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The Red Seal by Natalie Sumner Lincoln

Part 4 out of 4

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portions of the capsules of amyl nitrite which Jimmie Turnbull had
inhaled just before his mysterious death.

Into Kent's mind flashed Mrs. Sylvester's statement that Mrs.
Brewster was in the police court at the time of the tragedy,
although in her testimony at the inquest she had sworn she had
not heard of Jimmie's death until the return of Helen and Barbara
McIntyre. She had been in the police court, and Jimmie had used
her handkerchief - a mate to the one she was then holding, the
letter "B" with its peculiar twist was unmistakable - and "B"
stood for Brewster as well as for Barbara! Kent drew in his breath
sharply.

"My handkerchief, please," the widow held out her hand, and after
a moment's hesitation, Kent gave it to her.

"Pardon me," he apologized. "I was struck by the handkerchief's
appearance."

Mrs. Brewster turned it over. "In what way is the handkerchief
unique?" she asked, laughing.

"Because Jimmie Turnbull crushed amyl nitrite capsules in its mate
just before he died," explained Kent quietly. "Detective Ferguson
claims that Jimmie unintentionally broke more than one capsule in
the handkerchief, was overcome by the powerful fumes and died."

"But the inquest proved that Jimmie was killed by a dose of
aconitine poison," she reminded him, as she tucked the handkerchief
up her sleeve.

Kent did not reply immediately. "A man does not usually carry a
woman's handkerchief about with him," he commented slowly. "Odd,
is it not, that Jimmie should have used a handkerchief of yours
in the police court just prior to his death, while you were sitting
a few feet away?"

"I?" Mrs. Brewster turned and regarded him steadfastly. She was
deadly white under her rouge. "Mr. Kent, are you crazy?"

"Yes, crazy to know why you kept your presence in the police court
on Tuesday morning a secret," replied Kent. In their earnestness
neither noticed Kent's absent-minded clutch on a small folded paper
which he had picked up from the floor of the limousine. "Mrs.
Brewster, why did you laugh when Dr. Stone carried Jimmie Turnbull
out of the court room?"

Mrs. Brewster sat still in her corner of the car; so still that
Kent, observing her closely, feared that she had fainted. She had
dropped her eyes, and her face, set like marble, gave him no key
to her thoughts.

The door of the limousine was jerked open almost before the car
came to a full stop in front of the McIntyre residence, and Colonel
McIntyre offered his hand to help Mrs. Brewster out. On the step
she turned to Kent, who had lifted his hat to McIntyre in silent
greeting.

"Your forte lies as a romancer rather than a lawyer, Mr. Kent," she
said, and not giving him time for a reply, almost ran inside the
house.

"Glad you could get here so soon, Kent," remarked McIntyre, signing
to his chauffeur to drive on before he led the way into the house.
"Grimes has worked himself almost into a fever asking for you."

"Grimes?"

"Yes. Grimes was attacked in our library early this morning by
some unknown person, and is in bed with a bad wound on his temple
and a tendency to hysteria," McIntyre explained.

"Come upstairs."

Kent handed his cane and hat to the footman and followed Colonel
McIntyre, who stalked ahead without another word. As they mounted
the stairs Kent glanced at the folded paper which he still held,
and was surprised to see that it was a check. The signature
showed him that he had unintentionally walked off with Mrs.
Brewster's property. His decision to hand it to Colonel McIntyre
was checked by the Colonel disappearing inside a bedroom, with a
muttered injunction to "wait there," and Kent stuffed the check
inside his vest pocket. It would serve as an excuse to interview
Mrs. Brewster again before leaving the house. He was determined
to have an answer to the question he had put to her in the
limousine. Why had she gone to the police court, and why kept her
presence there a secret?

When Colonel McIntyre reappeared in the hall he was accompanied by
Detective Ferguson. "Sorry to keep you standing, Kent," he said.
"I have sent for you and Ferguson, first because Grimes insists on
seeing you, and second, because I am determined that this midnight
house-breaking shall be thoroughly investigated and put an end to.
This way," and he led them into a large airy bedroom on the third
floor, to which Grimes had been carried unconscious that morning,
instead of to his own bedroom in the servants' quarters.

Grimes, with his head swathed in bandages, was a woe-begone object.
He greeted Colonel McIntyre and the detective with a sullen glare,
but his eyes brightened at sight of Kent, and he moved a feeble
hand in welcome.

"Sit down, sirs," he mumbled. "There's chairs for all."

"Don't worry about us," remarked McIntyre cheerily. "Just tell us
how you got that nasty knock on the head."

"I dunno, sir; it came like a clap o' thunder," Grimes tried to
lift his head, but gave over the attempt as excruciating pain
followed the effort.

"What hour of the morning was it?" asked Ferguson.

"About one o'clock, as near as I can tell, sir."

"And what were you doing in the library at that hour, Grimes?"
demanded McIntyre.

"Trying to find out what your household was up to, sir," was Grimes'
unexpected answer, and McIntyre started.

"Explain your meaning, Grimes," he commanded sternly.

"You can do it better than I can, sir," retorted Grimes. "You know
the reason every one's searching the room with the seven doors."

"The room with the seven doors!" echoed Ferguson. "Which is that?"

"Grimes means the library." McIntyre's tone was short. "I have no
idea, Grimes, what your allegations mean. Be more explicit."

The butler eyed him in no friendly fashion. "Wasn't Mr. Turnbull
arrested in that very room?" he demanded. "And what was he looking
for?"

"Mr. Turnbull's presence has been explained," replied McIntyre.
"He came here disguised as a burglar on a wager with my daughter,
Miss Barbara."

"Ah, did he now?" Grimes' rising inflection indicated nervous
tension. "Did a man with a bad heart come here in the dead of night
for nothing but that foolishness?" Grimes glared at his three
visitors. "You bet he didn't."

Ferguson, who had followed the dialogue between McIntyre and his
servant with deep attention, addressed the excited man.

"Why did Mr. Turnbull enter Colonel McIntyre's library on Monday
night disguised as a burglar?" he asked.

Grimes, by a twist of his head, managed to regard the detective out
of the corner of his eye.

"Aye, why did he?" he repeated. "That's what I went to the library
last night to find out."

"Did you discover anything?" The question shot from McIntyre, and
both Ferguson and Kent watched him as they waited for Grimes' reply.
The butler took his time.

"No, sir."

McIntyre threw himself back in his chair and his eyebrows rose in
interrogation as he touched his forehead significantly and glanced
at Grimes. That the butler caught his meaning was evident from his
expression, but he said nothing. The detective was the first to
speak.

"Did you hear any one break into the house when you were prowling
around, Grimes?" he asked.

"No, sir."

The detective turned to Colonel McIntyre. "After finding Grimes
did you search the house?" he inquired.

"Yes. The patrolman, O'Ryan, and my new footman, Murray, went with
me through the entire house, and we found all doors and windows
to the front and rear of the house securely locked," responded
McIntyre; "except the window of the reception room on the ground
floor. That was closed but unlatched."

Kent wondered if the grimace which twisted the butler's face was
meant for a smile.

"That there window was locked when I went to bed," Grimes stated
with slow distinctness. "And I was the last person in this house
to go to my room."

McIntyre started to speak when Ferguson stopped him.

"Just let me handle this case," he said persuasively. "You have
called in the police," and as McIntyre commenced some
uncomplimentary remark, he added with sternness. "Don't interfere,
sir. Now, Grimes, your statements imply one of two things - some
member of the household either went downstairs after you had
retired, and opened the window in the reception room to admit the
person who afterwards attacked you in the library, or" - Ferguson
paused significantly, "some member of this household knocked you
senseless in the library. Which was it?"

There was a tense silence. McIntyre, by an obvious effort,
refrained from speech as they waited for Grimes' answer.

"I dunno who hit me." Grimes avoided looking at the three men. "But
some one did, and that window in the reception room was locked when
I went upstairs to my bedroom after every one had retired. I'm
telling you God's truth, sir."

McIntyre eyed him in wrathful silence, then turned to his companions.

