Part 5 out of 6
aroused by the Inspector's shouting, and was evidently greatly
perturbed. His usual dignified air was marred by a patent alarm.
"What's all this?" he exclaimed, as he halted and stared
doubtfully on the scene before him.
Burke, in a moment like this, was no respecter of persons, for
all his judicious attentions on other occasions to those whose
influence might serve him well for benefits received.
"You can see for yourself," he said grimly to the dumfounded
magnate. Then, he fixed sinister eyes on the son. "So," he went
on, with somber menace in his voice, "you did it, young man." He
nodded toward the detective. "Well, Cassidy, you can take 'em
both down-town.... That's all."
The command aroused Dick to remonstrance against such indignity
toward the woman whom he loved.
"Not her!" he cried, imploringly. "You don't want her,
Inspector! This is all wrong!"
Now, at last, Mary interposed with a new spirit. She had
regained, in some measure at least, her poise. She was speaking
again with that mental clarity which was distinctive in her.
"Dick," she advised quietly, but with underlying urgency in her
gently spoken words, "don't talk, please."
Burke laughed harshly.
"What do you expect?" he inquired truculently. "As a matter of
fact, the thing's simple enough, young man. Either you killed
Griggs, or she did."
The Inspector, with his charge, made a careless gesture toward
the corpse of the murdered stool-pigeon. For the first time,
Edward Gilder, as his glance unconsciously followed the officer's
movement, looked and saw the ghastly inanimate heap of flesh and
bone that had once been a man. He fairly reeled at the gruesome
spectacle, then fumbled with an outstretched hand as he moved
stumblingly until he laid hold on a chair, into which he sank
helplessly. It suddenly smote upon his consciousness that he
felt very old and broken. He marveled dully over the
sensation--it was wholly new to him. Then, soon, from a long way
off, he heard the strident voice of the Inspector remorselessly
continuing in the vile, the impossible accusation.... And that
grotesque accusation was hurled against his only son--the boy
whom he so loved. The thing was monstrous, a thing incredible.
This whole seeming was no more than a chimera of the night, a
phantom of bad dreams, with no truth under it.... Yet, the stern
voice of the official came with a strange semblance of reality.
"Either you killed him," the voice repeated gratingly, "or she
did. Well, then, young man, did she kill him?"
"Good God, no!" Dick shouted, aghast.
"Then, it was you!" Such was the Inspector's summary of the case.
Mary's words came frantically. Once again, she was become
desperate over the course of events in this night of fearful
"No, no! He didn't!"
Burke's rasping voice reiterated the accusation with a certain
complacency in the inevitability of the dilemma.
"One of you killed Griggs. Which one of you did it?" He scowled
at Dick. "Did she kill him?"
Again, the husband's cry came with the fierceness of despair over
the fate of the woman.
"I told you, no!"
The Inspector, always savagely impressive now in voice and look
and gesture, faced the girl with saturnine persistence.
"Well, then," he blustered, "did he kill him?"
The nod of his head was toward Dick. Then, as she remained
silent: "I'm talking to you!" he snapped. "Did he kill him?"
The reply came with a soft distinctness that was like a crash of
Dick turned to his wife in reproachful amazement.
"Mary!" he cried, incredulously. This betrayal was something
inconceivable from her, since he believed that now at last he
knew her heart.
Burke, however, as usual, paid no heed to the niceties of
sentiment. They had small place in his concerns as an official
of police. His sole ambition just now was to fix the crime
definitely on the perpetrator.
"You'll swear he killed him?" he asked, briskly, well content
with this concrete result of the entanglement.
Mary subtly evaded the question, while seeming to give
"Why not?" she responded listlessly.
At this intolerable assertion as he deemed it, Edward Gilder was
reanimated. He sat rigidly erect in his, chair. In that
frightful moment, it came to him anew that here was in verity the
last detail in a consummate scheme by this woman for revenge
"God!" he cried, despairingly. "And that's your vengeance!"
Mary heard, and understood. There came an inscrutable smile on
her curving lips, but there was no satisfaction in that smile, as
of one who realized the fruition of long-cherished schemes of
retribution. Instead, there was only an infinite sadness, while
she spoke very gently.
"I don't want vengeance--now!" she said.
"But they'll try my boy for murder," the magnate remonstrated,
"Oh, no, they can't!" came the rejoinder. And now, once again,
there was a hint of the quizzical creeping in the smile. "No,
they can't!" she repeated firmly, and there was profound relief
in her tones since at last her ingenuity had found a way out of
this outrageous situation thrust on her and on her husband.
Burke glared at the speaker in a rage that was abruptly grown
suspicious in some vague way.
"What's the reason we can't?" he stormed.
Mary sprang to her feet. She was radiant with a new serenity,
now that her quick-wittedness had discovered a method for
baffling the mesh of evidence that had been woven about her and
Dick through no fault of their own. Her eyes were glowing with
even more than their usual lusters. Her voice came softly
modulated, almost mocking.
"Because you couldn't convict him," she said succinctly. A
contented smile bent the red graces of her lips.
Burke sneered an indignation that was, nevertheless, somewhat
fearful of what might lie behind the woman's assurance.
"What's the reason?" he demanded, scornfully. "There's the
body." He pointed to the rigid form of the dead man, lying there
so very near them. "And the gun was found on him. And then,
you're willing to swear that he killed him.... Well, I guess
we'll convict him, all right. Why not?"
Mary's answer was given quietly, but, none the less, with an
assurance that could not be gainsaid.
"Because," she said, "my husband merely killed a burglar." In
her turn, she pointed toward the body of the dead man. "That
man," she continued evenly, "was the burglar. You know that! My
husband shot him in defense of his home!" There was a brief
silence. Then, she added, with a wonderful mildness in the music
of her voice. "And so, Inspector, as you know of course, he was
within the law!"
CHAPTER XX. WHO SHOT GRIGGS?
In his office next morning, Inspector Burke was fuming over the
failure of his conspiracy. He had hoped through this plot to
vindicate his authority, so sadly flaunted by Garson and Mary
Turner. Instead of this much-to-be-desired result from his
scheming, the outcome had been nothing less than disastrous. The
one certain fact was that his most valuable ally in his warfare
against the criminals of the city had been done to death. Some
one had murdered Griggs, the stool-pigeon. Where Burke had meant
to serve a man of high influence, Edward Gilder, by railroading
the bride of the magnate's son to prison, he had succeeded only
in making the trouble of that merchant prince vastly worse in the
ending of the affair by arresting the son for the capital crime
of murder. The situation was, in very truth, intolerable. More
than ever, Burke grew hot with intent to overcome the woman who
had so persistently outraged his authority by her ingenious
devices against the law. Anyhow, the murder of Griggs could not
go unpunished. The slayer's identity must be determined, and
thereafter the due penalty of the law inflicted, whoever the
guilty person might prove to be. To the discovery of this
identity, the Inspector was at the present moment devoting
himself by adroit questioning of Dacey and Chicago Red, who had
been arrested in one of their accustomed haunts by his men a
short time before.
The policeman on duty at the door was the only other person in
the room, and in consequence Burke permitted himself, quite
unashamed, to employ those methods of persuasion which have risen
to a high degree of admiration in police circles.
"Come across now!" he admonished. His voice rolled forth like
that of a bull of Bashan. He was on his feet, facing the two
thieves. His head was thrust forward menacingly, and his eyes
were savage. The two men shrank before him--both in natural
fear, and, too, in a furtive policy of their own. This was no
occasion for them to assert a personal pride against the man who
had them in his toils.
"I don't know nothin'!" Chicago Red's voice was between a snarl
and a whine. "Ain't I been telling you that for over an hour?"
Burke vouchsafed no answer in speech, but with a nimbleness
surprising in one of his bulk, gave Dacey, who chanced to be the
nearer of the two, a shove that sent the fellow staggering
half-way across the room under its impetus.
With this by way of appreciable introduction to his seriousness
of purpose, Burke put a question:
"Dacey, how long have you been out?"
The answer came in a sibilant whisper of dread.
Burke pushed the implication brutally.
"Want to go back for another stretch?" The Inspector's voice was
freighted with suggestions of disasters to come, which were well
understood by the cringing wretch before him.
The thief shuddered, and his face, already pallid from the prison
lack of sunlight like some noxious growth of a cellar, became
livid. His words came in a muffled moan of fear.
Burke left a little interval of silence then in which the thieves
might tremble over the prospect suggested by his words, but
always he maintained his steady, relentless glare on the cowed
creatures. It was a familiar warfare with him. Yet, in this
instance, he was destined to failure, for the men were of a type
different from that of English Eddie, who was lying dead as the
meet reward for treachery to his fellows.... When, at last, his
question issued from the close-shut lips, it came like the crack
of a gun.
"Who shot Griggs?"
The reply was a chorus from the two:
"I don't know--honest, I don't!"
In his eagerness, Chicago Red moved toward his
"Honest to Gawd, I don't know nothin' about it!"
