Part 6 out of 6
night about nine o'clock, but I also learned that Percival DeLong
was certain to be there that night, too. I was necessarily vague
about Kennedy, for fear my friend might have heard of some of his
exploits, but fortunately he did not prove inquisitive.
I hurried back to our apartment and was in the process of
transforming myself into a full-fledged boulevardier, when
Kennedy arrived in an extremely cheerful frame of mind. So far,
his preparations had progressed very favourably, I guessed, and I
was quite elated when he complimented me on what I had
accomplished in the meantime.
"Pretty tough for the fellows who are condemned to ride around in
that van for four mortal hours, though," he said as he hurried
into his evening clothes, "but they won't be riding all the time.
The driver will make frequent stops."
I was so busy that I paid little attention to him until he had
nearly completed his toilet. I gave a gasp.
"Why, whatever are you doing?" I exclaimed as I glanced into his
There stood Kennedy arrayed in all the glory of a sharp-pointed
moustache and a goatee. He had put on evening clothes of
decidedly Parisian cut, clothes which he had used abroad and had
brought back with him, but which I had never known him to wear
since he came back. On a chair reposed a chimney-pot hat that
would have been pronounced faultless on the "continong," but was
unknown, except among impresarios, on Broadway.
Kennedy shrugged his shoulders--he even had the shrug.
"Figure to yourself, monsieur," he said. "Ze great Kennedy, ze
detectif Americain--to put it tersely in our own vernacular,
wouldn't it be a fool thing for me to appear at the Vesper Club
where I should surely be recognised by someone if I went in my
ordinary clothes and features? Un faux pas, at the start?
There was nothing to do but agree, and I was glad that I had been
discreetly reticent about my companion in talking with the friend
who was to gain us entrance to the Avernus beyond the steel door.
We met my friend at the Riviera and dined sumptuously.
Fortunately he seemed decidedly impressed with my friend Monsieur
Kay--I could do no better on the spur of the moment than take
Kennedy's initial, which seemed to serve. We progressed amicably
from oysters and soup down to coffee, cigars, and liqueurs, and I
succeeded in swallowing Kennedy's tales of Monte Carlo and Ostend
and Ascot without even a smile. He must have heard them
somewhere, and treasured them up for just such an occasion, but
he told them in a manner that was verisimilitude itself, using
perfect English with just the trace of an accent at the right
At last it was time to saunter around to the Vesper Club without
seeming to be too indecently early. The theatres were not yet
out, but my friend said play was just beginning at the club and
would soon be in full swing.
I had a keen sense of wickedness as we mounted the steps in the
yellow flare of the flaming arc-light on the Broadway corner not
far below us. A heavy, grated door swung open at the practised
signal of my friend, and an obsequious negro servant stood bowing
and pronouncing his name in the sombre mahogany portal beyond,
with its green marble pillars and handsome decorations. A short
parley followed, after which we entered, my friend having
apparently satisfied someone that we were all right.
We did not stop to examine the first floor, which doubtless was
innocent enough, but turned quickly up a flight of steps. At the
foot of the broad staircase Kennedy paused to examine some rich
carvings, and I felt him nudge me. I turned. It was an enclosed
staircase, with walls that looked to be of re-enforced concrete.
Swung back on hinges concealed like those of a modern
burglar-proof safe was the famous steel door.
We did not wish to appear to be too interested, yet a certain
amount of curiosity was only proper.
My friend paused on the steps, turned, and came back.
"You're perfectly safe," he smiled, tapping the door with his
cane with a sort of affectionate respect. "It would take the
police ages to get past that barrier, which would be swung shut
and bolted the moment the lookout gave the alarm. But there has
never been any trouble. The police know that it is so far, no
farther. Besides," he added with a wink to me, "you know, Senator
Danfield wouldn't like this pretty little door even scratched.
Come up, I think I hear DeLong's voice up-stairs. You've heard of
him, monsieur? It's said his luck has changed I'm anxious to find
Quickly he led the way up the handsome staircase and into a
large, lofty, richly furnished room. Everywhere there were thick,
heavy carpets on the floors, into which your feet sank with an
air of satisfying luxury.
The room into which we entered was indeed absolutely windowless.
It was a room built within the original room of the old house.
