by Barton W. Currie
[Illustration: HIS GAZE HAD WANDERED TO THE GREAT CHEST, THE LID OF
WHICH WAS DISTINCTLY RISING.]
BARTON W. CURRIE &AUGUSTIN McHUGH
A. L. BURT COMPANY
Copyright, 1912, By The H. K. Fly Company
CHAPTER I. A
CHAPTER II. MR.
HOGG ENTERS THE
OFFICER 666 ON
CHAPTER VII. THE
ART, MYSTERY AND
CHAPTER IX. THE
CHAPTER X. THE
GETS A THRILL.
CHAPTER XVI. THE
SADIE BECOMES A
HELEN LEAVES AN
TO THE RESCUE.
GOES IN SEARCH
CHAPTER XXII. A
OLD GRIM BARNES
GETS A THRILL.
AUNTIE TAKES THE
PHELAN MEETS HIS
AN INSTANCE OF
CHAPTER XXIX. IN
WHICH THE HERO
IS KEPT ON THE
OUT OF HIS
CHAPTER XXXI. A
VISIT TO THE
IN WHICH BLUFF
BIG MUCH POLICE.
PHELAN LOSES HIS
REPARTEE AND A
THE IRON IS HOT.
CHAPTER XLI. THE
CHAPTER I. A GRAPEFRUIT PRELUDE.
Splash! The grapefruit hit her in the eye!
Splash! His psychic wave was dashed to smithereens!
Oh! Oh! the two girls screamed in unison.
D! the young man sitting near ejaculated.
For ten minutes there in the Oak Room of the Ritz-Carlton he had
been hurling across the narrow intervening space this mental command to
the girl facing him:
Look here! Look at me! Let me see your eyes! Look here!
For half that time she had been conscious of his insistent gaze and
his message. But with as much will power as he himself displayed she
bent her head over her plate and sent back along his telepathic
transmission this reply:
I won't! I won't!
But she was weakening.
Sadie, she said to her companion, I do awfully want to look up. I
want to see who is looking at me so fiercely. I can just feel it all
through me. Of course it wouldn't be proper, would it?
Well, that all depends on who is looking at you, dear, doesn't it?
If it were some horrid old man
No, it doesn't feel a bit like that, Sadie. I don't know just how
to explain itreally it isn't unpleasant at all.
Why, Helen! And you engaged and going to elo
Hush, Sadie, you mustn't say that in here. Somebody mightbut I
positively cannot keep my eyes down another moment. I'm
A vicious little jab of the spoon and there followed a disastrous
geysera grapefruit geyser.
With a smothered little cry of pain Helen's eyes shut tight and she
groped for her napkin. And to make a good job of it the Fates dragged
in at that moment Helen's guardian aunt, the tall and statuesque Mrs.
Elvira Burton of Omaha, Neb.
The young man who had failed so signally in what was perhaps his
maiden effort at hypnotism viciously seized all the change the waiter
proffered on the little silver tray, flung it back with a snarl, got up
and stamped out of the room.
He was a mighty good looking chap, smartly attired, and if you care
for details, he wore a heliotrope scarf in which there gleamed a superb
black pearl for which he had paid a superb price.
Can you beat it! he muttered as he climbed the stairs to the lobby
and mingled with the throng that stood about in stiff groups, idly
chattering and looking as if they bored one another to the verge of
Can you beat it! he exclaimed again, fairly biting off the words.
So vehemently occupied was he with his chagrin and annoyance that he
stamped heavily upon the pet corn of a retired rear admiral, rudely
bumped a Roumanian duchess, kicked the pink poodle of a famous prima
donna and brought up with a thud against the heroic brawn and muscle of
the house detective, who stood as solidly in the middle of the lobby as
if he had taken root somewhere down in the foundations.
Can I beat what? asked the house detective frigidly.
My, but he was an angry young man, and he fairly snarled at the
magnificent individual he had collided with:
Beat a drum, beat an egg, beat around the bushgo as far as you
likebeat your grandmother if you prefer!
The granite faced house detective was not used to that sort of
treatment; furthermore it distinctly galled him to be asked to beat his
grandmother, whom he recalled as an estimable old lady who made an odd
noise when she ate soup, owing to an absence of teeth.
What's that you said about my grandmother? he said, bridling.
Bother your grandmother, shot back the insolent retort, whereat
the lordly house detective plucked the young man by the arm.
Staggerin' an' loony talk don't go in the Ritz, he said under his
breath. You've been havin' too much.
Preposterous! exclaimed the young man, vainly endeavoring to shake
his arm free.
Are you a guest of the house? demanded the immaculately garbed
minion of the Ritz.
I am, so kindly remove the pair of pincers you are crushing my arm
What's your name?
I don't knowthat is, I've forgotten.
Now I know you need lookin' after. Come over here to the desk.
The house detective had manifested no more outward passion than a
block of ice, and so adroit was he in marching the young man to the
desk that not an eye in the lobby was attracted to the little scene.
The young man was at first inclined to make a fuss about it and
demand an abject apology for this untoward treatment. The absurdity of
his predicament, however, stirred his sense of humor and he was meekly
docile when his captor arraigned him at the desk and addressed one of
Do you know this young man, Mr. Horton?
Why, yes, Reaganthis is Mr. Smithwhy
That's itSmith! cried the young man. How could I ever forget
that name? Thomas Smith, isn't it, Mr. Horton, or is it James?
Thomas, of course; at least that's the way you registered, Mr.
SmithThomas Smith and valet. The clerk's eyebrows started straight
up his head.
Thomas Smith, exactly. Now are you satisfied, Mr. House Detective,
or do you want to go up and examine my luggage? Having convinced you
that I am a registered guest, how would you like to have me walk a
chalk line and convince you that I am sober?
The house detective froze up tighter than ever, pivoted on his heel
and walked majestically away.
What is the trouble, Mr. Smith? asked the clerk deferentially, for
he was a better student of exteriors than John Reagan, twenty years a
precinct detective and retired to take up the haughtier rôle of
plain-clothes man in this most fastidious of metropolitan hostelries.
No trouble at all, old chap, laughed the young man. I lost my
little capri, and then by accident I discovered a stray member
of the herd belonging to yonder Ajax. Some day he's going to turn into
solid marble from the dome down, when you will have a most
extraordinary piece of statuary on your hands. By the way, have there
been any telephone messages for me? I am expecting a very important
I will see, Mr. Smith, said the clerk briskly, and began searching
through the pigeonholes. Yes, Mr. Whitney Barnes called upleft word
he would call up again at 2 sharp. Will you be in your room, sir?
Do you think I'll be safe in my room? asked the young man
Safe! exclaimed the clerk. Why, what do you mean, sir?
Oh, nothing, only Sir Ivory Ajax seems suspicious of me and might
take it into his head to come up and see if I hadn't murdered my valet.
That's all. I'm going to my room now to wait for Mr. Barnes's telephone
call. Kindly be sure that he is connected with my room.
There is something strange about that young fellow,
murmured the clerk as he watched the object of suspicion vanish into
the lift. Though if he is a friend of Whitney Barnes, the clerk added
after a pause, he ought to be all right. I think I'll look him up in
the Social Register.
Which he didwithout enlightenment.
CHAPTER II. MR. HOGG ENTERS THE
Having arrived in the grill room of the Ritz coincident with a
devastating eruption of grapefruit, Mrs. Elvira Burton set out
forthwith to demonstrate that her unexpected advent was likewise
somewhat in the nature of a lemon. Even her smile was acid as she
spread out her rich sable furs and sat down at the table with her two
I have just received a letter from Mr. Hogg, Helen, she began with
a rush, regardless of the anguish that was still evident in Helen's
lovely grapefruit bespattered eyes.
A twinge of something more than mere physical pain twisted the young
girl's features at the mention of the nameHogg.
Oh, auntie, she almost sobbed, can't you leave Mr. Hogg out of my
luncheon. We had him last night for dinner and again this morning for
Helen! exclaimed Mrs. Burton in accents of bitter reproach.
I just won't have him for luncheon, and with all this grapefruit in
my eye, insisted Helen, hotly.
It must hurt terribly, sympathized Mrs. Burton's other pretty
charge, then twisted her head and looked behind her.
What are you looking at, Sadie? demanded Mrs. Burton,
Sadie turned with a start and blushed furiously. She started to
stammer a reply when the less timid cousin came to her rescue.
Some ridiculous man was trying to flirt with us and we were both
awfully nervous. I suppose Sadie looked to see if you had
frightened him off.
The blushing Sadie was amazed at her cousin's resourcefulness, and
stole a glance from under the curling fuzz of her golden bang to note
the effect produced upon her august guardian and aunt. Mrs. Burton
groped in her mind for some subtlety that might have been contained in
her niece's remark, failed at any plausible solution and then almost
vindictively returned to her original line of attack.
Helen Burton, I must insist that you listen to me. I have broken an
engagement for the matinée with my friend, Mrs. Hobbs-Smathers of
Chicago, for the express purpose of communicating to you the contents
of Mr. Hogg's letter. He informs me, Helen, that you are treating him
scandalously; that you do not pay the slightest attention to his
letters or even answer his telegrams.
Did he say he was getting thinthat would be charming, teased the
Mrs. Burton gasped and the color surged into her cheeks in two
flaming danger signals. The glance she turned upon the mischievously
laughing eyes of her niece was intended to annihilate every vestige of
frivolity. Her ample bosom struggled in its purple velvet casement.
Sadie Burton actually shook in her tiny boots as she pictured her aunt
in one of her hysterical outbursts right there in the midst of a host
of strangers who seemed to the unsophisticated miss from Omaha to
represent the very cream of New York society.
Even Helen was sobered by the gathering storm warnings. The smile
left her curving red lips and the dimples vanished. All that lingered
of her playful humor showed in the impish lights that danced in her
But she was spared the storm. A tiny page, resplendant with myriad
buttons, appeared in the entrance to the Oak Room and lisped the name:
Mith Helen Burthon.
He bore in his arms a bouquet of magnificent orchids. Every eye in
the room focussed upon the tiny flower bearer, among them the wrathful
pair of Mrs. Elvira Burton.
Mith Helen Burthon.
The rage of the older woman had somewhat cooled. She managed to nod
her head haughtily to the boy. He came forward briskly with his
precious burden of blooms and laid them on the table, then
right-about-faced with military precision and marched away.
Now it was Helen Burton's turn to blush and her agitation was as
pretty to see as anything those who continued to stare in her direction
had ever witnessed. Her dimples were positive hollows from which her
blushes seemed to fountain. She did not reach for the bouquet, though,
because her hand trembled so and there was actual fear in her eyes as
she shrank back in her seat and regarded her aunt.
Mrs. Burton was not loath to seize upon any leverage that might give
her sway over her rebellious niece. With a smile that was unequivocally
malicious she slowly raised the bunch of orchids and turned them over.
The bouquet was tied with a delicate mauve satin ribbon that perfectly
matched the gown worn by her niece.
Mrs. Burton looked at the ribbon and then at Helen's dress. There
was accusation in the glance. Her eyes studied the orchids. They were
of a peculiar rich golden brown, matching the splendor of Miss Burton's
hair. There was conviction in the second glance. She turned the bouquet
over several times, looking for a card.
There was none.
Now, here was a mystery! Could Miss Helen explain? Mrs. Burton
inhaled a deep breath, then said with exaggerated sweetness:
Helen, dear, who could have sent you these beautiful flowers? They
are positively superb. He must certainly be an artist.
Great as was her first panic, the young girl quickly rallied to her
own defense. She had only waited to be sure there was no card, no
incriminating mark of identification. She leaned forward on her elbows,
sighed rapturously and exclaimed:
Aren't they exquisite, Aunt El!
I asked you, Helen dear, who could have sent them? There was
something distinctly feline in the purring tones as the question was
Why, isn't there any card, Aunt El? fenced the girl.
Come, come, my dear, why keep me in suspense? You can see there is
no card. Can it be one of the young men we met at the Grangers last
night? I hardly think so, for it is execrably bad form to send flowers
to a public dining room by a page in buttons.
Helen shook her head and assumed an air of great perplexity. She
stole a glance across the table at Sadie, but that shy little cousin
seemed on the verge of tears. Mrs. Burton intercepted the wireless
appeal and shifted her cross-questioning to Sadie. She was determined
to unravel the mystery. She read Sadie's panic as a symptom of guilty
But Sadie was loyal to the cousin and chum she adored and proved
surprisingly game under fire. Indeed, she succeeded in breaking down
her aunt's cross-examination and bringing the inquest to ruins by
suddenly clapping her hands and blurting:
Maybe Mr. Hogg sent them by telegraph.
The outrageous absurdity of the statement gave it cataclysmic force.
Helen embraced Sadie with her eyes and then added her own broadside:
That really was splendid of him, Auntie El? Now you can tell me all
about his letter.
I will reserve that until later, said Mrs. Burton, icily. If you
have finished your luncheon, Helen, please pay the check and we shall
CHAPTER III. WHITNEY BARNES UNDER
Joshua Barnes, sometimes referred to in the daily press as Old Grim
Barnes, the mustard millionaire, turned suddenly upon his son and
Why don't you get married?
That's just it, paterwhy don't I? replied the young man,
Well, why don't you, then? stormed Joshua Barnes, banging his fist
down upon the mahogany table. It's time you did.
Another bang lifted the red-headed office boy in the next room clear
out of Deep Blood Gulch just as Derringer Dick was rescuing the
beautiful damsel from the Apaches. Even Miss Featherington dropped The
Mystery of the Purple Room on the floor and made a wild onslaught on
the keys of her typewriter.
