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Valley of Fear 

A Sherlock Holmes Novel 



"The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," "The White 

Company," Etc. 






ConsMffr, 191i, bt 

PRINTED w ixn imrmQi states of America 

* * • * > 

• • • • • • 

• •• 
•• •• 

• ••• 

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• •• 

• •• 


• ••• « 
•- • • • 


- ' • . - 

• * 


'• • • 





Thk Warning • • • • 11 


Sherlock Holmes Discourses • • • • » 28 


The Tragedy of Birlstone • . • « • ^ 44 

Darkness • • • • 62 


The People of the Drama •••*•• 88 

A Dawning Light 105 

The Solution 129 


The Man I6l 


*^Thb Bodtmaster • 17$ 

oo [5] 






Lodge S4i1, Vebmissa • • • • 208 

The Valley of Fear 2S7 

The Darkest Hour ft56 

Danger 280 

The Trapping of Birdy Edwards 298 

Pakt I 




I AM inclined to think " said I. 
"I should do so," Sherlock Holmes re- 
marked impatiently. 

I believe that I am one of the most long-suffer- 
ing of mortals ; but I'll admit that I was annoyed 
at the sardonic interruption. "Really, Holmes, 
said I severely, "you are a little trying at times. 

He was too much absorbed with his own 
thoughts to give any immediate answer to my 
remonstrance. He leaned upon his hand, with 
his untasted breakfast before him, and he stared 
at the slip of paper which he had just drawn 
from its envelope. Then he took the envelope 
itself, held it up to the light, and very carefully 
studied both the exterior and the jflap. 

It is Porlock's writing," said he thoughtfully, 
I can hardly doubt that it is Porlock's writing, 



tiiough I have seen it only twice before. The 
Greek e with the peculiar top flourish is distinc- 
tive. But if it is Porlock, then it must be some- 
thing of the very first importance." 

He was speaking to himself rather than to 
me; but my vexation disappeared in the interest 
which the words awakened. 

"Who then is Porlock?" I asked. 

"Porlock, Watson, is a nom-de-plume, a mere 
identification mark ; but behind it lies a shifty and 
evasive personality. In a former letter he frank- 
ly informed me that the name was not his own, 
and defied me ever to trace him among the teem- 
ing millions of this great city. Porlock is im- 
portant, not for himself, but for the great man 
with whom he is in touch. Picture to yourself 
the pilot fish with the shark, the jackal with the 
lion,— anything that is insignificant in compan- 
ionship with what is formidable: not only for- 
midable, Watson, but sinister — ^in the highest de- 
gree sinister. That is where he comes within my 
purview. You have heard me speak of Profes- 
sor Moriarty?" 

"The famous scientific criminal, as famous 

among crooks as '* 



"My blushes, Watson 1" Holmes miinnured in 
a deprecating voice. 

"I was about to say, as he is unknown to the 

"A touch! A distinct touch 1" cried Holmes. 
"You are developing a certain unexpected vein 
of pawky humor, Watson, against which I must 
learn to guard myself. But in calling Moriarty 
a criminal, you are uttering libel in the eyes of 
the law — ^and there lie the glory and the wonder 
of it! The greatest schemer of all time, the or- 
ganizer of every deviltry, the controlling brain of 
the underworld, a brain which might have made 
or marred the destiny of nations, — ^that's the 
man I But so aloof is he from general suspicion^ 
so immune from criticism, so admirable in his 
management and self-effacement, that for those 
very words that you have uttered he could hale 
you to a court and emerge with your year's pen- 
sion as a solatium for his wounded character. Is 
he not the celebrated author of *The Dynamics of 
an Asteroid,* a book which ascends to such rare- 
fied heights of pure mathematics that it is said 
that there was no man in the scientific press ca^ 
pable of criticizing it? Is this a man to traduce? 



Foul-mouthed doctor and slandered professor — 
such would be your respective rdles I That's ge- 
nius, Watson. But if I am spared by lesser men, 
our day will surely come." 

"May I be there to see I" I exclaimed devoutly. 
"But you were speaking of this man Porlock." 

"Ah, yes — ^the so-called Porlock is a link in 
the chain some little way from its great attach- 
ment. Porlock is not quite a sound link — be- 
tween ourselves. He is the only flaw in that 
chain so far as I have been able to test it." 

"But no chain is stronger than its weakest 

"Exactly, my dear Watson I Hence the ex- 
treme importance of Porlock. Led on by some 
rudimentary aspirations toward right, and en- 
couraged by the judicious stimulation of an oc- 
casional ten-pound note sent to him by devious 
methods, he has once or twice given me advance 
information which has been of value, — ^that high- 
est value which anticipates and prevents rather 
than avenges crime. I cannot doubt that, if we 
had the cipher, we should find that this communi- 
cation is of the nature that I indicate." 

Again Hohnes flattened out the paper upon 


his unused plate. I rose and, leaning over him, 
stared down at the curious inscription, which ran 
as follows: 

584 C2 18 127 86 81 4 17 21 41 


26 BIRLSTONE 9 47 171 

"What do you make of it, Holmes?** 
"It is obviously an attempt to convey secret 

"But what is the use of a cipher message with- 
out the cipher?" 

"In this instance, none at all." 
"Why do you say *in this instance' ?" 
"Because there are many ciphers which I 
would read as easily as I do the apocrypha of 
the agony colunm: such crude devices amuse 
the intelligence without fatiguing it. But this 
is different. It is clearly a reference to the words 
in a page of some book. Until I am told which 
page and which book I am powerless." 
•*But why 'Douglas' and *Birlstone'?" 



"Clearly because those are words which were 
not contained in the page in question/' 

"Then why has he not indicated the book?" 

"Your native shrewdness, my dear Watson, 
that innate cunning which is the delight of your 
friends, would surely prevent you from inclosing 
cipher and message in the same envelope. Should 
it miscarry, you are undone. As it is, both have 
to go wrong before any harm comes from it. 
Our second post is now overdue, and I shall be 
surprised if it does not bring us either a further 
letter of explanation, or, as is more probable, the 
very volume to which these figures refer/' 

Holmes' calculation was fulfilled within a very 
few minutes by the appearance of Billy, the page, 
with the very letter which we were expecting. 

"The same writing,*' remarked Holmes, as he 
opened the envelope, "and actually signed,'* he 
added in an exultant voice as he unfolded the 
epistle. "Come, we are getting on, Watson." 
His brow clouded, however, as he glanced over 
the contents. 

**Dear me, this is very disappointing! I fear, 
Watson, that all our expectations come to noth- 


ing. I trust that the man Porlock will come to 
no harmu 

" 'Dear Mr. Holmes/ he says, *I will go no 
further in this matter. It is too dangerous — ^he 
suspects me, I can see that he suspects me. He 
came to me quite unexpectedly after I had actu- 
ally addressed this envelope with the intention 
of sending you the key to the cipher. I was able 
to cover it up. If he had seen it, it would have 
gone hard with me. But I read suspicion in his 
eyes. Please bum the cipher message, which can 
now be of no use to you. 

" Teed Poelock.' " 

Holmes sat for some little time twisting this 
letter between his fingers, and frowning, as he 
stared into the fire. 

"After all," he said at last, "there may be noth- 
ing in it. It may be only his guilty conscience. 
Knowing himself to be a traitor, he may have 
read the accusation in the other's eyes.'* 

"The other being, I presume. Professor Mori- 

"No less 1 When any of that party talk about 
*He' you know whom they mean. There is one 
predominant *He' for all of them." 

"But what can he do?" 



"Huml That's a large question. When you 
have one of the first hrains of Europe up agamst 
you, and all the powers of darkness at his back, 
there are infinite possibilities. Anyhow, Friend 
Porlock is evidently scared out of his senses — 
kindly compare the writing in the note to that 
upon its envelope; which was done, he tells us, 
before this ill-omened visit. The one is clear 
and firm. The other hardly legible.** 

"Why did he write at all? Why did he not 
simply drop it?" 

"Because he feared I would make some in* 
quiry after him in that case, and possibly bring 
trouble on him." 

"No doubt," said I. "Of course." I had 
picked up the original cipher message and was 
bending my brows over it. "It's pretty madden- 
ing to think that an important secret may lie 
here on this slip of paper, and that it is beyond 
human power to penetrate it." 

Sherlock Holmes had pushed away his un- 
tasted breakfast and lit the unsavory pipe which 
was the companion of his deepest meditations, 
"I wonder!" said he, leaning back and staring 
at the ceiling. "Perhaps there are points which 


have escaped your Maehiavellian intellect. Let 
us consider the problem in the light of pure rea- 
son. This man's reference is to a book. ' That 
is our point of departure." 

"A somewhat vague one.** 

"Let us see then if we can narrow it down. 
As I focus my mind upon it, it seems rather less 
impenetrable. What indications have we as to 
this bookr 


"Well, well, it is surely not quite so bad as 
that. The cipher message begins with a large 
684, does it not? We may take it as a working 
hypothesis that 584 is the particular page to 
which the cipher refers. So our book has already 
become a large book, which is surely something 
gained. What other indications have we as to 
the nature of this large book? The next sign 
is C2. What do you make of that, Watson?" 

"Chapter the second, no doubt." 

"Hardly that, Watson. You will, I am sure, 
agree with me that if the page be given, the nima- 
ber of the chapter is immaterial. Also that if 
page 584 finds us only in the second chapter, the 



length of the first one must have been really 

^^Columnl" I cried. 

"Brilliant, Watson. You are scintillating this 
morning. If it is not column, then I am very 
much deceived. So now, you see, we begm to 
visualize a large book, printed in double columns, 
which are each of a considerable length, since one 
of the words is numbered in the document as the 
two hundred and ninety-third. Have we reached 
the limits of what reason can supply?" 

"I fear that we have." 

"Surely you do yourself an injustice. One 
more coruscation, my dear Watson — ^yet another 
brain-wave! Had the volume been an unusual 
one, he would have sent it to me. Instead of 
that, he had intended, before his plans were 
nipped, to send me the clue in this envelope. He 
says so in his note. This would seem to indi- 
cate that the book is one which he thought I 
would have no difficulty in fibtiding for myself. 
He had it — and he imagined that I would have 
it, too. In short, Watson, it is a very common 

'What you say certainly sounds plausible/' 




"So we have contracted our field of search to 
a large book, printed in double columns and in 
conunon use." 

"The Bible!'' I cried triumphantly. 

"Good, Watson, good I But not, if I may say 
so, quite good enough! Even if I accepted the 
compliment for myself, I could hardly name any 
volume which would be less likely to lie at the 
elbow of one of Moriarty*s associates. Besides, 
the editions of Holy Writ are so numerous that 
he could hardly suppose that two copies would 
have the same pagination. This is clearly a book 
which is standardized. He knows for certain 
that his page 534 will exactly agree with my page 

"But very few books would correspond with 

"Exactly. Therein lies our salvation. Our 
search is narrowed down to standardized books 
which anyone may be supposed to possess " 


"There are difficulties, Watson. The vocabu- 
lary of Bradshaw is nervous and terse, but limit- 
ed. The selection of words would hardly lend 
itself to the sending of general messages. We 



tnll eliminate Bradshaw. The dictionary is, I 
fear, inadmissible for the same reason. What 
then is left?'" 

"An almanac r* 

"Excellent, Watson I I am very much mis- 
taken if you have not touched the spot. An al- 
manac! Let us consider the claims of Whitak- 
er's Almanac. It is in conmion use. It has the 
requisite number of pages. It is in double col- 
umn. Though reserved in its earlier vocabulary, 
it becomes, if I remember right, quite garrulous 
toward the end." He picked the volume from 
his desk. "Here is page 584, column two, a 
substantial block of print dealing, I perceive, 
with the trade and resources of British India. 
Jot down the words, Watson!. Number thirteen 
is *Mahratta/ Not, I fear, a very auspicious 
beginning. Number one hundred and twenty- 
seven is ^Government' ; which at least makes sense, 
though somewhat irrelevant to ourselves and Pro- 
fessor Moriarty. Now let us try again. What 
does the Mahratta government do? Alas! the 
next word is *pig*s-bristles.' We are undone, 
^y good Watson! It is finished!'' 

He had spoken in jesting vein, but the twitch* 


ing of his bushy eyebrows bespoke his disappoint- 
ment and irritation. I sat helpless and unhappy. 
rt«ing into the fire. A long ,aenc ™ brS 
by a sudden exclamation from Holmes, who 
dashed at a cupboard, from which he emerged 
with a second yellow-covered volume in his hand. 
"We pay the price, Watson, for being too up- 
to-date!*' he cried. "We are before our time, and 
suffer the usual penalties. Being the seventh of 
January, we have very properly laid m the new 
almanac. It is more than likely that Forlock 
took his message from the old one. No doubt 
he would have told us so had his letter of ex- 
planation been written. Now let us see what 
page 584 has in store for us. Number thirteen 
is 'There,' which is much more promising. Num- 
ber one hundred and twenty-seven is *is' — 'There 
is.' " Holmes' eyes were gleaming with excite- 
ment, and his thin, nervous fingers twitched as 
he counted the words, " 'danger.' Hal Hal 
Capital 1 Put that down, Watson. 'There is 
danger — ^may — come — ^very — ^soon — one.' Then 
we have the name 'Douglas' — 'rich — country — 
now — ^at — ^Birlstone — House — ^Birlstone — confi- 
dence — ^is — ^pressing.' There, Watson I What 



do you think of pure reason, and its fruits? If 
fhe green-grocer had such a thing as a laurel 
wreath, I should send Billy round for it." 

I was staring at the strange message which 
I had scrawled, as he deciphered it, upon a sheet 
of foolscap on my knee. 

"What a queer, scrambling way of expressing 
his meaning!" said I. 

"On the contrary, he has done quite remark- 
ably well," said Holmes. "When you search a 
single column for words with which to express 
your meaning, you can hardly expect to get 
everything you want. You are bound to leave 
something to the intelligence of your correspond- 
ent. The purport is perfectly clear. Some dev- 
iltry is intended against one Douglas, whoever 
he may be, residing as stated, a rich country gen- 
tleman. He is sure — 'confidence' was as near as 
he could get to 'confident' — ^that it is pressing. 
There is our result — and a very workmanlike little 
bit of analysis it was!" 

Holmes had the impersonal joy of the true 

artist in his better work, even as he mourned 

darkly when it fell below the high level to which 

he aspired. He was still chuckling over his suc- 



cess when Billy swung open the door and In- 
spector MacDonald of Scotland Yard was ush- 
ered into the room. 

Those were the early days at the end of the 
^80's, when Alec MacDonald was far from hav- 
ing attained the national fame which he has now 
achieved. He was a young but trusted member 
of the detective force, who had distinguished 
himself in several cases which had been intrusted 
to him. His tall, bony figure gave promise of 
exceptional physical strength, while his great 
cranium and deep-set, lustrous eyes spoke no less 
de.rty of the kL inWligen JwMA twinkled 
out from behind his bushy eyebrows. He was a 
sflent, precise man with a dour nature and a hard 
!Aberdonian accent. 

Twice already in his career had Holmes helped 
him to attain success, his own sole reward being 
the intellectual joy of the problem. For this 
reason the affection and respect of the Scotch- 
man for his amateur colleague were profound, 
and he showed them by the frankness with which 
he consulted Holmes in every difficulty. Medi- 
ocrity knows nothing higher than itself; but tal- 
ent instantly recognizes genius, and MacDonald 



had talent enough for his profession to enable 
him to perceive that there was no humiliation in 
seeking the assistance of one who already stood 
alone in Europe, both in his gifts and in his ex* 
perience. Holmes was not prone to friendship, 
but he was tolerant of the big Scotchman, and 
smiled at the sight of him. 

You are an early bird, Mr, Mac," said he. 
I wish you luck with your worm. I fear this 
means that there is some mischief afoot." 

"If you said 'hope* instead of *fear,' it would 
be nearer the truth, I'm thinking, Mr. Holmes," 
the Inspector answered, with a knowing grin. 
"Well, maybe a wee nip would keep out the raw 
morning chill. No, I won't smoke, I thank you. 
I'll have to be pushing on my way; for the early 
hours of a case are the precious ones, as no man 
knows better than your own self. But — ^but — 


The Inspector had stopped suddenly, and was 
staring with a look of absolute amazement at a 
paper upon the table. It was the sheet upon 
which I had scrawled the enigmatic message. 

**Douglas I" he stammered. "Birlstone I What's 
this, Mr. Holmes? Man, it's witchcraft I Where 


in the name of all that is wonderful did you get 
those names V 

"It is a cipher that Dr. Watson and I have had 
occasion to solve. But why — ^what's amiss with 
the names?" 

The Inspector looked from one to the other of 
us in dazed astonishment. "'Just this/' said he, 
"that Mr, Douglas of Birlstone Manor House 
was horribly murdered last night I'' 




IT was one of those dramatic moments for 
which my friend existed. It would be an 
overstatement to say that he was shocked or even 
excited by the amazing announcement. With- 
out having a tinge of cruelty in his singular com- 
position, he was undoubtedly callous from long 
overstimulation. Yet, if his emotions were dulled, 
his intellectual perceptions were exceedingly ac- 
tive. There was no trace then of the horror 
which I had myself felt at this curt declaration; 
but his face showed rather the quiet and inter- 
ested composure of the chemist who sees the crys- 
tals falling into position from his oversaturated 

"Remarkable I" said he. "Remarkable 1" 

"You don't seem surprised." 


"Interested, Mister Mae, but hardly surprised. 
Why should I be surprised ? I receive an anony- 
mous communication from a quarter which I 
know to be important, warning me that danger 
threatens a certain person. Within an hour I 
learn that this danger has actually materialized 
and that the person is dead. I am interested; 
but, as you observe, I am not surprised." 

In a few short sentences he explained to the 
Inspector the facts about the letter and the ci- 
pher. MacDonald sat with his chin on his hands 
and his great sandy eyebrows bunched into a yel- 
low tangle. 

"I was going down to Birlstone this morning," 
said he. "I had come to ask you if you cared 
to come with me — you and your friend here. 
But from what you say we might perhaps be 
doing better work in London." 

1 rather think not," said Holmes. 
'Hang it all, Mr. Holmes 1" cried the Inspec- 
tor. "The papers will be full of the Birlstone 
mystery in a day or two; but whereas the mys- 
tery if there is a man in London who prophesied 
the crime before ever it occurred? We have only 



to lay our hands on that man, and the rest will 

"No doubt, Mr. Mac But how do you pro- 
pose to lay your hands on the so-called Por- 

MacDonald turned over the letter which 
Holmes had handed him. "Posted in Camber- 
well — ^that doesn't help us much. Name, you 
say, is assiuned. Not much to go on, certainly. 
Didn't you say that you have sent him money?" 


"And how?" 

"In notes to Camberwell postoffice." 

"Did you ever trouble to see who called for 


The inspector looked surprised and a little 
shocked. "Why not?" 

"Because I always keep faith. I had promised 
when he first wrote that I would not try to trace 

"You think there is someone behind him?" 

"I know there is." 

"This professor that I've heard you mention?'* 

"Exactly I" 



Inspector Ma^Donald smiled, and his eyelid 
quivered as he glanced toward me. "I won't con- 
ceal from you, Mr. Holmes, that we think in the 
C. I. D. that you have a wee bit of a bee in your 
bonnet over this professor. I made some in- 
quiries myself about the matter. He seems to 
be a very respectable, learned, and talented sort 
of man." 

*Tm glad youVe got so far as to recognize the 

'Man, you can't but recognize it! After I 
heard your view I made it my business to see 
him. I had a chat with him on eclipses. How 
the talk got that way I canna think; but he had 
out a reflector lantern and a globe^ and made it 
all clear in a minute. He lent me a book; but I 
don't mind saying that it was a bit above my 
head, though I had a good Aberdeen upbring- 
ing. He'd have made a grand meenister with 
his thin face and gray hair and solemn-like way 
of talking. When he put his hand on my shoul- 
der as we were parting, it was like a father's 
blessing before you go out into the cold, cruel 

Holmes chuckled and rubbed his hands. 




'*Greatl" he said. ''Great I Tell me, Friend 
MacDonald, this pleasing and touching interview 
was, I suppose, in the professor's study?" 

"That's so/' 
A fine room, is it not?" 
Very fine — ^very handsome indeed, Mr, 

*'You sat in front of his writing desk?" 

"Just so." 

"Sun in your eyes and his face in the shadow?" 

"Well, it was evening; but I mind that the 
lamp was turned on my face." 

"It would be. Did you happen to observe a 
picture over the professor's head?" 

"I don't miss much, Mr. Holmes. Maybe I 
learned that from you. Yes^ I saw the picture, 
— ^a young woman with her head on her hands, 
peeping at you sideways." 

"That painting was by Jean Baptiste Greuze." 

The Inspector endeavored to look interested. 

"Jean Baptiste Greuze," Holmes continued, 
joining his finger tips and leaning weU back in 
his chair, "was a French artist who flourished 
between the years 1750 and 1800. I allude, of 
course, to his working career. Modem criticism 


has more than indorsed the high opinion formed 
of him by his contemporaries/* 

The Inspector's eyes grew abstracted* "Hadn't 
we better '^ he said. 

"We are doing so," Hohnes interrupted. "All 
that I am saying has a very direct and vital beaj> 
ing upon what you have called the Birlstone Mys- 
tery. In fact, it may in a sense be called the 
very center of it." 

MacDonald smiled feebly, and looked appeal- 
ingly to me. "Your thoughts move a bit too 
quick for me, Mr. Holmes. You leave out a link 
or two, and I can't get over the gap. What in 
the whole wide world can be the connection be- 
tween this dead painting man and the affair at 

"All knowledge comes useful to the detective,'* 
remarked Holmes. "Even the trivial fact that 
in the year 1865 a picture by Greuze entitled *La 
Jeune Fille a TAgneau' fetched one million two 
hundred thousand francs — ^more than forty thou- 
sand pounds — ^at the Portalis sale may start a 
train of reflection in your mind." 

It was clear that it did. The Inspector looked 
honestly interested. 



"I may remind you," Holmes continued, "that 
the professor's salary can be ascertained in sev- 
eral trustworthy books of reference. It is seven 
hundred a year." 

"Then how could he buy *^ 

"Quite sol How could her 

"Aye, that's remarkable," said the Inspector 
thoughtfully. "Talk away, Mr. Holmes. I'm 
just loving it. It's fine 1" 

Holmes smiled. He was always warmed by 
genuine admiration — ^the characteristic of the real 
artist. "What about Birlstone?" he asked. 

"We've time yet," said the Inspector, glancing 
at his watch. "I've a cab at the door, and it won't 
take us twenty minutes to Victoria. But about 
this picture: I thought you told me once, Mr. 
Holmes, that you had never met Professor Mo- 

'No, I never have.' 

'Then how do you know about his rooms?' 
'Ah, that's another matter. I have been three 
times in his rooms, twice waiting for him under 
difTerent pretexts and leaving before he came. 
Once — ^well, I can hardly tell about the once to 
an official detective. It was on the last occasion 


that I took the liberty of runnmg over his papers 
< — ^with the most unexpected results." 
Tou found something compromising ?" 
'Absolutely nothing. That was what amazed 
me. However, you have now seen the point of 
the picture. It shows him to be a very wealthy 
man. How did he acquire wealth? He is un- 
married. His younger brother is a station mas- 
ter in the west of England. His chair is worth 
seven hundred a year. And he owns a Greuze." 


"Surely the inference is plain.** 

"You mean that he has a great income and 
that he must earn it in an illegal fashion?" 

"Exactly. Of course I have other reasons for 
thinking so,— dozens of exiguous threads which 
lead vaguely up toward the center of the web 
where the poisonous, motionless creature is lurk- 
ing. I only mention the Greuze because it brings 
the matter within the range of your own obser- 

"Well, Mr. Holmes, I admit that what you 
say is interesting: it's more than interesting — 
it's just wonderful. But let us have it a little 




clearer if you can. Is it forgery, coining, bur- 
glary — ^where does the money come from?" 

"Have you ever read of Jonathan Wild?** 

"Well, the name has a familiar sound. Some- 
one in a novel, was he not? I don't take much 
stock of detectives in novels, — chaps that do 
things and never let you see how they do thenu 
That's just inspiration : not business/' 

"Jonathan Wild wasn't a detective, and he 
wasn't in a novel. He was a master criminal, 
and he lived last century — 1750 or thereabouts." 

"Then he's no use to me. I'm a practical 


Mr. Mac, the most practical thing that you 
ever did in your life would be to shut yourself 
up for three months and read twelve hours a day 
at the annals of crime. Everything comes in 
circles — even Professor Moriarty. Jonathan 
Wild was the hidden force of the London crimi- 
nals, to whom he sold his brains and his organiza- 
tion on a fifteen per cent, commission. The old 
wheel turns, and the same spoke comes up. It's 
all been done before, and will be again. I'll tell 
you one or two things about Moriarty which may 
interest you." 


**You'll interest me, right enough/' 

"I happen to know who is the first link in his 
chain— a chain with this Napoleon-gone-wrong 
at one end, and a hundred broken fighting men, 
pickpockets, blackmailers, and card sharpers at 
the other, with every sort of crime in between. 
His chief of staff is Colonel Sebastian Moran, 
as aloof and guarded and inaccessible to the law 
as himself. What do you think he pays him?** 

"Fd like to hear/' 

"Six thousand a year. That's paying for 
brains, you see, — ^the American business princi- 
ple. I learned that detail quite by chance. It's 
more than the Prime Minister gets. That gives 
you an idea of Moriarty's gains and of the scale 
on which he works. Another point: I made it 
my business to hunt down some of Moriarty's 
checks lately — ^just common innocent checks that 
he pays his household bills with. They were 
drawn on six different banks. Does that make 
any impression on your mind?" 

"Queer, certainly! But what do you gather 
from it?" 

"That he wanted no gossip about his wealth^ 
No single man should know what he had, I have 



no doubt that he has twenty banking accounts; 
the bulk of his fortune abroad in the Deutsche 
Bank or the Credit Lyonnais as likely as not. 
Sometime when you have a year or two to spare 
I commend to you the study of Professor Mo- 

Inspector MacDonald had grown steadily; 
more impressed as the conversation proceeded. 
He had lost himself in his interest. Now his 
practical Scotch intelligence brought him back 
with a snap to the matter in hand. 

"He can keep, anyhow," said he. "You've got 
us sidetracked with your interesting^ anecdotes^ 
Mr. Holmes. What really counts is your remark 
that there is some connection between the pro- 
fessor and the crime. That you get from the 
warning received through the man Porlock. Can 
we for our present practical needs get any fur- 
ther than that?" 

"We may form some conception as to the mo- 
tives of the crime. It is, as I gather from your 
original remarks, an inexplicable, or at least an 
unexplained, murder. Now, presiuning that the 
source of the crime is as we suspect it to be, there 
might be two different motives. In the first 



place, I may tell you that Moriarty rules with a 
rod of iron over his people. His discipline is 
tremendous. There is only one punishment in 
his code. It is death. Now we might suppose 
that this murdered man — ^this Douglas whose ap- 
proaching fate was known by one of the arch- 
criminal's subordinates — ^had in some way be- 
trayed the chief. His punishment followed, and 
would be known to all — ^if only to put the fear 
of death into them.'' 

"Well, that is one suggestion, Mr. Holmes." 

"The other is that it has been engineered by 
Moriarty in the ordinary course of business. 
Was there any robbery?'* 

"I have not heard." 

"If so, it would, of course, be against the first 
hypothesis and in favor of the second. Moriarty 
may have been engaged to engineer it on a prom- 
ise of part spoils, or he may have been paid so 
much down to manage it. Either is possible. 
But, whichever it may be, or if it is some third 
combination, it is down at Birlstone that we must 
seek the solution. I know our man too weU to 
suppose that he has left an3rthing up here which 
may lead us to him.*' 



"Then to Birlstone we must go I" cried Mac- 
Donald, jumping from his chair. "My word! 
it's later than I thought. I can give you, Gen- 
tlemen, five minutes for preparation, and that 
is aU." 

"And ample for us both,** said Holmes, as he 
sprang up and hastened to change from his dress- 
ing gown to his coat. "While we are on our 
way, Mr. Mac, I will ask you to be good enough 
to tell me all about it." 

"All about it" proved to be disappointingly 
little, and yet there was enough to assure us that 
the case before us might well be worthy of the ex- 
pert's closest attention. He brightened and 
rubbed his thin hands together as he listened to 
the meager but remarkable details. A long 
series of sterile weeks lay behind us, and here at 
last there was a fitting object for those remark- 
able powers which, like all special gifts, become 
irksome to their owner when they are not in use. 
That razor brain blunted and rusted with in- 

Sherlock Holmes' eyes glistened, his pale 
cheeks took a warmer hue, and his whole eager 
face shone with an inward light when the call 


for work reached him. Leaning forward in the 
cab, he listened intently to MacDonald's short 
sketch of the problem which awaited us in Sus- 
sex. The Inspector was himself dependent, as 
he explained to us, upon a scribbled account for- 
warded to him by the milk train in the early 
hours of the morning. White Mason, the local 
oflBcer, was a personal friend, and hence Mac- 
Donald had been notified much more promptly 
than is usual at Scotland Yard when provincials 
need their assistance. It is a very cold scent upon 
which the Metropolitan expert is generally asked 
to run. 

*T)eae Inspector MacDonald/^ said tiie let- 
ter which he read to us, — "Ofiicial requisition for 
your services is in separate envelope. This is for 
your private eye. Wire me what train in the 
morning you can get for Birlstone, and I will 
meet it — or have it met if I am too occupied. 
This case is a snorter. Don't waste a moment 
in getting started. If you can bring Mr. 
Holmes, please do so ; for he will find something 
after his own heart. We would think the whole 
thing had been fixed up for theatrical effect if 



there wasn't a dead man in the middle of it. My 
wordl it M a snorter." 

"Your friend seems to be no fool," remarked 

"No, Sir, White Mason is a very live man, 
if I am any judge." 

"Well, have you anything more?" 

"Only that he will give us every detail when 
we meet." 

"Then how did you get at Mr. Douglas and 
the fact that he had been horribly murdered?" 

"That was in the inclosed official report. It 
didn't say 'horrible': That's not a recognized 
official term. It gave the name John Douglas. 
It mentioned that his injuries had been in the 
head, from the discharge of a shotgun. It also 
mentioned the hour of the alarm, which was 
close on to midnight last night. It added that 
the case was undoubtedly one of murder, but that 
no arrest had been made, and that the case was 
one which presented some very perplexing and 
extraordinary features. That's absolutely all we 
have at present, Mr. Holmes." 

"Then, with your permission, we wiU leave it 


at that, Mr. Mac. The temptation to form pre- 
mature theories upon insufficient data is the bane 
of our profession. I can see only two things for 
certain at present, — a great brain in London, 
and a dead man in Sussex. It's the chain be- 
tween that we are going to trace." 




NOW for a moment I will ask leave to re- 
move my own insignificant personality, 
and to describe events which occurred before we 
arrived upon the scene by the light of knowledge 
which came to us afterward. Only in this way 
can I make the reader appreciate the people con- 
cerned and the strange setting in which their 
fate was cast. 

The village of Birlstone is a small and very 
ancient cluster of half-timbered cottages on the 
northern border of the county of Sussex. For 
centuries it had remained unchanged ; but within 
the last few years its picturesque appearance and 
situation have attracted a number of well-to-do 
residents, whose villas peep out from the woods 
around. These woods are locally supposed to be 


the extreme fringe of the great Weald forest, 
which thins away xmtU it reaches tiie northern 
chalk downs. A number of small shops have 
come into being to meet the wants of the in- 
creased population; so there seems some pros- 
pect that Birlstone may soon grow from an an- 
cient village into a modem town. It is the cen- 
ter for a considerable area of coimtry, since Tun- 
bridge Wells, the nearest place of importance, 
is ten or twelve miles to the eastward, over the 
borders of Kent. 

About half a mile from the town, standing in 
an old park famous for its huge beech trees, is 
the ancient Manor House of Birlstone. Part of 
this venerable building dates back to the time of 
the first crusade, when Hugo de Capus built a 
f ortalice in the center of the estate, which had 
been granted to him by the Red King. This 
was destroyed by fire in 1548, and some of its 
smoke-blackened cornerstones were used when, 
in Jacobean times, a brick country house rose 
upon the ruins of the feudal castle. 

The Manor House, with its many gables and 
its small diamond-paned windows, was still much 
as the builder had left it in the early seven* 



teenth century. Of the double moats which had 
guarded its more warlike predecessor, the outer 
had been allowed to dry up, and served the hum- 
ble function of a kitchen garden. The inner one 
was still there, and lay forty feet in breadth, 
though now only a few feet in depth, round the 
whole house. A small stream fed it and con- 
tinued beyond it, so that the sheet of water, 
thouffh turbid, was never ditchlike or unhealthy. 
The ground floor windows were wiUun . foot 
of the surface of the water. 

The only approach to the house was over a 
drawbridge, the chains and windlass of which 
had long been rusted and broken. The latest 
tenants of the Manor House had, however, with 
characteristic energy set this right, and the draw- 
bridge was not only capable of being raised, but 
lActually was raised every evening and lowered 
every morning. By thus renewing the custom 
of the old feudal days the Manor House was 
converted into an island during the night, — a 
fact which had a very direct bearing upon the 
mystery which was soon to engage the attention 
of all England. 

The house had been untenanted for some years 



and was threatening to molder into a picturesque 
decay when the Douglases took possession of it. 
This family consisted of only two individuals, — 
John Douglas and his wife. Douglas was a 
remarkable man, both in character and in person. 
In age he may have been about fifty, with a 
strong-jawed, rugged face, a grizzling mustache, 
peculiarly keen gray eyes, and a wiry, vigorous 
figure which had lost nothing of the strength and 
activity of youth. He was cheery and genial 
to all, but somewhat ofiliand in his manners, giv- 
ing the impression that he had seen life in social 
strata on some far lower horizon than the county 
society of Sussex. 

Yet, though looked at with some curiosity and 
reserve by his more cultivated neighbors, he soon 
acquired a great popularity among the villagers, 
subscribing handsomely to all local objects, and 
attending their smoking concerts and other func- 
tions, where, having a remarkably rich tenor 
voice, he was always ready to oblige with an ex- 
cellent song. He appeared to have plenty of 
money, which was said to have been gained in 
the California gold fields, and it was clear from 



his own talk and that of his wife that he had 
spent a part of his life in America. 

The good impression which had been produced 
by his generosity and by his democratic man- 
ners was increased by a reputation gained for 
utter indifference to danger. Though a wretched 
rider, he turned out at every meet, and took the 
most amazing falls in his determination to hold 
his own with the best. When the vicarage caught 
fire he distinguished himself also by the fearless- 
ness with which he reentered the building to save 
property, after the local fire brigade had given 
it up as impossible. Thus it came about that 
John Douglas of the Manor House had within 
five years won himself quite a reputation in Birl- 

His wife, too, was popular with those who had 
made her acquaintance ; though, after the English 
fashion, the callers upon a stranger who settled 
in the coimty without introductions were few 
and far between. This mattered the less to her, 
as she was retiring by disposition, and very much 
absorbed, to all appearance, in her husband and 
her domestic duties. It was known that she was 
an English lady who had met Mr. Douglas in 


London, he being at that time a widower. She 
was a beautiful woman, tall, dark, and slender, 
some twenty years younger than her husband ; a 
disparity which seemed in no wise to mar the con- 
tentment of their fanuly life. 

It was remarked sometimes, however, by those 
who knew them best, that the confidence between 
the two did not appear to be complete, since the 
wife was either very reticent about her husband's 
past life, or else, as seemed more likely, was im- 
perfectly informed about it. It had also been 
noted and commented upon by a few observant 
people that there were signs sometimes of some 
nerve-strain upon the part of Mrs. Douglas, and 
that she would display acute uneasiness if her 
absent husband should ever be particularly late 
in his return. On a quiet countryside, where 
all gossip is welcome, this weakness of the lady 
of the Manor House did not pass without re- 
mark, and it bulked larger upon people's mem- 
ory when the events arose which gave it a very 
special significance. 