The Inspector's fist shot out toward Chicago Red's jaw. The
impact was enough. The thief went to his knees under the blow.
"Now, get up--and talk!" Burke's voice came with unrepentant
noisiness against the stricken man.
Cringingly, Chicago Red, who so gloried in his strength, yet was
now altogether humble in this precarious case, obeyed as far as
the getting to his feet was concerned.... It never occurred to
him even that he should carry his obedience to the point of
"squealing on a pal!" Had the circumstances been different, he
might have refused to accept the Inspector's blow with such
meekness, since above all things he loved a bit of bodily strife
with some one near his own strength, and the Inspector was of a
sort to offer him a battle worth while.
So, now, while he got slowly to his feet, he took care to keep at
a respectful distance from the official, though his big hands
fairly ached to double into fists for blows with this man who had
so maltreated him.
His own self-respect, of its peculiar sort, was saved by the
interference of Cassidy, who entered the Inspector's office to
announce the arrival of the District Attorney.
"Send 'im in," Burke directed at once. He made a gesture toward
the doorman, and added: "Take 'em back!"
A grin of evil humor writhed the lips of the police official, and
he added to the attentive doorman a word of direction that might
well be interpreted by the malevolent expression on his face.
"Don't be rough with 'em, Dan," he said. For once, his
dominating voice was reduced to something approaching softness,
in his sardonic appreciation of his own humor in the conception
of what these two men, who had ventured to resist his
importunities, might receive at the hands of his faithful
satellites.... The doorman grinned appreciatively, and herded his
victims from the place. And the two went shamblingly in sure
knowledge of the things that were in store. Yet, without thought
of treachery. They would not "squeal"! All they would tell of
the death of Eddie Griggs would be: "He got what was coming to
The Inspector dropped into his swivel chair at the desk whilst he
awaited the arrival of Demarest, the District Attorney. The
greetings between the two were cordial when at last the public
prosecutor made his appearance.
"I came as soon as I got your message," the District Attorney
said, as he seated himself in a chair by the desk. "And I've
sent word to Mr. Gilder.... Now, then, Burke, let's have this
The Inspector's explanation was concise:
"Joe Garson, Chicago Red, and Dacey, along with Griggs, broke
into Edward Gilder's house, last night! I knew the trick was
going to be pulled off, and so I planted Cassidy and a couple of
other men just outside the room where the haul was to be made.
Then, I went away, and after something like half an hour I came
back to make the arrests myself." A look of intense disgust
spread itself over the Inspector's massive face. "Well," he
concluded sheepishly, "when I broke into the room I found young
Gilder along with that Turner woman he married, and they were
just talking together."
"No trace of the others?" Demarest questioned crisply.
At the inquiry, Burke's face crimsoned angrily, then again set in
"I found Griggs lying on the floor--dead!" Once again the disgust
showed in his expression. "The Turner woman says young Gilder
shot Griggs because he broke into the house. Ain't that the
"What does the boy say?" the District Attorney demanded.
Burke shook his head dispiritedly.
"Nothing," he answered. "She told him not to talk, and so, of
course, he won't, he's such a fool over her."
"And what does she say?" Demarest asked. He found himself
rather amused by the exceeding chagrin of the Inspector over this
Burke's voice grew savage as he snapped a reply.
"Refuses to talk till she sees a lawyer. But a touch of
cheerfulness appeared in his tones as he proceeded. "We've got
Chicago Red and Dacey, and we'll have Garson before the day's
over. And, oh, yes, they've picked up a young girl at the Turner
woman's place. And we've got one real clue--for once!" The
speaker's expression was suddenly triumphant. He opened a drawer
of the desk, and took out Garson's pistol, to which the silencer
was still attached.
"You never saw a gun like that before, eh?" he exclaimed.
Demarest admitted the fact after a curious examination.
"I'll bet you never did!" Burke cried, with satisfaction. "That
thing on the end is a Maxim silencer. There are thousands of them
in use on rifles, but they've never been able to use them on
revolvers before. This is a specially made gun," he went on
admiringly, as he took it back and slipped it into a pocket of
his coat. "That thing is absolutely noiseless. I've tried it.
Well, you see, it'll be an easy thing--easiest thing in the
world!--to trace that silencer attachment. Cassidy's working on
that end of the thing now."
For a few minutes longer, the two men discussed the details of
the crime, theorizing over the baffling event. Then, presently,
Cassidy entered the office, and made report of his investigations
concerning the pistol with the silencer attachment.
"I got the factory at Hartford on the wire," he explained, "and
they gave me Mr. Maxim himself, the inventor of the silencer. He
said this was surely a special gun, which was made for the use of
Henry Sylvester, one of the professors at Yale. He wanted it for
demonstration purposes. Mr. Maxim said the things have never
been put on the market, and that they never will be."
"For humane reasons," Demarest commented, nodding approbation.
"Good thing, too!" Burke conceded. "They'd make murder too
devilish easy, and it's easy enough now.... Well, Cassidy?"
"I got hold of this man, Sylvester," Cassidy went on. "I had him
on the 'phone, too. He says that his house was robbed about
eight weeks ago, and among other things the silencer was stolen."
Cassidy paused, and chuckled drily. "He adds the startling
information that the New Haven police have not been able to
recover any of the stolen property. Them rube cops are immense!"
Demarest smiled slyly, as the detective, at a nod from his
superior, went toward the door.
"No," he said, maliciously; "only the New York police recover
"Good-night!" quoth Cassidy, turning at the door, in admission of
his discomfiture over the thrust, while Burke himself grinned
wryly in appreciation of the gibe.
Demarest grew grave again, as he put the question that was
troubling him most.
"Is there any chance that young Gilder did shoot Griggs?"
"You can search me!" the Inspector answered, disconsolately. "My
men were just outside the door of the room where Eddie Griggs was
shot to death, and none of 'em heard a sound. It's that infernal
silencer thing. Of course, I know that all the gang was in the
"But tell me just how you know that fact," Demarest objected very
crisply. "Did you see them go in?"
"No, I didn't," the Inspector admitted, tartly. "But Griggs----"
Demarest permitted himself a sneer born of legal knowledge.
"Griggs is dead, Burke. You're up against it. You can't prove
that Garson, or Chicago Red, or Dacey, ever entered that house."
The Inspector scowled over this positive statement.
"But Griggs said they were going to," he argued.
"I know," Demarest agreed, with an exasperating air of
shrewdness; "but Griggs is dead. You see, Burke, you couldn't in
a trial even repeat what he told you. It's not permissible
"Oh, the law!" the Inspector snorted, with much choler. "Well,
then," he went on belligerently, "I'll charge young Gilder with
murder, and call the Turner woman as a witness."
The District Attorney laughed aloud over this project.
"You can't question her on the witness-stand," he explained
patronizingly to the badgered police official. "The law doesn't
allow you to make a wife testify against her husband. And,
what's more, you can't arrest her, and then force her to go into
the witness-stand, either. No, Burke," he concluded
emphatically, "your only chance of getting the murderer of Griggs
is by a confession."
"Then, I'll charge them both with the murder," the Inspector
growled vindictively. "And, by God, they'll both go to trial
unless somebody comes through." He brought his huge fist down on
the desk with violence, and his voice was forbidding. "If it's
my last act on earth," he declared, "I'm going to get the man who
shot Eddie Griggs."
Demarest was seriously disturbed by the situation that had
developed. He was under great personal obligations to Edward
Gilder, whose influence in fact had been the prime cause of his
success in attaining to the important official position he now
held, and he would have gone far to serve the magnate in any
difficulty that might arise. He had been perfectly willing to
employ all the resources of his office to relieve the son from
the entanglement with a woman of unsavory notoriety. Now, thanks
to the miscarried plotting of Burke to the like end, what before
had been merely a vicious state of affairs was become one of the
utmost dreadfulness. The worst of crimes had been committed in
the house of Edward Gilder himself, and his son acknowledged
himself as the murderer. The District Attorney felt a genuine
sorrow in thinking of the anguish this event must have brought on
the father. He had, as well, sympathy enough for the son. His
acquaintance with the young man convinced him that the boy had
not done the deed of bloody violence. In that fact was a
mingling of comfort and of anxiety. It had been better,
doubtless, if indeed Dick had shot Griggs, had indicted a just
penalty on a housebreaker. But the District Attorney was not
inclined to credit the confession. Burke's account of the plot
in which the stool-pigeon had been the agent offered too many
complications. Altogether, the aspect of the case served to
indicate that Dick could not have been the slayer.... Demarest
shook his head dejectedly.
"Burke," he said, "I want the boy to go free. I don't believe
for a minute that Dick Gilder ever killed this pet stool-pigeon
of yours. And, so, you must understand this: I want him to go
free, of course."
Burke frowned refusal at this suggestion. Here was a matter in
which his rights must not be invaded. He, too, would have gone
far to serve a man of Edward Gilder's standing, but in this
instance his professional pride was in revolt. He had been
defied, trapped, made a victim of the gang who had killed his
most valued informer.