Whitney Barnes smiled benevolently upon his parent and nonchalantly
lighted a cigarette.
As I've said before, he parried easily between the puffing of
smoke rings, I haven't found the girl.
Dod rot the girl, started Joshua Barnes, then stopped.
Now, you know, my dear father, that I couldn't treat my wife like
that. The trouble with you, pater, is that you reason from false
Nothing of the sort, choked out Barnes senior. You know well
enough what I mean, young man. You have any number ofofwell,
eligible young ladies, to choose from. You go everywhere and meet
everybody. And you spend my money like water.
Somebody has got to spend it, spoke up the sole heir to the
mustard millions, cheerfully. I'll tell you what I'll do, pateryou
stop making it and I'll stop spending it. That's a bargain. It'll be a
great lark for us both. It keeps me awake nights figuring out how I'm
going to spend it and it keeps you awake nights puzzling over how you
can make itor, that is, make more of it.
Stop! thundered Joshua Barnes. For once in my life,
Whitney Barnes, I am going to have a serious talk with you. If your
poor mother had only lived all this wouldn't have been necessary. She'd
have had you married off and there'd be a houseful of grand-children by
this time, and
Just a moment, paterdid triplets or that sort of thing ever run
in our family?
Certainly not! What are you driving at?
Nothing; nothing, my father. Only I was just wondering. We have a
pretty big house, you know.
For a moment Joshua Barnes seemed on the verge of apoplexy, but he
came around quickly, and moreover with a twinkle in his eye. Even a
life devoted to mustard has its brighter side and Old Grim Barnes was
not entirely devoid of a sense of humor. He was his grim old self
again, however, when he resumed:
Again I insist that you be serious. I intend that you shall be
married within a year. Otherwise I will put you to work on a salary of
ten dollars a week and compel you to live on it. If you persist in
refusing to interest yourself in my business, the business that my
grandfather founded and that my father and I built up, you can at least
settle down and lead a respectable married life.
To be candid with you, Whitney, and Joshua Barnes's big voice
suddenly softened, I want to see some little grand-children round me
before I die. I have some pride of blood, my boy, and I want to see our
name perpetuated. You have frivolled enough, Whitney. You are
twenty-four. I can honestly thank God that you've been nothing more
than a fool. You are not vicious.
Thanks, awfully, pater. Being nothing more than a fool I suppose it
is up to me to get married. Very well, then, I will. Give me your hand,
dad; it's a bargain.
Whitney Barnes tossed away his cigarette and grasped his father's
hand in both of his. He had become intensely serious. There was a depth
of affection in that handclasp that neither father nor son permitted to
show above the surface. Yet both felt it keenly within. Picking up his
hat and stick, the tall, slim, graceful young man said:
You have no further commands on the subject, dad? Do you want to
pick the girl, or will you leave it to the taste and sometimes good
judgment of a fool?
Haven't you any one in mind, son? asked Joshua Barnes, anxiously.
Absolutely not one, pater. You see, the trouble is that I can't
ever seem to get real chummy with a girl but what her mother has to
come and camp on my trail and scare me into fits. You haven't the least
idea what a catch your son is, Joshua Barnes. Why, a mother-in-law
looks to me like something in petticoats that comes creeping up with a
catlike tread, carrying in one hand a net and in the other a bale-hook.
I can't sit out two dances with a debutante before this nightmare is
looking over my shoulder, grinning like a gargoyle and counting up the
number of millions you are going to leave me.
Oh, bosh! ejaculated Joshua Barnes. It's all in your fool
imagination. Grow up and be a man, Whitney. You have given me your word
and I expect you to make good. And by the way, son, there is my old
friend Charley Calker's girl, just out of college. I hear she's a
Mary Calker is a stunner, dad, and then a trifle. But I regret to
say that she is too fresh from the cloistered halls of learning. You
see I have been out of college three years and have managed to forget
such a jolly lot that I really couldn't talk to her. She'd want me to
make love in Latin and correspond in Greek. Worse than that, she
understands Browning. No, poor Mary will have to marry a prescription
clerk, or a florist or something else out of the classics. But, don't
lose heart, pater, I may be engaged before night. By-by.
It was a vastly more solemn Whitney Barnes who strolled out of the
office of the mustard magnate and dragged his feet through the anteroom
where sat Marietta Featherington and Teddie O'Toole. The comely Miss
Featherington could scarcely believe what she saw from under her
This good looking, dandified young man, with his perpetual smile and
sparkling gray eyes had long been her conception of all that was noble
and cultured and aristocratic. He was her Viscount Reginald Vere de
Vere, speaking to her as from between yellow paper covers. He was her
prince incognito who fell in love with Lily, the Lovely Laundress. He
had threaded the mazes of more than one of her palpitating dreams, and
in her innermost heart of hearts she had cherished the fond belief that
one day their orbs would meet and their souls would rush together in
such a head-on collision as is sometimes referred to as love at first
sight. But in Miss Featherington's hero worship gloom had no part. Her
ideals never ceased to smile, whether they slew or caressed, and
perpetually they carried themselves with a jaunty swing or a dashing
The fact that there had been storm mutterings within the awful cave
of Old Grim Barnes had never before had a depressing effect upon her
hero. He had always sallied forth with airy tread, humming a tune or
laughing with his eyes. What could have happened at this fateful
meeting? Perhaps he had been disinherited. Rapture of raptures, he had
confessed his love for some howling beauty of humble station, had been
cut off with the inevitable shilling and was now going forth to earn
Marietta Featherington's heart came up and throbbed in her throat as
Whitney Barnes suddenly wheeled and confronted her. Leaning back upon
his cane, he looked at hervery, very solemnly.
Miss Featherington, he pronounced slowly, I wish to ask you a
question. May I?
Marietta was sure that her puffs were on fire, so fierce was the
heat that blazed under her fair skin. She concentrated all her mental
forces in an effort to summon an elegant reply. But all she could get
out was a stifled:
Thank you, Miss Featherington, said the young man. My question is
this: Do you believe in soul mates? That is, do you, judging from what
you have observed and any experience you may have had, believe that
true love is controlled by the hand of Fate or that you yourself can
take hold and guide your own footsteps in affairs of the heart?
Teddie O'Toole had crammed Deep Blood Gulch into his hip pocket
and was grinning from ear to ear.
Miss Featherington was positive that her puffs were all ablaze. She
could almost smell them burning. She looked down and she looked up and
she drew a long, desperate sigh.
I believe in Fate! she said with emotion that would have done
honor to Sarah Bernhardt.
Thank you, Miss Featherington, said Whitney Barnes, with profound
respect, then turned on his heel and went out into the corridor of the
great office building.
Unconsciously he had dealt a ruthless blow and there is not a
scintilla of doubt but that he was responsible for the box on the ears
that made Teddie O'Toole's head ring for the remainder of the day and
thereby took all the flavor from the thrills he had found in Deep
CHAPTER IV. SMILES AND TEARS.
Now there is no use in your arguing, SadieI love him and I have
given him my promise.
The two cousins were alone again speeding up Fifth avenue in an
automobile, a long-bodied foreign car that had been put at the disposal
of Mrs. Burton by the New York agent of Mr. Hogg. The Omaha suitor for
the hand of the fair Helen had also thrown in a red-headed French
chauffeur, which is travelling a bit in the matter of chauffeurs. But
as he understood only automobile English it was a delightful
arrangement for Helen and Sadie, and permitted them absolute freedom of
speech while riding behind him.
If I had only known him longer, or had been introduced to him
differently, sighed Sadie.
But haven't I known all about him for years? protested Helen
Burton. Of course, we were only school girls when he made that
wonderful rescue at Narragansett Pier. Don't you remember how we rushed
down to the beach to see him, but got there just too late? He had gone
out to his yacht or something. Oh, it was just splendid, Sadie. And he
is so wonderfully modest about it. Why, when I reminded him of his
heroism he pretended to have forgotten all about it. Just imagine Mr.
Hogg forgetting a thing like that! Do you know what Jabez Hogg would do
under similar circumstances, Sadie Burton? Well, I'll tell youhe'd
hire the biggest hall in Omaha and reproduce the whole thing with
moving pictures as an advertisement for his beef canneries.
The young girl had worked herself into a passion and was making
savage little gestures with her clenched fists.
But what I can't understand, Helen dear, is why a man like Travers
Gladwin should make such a mystery of himself and try to avoid
introducing you to his friends. I am sure, persisted Sadie, despite
the gathering anger in her companion's eyes, that Aunt Elvira would
not object to him. You know she is just crazy to break into the swim
here in New York, and the Gladwins are the very best of people. I think
it wouldn't take much to urge her even to throw over Mr. Hogg for
Gladwin, if you'd only let her take charge of the wedding.
Nothing of the sort, denied Helen hotly. Aunt Elvira is bound on
her solemn word of honor to Mr. Hogg. She will fight for him to the
last ditch, though she knows I hate him.
Don't you think, Helen, said the younger girl, more soberly, that
you are simply trying to make yourself look at it that way? I know Mr.
Hogg isn't a pretty man and he has an awful name, but
There is no but about it, Sadie Burton. I have given my word to
Travers Gladwin and I am going to elope with him to-night. I packed my
trunk this morning and gave the porter $10 to take it secretly to the
Grand Central Station. Travers told me just how to arrange it. Oh,
there's his house now, Sadie; the big white one on the corner. It just
thrills me to go by it. On our way back from Riverside Drive we must
stop there. I must leave word that auntie insists on our going to the
opera and that I won't be able to get to him at the time we agreed.
Oh, I do wish something would turn up and prevent it, cried
Sadie, almost in tears.
You horrid little thing! retorted Helen. It is dreadful of you to
talk like that when you know how much I care for him.
It isn't that I don't think you care for him, returned Sadie with
trembling lip. It's something inside of me that warns me. All this
secrecy frightens me. I can't understand why a man of Travers Gladwin's
wealth and social position would want to do such a thing.
But we both have tried to tell you, insisted Helen, that there is
an important business reason for it.
He didn't tell what that reason was, persisted the tearfully
stubborn cousin. You admitted he didn't give you any definite reason
Helen Burton stamped her foot and bit her lip. By this time the big
touring car was gliding through the East Drive of Central Park with the
swift, noiseless motion that denotes the highest development of the
modern motor vehicle. Fully a mile of the curving roadway had slid
under the wheels of the car before Helen resumed the conversation with
the sudden outburst:
You don't doubt for an instant, Sadie, that he is a gentleman!
Sadie made no reply.
His knowledge of painting and art is simply wonderful. At that art
sale, where we met, he knew every painting at a glance. He didn't even
have to look for the signatures. You know, if it hadn't been for him I
would have bought that awful imitation Fragonard and just thrown away
two months of my allowance. Sadie Burton, he is the cleverest man I
ever met. He has travelled everywhere and knows everything, and I love
him, I love him, I love him! In proof of which the charming young
woman burst into tears and took refuge in her vast muff.
This sentimental explosion was too much for tender-hearted Sadie.
She gave way completely and swore not to breathe another word in
opposition to the elopement. And as she felt her beloved cousin's body
shaken with sobs, she forced herself to go into ecstasies over Travers
Gladwin's manly beauty and god-like intellect. In her haste to soothe
she went to extravagant lengths and cried:
And he must have looked heavenly in his bathing suit when he made
that wonderful rescue.
Down fell Helen's muff with as much of a crash as a muff could make
and she turned upon her companion the most profoundly shocked
expression of a bride-about-to-be.
Sadie, she reproved stiffly, you have gone far enough.
Whereupon it was Sadie's turn to seek the sanctuary of tears.
CHAPTER V. WHITNEY BARNES TELEPHONES
TO THE RITZ.
Glancing up into the solemn face of an unusually good-looking young
man who wore his silk hat at a jaunty angle and whose every detail of
attire suggested that he was of that singularly blessed class who toil
not neither do they spin, Miss Mamie McCorkle, public telephone
operator in the tallest-but-one skyscraper below the Fulton street dead
line, expected to be asked to look up some number in the telephone book
and be generously rewarded for the trifling exertion. It wasn't any
wonder, then, that she broke the connections of two captains of
industry and one get-rich-quick millionaire when this was what she got:
Suppose, my dear young lady, that you had a premonitiona hunch, I
might saythat you were destined this current day of the calendar week
to meet your Kismet in petticoats, wouldn't it make you feel a bit
hollow inside and justify you in taking your first drink before your
customary hour for absorbing the same?
Usually a live wire at repartee, Mamie McCorkle was stumped. With a
captain of industry swearing in each ear and the get-rich-quick
millionaire trying to break in with his more artistic specialties in
profanity, she was for a moment frozen into silence. When she did come
to the surface, she set the captains of industry down where they
belonged, retorted upon the get-rich-quick millionaire that he was no
gentleman and she hoped he would inform the manager she said so and
then raised her eyebrows at the interrogator who leaned against her
If that's an invitation to lunch, No! I'm already dated,
she said. If you're trying to kid me, ring off, the line is busy.
All of which, said the young man, in the same slow, sober voice,
is sage counsel for the frivolous. I am not. As you look like a very
sensible young woman, I put a sensible question to you. Perhaps my
language was vague. What I meant to convey was: do you think I would be
justified in taking a drink at this early hour of the day to brace me
for the ordeal of falling in love with an unknown affinity?
If your language is personal, replied Miss McCorkle, with a
sarcastic laugh, my advice is to take six drinks. I'm in love with a
Good, said the young man, brightly, and may I ask if it was a
sudden or a swift affair?
