luck, unless" - staring keenly
at Ferguson -" unless you did not snap them on the man's wrists,
after all."

"I did; I swear it," declared Ferguson. "I'm no novice at that
business. Here, don't touch them, Mr. Kent," as his companion bent
toward the chair. "There may be finger marks on the steel; if so"
- he drew out his handkerchief, and taking care not to handle the
burnished metal, he folded the handcuffs carefully in it and put
them in his coat pocket. "There's no use lingering here, Mr. Kent;
this apartment is vacant now except for us. I must get to
Headquarters."

"Hadn't you better telephone for an operative and station him here?"
suggested Kent.

"I did so while you were searching the back rooms," replied Ferguson.
"There," as the gong sounded. "That's Nelson, now."

But the person who stood in the outer corridor when they opened the
front door was not Nelson, the operative, but Dr. Stone.

"Can I see Mr. Rochester?" he asked, then catching sight of Kent
standing just back of the detective, he added, "Hello, Kent; I
thought I heard some one walking about in here from my apartment
next door, and concluded Rochester had returned. Can I see him?"

"N-no," Kent spoke slowly, with a side-glance at the silent
detective. "Rochester has been here - and left."

CHAPTER XVI

THE CRIMSON OUTLINE

Barbara McIntyre made the round of the library for the fifth time,
testing each of the seven doors opening into it to see that they
ere closed behind their portieres, then she turned back to her
sister, who sat cross-logged before a small safe.

"Any luck?" she asked

Instead of replying Helen removed the key from the lock of the
steel door and regarded it attentively. The safe was of an obsolete
pattern and in place of the customary combination lock, was opened
by means of a key, unique in appearance.

"It is certainly the key which father mislaid six months ago," she
declared. "Grimes found it just after father had a new key made
and gave it to me. And yet I can't get the door open."

"Let me try." Barbara crouched down by her sister and inserted the
key again in the lock, but her efforts met with no results, and
after five minutes' steady manipulation she gave up the attempt.
"I am afraid it is impossible," she admitted. "Seems to me I have
heard that the lost key will not open a safe after a new key has
been supplied."

Helen rose slowly to her feet, stretching her cramped limbs
carefully as she did so, and sank down in the nearest chair. Her
attitude indicated dejection.

"Then we can't find the envelope," she muttered. "Hurry, Babs, and
close the outer door; father may return at any moment."

Barbara obeyed the injunction with such alacrity that the door,
concealing the space in the wall where stood the safe, flew to with
a bang and the twins jumped nervously.

"Take care!" exclaimed Helen sharply. "Do you wish to arouse the
household?"

"No danger of that." But Barbara glanced apprehensively about the
library in spite of her reassuring statement. "The servants are
either out or upstairs, and Margaret Brewster is writing letters
in our sitting room."

"Hadn't you better go upstairs and join her?" Helen suggested. "Do,
Babs," as her sister hesitated. "I cannot feel sure that she will
not interrupt us."

"But my joining her won't keep Margaret upstairs," objected Barbara.

"No, but you can call and warn me if she is on her way down, and
that will give me time to - to straighten father's papers," going
over to a large carved table littered with magazines, letters,
and silver ornaments. Her sister did not move, and she glanced at
her with an irritated air, very foreign to her customary manner.
"Go, Barbara."

The curt command brought a stare from Barbara, but it did not
accelerate her halting footsteps; instead she moved with even
greater slowness toward the hall door; her active brain tormented
with an unspoken and unanswered question. Why was Helen so anxious
for her departure? She had accepted her offer of assistance in her
search of the library with such marked reluctance that Barbara had
marveled at the time, and now...

"Are you quite sure, Helen, that father had the envelope in his
pocket this morning?" she asked for the third time since the search
began.

"He had an envelope - I caught a glimpse of the red seal," answered
Helen. "Then, just before dinner he was putting some papers in the
safe. Oh, if Grimes had only come in a moment sooner to announce
dinner, I might have had a chance to look in the safe before father
closed the door."

Whatever reply Barbara intended making was checked by the rattling
of the knob of the hall door; it turned slowly, the door opened and,
pushing aside the portieres drawn across the entrance, Margaret
Brewster glided in. "So glad to find you," she cooed. "But why
have you closed up the room and turned on all the lights?"

"To see better," retorted Barbara promptly as the widow's eyes roved
around the large room, taking silent note of the drawn curtains and
portieres, and the somewhat disarranged furniture. "Come inside,
Margaret, and help us in our search."

"For what?" The widow tried to keep her tone natural, but a certain
shrill alertness crept into it and Barbara, who was watching her
closely, was quick to detect the change. Helen's color altered at
the question, and she observed the widow's entrance with veiled
hostility.

