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Full text of "Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective"

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/ 






MISS MADELYN MACK, 
DETECTIVE 



•<'•. 




i THE DOOR CLOSED, I SAW THAT MADF.I.VN WAS STILL 

BAL-VNCiNC. Raleigh's pipe." [.Sre pagt 22) 



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■i THE POOR 

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THAT MADF.LVN WAS STILL 

PIPE." (St( pagr ii) 



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First Impression, May, 19x4 
SecoDdrliqp^issioQy June, 19x4 



H I 






... nv.« . 



THE COLONIAL PRB88 
C. H. BDfONDS CO., BOSTON, U. 8. ▲• 



<< 






TO 



MAIiY HOLLAND 



THIS IS YOUK BOOK. IT IS YOU, WOMAN DE- 
TECTIVE OE SEAL UFE, WHO SUGGESTED MAD- 
ELYN. IT WAS THE STORIES TOLD ME FROM 
YOUR OWN NOTE -BOOK OF MEN'S KNAVERY 
THAT SUGGESTED THESE EXPLOITS OF MISS 
MACK. NONE SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN YOU 
THAT THE RIDDLES OF FICTION FALL EVER SHORT 
OF THE RIDDLES OF TRUTH. WHAT PLOT OF THE 
NOVEUST COULD EQUAL THE GROTESQUENESS 
OF YOUR AFFAIR OF THE MYSTIC aRCLE, OR THE 
SUBTLENESS OF YOUR CHICAGO UNIVERSITY 
EXPLOIT OF THE EGYPTIAN BAR? I PRAY YOU. 
HOWEVER, IN THE FULLNESS OF YOUR GENER- 
OSITY TO GIVE MADELYN WELCOME — NOT AS 
A RIVAL BUT AS A STUDENT. H. C. W. 



The publishers wish to acknowledge the 
courtesy of The Kalem Moving Picture Com- 
pany in allowing the use as illustrations of the 
photographs of Miss Alice Joyce in the char- 
acter of " Madelyn Mack." 





CONTENTS 




I. 


The Man with Nine Lives . 


PAGE 
I 


n. 


The Missing Bridegroom 


. . 58 


in. 


Cinderella's Slipper 


. lOI 


IV. 


The Bullet from Nowhere . 


. . IS7 


V. 


The Purple Thumb .... 


. 200 



I 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

» 

PAOB 

" As THE DOOR CLOSED, I SAW THAT MaDELYN WAS 

STILL BALANCING Raleigh's PIPE " (See page 

22) FrofUispiece 

" MaDELYN . . . STOOD STARING OUT INTO THE 

darkness" 74 

" As she spread IT OPEN IN HER LAP, APPARENTLY 
FOR THE FIRST TIME SHE RECALLED THE 
BUTLER " 79 

" He spun ABOUT WITH A CRY bP DISCOVERY " . I24 

** I SAW MaDELYN step quietly INTO THE ROOM WE 

HAD VACATED "• 185 



MISS MADELYN MACK, 

DETECTIVE 



I 



THE MAN WITH NINE LIVES 



Now that I seek a point of beginning in the 
curious comradeship between Madelyn Mack and 
myself, the weird problems of men's knavery that 
we have confronted together come back to me with 
almost a shock. 

Perhaps the events which crowd into my mem- 
ory followed each other too swiftly for thoughtful 
digest at the time of their occurrence. Perhaps 
only a sober retrospect can supply a properly ap- 
preciative angle of view. 

Madelyn Mack! What newspaper reader does 
not know the name? Who, even among the most 
casual followers of public events, does not recall 
the young woman who found the missing heiress, 

1 



2 MiM Madeljm Mack, Detective 

Virginia Denton, after a three months' disappear- 
ance ; who convicted " Archie " Irwin, chief of 
the. "fire bug trust;" who located the absconder, 
Wolcott, after a pursuit from Chicago to Khar- 
toom ; who solved the riddle of the double Peterson 
murder; who — 

But why continue the enumeration of Miss 
Mack's achievements? They are of almost house- 
hold knowledge, at least that portion which, from 
one cause or another, have found their way into 
the newspaper columns. Doubtless those admir- 
ers of Miss Mack, whose opinions have been 
formed through the press-chronicles of her ex- 
ploits, would be startled to know that not one in 
ten of her cases has ever been recorded outside of 
her own file cases. And many of them — the 
most sensational from a newspaper viewpoint — 
will never be ! 

It is the woman, herself, however, who has 
seemed to me always a greater mystery than any 
of the problems to whose unraveling she has 
brought her wonderful genius. In spite of the 
deluge of printer's ink that she has inspired, I ques- 
tion if it has been given to more than a dozen 
persons to know the true Madelyn Mack. 

I do not refer, of course, to her professional 
career. The salient points of that portion of her 
life, I presume, are more or less generally known 






The Man with Nine Lives 



— the college girl confronted suddenly with the 
necessity of earning her own living; the epidemic 
of mysterious " shop-lifting " cases chronicled in 
the newspaper she was studying for employment 
advertisements; her application to the New York 
department stores, that had been victimized, for a 
place on their detective staffs, and their curt re- 
fusal; her sudden determination to undertake the 
case as a free lance, and her remarkable success, 
which resulted in the conviction of the notorious 

Madame Bousard, and which secured for Miss 

• 

Mack her first position as assistant house-detective 
with the famous Niegel dry-goods firm. I some- 
times think that this first case, and the realization 
which it brought her of her peculiar talent, is 
Madelyn's favorite — that its place in her memory 
is not even shared by the recovery of Mrs. Niegel's 
fifty-thousand-dollar pearl necklace, stolen a few 
months after the employment of the college girl 
detective at the store, and the reward for which, 
incidentally, enabled the ambitious Miss Mack to 
open her own office. 

Next followed the Berg^er kidnapping case, 
which gave Madelyn her first big advertising broad- 
side, and which brought the beginning of the steady 
stream of business that resulted, after three years, 
b her Fifth Avenue suite in the Maddox Building, 
where I found her on that — to me — memorable 



4 MUs Madeljm Mack, Detective 

afternoon when a sapient Sunday editor dispatched 
me for an interview with the woman who had made 
so conspicuous a success in a man's profession. 

I can see Madelyn now, as I saw her then — my 
first close-range view of her. She had just re- 
turned from Omaha that morning, and was plan- 
ning to leave for Boston on the midnight express. 
A suitcase and a fat portfolio of papers lay on a 
chair in a corner. A young woman stenographer 
was taking a number of letters at an almost in- 
credible rate of dictation. Miss Mack finished the 
last paragraph as she rose from a flat-top desk to 
greet me. 

I had vaguely imagined a masculine-appearing 
woman, curt of voice, sharp of feature, perhaps 
dressed in a severe, tailor-made gown. I saw a 
young woman of maybe twenty-five, with red and 
white cheeks, crowned by a softly waved mass of 
dull gold hair, and a pair of vivacious, grey-blue 
eyes that at once made one forget every other de- 
tail of her appearance. There was a quality in the 
eyes which for a long time I could not define. 
Gradually I came to know that it was the spirit of 
optimism, of joy in herself, and in her life, and 
in her work, the exhilaration of doing things. And 
there was something contagious in it. Almost un- 
consciously you found yourself believing in her 
and in her sincerity. 



The Man with Nine Lives 



Nor was there a suggestion foreign to her sex 
in my appraisal. She was dressed in a simply em- 
broidered white shirt-waist and white broadcloth 
skirt. One of Madelyn's few peculiarities is that 
she always dresses either in complete white or com- 
plete black. On her desk was a jar of white 
chrysanthemums. 

" How do I do it ? " she repeated, in answer to 
my question, in a tone that was almost a laugh. 
" Why — just by hard work, I suppose. Oh, there 
isn't anjrthing wonderful about it! You can do 
almost anything, you know, if you make yourself 
really think you can! I am not at all unusual or 
abnormal. I work out my problems just as I would 
work out a problem in mathematics, only instead 
of figures I deal with human motives. A detective 
is always given certain known factors, and I keep 
building them up, or subtracting them, as the case 
may be, until I know that the answer mast be cor- 
rect. 

" There are only two real rules for a successful 
detective, hard work and common sense — not un- 
common sense such as we associate with our old 
friend, Sherlock Holmes, but common, business 
sense. And, of course, imagination! That may 
be one reason why I have made what you call a 
success. A woman, I think, always has a more 
acute imagination than a man!" 



6 MUs Madeljm Mack, Detective 

" Do you then prefer women •operatives on your 
staff?" I asked. 

She glanced up with something like a twinkle 
from the jade paper-knife in her hands. 

" Shall I let you into a secret ? All of my staff, 
with the exception of my stenographer, are men. 
But I do most of my work in person. The factor 
of imagination can't very well be used second, or 
third, or fourth handed. And then, if I fail, I can 
only blame Madelyn Mack! Some day," — the 
gleam in her grey-blue eyes deepened, — " some 
day I hope to reach a point where I can afford to 
do only consulting work or personal investigation. 
The business details of an office staff, I am afraid, 
are a bit too much of routine for me ! " 

The telephone jingled. She spoke a few crisp 
sentences into the receiver, and turned. The in- 
terview was over. 

When I next saw her, three months later, we 
met across the body of Morris Anthony, the mur- 
dered bibliophic. It was a chance discovery of 
mine which Madelyn was good enough to say sug- 
gested to her the solution of the affair, and which 
brought us together in the final melodramatic cli- 
max in the grim mansion on Washington Square, 
when I presume my hysterical warning saved her 
from the fangs of Dr. Lester Randolph's hidden 
cobra. In any event, our acquaintanceship crystal- 



The Man with Nine Lives 



lized gradually into a comradeship, which revolu- 
tionized two angles of my life. 

Not only did it bring to me the stimulus of 
Madelyn Mack's personality, but it gave me ex- 
clusive access to a fund of newspaper " copy " that 
took me from scant-paid Sunday " features " to 
a " space " arrangement in the city room, with an 
income double that which I had been earning. I 
have always maintained that in our relationship 
Madeljm gave all, and I contributed nothing. Al- 
though she invariably made instant disclaimer, and 
generally ended by carrying me up to the " Ro- 
sary," her chalet on the Hudson, as a cure for what 
she termed my attack of the " blues," she was never 
able to convince me that my protest was not 
justified ! 

It was at the " Rosary " where Miss Mack found 
haven from the stress of business. She had copied 
its design from an ivy-tangled Swiss chalet that 
had attracted her fancy during a summer vacation 
ramble through the Alps, and had built it on a 
jagged bluff of the river at a point near enough 
to the city to permit of fairly convenient motoring, 
although, during the first years of our friendship, 
when she was held close to the commercial grind- 
stone, weeks often passed without her being able 
to snatch a day there. In the end, it was the grati- 
tude of Chalmers Walker for her remarkable work 



8 MUs Madeljm Mack, Detective 

which cleared his chorus-girl wife from the seem- 
ingly unbreakable coil of circumstantial evidence in 
the murder of Dempster, the theatrical broker, that 
enabled Madelyn to realize her long-cherished 
dream of setting up as a consulting expert. Al- 
though she still maintained an office in town, it 
was confined to one room and a small reception 
hall, and she limited her attendance there to two 
days of the week. During the remainder of the 
time, when not engaged directly on a case, she 
seldom appeared in the city at all. Her flowers 
and her music — she was passionately devoted to 
both — appeared to content her effectually. 

I charged her with growing old, to which she 
replied with a shrug. I upbraided her as a cynic, 
and she smiled inscrutably. But the manner of her 
life was not changed. In a way I envied her. It 
was almost like looking down on the world and 
watching tolerantly its mad scramble for the rain- 
bow's end. The days I snatched at tlie " Rosary," 
particularly in the summer, when Madelyn's gar- 
den looked like nothing so much as a Turner pic- 
ture, left me with almost a repulsion for the grind 
of Park Row. But a workaday newspaper woman 
cannot indulge the dreams of a genius whom for- 
tune has blessed. Perhaps this was why Madelyn's 
invitations came with a frequency and a subtleness 
that could not be resisted. Somehow they always 



k 



The Man with Nine Lives 9 

reached me when I was in just the right receptive 
mood. 

It was late on a Thursday afternoon of June, 
the climax of a racking five days for me tmder the 
blistering Broadway sun, that Madelyn's motor 
caught me at the Bugle office, and Madelyn insisted 
on btmdling me into the tonneau without even a 
suitcase. 

" Well reach the Rosary in time for a fried 
chicken supper," she promised. " What you need 
is four or five days' rest where you can't smell the 
asphalt." 

" You fairy godmother ! " I breathed as I snug- 
gled down on the cushions. 

Neither of us knew that already the crimson 
trail of crime was twisting toward us — that within 
twelve hours we were to be pitchforked from a 
quiet wedk-end's rest into the vortex of tragedy. 

II 

We had breakfasted late and leisurely. When 
at length we had finished, Madelyn had insisted on 
having her phonograph brought to the rose-garden, 
and we were listening to Sturveysant's matchless 
rendering of " The Jewel Song " — one of the three 
records for which Miss Mack had sent the harpist 
her check for two hundred dollars the day before. 



10 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

I had taken the occasion to read her a lazy lesson 
on extravagance. The beggar had probably done 
the work in less than two hours ! 

As the plaintive notes quivered to a pause, Susan, 
Madel)m's housekeeper, crossed the garden, and 
laid a little stack of letters and the morning papers 
on a rustic table by our bench. Madelyn turned 
to her correspondence with a shrug. 

" From the divine to the prosaic ! " 

Susan sniffed with the freedom of seven years 
of service. 

" I heard one of them Dago fiddling chaps at 
Hammcrstein's last week who could beat that music 
with his eyes closed ! " 

Madelyn stared at her sorrowfully. 

" At your age — Hammerstein's ! '* 

Susan tossed her prim rows of curls, glanced 
contemptuously at the phonograph by way of re- 
taliation, and made a dignified retreat. In the 
doorway she turned. 

" Oh, Miss Madelyn, I am baking one of 
your old-fashioned strawberry shortcakes for 
lunch!" 

" Really? " Madel)m raised a pair of sparkling 
eyes. " Susan, you're a dear ! " 

A contented smile wreathed Susan's face even to 
the tips of her precise curls. Madelyn's gaze 
crossed to me. 



The Man with Nine Lives 11 

" What are you chuckling over, Nora? " 

" From a psychological standpoint, the pair of 
you have given me two interesting studies," I 
laughed. " A single sentence compensates Susan 
for a week of your glumness ! *' 

Madelyn extended a hand toward her mail. 

" And what is the other feature that appeals to 
your dissecting mind ? *' 

" Fancy a world-known detective rising to the 
point of enthusiasm at the mention of strawberry 
shortcake ! " 

" Why not ? Even a detective has to be human 
once in a while ! " Her eyes twinkled. " Another 
point for my memoirs. Miss Noraker ! " 

As her gaze fell to the half-opened letter in her 
hand, my eyes traveled across the garden to the 
outlines of the chalet, and I breathed a sigh of 
utter content. Broadway and Park Row seemed 
very, very far away. In a momentary swerving of 
my gaze, I saw that a line as clear cut as a pencil- 
stroke had traced itself across Miss Mack's fore- 
head. 

The suggestion of lounging indifference in her 
attitude had vanished like a wind-blown veil. Her 
glance met mine suddenly. The twinkle I had last 
glimpsed in her eyes had disappeared. Silently 
she pushed a square sheet of close, cramped writing 
across the table to me. 



12 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

" My Dear Madam : 

" When you read this, it is quite possi- 
ble that it will be a letter from a dead 
man. 

" I have been told by no less an author- 
ity than my friend, Cosmo Hamilton, that 
you are a remarkable woman. While I 
will say at the outset that I have little faith 
in the analytical powers of the feminine 
brain, I am prepared to accept Hamilton's 
judgment. 

" I cannot, of course, discuss the details 
of my problem in correspondence. 

" As a spur to quick action, I may say, 
•however, that, during the past five 
months, my life has been attempted no 
fewer than eight different times, and I am 
convinced that the ninth attempt, if made, 
will be successful. The curious part of it 
lies in the fact that I am absolutely unable 
to guess the reason for the persistent ven- 
detta. So far as I know, there is no per- 
son in the world who should desire my 
removal. And yet I have been shot at 
from ambush on four occasions, thugs 
have rushed me once, a speeding automo- 
bile has grazed me twice, and this evening 
I found a cunning little dose of cya- 



The Man with Nine Lives 13 

nide of potassium in my favorite cherry 
pie! 

" All of this, too, in the shadow of a 
New Jersey skunk farm I It is high time, 
I fancy, that I secure expert advice. 
Should the progress of the mysterious 
vendetta, by any chance, render me unable 
to receive you personally, my niece, Miss 
Muriel Jansen, I am sure, will endeavor to 
act as a substitute. 

" Respectfully Yours, 

" Wendell Marsh." 

Three Forks Junction, N. J., 
June 16." 



At the bottom of the page a lead pencil had 
scrawled the single Hne in the same cramped 
writing: 

" For God's sake, hurry ! " 

Madelyn retained her curled-up position on the 
bench, staring across at a bush of deep crimson 
roses. 

" Wendell Marsh ? *' She shifted her glance to 
me musingly. " Haven't I seen that name some- 
where lately? " (Madelyn pays me the compliment 
of saying that I have a card-index brain for news- 
paper history!) 



M 



14 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

" If you have read the Sunday supplements/' I 
returned drily, with a vivid remembrance of Wen- 
dell Marsh as I had last seen him, six months 
before, when he crossed the gang-plank of his 
steamer, fresh from England, his face browned 
from the Atlantic winds. It was a face to draw a 
second glance — almost gaunt, self-willed, with 
more than a hint of cynicism. (Particularly when 
his eyes met the waiting press group!) Some one 
had once likened him to the pictures of Oliver 
Cromwell. 

" Wendell Marsh is one of the greatest news- 
paper copy-makers that ever dodged an inter- 
viewer,'' I explained. " He hates reporters like an 
upstate farmer hates an automobile, and yet has a 
flock of them on his trail constantly. His latest 
exploit to catch the spot-light was the purchase of 
the Bainford relics in London. Just before that 
he published a three-volume history on ' The 
World's Great Cynics.' Paid for the publication 
himself." 

Then came a silence between us, prolonging it- 
self. I was trying, rather unsuccessfully, to associ- 
ate Wendell Marsh's half-hysterical letter with my 
mental picture of the austere millionaire. . . . 

"For God's sake, hurry!'' 

What wrenching terror had reduced the ultra- 
reserved Mr. Marsh to an appeal like this? As I 



The Man with Nine Lives 16 

look back now I know that my wildest fancy could 
not have pictured the ghastliness of the truth! 

Madelyn straightened abruptly. 

" Susan, will you kindly tell Andrew to bring 
around the car at once? If you will find the New 
Jersey automobile map, Nora, we'll locate Three 
Forks Junction." 

" You are going down ? " I asked mechanically. 

She slipped from the bench. 

" I am beginning to fear," she said irrelevantly, 
"that we'll have to defer our strawberry short- 
cake!" 

ni 

The sound eye of Daniel Peddicord, liveryman 
by avocation, and sheriff of Merino County by elec- 
tion, drooped over his florid left cheek. Mr. Peddi- 
cord took himself and his duties to the tax-payers 
of Merino County seriously. 

Having lowered his sound eye with befitting of- 
ficial dubiousness, while his glass eye stared guile- 
lessly ahead, as though it took absolutely no notice 
of the procedure, Mr. Peddicord jerked a fat, red 
thumb toward the winding stairway at the rear of 
the Marsh hall. 

" I reckon as how Mr. Marsh is still up there, 
Miss Mack. You see, I told 'em not to disturb the 
body imtil — " 



16 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Our stares brought the sentence to an abrupt 
end. Mr. Peddicord's sound eye underwent a vio- 
lent agitation. 

" You don't mean that you haven't — heard ? " 

The silence of the great house seemed suddenly 
oppressive. For the first time I realized the oddity 
of our having been received by an ill-at-ease police- 
man instead of by a member of the family. I was 
abruptly conscious of the incongruity between Mr. 
Peddicord's awkward figure and the dim, luxurious 
background. 

Madelyn gripped the chief's arm, bringing his 
sound eye circling around to her face. 

" Tell me what has happened ! " 

Mr. Peddicord drew a huge red handkerchief 
over his forehead. 

" Wendell Marsh was found dead in his library 
at eight o'clock this morning! He had been dead 
for hours." 

Tick-tock! Tick-tock! Through my daze beat 
the rhythm of a tall, gaunt clock in the comer. I 
stared at it dully. Madelyn's hands had caught 
themselves behind her back, her veins swollen into 
sharp blue ridges. Mr. Peddicord still gripped his 
red handkerchief. 

" It sure is queer you hadn't heard ! I reckoned 
as how that was what had brought you down. It 
— it looks like murder ! *' 



The Man with Nine Lives 17 

In Madelyn's eyes had appeared a greyish glint 
like cold steel. 

"Where is the body?" 

" Up-stairs in the library. Mr. Marsh had 
worked — " 

** Will you kindly show me the room? " 

I do not think we noted at the time the crispness 
in her tones, certainly not with any resentment. 
Madelyn had taken command of the situation quite 
as a matter of course. 

"Also, will you have my card sent to the 
family?" 

Mr. Peddicord stuffed his handkerchief back 
into a rear trousers' pocket. A red corner pro- 
truded in jaunty abandon from under his blue coat. 

" Why, there ain't no family — at least none but 
Muriel Jansen." His head cocked itself cautiously 
up the stairs. " She's his niece, and I reckon now 
everything here is hers. Her maid says as how she 
is clear bowled over. Only left her room once 
since — since it happened. And that was to tell 
me as how nothing was to be disturbed." Mr. 
Peddicord drew himself up with the suspicion of 
a frown. "Just as though an experienced officer 
wouldn't know that much ! " 

Madelyn glanced over her shoulder to the end of 
the hall. A hatchet- faced man in russet livery stood 
staring at us with wooden eyes. 



18 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

Mr. Peddicord shrugged. 

" That's Peters, the butler. He's the chap what 
found Mr. Marsh." 

I could feel the wooden eyes following us until 
a turn in the stairs blocked their range. 

A red-glowing room — oppressively red. Scar- 
let-frescoed walls, deep red draperies, cherry- 
upholstered furniture, Turkish-red rugs, rows on 
rows of red-bound books. Above, a great, flat 
glass roof, open to the sky from comer to corner, 
through which the splash of the sun on the rich 
colors gave the weird semblance of a crimson pool 
almost in the room's exact center. Such was Wen- 
dell Marsh's library — as eccentrically designed as 
its master. 

It was the wreck of a room that we found. Shat- 
tered vases littered the floor — books were ripped 
savagely apart — curtains were hanging in ribbons 
— a heavy leather rocker was splintered. 

The wreckage might have marked the death- 
struggle of giants. In the midst of the destruction, 
Wendell Marsh was twisted on his back. His face 
was shriveled, his eyes were staring. There was no 
hint of a wound or even a bruise. In his right hand 
was gripped an object partially turned from me. 

I found myself stepping nearer, as though drawn 
by a magnet. There is something hypnotic in such 



The Man with Nine Lives 19 

horrible scenes! And then I barely checked a 
cry. 

Wendell Marsh's dead fingers held a pipe — a 
strangely carved, red sandstone bowl, and a long, 
glistening stem. 

Sheriff Peddicord noted the direction of my 
glance. 

" Mr. Marsh got that there pipe in London, 
along with those other relics he brought home. 
They do say as how it was the first pipe ever 
smoked by a white man. The Indians of Virginia 
gave it to a chap named Sir Walter Raleigh. Mr. 
Marsh had a new stem put to it, and his butler 
says he smoked it every day. Queer, ain't it, how 
some folks' tastes do run ? " 

The sheriff moistened his lips under his scraggly 
yellow moustache. 

" Must have been some fight what done this ! " 
His head included the wrecked room in a vague 
sweep. 

Madelyn strolled over to a pair of the ribboned 
curtains, and fingered them musingly. 

"But that isn't the queerest part." The chief 
glanced at Madelyn expectantly. " There was no 
way for any one else to get out — or in ! " 

Madelyn stooped lower over the curtains. They 
seemed to fascinate her. "The door?" she haz- 
arded absently. " It was locked ? " 



20 MiM Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" From the inside. Peters and the footman saw 
the key when they broke in this morning. . . . 
Peters swears he heard Mr. Marsh turn it when he 
left him writing at ten o'clock last night." 

" The windows ? " 

" Fastened as tight as a drum — and, if they 
wasn't, it's a matter of a good thirty foot to the 
ground." 

" The roof, perhaps ? " 

**A cat might get through it — if every part 
wasn't clamped as tight as the windows." 

Mr. Peddicord spoke with a distinct inflection of 
triumph. Madelyn was still staring at the curtains. 

" Isn't it rather odd," I ventured, " that the 
sounds of the struggle, or whatever it was, didn't 
alarm the house ? " 

Sheriff Peddicord plainly regarded me as an out- 
sider. He answered my question with obvious 
shortness. 

" You could fire a blunderbuss up here and no 
one would be the wiser. They say as how Mr. 
Marsh had the room made sound-proof. And, be- 
sides, the servants have a building to themselves, 
all except Miss Jansen's maid, who sleeps in a room 
next to her at the other end of the house." 

My eyes circled back to Wendell Marsh's knotted 
figure — his shriveled face — horror-frozen eyes — 
the hand gripped about the fantastic pipe. I think 



The Man with Nine Lives 21 

it was the pipe that held my glance. Of all incon- 
gruities, a pipe in the hand of a dead man ! 

Maybe it was something of the same thought 
that brought Madelyn of a sudden across the room. 
She stooped, straightened the cold fingers, and 
rose with the pipe in her hand. 

A new stem had obviously been added to it, of a 
substance which I judged to be jessamine. At its 
end, teeth-marks had bitten nearly through. The 
stone bowl was filled with the cold ashes of half- 
consumed tobacco. Madelyn balanced it musingly. 

" Curious, isn't it. Sheriff, that a man engaged 
in a life-or-death struggle should cling to a heavy 
pipe?" 

"Why — I suppose so. But the question, Miss 
Mack, is what became of that there other man ? It 
isn't natural as how Mr. Marsh could have fought 
with himself." 

"The other man?" Madelyn repeated mechan- 
ically. She was stirring the rim of the dead 
ashes. 

" And how in tarnation was Mr. Marsh killed? " 

Madelyn contemplated a dust-covered finger. 

" Will you do me a favor. Sheriff? " 

" Why, er — of course." 

" Kindly find out from the butler if Mr. Marsh 
had cherry pie for dinner last night I " 

The sheriff gulped. 



22 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

" Che-cherry pic? " 

Madelyn glanced up impatiently. 

" I believe he was very fond of it." 

The sheriff shuffled across to the door uncer- 
tainly. Madelyn's eyes flashed to me. 

" You might go, too, Nora." 

For a moment I was tempted to flat rebellion. 
But Madelyn affected not to notice the fact. She 
is always so aggravatingly sure of her own way! 
— With what I tried to make a mood of aggrieved 
silence, I followed the sheriff's blue-coated figure. 
As the door closed, I saw that Madelyn was still 
balancing Raleigh's pipe. 

From the top of the stairs. Sheriff Peddicord 
glanced across at me suspiciously. 

" I say, what I would like to know is what be- 
came of that there other man ! " 



IV 

A WISP of a black-gowned figure, peering through 
a dormer window at the end of the second-floor 
hall, turned suddenly as we reached the landing. 
A white, drawn face, suggesting a tired child, 
stared at us from under a frame of dull-gold hair, 
drawn low from a careless part. I knew at once 
it was Muriel Jansen, for the time, at least, mis- 
tress of the house of death. 



The Man with Nine Lives 23 



" Has the coroner come yet, Sheriff ? " 

She spoke with one of the most liquid voices I 
have ever heard. Had it not been for her bronze 
hair, I would have fancied her at once of Latin 
descent. The fact of my presence she seemed 
scarcely to notice, not with any suggestion of aloof- 
ness, but rather as though she had been drained 
even of the emotion of curiosity. 

" Not yet. Miss Jansen. He should be here 
now.*' 

She stepped closer to the window, and then 
turned slightly. 

"I told Peters to telegraph to New York for 
Dr. Dench when he summoned you. He was one 
of Uncle's oldest friends. I — I would like him to 
be here when — when the coroner makes his ex- 
amination." 

The sheriff bowed awkwardly. 

" Miss Mack is up-stairs now." 

The pale face was staring at us again with 
raised eyebrows. 

"Miss Mack? I don't understand." Her eyes 
shifted to me. 

" She had a letter from Mr. Marsh by this 
morning's early post," I explained. " I am Miss 
Noraker. Mr. Marsh wanted her to come down 
at once. She didn't know, of course — couldn't 
know — that — that he was — dead!" 



24 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

*' A letter from — Uncle ? " A puzzled line 
gathered in her face. 

I nodded. 

•* A distinctly curious letter. But — Miss 
Mack would perhaps prefer to give you the 
details." 

The puzzled line deepened. I could feel her eyes 
searching mine intently. 

" I presume Miss Mack will be down soon," I 
volunteered. "If you wish, however, I will tell 
her — " 

" That will hardly be necessary. But — you are 
quite sure — a letter ? " 

" Quite sure," I returned, somewhat impatiently. 

And then, without warning, her hands darted to 
her head, and she swayed forward. I caught her in 
my arms with a side-view of Sheriff Peddicord 
staring, open-mouthed. 

" Get her maid ! " I gasped. 

The sheriff roused into belated action. As he 
took a cumbersome step toward the nearest door, 
it opened suddenly. A gaunt, middle-aged woman, 
in a crisp white apron, digested the situation with 
cold, grey eyes. Without a word, she caught 
Muriel Jansen in. her arms. 

" She has fainted," I said rather vaguely. " Can 
I help you ? " 

The other paused with her burden. 



The Man with Nine Lives 25 

" When I need you, I'll ask you ! " she snapped, 
and banged .the door in our faces. 

In the wake of Sheriff Peddicord, I descended 
the stairs. A dozen question-marks were spinning 
through my brain. Why had Muriel Jansen 
fainted? Why had the mention of Wendell 
Marsh's letter left such an atmosphere of bewil- 
dered doubt? Why had the dragon-like maid — 
for such I divined her to be — faced us with such 
hostility? The undercurrent of hidden secrets in 
the dim, silent house seemed suddenly intensified. 

With a vague wish for fresh air and the sun on 
the grass, I sought the front veranda, leaving the 
sheriff in the hall, mopping his face with his red 
handkerchief. 

A carefully tended yard of generous distances 
stretched an inviting expanse of graded lawn before 
me. Evidently Wendell Marsh had provided a dis- 
creet distance between himself and his neighbors. 
The advance guard of a morbid crowd was already 
shuffling about the gate. I knew that it would not 
be long, too, before the press-siege would begin. 

I could picture frantic city editors pitchforking 
their star men New Jerseyward. I smiled at the 
thought. The Bugle, the slave-driver that presided 
over my own financial destinies, — was assured of 
a generous " beat " in advance. The next train 
from New York was not due until late afternoon. 



26 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

From the staring line about the gate, the figure 
of a well-set-up young man in blue serge detached 
itself with swinging step. 

"A reporter?" I breathed, incredulous. 

With a glance at me, he ascended the steps, and 
paused at the door, awaiting an answer to his bell. 
My stealthy glances failed to place him among the 
" stars " of New York newspaperdom. Perhaps he 
was a local correspondent. With smug expectancy, 
I awaited his discomfiture when Peters received his 
card. And then I rubbed my eyes. Peters was 
stepping back from the door, and the other was 
following him with every suggestion of assurance. 

I was still gasping when a maid, broom in hand, 
zigzagged toward my end of the veranda. She 
smiled at me with a pair of friendly black eyes. 

" Arc you a detective ? " 

"Why?" I parried. 

She drew her broom idly across the floor. 

"I — I always thought detectives diflFerent from 
other people." 

She sent a rivulet of dust through the railing, 
with a side glance still in my direction. 

"Oh, you will find them human enough," I 
laughed, " outside of detective stories ! " 

She pondered my reply doubtfully. 

" I thought it about time Mr. Truxton was ap- 
pearing I " she ventured suddenly. 



The Man with Nine Lives 27 






"Mr. Truxton?" 

" He's the man that just came — Mr. Homer 
Truxton. Miss Jansen is going to marry him I " 

A light broke through my fog. 
Then he is not a reporter? " 
Mr. Truxton? He's a lawyer." The broom 
continued its dilatory course. " Mr. Marsh didn't 
like him — so they say! " 

I stepped back, smoothing my skirts. I have 
learned the cardinal rule of Madelyn never to pre- 
tend too great an interest in the gossip of a servant. 

The maid was mechanically shaking out a rug. 

"For my part, I always thought Mr. Truxton 
far and away the pick of Miss Jansen's two steadies. 
I never could understand what she could see in Dr. 
Dench ! Why, he's old enough to be her — " 

In the doorway, Sheriff Peddicord's bulky figure 
beckoned. 

"Don't you reckon as how it's about time we 
were going back to Miss Mack ? " he whispered. 

" Perhaps," I assented rather reluctantly. 

From the shadows of the hall, the sheriff's 
sound eye fixed itself on me belligerently. 

" I say, what I would like to know is what be- 
came of that there other man ! " 

As we paused on the second landing the well- 
set-up figure of Mr. Homer Truxton was bending 
toward a partially opened door. Beyond his 



28 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

shoulder, I caught a fleeting glimpse of a pale face 
under a border of rumpled dull-gold hair. Evi- 
dently Muriel Jansen had recovered from her faint. 
The door closed abruptly, but not before I had 
seen that her eyes were red with weeping. 

Madelyn was sunk into a red-backed chair before 
a huge, flat-top desk in the corner of the library, a 
stack of Wendell Marsh's red-bound books, from 
a wheel-cabinet at her side, bulked before her. She 
finished the page she was reading — a page marked 
with a broad blue pencil — without a hint that she 
had heard us enter. 

Sheriff Peddicord stared across at her with a 
disappointment that was almost ludicrous. Evi- 
dently Madelyn was falling short of his conception 
of the approved attitudes for a celebrated detective! 

"Are you a student of Elizabethan literature. 
Sheriff?'* she asked suddenly. 

The sheriff gurgled weakly. 

" If you are, I am quite sure you will be inter- 
ested in Mr. Marsh's collection. It is the most 
thorough on the subject that I have ever seen. For 
instance, here is a volume on the inner court life 
of Elizabeth — perhaps you would like me to read 
you this random passage?" 

The sheriff drew himself up with more dignity 
than I thought he possessed. 



The Man with Nine Lives 29 

" We are investigating a crime. Miss Mack ! " 

Madelyn closed the book with a sigh. 

" So we are ! May I ask what is your report 
from the butler?" 

" Mr. Marsh did not have cherry pie for dinner 
last night ! " the sheriff snapped. 

" You are quite confident ? " 

And then abruptly the purport of the question 
flashed to me. 

" Why, Mr. Marsh, himself, mentioned the fact 
in his letter ! " I burst out. 

Madelyn's eyes turned to me reprovingly. 

" You must be mistaken, Nora." 

With a lingering glance at the books on the desk, 
she rose. Sheriff Peddicord moved toward the 
door, opened it, and faced about with an abrupt 
clearing of his throat. 

" Begging your pardon. Miss Mack, have — 
have you found any clues in the case ? " 

Madelyn had paused again at the ribboned cur- 
tains. 

" Ques? The man who made Mr. Marsh's death 
possible. Sheriff, was an expert chemist, of Italian 
origin, living for some time in London — and he 
(lied three hundred years ago ! " 

From the hall we had a fleeting view of Sheriff 
Peddicord's face, flushed as red as his handkerchief, 
and then it and the handkerchief disappeared. 



30 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

I whirled on Madelyn sternly. 

" You are carrying your absurd joke, Miss Mack, 
altogether too — " 

I paused, gulping in my turn. It was as though 
I had stumbled from the shadows into an electric 
glare. 

Madelyn had crossed to the desk, and was gently 
shifting the dead ashes of Raleigh's pipe into an 
envelope. A moment she sniffed at its bowl, peer- 
ing down at the crumpled body at her feet. 

" The pipe ! " I gasped. " Wendell Marsh was 
poisoned with the pipe ! '* 

Madelyn sealed the envelope slowly. 

" Is that fact just dawning on you, Nora?" 

" But the rest of it — what you told the — " 

Madelyn thrummed on the bulky volume of 
Elizabethan history. 

" Some day, Nora, if you will remind me, I will 
give you the material for what you call a Sunday 
' feature ' on the historic side of murder as a fine 
art!" 



In a curtain-shadowed nook of the side veranda 
Muriel Jansen was awaiting us, pillowed back 
against a bronze-draped chair, whose colors almost 
startlingly matched the gold of her hair. Her re- 




The Man with Nine Lives 31 

semblance to a tired child was even more pro- 
nounced than when I had last seen her. 

I found myself glancing furtively for signs of 
Homer Truxton, but he had disappeared. 

Miss Jansen took the initiative in our interview 
with a nervous abruptness, contrasting oddly with 
her hesitancy at our last meeting. 

" I understand, Miss Mack, that you received a 
letter from my uncle asking your presence here. 
May I see it ? " 

The eagerness of her tones could not be mistaken. 

From her wrist-bag Madelyn extended the square 
envelope of the morning post, with its remarkable 
message. Twice Muriel Jansen's eyes swept slowly 
through its contents. Madelyn watched her with a 
little frown. A sudden tenseness had crept into the 
air, as though we were all keying ourselves for an 
unexpected climax. And then, like a thunder-clap, 
it came. 

" A curious communication," Madelyn suggested. 
" I had hoped you might be able to add to it? " 

The tired face in the bronze-draped chair stared 
across the lawn. 

" I can. The most curious fact of your com- 
munication. Miss Mack, is that Wendell Marsh did 
not write it! " 

Never have I admired more keenly Madelyn's 
remarkable poise. Save for an almost impercepti- 



32 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

ble indrawing of her breath, she gave no hint of 
the shock which must have stunned her as it did 
me. I was staring with mouth agape. But, then, 
I presume you have discovered by this time that I 
was not designed for a detective! 

Strangely enough, Muriel Jansen gave no trace 
of wonder in her announcement. Her attitude sug- 
gested a sense of detachment from the subject as 
though suddenly it had lost its interest. And yet, 
less than an hour ago, it had prostrated her in a 
swoon. 

"You mean the letter is a forgery?" asked 
Madelyn quietly. 

" Quite obviously." 

" And the attempts on Mr. Marsh's life to which 
it refers?" 

" There have been none. I have been with my 
uncle continuously for six months. I can speak 
definitely." 

Miss Jansen fumbled in a white-crocheted bag. 

" Here are several specimens of Mr. Marsh's wri- 
ting. I think they should be sufficient to convince 
you of what I say. If you desire others — " 

I was gulping like a truant sdiool-girl as Made- 
lyn spread on her lap the three notes extended to 
her. Casual business and personal references they 
were, none of more than half a dozen lines. Quite 
enough, however, to complete the sudden chasm at 



The Man with Nine Lives 33 



our feet — quite enough to emphasize a bold, ag- 
gressive penmanship, almost perpendicular, without 
the slightest resemblance to the cramped, shadowy 
writing of the morning's astonishing communica- 
tion. 

Madelyn rose from her chair, smoothing her 
skirts thoughtfully. For a moment she stood at 
the railing, gazing down upon a trellis of yellow 
roses, her face turned from us. For the first time 
in our curious friendship, I was actually conscious 
of a feeling of pity for her ! The blank wall which 
she faced seemed so abrupt — so final ! 

Muriel Jansen shifted her position slightly. 
Are you satisfied. Miss Mack? '* 
Quite." Madelyn turned, and handed back the 
three notes. ** I presume this means that you do 
not care for me to continue the case? " 

I whirled in dismay. I had never thought of 
this possibility. 

" On the contrary, Miss Mack, it seems to me an 
additional reason why you should continue ! " 

I breathed freely again. At least we were not 
to be dismissed with the abruptness that Miss Jan- 
sen's maid had shown! Madelyn bowed rather 
absently. 

"Then if you will give me another interview, 
perhaps this afternoon — " 

Miss Jansen fumbled with the lock of her bag. 



tt 



34 MiM Madelyn Mack, Detective 

For the first time her voice lost something of its 
directness. 

" Have — have you any explanation of this as- 
tonishing — forgery ? " 

Madelyn was staring out toward the increasing 
crowd at the gate. A sudden ripple had swept 
through it. 

"Have you ever heard of a man by the name 
of Orlando Julio, Miss Jansen ? " 

My own eyes, following the direction of Made- 
lyn's gaze, were brought back sharply to the ve- 
randa. For the second time, Mtu-iel Jansen had 
crumpled back in a faint. 

As I darted toward the servants' bell Madelyn 
checked me. Striding up the walk were two men 
with the unmistakable air of physicians. At Made- 
lyn's motioning hand they turned toward us. 

The foremost of the two quickened his pace as 
he caught sight of the figure in the chair. Instinc- 
tively I knew that he was Dr. Dench — and it 
needed no profotmd analysis to place his companion 
as the local coroner. 

With a deft hand on Miss Jansen's heart-beats. 
Dr. Dench raised a ruddy, brown-whiskered face 
inquiringly toward us. 

" Shock! " Madelyn explained. " Is it serious? " 

The hand on the wavering breast darted toward 
a medicine case, and selected a vial of brownish 



The Man with Nine Lives 35 

liquid. The gaze above it continued its scrutiny 
of Madelyn's slender figure. 

Dr. Dench' was of the rugged, German type, 
steel-eyed, confidently sure of movement, with the 
physique of a splendidly muscled animal. If the 
servant's tattle was to be credited, Muriel Jansen 
could not have attracted more opposite extremes in 
her suitors. 

The coroner — a rusty-suited man of middle age, 
in quite obvious professional awe of his companion 
— extended a glass of water. Miss Jansen wearily 
opened her eyes before it reached her lips. 

Dr. Dench restrained her sudden effort to rise. 

" Drink this, please ! " There was nothing but 
professional command in his voice. If he loved 
the grey-pallored girl in the chair, his emotions 
were under superb control. 

Madelyn stepped to the background, motioning 
me quietly. 

" I fancy I can leave now safely. I am going 
back to town." 

"Town?" I echoed. 

" I should be back the latter part of the afternoon. 
Would it inconvenience you to wait here ? " 

" But, why on earth — "I began. 

" Will you tell the butler to send around the car? 
Thanks!" 

When Madelyn doesn't choose to answer ques- 



36 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

tions she ignores them. I subsided as gracefully 
as possible. As her machine whirled under the 
porte-cochere, however, my curiosity again over- 
flowed my restraint. 

" At least, who is Orlando Julio ? " I demanded. 

Madelyn carefully adjusted her veil. 

" The man who provided the means for the death 
of Wendell Marsh ! " And she was gone. 

I swept another glance at the trio on the side 
veranda, and with what I tried to convince myself 
was a philosophical shrug, although I knew per- 
fectly well it was merely a pettish fling, sought a 
retired comer of the rear drawing room, with my 
pad and pencil. 

After all, I was a newspaper woman, and it 
needed no elastic imagination to picture the scene 
in the city room of the Bugle, if I failed to send 
a proper accounting of myself. 

A few minutes later a tread of feet, advancing 
to the stairs, told me that the coroner and Dr. 
Dench were ascending for the belated examination 
of Wendell Marsh's body. Miss Jansen had evi- 
dently recovered, or been assigned to the ministra- 
tions of her maid. Once Peters, the wooden-faced 
butler, entered ghostily to inform me that luncheon 
would be served at one, but effaced himself almost 
before my glance returned to my writing. 

I partook of the meal in the distinguished com- 



The Man with Nine Lives 37 

pany of Sheriff Peddicord. Apparently Dr. Bench 
was still busied in his grewsome task up-stairs, and 
it was not surprising that Miss Jansen preferred her 
own apartments. 

However much the sheriff's professional poise 
might have been jarred by the events of the morn- 
ing, his appetite had not been affected. His atten- 
tion was too absorbed in the effort to do justice to 
the Marsh hospitality to waste time in table talk. 

He finished his last spoonful of strawberry ice- 
cream with a heavy sigh 6i contentment, removed 
the napkin, which he had tucked under his collar, 
and, as though mindful of the family's laundry bills, 
folded it carefully and wiped his lips with his red 
handkerchief. It was not until then that our silence 
was interrupted. 

Glancing cautiously about the room, and observ- 
ing that the butler had been called kitchenward, to 
my amazement he essayed a confidential wink. 

" I say," he ventured enticingly, leaning his elbow 
on the table, " what I would like to know is what 
became of that there other man ! " 

"Arc you familiar with the Fourth Dimension, 
Sheriff?" I returned solemnly. I rose from my 
chair, and stepped toward him confidentially in my 
turn. " I believe that a thorough study of that sub- 
ject would answer your question." 

It was three o'clock when I stretched myself in 



38 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

my corner of the drawing-room, and stuffed the 
last sheets of my copy paper into a special-delivery- 
stamped envelope. 

My story was done. And Madelyn was not there 
to blue-pencil the Park Row adjectives! I smiled 
rather gleefully as I patted my hair, and leisurely 
addressed the envelope. The city editor would be 
satisfied, if Madelyn wasn't ! 

As I stepped into the hall, Dr. Dench, the coroner, 
and Sheriff Peddicord were descending the stairs. 
Evidently the medical examination had been com- 
pleted. Under other circumstances the three ex- 
pressions before me would have afforded an inter- 
esting study in contrasts — Dr. Dench trimming his 
nails with professional stoicism, the coroner en- 
deavoring desperately to copy the other's sang froid, 
and the sheriff buried in an owl-like solemnity. 

Dr. Dench restored his knife to his pocket. 

" You are Miss Mack's assistant, I understand ? " 

I bowed. 

" Miss Mack has been called away. She should 
be back, however, shortly." 

I could feel the doctor's appraising glance dis- 
secting me with much the deliberateness of a surgi- 
cal operation. I raised my eyes suddenly, and re- 
turned his stare. It was a virile, masterful face — 
and, I had to admit, coldly handsome I 

Dr. Dench snapped open his watch. 



The Man with Nine Lives 3d 



u 



Very well then, Miss, Miss — " 
Noraker! " I supplied crisply. 

The blond beard inclined the fraction of an inch. 

" We will wait." 

" The autopsy ? " I ventured. " Has it — " 

"The result of the autopsy I will explain to — 
Miss Mack ! '' 

I bit my lip, felt my face flush as I saw that 
Sheriff Peddicord was trying to smother a grin, 
and turned with a rather unsuccessful shrug. 

Now, if I had been of a vindictive nature, I 
would have opened my envelope and inserted a re- 
taliating paragraph that would have returned the 
snub of Dr. Dench with interest. I flatter myself 
that I consigned the envelope to the Three I;orks 
post-ofiice, in the rear of the Elite Dry Goods Em- 
porium, with its contents unchanged. 

As a part recompense, I paused at a corner drug 
store, and permitted a young man with a gorgeous 
pink shirt to make me a chocolate ice-cream soda. 
I was bent over an asthmatic straw when, through 
the window, I saw Madelyn's car skirt the curb. 

I rushed out to the sidewalk, while the young man 
stared dazedly after me. The chauffeur swerved 
the machine as I tossed a dime to the Adonis of 
the fountain. 

Madelyn shifted to the end of the seat as I clam- 
bered to her side. One glance was quite enough to 



40 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

show that her town-mission, whatever it was, had 
ended in failure. Perhaps it was the consciousness 
of this fact that brought my eyes next to her blue 
turquoise locket. It was open. I glared accusingly. 

" So you have fallen back on the cola stimulant 
again, Miss Mack ? " 

She nodded glumly, and perversely slipped into 
her mouth another of the dark, brown berries, on 
which I have known her to keep up for forty-eight 
hours without sleep, and almost without food. 

For a moment I forgot even my curiosity as to 
her errand. 

" I wish the duty would be raised so high you 
couldn't get those things into the country ! " 

She closed her locket, without deigning a re- 
sponse. The more volcanic my outburst, the more 
glacial Madelyn's coldness — particularly on the 
cola topic. I shrugged in resignation. I might as 
well have done so in the first place! 

I straightened my hat, drew my handkerchief 
over my flushed face, and coughed questioningly. 
Continued silence. I turned in desperation. 

"Well?" I surrendered. 

" Don't you know enough, Nora Noraker, to 
hold your tongue ? " 

My pent-up emotions snapped. 

" Look here. Miss Mack, I have been snubbed by 
Dr. Dench and the coroner, grinned at by Sheriff 



The Man with Nine Lives 41 

Peddicord, and I am not going to be crushed by 
you ! What is your report, — » good, bad, or indif- 
ferent?" 

Madel3m turned from her stare into the dust- 
yellow road. 

" I have been a fool, Nora — a blind, bigoted, 
self-important fool ! " 

I drew a deep breath. 

** Which means — " 

From her bag Madelyn drew the envelope of 
dead tobacco ashes from the Marsh library, and 
tossed it over the side of the car. I sank back 
against the cushions. 

" Then the tobacco after all — " 
Is nothing but tobacco — harmless tobacco ! " 
But the pipe — I thought the pipe — " 
That's just it! The pipe, my dear girl, killed 
Wendell Marsh ! But I don't know how ! / don't 
know how! '' 

" Madelyn," I said severely, " you are a woman, 
even if you are making your living at a man's pro- 
fession ! What you need is a good cry ! " 

VI 

Dr. Dench, pacing back and forth across the 
veranda, knocked the ashes from an amber-stemmed 
meerschaum, and advanced to meet us as we 



€€ 



42 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

alighted. The coroner and Sheriff Peddicord were 
craning their necks from wicker chairs in the back- 
ground. It was easy enough to surmise that Dr. 
Dench had parted from them abruptly in the desire 
for a quiet smoke to marshall his thoughts. 

" Fill your pipe again if you wish," said Madelyn. 
" I don't mind." 