Swift, snapped Miss McCorkle. He ran over my stepmother, then
brought her home. I let him in. We were engaged next day. Here's the
ring, one and one-half carats, white!now, what number do you want?
A thousand thanksget me the Ritz-Carlton, please, and don't break
this ten-dollar bill. I hate change, it spoils the set of one's
As Whitney Barnes squeezed himself into the booth, Miss McCorkle
squinted one eye at the crisp bill he had laid before her and smiled.
There's more than one way, she thought, of being asked not to
listen to dove talk, and I like this method best.
The shrewd hello girl, however, had erred in the case of Whitney
Barnes, for this is the way his end of the conversation in booth No. 7
This the Ritz? Yes. Kindly connect me with Mr. Smith.
What Smith? Newest one you got. Forget the first name. Thomas
Smith, you say. Well, give me Tom.
Hello, there, Travthat is, Tom, or do you prefer Thomas?
What's that? Came in by way of Boston on a Cunarder? What's all
the row? Read you were in Egypt, doing the pyramids.
Can't explain over the wire, eh. Hope it isn't a divorce case;
Ought to know you better than that. Say, what's the matter with
your little angora?
Be serious; it's no joking matter. Well, if it wasn't serious how
could I joke about it? You can't joke about a joke.
I'm a fool! I wonder where I heard that before. Oh, yesa few
minutes ago. My paternal parent said the same thing.
Can I meet you at your house? Where is it? I ought to know? I
don't see why, you keep building it over all the time and then go way
and leave it for two years at a stretch. Then when you do come home you
go and live under the
Cut that out! My glory, but there is a mystery here.
Certainly, I don't want to spoil everything.
Have I an engagement? I should say I have. Just you call up Joshua
Barnes and ask for the dope on ita whole flock of engagements bunched
into one large contract, the biggest I ever tackled.
No, I guess it won't prevent me from meeting you. Not unless I
happen to see her on the way uptown.
Blessed if I know her any more than you. Wish I did, but whoever
she is she's got to be pretty awful horrible nice.
Have I been drinking? No; but you better have one ready for me.
Seen any of the chaps at the club? What's that? You gave it a wide
berth. This is beginning to sound like a detective novel or a breach of
You don't tell me. Really, I'd never looked at myself in that
light before. Sure, I'm stuck on myself. Head over heels in love with
myself. I'm a classy little party, I am, and you better make the best
of me while I'm here. Where am I going? Nowhere in particular. Just
going to merge my individuality, bite a chunk out of an apple and get
kicked out of the Garden of Eden.
Now you're sure I'm piffled. No such luck. Travthat is, Mr.
SmithMr. Thomas Smith! Shall I ask for Smith when I drop up at that
little marble palace of yours? No. Oh, Bateato will be there if you
happen to be delayed. How is the little son of Nippon? Oh, that's good.
Five sharp. Tata, Smitty, old chap. By Jove, he's rung off with a
CHAPTER VI. OFFICER 666 ON PATROL.
Michael Phelan had been two years on the force and considered
himself a very fly young man. He had lost something of his romantic
outline during the six months he pounded the Third avenue pave past two
breweries and four saloons to a block, and it was at his own request,
made through his mother's second cousin, District Leader McNaught, that
he had been provided with a saloonless beat on Fifth avenue.
A certain blue-eyed, raven-haired nursemaid, who fed a tiny
millionaire with a solid gold spoon and trundled an imported
perambulator along the east walk of Central Park, may have had
something to do with Patrolman Phelan's choice of beat, but he failed
to mention the fact to his mother. He laid it all on the breweries and
the temptations they offered.
Humble as was Michael Phelan's station on the force, he was already
famous from the wooded wastes of Staten Island to the wilds of the
Bronx. Even the graven-featured chief inspector permitted himself to
smile when the name of Michael Phelan was mentioned.
He was a fresh, rosy-cheeked, greener-than-grass probationary cop
when fame came to him all in one clap and awoke a thunderous roll of
laughter throughout the city.
It was his first detail on the lower east side in the precinct
commanded from the Eldridge street station. The time was July and the
day was a broiler. He was sitting in the reserve room playing dominoes
with the doorman and mopping his forehead with a green bandana when the
captain sent for him.
Phelan, said the captain shortly, there's a lady dead without a
doctor at 311 Essex street, three flights up, rear. They've told the
Coroner's Office, but all the Coroners are busy. The corpse is a lone
widow lady with no kin, so you go up and take charge and wait for the
Officer 666 tipped his cap with military salute and set out. Turning
the corner into Essex street, he met plain-clothes man Tim Feeney, who
stopped him and asked him where he was bound. Michael Phelan explained
and then said:
Tim, if you don't mind, will you give me a tip? What do I do when I
get up to that flat, and how long will I have to wait?
You'll have to wait, Mike, replied Tim Feeney, till the Coroner
gets good and ready to come. When you get to the flat don't knock; walk
right in. Then sit down by the bed and wait. Be sure you keep the door
shut and let no soul in till the Coroner arrives.
It'll be powerful hot and I'm perishing o' thirst now, said Mike.
Take off your coat, said Tim, and send a kid for a can of beer.
When you hear the Coroner comin' slip the can under the bed.
Tim Feeney went on his way with his hand over his mouth.
Patrolman Phelan had missed the twinkle in Tim Feeney's eye and a
few minutes later found him sitting beside a bed with his coat off and
a foaming can on the floor by his chair. On his way up the steep,
narrow staircases he had met a boy and sent him for the liquid
refreshment. He had instructed the lad where to deliver the beer and
had gone quietly in to his unpleasant vigil.
The door he opened led directly into the bedroom. He had glanced
once at the bed and then looked away with a shudder. Perspiration
fairly cascaded down his flaming cheeks as he tiptoed to a chair and
placed it beside the bed. He placed his chair at a slight angle away
from the bed and then fixed his eyes on the opposite wall. When he
heard the tread of the boy in the hall he made a pussy-footed dash for
the door, took in the growler, shut the boy out and buried his face in
the froth. He was in better heart, but still mighty uneasy when he
wiped his mouth on the back of his fist.
Somewhere in the flat a clock ticked dismally. Through two small
open windows puffed superheated gusts of air. The muffled clamor of
many voices in strange tongues sifted through the windows and walls,
but served only to increase the awful stillness in the room. Despite
his efforts to the contrary, Phelan stole a glance at the bed, then
looked away while his heart stopped beating. There was a naked foot
where he had seen only a sheet before.
Mebbe the wind blew it off, he tried to tell himself, but
something inside him rejected the explanation and he felt an icy finger
drawn up and down his spine. Again he plunged his head into the
capacious can and succeeded in reviving his heart action.
More minutes of dreadful suspense passed. A leaden silence had
filled the sweltering room. Even the voices of the tenements had died
away to a funereal murmur. Battle as he did with all his will, Phelan's
eyes were again drawn from their fixed gaze upon the wall, and what he
saw this time induced a strangling sensation.
Three toes had distinctly wiggled.
He withdrew his eyes on the instant and his shaking hand reached
down for the can. His fingers had barely touched it when an awful
shriek rent the air. The shriek came from the bed, and it was followed
by a second yell and then by a third.
Michael Phelan did not open the door as he passed out. It was not a
very strong door and it went down like cardboard before the impact. The
third shriek awoke the echoes just as Officer 666 was coasting down the
stairs on the seat of his departmental trousers. His departmental coat
and his departmental hat were in no way connected with his precipitate
transit. A raging Polish woman brought these details of Michael's
uniform to the Eldridge street station a little later. Likewise she
prefered charges against Phelan that come under the heading of conduct
unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
It was a tremendous trial, in the course of which the Deputy Police
Commissioner who sat in judgment barely missed having a serious stroke.
It was adduced in evidence that Officer 666 had entered the wrong flat,
the Coroner's case being one flight up.
But while the whole town rocked with laughter Michael Phelan failed
to see the joke, and his hatred of Precinct Detective Tim Feeney never
cooled. That he got off with a light sentence of one day's fine did not
in the least improve his humor. He knew he was a marked man from that
day, and it was all his mother could do to urge him to stay on the
In the course of time, however, the sting had worn off and the young
patrolman learned to smile again. His hollow cheeks had filled out
amazingly during the period of the brewery beat and on that late autumn
day when he stepped into the pages of this narrative he looked mighty
good, not only to the raven-haired Rosalind O'Neill but to a host of
other pretty nursemaids who were wheeling their aristocratic little
charges up and down The Avenue.
Nor was Michael Phelan at all unconscious of this as he sauntered
along the broad pavement and gracefully twirled his baton. His chest
jutted out like the breast of a pouter pigeon and he wore the solemnly
self-conscious expression of a peacock on parade.
When he came to the great white square mansion of Travers Gladwin,
he paused and studied it shrewdly with his eye. It was one of the most
important functions of his patrol to study the fronts of all unoccupied
dwellings and see that every window was down and every door was closed.
First he looked into the areaway of the Gladwin home and then his eye
travelled up the wide balustraded stoop to the ornamental bronze doors.
What's this! he gasped in astonishment. Sure, I read in the
papers on'y this morning that Travers Gladwin was in Agypt. 'Tis a bold
thafe who'll go in the front door in broad day, so here's where Mary
Phelan's son makes the grand pinch he's been dreamin' on this six
months back and gets his picture in the papers.
CHAPTER VII. THE LITTLE BROWN JAP.
Patrolman Phelan wrapped his sinewy fist about the handle of his
club with a vicious grip as he proceeded cautiously up the steps. The
heavy bronze door had been left ajar, and he squeezed through without
opening it further, then paused in the vestibule and listened. What he
heard seemed no more than the tread of a spider, and the thought rushed
into his head:
'Tis one of that felt-soled kind. 'Tis tip-toes for Phelan.
He had noted that even the inside door was open, and he swiftly
divined from this that the thief had left it open for his own
convenience or for some other purpose connected with the mysteries of
burglar alarms. Inch by inch the policeman moved across the vestibule
and wriggled through the door into the richly carpeted hallway.
It was with a distinct sense of relief that he felt his heavy boots
sink noiselessly into the deep ply of a precious Daghestan rug. One of
Phelan's boots had a bad creak in it, and he knew that the master crook
who would attempt such a robbery as this would have an acute sense of
It was dark as a pocket down the stretch of the heavily curtained
foyer, save for a meagre shaft of light that came through a slightly
parted pair of portières to the left and not a dozen feet from where he
stood. He strained his ear toward this shaft of light until there came
an unmistakable swish of sound, whereupon he moved forward in short,
When he reached the break in the portières and looked in he was
astonished to see a short little man with shiny black hair deftly
removing the linen covers from chairs and tables and statuary. The
little man had his back to Phelan as the policeman stepped inside, but
he turned in a flash and confronted the intruder with the peculiar
glazed grimness of the Japanese.
Well, what matter? ripped out the little Jap, without moving a
That's what I come to find out, retorted Phelan, with accusing
severity of tone.
How you get in here? retorted the Jap in the same sharp,
I saw ye snakin' in an' ye didn't latch the door after yez,
blurted Phelan, taking a step nearer the Jap and still watching him
with profound suspicion.
What you want? asked the Jap with a slight tremor of apprehension.
Information! cried Phelan. What are yez doin' in here? Phelan's
eye swept the room for some evidence of an attempt to despoil. Though
he saw none he did not relinquish his attitude of suspicion. The Jap
seemed about to speak and then stopped. As Phelan continued to glower
at him, he snapped out:
I no can tell.
Triumph blazed in Phelan's eyes. Now he was sure he had a thief and
he determined to handle the situation with all the majesty of his
So yez can't tell what yez're doin' in this house, he said with
The Jap shook his head emphatically and returned a positive, No
Phelan balanced his club for a moment and strode toward the Jap.
Yez better come with me, he said through compressed lips.
The Jap started back with a frightened exclamation.
You no take me to jail? he uttered, while his yellow features
twitched with fear.
In a minute, replied the elated officer, if yez don't tell me
what yez're doin' here. I've been lookin' out for this place while Mr.
Gladwin was in foreign parts, and
You know Mr. Gladwin? broke in the Jap, excitedly.
No, I ain't never seen him, said Phelan, but I know this is his
house an' I been keepin' my eye on it fer him.
Mr. Gladwinhe my boss! and the Jap grinned from ear to ear.
This solution of the mystery never entered the policeman's head and
he resented the surprise.
Do yez mean yez're his valley? he asked vindictively, refusing to
relinquish his suspicion.
Ees! and again the Jap grinned.
Phelan read the grin as a distinct insult to his intelligence and he
pounced upon the little brown man in an even more caustic tone:
If yez're are Mr. Gladwin's valley, what are ye doin' here an' him
thousands o' miles away across the ocean in Agypt an' Jerusalem an' the
Now it was Phelan's turn to grin as he saw the Jap shrink and turn
upon him a pair of wildly alarmed eyes.
Come! Come! I'm waitin' fer an answer, The cat had his mouse
backed into a corner and mentally licked his chops.
I no can tell, stammered the Jap, desperately.
That's enough! ripped out Officer 666, grabbing the Jap by the
shoulder and yanking him toward the doorway.
Nonowait! gasped the struggling prisoner. You no say if I
tell you, plees?
Tell me first, grunted Phelan, releasing his grip.
The Jap ducked his head in every direction as if fearful that the
walls had ears, then said in an impressive whisper:
My bossMr. Gladwinhome!