"The youngster'll go free when he tells what he knows," he said
angrily, "and not a minute before." His expression lightened a
little. "Perhaps the old gentleman can make him talk. I can't.
He's under that woman's thumb, of course, and she's told him he
mustn't say a word. So, he don't." A grin of half-embarrassed
appreciation moved the heavy jaws as he glanced at the District
Attorney. "You see," he explained, "I can't make him talk, but I
might if circumstances were different. On account of his being
the old man's son, I'm a little cramped in my style."
It was, in truth, one thing to browbeat and assault a convict
like Dacey or Chicago Red, but quite another to employ the like
violence against a youth of Dick Gilder's position in the world.
Demarest understood perfectly, but he was inclined to be
sceptical over the Inspector's theory that Dick possessed actual
cognizance as to the killing of Griggs.
"You think that young Gilder really knows?" he questioned,
"I don't think anything--yet!" Burke retorted. "All I know is
this: Eddie Griggs, the most valuable crook that ever worked for
me, has been murdered." The official's voice was charged with
threatening as he went on. "And some one, man or woman, is going
to pay for it!"
"Woman?" Demarest repeated, in some astonishment.
Burke's voice came merciless.
"I mean, Mary Turner," he said slowly.
Demarest was shocked.
"But, Burke," he expostulated, "she's not that sort." The
Inspector sneered openly.
"How do you know she ain't?" he demanded. "Well, anyhow, she's
made a monkey out of the Police Department, and, first, last, and
all the time, I'm a copper. . . And that reminds me," he went
on with a resumption of his usual curt bluntness, "I want you to
wait for Mr. Gilder outside, while I get busy with the girl
they've brought down from Mary Turner's flat."
CHAPTER XXI. AGGIE AT BAY.
Burke, after the lawyer had left him, watched the door
expectantly for the coming of the girl, whom he had ordered
brought before him. But, when at last Dan appeared, and stood
aside to permit her passing into the office, the Inspector gasped
at the unexpectedness of the vision. He had anticipated the
coming of a woman of that world with which he was most familiar
in the exercise of his professional duties--the underworld of
criminals, some one beautiful perhaps, but with the brand of
viciousness marked subtly, yet visibly for the trained eye to
see. Then, even in that first moment, he told himself that he
should have been prepared for the unusual in this instance, since
the girl had to do with Mary Turner, and that disturbing person
herself showed in face and form and manner nothing to suggest
aught but a gentlewoman. And, in the next instant, the Inspector
forgot his surprise in a sincere, almost ardent admiration.
The girl was rather short, but of a slender elegance of form that
was ravishing. She was gowned, too, with a chic nicety to arouse
the envy of all less-fortunate women. Her costume had about it
an indubitable air, a finality of perfection in its kind. On
another, it might have appeared perhaps the merest trifle garish.
But that fault, if in fact it ever existed, was made into a
virtue by the correcting innocence of the girl's face. It was a
childish face, childish in the exquisite smoothness of the soft,
pink skin, childish in the wondering stare of the blue eyes, now
so widely opened in dismay, childish in the wistful drooping of
the rosebud mouth.
The girl advanced slowly, with a laggard hesitation in her
movements obviously from fear. She approached the desk, from
behind which the Inspector watched, fascinated by the fresh and
wholesome beauty of this young creature. He failed to observe
the underlying anger beneath the girl's outward display of alarm.
He shook off his first impression by means of a resort to his
customary bluster in such cases.
"Now, then, my girl," he said roughly, "I want to know----"
There came a change, wrought in the twinkling of an eye. The
tiny, trimly shod foot of the girl rose and fell in a wrathful
"How dare you!" The clear blue eyes were become darkened with
anger. There was a deepened leaf of red in either cheek. The
drooping lips drooped no longer, but were bent to a haughtiness
that was finely impressive.
Before the offended indignation of the young woman, Burke sat
bewildered by embarrassment for once in his life, and quite at a
"What's that?" he said, dubiously.
The girl explained the matter explicitly enough.
"What do you mean by this outrage?" she stormed. Her voice was
low and rich, with a charming roundness that seemed the very
hallmark of gentility. But, now, it was surcharged with an
indignant amazement over the indignity put upon her by the
representatives of the law. Then, abruptly, the blue eyes were
softened in their fires, as by the sudden nearness of tears.
"What do you mean?" the girl repeated. Her slim form was tense
with wrath. "I demand my instant release." There was
indescribable rebuke in her slow emphasis of the words.
Burke was impressed in spite of himself, in spite of his
accustomed cold indifference to the feelings of others as
necessity compelled him to make investigation of them. His
harsh, blustering voice softened perceptibly, and he spoke in a
wheedling tone, such as one might employ in the effort to
tranquillize a spoiled child in a fit of temper.
"Wait a minute," he remonstrated. "Wait a minute!" He made a
pacifically courteous gesture toward one of the chairs, which
stood by an end of the desk. "Sit down," he invited, with an
effort toward cajoling.
The scorn of the girl was superb. Her voice came icily, as she
"I shall do nothing of the sort. Sit down, indeed!--here! Why, I
have been arrested----" There came a break in the music of her
tones throbbing resentment. A little sob crept in, and broke the
sequence of words. The dainty face was vivid with shame. "I--"
she faltered, "I've been arrested--by a common policeman!"
The Inspector seized on the one flaw left him for defense against
"No, no, miss," he argued, earnestly. "Excuse me. It wasn't any
common policeman--it was a detective sergeant."
But his effort to placate was quite in vain. The ingenuous
little beauty with the child's face and the blue eyes so widely
opened fairly panted in her revolt against the ignominy of her
position, and was not to be so easily appeased. Her voice came
vibrant with disdain. Her level gaze on the Inspector was of a
sort to suggest to him anxieties over possible complications
"You wait!" she cried violently. "You just wait, I tell you,
until my papa hears of this!"
Burke regarded the furious girl doubtfully.
"Who is your papa?" he asked, with a bit of alarm stirring in
his breast, for he had no mind to offend any one of importance
where there was no need.
"I sha'n't tell you," came the petulant retort from the girl.
Her ivory forehead was wrinkled charmingly in a little frown of
obstinacy. "Why," she went on, displaying new symptoms of
distress over another appalling idea that flashed on her in this
moment, "you would probably give my name to the reporters." Once
again the rosebud mouth drooped into curves of sorrow, of a great
self-pity. "If it ever got into the newspapers, my family would
die of shame!"
The pathos of her fear pierced through the hardened crust of the
police official. He spoke apologetically.
"Now, the easiest way out for both of us," he suggested, "is for
you to tell me just who you are. You see, young lady, you were
found in the house of a notorious crook."
The haughtiness of the girl waxed. It seemed as if she grew an
inch taller in her scorn of the Inspector's saying.
"How perfectly absurd!" she exclaimed, scathingly. "I was calling
on Miss Mary Turner!"
"How did you come to meet her, anyhow?" Burke inquired. He
still held his big voice to a softer modulation than that to
which it was habituated.
Yet, the disdain of the girl seemed only to increase momently.
She showed plainly that she regarded this brass-buttoned official
as one unbearably insolent in his demeanor toward her.
Nevertheless, she condescended to reply, with an exaggeration of
the aristocratic drawl to indicate her displeasure.
"I was introduced to Miss Turner," she explained, "by Mr. Richard
Gilder. Perhaps you have heard of his father, the owner of the
"Oh, yes, I've heard of his father, and of him, too," Burke
But the girl relaxed not a whit in her attitude of offense.
"Then," she went on severely, "you must see at once that you are
entirely mistaken in this matter." Her blue eyes widened further
as she stared accusingly at the Inspector, who betrayed evidences
of perplexity, and hesitated for an answer. Then, the doll-like,
charming face took on a softer look, which had in it a suggestion
"Don't you see it?" she demanded.
"Well, no," Burke rejoined uneasily; "not exactly, I don't!" In
the presence of this delicate and graceful femininity, he
experienced a sudden, novel distaste for his usual sledge-hammer
methods of attack in interrogation. Yet, his duty required that
he should continue his questioning. He found himself in fact
between the devil and the deep sea--though this particular devil
appeared rather as an angel of light.
Now, at his somewhat feeble remark in reply to her query, the
childish face grew as hard as its curving contours would permit.
"Sir!" she cried indignantly. Her little head was thrown back in
scornful reproof, and she turned a shoulder toward the official
"Now, now!" Burke exclaimed in remonstrance. After all, he could
not be brutal with this guileless maiden. He must, however, make
the situation clear to her, lest she think him a beast--which
would never do!
"You see, young lady," he went on with a gentleness of voice and
manner that would have been inconceivable to Dacey and Chicago
Red; "you see, the fact is that, even if you were introduced to
this Mary Turner by young Mr. Gilder, this same Mary Turner
herself is an ex-convict, and she's just been arrested for
At the dread word, a startling change was wrought in the girl.
She wheeled to face the Inspector, her slender body swaying a
little toward him. The rather heavy brows were lifted slightly
in a disbelieving stare. The red lips were parted, rounded to a
"Murder!" she gasped; and then was silent.
