THE SHERIDAN ROAD MYSTERY
PAUL AND MABEL THORNE
I THE SHOT II DETECTIVE SERGEANT MORGAN III INVESTIGATION IV THE APARTMENT ACROSS THE HALL V PECULIAR FACTS VI THE CABLE FROM LONDON VII MR. MARSH VIII A DEFINITE CLUE IX THE LAST LETTER X THE STOLEN SUITCASE XI THE TRAIL GROWS CLEARER XII MISSING XIII STARTLING DISCLOSURES XIV THE NIGHT CALL XV "DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES" XVI THE CLOSED COUNTRY HOUSE XVII WHAT THE CARETAKER SAW XVIII THE ENEMY SHOWS HIS HAND XIX KIDNAPPED XX THE FALLEN PINE XXI THE CHIMNEY THAT WOULDN'T DRAW XXII CORNERED XXIII SUNSET
THE SHERIDAN ROAD MYSTERY
It was a still, balmy night in late October. The scent of burned autumn leaves hung in the air, and a hazy moon, showing just over the housetops, deepened the shadows on the streets.
Policeman Murphy stopped far a moment, as was his custom, at the corner of Lawrence Avenue and Sheridan Road. He knew that it was about two o'clock in the morning as that was the hour at which he usually reached this point. He glanced sharply up and down Sheridan Road, which at that moment seemed to be completely deserted save for the distant red tail-light of a belated taxi, the whir of whose engine came to him quite distinctly on the quiet night air.
JUST THEN POLICEMAN MURPHY HEARD A SHOT!
Instantly his body quickened with an awakened alertness, and he glanced east and west along the lonely stretch of Lawrence Avenue. He saw nothing, and concluded that the sound he had heard must have come from one of the many apartment buildings which surrounded him.
Murphy pondered for a moment. Was it a burglary, a domestic row, or perhaps a murder? The position of the shot was hard to locate, for it had been but the sound of a moment on the still night. Murphy, however, decided to take a chance, and started stealthily north on Sheridan Road, keeping within the shadow that clung to the buildings.
He had moved only a short distance in this way when a man in a bath robe dashed out of the doorway of an apartment house just ahead of him and ran north. Murphy instantly broke into pursuit. At the sound of his heavily shod feet on the pavement, the man in the bath robe stopped and turned. Murphy slowed up and the man advanced to meet him.
"I'm glad you're handy, Officer," panted the man. "I think somebody has been murdered in our building. Come and investigate."
"Sure," assented Murphy. "That's what I'm here for," and as they mounted the steps of the apartment house, he inquired, "What flat was it?"
"The top floor on the north side," replied the man, who then informed Murphy that his name was Marsh, and that he lived on the second floor, just below this apartment. "You see," Marsh continued, "a little while ago my wife and I were awakened by a noise in the apartment over us. It sounded like a struggle of some kind. As we listened we felt sure that several people were taking part in it. Suddenly there was a shot, and a sound followed as if a body had fallen to the floor. After that there was absolute silence. I hastily put on my bath robe, and was hurrying out to find a policeman when I met you."
By this time, Marsh, with Murphy at his heels, had reached the door of the third floor apartment. Murphy placed a thick forefinger on the button of the electric hell and rang it sharply several times. The men could distinctly hear the clear notes of the bell, but no other sound reached them. Again Murphy pressed the button without response.
"Murder, all right, I guess," muttered Murphy, "and the guy's probably slipped down the back stairs. Who lives here, anyway?" he inquired, turning to Marsh.
"That's the peculiar part about it," was the reply. "The people who rent this apartment went to Europe this summer, and as I understand it, they won't be back for another month. The apartment has been closed all summer. That is what amazed Mrs. Marsh and myself when we heard this sound above us."
"It looks like we'll have to break in," said Murphy. "Let me use your telephone."
"Certainly," agreed Marsh, and led the way to his apartment.
Murphy sat down at the telephone. His hand was on the receiver when he suddenly paused and turned to Marsh. "You know," he commented, half meditatively, "it's funny we haven't seen anybody else show up in the halls. I heard that shot way down at Lawrence Avenue. At least the people across the hall ought to have been waked up by it. Are you sure it was in this house?"
"Why certainly," retorted Marsh. "Didn't I tell you that we heard the struggle and the shot right over our heads?"
"Well, it sure takes a lot to disturb some people," said Murphy, as he placed the telephone receiver to his ear and called for his connection. After some words he got his precinct station.
"Hello!" he called. "Is that you, Sergeant? This is Murphy. I'm in the Hillcrest apartments on Sheridan Road... Yes, that's right.... Just north of Lawrence Avenue. I think somebody's been murdered and we'll have to break in. Send the wagon, will you? ... Don't know a damn thing yet," he added, evidently in reply to a question. "Hurry up the wagon." He replaced the receiver on its hook; then turned to Marsh as he stood up.
"I think I'll hang around the door up there until the boys come. Much obliged for your help. You'd better get back to bed now."
"Oh, no," objected Marsh. "I couldn't sleep with all this excitement going on. And then—Mr. Ames is a friend of mine. He would want me to look after things for him."
Murphy looked Marsh over in evident speculation. The man was tall and broad shouldered. His face was clean shaven. The features were strong, with a regularity that many people would consider handsome. He was what one would call a big man, but this appearance of bigness arose more from a heavy frame, and exceptional muscular development, than fleshiness. Murphy took in these details quickly, and the pause was slight before he spoke.
"Who's Ames?" he said.
"The man who rents the apartment upstairs." Then apparently taking the matter as settled, Marsh added, "I'll go along with you."
Murphy grunted, whether in assent or disapproval was hard to tell, but as he climbed the stairs again, Marsh was close beside him.
Murphy placed his hand on the doorknob and shook the door as he violently turned the knob. The door was securely locked. Then he threw his two hundred and some odd pounds against the door itself. The stout oak resisted his individual efforts.
"No use," he grumbled. "I'll have to wait 'till the boys come."
The two men then sat down on the top step to wait for the coming of the police. They chatted, speculating upon the possible causes of the disturbance. Marsh, however, seemed more interested in getting Murphy's ideas than in expressing opinions of his own. At length they heard the clang of the gong on the police patrol as it crossed Lawrence Avenue. They stood up expectantly. An instant later there was a clatter in the lower hall as the police entered. They mounted the stairs rapidly-two officers in uniform and another in civilian clothes.
"Where's the trouble?" cried the latter, as the party climbed the last flight.
"In here, as far as I know," returned Murphy, as he jerked a thumb over his shoulder toward the door of the apartment. "I can't get arise out of anybody. We'll have to break in."
Marsh stood aside while the four men took turns, two-and-two, in throwing themselves against the door. It creaked and groaned, and from time to time there was a sharp crack as the strong oak began to give.
In the meantime, the murmur of voices came up from the lower floors. Presently faces appeared on the landing just below where the police were working. Marsh leaned over the rail and in a few words outlined to the excited tenants what was going on.
Intent on their work of breaking in the door, the policemen paid little attention to their audience, and apparently did not notice that the door across the hall was still closed and silent. Murphy, however, recalled this fact later on.
At last, with a crash and a splintering of wood, the lock gave way and the door flew open. All was darkness and silence before them.
The five men stood grouped in the doorway, listening intently. The black silence remained unbroken save for the labored breathing of the men who had just broken in the door. The plain-clothes man then brought forth an electric pocket lamp and flashed its rays into the entrance hall, while the others drew their revolvers and held them in readiness. Then all stepped into the hallway. This was a large, square entrance way with four doorways opening from it. Two closed doors faced them. As they discovered later, these led to a bedroom, and the bathroom. The others, one opening toward the front of the apartment, and one toward the rear, were wide archways covered with heavy velvet portieres.
The plain-clothes man found the wall switch and turned on the electric light. Instructing one of his companions to watch the hall door, he led the others in a search of the apartment. Seeking for the electric light buttons as they moved about the apartment, the men soon flooded the rooms with light. Each man with revolver ready, and intent on searching every corner, none of them gave much attention to the fact that Marsh was dogging every move, apparently as keenly on the lookout as any one of the party.
Their inspection revealed nothing more than that the apartment was apparently in the same condition as its tenant had left it. The door to the outside stairway at the back was locked and the key was missing. In addition to the regular lock a stout bolt was in place. The catches on all the windows were properly locked, and all the shades remained drawn down close to the sills. It was an empty, locked apartment, with no outstanding evidence of having been used for a long time.
The police, now joined by the man lately on watch at the door, stood nonplussed in the kitchen. The plain-clothes man uttered an oath. Then he addressed his companions.
"I've seen some mighty fishy situations, but this trims anything I ever ran up against. Ain't been just hearing things, have you, Murphy? A swig of this home-made hootch does upset a man dreadful, sometimes."
"I ain't never touched the stuff," he bellowed. Then added, aggressively, "You know damned well I wasn't the only one to hear that shot. The tenant downstairs heard it, too. It was him that brought me in."
"Well, you only got his word for it that this is where the shot, was fired. Maybe HE'S trying to cover something up."
Murphy started, then glanced around.
"Hell!" he exclaimed. "Where's that guy gone to, anyway?"
Marsh, who had recently been close at their heels, was not now in the group. Murphy moved on tiptoe to the kitchen door and listened. On the other side of the dining room was the doorway to the entrance hall, and through the now drawn curtains this space was visible. Murphy could see that both these rooms were deserted, but an occasional swishing sound came to his ears. Turning to the waiting group, he silently and significantly jerked his head toward the front of the apartment. Following his example, they moved cautiously across the dining room and the hall and stopped at the door of the living room.