Misther Gladwin home! Here in New York! There was both incredulity
and amazement in Phelan's voice.
Ees! bleated the Jap and his grin returned.
Well, why didn't you say so before? said Phelan angrily, at which
the fidgety little brown son of Nippon hastened to explain:
No one should know. He come all in much secret. He go boat to
Boston. No use name. No one know he Mr. Gladwin. He say, 'Bateato'me
Bateato'Bateato,' he say, 'no tell I come homesure,' he say, and
Bateato he no tell.
Officer Phelan yielded to the grip of the mystery and his attitude
toward the Jap changed.
What did he want to snake home that away fer?
I no know, nodded Bateato.
Yez no know, eh? Well, is he comin' here?do yez no know that?
He tell mecome here and waitfeex thees roomhe come here or
The straightforward manner of the little Jap had almost completely
disarmed the policeman's suspicion, but he surrendered reluctantly.
Did he give yez a key to get in here? Phelan fired as his last
Eeshe give me all bunch keyslook! and Bateato produced a gold
key ring with a gold tag and a number of keys attached. Phelan examined
it and read aloud the name Travers Gladwin engraved on the tag. Handing
them back to the Jap, he addressed him impressively, gesturing his
emphasis with his baton:
I guess yez're all right, but I'll have me eye on yez from the
outside, mind thatand if yez're foolin' me or tryin' to get away with
Phelan snapped his lips together and with a mighty lunge plucked an
imaginary prisoner out of the atmosphere and shook it ferociously. Then
stepping back to the doorway he shut one eye with a fierce wink and
Are yez wise?
The profound pantomime was too much for Bateato, who stared after
the vanishing officer in open-mouthed amazement.
CHAPTER VIII. ART, MYSTERY AND LOVE.
The little Jap was still posed in an attitude of bewilderment as the
two outside doors slammed and Officer 666 went down the front steps to
resume the tread of his beat and the breaking of fragile hearts.
When he did emerge from his trance he returned to the task of
getting the great room in order with the same snappy energy he had
displayed when the uniformed minion of the law broke in upon him. He
had removed the covers from the chairs and was dusting off a great
carved chest that stood against the wall to the right of the doorway
when the door bell rang. Bateato jumped and then waited for a second
ring. Stepping warily out into the hallway, he looked to see if it was
the grim official in blue and buttons.
Ha! he exclaimed. No more police, and he shot to the door and
opened it for that debonnair young gentleman who was one day to inherit
the mustard millions of Old Grim Barnes.
Hello there, Bateato, Whitney Barnes greeted the little Jap
cordially. Did your master show up yet?
He no come, grinned Bateato, shutting the door and leading the way
into the room he had been preparing for his master's arrival. As
Whitney Barnes stepped into the room the Jap asked:
'Scuse me, Mr. Barnesyou see Mr. Gladwin?
No, nor his double, Thomas Smith of the Ritz; but he asked me to
meet him here at 5 o'clock, Bateato.
Ees sair! lisped the Jap, with a bob of the head; then dived back
to his occupation of making the long deserted room look presentable.
As Bateato followed his master's friend into the room he switched on
the full glare of electric lights that depended from the ceiling or
blazed through the shades of many lamps. Whitney Barnes blinked for a
moment, and then started as his gaze was directed to the walls hung
The work of Rubens, Rembrandt, Coret, Meissonier, Lely, Cazzin,
Vegas, Fragonard, Reynolds and a score others of the world's greatest
masters leaped across his vision as he turned from wall to wall,
revolving on his heel.
Whew! he ejaculated. I didn't know that Travers went in for this
sort of thing. He certainly is the secretive little oyster when he
wants to be.
Still studying the portraits and landscapes and allegorical groups,
he voiced to Bateato a sudden thought.
By the way, Bateato, do you know what it was that brought your
master back in this strange fashion and the reason for all this
No, sair, responded the Jap.
Well, it's damned peculiar! muttered the young man to himself, and
proceeded on a tour about the room to examine more closely its wealth
of art treasure. He had been engaged in this way about five minutes
when the door bell rang and Bateato cried:
Here Mr. Gladwin now.
How do you know that Bateato? quizzed the young man absently, his
attention being gripped by a stunning aphrodite rising from the sea in
a glory of nudity and rainbows.
The Jap paused a second on his way to the door, and replied:
'Cause no one know he home but Mr. Barnes. Thees house close up
much long time and Mr. Gladwin make papers say he in Egypt.
In the same breath in which he maximed this volley of words the
little Jap projectiled himself from the room.
His deductions are marvellous, said Whitney Barnes, solemnly
addressing a bronze bust of Philip of Macedon. He turned in time to
meet the brisk entrance of Travers Gladwin, alias Thomas Smith of the
The two shook hands warmly and looked into each other's faces with
quizzical smiles. They were about of an age, both unusually good
looking and bearing themselves with that breezy, confident manner that
is characteristic of young men who have been coddled in swan's-down all
Well, well, well, Travers!
Hello, Whitney, old boy!
The greeting sprang from their lips simultaneously, and after he had
tossed his hat and cane to his valet Travers Gladwin continued:
Didn't expect to see me so soon, did you, old scout?
I should say I didn't. Why, when I got that telegram of yours to
call up Thomas Smith at the Ritz it certainly was some jar to my
delicate nervous system.
Travers Gladwin laughed and rubbed his hands.
Did it, though? he cried. Gave you a real thrill, eh?
Exact and specifica real thrill.
Well, you're luckya surprise and a thrill. I'd give anything for
a real surpriseI've hunted this little planet's four corners for one
and failed to connect.
If you can't achieve 'em you seem to be in the business of
manufacturing 'em. Come along now, what's all this thundering mystery.
I'm shot to pieces with curiosity. What's happened to make you come
home like this?
Watkins! replied Travers Gladwin curtly.
Watkins! What Watkins? Who's Watkins?
Watkins is my manI mean, Watkins was my man before I found out
that he was systematically robbing me.
Oh, I remember now. A jolly good servant, though. So he robbed you,
did he? But they all do.
Yes, but they don't always get found outcaught with the goods, as
the police say. I caught Watkins with the goods and sacked him.
But you don't mean to tell me that you came kiting home from the
pyramids and the lovely Sahara desert just because this chap Watkins
was dishonest? said Whitney Barnes, in tones of incredulity.
No, Whitney, replied Gladwin, dropping into a chair and puckering
his forehead with a frown. Watkins was only the start of it. I got rid
of him six months ago. But while I was on my way to Egypt I learned
that Watkins and my lawyer had been in some sort of a secret
correspondence before I gave Watkins the bounce.
What lawyer? Not 'Old Reliable' Forbes? Why, I thought he wore a
So did I, but I've got news to the contrary, and you know he has
charge of everything for mekeeps all my securitieshas a power of
attorneysigns checks and all that.
That sounds bad, said Whitney Barnes, sympathetically. The old
saint could come pretty close to ruining you.
Now you've hit it, assented Gladwin. So I've come home to
investigatesleuthing expedition, you might say. Didn't want him to
hear I was coming and climb out. Now you've got the answer to the
gumshoe riddle. My plan is to lie low and have you look him up. Nothing
else on foot, Whitney? Haven't gone into mustard or Wall street, have
It was Whitney Barnes's turn to construct a frown and take on an air
of intense seriousness, while his friend smiled at him, thinking it was
one of his humorous moods.
Can't say I have anything definite on foot, said Barnes slowly,
but the pater has given me a rather important commission to fulfil,
though not exactly in mustard.
Well, then, said Travers Gladwin with a trace of annoyance, I'd
better call on somebody else. I
Nothing of the sort, broke in Whitney Barnes. It may fit right in
with my plans. It'll keep me circulating round a lot and that's just
what I wantthat and what Bateato is bringing, as the little brown
man entered the room on the run, bearing a silver tray, decanter and
CHAPTER IX. THE CURSE OF MILLIONS.
As Travers Gladwin's valet filled the tall, slim glasses with the
fizzing amber-colored fluid which constitutes the great American
highball, the two friends stretched their legs and lost themselves for
a few moments in aimless reverie. Bateato looked from one to the other,
puzzled by their seriousness. He clinked the glasses to rouse them and
glided from the room. Whitney Barnes was the first to look up and shake
himself free of the sober spell that gripped him.
What the deuce made you skip abroad in such a hurry, Travers? he
asked, reaching for his glass.
Travers Gladwin sat up with a start, pulled a lugubrious smile and
Bored to deathnothing interested meliving the most commonplace,
humdrum, unromantic existence imaginable. Teas and dances, dances and
teas, clubs and theatres, theatres and clubs, motors and yachts, yachts
and motors. It was horrible, and I can't help thinking it was all my
dear old governor's fault. He had no consideration for me.
He left you a tidy lot of millions, drawled Whitney Barnes.
Young Gladwin drained his glass, jumped to his feet and began to
pace the room, hands deep in his trousers pockets.
That was just it! he flung out. If he'd left me nothing but a
shilling or two there'd be some joy in living. I'd have had to buckle
down. There's variety, interest, pleasure in having to make your own
way in the world.
Whitney Barnes laughed mockingly.
Go out and tell that to the toiling masses, he chuckled, and
listen to them give you the ha-ha. You're in a bad way, old
chapbetter see a brain specialist.
I know I'm in a bad way, Gladwin ran on fiercely, but doctors
can't do me any good. It was all right while I was a frolicking lamb,
but after I got over the age of thinking myself a devil of a fellow
things began to grow tame. I was romantic, sentimentalwanted to fall
Now you interest me, Whitney Barnes interjected, stiffening to
Yes, I wanted to fall in love, Whitney, but I couldn't get it out
of my head that every girl I met had her eye on my fortune and not on
me. And if it wasn't the girl it was her mother, and mothers, that is
mothers-in-law-to-be or mothers-that-want-to-be-in-law orwhat the
deuce do I mean?
I get you, Stevethey're awful. Go on.
Well, I gave it upthe hunt for the right girl.
The dickens you say! I wish you hadn't told me that.
And I went in for art, Gladwin raced on, carried breathlessly on
the tide of his emotions and ignoring his friend's observations. I
went in for these things on the walls, statuary, ceramics, rugs, and
You've got a mighty fine collection, struck in Barnes.
Yes, but I soon got tired of artI still hungered for romance. I
went abroad to find it. I said to myself, 'If there's a real thrill
anywhere on this earth for a poor millionaire, I'll try and find
itmake a thorough search. It wasn't any use. Every country I went to
was the same. All I could find were things my money could buy and all
those things have long ceased to interest me. There was only once in
all the years I've been craving a romance
Hold up there, Travers Gladwin, you're talking like Methusaleh.
You've been of age only a few years.
Seems centuries, but as I started to saythere was only once. Two
years ago in a trolley car, right here in the midst of this heartless
city. Seated opposite me was a girla blondemost beautiful hair you
ever saw. No use my trying to describe her eyes, clearest, bluest and
keep right on piling up the superlativespeaches and cream complexion
with a transparent down on it, dimples and all that sort of thing. You
know the kinda goddess every inch of her. Her clothes were poor and I
knew by that she was honest.
The young man paused and gazed rapturously into space.
Go on; go on, urged Barnes. Poor but honest.
I caught her eye once and my heart thumpedcould feel it beating
against my cigarette case.
That's the real soul-mate stuff; go on! cried Barnes.
Well, she got off at one of the big shops. I followed. She went in
one of the employees' entrances. She worked thereI could see that.
And did you wait for her to go out to lunch?
No, I had an engagement. Next day I caught that same car, but she
was not on it. I kept on trying and the fourth day she was on the car,
looking lovelier than ever. When she got off the car I got off. I
stepped up and raised my hat.
'Forgive me for approaching you in this impertinent manner,' I
said, 'but I would like to introduce myself,' and I handed her my
The youthful head of the house of Gladwin stopped abruptly and slid
listlessly into a chair.
I demand to hear what she replied, insisted Barnes.
It wasn't just what she said, mused Gladwin, though that was bad
enough, but it was the way she said it. These were her exact words, 'Go
on, yer fresh slob, an' sneak yer biscuits!' How does that suit you for
exploding a romance?
Blown to powder and bits, murmured Whitney Barnes, sombrely.
Sorry you told me thisnever mind whybut there's one thing I've
been wanting to ask you for a long time: How about that girl you
rescued from drowning four years ago? I remember it made you quite
famous at the time. According to all standards of romance, you should
have married her.
Travers Gladwin looked up with a wry smile.
Did you ever see the lady? he asked sharply.
No. Wasn't she pretty?
She was a brunette.
You don't fancy brunettes?
She was a dark brunette.
Yes, from Africa.
That was tough luck! exclaimed Barnes without cracking a smile.
CHAPTER X. THE HEARTBEATS OF MR.
In a magnificently furnished apartment on Madison avenue, which Mrs.
Elvira Burton had rented for New York's winter season, that augustly
beautiful or beautifully august lady sat writing. I may say that she
was writing grimly and that there was Jovian determination stamped upon
her high, broad forehead and indented at the corners of her tense lips.
She had just returned from a consultation with two matrons of the
same stern fibre as herself. No group of gray-bearded physicians had
ever weighed the fate of a patient with more attention to pathological
detail than had Mrs. Burton and her two friends weighed the fate of
Helen Burton, but whereas it rarely happens that pork is prescribed in
a delicate case, the result of that petticoated conclave was that Hogg
was prescribed for the flower-like ward of the leader of Omaha's
While Mrs. Burton had done most of the talking, her two friends who
had broken into New York's next-to-the-top layer of society by means of
the hyphens with which they coupled the names of their first and second
husbands; her two friends, I say, had managed to wedge in a word or
twoall in favor of Jabez Hogg.
