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Full text of "The million-dollar suitcase"

THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 



THE MILLION- 
DOLLAR SUITCASE 

BY 

ALICE MACGOWAN 

AND 

PERRY NEWBERRY 




NEW YORK 
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY 

PUBLISHERS 



Copyright, 1922, by 
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY 

Copyright, 1921, by 

THE CURTIS PUBLISHING COMPANY 

under the title "Two and Two" 



Printed in the United. States of A merica 






CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAG1 

I WORTH GILBERT i 

II SIGHT UNSEEN 16 

III A WEDDING PARTY 27 

IV AN APPARITION 45 

V AT THE ST. DUNSTAN 57 

VI Ox THE ROOF 65 

VII THE GOLD NUGGET 75 

VIII A TIN-HORN GAMBLER 87 

IX SANTA YSOBEL 101 

X A SHADOW IN THE FOG no 

XI THE MISSING DIARY 124 

XII A MURDER 137 

XIII DR. BOWMAN 147 

XIV SEVEN LOST DAYS 155 

XV AT DYKEMAN S OFFICE 164 

XVI A LUNCHEON 171 

XVII CLEANSING FIRES 181 

XVIII THE TORN PAGE 188 

XIX ON THE HILL-TOP 196 

XX AT THE COUNTRY CLUB 209 

XXI A MATTER OF TASTE 214 

496438 



CONTENTS 



PAGB 



CHAPTER 

XXII A DINNER INVITATION 225 

XXIII A BIT OF SILK 231 

XXIV THE MAGNET :., . ; . 240 

XXV AN ARREST . 250 

XXVI MRS. BOWMAN SPEAKS 261 

XXVII THE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 273 

XXVIII THE COUNTRY CLUB BALL 293 

XXIX UNMASKED 303 

XXX A CONFESSION 311 

XXXI THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE . . . 320 



THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 



The Million-Dollar Suitcase 

CHAPTER I 

WORTH GILBERT 

ON the blank silence that followed my last words, 
there in the big, dignified room with its Cir 
cassian walnut and sound-softening rugs, Dykeman, 
the oldest director, squalled out as though he had been 
bitten, 

"All there is to tell! But it can t be! It isn t 
possib " His voice cracked, split on the word, and 
the rest came in an agonized squeak, "A man can t 
just vanish into thin air!" 

"A man! Knapp, the cashier, echoed. "A suitcase 
full of money our money can t vanish into thin air 
in the course of a few hours." 

Feverishly they passed the timeworn phrase back 
and forth; it would have been ludicrous if it hadn t 
been so deadly serious. Well, money when you come 
to think of it, is its very existence to such an institu 
tion ; it was not to be wondered at that the twelve men 
around the long table in the directors room of the 
Van Ness Avenue Savings Bank found this a life or 
death matter. 

"How much ?" began heavy-set, heavy-voiced old 
Anson, down at the lower end, but stuck and got no 
further. There was a smitten look on every face at 
the contemplation a suitcase could hold so unguess- 



/4 2; ; THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

ably great a sum expressed in terms of cash and 
securities. 

"We ll have the exact amount in a few moments 
I ve just set them to verifying," President Whipple 
indicated with a slight backward nod the second and 
smaller table in the room, where two clerks delved 
mole-like among piles of securities, among greenbacks 
and yellowbacks bound round with paper collars, and 
stacks of coin. 

The blinds were down, only the table lamps on, and 
a gooseneck over where the men counted. It put the 
place all in shadow, and threw out into bolder relief the 
faces around that board, gray-white, denatured, all with 
the financier s curiously unhuman look. The one 
fairly cheerful countenance in sight was that of A. G. 
Cummings, the bank s attorney. 

For myself, I was only waiting to hear what results 
those clerks would bring us. So far, Whipple had 
been quite noncommittal : the extraordinary state of 
the market everything so upset that a bank couldn t 
afford even the suspicion of a loss or irregularity 
hinting at something in his mind not evident to the 
rest of us. I was just rising to go round and ask him 
quietly if, having reported, I might not be excused to 
get on the actual work, when the door opened. 

I can t say why the young fellow who stood in it 
should have seemed so foreign to the business in hand ; 
perhaps the carriage of his tall figure, the military 
abruptness of his movements, the way he swung the 
door far back against the wall and halted there, look 
ing us over. But I do know that no sooner had 
Worth Gilbert, lately home from France, crossed the 
threshold, meeting Whipple s outstretched hand, nod- 



WORTH GILBERT 3 

ding carelessly to the others, than suddenly every man 
in the room seemed older, less a man. We were dead 
ones ; he the only live wire in the place. 

"Boyne," the president turned quickly to me, "would 
you mind going over for Captain Gilbert s benefit what 
you ve just said?" 

The newcomer had, so far, not made any movement 
to join the circle at the table. He stood there, chin up, 
looking straight at us all, but quite through us. At 
the back of the gaze was a something between weary 
and fierce that I have noticed in the eyes of so many 
of our boys home from what they d witnessed and gone 
through over there, when forced to bring their atten 
tion to the stale, bloodless affairs of civil life. Used 
to the instant, conclusive fortunes of war, they can 
hardly handle themselves when matters hitch and halt 
upon customs and legalities ; the only thing that appeals 
to them is the big chance, win or lose, and have it over. 
Such a man doesn t speak the language of the group 
that was there gathered. Just looking at him, old 
Dykeman rasped, without further provocation, 

"What s Captain Gilbert got to do with the private 
concerns of this bank?" 

As though the words and their tone had been a 
cordial invitation, rather than an offensive challenge, 
the young man, who had still shown no sign of 
an intention to come into the meeting at all, walked 
to the table, drew out a chair and sat down. 

"Pardon me, Mr. Dykeman," Cummings voice 
had a wire edge on it, "the Hanford block of stock in 
this bank has, as I think you very well know, passed 
fully into Gilbert hands to-day." 



4 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Thomas A. Gilbert/ Dykeman was sparing of 
words. 

"Captain Worth Gilbert s father," Whipple at 
tempted pacification. "Mr. Gilbert senior was with 
me till nearly noon, closing up the transfer. He had 
hardly left when we discovered the shortage. After 
consultation, Knapp and I got hold of Cummings. 
We wanted to get you gentlemen here have the cap 
ital of the bank represented, as nearly as we could 
and found that Mr. Gilbert had taken the twelve-forty- 
five train for Santa Ysobel ; so, as Captain Gilbert was 
to be found, we felt that if we got him it would be 
practically er quite the same thing " 

Worth Gilbert had sat in the chair he selected, abso 
lutely indifferent. It was only when Dykeman, hang 
ing to his point, spoke again, that I saw a quick gleam 
of blue fire come into those hawk eyes under the slant 
brow. He gave a sort of detached attention as 
Dykeman sputtered indecently. 

"Not the same thing at all! Sons can t always 
speak for fathers, any more than fathers can always 
speak for sons. In this case " 

He broke off with his ugly old mouth open. Worth 
Gilbert, the son of divorced parents, with a childhood 
that had divided time between a mother in the East 
and a California father, surveyed the parchment-like 
countenance leisurely after the crackling old voice was 
hushed. Finally he grunted inarticulately (I m sorry 
I can t find a more imposing word for a returned 
hero) ; and answered all objections with, 

"I m here now and here I stay. What s the 
excitement?" 



WORTH GILBERT 5 

"I was just asking Mr. Boyne to tell you," Whipple 
came in smoothly. 

Xo one else offered any objections. What I re 
peated, briefly, amounted to this: 

Directly after closing time to-day which was noon, 
as this \vas Saturday Knapp, the cashier of the bank, 
had discovered a heavy shortage, and it was decided 
on a quick investigation that Edward Clayte, one of 
the paying tellers, had walked out with the money in 
a suitcase. I was immediately called in on what 
appeared a wade-open trail, with me so close behind 
Clayte that you d have said there was nothing to it. 
I followed him and the suitcase to his apartment 
at the St. Dunstan, found he d got there at twenty- 
five minutes to one, and I barely three quarters of an 
hour after. 

"How do you get the exact minute Clayte arrived?" 
Anson stopped me at this point, "and the positive 
knowledge that he had the suitcase with him?" 

"Clayte asked the time from the clerk at the desk 
as he came in. He put the suitcase down while he 
set his watch. The clerk saw him pick it up and go 
into the elevator; Mrs. Griggsby, a w oman at work 
mending carpet on the seventh floor which is his 
saw him come out of the elevator carrying it, and let 
himself into his room. There the trail ends." 

"Ends?" As my voice halted young Gilbert s word 
came like a bullet. "The trail can t end unless the 
man was there." 

"Or the suitcase," little old Sillsbee quavered, and 
Worth Gilbert gave him a swift, half-humorous glance. 

"Bath and bedroom," I said, "that suite has three 



6 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

windows, seven stories above the ground. I found 
them all locked not mere latches the St. Dunstan 
has burglar-proof locks. No disturbance in the room ; 
all neat, in place, the door closed with the usual spring 
lock; and I had to get Mrs. Griggsby to move, since 
she was tacking the carpet right at the threshold. 
Everything was in that room that should have been 
there except Gayte and the suitcase." 

The babel of complaint and suggestion broke out as 
I finished, exactly as it had done when I got to this 
point before : "The Griggsby woman ought to be kept 
under surveillance"; "The clerk, the house servants 
ought to be watched," and so on, and so on. I 
curtly reiterated my assurance that such routine 
matters had been promptly and thoroughly attended to. 
My nerves were getting raw. I m not so young as I 
was. This promised to be one of those grinding cases 
where the detective agency is run through the rollers 
so many times that it comes out pretty slim in the end, 
whether that end is failure or success. 

The only thing in sight that it didn t make me sick 
to look at was that silent young fellow sitting there, 
never opening his trap, giving things a chance to 
develop, not rushing in on them with the forceps. It 
was a crazy thing for Whipple to call this meeting 
have all these old, scared men on my back before I 
could take the measure of what I was up against. 
What, exactly, had the Van Ness Avenue Bank lost? 
That, and not anything else, was the key for my first 
moves. And at last a clerk crossed to our table, 
touched Whipple s arm and presented a sheet of paper. 

"I ll read the total, gentlemen." The president 
stared at the sheet he held, moistened his lips, gulped, 



WORTH GILBERT 7 

gasped, "I I d no idea it was so much!" and finished 
in a changed voice, "nine hundred and eighty seven 
thousand, two hundred and thirty four dollars/ 

A deathlike hush. Dykeman s mere look was a call 
for the ambulance; Anson slumped in his chair; little 
old Sillsbee sat twisted away so that his face was in 
shadow, but the knuckles showed bone white where his 
hand gripped the table top. None of them seemed 
able to speak; the young voice that broke startlingly 
on the stillness had the effect of scaring the others, 
with its tone of nonchalance, rather than reassuring 
them. Worth Gilbert leaned forward and looked 
round in my direction with, 

"This is beginning to be interesting. What do the 
police say of it? 

"We ve not thought well to notify them yet." 
Whipple s eye consulted that of his cashier and he 
broke off. Quietly the clerks got out with the last 
load of securities; Knapp closed the door carefully 
behind them, and as he returned to us, Whipple re 
peated, "I had no idea it was so big, his tone almost 
pleading as he looked from one to the other. "But I 
felt from the first that we d better keep this thing to 
ourselves. We don t want a run on the bank, and 
under present financial conditions, almost anything 
might start one. But almost a million dollars!" 

He seemed unable to go on; none of the other men 
at the table had anything to offer. It was the silent 
youngster, the outsider, who spoke again. 

"I suppose Clayte was bonded for what that s 
worth?" 

"Fifteen thousand dollars," Knapp, the cashier, gave 
ic information dully. The sum sounded pitiful be- 



8 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

side that which, we were to understand, had traveled 
out of the bank as currency and unregistered securities 
in Clayte s suitcase. 

"Bonding company will hound him, won t they?" 
young Gilbert put it bluntly. "Will the Clearing 
House help you out?" in the tone of one discussing a 
lost umbrella. 

"Not much chance now." Whipple s face was 
sickly. "You know as well as I do that we are going 
to get little help from outside. I want you to all stand 
by me now keep this quiet among ourselves 

"Among ourselves !" rapped out Kirkpatrick. "Then 
it leaks we have a? run and where are you?" 

"No, no. Just long enough to give Boyne here a 
chance to recover our money without publicity try it 
out, anyhow." 

"Well," said Anson sullenly, "that s what he s paid 
for. How long is it going to take him?" 

I made no attempt to answer that fool question; 
Cummings spoke for me, lawyer fashion, straddling 
the question, bringing up- the arguments pro and con. 

"Your detective asks for publicity to assist his 
search. You refuse it. Then you ve got to be in 
dulgent with him in the matter of time. Understand 
me, you may be right ; I m not questioning the wisdom 
of secrecy, though as a lawyer I generally think the 
sooner you get to the police with a crime the better. 
You all can see how publicity and a sizable reward 
offered would give Mr. Boyne a hundred thousand 
assistants conscious and unconscious to help nab 
Clayte." 

"And we d be a busted bank before you found him-," 



WORTH GILBERT 9 

groaned Knapp. "We ve got to keep this thing to 
ourselves. I agree with Whipple." 

"It s all we can do," the president repeated. 

"Suppose a State bank examiner walks in on you 
Monday?" demanded the attorney. 

"We take that chance that serious chance," re 
plied Whipple solemnly. 

Silence after that again till Cummings spoke. 

"Gentlemen, there are here present twelve of the 
principal stockholders of the bank." He paused a 
moment to estimate. "The capital is practically rep 
resented. Speaking as your legal advisor, I am obliged 
to say that you should not let the bank take such a 
risk as Mr. Whipple suggests. You are threatened 
with a staggering loss, but, after all, a high percent of 
money lost by defalcations is recovered made good 
wholly or in part." 

"Nearly a million dollars !" croaked old Sillsbee. 

"Yes, yes, of course," Cummings agreed hastily; 
"the larger amount s against you. The men who can 
engineer such a theft are almost as strong as you are. 
You ve got to make every edge cut use every weapon 
that s at hand. And most of all, gentlemen, you ve 
got to stand together. No dissensions. As a tem 
porary expedient to keep the bank sufficiently under 
cover and still allow Boyne the publicity he needs- 
replace this money pro rata among yourselves. That 
wouldn t clean any of you. Announce a small defal 
cation, such as Clayte s bond would cover, so you 
could collect there ; use all the machinery of the police. 
Then when Clayte s found, the money recovered, you 
reimburse yourselves." 



io THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"But if he s never found! If it s never recovered?" 
Knapp asked huskily; he was least able of any man 
in the room to stand the loss. 

"What do you say, Gilbert?" The attorney looked 
toward the young man, who, all through the discus 
sion, had been staring straight ahead of him. He 
came round to the lawyer s question like one roused 
from other thoughts, and agreed shortly. 

"Not a bad bet." 

"Well Boyne " Whipple was giving way an 
inch at a time. 

"It s a peculiar case," I began, then caught myself 
up with, "All cases are peculiar. The big point here 
is to get our man before he can get rid of the money. 
W T e were close after Clayte ; even that locked room 
in the St. Dunstan needn t have stopped us. If he 
wasn t in it, he was somewhere not far outside it. 
He d had no time to make a real getaway. All I 
needed to lay hands on him was a good description/ 

"Description?" echoed Whipple. "Your agency s 
got descriptions on file thumb prints photographs 
of every employee of this bank." 

"Every one of em but Clayte," I said. "When I 
came to look up the files, there wasn t a thing on him. 
Don t think I ever laid eyes on the man myself." 

A description of Edward Clayte? Every man at 
the table even old Sillsbee sat up and opened his 
mouth to give one; but Knapp beat them to it, with, 

"Clayte s worked in this bank eight years. We all 
know him. You can get just as many good descrip 
tions as there are people on our payroll or directors 
in this room and plenty more at the St. Dunstan, 
I ll be bound." 



WORTH GILBERT 11 

"You think so?" I said wearily. "I have not been 
idle, gentlemen; I have interviewed his associates. 
Listen to this; it is a composite of the best I ve been 
able to get." I read: "Edward Clayte; height about 
five feet seven or eight; weight between one hundred 
and forty and one hundred and fifty pounds ; age some 
where around forty; smooth face; medium complex 
ion, fairish; brown hair; light eyes; apparently com 
monplace features; dressed neatly in blue business 
suit, black shoes, black derby hat " 

"Wait a minute," interposed Knapp. "Is that what 
they gave you at the St. Dunstan what he was wear 
ing when he came in?" 

I nodded. 

"Well, I d have said he had on tan shoes and a fe 
dora. He did or was that yesterday? But aside 
from that, it s a perfect description; brings the man 
right up before me." 

I heard a chuckle from Worth Gilbert. 

"That description," I said, "is gibberish; mere 
words. Would it bring Clayte up before any one 
who had never seen him? Ask Captain Gilbert, who 
doesn t know the man. I say that s a list of the points 
at which he resembles every third office man you meet 
on the street. What I want is the points at which 
he d differ. You have all known Clayte for years; 
forget his regularities, and tell me his peculiarities 
looks, manners, dress or habits." 

There was a long pause, broken finally by Whipple. 

"He never smoked," said the bank president. 

"Occasionally he did," contradicted Knapp, and the 
pause continued till I asked, 

"Any peculiarities of clothing?" 



12 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Oh, yes," said Whipple. "Very neat. Usually 
blue serge." 

"But sometimes gray," added Knapp, heavily, and 
old Sillsbee piped in, 

"I ve seen that feller wear pin-check; I know I 
have." 

I was fed up on clothes. 

"How did he brush his hair?" I questioned. 

"Smoothed down from a part high on the left/* 
Knapp came back promptly. 

"On the right," boomed old Anson from the foot 
of the table. 

"Sometimes yes I guess he did," Knapp con 
ceded hesitantly. 

"Oh, well then, what color was it? Maybe you can 
agree better on that." 

"Sort of mousy color," Knapp thought. 

"O Lord! Mousy colored!" groaned Dykeman 
under his breath. "Listen to em!" 

"Well, isn t it?" Knapp was a bit stung. 

"House mousy, or field mousy ?" Cummings wanted 
to know. 

"Knapp s right enough," Whipple said with dignity. 
"The man s hair is a medium brown indeterminate 
brown." He glanced around the table at the heads of 
hair under the electric lights. "Something the color 
of Merrill s," and a director began stroking his hair 
nervously. 

"No, no; darker than Merrill s," broke in Kirk- 
patrick. "Isn t it, Knapp?" 

"Why, I was going to say lighter," admitted the 
cashier, discouragedly. 



WORTH GILBERT 13 

"Never mind," I sighed. "Forget the hair. Come 
on what color are his eyes?" 

"Blue," said Whipple. 

"Gray," said Knapp. 

"Brown," said Kirkpatrick. 

They all spoke in one breath. And as I despair 
ingly laid down my pencil, the last man repeated 
firmly, 

"Brown. But they might be light brown or 
hazel, y know." 

"But, after all, Boyne," Whipple appealed to me, 
"you ve got a fairly accurate description of the man, 
one that fits him all right." 

"Does it? Then he s description proof. No moles, 
scars or visible marks?" I suggested desperately. 

"None." There was a negative shaking of heads. 

"No mannerisms? No little tricks, such as a twist 
of the mouth, a mincing step, or a head carried on 
one side? 

More shakes of negation from the men who knew 
Clayte. 

"Well, at least you can tell me who are his friends 
his intimates?" 

Nobody answered. 

"He must have friends?" I urged. 

"He hasn t/ maintained Whipple. "Knapp is as 
close to him as any man in San Francisco." 

The cashier squirmed, but said nothing. 

"But outside the bank. Who were his associates?" 

"Don t think he had any," from Knapp. 

"Relatives?" 

"None I know he hadn t." 



14 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Girls? Lord! Didn t he have a girl?" 

"Not a girl." 

"No associates no girl? For the love of Mike, 
what could such a man intend to do with all that 
money?" I gasped. "Where did he spend his time 
when he wasn t in the bank?" 

Whipple looked at his cashier for an answer. But 
Knapp was sitting, head down, in a painful brown 
study, and the president himself began haltingly. 

"Why, he was perhaps the one man in the bank that 
I knew least about. The truth is he was so unobjec 
tionable in every way, personally unobtrusive, quite 
unimportant and uninteresting; really er un-every- 
thing, such a a " 

"Shadow," Cummings suggested. 

"That s the word- shadow I never thought to 
inquire where he went till he walked out of here this 
noon with the bank s money crammed in that suit 



case." 



"Was the Saturday suitcase a regular thing?" I 
asked, and Whipple looked bewildered. But Knapp 
woke up with, 

"Oh, yes. For years. Studious fellow. Books to 
be exchanged at the public library, I think. No " 
Knapp spoke heavily. "Come to think of it, guess 
that was special work. He told me once he was 
taking some sort of correspondence course." 

"Special work!" chuckled Worth Gilbert. "I ll tell 
the world !" 

"Oh, well, give me a description of the suitcase," 
I hurried. 

"Brown. Sole-leather. That s all I ever noticed," 
from Whipple, a bit stiffly. 



WORTH GILBERT 15 

"Brass rings and lock, I suppose?" 

"Brass or nickel; I don t remember. What d you 
say, Knapp?" 

"I wouldn t know now, if it was canvas and tin," 
replied the harried cashier. 

"Gentlemen," I said, looking across at the clock, 
"since half-past two my men have been watching docks, 
ferries, railroad stations, every garage near the St. 
Dunstan, the main highways out of town. Seven of 
them on the job, and in the first hour they made ten 
arrests, on that description ; and every time, sure they 
had their man. They thought, just as you seem to 
think, that the bunch of words described something. 
We re getting nowhere, gentlemen, and time means 
money here." 



CHAPTER II 

SIGHT UNSEEN 

IN the squabble and snatch of argument, given dignity 
only because it concerned the recovery of near a 
million dollars, we seemed to have lost Worth Gilbert 
entirely. He kept his seat, that chair he had taken 
instantly when old Dykeman seemed to wish to have 
it denied him ; but he sat on it as though it were a lone 
rock by the sea. I didn t suppose he was hearing 
what we said any more than he would have heard the 
mewing of a lot of gulls, when, on a sudden silence, 
he burst out, 

"For heaven s sake, if you men can t decide on any 
thing, sell me the suitcase! I ll buy it, as it is, and 
clean up the job." 

"Sell you the suitcase Clayte s suitcase?" They 
sat up on the edge of their chairs ; bewildered, incred 
ulous, hostile. Such a bunch is very like a herd of 
cattle; anything they don t understand scares them. 
Even the attorney studied young Gilbert with curious 
interest. I was mortal glad I hadn t said what was 
the fact, that with the naming of the enormous sum 
lost I was certain this was a sizable conspiracy with 
long-laid plans. They were mistrustful enough as 
Whipple finally questioned, 

"Is this a bona-fide offer, Captain Gilbert?" and 
Dykeman came in after him. 

16 



SIGHT UNSEEN 17 

"A gambler s chance at stolen money is that what 
you figure on buying, sir? Is that it?" And heavy- 
faced Anson asked bluntly, 

"Who s to set the price on it? You or us? There s 
practically a million dollars in that suitcase. It be 
longs to the bank. If you ve got an idea that you can 
buy up the chance of it for about fifty percent you re 
mistaken. We have too much faith in Mr. Boyne 
and his agency for that. Why, at this moment, one 
of his men may have laid hands on Clayte, or found 
the man who planned " 

He stopped with his mouth open. I saw the same 
suspicion that had taken his breath away grip mo 
mentarily every man at the table. A hint of it was 
in Whipple s voice as he asked, gravely : 

"Do you bind yourself to pursue Clayte and bring 
him, if possible, to justice?" 

"Bind myself to nothing. I ll give eight hundred 
thousand dollars for that suitcase." 

He fumbled in his pocket with an interrogative look 
at Whipple, and, "May I smoke in here?" and lit a 
cigarette without waiting a reply. 

Banking institutions take some pains to keep in 
their employ no young men who are known to play 
poker; but a poker face at that board would have ac 
quired more than its share of dignity. As it was, you 
could see, almost as though written there, the agoniz 
ing doubt running riot in their faces as to whether 
Worth Gilbert was a young hero coming to the bank s 
rescue, or a con man playing them for suckers. It 
was Knapp who said at last, huskily, 

"I think we should close with Captain Gilbert s 
offer." The cashier had a considerable family, and I 



i8 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

knew his recently bought Pacific Avenue home was not 
all paid for. 

"We might consider it," Whipple glanced doubt 
fully at his -associates. "If everything else fails, this 
might be a way out of the difficulty for us." 

If everything else failed! President Whipple was 
certainly no poker player. Worth Gilbert gave one 
swift look about the ring of faces, pushed a brown, 
muscular left hand out on the table top, glancing at 
the wrist watch there, and suggested brusquely, 

"Think it over. My offer holds for fifteen minutes. 
Time to get at all the angles of the case. Huh! 
Gentlemen! I seem to have started something!" 

For the directors and stockholders of the Van Ness 
Avenue Savings Bank were at that moment almost as 
yappy and snappy as a wolf pack. Dykeman wanted 
to know about the one hundred and eighty seven thou 
sand odd dollars not covered by Worth s offer did 
they lose that ? Knapp was urging that Clayte s bond, 
when they d collected, would shade the loss; Whipple 
reminding them that they d have to spend a good deal 
maybe a great deal on the recovery of the suit 
case; money that Worth Gilbert would have to spend 
instead if they sold to him; and finally an ugly mutter 
from somewhere that maybe young Gilbert wouldn t 
have to spend so very much to recover that suitcase 
maybe he wouldn t ! 

The tall young fellow looked thoughtfully at his 
watch now and again. Cummings and I chipped into 
the thickest of the row and convinced them that he 
meant what he said, not only by his offer, but by its 
time limit. 

"How about publicity, if this goes?" Whipple sud- 



SIGHT UNSEEN 19 

denly interrogated, raising his voice to top the pack- 
yell. "Even with eight hundred thousand dollars in 
our vaults, a run s not a thing that does a bank any 
good. I suppose," stretching up his head to see across 
his noisy associates, "I suppose, Captain Gilbert, you ll 
be retaining Boyne s agency? In that case, do you 
give him the publicity he wants?" 

"Course he does!" Dykeman hissed. "Can t you 
see? Damn fool wants his name in the papers! 
Rotten story like this about some lunatic buying a 
suitcase with a million in it would ruin any bank 
if it got into print." Dykeman s breath gave out. 
"And it s it s just the kind of story the accursed 
yellow press would eat up. Let it alone, Whipple. 
Let his damned offer alone. There s a joker in it 
somewhere." 

"There won t be any offer in about three minutes/ 
Cummings quietly reminded them. "If you d asked 
my opinion and giving you opinions is what you pay 
me a salary for I d have said close with him while 
you can." 

Whipple gave me an agonized glance. I nodded 
affirmatively. He put the question to vote in a breath ; 
the ayes had it, old Dykeman shouting after them in 
an angry squeak. 

"No! No!" and adding as he glared about him, 
"I d like to be able to look a newspaper in the face; 
but never again! Never again!" 

I made my way over to Gilbert and stood in front 
of him. 

"You ve bought something, boy," I said. "If you 
mean to keep me on as your detective, you can assure 
these people that I ll do my darndest to give informa- 



20 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

tion to the police and keep it out of the papers. What s 
happened here won t get any further than this room 
through me." 

"You re hired, Jerry Boyne." Gilbert slapped me 
on the back affectionately. After all, he hadn t 
changed so much in his four years over there; I be 
gan to see more than traces of the enthusiastic young 
ster to whom I used to spin detective yarns in the 
grill at the St. Francis or on the rocks by the Cliff 
House. "Sure, we ll keep it out of the papers. Suits 
me. I d rather not pose as the fool soon parted from 
his money." 

The remark was apropos; Knapp had feverishly 
beckoned the lawyer over to a little side desk; they 
were down at it, the light snapped on, writing, trying 
to frame up an agreement that would hold water. 
One by one the others went and looked on nervously 
as they worked; by the time they d finished some 
thing, everybody d seen it but Worth; and when it 
was finally put in his hands, all he seemed to notice 
was the one point of the time they d set for payment. 

"It ll be quite some stunt to get the amount to 
gether by ten o clock Monday," he said slowly. 
"There are securities to be converted " 

He paused, and looked up on a queer hush. 

"Securities?" croaked Dykeman. "To be con 
verted? Oh!" 

"Yes," in some surprise. "Or would the bank 
prefer to have them turned over in their present 
form?" 

Again a strained moment, broken by Whipple s 
nervous, 



SIGHT UNSEEN 21 

"Maybe that would be better," and a quickly sup 
pressed chuckle from Cummings. 

The agreement was in duplicate. It gave Worth 
Gilbert complete ownership of a described sole-leather 
suitcase and its listed contents, and, as he had de 
manded, it bound him to nothing save the payment. 
Cummings said frankly that the transaction was 
illegal from end to end, and that any assurance as to 
the bank s ceasing to pursue Clayte would amount to 
compounding a felony. Yet we all signed solemnly, 
the lawyer and I as witnesses. A financier s idea of 
indecency is something about money which hasn t 
formerly been done. The directors got sorer and 
sorer as Worth Gilbert s cheerfulness increased. 

"Acts as though it were a damn crap game," I 
heard Dykeman muttering to Sillsbee, who came back 
vacuously. 

"Craps ? they say our boys did shoot craps a good 
deal over there. Well uh they were risking their 
lives." 

And that s as near as any of them came, I suppose, 
to understanding how a weariness of the little inter 
weaving plans of tamed men had pushed Worth Gil 
bert into carelessly staking his birthright on a chance 
that might lend interest to life, a hazard big enough 
to breeze the staleness out of things for him. 

We were leaving the bank, Gilbert and I ahead, 
Cummings right at my boy s shoulder, the others hold 
ing back to speak together, (bitterly enough, if I am 
any guesser) when Worth said suddenly, 

"You mentioned in there it s being illegal for the 
bank to give up the pursuit of Clayte. Seems funny 



22 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

to me, but I suppose you know what you re talking 
about. Anyhow" he was lighting another cigarette 
and he glanced sharply at Cummings across it "any 
how, they won t waste their money hunting Clayte 
now, should you say? That s my job. That s where 
I get my cash back." 

"Oh, that s where, is it?" The lawyer s dry tone 
might have been regarded as humorous. We stood in 
the deep doorway, hunching coat collars, looking into 
the foggy street. Worth s interest in life seemed to 
be freshening moment by moment. 

"Yes," he agreed briskly. "I m going to keep you 
and Boyne busy for a while. You ll have to show me 
how to hustle the payment for those Shylocks, and 
Jerry s got to find the suitcase, so I can eat. But I ll 
help him." 

Cummings stared at the boy. 

"Gilbert," he said, "where are you going? right 
now, I mean." 

"To Boyne s office." 

We stepped out to the street where the line of 
limousines waited for the old fellows inside, my own 
battleship-gray roadster, pretty well hammered but still 
a mighty capable machine, far down at the end. As 
Worth moved with me toward it, the lawyer walked 
at his elbow. 

"Seat for me?" he glanced at the car. "I ve a few 
words of one syllable to say to this young man 
council that I ought to get in as early as possible." 

I looked at little Pete dozing behind the wheel, and 
answered, 

"Take you all right, if I could drive. But I 



SIGHT UNSEEN 23 

sprained my thumb on a window lock looking over that 
room at the St. Dunstan." 

Til drive/ Worth had circled the car with surpris 
ing quickness for so large a man. I saw him on the 
other side, waiting for Pete to get out so he could get 
in. Curious the intimate, understanding look he gave 
the monkey as he flipped a coin at him with, "Buy 
something to burn, kid." Pete s idea of Worth Gil 
bert would be quite different from that of the directors 
in there. After all, human beings are only what we 
see them from our varying angles. Pete slid down, 
looking back to the last at the tall young fellow who 
was taking his place at the wheel. Cummings and I 
got in and we were off. 

There in the machine, my new boss driving, Cum 
mings sitting next him, I at the further side, began the 
keen, cool probe after a truth which to me lay very 
evidently on the surface. Any one, I would have said, 
might see with half an eye that Worth Gilbert had 
bought Clayte s suitcase so that he could get a thrill 
out of hunting for it. Cummings I knew had in 
charge all the boy s Pacific Coast holdings; and since 
his mother s death during the first year of the war, 
these were large. Worth manifested toward them 
and the man who spoke to him of them the indifference, 
almost contempt, of an impatient young soul who in 
the years just behind him, had often wagered his chance 
of his morning s coffee against some other fellow s 
month s pay feeling that he was putting up double. 

It seemed the sense of ownership was dulled in one 
who had seen magnificent properties masterless, or 
apparently belonging to some limp, bloodstained bundle 



24 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

of flesh that lay in one of the rooms. In vain Cum- 
mings urged the state of the market, repeating with 
more particularity and force what Whipple had said. 
The mines were tied up by strike; their stock, while 
perfectly good, was down to twenty cents on the dollar; 
to sell now would be madness. Worth only repeated 
doggedly. 

"I ve got to have the money Monday morning 
ten o clock. I don t care what you sell or hock. 
Get it." 

"See here," the lawyer was puzzled, and therefore 
unprofessionally out of temper. "Even sacrificing 
your stuff in the most outrageous manner, I couldn t 
realize enough not by ten o clock Monday. You ll 
have to go to your father. You can catch the five- 
five for Santa Ysobel." 

I could see Worth choke back a hot-tempered re 
fusal of the suggestion. The funds he d got to have, 
even if he went through some humiliation to get them. 

"At that," he said slowly, "father wouldn t have any 
great amount of cash on hand. Say I went to him 
with the story and took the cat-hauling he ll give 
me should I be much better off?" 

"Sure you would." Cummings leaned back. I saw 
he considered his point made. "Whipple would rather 
take their own bank stock than anything else. Your 
father has just acquired a big block of it. Act while 
there s time. Better go out there and see him now 
at once." 

"I ll think about it," Worth nodded. "You dig for 
me what you can and never quit." And he applied 
himself to the demands of the downtown traffic. 



SIGHT UNSEEN 25 

"Well," Cummings said, "drop me at the next cor 
ner, please. I ve got an engagement with a man 
here." 

Worth swung in and stopped. Cummings left us. 
As we began to worm a slow way toward my office, 
I suggested, 

"You ll come upstairs with me, and er sort of 
outline a policy? I ought to have any possible infor 
mation you can give me, so s not to make any more 
wrong moves than we have to." 

"Information?" he echoed, and I hastened to amend, 

"I mean whatever notion you ve got. Your theory, 
you know " 

"Not a notion. Not a theory." He shook his 
head, eyes on the traffic cop. "That s your part." 

I sat there somewhat flabbergasted. After all, I 
hadn t fully believed that the boy had absolutely 
nothing to go on, that he had bought purely at a \vhim, 
put up eight hundred thousand dollars on my skill at 
running down a criminal. It sort of crumpled me up. 
I said so. He laughed a little, ran up to the curb at 
the Phelan building, cut out the engine, set the brake 
and turned to me with, 

"Don t worry. I m getting what I paid for or 
what I m going to pay for. And I ve got to go right 
after the money. Suppose I meet you, say, at ten 
o clock to-night?" 

"Suits me." 

"At Tajt s. Reserve a table, will you, and we ll 
have supper." 

"You re on," I said. "And plenty to do myself 
meantime." I hopped out on my side. 



26 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

Worth sat in the roadster, not hurrying himself to 
follow up Cummings suggestion the big boy, non- 
communicative, incurious, the question of fortune lost 
or won seeming not to trouble him at all. I skirted 
the machine and came round to him, demanding, 

"With whom do you suppose Cummings engage 
ment was ?" 

"Don t know, Jerry, and don t care," looking down 
at me serenely. "Why should I?" He swung one 
long leg free and stopped idly, half in the car, half out. 

"What if I told you Cummings engagement was 
with our friend Dykeman only Dykeman doesn t 
know it yet?" 

Sowly he brought that dangling foot down to the 
pavement, followed it with the the other, and faced me. 
Across the blankness of his features shot a joyous 
gleam; it spread, brightening till he was radiant. 

"I get you!" he chortled. "Collusion! They think 
I m standing in with Clayte Oh, boy!" 

He threw back his head and roared. 



CHAPTER III 

A WEDDING PARTY 

I LOOKED at my watch; quarter of ten; a little 
ahead of my appointment. I ordered a telephone 
extension brought to this corner table I had reserved 
at Tait s and got in touch with my office; then with 
the knowledge that any new kink in the case would be 
reported immediately to me, I relaxed to watch the 
early supper crowd arrive: Women in picture hats 
and bare or half -bare shoulders with rich wraps slip 
ping off them; hum of voices ; the clatter of silver and 
china; waiters beginning to wake up and dart about 
settling new arrivals. And I wondered idly what sort 
of party would come to sit around one long table across 
from me specially decorated with pale tinted flowers. 
There was a sense of warmth and comfort at my 
heart. I am a lonely man ; the people I take to seem 
to have a way of passing on in the stream of life or 
death leaving me with a few well-thumbed volumes 
on a shelf in my rooms for consolation. Walt Whit 
man, Montaigne, The Bard, two or three other lesser 
poets, and you ve the friends that have stayed by me 
for thirty years. And so, having met up with Worth 
Gilbert when he was a youngster, at the time his 
mother was living in San Francisco to get a residence 
for her divorce proceedings, having loved the boy and 
got I am sure some measure of affection in return, it 
seemed almost too much to ask of fate that he should 
come back into my days, plunge into such a proposition 

27 



28 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

as this bank robbery, right at my elbow as it were, 
and make himself my employer my boss. 

I was a subordinate in the agency in those old times 
when he and I used to chin about the business, and his 
idea (I always discussed it gravely and respectfully 
with him) was to grow up and go into partnership 
with me. Well, we were partners now. 

Past ten, nearly five minutes. Where was he? 
What up to? Would he miss his appointment? No, 
I caught a glimpse of him at the door getting rid of 
hat and overcoat, pausing a moment with tall bent head 
to banter Rose, the little Chinese girl who usually 
drifted from table to table with cigars and cigarettes. 
Then he was coming down the room. 

A man who takes his own path in life, and will walk 
it though hell bar the way, never explaining, never 
extenuating, never excusing his course something 
seems to emanate from such a chap that draws all eyes 
after him in a public place in a look between fear and 
desire. Sitting there in Tait s, my view of Worth cut 
off now by a waiter with a high-carried tray, again by 
people passing to tables for whom he halted, I had a 
good chance to see the turning of eyeballs that followed 
him, the furtive glances that snatched at him, or fon 
dled him, or would have probed him ; the admiration of 
the women, the envy of the men, curiously alike in 
that it was sometimes veiled and half wistful, some 
times very open. Drifters you see so many of the 
sort in a restaurant why wouldn t they hanker after 
the strength and ruthlessness of a man like Worth? 
And the poor prunes, how little they knew him ! As 
my friend Walt would say, he wasn t out after any of 
the old, smooth prizes they cared for. And win or lose 



A WEDDING PARTY 29 

he would still be a victor, for all he and his sort demand 
is freedom, and the joy of the game. So he came on to 
me. 

I noticed, a little startled, as he slumped into his 
chair with a grunt of greeting, that his cheek was 
somehow gaunt and pale under the tan; the blue fire of 
his eyes only smoldered, and I pulled back his chair 
with, 

"You look as if you hadn t had any dinner." 

"I haven t." He gave a man-size order for food 
and turned back from it to listen to me. "I ll be 
nearer human when I get some grub under my belt." 

My report of what had been done on the case since 
we separated was interrupted by the arrival of our 
orders, and Worth sailed into a thick, juicy steak while 
I was still explaining details. The orchestra whanged 
and blared and jazzed away; the people at the other 
tables noticed us or busied themselves noisily with 
affairs of their own ; Worth sat and enjoyed his meal 
with the air of a man feeding at a solitary country 
tavern. When he had finished and he took his time 
about it the worn, punished look was gone from his 
face; his eye was bright, his tone nonchalant, as he 
lighted a cigarette, remarking, 

"I ve had one more good dinner. Food s a thing 
you can depend on; it doesn t rake up your 
entire past record from the time you squirmed into 
this world, and tell you what a fool you ve always 
been." 

I turned that over in my mind. Did it mean that 
he d seen his father and got a calling down ? I wanted 
to know and was afraid to ask. The fact is I was 
beginning to wake up to a good many things about 



30 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

my young boss. I was intensely interested in his 
reactions on people. So far, I d seen him with 
strangers. I wished that I might have a chance to ob 
serve him among intimates. Old Richardson who 
founded our agency (and would never knowingly have 
left me at the head of it, though he did take me in as 
partner, finally) used to say that the main trouble with 
me was I studied people instead of cases. Richardson 
held that all men are equal before the detective, and 
must be regarded only as queer shaped pieces to be 
fitted together so as to make out a case. Richardson 
would have gone as coolly about easing the salt of the 
earth into the chink labeled "murder" or "embezzle 
ment," as though neither had been human. With me 
the personal equation always looms big, and of course 
he was quite right in saying that it s likely to get you 
all gummed up. 

The telephone on the table before me rang. It was 
Roberts, my secretary, with the word that Foster had 
lifted the watch from Ocean View, the little town at 
the neck of the peninsula, where bay and ocean narrow 
the passageway to one thoroughfare, over which every 
machine must pass that goes by land from San Fran 
cisco. With two operatives, he had been on guard 
there since three o clock of the afternoon, holding up 
blond men in cars, asking questions, taking notes and 
numbers. Now he reported it was a useless waste of 
time. 

"Order him in," I instructed .Roberts. 

A far-too-fat entertainer out on the floor was writh 
ing in the pangs of an Hawaiian dance. It took the 
attention of the crowd. I watched the face of my 
companion for a moment, then, 



A WEDDING PARTY 31 

"Worth/ 1 I said a bit nervously after all, I nearly 
had to know "is your father going to come through? 

"Eh?" He looked at me startled, then put it aside 
negligently. "Oh, the money? No. I ll leave that 
up to Cummings." A brief pause. "We ll get a 
wiggle on us and dig up the suitcase." He lifted his 
tumbler, stared at it, then unseeingly out across the 
room, and his lip twitched in a half smile. "I m sure 
glad I bought it." 

Looking at him, I had no reason to doubt his word. 
His enjoyment of the situation seemed to grow with 
every detail I brought up. 

It was near eleven when the party came in to take 
the long, flower-trimmed table. Worth s back Was to 
the room ; I saw them over his shoulder, in the lead a 
tall blonde, very smartly dressed, but not in evening 
clothes; in severe, exclusive street wear. The man 
with her, good looking, almost her own type, had that 
possessive air which seems somehow unmistakable 
and there was a look about the half dozen companions 
after them, as they settled themselves in a great 
flurry of scraping chairs, that made me murmur with 
a grin, 

"Bet that s a wedding party." 

Worth gave them one quick glance, then came round 
to me with a smile. 

"You win. Married at Santa Ysobel this afternoon. 
Local society event. Whole place standing on its hind 
legs, taking notice." 

So he had been down to the little town to see his 
father after all. And he wasn t going to talk about it. 
Oh, well. 

"Friends of yours?" I asked perfunctorily, and he 



32 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

gave me a queer look out of the corners of those wicked 
eyes, repeating in an enjoying drawl. 

"Friends? Oh, hardly that. The girl I was to 
have married, and Bronson Vandeman the man she 
has married." 

I had wanted to get a more intimate line on the kid 
it seemed that here was a chance with a vengeance! 

"The rest of the bunch?" I suggested. He took a 
leisurely survey, and gave them three words : 

"Family and accomplices." 

"Santa Ysobel people, too, then. Folks you know 
well?" 

"Used to." 

"The lady changed her mind while you were 
across?" I risked the query. 

"While I was shedding my blood for my country." 
He nodded. "Gave me the butt while the Huns were 
using the bayonet on me." 

In the careless jeer, as much at himself as at^ her, 
no hint what his present feeling might be toward the 
fashion plate young female across there. With some 
fellows, in such a situation, I should have looked for a 
disposition to duck the encounter; let his old sweet 
heart s wedding party leave without seeing him; with 
others I should have discounted a dramatic moment 
when he would court the meeting. It was impossible 
to suppose either thing of Worth Gilbert; plain that 
he simply sat there because he sat there, and would 
make no move toward the other table unless something 
in that direction interested him pleasantly or unpleas 
antly which at present nothing seemed to do. 

So we smoked, Worth indifferent, I giving all the 



A WEDDING PARTY 33 

attention to the people over there: bride and groom; 
a couple of fair haired girls so like the bride that I 
guessed them to be sisters ; a freckled, impudent look 
ing little flapper I wasn t so sure of; two older men, 
and an older woman. Then a shifting of figures gave 
me sight of a face that I hadn t seen before, and I 
drew in my breath with a whistle. 

"Whew! Who s the dark girl? She s a beauty!" 

"Dark girl?" Worth had interest enough to lean 
into the place where I got my view ; after he did so he 
remained to stare. I sat and grinned while he mut 
tered, 

"Can t be. ... I believe it is!" 

Something to make him sit up and take notice now. 
I didn t wonder at his fixed study of the young 
creature. Not so dressed up as the others I think 
she wore what ladies call an evening blouse with a 
street suit ; a brunette, but of a tinting so delicate that 
she fairly sparkled, she took the shine off those blonde 
girls. Her small beautifully formed, uncovered head 
had the living jet of the crow s \ving; her great eyes, 
long-lashed and sumptuously set, showed ebon irises 
almost obliterating the white. Dark, shining, she was 
a night with stars, that girl. 

"Funny thing/ Worth spoke, moving his head to 
keep in line with that face. "How could she grow up 
to be like this a child that Wasn t allowed any child 
hood? Lord, she never even had a doll!" 

"Some doll herself now," I smiled. 

"Yen," he assented absently, "she s good looking 
but where did she learn to dress like that and play 
the game?" 



34 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Where they all learn it." I enjoyed very much 
seeing him interested. "From her mother, and her 
sisters, or the other girls." 

"Not." He was positive. "Her mother died when 
she was a baby. Her father wouldn t let her be with 
other children treated her like one of the instruments 
in his laboratory ; trained her in her high chair ; prob 
lems in concentration dumped down into its tray, pun 
ishment if she made a failure; God knows what kind 
of a reward if she succeeded ; maybe no more than her 
bowl of bread and milk. That s the kind of a deal 
she got when she was a kid. And will you look at 
her now!" 

If he kept up his open staring at the girl, it would 
be only a matter of time when the wedding party dis 
covered him. I leaned back in my chair to watch, 
while Worth, full of his subject, spilled over in words. 

"Never played with anybody in her life but me," 
he said unexpectedly. "They lived next house but one 
to us; the professor had the rest of the Santa Ysobel 
youngsters terrorized, backed off the boards; but I 
wasn t a steady resident of the burg. I came and went, 
and when I came, it was playtime for the little girl." 

"What was her father? Crank on education?" 

"Psychology," Worth said briefly. "International 
reputation. But he ought to have been hung for the 
way he brought Bobs up. Listen to this, Jerry. I 
got off the train one time at Santa Ysobel can t 
remember just when, but the kid over there was all 
shanks and eyes bout ten or eleven, I d say. Her 
father had her down at the station doing a stunt for 
a bunch of professors. That was his notion of a nice, 
normal development for a small child. There she sat 



A WEDDING PARTY 35 

poked up cross-legged on a baggage truck. He d 
trained her to sit in that self balanced position so she 
could make her mind blank without going to sleep. A 
freight train was hitting a twenty mile clip past the 
station, and she was adding the numbers on the sides 
of the box cars, in her mind. It kept those professors 
on the jump to get the figures down in their notebooks, 
but she told them the total as the caboose was passing." 

"Some stunt," I agreed. "Freight car numbers run 
up into the ten-thousands." Worth didn t hear me, 
he was still deep in the past. 

"Poor little white-faced kid," he muttered. "I 
dumped my valises, horned into that bunch, picked her 
off the truck and carried her away on my shoulder, 
while the professor yelled at me, and the other ginks 
were tabbing up their additions. And I damned every 
one of them, to hell and through it." 

"You must have been a popular youth in your home 
town," I suggested. 

"I was," he grinned. "My reason for telling you 
that story, though, is that I ve got an idea about the 
girl over there if she hasn t changed too much. I 
think maybe we might " 

He stood up calmly to study her, and his tall figure 
instantly drew the attention of everybody in the room. 
Over at the long table it was the sharp, roving eye of 
the snub-nosed flapper that spied him first. I saw her 
give the alarm and begin pushing back her chair to 
bolt right across and nab him. The sister sitting next 
stopped her. Judging from the glimpses I had as the 
party spoke together and leaned to look, it was quite 
a sensation. But apparently by common consent they 
left whatever move was to be made to the bride ; and 



36 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

to my surprise this move was most unconventional. 
She got up with an abrupt gesture and started over to 
our table alone. This, for a girl of her sort, was 
going some. I glanced doubtfully at Worth. He 
shrugged a little. 

"Might as well have it over. Her family lives on 
one side of us, and Brons Vandeman on the other." 

And then the bride was with us. She didn t overdo 
the thing much; only held out her hand with a 
slightly pleading air as though half afraid it would be 
refused. And it was a curious thing to see that pretty, 
delicate featured, schooled face of hers naively drawn 
in lines of emotion like a bisque doll registering 
grief. 

Gilbert took the hand, shook it, and looked around 
with the evident intention of presenting me. I saw by 
the way the lady gave me her shoulder, pushing in, 
speaking low, that she didn t want anything of the sort, 
and quietly dropped back. I barely got a side view of 
Worth s face, but plainly his calmness was a dis 
appointment to her. 

"After these years!" I caught the fringes of what 
she was saying. "It seems like a dream. To-night 
of all times. But you will come over to our table 
for a minute anyhow? They re just going to to 
drink our health Oh, Worth !" That last in a sort 
of impassioned whisper. And all he answered was, 

"If I might bring Mr. Boyne with me, Mrs. Van 
deman." At her protesting expression, he finished, 
"Or do I call you Ina, still?" 

She gave him a second look of reproach, acknowl 
edging my introduction in that way some women have 
which assures you they don t intend to know you in 



A WEDDING PARTY 37 

the least the next time. We crossed to the table and 
met the others. 

If anybody had asked my opinion, I should have 
said it was a mistake to go. Our advent in that 
party or rather Worth Gilbert s advent was bound 
to throw the affair into a sort of consternation. No 
mistake about that. The bridegroom at the head of 
the table seemed the only one able to keep a grip on 
the situation. He welcomed Worth as though he 
wanted him, took hold of me with a glad hand, and 
presented me in such rapid succession to everybody 
there that I was dizzy. And through it all I had an 
eye for Worth as he met and disposed of the effusive 
welcome of the younger Thornhill girls. Either of 
the twins, as I found them to be, would, I judged, 
have been more than willing to fill out sister Ina s un- 
expired term, and the little snub-nosed one, also a sister 
it seemed, plainly adored him, as a hero, sexlessly, as 
they sometimes can at that age. 

While yet he shook hands with the girls, and 
swapped short replies for long questions, I became 
conscious of something odd in the air. Plain enough 
sailing with the young ladies ; all the noise with them 
echoed the bride s, After all these years." They 
clattered about whether he looked like his last photo 
graph, and how perfectly delightful it was going to be 
to have him back in Santa Ysobel again. 

But when it came to the chaperone, a Mrs. Dr. Bow 
man, things were different. Xo longer young, though 
still beautiful in what I might call a sort of w r asted 
fashion, with slim wrists and fragile fingers, and a 
splendid mass of rich, auburn hair, I had been startled, 
even looking across from our table, by the extreme 



38 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

nervous tension of her face. She looked a neuras 
thenic; but that was not all; surely her nerves were 
almost from under control as she sat there, her rich 
cloak dropped back over her chair, the corners caught 
up again and fumbled in a twisting, restless hold. 

Now, when Worth stood before her appealing eyes, 
she reached up and clutched his hand in both of hers, 
staring at him through quick tears, saying something 
in a low, choking tone, something that I couldn t for 
the life of me make into the greeting you give even a 
beloved youngster you haven t seen for several years. 

At the moment, I was myself being presented to the 
lady s husband, a typical top-grade, small town medical 
man, with a fine bedside manner. His nice, smooth 
white hands, with which I had watched him feeling the 
pulse of his supper as though it had been a wealthy 
patient, released mine; those cold eyes of his, that hid 
a lot of meaning under heavy lids, came around on his 
wife. His, 

"Laura, control yourself. Where do you think you 
are?" was like a lash. 

It worked perfectly. Of course she would be his 
patient as well as his wife. Yet I hated the man for 
it. To me it seemed like the cut of the whip that pun 
ishes a sensitive, over excited Irish setter for a fault in 
the hunting field. Mrs. Bowman quivered, pulled her 
self together and sat down, but her gaze followed the 
boy. 

She sat there stilled, but not quieted, under her 
husband s eye, and watched Worth s meeting with the 
other man, whom I heard the boy call Jim Edwards, 
and with whom he shook hands, but who met him, as 
Mrs. Bowman had, as though there had been some- 



A WEDDING PARTY 39 

thing recent between them ; not like people bridging a 
long gap of absence. 

And this man, tall, thin, the power in his features 
contradicted by a pair of soft dark eyes, deep-set, look 
ing out at you with an expression of bafflement, defeat 
why did he face Worth with the stare of one 
drenched, drowned in woe? It wasn t his wedding. 
He hadn t done Worth any dirt in the matter. 

And I was wedged in beside the beautiful dark girl, 
without having been presented to her, without even 
having had the luck to hear what name Worth used 
when he spoke to her. At last the flurry of our com 
ing settled down (though I still felt that we were stuck 
like a sliver into the wedding party, that the whole 
thing ached from us) and Dr. Bowman proposed the 
health of the happy couple, his bedside manner going 
over pretty well, as he informed Vandeman and the 
rest of us that the bridegroom was a social leader in 
Santa Ysobel, and that the hope of its best people was 
to place him and his bride at the head of things there, 
leading off with the annual Blossom Festival, due in 
about a fortnight. 

Vandeman responded for himseH and his bride, 
appropriately, with what I d call a sort of acceptable, 
fabricated geniality. You could see he was the kind 
that takes such things seriously, one who would go to 
work to make a success of any social doings he got 
into, would give what his set called good parties ; and 
he spoke feelingly of the Blossom Festival, which was 
the great annual event of a little town. If by putting 
his shoulder to the wheel he could boost that affair 
into nation-wide fame and place a garland of rich 
bloom upon the brow of his fair city, he was willing to 



40 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

take off his neatly tailored coat, roll up his immaculate 
shirtsleeves and go to it. 

There was no time for speech making. The girls 
wanted to dance ; bride and groom were taking the one 
o clock train for the south and Coronado. The 
orchestra swung into "I ll Say She Does." 