Dr. Dench inclined his head, and dug the mouth 
of his meerschaum into a fat leather pouch. A 
spiral of blue smoke soon curled around his face. 
He was one of that type of men to whom a pipe 
lends a distinction of studious thoughtfulness. 

With a slight gesture he beckoned in the direc- 
tion of the coroner. 

" It is proper, perhaps, that Dr. Williams in his 
official capacity should be heard first." 

Through the smoke of his meerschaum, his eyes 
were searching Madelyn's face. It struck me that 
he was rather puzzled as to just how seriously to 
take her. 

The coroner shuffled nervously. At his elbow. 
Sheriff Peddicord fumbled for his red handkerchief. 

" We have made a thorough examination of Mr. 
Marsh's body. Miss Mack, a most thorough exami- 
nation — " 

" Of course he was not shot, nor stabbed, nor 
strangled, nor sand-bagged ? *' interrupted Madelyn 
crisply. 



The Man with Nine Lives 43 

The coroner glanced at Dr. Dench uncertainly. 
The latter was smoking with inscrutable face. 

" Nor poisoned ! " finished the coroner with a 
quick breath. 

A blue smoke curl from Dr. Dench's meerschaum 
vanished against the sun. The coroner jingled a 
handful of coins in his pocket. The sound jarred 
on my nerves oddly. Not poisoned ! Then Made- 
lyn's theory of the pipe — 

My glance swerved in her direction. Another 
blank wall — the blankest in this riddle of blank 
walls ! 

But the bewilderment I had expected in her face 
I did not find. The black dejection I had noticed 
in the car had dropped like a whisked-off cloak. 
The tired lines had been erased as by a sponge. Her 
eyes shone with that tense glint which I knew came 
only when she saw a befogged way swept clear 
before her. 

" You mean that you found no trace of poison ? " 
she corrected. 

The coroner drew himself up. 

" Under the supervision of Dr. Dench, we have 
made a most complete probe of the various organs, 
— Itmgs, stomach, heart — " 

" And brain, I presume ? " 

"Brain? Certainly not ! " 

" And you ? " Madelyn turned toward Dr. 



44 MUs Madeljm Mack, Detective 



Dench. " You subscribe to Dr. Williams' opin- 
ion?" 

Dr. Dench removed his meerschaum. 

" From our examination of Mr. Marsh's body, 
I am prepared to state emphatically that there is no 
trace of toxic condition of any kind ! " 

" Am I to infer then that you will return a ver- 
dict of — natural death ? '* 

Dr. Dench stirred his pipe-ashes. 

" I was always under the impression. Miss Mack, 
that the verdict in a case of this kind must come 
from the coroner's jury." 

Madelyn pinned back her veil, and removed her 
gloves. 

"There is no objection to my seeing the body 
again?" 

The coroner stared. 

" Why, er — the undertaker has it now. I don't 
see why he should object, if you wish — " 

Madelyn stepped to the door. Behind her. Sher- 
iff Peddicord stirred suddenly. 

" I say, what I would like to know, gents, is what 
became of that there other man ! " 

It was not until six o'clock that I saw Madelyn 
again, and then I found her in Wendell Marsh's 
red library. She was seated at its late tenant's 
huge desk. Before her were a vial of whitish-grey 



The Man with Nine Lives 46 

powder, a small, rubber, inked roller, a half a dozen 
sheets of paper, covered with what looked like 
smudges of black ink, and Raleigh's pipe. I stopped 
short, staring. 

She rose with a b.»rug. 

" Finger-prints," she explained laconically. 
"This sheet belongs to Miss Jansen; the next to 
her maid; the third to the butler, Peters; the 
fourth to Dr. Dench; the fifth to Wendell Marsh, 
himself. It was my first experiment in taking the 
* prints ' of a dead man. It was — interesting." 

'* But what has that to do with a case of this 
kind ? " I demanded. 

Madelyn picked up the sixth sheet of smudged 
paper. 

" We have here the finger-prints of Wendell 
Marsh's murderer ! " 

I did not even cry my amazement. I suppose 
the kaleidoscope of the day had dulled my normal 
emotions. I remember that I readjusted a loose pin 
in my waist before I spoke. 

" The murderer of Wendell Marsh ! " I repeated 
mechanically. " Then he was poisoned ? " 

Madelyn's eyes opened and closed without an- 
swer. 

I reached over to the desk, and picked up Mr. 
Marsh's letter of the morning post at Madelyn's 
elbow. 



46 MiM Madeljm Mack, Detective 



" You have found the man who forged this ? " 

" It was not forged ! " 

In my daze I dropped the letter to the floor. 

" You have discovered then the other man in 
the death-struggle that wrecked the library ? " 

'* There was no other man ! " 

Madelyn gathered up her possessions from the 
desk. From the edge of the row of books she lifted 
a small, red-bound volume, perhaps four inches in 
width, and then with a second thought laid it back. 

" By the way, Nora, I wish you would come back 
here at eight o'clock. If this book is still where I 
am leaving it, please bring it to me 1 I think that 
will be all for the present." 

" All ? " I gasped. " Do you realize that — '* 

Madelyn moved toward the door. 

"I think eight o'clock will be late enough for 
your errand," she said without turning. 

The late June twilight had deepened into a 
somber darkness when, my watch showing ten 
minutes past the hour of my instructions, I entered 
the room on the second floor that had been as- 
signed to Miss Mack and myself. Madelyn at the 
window was staring into the shadow-blanketed 
yard. 

"Well?" she demanded. 

" Your book is no longer in the library ! " I said 
crossly. 



The Man with Nine Lives 47 

Madelyn whirled with a smile. 

" Good ! And now if you will be so obliging as 
to tell Peters to ask Miss Jansen to meet me in the 
rear drawing-room, with any of the friends of the 
family she desires to be present, I think we can 
clear up our little puzzle." 



VII 

It was a curious group that the graceful Swiss 
clock in the bronze drawing-room of the Marsh 
house stared down upon as it ticked its way past 
the half hour after eight. With a grave, rather 
insistent bow. Miss Mack had seated the other occu- 
pants of the room as they answered her summons. 
She was the only one of us that remained standing. 

Before her were Sheriff Peddicord, Homer 
Truxton, Dr. Dench, and Muriel Jansen. Made- 
lyn's eyes swept our faces for a moment in silence, 
and then she crossed the room and closed the door. 

" I have called you here," she began, " to explain 
the mystery of Mr. Marsh's death." Again her 
glance swept our faces. " In many respects it has 
provided us with a peculiar, almost an unique 
problem. 

"Wc find a man, in apparently normal health, 
dead. The observer argues at once foul play ; and 
yet on his body is no hint of wound or bruise. The 



48 MiM Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

medical examination discovers no trace of poison. 
The autopsy shows no evidence of crime. Appar- 
ently we have eliminated all forms of tmnatural 
death. 

" I have called you here because the finding of 
the autopsy is incorrect, or rather incomplete. We 
are not confronted by natural death — but by a 
crime. And I may say at the outset that I am not 
the only person to know this fact. My knowledge 
is shared by one other in this room." 

Sheriff Peddicord rose to his feet and rather 
ostentatiously stepped to the door and stood with 
his back against it. Madelyn smiled faintly at the 
movement. 

" I scarcely think there will be an effort at es- 
cape, Sheriff," she said quietly. 

Muriel Jansen was crumpled back into her chair, 
staring. Dr. Dench was stud)ring Miss Mack with 
the professional frown he might have directed at 
an abnormality on the operating table. It was 
Truxton who spoke first in the fashion of the im- 
pulsive boy. 

" If we are not dealing with natural death, how 
on earth then was Mr. Marsh killed ? " 

Madelyn whisked aside a light covering from a 
stand at her side, and raised to view Raleigh's red 
sand-stone pipe. For a moment she balanced it 
musingly. 



The Man with Nine Lives 49 

" The three-hundred-year-old death tool of Or- 
lando Julio," she explained. " It was this that 
killed Wendell Marsh ! " 

She pressed the bowl of the pipe into the palm 
of her hand. "As an instrument of death, it is 
almost beyond detection. We examined the ashes, 
and found nothing but harmless tobacco. The or- 
gans of the victim showed no trace of foul play." 

She tapped the long stem gravely. 

" But the examination of the organs did not in- 
clude the brain. And it is through the brain that 
the pipe strikes, killing first the mind in a night- 
mare of insanity, and then the body. That ac- 
counts for the wreckage that we found — the evi- 
dences apparently of two men engaged in a desper- 
ate struggle. The wreckage was the work of only 
one man — a maniac in the moment before death. 
The drug with which we are dealing drives its 
victim into an insane fury before his body suc- 
cumbs. I believe such cases are fairly common in 
India." 

" Then Mr. Marsh was poisoned after all ? " 
cried Truxton. He was the only one of Miss 
Mack's auditors to speak. 

" No, not poisoned ! You will understand as 
I proceed. The pipe, you will find, contains appar- 
ently but one bowl and one channel, and at a super- 
ficial glance is filled only with tobacco. In reality. 



60 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

there is a lower chamber concealed beneath the 
upper bowl, to which extends a second channel. 
This secret chamber is charged with a certain com- 
pound of Indian hemp and dhatura leaves, one of 
the most powerful brain stimulants known to sci- 
ence — and one of the most dangerous if used above 
a certain strength. From the lower chamber it 
would leave no trace, of course, in the ashes above. 

" Between the two compartments of the pipe is 
a slight connecting opening, sufficient to allow the 
hemp beneath to be ignited gradually by the burn- 
ing tobacco. When a small quantity of the com- 
pound is used, the smoker is stimulated as by no 
other drug, not even opium. Increase the quantity 
above the danger point, and mark the result. The 
victim is not poisoned in the strict sense of the 
word, but literally smothered to death by the 
fumes!'' 

In Miss Mack's voice was the throb of the stu- 
dent before the creation of the master. 

" I should like this pipe, Miss Jansen, if you ever 
care to dispose of it ! " 

The girl was still staring woodenly. 

" It was Orlando Julio, the medieval poisoner," 
she gasped, " that Uncle described — " 

" In his seventeenth chapter of ' The World's 
Great Cynics,' " finished Madelyn. " I have taken 
the liberty of reading the chapter in manuscript 



The Man with Nine Lives 51 

form. Julio, however, was not the discoverer of 
the drug. He merely introduced it to the English 
public. As a matter of fact, it is one of the oldest 
stimulants of the East. It is easy to assume that 
it was not as a stimulant that Julio used it, but as 
a baffling instrument of murder. The mechanism 
of the pipe was his own invention, of course. The 
smoker, if not in the secret, would be completely 
oblivious to his danger. He might even use the 
pipe in perfect safety — until its lower chamber 
was loaded ! " 

Sheriff Peddicord, against the door, mopped his 
face with his red handkerchief, like a man in a daze. 
Dr. Dench was still studying Miss Mack with his 
intent frown. Madelyn swerved her angle abruptly. 

"Last night was not the first time the hemp- 
chamber of Wendell Marsh's pipe had been charged. 
We can trace the effect of the drug on his brain 
for several months — hallucinations, imaginative 
enemies seeking his life, incipient insanity. That 
explains his astonishing letter to me. Wendell 
Marsh was not a man of nine lives, but only one. 
The perils which he described were merely fantastic 
figments of the drug. For instance, the episode of 
the poisoned cherry pie. There was no pie at all 
served at the table yesterday. 

" The letter to me was not a forgery, Miss Jan- 
sen, although you were sincere enough when you 



52 MUs Madeljm Mack, Detective 

pronounced it such. The complete change in your 
uncle's handwriting was only another effect of the 
drug. It was this fact, in the end, which led me 
to the truth. You did not perceive that the dates 
of your notes and mine were six months apart! I 
knew that some terrific mental shock must have 
occurred in the meantime. 

"And then, too, the ravages of a drug-crazed 
victim were at once suggested by the curtains of 
the library. They were not simply torn, but fairly 
chewed to pieces ! " 

A sudden tension fell over the room. We shifted 
nervously, rather avoiding one another's eyes. 
Madelyn laid the pipe back on the stand. She was 
quite evidently in no hurry to continue. It was 
Truxton again who put the leading question of the 
moment. 

"If Mr. Marsh was killed as you describe. Miss 
Mack, who killed him?" 

Madelyn glanced across at Dr. Dench. 

"Will you kindly let me have the red leather 
book that you took from Mr. Marsh's desk this 
evening, Doctor ? " 

The physician met her glance steadily. 

" You think it — necessary? " 

" I am afraid I must insist." 

For an instant Dr. Dench hesitated. Then, with 
a shrug, he reached into a coat-pocket and extended 



The Man with Nine Lives 53 

the red-bound volume, for which Miss Mack had 
dispatched me on the fruitless errand to the library. 
As Madelyn opened it we saw that it was not a 
printed volume, but filled with several himdred 
pages of close, cramped writing. Dr. Bench's gaze 
swerved to Muriel Jansen as Miss Mack spoke. 

" I have here the diary of Wendell Marsh, which 
shows us that he had been in the habit of seeking 
the stimulant of Indian hemp, or * hasheesh ' for 
some time, possibly as a result of his retired, sed- 
entary life and his close application to his books. 
Until his purchase of the Bainford relics, however, 
he had taken the stimulant in the comparatively 
harmless form of powdered leaves or 'bhang,' as 
it is termed in the Orient. His acquisition of 
Julio's drug-pipe, and an accidental discovery of 
its mechanism, led him to adopt the compound of 
hemp and dhatura, prepared for smoking — in 
India called * charas.' No less an authority than 
Captain E. N. Windsor, bacteriologist of the Bur- 
mese government, states that it is directly responsi- 
ble for a large percentage of the lunacy of the 
Orient. Wendell Marsh, however, did not realize 
his danger, nor how much stronger the latter com- 
pound is than the form of the drug to which he 
had been accustomed. 

" Dr. Dench endeavored desperately to warn him* 
of his peril, and free him from the bondage of the 



54 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

habit as the diary records, but the victim was too 
thoroughly enslaved. In fact, the situation had 
reached a point just before the final climax when 
it could no longer be concealed. The truth was 
already being suspected by the older servants. I 
assume this was why you feared my investigations 
in the case. Miss Jansen." 

Muriel Jansen was staring at Madelyn in a sort 
of dumb appeal. 

" I can imderstand and admire Dr. Bench's ef- 
forts to conceal the fact from the public — first, in 
his supervision of the inquest, which might have 
stumbled on the truth, and then in his removal of 
the betraying diary, which I left purposely exposed 
in the hope that it might inspire such an action. 
Had it not been removed, I might have suspected 
another explanation of the case — in spite of cer- 
tain evidence to the contrary!" 

Dr. Bench's face had gone white. 

" God ! Miss Mack, do you mean that after all 
it was not suicide? " 

" It was not suicide," said Madelyn quietly. She 
stepped across toward the opposite door. 

" When I stated that my knowledge that we are 
not dealing with natural death was shared by an- 
other person in this room, I might have added that 
it was shared by still a third person — not in the 
room I ** 



The Man with Nine Lives 55 



With a sudden movement she threw open the 
door before her. From the adjoining ante-room 
lurched the figure of Peters, the butler. He stared 
at us with a face grey with terror, and then 
crumpled to his knees. Madelyn drew away 
sharply as he tried to catch her skirts. 

" You may arrest the murderer of Wendell 
Marsh, Sheriff ! " she said gravely. " And I think 
perhaps you had better take him outside." 

She faced our bewildered stares as the drawing- 
room door closed behind Mr. Peddicord and his 
prisoner. From her stand she again took Raleigh's 
sand-stone pipe, and with it two sheets of paper, 
smudged with the prints of a human thumb and 
fingers. 

" It was the pipe in the end which led me to the 
truth, not only as to the method but the identity 
of the assassin," she explained. '* The hand, which 
placed the fatal charge in the concealed chamber, 
left its imprint on the surface of the bowl. The 
fingers, grimed with the dust of the drug, made an 
impression which I would have at once detected 
had I not been so occupied with what I might find 
inside that I forgot what I might find outside! I 
am very much afraid that I permitted myself the 
great blunder of the modem detective — lack of 
thoroughness. 

" Comparison with the finger-prints of the vari- 



56 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

ous agents in the case, of course, made the next 
step a mere detail of mathematical comparison. To 
make my identity sure, I found that my suspect 
possessed not only the opportunity and the knowl- 
edge for the crime, but the motive. 

" In his younger days Peters was a chemist's 
apprentice ; a fact which he utilized in his master's 
behalf in obtaining the drugs which had become so 
necessary a part of Mr. Marsh's life. Had Wen- 
dell Marsh appeared in person for so continuous 
a supply, his identity would soon have made the 
fact a matter of common gossip. He relied on his 
servant for his agent, a detail which he mentions 
several times in his diary, promising Peters a gen- 
erous bequest in his will as a reward. I fancy that 
it was the dream of this bequest, which would have 
meant a small fortune to a man in his position, that 
set the butler's brain to work on his treacherous 
plan of murder." 

Miss Mack's dull gold hair covered the shoulders 
of her white peignoir in a great, thick braid. She 
was propped in a nest of pillows, with her favorite 
romance, " The Three Musketeers," open at the 
historic siege of Porthos in the wine cellar. We 
had elected to spend the night at the Marsh house. 

Madelyn glanced up as I appeared in the door- 
way of our room. 



\ 



The Man 



Nine Lives 



67 



" Allow me to present a problem to your ana- 
lytical skill, Miss Mack," I said humbly. " Which 
man does your knowledge of feminine psychology 
say Muriel Jansen will reward — the gravely pro- 
tecting physician, or the boyishly admiring Trux- 
ton?" 

" If she were thirty," retorted Madelyn, yawn- 
ing, "she would be wise enough to choose Dr. 
Dench. But, as she is only twenty-two, it will be 
Truxton." 

With a sigh, she turned again to the swashbuck- 
ling exploits of the gallant Porthos. 



II 



THE MISSING BRIDEGROOM 



Two million dollars and the most beautiful girl 
in the county were to be Norris Endicott's in 
another twenty-five minutes. 

He was emphatically in love with Bertha Van 
Sutton, but cared nothing for her millions, in spite 
of the remembrance of his own uncertain income 
as a struggling architect. The next half hour was 
to bring him all that a reasonable man could ask 
in this uncertain world. 

This was his position and outlook at the Van 
Sutton home at seven-forty p. m. Some one has 
said that a moment can change the course of a 
battle. Also it can revolutionize a man's life — 
perhaps end it altogether — and pitchfork him into 
another. At five minutes past eight — the hour 
that Endicott was to have made Bertha Van Sutton 
his wife — he had vanished from " The Maples " 



^'v 



The Missing Bridegroom 59 

as completely and mysteriously as though the balmy 
earth outside had opened and swallowed him. The 
expectant bridegroom literally had been whisked 
into oblivion. 

At twenty minutes before eight o'clock, Willard 
White, glancing into his room, found Endicott 
pacing the floor, his tall, closely knit figure showing 
to excellent advantage in his evening clothes, a quiet 
smile, as of anticipation, on his face as he held a 
match to his cigarette. 

" Nervous, old man ? " White called banteringly , 
holding the door a-jar. 

Endicott turned with a laugh. " Nervous ? 
When the best girl in the world is about to be mine 
— all mine? Of course I'm nervous, but it's because 
I am so happy I can hardly keep my feet on the 
ground! " (Which was a somewhat hysterical, but 
thoroughly human remark, you would agree, had 
you ever worshipped at the shrine of Bertha Van 
Sutton!) 

At five minutes past eight the orchestra shifted 
the music of Mendelssohn's " Wedding March " to 
their racks, the leader cleared his throat in expec- 
tation of the signal to raise his baton, and the chat- 
tering throngs of guests, scattered through the 
lavishly decorated house from the conservatory to 
the veranda, swept into the long red-and-gold 
drawing-room, with the bower of palms and orchids 



60 MiM Madelyn Mack, Detective 

at the end drawing admiring exclamations even 
from the nfiost cynical dowagers. Adolph Van 
Sutton's millions assuredly had set a fit stage for 
the most talked-of wedding of the season. 

Outside, Adolph, himself, was fumbling nerv- 
ously with his cuffs as the bridal party ranged itself 
in whispering ranks for the entry. Bertha Van 
Sutton had just appeared with Ethel Allison, her 
chief bridesmaid and chum since boarding-school 
days. As she took the arm of her father, she made 
a picture to justify the half-audible sighs of envy 
from the bevy of attendants. With the folds of her 
long veil reaching almost to the hem of her gown 
and the sweep of her train, her figure looked almost 
regal in spite of her girlish slendemess. Her dark 
hair, piled in a great, loose coil, heightened the im- 
pression, which might have given her the sugges- 
tion of haughtiness had it not been for the mag- 
netism of her smile. 

The smile was bubbling in her eyes as she glanced 
around with the surprised question, '* Where's 
Norris?" 

Her father looked up quickly, but it was Ethel 
Allison who answered, " Willard White has just 
gone after him, Bert. Here he comes now ! " 

The best man came hurriedly through the door. 
As he paused, he wiped his forehead with his hand- 
kerchief. 



The Missing Bridegroom 61 

" Where's Norris, Willard ? " Miss Allison asked 
impatiently. 

"He's gone!" 

" Gone ! " The bridesmaid's voice rose to a shrill 
falsetto. 

The best man shook his head in a sort of blind 
bewilderment. " He's gone," he repeated, mechan- 
ically. 

The bride whirled. Adolph Van Sutton strode 
forward and seized White by the arm. 

" What, under Heaven, are you giving us, man? " 

White stiffened his shoulders as though the sharp 
grasp had awakened him from his daze. 

" Norris Endicott is not in this house, sir ! " he 
cried, as if realizing for the first time the full im- 
port of his announcement. 

In the drawing-room, the orchestra-leader, with a 
final look at the empty door, lowered his baton with 
a snort of disgust and pltmiped sullenly back in his 
chair. The jewel-studded ranks of the crowding 
guests elevated their eyebrows in polite wonder. In 
the corner, the palms that were to have sheltered 
the bride beckoned impatiently. 

On the velvet carpet, outside, lay a white, silent 
figure. It was Bertha Van Sutton who had fallen, 
an unconscious heap in the folds of her wedding 
finery. 

Up-stairs in the groom's apartment, a circle of 



■ 

62 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

disheveled men were staring at one another in 
tongue-tied bewilderment. Norris Endicott might 
have vanished into thin air, evaporated. The man 
who was to wed the Van Sutton heiress had been 
blotted out, eliminated. 

As the group edged imeasily toward the door, a 
stray breeze, fragrant with the evening odors of 
the flower-lined lawn below, swept through the open 
window. A small object, half-buried in the curtain 
folds, fell with a soft thud to the floor. The near- 
est man stooped toward it almost unconsciously. It 
was a silver ball, perhaps three-quarters of an inch 
in diameter. With a shrug, he passed it to Adolph 
Van Sutton. The latter dropped it mechanically 
into his pocket. 



II 



The five o'clock sun was splashing its waning 
glow down on to the autumn-thinned trees when I 
pushed open tlie rustic gate of " The Rosary " the 
next afternoon to carry the somber problem that 
was beyond me to the wizard skill of Madelyn 
Mack. 

I was frankly tired after the day's buffetings. 
And there was a soothing restfulness in the velvet 
green of the close-cropped lawn, with its fat box 
hedges and the scarlet splashes of its canna beds. 



The Missing Bridegroom 63 

that brought me to an almost involuntary pause lest 
I break the spell. Madelyn Mack's rose garden 
beyond was a wreck of shrivelled bushes, but my 
pang at the memory of its faded glories was soft- 
ened by the banks of asters and cosmos marshalled 
before it as though to hide its emptiness. The 
snake-like coil of a black hose was pouring a play- 
ful spray into a circle of scarlet sage at the side 
of the gravelled path, with the gaunt figure of An- 
drew Bolton crouching, hatless, near it, trimming 
a ragged line of grass with a pair of long shears. 

With a sigh I turned toward the quaint chalet 
nestling ahead. I might have been miles from the 
rumble of the work-a-day world. 

I smiled — somewhat cynically, I will confess — 
as I pulled the old-fashioned knocker. There were 
few persons yet who knew, as I did, the shadows 
surrounding the wedding-night vanishing of Norris 
Endicott. Could Madelyn solve the problem that 
had already taken rank as the most baffling police 
case of five years? 

The sphinx-like face of Susan Bolton greeted me 
on the other side of the door. She was dressed for 
the street in her prim bonnet and black silk gown. 

"Miss Madelyn said you would be here. Miss 
Noraker," she greeted me. " I thought I might 
meet you on my way to the Missionary Tea.'' 

Crime and a Missionary Tea! I smiled at the 



64 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

incongruity as I protested, " But I never told her I 
was coming ! How in the world — " 

Susan threw up her mittened hands. "Law, 
child, don't you know she has a way of finding out 
things?" 

A sudden laugh and the friendly bark of a dog 
sounded from the end of the hall. A slight figure 
in black stepped toward me with her two hands ex- 
tended. At her heels, Peter the Great trotted 
lazily. 

" I am glad you came before six ! " she said, as 
she seized and held both of my hands, a distinctively 
Madelyn Mack habit. " I was afraid you would 
be delayed. The trolley service to the Van Sutton 
place is abominable ! '' 

But why did you want me before six ? " I cried. 
And how did you know I was coming at all? 
And how — " 

Madelyn released my hands with a smile. 
" Really, you must give me time to catch my breath f 
Come into the den with Peter the Great, and toast 
yourself while we cross-examine each other." 

It was not until she was drawn up before the 
crackling log in the great open fireplace, with the 
dog curled contentedly on the jaguar skin at her 
feet, that she spoke again, and then it was in the 
rapid-fire fashion that showed me she was " hot 
on a winding trail," as she would express it. 



it 

it 



The Missing Bridegroom 65 

" I will answer your questions first," she began, 
as she rested her chin on her left hand in her favor- 
ite attitude and peered across at me, her eyes glow- 
ing with the restless energy of her mood. " I tele- 
phoned the Bugle office this morning and was told 
that you had just left for ' The Maples/ Of course 
I knew that Nora Noraker, the star reporter, would 
be put on the Van Sutton case at once, and I had 
a shrewd idea from past experience that you would 
bring the problem to me before night. As I am 
to meet Adolph Van Sutton here at six, I was 
anxious to review the field with you before his 
arrival. I was retained in the case this afternoon, 
as I rather expected to be, after I had read the early 
editions of the papers and saw that the poHce would 
have to abandon their obvious theory." 

I raised my eyebrows. " What is that ? " 

She shrugged her shoulders. " Murder ! I had 
not read half a dozen paragraphs before I saw that 
this, of course, was absurd, and that even the 
police would have to admit as much before 
night." • 

" But they haven't ! " I cut in triumphantly. 
" Detective Wiley gave out an interview just before 
I left — said there was no doubt that Endicott had 
been made away with ! " 

" Then the more fool he ! " Madel)m stirred the 
gnarled log in the fireplace until a shower of yellow 



66 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

sparks went dancing up the chimney. " I could 
show him his mistake in three sentences." 

For a moment she sat staring at me, with her 
long lashes veiling a slow smile. 

" Do they use gas or electricity at * The 
Maples ' ? " she asked, abruptly. 

I thought for a moment. " Both," I answered. 
"Why?" 

" Was either burning in Endicott's room at the 
time of his disappearance ? " 

I shook my head with a helpless smile. 

Madelyn rubbed her hands gently through the 
long, shaggy hair of Peter the Great. We both sat 
staring into the fire for quite five minutes. " Did 
Endicott dress at ' The Maples ' for the cere- 
mony ? " she demanded suddenly. " Or did he dress 
before he appeared at the house?" I could feel 
her eyes studying me as I pondered the ques- 
tion. 

I looked up finally with an expression of rueful 
bewilderment. 

"Oh, Nora! Noral" she cried, with a little 
stamp of her foot. " Where are your eyes and your 
ears ? And you at the house all day ! " 

" I rather flattered myself that I had found out 
all there was to find," I answered somewhat petu- 
lantly. 

Madelyn reached over to the divan by her elbow 



The Missing Bridegroom 67 

and selected a copy of the Bugle from the stack 
of crumpled papers that it contained. It was not 
until she had read slowly through the five-column 
report of the Van Sutton mystery — two columns 
of which I had contributed myself — that she 
looked up. " I presume you have mentioned here 
everything of importance ? " 

I nodded. " Norris Endicott was above suspicion 
— morally and financially. He had few friends — 
that is, close friends — but no enemies. There 
was absolutely no one who wished him ill, no 
one who might have a reason for doing so, 
unless — " 

Madel)m noted my hesitation with a swift flash. 
" You mean his defeated rivals for Miss Van Sut- 
ton's hand ? " 

" You have taken the words out of my mouth. 
There were two of them, and both were present at 
the wedding — that didn't take place. Curiously 
enough, one of the two was Endicott's best man, 
Willard White. The other he also knew more or 
less intimately — Richard Bainbridge, the civil 
engineer." I gazed across at her as I paused. To 
my disappointment, she was studying the carpet, 
with her thoughts obviously far away. ** That is 
all, I think," I finished rather lamely. 

The log in the fireplace fell downward with a 
shower of fresh sparks. Peter the Great growled 



A 






•^ 



68 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

uneasily. Madelyn took the dog's head in her lap, 
and wasl^ilent so long I thought she had forgotten 
me. 

Suddenly she leaned back in her chair and her 
eyes half closed. 

" One more question, Nora, if you please. I be- 
lieve you said in your report that, when the group 
of searchers were leaving Endicott's vacant room, 
a small, silver ball rolled from the sill to the floor. 
Do you happen to know whether the ball is solid 
or hollow ? " 

I smiled. " It is hollow. I examined it this af- 
ternoon. But surely such a trivial incident — " 

Madelyn pushed back her chair with a quick 
gesture of satisfaction. " How often must I tell 
you that nothing is trivial — in crime? That an- 
swer atones for all of your previous failures, Nora. 
You may go to the head of the class! No, not 
another word ! " she interrupted as I stared at her. 
" I don't want to think or talk — now. I must have 
some music to clear my brain if I am to scatter 
these cobwebs ! " 

I sank back with a sigh of resignation and 
watched her as she stepped across to the phono- 
graph, resting on the cabinet of records in the cor- 
ner. I knew from experience that she had veered 
into a mood in which I would have gained an in- 
stant rebuke had I attempted to press the case 



The Missing Bridegroom 69 

farther. Patiently or impatiently, I must await her 
pleasure to reopen our discussion. 

" What shall it be ? " she asked almost gaily, with 
her nervous alertness completely gone as she stooped 
over the record-case. " How would the quartet 
from * Rigoletto ' strike your mood ? I think it 
would be ideal, for my part." 

From Verdi we circled to Donizetti's "Lucia," 
and then, in an odd whim, her hand drew forth a 
haphazard selection from " William Tell." It was 
the latter part of the ballet music, and the record 
was perhaps half completed when the door opened 
— we had not heard the bell — and Susan an- 
nounced Adolph Van Sutton. 

Madelyn rose, but she did not stop the machine. 
Mr. Van Sutton plumped nervously into the seat 
that she extended to him, gazing with obvious em- 
barrassment at her radiant face as she stood with 
her head bent forward and a faint smile on her 
lips, completely under the sway of Rossini's match- 
less music. 

She stopped the machine sharply at the end of 
the record. When she whirled back toward us, 
" William Tell " had been forgotten. She was 
again the sharp-eyed, sharp-questioning ferret, with 
no thought beyond the problem of the moment. I 
think the transformation astonished our caller even 
more than the glimpse of her unexpected mood at 



70 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

his entrance. I could imagine that his matter-of- 
fact, commercial mind was floundering in the effort 
to understand the remarkable young woman before 
him. 

Madelyn changed her seat to one almost di- 
rectly opposite her nervous client She was about 
to speak when she noted his eyes turned question- 
ingly in my direction. 

" This is my friend. Miss Noraker, Mr. Van 
Sutton," sfhe announced formally. " I believe you 
have met before." 

Mr. Van Sutton polished his glasses with his 
handkerchief as he responded somewhat dubiously. 
" Miss Noraker is a — a reporter, I believe ? Don't 
you think, Miss Mack, that our conversation should 
be, er — private?" 

I had already risen when Madelyn motioned to 
me to pause. " Miss Noraker is not here in her 
newspaper capacity. She is a personal friend who 
has accompanied me in so many of my cases that 
I look upon her almost as a lieutenant. You can 
rest assured that nothing which you or I would 
wish kept silent will be published ! " 

Mr. Van Sutton's face cleared, and he bowed to 
me as if in apology. " Very well. Miss Mack. I 
am sure I can rely upon your discretion perfectly." 

I resumed my chair at a sign from Madel3m, and 
our visitor stared out into the grey dusk, with the 



The Missing Bridegroom 71 

lines of his clean-shaven face showing the uneasi- 
ness and worry of the past twenty-four hours. 

Madelyn was the first to speak. " Will you tcU 
me candidly, Mr. Van Sutton, why you objected so 
persistently to your daughter's marriage ? " 

Our caller swung around in his chair as though 
a shot had been fired at his elbow. " What do you 
mean, young woman ? " 

Madelyn dropped her chin on to her hand and 
the fleeting twinkle I know so well flashed into her 
eyes. " Six months ago, you positively refused to 
consider Norris Endicott as your daughter's suitor. 
Three months ago he approached you again and 
you refused him a second time. It was only four 
weeks ago, that you gave your consent — a some- 
what grudging one, if I must be plain — and the 
date of the wedding was fixed almost immedi- 
ately." 

Adolph Van Sutton stared across at Madelyn 
with widening eyes. The flush faded from his 
cheeks, leaving them a dull white. 

" I employed you. Miss Mack, to trace Norris 
Endicott, not to burrow into my personal aflfairs ! " 

Madelyn stepped toward the door. *' I will send 
in the bill for my services within the week, Mr. Van 
Sutton. Did you leave your hat in the hall ? " 

" Am I to understand that you are throwing up 
the case ? " 



72 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

" Yes, sir." 

Adolph Van Sutton thrust his hands restlessly 
into his pockets. "I — I beg your pardon, Miss 
Mack! Please sit down, and overlook a nervous 
man's excitability. You can hardly understand the 
strain I am under. You were asking me — what 
was it you were asking me? Ah, you were 
inquiring into my relations with young Endi- 
cott ! " 

Mr. Van Sutton rolled his handkerchief into a 
ball between his hands as Madelyn coldly resumed 
her chair. " There is really nothing to tell you. 
You are a woman of the world. Miss Mack. I 
objected to Mr. Endicott as a husband for my 
daughter because, frankly, he was a poor man — 
and Bertha has hardly been raised in a manner that 
would teach her economy. Have I made myself 
clear?" He dropped his handkerchief into his 
pocket and his lips tightened. " Bertha had her 
own way in the end — as she generally does — and 
I gave in. Is there anything more ? " 

" I believe that personally you preferred Willard 
White as a son-in-law. Am I right? " 

"What of it?" 

Madelyn gave a little sigh. " Nothing — noth- 
ing ! You have been very patient, Mr. Van Sutton. 
I am going to ask you just one question more — 
before we leave for ' The Maples.* Does the sec- 



The Missing Bridegroom 73 

ond story veranda under Mr. Endicott's window 
extend along the entire side of the house ? " 

I think that we both stared at her. 

" The second story veranda ? " repeated Mr. Van 
Sutton. "I thought you told me that you had 
never been to my home ! " 

Madelyn snapped her fingers with a suggestion 
of impatience. " I know there must be such a 
veranda ! There could be no other way — " She 
bit her sentence through as though checking an un- 
spoken thought. " Unless I am mistaken, it ex- 
tends from the front entirely to the rear. Am I 
correct ? " 

" You are, but — " 

Madelyn pressed the bell at her elbow. '* I see 
you have brought your automobile. I will take the 
liberty of asking you to share our dinner here. 
Then we can start for ' The Maples ' immediately 
afterward. With luck we should reach there 
shortly after eight. Is that agreeable to you ? " 

" Really, Miss Mack — " 

But Madelyn waved her hand, and the matter 
was settled. 

Ill 

The clock was exactly on the stroke of eight 
when our machine whirled through the broad gate 
of " The Maples," after an invigorating dash 



74 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

through the New Jersey shadows. At the end of 
the driveway we saw the colonial mansion, whose 
wedding night festivities had been so abruptly 
shattered. 

If we had expected a house buried in the gloom 
of mystery we were disappointed. " The Maples " 
was a blaze of light from cellar to attic. It was 
not until the automobile stopped at the front ve- 
randa, and the solemn face of the butler presented 
itself with its mutely questioning glance, that we 
found our first hint of crime or tragedy. 

Mr. Van Sutton conducted us at once to the 
library — a long, high, massively furnished room 
toward the end of the central hall extending en- 
tirely through the house. At the door, he turned 
with a short bow. 

" It is needless to say, of course, that the house 
and its inmates are at your service. I am com- 
pletely ignorant of your methods, Miss Mack. If 
you will let me know — " 

He stopped, for Madelyn had walked over to one 
of the long dormer windows and stood staring out 
into the darkness, with her hands beating a low 
tattoo on the glass. 

*'Is Mr. Endicott's room on this side?" she 
asked without turning. 

" Almost directly overhead." 

" And the drawing-room — where the ceremony 




KADELYN . . • STOOD STARING OUT INTO THE DARK- 
NESS." 



The Missing Bridegroom 75 

was to have been performed — I take it, is on the 
other side?" 

There was a faraway note in her voice, which 
told me that she hardly heard Mr. Van Sutton's 
formal assent. 

For perhaps three minutes she remained peering 
out into the shadowy lawn, as oblivious to our pres- 
ence as though she had been alone. Our host was 
pacing back and forth over the polished floor when 
she whirled. 

" Will you take me up to Mr. Endicott's room 
now, please?" 

Mr. Van Sutton strode to the door with an air 
of relief. " I, myself, will escort you." 

Madelyn did not speak during the ascent to the 
upper floor. Once Mr. Van Sutton ventured a 
remark, but she made no effort to reply, and he 
desisted with a shrug. She did not even break her 
silence when he threw open the door of a chamber 
at the end of the corridor, and we realized that we 
were in the room of the missing bridegroom. 

For a moment we paused at the threshold, as our 
guide found the switch and turned on the electric 
lights. It was a large, airy apartment, with a small 
alcove at one end containing a bed, and a door at 
the other end opening into a marble-tiled bathroom. 
An effort had been made to preserve the contents 
exactly as they had been found on the previous 



76 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

evening. The dressing table was still strewn with 
a varied assortment of toilet articles, as though 
they had just been dropped. The curtain of one 
window was jerked to the top, while its companion 
hung decorously to the sill. 

Madelyn darted merely a cursory glance at the 
room. Stepping across to the writing-table, she 
seized the waste paper basket leaning against its 
side. It was empty. In spite of this fact, she lifted 
it to the table and whipped out a small magnifying 
glass from her hand-bag. For fully five minutes 
she bent over it, studying the woven straw with as 
much eagerness as a miner searching for gold 
dust. 

When she straightened, her eyes flashed uncer- 
tainly around the walls. Directly opposite was an 
asbestos grate of gas logs. She sank on to her 
knees before it, the magnifying glass again to her 
eyes. 

" Is there anything I can do for you. Miss 
Mack ? " Mr. Van Sutton asked impatiently. 

She did not even glance in our direction. 
Rising to her feet, she stepped back to the writing- 
table where two ash trays were resting. "Were 
these Mr. Endicott's ? " 

"I — I suppose so. Why ? " 

Madelyn carried the trays nearer to the light. 
One held a litter of ashes; the second tray both 



The Missing Bridegroom 77 

ashes and crumbling cigarette stubs. I caught a 
curious flicker of satisfaction in her eyes. 

" Mr. Endicott must have been something of a 
smoker, wasn't he ? " she asked, as though men- 
tioning a self-evident fact. 

" On the contrary, he was not I " retorted Mr. 
Van Sutton. 

" Good ! " she cried so heartily that we both 
stared at her. As she returned the trays, her ab- 
straction vanished. I even caught the fragment of 
a tune under her breath when she threw open the 
door of the roomy closet at the other side of the 
room. It was Schumann's " Traumerei." 

A man's light grey, street suit was hanging from 
the row of clothes hooks on the wall. On the 
floor, a pair of shoes had been tossed. It did not 
need our host's terse comment to tell us that they 
belonged to Norris Endicott. 

" You will find nothing there. Miss Mack," he 
volunteered. " The police have had the pockets 
inside out half a dozen times ! " 

A cry from Madelyn interrupted him. She had 
passed the suit with a shrug and had seized the dis- 
carded shoes. 

" What is it? " Mr. Van Sutton demanded, press- 
ing forward. 

Madelyn tossed the shoes back to the floor. 
Qosing the door, she stood tapping her jade brace- 



78 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 



let Again I thought that I heard the strains of 
** Traumerei." " I was once asked to name a de- 
tective's first rule of guidance/' she said irrele- 
vantly. " I answered to remember always that 
nothing is trivial — in crime." She paused. 
" Every day I find something new to prove the cor- 
rectness of my rule ! " 

" But surely you have discovered nothing — " 

Madelyn gazed at the owner of " The Maples " 
with her peculiar twinkle. " There are two per- 
sons in this house with whom I would like a few 
moments* conversation. They are the butler and 
Miss Van Sutton's maid. Could you have them 
sent to the library ? " 

"Certainly. Is there anything else?" 

Madelyn reached absently across to the ash trays 
again. There seemed a peculiar fascination for her 
in their prosaic litter. 

" Could I also have the honor of a short inter- 
view with your daughter ? " 

Mr. Van Sutton inclined his head and stepped 
into the hall. As I followed him, the door was 
closed sharply behind us. I whirled around and 
heard the key turn. Madelyn had locked herself in. 

Mr. Van Sutton straightened with a frown. 
I'hen, without a word, he spun about on his heels 
and strode toward his daughter's boudoir. I de- 
scended the stairs alone. 



t. 




S SHE SPREAD IT OPEN" I.V HER LAP, APPARENTLV FOR 
THE FIRST TIUE SHE RECALLED THE BUTLER." 



:lTy 



...... ■■■•Mi 



The Musing Bridegroom 79 

It was almost a quarter of an hour later that 
Madelyn rejoined me. She nodded briefly to the 
butler, who was sitting on the edge of a chair as 
stiffly erect as a ramrod. But she did not pause. 
Hardly deigning a glance at me, she stepped over 
to the long shelves of books, built higher than her 
arms could reach, and her hand zigzagged along 
the rich leather bindings and gilt letters. Selecting 
a massive morocco volume from one of the central 
rows, she dropped into the nearest seat. The book 
was an encyclopedia, extending from the letter 
" H '' to the letter " N.'' 

As she spread it open in her lap, apparently for 
the first time she recalled the butler. She glanced 
up. 

" You will excuse me ? " 

"Yes, madam!" 

" I will be through in a moment ! " 

" Yes, madam ! " 

Jenkins' face resumed its stolidness, and Made- 
lyn's gaze dropped to her book. She could not 
have read a dozen lines, however, when she closed 
it and sprang to her feet. She paced across the 
library, her hands behind her back. 

" I have only one question to ask, Jenkins." 

" Yes, madam ! " 

" I wish to know whether Mr. Endicott ordered 
a tray of ashes brought up to his room last night? " 



80 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Jenkins' eyes widened and his hands dropped to 
his sides. " A tray of ashes? " he stammered. 

" I believe that is what I said ! " 

With a visible effort Jenkins recovered his com- 
posure. His twenty years' training had not been 
in vain. " No, madam ! " he answered in a rather 
dubious tone. 

" Are you absolutely sure ? I may tell you that 
a great deal depends upon your answer! " 

Jenkins' voice recovered its steadiness. " I am 
quite sure ! " 

" Is it possible that you would not know ? " 

" I am confident that I would know ! " 

Madelyn sank into the leather rocker by her side, 
with an expression of the most genuine disappoint- 
ment that I have ever seen her exhibit. In the 
silence that followed, the ticking of the colonial 
clock in the corner sounded with harsh distinctness. 
Outside in the hall I fancied I heard a repressed 
cough. Miss Van Sutton's maid evidently was 
awaiting her turn. Madelyn's slight, black-garbed 
figure had fallen back in her chair, and her right 
hand was pressed over her eyes. 

" Would you mind leaving the room for a few 
moments, Nora? No, Jenkins, I wish that you 
would stay. I find that I have another question 
for you." 

Annette, the maid, was walking back and forth 



The Missing Bridegroom 81 

in the hall as I opened the door. She glanced 
toward me, but did not speak. I had hardly noted 
the details of her figure, however, when the door 
of the library opened again and the butler followed 
me. Dull wonder was written on his face as he 
nodded shortly to the girl to take his place. 

My thoughts were broken by the swish of skirts 
on the stairs. The next moment I faced Adolph 
Van Sutton and his daughter. This was the first 
time during the day that I had seen the latter. She 
had remained locked in her room since morning, 
denying all interviewers, and only giving Detective 
Wiley a scant five minutes after his third request. 
I had expected to find evidences of a pronounced 
strain after her prostration of the previous evening, 
but I was startled by her pallor as her father took 
her arm and led her down the hall. 

Of all the heart-broken women, whether of cot- 
tage or mansion, with whom my newspaper career 
has brought me in contact, there was no figure more 
pathetic than that of the heiress of the Van Sutton 
millions as she swayed toward me on that eventful 
night. 

Bertha Van Sutton crossed wearily into the li- 
brary as the maid emerged, " I have one favor to 
request, Miss Mack, and if you have ever suffered 
in your life-time, you will grant it. Please be as 
brief as possible ! " 



..^-^ 



82 MUs Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" Do you want me here ? " her father asked. 

Madelyn had walked over to the book shelves, 
and was again delving into the pages of the morocco 
encyclopedia. " I would prefer not ! " she answered 
without looking up. 

It was well toward half-past nine (I had glanced 
at my watch a dozen times) when the two women 
in the library emerged. The form of Bertha Van 
Sutton was bent even more than before, and it was 
evident at a glance that the strain of the interview 
had brought her almost to the point of a col- 
lapse. 

As I started forward, the light flashed for an in- 
stant on a round gleaming object in Madelyn 
Mack*s hand. It was the small silver ball that had 
been found in Norris Endicott's room. 

At that moment, the front bell tinkled through 
the house. There was a short conversation in the 
vestibule, and then Jenkins ushered a tall, loosely 
jointed figure into the hall. It was Detective Wiley 
of the Newark headquarters. (Of course the affair 
at " The Maples " had come under the jurisdiction 
of the New Jersey police.) 

The detective's ruddy face, with its stubble of 
beard, was flushed with an unusual excitement, and 
his stiff, sandy moustache stood out in two bristling 
lines from his mouth. He received Madelyn's bow 
with a short, half contemptuous nod, as he snapped 



The Missing Bridegroom 83 

out, "I'm right after all, Mr. Van Sutton! It's 
murder — nothing more nor less 1 " 

" Murder ! " The gasp came from Bertha Van 
Sutton. For an instant I thought she was about to 
faint. 

Wiley glanced around the group with a sugges- 
tion of conscious importance which did not leave 
him, even in the tension of the moment. 

" We have found Mr. Endicott's clothes in 
Thompson's Creek — and the coat is covered with 
blood ! " 

Madelyn Mack gently led Bertha Van Sutton to 
the chair I had vacated. One hand was stroking 
the girl's temples as she turned. 

You are wrong, Mr. Wiley ! " she said quietly. 

For the peace of mind of this household, I am 
willing to stake my reputation that you are 
wrong." 

Detective Wiley whirled with a sneer. " Really, 
you astound me, my lady policeman! May I 
humbly inquire how your pink tea wisdom deduces 
so much ? " 

Madelyn smoothed the folds of her coat as she 
straightened. " I have promised Miss Van Sutton 
that if she and her father will call at ' The Rosary * 
to-morrow afternoon at four, I will g^ve them a 
complete explanation of this unfortunate affair! 
You may call also if you are interested, Mr. Wiley 






y 



84 Mus Madelyn Mack, Detective 

— and don't arrest the murderer in the meantime ! 
Will you kindly loan us your motor for the trip 
back to town, Mr. Van Sutton ? " 



IV 

I CONFESS that I approached Madelyn Mack's 
chalet the next day with pronounced skepticism. 
The morning papers of both New York and New- 
ark had been crammed with the discovery of Norris 
Endicott's blood-stained garments, and were full of 
hysterical praise for the " masterly work " of De- 
tective Joseph Wiley. 

Some one had found that Madelyn Mack had 
also been retained in the case, and the reporters 
had tried in vain to obtain an interview. In the 
face of her silence, the applause for the police had 
become even more emphasized. 

She was alone when I entered ; but, as I pointed 
to the clock just on the verge of four, she held up 
her hand. The bell sounded through the house, 
and the next moment Susan conducted Adolph Van 
Sutton and his daughter into the room. 

In the confusion of the greeting, the signs of 
nervous strain on Madel)m's face struck me sharply. 
It did not need her weary admission to tell me that 
she had spent a racking day, nor that she had had 
frequent recourse to the stimulant of her cola ber- 



The Musing Bridegroom 85 

ries. Even her hair, about whose arrangement she 
generally was precise to the point of nervousness, 
was dishevelled, and once, when Peter the Great 
thrust his nose into her lap, she ordered him im- 
patiently away. 

The Van Suttons had hardly seated themselves 
when there was a step in the hall and the last guest 
of the afternoon made his appearance. There was 
not the slightest hint of ill humor in Madelyn's 
greeting as Detective Wiley somewhat awkwardly 
took the hand that she extended to him. 

" Have you traced the murderer yet, Mr. 
Wiley?" 

" No, but I expect to have him in custody within 
the next twenty-four hours ! " Detective Wiley 
dropped heavily into his chair and crossed his 
knees. 

May I ask if you have found the body ? " 
I can't say that we have, but we have certain 
information which — " 

Madelyn walked over to the end of the room 
where she could face the entire group. She was 
the only one of us who was standing. 