The guardian of the two prettiest girls who had ever debutanted in
the Nebraska metropolis emerged from that conference on fire with
resolve. She would marry Helen to Mr. Hogg, thus link together the Hogg
and Burton millions and thereby create an alliance that would take its
place beside any in the country in the matter of bank account.
So confident was she of the power of her will that she did not even
remove her wraps before she sat down to answer Jabez Hogg's letter. Nor
did she bother to ask her maid if Helen and Sadie had returned from
their ride. She did not care to discuss the matter with them. She had
decided. It remained only for weaker wills to yield.
Beginning with a regal flourish of the pen, she wrote:
MY DEAR MR. HOGG: I received this morning your courteous note,
begging me to persuade Helen to give you a final answer. It pains
me deeply that you should suffer so from her neglectafter all
your kindness. I trust that you will forgive it on the score of
her youth. She is very young and her head has been turned with
much flattery. She shall be yoursthat I can promise you. When
you come on for your annual slaughter-house directors' meeting
may bring the ring. I have already given the order for the
engraving of the engagement announcements, and I will arrange to
give a reception and dance for Helen at the Plaza. I do not know
how to thank you for putting your French car at our disposal. It
has saved us a great deal of annoyance and bother. Helen has
spoken often of your thoughtfulness
Mrs. Burton stayed her flying pen and grimly read the last sentence
aloud. It was not the strict truth, as she was writing it. Helen had
spoken frequently of the convenience of the car, but she had added that
she could never ride in it without feeling that she was going to run
over a pig and hear it squeal.
Mrs. Burton did not waver for more than an instant, however. In a
way of speaking she gripped her conscience by the neck, strangled it,
and threw it into the discard. Then she continued with her letter:
I have been looking at houses on the avenue and would suggest
that you try and negotiate for the Gladwin mansion. The owner
lives abroad, and while it is not in the market I am advised that
the young man would be glad to get rid of it. He is said to be
living a fast life in Paris, and while he was left a great
he would probably be glad to get the ready money. I know of no
finer home in New York for you to settle down in after your
Thanking you again for your constant thoughtfulness and hoping
that you will now banish every doubt from your mind, I remain,
The smile with which Mrs. Burton sealed this letter and delivered it
to her maid was more than a smile of triumph. It was a positively
fiendish smile of victory.
CHAPTER XI. GAINSBOROUGH BLUE BOY.
Having discounted the romantic element of his thrilling rescue at
Narragansett Pier, Travers Gladwin fell into a moody silence. The more
volatile Barnes felt the influence and strove to fight it off. While
he, too, had been set upon the trail of romance at the behest of his
father, he felt it was too early to indulge in pessimistic reveries, so
he groped for another subject with which to revive the interest of his
I say, Travers, he led off, rising from his chair and indicating
the walls with a sweep of his hand, as I remarked before, you've got a
wonderful collection here.
Yes, assented the young millionaire without animation, but, as
I said before, I soon got tired of it. The pastime of collecting
pictures became a burden, and I was glad to get abroad and forget it.
Well, said Barnes, I guess the only thing for you to do is to go
to work at something.
I know it, grumbled Gladwin, but what's the incentive? I don't
want any more moneywhat I have now is the biggest sort of a nuisance.
Just see the trouble I'm in for with my lawyer and that man Watkins,
though to tell you the truth I am beginning to enjoy the novelty of
The young man got up and assumed a more lively expression.
Do you know, Whitney, he ran on, this travelling incognito isn't
half bad. They are really getting suspicious of me at the Ritz.
But surely some one there ought to know you.
Not a soul! It was opened while I was abroad. You know I registered
as Thomas Smith and I even took a chance and went down into the grill
room for lunch. And there, Whitney, cried Gladwin with an explosive
burst of enthusiasm, I nearly got a thrillanother one like that on
the trolley car. The last place you'd expect it, too, in the midst of
stiff formality and waiters so cold and haughty they might have risen
from the dead.
I suppose this was the ravishing girl at the cigar counter? said
Nothing of the sortnever smoked a cigar in her lifeI mean, that
is, well, something entirely different. But she was a beauty! Golden
bronze hairTitian never painted anything like it; the bluest eyes
behind the most wonderful dark lashes, creamy white skin
And you followed her to a cloak factory, where you found
Please wait till I finish, Whitney. I followed her nowhere, though
she interested me tremendously. I wish you could have seen her eat.
Particularly the grapefruit. By Jove, Barnes, that girl certainly
loves grapefruit! It was fascinating. I couldn't keep my eyes off of
And did she notice you? quizzed Barnes, raising his eyebrows.
She was too busy, came the gloomy rejoinder. I watched her
steadily, fairly bored her with my eyestried to will her to look at
me. They say you can do that, you knowmental telepathy, projecting
thought waves or something of the sort.
Oh, rot! cried Barnes, impatiently. I tried that on a dog once
and I've got the scar yet.
But I tell you, Whitney, it almost worked. After a time her eyelids
began to flutter and the roses in her cheeks bloomed darker. But just
as I felt sure she would look up and see mesplash! the grapefruit hit
her in the eye!
What! ejaculated Whitney Barnes, wheeling open-mouthed and facing
The juice, I mean, Gladwin laughed ruefully, and, of course, the
spell was broken. She never looked again. Dash it all, there's some
sort of a lemon in all my romances!
You certainly do play in tough luck, sympathized Barnes. I can
see that you need bucking up, and I think I've got the right kind of
remedy for you. Wait, I'll call Bateato.
Whitney Barnes stepped briskly across the room and pressed a button.
In a twinkling the little Jap appeared.
Bateato, said Barnes, has your master any hunting clothes at the
Ees, sair! responded the Jap. Plenty hotelplenty house. We no
time pack all clothesgo sail too quick.
Plenty heresplendid! enthused Barnes. Pack a bag for him,
Bateato, this instantenough things to last a couple of weeks.
What's all this? cut in Gladwin. What are you going to do?
Never you mind, retorted Barnes, importantly; you do as I say,
BateatoI'm going to show your master some excitement. He'll never get
it here in town.
Ees, sair! I pack him queeck, and Bateato vanished noiselessly,
seemingly to shoot through the doorway and up the broad staircase as if
sucked up a flue.
But see hereobjected Travers Gladwin.
Not a word now, his friend choked him off. If you don't like it
you don't have to stay, but I'm going to take you in hand and show you
a time you're not used to.
But I don't
Don't let's argue about it, said Barnes, lightly. You called me
in here to take charge of things and I'm taking charge. Just to change
the subject, tell me something about your paintings. This one, for
instancewho is that haughty looking old chap?
Whitney Barnes had planted himself with legs spread wide apart in
front of one of the largest portraits in the room, a life-size painting
of an aristocratic looking old man who seemed on the point of
strangling in his stock.
Travers Gladwin turned to the painting and said with an unmistakable
note of pride:
The original Gladwin, my great-grandfather. Painted more than a
hundred years ago by Gilbert Stuart.
I guess you beat me, Traversthe original Barnes hadn't discovered
mustard a hundred years ago. But I say, here's a Gainsborough, 'The
Blue Boy.' By George! that's a stunner! Worth a small fortune, I
Whitney Barnes had crossed the room and stood before the most
striking looking portrait in the collection, a tall, handsome boy in a
vividly blue costume of the Gainsborough period.
The owner of The Blue Boy turned around, cast a fleeting glimpse
at the portrait and turned away with a peculiar grimace.
You suppose wrong, Whitney, he said, shortly. That
What! A big painting like that, by a chap famous enough to have a
hat named after him.
That was just about the way it struck me at first, answered
Gladwin, so I begged two old gentlemen in London to let me have it.
Persuaded them to part with it for a mere five hundred pounds, on
conditionclose attention, Whitneythat I keep the matter a secret. I
was delighted with my bargainuntil I saw the original.
Ah ha! the original. It was quite a shock for me to come face to
face with that and realize that my 'Blue Boy' had a streak of yellow in
That sounds exciting, cried Barnes. What did you do? Put the case
in the hands of the police?
Not much, denied Gladwin emphatically. That would have given the
public a fine laugh. It deceived me, so I hung it up there to deceive
others. It got you, you see. But you are the only one I've let into the
secretdon't repeat it, will you?
Never! promised Barnes. It'll be too much of a lark to hear
others rave over it.
Thank you, acknowledged the bitten collector, curtly.
Barnes wandered from The Blue Boy and signalled out another
Who painted this? he asked.
That's a Veberbut do you know, Whitney, the more I think of
itthere's something about that grapefruit girl, something gripping
I like these two, commented Barnes.
There's something different about hersomething
Who is this by? inquired Barnes, lost in admiration of a
And very young, and I know her smile
Look here, Travers, what are these two worth?
Gladwin volplaned to earth, climbed out of his sky chariot and was
back in the midst of his art treasures again.
I beg your pardon, he said hastily. Which two?
Barnes pointed to two of the smaller pictures.
Guess, suggested his host.
Multiply it by tenthen add something.
Yes, really! That one on the left is a Rembrandt! and the other is
My word; they're corkers, eh!
Yes, when you know who painted them, and if you happen to have the
eye of a connoisseur.
And what in creation is this? exclaimed Barnes, as he stumbled
against the great ornamental chest which stood against the wall just
beneath the Rembrandt and Corot.
Oh, let's get the exhibition over, said Gladwin, peevishly.
That's a treasure chest. Cost me a barrelpicked it up in Egypt.
You never picked it up in your life, retorted Barnes, grasping the
great metal bound chest and striving vainly to lift it. Anything in
it? he asked, lifting the lid and answering himself in the negative.
What's the whole collection worth? asked Barnes, as he returned to
where his friend was standing, gazing ruefully at The Blue Boy.
Oh, half a million or more. I really never kept track.
Half a million! And you go abroad and leave all these things
unguarded? You certainly are fond of taking chances. It's a marvel they
haven't been stolen before now.
Nonsense, said Gladwin. I have a burglar alarm set here, and I'll
wager there aren't half a dozen persons who know the Gladwin collection
is hung in this house.
Just the samebut I say, Travers, there's the door bell. Were you
expecting anybody else.
Gladwin glanced about him nervously.
No, he said sharply. On the contrary, I didn't wishwhat the
deuce does it mean?
It means some one is at the door.
CHAPTER XII. APPROACHING A WORLD OF
Gaston Brielle, the strawberry blonde French chauffeur who piloted
the big, luxurious motor car Jabez Hogg of Omaha had placed at the
service of Mrs. Elvira Burton and her two charming young nieces, did
not have his mind entirely concentrated upon manipulating the wheel and
throttle of the car as he swung around Grant's Tomb and sped southward
down the Drive. While his knowledge of English was confined to a few
expletives of a profane nature and the mystic jargon of the garage, he
was nevertheless thrilled by the belief that the two mademoiselles
behind him were plotting some mysterious enterprise.
From time to time they had unconsciously dropped their voices to the
low tones commonly used by conspirators, or at least that was the way
Gaston had sensed it. Along the silent roads of Central Park and
Riverside Drive, where even the taxis seemed to employ their mufflers
and to resort less frequently to the warning racket of their exhausts,
the Frenchman had been straining his ears to listen.
He had heard on two occasions what he divined as a manifest sob,
first when the emotional Sadie gave way to tears and again when Helen
was aggravated to a petulant outburst of grief.
Later when he heard bright laughter and gay exclamations he could
hardly believe his ears. He was profoundly troubled and completely
bewildereda dangerous state of mind for a man who has the power of
seventy horses under the pressure of his thumb.
Nor was his mental turmoil in the least alleviated when, having
turned south and being on the point of coasting down a precipitous hill
he felt a touch on his shoulder and heard the elder of his two pretty
passengers command him in worse French than his own poor English to go
slow when he turned into Fifth avenue again and be prepared to stop.
Gaston knew that this was in direct violation of his orders from
Mrs. Burton, but when he saw a yellow-backed bill flutter down over his
shoulder his quick intelligence blazed with understanding. His first
groping suspicions had been justified. There was romance in the wind.
Steering easily with one hand, Gaston deftly seized the bill and caused
it to vanish somewhere in his great fur coat.
Sadie Burton had been horror-stricken at this bold proffer of a
bribe. Likewise she was alarmed that Helen should put so much trust in
Gaston, who seemed to be in mortal terror of her aunt and to quake all
through his body when he listened to her commands.
As Helen sank back beside her, after letting fall the bribe, the
agitated Sadie whispered tremulously:
Are you sure you can trust him, Helen? If he should tell Auntie El
she would surely make you a prisoner. You will never get a chance to
leave her side at the opera to-night.
Gaston is a Frenchman, my dear, laughed Helen, confidently, and
most Frenchmeneven chauffeurs, I am surewould cut their hearts out
before they would oppose a barrier to the course of true love.
But Helen's gayety did not communicate itself to Sadie. That shy
miss trembled apprehensively as she sought to picture herself in
Helen's placeon the verge of an elopement. Not that such a prospect
did not have its alluring thrill even to such a shrinking maiden as the
violet-eyed Sadie, but her fear of her aunt seemed to crush and
obliterate these titillating sensations. As the car shot through
Seventy-second street and headed for the entrance to the West Drive of
Central Park, she ventured another word of caution.
Wouldn't it be better to send a messenger to Mr. Gladwin's house,
Helen? Suppose we should run into somebody there who knew auntie?