"For my seal," Barbara answered. "The one with the big letter 'B.'
Have you seen it?"

"I? - No." The widow took a chair uninvited near Helen. "You look
tired, Helen dear; why don't you go to bed?"

"I could not sleep if I did." Helen passed a nervous finger across
her eyes. "But don't let me keep you and Babs up; it won't take me
long to arrange to-morrow's market order for Grimes."

Under pretense of searching for pencil and paper Helen contrived to
see the address of every letter lying on the table, but the envelope
she sought, with its red seal, was not among them. When she looked
up again, pencil and paper in hand, she found Mrs. Brewster leaning
lazily back and regarding her from under half-closed lids. "You are
very like your father, Helen," she commented softly.

The girl stiffened. "Am I? Babs and I are generally thought to
resemble our mother."

"In appearance, yes; but I mean mannerisms - for instance, the way
of holding your pencil, your handwriting, even, closely resembles
your father's." Mrs. Brewster pointed to the notes Helen was
scribbling on the paper and to an open letter bearing Colonel
McIntyre's signature at the bottom of the sheet lying beside the
pad to illustrate her meaning. "These are almost identical."

"You are a close observer." Helen completed her memorandum and
laid it aside. "What became of father?"

"He went to a stag supper at the Willard," chimed in Barbara,
stopping her aimless walk about the library. "He said we were not
to wait up for him."

Helen pushed back her chair and rose with some abruptness.

"I am more tired than I realized," she remarked and involuntarily
stretched her weary muscles. "Come, Margaret," laying a persuasive
hand on the widow's shoulder. "Be a trump and rub my forehead with
cologne as you used to do abroad when I had a headache. It always
put me to sleep then; and, oh, how I long for sleep now!"

There was infinite pathos in her voice and Mrs. Brewster sprang up
and threw her arm about her in ready sympathy.

"You poor darling!" she exclaimed. "Let me put you to bed; Mammy
taught me the art of soothing frayed nerves. Come with us, Babs,"
holding out her left hand to Barbara. But the latter, with a
dexterous twist, slipped away from her touch.

"I must stay and straighten the library," she announced.

Mrs. Brewster's delicate color had deepened. "It would be as well
to open some of the doors," she agreed coldly. "The library looks
odd, not to say funereal," she glanced down the spacious room and
shivered ever so slightly. "Do, Babs, put out some of the lights;
they are blinding."

"Oh, I'll turn them all out "- Barbara sought the electric switch.

"But your father -"

"No need to worry about father; he can find his way about in the
dark like a cat," responded Barbara with unabated cheerfulness.
"Seems to me, Margaret, you and father are getting mighty chummy
these days."

The sudden darkness into which Barbara's impatient fingers, pressing
against the electric light buttons, plunged the library and its
occupants, prevented her seeing the curious glance which Mrs.
Brewster shot at her. Helen, who had listened to their chatter with
growing impatience, looked back over her shoulder.

"Hurry, Barbara, and come upstairs. Now, Margaret," and she piloted
the widow along the hall toward the staircase without giving her an
opportunity to answer Barbara's last remark. Barbara, pausing only
long enough to pull back the portieres of the hall door and arrange
them as they hung customarily, turned to go upstairs just as Grimes
came down the hall from the dining room carrying a large tray with
pitchers of ice water and glasses.

"I thought you had gone to your room, Grimes," she remarked, as the
butler waited respectfully for her to pass him.

"I've just come in, miss, and found Murray had left the tray in the
dining room," explained Grimes hurriedly. "I hope, miss, I'll not
disturb the ladies by knocking at their doors now with this ice
water."

"Oh, no, Mrs. Brewster and Miss Helen have only just gone upstairs."
Barbara paused in front of the butler and poured out a glass of water.
"I can't wait, Grimes, I am too thirsty."

"Certainly, miss, that's all right." Grimes craned his head around
and looked up and down the hail, then leaning over he placed the tray
on a convenient table and stepped close to Barbara.

"I've been reading the newspapers very carefully, miss," he began,
taking care to keep his voice lowered. "Especially that part of Mr.
Turnbull's inquest which tells about the post-mortem."

"Well, what then?" asked Barbara quickly as the butler paused and
again glanced up and down the hall.

"Just this, miss," he spoke almost in a whisper. "The doctors do
say poor Mr. Turnbull was poisoned by acca - aconitine," stumbling
over the word. "It's a curious thing, miss, that I brought some of
that very drug into this house last Sunday."

"You did!" Barbara's fresh young voice rose in astonishment.