There was yet another individual whose resi- 
dence under that roof was, it is true, only an in- 
termittent one, but whose presence at the time 




of the strange happenings which wiU now be 
narrated brought his name prominently before 
the public. This was Cecil James Barker, of 
Hales Lodge, Hampstead. 

Cecil Barker's tall, loose- jointed figure was a 
familiar one in the main street of Birlstone vil- 
lage ; for he was a frequent and welcome visitor 
at the Manor House. He was the more noticed 
as being the only friend of the past, unknown 
life of Mr. Douglas who was ever seen in his 
new English surroundings. Barker was himself 
an undoubted Englishman; but by his remarks 
it was clear that he had first known Douglas in 
America and had there lived on intimate terms 
with him. He appeared to be a man of consid- 
erable wealth, and was reputed to be a bachelor. 

In age he was rather younger than Douglas, — 
forty-five at the most, — a tall, straight, broad- 
chested fellow with a clean-shaved, prize-fighter 
face, thick, strong, black eyebrows, and a pair of 
masterful black eyes which might, even without 
the aid of his very capable hands, clear a way 
for him throu^ ; hole crowd. He neith« 
rode nor shot, but spent his days in wandering 
round the old village Mdth his pipe in his mouth» 


or in driving with his host, or in his absence with 
his hostess, over the beautiful country side. "An 
^asy-going, free-handed gentleman," said Ames, 
the butler. "But, my word! I had rather not 
be the man that crossed him!" He was cordial 
and intimate with Douglas, and he was no less 
friendly with his wife, — a friendship which more 
than once seemed to cause some irritation to the 
husband, so that even the servants were able 
to perceive his annoyance. Such was the third 
person who was one of the family when the 
catastrophe occurred. 

As to the other denizens of the old building, 
it will suffice out of a large household to men- 
tion the prim, respectable, and capable wAoies, 
and Mrs. Allen, a buxom and cheerful person, 
who relieved the lady of some of her household 
cares. The other six servants in the house bear 
no relation to the events of the night of Jan- 
uary 6. 

It was at eleven forty-five that the first alarm 
reached the small local police station, in charge 
of Sergeant Wilson of the Sussex Constabulary. 
Cecil Barker, much excited, had rushed up to 
the door and pealed furiously upon the beU. A 




terrible tragedy had occurred at the Manor 
House, and John Douglas had been murdered. 
That was the breathless burden of his message. 
He had hurried back to the house, followed within 
a few minutes by the police Sergeant, who ar- 
rived at the scene of the crime a little after 
twelve o'clock, after taking prompt steps to warn 
the county authorities that something serious was 

On reaching the Manor House, the Sergeant 
had found the drawbridge down, the windows 
lighted up, and the whole household in a state 
of wild confusion and alarm. The white-faced 
servants were huddling together in the hall, with 
the frightened butler wringing his hands in the 
doorway. Only Cecil Barker seemed to be mas- 
ter of himself and his emotions ; he had opened 
the door which was nearest to the entrance and 
had beckoned to the Sergeant to follow him. At 
that moment there arrived Dr. Wood, a brisk 
and capable general practitioner from the vil- 
lage. The three men entered the fatal room to- 
gether, while the horror-stricken butler followed 
at their heels, closing the door behind him to shut 
out the terrible scene from the maid servants. 


The dead man lay on his back, sprawling with 
outstretched limbs in the center of the room. 
He was clad only in a pink dressing gown, which 
covered his night clothes. There were carpet 
slippers on his bare feet. The doctor knelt be- 
side him and held down the hand lamp which 
had stood on the table. One glance at the vic- 
tim was enough to show the healer that his pres- 
ence could be dispensed with. The man had been 
horribly injured. Lying across his chest was a 
curious weapon, a shotgun with the barrel sawed 
off a foot in front of the triggers. It was clear 
that this had been fired at close range and that 
he had received the whole charge in the face, 
blowing his head almost to pieces. The triggers 
had been wired together, so as to make the simul- 
taneous* discharge more destructive. 

The country policeman was unnerved and 
troubled by the tremendous responsibility which 
had come so suddenly upon him. "We will touch 
nothing until my superiors arrive," he said in a 
hushed voice, staring in horror at the dreadful 

"Nothing has been touched up to now,'* said 




Cecil Barker. "I'll answer for that. You see 
it all exactly as I found it." 

"When was that?" The Sergeant had drawn 
out his notebook. 

"It was just half-past eleven. I had not be- 
gun to undress, and I was sitting by the fire in 
my bedroom when I heard the report. It waa 
not very loud — ^it seemed to be muffled. I rushed 
down — ^I don't suppose it was thirty seconds be- 
fore I was in the room." 

"Was the door open?" 

"Yes, it was open. Poor Douglas was Ijring 
as you see him. His bedroom candle was burn- 
ing on the table. It was I who lit the lamp some 
minutes afterward." 

"Did you see no one?" 

"No. I heard Mrs. Douglas coming down the 
stair behind me, and I rushed out to prevent her 
from seeing this dreadful sight. Mrs. Allen, the 
housekeeper, came and took her away. Ames 
had arrived, and we ran back into the room once 


"But surely I have heard that the drawbridge 
is kept up all night." 

* Y^es, it was up imtil I lowered it." 


"Then how could any murderer have got away? 
It is out of the question 1 Mr. Douglas must 
have shot himself/* 

"That was our first idea. But seel" Barker 
drew aside the curtain, and showed that the long, 
diamond-paned window was open to its full ex- 
tent. "And look at this!" He held the lamp 
down and illuminated a smudge of blood like 
the mark of a boot-sole upon the wooden sill. 
"Someone has stood there in getting out." 

"You mean that someone waded across the 


"Then if you were in the room within half a 
minute of the crime, he must have been in the 
water at that very moment." 

"I have not a doubt of it. I wish to Heaven 
that I had rushed to the window! But the cur- 
tain screened it, as you can see, and so it never 
occurred to me. Then I heard the step of Mrs. 
Douglas, and I could not let her enter the room. 
It would have been too horrible." 

"Horrible enough!" said the doctor, looking 
at the shattered head and the terrible marks which 



surrounded it. "I've never seen such injuries 
since the Birlstone railway smash." 

"But, I say," remarked the police Sergeant, 
whose slow, bucolic commonsense was still pon- 
dering the open window. "It's all very well your 
saying that a man escaped by wading this moat, 
but what I ask you is, how did he ever get into 
the house at all if the bridge was up?" 

"Ah, that's the question*" said Barker. 

"At what o'clock was it raised?" 

"It was nearly six o'clock," said Ames, the 
butler. ' 

"I've heard," said the Sergeant, "that it was 
usually raised at sunset. That would be nearer 
half -past four than six at this time of year." 

"Mrs. Douglas had visitors to tea," said Ames. 
"I couldn't raise it until they went. Then I 
wound it up myself." 

"Then it comes to this," said the Sergeant: 
"If anyone came from outside, — if they did, — 
they must have got in across the bridge before 
six and been in hiding ever since, until Mr. Doug- 
las came into the room after eleven." 

"That is so! Mr. Douglas went round the 
house every night the last thing before he turned 


in to see that the lights were right. That brought 
him in here. The man wa^ waiting and shot him. 
Then he got away through the window and left 
his gun behind him. That's how I read it; for 
nothing else will fit the facts.'* 

The Sergeant picked up a card which lay be- 
side the dead man on the floor. The initials 
V. V. and under them the number 841 were 
rudely scrawled in ink upon it. 

"What's this ?" he asked, holding it up. 

Barker looked at it with curiosity. "I never 
noticed it before," he said. "The murderer must 
have left it behind him." 

"V. V. — 341. I can make no sense of that." 

The Sergeant kept turning it over in his big 
fingers. "What's V. V.? Somebody's initials, 
maybe. What have you got there. Dr. Wood?" 

It was a good-sized hammer which had been 
lying on the rug in front of the fireplace,— a 
substantial, workmanlike hammer. Cecil Barker 
pointed to a box of brass-headed nails upon the 

"Mr. Douglas was altering the pictures yes- 
terday," he said. "I saw him myself, standing 



upon that chair and fixing the big picture above 
it. That accounts for the hammer," 

"We'd best put it back on the rug where we 
found it/* said the Sergeant, scratching his 
puzzled head in his perplexity. "It will want 
the best brains in the force to get to the bottom 
of this thing. It will be a London job before it 
is finished." He raised the hand-lamp and walked 
slowly round the room. "Hullo!" he cried ex- 
citedly, drawing the window curtain to one side. 
"What o'clock were those curtains drawn?" 

"When the lamps were lit," said the butler. 
"It would be shortly after four." 

"Someone had been hiding here, sure enough." 
He held down the light, and the marks of muddy 
boote were very visible in the corner. "I'm bound 
to say this bears out your theory, Mr. Barker. 
It looks as if the man got into the house after 
four when the curtains were drawn, and before 
six when the bridge was raised. He slipped into 
this room, because it was the first that he saw. 
There was no other place where he could hide, 
so he popped in behind this curtain. That all 
seems clear enough. It is likely that his main 
idea was to burgle the house; but Mr. Douglas 


chanced to come upon him, so he murdered him 
and escaped." 

"That's how I read it," said Barker. "But, I 
say, aren't we wasting^ precious time ? Couldn't 
we start out and scour the country before the 
feUow gets away?" 

The Sergeant considered for a moment. 

"There are no trains before six in the morn- 
ing; so he can't get away by rail. If he goes by 
road with his legs all dripping, it's odds that 
someone will notice him. Anyhow, I can't leave 
here myself until I am relieved. But I think none 
of you should go imtil we see more clearly how 
we all stand." 

The doctor had taken the lamp and was nar- 
rowly scrutinizing the body. "What's this 
mark?" he asked. "Could this have any connec- 
tion with the crime?" 

The dead man's right arm was thrust out from 
his dressing gown, and exposed as high as the 
elbow. About halfway up the forearm was a 
curious brown design, a triangle inside a circle, 
standing out in vivid relief upon the lard-colored 

It's not tattooed," said the doctor, peering 





through his glasses. ""I never saw anything li 
it. The man has been branded at some time as 
they brand cattle. What is the meaning of this ?" 

"I don't profess to know the meaning of it," 
said Cecil Barker; "'but I have seen the mark 
on Douglas many times this last ten years." 

"And so have I," said the butler. "Many a 
time when the master has rolled up his sleeves I 
have noticed that very mark. IVe often won- 
dered what it could be." 

"Then it has nothing to do with the crime, 
anyhow," said the Sergeant. "But it's a rum 
thing all the same. Everything about this case 
is rum. Well, what is it now?" 

The butler had given an exclamation of as< 
tonishment and was pointing at the dead man's 
outstretched hand. 

"They've taken his wedding ring!" he gasped. 


"Yes, indeed. Master always wore his plain- 
gold wedding ring on the little finger of his left 
hand. That ring with the rough nugget on it 
was above it, and the twisted snake ring on the 
third finger. There's the nugget and there's the 
snake, but the wedding ring is gone." 


"^e's right," said Barker. 

"Do you tell me," said the Sergeant, "that the 
wedding ring was below the other?" 


"Then the murderer, or whoever it was, first 
took ofi^ this ring you call the nugget ring, then 
the wedding ring, and afterward put the nug- 
get ring back again." 

"That is sol" 

The worthy country policeman shook his head. 
"Seems to me the sooner we get London on to 
this case the better," said he. "White Mason 
is a smart man. No local job has ever been too 
much for White Mason. It won't be long now 
before he is here to help us. But I expect we'll 
have to look to London before we are through. 
Anyhow, I'm not ashamed to say that it is a deal 
too thick for the likes of me." 



AT three in the morning the chief Sussex de- 
tective, obeying the urgent call from Ser^ 
geant Wilson of Birlstone, arrived from head- 
quarters in a light dogcart behind a breathless 
trotter. By the five-forty train in the morning he 
had sent his message to Scotland Yard, and he 
was at the Birlstone station at twelve o'clock to 
welcome us. White Mason was a quiet, comfort- 
able-looking person in a loose tweed suit, with a 
clean-shaved, ru^dy face, a stoutish body, and 
powerful bandy legs adorned with gaiters, look- 
ing like a small farmer, a retired gamekeeper, or 
anything upon earth except a very favorable 
specimen of the provincial criminal officer. 

"A real downright snorter, Mr. MacDonald 1" 
he kept repeating. "We'll have the pressmen 
down like flies when they understand it. I'm 


hoping we will get our work done before they 
get poking their noses into it and messing up all 
the trails. There has been nothing like this that 
I can remember. There are some bits that wOl 
come home to you^ Mr. Holmes, or I am mis- 
taken. And you also, Dr. Watson; for the 
medicos will have a word to say before we finish. 
Your room is at the Westville Arms. There's 
no other place; but I hear that it is clean and 
good. The man will carry your bags. This way. 
Gentlemen, if you please." 

He was a very bustling and genial person, this 
Sussex detective. In ten minutes we had aU 
found our quarters. In ten more we were seated 
in the parlor of the inn and being treated to a 
rapid sketch of those events which have been out- 
lined in the previous chapter. MacDonald made 
an occasional note; while Holmes sat absorbed, 
with the expression of surprised and reverent ad- 
miration with which the botanist surveys the rare 
and precious bloom. 

"Remarkable!" he said, when the story was 
unfolded, "most remarkable! I can hardly re- 
call any case where the features have been more 



"I thought you would say so, Mr. Hohnes," 
said White Mason in great delight. "We*re well 
up with the tunes in Sussex. IVe told you now 
how matters were, up to the time when I took 
over from Sergeant Wilson between three and 
four this morning. My word! I made the old 
mare go! But I need not have been in such a 
hurry, as it turned out; for there was nothing 
immediate that I could do. Sergeant Wilson 
had all the facts. I checked them and considered 
them and maybe added a few of my own." 

"What were they?" asked Holmes eagerly. 

"Well, I first had the hammer examined. 
There was Dr. Wood there to help me. We 
found no signs of violence upon it. I was hoping 
that if Mr. Douglas defended himself with the 
hammer, he might have left his mark upon the 
murderer before he dropped it on the mat. But 
there was no stain.'' 

"That, of course, proves nothing at all," re- 
marked Inspector MacDonald. "There has been 
many a hammer murder and no trace on the ham- 

"Quite so. It doesn't prove it wasn't used. | 

But there might have been stains and that would 


have helped us. As a matter of fact there were 
none. Then I exammed the gun. They were 
buckshot cartridges, and, as Sergeant Wilson 
pointed out, the triggers were wired together so 
that, if you pulled on the hinder one, both barrels 
were discharged. Whoever fixed that up had 
made up his mind that he was going to take no 
chances of missing his man. The sawed gun was 
not more than two foot long — one could carry 
it easily under one's coat. There was no com- 
plete maker's name ; but the printed letters p-e-n 
were on the fluting betweeft the barrels, and the 
rest of the name had been cut oflF by the saw.*' 

^'A big F with a flourish above it, £ and N 
smaller?" asked Holmes. 


"Pennsylvania Small Arm Company — ^well 
known American firm," said Holmes. 

White Mason gazed at my friend as the little 
village practitioner looks at the Harley street 
specialist who by a word can solve the difficulties 
that perplex him. 

"That is very helpful, Mr. Holmes. No doubt 
you are right. Wonderful 1 Wonderful! Do 



you carry the names of all the gunmakers in the 
world in your memory?" 

Holmes dismissed the subject with a wave. 

"No doubt it is an American shotgun," White 
Mason continued. "I seem to have read that a 
sawed-off shotgun is a weapon used in some parts 
of America. Apart from the name upon the 
barrel, the idea had occurred to me. There it 
some evidence, then, that this man who entered 
the house and killed its master was an Amer- 


MacDonald shook his head. ''Man, you are 
surely traveling overfast," said he. "I have 
heard no evidence yet that any stranger was ever 
in the* house at all." 

"The open window, the blood on the sill, the 
queer card, the marks of boots in the corner, the 

"Nothing there that could not have been ar- 
ranged. Mr. Douglas was an American, or had 
lived long in America. So had Mr. Barker. 
You don't need to import an American from 
outside in order to account for American do- 



"Ames, the butler ** 



"What about him? Is he reliable?'' 
"Ten years with Sir Charles Chandos — as 
solid as a rock. He has been with Douglas ever 
since he took the Manor House five years ago. 
He has never seen a gun of this sort in the 

"The gun was made to conceal. That's why 
the barrels were sawed. It i^ould fit into any 
box. How could he swear there was no such 
gun in the house?" 

"Well, anyhow, he had never seen one." 
MacDonald shook his obstinate Scotch head. 
"I'm not convinced yet that there was ever any- 
one in the house," said he. "I'm asking you to 
conseedar" (his accent became more Aberdoriian 
as he lost himself in his argument) "I'm asking 
you to conseedar what it involves if you suppose 
that this gun was ever brought into the house, 
and that all these strange things were done by a 
person from outside. Oh, Man, it's just incon- 
ceivable! It's clean against commonsensel I 
put it to you, Mr. Holmes, judging it by what 
we have heard." 

"Well, state your case, Mr. Mac," said Holmes 
in his most judicial style. 




^^The man it not a burglar, sappoamg liiat he 
erer exiitecL The ring boainess and the card 
point to premeditated murder for some private 
reaion* Veiy good. Here is a man idio dips 
into a bouae with the deliberate intention of comr 
mitting murder. He knows, if he knows any- 
thingt that he will have a deeficulty in making his 
escape, as the house is surrounded with water. 
What weapon would he choose? You would say 
the most silent in the world. Then he could hope 
when the deed was done to slip quickly from Ihe 
window, to wade the moat, and to get away at 
his leisure. That's understandable. But is it 
understandable that he should go out of his way 
to bring with him the most noisy weapon he could 
select, knowing well that it will fetch every hu- 
man being in the house to the spot as quick as 
they can run, and that it is all odds that he will 
be seen before he can get across the moat? Is 
that credible, Mr. Holmes?" 

"Well, you put the case strongly,'* my friend 
replied thoughtfully. "It certainly needs a good 
deal of justification. May I ask, Mr. White 
Mason, whether you examined the farther side 
of the moat at once to see if there were any signs 



of the man having climbed out from the water f* 

"There were no signs, Mr. Hohnes. But it is 
a stone ledge, and one could hardly expect thenu" 

**No tracks 6r marks?" 


"Hal Would there be any objection, Mr. 
White Mason, to our going down to the house 
at once ? There may possibly be some small point 
which might be suggestive." 

"I was going to propose it, Mr. Holmes; but 
I thought it well to put you in touch witii all 
the facts before we go* I suppose if anything 

should strike you " White Mason looked 

doubtfully at the amateur. 

"I have worked with Mr* Holmes before," 
said Inspector MacDonaldL "He plays the 

"My own idea of the game, at any rate," said 
Holmes, with a smile. "I go into a case to help 
the ends of justice and the work of the police. 
If I have ever separated myself from the official 
force, it is because tiiey have first separated them- 
selves from me. I have no wish ever to score at 
their expense. At the same time, Mr. White 
Mason, I claim the right to work in my own way 



and give my results at my own time— complete 
rather than in stages." 

"I am sure we are honored by your presence 
and to show you all we know," said* White Mason 
cordially. "Come along. Dr. Watson, and when 
the time comes we'll all hope for a place in your 

We walked down the quaint village street with 
a row of pollarded elms on each side of it. Just 
beyond were two ancient stone pillars, weather- 
stained and lichen-blotched, bearing upon their 
simimits a shapeless something which had once 
been the rampant lion of Capus of Birlstone. A, 
short walk along the winding drive with such 
sward and oaks around ^t as one only sees in rural 
England, then a sudden turn, and the long, low 
Jacobean house of dingy, liver-colored brick lay 
before us, with an old-fashioned garden of cut 
yews on each side of it. As we approached it. 
there was the wooden drawbridge and the beau- 
tiful broad moat as still and luminous as quick- 
silver in the cold, winter sunshine. 

Three centuries had flowed past the old Manor 
House, centuries of births and of homecomings, 
of country dances and of the meetings of fox 


hunters. Strange that now in its old age this 
dark business should have cast its shadow upon 
the venerable walls! And yet those strange, 
peaked roofs and quaint, overhimg gables were 
a fitting covering to grim and terrible intrigue. 
As I looked at the deepset windows and the long 
sweep of the dull-colored, water-lapped front, I 
felt that no more fitting scene could be set for 
such a tragedy. 

"That's the window," said White Mason, "that 
one on the immediate right of the drawbridge. 
It's open just as it was found last night." 

"It looks rather narrow for a man to pass." 

"Well, it wasn't a fat man, anyhow. We don't 
need your deductions, Mr. Holmes, to tell us 
that. But you or I could squeeze through all 

Holmes walked to the edge of the moat and 
looked across. Then he examined the stone ledge 
and the grass border beyond it. 

"I've had a good look, Mr. Holmes," said 
White Mason. "There is nothing there, no sign 
that anyone has landed — ^but why should he leave 
any sign?" 



'"Exactly. Why should he? Is the water al- 
ways turbid?*' 

''Grenerally about this color. The stream 
brings down the day." 

"How deep is it?" 

"About two feet at each side and three in the 

"So we can put aside all idea of the man hay- 
ing been drowned in crossing." 

"No, a child could not be drowned in it." 

We walked across the drawbridge, and were 
admitted by a quaint, gnarled, dried-up person, 
who was the butler, Ames. The poor old fellow 
was white and quivering from the shock. The 
village Sergeant, a tall, formal, melancholy man, 
still held his vigil in the room of Fate. The doc- 
tor had departed. 

"Anything fresh. Sergeant Wilson?" asked 
White Mason. 

"No, Sh-." 

"Then you can go home. YouVe had enough. 
We can send for you if we want you. The but- 
ler had better wait outside. Tell him to warn 
Mr. Cecil Barker, Mrs. Douglas, and the house* 
keeper that we may want a word with them pres- 

Wmmmmmmmm ii i i i i , 


ently. Now, Grentlemen, perhaps you will allow 
me to give you the views I have f onned first, 
and then you will be able to arrive at your own.** 

He impressed me, this coimtry specialist. He 
had a solid grip of fact and a cool, clear, com- 
monsense brain, which should take him some way 
in his profession. Holmes listened to him in- 
tently, with no sign of that impatience which 
the of&cial exponent too often produced. 

"Is it suicide, or is it murder — ^that's our first 
question. Gentlemen, is it not? If it were sui- 
cide, then we have to believe that this man be- 
gan by taking ofi^ his wedding ring and conceal- 
ing it; that he then came down here in his dress- 
ing gown, trampled mud into a comer behind 
the curtain in order to give the idea someone had 
waited for hun, opened the window, put blood 
on the '^ 

"We can surely dismiss that,'* said MacDon- 

"So I think. Suicide is out of the question. 
Then a murder has been done. What we have 
to determine is, whether it was done by some- 
one outside or inside the house?" 

"Well, let's hear the argument/* 



''There are considerable difficulties both ways, 
and yet one or the other it must be. We will 
suppose first that some person or persons inside 
the house did the crime. They got this man 
down here at a time when everything was still 
and yet no one was asleep. They then did the 
deed with the queerest and noisiest weapon in 
the world so as to tell everyone what had hap- 
pened — a weapon that was never seen in the house 
before. That does not seem a very likely start, 
does itr 

"No, it does not." 

"Well, then, everyone is agreed that after the 
alarm was given only a minute at the most had 
passed before the whole household — ^not Mr. Ce- 
cil Barker alone, though he claims to have been 
the first, but Ames and all of them were on the 
spot. Do you tell me that in that time the guilty 
person managed to make footmarks in the comer, 
open the window, mark the sill with blood, take 
the wedding ring off the dead man's finger, and 
all the rest of it? It's impossible!" 

"You put it very clearly," said Holmes. "I 
am inclined to agree with you." 

"Well, then, we are driven back to the theory 


that it was done by someone from outside. We 
are still faced with some big difficulties ; but any- 
how they have ceased to be impossibilities. The 
man got into the house between four-thirty and 
six; that is to say, between dusk and the time 
when the bridge was raised. There had been 
some visitors, and the door was open; so there 
was nothing to prevent him. He may have been 
a common burglar, or he may have had some 
private grudge against Mr. Douglas. Since Mr. 
Douglas has spent most of his life in America, 
and this shotgun seems to be an American 
weapon, it would seem that the private grudge 
is the more likely theory. He slipped into this 
room because it was the first he came to, and he 
hid behind the curtain. There he remained until 
past eleven at night. At that time Mr. Doug- 
las entered the room. It was a short interview, 
if there were any interview at all ; for Mrs. Doug- 
las declares that her husband had not left her 
more than a few minutes when she heard the 

"The candle shows that," said Holmes. 

"Exactly. The candle, which was a new oiie, 
is not burned more than half an inch. He must 



have placed it on the table before he was at- 
tacked; otherwise, of course, it would have fallen 
when he fell. This shows that he was not at- 
tacked the instant that he entered the room. 
When Mr. Barker arrived the candle was lit and 
the lamp was out." 

"That's all clear enough." 

"Well, now, we can reconstruct things on those 
lines. Mr. Douglas enters the room. He puts 
down the candle. A man appears from behind 
the curtain. He is armed with this gun. He 
demands the wedding ring — Heaven only knows 
why, but so it must have been. Mr. Douglas gave 
it up. Then either in cold blood or in the course 
of a struggle — Douglas may have gripped the 
hammer that was found upon the mat — ^he shot 
Douglas in this horrible way. He dropped his 
gun and also it would seem this queer card,— 
V. V. 841, whatever that may mean, — and he 
made his escape through the window and across 
the moat at the very moment when Cecil Barker 
was discovermg the crime. How's that, Mr. 

"Very interesting, but just a little inconvinc- 


"Man, it would be absolute nonsense if it 
wasn't that anything else is even worse!" cried 
MacDonald. "Somebody killed the man, and 
whoever it was I could clearly prove to you that 
he should have done it some other way. What 
does he mean by allowing his retreat to be cut 
off like that? What does he mean by using a 
shotgun when silence was his one chance of es- 
cape? Come, Mr. Holmes, it's up to you to give 
us a lead, since you say Mn White Mason's 
theory is inconvincing.'* 

Holmes had sat intently observant during this 
long discussion, missing no word that was said, 
with his keen eyes darting to right and to leftf 
and his forehead wrinkled with speculation. 

"I should like a few more facts before I get 
so far as a theory, Mr. Mac,'' said he, kneeling 
'own beside the body. *T)ear me! these injuries 
are really appalling. Can we have the butler 
in for a moment ? . . • Ames, I understand that 
you have often seen this very tmusual mark — ^a 
branded triangle inside a circle — ^upon Mr. Doug- 
las' forearm?" 

"Frequently, Sir." 



"You never heard any speculation as to what 
it meant?" 

"No, Su-." 

"It must have caused great paJn when it was 
inflicted. It is tmdoubtedly a bum. Now, I ob- 
serve, Ames, that there is a small piece of plaster 
at the angle of Mr. Douglas' jaw. Did you ob- 
serve that in life?" 

"Yes, Sir, he cut himself in shaving yesterday 

"Did you ever know him to cut himself in shav- 
ing before?" 

"Not for a very long time. Sir." 

"Suggestive!" said Holmes. "It may, of 
course, be a mere coincidence, or it may point to 
some nervousness which would indicate that he 
had reason to apprehend danger. Had you no- 
ticed anything unusual in his conduct, yesterday, 

"It struck me that he was a little restless and 
excited. Sir." 

"Hal The attack may not have been entirely 
unexpected. We do seem to make a little prog- 
ress, do we not? Perhaps you would rather do 
the questioning, Mr. Mac?' 



"No, Mr, Holmes, it's in better hands than 

"Well, then, we will pass to this card — ^V. V. 
841. It is rough cardboard. Have you any 
of the sort in the house ?" 

"I don't think so.'* 

Holmes walked across to the desk and dabbed 
a little ink from each bottle on to the blotting 
paper. "It was not printed in this room," he 
said; "this is black ink and the other purplish. 
It was done by a thick pen, and these are fine. 
No, it was done elsewhere, I should say. Can 
you make anything of the inscription, Ames?" 

"No, Sir, nothing." 

"What do you thmk, Mr. Mac?" 

"It gives me the impression of a secret society 
of some sort; the same with his badge upon the 

"That's my idea, too," said White Mason. 

"Well, we can adopt it as a working hypothesis 
and then see how far our diflSculties disappear. 
An agent from such a society makes his way 
into the house, waits for Mr. Douglas, blows his 
head nearly off with this weapon, and escapes 
by wading the moat, after leaving a card beside 



the dead man, which will, when mentioned in the 
papers, tell other members of the society that 
vengeance has been done. That all hangs to- 
gether. But why this gun, of all weapons?'' 


"And why the missing ringf 

"Quite so/' 

"And why no arrest? It's past two now. I 
take it for granted that since dawn every con- 
stable within forty miles has been looking t>ut 
for a wet stranger?" 

"That is so, Mr. Holmes." 

"Well, imless he has a burrow close by or a 
change of clothes ready, they can hardly nodss 
him. And yet they have missed him up to now I" 
Holmes had gone to the window and was ex- 
amining with his lens the blood mark on the 
sill. "It is clearly the tread of a shoe. It is 
remarkably broad; a splay-foot, one would say. 
Curious, because, so far as one can trace any 
footmark in this mud-stained comer, one would 
say it was a more shapely sole. However, they 
are certainly very indistinct. What's this under 
the side table?" 

'Mr. Douglas' dumb-bells/' said Ames. 



"Dumb-bell — ^there's only one. Whereas the 
otherr ' 

"I don't know, Mr. Holmes. There may hav^ 
been only one. I have not noticed them for 

"One dmnb-bell " Holmes said seriously; 

but his remarks were interrupted by a sharp 
knock at the door. 

A tall, sun-burned, capable-looking, clean- 
shaved man looked in at us. I had no dif&culty 
in guessing that it was the Cecil Barker of whom 
I had heard. His masterful eyes traveled quick- 
ly with a questioning glance from face to face. 

"Sorry to interrupt your consultation," said 
he, "but you should hear the latest news/' 

"An arrest?" 

"No such luck. But they've found his bicycle. 
The fellow left his bicycle behind him. Come 
and have a look. It is within a htmdred yards 
of the hall door." 

We found three or four grooms and idlers 
standing in the drive inspecting a bicycle which 
had been drawn out from a clump of evergreens 
in which it had been concealed. It was a well 
used Rudge- Whitworth, splashed as from a con- 



siderable journey. There was a saddlebag witii 
spanner and oilcan, but no clue as to the owner. 

'^It would be a grand help to the police," said 
the Inspector, 'If these things were numbered 
and registered. But we must be thankful for 
what weVe got. If we can*t find where he went 
to, at least we are hkely to get where he came 
from. But what in the name of all that is won- 
derful made the fellow leave it behind? And 
how in the world has he got away without it? 
We don't seem to get a gleam of light in the 
case, Mr. Holmes." 

**Don't we?" my friend answered thought- 
fuUy, "Iwonderr 






HAVE you seen all you want of the study?'* 
asked White Mason as we reentered the 

"For the time/* said the Inspefetor, and 
Holmes nodded; 

"Then perhaps you would now like to hear ihe 
evidence of some of the people in the house. We 
could use the dining room, Ames. Please come 
yourself first and tell us what you know." 

The butler's account was a simple and a dear 
one, and he gave a convincing impression of sin- 
cerity. He had been engaged five years before, 
when Douglas first came to Birlstone. He un- 
derstood that Mr. Douglas was a rich gentleman 
who had made his money in America. He had 
been a kind and considerate employer — ^not quite 



what Ames was used to, perhaps; but one can't 
have everything. He never saw any signs of ap- 
prehension in Mr. Douglas : on the contrary, he 
was the most fearless man he had ever known. 
He ordered the drawbridge to be pulled up everj 
night because it was the ancient custom of the 
old house, and he liked to keep the old ways up. 

Mr. Douglas seldom went to London or left 
the village; but on the day before the crime he 
had been shopping at Tiinbridge Wells. He 
(Ames) had observed some restlessness and ex- 
citement on the part of Mr. Douglas that day; 
for he had seemed impatient and irritable, which 
was unusual with him. He had not gone to bed 
that night; but was in the pantry at the back 
of the house, putting away the silver, when he 
heard the bell ring violently. He heard no shot ; 
but it was hardly possible he would, as the pantry 
and kitchens were at the very back of the house 
and there were several closed doors and a long 
passage between. The housekeeper had come 
out of her room, attracted by the violent ring- 
ing of the bell. They had gone to the front of 
the house together. 

As they reached the bottom of the stair he had 


seen Mrsl Douglas coining down it. No, she 
was not hurrying; it did not seem to him that 
she was particularly agitated. Just as she reached 
the bottom of the stair Mr. Barker had rushed 
out of the study. He had stopped Mrs. Douglas 
and begged her to go back. 

"For God's sake go back to your rooml" he 
cried. "Poor Jack is dead! You can do noth- 
ing. For God's sake go backl" 

After some persuasion upon the stairs Mrs* 
Douglas had gone back. She did not screanu 
She made no outcry whatever. Mrs. Allen, the 
housekeeper, had taken her upstairs and stayed 
with her in the bedroom. Ames and Mr. Barker 
had then returned to the study, where they had 
found everything exactly as the police had seen 
it. The candle was not lit at that time ; but the 
lamp was burning. They had looked out of the 
window ; but the night was very dark and noth- 
ing could be seen or heard. They had then 
rushed out into the hall, where Ames had turned 
the windlass which lowered the drawbridge. Mr. 
Barker had then hurried off to get the police. 

Such, in its essentials, was the evidence of the 



The account of Mrs. Allen, the housekeeper, 
was, so far as it went, a corroboration of that 
of her fellow servant. The housekeeper's room 
was rather nearer to the front of the house than 
the pantry in which Ames had been working. 
She was preparing to go to bed when the loud 
ringing of the bell had attracted her attention. 
She was a little hard of hearing. Perhaps that 
was why she had not heard the shot; but in any 
case the study was a long way off. She re- 
membered hearing some soimd which she im* 
agined to be the slamming of a door. That was 
a good deal earlier, — half an hour at least be- 
fore the ringing of the bell. When Mr. Ames 
ran to the front she went with him. She saw 
Mr. Barker, very pale and excited, come out of 
the study. He intercepted Mrs. Douglas, who 
was coming down the stairs. He entreated her 
to go back, and she answered him, but what she 
said could not be heard. 

**Take her upl Stay with her!'* he had said 
to Mrs. Allen. 

She had therefore taken her to the bedroom, 
and endeavored to soothe her. She was greatly 
excited, trembling all over, but made no other 


attempt to go downstairs. She just sat in her 
dressing gown by her bedroom fire, with her 
head smik in her hands. Mrs. Allen stayed with 
her most of the night. As to the other servants, 
they had all gone to bed, and the alarm did not 
reach them until just before the police arrived. 
They slept at the extreme back of the house, and 
could not possibly have heard anything. 

So far the housekeeper could add nothing on 
cross-examination save lamentations and expres- 
sions of amazement. 

Cecil Barker succeeded Mrs. Allen as a wit- 
ness. As to the occurrences of the night before, 
he had very little to add to what he had already 
told the police. PersonaUy, he was convinced 
that the murderer had escaped by the window. 
The bloodstain was conclusive, in his opinion, on 
that point. Besides, as the bridge was up, there 
was no other possible way of escaping. He could 
not explain what had become of the assassin or 
why he had not taken his bicycle, if it were in- 
deed his. He could not possibly have been 
drowned in the moat, which was at no place more 
than three feet deep. 