You ridiculously little fraid-cat, Helen caught her up. Of course
there'll be nobody there but Travers, or perhaps his man or some of the
other servants. He has good reason for keeping very quiet now and sees
absolutely nobody, not evennot evennot even his grandmother, if he
And didn't he tell you whether or not he had a grandmother, Helen?
But Helen disdained to reply, her heart suddenly filling with
rapture at the prospect of an immediate meeting with her betrothed.
CHAPTER VIII. TRAVERS GLADWIN GETS A
A ring at the door bell should suggest to the ordinary mind that
some person or persons clamored for admission, but Whitney Barnes's
announcement seemed to have difficulty in hammering its way into
Travers Gladwin's gray matter and thence downward into the white matter
of his brain cells.
What is some one at the door for? he asked vacuously.
To see you, of course, snapped Barnes.
Nonsense! exclaimed the other with annoyance. The house has been
closed for ages and you are the only one who knows I am home. Why
Bateato skimmed in, grinning like a full moon.
Well, what is it? his master asked, shortly,
Two ladies, sair!
Twothat's good! chimed in Barnes. They must have got a wireless
that I was here.
What do they want? Gladwin addressed Bateato.
You, sair, replied the Jap. They say you come to door one
Two ladies to see me? Are you sure? Travers Gladwin was both
bewildered and embarrassed.
Ees, sair! Bateato assured him.
Did you tell them that I was here?
They no ask. They say, 'Please, Mr. Gladwin come to door!'
Well, you tell them Mr. Gladwin is not at homethat I'm out,
Ees, sair, and Bateato was about to skim out into the hallway
again when Barnes stopped him.
Wait a minute, Bateatowhat do they look like?
Look nice, sair, and Bateato's moon-like grin returned in full
You're sure? asked Barnes, gravely.
Oh, fine, uttered the Jap, enthusiastically.
Young? inquired Barnes.
Ees, sairmuch youngcome in autbile. I tell them you no home?
turning to Gladwin.
No, wait, responded Gladwin, his curiosity taking fire. You tell
them to come in.
They say you come door.
Very well, but Whitney Barnes stopped him.
Better see them in here, Travers. If they really want to see you
they'll come in. Ask them to come in, Bateato.
The little Jap was gone with the speed and noiselessness of a mouse.
Who in heaven's name can it be? whispered Travers Gladwin as
Bateato could be heard lisping in the vestibule. Before Whitney Barnes
managed to frame a reply a swift, muffled step was audible and Helen
Burton stood framed in the narrow space between the portières. Her
timid cousin stopped behind her, staring timidly over her shoulder. She
was manifestly surprised and startled as she paused and regarded the
two young men.
In point of startled surprise, however, Travers Gladwin's emotion
matched hers. He stared at her almost rudely in his amazement and
involuntarily he turned to Whitney Barnes and said under his breath:
The grapefruit girl!
Whitney Barnes's lips merely framed: No! You don't mean it!
He was going to add something more, when the two girls came on into
the room diffidently and stood by the great carved table, close
together, as if prepared to cling to one another in case something
extraordinary happened. Travers Gladwin was the first of the two young
men to come to their rescue.
Pardon me! Did you wish to see me? he said with his best bow.
No, replied Helen Burton quickly, her lips trembling; we want to
see Mr. Gladwin, please.
The young man did not recover instantly from this staggering jolt,
and a clock somewhere in the great hall nearby ticked a dozen strokes
before he managed to mumble:
Isn't he here? broke in the brown-haired beauty, breathlessly.
His man just asked us to come into this room to see him.
What Mr. Gladwin did you want? asked that young man incoherently.
Why, Mr. Travers Gladwin! exclaimed the girl indignantly, the
color mantling to her forehead. Is there more than one?
Wellerthat is, the young man turned desperately to his friend,
do you know Mr. Gladwin?
Do I know him? cried Helen Burton, and then, with a hysterical
little laugh as she turned to her cousin, I should think I did know
him. I know him very, very well.
Sadie Burton appeared both distressed and frightened and slipped
limply down into one of the great chairs beside her. As Travers
Gladwin's features passed through a series of vacant and bewildered
expressions and as the attention of Whitney Barnes seemed to be
focussed with strange intensity upon the prettiness of the shy and
silent Sadie, anger flashed in Helen's expressive eyes as she again
addressed the young man, who felt as if some mysterious force had just
robbed him of his identity.
You don't suppose, she said, drawing herself to the full height of
her graceful figure, that I would come here to see Travers Gladwin if
I didn't know him, do you?
No, no, noof course not! sputtered the young man. It was stupid
of me to ask such a question. Please forgive me. Ier
Helen turned from him as if to speak to Sadie, who sat with erect
primness suffering from what she sensed as a strange and overpowering
stroke. She had permitted herself to look straight into the eyes of
Whitney Barnes and hold the look for a long, palpitating second.
While Sadie was groping in her mind for some explanation of the
strange thrill, Whitney Barnes had flung himself headlong into a new
sensation and was determined to make the most of it, so when Travers
Gladwin turned to him and asked:
I rather think Gladwin's gone out, don't you? Barnes nodded and
He was here only a few minutes ago.
This reply drew Helen's attention immediately to Barnes and taking a
step forward she said eagerly:
Oh, I hope he's here. You see, it's awfully importantwhat I want
to see him about.
Whitney Barnes nodded with extraordinary animation and turning to
Gladwin impaled that young man with the query:
Why don't you find out if he's in?
While Gladwin had come up for air he was still partially drowned.
Turning to Helen Burton, he forced an agreeable smile and said
Yes, if you'll excuse me a moment I'll see, but may I give him your
It was Helen's turn to recoil and stepping to where Sadie had at
last got upon her feet, she whispered:
Shall I tell him? They both act so strangely.
Oh, no, Helen, dear, fluttered Sadie. It may be some awful trap
While this whispered conclave was going on Travers Gladwin made a
frantic signal to Whitney Barnes behind his back and mumbled:
Try and find out what it's all about?
I willleave that to me, said Barnes confidently.
Leaving her cousin's side, Helen again confronted the two young men
and said tremulously:
I'd rather not give my name. I know that sounds odd, but for
Oh, of course, if you'd rather not, answered Gladwin.
If you will just say, Helen ran on breathlessly, that I had to
come early to tell him somethingsomething about to-nighthe'll
understand and know who I am.
Certainly, certainly, said the baffled young millionaire. Say
that you want to see him about something that's going to happen
Yes, if you'll be so kind, and Helen gave the young man a smile
that furnished him the thrill he had hunted for all over the globe,
with a margin to boot.
I'll be right back, he gasped, spun on his heel and passed dizzily
out into the hallway.
CHAPTER XIV. THRILL BEGETS THRILL.
Gladwin's exit from the room served as a signal for the agile-witted
Barnes to strike while the iron was hot. His friend had hardly vanished
through the portières when he turned to Helen with an air of easy
confidence, looking frankly into her eyes, and said:
It's singular that my friend doesn't know what you referred tothe
object of your call, and he nodded his head with a knowing smile.
Why, do you? asked Helen eagerly, coming toward him.
Whitney's knowing smile increased in its quality of knowingness and
he spoke with an inflection that was quite baffling.
Well, he said, in a confiding whisper, I have an idea; but
hejerking his thumb over his shoulder where Travers Gladwin was last
seen departing from viewis Travers Gladwin's most intimate friend.
The astonishing character of this information served only further to
confuse the beautiful Miss Burton's already obfuscated reasoning
faculties and hypnotize her into that receptive condition where she was
capable of believing any solemnly expressed statement.
Really! she said with a little start of surprise.
Oh, yes, ran on the glib Barnes, they are lifelong chumslove
each other like brothers; one of those Castor and Pollox affairs, you
knowonly more so. Never have any secrets from each other and all that
sort of thing.
Helen dropped back into her chair and her brow wrinkled with
That's curious, she said. I don't think Travers ever spoke to me
about that kind of a friend.
The idea was just burgeoning in her mind to ask for the friend's
name when Barnes hastened on:
Well, now that is singular. Are you sure that
The sudden brisk return of Travers Gladwin saved Barnes from an
immediate excruciating tax upon his ingenuity.
I'm awfully sorry, said Gladwin, going to Helen and shaking his
head regretfully, but I couldn't find him.
Oh, dear! That's very provoking! cried Helen. He didn't say he
was going out, did he?
No; I could have sworn he was here a few minutes ago, spoke up
Barnes, turning his head away for fear his smile would suddenly get out
Well, is his man here? demanded the girl.
Why, he let you in, blurted Gladwin.
I don't mean the Japanese.
You mean the butler, perhaps, Gladwin corrected.
Yes, Helen answered mechanically.
Travers Gladwin felt it was time for Barnes to take a hand again, as
his mental airship was bucking badly in the invisible air currents.
Is Gladwin's butler here? he inquired sharply, frowning at Barnes.
No, said Barnes promptly.
I am sorry, but he is not here, Gladwin communicated to Helen.
Well, where is he? cried the exasperated Helen.
Where is he? Gladwin asked Barnes.
Whitney Barnes went down for the count of one but bobbed up
Where is he? he said with a nonchalant gesture. Oh, he's giving a
lecture on butling.
The bewildered Miss Burton did not catch the text of this
explanation. In her increasing agitation she wrung her hands in her
muff and almost sobbed:
I'm sure I don't know what to do. I simply must get word to him
somehow. It's awfully important.
Whitney Barnes saw the trembling lip and the dampening eye and
strove to avert a catastrophe that would probably double the difficulty
of probing into the mystery. Turning to Gladwin, but half directing his
remarks to Helen, he said:
I've just been telling the ladies that you and Travers are bosom
Travers Gladwin flashed one look of amazement and then caught on.
Oh, yes, he cried, we are very close to each otherI couldn't
begin to tell you how close.
And I have also hinted, pursued Barnes, that you never have any
secrets from each other, and that I felt sure that you knew all
aboutall aboutaa erto-night.
Oh, of course, assented Gladwin, beginning to warm up to his part
and feel the rich thrill of the mystery involved. Yes, yesof
coursehe's told me all about to-night.
Has he? gasped Helen, looking into the young man's brown eyes for
confirmation, feeling that she liked the eyes, but uncertain that she
read the confirmation.
Yes, everything, lied Gladwin, now glowing with enthusiasm.
All this while the shy and silent Sadie had remained demurely in her
chair looking from one to the other and vainly endeavoring to catch the
drift of the conversation.
Sadie was too dainty a little soul to be possessed of real reasoning
faculties. The one thought that had been uppermost in her mind all day
was that Helen was taking a desperate step, probably embarking upon
some terrible tragedy. She had hungered for an opportunity to compare
notes with some sturdier will than her own and the instant she heard
Travers Gladwin admit that he knew all about to-night she rose from
her chair and asked, breathlessly, turning up her big, appealing eyes
to Travers Gladwin:
Then won't youoh, please, won't youtell her what you think of
There was something so naïve and innocent in Sadie's attitude and
expression that Whitney Barnes was charmed. It also tickled his soul to
see how thoroughly his friend was stumped. So to add to Travers's
confusion he chimed in:
Oh, yes, go on and tell her what you think of it.
I'd rather not, said Gladwin ponderously, trying to escape from
the appealing eyes.
But really you ought to, old chap, reproved Barnes. It's your
Oh, yes, please do! implored Sadie.
The victim was caught three ways. Both young ladies regarded him
earnestly and with looks that hung upon his words, while Barnes stood
to one side with a solemn long face, elbow in one hand and chin gripped
tightly in the other, manifestly for the moment withdrawn from rescue
duty. There was nothing for the badgered young man to do but mentally
roll up his sleeves and plunge in.
Well, then, with exaggerated sobriety, if you must knowI
thinkthat is, when I was thinking of itor I mean, what I had
thought of it, when I was thinking of itturning it over in my mind,
you knowwhy, it didn't seem to meI am afraidturning squarely on
Helenwhat I am going to say will offend you.
On the contrary, cried Helen, flushing to her tiny pink ears, if
you are Travers's best friend, I should like to know just what you
think of it.
Well, then, said Travers Gladwin desperately, if you must know
the truth, I don't like it.
There! breathed Sadie, overjoyed, and dropped back in her chair.
But Helen Burton was far from pleased.
You don't like what? she demanded.
Whythis thing to-night, he groped.
You wouldn't say that if you knew Mr. Hogg, the indignant girl
There, Gladwinthat's a clincheryou don't know Hogg.
Whitney Barnes was up to his ears in clover.
How do you know I don't know him? asked Gladwin, a little wildly.
Why, how could you? said Helen, accusingly.
How could I know Mr. Hogg?
Why, just go out to his pen, introduce yourself and shake his
Helen failed to see the humor of this sally and again the tears
struggled for an outlet.
Now you're making fun of me, she said, turning away. I think it's
Travers Gladwin felt a sharp pang of remorse and hated himself for
his break. In his eagerness to repair the wound, he stepped to the
young girl's side and said with great seriousness:
I wouldn't hurt you in any way for the world.
Helen looked up at him and read the soul of sincerity and sympathy
in his eyes. She was both reassured and embarrassed by the intensity of
Really? she managed to murmur, backing away and sitting down
The mention of Mr. Hogg had inflamed Whitney Barnes's curiosity, and
he desired to know more of that unknown.
Well, I don't see what Mr. Hogg has to do with it, he spoke up.
Why, Auntie insists upon my marrying him.
Helen blurted this out involuntarily
That's dreadful! exclaimed Whitney Barnes, and Helen rewarded him
with a smile of gratitude.