** Then I am more fortunate than you are ! " 

The detective bounded from his seat, his sandy 
moustache — the barometer of his emotions — 
bristling. " I am not a man to trifle with. Miss 
Mack. Do you mean to tell me — " 



u 

it 



86 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" That I have discovered the body of Norris 
Endicott? You have caught my meaning 
exactly! " 

Wiley stood staring at her in a sort of tongue- 
tied amazement. A gasp recalled me to the other 
occupants of the room. Bertha Van Sutton was 
devouring Madelyn's face as though pleading with 
her to end her suspense. Her father was stroking 
her hand. 

Madelyn stepped to the door and threw it open. 
On the threshold stood a young man in a brown 
tweed suit, with a purple lump showing just at the 
edge of his hair. He stared at us as though he 
were dazed by a sudden light. 

Bertha Van Sutton darted across the room, with 
a cry, and threw herself into his arms. 

It was Norris Endicott. 

Madelyn sprang to her side, with a query in- 
tensely practical — and intensely feminine. ** Has 
she fainted ? " 

"I — I think so.'* Norris Endicott stood gazing 
down at his burden helplessly. 

" We must carry her into the next room then — 
take hold of her shoulders, please! No, the rest 
of you stand back ! It needs a woman to take care 
of a woman ! " 

Detective Wiley strode over to the desk telephone 
and called police headquarters. He had just turned 



The Missing Bridegroom 87 

from the instrument when the door opened and 
Madelyn returned. 

" She is all right, I assure you ! " she cried ha- 
stily, as Adolph Van Sutton started from his chair. 
" I have left her with Mr. Endicott. On the whole, 
he is the best nurse we could find. Sit down, Mr. 
Wiley. You will find that rocker more comfortable, 
Mr. Van Sutton. It is not a long story that I have 
to tell, but it contains its tragedy — and we 
have to thank Providence that it isn't a double 
one!" 

She paused, as though marshalling her thoughts. 
Detective Wiley surveyed her uneasily. 

" I am sorry to inform you, Mr. Van Sutton, that 
your daughter is a widow! Or perhaps — as I 
wish to be entirely frank — I should say that I am 
glad to convey this announcement to you ! " Her 
slight, black figure bent forward. " Your daugh- 
ter's husband was one of the greatest scamps that 
ever went unpunished ! " 

" But my daughter never had a husband, Miss 
Mack! You forget — " 

" I forget nothing ! Has it ever occurred to you 
that there might be a chapter in Miss Van Sutton's 
life unknown to you? Pray keep your seat, my 

* 

dear sir ! You are a man of the world and a father. 
You have the knowledge of the one and the heart 
of the other. When I tell you that during your 



88 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

daughter's college days — Nora, will you kindly 
pour Mr. Van Sutton a little of that brandy? 
Thank you ! " 

Madelyn did not change her position as the owner 
of "• The Maples " gulped down the liquor. She 
waited until he had finished, her chin still on her 
hand, her eyes never shifting. 

" Let me give you the explanation of our mys- 
tery in a few words, Mr. Van Sutton. The wed- 
ding ceremony of Wednesday night was not per- 
formed — because your daughter was already a 
wife! Norris Endicott disappeared from 'The 
Maples' — eliminated himself — to save her from 
one of the most agonizing alternatives that ever 
confronted a woman ! " 

Behind me, I heard Detective Wiley give a cry 
of sudden comprehension. 

*' Incredible, impossible as it may seem. Miss Van 
Sutton did not know of the barrier to her marriage 
until the ceremony was less than an hour distant. 
What she would have done under other circiun- 
stances I don't know. It was the man, who was 
waiting to lead her to the altar, who came to her 
rescue ! " 

Madelyn spoke in as emotionless a tone as though 
she were discussing the weather. There was even 
a bored note in her voice as though the glamour of 
the problem had left her — with its solution. 



The Musing Bridegroom 89 

'* To understand tlie situation, we must go back 
quite five years. When Miss Van Sutton was a 
senior at Vassar she fell in love with the matinee 
idol of a New York stock company. Reginald 
Winters was a man with a character as shallow as 
his heart. Bluntly, he knew of your wealth, and 
schemed to gain a part of it. You don't find the 
situation unusual, do you? In the end, he per- 
suaded Miss Bertha to elope with him. But he 
made a slight error. He did not investigate your 
disposition until after the marriage. 

" He was too shrewd to risk an open avowal and 
a paternal storm. Rather a canny villain, as a 
matter of fact! He set on foot a series of in- 
quiries which showed him, too late, that, rather 
than accept him in your house, you would lose your 
daughter. 

"A disinherited heiress did not appeal to him. 
Less than a week after the elopement, your daugh- 
ter awoke to the fact that she was deserted. Mr. 
Van Sutton, you must calm yourself! I warn you 
I will not relate the sequel unless you do! 

" Fate plays us queer pranks. Or is it Fate ? I 
come now to the first suggestion of the fantastic. 
A year later. Miss Van Sutton read in a report of 
a wreck — somewhere in the West, I believe — 
that Reginald Winters had been killed. I don't 
know what her emotions were. I imagine she was 



90 Mits Madelyn Mack, Detective 

like the prisoner who inhales his first breath of 
freedom. 

" I think you can guess the next chapter ? Am I 
verging too much on the lines of the woman novel- 
ist? It was not until the evening which was to 
have made her the bride of Norris Endicott, that 
she discovered her ghastly mistake — which an- 
other hour would have made still more ghastly. 

" Reginald Winters not only was living, but he 
had followed her to her father's door. To make 
our melodrama complete, in a characteristic note he 
reminded her of the disagreeable fact that she was 
his wife." 

Madelyn's eyes closed wearily. When she opened 
them, the lines of strain on her face seemed more 
intense than ever — in contrast to her light tone. 

"In a' novel, the bride, driven to desperation, 
would have killed her Nemesis. But women of 
real life seldom have the desperation of those of 
romance. Bertha Van Sutton turned to the last 
refuge in the world that the woman in the novel 
would have sought. She carried her burden and 
her problem to the man who was waiting to place 
his wedding ring on her finger. 

" She dismissed her maid, bolted the door of her 
room, and stepped out on to the veranda below, 
with a dark cloak thrown over her white dress. 
Once at Norris Endicott's apartment, it was a 



The Missing Bridegroom 91 

matter of only an instant to bring him to the 
window. 

" He comprehended the situation in a flash. Of 
course, it was obvious enough — after the first 
shock. The marriage could not take place. But 
how could it be prevented? The girl could have 
told the truth, of course. Was there no other way? 
And then Endicott made his decision. He must 
disappear — until he could find and reckon with 
the man who was threatening her. A Don Quixotic 
plan ? Could you have made a better one ? He sent 
Miss Van Sutton back to her room, and made his 
preparations for flight. 

" It was not until the clock struck eight, however, 
that he nerved himself to the crucial step, and 
swung out from the veranda to the lawn below. It 
was a drop of perhaps twelve feet, and he made it 
without accident. While Willard White was call- 
ing his name through the room, he was watching 
him from the shadows of the yard. 

" Now we come again to the unkindness of Fate. 
He was threading his way through the shrubbery 
adjoining Thompson's Creek when his foot caught 
in a vine and he was thrown to the ground. His 
head struck on a stone and for nearly an hour he 
lay imconscious. When he struggled to his feet, 
his coat and collar were matted with blood. 

" Without a thought of possible consequences, he 



92 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

dropped them into the water. I believe that is 
where you found them, Mr. Wiley. It was nearly 
daylight when he reached his rooms, almost ex- 
hausted. 

" He had but one coherent thought. He must 
find Reginald Winters — without delay and with- 
out publicity. The note, which the actor had writ- 
ten to Miss Van Sutton, contained the address of 
his hotel — an obscure Fourth Avenue boarding- 
house in New York. It was easy enough to find 
the hotel — but the man was out. 

" All of that day and night he watched the build- 
ing, like a hungry dog watches a bone. It was not 
until this morning that Winters returned. Then he 
reappeared in the street so quickly that Endicott 
had no time to follow him up to his room. 

" The actor swung oflf toward Broadway, with 
Endicott stubbornly following him. At Thirty- 
fourth Street and Sixth Avenue, there was a tie-up 
of the surface cars, and the crossing was jammed. 
I see you are anticipating what followed ! Well — 
the wheel of fortune turned abruptly. Winters 
plunged into the swarm of vehicles, absorbed in his 
thoughts. Just before he reached the curb, a dray 
swayed before him. He dodged — too late. The 
rearing team crushed him to the pavement. 

" When they picked him up he was quite dead. 

" It was over his body that Norris Endicott and 



The Missing Bridegroom 93 



I met for the first time — with the realization that 
Bertha Van Sutton was free. 

** As a matter of fact, I had been ' shadowing ' 
Mr. Endicott, as you would express it, Mr. Wiley, 
for several hours." Madel)m pushed back her chair 
and walked across the room, drawing long, deep 
breaths. 

" Have I made myself quite clear ? " 

" Are you a woman or a wizard ? " gasped 
Adolph Van Sutton. 

Detective Wiley sprang to his feet. '* I'm doing 
what I never thought I would have to do, Miss 
Mack." He held out his hand. " Apologizing to 
a petticoat detective ! But I don't see how on eartfi 
you did it!" 

Madelyn shrugged. " Now we are descending 
to the commonplace." She leaned against the 
mantel with a yawn. Adolph Van Sutton thrust 
an unlighted cigar nervously into his mouth. 

*' Have you done me the honor to remember a 
certain maxim of mine — that nothing is trivial in 
crime? But — this is not a lecture on deduction! 

" Miss Van Sutton's connection with the affair 
really was plain after that first newspaper report. 
By the way, Nora, did you write the description of 
the bride's wedding dress? I thought I recognized 
your style. May I congratulate you? From the 
viewpoint — " 



04 Mits Madelyn Mack, Detective 

"Aren't we veering from the subject, Miss 
Mack?" Detective Wiley broke in impatiently. 

" Do you think so ? *' Madelyn's eyes rested on 
his florid face. " I was particularly interested, 
Nora, in your account of the bride's coiffure. I 
agree with you that it was decidedly becoming. I 
remember that you mentioned that her point d' esprit 
veil was fastened by two long pins, each with a 
sterling silver ball as a head." 

A sudden light broke over me. " And the silver 
ball that was found in Norris Endicott's room was 
one of those, of course ! " 

Madel)m smiled. " Your penetration amazes me ! 
It was your own report of the case that gave me 
my first and most important clue before we left 
this house. 

" I think you will agree that my inference was 
plain enough. Miss Van Sutton had visited Norris 
Endicott's room after she was dressed for the cere- 
mony — and consequently just before his disap- 
pearance. She had kept the fact secret — and she 
was so agitated that she did not miss the loss of a 
valuable hair ornament. Why ? 

" There was another question that I put to my- 
self. How had she reached the room? The dis- 
covery of the silver ball on the sill suggested, of 
course, the window. What was under the window ? 
Here I found that a second-story veranda extended 



The Missing Bridegroom 06 

along the entire side of the house. Miss Van Sutton 
then had only to step out of her own window to find 
a channel of communication ready made for her. 
You see I had a fairly good working foundation 
before we entered ' The Maples.' 

" You may recall that I found much interest in 
Endicott's ash trays. Have you ever studied the 
relation of tobacco to human emotions, Mr. Wiley? 
You will find it a singularly suggestive field of 
thought, I assure you. 

" The number of cigarette-ends impressed you, 
perhaps, as it did me. I don't know whether you 
noticed that, in nearly every case, the cigarette had 
only been half consumed — and was so torn and 
crushed as to suggest that it had been thrown aside 
in disgust. What was the natural conclusion ? Ob- 
viously, that a man in an extreme state of nervous 
excitement had been smoking. Now, what could 
agitate Norris Endicott so remarkably? Not his 
approaching wedding, surely! Then what? How 
about the sudden necessity of eliminating himself 
from that wedding? 

" In the closet, you may remember, I found a 
pair of the bridegroom's shoes. In their way, their 
presence was exceedingly remarkable. On the 
hooks, above, was the street suit which Endicott 
had taken off in preparing for the ceremony. The 
shoes, however, were the thin-soled, expensive foot- 



96 Miss Madel]m Mack, Detective 

wear that a man would use only on dress occasions. 
What had become of the street shoes that you would 
expect to find in the closet ? My course of reason- 
ing was simple. After Endicott had dressed for the 
wedding, something had occurred which forced him 
to change back to his heavier boots. What? The 
knowledge, of course, that he was about to leave 
the house on a rough trip. We now have the con- 
clusion that he vanished of his own volition, that 
he knew where and why he was going, and that he 
made certain plans for leaving. 

" It was the next point which I found the most 
baffling — and which led me into my first error." 
Madelyn came to a pause by the rug of Peter the 
Great. The dog rose, yawning, to his feet and 
thrust his nose into her hand. 

" Perhaps you are wondering, Mr. Van Sutton, 
why I locked myself into the room after you and 
Miss Noraker had left? Frankly, I was not satis- 
fied with my investigation — and I wanted to be 
alone. For instance, there was an object on Mr. 
Endicott's dressing table that puzzled me greatly. 
Under ordinary circumstances I might not have 
noticed it. It was the second tray of ashes. 

"They were not tobacco ashes. It didn't need 
a second glance to tell me that they had come from 
a wood fire. Certainly there had not been a wood 
fire in that room — and, if there had been, why the 



The Missing Bridegroom 97 

necessity of preserving so small a part of the 
ashes ? 

" I will admit frankly that I was about to give 
up the problem in disgust when I remembered my 
examination of the waste paper basket and the 
grate. I had reasoned that Mr. Endicott's flight 
had been made necessary after, he entered the house. 
By what? What more likely than a message, per- 
haps a note, perhaps a telegram ? In nine cases out 
of ten, a nervous man would have burned or des- 
troyed such a message; but, in spite of my closest 
search, I found no traces of it. It was not until I 
was moving away from my saucer of ashes that my 
search was rewarded. In the tray was a single 
torn fragment of white paper. 

" There were no others. Either the shreds had 
been carefully gathered up after the message was 
destroyed — which was hardly likely — or the 
fragment before me had been torn from a corner 
in a moment of agitation. But why had I fotmd 
it in the ashes ? " 

Madelyn glanced up at Mr. Van Sutton with an 
abrupt turning of the subject. " Do you ever read 
' Ovid ' ? " 

The owner of " The Maples " gazed at her with 
a frown of bewilderment. 

" Really, you are missing a decided treat, Mr. 
Van Sutton. There is a quaint charm about those 



08 MiM Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

early Greek poets for which I have looked in vain 
in our modern literature. Ovid's verses on love, 
for instance, and his whimsical letters to maidens 
who have fallen early victims to the divine pas- 
sion — " 

" Are you joking or torturing me, Miss Mack ? " 

Madelyn's face grew suddenly grave. 

" I am sorry. Believe me, I beg your pardon ! 
But — it was Ovid who showed me the purpose of 
the tray of ashes! In one of his most famous 
verses there is a recipe for sympathetic ink, de- 
signed to assist in the writing of discreet love let- 
ters, I believe. 

"It is astonishingly simple. No mysterious 
chemicals, no visits to a pharmacist. Instead of 
ink, you write your letters in — milk ! Of course, 
the words are invisible. Apparently you are leaving 
no trace on the paper. Rub the sheet with wood 
ashes, however, and your message is perfectly leg- 
ible! I don't know where Ovid found the recipe. 
It has survived, though, for seventeen hundred 
years. There is only one caution in its use. Make 
sure that the milk is not skimmed ! 

"A letter in invisible ink, you will admit, was 
thoroughly in keeping with the other details of our 
mystery. The encyclopedia in the library con- 
vinced me that I had made no mistake in my recipe 
— and then I turned to the butler, and my theory 



The Missing Bridegroom 00 



received its first jar. Mr. Endicott had ordered 
no saucer of ashes. Moreover, no note, no tele- 
gram, not even a telephone call had come for him. 

" For a moment, I was absolutely hopeless. Then 
I sent you from the room, Nora, so that Jenkins 
would not feel constrained to silence — and put the 
question which solved the problem. 

" It was not Jenkins, however, who gave me my 
answer. It was Miss Van Sutton's maid. The 
tray of ashes had not been ordered by the groom. 
It had been ordered — by the bride. 

" I may as well add here that Miss Van Sutton 
explained to me later that this had been the method 
of communication between her and Reginald Win- 
ters. She had suggested it herself in her college 
days when Ovid was almost her daily companion. 
It was Winters' custom to scribble his initial on the 
corner of the paper. This was her clue, of course, 
that the apparently blank sheet contained a com- 
munication." 

Madelyn stooped over the shaggy form of Peter 
the Great, and his tongue caressed her hand. 

" It was at this juncture that Miss Van Sutton 
was ushered into the library. I did not ask her for 
the note. I was well enough acquainted with my 
sex to know that this would be useless. I told her 
what was in it — and requested her to tell me if 
I was wrong.^ 



ff 



1 bVGrAiU 



100 Miss Madel]m Mack, Detective 

Madelyn walked back to her chair, and, for the 
first time during her recital, the lines in her face 
relaxed. 

" She gave me the note — I believe that is all. 
Of course, Winters' address told me where I would 
find Norris Endicott, and I located him this morn- 
ing. Is there anything else ? " 

There was no answer. 

" Nora," said Madelyn. turning to me. " Would 
you mind starting the phonograph? I think that 
Rubinstein's ' Melody in F ' would suit my mood 
perfectly. Thank you ! " 

Early in the following week the postponed wed- 
ding of Norris Endicott and Bertha Van Sutton 
was quietly performed, and the couple departed on 
a tour of Europe. The bride did not see the body 
of Reginald Winters. Months afterward, however, 
I learned that she had bought a secluded grave-lot 
for the man who had so nearly brought disaster to 
her life. 

In Madelyn Mack's relic case to-day, there are 
two objects of peculiar interest to me. One is a 
small, silver ball, perhaps three-quarters of an inch 
in diameter. The other is an apparently blank 
sheet of paper — except for a bold, dashing '* W '* 
in the upper right-hand corner. 



Ill 



CINDERELLA'S SLIPPER 



Raymond Rennick might have been going to 
his wedding instead of to his — death. 

Spick and span in a new spring suit, he paused 
just outside the broad, arched gates of the Duffield 
estate and drew his silver cigarette case from his 
pocket. A self-satisfied smile flashed across his face 
as he struck a match and inhaled the fragrant odor 
of the tobacco. It was good tobacco, very good 
tobacco — and Senator Duffield 's private secretary 
was something of a judge ! 

For a moment Rennick lingered. It was a day 
to banish uncomfortable thoughts, to smooth the 
rough edges of a man!s problems — and burdens. 
As the secretary glanced up at the soft blue sky, the 
reflection swept his mind that his own future was 
as free from clouds. It was a pleasing reflection. 
Perhaps the cigarette, perhaps the day helped to 
deepen it as he swung almost jauntily up the wind- 
ing driveway toward the square, white house com- 
manding the terraced lawn beyond. 

101 



102 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Just ahead of him a maple tree, standing alone, 
rustled gaily in its spring foliage like a woman call- 
ing attention to her new finery. It was all so fresh 
and beautiful and innocent ! Rennick felt a tingling 
thrill in his blood. Unconsciously he tossed away 
his cigarette. He reached the rustling maple and 
passed it. . . . 

From behind the gnarled trunk, a shadow darted. 
A figure sprang at his shoulders, with the long blade 
of a dagger awkwardly poised. There was a flash 
of steel in the sunlight. . . . 

It was perhaps ten minutes later that they found 
him. He had fallen face downward at the edge 
of the driveway, with his body half across the velvet 
green of the grass. A thin thread of red, creeping 
from the wound in his breast, was losing itself in 
the sod. 

One hand was doubled, as in a desperate effort 
at defense. His glasses were twisted imder his 
shoulders. Death must have been nearly instanta- 
neous. The dagger had reached his heart at the 
first thrust. One might have fancied an expression 
of overpowering amazement in the staring eyes. 
That was all. The weapon had caught him squarely 
on the left side. He had evidently whirled toward 
the assassin almost at the instant of the blow. 

Whether in the second left him of life he had 
recognized his assailant, and the recognition had 



Cinderella's Slipper 103 

made his death-blow the quicker and the surer, were 
questions that only deepened the horror of the 
noon-day crime. 

As though to emphasize the hour, the mahogany 
clock in Senator Duffield's library rang out its 
twelve monotonous chimes as John Dorrence, his 
valet, beat sharply on the door. The echo of the 
nervous tattoo was lost in an unanswering silence. 
Dorrence repeated his knock before he brought an 
impatient response from beyond the panels. 

"Can you come, sir?" the valet burst out. 
" Something awful has happened, sir. It's, it's — " 

The door was flung open. A ruddy-faced man 
with thick, white hair and grizzled moustache, and 
the hints of a nervous temperament showing in his 
eyes and voice, sprang into the hall. Somebody 
once remarked that Senator Duffield was Mark 
Twain's double. The Senator took the comparison 
as a compliment, perhaps because it was a woman 
who made it. 

Dorrence seized his master by the sleeve, which 
loss of dignity did more to impress the Senator with 
the gravity of the situation than all of the servant's 
excitable words. 

" Mr. Rennick, sir, has been stabbed, sir, on the 
lawn, and Miss Beth, sir — " 

Senator Duffield staggered against the wall. The 
valet's alarm swerved to another channel. 



104 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

*' Shall I get the brandy, sir? " 

"Brandy?" the Senator repeated vaguely. The 
next instant, as though grasping the situation anew, 
he sprang down the hall with the skirts of his frock 
coat flapping against his knees. At the door of the 
veranda, he whirled. 

" Get the doctor on the 'phone, Dorrence — 
Redfield, if Scott is out. Let hhn know it's a matter 
of minutes ! And, Dorrence — " 

"Yes, sir!" 

" Tell the telephone girl that, if this leaks to the 
newspapers, I will have the whole office dis- 
charged ! " 

A shifting group on the edge of the lawn, with 
that strange sense of awkwardness which sudden 
death brings, showed the scene of the tragedy. 

The circle fell back as the Senator's figure ap- 
peared. On the grass, Rennick's body still lay 
where it had fallen — suggesting a skater who has 
ignominiously collapsed on the ice rather than a 
man stabbed to the heart. The group had been 
wondering at the fact in whispered monosylla- 
bles. 

A kneeling girl was bending over the secretary's 
body. It was not until Senator Duffield had spoken 
her name twice that she glanced up. In her eyes 
was a grief so wild that for a moment he was held 
dumb. 



Cinderella^s Slipper 105 



" Come, Beth," he said, gently, " this is no place 
for you." 

At once the white-faced girl became the central 
figure of the situation. If she heard him, she gave 
no sign. The Senator caught her shoulder and 
pushed her slowly away. One of the woman- 
servants took her arm. Curiously enough, the two 
were the only members of the family that had been 
called to the scene. 

The Senator swung on the group, with a return 
of his aggressiveness. 

" Some one, who can talk fast and to the point, 
tell me the story. Burke, you have a ready tongue. 
How did it happen ? " 

The groom — a much-tanned young fellow in his 
early twenties — touched his cap. 

" I don't know, sir. No one knows. Mr. Ren- 
nick was lying here, stabbed, when we found him. 
He was already dead." 

" But surely there was some cry, some sound of 
a scuffle ? " 

The groom shook his head. " If there was, sir, 
none of us heard it. We all liked Mr. Rennick, sir. 
I would have gone through fire and water if he 
needed my help. If there had been an outcry loud 
enough to reach the stable, I would have been there 
on the jump ! " 

"Do you mean to tell me that Rennick could 



106 Miss Ma<lel]m Mack, Detective 

have been struck down in the midst of fifteen or 
twenty people with no one the wiser? It's ridicu- 
lous, impossible ! " 

Burke squared his shoulders, with an almost un- 
conscious suggestion of dignity. 

" I am telling you the truth, sir ! " 

The Senator's glance dropped to his secretary's 
body and he looked up with a shudder. Then, as 
though with an effort, his eyes returned to the hud- 
dled form, and he stood staring down at the dead 
man, with a frown knitting his brow. Once he 
jerked his head toward the gardener with the curt 
question, " Who found him ? " 

Jenkins shambled forward uneasily. " I did, 
sir. I hope you don't think I disturbed the 
body?" 

The Senator shrugged his shoulders impatiently. 
He did not raise his head again until the sound of 
a motor in the driveway broke the tension. The 
surgeon had arrived. Almost at the same moment 
there was a cry from Jenkins. 

The gardener stood perhaps a half a dozen yards 
from the body, staring at an object hidden in the 
grass at his feet. He stooped and raised it. It was 
a woman's slipper! 

As a turn of his head showed him the eyes of the 
group turned in his direction, he walked across to 
Senator Duffield, holding his find at arm's length. 



Cinderella's Slipper 107 

as though its dainty outlines might conceal an 
adder's nest. 

The slipper was of black suede, high-heeled and 
slender, tied with a broad, black ribbon. One end 
of the ribbon was broken and stained as though it 
had tripped its owner. On the thin sole were cakes 
of the peculiar red clay of the driveway. 

It might have been unconscious magnetism that 
caused the Senator suddenly to turn his eyes in the 
direction of his daughter. She was swaying on the 
arm of the servant. 

Throwing off the support of the woman, she took 
two quick steps forward, with her hand flung out 
as though to tear the slipper from him. And then, 
without a word, she fell prone on the grass. 

II 

The telephone in my room must have been jan- 
gling a full moment before I struggled out of my 
sleep and raised myself to my elbow. It was with 
a feeling of distinct rebellion that I slipped into my 
kimono and slippers and shuffled across to the sput- 
tering instrument in the comer. From eight in the 
morning until eight in the evening, I had been on 
racking duty in the Farragut poison trial, and the 
belated report of the wrangling jury, at an hour 
which made any sort of a meal impossible until 



108 Miss Madel]m Mack, Detective 

after ten, had left me worn out physically and men- 
tally. I glanced at my watch as I snapped the re- 
ceiver to my ear. It lacked barely fifteen minutes 
of midnight. An unearthly hour to call a woman 
out of bed, even if she is past the age of sentimental 
dreams ! 

"Well?" I growled. 

A laugh answered me at the other end of the wire. 
I would have flung the receiver back to the hook 
and myself back to bed had I not recognized the 
tones. There is only one person in the world, ex- 
cepting the tyrant at our city editor's desk, who 
would arouse me at midnight. But I had thought 
this person separated from me by twelve hundred 
miles of ocean. 

" Madel3m Mack ! " I gasped. 

The laughter ceased. " Madel3m Mack it is ! " 
came back the answer, now reduced to a tone of 
decorous gravity. " Pardon my merriment, Nora. 
The mental picture of your huddled form — " 

" But I thought you in Jamaica ! " I broke in, 
now thoroughly awake. 

"I was — until Saturday. Our steamer came 
out of quarantine at four o'clock this afternoon. 
As it develops, I reached here at the psychological 
moment." 

I kicked a rocker to my side and dropped into it 
with a rueful glance at the rumpled sheets of the 



(t 



Cinderella's Slipper 109 

bed. With Madelyn Mack at the telephone at mid- 
night, only one conclusion was possible; and such 
a conclusion shattered all thought of sleep. 

" Have you read the evening dispatches from 
Boston, Nora ? " 

" I have read nothing — except the report 
of the Farragut jury!*' I returned crisply. 
Why ? " 

If you had, you would perhaps divine the reason 
of my call. I have been retained in the Rennick 
murder case. I am taking the one-thirty sleeper 
for Boston. I secured our berths just before I 
telephoned." 

"Our berths!" 

" I am taking you with me. Now that you are 
up, you may as well dress and ring for a taxicab. 
I will meet you at the Roanoke hotel." 

But," I protested, " don't you think — " 
Very well, if you don't care to go ! That set- 
tles it!" 

" Oh, I will be there ! " I said with an air of 
resignation. " Ten minutes to dress, and fifteen 
minutes for the taxi ! " 

" I will add five minutes for incidentals," Made- 
lyn replied and hung up the receiver. 

The elevator boy at " The Occident," where I had 
my modest apartment, had become accustomed to 
the strange hours and strange visitors of a news- 






110 MiM Madelyn Mack, Detective 

paper woman during my three years* residence. He 
opened the door with a grin of sympathy as the car 
reached my floor. As though to give more active 
expression to his feelings he caught up my bag and 
gave it a place of honor on his own stool. 

'^ Going far ? " he queried as I alighted at the 
main corridor. 

" I may be back in twenty-four hours and I may 
not be back for twenty-four days," I answered cau- 
tiously — I knew Madelyn Mack! 

As I waited for the whir of the taxicab, I appro- 
priated the evening paper on the night clerk's desk. 
The Rennick murder case had been given a three- 
column head on the front page. If I had not been 
so absorbed in the Farragut trial, it could not have 
escaped me. I had not finished the head-lines, how- 
ever, when the taxi, with a promptness almost un- 
canny, rumbled up to the curb. 

I threw myself back against the cushions, 
switched on the electric light, and spread my paper 
over my knee, as the chauffeur turned off toward 
Fifth Avenue. The story was well written and had 
made much of a few facts. Trust my newspaper 
instinct to know that! I had expected a fantastic 
puzzle — when it could spur Madelyn into action 
within six hours after her landing — but I was 
hardly anticipating a problem such as I could read 
between rather than in the lines of type before ma 



Cinderella's Slipper 111 

Long before the ** Roanoke " loomed into view, I 
had forgotten my lost sleep. 

The identity of Raymond Rennick's assassin was 
as baffling as in the first moments of the discovery 
of the tragedy. There had been no arrests — nor 
hint of any. From the moment when the secretary 
had turned into the gate of the Duflield yard until 
the finding of his body, all trace of his movements 
had been lost as effectually as though the darkness 
of midnight had enveloped him, instead of the sun- 
light of noon. More than ten minutes could not 
have elapsed between his entrance into the grounds 
and the discovery of his murder — perhaps not more 
than five — but they had been sufficient for the 
assassin to effect a complete escape. 

There was not even the shadow of a motive. 
Raymond Rennick was one of those few men who 
seemed to be without an enemy. In an official ca- 
pacity, his conduct was without a blemish. In a 
social capacity, he was admittedly one of the most 
popular men in Brooklinc — among both sexes. 
Rumor had it, apparently on unquestioned authority, 
that the announcement of his engagement to Beth 
Duffield was to have been an event of the early 
summer. This fact was in my mind as I stared 
out into the darkness. 

On a sudden impulse, I opened the paper again. 
From an inside page the latest photograph of the 



112 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Senator's daughter, taken at a fashionable Boston 
studio, smiled up at me. It was an excellent like- 
ness as I remembered her at the inaugural ball the 
year before — a wisp of a girl, with a mass of black 
hair, which served to emphasize her frailness. I 
studied the picture with a frown. There was a sense 
of familiarity in its outlines, which certainly our 
casual meeting could not explain. Then, abruptly, 
my thoughts flashed back to the crowded courtroom 
of the afternoon — and I remembered. 

In the prisoner's dock I saw again the figure of 
Beatrice Farragut, slender, fragile, her white face, 
her somber gown, her eyes fixed like those of a 
frightened lamb on the jury which was to give her 
life — or death. 

" She poison her husband ? " had buzzed the 
whispered comments at my shoulders during the 
weary weeks of the trial. " She couldn't harm a 
butterfly! " Like a mocking echo, the tones of the 
foreman had sounded the answering verdict of 
murder — in the first degree. And in New York 
this meant — 

Why had Beatrice Farragut suggested Beth Duf- 
field? Or was it Beth Duffield who had suggested 
— I crumpled the paper into a heap and tossed it 
from the window in disgust at my morbid imagina- 
tion. B-u-r-r-h! And yet they say that a New 
York newspaper woman has no nerves ! 



Cinderella's Slipper 113 

A voice hailed us from the darkness and a white- 
gowned figure sprang out on to the walk. As the 
chauffeur brought the machine to a halt, Madelyn 
Mack caught my hands. 

Her next two actions were thoroughly character- 
istic. 

Whirling to the driver, she demanded shortly, 
" How soon can you make the Grand Central Sta- 
tion ? " 

The man hesitated. " Can you give me twenty 
minutes ? " 

" Just ! We will leave here at one sharp. You 
will wait, please ! " 

Having thus disposed of the chauffeur — Made- 
lyn never gave a thought to the matter of expense ! 
— she seized my arm and pushed me through the 
entrance of the " Roanoke '* as nonchalantly as 
though we had parted six hours before instead of 
six weeks. 

I hope you enjoyed Jamaica? " I ventured. 
Did you read the evening papers on the way 
over ? " she returned as easily as though I had not 
spoken. 

" One," I answered shortly. Madelyn's habit of 
ignoring my queries grated most uncomfortably at 
times. 

" Then you know what has been published con- 
cerning the case ? " 






114 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

I ncxlded. ** I imagine that you can add consid- 
erable." 

" As a matter of fact, I know less than the re- 
porters ! " Madelyn threw open the door of her 
room. " You have interviewed Senator Duffield on 
several occasions, have you not, Nora ? " 

" You might say on several delicate occasions if 
you cared to ! " 

" You can tell me then whether the Senator is 
in the habit of polishing his glasses when he is in 
a nervous mood ? " 

A rather superior smile flashed over my face. 

" I assure you that Senator Duffield never wears 
glasses on any occasion ! " 

Something like a chuckle came from Madelyn. 

" Perhaps you can do as well on another question. 
You will observe in these newspapers four different 
photographs of the murdered secretary. Naturally, 
they bear many points of similarity — they were all 
taken in the last three years — but they contain one 
feature in common which puzzles me. Does it im- 
press you in the same way ? " 

I glanced at the group of photographs doubtfully. 
Three of them were obviously newspaper " snap- 
shots," taken of the secretary while in the company 
of Senator Duffield. The fourth was a reproduc- 
tion of a conventional cabinet photograph. They 
showed a clean shaven, well built young man of 



Cinderella's Slipper 115 



thirty or thereabouts ; tall, and I should say inclined 
to athletics. I turned from the newspapers to Made- 
lyn with a shrug. 

" I am afraid I don't quite follow you," I ad- 
mitted ruefully. " There is nothing at all out of 
the ordinary in any of them that I can catch." 

Madelyn carefully clipped the pictures and placed 
them under the front cover of her black morocco 
note-book. As she did so, a clock chimed the hour 
of one. We both pushed back our chairs. 

As we stepped into the taxicab, Madelyn tapped 
my arm. " I wonder if Raymond Rennick polished 
his glasses when he was nervous?" she asked 
musingly. 



Ill 



Boston, from the viewpoint of the South Sta- 
tion at half-past seven in the morning, suggests to 
me a rheumatic individual climbing stiffly out of 
bed. Boston distinctly resents anything happening 
before noon. Til wager that nearly every import- 
ant event that she has contributed to history oc- 
curred after lunch-time! 

If Madelyn Mack had expected to have to find 
her way to the Duffield home without a guide, she 
was pleasantly disappointed. No less a person than 
the Senator, himself, was awaiting us at the train- 



116 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

gate — a somewhat dishevelled Senator, it must be 
confessed, with the stubble of a day-old beard 
showing eloquently how his peace of mind and the 
routine of his habits had been shattered. As he 
shook hands with us, he made an obvious attempt 
to recover something of his ease of manner. 

"I trust that you had a pleasant night's rest," 
he ventured, as he led the way across the station 
to his automobile. 

" Much pleasanter than you had, I fear," replied 
Madelyn. 

The Senator sighed. "As a matter of fact, I 
found sleep hopeless; I spent most of the night 
with my cigar. The suggestion of meeting your 
train came as a really welcome relief." 

As we stepped into the waiting motor, a leather- 
lunged newsboy thrust a bundle of heavy-t)rped 
papers into our faces. The Senator whirled with 
a curt dismissal on his tongue when Madelyn thrust 
a coin toward the lad and swept a handful of flap- 
ping papers into her lap. 

" There is absolutely nothing new in the case, 
Miss Mack, I assure you," the Senator said im- 
patiently. " The reporters have pestered me like 
so many leeches. The sight of a head-line makes 
me shiver." 

Madelyn bent over her papers without comment. 
As I settled into the seat by her side, however, and 



Cinderella's Slipper 117 

the machine whirled around the corner, I saw that 
she was not even making a pretence of reading. 
I watched her with a frown as she turned the pages. 
There was no question of her interest, but it was 
not the type that held her attention. I doubted if 
she was perusing a line of the closely-set columns. 
It was not until she reached the last paper that I 
solved the mystery. It was the illustrations that 
she was studying! 

When she finished the heap of papers, she began 
slowly and even more thoughtfully to go through 
them again. Now I saw that she was pondering 
the various photographs of Senator Duffield's fam- 
ily that the newspapers had published. I turned 
away from her bent form and tapping finger, but 
there was a magnetism in her abstraction that 
forced my eyes back to her in spite of myself. As 
my gaze returned to her, she thrust her gloved hand 
into the recesses of her bag and drew out her black 
morocco notebook. From its pages she selected the 
four newspaper pictures of the murdered secretary 
that she had offered me the night before. With a 
twinkle of satisfaction, she grouped them about a 
large, black-bordered picture which stared up at 
her from the printed page in her lap. 

Our ride to the Duffield gate was not a long one. 
In fact I was so absorbed by my furtive study of 
Madelyn Mack that I was startled when the chauf- 



118 MUs Madeljm Mack, Detective 

» 

feur slackened his fepeed, and I realized from a 
straightening of the Senator's bent shoulders that 
we -were nearing our destination. 

At the edge of the driveway, a quietly dressed 
man in a grey suit, who was strolling carelessly 
back and forth from the gate to the house, eyed us 
curiously as we passed, and touched his hat to the 
Senator. I knew at once he was a detective. 
(Trust a newspaper woman to " spot " a plain 
clothes man, even if he has left his police uniform 
at home!) Madelyn did not look up and the Sen- 
ator made no comment. 

As we stepped from the machine, a tall girl with 
severe, almost classical features and a profusion of 
nut-brown hair which fell away from her forehead- 
without even the suggestion of a ripple, was await- 
ing us. 

" My daughter, Maria," Senator Duffield an- 
nounced formally. 

Madelyn stepped forward with extended hand. 
It was evident that Miss Duffield had intended only 
a brief nod. For an instant she hesitated, with a 
barely perceptible flush. Then her fingers dropped 
limply into Madelyn Mack's palm. (I chuckled in- 
wardly at the ill grace with which she did it!) 

" This must be a most trying occasion for you," 
Madelyn said with a note of sympathy in her voice, 
which made me stare. Effusiveness of any kind 



Cinderella's Slipper 119 

was so foreign to her nature that I frowned as we 
followed our host into the wide front drawing room. 
As we entered by one door, a black-gowned, white- 
haired woman, evidently Mrs. Duffield, entered by 
the opposite door. 

In spite of the reserve of the society leader, whose 
sway might be said to extend to three cities, she 
darted an appealing glance at Madelyn Mack that 
melted much of the newspaper cynicism with which 
I was prepared to greet her. Madelyn crossed the 
room to her side and spoke a low sentence, that I 
did not catch, as she took her hand. I found my- 
self again wondering at her unwonted friendliness. 
She was obviously exerting herself to gain the good 
will of the Duffield household. Why? 

A trim maid, who stared at us as though we were 
museum freaks, conducted us to our rooms — ad- 
joining apartments at the front of the third floor. 
The identity of Madelyn Mack had already been 
noised through the house and I caught a saucer- 
eyed glance from a second servant as we passed 
down the corridor. If the atmosphere of sup- 
pressed curiosity was embarrassing my companion, 
however, she gave no sign of the fact. Indeed, we 
had hardly time to remove our hats when the break- 
fast gong rang. 

The family was assembling in the old-fashioned 
dining-room when we entered. In addition to the 



120 MUs Madeljm Mack, Detective 

members of the domestic circle whom I have al- 
ready indicated, my attention was at once caught 
by two figures who entered just before us. One 
was a young woman whom it did not need a second 
glance to tell me was Beth Duffield. Her white face 
and swollen eyes were evidence enough of her over- 
wrought condition, and I caught myself speculating 
why she had left her room. 

Her companion was a tall, slender young fellow 
with just the faintest trace of a stoop in his shoul- 
ders. As he turned toward us, I saw a handsome, 
though self-indulgent face, to a close observer sug- 
gesting evidences of more dissipation than was good 
for its owner. And, if the newspaper stories of fhe 
doings of Fletcher Duffield were true, the facial in- 
dex was a true one. If I remembered rightly, 
Senator Duffield's son more than once had made 
prim old Boston town rub her spectacled eyes at the 
tales of his escapades! 

Fletcher Duffield bowed rather abstractedly as he 
was presented to us, but during the eggs and chops 
he brightened visibly, and put several curious ques- 
tions to Madelyn as to her methods of work, which 
enlivened what otherwise would have been a rather 
dull half hour. 

As the strokes of nine rang through the room, 
my companion pushed her chair back. 

" What time is the coroner's inquest. Senator?" 



Cinderella's Slipper 121 

Mr. Dufiield raised his eyebrows at the change in 
her attitude " It is scheduled for eleven o'clock." 

" And when do you expect Inspector Taylor of 
headquarters ? " 

" In the course of an hour, I should say, perhaps 
less. His man, Martin, has been here since yester- 
day afternoon — you probably saw him as we 
drove into the yard. I can telephone Mr. Taylor, 
if you wish to see him sooner." 

** That will hardly be necessary, thank you." 

Madelyn walked across to the window. For a 
moment she stood peering out on to the lawn. Then 
she stooped, and her hand fumbled with the catch. 
The window swung open with the noiselessness of 
well-oiled hinges, and she stepped out on to the 
veranda, without so much as a glance at the group 
about the table. 

I think the Senator and I rose from our chairs at 
the same instant. When we reached the window, 
Madelyn was half across the lawn. Perhaps twenty 
yards ahead of her, towered a huge maple, rustling 
in the early morning breeze. 

I realized that this was the spot where Raymond 
Rennick had met his death. 

In spite of his nervousness, Senator Duffield did 
not forget his old-fashioned courtliness, which I 
believe had become second nature to him. Stepping 
aside with a slight bow, he held the window open 



122 MUs Madeljm Mack, Detective 

for me, following at my shoulder. As we reached 
the lawn, I saw that the scene of the murder was in 
plain view from at least one of the principal rooms 
of the Duffield home. 

Madelyn was leaning against the maple when we 
reached her. Senator Duffield said gravely, as he 
pointed to the gnarled trunk, " You are standing 
just at the point where the woman waited. Miss 
Mack." 

"Woman?" 

" I refer to the assassin," the Senator rejoined a 
trifle impatiently. "Judging by our fragmentary 
clues, she must have been hidden behind the trunk 
when poor Rennick appeared on the driveway. We 
found her slipper somewhat to the left of the 
tree — a matter of eight or ten feet, I should 
say." 

" Oh ! " said Madelyn listlessly. I fancied that 
she was somewhat annoyed that we had followed 
her. 

" An odd clue, that slipper," the Senator con- 
tinued with an obvious attempt to maintain the 
conversation. ** If we were disposed to be fanciful, 
it might suggest the childhood legend of Cinder- 
ella." 

Madelyn did not answer. She stood leaning back 
against the tree -with her eyes wandering about the 
yard. Once I saw her gaze flash down the driveway 



Cinderella's Slipper 123 

to the open gate, where the detective, Martin, stood 
watching us furtively. 

" Nora," she said, without turning, " will you 
kindly walk six steps to your right ? " 

I knew better than to ask the reason for the re- 
quest. With a shrug, I faced toward the house, 
and came to a pause at the end of the stipulated 
distance. 

" Is Miss Noraker standing where Mr. Rennick's 
body was found, Senator ? " 

" She will strike the exact spot, I think, if she 
takes two steps more." 

I had hardly obeyed the suggestion when I caught 
the swift rustle of skirts behind me. I whirled to 
see Madelyn's lithe form darting toward me with 
her right hand raised as though it held a weapon. 

" Good ! " she cried. " I call you to witness, Sen- 
ator, that I was fully six feet away when she 
turned! Now I want you to take Miss Noraker's 
place. The instant you hear me behind you — the 
instant, mind you — I want you to let me know." 

She walked back to the tree as the Senator reluc- 
tantly changed places with me. I could almost pic- 
ture the murderess dashing upon her victim as 
Madelyn bent forward. The Senator turned his 
back to us with a rather ludicrous air of bewilder- 
ment. 

My erratic friend had covered perhaps half of the 



124 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

distance between her and our host when he spun 
about with a cry of discovery. She paused with 
a long breath. 

" Thank you, Senator. What first attracted your 
attention to me ? " 

" The rustle of your dress, of course ! " 
Madelyn turned to me with the first smile of sat- 
isfaction I had seen since we entered the Duffield 
gate. 
" Was the same true in your case, Nora ? " 
I nodded. " The fact that you are a woman 
hopelessly betrayed you. If you had not been ham- 
pered by petticoats — " 

Madelyn broke in upon my sentence with that 
peculiar freedom which she always reserves tc her- 
self. " There are two things I would like to ask 
of you, Senator, if I may." 

"I am at your disposal, I assure you." 
" I would like to borrow a Boston directory, and 
the services of a messenger." 

We walked slowly up the driveway, Madelyn 
again relapsing into her preoccupied silence and 
Senator Duffield making no effort to induce her to 
speak. 

IV 

We had nearly reached the veranda when there 
. was the sound of a motor at the gate, and a red 





r'^r'^^IH 


H^^Ki..-'..^ 










?K 



*• A /; t 



V 



"^ 



Cinderella's Slipper 125 

touring car swept into the yard. An elderly, clean- 
shaven man, in a long frock coat and a broad- 
brimmed felt hat, was sharing the front seat with 
the chauflfeur. He sprang to the ground with ex- 
tended hand as our host stepped forward to greet 
him. The two exchanged half a dozen low sen- 
tences at the side of the machine, and then Senator 
Duffield raised his voice as they approached us. 

" Miss Mack, allow me to introduce my colleague. 
Senator Burroughs." 

" I have heard of you, of course. Miss Mack," the 
Senator said genially, raising his broad-brimmed 
hat with a flourish. " I am very glad, indeed, that 
you are able to give us the benefit of your experi- 
ence in this, er — unfortunate affair. I presume 
that it is too early to ask if you have developed 
a theory?" 

" I wonder if you would allow me to reverse the 
question ? " Madelyn responded as she took his 
hand. 

" I fear that my detective ability would hardly 
be of much service to you, eh, Duffield ? " 

Our host smiled faintly as he turned to repeat 
to a servant Madelyn's request for a directory and 
a messenger. Senator Burroughs folded his arms 
as his chauffeur circled on toward the garage. 
There was an odd suggestion of nervousness in the 
whole group. Or was it fancy? 



126 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" Have you ever given particular study to the 
legal angle in your cases, Miss Mack ? " The ques- 
tion came from Senator Burroughs as we ascended 
the steps. 

"The legal angle? I am afraid I don't grasp 
your meaning." 

The Senator's hand moved mechanically toward 
his cigar case. " I am a lawyer, and perhaps I 
argue unduly from a lawyer's viewpoint. We 
always work from the question of motive, Miss 
Mack. A professional detective, I believe, — or at 
least, the average professional detective, — tries to 
find the criminal first and establish his motive after- 
ward." 

" Now, in a case such as this, Senator — " 

" In a case such as this. Miss Mack, the trained 
legal mind would delve first for the motive in Mr. 
Rennick*s assassination." 

" And your legal mind. Senator, I presume, has 
delved for the motive. Has it found it? " 

The Senator turned his unlighted cigar reflec- 
tively between his lips. " I have not found it ! 
Eliminating the field of sordid passion and insan- 
ity, I divide the motives of the murderer under 
three heads — robbery, jealousy, and revenge. In 
the present case, I eliminate the first possibility at 
the outset. There remain then only the two latter." 

"You are interesting. You forget, however, a 



Cinderella's Slipper 127 

fourth motive, — the strongest spur to crime in the 
(human mindl" 

Senator Burroughs took his cigar from his 
mouth. 

" I mean the motive of — fear ! " Madelyn said 
abruptly, as she swept into the house. When I 
followed her. Senator Burroughs had walked over 
to the railing and stood staring down at the ground 
below. He had tossed his cigar away. 

In the room where we had breakfasted, one of 
the stable boys stood awkwardly awaiting Madelyn 
Mack's orders, while John Dorrence, the valet, was 
just laying a city directory on the table. 

" Nora," she said, as she turned to the boy, " will 
you kindly look up the list of packing houses ? " 

" Pick out the largest and give me the address," 
she continued, as I ran my finger through the 
closely typed pages. With a growing curiosity, I 
selected a firm whose prestige was advertised in 
heavy letters. Madelyn's fountain pen scratched 
a dozen lines across a sheet of her note-book, and 
she thrust it into an envelope and extended it to 
the stable lad. 

As the youth backed from the room. Senator 
Duffield appeared at the window. 

" I presume it will be possible for me to see Mr. 
Rennick's body, Senator ? " Madelyn Mack asked. 

Our host bowed. 



128 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" Also, I would like to look at his clothes — the 
suit he was wearing at the time of his death, I 
mean — and, when I am through, I want twenty 
or thirty minutes alone in his room. If Mr. Tay- 
lor should arrive before I am through, will you 
kindly let me know ? " 

" I can assure you, Miss Mack, that the police 
have been through Mr. Rennick's apartment with 
a microscope." 

" Then there can be no objection to my going 
through it with mine! By the way, Mr. Rennick's 
glasses — the pair that was found under his body 
— were packed with his clothes, were they not ? " 

" Certainly," the Senator responded. 

I did not accompany Madelyn into the darkened 
room where the corpse of the murdered man was 
reposing. To my surprise, she rejoined me in less 
than five minutes. 

" What did you find? " I queried as we ascended 
the stairs. 

A five-inch cut just above the sixth rib. 
That is what the newspapers said." 
You are mistaken. They said a three-inch cut. 
Have you ever tried to plunge a dagger through 
five inches of human flesh?" 