"Yes," Burke went on, wholly at ease now, since he had broken the
ice thus effectually. "You see, if there's a mistake about you,
you don't want it to go any further --not a mite further, that's
sure. So, you see, now, that's one of the reasons why I must
know just who you are." Then, in his turn, Burke put the query
that the girl had put to him a little while before. "You see
that, don't you?"
"Oh, yes, yes!" was the instant agreement. "You should have told
me all about this horrid thing in the first place." Now, the
girl's manner was transformed. She smiled wistfully on the
Inspector, and the glance of the blue eyes was very kind, subtly
alluring. Yet in this unbending, there appeared even more
decisively than hitherto the fine qualities in bearing of one
delicately nurtured. She sank down in a chair by the desk, and
forthwith spoke with a simplicity that in itself was somehow
peculiarly potent in its effect on the official who gave
"My name is Helen Travers West," she announced.
Burke started a little in his seat, and regarded the speaker with
a new deference as he heard that name uttered.
"Not the daughter of the railway president?" he inquired.
"Yes," the girl admitted. Then, anew, she displayed a serious
agitation over the thought of any possible publicity in this
"Oh, please, don't tell any one," she begged prettily. The blue
eyes were very imploring, beguiling, too. The timid smile that
wreathed the tiny mouth was marvelously winning. The neatly
gloved little hands were held outstretched, clasped in
supplication. "Surely, sir, you see now quite plainly why it
must never be known by any one in all the wide, wide world that I
have ever been brought to this perfectly dreadful place--though
you have been quite nice!" Her voice dropped to a note of musical
prayerfulness. The words were spoken very softly and very
slowly, with intonations difficult for a man to deny. "Please
let me go home." She plucked a minute handkerchief from her
handbag, put it to her eyes, and began to sob quietly.
The burly Inspector of Police was moved to quick sympathy.
Really, when all was said and done, it was a shame that one like
her should by some freak of fate have become involved in the
sordid, vicious things that his profession made it obligatory on
him to investigate. There was a considerable hint of the paternal
in his air as he made an attempt to offer consolation to the
"That's all right, little lady," he exclaimed cheerfully. "Now,
don't you be worried--not a little bit. Take it from me, Miss
West.... Just go ahead, and tell me all you know about this
Turner woman. Did you see her yesterday?"
The girl's sobs ceased. After a final dab with the minute
handkerchief, she leaned forward a little toward the Inspector,
and proceeded to put a question to him with great eagerness.
"Will you let me go home as soon as I've told you the teensy
little I know?"
"Yes," Burke agreed promptly, with an encouraging smile. And for
a good measure of reassurance, he added as one might to an
alarmed child: "No one is going to hurt you, young lady."
"Well, then, you see, it was this way," began the brisk
explanation. "Mr. Gilder was calling on me one afternoon, and he
said to me then that he knew a very charming young woman,
Here the speech ended abruptly, and once again the handkerchief
was brought into play as the sobbing broke forth with increased
violence. Presently, the girl's voice rose in a wail.
"Oh, this is dreadful--dreadful!" In the final word, the wail
broke to a moan.
Burke felt himself vaguely guilty as the cause of such suffering
on the part of one so young, so fair, so innocent. As a culprit,
he sought his best to afford a measure of soothing for this grief
that had had its source in his performance of duty.
"That's all right, little lady," he urged in a voice as nearly
mellifluous as he could contrive with its mighty volume. "That's
all right. I have to keep on telling you. Nobody's going to
hurt you--not a little bit. Believe me! Why, nobody ever would
want to hurt you!"
But his well-meant attempt to assuage the stricken creature's wo
was futile. The sobbing continued. With it came a plaintive
cry, many times repeated, softly, but very miserably.
"Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"
"Isn't there something else you can tell me about this woman?"
Burke inquired in desperation before the plaintive outburst. He
hoped to distract her from such grief over her predicament.
The girl gave no least heed to the question.
"Oh, I'm so frightened!" she gasped.
"Tut, tut!" the Inspector chided. "Now, I tell you there's
nothing at all for you to be afraid of."
"I'm afraid!" the girl asserted dismally. "I'm afraid you
will--put me--in a cell!" Her voice sank to a murmur hardly
audible as she spoke the words so fraught with dread import to
one of her refined sensibilities.
"Pooh!" Burke returned, gallantly. "Why, my dear young lady,
nobody in the world could think of you and a cell at the same
Instantly, the girl responded to this bald flattery. She fairly
radiated appreciation of the compliment, as she turned her eyes,
dewy with tears, on the somewhat flustered Inspector.
"Oh, thank you!" she exclaimed, with naive enjoyment.
Forthwith, Burke set out to make the most of this favorable
"Are you sure you've told me all you know about this woman?" he
"Oh, yes! I've only seen her two or three times," came the ready
response. The voice changed to supplication, and again the
clasped hands were extended beseechingly.
"Oh, please, Commissioner! Won't you let me go home?"
The use of a title higher than his own flattered the Inspector,
and he was moved to graciousness. Besides, it was obvious that
his police net in this instance had enmeshed only the most
harmless of doves. He smiled encouragingly.
"Well, now, little lady," he said, almost tenderly, "if I let you
go now, will you promise to let me know if you are able to think
of anything else about this Turner woman?"
"I will--indeed, I will!" came the fervent assurance. There was
something almost--quite provocative in the flash of gratitude
that shone forth from the blue eyes of the girl in that moment of
her superlative relief. It moved Burke to a desire for
rehabilitation in her estimation.
"Now, you see," he went on in his heavy voice, yet very kindly,
and with a sort of massive playfulness in his manner," no one has
hurt you--not even a little bit, after all. Now, you run right
home to your mother."
The girl did not need to be told twice. On the instant, she
sprang up joyously, and started toward the door, with a final
ravishing smile for the pleased official at the desk.
"I'll go just as fast as ever I can," the musical voice made
"Give my compliments to your father," Burke requested
courteously. "And tell him I'm sorry I frightened you."
The girl turned at the door.... After all, too great haste might
"I will, Commissioner," she promised, with an arch smile. "And I
know papa will be so grateful to you for all your kindness to
It was at this critical moment that Cassidy entered from the
opposite side of the office. As his eyes fell on the girl at the
door across from him, his stolid face lighted in a grin. And, in
that same instant of recognition between the two, the color went
out of the girl's face. The little red lips snapped together in
a line of supreme disgust against this vicissitude of fate after
all her manoeuverings in the face of the enemy. She stood
motionless in wordless dismay, impotent before this disaster
forced on her by untoward chance.
"Hello, Aggie!" the detective remarked, with a smirk, while the
Inspector stared from one to the other with rounded eyes of
wonder, and his jaw dropped from the stark surprise of this new
The girl returned deliberately to the chair she had occupied
through the interview with the Inspector, and dropped into it
weakly. Her form rested there limply now, and the blue eyes
stared disconsolately at the blank wall before her. She realized
that fate had decreed defeat for her in the game. It was after a
minute of silence in which the two men sat staring that at last
she spoke with a savage wrath against the pit into which she had
fallen after her arduous efforts.
"Ain't that the damnedest luck!"
For a little interval still, Burke turned his glances from the
girl to Cassidy, and then back again to the girl, who sat
immobile with her blue eyes steadfastly fixed on the wall. The
police official was, in truth, totally bewildered. Here was
inexplicable mystery. Finally, he addressed the detective curtly.
"Cassidy, do you know this woman?"
"Sure, I do!" came the placid answer. He went on to explain with
the direct brevity of his kind. "She's little Aggie Lynch--con'
woman, from Buffalo--two years for blackmail--did her time at
With this succinct narrative concerning the girl who sat mute and
motionless in the chair with her eyes fast on the wall, Cassidy
relapsed into silence, during which he stared rather perplexedly
at his chief, who seemed to be in the throes of unusual emotion.
As the detective expressed it in his own vernacular: For the
first time in his experience, the Inspector appeared to be
For a little time, there was silence, the while Burke sat staring
at the averted face of the girl. His expression was that of one
who has just undergone a soul-stirring shock. Then, presently,
he set his features grimly, rose from his chair, and walked to a
position directly in the front of the girl, who still refused to
look in his direction.
"Young woman----" he began, severely. Then, of a sudden he
laughed. "You picked the right business, all right, all right!"
he said, with a certain enthusiasm. He laughed aloud until his
eyes were only slits, and his ample paunch trembled vehemently.
"Well," he went on, at last, "I certainly have to hand it to you,
kid. You're a beaut'!"
Aggie sniffed vehemently in rebuke of the gross partiality of
fate in his behalf.
"Just as I had him goin'!" she said bitterly, as if in
self-communion, without shifting her gaze from the blank surface
of the wall.
Now, however, Burke was reminded once again of his official
duties, and he turned quickly to the attentive Cassidy.
"Have you got a picture of this young woman?" he asked
brusquely. And when Cassidy had replied in the negative, he
again faced the adventuress with a mocking grin--in which
mockery, too, was a fair fragment for himself, who had been so
thoroughly within her toils of blandishment.