CHAPTER XV. HEROISM, LOVE AND
The embarrassment of both the girls had begun to wear off. The two
strange young men, notwithstanding the unaccounted-for absence of the
object of Helen's quest, began to appear less strange. Both possessed
potent attractions and undeniable magnetism.
The shy and shrinking Sadie was sure she liked that tall and slender
young man with the easy drawl and bright, humorous eyes immensely. The
boldness of his glances made her heart beat pleasantly. To her he
seemed to possess the master will and wit of the pair, and she felt she
could repose perfect confidence in him.
For her part Helen was uncertain just how to sense the situation.
One side of her will urged her to leave a message for her betrothed and
hurry away. Another strain of consciousness held her fast.
Travers Gladwin's psychic waves that had so utterly failed in the
grill room of the Ritz may or may not have had something to do with
this. He felt inspired with a desire to prolong the interview
indefinitely. He could not recall ever having been so attracted by the
charming personality of any girl as he was by this distressed maiden
who was so eager to see her Travers Gladwin.
He was flattered, even by the compliment of having the same name as
the unknown. As a further expression of sympathy with Helen in the
matter of Mr. Hogg he said earnestly:
Do you mean to tell me that your aunt insists upon you marrying
Yes, replied Helen, passionately. And he's awful, and I hate him,
and I won'tI just won't.
I think you're absolutely right, Gladwin agreed with her.
Oh, you do? cried the delighted Helen. Then, turning triumphantly
upon her cousin she exclaimed:
But Sadie's one idea did not include Mr. Hogg. She considered the
elopement as a separate matter in which Mr. Hogg was in no way
involved, wherefore she said:
But you've only known Mr. Gladwin two weeks.
I know, retorted Helen, but I've loved him for four years.
You've loved Travers Gladwin four years, said that young man in a
voice hollow with wonder.
And only known him two weeks, cut in Whitney Barnes. By Jove, he
must be one of those retroactive soul-mates.
I've loved him four years, said Helen stiffly.
You've loved him four years in two weeks, said Barnes in the tone
of one trying to do a sum. I give up. I can't do it.
Helen faced the heretic Barnes and announced impressively:
Ever since the time he so bravely risked his own life to save that
girl. It was splendid, noble!
Travers Gladwin decided it was time to call a halt on the borrowing
proclivities of the unknown double. It was bad enough for some one to
appropriate his name, but also to take unto his bogus self the glory of
the real one's heroism was too much.
You mean that time at Narragansett? he opened.
Yes, said Helen. Four years ago when he dashed into the roaring
Yes, and fished out a cross-eyed colored lady, said Gladwin hotly.
That's just it, returned Helen with flashing eyes and heaving
bosom. If she had been beautiful or some one dear to him, it wouldn't
have been half so noble. Oh, it was fine of him!
And he told you about that? asked Gladwin, numbed for the moment.
No, he didn't. He's much too modest. I knew of it the day it
happened, and he has been my ideal ever since. But would you believe
it, when I first spoke to him about it he could hardly remember it.
Imagine doing such a brave thing, and then forgetting all about it.
Oh, I've forgotten lots of such things, said the unrecognized
Helen's lips curled with scorn.
Yes, the young man was stung to go on, and what Travers Gladwin
did wasn't brave at all.
What! Helen gasped.
She was so fat she couldn't sink, derided Gladwin, so I swam out
Yes, bubbled over the young man, overjoyed at the opportunity of
discounting his own heroism, I swam out to her. I told her to lie on
her back and float. Well, she did, and I
Why, yeseryou see, I was with him. He pushed her to shore.
Simplest thing in the world.
Helen rose angrily. There was both indignation and reproach in her
It's shameful to try and belittle his courage, and you say you're
his dearest friend. She paused for a moment, then went closer to the
young man and said in a different tone:
Oh, I understand you nowyou're saying that to try and make me
change my mind. But I shan'tnot for anybody.
Helen crossed the room to her cousin and gave Sadie the benefit of
the look of defiance with which she had confronted Travers Gladwin.
Oh, please, please don't say that, Helen, cried Sadie, all
a-flutter. I know he will agree to a postponement.
But I don't want any postponement, protested Helen. I told you
what I intended doing and I'm going to do it.
Go on, tell her againwe'd all like to hear it, broke in Gladwin.
Helen swung around and said dramatically:
I'm going to marry Travers Gladwin to-night.
Travers Gladwin reeled a little where he stood, met and turned from
the beaming stare of Whitney Barnes. As he did so Helen came very close
to him, laid her hand on his arm and said tremulously:
You are his best friend. Tell me honestly, don't you think I'm
right in wanting to marry him?
This was a poser, but when he did summon an answer it came right out
from the heart, his eyes devouring the beautiful girl before him as he
Nothing on earth would please me so much as to have you marry
Travers Gladwin, and I promise you now that I am going to do everything
in my power to persuade you to do it.
Oh, I am so glad! Helen thanked him. A moment later she added with
a perplexed smile: But why did you talk about his bravery as you did?
Well, you seethe young man stopped.
I suppose, Helen suggested brightly, being so very fond of him,
you hated the idea of his marrying. Was that it?
Yes, but that was before I saw you. I hope you are going to like
his best friend just a little.
There was no mistaking the ardent emphasis on the last sentence and
Helen studied the young man's face curiously. She turned away with a
blush and walked across the room.
CHAPTER XVI. THE TORMENT OF OFFICER
Meantime Officer 666, on his aristocratic beat, four blocks up and
four blocks down the Fifth avenue pave, was sticking to the east side
of the street and vainly trying to keep his eyes to the front.
It was excruciating duty, with the raven-haired Rose wheeling her
perambulator along the opposite way and keeping, by way of feminine
perversity, on a latitudinal line with the patrolling of Michael
There she was just opposite, always, never twisting her head an inch
to give him so much as a glance or a smile. It made him wild that she
should discipline her eyes in that fashion, while his would wander
hither and yon, especially yon when Rose was in that direction.
The daintiness of Rose in cap and apron with a big white fichu at
her throat, with one red cheek and the corner of the most kissable
mouth on the avenue maddeningly visible, soon drove all memory of the
Gladwin mansion and the suspicious antics of the rat-faced little
heathen out of his mind. His one thought was that Rose would have to
cross over the way at the fall of dusk and trundle her millionaire
infant charge home for its prophylactic pap. There would be a bare
chance for about seven or ten words with Rose. But what was he going to
For one hundred and nine days' running, his days off inclusive,
Michael Phelan had intercepted Rose at that particular corner and
begged her to name the day. The best he ever got was a smile and a
flash of two laughing eyes, followed by the sally:
Show me $500 in the bank, Michael Phelan, and I'll talk business.
And why didn't Michael Phelan save up $500 out of the more than $100
a month the city paid him for his services? Rose didn't get a quarter
of that, and she had already saved $300, besides which she sent a
one-pound note home to Ireland every month.
The reason was thisMichael Phelan turned in his wages each month
to his mother, and out of what she allowed him to spend he couldn't
have saved $500 in five hundred years, at least not to his way of
thinking. The trouble was that Rose had more than an inkling of this,
and it galled her to think that her gallant brass-buttoned cop should
permit himself to be still harnessed to his mother's apron strings.
Yes, down in the invisible depths of Rose's heart she was very fond
of the faithful and long-suffering Michael, but even so she couldn't
bring herself to marry a milksop who was likely to make her play second
fiddle to his mother. And when Rose once made up her mind, she was as
grimly determined as she was pretty.
The sun had swung down behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the
trees that bordered the Park wall had begun to trace their shadows on
the marble fronts of the mansions across the way when Rose suddenly
wheeled the gig containing Master Croesus and walked demurely toward
Michael Phelan blushed till he could feel his back hair singeing,
but he stopped stock still and waited. Rose gave no sign until she was
within half a dozen feet of him. Then she looked up pertly and
Why, if it ain't Michael Phelan!
It is, Rose, an' with the same question pantin' on his lips, broke
out the young man, his bosom surging and his heart rapping under his
And what is that same question, Mr. Phelan? asked the tantalizing
Officer 666 choked with emotion.
Will ye name the day, d-d-d-ar
He stopped and looked round about him fearfully, for Sergeant
McGinnis was due on his rounds and Sergeant McGinnis, though married,
had an eye like a hawk for a pretty girl and a tongue like an adder for
a patrolman caught sparking.
Rose's eyes flashed and her lips drew taut. She started forward, but
turned her head to face Phelan as she walked away.
I'll give you an answer, Michael, she said in parting, when ye
may set up your own home for your own
That was all Phelan heard and possibly all that the young woman
uttered, for just then Master Croesus set up a bawl that was most
common and vulgar in its utter lack of restraint. There could be no
more to the interview that day with young Master Croesus in such
vociferous mood, so Officer 666 turned away with a heaving sigh and
plodded dolefully along on his beat.
CHAPTER XVII. TRAVERS GLADWIN IS
Taking time out to sense the bruised condition of your heart isn't a
whole lot different from taking time out to recover from a jolt
received in the prize ring. Having released that impassioned sentence,
I hope you are going to like his best friend just a little! young Mr.
Gladwin felt a trifle groggy.
Until he had spoken he hadn't realized just how badly his cardiac
equipment was being shot to pieces by the naked god's ruthless archery.
The fact that the case should have appeared hopeless only fanned the
flame of his ardor. He had looked into the depths of two vividly blue
eyes and there read his destiny. So he told himself fiercely;
whereupon, in the Rooseveltian phrase, he cast his hat into the ring.
He cared no more for obstacles than a runaway horse. His very
boredom of the past few years had stored up vast reserves of energy
within him, waiting only for that psychological thrill to light the
As Helen Burton turned from him with the uncomfortable feeling of
one who has received a vague danger signal he paused only a moment
before he again strode to her side. He was about to speak when she took
the lead from him and, looking up at one of the masterpieces on the
Oh, this is his wonderful collection of paintings! He told me all
It was what the gentlemen pugilists would call a cross-counter
impinging upon the supersensitive maxillary muscles. It certainly
jarred the owner of that wonderful collection and caused him to turn
with an expression of astonishment to Whitney Barnes.
But that young man was intensely occupied in a vain endeavor to draw
more than a monosyllable from the shrinking Sadie Burton. He missed the
look and went doggedly ahead with his own task. Helen Burton repeated
her remark that he had told her all about his paintings.
Oh, has he? responded Gladwin, dully.
Yes, and they are worth a fortune! cried the girl. He simply
Yes, doesn't he, though? assented the young man in the same
And we are going to take the most valuable away with us to-night!
Here was information to jar Jove on high Olympus. Travers Gladwin
came stark awake with a new and vital interest. There was glowing life
in his voice as he said:
So you are going to take the pictures with you on your honeymoon?
Yes, indeed, we are.
Won't that be nice? was the best Gladwin could do, for he was
trying to think along a dozen different lines at the same time.
We will be gone for ever so long, you know, volunteered Helen.
Are you going to take his collection of miniatures? the young man
asked in unconscious admiration of the colossal nerve of the gentleman
who had so nonchalantly appropriated his name.
Miniatures? asked Helen, wonderingly.
Yes, of course, ran on Gladwin; and the china and the family
platenearly two hundred years old.
Why, I don't think he ever mentioned the miniatures, or, or
That is singular, broke in Gladwin, striving to conceal the
sarcasm that crept into his voice. Strange he overlooked the china,
plate and miniatures. I don't understand it, do you? and he turned to
Barnes, who had caught the last of the dialogue and shifted his
immediate mental interest from the shy Sadie.
No, I really don't, old man, said Barnes.
Do let me show you the miniatures, Gladwin addressed Helen upon a
That will be splendid, cried Helen. I adore miniatures.
They are just in the next room, said Gladwin, leading the way to a
door to the left of the great onyx fireplace.
As she followed, Helen called to her cousin:
Come along, Sadie, this will be a treat!
But the next moment she was alone with Travers Gladwin in the long,
narrow room, two windows of which, protected by steel lattice work on
the inside, looked out on a side street.
The girl did not notice that as the young man preceded her he
reached his hand under the screening portière and touched a spring that
noiselessly swung open the heavy mahogany door and switched on half a
dozen clusters of lights. Neither did she notice that Sadie had failed
to follow her as her eyes fairly popped with wonder at the treasures
presented to her gaze.
On one side of the room there was a long row of tables and cabinets,
and almost at every step there was an antique chest. On the tables
there were huddled in artistic disorder scores upon scores of gold and
silver vessels and utensils of every conceivable design and
workmanship. Each cabinet contained a collection of exquisite china or
rare ceramics. On the walls above was the most notable collection of
miniatures in America.
Travers Gladwin waited for the young girl to have finished her first
outburst of admiration. Then he said softly:
I suppose you know that five generations of Gladwins have been
collecting these few trinkets?
He never even mentioned them! gasped the girl. Why the paintings
are nothing to these!
I wouldn't say that, chuckled Gladwin. It would take a deal of
this gold and silver junk to buy a Rembrandt or a Corot. There are a
couple of Cellini medallions, though, just below that miniature of
Madame de Pompadour that a good many collectors would sell their souls
Perhaps he was preserving all this as a surprise for me, whispered
the awed Miss Burton. It is just like him. I am afraid he will be
awfully disappointed now that you have shown them to me.
Or mayhap he has forgotten all about them, said Gladwin, in a tone
that caused his companion to start and color with quick anger.
You know that is not true, she said warmly. You know that Travers
Gladwin is just mad about art. How can you say such a thing, and in
such a sarcastic tone of voice?