Marsh, with his back toward them, was just in the act of pulling a heavy, upholstered chair back into position. His moving of similar articles of furniture had made the sounds heard by Murphy.
Stepping suddenly into the room, Murphy inquired, with a note of sarcasm in his voice, "Kind of busy, ain't you?"
Marsh turned abruptly. If they expected to see any signs of confusion on his face they were disappointed, for he simply smiled cheerfully.
"Just following out a line of thought," he answered.
"What's the big idea!" asked the plain-clothes man, suspiciously, as he also stepped into the room and carefully looked over the man before him.
"Well, detectives in novels always search minutely for things which may not be apparent to the eye. When confronted with so deep a mystery as this one, I thought the application of a little of the story book stuff might do no harm."
"Huh!" snorted the plain-clothes man, as Marsh finished giving this information. "You're more than commonly interested in this affair, ain't you?"
"Naturally," agreed Marsh. "Remember, I live just below, and wouldn't like to be murdered in my bed some night. To hear a murder over your head is a bit disconcerting."
"How the devil do we know there's been a murder?" shot back the plain-clothes man. "We've only got your word for it."
"But this officer also heard the shot," and Marsh turned toward Murphy. "He was looking for the trouble when I met him."
"Yes," Murphy admitted. "I heard the shot, but I only got your word for it that it was here. If there was a murder, what became of the body?"
"That is for you gentlemen to find out," Marsh snapped back, now evidently alive to the fact that these men were regarding him with something approaching suspicion. "I have already done more than my share of the work. I have discovered visible proof THAT THERE WAS A MURDER!"
This information startled the group of policemen. Hasty glances swept the room for a moment. Then the plain-clothes man remarked, with a meaning smile, "Well, I'M from Missouri."
Marsh walked over to where the policemen stood.
"Take a look around," he began. "There are certain accepted ways of placing the furniture in a room. When there is a radical departure from such placing, an inquiring mind is led to wonder. Notice the chair I was just moving. It is located almost in the center of the room—obviously not its regular position. So why was it there?"
"Say, you'd make some detective!" came in an admiring tone from Murphy. The others nodded approval of the remark.
"I began to examine that chair and its surroundings carefully," continued Marsh, ignoring the interruption. He then moved over to the chair, and added, as he pulled it to one side, "I moved it away like this. Now, look at the floor!"
The policemen crowded forward. What Marsh had found was apparent at once. On the light background of the rug was a large, dark spot which the chair had covered. The plain-clothes man stooped and placed his hand on the spot. It felt damp to the touch, and as he stood erect again, holding his hand under the light, they all saw that the fingers were covered with a thin film of red.
"Blood!" cried Murphy.
"Yep," affirmed the plain-clothes man. "Fresh blood!"
Excited exclamations from the others showed their appreciation of the discovery.
"I guess that looks like a possible murder," he said.
"The chair was placed there to cover the spot, all right," now admitted the plain-clothes man.
"But what became of the body?" again questioned Murphy.
"As I said before," Marsh answered him, "that is for you to find out. It is not my business."
"SOME mystery!" exclaimed the plain-clothes man. "This is a job for Dave Morgan."
DETECTIVE SERGEANT MORGAN
On Sheffield Avenue, just across from the ball park, where the "Cubs," Chicago's famous baseball team, has its headquarters, is a row of apartment houses. One realizes, of course, that these are not homes of wealth, but they have a comfortable, substantial look, which somehow conveys the idea that those who live there are good citizens, typical of the hard-working, progressive class that has made Chicago one of the greatest commercial cities of the world.
In one of these apartments lived Detective Sergeant Dave Morgan and his mother. He had located here in the days when, as a patrolman, he had walked beat out of the Town Hall Police Station, a short distance away. After his promotion to the detective force, he remained here because of the convenient location. The elevated railroad had its right of way directly back of his home, and the Addison Street station was only around the corner. He could quickly get to the Detective Bureau or almost any part of the widespreading city.
Morgan's home was unpretentious but comfortable. The hand of a careful and thoughtful housekeeper was in evidence everywhere. In the big living room, at the front, were several lounging chairs, and along one wall, between the front windows and the entrance door, stood two roomy bookcases. A glance at the titles showed the owner's inquiring and investigative turn of mind. His interest in his profession was also indicated by several volumes on criminology, and even popular detective stories of the day. In the center of the room was a commodious table with a large reading lamp. Beside the table was the big easy chair in which Morgan always sat, and where many of the solutions of difficult criminal problems had been worked out by him. Just across from this easy chair, and within reach of an outstretched hand, stood a tabouret, holding the telephone.
On the morning following the peculiar occurrence on Sheridan Road, Morgan was sitting in his favorite chair. His slippered feet were stretched before him and clouds of smoke hung about as he puffed at his favorite pipe, selected from a row of about ten that were hanging on a nearby home-made pipe holder. This might be said to be an eventful day for Dave Morgan. Only the day before, he and his partner, Detective Sergeant Tierney, had completed the solving of a baffling case and placed the criminal behind the bars. Now he had a well-earned and long-awaited "day off," and he was going to devote it to the restful pursuit of his favorite amusement—reading.
His mother, a white-haired, pleasant faced little woman, entered the room.
"Dave," she reminded him, "here's the morning paper. You forgot to look it over at breakfast."
"I know, Mother," he returned, "but I wanted to forget all about the world this morning. That Brock case has tired me out."
"But," she protested, "I notice from the headlines that there was a big murder on Sheridan Road last night. I didn't think you'd want to miss the details of that."
Professional instinct was too strong. Morgan reached for the paper and glanced quickly over the glaring headlines and the few words below, while the mother proudly watched him.
Morgan made a good figure for a detective. Not so tall as to be conspicuous, his breadth of shoulder and depth of chest clearly showed that he possessed the strength to meet most of the emergencies into which his work might lead him. His face had none of the hardened sharpness that usually marks the detective. In fact, although he was nearly thirty, his face still had a boyish look that made him appear younger, and taken with his sleek dark hair and mild brown eyes one would have presumed him to be just an average young business man rather than a hunter of criminals.
"No details here," he said, a moment later, laying the paper on the table. "They evidently received the notice just before going to press. Anyway, there is seldom much mystery about a murder. The men in that precinct probably have a line on who did it by this time."
"Yes, I know they use my boy only for the big cases," asserted the mother, and giving him an affectionate pat on the head, she went to her housework, while Morgan took a book from one of the cases, refilled his pipe, and settled down to spend a quiet morning in the big chair.
At eleven o'clock the telephone bell rang. Only a few words passed between Morgan and his caller, but the detective's face lighted up with interest. The instant he replaced the receiver he sprang to his feet, went to his bedroom, and hurriedly changed his clothes.
"Mother," he called. "The Chief has just 'phoned me that they have the biggest case for me that I ever handled. I must go down at once."
His mother came to the door of the room. "Can't you even wait for a bite of lunch?" she questioned.
"No," he explained, "it is a hurry call. The Chief says we cannot lose a minute in getting started. I'll have to stop in somewhere after I see the Chief."
Kissing his mother good-bye, Morgan hurried around to the elevated station. Fifteen minutes later he opened the Chief's office door.
"Sit down, Morgan," said the Chief, waving his hand toward a chair. "I've got a case here that'll make even you go some."
As Morgan sat down the Chief gathered up some typewritten sheets from his desk, and continued; "I didn't like to break up the first day you've had off in a long time, Morgan, but there was a murder on Sheridan Road last night—or early, this morning, to be exact—that has put a real mystery up to the Department. It'll need a man like you to solve it—if it can be solved. The newspapers had big headlines this morning, and the public will be watching us on account of the peculiar nature of the crime."
"I saw something about it in my paper this morning," said Morgan. "There were no details, however. The notice probably caught the last edition with little more than the fact that a murder had been committed."
"Well," exclaimed the Chief, "it's one of the biggest mysteries we've ever had handed to us. The shot was heard by both the man on the beat and a tenant in the building, but outside of the stories of these two men, and the discovery of a blood stain on a rug in a supposedly empty flat, not another thing has been found. The body is missing, and there is no trace of how it got out of the flat or where it is now. Here is a report of all that we know so far. By the way, your partner Tierney made this report. He happened to be on the job last night, so I told him to stick to it."
The Chief handed the typewritten sheets to Morgan.
"You will note," he went on, "that the man on beat heard a shot at about 2 A.M.; that he met a tenant from the house who said that he had heard sounds of a struggle, a shot, and something like the falling of a body. The police found the flat locked, and after they broke in could find no one on the premises. Nothing was upset, and there were no signs of the struggle, said to have taken place. Another peculiar thing is that the police even overlooked the bloodstain until the tenant who had heard the shot called their attention to it. Tierney tried to get some more details this morning, but you will find from his report that none of the other tenants admit hearing the shot; that the tenant in the flat across the hall was apparently not at home, and that the janitor says the people who rent the flat in which the trouble occurred, have been away all summer. The only really definite information of any kind comes from this one tenant, Marsh."
"You'll probably find Tierney at the flat, as I sent him back after he had turned in this report. He may have found out something more by now than he could put in that quick report."
"Chief," said Morgan, as he thumbed over the typewritten sheets in his hands, "you say there has been a murder committed here. With this tenant, Marsh, and a patrolman, getting into action so soon after the shot, a body couldn't possibly be moved out of the house—certainly, not without leaving some trace."
"How do we know there was a murder?"
"We don't know—positively," returned the Chief. "But we're not going to take any chances. Even if there wasn't an actual murder, SOMETHING OF A CRIMINAL NATURE WAS PULLED OFF IN THAT FLAT LAST NIGHT. What it was, we're putting up to you to find out. Go to it, Morgan! So long!"