"I'd dearly love to have a photograph of you, Miss Helen Travers
West," he said.
The speech aroused the stolid detective to a new interest.
"Helen Travers West?" he repeated, inquiringly.
"Oh, that's the name she told me," the Inspector explained,
somewhat shamefacedly before this question from his inferior.
Then he chuckled, for he had sense of humor sufficient to triumph
even over his own discomfiture in this encounter. "And she had
me winging, too!" he confessed. "Yes, I admit it." He turned to
the girl admiringly. "You sure are immense, little one
--immense!" He smiled somewhat more in his official manner of
mastery. "And now, may I have the honor of asking you to accept
the escort of Mr. Cassidy to our gallery."
Aggie sprang to her feet and regarded the Inspector with eyes in
which was now no innocence, such as had beguiled him so recently
from those ingenuous orbs.
"Oh, can that stuff!" she cried, crossly. "Let's get down to
business on the dot--and no frills on it! Keep to cases!"
"Now you're talking," Burke declared, with a new appreciation of
the versatility of this woman--who had not been wasting her time
hitherto, and had no wish to lose it now.
"You can't do anything to us," Aggie declared, strongly. There
remained no trace of the shrinking violet that had been Miss
Helen Travers West. Now, she revealed merely the business woman
engaged in a fight against the law, which was opposed definitely
to her peculiar form of business.
"You can't do anything to me, and you know you can't!" she went
on, with an almost convincing tranquillity of assertion. "Why,
I'll be sprung inside an hour." There came a ripple of laughter
that reminded the Inspector of the fashion in which he had been
overcome by this woman's wiles. And she spoke with a certitude
of conviction that was rather terrifying to one who had just
fallen under the stress of her spells.
"Why, habeas corpus is my lawyer's middle name!"
"On the level, now," the Inspector demanded, quite unmoved by the
final declarations, "when did you see Mary Turner last?"
Aggie resorted anew to her practices of deception. Her voice held
the accents of unimpeachable truth, and her eyes looked
unflinchingly into those of her questioner as she answered.
"Early this morning," she declared. "We slept together last
night, because I had the willies. She blew the joint about
Burke shook his head, more in sorrow than in anger.
"What's the use of your lying to me?" he remonstrated.
"What, me?" Aggie clamored, with every evidence of being deeply
wounded by the charge against her veracity. "Oh, I wouldn't do
anything like that--on the level! What would be the use? I
couldn't fool you, Commissioner."
Burke stroked his chin sheepishly, under the influence of
memories of Miss Helen Travers West.
"So help me," Aggie continued with the utmost solemnity, "Mary
never left the house all night. I'd swear that's the truth on a
pile of Bibles a mile high!"
"Have to be higher than that," the Inspector commented, grimly.
"You see, Aggie Lynch, Mary Turner was arrested just after
midnight." His voice deepened and came blustering. "Young
woman, you'd better tell all you know."
"I don't know a thing!" Aggie retorted, sharply. She faced the
Inspector fiercely, quite unabashed by the fact that her vigorous
offer to commit perjury had been of no avail.
Burke, with a quick movement, drew the pistol from his pocket and
extended it toward the girl.
"How long has she owned this gun?" he said, threateningly.
Aggie showed no trace of emotion as her glance ran over the
"She didn't own it," was her firm answer.
"Oh, then it's Garson's!" Burke exclaimed.
"I don't know whose it is," Aggie replied, with an air of boredom
well calculated to deceive. "I never laid eyes on it till now."
The Inspector's tone abruptly took on a somber coloring, with an
"English Eddie was killed with this gun last night," he said.
"Now, who did it?" His broad face was sinister. "Come on, now!
Who did it?"
Aggie became flippant, seemingly unimpressed by the Inspector's
"How should I know?" she drawled. "What do you think I am--a
"You'd better come through," Burke reiterated. Then his manner
changed to wheedling. "If you're the wise kid I think you are,
Aggie waxed very petulant over this insistence.
"I tell you, I don't know anything! Say, what are you trying to
hand me, anyway?"
Burke scowled on the girl portentously, and shook his head.
"Now, it won't do, I tell you, Aggie Lynch. I'm wise. You
listen to me." Once more his manner turned to the cajoling.
"You tell me what you know, and I'll see you make a clean
get-away, and I'll slip you a nice little piece of money, too."
The girl's face changed with startling swiftness. She regarded
the Inspector shrewdly, a crafty glint in her eyes.
"Let me get this straight," she said. "If I tell you what I know
about Mary Turner and Joe Garson, I get away?"
"Clean!" Burke ejaculated, eagerly.
"And you'll slip me some coin, too?"
"That's it!" came the hasty assurance. "Now, what do you say?"
The small figure grew tense. The delicate, childish face was
suddenly distorted with rage, a rage black and venomous. The
blue eyes were blazing. The voice came thin and piercing.
"I say, you're a great big stiff! What do you think I am?" she
stormed at the discomfited Inspector, while Cassidy looked on in
some enjoyment at beholding his superior being worsted. Aggie
wheeled on the detective. "Say, take me out of here," she cried
in a voice surcharged with disgust. "I'd rather be in the cooler
than here with him!"
Now Burke's tone was dangerous.
"You'll tell," he growled, "or you'll go up the river for a
"I don't know anything," the girl retorted, spiritedly And, if I
did, I wouldn't tell--not in a million years!" She thrust her
head forward challengingly as she faced the Inspector, and her
expression was resolute. "Now, then," she ended, "send me up--if
"Take her away," Burke snapped to the detective.
Aggie went toward Cassidy without any sign of reluctance.
"Yes, do, please!" she exclaimed with a sneer. "And do it in a
hurry. Being in the room with him makes me sick! She turned to
stare at the Inspector with eyes that were very clear and very
hard. In this moment, there was nothing childish in their gaze.
"Thought I'd squeal, did you?" she said, evenly. Yes, I
will"--the red lips bent to a smile of supreme scorn--"like
CHAPTER XXII. THE TRAP THAT FAILED.
Burke, despite his quality of heaviness, was blest with a keen
sense of humor, against which at times his professional labors
strove mutinously. In the present instance, he had failed
utterly to obtain any information of value from the girl whom he
had just been examining. On the contrary, he had been befooled
outrageously by a female criminal, in a manner to wound deeply
his professional pride. Nevertheless, he bore no grudge against
the adventuress. His sense of the absurd served him well, and he
took a lively enjoyment in recalling the method by which her
plausible wiles had beguiled him. He gave her a real respect for
the adroitness with which she had deceived him--and he was not
one to be readily deceived. So, now, as the scornful maiden went
out of the door under the escort of Cassidy, Burke bowed
gallantly to her lithe back, and blew a kiss from his thick
fingertips, in mocking reverence for her as an artist in her way.
Then, he seated himself, pressed the desk call-button, and, when
he had learned that Edward Gilder was arrived, ordered that the
magnate and the District Attorney be admitted, and that the son,
also, be sent up from his cell.
"It's a bad business, sir," Burke said, with hearty sympathy, to
the shaken father, after the formal greetings that followed the
entrance of the two men. "It's a very bad business."
"What does he say?" Gilder questioned. There was something
pitiful in the distress of this man, usually so strong and so
certain of his course. Now, he was hesitant in his movements,
and his mellow voice came more weakly than its wont. There was a
pathetic pleading in the dulled eyes with which he regarded the
"Nothing!" Burke answered. "That's why I sent for you. I
suppose Mr. Demarest has made the situation plain to you."
Gilder nodded, his face miserable.
"Yes," he has explained it to me," he said in a lifeless voice.
"It's a terrible position for my boy. But you'll release him at
once, won't you?" Though he strove to put confidence into his
words, his painful doubt was manifest.
"I can't," Burke replied, reluctantly, but bluntly. "You ought
not to expect it, Mr. Gilder."
"But," came the protest, delivered with much more spirit, "you
know very well that he didn't do it!"
Burke shook his head emphatically in denial of the allegation.
"I don't know anything about it--yet," he contradicted.
The face of the magnate went white with fear.
"Inspector," he cried brokenly, "you--don't mean--"
Burke answered with entire candor.
"I mean, Mr. Gilder, that you've got to make him talk. That's
what I want you to do, for all our sakes. Will you?"
"I'll do my best," the unhappy man replied, forlornly.
A minute later, Dick, in charge of an officer, was brought into
the room. He was pale, a little disheveled from his hours in a
cell. He still wore his evening clothes of the night before.
His face showed clearly the deepened lines, graven by the
suffering to which he had been subjected, but there was no
weakness in his expression. Instead, a new force that love and
sorrow had brought out in his character was plainly visible. The
strength of his nature was springing to full life under the
stimulus of the ordeal through which he was passing.