" Certainly not." 

" I have." 

Accustomed as I w«as to Madelyn Mack's eccen- 



it 



Cinderella's Slipper 129 

tricities, I stood stock still and stared into her 
face. 

" Oh, I'm not a murderess ! I refer to my dis- 
secting room experiences." 

We had reached the upper hall when there was 
a quick movement at my shoulder, and I saw my 
companion's hand dart behind my waist. Before 
I could quite grasp the situation, she had caught 
my right arm in a grip of steel. For an instant I 
thought she was trying to force me back down the 
stairs. Then the force of her hold wrung a low 
cry of pain from my lips. She released me with a 
rueful apology. 

" Forgive me, Nora ! For a woman, I pride my- 
self that I have a strong wrist!" 
Yes, I think you have ! " 
Perhaps now you can appreciate what I mean 
when I say that even I haven't strength enough to 
inflict the wound that killed Raymond Rennick ! " 

" Then we must be dealing with an Amazon." 

" Would Cinderella's missing slipper fit an 
Amazon ? " she answered drily. 

As she finished her sentence, we paused before 
a closed door which I rightly surmised led into the 
room of the murdered secretary. Madelyn's hand 
was on the knob when there was a step behind us, 
and Senator Duffield joined us with a rough bundle 
in his hands. 






130 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" Mr. Rennick's clothes," he explained. Made- 
lyn ncxlded. 

" Inspector Taylor left them in my care to hold 
until the inquest." 

Madelyn flung the door open without comment 
and led the way inside. Slipping the string from 
the bundle, she emptied the contents out on to the 
counterpane of the bed. They comprised the usual 
warm weather outfit of a well-dressed man, who 
evidently avoided the extremes of fashion, and she 
deftly sorted the articles into small, neat piles. 
She glanced up with an expression of impatience. 

" I thought you said they were here, Mr. Duf- 
field ! " 

*'What?" 

" Mr. Rennick's glasses ! Where are they ? *' 

Senator Duffield fumbled in his pocket. " I beg 
your pardon, Miss Mack. I had overlooked them," 
he apologized, as he produced a thin paper parcel. 

Madelyn carried it to the window and carefully 
unwrapped it. 

" You will find the spectacles rather badly dam- 
aged, I fear. One lens is completely ruined." 

Madel)m placed the broken glasses on the sill, 
and raised the blind to its full height. Then she 
dropped to her knees and whipped out her micro- 
scope. When she arose, her small, black-clad 
figure was tense with suppressed excitement. 



Cinderella's Slipper 131 

A fat oak chiffonier stood in the corner nearest 
her. Crossing to its side, she rummaged among 
the articles that littered its surface, opened and 
closed the top drawer, and stepped back with an 
expression of annoyance. A writing table was the 
next point of her search, with results which I 
judged to be equally fruitless. She glanced uncer- 
tainly from the bed to the three chairs, the only 
other articles of furniture that the room contained. 
Then her eyes lighted again as they rested on the 
broad, carved mantel that spanned the empty fire- 
place. 

It held the usual collection of bric-a-brac of a 
bachelor's room. At the end farthest from us, 
however, there was a narrow, red case, of which 
I caught only an indistinct view when Madelyn's 
hand closed over it. 

She whirled toward us. " I must ask you to 
leave me alone now, please ! '* 

The Senator flushed at the peremptory com- 
mand. I stepped into the hall and he followed me, 
•with a shrug. He was closing the door when 
Madelyn raised her voice. "If Inspector Taylor 
is below, kindly send him up at once ! " 

And what about the inquest. Miss Mack?" 
There will be no inquest — to-day ! " 

Senator Duffield led the way down stairs with- 
out a word. In the hall below, a ruddy-faced man. 



it 

t€ 



132 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

with grey hair, a thin grey beard and moustache, 
and a grey suit — suggesting any army officer in 
civilian clothes — was awaiting us. I could read- 
ily imagine that Inspector Taylor was something of 
a disciplinarian in the Boston police department. 
Also, relying on Madelyn Mack's estimate, he was 
one of the three shrewdest detectives on the Amer- 
ican continent. 

Senator Duffield hurried toward him with a sug- 
gestion of relief. " Miss Mack is up-stairs, Inspec- 
tor, and requested me to send you to her the 
moment you arrived." 

"Is she in Mr. Rennick's room?" 

The Senator nodded. The Inspector hesitated 
as though about to ask another qMestion and then, 
as though thinking better of it, bowed and turned 
to the stairs. 

Inspector Taylor was one of those few police- 
men who had the honor of being numbered among 
Madelyn Mack's personal friends, and I fancied 
that he welcomed the news of her arrival. 

Fletcher Duffield was chatting somewhat aim- 
lessly with Senator Burroughs as we sauntered out 
into the yard again. None of the ladies of the 
family were visible. The plain clothes man was 
still lounging disconsolately in the vicinity of the 
gate. There was a sense of unrest in the scene, 
a vague expectancy. Although no one voiced the 



Cinderella's Slipper 133 

suggestion, we might all have been waiting to 
catch the first clap of distant thunder. 

As Senator Duffield joined the men, I wandered 
across to the dining-room window. I fancied the 
room was deserted, but I was mistaken. As I 
faced about toward the driveway, a low voice 
caught my ear from behind the curtains. 

" You are Miss Mack's friend, are you not ? No, 
don't turn around, please ! " 

But I had already faced toward the open door. 
At my elbow was a white-capped maid — with her 
face almost as white as her cap — whom I remem- 
bered to have seen at breakfast. 

" Yes, I am Miss Mack's friend. What can I 
do for you? " 

" I have a message for her. Will you see that 
she gets it ? " 

" Certainly." 

" Tell her that I was at the door of Senator Duf- 
field's library the night before the murder." 

My face must have expressed my bewilderment. 
For an instant I fancied the girl was about to run 
from the room. I stepped through the window 
and put my arm about her shoulders. She smiled 
faintly. 

" I don't know much about the law, and evi- 
dence, and that sort of thing — and I am afraid! 
You will take care of me, won't you?" 



134 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

"Of course, I will, Anna. Your name is Anna, 
isn't it?" 

The girl was rapidly recovering her self posses- 
sion. " I thought you ought to know what hap- 
pened Tuesday night. I was passing the door of 
the library — it was fairly late, about ten o'clock, 
I think — when I heard a man's voice inside the 
room. It was a loud, angry voice like that of a 
person in a quarrel. Then I heard a second voice, 
lower and much calmer." 

" Did you recognize the speakers ? " 

"They were Mr. Rennick and Senator Duf- 
field ! " 

I caught my breath. "You said one of them 
was angry. Which was it ? " 

" Oh, it was the Senator ! He was very much 
excited and worked up. Mr. Rennick seemed to 
be speaking very low." 

"What were they saying, Anna?" I tried to 
make my tones careless and indifferent, but they 
trembled in spite of myself. 

" I couldn't catch what Mr. Rennick said. The 
Senator was saying some dreadful things. I re- 
member he cried, * You swindlers ! ' And then a 
bit later * I have evidence that should put you and 
your thieving crew behind the bars ! ' I think that 
is all. I was too bewildered to — " 

A stir on the lawn interrupted the sentence. 



Cinderella's Slipper 135 

Madelyn Mack and Inspector Taylor had appeared. 
At the sound of their voices, the girl broke from 
my arm and darted toward the door. 

Through the window, I heard the Inspector^ 
heavy tones, as he announced curtly, " I am tele- 
phoning the coroner. Senator, that we are not ready 
for the inquest to-day. We must postpone it until 
to-morrow." 



The balance of the day passed without incident. 
In fact, I found the subdued quiet of the Diiffield 
home becoming irksome as evening fell. I saw 
little of Madelyn Mack. She disappeared shortly 
after luncheon behind the door of her room, and 
I did not see her again until the dressing bell rang 
for dinner. Senator Duffield left for the city with 
Mr. Burroughs at noon, and his car did not bring 
him back until dark. The women of the family 
remained in their apartments during the entire day, 
nor could I wonder at the fact. A morbid crowd 
of curious sight-seers was massed about the gates 
almost constantly, and it was necessary to send a 
call for two additional policemen to keep them 
back. In spite of the vigilance, frequent groups of 
newspaper men managed to slip into the grounds, 
and, after half a dozen experiences in frantically 



136 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

dodging a battery of cameras, I decided to stick to 
the shelter of the house. 

It was with a feeling of distinct relief that I 
heard the door of Madelyn's room open and her 
voice calling to me to enter. I found her stretched 
on a lounge before the window, with a mass of 
pillows under her head. 

" Been asleep ? " I asked. 

" No — to tell the truth, Fve been too busy." 

"What? In this room!" 

"This is the first time I've been here since 
noon ! " 

" Then where — " 

" Nora, don't ask questions ! " 

I turned away with a shrug that brought a laugh 
from the lounge. Madelyn rose and shook out her 
skirts. I sat watching her as she walked across to 
the mirror and stood patting the great golden 
masses of her hair. 

A low tap on the door interrupted her. Dor- 
rence, the valet, stood outside as she opened it, 
extending an envelope. Madelyn fumbled it as she 
walked back. She let the envelope flutter to the 
floor and I saw that it contained only a blank sheet 
of paper. She thrust it into her pocket without 
explanation. 

** How would you like a long motor ride, 
Nora?" 



Cinderella's Slipper 137 

" For business or pleasure? " 

" Pleasure ! The day's work is finished ! I 
don't know whether you agree with me or not, but 
I am strongly of the opinion that a whirl out under 
the elms of Cambridge, and then on to Concord 
and Lexington would be delightful in the moon- 
light. What do you say ? " 

The clock was hovering on the verge of midnight 
and the household had retired when we returned. 
Madelyn was in singularly cheery spirits. The low 
refrain which she was humming as the car swung 
into the grounds — " Schubert's Serenade," I think 
it was — ceased only when we stepped on to the 
veranda, and realized that we were entering the 
house of the dead. 

I turned oflF my lights in silence, and glanced un- 
decidedly from the bed to the rocker by the win- 
dow. The cool night breeze beckoned me to the 
latter, and I drew the chair back a pace and cud- 
dled down among the cushions. The lawn was 
almost ailver under the flood of the moonlight, 
recalling vaguely the sweep of the ocean on a mid- 
summer night. Back and forth along the edge of 
the gate the figure of a man was pacing like a tired 
sentinel. It was the plain-clothes officer from head- 
quarters. His figure suggested a state of siege. 
We might have been surrounded by a skulking 
enemy. Or was the enemy within, and the sentinel 



138 MUs Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

stationed to prevent his escape ? I stumbled across 
to the bed and to sleep, with the question echoing 
oddly through my brain. 

When I opened my eyes, the sun was throwing 
a yellow shaft of light across my bed, but it wasn't 
the sun that had awakened me. Madelyn was 
standing in the doorway, dressed, with an expres- 
sion on her face which brought me to my elbow. 

" What has happened now ? " 

" Burglars ! " 

" Burglars ? " I repeated dully. 

" I am going down to the library. Some one is 
making news for us fast, Nora! When will it be 
our turn ? " 

I dressed in record-breaking time, with my curi- 
osity whetted by sounds of suppressed excitement 
which forced their way into the upper hall. The 
Duffield home not only was early astir, but was 
rudely jarred out of its customary routine. 

When I descended, I found a nervous group of 
servants clustered about the door of the library. 
They stood aside to let me pass, with attitudes of 
uneasiness which I surmised would mean a whole- 
sale series of " notices " if the strange events in 
the usually well regulated household continued. 

Behind the closed door of the library were Sen- 
ator Duffield, his son, Fletcher, and Madelyn Mack. 
It was easy to appreciate at a glance the unusual 



Cinderella's Slipper 139 

condition of the room. At the right, one of the 
long windows, partly raised, showed the small, 
round hole of a diamond cutter just over the latch. 
It was obvious where the clandestine entrance and 
exit had been obtained. The most noticeable 
feature of the apartment, however, was a small, 
square safe in the comer, with its heavy lid swing- 
ing awkwardly ajar, and the rug below littered 
with a heap of papers, that had evidently been torn 
from Its neatly tabulated series of drawers. The 
burglarious hands either had been very angry or 
very much in a hurry. Even a number of unsealed 
envelopes had been ripped across, as though the 
pillager had been too impatient to extract their 
contents in the ordinary manner. To a man of 
Senator Duffield's methodical habits, it was easy 
to imagine that the scene had been a severe wrench. 
Madelyn was speaking in her quick, incisive 
tones as I entered. 

" Are you quite sure of that fact, Senator ? " she 
asked sharply, as I closed the door and joined the 
trio. 

" Quite sure. Miss Mack I " 
"Then nothing is missing, absolutely nothing?" 
" Not a single article, valuable or otherwise ! " 
*' I presume then there were articles of more or 
less value in the safe? " 

There was perhaps four hundred dollars in 



«i 



140 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

loose bills in my private cash drawer, and, so far 
as I know, there is not a dollar gone." 

" How about your papers and memoranda ? *' 

The Senator shook his head. 

"There was nothing of the slightest use to a 
stranger. As a matter of fact, just two days ago, 
I took pains to destroy the only portfolio of valu- 
able documents in the safe." 

Madelyn stooped thoughtfully over the litter of 
papers on the rug. "You mean three evenings 
ago, don't you ? " 

" How on earth. Miss Mack — " 

"You refer to the memoranda that you and 
Mr. Rennick were working on the night before 
his death, do you not?" 

" Of course ! " And then I saw Senator Duf- 
field was staring at his curt questioner as though 
he had said something he hadn't meant to. 

" I think you told me once before that the com- 
bination of your safe was known only to yourself 
and Mr. Rennick?" 

"You are correct" 

" Then, to your knowledge, you are the only liv- 
ing person who possesses this information at the 
present time ? " 

" That is the case. It was a rather intricate com- 
bination, and we changed it hardly a month ago." 

Madelyn rose from the safe, glanced reflectively 



Cinderella's Slipper 141 



at a huge leather chair, and sank into its depths with 
a sigh. 

" You say nothing has been stolen, Senator, that 
the burglar's visit yielded him nothing. For your 
peace of mind, I would like to agree with you, but 
I am sorry to inform you that you are mistaken." 

" Surely, Miss Mack, you are hasty ! I am con- 
fident that I have searched my possessions with the 
utmost care." 

" Nevertheless, you have been robbed ! " 

Senator Duffield glanced down at her small, lithe 
figure impatiently. " Then, perhaps, you will be 
good enough to tell me of what my loss consists? " 

" I refer to the article for which your secretary 
was murdered ! It was stolen from this room last 
night." 

Had the pomt of a dagger pressed against Sena- 
tor Duffield's shoulders, he could not have bounded 
forward in greater consternation. His composure 
was shattered like a pane of glass crumbling. 

He sprang toward the safe with a cry like a man 
in sudden fear or agony. Jerking back its door, he 
plunged his hand into its lower left compartment. 
When he straightened, he held a long, wax phono- 
graph record. 

His dismay had vanished in a quick blending of 
relief and anger, as his eyes swept from the cylinder 
to the grave figure of Madelyn Mack. 



142 MUs Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

" I fail to appreciate your joke, Miss Mack — 
if you call it a joke to frighten a man without cause 
as you have me ! " 

" Have you examined the record in your hand, 
Senator ? " 

Fletcher Duffield and I stared at the two. There 
was a suggestion of tragedy in the scene as the 
impatience and irritation gradually faded from the 
Senator's face. 

" It is a substitute ! " he groaned. " A substi- 
tute ! I have been tricked, victimized, robbed ! " 

He stood staring at the wax record as though 
it were a heated iron burning into his flesh. Sud- 
denly it slipped from his fingers and was shattered 
on the floor. 

But he did not appear to notice the fact as he 
burst out, " Do you realize that you are standing 
here inactive while the thief is escaping? I don't 
know how your wit surprised my secret, and don't 
care now, but you are throwing away your chances 
of stopping the burglar while he may be putting 
miles between himself and us! Are you made of 
ice, woman? Can't you appreciate what this 
means ? In the name of heaven. Miss Mack — " 

" The thief will not escape, Mr. Duffield ! " 

"It seems to me that he has already es- 
caped." 

" Let me assure you. Senator, that your missing 



Cinderella's Slipper 143 

property is as secure as though it were locked in 
your safe at this moment ! *' 

" But do you realize that, once a hint of its 
nature is known, it will be almost worthless to 



mer 

it 



?" 



Better perhaps than you do, — so well that I 
pledge myself to return it to your hands within the 
next half hour ! " 

Senator Duffield took three steps forward until 
he stood so close to Madelyn that he could have 
reached over and touched her on the shoulder. 

*' I am an old man. Miss Mack, and the last two 
days have brought me almost to a collapse. If I 
have appeared unduly sharp, I tender you my 
apologies — but do not give me false hopes ! Tell 
me frankly that you cannot encourage me. It will 
be a kindness. You will realize that I cannot blame 
you." 

Senator Duffield's imperious attitude was so 
broken that I could hardly believe it possible that 
the same man who ruled a great political party, 
almost by the swaying of his finger, was speaking. 
Madelyn caught his hand with a grasp of assurance. 

" I will promise even more." She snapped open 
her watch. " If you will return to this room at 
nine o'clock, not only will I restore your stolen 
property — but I will deliver the murderer of Ray- 
mond Rennick I " 



144 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

" Rennick's murderer?'' the Senator gasped. 

Madelyn bowed. " In this room at nine o'clock." 

I think I was the first to move toward the doon 
Fletcher Duffield hesitated a moment, staring at 
Madelyn; then he turned and hurried past me 
down the hall. 

His father followed more slowly. As he closed 
the door, I saw Madelyn standing where we had 
left her, leaning back against her chair, and staring 
at a woman's black slipper. It was the one which 
had been found by Raymond Rennick's dead 
body. 

I made my way mechanically toward the dining- 
room, and was surprised to find that the members 
of the Duffield family were already at the table. 
With the exception of Madelyn, it was the same 
breakfast group as the morning before. In an- 
other house, this attempt to maintain the conven- 
tions in the face of tragedy might have seemed 
incongruous; but it was so thoroughly in keeping 
with the self-contained Duffield character that, 
after the first shock, I realized it was not at all 
surprising. I fancy that we all breathed a sigh of 
relief, however, when the meal was over. 

We were rising from the table, when a folded 
note, addressed to the Senator, was handed to the 
butler from the hall. He glanced through it hur- 
riedly, and held up his hand for us to wait. 



Cinderella's Slipper 145 

" This is from Miss Mack. She requests me to 
have all of the members of the family, and those 
servants who have furnished any evidence in con- 
nection with the, er — murder " — the Senator 
winced as he spoke the word — " to assemble in 
•the library at nine o'clock. I think that we owe 
it both to ourselves and to her to obey her instruc- 
tions to the letter. Perkins, will you kindly notify 
the servants ? *' 

As it happened, Madelyn's audience in the library 
was increased by two spectators she had not named. 
The tooting of a motor sounded without, and the 
tall figure of Senator Burroughs met us as we were 
leaving the dining-room. Senator Duffield took 
his arm with a glance of relief, and explained the 
situation as he forced him to accompany us. 

VI 

In the library, we found for the first time that 
Madelyn was not alone. Engaged in a low con- 
versation with her, which ceased as we entered, 
was Inspector Taylor. He had evidently been 
designated as the spokesman of the occasion. 

" Is everybody here ? " he asked. 

" I think so,*' Senator Duffield replied. " There 
are really only five of the servants who count in 
the case." 



146 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

Madelyn's eyes flashed over the circle. " Close 
the door, please, Mr. Taylor. I think you had 
better lock it also." 

" There are fourteen persons in this room," she 
continued, " counting, of course, Inspector Taylor, 
Miss Noraker and myself. We may safely be said 
to be outside the case. There are then eleven per- 
sons here connected in some degree with the trag- 
edy. It is in this list of eleven that I have searched 
for the murderer. I am happy to tell you that my 
search has been successful ! " 

Senator Duffield was the first to speak. " You 
mean to say. Miss Mack, that the murderer is in 
this room at the present time? *' 

" Correct." 

" Then you accuse one of this group — " 

" Of dealing the blow which killed your secre- 
tary, and, later, of plundering your safe." 

Inspector Taylor moved quietly to a post between 
the two windows. Escape from the room was 
barred. I darted a stealthy glance around the 
circle in an effort to surprise a trace of guilt in the 
faces before me, and was startled to find my neigh- 
bors engaged in the same furtive occupation. Of 
the women of the family, the Senator's wife had 
compressed her lips as though, as the mistress of 
the house, she felt the need of maintaining her 
composure in any situation, Maria was toying with 



Cinderella's Slipper 147 

her bracelet, while Beth made no effort to conceal 
her agitation. 

Senator Burroughs was studying the pattern of 
the carpet with a face as inscrutable as a mask. 
Fletcher Duffield was sitting back in his chair, his 
hands in his pockets. His father was leaning 
against the locked door, his eyes flashing from 
face to face. With the exception of Dorrence, the 
valet, and Perkins, the butler, who I do not think 
would have been stirred out of their stolidness had 
the ceiling fallen, the servants were in an utter 
panic. Two of the maids were plainly bordering 
on hysterics. 

Such was the group that faced Madelyn in the 
Duffield library. One of the number was a mur- 
derer, whom the next ten minutes were to brand 
as such. Which was it? Instinctively my eyes 
turned again toward the three women of the Duf- 
field family, as Madelyn walked across to a por- 
tiere which screened a corner of the apartment. 

Jerking it aside, she showed, suspended from a 
hook in the ceiling, a quarter of fresh veal. 

On an adjoining stand was a long, thin-bladed 
knife, which might have been a dagger, ground to 
a razor-edge. Madelyn held it before her as she 
turned to us. 

" This is the weapon which killed Mr. Rennick." 

I fancied I heard a gasp as she spoke. Although 



148 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

I whirled almost on the instant, however, I could 
detect no signs of it in the faces behind me. 

" I propose to conduct a short experiment, which 
I assure you is absolutely necessary to my chain of 
reasoning," Madelyn continued. " You may or 
may not know that the body of a calf practically 
offers the same degree of resistance to a knife as 
the body of a man. Dead flesh, of course, is 
harder and firmer than living flesh, but I think 
that, adding the thickness of clothes, we may take 
it for granted that in the quarter of veal before us, 
we have a fair substitute for the body of Raymond 
Rennick. Now watch me closely, please ! " 

Drawing back her arm, she plunged her knife 
into the meat with a force which sent it spinning 
on its hook. She drew the knife out, and examined 
it reflectively. 

" I have made a cut of only a little more than 
three and a half inches. The blow which killed 
Mr. Rennick penetrated at least five inches. 

" Here we encounter a singularly striking fea- 
ture of our case, involving a stratagem which I 
think I can safely say is the most unique in my 
experience. To all intents, it was a woman who 
killed Mr. Rennick. In fact, it has been taken for 
granted that he met his death at the hand of a 
female assassin. We must dispose of this conclu- 
sion at the outset, for the simple reason that it was 



Cinderella's Slipper 149 

physically impossible for a woman to have dealt 
the death blow ! " 

I chanced to be gazing directly at Fletcher Duf- 
field as Madelyn made the statement. An expres- 
sion of such relief flashed into his face that instinc- 
tively I turned about and followed the direction 
of his glance. His eyes were fixed on his sister, 
Beth. 

Madelyn deposited tiie knife on the stand. 

" Indeed, I may say there are few men — per- 
haps not one in ten — with a wrist strong enough 
to have dealt Mr. Rennick's death blow," she went 
on. " There is only one such person among the 
fourteen in this room at the present time. 

" Again you will recall that the wound was de- 
livered from the rear just as Mr. Rennick faced 
about in his own defense. Had he been attacked 
by a woman, he would have heard the rustle of 
her dress several feet before she possibly could 
have reached him. I think you will recall my 
demonstration of that fact yesterday morning, Mr. 
Dufiield. 

" Obviously then, it is a man whom we must 
seek if we would find the murderer of your secre- 
tary, and a man of certain peculiar characteristics. 
Two of these I can name now. He possessed a 
wrist developed to an extraordinary degree, and 
he owned feet as small and shapely as a woman's. 



150 MUs Madeljrn Mack, Detective 



Otherwise, the stratagem of wearing a woman's 
slippers and leaving one of them near the scene of 
the crime to divert suspicion from himself, would 
never have occurred to him ! " 

Again I thought I heard a gasp behind me, but 
its owner escaped me a second time. 

" There was a third marked feature among the 
physical characteristics of the murderer. He was 
near-sighted — so much so that it was necessary 
for him to wear glasses of the kind known tech- 
nically as a 'double lens.' Unfortunately for the 
assassin, when his victim fell, the latter caught the 
glasses in his hand and they were broken under 
his body. The murderer may have been thrown 
into a panic, and feared to take the time to recover 
his spectacles ; but it was a fatal blunder. Fortime, 
however, might have helped him even then in spite 
of this fact, for those who found the body fell 
into the natural error of considering the glasses 
to be the property of the murdered man. Had it 
not been for two minor details, this impression 
might never have been contradicted." 

Madelyn held up a packet of newspaper illustra- 
tions. Several of them I recognized as the pic- 
tures of the murdered secretary that she had shown 
me at the " Roanoke." The others were also photo- 
graphs of the same man. 

" If Mr. Rennick hadn't been fond of having his 



Cinderella's Slipper 151 

picture taken, the fact that he never wore glasses 
on the street might not have been noticed. None 
of his pictures, not even the snap-shots, showed a 
man in spectacles. It is true that he did possess 
a pair, and it is here where those who discovered 
the crime went astray. But they were for reading 
purposes only, the kind termed a .125 lens, while 
those of his assailant were a .210 lens. To clinch 
the matter, I later found Mr. Rennick's own spec- 
tacles in his room where he had left them the 
evening before." 

Madelyn held up the red leather case she had 
found on the mantel-piece, and tapped it musingly 
as she gave a slight nod to Inspector Taylor. 

" We have now the following description of the 
murderer — a slenderly built man, with an unusual 
wrist, possibly an athlete at one time, who pos- 
sesses a foot capable of squeezing into a woman's 
shoe, and who is handicapped by near-sightedness. 
Is there an individual in this room to whom this 
description applies ? " 

There was a new glitter in Madelyn's eyes as she 
continued. 

" Through the co-operation of Inspector Taylor, 
I am enabled to answer this question. Mr. Taylor 
has traced the glasses of the assassin to the optician 
who gave the prescription for them. I am not sur- 
prised to find that the owner of the spectacles tallies 



152 MUs Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

with the owner of these other interesting arti- 
cles." 

With the words, she whisked from the stand at 
her elbow, the long, narrow-bladed dagger, and a 
pair of soiled, black suede slippers. 

There was a suggestion of grotesque unreality 
about it all. It was much as though I had been 
viewing the denouement of a play from the snug 
vantage point of an orchestra seat, waiting for the 
lights to flare up and the curtain to ring down. A 
shriek ran through my ears, jarring me back to the 
realization that I was not a spectator, but a part, 
of the play. 

A figure darted toward the window. It was 
John Dorrence, the valet. 

The next instant Inspector Taylor threw him- 
self on the fleeing man's shoulders, and the two 
went to the floor. 

Can you manage him ? " Madelyn called. 
Unless he prefers cold steel through his body 
to cold steel about his wrists," was the rejoinder. 

" I think you may dismiss the other servants, 
Senator," Madelyn said. " I wish, however, that 
the family would remain a few moments." 

As the door closed again, she continued, "I 
promised you also. Senator, the return of your 
stolen property. I have the honor to make that 
promise good." 






Cinderella's Slipper 153 



From her stand, which was rapidly assuming 
the proportions of a conjurer's taWe, she produced 
a round, brown paper parcel. 

" Before I unwrap this, have I your permission 
to explain its contents ? " 

" As you will. Miss Mack." 

" Perhaps the most puzzling feature of the 
tragedy is the motive. It is this parcel which sup- 
plies us with the answer. 

" Your secretary, Mr. Duffield, was an excep- 
tional young man. Not only did he repeatedly 
resist bribery such as comes to few men, but he 
gave his life for his trust. 

"At any time since this parcel came into his 
possession, he could have sold it for a fortune. 
Because he refused to sell it, he was murdered for 
it. Perhaps every reader of the newspapers is 
more or less familiar with Senator Duffield's inves- 
tigations of the ravages of a certain great Trust. 
A few days ago, the Senator came into possession 
of evidence against the combine of such a drastic 
nature that he realized it would mean nothing less 
than the annihilation of the monopoly, imprison- 
ment for the chief officers, and a business 
sensation such as this country has seldom 
known. 

" Once the officers of the Trust knew of his evi- 
dence, however, they would be fore-armed in such 



154 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

a manner that its value would be largely destroyed. 
The evidence was a remarkable piece of detective 
work. It consisted of a phonographic record of a 
secret directors' meeting, laying bare the inmost 
depredations of the corporation." 

Madelyn paused as the handcuffed valet showed 
signs of a renewed struggle. Inspector Taylor 
without comment calmly snapped a second pair of 
bracelets about his feet. 

" The Trust was shrewd enough to appreciate 
the value of a spy in the Duffield home. Dorrence 
was engaged for the post, and from what I have 
learned of his character, he filled it admirably. 
How he stumbled on Senator Duffield's latest coup 
is immaterial. The main point is that he tried to 
bribe Mr. Rennick so persistently to betray his post 
that the latter threatened to expose him. Partly 
in the fear that he would carry out his threat, and 
partly in the hope that he carried memoranda which 
might lead to the discovery of the evidence that he 
sought, Dorrence planned and carried out the 
murder. 

" In the secretary's pocket he discovered the 
combination of the safe, and made use of it last 
night. I found the stolen phonograph record this 
morning behind the register of the furnace pipe in 
Dorrence's room. I had already found that this 
was his cache, containing the dagger which killed 



Cinderella's Slipper 155 

Rennick, and the second of Cinderella's slippers. 
The pair was stolen some days ago from the room 
of Miss Beth Duffield." 

The swirl of the day was finally over. Dorrence 
had been led to his cell; the coroner's jury had re- 
turned its verdict; and all that was mortal of Ray- 
mond Rennick had been laid in its last resting 
place. 

Madelyn and I had settled ourselves in the 
homeward bound Pullman as it rumbled out of 
the Boston station in the early dusk. 

" There are two questions I want to ask," I said 
reflectively. 

Madelyn looked up from her newspaper with a 
3rawn. 

" Why did John Dorrence bring you back a blank 
sheet of paper when you dispatched him on your 
errand ? " 

" As a matter of fact, there was nothing else for 
him to bring back. Mr. Taylor kept him at police 
headquarters long enough to give me time to carry 
my search through his room. The message was 
a blind." 

"And what was the quarrel that the servant 
girl, Anna, heard in the Duffield library ? " 

*' It wasn't a quarrel, my dear girl. It was the 
Senator preparing the speech with which he in- 



156 MiM Madeljm Mack, Detective 

tended to launch his evidence against the Trust 
The Senator is in the habit of dictating his speeches 
to a phonograph. Some of them, I am afraid, are 
rather fiery." 



IV 



THE BULLET FROM NOWHERE 



Louder and louder, as though the musician had 
abandoned himself to the wild spirit of his crashing 
climax, the pealing strains of the " storm scene " 
from " William Tell " rolled out from the keys of 
the mahogany piano, through the closed doors of 
Homer Hendricks* music-room, and down the stairs 
to the waiting group below. 

The slender, white fingers of the musician quiv- 
ered with feverish energy. Into his thin, pale face, 
white with the pallor of midnight studies, crept two 
dull spots of hectic color. His e)res glistened with 
the gleam of the inspired artist, who behind the 
printed music sees the soul of the composer. 

Save only for his short, pompadoured red hair, 
bristling above his forehead like a stiff, wiry brush, 
and his chin, too square and stubborn for a dreamer, 
Homer Hendricks, who made the law his profession 
and music his recreation, presented all of the char- 
acteristics of the picturesque genius. 

157 



'I 

4 



158 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 



The group in the library had crowded close to 
the hall door, as though fearing to mis» a note in 
the rolling climax from the piano above. Montague 
Weston, tossing his neglected cigarette aside, was 
the first to break the spell. 

" He's a wonder ! " he breathed. 

The girl in white at his elbow glanced toward 
him with swift enthusiasm. 

" Doubly so ! To think that a man who can make 
music like that is also rated as the leading corpora- 
tion lawyer in the State ! " 

Weston shrugged. " Yes, he calls his piano only 
his plaything.'* 

The girl lowered her voice. " Is it true — you 
know this is my first visit here — that he is as 
eccentric as we read in those sensational newspaper 
articles ? " 

A slow smile broke over Weston's face. " That 
depends on your idea of eccentricity, Miss Morri- 
son. Some persons, for instance, might deem his 
present performance the height of oddity. Hen- 
dricks never plays except when he is alone in his 
own music-room with the door closed ! " 

" Really ! " The girl's eyes were wide with her 
amazement. 

" And again " — Weston was evidently enjoying 
{ the other's naive curiosity — "the fact that Mr. 

I Hendricks has condescended to join our theater 



The Bullet from Nowhere 159 

party to-night suggests another of his peculiarities. 
I believe this is the first evening in ten years that 
he has left his piano before midnight! But then 
this is a special occasion/' 

"Hilda Wentworth's birthday?" the girl inter- 
jected. 

Weston nodded. 

" All of the affection of a lonely bachelor without 
a domestic circle of his own is bound up in Homer 
Hendricks* love for his niece. And I happen to 
know, Miss Morrison, how very much alone such 
a man can be ! " 

At the wistful note in Weston's voice, the viva- 
cious Miss Morrison glanced away quickly. 

" I should not think that would apply to your 
case ! " she said lightly. " If all reports are true, 
Monty Weston has won almost as great a reputa- 
tion as a heart-breaker as he has as a trust- 
breaker ! " 

"You flatter both my social and my legal abil- 
ity ! " Weston laughed. He glanced at his watch. 
" By Jove, it's after eight ! Where are Hilda and 
Bob Grayson ? " 

He turned so suddenly as he put the question that 
his companion gazed at him in surprise. The second 
of the two women in the group, Muriel Thornton, 
smiled shrewdly. 

" Hilda went up-stairs a moment ago," she vol- 



160 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

unteered. " As for Bob," she paused significantly 
as the shadow deepened on Weston's face. " Where 
is Bob ? " she added artlessly. 

The rivalry of Weston and Grayson, the strug- 
gling young architect, for the favors of Hilda Went- 
worth had too long been a matter of gossip for 
the point of the question to pass unnoticed. 

Wilkins, the fourth member of the group, es- 
sayed an eager answer in the pause that followed. 

" Bob had a business engagement in his rooms, 
I believe, and left directly after dinner. He was 
to have been back by eight, though." 

Up-stairs, the music still continued. Homer 
Hendricks had reached the finale of the overture, 
and Rossini's majestic strains were rolling out with 
the sweep of a lashing surf. 

Weston strolled to the door. 

"* William Teir is nearing the end, I fancy. 
Listen ! " 

The speaker was right. It was the end — but not 
the end that either the musician or his audience 
were expecting. 

Above the crash of the music rang out the sud- 
den, mufHed report of a revolver ! 

From the piano came a long, echoing discord, 
as though the player's arm had fallen heavily to 
the keys. 

And then silence — a silence ^o intense that the 



The Bullet from Nowhere 161 

low breathing of the group in the library, stricken 
suddenly motionless, sounded with strange distinct- 
ness! 

For a moment the quartet stood staring at one 
another, helpless, dumb, under the spell of an over- 
whelming bewilderment. 

Miss Morrison fell back against the wall, panting 
like a frightened deer, her eyes staring up the wind- 
ing stairway as though they would pierce the closed 
door above and see — what ? 

Of the two men, Weston was the prompter to 
act. 

Jerking his companion by the elbow as though 
to arouse him to the necessity of the situation, he 
sprang out of the doorway, taking the steps to the 
second floor two at a bound. 

John Wilkins, glancing hesitatingly at the women, 
followed more slowly at his shoulder. 

From the end of the upper hall came the sound 
of running steps as the men reached it. A tall, 
slight, fair-haired girl, in a green satin evening 
gown, clutched Weston's arm with a wild, ques- 
tioning stare. 

For the first time Wilkins sensed the spell of 
tragedy. In the girl's eyes was a gleam of undis- 
guised terror. 

" The shot ? " she burst out. " It came from — " 

Weston nodded shortly, even curtly, as he jerked 



162 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

his head toward the door of the music-room, still 
closed, and followed the motion with a quick step. 
Wilkins reached forward and touched the girVs 
shoulder awkwardly. 

" Don't you think I had better escort you below. 
Miss Wentworth ? '* 

The girl shook off his fingers impatiently. 

Weston's hand was on the knob of the music- 
room door. He turned it abruptly. A puzzled 
frown swept his face, and he turned it again more 
violently. The door was locked. 

Hilda Wentworth darted to his side, tearing his 
hand away almost fiercely and beating the panels 
sharply with her knuckles. 

"Uncle! Uncle! It is I, Hilda ! " 

The silence was unbroken. 

The girl redoubled her efforts, tearing at the 
wood with her fingers and raising her voice almost 
to a shriek. 

Then of a sudden she stepped back, turned with 
a low, gasping wail, and sank into the arms of a 
tall, broad-shouldered young man with the build 
of an athlete, who sprang up the stairs past Wil- 
kins' hesitating figure just in time to catch her. 

Weston glanced at the newcomer with a swift 
hardening of his lips. " Lend a hand here, Gray- 
son ! '* he jerked out. " We've got to break in this 
door!*' 



The Bullet from Nowhere 163 

" In Heaven's name, why ? " 

" No time for questions, man ! '* Weston's tones 
were curt. " Hendricks is in there. We heard a 
shot. We don't — " 

"A shot?" 

The words might have been a spur. The speaker 
lowered the body of the fainting girl to the floor, 
and sprang to the door with a vigor that made the 
others stare in spite of the tension of the moment. 

Poising himself for an instant, he launched his 
body toward the oaken panels. There was a sharp 
splintering of wood. 

Weston muttered a low cry of satisfaction and 
joined him in a second assault. The door shivered 
on its hinges. 

The girl on the floor raised herself on her elbow 
and watched the two with a white, strained face. 

The men drew back with muscles taut and hurled 
themselves a third time toward the barrier. 



II 



This time the attack was successful. The door 
fell inward so abruptly that they were thrown to 
their knees. 

Before they could rise, a satin-clad figure sprang 
past them from the hall and threw itself with a cry 



164 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

on the body of a man in evening clothes, huddled 
on the floor. 

Just above his left ear showed a gaping bullet- 
hole, from which a thin stream of blood was already 
trickling down on to the rug beneath him. 

His eyes were fixed in a ghastly stare which per- 
mitted no second question as to his condition. 
Homer Hendricks was dead! 

Weston raised the girl to her feet with the com- 
manding gesture of a strong-minded man in a sud- 
den emergency. 

" Hilda — Miss Wentworth ^ — you must let 
us take you down-stairs. This is no place for 
you." 

" Oh, Uncle ! Poor Uncle ! " sobbed the girl un- 
heeding. 

Weston darted a swift glance around the room 
and toward the stairs. The women below were 
evidently not yet aware of the situation. 

Wilkins from the hall was surveying the scene 
like a man in a nightmare, with a face from which 
every vestige of color had fled. 

Grayson was still standing by the shattered door, 
with his hands clenched as though in a quick, nerv- 
ous spasm. 

At Weston's words he approached the girl with 
an added sentence of entreaty. 

She nodded dully, flashed a last, despairing glance 



\^-^- 



The Bullet from Nowhere 165 

at the body on the floor, and suffered him to take 
her arm without resistance. 

There was a certain suggestion of intimacy in 
the action, which brought a sudden scowl to Wes- 
ton's features, as he said crisply: 

"Of course, Grayson, you will explain to the 
ladies. As for the rest of it, you had better have 
them remain until — " 

" The police ? " Grayson finished inquiringly. 
"Shall I telephone?" 

Weston hesitated, with a glance at WiUcins. The 
latter was still maintaining his position in the door- 
way as though fearing to enter. 

" The police ? " he repeated huskily. His eyes 
were riveted on the body of Hendricks as though 
held by a magnet. "I — I suppose so. This is 
awful, gentlemen ! " 

The attitude of the three men in the face of the 
sudden tragedy was curiously suggestive of their 
characters — Weston, with the crisply directing 
demeanor of the man accustomed to leadership; 
Grayson, frankly bewildered, with his attention 
centered on the girl's distress rather than the harsher 
features of the situation; Wilkins, passively con- 
tent to allow another to direct his actions. 

Hilda Wentworth gathered up her skirts and 
gently released herself from Grayson's hand. 

In her face was a forced calmness, to a close 



\ — .. 



166 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

observer more expressive of inward suffering than 
even her first outburst of grief. 

As Grayson made a move to follow her, she 
turned with a low sentence. " I would prefer that 
you stay here, Bob ! " 

Her inflection, and the glance which accompan* 
ied it, brought another swiftly veiled scowl to Wes- 
ton's face. He strode to the end of the room and 
did not turn until Wilkins had led Miss Wentworth 
to the stairs. 

Grayson, in the center of the apartment, had dug 
his hands into his trousers-pockets and was watch- 
ing him curiously. 

" A beastly bad business. Bob ! " Weston spoke 
nervously, in odd contrast to his former curt tones. 

Grayson jerked his head almost imperceptibly 
toward the motionless body on the carpet. 

" What on earth made him do it? '* 

" Him do it ? " There was an obvious note of 
surprise in Weston's voice. " Heavens, Bob, can't 
you see it's not — not thatf 

Grayson recoiled as from a blow. 

" Not suicide ? " His tone raised itself with a 
shrill suddenness. " Why, man, it must be ! You 
don't mean, you can't mean — " 

Weston lifted his eyebrows questioningly. " Do 
men shoot themselves without a weapon, Bob ? " 

Grayson sprang abruptly past the other, stooped 



The Bullet from Nowhere 167 

swiftly over the silent form of Homer Hendricks, 
and turned his eyes fiercely across the adjacent 
stretch of carpet. 

Weston watched him somberly. 

" Are you convinced? " he queried at length. 

Grayson pushed back the only chair in that end 
of the room, saw that it concealed nothing, and then, 
seizing an end of the elaborately carved piano, in 
front of which the body of the dead man rested, 
tugged imtil he forced it an inch from the wall. 

His eyes swept the crack thus exposed, and he 
stepped back with a gesture of bewilderment 

" Have you found it ? " Weston ventured. There 
was the barest trace of a sneer in his voice. 

Grayson sprang across at him and clutched his 
shoulder. 

" The weapon, man ! Where is it ? I say it 
must be here ! " 

Weston glanced at the other's flushed features 
calmly. 

" I told you. Bob, there was none. Or, perhaps, 
you think that a dead man can rise to his feet and 
toss the gim that has ended his life out of the win- 
dow?" 

" The window ? " Grayson muttered. Weston's 

sneer escaped him. 

Darting to the three windows of the music-room, 
he flung back the drawn curtains of each in turn. 



168 MiM Madeljm Mack, Detective 

They were all locked, and neither the glass nor the 
curtains showed a mark of disturbance. 

Weston followed his movements with folded 
arms. 

"There is still the door, Bob. And remember 
that is the only other possible exit." He hesitated. 
" If you will take the trouble to raise it from the 
floor, you will discover a fact which I learned some 
minutes ago. The key was turned from the inside 
and not from the outside!** 

Grayson glanced at the other for a long moment 
in silence ; then, stepping across the carpet with the 
resolution of a man determined to accept only the 
evidence of his own eyes, he raised the shattered 
panels until the lock was exposed. 

The key, bent by the force of the fall, was still 
firmly fixed on the inward side of the door! 

Grayson rose from his knees like a man groping 
in a brain-whirling maze. 

" Sit down, Bob ! " Weston pushed across a 
chair and forced the other into it. " We've got 
to face this thing coolly." 

" Coolly ! " Grayson's voice rose almost to a 
hysterical laugh. "Good Heavens! Are you a 
man or a machine ? You tell me that Hendricks did 
not kill himself — " 

" Could not ! " Weston corrected in a level 
tone. 



The Bullet from Nowhere 169 

" And now," Grayson burst on unheeding, " you 
show me that he was not — " 

" Murdered ? " Weston completed cahnly. " That 
is where you are wrong. I have shown you no 
such inference ! " 

Grayson passed his hand wearily over his brow. 

"We are not dealing with spirits, man! You 
forget that the windows are fastened, the door 
locked — " 

" I forget nothing ! " said Weston coldly. 

Grayson kicked back his chair impatiently. 
" Then, if Hendricks' murderer has not vanished 
into thin air, how — " 

" That, my dear boy," said Weston softly, " is 
a question which these gentlemen may be able to 
answer for us ! " 

As he spoke, he motioned toward the hall. 

Wilkins had appeared at the head of the stairs 
with two newcomers, both of whom were obviously 
policemen, although only one was in uniform. 

Wilkins paused awkwardly at the door, with his 
hand on the shoulder of the man in civilian clothes. 

"Lieutenant Perry, of headquarters," he an- 
nounced formally, "Mr. Weston and Mr. Gray- 
son!" 

Weston extended his hand with a subtle sugges- 
tion of deference which brought a gratified flush to 
the officer's face. 



170 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

He was a short, stocky, round-headed man with 
all of the evidences of the stubborn police bulldog, 
although the suggestion of any pronounced mental 
ability was lacking. 

His eyes swept the body of the dead man and 
the details of the room with professional stoicism. 
Motioning to his companion, he knelt over Hen- 
dricks' stiffening form. 

" Bullet entered at the left ear," he muttered. 
" Death probably instantaneous ! " He straight- 
ened with the conventional police frown. " Where's 
the weapon, gentlemen ? " 

Grayson was silent, content that Weston should 
act as spokesman. The latter flung out his hands. 

" We thought you could find it for us ! " he an- 
swered shortly. 

" Then you have not found it ? " There was a 
flash of suspicion in the lieutenant's voice. 

"We have not!" 

The lieutenant jotted down a scrawling line in 
his note-book. 

" Are we to believe this murder, then ? " he 
rasped. 

" I should prefer that you draw your own con- 
clusions, Lieutenant ! " 

For an instant the officer's pencil was poised in 
the air, then he closed his note-book with a jerk, 
thrust his pencil into his pocket, and walked quickly 



The Bullet from Nowhere 171 

to the closed windows, and then to the door. A 
growing coldness was apparent in every movement. 

" Help me here, Burke ! " he snapped to his sub- 
ordinate. " Stand back, gentlemen ! " he continued 
with almost a growl as Weston made a motion as 
though to assist. 

The next moment the broken door was raised 
slowly back against the wall. The lieutenant's eyes 
fell on the lock with the twisted key. With a grim- 
ness he did not attempt to conceal, he whirled on 
the two men behind him. 

"What kind of a yarn are you trying to give 
me?" His hand pointed first to the locked door 
and then to the fastened windows. " Do you think 
I was born yesterday? Come, gents, out with the 
truth ! " 

" The truth ? " said Weston curtly. 

The lieutenant bristled. "Just so — and the 
sooner you let me have it the better for all parties 
concerned! First you tell me there is no weapon, 
and would have me infer that Mr. Hendricks did 
not kill himself. Then I find that the room is locked 
as tight as a drum and there is no possible way for 
any one else to have fired the shot — and escape. 
Do you think I am blind ? You are either covering 
up the fact of suicide, or trying to shield the mur- 
derer!" 

Lieutenant Perry paused, quite out of breath. 



172 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

with his face very red and his right hand clenched 
with the violence of his emotions. 

The turn of affairs was so abrupt and unexpected 
that Grayson stood speechless, Weston had made 
an angry step forward, with his eyes flashing, when 
a low exclamation from the policeman, Burke, broke 
the tension. 

In his right hand he was holding out a woman's 
white kid glove, with its thumb stained with a 
ragged splotch of still fresh blood. 

" Found it down by the wall, sir ! It was covered 
up by the door ! " 

Lieutenant Perry snatched the glove from the 
other's hand and held it toward the light. On the 
wrist was a delicately embroidered monogram in 
white silk. 

Grayson with difficulty smothered a sharp cry. 
Then his eyes sought Weston's face, grown sud- 
denly cold and hard. Both men had recognized 
the object on the instant. The glove was the prop- 
erty of Hilda Wentworth ! 

" H. W." The lieutenant deciphered the letters 
slowly. "And pray, gentlemen," he said mock- 
ingly, nodding toward Weston with a grin of exul- 
tation, "what person do these interesting initials 
fit?" 

" I think I can answer that question, sir ! " 

The words came in a clear, cold tone from the 



The Bullet from Nowhere 173 

doorway, and Hilda Wentworth, pressing her way 
past Wilkins' resisting arm, stepped into the room. 

" The glove is mine, officer ! " 

She held out her hand, but the lieutenant, with a 
low laugh that brought the blood flaming to the 
girl's face, thrust the glove into his pocket. 

His eyes flashed from Weston to Grayson sig- 
nificantly. 

" I fancy, gentlemen, I have found the explana- 
tion of your cock and bull story ! " he said slowly. 

Grayson sprang forward with a growl. 

" You will take those words back or — or — " 

Weston caught his shoulder sternly. " Gently, 
Bob ! You are only making a bad matter worse ! " 

The lieutenant turned to his man, Burke, ignoring 
Grayson's threatening attitude. " Qear the room 
and telephone the coroner! As for you, Miss Went- 
worth, I am sorry, but — " 

" What? " asked the girl steadily. Reversing the 
situation of a few moments before, she seemed the 
calmest member of the group. 

"I am compelled to ask you not to leave the 
house until I give you permission ! " the officer fin- 
ished brusquely. 

A sudden pallor swept Hilda Wentworth's face 
and for an instant her eyes closed ; but she fought 
back the weakness resolutely. With a curt nod she 
stepped to the door. 



174 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" I am at your service ! " she said simply. 