Thus the windows overlooking the street from the second floor in
reality bore no relation to it. For light it depended on a
complete oval of lights overhead so arranged as to be themselves
invisible, but shining through richly stained glass and conveying
the illusion of a slightly clouded noonday. The absence of
windows was made up for, as I learned later, by a ventilating
device so perfect that, although everyone was smoking, a most
fastidious person could scarcely have been offended by the odour
Of course I did not notice all this at first. What I did notice,
however, was a faro-layout and a hazard-board, but as no one was
playing at either, my eye quickly travelled to a roulette-table
which stretched along the middle of the room. Some ten or a dozen
men in evening clothes were gathered watching with intent faces
the spinning wheel. There was no money on the table, nothing but
piles of chips of various denominations. Another thing that
surprised me as I looked was that the tense look on the faces of
the players was anything but the feverish, haggard gaze I had
expected. In fact, they were sleek, well-fed, typical prosperous
New-Yorkers rather inclined to the noticeable in dress and
carrying their avoirdupois as if life was an easy game with them.
Most of them evidently belonged to the financial and society
classes. There were no tragedies; the tragedies were
elsewhere--in their offices, homes, in the courts, anywhere, but
not here at the club. Here all was life, light, and laughter.
For the benefit of those not acquainted with the roulette-wheel
--and I may as well confess that most of my own knowledge was
gained in that one crowded evening--I may say that it consists,
briefly, of a wooden disc very nicely balanced and turning in the
centre of a cavity set into a table like a circular wash-basin,
with an outer rim turned slightly inward. The "croupier" revolves
the wheel to the right. With a quick motion of his middle finger
he flicks a marble, usually of ivory, to the left. At the Vesper
Club, always up-to-date, the ball was of platinum, not of ivory.
The disc with its sloping sides is provided with a number of
brass rods, some perpendicular, some horizontal. As the ball and
the wheel lose momentum the ball strikes against the rods and
finally is deflected into one of the many little pockets or
stalls facing the rim of the wheel.
There are thirty-eight of these pockets; two are marked "0" and
"00," the others numbered from one to thirty-six in an irregular
and confusing order and painted alternately red and black. At
each end of the table are thirty-six large squares
correspondingly numbered and coloured. The "0" and "00" are of a
neutral colour. Whenever the ball falls in the "0" or "00" the
bank takes the stakes, or sweeps the the board. The Monte Carlo
wheel has only one "0," while the typical American has two, and
the Chinese has four.
To one like myself who had read of the Continental
gambling-houses with the clink of gold pieces on the table, and
the croupier with his wooden rake noisily raking in the winnings
of the bank, the comparative silence of the American game comes
as a surprise.
As we advanced, we heard only the rattle of the ball, the click
of the chips, and the monotonous tone of the spinner:
"Twenty-three, black. Eight, red. Seventeen, black." It was
almost like the boys in a broker's office calling off the
quotations of the ticker and marking them up on the board.
Leaning forward, almost oblivious to the rest, was Percival
DeLong, a tall, lithe, handsome young man, whose boyish face ill
comported with the marks of dissipation clearly outlined on it.
Such a boy, it flashed across my mind, ought to be studying the
possible plays of football of an evening in the field-house after
his dinner at the training-table, rather than the possible
gyrations of the little platinum ball on the wheel.
"Curse the luck!" he exclaimed, as "17" appeared again.
A Hebrew banker staked a pile of chips on the "17" to come up a
third time. A murmur of applause at his nerve ran through the
circle. DeLong hesitated, as one who thought, "Seventeen has come
out twice --the odds against its coming again are too great, even
though the winnings would be fabulous, for a good stake." He
placed his next bet on another number.
"He's playing Lord Rosslyn's system, tonight," whispered my
The wheel spun, the ball rolled, and the croupier called again,
"Seventeen, black." A tremor of excitement ran through the crowd.
It was almost unprecedented.
DeLong, with a stifled oath, leaned back and scanned the faces
about the table.
"And '17' has precisely the same chance of turning up in the next
spin as if it had not already had a run of three," said a voice
at my elbow.
It was Kennedy. The roulette-table needs no introduction when
curious sequences are afoot. All are friends.
"That's the theory of Sir Hiram Maxim;" commented my friend, as
he excused himself reluctantly for another appointment. "But no
true gambler will believe it, monsieur, or at least act on it."