"Just time for one." Vandeman guided his bride 
neatly out between the chairs, and they moved away. 
I turned from watching them to find Worth asking 
Mrs. Bowman to dance. 

"Oh, Worth, dearest! I ought to let one of the 
girls have you, but " 

She looked helplessly up at him; he smiled down 
into her tense, suffering face, and paid no attention to 
her objections. As soon as he carried her off, Jim 
Edwards glumly took out that one of the twins I had 
at first supposed to be the elder, the remaining Thorn- 
hill girls moved on Dr. Bowman and began nagging 
him to hunt partners for them. 

"Drag something up here," prompted the freckled 
tomboy, "or I ll make you dance with me yourself." 
She grabbed a coat lapel, and started away with him. 

I turned and laughed into the laughing face of the 
dark girl. I had no idea of her name, yet a haunting 
resemblance, a something somehow familiar came 
across to me which I thought for a moment was only 
the sweet approachableness of her young femininity. 

Bowman had found and collared a partner for 
Ernestine Thornhill, but that was as far as it went. 
The little one forebore her threat of making him dance 
with her, came back to her chair and tucked herself 
in, snuggling up to the girl beside me, getting hold of 
a hand and looking at me across it. She rejoiced, it 



A WEDDING PARTY 41 

seems, in the nickname of Skeet, for by that the other 
now spoke to her whisperingly, saying it was too bad 
about the dance. 

"That s nothing," Skeet answered promptly. "I d 
a lot rather sit here and talk to you and your 
gentleman friend " with a large wink for me "if 
you don t mind." 

At the humorous, intimate glance which again passed 
between me and the dark girl, sudden remembrance 
came to me, and I ejaculated, 

"I know you now!" 

"Only now?" smiling. 

"You ve changed a good deal in seven years," I 
defended myself. 

"And you so very little," she was still smiling, "that 
I had almost a mind to come and shake hands with 
you when Ina went to speak to Worth." 

I remembered then that it w r as Worth s recognition 
of her which had brought him to his feet. I told her 
of it, and the glowing, vivid face was suddenly all 
rosy. Skeet regarded the manifestation askance, ask 
ing jealously, 

"When did you see Worth last, Barbie? You 
weren t still living in Santa Ysobel when he left, were 
you?" 

I sat thinking while the girlish voices talked on. 
Barbie the nickname for Barbara. Barbara Wal 
lace; the name jumped at me from a poster; that s 
where I first saw it. It linked itself up with what 
Worth had said over there about the forlorn childhood 
of this beguiling young charmer. Why hadn t I 
remembered then? I, too, had my recollections of 
Barbara Wallace. About seven years before, I had 



42 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

first seen her, a slim, dark little thing of twelve or 
fourteen, very badly dressed in slinky, too-long skirts 
that whipped around preposterously thin ankles, blue- 
black hair dragged away from a forehead almost too 
fine, made into a bundle of some fashion that belonged 
neither to childhood nor womanhood, her little, pointed 
face redeemed by a pair of big black eyes with a won 
derful inner light, the eyes of this girl glowing here 
at my left hand. 

The father Worth spoke of brusquely as "the 
professor" was Elman Wallace, to whom all students 
of advanced psychology are heavily indebted. The 
year I heard him, and saw the girl, his course of lec 
tures at Stanford University was making quite a stir. 
I had been one of a bunch of criminologists, detectives 
and police chiefs who, during a state convention were 
given a demonstration of the little girl s powers, clos 
ing with a sort of rapid pantomime in which I was 
asked to take part. A half dozen of us from the 
audience planned exactly what we were to do. I 
rushed into the room through one door, holding my 
straw hat in my left hand, and wiping my brow with 
a handkerchief with the right. From an opposite 
door, came two men; one of them fired at me twice 
with a revolver held in his left hand. I fell, and the 
second man the one who wasn t armed ran to me 
as I staggered, grabbed my hat, and the two of them 
went out the door I had entered, while I stumbled 
through the one by which they had come in. It lasted 
all told, not half a minute, the idea being for those 
who looked on to write down w r hat had happened. 

Those trained criminologists, supposed to have eyes 
in their heads, didn t see half that really took place, 



A WEDDING PARTY 43 

and saw a-plenty that did not Most of em would 
have hung the man who snatched my hat. Only one, 
I remember, noticed that I was shot by a left-handed 
man. Then the little girl told us what really had 
occurred, every detail, just as though she had planned 
it instead of being merely an observer. 

"Pardon me," I broke in on the girls. "Miss 
Wallace, you don t mean to say that you really know 
me again after seeing me once, seven years ago, in a 
group of other men at a public performance?" 

"Why shouldn t I ? You saw me then. You knew 
me again." 

"But you were doing wonderful things. We re 
member what strikes us as that did me." 

She looked at me with a little fading of that glow 
her face seemed always to hold. 

"Most memories are like that," she agreed listlessly. 
"Mine isn t. It works like a cinema camera ; I ve only 
to turn the crank the other way to be looking at any 
past record." 

"But can you ? I was beginning, when Skeet 
stopped me, leaning around her companion, bristling at 
me like a snub-nosed terrier. 

"If you want to make a hit with Barbie, cut out the 
reminiscences. She does loathe being reminded that 
she was once an infant phenom." 

I glanced at my dark eyed girl; she bent her head 
affirmatively. She wouldn t have been capable of 
Skeet s rudeness, but plainly Skeet had not overstated 
her real feeling. I had hardly begun an apology when 
the dancers rushed back to the table with the informa 
tion that there was no more than time to make the Los 
Angeles train; there was an instant grasping of wraps, 



44 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

hasty good-bys, and the party began breaking up with 
a bang. Worth went out to the sidewalk with them; 
I sat tight waiting for him to return, and to my sur 
prise, when he finally did appear, Barbara Wallace was 
with him. 



CHAPTER IV 

AN APPARITION 

look so scared!" she said smilingly to 
me. "I m only on your hands a few minutes ; 
a package left to be called for." 

I had watched them coming back to me at our old 
table, with its telephone extension, the girl with eyes 
for no one but Worth, who helped her out of her wrap 
now with a preoccupied air and, 

"Shed the coat, Bobs," adding as he seated her be 
side him, "The luck of luck that I chanced on you here 
this evening." 

That brought the color into her face; the delicate 
rose shifted under her translucent skin almost with the 
effect of light, until that lustrous midnight beauty of 
hers was as richly glowing as one of those marvellous 
dark opals of the antipodes. 

"Yes," she said softly, with a smile that set two 
dimples deep in the pink of her cheeks, "wasn t 
it strange our meeting this way?" Worth wasn t 
looking at her. He d signaled a waiter, ordered a pot 
of black coffee, and was watching its approach. "I 
didn t go down to the wedding, but Ina herself invited 
me to come here to-night. I had half a mind not to ; 
then at the last minute I decided I would and I met 
you!" 

Worth nodded, sat there humped in a brown study 
while the waiter poured our coffee. The minute the 
man left us alone, he turned to her with, 

45 



46 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"I ve got a stunt for you." 

"A a stunt?" 

The light failed abruptly in her face ; her mouth with 
its soft, firm molding, its vivid, floral red, like the 
lips of a child, went down a bit at the clean-cut cor 
ners. A small hand fumbled the trimming of her 
blouse; it was almost as if she laid it over a wounded 
heart. 

"Yes," he nodded. "Jerry s got something in his 
pocket that ll be pie for you." 

She turned to me a look between angry and piteous 
the resentment she would not vent on him. 

"Is is Mr. Boyne interested in stunts such as I 
used to do?" 

"Sure," Worth agreed. "We both are. We" 

"Oh, that was why you wanted me to come back 
with you?" She had got hold of herself now. She 
was more poised, but still resentful. 

"Bobs," he cut straight across her mood to what he 
wanted, "Jerry Boyne is going to read you something 
it took about steen blind people to see and you ll give 
us the answer." I didn t share his confidence, but I 
rather admired it as he finished, poising the tongs, 
"One lump, or two ?" 

Of course I knew what he meant. My hand was 
already fumbling in my pocket for the description of 
Clayte. The girl looked as though she wasn t going 
to answer him; she moved to shove back her chair. 
Worth s only recognition of her attitude was to put 
out a hand quietly, touch her arm, not once looking at 
her, and say in a lowered tone, 

"Steady, Bobs." And then, "Did you say one lump 
or two ?" 



AN APPARITION 47 

"None." Her voice was scarcely audible, but I saw 
she was going to stay; that Worth was to have his 
way, to get from her the opinion he wanted whatever 
that might amount to. And I passed the paper to him, 
suggesting, 

"Let her read it. This is too public a place to be 
declaiming a thing of the sort." 

She hesitated a minute then gave it such a mere 
flirt of a glance that I hardly thought she d seen what 
it was, before she raised inquiring eyes to mine and 
asked coldly, 

"Why shouldn t that be read shouted every ten 
minutes by the traffic officer at Market and Kearny? 
They d only think he was paging every other man in 
the Palace Hotel." 

I leaned back and chuckled. After a bare glance, 
this sharp witted girl had hit on exactly what I d 
thought of the Clayte description. 

"Is that all? May I go now, Worth?" she said, 
still with that dashed, disappointed look from one of 
us to the other. "If you ll just put me on a Haight 
Street car I won t wait for " And now she 
made a definite movement to rise; but again Worth 
held her by the mere touch of his fingers on her 
sleeve. 

"Wait, Bobs," he said. "There s more." 

"More?" Her eyes on Worth s face talked louder 
than her tongue, but that also gained fluency as he 
looked back at her and nodded. "Stunts!" she re 
peated his word bitterly. "I didn t expect you to come 
back asking me to do stunts. I hated it all so work 
ing out things like a calculating machine!" Her voice 
sank to a vehement undertone. "Nobody thinking of 



48 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

me as human, with human feelings. I have never 
done one stunt since my father died." 

She didn t weaken. She sat there and looked 
Worth squarely in the eye, yet there was a kind of big 
gentleness in her refusal, a freedom from petty re 
sentment, that had in it not so much a girl s hurt 
vanity as the outspoken complaint of a really grieved 
heart. 

"But, Bobs," Worth smiled at her trouble, about the 
same careless, good-natured smile he had given little 
Pete when he flipped him the quarter, suppose you 
could possibly save me a hundred thousand dollars a 
minute ?" 

Then it s not just a stunt?" She settled slowly 
back in her chair. 

"Certainly not," I said. "This is business with 
me, anyhow. Miss Wallace, why do you think a des 
cription like that could be shouted on the street with 
out any one being the wiser?" 

"Was it supposed to be a description?" she asked, 
raising her brows a bit. 

"The best we could get from sixteen or eighteen 
people, most of whom have known the man a long 
time; some of them for eight years." 

"And no one not one of all these people could 
differentiate him?" 

"I ve done my best at questioning them." 

She gave me one straight, level look, and I won 
dered a little at the way those velvety black eyes could 
saw into a fellow. But she put no query, and I had 
the cheap satisfaction of knowing that she was con 
vinced I d overlooked no details in the quiz that went 



AN APPARITION 49 

to make up that description. Then she turned to 
Worth. 

"You said I might save you a lot of money. Has 
the man you re trying here to describe anything to 
do with money in large amounts financial affairs 
of importance ?" 

Again the little girl had unconsciously scored with 
me. To imagine a rabbit like Clayte, alone, swing 
ing such an enormous job was ridiculous. From the 
first, my mind had been reaching after the others 
the big-brained criminals, the planners whose instru 
ment he was. She evidently saw this, but Worth 
answered her. 

"He s quite a financier, Bobs. He walked off with 
nearly a million cash to-day." 

"From you?" with a quick breath. 

"I m the main loser if he gets away with it." 

"Tell me about it." 

And Worth gave her a concise account of the theft 
and his own share in the affair. She listened eagerly 
now, those innocent great eyes growing big with the 
interest of it. With her there was no blind stumbling 
over Worth s motive in buying a suitcase sight un 
seen. I had guessed, but she understood completely 
and unquestioningly. When he had finished, she said 
solemnly, 

"You know, don t you, that, if you ve got your 
facts right if these things you ve told me are square, 
even cubes of fact they prove Clayte among the won 
derful men of the world?" 

Worth s big brown paw went out and covered her 
little hand that lay on the table s edge. 



50 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Now we re getting somewhere," he encouraged 
her. As for me, I merely snorted. 

"Wonderful man, my eye! He s got a wonderful 
gang behind him." 

"Oh, you should have told me that you know there 
is a gang, Mr. Boyne," she said simply. "Of course, 
then, the result is different." 

"Well," I hedged, "there s a gang all right. But 
suppose there wasn t, how would you find any wonder- 
fulness in a creature as near nothing as this Clayte?" 

She sat and thought for a moment, drawing imag 
inary lines on the table top, finally looking up at me 
with a narrowing of the lids, a tightening of the lips, 
which gave an extraordinary look of power to her 
young feminine face. 

"In that case, Clayte would inevitably be one of the 
wonderful men of the world," she repeated her char 
acterization with the placid, soft obstinacy of falling 
snow. "Didn t you stop a minute one little min 
ute, Mr. Boyne to think it wonderful that a man so 
devoid of personality as that " she slanted a slim 
finger across the description of Clayte "Didn t you 
add up in your mind all that you told me about the 
men disagreeing as to which side he parted his hair 
on, whether he wore tan shoes or black, a fedora or 
derby, smoked or didn t, absolutely nothing left as 
to peculiarities of face, figure, movement, expression, 
manner or habit to catch the eye of one single observer 
among the sixteen or eighteen you questioned surely 
you added that up, Mr. Boyne? What result did you 
get?" 

"Nothing," I admitted. "To hear you repeat it, of 
course it sounds as if the man was a freak. But he 



AX APPARITION 51 

wasn t. He was just one of those fellows that are 
born utterly commonplace, and slide through life with 
out getting any marks put on em." 

"And is it nothing that this man became a teller in 
a bank without infringing at all on the circle of his 
nothingness? Remained so shadowy that neither the 
president nor cashier can, after eight years association, 
tell the color of his hair and eyes? Then add the 
fact that he is the one clerk in the bank without a 
filed photograph and description on record with your 
;v what result now, Mr. Boyne?" 

"A coincidence," I said, rather hastily. 

"Don t, please, Mr. Boyne!" he ed softly 

as she smiled her mild sarcasm. "Admit that he has 
ceased to be a freak and becomes a marvel." 

"As you put it " I began, but she cut in on me 
with. 

"I haven t put it yet. Listen." She was smiling 
but it was plain she was thoroughly in earnest 
"When this cipher this nought this zero manages 
to annex to himself a million dollars that doesn t be 
long to him, his nothingness gains a specific meaning. 
The zero is an important factor in mathematics. I 
think we have placed a digit before the long string of 
ciphers of Clayte s nothingness." 

thing and nothing make nothing." I spoke 
more brusquely because I was irritated by her logic. 
You called the turn when you spoke of him as a zero. 
There are digits to be added, but they re the gang 
that planned and helped and used zero Clayte as 
their tool. You re talking of those digits, not Clayte." 

"I believe Bobs U find them for you, Jerry if youTI 
er " said Worth. 



52 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Oh, I ll let anybody do anything" a bit nettled. 
"I m ready to have our friend Clayte take his place, 
with the pyramids and the hanging gardens of Bab 
ylon, among the earth s wonders; but you ve got to 
show me." 

"All right." Worth gave the girl a look that 
brought something of that wonderful rose flush flut 
tering back into her cheeks. "I m betting on her. 
Go to it, Bobsie let him in on your mathematical 
logic." 

"You used the word coincidence, Mr. Boyne." 
She leaned across toward me, eyes bright, little finger 
tip marking her points. "Allow one coincidence 
that the only description, the only photograph missing 
from your files are those of the self-effacing Clayte. 
To-day Clayte has proved to be a thief " 

"In seven figures," Worth threw in, and she smiled 
at him. 

"You would call that another coincidence, Mr. 
Boyne?" 

I nodded, rather unable at the moment to think of 
a better word to use. 

"Two coincidences," she went on, "we are still 
in mathematics you can t add. They run by geo 
metrical progression into the impossible." 

The phone rang. While I turned to answer it, my 
mind was still hunting a comeback to this. The call 
was from Foster, just in from Ocean View and re 
porting for instructions. Covering the transmitter 
with my hand, I told Worth the situation and asked, 

"Any suggestions?" 

"Not I," he shook his head. I added, a bit sar 
castically, 



AN APPARITION 53 

"Or you, Miss Wallace?" 

"Yes," she surprised me. "Have your man Foster 
find three women who have seen Edward Clayte; get 
from them the color of his hair and eyes; tell him 
to have them be exact about it." 

"Fine! But you know they ll not agree, any more 
than the other people agreed." 

"Oh, yes they will," she laughed at me a little. 
"Don t you notice that a girl always says a blue-eyed 
man or a brown-eyed man? That s what she sees 
when she first meets him, and it sticks in her mind. 
Girls and women sort out people by types ; small 
differences in color mean something to them." 

I didn t keep Foster waiting any longer. 

"Hello," I spoke quickly into the transmitter. "Get 
busy and dig out any women clerks of the bank, 
stenographers, scrub-women there, or whatever, and 
ask them particularly as to the exact shade of Clay- 
te s hair and eyes. Get Mrs. Griggsby again at the 
St. Dunstan. I want at least three women who 
can give these points exactly. Exactly, under 
stand?" 

He did, and I thanked Miss Wallace for her sug 
gestion. 

"Now that," I said, "is what I want; a good, prac 
tical idea " 

"And it won t be a bit of use in the world to you/ 
she laughed across the table into my eyes. "Why, 
Mr. Boyne, you ve found out already that there are 
too many Edward Claytes, speaking in physical terms, 
for you to run one down by description. There are 
three of him here, within sight of our table right now 
and the place isn t crowded." 



54 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

I grinned in half grudging agreement, and found 
nothing to say. It was Worth who spoke. 

"Like to have you go a step further in this, if you 
would/ and when she shook her head, he went on a 
bit sharply. "See here, Bobs ; you and I used to be 
pals, didn t we?" She nodded, her look brightening. 
"Well then, here s the biggest game I ve been up 
against since I crawled out of the trenches and shucked 
my uniform. I come to you and give you the high- 
sign and you throw me down. You don t want to 
play with me is that it?" 

"Oh, Worth! I do. I do want to play with you," 
she was almost in tears now. "But you see, I didn t 
quite understand. I felt as though you were sort of 
putting me through my paces." 

"Sure not," Worth drove it at her like a turbulent 
urchin. "I m having the time of my young life with 
this thing, and I want to take you in on it." 

"If if you fail you lose a lot of money; wasn t 
that what you said?" she questioned. 

"Oh, yes," he nodded, "Nothing in it if there 
weren t a gamble." 

"And if he wins out, he makes quite a respectable 
pile," I added. 

"What I want of you now," he explained, "is to 
go with us to Clayte s room at the St. Dunstan the 
room he disappeared from look it over and tell us 
how he got out and where he went." 

He made his request light-heartedly ; she considered 
it after the same fashion ; it seemed to me all absurdity. 

"To-morrow morning Sunday," she said. "No 
office to-morrow," she sipped the last of her black 



AN APPARITION 55 

coffee slowly. "All the rest of the facts there ever 
will be about Edward Clayte are in that room aren t 
they? Her voice was musing; she looked straight 
ahead of her as she finished softly, "What time do 
we go?" 

"Early. Does nine o clock suit you?" Worth 
didn t even glance at me as he made this arrangement 
for us both. "We d scoot up there now if it wasn t 
so late." 

"I ve no doubt you ll find the place carpeted with 
zeros and hung with noughts and ciphers." I couldn t 
refrain from joshing her a little. She took it with a 
smile glanced across the room, looked a little surprised, 
and half rose with, 

"Why, there they are for me now." 

I couldn t see anybody that she might mean, except 
a man who had walked the length of the place talking 
to the head waiter, and now stood arguing at the 
corner of what had been Bronson Vandeman s supper 
table. This man evidently had his attention directed 
to us, turned, looked, and in the moment of his cross 
ing I saw that it was Cummings. There was not even 
the usual tight-lipped half smile under that cropped 
mustache of his. 

"Good evening." He looked at our faces, uttering 
none of the surprise he plainly felt, letting the two 
words do for greeting to us all, and, as it seemed, to 
me, an expression of disapproval as well. The young 
lady replied first. 

"Oh, Mr. Cummings, did they send you for me? 
Where are the others?" 

She had come to her feet, and reached for the coat 



56 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

which Worth was holding more as if he meant to 
keep it than put it on her. 

"I left your chaperone waiting in the machine," 
Cumming s tone and look carried a plain hurry-up. 
Worth took his time about the coat, and spoke low to 
the girl while he helped her into it. 

"You ll go with us to-morrow morning?" 

She gave me one of those adorable smiles that 
brought the dimples momentarily in her cheeks. 

"If Mr. Boyne wants me. He hasn t said yet." 

"Do I need to?" I asked. The question seemed 
reasonable. There she stood, such a very pretty girl, 
between her two cavaliers who looked at each other 
with all the traditional hostility that belonged to the 
situation. She smiled on both, and didn t neglect me. 
I settled the matter with, 

"Worth has your address ; we ll call for you in my 
machine." And I got the idea that Cummings was 
asking questions about it as he went away holding her 
arm. 

"Do you think the little girl will really be of any 
use?" I spoke to the back of Worth s head as he 
continued to stare after them. 

"Sure. I know she will." He shoved his crum 
pled napkin in among the coffee service, and we moved 
toward the desk. "Sure she will," he repeated. 
"Wonder where she met Cummings." 



CHAPTER V 

AT THE ST. DUNSTAN 

AT the Palace Hotel Sunday morning where I 
went to pick up Worth before we should call 
for little Miss Wallace, he met me in high spirits 
and with an enthusiasm that demanded immediate 
physical action. 

"Heh," I said, "you look fine. Must have slept 
well." 

"Make it rested, and I ll go you/ he came back 
cheerfully. 

He d already been out, going down to the Grant 
Avenue corner for an assortment of Bay cities papers 
not to be had at the hotel news-stands, so that he could 
see whether our canny announcement of Clayte s 
fifteen thousand dollar defalcation had received dis 
creet attention from the Associated Press. 

For my part, our agency had been able to get hold 
of three women who had seen Clayte and remembered 
the event ; Mrs. Griggsby ; a stenographer at the bank ; 
and the woman who sold newspapers at the St. Dun- 
stan corner. Miss Wallace s suggestion had proven 
itself, for these three agreed with fair exactness, and 
the description run in the late editions of the city 
papers was less vague than the others. It gave Clayte s 
eyes as a pale gray-blue, and his hair as dull brown, 
eliminating at least all brown-eyed men. Worth 
asserted warmly, 

That girl s going to be useful to us, Boyne." I 

57 



58 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

couldn t well disagree with him-, after using her hint. 
We were getting out of the elevator on the office 
floor when he looked at me, grinned boyishly, and 
added, "What would you say if I told you I was 
being shadowed?" 

"That I thought it very likely," I nodded. "Also I 
might hazard a guess at whose money is paying for it." 

He gave me a quick glance, but asked no questions. 
I could see he was enjoying his position, up to the 
hilt, considered the attentions of a trailer as one of 
its perquisites. 

"Keep your eyes open and you ll spot him as we 
go out," he said as he left the key at the desk. 

It was hardly necessary to keep my eyes open to 
see the lurking figure over beyond the easy-chairs, 
which started galvanically as we passed through the 
court, and a moment later came sidling after us. 
Little Pete had left my machine at the Market Street 
entrance Worth was to drive me and we wheeled 
away from a disappointed man racing for the taxi 
line around the corner. 

"More power to his legs," Worth said. 

"Oh, I don t know," I grunted as we cut into Mont 
gomery, negotiated the corner onto Bush Street s clear 
way, striking a fair clip at once. "That end of him 
already works better than the other. How did you 
get wise?" 

"Barbara Wallace telephoned me to look out for 
him," he smiled, and let my car out another notch 
once we d passed the traffic cop at Kearny. 

I myself had foreseen the possibility but only as a 
possibility that Dykeman would put a man on 
Worth s coat-tails, since I knew Dykeman and had 



i 



AT THE ST. DUNSTAN 59 

been at that bank meeting; yet I had not regarded it 
as likely enough to warn Worth; and here was this 
girl phoning him to look out for a trailer. Was this 
some more of her deductive reasoning, or had Cum- 
mings dropped a hint? 

She was waiting for us in front of the Haight 
Street boarding house that served her for a home, 
and we tucked her between us on the roadster s wide 
seat. At the St. Dunstan we found my man, left 
there since the hour of the alarm the day before, and 
everybody belonging to the management surly and 
glum. The clerk handed me Clayte s key across the 
morning papers spread out on his desk. Apartment 
houses dislike notoriety of this sort, and the St. Dun 
stan set up to be as rabidly respectable, as chemically 
pure as any in the city. Well, no use their blaming 
me ; Clayte was their misfortune ; they couldn t expect 
me to keep the matter out of print entirely. 

The three of us crowded into the automatic elevator, 
and I pressed the seventh floor button. The girl s 
eyes shone under the wisp of veil twisted around a 
knowing little turban. She liked the taste of the ad 
venture. 

"That man came this way with that suitcase," she 
breathed, " maybe set it down right there when he 
pressed the button just as Mr. Boyne did now!" 

It was a fine morning; the shades had been left up, 
and Clayte s room when I opened the door was ablaze 
with sunlight. 

"How delightful!" Barbara Wallace stopped on 
the threshold and looked about her. I expected the 
scientific investigating to begin; but no she was all 
taken up with the beauty of sunlight and view. 



60 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

The seventh was the top floor. The St. Dunstan 
stood almost at the summit where Nob Hill slants 
obliquely to north and east, and Powell Street dizzies 
down the steep descent to North Beach and the Bay. 
The girl had run to a window, and was looking out 
toward the marvelous show of blue-green water and 
distant Berkeley hills. 

"Will you open this window for me, please?" she 
asked. I stepped to her side, forestalling Worth who 
was eyeing the room s interior with curiosity. 

"You ll notice the burglar-proof sash locks, " I said 
as I manipulated this one. She gave only casual in 
terest, her attention still on the view beyond. The 
steel latch, fastened to the upper sash, locked into the 
socket on the lower sash by a lever-catch. "See? 
I must pull out this little lever before I can push the 
hasp back with my thumb so. Now the window 
may be shoved up," and I illustrated. 

"Yes," she nodded; then, "Look at the wisps of fog 
around Tamalpais s top. Worth, come here and see 
the violet shadows of the clouds on the bay." 

"North wind coming up," agreed Worth, stepping 
to the farther window. 

"It s bringing in the fog," she said ; then abruptly, 
giving me the first hint that little Miss Wallace con 
sidered herself on the job, "Will it not latch by itself 
if you jam it shut hard?" 

"It will not." I illustrated with a bang. The 
latch still remained open. "I must close it by hand." 
I pushed the hasp into the keeper, and, snap the 
lever shot back and it was fast. 

"But a window like that couldn t be opened from 



AT THE ST. DUNSTAN 61 

outside, even without the locking lever," she remarked, 
gazing again toward the Marin shore. 

"A man with the know a burglar can open the 
ordinary window latch in less than a minute," I told 
her. "With a jimmy pinched between the sash and 
the sill, a recurring pressure starts the latch back ; 
nothing to hold it. This unless he cuts the glass 
is burglar-proof." 

Worth, at her shoulder, now looked down the sheer 
descent which exaggerated the seven stories of the 
St. Dunstan; because of its crowning position on the 
hill and the intersection of streets, we looked over the 
roofs of the houses before us, far above their chim 
ney tops. I caught his eye and grinned across the 
girl s head, suggesting, 

"Besides, we weren t trying to find how some one 
could break into this room, but how they could break 
out. Even if the latches had not been locked, there 
wouldn t be an answer in these windows unless 
Clayte could fly." 

"Might have climbed from one window ledge to 
the next and so made his way to the fire-escape," 
Worth said, but I shook my head. 

"He d be seen from the windows by the tenants on 
six floors and nobody saw him. Might as well take 
the elevator or the stairs which he didn t." 

But the girl wasn t listening to any of this. Her 
expression attentive, alert, she was passing her hand 
around the edge of the glass of either sash, as though 
she still dwelt on my suggestion of cutting the pane; 
and as we watched her, she murmured to herself, 

"Yes, flying would be a good way." It made me 
laugh. 



62 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

And then she turned away from the windows and 
had no more interest in any of them, going with me 
all over the rest of the room with rather the air of 
a person who thought of renting it than a high-brow 
criminal investigator hunting clews. 

"He lived here years, you say?" I nodded. She 
slid her hand over the plush cushions of a morris 
chair, threw back the covers of an iron bed in one 
corner and felt of the mattress, then went and stood 
before the bare little dresser. "Why, the place ex 
presses no more personality than a room in a tran 
sient hotel!" 

"He hadn t any personality," I growled, and got 
the flicker of a smile from her eye. 

"What about those library books he carried in the 
suitcase?" Worth came in with an echo from the 
bank meeting. 

"Some more bunk," 1 said morosely. "So far 
we ve not been able to locate him as a patron of any 
public or private library, and the hotel clerk s sure his 
mail never contained a correspondence course in fact, 
neither here nor at the bank can any one remember 
his getting any mail. If he ever carried books in that 
suitcase as Knapp believed, it was several years back." 

"Several years back," Miss Wallace repeated low. 

"Myself, I ve given up the idea of his studying. 
This crime doesn t look to me like any sudden tempta 
tion of a model bank clerk, spending his spare hours 
over correspondence courses. I rather expect to find 
him just plain crook." 

"Oh, no," the girl objected. "It s too big and too 
well done to have been planned by a dull, common 
place crook." 



AT THE ST. DUNSTAN 63 

"Right you are," I agreed, with restored good 
humor. "A keen brain planned this, but not Clayte s. 
There had to be an instrument and that was Clayte 
also, likely, one or more to help in the getaway." 

The getaway ! That brought us back with a thump 
to the present moment. Our pretty girl had been all 
over the shop now, glanced into bathroom, closet and 
cupboard, noted abandoned hats, clothing and shoes, 
the electric plate where Clayte got his breakfast coffee 
and toast, asked without much interest where he ate 
his other meals, and nodded agreeingly when she found 
that he d been only an occasional customer at the 
neighboring restaurants, never regular, apparently eat 
ing here and there down-town. She seemed to get 
something out of that; what I didn t know. 

"You speak of this crime not being committed on 
impulse," she turned to me at length. "How long 
ahead should you say he planned it ?" 

"Or had it planned and prepared for him," I re 
minded her. 

"Well, that, then," she conceded with slight impa 
tience. "How long do you think it might have been 
planned or prepared for? Years?" 

"Hardly that. Not more than a year probably. A 
gang like this wouldn t hold together on a proposition 
for many months." 

The black brows over those clear, childlike eyes, 
puckered a bit. I saw she wasn t at all satisfied with 
what I had said. 

"Made all the observations you want to, Bobs?" 
Worth asked. 

"All here. I want to see the roof." She gave us 
rather a mechanical smile as she silently ticked her 



64 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

points off on her fingers, appealing to me with, "I m 
depending upon you for such facts as I have been 
unable to observe for myself, so if you give me wrong 
facts make mistakes I ll make mistakes in deduc 
tion." 

There was such confidence in her deductive abilities 
that a tinge of irony crept into my tones as I replied, 
"I ll be very careful what opinions I hold." 
"I don t mind the opinions," this astounding young 
woman took me up gaily. "I never have any of my 
own, so I don t pay attention to anybody else s. But 
do be careful of your facts!" 

"I ll try to," was all I said. Worth cut in with, 
"Do you consider the roof another fact, Bobs?" 
"I hope to find facts there," she answered promptly. 
"Remember," I said, "your theory means another 
man up there, and you haven t yet 

"Please, Mr. Boyne, don t take two and two and 
make five of them at this stage of the game," she 
checked me hastily, and I left them together while 
I made a hurried survey of the hall ceilings, looking 
for the scuttle. There was no hatchway in view, so 
I started down to the clerk to make inquiry. As I 
passed Clayte s open door, Miss Wallace seemed to be 
adjusting her turban before the dresser mirror, while 
Worth waited impatiently. 

"Just a minute," I called. "I ll be right back," and 
I ducked into the elevator. 



CHAPTER VI 

ON THE ROOF 

WHEN I returned with a key and the information 
that the way to the roof ran through the 
janitor s tool-room at the far end of the hall, I found 
my young people already out there. Worth was trying 
the tool-room door. 

"Got the key?" he called. "It s locked." 

"Yes." I took my time fitting and turning it. 
"How did you know this was the room?" 

"I didn t," briefly. "Bobs walked out here, and I 
followed her. She said we d want into this one." 

She d guessed right again! I wheeled on her, 
ejaculating, 

"For the love of Mike! Tell a mere man how you 
deduced this stairway. Feminine intuition, I suppose." 

I hadn t meant to be offensive with that last, but 
her firm little chin was in the air as she countered, 

"Is it a stairway? It might be a ladder, you know." 

It was a ladder, an iron ladder, as I found when I 
ushered them in. My eyes snapped inquiry at her. 

ery simple," she said. Worth \vas pushing aside 
pails and boxes to make a better way for her to the 
ladder s foot. "There wouldn t be a roof scuttle in 
the rented rooms, so I knew when you called in to 
tell us there was none in the halls." 

"I didn t. I said nothing of the sort." Where was 
the girl s fine memory that she couldn t recollect a 

65 



66 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

man s words for the little time I d been gone! "All 
I said was, Just a minute and I ll be back/ 

"Yes, that s all you said to Worth." She glanced 
at the boy serenely as he waited for her at the ladder s 
foot. "He s not a trained observer ; he doesn t deduce 
even from what he does observe." There were twink 
ling lights in her black eyes. "But what your hurried 
trip to the office said to me was that you d gone for 
the key of the room that led to the roof -scuttle." 

Well, that was reasonable simple enough, too ; but, 

"This room? How did you find it?" 

She stepped to the open door and placed the tip of 
a gloved finger on the nickeled naught that marked 
the panels. 

"The significant zero again, Mr. Boyne," she 
laughed. "Here it means the room is not a tenanted 
one, and is therefore the way to the roof. Shall we go 
there?" 

"Well, young lady," I said as I led her along the 
trail Worth had cleared, "it must be almost as bad to 
see everything that way in minute detail as to be 
blind." 

"Carry on !" Worth called from the top of the lad 
der, reaching down to aid the girl. She laughed back 
at me as she started the short climb. 

"Not at all bad ! You others seem to me only half 
awake to what is about you only half living," and 
she placed her hand in the strong one held down to her. 
As Worth passed her through the scuttle to the roof, I 
saw her glance carelessly at the hooks and staples, the 
clumsy but adequate arrangement for locking the 
hatch, and, following her, gave them more careful 
attention, wondering what she had seen plenty that I 



ON THE ROOF 67 

did not, no doubt. They had no tale to tell my eyes. 

Once outside, she stopped a minute with Worth to 
adjust herself to the sharp wind which swept across 
from the north. Here was a rectangular space sur 
rounded by walls which ran around its four sides to 
form the coping, unbroken in any spot; a gravel-and- 
tar roof, almost flat, with the scuttle and a few small, 
dust covered skylights its only openings, four chimney- 
tops its sole projections. It was bare of any hiding- 
place, almost as clear as a tennis court. 

We made a solemn tour of inspection; I wasn t 
greatly interested how could I be, knowing that 
between this roof and my fugitive there had been 
locked windows, and a locked door under reliable 
human eyes? Still, the lifelong training of the detec 
tive kept me estimating the possibilities of a getaway 
from the roof if Clayte could have reached it. 
Worth crossed to where the St. Dunstan fire escape 
came up from the ground to end below us at a top 
floor window. I joined him, explaining as we looked 
down, 

"Couldn t have made it that way; not by daylight. 
In open view all around." 

"Think he stayed up here till dark?" Worth 
suggested, quite as though the possibility of Clayte s 
coming here at all was settled. 

"My men were all over this building roof to cellar 
within the hour. They d not have overlooked a 
crack big enough for him to hide in. Put yourself in 
Clayte s place. Time was the most valuable thing in 
the world with him right then. If ever he got up to 
this roof, he d not waste- a minute longer on it than he 
had to." 



68 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Let s see what s beyond, then," and Worth led the 
way to the farther end. 

The girl didn t come with us. Having been once 
around the roof coping, looking, it seemed to me, as 
much at the view as anything else, she now seemed 
content to settle herself on a little square of planking, 
a disused scuttle top or something of the sort, in 
against one of the chimneys where she was sheltered 
from the wind. Rather to my surprise, I saw her 
thoughtfully pulling off her gloves, removing her 
turban, all the time with a curiously disinterested air. 
I was reminded of what Worth had said the night 
before about the way her father trained her. Probably 
she regarded the facts I d furnished her, or that she d 
picked up for herself, much as she used to the problems 
in concentration her father spread in the high chair 
tray of her infancy. I turned and left her with them, 
for Worth was calling me to announce a fact I already 
knew, that the adjoining building had a roof some 
fifteen feet below where we stood, and that the man, 
admitting good gymnastic ability, might have reached 
it. 

"Sure," I said. "But come on. We re wasting 
time here." 

We turned to go, and then stopped, both of us 
checked instantly by what we saw. The girl was sit 
ting in a strange pose, her feet drawn in to cross 
beneath her body, slender hands at the length of the 
arms meeting with interlaced finger-tips before her, 
the thumbs just touching; shoulders back, chin up, 
eyes big enough at any time, now dilated to look 
twice their size velvet circles in a white face. Like 
a Buddha; I d seen her sit so, years before, an under- 



ON THE ROOF 69 

sized girl doing stunts for her father in a public hall; 
and even then she d been in a way impressive. But 
now, in the fullness of young beauty, her fine head 
relieved against the empty blue of the sky, the free 
winds whipping loose flying ends of her dark hair, she 
held the eye like a miracle. 

Sitting here so immovably, she looked to me as 
though life had slid away from her for the moment, 
the mechanical action of lungs and heart temporarily 
suspended, so that mind might work unhindered in that 
beautiful shell. No, I was wrong. She was breath 
ing; her bosom rose and fell in slow but deep, placid 
inhalations and exhalations. And the pale face might 
be from the slower heart-beat, or only because the sur 
face blood had receded to give more of strength to the 
brain. 

The position of head of a Bankers Security Agency 
carries with it a certain amount of dignity a dignity 
which, since Richardson s death, I have maintained 
better than I have handled other requirements of the 
business he left with me. I stood now feeling like a 
fool. I d grown gray in the work, and here in my 
prosperous middle life, a boy s whim and a girl s pretty 
face had put me in the position of consulting a clair 
voyant. Worse, for this was a wild-cat affair, without 
even the professional standing of establishments to 
which I knew some of the weak brothers in my line 
sometimes sneaked for ghostly counsel. If it should 
leak out, I was done for. 

I suppose I sort of groaned, for I felt Worth put a 
restraining hand on my arm, and heard his soft, 

"Psst!" 

The two of us stood, how long I can t say, something 



70 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

besides the beauty of the young creature, even the 
dignity of her in this outre situation getting hold of 
me, so that I was almost reverent when at last the 
rigidity of her image-like figure began to relax, the 
pretty feet in their silk stockings and smart pumps 
appeared where they belonged, side by side on the edge 
pf the planking, and she looked at us with eyes that 
slowly gathered their normal expression, and a smile 
of rare human sweetness. 

"It is horrid to see and I loathe doing it! * She 
shook her curly dark head like a punished child, and 
stayed a minute longer, eyes downcast, groping after 
gloves and hat. "I thought maybe I d get the answer 
before you saw me sitting up like a trained seal !" 

"Like a mighty pretty little heathen idol, Bobs," 
Worth amended. 

"Well, it s the only way I can really concentrate 
effectively. But this is the first time I ve done it since 
since father died." 

"And never again for me, if that s the way you feel 
about it." Worth crossed quickly and stood beside 
her, looking down. She reached a hand to him ; her 
eyes thanked him; but as he helped her to her feet I 
was struck by a something poised and confident that 
she seemed to have brought with her out of that 
strange state in which she had just been. 

"Doesn t either of you want to hear the answer? * 
she asked. Then, without waiting for reply, she 
started for the scuttle and the ladder, bare headed, 
carrying her hat. We found her once more adjusting 
turban and veil before the mirror of Clayte s dresser. 
She faced around, and announced, smiling steadily 
across at me, 



ON THE ROOF 71 

"Your man Clayte left this room while Mrs. 
Griggsby was kneeling almost on its threshold left 
it by that window over there. He got to the roof by 
means of a rope and grappling hook. He tied the 
suitcase to the lower end of the rope, swung it out 
of the window, went up hand over hand, and pulled 
the suitcase up after him. That s the answer I got." 

It was? Well, it was a beaut! Only Worth Gil 
bert, standing there giving the proceeding respecta 
bility by careful attention and a grave face, brought 
me down to asking with mild jocularity, 

"He did? He did all that? Well, please ma am, 
who locked the window after him?" 

"He locked the window after himself." 

"Oh, say!" I began in exasperation hadn t I just 
shown the impractical little creature that those locks 
couldn t be manipulated from outside? 

"Wait. Examine carefully the wooden part of the 
upper sash, at the lock again," she urged, but without 
making any movement to help. "You ll find what we 
overlooked before; the w r ay he locked the sash from 
the outside." 

I turned to the window and looked where she had 
said; nothing. I ran my fingers over the painted 
surface of the wood, outside, opposite the latch, and a 
queer, chilly feeling went down my spine. I jerked 
out my knife, opened it and scraped at a tiny 
inequality. 

"There is is something " I was beginning, when 
Worth crowded in at my side and pushed his broad 
shoulders out the window to get a better view of my 
operations, then commanded, 

"Let me have that knife." He took it from my 



72 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

fingers, dug with its blade, and suddenly from the in 
side I saw a tiny hole appear in the frame of the sash 
beside the lock hasp. "Here we are! He brought 
his upper half back into the room and held up a wooden 
plug, painted dipped in paint the exact color of the 
sash. It had concealed a hole; pierced the wood from 
out to in. 

"And she saw that in her trance," I murmured, 
gaping in amazement at the plug. 

I heard her catch her breath, and Worth scowled at 
me, 

"Trance? What do you mean, Boyne? She 
doesn t go into a trance." 

"That that whatever she does," I corrected rather 
helplessly. 

"Never mind, Mr. Boyne," said the girl. "It isn t 
clairvoyance or anything like that, however it looks." 

"But I wouldn t have believed any human eyes could 
have found that thing. I discovered it only by sense 
of touch and that after you told me to hunt for it. 
You saw it when I was showing you the latch, did 
you?" 

"Oh, I didn t see it." She shook her head. "I 
found it when I was sitting up there on the roof." 

"Guessed at it?" 

"I never guess." Indignantly. "When I d cleared 
my mind of everything else had concentrated on just 
the facts that bore on what I wanted to know how 
that man with the suitcase got out of the room and left 
it locked behind him I deduced the hole in the sash 
by elimination." 

"By elimination?" I echoed. "Show me." 

"Simple as two and two," she assented. "Out of 



ON THE ROOF 73 

the door? No; Mrs. Griggsby; so out of the window. 
Down ? No ; you told why ; he would be seen ; so, up. 
Ladder? No; too big for one man to handle or to 
hide; so a rope/ 

"But the hole in the sash?" 

"You showed me the only way to close that lock 
from the outside. There was no hole in the glass, so 
there must be in the sash. It was not visible you had 
been all over it, and a man of your profession isn t a 
totally untrained observer so the hole was plugged. 
I hadn t seen the plug, so it was concealed by paint 

I was trying to work a toothpick through the plug 
hole. She offered me a wire hairpin, straightened out, 
and with it I pushed the hasp into place from outside, 
saw the lever snap in to hold it fast. I had worked 
the catch as Clayte had worked it from outside. 

"How did you know it was this window?" I asked, 
forced to agree that she had guessed right as to the 
sash lock. "There are two more here, either of 
which" 

"No, please, Mr. Boyne. Look at the angle of the 
roof that cuts from view any one climbing from this 
window not from the others." 

We were all leaning in the window now, sticking 
our heads out, looking down, looking up. 

"I can t yet see how you get the rope and hook," I 
said. "Still seems to me that an outside man posted 
on the roof to help in the getaway is more likely." 

"Maybe. I can t deal with things that are merely 
likely. It has to be a fact or nothing for my use. 
I know that there wasn t any second man because of the 
nicks Clayte s grappling hook has left in the cornice 
up there." 



74 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Nicks!" I said, and stood like a bound boy at a 
husking, without a word to say for myself. Of 
course, in this impasse of the locked windows, my men 
and I had had some excuse for our superficial examina 
tion of the roof. Yet that she should have seen what 
we had passed over seen it out of the corner of her 
eye, and be laughing at me was rather a dose to 
swallow. She d got her hair and her hat and veil to 
her liking, and she prompted us, 

"So now you want to get right down stairs don t 
you and go up through that other building to its 
roof?" 

I stared. She had my plan almost before I had 
made it. 

At the St. Dunstan desk where I returned the keys, 
little Miss Wallace had a question of her own to put 
to the clerk. 

"How long ago was this building reroofed?" she 
asked with one of her dark, softly glowing smiles. 

"Reroofed?" repeated the puzzled clerk, much more 
civil to her than he had been to me. "I don t know 
that it ever was. Certainly not in my time, and I ve 
been here all of four years." 

"Not in four years? You re sure?" 

"Sure of that, yes, miss. But I can find exactly/ 
The fellow behind the desk was rising with an eager 
ness to be of service to her, when she cut him short 
with, 

"Thank you. Four years would be exact enough 
for my purpose." And she followed a puzzled detec 
tive and, if I may guess, an equally wondering Worth 
Gilbert out into the street. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE GOLD NUGGET 

THE neighbor to the south of the St. Dunstan 
was the Gold Nugget Hotel, a five story brick 
building and not at all pretentious as a hostelry. I 
knew the place mildly, and my police training, even 
better than such acquaintance as I had with this 
particular dump, told me what it was. Through the 
windows we could see guests, Sunday papers littered 
about them, half smoked cigars in their faces, 
and hats which had a general tendency to tilt over the 
right eye. And here suddenly I realized the difference 
between Miss Barbara Wallace, a scientist s daughter, 
and some feminine sleuth we might have had with us. 

"Take her back to the St. Dunstan, Worth," I 
suggested. Then, as I saw they were both going to 
resist, "She can t go in here. I ll wait for you if you 
like." 

"Don t know why we shouldn t let Bobs- in on the 
fun, same as you and me, Jerry." That was the way 
Worth put it. I took a side glance at his attitude in 
this affair that he d bought and was enjoying an eight 
hundred thousand dollar frolic, offering to share it with 
a friend ; and saying no more, I wheeled and swung 
open the door for them. The man at the desk looked 
at me, calling a quick, 

"Hello, Jerry what s up?" 

75 



;6 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Hello, Kite. How d you come here?" 

The Kite as a hotelman was a new one on me. Last 
I knew of him, he was in the business of making book 
at the Emeryville track; and I supposed if I ever 
thought of him that he d followed the ponies south 
across the border. As I stepped close to the counter, 
he spoke low, his look one of puzzled and somewhat 
anxious inquiry. 

"Running straight, Jerry. You may ask the Chief. 
What can I do for you?" 

Rather glad of the luck that gave me an old 
acquaintance to deal with, I told him, described Clayte, 
Worth and Miss Wallace standing by listening; then 
asked if Kite had seen him pass through the hotel going 
out the previous day at some time around one o clock, 
carrying a brown, sole leather suitcase. 

The readers of the Sunday papers who had been 
lured from their known standards of good manners 
into the sending of sundry interested glances in the 
direction of our sparkling girl, took the cue from the 
Kite s scowl to bury themselves for good in the volu 
minous sheets they held, each attending strictly to his 
own business, as is the etiquette of places like the Gold 
Nugget. 

"About one o clock, you say?" Kite muttered, 
frowning, twisted his head around and called down a 
back passage, "Louie Oh, Louie!" and when an 
overalled porter, rather messy, shuffled to the desk, put 
the low toned query, "D you see any stranger guy 
gripping a sole leather shirt-box snoop by out yestiddy, 
after one, thereabouts?" And I added the informa 
tion, 



THE GOLD NUGGET 77 

"Medium height and weight, blue eyes, light brown 
hair, smooth face." 

Louie looked at me dubiously. 

"How big a guy?" he asked. 

"Five feet seven or eight; weighs about hundred 
and forty." 

"Blue eyes you say?" 

"Light blue gray blue." 

"How was he tucked up?" 

"Blue serge suit, black shoes, black derby. Neat, 
quiet dresser." 

Louie s eyes wandered over the guests in the office 
questioningly. I began to feel impatient. If there 
was any place in the city where my description of Clayte 
would differentiate him, make him noticeable by com 
parison, it was here. Neat, quiet dressers were not 
dotting this lobby. 

"Might be Tim Foley ?" he appealed to the Kite, who 
nodded gravely and chewed his short mustache. 
"Would he have a big scar on his left cheek?" 

"He would not," I said shortly. "He wasn t a 
guest here, and you don t know him. Get this straight 
now: a stranger, going through here, out; about one 
o clock; carried a suitcase." 

"Bulls after him?" Louie asked, and I turned away 
from him wearily. 

"Kite," I said, "let me up to your roof." 

"Sure, Jerry." Released, the porter went on to 
gather up a pile of discarded papers. 

"Could he the man I ve described come through 
here through this office and neither you nor Louie 
see him?" I asked. The Kite brought a box of cigars 
from under the counter with, 



78 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"My treat, gentlemen. Naw, Jerry; sure not not 
that kind of a guy. Louie d a spotted him. Most 
observing cuss I ever seen." 

Miss Wallace, taking all this in, seemed amused. 
As I turned to lead to the elevator I found that again 
she wanted a question of her own answered. 

Mr. Kite/ she began and I grinned; Kite wasn t 
the Kite s surname or any part of his name; "Who is 
the guest here with the upstairs room on the top 
floor has had the same room right along for five 
or six years but doesn t " 

"Go easy, ma am, please!" Kite s little eyes were 
popping; he dragged out a handkerchief and fumbled it 
around his forehead. "I ve not been here for any five 
or six years no, nor half that time. Since I ve been 
here most of our custom is transient. Nobody don t 
keep no room five or six years in the Gold Nugget." 

"Back up," I smiled at his excitement. "To my 
certain knowledge Steve Skeels has had a room here 
longer than that. Hasn t he been with you ever since 
the place was rebuilt after the earthquake?" 

"Steve?" the Kite repeated. "I forgot him. Yeah 
he keeps a little room up under the roof." 

"Has he had it for as long as four years ?" the young 
lady asked. 

"Search me," the Kite shook his head. 

But Louie the overalled, piloting us the first stage 
of our journey in a racketty old elevator that he seemed 
to pull up by a cable, so slow it was, grumbled an 
assent to the same question when it was put to him, 
and confirmed my belief that Skeels came into the 
hotel as soon as it was rebuilt, and had kept the same 
room ever since. 



THE GOLD NUGGET 79 

Miss Wallace seemed interested in this; but all the 
time we were making the last lap, by an iron stairway, 
to that roof -house we had seen from the top of the St. 
Dunstan; all the time Louie was unlocking the door 
there to let us out, instructing us to be sure to relock 
it and bring him the key, and to yell for him down the 
elevator shaft because the bell was busted, the quiet 
smile of Miss Barbara Wallace disturbed me. She 
followed where I led, but I had the irritating impression 
that she looked on at my movements, and Worth s as 
well, with the indulgent eye of a grown-up observing 
children at play. 

On the roof of the Gold Nugget we picked up the 
possible trail easily ; Clayte hadn t needed to go through 
the building, or have a confederate staked out in a room 
here, to make a downward getaway. For here the 
fire escape came all the way up, curving over the cop 
ing to anchor into the wall, and it was a good iron 
stairway, with landings at each floor, and a handrail 
the entire length, its lower end in the alley between 
Powell and Mason Streets. Looking at it I didn t 
doubt that it was used by the guests of the Gold 
Nugget at least half as much as the easier but more 
conspicuous front entrance. Therefore a man seen on 
it would be no more likely to attract attention than he 
would in the elevator. I explained this to the others, 
but Worth had attacked a rack of old truck piled in 
the corner of the roof-house, and paid little attention 
to me, while Miss Wallace nodded with her provoking 
smile and said, 

"Once -yes; no doubt you are exactly right. I 
wasn t looking for a w r ay that a man might take once, 
under pressure of great necessity." 



8o THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Why not?" I countered. "If Clayte got away by 
this means yesterday that ll do me." 

"It might," she nodded, "if you could see it as a 
fact, without seeing a lot more. Such a man as Clayte 
was a really wonderful man, you know " the dim 
ples were deep in the pink of her cheeks as she flashed 
a laughing look at me with this clawful "a really 
wonderful man like Clayte," she repeated, "wouldn t 
have trusted to a route he hadn t known and proved 
for a long time." 

"That s theory," I smiled. "I take my hat off to 
you, Miss Wallace, when it comes to observing and 
deducing, but I m afraid your theorizing is weak." 

"I never theorize," she reminded me. "All I deal 
with is facts." 

She had perched herself on an overturned box, and 
was watching Worth sort junk. I leaned against the 
roof-house, pushed Kite s donated cigar unlighted into 
a corner of my mouth and stared at her. 

"Miss Wallace," I said sharply, "what s this Steve 
Skeels stuff? What s this reroofing stuff? What s 
the dope you think you have, and you think I haven t? 
Tell us, and we ll not waste time. Tell us, and we ll 
get ahead on this case. Worth, let that rubbish alone. 
Nothing there for us. Come here and listen." 

For all answer he straightened up, looked at us with 
out a word and went to it again. I turned to the 
girl. 

"Worth doesn t need to listen to me, Mr. Boyne," 
she said serenely. "He already has full faith in me 
and my methods." 

"Methods be be blowed !" I exploded. "It s results 
that count, and you ve produced. I m willing to hand 



THE GOLD NUGGET 81 

it to you. All we know now, we got from you. Be 
side you I m a thick-headed blunderer. Let me in on 
how you get things and I wont be so hard to con 



vince." 



"Indeed, you aren t a blunderer," she said warmly. 
"You do a lot better than most people at observing." 
(High praise that, for a detective more than twenty 
years in the business ; but she meant to be complimen 
tary.) "I m glad to tell you my processes. How 
much time do you want to give to it?" 

Not a minute longer than will get what you know/ 
Arid she began with a rush. 

"Those dents in the coping at the St. Dunstan, above 
Clayte s window I asked the clerk there how long 
since the building had been reroofed, because there 
were nicks made by that hook and half filled with tar 
that had been slushed up against the coping and into 
the lowest dents. You see what that means ?" 