In his own mind he had a very definite theory 



about the murder. Douglas was a reticent man, 
and there were some chapters in his life of which 
he never spoke. He had emigrated to America 
when he was a very young man. He had pros- 
pered well, and Barker had first met him in 
California, where they had become partners in a 
successful mining claim at a place called Benito 
Canyon. They had done very well; but Doug- 
las had suddenly sold out and started for Eng- 
land. He was a widower at that time. Barker 
had afterward realized his money and come to 
live in London. Thus they had renewed their 

Douglas had given him the impression that 
some danger was hanging over his head, and he 
had always looked upon his sudden departure 
from California, and also his renting a house in 
so quiet a place in England, as being connected 
with this peril. He imagined that some secret 
society, some implacable organization, was on 
Douglas' track, which would never rest until it 
killed him. Some remarks of his had given him 
this idea ; though he had never told him what the 
society was, nor how he had come to offend it. 
He could only suppose that the legend upon the 


placard had some reference to this secret society. 

"How long were you with Douglas in Cali- 
fomia?" asked Inspector MacDonald. 
Tive years altogether." 
'He was a bachelor, you say?" 

"A widower." 

"Have you ever heard where his first wife 
came from?" 

"No, I remember bis saying that she was of 
German extraction, and I have seen her por- 
trait. She was a very beautiful woman. She 
died of tjrphoid the year before I met him." 

"You don't associate his past with any par- 
ticular part of America?" 

"I have heard him talk of Chicago. He knew 
that city well and had worked there. I have 
heard him talk of the coal and iron districts. He 
had traveled a good deal in his time." 

"Was he a politician? Had this secret society 
to do with politics?" 

"No, he cared nothing about politics." 

"You have no reason to think it was criminal?** 

"On the contrary, I never met a straighter 
man in my life." 


''Was there an3rthing curious about his life in 

''He liked best to stay and to work at our claim 
in the mountains. He would never go where 
other men were if he could help it. That's why 
I first thought that someone was after him. Then 
when he left so suddenly for Europe I made 
sure that it was so. I believe that he had a 
warning of some sort. Within a week of his 
leaving half a dozen men were inquiring for 

"What sort of men?" 

"Well, they were a mighty hard-looking 
crowd. They came up to the claim and wanted 
to know where he was. I told them that he was 
gone to Europe and that I did not know where 
to find him. They meant him no good — ^it was 
easy to see that." 

"Were these men Americans — Calif omians?" 

"Well, I don't know about Calif omians. They 
were Americans, all right. But they were not 
miners. I don't know what they were, and was 
very glad to see their backs." 

"That was six years ago?" 

"Nearer seven," 


"And then you were together five years in 
Calif omia, so that this business dates back not 
less than eleven years at the least?" 

"That is so." 

"It must be a very serious feud that would be 
kept up with such earnestness for as long as that. 
It would be no light thing that would give rise 
to it." 

"I think it shadowed his whole life. It was 
never quite out of his mind." 

"But if a man had a danger hanging over him, 
and knew what it was, don't you think he would 
turn to the poUce for protection?" 

"Maybe it was some danger that he could not 
be protected against. There's one thing you 
should know. He always went about armed. 
His revolver was never out of his pocket. But, 
by bad luck, he was in his dressing gown and 
had left it in the bedroom last night. Once the 
bridge was up, I guess he thought he was safe." 

"I should like these dates a little clearer," said 
MacDonald. "It is quite six years since Doug- 
las left California. You followed him next year^ 
did you not?" 

"That is so.'' 



''And he had been married five years. Tou 
must have returned about the time of his mar- 

"About a month before. I was his best man.'* 
"Did you know Mrs. Douglas before her mar- 

"N09 1 did not. I had been away from Eng- 
land for ten years." 

"But you have seen a good deal of her since." 

Barker looked sternly at the detective. "I 
have seen a good deal of him since," he answered. 
"If I have seen her, it is because you cannot visit 
. m« without knowing hi. wife. If you im- 
agine there is any connection " 

"I imagine nothing, Mr. Barker. I am boimd 
to md.. Zy ■n,4 which ^ hear upon the 
case. But I mean no offense." 

"Some inquiries are offensive," Barker an- 
swered angrily. 

"It's only the facts that we want. It is in 
your interest and everyone's interest that they 
should be cleared up. Did Mr. Douglas entirely 
approve your friendship with his wife?" 

Barker grew paler, and his great, strong hands 
were clasped convulsively together. "You have 


no right to ask such questions I" he cried. "What 
has this to do with the matter you are investigate 

"I must repeat the question.'* 

"Well, I refuse to answer/' 

"You can refuse to answer; but you must be 
aware that your refusal is in itself an answer, for 
you would not refuse if you had not something 
to conceal." 

Barker stood for a moment with his face set 
grimly and his strong black eyebrows drawn low 
in intense thought. Then he looked up with a 
smile. "Well, I guess you gentlemen are only 
doing your clear duty after all, and I have no 
right to stand in the way of it. I'd only ask you 
not to worry Mrs. Douglas over this matter; for 
she has enough upon her just now. I may tell 
you that poor Douglas had just one fault in the 
world, and that was his jealousy. He was fond 
of me — ^no man could be fonder of a friend. And 
he was devoted to his wife. He loved me to 
come here, and was forever sending for me. 
And yet if his wife and I talked together or 
there seemed any sympathy between us, a kind of 
wave of jealousy would pass over him, and he 



would be off the handle and. saying the wildest 
things in a moment. More than once IVe sworn 
off coming for that reason, and then he would 
write me such penitent, imploring letters that 
I just had to. But you can take it from me, 
Gentlemen, if it was my last word, that no man 
ever had a more loving, faithful wife — and I 
can say also no friend could he more loyal than 


It was spoken with fervor and feeling, and yet 
Inspector MacDonald could not dismiss the sub- 

"You are aware," said he, "that the dead man's 
wedding ring has been taken from his finger?'' 

"So it appears," said Barker. 

"What do you mean by ^appears' ? You know 
it as a fact." 

The man seemed confused and undecided. 
"When I said ^appears' I meant that it was con- 
ceivable that he had himself taken off the ring." 

"The mere fact that the ring should be absent, 
whoever may have removed it, would suggest to 
anyone's mind, would it not, that the marriage 
and the tragedy were connected?" 

Barker shrugged his broad shoulders. "I can't 


profess to say what it means," he answered. "But 
if you mean to hint that it could reflect in any 
way upon this lady's honor" — ^his eyes blazed 
for an instant, and then with an evident effort 
he got a grip upon his own emotions— "weU, you 
are on the wrong track, that's all." 

"I don't know that I've anything else to ask 
you at present," said MacDonald coldly. 

"There was one smaU point," remarked Sher- 
lock Holmes. "When you entered the room there 
was only a candle lighted on the table, was there 

"Yes, that was so." 

"By its light you saw that some terrible inci- 
dent had occurred?" 


**You at once rang for help?" 


"And it arrived very speedily?" 

"Within a minute or so." 

"And yet when they arrived they found that 
the candle was out and that the lamp had been 
lighted. That seems very remarkable." 

Again Barker showed some signs of inde- 
cision. "I don't see that it was remarkable, Mr. 



Holmes," he answered after a pause. "The 
candle threw a very bad light. My first thought 
was to get a better one. The lamp was on the 
table; so I lit it." 

"And blew out the candle?" 


Holmes asked no further question, and Bar- 
ker, with a deliberate look from one to the other 
of us, which had, as it seemed to me, something 
of defiance in it, turned and left the room. 

Inspector MacDonald had sent up a note to 
the efiTect that he would wait upon Mrs. Douglas 
in her room ; but she had replied that she would 
meet us in the dining room. She entered now, 
a tall and beautiful woman of thirty, reserved 
and self-possessed to a remarkable degree, very 
difi^erent from the tragic and distracted figure I 
had pictured. It is true that her face was pale 
and drawn, like that of one who has endured a 
great shock ; but her manner was composed, and 
the finely molded hand which she rested upon the 
edge of the table was as steady as my own. Her 
sad, appealing eyes traveled from one to the 
other of us with a curiously inquisitive expres- 


sion. That questioning gaze transformed itself 
suddenly into abrupt speech. 

"Have you found anything out yet?" she 

Was it my imagination that there was an un- 
dertone of fear rather than of hope in the ques- 

"We have taken every possible step, Mrs. 
Douglas/' said the Inspector. "You may rest 
assured that nothing will be neglected." 

"Spare no money," she said in a dead, even 
tone. "It is my desire that every possible effort 
should be made." 

"Perhaps you can tell us something which may 
throw some light upon the matter." 

"I fear not ; but all I know is at your service." 

"We have heard from Mr. Cecil Barker that 
you did not actually see — ^that you were never 
in the room where the tragedy occurred?" 

"No, he turned me back upon the stairs. He 
l>^ggcd me to return to my room." 

"Quite so. You had heard the shot, and you 
had at once come down." 

"I put on my dressing gown and then came 


"How long was it after heaiing the shot that 
you were stopped on the stair by Mr. Barker?" 

"'It may have been a couple of minutes. It is 
so hard to reckon time at such a moment. He 
implored me not to go on. He assured me that 
I could do nothing. Then Mrs. Allen, the house- 
keeper, led me upstairs again. It was all like 
some dreadful dream." 

"Can you give us any idea how long your hus- 
band had been downstairs before you heard the 

"No, I cannot say. He went from his dress- 
ing room and I did not hear him go. He did 
the round of the hoiise every night, for he was 
nervous of fire. It is the only thing that I have 
ever known him nervous of." 

"That is just the point which I want to come 
to, Mrs. Douglas. You have known your hus- 
band only in England, have you not?" 

"Yes, we have been married five years." 

"Have you heard him sjieak of anything which 
occurred in America and might bring some dan- 
ger upon him?" 

Mrs. Douglas thought earnestly before she an- 
swered. **Yes," she said at last, "I have alwayt 


felt that there was a danger hanging over him. 
He refused to discuss it with me. It was not 
from want of confidence in me, — ^there was the 
most complete love and confidence between us, 
— ^but it was out of his desire to keep all alarm 
away from me. He thought I should brood 
over it if I knew all, and so he was silent." 

"How did you know it, then?" 

Mrs. Douglas' face lit with a quick smile* 
"Can a husband ever carry about a secret all his 
life and a woman who loves him have no sus- 
picion of it? I knew it by his refusal to talk 
about some episodes in his American life. I 
knew it by certain precautions he took. I knew 
it by certain words he let fall. I knew it by the 
way he looked at unexpected strangers. I was 
perfectly certain that he had some powerful ene- 
mies, that he believed they were on his track, 
and that he was always on his guard against 
them. I was so sure of it that for years I have 
been terrified if ever he came home later than 
was expected." 

"Might I ask," said Holmes, "what the words 
were which attracted your attention?" 

"The Valley of Fear," the lady answered. 



^'That was an expression he has used when I 
questioned him. ^I have heen in the Valley of 
Fear. I am not out of it yet/ — *Are we never 
to get out of the Valley of Fear?' I have asked 
him when I have seen him more serious than 
usual. 'Sometimes I think that we never shall,' 
he has answered." 

^'Surely you asked him what he meant by the 
VaUey of Fear?" 

"I did; but his face would become very grave 
and he would shake his head. 'It is bad enough 
that one of us should have been in its shadow/ 
he said. Tlease GUxl it shall never fall upon 
youl' It was some real valley in which he had 
lived and in which something terrible had oc- 
curred to him, of that I am certain; but I can tell 
you no more/' 

"And he never mentioned any names?" 

^"YtSf he was delirious with fever once when 
he had his hunting accident three years ago. 
Then I remember that there was a name that 
came continually to his lips. He spoke it with 
anger and a sort of horror. McGinty was the 
name — ^Bodymaster McGinty, I asked him when 
he recovered who Bodymaster McGinty was, and 


whose body he was master of. *Never of mine, 
thank God I' he answered with a laugh, and that 
was aU I could get from him. But there is a con- 
nection between Bodymaster McGinty and the 
Valley of Fear." 

"There is one other point," said Inspector Mac- 
Donald. "You met Mr. Douglas in a boarding 
house in London, did you not, and became en- 
gaged to him there? Was there any romance, 
anything secret or mysterious, about the wed- 

"There was romance. There is always ro- 
mance. There was nothing mysterious." 

"He had no rival?" 

"No, I was quite free." 

"You have heard^ no doubt, that his wedding 
ring has been taken. Does that suggest an3rthing 
to you? Suppose that some enemy of his old life 
had tracked him down and committed this crime, 
what possible reason could he have for taking his 
wedding ring?" 

For an instant I could have sworn that the 
faintest shadow of a smile flickered over the 
woman's lips. 



"I really cannot tell," she answered, "It is cer-. 
tainly a most extraordinary thing." 

"Well, we will not detain you any longer, and 
we are sorry to have put you to this trouble at 
sudh a time," said the Inspector. "There are 
some other points, no doubt ; but we can refer to 
you as they arise." 

She rose, and I was again conscious of that 
quick, questioning glance with which she had 
just surveyed us. "What impression has my evi- 
dence made upon you?" The question might as 
well have been spoken. Then, with a bow, she 
swept from the room. 

"She's a beautiful woman — ^a very beautiful 
woman," said MacDonald thoughtfully, after 
the door had closed behind her. "This man Bar- 
ker has certainly been down here a good deal. 
He is a man who might be attractive to a woman. 
He admits that the dead man was jealous, and 
maybe he knew best himself what cause he had 
for jealousy. Then there's that wedding ring. 
You can't get past that. The man who tears a 

wedding ring oS a dead man's What do 

you say to it, Mr. Holmes?" 

My friend had sat with his head upon his hands^ 


sunk in the deepest thought. Now he rose and 
rang the bell. "Ames," he said, when the butler 
entered, "where is Mr. Cecil Barker now?" 

"I'U see, Sir." 

He came back in a moment to say that Barker 
was in the garden. 

"Can you remember, Ames, what Mr. Barker 
had on his feet last night when you joined him in 
the study?" 

"Yes, Mr. Holmes. He had a pair of bedroom 
slippers. I brought him his boots when he went 
for the police." 

"Where are the slippers now?" 

"They are still tmder the chair in the hall." 

"Very good, Ames. It is, of course, important 
for us to know which tracks may be Mr. Barker's 
and which from outside." 

"Yes, Sir. I may say that I noticed that the 
slippers were stained with blodd — so indeed were 
my own." 

"That is natural enough, considering the con- 
dition of the room. Very good, Ames. We will 
ring if we want you." 

A few minutes later we were in the study. 
Holmes had brought with him the carpet slippers 



from the hall. As Ames had observed, the soles 
of both were dark with blood. 

'"Strangel" murmured Holmes, as he stood in 
the light of the window and examined them 
minutely. "Very strange indeed I" 

Stooping with one of his quick feline pounces, 
he placed the slipper upon the blood mark on the 
sill. It exactly corresponded. He smiled in sil- 
ence at his colleagues. 

The Inspector was transfigured with excite* 
ment. His native accent rattled like a stick upon 

"Man/* he cried, "there's not a doubt of itl 
Barker has just marked the window himself. It's 
a good deal broader than any bootmark. I mind 
that you said it was a splay-foot, and here's the 
explanation. But what's the game, Mr. Holmes 
— ^what's the game?" 

"Aye, what's the game?" my friend repeated 

White Mason chuckled and rubbed his fat 
hands together in his professional satisfaction. 
"I said it was a snorter I" he cried. "And a real 
snorter it isl" 



THE three detectives had many matters of de- 
tail into which to inquire; so I returned 
alone to our modest quarters at the village inn. 
But before doing so I took a stroll in the curious 
old world garden which flanked the house. Rows 
of very ancient yew trees cut into strange designs 
girded it round. Inside was a beautiful stretch 
of lawn with an old sundial in the middle, the 
whole effect so soothing and restful that it was 
welcome to my somewhat jangled nerves. 

In that deeply peaceful atmosphere one could 
forget, or remember only as some fantastic night- 
mare, that darkened study with the sprawling, 
bloodstained figure on the floor. And yet, as I 
strolled round it and tried to steep my soul in 
its gentle bahn, a strange incident occurred, which 



brought me back to the tragedy and left a sinis- 
ter impression in my mind. 

I have said that a decoration of yew trees cir- 
cled the garden. At the end farthest from the 
house they thickened into a continuous hedge. 
On the other side of this hedge, concealed from 
the eyes of anyone approaching from the direc- 
tion of the house, there was a stone seat. As I 
approached the spot I was aware of voices, some 
remark in the deep tones of a man, answered by 
a little ripple of feminine laughter. 

An instant later I had come round the end of 
the hedge and my eyes lit upon Mrs. Douglas 
and the man Barker before they were aware of 
my presence. Her appearance gave me a shockt 
In the dining room she had been demiu^ and dis- 
creet. Now all pretense of grief had passed away 
from her. Her eyes shone with the joy of living, 
and her face still quivered with amusement at 
some remark of her companion. He sat forward, 
his hands clasped and his forearms on his knees, 
with an answering smile upon his bold, handsome 
face. In an instant — ^but it was just one instant 
too late — ^they resimoied their solemn masks as my 
figure came into view. A hurried word or two 


passed between them, and then Barker rose and 
came toward me. 

"Excuse me, Sir," said he, "but am I address- 
ing Dr. Watson?" 

I bowed with a coldness which showed, I dare 
say, very plainly the impression which had been 
produced upon my mind. 

"We thought that it was probably you, as your 
friendship with Mr. Sherlock Holmes is so well 
known. Would you mind coming over and 
speaking to Mrs. Douglas for one instant?'* 

I followed him with a dour face. Very clearly 
I could see in my mind's eye that shattered figure 
on the floor. Here within a few hours of the 
tragedy were his wife and his nearest friend 
laughing together behind a bush in the garden 
which had been his. I greeted the lady with re- 
serve. I had grieved with her grief in the dining 
l*oom. Now I met her appealing gaze with an 
unresponsive eye. 

"I fear that you think me callous and hard- 
hearted," said she. 

I shrugged my shoulders. "It is no business 
of mine," said I. 



"Perhaps some day you will do me justice. If 
you only realized " 

"There is no need why Dr. Watson should 
realize," said Barker quickly. "As he has him-* 
self said, it is no possible business of his." 

"Exactly," said I, "and so I will beg leave to 
resume my walk." 

"One moment, Dr. Watson," cried the woman 
in a pleading voice. "There is one question which 
you can answer with more authority than anyone 
else in the world, and it may make a very great 
difference to me. You know Mr. Holmes and his 
relations with the police better than anyone else 
can. Supposing that a matter were brought 
confidentially to his knowledge, is it absolutely 
necessary that he should pass it on to the detec- 

"Yes, that's it," said Barker eagerly. "Is he 
on his own or is he entirely in with them?" 

"I really don't know that I should be justified 
in discussing such a point." 

"I beg — I implore that you will. Dr. Watson 1 
I assure you that you will be helping us — Whelping 
me greatly if you will guide us on that point." 

There was such a ring of sincerity in the 


woman's voice that for the instant I forgot all 
about her levity and was moved only to do her 

"Mr. Holmes is an independent investigator," 
I said. "'He is his own master, and would act 
as his own judgment directed. At the same 
time, he would naturally feel loyalty toward the 
officials who were working on the same case, and 
he would not conceal from them anything which 
would help them in bringing a criminal to jus- 
tice. Beyond this I can say nothing, and I would 
refer you to Mr. Holmes himself if you wanted 
fuller information." 

So saying I raised my hat and went upon my 
way, leaving them still seated behind that con- 
cealing hedge. I lool^ed back as I rounded the 
far end of it, and saw that they were still talking 
very earnestly together, and, as they were gaz- 
ing after me, it was clear that it was our inter- 
view that was the subject (>f their debate. 

"I wish none of their confidences," said 
Holmes, when I reported to kim what had oc- 
curred. He had spent the whole afternoon at 
the Manor House in consultation with his two 
colleagues, and returned about five with a rave^ 



nous appetite for a high tea which I had ordered 
for him. "No confidences, Watson ; for they are 
mighty awkward if it comes to an arrest for con- 
spiracy and murder." 

"You think it will come to that?" 

He was in his most cheerful and debonau- hu- 
mor. "My dear Watson, when I have extermi- 
nated that fourth egg I shall be ready to put you 
in touch with the whole situation. I don't say 
that we have fathomed it, — far from it, — ^but 
when we have traced the missing dumb-bell " 

"The dumb-beUl" 

"Dear me, Watson, is it possible that you have 
not penetrated the fact that the case hangs upon 
the missing dumb-bell? Well, well, you need not 
be downcast ; for between ourselves I don't think 
that either Inspector Mac or the excellent local 
practitioner has grasped the overwhelming im- 
portance of this incident. One dumb-bell, Wat- 
son 1 Consider an athlete with one dumb-bell 1 
Picture to yourself the unilateral development, 
the imminent danger of a spinal curvature. 
Shocking, Watson, shocking!" 

He sat with his mouth full of toast and his 
eyes sparkling with mischief, watching my in- 


tellectual entanglement. The mere sight of his 
excellent appetite was an assm*ance of success; 
for I had very clear recollections of days and 

nights without a thought of food, when his baf- 
fled mind had chafed before some problem while 
his thin, eager features became more attenuated 
with the asceticism of complete mental concen- 
tration. Finally he lit his pipe, and sitting in 
the inglenook of the old village inn he talked 
slowly and at random about his case, rather as 
one who thinks aloud than as one who makes a 
considered statement. 

"A lie, Watson — a great, big, thumping, ob- 
trusive, uncompromising lie — ^that's what meets 
us on the threshold ! There is our starting point. 
The whole story told by Barker is a lie. But 
Barker's story is corroborated by Mrs. Douglas. 
Therefore she is lying also. They are both lying, 
and in a conspiracy. So now we have the clear 
problem. Why are they lying, and what is the 
truth which they are trying so hard to conceal? 
Let us try, Watson, you and I, if we can get be- 
hind the lie and reconstruct the truth. 

"How do I know that they are lying? Be- 
cause it is a clumsy fabrication which simply 



could not be true. Consider I According to the 
story given to us, the assassin had less than a 
minute after the murder had been committed to 
take that ring, which was under another ring, 
from the dead man's finger, to replace the other 
ring — ^a thing which he would surely never have 
done — ^and to put that singular card beside his 
victim. I say that this was obviously impossible. 

"You may argue — ^but I have too much re- 
spect for your judgment, Watson, to think that 
you will do so— that the ring may have been 
taken before the man was killed. The fact that 
the candle had been lit only a short time shows 
that there had been no lengthy interview. Was 
Douglas, from what we hear of his fearless char- 
acter, a man who would be likely to give up his 
wedding ring at such short notice, or could we 
conceive of his giving it up at all? No, no, Wat- 
son, the assassin was alone with the dead man for 
some time with the lamp lit. Of that I have no 
doubt at all. 

"But the gunshot was apparently the cause of 

death. Therefore the shot must have been fired 

some time earlier than we are told. But there 

could be no mistake about such a matter as that. 



We are in the presence, therefore, of a deliberate 
conspiracy upon the part of the two people who 
heard the gunshot, — of the man Barker and of 
the woman Douglas, When on the top of this I 
am able to show that the blood mark on the win- 
dowsill was deliberately placed there by Barker, 
in order to give a false clue to the police, you 
will admit that the case grows dark against him. 

"Now we have to ask ourselves at what hour 
the murder actually did occur. Up to half past 
ten the servants were moving about the house; 
so it was certainly not before that time. At a 
quarter to eleven they had all gone to their rooms 
with the exception of Ames, who was in the 
pantry. I have been trying some experiments 
after you left us this afternoon, and I find that 
no noise which MacDonald can make in the study 
can penetrate to me in the pantry when the doors 
are all shut. 

"It is otherwise, however,' from the house- 
keeper's room. It is not so far down the cor- 
ridor, and from it I could vaguely hear a voice 
when it was very loudly raised. The sound from 
a shotgun is to some extent muffled when the dis- 
charge is at very close range, as it undoubtedly 



was in this instance. It would not be yery loud, 
and yet in the silence of the night it should have 
easily penetrated to Mrs. Allen's room. She is, 
as she has told us, somewhat deaf; but none the 
less she mentioned in her evidence that she did 
hear something like a door slamming half an hour 
before the alarm was given. Half an hour be- 
fore the alarm was given would be a quarter to 
eleven. I have no doubt that what she heard 
was the report of the gun, and that this was the 
real instant of the murder. 

"If this is so, we have now to determine what 
Barker and Mrs. Douglas, presuming that they 
are not the actual murderers, could have been 
doing from quarter to eleven, when the sound of 
the shot brought them down, imtil quarter past 
eleven, when they rang the bell and summoned 
the servants. What were they doing, and why 
did they not instantly give the alarm? That is 
the question whicif faces us, and when it has been 
answered we shall surely have gone some way to 
solve our problem." 

"I am convinced myself," said I, "that there is 
an imderstanding between those two people. She 
must be a heartless creatiure to sit laughing at 


some jest within a few hours of her husband's 

"Exactly. She does not shine as a wife even 
in her own account of what occurred. I am not 
a whole-souled admirer of womankind, as you 
are aware, Watson, but my experience of life has 
taught me that there are few wives, having any 
regard for their husbands, who would let any 
man's spoken word stand between them and that 
husband's dead body. Should I ever marry, Wat- 
son, I should hope to inspire my wife with some 
feeling which would prevent her from being 
walked off by a housekeeper when my corpse was 
lying within a few yards of her. It was badly 
stage-managed ; for even the rawest investigators 
must be struck by the absence of the usual femi- 
nine ululation. If there had been nothing else, 
this incident alone would have suggested a prear- 
ranged conspiracy to my mind." 

"You think then, definitely, that Barker and 
Mrs. Douglas are guflty of the murder?" 

"There is an appalling directness about your 
questions, Watson," said Holmes, shaking his 
pipe at me. "They come at me like bullets. If 
you put it that Mrs. Douglas and Barker know 



the truth about the murder, and are conspiring 
to conceal it, then I can give you a whole-souled 
answer. I am sure they do. But your more 
deadly proposition is not so clear. Let us for 
a moment consider the difficulties which stand in 
the way. 

"We will suppose that this cotiple ar6 united 
by the bonds of a guilty love, and that they have 
determined to get rid of the man who stands 
between them. It is a large supposition ; for dis- 
creet inquiry among servants and others has 
f «led to^bor.^ it in «,y w.y. On U.e 
contrary, there is a good deal of evidence that the 
Douglases were very attached to each other.** 

"That, I am sure, cannot be true," said I, 
thinking of the beautiful smiling face in the gar- 

"Well, at least they gave that impression. 
However, we will suppose that they are an ex- 
traordinarily astute couple, who deceive every- 
one upon this point, and conspire to murder the 
husband. He happens to be a man over whose 
head some danger hangs — 


"We have only their word for that." 
Holmes looked thoughtful. "I see, Watson. 


You are sketching out a theory by which every- 
thing they say from the beginning is false. Ac- 
cording to your idea, there was never any hid- 
den menace, or secret society, or Valley of Fear, 
or Boss MacSomebody, or anything else. Well, 
that is a good sweeping generalization. Let us 
see what that brings us to. They invent this 
theory to account for the crime. They then play 
up to the idea by leaving this bicycle in the park 
as proof of the existence of some outsider. The 
stain on the windowsill conveys the same idea. 
So does the card on the body, which might have 
been prepared in the house. That all fits into 
your hypothesis, Watson. But now we come on 
the nasty, angular, uncompromising bits which 
won't slip into their places. Why a cut-off shot- 
gun of all weapons — ^and an American one at 
that? How could they be so sure that the sound 
of it would not bring someone on to them? IV 9 
a mere chance as it is that Mrs. Allen did not 
start out to inquire for the slamming door. Why 
did your guilty couple do all this, Watson?" 
"I confess that I can't explain it." 
"Then again, if a woman and her lover con- 
spire to murder a husband, are they going to 



advertise their guilt by ostentatiously removing 
his wedding ring after his death? Does that 
strike you as very probable, Watson?" 

"No, it does not." 

''And once again, if the thought of leaving a 
bicycle concealed outside had occurred to you, 
would it really have seemed worth doing when 
the dullest detective would naturally say this is 
an obvious blind, as the bicycle is the first thing 
which the fugitive needed in order to make his 

"I can conceive of no explanation." 

"And yet there should be no combination of 
events for which the wit of man cannot conceive 
an explanation. Simply as a mental exercise, 
without any assertion that it is true, let me indi- 
cate a possible line of thought. It is, I admit, 
mere imagination; but how often is imagination 
the mother of truth? 

"We will suppose that there was a guilty se- 
cret, a really shameful secret in the life of this 
man Douglas. This leads to his murder by some- 
one who is, we will suppose, an avenger, some- 
one from outside. This avenger, for some rea* 
son which I confess I am still at a loss to explaiOt 


took the dead man's wedding ring. The vendetta 
might conceivably date back to the man's first 
marriage, and the ring be taken for some such 

"Before this avenger got away. Barker and 
the wife had reached the room. The assassin 
convinced them that any attempt to arrest him 
would lead to the publication of some hideous 
scandal. They were converted to this idea, and 
preferred to let him go. For this purpose they 
probably lowered the bridge, which can be done 
quite noiselessly, and then raised it again. He 
made his escape, and for some reason thbught 
that he could do so more safely on foot than on 
the bicycle. He therefore left his machine where 
it would not be discovered until he had got safely 
away. So far we are within the bounds of pos- 
sibility, are we not?" 

"Well, it is possible, no doubt," said I, with 
some reserve. 

"We have to remember, Watson, that what- 
ever occurred is certainly something very ex- 
traordinary. Well now, to continue our suppos- 
ititious case, the couple — ^not necessarily a guilty 
couple — ^realize after the murderer is gone that 



they have placed themselves in a position in 
which it may be difficult for them to prove that 
they did not themselves either do the deed or con- 
nive at it. They rapidly and rather clmnsily met 
the situation. The mark was put by Barker's 
bloodstained slipper upon the windowsill to sug- 
gest how the fugitive got away. They obviously 
were the two who must have heard the soimd of 
the gun; so they gave the alarm exactly as they 
would have done, but a good half -hour after the 

'And how do you propose to prove all this?'* 
Well, if there were an outsider, he may be 
traced and taken. That would be the most effec- 
tive of all' proofs. But if not — ^well, the re- 
sources of science are far from being exhausted. 
I think that an evening alone in that study would 
help me much." 

"An evening alone 1" 

"I propose to go up there presently. I have 
arranged it with the estimable Ames, who is by 
no means whole-hearted about Barker. I shall 
sit in that room and see if its atmosphere brings 
me inspiration. I'm a believer in the genius loci. 
You smile. Friend Watson. Well, we shall see. 


By the way, you have that big umbrella of yours, 
have you not?" 

"It is here." 

"WeU, I'U borrow that if I may." 

"Certainly — ^but what a wretched weapon! If 
there is danger " 

"Nothing serious, my dear Watson, or I 
should certainly ask for your assistance. But 
I'll take the umbrella. At present I am only 
awaiting the return of our coUeagues from Tun- 
bridge Wells, where they are at present engaged 
in trying for a likely owner to the bicycle." 

It was nightfall before Inspector MacDonald 
and White Mason came back from their expe- 
dition, and they arrived exultant, reporting a 
great advance in our investigation. 

"Man, I'll admeet .that I had my doubts if 
there was ever an outsider," said MacDonald; 
"but that's all past now. We've had the bicycle 
identified, and we have a description of our man; 
so that's a long step on our joimiey." 

"It sounds to me like the beginning of the 
end," said Holmes. "I'm sure I congratulate 
you both with all my heart." 

"Well, I started from the fact that Mr. Doug- 



las had seemed disturbed since the day bef ore^ 
when he had been at Tunbridge Wells. It was 
at Tunbridge Wells then that he had become con- 
scious of some danger. It was clear, therefore, 
that if a man had come over with a bicycle it 
was from Timbridge Wells that he might be 
expected to have come. We took the bicycle over 
with us and showed it at the hotels. It was iden* 
tified at once by the manager of the Eagle Com- 
mercial as belonging to a man named Hargrave, 
who had taken a room there two days before. 
This bicycle and a small valise were his whole 
belongings. He had registered his name as com- 
ing from London, but had given no address. The 
valise was London made, and the contents were 
British; but the man himself was undoubtedly 
an American." 

"Well, well,'* said Holmes gleefully, "you have 
indeed done some solid work while I have been 
sitting spinning theories with my friend 1 It's a 
lesson in being practical, Mr. Mac." 

"Aye, it's just that, Mr. Holmes," said the 
Inspector with satisfaction. 

"But this may all fit in with your tiheories/' I 


"That may or may not be. But let us hear the 
end, Mr. Mac. Was there nothing to identify 
this man?" 

"So little that it was evident that he had care- 
fully guarded himself against identification. 
There were no papers or letters and no marking 
upon the clothes. A cycle map of the county 
lay on his bedroom table. He had left the hotel 
after breakfast yesterday morning on his bicycle, 
and no more was heard of him until our in- 

"That's what puzzles me, Mr. Holmes," said 
White Mason. "If the fellow did not want the 
hue and cry raised over him, one would imagine 
that he would have returned and remained at 
the hotel as an inoffensive tourist. As it is, he 
must know that he will be reported to the police 
by the hotel manager and that his disappearance 
will be connected with the murder." 

"So one would imagine. Still, he has been 
justified of his wisdom up to date, at any rate, 
since he has not been taken. But his description 
—what of that?" 

MacDonald referred to his notebook. "Here 
we have it so far as they could give it. They 



don't seem to have taken any very particular 
stock of him; but still the porter, the clerk, and 
the chambermaid are all agreed that this about 
covers the points. He was a man about five foot 
nine in height, fifty or so years of age, his hair 
slightly grizzled, a grajdsh mustache, a curved 
nose, and a face which aU of them described a^ 
fierce and forbidding/' 

"Well, bar the expression, that might almost 
be a description of Douglas himself," said 
Holmes. "He is just over fifty, with grizzled 
hair and mustache, and about the same height. 
Did you get anything else?" 

"He was dressed in a heavy, gray suit with a 
reefer jacket, and he wore a short yellow over- 
coat and a soft cap." 

"What about the shotgun?" 

"It is less than two feet long. It could very 
well have fitted into his valise. He could have 
carried it inside his overcoat without difficulty." 

"And how do you consider that all this bears 
upon the general case?" 

"Well, Mr. Holmes," said MacDonald, "when 
we have got our man — and you may be sure that 
I had his description on the wires within five 

• > I I ■ 


minutes of hearing it — ^we shall be better able 
to judge. But, even as it stands, we have surely 
gone a long way. We know that an American 
calling himself Hargrave came to Tunbridge 
Wells two days ago with bicycle and valise. In 
the latter was a sawed-off shotgun; so he came 
with the deliberate purpose of crime. Yester- 
day morning he set off for this place on his 
bicycle, with his gun condaled in his overcoat. 
No one saw him arrive, so far as we can learn; 
but lie need not pass through the village to reach 
the park gates, and there are many cyclists upon 
the road. Presumably he at once concealed his 
cycle among the laurels where it was found, and 
possibly lurked there himself, with his eye on the 
house, waiting for Mr. Douglas to come out. The 
shotgun is a strange weapon to use inside a 
house ; but he had intended to use it outside, and 
there it has very obvious advantages, as it would 
be impossible to miss with it, and the sound of 
shots is so common in an English sporting neigh- 
borhood that no particular notice would be 

"That is all very clear," said Holmes. 

"Well, Mr. Douglas did not appear. What 



was he to do next? He left his bicycle and ap- 
proached the house in the twilight. He found 
the bridge down and no one about. He took his 
chance, intending, no doubt, to make some ex- 
cuse if he met anyone. He met no one. He 
slipped into the first room that he saw, and con- 
cealed himself behind the curtain. Thence he 
could see the drawbridge go up, and he knew that 
his only escape was tttough the moat. He waited 
until quarter past eleven, when Mr. Douglas 
upon his usual nightly roimd came into the room. 
He shot him and escaped, as arranged. He was 
aware that the bicycle would be described. by the 
hotel people and be a clue against him; so he left 
it there and made his way by some other means 
to London or to some safe hiding place which 
he had already arranged. How is that, Mr. 

"Well, Mr. Mac, it is very good and very clear 
so far as it goes. That is your end of the story. 
My end is that the crime was committed half 
an hour earlier than reported; that Mrs. Douglas 
and Barker are both in a conspiracy to conceal 
something ; that they aided the murderer's escape, 
— or at least that they reached the room before 

9, I I 


he escaped, — and that they fabricated evidence 
of his escape through the window, whereas in all 
probability they had themselves let him go by 
lowering the bridge. That's my reading of the 
first half." 

