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The Silent Bullet by Arthur B. Reeve

Part 5 out of 6

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the castor-oil bean. Professor Ehrlich states that one gram of
the pure poison will kill 1,500,000 guinea pigs. Ricin was lately
isolated by Professor Robert, of Rostock, but is seldom found
except in an impure state, though still very deadly. It surpasses
strychnine, prussic acid, and other commonly known drugs. I
congratulate you and yours on escaping and shall of course
respect your wishes absolutely regarding keeping secret this
attempt on your life. Believe me,
"Very sincerely yours,

As Kennedy handed the letter back, he remarked significantly: "I
can see very readily why you don't care to have the police figure
in your case. It has got quite beyond ordinary police methods."

"And to-morrow, too, they are going to give another sign of their
power," groaned Gennaro, sinking into the chair before his
untasted food.

"You say you have left your hotel?" inquired Kennedy.

"Yes. My wife insisted that we would be more safely guarded at
the residence of her father, the banker. But we are afraid even
there since the poison attempt. So I have come here secretly to
Luigi, my old friend Luigi, who is preparing food for us, and in
a few minutes one of Cesare's automobiles will be here, and I
will take the food up to her--sparing no expense or trouble. She
is heart-broken. It will kill her, Professor Kennedy, if anything
happens to our little Adelina.

"Ah, sir, I am not poor myself. A month's salary at the
opera-house, that is what they ask of me. Gladly would I give it,
ten thousand dollars--all, if they asked it, of my contract with
Herr Schleppencour, the director. But the police--bah!--they are
all for catching the villains. What good will it do me if they
catch them and my little Adelina is returned to me dead? It is
all very well for the Anglo-Saxon to talk of justice and the law,
but I am--what you call it?--an emotional Latin. I want my little
daughter--and at any cost. Catch the villains afterward--yes. I
will pay double then to catch them so that they cannot blackmail
me again. Only first I want my daughter back."

"And your father-in-law?"

"My father-in-law, he has been among you long enough to be one of
you. He has fought them. He has put up a sign in his
banking-house, 'No money paid on threats.' But I say it is
foolish. I do not know America as well as he, but I know this:
the police never succeed-- the ransom is paid without their
knowledge, and they very often take the credit. I say, pay first,
then I will swear a righteous vendetta --I will bring the dogs to
justice with the money yet on them. Only show me how, show me

"First of all," replied 'Kennedy, "I want you to answer one
question, truthfully, without reservation, as to a friend. I am
your friend, believe me. Is there any person, a relative or
acquaintance of yourself or your wife or your father-in-law, whom
you even have reason to suspect of being capable of extorting
money from you in this way? I needn't say that that is the
experience of the district attorney's office in the large
majority of cases of this so-called Black Hand."

"No," replied the tenor without hesitation: "I know that, and I
have thought about it. No, I can think of no one. I know you
Americans often speak of the Black Hand as a myth coined
originally by a newspaper writer. Perhaps it has no organisation.
But, Professor Kennedy, to me it is no myth. What if the real
Black Hand is any gang of criminals who choose to use that
convenient name to extort money? Is it the less real? My daughter
is gone!"

"Exactly," agreed Kennedy. "It is not a theory that confronts
you. It is a hard, cold fact. I understand that perfectly. What
is the address of this Albano's?"

Luigi mentioned a number on Mulberry Street, and Kennedy made a
note of it.

"It is a gambling saloon," explained Luigi. Albano is a
Neapolitan, a Camorrista, one of my countrymen of whom I am
thoroughly ashamed, Professor Kennedy."

"Do you think this Albano had anything to do with the letter?"

Luigi shrugged his shoulders.

Just then a big limousine was beard outside. Luigi picked up a
huge hamper that was placed in a corner of the room and, followed
closely by Signor Gennaro, hurried down to it. As the tenor left
us he grasped our hands in each of his.

"I have an idea in my mind," said Craig simply. "I will try to
think it out in detail to-night. Where can I find you to-morrow?"

"Come to me at the opera-house in the afternoon, or if you want
me sooner at Mr. Cesare's residence. Good night, and a thousand
thanks to you, Professor Kennedy, and to you, also, Mr. Jameson.
I trust you absolutely because Luigi trusts you."

We sat in the little dining-room until we heard the door of the
limousine bang shut and the car shoot off with the rattle of the
changing gears.

"One more question, Luigi," said Craig as the door opened again.
"I have never been on that block in Mulberry Street where this
Albano's is. Do you happen to know any of the shopkeepers on it
or near it?"

"I have a cousin who has a drug-store on the corner below
Albano's, on the same side of the street."

"Good! Do you think he would let me use his store for a few
minutes Saturday night--of course without any risk to himself!"

"I think I could arrange it."

"Very well. Then to-morrow, say at nine in the morning, I will
stop here, and we will all go over to see him. Good night, Luigi,
and many, thanks for thinking of me in connection with this case.
I've enjoyed Signor Gennaro's singing often enough at the opera
to want to render him this service, and I'm only too glad to be
able to be of service to all honest Italians; that is, if I
succeed in carrying out a plan I have in mind."

A little before nine the following day Kennedy and I dropped into
Luigi's again. Kennedy was carrying a suit-case which he had
taken over from his laboratory to our rooms the night before.
Luigi was waiting for us, and without losing a minute we sallied

By means of the tortuous twists of streets in old Greenwich
village we came out at last on Bleecker Street and began walking
east amid the hurly-burly of races of lower New York. We had not
quite reached Mulberry Street when our attention was attracted by
a large crowd on one of the busy corners, held back by a cordon
of police who were endeavouring to keep the people moving with
that burly good nature which the six-foot Irish policeman
displays toward the five-foot burden-bearers of southern and
eastern Europe who throng New York.

Apparently, we saw, as we edged up into the front of the crowd,
here was a building whose whole front had literally been torn off
and wrecked. The thick plate-glass of the windows was smashed to
a mass of greenish splinters on the sidewalk, while the windows
of the upper floors and for several houses down the block in
either street were likewise broken. Some thick iron bars which
had formerly protected the windows were now bent and twisted. A
huge hole yawned in the floor inside the doorway, and peering in
we could see the desks and chairs a tangled mass of kindling.

"What's the matter" I inquired of an officer near me, displaying
my reporter's fire-line badge, more for its moral effect than in
the hope of getting any real information in these days of
enforced silence toward the press.

"Black Hand bomb," was the laconic reply.

"Whew!" I whistled. "Anyone hurt?"

"They don't usually kill anyone, do they?" asked the officer by
way of reply to test my acquaintance with such things.

"No," I admitted. "They destroy more property than lives. But did
they get anyone this time? This must have been a thoroughly
overloaded bomb, I should judge by the looks of things."

"Came pretty close to it. The bank hadn't any more than opened
when, bang! went this gaspipe-and-dynamite thing. Crowd collected
before the smoke had fairly cleared. Man who owns the bank was
hurt, but not badly. Now come, beat it down to headquarters if
you want to find out any more.--You'll find it printed on the
pink slips--the 'squeal book'--by this time. 'Gainst the rules
for me to talk," he added with a good-natured grin, then to the
crowd: "G'wan, now. You're blockin' traffic. Keep movin'."

I turned to Craig and Luigi. Their eyes were riveted on the big
gilt sign, half broken, and all askew overhead. It read:



"This is the reminder so that Gennaro and his father-in-law will
not forget," I gasped.

"Yes," added Craig, pulling us away, "and Cesare himself is
wounded, too. Perhaps that was for putting up the notice refusing
to pay. Perhaps not. It's a queer case--they usually set the
bombs off at night when no one is around. There must be more back
of this than merely to scare Gennaro. It looks to me as if they
were after Casare, too, first by poison, then by dynamite."

We shouldered our way out through the crowd and went on until we
came to Mulberry Street, pulsing with life. Down we went past the
little shops, dodging the children, and making way for women with
huge bundles of sweatshop clothing accurately balanced on their
heads or hugged up under their capacious capes. Here was just one
little colony of the hundreds of thousands of Italians--a
population larger than the Italian population of Rome--of whose
life the rest of New York knew and cared nothing.

At last we came to Albano's little wine-shop, a dark, evil,
malodorous place on the street level of a five-story, alleged
"new-law" tenement. Without hesitation Kennedy entered, and we
followed, acting the part of a slumming party. There were a few
customers at this early hour, men out of employment and an
inoffensive-looking lot, though of course they eyed us sharply.
Albano himself proved to be a greasy, low-browed fellow who had a
sort of cunning look. I could well imagine such a fellow
spreading terror in the hearts of simple folk by merely pressing
both temples with his thumbs and drawing his long bony
fore-finger under his throat-the so-called Black Hand sign that
has shut up many a witness in the middle of his testimony even in
open court.

We pushed through to the low-ceilinged back room, which was
empty, and sat down at a table. Over a bottle of Albano's famous
California "red ink" we sat silently. Kennedy was making a mental
note of the place. In the middle of the ceiling was a single
gas-burner with a big reflector over, it. In the back wall of
the room was a horizontal oblong window, barred, and with a sash
that opened like a transom. The tables were dirty and the chairs
rickety. The walls were bare and unfinished, with beams innocent
of decoration. Altogether it was as unprepossessing a place as I
had ever seen.

Apparently satisfied with his scrutiny, Kennedy got up to go,
complimenting the proprietor on his wine. I could see that
Kennedy had made up his mind as to his course of action.

"How sordid crime really is," he remarked as we walked on down
the street. "Look at that place of Albano's. I defy even the
police news reporter on the Star to find any glamour in that."

Our next stop was at the corner at the little store kept by the
cousin of Luigi, who conducted us back of the partition where
prescriptions were compounded, and found us chairs.

A hurried explanation from Luigi brought a cloud to the open face
of the druggist, as if he hesitated to lay himself and his little
fortune open to the blackmailers. Kennedy saw it and interrupted.