"That Clayte or some accomplice of his had been 
using the route more than four years ago. Yes." 

"And the other scars were made at varying times, 
showing me that coming over here from there w r as 
quite a regular thing." 

"At that rate he would have nicked the coping 
until it would have looked like a huck towel," I 
objected. 

"A huck towel," she gravely adopted my word. 
"But he was a man that did everything he did several 
different ways. That was his habit a sort of disguise. 
That s why he was shadowy and hard to describe. 
Sometimes he came up to the St. Dunstan roof just 
as we did; and once, a good while ago, there were 
cleats on that wall there so he could climb down here 



82 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

without the rope. They have been taken away some 
time, and the places where they were are weathered 
over so you would hardly notice them." 

"Right you are," I said feelingly. "I d hardly 
notice them. If I could notice things as you do 
fame and fortune for me !" I thought the matter over 
for a minute. "That lodger on the top floor, Steve 
Skeels," I debated. "A poor bet. Yet after all, he 
might have been a member of the gang, though some 
how I don t get the hunch " 

"What sort of looking person was this man Skeels?" 
she asked. 

"Quiet fellow. Dressed like a church deacon. 
Silent Steve they call him. I ll send for him down 
stairs and let you give him the once-over if you like." 

"Oh, that s not the kind of man I m looking for." 
She shook her head. "My man would be more like 
those down there in the easy chairs so he wasn t 
noticed in the elevator or when he passed out through 
the office." 

"Wasn t it cute of him?" I grinned. "But you see 
we ve just heard that he didn t take the elevator and go 
through the office Saturday anyhow, which is the 
only time that really counts for us, the time when he 
carried that suitcase with a fortune in it." 

"But he did," she persisted. "He went that way. 
He walked out the front door and carried away the 
suitcase " 

"He didn t!" Worth shouted, and began throwing 
things behind him like a terrier in a wood-rat s 
burrow. 

Derelict stuff of all sorts; empty boxes, pasteboard 
cartons, part of an old trunk, he hurtled them into a 



THE GOLD NUGGET 83 

heap, and dragged out a square something in a gunny 
sack. As he jerked to clear it from the sacking, I 
glanced at little Miss Wallace. She wasn t getting 
any pleasureable kick out of the situation. Her eyes 
seemed to go wider open with a sort of horror, her 
face paled as she drooped in on herself, sitting there 
on the box. Then Worth held up his find in triumph, 
assuming a famous attitude. 

"The world is mine!" he cried. 

"Maybe tis, maybe tisn t," I said as I ran across to 
look at the thing close. Sure enough, he d dug up a 
respectable brown, sole leather suitcase with brass 
trimmings such as a bank clerk might have carried, 
suspiciously much too good to have been thrown out 
here. Could it be that the thieves had indeed met in 
one of the Gold Nugget s rooms or in the roof-house 
up here, made their divvy, split the swag, and thus 
clumsily disposed of the container? At the moment, 
Worth tore buckles and latches free, yanked the thing 
open, reversed it in air and out fell a coiled rope 
that curved itself like a snake a three-headed snake; 
the triple grappling iron at its end standing up as 
though to hiss. 

We all stood staring; I was too stunned to be tri 
umphant. What a pat confirmation of Miss Wallace s 
deductions! I turned to congratulate her and at the 
same instant Worth cried, 

"What s the matter, Bobs?" for the girl was sitting, 
staring dejectedly, her chin cupped in her palms, her 
lips quivering. Nonplussed, I stooped over the suit 
case and rope, coiling up the one, putting it in the other 
this first bit of tangible, palpable evidence we d 
lighted on. 



84 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Let s get out of this/ I said quickly. "We ve 
done all we can here and good and plenty it is, too." 

Worth took the suitcase out of my hands and carried 
it, so that I had to help Miss Wallace down the ladder. 
She still looked as though she d lost her last friend. 
I couldn t make her out. Never a word from her 
while we were getting down, or while they waited and 
I shouted for Louie. It was in the elevator, with the 
porter looking at everything on earth but this suitcase 
we hadn t brought in and we were taking out, that she 
said, hardly above her breath, 

"Shall you ask at the desk if this ever belonged to 
any one in the house?" 

"Find out here right now," and I turned to the 
man in overalls with, "How about it?" 

"Not that your answer will make any difference," 
Worth cut in joyously. "Nobody need get the idea 
that they can take this suitcase away from me cause 
they can t. It s mine. I paid eight hundred thousand 
dollars for this box; and I ve got a use for it." He 
chuckled. Louie regarded him with uncomprehending 
toleration queer doings were the order of the day at 
the Gold Nugget and allowed negligently. 

"You ll get to keep it. It don t belong here." 
Then, as a coin changed hands, "Thank you." 

"But didn t it ever belong here?" our girl persisted 
forlornly, and when Louie failed her, jingling Worth s 
tip in his calloused palm, she wanted the women asked, 
and we had a frowsy chambermaid called who denied 
any acquaintance with our sole leather discovery, in 
sisting, upon definite inquiry, that she had never seen 
it in Skeels room, or any other room of her domain. 
Little Miss Wallace sighed and dropped the subject. 



THE GOLD NUGGET 85 

As we stepped out of the elevator, I behind the 
others, Kite caught my attention with a low whistle, 
and in response to a furtive, beckoning, backward jerk 
of his head, I moved over to the desk. The reading 
gentlemen in the easy chairs, most consciously uncon 
scious of us, sent blue smoke circles above their papers. 
Kite leaned far over to get his mustache closer to my 
ear. 

"You ast me about Steve/ he whispered. 

"Yeah," I agreed, and looked around for Barbara, 
to tell her here was her chance to meet the gentleman 
she had so cleverly deduced. But she and Worth were 
already getting through the door, he still clinging to 
the suitcase, she trailing along with that expression of 
defeat. "I m sort of looking up Steve. And you 
don t want to tip him off see?" 

"Couldn t if I wanted to, Jerry," the Kite came down 
on his heels, but continued to whisper hoarsely. 
"Steve s bolted." 

"What?" 

"Bolted," the Kite repeated. "Hopped the twig. 
Jumped the town." 

"You mean he s not in his room?" I reached for 
a match in the metal holder, scratched it, and lit my 
cigar. 

"I mean he s jumped the town," Kite repeated. 
"You got me nervous asking for him that way. While 
you was on the roof, I took a squint around and found 
he was gone with his hand baggage. That means 
he s gone outa town." 

"Xot if the suitcase you squinted for was a brown 
sole leather " I was beginning, but the Kite cut in on 
me. 



86 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"I seen that one you had. That wasn t it. His was 
a brand new one, black and shiny." 

Suddenly I couldn t taste my cigar at all. 

"Know what time to-day he left here?" I asked. 

"It wasn t to-day. Twas yestiddy. About one 
o clock." 

As I plunged for the door I was conscious of his 
hoarse whisper following me, 

"What s Steve done, Jerry? What d ye want him 
for?" 

I catapulted across the sidewalk and into the 
machine. 

"Get me to my office as fast as you can, Worth," I 
exclaimed. "Hit Bush Street and rush it." 



CHAPTER VIII 

A TIN-HORN GAMBLER 

AFTER we were in the machine, my head was so 
full of the matter in hand that Worth had 
driven some little distance before I realized that the 
young people were debating across me as to which 
place we went first, Barbara complaining that she was 
hungry, while Worth ungallantly eager to give his own 
affairs immediate attention, argued, 

"You said the dining-room out at your diggings 
w r ould be closed by this time. Why not let me take 
you down to the Palace, along with Jerry, have this 
suitcase safely locked up, and we can all lunch together 
and get ahead with our talk." 

Drive to the office, \Vorth," I cut in ahead of 
Barbara s objections to this plan. "I ought to be 
there this minute. We ll have a tray in from a little 
joint that feeds me when I m too busy to go out for 
grub." 

I took them straight into my private office at the 
end of the suite. 

"Make yourself comfortable," I said to Miss 
Wallace. "Better let me lock up that suitcase, Worth ; 
stick it in the vault. That s evidence." 

"I ll hang on to it." He grinned. "You can keep 
the rope and hook. This has got another use before 
it can be evidence." 

Not even delaying to remove my coat, I laid a heavy 

87 



88 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

finger on the buzzer button for Roberts, my secretary ; 
then as nothing resulted, I played music on the other 
signal tips beneath the desk lid. It was Sunday, also 
luncheon hour, but there must be some one about the 
place. It never was left entirely empty. 

My fugue work brought little Pete, and Murray, 
one of the men from the operatives room. 

"Where s Roberts?" I asked the latter. 

"He went to lunch, Mr. Boyne." 

"Where s Foster?" Foster was chief operative. 

"He telephoned in from Redwood City half an hour 
ago. Chasing a Clayte clue down the peninsula." 

"If he calls up again, tell him to report in at once. 
Is there a stenographer about?" 

"Not a one ; Sunday, you know/ 

"Can you take dictation?" 

"Me? Why, no, sir." 

"Then dig me somebody who can. And rush it. 
I ve" 

"Perhaps I might help." It was little Miss Wallace 
who spoke; about the first cheerful word I d heard 
out of her since we found that suitcase on the roof 
of the Gold Nugget. "I can take on the machine 
fairly." 

"Fine!" I tossed my coat on the big center table. 
"Murray, send Roberts to me as soon as he comes in. 
You take number two trunk line, and find two of the 
staff quick; any two. Shoot them to the Gold 
Nugget Hotel." I explained the situation in a word. 
Then, as he was closing the door, "Keep off Number 
One trunk, Murray; I ll be using that line," and I 
turned to little Pete. 



A TIN-HORN GAMBLER 89 

"Get lunch for three," I said, handing him a bill. 
From his first glance at Barbara one could have seen 
that the monkey was hers truly, as they say at the end 
of letters. I knew as he bolted out that he felt some 
thing very special ought to be dug up for such a 
visitor. 

The girl had shed coat and hat and was already 
fingering the keys of the typewriter, trying their touch. 
I saw at once she knew her business, and I turned to 
the work at hand with satisfaction. 

"You ll find telegram blanks there somewhere," I 
instructed. "Get as many in for manifold copies as 
you can make readable. The long form. Worth " 

I looked around to find that my other amateur 
assistant was following my advice, stowing his 
precious suitcase in the vault ; and it struck me that he 
couldn t have been more tickled with the find if the 
thing had contained all the money and securities in 
stead of that rope and hook. He had made the latter 
into a separate package, and now looked up at me with, 

"Want this in here, too, Jerry?" 

"I do. Lock them both up, and come take the tele 
phone at the table there. Press down Number One 
button. Then call every taxi stand in the city (find 
their numbers at the back of the telephone directory) 
and ask if they picked up Silent Steve at or near the 
Gold Nugget yesterday afternoon about one; Steve 
Skeels or any other man. If so, where d they take 
him? Get me?" 

"All hunk, Jerry." He came briskly to the job. 
I returned to Miss Wallace, with, 

"Ready, Barbara?" 



90 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Yes, Mr. Boyne." 

"Take dictation : 

" We offer five hundred dollars You authorize 
that, Worth ?" 

"Sure. What s it for?" 

"Never mind. You keep at your job. Five hun 
dred dollars for the arrest of Silent Steve S keels 
Wait. Make that arrest or detention, Got It?" 

"All right, Mr. Boyne." 

" Skeels, gambler, who left San Francisco about 
one in the afternoon yesterday March sixth. Pre 
sumed he went by train; maybe by auto. He is 
man thirty-eight to forty; five feet seven or eight; 
weighs about one hundred forty. Hair, light brown; 
eyes light blue Make it gray-blue, Barbara." 

Worth glanced up from where he was jotting down 
telephone numbers to drawl, 

"You know who you re describing there?" 

"Yes Steve Skeels." 

I saw Miss Wallace give him a quick look, a little 
shake of her head, as she said to me. 

"Go on please, Mr. Boyne." 

" Hair parted high, smoothed down ; appears of 
slight build but is well muscled. Neat dresser, quiet, 
usually wears blue serge suit, black derby hat, black 
shoes. " 

"By Golly you see it now yourself, don t you, 
Jerry?" 

"I see that you re holding up work," I said im 
patiently. And now it was the quiet girl who came in 
with. 

"Who gave you this description of Steve Skeels? 



A TIN-HORN GAMBLER 91 

I mean, how many people s observation of the man 
does this represent?" 

"One. My own," I jerked out. "I know Skeels; 
have known him for years." 

"Years? How many?" It was still the girl asking. 

"Since 1907 or thereabouts." 

"Was he always a gambler?" she wanted to know. 

"Always. Ran a joint on Fillmore Street after the 
big earthquake, and before San Francisco came back 
downtown." 

"A gambler," she spoke the word just above her 
breath, as though trying it out with herself. "A man 
who took big chances risks." 

"Not Steve," I smiled at her earnestness. "Steve 
was a piker always a tin-horn gambler. Hid away 
from the police instead of doing business with them. 
Take a chance? Not Steve." 

Worth had left the telephone and was leaning over 
her shoulder to read what she had typed. 

"Exactly and precisely," he said, "the same words 
you had in that other fool description of him." 

"Of whom?" 

"Gayte." 

Worth let me have the one word straight between 
the eyes, and I leaned back in my chair, the breath 
almost knocked out of me by it. By an effort I 
pulled myself together and turned to the girl : 

"Take dictation, please: Skeel s eyes are wide 
apart, rather small but keen " 

And for the next few minutes I was making words 
mean something, drawing a picture of the Skeels I 
knew, so that others could visualize him. And it 



92 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

brought me a word of commendation from Miss Wal 
lace, and made Worth exclaim, 

"Sounds more like Clayte than Clayte himself. 
You ve put flesh on those bones, Jerry." 

"You keep busy at that phone and help land him," 
I growled. "Finish, please: Wire information to 
me. I hold warrant. Jeremiah Boyne, Bankers Se 
curity Agency. That s all." 

The girl pulled the sheets from the machine and 
sorted them while I was stabbing the buzzer. Roberts 
answered, breezing in with an apology which I nipped. 

"Never mind that. Get this telegram on the wires 
to each of our corresponding agencies as far east as 
Spokane, Ogden and Denver. Has Murray got in 
touch with Foster?" 

"Not yet. Young and Stroud are outside." 

"Send them to bring in Steve Skeels," I ordered. 
"Description on the telegram there. Any word, 
Worth?" 

"Nothing yet." Worth was calling one after an 
other of the taxi offices. Little Pete came in with a 
tray. 

"All right, Worth," I said. "Turn that job over 
to .Roberts. Here s where we eat." 

The kid s idea of catering for Barbara was club 
sandwiches and pie a la mode. It wouldn t have been 
mine; but I was glad to note that he d guessed right. 
The youngsters fell to with appetite. For myself, I 
ate, the receiver at my ear, talking between bites. 
San Jose, Stockton, Santa Rosa in all the nearby 
towns of size, I placed the drag-net out for Silent 
Steve, tin-horn gambler. 

They talked as they lunched. I didn t pay any 



A TIN-HORN GAMBLER 93 

attention to what they said now ; my mind was racing 
at the new idea Worth had given me. So far, I had 
been running Skeels down as one of the same gang 
with Clayte; the man on the roof; the go-between for 
the getaway. My supposition was that when the suit 
case was emptied for division, Skeels, being left to 
dispose of the container, had stuck it where we found 
it. But what if the thing worked another way? 
What if all the money almost a round million which 
came to the Gold Nugget roof in the brown sole- 
leather case, walked out of its front door in the new 
black shiny carrier of Skeels the gambler? 

Could that be worked ? A gambler at night, a bank 
employee by day? Why not? Improbable. But not 
impossible. 

"I believe you said a mouthful, Worth," I broke in 
on the two at their lunch. "And tell me, girl, how 
did you get the idea of walking up to the desk at the 
Gold Nugget and demanding Steve Skeels from the 
Kite?" 

"I didn t demand Steve Skeels," she reminded me 
rather plaintively. "I didn t want him." 

"What did you want?" 

"A room that had been lived in." 

She didn t need to add a word to that. I got her 
in the instant. That examination of hers in Clayte s 
room at the St. Dunstan; the crisp, new-looking bed 
ding, the unworn velvet of the chair cushions; the 
faded nap of the carpet, quite perfect, while that in the 
hall had just been renewed. Even had the room been 
done over recently and I knew it had not there was 
no getting around the total absence of photographs, 
pictures, books, magazines, newspapers, old letters, the 



94 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

lack of all the half worn stuff that collects about an 
occupied apartment. No pinholes or defacements on 
the walls, none of the litter that accumulates. The 
girl was right; that room hadn t been lived in. 

"Beautiful," I said in honest admiration. "It s a 
pleasure to see a mind like yours, and such powers of 
observation, in action, clicking out results like a per 
fectly adjusted machine. Clayte didn t live in his 
room because he lived with the gang all his glorious 
outside hours. There was where the poor rabbit of 
a bank clerk got his fling." 

"Oh, yes, it works logically. He held himself down 
to Clayte at the St. Dunstan and in the bank, and he 
let himself go to what? outside of it, beyond it, 
where he really lived." 

"He let himself go to Steve Skeels won t that do 
you?" 

"No," she said so positively that it was annoying. 
"That won t do me at all." 

"But it s what you got," I reminded her rather un 
kindly, and then was sorry I d done it. "It s what 
you got for me and I thank you for it." 

"You needn t," she came back at me spunky little 
thing. "It isn t worth thanking anybody for. It s 
only a partial fact." 

"And you think half truths are dangerous?" I 
smiled at her. 

"There isn t any such thing," she instructed me. 
"Even facts can hardly be split into fractions; while 
the truth is always whole and complete." 

"As far as you see it," I amended. "For instance, 
you insist on keeping the gang all under Clayte s hat 
or you did at first. Now you re refusing to believe, 



A TIN-HORN GAMBLER 95 

as both Worth and I believe, that Steve Skeels is 
Clayte himself. I should think you d jump at the 
idea. Here s your Wonder Man." 

She leaned back in her chair and laughed. I was 
glad to hear the sound again, see the dimples flicker 
in her cheeks, even if she was laughing at me. 

"A wonderful Wonder Man, Mr. Boyne," she said. 
"One who? does things so bunglingly that you can 
follow him right up and put your hand on him." 

"Not so I could," I reminded her gaily. "So you 
could. Quite a different matter." She took my com 
pliment sweetly, but she said with smiling reluctance, 

"I m not in this, of course, except that your kind 
ness allowed me to be for this day only. But if I 
were, I shouldn t be following Skeels as you are. I d 
still be after Clayte." 

"It foots up to the same thing," I said rather tartly. 

"Oh, does it?" she laughed at me. "Two and two 
are making about three and a half this afternoon, are 
they?" 

"What we ve got to-day ought to land something," 
I maintained. "You ve been fine help, Barbara " 
and I broke off suddenly with the knowledge that I d 
been calling her that all through the rush of the work. 

"Thank you." She smiled inclusively. I knew she 
meant my use of her name as well as my commenda 
tion. I began clearing my desk preparatory to leaving. 
Worth was going to take her home and as he brought 
her coat, he spoke again of the suitcase. 

"Hey, there !" I remonstrated, "You don t want to 
be lugging that thing with you everywhere, like a 
three-year-old kid that s found a dead cat. Leave it 
where it is." 



96 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Give me an order for it then/ he said. And when 
I looked surprised, "Might need that box, and you not 
be in the office." 

"Need it?" I grumbled. "I d like to know what 
for." 

But I scribbled the order. Over by the window the 
young people were talking together earnestly; they 
made a picture against the light, standing close, the 
girl s vivid dark face raised, the lad s tall head bent, 
attentive. 

"But, Bobs, you must get some time to play about," 
I heard Worth say. 

"Awfully little," Her look up at him was like that 
of a wistful child. 

"You said you were in the accounting department," 
he urged impatiently. "A lightning calculator like 
you could put that stuff through in about one tenth 
of the usual time." 

"I use an adding machine," she half whispered, and 
it made me chuckle. 

"An adding machine!" Worth exploded in a peal 
of laughter. "For Barbara Wallace! What s their 
idea?" 

"It isn t their idea; it s mine," with dignity. "They 
don t know that I used to be a freak mathematician. 
I don t want them to. Father used to say that all 
children could be trained to do all that I did if you 
took them young enough. But till they are, I d rather 
not be. It s horrid to be different; and I m keeping 
it to myself in the office anyhow and living my 
past down the best I can." 

As though her words had suggested it, Worth spoke 
again, 



A TIN-HORN GAMBLER 97 

"Where did you meet Cummings? Seems you find 
time to go out with him." 

"I ve known Mr. Cummings for years," Barbara 
spoke quietly, but she looked self-conscious. "I knew 
he was with those friends of mine at the Orpheum 
last night, but I didn t expect him to call for me at 
Tait s or rather I thought they d all come in after 
me. There wasn t anything special about it no 
special appointment with him, I mean/ 

I had forgotten them for a minute or two, closing 
my desk, finding my coat, when I heard some one 
come into the outer office, a visitor, for little Pete s 
voice went up to a shrill yap with the information 
that I was busy. Then the knob turned, the door 
opened, and there stood Cummings. At first he saw 
only me at the desk. 

"Your friend calling for you again, Bobs by ap 
pointment?" Worth s question drew the lawyer s 
glance, and he stared at them apparently a good deal 
taken aback, while Worth added, "Seems to keep pretty 
close tab on your movements." The low tone might 
have been considered joking, but there was war in 
the boy s eye. 

It was as though Cummings answered the challenge, 
rather than opened with what he had intended. 

"My business is with you, Gilbert." He came in 
and shut the door behind him, leaving his hand on the 
knob. "And I ve been some time finding you." He 
stopped there, and was so long about getting any 
thing else out that Worth finally suggested, 

"The money?" *And when there was no reply but 
a surprised look, "How do you stand now?" 

"Still seventy-two thousand to raise." Cummings 



98 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

spoke vaguely. This was not what had brought him 
to the office. He finished with the abrupt question, 
"Were you at Santa Ysobel last night?" 

"Hold on, Cummings," I broke in. "What you got ? 
Let us" 

I was shut off there by Worth s, 

"It s Sunday afternoon. I want that money to 
morrow morning. You ve not come through ? You ve 
not dug up what I sent you after ?" 

I could see that the lawyer was absolutely nonplussed. 
Again he gave Worth one of those queer, probing 
looks before he said doggedly, 

"The question of that money can wait." 

"It can t wait." Worth s eyes began to light up. 
"What you talking, Cummings an extension?" And 
when the lawyer made no answer to this, "I ll not 
crawl in with a broken leg asking favors of that bank 
crowd. Are you quitting on me? If so, say it 
and I ll find a way to raise the sum, myself." 

"I ve raised all but seventy-two thousand of the 
necessary amount," said Cummings slowly. "What 
I want to know is how much have you raised?" 

"See here, Cummings," again I mixed in. "I was 
present when that arrangement was made. Nothing 
was said about Worth raising any money." 

Cummings barely glanced around at me as he said, 
"I made a suggestion to him; in your presence, as 
you say, Boyne. I want to know if he carried it out." 
Then, giving his full attention to Worth, "Did you see 
your father last night?" 

On instinct I blurted, 

"For heaven s sake, keep your mouth shut, Worth !" 

For a detective that certainly was an incautious 



A TIN-HORN GAMBLER 99 

speech. Cummings eye flared suspicion at me, and 
his voice was a menace. 

"You keep out of this, Boyne." 

"You tell what s up your sleeve, Cummings," I coun 
tered. "This is no witness-stand cross-examination. 
"What you got?" 

But Worth answered for him, hotly, 

"If Cummings hasn t seventy-two thousand dollars 
I commissioned him to raise for me, I don t care what 
he s got." 

"And you didn t go to your father for it last 
night?" Cummings returned to his question. He had 
moved close to the boy. Barbara stood just where 
she was when the door opened. Neither paid any 
attention to her. But she looked at the two men, 
drawn up with glances clinched, and spoke out sud 
denly in her clear young voice, as though there was no 
row on hand, 

"Worth was with me last night, you know, Mr. 
Cummings." 

"I seem to have noticed something of the sort," 
Cummings said with labored sarcasm. "And he d 
been with that wedding party earlier in the evening, 
I suppose." 

"With me till Miss Wallace came in." Worth s 
natural disposition to disoblige the lawyer could be 
depended on to keep from Cummings whatever in 
formation he wanted before giving us his own news. 
"\Vhat you got, Cummings?" I prompted again, im 
patiently. "Come through." 

His eyes never shifted an instant from Worth Gil 
bert s face. 

"A telegram from Santa Ysobel," he said slowly. 



ioo THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

Worth shrugged and half turned away. 

"I m not interested in your telegram, Cummings." 

Instantly I saw what the boy thought : that the other 
had taken it on himself to apply for the money to 
Thomas Gilbert, and had been turned down. 

"Not interested?" Cummings repeated in that dry, 
lawyer voice that speaks from the teeth out; on the 
mere tone, I braced for something nasty. "I think 
you are. My telegram s from the coroner." 

Silence after that; Worth obstinately mute; Barbara 
and I afraid to ask. There was a little tremor of 
Cummings nostril, he couldn t keep the flicker out 
of his eye, as he said, staring straight at Worth, 

"It states that your father shot himself last night. 
The body wasn t discovered till late this morning, in 
his study." 



CHAPTER IX 

SANTA YSOBEL 

OF all unexpected things. I went down to Santa 
Ysobel with Worth Gilbert. It happened this 
way : Cummings, one of those individuals on whose 
tombstone may truthfully be put, "Born a man and 
died a lawyer," seemed rather taken aback at the effect 
of the blow he d launched. If he was after informa 
tion, I can t think he learned much in the moment 
while Worth stood regarding him with an unreadable 
eye. 

There was only a little grimmer tightening of the 
jaw muscle, something bleak and robbed in the glance 
of the eye; the face of one, it seemed to me, who 
grieved the more because he was denied real sorrow 
for his loss, and Worth had tramped to the window 
and stood with his back to us, putting the thing over 
in his silent, fighting fashion, speaking to none of us. 
It was when Barbara followed, took hold of his 
sleeve and began half whispering up into his face that 
Cummings jerked his hat from the table where he 
had thrown it, and snapped, 

"Boyne can I have a few minutes of your time?" 

"Jerry," Worth s voice halted me at the door, 
Leave that card an order for me. For the suit 
case." 

Cummings was ahead of me, and he turned back to 

101 



102 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

listen, but I crowded him along and was pretty hot 
when I faced him in the outer office to demand, 

"What kind of a deal do you call this ripping in 
here to throw this thing at the boy in such a way? 
What is your idea? What you trying to put over?" 

"Go easy, Boyne." Cummings chewed his words 
a little before he let them out. "There s something 
queer in this business. I intend to know what it is," 

"Queer," I repeated his word. "If the lawyers and 
the detectives get to running down all the queer things 
that don t concern them a little bit the world won t 
have any more peace." 

"All right, if you say it doesn t concern you," Cum 
mings threw me overboard with relief I thought. "It 
does concern me. When I couldn t get him" a jerk 
of the head indicated that the pronoun stood for Worth 
"at the Palace, found he d been out all day and left 
no word at the desk when he expected to be. in, I 
took my telegram to Knapp, and then to Whipple. 
They were flabbergasted." 

"The bank crowd," I said. "Now why did you 
run to them? On account of Worth s engagement 
with them to-morrow morning? Wasn t that exceed 
ing your orders? You saw that he intends to meet 
it, in spite of this." 

"Why not because of this?" Cummings demanded 
sharply. "He s in better shape to meet it now his 
father s dead. He s the only heir. That s the first 
thing Knapp and Whipple spoke of and I saw them 
separately." 

"Can that stuff. What do you think you re hint 
ing at?" 

"Something queer," he repeated his phrase. "Wake 



SANTA YSOBEL 103 

up, Boyne. Knapp and Whipple both saw Thomas 
Gilbert a little before noon yesterday. He was in the 
bank for the final transfer of the Hanford interests. 
They d as soon have thought of my committing sui 
cide that night or you doing it. They swear there 
was nothing in his manner or bearing to suggest such 
a state of mind, and everything in the business he was 
engaged on to suggest that he expected to live out his 
days like any man." 

I thought very little of this ; it is common in cases 
of suicide for family, friends or business associates 
to talk in exactly this way, to believe it, and yet for 
the deep-seated moving cause to be easily discovered 
by an unprejudiced outsider. I said as much to Cum- 
mings. And while I spoke, we could hear a murmur 
of young voices from the inner room. 

"Damn it all/ the lawyer s irritation spurted out 
suddenly, "With a cub like that for a son, I d say 
the reason wasn t far to seek. Better keep your eye 
peeled round that young man, Boyne." 

"I will," I agreed, and he took his departure. I 
turned back into the private room. 

" Worth" I put it quietly "what say I go to Santa 
Ysobel with you? You could bring me back Monday 
morning." 

He agreed at once, silently, but thankfully I thought. 

Barbara, listening, proposed half timidly to go 
with us, staying the night at the Thornhill place, being 
brought back before work time Monday, and was ac 
cepted simply. So it came that when we had a blow 
out as the crown of a dozen other petty disasters 
which had delayed our progress toward Santa Ysobel, 
and found our spare tire flat, Barbara jumped down 



104 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

beside Worth where he stood dragging out the pump, 
and stopped him, suggesting that we save time by 
running the last few miles on the rim and getting 
fixed up at Capehart s garage. He climbed in with 
out a word, and drove on toward where Santa Ysobel 
lies at the head of its broad valley, surrounded by the 
apricot, peach and prune orchards that are its w r ealth. 

We came into the fringes of the town in the ob 
scurity of approaching night; a thick tulle fog had 
blown down on the north wind. The little foot-hill 
city was all drowned in it; tree-tops, roofs, the gable 
ends of houses, the illuminated dial of the town clock 
on the city hall, sticking up from the blur like things 
seen in a dream. As we headed for a garage with 
the name Capehart on it, we heard, soft, muffled, seven 
strokes from the tower. 

"Getting in late," Worth said absently. "Bill still 
keeps the old place?" 

"Yes. Just the same," Barbara said. "He married 
our Sarah, you know was that before you went away? 
Of course not," and added for my enlightenment, 
"Sarah Gibbs was father s housekeeper for years. She 
brought me up." 

We drove into the big, dimly lighted building; there 
came to us from its corner office what might have been 
described as a wide man, not especially imposing in 
breadth, but with a sort of loose- jointed effectiveness 
to his movements, and a pair of roving, yellowish- 
hazel eyes in his broad, good-humored face, mighty 
observing I d say, in spite of the lazy roll of his glance. 

"Been stepping on tacks, Mister?" he hailed, having 
looked at the tires before he took stock of the human 
freight. 



SANTA YSOBEL 105 

"Hello, Bill," Worth was singing out. "Give me 
another machine or get our spare filled and on 
whichever^ quickest. I want to make it to the house 
as soon as I can." 

"Lord, boy!" The wide man began wiping a big 
paw before offering it. "I m glad to see you." 

They shook hands. Worth repeated his request, 
but the garage man was already unbuckling the spare, 
going to the work with a brisk efficiency that contra 
dicted his appearance. 

Barbara sitting quietly beside me, we heard them 
talking at the back of the machine, as the jack quickly 
lifted us and Worth went to it with Capehart to unbolt 
the rim; a low-toned steady stream from the wide 
man, punctuated now and then by a word from Worth. 

"Yeh," Capehart grunted, prying off the tire. 
"Heard it m self bout noon or a little after. Yeh, 
Ward s Undertaking Parlors." 

"Undertaking parlors !" Worth echoed. Capehart, 
hammering on the spare, agreed. 

"Nobody in town that knowed what to do about 
it ; so the coroner took a-holt, I guess, and kinda fixed 
it to suit hisself. Did you phone ahead to see how 
things was out to the house?" 

"Tried to," Worth said. "The operator couldn t 
raise it." 

"Course not." Capehart was coupling on the air. 
"Your chink s off every Sunday has the whole day 
and the Devil only could guess where a Chinaman d 
go when he ain t working. Eddie Hughes ought to 
be on the job out there but would he?" 

"Father still kept Eddie?" 

"Yeh." The click of the jack and the car was 



106 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

lowering. Eddie s lasted longer than I looked to see 
him. Due to be fired any time this past year. Been 
chasing over crost the tracks. Got him a girl there, 
one of these cannery girls. Well, she s sort of mar 
ried, I guess, but that don t stop Eddie. F I see 
him, I ll tell him you want him." 

They came to the front of the machine; Worth 
thrust his hand in his pocket. Capehart checked him 
with, 

"Let it go on the bill." Then, as Worth swung 
into his seat, Barbara bent forward from behind my 
shoulder, the careless yellowish eyes that saw every 
thing got a fair view of her, and with a sort of sub 
dued crow, "Look who s here!" Capehart took hold 
of the upright to lean his square form in and say 
earnestly, "While you re in Santa Ysobel, don t for 
get that we got a spare room at our house." 

"Next time," Barbara raised her voice to top the 
hum of the engine. "I m only here for over night, 
now, and I m going down to Mrs. Thornhill s." 

We were out in the street once more, leaving the 
cannery district on our right, tucked away to itself 
across the railroad tracks, running on Main Street to 
City Hall Square, where we struck into Broad, fol 
lowed it out past the churches and to that length of 
it that held the fine homes in their beautiful grounds, 
getting close at last to where town melts again into 
orchards. The road between its rows of fernlike pep 
per trees was a wet gleam before us, all black and 
silver; the arc lights made big misty blurs without 
much illumination as we came to the Thornhill place. 
Worth got down and, though she told him he needn t 
bother, took her in to the gate. For a minute I 



SANTA YSOBEL 107 

waited, getting the bulk of the big frame house back 
among the trees, with a single light twinkling from an 
upper story window; then Worth flung into the car 
and we speeded on, skirting a long frontage of lawns, 
beautifully kept, pearly with the fog, set off with 
artfully grouped shrubbery 7 and winding walks. There 
was no barrier but a low stone coping; the drive to 
the Gilbert place went in on the side farthest from the 
Thornhill s. We ran in under a carriage porch. The 
house was black. 

"See if I can raise anybody," said Worth as he 
jumped to the ground. "Let you in, and then I ll run 
the roadster around to the garage." 

But the house was so tightly locked up that he had 
finally to break in through a pantry window. I was 
out in front when he made it, and saw the lights begin 
to flash up, the porch lamp flooding me with a sud 
den glare before he threw the door open. 

"Cold as a vault in here." 

He twisted his broad shoulders in a shudder, and 
I looked about me. It was a big entrance hall, with 
a wide stairway. There on the hat tree hung a man s 
light overcoat, a gray fedora hat ; a stick leaned below; 
When the master of the house went out of it this time, 
he hadn t needed these. Abruptly Worth turned and 
led the way into what I knew was the living room, 
with a big open fireplace in it. 

"Make yourself as comfortable as you can, Jerry. 
I ll get a blaze here in two shakes. I suppose you re 
hungry as a w^olf I am. This is a hell of a place I ve 
brought you into." 

"Forget it," I returned. "I can look after myself. 
I m used to rustling. Let me make that fire." 



io8 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"All right. * He gave up his place on the hearth 
to me, straightened himself and stood a minute, say 
ing, Til raid the kitchen. Chung s sure to have plenty 
of food cooked. He may not be back here before 
midnight." 

"Midnight?" I echoed. "Is that usual?" 

"Used to be. Chung s been with father a long time. 
Good chink. Always given his whole Sunday, and if 
he was on hand to get Monday s breakfast no ques 
tions." 

"Left last night, you think?" 

Worth shot me a glance of understanding. 

"Sometimes he would after cleaning up from din 
ner. But he wouldn t have heard the shot, if that s 
what you re driving at." 

He left me, going out through the hall. My fire 
burned. I thawed out the kinks the long, chill ride 
had put in me. Then Worth hailed; I went out and 
found him with a coffee-pot boiling on the gas range, 
a loaf and a cold roast set out. He had sand, that 
boy; in this wretched home-coming, his manner was 
neither stricken nor defiant. He seemed only a little 
graver than usual as he waited on me, hunting up 
stuff in places he knew of to put some variety into 
our supper. 

Where I sat I faced a back window, and my eye 
was caught by the appearance of a strange light, quite 
a little distance from the house, apparently in another 
building, but showing as a vague glow on the fog. 

"What s down there?" I asked. Worth answered 
without taking the trouble to lean forward and look, 

"The garage and the study." 

"Huh? The study s separate from the house?" 



SANTA YSOBEL 109 

I had been thinking of the suicide as a thing of this 
dwelling, an affair in some room within its walls. 
Of course Chung would not hear the shot. "Who s 
down there?" 

"Eddie Hughes has a room off the garage." 

"He s in it now." 

"How do you know?" he asked quickly. 

"There s a light or there was. It s gone now." 

"That wouldn t have been Eddie," Worth said. 
"His room s on the other side, toward the back street. 
What you saw was the light from these windows shin 
ing on the fog. Makes queer effects sometimes." 

I knew that wasn t it, but I didn t argue with him, 
only remarked, 

"I d like to have a look at that place, Worth, if 
you don t mind." 



CHAPTER X 

A SHADOW IN THE FOG 

AGAIN I saw that glow from the Gilbert garage, 
hanging on the fog; a luminosity of the fog; 
saw it disappear as the mist deepened and shrouded 
it. But Worth was answering me, and somehow his 
words seemed forced; 

"Sit tight a minute, Jerry. Have another cup of 
coffee while I telephone, then I ll put the roadster in 
and open up down there. I ll call you or you can 
see my lights." 

He left me. I heard him at the instrument in the 
hall get his number, talk to some one in a low voice, 
and then go out the front door; next thing was the 
sound of the motor, the glare of its lamps as it 
rounded into the driveway and started down back, 
illuminating everything. In the general glare thrown 
on the fog, the fainter light was invisible, but across 
a plot of kitchen garden I saw where it had been; a 
square, squat building of concrete, flat roofed, vining 
plants in boxes drooping over its cornice; the typical 
garage of such an establishment, but nearly double 
the usual size. The light had come from there, but 
how? In the short time that the lamps of the machine 
were showing it up to me, there seemed no windows 
on this side; only the double doors for the car s en 
trance closed now and a single door which was 

no 



A SHADOW IN THE FOG in 

crossed by two heavy, barricading planks nailed in the 
form of a great X. 

Worth ran the machine close up against the doors, 
jumped down, and I could see his tall form, blurred 
by the mist, moving about to slide them open. The 
lamps of the roadster made little showing now as he 
rolled it in. Then these were switched off and every 
thing down there was dark as a pocket. For a time 
I sat and waited for him to light up and call me, then 
started down. The fog was making that kind of 
dimness which has a curious, illusory character. I 
suppose I had gone half the distance of the garden 
walk, when, thrown up startlingly on the obscurity, 
I saw a square of white, and across that shining 
screen, moved the silhouette of a human head. The 
whole thing danced before my eyes for a bare second, 
then blackness. 

With Cummings queer hints in my mind, I started 
running across the garden toward it. About the first 
thing I did w r as to step into a cold frame, plunging 
my foot through the glass, all but going to my knees 
in it; and when I got up, swearing, I was turned 
around, ran into bushes, tripped over obstructions, 
and traveled, I think, in a circle. 

Then I began to go more cautiously. No use get 
ting excited. That was only Worth I had seen. And 
still I was unwilling to call, ask him to show a light. 
I groped along until my outstretched fingers came 
across the corner of a building, rough, stonelike the 
concrete garage and study. I felt along, seeing a bit 
now, and was soon passing my hands over the bar 
ricading planks of that door. 

I might have lit a match, but I preferred to find 



112 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

out what I could by feeling around, and that cau 
tiously. I discovered that the door had been broken 
in, the top panels shattered to kindling wood, the 
force of the assault having burst a hinge, so that the 
whole thing sagged drunkenly behind the heavy planks 
that propped it, while a strong bolt, quite useless, was 
still clamped into a socket which had been torn, screws 
and all, from the inside casing. 

Sliding my hands over the broken top panel I 
found that it had been covered on its inner side by a 
piece of canvas ; the screen on which that shadow had 
been thrown from within the room. There was no 
light there now ; there was no sound of motion within. 
The drip of the fog from the eaves was the only 
break in the stillness. 

"Worth?" I shouted, at last, and he answered me 
instantly, hallooing from behind me, and to one side 
of the house. I could hear him running and when he 
spoke it was close to my shoulder. 

"Where are you, Jerry?" 

"Where are you," I countered. "Or rather, where 
have you been?" 

"Getting a bar to pry off these boards." 

"A bar?" I echoed stupidly. 

"A crowbar from the shed. These planks will have 
to come off to let us in." 

"The devil you say !" I was exasperated. "There s 
some one in here now or was a minute back. Show 
me the other way in." 

I heard the ring of the steel bar as its end hit the 
hard graveled path. 

"Some one in there? Jerry, you re seeing things." 



A SHADOW IN THE FOG 113 

"Sure I am," I agreed drily. "But you get me to 
that other door quick!" 

"The only other door is locked. I tried it from the 
garage. You re dreaming." 

For reply, I ran up to the door and thrust my fist 
through the canvas, ripping it away from its clumsy 
tacking. 

"Who s in there?" I cried. "Answer me!" 

Dead silence; then a click as Worth snapped on a 
flood of light from his pocket torch, saying tolerantly, 
tiredly, 

"I told you there was no one. There couldn t be." 

"I tell you, Worth, there was. I saw the shadow 
on the square of that canvas. Give me the torch." 

I pushed the flashlight through the opening and 
played the light cone about the room in a quick survey ; 
then brought the circle of white glow to rest upon one 
of the side walls ; and my hand went down and back 
to grip ringers about the butt of my revolver. There 
was, as Worth had said, but one other door to this 
room; but more, there was apparently no other exit; 
no windows, no breaks in the walls. My circle of light 
was on this second door; and the very heart of that 
circle was a heavy steel bolt on the door, the bar of 
which was firmly shot into the socket on the frame. 
The only exit from that room, other than the door 
through which I now leaned with pistol raised, was 
locked bolted from the inside ! 

Worth was crowding his big frame into the opening 
beside me. 

"Keep back," I growled. "Some one s inside," and 
I sent the light shaft into corners to drive out the 
shadows, to cut in under the desk and chairs. Worth s 



H4 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

reply was a laugh, and his arm went by me to reach 
inside the door. Then, as his fingers found the button, 
a light sprang out from a lamp upon the center desk. 

"You re letting your nerves play the deuce with you, 
Jerry," he said lightly. "Make way for my crowbar 
and we ll get in out of the wet." 

I made no answer, but for a long moment more I 
searched that room with my eyes ; but it was the kind 
you see all over at a glance. Big, square, plain, it 
hadn t a window in it; the walls, lined with book 
shelves, floor to ceiling; a fireplace; a library table 
with drawers; a few chairs. No chance for a hide 
out. I glanced at the ceiling and confirmed the evi 
dence of my eyes. There was a skylight, and through 
it had come that curious glow that first attracted my 
attention to the place. 

Then I gave Worth room to wield his tools on the 
barred door, while I ran quickly back to the house, 
into the kitchen, and plumped down in the chair where 
I had sat before. The light showed on the fog, 
brightened and dimmed as the mist drifted past. 
There was no possibility of a mistake: some one had 
been in the study, had turned on the table lamp, had 
projected his shadow against the patched panel of the 
door, and had somehow left the room, one door bolted, 
the only other exit barred and nailed. 

I went back and rejoined Worth who was standing 
where a brownish stain on the rug marked a spot a 
little nearer the corner of the table than it was to the 
outer door. A curious place for a suicide to fall. 
Behind the table was the library chair in which Thomas 
Gilbert worked when at his desk; beside it a small 
cabinet with a humidor on its top and the open door 



A SHADOW IN THE FOG 115 

below revealing several decanters and bottles, whisky 
and wine glasses, a tray; between the desk and the 
fireplace were two other chairs, large and comfortable; 
but in front of the table between it and the door 
was barren floor. 

It is a fact that most men who shoot themselves do 
so while sitting; some lying in a bed; few standing. 
The psychology of this I must leave to others, but 
experience has taught me to question the suicide of 
one who has seemingly placed the muzzle of a revolver 
against him while on his feet. Thomas Gilbert had 
stood; had chosen to take his life as he was walking 
from door to desk, or from desk to door. 

"Worth," I said. "There was somebody in here 
just now." 

"Couldn t have been, Jerry," he answered absently; 
then added, his eyes on that stain, "I never could 
calculate what my father would do. But when I 
talked to him last night, right here in this room, he 
didn t seem to me a man ready to take his own life." 

"You quarreled?" 

"We always quarreled, whenever we met." 

"But this quarrel was more bitter than usual?" 

"The last quarrel would seem the bitterest, wouldn t 
it, Jerry?" he asked. Then, after a moment, "Poor 
Jim Edwards!" 

I caught my tongue to hold back the question. 
Worth went on, 

"When I phoned him just now, he hadn t heard a 
word about it. Seemed terribly upset." 

"Hadn t heard?" I echoed. "How was that?" 

"You know we saw him at Tait s last night. He 
took the Pacheco Pass road from San Francisco; 



n6 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

drove straight to his ranch without hitting Santa 
Ysobel." 

I wanted another look at that man Edwards. I 
was to have it. Worth went on absently, 

He ll be along presently to stay here while I m 
away Alonday. Told me it would be the first time 
he d put foot in the house for four years. As boys 
up in Sonoma county, he and father always disagreed, 
but sometime these last years there was a big split 
over something. They were barely on speaking terms 
and good old Jim took my news harder than 
as though I d been telling him the death of a near 
friend." 

"Works like that with us humans," I nodded. "Let 
some one die that you ve disagreed with, and you 
remember every row you ever had with them ; remem 
ber it and regret it which is foolish." 

"Which is foolish," Worth repeated, and seemed 
for the first time able to get away from the spot at 
which he had stopped. 

He went over to the empty, fireless hearth and stood 
there, his back to the room, elbows on the mantel 
propping his head, face bent, oblivious to anything that 
I might do. It oughtn t to be hard to find the way 
this place could be entered and left by a man solid 
enough to cast a shadow, with quick fingers to snap 
the light on and off. But when I made a painstaking 
examination of a corner grate with a flue too small 
for anything but a chimney swallow to go up and 
down, a ceiling solidly beamed and paneled, the glass 
that formed the skylight set in firmly as part of the 
roof, when I d turned up rugs and inspected an un 
broken floor, even tried the corners of book cases to 



A SHADOW IN THE FOG 117 

see if they masked a false entrance, I owned myself, 
for the moment, beaten there. 

"Give me your torch or go with me, Worth," I 
said. "I d like to take a scoot around outside." 

He didn t speak, only indicated the flashlight by a 
motion, where it lay on the shelf beside his hand. I 
took it, unbolted the door, and stepped into the garage. 

Everything all right here. My roadster; a much 
handsomer small machine beyond it; a bench, portable 
forge and drill made a repair shop of one corner, and 
as my light flashed over these, I checked and stared. 
Why had Worth gone to the shed hunting a crowbar 
to open the door? Here were tools that would have 
served as well. I put from me the hateful thought, 
and damned Cummings and his suspicions. The 
shadow didn t have to be Worth. Certainly he had 
not first lit that lamp, for I had seen it from the kitchen 
with him beside me. Some one other than Worth 
had been in there when Worth put up the roadster. 
I d find the man it really was. But even as I crossed 
to Eddie Hughes s door, something at the back of my 
head was saying to me that Worth could have been in 
that room that there was time for it to be, if he had 
taken the crowbar from the garage and not from the 
shed as he said he did. 

At this I took myself in hand. The lie would have 
been so clumsy a one that there was no way but to 
accept this statement for the truth ; and some one else 
had made that shadow on the canvas. 

I tried the chauffeur s door and found it locked ; 
called, shook it, and had set my shoulder against it to 
burst it in, when the rolling door on the street side 
moved a little, and a voice said. 



ii8 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"H-y-ah! What you doin there?" 

I turned and flashed my light on the six-inch crack 
of the sliding door. It gave me a strip of man, a 
long drab face at top, solid, meaty looking, yet some 
how slightly cadaverous, a half shut eye, a crooked 
mouth if I d met that mug in San Francisco, I d have 
labeled it "tough," and located it South of Market 
Street. 

Slowly, it seemed rather reluctantly, Eddie Hughes 
worked the six-inch crack wider by working himself 
through it. 

"What the hell do you want in my room for?" he 
demanded. The form of the words was truculent, but 
the words themselves slid in a sort of spiritless fashion 
from the corner of that crooked mouth of his, and he 
added in the next breath, "I ll open up for you, when 
I ve lit the blinks." 

There was a central lamp that made the whole place 
as bright as day. Eddie fumbled a key out of his 
pocket, threw the door of his room open, and stepped 
back to let me pass him. 

"Capehart tells me Worth s here," he said as we 
went in. 

"When?" I gave him a sharp look. He seemed 
not to notice it. 

"Just now. I came straight from there." 

He came straight from there? Did he supply an 
alibi so neatly because of that shadowy head on the 
door panel ? For a long minute we each took measure 
of the other, but Eddie s nerves were less reliable than 
mine; he spoke first. 

"Well?" he grunted, scarcely above his breath. 
And when I continued to stare silently at him, he 



A SHADOW IN THE FOG 119 

writhed a shoulder with, "What s doing? What 
d yuh want of me?" 

Still silently, I pulled out with my thumb through 
the armhole of my vest the police badge pinned to the 
suspender. His ill-colored face went a shade nearer 
the yellow white of tallow. 

"What for?" he asked huskily. "You haven t got 
nothin on me. It was suicide cor ner s jury says 
so. Lord ! It has to be, him lay in there, all hunched 
up on the floor, his gun so tight in his mitt that they 
had to pry the fingers off it!" 

"So you found the body?" 

He nodded and gulped. 

"I told all I knowed at the inquest," he said dog 
gedly. 

"Tell it again," I commanded. 

Standing there, working his hands together as 
though he held some small, accustomed tool that he 
was turning, shifting from foot to foot, with long 
breaks in his speech, the chauffeur finally put me into 
possession of what he knew or what he wished me 
to know. He had been out all night. That was usual 
with him Saturdays. Where ? Over around the can 
neries. Had friends that lived there. He got into 
this place about dawn, and went straight to bed. 

"Hold on, Hughes," I stopped him there. "You 
never w r ent to bed that night, or any other night 
until you d had a jolt from the bottle inside." 

He gave me a surly, half frightened glance, then 
said quickly, 

"Not a chance. Bolts on the doors, locks every 
where; all tight as a jail. Take it from me, he wasn t 
the kind you want to have a run-in with any time. 



120 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

Always just as cool as ice himself; try to make you 
believe he could tell what you were up to, clear across 
town. Hold it over you as if he was God almighty 
that stuck folks together and set em walkin around 
and thinkin things." 

He broke off and looked over his shoulder in the 
direction of the study. The walls were thick con 
crete; the door heavy. No sound of Worth s moving 
in there could be heard in this room. Apparently it 
was the old terror of his employer, or the new terror 
of the employer s death, that spoke when he said, 

"I got up this morning late with a throat like the 
back of a chimney. Lord! I never wanted a drink 
so bad in my life had to have one. The chink leaves 
my breakfast for me Sundays; but I knew I couldn t 
eat till I d had one. So I so I" 

It was as though some recollection fairly choked off 
his voice. I finished for him. 

"So you went in there " I pointed at the study 
door, "and found the body." 

"Naw ! How the hell could I ? I told you locked. 
I crawled up on the roof, though; huntin a way in, 
and I looked through the skylight. There he was. 
On the floor. His eyes weren t open much, but they 
was watchin me sort of sneerin . I come down off 
that roof like a bat outa hell, and scuttled over to Van- 
deman s where his chink was on the porch, I bellerin 
at him. I telephoned from there. For the bulls ; and 
the cor ner; and everybody. Gawd! I was all in." 

I caught one point in the tale. 

"So the way into the study is through the skylight, 
Hughes?" and he shook his head vaguely, fumbling 
his lips with a trembling hand as he replied, 



A SHADOW IN THE FOG 121 

Honest to God, Cap n, I don t know. I never 
tried. I gave just one look through it, and " He 
broke off with a shudder. 

"Get a ladder," I commanded. "I want to see that 
skylight." 

While he was gone on his errand to the shed, I in 
vestigated the outer walls of the study with the torch, 
hunting some break in their solidity. They were con 
crete; a hair-crack would have been visible in the 
electric glow; there was no break. Then, as he placed 
the ladder against the coping, I climbed to the roof 
and stepped across its firmness to the skylight. I 
looked down. 

Worth, kneeling on the hearth, was laying a fire in 
the corner grate. As he did not glance up, I knew he 
had not heard me. Evidently the study had been built 
to resist the disturbance of sound from without. 
That meant that the report of the revolver inside had 
not been heard by any one outside the walls. 

Directly below me was the library table and upon 
its top a blue desk blotter; a silver filagreed inkstand 
stood open; penholders, pencils, paper knife were on a 
tray beside it, one pen lying separate from the others 
with a ruler, upon the blotting pad ; books and a maga 
zine neatly in a pile. The walls, as I circled them with 
my eyes, were book-lined everywhere except for the 
grate and the two doors. 

Then I inspected the skylight, frame and glass, feel 
ing it over with my hands. There was no entrance 
here. Even should a pane of glass be removable- 
all seemingly solid and tight the frame between and 
the sash were of steel, and the panes were too small 
for the passage of a man. I crept back to the ladder 



122 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

as Worth was striking a match to light the pitch-pine 
kindling. 

"What about this Vandeman chink?" I asked of 
Hughes as I rejoined him at the foot of the ladder. 
"Does he hang around here much?" 

"Him and Chung visit back and forth a bit. I hear 
em talkin hy-lee hy-lo sometimes when I go by the 
kitchen." 

"Take me over there," I said. 

The fog was beginning to blow away in threads; 
moonlight somewhere back of it made a queer, gray, 
glimmering world around us. We circled the garden 
by the path, passing a sort of gardener s tool shed 
where Hughes left the ladder, and from which I judged 
Worth had brought the bar he pried the door planks 
off with, to find a gap in a hedge between this place 
and the next. 

There was a light in the rear of the house over 
there, and a well-trodden path leading from the hedge 
gap made what I took to be a servants highway. 

Vandeman s house proved to be, as nearly as one 
could see it in the darkness, a sprawling bungalow, 
with courts, pergolas and terraces bursting out on all 
sides of it. I could fairly see it of a fine afternoon, 
with its showy master sitting on one of the showy 
porches, serving afternoon tea in his best manner to 
the best people of Santa Ysobel. Just the husband 
for that doll-faced girl, if she only thought so. What 
could she have done with a young outlaw like Worth ? 