Leaving the Detective Bureau, Morgan stopped in a restaurant on Randolph Street for a quick lunch. From there he walked over to State Street and took the motor bus for the scene of the singular event which it was now his duty to investigate. A half-hour later he dropped off the bus at Lawrence Avenue and Sheridan Road. A few steps brought him to the Hillcrest apartments, where he found Tierney waiting on the front steps for him.
"The Chief telephoned me that you would probably be here about this time," said Tierney, after acknowledging Morgan's greeting. "I was on the job last night, and did a little investigating this morning, so the Chief thought you might want to talk things over with me."
Morgan nodded. "All right, let's go up. Can we get into the flat?"
"Sure," answered Tierney. "We put a temporary padlock on this morning, and I have the key."
Without further words the two men climbed the stairs to the apartment on the third floor. Tierney unlocked the padlock and they went in. Inside the entrance hall of the apartment, Tierney turned to Morgan.
"I suppose the Chief has put the case entirely in your hands, so it's up to you what you want to do first."
"We had better go into the front room here," answered Morgan, "and let me get a line on things. About all I know so far is that somebody THINKS a murder has been committed."
"You can't make much out of things as they are, that's a fact," assented Tierney, as they moved into the front room. He dropped into an easy chair close at hand, and pushed his cap back on his head, while Morgan went to one of the front windows and ran the shade to the top. Seating himself where he could get the full benefit of the light from the window, he drew out the typewritten report and read it over carefully.
"This is your report, isn't it, Tierney?" he inquired, folding up the sheets again and replacing them in his pocket.
"You bet; and I put into it every damned thing I know," asserted Tierney. "And that's mighty little," he added. "This is the most mysterious case I ever saw."
There was a pause while Morgan drew a pipe from his pocket and filled and lighted it. Then settling back in his chair, he looked at Tierney. "Got any theories?" he asked.
"No," replied Tierney. "I haven't any theories—but I've got a couple of suspicions."
"One," continued Tierney, "is this flat across the hall. Murphy—that's the man on the beat who heard the shot and investigated—Murphy noticed that in spite of all the racket we made breaking down the door last night, no one in that flat showed any interest. I tried to get in touch with them this morning. Nothing doing. Either they weren't home, or wouldn't answer the bell."
"That looks bad," commented Morgan. "You mentioned in your report that you talked with the janitor. Did he drop anything about them that you didn't think worth while putting in the report?"
"The janitor simply told me that a man and his daughter lived in the flat, and that he thought the man was away a good deal; so he supposed he must be a traveling man. They have always seemed to be quiet people. He has never even seen them have any company." "That's suspicious, too," declared Morgan. "Normal people usually have SOME company. Is that all?"
"Now," prompted Morgan, "you said you had another suspicion."
"You bet!" exclaimed Tierney, straightening up in his chair. "That guy, Marsh—underneath here."
"'Great minds'," laughed Morgan. "I sort of focused on that man myself after reading your report just now."
"Well, here's the way I look at it," explained Tierney. "When ordinary folks hear fighting and shooting in the middle of the night, they generally stick their heads under the covers and lie close. They don't put on bath robes and run out on the street to be the first to give a report. Then the janitor tells me that he's seen this man around a lot in the daytime—'no visible means of support,' you might say. Both Murphy and I remember that Marsh referred to his wife. The janitor says he's pretty sure that he never saw any woman around the flat. And when I asked Marsh this morning to let me talk to his wife, he said she was not in."
"You probably noticed in my report that it was this Marsh who showed us the bloodstain under the chair. You know, we came out of the kitchen and caught that guy in the act of pulling a chair over the spot. He said he was replacing the chair where he found it. I've been wondering whether he wasn't actually covering up the spot himself. When we caught him in the act, maybe he just decided to bluff it out."
"The Department didn't make any mistake when they shifted you into the Detective Bureau, Tierney," said Morgan, laughing. "Has the Chief assigned you to any other case for my day off?"
"No," replied Tierney. "When the Chief told me to come back and meet you here I figured he wanted me to stick to this case with you."
"So I thought," agreed Morgan. "But I want to be left alone here for awhile. You scout around and see if you can find out something more about this tenant across the hall. Do you know his name?"
"Clark Atwood, it says on the mail box downstairs."
"All right, Tierney. See what you can look up in this neighborhood. I'll get in touch with you later. By the way, you had better leave that key with me."
Tierney handed over the key to the padlock, and with a cheery "So long," started off.
Morgan, left to himself, began a careful inspection of the apartment. Although assured that the apartment had been unoccupied, his first act was to discover, if possible, any signs of recent habitation. Convinced by the blood spot that the principal part of whatever had happened had taken place in the front room, he decided to leave that room until the last. Running all the shades to the top of the windows as he passed from the front to the rear of the apartment, Morgan made the place as light as possible. He began his examination with the kitchen. The fastenings on the windows were closed, and the undisturbed condition of the dust indicated that they had not been touched for a long period. A careful inspection of the glass and woodwork showed no finger marks or any attempt to open the catches. The bolt on the back door was unfastened, but as the report stated that the police had found this bolt in place, it was obvious that it had simply been left open by the police. Morgan carefully scrutinized the condition of the bolt. After pushing it back into place the difference in brightness of the protected and unprotected parts convinced him that the bolt had been closed for some time.
He also noted that the key was missing from the lock. However, this fact had been referred to in the report, and it could make little difference if the bolt itself had been fastened. As a matter of fact, during his search of the pantry, he discovered the key on top of the ice box. A layer of dust indicated that the key had not been touched for a long time. His thorough investigation of the pantry revealed no evidence of recent use. The ice box was dry as a bone, with the musty smell of long disuse. A touch of the finger on various dishes and pieces of glassware showed that these also were covered with a film of dust.
Before leaving the kitchen, Morgan glanced into the sink, to ascertain if, as often happens, the murderer had washed his hands there. There was a reddish stain about the outlet, but as Morgan found this covered with dust he surmised that a long time had elapsed since any water had been run in the sink. This stain was presumably the rust which usually gathers in a long unused sink or basin.
The small maid's room off the kitchen had certainly not been in use. Only the bare mattress was on the bed, and Morgan noticed that as his own feet left imprints in the dust on the floor, it was not likely that anyone else could have been in the room without leaving similar traces.
Next he thoroughly searched the dining room. As this room usually seems to be the favorite gathering point, both for the occupants of a house and unbidden prowlers, Morgan's keen eyes examined every detail of the floor and furnishings, including the drawers of the sideboard. He immediately noticed that two of the chairs were standing close to the table, while two others were moved slightly back from the table as if people had been sitting in them. On the floor under one of these chairs he found a few spots of cigarette ashes. To Morgan's quick mind this carried a mental picture. Of course, the police who had been in the apartment the night before might have accidentally or intentionally moved the chairs, but he was quite sure that under the circumstances not one of them would have sat down to smoke a cigarette. At some time quite recently, therefore, somebody, probably two persons, had sat at this dining room table while conversing, or waiting for something.
This was further confirmed when Morgan, bending his knees and lowering his body so as to bring his eyes on a level with the table, studied the top in the reflected light. He saw that the dust on the table top had been disturbed in front of the two chairs. Furthermore, he discovered that the person who had not been smoking had evidently rested a pair of clasped and sweaty hands on the table top, as two parallel, greasy marks, made by the sides of the hands, showed quite plainly. To Morgan, clasped and sweaty hands indicated a possible state of nervousness. Either this had been the victim or the chief plotter.
The dining room revealed nothing further to Morgan, but he felt that he had made some progress in establishing the fact that at least two people had quite recently been in this supposedly unoccupied apartment.
Passing through the entrance hall, Morgan then examined the main bedroom, which opened off of it. The bed had been dismantled, as in the maid's room. An examination of the clothes closet, and the drawers of the dresser and a chiffonier, showed that the room was commonly occupied by a man and a woman. Everything quite obviously belonged to the regular tenant. Morgan could find nothing of a suspicious nature, although he had particularly looked for correspondence which might in some indefinite way connect this tenant with the happenings of the night before.
The bathroom was visited next. Outside of the usual toilet articles and harmless medical "first aids" in the cabinet, the room was bare.
The final step was a close examination of the front room. Here the blood spot stood out dark and forbidding in the light of the afternoon sun. Beyond the fact that the shot had taken effect, it told nothing. Morgan stood in thought with his eyes resting upon the brick fireplace. Suddenly the descending sun threw its rays farther into the room and rested on a bright spot at the side of the fireplace. It looked odd to Morgan and he approached it. What he found was a flattened bullet, which had been held in place by slightly embedding itself in the rough surface of the brick. As evidence it had small value outside of confirming the fact that a shot had been actually fired in this apartment.
Finding nothing else with a bearing on the case, Morgan started to leave. At the doorway to the entrance hall, he stopped and turned to take one last look around the room in the hope that something might suggest itself. As he stood making this last survey, his eye caught a faint point of light under a cabinet in a corner. Instantly he returned to the room, and stooping down, ran his hand under the cabinet. His fingers seized on a small object, which proved to be a gold cuff button. As he turned it over in his hand he found the initial "M" deeply engraved in the heavy gold.
Remembering that he had learned from the report in his pocket that the name of the tenant of this apartment was Ames, this discovery immediately assumed great importance, so Morgan carefully placed the cuff button in a vest pocket.
Encouraged by his find, Morgan made another careful examination of the room. The flattened bullet and the cuff button, revealed by friendly rays of sunlight, seemed to be all that he could find.
THE APARTMENT ACROSS THE HALL
After replacing the padlock and snapping it closed, Morgan pressed the electric button of the apartment across the hall. Footsteps sounded in immediate response, and the next moment the door was furtively opened. Morgan, who by that time was leaning carelessly against the jamb, quietly moved one foot forward into the opening.