"The blow has knocked Grimes silly," he commented. "There is
certainly no motive for any of us to attack Grimes, nor has any
trace of a weapon been found such as must have been used against
Grimes. O'Ryan and I looked particularly for it, after removing
Grimes from the Venetian casket, where my daughter Helen, Mrs.
Brewster and I discovered him lying unconscious."

"What's this Venetian casket like?" asked Ferguson before Kent
could question McIntyre.

"It is a fine sample of carving of the Middle Ages," replied
McIntyre. "I purchased the pair when in Venice years ago. They
are over six feet in length, about three feet wide, and rest on a
carved base. There is a door at the end through which it was
customary in the Middle Ages to slide the body, after embalming,
for the funeral ceremonies, after which the body was removed,
placed in another casket and buried. There is a square opening or
peep hole on the top of the casket through which you can look at
the body; a cleverly concealed door covers this opening. In fact,"
added McIntyre, "the door at the end is not at first discernible,
and is hard to open, unless one has the knack of doing so."

"Hum! It looks as if whoever put Grimes inside the casket was
familiar with it," remarked Ferguson dryly, and McIntyre bit his
lip. "Guess I'll go and take a look at the casket. I'll come back,
Grimes."

Kent rose with the others and started to follow them to the door,
but Grimes beckoned him to approach the bed. The butler waited
until he heard McIntyre's heavy tread and the lighter footfall of
the detective recede down the hall before speaking.

"I was only going to say, sir," he whispered as Kent, at a sign
from him, stooped over the bed, "I got a box of aconitine pills
for Mrs. Brewster on Sunday - the stuff that poisoned Mr. Turnbull,"
he paused to explain.

"Yes, go on," urged Kent, catching the man's excitement. "You
gave it to Mrs. Brewster -"

"No, sir; I didn't; I left the box on the hall table," Grimes
cleared his throat nervously. "I dunno who picked up that box
o' poison, Mr. Kent; so help me God, I dunno!"

Kent thought rapidly. "Have you told any one of this?" he asked.

Grimes nodded. "Only one person," he admitted." I spoke to Miss
Barbara last night as she was going to bed." Grimes laid a hot
hand on Kent's and glanced fearfully around the room. "Bend nearer,
sir; I don't want none other to hear me. Just before I got that
knockout blow in the library last night, I heard the swish o' skirts
- and Miss Barbara was the only living person who knew I knew about
the poison."

Kent stared in stupefaction at the butler. He was aroused by a
cold voice from the doorway.

"We are waiting for you, Kent," and Colonel McIntyre stood aside
to let him pass from the room ahead of him, then without a backward
glance at the injured butler, he closed and locked the bedroom door.

CHAPTER XVIII

THE FATAL PERIOD

As Kent walked into the library he found Colonel McIntyre by his
side; the latter's even breathing gave no indication of the haste
he had made down the staircase to catch up with Kent.

Detective Ferguson hardly noted their arrival, his attention being
given wholly to the examination of the Venetian casket which had
played such an important part in the drama of the night before.
The casket and its companion piece stood on either side of the room
near a window recess. The long straight shape of the high boxes on
their graceful base gave no indication of the use to which they had
been put in ancient days, but made attractive as well as unique
pieces of furniture.

Kent crossed the library and, after looking inside the casket,
examined the exterior with care.

"Don't touch that crest," cautioned Ferguson, observing that Kent's
glance remained focused on the blood-stained, raised letter "B"
and the carving back of it. "In fact, don't touch any part of the
casket, I'm trying to get finger prints."

Kent barely heard the warning as he turned to McIntyre.

"Haven't I seen that letter 'B' design on your stationery, Colonel?"
he asked.

"Barbara uses it," was the reply. "She fancied the antique
lettering, and copied the 'B' for the engraver; she is handy with
her pen, you know."

"Did she wish the 'B' for a seal?" inquired Kent.

"Yes, she had a seal made like it also." McIntyre moved closer to
the casket. "Found anything, Ferguson?"

The detective withdrew his head from the opening at the end of the
casket, and regarded the furniture vexedly.

"Not a thing," he acknowledged. "Except I am convinced that it
required dexterity to slip Grimes inside the casket. The butler is
small and slight, but he must have been unconscious from that tap
on the forehead and, therefore, a dead weight. Whoever picked him
up must have been some athlete, and" - running his eyes up and down
Colonel McIntyre's well-knit, erect frame - "pretty familiar with
the workings of this casket."

"Pooh! It's not so difficult a feat," McIntyre shrugged his
shoulders disdainfully. "My daughters, as children, used to play
hide and seek inside the casket with each new governess."

Ferguson stepped forward briskly. "Mr. Kent, let me see if I can
lift you inside the casket; make yourself limp - that's it!" as
Kent, entering into the investigation heart and soul, relaxed
his muscles and fell back against the detective.

A moment later he was swung upward and pushed head-first inside the
casket and the door closed. The air, though close, was not
unpleasant and Kent, his eyes growing gradually accustomed to the
dark interior, tried to discover the trap door at the top of the
box but without success. Putting out his hands he felt along the
top. The height of the casket did not permit him to sit up, so
he was obliged to slide his body down toward his feet to feel
along the sides of the casket. This maneuver soon brought his
knees in violent contact with the top, and at the sound Ferguson
opened the door and assisted him out.

"Had enough of it?" he asked, viewing Kent's reddened cheeks with
faint amusement. "I wonder if Grimes could breathe in there for
any lengthy period. If so, it would help establish the time which
elapsed between his being incarcerated and your finding him, Colonel."

"How so?" demanded McIntyre.

"Well, if he couldn't get air and you hadn't discovered him at once,
he'd have died," explained Ferguson. "If you did find him
immediately the person who knocked him down must have made a
lightning escape."

"Air does get in the casket in some way," broke in Kent. "It wasn't
so bad inside. Colonel McIntyre," Kent stopped a moment to remove a
piece of red sealing wax clinging to the cuff of his suit. It had
not been there when he entered the casket. Kent dropped the wax in
his vest pocket as he again addressed his host. "Who first
discovered Grimes in the casket?"

"Mrs. Brewster."

"And what was Mrs. Brewster doing in the library at that hour?"
glancing keenly at McIntyre as he put the question.

"She could not sleep and came down for a book," explained the
Colonel.

Ferguson, who had walked several times around the library, looking
behind first one and then the other of the seven doors, paused to
ask:

"What attracted Mrs. Brewster's attention to the casket?"

"The blood stain on its side," McIntyre answered.

"What - that!" Ferguson eyed McIntyre
incredulously. "Come, sir, do you mean to tell me she noticed that
little bit of a stain in a dark room?"

"She had an electric torch," shortly.

"But why should she turn the torch on this casket?" persisted the
detective. "She came to the library for a book, and the bookcases
are in another part of the room."

"Quite so, but the book she wished was lying on the top of this
casket," replied McIntyre, meeting their level looks with one
equally steadfast. "I know because I left the book there."

Ferguson glanced from McIntyre to Kent and back again at the Colonel
in non-plussed silence. The explanation was pat.

"I'd like to talk with Mrs. Brewster," he remarked dryly.

"Certainly." McIntyre pressed an electric button. The summons was
answered immediately by the new servant, Murray. "Ask Mrs. Brewster
if she can see Detective Ferguson in the library, Murray," McIntyre
directed.

"Beg pardon, sir, but Mrs. Brewster has just gone out," and with
a bow Murray withdrew.

Kent, who had drawn forward a chair preparatory to sitting down
and participating in the interview with the widow, changed his mind.

"I must leave at once," he said, after consulting his watch.
"Please inform Mrs. Brewster, Colonel, that I will be in my office
this afternoon, and I expect her to make me the visit she postponed
this morning. Ferguson," turning back to address the detective,
"you'll find me at the Saratoga for the next hour. Good morning,"
and paying no attention to Colonel McIntyre's request to remain, he
left the room.