When I looked at the Chinaman in charge there, I 
gave up my idea of questioning him. Civilly enough, 
with a precise and educated usage of the English lan 
guage, he confirmed what Eddie Hughes had already 



A SHADOW IN THE FOG 123 

told me about the telephoning from that place this 
morning; and I went no further. I know the Chinese 
if anybody not Mongolian can say they know the 
race and I have also a suitable respect for the value 
of time. A week of steady questioning of Vande- 
man s yellow man would have brought me nowhere. 
He was that kind of a chink; grave, respectful, placid 
and impervious. 

On the \vay back I asked Eddie about the Thornhill 
servants at the house on the other side of Gilbert s, 
and found they kept but one, "a sort of old lady," 
Eddie called her, and I guessed easily at the decayed 
gentlewoman kind of person. It seemed that Mrs. 
Thornhill was a widow, and there wasn t much money 
now to keep up the handsome place. 

I left Eddie slipping eel-like through the big doors, 
and went into the study to find Worth sitting before 
the blazing hearth. He looked up as I entered to 
remark quietly, 

"Bobs said she d be over later, and I told her to 
come on down here." 



CHAPTER XI 

THE MISSING DIARY 

MY experience as a detective has convinced me 
that the evident is usually true ; that in a great 
majority of cases crime leaves a straight trail, and am 
biguities are more often due to the inability of the 
trailer than to the cunning of the trailed. Such 
reputation as I have established is due to acceptance of 
and earnest adherence to the obvious. 

In this affair of Thomas Gilbert s death, everything 
so far pointed one way. The body had been found 
in a bolted room, revolver in hand; on the wall over 
the mantel hung the empty holster ; Worth assured me 
the gun was kept always loaded; and there might be 
motive enough for suicide in the quarrel last night 
between father and son. 

Because of that flitting shadow I had seen, I knew 
this place was not impervious. Some one person, at 
least, could enter and leave the room easily, quickly, 
while its doors were locked. But that might be 
Hughes or even Worth with some reason for doing 
so not willingly explained, and some means not readily 
seen. It probably had nothing to do with Thomas 
Gilbert s sudden death, could not offset in my mind the 
conviction of Thomas Gilbert s stiffened fingers about 
the pistol s butt. That I made a second thorough in 
vestigation of the study interior was not because I 
questioned the manner of the death. 

124 



THE MISSING DIARY 125 

I began taking down books from the shelves at 
regular intervals, sounding the thick dead-wall, in 
search of a secreted entrance. I came on a row of 
volumes whose red morocco backs carried nothing but 
dates. 

"Account books?" I asked. 

Worth turned his head to look, and the bleakest 
thing that could be called a smile twisted his lips a 
little, as he said, 

"My father s diaries." 

"Quite a lot of them." 

"Yes. He d kept diaries for thirty years." 

"But he seems to have dropped the habit. There is 
no 1920 book." 

"Oh, yes there is," very definitely. "He never gave 
up setting down the sins of his family and neighbors 
while his eyes had sight to see them, and his hand the 
cunning to write." He spoke with extraordinary 
bitterness, finishing, "He would have had it on the 
desk there. The current book was always kept con 
venient to his hand." 

An idea occurred to me. 

"Worth," I asked, "did you see that 1920 volume 
when you were here last night?" 

He looked a little startled, and I prompted, 

"Were you too excited to have noticed a detail like 
that?" 

"I wasn t excited; not in the sense of being con 
fused," he spoke slowly. "The book was there; he d 
been writing in it. I remember looking at it and think 
ing that as soon as I was gone, he d sit down in his 
chair and put every damn word of our row into it. 
That was his way. The seamy side of Santa Ysobel 



126 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

life s recorded in those books. I always understood 
they amounted to a pack of neighborhood dynamite." 

"Got to find that last book," I said. 

He nodded listlessly. I went to it, giving that room 
such a searching as would have turned out a bent pin, 
had one been mislaid in it. I even took down from the 
shelves books of similar size to see if the lost volume 
had been slipped into a camouflaging cover all to no 
good. It wasn t there. And when I had finished I 
was positive of two things; the study had no other 
entrance than the apparent ones, and the diary of 1920 
had been removed from the room since Worth saw it 
there the night before. I reached for one of the other 
volumes. Worth spoke again in a sort of dragging 
voice, 

"What do you want to look at them for, Jerry?" 

"It s not idle curiosity," I told him, a bit pricked. 

"I know it s not that." The old, affectionate tone 
went right to my heart. "But if you re thinking you ll 
find in them any explanation of my father s taking his 
own life, I m here to tell you you re mistaken. Plenty 
there, no doubt, to have driven a tender hearted man 
off the earth. ... He was different." Eyeing the 
book in my hand, the boy blurted with sudden heat, 
"Those damn diaries have been wife and child and 
meat and drink to him. They were his reason for 
living not dying!" 

"Start me right in regard to your father, Worth," 
I urged anxiously. "It s important." 

The boy gave me his shoulder and continued to 
stare down into the fire, as he said at last, slowly, 

"I would rather leave him alone, Jerry." 

I knew it would be useless to insist. Never then or 



THE MISSING DIARY 127 

thereafter did I hear him say more of his father s 
character. At that, he could hardly have told more 
in an hour s talk. 

At random, I took the volume that covered the year 
in which, as I remembered, Thomas Gilbert s wife had 
secured her divorce from him. Neatly and carefully 
written in a script as readable as type, the books, if I 
am a judge, had literary style. They were much more 
than mere diaries. True, each entry began with a note 
of the day s weather, and certain small records of the 
writer s personal affairs ; but these went oddly enough 
with what followed; a biting analysis of the inner life, 
the estimated intentions and emotions, of the beings 
nearest to him. It was inhuman stuff. But Worth 
was right; there was no soil for suicide in this matter 
written by a hand guided by a harsh, censorious mind ; 
too much egotism here to willingly give over the role 
of conscience for his friends. Friends ? could a man 
have friends who regarded humanity through such un 
kindly, wide open, all-seeing eyes? 

Worth, seated across from me on the other side of 
the fire, stared straight into the leaping blaze; but I 
doubted if that was what he saw. On his face was 
the look which I had come to know, of the dignified 
householder who had gone in and shut the door on 
whatever of dismay and confusion might be in his 
private affairs. I began to read his father s version 
of the separation from his mother, with its ironic ref 
erences to her most intimate friend. 

"Marion would like to see Laura Bowman ship Tony 
and marry Jim Edwards. I swear the modern woman 
has played bridge so long that her idea of the most 
serious obligation in life the marriage vow is, 



128 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

Never mind. If you don t like the hand you have got, 
shuffle, cut, and deal again ! 

I dropped the book to my knee and looked over at 
Worth, asking, 

"This Mrs. Dr. Bowman that we met last night at 
Tait s she was a special friend of your mother s?" 

"They were like sisters in more than one way." I 
knew without his telling it that he alluded to their 
common misfortune of being both unhappily married. 
His mother, a woman of more force than the other, 
had gained her freedom. 

"Femiiw Priores." I came on an entry standing 
oddly alone. "Marion is to secure the divorce at my 
suggestion. I have demanded that our son share his 
time between us." 

Again I let the book down on my knee and looked 
across at the silent fellow there. And I had heard him 
compassionate Barbara Wallace for having painful 
memories of her childhood! I believe he was at that 
moment more at peace with his father than he had ever 
been in his life and that he grieved that this was so. 
I knew, too, that the forgiveness and forgetting would 
not extend to these pitiless records. Without disturb 
ing him, I laid the book I held down and scouted 
forward for things more recent. 

"Laura Bowman" through one entry after another 
Gilbert kicked that poor woman s name like a football. 
Very fine and righteous and high-minded in what he 
said, but writing it out in full and calling her painful 
difficulties the writhing of a sensitive, high-strung 
woman, mismated with a tyrant an example notably 
stupid and unoriginal, of the eternal matrimonial tri 
angle. Bowman evidently kept his sympathy, so far 



THE MISSING DIARY 129 

as such a nature can be said to entertain that gentle 
emotion. 

I ran through other volumes, merciless recitals, now 
and again, of the shortcomings of his associates or 
servants ; a cold blooded misrepresentation of his son ; 
a sneer for the affair with Ina Thornhill, with the dic 
tum, sound enough no doubt, that the girl herself did 
the courting, and that she had no conscience "The 
extreme society type of parasite," he put it. And then 
the account of his break with Edwards. 

Dr. Bowman, it seems, had come to Gilbert in con 
fidence for help, saying that his wife had left his house 
in the small hours the previous night, nothing but an 
evening wrap pulled over her night wear, and that he 
guessed where she could be found, since she hadn t 
gone to her mother s. He asked Gilbert to be his 
ambassador with messages of pardon. Didn t want 
to go himself, because that would mean a row, and he 
was determined, if possible, to keep the thing private, 
giving a generous reason: that he wasn t willing to 
disgrace the woman. All of which, after he d written 
it down, the diarist discredited with his brief comment 
to the effect that Tony Bowman shunned publicity 
because scandal of the sort would hurt his practice, 
and his pride as well, and that he didn t go out to 
Jim Edwards s ranch because, under these circum 
stances, he would be afraid of Jim. 

Thomas Gilbert did the doctor s errand for him. 
The entry concerning it occupied the next day. I read 
between the lines how much he enjoyed his position 
of god from the machine, swooping down on the two 
he found out there, estimating their situation and 
behavior in his usual hair-splitting fashion, sitting as 



130 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

a court of last appeal. It was of no use for Edwards 
to explain to him that Laura Bowman was practically 
crazy when she walked out of her husband s house as 
the culmination of a miserable scene the sort that 
had been more and more frequent there of late 
carrying black-and-blue marks where he had grabbed 
and shaken her. The statement that it was by mere 
chance she encountered Jim seemed to have made Gil 
bert smile, and Jim s taking of her out to the ranch, 
the assertion that it was the only thing to do, that she 
was sick and delirious, had inspired Gilbert to say to 
him, quite neatly, "You weren t delirious, I take it 
*iot more than usual." 

Then he demanded that Laura go with him, at once, 
back to her husband, or out to her mother s. She 
considered the matter and chose to go back to Bow 
man, saying bitterly that her mother made the match 
in the first place, and stood always against her daugh 
ter and with her son-in-law whatever he did. Plainly 
it took all of Laura s persuasions to prevent actual 
blows between Gilbert and Edwards. Also, she would 
only promise to go back and live under Bowman s 
roof, but not as his wife and the whole situation was 
much aggravated. 

I followed Mr. Thomas Gilbert s observation of this 
affair : his amused understanding of how much Jim 
Edwards and Laura hated him; his private contempt 
for Bowman, to whom he continued to give counte 
nance and moral support ; his setting down of the quar 
rels, intimate, disastrous, between Bowman and his 
wife, as the doctor retailed them to him, the woman 
dragging herself on her knees to beg for her freedom, 
and his callous refusals; backed by threat of the wide 



THE MISSING DIARY 131 

publicity of a -scandalous divorce suit, with Thomas 
Gilbert as main witness. I turned to Worth and asked, 

"When will Edwards be here?" 

"Any minute now/ Worth looked at me queerly, 
but I went on, 

"You said he phoned from the ranch. Did he an 
swer you in person from out there?" 

"That s what I told you, Jerry." 

My searching gaze made nothing of the boy s im 
passive face ; I plunged again into the diaries, running 
down a page, getting the heading of a sentence, not 
delaying to go further unless I struck something which 
seemed to me important, and each minute thinking of 
the strangeness of a man like this killing himself. 
It was in the 1916 volume, that I made a discovery 
which surprised an exclamation from me. 

"\Vhat would you call this, Worth? Your father s 
way of making corrections?" 

"Corrections?" W r orth spoke without looking 
around. "My father never made corrections in any 
thing." It was said without animus a simple state 
ment of fact. 

"But look here." I held toward him the book. 
There were three leaves gone ; that meant six pages, 
and the entries covered May 31 and June i. I had 
verified that before I spoke to him, noticing that the 
statement of the weather for May 31 remained at the 
foot of the last page left, while a run-over on the 
page beyond the missing ones had been marked out. 
It had nothing to do with the weather. As nearly 
as I could make out with the reading glass I held over 
it, fhe words were, "take the woman for no other than 
she appears." 



132 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Worth," I urged, "give me your attention for a 
minute here. You say your father did not make cor 
rections, but one of the diaries is cut. The records 
of two days are gone. Were those pages stolen?" 

"How should I know?" said Worth, and added, 
helpfully, "Pity they didn t steal the whole lot. That 
would have been a relief." 

There were voices and the sound of steps outside. 
I shoved the diary back into its place on the shelf, and 
turned to see Barbara at the broken door with Jim 
Edwards. She came in, her clear eyes a little wide, 
but the whole young personality of her quite composed. 
Edwards halted at the door, a haggard eye roving 
over the room, until it encountered the blood-stain on 
the rug, when it sheered abruptly, and fixed itself on 
Worth, who crossed to shake hands, with a quiet, 

"Come in, won t you, Jim? Or would you rather 
go up to the house?" 

Keenly I watched the man as he stood there strug 
gling for words. There was color on his thin cheeks, 
high under the dark w eyes ; it made him look wild. The 
chill of the drive, or pure nervousness, had him shak 
ing. 

"Thank you the house, I think," he said rather 
incoherently. Yet he lingered. "Barbara s been tell 
ing me," he said in that deep voice of his with the air 
of one who utters at random. "Worth, had you 
thought that it might have been happening down here, 
right at the time we all sajt at Tait s together?" 

He was in a condition to spill anything. A mo 
ment more and we should have heard what it was that 
had him in such .a grip of horror. But as I glanced at 
Worth, I saw him reply to the older man s question 



THE MISSING DIARY 133 

with a very slight but very perceptible shake of the head. 
It had nothing to do with what had been asked him ; 
to any eye it said more plainly than words, "Don t 
talk ; pull yourself together." I whirled to see how 
Edwards responded to this, and found our group had 
a new member. In the door stood a decent looking, 
round faced Chinaman. Edwards had drawn a little 
inside the threshold for him, but very little, and waited, 
still shaken, perairbed, hat in hand, apparently ready 
to leave as soon as the Oriental got out of his way. 

"Hello," the yellow man saluted us. 

"Hello, Chung," Worth rejoined, and added, "Looks 
good to see you again." 

I was relieved to hear that. It showed me that the 
cook, anyhow, had not seen Worth last night in Santa 
Ysobel. 

"Just now I hea bout Boss." Chung s eye went 
straight to the stain on the rug, exactly as Edwards 
had done, but it stopped there, and his Oriental im- 
passiveness was unmoved. "Too bad," he concluded, 
thrust the fingers of one hand up the sleeve of the 
other* and waited. 

"Where you been all day?" I said quickly. 

"My cousin ranch." 

"His cousin s got a truck farm over by Medlow 
or used to have," Worth supplied, and Chung looked 
to him, instantly. 

"You sabbee," he said hopefully. "I go iss mo ning 
all same any day not find out bout Boss. Too 
bad. Too velly much bad." A pause, then, looking 
around at the four of us, "I get dinner?" 

"We ve all had something to eat, Chung," Worth 
said. "You go now fix room. Make bed. To-night, 



134 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

I stay; Mr. Boyne here stay; Mr. Edwards stay. Fix 
three rooms. Good fire." 

"All ite," the chink would have ducked out then, 
Jim Edwards after him, but I stopped the proceedings 
with, 

"Hold on a minute while we re all together tell 
us about that visitor Mr. Gilbert had last night." I 
was throwing a rock in the brush-pile in the chance of 
scaring out a rabbit. I was shooting the question at 
Chung, but my eye was on Edwards. Pie glared back 
at me for a moment, then couldn t stand the strain 
and looked away. At last the Chinaman spoke. 

"Not see um. I go fix bed now/ 

"Hold on," again I stopped him. "Worth, tell him 
those beds can wait. Tell him it s all right to answer 
my questions." 

" S all ite?" Chung studied us in turn. I was 
keeping an inconspicious eye on Edwards as I re 
assured him. " S all ite," he repeated with a falling 
inflection this time, and finished placidly, "You want 
know bout lady?" 

"What s all this?" Edwards spoke low. 

"About a lady who came to see Mr. Gilbert last 
night," I explained shortly; then, "Who was she, 
Chung?" 

"Not see um good." The Chinaman shook his 
head gravely. 

"Did she come here to the study?" I asked. He 
nodded. Worth moved impatiently, and the China 
man caught it. He fixed his eyes on Worth. I 
stepped between them. "Chung," I said sharply. 
"You knew the lady. Who was she?" 



THE MISSING DIARY 135 

"Not see um good," he repeated, plainly reluctant. 
"She hold hand by face cly, I think." 

"Good God!" Edwards broke out startlingly. "If 
we re going to hear an account of all the women that 
Tom lectured and made cry leave me out of it." 

"One woman will do, for this time," I said to him 
drily, "if it s the right one," and he subsided, turning 
away. But he did not go. With burning eyes, he 
stood and listened while I cross-examined the unwill 
ing Chung and got apparently a straight story showing 
that some woman had come to the side door of his 
master s house shortly after dinner Saturday night, 
walked to the study with that master, weeping, and 
that her voice when he heard it, sounded like that of 
some one he knew. I tried every way in the world to 
get him to be specific about this voice; did it sound 
like that of a young lady? an old lady? did he think 
it was some one he knew well, or only a little? had he 
been hearing it much lately? All the usual tactics; 
but Chung s placid obstinacy was proof against them. 
He kept shaking his head and saying over and over, 

"No hear um good," until Barbara, standing watch 
fully by, said, 

"Chung, you think that lady talk like this?" 

As she spoke, after the first word, a change had 
come into her voice; it was lighter, higher, with a 
something in its character faintly reminiscent to my 
ear. And Chung bobbed his head quickly, nodding 
assent. In her mimicry he had recognized the tones 
of the visitor. I glanced at Edwards : he looked 
positively relieved. 

"I ll go to the house, Worth," he said with more 



136 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

composure in his tone than I would have thought a 
few moments ago he could in any way summon. 
"You ll find me there." And he followed the China 
man up the moonlit path. 



CHAPTER XII 

A MURDER 

1 STOOD at the door and watched until I saw first 
Chung s head come into the light on the kitchen 
porch, then Jim Edwards s black poll follow it. I 
waited until both had gone into the house and the 
door was shut, before I went back to Barbara and 
Worth. They were speaking together in low tones 
over at the hearth. The three of us were alone ; and 
the blood-stain on the rug, out of sight there in the 
shadow beyond the table, would seem to cry out as a 
fourth. 

"Barbara/ I broke in across their talk, "who was 
the woman who came here to this place last night?" 

She didn t answer me. Instead, it was Worth who 
spoke. 

"Better come here and listen to what Bobs has been 
saying to me, Jerry, before you ask any questions." 

I crossed and stood between the two young people. 

"Well," I grunted; and though Barbara s face was 
white, her eyes big and black, she answered me bravely, 

"Mr. Gilbert did not kill himself. Worth doesn t 
think so, either." 

"What!" It was jolted out of me. After a mo 
ment s thought, I finished, "Then I ve got to know 
who the woman was that visited this room last night." 

For a long while she made no reply, studying 
Worth s profile as he stared steadily into the fire. 



138 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

No signal passed between them, but finally she came 
to her decision and said, 

"Mr. Boyne, ask Worth what he thinks I ought to 
say to that." 

Instead, "Who was it, Worth?" I snapped, speaking 
to the back of the young man s head. The red came 
up into the girl s face, and her eyes flashed ; but Worth 
merely shrugged averted shoulders. 

"You can search me," he said, and left it there. 

I looked from one to the other of these young 
people : Worth, whom I loved as I might have my own 
son had I been so fortunate as to possess one; this 
girl who had made a place of warmth for herself in 
my heart in less than a day, whose loyalty to my boy 
I was certain I might count on. How different this 
affair must look to them from the face it wore to me r 
an old police detective, who had bulled through many 
inquiries like this, the corpse itself, perhaps, lying in 
the back of the room, instead of the blood-stain we 
had there on the rug; what was practically the Third 
Degree being applied to relatives and friends; with 
the squalid prospect of a court trial ahead of us all. 
If they d seen as much of this sort of thing as I had, 
they wouldn t be holding me up now, tying my hands 
that were so willing to help, by this fine-spun, over 
strained notion of shielding a woman s name. 

"Barbara/ I began I knew an appeal to the un~ 
accountable Worth would get me nowhere "the facts 
we ve got to deal with here are a possible murder, 
with this lad the last person known by us, of course 
to have seen his father alive. We know, too, that 
they quarreled bitterly. We know all this. Outside 
people, men who are interested, and more or less 



A MURDER 139 

hostile, were aware that Worth needed money needs 
it yet, for that matter a large sum. I suppose it 
is a question of time when it will be known that Worth 
came here last night; and when it is known, do you 
realize what it will mean?" 

Worth had sat through this speech without the 
quiver of a muscle, and no word came from him as I 
paused for a reply. Little Barbara, big eyes boring 
into me as though to read all that was in the back of 
my mind, nodded gravely but did not speak. I crossed 
to the shelves and took down the diary whose leather 
back bore the date of 1916. As I opened it, finding 
the place where its pages had been removed, I con 
tinued, 

"You and I know we three here know " I in 
cluded Worth in my statement "that the crime was 
neither suicide nor patricide; but it is likely we must 
have proof of that fact. Unless we find the mur 
derer" 

"But the motive there would have to be motive." 

Barbara struck right at the core of the thing. She 
didn t check at the mere material facts of how a 
murder could have been done, who might have had 
opportunity. The fundamental question of why it 
should have been was her immediate interest. 

"I believe I ve the motive here," I said and thrust 
the mutilated volume into her hand. "Some one stole 
these leaves out of Mr. Gilbert s diary. The books 
are filled with intimate details of the affairs of people 
things which people prefer should not be known 
names, details and dates written out completely. It s 
likely murder was done last night to get possession 
of those pages." 



140 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

She went to the desk and glanced over the book; 
not the minute examination with the reading glass 
which I had given it; that mere flirt of a glance which, 
when I had first noticed it the night before at Tait s, 
skimming across that description of Clayte, had seemed 
so inadequate. Then she turned to me. 

"Mr. Gilbert cut these out himself," she pronounced. 

That brought Worth s head up and his face around 
to stare at her. 

"You say my father removed something he had 
written?" he asked. Barbara nodded. "He never 
changed a decision and those books were his decis 
ions." 

"Then this wasn t a correction, but he cut it out. 
Can t you see, Mr. Boyne? Those leaves were re 
moved by a man who respected the book and was as 
careful in his mutilation of it as he was in its making. 
It is precisely written I m referring to workman 
ship, not its literary quality carefully margined, 
evenly indented on the paragraph beginnings. And 
so, in this removal of three leaves, the cutting was 
done with a sharp knife drawn along the edge of a 
ruler " I picked up from where they lay on the 
blotting pad, a small pearl-handled knife, its sharp 
blade open, and the ruler I had seen when looking 
down from the skylight, and placed them before her. 
She nodded and continued, 

"There is a bit of margin left so no other leaves can 
be loosened by this removal. The marking out of the 
run-over has been neatly ruled, done so recently that 
the ink is not yet black done with that ink in the 
stand. It was blotted with this." She lifted a hand- 
blotter to show me the print of a line of ink. There 



A MURDER 141 

were other markings on the face of the soft paper, 
and I took it eagerly. Barbara smiled. 

"You will get little from that," she said. I had 
not even seen her give it attention. " Scattered words 
and parts of words, blotted frequently as they were 
written. Perhaps, with care, we might learn some 
thing, but we can turn more easily to the last pages 
of his diary and " 

"There are no last pages," I interrupted. "The 
1920 book is missing." 

"Gone stolen?" she .exclaimed. It brought a smile 
to my face. For the first time in my experience of 
this pretty, little bunch of brains, she had hazarded 
a guess. 

"Gone," I admitted coolly a bit sarcastically. 
"I ve no reason to say stolen." 

"But yes, you have you have, Mr. Boyne! If it 
is gone, it was stolen. Is it gone are you sure it is 
gone?" Eagerly her eyes were searching desk, cab 
inet, the shelf where the other diaries made their long 
row. I satisfied her on that score. 

"I have searched the study thoroughly; it is not in 
this room." 

"Was here last night," Worth cut in. "I saw it on 
the desk." 

"And was stolen last night," Barbara reaffirmed, 
quickly. "These books are too big to be slipped into 
a pocket, so we can t believe it was left upon Mr. 
Gilbert s person; and he wouldn t lend it wouldn t 
willingly let it go from his possession. So it was 
stolen; and the man who stole it killed him." She 
shuddered. 

That was going too swift for me to follow, but I 



142 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

saw on Worth Gilbert s face his acceptance of it. 
Either conviction of Barbara s infallibility, or some 
knowledge locked up inside his own chest, made him 
certain the diary had been stolen, and the thief was 
his father s murderer. In a flash, I remembered his 
words, "putting every damn word of our row into 
it," and I shot straight at him, 

"Did you take that book, Worth?" 

He only shook his head and answered, 

"You heard what Bobs said, Jerry." 

If he took the book he killed his father; that was 
Barbara s inference, Worth s acceptance. I threw 
back my shoulders to cast off the suspicion, then 
reached across to place my fingers under the girl s 
hand and pull from it the only record of that last 
written page, the blotter. 

"Will you read me that?" I asked her. "Every 
word and part of a word every letter?" 

Her eyes smiled into mine with a reassurance that 
was like balm. Worth rose and found her a hand 
glass on the mantel, passing it to her, and with this 
to reverse the scrawlings, she read and I wrote down 
in my memorandum book two complete words, two 
broken words and five single letters picked from over 
lying marks that were too confused to be decipherable 
Though the three of us struggled with them, they held 
no meaning. 

Worth s interest quickly ceased. 

"I ll join Jim Edwards in the house," he said, but 
I stopped him. 

"One minute, Worth. There was a woman visitor 
here last night. It would seem she carried away with 
her the diary of 1920 and three leaves from the book 



A MURDER 143 

of 1916. I want you you and Barbara to tell me 
what you know that happened here in Santa Ysobel 
on the dates of the missing pages, May 31 and June 

i, 1916." 

Barbara accepted the task, turning that wonderful 
cinematograph memory back, and murmured, 

"I never tried recollecting on just a bare date this 
way, but " then glanced around at me and finished 
"nothing happened to me in Santa Ysobel then, 
because I wasn t in Santa Ysobel. I was in San 
Francisco and " 

"And I was in Flanders, so that lets me out/ Worth 
broke in brusquely. Til go into the house." 

"Wait, Worth." I placed a hand on his shoulder. 
"Go on, Barbara; you had thought of something." 

"Yes. Father died in January of that year, and in 
March I had to vacate the house. It had been sold, 
and they wanted to fix it over. I left Santa Ysobel 
on the eighteenth of March, but they didn t get into 
the house until June first." 

Again Worth interrupted. 

"Which jogs my memory for an unexciting detail." 
He smiled enigmatically. "I was jilted June first." 

"In Flanders ?" How many times had this lad been 
jilted? 

"No. Right here. I wasn t here of course, but the 
letter which did the trick was written here, and bore 
that date June one, 1916." 

"How do you get the date so pat?" 

"It was handed me by the mail orderly I was on 
the Verdun sector then on the morning of the Fourth 
of July. Remember the date the letter was written 
because of the quick time it made. Most of our mail 



144 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

took from six weeks to eternity. What are you smil 
ing at, Bobs?" 

"Just a little you don t mind, do you? at your 
saying you remember Ina s letter by the quick time it 
made in reaching you." 

"Who bought your house, Barbara?" I asked her. 

"Dr. Bowman or rather Mrs. Bowman s uncle 
bought it and gave it to her." 

"And they went in on the first of June, 1916?" 
I was all excitement, turning the pages of the diary 
to get to certain points I remembered. "What can 
either one of you tell me about the state of affairs 
at that time between Dr. Bowman and his wife and 
that man who was just in here Jim Edwards?" 

Worth turned a hostile back; Barbara seemed to 
shrink in her chair. I hated like a whipping to pull 
this sort of stuff on them, but I knew that Barbara s 
knowledge of Worth s danger would reconcile her to 
whatever painful thing must be done, and I had to 
know who was that visitor of last night. 

"Is that that stuff in those damnable books?" I 
saw the hunch of Worth s broad shoulders. 

"Some of it is some of it has been cut out," I 
replied. 

"And you connect Jim Edwards with this crime?" 

"I don t connect him he connects himself by 
them, and by his manner." 

"Burn them !" He faced me, came over and reached 
for the book. "Dump the whole rotten mess into the 
fire, Jerry, and be done with it." 

"Easy said, but that would sure be a short cut to 
trouble. Tell me, I ve got to know, if you think this 



A MURDER 145 

man Edwards under great provocation capable of 
well, of killing a fellow creature." 

"Jerry," Worth took the book out of my hand and 
laid.it on the table, "what you want to do is to forget 
this dirt that you ve been reading, and go at this 
thing without prejudice. If you open any trails and 
they lead in my direction, don t be afraid to follow 
them. This thing of trying to find a criminal in some 
one that my father has already deeply injured some 
one that he s made life a hell for so that suspicion 
needn t be directed to me, makes me sick. If I d 
allow you to do it, I d be yellow clear through." 

That was about the longest speech I d heard Worth 
Gilbert make since his return from France. And he 
meant every word of it, too; but it didn t suit me. 
This "Hew to the line" stuff is all right until the 
chips begin whacking the head of your friend. In 
this case there wasn t a doubt in my mind that when 
a breath of suspicion got out that Thomas Gilbert had 
not killed himself, that minute would see the first 
finger point at Thomas Gilbert s son as the murderer. 
So I grumbled, 

"Just the same, Edwards has something on his mind 
about last night." 

"He has and it s pretty nearly tearing him to 
pieces," Worth admitted, but would go no further. 

"He was here last night, I m sure and Mrs. Bow 
man was with him," I ventured. 

Barbara, who had been sitting through this her 
eyes on Worth, turned from him to me and pro 
nounced, gently, 

"Yes, he was here, and Laura was with him." 



146 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Bobs!" Worth spoke so sternly that she glanced 
up startled. "I ll not stand for you throwing sus 
picion on Jim." 

"Did I do that?" her lip trembled. Worth s eyes 
were on the fire. 

"Don t quarrel with the girl," I remonstrated. Bar 
bara had told me the visitor; I covered my elation 
with, "She s only looking out for your safety." 

"I can look out for myself," curtly. He turned 
hard eyes on us. It made me feel put away from 
him, chucked out from his friendship. "And I never 
quarreled with anybody in my life. Sometimes " 
he turned from one to the other of us, speaking slowly, 
"Sometimes I seem to antagonize people, for no 
reason that I can see; and sometimes I fight; but I 
never quarrel." 

"No offense intended or taken," I assured him 
hastily. My heart was full of his danger, and I told 
myself that it was his misery spoke, and not the true 
Worth Gilbert. But a very pale and subdued Bar 
bara said tremulously, 

"I guess I d better go home now," suggesting, after 
the very slightest pause, "Mr. Hoyne can take me." 

"Don t, Bobsie." Worth s voice was gentle again, 
but absent. It sounded as though he had already for 
gotten both of us, and our- possible cause of offense. 
"Go to the house with Jerry. I ll bar the door and 
follow." 

"Can t I help with that?" I offered. 

"No. Eddie will give me a hand if I need it. Go 
on. I ll be with you in a minute." 



CHAPTER XIII 

DR. BOWMAN 

BUT it was considerably more than a minute be 
fore Worth followed us to the house. We 
walked slowly, talking; when I looked back from the 
kitchen porch, Worth had already come outside, and I 
thought Eddie Hughes was with him, though I heard 
no voices and couldn t be sure on account of the 
shrubbery between. 

Getting into the house we found that Chung had 
the downstairs all opened up through, lights going, 
heat turned on from the basement furnace ; everywhere 
that tended, homelike appearance a competent servant 
gives a place. On the hall table as we passed, I noticed 
a doctorish top coat, with a primly folded muffler laid 
across it. 

"Dr. Bowman is here," Barbara said hardly above 
her breath. 

We listened; no sound of voices from the living 
room ; then I got the tramp of feet that moved back 
and forth in there. We opened the door, and there 
were the two men ; a queer proposition ! 

Bowman had taken a chair pretty well in the middle 
of the room. It was Jim Edwards whose feet I had 
heard as he roamed about. No word was going be 
tween them; apparently they hadn t spoken to each 
other at all; the looks that met or avoided were those 

M7 



148 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

strange looks of persons who live in lengthened and 
what might be termed intimate hostility. 

"Ah Boyne isn t it?" Bowman greeted me; I 
thought our coming relieved the situation. He shook 
hands, then turned to Barbara with, "Mrs. Thornhill 
said you were here; I told her I would bring you back 
with me." 

I rather wondered not to hear him insist on being 
taken at once to the study, but his next words gave the 
reason. He d reached Santa Ysobel too late for the 
inquest itself, but not too late to make what he in 
formed us was a thorough investigation of everything 
it treated of. 

Barbara and I found places on the davenport; Ed 
wards prowled up and down the other end of the room, 
openly in torment. Those stormy black eyes of his 
were seldom off Bowman, while the doctor s gray, 
heavy-lidded gaze never got beyond the toes of the rest 
less man s moving boots. He had begun a grumbling 
tale of the coroner s incompetence and neglect to re 
open the inquest when he, the family physician, 
arrived, as though that were important, when Worth 
came in. 

Instantly the doctor was on his feet, had paced up 
to th new master of the house, and began pumping 
his arm in a long handshake, while he passed out those 
platitudes of condolence a man of his sort deals in at 
such a time. The stuff I d been reading in those 
diaries had told me what was the root and branch of 
his friendship with the dead man; it made the hair at 
the back of my neck lift to hear him boasting of it in 
Jim Edwards presence, and know what I knew. 
"And, my dear boy," he finished, "they tell me you ve 



DR. BOWMAN 149 

not been to view the body yet. I thought perhaps 
you d like to go with me. I can have my machine 
here in a minute. No?" as Worth declined with a 
wordless shake of the head. 

I hoped he d leave then; but he didn t. Instead, he 
turned back to his chair, explaining, 

"If Mfs. Thornhill s cook hadn t phoned me, when 
Mrs. Thornhill had a second collapse last night, I 
suppose I should be in San Francisco still. The 
coroner seemed to think there was no necessity for 
having competent medical testimony as to the time of 
death, and the physical condition of the deceased. I 
should have been wired for. The inquest should have 
been delayed until I arrived. The way the thing was 
managed was disgraceful." 

"It was merciful." Jim Edwards spoke as though 
unwillingly, in a muttered undertone. Evidently it 
was the first word he d addressed to Bowman if he 
could be said to address him now, as he finished, "I 
hadn t thought of an inquest. Yet of course there d 
be one in a case of suicide." 

Bowman only heard and wholly misconstrued him, 
snatching at the concluding words, 

"Of course it was suicide. Done with his own 
weapon, taken from the holster where we know it al 
ways hung, fully loaded. The muzzle had been pressed 
so close against the breast when the cartridge exploded 
that the woolen vest had taken fire. I should say it 
had smouldered for some time; there was a consider 
able hole burned in the cloth. The flesh around the 
wound was powder-scarred." 

\Yorth took it like a red Indian. I could see by the 
glint of his eye as it flickered over the doctor s face, 



150 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

the smooth white hands, the whole smooth personality, 
that the boy disliked, and had always disliked him. 
Yet he listened silently. 

I rather hoped by leading questions to get Bowman 
to express the opinion that Thomas Gilbert had been 
killed in the small hours of the morning. Circum 
stances then would have fitted in with Eddie Hughes. 
Eddie Hughes was to me the most acceptable murderer 
in sight. But no nothing would do him but to stick 
to the hour the coroner had accepted. 

"Medical science cannot determine closer than that," 
he was very final. "The death took place within an 
hour preceding midnight." 

"You are positive it couldn t be this morning?" I 
asked. 

"Positive." 

Well, Dr. Bowman s testimony, if accepted at the 
value the doctor himself placed upon it, would clear 
Worth of suspicion, for the lad was with me at Tait s 
from a few minutes past ten until after one; and Jim 
Edwards, now pacing the floor so restlessly, had also 
been there the greater part of that time. I had had 
too much experience with doctor s guesses based on 
rigor mortis to let it affect my views. 

In the minute of silence, we could hear Chung mov 
ing about at the back of the house. The doctor spoke 
querulously. 

"Never expect anything of a Chinaman, but I 
should think when the chauffeur found the body he 
might have had sense enough to summon friends of 
the family. He could have phoned me I was only 
in San Francisco." 



DR. BOWMAN 151 

"He could have phoned me at the ranch/ Jim Ed 
wards deep voice came in. 

"You? Why should he phone for you?" Bow 
man wheeled on him at last. "I was the man s phy 
sician, as well as his close friend. Everybody kno\vs 
you weren t on good terms with him. Gad ! You 
wouldn t be here in this house to-night, if he were 
alive." 

In the sort of silence that comes when some one s 
been suddenly struck in the face, Worth crossed to 
Edwards and laid an arm along his shoulders. 

"I ve asked Jim to stay in my place, here, in my 
house, while I m away over Monday and he can do 
as he likes about whom he chooses to have around." 

Bowman gradually got to his feet, his face a study. 

"I see," hfe said. "Then I ll not trespass on your 
time any longer. I felt obliged to offer my services 
. . . patients of mine . . . for years ... in afflic 
tion ..." a gleam of anger came into his fishy eyes. 
"I ve been met with damned insolence. . . . Claiming 
of the house before your father s decently in his 
grave." He jerked fully erect. "Leave your affairs 
in the hands of that degenerate. If he doesn t do you 
dirt, you ll be the first he s let off! Come, Miss Bar 
bara," to the girl who sat beside me, looking on mutely 
observant. 

"Thank you, doctor." She answered him as tran 
quilly as though no voice had been raised in anger in 
that room. "I think I ll stay a little longer. Jim 
will take me home." 

The doctor glared and stalked out. To the last I 
think he was expecting some one to stop him and 



152 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

apologize. I suppose this was what Worth described 
naively as "antagonizing people without intending to." 
Well, it might not be judicious; I certainly was glad 
the doctor was so sure of the time at which his friend 
Gilbert had met death; yet I couldn t but enjoy seeing 
him get his. As soon as the man s back was turned, 
Edwards beckoned Barbara to the window. Worth 
and I left them talking together there in low tones, he 
to get something he wanted from a case in the hall, 
where he called me to the phone, saying long distance 
wanted me. While I was waiting for my connection 
(Central, as usual, having gotten me, now couldn t get 
the other party) the two came from the living room 
and Barbara said "Good night" to us in passing. 

"Those two seem to have something on hand," I 
commented as they went out. "The little girl gave 
Bowman one for himself in the nicest possible way. 
Don t wonder Edwards likes her for it." 

"Poor Laura Bowman! Her friends take turns 
giving that bloodless lizard she s tied to, one for him 
self any time they can," Worth said. "My mother 
used to handle the doctor something like that; and 
now it s Barbara little Bobsie Wallace God bless 
her!" 

He went on into the dining room*. I looked after 
his unconscious, departing figure and thought he de 
served a good licking. Why couldn t he have spoken 
that way to the girl herself? Why hadn t he taken 
her home, instead of leaving it to Edwards? Then 
I got my call and answered, 

"This is Boyne. Put them through/ 

In a minute came Roberts voice. 

"Hello, Mr. Boyne?" 



DR. BOWMAN 153 

"Yes. What you got?" 

"Telegram Hicks Los Angeles. He s located 
Steve Skeels " 

".Read me the wire," I broke in. 

"All right." A pause, then, " Skeels arrived here 
from Frisco this morning shall I arrest ? 

"Good!" I exclaimed. "Wire him to keep Steve 
under surveillance and await instructions. Tell him 
not to lose him. Get it, Roberts? Hustle it I ll be 
in by nine. Good-by," and I hung up. 

I looked around; Worth had gone into the dining 
room ; I stepped to the door and saw him kneeling be 
fore an open lower door of the built-in sideboard, and 
noted that the compartment had been steel lined and 
Yale-locked, making a sort of safe. A lamp at the 
end of an extension wire stood on the floor beside 
him; he looked around at me over his shoulder as I 
put my head in to say, 

"Stock in your old suitcase has gone up a notch, 
Worth. We ve caught Skeels." 

"So soon?" was all he said. But my news seemed 
to decide something for him; with a sharp gesture of 
finality, he put into his breast pocket the package of 
papers he had been looking at. 

When a little later, Edwards came in, Worth was 
waiting for him in the hall. 

"Do we go now?" the older man asked, wincing. 
Worth nodded. 

"Take your machine, Jim," he said. "We can park 
it at Fuller s and walk back from there. Boyne s 
roadster is in our garage." 

"Anything wrong with Eddie Hughes?" Edwards 
asked as he stepped in to get his driving gloves. "I 



154 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

passed him out there headed for town lugging a lot of 
freight, and the fellow growled like a dog when I 
spoke to him." 

"I fired him. Come on, Jim let s get out of this." 

"Hold on, Worth," I took a hand. "Fired 
Hughes? When?" 

"While I was fixing up that door after you and 
Bobs came to the house." 

"What in God s name for?" I asked in exaspera 
tion. 

"For giving me back talk," said the youth who 
never quarreled with any one. 

He and Edwards tramped out together. I realized 
that the hostile son and an alienated friend had gone 
for a last look at the clay that had yesterday been 
Thomas Gilbert. Of course Worth would do that 
before he left Santa Ysobel. But would Edwards go 
in with him or was he only along to drive the ma 
chine ? It might be worth my while to know. But I 
could ask to-morrow; it wasn t worth a tired man s 
waiting up for. We must make an early start in the 
morning. I went upstairs to bed. 



CHAPTER XIV 

SEVEN LOST DAYS 

INSTEAD of driving up to* San Francisco with 
Worth and Barbara, the next morning, I was 
headed south at a high rate of speed. Sitting in the 
Pullman smoker, going over what had happened and 
what I had made of it, vainly studying a small, blue 
blotter with some senseless hieroglyphics reversed up 
on it, I wasn t at all sure that this move of mine was 
anywhere near the right one. But the thing hit me 
so quick, had to be decided in a flash, and my snap 
judgment never was good. 

We were all at breakfast there at the Gilbert house 
when I got the phone that those boobs down in Los 
Angeles had let Skeels slip through their fingers. I 
could see no way but to go myself. When I went 
out to retrieve my hand bag from the roadster, there 
was Barbara already in the seat. I delayed a minute 
to explain to her. She was full of eager interest ; it 
seemed to her that Skeels ducking the detectives, that 
way was more than clever almost worthy of a 
wonder man. 

"Slickest thing I ever knew," I grumbled. "You 
can gamble I wouldn t be going south after him if 
Skeels hadn t shown himself too .many for the Hicks 
agency and they re one of the best in the business." 

Worth came out and settled himself at the wheel ; he 
and Edwards exchanged a last, low-toned word; and 

155 



156 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

they were ready to be off. Barbara leaned towards 
me with shining eyes. 

"Perhaps," she said, "Skeels might even be Clayte!" 
then the roadster whisked her away. 

The bulk of Worth Gilbert s fortune was practically 
tied up in this affair. Even as the Pullman carried 
me Los Angeles-ward, that boy was getting in to 
San Francisco, going to the bank, and turning over to 
them capital that represented not only his wealth but 
his honor. If we failed to trace this money, he was 
a discredited fool. Yes, I had done right to come. 

So far on that side. Then apprehension began to 
mutter within me about the situation at Santa Ysobel. 
How long would that coroner s verdict of suicide sat 
isfy the public? How soon would some seepage of 
fact indicate that the death was murder and set the 
whole town to looking for a murderer? The minute 
this happened, the real criminal would take alarm and 
destroy evidence I might have gathered if I had stayed 
by the case. I promised myself that it should be 
simply "there and back" with me in the Skeels matter. 

This is the way it looked to me in the Pullman ; then 
once in Los Angeles I allowed myself to get hot 
telling the Hicks people what I thought of them, ex- 
paining how I d have run the chase, and wound up by 
giving seven days to it seven precious, irreclaimable 
days while everything lay wide open there in the 
north, and I couldn t get any satisfactory word from 
the office, and none of any sort from Worth. 

That Skeels trail kept me to it, with my tongue 
hanging out; again and again I seemed to have him; 
every time I missed him by an hour or so; and that 
convinced me that he was straining every nerve, and 



SEVEN LOST DAYS 157 

that he probably had the whole of the loot still with 
him. At last, I seemed to have him in a perfect trap 
Ensenada, on the Peninsula. You get into and out 
of Ensenada by steamboat only, except back to the 
mines on foot or donkey. The two days I had to wait 
over in San Diego for the boat which would follow 
the one Skeels had taken were a mighty uneasy time. 
If I d imagined for a moment that he wasn t on the 
dodge that he was- there openly I d have wired the 
Mexican authorities, and had him waiting for me in 
jail. But the Mexican officials are a rotten lot; it 
seemed to me best to go it alone. 

What I found in Ensenada was that Skeels had been 
there, quite publicly, under his own name; he had 
come alone and departed with a companion, Hindi 
Dial, a drill operator from the mines, a transient, a 
pick-up laborer, seemingly as close-mouthed as Silent 
Steve himself. Steve had come on one steamer and 
the two had left on the next. That north-bound boat 
we passed two hours off Point Loma was carrying 
Skeels and his pal back to San Diego ! 

Again two days lost, waiting for the steamer back. 
And when I got to San Diego, the trail was stone cold. 
I had sent Worth almost daily reports in care of my 
office, not wanting them to lie around at Santa Ysobel 
during the confusion of the funeral and all; but even 
before I went to Ensenada, telegrams from Roberts 
had informed me that these reports could not be de 
livered as Worth had not been at the office, and tele 
phone messages to Santa Ysobel and the Palace Hotel 
had failed to locate him. When I believed I had 
Skeels firmly clasped in the jaws of the Ensenada trap, 
I had sent a complete report of my doings up to that 



158 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

time, and the optimistic outlook then, to Barbara with 
instructions for her to get it to Worth. She would 
know where he was. 

But she hadn t. Her reply, waiting at San Diego 
for me, a delicious little note that somehow lightened 
the bitterness of my disappointment over Skeels, told 
me that she had seen Worth at the funeral, almost 
a week ago now, but only for a minute; that she had 
supposed he had joined me on the Skeels chase; and 
she would now try to hunt him up and deliver my re 
port. Roberts, too, had a line in one of his reports 
that Worth had called for the suitcase on the Monday 
I left and had neither returned it nor been in the office 
since. 

I worried not at all over Worth; if he wanted to 
play hide and seek with Dykeman s spotters, he was 
thoroughly capable of looking after himself; but in 
the Skeels matter, I did then what I should have done 
in the first place, of course; turned the work over to 
subordinates and headed straight home. 

I reached San Francisco pretty well used up. It 
was nearly the middle of the forenoon next day when 
I got to my desk and found it piled high with mail 
that had accumulated in my absence. Roberts had 
looked after what he could, and sorted the rest, ready 
for me. Everything concerning the Clayte case was 
in one basket. As Roberts handed it to *ne, he ex 
plained. 

"The Van Ness bank attorney Cummings has 
been keeping tabs on you tight, Mr. Boyne. Here 
every day sometimes twice. Wants to know the 
minute you re back." 

I grunted and dived into the letters. Nothing in- 



SEVEN LOST DAYS 159 

teresting. Responses acknowledging receipts of my 
early inquiries. Roberts lingered. 

"Well?" I shot at him. He moved uneasily as he 
asked. 

"Did you wire him when you were coming back? * 

"Cummings? No. Why?" 

"He telephoned in just before you came saying that 
he d be right up to see you. I told him you hadn t 
returned. He laughed and hung up." 

"All right, Roberts. Send him in when he comes." 
I dismissed the secretary. Cummings was keeping 
tabs on me with a vengeance. What was on his chest ? 

I didn t need to wait long to find out. In another 
minute he was at my door greeting me in an off-hand, 
"Hello, Boyne. Ready to jump into your car and 
go around with me to see Dykeman?" 

"Just got down to the office, Cummings," I 
watched him, trying to figure out where I stood and 
where he stood after this week s absence. "Haven t 
seen Worth Gilbert yet. What s the rush with Dyke 
man?" 

"You ll find out when you get there." 

Not very friendly, seeing that Cummings had been 
Worth s lawyer in the matter, and aside from that 
queer scene in my office, there d been no actual break. 
He stood now, not really grinning at me, but with an 
amused look under that bristly mustache, and sug 
gested, 

"So you haven t seen young Gilbert?" 

The tone was so significant that I gave him a quick 
glance of inquiry as I said, 

"No. What about him?" 

"Put on your coat and come along. We can talk 



160 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

on the way," he replied, and I went with him to the 
street, dug little Pete out of the bootblack stand and 
herded him into the roadster to drive us. Cummings 
gave the order for North Beach, and as we squirmed 
through and around congested downtown traffic, headed 
for the Stockton Street funnel, I waited for the lawyer 
to begin. When it came, it was another startling ques 
tion, 

"Didn t find Skeels in the south, eh?" 

I hadn t thought they d carry their watching and 
trailing of us so far. I answered that question with 
another, 

"When did you see or hear from Worth Gilbert 
last?" 

"Not since the funeral," he said promptly, "the 
day before the funeral a week ago to-day, to be exact. 
I ran down to make my inventory then; as adminis 
trator, you know." 

He looked at me so significantly that I echoed, 

"Yes, I know/ 

"Do you? How much?" His voice was hard and 
dry; it didn t sound good to me. 

"See here," I put it to him, as my clever little driver 
dodged in and out through the narrow lanes between 
Pagoda-like shops of Chinatown, avoiding the steep 
hill streets by a diagonal through the Italian quarter on 
Columbus Avenue. "If there s anything you think 
I ought to be told, put me wise. I suppose you raised 
that money for Worth the seventy-two thousand that 
was lacking, I mean?" 

"I did not." 

I turned the situation over and over in my mind, 
and at last asked cautiously, 



SEVEN LOST DAYS 161 

"Worth did get the money to make up the full 
amount, didn t he?" 

We had swerved again to the north, where the 
Powell car-line curves into Bay Street, and were headed 
direct for the wharves. Cummings watched me out 
of the corners of his eyes, a look that bored in most 
unpleasantly, while he cross examined, 

"So you don t know where he raised that money 
or how or when ? You don t even know that he did 
raise it? Is that the idea? 

I gave him look for look, but no answer. An in 
decisive slackening of the machine, and Little Pete 
asked, 

"Where now, sir?" 

"You can see it," Cummings pointed. "The tall 
building. Hit the Embarcadero, then turn to your 
right ; a block to Mason Street." 

So close to the dock that ships lay broadside before 
its doors, moored to the piles by steel cables, the West 
ern Cereal Company plant scattered its mills and ware 
houses over two city blocks. Freight trains ran 
through arcades into the buildings to fetch and carry 
its products : great trucks, some gas driven, some with 
four- and six-horse teams, loaded sacks or containers 
that shot in endless streams through well worn chutes, 
or emptied raw materials that would shortly be break 
fast foods into iron conveyors that sucked it up and 
whined for more. It was a place of aggressive activity 
among placid surroundings, this plant of Dykeman s, 
for its setting was the Italian fisherman s home dis 
trict ; little frame shacks, before which they mended 
their long, brown nets, or stretched them on the side 
walks to dry; Fisherman s Wharf and its lateen rigged, 



1 62 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

gayly painted hulls, was under the factory windows. 

We pulled up before the door of a building separate 
from any of the mills or warehouses, and I followed 
Cummings through a corridor, past many doors of 
private offices, to the large general office. Here a 
young man at a desk against the rail lent Cummings 
respectful attention; the lawyer asked something in a 
low tone, and was answered, 

"Yes, sir. Waiting for you. Go right through." 

Down the long room with its rattling typewriters, 
its buzz of clerks and salesmen we went. Cummings 
was a little ahead of me, when he checked a moment to 
bow to some one over at a desk. I followed his glance. 
The girl he had spoken to turned her back almost 
instantly after she had returned his greeting; but I 
couldn t be mistaken. There might be more than one 
figure with that slim, half girlish grace about it, and 
other hair as lustrously blue-black, but none could be 
wound around a small head quite so shapely, carried 
with so blossomlike a toss. It was Barbara Wallace. 

So this was where her job was. Strange I had not 
known this fact of grave importance. I went on past 
her unconscious back, left her working at her loose- 
leaf ledgers, beside her adding machine, my mind a 
whirl of ugly conjecture. Dykernan s employee ; that 
would instantly and very painfully clear up a score of 
perplexing questions. Dykeman would need no de 
tectives on my trail to tell him of my lack of success 
in the Skeels chase. Lord! I had sent her as concise 
a report as I could make to her, for Worth. I 
walked on stupidly. In front of the last door in the 
big room, Cummings halted and spoke low. 

"Boyne, you and I are both in the employ of the 



SEVEN LOST DAYS 163 

Van Ness Avenue Bank. We re somewhat similarly 
situated in another quarter; I m representing the Gil 
bert estate, and you ve been retained by Worth Gil 
bert." 

I grunted some sort of assent. 

"I brought you here to listen to what the bank 
crowd has to say, but when they get done, I ve 
something to tell you about that young employer of 
yours. You listen to them then you listen to me 
and you ll know where you stand." 

"I ll talk with you as soon as I get through here, 
Cummings." 

"Be sure you do that little thing," significantly, and 
we went in. 



CHAPTER XV 
AT DYKEMAN S OFFICE 

WE found Whipple with Dykeman. I had al 
ways liked the president of the Van Ness 
Avenue Bank well enough; one of the large, smooth, 
amiable sort, not built to withstand stress of weather, 
apt to be rather helpless before it. He seemed now 
mighty upset and worried. Dykeman looked at me 
wjth hard eyes that searched me, but on the whole he 
was friendly in his greeting and inquiries as to my 
health. 

While I was getting out of my coat and stowing it, 
making a great deal of the process so as to gain time, 
I saw Cummings was exchanging low spoken words 
with the two of them. I tried to keep my mind on 
these men before me and why I was with, them, but 
all the while it would be running back to the knock 
out blow of seeing that girl in Dykernan s place. She 
was double-crossing Worth ! I might have grinned at 
the idea that I d let myself be fooled by a pair of big, 
expressive, wistful, merry black eyes; but I had seen 
the look in those same eyes when they were turned 
on my boy; to think she d look at him like that, and 
sell him out, was against nature. It was hurting me 
beyond all reason. 