Although the light in the hallway was dim he could see that the woman who stood there was young and remarkably pretty. Removing his hat, he asked politely, "Are you the tenant here?"
"Yes," came in a soft but nervous voice.
"May I come in and talk with you a few minutes?" inquired Morgan.
"What is it you want?" the girl inquired.
Morgan threw back his coat and disclosed his badge. "I am a city detective, and I would like a few words with you about this affair across the hall."
"What affair is that?" asked the girl.
Morgan smiled. "Didn't you know there was some trouble across the hall last night?"
"No," she returned. "I retired early and have heard nothing about it."
Morgan was at a loss for a moment. The girl was not of the type that one would associate with persons of a criminal sort. Her replies had been given in a tone of voice so candid and wondering that it hardly seemed possible she could be acting. Whatever the situation, however, Morgan wanted to get inside this apartment and study the girl more closely.
"Well, I'll tell you all about it," he said, gently, "if you'll let me come in for a moment or two."
"I know nothing about it," she maintained, with a touch of irritation in her voice, and Morgan's foot signaled to him that she was attempting to close the door.
Morgan never liked to be rough in his methods. He hesitated over forcing himself into the presence of this young woman, and yet he now had an impression that an interview with her was imperative. There was a slight pause, as he ran over in his mind some way to gain his entrance without force.
"Do you know Mr. Marsh downstairs?" he inquired, suddenly, his eyes keeping a keen watch on her face.
"I do not know any of the tenants in the building."
"That's strange," said Morgan, thoughtfully. "I was just talking with Mr. Marsh, and he told me that you knew all about the trouble last night. He suggested that if I would come and see you I could get just the information I wanted."
"I don't know this Mr. Marsh, and I can't understand why he should make such a statement." Surprise was apparent in her voice.
Morgan was quite sure that her surprise was genuine. At the same time his remarks had just the effect he had hoped they would. It brought a new element into the matter and added to the girl's natural curiosity. She opened the door wider, and nodding toward the front room, said, "Step in and tell me what you wish to know."
The room into which Morgan entered was a counterpart of the one across the hall, though as he rapidly observed the furnishings, he was impressed with the greater taste displayed and the homelike atmosphere. A piece of embroidery, on which she had evidently been working, lay on the arm of a chair near the window.
Conjecturing that she would resume her seat in this chair, Morgan seated himself where he could keep his back to the window, while the girl whom he was about to question would directly face the full light. Morgan's guess was correct. The girl went directly to the chair she had left to answer his ring, and taking up her embroidery, picked nervously at its edges, meanwhile watching Morgan expectantly.
Surmising that a direct attempt to question her at once might defeat his purpose, Morgan immediately broke into an account of the previous night's occurrence. As he brought out the various details of what was reported to have taken place, he slyly watched her face. At the end of his recital, he felt convinced that what he told the girl had previously been unknown to her. Moreover, Morgan became sensible of a growing feeling of interest and confidence in the girl. Her sweetness seemed so genuine, her dark blue eyes so frank and honest in the straightforward way they met his.
"It seems very strange that I heard none of the excitement," remarked the girl, when Morgan had finished his story. "I had a rather busy day yesterday with my studies and retired early."
Morgan had decided upon his line of questioning while relating the incidents of the night before.
"May I ask your name?"
"Certainly," she replied. "My name is Atwood."
Morgan, having noticed the absence of a wedding ring, assumed that she was unmarried. Therefore, he said, "Is your mother at home, Miss Atwood?"
A shade of sadness passed over her face. "My mother died some months ago," she replied.
"I am sorry. I know what it is to have a good mother," sympathized Morgan. Then he inquired, "Perhaps your father heard the disturbance?"
"Oh no," she replied. "My father is away."
"Yes; my father is a salesman."
"For some Chicago house, I suppose."
"No; for a business house in St. Louis. We formerly lived there."
"St. Louis is a pleasant city," commented Morgan. "Still, many people prefer Chicago."
"Oh, I think I should prefer to live in St. Louis, because I have a few friends there," she said. "But I am studying music, and when my mother died, father suggested that I live in Chicago where I could attend a better musical college. Then, too, father could get home more often as he travels in this vicinity."
"I suppose your father travels for some well known St. Louis house?" suggested Morgan.
"Well, really, I don't know the name of his firm," returned the girl. "Business has never held any interest for me."
It struck Morgan as strange that even a girl who did not take an interest in business should be ignorant of the name of the firm by whom her father was employed, yet he seemed to find many things that were contradictory in this girl. The chatty line of conversation he had taken was bringing out information in a manner highly satisfactory to Morgan. He was about to make another comment, that might elicit further facts, when he was interrupted by a question which he had been expecting.
"Tell me," inquired Miss Atwood, a slight color coming to her cheeks, "what this man Marsh said about me."
Morgan was pleased. This gave him an opening for some questioning which he had hesitated to take up before. He wanted to know just how much this girl knew about Marsh. "Don't you really know Mr. Marsh?" he began.
"No," she replied. "I didn't even know there was such a person in the house."
"Well, that is certainly strange. I'm sure that he told me to talk to the young lady on the top floor. Perhaps he meant some young lady who lived across the hall. Still, there doesn't seem to have been anyone there since the trouble."
Miss Atwood smiled. "He could not have meant anyone in that apartment, for I understand it is occupied only by an elderly couple, a Mr. Ames and his wife. I understood father to say that he had heard they were traveling in Europe. I am sure no one has lived there since we have been in this apartment."
"How long have you been here?" asked Morgan.
"Let me see," said Miss Atwood, thoughtfully. "This is almost the end of October, and we have been here since the middle of July. That is a little over three months, isn't it?"
"July," repeated Morgan. "That isn't a renting season. You must rent this apartment furnished."
"We do," she replied, promptly. "Father was too busy to spend any time on moving, so we stored our things in St. Louis and took this apartment."
"Real estate agents have been making lots of money these days. I hear a great many people have to pay them a bonus for finding apartments. I suppose they stuck you that way, too."
"No," returned the girl. "I understand that father rented direct from the tenant. I believe the tenant was a friend of his, or someone he knew in a business way."
The embroidery which had been lying in Miss Atwood's lap had gradually slipped forward and at this moment dropped to the floor. As she reached down to pick it up, Morgan's alert eyes noted a purplish mark on her forearm.
"You seem to have bruised your arm, Miss Atwood," he said, in a tone that was intended to express sympathy.
"Oh, did you notice that mark?" she exclaimed. "That has been puzzling me all day. I awoke suddenly last night with a feeling as if something had bitten me, but almost immediately went to sleep again. During the morning I noticed this mark and the swelling. I can't imagine what could have done it."
"May I look at it?" asked Morgan, as he rose and approached her. "Perhaps I can suggest something."
She extended her arm, and Morgan, taking her hand, drew the arm close to him. He carefully studied the spot. The only time he had ever seen such marks before was on the arms of drug addicts who had not been particularly careful in the application of the hypodermic needle.
"So you think it is a bite of some kind?" asked Morgan, looking keenly at her.
"I can't imagine what else it could be," she replied.
Morgan dropped her hand and looked out of the window for a moment. There was no doubt in his mind that the mark had been made by a hypodermic needle, yet it was the only mark of the kind that he could see on her arm, and therefore would hardly seem to indicate that the girl was a drug fiend. Moreover, there had bean no indication of embarrassment or nervousness in her reference to the mark, as would undoubtedly have been the case had she been addicted to the use of a drug. Morgan realized, too, that the fresh pink and white skin of this girl, and the bright eyes, could not be maintained if drugs were taken. The case was growing more puzzling every minute. Had the use of a hypodermic needle on this girl anything to do with the supposed tragedy across the hall?
After this discovery, Morgan hesitated to ask further questions at this time, so he turned to the girl again and remarked, simply, "It is possible that some kind of spider bit you in the night. If you have any peroxide in the house, I would suggest that you bathe the spot with it. And now I must be going. If I have your permission, Miss Atwood, I would like to drop in again sometime to let you know about any further discoveries I may make on this case."
"Thank you," she returned. "I shall be interested."
As he turned to say good-bye at the door, she added, apologetically, "I am sorry I had no information to give you."
"Oh, that's all right," Morgan assured her, "I appreciate your courtesy in letting me have this little chat with you." But as he drew the door to after him, Morgan smiled and said to himself, "Poor little girl; you don't realize what a lot of information you have given me."
When Morgan reached the second floor on his way down, he paused a moment before Marsh's door. So far as he had gone in this case, Morgan was confronted with two factors; the connection of this man with the case, and the bearing which Miss Atwood and her father might have upon it. Without doubt, some singular conditions surrounded the Atwoods, but his knowledge of these was still too vague to give him even a basis for reasoning. On the other hand, the questionable circumstances surrounding the connection of this man Marsh with the case, were very definite, indeed, and though Morgan tried to avoid hasty conclusions, he could not keep back his growing suspicions of Marsh. As he hesitated before Marsh's door, Morgan thought that it moved slightly. Stepping closer and pushing the door gently with an outstretched hand, he found it tightly closed. Yet, he had a feeling that the door had been softly closed after he had stopped on the landing. That decided Morgan. The time was not opportune for an interview with this man. He wanted to obtain some additional facts before taking the step he was now convinced would have to be taken, and so went on down the stairs to carry his investigations further.
Leaving the house, Morgan turned the corner of Lawrence Avenue and entered the alleyway in the rear of the Hillcrest apartments.