"All that I wish to do," he said, "is to put in a little
instrument here and use it to-night for a few minutes. Indeed,
there will be no risk to you, Vincenzo. Secrecy is what I desire,
and no one will ever know about it."

Vincenzo was at length convinced, and Craig opened his suit-case.
There was little in it except several coils of insulated wire;
some tools, a couple of packages wrapped up, and a couple of
pairs of overalls. In a moment Kennedy had donned overalls and
was smearing dirt and grease over his face and hands. Under his
direction I did the same.

Taking the bag of tools, the wire, and one of the small packages,
we went out on the street and then up through the dark and
ill-ventilated hall of the tenement. Half-way up a woman stopped
us suspiciously.

"Telephone company," said Craig curtly. "Here's permission from
the owner of the house to string wires across the roof."

He pulled an old letter out of his pocket, but as it was too dark
to read even if the woman had cared to do so, we went on up as he
had expected, unmolested. At last we came to the roof, where
there were some children at play a couple of houses down from us.

Kennedy began by dropping two strands of wire down to the ground
in the back yard behind Vincenzo's shop. Then he proceeded to lay
two wires along the edge of the roof.

We had worked only a little while when the children began to
collect. However, Kennedy kept right on until we reached the
tenement next to that in which Albano's shop was.

"Walter," he whispered, "just get the children away for a minute

"Look here, you kids," I yelled, "some of you will fall off if
you get so close to the edge of the roof. Keep back."

It had no effect. Apparently they looked not a bit frightened at
the dizzy mass of clothes-lines below us.

"Say, is there a candy-store on this block" I asked in

"Yes, sir," came the chorus.

"Who'll go down and get me a bottle of ginger ale?" I asked.

A chorus of voices and glittering eyes was the answer. They all
would. I took a half-dollar from my pocket and gave it to the

"All right now, hustle along, and divide the change."

With the scamper of many feet they were gone, and we were alone.
Kennedy had now reached Albano's, and as soon as the last head
had disappeared below the scuttle of the roof he dropped two long
strands down into the back yard, as he had done at Vincenzo's.

I started to go back, but he stopped me.

"Oh, that will never do," he said. "The kids will see that the
wires end here. I must carry them on several houses farther as a
blind and trust to luck that they don't see the wires leading
down below."

We were several houses down, still putting up wires when the
crowd came shouting back, sticky with cheap trust-made candy and
black with East Side chocolate. We opened the ginger ale and
forced ourselves to drink it so as to excite no suspicion, then a
few minutes later descended the stairs of the tenement, coming
out just above Albano's.

I was wondering how Kennedy was going to get into Albano's again
without exciting suspicion. He solved it neatly.

"Now, Walter, do you think you could stand another dip into that
red ink of Albano's !"

I said I might in the interests of science and justice--not

"Well, your face is sufficiently dirty," he commented, "so that
with the overalls you don't look very much as you did the first
time you went in. I don't think they will recognise you. Do I
look pretty good?"

"You look like a coal-heaver out of a job," I said. "I can
scarcely restrain my admiration."

"All right. Then take this little glass bottle. Go into the back
room and order something cheap, in keeping with your looks. Then
when you are all alone break the bottle. It is full of gas
drippings. Your nose will dictate what to do neat. Just tell the
proprietor you saw the gas company's wagon on the next block and
come up here and tell me."

I entered. There was a sinister-looking man, with a sort of
unscrupulous intelligence, writing at a table. As he wrote and
puffed at his cigar, I noticed a scar on his face, a deep furrow
running from the lobe of his ear to his mouth. That, I knew, was
a brand set upon him by the Camorra. I sat and smoked and sipped
slowly for several minutes, cursing him inwardly more for his
presence than for his evident look of the "mala vita." At last he
went out to ask the barkeeper for a stamp.

Quickly I tiptoed over to another corner of the room and ground
the little bottle under my heel. Then I resumed my seat. The
odour that pervaded the room was sickening.

The sinister-looking man with the scar came in again and sniffed.
I sniffed. Then the proprietor came in and sniffed.

"Say," I said in the toughest voice I could assume, "you got a
leak. Wait. I seen the gas company wagon on the next block when I
came in. I'll get the man."

I dashed out and hurried up the street to the place where Kennedy
was waiting impatiently. Rattling his tools, he followed me with
apparent reluctance.

As he entered the wine-shop he snorted, after the manner of
gas-men, "Where's de leak?"

"You find-a da leak," grunted Albano. "What-a you get-a you pay
for? You want-a me do your work?"

"Well, half a dozen o' you wops get out o' here, that's all.
D'youse all wanter be blown ter pieces wid dem pipes and
cigarettes? Clear out," growled Kennedy.

They retreated precipitately, and Craig hastily opened his bag of

"Quick, Walter, shut the door and hold it," exclaimed Craig,
working rapidly. He unwrapped a little package and took out a
round, flat disc-like thing of black vulcanised rubber. Jumping
up on a table, he fixed it to the top of the reflector over the

"Can you see that from the floor, Walter?" he asked under his

"No," I replied, "not even when I know it is there."

Then he attached a couple of wires to it and led them across the
ceiling toward the window, concealing them carefully by sticking
them in the shadow of a beam. At the window he quickly attached
the wires to the two that were dangling down from the roof and
shoved them around out of sight.

"We'll have to trust that no one sees them," he said. "That's the
best I can do at such short notice. I never saw a room so bare as
this, anyway. There isn't another place I could put that thing
without its being seen."

We gathered up the broken glass of the gas drippings bottle, and
I opened the door.

"It's all right, now," said Craig, sauntering out before the bar.
"Only de next time you has anyt'ing de matter call de company up.
I ain't supposed to do dis wit'out orders, see?"

A moment later I followed, glad to get out of the oppressive
atmosphere, and joined him in the back of Vincenzo's drug-store,
where he was again at work. As there was no back window there, it
was quite a job to lead the wires around the outside from the
back yard and in at a side window. It was at last done, however,
without exciting suspicion, and Kennedy attached them to an
oblong box of weathered oak and a pair of specially constructed
dry batteries.

"Now," said Craig, as we washed off the stains of work and stowed
the overalls back in the suitcase, "that is done to my
satisfaction. I can tell Gennaro to go ahead safely now and meet
the Black-Handers."

>From Vincenzo's we walked over toward Centre Street, where
Kennedy and I left Luigi to return to his restaurant, with
instructions to be at Vincenzo's at half-past eleven that night.

We turned into the new police headquarters and went down the long
corridor to the Italian Bureau. Kennedy sent in his card to
Lieutenant Giuseppe in charge, and we were quickly admitted. The
lieutenant was a short, fullfaced, fleshy Italian, with lightish
hair and eyes that were apparently dull, until you suddenly
discovered that that was merely a cover to their really restless
way of taking in everything and fixing the impressions on his
mind, as if on a sensitive plate.

"I want to talk about the Gennaro case," began Craig. "I may add
that I have been rather closely associated with Inspector
O'Connor of the Central Office on a number of cases, so that I
think we can trust each other. Would you mind telling me what you
know about it if I promise you that I, too, have something to

The lieutenant leaned back and watched Kennedy closely without
seeming to do so. "When I was in Italy last year," he replied at
length, "I did a good deal of work in tracing up some Camorra
suspects. I had a tip about some of them to look up their records
--I needn't say where it came from, but it was a good one. Much
of the evidence against some of those fellows who are being tried
at Viterbo was gathered by the Carabinieri as a result of hints
that I was able to give them--clues that were furnished to me
here in America from the source I speak of. I suppose there is
really no need to conceal it, though. The original tip came from
a certain banker here in New York."

"I can guess who it was," nodded Craig.

"Then, as you know, this banker is a fighter. He is the man who
organised the White Hand--an organisation which is trying to rid
the Italian population of the Black Hand. His society had a lot
of evidence regarding former members of both the Camorra in
Naples and the Mafia in Sicily, as well as the Black Hand gangs
in New York, Chicago, and other cities. Well, Cesare, as you
know, is Gennaro's father-in-law.

"While I was in Naples looking up the record of a certain
criminal I heard of a peculiar murder committed some years ago.
There was an honest old music master who apparently lived the
quietest and most harmless of lives. But it became known that he
was supported by Cesare and had received handsome presents of
money from him. The old man was, as you may have guessed, the
first music teacher of Gennaro, the man who discovered him. One
might have been at a loss to see how he could have an enemy, but
there was one who coveted his small fortune. One day he was
stabbed and robbed. His murderer ran out into the street, crying
out that the poor man had been killed. Naturally a crowd rushed
up in a moment, for it was in the middle of the day. Before the
injured man could make it understood who had struck him the
assassin was down the street and lost in the maze of old Naples
where he well knew the houses of his friends who would hide him.
The man who is known to have committed that crime--Francesco
Paoli--escaped to New York. We are looking for him to-day. He is
a clever man, far above the average--son of a doctor in a town a
few miles from Naples, went to the university, was expelled for
some mad prank--in short, he was the black sheep of the family.
Of course over here he is too high-born to work with his hands on
a railroad or in a trench, and not educated enough to work at
anything else. So he has been preying on his more industrious
countrymen--a typical case of a man living by his wits with no
visible means of support.

"Now I don't mind telling you in strict confidence," continued
the lieutenant, "that it's my theory that old Cesare has seen
Paoli here, knew he was wanted for that murder of the old music
master, and gave me the tip to look up his record. At any rate
Paoli disappeared right after I returned from Italy, and we
haven't been able to locate him since. He must have found out in
some way that the tip to look him up had been given by the White
Hand. He had been a Camorrista, in Italy, and had many ways of
getting information here in America."

He paused, and balanced a piece of cardboard in his hand.

"It is my theory of this case that if we could locate this Paoli
we could solve the kidnapping of little Adelina Gennaro very
quickly. That's his picture."