Whipple asked me about my trip south as though 
it was the most public thing in the world and he knew 

164 



AT DYKEMAN S OFFICE 165 

its every detail, and accepted my reply that I couldn t 
take one man s pay and report to another, with, 

"Just so, Mr. Boyne. But your agency is retained 
regularly, year by year by our bank, And our 
bank has given over none of its rights I should say 
duties in regard to the Clayte case. We stand ready 
to assist any one whose behavior seems to us that of 
a law-abiding citizen. We don t want to advance any 
criminality. We can t strike hands with outlaws " 

"Tell him about the suitcase, W hipple," Dykeman 
broke in impatiently, rather spoiling the president s 
oratorical effect. Tell him about the suitcase." 

The suitcase! Was this one of the things Barbara 
Wallace had let out to her employer ? She could have 
done so. She knew all about it. 

"One moment, please," I snapped. "I ve been away 
for a week, Mr. Whipple. I don t know a thing of 
what you re talking about. Did Captain Gilbert fail 
to meet his engagement with you Monday morning?" 

Whipple shook his head. 

"Mr. Dykeman wants you told about the suitcase," 
he said. "I d like to have Knapp here when we go 
into that." 

Dykeman picked up the end of a speaking-tube and 
barked into it, 

"Send those men in." In the moment s delay, we 
all sat uneasily mute. Knapp came in with Anson. 
As they nodded to us and settled into chairs, two or 
three others joined us. Nothing was said about this 
filling out of the numbers, but to me it meant serious 
business, with Worth Gilbert its motive. 

"Get it over, can t you?" I said, looking about from 
one to the other of the men, all directors in the bank. 



166 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"I understand that Captain Gilbert met his engage 
ment with you; was he short of the sum agreed?" 
Again Whipple shook his head. 

" Captain Gilbert walked into the bank at exactly 
ten o clock Monday morning. The uh uh unusual 
arrangement contract, to call it so that we d made 
with him concerning the defalcation would have ex 
pired in a few seconds, and I think I may say," he 
looked around at the others, "that we should not have 
been sorry to have it do so. But he brought the sum 
agreed on." 

I drew a great sigh of relief. Worth s bargain 
was complete; he was done with these men, anyhow. 
I was half out of my chair when Whipple said, sharply 
for him, 

"Sit down, Mr. Boyne." And Dykeman almost 
drowned it in his, 

"Wait, there, Boyne! We re not through with 
you." 

"There s more to tell," Whipple continued. "Cap 
tain Gilbert brought that eight hundred thousand cash 
and securities in a er in a very strange way." 

"What d you mean, strange way? airplane or sub 
marine?" I growled. 

"He brought it," Whipple s words marched out of 
him like a solemn procession, "in a brown, sole-leather 
suitcase." 

"With brass trimmings," Dykeman supplemented, 
and leaned back in his chair with an audible "Ah-h-h !" 
of satisfaction. 

If ever a poor devil was flabbergasted, it was the 
head of the Boyne agency at that moment. I had a 
fellow feeling for that Mazeppa party who was tied 



AT DYKEMAN S OFFICE 167 

in his birthday suit to the back of a wild horse. 
Locoed broncos were more amenable to rein than 
Worth Gilbert. So that was why he wanted that 
suitcase "had a use for it, he d put it; insisted on 
an order to be able to get it if I wasn t at my office; 
wanted it to shove back at these scary bank officials, 
with his own money for the payment inside. No 
wonder Whipple called him an "outlaw" ! 

"Get the idea, do you, Boyne?" Anson lunged at 
me in his ponderous way. "The rest of us thought 
twas a poor joke, but Knapp and Whipple had both 
seen that suitcase before and recognized it." 

"Yes," said Knapp quietly. "It chanced I saw it 
go through the door that last day, when it had nearly 
a million of our money in it. And here it was " 
his voice broke<off. 

"Certainly startling," Cummings spoke directly at 
me, "for them to see it come back in \Vorth Gilbert s 
hands, with the same kind of filling, less one hundred 
and eighty seven thousand dollars. Of course, I didn t 
know the identity of the suitcase until they d given 
Gilbert his receipt and he was gone." 

"Oh, they accepted his money?" I said, and every 
man in the room looked sheepish, except Cummings 
who didn t need to, and Dykeman who was too mad 
to. He shouted at me, 

"Yes, we took it ; and you re going to tell us where 
he got that suitcase." 

"What have your own detectives those you hired 
on the side to say about it?" I countered on him, 
and saw instantly that the Whipple end of the crowd 
hadn t known of Dykeman s spotters and trailers. 

"Well, why not?" Dykeman shrilled. "Why not? 



1 68 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

Who wouldn t shadow that crook? One hundred and 
eighty seven thousand dollars! Worked us like 
suckers come-ons !" he choked up and began to 
cough. Cummings came in where he left off. 

"See here, Boyne ; we don t want to antagonize you. 
You ve said from the first that this crime was a con 
spiracy a big thing directed by brains on the out 
side. Clayte was the tool. Whose tool was he? 
That s what we want to know." And Anson trundled 
along, 

"These men who have been in the war get a con 
tempt for law, there s no doubt about it. Captain 
Gilbert might- 

"No names!" Whipple s hand went up in protest. 
"No accusations, gentlemen, please; Mr. Boyne this 
is a dreadful thing. But, really, Captain Gilbert s 
manner was very strange. I might say he " 

"Swaggered," supplied Cummings coolly as the 
president s voice lapsed. 

"Well," Whipple accepted it, "he swaggered in and 
put it all over us. There he was, a man fresh from 
the deathbed of a suicide father; that father s funeral 
yet to occur. I, personally, hadn t the heart to ques 
tion him or raise objections. I was dazed." 

"Dazed," Dykeman snapped up the word and wor 
ried it, as a dog worries a bone. "Of course, we 
were all dazed. It was so open, so shameless that s 
why he got by with it. Making use of his position 
as heir, less than forty eight hours after his father 
was shot." 

"After his father shot himself," Whipple s lowered 
tone was a plea. "After his father shot himself." 

"Huh !" snorted Dykeman. "If a man shoots him- 



AT DYKEMAN S OFFICE 169 

self, he s been shot, hasn t he? Hell! What s the 
use of whipping the devil round the stump that way? 
Boyne, you can stand with us, or you can fight us." 

"Boyne s with us of course he s with us," Whipple 
broke in, his words a good deal more confident than 
his tone or the look of his face. 

"Well, then," Dykeman ground out, "when our 
thief of a teller splits that one hundred and eighty 
seven thousand with his man Gilbert shut up. Whip- 
pie shut up! You can t stop me we re going to 
know about it. We ll get them both then, and send 
them across. And we ll recover one hundred and 
eighty seven thousand dollars that belongs to the Van 
Ness Avenue bank." 

"Good night!" I got to my feet. "This lets me 
out. I can t deal with men who make a scrap of 
paper of their contracts as quick as you gentlemen 
do." 

"Stop, Boyne you haven t got it all," Dykeman 
ordered me. 

"Yes, wait, Mr. Boyne," Whipple came in. "You 
haven t a full understanding of the enormity of this 
young man s action. Mr. Cummings has something 
to tell you which, I think, will " 

"Nothing Mr. Cummings can say," I shut them off, 
"will alter the fact that I am employed by Captain 
Worth Gilbert at your recommendation at your own 
recommendation that I have been away more than a 
week on his business, and have not yet had an opportu 
nity to report to him personally. When I ve seen him, 
I ll be ready to talk to you." 

"You ll talk now or never " Dykeman s shrill 
threat was interrupted by the shriller bell of the tele- 



1 70 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

phone. He yanked the instrument to him, and the 
"Hello!" he cried into it had the snap of an oath. He 
looked up and shoved the thing in my direction. "Call 
ing for you, Boyne," he snarled. 

There was deathly stillness in the room, so that the 
whir of the great stones in the mill came to us insis 
tently. I stood there, they all watching me, and spoke 
into the transmitter. 

"This is Boyne." 

"Hold the receiver close to your ear so it won t 
leak words." The warning wasn t needed; I thought 
I knew the voice. "Press the transmitter close to 
your chest. Listen don t talk; don t say a word in 
reply to me. I m in the telephone booth outside. I 
must see you just as soon as I can. I ll be at the 
Little Italy restaurant you know, don t you? on Fish 
erman s Wharf in ten minutes. If you can come, and 
alone, find me there. I ll wait an hour. If you can t 
come now, you must see me this evening after working 
hours." 

"I ll come now," I raised the transmitter to say, 
and quickly over the wire came the answer, 

"I told you not to speak in there ! This is Barbara 
Wallace." 



CHAPTER XVI 

A LUNCHEON 

1WENT away from there. 
Looking about me, I had guessed that pretty 
much every man in the room believed that it was 
Worth Gilbert with whom I had been talking over the 
phone. Dykeman s trailers would be right behind me. 
Yet to the last, Whipple and his crowd were offering 
me the return trip end of my ticket with them; if I 
would come back and be good, even now, all would be 
forgiven. I sized up the situation briefly and took my 
plunge, shutting the door after me, glancing across 
the long room to see that Barbara Wallace s desk was 
deserted. Nobody followed me from the room I had 
just left. I walked quickly to the outer door. 

Little Pete switched on his engine as I leaped into 
the car. My "Let her go !" wasn t needed to make 
him throw in his clutch, and give me a flying start 
straight ahead down the broad plank way of the Em- 
barcadero. Looking back as we hit the belt-line 
tracks, I saw a small car with two men in it, shoot 
out from one of the wide doorways of the plant ; but 
as we rounded the cliff-like side of Telegraph Hill, 
my view of them was cut off. Things had come for 
me thick and fast. I felt pretty well balled up. But 
the girl had used secrecy in appointing this interview ; 
till I could see further into the thing, it was anyhow 
a safe bet to drop them. 

171 



172 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Pete," I said, "lose that car behind us. Only ten 
minutes to slip them and land me at Fisherman s 
Warf. Show me what-for/ 

He grinned. Between Montgomery and the bay, 
north of California Street, there are many narrow 
byways, crowded with the heavy traffic of hucksters 
and vegetable men, a section devoted to the commis 
sion business. Into its congestion Pete dove with a 
weasel instinct for finding the right holes to slip 
through, the alleys that might be navigated in safety; 
in less than the ten minutes I d specified, we were free 
again on Columbus Avenue, pursuit lost, and headed 
back for the restaurant on the wharf. 

"Boss," Little Pete was hoarse with the excitement 
he loved, as he laid the roadster alongside the Little 
Italy, "was it on the level, what you fed the law 
yer guy? Ain t you wise to where Captain Gilbert 
is? I ve saw him frequent since you ve been 
gone." 

"How many times is frequent, Pete?" I asked. 
"And when did the last frequent happen?" 

"Twice," sulkily. I d wounded his pride by not 
taking him seriously; but he added as I jumped down 
from the machine. "I druv him up on the hill, round 
the place where you an him an her went that 
day." 

Pete didn t need to use Barbara Wallace s name. 
The way he salaamed to the pronoun was enough ; the 
swath that girl cut evidently reached from the cradle 
to the grave, with this monkey grinning at one end, 
and me doddering along at the other. 

I gave a moment to questioning Pete, found out all 
he knew, and went into the restaurant, wondering what 



A LUNCHEON 173 

under heaven Barbara Wallace would say to me or ask 
me. 

The Little Italy restaurant is not so bad a place 
for luncheon. If one likes any eatables the western 
seas produce, I heartily recommend it. Where fish 
are unloaded from the smacks by the ton, fish are sure 
to be in evidence, but they are nice, fresh fish, and 
look good enough to eat. And the Little Italy is 
clean, with white oil-clothed tables and a view from its 
broad windows that down-town restaurants would 
double their rent to get. 

Just now it was full of noisy patrons, foreigners, 
mostly; people too busy eating to notice whether I 
carried my head on my shoulders or under my arm. 

In a far corner, Barbara Wallace s eyes were on me 
from the minute I came within her sight. She had 
ordered clams for two, mostly, I thought, to defend 
the privacy of our talk from the interruptions of a 
waiter, and I was hardly in my chair before she burst 
out, 

"Where s Worth? Why wasn t he in that office to 
defend himself against what they re hinting?" 

"I suppose," I said dryly, "because he wasn t given 
an invitation to attend. You ought to know why. 
You work for Dykeman." 

"I work for Dykeman?" she repeated after me in 
a bewildered tone. "I m bookkeeper in the Western 
Cereal Company s employ, if that s what you mean. 
You understood so from the first." 

"You know I didn t," I reproached her hotly. "Do 
you think I d have let you on the inside of this case 
if I d known it was a pipe line direct to Dykeman?" 

And on the instant I spoke there came to me a 



174 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

remembrance of her saying that Sunday morning as 
we pulled up before the St. Dunstan that she went past 
the place on the street car every day getting to her 
work at the Western Cereal Company. Sloppy of me 
not to have paid better attention; I knew vaguely that 
Dykeman was in one of the North Beach mills. 

"Fifty-fifty, Barbara," I conceded. "I should have 
known made it my business to learn. And Dyke 
man has questioned you " 

"He has not!" indignantly. "I don t suppose he 
knows Worth and I are acquainted." I could have 
smiled at that. There were detectives reports in Dyke- 
man s desk that recorded date, hour and duration of 
every meeting this girl had had with Worth and with 
myself. Besides, Cummings knew. It must have 
been through Cummings that she learned what was 
about to take place in Dykeman s private office. What 
had she told Cummings? 

I was ready to blurt out the question, when she 
fumbled in her bag with little, shaking hands, drew 
out and passed to me unopened the envelope addressed 
to Worth, with my detailed report of the Skeels chase. 

"I did my best to deliver it," she steadied her voice 
as she spoke. "He wasn t at the Palace. He wasn t 
at Santa Ysobel. He didn t communicate with me 
here." 

My edifice of suspicion of Barbara Wallace crum 
bled. Cummings had not learned through her that I 
was unsuccessful in the south; nor had she spilled a 
word to him that she shouldn t, or they d have had 
the dope on where Worth had found that suitcase, 
and thrown it at me quick. 

"Barbara," I said, "will you accept my apologies?" 



A LUNCHEON 175 

"Oh, yes/ she smiled vaguely. "I don t know what 
you re apologizing for, but it doesn t matter. I hoped 
you would bring me news of Worth of where b 

"When die e him last?" 

"On the day of the funeral. I hardly got to speak 
to him." 

Little Pete s news was slightly later. He d taken 
Worth up to the Gold Xugget and dropped him there. 
Thursday, Worth was at the Xugget for more than 
an hour. On both occasions. Pete was told to slip 
the trailers, and did. That meant that Worth was 
working on the Gayte case or thought he was. I 
told her of this. 

Yes Oh, yes," she repeated listlessly. 
where is he now? And awful things things like 
ig coming up." 

"What besides this meeting 

"At Santa Ysobel." 

4 What ? Things that have happened since the boy s 
gone? You couldn t get much idea of the lay of the 
land when you were down there Wednesday, could 
you? 

"Oh, but I could I did/ earnestly. "Of c 
it was a large funeral: it seemed to me I saw every 
body I d ever known. At a time like that, nothing 
would be said openly, but the drift was all in one 
direction. They couldn t understand Worth, and so 
nearly every one who spoke of him. picked at him, 
trying to understand him. Mrs. Thornhill s cook was 
already telling that Worth had quarreled with his 
father and demanded money. I shouldn t wonder if 
by now Santa Ysobel s set the exact hour of the quar- 



1 76 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Me for down there as quick as I can," I muttered, 
and Barbara, facing me sympathetically, offered, 

"I ve a letter from Skeet Thornhill," she groped in 
her bag again, mumbling as women do when they re 
hunting for a thing, "It came this morning . . . Mrs. 
Thornhill s no better w 7 orse, I judge . . . Oh, here it 
is," and she pulled out a couple of closely scribbled 
sheets. "The child writes a wild hand/ she apolo 
gized, as she passed these over. 

The flapper dashed into her letter with a sort of 
incoherent squeal. The carnival ball was only four 
days off. Everybody was already dead on his, her or 
its feet. The decorations they d planned were enough 
to kill a horse let alone getting up costumes. "As 
usual, everything seems to be going to the devil here/ 
she went on; "Got a cannery girl elected festival 
queen this time. Ina s furious, of course. Moms had 
a letter from her that singed the envelope; but I sort 
of enjoy seeing the cannery district break in. 
They ve got the money these days." 

Nothing here to my purpose. Barbara reached for 
ward and turned the sheet for me, and I saw Worth 
Gilbert s name half way down it. 

"Doctor Bowman is an old hell-cat, and I hate him." 
Skeet made her points with a fine simplicity. "Since 
mother s sick, he comes here every day, though what 
he does but sit and shoot off his mouth and get her all 
worked up is more than I can see. Yesterday I was 
in the room when he was there, and he got to talking 
about Worth the meanest, lowest-down, hinting talk 
you ever heard! Said Worth got a lot of money 
when his father died, and I flared up and said what of 
it? Did he think Mr. Gilbert ought to have left it to 





A LUNCHEON 177 

him ? That hit him, because he and Mr. Gilbert used 
to be good friends, and he and Worth aren t. I sassed 
him, and he got so mad that just as he was leaving, 
he hollered at me that I better ask Worth Gilbert 
where he was at the hour his father was shot. Now, 
what do you know about that? That man is spread 
ing stories. A doctor can set them going. He s 
making his messy old calls on people all day, and they, 
poor fish-hounds, believe everything he says. Though 
mother didn t. After he was gone, she just lay there in 
her bed and said over and over that it was a lie, a 
foolish, dangerous lie! Poor mumsie, she s so nerv 
ous that when the grocer s truck had a blow-out down 
in the drive, she nearly went into hysterics cried and 
carried on, something about it s being the shot. I 
suppose she meant the one when Mr. Gilbert killed ; 
himself. Wasn t that queer? Any loud noise of the 
sort sets her off that way. She lies and listens, and 
listens and mutters to herself. It scares me." She 
closed with, "Please don t break your promise to be 
here through this infernal Bloss. Fes." 

"Good advice, that last," I said slowly, as I laid the 
letter on the table, keeping a hand on it. "You ll do 
that, won t you, Barbara?" 

"I had intended to. I was given leave from this 
afternoon. But well I d thought it over, and almost 
made up my mind to go back to my desk." 

Barbara Wallace uncertain, halting between two 
courses of action! What did it mean? 

"See here, Barbara ; this isn t a time for Worth Gil 
bert s friends to slacken on him." 

"I hadn t slackened," she said very low. And left it 
for me to remember that Worth apparently had. 



1 78 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

Then you re needed at Santa Ysobel," I urged. 

"But you re going, aren t you, Mr. Boyne?" 

"Yes. As soon as I can get off. That doesn t keep 
you from being needed. Worth s one of the most 
efficiently impossible young men I ever tried to handle. 
Maybe he s not any fuller of shocks than any other 
live wire, but he sure does manage to plant them where 
they ll do the most harm. Cummings, Dykeman and 
this Dr. Bowman down there; active enemies." 

"They can t hurt Worth Gilbert all of them to 
gether!" 

"Wait a minute. I m going to Santa Ysobel to find 
the murderer of Thomas Gilbert. That means a stir 
ring to the depths of that little town. This underneath- 
the-surface combustion will get poked into a flame 
she s going to burst out, and somebody s going to get 
burned. We don t want that to be Worth, Barbara." 

"No. But what can I do what influence have I 
with him " she was beginning, but I broke in on her. 

"Barbara, you and I are going to find the real mur 
derer, before the Cummings-Dykeman bunch discover 
a way into and out of that bolted study. Those people 
want to see Worth in jail." 

There was a long pause while she faced me, the rich 
color failing a little in her cheeks. 

"I see/ speaking slowly, studying each word. "And 
as long as we didn t find out how to enter and leave the 
study, we have no way of knowing how hard or how 
easy it s going to be for them to find it out. We 
her voice still lower "we can t tell if they already 
know it or not." 

"Yes we can," I leaned forward to say. "The min- 



A LUNCHEON 179 

ute they know that Worth Gilbert will be charged 
with murder." 

I hit hard enough that time to bring blood, but she 
bled inwardly, sitting there staring at me, quite pale, 
finally faltering, 

"Well I can t stop to think of his having followed 
Ina Yandeman south on her wedding trip if he 
needs me and I can help I must " she broke down 
completely, and I sat there feeling big- footed and blun 
dering; at this revelation of what it was that had put 
that clear, logical mind of hers off the track, left her 
confused, groping, just a girl, timid, distrustful of her 
own judgment where her heart was concerned. 

"Was that it all the time?" I asked. "Well, take it 
from me. Worth s done nothing of the sort. He s 
been playing detective, not chasing off after some other 
man s bride. 

Up came the color to her cheeks, she reached that 
mite of a hand across to shake on the bargain with, 

Til go straight down this evening. You ll find me 
in Santa Ysobel when you come, Mr. Boyne." 

"At the Thornhills ?" It might be handy to have 
her there; but she shook her head, looking a little self- 
conscious. 

"I m taking that spare room at Sarah Capehart s. 
Skeet wanted me, and I have an invitation from Laura 
Bowman: but if well, seeing that this investigation is 
going to cover all that neighborhood, I thought I d 
rather be with Sarah." 

The level-headed little thing! Pete and I had the 
pleasure of taking her out to her home where she had 
her packing to attend to. On the way she spoke of an 



i8o THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

engagement with Cummings for the theater Saturday 
night. 

"And instead, I suppose I shall be at the carnival 
ball. Shall I tell him that in my note, Mr. Boyne? 
Is it all right to let him know?" 

"It s all right," I assented. "You can bet Cummings 
is due down there as soon as Worth shows up; and 
that must be soon, now." 

"Yes," Barbara agreed. Her face clouded a little. 
"You noticed in Skeet s letter that they re expecting 
Ina to-morrow." 

Poor child she couldn t get away from it. I patted 
the hand I had taken to say good-by and assured her 
again, 

"Worth Gilbert hasn t been in the south. I won 
der at you, Barbara, You re so clear headed about 
everything else don t you see that that would be im 
possible?" 

Then I drove back to my office, to find lying on my 
desk a telegram from the young man, dated at Los 
Angeles, requesting me to meet him at Santa Ysobel 
the following evening! 



CHAPTER XVII 

CLEANSING FIRES 

WEDNESDAY evening I pulled into a different 
Santa Ysobel: lanterns strung across between 
the buildings, bunting and branches of bloom every 
where, streets alive with people milling around, and 
cars piled high with decorative material, crowded with 
the decorators. The carnival of blossoms was only 
three days ahead. 

At Bill Capehart s garage they told me Barbara was 
out somewhere with the crowd; and a few minutes 
later on Main Street, I met her in a Ford truck. Skeet 
Thornhill was at the wheel, adding to the general risk 
of life and limb on Santa Ysobel streets, carrying a 
half a dozen or more other young things tucked away 
behind. Both girls shouted at me; they were going 
somewhere for something and would see me later. 

Getting down toward the Gilbert place, just beyond 
the corner, I flushed from the shadows of the pepper 
trees a bird I knew to be one of Dykeman s operatives. 
Watching his carefully careless progress on past the 
Gilbert lawn, then the Vandeman grounds, my eye was 
led to a pair who approached across the green from 
the direction of the bungalow. No mistaking the 
woman; even at this distance, height and the clean 
sweep of her walk, told me that this was the bride, Ina 
Vandeman. And the man strolling beside her had 

181 



1 82 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

he come with her from the house, or joined her on the 
cross-cut path? could that be Worth Gilbert? 

I sat in the roadster and gaped. The evening light 
behind them, and dim enough at best made their 
countenances fairly indistinguishable. At the gap in 
the hedge, they paused, and Mrs. Vandeman reached 
out, broke off a flower to fasten in his buttonhole, 
looking up into his face, talking quickly. Old stuff- 
but always good reliable old stuff. Then Worth saw 
me and hailed, "Hello, Jerry !" But he did not come 
to me, and I swung out of the machine to the side 
walk. 

I heard the sobbing of the Ford truck; it went by, 
missing my runningboard by an inch, stopped at Van- 
deman s gate and Skeet discharged her cargo of clamor 
to stream across the sidewalk and up toward the bun 
galow. I saw Barbara, in the midst of the moving 
figures, suddenly stop, knew she had seen the two over 
there, and crossed to her, with a cheerful, 

"He s here all right." 

"Oh, yes," not looking toward the gap in the hedge, 
or at me. "He came on the same train with with 
them." 

Then some one from the porch yowled reproach fully 
for her to fetch those banners pronto, and with a little 
catching of breath, she ran on up the walk. 

I turned back. Worth and Ina had moved on. 
Bronson Vandeman, well groomed, dressed as though 
he had just come in -off the golf links, his English 
shoes and loud patterned stockings differentiating him 
from the crude outdoor man of the Coast, had joined 
them on the Gilbert lawn; his genial greeting to me 
let his bride get by with a mere bow, turning at once 



CLEANSING FIRES 183 

back to her house by the front walk. But rather to my 
annoyance, Vandeman came bounding up the steps 
after us. I judged Worth must have invited him. 

Chung carried my suitcase upstairs, and lingered a 
minute in my room. I ll swear it wasn t merely to get 
the tip for which he thanked me, but with the idea of 
showing me in some recondite, Oriental fashion that he 
was glad I d come. This interested me. The people 
who were glad to have me in Santa Ysobel at this time 
belonged on the clean side of my ledger. Then I went 
downstairs to find Vandeman still in the living room, 
sprawled at ease beside the window, looking round with 
a display of his fine teeth, reaching a hand to pull in 
the chair Worth set for me. 

"Well, Jerry," that young man prompted, indicating 
by a careless gesture the smokers tray on the table be 
side me, "there is time before dinner for the tale of 
your exploits. How s my friend Steve?" 

I began to select a cigar, and said shortly, 

"It s all in reports waiting for you at my office." 

"Yes." Worth ignored my irritation. "Tell it. 
What d you do down south?" 

"Just back from the south yourself, aren t you?" I 
countered. 

"Sure," airily. "But I wasn t there to butt in on 
your game. Did you find that Skeels was Clayte?" 

I merely looked over the flame of my match at that 
small-town society man, smiling back at me with a 
show of polite interest. 

"Go on," Worth interpreted. "Vandeman knows all 
about it. I tried to sell him a few shares of stock in 
the suitcase, so he ll take an interest in the game; but 
he s too much the tight-wad to buy." 



184 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Oh, no," deprecated Vandeman. "Just no gambler ; 
hate to take a chance." He ran his fingers through 
his hair, tossing it up with a gesture I had noticed 
when he came back from the dance at Tait s. 

"All right apology accepted," Worth nodded. 
"Anyway, you didn t. Well, Jerry?" 

Vandeman waited a moment with natural curiosity, 
then, as I still said nothing, giving my attention to 
my smoke, moved reluctantly to rise, saying, 

"That means I d better chase along and let you two 
talk business." 

"No. Sit tight," from Worth. 

I was mad clear through, and disturbed and appre 
hensive, too. I managed a brief, dry statement of the 
outcome in the south. Worth hailed it with, 

"Skeels lurks in the jungle! Life still holds a grain 
of interest." 

"Why the devil couldn t you keep me advised of 
your movements?" I demanded. 

"Dykeman s hounds," he grinned. "Had them 
guessing. They d have picked me up if I d gone to 
your office." 

"You could have written or wired. They ve picked 
you up anyway," I grunted. "One s on the job now. 
Saw him as I came in." 

"Eh ? What s that ?" cried Vandeman, a man snoop 
ing in the shrubbery outside getting more attention 
from him than one dodging pursuit three hundred 
miles away. "What do you mean, hounds ?" and when 
he had heard the explanation of Dykeman s trailers, 
"I call that intolerable!" 

"Oh, I don t know." Worth reached over my 
shoulder for a cigarette^ "Lose em whenever I like." 



CLEANSING FIRES 185 

I wasn t so certain. There were men in my employ 
he couldn t shake. Perhaps those reports in Dyke- 
man s desk might have offered some surprises to this 
cock-sure lad. My exasperation at Worth mounted as 
I listened to Vandeman talking. 

"Those bank people should do one thing or another," 
he gave his opinion. "Just because you got gay with 
them and handed them their payment in the suitcase 
it left in, they ve no right to have you watched like 
a criminal. In a small town like this, such a thing 
will ruin a man s standing." 

"If he has any standing," Worth laughed. 

"See here," Vandeman s smile was persuasive. 
"Don t let what I said out in front embitter you." 

"I ll try not to." 

"Mr. Boyne" Vandeman missed the sarcasm 
"when I got back to this town to-day, what do you 
suppose I found? The story going around that a 
quarrel with Worth, over money, drove his father to 
take his own life." 

"That s my business here," I nodded. And when 
he looked his surprise, "To stop such stories." 

He stared at me, frankly puzzled for a moment, then 
said, 

"Well, of course you know, and I know, that they re 
scurrilous lies; but just how will you stop them?" 

I had intended my remark to stand as it was; but 
Worth filled in the pause after Vandeman s question 
with, 

"Jerry s here to get the truth of my father s mur 
der, Bronse." 

"Murder?" The mere naked word seemed to shock 
Vandeman. His sort clothe and pad everything even 



i86 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

their speech. "I didn t know any one entertained the 
idea your father was murdered. He couldn t have 
been not the way it happened." 

"Nevertheless we think he was." 

"Oh, but Boyne start a thing like that, and think 
of the talk it ll make! They ll commence at once say 
ing that there was nobody but Worth to profit by his 
father s death." 

"Don t worry, Mr. Vandeman." He made me hot. 
"We know where to dig up the motive for the crime." 

"You mean the diaries?" Worth s voice sounded 
unbelievably from beside me. "Nothing doing there, 
Jerry. I ve burned them." 

I sat and choked down the swears. Yet, looking 
back on it, I saw plainly that Jerry Boyne was the man 
who deserved kicking. I ought never to have left 
them with him. 

"You read them and burned them?" said Vandeman. 

"Burned them without reading," Worth s impatient 
tones corrected. 

"Without reading!" the other echoed, startled. 
Then, after a long pause, "Oh I say pardon me, but 
but ought that to have been done? Surely not. 
Worth if you d read your father s diaries for the past 
few years I don t believe you d have a doubt that he 
committed suicide not a doubt." 

Worth sat there mute. Myself, I was rather curious 
as to what Vandeman would say ; I had read much in 
those diaries. But when it came, it was the same old 
line of talk one hears when there s a suicide : Gilbert 
was a lonely man; his life hadn t been happy; he cut 
himself off from people too much. Vandeman said 
that of late he believed he was pretty nearly the only 



CLEANSING FIRES 187 

intimate the dead man had. This last gave him an 
interest in my eyes. I broke in on his generalities to 
ask him bluntly why he was so certain the death was 
suicide. 

"Mr. Gilbert was breaking up; had been for two 
years or more. Worth s been away; he s not seen it; 
but I can tell you, Boyne, his father s mind was 
affected." 

Wortrfi let that pass, though I could see he wasn t 
convinced by Vandeman s sentimentalities, any more 
than I was. After the man had gone, I turned on 
Worth sharply, with, 

"Why the devil did you tell that pink-tea proposition 
about your dealings with the Van Ness Avenue bank?" 

"Safety valve, I guess. I get up too heavy a load 
of steam, and it s easy to blow it off to Vandeman. 
Told him most of it in the smoker, coming up. You ll 
talk about anything in a smoker." 

"Oh, will you ?" I said in exasperation. "And you ll 
burn anything, I suppose, that a match ll set fire to?" 

"Go easy, Jerry Boyne." His chin dropped to his 
chest, he sat glowering out through the window. 
"Cleansing fires for that sort of garbage," he said 
finally. "I burned them on the day of his funeral." 



CHAPTER XVIII 

THE TORN PAGE 

MY coming had thrown dinner late; we were 
barely through with the meal and back once 
more in the living room when the latch of the French 
window rattled, the window itself was pushed open, 
and a high imperious voice proclaimed, 

"The Princess of China, calling on Mr. Worth 
Gilbert." 

There stood Ina Vandeman in the gorgeously em 
broidered robes of a high caste Chinese lady, her fair 
hair covered by a sleek black wig that struck out some 
thing odd, almost ominous, in the coloring of her skin, 
the very planes of her features. Outside, along the 
porch, sounded the patter of many feet ; Skeet wriggled 
through the narrow frame under her tall sister s arm, 
came scooting into the room to turn and gaze back 
at her. 

Doesn t shejpok the vamp?" 

"Skeet!" IruThad sailed in by this time, and Ernes 
tine followed more soberly. "You ve been told not to 
say that." 

"I think," the other twin backed her up virtuously, 
"with poor mother sick and all, you might respect her 
wishes. You know what she said about calling Ina 
a vamp." And Skeet drawled innocently, 

"That it hit too near the truth to be funny wasn t 
that it?" 

188 



THE TORN PAGE 189 

Through the open window had followed a half dozen 
more of the Blossom Festival crowd, Barbara and 
Bronson Vandeman among them. Ina paid no atten 
tion to any one, standing there, her height increased 
by the long, straight lines of the costume, her bisque 
doll features given a strange, pallid dignity by the raw 
magnificence of its crusted purple and crimson and 
green and gold embroidery and the dead black wig. 

"Isn t it an exquisite thing, Worth? displaying her 
self before him. "Bronse has a complete Mandarin 
costume; we lead the grand march as the emperor and 
empress of Mongolia. Don t you think it s a good 
idea?" 

"First rate." Worth spoke in his usual unexcited 
fashion, and it was difficult to say whether he meant 
the oriental idea or the appearance of the girl who 
stood before him. She came close and offered the 
cuff of one of her sleeves to show him the embroidery, 
lifting a delicate chin to display the jade buttons at 
the neck. 

Barbara over on the other side of the room refused 
to meet my eye. Mrs. Bo\vman, a big fur piece pulled 
up around her throat, shivered. I met half a dozen 
Santa Ysobel people whose names I ve forgotten. I 
could see that Bronson Vandeman socially took the 
lead here, that everybody looked to him. The room 
was a babel of talk, when a few minutes later the door 
bell rang in orthodox fashion, and Chung ushered 
Cummings in upon the general confusion. Some of 
the bunch knew and spoke to him; others didn t and 
had to be presented; it took the first of his time and 
attention. He only got a chance for one swipe at me, 
a low-toned, sarcastic, 



igo THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Made a mistake to duck me, Boyne." 

I didn t think it worth while to answer that. 
Presently I saw him standing with Barbara. He 
was evidently effecting a switch of his theater engage 
ment to the ball, for I heard Skeet s, 

"Mr. Cummings wants a ticket! He ll need two! 
Ten dollars, Mr. Cummings five apiece." 

"No, no Skeet," Barbara laughed embarrassedly. 
"Mr. Cummings was just joking. He ll not be here 
Saturday night." 

"I ll come back for it," hand in pocket. 

"It s a masquerade " Barbara hesitated. 

"Bring my costume with me from San Francisco." 

"I m not sure " again Barbara hesitated; Skeet 
cut in on her, 

"Why, Barbie Wallace! It s what you came to 
Santa Ysobel for the Bloss. Fes. ball. And to think 
of your getting a perfectly good man, right at the last 
minute this way, and not having to tag on to Bronse 
and Ina or something like that! I think you re the 
lucky girl," and she clutched Cummings offered pay 
ment to stow it with other funds she had collected. 

At last they got themselves out of the room and left 
us alone with Cummings. He had carried through 
his little deal with Barbara as though it meant con 
siderable to him, but I knew that his errand with 
Worth was serious, and put in quickly, 

"I intended to write or phone you to-morrow, Cum 
mings." 

"Well," the lawyer worked his mouth a bit under 
that bristly mustache and looked at Worth, "it might 
have saved you some embarrassment if you d been 
warned of my errand here to-night earlier, that is. 



THE TORN PAGE 191 

I suppose Captain Gilbert has told you that I phoned 
him, when I failed to connect with you, that I was 
coming here and what I was coming for?" 

"I didn t tell Jerry," Worth picked up a cigarette. 
"Couldn t very well tell him what you were coming 
for. Don t know myself." 

The words were blunt; really I think there was no 
intention to offend, only the simple statement of a 
fact ; but I could see Cummings beginning to simmer, 
as he inquired, 

"Does that mean you didn t understand my words on 
the phone, or that you understood them and couldn t 
make out what I meant by them?" 

"Little of both," allowed Worth. Cummings 
stepped close to him and let him have it direct: 

"I m here to-night, Captain Gilbert, as executor of 
your father s estate. I have filed the will to-day. I 
might have done so earlier, but when I inventoried this 
place (you remember, the day before the funeral 
you were here at the time) I failed to locate a consid 
erable portion of your father s estate." 

"You failed to locate? All the estate s here; this 
house, the down-town properties. What do you mean, 
failed to locate?" 

"I was not alluding to realty," said Cummings. 
"It s my duty to locate and report to the court the 
present whereabouts of seventy-five thousand dollars 
worth of stock in the Van Ness Avenue Savings Bank. 
Can you declare to me as executor, where it is ? And, 
if any other person than your father placed it in its 
present whereabouts, are you ready to declare to me 
how and when it came into that person s possession?" 

"Quite a lot of words, Cummings; but it doesn t 



192 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

mean anything," Worth said casually. "You know 
where that bank stock is and who put it there." 

Officially, I do not know. Officially, I demand to 
be told." 

"Unofficially, answer it for yourself." Worth 
turned his back on the lawyer to get a match from the 
mantel. 

"Very well. My answer is that I intend to find out 
how and when that bank stock which formed a part 
of your payment to the Van Ness Avenue bank dis 
appeared from this house." 

I admit I was scared. Here was the first gun of the 
coming battle; and I was sure this enemy, who stood 
now looking through half closed eyes at the lad s back, 
would have poisoned gas among his weapons. He 
had emphasized the "when." He believed that the 
stories of Worth s night visit to his father were true; 
that the implied denial by Barbara and myself in my 
office, was false; that Worth had either received the 
stock from his father that Saturday night or taken 
it unlawfully. I was sure that it was the stock cer 
tificates which I had seen Worth take from the safe- 
compartment of the sideboard in the small hours of 
Monday morning; a breach of legal form which it 
would be possible for a friendly executor to pass 
over. 

"Cummings, Worth inherits everything under his 
father s will; what s the difference about a small ir 
regularity in taking possession? He " 

"Never explain, Jerry," Worth shut me up. "Your 
friends don t need it, and your enemies won t believe 
it." 

Cummings had stood where he was since the first 



THE TORN PAGE 193 

of the interview. His face went strangely livid. 
There was more in this than a legal fight. 

"Yes, Boy ne s a fool to try to help your case with 
explanations, Gilbert," he choked out. "I ll see that 
both of you get a chance to answer questions elsewhere 
under oath. Good evening." He turned and left. 

He had the best of it all around. I endeavored for 
some time to get before Worth the dangers of his 
high-handed defiance of law, order, probate judges, 
and the court s officers, in the person of Allen G. 
Cummings, attorney and his father s executor. He 
listened, yawned and suggested that it must be nearly 
bedtime. I gave it up, and we went I, at least, with 
a sense of danger ahead upon me to our rooms. 

Along in the middle of the night I waked to the 
knowledge that a casement window was pounding 
somewhere in the house. For a while I lay and listened 
in that helpless, exaggerated resentment one feels at 
such a time. I d drop off, get nearly to sleep, only to 
be jerked broad awake again by the thudding. Lis 
tening carefully I decided that the bothersome window 
was in Worth s room, and finally I got up sense and 
spunk enough to roll out of bed, stick my feet into 
slippers, and sneak over with the intention of locking 
it. 

The room was dimly lighted from the street lamps, 
far away as they were; I made my way across it. 
Worth s deep, regular breathing was quite undisturbed. 
I had trouble with the catch, went and felt over the 
bureau and found his flashlight, fixed the window by 
its help, and returning it, remembering how near I 
came to knocking it off the bureau top, thought to put 
it in a drawer which stood half open. 



194 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

As I aimed it downward, its circle of illumination 
showed something projecting a corner from beneath 
the swirl of ties and sheaf of collars a book a red 
morocco-bound book. Mechanically I nudged the stuff 
away with the torch itself. What lay there turned me 
cold. It was the 1920 diary! 

My fingers relaxed ; the flashlight fell with a thump, 
as I let out an exclamation of dismay. A sleepy voice 
inquired from the bed, 

"Hi, you Jerry! What you up to in here?" 

For answer, I dragged out the book, went over to the 
bed, and switched on the reading lamp there. Worth 
scowled in the glare, and flung his arms up back of his 
head for a pillow to raise it a bit. 

"Yeah," blinking amiably at the volume. "Meant 
to tell you. Found it to-day when I was down in the 
repair pit at the garage. It had been stuck in the 
drainpipe there." 

"And I suppose," I said savagely, "that if I hadn t 
come onto it now, you d have burned this, too." 

"Don t get sore, Jerry," he said. "I saved it," and 
he yawned. 

I had an uncontrollable impulse to have a look at 
that last entry, which would record the bitter final 
quarrel between this boy and his father. No difficulty 
about finding the spot ; as I raised the book in my 
hands it fell open of itself at the place. I looked and 
what I saw choked me got cross-wise in my throat 
for a moment so no words could come out. I stuck 
the book under his nose, and held it there till I could 
whisper. 

"Worth, did you do this?" 

The last written page was numbered 49; on it was 



THE TORN PAGE 195 

recorded the date, March sixth; the weather, cloudy, 
clearing late in the afternoon; the fact that the sun had 
set red in a clgudless sky ; and it ended abruptly in the 
middle of a phrase. The leaf that carried page 50 had 
been torn out; not cut away carefully as were those 
leaves in the earlier book, but ripped loose, grabbed 
with clutching fingers that scarred and twisted the leaf 
below ! 

He shoved my hand away and stared at me. For a 
moment I thought everything was over. Certainly I 
could not be a very appealing sight, standing there 
sweating with fear, my hair all stuck up on my head 
where I d clawed it, shivering in my nightclothes more 
from miserable nervousness than from cold ; but some 
how those eyes of his softened ; he gave me one of the 
looks that people who care for Worth will go far to 
get, and said quietly, 

"You see what you re doing? I told you I didn t 
steal the book, so that clears me in your mind of being 
the murderer. Now you re after me about this torn- 
out page. If I d torn it out and stolen it you and I 
would know what it would mean." 

"But, boy ," I began, when he suffered a change of 
heart. 

"Get out of here ! Take that damn book and leave." 

He heaved himself over in the bed, hunching the 
covers about his ears, turning his back on me. As I 
crept away, I heard him finish in a sort of mutter as 
though to himself 

"I m sorry for you, Jerry Boyne." 



CHAPTE.R XIX 

ON THE HILL-TOP 

MORNING dawned on the good ship Jerry Boyne 
not so dismasted and rudderless as you might 
have thought. I d carried that 1920 diary to my room 
and, before I slept, read the whole of it. This was 
the last word we had from the dead man; here if any 
where would be found support for the suggestions of 
a weakening mind and suicide. 

Nothing of that sort here; on the contrary, Thomas 
Gilbert was very much his clear-headed, unpleasant, 
tyrannical self to the last stroke of the pen. But I 
came on something to build up a case against Eddie 
Hughes, the chauffeur. 

I didn t get much sleep. As soon as I heard Chung 
moving around, I went down, had him give me a cup 
of coffee, then stationed him on the back porch, and 
walked to the study, shut myself in, and discharged my 
heavy police revolver into a corner of the fireplace; 
then with the front door open, fired again. 

"How many shots?" I called to Chung. 

One time shoot." 

Worth s head poked from his upstair s window as he 
shouted, 

"What s the excitement down there?" 

"Trying my gun. How many times did I fire?" 

"Once, you crazy Indian!" and the question of 
sound-proof walls was settled. Nobody heard the 

196 



ON THE HILL-TOP 197 

shot that killed Gilbert twenty feet away from the 
study if the door was closed. Mrs. Thornhill s rav 
ings, as described in Skeet s letter to Barbara, were 
merely delirium. 

I walked out around the driveway to the early 
morning streets of Santa Ysobel. The little town 
looked as peaceful and innocent as a pan of milk. In 
an hour or so, its ways would be full of people rush 
ing about getting ready for the carnival, a curious 
contrast to my own business, sinister, tragic. It seemed 
to me that two currents moved almost as one, the 
hidden, dark part under for there must be those in 
the town who knew the crime was murder; the mur 
derer himself must still be here and the foam of 
noisy gayety and blossoms riding atop. A Blossom 
Festival; the boyhood of the year; and I was in the 
midst of it, hunting a murderer! 

An hour later I talked to Barbara in the stuffy 
little front room at Capehart s, brow-beaten by the 
noise of Sarah getting breakfast on the other side of 
the thin board partition ; more disconcerted by the girl s 
manner of receiving the information of how I had 
found the 1920 diary hidden in Worth s bureau 
drawer. There was a swift, very personal anger at 
me. I had to clear myself instantly and thoroughly 
of any suspicion of believing for a moment that Worth 
himself had stolen or mutilated the book, protesting, 

"I don t I don t! Listen, Barbara be reason 
able!" 

"That means Barbara, be scared! And I won t. 
When they re scared, people make mistakes." 

"You might see differently if you d been there last 
night when Cummings made his charge against Worth. 



198 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

That seventy two thousand dollars Worth carried up 
to the city Monday morning, he had taken from his 
father s safe the night before." 

For a minute she just looked at me, and not even 
Worth Gilbert s dare-devil eyes ever held a more in 
clusively defiant light than those big, soft, dark ones 
of hers. 

"Well wasn t it his?" 

"All right," I said shortly. "I m not here to talk 
of Worth s financial methods ; they re scheduled to get 
him into trouble; but let that pass. Look through 
this book and you ll see who it is I m after." 

She had already opened the volume, and began to 
glance along the pages. She made a motion for me 
to wait. I leaned back in my chair, and it was only 
a few moments later that she looked up to say, 

"Don t make the arrest, Mr. Boyne. You have 
nothing here against Eddie for murder." 

Because I doubted myself, I began to scold, wind 
ing up, 

"All the same, if that gink hasn t jumped town, 
I ll arrest him." 

"It would be a good deal more logical to arrest 
him if he had jumped the town," Barbara reminded 
me. "If you really want to see him, Mr. Boyne, 
you ll find him at the garage around on the highway. 
He s working for Bill." 

That was a set-back. A fleeing Eddie Hughes 
might have been hopeful ; an Eddie Hughes who gave 
his employer back-talk, got himself fired, and then 
settled down within hand-reach, was not so good a 
bet. Barbara saw how it hit me, and offered a sug 
gestion. 



ON THE HILL-TOP 199 

"Mr. Boyne, Worth and I are taking a hike out to 
San Leandro canyon this afternoon to get ferns for 
the decorating committee. Suppose you come along 
anyhow, a part of the way and have a quiet talk, 
all alone with us. Don t do anything until you have 
consulted Worth." 

"All right I ll go you/ I assented, and half past 
two saw the three of us, Worth in corduroys and 
puttees, Barbara with high boots and short, dust- 
brown skirt, tramping out past the homes of people 
toward the open country. At the Vandeman place 
Skeet s truck was out in front, piled with folding 
chairs, frames, light lumber, and a lot of decorative 
stuff. The tall Chinaman came from the house with 
another load. 

"You Barbie Wallace !" the flapper howled. "Aren t 
you ashamed to be walking off with Worth and Mr. 
Boyne both, and good men scarce as hen s teeth in 
Santa Ysobel to-day!" 

"I m not walking off with them they re walking 
off with me," Barbara laughed at her. 

"Shameless one!" Skeet drawled. "I see you let 
Mr. Cummings have a day off aren t you the kind 
little boss to em!" 

I just raised my brows at Barbara, and she explained 
a bit hastily, 

"Skeet thinks she has to be silly over the fact that 
Mr. Cummings has gone up to town, I suppose." 
She added with fine indifference, "He ll be back in 
the morning." 

"You bet he ll be back in the morning," Worth 
assured the world. 

"Now what does he mean by that, Mr. Boyne?" 



200 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"He means Cummings is out after him." 

"I don t," Worth contradicted me personally. "I 
mean he s after Bobs. She knows it. Look at her." 

She glanced up at me from under her hat-brim, all 
the stars out in those shadowy pools that were her 
eyes. The walk had brought sumptuous color to her 
cheeks, where the two extra deep dimples began to 
show. 

"You both may think," she began with a sobriety 
that belied the dimples and shining eyes, "looking on 
from the outside, that Mr. Cummings has an idea 
of, as Skeet would say, rushing me; but when we re 
alone together, about all he talks of is Worth." 

"Bad sign," Worth flung over a shoulder that he 
pushed a little in advance of us. "Takes the old 
fellows that way. Their notion of falling for a girl 
is to fight all the other Johnnies in sight. Guess 
you ve got him going, Bobs." 

I walked along, chewing over the matter. She d 
estimated Cummings fairly, as she did most things 
that she turned that clear mind of hers on; but her 
lack of vanity kept her from realizing, as I did, that 
he was in the way to become a dangerous personal 
enemy to Worth. His self-interest, she thought, would 
eventually swing him to Worth s side. She didn t as 
yet perceive that a motive more powerful than self- 
interest had hold of him now. 

"Why, Mr. Boyne," she answered as though I d 
been speaking my thoughts aloud, "I ve known Mr. 
Cummings for years and years. He never " 

"You said a mouthful there, Bobs." Worth halted, 
grinning, to interrupt her. "He never none what 
ever. But he has now." 



ON THE HILL-TOP 201 

"He hasn t/ 

"Leave it to Jerry. Jerry saw him that first night 
in at Tait s; then afterward, in the office." 

"Oh, come on!" Barbara started ahead impa 
tiently. "What difference would it make." 

They went on ahead of me, scrapping briskly, as 
a boy and girl do who have grown up together. I 
stumped along after and reflected on the folly of man 
kind in general, and that of Allen G. Cummings in 
particular. That careful, mature bachelor had seen 
this lustrous young creature blossom to her present 
perfection; he d no doubt offered her safe and sane 
attention, when she came to 1 live in San Francisco 
where they had friends in common. But it had needed 
Worth Gilbert s appearance on the scene to wake him 
up to his own real feeling. Forty-five on the chase 
of nimble sweet and twenty; Cummings was in for 
sore feet and humiliating tumbles and we were in 
for the worst he could do to us. I sighed. Worth 
had more than one way of making enemies, it seemed. 

At last we came in sight of the country club upon 
its rise of ground overlooking the golf links. The 
low, brown clubhouse, built bungalow fashion, with a 
long front gallery and gravel sweep, was swarming 
with people the decorators. Motors came and went. 
The grounds were being strung with paper lanterns. 
We skirted these, and the links itself where there were 
two or three players, obstinate, defiant old men who 
would have their game in spite of forty blossom fes 
tivals climbed a fence, and crossed the grass up to 
the crest of a little round hill, halting there for the 
view. It wasn t high, but standing free as it did, 
it commanded pretty nearly the entire Santa Ysobel 



202 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

district. Massed acres of pink and white, the great 
orchards ran one into the other without break for 
miles. The lanes between the trunks, diamonded like 
a harlequin s robe in mathematical primness, were 
newly turned furrows of rich, black soil, against which 
the gray or, sometimes, whitewashed trunks of apricot, 
peach and plum trees gave contrast. Then the cap of 
glorious blossoms, meeting overhead in the older or 
chards, with a warm blue sky above and puffs of 
clouds that matched the pure white of the plum trees 
bloom. 

The spot suited me well; we had left the town be 
hind us; here neither Dykeman s spotter nor any one 
he hired to help him could get within listening distance, 
I dropped down on a bank; Worth and Barbara dis^ 
posed themselves, he sprawling his length, she sitting 
cross-legged, just below him. 

It wasn t easy to make a beginning. I knew it 
wouldn t do me any particular good with Worth to 
dwell on his danger. But I finally managed to lay 
fairly before them my case against Eddie Hughes, and 
I must say that, as I told it, it sounded pretty strong. 

I didn t want to put too much stress on having 
found my evidence in the diaries ; I knew Worth was 
as obstinate as a mule, and having said that he would 
not stand for any one being prosecuted on their evi 
dence, he d stick to it till the skies fell. I called on 
my memory of those pages, now unfortunately ashes 
and not get-atable, and explained that Worth s father 
hired Hughes directly after a jail-break at San Jose 
had roused the whole country. Three of the four 
escapes were rounded up in the course of a few days, 
but the fourth known to us as Eddie Hughes was 



ON THE HILL-TOP 203 

safe in Thomas Gilbert s garage, working there as 
chauffeur, having been employed without recommen 
dation on the strength of what he could do. 

"And the low wages he was willing to take," Worth 
put in drily. "Old stuff, Jerry. I wasn t sure till 
you spilled it just now that my father was wise to 
it But I knew. What you getting at?" 

"Just this. When I talked to Hughes that first 
night I came down here with you, while we all sup 
posed the death a suicide, he couldn t keep his resent 
ment against your father, his hatred of him, from 
boiling over every time he was mentioned." 

"Get on," said W T orth wearily. "Father hired a 
jail-bird that came cheap. Probably put it to him 
self that he was giving the man a chance to go 
straight." 

I glanced up. This was just about what I remem 
bered Thomas Gilbert to have said in the entry that 
told of the hiring of Eddie. Worth nodded grimly 
at my startled face. 

"Eddie s gone straight since then/ he filled in. 
"That is, he s kept out of jail, which is going straight 
for Eddie. He d certainly hate the man who held him 
as he s been held for five years. Not motive enough 
for murder though." 

"There s more. The 1920 diary you gave me last 
night tells when and why the extra bolts were put on 
the study doors. Your father had been missing 
liquor and cigars and believed Hughes was taking 
them." 

"Pilfering!" with an expression of distaste. "That 
doesn t " 

"Hold on!" I stopped him. "On February twelfth 



204 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

your father left money, marked coin and paper money, 
as if by accident, on the top of the liquor cabinet; 
not exposed, but dropped in under the edge of the 
big ash tray so it might look as though it were for 
gotten in a sense, lost there." 

"How much?" came the quick question. 

"Fifty one dollars/ He looked around at me. 

"Just one dollar above the limit of petty larceny; 
a hundred cents added to put it in the felony class 
that meant state s prison. So he could have sent 
Eddie to the pen, eh? I guess you ve got a motive 
there, Boyne." 

"Well er I squirmed over my statement, 
blurting out finally. "Hughes didn t take the money." 

"Knew it was a trap," Worth s laugh w T as bitter. 
"And hated the man who cold-bloodedly set it to catch 
him. If he didn t take it, don t you think he counted 
it?" 

"Worth," I said sharply. "Your father put those 
bolts on and continued to find that he was being 
robbed. He was mad about it. Any man would be. 
Say what you will, no one likes to find that persons 
in his employ are stealing from him. The aggravat 
ing thing was that he couldn t bring it home to 
Hughes, though he was sure of the fact." 