Practically all Chicago apartment houses have an outside rear stairway for the use of tradespeople. Usually, this stairway is open so that anything which takes place can be observed from all nearby houses. In this instance the stairway was enclosed, with a door leading to the back porch of each apartment. A person could pass from the alley up to the third floor without being noticed, even by tenants in the building itself.
Morgan instantly noted that an automobile could stand in the alleyway close to the entrance; that a person could come down these stairs unobserved, step into the car and be quietly carried away, disappearing into the general traffic of the streets in probably not more than two minutes after leaving the apartment.
Here, thought Morgan, was a possible solution of the sudden disappearance of the person who had been either murdered or wounded. It was a problem, of course, as to which door they had been brought through, and the solution of that problem would very likely bring him pretty close to the person or persons who had participated in the events of the night before.
Unquestionably, the rear door of the apartment where the trouble had taken place had not been used for this purpose, although it would seem the logical and quickest way to make an exit. On the other hand, for that very reason, the persons back of the supposed crime had been clever enough to avoid it, thus adding a mystifying element to what had taken place.
In the light of present developments, two possible exits suggested themselves to Morgan. These were the Atwood and Marsh apartments. The girl, however, claimed that she had slept through the night, and it hardly seemed possible that anyone could pass through her flat without arousing her. This, of course, meant taking for granted her story that she was alone in the apartment and had been in bed and sleeping. While Morgan felt attracted toward the girl, and placed considerable confidence in her honesty, he did not allow these emotions to entirely dull his sense of suspicion. If things did not clear themselves shortly he would carry his investigations further along this line.
In the meantime, his distrust centered on the Marsh apartment. This man admitted being awake during the reported struggle, and there was no question about his being partly dressed and in action while some of the events were taking place. Marsh could easily have passed a person or a body to a confederate through his back door, locked the door and then hurried into Sheridan Road to direct the attention of the police, or any other persons who had been aroused, to the front of the house, thus enabling his confederate to get quietly, safely and quickly away. This was only bare theory on Morgan's part. He needed definite facts to either confirm this theory, or to prove that his judgment was at fault. The cuff button, with its initial "M," looked curiously like one of these facts, and, taken in connection with the other circumstances, pointed strongly toward Marsh.
He wanted to know more about Marsh, and the girl had given him some basic facts which would enable him to enlarge his fund of information. The owner, or the real estate agent who managed the building, seemed to be the logical starting point for securing this information. To find out the names of these people must be his next step.
Luckily, at this moment the janitor of the apartment building appeared, rolling a barrel of ashes up from the basement. While it was quite obvious that such was the case, Morgan opened the conversation by inquiring, "Are you the janitor of this flat house?"
"Yes, sir," replied the man.
"Does the owner run this building, or has he placed an agent in charge?"
"A real estate agent manages it," the janitor informed him. "Parker Cole—over on Broadway."
"Thanks," said Morgan, and returned down the alley to Lawrence Avenue where he turned west and walked over to Broadway. A few minutes later he stood at the counter in the real estate office, and a man approached him.
"Is either Mr. Parker or Mr. Cole in?"
"I am Mr. Cole," announced the man. "What can I do for you?"
Morgan opened his coat a minute to give Cole a glimpse of his badge; then said, "I would like to talk confidentially with you for a few minutes."
"Step into my private office," directed Cole, opening a gate as he spoke, and indicating a space partitioned off at the rear.
"What is the trouble?" he inquired, when they were seated.
"I came to see you in connection with the trouble in the Hillcrest last night."
"A most unfortunate affair!" exclaimed Cole. "It is the first time anything of the kind ever occurred in any of the buildings under our management. It is most unfortunate," he repeated.
"I have been assigned to the case," Morgan informed him, "and I am gathering all the information possible. Then I can formulate some theory upon which to work. Just at this time I want a little information regarding your tenants in the building."
"Very fine people—very fine people, indeed," protested Cole. "There couldn't be a breath of suspicion against any of them."
"I'll be the judge of that," said Morgan, sharply.
"But really," cried Cole, "you must not annoy our tenants. Surely it was only a quarrel among burglars. One man probably wounded his pal and then, alarmed at the disturbance he had created, hurried him away."
Morgan smiled. This was a very ingenious and plausible solution of the mystery—at least in the real estate agent's eyes. However, Morgan now sought facts, not amateur theories, and disregarding the real estate man's talk, he pushed his quest for information.
"I have a report in my pocket which covers all that I want to know about most of your tenants; at least for the present. There are two families, however, about whom I want further information. The first is the Atwood family, in the third floor south."
"Atwood—Atwood," repeated Cole, as if he did not place the name. Then he called, "Joe, bring me the rent book."
Morgan became alert. It was possible that a man like Cole, with a large list of properties under his management, might be somewhat vague in his recollection of the names of a few of his tenants. This case was different. The Atwoods, according to the girl's story, had sub-leased their apartment quite recently, presumably with the agent's sanction. The present excitement should naturally have recalled this matter to Cole's mind—should even have concentrated his thoughts upon the names and characteristics of every tenant in this particular building. Cole's unfamiliarity with the name of Atwood, therefore, seemed peculiar.
At this moment a boy entered with a large volume. Laying it on Cole's desk, the boy passed quietly out of the office. Cole glanced at the index and then turned over certain pages in the book.
"We have no Atwood in that house," he declared, finally, looking up at Morgan. "You must have made a mistake."
Before replying, Morgan pulled out a small notebook and spread it open on his knee, ready for use. He also extracted a pencil from his vest pocket. Glancing at the point to see that it was in working condition, he turned to Cole with the question, "Who does occupy the third floor south in that house?"
"A family named Crocker."
"Full name, please."
"Joseph Crocker. He rented that apartment one year ago the first of this month," stated Cole, after further reference to the book.
Morgan jotted this down in his notebook.
"You haven't heard that Mr. Crocker sub-leased his flat?" inquired Morgan.
"No," replied Cole, positively. "I would be sure to know about it, too. A transaction of that kind must be put through and reported in this office."
"Can you give me any further particulars about Mr. Crocker?"
"Well, of course, I could look up his references and the other papers, if you wish me to. But as I recall it, he came from St. Louis and had excellent references from that city."
"I won't bother you to look anything more up on that just now," said Morgan. "I may be interested in the information later. I'll see what I can find out first."
"How did you come to associate the name of Atwood with that apartment?" inquired Cole.
"I thought that was the name mentioned in the report I have. It was probably a mistake of the man who first went through the building. They often make mistakes in names," Morgan added, reassuringly, as it was not his desire to start Cole on any investigation of his own at this time. "Now, what can you tell me about the Marsh family, second floor north?"
"Well, there's a party I can tell you more about. It made an impression upon me at the time we rented the apartment, because we had to make special arrangements."
"Yes," said Morgan, encouragingly.
"You see," continued Cole, "owing to a death in the family, the people who occupied that apartment moved out in July, and I sublet the apartment for them from the first of August, to a Mr. Gordon Marsh. Mr. Marsh, I understand, was driven off his ranch in Mexico by the revolutionists. As he knew practically no one in the United States to whom he could refer, we finally compromised by his agreeing to pay his rent quarterly in advance."
"How much of a family has he?" asked Morgan.
"Only his wife," returned Cole. "That was one reason we were willing to come to terms with him. We like small families; like Mr. Ames, who rents the apartment where this trouble occurred."
Morgan welcomed this mention of Ames. It gave him an opening for further questions regarding this tenant. He was not overlooking the fact that the Ames family might in some way be connected with the affair.
"I suppose Mr. Ames and his wife are still away?" he inquired.
"Yes," returned Cole. "We received his October rent through his London bankers, White, Wyth, Harding; and only a few days ago, a letter referring to some decorating to be done when he returns next month. By the way, why are you particularly interested in these families?"
"Just happen to be people we didn't get reports on at the building, that is all. Our reports on a case of this kind have to be complete."
"Quite right—quite right," approved Cole, his curiosity evidently satisfied.
"Mr. Marsh and Mr. Ames are friends, are they not?" queried Morgan, casually, as he noted down in his book what Cole had recently told him.
"Not so far as I know. In fact, it hardly could be possible, inasmuch as Mr. Ames and his wife went abroad before Mr. Marsh arrived in Chicago."
THE CABLE FROM LONDON
After leaving the real estate office, Morgan walked south on Broadway to Wilson Avenue and entered the Western Union office. Here he sent a short cable to London. Leaving his address so that the reply could be forwarded to him, he went across the street and took an elevated train for home.
After dinner Morgan settled down in his favorite chair to await Tierney, who had telephoned that he would be there in a little while. As he was filling his pipe for the second time, the bell rang. Morgan opened the door and Tierney bustled in. The cheerful smile, the snappy step, and the careless motion with which Tierney shot his hat into a nearby chair, told Morgan as plainly as words, that his partner brought worth while information. Tierney pulled an easy chair up to the table, and Morgan pushed the tobacco jar and an extra pipe over to him. Tierney filled the pipe, lighted up, and settling back, grinned at Morgan.
"I may have exceeded orders, but I've sure got some dope on that guy, Marsh. You told me to find out what I could about Atwood. I visited various stores in the neighborhood which a family was likely to patronize. No one knew the name. After I had stopped in a cigar store, and found that his name was not in the telephone directory, I figured that there was nothing more I could do along that line until I'd talked things over with you. So I decided to hang around in sight of the house and watch developments."
"At a quarter to three a young woman came out, walked down to Lawrence Avenue and stood on the corner, apparently waiting for a motor bus. As she did not look like anyone I had seen in the house, I gave her the once-over."
"Was she about medium height, slender, with blonde hair and dark blue eyes?" questioned Morgan.
"Well, I didn't get close enough to gaze fondly into her eyes," said Tierney, "but the rest of your description fits all right. Do you know who she is?"