"Hush, miss!" The butler raised both hands. "Hush!" He glanced
cautiously around, then continued. "Colonel McIntyre sent me to
the druggist with a prescription from Dr. Stone for Mrs. Brewster
when she had romantic neuralgia."

"Had what?" Barbara looked puzzled, then giggled, but her mirth
quickly altered to seriousness at sight of the butler's expression.
"Mrs. Brewster had a touch of rheumatic neuralgia the first of the
month; do you refer to that?"

"Yes, miss." Grimes spoke more rapidly, but kept his voice lowered.
"The druggist told me what the pills were when I exclaimed at their
size - regular little pellets, no bigger than that," he demonstrated
the size with the tip of his little finger, and would have added
more but the gong over the front door rang out with such suddenness
that both he and Barbara started violently.

"Just a moment, miss," and he hurried to the front bell, to return
after a brief colloquy with a messenger boy, bearing a letter.
"It's for Mrs. Brewster, miss," he explained, as Barbara held
out her hand.

"I'll give it to her and this also," Barbara took the envelope and
a small ice pitcher and glass. "Good night, Grimes. Oh," she
stopped midway up the staircase and waited for the butler to
overtake her, "Grimes, to whom did you give the aconitine on Sunday?"

"I didn't give it to nobody, miss." The butler was a trifle short
of breath; his years did not permit him to keep pace with the twins.
"I was in a great hurry as the druggist kept me waiting, and I had
to serve tea at once."

"But what did you do with the aconitine pills?" demanded Barbara.

"I left the box on the hail table, miss -"

"Great heavens!" Barbara stared at the butler, then without a word
she raced up the staircase and disappeared through the open door of
Mrs. Brewster's bedroom.

The light from the hall shone through the transom and doorway in
sufficient volume to clearly indicate the different pieces of
furniture, and Barbara put the pitcher and glass on the bed stand
and laid the letter which Grimes had given her on the dressing
table, then went slowly into her own bedroom. She could hear voices,
which she recognized as those of her sister and Mrs. Brewster,
coming from Helen's bedroom, but absorbed in her own thoughts she
undressed in the dark and crept into bed just as Mrs. Brewster
passed down the hallway and entered her own room. The widow had
taken off her evening gown and slippers and donned a becoming
wrapper before she discovered the letter lying on the dresser.
Drawing up a chair she dropped into it, let down her long dark hair,
and settled back in luxuriant comfort against the tufted upholstery
before she ran her well-manicured finger under the flap of the
envelope. A slip of paper fell into her lap as she took out the
contents of the envelope and she let it rest there while scanning
the closely typewritten lines on the Metropolis Trust Company
stationery.

Dear Mrs. Brewster, she read. Our bank teller, Mr. McDonald, has
questioned the genuineness of the signature on the inclosed check.
An important business engagement prevents my calling to-night, but
please stop at the bank early to-morrow morning.

I feel that you would prefer to have a personal investigation made
rather than have us place the matter in the hands of the police.

Yours faithfully,
BENJAMIN A. CLYMER.

The widow read the note a number of times, then bethinking herself,
she picked up the canceled check still lying in her lap, and turned
it over. Long and intently she studied the signature - the
peculiarly characteristic formation of the letter "B" caught and
held her attention. As the seconds ticked themselves into minutes
she sat immovable, her face as white as the hand on which she had
bowed her head.

Across the hall Helen McIntyre tossed from one side to the other in
her soft bed; her restless longing to get up was growing stronger and
stronger. While Mrs. Brewster's deft fingers and the cooling cologne
had stopped the throbbing in her temples, they had brought only
temporary relief in their train and not the sleep which Helen craved.
She strained her ears to discover the time by the ticking of her
clock, but either it was between the half or quarters of an hour,
or it had stopped, for no chimes sounded. With a gasp of
exasperation, Helen flung back the bed clothes and sat up. Switching
on the light by the side of her bed she hunted for a book, but not
finding any, she contemplated for a short space of time a pair of
rubber-heeled shoes just showing themselves under the edge of a chair.
With sudden decision she left the bed and dressed rapidly. It was
not until she had put on her rubber-heeled shoes that she paused.
Her hesitation, however, was but brief. Stepping to the bureau, she
pulled out a lower drawer and running her hand inside, touched a
concealed spring. From the cavity thus exposed she took a small
automatic pistol, and with a stealthy glance about her, crept from
the room.

The library had been vacant fully an hour when a mouse, intent on
making a raid on the candy which Barbara had carelessly left lying
loose on one of the tables, paused as a faint creaking sound broke
the stillness, then as the noise increased, the mouse scurried back
to its hole. The noise resembled the turning of rusty hinges and
the soft thud of one piece of wood striking another. There was a
strained silence, then, from out of the darkness appeared a tiny
stream of light directed full on a white envelope bearing a large
red seal.