"So he went back to what he had known of Eddie 
when he hired him? After profiting by it for five 
years, he was going to rake that up?" 

"He was," a bit nettled "and well within his 
rights to do so. Three weeks before he was shot, he 
wrote that he d started the inquiry. There was no 
further mention of the matter in the book as it stands, 
but don t you see that the result of the inquiry must 



ON THE HILL-TOP 205 

have been on that torn-out last page? Eddie s Sat 
urday night alibi won t hold water. His cannery girl, 
of course, will swear he \vas with her; but there s no 
corroborating testimony. No one saw them together 
from nine till twelve." 

Dead silence dropped on us, with the white clouds 
standing like witnesses in the blue above, the wind 
bringing now and again on its scented wings little 
faint echoes of the noise down at the clubhouse. 

"What more do you want?" Both young faces 
were set against me, cold and hostile. "Here was 
motive, opportunity, a suspect capable of the deed. 
My theory is that Mr. Gilbert came in on Hughes, 
caught him in the act of stealing from the cabinet. 
Hughes jumped for the pistol over the fireplace, got 
it, fired the fatal shot, and placed the dead man s 
fingers about the butt of the gun. Then he picked 
up the diary lying on the table, tore out the leaf about 
himself, and poked the rest of the book down the 
drain pipe." 

"And the shot?" Worth resisted me. "Why didn t 
the shot bring Chung on the run?" 

"Because he couldn t hear it. Nobody d hear it ten 
paces away. That s what I was trying out this morn 
ing. You told me I d fired once. Well, I fired twice; 
once with the door shut, and neither you nor Chung 
heard it; afterward, with the door open the report 
you registered." 

"The blotter and it had been used on that last 
page showed no words to strengthen this theory of 
yours," said Barbara as confidently as though the 
little blue square had been clear print, instead of 
broken blurring. Perhaps it was clear to her. I was 



206 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

glad I d given it a thorough reexamination the night 
before. 

"I think it does," I struggled against the tide, man 
fully, buoying myself up with the tracing of the blot 
ter. "Here s the word demanded, reasonably con 
nected with the affair. The letters Her may be the 
last end of caller, or possibly fuller ; I noticed Gilbert 
spoke in a former entry of the bottle in the cabinet 
and Hughes snitching from it, and used the word 
fuller. Here s the word Avenue, complete, and 
Lizzie Watkins, Hughes girl, lives on Myrtle Av 
enue." 

The silence after that was fairly derisive. Worth 
broke it with an impatient, 

"And the fact of the bolted doors throws all that 
stuff out." 

"Well," I grunted, "Barbara deduced the slipping 
of some bolts to please you once why can t she 
again?" 

"Mr. Boyne," the girl spoke quickly, "it wouldn t 
help you a bit to be assured that Eddie Hughes could 
enter the study and leave it bolted behind him when 
he went out help you to the truth, I mean. These 
facts you ve gathered are all wabbly; they ll never 
in the world fit in trim and true. They re hardly 
facts at all. They re partial facts." 

"Wouldn t help me?" I ejaculated. "It would 
cinch a case against him. We ve got to have some 
one in jail, and that shortly. We re forced to." 

"Forced?" Worth had sat up a little and reached 
far forward for a stone that lay among the weeds 
down there. He spoke to me sidewise with a challeng- 



ON THE HILL-TOP 207 

ing flicker of the eye. Barbara kept her lips tight 
shut. 

"I need a prisoner," trying to correct my error; 
then burst out, "My Lord, children! An arrest isn t 
going to hurt a man like Hughes, even if he proves 
to be innocent. It s an old story to him. Barbara, 
you said yourself that the man who stole the 1920 
diary was the murderer." 

"But I didn t say Eddie Hughes stole it." Her 
tone was significant, and it checked me. I couldn t 
remember what thei deuce she had said that night. 
There recurred to me her mimicry of a woman s voice 
Laura Bowman s as I believed to determine through 
Chung who Thomas Gilbert s feminine visitor had 
been. Should that clue have been followed up before 
I moved on Eddie Hughes? Even as I got to this 
point, I heard Worth, punctuating his remarks with 
the whang of his rock on the bit of twig he was 
pounding to pieces, 

"Boyne, I won t stand for any arrest being made 
except in all sincerity the person you honestly believe 
to be the criminal." 

"Does that mean you forbid me, in so many words, 
to proceed against Hughes on what I ve got? 

"It does," Worth said. "You re not convinced 
yourself. Leave it alone." 

" Nough said! 1 I jumped to my feet. If he 
wouldn t let me lay hands on Hughes there was 
nothing to do but go after the next one. "You two 
run along. Get your ferns. There s a man at the 
club here I have to see." 

Barbara was afoot instantly; Worth lay looking at 



208 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

her for a moment, then heaved himself up, shook his 
shoulders, and stood beside her. 

"Race you to the foot of the hill," she flashed up 
at him. 

"You re on/ he chuckled. "I ll give you a running 
start to the tree down there and beat you." 

They were off. She ran like a deer. Worth got 
away as though he was in earnest. He caught her up 
just at the finish ; I couldn t see which won ; but they 
walked a few rods hand in hand. 

Something swelled in my throat as I watched them 
away: life s springtime and the year s; boy and girl 
running, like kids that had never known a fear or a 
mortal burden, over an earth greener than any other, 
because its time of verdure is brief, dreaming already 
of the golden-tan of California midsummer, under 
boughs where tree blooms made all the air sweet. 

For sake of the boy and the girl who didn t know 
enough to take care of their own happiness, I wheeled 
and galloped in the direction of the country club. 

There, is an institution known and respected in 
police circles as the Holy Scare. I was determined to 
make use of it. I d throw a holy scare into a man I 
knew, and see what came out. 



CHAPTER XX 

AT THE COUNTRY CLUB 

THE country club, when I walked up its lawn, 
was noisy with the hammering and jawing of 
its decoration committee. Out in the glass belvedere, 
like superior goods on display, taking it easy while 
every one else worked, I saw a group of young matrons 
of the smart set, Ina Vandeman among them, drink 
ing tea. The open play she was making at Worth 
troubled me a little. He was the silent kind that keeps 
you guessing. She d landed him once; what was to 
hinder her being successful with the same tactics 
whatever they d been a second time? 

Then I saw Edwards car was still out in the big, 
crescent driveway, showing by the drift of twigs and 
petals on its running board that it had been used to 
bring in tree blooms from his ranch; the man himself 
crossed the veranda, and I hailed, 

"Any place inside where you and I could have a 
private word together? * 

"I I think so, Boyne," he hesitated. "Come on 
back here. 

He led me straight across the big assembly room 
which was being trimmed for the ball. From the top 
of a stepladder, Skeet Thomhill yelled to us, 

"Where you two going? Come back here, and get 
on the job." 

She had a dozen noisy assistants. I waved at her 

209 



210 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

from the further door as we ducked. Strange that 
honest, sound little thing should be own sister to the 
doll-faced vamp out there in the showcase. 

Edwards made for a little writing room at the end 
of a corridor. I followed his long, nervous stride. 
If the man had been goaded to the shooting of 
Thomas Gilbert, it would have been an act of passion, 
and by passion he would betray himself. When I 
had him alone, the door shut, I went to it, told him we 
knew the death was murder, not suicide, and that the 
crime had been committed early Saturday night. Be 
fore I could connect him with it, he broke in on me, 

"Is Worth suspected? * 

"Not by me," I said. "And by God, not by you, 
Edwards! You know better than that." 

I held his eye, but read nothing beyond what might 
have been the flare of quick anger for the boy s sake. 

"Who then?" he said. "Who s dared to lisp a, 
word like that? That hound Cummings chasing 
around Santa Ysobel with Bowman is that where it 
comes from? I. told Worth the fellow was knifing 
him in the back." He began to stride up and down 
the room. "The boy s got other friends that ll go 
their length for him. I m with him till hell freezes 
over. You can count on me " 

"Exactly what I wanted to find out," I cut in, so 
significantly that he whirled at the end of his beat and 
stared. 

"Meaning?" 

"Meaning you are the one man who could clear 
Worth Gilbert of all suspicion." 

"What do you know?" 

The big voice had come down to a mere whisper. 



AT THE COUNTRY CLUB 211 

Plenty of passion now a passion of terror. I spoke 
quickly. 

"We know you were in the study that night, with a 
companion," and I piled out the worst of his affair, as 
I d read it in the diaries, winding up, 

"Plain what brought you there. Quarrel? Mo 
tive? Don t need to look any further." 

Before I \vas done Jim Edwards had groped over 
to a chair and slumped into it. A queer, toneless 
voice asked, 

"Worth sent you to me a detective with this?" 

"No," I said. "I m acting on my own." 

"And against his will," it came back instantly. 

"What of it?" I demanded. "Are you the cow 
ard to take advantage of his sense of honor? to let 
his generosity cost him his life?" 

"His life." That landed. Watching, I saw the 
struggle that tore him. He jumped up and started 
toward me; I hadn t much doubt that I was now go 
ing to hear a plea for mercy a confession, of sorts 
as he stopped, dropped his head, and stood scowl 
ing at the floor. 

"Talk," I said. "Spill it. Now s your time." 

He raised his eyes to mine and spoke suddenly. 

"Boyne I have nothing to say." 

"And Worth Gilbert can hang and be damned to 
him is that it?" I took another step toward him. 
"No, Edwards, that nothing to say stuff won t go in 
a court of law. It won t get you anywhere." 

"They ll never in the world try Worth for that 
killing." 

"I m expecting his arrest any hour." 

"A trial! Those cursed diaries of Tom s brought 



212 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

into court My God! I believe if I d known he d 
written things like that, I could have killed him for it !" 

I stared. He had forgotten me. But at this speech 
I mentally dropped him for the moment, and fastened 
my suspicions on the woman who went with him to the 
study. 

"All right," I said brutally. "You didn t kill 
Thomas Gilbert. But you took Mrs. Bowman to the 
study that night to have it out with him, and get six 
pages from the 1916 book. She got em and you 
know what she had to do to get em." 

"Hold on, Boyne!" he said sternly. "Don t you 
talk like that to me." 

"Well," I said, "Mrs. Bowman; was there after 
those diary leaves. I heard Barbara Wallace imitate 
her voice and Chung recognized the imitation. You 
know that night at the study the first night." 

He took a bewildered moment or two for thought, 
then broke out, 

"It wasn t Laura s voice Barbara imitated. Did 
she say so?" 

"No, but she imitated the voice of a woman who 
came weeping to get those pages from the diary; and 
who else would that be? Who else would want 
them?" 

"You re off the track, Boyne," he drew a great, 
shuddering sigh of relief. "Tom was always playing 
the tyrant to those about him ; no doubt some woman 
did come crying for that stuff but it wasn t Laura." 

"By Heaven !" I exclaimed as I looked at him. "You 
know who it was! You recognized the voice that 
night but the woman isn t one you re interested in." 

"I m interested in all women, so far as their getting 



AT THE COUNTRY CLUB 213 

a decent show in the world is concerned," he main 
tained sturdily. "I d go as far as any man to defend 
the good name of a woman whether I thought much 
of her or not." 

"This other woman," I argued, not any too keen 
on such a job myself, "hasn t she got some man to 
speak for her?" 

Edwards looked at me innocently. 

"She didn t have, then " he began, and I finished 
for him, 

"But she has now. I ve got it!" As I jumped up 
and hurried to the door, his eyes followed me in 
wonder. There I turned with, "Stay right where you 
are. I ll be back in a minute," ducked out into the 
hall and signaled a passing messenger, then stepped 
quickly back into the writing room and said, "I ve 
sent for Bronson Vandeman." 

He settled deeper in his chair with, 

"I ll stay and see it out. If you get anything from 
Vandeman, I miss my guess." 



CHAPTER XXI 

A MATTER OF TASTE 

UPON our few moments of strained waiting, Van- 
deman breezed in, full of apologies for his shirt 
sleeves. I remember noticing the monogram worked 
on the left silken arm, the fit and swing of immaculate 
trousers, as smoothly modeled to the hip as a girl s 
gown; his ever smiling face; the slightly exaggerated 
way he wiped fingers already clean on a handkerchief 
pulled from a rear pocket. He was the only uncon 
strained person in the room; he hardly looked sur 
prised; his glance was merely inquiring. Edwards 
apparently couldn t stand it. He jumped up and 
began his characteristic pacing of one end of the 
constricted place, jerking out as he walked, 

"Bronse, it s my fault that Boyne sent for you. 
He s working on this trouble of Worth s, you know. 
He s had me in here, grilling me, shaking me over 
hell; and something I said God knows why sent 
him after you." 

"Trouble of Worth s !" Vandeman had been about 
to sit; his half bent knees straightened out again; he 
stood beside the chair and spoke irritably. "Told you, 
Boyne, if you meddled with that coroner s verdict 
you d get your employer in the devil of a tight place. 
Nobody had any reason for wanting Worth s father 
out of the way except Worth, himself. Frankly, 

214 



A MATTER OF TASTE 215 

I think you re wrong. But everything that I can do 
of course " 

"All right," I said, letting it fly at him. "Where 
was your wife from seven to half past nine on the 
evening of Gilbert s murder?" 

Back went his head; out flashed all the fine teeth; 
the man laughed in my face. 

"Excuse me, Mr. Boyne. I understand that this 
is serious nothing funny about it but really, you 
know, recalling the date, what you ve said is amusing. 
My dear man," he went on as I stared at him, "please 
remember, yourself, where Ina was on that particular 
evening." 

"The wedding and reception were done with by 
seven o clock," I objected. This ground was familiar 
with me. I d been over it in considering what op 
portunity Laura Bowman would have had for a call 
on Thomas Gilbert at the required hour. If she could 
slip away for it, why not Ina Vandeman? As though 
he read my thoughts and answered them, Vandeman 
filled in, 

"A bride, you know, is dead certain to have at least 
half a dozen persons with her every minute of the 
time until she leaves the house on her wedding trip. 
Ina did, I m sure. We ll just call her in, and she ll 
give you their names." 

He was up and starting to bring her ; I stopped him. 

"We ll not bother with those names just new. I d 
rather have you or Mrs. Vandeman tell me what 
you suppose would be the entry in Thomas Gilbert s 
diary for May 31 and June i, 1916. I have already 
identified it as the date on which the Bowmans first 
moved into the Wallace house. I think Mr. Edwards 



216 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

knows something more, but he s not so communicative 
as you promise to be." 

He looked as if he wished he hadn t been so liberal 
with his assurances. I saw him glance half sulkily 
at Edwards, as he exclaimed, 

"But those diaries are burned they re burned. 
Worth told us the other night that he burned them 
without reading." 

At the words, Edwards stopped stock-still, some 
thing almost humorous at the back of the suffering 
gaze he fastened on my face. I met it steadily, then 
answered Vandeman, 

"Doesn t make any difference to anybody that those 
books are burned. I d read them; I know what was 
in them; and I know that three leaves six pages- 
covering the entries of May 31 and June I, 1916, 
were cut out." 

"But what the deuce, Boyne?" Vandeman wrinkled 
a smooth brow. "What would some leaves gone from 
Mr. Gilbert s diary four years ago have to do with 
us here to-day or even with his recent death?" 

"Pardon me," I said shortly. "The matter s not as 
old as that. True, the stuff was written four years 
ago; it recorded happenings on those dates; but the 
ink that was used in marking out a run-over on the 
next following page was fresh. Anyhow, Mr. Van 
deman, we know that a woman came weeping to Mr. 
Gilbert on the very night of his death, only a short 
time before his death as nearly as medical science 
can determine that and we believe that she came after 
those leaves out of the diary, and got them what 
ever she had to do to secure them." 



A MATTER OF TASTE 217 

I was struck with the difference in the way these 
two men took inquiry. Edwards had writhed, changed 
color, started to speak and caught himself back, 
showed all the agony of a clumsy criminal who dreads 
the probing that may give him away : temperament ; 
the rotten spot in his affairs. Vandeman, younger, 
not entangled with an unhappy married woman, sat 
looking me in the eye, still smiling. The blow I had 
to deal him would be harder. It concerned his bride; 
but he d take punishment well. I proceeded to let him 
have it. 

"I can see that Mr. Edwards has an idea what the 
entries on those pages covered. He has inadvertently 
shown me that your wife was the woman who came 
and got them from Thomas Gilbert on the night he 
was murdered." 

At that he turned on Edwards, and Edwards an 
swered the look with, 

"I didn t. On my honor, Bronse, I never men 
tioned your name or Ina s. The Chinaman told him 
that about some woman coming that evening " 

"Mr. Vandeman," I broke in, "there s no use beat 
ing about the bush. Chung recognized your wife s 
voice. She was the woman who came weeping to get 
those diary leaves." 

He took that with astonishing quietness, and, 

"Suppose you were shown that she wasn t out of 
her mother s house?" 

"Wouldn t stop me. Allow that her alibi s perfect. 
Yet you men have something. There s something 
here I ought to know." 

"Something you ll never find out from me," Jim 



218 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

Edwards deep voice was full of defiance. "Bronse, 
I owe you an apology; but you can depend on me to 
keep my mouth shut." 

After a minute s consideration Vandeman said, 

"I don t know why we should any of us keep our 
mouths shut." 

Jim Edwards looked utterly bewildered as the man 
sat there, thinking the thing over, glanced up pleas 
antly at me and suggested, 

"Edwards has a little different slant on this from 
me. I don t know why I shouldn t state to you ex 
actly what happened right there in Gilbert s study 
on the date you mentioned." 

"Oh, there did something unusual happen; and 
you ve just remembered it." 

"There did something unusual happen, and I ve 
just remembered it, aided thereto by your questions 
and Edwards queer looks. Cheer up, old man; we 
haven t all got your southern chivalry. From a plain, 
commonsense point of view, what I have to tell is not 
in the least to my wife s discredit. In fact, I m proud 
of her all the way through." 

Jim Edwards came suddenly and nervously to his 
feet, strode to the further corner of the room and sat 
down at as great a distance from Vandeman as its 
dimensions would permit. He turned his face to the 
small window there, and through all that Vandeman 
said, kept up a steady, maddening tattoo with his 
fingernails on the sill. 

"This has to do with what I told you the first night 
I ever talked with you, Boyne. You thre\v doubt on 
Thomas Gilbert s death being suicide. I gave as a 



A MATTER OF TASTE 219 

reason for my belief that it was, a knowledge and 
conviction that the man s mind was unhinged." 

Edwards tattoo at the window ceased for a minute. 
He stared, startled, at the speaker, then went back to 
it, and Vandeman proceeded, 

"I m not telling Jim Edwards anything he doesn t 
know, and what I say to you, Boyne, that s discredit 
able to the dead, I can t avoid. Here it is: on the 
evening of June first, 1916, I had dinner alone at 
home. You ll find, if you look at an old calendar, 
that it falls on a Sunday. Jim Edwards had dined 
informally at the Thornhills . As he told it to me 
later, they were all sitting out on the side porch after 
dinner, and nobody noticed that Ina wasn t with them 
until they heard cries coming from somewhere over 
in the direction of the Gilbert place. At my house, 
I d heard it. and we both ran for the garage, where 
the screams were repeated again and again. We got 
there about the same time, found the disturbance was 
in the study, and Edwards who \vas ahead of me 
rushed up and hammered on its door." 

Again Jim Edwards stopped the nervous drumming 
of his fingers on the window-sill while he stared at the 
younger man as at some prodigy of nature. Finally 
he seemed unable to hold in any longer. 

"Hammered on the door!" he repeated. "If you re 
going to turn out the whole damn thing to Boyne, 
tell it straight ; door was open ; we couldn t have heard 
a yip out of Ina if it hadn t been. Tom there in full 
sight, sitting in his desk chair, cool as a cucumber, 
letting her scream." 

"I m telling this," Vandeman snapped. "Gilbert 



220 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

looked to me like an insane man. Jim, you re crazy 
as he was, to say anything else. Never supposed for 
a minute you thought otherwise that poor girl there, 
dazed with fright, backed as far away from him as she 
could get, hair flying, eyes wild." 

I looked from one to the other. What Edwards had 
said of the cold, contemptuous old man; what Van- 
deman told of the screaming girl; no answer to such 
a proposition of course but an attempted frame-up. 
To let the bridegroom get by would best serve my 
purpose. 

"All right, gentlemen," I said. "And now could 
you tell me what action you took, on this state of 
affairs?" 

"Action?" Vandeman gave me an uneasy look. 
"What was there to do? Told you I thought the 
man was crazy." 

"And you, Edwards?" 

"Let it go as Bronse says. I cut back to Mrs. 
Thornhill s, scouting to see what the chance was for 
getting Ina in without the family knowing anything." 

"That s right," Vandeman said. "I stayed to fetch 
her. She was fine. To the last, she let Gilbert save 
his face actually send her home as though she were 
the one to blame. Right then I knew I loved her 
wanted her for my wife. On the way home, I asked 
her and was accepted." 

"In spite of the fact that she was engaged to Worth 
Gilbert?" 

"Boyne," he said impatiently, "what s the matter 
with you? Haven t I made you understand what 
happened there at the study? She had to break off 



A MATTER OF TASTE 221 

with the son of a man like that. Ina Thornhill 
couldn t marry into such a breed." 

"Slow up, Vandeman!" Edwards tone was soft, 
but when I looked at him, I saw a tawny spark in his 
black eyes. Vandeman fronted him with the flam 
boyant embroidered monogram on his shirt sleeve, 
the carefully careless tie, the utterly good clothes, and, 
most of all, at the moment, the smug satisfaction in 
his face of social and human security. I thought of 
what that Frenchman says about there being nothing 
so enjoyable to us as the troubles of our friends. 
"Needn t think you can put it all over the boy when 
he s not here to defend himself jump on him because 
he s down! Tell that your wife discarded him cast 
him off for disgraceful reasons! Damnitall! You 
and I both heard Tom giving her her orders to break 
with his son, she sniffling and hunting hairpins over 
the floor and promising that she would." 

"Cut it out!" yelled Vandeman, as though some 
one had pinched him. "I saw nothing of the sort. 
I heard nothing of the sort. Neither did you. 

I think they had forgotten me, and that they remem 
bered at about the same instant that they were talking 
before a detective. They both turned, mum and star 
tled looking, Edwards to his window, Vandeman to 
a nervous brushing of his trouser edges, from which 
he looked up, inquiring doubtfully, 

"What next, Boyne? Jim s excited; but you un 
derstand that there s no animus; and my wife and I 
are entirely at your disposal in this matter." 

"Thank you," I said. 

"Would you like to* talk to her?" 



222 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"I would." 
"When?" 

"Now." 

"Where?" 

"Here or let the lady say." 

Vandeman gave me a queer look and went out. 
When he was gone, I found Jim Edwards scrabbling 
for his hat where it had dropped over behind the desk. 
I put my back against the door and asked, 

"Is Bronson Vandeman a fatuous fool; or does he 
take me for one?" 

"Some men defend their women one way, and some 
another. Let me out of this, Boyne, before that girl 
gets here." 

"She won t come in a hurry," I smiled. "Her hus 
band s pretty free with his promises; but more than 
likely I ll have to go after her if I want her." 

"Well?" he looked at me uncomfortably. 

"Blackmail s a crime, you know, Edwards. A 
woman capable of it, might be capable of murder." 

"YouVe got the wrong word there, Boyne. This 
wasn t exactly blackmail." 

"What, then?" 

"The girl I never liked her never thought she 
was good enough for Worth but she was engaged to 
him, and in this I think she was fighting for her 
hand." 

He searched my face and went on cautiously, 

"You read the diaries. They must have had com 
plaints of her." 

"They had," I assented. 

"Anything about money ?" 

I shook my head. 



A MATTER OF TASTE 223 

"You said there were two entries gone; the first 
would have told you, I suppose Before we go further, 
Boyne, let me make a little explanation to you for the 
girl s sake." 

"Shoot," I said. 

"It was this way," he sighed. "Thornhill, Ina s 
father, made fifteen or twenty thousand a year I would 
say, and the family lived it up. He had a stroke and 
died in a week s time. Left Mrs. Thornhill with her 
daughters, her big house, her fine social position and 
mighty little to keep it up on. Ina is the eldest. She 
got the worst of it, because at the first of her being a 
young lady she was used to having all the money she 
wanted to spend. The twins were right on her heels ; 
the thing for her to do was to make a good marriage, 
and make it quick. But she got engaged to Worth; 
then he went to France. There you were. He 
might never come back. Tom always hated her; 
watched her like a hawk; got onto something she 
about" 

"Out with it," I said. "What? Come down to 



cases." 



"Money." He uttered the one word and stood 
silent. 

I made a long shot, with, 

"Mr. Gilbert found she d been getting money from 
other men " 

"Borrowing, Boyne they used the word bor 
rowed/ " Edwards put in. "It was always Tom s way 
to summon people as though he had a little private 
judgment bar, haul them up and lecture them; I 
suppose he thought he had a special license in her 



224 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"And she went prepared to frame him and bluff 
him to a standoff. Is that the way you saw it ?" 

"My opinion what I might think," said Mr. James 
Edwards of Sunnyvale ranch, "wouldn t be testimony 
in a court of law. You don t want it, Boyne." 

"Maybe not," I grunted. "Perhaps I could make 
as good a guess as you could at what young Mrs. Van- 
deman s capable of; a dolly face, and behind it the 
courage of hell." 

"Boyne," he said, as I left the door free to him, 
"quit making war on women." 

"Can t," I grinned and waved him on out. "The 
detective business would be a total loss without em." 



CHAPTER XXII 

A DINNER INVITATION 

44 T OOK what s after you, man," Skeet warned me 
L/ from her lofty perch as I went out through the 
big room in quest of Ina Vandeman. "Better you 
stay here. I gif you a yob. Lots safer only run 
the risk of getting your neck broken." 

I grinned up into her jolly, freckled face, and waited 
for the woman who came toward me with that elastic, 
swinging movement of hers, the well-opened eyes 
studying me, keeping all their secrets behind them. 

"Mr. Boyne, a hand on my arm guided me to a 
side door; we stepped together out on to a small bal 
cony that led to the lawn. "My husband brought me 
your message. Nobody over by the tennis court; 
let s go and walk up and down there." 

Her fingers remained on my sleeve as we moved off ; 
she emphasized her points from time to time by a slight 
pressure. 

"Such a relief to have a man like you in charge of 
this investigation." She gave me an intimate smile; 
tall as she was, her face was almost on a level with 
my own, yet I still found her eyes unreadable, none of 
those quick tremors under the skin that register the 
emotions of excitable humanity. She remained a 
handsome, perfectly groomed, and entirely unruffled 
young woman. 

"Thank you," was all I said. 
225 



226 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Mr. Vandeman and I understand how very, very 
serious this is. Of course, now, neighbors and inti 
mates of Mr. Gilbert are under inspection. Every 
body s private affairs are liable to be turned out. 
We ve all got to take our medicine. No use feeling 
personal resentment." 

Fine; but she d have done better to keep her hands 
off me. An old police detective knows too much of 
the class of women who use that lever. I looked at 
them now, white, delicate, many-ringed, much more 
expressive than her face, and I thought them capable 
of anything. 

"Here are the names you ll want/ she fumbled in 
the girdle of her gown, brought out a paper and passed 
it over. "These are the ones who stayed after the 
reception, went up to my room with me, and helped 
me change or rather, hindered me." 

"The ones," I didn t open the paper yet, just looked 
at her across it, "who were with you all the time from 
the reception till you left the house for San Fran 
cisco?" 

"It s like this," again she smiled at me, "the five 
whose names are on that paper might any one of them 
have been in and out of my room during the time. I 
can t say as to that. But they can swear that / wasn t 
out of the room because I wasn t dressed. As soon 
as I changed from my wedding gown to my traveling 
suit, I went down stairs and we were all together till 
we drove to San Francisco and supper at Tait s, where 
I had the pleasure of meeting you, Mr. Boyne." 

"I understand," I said. "They could all speak for 
you but you couldn t speak for them." Then I 
opened and looked. Some list! The social and 



A DINNER INVITATION 227 

financial elect of Santa Ysobel : bankers ladies ; prune 
kings daughters; persons you couldn t doubt, or buy. 
But at the top of all was Laura Bowman s name. 

We had halted for the turn at the end of the court. 
I held the paper before her. 

"How about this one? Do you think she was in 
the room all the time? Or have you any recollection?" 

The bride moved a little closer and spoke low. 

"Laura and the doctor were in the middle of one of 
their grand rows. She s a bunch of temperament. 
Mamma was ill ; the girls were having to start out with 
only Laura for chaperone; she said something about 
going somewhere, and it wouldn t take her long she d 
be back in plenty of time. But whether she went or 
not Mr. Boyne, you don t want us to tell you our 
speculations and guesses? That wouldn t be fair, 
would it?" 

"It wouldn t hurt anything," I countered. "I ll 
only make use of what can be proven. Anything you 
say is safe with me." 

"Well, then, of course you know all about the situa 
tion between Laura and Jim Edwards. Laura was 
determined she wouldn t go up to San Francisco with 
her husband or if she did, he must drive her back 
the same night. She wouldn t even leave our house to 
get her things from home; the doctor, poor man, 
packed some sort of bag for her and brought it over. 
When he came back with it, she wasn t to be found; 
and she never did appear until we were getting into the 
machine." 

I listened, glancing anxiously toward the skyline of 
that little hill over which Worth and Barbara might 
be expected to appear almost any moment now. Then 



228 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

we made the turn at the end of the court, and my view 
of it was cut off. 

"Laura and Jim they re the ones this is going to 
be hard on. I do feel sorry for them. She s always 
been a problem to her family and friends. A great 
deal s been overlooked. Everybody likes Jim; but 
he s a southerner; intrigue comes natural to them." 

Five minutes before I had been listening to Ed 
wards pitiful defense of this girl; I recalled his 
"scouting" for a chance to get her home unseen and 
save her standing with her family. That could be 
classed as intrigue, too, I suppose. We were strolling 
slowly toward the clubhouse. 

"I don t give Dr. Bowman much," I said delib 
erately. A quick look came my way, and, 

"Mr. Gilbert was greatly attached to him. Every 
body s always believed that only Mr. Gilbert s influence 
held that match together. Now he s dead, and Laura s 
freed from some sort of control he seemed to have 
over her, of course she hopes and expects she ll be 
able to divorce the doctor in peace and marry Jim." 

"No movement of the sort yet?" 

She stopped and faced round toward me. 

"Dr. Bowman he s our family physician, you 
know is trying for a very fine position away from 
here, in an exclusive sanitarium. Divorce proceedings 
coming now would ruin his chances. But I don t know 
how long he can persuade Laura to hold off. She s in 
a strange mood; I can t make her out, myself. She 
disliked Gilbert ; yet his death seems to have upset her 
frightfully." 

"You say she didn t like Mr. Gilbert?" 

"They hated each other. But he was so peculiar 



A DINNER INVITATION 229 

of course that wasn t strange. Many people de 
tested him. Bron never did. He always forgave him 
everything because he said he was insane. Bron told 
you my experience the one that made me break with 
Worth?" 

She looked at me, a level look; no shifting of color, 
no flutter of eyelid or throat. We were at the club- 
hour-e steps. 

"Here comes the boy himself," I warned as Worth 
and Barbara, their arms full of ferns, rounded the turn 
from the little dip at the side of the grounds where 
the stream went through. We stood and waited for 
them. 

"You two," Ina spoke quickly to them. "Mr. 
Boyne s just promised to come over to dinner to-mor 
row night." Her glance asked me to accept the fib and 
the invitation. "I want both of you." 

"I m going to be at your house anyhow, Ina," 
Barbara said, "working with Skeet painting those big 
banners they ve tacked up out in your court. You ll 
have to feed us; but we ll be pretty messy. I don t 
know about a dinner party." 

"It isn t," Ina protested, smiling. "It s just what 
you said feeding you. Nobody there besides your 
self and Skeet but Mr. Boyne and Worth if he ll 



come." 



"I have to go up to San Francisco to-morrow," said 
Worth. 

"But you ll be back by dinner time?" Ina added 
quickly. 

"If I make it at all." 

"Well, you can come just as you are, if you get in 
at the last minute," she said, and he and Barbara went 



230 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

on to carry their ferns in. When they were out of 
hearing, she turned and floored me with, 

"Mr. Vandeman has forbidden me to say this to 
you, but I m going to speak. If Worth doesn t have 
to be told about me and his father I d be glad." 

"If the missing leaves of the diary are ever found," 
I came up slowly, "he d probably know then." I 
watched her as I said it. What a strange look of 
satisfaction in the little curves about her mouth as she 
spoke next : 

"Those leaves will never be found, Mr. Boyne. I 
burned them. Mr. Gilbert presented them to me as a 
wedding gift. He was insane, but, intending to take 
his own life, I think even his strangely warped con 
science refused to let a lying record stand against an 
innocent girl who had never done him any harm." 

We stood silent a moment, then she looked round at 
me brightly with, 

"You re coming to dinner to-morrow night? So 
glad to have you. At seven o clock. Well if this is 
all, then ?" and at my nod, she went up the steps, turn 
ing at the side door to smile and wave at me. 

What a woman! I could but admire her nerve. If 
her alibi proved copper-fastened, as something told me 
it would, I had no more hope of bringing home the 
murder of Thomas Gilbert to Mrs. Bronson Vandeman 
of Santa Ysobel than I had of readjusting the stars in 
their courses ! 



CHAPTER XXIII 

A BIT OF SILK 

I MUST admit that when Worth and Barbara 
walked up and found me talking to Ina Vandeman, 
I felt caught dead to rights. The girl gave me one 
long, steady look. I was afraid of Barbara Wallace s 
eyes. Then and there I relinquished all idea of having 
her help in this inquiry. She could have done it much 
better than I, attracted less attention but no matter. 
The awkward moment went by, however; I heaved a 
sigh of relief as they carried their ferns on into the 
clubhouse, and Mrs. Vandeman left me with gracious 
good-bys. 

I had the luck to cover my first inquiry by getting 
a lift into town from Mrs. Ormsby, young wife of the 
president of the First National. Alone with me in her 
little electric, she answered every question I cared to 
put, and said she would be careful to speak to no one 
of the matter. Three others I caught on the wing, 
as it were, busy at blossom festival affairs; the fete 
only one day off now, things were moving fast. I 
glimpsed Dr. Bowman down town and thought he 
rather carefully avoided seeing me. His wife was 
taking no part; the word went that she was not able; 
but when I called at what had been the Wallace and 
was now the Bowman home, I found the front door 
open and two ladies in the hall. 

One of them, Laura Bowman herself, came flying 

231 



232 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

out to meet me or rather, it seemed, to stop me, with 
a face of dismay. 

"My mother s here, Mr. Boyne!" Her hand was 
clammy cold ; she d been warned of me and my errand. 
"I don t want to take you through that way." 

I stood passive, and let her do the saying. 

"Around here," she faltered. "We can go in at the 
side door." 

We skirted the house by a narrow walk; she was 
leading the way by this other entrance, when, spread 
out over its low step, blocking our progress, I saw a 
small Japanese woman ripping up a satin dress. 

"Let us pass, Oomie." 

"Wait. We can talk as well here," I checked her. 
We moved on a few paces, out of earshot of the girl ; 
but before I could put my questions, she began with a 
sort of shattered vehemence to protest that Thomas 
Gilbert s death was suicide. 

"It was, Mr. Boyne. Anybody who knew the 
scourge Thomas had been to those he must have loved 
in his queer, distorted way, and any one who loved 
them, could believe he might take his own life." 

"You speak freely, Mrs. Bowman," I said. "Then 
you hated the man?" 

"Oh, I did! For years past I ve never heard of a 
death without wondering that God took other human 
beings and let him live. Now that he s killed himself, 
it seems dreadful to me that suspicion should be cast 
on" 

"Mrs. Bowman," I interrupted. "Thomas Gilbert s 
death was murder. All persons who could have had 
motive or might have had opportunity to kill him will 



A BIT OF SILK 233 

be under suspicion till the investigation clears them of 
it. I m now ascertaining the whereabouts of Ina Van- 
deman that evening/ 

A shudder went through her; she looked at me 
feelingly, twisting her hands together in the way I 
remembered. Despite her distress, she was very simple 
and accessible. She gave me no resistance, admitted 
her absence from the Thornhill house at about the time 
the party was ready to start for San Francisco 
Edwards, of course. I got nothing new here. She 
seemed thankful enough to go into the house when I 
released her. 

I lingered a moment to have a word with the little 
Japanese woman on the step. 

"How long you work this place?" 

"Two hours af-noon, every day," ducking and 
giggling like a mechanical toy. 

Just a piece-worker, not a regular servant. 

"Pretty dress," I touched the satin on the step. 
"Whose?" 

"Mine." Grinning, she spread a breadth out over 
her knees. "Lady no like any more. Mine." It was 
a peculiar shade of peacock blue; unless I was mis 
taken, the one Mrs. Bowman had worn that night at 
Tait s. 

"Hello what s this?" I bent to examine a smaJl 
hole in the hem of that breadth Oomie was so delight 
edly smoothing. 

"O-o-o-o! I think may-may burn m. Not like 
any more." 

There was a small round hole. Just so a cigarette 
might have seared or a bullet. 



234 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Not can use," I said to Oomie, indicating the 
injured bit. "Cut that off. Give me." And I laid 
a silver dollar on the step. 

Giggling, the little brown woman snipped out the bit 
of hem and handed it to me. I glanced up from tuck 
ing it into my pocket, and saw Laura Bowman s white 
face staring at me through the glass of that side entry 
door. 

A suggestive lead, certainly; but it s my way to 
follow one lead at a time : I went on to the Thornhill 
place. 

Everybody there would know my errand; for 
though, with taste I could but admire, Ina had put no 
name of any member of the family on her list, she of 
course expected me to call on them, and would never 
have let her sisters leave the country club without a 
warning. 

The three were just taking their hats off in the hall 
when I arrived. I did my questioning there, not 
troubling to take them separately. Cora and Ernes 
tine, a well bred pair of Inas, without her pep, perhaps 
a shade less good looking, made their replies with none 
of the usual flutter of feminine curiosity and excite 
ment, then went on in the living room. Skeet of 
course was as practical and brief as a sensible boy. 

"I don t know whether she s fit to see you," she 
said when I spoke of her mother. And on the instant, 
Ina Vandeman s clear, high voice called down the stair, 

"Bring Mr. Boyne up now." 

Skeet stepped aside for me to pass. I suppose I 
looked as startled as I felt, for on my way to the 
house, I had seen Mrs. Vandeman drive past toward 



A BIT OF SILK 235 

town. I stood there at a loss, and finally said aim 
lessly, 

"Your sister thinks it s all right?" 

"My sister?" Skeet wrinkled her brows at me, and 
glanced to where the twins were in sight in the living 
room. "That was mother herself who called you." 

All the way up the stairs, Skeet following, I was 
trying to swing my rather heavy wits around to take 
advantage of this new development. So far, Ina Van- 
deman s voice, imitated by Barbara Wallace, and rec 
ognized by Chung and Jim Edwards, possibly by 
Worth, had been my lead in this direction. If more 
than one woman spoke in that voice where would it 
take me? 

I d got no adjustment before I was ushered into a 
large dim room, and confronted by a figure in a re 
clining chair by the window. Here, in spite of years 
and illness, were the same good looks and thorough 
bred courage that seemed to characterize the women 
of this family. Mrs. Thornhill greeted me in Ina 
Vandeman s very tones, a little high-pitched for real 
sweetness, full of a dominating quality, and she 
showed a composure I had not expected. To Skeet, 
standing by, watching to see that her mother didn t 
overdo in talking to me, she said, 

"Dear, go down stairs. Jane s left her dinner on 
the range and gone to the grocery. You look after it 
while she s away." 

When we were alone, she lay back in her chair, 
eyes closed, or seemingly so, and made her statement. 
She d been in her daughter s room only twice between 
the reception and that daughter s going away. 



236 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"But the room was full of other people," a glimmer 
between lashes. "I could give you the names of those 
others." 

Thank you," I said. "Mrs. Vandeman has already 
done that. I ve seen them all." 

"You ve seen them all?" a long, furtively drawn 
breath. Then her eyes flashed open and fixed them 
selves on me. Relief was there, yet something 
stricken, as they traveled over me from my gray 
thatch to my big feet. 

"Now, Mrs. Thornhill," I said, "aside from those 
two visits to your daughter s room, where were you 
that evening?" 

A slow flush crept into her thin cheeks. The un 
readable eyes that were traveling over Jerry Boyne 
stopped suddenly and held him with a quiet stare. 

"I understood it was my daughter s movements on 
that evening you wished to trace, Mr. Boyne," she 
said slowly. "It would be difficult to trace mine. 
Really, I had so much on my hands with the reception 
and inefficient help " She broke off, her eyes never 
leaving my own, even as she added smoothly, "It 
would be very, very difficult." 

There is an effect in class almost like the distinction 
of race. These women spoke a baffling language; 
their psychology was hard for me. If there was some 
thing hid up amongst them that ought to be uncovered 
by diplomacy and delicate indirection, it would take a 
smarter man than the one who stood in my number 
tens to do it. 

"Mrs. Thornhill," I said, "you did leave the house. 
You went to Mr. Gilbert s study. The shot that killed 
him left you a nervous wreck, so that you can t hear 



A BIT OF SILK 237 

a tire blow-out without reenacting in your mind the 
scene of that murder. You ll talk now." 

"You think I will? Talk to you?" very low and 
quiet, eyes once more closed. 

"Why not? It s got to come; here in your own 
home, with me or I ll have to put you where you ll 
be forced to answer questions." 

"Oh, you threaten me, do you?" Her eyes flashed 
open, and looked at me, hard as flint. "Very well. 
I ll answer no questions as to what happened on the 
evening of Thomas Gilbert s death, except in the 
presence of Worth Gilbert, his son." 

My retirement down the Thornhill stairs, made with 
such dignity as I could muster, was in fact, a panic 
flight. Halfway, Cora Thornhill all but finished me 
by looking out from the living room, and calling in 
Ina Vandeman s voice, 

"Erne, show Mr. Boyne out, won t you?" 

Ernestine completed the job when she answered 
in Ina Vandeman s voice, also 

"Yes, dear; I will." It was only the scraps of me 
that she swept out through the front door. 

I stood on the porch and mopped my brow. Across 
there at the Gilbert place was Worth himself, charg 
ing around the grounds with Vandeman and a lot of 
other decorators, pruning shears in hand, going for a 
thicket of bamboos that shut off the vegetable garden. 
At one side Barbara stood alone, looking, it seemed 
to me, rather depressed. I made for her. She met 
me with, 

"I know what you ve been doing. Skeet came to 
me about it while Ina was phoning home from the 
country club." 



238 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Well she should worry! I ve just finished with 
her list. Got an unbreakable alibi." 

"She would have," Barbara said listlessly. "She 
wasn t at the study that evening." 

"Huh! I worked on your tip that she was." 

Barbara had pulled off the little stitched hat she 
wore; yet the deep flush on her cheeks was neither 
from sun nor an afternoon s hard work. It, and the 
quick straightening of her figure, the lift of her chin, 
had to do with me and my activities. 

"Mr. Boyne," the black eyes came around to me with 
a flash, "do you suspect me of trying to pay off a 
spite on Ina Vandeman?" 

"Good Lord no!" I exploded. "And anyhow, 
I ve just found that what you imitated and Chung 
recognized, might as well have been the mother s voice 
as the daughter s." 

"Yes," she assented. "Any one of the family 
under stress of emotion." Then suddenly, "And why 
do I tell you that? You ll not get from it what I 
do. I ought never to have mixed up my kind of 
mental work with other people s. I d promised my 
own soul that I would never make another deduction. 
Then Worth came and asked me that night at Tait s. 
I might say now that I never will any more. ..." 
She broke off, storm in her eyes and in her voice as 
she finished, "But I suppose if he wanted me to again 
I d make a little fool of myself for his amusement 
just as I did this time and have done all these other 
times !" 

"I ll not ask anything more of you, Barbara," I 
said to her hastily, confused and abashed before the 
glimpse she d given me of her heart. "Except that 



A BIT OF SILK 239 

I beg you to stay good friends with Cummings. That 
man hates Worth. If you turned him down now 
say, for the ball, or anything like that he d be twice 
as hard for us to handle. Keep him a passive enemy 
instead of an active one, as long as he seems to find 
it necessary to hang around Santa Ysobel." 

"You know what s holding Mr. Cummings here, 
don t you?" She glanced somberly past the bamboo 
gatherers to where we saw a gray corner of the study 
with its pink ivy geranium blossoms atop. "Mr. Cum 
mings is held here by two steel bolts the bolts on 
those study doors. Until he finds how they can be 
moved through an inch of planking he ll not leave 
Santa Ysobel." 

She d put it in a nutshell. And I couldn t let him 
beat me to it. I d got to get the jump on him. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

THE MAGNET 

1HAD all set for next morning: my roadster at 
Capehart s for repair, old Bill tipped off that I 
didn t want any one but Eddie Hughes to work on it ; 
and to add to my satisfaction, there arrived in my 
daily grist from the office, the report that they had 
Skeels in jail at Tiajuana. 

"Well, Jerry, old socks," Worth hailed my news as 
I followed out to his car where he was starting for 
San Francisco, and going to drop me at the Capehart 
garage, "Some luck! If Skeels is in jail at Tiajuana, 
and what I m after to-day turns out right, we may 
have both ends of the string." 

Pink-and-white were the miles of orchards sur 
rounding Santa Ysobel, pink-and-white nearly all the 
dooryards, every tree its own little carnival of bloom 
with bees for guests. Already the streets were full 
of life, double the usual traffic. As we neared the 
Capehart cottage, on its quiet side street about half 
a block from the garage, there was Barbara under the 
apple boughs at the gate, talking to some man whose 
back was to us. She bowed ; I answered with a wave 
toward the garage; but Worth scooted us past with 
out, I thought, once glancing her way, sent the road 
ster across Main where he should have stopped and 
let me out, went on and into the highway at a clip 
which rocked us. 

240 



THE MAGNET 241 

"Was that Cummings ?" holding my hat on. No 
answer that I could hear, while we made speed toward 
San Francisco. And still no word was spoken until 
we had outraged the sensibilities of all whose bad 
luck it was to meet us, those whom we passed going 
at a more reasonable pace, scared a team of work 
horses into the ditch, and settled down to a steady 
whiz. 

We were getting away from Santa Ysobel a good 
deal further and a good deal faster than I felt I could 
afford. I took a chance and remarked, to nobody in 
particular, and in a loud voice, 

"I asked Barbara not to make a break with Cum 
mings; it would be awkward for us now if she did/ 

"Break?" Worth gave me back one of my words. 

"Yes. I was afraid she might throw him down 
for the carnival ball." 

Without comment or reply, he slowed gently for 
the big turn where the Medlow road comes in, swept 
a handsome circle and headed back. Then he re 
marked, 

"Thought I d show you what the little boat could 
do under my management. Eddie had her in fair 
shape, but I ve tuned her up a notch or two since." 

I responded with proper enthusiasm, and would 
have been perfectly willing to be let out at Main Street. 
But he turned the corner there, ran on to the garage, 
jumped out and followed me in. Bill, selling some 
used tires to a customer in the office, nodded and let 
us go past to where my machine stood. We heard 
voices back in the repair shop and a hum of swift whir 
ring shafts and pulleys. Worth kept with me. It em 
barrassed me made me nervous. It was as though he 



242 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

had some notion of my purpose there. Hughes, at 
his lathe, caught sight of us and growled over his 
shoulder, 

"Yer machine s ready." 

This wouldn t do. I stepped to the door, with, 

"Fixed the radiator, did you?" 

"Sure. Whaddye think?" Hughes was at work 
on something for a girl ; she perched at one end of his 
bench, swinging her feet. Worth, behind me, touched 
my shoulder, and I saw that the girl over there was 
Barbara Wallace. 

She looked up at us and smiled. The sun slanting 
through dirt covered windows, made color effects on 
her silken black hair. Eddie gave us another scowl 
and went on with his work. 

"Hello, Bobs," Worth s greeting was casual. 
"Thought I d stop and tell you I was on my way 
you know." A glance of understanding passed be 
tween them. "Better come along?" 

"I d like to," she smiled. "You ll be back by din 
ner time. If it wasn t the last day, and I hadn t 
promised " 

Neither of them in any hurry. 

"Hughes," I said, "there s another thing needs do 
ing on that car of mine " 

"Can t do nothing at all till I finish her job," he 
shrugged me off. 

"All right," and I stepped through into the grassy 
back yard, put a smoke in my face, and began walking 
up and down, my glance, each time I turned, en 
countering that queer bunch inside : Worth, hands 
in pockets ; the chauffeur he had discharged and that 
I was waiting to get for murder bending at his vise; 



THE MAGNET 243 

Barbara s shining dark head close to the tousled un- 
kemptness of his poll, as she explained to him the 
pulley arrangement needed to raise and anchor the 
banner she and Skeet were painting. 

Suddenly, at the far end of my beat, I was brought 
up by a little outcry and stir. As I wheeled toward 
the door, I saw Bobs and Worth in it, apparently 
wrestling over something. Laughing, crying, she hung 
to his wrist with one hand, the other covering one of 
her eyes. 

"Let me look!" he demanded. "I won t touch it, 
if you don t want me to. You have got something in 
there, Bobs." 

But when she reluctantly gave him his chance, he 
treacherously went for her with a corner of his hand 
kerchief in the traditional way, and she backed off, 
uttering a cry that fetched Hughes around from the 
lathe, roaring at Worth, above the noise of the machin 
ery, 

" What s the matter with her?" 

"Steel splinter in her eye," Worth shouted. 

With a quick oath, the belt pole was thrown to stop 
the lathe; down the length of the shop to the scrap 
heap of odds and ends at the rear Hughes raced, re 
turning with a bit of metal in his hand. Barbara 
was backed against the bench, her eyes shut, and tears 
had begun to flow from under the lids. 

"Now, Miss Barbie," Hughes remonstrated. "You 
let me at that thing. This ll pull it out and never 
touch you." I saw it was a horse-shoe magnet he 
carried. 

"Do you think it will?" 

"Sure," and Eddie approached the magnet to her 



244 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

face. "It won t hurt you a-tall. She ll begin to pull 
before she even touches. Now, steady. Want to 
come as near contact as I can. Don t jump 
Hell!" 

Barbara had sprung away from him. But for 
Worth s quick arm, she would have been into the 
machines. 

"No!" she said between locked teeth, tears on her 
cheeks, "I can t let him." 

"Why, Barbara!" I said, astonished; and poor 
Eddie almost blubbered as he begged, 

"Aw, come on, Miss Barbie. It was my fault in the 
first place leavin that damned lathe run. Yuh got 
to let me" 

"But if it doesn t work?" 

"Sure it ll work. Would I offer to use it for you 
if I hadn t tried it out lots o times to pull splinters 
and" 

"Give me that magnet," Worth reached the long 
arm of authority, got what he wanted, shouldered 
Hughes aside, and took hold of the girl with, "Quit 
being a little fool, Barbara. That thing s only caught 
in your lashes now. Let it get in against the eye 
ball and you ll have trouble. Hold still." 

The command was not needed. Without a word, 
Barbara raised her face, put her hands behind her 
and waited. 

Delicately, Worth caught the dark fringe of the 
closed eye, turned back the lid so that he could see 
just what he was at, brought the horse-shoe almost 
in touch, then drew it away and there was the tiny 
steel splinter that could have cost her sight, clinging 
to the magnet s edge. 



THE MAGNET 245 

"Here you are," he smiled. "Wasn t that enough 
to call you names for?" 

"You didn t call me names," dabbing away with a 
small handkerchief. "You told me to quit being a 
little fool. Maybe I will. How would you like that ? 

Apparently Hughes did not resent Barbara s refus 
ing his help and accepting Worth s. He went back 
to his vise; the two others strolled together through 
the doorway into the garage, talking there for a 
moment in quick, low tones; then Barbara returned 
to perch on the end of Eddie s bench, play with the 
magnet and watch him at work. I lit up again and 
stepped out. 

I could see Barbara gather some nails, screws and 
loose pieces of iron, hold a bit of board over them, 
and trail the magnet back and forth along its top. 
Though a half inch of wood intervened, the metal 
trash on the bench followed the magnet to and fro. 
I got nothing out of that except that Barbara was still 
a child, playing like a child, till I looked up suddenly 
to find that she had ceased the play, brought her feet 
up to curl them under her in the familiar Buddha 
pose, while the busy hands were dropped and folded 
before her. Her rebellion of yesterday evening 
and now her taking up the concentration unasked 
she wouldn t want me to notice what she was doing; 
I ducked out of sight. I had walked up and down 
that yard a half dozen times more, when over me 
with a rush came the significance of those moving 
bits of iron, trailing a magnet on the other side of a 
board. Three long steps took me to the door. 

"Hughes," I shouted, "I m taking my machine now. 
Be back directly." 



246 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

The man grunted without turning around. I had 
forgotten Barbara, but as I was climbing into the 
roadster, I heard her jump to the floor and start after 
me. 

"Mr. Boyne! Wait! Mr. Boyne!" 

I checked and sat grinning as she came up, the 
magnet in her hand. I reached for it. 

"Give me that," I whispered. "Want to go along 
and see me use it?" 

"No no " in hushed protest. "You re making a 
mistake, Mr. Boyne." 

"Mistake? I saw what you did in there. Said you 
never would again then went right to itU You sure 
got something this time ! Girl girl ! You ve turned 
the trick!" 

"Oh, no! You mustn t take it like that, Mr. Boyne. 
This is nothing as it stands. Just a single unrelated 
fact that I used with others to concentrate on. Wait. 
Do wait till Worth comes back, anyhow." 

"All right." I felt that our voices were getting 
loud, that we d talked here too long. No use of 
flushing the game before I was loaded. "First thing 
to do is to verify this." I felt good all over. 

"Yes, of course," she smiled faintly. "You would 
want to do that." And she climbed in beside me. 

I drove so fast that Barbara had no chance to ques 
tion me, though she did find openings for remonstrat 
ing at my speed. I dashed into the driveway of the 
Gilbert place and came to an abrupt stop at the doors 
of the garage. And right away I bumped up against 
my first check. I gripped the magnet, raced to the 
study door with it, she following more slowly to 



THE MAGNET 247 

watch while I passed it along the wooden panel where 
the bolt ran on the other side; and nothing doing! 

Again she followed as I ran around to the outside 
door, opened up and tried it on the bare bolt itself; 
no stir. While she sat in the desk chair at that central 
table, her elbows on its top, her hands lightly clasped, 
the chin dropped in interlaced fingers, following my 
movements with very little interest, I puffed and 
worked, opened a door and tried to move the bolt 
when it wasn t in the socket, and felt like cursing in 
disappointment. 