Kennedy and I bent over to look at it, and I started in surprise.
It was my evil-looking friend with the scar on his cheek.

"Well," said Craig, quietly handing back the card, "whether or
not he is the man, I know where we can catch the kidnappers
to-night, Lieutenant."

It was Giuseppe's turn to show surprise now.

"With your assistance I'll get this man and the whole gang
to-night," explained Craig, rapidly sketching over his plan and
concealing just enough to make sure that no matter how anxious
the lieutenant was to get the credit he could not spoil the
affair by premature interference.

The final arrangement was that four of the best men of the squad
were to hide in a vacant store across from Vincenzo's early in
the evening, long before anyone was watching. The signal for them
to appear was to be the extinguishing of the lights behind the
coloured bottles in the druggist's window. A taxicab was to be
kept waiting at headquarters at the same time with three other
good men ready to start for a given address the moment the alarm
was given over the telephone.

We found Gennaro awaiting us with the greatest anxiety at the
opera-house. The bomb at Cesare's had been the last straw.
Gennaro had already drawn from his bank ten crisp
one-thousand-dollar bills, and already had a copy of Il Progresso
in which he had hidden the money between the sheets.

"Mr. Kennedy," he said, "I am going to meet them tonight. They
may kill me. See, I have provided myself with a pistol--I shall
fight, too, if necessary for my little Adelina. But if it is only
money they want, they shall have it."

"One thing I want to say," began Kennedy.

"No, no, no!" cried the tenor. "I will go--you shall not stop

"I don't wish to stop you," Craig reassured him. "But one thing
--do exactly as I tell you, and I swear not a hair of the child's
head will be injured and we will get the blackmailers, too."

"How?" eagerly asked Gennaro. "What do you want me to do?"

"All I want you to do is to go to Albano's at the appointed time.
Sit down in the back room. Get into conversation with them, and,
above all, Signor, as soon as you get the copy of the Bolletino
turn to the third page, pretend not to be able to read the
address. Ask the man to read it. Then repeat it after him.
Pretend to be overjoyed. Offer to set up wine for the whole
crowd. Just a few minutes, that is all I ask, and I will
guarantee that you will be the happiest man in New York

Gennaro's eyes filled with tears as he grasped Kennedy's hand.
"That is better than having the whole police force back of me,"
he said. "I shall never forget, never forget."

As we went out Kennedy remarked: "You can't blame them for
keeping their troubles to themselves. Here we send a police
officer over to Italy to look up the records of some of the worst
suspects. He loses his life. Another takes his place. Then after
he gets back he is set to work on the mere clerical routine of
translating them. One of his associates is reduced in rank. And
so what does it come to? Hundreds of records have become useless
because the three years within which the criminals could be
deported have elapsed with nothing done. Intelligent, isn't it? I
believe it has been established that all but about fifty of seven
hundred known Italian suspects are still at large, mostly in this
city. And the rest of the Italian population is guarded from them
by a squad of police in number scarcely one-thirtieth of the
number of known criminals. No, it's our fault if the Black Hand

We had been standing on the corner of Broadway, waiting for a

"Now, Walter, don't forget. Meet me at the Bleecker Street
station of the subway at eleven-thirty. I'm off to the
university. I have some very important experiments with
phosphorescent salts that I want to finish to-day."

"What has that to do with the case?" I asked mystified:

"Nothing," replied Craig. "I didn't say it had. At eleven-thirty,
don't forget. By George, though, that Paoli must be a clever
one--think of his knowing about ricin. I only heard of it myself
recently. Well, here's my car. Good-bye."

Craig swung aboard an Amsterdam Avenue car, leaving me to kill
eight nervous hours of my weekly day of rest from the Star.

They passed at length, and at precisely the appointed time
Kennedy and I met. With suppressed excitement, at least on my
part, we walked over to Vincenzo's. At night this section of the
city was indeed a black enigma. The lights in the shops where
olive oil, fruit, and other things were sold, were winking out
one by one; here and there strains of music floated out of
wine-shops, and little groups lingered on corners conversing in
animated sentences. We passed Albano's on the other side of the
street, being careful not to look at it too closely, for several
men were hanging idly about --pickets, apparently, with some
secret code that would instantly have spread far and wide the
news of any alarming action.

At the corner we crossed and looked in Vincenzo's window a
moment, casting a furtive glance across the street at the dark
empty store where the police must be hiding. Then we went in and
casually sauntered back of the partition. Luigi was there
already. There were several customers still in the store,
however, and therefore we had to sit in silence while Vincenzo
quickly finished a prescription and waited on the last one.

At last the doors were locked and the lights lowered, all except
those in the windows which were to serve as signals.

"Ten minutes to twelve," said Kennedy, placing the oblong box on
the table. "Gennaro will be going in soon. Let us try this
machine now and see if it works. If the wires have been cut since
we put them up this morning Gennaro will have to take his chances

Kennedy reached over and with a light movement of his forefinger
touched a switch.

Instantly a babel of voices filled the store, all talking at
once, rapidly and loudly. Here and there we could distinguish a
snatch of conversation, a word, a phrase, now and then even a
whole sentence above the rest. There was the clink of glasses. I
could hear the rattle of dice on a bare table, and an oath. A
cork popped. Somebody scratched a match.

We sat bewildered, looking at Kennedy for an explanation.

"Imagine that you are sitting at a table in Albano's back room,"
was all he said. "This is what you would be hearing. This is my
'electric ear'--in other words the dictograph, used, I am told,
by the Secret Service of the United States. Wait, in a moment you
will hear Gennaro come in. Luigi and Vincenzo, translate what you
hear. My knowledge of Italian is pretty rusty."

"Can they hear us?" whispered Luigi in an awe-struck whisper.

Craig laughed. "No, not yet. But I have only to touch this other
switch, and I could produce an effect in that room that would
rival the famous writing on Belshazzar's wall--only it would be a
voice from the wall instead of writing."

"They seem to be waiting for someone," said Vincenzo. "I heard
somebody say: 'He will be here in a few minutes. Now get out.'"

The babel of voices seemed to calm down as men withdrew from the
room. Only one or two were left.

"One of them says the child is all right. She has been left in
the back yard," translated Luigi.

"What yard? Did he say?" asked Kennedy.

"No; they just speak of it as the 'yard,'" replied Luigi.

"Jameson, go outside in the store to the telephone booth and call
up headquarters. Ask them if the automobile is ready, with the
men in it."

I rang up, and after a moment the police central answered that
everything was right.

"Then tell central to hold the line clear--we mustn't lose a
moment. Jameson, you stay in the booth. Vincenzo, you pretend to
be working around your window, but not in such a way as to
attract attention, for they have men watching the street very
carefully. What is it, Luigi?"

"Gennaro is coming. I just heard one of them say, 'Here he

Even from the booth I could hear the dictograph repeating the
conversation in the dingy, little back room of Albano's, down the

"He's ordering a bottle of red wine," murmured Luigi, dancing up
and down with excitement.

Vincenzo was so nervous that he knocked a bottle down in the
window, and I believe that my heartbeats were almost audible over
the telephone which I was holding, for the police operator called
me down for asking so many times if all was ready.

"There it is--the signal," cried Craig. "'A fine opera is "I
Pagliacci."' Now listen for the answer."

A moment elapsed, then, "Not without Gennaro," came a gruff voice
in Italian from the dictograph.

A silence ensued. It was tense.

"Wait, wait," said a voice which I recognised instantly as
Gennaro's. "I cannot read this. What is this, 23 Prince Street?"

"No. 33. She has been left in the backyard," answered the voice.

"Jameson," called Craig, "tell them to drive straight to 33
Prince Street. They will find the girl in the back yard--quick,
before the Black-Handers have a chance to go back on their word."

I fairly shouted my orders to the police headquarters. "They're
off," came back the answer, and I hung up the receiver.

"What was that?" Craig was asking of Luigii. "I didn't catch it.
What did they say?"

"That other voice said to Gennaro, 'Sit down while I count

"Sh! he's talking again."

"If it is a penny less than ten thousand or I find a mark on the
bills I'll call to Enrico, and your daughter will be spirited
away again," translated Luigi.

"Now, Gennaro is talking," said Craig. "Good--he is gaining time.
He is a trump. I can distinguish that all right. He's asking the
gruff voiced fellow if he will have another bottle of wine. He
says he will. Good. They must be at Prince Street now we'll give
them a few minutes more, not too much, for word will be back to
Albano's like wildfire, and they will get Gennaro after all. Ah,
they are drinking again. What was that, Luigi? The money is all
right, he says? Now, Vincenzo, out with the lights!"

A door banged open across the street, and four huge dark figures
darted out in the direction of Albano's.

With his finger Kennedy pulled down the other switch and shouted:
"Gennaro, this is Kennedy! To the street! Polizia! Polizia!"

A scuffle and a cry of surprise followed. A second voice,
apparently from the bar, shouted, "Out with the lights, out with
the lights!"

Bang! went a pistol, and another.

The dictograph, which had been all sound a moment before, was as
mute as a cigar-box.

"What's the matter?" I asked Kennedy, as he rushed past me.

"They have shot out the lights. My receiving instrument is
destroyed. Come on, Jameson; Vincenzo, stay back, if you don't
want to appear in this."

A short figure rushed by me, faster even than I could go. It was
the faithful, Luigi.

In front of Albano's an exciting fight was going on. Shots were
being fired wildly in the darkness, and heads were popping out of
tenement windows on all sides. As Kennedy and I flung ourselves
into the crowd we caught a glimpse of Gennaro, with blood
streaming from a cut on his shoulder, struggling with a policeman
while Luigi vainly was trying to interpose himself between them.
A man, held by another policeman, was urging the first officer
on. "That's the man," he was crying. "That's the kidnapper. I
caught him."