The two detectives shook their heads. 

"Well, Mr. Holmes, if this is true, we only 
tumble out of one mystery into another," said 
the London Inspector. 

"And in some ways a worse one," added White 
Mason. "The lady has never been in America 
in all her life. What possible connection could 
she have with an American assassin which would 
cause her to shelter him?" 

I freely admit the diflSculties," said Holmes. 
I propose to make a little investigation of my 
own to-night, and it is just possible that it may 
contribute something to the common cause." 

"Can we help you, Mr. Holmes?" 

"No, no! Darkness and Dr. Watson's mn* 
brella — ^my wants are simple. And Ames, the 
faithful Ames, no doubt he will stretch a point 
for me. All my lines of thought lead me 
back invariably to the one basic question, — ^why 
should an athletic man develop his frame upon 



SO unnatural an instrument as a single dumb- 

It was late that night when Holmes returned 
from his solitary excursion. We slept in a 
double-bedded room, which was the best that the 
little coimtry inn could do for us. I was already 
asleep when I was partly awakened by his en- 

"Well, Holmes,'* I murmured, *liave you 
found anything out?" 

He stood beside me in silence, his candle in his 
hand. Then the tall, lean figure inclined toward 
me. "I say, Watson," he whispered. "Would 
you be afraid to sleep in the same rooqi with a 
lunatic, a man with softening of the brain, an 
idiot whose mind has lost its grip?" 

"Not in the least," I answered in astonish- 

"Ah, that's hicky," he said, and not another 
word would he utter that night. 




NEXT morning, after breakfast, we found 
Inspector MacDonald and White Mason 
seated in close consultation in the small parlor of 
the local police Sergeant. On the table in front 
of them were piled a number of letters and tele- 
grams, which they were carefuUy sorting and 
docketing. Three had been placed on one side. 

"Still on the track of the elusive bicyclist?'* 
Holmes asked cheerfully. "What is the latest 
news of the ruffian?" 

MacDonald pointed ruefully to his heap of 

"He is at present reported from Leicester, 
Nottingham, Southampton, Derby, East Ham, 
Richmond, and fourteen other places. In three 
of them — ^East Ham, Leicester, and Liverpool 
' — ^there is a clear case against him, and he has 



actually been arrested. The country seems to be 
full of the fugitives with yellow coats," 

"Dear me I" said Holmes sympathetically. 
"Now, Mr. Mac, and you, Mr. White Mason, I 
wish to give you a very earnest piece of advice* 
When I went into this case with you I bargained, 
as you will no doubt remember, that I should not 
present you with half -proved theories, but that 
I should retain and work out my own ideas until 
I had satisfied myself that they were correct. 
For this reason I am not at the present moment 
telling you all that is in my mind. On the other 
hand, I said that I would play the game fairly 
by you, and I do not think it is a fair game to 
allow you for one unnecessary moment to waste 
your energies upon a profitless task. Therefore 
I am here to advise you this morning, and my ad- 
vice to you is summed up in three words, — aban- 
don the case." 

MacDonald and White Mason stared in 
amazement at their celebrated colleague. 

"You consider it hopeless I" cried the Inspec- 

"I consider your case to be hopeless. I do not 
consider that it is hopeless to arrive at the truth. 



**But this cyclist. He is not an invention. We 
have his description, his valise, his bicycle. The 
f dlow murt be «,me^e«. Why sh^d we not 

"Yes, yes, no doubt he is somewhere, and no 
doubt we shall get him; but I would not have 
you waste your energies in East Ham or Liver- 
pool. I am sure that we can find some shorter 
cut to a result.'* 

"You are holding something back. It's hardly 
fair of you, Mr. Holmes." The Inspector was 

"You know my methods of work, Mr. Mac 
But I will hold it back for the shortest time pos- 
sible. I only wish to verify my details in one 
way, which can very readily be done, and then 
I make my bow and return to London, leaving 
my results entirely at your service. I owe you 
too much to act otherwise; for in all my experi- 
ence I cannot recall any more singular and in- 
teresting study." 

"This is clean beycmd me, Mr. Holmes. We 
saw you when we returned from Tunbridge 
Wells last night, and you were in general agree- 
ment with our results. What has happened since 



then to give you a completely new idea of the 

"'Well, since you ask me, I spent, as I told you 
that I would, some hours last night at the Manor 

"Well, what happened?'* 

"Ah, I can only give you a very general answer 
to that for the moment. By the way, I have heen 
reading a short but clear and interesting accoimt 
of the old building, purchasable at the modest 
sum of one penny from the local tobacconist." 

Here Holmes drew a small tract, embellished 
with a rude engraving of the ancient Manor 
House, from his waistcoat pocket. 

"It immensely adds to the zest of an investi- 
gation, my dear Mr. Mac, when one is in con- 
scious sympathy with the historical atmosphere 
of one's surroundings. Don't look so impatient ; 
for I assure you that even so bald an account as 
this raises some sort of picture of the past in 
one's mind. Permit me to give you a sample. 
^Erected in the fifth year of the reign of James 
I, and standing upon the site of a much older 
building, the Manor House of Birlstone pre- 


sents one of the finest surviving examples of 
the moated Jacobean residence ' " 

"You are making fools of us, Mr. Holmes!" 

"Tut, tut, Mr. Mac I — ^the first sign of temper 
I have detected iii you. Well, I won't read it 
verbatim, since you feel so strongly upon the 
subject. But when I tell you that there is some 
account of the taking of the place by a parlia- 
mentary Colonel in 1644, of the concealment of 
Charles for several days in the course of the 
Civil War, and finally of a visit there by the 
second George, you will admit that there are 
various associations of interest connected with 
this ancient house." 

"I don't doubt it, Mr. Holmes ; but that is no 
bujsiness of ours." 

"Is it not? Is it not? Breadth of view, my 
dear Mr. Mac, is one of the essentials of oiir pro- 
fession. The interplay of ideas and the oblique 
uses of knowledge are often of extraordinary 
interest. You will excuse these remarks from 
one who, though a mere connoisseur of crime, is 
still rather older and perhaps more experienced 
than yourself.'* 

"I'm the first to admit that," said the detective 



heartily. ''You get to your point, I admit; but 
you have such a deuced round-the-comer way 
of doing it." 

''Well, well, I'll drop past history and get 
down to presentday facts. I called last night, as 
I have already said, at the Manor House. I did 
not see either Barker or Mrs. Douglas. I saw 
no necessity to disturb them; but I was pleased 
to hear that the lady was not visibly pining and 
that she had partaken of an excellent dinner. 
My visit was specially made to the good Mr. 
Ames, with whom I exchanged some amiabili- 
ties, which culminated in his allowing me, with* 
out reference to anyone else, to sit alone for a 
time in the study.'* 

'WhatI With that?" I ejaculated. 

'No, no, everything is now in order. You gave 
permission for that, Mr. Mac, as I am informed. 
The room was in its normal state, and in it I 
passed an instructive quarter of an hour." 

^What were you doing?" 

'Well, not to make a mystery of so simple a 

matter, I was looking for the missing dumb-bell. 

It has always bulked rather large in my estimate 

of the case. I ended by finding it.' 






"Where ?*^ 

"Ah, there we come to the edge of the unex- 
plored. Let me go a little further, a very little 
further, and I will promise that you shall share 
everything that I know." 

"Well, we*re boimd to take you on your own 
terms," said the Inspector; "but when it comes 
to telling us to abandon the case — ^why in the 
name of goodness should we abandon the case?" 

"For the simple reason, m;y dear Mr. Mac, that 
you have not got the first idea what it is that 
you are investigating." 

"We are investigating the murder of Mr. John 
Douglas of Birlstone Manor." 

"Yes, yes, so you are. But don't trouble to 
trace the mysterious gentleman upon the bicycle. 
I assure you that it won't help you." 

"Then what do you suggest that we do?" 

"I will tell you exactly what to do, if you wiD 
do it." 

"Well, I'm bound to say IVe always found you 
had reason behind all your queer ways. I'll do 
what you advise." 

"And you, Mr. White Mason?" 

The country detective looked helplessly from 



one to the other. Hohnes and his methods were 
new to him. "Well, if it is good enough for the 
Inspector, it is good enough for me/' he said 
at last. 

"Capital I" said Hohnes. "Well, then, I should 
recommend a nice, cheery country walk for hoth 
of you. They tell me that the views from Birl- 
stone Kidge over the Weald are very remarkahle. 
No douht lunch could be got at some suitable 
hostelry; though my ignorance of the country 
prevents me from recommending one. In the 
evening, tired but happy — 


^*Man, this is getting past a joke!" cried Mac- 
Donald, rising angrily from his chair. 

"Well, well, spend the day as you like," said 
Holmes, patting him cheerfully upon the shoul- 
der. "Do what you like and go where you will, 
but meet me here before dusk without fail — 
without fail, Mr. Mac." 

"That sounds more like sanity." 

"All of it was excellent advice; but I don*t 
insist, so long as you are here when I need you. 
But now, before we part, I want you to write a 
note to Mr. Barker." 



"I'll dictate it, if you like. Ready? 

**Deaji Snu — It has struck me that it is our 
duty to drain the moat, in the hope that we may 
find some " 

"It's impossible," said the Inspector. "IVe 
made inquiry." 

"Tut, tut I My dear Sir, please do what I ask 

"Well, go on." 


— ^in the hope that we may find something 
which may bear upon our investigation. I have 
made arrangements, and the workmen will be at 
work early tomorrow morning diverting the 
stream " 

"Impossible 1" 


Averting the stream ; so I thought it best to 

explain matters beforehand. 

Now sign that, and send it by hand about four 
o'clock. At that hour we shall meet again in 



this room. Untfl then we may each do what we 
like; for I can assure you that this inquiry has 
come to a definite pause.'* 

Evening was drawing in when we reassembled. 
Hohnes was very serious in his manner, myself 
curious, and the detectives obviously critical and 

**Well, Grcntlemen," said my friend gravely, 
^*I am asking you now to put everything to the 
test with me, and you will judge for yourselves 
whether the observations I have made justify the 
conclusions to which I have come. It is a chill 
evening, and I do not know how long our expe- 
dition may last; so I beg that you will wear your 
warmest coats. It is of the first importance that 
we should be in our places before it grows dark; 
so with your permission we shall get started at 

We passed along the outer bounds of the 
Manor House park until we came to a place 
where there was a gap in the rails whidi fenced 
it. Through this we slipped, and then in the 
gathering gloom we followed Holmes until we 
had reiu^ed a shrubbery which Hes nearly oppo- 
site to the main door and the drawbridge. The 



latter had not been raised. Holmes croudied 
down behind the screen of laurels, and we all 
three followed his example. 

"Well, what are we to do now?" asked Mac* 
Donald with some gruffness. 

"'Possess our souls in patience and make as 
little noise as possible," Holmes answered. 

"What are we here for at all? I reaUy think 
that you might treat us with more frankness." 

Holmes laughed. "Watson insists that I am 
the dramatist in real life," said he. "Some touch 
of the artist wells up within me, and calls in- 
sistently for a weU staged performance. Surely 
our profession, Mr. Mac, would be a drab and 
sordid one if we did not sometimes set the scene 
so as to glorify our results. The blunt accusa- 
tion, the brutal tap upon the shoulder, — ^what 
can one make of such a denouement? But the 
quick inference, the subtle trap, the clever fore- 
cast of coming events, the triumphant vindica- 
tion of bold theories, — ^are these not the pride 
and the justification of our life's work? At the 
present moment you thrill with the glamour of 
the situation and the anticipation of the hunter. 
Where would be that thrill if I had been as 





definite as a timetable? I only ask a little pa- 
tience, Mr, Mac, and all will be clear to you/' 

"Well, I hope the pride and justification and 
the rest of it will come before we all get our 
death of cold,*' said the London detective with 
comic resignation. 

We all had good reason to join in the aspira- 
tion; for our vigil was a long and bitter one. 
Slowly the shadows darkened over the long, som- 
ber face of the old house. A cold, damp reek 
from the moat chilled us to the bones and set 
our teeth chattering. There was a single lamp 
over the gateway and a steady globe of light in 
the fatal study. Everything else was dark and 

"How long is this to last?** asked the Inspector 
finally. "And what is it we are watching for?'* 

"I have no more notion than you how long it 
is to last,** Holmes answered with some asperity. 
"If criminals would always schedule their move- 
ments like railway trains, it would certainly be 
more convenient for all of us. As to what it is 
we Well, that's what we are watching fori" 

As he spoke the bright, yellow light in the 
study was obscured by somebody passing to and 


fro before it. The laurels among which we lay 
were immediately opposite the window and not 
more than a hundredf eet f romit. Presently it was 
thrown open with a whining of hinges, and we 
could dimly see the dark outline of a man's head 
and shoulders looking out into the gloom. For 
some minutes he peered forth in furtive, stealthy 
fashion, as one who wishes to be assured that he 
is unobserved. Then he leaned forward, and in 
the intense silence we were aware of the soft 
lapping of agitated water. He seemed to be 
stirring up the moat with something which he 
held in his hand. Then suddenly he hauled some- 
thing in as a fisherman lands a fish — some large, 
round object which obscured the light as it was 
dragged through the open casement. 
"Now!" cried Hohnes. ''Now!'* 
We were all upon our feet, staggering after 
him with our stiif ened limbs, while he ran swiftly 
across the bridge and rang violently at the bell. 
There was the rasping of bolts from the other 
side, and the amazed Ames stood in the entrance. 
Holmes brushed him aside without a word and, 
followed by all of us, rushed into the room which 



had been occupied by the man whom we had 
been watching. 

The oU lamp on the table represented the glow 
which we had seen from outside. It was now in 
the hand of Cecil Barker, who held it toward us 
as we entered. Its light shone upon his strong, 
resolute, clean-shaved face and his menacing 

"What the devil is the meaning of all thisT' 
he cried. "What are you after, anyhow?" 

Holmes took a swift glance round, and then 
pounced upon a sodden bundle tied together with 
cord which lay where it had been thrust under 
the ™ting Ubie. 

"This is what we are after, Mr. Barker,— this 
bundle, weighted with a dumb-bell, which you 
have just raised from the bottom of the moat." 

Barker stared at Holmes with amazement in 
his face. "How in thunder came you to know 
anything about it?" he asked. 

"Simply that I put it there." 

"You put it there! You!" 

"Perhaps I should have said ^replaced it 
there,* " said Holmes. "You will remember. In- 
spector MacDonald, that I was somewhat struck 


by the absence of a dumb-bell. I drew your at- 
tention to it ; but with the pressure of other events 
you had hardly the time to give it the consider- 
ation which would have enabled you to draw 
deductions from it. When water is near and a 
weight is missing it is not a very far-fetched sup- 
position that something has been sunk in the 
water. The idea was at least worth testing; so 
with the help of Ames, who admitted me to the 
room, and the crook of Dr. Watson's umbrella, 
I was able last night to fish up and inspect this 

"It was of the first importance, however, that 
we should be able to prove who placed it there. 
This we accomplished by the very obvious de- 
vice of announcing that the moat would be dried 
to-morrow, which had, of course, the effect that 
whoever had hidden the bundle would most cer- 
tainly withdraw it the moment that darkness 
enabled him to do so. We have no less than four 
witnesses as to who it was who took advantage 
of the opportunity, and so, Mr. Barker, I think 
the word lies now with you." 

Sherlock Holmes put the sopping bundle upon 
the table beside the lamp and imdid the cord 



which bound it. From within he extracted a 
dumb-bell, which he tossed down to its fellow in 
the comer. Next he drew forth a pair of boots. 
"American, 9s you perceive," he remarked, point- 
ing to the toes. Then he laid upon the table a 
long, deadly, sheathed knife. Finally he un- 
raveled a bundle of clotliing, comprising a com- 
plete set of underclothes, socks, a gray tweed 
suit, and a short yellow overcoat. 

"The clothes are comimonplace," remarked 
Holmes, "save only the overcoat, which is full 
of suggestive touches." He held it tenderly 
toward the light. "Here, as you perceive, is the 
inner pocket prolonged mto the lining in such 
fashion as to give ample space for the truncated 
fowling piece. The tailor's tab is on the neck, — 
*Neal, Outfitter, Vermissa, U. S. A.* I have 
spent an instructive afternoon in the rector's 
library, and have enlarged my knowledge by add- 
ing the fact that Vermissa is a flourishing little 
town at the head of one of the best known coal 
and iron valleys in the United States. I have 
some recollection, Mr. Barker, that you asso- 
ciated the coal districts with Mr. Douglas' first 
wife, and it would surely not be too far-fetched 



an inference that the V. V. upon the card by 
the dead body might stand for Vermissa Valley, 
or that this very valley which sends forth emis- 
saries of murder may be that Valley of Fear of 
which we have heard. So much is fairly clear. 
And now, Mr. Barker, I seem to be standing 
rather in the way of your explanation." 

It was a sight to see Cecil Barker's expressive 
face during tiiis exposition of the great detec- 
tive. Anger, amazement, consternation, and in- 
decision swept over it in turn. Finally he took 
refuge in a somewhat acrid irony. 

"You know such a lot, Mr. Holmes, perhaps 
you had better tell us some more,'* he sneered. 

"I have no doubt that I could tell you a great 
deal more, Mr. Barker; but it would come with 
a better grace from you/* 

"Oh, you think so, do you? Well, all I can 
say is that if there's any secret here it is not my 
secret, and I am not the man to give it away.** ^ 

"Well, if you take that line, Mr. Barker," said 
the Inspector quietly, "we must just keep you in 
sight until we have the warrant and can hold 



*^You can do what you damn please about 
that," said Barker defiantly. 

The proceedings seemed to have come to a 
definite end so far as he was concerned; for one 
had only to look at that granite face to realize 
that no 'peine forte et dure* would ever force him 
to plead against his will. The deadlock was 
broken, however, by a woman's voice. Mrs. 
Douglas had been standing listening at the half 
opened door, and now she entered the room. 

"You have done enough for now, Cecil," said 
she. "Whatever comes of it in the future, you 
have done enough." 

"Enough and more than enough," remarked 
Sherlock Holmes gravely. "I have every sym- 
pathy *with you. Madam, and I should strongly 
urge you to have some confidence in the common- 
sense of our jurisdiction and to take the police 
voluntarily into your complete confidence. It 
may be that I am myself at fault for not follow- 
ing up the hint which you conveyed to me 
through my friend. Dr. Watson; but at that 
time I had every reason to believe that you were 
directly concerned in the crime. Now I am as- 
sured that this is not so. At the same time, 


there is much that is unexplained, and I should 
strongly reconunend that you ask Mr. Douglas 
to tell us his own story/* 

Mrs. Douglas gave a cry of astonishment at 
Holmes' words. The detectives and I must have 
echoed it, when we were aware of a man who 
seemed to have emerged from the wall, who ad- 
vanced now from the gloom of the comer in 
whidi he had appeared. Mrs. Douglas turned, 
and in an instant her arms were round hinu 
Barker had seized his outstretched hand. 

"It's best this way. Jack," his wife repeated, 
— "I am sure that it is best." 

"Indeed yes, Mr. Douglas," said Sherlock 
Holmes, "I am sure that you will find it best." 

The man stood blinking at us with the dazed 
look of one who comes from the dark into the 
light. It was a remarkable face, bold gray eyes, 
a strong, short-clipped, grizzled mustache, a 
square, projecting chin, and a humorous mouth. 
He took a good look at us all, and then to my 
amazement he advanced to me and handed me a 
bundle of paper. 

"I've heard of you," said he in a voice which 
was not quite English and not quite 




but was altogether mellow and pleasing. "You 
are the historian of this bunch. Well, Dr. Wat- 
son, youVe never had such a story as that pass 
through your hands before, and I'll lay my last 
dollar on that. Tell it your own way ; but there 
are the facts, and you can't miss the public so 
long as you have those. I've been cooped up 
two days, and I've spent the daylight hours — ^as 
much daylight as I could get in that rat trap — 
in putting the thing into words. You're wel- 
come to them — ^you and your public. There's 
the story of the Valley of Fear." 

"That's the past, Mr. Douglas," said Sherlock 
Holmes quietly. "What we desire now is to 
hear your story of the present." 

"You'U have it, Sir," said Douglas. "May I 
smoke as I talk? Well, thank you, Mr. Holmes. 
You're a smoker yourself, if I remember right, 
and you'll guess what it is to be sitting for two 
days with tobacco in your pocket and afraid that 
the smell will give you away." He leaned 
against the mantelpiece and sucked at the cigar 
which Holmes had handed him. "I've heard of 
you, Mr. Holmes. I never guessed that I should 
meet you. But before you are through wiHi 


that," he nodded at my papers, "you will say IVe 
brought you something fresh." 

Inspector MacDonald had been staring at the 
newcomer with the greatest amazement. "Well, 
this fairly beats me I" he cried at last. "If you 
are Mr. John Douglas of Birlstone Manor, then 
whose death have we been investigating for these 
two days, and where in the world have you 
sprung from now? You seemed to me to come 
out of the floor like a jack-in-a-box." 

"Ah, Mr. Mac," said Holmes, shaking a re- 
proving forefinger, "you would not read that 
excellent local compilation which described the 
concealment of King Charles. People did not 
hide in those days without excellent hiding places, 
and the hiding place that has once been used may 
be again. I had persuaded myself that we 
should find Mr. Douglas under tliis roof." 

"And how long have you been playing this 
trick upon us, Mr. Holmes?" said the Inspector 
angrily. "How long have you allowed us to 
waste ourselves upon a search tha* you knew 
to be an absurd one?" 

"Not one instant, my dear Mr. Mac. Only 
last night did I form my views of the case. As 



they could not be put to the proof until this 
erening, I invited you and your colleague to 
take a holiday for the day. Pray what more 
could I do? When I found the suit of clothes 
in the moat, it at once became apparent to me 
that the body we had found could not have been 
the body of Mr. John Douglas at all, but must 
be that of the bicyclist from Tunbridge Wells. 
No other conclusion was possible. Therefore I 
had to determine where Mr. John Douglas him- 
self could be, and the balance of probability was 
that with the connivance of his wife and his 
friend he was concealed in a house which had 
such conveniences for a fugitive, and awaiting 
quieter times when he could make his final es^ 

"Well, you figured it out about right," said 
Douglas approvingly. "I thought I'd dodge 
your British law ; for I was not sure how I stood 
imder it, and also I saw my chance to throw these 
hounds once for all off my track. Mind you, 
from first to last I have done nothing to be 
ashamed of, and nothing that I would not do 
again; but you'll judge that for yourselves when 
I tell you my story. Never mind warning me, 


Inspector: I'm ready to stand pat upon the 

"I'm not going to begm at the beginning. 
That's all there," he indicated my bundle of 
papers, "and a mighty queer yam you'U find it. 
It all comes down to this: That there are some 
men that have good cause to hate me and would 
give their last dollar to know that they had got 
me. So long as I am alive and they are alive, 
there is no safety in this world for me. They 
hunted me from Chicago to California, then they 
chased me out of America; but when I married 
and settled down in this quiet spot I thought my 
last years were going to be peaceable. 

"I never explained to my wife how things 
were. Why should I pull her into it? She would 
never have a quiet moment again; but would 
always be imagining trouble. I fancy she knew 
something, for I may have dropped a word here 
or a word there; but until yesterday, after you 
gentlemen had seen her, she never knew the 
rights of the matter. She told you all she knew, 
and so did Barker here; for on the night when 
this thing happened there was mighty little time 
for explanations. She knows everything now^ 



and I would have been a wiser man if I had told 
her sooner. But it was a hard question. Dear," 
he took her hand for an instant in his own, "and 
I acted for the best. 

"Well, Grentlemen, the day before these hap- 
penings I was over in Tunbridge WeUs, and I 
got a glimpse of a man in the street. It was 
only a glimpse ; but I have a quick eye for these 
things, and I never doubted who it was. It was 
the worst enemy I had among them all, — one 
who has been after me like a hungry wolf after 
a caribou all these years. I knew there was 
trouble coming, and I came home and made ready 
for it. I guessed I'd fight through it all right 
on my own, my luck was a proverb in the States 
about *76. I never doubted that it would be with 
me still. 

"I was on my guard all that next day, and 
never went out into the park. It's as well, or 
he'd have had the drop on me with that buckshot 
gun of his before ever I could draw on him. 
After the bridge was up— my mind was always 
more restful when that bridge was up in the 
evenings — I put the thing clear out of my head. 
I never dreamed of his getting into the house 



and waiting for me. But when I made my roimd 
in my dressing gown, as was my habit, I had no 
sooner entered the study than I scented danger. 
I guess when a man has had dangers in his life 
— and IVe had more than most in my time — 
there is a kind of sixth sense that waves the red 
flag. I saw the signal clear enough, and yet I 
couldnH tell you why. Next instant I spotted 
a boot under the window curtain, and then I saw 
why plain enough. 

"I'd just the one candle that was in my hand; 
but there was a good light from the hall lamp 
through the open door. I put down the candle 
and jumped for a hammer that I'd left on the 
mantel. At the same moment he sprang at me. 
I saw the glint of a knife, and I lashed at him 
with the hammer. I got him somewhere ; for the 
knife tinkled down on the floor. He dodged 
round the table as quick as an eel, and a mo- 
ment later he'd got his gun from under his coat. 
I heard him cock it; but I had got hold of it 
before he could fire. I had it by the barrel, and 
we wrestled for it aU ends up for a minute or 
more. It was death to the man that lost his grip. 

"He never lost his grip; but he got it butt 



downward for a moment too long. Maybe it 
was I that pulled the trigger. Maybe we just 
jolted it off between us. Anyhow he got both 
barrels in the face, and there I was, staring down 
at all that was left of Ted Baldwin. I'd recog- 
nized him in the township, and again when he 
sprang for me; but his own mother wouldn't 
recognize him as I saw him then. I'm used to 
rough work; but I fairly turned sick at the sight 
of him. 

''I was hanging on the side of the table when 
Barker came hurrying down. I heard my wife 
coming, and I ran to the door and stopped her. 
It was no sight for a woman. I promised I'd 
come to her soon. I said a word or two to Bar- 
ker, — ^he took it all in at a glance, — ^and we waited 
for the rest to come along. But there was no 
sign of them. Then we understood that they 
could hear nothing, and that all that had hap- 
pened was known only to omrselves. 

^^It was at that instant that the idea came to 
me. I was fairly dazzled by the brilliance of it. 
The man's sleeve had slipped up and there was 
the branded mark of the lodge upon his fore- 
arm. See here r 


The man whom we had known as Douglas 
turned up his own coat and cuff to show a hrown 
triangle within a circle exactly like that which 
we had seen upon the dead man. 

^^It was the sight of that which started me on 
it. I seemed to see it all clear at a glance. There 
was his height and hair and figure, ahout^the 
same as my own. No one could swear to his f ace, 
poor devil I I brought down this suit of clothes, 
and in a quarter of an hour Barker and I had 
put my dressing gown on him and he lay as you 
found him. We tied all his things into a bundle, 
and I weighted them with the only weight I could 
find and put them through the window. The 
card he had meant to lay upon my body was 
lying beside his own. 

"My rings were put on his finger; but when 
it came to the wedding ring/' he held out his 
muscular hand, **you can see for yourselves that 
I had struck the limit. I have not moved it since 
the day I was married, and it would have taken 
a file to get it off. I don't know, anyhow, that I 
should have cared to part with it; but if I had 
wanted to I couldn't. So we just had to leave 
that detail to take care of itself. On the other 



hand, I brought a bit of plaster down and put it 
where I am wearing one myself at this instant. 
You slipped up there, Mr, Holmes, clever as you 
are; for if you had chanced to take off that 
plaster you would have found no cut under- 
neath it. 

"Well, that was the situation. If I could lie 
low for awhile and then get away where I could 
be joined by my *widow' we should have a chance 
at last of living in peace for the rest of our lives. 
These devils would give me no rest so long as I 
was above ground ; but if they saw in the papers 
that Baldwin had got his man, there would be an 
end of all my troubles. I hadn't much time to 
make it all clear to Barker and to my wife; but 
they understood enough to be able to help me. I 
knew all about this hiding place, so did Ames; 
but it never entered his head to connect it with 
the matter. I retired into it, and it was up to 
Barker to do the rest. 

"I guess you can fill in for yourselves what he 
did. He opened the window and made the mark 
on the sill to give an idea of how the murderer 
escaped. It was a tall order, that; but as the 
bridge was up there was no other way. Then, 



when everything was fixed, he rang the bell for 
all he was worth. What happened afterward 
you know. And so, Gentlemen, you can do what 
you please; but I've told you the truth and the 
whole truth, so help me God! What I ask you 
now is how do I stand by the English law?" 

There was a silence which was broken by Sher- 
lock Holmes. 

"The English law is in the main a just law. 
You will get no worse than your deserts from 
that, Mr. Douglas. But I would ask you how 
did this man know that you lived here, or how 
to get into your house, or where to hide to get 

"I know nothing of this.*' 

Holmes' face was very white and grave. "The 
story is not over yet, I fear," said he. "You may 
find worse dangers than the English law, or even 
than your enemies from America. I see trouble 
before you, Mr. Douglas. You'll take my ad- 
vice and stiU be on your guard." 

And now, my long-suffering readers, I will 
ask you to come away with me for a time, far 
from the Sussex Manor House of Birlstone, and 
far also from the year of grace in which we 



made our eventful journey which ended with the 
strange story of the man who had been known as 
John Douglas. I wish you to journey back 
some twenty years in time, and westward some 
thousands of miles in space, that I may lay be- 
fore you a singular and terrible narrative, — ^so 
singular and so terrible that you may find it 
hard to believe that even as I tell it, even so did 
it occur. 

Do not think that I intrude one story before 
another is finished. As you read on you will find 
that this is not so. And when I have detailed 
those distant events and you have solved this 
mystery of the past, we shall meet once more in 
those rooms on Baker street, where this, like so 
many other wonderful happenings, will find its 






IT was the fourth of February in the year 
1875, It had been a severe winter, and the 
snow lay deep in the gorges of the Gihnerton 
Mountains. The steam plow had, however, kept 
the railroad open, and the evening train which 
connects the long line of coal-mining and iron- 
working settlements was slowly groaning its way 
up the steep gradients which lead from Stag- 
ville on the plain to Vermissa, the central town- 
ship which lies at the head of Vermissa Valley, 
From this point the track sweeps downward to 
Bartons Crossing, Helmdale, and the purely ag- 
ricultural county of Merton. It was a single 
track railroad; but at every siding— and they 
were „u=,erou^lc„g ItoesTf trueS pHed wift 
coal and iron ore told of the hidden wealth which 
had brought a rude population and a bustling life 



to this most desolate comer of the United States 
of America. 

For desolate it was I Little could the first 
pioneer who had traversed it have ever imagined 
that the fairest prairies and the most lush water 
pastures were valueless compared to this gloomy 
land of black crag and tangled forest. Above 
the dark and often scarcely penetrable woods 
upon their flanks, the high, bare crowns of the 
mountains, white snow, and jagged rock towered 
upon each flank, leaving a long, winding, tortu- 
ous valley in the center. Up this the little train 
was slowly crawling. 

The oil lamps had just been lit in the leading 
passenger car, a long, bare carriage in which 
some twenty or thirty people were seated. The 
greater number of these were workmen return- 
ing from theh- day's toil in the lower part of the 
valley. At least a dozen, by their grimed faces 
and the safety lanterns which they carried, pro- 
claimed themselves miners. These sat smoking 
in a group and conversed in low voices, glancing 
occasionally at two men on the opposite side of 
the car, whose uniforms and badges showed them 
to be policemen. 


Several women of the laboring class and one 
or two travelers who might have been small local 
storekeepers made up the rest of the company, 
with the exception of one young man in a comer 
by himself. It is with this man that we are cbn- 
cemed. Take a good look at him; for he is 
worth it. 

He is a fresh-complexioned, middle-sized 
young man, not far, one would guess, from his 
thirtieth year. He has large, shrewd, humorous 
gray eyes which twinkle inquh-ingly from time 
to time as he looks round through his spectacles 
at the people about him. It is easy to see that he 
is of a sociable and possibly simple disposition, 
anxious to be friendly to all men. Anyone could 
pick him at once as gregarious in his habits and 
communicative in his nature, with a quick wit 
and a ready smile. And yet the man who studied 
him more closely might discern a certain firm- 
ness of jaw and grim tightness about the lips 
which would warn him that there were depths 
beyond, and that this pleasant, brown-haired 
young Irishman might conceivably leave his mark 
for good or evil upon any society to which he 
was introduced. 



Having made one or two tentative remarks 
to the nearest miner, and receiving only short, 
gruff replies, the traveler resigned himself to 
micongenial silence, staring moodily out of the 
window at the fading landscape. 

It was not a cheering prospect. Through the 
growing gloom there pulsed the red glow of the 
furnaces on the sides of the hills. Great heaps 
of slag and dumps of cinders loomed up on each 
side, with the high shafts of the collieries tower- 
ing above them. Huddled groups of mean, 
wooden houses, the windows of which were be- 
ginning to outline themselves in light, were scat- 
tered here and there along the line, and the fre- 
quent halting places were crowded with their 
swarthy inhabitants. 

The iron and coal valleys of the Vermissa dis- 
trict were no resorts for the leism^ed or the cul- 
tured. Everywhere there were stern signs of the 
crudest battle of life, the rude work to be done, 
and the rude, strong workers who did it. 

The young traveler gazed out into this dismal 

country with a face of mingled repulsion and 

interest, which showed that the scene was new 

to him. At intervals he drew from his pocket a 



bulky letter to which he referred, and on the 
margins of which he scribbled some notes. Once 
from the back of his waist he produced some- 
thing which one would hardly have expected to 
find in the possession of so mild-mannered a man. 
It was a navy revolver of the largest size. As 
he turned it slantwise to the light, the glint upon 
the rims of the copper shells within the drum 
showed that it was fully loaded. He quickly 
restored it to his secret pocket, but not before it 
had been observed by a workingman who had 
seated himself upon the adjoining bench. 

"Hullo, MateT' said he. "You seem heeled 
and ready.'' 

The young man smiled with an air of embar- 
rassment. "Yes,'' said he, "we need them some- 
times in the place I come from." 

"And where may that be?" 

*T['m last from Chicago." 

"A stranger in these parts ?" 


"You may find you need it here," said the 

•-"Ah! is that so?" The young man seemed 



"'Have you heard nothing of doings here- 

"Nothing out of the way." 

"Why, I thought the country was full of it, 
Tou'll hear quick enough. What made you come 

"I heard there was always work for a willing 

"Are you a member of the union?" 


"Then you'll get your job, I guess. Have 
you any friends ?" 

"Not yet; but I have the means of making 

"How's that, then?" 

"I am one of the Eminent Order of Freemen. 
There's no town without a lodge, and where there 
is a lodge I'll find my friends." 

The remark had a singular effect upon his 
companion. He glanced round suspiciously at 
the others in the car. The miners were still whis- 
pering among themselves. The two police offi- 
cers were dozing. He came across, seated him- 
self close to the yoimg traveler, and held out his 




"Put it there," he said. 

A hand-grip passed between the two. 

"I see you speak the truth," said the workman* 
"But it's well to make certain." He raised his 
right hand to his right eyebrow. The traveler 
at once raised his left hand to his left eyebrow* 

"Dark nights are unpleasant," said the work** 

"Yes, for strangers to travel," the other an* 

"That's good enough. I'm Brother Scanlan^ 
Lodge 841, Vermissa Valley. Glad to see you 
in these parts." 

"Thank you. I'm Brother John McMurdo, 
Lodge 29, Chicago, Bodymaster J. H. Scott* 
But I am in luck to meet a brother so early." 

"Well, there are plenty of us about. You 
won't find the order more flourishing anywhere 
in the States than right here in Vermissa Val- 
ley. But we could do with some lads like you* 
I can't understand a spry man of the imion find- 
ing no work to do in Chicago." 