The father went forward quickly, and caught Dick's hands in a
"My boy!" he murmured, huskily. Then, he made a great effort,
and controlled his emotion to some extent. "The Inspector tells
me," he went on, "that you've refused to talk--to answer his
Dick, too, winced under the pain of this meeting with his father
in a situation so sinister. But he was, to some degree,
apathetic from over-much misery. Now, in reply to his father's
words, he only nodded a quiet assent.
"That wasn't wise under the circumstances," the father
remonstrated hurriedly. "However, now, Demarest and I are here
to protect your interests, so that you can talk freely." He went
on with a little catch of anxiety in his voice. "Now, Dick, tell
us! Who killed that man? We must know. Tell me."
Burke broke in impatiently, with his blustering fashion of
"Where did you get----?"
But Demarest raised a restraining hand.
"Wait, please!" he admonished the Inspector. "You wait a bit."
He went a step toward the young man. "Give the boy a chance," he
said, and his voice was very friendly as he went on speaking.
"Dick, I don't want to frighten you, but your position is really
a dangerous one. Your only chance is to speak with perfect
frankness. I pledge you my word, I'm telling the truth, Dick."
There was profound concern in the lawyer's thin face, and his
voice, trained to oratorical arts, was emotionally persuasive.
"Dick, my boy, I want you to forget that I'm the District
Attorney, and remember only that I'm an old friend of yours, and
of your father's, who is trying very hard to help you. Surely,
you can trust me. Now, Dick, tell me: Who shot Griggs?"
There came a long pause. Burke's face was avid with desire for
knowledge, with the keen expectancy of the hunter on the trail,
which was characteristic of him in his professional work. The
District Attorney himself was less vitally eager, but his
curiosity, as well as his wish to escape from an embarrassing
situation, showed openly on his alert countenance. The heavy
features of the father were twisting a little in nervous spasms,
for to him this hour was all anguish, since his only son was in
such horrible plight. Dick alone seemed almost tranquil, though
the outward calm was belied by the flickering of his eyelids and
the occasional involuntary movement of the lips. Finally he
spoke, in a cold, weary voice.
"I shot Griggs," he said.
Demarest realized subtly that his plea had failed, but he made ar
effort to resist the impression, to take the admission at its
"Why?" he demanded.
Dick's answer came in the like unmeaning tones, and as wearily.
"Because I thought he was a burglar."
The District Attorney was beginning to feel his professional
pride aroused against this young man who so flagrantly repelled
his attempts to learn the truth concerning the crime that had
been committed. He resorted to familiar artifices for entangling
"Oh, I see!" he said, in a tone of conviction. "Now, let's go
back a little. Burke says you told him last night that you had
persuaded your wife to come over to the house, and join you
there. Is that right?"
"Yes." The monosyllable was uttered indifferently. "And,
while the two of you were talking," Demarest continued in a
matter-of-fact manner. He did not conclude the sentence, but
asked instead: "Now, tell me, Dick, just what did happen, won't
There was no reply; and, after a little interval, the lawyer
resumed his questioning.
"Did this burglar come into the room?"
Dick nodded an assent.
"And he attacked you?"
There came another nod of affirmation.
"And there was a struggle?"
"Yes," Dick said, and now there was resolution in his answer.
"And you shot him?" Demarest asked, smoothly.
"Yes," the young man said again.
"Then," the lawyer countered on the instant, "where did you get
Dick started to answer without thought:
"Why, I grabbed it----" Then, the significance of this crashed on
his consciousness, and he checked the words trembling on his
lips. His eyes, which had been downcast, lifted and glared on
the questioner. "So," he said with swift hostility in his voice,
"so, you're trying to trap me, too!" He shrugged his shoulders in
a way he had learned abroad. "You! And you talk of friendship.
I want none of such friendship."
Demarest, greatly disconcerted, was skilled, nevertheless, in
dissembling, and he hid his chagrin perfectly. There was only
reproach in his voice as he answered stoutly:
"I am your friend, Dick."
But Burke would be no longer restrained. He had listened with
increasing impatience to the diplomatic efforts of the District
Attorney, which had ended in total rout. Now, he insisted on
employing his own more drastic, and, as he believed, more
efficacious, methods. He stood up, and spoke in his most
"You don't want to take us for fools, young man," he said, and
his big tones rumbled harshly through the room. "If you shot
Griggs in mistake for a burglar, why did you try to hide the
fact? Why did you pretend to me that you and your wife were
alone in the room--when you had *THAT there with you, eh? Why
didn't you call for help? Why didn't you call for the police, as
any honest man would naturally under such circumstances?"
The arraignment was severely logical. Dick showed his
appreciation of the justice of it in the whitening of his face,
nor did he try to answer the charges thus hurled at him.
The father, too, appreciated the gravity of the situation. His
face was working, as if toward tears.
"We're trying to save you," he pleaded, tremulously.
Burke persisted in his vehement system of attack. Now, he again
brought out the weapon that had done Eddie Griggs to death.
"Where'd you get this gun?" he shouted.
Dick held his tranquil pose.
"I won't talk any more," he answered, simply. "I must see my
wife first." His voice became more aggressive. "I want to know
what you've done to her."
Burke seized on this opening.
"Did she kill Griggs?" he questioned, roughly.
For once, Dick was startled out of his calm.
"No, no!" he cried, desperately.
Burke followed up his advantage.
"Then, who did?" he demanded, sharply. "Who did?"
Now, however, the young man had regained his self-control. He
answered very quietly, but with an air of finality.
"I won't say any more until I've talked with a lawyer whom I can
trust." He shot a vindictive glance toward Demarest.
The father intervened with a piteous eagerness.
"Dick, if you know who killed this man, you must speak to protect
Burke's voice came viciously.
"The gun was found on you. Don't forget that."
"You don't seem to realize the position you're in," the father
insisted, despairingly. "Think of me, Dick, my boy. If you
won't speak for your own sake, do it for mine."
The face of the young man softened as he met his father's
"I'm sorry, Dad," he said, very gently. "But I--well, I can't!"
Again, Burke interposed. His busy brain was working out a new
scheme for solving this irritating problem.
"I'm going to give him a little more time to think things over,"
he said, curtly. He went back to his chair. "Perhaps he'll get
to understand the importance of what we've been saying pretty
soon." He scowled at Dick. "Now, young man," he went on briskly,
"you want to do a lot of quick thinking, and a lot of honest
thinking, and, when you're ready to tell the truth, let me know."
He pressed the button on his desk, and, as the doorman appeared,
addressed that functionary.
"Dan, have one of the men take him back. You wait outside."
Dick, however, did not move. His voice came with a note of
"I want to know about my wife. Where is she?"
Burke disregarded the question as completely as if it had not
been uttered, and went on speaking to the doorman with a
suggestion in his words that was effective.
"He's not to speak to any one, you understand." Then he
condescended to give his attention to the prisoner. "You'll know
all about your wife, young man, when you make up your mind to
tell me the truth."
Dick gave no heed to the Inspector's statement. His eyes were
fixed on his father, and there was a great tenderness in their
depths. And he spoke very softly:
"Dad, I'm sorry!"
The father's gaze met the son's, and the eyes of the two locked.
There was no other word spoken. Dick turned, and followed his
custodian out of the office in silence. Even after the shutting
of the door behind the prisoner, the pause endured for some
Then, at last, Burke spoke to the magnate.
"You see, Mr. Gilder, what we're up against. I can't let him
The father strode across the room in a sudden access of rage.
"He's thinking of that woman," he cried out, in a loud voice.
"He's trying to shield her."
"He's a loyal kid, at that," Burke commented, with a grudging
admiration. "I'll say that much for him." His expression grew
morose, as again he pressed the button on his desk. "And now,"
he vouchsafed, "I'll show you the difference." Then, as the
doorman reappeared, he gave his order: "Dan, have the Turner
woman brought up." He regarded the two men with his bristling
brows pulled down in a scowl. "I'll have to try a different game
with her," he said, thoughtfully. "She sure is one clever little
dame. But, if she didn't do it herself, she knows who did, all
right." Again, Burke's voice took on its savage note. "And some
one's got to pay for killing Griggs. I don't have to explain why
to Mr. Demarest, but to you, Mr. Gilder. You see, it's this way:
The very foundations of the work done by this department rest on
the use of crooks, who are willing to betray their pals for coin.
I told you a bit about it last night. Now, you understand, if
Griggs's murder goes unpunished, it'll put the fear of God into
the heart of every stool-pigeon we employ. And then where'd we
be? Tell me that!"
The Inspector next called his stenographer, and gave explicit
directions. At the back of the room, behind the desk, were three
large windows, which opened on a corridor, and across this was a
tier of cells. The stenographer was to take his seat in this
corridor, just outside one of the windows. Over the windows, the
shades were drawn, so that he would remain invisible to any one
within the office, while yet easily able to overhear every word
spoken in the room.
When he had completed his instructions to the stenographer, Burke
turned to Gilder and Demarest.
"Now, this time," he said energetically, "I'll be the one to do
the talking. And get this: Whatever you hear me say, don't you
be surprised. Remember, we're dealing with crooks, and, when
you're dealing with crooks, you have to use crooked ways."