In a moment Kennedy was behind him. "Paoli, you lie. You are the
kidnapper. Seize him--he has the money on him. That other is
Gennaro himself."

The policeman released the tenor, and both of them seized Paoli.
The others were beating at the door, which was being frantically
barricaded inside.

Just then a taxicab came swinging up they street. Three men
jumped out and added their strength to those who were battering
down Albano's barricade.

Gennaro, with a cry, leaped into the taxicab. Over his shoulder I
could see a tangled mass of dark brown curls, and a childish
voice lisped "Why didn't you come for me, papa? The bad man told
me if I waited in the yard you would come for me. But if I cried
he said he would shoot me. And I waited, and waited--"

"There, there, Una; papa's going to take you straight home to

A crash followed as the door yielded, and the famous Paoli gang
was in the hands of the law.

XI. The Artificial Paradise

It was, I recall, at that period of the late unpleasantness in
the little Central American republic of Vespuccia, when things
looked darkest for American investors, that I hurried home one
evening to Kennedy, bursting with news.

By way of explanation, I may add that during the rubber boom
Kennedy had invested in stock of a rubber company in Vespuccia,
and that its value bad been shrinking for some time with that
elasticity which a rubber band shows when one party suddenly lets
go his end. Kennedy had been in danger of being snapped rather
hard by the recoil, and I knew he had put in an order with his
broker to sell and take his loss when a certain figure was
reached. My news was a first ray of light in an otherwise dark
situation, and I wanted to advise him to cancel the selling order
and stick for a rise.

Accordingly I hurried unceremoniously into our apartment with the
words on my lips before I had fairly closed the door. "What do
you think, Craig" I shouted. "It is rumoured that the
revolutionists have captured half a million dollars from the
government and are sending it to--" I stopped short. I had no
idea that Kennedy had a client, and a girl, too.

With a hastily mumbled apology I checked myself and backed out
toward my own room. I may as well confess that I did not retreat
very fast, however. Kennedy's client was not only a girl, but a
very pretty one, I found, as she turned her head quickly at my
sudden entrance and betray a lively interest at the mention of
the revolution. She was a Latin-American, and the Latin-American
type of feminine beauty is fascinating at least to me. I did not
retreat very fast.

As I hoped, Kennedy rose to the occasion. "Miss Guerrero," he
said, "let me introduce Mr. Jameson, who has helped me very much
in solving some of my most difficult cases. Miss Guerrero's
father, Walter, is the owner of a plantation which sells its
product to the company I am interested in."

She bowed graciously, but there was a moment of embarrassment
until Kennedy came to the rescue.

"I shall need Mr. Jameson in handling your case, Miss Guerrero,"
he explained. "Would it be presuming to ask you to repeat to him
briefly what you have already told me about the mysterious
disappearance of your father? Perhaps some additional details
will occur to you, things that you may consider trivial, but
which, I assure you, may be of the utmost importance."

She assented, and in a low, tremulous, musical voice bravely went
through her story.

"We come," she began, "my father and I--for my mother died when I
was a little girl--we come from the northern part of Vespuccia,
where foreign capitalists are much interested in the introduction
of a new rubber plant. I am an only child and have been the
constant companion of my father for years, ever since I could
ride a pony, going with him about our hacienda and on business
trips to Europe and the States.

"I may as well say at the start, Mr. Jameson, that although my
father is a large land-owner, he has very liberal political views
and is deeply in sympathy with the revolution that is now going
on in Vespuccia. In fact, we were forced to flee very early in
the trouble, and as there seemed to be more need of his services
here in New York than in any of the neighbouring countries, we
came here. So you see that if the revolution is not successful
his estate will probably be confiscated and we shall be
penniless. He is the agent --the head of the junta, I suppose you
would call it--here in New York."

"Engaged in purchasing arms and ammunition," put in Kennedy, as
she paused, "and seeing that they are shipped safely to New
Orleans as agricultural machinery, where another agent receives
them and attends to their safe transit across the Gulf."

She nodded and after a moment resumed

"There is quite a little colony of Vespuccians here in New York,
both revolutionists and government supporters. I suppose that
neither of you has any idea of the intriguing that is going on
under the peaceful surface right here in your own city. But there
is much of it, more than even I know or can tell you. Well, my
father lately has been acting very queerly. There is a group who
meet frequently at the home of a Senora Mendez--an insurrecto
group, of course. I do not go, for they are all much older people
than I. I know the senora well, but I prefer a different kind of
person. My friends are younger and perhaps more radical, more in
earnest about the future of Vespuccia.

"For some weeks it has seemed to me that this Senora Mendez has
had too much influence over my father. He does not seem like the
same man he used to be. Indeed, some of the junta who do not
frequent the house of the senora have remarked it. He seems
moody, works by starts, then will neglect his work entirely.
Often I see him with his eyes closed, apparently sitting quietly,
oblivious to the progress of the cause--the only cause now which
can restore us our estate.

"The other day we lost an entire shipment of arms--the Secret
Service captured them on the way from the warehouse on South
Street to the steamer which was to take them to New Orleans. Only
once before had it happened, when my father did not understand
all the things to conceal. Then he was frantic for a week. But
this time he seems not to care. Ah, senores," she said, dropping
her voice, "I fear there was some treachery there."

"Treachery?" I asked. "And have you any suspicions who might have
played informer?"

She hesitated. "I may as well tell you just what I suspect. I
fear that the hold of Senora Mendez is somehow or other concerned
with it all. I even have suspected that somehow she may be
working in the pay of the government that she is a vampire,
living on the secrets of the group who so trust her. I suspect
anything, everybody--that she is poisoning his mind, perhaps even
whispering into his ear some siren proposal of amnesty and his
estate again, if he will but do what she asks. My poor father--I
must save him from himself if it is necessary. Argument has no
effect with him. He merely answers that the senora is a talented
and accomplished woman, and laughs a vacant laugh when I hint to
him to beware. I hate her."

The fiery animosity of her dark eyes boded ill, I felt, for the
senora. But it flashed over me that perhaps, after all, the
senora was not a traitress, but had simply been scheming to win
the heart and hence the hacienda of the great land-owner, when he
came into possession of his estate if the revolution proved

"And finally," she concluded, keeping back the tears by an heroic
effort, "last night he left our apartment, promising to return
early in the evening. It is now twenty-four hours, and I have
heard not a word from him. It is the first time in my life that
we have ever been separated so long."

"And you have no idea where he could have gone?" asked Craig.

"Only what I have learned from Senor Torreon, another member of
the junta. Senor Torreon said this morning that he left the home
of Senora Mendez last night about ten o'clock in company with my
father. He says they parted at the subway, as they lived on
different branches of the road. Professor Kennedy," she added,
springing up and clasping her hands tightly in an appeal that was
irrestible, "you know what steps to take to find him. I trust all
to you--even the calling on the police, though I think it would
be best if we could get along without them. Find my father,
senores, and when we come into our own again you shall not regret
that you befriended a lonely girl in a strange city, surrounded
by intrigue and danger." There were tears in her eyes as she
stood swaying before us.

The tenseness of the appeal was broken by the sharp ringing of
the telephone bell. Kennedy quickly took down the receiver.

"Your maid wishes to speak to you," he said, handing the
telephone to her.

Her face brightened with that nervous hope that springs in the
human breast even in the blackest moments. "I told her if any
message came for me she might find me here," explained Miss
Guerrero. "Yes, Juanita, what is it--a message for me?"

My Spanish was not quite good enough to catch more than a word
here and there in the low conversation, but I could guess from
the haggard look which overspread her delicate face that the news
was not encouraging.

"Oh!" she cried, "this is terrible--terrible! What shall I do?
Why did I come here? I don't believe it. I don't believe it."

"Don't believe what, Miss Guerrero?" asked Kennedy reassuringly.
"Trust me."

"That he stole the money--oh, what am I saying? You must not look
for him--you must forget that I have been here. No, I don't
believe it."

"What money?" asked Kennedy, disregarding her appeal to drop the
case. "Remember, it may be better that we should know it now than
the police later. We will respect your confidence."

"The junta had been notified a few days ago, they say, that a
large sum--five hundred thousand silver dollars--had been
captured from the government and was on its way to New York to be
melted up as bullion at the sub-treasury," she answered,
repeating what she had heard over the telephone as if in a dream.
"Mr. Jameson referred to the rumour when he came in. I was
interested, for I did not know the public had heard of it yet.
The junta has just announced that the money is missing. As soon
as the ship docked in Brooklyn this morning an agent appeared
with the proper credentials from my father and a guard, and they
took the money away. It has not been heard of since--and they,
have no word from my father."

Her face was blanched as she realised what the situation was.
Here she was, setting people to run down her own father, if the
suspicions of the other members of the junta were to be credited.

"You--you do not think my father--stole the money?" she faltered
pitifully. "Say you do not think so."

"I think nothing yet," replied Kennedy in an even voice. "The
first thing to do is to find him--before the detectives of the
junta do so."

I felt a tinge--I must confess it--of jealousy as Kennedy stood
beside her, clasping her hand in both of his and gazing earnestly
down into the rich flush that now spread over her olive cheeks.

"Miss Guerrero," he said, "you may trust me implicitly. If your
father is alive I will do all that a man can do to find him. Let
me act--for the best. And," he added, wheeling quickly toward me,
"I know Mr. Jameson will do likewise."

I was pulled two ways at once. I believed in Miss Guerrero, and
yet the flight of her father and the removal of the bullion
swallowed up, as it were, instantly, without so much as a trace
in New York--looked very black for him. And yet, as she placed
her small hand tremblingly in mine to say good-bye, she won
another knight to go forth and fight her battle for her, nor do I
think that I am more than ordinarily susceptible, either.