All eyes were turned on Kennedy, who made a gesture of polite
deprecation, as if the remark of my friend were true, but he
nonchalantly placed his chips on the "17."
"The odds against '17' appearing four consecutive times are some
millions," he went on, "and yet, having appeared three times, it
is just as likely to appear again as before. It is the usual
practice to avoid a number that has had a run, on the theory that
some other number is more likely to come up than it is. That
would be the case if it were drawing balls from a bag full of red
and black balls--the more red ones drawn the smaller the chance
of drawing another red one. But if the balls are put back in the
bag after being drawn the chances of drawing a red one after
three have been drawn are exactly the same as ever. If we toss a
cent and heads appear twelve times, that does not have the
slightest effect on the thirteenth toss-- there is still an even
chance that it, too, will be heads. So if '17' had come up five
times to-night, it would be just as likely to come the sixth as
if the previous five had not occurred, and that despite the fact
that before it has appeared at all odds against a run of the same
number six times in succession are about two billion, four
hundred and ninety-six million, and some thousands. Most systems
are based on the old persistent belief that occurrences of chance
are affected in some way by occurrences immediately preceding,
but disconnected physically. If we've had a run of black for
twenty times, system says play the red for the twenty-first. But
black is just as likely to turn up the twenty-first as if it were
the first play of all. The confusion arises because a run of
twenty on the black should happen once in one million,
forty-eight thousand, five hundred and seventy-six coups. It
would take ten years to make that many coups, and the run of
twenty might occur once or any number of times in it. It is only
when one deals with infinitely large numbers of coups that one
can count on infinitely small variations in the mathematical
results. This game does not go on for infinity --therefore
anything, everything, may happen. Systems are based on the
infinite; we play in the finite."
"You talk like a professor I had at the university," ejaculated
DeLong contemptuously as Craig finished his disquisition on the
practical fallibility of theoretically infallible systems. Again
DeLong carefully avoided the "17," as well as the black.
The wheel spun again; the ball rolled. The knot of spectators
around the table watched with bated breath.
As Kennedy piled up his winnings superciliously, without even the
appearance of triumph, a man behind me whispered, "A foreign
nobleman with a system--watch him."
"Non, monsieur," said Kennedy quickly, having overheard the
remark, "no system, sir. There is only one system of which I
"What" asked DeLong eagerly.
Kennedy staked a large sum on the red to win. The black came up,
and he lost. He doubled the stake and played again, and again
lost. With amazing calmness Craig kept right on doubling.
"The martingale," I heard the man whisper behind me. "In other
words, double or quit."
Kennedy was now in for some hundreds, a sum that was sufficiently
large for him, but he doubled again, still cheerfully playing the
red, and the red won. As he gathered up his chips he rose.
"That's the only system," he said simply.
"But, go on, go on," came the chorus from about the table.
"No," said Kennedy quietly, "that is part of the system, too--to
quit when you have won back your stakes and a little more."
"Huh!" exclaimed DeLong in disgust. "Suppose you were in for some
thousands--you wouldn't quit. If you had real sporting blood you
wouldn't quit, anyhow!"
Kennedy calmly passed over the open insult, letting it be
understood that he ignored this beardless youth.
"There is no way you can beat the game in the long run if you
keep at it," he answered simply. "It is mathematically
impossible. Consider. We are Croesuses--we hire players to stake
money for us on every possible number at every coup. How do we
come out? If there are no '0' or '00,' we come out after each
coup precisely where we started--we are paying our own money back
and forth among ourselves; we have neither more nor less. But
with the '0' and '00' the bank sweeps the board every so often.
It is only a question of time when, after paying our money back
and forth among ourselves, it has all filtered through the '0'
and '00' into the bank. It is not a game of chance for the
bank--ah, it is exact, mathematical --c'est une question d'
arithmetique, seulement, nest-ce pas, messieurs?"
"Perhaps," admitted DeLong, "but it doesn't explain why I am
losing to-night while everyone else is winning."
"We are not winning;" persisted Craig. "After I have had a bite
to eat I will demonstrate how to lose--by keeping on playing." He
led the way to the cafe.
DeLong was too intent on the game to leave, even for
refreshments. Now and then I saw him beckon to an attendant, who
brought him a stiff drink of whiskey. For a moment his play
seemed a little better, then he would drop back into his hopeless
losing. For some reason or other his "system" failed absolutely.