There was no one in the hall and Kent debated a moment whether or
not to ring for the servant and ask to see Barbara, but, at sight
of the hall table, Grimes' confidences recurred to him and drove
everything else out of his mind. Stopping before the table he
contemplated its smooth surface before moving the few ornaments it
held. Satisfied that no pillbox stood behind any of them, he
pulled open the two drawers and tumbled their contents about. His
efforts only brought to light some half-empty cigarette boxes,
matches, a scratch pad or two, and old visiting cards.

Kent shut the drawers, picked up his hat, and took his cane from
the tall china umbrella-stand by the hall table. As he stepped
through the front doorway he caught sight of the end of his cane,
which he was carrying tucked under his arm. Fastened to the ferule
of the cane was the round top of a paste-board pill box.

Kent backed so swiftly into the house again that his figure blocked
the closing of the front door, which he had started to pull shut
after him. Letting the door close gently he walked back to
the umbrella stand. It was a tall heavy affair, and he had some
difficulty in tipping it over and letting its contents spill on the
floor. A soft exclamation escaped him as three little pellets
rolled past him, and then came the bottom of a box.

With hasty fingers Kent picked them up, placed them in the box, and
fitted on the top, first carefully smoothing over the hole made by
his cane when thrust into the umbrella stand by the footman.
Replacing the stand he wrapped the box containing the pills in his
handkerchief and hurried from the house.

Kent found the operative from Detective Headquarters sitting on
duty in Rochester's living room when he entered that apartment a
quarter of an hour later.

"Any one called here?" he asked, as the man, whom he had met the
night before, greeted him.

"Not a soul, Mr. Kent." Nelson suppressed a yawn; his relief was
late in coming, and he had had little sleep the night before.
"There's been no disturbance of any kind, not even a ring at the
telephone."

Kent considered a moment, then sat down by the telephone and gave
a number to Central.

"That you, Sylvester?" he called into the mouth-piece. "If Mrs.
Brewster comes to the office, telephone me at Mr. Rochester's
apartment, Franklin 52. Don't let Mrs. Brewster leave until I
have seen her."

"Yes, sir," came the reply, and Kent hung up the receiver.

"Had any luncheon?" he asked Nelson as the man loitered around.

"Not yet" - Nelson's eyes brightened at the word. It was long past
his usual meal hour.

"Run down to the caf on the first floor and tell the head waiter
to give you a square meal and charge it to me," Kent directed.
"Order something substantial; you must be used up."

The man hung back. "Thank you, Mr. Kent, but I don't like to
leave here until my relief comes," he objected.

"That's all right, I'll stay in the apartment until you return,"
and Kent settled the question by opening the door leading into the
outer corridor. "Ferguson will be around shortly, so hurry."

Kent watched the man scurry toward the elevator shaft, then returned
to Rochester's apartment and once more took up the telephone. The
operative's reluctance to leave the apartment unguarded had altered
his plans somewhat.

"Is this Dr. Stone's office?" he asked a moment later, as a faint
"hello," came over the wire. "Oh, doctor, this is Kent. Please
come over to Rochester's apartment; I would like to consult you in
regard to an important matter. You'll come now? Thanks."

The doctor kept Kent waiting less than five minutes. The clock
was striking one when he appeared, bland and smiling. Hardly
waiting for him to select a seat Kent flung himself into a chair in
front of Rochester's desk and laid the pill box on the writing pad.

"Now, doctor," he began, and his manner gained in seriousness, "what,
in your opinion, killed Jimmie Turnbull?"

"The post-mortem examination proved that he had swallowed aconitine
in sufficient quantity to cause death," Stone replied. "He
undoubtedly died from the effects of that poison."

"Is aconitine difficult to procure?" asked Kent.

"It is often prescribed for fevers." Stone made himself comfortable
in a near-by chair. "Aconitine is the alkaloid of aconite. I
believe that in India it is frequently employed, not only for the
destruction of wild beasts, but for criminal purposes. The India
variety is known as the Bish poison."

Kent started - Bish poison - was he never to get away from the
letter "B"?

"Can you procure Bish in this country?" he asked.

Stone considered the question. "You might be able to purchase it
from some Hindoo residing or traveling in the United States," he
said, after a pause. " I doubt if you could buy it in a drug store."

Kent heaved a sigh of relief as he hitched his chair closer to the
physician.

"Did you prescribe a dose of aconitine for Mrs. Brewster recently?"
he asked.

"I did, for an attack of rheumatic neuralgia." Stone eyed him
curiously. "What then, Kent?"

"Is this the box the medicine came in?" and Kent placed the cover
in Stone's hand.

Stone turned the paste-board over and studied the defaced label.
"I cannot answer that question positively," he said. "The label
bears my name and that of the druggist, but the directions are
missing."

"But the number's on it," put in Kent swiftly. "Come, Stone, call
up the druggist, repeat the number to him, and ask if it calls for
your aconitine prescription."

Stone hesitated as if about to speak, then, reaching out his hand,
he picked up the telephone and held a short conversation with the
drug clerk of the Thompson Pharmacy.

"That is the box which contained the aconitine pills for Mrs.
Brewster," he said, when he had replaced the telephone. "Now, Kent,
I have secured the information you wished; kindly tell me your
reasons for desiring it."

It was Kent's turn to hesitate. "Do you know many instances where
aconitine was used by murderers?" he questioned.

"N-no. I believe it was the drug used in the celebrated Lamson
poison case," replied the physician slowly. "I cannot recall any
others just at the moment."

"How about suicides?"

"It is seldom, if ever, used for suicides." Stone spoke with more
assurance. "I have found in my practice, Kent, that suicides can
be classed as follows: drowning by the young, pistols by the adult,
and hanging by the aged; women generally prefer asphyxiation, using
illuminating gas. But this is beside the question, unless" - bending
a penetrating look at his companion -" unless you believe Jimmie
Turnbull committed suicide."

"That idea has occurred to me," admitted Kent. "But it doesn't
square with other facts which have developed, nor is it in keeping
with the character of the man."

"Men who suffer from a mortal disease sometimes commit desperate
acts, not at all in accord with their previous conduct," responded
Stone gravely. "Come, Kent, you have not answered my question.
Why did you wish information about this box of aconitine pills
prescribed for Mrs. Brewster during her attack of neuralgia?"

"You have just stated that aconitine is not usually administered to
murder a person," Kent spoke seriously, choosing his words with care.
"Do you wonder then, that I consider it more than a coincidence that
Jimmie Turnbull should have died from a dose of that poison, and that
the drug should have been prescribed for one of the inmates of the
house he visited shortly before his death?"

The physician sat upright, his face had grown gray. "Mr. Kent," he
commenced indignantly, "are you aware what you are insinuating? Are
you, also, aware that Mrs. Brewster is my cousin, a charming,
honorable woman, without a stain on her character?"

Kent set the bottom of the box containing the pills in front of the
doctor.

"I have found out that this box, with its dangerous drug, was left
on the hall table in the McIntyre house; apparently any one had
access to its contents, therefore my remarks are not directed
against Mrs. Brewster any more than against any person in the
McIntyre household, from the Colonel to the servants. I found these
three pills at the McIntyre house this morning; how many did your
prescription call for?"

Stone picked up the small pills and, as he balanced them in his palm,
his manner grew more alert. Suddenly he dropped two back in the box
and touched the third pill with the tip of his tongue; not content
with that he crushed it in his fingers, sniffed the drug, and again
tested it with his tongue. His expression was peculiar as he looked
up at Kent.

"These are not aconitine pills," he stated positively. "They are
nitro-glycerine. How did they get in this box?"

Kent rubbed his chin in bewilderment. The box bearing the aconitine
label and the pills had all rolled out of the china umbrella stand,
and he had taken it for granted that the pills belonged in the box.

"I found them loose in the same receptacle," he explained. "And
concluded they were what remained of the aconitine pills which
Grimes, the McIntyre butler, said he left on the hall table Sunday
afternoon."

Stone smiled with what Kent, who was watching him closely, judged
to be an odd mixture of relief and apprehension.