When she had gone, I looked hopelessly at Kennedy. How could we
find a missing man in a city of four million people, find him
without the aid of the police--perhaps before the police could
themselves find him?

Kennedy seemed to appreciate my perplexity as though he read my
thoughts. "The first thing to do is to locate this Senor Torreon
from whom the first information came," he remarked as we left the
apartment. "Miss Guerrero told me that he might possibly be found
in an obscure boarding-house in the Bronx where several members
of the junta live. Let us try, anyway."

Fortune favoured us to the extent that we did find Torreon at the
address given. He made no effort to evade us, though I noted that
he was an unprepossessing looking man--undersized and a trifle
over-stout, with an eye that never met yours as you talked with
him. Whether it was that he was concealing something, or whether
he was merely fearful that we might after all be United States
Secret Service men, or whether it was simply a lack of command of
English, he was uncommonly uncommunicative at first. He repeated
sullenly the details of the disappearance of Guerrero, just as we
had already heard them.

"And you simply bade him good-bye as you got on a subway train
and that is the last you ever saw of him?" repeated Kennedy.

"Yes," he replied.

"Did he seem to be worried, to have anything on his mind, to act
queerly in any way?" asked Kennedy keenly.

"No," came the monosyllabic reply, and there was just that shade
of hesitation about it that made me wish we had the apparatus we
used in the Bond case for registering association time. Kennedy
noticed it, and purposely dropped the line of inquiry in order
not to excite Torreon's suspicion.

"I understand no word has been received from him at the
headquarters on South Street to-day,"

"None," replied Torreon sharply.

"And you have no idea where he could have gone after you left him
last night?"

"No, senor, none."

This answer was given, I thought, with suspicious quickness.

"You do not think that he could be concealed by Senora Mendez,
then?" asked Kennedy quietly.

The little man jumped forward with his eyes flashing. "No," he
hissed, checking this show of feeling as quickly as he could.

"Well, then," observed Kennedy, rising slowly, "I see nothing to
do but to notify the police and have a general alarm sent out."

The fire died in the eyes of Torreon. "Do not do that, Senor," he
exclaimed. "Wait at least one day more. Perhaps he will appear.
Perhaps he has only gone up to Bridgeport to see about some arms
and cartridges--who can tell? No, sir, do not call in the police,
I beg you--not yet. I myself will search for him. It may be I can
get some word, some clue. If I can I will notify Miss Guerrero

Kennedy turned suddenly. "Torreon," he flashed quickly, "what do
you suspect about that shipment of half a million silver dollars?
Where did it go after it left the wharf?"

Torreon kept his composure admirably. An enigma of a smile
flitted over his mobile features as he shrugged his shoulders.
"Ah," he said simply, "then you have heard that the money is
missing? Perhaps Guerrero has not gone to Bridgeport, after all!"

"On condition that I do not notify the police yet--will you take
us to visit Senora Mendez, and let us learn from her what she
knows of this strange case?"

Torreon was plainly cornered. He sat for a moment biting his
nails nervously and fidgeting in his chair. "It shall be as you
wish," he assented at length.

"We are to go," continued Kennedy, "merely as friends of yours,
you understand? I want to ask questions in my own way, and you
are not to--"

"Yes, yes," he agreed. "Wait. I will tell her we are coming," and
he reached for the telephone.

"No," interrupted Kennedy. "I prefer to go with you unexpected.
Put down the telephone. Otherwise, I may as well notify my friend
Inspector O'Connor of the Central Office and go up with him."

Torreon let the receiver fall back in its socket, and I caught
just a glimpse of the look of hate and suspicion which crossed
his face as he turned toward Kennedy. When he spoke it was as
suavely as if he himself were the one who had planned this little

"It shall be as you wish," he said, leading the way out to the
cross-town surface cars.

Senora Mendez received us politely, and we were ushered into a
large music-room in her apartment. There were several people
there already. They were seated in easy chairs about the room.

One of the ladies was playing on the piano as we entered. It was
a curious composition--very rhythmic, with a peculiar thread of
monotonous melody running through it.

The playing ceased, and all eyes were fixed on us. Kennedy kept
very close to Torreon, apparently for the purpose of frustrating
any attempt at a whispered conversation with the senora.

The guests rose and with courtly politeness bowed as Senora
Mendez presented two friends of Senor Torreon, Senor Kennedy and
Senor Jameson. We were introduced in turn to Senor and Senora
Alvardo, Senor Gonzales, Senorita Reyes, and the player, Senora

It was a peculiar situation, and for want of something better to
say I commented on the curious character of the music we had
overheard as we entered.

The senora smiled, and was about to speak when a servant entered,
bearing a tray full of little cups with a steaming liquid, and in
a silver dish some curious, round, brown, disc-like buttons,
about an inch in diameter and perhaps a quarter of an inch thick.
Torreon motioned frantically to the servant to withdraw, but
Kennedy was too quick for him. Interposing himself between
Torreon and the servant, he made way for her to enter.

"You were speaking of the music," replied Senora Mendez to me in
rich, full tones. "Yes, it is very curious. It is a song of the
Kiowa Indians of New Mexico which Senora Barrios has endeavoured
to set to music so that it can be rendered on the piano. Senora
Barrios and myself fled from Vespuccia to Mexico at the start of
our revolution, and when the Mexican government ordered us to
leave on account of our political activity we merely crossed the
line to the United States, in New Mexico. It was there that we
ran across this very curious discovery. The monotonous beat of
that melody you heard is supposed to represent the beating of the
tom-toms of the Indians during their mescal rites. We are having
a mescal evening here, whiling away the hours of exile from our
native Vespuccia."

"Mescal?" I repeated blankly at first, then feeling a nudge from
Kennedy, I added hastily: "Oh, yes, to be sure. I think I have
heard of it. It's a Mexican drink, is it not? I have never had
the pleasure of tasting it or of tasting that other drink, pulque
--poolkay--did I get the accent right?"

I felt another, sharper nudge from Kennedy, and knew that I had
only made matters worse.

"Mr. Jameson," he hastened to remark, "confounds this mescal of
the Indians with the drink of the same name that is common in

"Oh," she laughed, to my great relief, "but this mescal is
something quite different. The Mexican drink mescal is made from
the maguey-plant and is a frightfully horrid thing that sends
the peon out of his senses and makes him violent. Mescal as I
mean it is a little shrub, a god, a cult, a religion."

"Yes," assented Kennedy; "discovered by those same Kiowa Indians,
was it not?"

"Perhaps," she admitted, raising her beautiful shoulders in
polite deprecation. "The mescal religion, we found, has spread
very largely in New Mexico and Arizona among the Indians, and
with the removal of the Kiowas to the Indian reservation it has
been adopted by other tribes even, I have heard, as far north as
the Canadian border."

"Is that so?" asked Kennedy. "I understood that the United States
government had forbidden the importation of the mescal plant and
its sale to the Indians under severe penalties."

"It has, sir," interposed Alvardo, who had joined us, "but still
the mescal cult grows secretly. For my part, I think it might be
more wise for your authorities to look to the whiskey and beer
that unscrupulous persons are selling. Senor Jameson," he added,
turning to me, "will you join us in a little cup of this
artificial paradise, as one of your English writers--Havelock
Ellis, I think--has appropriately called it?"

I glanced dubiously at Kennedy as Senora Mendez took one of the
little buttons out of the silver tray. Carefully paring the fuzzy
tuft of hairs off the top of it--it looked to me very much like
the tip of a cactus plant, which, indeed, it was--she rolled it
into a little pellet and placed it in her mouth, chewing it
slowly like a piece of chicle.

"Watch me; do just as I do," whispered Kennedy to me at a moment
when no one was looking.

The servant advanced towards us with the tray.

"The mescal plant," explained Alvardo, pointing at the little
discs, "grows precisely like these little buttons which you see
here. It is a species of cactus which rises only half an inch or
so from the ground. The stem is surrounded by a clump of blunt
leaves which give it its button shape, and on the top you will
see still the tuft of filaments, like a cactus. It grows in the
rocky soil in many places in the state of Jalisco, though only
recently has it become known to science. The Indians, when they
go out to gather it, simply lop off these little ends as they
peep above the earth, dry them, keep what they wish for their own
use, and sell the rest for what is to them a fabulous sum. Some
people chew the buttons, while a few have lately tried making an
infusion or tea out of them. Perhaps to a beginner I had better
recommend the infusion."

I had scarcely swallowed the bitter, almost nauseous decoction
than I began to feel my heart action slowing up and my pulse
beating fuller and stronger. The pupils of my eyes expanded as
with a dose of belladonna; at least, I could see that Kennedy's
did, and so mine must have done the same.

I seemed to feel an elated sense of superiority--really I almost
began to feel that it was I, not Kennedy, who counted most in
this investigation. I have since learned that this is the common
experience of mescal-users, this sense of elation; but the
feeling of physical energy and intellectual power soon wore off,
and I found myself glad to recline in my easy chair, as the rest
did, in silent indolence.

Still, the display that followed for an enchanted hour or so was
such as I find it hopeless to describe in language which shall
convey to others the beauty and splendour of what I saw.

I picked up a book lying on the table before me. A pale
blue-violet shadow floated across the page before me, leaving an
after-image of pure colour that was indescribable. I laid down
the book and closed my eyes. A confused riot of images and
colours like a kaleidoscope crowded before me, at first
indistinct, but, as I gazed with closed yes, more and more
definite. Golden and red and green jewels seemed to riot before
me. I bathed my hands in inconceivable riches of beauty such as
no art-glass worker has ever produced. All discomfort ceased. I
had no desire to sleep--in fact, was hyper-sensitive. But it was
a real effort to open my eyes; to tear myself away from the
fascinating visions of shapes and colours.