"I foimd plenty of work to do," said Me* 

"Then why did you leave?" 



McMurdo nodded toward the policemen and 
smiled. ''I guess those chaps would be glad to 
know," he said. 

Scanlan groaned sympathetically. "In trou- 
ble?" he asked in a whisper. 


"A penitentiary job?" 

"And the rest." 

Not a killing!' 

"It's early days to talk of such things," said 
McMurdo with the air of a man who had been 
surprised into saying more than he intended. 
"IVe my own good reasons for leaving Chicago, 
and let that be enough for you. Who are you 
that you should take it on yourself to ask such 
things?" His gray eyes gleamed with sudden 
and dangerous anger from behind his glasses. 

"All right, Mate, no ojffense meant. The boys 
will think none the worse of you, whatever you 
may have done. Where are you bound for now?'* 


"That's the third halt down the line. Where 
are you staying?" 

McMurdo took out an envelope and held it 
close to the murky oil lamp. "Here is the ad- 


dress,^ — ^Jacob Shafter, Sheridan street. It's a 
boarding house that was recommended by a man 
I knew in Chicago." 

"Well, I don't know it; but Vermissa is out 
of my beat. I live at Hobsons Patch, and that's 
here where we are drawing up. But, say, there's 
one bit of advice I'll give you before we part: 
If you're in trouble in Vermissa, go straight to 
the Union House and see Boss McGinty. He 
is the Bodymaster of Vermissa Lodge, and noth- 
ing can happen in these parts unless Black Jack 
McGinty wants it. So long. Mate I Maybe we'll 
meet in lodge one of these evenings. But mind 
my words: If you are in trouble, go to Boss 

Scanlan descended, and McMurdo was left 
once again to his thoughts. Night had now 
fallen, and the flames of the frequent furnaces 
were roaring and leaping in the darkness. 
Against their lurid background dark figures were 
bending and straining, twisting and turning, 
with the motion of winch or of windlass, to the 
rhythm of an eternal clank and roar. 

"I guess hell must look something like tiiat," 
said a voice. 



McMurdo turned and saw that one of the 
policemen had shifted in his seat and was staring 
out into the fiery waste. 

For that matter/' said the other policeman, 
I allow that hell must be something like that. 
If there are worse devils down yonder than some 
we could name, it's more than I'd expect. I 
guess you are new to this part, yoimg man?" 

"Well, what if I am?" McMurdo answered in 
a surly voice. 

"Just this. Mister, that I should advise you to 
be careful in choosing yoinr friends. I don't think 
I'd begin with Mike Scanlan or his gang if I 
were you." 

"What the hell is it to you who are my 
friends?" roared McMurdo in a voice which 
brought every head in the carriage round to wit- 
ness the altercation. 'l!)id I ask you for your 
advice, or did you think me such a sucker that 
I couldn't move without it? You speak when 
you are spoken to, and by the Lord you'd have 
to wait a long time if it was me 1" He thrust out 
his face and grinned at the patrolmen like a 
snarling dog. 

The two policemen, heavy, good-natured men, 


were taken aback by the extraordinary vehemence 
with which their friendly advances had been re* 

"No ojffense. Stranger," said one. "It was a 
warning for your own good, seeing that you are, 
by your own showing, new to the place." 

"I'm new to the place; but I'm not new to 
you and your kind I" cried McMurdo in cold 
fury. "I guess you're the same in all places, 
shoving your advice in when nobody asks for it." 

"Maybe we'll see more of you before very 
long," said one of the patrolmen with a grin. 
"You're a real hand-picked one, if I am a judge." 

"I was thinking the same," remarked the other. 
"I guess we may meet again." 

"I'm not afraid of you, and don't you think 
itl" cried McMurdo. "My name's Jack Mc- 
Murdo — see? If you want me, you'll find me at 
Jacob Shafter's on Sheridan street, Vermissa; 
sormnothidingfi<)myou,amI? Dayornight 
I dare to look the like of you in the face — don't 
make any mistake about thatl" 

There was a miumur of sympathy and admir- 
ation from the miners at the daimtless demeanor 
of the newcomer, while the two policemen 



shrugged their shoulders and renewed a conver- 
sation between themselves. 

A few minutes later the train ran into the ill- 
lit station, and there was a general clearing ; for 
Vermissa was by far the largest town on the line. 
McMurdo picked up his leather gripsack and 
was about to start off into the darkness, when 
one of the miners accosted him. 

"By Gar, Mate! you know how to speak to 
the cops," he said in a voice of awe. "It was 
grand to hear you. Let me carry your grip and 
show you the road. I'm passing Shafter's on 
the way to my own shack." 

There was a chorus of friendly "Groodnights" 
from the other miners as they passed from the 
platform. Before ever he had set foot in it, 
McMurdo the turbulenthad become a character 
in Vermissa. 

The country had been a place of terror ; but 
the town was in its way even more depressing. 
Down that long valley there was at least a cer- 
tain gloomy grandeur in the huge fires and the 
clouds of drifting smoke, while the strength 
and industry of man found fitting monuments 
in the hills which he had spilled by the side of 


his monstrous excavations. But the town showed 
a dead level of mean ugliness and squalor. The 
broad street was churned up by the traffic into a 
horrible rutted paste of muddy snow. The side- 
walks were narrow and uneven. The numerous 
gas-lamps served only to show more clearly a 
long line of wooden houses, each with its veranda 
facing the street, unkempt and dirty. 

As they approached the center of the town the 
scene was brightened by a row of well-lit stores, 
and even more by a cluster of saloons and gam- 
ing houses, in which the miners spent their hard- 
earned but generous wages. 

"That's the Union House," said the guide, 
pointing to one saloon which rose almost to the 
dignity of being a hotel. "Jack McGinty is the 
boss there." 

"What sort of a man is he?" McMurdo asked. 

"What! have you never heard of the boss?" 

"How could I have heard of him when you 
know that I am a stranger in these parts ?" 

"Well, I thought his name was known clear 
across the country. It's been in the papers often 

"What for?" 



'Well/* the miner lowered his voic^ — ^''over* 
the ajffairs." 

"What affairs r' 

"Good Lord, Mister I you are queer, if I mu^t 
say it without offense. There's only one set of 
affairs that you'll hear of in these parts, and 
that's the affairs of the Scowrers." 

"Why, I seem to have read of the Scowrers 
in Chicago. A gang of murderers, are they 

"Hush, on your life I" cried the miner, stand- 
ing still in alarm, and gazing in amazement at 
his companion. "Man, you won't Kve long in 
these parts if you speak in the open street like 
that. Many a man has had the life beaten out 
of him for less." 

"Well, I know nothing about them. It's only 
what I have read." 

"And I'm not saying that you have not read 
the truth." The man looked nervously round 
him as he spoke, peering into the shadows as if 
he feared to see some lurking danger. "If kill- 
ing is murder, then God knows there is murder 
and to spare. But don't you dare to breathe the 
name of Jack McGinty in connection with it, 


Stranger; for every whisper goes back to him, 
and he is not one that is likely to let it pass. Now, 
that's the house you're after, that one standing 
back from the street. You'll find old Jacob 
Shaf ter that runs it as honest a man as lives in 
this township." 

"I thank you»" said McMurdo, and shaking 
bands with his new acquaintance he plodded, 
gripsack in hand, up the path which led to the 
dwelling house, at the door of which he gave a 
resounding knock. 

It was opened at once by someone very dif- 
ferent from what he had expected. It was a 
woman, young and singularly beautiful. She 
was of the Grcrman type, blond and fair-haired, 
with the piquant contrast of a pair of beautiful 
dark eyes with which she surveyed the stranger 
with surprise and a pleasing embarrassment 
which brought a wave of color over her pale face. 
Framed in the bright light of the open doorway, 
it seemed to McMurdo that he had never seen a 
more beautiful picture; the more attractive for 
its contrast with the sordid and gloomy sur- 
roundings. A lovely violet growing upon one 
of those black slap-heaps of the mines would not 



have seemed more surprising. So entranced was 
he that he stood staring without a word, and it 
was she who broke the silence. 

^'I thought it was Father/' said she with a 
pleasing little touch of a German accent. 'T)id 
you come to see him? He is down town. I ex- 
pect him back every minute." 

McMurdo continued to gaze at her in open 
admiration until her eyes dropped in confusion 
before this masterful visitor. 

"No, Miss/* he said at last, "I'm in no hurry 
to see him. But your house was recommended 
to me for board. I thought it might suit me — 
and now I know it wiU." 

"You are quick to make up your mind," said 
she with a smile. 

"Anyone but a blind man could do as much/^ 
the other answered. 

She laughed at the compliment. "Come right 
in, Sir," she said. "I'm Miss Ettie Shaf ter, Mr. 
Shafter's daughter. My mother's dead, and I 
run the house. You can sit down by the stove 

in the front room until Father comes along 

Ah, here he is I So you can fix things with him 
right away." 


A heavy, elderly man came plodding up the 
path. In a few words McMurdo explained his 
business. A man of the name of Murphy had 
given him the address in Chicago. He in turn 
had had it from someone else. Old Shaf ter was 
quite ready. The stranger made no bones about 
terms, agreed at once to every condition, and was 
apparently fairly flush of money. For seven 
dollars a week paid in advance he was to have 
board and lodging. 

So it was that McMurdo, the self-confessed 
fugitive from justice, took up his abode under 
the roof of the Shaf ters, the first step which was 
to lead to so long and dark a train of events, 
ending in a far distant land. 



McMURDO was a man who made his mark 
qmckly. Wherever he was the folk 
around soon knew it. Within a, week he had be- 
come infinitely the most important person at 
Shafter's. There were ten or a dozen boarders 
there; but they were honest foremen or common- 
place clerks from the stores, of a very different 
caliber from the young Irishman. Of an evening 
when they gathered together his joke was always 
the readiest, his conversation the brightest, and 
his song the best. He was a bom boon compan- 
ion, with a magnetism which drew good humor 
from all around him. 

And yet he showed again and again, as he had 
shown in the railway carriage, a capacity for 
sudden, fierce anger, which compelled the re- 
spect and even the fear of those who met him* 


For the law, too, and all who were connected 
with it, he exhibited a bitter contempt which de- 
lighted some and alarmed others of his fellow 

From the first he made it evident, by his open 
admiration, that the daughter of the house had 
won his heart from the instant that he had set 
eyes upon her beauty and her grace. He was 
no backward suitor. On the second day he told 
her that he loved her, and from then onward 
he repeated the same story with an absolute dis- 
regard of what she might say to discourage him. 

"Someone else?" he would cry. "Well, the 
worse luck for someone else! Let him look out 
for himself I Am I to lose my life's chance and 
all my heart's desire for someone else? You can 
keep on saying no, Ettie: the day will come 
when you will say yes, and I'm young enough to 

He was a dangerous suitor, with his glib Irish 
tongue, and his pretty, coaxing ways. There was 
about him also that glamour of experience and 
of mystery which attracts a woman's interest, 
and finally her love. He could talk of the sweet 
valleys of County Monaghan from which fie 



came, of the lovely, distant island, the low hills 
and green meadows of which seemed the more 
beautiful when imagination viewed them from 
this place of grime and snow. 

Then he was versed in the life of the cities of 
the North, of Detroit, and the lumber camps of 
Michigan, and finally of Chicago, where he had 
worked in a planing miU. And afterward came 
the hint of romance, the feeling that strange 
thing, ^ h.ppe«d to him in L great 4. 
SO strange and so intimate that they might not 
be spoken of. He spoke wistfully of a sudden 
leaving, a breaking of old ties, a flight into a 
strange world, ending in this dreary valley, and 
Ettie Ustened, her dark eyes gleaming with pity 
and with sympathy,— those two quaUties which 
may turn so rapidly and so naturally to love. 

McMurdo had obtained a temporary job as 
bookkeeper; for he was a well educated man. 
This kept him out most of the day, and he had 
not found occasion yet to report himself to the 
head of the lodge of the Eminent Order of Free- 
men. He was reminded of his omission, how- 
ever, by a visit one evening from Mike Scanlan, 


the fellow member whom he had met in the train. 
Scanlan, a small, sharp-faced, nervous, black- 
eyed man, seemed glad to see him once more. 
After a glass or two of whiskey he broached the 
object of his visit. 

"Say, McMurdo,'^ said he, "I remembered your 
address; so I made bold to call. I'm surprised 
that youVe not reported to the Bodymaster. 
Why haven't you seen Boss McGinty yet?'V 

"Well, I had to find a job. I have been busy.*'' 

"You must find time for him if you have none 
for anything else. Good Lord, Man! you're a 
fool not to have been down to the Union House 
and registered your name the first morning after 
you came here! If you run against him — ^well, 
you mustn't, that's alll" 

McMurdo showed mild surprise. "I've been a 
member of lodge for over two years, Scanlan, 
but I never heard that duties were so pressing as 
all that." 

"Maybe not in Chicago." 

"Well, it's the same society here." 

"Is it?" 

Scanlan looked at him long and fixedly. There 
was something sinister in his eyes. 



"Isn^t it?" 

"You'll tell me that in a month's time. I hear 
you had a talk with the patrolmen after I left 
the train/' 

"How did you know that?" 

"Oh, it got about — ^things do get about for 
good and for bad in this district." 

"Well, yes. I told the hoimds what I thought 
of them." 

"By the Lord, you'll be a man after McGinty^s 
heart 1" 

"What, does he hate the police too?" 

Scanlan burst out laughing. "You go and see 
him, my lad," said he as he took his leave. "It's 
not the police but you that he'll hate if you don't I 
Now, take a friend's advice and go at onceF 


It chanced that on the same evening McMurdo 
had another more pressing interview which urged 
him in the same direction. It may have been 
that his attentions to Ettie had been more evi- 
dent than before, or that they had gradually ob- 
truded themselves into the slow mind of his good 
€rerman host ; but, whatever the cause, the board- 
ing-house keeper beckoned the young man into 


his private room and started on the subject with- 
out any circumlocution. 

"It seems to me, Mister," said he, "that you 
are gettin^ set on my Ettie. Ain*t that so, or am 
I wrong?" 

'Yes, that is so," the young man answered. 

'Veil, I vant to tell you right now that it 
ain't no manner of use. There's someone slipped 
in afore you." 

"She told me so." 

"Veil, you can lay that she told you truth. 
But did she tell you who it vas?" 

"No, I asked her; but she wouldn't tell." 

"I dare say not, the leetle baggage 1 Perhaps 
she did not vish to frighten you avay." 

' "Frighten 1" McMurdo was on fire in a mo- 

"Ah, yes, my friend I You need not be 
aidiamed to be frightened of him. It is Teddy 

"And who the devil is he?" 

"He is a boss of Scowrers." 

"Scowrersl I've heard of them before. It's 
Scowrers here and Scowrers there, and always 


— ^— — — * t 


in a whisper ! What are you all afraid of ? Who 
are the Scowrers?" 

The boarding-house keeper instinctively sank 
his voice, as everyone did who talked about that 
terrible society. "The Scowrers/' said he, "are 
the Eminent Order of Freemen 1" 

The young man stared. "Why, I am a mem- 
ber of that order myself." 

"You! I vould never have had you in my 
house if I had known it — ^not if you vere to pay 
me a hundred dollar a veek." 

"What's wrong with the order? It's for char- 
ity and good fellowship. The rules say so." 

"Maybe in some places. Not here I" 


"It's a murder society, that's vat it is." 

McMurdo laughed incredulously. "How can 
you prove that?" he asked. 

"Prove itl Are there not fifty murders to 
prove it? Vat about Milman and Van Shorst, 

and the Nicholson family, and old Mr. Hyam^ 
and little Billy James, and the others? Prove itl 
Is there a man or a voman in this valley vhat does 
not know it?" 

"See here I" said McMurdo earnestly. "I want 




you to take back what youVe said, or else make it 
good. One or the other you must do before I 
quit this room. Put yourself in my place. Here 
am I, a stranger in the town. I belong to a so- 
ciety that I know only as an innocent one. You'll 
find it through the length and breadth of the 
States; but always as an innocent one. Now, 
when I am coimting upon joining it here, you tell 
me that it is the same as a murder society called 
the Scowrers. I guess you owe me either an apol- 
ogy or else an explanation, Mr. Shafter." 

"I can but tell you vhat the whole vorld knows. 
Mister. The bosses of the one are the bosses of 
the other. If you ofi^end the one, it is the other 
vhat vill strike you. We have proved it too 

'That's just gossip — I want proof!" said Mc- 

"If you live here long you vill get your proof. 
But I forget that you are yourself one of them. 
You vill soon be as bad as the rest. But you vill 
find other lodgings, Mister. I cannot have you 
here. Is it not bad enough that one of these peo- 
ple come courting my Ettie, and that I dare not 
turn him down, but that I should have another 




for my boarder ? Yes, indeed, you shall not sleep 
here after tonight T' 

McMurdo found himself mider sentence of 
banishment both from his comfortable quarters 
and from the girl whom he loved. He found her 
alone in the sitting room that same evening, and 
he poured his troubles into her ear. 

"Sure, your father is after giving me notice/' 
he said. "It*s little I would care if it was just my 
room, but indeed, Ettie, though it's only a week 
that IVe known you, you are the very breath of 
life to me, and I can't live without you 1" 

"Oh, hush, Mr. McMurdo, don't speak soT* 
said the girl. "I have told you, have I not, that 
you are too late? There is another, and if I have 
not promised to marry him at once, at least I can 
promise no one else." 

"Suppose I had been first, Ettie, would I have 
Had a chance?" 

The girl sank her face into her hands. "I wisH 
to Heaven that you had been first!" she sobbed. 

McMurdo was down on his knees before her 
in an instant. "For Grod's sake, Ettie, let it stand 
at fhatl" he cried. "Will you ruin y^ur life and 


my own for the sake of this promise? Follow 
your heart, ^cushla ! 'Tis a safer guide than any 
promise before you knew what it was that you 
were saying." 

He had seized Ettie's white hand between his 
own strong brown ones. 

Say that you will be mine, and we will face 
it out together T 

"hay tnax yc 


"Not here?'^ 
"Yes, here/* 

"No, no, Jackl" His arms were round her 
now, "It could not be here. Could yoii take me 

A struggle passed for a moment over McMur- 
do's face; but it ended by setting like granite. 
"No, here," he said. "I'll hold you against the 
world, Ettie, right here where we arel" 

"Why should we not leave together?" 

"No, Ettie, I can't leave here." 

"But why?" 

"I'd never hold my head up again if I felt that 
I had been driven out. Besides, what is there to 
be afraid of? Are we not free folk in a free 
country. If you love me, and I you, who will 
dara to come between?" 



"You don*t know, Jack. YouVe been here 
too short a time. You don't know this Baldwin. 
You don't know McGinty and his Scowrers." 

"No, I don't know them, and I don't fear 
ihem, and I don't believe in them I" said McMur- 
do. "I've lived among rough men, my darling, 
and instead of fearing them it has always ended 
that they have feared me — always, Ettie. It's 
mad on the face of itl If these men, as your 
father says, have done crime after crime in the 
valley, and if everyone knows them by name, how 
comes it that none are brought to justice? You 
answer me that, Ettie !" 

"Because no witness dares to appear against 
them. He would not live a month if he did. Also 
because they have always their own men to swear 
that the accused one was far from the scene of 
the crime. But siu'ely. Jack, you must have read 
all this. I had imderstood that every paper in 
the United States was writing about it." 

"Well, I have read something, it is true; but 
I had thought it was a story. Maybe these men 
have some reason in what they do. Maybe they 
are wronged and have no other way to help them- 


"Oh, Jack, don't let me hear you speak sol 
That is how he speaks — ^the other one I" 

"Baldwin — ^he speaks like that, does he?" 

"And that is why I loathe him so. Oh, Jack, 
how I can tell you the truth? I loathe him with 
all my heart ; but I fear him also. I fear him for 
myself; but above all I fear him for Father, I 
know that some great sorrow would come upon us 
if I dared to say what I really felt. That is why 
I have put him off with half -promises. It was 
in real truth our only hope. But if you would 
fly with me. Jack, we could take Father with us 
and live forever far from the power of these 
wicked men." 

Again there was the struggle upon McMurdo's 
face, and again it set like granite, "No harm 
shall come to you, Ettie — ^nor to your father 
either. As to wicked men, I expect you may find 
that I am as bad as the worst of them before 
we're through. 

'No, no, Jack I I would trust you anywhere. 

McMurdo laughed bitterly. "Good Lord! 
how little you know of me ! Your innocent soul, 
my darling, could not even guess what is passing 
in mine. But, hullo, who's the visitor ?'* 




The door had opened suddenly, and a young 
fellow caihe swaggering in with the air of one 
who is the master. He was a handsome, dashing 
yoimg man of about the same age and build as 
McMurdo himself. Under his broad-brimmed 
black felt hat, which he had not troubled to re- 
move, a handsome face with fierce, domineering 
eyes and a curved hawk-bill of a nose looked sav- 
agely at the pair who sat by the stove. 

Ettie had jumped to her feet full of confusion 
and alarm. "I'm glad to see you, Mr. Baldwin,'* 
said she. ''You're earlier than I had thought. 
Come and sit down." 

Baldwin stood with his hands on his hips look* 
ing at McMurdo. "Who is this?" he asked 

"It's a friend of mine, Mr. Baldwin, a new 
boarder here. Mr. McMurdo, may I introduce 
you to Mr. Baldwin?" 

The young men nodded in surly fashion to each 

"Maybe Miss Ettie has told you how it is with 
us?" said Baldwin. 

"I didn't understand that there was any rela- 
tion between you." 


"Didn't you? Well, you can understand it 
now. You can take it from me that this young 
lady is mine, and you'U find it a very fine evening 
for a walk/' 

"Thank you, I am in no humor for a walk." 

"Aren't you?" The man's savage eyes were 
blazing with anger. "Maybe you are in a humor 
for a fight, Mr. Boarder I" 

"That I am 1" cried McMurdo, springing to his 
feet. "You never said a more welcome word." 

"For God's sake, Jackl Oh, for God's sakeP' 
cried poor, distracted Ettie. "Oh, Jack, Jack, 
he will hurt youl" 

"Oh, it's Jack, is it?" said Baldwin with an 
oath. "You've come to that already, have you?" 

"Oh, Ted, be reasonable — ^be kind I For my 
sake, Ted, if ever you loved me, be big-hearted 
and forgiving I" 

"I think, Ettie, that if you were to leave us 
alone we could get this thing settled," said Mc- 
Murdo quietly. "Or maybe, Mr. Baldwin, you 
will take a turn down the street with me. It's a 
fine evening, and there's some open groxmd be- 
yond the next block." 

"I'll get even with you without needing to dirty 



my hands," said his enemy, "You'll wish you 
had never set foot in this house before I am 
through with you 1" 

"No time like the present," cried McMurdo. 

"I'll choose my own time. Mister. You can 
leave the time to me. See here!" he suddenly 
rolled up his sleeve and showed upon his forearm 
a peculiar sign which appeared to have been 
branded there. It was a circle with a triangle 
within it. *T)'you know what that means?" 

"I neither know nor care 1" 

**Well, you will know, I'll promise you that. 
You won't be much older, either. Perhaps Miss 
Ettie can tell you something about it. As to you, 
Ettie, you'll come back to me on your knees, — 
d'ye hear. Girl, on your knees? — ^and then I'll 
tell you what yoiu* punishment may be. You've 
sowed — and by the Lord, I'll see that you reap I" 
He glanced at them both in fiuy. Then he 
turned upon his heel, and an instant later the 
outer door had banged behind him. 

For a few moments McMiu'do and the girl 
stood in silence. Then she threw her arms around 

"Oh, Jack, how brave you were I But it is no 


use, you must fly I Tonight — ^Jack — ^tonight I 
It*s your only hope. He will have your life. I 
read it in his horrible eyes. What chance have 
you against a dozen of them, with Boss McGinty 
and all the power of the lodge behind them?" 

McMurdo disengaged her hands, kissed her, 
and gently pushed her back into a chair. "There, 
acushla, there! Don't be disturbed or fear for 
me. I'm a Freeman myself. I'm after telling 
your father about it. Maybe I am no better than 
the others ; so don't make a saint of me. Perhaps 
you hate me too, now that I've told you as much?" 

"Hate you. Jack? While life lasts I could 
never do that! I've heard that there is no harm 
in being a Freeman anywhere but here; so why 
should I think the worse of you for that? But 
if you are a Freeman, Jack, why should you not 
go down and make a friend of Boss McGinty? 
Oh, hurry. Jack, hurry ! Get your word in first, 
or the hounds will be on your trail." 

"I was thinking the same thing," said McMur- 
do. "I'll go right now and fix it. You can tell 
your father that I'll sleep here tonight and find 
some other quarters in the morning." 

The bar of McGinty's saloon was crowded 



as usual ; for it was the favorite loafing place of 
all the rougher elements of the town. The man 
was popular; for he had a rough, jovial disposi- 
tion which formed a mask, covering a great deal 
which lay behind it. But apart from this popu- 
larity, the fear in which he was held throughout 
the township, and indeed down the whole thirty 
miles of the valley and past the mountains on 
each side of it, was enough in itself to fill his 
bar; for none could afford to neglect his good 

Besides those secret powers which it was uni- 
versally believed that he exercised in so pitiless 

a fashion, he was a high public official, a munici- 
pal councilor, and a commissioner of roads, 
elected to the office through the votes of the ruf- 
fians who in turn expected to receive favors at 
his hands. Assessments and taxes were enor- 
mous; the public works were notoriously neg- 
lected, the accounts were slurred over by bribed 
auditors, and the decent citizen was terrorized 
into paying pubUc blackmail, and holding his 
tongue lest some worse thing befall him. 

Thus it was that, year by year. Boss McGinty's 
diamond pins became more obtrusive^ his gold 


chains more weighty across a more gorgeous vest, 
and his saloon stretched farther and farther, untfl 
it threatened to absorb one whole side of the Mar- 
ket Square. 

McMurdo pushed open the swinging door of 
the saloon and made his way amid the crowd of 
men within, throngh ™ .tm«phere blurred with 
tobacco smoke and heavy with the smell of spirits. 
The place was brilliantly lighted, and the huge, 
heavfly gUt mirrors upon every wall reflected and 
multiplied the garish illumination. There were 
several bartenders in their shirt sleeves, hard at 
work mixing drinks for the loimgers who fringed 
the broad, brass-trimmed counter. 

At the far end, with his body resting upon the 
bar and a cigar stuck at an acute angle from the 
comer of his mouth, stood a tall, strong, heavily 
built man who could be none other than the fam- 
ous McGinty himself. He was a black-maned 
giant, bearded to the cheekbones, and with a shock 
of raven hair which fell to his collar. His com- 
plexion was as swarthy as that of an Italian, and 
his eyes were of a strange dead black, which, com- 
bined with a slight squint, gave them a particu- 
larly sinister appearance. 



All else in the man — hia noble proportions, 
fine features, and his frank bearing — ^fitted in 
with that jovial, man-to-man manner which he af- 
fected. Here, one would say, is a bluff, honest 
fellow, whose heart would be sound however rude 
his outspoken words might seem. It was only 
when those dead, dark eyes, deep and remorse- 
less, were turned upon a man that he shrank with- 
in himself, feeling that he was face to face with 
an infinite possibility of latent evil, with a 
strength and courage and cunning behind it which 
made it a thousand times more deadly. 

Having had a good look at his man, McMurdo 
elbowed his way forward with his usual careless 
audacity, and pushed himself through the little 
group of courtiers who were fawning upon the 
powerful Boss, laughing uproariously at the 
smallest of his jokes. The young stranger's bold 
gray eyes looked back fearlessly through their 
glasses at the deadly black ones which turned 
sharply upon him. 

. "Well, young man. I can't call your face to 

"I'm new here Mr. McGinty/' 


"You are not so new that you can't give a gen- 
tleman his proper title." 

"He's Councilor McGinty, young man/' said 
a voice from the group. / 

*Tm sorry. Councilor. I'm strange to the 
ways of the place. But I was advised to see 

"Well, you see me. This is all there is. What 
d*you think of me ?" 

"Well, it's early days. If your heart is as big 
as your body, and your soul as fine as your face, 
then I'd ask for nothing better," said McMurdo. 

"By Gar 1 you've got an Irish tongue in your 
head anyhow," cried the saloonkeeper, not quite 
certain whether to humor this audacious visitor 
or to stand upon his dignity. "So you are good 
enough to pass my appearance?" 

"Sure," said McMurdo. 

**And you were told to see me?" 

"I was." 

"And who told you?" 

"Brother Scanlan of Lodge 841, Vermissa. I 
drink your health. Councilor, and to our better 
acquaintance.'' He raised a glass with which he 



had been served to his lips and elevated his little 
finger as he drank it. 

McGinty, who had been watching him nar- 
rowly, raised his thick black eyebrows. "Oh, it's 
like that, is it?" said he. ''I'll have to look a bit 
closer into this. Mister *^ 


"A bit closer, Mr. McMurdo ; for we don't take 
folk on trust in these parts, nor believe all we're 
told neither. Come in here for a moment, behind 
the bar." 

There was a small room there, lined with bar- 
rels. McGinty carefully closed the door, and 
then seated himself on one of them, biting 
thoughtfully on his cigar and surveying his com- 
panion with those disquieting eyes. For a couple 
of minutes he sat in complete silence, McMurdo 
bore the inspection cheerfully, one hand in his 
coat pocket, the other twisting his brown mus- 
tache. Suddenly McGinty stooped and produced 
a wicked-looking revolver. 

"See here, my joker," said he, "if I thought 
you were playing any game on us, it would be 
short work for you." 

"This is a strange welcome," McMurdo an- 


swered with some dignity, "for the Bodymaster 
of a lodge of Freemen to give to a stranger 

"Aye, but it's just that same that you have 
to prove," said McGinty, "and God help you if 
you faill Where were you made?' 

'Lodge 29, Chicago.' 

ou maae i** 

"Lodge 2'^ ^^- " 

"June 24, 1872." 

"What Bodymaster?" 

"James H. Scott." 

"Who is your district ruler?" 

"Bartholomew Wilson." 

"Huml You seem glib enough in your tests. 
What are you doing here?" 

"Working, the same as you — ^but a poorer job." 

"You have your back answer quick enough," 

"Yes, I was always quick of speech." 

"Are you quick of action?" 

"I have had that name among those that knew 
me best." 

"Well, we may try you sooner than you think. 
Have you heard anything of the lodge in these 

"I've heard that it takes a man to be a brother." 



True for you, Mr. McMurdo. Why did you 

leave Chicago?" 

"I^m damned if I tell you thatl" 

McGinty opened his eyes. He was not used 

to being answered in such fashion, and it amused 

him. "Why won't you tell me?'^ 

"Because no brother may tell another a lie." 
"Then the truth is too bad to tell?'* 
"You can put it that way if you like." 
"See here. Mister, you can't expect me, as 

Bodymaster, to pass into the lodge a man for 

whose past he can't answer." 

McMurdo looked puzzled* Then he took a 

worn newspaper cutting from an inner pocket. 
You wouldn't squeal on a fellow?" said he. 
I'll wipe my hand across your face if you 

say such words to mel" cried McGinty hotly. 
"You are right. Councilor," said McMurdo 

meekly. "I should apologize. I spoke without 

thought. Well, I know that I am safe in your 

hands. Look at that clipping." 

McGinty glanced his eyes over the account of 

the shooting of one Jonas Pinto, in the Lake 

Saloon, Market street, Chicago, in the New Year 

week of 1874. 


"Your work?" he asked, as he handed back the 

McMurdo nodded. 

"Why did you shoot hhn?" 

"I was helping Uncle Sam to make dollars. 
Maybe mine were not as good gold as his, but 
they looked as well and were cheaper to 
make. This man Pinto helped me to shove 
the queer " 

"To do whatr^ 

"Well, it means to pass the dollars out into 
circulation. Then he said he would split. Maybe 
he did split. I didn't wait to see. I just killed 
him and lighted oiit for the coal country." 

"Why the coal country?'* 

" 'Cause I'd read in the papers that they 
weren't too particular in those parts." 

McGinty laughed. "You were first a coiner 
and then a murderer, and you came to these parts 
because you thought you'd be welcome." 

"That's about the size of it," McMurdo an- 

"Well, I guess you'll go far. Say, can you 
make those dollars yet?" 

McMurdo took half a dozen from his pocket. 



"'Those never passed the Philadelphia mint/' said 

"You don't sayl" McGinty held them to the 
light in his enormous hand, which was hairy as a 
gorilla's. "I can see no difference. Garl you'll 
be a mighty useful brother, I'm thinking! We 
can do with a bad man or two among us, Friend 
McMurdo : for there are times when we have to 
take our own part. We'd soon be against the 
wall if we didn't shove back at those that were 
pushing us." 

"Well, I guess I'll do my share of shoving 
with the rest of the boys." 

"You seem to have a good nerve. You didn't 
squirm when I shoved this gun at you." 

"It was not me that was in danger," 

"Who then?" 

"It was you, Coxmcilor." McMurdo drew a 
cocked pistol from the side pocket of his pea- 
jacket. "I was covering you all the time. I 
guess my shot would have been as quick as 

"By Garl" McGinty flushed an angry red 
and then burst into a roar of laughter. "Say, 
we've had no such holy terror come to hand this 


many a year. I reckon the lodge will learn to be 
proud of you. . . . Well, what the hell do you 
want? And can't I speak alone with a gentle- 
man for five minutes but you must butt in on 

The bartender stood abashed. "I'm sorry, 
Councilor, but it's Ted Baldwin. He says he 
must see you this very minute." 

The message was unnecessary; for the set, 
cruel face of the man himself was looking over 
the servant's shoulder. He pushed the bartender 
out and closed the door on him. 

"So," said he with a furious glance at Mc- 
Murdo, "you got here first, did you? I've a 
word to say to you. Councilor, about this man." 

"Then say it here and now before my face," 
cried McMurdo. 

*T11 say it at my own time, in my own way." 

"Tutl Tutl" said McGinty, getting oiF his 
barrel. "This will never do. We have a new 
brother here, Baldwin, and it's not for us to 
greet him in such fashion. Hold out your hand, 
Man, and make it up !" 

^Neverl" cried Baldwin in a fury. 
IVe offered to fight him if he thinks I have 



wronged him/' said McMurdo. "I'll fight him 
with fists, or, if that won't satisfy him, I'll fight 
him any other way he chooses. Now, I'll leave 
it to you, Councilor, to judge between us as a 
Bodymaster should." 

"What is it, then?" 

"A young lady. She's free to choose for her- 

Is she?" cried Baldwin. 

'As between two brothers of the lodge I should 
say that she was," said the Boss. 

'Oh, that's yoiu* ruling, is it?" 

'Yes, it is, Ted Baldwin," said McGinty, with 
a wicked stare. "Is it you that would dispute 

'You would throw over one that has stood by 
you this five years in favor of a man that you 
never saw before in your life? You're not Body- 
master for life. Jack McGinty, and by Godl 
when next it comes to a vote " 



The Councilor sprang at him like a tiger. His 
hand closed round the other's neck, and he 
hurled him back across one of the barrels. In 
his mad fury he would have squeezed the life 
out of him if McMurdo had not interfered. 



"Easy, Councilor 1 For Heaven*s sake, go 
easyl" he cried, as he dragged him back. 

McGinty released his hold, and Baldwin, 
cowed and shaken, gasping for breath, and shiv- 
ering in every limb, as one who has looked over 
the very edge of death, sat up on the barrel over 
which he had been hurled. 

'You've been asking for it this many a day, 
Ted Baldwin — ^now youVe got itl" cried Mc- 
Ginty, his huge chest rising and falling. "Maybe 
you think if I was voted down from Bodymaster 
you would find yourself in my shoes. It's for 
the lodge to say that. But so long as I am the 
chief I'll have no man lift his voice against me, 
or my ruKngs." 

"I have nothing against you," mumbled Bald- 
win, feeling his throat. 