"You could not have found more dissimilar medicine to go in this
pill box, although the two kinds of pills are identical in color
and size," he said. "Aconitine depresses the heart action while
the other stimulates it."

The physician's statement fell on deaf ears. Raising his head after
contemplating the pills, Kent had looked across the room and his
glance had fallen on a wing chair, standing just inside the doorway
of the living room, and thrown partly in shadow by the portieres.
The wing of the chair appeared to move. Kent rubbed his eyes and
looking again, caught the same slight movement.

Bounding toward the chair Kent saw that the brown shape which he
had mistaken for part of the tufted upholstery was the sleek brown
hair of a man's well-shaped head. He halted abruptly on meeting the
gaze of a pair of mocking eyes.

"Rochester?" he gasped unbelievingly. "Rochester!"

His partner laughed softly as Stone approached. "I have been an
interested listener," he said. "Let me complete the good doctor's
argument. Nitro-glycerine would have benefitted Jimmie Turnbull and
his feeble heart; whereas the missing aconitine pills killed him."

Stone regarded him with severity. "How did you get in this
apartment?" he demanded, declining the challenge Rochester had
offered in addressing his opinion of Turnbull's death directly to
him.

Rochester dangled his bunch of keys in the physician's face and
smiled at his excited partner. "If you two hadn't been so absorbed
in your conversation you would have heard me walk in," he remarked.

"Where have you been?" demanded Kent, partly recovering from his
astonishment which had deprived him of speech.

"I decided to take a vacation at a moment's notice." Rochester spoke
with the same slow drawl which was characteristic of him. "You
should be accustomed to my eccentricities by this time, Harry."

"We are," announced Detective Ferguson from the hallway, where he
and Nelson had been silent witnesses of the scene. "And we'll give
you a chance to explain them in the police court."

"On what charge?" demanded Rochester.

"Poisoning your room-mate, Mr. Turnbull," replied the detective,
drawing out a pair of handcuffs. "You are mighty clever, Mr.
Rochester. I've got to hand it to you for your mysterious
disappearances in and out of this apartment, and for murdering Mr.
Turnbull right in the police court in the presence of the judge,
police officials, and spectators."

Kent stepped forward at sight of the handcuffs and laid a restraining
hand on the detective's shoulder. Rochester saw the movement,
guessed Kent's intention, and smiled.

"We can settle the case here," he said cheerfully. "No need of
troubling the police judge. Now, Mr. Detective, how did I kill
Jimmie Turnbull before all those people without any one becoming
aware of the fact?"

"Slipped the poison in the glass of water you handed him," answered
Ferguson promptly. "A nervy sleight-of-hand, but you'll swing for
it."

Rochester's smile was exasperating as he turned to Dr. Stone.

"Judging from Stone's remarks about aconitine - which I overheard,"
he interpolated. "I gather the doctor is tolerably familiar with
the action of the drug. Does aconitine kill instantly, doctor?"

Stone cleared his throat before speaking. "No; the fatal period
averages about four hours," he said, and Rochester's eyes sparkled
as he looked up at the detective.

"Jimmie died almost immediately after I handed him that drink of
water," he declared. "If you wish to know who administered that
aconitine poison, you will have to find out who Jimmie was with at
the McIntyre house in the early hours of Tuesday morning."

The sharp imperative ring of the telephone bell cut the silence
which followed. Kent, standing nearest the instrument, picked it
up, and recognized Sylvester's voice over the wire.

"A message has just come, Mr. Kent," he called, "from Mrs. Brewster
saying that she will be in your office at four o'clock."

CHAPTER XIX

THE RED SEAL AGAIN

Harry Kent inserted his key in his office door with more vigor than
good judgment, and spent some seconds in re-adjusting it in the
lock. Once inside the office he put up the latch and closed the
door. A glance around the empty office showed him that Sylvester
had obeyed his telephone instructions and gone out to luncheon.

Kent noted with satisfaction as he put his hat and cane in the coat
closet that he had over two hours before Mrs. Brewster's expected
arrival; ample time in which to consider in quietude the events of
the past few days, and plan for his interview with the pretty widow.
He had spent the time between Rochester's sudden reappearance and a
hastily swallowed lunch at a downtown caf , in arranging bail for
Rochester. Ferguson had proved obdurate and had persisted in taking
the lawyer to Police Headquarters.

Dr. Stone had accompanied the trio, and his testimony, supported by
two chemists, regarding the time required for aconitine poison to
act, had gone far to weaken the detective's case against Rochester.

Rochester, to Kent's unbounded astonishment, had appeared indifferent
to the whole proceedings; and to his partner's urgent inquiries as
to where he had spent the past four days, and why he had disappeared,
he had returned one invariable answer.

"I'll explain in good time, Harry," and it was not until they were
leaving Police Headquarters that his apathy vanished.

"When are you to see Mrs. Brewster?" he asked.

"She will be at our office at four o'clock. Say, Phil" - but
Rochester, shaking off his detaining hand, darted across the street
and sprang into a passing taxi bearing the sign, "For Hire," and
that was the last Kent had seen of his elusive partner.

Kent dropped into his chair and glanced askance at the mail piled
in neat array on his desk; he was not in a frame of mind to handle
routine office business. Other clients would have to wait until
later in the day. A memorandum pad, bearing a message in Sylvester's
precise penmanship attracted his wandering attention and he picked
it up.

"Mr. Kent:" he read. "Colonel McIntyre called just after I talked
with you on the 'phone; he waited in your office for half an hour,
then left, stating he would come back. Miss Barbara McIntyre called
immediately afterwards, but would not wait more than five minutes.
Mr. Clymer came as she was going out and left a note on your desk.
I will return soon.
"SYLVESTER."

Kent laid down the pad and picked up a twisted three-cornered note
bearing his name in pencil. Unfolding it, he scanned the hurriedly
written lines:

"Dear Kent - McIntyre telephoned there were new developments in the
Turnbull affair. Will be back later."Yours -
"B. A. CLYMER."

Kent judged from the use of his initials that Clymer was stirred
out of his ordinary calm, nothing else explained his failure to
sign his full name, and he wondered what confidences McIntyre had
made to the bank president.

Tossing down the note, Kent lighted his pipe, tilted back in his
swivel chair, and reviewed the facts which implicated Rochester in
Jimmie Turnbull's murder. Rochester's quarrels with Jimmie, his
persistent assertion that his friend had died from angina pectoris,
his unexplained disappearance on Tuesday night, the fake telegram
from Cleveland stating he was there, the withdrawal of his bank
deposits, the forged checks, his mysterious visits to his own
apartment, when considered together, presented a chain of
circumstantial evidence connecting him with the crime. But in the
light of Dr. Stone's testimony, the poison "could not have been
administered in the glass of water Rochester had given Jimmie in
the police court.

Four hours at least had to elapse before the fatal dose of aconitine
could take effect - four hours! Kent told them off on his fingers;
it placed the crime in the McIntyre house. Which one of its inmates
administered the poison to Jimmie and how had it been done? What
motive had prompted the cashier's murder?

It was preposterous to think that either of the twins was guilty of
the crime. Helen's devotion to Jimmie, her insistence upon an
autopsy being held indicated her innocence. She had stated at the
inquest that she had not known the burglar's identity; Kent paused
as the thought occurred to him - the twins had swapped identities
on the witness stand, and therefore Helen had not been called upon
to answer that question! To the best of his recollection she had
only been asked if she had recognized Jimmie in the court room and
not at her home. But Helen it was who had summoned Officer O'Ryan
on discovering the burglar and had him arrested. She surely would
never have done so had she guessed his identity.

As for Barbara McIntyre - Kent's heart beat faster at thought of
the girl he loved so well. Circumstantial evidence had seemed for
a time to involve her in the crime. Grimes' outrageous insinuation
that he had been assaulted on account of confiding to her that the
box of aconitine pills had been left on the hall table where any one
could get them, was the outcome of his battered condition. When
physical strength returned, the butler would forget his
hallucinations. The handkerchief with its embroidered letter "B,"
used by Jimmie to inhale the fumes from his amyl nitrite capsules,
was finally traced to its rightful owner - Mrs. Brewster.