There was a brief period of silence. Then, the door opened, and
Mary Turner entered the office. She walked slowly forward,
moving with the smooth strength and grace that were the proof of
perfect health and of perfect poise, the correlation of mind and
body in exactness. Her form, clearly revealed by the clinging
evening dress, was a curving group of graces. The beauty of her
face was enhanced, rather than lessened, by the pallor of it, for
the fading of the richer colors gave to the fine features an
expression more spiritual, made plainer the underlying qualities
that her accustomed brilliance might half-conceal. She paid
absolutely no attention to the other two in the room, but went
straight to the desk, and there halted, gazing with her softly
penetrant eyes of deepest violet into the face of the Inspector.
Under that intent scrutiny, Burke felt a challenge, set himself
to match craft with craft. He was not likely to undervalue the
wits of one who had so often flouted him, who, even now, had
placed him in a preposterous predicament by this entanglement
over the death of a spy. But he was resolved to use his best
skill to disarm her sophistication. His large voice was
modulated to kindliness as he spoke in a casual manner.
"I just sent for you to tell you that you're free."
Mary regarded the speaker with an impenetrable expression. Her
tones as she spoke were quite as matter-of-fact as his own had
been. In them was no wonder, no exultation.
"Then, I can go," she said, simply.
"Sure, you can go," Burke replied, amiably.
Without any delay, yet without any haste, Mary glanced toward
Gilder and Demarest, who were watching the scene closely. Her
eyes were somehow appraising, but altogether indifferent. Then,
she went toward the outer door of the office, still with that
almost lackadaisical air.
Burke waited rather impatiently until she had nearly reached the
door before he shot his bolt, with a fine assumption of
carelessness in the announcement.
"Garson has confessed!"
Mary, who readily enough had already guessed the essential
hypocrisy of all this play, turned and confronted the Inspector,
and answered without the least trace of fear, but with the
firmness of knowledge:
"Oh, no, he hasn't!"
Her attitude exasperated Burke. His voice roared out wrathfully.
"What's the reason he hasn't?"
The music in the tones of the answer was a vocal rebuke.
"Because he didn't do it." She stated the fact as one without a
hint of any contradictory possibility.
"Well, he says he did it!" Burke vociferated, still more loudly.
Mary, in her turn, resorted to a bit of finesse, in order to
learn whether or not Garson had been arrested. She spoke with a
trace of indignation.
"But how could he have done it, when he went----" she began.
The Inspector fell a victim to her superior craft. His question
"Where did he go?"
Mary smiled for the first time since she had been in the room,
and in that smile the Inspector realized his defeat in the first
passage of this game of intrigue between them.
"You ought to know," she said, sedately, "since you have arrested
him, and he has confessed."
Demarest put up a hand to conceal his smile over the police
official's chagrin. Gilder, staring always at this woman who had
come to be his Nemesis, was marveling over the beauty and verve
of the one so hating him as to plan the ruin of his life and his
Burke was frantic over being worsted thus. To gain a diversion,
he reverted to his familiar bullying tactics. His question burst
raspingly. It was a question that had come to be constant within
his brain during the last few hours, one that obsessed him, that
fretted him sorely, almost beyond endurance.
"Who shot Griggs?" he shouted.
Mary rested serene in the presence of this violence. Her answer
capped the climax of the officer's exasperation.
"My husband shot a burglar," she said, languidly. And then her
insolence reached its culmination in a query of her own: "Was his
name Griggs?" It was done with splendid art, with a splendid
mastery of her own emotions, for, even as she spoke the words,
she was remembering those shuddering seconds when she had stood,
only a few hours ago, gazing down at the inert bulk that had been
Burke betook himself to another form of attack.
"Oh, you know better than that," he declared, truculently. "You
see, we've traced the Maxim silencer. Garson himself bought it up
For the first time, Mary was caught off her guard.
"But he told me----" she began, then became aware of her
indiscretion, and checked herself.
Burke seized on her lapse with avidity.
"What did he tell you?" he questioned, eagerly.
Now, Mary had regained her self-command, and she spoke calmly.
"He told me," she said, without a particle of hesitation, "that
he had never seen one. Surely, if he had had anything of the
sort, he would have shown it to me then."
"Probably he did, too!" Burke rejoined, without the least
suspicion that his surly utterance touched the truth exactly.
"Now, see here," he went on, trying to make his voice affable,
though with small success, for he was excessively irritated by
these repeated failures; "I can make it a lot easier for you if
you'll talk. Come on, now! Who killed Griggs?"
Mary cast off pretense finally, and spoke malignantly.
"That's for you to find out," she said, sneering.
Burke pressed the button on the desk, and, when the doorman
appeared, ordered that the prisoner be returned to her cell.
But Mary stood rebellious, and spoke with a resumption of her
"I suppose," she said, with a glance of contempt toward Demarest,
"that it's useless for me to claim my constitutional rights, and
demand to see a lawyer?"
Burke, too, had cast off pretense at last.
"Yes," he agreed, with an evil smirk, "you've guessed it right,
the first time."
Mary spoke to the District Attorney.
"I believe," she said, with a new dignity of bearing, "that such
is my constitutional right, is it not, Mr. Demarest?"
The lawyer sought no evasion of the issue. For that matter, he
was coming to have an increasing respect, even admiration, for
this young woman, who endured insult and ignominy with a spirit
so sturdy, and met strategem with other strategem better devised.
So, now, he made his answer with frank honesty.
"It is your constitutional right, Miss Turner."
Mary turned her clear eyes on the Inspector, and awaited from
that official a reply that was not forthcoming. Truth to tell,
Burke was far from comfortable under that survey.
"Well, Inspector?" she inquired, at last.
Burke took refuge, as his wont was when too hard pressed, in a
"The Constitution don't go here!" It was the best he could do,
and it shamed him, for he knew its weakness. Again, wrath surged
in him, and it surged high. He welcomed the advent of Cassidy,
who came hurrying in with a grin of satisfaction on his stolid
"Say, Chief," the detective said with animation, in response to
Burke's glance of inquiry, "we've got Garson."
Mary's face fell, though the change of expression was almost
imperceptible. Only Demarest, a student of much experience,
observed the fleeting display of repressed emotion. When the
Inspector took thought to look at her, she was as impassive as
before. Yet, he was minded to try another ruse in his desire to
defeat the intelligence of this woman. To this end, he asked
Gilder and the District Attorney to withdraw, while he should
have a private conversation with the prisoner. As she listened to
his request, Mary smiled again in sphinx-like fashion, and there
was still on her lips an expression that caused the official a
pang of doubt, when, at last, the two were left alone together,
and he darted a surreptitious glance toward her. Nevertheless,
he pressed on his device valiantly.
"Now," he said, with a marked softening of manner, "I'm going to
be your friend."
"Are you?" Mary's tone was non-committal.
"Yes," Burke declared, heartily. "And I mean it! Give up the
truth about young Gilder. I know he shot Griggs, of course. But
I'm not taking any stock in that burglar story--not a little bit!
No court would, either. What was really back of the killing?"
Burke's eyes narrowed cunningly. "Was he jealous of Griggs?
Well, that's what he might do then. He's always been a worthless
young cub. A rotten deal like this would be about his gait, I
guess.... Tell me, now: Why did he shoot Eddie Griggs?"
There was coarseness a-plenty in the Inspector's pretense, but it
possessed a solitary fundamental virtue: it played on the heart
of the woman whom he questioned, aroused it to wrath in defense
of her mate. In a second, all poise fled from this girl whose
soul was blossoming in the blest realization that a man loved her
purely, unselfishly. Her words came stumblingly in their haste.
Her eyes were near to black in their anger.
"He didn't kill him! He didn't kill him!" she fairly hissed.
"Why, he's the most wonderful man in the world. You shan't hurt
him! Nobody shall hurt him! I'll fight to the end of my life for
Burke was beaming joyously. At last--a long last! --his finesse
had won the victory over this woman's subtleties.
"Well, that's just what I thought," he said, with smug content.
"And now, then, who did shoot Griggs? We've got every one of the
gang. They're all crooks. See here," he went on, with a sudden
change to the respectful in his manner, "why don't you start
fresh? I'll give you every chance in the world. I'm dead on the
level with you this time."
But he was too late. By now, Mary had herself well in hand
again, vastly ashamed of the short period of self-betrayal caused
by the official's artifice against her heart. As she listened to
the Inspector's assurances, the mocking expression of her face
was not encouraging to that astute individual, but he persevered
"Just you wait," he went on cheerfully, "and I'll prove to you
that I'm on the level about this, that I'm really your friend....
There was a letter came for you to your apartment. My men
brought it down to me. I've read it. Here it is. I'll read it
He picked up an envelope, which had been lying on the desk, and
drew out the single sheet of paper it contained. Mary watched
him, wondering much more than her expression revealed over this
new development. Then, as she listened, quick interest touched
her features to a new life. In her eyes leaped emotions to make
or mar a life.