"A little oil " I grumbled, more to myself than 
to her, arufr hurried to the garage workbench for the 
can that would certainly be there. It was, but I 
didn t touch it. What I did lean over and clutch from 
where they lay tossed in carelessly among rubbish and 
old spare parts, were three more magnets exactly the 
same as the one we had brought from Capehart s. I 
sprinted back with them. 

Barbara," I called in an undertone. "Come here. 
Look." 

Held side by side, the four, working as one, moved 
the bolts as well as fingers could have done, and 
through more than an inch of hard wood. 

"Yes," she looked at it; "but that doesn t prove 
Eddie Hughes the murderer." 

"No?" her opposition began to get on my nerves. 
"I m afraid that ll be a matter for twelve good men 
and true to settle." She stood silent, and I added, 
"I know now whose shadow I saw on the broken 
panel of that door there, the first Sunday night." 

"Oh, it was Eddie s," she agreed rather unex 
pectedly. 



248 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"And he came to steal the 1920 diary," I supplied. 

"He came to get a drink from the cellaret, and a 
cigar from the case. That s the use he made of his 
power to move these bolts. " 

"Until the Saturday night when he killed his 
employer, the man he hated, and left things so the 
crime would pass as suicide. Barbara, are you just 
plain perverse?" 

Instead of answering, she went back to the table, 
got the contraption Hughes had made for her, and 
started as if to leave me. On the threshold, she 
hesitated. 

"I don t suppose there s anything I ca_ say or do 
to change your mind," her tone was inert, drained. 
"I know that Eddie is innocent of this. But you don t 
want to listen to deductions." 

"Later," I said to her, briskly. "It ll keep. I ve 
something to do now." 

"What? You promised Worth to make no move 
against Eddie Hughes until you had his permission." 
She seemed to think that settled it. I let her keep 
the idea. 

"Run along, Barbara," I said, "get to your paint 
daubing. I ll forgive you everything for deducing 
well, discovering, if you like that better about these 
bolts and magnets." 

Skeet burst from the kitchen door of the Thorn- 
hill house, caught sight of us, shouted something un 
intelligible, and came racing through the grounds 
toward Vandeman s. 

"Been waiting for me long, angel?" she called, as 
Barbara moved up with a lagging step, then, waving 
two pairs of overalls, "Got pants for both of us, honey. 



THE MAGNET 249 

The paints and brushes are over there. We ll make 
short work of that old banner, now." 

Promised Worth, had I? But the situation was 
changed since then. No man of sense could object to 
my moving on what I had now. I locked the study 
door, went back to my roadster, and headed her up 
town. 



CHAPTER XXV 

AN ARREST 

IT was a thankful if not a joyous Jerry Boyne who 
crossed the front pergola of the Vandeman bun 
galow that evening in the wake of Worth Gilbert, 
bound for an informal dinner. The tall, unconscious 
lad who stepped ahead of me had been made safe in 
spite of himself. This weight off my mifcd, I felt 
kindly to the whole world, to the man under whose 
dining table we were to stretch our legs, whose embar 
rassing private affairs I had uncovered. He d taken 
it well seconding his wife s dinner invitation, meet 
ing my eye frankly whenever we encountered. My 
mood was expansive. When Vandeman himself 
opened the door to us, explaining that he was his own 
butler for the day, I saw him quite other than he had 
ever appeared to me. 

For one thing, here in his own house and this was 
the first time I had ever been in it you got the man 
with his proper background, his suitable atmosphere. 
The handsome living room into which he took us, 
showed many old pieces of mahogany, and some of 
the finest oriental stuff I ever saw ; books in cases, sets 
of standard writers, such as people of culture bought 
thirty or forty years ago, some family pictures about. 
This was Vandeman ; a lot behind such a fellow, after 
all, if he did seem rather a lightweight, 

250 



AN ARREST 251 

Ina joined us, very beautifully dressed. She also 
showed the ability to sink unpleasant considerations in 
the present moment of hospitality. We lingered a 
moment chatting, then, 

"Shall we go and look at the artists working?" she 
suggested, and led the way. We followed out onto 
a flagged terrace at the rear. A dozen great muslin 
strips were tacked over the walls there, and two small 
figures, desperate, smudged, wearing the blue overalls 
Skeet Thornhill had waved at us, toiled manfully 
smearing the blossom festival colors on in lettering 
and ornamental designs. 

"Ina!"* Skeet yawped at her sister, "Another dirty, 
low Irish trick! Get yourself all dressed up like a 
sore thumb, and then show us off in this fix !" 

Mutely Barbara revolved on the box she occupied. 
There was fire in her soft eyes ; her color was high as 
her glance came to rest on Worth. 

"Fong Ling s nearly ready to serve dinner," said 
Ina calmly. "Stop fussing, and go wash up." 

"Hello, Mr. Boyne." As Skeet passed me, she 
wiped a paw on a paint rag and offered it to me with 
out another \vord. I got a grip and a look that told 
me there was no hangover with her from that scene 
yesterday in her mother s sick-room. Vandeman was 
commenting on his depleted bamboo clumps. 

"Mine suffered worse than yours, Worth. Fong 
Ling kicked like a bay steer about our taking so much. 
He s nursed the stuff for years like a fond mother. 
But we had to have it for that effect up around the 
orchestra stand." 

"Then he s been with you a long time?" I caught 
at the chance for information on this chink informa- 



252 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

tion that I d found it impossible to get from the chink 
himself. 

"Ever since I came in here. Chinamen, you know 
not like Japs. Some loyalty. You can keep a good 
one for half a lifetime." 

We strolled back to the living room; the girls were 
there before us, Skeet picking out bits of plum- 
blossoms and bunches of cherry bloom from a great 
bowl on the mantel, and sticking them in Barbara s 
dark hair, wreath fashion. 

"Best we could do at a splurge," she greeted us, 
"was to turn in our blouses at the neck." 

"And what in the world are you doing to Barbara?" 
Mrs. Vandeman said sharply. "Let her alone, Skeet. 
You ll make her look ridiculous." 

Skeet stuck out her tongue at her sister, and went 
calmly on, mumbling as she worked, 

"Hold till ittle Barbie child. Yook up at pretty 
mans and hold till." 

Over the mantel, in front of Barbara as she stood, 
her back to us all, hung an oil painting one of those 
family groups same old popper; same old mommer, 
and a fat baby in a white dress and blue sash. At 
that, it was good enough to show that the man had 
some resemblance to Vandeman as he leaned there on 
the mantel below it, rather encouraging Skeet s enter 
prise. From the other side, I could see Barbara s 
glance go from man to picture. 

"Doesn t it look like Van, Barbie?" Skeet kept up 
the conversation. "Got the same ring, and all. But 
it ain t Van. Him s the tootsie in there with the blue 
ribbon round his tummy." 

"I say, Skeeter, lay off!" Vandeman looked self- 



AN ARREST 253 

consciously from the painted ring in the picture to the 
real ring on his own well kept hand there on the 
mantel edge. "People aren t interested in family 
histories." 

"I am," said Barbara, unexpectedly. As the gong 
sounded and we all began to move toward the dining 
room, they were still on the subject and kept it up 
after we were seated. 

Fong Ling served us. The bride had Worth on her 
right, and talked to him in lowered tones. Barbara, 
between Vandeman and myself, continued to show an 
almost feverish attention to Vandeman. It was plain 
enough from where I sat that nothing Ina Vandeman 
could say gave the lad any less interest in his plate. 
But I suppose with a girl, the mere fact of some other 
girl being allowed to show 7 intentions counts. Did the 
flapper get what was going on, as she looked proudly 
across at her handiwork, and demanded of me, 

"Say, Mr. Boyne, you saw how Ina tried to do us 
dirt? And now, honest to goodness, hasn t Barbie 
with the plum-blossoms got Ina and her artificial 
flowers skun a mile?" 

I didn t wonder that young Mrs. Vandeman saved 
me the necessity of answering, by taking her up. 

"Skeet, you re too outrageous!" 

There she sat, quite a beauty in a very superior 
fashion ; and Worth at her side, was having his atten 
tion called to this dark young creature across the table, 
whose wonderful still fire, the white blossoms crown 
ing her hair, might well have made even a lovelier than 
Ina Vandeman look insipid. And Worth did take his 
time admiring her ; I saw that ; but all he found to say 
was, 



254 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Bobs, I suppose Jerry s told you that he s treed 
Clayte at Tiajuana?" 

"No," said Barbara, "he hasn t said a word. But 
I m just as much surprised at Clayte s being caught 
as I was at Skeels escaping capture." 

"Say that over and say it slow," Vandeman was 
good natured. "Or rather, put it in plain American, 
so we all can understand." 

"Mr. Boyne knows what I mean." Barbara gave 
me a faint smile. "Mr. Boyne and I add up Skeels 
and Clayte, and get a different result. That s all." 

"Bobs doesn t think that Skeels is Clayte, caught or 
uncaught," Worth said briefly and went on eating his 
dinner. Apparently he didn t give a hang which way 
the fact turned out to be. 

"Why don t you?" Vandeman gave passing atten 
tion. She shook her head and put it. 

"Skeels, at liberty, was quite possibly Clayte; Skeels 
captured cannot be Clayte. Mr. Boyne, do you call 
that a paradox?" 

"No an unkind slam at a poor old man s ability in 
his profession. I started out to find a gang ; but Clayte 
and Skeels are so exactly one, mentally, morally and 
physically, that I don t see why we should seek fur 
ther." 

"Back up, Jerry," Worth tossed it over at me. "Let 
Barbara" he didn t often use the girl s full name that 
way "give you a description of Clayte before you re 
so sure." 

"How could I?" The girl s tone was defensive. 
"I never saw him." 

"I want you," Worth paid no attention to her 



AN ARREST 255 

objections, "to describe the man you thought you were 
asking for that day at the Gold Nugget, when Jerry 
butted in, and your ideas got lost in the excitement 
about Skeels. Deduce the description, I mean." 

"Deduce it?" Barbara spoke stiffly, incredulously, 
her glance going from Worth to the well-gowned, well- 
groomed woman beside him. I remembered her mo 
ment of rebellion yesterday evening on the lawn, when 
she said so bitterly that if he asked it again, she d do it 
again, as she finished, "Deduce here?" 

"Here and now." Worth s laconic answer sent the 
blood of healthy anger into her face, made her eyes 
shine. And it brought from Ina Vandeman a petulant, 

"Oh, Worth, please don t turn my dinner table into 
a side-show." 

"Ina, dear." Vandeman raised his eyes at her, then 
quite the cordial host urging a guest to display 
talent, "They say you re wonderful at that sort of 
thing, and I ve never seen it." 

Barbara was mad for fair. 

"Oh, very well," she spoke pointedly to Vandeman, 
and left Worth out of it. "If you think you d really 
enjoy seeing me make a side-show of Ina s dinner 
table" 

She stopped and waited. Vandeman played up to 
the situation as he saw it, with one of his ready smiles. 
Worth threw no lifetime. Ina didn t think it worth 
while to apologize for her rudeness. Skeet was openly 
in a twitter of anticipation. There was nothing for 
me to do. A little commotion of skirts told us that 
she was drawing up her feet to sit cross-legged in her 
chair. 



256 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"She s going to! Oh, golly!" Skeet chortled. 
"Haven t seen Bobsy do one of those stunts since I 
was a che-ild !" 

Arms down, hands clasped, eyes growing bigger, 
face paling into snow, we watched her. To all but 
Vandeman, this was a more or less familiar perform 
ance. They took it rather as a matter of course. It 
was the Chinaman, coming in with the coffee tray, who 
seemed most strangely affected by it. He stopped 
where he was in the doorway, rigid, staring at our 
girl, though with a changeful light in his eye that 
seemed to me to shift between an unreasonable admira 
tion and an unreasonable fear. Orientals are super 
stitious; but what could the fellow be afraid of in the 
beautiful young thing, Buddha posed, blossoms in her 
hair? The girl had gone into her stunt with a sort of 
angry energy. He seemed to clutch himself to still 
ness for the brief time that it held. Only in the 
moment that she relaxed, and we knew that Barbara 
had concentrated, Barbara was Barbara again, did he 
move quietly forward, a decent, competent servant, 
stepping around the table, placing our cups. 

"Just two facts to go on," she said coldly. "My 
results will be pretty general." 

"Nothing to go on in the way of a description of 
Clayte," I tried to help her out. "I d call that one 
we had of him as near nothing as it well could be." 

"Yes, the nothingness of it was one of my facts," 
she said, and stopped. 

"Let s hear what you did get, Bobs," Worth 
prompted; and Skeet giggled, half under her breath, 

"Speech! Speech!" 

"At the Gold Nugget whatever he called himself 



AN ARREST 257 

there Edward Clayte was ten years younger than he 
had seemed at the bank ; he appeared to weigh a dozen 
pounds more; threw out his chest, walked with his 
head up, and therefore would have been estimated quite 
a bit taller. This personality was an opposite of the 
other. Bank clerk Clayte was demure, unobtrusive; 
this man wore loud patterns. The bank clerk was 
silent ; this man talked to every one around him, tilted 
his hat over one eye, smoked cigars just as those men 
were doing that day in the lobby ; acted like them, was 
one of them. In the Gold Nugget, Clayte was a very 
average Gold Nugget guest don t you see? Com 
monplace there, just as the other Clayte had been 
commonplace in a bank or an office." 

Her voice ceased. On the silence it left, Worth 
spoke up quietly. 

"Bull s eye as usual, Bobs. Every word you say is 
true. And at the Gold Nugget, his name was Henry 
J. Brundage. He had room thirty on the top floor." 

Skeet clapped her hands, jumped up and came 
around the table to kiss Barbara on the ear, and tell her 
she was the most wonderfullest girl in the world. 

"Heh!" I flared at Worth. "Find that all out to 
day in San Francisco?" 

"No." 

"Oh, it was the Brundage clew that took you 
south?" 

"Yep. Left Louie on the job at the hotel while I 
was away. To-day, I went after Brundage s auto 
mobile. Found he d kept one in a garage on Jackson 
Street." 

"It s gone, of course and no trace," Barbara mur 
mured. 



258 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Gone since the day of the bank theft," Worth 
nodded. "He and the money went in it." 

"Say," I leaned over toward him, "wouldn t it have 
saved wear and tear if you d told me at the first that 
you knew Skeels couldn t be Clayte?" 

"Oh, but, Jerry, you were so sure! And Skeels 
wasn t possible for a minute never in his little, pik 
ing, tin-horn life!" 

I don t believe I had seen Worth so happy since he 
was a boy, playing detective. I glanced around and 
pulled myself up; we certainly weren t making our 
selves very entertaining for the Vandemans. There 
they sat, at their own table, like handsome figureheads, 
smiling politely, pretending a decent interest. 

"All this must be a bore to you people," I apolo 
gized. 

"Not at all not at all," Vandeman assured us. 

"Well then if you don t mind Worth, I ll go and 
use Vandeman s phone put my office wise to these 
Brundage clews of yours." 

Worth nodded. No social scruples were his. I had 
by no means given up the belief that Skeels in jail at 
Tiajuana, would still turn out to be one of the gang. 

I had just got back to the table from my phoning 
when the doorbell rang; we saw the big Chinese slip 
noiselessly through the rear into the hall to answer it, 
coming back a moment later, announcing in his 
weighty, correct English, 

"Two gentlemen calling to see Captain Gilbert." 

"Ask for me ?" Worth came to his feet in surprise. 
"Who told them I was here?" 

"I do not know," the Chinaman spoke unnecessarily 



AN ARREST 259 

as Worth was crossing to the door. "I did not ask 
them that." 

"Use the living room, Worth," Vandeman called 
after him. "We ll wait here." 

With the closing of the door, conversation lan 
guished. Even Skeet was quiet and seemed depressed. 
My ears were straining for any sound from in there. 
As I sat, hand dropped at my side, I suddenly felt 
under shelter of the screening tablecloth, cold, nervous 
fingers slipped into mine. Barbara wasn t looking at 
me, but I gave her a quick glance as I pressed her 
gripping small hand encouragingly. 

She was turned toward Vandeman. Pale to the 
lips, her great eyes fixed on the eyes of our host, I 
saw with \vonder how he slowly stirred a spoon about 
in his emptied coffee cup, and stared back at her with 
a face almost as colorless as her own. The bride 
glanced from one to the other of them, and spoke 
sharply, 

"What s the matter with you two ? You re not un 
easy about Worth s callers, are you?" 

"No-no-no " Vandeman was the first to come 
out of it, responding to her voice a good deal as if 
she dashed cold water in his face, his eyes breaking 
away from Barbara s, his lips parted in a nervous 
smile. He ran a hand through his hair an inelegant 
gesture for him at table and laughed a little. 

"We ought to be in there," Barbara said to me, a 
curious stress in her voice. 

"How funny you talk, Barbie," Skeet quavered. 
"What do you think s wrong?" And Ina spoke decid 
edly, 



2<5o THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Worth is one person in the world who can cer 
tainly take care of himself, and would rather be let 
alone." 

"If you think there is anything we should do ?" 
Vandeman began anxiously, and Skeet took a look 
around at our faces and fairly wailed, 

"What is it? What s the matter? What do you 
think they re doing to Worth in there, Barbie?" 

"I d think they were arresting him," Barbara said 
in a low, choked tone, "Only they don t know 

"Arresting him !" I broke in on her, startled, getting 
halfway to my feet ; then as remembrance came to me, 
sinking back with, "Certainly not. The murderer of 
Thomas Gilbert is already in the county jail. I 
arrested Eddie Hughes this morning." 

"You arrested Eddie Hughes!" It was a cry 
from Barbara. The cold little hand was jerked from 
mine. Twisting around in her chair, she stared at me 
with a look that made me cold. "Then you ve moved 
those two steel bolts for Cummings." 

I jumped to my feet. On the instant the door 
opened, and in it stood Worth, steady enough, but his 
brown tanned face was strangely bleached. 

"Jerry," he spoke briefly. "I want you. The 
sheriff s come for me." 



CHAPTER XXVI 

MRS. BOWMAN SPEAKS 

MIDNIGHT in the sheriff s office at San Jose. 
And I had to telephone Barbara. She d be 
waiting up for my message. The minute I heard her 
voice on the wire, I plunged in : 

"Yes, yes, yes; done all I could. A horse can do 
no more. They ve got Worth. I " The words 
stuck in my throat ; but they had to come out "I left 
him in a cell." 

A sound came over the wire ; whether speech or not, 
it was something I couldn t get. 

"He s taking it like a man and a soldier, girl," I 
hurried. "Not a word out of him about my having 
gone counter to his express orders, arrested Hughes, 
and pulled this thing over on us." 

"Oh, Mr. Boyne! Of course he wouldn t blame 
you. Neither would I. You acted for what you 
thought was his good. The others " 

"Vandeman s already gone home. Tell you he 
stood by well, Barbara that tailor s dummy ! Sur 
prised me. No, no. Didn t let Jim Edwards come 
with us; so broken up I didn t want him along only 
hurt our case over here, the way he is now." 

"Your case?" she spoke out clearly. "What is the 
situation?" 

"A murder charge against Worth on the secret files. 

261 



262 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

Hughes is out Cummings got him took him, don t 
know where. Can t locate him." 

"Do you need to?" 

"Perhaps not, Barbara. What I do need is some 
one who saw Thomas Gilbert alive that night after 
Worth left to go back to San Francisco." 

"And if you had that some one?" 

"If we could produce before Cummings one credible 
witness to that, it would mean an alibi. I d have 
Worth out before morning." 

"Then, Mr. Boyne, get to the Fremont House here as 
quickly as you can. Mr. Cummings is there. Get 
him out of bed if you have to. I ll bring the proof 
you need." 

"But, child!" I began. 

"Don t waste time talking! How long will it 
take you to get here;?" 

"Half an hour." 

"Oh ! You may have to wait for me a little. But 
I ll surely come. Wait in Mr. Cummings room." 

Half past twelve when I reached the Fremont 
House, to find it all alight, its lobby and corridors surg 
ing with the crowd of blossom festival guests. No 
body much in the bar; soft drinks held little interest; 
but in the upper halls, getting to Cummings room, I 
passed more than one open door where the hip-pocket 
cargoes were unloading, and was even hailed by name, 
with invitations to come in and partake. Cummings 
was still up. The first word he gave me was, 

"Dykeman s here." 

"Glad of it," I said. "Bring him in. I want you 
both." 

It took a good deal of argument before he brought 



MRS. BOWMAN SPEAKS 263 

the Western Cereal man from the adjoining room 
\vhere he had evidently been just getting ready for bed. 
He came to the conference resentful as a soreheaded 
old bear. 

"Maybe you think Worth Gilbert will sleep well to 
night in jail?" I stopped him, and instantly differ 
entiated the two men before me. Cummings took it, 
with an ugly little half smile; Dykeman rumpled his 
hair, and bolstered his anger by shouting at me, 

This country ll go to the dogs if we make an exempt 
class of our returned soldiers. Break the laws 
they ll have to take the consequences, just as a man 
that was too old or too sickly to fight would have to 
take em. If I d done what Captain Gilbert s done I 
wouldn t expect mercy." 

"You mean, if you d done what you say he s done," 
I countered. "Nothing proved yet." 

"Nothing proved? Dykeman huddled in his chair 
and shivered. Cummings shook out an overcoat and 
helped him into it. He settled back with a protesting 
air of being about to leave us, and finished squeakily, 
"Didn t need to prove that he had Clayte s suitcase." 

"Good Lord, Mr. Dykeman! You re not lending 
yourself to accuse a man like Worth Gilbert of so 
grave a crime as murder, just because you found his 
ideas irregular maybe reckless in a matter of 
money?" 

"Don t answer, Dykeman !" Cummings jumped in. 
"Boyne s trying to get you to talk." 

The old chap stared at me doubtfully, then broke 
loose with a snort, 

"See here, Boyne, you can t get away from it; your 
man Gilbert has embarked on a criminal career: mixed 



264 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

up in the robbery of our bank, with Clayte to rob us; 
had our own attorney go through the form of raising 
money to buy us off from the pursuit of Clayte 

"How about me?" I stuck in the question as he 
paused for breath. "Do you think Worth Gilbert 
would put me on the track of a man he didn t want 
found?" 

Cummings cut in ahead to answer for him, 

"Just the point. You ve not done any good at the 
inquiry; never will, so long as you stand with Worth 
Gilbert. He needed a detective who would believe in 
him through thick and thin. And he found such a 
man in you." 

I could not deny it when Dykeman yipped at me, 

"Ain t that true? If it was anybody else, wouldn t 
you see the connection ? Captain Gilbert came here to 
Santa Ysobel that Saturday night as we ve got wit 
nesses to testify had a row with his father we ve 
got witnesses for that, too the word money passed 
between them again and again in that quarrel and 
then the young man had the nerve to walk into our 
bank next morning with his father s entire holdings of 
our stock in Clayte s suitcase Boyne, you re crazy!" 

"Maybe not," I said, reckoning on something human 
in Dykeman to appeal to. "You see I know where 
Worth got that suitcase. It came out of my office 
vault evidence we d gathered in the Clayte hunt. 
Getting it and using it that way was his idea of humor, 
I suppose." 

"Sounds fishy." Dykeman made an uncomfortable 
shift in his chair. But Cummings came close, and 
standing, hands rammed down in the pockets of his 
coat, let me have it savagely. 



MRS. BOWMAN SPEAKS 265 

"Evidence, Boyne, is the only thing that would give 
you a license to rout men out at this time of night 
new evidence. Have you got it? If not " 

"Wait." I preferred to stop him before he told me 
to get out. "Wait." I looked at my watch. In the 
silence we could hear the words of -a yawp from one 
of the noisy rooms when a passerby was hailed : 

"There she goes ! There look at the chickens !" 

A minute later, a tap sounded on the door. Cum- 
mings stood by while I opened it to Barbara, and a 
slender, veiled woman, taller by half a head in spite of 
bent shoulders and the droop of weakness which made 
the girl s supporting arm apparently necessary. 

At sight of them, Dykeman had come to his feet, 
biting off an exclamation, looking vainly around the 
bare room for chairs, then suggesting, 

"Get some from my room, Boyne/ 

I went through the connecting door to fetch a couple. 
When I came back, Barbara was still standing, but her 
companion had sunk into the seat the shivering, un 
comfortable old man offered, and Cummings was 
bringing a glass of water for her. She sipped it, still 
under the shield of her veil. This was never Ina Van- 
deman. Could it be that Barbara had dragged Mrs. 
Thornhill from her bed? I saw Barbara bend and 
whisper reassuringly. Then the veil was swept back, 
it caught and carried the hat with it from Laura Bow 
man s shining, copper colored hair, and the doctor s 
wife sat there ghastly pale, evidently very weak, but 
more composed than I had ever seen her. 

"I m all right now," she spoke very low. 

"Miss Wallace," Dykeman demanded harshly. 
"Who is this lady?" 



266 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"Mrs. Bowman," Barbara looked her employer very 
straight in the eye. 

"Heh?" he barked. "Any relation to Dr. Bowman 
any connection with him?" 

"His wife." Cummings bent and mumbled to the 
older man for a moment. 

"Laura," Barbara said gently, "this is Mr. Dyke- 
man. You re to tell him and Mr. Cummings." 

"Yes," breathed Mrs. Bowman. "I ll tell them. 
I m ready to tell anybody. There s nothing in dodg 
ing, and hiding, and being afraid. I m done with it. 
Now what is it you want to know?" 

Cummings expression said plainer than words that 
they didn t want to know anything. They had their 
case fixed up and their man arrested, and they didn t 
wish to be disturbed. She went on quickly, of her-, 
self, 

"I believe I was the last person who saw Mr. Gilbert 
alive. I must have been. I d rushed over there, just 
as Ina told you, Mr. Boyne, between the reception and 
our getting off for San Francisco." 

"All this concerns the early part of the evening/ 
put in Cummings. 

"Yes but it concerns Worth, too. He was there 
when I came in. ... It was very painful." 

"The quarrel between Captain Gilbert and his father 
d ye mean?" Dykeman asked his first question. 
Mrs. Bowman nodded assent. 

"Thomas went right on, before me, just as though 
I hadn t been there. Then, when it came my turn, he 
would have spoken out before Worth of of my pri^ 
vate affairs. That was his way. But I couldn t stand 
it. I went with Worth out to his machine. He had 



MRS. BOWMAN SPEAKS 267 

it in the back road. We talked there a little while, 
and Worth drove away, going fast, headed for San 
Francisco." 

"And that was the last time you saw Thomas Gilbert 
alive?" Cummings summed up for her. 

"I hadn t finished," she objected mildly. "After 
Worth was gone, I went back into the study and 
pleaded with Thomas for a long time. I pointed out 
to him that if I d sinned, I d certainly suffered, and 
what I asked was no more than the right any human 
being has, even if they may be so unfortunate as to be 
born a woman." 

Dykeman looked exquisitely miserable; but Cum 
mings was only the lawyer getting rid of an unwanted 
witness, as he warned her, 

"Not the slightest need to go into your personal 
matters, Mrs. Bowman. We know them already. 
We knew also of your visit to Mr. Gilbert s study that 
night, and that you didn t go there alone. Had the 
testimony been of any importance to us, we d have 
called in both you and James Edwards." 

I could see that her deep concern for another steadied 
Laura Bowman. 

"How do you know all this?" she demanded. 
"Who told you?" 

"Your husband, Doctor Bowman." 

Up came the red in her face, her eyes shone with 
anger. 

"He did follow me, then? I thought I saw him 
creeping through the shrubbery on the lawn." 

"He did follow you. He has told us of your being 
at the study the two of you when young Gilbert 
was there." 



268 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"See here, Cummings," I put in, "if Bowman was 
around the place, then he knows that Worth left before 
the crime was committed. Why hasn t he told you 
so?" 

"He has," Cummings said neatly; and I felt as 
though something had slipped. Barbara kept a brave 
front, but Mrs. Bowman moaned audibly. 

"And still you ve charged Worth Gilbert ? Why not 
Bowman himself? He was there. As much reason 
to suspect him as any of the others. Do you mean to 
tell me that you won t accept Mrs. Bowman s testimony 
and Dr. Bowman s as proving an alibi for Worth 
Gilbert? I m ready to swear that he was at Tait s 
at five minutes past ten, was there continuously from 
that time until a little after midnight, when you your 
self saw him there." 

"A little past midnight!" Cummings repeated my 
words half derisively. "Not good enough, Boyne. 
We base our charge on the medical statement that Mr. 
Gilbert met his death in the small hours of Sunday 
morning." 

I looked away from Barbara; I couldn t bear her 
eye. After a stunned silence, I asked, 

"Whose? Who makes that statement?" 

"His own physician. Doctor Bowman swears " 

"He?" Mrs. Bowman half rose from her chair. 
"He d swear to anything. I " 

"Don t say any more," Cummings cut her off. And 
Dykeman mumbled, 

"Had the whole history of your marital infelicities 
all over the shop. Too bad such things had to be 
dragged in. Man seems to be a worthy person " 

"Doctor Bowman told me positively," I broke in, 



MRS. BOWMAN SPEAKS 269 

"on the Sunday night the body was found, that death 
must have occured before midnight." 

"Gave that as his opinion his opinion then," 
Cummings corrected me. 

"Yes," I accepted the correction. "That was his 
opinion before he quarreled with Worth. Now he " 

"Slandering Bowman won t get you anywhere, 
Boyne/ Cummings said. "He wasn t here to testify 
at the inquest. Man alive, you know that nothing but 
sworn testimony counts." 

"I wouldn t believe that man s oath," I said shortly. 

"Think you ll find a jury will," smirked Cummings, 
and Dykeman croaked in, 

"A mighty credible witness a mighty credible wit 
ness!" 

While these pleasant remarks flew back and forth, a 
thumping and bumping had made itself heard in the 
hall. Now something came against our door, as 
though a large bundle had been thrown at the panels. 
The knob rattled, jerked, was turned, and a man 
appeared on the threshold, swaying unsteadily. Two 
others, who seemed to have been holding him back, 
let go all at once, and he lurched a step into the room. 
Doctor Anthony Bowman. 

A minute he stood blinking, staring, then he caught 
sight of his wife and bawled out, 

"She s here all right. Tol you she was here. Can t 
fool me. Saw her go past in the hall." 

I looked triumphantly at Dykeman and Cummings. 
Their star witness drunk as a lord! So far he 
seemed to have sensed nothing in the room but his 
wife. Without turning, he reached behind him and 
slammed the door in the faces of those who had 



270 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

brought him, then advanced weavingly on the woman, 
with, 

"Get up from there. Get your hat. I ll show you. 
You come long home with me! Ain t I your hus 
band?" 

"Doctor Bowman," peppery little old Dykeman 
spoke up from the depths of his chair. "Your wife 
was brought here to a to a " 

"Meeting," Cummings supplied hastily. 

"Huh?" Bowman wheeled and saw us. "Why-ee! 
Di n know so many gen lemen here." 

"Yes," 1 the lawyer put a hand on his shoulder. 
"Conference over the evidence in the Gilbert case. 
No time like the present for you to say " 

"HoP on a minute," Bowman raised a hand with 
dignity. 

"Cummings," said Dykeman disgustedly, "the man s 
drunk!" 

"No, no," owlishly. " m not ntoxicated. Over 
come with motion." Hetook a brace. "That woman 
there f I sh d tell you walk into hotel room, find her 
with three men! Three of em!" 

"How much of this are these ladies to stand for?" 
I demanded. 

"Ladies?" Bowman roared suddenly. "She s m 
wife. Where s th other man? Nothing gainst you 
gen lmen. Where s he? I ll settle with him. Let 
that thing go long nough. Too long. Bring 1 him 
out. I ll settle him now!" 

He dropped heavily into the chair Cummings shoved 
up behind him, stared around, drooped a bit, pulled 
himself together, and looked at us; then his head went 
forward on his neck, a long breath sounded 



MRS. BOWMAN SPEAKS 271 

"And you ll keep Worth Gilbert in jail, run the 
risk of a suit for false imprisonment on that! 1 I 
wanted to know. 

"And plenty more," the lawyer held steady, but I 
saw his uneasiness with every snore Bowman drew. 

Barbara crossed to speak low and earnestly to Dyke- 
man. I heard most of his answer shaken, but dis 
posed to hang on, 

"Girl like you is too much influenced by the man in 
the case. Hero worship all that sort of thing. An 
outlaw is an outlaw. This isn t a personal matter. 
Mr. Cummings and I are merely doing our duty as 
good citizens." 

At that, I think it possible that Dykeman \vould have 
listened to reason; it was Cummings who broke in 
uncontrollably, 

"Barbara Wallace, I was your father s friend. I m 
yours if you ll let me be. I can t stand by while 
you entangle yourself with a criminal like Worth Gil 
bert. For your sake, if for no other reason, I would 
be determined to show him up as what he is : a thief 
and his father s murderer." 

Silence in the room, except the irregular snoring of 
Bowman, a rustle and a deeply taken breath now and 
again where Mrs. Bowman sat, her head bent, quietly 
weeping. On this, Barbara who spoke out clearly, 

"Those were the last words you will ever say to me, 
Mr. Cummings, unless you should some time be man 
enough to take back your aspersions and apologize for 
them." 

He gave ground instantly. I had not thought that 
dry voice of his could contain what now came into it. 

"Barbara, I didn t mean vou don t understand " 



272 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

But without turning her head, she spoke to me: 
"Mr. Boyne, will you take Laura and me home?" 
gathering up Mrs. Bowman s hat and veil, shaking the 
latter out, getting her charge ready as a mother might 
a child. "She s not going back to him ever again/ 
Her glance passed over the sleeping lump of a man in 
his chair. "Sarah ll make a place for her at our house 
to-night." 

"See here," Cummings got between us and the door^ 
"I can t let you go like this. I feel " 

"Mr. Dykeman," Barbara turned quietly to her em 
ployer, "could we pass out through your room?" 

"Certainly," the little man was brisk to make a way 
for us. "I want you to know, Miss Wallace, that I, 
too, feel I, too, feel " 

I don t know what it was that Dykeman felt, but 
Cummings felt my rude elbow in his chest as I pushed 
him unceremoniously aside, and opened the door he 
had blocked, remarking, 

"We go out as we came in. This way, Barbara." 

It was as I parted with the two of them at the Cape- 
hart gate that I drew out and handed Mrs. Bowman 
a small piece of dull blue silk, a round hole in it, 
such as a bullet or a cigarette might have made, with, 

"I guess you ll just have to forgive me that." 

"I don t need to forgive it," her gaze swam. "I 
saw your mistake. But it was for Worth you were 
fighting even then; he s been so dear to me always 
I d have to love any one for anything they did for 
his sake." 



CHAPTER XXVII 

THE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 

TWO hours sleep, bath, breakfast, and I started 
on my early morning run for the county seat. 
Nobody else was going my way ; but even at that hour, 
the road was full of autos, buggies, farm wagons, 
pretty much everything that could run on wheels, 
headed for the festival, all trimmed and streaming with 
the blossoming branches of their orchards. These 
were the country folks, coming in early to make a 
big day of it; orchardists; ranchers from the cattle 
lands in the south end of the county; truck and vege 
table farmers; flower-seed gardeners; the Japs and 
Chinese from their little, closely cultivated patches; 
this tide streamed past me on my left hand, as I made 
my way to Worth and the jailer s office, trying with 
every mile I put behind me, to bolster my courage. 
Why wasn t this shift of the enemy a blessing in dis 
guise? Let their setting of the hour for the murder 
stick, and wouldn t Worth s alibi be better than any we 
should have been able to dig up for him before mid 
night ? 

From time to time I was troubled by recollection of 
Barbara s crushed look from the moment they sprung 
it on us, but brushed that aside with the obvious ex 
planation that her efforts in bringing Mrs. Bowman 
to speak out had just been of no use; surely enough 
to depress her. 

273 



274 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

Worth met me, fit, quiet, not over eager about any 
thing. They let us talk with a guard outside the door. 
Once alone, he listened appreciatively while I told him 
of our interview with Cummings and Dykeman as fast 
as I could pile the words out. 

"Nobody on earth like Bobs," was his sole comment. 
"Never was, never will be." 

"And now," I reminded him nervously, "there s the 
question of this alibi. You went straight from the 
restaurant to your room at the Palace and to bed 
there?" 

"No-o," he said slowly. "No, I didn t." 

"Well well," I broke in. "If you stopped on the 
way, you can remember where. The people you spoke 
to will be as good as the clerks and bell-hops at the 
Palace for your alibi." He sat silent, thoughtful, and 
I added, "Where did you go from Tait s, Worth?" 

"To a garage in the Tenderloin where they keep 
good cars. I d hired machines from them before." 

"Oh, they knew you there? Then their testimony 
will" 

"I don t believe you want it, Jerry. It only accounts 
for the half hour or less right after I left you ; all 
I did was to hire a car." 

"A car," I echoed vaguely. "What kind of a car? 
Hired it for when?" 

"I asked them for the fastest thing they had in the 
shop. Told em to fill it all round, and see that it 
was tuned up to the last notch. I wanted speed." 

"My God, Worth ! Do you know what you re tell 
ing me?" 

"The truth, Jerry." His eye met mine unflinch 
ingly. "That s what you want, isn t it?" 



THE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 275 

"Where did you go?" I groaned. "You must have 
seen somebody who could identify or remember you?" 

"Not a solitary human being to identify me. Those 
I passed there were people out of course, late as it 
was saw my headlights as I went by. But I was 
moving fast, Jerry. I was working off a grouch; I 
needed speed." 

"Where did you go?" 

"Straight down the peninsula on the main high 
way to Palo Alto, made the sweep across to the sea, 
and then up the coast road. I ran into the garage 
about dawn." 

"No stops anywhere?" 

He shook his head. 

"And that s your alibi?" 

"That s my alibi." Worth looked at me a long 
while before he said finally, 

"Don t you see, Jerry, that the other side had all 
this before they encouraged Bowman to change his 
mind about when father was shot?" 

I did see it ought to have known from the first. 
This was what they had back of them last night in 
Cummings room; this explained the lawyer s smug 
self-confidence, Dykeman s violent certainty that 
Worth was a criminal. A realization of this had 
whitened Barbara s face, set her lips in that pitiful, 
straight line. As to their momentary chagrin over 
Bowman; no trouble to them to get other physicians 
to bolster any opinion he d given. Medical testimony 
on such a point is notoriously uncertain. All the 
jury would want to know was that there could be such 
a possibility. I sat there with bent head, and felt my 
self going to pieces. Cummings was right I was no 



276 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

fit man to handle this job. My personal feelings 
were too deeply involved. It was Worth s voice that 
recalled me. 

"Cheer up, Jerry, old man. Take it to Bobs," 

Take it to Bobs the idea of a big, husky old police 
detective running to cast his burden on such shoulders ! 
I couldn t quite do it then. I went and telephoned the 
little girl that I was doing the best I could and then 
ran circles for the rest of the day, chasing one vain 
hope after another, and finally, in the late afternoon, 
sneaked home to Santa Ysobel. 

Now I had the road more to myself; only an oc 
casional handsome car, where the wealthy were getting 
in to the part of the festival they d care for. In the 
orchards near town where the big picnic places had 
been laid out with rough board tables and benches, 
seats for thousands, there were occasional loud basket 
lunch parties scattered. All at once I was hungry 
enough to have gone and asked for a handout. 

I went by back streets down to the house to get my 
mail. There seemed no human reason that I should 
feel it a treachery to have Worth in jail at San Jose, 
and be able to walk into his house at Santa Ysobel a 
free man. The place was empty; Chung had the day 
off, of course. It was possible Worth s cook, even, 
didn t know what had happened to his employer. 
Santa Ysobel had no morning paper. In the confu 
sion of the blossom festival, I ventured to guess that 
not more than a score of people did as yet know of 
the arrest. Our end of town was drained, quiet ; no 
body over at the Vandeman bungalow; looking down 
at the Square as I made my sneak through, I had 
caught a glimpse of Bronson Vandeman, a great ro- 



THE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 277 

sette of apricot blossoms on his coat lapel, making his 
speech of presentation to the cannery girl queen, while 
his wife, Ina, her fair face shaded doubly by a big 
flower hat and a blossom covered parasol, listened and 
looked on. 

One of my pieces of mail concerned the Skeels 
chase. If my men down there had Skeels, and Skeels 
was Clayte, it would mean everything in handling 
Cummings and Dykeman. I took out the report and 
ran hastily through it; a formal statement; day by 
day stuff: 

"Found Skeels and Dial at Tiajuana. Negotiating 
to buy saloon and gambling house. Arranged with 
Jefico for arrest of S. (Expense $20.) Rurales took 
S. to jail. (Expense, $4.50) I interviewed S., and 
he said lie came here to open a business where he could 
sell booze. D. was his partner in proposition. S. 
knew nothing of bank affair. Would waive extradi 
tion and come back to stand trial at our expense. 
Interviewed D. He says combined capital of two is 
$4500., saved from S s business and D s miner s 
wages. D. said- " 

Not much to show up with; but there were three 
photographs enclosed that I wanted to try on Cum 
mings and Dykeman. No telling where I d find either, 
but the Fremont House was my best bet. Getting 
back there through the crowd, I saw Skeet Thornhill 
in a corner drugstore, waiting at its counter. I was 
afoot, having been obliged to park my roadster in one 
of the spaces set apart for this purpose. I noticed 
Vandeman s car already there. 

I lingered a minute on that corner*looking down the 



278 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

slope that led to City Hall Square. Tent restaurants 
along the way; sandwiches; hot dogs; coffee; milk; 
pies; doughnuts. Part way down a hurdy-gurdy in 
a tent began to get patronage again ; the school children 
in white dresses with pink bows in their hair had just 
finished a stunt in the Square. They and their elders 
were streaming our way, headed for the snake charm 
ers, performing dogs and Nigger-in-the-tank. In the 
midst of them Vandeman and his wife came afoot. 
He caught sight of me, hailed, and when I joined them, 
asked quickly, glancing toward the drugstore entrance, 

"Worth come with you?" 

I shook my head. He made that little clucking 
sound with his tongue that people do when they want 
to offer sympathy, and find the matter hard to put into 
words. 

A seller of toy balloons on the corner with a lot of 
-noisy youngsters around him; the ka-lash, ka-lam of 
a mechanical piano further down the block ; and young 
Mrs. Vandeman s staccato tones saying, 

"I tell Bron that the only thing Worth s friends 
can do is to go on exactly as if nothing had happened. 
Don t you think so, Mr. Boyne?" 

I agreed mutely. 

"Well, I wish you d say so to Barbie Wallace/ her 
voice sharpened. "She s certainly acting as though 
she believed the worst." 

"Now, Ina," Vandeman remonstrated. And I asked 
uncomfortably, 

"What s Barbie done ? Where is she ?" 

"Up at Mrs. Capehart s. In her room. Doesn t 
come out at all. Isn t going to the ball to-night. 
Skeet said she refused to speak to Mr. Cummings." 



THE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 279 

"Is that all Skeet said? Vandeman, you ve told 
your wife that Cummings swore to the complaint? * 

"Yes, but er there s no animus. The executor of 
Gilbert s estate With all the talk going around 
If Worth s proved innocent, he might in the end be 
glad of Cummings action." 

"Oh, might he?" Skeet Thornhill had hurried out 
from the drugstore, a package of medicine in her hand. 
Her eyes looked as though she d been crying; they 
flashed a hostile glance over the new brother-in-law, 
excellently groomed, the big flower favor on his coat, 
the tall, beautiful sister, all frilly white and flower 
festival fashion. 

"// Worth s proved innocent!" she flung at them. 
"Bronse Vandeman, you ve got a word too many in 
when you say that." 

"Just a tongue-slip, Skeeter," Vandeman apologized. 
"I hope the boy ll come through all right same as 
you do." 

"You don t do anything about it the same as I do!" 
Skeet came back. "I d be ashamed to hope for a 
friend to be cleared of a charge like that. If I couldn t 
know he was clear clear all the time I d try to for 
get about it." 

"See here, Skeet," Ina obviously restrained herself, 
"that s what we re all trying to do for Worth : forget 
about it make nothing of it act exactly as if it d 
never happened. You ought to come on out to the 
ball with the other girls. You re just staying away 
because Barbara Wallace is." 

"I m not. Some damn fool went and told mother 
about Worth being arrested, and made her a lot worse. 
She s almost crazy. I d be afraid to leave her alone 



280 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

with old Jane. You get me and this medicine up 
home or shall I go around to Capehart s and have 
Barbie drive me?" 

"I ll take you, Skeeter," Vandeman said. "We re 
through here. We re for home to dress, then to the 
country club and not leave it again till morning. 
That ball out there has got to be made the biggest 
thing Santa Ysobel ever saw regardless. Come on." 
The crowd swallowed them up. 

Making for the Fremont House, I passed Dr. Bow 
man s stairway, and on impulse turned, ran up. I 
found the doctor packing, very snappish, very sorry 
for himself. He was leaving next day for a position 
in the state hospital for the insane at Sefton. His 
kind have to blow off to somebody; I was it, though 
he must have known I had no sympathy to offer. The 
hang-over of last night s drunk made emotional the 
tone in which he said, 

"After all, a man s wife makes or breaks him. 
Mine s broken me. I could have had a fine position 
at the Mountain View Sanitarium, well paid, among 
cultured people, if she d held up her damned divorce 
suit a little longer." 

"And as it is, you have to put up with what Cum- 
mings can land you with such pull as he has." 

"I m not complaining of Cumrnings," sullenly. "He 
did the best he could for me, I suppose, on such short 
notice. But a man of my class is practically wasted 
in a place of the sort." 

I had learned what I wanted; I carried more 
ammunition to the interview before me. I found 
Dykeman in his room, propped up in bed, wheezing 
with an attack of asthma. A sick man is either more 



THE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 281 

merciful than usual, or more unmerciful. Apparently 
it took Dykeman the former way; he accepted me 
eagerly, and had me call Cummings from the adjoining 
room. The lawyer was half into that costume he had 
brought from San Francisco. He came quite modern 
as to the legs and feet, but thoroughly ancient in a shirt 
of mail around the arms and chest, and carrying a 
Roman helmet in his hand as though it had been an 
opera hat. 

"Trying em on?" Dykeman whispered at him. 

Cummings nodded with that self-conscious, half- 
tickled, half -sheepish air that men display when it 
comes to costume. His greeting to me was cool but 
not surly. What had happened might go as all in the 
day s work between detective and lawyer. 

"Just seen Bowman," was my first pass at them. 
"I gather he s not very well pleased with the position 
you got him; seems to think it small pay for a dirty 
job." 

"What s this? What s this?" croaked Dykeman. 
"You been getting a place for Bowman, Cummings?" 

"Certainly," the lawyer dodged with swift, practical 
neatness. "I d promised him my influence in the 
matter some little time ago." 

"Yes," I said, "mighty little time ago the day he 
promised the testimony you wanted in the Gilbert 
case." 

"Anything in what Boyne says, Cummings?" Dyke 
man asked anxiously. "You know I wouldn t stand 
for that sort of stuff." 

The lawyer shook his head, but I didn t believe it 
was ended between them; Dykeman was the devil to 
hang on to a point. This would come up again after 



282 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

I was gone. Meantime I made haste to shove the 
photographs before them. Cummings passed them 
back with an indifferent, "What s the idea?" 

"You don t recognize him?" 

"Never saw the man in my life," and again he asked, 
"What s the idea?" 

"You d recognize a picture of Clayte?" I countered 
with a question of my own. 

"Yes I think so," rather dubiously. "But Dyke- 
man would. Show them to him." 

Dykeman reached for the photographs, spread them 
out before him, then looked up from them peevishly to 
say, 

"For the good Lord s sake! Don t look any more 
like Clayte than it does like a horned toad. Is that 
what you ve been wasting your time over, Boyne? If 
you ask me " 

"I don t ask you anything," retrieving the pictures, 
planting them deep in an inner pocket. Then I got 
myself out of the room. 

Standing on the sidewalk in front of the Fremont 
House, I felt sort of bewildered. This last crack had 
taken all the pep I had left. I suddenly realized it 
was long after dinner time, and I d had no dinner, no 
lunch, nothing to eat since an early breakfast. Worth 
had sent me to the girl and I hadn t gone. I dragged 
myself around to Capehart a cottage as nearly whipped 
as I ever was in my life. 

I found Barbara with Laura Bowman, every ono 
else off the place, out at the shows. Those girls sure 
were good to me ; they fed me and didn t ask questions 
till I was ready to talk. Nothing to be said really, 
except that I d failed. I told them of meeting the 



THE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 283 

Vandemans, and gave them Ina Vandeman s opinion 
as to how Worth s friends should conduct themselves 
just now. 

"So they ll all be out there," I concluded, "Van- 
deman and his wife leading the grand march, her sis 
ters as maids of honor except Skeet, staying at home 
with her mother. Cummings goes as a Roman soldier ; 
Doctor Bowman as a Spanish cavalier. Edwards 
didn t see it as the Vandemans do, but after I d talked 
to him awhile, he agreed to be there." 

And suddenly I noticed for the first time how the 
relative position of these two women had shifted. 
Laura Bowman wasn t red-headed for nothing; out 
from under the blight of Bowman and that hateful 
marriage, she had already thrown off some of her 
physical frailness; the nervous tension showed itself 
now in energy. She was moving swiftly about putting 
to rights after my meal while she listened. But Bar 
bara sat looking straight ahead of her; I knew she was 
seeing streets full of carnival, every friend and 
acquaintance out at a ball and Worth in a murderer s 
cell. It wouldn t do. I jumped to my feet with a 
brisk, 

"Girl, where s your hat? We ll go to the study and 
look over all our points once more. Get busy get 
busy. That s the medicine for you." 

She gave me a miserable look and a negative shake 
of the head; but I still urged, "Worth sent me to you. 
The last thing he said was, Take it to Bobs/ 

Dumbly she submitted. Mrs. Bowman came run 
ning with the girl s hat, and, "What about me, Mr. 
Boyne? Isn t there something I can do?" 

"I wish you d go to the country club to the ball 



284 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

the same as all the others. Got a costume here, haven t 
you?" 

"Yes, I can wear Barbara s," she glanced to where 
a pile of soft black stuff, a red scarf, a scarlet poppy 
wreath, lay on a chair, "She was to have gone as The 
Lady of Dreams. " 

Barbara went with me out into the flare of carnival 
illumination that paled the afterglow of a gorgeous 
sunset No cars allowed on these down-town streets; 
even walking, we found it best to take the long way 
round. To our left the town roared and racketed as 
though it was afire. Nothing said between us till I 
grumbled out, 

"I wish I knew where Cummings was keeping Eddie 
Hughes." 

Barbara s voice beside me answered unexpectedly, 

"Here. In Santa Ysobel. Eddie was at Capehart s 
fifteen minutes before you got there; he came for Bill. 
A gasoline engine at the city hall had broken down." 

I pulled up short for a moment, and looked back at 
the town. 

"Where dhego?" 

"With Bill, to the city hall. Eddie s one of the 
queen s guards. They re all to be at the country club 
at ten o clock to review the grand march that opens 
the tell." 

I mustn t let her dwell on that. I hurried on once 
more, and neither of us spoke again till I unlocked the 
study door, snapped on the lights, brought out and put 
on the table the 1920 diary and the little blue blotter 
the last bits of evidence that I felt hadn t been thor 
oughly analysed. Barbara just dropped into a chair 
and looked from them to me helplessly. 



THE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 285 

"You ve read this all carefully?" she sighed. 

It shook me. To have Barbara, the girl I d seen 
get meanings and facts from a written page with a 
mere flirt of a glance, ask me that. What I really 
wanted from her was an inspection of the book and 
blotter, and a deduction from it. As though she 
guessed, she answered with a sort of wail, 

"I can t I can t even remember what I did see when 
I looked at these before. I can t remember!" 

I went and knelt on the hearth with a pretext of lay 
ing a fire there, since the shut-up room was chill. And 
when I glanced stealthily over my shoulder, she had 
gone to work ; not as I had ever seen her before, but 
fumbling at the leaves, hesitating, turning to finger the 
blotter ; setting her lips desperately, like an over-driven 
school-child, but keeping right on. I spun out my fire 
building to leave her to herself. Little noises of her 
moving there at the table; rustle and flutter of the 
leaves ; now and again, a long, sobbing breath. At last 
something like a groan caused me to turn my head and 
see her, with face pale as death, eyes staring across 
into mine. 

"It was Clayte Edward Clayte who killed Mr. 
Gilbert here in this room." 

The hair on the back of my neck stirred; I thought 
the girl had gone mad. As I ran over to the table 
and looked at what was under her hand, it came again. 

"He did. He did. It was Clayte the wonder 
man !" 

"Do do you deduce that, Barbara?" 

"Did I ?" she raised to mine the face of a sick child. 
"I must have. See it s here on the blotter: y-t-e/ 
that s Clavte. Double 1-e-r; that s teller. Avenue 



286 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

is part of Van Ness Avenue Bank. Oh, yes; I de 
duced it, I suppose. Both crimes end in a locked room 
and a perfect alibi. But but don t you see, if it is 
true and it is it is we re worse off than we were 
before. We ve the wonder man against us." 

"Barbara," I cried. "Barbara, come out of it!" 

"See? You don t believe in me any more" and her 
head went down on the table. 

I let her cry, while I sat and thought. The broken 
sentences she d sobbed out to me began to fit up like a 
puzzle-game. By all theories of good detective work, I 
should have seen from the first the similarity of these 
crimes. But Clayte, slipping in here to do this murder 
and why? What mixed him up with affairs here? 
And then the icy pang Dykeman had seen a connec 
tion Cummings had found one. With them, it was 
Clayte and his gang and his gang was Worth Gilbert. 
I went and touched Barbara on the shoulder. 

"I m going to take you home now." 

"Yes," tears running down her face as she stumbled 
to her feet. "I m a failure. I can t do anything for 
Worth." 

I wiped her cheeks with my own handkerchief and 
led her out. As I turned from locking the door, it 
seemed to me I saw something move in the shrubbery. 
I asked Barbara Wallace about it. She hadn t noticed 
anything. Barbara Wallace hadn t noticed anything! 

I began to be scared for her. Solemn in the sky 
above boomed out the town clock two strokes. Half 
past nine. I must get this poor child home. We were 
getting in toward the noise and the light when I felt 
her shiver, and stopped to say, 

"Did I forget your coat? Why, where s your hat?" 



THE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 287 

"The hat s back there. I had no coat. It doesn t 
make any difference. Come on. I can t can t I 
must get home." 

I looked at her, saw she was about at the end of her 
strength, and decided quickly, 

"We ll go straight through the Square. Save time 
and steps." 