"Well, then," cried the other, relapsing in a 
moment into a blufi^ joviality, "we are all good 
friends again and there's an end of the matter." 

He took a bottle of champagne down from 
the shelf and twisted out the cork. 

"See now," he continued, as he filled three high 
glasses. "Let us drink the quarreling toast of 
the lodge. After that, as you know, there can 



be no bad blood between us. Now, then, the left 
hand on the apple of my throat. I say to you, 
Ted Baldwin, what is the offense. Sir?" 

"The clouds are heavy," answered Baldwin. 

"But they will forever brighten." 

"And this I swearl" 

The men drank their glasses, and the same 
ceremony was performed between Baldwin and 

"There 1" cried McGinty, rubbing his hands. 
"That's the end of the black blood. You come 
under lodge discipline if it goes further, and 
that's a heavy hand in these parts, as Brother 
Baldwin knows — ^and as you will damn soon find 
out. Brother McMurdo, if you ask for trouble 1" 

"Faith, I'd be slow to do that," said McMurdo. 
He held out his hand to Baldwin. "I'm quick to 
quarrel and quick to forgive. It's my hot Irish 
blood, they tell me. But it's over for me, and I 
bear no grudge." 

Baldwin had to take the proffered hand; for 
the baleful eye of the terrible Boss was upon 
him. But his sullen face showed how little the 
words of the other had moved him. 

McGinty clapped them both on the shoulders. 


"Tutl These girls 1 These girls I" he cried. "To 
think that the same petticoats should come be* 
tween two of my boysl It's the devil's own 
luckl Well, it's the colleen inside of them that 
must settle the question; for it's outside the juris- 
diction of a Bodymaster — and the Lord be 
praised for that 1 We have enough on us, with- 
out the women as well. You'll have to be affili- 
ated to Lodge 841, Brother McMurdo. We have 
our own ways and methods, different from Chi- 
cago. Saturday night is our meeting, and if you 
come then, we'll make you free forever of the 
Vermissa Valley." 



ON the day following the evening which had 
contained so many exciting events, Mc- 
Murdo moved his lodgings from old Jacob Shaf- 
ter*s and took up his quarters at the widow Mac* 
Namara's on the extreme outskirts of the town. 
Scanlan, his original acquaintance aboard the 
train, had occasion shortly afterward to move into 
Vermissa, and the two lodged together. There 
was no other boarder, and the hostess was an easy- 
going old Irishwoman who left them to them- 
selves; so that they had a freedom for speech 
and action welcome to men who had secrets in 

Shaf ter had relented to the extent of letting 
McMurdo come to his meals there when he liked; 
so that his intercourse with Ettie was by no means 
broken. On the contrary, it drew closer and 
more intimate as the weeks went by. 


In his bedroom at his new abode McMurdo 
felt it safe to take out the coining molds, and 
mider many a pledge of secrecy a number of 
brothers from the lodge were allowed to come 
in and see them, each carrying away in his pocket 
some examples of the false money, so cunningly 
struck that there was never the slightest diffi- 
culty or danger in passing it. Why, with such 
a wonderful art at his command, McMurdo 
should condescend to work at all was a perpetual 
mystery to his companions; though he made it 
clear to anyone who asked him that if he lived 
without any visible means it would very quickly 
bring the police upon his track. 

One policeman was indeed after him already; 
but the incident, as luck would have it, did the 
adventurer a great deal more good than harm- 
After the first introduction there were few even- 
ings when he did not find his way to McGinty's 
saloon, there to make closer acquaintance with 
"the boys," which was the jovial title by which 
the dangerous gang who infested the place were 
known to one another. His dashing manner and 
fearlessness of speech made him a favorite with 
them all; while the rapid and scientific way in 



which he polished o£P his antagonist in an ''all in'' 
barroom scrap earned the respect of that rough 
community. Another incident, however, raised 
him even higher in their estimation. 

Just at the crowded hour one night, the door 
opened and a man entered with the quiet blue 
uniform and peaked cap of the mine police. This 
was a special body raised by the railways and col- 
liery owners to supplement the efforts of the 
ordinary civil police, who were perfectly helpless 
in the face of the organized ruffianism which ter- 
rorized the district. There was a hush as he en- 
tered, and many a curious glance was cast at him ; 
but the relations between policemen and criminals 
are peculiar in some parts of the States, and Mc- 
Ginty himself, standing behind his coimter, 
showed no surprise when the policeman enrolled 
himself among his customers. 

"A straight whisky; for the night is bitter,** 
said the police officer. "I don't think we have 
met before, Coimcilor?" 

"You'll be the new Captain?" said McGinty. 

"That's so. We're looking to you, Coimcilor, 
and to the other leading citizens, to help us in 


upholding law and order in this township. Cap- 
tain Marvin is my name." 

"We'd do better without you, Captain Mar- 
vin," said McGinty coldly ; "for we have our own 
police of the township, and no need for any im- 
ported goods. What are you but the paid tool 
of the capitalists, hired by them to club or shoot 
your poorer fellow citizen?" 

"Well, well, we won't argue about that," said 
the police oflSicer good-humoredly. "I expect we 
all do our duty same as we see it ; but we can't all 
see it the same." He had drunk off his glass and 
had turned to go, when his eyes fell upon the 
face of Jack McMurdo, who was scowling at Bus 
elbow. "Hullo 1 Hullo I" he cried, looking him 
up and down. "Here's an old acquaintance 1" 

McMurdo shrank away from him. "I was 
never a friend to you nor any other cursed cop- 
per in my life," said he. 

"An acquaintance isn't always a friend," said 
the police Captain, grinning. "You're Jack Mc- 
Murdo of Chicago, right enough, and don't you 
deny it I" 

McMurdo shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not 



denying it," said he. "D'ye think I'm ashamed 
of my own name?" 

"YouVe got good cause to be, anyhow." 

"What the devil dyou mean by that?" he 
roared with his fists clenched. 

"No, no. Jack, bluster won't do with me. I 
was an ofiicer in Chicago before ever I came to 
this darned coal bunker, and I know a Chicago 
crook when I see one." 

McMurdo's face fell. "Don't tell me that 
you're Marvin of the Chicago Centrall" he cried. 

"Just the same old Teddy Marvin, at your 
service. We haven't forgotten the shooting of 
Jonas Pinto up there." 

"I never shot him." 

"Did you not? That's good impartial evi- 
dence, ain't it? Well, his death came in imcom- 
mon handy for you, or they would have had you 
for shoving the queer. Well, we can let that be 
bygones.; for, between you and me, — ^and per- 
haps I'm going further than my duty in saying 
it, — ^they could get no clear case against you, and 
Chicago's open to you tomorrow." 

"I'm very well where I am." 




"Well, IVe given you the pointer, and you're 
a sulky dog not to thank me for it/' 

"Well, I suppose you mean well, and I do 
tkank you," said McMurdo in no very gracious 


It's mum with me so long as I see you living 
on the straight," said the Captain. "But, by the 
Lord I if you get off after this, it's another story! 
So goodnight to you— and goodnight, Coun- 

He left the barroom; but not before he had 
created a local hero. McMurdo's deeds in far 
Chicago had been whispered before. He had 
put off all questions with a smile, as one who did 
not wish to have greatness thrust upon him. But 
now the thing was officially confirmed. The bar 
loafers crowded roimd him and shook him heart- 
ily by the hand. He was free of the community 
from that time on. He could drink hard and 
show Kttle trace of it; but that evening, had his 
mate Scanlan not been at hand to lead him home, 
the feted hero would surely have spent his night 
under the bar. 

On a Saturday night McMurdo was intro- 
duced to the lodge. He had thought to pass in 



without ceremony as being an initiate of Chi- 
cago; but there were particular rites in Vermissa 
of which they were proud, and these had to be 
undergone by every postulant. The assembly 
met in a large room reserved for such purposes; 
at the Union House. Some sixty members as- 
sembled at Vermissa ; but that by no means repre- 
sented the f uU strength of the organization, for 
there were several other lodges in the valley, and 
others across the moimtains on each side, who ex- 
changed members when any serious business was 
.fooU th.t . crime might be done by men who 
were strangers to the locality. Altogether there 
were not less than five hundred scattered over 
the coal di$;trict. 

In the bare assembly room the men were gath^ 
ered round a long table. At the side was a sec- 
ond one laden with bottles and glasses, on which 
some members of the company were already 
turning their eyes. McGinty sat at the head 
with a flat black velvet cap upon his shock of 
tangled black hair, and a colored purple stole 
round his neck; so that he seemed to be a priest 
presiding over some diabolical ritual. To right 
and left of him were the higher lodge officials^ 


the cruel, handsome face of Ted Baldwin among 
them. Each of these wore some scarf or medal- 
lion as emhlem of his office. 

They were, for the most part, men of mature 
age; but the rest of the company consisted of 
young fellows from eighteen to twenty-five, the 
ready and capable agents who carried out the 
commands of their seniors. Among the older 
men were many whose features showed the tiger- 
ish, lawless souls within; but looking at the rank 
and file it was difficult to beliere that these eager 
and open-faced young f eUows were in very truth 
a dangerous gang of murderers, whose minds had 
suffered such complete moral perversion that they 
took a horrible pride in their proficiency at the 
business, and looked with deepest respect at the 
man who had the reputation of making what they 
called "a clean job." 

To their contorted natures it had become a 
spirited and chivalrous thing to volunteer for 
service against some man who had never injured 
them, and whom in many cases they had never 
seen in their lives. The crime committed, they 
quarreled as to who had actually struck the fatal 
blow, and amused one another and the company 



by describing the cries and contortions of the 
murdered man. 

At first they had shown some secrecy in their 
arrangements; but at the time which this nar- 
rative describes their proceedings were extraor- 
dinarily open, for the repeated failures of the 
law had proved to them that, on the one hand, no 
one would dare to witness against them, and on 
the other they had an imlimited number of stanch 
witnesses upon whom they could call, and a well 
filled treasure chest from which they could draw 
the funds to engage the best legal talent in the 
State. In ten long years of outrage there had 
been no single conviction, and the only danger 
that ever threatened the Scowrers lay in the vic- 
tim himself, — ^who, however outnimibered and 
taken by surprise, might and occasionally did 
leave his mark upon his assailants. 

McMurdo had been warned that some ordeal 
lay before him; but no one would tell him in 
what it consisted. He was led now into an outer 
room by two solemn brothers. Through the 
plank partition he could hear the murmur of 
many voices from the assembly within. Once 
or twice he caught the sound of his own name, 


and he knew that they were discussing his can- 
didacy. Then there entered an inner guard with 
a green and gold sash across his chest. 

"The Bodymaster orders that he shall be 
trussed, blinded, and entered," said he. 

The three of them then removed his coat, 
turned up the sleeve of his right arm, and finally 
passed a rope round above the elbows and made 
it fast. They next placed a thick black cap right 
oyer his head and the upper part of his face, so 
that he could see nothing. He was then led into 
the assembly hall. 

It was pitch dark and very oppressive under 
his hood. He heard the rustle and murmur of 
the people round him, and then the voice of Mc- 
Ginty sounded dull and distant through the cov- 
ering of his ears. 

"John McMurdo," said tihe voice, "are you al- 
ready a member of the Ancient Order of Free- 

He bowed in assent. 

"Is your lodge No. 29, Chicago?" 

He bowed again. 

*T3ark nights are unpleasant," said the voice. 
'Yes, for strangers to travel," he answered. 




"The clouds are heavy." 

•Te^ . »tonn i, .p^roachmg." 

"Are the brethren satisfied?" asked the Body- 

There was a general murmur of assent. 

"We know, Brother, by your sign and by your 
countersign that you are indeed one of us," said 
McGinty, We would have you know, however, 
that in this coimty and in other counties of these 
parts we have certain rites, and also certain duties 
of oiu* own which call for good men. Are you 
ready to be tested?" 
1 am. 

"Are you of stout heart?" 
1 am. 

"Take a stride forward to prove it." 

As the words were said he felt two hard points 
in front of his eyes, pressing upon them so that 
it appeared as if he could not move forward with- 
out a danger of losing them. None the less, he 
nerved himself to step resolutely out, and as he 
did so the pressure melted away. There was a 

"He is of stout heart," said the voice. "Can 
you bear pain?" 


"As well as another," he answered 

"Test him r 

It was all he could do to keep himself from 
screaming out, for an agonizing pain shot 
through his forearm. He nearly fainted at the 
sudden shock of it ; but he bit his lip and clenched 
his hands to hide his agony. 

"I can take more than that," said he. 

This time there was loud applause. A finer 
first appearance had never been made in the 
lodge. Hands clapped him on the back, and the 
hood was plucked from his head. He stood blink- 
ing and smiling amid the congratulations of the 

"One last word. Brother McMurdo,'* said Mc- 
Ginty. "You have already sworn the oath of 
secrecy and fidelity, and you are aware that the 
pimishment for any breach of it is instant and 
inevitable death?" 

1 am," said McMurdo. 
'And you accept the rule of the Bodjnmaster 
for the time being under all circumstances?" 

"I do." 

"Then in the name of Lodge 841, Vermissa, I 
welcome you to its privileges and debates. You 





will put the liquor on the table, Brother Scanlan, 
and we will drink to our worthy brother." 

McMurdo's coat had been brought to him ; but 
before putting it on he examined his right arm^ 
which still smarted heavily. There on the flesh 
i0{ the forearm was a circle with a triangle within 
ity deep and red, as the branding iron had left it. 
One or two of his neighbors pulled up their 
sleeves and showed their own lodge marks. 

"We've all had it," said one; "but not all as 
brave as you over it." 

"Tut 1 It was nothing," said he ; but it burned 
and ached all the same. 

When the drinks which followed the ceremony 
of initiation had all been disposed of, the busi- 
ness of the lodge proceeded. McMurdo, accus- 
tomed only to the prosaic performances of Chi- 
cago, listened with open ears and more surprise 
than he ventured to show to what followed. 

"The first business on the agenda paper," said 
McGinty, "is to read the following letter from 
Division Master Windle of Merton County 
Lodge 249. He says: 

" *Dear Sie. — There is a job to be done on 
Andrew Rae of Rae & Sturmash, coal owners 


* • 


near this place. You will remember that your 
lodge owes us a return, having had the sefnce 
of two brethren in the matter of the patrolman 
last fall. You will send two good men, they 
will be taken charge of by Treasurer Higgins of 
this lodge, whose address you know. He will 
show them when to act and where. Yours in 

J. w. wiNDLE, D. M. A. o. f: 

li < 

"Windle has never refused us when we have 
had occasion to ask for the loan of a man or two, 
and it is not for us to refuse him." McGinty 
paused and looked round the room with his dull, 
malevolent eyes. "Who will volunteer for the 

Several young fellows held up their hands. 
The Bodymaster looked at them with an approv- 
ing smile. 

"You'll do. Tiger Cormac. If you handle it 
as well as you did the last, you won't be wrong. 
And you, Wilson." 

"I've no pistol," said the volimteer, a mere boy 
in his teens. 

"It's your first, is it not? Well, you have to 
be blooded some time. It will be a great start 
for you. As to the pistol, you'll find it waiting 



for you, or I'm mistaken. If you report your- 
selves on Monday, it will be time enough. You'll 
get a great welcome when you return.*' 

"Any reward this time?" asked Cormac, a 
thick-set, dark-faced, brutal-looking young man^ 
whose ferocity had earned him the nickname of 

"Never mind the reward. You just do it for 
the honor of the thing. Maybe when it is done 
there wUl be a few odd doUars at the bottom of 
the box." 

"What has the man done?" asked young Wil- 


Sure, it's not for the likes of you to ask what 
the man has done. He has been judged over 
there. That's no business of ours. All we have 
to do is to carry it out for them, same as they 
would for us. Speaking of that, two brothers 
from the Merton lodge are coming over to us 
next week to do some business in this quarter." 

"Who are they?" asked someone. 

"Faith, it is wiser not to ask. If you know 
nothing, you can testify nothing, and no trouble 
can come of it. But they are men who will make 
a clean job when they are about it." 


"And time, tool" cried Ted Baldwin. "Folk 
are gettin' out of hand in these parts. It was 
only last week that three of our men were turned 
off by Foreman Blaker. It's been owing him a 
long time, and he'll get it full and proper." 

"Get what?" McMurdo whispered to his neigh- 

"The business end of a buckshot cartridge 1'* 
cried the man with a loud laugh. "What think 
you of our ways, Brother?" 

McMurdo's criminal soul seemed to have al- 
ready absorbed the spirit of the vile association 
of which he was now a member. "I like it well," 
said he. " 'Tis a proper place for a lad of met- 

Several of those who sat around heard his 
words and applauded them. 

"What's that?" cried the black-maned Body- 
master from the end of the table. 

" 'Tis our new brother. Sir, who finds our ways 
to his taste." 

McMurdo rose to his feet for an instant. "I 
would say, Eminent Bodymaster, that if a man 
should be wanted I should take it as an honor to 
be chosen to help the lodge." 



There was great applause at this. It was felt 
that a new sun was pushing its rim above the 
horizon. To some of the elders it seemed that 
the progress was a little too rapid. 

"I would move," said the secretary, Harra- 
way, a vulture-faced old graybeard who sat near 
the chairman, "'that Brother McMurdo should 
wait until it is the good pleasure of the lodge to 
employ him." 

"Sure, that was what I meant; I*m in your 
hands," said McMurdo. 

"Your time will come, Brother," said the chair- 
man. "We have marked you down as a willing 
man, and we believe that you will do good work 
in these parts. There is a small matter tonight 
in which you may take a hand if it so please 

"I will wait for something that is worth while." 

"You can come tonight, anyhow, and it will 
help you to know what we stand for in this com- 
munity. I will make the announcement lat^r. 
Meanwhile," he glanced at his agenda paper, "I 
have one or two more points to bring before the 
meeting. First of all, I will ask the treasurer as 
to our bank balance. There is the pension to Jim 



Camaway's widow. He was struck down doing 
the work of the lodge, and it is for us to see 
that she is not the loser." 

"Jim was shot last month when they tried to 
kill Chester Wilcox of Marley Creek," McMur- 
do*s neighbor informed him. 

"The funds are good at the moment," said the 
treasurer, with the bankbook in front of him. 
"The firms have been generous of late. Max 
Linder & Co. paid five hundred to be left alone. 
Walker Brothers sent in a hundred ; but I took it 
on myself to return it and ask for five. If I do 
not hear by Wednesday, their winding gear may 
get out of order. We had to bto-n their breaker 
last year before they became reasonable. Then 
the West Section Coaling Company has paid its 
annual contribution. We have enough in hand 
to meet any obligations." 

"What about Archie Swindon?" asked a 

"He has sold out and left the district. The 
old devil left a note for us to say that he had 
rather be a free crossing sweeper in New York 
than a large mine owner under the power of a 
ring of blackmailers. By Gar ! it was as well that 



he made a break for it before the note reached 
us! I guess he won't show his face m this val- 
ley again." 

An elderly, clean-shaved man with a kindly 
face and a good brow rose from the end of the 
table which faced the chairman. "Mr. Treas- 
urer/' he asked, "may I ask who has bought the 
property of this man that we have driven out of 
the district?" 

"Yes, Brother Morris. It has been bought by 
the State & Merton County Railroad Company." 

"And who bought the mines of Todman and of 
Lee that came into the market in the same way 
last year?" 

"The same company. Brother Morris." 

"And who bought the ironworks of Manson 
and of Shuman, and of Van Deher and of At- 
wood, which have all been given up of late?" 

"They were all bought by the West Gilmertcwi 
General Mining Company." 

"I don't see, Brother Morris," said the chair- 
man, "that it matters to us who buys them, since 
they can't carry them out of the district." 

"With all respect to you, Eminent Body- 
master, I think it may matter very much to us. 


This process has been going on now for ten long 
years. We are gradually driving all the small 
men out of trade. What is the result? We find 
in their places great companies like the Railroad 
or the General Iron, who have their directors in 
New York or Philadelphia, and care nothing for 
our threats. We can take it out of their local 
bosses; but it only means that others will be sent 
in their stead« And we are making it dangerous 
for ourselves. The small men could not harm us. 
They had not the money nor the power. So long 
as we did not squeeze them too dry, they would 
stay on under our power. But if these big com- 
panies find that we stand between them and their 
profits, they will spare no pains and no expense 
to himt us down and bring us to court." 

There was a hush at these ominous words, and 
every face darkened as gloomy looks were ex- 
changed. So onmipotent and unchallenged had 
they been that the very thought that there was 
possible retribution in the background had been 
banished from their minds. And yet the idea 
struck a chill to the most reckless of them. 

"It is my advice," the speaker continued, "that 
we go easier upon the small men. On the day 



that they have all been driven out the power of 
this soeiety will have been broken." 

Unwelcome truths are not popular. There 
were angry cries as the speaker resumed his seat. 
McGinty rose with gloom upon his brow. 

"Brother Morris," said he, "you were always 
a croaker. So long as the members of this lodge 
stand together there is no power in the United 
States that can touch them. Sure, have we not 
tried it often enough in the law courts ? I expect 
the big companies will find it easier to pay than 
to fight, same as the little companies do. And 
now, Brethren," McGinty took oflF his black vel- 
vet cap and his stole as he spoke, "this lodge has 
finished its business for the evening, save for one 
small matter which may be mentioned when we 
are parting. The time has now come for fra- 
ternal refreshment and for harmony." 

Strange indeed is human nature. Here were 
these men, to whom murder was familiar, who 
again and again had struck down the father of 
the family, some man against whom they had no 
personal feeling, without one thought of com- 
punction or of compassion for his weeping wife 
or helpless children, and yet the tender or pa- 


thetic in music could move them to tears. Mo 
Murdo had a fine tenor voice, and if he had failed 
to gain the good wiU of the lodge before, it could 
no longer have been withheld after he had 
thrilled them with "I*m Sitting on the Stile, 
Mary," and "On the Banks of Allan Water." 

In his very first night the new recruit had 
made himself one of the most popular of the 
brethren, marked already for advancement and 
high ofiice. There were other qualities needed, 
however, besides those of good fellowship, to 
make a worthy Freeman, and of these he was 
given an example before the evening was over. 
The whisky bottle had passed round many times, 
and the men were flushed and ripe for mischief 
when their Bodymaster rose once more to ad- 
dress them. 

"Boys," said he, "there's one man in this town 
that wants trimming up, and it's for you to see 
that he gets it. I'm speaking of James Stanger 
of the Herald. You've seen how he's been open- 
ing his mouth against us again?" 

There was a murmur of assent, with many a 
muttered oath. McGinty took a slip of paper 
from his waistcoat pocket* 



" *Law and Order!' That's how he heads it. 
^eign of Terror in the Coal and Iron District. 
Twelve years have now elapsed since the first 
assassinations which proved the existence of a 
criminal organization in our midst. From that 
day these outrages have never ceased, until now 
they have reached a pitch which makes us the 
op^robriumofftedvLd world. Isitfor«.ch 
results as this that our great country welcomes 
to its hosom the alien who flies from the despot** 
isms of Europe? Is it that they shall them- 
selves become tyrants over the very men who 
have given them shelter^ and that a state of ter- 
rorism and lawlessness should be established un- 
der the very shadow of the sacred folds of the 
starry Flag of Freedom which would raise hor- 
ror in our minds if we read of it as existing under 
the most effete monarchy of the East? The men 
are known. The organization is patent and pub- 
He. How long are we to endure it? Can we 

forever live * Sure, I've read enough of the 

slush!" cried the chairman, tossing the paper 
down upon the table. "That's what he says of 
us. The question I'm asking you is what shall 
we say to him?'* 


"Kill him!" cried a dozen fierce voices, 

"I protest against that," said Brother Morris, 
the man of the good brow and shaved face. "I 
tell you, Brethren, that our hand is too heavy in 
this valley, and that there will come a point where 
in self-defense every man wiD unite to crush us 
out. James Stanger is an old man. He is re- 
spected in the township and the district. Hi3 
paper stands for all that is solid in the valley. 
If that man is struck down, there will be a stir 
through this State that will only end with our 

"And how would they bring about our de- 
struction, Mr. Standback!" cried McGinty. "Is 
it by the police? Siu'e, half of them are in our 
pay and half of them afraid of us. Or is it by 
the law courts and the Judge? Haven't we tried 
that before now, and what ever came of it?" 

"There is a Judge Lynch that might try the 
case," said Brother Morris. 

A general shout of anger greeted the sug- 

"I have but to raise my finger," cried Mc- 
Ginty, "and I could put two hundred men into 
this town that would clear it out from end to 



end." Then suddenly raising his voice and bend- 
ing his huge black brows into a terrible frown, 
"See here, Brother Morris, I have my eye on you, 
and have had for some timel YouVe no heart 
yourself, and you try to take the heart out of 
others. It will be an ill day for you. Brother 
Morris, when your own name comes on our 
agenda paper, and I'm thinking that it's just 
there that I ought to place it." 

Morris had turned deadly pale, and his knees 
seemed to give way under him as he fell back 
into his chair. He raised his glass in his trem- 
bling hand arid drank before he could answer. "I 
apologize, Eminent Bodymaster, to you and to 
every brother in this lodge if I have said more 
than I should. I am a faithful member, — ^you 
all know that, — and it is my fear lest evil come 
to the lodge which makes me speak in anxious 
words. But I have greater trust in your judg- 
ment than in my own. Eminent Bodymaster, and 
I promise you that I will not oflFend again." 

The Bodjrmaster's scowl relaxed as he listened 
to the humble words. "Very good. Brother Mor- 
ris. It's myself that would be sorry if it were 
needful to give you a lesson. But so long as 


I am in this chair we shall be a united lodge in 
word and in deed. And now. Boys,'* he con-» 
tinned, looking round at the company, "I'll say 
this much, that if Stanger got his full deserts 
there would be more trouble than we need ask 
for. These editors hang together, and every 
journal in the State would be crying out for 
police and troops. But I guess you can give him 
a pretty severe warning. Will you fix it. Brother 

Sure!" said the young man eagerly. 

^How many will you take?" 

'Half a dozen, and two to guard the door. 
You'll come, Gower, and you, Mansel, and you, 
Scanlan, and the two Willabys." 

"I promised the new brother he should go/* 
said the chairman. 

Ted Baldwin looked at McMurdo with eyes 
which showed that he had not forgotten nor for- 
given. "Well, he can come if he wants," he said 
in a surly voice. "That's enough. The sooner 
we get to work the better." 

The company broke up with shouts and yells 
and snatches of drunken song. The bar was still 
crowded with revelers, and many of the brethren 



remained there. The little band who had been 
told oflF for duty passed out into the street, pro- 
ceeding in twos and threes along the sidewalk so 
as not to provoke attention. It was a bitterly 
cold night, with a half -moon shining brilliantly 
in a frosty, star-spangled sky. The toen stopped 
and gathered in a yard which faced a high build- 
ing. The words "Vermissa Herald" were printed 
in gold lettering between the brightly lit win- 
dows. From within came the clanking of the 
printing press. 

"Here, you," said Baldwin to McMurdo, "you 
can stand below at the door and see that the 
road is kept open for us. Arthur Willaby can 
stay with you. You others come with me. Have 
no fear. Boys; for we have a dozen witnesses 
that we are in the Union Bar at this very mo- 

It was nearly midnight, and the street was 
deserted save for one or two revelers upon their 
way home. The party crossed the road, and, 
pushing open the door of the newspaper oflSce, 
Baldwin and his men rushed in and up the stair 
which faced them. McMurdo and another re- 
mained below. From the room above came a 


shout, a cry for help, and then the sound of 
trampling feet and of falling chairs. An instant 
later a gray-haired man rushed out on the land- 

He was seized before he could get farther, and 
his spectacles came tinkling down to McMurdo's 
feet. There was a thud and a groan. He was 
on his face, and half a dozen sticks were clat- 
tering together as they fell upon him. ^He 
writhed, and his long, thin limbs quivered under 
the blows. The others ceased at last; but Bald- 
win, his cruel face set in an infernal smile, was 
hacking at the man's head, which he vainly en- 
deavored to defend with his arms. His white 
hair was dabbled with patches of blood. Baldwin 
was still stooping over his victim, putting in a 
short, vicious blow whenever he could see a part 
exposed, when McMurdo dashed up the stair and 
pushed him back. 

"You'U kiU the man," said he. *T)rop itr 
Baldwin looked at him in amazement. ''Curse 
you 1" he cried. "Who are you to interfere — ^you 
that are new to the lodge? Stand backl'* He 
raised his stick; but McMurdo had whipped his 
pistol out of his hip pocket. 





"Stand back yourself 1" he cried. "I'll blow 
your face in if you lay a hand on me. As to the 
lodge, wasn't it the order of the Bodymaster 
that the man was not to be killed — and what are 
you doing but killing him?" 

Tt's truth he says," remarked one of the men. 
^By Garl you'd best hurry yourselves!" cried 
the man below. "The windows are all lighting 
up, and you'll have the whole town here inside 
of five minutes." 

There was indeed the sound of shouting in the 
street, and a little group of compositors and 
pressmen was forming in the hall below and 
nerving itself to action. Leaving the limp and 
motionless body of the editor at the head of the 
stair, the criminals rushed down and made their 
way STriftly along the street. Having reached 
the Union House, some of them mixed with the 
crowd in McGinty's saloon, whispering across 
the bar to the Boss that the job had been well 
carried through. Others, and among them Mc- 
Murdo, broke away into side streets, and so by 
devious paths to their own homes. 



WHEN McMurdo awoke next morning he 
had good reason to remember his initia- 
tion into the lodge. His head ached with the 
effect of the drink, and his arm, where he had 
been branded, was hot and swollen. Having his 
own peculiar source of income, he was irregular 
in his attendance at his work; so he had a late 
breakfast, and remained at home for the mom^ 
ing writing a long letter to a friend. Afterward 
he read the Daily Herald. In a special colunm 
put in at the last moment he read, "'Outrage at 
the Herald OflSce — ^Editor Seriously Injured.'* 
It was a short account of the facts with which he 
was himself more familiar than the writer could 
have been. It ended with the statement: 

The matter is now in the hands of the police ; 
but it can hardly be hoped that their exertions 



will be attended by any better results than in the 
past. Some of 4e men were recognized, and 
there is hope that a conviction may be obtained. 
The source of the outrage was, it need hardly be 
said, that infamous society which has held this 
community in bondage for so long a period, and 
against which the Herald has taken so uncom- 
promising a stand. Mr. Stanger's many friends 
will rejoice to hear that, though he has been 
cruelly and brutally beaten, and though he has 
sustained severe injuries about the head, there 
is no immediate danger to his life. 

Below it stated that a guard of police, armed 
with Winchester rifles, had been requisitioned for 
the defense of the office. 

McMurdo had laid down the paper, and was 
Ughting his pipe with a hand which was shaky 
from the excesses of the previous evening, when 
there was a knock outside, and his landlady 
brought to him a note which had just been handed 
in by a lad. It was imsigned, and ran thus : 

I should wish to speak to you; but would 
rather not do so in your house. You will find 
me beside the flagstafi^ upon Miller Hill. If 
you will come there now, I have something which 
it is important for you to hear and for me to say. 


^— — — — ■ ^i^— ■ 


^— — — — ^■^— ■ 

McMurdo read the note twice with the utmost 
surprise; for he could not imagine what it meant 
or who was the author of it. Had it been in a 
feminine hand, he might have imagined that it 
was the beginning of one of those adventures 
which had been familiar enough in his past life. 
But it was the writing of a man, and of a well 
educated one, too. Finally, after some hesitation, 
he determined to see the matter through. 

Miller Hill is an ill-kept public park in the 
very center of the town. In simmier it is a 
favorite resort of the people; but in winter it is 
desolate enough. From the top of it one has a 
view not only of the whole straggling, grimy 
town, but of the winding vaUey beneath, with its 
scattered mines and factories blackening the snow 
on each side of it, and of the wooded and white- 
capped ranges flanking it. 

McMurdo strolled up the winding path hedged 
in with evergreens untU he reached the deserted 
restaurant which forms the center of summer 
gaiety. Beside it was a bare flagstafi^, and \m- 
derneath it a man, his hat drawn down and the 
collar of his overcoat turned up. When he 



turned his face McMurdo saw that it was Brother 
Morris, he who had incurred the anger of the 
Bodymaster the night before. The lodge sign 
was given and exchanged as they met. 

"I wanted to have a word with you, Mr. Mc- 
Murdo/' said the older man, speaking with a hesi- 
tation which showed that he was on delicate 
ground. "It was kind of you to come." 

"Why did you not put your name to the note?** 

"One has to be cautious. Mister. One never 
knows in times like these how a thing may come 
back to one. One never knows either who to 
trust or who not to trust." 

"Surely one may trust brothers of the lodge." 

"No, no, not always/' cried Morris with ve- 
hemence. "Whatever we say, even what we thinks 
seems to go back to that man McGinty." 

"Look here I" said McMurdo sternly. "It was 
only last night, as you know well, that I swore 
good faith to our Bodymaster. Would you be 
asking me to break my oath?" 

"If that is the view you take," said Morris 
sadly, "I can only say that I am sorry I gave 
you the trouble to come and meet me. Things 


have come to a bad pass when two free citizens 
cannot speak their thoughts to each other." 

McMurdo, who had been watching his com- 
panion very narrowly, relaxed somewhat in his 
bearing. "Sure I spoke for myself only," said 
he. "I am a newcomer, as you know, and I am 
strange to it all. It is not for me to open my 
mouth, Mr. Morris, and if you think well to say 
anything to me I am here to hear it." 

"And to take it back to Boss McGintyl" said 
Morris bitterly. 

"Indeed then, you do me injustice there," cried 
McMiu-do. "For myself I am loyal to the lodge, 
and so I tell you straight; but I would be a poor 
ereatiu-e if I were to repeat to any other what 
you might say to me in confidence. It will go no 
further than me; though I warn you that you 
may get neither help nor sympathy." 

"I have given up lookmg for either the one or 
the other," said Morris. "I may be putting my 
very life in your hands by what I say ; but, bad 
as you are, — ^and it seemed to me last night that 
you were shaping to be as bad as the worst, — 
still you are new to it, and your conscience cannot 




yet be as hardened as theirs. That was why I 
thought to speak with you/* 

**Well, what have you to say?*' 

**If you give me away, may a curse be on youf* 

"Sure, I said I would not." 

"I would ask you, then, when you joined the 
Freeman society in Chicago and swore vows of 
charity and fidelity, did ever it cross your mind 
that you might find it would lead you to crime?'* 
If you call it crime," McMurdo answered. 
'Call it crime r* cried Morris, his voice vibrat- 
ing with passion. **You have seen little of it if 
you can call it anything else. Was it crime last 
night when a man old enough to be your father, 
was beaten tiU the blood dripped from his white 
hairs. Was that crime — or what else would you 
call it?" 

"There are some would say it was war," said 
McMurdo, "a war of two classes with all in, so 
that each struck as best it could." 

"Well, did you think of such a thing when you 
joined the Freeman's society at Chicago?" 

"No, I'm bound to say I did not." 

"Nor did I when I joined it at Philadelphia. 


It was just a benejfit club and a meeting place 
for one's fellows. Then I heard of this place, — 
curse the hour that the name first fell upon my 
ears I — ^and I came to better myself I My God I 
to better myself I My wife and three children 
came with me. I started a drygoods store on 
Market Square, and I prospered well. The word 
had gone round that I was a Freeman, and I was 
forced to join the local lodge, same as you did 
last night. I've the badge of shame on my fore- 
arm and something worse branded on my heart. 
I found that I was under the orders of a black 
villain and caught in a meshwork of crime. What 
could I do? Every word I said to make things 
better was taken as treason, same as it was last 
night. I can't get away; for all I have in the 
world is in my store. If I leave the society, I 
know well that it means murder to me, and Grod 
knows what to my wife and children. Oh, Man, 
it is awful — awfull" He put his hands to his 
face, and his body shook with convulsive sobs. 

McMurdo shrugged his shoulders. "You were 
too soft for the job," said he. "You are the 
wrong sort for such work." 