And Mrs. Brewster was due in his office within a very short time.
Kent's square jaw became more pronounced; she should not leave
until she had either confessed her connection with Turnbull's death,
or established her innocence. Surely it would be easy for Mrs.
Brewster to do so, but - aconitine had been prescribed for her; she
was familiar with the poison, she had it at hand, she went to the
police court, and kept her trip a secret, and she had laughed when
Jimmie was carried dying from the court room. But what motive could
have inspired her to murder Jimmie? Was he an old lover - Kent,
unable to keep quiet any longer, rose and paced up and down the
office, stopping a moment to glance out of the window. As he
passed the safe he saw the door was ajar. Kent paused abruptly.
Who had opened the safe?

Crossing to the outer office he looked around; no one was there.
It flashed into Kent's mind that he had seen Rochester's light top
coat and walking stick in the coat closet as he hung up his hat on
his arrival, and he again opened the closet door. The coat and
stick were still there; so Rochester had come to the office
immediately after leaving him, and carelessly left the safe
open! Kent smiled in spite of his vexation; the act was typical
of his eccentric partner.

Going back to his own office Kent opened the safe and glanced
inside. The pigeon holes and compartments appeared untouched,
except the door of one small compartment on Rochester's side. An
envelope was wedged in such a manner that the small door would
not shut and that had prevented the closing of the outer safe door.

Kent, preparatory to shutting the safe, drew out the envelope
intending to place it in another pigeon-hole where there was more
room. As he turned the envelope over he was thunderstruck to
recognize it as the one which Helen McIntyre had placed in the safe
on Wednesday morning. He had last seen the envelope lying on the
table in the smoking porch of the Club de Vingt, from whence it
had mysteriously disappeared, and now it was back again in
Rochester's safe!

Had it ever been missing from the safe? The question forced itself
on Kent as he returned to his chair, envelope in hand, and sat down
before his desk. He had accepted Detective Ferguson's statement
that he had removed the envelope from the safe, and therefore had
never looked in the compartment where Helen had put it to verify its
disappearance.

Ferguson had removed it, Kent concluded as he examined the envelope
with more care; it was the identical one, unaddressed, with the same
red seal holding down the flap. The same red seal, but with a
difference - a corner was missing.

Kent stared at the seal for a moment in doubt, then his fingers
sought his vest pocket and fumbled about for a minute. Taking out
Mrs. Brewster's check, he laid it on the desk alongside the envelope,
unfolded it, and picked out a piece of red sealing wax which had slid
inside the check. Kent placed the red wax on the broken section of
the seal - it fitted exactly, forming a perfect letter "B."

Kent sat in dumbfounded silence, regarding the red seal and the
envelope. The piece of wax broken off from the seal had caught on
his coat sleeve when he had been in the Venetian casket in the
library at the McIntyre house. It was proof positive that not only
he had been in the casket, but the sealed envelope also. Helen
McIntyre had left the envelope in his care. Mrs. Brewster and
Colonel McIntyre had both been present when the envelope was stolen
from him. Which of them had taken it? Which one had afterwards
secreted it in the Venetian casket? And which had brought it back
to the safe in his office?

Colonel McIntyre had been in his office within the hour - the
question was answered, and Kent's eyes brightened, then clouded
- Barbara had been there as well, and Grimes had stated that before
he received a knock-out blow in the McIntyre library he heard the
swish of skirts!

Kent laid his hand on the envelope. It was time that he found out
what it contained; but his finger, inserted under the flap, paused
as his eyes fell on the check bearing Mrs. Brewster's signature.
It was the check he had picked up from the floor of the McIntyre
limousine that morning and inadvertently carried away with him.

>From her signature his glance wandered to Sylvester's memorandum
pad; it was uncanny the way his eye picked out the letter "B" as he
stared at Clymer's note and its signature. Slowly his hand dropped
away from the envelope and he left it lying forgotten on the desk
as he picked up piece after piece of blotting paper, glancing
intently at each and finally, pulling open a drawer of his desk,
he hunted in feverish haste for a hand-mirror.

Some ten minutes later Kent rose, placed the papers he had been
examining in the inside pocket of his coat and, using the private
entrance from his office into the corridor, he hurried away.

When Helen McIntyre entered the office of Rochester and Kent for the
second time that afternoon she found Sylvester transcribing
stenographic notes on his typewriter.

"Mr. Kent is expecting you, miss," he said, holding open the inner
office door, and with a courteous word of thanks, Helen passed the
clerk and the door closed behind her. Kent rose at her approach
and bowed formally.

"Take this chair," he suggested, and not until she was seated did
Helen realize he had placed her where the light fell full upon her.
"I asked you to come here," he began, as she waited for him to speak,
"Because I must have your confidence - if I am to aid you. Did you
meet, recognize, and talk to Jimmie Turnbull in your house sometime
between Monday midnight and his arrest on Tuesday morning?"

She colored hotly, then paled. "My testimony at the inquest,"
- she commenced, but he gave her no opportunity to add more.

"Your testimony there does not cover the question," he explained.
"You stated then that you had not recognized Jimmie in the court
room. Had you already penetrated his disguise at your house?"

"And if I had?"

"Did you?" Kent was doggedly persistent, and Helen's fingers closed
around her handbag with convulsive force. Why had she not sent
Barbara to see Kent in her place?

"Did I what?" she parried.

"Did you recognize and talk with Jimmie Turnbull in your house?"

"I talked with him, yes," she admitted, and her voice dropped almost
to a whisper.

"As Jimmie Turnbull or Smith the burglar?"

"As Jimmie" - she confessed, after a slight pause.

"Then why did you go through the farce of having Jimmie arrested as
a burglar?" Kent demanded.

"So that Barbara might win her wager," promptly. Kent stared at
her incredulously.

"Do you mean that, notwithstanding the risk to which you were
subjecting him with his weak heart, you kept up the farce simply
that Barbara might win an idiotic wager?" Kent asked.

Helen passed one nervous hand over the other; her palms were hot
and dry, and two hectic spots had appeared in each white cheek.

"Jimmie was quite well Monday night," she protested. "He - he - had
some heart medicine with him."

Amyl nitrite?"

"No."

"Nitro-glycerine?"

"I - I think that was it, I am not quite sure," she spoke with
uncertainty, and Kent knew that she lied. His heart sank.

"Did he swallow any medicine in your presence?"

She shook her head vigorously. "No, he did not."

Kent lowered his voice. "Did you see him take Mrs. Brewster's
aconitine pills off the hall table?"

Helen shifted her gaze to his face and then back to her ever
restless hands. "No," she said. "I did not see him take the pills."

Kent studied her in a silence which, to her, seemed never-ending.

"I want the true answer to this question," he announced with meaning
emphasis. "Why did Jimmie go in disguise to your house on Monday
night?"

Helen blanched. "How should I know," she muttered evasively. "He
- he didn't come to see me - the admission was barely above a
whisper.

"But you know what transpired in your house on Monday night?"
demanded Kent eagerly.

His question met with no response, and he repeated it, but still
the girl remained silent. Kent gave her a moment's grace, then
drawing out the unaddressed envelope from his pocket he held it
toward her. A low cry broke from her, and her expression changed
as she caught sight of the broken seal.

"You have opened it!"

"Not yet," Kent held the envelope just beyond her reach. "I will
only give it to you with the understanding that you open the envelope
now in my presence and let me see its contents."

Helen drew back, then impulsively extended her hand.

"I agree," she said. "Give me the envelope."

"Stop!" The word rang out, startling Kent as well as Helen, and Mrs.
Brewster, whose noiseless entrance a few seconds before had gone
unobserved, hurried to them. "The envelope is mine.

CHAPTER XX

THE UNKNOWN EQUATION

No, no," protested Helen vehemently. "You shall not give the
envelope to Margaret - you must not."

"It is mine," insisted the widow with equal vehemence.

"Mrs. Brewster." Kent withheld the envelope from both women. "Will
you tell me the contents of this envelope?"