She offered no objection, and we started in where 
the bands played for the street dances, amid the 
raucous tooting of a thousand fish-horns, the clangor 
of cow-bells, and the occasional snap of the forbidden 
fire-cracker. As we turned from Broad Street into 
Main, I found that the congestion was greater even 
than I had supposed. Here, several blocks away from 
the city hall, progress was so difficult that I took Bar 
bara back a block to get the street that paralleled Main. 
This we could navigate slowly. Here, also, every 
body was masked. Confetti flew, serpentines unreeled 
themselves out through the air, dusters spluttered in 
faces, and among the Pierrettes, Pierrots, Columbines, 
sombrero-ed cowboys, bandana-ed cow-girls, Indians, 
Sambos, Topsies and Poppy Maidens, Barbara s little 
white linen slip and soft white sweater, and my grey 
business suit, were more conspicuous than would have 
been the Ahkoond of Swat and his Captive Slave. 
Even after the confetti had sprinkled her black hair 
until it reminded me of Skeet s blossom wreath, in 
finitely multiplied, I still saw the glances through the 
eye-holes of masks follow us wonderingly. 

Opposite the city hall, where we must cross to get to 
the Capehart street, we were again almost stopped by 
the dense crowd. The Square was a green-turfed 
dancing floor; from its stand, an orchestra jazzed out 



288 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

the latest and dizziest of dances ; and countless couples 
one-stepped on the grass, on the asphalt of the streets, 
even over the lawns of adjacent houses, tree trunks 
and flower beds adding more things to be dodged. At 
one corner, where the crowd was thick, we saw a big 
man being wound to a pole by paper serpentines. 
Yelling and capering, the masked dancers milled 
around and around him, winding the gay ribbons, while 
others with confetti and the Spanish cascarones, tried 
to snow him under. As we came up, a big fist wagged 
and Bill Capehart s voice roared, 

"Hold on ! Too much is a-plenty !" 

He tore himself loose, streaming with paper strips, 
bent and filled his fists from the confetti at his feet. 
His tormentors howled and dropped back as much as 
they could for the hemming crowd; he rushed them, 
heaving paper ammunition in a hail-storm, and reached 
us in two or three jumps. 

"Golly !" he roared, "Me for a cyclone cellar ! This 
is a riot. You ain t in costume, either. Wonder they 
wouldn t pick on you." 

With the- words they did. I put Barbara behind me, 
and was conscious only of a blinding snow of paper 
flakes, the punch and slap of dusters, in an uproar of 
horns and bells. 

"Good deal like fighting a swarm of bees in your 
shirt-tail with a willow switch," old Bill panted at my 
shoulder. "Gosh!" as the snapping of firecrackers let 
loose beneath our feet. "Some o these mosquito-net 
skirts 11 get afire next then there ll be hell a-pop- 
ping!" 

Close at hand there was a louder report, as of a 
giant cracker, and at that Barbara sagged against me. 



THE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 289 

I whirled and put an arm about her. Bill grabbed 
her from me, and lifted her above the pressure of the 
crowd. I charged ahead, shouting, 

"Gangway! Let us through!" 

Willing enough, the mob could not make room for 
passage until my shoulder, lowered to strike at the 
breast, forced a way, that closed in the instant Bill 
gained through. It was football tactics, with me 
bucking the line, Bill carrying the ball. Fortunately, 
the bunch was a good-natured festival gathering, or 
my rough work might have brought us trouble. As 
it was, a short, stiff struggle took us to the outer fringe 
of the mob. 

"How is she? What happened?" I grunted, com 
ing to a stop. 

"Search me." Bill twisted around to look at 
the white face that lay back on his shoulder, with closed 
lids. Three strokes chimed from the city hall tower. 
Barbara s eyes flashed open ; as the last stroke trembled 
in the air, Barbara s voice came, sharp with breathless 
urgence, 

"A quarter of ten! Quick get me to the country 
club!" 

"Take you there? Now, d ye mean?" I ejaculated; 
and holding her like a baby, Bill s eyes flared into mine. 
"Did something happen to you back there, girl? Or 
did you just faint?" 

"Never mind about me ! There," that glance of hers 
that saw everything indicated a parking place packed 
with machines half a block away up a side street. 
"Carry me there. Take one of those cars. Get me to 
the country club. Don t " as I opened my mouth, 
"don t ask questions. 1 



290 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

I turned and ran. Bill galloped behind. Barbara 
had lifted her head to cry after me, 

"The best one! Pick the fastest!" 

I plunged down the line of cars, looking for a good 
machine and one with whose drive I was familiar. 
The guard rushed up to stop me; I showed him my 
badge, leaped into the front seat of a speed-built 
Tarpon, and had it out by the time Bill came up with 
the girl in his arms. I turned and swung open the 
tonneau door. Almost with one movement, he lifted 
her in. and -climbed after. I started off with bray 
ing horn, and at that I had to use caution. Making 
my way toward the corner of the street that led to 
Bill s house, I felt a small hand clutch the slack of my 
coat between the shoulders, and Barbara s voice, faint, 
but with a fury of determination in it, demanded, 

"Where are you going? I said the country club." 

"All right; I ll go. I ll look after whatever you 
want out there when I ve got you home." 

"Oh, oh," she moaned. "Won t you this one time 
take orders?" 

I went on past* the corner. She had a right to put 
it just that way. I gave the Tarpon all I dared in town 
streets. 

"What time is it?" I heard her whispering to Bill. 
"Eight minutes to ten?* I have to be there by ten, or 
it s no use. Can he make it? Do you think he can 
make it?" 

"Yes," I growled, crouching behind the wheel. "I ll 
make it. May have to kill a few but I ll get you 
there." 

By this, we d come out on the open highway, better, 
but not too clear, either. There followed seven min- 



THE BLOSSOM FESTIVAL 291 

utes of ripping through the night, of people who ran 
yelling to get out of our way and hurled curses behind 
us, only a* few cars meeting us like the whirling of 
comets in terrifying glimpses as we shot past; and, at 
last, the country club; strings of gay lanterns, winking 
ruby tail-lights of machines parked in front of it, the 
glare from its windows, and the strains of the 
orchestra in its ballroom, playing "On the Beach at 
Waikiki." When she heard it, Barbara thanked God 
with, 

"We re in time!" 

I took that machine up to the front steps over space 
never intended for automobiles, at a pace not proper 
for lawns or even roads, and only halted when I was 
half across the walk. Bill rolled from the tonneau 
door and stood by it. I jumped down and came 
around. 

"Lift me out, and put me on my feet," Barbara 
ordered. "Help me one on each side. I can walk. 
I. must!" 

We crossed a deserted porch; the evening s opening 
event the grand march had drawn every one, serv 
ants and all, inside. So far, without challenge, meet 
ing ncx one. We had the place to ourselves till we 
stood, the three of us alone, before the upper entrance 
of the assembly room. In there, the last strains of 
Waikiki died a\vay. I looked to Barbara. She was 
in commend. Her words back there in town had 
settled that for me. 

"What do we do now?" I asked. 

White as the linen she wore, the girl s face shone 
with some inner fire of passionate resolution. I saw 
this, too, in the determined, almost desperate energy 



292 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

with which she held herself erect, one clenched hand 
pressed hard against her side. 

"Take me in there, Mr. Boyne. And you," to Cape- 
hart, "find a man you can trust to guard each door of 
the ball-room." 

"What you say goes." Big Bill wheeled like a well 
trained cart-horse and had taken a step or two, when 
she called after him, 

"Arrest any one who attempts to enter." 

"Arrest em if they try to git in," Capehart repeated 
stoically. "Sure. That goes." But I interrupted, 

"You mean if they try to get out." 

At that she gave me a look. No time or breath to 
waste. Bill, unquestioning, had hurried to his part of 
the work. I took up mine with, "Forgive me, Barbara. 
I ll not make that mistake again" ; slipped my arm un 
der hers to support her; dragged open the big doors; 
shoved past the hallman there ; and we stepped into the 
many-colored, moving brilliance of the ball-room. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

THE COUNTRY CLUB BALL 

THE ballroom of the country club at Santa Ysobel 
is big and finely proportioned. I don t know if 
anything of the sort could have registered with me at 
the moment, but I remembered afterward my impres 
sion of the great hall fairly walled and roofed with 
fruit blossoms, and the gorgeousness of hundreds of 
costumes. The mere presence of potential funds 
raises the importance of an event. The prune kings 
and apricot barons down there, with their wives and 
daughters in real brocades, satins and velvets, with 
genuine jewels flashing over them, represented so much 
in the way of substantial wealth that it seemed to 
steady the whole fantastic scene. 

Barbara and I entered on the level of the slightly 
raised orchestra stand and only half a dozen paces 
from it. Nobody noticed us much ; we came in right 
on the turn of things floor managers darting around, 
orchestra with bows poised and horns at lips, the whole 
glittering company of maskers being made ready to 
weave their "Figure of Eight" across the dancing 
floor. My poor girl dragged on my arm ; her small 
feet scuffed; I lifted her along, wishing I might pick 
her up and carry her as Bill had done. I made for 
an unoccupied musicians bench; but once there, she 
only leaned against it, not letting go her hold on me, 

293 



294 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

and stood to take in every detail of the confused, mov 
ing scene. 

The double doors had swung closed behind us ; the 
hallman there who held the knob, now reinforced by a 
uniformed policeman. The servants way, at the fur 
ther end was shut ; men in plain clothes set their backs 
against it. And last, Big Bill himself in overalls, a 
touch of blunt blue realism, came fogging along the 
side-wall to swing into place the great wooden bar that 
secured the entire group of glass doors which gave on 
the porch. Barbara would have seen all these arrange 
ments while I was getting ready for my first glance, 
but I prompted her nervously with a low-toned, "All 
set, girl," and then as she still didn t speak, "Bill s got 
every door guarded." 

She nodded. The length of the room away, in the 
end gallery, was the cannery girl queen and her guard. 
Even at that distance, I recognized Eddie Hughes, in 
his pink-and-white Beef Eater togs, a gilded wooden 
spear in his hand, a flower tassel bobbing beside that 
long, drab, knobby countenance of his. There he was, 
the man I d jailed for Thomas Gilbert s murder. Be 
low on the dancing floor, were the two, Cummings and 
Bowman, who had put Worth behind the bars for the 
same crime. At my side was the pale, silent girl who 
declared that Clayte was the murderer. 

Whispered tuning and trying of instruments up here ; 
flutter and rush about down on the dancing floor ; and 
Barbara, that clenched left hand of hers still pressed 
in hard against her side, facing what problem? 

Crash ! Boom ! We were so close the music fairly 
deafened us, as, with a multiplied undernote of 
moving feet, the march began. On came those people 



THE COUNTRY CLUB BALL 295 

toward us, wave behind wave of color and magnifi 
cence, dotted with little black ovals of masks pierced 
by gleaming eyeholes. I could sense Barbara reading 
the room as it bore down on her, and reading it clearly, 
getting whatever it was she had come there for. My 
self, I was overwhelmed, drowned in the size and sweep 
of everything, struggling along, whispering to her 
when I spotted Jim Edwards in his friar s robe, 
noticed that the Roman soldier who must be Cummings, 
and Bowman, the Spaniard, squired the Thornhill 
twins in their geisha girl dresses; the crimson poppies 
of a Lady of Dreams looked odd against Laura Bow 
man s coppery hair. 

At the head of the procession as they swung around, 
leading it with splendid dignity, came a pair who might 
have been Emperor and Empress of China the Van- 
demans. To go on with affairs as if nothing had 
happened though Worth Gilbert was in jail had 
been the laid-down policy of both Vandeman and his 
wife. I d thought it reasonable then; foolish to get 
hot at it now. The great, shining, rhythmically mov 
ing line deployed, interwove, and opened out again 
until at last the floor was almost evenly occupied w r ith 
the many-colored mass. I looked at Barbara ; the 
awful intensity with which she read her room hurt me. 
It had nothing to do with that flirt of a glance she 
always gave a printed page, that mere toss of atten 
tion she was apt to offer a problem. The child was in 
anguish, whether merely the ache of sorrow, or actual 
bodily pain ; I saw how rigidly that small fist still 
pressed against the knitted wool of her sweater, how 
her lip was drawn in and bitten. Her physical weak 
ness contrasted strangely with the clean cut decision, 



296 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

the absolute certainty of her mental power. She 
raised her face and looked straight up into mine. 

"Have the music stopped." 

I leaned over and down toward the orchestra leader 
to catch his eye, holding toward him the badge. His 
glance caught it, and I told him what we wanted. He 
nodded. For an instant the music flooded on, then at 
a sharp rap of the baton, broke off in mid-motion, as 
though some great singing thing had caught its breath. 
And all the swaying life and color on the floor stopped 
as suddenly. Barbara had picked the moment that 
brought Ina Vandeman and her husband squarely fac 
ing us. After the first instant s bewilderment, Van 
deman and his floor managers couldn t fail to realize 
that they were being held up by an outsider ; with Bar 
bara in full sight up here by the orchestra, they must 
know who was doing it. I wondered not to have 
Vandeman in my hair already ; but he and his consort 
stood in dignified silence; it was his committee who 
came after me, a Mephistopheles, a troubadour, an 
Indian brave, a Hercules with his club, swarming up 
the step, wanting to know if I was the man responsible, 
why the devil I had done it, who the devil I thought I 
was, anyhow. Others were close behind. 

"Edwards," I called to the brown friar, "can you 
keep these fellows off me for a minute?" 

Still not a word from Barbara. Nothing from 
Vandeman. Less than nothing: I watched in astonish 
ment how the gorgeous leader stopped dumb, while 
those next him backed into the couple behind, side step 
ping, so that the whole line yawed, swayed, and began 
to fall into disorder. 

"Cummings," as I glimpsed the lawyer s chain mail 



THE COUNTRY CLUB BALL 297 

and purple feather, "Keep them all in place if you can. 
All." 

In the instant, from behind my shoulder Barbara 
spoke. 

"Have that man take off his mask." 

A little, shaking white hand pointed at the leader. 

"Mr. Vandeman," I said. "That s an order. It ll 
have to be done." 

The words froze everything. Hardly a sound or 
movement in the great crowded room, except the little 
rustle as some one tried to see better. And there, all 
eyes on him, Bronson Vandeman stood with his arms 
at his sides, mute as a fish. Ina fumbled nervously 
at the cord of her own mask, calling to me in a fierce 
undertone, 

"What do you mean, Mr. Boyne, bringing that girl 
here to spoil things. This is spite-work." 

"Off take his mask off! Do it yourself!" Bar 
bara s voice was clear and steady. 

I made three big jumps of the space between us 
and the leading couple. Vandeman s committee- 
men obstructed me, the excited yip going amongst 
them. 

"Vandeman Bronse Vannie Who let this fool 
in here? Do we throw him out?" 

Then they took the words from Edwards ; the tune 
changed to grumblings of, "What s the matter with 
Van? Why doesn t he settle it one way or another, 
and be done?" 

Why didn t he? I had but a breath of time to won 
der at that, as I shoved a way through. Darn him, 
like a graven image there, the only mute, immovable 
thing in that turmoil! I began to feel sore. 



298 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

"You heard what she said?" I took no trouble now 
to be civil. "She wants your mask oft." 

No flicker of response from the man, but the Em 
press of China dragged down her mask, crying, 

"Heard what she said? What she wants?" Over 
the shoulders of the crowd she gave Barbara Wallace 
a venomous look, then came at me. 

A little too late. My hand had shot out and snatched 
the mask from the face of China s monarch. A mo 
ment I glared, the bit of black stuff in my grasp, at 
the alien countenance I had uncovered. Crowding and 
craning of the others to see. Jabbering, exclaiming 
all around us. 

"Corking make-up ; looks like a sure-enough China 
man." 

"No make-up at all. The real thing." 

"What s the big idea?" 

"Why did he unmask, then?" 

"Didn t want to. They made him." 

And last, but loudest, repeated time and again, with 
wonder, with distaste, with rising anger, 

"The Vandeman s Chinese cook!" 

For with the ripping away of that black oval, I 
had looked into the slant, inscrutable eyes of Pong- 
Ling. Hemmed in by the crowd, he could but face 
me; he did so with a kind of unhuman passivity. 

And the committee went wild. Their own masks 
came off on the run. I saw Cummings face, Bow 
man s ; Eddie Hughes slid from the balcony stair and 
bucked the crowd, pushing through to the seat of war. 
The grand march had become a jostling, gabbling 
chaos. 

Barbara, up there, above it all, knew what she was 



THE COUNTRY CLUB BALL 299 

about. I had utter confidence in her. But she was 
plainly holding back for a further development, her 
eyes on the entrances ; and what the devil was my 
next move? 

Ina Vandeman wheeled where she stood and faced 
the room, both hands thrown up, laughing. 

"It was meant to be a joke a great, big foolish 
joke!" her high treble rang out. "Bron s here some 
where. Wait. He ll tell you better than I could. At 
a masquerade people do they do foolish things. 
. . . They" 

"Is Bronse Vandeman here?" I questioned Fong 
Ling. The Chinaman s stiff lips moved for the first 
time, in his "formal, precise English. 

"Yes, sir. Mr. Vandeman will explain/ He 
crossed his hands and resigned the matter to his em 
ployer. And I demanded of Ina Vandeman, "You 
tell us your husband s present in this room ? Now ?" 
and when her answer was drowned in the noise, I 
roared, 

"Vandeman ! Bronson Vandeman ! You re wanted 
here!" 

No answer. Edwards took up the call after me; 
the committee yelled the name in all keys and varia 
tions. In the middle of our squawking, a minor dis 
turbance broke out across by the porch entrance, where 
Big Bill Capehart stood. As I looked, he turned over 
his post to Eddie Hughes, who came abreast of him 
at the moment, and started, scuffling and struggling 
toward us, with a captive. 

"I had my orders !" his big voice boomed out. 
"Pinch any one that tried to get in. Y don t pass me 
not if you was own cousin to God A mighty!" 



300 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

On they came through the crowd, all mixed up ; blue 
overalls, and a flapping costume whose rich, many- 
colored silk embroideries, flashed like jewels. A space 
widened about us for them. The big garage man spun 
his catch to the center of it, so that he faced the 
room, his back to the orchestra. 

"Wanted in, did ya? Now yer in, what about it?" 

What about it, indeed? In Bill s prisoner, as he 
stood there twitching ineffectually against that ob 
stinate hold, breathing loud, shakily settling his clothes, 
we had, robe for robe, cap for cap, a duplicate Em 
peror of China! 

And the next moment, this figure took off its mask 
and showed the face of Bronson Vandeman. 

Dead silence all about us; Capehart loosened his 
grip, abashed but still truculent. 

"Dang it all, Mr. Vandeman, if you didn t want to 
get mussed up, what made you fight like that?" 

"Fight?" Vandeman found his voice. "Who 
wouldn t? I was late, and you " 

"Bron!" After one desperate glance toward the 
girl up on the platform, Ina ran to him and put a 
hand on his arm. "They stopped the march. . . . 
Your the they spoiled our joke. But have them 
start the music again. You re here now. Let s go 
on with the march . . . explain afterward." 

"Good business!" Vandeman filled his chest, 
glanced across at Fong Ling, and gave his social circle 
a rather poor version of the usual white-toothed smile. 
"Jokes can wait especially busted ones. On with 
the dance; let joy be unrefined!" 

Sidelong, I saw the orchestra leader s baton go up. 
But no music followed. It was at Barbara the baton 



THE COUNTRY CLUB BALL 301 

had pointed, at Barbara that all the crowded company 
stared. Her little white dress clung to her slender 
figure. I saw that now she was in the strange Buddha 
pose. A few flecks of silver paper, still in her black 
hair, made it sparkle. But it was Barbara s eyes that 
held us all spellbound. In her colorless face those 
wonderful openings of black light seemed to look 
through and beyond us. For an instant there was no 
stir. Hundreds of faces set toward her, held by the 
wonder of her. Fong Ling s yellow visage moved for 
the first time from its immobility with a sort of awe, 
a dread. And when my gaze came back to her, I 
noticed that, with the dropping of her hands to join 
the fingertips, she had left, where that little, pressing 
fist had been, a blur of red on the white sweater. 
Over me it rushed with the force of calamity, she had 
been wounded when she sank down back there in the 
crowd. It was a shot not a giant cracker we had 
heard. 

"Vandeman," I whirled on him, "You shot this 
girl. You tried to kill her." 

Sensation enough among the others; but I doubt if 
he even heard me. His gaze had found Barbara ; all 
the bounce, all the jauntiness was out of the man, as he 
stared with the same haunted fear his eyes had held 
when she concentrated last night at his own dinner 
table. 

She was concentrating now; could she stand the 
strain of it, with its weakening of the heart action, 
its pumping all the blood to the brain? I shouldered 
my way to her, and knelt beside her, begging, 

"Don t, Barbara. Give it up, girl. You can t stand 
this." 



302 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

Her hands unclasped. Her eyes grew normal. She 
relaxed, sighingly. I leaned closer while she wmV 
pered to me the last addition in that problem of two 
and two the full solution. Armed, I faced Vande-t 
man once more. 

Something seemed to be giving way in the man; 
his lips were almost as pale as his face, and that had 
been, from the moment he uncovered it, like tallow. 
He looked withered, smaller; his hair where it had 
been pressed down by mask and cap, crossed his fore 
head, flat, smooth, dull brown, I saw, half con 
sciously, that Fong Ling was gone. An accomplice? 
No matter; the criminal himself was here Barbara s 
wonder man. It was to him I spoke. 

"Edward Clayte," at the name, Cummings clanked 
around front to stare. "I hold a warrant for your 
arrest for the theft of nine hundred and eighty seven 
thousand dollars from the Van Ness Avenue Savings 
Bank of San Francisco." 

He made a sick effort to square his shoulders; 
fumbled with his hair to toss it back from its straight-* 
down sleekness, as Clayte, to the pompadoured crest of 
Vandeman. How often I had seen that gesture, not 
understanding its significance. Cummings, at my side, 
drew in a breath, with, 

"Why damn it! he is Clayte!" 

"All right," I let the words go from the corner oi 
my mouth at the lawyer, in the same hushed tones he d 
used. "See how you like this next one," and finished, 
loud enough so all might hear, 

"And I charge you, Edward Clayte Bronson Van 
deman with the murder of Thomas Gilbert." 



CHAPTER XXIX 

UNMASKED 

DISGRACE was in the air; the country club had 
seen its vice president in handcuffs. There was 
a great gathering up of petticoats and raising of moral 
umbrellas to keep clear of the dirty splashings. It 
made me think of a certain social occasion in Israel 
some thousands of years ago, when Absalom, at his 
own party, put a raw one over on his brother Amnon, 
and all the rest of King David s sons looked at each 
other with jaws sagging, and "every man gat himself 
up upon his mule and fled." Here, it was limousines; 
more than one noble chariot filled with members of 
the faction who d helped to rush Vandeman into office 
over the claims of older members rolled discredited 
down the drive. 

Yet a ball is the hardest thing in the world to kill ; 
like a lizard, if you break it in two, the head and tail 
go right on wriggling independently. Also, behind 
this masked affair at the country club was the business 
proposition of a lot of blossom festival visitors from 
all over the state who mustn t be disappointed. By 
the time I d finished out in front, getting my prisoner 
off to the lockup, sending Eddie Hughes, with Cape- 
hart and the other helpers he d picked up to guard the 
Vandeman bungalow, handed over to the Santa Ysobel 
police the matter of finding Fong Ling, and turned 
back to see how Barbara was getting on, the music 

303 



304 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

sounded once more, the rhythmic movement of many 
feet. 

"The boys have got it started again," Jim Edwards 
joined me in the hall, his tone still lowered and odd 
from the amazement of the thing. "Curious, that 
business in there yesterday," a nod indicated the little 
writing room toward which we moved. "Bronse step 
ping in, brisk and cool, for you to question him; 
pleasant, ordinary looking chap. Would you say he 
had it in his head right then to murder you or Bar 
bara if you came too hot on his trail?" 

"Me?" I echoed sheepishly. "He never paid me 
that compliment. He wasn t afraid of me. I think 
Barbara sealed her own fate, so far as he was con 
cerned, when she let Worth pique her into doing a 
concentrating stunt at Vandeman s dinner table last 
night. The man saw that nothing she turned that 
light on could long stay hidden. He must have de 
cided, then, to put her out of the way. As for his 
wife well, however much or little she knew, she d 
not defend Barbara Wallace." 

At that, Edwards gave me a look, but all he said 
was, 

"Cummings has suffered a complete change of 
heart, it seems. I left him in the telephone booth, 
just now, calling up Dykeman. He ll certainly keep 
the wires hot for Worth." 

"He d better," I agreed; and only Edwards s slight, 
dark smile answered me. 

"There s a side entrance here," he explained mildly, 
as we came to the turn of the hall. "I ll unlock it;- 
and when Barbara s ready to be taken home, we can 
get her out without every one gaping at her." 



UNMASKED 305 

He was still at the lock, his back to me, when a 
door up front slammed, and a Spanish Cavalier came 
bustling down the corridor, pulling off a mask to show 
me Bowman s face, announcing, 

"I think you want me in there. That girl should 
have competent medical attention." 

"She has that already," I spoke over my shoulder. 
"And if she hadn t, do you think she d let you touch 
her, Bowman? Man, you ve got no human feeling. 
If you had a shred, you d know that to her it is as 
true you tried to take Worth s life with your lying 
testimony as it is that Vandeman murdered Worth s 
father with a gun." 

"Hah!" the doctor panted at me; he was fairly 
sober, but still a bit thick in the wits. "You people 
ain t classing me with this crook Vandeman, are you? 
You can t do that. No of course Laura s set you 
all against me." 

Edwards straightened up from the door. With his 
first look at that fierce, dark face, the doctor began to 
back off, finally scuttling around the turn into the 
main hall at what was little less than a run. 

They had Barbara sitting in the big Morris chair 
while they finished adjusting bandages and garments. 
Our young cub of a doctor, silver buttoned velveteen 
coat off, sleeves rolled up, hailed us cheerily, 

"That bullet went where it could get the most blood 
for the least harm, I d say. Have her all right in a 
jiffy. At that, if it had been a little further to one 
side" 

And I knew that Edward Clayte s bullet Bronson 
Vandeman s had narrowly missed Barbara s heart. 

"This wonderful girl!" the doctor went on with 



306 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

young enthusiasm, as he bandaged and pinned. "Sit 
ting up there, wounded as she was, and forgetting it, 
she looked to me more than human. Sort of effect as 
though light came from her." 

"I was ashamed of myself back there in the Square, 
Mr. Boyne," Barbara s voice, good and strong, cut 
across his panegyric. "Never in my life did I feel 
like that before. My brain wasn t functioning nor 
mally at all. I was confused, full of indecision." She 
mentioned that state, so painfully familiar to ordinary 
humanity, as most people would speak of being raving 
crazy. "It was agonizing," she smiled a little at the 
others. "Poor Mr. Boyne helping me along we d got 
somehow into a crowd. And I was just a lump of 
flesh. I hardly knew where we were. Then suddenly 
came the sound of the shot, the stinging, burning feel 
ing in my side. It knocked my body down; but my 
mind came clear; I could use it." 

"I ll say you could," I smiled. "From then on, 
Bill Capehart and I were the lumps of flesh that you 
heaved around without explanation." 

"There wasn t time; and I was afraid you d find 
out what had happened to me, and wouldn t bring me 
here," she said simply. "I knew that the one motive 
for silencing me was the work I d been doing for Mr. 
Boyne." 

"Sure," I said, light breaking on me. "And every 
possible suspect in the Gilbert murder case was under 
this roof or supposed to be the grand march would 
be the show-down as to that. And just then the clock 
struck! Poor girl!" 

"It was a race against time," Barbara agreed. "If 
we could get here first, hold the door against who- 



UNMASKED 307 

ever came flying to get in, we d have the one who 
shot me." 

"But, Barbara child," Laura Bowman was working 
at a sweater sleeve on the bandaged side. "You did 
get here and caught Bronson Vandeman ; it had worked 
out all right. Why did you risk sitting up in that 
strained pose, wounded as you were, to concentrate?" 

"For Worth. I had to relate this crime to the one 
for which he d been arrested. Within the hour, I d 
gathered facts that showed me Edward Clayte killed 
Worth s father. When I brought that man and his 
crime to stand before me, and Bronson Vandeman and 
his crime to stand beside it as I can bring things 
when I concentrate on them I found they dove-tailed 
the impossible was true these two were one man." 
She looked around at the four of us, wondering at her, 
and finished, "Can t they take me home now, doctor?" 

"Sit and rest a few minutes. Have the door open," 
the young fellow said. And on the instant there came 
a call for me from the side entrance. 

"Mr. Boyne are you in there? May I speak to 
you, please?" 

It was Skeet Thornhill s voice. "I went out into the 
entry. There, climbing down from the old Ford truck, 
leaving its engine running, was Skeet herself. Her 
glance went first to the door I closed behind me. 

"Yes," I answered its question. "She s in there." 
Then, moved by the frank misery of her eyes, "She ll 
be all right. Very little hurt." 

She said something under her breath; I thought it 
was "Thank God!" looked about the deserted side en 
trance, seemed to listen to the flooding of music and 
movement from the ballroom, then lifting to mine a 



308 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

face so pale that its freckles stood out on it, faltered 
a step closer and studied me. 

They phoned us," scarcely above a whisper. 
"Mother sent me for the girls and Ina, Mr. Boyne," 
a break in her voice, "am I going to be able to take 
Ina back with me? Or is she do they ?" 

"Wait," I said. "Here she comes now," as Cum- 
mings brought young Mrs. Vandeman toward us. She 
moved haughtily, head up, a magnificent evening wrap 
thrown over her costume, and saw her sister without 
surprise. 

"Skeet," she crossed and stood with her back to 
me, "there s been some trouble here. Keep it from 
mother if you can. I m leaving but we ll get it all 
fixed up. How did you get here? Can I take you 
back in the limousine?" 

The big, closed car, one of Vandeman s wedding 
gifts to her, purred slowly up the side drive, circling 
Skeet s old truck, and stopped a little beyond. Skeet 
gave it one glance, then reached a twitching hand to 
catch on the big silken sleeve. 

"You can t go to the bungalow, Ina. As I came 
past, they were placing men around it to to watch it." 

"What!" Ina wheeled on us, looking from one to 
the other. "Mr. Boyne Mr. Cummings who had 
that done?" 

"Does it matter?" I countered. She made me tired. 

"Does it matter?" she snapped up my words v "Am 
I to be treated as if as though " 

Even Ina Vandeman s effrontery wouldn t carry her 
to a finish on that. I completed it for her, explicitly, 

"Mrs. Vandeman, whether you are detained as an 
accomplice or merely a material witness, I m respon- 



UNMASKED 309 

sible for you. I would have the authority to allow you 
to go with your sister; but you ll not be permitted to 
even enter the bungalow." 

"It s nearly midnight," she protested. "I have no 
clothes but this costume. I must go home." 

"Oh, come on!" Skeet pleaded. "Don t you see that 
doesn t do any good, Ina? You can get something at 
our house to wear." 

She gave me a long look, her chin still high, her 
eyes hard and unreadable. Then, "For the present, I 
shall go to a hotel." She laid a hand on Skeet s shoul 
der, but it was only to push her away. "Tell mother," 
evenly, "that I ll not bring my trouble into her house. 
Oh you want Ernestine and Cora? Well, get them 
and go." And with firm step she walked to her car. 

I nodded to Cummings. 

"Have one of Dykeman s men pick her up and hang 
tight," I said, and he smiled back understandingly, 
with, 

"Already done, Boyne. I want to speak to Miss 
Wallace if I may. Will you please see for me?" 

A moment later, he marched shining and jingling, 
in through a door that he left open behind him, pulled 
off his Roman helmet as though it had been a hat, and 
stood unconsciously fumbling that shoe-brush thing 
they trim those ancient lids with. 

"Barbara," he met the eyes of the girl in the chair 
unflinchingly, "you told me last night that the only 
words T ever could speak to you would be in the way 
of an apology. Will you hear one now? I m ready 
to make it. Talk doesn t count much; but I m going 
the limit to put Worth Gilbert s release through." 

There was a long silence, Barbara looking at him 



310 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

quite unmoved. Behind that steady gaze lay the facts 
that Worth Gilbert s life and honor had been threat 
ened by this man s course; that she herself was only 
alive because the bullet of that criminal whom his 
action unconsciously shielded missed its aim by an 
inch: Worth s life, her life, their love and all that 
might mean and Barbara had eyes you could read 
I didn t envy Cummings as he faced her. Finally 
she said quietly, 

"I ll accept your apology, Mr. Cummings, when 
Worth is free." 



CHAPTER XXX 

A CONFESSION 

IN the dingy office of the city prison, with its sand 
boxes and barrel stove, its hacked old desks, dusty 
books and papers, I watched Bronson Vandeman, and 
wondered to see how the man I had known played in 
and out across his face with the man Edward Clayte, 
whom I had tried to imagine, whom nobody could 
describe. 

Helping to recover Clayte s loot for Worth Gilbert 
looked to the opposition their best bet for squaring 
themselves. Dykeman from his sick bed, had dug us 
up a stenographer; Cummings had climbed out of his 
tin clothes and come along with us to the jail. They 
wanted the screws put on; but I intended to handle 
Vandeman in my own way. I had halted the lawyer 
on the lock-up threshold, with, 

"Cummings, I want you to keep still in here. When 
I m done with the man, you can question him all you 
want if he s left anything to be told." I answered 
a doubtful look, "Did you see his face there in the 
ball room as he looked up at Barbara Wallace? He 
thinks that girl knows everything, like a supreme being. 
He s still so shaken that he d spill out anything every 
thing. He ll hardly .suppose he s telling us anything 
we don t know." 

And Vandeman bore out expectations. Now, pro 
vided with a raincoat to take the place of his Man- 

311 



312 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

darin robe, his trousers still the lilac satin ones of that 
costume, he surveyed us and our preparations with a 
half smile as we settled our stenographer and took 
chairs ourselves. 

"I look like hell what?" He spoke fast as a man 
might with a drink ahead. But it was not alcohol 
that was loosening his tongue. "Why can t some one 
go up to my place and get me a decent suit of clothes? 
God knows I ve plenty there closets full of them." 

"Time enough when th Shurff gets here," Roll Win- 
chell, the town marshall grunted at him. "I m not 
taking any chances on you, Mr. Vandeman. You ll 
do me as you are." 

"Stick a smoke in my face, Cummings," came next 
in a voice that twanged like a stretched string. "Damn 
these bracelets! Light it, can t you? Light it." He 
puffed eagerly, got to his feet and began walking up 
and down the room, glancing at us from time to time, 
raising the manacled hands grotesquely to his cigar, 
drawing in a breath as though to speak, then shaking 
his head, grinning a little and walking on. I knew the 
mood; the moment was coming when he must talk. 
The necessity to reel out the whole thing to whomever 
would listen was on him like a sneeze. It s always 
so at this stage of the game. 

For all the hullabaloo in the streets, we were quiet 
enough here, since the lock-up at Santa Ysobel lurks 
demurely, as such places are apt to do, in the rear of 
the building whose garbage can it is. Our pacing 
captive could keep silent no longer. Shooting a side 
long glance at me, he broke out, 

"I m not a common crook, Boyne, even if I do come 
of a family of them, and my father s in Sing Sing. I 



A CONFESSION 313 

put him there. They d not have caught him without. 
He was an educated man never worked anything but 
big stuff. At that, what was the best he could do 
or any of them? Make a haul, and all they got out 
of it was a spell of easy money that they only had the 
chance to spend while they were dodging arrest. 
Sooner or later every one of them I knew got put away 
for a longer or shorter term. Growing up like that, 
getting my education in the public schools daytimes, 
and having a finish put on it nights with the gang, I 
decided that I was going to be, not honest, but the 
hundredth man the thousandth who can pull off a 
big thing and neither have to hide nor go to prison/ 

This was promising; a little different from the or 
dinary brag; I signaled inconspicuously to our stenog 
rapher to keep right on the job. 

"When I was twenty-four years old, I saw my 
chance to shake the gang and try out my own idea," 
Clayte rattled it off feelinglessly. "It was a lone hand 
for me. My father had made a stake by a forgery; 
checks on the City bank. I knew where the money 
was hid, eight thousand and seventy nine dollars. It 
would just about do me. I framed the old man I 
told you he was in Sing Sing now took my working 
capital and came out here to the Coast. That money 
had to make me rich for life, respected, comfortable. 
I figured that my game was as safe as dummy whist." 

"Yeh," said Roll Winchell, the marshal, gloomily, 
"them high-toned Eastern crooks always comin out 
here thinkin they ll find the Coast a soft snap." 

"Two years I worked as a messenger for the San 
Francisco Trust Company," Clayte s voice ran right 
on past Winchell s interruption, "a model employee, 



314 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

straight as they come; then decided they were too big 
for me to tackle, and used their recommendation to 
get a clerk s job with the Van Ness Avenue concern. 
I was after the theft of at least a half million dollars, 
with a perfect alibi ; and the smaller institution suited 
my plan. It took me four years to work up to paying 
teller, but I wasn t hurrying things. I was using my 
capital now to build that perfect alibi." 

He glanced around nervously as the stenographer 
turned a leaf, then went on, 

"I d picked out this town for the home of the man 
I was going to be. It suited me, because it was on a 
branch line of the railway, hardly used at all by men 
whose business was in the city, and off the main high 
way of automobile travel; besides, I liked the place 
I ve always liked it." 

"Sure flattered," came the growl as Winchell stirred 
in his chair. 

"My bungalow and grounds cost me four thousand : 
at that it was a run-down place and I got it cheap. 
The mahogany old family pieces that I was supposed 
to bring in from the East came high. Yet maybe 
you d be surprised how the idea took with me. I used 
to scrimp and save off my salary at the bank to buy 
things for the place, to keep up the right scale of 
living for Bronson Vandeman, traveling agent for 
eastern manufacturers, not at home much in Santa 
Ysobel yet, but a man of fine family, rich prospects, 
and all sorts of a good fellow, settled in the place for 
the rest of his days." 

He turned suddenly and grinned at me. 

"You swallowed it whole, Boyne, when you walked 



A CONFESSION 315 

into my house last night the old family furniture I 
bought in Los Angles, the second-hand library, that 
family portrait, with a ring on my finger, and the 
same painted in on what was supposed to be my 
fathers hand." 

"Sure," I nodded amiably, "You had me fooled." 

"And without a bit of crude make-up or disguise," 
he rubbed it in. "It was a change of manner and 
psychology for mine. As Edward Clayte and that s 
not my name, either, any more than Vandeman I 
was description-proof. I meant to be and I was. 
It took her the girl," his face darkened and he 
jerked at his cigar, "to deduce that a nonenity who 
could get away with nearly a million dollars and leave 
no trail was some man!" 

I raised my head with a start and stared at the man 
in his raincoat and lilac silk pantaloons. 

"That s so," I fed it to him, "She had a name for 
you. She called you the wonder man." 

"Did she!" a pleased smile. "Well, I ll give her 
right on that. I was some little wonder man. Listen," 
his insistent over-stimulated voice went eagerly on, 
"The beauty of my scheme was that up to the very 
last move, there was nothing criminal in my leading 
this double life. You see as I got stronger and 
stronger here in Santa Ysobel, I bought a good ma 
chine, a speedster that could burn up the road. Many s 
the stag supper I ve had with the boys there in my 
bungalow, and been back behind the wicket as Edward 
Clayte in the Van Ness Avenue bank on time next 
morning. I was in that room at the St. Dunstan about 
as much as a fellow s in his front hall. I walked 



316 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

through it to Henry J. Brundage s room at the Nug 
get; I stayed there more often than I did at the St. 
Dunstan, unless I came on here. 

"I d left marriage out. Then that night four years 
ago when Ina had her little run-in with old Tom 
Gilbert and got her engagement to Worth smashed, 
I saw there might be girls right in the class I was 
trying to break into that would be possible for a man 
like me. The date for our wedding was set, when 
Thomas Gilbert remarked to me one afternoon as we 
were coming off the golf links together, that he was 
buying a block of Van Ness Savings Bank stock. 
For a minute I felt like caving in his head, then and 
there, with the golf club I carried. What a hell of 
a thing to happen, right at the last this way! Ten 
chances to one I d have this man to silence; but it 
must be done right. Not much room for murder in 
so full a career as mine holding down a teller s job, 
running for the vice presidency of the country club, 
getting married in style but every time I d look up 
from behind my teller s grille, and see any one near 
the size of old Gilbert walk in the front door, it 
gave me the shivers. I d put more than eight years 
of planning and hard work into this scheme, and you ll 
admit, Boyne, that what I had was some alibi. A 
wedding like that in a town of this size makes a big 
noise. I managed to be back and forth so much that 
people got the idea I was hardly out of Santa Ysobel. 
The Friday night before, I had a stag supper at my 
house, and Saturday morning if any one had called, 
Fong Ling would have told them I was sleeping late, 
and couldn t be disturbed. On the forenoon of my 
wedding day, then, I sat as Edward Clayte in my 



A CONFESSION 317 

teller s cage, the suitcase I had carried back and forth 
empty for so many Saturdays now loaded with cur 
rency and securities, not one of which was trace 
able, and whose amount I believed would run close 
to a million. It was within three minutes of closing 
time, when some one rapped on the counter at my 
wicket, and I looked straight up into the face of old 
Tom Gilbert. 

"I saw 7 a flash of doubtful recognition in his eyes, 
but didn t dare to avoid them while counting bills and 
silver to pay his check. If I had done so, he would 
certainly have known me. As it was, I saw that I 
convinced him almost. I watched him as he went 
out, saw him hesitate a little at the door of Knapp s 
office he wasn t quite sure enough. I knew the man. 
The instant he made certain, he would act. 

"The old devil wasn t on terms to attend the re 
ception at the Thornhill place, but I located him in an 
aisle seat, when I first came from the vestry with 
my best man. All through the ceremony I felt his 
eyes boring into my back. When I finally faced him, 
as Ina and I walked out, man and wife, I knew he 
recognized me, and almost expected him to step out 
and denounce me. But no a fellow leading a double 
life was all he saw in it; bigamy was the worst he d 
suspect me of at the moment. He didn t give Ina 
much, wouldn t lift a finger to defend her. 

"Meantime, the manner of his taking off lay easy 
to my hand. I d studied the situation through that 
skylight, seen Ed Hughes juggle the bolts with his 
magnets, and mapped the thing out. Gilbert killed 
there, the room found bolted, was a cinch for suicide. 
When the reception at the Thornhill house was over, 



3i8 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

I made an excuse of something needed for the journey, 
and started across to my bungalow. It was common 
for all of us to cross through the lawns; I hid in the 
shrubbery. 

"There were people with Gilbert, no chance for me 
to do anything. I stood there and nearly went out of 
my hide with impatience over the delays, while he 
had his row with Worth, when Laura Bowman and 
Jim Edwards came and braced him to let up on his 
persecution of them. Mrs. Bowman finally left; he 
went with her toward the front. Now was my chance ; 
I dodged into the study, jerked his own pistol from its 
holster, squeezed myself in behind the open door and 
waited. He came back; I let him get into the room, 
past me a little, and when at some sound I made, he 
turned, the muzzle of the gun was shoved against 
his chest and fired. 

"I d barely finished pressing Gilbert s fingers around 
the pistol butt when I heard a cry outside, jumped to 
the door, shut and bolted it just as my mother-in-law 
ran in across the lawns. I gathered that she d been 
there earlier to get those three leaves out of the diary 
that you were so interested in, Boyne; had just read 
them and come back to have it out with old Tom. 
She hung around for five minutes, I should say, beating 
on the door, calling, asking if anything was wrong. 

"My one big mistake in the study was that diary 
of 1920. It lay open on the desk where he d been 
writing. It did tell of his having identified me as 
Clayte. I d not expected it, and so I didn t handle 
it well. Time pressed. I couldn t carry it with me; 
I tore out the leaf, stuck the book into the drainpipe, 
and ran. 



A CONFESSION 319 

"And after all," he summed up, "my plans would 
have gone through on schedule; you never could have 
touched me with your clumsy, police-detective methods, 
if it hadn t been for the girl." 

He dropped his head and stood brooding a moment, 
demanded another smoke, got it, shrugged off some 
thought with a gesture, and finished, 

"I was in too deep to turn. It was her life or 
mine. Things went contrary. We couldn t get her 
to come out to the masquerade, where it would have 
been easy. With those two Mandarin costumes, Fong 
Ling in my place, I had my time from the hour we 
put on the masks till midnight. Another perfect alibi. 
Well it didn t work. They say you have to shoot 
a witch with a silver bullet. And she s more than 
human." 

A siren s dry shriek as the Sheriff s gasoline buggy 
made its way through the crowded street outside. 
Cummings raised his brows at me, got my nod of 
permission, and shot his first question at the prisoner. 

"Vandeman, where s the money?" 

"Not within a hundred miles of here," instantly. 

"You took it south with you on your wedding 
trip?" Cummings would persist. But our man, so ex 
pansive a moment ago, had, as I knew he would at 
direct mention of his loot, turned sullen, and he started 
for the San Jose jail, mum as an oyster. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

THE Sheriff had gone with his prisoner; Cum- 
mings left; and then there came to me, in the 
street there before the lock-up, riding with Jim 
Edwards in his roadster, a Worth Gilbert I had never 
known. Quiet he had been before; but never con 
siderate like this. When I rushed up to him with my 
triumph and congratulations, and he put them aside, 
it was with a curious gentleness. 

"Yes, yes, Jerry; I know. Vandeman turned out 
to be Clayte." Then, noticing my bewilderment, "You 
see, Jim let it slip that Barbara s hurt. Where is 
she?" And Edwards leaned around to explain. 

"When we came past Capehart s, and she wasn t 
there, I " 

"Oh, that s only a scratch," I hurried to assure the 
boy. "Barbara ll be all right." 

"So Jim said," he agreed soberly. "I m afraid 
you re both lying to me." 

"All right," I climbed in beside him. "We ll go 
and see. She s up at your house waiting for you." 

As we headed away for the other end of town, he 
spoke again, half interrogatively, 

"Vandeman shot her?" and when I nodded. "He s 
on his way to jail. I m out. But I m the man that s 
responsible for what s happened to her. Dragged her 
into this thing, in the first place. She hated those 

320 



THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 321 

concentrating stunts; and I set her to do one at that 
woman s table. To help play my game I risked her 
life/ 

I listened in wonder; sidelong, in the dimness, I 
studied the carriage of head and shoulders: no diminu 
tion of power; but a new use of it. This was not the 
crude boy who would knock everybody s plans to bits 
for a whim; Worth had found himself; and what a 
man! 

"How does it look for recovering the money, 
Boyne?" Edwards questioned as we drove along. 

I plunged into the hottest of that stuff Clayte-Vande- 
man had spilled, talked fascinatingly, as I thought, for 
three minutes, and paused to hear Worth say, 

"Who s with Barbara at my house?" 

"Mrs. Bowman," I said in despair, and quit right 
there. 

We came into Broad Street a little above the Vande- 
man bungalow which lay black and silent, the lights 
of Worth s house showing beyond. As we turned the 
corner, a man jumped up from the shadow of the 
hedge where the Vandeman lawn joined the Gilbert 
place; there was a flash; the report of a gun; our 
watchers had flushed some one. I d barely had time 
to say so to the others when there was a second sharp 
crack, then the whine of a ricochetting chunk of lead 
as it zipped from the asphalt to sing over our heads. 

"Beat it !" I yelled. "Stop the car and get to cover !" 

Edwards slowed. A moment Worth hung on the 
running board, peering in the direction of the sounds. 
I started to climb out after him. There came an 
other shoj from up ahead, and then a s^iout. As I 
tumbled to my feet in the dark road, Worth had 



322 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

started away on the jump. And I saw then, what I d 
missed before, that the man who had burst from the 
hedge, was running zig-zag down the open roadway to 
ward us. He was making his legs spin, and dodging 
from side to side as if to duck bullets. Worth headed 
straight for him, as though it wasn t plain that some 
one out of sight somewhere was making a target of 
the runner. 

Not the kind of a scrap I care for; in a half light 
you can t tell friend from foe ; but Worth went to it 
and what was there to do but follow? I shouted and 
blew my whistle, hoping our men would hear, heed, 
and let up shooting. At the moment of my doing so, 
Worth closed with the man, who dropped something 
he was carrying, and tackled low, lunging at the boy s 
knees, aiming I could see to let Worth dive over and 
scrape up the pavement with his face. 

No dodging that tackle ; it caught Worth square ; he 
even seemed to spring up for the dive; and somehow 
he carried his opponent with him to soften the fall. 
They came down together in the middle of the hard 
road with the shock of a railway collision ; rolled over 
and over like dogs in a scrap, only there wasn t any 
growling or yelping. It was deadly quiet ; not for an 
instant could you tell which was which, or whether the 
whirling, pelting tangle of arms and legs was man, 
beast or devil. That s why, even when I got near 
enough, I didn t dare plant a large, thick-soled boot in 
the mess. 

The fight was up to Worth; nothing else for it. 
Capehart came rolling from the hedge where I had seen 
the pistols flash; Eddie Hughes, inconceivable in pink 
puffings, bounded after; Jim Edwards chased up from 



THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 323 

his car; but all any of us could do was to run up and 
down as the struggle whirled about, and grunt when 
the blows landed. These sounded like a pile-driver 
hitting a redwood butt. Out of the melee an arm 
would jerk, the fist at the end of it come back to land 
with a thud on somebody s meat. 

"Who the devil is it?" I bellowed at Capehart, as 
the two grappled, afoot, then down, no knowing who 
was on top, spinning around in a struggle where neither 
boots nor knees were barred. 

"He sneaked out of the bungalow just now," Cape- 
hart snorted. "We d searched the place. Didn t think 
there was room for a louse to be hid in it. Got by the 
boys. I stopped him at the hedge and drove him into 
the open. Now Worth s got him. That is Worth, 
ain t it? Fights like him." 

"Yes," I said, "It s Worth." But in my own mind 
I wasn t sure whether Worth had the fugitive, or the 
fugitive had Worth. And Jim Edwards muttered 
anxiously, as we skipped and side-stepped along with 
the fight, 

"That fellow may have a knife or a gun." 

"Not where he can draw," I said, "or he d have used 
it before now." And Capehart sung out, 

"Sure. Leave em go. Worth ll fix him." 

Edging in too close, I got a kick on the shin from a 
flying heel, and was dancing around on one foot nurs 
ing the other when I heard sounds of distress issue 
from the tangle in the road; somebody was getting 
breath in long, gaspy sighs that broke off in grunts 
when the thud of blows fell, and merged in the harsh 
nasal of blood violently dislodged from nose and 
throat. For a while they had been up, and swapping 



324 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

punches face to face, lightning swift. Sounds like 
boxing, perhaps, but there wasn t any science about it. 
Feint? Parry? Footwork? Not on your life! 
Each of these two was trying to slug the other into 
insensibility, working for any old kind of a knock-out. 

I began to be a little nervous for fear the boy I was 
bringing home from jail as a peace offering to Barbara 
might arrive so defaced that she wouldn t recognize 
him, when I saw one dark form pull away, leap back, 
an arm shoot out like a piston-rod, and with a jar that 
set my own teeth on edge, connect with the other man s 
chin. He went down clawing the air, crumpled into a 
bunch of clothes at the side of the road. 

"You wanted the Chink, didn t you, Bill?" This 
was Worth, facing Jim Edwards s torch, fumbling for 
his handkerchief. "I heard you, and I thought you 
wanted him." 

"It s Fong Ling!" bawled Capehart. "Sure we 
wanted him and whatever that was he was carrying. 
Where is it? Did he drop it?" 

"Sort of think he did/ Worth was dabbing off his 
own face with a gingerly, respectful touch. "I know 
he dropped some teeth back there in the road. Saw 
him spit em out. Maybe he left it with them. You 
might go and look." 

The four of us drifted along the field of battle, Cape- 
hart s assistant having taken charge of the unconscious 
Chinaman, whom he was frisking for weapons. Half 
way back to the hedge Bill stumbled on something, 
picked it up, and dropped it again with a disgusted 
grunt. 

"Nothing but a Chinaboy s keister," he said con- 



THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 325 

temptuously. "Not much to that. Why in blazes did 
he run so?" 

"Because you were shooting him up, I d say," Jim 
Edwards suggested. 

"Naw. Commenced to run before we turned loose 
on him," Bill protested. 

"Hello !" I had pounced on the unbelievable thing, 
and called to Edwards for his light. "Worth, here s 
your eight -hundred-thousand-dollar suitcase !" 

"That!" he followed along, dusting himself off, try 
ing out his joints. "Oh, yes. I left it in my closet, 
and it disappeared. Told you of it at the time, didn t 
I, Jerry?" 

"You did not," I sputtered, down on my knees, 
working away at the catches. "You never told me 
anything that would be of any use to us. If this thing 
disappeared, I suppose Vandeman stole it to get a piece 
of evidence in the Clayte case out of the way." 

"Likely." Worth turned, with no further interest, 
and started toward his own gate. 

"Hi! Come back here," I yelled after him. For 
the lock gave at that moment; there, under the pale 
circle of the electric torch, lay Clayte- Vandeman s loot ! 

"My gosh 1" mumbled Capehart. "I didn t suppose 
there was so much money in the known world." 

Eddie Hughes, breathing hard ; Jim Edwards, bend 
ing to hold the torch; Capehart, stooping, blunt hands 
spread on knees, goggle-eyed ; my own fingers shaking 
as I dragged out my list and attempted to sort through 
the stuff not one of us but felt the thrill of that great 
fortune tumbled down there in the open road in the 
empty night. 



326 THE MILLION-DOLLAR SUITCASE 

But Worth delayed reluctantly at the edge of the 
shadows, looking with impatience across his shoulder, 
eager to be on to get to Barbara. Yet I wanted that 
suitcase to go into the house in his hand ; wanted him 
to be able to tell his girl that she d made him a winner 
in the gamble and the long chase. Roughly assured 
that only a few thousands had been used by Van- 
deman, I stuck the handles into his fist and trailed 
along after his quick strides. Edwards followed me. 
Laura Bowman opened the door to us; she stopped 
Edwards on the porch. 

And then I saw my children meet. I hadn t meant 
to; but after all, what matter? They didn t know I 
was on earth. Creation had resolved itself, for them, 
into the one man, the one woman. 

The suitcase thumped unregarded on the floor. She 
came to him with her hands out. He took them 
slowly, raised them to his shoulders, and her arms went 
round his neck. 



THE END 



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AN INITIAL FINE OF 25 CENTS 

OVERDUE. 




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JUN 12 



DEC ?,0 1961 



1933 



APR 181935 
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