"You see, he is hopeless," mused Kennedy over our light repast.
"And yet of all gambling games roulette offers the player the
best odds, far better than horse-racing, for instance. Our method
has usually been to outlaw roulette and permit horse racing; in
other words, suppress the more favourable and permit the less
favourable. However, we're doing better now; we're suppressing
both. Of course what I say applies only to roulette when it is
honestly played --DeLong would lose anyhow, I fear."
I started at Kennedy's tone and whispered hastily: "What do you
mean? Do you think the wheel is crooked?"
"I haven't a doubt of it," he replied in an undertone. "That run
of '17' might happen--yes. But it is improbable. They let me win
because I was a new player--new players always win at first. It
is proverbial, but the man who is running this game has made it
look like a platitude. To satisfy myself on that point I am going
to play again--until I have lost my winnings and am just square
with the game. When I reach the point that I am convinced that
some crooked work is going on I am going to try a little
experiment, Walter. I want you to stand close to me so that no
one can see what I am doing. Do just as I will indicate to you."
The gambling-room was now fast filling up with the first of the
theatre crowd. DeLong's table was the centre of attraction, owing
to the high play. A group of young men of his set were
commiserating with him on his luck and discussing it with the
finished air of roues of double their ages. He was doggedly
following his system.
Kennedy and I approached.
"Ah, here is the philosophical stranger again;" DeLong exclaimed,
catching sight of Kennedy. "Perhaps he can enlighten us on how to
win at roulette by playing his own system."
"Au contrarie, monsieur, let me demonstrate how to lose,"
answered Craig with a smile that showed a row of faultless teeth
beneath his black moustache, decidedly foreign.
Kennedy played and lost, and lost again; then he won, but in the
main he lost. After one particularly large loss I felt his arm on
mine, drawing me closely to him. DeLong had taken a sort of grim
pleasure in the fact that Kennedy, too, was losing. I found that
Craig had paused in his play at a moment when DeLong had staked a
large sum that a number below "18" would turn up--for five plays
the numbers had been between "18" and "36." Curious to see what
Craig was doing, I looked cautiously down between us. All eyes
were fixed on the wheel. Kennedy was holding an ordinary compass
in the crooked-up palm of his hand. The needle pointed at me, as
I happened to be standing north of it.
The wheel spun. Suddenly the needle swung around to a point
between the north and south poles, quivered a moment, and came to
rest in that position. Then it swung back to the north.
It was some seconds before I realised the significance of it. It
had pointed at the table--and DeLong had lost again. There was
some electric attachment at work.
Kennedy and I exchanged glances, and he shoved the compass into
my hand quickly. "You watch it, Walter, while I play," he
Carefully concealing it, as he had done, yet holding it as close
to the table as I dared I tried to follow two things at once
without betraying myself. As near as I could make out, something
happened at every play. I would not go so far as to assert that
whenever the larger stakes were on a certain number the needle
pointed to the opposite side of the wheel, for it was impossible
to be at all accurate about it. Once I noticed the needle did not
move at all, and he won. But an the next play he staked what I
knew must be the remainder of his winnings on what seemed a very
good chance. Even before the wheel was revolved and the ball set
rolling, the needle swung about, and when the platinum ball came
to rest Kennedy rose from the table, a loser.
"By George though," exclaimed DeLong, grasping his hand. "I take
it all back. You are a good loser, sir. I wish I could take it as
well as you do. But then, I'm in too deeply. There are too many
'markers' with the house up against me."
Senator Danfield had just come in to see how things were going.
He was a sleek, fat man, and it was amazing to see with what
deference his victims treated him. He affected not to have heard
what DeLong said, but I could imagine what he was thinking, for I
had heard that he had scant sympathy with anyone after he "went
broke"--another evidence of the camaraderie and good-fellowship
that surrounded the game.
Kennedy's neat remark surprised me. "Oh, your luck will change,
D. L.,"--everyone referred to him as "D. L.," for gambling-houses
have an aversion for real names and greatly prefer
initials--"your luck will change presently. Keep right on with
your system. It's the best you can do to-night, short of
"I'll never quit," replied the young man under his breath.
Meanwhile Kennedy and I paused on the way, out to compare notes.