Wilkins offered her his arm, and Weston fol- 
lowed the two without a backward glance. Gray- 
son hesitated, still scowling at the lieutenant's 
stocky figure. The officer was glaring from the 
face of the dead man to the polished surface of the 
piano, with his nerves plainly on a feather edge. 

Grayson shrugged, and had made a step toward 
the hall when his gaze was arrested almost mechan- 
ically by a glitter of green on the red carpet, near 
the wall at his right. He had taken a second step 
when a curious impulse — was it the factor of 
chance? — caused him to turn swiftly. Lieutenant 
Perry was bending over the body of Homer Hen- 
dricks with his face for the moment averted. Gray- 
son's hand felt hurriedly over the carpet and closed 
about a small greenish object at his feet. Straight- 
ening, he walked rapidly through the doorway. 

In the hall, he glanced at the object in his hand. 
It was a green jade ball, whose diameter was per- 
haps that of a quarter. Dropping it into his pocket, 
the young man ran down the stairs. 

Ill 

" I HAVE earned a vacation, Nora, and I intend 
to take it." 

Madelyn Mack elevated her arms in a luxurious 
yawn, as she pushed aside the traveling-bag at her 



The Bullet from Nowhere 175 

feet The eight o'clcxJc train had just brought her 
back from Denver, and six weeks in the tortuous 
windings of the Ramsen bullion case. I had re- 
ceived her telegram from Buffalo just in time to 
meet her at the Grand Central station, and we had 
driven at once to her Fifth Avenue office. As I 
noted the tired lines under her eyes, and the droop 
of her shoulders, I could appreciate something of 
the strain under which she had been laboring. I 
nodded slowly. 

" Yes, you need a vacation," I agreed. 

Madelyn impatiently pushed aside a stack of un- 
opened letters. "And I intend to take it!" she 
repeated almost belligerently. " Business or no 
business ! " 

"With a ten thousand dollar fee for six weeks' 
work," I laughed somewhat enviously, " you should 
worry ! " 

Madelyn tossed her accumulated correspondence 
recklessly into a comer of her desk, and drew down 
its roll top with a bang. 

" I feel like dissipating to-night, Nora. Are you 
up to a cabaret? A place with noise enough to 
drown out every echo of work ! " 

At her elbow the telephone shrilled suddenly. 
Mechanically Madelyn took down the receiver. 
Almost with the first sentence over the wire, I could 
see her features contract. 



176 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

"Yes, Mr. Grayson, this is Miss Mack talking. 
What is that? " In a moment she clapped her hand 
over the transmitter, and turned a wry face to me. 
" Was I foolish enough to talk about a rest, Nora? 
Homer Hendricks has just been shot — murder or 
suicide ! " 

Her next sentence was directed at the telephone. 
" Never mind what Lieutenant Perry says, Mr. 
Grayson! I'll be over at once. Yes, I said at 
once!" 

She hung up the receiver, and sprang to her feet. 

" Come on, Nora ! I'll give you the details on 
the way ! " Her weariness had vanished as though 
it had never existed. 

She slammed the door of the office, leaving her 
bag where she had tossed it, and jabbed the bell 
for the elevator. Not until we were in her car, 
that had been waiting at the curb, and speeding up 
the Avenue, did she speak again. 

" You know of Hendricks, the lawyer, of course, 
and his niece, Hilda Wentworth — " 

" You don't mean to say that he has been killed, 
and the girl is suspected — " 

Madelyn shrugged. "The police seem to think 
so!" 

She drew over to her end of the seat, and sub- 
sided into an abstracted silence, as we swerved 
across toward the Drive. I knew that it was hope- 



The Bullet from Nowhere 177 

less to expect her to volunteer further information, 
and, indeed, doubted if she possessed it. 

When the car whirled up to our destination Mad- 
elyn was out on the walk before the last revolution 
of the wheels had ceased. 

We were not more than half-way up the steps of 
the Hendricks residence when the door flew open, 
and a young man, who had evidently been stationed 
in the hall awaiting our arrival, sprang forward to 
meet us. 

Madelyn smiled as she caught his impulsively 
extended hand. 

"Any new developments, Mr. Grayson?" 

"None, except that Coroner Smedley is here. 
He is up-stairs now with the police." 

Madelyn led us to the farther end of the veranda. 

" Before we go in, it will be just as well if you 
give me a brief summary of what has happened." 

Grayson walked back and forth, his hands 
clenched at his sides, talking rapidly. Madelyn 
heard him in silence, the darkness concealing her 
expression. 

"Is that all?" she queried at length. For a 

moment she stood peering out over the veranda 

railing. "Miss Wentworth lived with her uncle, 

I take it?" 

" Yes." 

" And inherits his property? " 



178 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

Grayson growled an affirmative. 

" Suppose I change my angle, and ask if you are 
prepared to explain your own whereabouts at the 
time of the crime? " 

" I have done so! " 

Madelyn's eyes hardened. 

" We won't mince matters, Mr. Grayson. From 
the police standpoint, Miss Wentworth and your- 
self, as her probably favored suitor, are the two 
persons most likely to profit by Mr. Hendricks' 
death. It may be awkward, perhaps exceedingly 
awkward, that you were the only two in the 
house not accounted for at the moment of the 
shot!" 

" I have told you the truth ! " Grayson dug his 
hands into his pockets sullenly. 

Madelyn turned abruptly toward the door, and 
then paused. " Was Mr. Hendricks aware of your 
sentiments toward his niece ? " 

Grayson hesitated. " Certainly.*' 

"And was not enthusiastic on the subject?" 

" Well, perhaps not — er — enthusiastic." Gray- 
son's stammer was obvious. " To be quite frank, 
he preferred — " 

"Yes?" 

" Monty Weston ; but, of course — " 

" I think that is enough," said Madelyn quietly. 

Will you kindly lead the way in ? " 



ts 



The Bullet from Nowhere 179 

Grayson's hand, fumbling in his pockets, was 
suddenly withdrawn. 

" By the way, here is something I almost forgot. 
I picked it up on the floor of Hendricks' room as 
we were leaving." 

He extended the curious green jade ball he had 
found in the music-room. 

Madelyn's eyes narrowed. Then she said cas- 
ually, " Quite an interesting little ornament," and 
dropped it into her bag. 

The hall of the Hendricks house was empty. 
The members of the tragically disrupted theatre 
party had retreated to the library, and were en- 
deavoring nervously to maintain the semblance of 
a conversation. The police were still busy up- 
stairs. 

"You had better join your friends," said Mad- 
elyn to Grayson. "We will be down presently." 
And she ran lightly up the broad stairway, as I 
followed. 

The music-room of Homer Hendricks presented 
a scene of confusion shattering all the precedents 
of its peaceful history, and almost sufficient, one 
was tempted to think, to call back its late master 
to resent the intrusion on his cherished sanc- 
tum. 

The body of Mr. Hendricks was still stretched 
on the carpet where it had fallen. It, and the mass- 



180 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

ive piano, were the only objects in the room that 
had been left unchanged. 

Madelyn gave a shrug of disgust as we paused 
in the doorway and surveyed the scene of ravage. 

" Are you expecting to find gold pieces concealed 
in the furniture, gentlemen ? " 

Lieutenant Perry whirled sharply. "May I in- 
quire. Miss Mack, since when have you been in 
charge of this case ? " 

The officer essayed a wink toward his compan- 
ions, who had been increased by two plain-clothes- 
men and the coroner since Grayson's telephone call. 

Madelyn smiled. " Your powers of humor, Lieu- 
tenant, are exceeded only by your powers of deduc- 
tion ! " 

Her glance wandered over the tom-up room, 
with its chairs turned upside down, its rugs rolled 
up from the floor, and even its few objects of bric- 
a-brac removed from their places, and deposited in 
a comer. The search for the missing weapon that 
had done Homer Hendricks to death had been 
thorough — if nothing else. 

Madelyn's eyes rested for a second time on the 
piano of the dead man. The instrument seemed 
to exert a peculiar fascination for her. With her 
glance fixed on the keyboard, which no one had 
seen fit to close, she bowed to the grinning lieu- 
tenant. 



The Bullet from Nowhere 181 

" Will I be trespassing if I take a glance 
around ? " 

" Oh, help yourself ! I reckon we have found 
about all there is to find ! " 

" Have you ? " said Madelyn lightly. 

The police officer righted a chair and sat down 
heavily on its cushioned seat, watching Madelyn's 
lithe figure as she walked across to Hendricks' body. 
As a matter of fact when she dropped to her knees, 
and held a pocket magnifying lens close to the 
white, rigid face of the dead man, she had the un- 
reserved attention of every occupant of the room. 

The lieutenant, realizing the fact, shrugged his 
shoulders. " Miss Sherlock Holmes at work ! " he 
said in a tone loud enough to reach Madelyn's 



ears. 
it 



I beg your pardon," said Madelyn, without 
shifting the position of her lens, "have you any 
information as to when Mr. Hendricks visited this 
room last, that is, previous to this evening?" 

Lieutenant Perry hesitated. 

"Why, er — " 

" He had not been here for ten days. Miss Mack," 
spoke up one of his subordinates, and then contin- 
uing, before he became aware of the scowl of his 
superior, " He and his niece were out of town on 
a visit, and only arrived home to-day." 

" Thank you," said Madelyn, rising, and leaning 



182 Miss Madeljm Mack, Detective 

carelessly against the piano. " May I trouble you 
with another question, Lieutenant?" 

The lieutenant glared silently. 

" Did Mr. Hendricks use tobacco? " 

" He did not ! " 

" Thank you ! " The suspicion of a smile tinged 
Madelyn's face. 

Lieutenant Perry crossed his left leg carelessly 
over his knee and thrust his thumbs into the arm- 
holes of his waistcoat. The farther plain-clothes- 
man nudged his companion. This attitude of the 
lieutenant's was a characteristic prelude either to 
one of his favorite jokes or a verbal fusillade, de- 
signed to crush an opponent to the dust. 

" If you are quite through with your clue-search- 
ing, Miss Mack," he said with mock humbleness, 
** I would like your expert opinion on a little bit 
of evidence we have picked up ! " 

His right hand disengaged itself for a moment 
and produced the blood-stained glove of Hilda 
Wentworth. Mr. Perry held it up almost caress- 
ingly. 

" Would you care to take a squint at this with 
that high-power lens of yours ? " 

"Oh, I hardly think so!" said Madelyn indif- 
ferently. " That belongs to Miss Wentworth, does 
it not?" 

"Righto!" 



The Bullet from Nowhere 183 



" Then, if I might make a suggestion, I would 
return it to the young lady." 

" Oh, you would, would you ? *' exploded the lieu- 
tenant. " What do you think of that, men ? That 
is the richest joke I have heard for a month! " 

Madelyn sauntered to the door. 

" I may have the pleasure of seeing you below, 
Lieutenant," she said as she joined me. 

The moment she had disappeared from the view 
of the men in the music-room her assimiption of 
careless indifference vanished. Her lips closed in 
a tense line, as she paused at the head of the stairs. 

" If those imbeciles had only left that room as 
it was I" Her hands were clenched as though 
every nerve was a-quiver. " Nora, I have got to 
have ten minutes alone in there! I must manage 
it ! " She turned abruptly. " Will you kindly give 
Lieutenant Perry Miss Wentworth*s compliments, 
and tell him she desires an immediate interview 
with him and the coroner in the library? " 

"But," I stammered, "she doesn't!" 

Madelyn glared, and then continued as though I 
had not interrupted her. " They will probably take 
two of the policemen down-stairs with them. That 
will leave only one behind. If you can inveigle 
him outside, Nora, the obligation won't be forgot- 
ten f* 

" You speak as though I was a siren ! " I snapped. 



184 Mi88 Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" Promise him you will publish his picture in 
The Bugle in the morning/' said Madelyn impa- 
tiently. 

She opened the nearest door, and disaiq>eaFed 
behind it, as I returned to the music-room in my 
role of assumed messenger. , I managed to repeat 
Madelyn's instructions without so much as a qtuver 
at Lieutenant Perry's sudden scowl. With a nod 
to the coroner, he brushed past me at once. 

Madelyn's calculation proved uncannily co r rec t 
The two plain-clothesmen followed Coroner Smed- 
ley silently down the stairs in the lieutenant's wake. 
Only a red-faced roundsman was left twirling his 
stick disconsolately in the littered room. 

" Good evening! " I smiled. 

He glanced up with obvious welcome at the pros- 
pect of companionship. 

I plunged directly to the point. " This is a big 
case, Mr. Dennis," I began, noting with relief that 
he was a professional acquaintance of mine. " It 
ought to mean something to you, eh? " 

He grunted non-committally. 

" I say, have you a good picture of yourself at 
home?" 

Mr. Dennis looked interested. 

" That is, one which would be good enough for 
publication in The Bugle? ^* 

Mr. Dennis looked more interested. 




I SAW MADELYN STEP QtHETLY INTO THE BOOM WE HAD 
VACATED." 



'■■ u •: 



• • •■ ■ • 5 



I * 1 



■ n 



*i 



( ir 



The Bullet from Nowhere 185 



"Because if you have," I continued enticingly, 
** and will do me a favor, I will see that it is given 
a good position in to-morrow's story." 

"What is the favor?" 

" Oh, merely that you let me talk to you for 
ten minutes in the hall! A friend of mine wants 
a chance to look over this room without disturb- 



ance." 



« 



You mean Miss Mack?" asked Dennis, sus- 
piciously. 

I smiled. " That picture of yours would look 
mighty nice, with a quarter of a column write-up 
under it. I expect Mrs. Dennis would be so tickled 
that she would appreciate a present from me of 
twenty-five copies of the paper to send to her 
friends!" 

Dennis walked abruptly into the hall. " Come 
on ! " he snapped. 

As we reached the end of the corridor, I saw 
Madelyn step quietly into the room we had va- 
cated. 

I wondered curiously if Hilda Wentworth 
would rise to the occasion sufficiently to hold the 
attention of the suspicious Mr. Perry, and specu- 
lated grimly what would be the result if the lieu- 
tenant should return unexpectedly to the upper 
floor. My fears, however, proved unfounded. 
Before the ten minutes were over, Madelyn reap- 



186 Mi88 Madelyn Mack, Detective 

peared, beckoned to me pleasantly, and slipped a 
crumpled bill into Dennis' hand as she passed 
him. 

" ril look for that picture at the office, Mr. 
Dennis," I said cordially. And then I turned anx- 
iously to Madelyn. " Did you find anything ? " 

" Is it fate, or Providence, or just naturally 
Devil's luck that traps the transgressor ? " returned 
Madelyn irrelevantly. She was tapping a slender 
blue envelope. " Exhibits A and B in the case of 
Homer Hendricks," she continued. " A small jade 
ball, and a spoonful of tobacco ashes. They sound 
commonplace enough, don't they?" And she 
thoughtfully descended the stairs. 

At the door of the library she faced the group 
inside with a slight bow. The hum of conversation 
ceased. From an adjoining alcove. Miss Went- 
worth, nervously facing a battery of questions from 
Lieutenant Perry and the coroner, noted our ar- 
rival with an expression of hastily concealed relief. 
It was evident that the task of keeping the gentle- 
men of the law occupied had taxed the girl's nerves 
to the utmost. 

Grayson had taken a position as near the alcove 
as he could venture, and was glowering at her in- 
quisitors, apparently not caring whether they saw 
his scowls or not. 

" I will be obliged for a few moments' conversa- 



The Bullet from Nowhere 187 

tion, gentlemen ! " said Madelyn pleasantly. " A 
very few moments, I assure you. I will talk to Mr. 
Wilkins first, if I may." 

John Wilkins rose from his chair, as I found a 
vacant seat in the library, and joined Madelyn in 
the hall. In less than two minutes he returned, 
with his face wearing an expression of almost 
laughable bewilderment. 

" Evidently the famous Miss Mack does not be- 
lieve in lengthy cross-examinations," commented 
Miss Morrison as he resumed his chair. 

" She asked me just four questions," said Wil- 
kins dubiously, " and only two of them had to do 
with the affair up-stairs. She cut me short when I 
started the account of our finding the body." 

Lieutenant Perry, as though to show his disdain, 
deepened the rasp in his examination of Miss Went- 
worth as he saw Weston take Wilkins' place in the 
hall. 

Weston glanced at his watch as he returned. " It 
took me just one minute more than you to pass 
through the ordeal, old man," he confided to Wil- 
kins, with something like a grin. 

Lieutenant Perry stq)ped out of the alcove with 
a gesture of finality. 

" Have you a version of the case to g^ve to The 
Bugle, Lieutenant ? " I asked, as a ring at the door- 
bell and a shuffling of feet on the veranda an- 



188 Mi88 Madelyn Mack, Detective 

nounced the belated arrival of other members of 
the newspaper fraternity. 

The lieutenant darted a sullen glance in the di- 
rection of Hilda Wentworth. " You may say for 
me," he said acidly, " that, whether suicide or 
murder, a certain near relative of the dead man is 
holding back the truth, and, and — " his eyes trav- 
eled slowly around the room, " the police expect to 
find measures very shortly to make that person 
speak ! " 

A low cry broke from Hilda Wentworth. 
Darting across the room, she caught the lieuten- 
ant's arm imploringly. 

" Oh, please, sir, don't — don't — " 

" I hardly think you need alarm yourself, Miss 
Wentworth ! " 

Madelyn was smiling quietly from the doorway. 
" I trust. Miss Noraker," she continued, addressing 
me, " that The Bugle will do Miss Wentworth the 
justice, and myself the favor, of announcing that I 
am prepared to prove that no relative of Mr. Hen- 
dricks had any connection with his death, or pos- 
sesses any knowledge of how it was brought about! 
And furthermore, for Lieutenant Perry's peace of 
mind, you may add that it is a case not of suicide — 
but of murder ! " 

The lieutenant's face went a sudden, pasty yel- 
low. Madelyn slowly drew on her gloves. 



The Bullet from Nowhere 189 

" By the way, Lieutenant, if you and the coroner 
have time to meet me here at ten o'clock to- 
morrow morning, I will take pleasure in corrobo- 
rating my statements!" 

She bowed to the other occupants of the room. 
" I will also include in that invitation Miss Went- 
worth and the gentlemen who were present at the 
time of the murder." 

She stepped back, and, adroitly skirting the group 
of newly arrived newspaper men, ran lightly across 
the pavement to her car. 

At the steps of the motor I caught her. " Made- 
lyn, just one question, please! How in the na^e 
of Heaven could the murderer shoot, and then es- 
cape through a locked door ? " 

Madelyn drew down her veil wearily. 

" He didn't shoot ! " she said shortly. 

IV 

Hilda Wentworth, haggard-faced after a fe- 
verishly tossing night, was toying with her break- 
fast grapefruit and tea, which the motherly house- 
keeper had insisted on bringing to her room, when 
the bell of the telephone tinkled sharply. 

Miss Wentworth took down the receiver wear- 
ily; but, at the sound of the voice at the other end 
of the wire, she brightened instantly. 



190 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" Good morning ! This is Miss Mack. I am not 
going to ask you if you had a restful night*' 

" Restful night ! " the girl cried hysterically. 
" Two of those odious policemen have been patrol- 
ling the house constantly, and watching my room as 
though I would steal away with the family spoons 
if I had a ghost of a chance! " 

Miss Mack's exclamation was only partly audible, 
but the girl smiled wanly. 

" I shall be detained perhaps a half an hour 
longer than I expected this morning. Miss Went- 
worth. If you will explain this to Lieutenant 
Perry, and the other gentlemen, I will appreciate 
it." 

Miss Mack hung up the receiver abruptly. It 
was obvious that she was in a hurry. But there 
was an inflection in her tones that brought a new 
color to Hilda Wentworth's face, and she was sur- 
prised to find herself return to her breakfast with 
almost a relish. 

For a moment, after she had finished the call, 
Madelyn sat with a pen poised thoughtfully over 
a pad of writing paper. Then, tossing the pen 
aside, she turned to the telephone again. 

"Hello! Bugle office?" she snapped, as a be- 
lated click answered her call. " Oh, is that you, 
Nora? Can you give me a few moments? Good! 
I wish you would call at the office of Ambrose 



The Bullet from Nowhere 191 

Murray, the president of the Third National Bank, 
and tell him that you were sent by Miss Mack. He 
may, or may not, have certain information to give 
you. You will deliver his message to me at the 
Hendricks home at a quarter after ten. Wait for 
me outside. Do you understand — outside ? ** 

As the tall, old-fashioned clock in the library of 
the late Homer Hendricks rang out the stroke of 
half past ten, it gazed down on a group of six per- 
sons, whose attitudes presented an interesting study 
in contrasting emotions. 

In the corner nearest the door stood Lieutenant 
Perry and G>roner Smedley. The lieutenant had 
refused the offer of a chair, and the coroner, who 
worshipped at the Perry shrine for political rea- 
sons, essayed to copy the other's majesty of de- 
meanor, his smile of supreme boredom, and even his 
very attitude. 

Grayson had drawn Hilda Wentworth's chair 
thoughtfully into the shadow of a huge palm, and 
was bending over her in an effort to buoy her 
spirits, which was apparently so successful that 
Weston, seated with Wilkins on the opposite side 
of the room, scowled savagely. 

" Ten thirty! " snapped Mr. Perry, ostentatiously 
consulting the gold repeater, which the members of 
the detective department had presented to him on 



192 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

the occasion of his silver wedding anniversary. " I 
will give Miss Mack just five minutes more. I have 
work to do! " 

" The five minutes will not be necessary, Lieu- 
tenant," said a quiet voice from the hall, as Made- 
lyn and I paused in the doorway. 

" Quite dramatic ! " came from Mr. Perry. 

Madelyn's eyes swept the room. Her graceful 
serenity had disappeared in a sudden tenseness. 
" You will please follow me up-stairs," she said, 
moving back. 

" Up-stairs ? " growled Mr. Perry. 

Madelyn turned to the stairway without answer. 

Miss Wentworth and Grayson were the first to 
comply, and the lieutenant, observing that the 
others were joining them, brought up a sullen rear, 
with the coroner endeavoring to copy his appear- 
ance of contempt. 

Madelyn paused at the door of the music-room, 
and waited silently for us to enter. The shattered 
door had been temporarily repaired, and placed on 
a new set of hinges. Madelyn closed it, and stq>ped 
to the center of the room. She stood for a moment, 
staring abstractedly up at a brightly colored Tur- 
ner landscape. A silence crept through the apart- 
ment, so pregnant that even Lieutenant Perry 
squared his shoulders. 

" I am going to tell you the story of a tragedy," 



The Bullet from Nowhere 193 

began Madelyn, with her eyes still fixed on the land- 
scape as though studying its bold coloring. 

" In all of my peculiar experience I have never 
met with a crime so artistically conceived and so 
diabolically carried out. From a personal stand- 
point, I may even say that I owe the author my 
thanks for one of the most interesting problems 
which it has been my fortime to confront. In 
these days of bungled crime, it is a relief to cross 
wits with one who has really raised murder to a 
fine art ! " 

Her left hand mechanically, almost uncon- 
sciously, dropped a small round object into the 
palm of her right hand. It was a green jade 
ball. From somewhere in the room came a sud- 
den low sound like the hiss of a trampled 
snake. 

Madelyn's eyes dropped to the ball almost ca- 
ressingly. " I am now about to re-enact the drama 
of Mr. Homer Hendricks' murder. I hardly think 
it will be necessary to caution silence until I am 
quite through I " 

She stepped to the piano at the other end of the 
room, twirled the music stool a moment, and, care- 
fully inspecting its height like a musician critical 
of trifles, took her seat at the keyboard. 

Her hands ran lightly over the keys with the 
touch of the bom music-lover. Then, without pre- 



194 Mi88 Madelyn Mack, Detective 

amble, she broke into the storm scene from " Will- 
iam Tell." 

Miss Wentworth was gazing at Grayson with a 
sort of dumb wonder. The young man pressed her 
arm gently. 

The expression of superior boredom had entirely 
left Lieutenant Perry's ruddy features. 

Madelyn's fingers seemed fairly to race over the 
keys. The thundering music of Rossini rolled 
through the apartment. Madelyn was reaching the 
climax in that superb musical painting of the war 
of the elements. 

Again that low sibilant sound like a serpent's hiss 
sounded from somewhere in the taut-nerved audi- 
ence, to be drowned by the sharp, clear-cut report 
of a revolver! 

Madel)m's fingers wavered, her elbow fell with 
a sharp discord on the keys, and she staggered back 
from the stool. In the front of the piano, at a point 
almost directly opposite her left temple, a small 
hole, perhaps the diameter of a quarter, had opened 
in the elaborate carving, and from it curled a thin 
spiral of blue smoke! 

With a jagged splotch of powder extending from 
her temple to her cheek, Madelyn sprang to her 
feet. From the rear of the room, a man, crouching 
forward in his chair, darted toward the door. Lieu- 
tenant Perry's hand flashed from his pocket with 



The Bullet from Nowhere 195 

the instinct of the veteran policeman. At the end 
of his outflung arm frowned the blue muzzle of a 
revolver. 

" You may arrest Mr. Montague Weston for the 
murder of Homer Hendricks ! " came the quiet 
voice of Madelyn. 

The words, instead of a spur, acted with much 
the effect of a sledge-hammer on the agitated figure 
of Weston. For an instant he gazed wildly about 
the room like a man confronted with a ghastly 
specter. The steady coolness of purpose, that had 
marked his brilliant rise at the bar, had shriveled in 
the heart-stabbing moments of Madelyn's demon- 
stration. As Lieutenant Perry stretched a hand 
toward him, he fell in a sobbing heap at the officer's 
feet. 

Madelyn jerked her head significantly from the 
white, drawn face of Hilda Wentworth to Weston's 
moaning form. The lieutenant fastened his hand 
on the man's collar and dragged him to his feet as 
the coroner flung open the door. 

The suddenness of it all had gripped us as by a 
magnet. The creaking of a chair sounded in the 
tension with a sharpness that was almost painful. 
The denouement had occurred with the swiftness of 
a film from a moving picture machine — and was 
blotted out as swiftly as the lieutenant closed the 
door behind his cowering prisoner. 



196 Miss Madelyn Mack^ Detective 

Grayson breathed a long, deep sigh. 

" How, how in thunder, Miss Mack, did — *' 

Madelyn had resumed her toying with the green 
jade ball. With a gesture almost like that of a 
schoolmistress addressing a dense student, she 
stepped across to the piano, and inserted the ball in 
the small, round hole in the heavy carving, through 
which had floated the blue curl of smoke. It ex- 
actly matched six other balls of green jade, set into 
the panels in a fantastic ornamentation. 

" Before this instrument is used again," said 
Madelyn, as she turned, " I would recommend a 
thorough overhauling. Just behind the opening 
which I have filled is the muzzle of a revolver — 
loaded with a blank cartridge for this morning's 
purpose, but which has not always been so harmless. 

" From its trigger, you will find — as I assured 
myself last night — a wire spring connecting with 
one of the treble D flats on the keyboard. When 
Mr. Hendricks struck it in the overture of * Will- 
iam Tell,' and again when I repeated his action 
just now, the pressure of the key released the trig- 
ger of the weapon, and it was automatically ex- 
ploded. 

"When Weston attached the apparatus — your 
ten days' absence from the house, Miss Wentworth, 
giving him ample time — he used a paper substi- 
tute for the jade ball he had removed, and probably 



The Bullet from Nowhere 197 

took occasion, when he entered the room last night, 
to cover over the exposed opening in the panels. 

" Unfortunately for him, the imp of chance was 
dogging his trail. He dropped the jade ball — and 
the same perverse imp directed the hand of Neme- 
sis to it. 

" The psychological effect of my repetition of 
the crime, after the shock of the discovery of his 
apparatus, would have taxed a far stronger set of 
nerves than those of Mr. Weston I " 

She paused, and then added in a musing after- 
thought, " Perhaps, you can tell me, Mr. Grayson, 
what cynical philosopher has said that all women 
are fickle ? Mr. Weston happens to be an assiduous 
devotee of My Lady Nicotine. I fancy that he was 
so completely under her spell that he sought relief 
from the task of arranging his murder-spring in his 
favorite pipe. But she of Nicotine, perhaps in hor- 
ror at his meditated crime, jilted her slave. As he 
bent over his work his pipe bowl was tilted ever so 
slightly — and the ashes, which fell with her favor, 
again aided the imp of chance to lead me to his 
trail ! " 

Madelyn shrugged her shoulders as though she 
were quite through, and then, with a sudden sug- 
gestion, continued, " The motive ? What are the 
two greatest factors that sway men to evil? 

The first, of course, is greed. Weston, himself. 



it 



198 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

will have to supply the details of his betrayal of the 
trust of Homer Hendricks. It was not until Miss 
Noraker brought me, just before I entered the 
house this morning, certain confidential information 
as to the financial condition of Weston, that I was 
absolutely certain of this link in my chain of evi- 
dence. 

" Under an assumed name, he has been engineer- 
ing certain questionable mining companies, and had 
even persuaded the man who was his life-long 
friend to invest a considerable share of his fortune 
in one of his projects. Faced by the imminence of 
exposure, and ruin, and unable to conceal longer 
the truth from Homer Hendricks, Weston's devil- 
ish ingenuity suggested the death of the man who 
had trusted him — and the means of carrying it 
out." 

Madelyn walked slowly to the door, and then 
turned. 

" I have forgotten the second of the two mo- 
tives that I referred to. Of course, it is the factor 
of jealousy, or perhaps love. May I mention your 
name. Miss Wentworth? 

" Goaded by the fear of losing you, he pilfered 
one of your gloves, and dropped it where a school- 
boy was bound to see its connection with the crime. 
I daresay that he would have offered to establish 
your innocence on your promise to marry him. He 



The Bullet from Nowhere 



199 



could have done it in any one of a dozen ways, of 
course, without implicating himself." 

Madelyn gave a sudden glance toward Wilkins 
and myself. 

" I think that Mr. Grayson wishes to discuss that 
factor of love somewhat further with Miss Went- 
worth ! " 

As we stepped into the hall after her, she softly 
closed the door of the music-room. 



V 



THE PURPLE THUMB 



Forty girls, from the little blonde, with the 
puckery lips and the perky, big red bow over her 
left ear, to the soulful brunette on the other end, 
with the flat, ratless hair, and the Madonna eyes, 
glided down the stage in a riot of buff and laven- 
der draperies, very-much-agitated, very-high-heeled 
pumps, very-well-filled silk stockings — and a fusil- 
lade of devastating smiles. 

Peter P. Peterson, theatrical magnate, from his 
vantage-point at the rear of the house, let a twinkle 
slip into his little, round eyes, almost as bright as 
the huge diamond-stud on his crumpled shirt-front 
He was acclaimed a connoisseur of catchy choruses, 
and catchy chorus-girls, by the ultra-critical judges 
of Broadway, and the finale of the first act of that 
eccentric musical comedy, "The Girl from Mil- 
waukee," was adding another notch to his care- 
fully nursed reputation. 

200 




The PJirple Thumb 201 

Peter P. Peterson dtepened his twinkle until it 
over-shadowed the flash of his diamond-stud as 
the forty girls on the stage broke thieir rear rank 
in a gliding side movement. Through the aper- 
ture, a dozen chorus-boys, dressed in old Dutch 
burgher style, staggered on to the stage, bearing 
on their padded shoulders a black-lettered barrel, 
labeled " Lager." 

With a crash, the orchestra burst into the chorus 
of " That Old Milwaukee Brew." The forty girls 
swung forty steins above their heads in the excess 
of forty different thirsts — and charged the barrel 
like an army at an enemy's ramparts. 

From its top, a tall stein slowly raised itself. 
For a moment it stood poised, and then its sides 
gradually dissolved — revealing within, in a soft 
golden brown glow, the face of a young woman, 
smiling at the audience for all the world as though 
she were a bewildering fantasy of the brew. 

The orchestra glided into the popular strains of 
" I'll Drink to the Girl Who Drinks With Me," 
the mellow baritone of Archibald Qavering, the 
leading man, caught up the words, and the refrain 
was answered by the rich soprano of the girl in 
the stein — Ariel Burton, the " star," who had 
sprung into the Broadway horizon six months 
before — and out-dazzled all the other dazzling 
stars in that earthly firmament ever since. 



202 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Five times the curtain rose and fell. It was a 
record-breaking hit. Peter P. Peterson waddled 
contentedly back to the box-office to receive the 
congratulations of the critics, and double his ad- 
vertising space in the morning papers, and arrange 
for the announcement — " Sold Out for a Solid 
Five Weeks in Advance.'* 

In the theatre, the applause was still continuing, 
rising and falling like surf. Still imprisoned in the 
stein, Miss Burton had tried to throw a kiss with 
her cramped hands; but the bored first-nighters, 
with their palates, for once, thoroughly tickled, 
were not satisfied. 

The curtain ascended again, with the flushing 
" star," released from her imprisonment, stepping 
toward the footlights, with one of her jerky, char- 
acteristic bows. An usher was extending a huge, 
satin-tied bouquet. 

" White orchids ! " gasped a dowager, with her 
pearl lorgnette riveted to her eyes. 

" Worth every cent of a hundred dollars I " 
breathed the wide-eyed debutante at her side. " ITl 
wager she bought them herself for an advertise- 
ment ! " 

The dowager glared in scorn, and pointed a fat 
finger, almost imperceptibly, toward the occupants 
of an opposite box. 

"Bought it herself! It came from Sewell Col- 



The Purple Thumb 203 

lins ! Can't you see her smiling up at him ? Fancy 
an old man like that ! They say he is idiotic over 
her!'' 

" But, surely, Auntie, there is nothing serious 
between them?" 

" Serious ? The old fool is going to marry her 
— and they say he is to settle a cool million on her 
the day of the wedding ! Why, he gave her a ten- 
thousand-dollar car last week, and celebrated the 
occasion with a champagne supper that Bobby 
Waters said was a disgrace even to Broadway! 
But, then, that is what all those show-girls are 
looking for — a millionaire, the older the better ! " 

" She is pretty, Auntie — very pretty — and 
young — and — and she doesn't look like a bad 
woman ! " 

The debutante sighed. She, also, was very 
young, and pretty — and innocent. 

On the stage, Ariel Burton was stepping back, 
•with the orchids held close to her bosom. The cur- 
tain was already descending. The girl's eyes 
dropped carelessly to her bouquet, and then of a 
sudden her face went white — white as the nestling 
orchids. 

Even under her rouge, her emotion was apparent 
to those in the boxes. The curtain reached the 
stage with a thud. Behind it, Ariel Burton had 
crumpled to the floor. One hand was clenched 



204 Miss Madelyn Mack^ Detective 

about the stem of the orchids until her nails had 
entered her palm. 

Madel3m Mack pillowed her head against the 
back of her chair, drawn into the most shadowy 
corner of our box, and smiled a trifle wearily. Her 
hands toyed aimlessly with the handle of her ebony 
opera glasses, that matched her rather severdy 
tailored black evening gown, and, when I glanced 
curiously toward her, I saw that her eyes had 
closed. 

I knew the s)miptoms. In spite of the record- 
breaking applause sweeping through the theatre, 
she was — bored. My question was politely per- 
functory. 

" And how is your Royal Highness enjoying the 
evening ? " 

She opened her eyes far enough to send me one 
of those quizzical, half-veiled glances, which al- 
ways made me feel like a pig-tailed school- 
girl. 

" That blue silk of yours, Nora, is unusually be- 
coming! Mr. Preston should feel decidedly com- 
plimented ! " 

" I asked how the play was appealing to you ? " 
I retorted, severely. 

Her eyes closed again. The contrast between 
the dark, curling lashes and the masses of golden- 



The Purple Thumb 205 

bronze hair, piled high above her white forehead 
in the peculiar French fashion she always affected, 
regardless of prevailing styles, was almost start- 
lingly picturesque. I have always maintained that 
Madelyn Mack made too little of her personal ap- 
pearance. Now, if half of her attractions had been 
possessed by an obscure newspaper girl, like my- 
self, with a ruined complexion, which no veil could 
protect, and little, work-haggard lines creeping 
under her eyes in spite of the dollars squeezed from 
a slender pay envelope into the tills of greedy 
masseurs. 

" Thank you for your implied compliment. Miss 
Noraker!" 

I started guiltily. 

" When one's companion has been trying unsuc- 
cessfully to veil her nervousness all evening," mur- 
mured Madelyn, " one is forced to the impoliteness 
of reading her thoughts. I shouldn't worry too 
much about Thorny Preston, if I were you I " 

"I'm not!" 

" In the first place, a successful playright like 
Mr. Preston — this is his third effort, is it not ? — 
has a multitude of other duties on the first night 
of a new production besides playing gallant to two 
forlorn women! And, in the second place, if he 
has fallen victim to the charms of Miss Ariel 
Burton — " 



206 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 



it 



But he hasn't ! " And then I added hastily, 
and, if he has, why should I care? " 

Exactly ! " said Madelyn easily. " Then why 
have you been allowing it to torment you for the 
last two weeks? " 

" Because it's an outrage ! " I flared. I am al- 
ways a volcano — when the spark is applied in the 
right place! 

" There is absolutely nothing between Mr. 
Thorndyke Preston and myself, except a good- 
fellow comradeship. You know the kind — where 
a woman meets a man on a man's basis — takes 
long walks with him, and talks over his work — 
and closes her eyes and stops her ears whenever 
she thinks of a home and kiddies! Oh, I'm not 
blaming Thorny ! But the way that Burton woman 
is throwing herself at him is nothing short of 
scandalous — and you know it as well as I do! 
She is keeping old Sewell Collins dangling at her 
apron-strings for the benefit of his money bags, 
and at the same time is trying to inveigle Thorny 
Preston into making a fool of himself! 

" Oh, I mean just that, Miss Madelyn Mack — 
and I won't take back a word! But then, she is 
only twenty-one, and has a smile like Cleopatra — 
and I am twenty-eight, with crow's feet, and grey 
hairs — I found five last night! — And — Thorny 
is just like other men, I suppose, where a pretty 



The Purple Thumb 207 

face is concerned. And — and — a good- fellow 
comradeship isn't so very satisfying — to a man — 
is it?" 

I finished, gasping, with a dart at my handker- 
chief, and my face that awfully vivid red, like 
pickled beets, which I have never been able to sub- 
due whenever I pass a certain degree of excite- 
ment 

For a moment, I felt Madelyn's steady eyes sur- 
veying me, with just a hint of wonder at my out- 
break, and — and — yes, — pity! I hate S3rmpa- 
thy — from a woman! 

'Twas then that the curtain rolled up again on 
the incident of the white orchids. 

We were both leaning over the railing when the 
descending canvas hid Ariel Burton's swaying 
form. 

Madelyn slipped back into her chair. Above her 
eyes a single deep line had appeared, like the swift 
course of a pencil across a blank paper. Her eyes 
closed again; but I knew that her nerves had 
sprung to a sudden tension, and I could guess that 
she was trying to supply the other half of the 
incident which the curtain had blotted from 
us. 

There came a low knock at the door of our box. 
I gave a muffled invitation to enter, for my sixth 
sense — how many senses does a woman have? — 



208 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

told me who it was. Thomdyke Preston stood 
staring down at us with a flush. 

He tried to conceal his emotion, but Thorny 
never could hide anything, and the effort only 
served to emphasize his nervousness. 

" I have a conwnission for you, Miss Mack, if 
you will accept it. Mr. Peterson would like to sec 
you on the stage ! " 

Madelyn Mack's eyes wandered over his face, 
and his flush deepened. " Is it — Miss Bur- 
ton ? " 

" It is in connection with Miss Burton. You 
saw her faint, of course. Peterson fancies there is 
something queer. He is very excitable anyway, 
you know, and — " 

" But I fail to see where my services oome in. 
Miss Burton is recovering, is she not ? " 

" Yes — but — oh, hang it all ! — please go 
back, Miss Mack! Peterson is getting on my 
nerves ! " 

Thorny's eyes turned to me pleadingly. " You 
ask her, Nora ! " 

I smiled indifferently. " I fancy that Miss Mack 
can make up her mind without my assistance ! " 
I turned, with a shrug, to gaze over the audience; 
but, out of the comer of my eye, I could sec 
Thomy's lips tighten. If he had been alone, I 
know he would have sworn — and a woman who 



The Purple Thumb 209 

can make a man swear has not quite lost her power 
over him! 

Madelyn rose with a gesture of submission. ''If 
you will accompany me, Nora — " 

I felt Thomy's eyes again appealing to me, but 
I kept my gaze steadily averted. I smoothed down 
my skirts, and caught Madelyn's arm. Thorny led 
the way down the thick-carpeted corridor which 
led behind the boxes to the stage door. 

He was a good-looking chap, with a grave, stu- 
dious expression — which I always accused him of 
cultivating for effect — and the snugness of his 
evening clothes showed off his athletic shoulders to 
excellent advantage. His bearing radiated that 
indefinable suggestion of success after heart-grip- 
ping failures, for Thorny had fought long and hard 
for every dollar of the Niagara-stream of royalties 
now flooding him. Our own acquaintance had 
begun in the days when he was doing a " Man 
About Town " column for the Sun, at a very 
modest salary, and ni do him the justice to say 
that his success had not turned his head. 

It had not even brought him the luxury of a 
valet! Once he had cautiously broached the sug- 
gestion to me, when he had received twenty-five 
thousand dollars from "Mademoiselle Satan;" 
but, after my stony silence, he had never repeated 
it, and, at the next bachelor dinner in his rooms, 



210 MUs Madelyn Mack, Detective 

I noticed that the valet had not made his appear- 
ance. Fancy Thorny with a valet — when I had 
to press my skirts with an electric iron, attached 
to my single socket, when the suspicious landlady 
was away, and burning my hands at every step on 
the stairs in the fear of discovery! 

Thorny held open the stage-door, and waited 
until both of us had preceded him into the clatter 
of scene-shifting. With a side glance, I saw him 
linger behind, and felt a tug on my sleeve. 

" I am glad you came to-night, Nora ! " 

"Are you?" I said coldly, with my eyes on a 
shirt-sleeved carpenter nailing into place the grey 
pillar of a Swiss hotel. " By that, you mean I'll 
give your old play a nice send off in the Bugle, I 
suppose? " 

I'll own it was nasty, but I was in the mood for 
nastiness. I tried hard to look away. 

" You'll regret those words, Nora." 

I was already beginning to, then ! If I had only 
missed that glimpse of him in the park in Ariel 
Burton's new car, bending over her furs like a 
school-boy lover! 

" Save your tragedy for your plays ! " I said 
crossly. " Do you realize that you are letting Miss 
Mack take care of herself? " 

He strode toward the little, lithe figure ahead of 
us. For an instant, my better nature swept to the 



The Purple Thumb 211 

front. I had already opened my lips to do humble 
penitence, when he whirled with two little red 
spots, hardly larger than quarters, burning his 
cheeks. 

" So you are jealous of Ariel Burton, are you? 
And I had thought you the one woman above such 
emotions — who could look under the surface, and 
know a man for what he is! Funny, isn't it, how 
blind a chap can be — and what a bump it takes 
to make him see light ? " 

I could have screamed. I knew the tears were 
in my eyes, and I clenched my hands to force them 
back. Jealous! And Thorny Preston actually 
with the nerve to throw it in my teeth! For one 
rioting moment I meditated a swift flight from the 
stage, leaving him and Madelyn to their own de- 
vices. And then I stumbled chokingly after them. 
After all, I was possessed of the full measure of 
a woman's curiosity. 

But I would make Mr. Thomdyke Preston re- 
pent, never fear ! I could picture him on his knees 
already! A stage-hand crashed into me, and I 
ducked barely in time to save my new blue silk 
opera cap, and, incidentally, my head, from a de- 
scending plank. 

When I recovered my balance, and readjusted my 
cap, my blood was somewhat cooled — and Made- 
lyn Mack and Thorny had reached the stocky fig- 



212 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

ure of Peterson. The latter bowed with a hasty 
attempt at cordiality to me as I joined them — 
Peterson was oily affability from his patent leather 
tips to his brown toupee whenever a newspaper re- 
porter was in hailing distance! 

Just across from us was the portable stage 
dressing-room which had been erected in the left 
wing for the accommodation of Miss Burton. Un- 
less special quarters were fitted up for her on the 
stage she wouldn't play, you know — and all the 
rest of the high and mighty threats which go witii 
newly created stardom! 

Once the door was shoved open far enough for 
us to see Miss Burton before her toilet-table, with 
her hair down, and her shoulders wrapped in a 
crimson silk negligee, almost the color of blood — 
she always affected the most out-of-the-ordinary 
shades! We could see the back of her white- 
capped, white-aproned maid, bending over a long 
line of gowns and petticoats against the wall. 

Two or three minutes later, two of the stage- 
hands knocked at the door, and dragged out a 
trunk. Miss Burton was still in her negligee, al- 
though her hair had been put up. Once afterward, 
we heard the actress' voice raised peevishly, and 
the maid replying with the discreet humbleness of 
her class. 

Presently you will see my purpose in recounting 



The Purple Thumb aS 

these details, apparently so trivial. We were to 
find that nothing was trivial or unworthy of notice 
in the amazing puzzle into which we were all so 
soon to be plunged. 

With much nervous rubbing of his hands, and 
much nervous clearing of his throat, Peterson was 
beginning the statement of his purpose in the stun- 
moning of Madel)m, when I came in earshot of 
the trio. 

** I am not a fanciful man, Miss Mack — I have 
made my success because I wasn't! But there is 
something deucedly queer in it all — deucedly 
queer! And Ariel Burton toppling over like a 
sixteen-year-old school-miss, on top of everything 
else, and throwing us all into a panic, and — " 

** Will you please start at the beginning, Mr, 
Peterson, and put what you have to say in a busi- 
nesslike way ? " interrupted Madelyn impatiently. 

" That is what I am trying to do ! " said Peter- 
son, scowling at Thorny, who was walking nerv- 
ously back and forth behind us. ** The first of those 
letters came last week, just after dress-rehearsal. 
It simply told her that she would never finish her 
first performance in the piece ! " 

Madelyn's eyes narrowed. "Typewritten?" 

Peterson nodded. "And unsigned. It was 
worded rather oddly, as though there had been 
other letters to the same effect; but Miss Burton 



214 MUs Madelyn Mack, Detective 

said not. It impressed me that the writer was 
hinting at blackmail; but he didn't say how or 
why. I am assuming that it was a man, although 
I don't know why I should, except that it didn't 
sound like a woman, you know 1 " Peterson paused, 
still rubbing his red hands together. 

" There was another letter a good deal like the 
first — and then that fainting spell to-night" 
Peterson's little, roimd eyes fixed themselves sud- 
denly on Madelyn's face. " That girl was scared 
when she fell over on the stage — scared I I know 
the signs ! " 

" Have you any of those letters with you? " 
" I'll get them for you later. There was one 
funny thing, though, in both of them. At the 
bottom of each a thumb had been drawn — an 
ordinary thumb — and just a little of its top edged 
with purple ink. There was nothing under it — 
just the thumb, with the purple edge." Peterson 
broke off abruptly. " I want you to stay back here 
on the stage the rest of the show. Miss Mack — and 
sort of keep an eye on Miss Burton — you know 
how — and, of course, she needn't know ! I'll pay 
you whatever you ask! It's probably a crank, and 
I am foolish to pay any attention to it — and all 
that — but I have a lot at stake in this show — and 
I'm nervous — nervous as an old woman! Now, 
please don't say you won*t do it ! " 



The Purple Thumb 215 

" Was there anything in Miss Burton's bouquet 
to-night — a note of any kind, I mean ? " asked 
Madelyn abruptly. 

" A note ? " Peterson considered. " I can find 
out easily enough, I suppose. The flowers came 
from Sewell Collins, you know. They say there 
is a certain florist over on the Avenue that he keeps 
busy supplying Miss Burton, without regard to the 
size of the bills. Ten-dollar-a-dozen roses by the 
dray-load, and so on ! " The padded shoulders of 
Peterson's evening coat shrugged expressively. 

" But, I say," he continued suddenly, " Preston 
there can tell you about any note, though. He was 
the first to reach her when she fainted." 

Thorny stopped in his nervous pacing. 

" What was that you were saying, Peterson ? " 

Peterson stared, and repeated his suggestion. 

Thorny shrugged. " No, Miss Mack, there was 
nothing in the bouquet — nothing, I assure you! 
I picked it up, myself ! " 

He resumed his nervous patrol. Madelyn turned 
with another question to Peterson. A call-boy 
knocked at Ariel Burton's door, and, beyond the 
curtain, we could hear the orchestra swinging into 
action. 

I stooped to fasten my slipper — but the bow 
was never more secure. On the floor I had seen 
a narrow white card that had fluttered from 



216 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Thorny's pocket. On its upper side a human thumb 
had been crudely traced, its edge smeared with 
purple ink I Nothing else — except that the white 
petal of an orchid was still clinging to it 

I slipped it into my glove. Of course it had 
been concealed in Ariel Burton's bouquet Thorny 
Preston had lied — deliberately lied! 

II 

By the sudden hush of the orchestra, and its 
abrupt swing into the opening bars of a conven- 
tional musical comedy ballet-number, I knew that 
the curtain was rising on the second act. 

Almost at once, the door of Ariel Burton's 
dressing-room opened, and she stepped out in a 
velvet traveling suit of royal purple with its acces- 
sories an exact match, from her purple suede boots 
to her purple wrist bag, purple parasol, and even 
the purple willow plumes on her hat. Stunning — 
if you have superlatives to spare! 

For a moment my absorption in another woman's 
dress blinded me to the other details of the scene. 
I awoke from my trance to see Thorny Preston, 
roused thoroughly out of his preoccupation, step- 
ping toward her, with a silly grin that fairly made 
me itch to shake him! He caught her arm, with 
an air of proprietorship, and they walked to the 



The Purple Thumb 217 

other end of the stage, conversing in whispers. I 
saw Thorny bow as her cue came, and then, turn- 
ing, take her hand again and press it — yes, actu- 
ally press it! — while she lingered, keeping the 
whole scene waiting. 