The next instant the envelope was plucked from the hand holding it,
and a figure lay crumpled on the floor from the blow of a descending
weapon.

It was closely approaching one o'clock in the morning before Mrs.
Brewster stirred from her comfortable bedroom chair. Taking up her
electric torch, which she kept always by the side of her bed, she
walked quickly down the staircase and into the pitch dark library.
Directing her torch-light so that she steered a safe course among
the chairs and tables, she approached one of the pieces of carved
Venetian furniture and reached out her hand to touch a trap-door.
As she looked for the spring she was horrified to see a thin
stream of blood oozing through the carving until, reaching the
letter "B," it outlined that initial in sinister red.

Scream after scream broke from Mrs. Brewster. She was swaying upon
her feet by the time Colonel McIntyre and his daughter Helen reached
the library.

"Margaret! What is it?" McIntyre demanded. "Calm yourself, my
darling."

The frenzied woman shook off his soothing hand.

"See, see!" she cried and pointed with her torch.

"She means the Venetian casket," explained Helen, who had paused
before joining them to switch on the light.

Colonel McIntyre gazed in amazement at the piece of furniture;
then catching sight of the blood-stain, he raised the small
trap-door or peep hole, in the top of the oblong box which stood
breast high, supported on a beautifully carved base.

There was a breathless pause; then McIntyre unceremoniously jerked
the electric torch from Mrs. Brewster's nervous fingers and turned
its rays of the interior of the casket. Stretched at full length
lay the figure of a man, and from a wound in his temple flowed a
steady stream of blood.

"Good God!" McIntyre staggered back against Helen. "Grimes!"

CHAPTER XVII

A QUESTION OF H0USE-BREAKING

The genial president of the Metropolis Trust Company was late.
Mrs. Brewster, waiting in his well-appointed office, restrained her
ill-temper only by an exertion of will-power. She detested being
kept waiting, and that morning she had many errands to attend to
before the luncheon hour.

"May I use your telephone?" she asked Mr. Clymer's secretary, and
the young man rose with alacrity from his desk. Mrs. Brewster never
knew what it was to lack attention, even her own sex were known on
occasions to give her gowns and, (what captious critics termed her
"frivolous conduct") undivided attention.

"Can I look up the number for you?" the secretary asked as Mrs.
Brewster took up the telephone book and fumbled for the gold chain
of her lorgnette.

"Oh, thank you," her smile showed each pretty dimple. "I wish to
speak to Mr. Kent, of the firm of Rochester and Kent."

"Harry Kent?" The young secretary dropped the book without looking
at it, and gave a number to the operator, and then handed the
instrument to Mrs. Brewster.

"Mr. Kent not in, did you say?" asked the widow. " Who is speaking?
Ah, Mr. Sylvester - has Mr. Rochester returned? - Both partners
away" . . . she paused . . . "I'll call later - Mrs. Brewster,
good morning."

Mrs. Brewster hung up the receiver and turned to the secretary.

"I don't believe I can wait any longer," she began, and paused, as
Benjamin Clymer appeared in the doorway.

"So sorry to be late," he exclaimed, shaking her hand warmly. "And
I am sorry, also, to have called you here on such an errand."

Mrs. Brewster waited until the young secretary had withdrawn out of
earshot before replying; then taking the chair Clymer placed for her
near his own, she opened her gold mesh bag and took out a canceled
check and laid it on the desk in front of the bank president.

"Your bank honored this check?" she asked Yes."

"Who presented it?"

Clymer pressed the buzzer and his secretary came at once.

"Ask Mr. McDonald to step here," and as the man vanished on his
errand, he addressed Mrs. Brewster. "How is Colonel McIntyre this
morning?"

Mrs. Brewster's eyes opened at the question. "Quite well," she
replied, and prompted by her curiosity added: "What made you think
him ill?"

"I stopped at Dr. Stone's office on the way down town, and his boy
told me the doctor had been sent for by Colonel McIntyre," Clymer
explained. "I hope neither of the twins is ill."

"No. Colonel McIntyre sent for Dr. Stone to attend Grimes -"

"The butler! Too bad he is ill; Grimes is an institution in the
McIntyre household." Clymer spoke with sincere regret, and Mrs.
Brewster eyed him approvingly; she liked good-looking men of his
stamp. "Come in, McDonald," as the bank teller appeared. "You
know Mrs. Brewster?"