This was the letter:
"I can't go without telling you how sorry I am. There won't
never be a time that I won't remember it was me got you sent up,
that you did time in my place. I ain't going to forgive myself
ever, and I swear I'm going straight always.
"Your true friend, "HELEN
For once, Burke showed a certain delicacy. When he had finished
the reading, he said nothing for a long minute--only, sat with
his cunning eyes on the face of the woman who was immobile there
before him. And, as he looked on her in her slender elegance of
form and gentlewomanly loveliness of face, a loveliness
intelligent and refined beyond that of most women, he felt borne
in on his consciousness the fact that here was one to be
respected. He fought against the impression. It was to him
preposterous, for she was one of that underworld against which he
was ruthlessly at war. Yet, he could not altogether overcome his
instinct toward a half-reverent admiration.... And, as the letter
proved, she had been innocent at the outset. She had been the
victim of a mistaken justice, made outcast by the law she had
never wronged.... His mood of respect was inevitable, since he
had some sensibilities, though they were coarsened, and they
sensed vaguely the maelstrom of emotions that now swirled in the
To Mary Turner, this was the wonderful hour. In it, the
vindication of her innocence was made complete. The story was
there recorded in black and white on the page written by Helen
Morris. It mattered little--or infinitely much!--that it came
too late. She had gained her evil place in the world, was a
notorious woman in fact, was even now a prisoner under suspicion
of murder. Nevertheless, she felt a thrill of ecstasy over this
written document--which it had never occurred to her to wrest
from the girl at the time of the oral confession. Now that it had
been proffered, the value of it loomed above almost all things
else in the world. It proclaimed undeniably the wrong under
which she had suffered. She was not the thief the court had
adjudged her. Now, there's nobody here but just you and me. Come
on, now--put me wise!"
Mary was again the resourceful woman who was glad to pit her
brain against the contriving of those who fought her. So, at
this moment, she seemed pliant to the will of the man who urged
her thus cunningly. Her quick glance around the office was of a
sort to delude the Inspector into a belief that she was yielding
to his lure.
"Are you sure no one will ever know?" she asked, timorously.
"Nobody but you and me," Burke declared, all agog with
anticipation of victory at last. "I give you my word!"
Mary met the gaze of the Inspector fully. In the same instant,
she flashed on him a smile that was dazzling, the smile of a
woman triumphant in her mastery of the situation. Her face was
radiant, luminous with honest mirth. There was something simple
and genuine in her beauty that thrilled the man before her, the
man trying so vindictively to trap her to her own undoing. For
all his grossness, Burke was of shrewd perceptions, and
somewhere, half-submerged under the sordid nature of his calling,
was a love of things esthetic, a responsiveness to the appeals of
beauty. Now, as his glance searched the face of the girl who was
bubbling with mirth, he experienced an odd warming of his heart
under the spell of her loveliness--a loveliness wholly feminine,
pervasive, wholesome. But, too, his soul shook in a premonition
of catastrophe, for there was mischief in the beaming eyes of
softest violet. There was a demon of mockery playing in the
curves of the scarlet lips, as she smiled so winsomely.
All his apprehensions were verified by her utterance. It came in
a most casual voice, despite the dancing delight in her face.
The tones were drawled in the matter-of-fact fashion of statement
that leads a listener to answer without heed to the exact import
of the question, unless very alert, indeed.... This is what she
said in that so-casual voice:
"I'm not speaking loud enough, am I, stenographer?"
And that industrious writer of shorthand notes, absorbed in his
task, answered instantly from his hidden place in the corridor.
"No, ma'am, not quite."
Mary laughed aloud, while Burke sat dumfounded. She rose swiftly,
and went to the nearest window, and with a pull at the cord sent
the shade flying upward. For seconds, there was revealed the busy
stenographer, bent over his pad. Then, the noise of the
ascending shade, which had been hammering on his consciousness,
penetrated, and he looked up. Realization came, as he beheld the
woman laughing at him through the window. Consternation beset
him. He knew that, somehow, he had bungled fatally. A groan of
distress burst from him, and he fled the place in ignominious
There was another whose spirit was equally desirous of
flight--Burke! Yet once again, he was beaten at his own game, his
cunning made of no avail against the clever interpretation of
this woman whom he assailed. He had no defense to offer. He did
not care to meet her gaze just then, since he was learning to
respect her as one wronged, where he had regarded her hitherto
merely as of the flotsam and jetsam of the criminal class. So, he
avoided her eyes as she stood by the window regarding him
quizzically. In a panic of confusion quite new to him in his
years of experience, he pressed the button on his desk.
The doorman appeared with that automatic precision which made him
valuable in his position, and the Inspector hailed the ready
presence with a feeling of profound relief.
"Dan, take her back!" he said, feebly.
Mary was smiling still as she went to the door. But she could
not resist the impulse toward retort.
"Oh, yes," she said, suavely; "you were right on the level with
me, weren't you, Burke? Nobody here but you and me!" The words
came in a sing-song of mockery.
The Inspector had nothing in the way of answer--only, sat
motionless until the door closed after her. Then, left alone, his
sole audible comment was a single word--one he had learned,
perhaps, from Aggie Lynch:
CHAPTER XXIII. THE CONFESSION.
Burke was a persistent man, and he had set himself to getting the
murderer of Griggs. Foiled in his efforts thus far by the
opposition of Mary, he now gave himself over to careful thought
as to a means of procedure that might offer the best
possibilities of success. His beetling brows were drawn in a
frown of perplexity for a full quarter of an hour, while he
rested motionless in his chair, an unlighted cigar between his
lips. Then, at last, his face cleared; a grin of satisfaction
twisted his heavy mouth, and he smote the desk joyously.
"It's a cinch it'll get 'im!" he rumbled, in glee.
He pressed the button-call, and ordered the doorman to send in
Cassidy. When the detective appeared a minute later, he went
directly to his subject with a straightforward energy usual to
him in his work.
"Does Garson know we've arrested the Turner girl and young
Gilder?" And, when he had been answered in the negative: "Or
that we've got Chicago Red and Dacey here?"
"No," Cassidy replied. "He hasn't been spoken to since we made
the collar.... He seems worried," the detective volunteered.
Burke's broad jowls shook from the force with which he snapped
his jaws together.
"He'll be more worried before I get through with him!" he
growled. He regarded Cassidy speculatively. "Do you remember the
Third Degree Inspector Burns worked on McGloin? Well," he went
on, as the detective nodded assent, "that's what I'm going to do
to Garson. He's got imagination, that crook! The things he don't
know about are the things he's afraid of. After he gets in here,
I want you to take his pals one after the other, and lock them up
in the cells there in the corridor. The shades on the corridor
windows here will be up, and Garson will see them taken in. The
fact of their being there will set his imagination to working
overtime, all right."
Burke reflected for a moment, and then issued the final
directions for the execution of his latest plot.
"When you get the buzzer from me, you have young Gilder and the
Turner woman sent in. Then, after a while, you'll get another
buzzer. When you hear that, come right in here, and tell me that
the gang has squealed. I'll do the rest. Bring Garson here in
just five minutes.... Tell Dan to come in."
As the detective went out, the doorman promptly entered, and
thereat Burke proceeded with the further instructions necessary
to the carrying out of his scheme.
"Take the chairs out of the office, Dan," he directed, "except
mine and one other--that one!" He indicated a chair standing a
little way from one end of his desk. "Now, have all the shades
up." He chuckled as he added: "That Turner woman saved you the
trouble with one."
As the doorman went out after having fulfilled these commands,
the Inspector lighted the cigar which he had retained still in
his mouth, and then seated himself in the chair that was set
partly facing the windows opening on the corridor. He smiled
with anticipatory triumph as he made sure that the whole length
of the corridor with the barred doors of the cells was plainly
visible to one sitting thus. With a final glance about to make
certain that all was in readiness, he returned to his chair, and,
when the door opened, he was, to all appearances, busily engaged
"Here's Garson, Chief," Cassidy announced.
"Hello, Joe!" Burke exclaimed, with a seeming of careless
friendliness, as the detective went out, and Garson stood
motionless just within the door.
"Sit down, a minute, won't you?" the Inspector continued,
affably. He did not look up from his writing as he spoke.
Garson's usually strong face was showing weak with fear. His
chin, which was commonly very firm, moved a little from uneasy
twitchings of his lips. His clear eyes were slightly clouded to
a look of apprehension, as they roved the room furtively. He
made no answer to the Inspector's greeting for a few moments, but
remained standing without movement, poised alertly as if sensing
some concealed peril. Finally, however, his anxiety found
expression in words. His tone was pregnant with alarm, though he
strove to make it merely complaining.
"Say, what am I arrested for?" he protested. "I ain't done
Even now, Burke did not look up, and his pen continued to hurry
over the paper.
"Who told you you were arrested?" he remarked, cheerfully, in
his blandest voice.
Garson uttered an ejaculation of disgust.
"I don't have to be told," he retorted, huffily. "I'm no college
president, but, when a cop grabs me and brings me down here, I've
got sense enough to know I'm pinched."