"I had a conscience and a religion; but they 

[248] . 


made me a criminal among them. I was chosen 
for a job. If I backed down, I knew well what 
would come to me. Maybe I'm a coward. Maybe 
it's the thought of my poor little woman and the 
children that makes me one. Anyhow I went. 
I guess it will haimt me forever. 

"It was a lonely house, twenty miles from here, 
over the range yonder. I was told off for the 
door, same as you were last night. They could 
not trust me with the job. The others went in. 
When they came out their hands were crimson to 
the wrists. As we turned away a child was 
screaming out of the house behind us. It was a 
boy of five who had seen his father murdered. 
I nearly fainted with the horror of it, and yet I 
had to keep a bold and smiling face; for well I 
knew that if I did not it would be out of my 
house that they would come next with their 
bloody hands, and it would be my little Fred that 
!vrould be screaming for his father. 

"But I was a criminal then, part sharer in a 
murder, lost forever in this world, and lost also 
in the next. I am a good Catholic; but the 
priest would have no word with me when he 
heard I was a Scowrer. and I axn excommunicated 


from my f aith. That's how it stands with me. 
And I see you going down the same road, and I 
ask you what the end is to be? Are you ready to 
be a cold-blooded murderer also, or can we do 
an3rthing to stop it?'* 

"What would you do?" asked McMurdo ab- 
ruptly. "You would not inform?" 

"God forbid 1" cried Morris. "Siu-e, the very 
thought would cost me my life." 

"That's weU," said McMurdo. "I'm thinkmg 
that you are a weak man and that you make too 
much of the matter." 

"Too much! Wait till you have lived here 
longer. Look down the valley I See the cloud of 
a hundred chimneys that overshadows it I I tell 
you that the cloud of murder hangs thicker and 
lower than that over the heads of the people. It 
is the Valley of Fear, the Valley of Death. The 
terror is in the hearts of the people from the dusk 
to the dawn. Wait, young man, and you wiU 
learn for yourself." 

"Well, I'll let you know what I think when I 
have seen more," said McMiu-do carelessly. 
"What is very clear is, that you are not the man 
for the place, and that the sooner you sell out — 



if you only get a dime a doUar for what the husi- 
ness is worth — ^the better it will be for you. What 
you have said is safe with me; but by Gar I if 
I thought you were an informer " 

'No, no I'* cried Morris piteously. 

Well, let it rest at that, I'll bear what you 
have said in mind, and maybe some day I'D come 
back to it. I expect you meant kindly by speak- 
ing to me like this. Now I'll be getting home." 

"One word before you go," said Morris. "We 
may have been seen together. They may want to 
know what we have spoken about." 

"Ah I that's well thought of." 

"I offer you a clerkship in my store." 

"And I refuse it. That's our business. Well, 
so long. Brother Morris, and may ^i^ou find 
things go better with you in the future." 

That same afternoon, as McMurdo sat smok- 
ing, lost in thought, beside the stove of his sit- 
ting room, the door swung open and its frame- 
work was filled with the huge figure of Boss Mc- 
Ginty. He passed the sign, and then seating 
himself opposite to the young man he looked at 
him steadily for some time, a look which was as 
steadily returned. 


"I'm not much of a visitor. Brother Mc- 
Murdo/' he said at last. "I guess I am too busy 
over the folk that visit me. But I thought I'd 
stretch a point and drop down to see you in 
your own house-'' 

"I'm proud to see you here, Councilor," Mc- 
Murdo answered heartfly, bringing his whisky 
bottle out of the cupboard. "It's an honor that 
I had not expected." 

"How's the arm?" asked the Boss. 

McMurdo made a wry face. "Well, I'm not 
forgetting it," he said; *T)ut it's worth it." 

"Yes, it's worth it," the other answered, "to 
those that are loyal and go through with it and 
are a help to the lodge. What were you speak- 
ing to Brother Morris about on Miller Hill this 

The question came so suddenly that it was well 
that he had his answer prepared. He burst into 
a hearty laugh. "Morris didn't know I could 
earn a living here at home. He sha'n't know 
either ; for he has got too much conscience for the 
likes of me. But he's a good-hearted old chap. 
It was his idea that I was at a loose end, and that 



he would do me a good turn by offering me a 
clerkship in a drygoods store." 

"Oh, that was it?" 

"Yes, that was it" 

"And you refused it?" 



"Sure. Couldn't I earn ten times as mudi in 
my own bedroom with four hours* work?" 

"That's so. But I wouldn't get about too 
much with Morris." 
Why not?" 

Well, I guess because I tell you not. That's 
enough for most folk in these parts." 

"It may be enough for most folk; but it ain't 
enough for me. Councilor," said McMurdo 
boldly. "If you are a judge of men, you'll know 

The swarthy giant glared at him, and his hairy 
paw closed for an instant round the glass as 
though he would hurl it at the head of his com- 
panion. Then he laughed in his loud, boister- 
ous, insincere fashion. 

You're a queer card, for sure," said he. 
Well, if you want reasons, I'll give them. Did 
Morris say nothing to you against the lodge?" 

• »*— — — i^"^™ I ■ 



Nor against me?" 


"Well, that's because he daren't trust you. But 
in his heart he is not a loyal brother. We know 
that well. So we watch him and we wait for the 
time to admonish him. I'm thinking that the 
time is drawing near. There's no room for 
scabby sheep in our pen. But if you keep com- 
pany with a disloyal man, we might think tibat 
you were disloyal, too. See?" 

"There's no chance of my keeping company 
with him; for I dislike the man," McMurdo an- 
swered. "As to being disloyal, if it was any man 
but you he would not use the word to me twice." 

"Well, that's enough," said McGinty, drain- 
ing off his glass. "I came down to give you a 
word in season, and you've had it." 

"I'd like to know," said McMurdo, "how you 
ever came to leam that I had spoken with Mor- 
ris at all?" 

McGinty laughed. "It's my business to know 
what goes on in this township," said he. "I guess 
you'd best reckon on my hearing all that passes. 
Well, time's up, and I'll just say " 

But his leavetaking was cut short in a very 



unexpected fashion. With a sudden crash the 
door flew open, and three frowning, intent faces 
glared in at them from under the peaks of police 
caps. McMurdo sprang to his feet and half 
drew his revolver; but his arm stopped midway 
as he became conscious that two Winchester 
rifles were leveled at his head. A man in uni- 
form advanced into the room, a six-shooter in 
his hand. It was Captain Marvin, once of Chi- 
cago, and now of the Mine Constabulary. He 
shook his head with a half -smile at McMurdo. 

"I thought you'd be getting into trouble, Mr. 
Crooked McMurdo of Chicago," said he. "Can't 
keep out of it, can you? Take your hat and 
come along with us." 

"I guess you'll pay for this. Captain Marvin/* 
said McGinty. "Who are you, I'd like to know^ 
to break into a house in this fashion and molest 
honest, law-abiding men?" 

"You're standing out in this deal. Councilor ' 
McGinty," said the police Captain. "We are 
not out after you, but after this man McMurdo. 
It is for you to help, not to hinder us in our 


"He is a friend of mine, and I'll answer for his 
conduct," said the Boss. 

"By all accounts, Mr. McGinty, you may have 
to answer for your own conduct some of these 
days," the Captain answered. "This man Mc- 
Murdo was a crook before ever he came here, and 
he's a crook still. Cover him, Patrolman, while 
I disarm him." 

"There's my pistol," said McMurdo coolly. 
"Maybe, Captain Marvin, if you and I were 
alone and face to face you would not take me 
so easily." 

"Where's your warrant?" asked McGinty. 
"By Gar! a man might as well live in Russia 
as in Vermissa while folk like you are running 
the police. It's a capitalist outrage and you'll 
hear more of it, I reckon. 

You do what you think is your duty the best 
way you can. Councilor. We'll look after ours. 

: mure oi ii, x rcciLuii." 
"You do what you thiuK is your omy xiic uca 


"What am I accused of?" asked McMurdo. 

"Of being concerned in the beating of old 
Editor Stanger at the Herald Office. It wasn't 
your fault that it isn't a murder charge." 

"Well, if that's all you have against him," cried 
McGinty with a laugh, "you can save yourself 



a deal of trouble by dropping it right now. This 
man was with me in my saloon playing poker up 
to midnight, and I can bring a dozen to prove it/* 

"That's your affair, and I guess you can settle 
it in court tomorrow. Meanwhile come on, Mc- 
Murdo, and come quietly if you don't want a 
gun across your head. You stand wide, Mr. Mc- 
Ginty; for I warn you I will stand no resistance 
when I am on duty I" 

So determined was the appearance of the Cap- 
tain that both McMurdo and his Boss were 
forced to accept the situation. The tetter man- 
aged to have a few whispered words with the 
prisoner before they parted. 

"What about " he lerked his thumb up- 

W.K. to Signify the coining pUnt. 

"All right," whispered McMurdo, who had 
devised a safe hiding place under the floor. 

"I'll bid you goodby," said the Boss, shaking 
hands. "I'll see Reilly the lawyer and take the 
defense upon myself. Take my word for it that 
they won't be able to hold you." 

"I wouldn't bet on that. Guard the prisoner, 
you two, and shoot him if he tries any games. 
I'll search the house before I leave." 


He did so; but apparently found no trace of 
fhe concealed plant. When he had descended 
he and his men escorted McMurdo to headquar- 
ters. Darkness had fallen, and a keen blizzard 
was blowing so that the streets were nearly de- 
serted; but a few loiterers followed the group, 
and emboldened by invisibility shouted impreca- 
tions at the prisoner. 

Lynch the cursed Scowrerl" they cried. 
Lynch him I" They laughed and jeered as he 
was pushed into the police station. After a short, 
formal examination from the Inspector in charge 
he was put into the common cell. Here he found 
Baldwin and three other criminals of the night 
before, all arrested that afternoon and waiting 
their trial next morning. 

But even within this inner fortress of the law 
the long arm of the Freemen was able to ex- 
tend. Late at night there came a jailer with a 
straw bundle for their bedding, out of which he 
extracted two bottles of whisky, some glasses, 
and a pack of cards. They spent a hilarious 
night, without an anxious thought as to the or- 
deal of the morning. 

Not had they cause, as the result was to show. 



The magistrate could not possibly, on the evi- 
dence, have held them for a higher court. On the 
one hand the compositors and pressmen were 
forced to admit that the light was uncertain, 
that they were themselves much perturbed, and 
that it was difficult for them to swear to the 
identity of the assailants ; although they believed 
that the accused were among them. Cross-ex- 
amined by the clever attorney who had been 
engaged by McGinty, they were even more nebu- 
lous in their evidence. 

The injured man had already deposed that he 
was so taken by surprise by the suddenness of 
the attack that he could state nothing beyond the 
fact that the first man who struck him wore a 
mustache. He added that he knew them to be 
Scowrers, since no one else in the community 
could possibly have any enmity to him, and he 
had long been threatened on account of his out- 
spoken editorials. On the other hand, it was 
clearly shown by the united and unfaltering evi- 
dence of six citizens, including that high munici- 
pal official. Councilor McGinty, that the men 
had been at a card party at the Union House 


until an hour very much later than the commis- 
sion of the outrage. 

Needless to say that they were discharged with 
something very near to an apology from the 
bench for the inconvenience to which they had 
been put, together with an implied censure of 
Captain Marvin and the police for their officious 

The verdict was greeted with loud applause by 
a court in which McMurdo saw many familiar 
faces. Brothers of the lodge smiled and waved. 
But there yere others who sat with compressed 
lips and brooding eyes as the men filed out of 
the dock. One of them, a little, dark-bearded, 
resolute fellow, put the thoughts of himself and 
comrades into words as the ex-prisoners passed 

"You danmed murderers I" he said. "We'll fix 
you yetr 




IF anything had been needed to give an impe- 
tus to Jack McMurdo's popularity among 
his fellows it would have been his arrest and ac- 
quittal. That a man on the very night of join- 
ing the lodge should have done something which 
brought him before the magistrate was a new 
record in the annals of the society. Already he 
had earned the reputation of a good boon com- 
panion, a cheery reveler, and withal a man of 
high temper, who would not take an insult even 
from the all powerful Boss himself. But in ad- 
dition to this he impressed his comrades with the 
idea that among them all there was not one whose 
brain was so ready to devise a bloodthirsty 
scheme, or whose hand would be more capable of 
carrying it out. "He'll be the boy for the clean 


job," said the oldsters to one another, and waited 
their time until they could set him to his work. 

McGinty had instruments enough already ; but 
he recognized that this was a supremely able one. 
He felt like a man holding a fierce bloodhound 
in leash. There were curs to do the smaller work ; 
but some day he would slip this creature upon its 
prey. A few members of the lodge, Ted Bald- 
win among them, resented the rapid rise of the 
stranger and hated him for it ; but they kept clear 
of him, for he was as ready to fight as to laugh. 

But if he gained favor with his fellows, there 
was another quarter, one which had become even 
more vital to him, in which he lost it. Ettie 
Shaf ter*s father would have nothing more to do 
with him, nor would he allow him to enter the 
house. Ettie herself was too deeply in love to 
give him up altogether, and yet her own good 
sense warned her of what would come from a 
marriage with a man who was regarded as a 

One morning after a sleepless night she de- 
termined to see him, possibly for the last time, 
and make one strong endeavor to draw him from 



those evil influences which were sucking him 
down. She went to his house, as he had often 
begged her to do, and made her way into the 
room which he used as his sitting room. He was 
seated at a table, with his back turned and a let- 
ter in front of him. A sudden spirit of girlish 
mischief came over her — she was still only nine- 
teen. He had not heard her when she pushed 
open the door. Now she tiptoed forward and 
laid her hand lightly upon his bended shoulders. 

If she had expected to startle him, she certainly 
succeeded; but only in turn to be startled her- 
self. With a tiger spring he turned on her, and 
his right hand was feeling for her throat. At 
the same instant with the other hand he crumpled 
up the paper that lay before him. For an in- 
stant he stood* glaring. Then astonishment and 
joy took the place of the ferocity which had con- 
vulsed his features, — a ferocity which had sent 
her shrinking back in horror as from something 
which had never before intruded into her gentle 

"It's you I" said he, mopping his brow. "And 
to think that you should come to me, heart of my 
heart, and I should find nothing better to do than 


to want to strangle you I Come then, Darling," 
and he held out his arms, 'let me make it up to 

But she had not xecovered from that sudden 
glimpse of guilty fear which she had read in the 
man's face. All her woman's instinct told her 
that it was not the mere fright of a man who is 
startled. Guilt — ^that was it — ^guilt and fearl 

What's come over you, Jack?" she cried. 
Why were you so scared of me? Oh, Jack, if 
your conscience was at ease, you would not have 
looked at me like that 1" 

"Sure, I was thinking of other things, and 
when you came tripping so lightly on those fairy 
feet of yours " 

"No, no, it was more than that. Jack." Then 
a sudden suspicion seized her. "Let me see that 
letter you were writing." 

"Ah, Ettie, I couldn't do that." 

Her suspicions became certainties. "It's to 
another woman," she cried. "I know it I Why 
else should you hold it from me? Was it to your 
wife that you were writing? How am I to know 
that you are not a married man — ^you, a stranger, 
that nobody knows?" 



*'I am not married, Ettie. See now, I swear 
itl You're the only one woman on earth to me. 
By the cross of Christ I swear itl" 

He was so white with passionate earnestness 
that she could not but believe him. 

"Well, then," she cried, "why will you not 
show me the letter ?" 

"1*11 tell you, acushla," said he. "I'm under 
oath not to show it, and just as I wouldn't break 
my word to you so I would keep it to those who 
hold my promise. It's the business of the lodge, 
and even to you it's secret. And if I was scared 
when a hand fell on me, can't you understand it 
when it might have been the hand of a detective?" 

She felt that he was telling the truth. He 
gathered her into his arms and kissed away her 
fears and doubts. 

"Sit here by me, then. It's a. queer throne for 
such a queen; but it's the best your poor lover 
can find. He'll do better for you some of these 
da3rs, I'm thinking. Now your mind is easy once 
again, is it not?" 

"How can it ever be at ease. Jack, when I 
know that you are a criminal among criminals, 
when I never know the day that I may hear you 


are in court for murder? *McMurdo the Scow- 
rer/ that's what one of our boarders called you 
yesterday. It went through my heart like s 

"Sure, hard words break no bones." 

**But they were true," 

"Well, Dear, it's not so bad as you think. We 
are but poor men that are trying in our own way 
to get our rights." 

Ettie threw her arms round her lover's neck. 
**Give it up, Jack 1 For my sake, for God's sake, 
give it up I It was to ask you that I came here 
today. Oh, Jack, see — I beg it of ycHi' on my 
bended knees! Kneeling here before you I im- 
plore you to give it up !" 

He raised her and soothed her with her head 
against his breast. 

"Sure, my darlin', you don't know what it is 
you are asking. How could I give it up when 
it would be to break my oath and to desert my 
comrades? If you could see how things stand 
with me you could never ask it of me. Besides, 
if I wanted to, how could I do it? You don't 
suppose that the lodge would let a man go free 
with all its secrets?" 



"IVe thought of that, Jack. IVe planned it 
all. Father has saved some money. He is weary 
of this place where the fear of these people dark- 
ens our lives. He is ready to go. We would fly 
together to Philadelphia or New York, where we 
would be safe from them." 

McMurdo laughed. ^'The lodge has a long 
arm. Do you think it could not stretch from here 
to Philadelphia or New York?" 

"Well then, to the West, or to England, or to 
Grcrmany, where Father came from — ^anywhere 
to get away from this Valley of Fear I** 

McMurdo thought of old Brother Morris. 
"Sure it is the second time I have heard the val- 
ley so named," said he. "The shadow does in- 
deed seem to lie heavy on some of you." 

"It darkens every moment of our lives. Do 
you suppose that Ted Baldwin has ever forgiven 
us? If it were not that he fears you, what do 
you suppose our chances would be? If you saw 
the look in those dark, hungry eyes of his when 
thev fall on me !" 

"By Garl I'd teach him better manners if I 
caught him at it 1 But see here, little girl. I can't 
leave here. I can't — take that from me once and 


for all. But if you will leave me to find my own 
way, I will try to prepare a way of getting hon- 
orably out of it/* 

"There is no honor in such a matter." 
"Well, well, it's just how you look at it. But 
if you'll give me six months, I'll work it so that 
I can leave without being ashamed to look others 
in the face." . 

The girl laughed with joy. "Six months I" she 
cried. "Is it a promise?" 

"WeU, it may be seven or eight. But within 
a year at the furthest we will leave the valley 
behind us." 

It was the most that Ettie could obtain, and 
yet it was something. There was this distant 
light to illuminate the gloom of the immediate 
future. She returned to her father's house more 
light-hearted than she had ever been since Jack 
McMurdo had come into her life. 

It might be thought that as a member, aU the 
doings of the society would be told to him; but 
he was soon to discover that the organization was 
wider and more complex than the simple lodge. 
Even Boss McGinty was ignorant as to many 
things; for there was an official named the 



County Delegate, living at Hobson's Patch far* 
ther down the line, who had power over several 
different lodges which he wielded in a sudden and 
arbitrary way. Only once did McMurdo see him, 
a sly, little gray-haired rat of a man, with a 
slinking gait and a sidelong glance which was 
charged with malice. Evans Pott was his name, 
and even the great Boss of Vermissa felt toward 
him something of the repulsion and fear which 
the huge Danton may have felt for the puny 
but dangerous Robespierre. 

One day Scanlan, who was McMurdo's fellow 
boarder, received a note from McGinty inclos- 
ing one from Evans Pott, which informed him 
that he was sending over two good men, Lawler 
and Andrews, who had instructions to act in the 
neighborhood; though it was best for the cause 
that no particulars as to their objects should be 
given. Would the Bodymaster see to it that suit- 
able arrangements be made for their lodgings 
and comfort until the time for action should ar- 
rive? McGinty added that it was impossible for 
anyone to remain secret at the Union House, and 
that, therefore, he would be obliged if McMurdo 


and Scanlan would put the strangers up for a few 
days in their boarding house. 

The same evening the two men arrived, each 
carrying his gripsack. Lawler was an elderly 
man, shrewd, silent, and self-contained, clad in 
an old black frock coat, which with his soft felt 
hat and ragged, grizzled beard gave him a gen- 
eral resemblance to an itinerant preacher. His 
companion Andrews was little more than a boy, 
frank-faced and cheerful, with the breezy man- 
ner of one who is out for a holiday and means tc?> 
enjoy every minute of it. Both men were total 
abstainers, and behaved in all ways as exemplary 
members of the society, with the one simple ex- 
ception that they were assassins who had often 
proved themselves to be most capable instruments 
for this association of murder. Lawler had al- 
ready carried out fourteen Commissions of the 
kind, and Andrews three. 

They were, as McMurdo found, quite ready to 
converse about their deeds in the past, which they 
recounted with the half -bashful pride of men who 
had done good and unselfish service for the com- 
munity. They were reticent, however, as to the 
immediate job in hand. 



"They dioose us because neither I nqr the boy 
here drink," Lawler explained. "They can count 
on us sajdng no more than we should. You must 
not take it amiss, but it is the orders of the 
Coimty Delegate that we obey." 

"Sure, we are all in it together," said Scanlan, 
McMurdo's mate, as the four sat together at 

"That's true enough, and we'll talk till the 
cows come home of the killing of Charlie Wil- 
liams or of Simon Bird, or any other job in the 
past. But till the work is done we say nothing." 

"There are half a dozen about here that I have 
a word to say to," said McMurdo, with an oath. 
"I suppose it isn't Jack Eiiox of Ironhill that 
you are after. I'd go some way to see him get 
his deserts." 

"No, it's not him yet." 

"Or Herman Strauss?" 

"No, nor him either." 

"Well, if you won't tell us we can't make you; 
but I'd be glad to know." 

Lawler smiled and shook his head. He was not 
to be drawn. 

In spite of the reticence of their guests, Scan- 


Ian and McMurdo were quite determined to be 
present at what they called "the fun." When, 
therefore, at an early hour one morning Mc- 
Murdo heard them creeping down the stairs he 
awakened Scanlan, and the two hurried on their 
clothes. When they were dressed they found 
that the others had stolen out, leaving the door 
open behind them. It was not yet dawn, and by 
the light of the lamps they could see the two men 
some distance down the street. They followed 
them warily, treading noiselessly in the deep 

The boarding house was near the edge of the 
town, and soon they were at the crossroads which 
is beyond its boundary. Here three men were 
waiting, with whom Lawler and Andrews held a 
short, eager conversation. Then they all moved 
on together. It was clearly some notable job 
which needed numbers. At this point there are 
several trails which lead to various mines. The 
strangers took that which led to the Crow Hill, a 
huge business which was in strong hands which 
had been able, thanks to their energetic and fear- 
less New England manager, Josiah H. Dunn, to 



keep some order and discipline during the long 
reign of terror. 

Day was breaking now, and a line of work- 
men were slowly making their way, singly and 
in groups, along the blackened path. 

McMurdo and Scanlan strolled on with the 
others, keeping in sight of the men whom they 
followed. A thick mist lay over them, and from 
the heart of it there came the sudden scream of 
a steam whistle. It was the ten-minute signal 
before the cages descended and the day's labor 

When they reached the open space round the 
mine shaft there were a hundred miners waiting, 
stamping their feet and blowing on their fingers ; 
for it was bitterly cold. The strangers stood in 
a little group under the shadow of the engine 
house. Scanlan and McMurdo climbed a heap 
of slag from which the whole scene lay before 
them. They saw the mine engineer, a great 
bearded Scotsman named Menzies, come out of 
the engine house and blow his whistle for the 
cages to be lowered. 

At the same instant a tall, loose-framed young 
pan with a clean-shaved, earnest face advanced 


eagerly toward the pit head. As he came for- 
ward his eyes fell upon the group, silent and mo- 
tionless, under the engine house. The men had 
drawn down their hats and turned up their col- 
lars to screen their faces. For a moment the 
presentiment of Death laid its cold hand upon 
the manager's heart. At the next he had shaken 
it off and saw only his duty toward intrusive 

"Who are you?'* he asked as he advanced. 
"What are you loitering there for?" 

There was no answer; but the lad Andrews 
stepped forward and shot him in the stomach. 
The hundred waiting miners stood as motionless 
and helpless as if they were paralyzed. The 
manager clapped his two hands to the woimd 
and doubled himself up. Then he staggered 
away ; but another of the assassins fired, and he 
went down sidewise, kicking and clawing among 
a heap of clinkers. Menzies, the Scotsman, gave 
a roar of rage at the sight and rushed with an 
iron spanner at the murderers; but was met by 
two balls in the face which dropped him dead 
at their very feet. 

There was a surge forward of some of tfe 



miners, and an inarticulate cry of pity and of 
anger; but a couple of the strangers emptied 
their six-shooters over the heads of the crowd, 
and they broke and scattered, some of them rush- 
ing wildly back to their homes in Vermissa, 

When a few of the bravest had rallied, and 
there was a return to the mine, the murderous 
gang had vanished in the mists of morning, with- 
out a single witness being able to swear to the 
identity of these men who in front of a hundred 
spectators had wrought this double crime. 

Scanlan and McMurdo made their way back; 
Scanlan somewhat subdued, for it was the first 
murder job that he had seen with his own eyes, 
and it appeared less funny than he had been led 
to believe. The horrible screams of the dead 
manager's wife pursued them as they hurried to 
the town. McMurdo was absorbed and silent; 
but he showed no sjonpathy for the weakening 
of his companion. 

"Sure, it is like a war," he repeated. "What 
is it but a war between us and them, and we hit 
back where we best can." 

There was high revel in the lodge room at the 
Union House that night, not only over the kill- 


ing of the manager and engineer of the Crow 
HiU mine, which would bring this organization 
into line with the other blackmailed and terror- 
stricken companies of the district, but also over a 
distant triumph which had been wrought by the 
hands of the lodge itself. 

It would appear that when the County Dele- 
gate had sent over five good men to strike a blow 
in Vermissa, he had demanded that in return 
three Vermissa men should be secretly selected 
and sent across to kill William Hales of Stake 
Royal, one of the best known and most popular 
mine owners in the Gilmerton district, a man 
who was believed not to have an enemy in the 
world; for he was in all ways a model employer. 
He had insisted, however, upon eflBciency in the 
work, and had, therefore, paid off certain drunk- 
en and idle employees who were members of the 
all-powerful society. CoflSn notices hung out- 
side his door had not weakened his resolution, 
and so in a free, civilized country he found him- 
self condemned to death. 

The execution had now been duly carried out. 
Ted Baldwin, who sprawled now in the seat of 
honor beside the Bodymaster, had been chief of 



the party. His flushed face and glazed, blood- 
shot eyes told of sleeplessness and drink. He 
and his two comrades had spent the night before 
among the mountains. They were unkempt and 
weather-stained. But no heroes, returning from 
a forlorn hope, could have had a warmer wel- 
come from their comrades. 

The story was told and retold amid cries of 
delight and shouts of laughter. They had waited 
for their man as he drove home at nightfall, tak- 
ing their station at the top of a steep hill, where 
his horse must be at a walk. He was so furred 
to keep out the cold that he coul^l not lay his 
hand on his pistol. They had pulled him out and 
shot him again and again. He had screamed for 
mercy. The screams were repeated for the 
amusement of the lodge. 

"Let's hear again how he squealed," they cried. 

None of them knew the man ; but there is eter- 
nal drama in a killing, and they had shown the 
Scowrers of Gilmerton that the Vermissa men 
were to be relied upon. 

There had been one contretemps; for a man 
and his wife had driven up while they were still 
emptying their revolvers into the silent body. It 


had been suggested that they should shoot them 
both; but they were harmless folk who were not 
connected with the mines, so they were sternly 
bidden to drive on and keep silent, lest a worse 
thing befall them. And so the blood-mottled 
figure had been left as a warning to all such hard- 
hearted employers, and the three noble avengers 
had hurried off into the moimtains where im- 
broken nature comes down to the very edge of 
the furnaces and the slag heaps. Here they were, 
safe and sound, their work well done, and the 
plaudits of their companions in their ears. 

It had been a great day for the Scowrers. The 
shadow had fallen even darker over the valley. 
But as the wise general chooses the moment of 
victory in which to redouble his efforts, so that 
his foes may have no time to steady themselves 
after disaster, so Boss McGinty, looking out upon 
the scene of his operations with his brooding and 
malicious eyes, had devised a new attack upon 
those who opposed him. That very night, as the 
half -drunken company broke up, he touched Mc- 
Murdo on the arm and led him aside into that 
inner room where they had their first interview. 

"See here, my lad,'* said he, "IVe got a job 



that's worthy of you at last. You'll have the 
doing of it in your own hands/' 

"Proud I am to hear it," McMurdo answered. 

"You can take two men with you — ^Manders 
and Reilly. They have been warned for service. 
We'll never be right in this district until Ches- 
ter Wilcox has been settled, and you'll have the 
thanks of every lodge in the coaJ fields if you 
can down him." 

"I'll do my best, anyhow. Who is he, and 
where shall I find him?" 

McGinty took his eternal half -chewed, half- 
smoked cigar from the corner of his mouth, and 
proceeded to draw a rough diagram on a page 
torn from his notebook. 

"He's the chief foreman of tiie Iron Dike 
Company. He's a hard citizen, an old Color 
Sergeant of the war, all scars and grizzle. We've 
had two tries at him; but had no luck, and Jim 
Camaway lost his life over it. Now it's for you 
to take it over. That's the house — all alone at 
the Iron Dike crossroad, same as you see here on 
the map — ^without another within earshot. It's 
no good by day. He's armed and shoots quick 
and straight, with no questions asked. But at 


night— weU, there he is with his wife, three chil- 
dren, and a hired help. You can't pick or choose. 
It's all or none. If you could get a bag of blast- 
ing powder at the front door with a slow match 
to it " 

"What's the man done?" 

*T)idn't I tell you he shot Jim Camaway?" 

"Why did he shoot him?" 

"What in thunder has that to do with you? 
Camaway was about his house at night, and he 
shot him. That's enough for me and you. 
You've got to set the thing right." 

"There's these two women and the children. 
Do they go up too?" 

"They have to — else how can we get him?" 

"It seems hard on them; for they've done 

"What sort of fool's talk is this? Do you back 

"Easy, Councilor, easy 1 What have I ever said 
or done that you should think I would be after 
standing back from an order of the Bodymaster 
of my own lodge? If it's right or if it's wrong, 
i^'sL for you to decide." 

*^ou'U do it, then?" 



"Of course I will do it.*" 


"Well, you had best give me a night or two 
that I may see the house and make my plans.. 
Then " 

"Very good," said McGinty, shaking him hj 
the hand. "I leave it with you. It will be a great 
day when you bring us the news. It*s just the 
last stroke that will bring them all to their knees.'* 

McMurdo thought long and deeply over the 
commission which had been so suddenly placed in 
his hands. . The isolated house in which Chester 
Wilcox lived was about five miles off in an ad- 
jacent valley. That very night he started off all 
alone to prepare for the attempt. It was day- 
light before he returned from his reconnaissance- 
Next day he interviewed his two subordinates, 
Manders and Reilly, reckless youngsters who 
were as elated as if it were a deer-hunt. 

Two nights later they met outside the town, all 
three armed, and one of them carrying a sack 
stuffed with the powder which was used in the 
quarries. It was two in the morning before they 
came to the lonely house. The night was a windy 
one, with broken clouds drifting swiftly across 


the face of a three-quarter moon. They had been 
warned to be on their guard against bloodhounds ; 
so they moved forward cautiously, with their pis- 
tols cocked in their hands. But there was no 
sound save the howling of the wind, and no move* 
ment but the swaying branches above them. 

McMurdo listened at the door of the lonely 
house; but all was still within. Then he leaned 
the powder bag against it, ripped a hole in it with 
his knife, and attached the fuse. When it was 
well alight he and his two companions took to 
their heels, and were some distance off, safe and 
snug in a sheltering ditch, before the shattering 
roar of the explosion, with the low, deep rumble 
of the collapsing building, told them that their 
work was done. No cleaner job had ever been 
carried out in the bloodstained annals of the so- 

But alas that work so well organized and bold- 
ly carried out should all have gone for nothing I 
Warned by the fate of the various victims, and 
knowing that he was marked down for destruc- 
tion, Chester Wilcox had moved himself and his 
family only the day before to some safer and less 
known quarters, where a guard of police should 



watch over them. It was an empty house which 
had been torn down by the gunpowder, and the 
grim old Color Sergeant of the War was still 
teaching discipline to the miners of Iron Dike. 

"Leave him to me," said McMurdo. "He's my 
man, and I'U get him sure ii I have to wait a 
year for him." 

A vote of thanks and confidence was passed in 
full lodge, and so for the time the matter ended. 
When a few weeks later it was reported in the 
papers that Wilcox had been shot at from an 
ambuscade, it was an open secret that McMurdo 
was still at work upon his unfinished job. 

Such were the methods of the Society of Free- 
men, and such were the deeds of the Scowrers 
by which they spread their rule of fear over the 
great and rich district which was for so long a 
period haunted by their terrible presence. Why 
should these pages be stained by further crimes? 
Have I not said enough to show the men and 
their methods? 

These deeds are written in history, and there 

are records wherein one may read the details of 

fhem. There one may learn of the shooting of 

Policemen Hunt and Evans because they had 



ventured to arrest two members of the society, — 
a double outrage plamied at the Vennissa lodge 
and carried out m cold blood upon two helpless 
and disarmed men. There also one may read of 
the shooting of Mrs. Larbey when she was nurs- 
ing her husband, who had been beaten almost to 
death by orders of Boss McGinty. The killing 
of the elder Jenkins, shortly followed by that 
of his brother, the mutilation of James Mur- 
doch, the blowing up of the Staphouse family, 
and the murder of the Stendals all followed hard 
upon one another in the same terrible winter. 

Darkly the shadow lay upon the Valley of 
Fear. The spring had come with running brooks 
and blossoming trees. There was hope for all 
nature bound so long in an iron grip; but no- 
where was there any hope for the men and women 
who lived under the yoke of the terror. Never 
had the cloud above them been so dark and hope- 
less as in the early summer of the year 1875. 



IT was the height of the reign of terror. Mc- 
Murdo, who had already been appointed In- 
ner Deacon, with every prospect of some day suc- 
ceeding McGinty as Bodymaster, was now so 
necessary to the councils of his comrades that 
nothing was done without his help and advice. 
The more popular he became, however, with the 
Freemen, the blacker were the scowls which 
greeted him as he passed along the streets of Ver- 
missa. In spite of their terror the citizens were 
taking heart to band themselves together against 
their oppressors. Rumors had reached the lodge 
of secret gatherings in the Herald office and of 
distribution of firearms among the lawabiding 
people. But McGinty and his men were imdis- 
tm-bed by such reports. They were numerous, 
resolute, and well armed. Their opponents were 



scattered and powerless. It would all end, as it 
had done in the past, in aimless talk and possibly 
in impotent arrests. So said McGinty, Mc- 
Murdo, and all the bolder spirits. 

It was a Saturday evening in May. Satur- 
day was always the lodge night, and McMurdo 
was leaving his house to attend it when Morris, 
the weaker brother of the order, came to see him. 
His brow was creased with care, and his kindly 
face was drawn and haggard. 

"Can I speak with you freely, Mr. McMurdo?" 


"I can't forget that I spoke my heart to you 
once, and that you kept it to yourself, even 
though the Boss himself came to ask you about 

"What else could I do if you trusted me? It 
wasn't that I agreed with what you said." 

"I know that well. But you are the one that 
I can speak to and be safe. IVe a secret here," 
he put his hand to his breast, "and it is just burn- 
ing the life out of me. I wish it had come to any 
one of you but me. If I tell it, it will mean mur- 
der, for sure. If I don't, it may bring the end 



of US all. God help me, but I am near out of my 
wits over it I" 

McMurdo looked at the man earnestly. He 
was trembling in every limb. He poured some 
whisky into a glass and handed it to him. "That's 
the physic for the likes of you," said he. "Now 
let me hear of it." 