At last I did open my eyes to gaze at the gasjets of the
chandelier as they flickered. They seemed to send out waves,
expanding and contracting, waves of colour. The shadows of the
room were highly coloured and constantly changing as the light

Senora Barrios began lightly to play on the piano the transposed
Kiowa song, emphasising the notes that represented the
drum-beats. Strange as it may seem, the music translated itself
into pure colour--and the rhythmic beating of the time seemed to
aid the process. I thought of the untutored Indians as they sat
in groups about the flickering camp-fire while others beat the
tom-toms and droned the curious melody. What were the visions of
the red man, I wondered, as he chewed his mescal button and the
medicine man prayed to Hikori, the cactus god, to grant a
"beautiful intoxication?"

Under the gas-lights of the chandelier hung a cluster of electric
light bulbs which added to the flood of golden effulgence that
bathed the room and all things in it. I gazed next intently at
the electric lights. They became the sun itself in their
steadiness, until I had to turn away my head and close my eyes.
Even then the image persisted--I saw the golden sands of Newport,
only they were blazing with glory as if they were veritable
diamond dust: I saw the waves, of incomparable blue, rolling up
on the shore. A vague perfume was wafted on the air. I was in an
orgy of vision. Yet there was no stage of maudlin emotion. It was
at least elevating.

Kennedy's experiences as he related them to me afterwards were
similar, though sufficiently varied to be interesting. His
visions took the forms of animals--a Cheshire cat, like that in
"Alice in Wonderland," with merely a grin that faded away,
changing into a lynx which in turn disappeared, followed by an
unknown creature with short nose and pointed ears, then tortoises
and guinea-pigs, a perfectly unrelated succession of beasts. When
the playing began a beautiful panorama unfolded before him--the
regular notes in the music enhancing the beauty, and changes in
the scenes, which he described as a most wonderful kinetoscopic

In fact, only De Quincey or Bayard Taylor or Poe could have done
justice to the thrilling effects of the drug, and not even they
unless an amanuensis had been seated by them to take down what
they dictated, for I defy anyone to remember anything but a
fraction of the rapid march of changes under its influence.
Indeed, in observing its action I almost forgot for the time
being the purpose of our visit, so fascinated was I. The music
ceased, but not the visions.

Senora Mendez advanced toward us. The spangles on her net dress
seemed to give her a fairy-like appearance; she seemed to float
over the carpet like a glowing, fleecy, white cloud over a
rainbow-tinted sky.

Kennedy, however, had not for an instant forgotten what we were
there for, and his attention recalled mine. I was surprised to
see that when I made the effort I could talk and think quite as
rationally as ever, though the wildest pranks were going on in my
mind and vision. Kennedy did not beat about in putting his
question, evidently counting on the surprise to extract the

"What time did Senor Guerrero leave last night?"

The question came so suddenly that she had no time to think of a
reply that would conceal anything she might otherwise have wished
to conceal.

"About ten o'clock," she answered, then instantly was on her
guard, for Torreon had caught her eye.

"And you have no idea where he went?" asked Kennedy.

"None, unless he went home," she replied guardedly.

I did not at the time notice the significance of her prompt
response to Torreon's warning. I did not notice, as did Kennedy,
the smile that spread over Torreon's features. The music had
started again, and I was oblivious to all but the riot of colour.

Again the servant entered. She seemed clothed in a halo of light
and colour, every fold of her dress radiating the most delicate
tones. Yet there was nothing voluptuous or sensual about it. I
was raised above earthly things. Men and women were no longer men
and women--they were brilliant creatures of whom I was one. It
was sensuous, but not sensual. I looked at my own clothes. My
everyday suit was idealised. My hands were surrounded by a glow
of red fire that made me feel that they must be the hands of a
divinity. I noticed them as I reached forward toward the tray of
little cups.

There swam into my line of vision another such hand. It laid
itself on my arm. A voice sang in my ear softly:

"No, Walter, we have had enough. Come, let us go. This is not
like any other known drug--not even the famous Cannabis indica,
hasheesh. Let us go as soon as we politely can. I have found out
what I wanted to know. Guerrero is not here."

We rose shortly and excused ourselves and, with general regrets
in which all but Torreon joined, were bowed out with the same
courtly politeness with which we had been received.

As we left the house, the return to the world was quick. It was
like coming out from the matinee and seeing the crowds on the
street. They, not the matinee, were unreal for the moment. But,
strange to say, I found one felt no depression as a result of the
mescal intoxication.

"What is it about mescal that produces such results?" I asked.

"The alkaloids," replied Kennedy as we walked slowly along.
"Mescal was first brought to the attention of scientists by
explorers employed by our bureau of ethnology. Dr. Weir Mitchell
and Dr. Harvey Wiley and several German scientists have
investigated it since then. It is well known that it contains
half a dozen alkaloids and resins of curious and
little-investigated nature. I can't recall even the names of them
offhand, but I have them in my laboratory."

As the effect of the mescal began to wear off in the fresh air, I
found myself in a peculiar questioning state. What had we gained
by our visit? Looking calmly at it, I could not help but ask
myself why both Torreon and Senora Mendez had acted as if they
were concealing something about the whereabouts of Guerrero. Was
she a spy? Did she know anything about the loss of the
half-million dollars?

Of one thing I was certain. Torreon was an ardent admirer of the
beautiful senora, equally ardent with Guerrero. Was he simply a
jealous suitor, angry at his rival, and now glad that he was out
of the way? Where had Guerrero gone The question was still

Absorbed in these reveries, I did not notice particularly where
Kennedy was hurrying me. In fact, finding no plausible answer to
my speculations and knowing that it was useless to question
Kennedy at this stage of his inquiry, I did not for the moment
care where we went but allowed him to take the lead.

We entered one of the fine apartments on the drive and rode up in
the elevator. A door opened and, with a start, I found myself in
the presence of Miss Guerrero again. The questioning look on her
face recalled the object of our search, and its ill success so
far. Why had Kennedy come back with so little to report?

"Have you heard anything" she asked eagerly.

"Not directly," replied Kennedy. "But I have a clue, at least. I
believe that Torreon knows where your father is and will let you
know any moment now. It is to his interest to clear himself
before this scandal about the money becomes generally known.
Would you allow me to search through your father's desk?"

For some moments Kennedy rummaged through the drawers and
pigeonholes, silently.

"Where does the junta keep its arms stored--not in the meeting -
place on South Street does it?" asked Kennedy at length.

"Not exactly; that would be a little too risky," she replied. "I
believe they have a loft above the office, hired in someone
else's name and not connected with the place down-stairs at all.
My father and Senor Torreon are the only ones who have the keys.
Why do you ask?"

"I ask," replied Craig, "because. I was wondering whether there
might not be something that would take him down to South Street
last night. It is the only place I can think of his going to at
such a late hour, unless he has gone out of town. If we do not
hear from Torreon soon I think I will try what. I can find down
there. Ah, what is this?"

Kennedy drew forth a little silver box and opened it. Inside
reposed a dozen mescal buttons.

We both looked quickly at Miss Guerrero, but it was quite evident
that she was unacquainted with them.

She was about to ask what Kennedy had found when the telephone
rang and the maid announced that Miss Guerrero was wanted by
Senor Torreon.

A smile of gratification flitted over Kennedy's face as he leaned
over to me and whispered: "It is evident that Torreon is anxious
to clear himself. I'll wager he has done some rapid hustling
since we left him."

"Perhaps this is some word about my father at last," murmured
Miss Guerrero as she nervously hurried to the telephone, and
answered, "Yes, this is Senorita Guerrero, Senor Torreon. You are
at the office of the junta? Yes, yes, you have word from my
father you went down there to-night expecting some guns to be
delivered?--and you found him there--up-stairs in the loft--ill,
did you say? --unconscious?"

In an instant her face was drawn and pale, and the receiver fell
clattering to the hard-wood floor from her nerveless fingers.

"He is dead!" she gasped as she swayed backward and I caught her.
With Kennedy's help I carried her, limp and unconscious, across
the room, and placed her in a deep armchair. I stood at her side,
but for the moment could only look on helplessly, blankly at the
now stony beauty of her face.

"Some water, Juanita, quick!" I cried as soon as I had recovered
from the shock. "Have you any smelling-salts or anything of that
sort? Perhaps you can find a little brandy. Hurry."

While we were making her comfortable the telephone continued to

"This is Kennedy," I heard Craig say, as Juanita came hurrying in
with water, smelling-salts, and brandy. "You fool. She fainted.
Why couldn't you break it to her gently? What's that address on
South Street? You found him over the junta meeting-place in a
loft? Yes, I understand. What were you doing down there? You went
down expecting a shipment of arms and saw a light overhead I
see--and suspecting something you entered with a policeman. You
heard him move across the floor above and fall heavily? All
right. Someone will be down directly. Ambulance surgeon has tried
everything, you say? No heart action, no breathing? Sure. Very
well. Let the body remain just where it is until I get down. Oh,
wait. How long ago did it happen? Fifteen minutes? All right.

Such restoratives as we had found we applied faithfully. At last
we were rewarded by the first flutter of an eyelid. Then Miss
Guerrero gazed wildly about.

"He is dead," she moaned. "They have killed him. I know it. My
father is dead." Over and over she repeated: "He is dead. I shall
never see him again."

Vainly I tried to soothe her. What was there to say? There could
be no doubt about it. Torreon must have gone down directly after
we left Senora Mendez. He had seen a light in the loft, had
entered with a policeman--as a witness, he had told Craig over
the telephone --had heard Guerrero fall, and had sent for the
ambulance. How long Guerrero had been there he did not know, for
while members of the junta had been coming and going all day in
the office below none had gone up into the locked loft.

Kennedy with rare skill calmed Miss Guerrero's dry-eyed hysteria
into a gentle rain of tears, which relieved her overwrought
feelings. We silently withdrew, leaving the two women, mistress
and servant, weeping.

"Craig," I asked when we had gained the street, "what do you make
of it? We must lose no time. Arrest this Mendez woman before she
has a chance to escape."