My report of the behaviour of the compass only confirmed him in
As we turned to the stairs we took in a full view of the room. A
faro-layout was purchasing Senator Danfield a new touring-car
every hour at the expense of the players. Another group was
gathered about the hazard board, deriving evident excitement,
though I am sure none could have given an intelligent account of
the chances they were taking. Two roulette-tables were now going
full blast, the larger crowd still about DeLong's. Snatches of
conversation came to us now and then, and I caught one sentence,
"De Long's in for over a hundred thousand now on the week's play,
I understand; poor boy--that about cleans him up."
"The tragedy of it, Craig," I whispered, but he did not hear.
With his hat tilted at a rakish angle and his opera-coat over his
arm he sauntered over for a last look.
"Any luck yet?" he asked carelessly.
"The devil--no," returned the boy.
"Do you know what my advice to you is, the advice of a man who
has seen high play everywhere from Monte Carlo to Shanghai?"
"Play until your luck changes if it takes until to-morrow."
A supercilious smile crossed Senator Danfield's fat face.
"I intend to," and the haggard young face turned again to the
table and forgot us.
"For Heaven's sake, Kennedy," I gasped as we went down the
stairway, "what do you mean by giving him such advice--you?"
"Not so loud, Walter. He'd have done it anyhow, I suppose, but I
want him to keep at it. This night means life or death to
Percival DeLong and his mother, too. Come on, let's get out of
We passed the formidable steel door and gained the street,
jostled by the late-comers who had left the after-theatre
restaurants for a few moments of play at the famous club that so
long had defied the police.
Almost gaily Kennedy swung along toward Broadway. At the corner
he hesitated, glanced up and down, caught sight of the
furniture-van in the middle of the next block. The driver was
tugging at the harness of the horses, apparently fixing it. We
walked along and stopped beside it.
"Drive around in front of the Vesper Club slowly," said Kennedy
as the driver at last looked up.
The van lumbered ahead, and we followed it casually. Around the
corner it turned. We turned also. My heart was going like a
sledgehammer as the critical moment approached. My head was in a
whirl. What would that gay throng back of those darkened windows
down the street think if they knew what was being prepared for
On, like the Trojan horse, the van lumbered. A man went into the
Vesper Club, and I saw the negro at the door eye the oncoming van
suspiciously. The door banged shut.
The next thing I knew, Kennedy had ripped off his disguise, had
flung himself up behind the van, and had swung the doors open. A
dozen men with ages and sledge-hammers swarmed out and up the
steps of the club.
"Call the reserves, O'Connor," cried Kennedy. "Watch the roof and
the back yard."
The driver of the van hastened to send in the call.
The sharp raps of the hammers and the axes sounded on the thick
brass-bound oak of the outside door in quick succession. There
was a scurry of feet inside, and we could hear a grating noise
and a terrific jar as the inner, steel door shut.
"A raid! A raid on the Vesper Club!" shouted a belated passer-by.
The crowd swarmed around from Broadway, as if it were noon
instead of midnight.
Banging and ripping and tearing, the outer door was slowly
forced. As it crashed in, the quick gongs of several police
patrols sounded. The reserves had been called out at the proper
moment, too late for them to "tip off" the club that there was
going to be a raid, as frequently, occurs.
Disregarding the melee behind me, I leaped through the wreckage
with the other raiders. The steel door barred all further
progress with its cold blue impassibility. How were we to
surmount this last and most formidable barrier?
I turned in time to see Kennedy and O'Connor hurrying up the
steps with a huge tank studded with bolts like a boiler, while
two other men carried a second tank.
"There," ordered Craig, "set the oxygen there," as he placed his
own tank on the opposite side:
Out of the tanks stout tubes led, with stopcocks and gages at the
top. From a case under his arm Kennedy produced a curious
arrangement like a huge hook, with a curved neck and a sharp
beak. Really it consisted of two metal tubes which ran into a
sort of cylinder, or mixing chamber, above the nozzle, while
parallel to them ran a third separate tube with a second nozzle
of its own. Quickly he joined the ends of the tubes from the
tanks to the metal hook, the oxygen-tank being joined to two of
the tubes of the hook, and the second tank being joined to the
other. With a match he touched the nozzle gingerly. Instantly a
hissing, spitting noise followed, and an intense blinding needle
"Now for the oxy-acetylene blowpipe," cried Kennedy as he
advanced toward the steel door. "We'll make short work of this."