"No," curtly. "It is not your affair."

"It is my affair," retorted Kent with equally shortness of manner.
"I insist on an answer to my questions in the limousine this morning.
How came your handkerchief in Jimmie's possession, and why did you
go to the police court and, yet keep your presence there a secret?"

"Jimmie must have picked up the handkerchief when in the McIntyre
house," she answered sullenly. "I presume he forgot to provide him
self with one in his make-up as burglar. As regards your second
question I admit I did go to the police court out of curiosity - I
wanted to find out what was going on. You," with a resentful glance
at Helen, "treated me as an outsider, and I was determined to find
out for myself how the burglar farce would end."

"Ah, you term it a farce - is that why you laughed in court?" asked
Kent quickly.

Mrs. Brewster changed color. "I feel badly about that," she
stammered. "I meant no disrespect to Jimmie, but I have a nervous
inclination to laugh - almost hysteria - when excited and
overwrought."

"I see," answered Kent slowly. He was distinctly puzzled; Mrs.
Brewster's air of candor disarmed suspicion, but - "You saw and
talked with Jimmie Turnbull on Monday night?"

"I did not." Her denial was firm.

"Then how did you learn of his arrest?" asked Kent swiftly.

"I overheard him conversing -"

"With whom?" Kent demanded eagerly as she paused as if to reconsider
her confidences. Helen, one hand on the desk and the other on the
arm of her chair, tried to rise, but her strength had deserted her.
"With whom?" repeated Kent as the widow remained silent.

"Jimmie was talking with Grimes," Mrs. Brewster stated slowly.
"From what I overheard, he paid Grimes to let him inside the house."

Kent looked perplexed as he gazed first at the widow and then at
Helen, who had sunk back in her chair.

"Mrs. Brewster," he began after a pause. "Who gave Jimmie your
aconitine pills which Grimes left on the hall table?"

"The murderer."

"Yes, of course." Kent was watching her closely and he detected the
tiny beads of perspiration which were gathering on her upper lip.
"And who, in your opinion, was the murderer?"

Mrs. Brewster's expression changed - she looked hunted, and her
eyes fell before Kent's; abruptly she turned her back on him, to
find Colonel McIntyre at her elbow and Barbara just entering the
room. Her eyes traveled past the girl until they rested on Philip
Rochester and Detective Ferguson hovering behind him. Her face
altered.

"I saw Philip Rochester," pointing dramatically toward him, "crawl
out of the reception room window and dart into the street just as
O'Ryan came in the front door with Helen."

Detective Ferguson could not restrain a joyful exclamation. "So
that was it!" he cried. "You were at the McIntyre house, and gave
the poison to Turnbull there - and not in the court room - four
hours before he died. You'll swing for that crime, my buck, in
spite of your glib tongue and slippery ways."

As he ceased speaking Ferguson's ever ready handcuffs swung
suggestively from his hand, but Helen's agonized cry checked his
approach toward Rochester, who stood stolidly waiting for him.

"Father! You cannot permit this monstrous injustice, Philip shall
not suffer for another. No, Barbara," as her sister strove to
quiet her, we must tell the truth."

"Suppose I tell it for Colonel McIntyre," Rochester advanced as the
door opened and Sylvester ushered in Benjamin Clymer. "You have
come in time, Clymer," his voice deepened, the voice of a man
accustomed to present a case and sway a court. "Wait, Sylvester,
sit at that table and take down these charges -"

"Charges?" questioned Kent, watching his partner narrowly; he
tossed a stenographic pad to Sylvester and made a place for him at
his desk. "Go on, Rochester; charges against whom?"

"Charges against the man who, occupying a position of trust, planned
to swindle the Metropolis Trust Company through forged notes and
checks," Rochester stated with slow emphasis. "Jimmie Turnbull
learned that you, Clymer, were to visit Colonel McIntyre on Monday
night, and he went there in disguise to find out if his suspicions
were correct. The investigation cost him his life."

Clymer, who had followed Rochester's statement, first with
bewilderment and then with rising wrath, found his voice.

"You drunken scoundrel!" he roared. "How dare you!"

"Dare!" Rochester laughed recklessly. "Jimmie kept his wits to the
last; his mind was clear; he recognized you in the prisoner's pen
and he tried to call you, but his palsied tongue could not say Ben,
but stuttered - B - b - b."

"And what did he wish to tell me?" gasped Clymer, down whose
colorless face perspiration trickled.

"Aye, what?" broke in Kent significantly.

"Jimmie may not have gotten the information he wished at your house,
Colonel McIntyre, but his presence there on Monday night showed the
forger he was in danger, and like the human snake he is, he poisoned
without warning. Don't move - Sylvester!"

With a backward spring Kent caught his clerk as he sped for the door.

"Don't make any mistake in putting on the handcuffs this time,
Ferguson," he shouted. "A forger and a contortionist make a bad
customer to reckon with."

CHAPTER XXI

THE RIDDLE ANSWERED

There was absolute stillness in the room; then a babble of
exclamations broke out as Sylvester, his expression of dumb surprise
giving place to one of fury, struggled to free himself from the
detective's firm grip.

"You cannot escape, Sylvester," declared Kent, observing his efforts.
"Your carelessness in using your peculiar gift of penmanship in
copying Barbara McIntyre's signature in this memorandum of her visit
here" - Kent held up a sheet torn from his pad, "gave me the first
clew. These, the second," he showed several pieces of blotting
paper freshly used. "See, in the mirror here is reflected the
impression from your clever imitations of the handwritings of
Barbara, Colonel McIntyre, and Mrs. Brewster."

They crowded about Kent, all but Ferguson and his prisoner, who had
subsided in his chair with what the detective concluded was
dangerous quietude.

"My next step, now that suspicion was directed against Sylvester,
was to make personal inquiries regarding him," went on Kent. "Judge
Hildebrand, who had just returned to Washington, said that he first
met Sylvester at a circus sideshow where he gave exhibitions as a
contortionist. One of his special stunts was to slip out of
handcuffs and ropes."

"So that explains last night," Ferguson grinned. "You'll not do it
again, Sylvester," and he shook an admonitory finger at the
erstwhile clerk.

"Judge Hildebrand became interested in Sylvester, found he was handy
with his pen and tired of the show business, and gave him an opening
by engaging him as confidential clerk," continued Kent. "You will
recall, Colonel McIntyre, that you sent business papers in your
handwriting and that of your daughters to Judge Hildebrand's office
to be typed by his staff. That is how Sylvester became so well
acquainted with your writing and was able to forge a letter to the
bank treasurer directing him to turn over your negotiable securities
to Jimmie Turnbull."

"But how in the world did Sylvester induce Jimmie to present the
forged letter?" asked Colonel McIntyre.

Kent turned to the sullen prisoner. "Answer that question,
Sylvester," he commanded, and the man roused himself from his
dejected attitude.

"Anything in it for me if I do?" he asked with a cunning leer.

"That's for the courts to decide," declared Kent.

The man thought a minute. "I'll take a chance," he said finally.
"But that I waited for an opportunity to get my swag out of this
safe, I wouldn't have been caught - curse you!" and he scowled at
Kent.

"Cut that out," admonished Ferguson with a none too gentle dig in
the ribs, and Sylvester continued his statement.

"I overheard Colonel McIntyre tell Judge Hildebrand about his
securities and their present value, and the next day he came to
consult the judge about engaging a secretary. I fixed up
credentials and went to Mr. Turnbull; he believed my story that I
was the colonel's new secretary and got the securities."
Sylvester paused. "If I'd rested content with that success I'd
been all right," he added. "But I was in too great a hurry and
forged Mr. Clymer's signature to a check for five thousand dollars
and presented it at the Metropolis Trust Company. As luck would
have it Mr. Turnbull cashed it for me himself."

"But didn't he suspect you?" exclaimed Clymer. He had gradually
recovered from the shock of Rochester's charges on his arrival,
and was listening with keen attention to Sylvester's confession.