He saw my eyes fixed on him as he stepped 
back toward her dressing-room, and he grinned 
cheerfully, without even the grace to blush. I 
turned with a contemptuous shrug, and plunged 
into a conversation with Peterson so lively that 
that gentleman's little eyes opened wide. We had 
not been on congenial terms since that day when 
my signed article in the Bugle had flayed him for 
ticket-scalping. 

A slow, heavy step on the planks of the stage 
behind us interrupted me in the midst of a par- 
ticularly inane witticism. A fat-jowled, double- 
chinned man, with a monocle dangling from under 
the lapel of his evening coat, stared at us, with a 
very slight, very stiff-necked inclination of his 
head. 

Peterson's cordiality, however, could not have 
been exceeded had the other salaamed to the dusty 
boards. It was my first good view of Sewell 
Collins at close range, and I improved the oppor- 
tunity as Peterson seized the other's fish-cold hand 
and swung it up and down like a pump-handle. 

Some biographer had once said that Sewell 



218 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Collins had begun his pyrotechnical life as a 
molder's apprentice in a steel foundry — and pre- 
sumably laid the foundation of his millions from 
his savings on six dollars a week. I had heard 
of that kind of men, but I had never seen one 
before — and I was disappointed. I looked in 
vain for anything remarkable about Sewell Collins 
that would explain his Aladdin-rise, but -there was 
nothing — nothing at all masterful or even par- 
ticularly shrewd. 

Instead, he looked like any other much-moneyed, 
much-massaged, much-pampered old man — ex- 
cept, of course, for the tell-tale trail of the expen- 
sive tenderloin on his pudgy face, which even the 
steam-cloths of the masseur could not quite remove. 
From the Broadway tales of his^ spending abilities 
I was half expecting to see crumply yellow-back 
bills sticking out of all his pockets, and fluttering 
to the floor as he walked. But either he had not 
been immersed long enough in his customary cham- 
pagne bath, or he was suspicious of his present 
company ! 

Sewell Collins had timed his arrival to a nicety. 
Peterson, was still in the throes of his pump-handle 
greetings when Ariel Burton descended from the 
"property" automobile, in which she had made 
her exit from the stage as a brewery-heiress, pur- 
sued by a penniless Belgian count, determined to 



The Purple Thumb 219 

marry her millions if he had to imprison her in his 
little, old, two-by-four castle to do so ! 

Collins wrenched away from Peterson's grasp, 
and hastened to meet her, with a fawning grin that 
would have promptly convinced any fair miifded 
judge of his lunacy. (Why is it that an actress, 
with just one belladonna smile, can reduce the 
whole masculine sex, from the college rah-rah boy 
to the old man, with a foot-and-a-half in the grave, 
to abject senility?) 

Thorny Preston was something like a yard 
ahead of him, however. I saw Collins' heavy- 
lidded eyes gleam as Thorny blocked his path — 
and then Miss Burton turned away from Mr. 
Preston as coolly as though he had been a post, 
and caught both dt Sewell Collins' hands ! Thorny 
stood as motionless as a statue. 

I knew that in another minute I would be snick- 
ering out loud, and, even as I turned my head, I 
realized that Thorny had seen my convulsed fea- 
tures, and was biting his lips. Turned down for 
a stage-door "John," with a few dozen millions! 
It was — delicious! 

Ariel Burton dismissed Sewell Collins at her 
dressing-room, and softly closed the door behind 
her. The much-millionaired Mr. Collins seated his 
Midas-form on a ninety-eight-cent pine chair, 
without a back, and stared at the door like a 



220 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

trained bull-dog, waiting for its mistress to reap- 
pear. 

I strolled over to Madelyn Mack, who had been 
standing somewhat apart, alternately gazing at a 
group of chorus-girls, awaiting their cue, and at 
a trio of perspiring stage-hands, already lifting the 
back of the next scene into place. Apparently, she 
had not found the slightest interest in the happen- 
ings before Miss Burton's dressing-room. 

But you never can tell where Madelyn's thoughts 
are from the direction of her eyes. As I paused 
at her side, she said in a low tone, " Will you 
kindly give me that card which dropped from Mr. 
Preston's pocket ? " 

"What card?*' I evaded. 

" Don't be foolish, Nora ! " 

There was nothing else to do. I extended it to 
her with a shrug, and watched her with a little 
catch as she sauntered behind an unused " drop," 
and stood staring down at the cardboard. 

Through the thin walls of the dressing-room I 
could hear the drone of voices — twice the tones 
of Ariel Burton, in a sharp, nagging key, and once 
the voice of the French maid, answering with a 
tired drag. 

The door of the dressing-room opened. A 
white, lace-capped head appeared, two slender, 
black-sateen-waisted shoulders, a pair of tiny- 



The Purple Thumb 221 

heeled slippers, and, above them, a trim, ankle- 
length skirt, and a coquettish, lace-trimmed 
apron. 

Miss Burton's French maid swept a pair of large, 
•blue-black eyes around our group, and tripped 
down the stairs to the double tier of women's 
dressing-rooms below. She was gone perhaps two, 
certainly not over three, minutes. The door of 
the dressing-room remained closed. Evidently 
Miss Burton was finishing her change of costume 
with her own hands. 

When the maid returned, the call-boy, with the 
*' star's " next cue, met her as she was re-entering 
the dressing-room. On the stage we could hear 
the swish of gliding J^umps, above the muffled 
strains of a waltz-nun:^r, and could see the chan- 
ging blue and violet rays of the spot-light, shadow- 
ing the whirling forms of the DeWeese sisters, 
acrobatic dancers. 

The maid opened the dressing-room door, 
nodded to the call-boy, with a flash of her black 
eyes — a French girl would die of ennui if she 
couldn't flirt! — and whisked her skirts from our 
gaze. 

The dancers on the stage made their exit, pant- 
ing. There was a lull. It was Miss Burton's turn 
to make her next bow to the audience. 

The door of the dressing-room opened again. 



222 Mist Madelyn Mack, Detective 

and the maid swept a pair of puzzled eyes in our 
direction. 

" Mademoiselle Burton has already gone on zc 
stage ? Oui ? " 

" Certainly not ! " Peterson snapped. 

The girl's bewilderment deepened. 

" Tell her she must hurry ! " the manager added. 

" But, Messieur, where ees she ? She ees not in 
ze dressin'-room ! " 

" Ridiculous ! " Peterson brushed past the 
maid's figure, and stepped into Miss Burton's 
littered sanctum. 

Even to a novice it was apparent that the stage 
was unusually quiet. The call-boy appeared again, 
dishevelled. 

" Say, Mr. Clavering can't make up lines all 
night ! Where's Miss Burton ? " 

Peterson's head jerked out of the dressing-room. 
He raised a limp hand, and beckoned as though he 
could not speak. 

Madelyn caught his arm. "What is wrong?" 

Peterson found his voice, in a curious mumble. 
" She is — gone — gone! " 

The manager's knees sagged, and he gripped the 
wall. 

" Say, Mr. Clavering can't make up lines all 
night ! " the call-boy repeated shrilly. 

Madel)m pushed past Peterson, and her eyes 



The Purple Thumb 2^ 

swept the ten- foot-square room behind him — the 
bird's-eye maple toilet-table, the chair before it, 
with the blood-red silk kimono tossed over its 
back, the huge trunk in the corner, the little wri- 
ting desk and rocker, the long line of gowns 
across two sides. 

There was no ceiling. The walls had been 
erected a height of perhaps ten feet above the 
stage, and an electric wire strung over them, with 
two hanging bulbs, one over the toilet table and 
another over the desk. A square Navajo rug cov- 
ered the center of the floor. Despite the temporary 
nature of the apartment and the board walls, Miss 
Burton had succeeded in giving it several home- 
like touches. 

There was but one door — that before us, 
through which we had seen the actress enter the 
room. Other form of exit was, of course, out of 
the question. An agile person, by standing on the 
trunk, might have scrambled over the walls, and 
dropped. But such a proceeding would have been 
in plain view of all of us. 

Peterson drew a moist hand over his eyes, and 
gripped Madelyn Mack's shoulders, still in a daze. 

" She's not here ! " 

" That is evident ! " said Madelyn, impatiently. 

" But we saw her come in ! " Peterson was 
mouthing his words. " And she did not go out 1 " 



224 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" Quite so ! " agreed Madelyn. 

Peterson blinked violently, and made a gurgling 
sound in his throat as though he were choking. 

Behind me, Sewell Collins and Thorny Preston 
were wedged into the doorway. The face of Col- 
lins was blanched an ash-grey, even to the little, 
pudgy bags under his eyes. Drops of perspiration 
were beading Thomy's forehead. 

Over their shoulders, the French maid was peer- 
ing at us with terror-widened eyes. One of her 
hands had caught Collins' arm, although neither 
appeared conscious of the fact. 

Madelyn stepped toward the heavy trunk. It 
was not locked, and the cover swung easily back. 
I caught hold of one end of the upper tier of com- 
partments, and we lifted it to the floor. Below 
was a mass of neatly folded gowns, dozens of them, 
it seemed to me, reaching clear to the top. We 
dumped them out rather ruthlessly — but there was 
nothing beneath. 

We stared at one another, with the same un- 
spoken thought. It was the only possible place of 
concealment the room afforded! Why, it was — 
uncanny! I caught myself glancing fearfully 
around us, as though I, too, would be caught up 
into thin air, and whisked into some strange realm 
of the Fourth Dimension, for instance! (Wher- 
ever and whatever that is!) 



The Purple Thumb ^ 

I turned my bewildered eyes above me. The 
huge flies of the theatre, far up under the roof, 
were swaying lazily, perhaps twenty-five feet away. 
Through the intervening space there was absolutely 
no connection with the thin-partitioned room 
below. 

Madelyn seized the end of the rug, jerked it 
back, and scrutinized the planks beneath. Peter- 
son, still in his uncertain daze, staggered to the 
trunk, and tugged it aside. But the floor showed 
no hint of opening from wall to wall. Not a board 
was disturbed. 

" We saw her come in ! " Peterson stuttered 
again. " And she did not go out ! " 

His eyes wavered toward each of us in turn, but 
saw nothing but a blankness as utter as his own. 
He tottered to the trunk, sank down on to it — a 
wilted rag of a man. 

The call-boy shoved his head under Thomy's 
arm with his staccato refrain. " I say, Mr. Claver- 
ing can't be making up lines all night ! " 

" Shut up ! " Thorny growled. 

Madelyn turned. " Has Miss Burton an under- 
study?" 

"Of course — that is, I suppose Miss Hunt — 
but surely you don't mean — " 

" You'd better get her — if you intend to finish 
the show ! " 



226 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Thorny glanced at Peterson, but the manager 
was huddled back on the trunk, helpless. 

He whirled to the call-boy. 

" Tell 'em to ring down the curtain, and bring 
Miss Hunt to me! " 

He hesitated, stared at the crumpled figure of 
the manager, shrugged again. " I suppose there 
is nothing else for it ! " He stepped back reluc- 
tantly. " ril announce that Miss Burton is ill, that 
she cannot resume her role ; that the play will con- 
tinue with Miss Isabelle Hunt in her part ! " 

His shoulders stiffened (Thorny always could 
rise to an emergency) ; but he did not move. It 
was as though he, too, were held to the spot, like 
the rest of us, by the weird fascination of it all. 

" For God's sake, Miss Mack, what has hap- 
pened ? " Thomy's voice was husky. 

Madelyn was toying with a hair-brush on the 
toilet-table. Impulsively I stepped forward. The 
card that had come with Miss Burton's bouquet 
had fallen to the floor. The six of us, grouped 
in the dressing-room, formed a perfect circle about 
the bit of pasteboard, with its curious, purple- 
edged thumb. 

Suddenly I checked myself, drew back. As 
clearly as though Madelyn had given the spoken 
command that stopped my movement, I knew that 
she intended another hand than mine to recover 



The Purple Thumb 227 

the dropped card, knew that she had cast it in our 
midst with deliberate purpose. 

Sewell Collins stirred, stooped mechanically. 

" I believe this fell from your bag, Miss Mack." 
The pudgy lines of his features were unchanged. 
His heavy-lidded eyes blinked rather listlessly. 

" Thanks," said Madelyn perfunctorily. 

In the background. Thorny Preston's face had 
gone chalk-white. His right hand flashed to a 
side pocket of his coat, apparently felt an empty 
lining, and dropped to his side. 

Abruptly he turned to the door, pushed it open, 
and, without a word to us, strode out on to the 
stage. 

A cry cut the silence, and ended in a choke. The 
French maid had fallen to her knees, gasping 
hysterically. 



Ill 



It was Peterson who first spied the golden but- 
terfly. 

Crouched on the edge of the trunk, his stare had 
probably swept the glittering ornament on the floor 
a dozen times before he mustered sufficient interest 
to slip down from his seat and close his fingers 
over It. 

We saw him turn it over absently. Then he 



228 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

raised his head with a ragged, little laugh and 
tossed it on to the writing desk. I picked up the 
ornament idly in my turn — a cunningly fashioned 
little affair, perhaps an inch and a half in length, 
representing a butterfly with wings outstretched. 
It was surprisingly heavy, too, with the weight of 
solid gold, probably a trinket from one of those 
exclusive Fifth Avenue shops, which make even a 
millionaire arch his eyebrows. 

But I could see no hint of its use. Certainly it 
was not intended for a brooch or a clasp, for there 
was no sign of pin. I shrugged, balancing it nerv- 
ously in my fingers. 

There came a strained silence, broken only by 
the sobs of the maid. We were rather avoiding 
one another's eyes, most of us gazing vacantly at 
the floor, a curious sense of unrest, vague, elusive, 
in the air. I drew my shoulders together. It was 
— cold! And then I realized it was the chill of 
fear — the fear of the unseen, the unknown. And 
I divined that it was stealing upon all of us. 

And yet a hundred feet away, a thousand shoul- 
ders were laughter-shaking at the mirth of a 
painted stage! 

Miss Burton's understudy had probably risen to 
the emergency. In fact. Thorny Preston, appear- 
ing in the doorway, jerkily explained as much. I 
could see that his hands were clenched. 




The Purple Thumb 229 

Thorny's voice trailed to a pause ; he shifted his 
feet awkwardly. "The police — you think per- 
haps we ought to — why don't some of you say 
something?" 

Sewell Collins raised his heavy eyebrows. 
" Don't you think you are — hasty ? The po- 
lice ? " He shrugged. ^ 

" But the girl may be dying — murdered ! " 

" Do you charge then that Miss Burton's disap- 
pearance is not due to natural causes ? " 

I realized that Thorny was flushing unjustifi- 
ably; or so it seemed to me. 

The strained silence fell again. Thorny paced 
back and forth in front of the door, showing us 
occasional glimpses of his face, with his lips set 
in a tight line. Collins fumbled in his pocket, pro- 
duced a gold cigarette case, and then, remembering 
himself, returned it with a sigh. 

We could hear the orchestra in the midst of the 
liveliest number on the program. I wondered 
vaguely if Thorny 's explanation of Ariel Burton's 
illness had been accepted, if rumors of the real 
situation had yet crept out. It was only a matter 
of minutes, of course, before the truth would be 
known — must be known. 

Thorny thrust himself abruptly through the 
doorway. His eyes flashed around the room, and 
ended at Collins* morose face. 



230 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" If one of you won't call the police, I will ! " 
His voice was sharp, challenging. 

" You seem to take a great deal for granted, Mr. 
Preston ! " Collins' eyes narrowed almost angrily. 

" Don't beat about the bush, man I Say what 
you mean! You are afraid of the reporters, the 
publicity — you, whose town-painting exploits 
have given the newspapers copy for years ! " 

For a moment I thought Collins would strike 
him. Thorny laughed in his face. 

" Oh, I know you are confoundedly cautious ! 
But / haven't any tenderloin record to cover up! 
I am going to put this matter in the hands of the 
law without any more nonsense! You can hike 
for Europe in the morning, if you are afraid of 
the red fire ! " 

Collins' eyes were like burning coals under his 
heavy lids, and a zig-zagging vein over his fore- 
head swelled into a purple ridge. 

" Miss Burton is my promised wife ! " His 
voice snapped. ** And I rather fancy that I have 
more interest in this matter even than you — her 
rejected suitor ! " 

" You lie ! " 

Peterson's bulk intervened before Thomy's 
crooked arm just in time. " Gentlemen, you for- 
get yourselves ! " 

Thorny gripped Peterson's shoulder, pivoted 



The Purple Thumb 231 

him about, then lunged toward Collins' fat throat. 
Madelyn glided between the two as easily as 
though she were offering the explosive Mr. Preston 
a cup of tea. 

"If you would really serve Miss Burton," she 
said quietly, " you are scarcely offering us a con- 
vincing demonstration ! " 

Thorny's arm dropped limply, and he breathed 
sharply. 

"I — I beg your pardon. Miss Mack ! " 

Odd, isn't it, how swiftly the primitive passions 
can burst through the starched shirt-front of 
civilization — and yet how abruptly they can be 
checked ! 

Collins swept his handkerchief over his forehead. 

" As I was about to say when I was interrupted, 
if the majority favor the police, so far from op- 
posing the action, I will — " 

Our eyes were riveted on him like a magnet. He 
paused, thrust the handkerchief back into his 
pocket. 

" Pay twenty thousand dollars for the return of 
Miss Burton uninjured — or a similar amount for 
the conviction of any who have dared to offer her 
harm!" 

It was splendidly done — no pompousness. (I 
am bound to say that much for him!) And he 
was in cold earnest. The deliberate inflection of 



232 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

his voice could not be denied. But — twenty thou- 
sand dollars! I glanced involuntarily toward 
Madelyn Mack. She had picked up the golden 
butterfly I had dropped, and was balancing it with 
the same abstraction with which she had toyed 
with the hair-brush. 

Peterson shook himself, smoothed his toupee, 
and glanced toward the door. He was slowly re- 
turning to his old aggressiveness. Collins' oflFer 
was at least something tangible — something more 
practical and earthly than spirit-abducted ladies! 
— And Peterson began and ended everything with 
the dollar mark ! 

" Shall I telephone headquarters ? " The man- 
ager addressed the question directly to Madelyn. 

" I presume you will have to — sooner or later," 
she said indifferently. 

Peterson weighed her words silently, let his eyes 
circle the room again, and strode through the door- 
way. I imagine th^t he was not at all reluctant to 
leave ! 

Sewell Collins turned heavily, and walked out on 
to the stage in his wake. The maid was still 
crouched in the comer, her eyes following us like 
those of a frightened fawn I had once seen quiver- 
ing imder the lash of its keeper. 

Through the wings, a zig-zagging file of chorus- 
girls, their rouged cheeks glaring in the near- 



The Piirple Thumb ^ 

lights, trooped past the dressing-room, staring, 
whispering, neck-craning. Already, it was evident 
that fragments of the real situation had penetrated 
beyond our circle. 

Thorny closed the door, pushed a chair toward 
me, scowled at an unlighted cigarette in his fingers, 
and then gave a whistle. 

I followed the direction of his stare. On the 
back of the door was hanging the royal purple 
suit in which we had last seen Ariel Burton. Even 
her hat was reposing on a hook, with its feathers 
curling lazily down. 

Thomy's whistle lengthened. " Then she had 
changed her clothes before — " 

Madelyn glanced up from the chair where she 
was sitting, with her back toward us, her head 
down. 

She frowned. " Of course ! " 

The minutes dragged by. None of us spoke. 
Thorny chewed his cigarette without appl)ring a 
match, tossed it away finally, and stepped out on 
to the stage. I would have wagered he was seek- 
ing a place to smoke f — Sometimes, I wish I were 
a man with a fat, brown cigar to bring back my 
runaway nerves, instead of a woman, with a flood 
of tears as her only relief when the willies are 
playing tag up and down her spine! 

Peterson should have been back. Perhaps, how- 



234 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 



ever, he was awaiting the police. I looked at my 
watch, suddenly remembering my duties as a news- 
paper-woman. I was half-tempted to communi- 
cate with the office, and had even taken a step 
toward the door, when it opened to admit Peterson, 
flanked on either hand by a stiffly solemn plain- 
clothes man. Just behind them peered the lean, 
hatchet-face of Lieutenant Byron, with his lank 
form attired in — I rubbed my eyes unbelievingly 
— yes, an evening suit! And it fitted him! His 
hands, folded behind his back, as though to escape 
comment, were encased in white gloves, and he was 
limping in a pair of tight patent leathers. And 
this was grizzled, old Byron, the slouchiest man of 
the Central Office! I gasped at the metamor- 
phosis. 

Byron grinned sheepishly as he caught my eye; 
but the next moment his professional calm had 
masked his face, and he was again the inscrutable 
police officer. 

He nodded gravely to Madelyn Mack, and she 
at once held out her hand. Byron was one of the 
very few Central Office Detectives who had a place 
in her esteem! 

" Shall we leave ? " she asked briskly. 

Peterson glanced awkwardly at Byron. "Cer- 
tainly not ! " the lieutenant said heartily. " That 
is — yourself. As for the others," his eyes wan- 



The Purple Thumb 235 

dered toward myself and the maid, " we are 
cramped here — perhaps — " 

" We will all wait outside ! " Madelyn broke in. 
" I am quite through my own humble investiga- 
tions here, thank you ! " 

The door closed behind us. The police were 
officially in possession of Ariel Burton's dressing- 
room. My last glimpse of the apartment was of 
Lieutenant Byron's lean face scowling at the 
beveled glass of the toilet table; but whether it 
was at the thought of the knotty problem before 
him, or at the reflection of his own unusually 
adorned person, I don't know. 

Thorny Preston had vanished, probably to some 
sequestered spot with his cigarette-case. Sewell 
Collins was leaning against the brick wall, obviously 
quite effectually occupied with his own thoughts. 

Madelyn met a half-hearted attempt of mine to 
open a conversation with a cold silence. It was 
thus we stood when the incident of Gwendolyn 
Calvert occurred. 

From a quartet of chorus-girls, emerging from 
the lower dressing-rooms, a little, dimpled, yellow- 
haired figure, in a pink, short-skirted frock, de- 
tached itself, and a pair of big, blue, innocent eyes 
stared at us. — How does the worldly-wise show- 
girl contrive to gaze out at the world with such 
child-like innocence? 



236 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" You are Miss Mack ? " 

The shy notes of the voice matched the shy 
wonder of the eyes. 

Madelyn inclined her head. 

" Miss Madelyn Mack, the detective ? " 

" What can I do for you ? " 

"I am Gwendolyn Calvert.*' (I knew itl She 
was just the kind of a girl one would call Gwen- 
dolyn, or Genevieve, or Flossie!) 

She glanced over her shoulder, hesitated, cleared 
her voice. " You don't look like such a horrible 
person ! " 
'"Don't I?" 

" I always imagined a woman-detective wore 
men's collars, thick-soled shoes, and brushed her 
hair back straight in a little knot I " 

The girl's eyes were studying Madel)m intently. 
I saw now that she was neither so innocent nor 
so young as she appeared, in spite of her guileless 
eyes and the blondined ringlets dangling girlishly 
over her shoulder. 

" I suppose when you tell things to a detective, 
it is a good deal like going to confessional — I 
mean that what you say is never told to anybody 
else — never? '' 

" That depends a good deal on its importance as 
evidence." 

"Does that mean you might have to go to a 



The Purple Thumb 237 

stuffy court-room, and talk to a judge in a black 
robe, and have the horrible prosecuting attorney 
scowl at you, and rake up the story of your life, 
and read it in the papers, with a fearful snap-shot 
of yourself, the next day?" 

" Perhaps not quite so bad as all that." Made- 
lyn was smiling rather impatiently. 

Gwendolyn Calvert glanced over her shoulder 
again, stepped closer to us imtil we could breathe 
the perfume on her bodice, and lowered her voice 
like a tattling child, telling secrets out of school. 

" I understand that something awful has hap- 
pened to Miss Burton, and — and — there is 
something I ought to tell you! You arc sure you 
will protect me ? " 

Yes, yes — of course ! " 
Well, then, last night I heard a man threaten 
to kill her to-day ! " 

Madelyn glanced across the stage with an as- 
sumption of indifference. 

"Indeed?" 

" He was very much excited ! " The girl raced 
on, evidently piqued at her failure to awaken more 
pronounced interest. "Told her, if she didn't 
marry him to-day, he would put her out of the 
reach of any man ! " 

" And who was this interesting individual ? " 

" Thorny Preston ! " 



ti 



tt 
« 



238 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Madelyn's eyes still remained fixed languidly on 
a distant piece of scenery. 

Why do you tell me this ? " 
Because I thought Mr. Preston was one of my 
best friends — my best friend — and he had prom- 
ised to marry me! There is no man living who can 
double-cross little Gwendolyn — and get away with 
it!" 

I whirled so sharply that I knocked her elbow. 
I could feel myself growing almost livid. Another 
love-tangle of Mr. Thorndyke Preston! And I 
had fancied myself the only woman in the world 
for him! Blinded fool that I had been! I could 
see that Madelyn was watching me out of the 
comer of her eye, and I tried to walk away — but 
I couldn't! I was rooted to the spot. 

Gwendolyn Calvert stiffened her shoulders. "I 
don't know if what I have told you is of any use to 
you; but, if Thorny Preston has brought harm to 
Ariel Burton, I shall never be content until he 
answers for it! She may have a temper like a 
wild-cat when she is crossed ; but she was a friend 
to me when I would have hit the gutter if it hadn't 
been for her ! " 

Her face was very hard and cold and set. Even 
her blondined ringlets seemed to tingle viciously. 

But I scarcely heard her, or the detailed story 
that followed of Thomy's melodramatic interview 



The Purple Thumb ^ 

with Ariel Burton at the previous day's dress- 
rehearsal. 

I was longing for my hall-bedroom, and hard 
mattress, and a long, long cry in the dark — alone. 



IV 



From the scrap-book of Nora Noraker, re- 
porter FOR The New York Bugle, under 
DATE OF January i6, 1914, being a portion 
OF her account of the astounding dis- 
appearance OF Ariel Burton, star of 
"The Girl from Milwaukee" musical 

COMEDY COMPANY AND THE Oflly OCCUrate 

newspaper CHRONICLE OF THE EVENT. 

(The underscoring is my own — without apolo- 
gies. No, I am not open to any reportorial offer 
at the present time, regardless of salary induce- 
ments, or short hours. — N. N.) 

" Has the earth swallowed Ariel Bur- 
ton, leading lady of * The Girl from Mil- 
waukee'? Has she dissolved into thin 
air, or has some unknown supernatural 
force snatched her from human eyes? 

" In the answer to those questions the 
police are confronting the most unique 



240 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

riddle of recent years, a riddle without 
parallel in criminal annals. 

" With a packed audience awaiting her 
reappearance behind the footlights, Miss 
Burton closed the door of her dressing- 
room at the Metropolitan Theatre at 
nine forty-five o'clock last night to make 
her change of costume for the last half of 
the second act — and vanished as com- 
pletely and suddenly as though the groimd 
had closed over her. With the shutting 
of her door, she stepped from mortal 
view. 

" A slight exception must be made to 
this statement — which tends, however, 
to deepen the mystery even further. For 
perhaps five minutes after her entrance 
to her room, Miss Burton's French maid 
attended her at her toilet, leaving her mis- 
tress half-dressed, to carry a message to 
Miss Wordsworth, the ingenue of the 
company, in regard to a slight change 
which Miss Burton intended to make in 
the manner of her entrance on the stage. 

" Miss Burton was in her usual spirits, 
and proceeding with the details of her 
make-up. The maid was the last person 
to see the actress. 




The Purple Thumb 241 

" Not more than three minutes elapsed 
before the servant's return, but in thi^ 
period Ariel Burton disappeared as ut- 
terly as though she had — evaporated. 

" From the moment of the maid's de- 
parture until her return, at least five per- 
sons were constantly before the door of 
the dressing-room. They are prepared to 
swear that no one entered or left the 
room, and the single door was the only 
possible entrance to the apartment — a 
portable dressing-room built on the left 
end of the stage. 

" Furthermore, they substantiate the 
statement of the servant that she left her 
mistress in normal spirits, from the fact 
that, while Miss Burton was dressing, the 
voices of both the actress and her maid 
were frequently heard over the sides of 
the room, which is not more than ten feet 
in height, and without a ceiling. 

** No evidence of crime has been dis- 
covered, no sign of foul play, no sugges- 
tion of tragedy — in fact, not the slight- 
est hint that would tend to unravel any 
phase of the amazing problem. 

"The floors and walls of the room 
proved absolutely intact, when search was 



242 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

made. And exit over the ten fcK>t sides 
was out of the question, without immedi- 
ate discovery from persons on the 
stage. 

"And yet, with these facts definitely 
established, it was just as evident that the 
apartment no longer contained the ac- 
tress. 

" Flight, either voluntary or involun- 
tary, seems preposterous. The most 
amazing part of it all lies in the bewilder- 
ing fact that it appears manifestly impos- 
sible that Miss Burton could have left the 
room — and yet the equal conviction 
that when search was made, she was 
gone. 

" The actress had faded into ether — 
dissolved — ceased to exist. 

" The case is in the hands of Madelyn 
Mack, who was on the stage at the time, 
and Lieutenant Byron of the Central 
Office. Neither professes to have ob- 
tained the slightest explanation of the 
astounding occurrence. 

" Sewell Collins, retired secretary of 
the American Steel Company, and Miss 
Burton's fiance, has offered a reward of 
twenty thousand dollars for the return 



The Purple Thumb 243 

of the actress uninjured — or, in the 
event of foul play, a similar amount for 
the conviction of her assailants. 

" It is the largest reward of its kind on 
record, and yet even its unusual amount 
has not resulted in the least progress in 
the untangling of the mystery. 

" It has been learned that Miss Burton 
and Mr. Collins were to have been quietly 
married the latter part of next week, al- 
though she intended remaining on the 
stage the remainder of the season. 

" Miss Isabelle Hunt, Miss Burton's 
understudy, finished the performance last 
night, and, for the present, will retain the 
position of leading woman of the com- 
pany." 

I read over my article in The Bugle in the Sub- 
way. Very cold and matter-of-fact, it looked in 
type, and utterly stripped of all the weirdness and 
uncanniness which had shrouded the event last 
night, and which had thrilled me when I sat down 
to the keys of my typewriter. Now, if Edgar 
Allan Poe had written The Bugle account, he 
would have built a masterpiece of shivers and 
quivers, and would have made the most wooden 
reader tingle with every thrill and near-thrill. 



244 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

I realized abruptly that I was not a genius I 

Indeed, as I surveyed my article, the whole thing 
seemed absurd and ridiculous, rather than tinged 
with the suggestion of the supernatural that had 
seemed so vivid. 

It sounded like the plot of a French detective 
story. Why — such things couldn't be in real life ! 
It was well enough for a magician's illusion of the 
Vanishing Lady, or a trick for a spiritualistic 
seance, with false doors, and swinging mirrors, and 
subdued lights, and all that sort of thing. But we 
were not dealing either with magicians or spirit- 
ualists ! 

The next thing they would suggest would be 
that Ariel Burton's fairy godmother had given 
her an invisible cloak! 

I could fancy that the whole town was snicker- 
ing in its sleeve at us, and wondering whether we 
were confederates in some daring advertising hoax 
— or just plain dupes! 

All of the papers, of course, mentioned, more or 
less sensationally, the incident of Ariel Burton's 
faint at the close of the first act. Most of them 
assigned the rather vague reason of over-strain 
from the tension of a " first night." None of them 
appeared to glimpse a deeper cause. In fact, with 
the climax that followed, the episode as a whole 
was dismissed rather lightly. 



The Purple Thumb 245 

The card of the purple thumb had obviously not 
yet been uncovered by the newspaper probe. And 
it had not needed Madelyn's suggestion to keep 
my own report silent on the subject. (It had not 
been the first time in our curious comradeship that 
I had seen a " scoop " smothered from motives of 
expediency!) 

The first editions of the evening papers had noth- 
ing to add to the early morning accounts, unless it 
was the shrieking announcement of The Buzzer 
that its reporter, who had called on Sewell Collins 
for an interview, had been seized by the collar by 
that much-harried gentleman, and propelled by the 
toe of his house-slipper to the stairs of his apart- 
ment — and that the reporter was at once filing 
claims for fifty thousand dollars damages to his 
person and spirit! 

I wondered curiously how the other members of 
the little stage-grofup at the Metropolitan, who had 
been enmeshed in the puzzle, were viewing it over 
the bridge of a night's sleep; what effect the dis- 
secting rays of the morning after had had in 
dissipating the sharp-tensioned atmosphere of the 
evening. 

I was in a wretched mood. I had not reached 
home from the office until after two o'clock, — 
only newspaper, theatrical, and society women can 
keep such hours! — and I had gathered only four 



246 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

hours of distorted sleep, in spite of the bromide the 
bell-boy had brought me from the all-night drug 
store. 

To be quite truthful, I couldn't escape Thorny 's 
face, staring at me from out of the darkness, with 
hateful, little blondined hussies scampering all 
about, and the enticing, black eyes of Ariel Burton 
bending over itl 

I had spent most of the night with the wreck 
of my dreams. I had never realized before 
how precious they were, nor how much of my- 
self had been crying out for them to come 
true! 

If he had only given me some hint — instead of 
deliberately cementing our relations! 

Why, only last Sunday we had stolen away, just 
we two, and had trudged five miles through the 
Westchester snows to the '' Maison Blanc'* — the 
quaint, little French inn, which we had alwa)rs 
called our own discovery — and found its doors 
bolted, and its chimneys cold, and Madame gone, 
and had to stumble back to the traction without 
our dinner, and the memory of the fried chicken 
and Muscatelle we "used to get aggravating our 
"hunger. But we had laughed at it all, and Thorny 
had built a snow-man on the roadside and put a 
cigar in its mouth, and we had snow-balled each 
other like a couple of sky-larking kids, and he had 



The Purple Thumb 247 

promised me the best meal in town when we got 
back — and — now this! 

Once I even climbed out of bed, and snatched 
Thomy's picture from the dresser, and held a match 
to it; but I only let the match burn my fingers! 
I hadn't the courage to do anything else — and 
then it was the only picture I had! 

When I left the car at the suburban station, 
with a half a mile walk between me and " The 
Rosary," I was in a far from amiable mood. And 
the hour and a half ride in the Subway and Ele- 
vated had not improved it. 

But the snap of the winter air could not be re- 
sisted. It was as tingling as champagne. — I 
sometimes think that a winter wind, chilled like 
wine to just the right temperature, is filled with 
celestial nectar for the benefit of just such harassed 
individuals as I was! 

A lifeless sun was trying half-heartedly to com- 
bat the January blasts, which shrilled in from the 
cold, grey ice-mirror of the river. The naked line 
of maples flapped their leafless arms dismally at 
the edge of the long yard, which terraced gently 
back to the Swiss chalet, which Madelyn Mack 
termed " The Rosary." 

Its gables looked drear enough against the slate 
sky. The ivy masses, clinging clear to the roof, 
were a rusty yellow. It could not have appeared 



O 



248 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

more bleak had it been set down in the hollow of 
the Alps, where Madelyn had found the design 
from which she had copied it. 

I pictured the rose garden in its rear a wind- 
swept square of shapeless bushes — with no hint 
of the gay masses of June bloom that were one of 
Madelyn's chief delights. 

It was all very sweet, and gladsome, and en- 
chanting enough against a summery background, 
but in the winter — ugh! But then Madelyn pos- 
sessed the eccentricities of genius — and one of 
these, I presume, was in remaining by the skeletons 
of her summer glories. 

The Quaker-like figure of Susan Bolton, Made- 
lyn Mack's only companion, opened the door al- 
most at once. 

At my first glance behind the oaken portals, I 
forgot the bleakness outside. From the merrily 
bobbing streamers of Susan's cap to the merrily 
dancing flames in the open hall fireplace there was 
a sense of welcome so penetrating that I stood 
stock-still, breathing it in. The very warmth of 
it quickened my chilled blood. I was content just 
to stand there, smiling foolishly — and feel the 
spirit of the place go dancing up and down and 
into every crevice of my being. 

Desolate? Why, the ice and the wind and the 
snow were just what was needed to form the set- 



The Purple Thumb 249 

ting for the picture, and make one appreciate 
it! 

Susan Bolton pulled me, with a little, motherly 
tug, toward a wide, high-backed seat, heaped with 
the softest, cosiest cushions imaginable — and just 
near enough the fire to allow you to put your feet 
out comfortably before the crackling logs. 

She was not content until she had divested me 
with her own hands of coat, and hat, and furs. 
Then, stepping back to a bubbling alcohol heater, 
she inverted its squat, little brass kettle, and poured 
me a huge cup of chocolate, so rich, and creamy, 
and mouth-watering that it made me gasp. 

" Three lumps of sugar ? " she smiled. *' You 
see, I have a good memory. Miss Noraker ! " 

I glanced up from my cup — one of the hundred- 
and-fifty-year-old set of Delft that Madelyn Mack 
had brought from Amsterdam — and let my eyes 
rest again on Susan's beaming face. 

It was one of those old-fashioned, grand- 
motherly faces, all smiles from the little, precise 
grey ringlets, peeping from under the frill of her 
cap, to the sunshiny eyes, looking as if they were 
wells of mother-love, deep enough to cover the 
whole world. 

I put down my cup suddenly, sprang to my feet, 
and, throwing my arms around her neck, kissed 
her full on her astonished, cherry-red lips. 






250 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 



ti 



I just couldn't help it ! " I said, stepping back. 
Ah — that was good! I have been heart- 
hungry for months, and I didn't know what 
for I " 

She studied my face for a moment silently. 
Those kindly grey eyes seemed suddenly very 
shrewd. She laid one of her soft, white hands on 
my shoulder. It was like velvet. 

"Nora, girl, what is it?" 

My first emotion was overwhelming surprise. I 
stood blinking, and choking, and thinking very 
fast — and then, well, I found my head pillowed 
on her shoulder, and sobbing as I had not sobbed 
for years. 

I guess that my feverish night had worn my 
nerves more than I appreciated. Anyway, I real- 
ized that I was gasping out the whole wretched 
story of Thorny to her; that a pair of wonderful, 
grey eyes were holding mine like magnets; that 
a cool, soft hand was caressing my cheek — and 
that Nora Noraker, veteran newspaper woman of 
twenty-eight, was pouring out her heart like a 
love-sick girl of sixteen! 

I should have been ashamed, I suppose; but I 
wasn't — a bit. And then my story came to an 
end, and the hand on my cheek slipped down on 
my shoulder, and for a long moment we stood 
silent. 



The Purple Thumb 251 

Susan gently turned me about, picked up my cup, 
and watched me until I drained it all. 

" You feel better, don't you ? " 

I nodded, smiling in spite of myself. 

A door at the end of the hall opened softly, and 
a small lithe figure, all in white, from her white 
buckskin shoes to her tailored, white serge skirt, 
and white India-silk blouse, stepped toward us, 
with a shaggy, brown Scotch collie at her heels, as 
tmder-sized as its mistress. 

" This is the third time I have looked in on you 
two ! " she said gaily. " Have you been to con- 
fessional, Nora ? " 

" Yes — to my mother-confessor," I smiled. 

" And she has given you absolution ? I knew 
she would. That is why I left you alone ! " 

Madelyn reached over and caressed Susan Bol- 
ton's wrinkled face, and then stooped down and 
patted the head of Peter the Great, the Collie. 

She straightened, her mood abruptly hardening. 

" I want your brain clear, Nora ! I need you ! " 
She turned. " Will you come into the den ? " 

Madelyn's arm slipped through mine. I glanced 
at her face, which scarcely reached to my shoulder, 
and realized that it was very tired, and worn, and 
that — yes, the abnormal sparkle in her eyes was 
too obvious! 

My gaze dropped to the amethyst locket, dan- 



252 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

gling from a slender gold chain about her neck — 
her only ornament. 

" You've been taking those horrid cola-berries 
again ! " I charged. 

" Don't be absurd, Nora ! I needed them ! I 
haven't been to bed for twenty-four hours ! " 

" You'll go to bed for good one of these days, 
if you keep up on stimulants like that! " 

She shrugged wearily. 

" Do you happen to know whether Ariel Burton 
was left-handed? " 

" I wish you had never made that trip to South 
America," I said crossly, determined not to change 
the subject. " Then perhaps you would never 
have heard of the cola stimulant ! " 

Madelyn sighed. 

" But was she? " she persisted in her turn. 

"I don't know. Why?" 

Madel)m curled down on the huge jaguar-skin 
before the den fireplace. — I think she had an open 
fire in nearly every room in the chalet. 

Her arms circled about her knees, and she sat 
staring into the red and yellow flames, without 
reply. 

My eyes roamed around the long, high-ceilinged 
room, Its floor and walls littered with a collection 
of bric-a-brac to which the four comers of the 
earth had contributed, for, during her long vaca- 



The Purple Thumb 253 

tions, Madelyn Mack gave full play to her wander- 
lust, and had zig-zagged around the world a half 
a dozen times, always as far from the beaten paths 
of travel as she could penetrate. One year I had 
heard from her from the interior of China — it 
had taken three months for her dozen lines to reach 
me — and the next summer she had written me 
from the northern coast of Labrador. 

But there was the touch of a woman's hand in 
the disorderly order of the room, in spite of the 
grim suggestiveness of certain of its prominent 
ornaments — the revolver with which the notorious 
Rudolph Morton had so nearly ended her life in 
underground Chinatown — the Indian bow-string, 
which had choked to death Peter Foxham — the 
stuffed cobra, whose fangs had come within an inch 
of Madelyn's arm in the Punjaub hills. 

Nor was suggestion of our present problem lack- 
ing. On Madelyn's desk were the two anony- 
mously threatening letters that had come to Ariel 
Burton, each with the purple-edged outlines of a 
human thumb below its typewritten lines. I started 
somewhat as I saw that the ornament of the golden 
butterfly, that we had found in the dressing-room, 
was being used as a paper-weight for them. 

Although I had read the communications when 
Peterson entrusted them to Madelyn the night 
before, I picked them up again. To a newspaper 



254 Miss Madelyn Mack^ Detective 

reporter, accustomed to melodramatic demands of 
the Black Hand as commonplaces, often not worth 
even a first-page position, there was nothing par- 
ticularly startling in either their text or their men- 
ace. Perhaps their most curious features were 
that they had evidently come from a writer of a 
fair degree of education — and that they made no 
mention of money. 

I quote the first letter of a dozen lines verbatim : 

" You should know that I am not given 
to idle boasting. You have driven me to 
this method of approach, and I warn you 
in all fairness that, if you compel me, I 
will not hesitate at desperate measures. I 
am willing to give you a reasonable time 
for consideration, but I am prepared to 
strike at a moment's notice. On the 
whole, I do not think you will force me 
to a step which will mean final disaster to 
you." 

The second communication was written from 
the same angle as the first, except for its concluding 
paragraph : 

" The first performance of your new 
play is scheduled for Wednesday night. 



The Purple Thumb 255 

Unless you assure me of a favorable an- 
swer, you will never finish it alive." 

A favorable answer to what ? I scanned the two 
letters in vain for some hint of light. There was 
no inkling of their purpose or why they were 
written. And there was neither signature nor ad- 
dress ! 

But for the curiously sketched outline of the 
human thumb, there were no marks of pen or pen- 
cil on either page. Both letters had been written 
by a black-ribboned typewriter. The envelopes 
bore the New York postmark of Madison Square 
Station, with dates a week apart. 

When I turned, Madelyn had stepped to the 
telephone. 

"Hello!" she called. "Is this the Lenox? 
Will you kindly connect me with Miss Ariel Bur- 
ton's apartment? I know she's not there! Yes, 
her maid or her housekeeper will do." 

She tapped the 'phone impatiently. 

" Hello," she repeated. " Is this Miss Burton's 
housekeeper? This is Miss Mack — yes, Miss 
Madelyn Mack. I wish to ask you two questions. 
Was Miss Burton left-handed. . . . She was 
not! One thing more. Did she smoke cigar- 
ettes ? " 

Madel)m caught her breath suddenly. 



256 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" You are quite sure she did not? Thank you." 
She hung up the receiver, frowning. 

I stared across at her. 

" Are you going to explain ? ** 

"Explain what?" 

"Those absurd questions, of course!" 

" Maybe, you are right, Nora." Madelyn 
shrugged. " Perhaps they were absurd ! " 

I walked across the room, and then veered my 
queries to another angle. 

" Well, how was it done ? " 

" How was what done? " 

" How was Ariel Burton spirited from her 
dressing-room ? " I snapped. 

" My dear girl, there are three ways in which it 
could have been accomplished!" She stirred the 
logs in the fireplace. 
Three ! " I gasped. 

But I am not going to explain imtil I know 
which of the three was used ! " 

I sighed resignedly. " What have you been do- 
ing all night? " I demanded. 

She jerked her head toward the Circassian- 
walnut phonograph at her shoulder. 

" Spending most of the time with half a dozen 
new records that Bartolli, the violinist, has just 
made for me. It took him about three hours, but 
he charged me six hundred dollars ! " 






The Purple Thumb 257 

" What would you do if you didn't have all 
the money you could spend?" I asked cynic- 
ally. 

" Make more ! '* she responded promptly. She 
turned. " There is a stack of morning papers on 
the floor, Nora. Would you mind reading me their 
accounts of the case ? The only article I have read 
is your own. If you would tone down your adjec- 
tives, you might write something worth while 
some day ! " 

I picked up the heap of folded papers submis- 
sively. 

" Of course, you don't mean every word ? " I 
laughed. " The papers have devoted as much 
space to the affair as to a presidential mes- 
sage ! " 

Madelyn stretched herself on the jaguar skin, 
her hands under her head, her eyes staring at the 
ceiling. 

" Yes, Nora — every line, if you don't mind ! 
I fancy I have about an hour to spare ! " 

She closed her eyes, and I began my task with 
a wry face. I had always humored her through 
the five years of our curious friendship. 

If Madelyn found any interest, however, either 
in the newspaper speculations or their heavy- 
leaded details of what was variously termed " The 
Riddle of the Vanishing Lady," " The Dressing- 



258 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Room Mystery," and " The Burton Enigma," she 
did not show it ; but I found that behind her closed 
eyes an alert brain was following me. 

" Will you read that last paragraph again ? " 
she said suddenly. 

My eyes returned to the bottom of the page of 
The Herald, It was only a paragraph of a dozen 
lines, shoved into an inconspicuous spot as a 
" filler." 

" Of the history of Miss Ariel Burton, 
previous to her theatrical career, little or 
nothing is known. 

" It was a year and a half ago that 
Peter P. Peterson introduced her to 
Broadway in a minor role in Thomdyke 
Preston's first production, ' X. Y. Z.' A 
series of sudden and severe illnesses of 
several of the female members of the com- 
pany elevated her in an unusually rapid 
manner — and her pronounced ability re- 
tained the successive steps which she had 
acquired by accident. 

" When Mr. Preston's second play, 
* Mademoiselle Satan,' was produced six 
months ago, she was selected as its star, 
and later transferred to the stellar role in 
' The Girl from Milwaukee.' 



The Purple Thumb 259 

" Mr. Peterson knows absolutely noth- 
ing of her life previous to the morning 
when, after three days of waiting in his 
anteroom, she obtained admittance to his 
office in search of a position. Who her 
relatives are, where her home was before 
the New York chapter of her life, are 
questions which no one seems able to 
answer. That she has demonstrated a 
wonderful stage ability, however 
amounting at times to almost genius, 
there can be no doubt. 

" Miss Burton lived alone with her 
French maid and housekeeper in an ex- 
pensive six-room suite on Riverside 
Drive. The flat was rented in her stage 
name, and her personal mail directed to 
that address. Whether in private life she 
has ever borne any other name is not 
known." 

" Will you cut out that paragraph for me, 
Nora?" asked Madel)m. "You are not too tired 
to go on, are you ? " 

" Oh, no — it IS a pleasure ! " I said sarcastically, 
extending my hand toward the remainder of the 
papers. 

But it did not reach them. 



260 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

A bell tinkled through the house, faintly, as 
though the hand on' the button were not sure of 
itself. 

We heard Susan's steps pattering toward the 
door in her loose slippers, and return with a sec- 
ond step beside her — light and shy. 

The door of the den opened. The dark, liquid 
eyes of Miss Burton's French maid, Jacqueline, 
stared at us hesitatingly. 



Madelyn was the first to speak. 

" Come in,'* she invited as pleasantly as though 
she were occupying the most decorous position, in- 
stead of lying flat on her back on a tawny leopard 
skin in an attitude strongly suggestive of Cleo- 
patra reposing on the trophies of her royal hunts- 
men. 

Jacqueline's stare widened. I could quite un- 
derstand her amazement, even after her association 
with such an unconventional person as a Broadway 
musical comedy star! Madelyn drew herself up 
leisurely and patted her hair, perhaps to give her 
caller opportunity to recover her poise, perhaps to 
ponder the reason of her unexpected visit. — Or 
was it unexpected ? Madel)m's next words left me 
staring in my turn. 



The Purple Thumb 261 

" I thought you would be here by three at the 
latest ! " she said quietly. 

Jacqueline caught her breath, and I could see 
her fingers knot about the arms of her chair. 

" But I have not received any more Purple 
Thumb communications," Madelyn continued. 

The maid's gaze was riveted on the suddenly 
grave face of Miss Mack. Madelyn leaned for- 
ward. 

" Don't you think you will save time if you take 
me into your confidence concerning what you know 
about Miss Burton, — that is, the things which you 
have not told the police ? " 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Simply that I can be of service — now ! If 
you choose to wait, it will probably be too late." 

Jacqueline swept her hand over her eyes. 

" Suppose you begin," suggested Madel)m 
briskly, " by telling me the meaning of the Purple 
Thumb!" 

With a moan Jacqueline slipped from her chair 
to her knees. 