Almost as he said it, the steel beneath the blowpipe became
Just to test it, he cut off the head of a three-quarter-inch
steel rivet--taking about a quarter of a minute to do it. It was
evident, though, that that would not weaken the door appreciably,
even if the rivets were all driven through. Still they gave a
starting-point for the flame of the high-pressure acetylene
It was a brilliant sight. The terrific heat from the first nozzle
caused the metal to glow under the torch as if in an open-hearth
furnace. From the second nozzle issued a stream of oxygen under
which the hot metal of the door was completely consumed. The
force of the blast as the compressed oxygen and acetylene were
expelled carried a fine spray of the disintegrated metal visibly
before it. And yet it was not a big hole that it made--scarcely
an eighth of an inch wide, but clear and sharp as if a buzz-saw
were eating its way through a three-inch plank of white pine.
With tense muscles Kennedy held this terrific engine of
destruction and moved it as easily as if it had been a mere
pencil of light. He was easily the calmest of us all as we
crowded about him at a respectful distance.
"Acetylene, as you may know," he hastily explained, never pausing
for a moment in his work, "is composed of carbon and hydrogen. As
it burns at the end of the nozzle it is broken into carbon and
hydrogen--the carbon gives the high temperature, and the hydrogen
forms a cone that protects the end of the blowpipe from being
itself burnt up."
"But isn't it dangerous?" I asked, amazed at the skill with which
he handled the blowpipe.
"Not particularly--when you know how to do it. In that tank is a
porous asbestos packing saturated with acetone, under pressure.
Thus I can carry acetylene safely, for it is dissolved, and the
possibility of explosion is minimised. This mixing chamber by
which I am holding the torch, where the oxygen and acetylene mix,
is also designed in such a way as to prevent a flash-back. The
best thing about this style of blowpipe is the ease with which it
can be transported and the curious uses--like the present--to
which it can be put."
He paused a moment to test the door. All was silence on the other
side. The door itself was as firm as ever.
"Huh!" exclaimed one of the detectives behind me, "these
new-fangled things ain't all they're cracked up to be. Now if I
was runnin' this show, I'd dynamite that door to kingdom come."
"And wreck the house and kill a few people," I returned, hotly
resenting the criticism of Kennedy. Kennedy affected not to hear.
"When I shut off the oxygen in this second jet," he resumed as if
nothing had been said, "you see the torch merely heats the steel.
I can get a heat of approximately sixty-three hundred degrees
Fahrenheit, and the flame will exert a pressure of fifty pounds
to the square inch."
"Wonderful!" exclaimed O'Connor, who had not heard the remark of
his subordinate and was watching with undisguised admiration.
"Kennedy, how did you ever think of such a thing?"
"Why, it's used for welding, you know," answered Craig as he
continued to work calmly in the growing excitement: "I first saw
it in actual use in mending a cracked cylinder in an automobile.
The cylinder was repaired without being taken out at all. I've
seen it weld new teeth and build up old worn teeth on gearing, as
good as new."
He paused to let us see the terrifically heated metal under the
"You remember when we were talking on the drive about the raid,
O'Connor? A car-load of scrap-iron went by on the railroad below
us. They use this blowpipe to cut it up, frequently. That's what
gave me the idea. See. I turn on the oxygen now in this second
nozzle. The blowpipe is no longer an instrument for joining
metals together, but for cutting them asunder. The steel burns
just as you, perhaps, have seen a watch-spring burn in a jar of
oxygen. Steel, hard or soft, tempered, annealed, chrome, or
Harveyised, it all burns just as fast and just as easily. And
it's cheap too. This raid may cost a couple of dollars, as far as
the blowpipe is concerned--quite a difference from the thousands
of dollars' loss that would follow an attempt to blow the door
The last remark was directed quietly at the doubting detective.
He had nothing to say. We stood in awe-struck amazement as the
torch slowly, inexorably, traced a thin line along the edge of
Minute after minute sped by, as the line burned by the blowpipe
cut straight from top to bottom. It seemed hours to me. Was
Kennedy going to slit the whole door and let it fall in with a
No, I could see that even in his cursory examination of the door
he had gained a pretty good knowledge of the location of the
bolts imbedded in the steel. One after another he was cutting
clear through and severing them, as if with a superhuman knife.
What was going on on the other side of the door, I wondered. I
could scarcely imagine the consternation of the gamblers caught
in their own trap.