"Probably Miss Atwood," Morgan explained, "daughter of the tenant in the flat across the hall. In the future it will do no harm to keep one eye on her, Tierney."
"I kept both eyes on her today, Morgan, and that's the way I got the dope I did."
Morgan smiled appreciatively, and Tierney went on.
"As I was saying, I watched this girl as she waited for the bus. Suddenly I glanced toward the house, and there was this guy, Marsh, standing just inside the doorway. To me it looked as if he was trying to keep an eye on this girl, without her seeing him if she looked back. So I kept out of sight as far as I could and watched the two of them. Sure enough, in about one minute along comes the bus and the girl gets in. Would you believe it, Morgan, that very minute Marsh dashes across the street, nails an empty taxi and starts after the bus."
"Now, I ain't as quick as you, Morgan, but I sure figured that my cue was to join the procession. Luck was with me, for the minute I got this idea I spotted a Checker taxi and rushed at it so hard the driver nearly fainted. 'Follow that Yellow ahead!' I yelled to the driver, and before he came to a full stop I had jumped in and we were off."
"We trailed down Sheridan Road, through Lincoln Park, and on to Michigan Avenue—the girl in the bus, Marsh in the Yellow, and me in the Checker. Just after we passed Adams Street the Yellow stopped at the curb and Marsh got out. I stopped my cab quick, and as I saw that Marsh was paying off his driver, I settled with mine and got ready for the next move."
"Marsh started down Michigan Avenue, and I could keep pretty close on account of the crowd. Pretty soon I sighted this girl trotting along a little way ahead of us. Now, there's a situation for you, Morgan—Marsh trailing the girl and me trailing Marsh."
At this point Morgan's interest was shown by the fact that he sat forward in his chair with his elbows on his knees, and for the moment forgot to pull at his pipe.
Tierney continued. "The girl turns into a building at six hundred and something Michigan Avenue—I've got the exact number in my book. Marsh strolls over to the curb, while I, taking advantage of his back being turned for the moment, shot into the building after her. She entered an elevator, and I strolled in, too. Luckily, she stood near the door, so I could get into the back of the car and not be specially noticed. She got off at a musical school. As we had been the only two people in the elevator, I took a chance, and said to the man running it, 'Some looker!'"
"'Yes,' he says, 'a fine looking girl. She comes here twice a week.'"
"'Well,' says I, 'that's a good thing for women—to learn music. How long do they teach them?'"
"'You mean, how long does a lesson last?' he asked me."
"'Yes,' I told him."
"'Oh, about a half-hour,' he says. 'Say! What floor do you want?' he shot at me as he reached the top."
"'Good Lord!' I says, winking at him. 'That dame sure upset me. I want to go back two floors.'"
"When he let me out I hustled over to the stairway, went down to the ground floor, and when Marsh had his eyes turned away for a minute, I beat it out and up Michigan."
"Now, Morgan, here's where I was clever. That girl was good for a half-hour and so was Marsh, if he was following her; as I was pretty sure he was. Now you or I haven't seen all of the inside of Marsh's apartment, have we? And yet we suspect this guy, and want to get something on him if we can."
Morgan nodded, and began to smile as he gathered what Tierney was about to tell him.
"Well, Morgan, I figured that a half-hour would give me all the time I needed, so I ran over to the elevated and went back to Lawrence Avenue. I slipped up the alleyway, back of the house, and climbed the rear stairs to Marsh's flat. After thumping on the door several times I made sure no one was home, especially as the shades in the kitchen and the pantry were pulled down. So I pulled out my bunch of keys and had the luck to find one that opened the lock. I closed the door softly, and tiptoed through the kitchen and the dining room. Would you believe it, Morgan—THERE WASN'T A STICK OF FURNITURE IN THOSE ROOMS!"
"You mean the place was empty?" asked Morgan.
"Up to the entrance to the hallway it was absolutely bare, Morgan. The living room is furnished, and so is the bedroom; and there were a few toilet articles in the bathroom. He has a pair of heavy drapes across the doorway to the dining room, so that anyone coming in would never guess the back part wasn't furnished. I looked things over pretty carefully in the few minutes I had, and I didn't find a single article that belonged to a woman. I tell you, Morgan, that fellow's living there alone and only got half the flat furnished! Take it from me, he's got something on. That flat's just a blind. If it was me, I'd lock him up tonight."
"Well, it's coming pretty soon, Tierney," acceded Morgan. "What you've found out today will help a lot."
There was a few minutes pause as the two men smoked their pipes, and Morgan analyzed the facts which Tierney had given him. Suddenly he leaned over and picked up the telephone from the tabouret.
"What's doing?" exclaimed Tierney.
"We shouldn't leave that man Marsh unwatched from now on," explained Morgan.
"I know it, Morgan, and I've taken care of all that."
"You mean the house is watched?"
"Sure," said Tierney. "The minute I got out of the flat this afternoon I telephoned the captain of the precinct and told him just enough to get his co-operation. There's a man on the job now and he won't leave there, unless he follows Marsh, until I relieve him in the morning."
"There's one drawback to that," observed Morgan, as he set the telephone back in place. "No one knows Marsh except you."
"There's a man knows him better than I do—Murphy, the man on the beat. He spent quite a spell with Marsh last night."
"That's right," agreed Morgan. "How did you fix it?"
"The Captain put another man on Murphy's beat, and put Murphy into plain-clothes for tonight. It worked all right, because Murphy was a night man anyway."
"You're all right, Tierney," Morgan complimented him.
Tierney grinned his appreciation.
"Now then, Tierney," went on Morgan, "you relieve Murphy in the morning, and watch things until I can get on the job. After I relieve you, you get in touch with Headquarters and have some fingerprint photos taken."
"Did you find finger prints?" exclaimed Tierney, sitting up with a start.
"No," explained Morgan, "but I found the marks of the sides of somebody's hands on the dining room table in that flat. I want them prepared and photographed just as if they were fingerprints."
"But you can't identify anybody by marks of that kind," remarked Tierney, with an inquiring note in his voice.
"Probably not," Morgan returned. "I haven't the slightest idea how I could make use of such a photo now. But I want to provide against anything that may turn up. The marks are there, and we might as well have a record of them."
Tierney opened his mouth to reply, but at that instant Morgan held up a warning hand.
In many of the older and smaller apartments, such as the one occupied by Morgan, the door from the main hall opens directly into the living room. Such was the arrangement here, and Morgan slowly turned his head toward this door and listened intently. Then he carefully arose from his chair, moved softly around the corner of the table, and slowly tiptoed toward the door. Tierney had not heard a sound, yet he instantly became as alert as Morgan. He stood ready for a quick move, if necessary, while his right hand rested on the butt of the revolver in his hip pocket.
At that moment there was a quite audible sound outside the door. Morgan leaped forward and threw the door open. With the sound of the opening door both men heard somebody break into a hasty descent of the stairs. Morgan dashed through the door and down the stairs. Tierney followed close behind him. Before they reached the front door they heard the roar of an opened muffler and an accelerated engine, and by the time they reached the front steps there was nothing to be seen except the black shadow of an automobile without lights rapidly disappearing down Sheffield Avenue.
"Well, I'm damned!" growled Tierney, as the car disappeared.
Morgan said nothing, but stood thoughtfully gazing down the street.
"What do you make of it?" inquired Tierney.
"Let's go up again," suggested Morgan, without replying to the question.
Back in the living room, the men resumed their seats, and spoke in lowered voices.
"It's hard to tell what it means," Morgan at last replied. "That's the first time anything of the kind ever happened to me."
"How did you get wise?" asked Tierney.
"I heard the door move several times," Morgan explained. "At first I thought it was the wind, but the last time I heard it I was sure it had a different sound. It seemed to me that somebody had leaned against the door while trying to listen."
"By God!" exclaimed Tierney. "This is SOME case, Morgan. Are we spying on somebody, or is somebody spying on us? Marsh trails a girl; I chase up Marsh; and now I'm damned if I don't think somebody's chasing me, too."
"It begins to look like a bigger case than I thought, Tierney. An ordinary murderer usually gets out of town or lays low. Quite likely somebody is afraid we will unearth more than a murder. You run along now. I want to be alone to think things over. On your way home stop off and look up Murphy. Find out whether or not Marsh has left the house tonight. Telephone me what you find out."
"Sure thing," answered Tierney, and picking up his hat, hurried away.
Morgan sat down in his chair and began to refill his pipe. After lighting it, he settled back into his chair and meditated on the case. Reviewing in his mind the various bits of fact, information and incident which he now had at hand, he endeavored to separate or combine them according to their direct bearing upon the case.
In his earlier days Morgan had learned that a criminal case was something like a dusty roadway. Many tracks crossed and re-crossed one another, becoming just a bewildering mass to the untrained eye. In the present instance, the situation in the Atwood apartment had queer aspects which seemed to connect it with the incident of the night before. The suspicious points were not so glaringly apparent, perhaps, as the circumstances which connected the man Marsh, but they were there just the same. While the Atwood situation attracted Morgan, he was inclined to believe that he had actually uncovered some other situation; of a criminal nature, perhaps, but not associated with his present investigations. To one unfamiliar with crime, the incident of Marsh following the girl might have seemed to form a connection, but Morgan realized that if there was anything between the Atwoods and Marsh, the latter would hardly have been secretly following Miss Atwood.
On the other hand, it was quite possible that a clever criminal, of the type he now suspected Marsh to be, having successfully accomplished one job, might have another in mind, which he thought he could execute before forced to make his final getaway. Instead of attributing this incident to a connection between the Atwoods and Marsh, Morgan figured that it weighed somewhat in the Atwoods' favor, while still further incriminating the man Marsh.