"Mr. McDonald was one of my first acquaintances in Washington," and
Mrs. Brewster smiled as she held out her hand.

"About this check, McDonald," Clymer handed it to the teller as he
spoke. "Who presented it?"

"Miss McIntyre."

"Which Miss McIntyre?" Mrs. Brewster put the question with swift
intentness.

"I can't tell one twin from the other," confessed McDonald. "But,
as you see, the check is made payable to Barbara McIntyre."

"The inference being that Barbara McIntyre presented the check for
payment," commented Clymer, and McDonald bowed. "It would seem,
therefore, that Barbara wrote your signature on the check, Mrs.
Brewster."

"No." The widow had whitened under her rouge, but her eyes did not
falter in their direct gaze. "The signature is genuine. I drew
the check."

The two men exchanged glances. The bank president was the first to
break the short silence. "In that case there is nothing more to
be said," he remarked, and picking up the check handed it to Mrs.
Brewster. Without a glance at it, she folded the paper and placed
it inside her gold mesh bag.

"I must not take up any more of your time," she said. "I thank
you - both."

"Mrs. Brewster." Clymer spoke impulsively. "I'd like to shake hands
with you."

Coloring warmly, the widow slipped her small hand inside his, and
with a friendly bow to McDonald, she walked through the bank,
keeping up with Clymer's long strides as best she could. As they
crossed the sidewalk to the waiting limousine they ran almost into
the arms of Harry Kent, whose rapid gait did not suit the congested
condition of the "Wall Street" of Washington. "I tried to reach
you on the telephone this morning," exclaimed Mrs. Brewster, after
greeting him.

"So my clerk informed me when I saw him a few minutes ago." Kent
helped her inside the limousine. "Won't you come to my office now?"

"But that will be taking you from Mr. Clymer," remonstrated Mrs.
Brewster. "Weren't you on the way to the bank?"

"I was," admitted Kent. "But I can see Mr. Clymer later in the day."

"And I'll be less occupied then," added Clymer. " Go with Mrs.
Brewster, Kent; good morning, madam," and with a courtly bow Clymer
withdrew.

Kent's office was only around the corner, and as Mrs. Brewster
kept up a running fire of impersonal gossip, Kent had no
opportunity to satisfy his curiosity regarding her reasons for
wanting to interview him. As the limousine drew up at the curb in
front of his office, a man darting down the steps of the building,
caught sight of Kent and hurried to the car window.

"I was just trying to catch you at the bank, Mr. Kent," he explained,
and looking around Kent recognized Sylvester. "There's been three
telephone calls for you in succession from Colonel McIntyre to
hurry to his home."

"Thanks, Sylvester." Kent turned to Mrs. Brewster. "Would you mind
driving me to the McIntyre? We can talk on the way there."

Mrs. Brewster picked up the speaking tube. "Home, , Harris," she
directed, as the chauffeur listened for the order.

Neither spoke as the big car started up the street but as they
swung past old St. John's Church, Mrs. Brewster broke her silence.

"Mr. Kent," she drew further back in her corner. "I claim a woman's
privilege - to change my mind. Forget that I ever expressed a wish
to consult you professionally, and remember, I am always glad to
meet you as a friend."

"Certainly, Mrs. Brewster, as you wish." Kent's tone, expressing
polite acquiescence, covered mixed feelings. What had caused the
widow to change her mind so suddenly, and above all, what had she
wished to consult him about? He faced her more directly. She
was charmingly gowned, and in spite of his perplexities, he could
not but admire her air of quiet elegance and the soft dark eyes
regarding him in friendly good-fellowship. Suddenly realizing that
his glance had become a fixed stare, he hastily averted his eyes
from her face, catching sight, as he did so, of the gold mesh bag
lying in her lap. The glint of sunlight brought into prominence
the handsomely engraved letter "B" on its surface. An unexpected
swerve of the limousine, as the chauffeur turned short to avoid a
speeding army truck, caused both Kent and Mrs. Brewster to sway
forward and the gold mesh bag slid to the floor, carrying with it
the widow's handkerchief and gold vanity box. Kent stooped over
and picked up the articles as well as the contents of the mesh bag,
which had opened in its descent and spilled her money and papers
over the floor of the limousine.

"Oh, thank you," exclaimed Mrs. Brewster, as he handed her the bag,
box, and bank notes. "Don't bother to look for that quarter; Harris
will find it at the garage."

Kent ignored her remark as he again searched the floor of the car;
he was glad of the pretext to avoid looking at the widow. He wanted
time to collect his thoughts for, in Picking up her belongings, her
handkerchief had caught his attention - he had seen its mate in the
possession of Detective Ferguson, and clinging to it the broken

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