"Not so fast, Walter," he cautioned as we spun along in a
taxicab. "Our case isn't very complete against anybody yet."

"But it looks black for Guerrero," I admitted. "Dead men tell no
tales even to clear themselves."

"It all depends on speed now," he answered laconically.

We had reached the university, which was only a few blocks away,
and Craig dashed into his laboratory while I settled with the
driver. He reappeared almost instantly with some bulky apparatus
under his arm, and we more than ran from the building to the
near-by subway station. Fortunately there was an express just
pulling in, as we tumbled down the steps.

To one who knows South Street as merely a river-front street
whose glory of other days has long since departed, where an
antiquated horsecar now ambles slowly uptown, and trucks and
carts all day long are in a perpetual jam, it is peculiarly
uninteresting by day, and peculiarly deserted and vicious by
night. But there is another fascination about South Street.
Perhaps there has never been a revolution in Latin America which
has not in some way or other been connected with this street,
whence hundreds of filibustering expeditions have started.
Whenever a dictator is to be overthrown, or half a dozen
chocolate-skinned generals in the Caribbean become dissatisfied
with their portions of gold lace, the arms-and ammunition-dealers
of South Street can give, if they choose, an advance scenario of
the whole tragedy or comic opera, as the case may be. Real war or
opera-bouffe, it is all grist for the mills of these
close-mouthed individuals.

Our quest took us to a ramshackle building reminiscent of the
days when the street bristled with bowsprits of ships from all
over the world, an age when the American merchantman flew our
flag on the uttermost of the seven-seas. On the ground floor was
an apparently innocent junk dealer's shop, in reality the
meeting-place of the junta. By an outside stairway the lofts
above were reached, hiding their secrets behind windows opaque
with decades of dust.

At the door we were met by Torreon and the policeman. Both
appeared to be shocked beyond measure. Torreon was profuse in
explanations which did not explain. Out of the tangled mass of
verbiage I did manage to extract, however, the impression that,
come what might to the other members of the junta, Torreon was
determined to clear his own name at any cost. He and the
policeman had discovered Senor Guerrero only a short time before,
up-stairs. For all he knew, Guerrero had been there some time,
perhaps all day, while the others were meeting down-stairs.
Except for the light he might have been there undiscovered still.
Torreon swore he had heard Guerrero fall; the policeman was not
quite so positive.

Kennedy listened impatiently, then sprang up the stairs, only to
call back to the policeman: "Go call me a taxicab at the ferry,
an electric cab. Mind, now, not a gasoline-cab--electric."

We found the victim lying on a sort of bed of sailcloth in a loft
apparently devoted to the peaceful purposes of the junk trade,
but really a perfect arsenal and magazine. It was dusty and
cobwebbed, crammed with stands of arms, tents, uniforms in bales,
batteries of Maxims and mountain-guns, and all the paraphernalia
for carrying on a real twentieth-century revolution.

The young ambulance surgeon was still there, so quickly had we
been able to get down-town. He had his stomach-pump, hypodermic
syringe, emetics, and various tubes spread out on a piece of
linen on a packing-case. Kennedy at once inquired just what he
had done.

"Thought at first it was only a bad case of syncope," he replied,
"but I guess he was dead some minutes before I got here. Tried
rhythmic traction of the tongue, artificial respiration,
stimulants, chest and heart massage--everything, but it was no

"Have you any idea what caused his death?" asked Craig as he
hastily adjusted his apparatus to an electric light socket--a
rheostat, an induction-coil of peculiar shape, and an

"Poison of some kind--an alkaloid. They say they heard him fall
as they came up-stairs, and when they got to him he was blue. His
face was as blue as it is now when I arrived. Asphyxia, failure
of both heart and lungs, that was what the alkaloid caused."

The gong of the electric cab sounded outside. As Craig heard it
he rushed with two wires to the window, threw them out, and
hurried downstairs, attaching them to the batteries of the cab.

In an instant he was back again.

"Now, Doctor," he said, "I'm going to perform a very delicate
test on this man. Here I have the alternating city current and
here a direct, continuous current from the storage-batteries of
the cab below. Doctor, hold his mouth open. So. Now, have you a
pair of forceps handy? Good. Can you catch hold of the tip of his
tongue? There. Do just as I tell you. I apply this cathode to his
skin in the dorsal region; under the back of the neck, and this
anode in the lumbar region at the base of the spine--just pieces
of cotton soaked in salt solution and covering the metal
electrodes, to give me a good contact with the body."

I was fascinated. It was gruesome, and yet I could not take my
eyes off it. Torreon stood blankly, in a daze. Craig was as calm
as if his every-day work was experimenting on cadavers.

He applied the current, moving the anode and the cathode slowly.
I had often seen the experiments on the nerves of a frog that had
been freshly killed, how the electric current will make the
muscles twitch, as discovered long ago by Galvani. But I was not
prepared to see it on a human being. Torreon muttered something
and crossed himself.

The arms seemed half to rise--then suddenly to fall, flabby
again. There was a light hiss like an inspiration and expiration
of air, a ghastly sound.

"Lungs react," muttered Kennedy, "but the heart doesn't. I must
increase the voltage."

Again he applied the electrodes.

The face seemed a different shade of blue, I thought.

"Good God, Kennedy," I exclaimed, "do you suppose the effect of
that mescal on me hasn't worn off yet? Blue, blue everything blue
is playing pranks before my eyes. Tell me, is the blue of that
face --his face--is it changing? Do you see it, or do I imagine

"Blood asphyxiated," was the disjointed reply. "The oxygen is
clearing it."

"But, Kennedy," I persisted; "his face was dark blue, black a
minute ago. The most astonishing change has taken place. Its
colour is almost natural now. Do I imagine it or is it real?"

Kennedy was so absorbed in his work that he made no reply at all.
He heard nothing, nothing save the slow, forced inspiration and
expiration of air as he deftly and quickly manipulated the

"Doctor," he cried at length, "tell me what is going on in that

The young surgeon bent his head and placed his ear on the cold
breast. As he raised his eyes and they chanced to rest on
Kennedy's hands, holding the electrodes dangling idly in the air,
I think I never saw a greater look of astonishment on a human
face. "It--is --almost--natural," he gasped.

"With great care and a milk diet for a few days Guerrero will
live," said Kennedy quietly. "It is natural."

"My God, man, but he was dead!" exclaimed the surgeon. "I know
it. His heart was stopped and his lungs collapsed."

"To all intents and purposes he was dead, dead as ever a man
was," replied Craig, "and would be now, if I hadn't happened to
think of this special induction-coil loaned to me by a doctor who
had studied deeply the process of electric resuscitation
developed by Professor Leduc of the Nantes Ecole de Medicin.
There is only one case I know of on record which compares with
this--a case of a girl resuscitated in Paris. The girl was a
chronic morphine-eater and was 'dead' forty minutes."

I stood like one frozen, the thing was so incomprehensible, after
the many surprises of the evening that had preceded. Torreon, in
fact, did not comprehend for the moment.

As Kennedy and I bent over, Guerrero's eyes opened, but he
apparently saw nothing. His hand moved a little, and his lips
parted. Kennedy quickly reached into the pockets of the man
gasping for breath, one after another. From a vest pocket he drew
a little silver case, identical with that he had found in the
desk up-town. He opened it, and one mescal button rolled out into
the palm of his hand. Kennedy regarded it thoughtfully.

"I suspect there is at least one devotee of the vision-breeding
drug who will no longer cultivate its use, as a result of this,"
he added, looking significantly at the man before us.

"Guerrero," shouted Kennedy, placing his mouth close to the man's
ear, but muting his voice so that only I could distinguish what
he said, "Guerrero, where is the money?"

His lips moved trembling again, but I could not make out that he
said anything.

Kennedy rose and quietly went over to detach his apparatus from
the electric light socket behind Torreon.

"Car-ramba!" I heard as I turned suddenly.

Craig had Torreon firmly pinioned from behind by both arms. The
policeman quickly interposed.

"It's all right,--officer," exclaimed Craig. "Walter, reach into
his inside pocket."

I pulled out a bunch of papers and turned them over.

"What's that" asked Kennedy as I came to something neatly
enclosed in an envelope.

I opened it. It was a power of attorney from Guerrero to Torreon.

"Perhaps it is no crime to give a man mescal if he wants it--I
doubt if the penal code covers that," ejaculated Kennedy. "But it
is conspiracy to give it to him and extract a power of attorney
by which you can get control of trust funds consigned to him.
Manuel Torreon, the game is up. You and Senora Mendez have played
your parts well. But you have lost. You waited until you thought
Guerrero was dead, then you took a policeman along as a witness
to clear yourself. But the secret is not dead, after all. Is
there nothing else in those papers, Walter? Yes? Ah, a bill of
lading dated to-day? Ten cases of 'scrap iron' from New York to
Boston--a long chance for such valuable 'scrap,' senor, but I
suppose you had to get the money away from New York, at any

"And Senora Mendez?" I asked as my mind involuntarily reverted to
the brilliantly lighted room up-town. "What part did she have in
the plot against Guerrero?"