Morris drank, and his white face took a tinge 
of color. "I can tell it to you all in one sen« 
tence," said he. "There's a detective on oiU' 

McMurdo stared at him in astonishment. 
"Why, Man, you're crazy," he said. "Isn't the 
place full of police and detectives, and what 
harm did they ever do us?" 

"No, no, it's no man of the district. As you 
say, we know them, and it is little that they can 
do. But you've heard of Pinkerton's ?" 

"I've read of some folk of that name." 

"Well, you can take it from me you've no 
show when they are on your trail. It's not a 
take-it-or-miss-it government concern. It's a 
dead earnest business proposition that's out for 
resuUts and keeps out till by hook or crook it gets 


them. If a Pinkerton man is deep in this busi- 
ness, we are all destroyed.'* 

"We must kiU him." 

"Ah, it's the first thought that came to you! 
So it will be up at the lodge. Didn't I say to 
you that it would end in murder?" 

"Sure, what is murder? Isn't it conmion 
enough in these parts?" 

"It is, indeed; but it's not for me to point out 
the man that is to be murdered. I'd never rest 
easy again. And yet it's our own necks that 
may be at stake. In God's name what shall I 
do?" He rocked to and fro in his agony of 

But his words had moved McMurdo deeply. 
It was easy to see that he shared the other's opin- 
ion as to the danger, and the need for meeting it. 
He gripped Morris' shoulder and shook him in 
his earnestness. 

"See here, Man," he cried, and he almost 
screeched the words in his excitement, "you won't 
gain anything by sitting keening like an old wife 
at a wake. Let's have the facts. Who is the 
fellow? Where is he? How did you hear of 
him? Why did you come to me?" 



"'I came to you ; for you are the one man that 
would advise me. I told you that I had a store 
in the East before I came here. I left good 
friends behind me, and one of them is in the 
telegraph service. Here's a letter that I had 
from him yesterday. It's this part from the top 
of the page. You can read it yourself/* 

This was what McMurdo read: 

How are the Scowrers getting on in your 
parts? We read plenty of them in the papers. 
Between you and me I expect to hear news from 
you before long. Five big corporations and the 
two railroads have taken the thing up in dead 
earnest. They mean it, and you can bet they'll 
get there 1 They are right deep down into it. 
Pinkerton has taken hold under their orders, and 
his best man, Birdy Edwards, is operating. The 
thing has got to be stopped right now, 

"Now read the postscript." 

Of course, what I give you is what I leamea 
in business; so it goes no further. It's a queer 
cipher that you handle by the yard every day and 
can get no meaning from. 

McMurdo sat in silence for some time, with 

the letter in his listless hands. The mist had 



lifted for a moment, and there was the abyss be- 
fore him. 

*'Does anyone else know of this?" he asked. 

"I have told no one else." 
'But this man — ^your friend — ^has he any other 
person that he would be likely to write to?" 

"Well, I dare say he knows one or two more. 
'Of the lodge?" 

**It*s likely enough, 

'I was asking because it is likely that he may 
have given some description of this fellow Birdy 
Edwards — ^then we could get on his trail." 

"Well, it's possible. But I should not think 
he knew him. He is just telling me the news that 
came to him by way of business. How would he 
know this Pinkerton man?" 

McMurdo gave a violent start. 

"By Gar!" he cried, "IVe got him. What a 
fool I was not to know it. Lord! but we're in 
luck! We will fix him before he can do any 
harm. See here, Morris, will you leave this thing 
in my hands ?" 

"Sure, if you wUl only take it off mine." 

"I'll do that. You can stand right back and 




let me run it. Even your name need not be 
mentioned. I'll take it all on myself, as if if 
were to me that this letter has come. Will that 
content you?" 

"It*s just what I would ask.'* 

"'Then leave it at that and keep your head 
shut. Now I'll get down to the lodge, and we'll 
soon make old man Pinkerton sorry for himself.** 

"You wouldn't kiU this man?" 

'The less you know. Friend Morris, the easier 
your conscience will be, and the better you will 
sleep. Ask no questions, and let these things 
settle themselves. I have hold of it now." 

Morris shook his head sadly as he left. '^I 
feel that his blood is on my hands," he groaned* 

" is no murder, anyhow," said 
McMurdo, smiling grimly. "It's him or us. I 
guess this man would destroy us all if we left 
him long in the valley. Why, Brother Morris, 
we'll have to elect you Bodymaster yet; for 
you've surely saved the lodge." 

And yet it was clear from his actions that he 
thought more seriously of this new intrusion 
than his words would show. It may have been 


his guilty conscience, it may have been the repu- 
tation of the Pinkerton organization, it may have 
been the knowledge that great, rich corporations 
had set themselves the task of clearing out the 
Scowrers; but, whatever his reason, his actions 
were those of a man who is preparing for the 
worst, Eveiy paper which would incriminate 
him was destroyed before he left the house. After 
that he gave a long sigh of satisfaction; for it 
seemed to him that he was safe. And yet the 
danger must still have pressed somewhat upon 
him; for on his way to the lodge he stopped at 
old man Shafter*s. The house was forbidden 
him; but when he tapped at the window Ettie 
came out to him. The dancing Irish deviltry 
had gone from her lover's eyes. She read his 
danger in his earnest face. 

"Something has happened 1" she cried. "Oh, 
Jack, you are in danger 1'" 

"Sure, it is not very bad, my sweetheart. And 
yet it may be wise that we make a move before 
it is worse/* 

"Make a move?" 

'I promised you once that I would go some 






day. I think the time is coming. Ihadnewsto- 
mghtj bad news, and I see trouble coming." 
The police?" 

Well, a Pinkerton. But, sure, you wouldn't 
know what that is, acushla, nor what it may mean 
to the likes of me. I'm too deep in this thing, 
and I may have to get out of it quick. You 
said you would come with me if I went." 

"Oh, Jack, it would be the saving of youT 

"I'm an honest man in some things, Ettie. I 
wouldn't hurt a hair of your bonny head for all 
that the world can give, nor ever pull you down 
one inch from the golden throne above the clouds 
where I always see you. Would you trust me?" 

She put her hand in his without a word. "Well, 
then, listen to what I say, and do as I order you ; 
for indeed it's the only way for us. Things are 
going to happen in this valley. I feel it in my 
bones. There may be many of us that will have 
to look out for ourselves. I'm one, anyhow. If 
I go, by day or night, it's you that must come 
with me I" 

"I'd come after you. Jack." 

"No, no, you shall come with me. If this val-. 
ley is closed to me and I can never come back^ 


how can I leave you behind, and me perhaps in 
hiding from the police with never a chance of a 
message? It's with me you must come, I know 
a good woman in the place I come from, and it's 
there I'd leave you till we can get married. WiU 
you come?" 

"Yes, Jack, I will come." 

"God bfcss you for your trust in mel It's a 
fiend out of hell that I should be if I abused it. 
Now, mark you, Ettie, it will be just a word to 
you, and when it reaches you, you will drop 
everything and come right down to the waiting 
room at the depot and stay there till I come for 

*T)ay or night, I'll come at the word, Jack.'* 

Somewhat eased in mind, now that his own 
preparations for escape had been begun, Mc- 
Murdo went on to the lodge. It had already 
assembled, and only by complicated signs and 
countersigns could he pass through the outer 
guard and inner guard who close-tiled it. A 
buzz of pleasure and welcome greeted him 
as he entered. The long room was crowded, 
and through the haze of tobacco smoke he 
saw the tangled black mane of the Bodymaster, 



the cruel, unfriendly features of Baldwin, the 
vultiu^ face of Harraway, the secretary, and a 
dozen more who were among the leaders of the 
lodge. He rejoiced that they should all he there 
to take counsel over his news. 

"Indeed, it*s glad we are to see you, Brother 1*' 
cried the chairman. "There's business here that 
wants a Solomon in judgment to set it right." 

"It's Lander and Egan," explained his neigh* 
bor as he took his seat. "They both claim the 
head money given by the lodge for the shooting 
of old man Crabbe over at Stylestown, and who's 
to say which fired the bullet?" 

McMurdo rose in his place and raised his hand. 
The expression of his face froze the attention 
of the audience. There was a dead hush of ex- 

"Eminent Bodymaster," he said, in a sol^nn 
voice, "I claim urgency 1" 

"Brother McMurdo claims urgency," said Mc- 
Ginty. "It's a claim that by the rules of this 
lodge takes precedence. Now, Brother, we at- 
tend you." 

McMurdo took the letter from his pocket. 

"Eminent Bodymaster and Brethren," he said, 


"I am the bearer of ill news this day; but it is 
better that it should be known and discussed, 
than that a blow should fall upon us without 
warning which would destroy us all. I have in- 
formation that the most powerful and richest 
organizations in this State have boimd themselves 
together for our destruction, and that at this very 
moment there is a Pinkerton detective, one Birdy 
Edwards, at work in the valley collecting the 
evidence which may put a rope roimd the necks 
of many of us, and send every man in this room 
into a felon's cell. That is the situation for the 
discussion of which I have made a claim of ur- 

There was a dead silence in the room. It was 
broken by the chairman. 

"What is your evidence for this, Brother Mc- 
Murdo?" he asked. 

"It is in this letter which has come into my 
hands," said McMurdo. He read the passage 
aloud. "It is a matter of honor with me that I 
can give no fiu*tiier particulars about the letter, 
nor put it into your hands ; but I assure you that 
there is nothing else in it which can affect the 




interests of the lodge. I put the case before you 
as it has reached me/' 

''Let me say, Mr. Chainnan»" said one of the 
older brethren, "that I have heard of Birdy Ed- 
wards, and that he has the name of being the best 
man in the Pinkerton service." 

"Does anyone know him by sight?" asked Mc- 

"Yes," said McMurdo, "I do." 

There was a murmur of astonishment through 
the hall. 

"I believe we hold him in the hollow of om 
hands," he contmued with an exulting smile upon 
his face. "If we act quickly and wisely, we can 
cut this thing short. If I have your confidence 
and your help, it is little that we have to fear." 

"What have we to fear, anyhow? What can 
he know of our aflFairs?" 

**You might say so if all were as stanch as 
you, Councilor. But this man has all the mil- 
lions of the capitalists at his back. Do you think 
there is no weaker brother among all our lodges 
that could not be bought? He will get at our 
secrets — ^maybe has got them already. There's 
only one sure cure.^ 



"That he never leaves the valley/' said Bald- 

McMurdo nodded. "Grood for you, Brother 
Baldwin/' he said. "You and I have had our 
differences, but you have said the true word to- 

"Where is he, then? Where shall we know 

"Eminent Bodymaster," said McMurdo ear- 
nestly, "I would put it to you that this is too 
vital a thing ^or us to discuss in open lodge. Grod 
forbid that I should throw a doubt on anyone 
here; but if so much as a word of gossip got to 
the ears of this man, there would be an end of 
any chance of our getting him. I would ask the 
lodge to choose a trusty committee, Mr. Chair- 
man, — ^yourself, if I might suggest it, and 
Brother Baldwin here, and five more. Then I 
can talk freely of what I know and of what I 
advise should be done." 

The proposition was at once adopted, and the 
conmiittee chosen. Besides the chairman and 
Baldwin there were the vulture-faced secrietary, 
Harraway, Tiger Cormac, the brutal young as- 
sassin. Carter, the treasurer, and the brothers 



Willaby, fearless and desperate men who would 
stick at nothing. 

The usual revelry of the lodge was short and 
subdued: for there was a cloud upon the men*s 
spirits, and many there for the first time began 
to see the cloud of avenging Law drifting up in 
that serene sky under which they had dwelt so 
long. The horrors they had dealt out to others 
had been so much a part of their settled lives that 
the thought of retribution had become a remote 
one, and so seemed the more startling now that it 
came so closely upon them. They broke up early 
and left their leaders to their council. 

"Now, McMurdol" said McGinty when they 
were alone. The seven men sat frozen in their 

"I said just now that I knew Birdy Edwards," 
McMurdo explained. "I need not tell you that 
he is not here imder that name. He's a brave 
man, but not a crazy one. He passes under the 
name of Steve Wilson, and he is lodging at Hob- 
sons Patch." 

"How do you know this?" 

"Because I fell into talk with him. I thought 
little of it at the time, nor would have given it a 


second thought but for this letter; but now I*m 
sure it's the man. I met him on the cars when 
I went down the line on Wednesday — a hard case 
if ever there was one. He said he was a reporter. 
I believed it for the moment. Wanted to know all 
he could about the Scowrers and what he called 
*the outrages* for a New York paper. Asked 
me every kind of question so as to get something. 
You bet I was giving nothing away. I'd pay 
for it and pay well/ said he, *if I could get some 
stuff that would suit my editor.' I said what I 
thought would please him best, and he handed me 
a twenty-dollar bill for my information. 'There's 
ten times that for you,' said he, 'if you can find 
me all that I want.'" 

'What did you tell him, then?" 

'Any stuff I could make up." 

'How do you know he wasn't a newspaper 

man 5 


I'll tell you. He got out at Hobsons Patch, 
and so did I. I chanced into the telegraph bu- 
reau, and he was leaving it. 

" 'See here,' said the operator after he'd gone 
out, 'I guess we should charge double rates for 
this.' — 'I guess you should,' said I. He had filled 



the form with stuff that might have been Chinese, 
for all we could make of it. 'He fires a sheet of 
this off every day/ said the clerk. * Yes/ said I ; 
'it's special news for his paper, and he's scared 
that the others should tap it.' That was what the 
operator thought and what I thought at the time ; 
but I think differently now." 

"By Gar I I believe you are right/' said Mc- 
Ginty. "But what do you allow that we should 
do about it?" 

"Why not go right down now and fix him?" 
someone suggested. 

"Aye, the sooner the better/' 

"I'd start this next minute if I knew where 
we could find him," said McMurdo. "He's in 
Hobsons Patch; but I don't know the house. 
I've got a plan, though, if you'll only take my 

WeU, what is it?" 

'I'll go to the Patch tomorrow morning. I'll 
find him through the operator. He can locate 
him, I guess. Well, then I'll tell him that I'm 
a Freeman myself. I'll offer him all the secrets 
of the lodge for a price. You bet he'll tumble 
to it. Ill tell him the papers are at my house» 


and that it's as much as my life would be worth 
to let him come while folk were about. He*ll see 
that that's horse sense. Let him come at ten 
o'clock at night, and he shall see everything. 
That will fetch him sure." 


"You can plan the rest for yourselves. Widow 
MacNamara's is a lonely house. She's as true 
as steel and as deaf as a post. There's only 
Scanlan and me in the house. If I get his prom- 
ise, — ^and I'll let you know if I do, — I'd have 
the whole seven of you come to^e by nine o'clock. 
We'll get him in. If ever he gets out alive — 
well, he can talk of Birdy Edwards' luck for the 
rest of his days !" 

"There's going to be a vacancy at Pinkerton's 
or I'm mistaken. Leave it at that, McMurdo. 
At nine tomorrow we'll be with you. You once 
get the door shut behind him, and you can leave 
the rest with us." 





AS McMurdo had said» the house in which he 
lived was a lonely one and very well suited 
for such a crime as they had planned. It was on 
the extreme fringe of the town and stood well 
back from the road. In any other case the con- 
spirators would have simply called out their man> 
as they had many a time before, and emptied their 
pistols into his body ; but in this instance it was 
very necessary to find out how much he knew, 
how he knew it, and what had been passed on 
to his employers. 

It was possible that they were already too late 
and that the work had been done. If that were 
indeed so, they could at least have their revenge 
upon the man who had done it. But they were 
hopeful that nothing of great importance had 


yet come to the detective's knowledge, as other- 
wise, they asgued, he would not have troubled 
to write down and forward such trivial inf onna- 
tion as McMurdo claimed to have given him. 
However, all this they would learn from his own 
lips. Once in their power, they would find a way 
to make him speak. It was not the first time that 
they had handled an imwilling witness. 

McMurdo went to Hobsons Patch as agreed. 
The police seemed to take particular interest in 
him that morning, and Captain Marvin— he who 
had claimed the old acquaintance with him at 
Chicago — actually addressed him as he waited at 
the station. McMurdo turned away and refused 
to speak with him. He was back from his mis- 
sion in the afternoon, and saw McGinty at the 
Union House. 

'He is coming," he said. 

'Goodl'' said McGinty. The giant was in his 
shirt sleeves, with chains and seals gleaming 
athwart his ample waistcoat and a diamond 
twinkling through the fringe of his bristling 
beard. Drink and politics had made the Boss a 
very rich as well as powerful man. The more 
terrible, therefore, seemed that glimpse of the 



prison or the gallows which had risen before him 
the night before. 

"Do you reckon he knows much?" he asked 

McMurdo shook his head gloomily. "He's 
been here some time — ^six weeks at the least. I 
guess he didn't come into these parts to look at 
the prospect. If he has been working among us 
all that time with the railroad money at his back, 
I should expect that he has got results, and that 
he has passed them on." 

"There's not a weak man in the lodge," cried 
McGinty. "True as steel, every man of them. 
And yet, by the Lord 1 there is that skunk Mor- 
ris. What about him? If any man gives us 
away, it would be he. I've a mind to Send a 
couple of the boys round before evening to give 
him a beating up and see what they can get from 

"Well, there would be no harm in that," Mc- 
Murdo answered. "I won't deny that I have a 
liking for Morris and would be sorry to see him 
come to harm. He has spoken to me once or 
twice over lodge matters, and though he may not 
see them the same as you or I, he never seemed 

<l*"i^»"M»"*^»W^-^»«»M«»i»ii»^»— — — ^>— — M^PM M ——11— 


the sort that squeals. But still it is not for me 
to stand between him and you." 

^'I'U fix the old devil 1" said McGinty with an 
oath. "I've had my eye on him this year past." 

"Well, you know best about that," McMurdo 
answered. "But whatever you do must be to- 
morrow ; for we must lie low until the Pinkerton 
affair is settled up. We can't afford to set the 
police buzzdng, today of all days." 

"True for you," said McGinty. "And we'll 
learn from Birdy Edwards himself where he got 
his news if we have to cut his heart out &rst. 
Did he seem to scent a trap?" 

McMurdo laughed. "I guess I took him on 
his weak point," he said. "If he could get on a 
good trail of the Scowrers, he's ready to follow 
it into hell. I took his money," McMurdo 
grinned as he produced a wad of dollar notes, 
"and as much more when he has seen all my 

"What papers?" 

"Well, there are no papers. But I filled him 
up about constitutions and books of rules and 
forms of membership. He expects to get right 
down to the end of everything before he leaves." 



^'Faith, he's rig^t there/' said McGinty grim* 
ly« ^^Didn't be ask you why you didn't bring 
him the papers f 

''As if I would carry such things, and me a 
suspected man, and Captain Marvin af ta speak- 
ing to me this very day at the depot 1" 

"Aye, I beard of that," said McGinty. "I 
guess the heavy end of this business is coming 
on to you. We could put him down an old shaft 
when we Ve done with him ; but however we work 
Jt we can't get past the man living at Hobsons 
Patch and you being there today." 

McMurdo shrugged his shoulders. "If we 
handle it right, they can never prove the killing," 
said he. "No one can see him come to the house 
after dark, and I'll lay to it that no one vdll 
see him go. Now see here, Councilor, I'll show 
you my plan and I'll ask you to fit the others 
into it. You will all come in good time. Very 
well. He comes at ten. He is to tap three times, 
and me to open the door for him. Then I'll 
get behind him and shut it. He's our man 

"That's all easy and plain." 

"Yes; but the next step wants considering. 


He's a hard proposition. He's heavily armed. 
IVe fooled him proper, and yet he is likely to 
be on his guard. Suppose I show him right into 
a room with seven men in it where he expected 
to find me alone. There is going to be shooting, 
and somebody is going to be hml;.'' 

"That's so." 

"And the noise is going to bring every damned 
copper in the township on top of it." 

"I guess you are right." 

"This is how I should work it. You will all 
be in the big room — ^same as you saw when you 
had a chat with me. I'll open the door for him, 
show him into the parlor beside the door, and 
leave him there while I get the papers. That 
will give me the chance of telling you how things 
are shaping. Then I will go back to him with 
some faked papers. As he is readincr them I will 
j^np for ZZi get „y grip on I pM arm. 
You'll hear me call and in you will rush. The 
quicker the better; tor he is as strong a man as 
I, and I may have more than I can manage. But 
I allow that I can hold him till you come." 

"It's a good plan," said McGinty. "The lodge 
will owe you a debt for this. I guess when I 



move out of the chair I can put a name to the 
man that's coming after me." 

"Sure, Councilor, I am little more than a re- 
cruit," said McMurdo; but his face showed what 
he thought of the great man's compliment. 

When he had returned home he made his own 
preparations for the grim evening in front of 
him. First he cleaned, oiled, and loaded his 
Smith & Wesson revolver. Then he surveyed the 
room in which the detective was to be trapped. 
It was a large apartment, with a long deal table 
in the center, and the big stove at one side. At 
each of the other sides were windows. There 
were no shutters on these: only light curtains 
which drew across. McMurdo examined these 
attentively. No doubt it must have struck him 
that the apartment was very exposed for so secret 
a meeting. Yet its distance from the road made 
it of less consequence. FinaUy he discussed the 
matter with his fellow lodger. Scanlan, though 
a Scowrer, was an inoflFensive little man who was 
too weak to stand against the opinion of his com- 
rades, but was secretly horrified by the deeds of 
blood at which he had sometimes been forced to 


assist. McMurdo told him shortly what was in- 

"And if I were you, Mike Scanlan, I would 
take a night off and keep clear of it. There will 
be bloody work here before morning." 

Well, indeed then, Mac," Scanlan answered. 
It's not the will but the nerve that is wanting 
in me. When I saw Manager Dunn go down 
at the colliery yonder it was just more than I 
could stand. I'm not made for it, same as you 
or McGinty. If the lodge will think none the 
worse for me, I'll just do as you advise and leave 
you to yourselves for the evening." 

The men came in good time as arranged. They 
were outwardly respectable citizens, well clad and 
cleanly; but a judge of faces would have read 
little hope for Birdy Edwards in those hard 
mouths and remorseless eyes. There was not a 
man in the room whose hands had not been red- 
dened a dozen times before. They were as hard- 
ened to hiunan murder as a butcher to sheep. 

Foremost, of course, both in appearance and in 
guilt, was the formidable Boss. Harraway, the 
secretary, was a lean, bitter man with a long, 
scraggy neck and nervous, jerky limbs, a man of 



incorruptible fideKty where the finances of the 
order were concerned, and with no notion of jus- 
tice or honesty to anyone beyond. The treas- 
urer. Carter, was a middle-aged man, with an 
impassive, rather sulky expression, and a yellow 
parchment skin. He was a capable organizer, 
and the actual details of nearly every outrage 
had spnmg from his plotting brain. The two 
Willabys were men of action, tall, lithe yoxmg 
fellows with determined faces, while their com- 
panion. Tiger Cormac, a heavy, dark youth, was 
feared even by his own comrades for the ferocity 
of his disposition. These were the men who 
assembled that night under the roof of McMurdo 
for the killing of the Pinkerton detective. 

Their host had placed whisky upon the table, 
and they had hastened to prime themselves for 
the work before them. Baldwin and Cormac 
were already half -drunk, and the liquor had 
brought out all their ferocity. Cormac placed 
his hands on the stove for an instant — ^it had been 
lighted, for the nights were still cold. 
That will do," said he, with an oath. 

'Aye," said Baldwin^ catching his meaning* 


**If he is strap})ed to that, we will have the trutii 
out of him." 

**We'll have the truth out of him, never fear,'* 
said McMurdo. He had neuves of steel, this 
man; for though the whole weight of the affair 
was on him his manner was as cool and uncon- 
cerned as ever. The others marked it and ap- 

"You are the one to handle him," said the Boss 
approvingly. "Not a warning will he get till 
your hand is on his throat. It's a pity there are 
no shutters to your windows." 

McMurdo went from one to the other and drew 
the curtains tighter. "Sure no one can spy upon 
us now. It's close upon the hour." 

"Maybe he won't come. Maybe he'll get a 
sniff of danger," said the secretary. 

He'll come, never fear," McMurdo answered. 
He is as eager to come as you can be to see him. 
Hark to that 1" 

They all sat like wax figures, some with their 
glasses arrested half-way to their lips. Three 
loud knocks had soimded at the door. 

"Hushl" McMurdo raised his hand in cau- 
tion. An exulting glance went round the 



circle, and hands were laid upon hidden weapons. 

"Not a sound, for your lives 1" McMurdo 
whispered, as he went from the room, closing the 
door carefully behind him. 

With strained ears the murderers waited. 
They counted the steps of their comrade down 
the passage. Then they heard him open the outer 
door. There were a few words as of greeting. 
Then they were aware of a strange step inside 
and of an unfamiliar voice. An instant later 
came the slam of the door and the turning of the 
key in the lock. Their prey was safe within the 
trap. Tiger Cormac laughed horribly, and Boss 
McGinty clapped his great hand across his 

'Be quiet, you fool!" he whispered. "You'll 
be the undoing of us yet!*' 

There was a mutter of conversation from the 
next room. It seemed interminable. Then the 
door opened, and McMurdo appeared, his finger 
upon his lip. 

He came to the end of the table and looked 

round at them. A subtle change had come over 

him. His manner was as of one who has great 

work to do. His face had set into granite firm* 




ness. His eyes shone with a fierce excitement be- 
hind his spectacles. He had become a visible 
leader of men. They stared at him with eager 
interest ; but he said nothing. Still with the same 
singular gaze he looked from man to man. 

"Welll^* cried Boss McGinty at last. "Is he 
here? Is Birdy Edwards here?" 

"Yes," McMurdo answered slowly. "Birdy 
Edwards is here. I am Birdy Edwards !" 

There were ten seconds after that brief speech 
during which the room might have been empty, 
so profound was the silence. The hissing of a 
kettle upon the stove rose sharp and strident to 
the ear. Seven white faces, all turned upward 
to this man who dominated them, were set mo- 
tionless with utter terror. Then, with a sudden 
shivering of glass, a bristle of glistening rifle 
barrels broke through each window, while the 
curtains were torn from their hangings. 

At the sight Boss McGinty gave the roar of 
a woxmded bear and plunged for the half -opened 
door. A leveled revolver met him there with the 
stem blue eyes of Captain Marvin of the Mine 
Police gleaming behind the sights. The Boss re^ 
coiled and fell back into his chair. 



"You're safer there, Councilor," said the man 
whom they had known as McMurdo. "And you, 
Baldwin, if you don't take your hand off your 
pistol, you'll cheat the hangman yet. Pull it out, 
or by the Lord that made me- — There, that 
will do. There are forty armed men round this 
house, and you can figure it out for yourself what 
chance you have. Take their pistols, Marvin!" 

There was no possible resistance under the 
menace of those rifles. The men were disarmed. 
Sulky, sheepish, and amazed, they still sat round 
the table. 

"I'd like to say a word to you before we sep- 
arate," said the man who had trapped them. "I 
guess we may not meet again until you see me 
on the stand in the courthouse. I'll give you 
something to think over between now and then. 
You know me now for what I am. At last I can 
put my cards on the table. I am Birdy Edwards 
of Pinkerton's. I was chosen to break up youf 
gang. I had a hard and dangerous game to play. 
Not a soul, not one soul, not my nearest and 
dearest, knew that I was playing it. Only Cap- 
tain Marvin here and my employers knew that. 


But it's over tonight, thank Grod, and I am the 
winner I" 

The seven pale, rigid faces looked up at him. 
There was unappeasable hatred in their eyes. He 
read the relentless threat. 

**Maybe you think that the game is not over 
yet. Well, I take my chance of that. Anyhow, 
some of you will take no further hand, and there 
are sixty more besides yourselves that will see a 
jail this night. I'll tell you this, that when I was 
put upon this job I never believed there was such 
a society as yours. I thought it was paper talk, 
and that I would prove it so. They told me it was 
to do with the Freemen; so I went to Chicago 
and was made one. Then I was surer than ever 
that it was just paper talk; for I found no harm 
in the society, but a deal of good. 

"Still, I had to carry out my job, and I came 
to the coal valleys. When I reached this place 
I learned that I was wrong and that it wasn't a 
dime novel after all. So I stayed to look after 
it. I never killed a man in Chicago. I never 
minted a dollar in my life. Those I gave you 
were as good as any others; but I never spent 
money better. But I knew the way into your 



good wishes, and so I pretended to you that the 
law was after me. It all worked just as I 

''So I joined your infernal lodge, and I took 
my share in your councils. Maybe they will say 
that I was as bad as you. They can say what 
they like, so long as I get you. But what is the 
truth? The night I joined you beat up old man 
Stanger. I could not warn him, for there was 
no time; but I held your hand, Baldwin, when 
you would have killed him. If ever I have sug- 
gested things, so as to keep my place among you, 
they were things which I knew I could prevent. 
I could not save Dunn and Menzies, for I did 
not know enough; but I will see that their mur- 
derers are hanged. I gave Chester Wilcox warn- 
ing, so that when I blew his house in he and his 
folk were in hiding. There was many a crime 
that I could not stop ; but if you look back and 
think how often your man came home the other 
road, or was down in town when you went for 
him, or stayed indoors when you thought he 
would come out, you*ll see my work." 

"You blasted traitor 1" hissed McGinty through 
his closed teeth. 


"Aye, John McGinty, you may call me that 
if it eases your smart. You and your like have 
been the enemy of God and man in these parts. 
It took a man to get between you and the poor 
devils of men and women that you held under 
your grip. There was just one way of doing it, 
and I did it. You call me a traitor ; but I guess 
there's many a thousand will call me a deliverer 
that went down into hell to save them. I've had 
three months of it. I wouldn't have three such 
months again if they let me loose in the treasury 
at Washington for it I had to stay till I had 
it all, every man and every secret right here m 
this hand. I'd have waited a little longer if it 
hadn't come to my knowledge that my secret was 
coming out. A letter had come into the town 
that would have set you wise to it all. Then I 
had to act and act quickly. 

"I've nothing more to say to you, except that 
when my time comes I'll die the easier when I 
think of the work I have done in this valley. 
Now, Marvin, I'll keep you no more. Take 
them in and get it over." 

There is little more to tell. Scanlan had been 
given a sealed note to be left at the address of 



Miss Ettie Shafter, a mission which he had ac« 
cepted with a wink and a knowing smile. In the 
early hours of the morning a beautiful woman 
and a much muffled man boarded a special train 
which had been sent by the railroad company, and 
made a swift, imbroken journey out of the land 
of danger. It was the last time that ever either 
Ettie or her lover set foot in the Valley of Fear. 
Ten days later they were married in Chicago, 
with old Jacob Shafter as witness of the wed- 

The trial of the Scowrers was held far from 
the place where their adherents might have ter* 
rifled the guardians of the law. In vain they 
struggled. In vain the money of the lodge — 
money squeezed by blackmail out of the whole 
countryside — ^was spent like water in the attempt 
to save them. That cold, clear, unimpassioned 
statement from one who knew every detail of 
their lives, their organization, and their crimes 
was unshaken by all the wiles of their defend- 
ers. At last after so many years they were 
broken and scattered. The cloud was lifted for- 
ever from the valley. 

McGinty met his fate upon the scaffold, cring- 


ing and whining when the last hour came. Eight 
of his chief followers idiared his fate. Fifty-odd 
luul vmou. degree of impmomnent. The work 
of Birdy Edwards was complete. 

And yet, as he had guessed, the game was not 
over yet. There was another hand to be played, 
and yet another and another. Ted Baldwin, for 
one, had escaped the scaffold; so had the Wil- 
labys ; so had several others of the fiercest sph-its 
of the gang. For ten years they were out of the 
world, and then came a day when they were free 
once more, — ^a day which Edwards, who knew 
his men, was very sure would be an end of his 
life of peace. They had sworn an oath on all that 
they thought holy to have his blood as a ven- 
geance for their comrades. And well they strove 
to keep their vow I 

From Chicago he was chased, after two at- 
tempts so near success that it was sure that the 
third would get him. From Chicago he went 
under a changed name to California, and it was 
there that the light went for a time out of his 
life when Ettie Edwards died. Once again he 
was nearly killed, and once again under the name 
of Douglas he worked in a lonely canyon, where 



with an English partner named Barker he 
amassed a fortune. At last there came a warn- 
ing to hun that the bloodhounds were on his track 
once more, and he cleared— only just in time — 
for England. And thence came the John Doug- 
las who for a second tune married a worthy mate, 
and lived for five years as a Sussex county gen- 
tleman, a life which ended with the strange hap- 
penings of which we have heard. 



THE police trial had passed, in which the 
case of John Douglas was referred to a 
higher court. So had the Quarter Sessions, at 

which he was acquitted as having acted in self- 

"Get him out of England at any cost," wrote 
Holmes to the wife, "There are forces here 
which may be more dangerous than those he has 
escaped. There is no safety for your husband 
in England." 

Two months had gone by, and the case had to 
some extent passed from our minds. Then one 
morning there came an enigmatic note slipped 
into our letterbox. "Dear me, Mr. Holmes. 
Dear me I" said this singular epistle. There was 
neither superscription nor signature. I laughed 
at the quaint message; but Holmes showed un- 
wonted seriousness. 

"Deviltry, Watson!" he remarked, and sat long 
with a clouded brow. 

J^ate last night Mrs. Hudson, our landlady, 



brought up a message that a gentleman wished 
to see Hohnes, and that the matter was of the 
utmost importance. Close at the heels of his 
messenger came Cecil Barker, our friend of t&e 
moated Manor House. His face was drawn and 

"IVe had bad news — ^terrible news, Mr. 
Holmes/' said he. 

^'I feared as much/' said Holmes. 

"You have not had a cable, have you?*' 

"I have had a note from someone who has." 

"It's poor Douglas. They tell me his name is 
Edwards ; but he will always be Jack Douglas of 
Benito Canyon to me. I told you that they 
started together for South Africa in the Palmyra 
three weeks ago." 


"The ship reached Cape Town last night. I 
received this cable from Mrs. Douglas this morn- 

"Jack has been lost overboard in gale off St. 
Helena. No one knows how accident occurred. 

"Ivy Douglas." 

"Ha! It came like that, did it?" said Holmes 
thoughtfully. "Well, I've no doubt it was well 


"You mean that you think there was no acci- 
dent ?" 

"None in the world." 

"He was murdered?" 


"So I think also. These infernal Scowrers, 
this cursed vindictive nest of criminals " 

"No, no, my good sir," said Holmes. "There 
is a master hand here. It is no case of sawed-off 
shotguns and clumsy six-shooters. You can tell 
an old master by the sweep of his brush. I can 
tell a Moriarty when I see one. This crime is 
from London, not from America." 

"But for what motive?" 

"Because it is done by a man who cannot af* 
ford to fail, one whose whole unique position de- 
pends upon the fact that aU he does must sue- 
ceed. A great brain and a huge organization 
have been turned to the extinction of one man. 
It is crushing the nut with the triphammer,— 
an absiurd extravagance of energy, — ^but the nut 
is very effectually crushed all the same." 

"How came this man to have anjrthing to do 
with it?" 

"I can only say that the first word that ever 
6ame to us of the business was from one of his 



lieutenants. These Americans were well advised. 
Having an English job to do, they took into 
partnership, as any foreign criminal could do, 
this great consultant in crime. From that mo- 
ment their man was doomed. At first he would 
content himself by using his machinery in order 
to find their victim. Then he would indicate how 
the matter might be treated. Finally, when he 
read in the reports of the failure of this agent, 
he would step in himself with a master touch. 
You heard me warn this man at Birlstone Manor 
House that the coming danger was greater than 
the past. Was I right?" 

Barker beat his head with his clenched fist in 
his impotent anger. "Do you tell me that we 
have to sit down under this? Do you say that no 
one can ever get level with this king de^r 

"No, I don't say that," said Holmes, and his 
eyes seemed to be looking far into the future. 
"I don't say that he can't be beat. But you 
must give me time — ^you must give me time I" 

We all sat in silence for some minutes while 
those fateful eyes still strained to pierce the veiL