"No. I made the check payable to Colonel McIntyre and forged his
endorsement," Sylvester spoke with an air of pride, and he smiled
in malicious enjoyment as, catching his eye, Barbara shrank back
and sheltered herself behind Kent. "Mr. Turnbull accepted the
check; later something must have aroused his suspicions, and I
found when he questioned me that he believed Colonel McIntyre had
forged the check."

"Good heavens! You let him think that?" gasped McIntyre; then
wrath gained the mastery. "You scoundrel!"

"Oh, I encouraged him to think it," Sylvester grinned again. "You
must have handed Mr. Turnbull a raw deal; he was so ready to think
evil of you."

"That is a lie!" exclaimed Helen hotly. "When I went downstairs to
investigate the noise I heard in the library, father, Jimmie told
me who he was to quiet my fright. He showed me a letter, which he
had just found on your desk in the library, confessing that you had
forged Mr. Clymer's name on the check, and begging Jimmie to conceal
your crime and save Barbara and me from the shame of having you
exposed as a forger and a thief."

"I never wrote such a letter!" shouted McIntyre, deeply incensed.

"No, it was a clever plan," acknowledged Sylvester. "On one of my
trips to your house, Colonel McIntyre, I secured wax impressions of
your front door lock. I went to your house Monday night and put
the letter among your papers just before Turnbull was admitted by
your fool of a butler."

"And you gave Jimmie Turnbull a dose of poison - charged Kent, but
Sylvester, his lips gone dry, raised his manacled hands in protest.

"I did not poison him," he cried. "I waited just to see if Turnbull
got the letter and to find out what he'd do with the securities,
which he had refused to turn over to me. After he had read the
forged letter Mr. Turnbull acted sort of faint and went out in the
hall. I could just see him put down a box on the hall table and
lean against the wall. Then he went into the dining room and came
back a second later carrying a glass of water, and I saw him take
up and open a small box and toss some white pills into his mouth;
then he took a good drink, and, picking up a handkerchief lying on
the table, he went back into the library."

There was silence as Sylvester's callous recital of the tragedy
ended. Helen, her eyes tearless and dark with suffering, sank
slowly back in her chair and rested her head against Barbara's
sympathetic shoulder.

"So Turnbull's death was accidental after all," exclaimed Ferguson.
"Or was it suicide?"

"Accident," answered Kent. "I found some nitro-glycerine pills in
the umbrella stand by the hall table." Colonel McIntyre nodded.
"Evidently Turnbull put down his pill box before getting a glass of
water, and in his attack of giddiness accidentally opened your box
of aconitine pills, Mrs. Brewster, instead of his own, and swallowed
a fatal dose, thinking they were nitroglycerine."

Mrs. Brewster bowed her head in agreement. That must have been it,"
she said. "However, I saw Colonel McIntyre tear off the paper
wrapping and open my package of pills just before dinner, and when
I heard that Jimmie had died from aconitine I - I -" she stammered
and stopped short.

"You suspected I had murdered him?" asked McIntyre softly.

"Yes," she looked appealingly at him. "Forgive me, I should never
have suspected you, but the pills, box and all, were missing the
next morning from the hall table."

"Turnbull must have thrown the box into the umbrella stand,"
explained Kent. "That was where I found it. Did you get the
securities, Sylvester?" turning to the prisoner.

"No," sullenly. "She did," and a jerk of his thumb indicated Helen
McIntyre.

Helen raised her head and addressed them slowly.

"Jimmie and I expected Barbara to come in at any moment, and he
started to leave when we saw you coming downstairs," she turned to
Mrs. Brewster. "Jimmie declared that if we were found together I
might be compromised. He couldn't explain his presence without
exposing father - we both thought you a forger, father," she
interpolated, as McIntyre took her hand and pressed it
understandingly. "So he insisted that I should treat him like an
ordinary burglar - we had both forgotten Barbara's silly wager in
our horror about father. Jimmie didn't dare take the securities
and father's confession with him for fear he'd be searched at the
police station, and the scandal would have come out then."

"True," agreed McIntyre. "Go on, Helen."

"So Jimmie thrust the securities and father's confession into an
envelope and sealed it with red wax, using Barbara's seal,"
explained Helen. "He hadn't time to write an address or message
on it, but he told me to return the envelope to him later in the
day or give it to Philip Rochester and ask his aid. I brought it
here on Wednesday morning and with Harry's permission put the
envelope in the safe."

"I tried to get it from there," volunteered Sylvester, "for I
overheard Turnbull's plan, before I left by the reception room
window."

"So it was you and not Mr. Rochester whom I saw steal out of the
window," exclaimed Mrs. Brewster.

"It's not the first time I've been mistaken for him," exclaimed
Sylvester calmly.

Kent started and, gazing at Rochester and the clerk, saw there
was a general resemblance in coloring and physique.

"Did you present the checks to McDonald at the Metropolis Trust
Company bearing Rochester's and my forged signatures?" he asked.

"I did," acknowledged Sylvester. "Mr. Rochester's wardrobe came
in very handy for deceiving the casual glance. You know, 'clothes
make the man, and want of it the fellow.'"

Kent looked up quickly, struck by an idea.

"Sylvester, did you steal the envelope containing the securities
from me at the Club de Vingt?" he asked.

Sylvester shook his head. "No, but she did," pointing to Mrs.
Brewster. "It's no lie," as McIntyre uttered an indignant denial.
"When Ferguson left here carrying off the securities from under my
nose almost - I had spent the whole day trying to learn the safe's
combination; I trailed him to the Club de Vingt, and heard the
head waiter tell him you, Mr. Kent, were sitting in the small
smoking porch, so I climbed up the trumpet vine; oh, it was strong
and no climb for one who has done the feats I have in the circus.
I reached the porch just in time to see Mrs. Brewster drop her fan,
and when the men bent to pick it up she 'lifted' the envelope and
concealed it under her scarf."

"Don't," Mrs. Brewster laid a detaining hand on McIntyre as he
stepped forward. "The man is telling the truth. I thought it was
the envelope you gave me earlier in the evening - it was unaddressed
and the red seal was the same."

"Just a moment," interrupted Kent. "What did you do with the
envelope?"

"When I returned home I dropped it inside one of the Venetian
caskets," Mrs. Brewster replied. "No one ever went near them, and I
thought it would be safe there. You see, I was puzzled to know how
it had disappeared from the desk in the reception room, where I had
left it in one of the pigeon holes, intending to take it later to
my room."

"I took the envelope - your envelope - out of the desk," confessed
McIntyre. "I would have spoken of it, Margaret, but was hurt that
you had left our marriage certificate lying around so carelessly."

"Your what?" Barbara sprang up, astounded.

"Our marriage certificate," repeated McIntyre firmly. "Margaret
and I were married last week in Baltimore. We would have told you,
Helen, but your peculiar conduct and Barbara's, so angered me that
I forbade Margaret to take you into our confidence."

"Father!" Barbara got no further, for Helen had risen. She spoke
with quiet dignity.

"You forget, father, that since Monday night we have thought you
a forger and, worse, a murderer," her voice faltered. "In our
effort to guard you we have become estranged. Margaret"- she held
out her hand with an affectionate gesture and with a sob her
step-mother kissed her.

"How did this envelope get back inside our safe?" asked Kent a
moment later, picking it up and displaying the red seal, intact
save for the broken corner.

"I went downstairs about midnight or a little later and into the
library," confessed Helen. "What was my surprise and terror to see
Grimes holding the envelope. To me it meant father's exposure as a
forger. I had a revolver in my hand and struck before I thought.
Then I must temporarily have lost my reason. It was only my thought
to save father that lent me courage and strength to thrust Grimes
inside the casket where Babs and I used to hide. I then returned
to my room, and was just coming downstairs again after secreting the
envelope, to release Grimes and get medical assistance if need be,
when Margaret's screams aroused the household."

McIntyre interrupted his daughter with a hasty gesture, and
addressed his wife. "When Detective Ferguson questioned me as to
your reason for being in the library, Margaret, I stated you had
gone down to get a book left lying on the Venetian casket," he
said. "I waited for you to volunteer an explanation of your
presence there, but you never made any."