At this point in his reflections the telephone bell rang, and answering it, Morgan heard Tierney's voice.
"I've just seen Murphy," reported Tierney. "He says that Marsh came home about seven-thirty and has not been out since; unless he slipped out the back door. This doesn't seem likely as there is another man watching the rear. He don't know Marsh, but he would find out before he let anyone go. Murphy says he has seen a shadow pass the windows several times during the evening, and we are pretty sure that Marsh is the only person in that flat."
"All right," replied Morgan. They exchanged good-byes, and Morgan replaced the telephone on the tabouret.
Settling back into his chair once more, Morgan came to the conclusion that one or more of Marsh's confederates of the night before had simply been endeavoring to get information so as to warn Marsh whether or not he was suspected. Morgan knew that, as usual, he and Tierney had talked in guarded voices, so he felt confident that little, if any, of their conversation had been overheard. It was the anxiety of the person on the other side of the door to try and catch their words which had led him to lean heavily against the door and so warn Morgan of his presence. Morgan felt fairly certain that he would find Marsh at home the next day, and after that, if any reports could be conveyed to him, they would be of little use.
Piecing together, one by one, the various bits of evidence he had accumulated against Marsh, convinced Morgan that this was the man he wanted. The flattened bullet, the cigarette ashes, and the hand marks could not identify anyone. The cuff button, however, with its initial "M" was more direct in its accusation. It might be the principal hold on the suspect. Morgan admitted that the evidence was purely circumstantial, and that there was really nothing in it to convict a man in a court of law, but there was enough evidence to take Marsh up on suspicion, and past experience made him confident that once he had this man at Headquarters, the usual grilling would extract enough information from him to lead them to sufficient evidence of a positive nature.
There was, of course, still a doubt as to whether or not an actual crime had been committed. But something surely had happened, and Morgan began to feel that the next day would throw considerable light on what it was.
Having reached these conclusions, and a determination to visit Marsh the next day and take him into custody, Morgan went to bed.
At the first note from his alarm clock the next morning, Morgan jumped promptly out of bed. After awakening his mother so that she could get his breakfast, he hastily dressed.
Just as he was swallowing the last of his coffee there came a prolonged ring at the bell. His mother went to the door, and returned with a Western Union envelope. "My final bit of evidence!" exclaimed Morgan, as he hurriedly tore off the end of the envelope and read the cablegram within. It was brief and to the point, and read just as Morgan had anticipated it would.
Marsh unknown to me. Ames.
Morgan had hardly expected such an early reply when he sent his inquiry to Mr. Ames regarding his acquaintance with Marsh. It was possible, however, that Mr. Ames had made an early morning call on his London bankers, and had immediately dispatched his reply. Morgan was glad that it had arrived at this opportune moment. With Murphy to testify that Marsh had claimed Ames as a friend, and with this cablegram to prove the falsity of the claim, he had at least one unanswerable piece of evidence of a suspicious nature to warrant his proposed action against the man.
Bidding his mother good-bye, Morgan hurried around to the elevated station. He purchased a package of cigarettes at the news stand, and climbed the steps two at a time to catch a train he heard approaching. A few minutes later he got off at the Wilson Avenue station, crossed Wilson Avenue to Sheridan Road, and turning north soon spotted Tierney at the corner of Lawrence Avenue.
"Hello," Morgan greeted him. "Any news?"
"No," replied Tierney. "I relieved Murphy at six o'clock this morning, and another man has taken up the watch in the alleyway. Murphy saw nothing of Marsh, and he said the light went out in his flat about 10:30. The man who watched the alleyway didn't see a soul except the milkman. Marsh came out a little while ago and I followed him. He had a quick breakfast in the waffle shop just below here, and I trailed him back again."
"I guess I'll find my man in, all right," said Morgan. "I'll go up now. You tell the man in the alleyway to keep his eyes open while I'm inside. In about ten minutes, if he doesn't hear anything from me, he can come up and wait outside Marsh's door. We'll leave him there that long in case Marsh should try to slip out the back way when he hears me at the door. If he doesn't hear from me in ten minutes he can be sure that I got in. He will then probably be more useful close at hand in the event that anything should slip up. After you tell him what to do, you can go ahead with the photographs."
Tierney nodded in acknowledgment of these instructions and started back to the alleyway. Morgan entered the apartment house, climbed the stairs to Marsh's door, and rang the bell. Marsh immediately opened the door. It seemed to Morgan as if Marsh must have been standing there awaiting his ring, yet how could the man have suspected Morgan's intention to call on him at this time? It looked strangely like the man had been on watch at the door.
"Good morning," said Marsh.
"Good morning," returned Morgan. "I want to have a little talk with you."
Marsh invited him in with a pleasant ring in his voice, and indicated the living room with a motion of his hand. Morgan entered and sat down on a chair close to the entrance, laying his hat on the floor by the chair. Marsh watched Morgan sit down in this strategical location, and then, with a slight smile, strolled across and seated himself in a big chair near the fireplace. Resting his elbows on the arms of the chair, and interlacing his fingers in front of him, he looked at Morgan.
"Well?" he said.
Morgan unbuttoned his coat and exhibited his badge. "I am Detective Sergeant Morgan of the Chicago Police Department."
"Oh, yes—Dave Morgan."
Morgan looked at Marsh sharply. "You've heard of me before, have you?" he said.
"Not until early Tuesday morning," smiled Marsh. "Then I heard one of the policemen refer to the fact that this would be a job for Dave Morgan. Evidently you have quite a reputation here in Chicago, Mr. Morgan."
"Among crooks—yes," snapped Morgan. The easy attitude of the other man was just a little puzzling. Morgan, however, was inclined to attribute it to his confidence that they were not in a position to actually fasten any guilt upon him. He suspected that the man was playing a game, and this not only nettled him, but served to strengthen his suspicions. Morgan went on.
"I have been assigned to this murder case upstairs, Mr. Marsh. After considerable investigation I find it will be necessary to ask you a few questions."
Marsh nodded but said nothing.
Morgan sat silent for a moment, as if considering how to begin. Then, without apparently looking at Marsh, he suddenly said, "It's a long jump from Mexico to Chicago."
Marsh unclasped his fingers for a moment and looked hard at Morgan. Morgan caught what he believed to be a start, but gave no indication that it had made an impression upon him.
"I was wondering," he continued, slowly, "what had brought you such a long way."
"Obviously, Mr. Morgan, if you know that much about me, you must also know that I came here on business."
"When do you attend to your business, Mr. Marsh?" asked Morgan, now looking him in the eye.
"At various times of the day," replied Marsh. "Whenever I can get appointments with the people I am negotiating with. I don't quite understand the trend of these questions, but I might say that I was downtown on business the greater part of yesterday afternoon."
"Does standing on a Michigan Avenue curb constitute the principal part of your business, Mr. Marsh?"
"Well, I sometimes fill in my time like that until I am sure the people who are interested in my movements have gone on about their own business."
It was Morgan's turn to look disconcerted. Evidently he had a clever man to deal with, and he began to wonder if his present step had not been too precipitate. He felt sure that it was going to be difficult to fasten anything on this man. He decided, however, that he had gone too far to draw back now, and he went on with his questions.
"In the preliminary report which was given me," he said, "I noticed that you made a statement to the patrolman you called in that the noise in the flat above aroused both you and your wife."
"Yes," admitted Marsh. "I believe I did say something like that."
"But," added Morgan, "we have not been able to get an interview with your wife."
"Such an interview would be quite useless. As a matter of fact, she knows no more, and probably not so much as I do about what took place."
"You're probably right about that," smiled Morgan, and there was a sarcastic ring in his voice. "Just the same, I'd like to have a few words with her."
"You know as well as I do, Mr. Morgan, that that would be impossible."
Morgan raised his eyebrows. "I don't get you," he said.
"Well, to be more explicit, then, you know that my wife does not live here."
"Here's a new game," thought Morgan. There was no doubt that Marsh was openly fencing with him. In fact, the man seemed to know every move which had been made. At last the super-criminal of literature seemed to have stepped into actual life. Morgan was certain that some crime had been committed, and the circumstantial evidence against this man had been accumulating rapidly. Yet, as he faced him and thought it over, he realized how intangible was their hold upon Marsh. Of course, when they got this man down to Headquarters they might force him to give more explicit details regarding his past and present actions, but a man so clever as this had probably left little behind him that would convict him of anything; certainly not of his connection with whatever had taken place in the apartment above. The cuff button, even, seemed to be growing doubtful in value.
These reflections on Morgan's part flashed through his mind so quickly that there was only the slightest pause between Marsh's last statement and the next question.
"What would give you that impression?" asked Morgan.
"Your man went through my apartment yesterday, and I'm sure he found no evidence of a lady occupying it with me."
Morgan found it difficult to conceal his astonishment, not only at the statement, but the man's intimate knowledge of things of which he was supposed to be in ignorance. Then he remembered the clandestine listener at his door, and his doubts of a moment before took flight.
"It is quite evident," declared Morgan, "that you, or someone connected with you, have taken an unusual interest in the movements of the Chicago Police Department. Why?"
"I have taken no special interest in what you have been doing," said Marsh. "It was not difficult to note that almost from the time I called the attention of your man on the beat to the occurrence, your men have been regarding me with suspicion. I cannot possibly understand why this should be so, but you will admit that it is a fact, won't you?"
Morgan remained silent.
"I could not help noticing," continued Marsh, "that the man who had been conducting an investigation in this house was keeping watch across the street. Happening to glance back after entering a taxicab yesterday, I observed this man entering another taxi, which followed mine downtown. It was obvious to the most ordinary intelligence that he was following me. After I reached the 'loop' district I was absolutely sure of it. Then, when I returned and found footmarks in my apartment, it was quite evident that someone had been investigating."