With a quick motion Kennedy turned off the acetylene and oxygen.
The last bolt had been severed. A gentle push of the hand, and he
swung the once impregnable door on its delicately poised hinges
as easily as if he had merely said, "Open Sesame." The robbers'
cave yawned before us.
We made a rush up the stairs. Kennedy was first, O'Connor next,
and myself scarcely a step behind, with the rest of O'Connor's
men at our heels.
I think we were all prepared for some sort of gun-play, for the
crooks were desperate characters, and I myself was surprised to
encounter nothing but physical force, which was quickly,
In the now disordered richness of the rooms, waving his "John
Doe" warrants in one hand and his pistol in the other, O'Connor
shouted "you're all under arrest, gentlemen. If you resist
further it will go hard with you."
Crowded now in one end of the room in speechless amazement was
the late gay party of gamblers, including Senator Danfield
himself. They had reckoned on toying with any chance but this.
The pale white face of DeLong among them was like a spectre, as
he stood staring blankly about and still insanely twisting the
roulette wheel before him.
Kennedy advanced toward the table with an ax which he had seized
from one of our men. A well-directed blow shattered the mechanism
of the delicate wheel.
"DeLong," he said, "I'm not going to talk to you like your old
professor at the university, nor like your recent friend, the
Frenchman with a system. This is what you have been up against,
my boy. Look."
His forefinger indicated an ingenious, but now tangled and
twisted, series of minute wires and electro-magnets in the broken
wheel before us. Delicate brushes led the current into the wheel.
With another blow of his axe, Craig disclosed wires running down
through the leg of the table to the floor and under the carpet to
buttons operated by the man who ran the game.
"Wh--what does it mean?" asked DeLong blankly.
"It means that you had little enough chance to win at a straight
game of roulette. But the wheel is very rarely straight, even
with all the odds in favour of the bank, as they are. This game
was electrically controlled." Others are mechanically controlled
by what is sometimes called the 'mule's ear,' and other devices.
You can't win. These wires and magnets can be made to attract the
little ball into any pocket the operator desires. Each one of
those pockets contains a little electro-magnet. One set of
magnets in the red pockets is connected with one button under the
carpet and a battery. The other set in the black pockets is
connected with another button and the battery. This ball is not
really of platinum. Platinum is nonmagnetic. It is simply a soft
iron hollow ball, plated with platinum. Whichever set of
electro-magnets is energised attracts the ball and by this simple
method it is in the power of the operator to let the ball go to
red or black as he may wish. Other similar arrangements control
the odd or even, and other combinations from other push buttons.
A special arrangement took care of that '17' freak. There isn't
an honest gambling-machine in the whole place --I might almost
say the whole city. The whole thing is crooked from start to
finish--the men, the machines, the--"
"That machine could be made to beat me by turning up a run of
'17' any number of times, or red or black, or odd or even, over
'18' or under '18,' or anything?"
"And I never had a chance," he repeated, meditatively fingering
the wires. "They broke me to-night. Danfield"--DeLong turned,
looking dazedly about in the crowd for his former friend, then
his hand shot into his pocket, and a little ivory-handled pistol
flashed out--"Danfield, your blood is on your own head. You have
Kennedy must have been expecting something of the sort, for he
seized the arm of the young man, weakened by dissipation, and
turned the pistol upward as if it had been in the grasp of a mere
A blinding flash followed in the farthest corner of the room and
a huge puff of smoke. Before I could collect my wits another
followed in the opposite corner. The room was filled with a dense
Two men were scuffing at my feet. One was Kennedy. As I dropped
down quickly to help him I saw that the other was Danfield, his
face purple with the violence of the struggle.
"Don't be alarmed, gentlemen," I heard O'Connor shout, "the
explosions were only the flashlights of the official police
photographers. We now have the evidence complete. Gentlemen, you
will now go down quietly to the patrol-wagons below, two by two.
If you have anything to say, say it to the magistrate of the
"Hold his arms, Walter," panted Kennedy.
I did. With a dexterity that would bane done credit to a
pickpocket, Kennedy reached into Danfield's pocket and pulled out
Before the smoke had cleared and order had been restored, Craig
exclaimed: "Let him up, Walter. Here, DeLong, here are the
I.O.U.'s against you. Tear them up--they are not even a debt of