" Merci, Madame, Merci ! You mistake ! It 
ces not that ! It ees ze locked rooan I came to you 
about, her room ! " 

Madelyn almost roughly gripped her shoulder. 

"If you are going to have hysterics, we will 
defer this interview until later.** 



it 



262 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Jacqueline caught a handkerchief from her 
sleeve, penetrating with some heavy French scent, 
brushed it over her face, and somewhat sullenly 
resumed her seat. Her shoulders were shivering 
as if with cold. 

That is better/' said Madelyn approvingly. 

And now, if you will talk cahnly, we shall help 
one another much sooner.'* 

Jacqueline huddled back in her chair, evidently 
trying to collect her thoughts. In spite of her 
agitation, perhaps because of it, she made a stri- 
king picture in black and white, her pale features 
standing out hauntingly against the background of 
her somber gown and hair. And yet there was a 
curious underlying suggestion of piquancy, too, as 
though her French effervescence could not be en- 
tirely eliminated. — I verily believe that even in 
the tension of the situation, the minx never forgot 
that she looked well in black I 

She looked up suddenly. 

" It ees ze nerves, Madame I You — you must 
pardon. It has been one terrible nightmare — 
with ze door of Mademoiselle's room, ze locked 
door staring, staring at me all through ze night, 
and morning. I thought I would go mad ! I won't 
go back ! I can't go back ! " 

"And what has the door to do with it all?" 
demanded Madelyn curtly. 




The Purple Thumb 263 

" Do you not know ? I mean ze door of Made- 
moiselle's bedroom, ze rose-chamber, which no one 
enters but herself, no, not even I ! Alwa)rs, it ees 
locked when she is gone, with ze little key, and 
again when she retires. Ever it has been so since 
ray first day." 

" And it is locked now ? " 

" Merci, Madame, and why not ? Did I not see 
ze key turned with my own eyes, when Mademoi- 
selle left for ze play? But, as I watched last night, 
ze door seemed to speak, to call to me, to com- 
mand that I should find ze little key! Always it 
was calling! It was as though ze Evil One, him- 
self, was ordering that I should obey ! " 

" Of course you did so ? " Madel)m shrugged. 

" Ze good saints protect us ! " gasped the maid. 
" Open ze rose-chamber ? " Her hand sketched the 
sign of the cross. " That ees what I came for you 
to do! They say there ees no woman so wise as 
Madame, none so brave ! " 

"You are alone in Miss Burton's apartments?" 
asked Madelyn abruptly. 

" Alone but for Martha, ze housekeeper. But 
Martha, she ees made of wood. She knows noth- 
ing, feels nothing!** 

" She was with you last night? " 

" Part of it. She had asked Mademoiselle to go 
to Brooklyn to see her brother who ees ill, and she 



264 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

did not return until late. But Martha is old and 
wrinkled, and twelve of the night is as twelve of 
the noon to her! Once ze police came and asked 
ze impossible questions, and again this morning 
with more questions. But they are not like our 
gendarmes of ze boulevards! No, Madame. Red- 
faced and stupid they are — " 

I think I saw the yellow face at the window at 
the same instant as Jacqueline. It was pressed 
against the frost-dimmed panes like a ghastly blur. 
Only for a flash it showed, a flash of black, boring 
eyes and scowling lips, and then it was gone, like 
a face swallowed in the fog. Madelyn's lithe fig- 
ure leaped past' my shoulders, and then, as she 
flung up the window and we peered into the yard, 
we were conscious of two facts. 

Behind us, Jacqueline had crumpled to the floor 
as though felled by a physical blow. Ahead of us, 
across the snow-sheeted yard, a man was darting 
like a frightened rabbit, a slightly built man, rather 
under the average height, with a black felt hat 
crushed low over his face, and the skirts of a 
brown overcoat flapping about his legs. Even as 
we sighted him, he crashed through the winter 
skeleton of Madelyn's fat English hedge, and dis- 
appeared. 

Madelyn sprang back from the window, her eyes 
gleaming. 



The Purple Thumb ^ 

** Quick, Nora ! This is a time when minutes 
count ! " 

" You are going to follow him ? " 

" Don't be absurd ! We have a more important 
call to answer! Tell Susan to attend to Miss 
Jacqueline. I dare say she has only fainted. And 
have Andrew bring%my car to the door. We'll 
have to chance the roads. It is the quickest way 
we can get to town ! ** 

On occasions, Madelyn can muster an executive 
ability that seems to galvanize those about her like 
an electric battery. Even calmly moving Susan 
Bolton, and her slow-thinking husband, Andrew, 
respond to its thrill. In something under five 
minutes Madelyn's car was waiting, and we were 
springing into it. In the den, Susan's ministrations 
were already bringing Jacqueline back to returning 
consciousness. But we did not await the final 
result. 

" I will telephone you within the hour — an 
hour and a half at the latest," called Madelyn from 
the door. "In the meantime, I shall depend 
on you to keep the young woman under your 
eye." 

But, if she wants to leave? " protested Susan. 
Tell her she does so at her peril! And now, 
Andrew, get us to Riverside Drive in thirty min- 
utes if you have to smash the car ! " 






266 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" Riverside Drive ! " I echoed. And then I 
knew. " We are going to Ariel Burton's apart- 
ments ? " I cried. 

" We are going to the rose-chamber and its 
locked door/' said Madelyn as she settled herself 
in her seat And that was the last word she spoke 
during our thirty-five minutes of zig-zagging 
through the crunching snow, bumping over ice- 
crusted ruts, and grazing crumbling ditches. 
Twice we skirted disaster so close that my breath 
stopped, but Madelyn sat buried in her robes with- 
out the slightest sign that she had noticed the fact. 
It was not until the straggling outskirts of the city 
grew into close-packed blocks that she roused, and 
then it was only to give the direction to Andrew. 
We swerved our course across to the Drive, and 
brought up finally before the brown stone front of 
the Lenox apartment building, in one of whose 
five-thousand-dollar suites Miss Ariel Burton made 
her home. 

Madelyn was out of the dazzlingly upholstered 
elevator almost before the liveried attendant 
opened the door at the third floor. Miss Burton's 
apartment was a front corner suite, obviously one 
of the most expensive and desirable in the building. 
Madelyn's finger came away impatiently from the 
entrance bell. She was about to repeat her sum- 
mons, when the door opened, and a rather grim- 



The Purple Thumb 267 

visaged woman of perhaps sixty stood staring at 
us. 

Madel)m thrust out one of her cards and el- 
bowed unceremoniously past her. 

" You are Martha, I take it ! Which is Miss 
Burton's bedroom ? " 

It was a tribute to the personality of Miss Mack 
that no sign of protest answered her. The house- 
keeper fell back. 

" The last room to the right ! " she gasped. 

A long hall extended from the front to the rear 
of the suite with a series of three rooms on either 
side. Not only the hand of wealth, but of art, was 
apparent even in our first swift survey. If Ariel 
Burton's judgment had dictated the furnishings of 
her home, she was quite apparently a connoisseur. 

Through a blue-and-gold music-room, and a 
white-and-gold library and living-room combined, 
we made our way. In the farther wall was a door, 
almost concealed by overhanging tapestries. 
Madelyn paused, and, with a tightening of her 
lips, stepped forward. 

" Will it have to be broken in ? " I asked, start- 
led at the hoarseness of my voice. 

" Unless the lock is a patent one, I fancy I can 
manage." 

Madelyn stooped, and caught the knob. I could 
hear her breath quicken as she fumbled with the 



268 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

handle and then bent toward the keyhole. She 
straightened again, and from her hand-bag pro- 
duced an oddly curved bit of wire. For two or 
three minutes she twisted it to and fro in the lock. 
With a sigh of surrender she stepped back. 

There was silence as she gazed at the panels re- 
flectively. 

" I'm afraid, Nora, we will have to use force 
after all ! " She whirled toward the housekeeper. 
" Get the janitor and tell him to come up at once, 
and bring a man with him ! " 

The servant stumbled toward the hall. Madelyn 
picked up a book on the library table and toyed 
with it mechanically. We were rather evading one 
another's eyes. The suggestion of impending evil, 
of strange, hidden things, had fallen on the room 
like a blanket. I moved my gaze from the locked 
door, only to find it drawn back again like a mag- 
net. In the back of my mind I saw again the pic- 
ture of the hysterical French maid, heard again 
her gasping voice: 

" But as I watched, ze door seemed to speak, to 
call to me, to command that I should find ze little 
key! Always it was calling! It was as though 
the Evil One, himself, was ordering that I should 
obey!" 

From the hall came the tramping of feet, a 
heavy voice. But it was not the janitor and his 



The Purple Thumb 269 

assistant. In the doorway Lieutenant Byron and 
a plain-clothes man stood gazing at us inquir- 
ingly. 

Madelyn stepped forward with a quick shrug of 
relief, and spoke a dozen crisp sentences. The 
lieutenant's grey eyebrows wrinkled, but he was 
not a man to waste questions — when the need for 
action was calling. With a nod to his subordinate, 
he swung across the floor. The two men braced 
themselves and then lunged together. Door-break- 
ing is an essential part of a policeman's educa- 
tion! 

The second onslaught was successful. The 
wrecked panels fell suddenly inward. 

A glimpse of rose-red tinted walls, and velvet 
rugs, and mahogany dressing table swam before 
me — a silken canopied bed and Irish lace coim- 
terpane — a wonderful embroidered negligee 
tossed carelessly across the surface — and nothing 
else. 



VI 



This was our first swift impression like the flash 
of a stereopticon slide on a blank canvas. 

And then Madelyn's slight, black-gowned figure 
was darting across the room. The pink-shaded 
silken draperies, concealing the opposite door, were 



270 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

still swaying from the impact of the fleeing figure 
that had dashed through them almost at the mo- 
ment of our entrance. 

Madelyn tore aside the draperies, caught the 
knob. The routed occupant of the rose-chamber 
had turned the key ! 

Lieutenant Byron brushed her aside, hurled him- 
self against the panels. The plain-clothes man 
joined him in the second assault. In the din of 
the wreckage, we sprang over the falling door into 
a rear corridor, ending in a winding flight of back 
stairs, obviously for the servants' use. 

As we rushed to the stairs, a girlish, blue-skirted 
figure, with a loosened coil of blond hair, under 
a white fur toque, whisked from the landing below. 
When we reached the second floor corridor it was 
empty. 

Six locked doors confronted us — and the last 
flight of the stairs. A glance was sufficient to 
eliminate this latter exit. The girl in blue had 
found haven behind one of the series of doors. 
Lieutenant Byron's knuckles beat an angry sum- 
mons on each in turn. An icy-faced butler, and a 
maid-servant, holding a curling-iron to her scanty 
bangs, replied to two of the calls with a wonder- 
ment too obvious to be counterfeited. Silence 
answered at the remaining four panels. A contin- 
uation of our strenuous tactics above was, of 



The Purple Thumb 271 

course, out of the question. For the time, at least, 
we were balked. 

Lieutenant Byron's curt order to his assistant to 
watch the lower entrance, and to telephone head- 
quarters for a second man at the other side of the 
building, was more of a formality than a hope. 
The Lenox probably contained a dozen blonde 
women of girlish figures. 

We made a gloomy quartette as we re-traced the 
path of our precipitate chase. I think Lieutenant 
Byron took the escape of our quarry as a personal 
affront. There was a suggestion of grimness even 
in the measured tread of his steps as we came again 
to the splintered door, and to the gaping figure of 
the housekeeper, still staring as though she had not 
changed a muscle since she had seen us disap- 
pear. 

I caught Madelyn's arm as the lieutenant tugged 
at the door. She smiled quizzically at the question 
in my eyes, with a finger to her lips. I had not 
been alone, then, in my recognition of Miss Gwen- 
dolyn Calvert as she plunged down the back stairs ! 

I shrugged helplessly, as Lieutenant Byron 
leaned the wrecked door against the wall. What 
had brought our garrulous, chorus-girl friend to 
the chamber of Ariel Burton? What motive had 
inspired her wild flight before our approach? I 
was floundering in a mental quagmire. Most cm- 



272 Miss Maclel]rn Mack, Detective 

phatically our riddle was deepening rather than 
clearing. 

The lieutenant brought the matter-of-fact de- 
ment back to the situation with a movement typical 
of the unemotional police-angle of view. Striding 
across the room, he jerked up the half-lowered 
window shades to their full height. 

Madelyn had paused by the side of the bed, her 
gaze slowly digesting the details of the chamber. 
Now, with the flood of light, we could see that its 
luxury was not so heavy nor so glaring as to 
smother its suggestion of cosy cheeriness. It wa3 
just such a nook as I had occasionally allowed my- 
self to dream of in my fanciful moments. 

It was with something like a start that I found 
my thoughts circling back to the cloud of presenti- 
ment that had shadowed us as the police shoulders 
forced an entrance for us. Soberly I tried to diag- 
nose its cause. And then, quite suddenly, it came 
to me that none of us would have been surprised 
if the room had shown us the trail of tragedy — 
if the chamber had revealed the murdered body of 
Ariel Burton! 

The curt interrogations of Lieutenant Byron in- 
terrupted my thoughts. 

"The back hall, then, was the only means by 
which an inlmder could have entered Miss Bur- 
ton's room ? " he snapped at the housekeeper. 



The Purple Thumb 273 

" Yes, sir ! " she returned dully. " I have been 
here since last night, that is, in the other part of 
the flat I never had a key to Miss Burton's own 
chamber. I — I hope you don't think, sir, that 
I — " 

The lieutenant bent over the lock of the rear 
door. Even from a distance, I could see that it 
was of the same peculiar pattern as the flrst lock 
which had balked Madelyn — a peculiar design 
which few experts could have forced. And there 
were no signs that it had been forced ! 

There came a lull as we slowly filed back to Miss 
Burton's white-and-gold living-room. In one cor- 
ner bulked a heavy, square theatrical trunk, plas- 
tered with criss-crossing labels, jarringly conspic- 
uous against the luxurious background. 

" Miss Burton's trunk, the one she sent from the 
theatre last night," explained the housekeeper, in 
answer to Madelyn's inquiring glance. 

I stared as I recalled the two men staggering 
from the dressing-room with their burden shortly 
before the star had made her appearance for the 
second act. 

"Oh, we have examined it thoroughly, Miss 
Mack ! " said the lieutenant with a flash, as Made- 
lyn tapped its edge. " If you are trying to connect 
it with the case, though," he added with a laugh, 

I am afraid you have struck a blind lead ! Your 



ti 



274 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

own evidence shows that Miss Burton was in the 
theatre long after the trunk had left! " 

Madelyn smiled faintly. " And you will find my 
evidence quite correct! Our vanished friend was 
not hidden in the trunk, I assure you ! " There 
was a hint of suppressed raillery in her voice. 

" You examined it anyway, notwithstanding my 
testimony? " 

" That was one of the first things I did when I 
reached the flat last night. It was filled with 
gowns enough to stock a store. There wasn't a 
quarter inch of space left! Lord, Miss Mack, that 
woman certainly does have clothes ! If Mrs. Byron 
ever sighted the contents of that trunk, I couldn't 
get her away with a yoke of oxen. If you want 
to take a look yourself — " 

" No, thank you." With an air of detachment. 
Madelyn turned to a telephone in the opposite 
comer. 

A book-strewn stand was drawn up before a 
grate of gas-logs at the side of one of those fat, 
old-fashioned arm-chairs, which seem a constant 
invitation to procrastination. It was my own par- 
ticular Nemesis which led me at this jtmcture to 
the stand, and a magazine turned down in the 
center. An illustrated article on " Successful 
American Playwrights " rewarded my curiosity. 
From the very first page the face of Thorny Prcs- 



The Purple Thumb 275 

ton grinned up at me. It was the same picture he 
had given me, the snap-shot made during an Octo 
ber afternoon gallop the autumn before. Under- 
neath was the staring caption: 

" This picture was taken by Miss Ariel Burton, 
the leading lady, who has scored such a pronounced 
success in Mr. Preston's productions." 

I flung the magazine savagely back, conscious 
that Lieutenant Byron was staring at me. I could 
imderstand now why Mr. Preston had called it his 
favorite picture! Doubtless there was a presenta- 
tion copy in the most intimate comer of his own 
room, more than likely with some such inscription 
as, " Lovingly Yours, Ariel " ! 

A gradual deepening in the tension of the room 
made itself felt even through my bitterness. Mad- 
elyn was still at the telephone. She was see- 
sawing the hook of the receiver savagely. 

" There must be a mistake, Central ! You are 
sure you have the number right? And there is no 
answer ? " 

Madelyn whirled from the instrument. 

" Ring the elevator, Nora ! Quick ! If we are 
too late — " She broke off, her nails cutting into 
her palms, and then burst out again, " If they have 
dared to injure so much as a hair of her head, I 
call you all to witness that I shall make them pay 
— pay dearly ! Oh, I have been blind, blind ! " 



276 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

Lieutenant Byron gripped her arm. 

" Calm yourself, Miss Mack ! What is it ? " 

Madelyn darted after me. 

" It means," she flung back, " that I have fallen 
for the first simple bait dangled before my eyes! 
And I call myself a detective ! " 

One glance at Madelyn's face sent Andrew jump- 
ing toward the crank-shaft. Madelyn sprang into 
the car, and then leaped to her feet again. 

" Are your fingers made of wood, man ? Susan 
— Susan, your wife, is in peril!" 

Andrew fell back, choking. 

" God, Miss Mack ! What — what is it ? " 

" I don't know ! That's the worst ! " 

A sullen chugging broke from the engine. An- 
drew jumped to the wheel, the car swerved sharply, 
and we were dashing down the frozen pavement 
of the Drive. 

I clutched Madelyn's shoulders as we grazed a 
taxicab and passed it, with the driver cursing after 
us. 

" Is it the yellow-faced man we saw at the 
window ? " 

Madelyn glared. 

" Nora, I believe you have been as blind as I 
was! Can't you see yet the game Jacqueline was 
playing? Haven't your eyes been opened to the 
wild-goose chase she gave us — and its purpose ? ** 



The Purple Thumb 277 



'' No," I said glumly, " they haven't ! " 

" Then," retorted Madel)m, with a touch of 
grimness, " your eye-opening will have to wait 1 '* 

And she dropped the conversation. Occasionally 
I stole a glance at her slight, drawn-faced figure; 
but there was no further hint of confidences — or 
apprehensions. There are times when Madelyn's 
silence is glacial! 

I huddled back in the robes and closed my eyes 
in an effort to concentrate on the kaleidoscope of 
the past three hours. And then I opened them in 
the hope that the sun would dispel something of 
my mental daze. Jacqueline's visit — her terror- 
stricken story — the yellow face at the window — 
our dash to the Lenox — the assault on the locked 
door — the intruder in the rose-chamber — our 
unsuccessful pursuit — and now this last climax! 
And apparently we were drifting farther and 
farther from the heart of the riddle! 

With a reckless disregard of skidding, Andrew 
whirled the car into the snow-crusted driveway of 
" The Rosary." We .made a dishevelled trio as we 
plunged into the long front hall, already darkened 
by the late afternoon shadows. A dying log in the 
grate fell apart with a crackle of sparks — and 
then, in the circle of its momentary radiance, we 
saw that which told us our wild ride had not been 
for nothing. 



278 Miss Maclel]rn Mack, Detective 

Madelyn had Susan's head in her lap before 
Andrew and I could cross the room. From the 
position of her body, it was evident that the house- 
keeper had slipped down from a rocker, drawn into 
the glow of the fire. A stocking, wrapped about 
an old-fashioned darning-gourd, lay on the floor 
at her side. Around her hung the odor of chloro- 
form. 

Madel)m's curt order for water was not neces- 
sary. The bluish lips were already twitching, as 
Andrew's match caught the hall gas. 

With a sigh of relief, Madelyn thrust a cushion 
under Susan's head, motioned Andrew to remain 
at her side, and darted into the den. In the door- 
way we stumbled over the second evidence of the 
drug-trail. Peter the Great lay stiffly on his side, 
breathing with a heaviness which it was apparent 
that nothing for the present could break. 

In the room, beyond, the purpose of the chloro- 
form assailant was obvious. An impatient hand 
had torn open drawers, and file cases, strewn the 
floor with papers, and even jerked pictures from 
the walls and books from their shelves. A desper- 
ate search had been made of Miss Mack's sanctum 
for — what ? 

Madelyn's lips tightened as her hand reached 
into her waist and produced a long, unsealed en- 
velope. 



The Purple Thumb 279 

" I had thought Miss Jacqueline might be inter- 
ested in the letters of the Purple Thumb — but I 
didn't fancy her interest was so deep ! " 

She surveyed the littered room with a shrug. 

" On the whole, I should say, though, that she 
has rather overbalanced the damage to my papers 
by the service she has rendered me ! " 

" Service 1 " I cried. 

Madelyn shrugged again. 

" I fear I had not been giving the Purple Thumb 
its proper importance in our little tangle ! " 



VII 

Susan Bolton's story, when a half hour later 
saw the haze of the drug somewhat diminished, 
was the narration of an absurdly simple stratagem. 
Melodramatic features in Miss Jacqueline's meth- 
ods were signally lacking. 

Recovering from her swoon shortly after our 
departure, the maid had gratefully accepted Susan's 
suggestion of a cup of chocolate. The hospitality 
gave her an opportunity which she used to swift 
advantage. As Susan returned the emptied cup to 
the stand, a pair of lithe arms encircled her neck. 
For a moment, she had a glimpse of a soaked 
sponge and a pair of dark eyes. The drugging of 
Peter the Great had probably been accomplished 



280 Miss Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

quite as easily. It was an hour after Susan's re- 
covery that he staggered dazedly back to his favor- 
ite rug in the den. 

I have often wondered since if that final scene 
in our drama, toward which unconsciously we 
were already rushing, would have been quite the 
same had Jacqueline, the burglarious, given the 
canine bodyguard of " The Rosary " a fatal whiff 
of her drugged sponge — if, for instance, Madelyn 
would have ventured her last, supreme risk in that 
life-or-death climax with the same readiness! It 
was obvious, at once, that our crafty visitor had 
made a clueless retreat. Doubtless she had taken 
her time in her futile search, perhaps made an un- 
concerned departure through the front door! 

Nor was there further trail of the prowler of the 
yellow face. The shadows had already veiled the 
trail of his footsteps across the snow when Made- 
lyn circled her flashlight from the window where 
we had glimpsed his blurred features. There was 
evidence in plenty to show where he had stood. 
Evidently he had maintained his vigil for some 
minutes before discovery, but there were no signs 
of returning steps, either here, or elsewhere in the 
yard, although we rounded the chalet twice. 

On our return from our fruitless exploration, 
Madelyn cleared her desk with a rather ruthless 
sweep, rummaged for a magnifying lens, and pro- 



The Purple Thumb 281 

duced again the two letters of the Purple Thumb. 
For a silent ten minutes she studied them. 

" Have you noticed anything distinctive about 
these documents, Nora ? " she asked abruptly. 
" Anything, for instance, which would induce a 
person to adopt desperate tactics to gain their pos- 
session ? " 

I shook my head doubtfully. 

" The police receive a score of such communica- 
tions every day." 

Madelyn leaned back, the tips of her fingers 
musingly together. 

" And yet we face two decidedly puzzling details. 
The letters give no hint of signature or address, 
although the writer emphatically expects an an- 
swer. And Miss Burton told a palpable tmtruth 
when she declared she had received no others, 
unless, unless — 

" Suppose we begin at the outset of to-day's 
events, and recall them in their proper sequence," 
she broke off. " We have first Jacqueline's visit. 
We know now that its purpose was to lure me 
away, obviously that a search might be made of my 
papers. For what? Plainly for Mi^ Burton's 
letters, since they are the only documents I possess 
bearing on the case. And yet, so far as we have 
been able to see, the letters contain nothing to war- 
rant such an effort. There remain, then, two con- 



282 Miss Maclel]rn Mack, Detective 

elusions: the communications possess a hidden 
message which we have not yet discovered, or their 
point is supplemented in some other fashion. In 
either event, we have not found their true signifi- 
cance — and it is not intended that we shotdd! 

" But it is equally evident that, if we. are in ig- 
norance of their concealed meaning, there are sev- 
eral who have a closer knowledge. There is the 
maid, Jacqueline, the yellow-faced gentleman at the 
window, and, finally, the show-girl, Gwendol}^ 
Calvert. And, I should say, each is acting inde- 
pendently of the others. We have then three dis- 
tinct lines of convergence. That is our most hope- 
ful fact, Nora. Those lines are bound to meet, 
sooner or later ! " 

" Then one of those factors must have been in- 
strumental in Miss Burton's disappearance ! " I 
broke in. 

" You are assuming too much ! *' said Madelyn 
testily. "You forget that Miss Burton's vanish- 
ing could have been voluntary as well as involun- 
tary. Grant that there were certain menacing de- 
ments directed against her, elements which may 
even have conspired for her removal. They may 
have been successful in their purpose — or they 
may have failed. Miss Burton may have disap- 
peared of her own accord — to dude them!" 

" And in that event — " 



The Purple Thumb 283 

" Her escape has been successful, so successful 
that the forces she has evaded are as interested in 
finding her as we are ! " 

" And they are seeking to destroy the letters of 
the Purple Thumb because they contain a clue to 
their purpose I " I interjected. 

" Perhaps ! " said Madelyn drily. " And per- 
haps there is another explanation. Miss Jacqueline 
may have been acting not for the writer — but for 
the recipient! If Ariel Burton disappeared of her 
own accord, you must remember that she disap- 
peared from her friends, as well as from her ene- 
mies — and she may not desire either to locate 
her!" 

I stared. " Then the letters — "I burst out. 

" Contain a guide to the solution of the riddle, 
which we have not yet found," answered Madelyn 
wearily. She turned. " Nora, will you kindly 
start the phonograph for me? Put on the ballet 
music from * Faust.' Thank you I I believe you 
have your article yet to write for The Bugle, 
haven't you? You will find a comfortable table 
and an excellent light in the living-room ! " 

" Which means bluntly — "I retorted. 

" That I want to be alone for the next hour ! " 

I found that Susan had been assisted up to her 
own chamber. The living-room was deserted. I 
drew a chair to its table, moved a pad of paper 



284 Miss Maclel]rn Mack, Detective 

over to my elbow, and then sat uncertainly, tapping 
my fountain pen. From the closed door of Made- 
lyn's den rippled the ballet strains of " Faust," a 
pause, and then the melody continuing. Maddyn 
had evidently started the record over again. 
With an effort, I tried to throw off the suggestion 
that persisted in intruding into my thoughts. Miss 
Mack had enumerated three persons interested in 
the riddle of the Purple Thumb. She had over- 
looked a fourth. Had she forgotten Thorny Pres- 
ton — and the card in the white orchids ? 

It was seven when I finished my last paragraph. 
I glanced up with a sigh to see Madelyn facing me, 
with hat and coat on. 

" It is twenty minutes over the hour I mentioned. 
Are you ready for another trip to town?" 

" Where, this time? " I demanded. " Dinner? " 

" Perhaps," she returned drily. 

At the door, she turned back and dropped into 
her pocket an object that gleamed coldly in the 
light. Most emphatically it was a curious dinner 
that called for the accompaniment of a revolver! 

As we settled into a seat in the Subway-train, 
Madelyn spread out a copy of The Bugle which 
she drew from her bag, and her face disappeared 
behind its pages. I stared through the window for 
perhaps ten minutes, and then I broke the silence 
with an ironical grin. 



The Purple Thumb 285 

" You seem to find an absorbing interest in the 
newspaper accounts of the case. Miss Mack ! " 

" Do you think so ? " Madelyn said pleasantly, 
without lifting her eyes. 

I leaned closer. And then I saw that the date of 
the paper was more than a week before! 

Madelyn's gaze met mine with a provoking 
gleam as I leaned back. She was actually chuck- 
ling at me ! 

" Are you interested in psychology, Nora ? Then 
here is a little problem that may help to relieve the 
tedium of our ride. What is the natural channel 
of communication of a blackmailer, not educated 
up to a cipher, and yet who wishes to keep his point 
of attack in the background? " 

I opened my lips to protest, but Madel)m had 
again retreated behind the paper. On the whole, 
I was not surprised when we left the Subway in 
the neighborhood of the Lenox — but the fashion- 
able apartment building was not our immediate 
destination. 

Madelyn turned into a quiet-fronted residence 
hotel on one of the cross streets near upper Broad- 
way, and approached the desk with an air of busi- 
ness-like briskness. 

" I believe that Mr. Sebastian Amador is regis- 
tered here. Will you kindly tell him that the lady 
he is expecting has arrived ? " 



286 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

The clerk ran a finger over the bookkeeper's 
day-book. 

" Mr. Amador paid his bill and left an hour ago, 
madam." 

Madelyn caught her breath. 

" Did he leave a forwarding address ? " 

The clerk consulted a slip at his elbow. 

" I find none, madam." 

Before the sentence was completed, Madelyn was 
dragging me into the street. As she darted 
through the doorway she sighted a taxicab at the 
curb. 

" The Lenox ! " she flung to the driver, and 
pushed me into a seat as we swerved toward the 
river. 

I subsided against the cushions as we sped 
across Broadway, grazing the end of a clanging 
surface car with hardly a foot to spare. 

"And who is Sebastian Amador?" I gasped, 
finding my breath. 

" The gentleman who paid us a call this after- 
noon," she snapped, " but who was in too much of 
a hurry to come in ! " 

A bump in the pavement threw us against the 
side of the car. 

" Why the Lenox now ? " I jerked out. 

" Because I must know at once whether Ariel 
Burton disappeared of her own volition, — and, if 



The Purple Thumb 287 

so, whether the danger she eluded is still threaten- 
ing her ! " 

A curious exhilaration was sweeping through my 
blood. It was the wild throb of the man-chase. 
Again I could see the blurred, yellow face at the 
window, the fainting form of the French maid. 
What sinister trail were we following, and where 
would it end? Had Miss Mack read the message 
of the Purple Thumb? And what had it told her? 

With an order to the chauffeur to wait, Madelyn 
sprang across the walk toward the brown-stone 
front of the Lenox, only slightly slackening her 
steps as we passed into the marble and gilt splendor 
of its hall. Martha answered our bell with a swift 
change of expression, ludicrous under other cir- 
cumstances. It was as though she viewed our ar- 
rival as the forerunner of another climax like that 
of the afternoon ! 

It was easy enough to see, as we passed in the' 
white-and-gold living-room, that the housekeeper 
was regarding us with scant favor. Her suspicion 
almost turned to open protest with Madelyn's first 
action. 

Darting across the room, Miss Mack pressed the 
electric switch in the wall and plunged us into 
darkness. 

" That is better ! " she said. " And now, Martha, 
will you kindly extinguish the other lights ? " 



288 Mi8S Madeljm Mack, Detective 

The housekeeper bridled. 

" Really, ma'am, you — " 

" Are you going to do as I ask you ? *' snapped 
Madelyn. The superior will won. A momait 
later, Miss Burton's flat showed no signs of occu- 
pancy. As the lights of the hall disappeared, 
Madelyn's electric search-lamp sent a flickering 
circle into the shadows of the living-room, 
swerved across the apartment, and focused on 
the gaunt bulk of the theatrical trunk in the 



corner. 



By the way, Martha, I believe you told me this 
afternoon that Miss Burton is right-handed. She 
had trained herself, however, to use either hand 
on occasion, had she not?" 

" Why, er, come to think of it, ma'am, she had. 
Why do you ask ? " 

Madelyn made no answer, as she thrust the tube 
of the flashlight into my hands. 

" I'll leave the illumination with you, Nora. I 
can manage our next task more expeditiously than 
you can ! " 

Thrusting back the heavy trunk-cover, she began 
a ruthless removal of the close-packed garments 
within. I could hear Martha's imheeded protest 
as the finery of one of the most expensive theatrical 
wardrobes on Broadway was sent into a pell-mell 
heap on the floor. Paris and London gowns fol- 



The Purple Thumb 289 

lowed filmy negligees and lingerie with a reckless 
disregard of damage. 

There came a gradual slackening in the whirl of 
silken lace, more and more apparent, and then a 
low, quick gasp of elation. , 

I slanted the light down over Madelyn*s shoul- 
der, my breath quivering. What discovery had in- 
spired Miss Mack's gasp of sudden triumph? 

Over the edge of the trunk my light lowered, 
down the riveted sides on to — the smoothly 
cleared bottom, as barren as a clean-swept platter. 
Blank emptiness. That was all! 

I gasped in my turn at the anti-climax. 

" We have unraveled one phase of the riddle, 
Nora! Ariel Burton's disappearance was entirely 
voluntary ! " 

I stared at Madelyn's shadowy face. 

" But there was nothing in the trunk ! " I pro- 
tested. " Absolutely nothing — except clothes ! 
Besides, you, yourself, said that Miss Burton didn't 
vanish in the trunk ! '* 

" And I was right ! She didn't ! " Madelyn re- 
turned crisply. " But that isn't the vital point. 
Ariel Burton disappeared to escape a fate that was 
almost upon her. And the menace, from which 
she slipped, still exists!" 

A steel-muscled arm darted over my shoulder, 
gripping my hand and the tube of the flashlight. 



290 Mis8 Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

The yellow circle dancing across the bottom of the 
trunk snapped into darkness. And then, as I real- 
ized that the arm belonged to Madelyn, I caught 
the sound of footsteps through the doorway beyond, 
the hiss of hoarse breathing — and knew that we 
were no longer alone in the shadows. 

The invasion of the rose-chamber was being re- 
peated. Dimly, through the portieres, I saw a bead 
of light. Ours was not the only searchlight in 
Ariel Burton's apartments that night. 

Madelyn's arm over my shoulder drew back. I 
could feel her body quiver with suppressed tension, 
and then she was worming her way across the 
floor, her black-gowned figure blotted out by the 
darkness. I caught a flash of her hand at a comer 
of the portieres; but it was only a flash. At the 
same instant, the searchlight in the other room 
splintered to the floor to the accompaniment of a 
woman's scream, that was not Madelyn's. There 
was a scufiling of feet, a guttural, foreign-sounding 
oath, and, at the end, the bark of a revolver, like 
the yelp of a kicked dog. 

I dashed across the living-room, throwing back 
the portieres in a kind of frenzy. A glare of light 
struck my eyes. Some one had found the electric 
switch, and made use of it. I saw that I had come 
in time for only the tag end of the drama in the 
dark. 



The Purple Thumb 291 

A man in a light overcoat and black felt hat was 
plunging through the farther doorway into the 
rear hall. To his right arm was clinging the frail 
form of Miss Mack. He turned snarlingly, re- 
vealing a pair of close-set, gleaming eyes and, below 
them, the yellow face that had peered at us 
through the window of "The Rosary"! 

For an instant the two swayed, and then Madelyn 
was flung back against a chair, and the skirts of 
the overcoat disappeared like a brownish streak. 
Before I could reach her side, Madelyn was spring- 
ing into the hall in unshaken pursuit. 

It was then that I became aware of another oc- 
cupant of the room. A disheveled young man in 
evening clothes was leaning dazedly against the 
opposite wall. On the tip of his ear twisted a 
thread of blood like a red raveling. 

** The beggar almost winged me ! " gasped 
Thorny Preston, half turning. "Another fraction 
of an inch — " 

His sentence dwindled in the middle as he recog- 
nized me. For a moment we stood staring at one 
another. I knew that my face had gone white, and 
that I was reaching out mechanically to find some- 
thing to steady myself, as though the feel of a solid 
surface under my hand would steady also the whirl 
of my thoughts. Thorny Preston added to the 
marauders of Ariel Burton's apartments! Thorny 



292 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Preston one of the prowlers of the rose-chamber, 
in search of — what ? 

And then he put an end to my speculations by 
lurching forward into a chair, and fainting almost 
literally in my arms. And being human — and a 
woman — everything promptly fled from my uni- 
verse except the trickle of blood on his neck and 
his closed eyes. 

His swoon, however, was not so serious as its 
dramatic nature might have warranted. Even be- 
fore the water, which Martha brought in sort of 
submissive terror, reached me, his eyes were flut- 
tering. As I pressed the glass to his lips, Made- 
lyn stepped back from the corridor. 

" We have lost our birds again ! Twice now." 

Thorny sat up weakly in his chair. Madelyn's 
eyes narrowed on his face. 

" As an amateur burglar, Mr. Preston, I should 
advise you to make sure next time that you are not 
shadowed — particularly by a gentleman of Span- 
ish blood! I should have associated a knife, how- 
ever, rather than a gun with Senor Amador ! " 

"Amador?" 

Thorny's eyes gleamed, and he made a movement 
to rise. Madelyn pushed him back. 

"I scarcely think there is occasion for hurry! 
I fancy you will find Miss Calvert has made a 
secure retreat ! " 



The Purple Thumb 293 

The dull flush again swept Thorny 's face. I 
could feel him glancing at me out of the comer of 
his eye. So my half-fancy of a woman's figure 
darting into the hall, as I burst into the room, had 
been correct! Mr. Preston then* had formed a 
partnership with Gwendolyn Calvert in his noc- 
turnal expedition! 

Madelyn gazed at him a minute in silence. 

" Don't you think the psychological moment has 
come for frankness on your part ? " 

Thorny was staring at the floor. I could tmder- 
stand that his head must be ringing from the shock 
of the wound, but there were evidently other causes 
for his perturbation. He presented all the appear- 
ance of a very much ill-at-ease young man. 

" For instance," continued Madelyn, " the er- 
rand that made it necessary for Miss Calvert and 
yourself to descend to burglar tactics? " 

Thorny drew a deep breath. 

" I am not at liberty to answer that question, 
Miss Mack! " 

" Then, perhaps, I can answer it for you ! " 

Thorny's glance raised, and then lowered almost 
stubbornly. A somewhat harder note crept into 
Madelyn's voice. 

" I don't know whether Miss Calvert saw you 
personally, or telephoned the message that brought 
you to her aid. In any event, she told you that 



294 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

Ariel Burton's welfare depended upon prompt and 
secret action. By the way, was Miss Calvert's 
friend on the second floor, who came to her assist- 
ance, the butler or — " 

" She was using the apartment of her cousin, 
who is in Europe," snapped Thorny, "number 
eight! She found accidentally that the same keys 
fitted the doors up here." 

" That explains, then, her prompt disappear- 
ances. As to what happened after you reached 
Miss Burton's apartments, the details are fairly 
obvious — your grapple with your unseen assailant. 
Miss Calvert's flight — I regret, Mr. Preston, that 
you did not have opportunity to complete your 
mission ! We will retire, if you desire to finish it 
now ! " 

Thorny staggered to his feet. 

" Then, for God's sake, tell me how ! " 

Even Madelyn stared. 

" You mean — " 

" I mean that we were to find in this room that 
which would explain Ariel Burton's vanishing, but 
what it was I have no more idea than you have! 
Gwen Calvert knew. I guess she had been here 
before. Just as she was opening her lips to ex- 
plain to me — well, you know what happened. I 
was seized from behind, and she was running back 
into the corridor, screaming ! " Thorny moistened 



The Purple Thumb 295 

his lips. "The key to the whole affair is in 
this room. Miss Mack — between these four 
walls!" 

Madelyn paced across the floor. Something cold 
and hard had come into her face — like the glint 
of the spent fighter who sees his antagonist sud- 
denly re-in forced. 

" Is it a letter, Mr. Preston — a letter of the 
Purple Thumb?" 

" It is not ! " came the decisive answer. " Gwen 
Calvert knew almost as little about those letters as 
I did. I knew, of course, they were throwing Miss 
Burton into a blue funk, that they were preying on 
her mind fearfully ; but she gave me no inkling of 
what was behind them. It was not until this eve- 
ning that I found from Gwen — " 

" You must meet me frankly, Mr. Preston ! " 

Thorny bit his lips. 

** — That they were written by this Spanish 
chap ! '* he continued abruptly. 

" I guess Amador had been trying to make a tool 
of Gwen, using her to keep him posted on Miss 
Burton's movements, and in the end she decided 
to investigate on her own account. But he was 
like an iceberg whenever she mentioned the let- 
ters." 

" You are quite sure you are speaking plainly?" 

" Quite sure ! " 



296 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" Then what about the card in Miss Burton's 
bouquet that you concealed from us?" 

Thorny flushed. 

" I saw only the blank side when I picked it up ! 
I was as much surprised as you at what was on the 
other side ! " He hesitated. " Gwen Calvert over- 
heard me' reading aloud the letter that came to Miss 
Burton at our last rehearsal. It threatened to kill 
her unless she married the writer without delay. 
Gwen even thought I was making the threat on my 
own account ! " He broke off. " This is awful, 
Miss Mack! Surely something can be done — it 
must be done! Gwen Calvert was in white earnest 
when she called me to-night. The explanation of 
the riddle is in this apartment, and we have got to 
find it ! " 

*' But it is apparent, Mr. Preston, that we cannot 
make a search until we know what we are seeking. 
You must locate Gwendolyn Calvert and force her 
to tell me her story ! " 

" But — " 

Madelyn gripped his arm. 

" No woman in New York is facing a more 
genuine peril than Ariel Burton to-night! If, for 
any reason, Miss Calvert cannot, or will not, talk, 
our last chance of aiding her is gone ! " 

Through the silence of the flat pealed the hall 
bell. We could hear Martha answering the sum- 



The Purple Thumb 297 

mons with mechanical obedience. Then sounded 
a crisp voice, and Lieutenant Byron's "plain 
clothes" assistant of the afternoon stood frown- 
ing at us. His eyes narrowed at Madelyn's fig- 
ure. 

" Miss Mack, can you step down-stairs, please ? " 

For a moment none of us spoke. There was 
that in his voice and face which sent an almost in- 
definable tautness through the room. It was as 
though we had caught the first, faint note of a far- 
off alarm bell. 

Madelyn stepped to the officer's side. His voice 
lowered, and we could see her recoil. Then Thorny 
and I were racing at her shoulder into the hall — - 
Thorny forgetful of the shock of his wound — and 
Madelyn's finger was jabbing at the elevator bell. 

There was no answer, and we were soon to sec 
the reason. In a panting trio, we stumbled down 
the last flight of stone stairs. 

A background of marble and gilt splendor — a 
dazzle of lights — huddled groups of theatre- 
bound parties, filmy-cloaked women and silk-hatted 
escorts — liveried servants — all staring grotesquely, 
for it was the first time that most of them had been 
brought face to face with tragedy. 

On a leather divan, Gwendolyn Calvert, with a 
little crimson splotch like a dash of red ink on her 
white shirtwaist, lay staring back at them with a 



i 



298 Mi88 Madeljrn Mack, Detective 

sort of dazed bewilderment still showing through 
the film of death. 

" She was shot down on the walk at the comer 
of the building ! " jerked out Lieutenant Byron. 
" Tall, dark man in a light overcoat fired the bullet. 
He has made a dean get-a-way — so far ! " 



VIII 

I HAVE often questioned whether any one but 
Madelyn Mack could have accomplished what fol- 
lowed. Lieutenant Byron maintains that she did 
it because she was a woman. I differ with him. 
Feminine psychology may have been a factor, but 
it was nothing less than genius in the final analysis. 

The lieutenant held us for a moment on the edge 
of the group. 

" It happened right under our eyes. Miss Mack ! 
If we — '' 

" I can guess how it happened ! " said Madel)m. 
She thrust past him, and caught the arm of a man, 
evidently a physician, at the divan. 

" We must keep her alive for sixty seconds 
longer, Doctor! We must!" 

" She is gone now ! " 

The physician gave a professional shrug. And 
then, as though to belie his words, the girl's staring 
eyes trembled, and her lips partly opened. 



The Purple Thumb 299 

" If I had an electric battery," the doctor hesi- 
tated, " I might do what you ask, madam ; but 
without it, it is impossible ! " 

Madelyn bent lower over the white face. And 
then, as the doctor drew back with a suggestion of 
tolerance, occurred the miracle. 

" Gwen, girlie ! Gwen, I say ! " 

It was not Madelyn Mack, the inquisitor, plead- 
ing with a witness; but a show-girl appealing to 
one of her kind. Had Miss Mack spent an appren- 
ticeship in a Broadway chorus, her voice could not 
have acquired more perfectly the vibrant, metallic 
tones of the footlights. Even phlegmatic Lieuten- 
ant Byron was staring incredulously. 

" Gwen, I say, don't you hear the call-bell ? Let 
the rest of your make-up go! Do you want the 
stage-manager to fine you ? *' 

At Madelyn's shoulders we were bent forward, 
our eyes held to the face on the divan. Would 
the daring expedient of psychology win over 
death? Would the old, familiar call of the stage 
re-animate the dying will of the show-girl when 
medical stimulants had failed? 

Again the grey lips moved, again the eyes trem- 
bled, and then a wave of animation, like the spurt 
of a fading fire, illumined their depths. Madelyn 
had won! I could see her muscles stiffen as 
she stooped still lower. It was as though she 



300 Mis8 Madelyn Mack, Detective 

would hold death at bay by sheer physical 
strength. 

With measured distinctness, she spoke again. 

" Help me save Ariel Burton, Gwen ! Tdl me 
now ! " 

The grey film fell a second time like a sinister 
shadow. I tried to^tum my face away. Death 
would not be cheated. And then, even as the 
thought framed itself, Gwendoljm Calvert's hand 
fluttered to her waist, and her lips murmured the 
words like a far-off voice on a defective tdephone 
wire: 

"The broken fan! Find other half! It — 
it — " 

I wonder if the sentence was finished in eternity? 
One could almost fancy that the dead lips were stHl 
moving. . . . 

I saw Madelyn's hand slip under the white 
shirtwaist, fumble near the red blot on its bosom, 
and emerge with the jagged half of an ivory fan. 
On its surface was scribbled in a hurried pencil 
scrawl the beginning of a notation, which had obvi- 
ously been finished on the missing section : 

"2i56Sy 

Madelyn snapped the fan shut, and darted across 
the hall to the stairs. Even Lieutenant Byron's call 




The Purple Thumb 301 

did not make her pause. When I drew my eyes 
back from her disappearing figure, the tension in 
the lobby had broken. The first of the halted 
groups was already moving through the swinging 
doors into the street. The unexpected eddy in the 
life of the Lenox had passed. Doubtless, in a few 
minutes, the faces that had blanched at the shadow 
of death would be convulsed by the buffoonery of 
the vaudeville. I could hear a querulous lady ex- 
claim indignantly that she would be late for the 
opera! 

In a comer of Lieutenant Byron's mouth an 
unlighted cigar had been thrust nervously all 
through the short drama. With a mechanical 
movement, he tossed it to the floor and ground it 
under his heel. 

" Burke," he snapped to his assistant, " Y\\ leave 
the rest of the details down here to you. If you 
need me, you'll find me up-stairs." 

" If they should bring our man in, sir — " sug- 
gested Burke. 

The words recalled me with a start to the fact 
that we had learned nothing of the details of the 
crime. 

"You are searching for a man with a yellow 
face, of a Spanish t)rpe ? " I demanded. 

The lieutenant nodded grimly. 

" There are two witnesses of the shooting, who 



302 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

might have caught the assassin on the spot if they 
hadn't been so afraid of their own precious lives! 
Why, our taxicab was turning into the block below 
at the time. If we had come two minutes 
sooner — *' He broke off abruptly. " It seems to 
me, Miss Noraker, that you have information to 
give as well as receive! " 

I gazed at Thorny. His forehead was beaded 
with perspiration, his eyes swollen. On the heels 
of his wound, the stress of the past five minutes 
had brought his nerves to the snapping point. 

" Oh, there is no occasion now to keep anything 
back ! " he said wearily. " God, to think that, while 
we were talking up-stairs, Gwen was going to her 
death, and we could have saved her ! " 

He glanced across at the still figure on the divan. 

" If I ever lay my hands on the brute that killed 
her. Lieutenant, the police and the courts need not 
worry about justice ! " 

The lieutenant reached for a fresh cigar. 

"Just now, it occurs to me, Mr. Preston, that 
you could serve Miss Calvert more wisely by giving 
me an account of what happened before my arrival 
on the scene." 

Thorny brushed his hair back from his eyes, 
hesitated a moment, and began the narrative that 
Madelyn had wormed from his unwilling lips. He 
finished it as we stepped from the elevator at Miss 



The Purple Thumb 3^ 

Burton's floor. Lieutenant Byron made no com- 
ment as he pressed the bell. There was no answer. 
Again his finger pushed the disc, and then his hand 
impatiently caught the handle of the door. It 
swung open noiselessly. With a growing frown, 
he led the way into the living-room. And there 
we paused. 

The rose-chamber beyond was flooded with all 
of its available lights. In the glare, the room pre- 
sented a curious scene. Drawers were piled on the 
floor, and their contents dumped into a heap beside 
them. Stands and mantel had been swept dear. 
Even the garments of an adjoining closet, cun- 
ningly concealed by the wall draperies, had not 
escaped. The appearance of the room suggested 
the scene of ravage we had found in Madelyn's 
den at " The Rosary ; " but this time Miss Mack, 
herself, was responsible for the confusion. 

In the center of the havoc, Madelyn was stand- 
ing, her eyes shot with cold, glinting specks of 
light. Martha was completing the despoiling of 
the closet with much the enthusiasm of an unwilling 
prisoner at the point of a gun. 

At the sound of our steps. Miss Mack half 
turned her head, snapping open her watch. 

"Ten- forty! We have until ten-fifty to act. 
Lieutenant, if we are to avert another trag- 
edy!" 



304 MiM Madelyn Mack, Detective 



She extended the section of the broken fan she 
had taken from Gwendolyn Calvert's waist. 

" Somewhere in this room we will find the re- 
mainder. And we have just fifteen minutes to 
doit!" 

Lieutenant Byron's eyes narrowed on the nota- 
tion on the ivory surface, as Madel3m crossed the 
room, and swept a glance into the dismantled 
closet. 