Morgan was stunned. "Footmarks!" he thought. "Had Tierney been so clumsy and careless as to enter the flat with muddy shoes?" Something had to be done to cover an awkward pause, and give him a chance to gather his wits, so Morgan took out the package of cigarettes. After helping himself to one, he tossed the package to Marsh. Morgan noted with satisfaction that the man took one before handing the package back. Marsh smoked cigarettes!
"Why did you follow Miss Atwood?" Morgan suddenly shot at him.
Marsh's face expressed surprise. "Follow Miss Atwood!" he exclaimed.
"That's what it looked like," asserted Morgan.
"Well, that WAS a strange coincidence," commented Marsh.
Morgan found it hard to determine whether this was a reply or an evasion. He decided, however, that matters had gone far enough, and that Marsh must either prove himself innocent, or stay in jail until they could definitely fasten his guilt upon him. To bring matters to a head, he reached into his pocket for the cablegram.
"You said that Mr. Ames, the man who rents the flat upstairs, was a friend of yours."
"I believe I did," admitted Marsh.
"Well, I have a cablegram here from Mr. Ames," stated Morgan, as he brought out the paper. "Read it."
Marsh leaned forward, took the cablegram, read it gravely, and returned it to Morgan.
"You have certainly got me tied up," he said.
"Tight as a drum!" agreed Morgan. "The game's up, Marsh. You're coming with me to Headquarters."
"I'm afraid you have sort of spilled the beans, Morgan," laughed Marsh, rising.
Morgan, however, was used to the last minute plays of cornered criminals. Leaning back in his chair, and smiling encouragingly, his hands, without seeming purpose, were slipped into the side pockets of his coat. The right hand quickly gripped a revolver in readiness.
"Yes," continued Marsh, "I had hoped to work quietly, but this incident has upset my plans. Yet, after all, perhaps we can work together with greater success."
"Now we come to the 'divvy' proposition," thought Morgan. He remained expectantly silent, however, and his face still wore its encouraging smile.
Marsh came closer and the end of the concealed revolver barrel moved upward just a trifle. The next moment the smile on Morgan's face faded out and his eyes filled with an astonished stare.
Marsh had thrown back his coat, revealing the badge of the United States Secret Service!
A DEFINITE CLUE
"You can take your hand off that gun now," suggested Marsh, as he smiled at Morgan and went back to his chair. "I'll tell you my part of the story, and perhaps we'll find in the end that two heads are better than one."
"You have made a big but perhaps a natural mistake. If you doubt my word in anything I am about to tell you, it will only be necessary for you to consult the Secret Service branch in the Federal Building, to confirm my status in this case."
"Without any intention of trying to kid you, Morgan, I want to say this—you've done some quick and clever work in approximately twenty-four hours. I realized from the first that things had framed themselves in a peculiar way against me. Yet, I will say frankly, that I did not expect a local policeman to put the facts together so quickly."
"I am only human, Marsh," broke in Morgan, "and your appreciation sounds good to me. But let's get down to the story."
"Quite right," agreed Marsh. "It begins two years ago. At that time the Government discovered that counterfeit five-dollar bills were appearing in the East. They put me on the case and I traced them from city to city. Suddenly the output seemed to stop. For a time I was at loose ends, and then I had word that they were appearing again in St. Louis. I made a quick jump to that city. Counterfeit five-dollar bills are comparatively easy to pass. A larger bill may attract attention, but five dollars is a commonly used unit. For that reason few people could remember and describe the person who had tendered the bill. But to make a long story short, I finally brought their source close to a man named Atwood, by finding out that his daughter Jane occasionally paid for things with this particular series of counterfeit five-dollar notes."
"I located this man's home, where he lived with his wife and daughter. Neighbors believed him to be a traveling man as he was away a great deal. I never got a look at the man, because in some way he evidently got wind that we were watching him and stayed away from the house. From neighbors, however, I learned that he was tall, well built, dark haired and wore a small mustache. Not exactly a definite description, but one which might help in connection with other things. Finally, I got a new clue from Detroit, which seemed to indicate that I would find the man there. It came to nothing, however, and when I returned to St. Louis I found that Atwood's wife had died in the meantime—that he had stored his furniture, and his daughter was living in an hotel. I figured that there was nothing to do but keep a close watch on her from that time on, and eventually get in touch with Atwood; then, through him, locate the other members of the gang. While there was no direct evidence that such was the case, we know from experience that in a counterfeiting case there are almost always two or more persons engaged in the work."
"One night this girl gave me the slip, and it took me nearly two weeks to trace her to Chicago. Keeping watch on places where these bills occasionally appeared, I recognized her one day, and then located her in this apartment building. Now experience had shown that this case was really a game of patience. So far, little had been accomplished by hanging around the streets and watching the girl. A vacant apartment in this very building gave me an unusual opportunity."
"You know, Morgan, there are few crimes that the Government looks on with such severity as counterfeiting. To apprehend a counterfeiter they will go to any lengths and spend any amount of money. So I received permission to rent this apartment. It gave me the advantage of not only being right in the building constantly, without attracting special attention, but as I was on the floor below the suspects, I had an excellent opportunity to keep an eye on all who passed up and down the stairs. Another fortunate circumstance was the fact that the apartment over me was unoccupied. There could be no question as to where people passing up and down the stairs were going."
"Government men, as you know, Morgan, usually work with the utmost secrecy. Our own local men were not even supposed to know I was here unless the time came when I should need help. It was not logical, therefore, for me to disclose my identity or give any hint of it to the real estate firm that rented me the apartment. That was why I posed as a ranch owner from Mexico, here in Chicago for the purpose of interesting certain financial interests in my property. That left out the entangling subject of references. Naturally, I did not want to waste money on the complete furnishing of an apartment which might be vacated at any moment, so I simply furnished up that part of it which might come under the eye of a stranger. And certainly these two rooms afforded me all the comfort that I required."
"But Marsh," interrupted Morgan. "Why did you make those breaks about your wife, and knowing Ames upstairs?"
"A man in your line of work, Morgan, ought to understand the wife idea, now that you know some of the facts. A supposedly married man passes quite unnoticed, but just give the ladies a hint that a bachelor is in the house and immediately everyone focuses attention upon him. He is a poor, lonesome man, to be pitied, and every woman in the house would have lain awake nights figuring how she could introduce me to a marriageable young woman. So I invented Mrs. Marsh as a protection."
"I'll admit that my claim of friendship with Ames didn't work out well in this instance. However, it was an idea conceived in a hurry, and in the ordinary course of events would have really attracted little, if any, attention. You realize that I was in this house to watch certain people without disclosing my identity in any way. I knew positively that the flat over me was closed and empty. Then I was awakened suddenly in the night by a most suspicious disturbance. Naturally, I connected it immediately with the people I was watching. If I took an active interest in this trouble it might force my hand, because a moment's consideration will show you that the connection was only a guess on my part, and MIGHT not be a fact. My first thought, therefore, was to get the local police on the job as quickly as possible and still keep in touch with the incident myself."
"You may ask why I didn't telephone the Police Department, instead of running into the street. When I looked at my watch I saw that it was two o'clock, and I knew from observation that a patrolman was likely to be within a block or two of the house at that hour. On the other hand, if I telephoned, it might be twenty minutes before your men arrived, and you know, Morgan, that a lot can happen in twenty minutes."
"After your man had telephoned for help he was disinclined to have me butt into the matter any further. Yet, you can see how imperative it was for me to be on the job as well as your men. The first thought, and the most logical excuse, which came to my mind, was to tell the patrolman that the tenant of the flat was a personal friend of mine. This made it seem perfectly natural for me to follow up his interests in the matter. As to keeping track of your movements, it was only natural that I would want to keep in touch with your progress in the case as much as possible."
"One question, Marsh," said Morgan. "How in thunder could you see my partner's footsteps, as you said you did, in your apartment?"
"Through a very simple precaution that I have taken ever since I moved in here—a little talcum powder sprinkled over the dining room floor. Now, Morgan, I have laid my cards on the table. You can see the close connection that probably exists between the Atwood counterfeiting case and whatever took place in the flat over us. If you have found out anything, outside of what you supposed to be my connection with the case, I would like to have the information.
"So that you can see how close the connection between the two cases really is, I will tell you that after your men left Tuesday morning, I did a little further investigating on my own account, and found what I believed to be a definite clue to the Atwoods' connection with the trouble."
"What was that?" asked Morgan.
"A SMALL SMEAR OF BLOOD ON THE DOORKNOB OF THE ATWOOD APARTMENT!"
The fact that Marsh, who had been surrounded by such suspicious circumstances that Morgan had been enabled to build up one of his quickest cases, had now turned out to be an operative of the Federal Government, was one of the most astounding things with which Morgan had ever met. It was obvious that for once in his life he had followed persistently on a blind trail, and now found himself only a little better off than when he started. Naturally, his professional pride was hurt, but the candid way in which Marsh had, to use his own words, laid his cards on the table, appealed to Morgan. He felt that this Government man was both broad-minded and efficient. He realized that there was surely more to gain by accepting Marsh's proposition, and working with him, than there would be if each worked alone, and very probably at cross purposes. The story which Marsh had told him, the surprising clue he had just offered, and the facts in his own possession, showed conclusively the close connection between the affair of the empty apartment and the Atwood counterfeiting case. Locating the murderer would undoubtedly bring the counterfeiters to light, and in the same way, locating the counterfeiters would probably disclose the perpetrator of this now unquestioned crime.