Torreon stood sullenly silent. Kennedy reached in another of
Torreon's pockets and drew out a third little silver box of
mescal buttons. Holding all three of the boxes, identically the
same, before us he remarked: "Evidently Torreon was not averse to
having his victim under the influence of mescal as much as
possible. He must have forced it on him--all's fair in love and
revolution, I suppose. I believe he brought him down here under
the influence of mescal last night, obtained the power of
attorney, and left him here to die of the mescal intoxication. It
was just a case of too strong a hold of the mescal--the
artificial paradise was too alluring to Guerrero, and Torreon
knew it and tried to profit by it to the extent of half a million

It was more than I could grasp at the instant. The impossible had
happened. I had seen the dead--literally--brought back to life
and the secret which the criminal believed buried wrung from the

Kennedy must have noted the puzzled look on my face. "Walter," he
said, casually, as he wrapped up his instruments, "don't stand
there gaping like Billikin. Our part in this case is finished--at
least mine is. But I suspect from some of the glances I have seen
you steal at various times that--well, perhaps you would like a
few moments in a real paradise. I saw a telephone down-stairs. Go
call up Miss Guerrero and tell her her father is alive--and

XII. The Steel Door

It was what, in college, we used to call "good football weather"
--a crisp, autumn afternoon that sent the blood tingling through
brain and muscle. Kennedy and I were enjoying a stroll on the
drive, dividing our attention between the glowing red sunset
across the Hudson and the string of homeward-bound automobiles on
the broad parkway. Suddenly a huge black touring car marked with
big letters, "P.D.N.Y.," shot past.

"Joy-riding again in one of the city's cars," I remarked. "I
thought the last Police Department shake-up had put a stop to

"Perhaps it has," returned Kennedy. "Did you see who was in the

No, but I see it has turned and is coming back."

"It was Inspector--I mean, First Deputy O'Connor. I thought he
recognised us as he whizzed along, and I guess he did, too. Ah,
congratulations, O'Connor! I haven't had a chance to tell you
before how pleased I was to learn you had been appointed first
deputy. It ought to have been commissioner, though," added

"Congratulations nothing," rejoined O'Connor. "Just another new
deal-election coming on, mayor must make a show of getting some
reform done, and all that sort of thing. So he began with the
Police Department, and here I am, first deputy. But, say,
Kennedy," he added, dropping his voice, "I've a little job on my
mind that I'd like to pull off in about as spectacular a fashion
as I--as you know how. I want to make good, conspicuously good,
at the start--understand? Maybe I'll be 'broke' for it and sent
to pounding the pavements of Dismissalville, but I don't care,
I'll take a chance. On the level, Kennedy, it's a big thing, and
it ought to be done. Will you help me put it across?"

"What is it?" asked Kennedy with a twinkle in his eye at
O'Connor's estimate of the security of his tenure of office.

O'Connor drew us away from the automobile toward the stone
parapet overlooking the railroad and river far below, and out of
earshot of the department chauffeur. "I want to pull off a
successful raid on the Vesper Club," he whispered earnestly,
scanning our faces.

"Good heavens, man," I ejaculated, "don't you know that Senator
Danfield is interested in--"

"Jameson," interrupted O'Connor reproachfully, "I said 'on the
level' a few moments ago, and I meant it. Senator Danfield
he--well, anyhow, if I don't do it the district attorney will,
with the aid of the Dowling law, and I am going to beat him to
it, that's all. There's too much money being lost at the Vesper
Club, anyhow. It won't hurt Danfield to be taught a lesson not to
run such a phony game. I may like to put up a quiet bet myself on
the ponies now and then--I won't say I don't, but this thing of
Danfield's has got beyond all reason. It's the crookedest
gambling joint in the city, at least judging by the stories they
tell of losses there. And so beastly aristocratic, too. Read

O'Connor shoved a letter into Kennedy's hand, a dainty perfumed
and monogrammed little missive addressed in a feminine hand. It
was such a letter as comes by the thousand to the police in the
course of a year; though seldom from ladies of the smart set.

"Dear Sir: I notice in the newspapers this morning that you have
just been appointed first deputy commissioner of police and that
you have been ordered to suppress gambling in New York. For the
love that you must still bear toward your own mother, listen to
the story of a mother worn with anxiety for her only son, and if
there is any justice or righteousness in this great city close up
a gambling hell that is sending to ruin scores of our finest
young men. No doubt you know or have heard of my family--the
DeLongs are not unknown in New York. Perhaps you have also heard
of the losses of my son Percival at the Vesper Club. They are
fast becoming the common talk of our set. I am not rich, Mr.
Commissioner, in spite of our social position, but I am human, as
human as a mother in any station of life, and oh, if there is any
way, close up that gilded society resort that is dissipating our
small fortune, ruining an only son, and slowly bringing to the
grave a gray-haired widow, as worthy of protection as any mother
of the poor whose plea has closed up a little poolroom or low
policy shop."

Sincerely, (Mrs.) Julia M. DeLong.

P.S.--Please keep this confidential--at least from my son
Percival. J. M. DeL.

"Well," said Kennedy, as he handed back the letter, "O'Connor, if
you do it, I'll take back all the hard things I've ever said
about the police system. Young DeLong was in one of my classes at
the university, until he was expelled for that last mad prank of
his. There's more to that boy than most people think, but he's
the wildest scion of wealth I have ever come in contact with. How
are you going to pull off your raid--is it to be down through the
skylight or up from the cellar?"

"Kennedy," replied O'Connor in the same reproachful tone with
which he had addressed me, "talk sense. I'm in earnest. You know
the Vesper Club is barred and barricaded like the National City
Bank. It isn't one of those common gambling joints which depend
for protection on what we call 'ice-box doors.' It's proof
against all the old methods. Axes and sledge-hammers would make
no impression there."

"Your predecessor had some success at opening doors with a
hydraulic jack, I believe, in some very difficult raids," put in

"A hydraulic jack wouldn't do for the Vesper Club, I'm afraid,"
remarked O'Connor wearily. "Why, sir, that place has been proved
bomb-proof--bomb-proof, sir. You remember recently the so-called
'gamblers' war' in which some rivals exploded a bomb on the
steps? It did more damage to the house next door than to the
club. However, I can get past the outer door, I think, even if it
is strong. But inside--you must have heard of it--is the famous
steel door, three inches thick, made of armourplate. It's no use
to try it at all unless we can pass that door with reasonable
quickness. All the evidence we shall get will be of an innocent
social club-room downstairs. The gambling is all on the second
floor, beyond this door, in a room without a window in it. Surely
you've heard of that famous gambling-room, with its perfect
system of artificial ventilation and electric lighting that makes
it rival noonday at midnight. And don't tell me I've got to get
on the other side of the door by strategy, either. It is
strategy-proof. The system of lookouts is perfect. No, force is
necessary, but it must not be destructive of life or
property--or, by heaven, I'd drive up there and riddle the place
with a fourteen-inch gun," exclaimed O'Connor.

"H'm!" mused Kennedy as he flicked the ashes off his cigar and
meditatively watched a passing freight-train on the railroad
below us. "There goes a car loaded with tons and tons of scrap
iron. You want me to scrap that three-inch steel door, do you?"

"Kennedy, I'll buy that particular scrap from you at almost its
weight in gold. The fact is, I have a secret fund at my disposal
such as former commissioners have asked for in vain. I can afford
to pay you well, as well as any private client, and I hear you
have had some good fees lately. Only deliver the goods."

"No," answered Kennedy, rather piqued, "it isn't money that I am
after. I merely wanted to be sure that you are in earnest. I can
get you past that door as if it were made of green baize."

It was O'Connor's turn to look incredulous, but as Kennedy
apparently meant exactly what he said, he simply asked, "And will

"I will do it to-night if you say so," replied Kennedy quietly.
"Are you ready?"

For answer O'Connor simply grasped Craig's hand, as if to seal
the compact.

"All right, then," continued Kennedy. "Send a furniture-van, one
of those closed vans that the storage warehouses use, up to my
laboratory any time before seven o'clock. How many men will you
need in the raid? Twelve? Will a van hold that many comfortably?
I'll want to put some apparatus in it, but that won't take much

"Why, yes, I think so," answered O'Connor. "I'll get a
well-padded van so that they won't be badly jolted by the ride
down-town. By George! Kennedy, I see you know more of that side
of police strategy than I gave you credit for."

"Then have the men drop into my laboratory singly about the same
time. You can arrange that so that it will not look suspicious,
so far uptown. It will be dark, anyhow. Perhaps, O'Connor, you
can make up as the driver yourself--anyhow, get one you can trust
absolutely. Then have the van down near the corner of Broadway
below the club, driving slowly along about the time the theatre
crowd is out. Leave the rest to me. I will give you or the driver
orders when the time comes."

As O'Connor thanked Craig, he remarked without a shade of
insincerity, "Kennedy, talk about being commissioner, you ought
to be commissioner."

"Wait till I deliver the goods," answered Craig simply. "I may
fall down and bring you nothing but a lawsuit for damages for
unlawful entry or unjust persecution, or whatever they call it."

"I'll take a chance at that," called back O'Connor as he jumped
into his car and directed, "Headquarters, quick."

As the car disappeared, Kennedy filled his lungs with air as if
reluctant to leave the drive. "Our constitutional," he remarked,
"is abruptly at an end, Walter."

Then he laughed, as he looked about him.

"What a place in which to plot a raid on Danfield's Vesper Club!
Why, the nurse-maids have hardly got the children all in for
supper and bed. It's incongruous. Well, I must go over to the
laboratory and get some things ready to put in that van with the
men. Meet me about half-past seven, Walter, up in the room, all
togged up. We'll dine at the Cafe Riviera to-night in style. And,
by the way, you're quite a man about town--you must know someone
who can introduce us into the Vesper Club."

"But, Craig," I demurred, "if there is any rough work as a
result, it might queer me with them. They might object to being

"Oh, that will be all right. I just want to look the place over
and lose a few chips in a good cause. No, it won't queer any of
your Star connections. We'll be on the outside when the time
comes for anything to happen. In fact I shouldn't wonder if your
story would make you all the more solid with the sports. I take
all the responsibility; you can have the glory. You know they
like to hear the inside gossip of such things, after the event.
Try it. Remember, at seven-thirty. We'll be a little late at
dinner, but never mind; it will be early enough for the club."

Left to my own devices I determined to do a little detective work
on my own account, and not only did I succeed in finding an
acquaintance who agreed to introduce us at the Vesper Club that

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