"I went down to get our marriage certificate." Margaret forgot the
presence of others and spoke only to him, the love-light in her eyes
pleading against the censure she dreaded, as she made her brief
confession. "Mr. Clymer sent me a note, inclosing a canceled check,
stating the bank officials had decided my signature was a forgery.
The check was drawn to Barbara, and on examining it I noticed the
peculiar formation of the letter 'B'; it is characteristic of your
handwriting and Helen's." She paused, and added:

"I was at a loss what to think. I knew you and Helen wrote alike;
Helen's extraordinary behavior to me led me to believe that perhaps
she had been short of funds, and forged my name to a check in
desperation. Then I remembered seeing you, Charles, open the box
containing my aconitine pills, the box's disappearance, and Jimmie's
death from that poison" - she raised her hands in an expressive
gesture. "Although my reason told me that you might be guilty, my
loyalty and love refuted the accusation."

"Margaret!" McIntyre's voice shook with emotion; then controlling
himself he turned to Sylvester. "I presume this check was some more
of your deviltry?"

Helen answered for the clerk. Removing a soiled paper from her bag
she laid it on Kent's desk. "This note was handed to me by Grimes,"
she explained. "It reads: 'Helen, please cash this check and give
money to Mrs. Brewster's dressmaker. Father.' I followed the
instructions."

"And gave the money to my sister," Sylvester chuckled at their
surprise. "My sister was taught in a French convent, and she is
an excellent seamstress, when she isn't drunk, as Mrs. McIntyre
knows."

"See here, Sylvester," Clymer broke his long silence. "You were in
the police court on a charge of assault and battery brought by your
wife on Tuesday morning, and you were in the prisoner's cage at the
moment Turnbull died. How then was it possible for you to be at the
McIntyre's at midnight on Monday?"

"I was out on bail and appeared in the courtroom just in time for my
trial," Sylvester explained. "I did not have to sit in the cage, but
recognizing Turnbull I went there to be with him."

Kent placed the forged check bearing Margaret Brewster's signature
on the desk. "I take it this check is your work, Sylvester," he
said. "You reaped the benefit by having the money paid to your
sister. Did you also have the fake telegram delivered to me stating
Mr. Rochester was in Cleveland?"

"I faked that," broke in Rochester, before the clerk could make a
disclaimer. "I thought it best to disappear for a few days down in
Virginia, where I could think things over in peace."

"So it was you, Sylvester, and not Mr. Rochester whom I encountered
in his apartment," exclaimed Kent. "How did you get in the
apartment?"

"From the fire-escape and along the window ledge to the bathroom
window." Sylvester hitched his shoulders. "It was nothing for a
man of my agility."

Ferguson eyed him with doubtful respect.

"You have courage," he admitted grudgingly. "Come, we must get to
Headquarters," and he aided Sylvester to his feet, but once standing,
Sylvester refused to move. Instead he turned to Helen.

"What was that you passed to Mr. Rochester in the police court and
he later gave to Mr. Turnbull?" he asked. "Oh, don't deny it, I
saw you palm a note, Mr. Rochester, from the young lady."

"There is nothing now to conceal," declared Helen. "After O'Ryan
and Jimmie left the house for the police station I grew fearful that
Jimmie might over-tax his strength in carrying out the farce of his
arrest. So as soon as I could I telephoned to Philip to meet me at
the police court and to bring some amyl nitrite capsules with him."

"And the note, Sylvester, which you saw Miss McIntyre give me in
court," concluded Rochester, as Helen paused, "told me to hand the
capsules to the burglar and to defend him in court. I did both,
although badly puzzled by the request." Rochester hesitated. "I
carried out your wishes, Helen, without question; but when the
burglar's identity was revealed, I jumped to the conclusion that
you had used me as an instrument to kill him, for I knew something
of the effects of amyl nitrite."

"Great Heavens!" exclaimed Helen, aghast.

Rochester looked at her and bit his lip; he knew of her affection
for Jimmie and her attachment to his memory, but he could not kill
the hope that when Time had healed the loss, his devotion might
some day win her for his own.

"I did you great injustice," he admitted humbly. "But I was
fearfully shocked by the scene. I strove to divert suspicion by
insisting that Jimmie died from angina pectoris, and then you came,
Helen, and demanded an autopsy.

"I had to," Helen broke in. "I could not believe that Jimmie's
death was due to natural causes," her voice quivered. "He had been
so loyal - so faithful - I could not be less true to him, even if,
as I feared, my own dear father was guilty of the crime.

Kent turned and faced Sylvester, who had made a few shuffling steps
toward the door.

"You have done incalculable harm by your criminal acts," he said
sternly. "But for your lying and trickery Jimmie Turnbull would be
alive to-day. I trust the Court will give you the maximum sentence."

Sylvester eyed him insolently. "I've had a run for my money, and
I stood to win large sums if things had only gone right," he
announced; then addressed Helen directly. "What did you do with
the securities?"

"I put the envelope back in the open safe when I was here early
this afternoon," she explained.

An oath ripped from Sylvester. "I mistook you for your sister,"
he snarled. "Had I known it was you, I'd have wrung the securities
from you."

Helen stared at his suddenly contorted face. "Ah, you are the man
who looked in at the window of the reception room yesterday morning
when I was talking to Mr. Kent," she cried. "I recognize you now."

He continued to glare at her. "I also sent you a note by your
sister outside the Caf St. Marks to secrete the letter 'B'," his
voice rose almost into a shout in his ungovernable rage. "I heard
Turnbull tell you to take the envelope to Rochester, and I banked
on your bringing it here or to his apartment. D-mn you! You've
thwarted me at every turn."

Rochester's powerful hand was clapped across his mouth with such
force that the clerk staggered against Ferguson.

"Here you, out you go." The detective shoved the struggling man
toward the door leading into the corridor and Clymer sprang to his
assistance; a second later Rochester closed the door on their
receding figures and found Helen standing by his elbow.

"I must go," she said, turning back to look at her father and his
bride.

"Wait a minute." Kent held up an envelope with its fateful red seal.
"This was delivered empty at Rochester's apartment last night - it
is addressed to him. Who wrote it?"

"I did," exclaimed Mrs. McIntyre. "I felt I must consult either
you, Mr. Kent, or Mr. Rochester, so I sent the note to his apartment,
but the messenger boy hurried me, and it was not until hours later
that I found the note lying on the desk in the reception room and
realized I had sent an empty envelope."

"I see." Kent held up another envelope, the red seal broken at the
corner. "This is yours, Helen."

Helen hesitated perceptibly before taking the envelope and tearing
it open. She handed the securities to her father.

"Here is father's forged confession," she said as she took the
remaining paper from the envelope.

"It is a marvelous imitation of my handwriting," declared McIntyre,
looking at it carefully, then tearing it into tiny bits he flung
them into the scrap-basket and pocketed the securities.

"And to think that I aided Sylvester's plot to gain the securities
by engaging him as our clerk," groaned Rochester.

"It was clever of him to seek employment here," agreed Kent. "But
like many crooks he over-reached himself through over-confidence.
Must you go, Colonel McIntyre?"

"Yes." McIntyre walked over to Helen.

"My dear little girl," he began and his voice was husky with
feeling. "How can I show my appreciation of your loyalty to me?"

"By being kind to Harry and Barbara." Helen smiled bravely,
although her lips were trembling and for a moment she could not
trust herself to speak. "My romance is over; Barbara's is just
beginning. And, father, will you and Margaret come home with me
- I am so lonely;" then turning blindly away she fairly ran out of
the office.

"Go with her," said Rochester, a trifle unsteadily. "It has been
a terrible ordeal; God help her to forget!" His voice failed and
he swept his hand across his eyes as he held open the door into
the corridor and followed McIntyre and his wife outside.

Kent turned impulsively to Barbara, and his arms closed around her
as she raised her eyes to meet his, for she knew that the promise
they spoke would be loyally fulfilled, and that her haven of love
and happiness was reached at last.

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