" You will see that the fan contains a portion of 
an address," she said over her shoulder. " A life 
may depend on our completing that address, and 
reaching it at once ! " 

From the adjoining room, the telephone sounded. 
Lieutenant Byron turned mechanically. We could 
hear his voice replying dully to the summons, and 
then it was raised sharply. A moment later he 
was back in the doorway, his face flushing. Made- 
lyn shot a glance in his direction. 

"Is it Sewell Collins?" 

The lieutenant's lower jaw dropped. 
How in blazes did you know ? " 
I didn't know. I merely expected it How 
long has he been gone?" 

" He hasn't been seen since he left for the Union 
League Club for dinner. He never reached it. His 
man is at headquarters now, frantic. Says his 
master has been murdered ! " 



it 
a 



The Purple Thumb 305 

" He hasn't been — yet ! " said Madelyn grimly. 

The lieutenant passed his hand wearily over his 
eyes. 

"This — this is getting on my nerves, Miss 
Mack! What's the answer?'* 

Madelyn pointed to the broken fan in his hand. 

"When we find the other half of that trinket, 
we'll find Ariel Burton, and, likewise, Sewell Col- 
lins! Martha tells me her mistress broke the fan 
recently at the theatre, and lost part of it at the 
time. Miss Calvert found the part that she lost 
We must locate the other section ! " She jerked 
her hand toward her watch. " Eight minutes left 
to do it ! " 

" And we will find Ariel Burton at the address 
on the fan ? " demanded Lieutenant Byron. 

" She has been there for nearly twenty-four 
hours! Doubtless she engaged the place by tele- 
phone at the theatre, and jotted down the notation 
on the fan. Why we'll discover later ! " 

The lieutenant strode into the chamber, his brisk- 
ness restored. 

" And the fan is hidden in this room ? " 

" Not hidden ! " retorted the enigmatic Miss 
Mack. "If it were hidden, our task would be 
simple ! " 

The lieutenant stooped toward a stack of the 
heaped-up garments. At his side, Thorny was 



306 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

mechanically following his example. Madelyn 
turned from a last scrutiny of the dressing-table 
drawers. 

" We are wasting time, all of us 1 And our mar- 
gin is now a trifle under six minutes! Line up 
against the wall there — you too, Martha! We 
will form a class in the science of deduction. We 
have approached this as a physical problem, and 
failed. We will now reduce it to a mental problem. 
Where would a woman entering her room with a 
broken fan naturally put it — with no purpose of 
concealment ? " 

Dressing-table," responded Thorny. 
Closet," I hazarded. 

Perhaps it was in a pocket of her coat, and 
she didn't take it out ! " suggested Lieutenant 
Byron. 

" Logical, but we have shown all of those an- 
swers wrong," said Madelyn wearily. " And two 
more minutes are gone ! " 

We made a curious study in emotions as we 
stood there, for all the world like a group of back- 
ward pupils before an impatient teacher. Madelyn 
stood, with her watch in her hand, staring from 
face to face as though she would stir our sluggish 
thoughts by the sheer fofce of her own will. 

" Where else could a woman carry a fan besides 
her coat pocket or hand bag? " she persisted. 



it 
it 

St 



it 
it 



The Purpl e Thumb 307 

We stared blankly. And then Madelyn found 
the answer herself. 

Did Miss Burton carry a muff, Martha? " 
She had three, ma'am. Two are on the chair 
in the comer there, and the other is on the bed." 

Madelyn snatched up the last mentioned, a rich, 
roomy creation of silver fox, thrust her hand into 
its depths, and withdrew it slowly. 

It was characteristic of her that not a muscle of 
her face showed her victory. It was not until her 
hand reached the light that we saw she was holding 
the missing half of the ivory fan. 

Lieutenant Byron sprang to her side, extending 
the section he still held. The scribbled lines were 
joined without a break : 

"2156 Sycamore Street, 
" Yonkers " 

Madel)m snapped shut her watch. 

" I fancy, Lieutenant, that you will have the 
pleasure of greeting soon both Miss Burton and 
Mr. Collins ! *' 

" But the time limit. Miss Mack — ten-fifty-five? 
I don't understand." 

" I found that the next train leaves for Yonkers 
at eleven-seven, and I allowed a margin of twelve 
minutes to catch it. Of course, I know that Yonk- 



308 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

ers must be our destination. That is the only 
suburb which the first two letters, *Y-o/ would 
fit." 

IX 

A CHEERY, old-fashioned house, with cosily 
blinking lights, met us at the end of a quiet, emi- 
nently respectable block in one of the most quiet, 
most eminently respectable streets of Yonkers. 
There could be no doubt about the number. We 
had reached "2156 Sycamore" — and the end of 
our quest. 

I had been picturing vaguely a dim-shadowed 
dwelling in an obscure corner of town, or perhaps 
a deserted mansion among sighing trees — the kind 
you read about in a shivery detective story — as 
the fitting goal for our search, with an entrance 
obtained through a cellar window, an ascent of 
creaking stairs, and a fight in the dark with an 
unseen enemy. I was conscious of a certain sense 
of disappointment. 

"2156 Sycamore" was thoroughly common- 
place, genially matter-of-fact. If there was one 
thing it lacked, it was assuredly the atmosphere of 
mystery. 

And the manner of our approach could not have 
been further removed from any suggestion of the 
dramatic. 



The Purple Thumb 309 

Lieutenant Byron conducted us up the front 
steps, even pausing to wipe his feet on a strip of 
matting, and then quite deliberately rang the bell. 
A serving-man, with a round, expectant face, an- 
swered the summons without delay. 

The lieutenant stepped past him into a wide hall, 
motioning us to follow. 

" I believe we are expected," he said quietly. 

The servant bowed. 

" Will you step into the library, sir ? I think you 
are just in time ! ** 

I glanced at the man. Just in time — for what ? 
A moment later I knew! With his most affable 
smile, he threw open an adjoining door, and waited 
as eight pairs of eyes whirled toward us. After 
all, it was an occasion for affable smiles even from 
a newly hired servant! 

I don't know whether we or those whom we had 
interrupted were the more amazed. 

Four persons were standing in the center of the 
room; a gravely-spectacled gentleman, in a some- 
what rusty frock coat, obviously a minister; Miss 
Ariel Burton, in the most perfect of evening toi- 
lettes ; Sewell Collins, with his eyes blinking nerv- 
ously in his pudgy face ; and, slightly bdiind them, 
the slimly petite figure of Miss Jacqueline. 

For just an instant the tableau lasted, and then 
Miss Madelyn stepped forward. 



310 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

"I trust we are not intruding?" 

My eyes were riveted on Ariel Burton. Her face 
had gone white, but her eyes were blazing like two 
coals. She spoke with a sort of suppressed 
fury. 

" It should be quite evident that you are intru- 
ding! However, if you will be seated for a few 
moments — " 

Sewell Collins turned back to the minister, and 
the latter, surveying us in mild disapproval, raised 
a Bible from a stand at his elbow. 

" Unfortunately," replied Madelyn, " we cannot 
take advantage of your kind invitation." 

She continued her advance until she reached the 
quartet. 

" Before the ceremony proceeds, there are cer- 
tain statements I wish to make, which I feel arc 
necessary to the occasion." 

The minister laid back his Bible with a dubious 
sigh. Sewell Collins turned irritably. Ariel Bur- 
ton's eyes lost something of their blaze. I fancied 
she was swaying slightly. Madelyn caught her 
arm as though to steady her, but later we knew that 
her purpose was far different. 

" Mr. Collins," she began directly, " arc you 
familiar with the history of this lady whom you 
were about to make your wife?" 

Sewell Collins glared. 



The Purple Thumb 311 

"Certainly!" 

" You know, then, that you are not manying 
Ariel Burton, the actress, but — " 

Madelyn held up Miss Burton's right arm. The 
light played on the tapering fingers, the jeweled 
rings which covered them, the slenderly rounded 
thumb. We all stared. Under the thumb nail was 
a dull, purplish line, indelibly printed on the pink 
flesh. Even then we did not guess! 

From her bag, Madelyn extended to Lieutenant 
Byron a crumpled newspaper, with a blue-ringed 
paragraph. 

" Will you kindly read aloud the article I have 
marked ? " 

In a mechanical tone, the lieutenant complied. 

" Sebastian Amador, a planter from Haiti, is 
registered at the Algonquin Hotel on a curious 
mission. He is in search of his runaway wife, 
whom, he charges, deserted him three years ago, 
and fled from his home under an assumed name. 
As he describes her, she is a remarkable young 
woman, of an exceedingly curious history. Her 
mother was a French woman, of great beauty, and 
one of the popular actresses of the European stage 
of a generation ago. At the height of her career 
she fell in love with a wealthy young Spanish 
planter of Haiti who was on a visit to Paris. The 
two were married, and the favorite of the Parisian 



312 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

footlights exchanged the stage for a tropical plan- 
tation. Here a daughter was bom to her, who in- 
herited both her mother's beauty and dramatic 
ability. It was this daughter whom Amador later 
married, and who, as he alleges, fled from him 
after less than a year of married life. After nearly 
four years of silence from her, he has found a clue 
to her whereabouts, which leads him to the belief 
that, through her inherited talents, she has won a 
spectacular success in the New York theatres. 
With all the ardor of his Southern blood kindling 
at the news, and thirsting for a reconciliation, 
Amador, on receipt of the information, at once 
sailed for this city. 

" And now comes the strangest part of the nar- 
rative, rivaling the plot of a sensational novel. The 
mother of the runaway Sefiora Amador also fled 
from her husband twenty-five years ago, leaving 
behind her newly-born child. The motive of her 
desertion was the discovery that the man to whom 
she had given herself was not of pure Spanish 
blood, as she had believed, but — " 

Lieutenant Byron broke oflF, the balance of the 
sentence in his throat, as he stared from Madelyn 
to the swaying form of Ariel Burton. 

With a little wrench, the latter slipped from 
Madelyn*s hand. For a moment she stood quiver- 
ing. The blaze had quite gone from her eyes, 



The Purple Thumb 313 

leaving them sunken embers in the ashes of her 
cheeks. Suddenly she flung up her right arm. 

" There is no need for you to read further. 
Can't you see it ? Feast your eyes on it, all of you 

— the Purple Thumb ! " 

The strange-colored ridge under her delicate nail 
seemed to glow with a dull, throbbing anger. We 
stared, fascinated. She still held her arm upraised. 

" Look well, you whose smug sensibilities I 
shock ! Ah, it means nothing to you ! But you do 
not know Haiti! Must I then explain? I am 
branded — branded with the birthmark of the 
negro! / am a mulatto!^' 

She reeled, and then flung back our glances with 
a sort of wild defiance. 

" This is the secret from which my mother fled, 
and from which I fled when he, whom the law 
called my husband, made it his taunt ! But I could 
not leave it behind. Always it was with me, mock- 
ing me, lashing me, whispering that the world 
whom I had forced to its knees would sometime 
know — and then, instead of its bouquets and its 
jewels and its plaudits, it would hurl my shame 
back into my face! And now it does know!" 

With a little moaning cry, she shriveled back 
into the nearest chair. 

Sewell Collins was standing like a man paralyzed 

— still rigid, when Madelyn darted of a sudden 



314 Miss Madelyn Mack,' Detective 

past his shoulder. It was then that the rest of us 
became aware for the first time that a window had 
opened. Against it crouched a man, raising with 
sinister steadiness a revolver. Without warning 
we were whirled to the climax of melodrama. 

We saw Madelyn swish across the path of the 
weapon, her arm flash out and down, and then a 
yellow flame snapped toward Ariel Burton's chair. 

But Madelyn's rush had diverted the muzzle the 
fraction that meant a spent bullet. 

Seiior Sebastian Amador crashed back under the 
impetus of her body into the arms of two men in 
black derbies, who might have been twin brothers 
of Lieutenant Byron's " plain-clothes," satellite, as 
they bobbed up from the window-sill. There came 
the click of handcuffs as the revolver clattered to 
the floor. The foremost of the two detectives 
touched his hat to Lieutenant Byron. 

" He shadowed you from the Lenox, sir. When 
we saw he answered your description of the man 
wanted for the Calvert murder, we trailed him 
from town, thinking to spot his game here before 
we bagged him." 

Ariel Burton had straightened in her chair. Her 
gaze clung to Amador's yellowish face, as his voice 
raised. 

" If I didn't get you one way, I reckon I have 
in another — maybe worse from your way of 



^ 



The Purple Thumb 315 

judging! You played a clever game with your 
mysterious vanishing act to escape me, and what 
I might have to tell the man you wanted to marry ; 
but you might have known better than to match 
yourself against me. So you were going to capture 
a millionaire husband, and play the high lady, you 
— you — " 

" Don't ! " The protest was wrung from Ariel 
Burton like a dry groan. 

One of the detectives clapped his hand over 
Amador's lips. 

" Shall we take him outside, Lieutenant ? " 

Lieutenant Byron nodded. 

" And — Franklin, see that you don't cut your 
margins so confoundedly close in future ! " 

Instinctively our gaze focused next on the figure 
of Sewell Collins. I will own at once that my esti- 
mate of his stamina had been sadly underrated. I 
had looked to see him perhaps in a state of collapse. 
Instead he had shaken off his stupor and was sur- 
veying us with a glint in his eyes that I had never 
thought to see there. Perhaps it was a flash of the 
rugged will of the old steel foundry days, which 
the emergency of the moment had awakened down 
under the ravages of midnight Broadway. 

He addressed the bewildered clerical gentleman 
with a touch of business-like crispness which I'll 
venture his voice had not held for years. 



316 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

" Here is the fee, sir, which I believe you would 
have expected under other circumstances. I shall 
not need your services further this evening ! " 

The minister fingered the yellow-backed bill 
nervously, cleared his throat, found voice sufficient 
for a murmured " good night," and shambled 
rather reluctantly toward the door. I have often 
wondered what impressions the experiences of the 
evening must have left in his peaceful, clerical 
brain ! 

As the door closed behind his retreating figure, 
Sewell Collins turned to Madelyn. 

" And now, Miss Mack, I will be obliged for a 
more detailed statement than you have yet given 
me. 

" May I ask you first to explain your presence 
here?" 

" I was descending from my car at the Union 
League Club when a note was handed me by a 
young woman, whom I recognized as Miss Burton's 
maid, stating that she was in trouble, and pleading 
that I accompany the messenger to her at once, and 
without publicity." 

" I surmised that that was probably the way it 
was done," said Madelyn musingly. " And what 
explanation was given you when you arrived ? " 

Sewell Collins shifted his position to avoid look- 
ing at Ariel Burton. 



The Purple Thumb 317 

" As a matter of fact, none — nor did I ask for 
any. I — I loved Miss Burton honestly. When 
I saw her I repeated my offer of the protection of 
my name, a step which I had suggested for some 
time, and urged an immediate marriage." 

Madelyn glanced at the crumpled form beyond 
Mr. Collins' shoulder, as she continued the story. 

" I should say at the outset that Miss Burton 
had divorced Amador, a fact unknown to him imtil 
after his arrival in New York. She had dissolved 
his legal claims to her. 

" The secret of her life had been buried so deep 
that it seemed impossible of resurrection. The 
gulf between Ariel Burton, the petted theatrical 
star, with her name in six-foot electric letters, and 
the obscure mulatto girl of Haiti, appeared impas- 
sable. She had made a new career for herself, had 
succeeded beyond her wildest dreams, was flattered, 
admired, feted. A millionaire had offered her mar- 
riage. And then came the first of the letters of 
the Purple Thumb. 

" She saw her castle of cards crashing, the brand 
of her birth exposed, herself dragged back to all 
from which she had fled. 

" Amador was shrewd enough to make his per- 
sonal communications to her purposely vague, and 
to supplement them through the newspapers. Only 
her identity was hidden. But she lived in constant 



318 MiM Madel]rn Mack, Detective 

terror that the next screaming * Extra ' would re- 
veal it. 

" We received a proof of Amador's desperation 
when, furious at the disappearance of his victim, he 
murdered his tool, Gwendolyn Calvert, in the be- 
lief that she had betrayed him. Whether he was 
animated by an insane jealousy, or coveted the 
spoils of the blackmailer, or both, I am convinced 
that, had the marriage to-night been consummated, 
while he was at large, sooner or later Miss Burton's 
life would have paid the forfeit. Incidentally, it 
was this last consideration — we must not mince 
words ! — the knowledge that she was in imminent 
danger of losing the position that, as Mrs. SewcU 
Collins, she would hold, which completed her de- 
spair, and determined her on the bold coup of her 
disappearance." 

A suggestion of weariness slipped into Madelyn's 



voice. 



It was necessary not only to elude her Neme- 
sis, but — and again we must speak frankly! — 
allow herself opportunity for her marital ambition. 
In other words, she must vanish — and yet still 
remain in touch with her world. The theatre of- 
fered the most effective background for her plans. 
How was it possible to spirit herself away from a 
crowded playhouse so that the manner of her dis- 
appearance would not be detected? 



The Purple Thumb 319 

" In the end, she decided to make use of the ob- 
vious means of a trunk." 

" But you said that was not the agency she cm- 
ployed ! " I protested accusingly. 

" I said she did not disappear in a trunk ! " said 
Madelyn impatiently. " The trunk which answered 
her purpose was carried from her dressing-room 
some time before its owner vanished. In fact, 
after it was gone she played through a portion of 
an act. Ariel Burton was not concealed in the 
trunk — but Jacqueline, her maid ! " 

" You forget," interrupted Thorny, heedless of 
Madelyn's glare at another break in her narrative, 
" that Jacqueline was as much in evidence after the 
trunk had gone as Miss Burton." 

" She was not," snapped Madelyn. " The young 
woman whom we regarded as the maid, who gave 
the hysterical alarm of Ariel Burton's disappear- 
ance, was not Jacqueline — but her mistress! Ariel 
Burton vanished by assuming the costume and role 
of her maid after she entered her dressing-room 
to change her gown for the last of the second act! 
If we had looked into the room during her absence 
on the stage, we would have found it empty. But 
that was a chance she had to take. And it was 
empty again when Miss Burton, in the character 
of Jacqueline, came out on an ostensible errand 
of her mistress — and returned to startle us 



320 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

with the announcement that the actress had van- 
ished ! 

" As a matter of fact, while we searched fran- 
tically for Ariel Burton, she was at our elbows! 

" In the meantime, the trunk, containing the 
obliging Miss Jacqueline, had arrived at the Lenox. 
Miss Burton, leaving the theatre, still in the role 
of her maid, returned to her apartments, released 
Jacqueline, and with her aid packed the trunk, and 
relocked it. Martha, the housekeeper, had been 
given a convenient leave of absence. When the 
task was finished, Miss Burton, leaving her maid 
at the flat as a sort of scout in the enemy's coun- 
try, made her way to the house she had rented in 
Yonkers — and awaited developments. I think 
that completes the statement you desired, Mr. 
Collins.'' 

Thorny had drawn a memorandum book from 
his pocket during the latter portion of the re- 
cital. 

" If you don't mind. Miss Mack, there is one 
other point. I will confess that I essayed the role 
of amateur detective, myself — with the usual re- 
sults. To aid me, I tried to make a chronological 
table of everything that occurred on the stage dur- 
ing the evening. I find that, contrary to your 
statement, both Miss Burton and her maid were in 
the dressing-room after the trunk had been sent 



The Purple Thumb 321 

away! We distinctly heard their two voices while 
we were before the door ! " 

" My dear Mr. Preston ! " retorted Madelyn in 
a tone that made Thorny wince, " as a playwright, 
there is no doubt of your ability. In future, I 
would advise you to confine your activities to that 
field! We heard two voices as you suggest — ap- 
parently. But they emanated from Miss Burton 
alone. Your stage training should have been the 
first to suggest the explanation. Miss Burton was 
using her dramatic ability to carry on an imaginary 
conversation — and I am prepared to admit that 
she succeeded admirably ! " 

Sewell Collins snapped open his watch. 

" I think that is all, Miss Mack ! " 

Ariel Burton still sat crumpled in her chair, her 
eyes on the floor. Sewell Collins glanced at her, 
hesitated, and drew from his pocket a slender, 
morocco-covered check book. He opened it, and 
produced a fountain pen. For a moment he wrote 
deliberately. 

" Miss Burton — or should I say Senora Ama- 
dor? — I had expected to present you with this as 
a wedding present ! " 

He laid a delicately engraved slip of paper on the 
stand, and, with a bow to us, walked to the 
door. 

" Miss Mack," he said, turning with an after- 



322 Miss Madel]rn Mack, Detective 

thought, "you will hear from me by mail to- 



morrow." 



And then occurred that which, to me, has always 
seemed the most incomprehensible incident of the 
whole grotesque affair. 

Ariel Burton roused herself. 

" Just a moment, Mr. Collins ! " 

With the slip of paper in her hand, she stepped 
after him. 

" You have not given me an opportunity to 
thank you. I am, indeed, grateful for your kind- 
ness ! " 

With a sudden movement she tore the check into 
quarters, and, bowing slightly, scattered on the 
floor the fragments of the order for two hundred 
thousand dollars. 

Sewell Collins stared, opened his lips, and then 
closed the door after him. 

With a little shrug, Ariel Burton returned to her 
chair, and leaned her elbows wearily on the stand. 
In its center was the only intimate object in the 
room, a mauve-bordered photograph of Sewell 
Collins. She reached across and laid it face down- 
ward. 

Lieutenant Byron turned awkwardly, and led us 
in our turn from the room. At the door, we saw 
that Ariel Burton had again picked up the photo- 
graph. 



The Purple Thumb 323 

" I wonder if she loved him after all? " I asked 
softly. 

" I should say that is just the question she is put- 
ting to herself," said Madelyn drily. 

It was not until we turned into the street for our 
walk back to the station that the silence was broken 
again, and then Lieutenant Byron spoke. 

" You will understand my professional curiosity. 
Miss Mack, when I ask how you did it ! " 

Madelyn laughed. 

*' I was wondering how long you would wait for 
that question ! It is when we drift away from the 
ear-marks of the professional criminal, where the 
card-index methods of headquarters are of no 
avail, that the lack of imagination in the police de- 
partment is evident. 

" For instance, the first three clues in the riddle 
of Miss Burton's dressing-room were a cigarette 
stub on the dressing table, a hair brush, and the 
ornament of the golden butterfly. The cigarette 
and the brush were both on the left side of the 
table, suggesting obviously that the last occu- 
pant of the room was a left-handed woman who 
smoked. 

" When I found that it was not Miss Burton, but 
her maid, who was the nicotine devotee, and when 
I was told, later, that Miss Burton was right- 
handed, and saw that the maid was left-handed, 



324 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

my half-crystallized theory received a set-back until 
I was informed by the housekeeper that the actress 
could on occasion use both hands with equal dex- 
terity. 

" There were three explanations which could ac- 
count for Miss Burton's disappearance. One of 
these was the substitution of herself in the charac- 
ter of her servant. This involved the physical elim- 
ination of the latter. How ? The golden butterfly 
gave the first suggestion. The most natural use 
for the ornament was as the handle of a knife. If 
this were the case, the blade had been snapped, evi- 
dently in some violent test of its strength. What, 
for example? 

"If a trunk had entered into the aflfair, we 
might fairly assume that the breaking of the knife 
had occurred in the making or enlarging of a 
breathing outlet for the imprisoned occupant. 

" When I saw that the trunk at the Lenox con- 
tained no evidence of such mutilation, I was at a 
loss until, on a second examination this evening, I 
found from an interior view that a luggage-label 
had been neatly pasted over the hole that had been 
made with augur and knife for Miss Jacqueline's 
benefit. I infer that the trunk had been previously 
prepared for the emergency, but that, in the mo- 
ment of service, an enlargement of the air-hole was 
found necessary." 



The Purple Thumb 325 

Lieutenant Taylor walked on in a silence, which 
from him was perhaps a more sincere appreciation 
than words. 

I may state here that in due course Sebastian 
Amador was led to the electric chair at Sing Sing. 
And, as the postscript of my story is largely per- 
sonal, it would be as well to gather up at this point, 
also, the loose threads as to my other char- 
acters. 

Something less than a week after the final chap- 
ter of our drama, Sewell Collins sailed for Europe. 
Through our Paris correspondent, we learned that 
he spent the next three months at the German 
baths. His career as a Broadway patron has 
never been renewed. 

Of Ariel Burton — as Ariel Burton — we have 
heard or seen nothing since that memorable night 
in Yonkers. Perhaps somewhere, under a different 
name, she has begun her stage career anew. I 
never enter a theatre that I do not find myself 
scanning the stage for some suggestion of the 
vanished " star " of " The Girl from Milwau- 
Kce. • • • 

We were nearing the Yonkers station when 
Madelyn glanced back at Thorny and me. 
" I was very nearly forgetting something, Nora. 



326 Miss Madelyn Mack, Detective 

This is evidently your property. I found it on the 
back stairs of the Lenox in the trail of Gwendolyn 
Calvert's flight.'* 

She extended an unsealed envelope, addressed to 
me at The Bugle office. There are those who say 
that a crisis in one's life casts a preparatory 
shadow. For my part, I opened the letter from 
the dead without a suspicion of the message it held 
for me. 

" My dear Miss Noraker : 

" I don't know why I am writing this. 
Something stronger than my own will 
tells me that I should do it — and do it 
now, or it will be too late. Is it a hunch 
that something is about to happen to me 
— something different from anything 
Gwen has yet found on the boards? 

" When I told you that Thorny Preston 
had promised to marry me, I did not tell 
you the truth. Maybe, you can under- 
stand the hysteria of a woman with a 
hopeless love. I doubt it. Few women 
can — who haven't been through it ! 

" And I know now, too, that Mr. Pres- 
ton's conversation with Miss Burton had 
a much different meaning than that which 
I supposed. But this is not alone the rea- 



The Purple Thumb 327 

son for my writing you. It is to tell you 
the name of the woman whom Mr. Pres- 
ton does love. 

" On second thought, however, I am 
not going to do it! If you cannot guess 
it for yourself, you do not deserve to 
know, 

"Gwendolyn Calvert." 

A truant wind whisked the letter from my hand, 
as I finished it under the glare of a comer light. 
With a gasp I saw Thorny Preston spring forward 
and rescue it from the Yonkers gutter. He 
straightened to return it and then paused. His 
glance had caught mechanically his name on the 
crumpled page. 

He raised his eyes inquiringly, saw my flaming 
face under the arc-lamp, and then, without a word, 
read the note deliberately. I gathered up my 
skirts, and fled. I thought I heard him call after 
me. 

We were midway in our early morning ride 
back to town when Thorny, swinging out of the 
smoker, paused at my seat. 

" By the way, Nora, who is the society editor of 
The Bugle since Miss Williams left?" 
Why?" I asked, unsuspecting. 
I thought perhaps you might not like to write 






328 Miss Madel]rn Mack, Detective 



the announcement of your own wedding. We arc 
to be married this afternoon! " 

The world whirled about my ears, as I stared 
back at him. And then — 

" A proposal in a railroad car! " I flared. 

Thorny grinned. 

" My dear girl, I thought you had been a re- 
porter long enough to appreciate the human inter- 
est element ! " 



THE END. 



• M ^ 



. 4. 



M ISS BILLY-MARRIE D 

A Sequd to " Miss Billy" and " Miss 



BiUy's 



ion 



•t 



Sy Eleanor H. T^orter 



Attthor of "PoUyannax" T\m GLAD BotJk (Trade Mark\ 
CamBts," **Tli« Turn of tho Tido/' ote. 



i2mo, doih JecoraUve, with fronllsfUece In full color, dtcofoihe 
Jackei. ^e/ S I J5: caniage paid $1,40 



In which the gifted aathor of **Pollyanna/' the most popular 
book for the year 1913* scores another success and makes of 
the married life of adorable Billy Neilson — the heroine of the 
MISS BILLY books — and Bertram Henshaw a story of un- 
usual tenderness and sweetness. There is a deal of delicious 
humor and common sense, too, in the story, and happiness in 
abundance, even in the trying days when the young bride finds 
herself bereft of a cook and burdened with the care of a Bea- 
con Street household. But whether the weather be fair or 
threatening, she is ** just Billy," happy when making someone's 
burden lighter, happier still with the advent of Bertram, Jr., 
and happiest of all when her husband is able to use his strong 
right arm again, even to paint the dreaded "face of a girl." 

As is the case with all of Mrs. Porter's books, the story is 
<' always life," gracefully and sympatheticaUy presented, carry- 
ing with it a message of happiness. 



T HE ROSE OF ROS ES 

Sy <!Uri. Henry ^B^^ 

Avtlior of **Thm Ca^Mr of Dr. Wmitw** 



i2mo, doih JeeoraHoe, wtth fnmiUpiece In full color 
t^C^ $1 .25 : carriage paid $1 ,40 



A girl of unusual beauty, endowed with a singing Toice of rare 
quality, and possessor of that charm of person which men some- 
times describe as magnetic, — this is Fraulein Antoinette 
Kr5ger, whom Conrad Questenberg, a young American archi- 
tect, visiting abroad, first meets in a KaffetJuMs in Bremen, 
Germany, where the fair ** Toni " entertains erery erening. 

Toni has ambitions which lean towards a career In Anurika, 
as Questenberg learns at what he had intended to be his fare- 
well meeting with the girl. Very generously he offers a chance 
of a voyage to the land of the free if Toni will agree to ** a 
trial engagement." Impulsively, she accepts, and then — the 
love game is on. 

The author has achieved a thing unusual in developing a 
love story which adheres to conventions under unconventional 
circumstances. She has written a novel out of the ordinary 
in every way and one of striking brilliance, — remarkable for 
its unaffectedness and human interest appeal. 



MISS MADELYN MACK, 

DETECTIVE 

In which are solved the mysteries 

of " The Purple Thumb," or " The White 

Orchids," "The Man with Nine Lives," "The 

Missing &idegroom," " Cinderella's Slq)per," etc. 

iBy Hugh C. IVet 



f2mo, dolh deeoraiiPe, with afrtmUxphee In fall color, from a 
painilng hy Wm. T^on Dnaaer. Nti $1,25; carriage paid $1 ,40 



No field of fiction is more interesting than that of a detect- 
ive, or professional investigator of mysteries, and it is easy to 
predict a popular welcome for this clever story of Mr. Weir's. 
The reader will be absorbed in following the clues which guided 
Madelyn Mack, the unique woman detective, in the solution of 
the strange mystery of *< The Purple Thumb." And this is 
only one of her remarkable cases in a continuous series of 
adventures which constitute a tale of swift and dramatic action. 
Clever in plot and effective in style, the author has seised on 
some of the most sensational features of modem life, and the 
result is a detective novel that gets away from the beaten track 
of mystery stories in the first page and never returns to iL 



:■:■:■:.:■:■:■:•;•:■:■>:•:■:■>:,; 



PLANTATION STORIES OF 
OLD LOUISIANA 

(By jindrews Wilkinson 



l2mo, cloth Jecoraiioe, illuUrateJ hy Ckartet Lioingtion Bull 
:ACei $2, 00 ; caniago paid $2.20 



Primarily, these nature and animal stories are for the chil- 
dren's hour, but their underlying philosophy and hnmor will 
charm every member of the household from the smallest toddler 
to the old folks. In Old Jason, the author has created a 
character who will rival the justly famed Uncle Remus. The 
old fellow's legends, related in the quaint negro dialect of the 
South of years ago, are remarkable examples of a vanishing 
folk lore and are certain to entertain even the most blas^ 
reader. Nor has the author been satisfied with having created 
only that delightful character. He has included in his volume 
stories of birds and animals which will take rank with Kipling's 
Jungle Books ; he has given us stories in the hitherto little 
known Creole dialect, and through them all he has maintained 
an attractive interest which grasps the reader at the very 
outset and holds him until the last page has been read. 



Selections from 

The Page Company's 

List of Fiction 



"groRKS OF 
ELEANOR R PORTER 

POLLTANNA: The GLAD Book {I70,ooo) 

(tsadb mabk) 

Cloth decorative, illustrated by Stockton Mulford. 

Net, $1.25; carnage paid, $1.40 

" All unconsciously it teaches a simple, wholesome lesson, 
which, if followed, would quickly transform this old world as a 
place to live in." — Ex-Poetmaater General John Wanamaker. 

MISS BILLY mhPnnling) 

Cloth decorative. With a frontispiece in full color from a 
painting by G.Tyng $1.50 

'' The story is delightful, and as for Billy herself — she's all 
right I " — Philadelphia Preee. 

MISS BILLT'S DECISION (5^ PHnting) 

A sequel to " Miss BiUy." 

Cloth decorative. With a frontispiece in full color from a 
painting by Henry W. Moore . Net, $1.25; carriage vaid, $1.40 

'' The story is written in bright, clever style and has plenty 
of action and humor. Miss Billylis nice to know and so are her 
friends." — New Haven Times Leader. 

CROSS CURRENTS 

Cloth decorative, illustrated $1.00 

*' To one who enjoys a story of life as it is to-day, with its 

sorrows as well as its triumphs, this volume is sure to appeal." 

— Book New8 MorUMy, 

THE TURN OF THE TIDE 

Cloth decorative, illustrated $1.25 

'' A very beautiful book showing; the influence that went to 
the developing of the life of a dear little girl into a true and good 
woman." — Herald and Pretbyter, CindnnaHf Ohio. 



THE PAGE COMPANY'S 



WORKS OF 

L. M- MONTGOMERY 

ANNE OF GREEN GABLES {?8ihPH'nJAniii) 

Cloth decorative, illustrated by M. A. and W. A. J. Glaiis. 

$1.50 

" In ' Anne of Green Gables ' you will find the dearest and 
most nx>ving and delightful child since the immortal Alice." 
— Mark Tyooin in a leUer to Francis WUaon. 

ANNE OF AVONLEA {eothPHnHng) 

Cloth decorative, illustrated by George Gibbs $1.50 

" A book to lift the spirit and send the pessimist into baok- 
niptcy! " — Meredith Nichohon, 

CHRONICLES OF AVONLEA (ethPrinHng) 

Cloth decorative, illustrated by George Gibbs. 

Net, $1.25; carriage paid, $1.40 

** The author shows a wonderful knowledge of humanity, 
great insight and warm-heartedness in the manner in which 
some of the scenes are treated, and the sympathetic way the 

Smtle peculiarities of the charaeters are brought out." — 
altimore Sun, 

THE STORY GIRL (7th PHnting) 

Cloth decorative, illustrated by George Gibbs $1.50 

** A book that holds one's interest and keeps a kindly smile 

upon one's Ups and in one's heart as well." — Chicago Inter' 

Ocean, 

EILMENY OF THE ORCHARD (9th PHnting) 

Cloth decorative^ illustrated by George Gibbs $1.50 

" A story bom m the heart of Arcadia and brimful of the 

sweet and simple Ufe of the primitive environment." — Boeton 

Herald. 

THE GOLDEN ROAD (SdPnnUng) 

Cloth decorative, illustrated by George Gibbs. 

Jve^, $1.25; carriage paid, $1.40 

In which it is proven that ** Life was a rose-lipped comrade 
with purple flowers drippine from her finders." 

" It is a simple, tender tale, touched to higher notes, now and 
then, by delicate hints of romance, trageay and pathos." — 
Chicago Record-Heralds 



UST OF FICTION 



WORKS OF 

CHARLES Q. D. ROBERTS 



HAUHTERS OF THE SILENCES 

Obthy one volume, with many drawings by Charles livingBton 
Bull, four of which are m full color .... $2.00 
The stories in Mr. Roberts's new ooUectionare the strongest and 
best he has ever written. 

He has largely taken for his subjects those animals rarely met 
with m books, whose lives are spent '* In the Silences," where they 
•re the supreme rulers. Mr. Roberts has written of them sympa- 
thetically, as always, but with fine regard for the scientific truth. 
" As a writer about ariimals, Mr. Rx>berts occupies an enviable 
plaoe. He is the most literary, as well as the most imaginative 
and vivid of all the nature wnters." — Brooklyn EagU, 

RED FOX 

Thb Stort of His Adyentubous Careeb in the Rinqwaak 
Wilds, and of His Final Triumph over the Enemies of 
His Kind. With fifty illustrations, including frontispiece in 
color and cover design by Charles Livmgston Bull. 
Souare quarto, cloth decorative . . $2.00 

" True in substance but fascinating as fiction. It will interest 
old and voung, city-bound and free-KK>ted, those who know ani- 
mals and those who do not." — Chicago Record-Herald. 

" A brilliant chapter in natural history .'* — Pkdaddphia NorOi 
American. 

THE KINDRED OF THE WH^D 

A Book of Animal Life. With fifty-one full-i)a^ plates and 
many decorations from drawings by Charles Livmgston liuU 

Souare quarto, decorative cover $2.00 

" Is in many wavs the most brilliant collection of ammal stories 
that has appearcKi; well named and well done.'' — John Bur- 
roughs. 

THE WATCHERS OF THE TRAttS 

A companion volume to " The Kindred of the WMd.** With 
forty-eight full-page plates and many decorations from draw- 
ings by Charles Xivingston Bull. 
Sc^iare quarto, decorative oover $2.00 



THE PAGE COMPANY'S 



" These stories are exquisite in their refinement, and yet robust 
in their appreciation of some of the rougher phases of woodcraft. 
Among the many writers about animals, Mr. Roberts occupies an 
enviable place." — The Outlook, 

** This IS a book full of delight. An additional charm lies in Mr. 
Bull's faithful and graphic illustrations, which in fashion all their 
own tell the story of the wild life, illuminating and supplementing 
the pen pictures of the author." — Literary iHgest. 

THE HOUSE IN THE WATER 

With thirty full-page illustrations bv Charles Livingston Bull 
and Frank Vining Smith. Ck>ver design and decorations by 
Charles Livingston Bull. 

12mo, cloth decorative $1.50 

** Every paragraph is a splendid picture, suggesting in a few 

words the appeal of the vast, illimitable wudemess." — The 

Chicago Tribune. 

THE HEART THAT KNOWS 

Library 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . . . . SL50 

'' A novel of singularly effective strength, luminous in literary 

color, rich in its passionate, yet tender druna." — New York Globe. 

EARTH'S ENIGMAS 

A new edition of Mr. Roberts's first volume of fiction, pub- 
lished in 1892, and out of print for several years, with the addi- 
tion of three new stories, and ten illustrations by Charies 
Livingston Bull. 

Library 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . . . $1.50 

" It will rank hi^h among collections of short stories. In 
' Earth's Enigmas ' is a wider range of subject than in the ' Kin- 
dred of the Wild.' " — Review from advance eheeie of the illuetrated 
edition by Tiffany Blake in the Chicago Evening Poet. 

BARBARA LADD 

With four illustrations by Frank Verbeck. 

Library 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . . . $1.50 

*' From the opening chapter to the final page Mr. Roberts lures 

us on by his rapt devotion to the changing aspects of Nature and 

by his keen and sympathetic analysis of human character." — 

Aeton Transcript. 




UST OF FICTION 



CAMERON OF LOCHIEL 

Translated from the French of Philippe Aubert de Ga^)^, 

frontispiece in color by H. 0. Edwards. 

Library 12mOy cloth decorative $1.50 

" Professor Roberts deserves the thanks of his reader for giving 
a wider audience an opportunity to enjoy this striking bit^ 
French Canadian literature." — arookX}^ Eagle, 

THE PRISONER OF MADEMOISELLE 

With frontispiece by Frank T. MerrilL 

Library 12mo, cloth decorative $1.50 

A tale of Acad^ia, — a land which is the author's heart's delight, 

— of a valiant young lieutenant and a winsome maiden, who first 

captures and then captivates. 

THE HEART OF THE ANCIENT WOOD 

With six illustrations by James L. Weston. 

Library 12mo, decorative cover . « . . • $1.50 

" One of the most fascinating novels of recent days." — BoaUm 
Journal. 

'* A classic twentieth-century romance." — New York Cammer' 
cial Advertiser, 

THE FORGE IN THE FOREST 

Being the Narrative of the Acadian Ranger, Jean de Mer. 
Seigneur de Briart, and how he crossed the Black Abb^, ana 
of his adventures in a strange fellowship* Illustrated by Heniy 
Sandham, R. C. A. 

Library 12mo, cloth decorative • . • • • $1.50 
A story of pure love and heroic adventure. 

BY THE MARSHES OF MINAS 

Library 12mo, cloth decorative, illustrated . . $1.50 
Most of these romances are in the author's lighter and more 

playful vein; each is a unit of absorbing interest and exquisite 

workmanship. 

A SISTER TO EVANGELINE 

Being the Story of Yvonne de Lamoiuie, and how she went into 
exile with the villagers of Grand Pr^. 

Library i2mo, doth decorative, illustrated • • . $1.50 
Swift action, fresh atmosphere, wholesome purity, deep 
Bion, and searching analysis characterise this straig noTal. 



THE PAGE COMPANY'S 



VORKS OF 

THEODORE GOODRIDGE ROBERTS 

THE HARBOR MASTER 

Cloth decorative, with a frontispiece in full color from a 
painting by Jolm Goss. Nei^ $1.25; carriage paid, $1.40 
" The salt of the sea is in every chapter. From start to finish 

the story thrills with its action and clear presentation of life in 

the open." — Kansas City Star, 

RAYTON : A Backwoods Mystery 

Cloth decorative, illustrated bv John Goes. 

Net, $1.25; carriage void, $1.40 

" The story has plenty of action, breathes of the fresh fidds 
and forests of New Brunswick, and presents life in all its health 
and vigor." — Boston Transcript. 

A CAPTAIN OF RALEIGH'S 

Cloth decorative, with a frontispiece in full color from a paint- 
ing by John Goss $1.50 

" A strong, straiditforward tale of love and adventure, weO 
worth reading." — Springfield Union. 

A CAVALIER OF VIRGINIA 

Cloth decorative, illustrated by Louis D. Gowins $1.50 

** The action is always swift and romantic and tne love is of 

the kind that thrills the reader. The characters are admirably 

drawn and the reader follows with deep interest the adv^itures 

of the two young people." — Baltimore Sun, 

HEMMING, THE ADVENTURER 

Cloth decorative, with six illustrations by A. G. Lamed. 

$1.50 

" Its ease of style, its rapidity, its interest from page to page, 
are admirable; and it shows that inimitable power — the st^ry 
teller's gift of veriflimilitude." — The Reader. 

BROTHERS OF PERIL 

Cloth decorative, with four illustrations in color by H. C. 

Edwards $1.50 

A tale of Newfoundland in the sixteenth century, and of the 
now extinct Beothic Indians who lived there. 

** An original and absorbing story. A dashing storjr with a 
historical turn. There is no lack of excitement or action in it, 
all being described in vigorous, striking style." — Boston Trains 
script. 



LIST OF FICTION 



"groRKS OF 
ROBERT NEILSON STEPHENS 

Each. one volume^ library l2mOf doth decorative . . $1^ 

THE FLIGHT OF GEORGIANA 

A Romance of the Days of the Young Pretender. IUub- 

trated>d>y H. C. Edwards. 

'' A Iove-«toryr in the highest de«pree, a dashing story, and a 
remarkably well finished piece of work." — Chicago keoard" 
Herald, 

THE BRIGHT FACE OF DANGER 

Being an account of some adventures of Henri de Launay, son 
of the Sieur de la Toumoire. Illustrated by H. C. Edwards. 
'' Mr. Stephens has fairly outdone himself. We thank him 

heartily. The story is nothing if not spirited and entertaining, 

rational and convincing.'' — Boston Transcript. 

THE MYSTERY OF MURRAY DAVENPORT 

(40th thousand.) 

** This is easily the best thing that Mr. Stephens has yet done. 
Those familiar with his other novels can best judge the measure 
of this praise, which is generous." — Buffalo News. 

CAPTAIN RAVENSHAW 

Or, The Maid of Cheapside. (52d thousand.) A romance 

of Elizabethan London. Illustrations by Howard Pyle and 

other artists. 

Not since the absorbing adventures of D'Artagnan have we 
had anything so good in the blended vein of romance and comedy. 

" The story proceeds with a rapidity which holds the attention 
of the reader from the start to the finish. The characters are 
well portrayed with a vividness only found in this well-known 
author." — The Waterbury Democrat. 

" It is a work of fiction well worth reading, and once read it is 
not easily forgotten." — Common Sense Magazine, Chicago. 

THE CONTINENTAL DRAGOON 

A Romance of Philipsb Manor House in 1778. (53d 

thousand.) lllustrated.by H. C. Edwards. 

A stirring romance of the Revolution, with its scenes laid on 
neutral territory. 

** One of the most delishtful stories we have had for miuiy a 
day." — Chicago RecordrUerald, 



8 THE PAGE COMPANY'S 

PHILIP WINWOOD 

(70th thousand.) A Sketch of the Domestic History of an 
American Captain in the War of Independence, embracing 
events that occurred between and during the years 1763 wd 
1785 in New York and London. Illustrated by E. W. D. 
Hamilton. 

AN ENEMY TO THE KING 

rrOth thousand.) Illustrated by H. De M. Young. 

An historical romance of the sixteenth century T^scribin^ the 
adventures of a young French nobleman at the court of ^^nry 
III., and on the field with Henry IV. 

THE ROAD TO PARIS 

A Stort of Advbnturb. (35th thousand.) Illustrated by 
H. C. Edwards. 

An historical romance of the eighteenth century, being an 
account of the life of an American gentleman adventurer. 

A GENTLEMAN PLAYER 

His Adventures on a Secret Mission for Ouben Eliza- 
beth. (48th thousand.) Illustrated by Fnu^ T. Merrill. 
The stor^ of a young gentleman who joins Shakespeare's 
company of players, and becomes a protdg6 of the great poet. 

CLEMENTINA'S HIGHWAYMAN 

Illustrated bv A. Everhart. 

The story is Ledd in the mid-Georgian period. It is a dasiung, 
sparkling, vivacious comedy. 

TALES FROM BOHEMIA 

Illustrated by Wallace Goldsmith. 

These bright and clever tales deal with people of the theatre and 
odd characters in other walks of life which fringe on Bohemia. 

A SOLDIER OF VALLEY FORGE 

By Robert Neilson Stephens and Theodore Goodridob 
Roberts. 

With frontispiece by Frank T. Merrill. 
" The plot snows invention and is developed with originality, 
and there is incident in abundance.'' — Brooklyn Times, 

THE SWORD OF BUSSY 

Bv Robert Neilson Stephens and Herman Nickehson. 

With frontispiece by Edmund H. Garrett. 

Netf $1.25; carriaoe paid, $1.40 

''The plot is lively, dashing and fascinating, the very kind 
of a story that one does not want to stop reading until it ia 
Bnishedr — Bo9Um HerM. 




LIST OF FICTION 



WORKS OF 

LILIAN BELL 

CAROLINA LEE 

With a frontispiece in color by Dora Wheeler Keith. 
Library 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . $1.50 

" A charming portrayal of the attractive life of the South, 

refreshing as a breeze that blows through a pine forest '* — 

Albany Times^Unum. 

HOPE LORING 

Illustrated by Frank T. Merrill. 

Library 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . . . . $1.50 

" TaU, slender, and athletic, fragile-looking, yot with nerves 

and sinews of steel under the velvet flesh, frank as a boy and 

tender and beautiful as a woman, free and independent, yet nol 

bold — such is * Hope Loring.' " — Dorothy Dix, 

ABROAD WITH THE JIMMIES 

With a portrait in duogravure, of the author. 

Library 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . . $1.50 

" Full of osone, of snap, of ginger, of swing and momentum." 

— Chicago Evening Po9t, 

AT HOME WITH THE JARDIKES 

Library 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . • . $1.50 

" Bits of ^a}r humor, sunnv, whimsical philosophy, and keen 
indubitable msight into the less evident '«49pects and workings 
of pure human nature, with a slender thread of a cleverly 
extraneous love storv. keep the interest of the reader fresh.*' — 
Chicago Record-Herala, 

THE CONCENTRATIONS OF BEE 

With colored frontispiece. 

Library 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . . > . $1.50 

*^ One of the cleverest women writers of fiction is LOian Bell. 

She belongs to the yoimger class, old enough to have experience, 

but not old enough to have lost the saving grace of enthusiasm " 

— Los Angeles Express, 

THE INTERFERENCE OF PATRICIA AND A 
BOOK OF GIRLS 

With a frontispiece from drawing by Frank T. Merrill. 
Library 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . . $1 .50 

" Lilian Bell surely understands girls, for she depicts all the 
vaiiflykkxui of giri nature ao charmingly." — Chicago JaumaL 



xo THE PAGE COMPANY'S 

VORKS OF 

NATHAN GALLIZIER 

THE SORCERESS OF ROME 

Cloth decorativei with four drawings in color by " The Kin- 

neys" $1.50 

The love-etory of Otto III., the boy emperor, and Stephania, 
wife of the Senator Crescentius of Rome. 

CASTEL DEL MONTE 

Cloth decorative, with six drawings by H. C. Edwards. 

$1.50 

A romance of the fall of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in Italy. 

THE COURT OF LUCIFER 

Cloth decorative, with four drawings in color by " The Kin- 

neys" $1.50 

An historical romance woven around the famous Borgia 
family. 

THE HILL OF VENUS 

Cloth decorative, with four drawings in color by Edmund H. 
Garrett. iNre(,$1.35; corricH^pouf, $1.50 

This is a vivid and powerful romance of the thirteenth century 
in the times of the great Ghibelline wars. 

VORKS OF 

HELEN M. WINSLOW 

THE PLEASURING OF SUSAN SMITH 

Cloth decorative, illustrated by Jessie Gillespie. 

Net, $1.00; carriage paid, $1.15 

** One is glad to recommend this book to folk who care for 
romance, humor and good sense, simpUcity and brevity as 
quite the sort of reading they are sure to like by way of enter- 
tainment." — Chicago Inter-Ocean. 

PEGGY AT SPINSTER FARM 

Cloth decorative, illustrated by Mary G. Huntsman . $1.50 

" Very alluring is the picture she draws of the old-faahioned 

house, the splendid old trees, the pleasant walks, the gorgeous 

sunsets, and — or it would not be Helen Winslow — the cats." 

— The Boston Transcript,