Well, the young man defended himself, inwardly chuckling, you
know how his memory lapsed in regard to that heroic affair at
Helen Burton turned and faced him with flashing eyes.
That was entirely different. It simply showed that he was not a
braggart; that he was different from other men!
The words were meant to lash and sting, but the passion with which
they were said served so to vivify the loveliness of the young girl
that Travers Gladwin could only gaze at her in speechless admiration.
When her glance fell before the homage of his regard he took hold of
himself and apologized on the ground that he had been joking.
Then he made the rounds of the treasure room, pointing out and
giving the history of each precious family heirloom or art object with
an encyclopedic knowledge that should have caused his companion to
wonder how he knew so much. Several times he slipped in the pronoun I,
hoping that this might have some effect in waking Helen from the
obsession that any other than he could be the real Travers Gladwin.
But alas! for his subtle efforts, the hints and innuendoes fell on
deaf ears. She accepted his fund of information as a second-hand
version, exclaiming once:
What a splendid memory you have!
Then he gave it up as a hopeless case and led the way back into the
CHAPTER XVIII. SADIE BECOMES A
Ah! Be careful! Don't go out there! was the warning that had
stopped Sadie Burton in full flight for the treasure room into which
her cousin and Travers Gladwin had vanished.
She was more than half way to the door in obedience to Helen's
command when Whitney Barnes spoke. He was sitting on the arm of one of
the great upholstered chairs in a gracefully negligent attitude
twirling his gold key chain about his finger. He spoke softly but with
a mysterious emphasis that took hold and held the retreating miss fast
in her tracks. She turned with a frightened:
Because I would be all alone, he said solemnly. Then as Sadie took
another hurried step forward: Oh, no, you wouldn't desert meyou
wouldn't be so cruel! How would you like to have some one desert you?
This mystic remark caused Sadie to turn around and take a step
toward him. She said timidly:
I don't understand.
Then I'll tell you, he said, getting on his feet and going toward
No, no! objected Sadie, and began to back away.
The young man stopped and said in his most reassuring tones:
Fear notI am quite harmless, I assure you. Now, I can see that
you are in troubleis that not so?
Oh, yes! Sadie admitted, delighted at this new turn in his
attitude. Her first disturbing suspicion had been that he wanted to
You see, I'm right, he pursued. I would like to help you.
Would you? she breathed, with increasing confidence.
Of course I would, he said, earnestly, whereat Sadie lost all
Then we must hurry if we are to stop it, she said in a dramatic
Stop itstop what? The heir of Old Grim Barnes had launched the
belief that he was about to start something. There wasn't any stop in
the vocabulary of his thoughts at that minute.
Why, the elopement! ejaculated Sadie, exploding a little bomb that
brought Whitney Barnes down out of the clouds.
Yes, of courseto be surethe elopementI'd forgotten, he raced
on. Let me look at you. No, you must not turn away. I must look at
youthat's the only way I can help you.
If he had to take a hand in the business of preventing an elopement
he was going to combine that business with pleasure.
You are sure you want me to help you? he asked.
Yes, so awfully much! she cried.
Then I must look at youlook at you very closely, he said, with
the utmost seriousness.
I don't understand, murmured Sadie, both pleased and frightened by
his intense scrutiny.
I'll show you, said Barnes. Stand very still, with your arms at
your sidethere! (my, but she's a picture!) I've found out the first
thingI read it in your eyes.
What! in a stifled whisper.
You don't approve of this elopement.
Oh, no! Sadie had yielded her eyes as if hypnotized.
There, I told you so! exulted Barnes. You want to stop the
elopement, but you don't know how to do it.
Yes, that's perfectly true, confessed the spellbound Sadie.
Shall I tell you how to stop it?
Yes, please do.
Then sit down.
He motioned to a chair three feet from where he stood. The victim of
this, his first excursion into the fields of mesmerism, tripped with
bird-like steps to the chair and sat down. Barnes went easily toward
her and sat down on the arm. He was as solemn about it as if his every
move were part of a ritual.
Now, please take off your glovethe left one, he commanded
softly. Sadie obeyed mechanically. Barnes went on:
Before deciding upon what you should do, I'd like to know
definitely about youif you don't mind.
What do you want me to tell you? asked Sadie, with a brave effort
to keep her voice from running off into little tremors.
Nothing! replied the seer-faced Barnes. What I want to discover
you may not even know yourself. Allow me to look at your hand, please.
Sadie yielded her hand with shy reluctance, allowing the young man
to hold only the tips of her fingers. Whitney Barnes bent his frowning
eyes over the fluttering little hand, studied the palm for a long
second, then exclaimed suddenly:
By Jove! This is extraordinary!
Sadie started, but her curiosity was greater than her fear.
What? she asked, excitedly.
Really wonderful! Barnes kept it up.
What? Sadie repeated, in the same little gasp.
See that line?
He had taken possession of the whole hand now and pointed with a
long, ominous forefinger to the centre of the palm.
Which line? inquired Sadie, eagerly, getting her head very close
to his as she pried into the plump, practically lineless palm.
That one, said Barnes, impressively.
Don't you see that it starts almost at your wrist?
Now I see. Yes. What of it?
Why it runs 'way round the bump, or, that isthe bump of Venus.
What does that mean? asked Sadie innocently.
Oh, a lot. You are very affectionateand extremely shy.
Wonderful! exclaimed Sadie, amazed at the young man's stupendous
Now here's a cunning little line, he pursued. That shows
Does it show how to stop the elopement? asked Sadie, ingenuously,
but making no effort to withdraw her hand.
Yes, and it shows that you and your friend areHe paused to
allow Sadie to fill the gap, and she did.
Cousinsand we live with Auntieand we've been in New York a
And your cousin hasn't known Gladwin long?
Only two weeks. Sadie was really awed.
That's righttwo weeks; and she met him at the
He said to himself that here was a little game that beat any other
known sport to flinders.
[Illustration: NOW HERE'S A CUNNING LITTLE LINE", HE PURSUED. THAT
SHOWS SOMETHING TOO.]
At a sale of old pictures and art objects, said Sadie, supremely
confident that he was reading her mind.
A sale of pictures, of course, Barnes led her on.
Yes, she was bidding on a picture and he whispered to her that it
was a copya fraud, and not to buy it. That was the way they got
acquainted. But he wouldn't let her tell auntie anything about him.
Just a moment, cried Barnes. Here's a bit of good luck. I'd
almost overlooked that line.
Sadie was on fire with curiosity and looked eagerly into his eyes.
You meet a dark manand he prevents the elopement.
Perhaps that's you! exclaimed the delighted girl, withdrawing her
hand and jumping to her feet.
I'm sure it is, said Barnes, nodding his head.
Oh, I'm so glad.
But wait, said Barnes, going very close to her. Please pay
attention to every word I say. Do all you can to get your cousin to
change her mind; then, if she won't, tell your aunt. But don't tell her
until the last minute, andbut here's your cousin.
CHAPTER XIX. HELEN LEAVES AN
Helen Burton and Travers Gladwin were almost at the door leading
from the treasure room when the young man stopped and confronted the
girl, whose eyes were still bright with the anger he had kindled in
them. He smiled rather sheepishly as he said:
Suppose I were to tell you that I am Travers Gladwin and that the
other Travers Gladwin with whom you think you are in love is not
Travers Gladwin at all?
Her lip curled and she regarded him scornfully. But she said
He went on into the other room, holding back the portière for her to
Why don't you answer my question? he insisted as she passed him.
It is much too silly, she said sharply. Then in a different tone
to her cousin, who still stood by Whitney Barnes, with her color coming
and going by turns:
Oh, Sadie, why didn't you come with us? Travers has the most
Then you are not going to answer my question? Travers Gladwin
I said it was much too silly, the girl returned with increasing
vehemence. Gladwin came forward and explained to Barnes and Sadie:
I have been asking MisserI've been asking how she'd take to the
idea of my being Travers Gladwin.
Helen was now thoroughly aroused as she turned:
Why do you persist in asking such a question?
I was wondering, he said quickly, whether you were in love with
the man or the name.
Have I given you the impressionshe began, haughtily, scarcely
able to control her anger.
Yes, you have, he said warmly, and with all the dramatic emphasis
he could command. I am afraid you were thinking more of that rescue at
Narragansett and your desire to be free of poor Mr. Hogg than you were
ofof my poor friend.
This insult was more than she could endure. She turned her back to
address Whitney Barnes.
Shall you be here when Travers returns? she said imperiously.
I am sure to see him before I leave, responded the young man.
And would you be kind enough to give him a message for me?
She had gathered up her fur piece and muff and was moving toward the
Delighted, said Barnes, with a deferential bow.
Thank you so much. I want you to tell him that I cannot avoid the
opera to-nightthat I have simply got to go, but that I'll get away as
soon as I can and come to him directly from there.
But you can't do that, interposed Sadie in a voice that thrilled
But I am going to do that, cried Helen, her face aflame and her
head held high. And now we must goI'd no idea we'd stayed so long.
Good-by and thank you.
She had taken a step toward the entrance to the hallway when Gladwin
You didn't say good-by to me, he said in an injured tone. Then
with a sudden vehemence: But I am glad you didn't, for we are going to
I suppose we shall if you are here when I return, she said coldly
and without looking at him.
When you return? he said, in quick surprise.
Yes, when I come back here to-night, in the same disdainful,
You're going to meet Travers here to-night? he queried, in
Yes, I am. He wanted me to meet him at the station, but I insisted
on coming here.
And what time was it Travers wanted you to meet him here? I'd
At half-past ten, answered Helen, taken off her guard and
submitting unconsciously to his cross-examination.
Oh, yes, at half-past ten, he repeated. That's right.
But you, pointedly addressing Barnes, must tell him I may be
I will, acquiesced Barnes, a trifle bewildered.
I hope you will be very late, cut in Gladwin.
What do you mean? she caught him up.
I mean you have no idea what a mad thing you are going to do.
Pleaseshe began icily.
Don't be angry, he pleaded. I'm saying this for your good.
I don't care to hear it.
But you've got to hear it, he cried. To leave your aunt and run
off with a man you hardly knowwhy you must be mad even to think of
How dare you speak to me in this way?
If ever a young lady's fur was up, as the saying is, such was the
case with the enraged Helen Burton. If her eyes had been weapons to
slay, Travers Gladwin would have been annihilated at a glance. But he
stuck doggedly to his guns.
Well, somebody ought to speak to you, he ran on. Can't you
understand that this man is no goodthat he must be a scoundrel to ask
you to do such a thing, that
Stop! I forbid you to say any moreto say such horrible, cowardly
things about him behind his back. You, who claimed to be his dearest
Her anger was suddenly checked by a thought that flashed in her
Only a few minutes ago you said you were glad I was going to marry
Mr. Gladwin, and that you would do everything in your power to help.
And I jolly well meant it, he acquiesced, with a low bow.
You meant it! Then how could youoh, and she started suddenly
from him, why didn't I see it before? You've been drinking.
Barnes turned away with an uncontrollable snicker. Gladwin was
stunned. As he saw her leaving him he made a last desperate effort:
But just a moment. Please allow me to explain. I said I wanted you
to marry Travers Gladwin, because I am
I don't care why you said it, she flung at him, because I don't
think you know what you are saying.
She fairly sailed through the portières, leaving the young man
staring after her in a state of utter mental collapse.
The little cousin had listened to this impassioned dialogue in the
attitude of a frightened bird, standing first on one foot and then on
the other, struggling with all her small nervous force to hold back the
tears. As Helen disappeared, a sob escaped her and she ran forward.
Barnes started after her.
Oh, Miss Sadiejust one word!
Oh, don'tplease don't! she wailed over her shoulder.
But won't you let me call on youjust once? he pleaded, in real
Sadie stopped, gave him one frightened glance, smiled through her
tears and burst out:
I shall be delighted.
Then she was gone and a moment later the door slammed.
CHAPTER XX. MICHAEL PHELAN TO THE
The slamming of the front door of the Gladwin mansion struck upon
the two young men as a numbing shock. They stood looking at each other
with eyes that saw not and with expressions of idiotic vacancy.
Within the span of a brief half hour they had been swept along on a
rushing tide of emotions. They had been thrilled and mystified,
mystified and thrilled. Nor was there any relief in the reaction. There
was more mystery and more thrill ahead that demanded immediate action.
Naturally the bulk of the thrill was heaped upon Travers Gladwin. He
was not only fiercely convinced that he had fallen desperately in love,
but the unknown beauty who had kindled this passion had revealed that
she was coming that night to his home to meet and elope with a villain
and an impostor.
Here was a situation to scatter the wits of a Napoleon! It was no
wonder that for a few moments his thoughts flattened themselves against
an impassable barrier. Whitney Barnes was the first to revive and
Now what do you think of that? he drew out with a long breath.
I haven't begun to think yet, Gladwin managed to stammer. I'm in
no condition to think. I'm stunned.
And you've travelled all over the universe in search of a thrill,
eh? Now you've got one you don't know what to do with it.
While Gladwin was groping for a reply to this thrust Bateato breezed
in with a swift sidelong rush, carrying a bulging portmanteau.
Bag all packed, sair, announced the little Jap, standing at
Take it back. I'm not going now, said Gladwin, gruffly. Bateato's
entrance had nipped another idea in the bud.
You no go? said the Jap, in surprise.
No gotake backunpack.
Ees, sair; 'scuse me, and Bateato started off with his usual
Hold on, Gladwin checked him. Wait a minute. Don't unpack it.
Leave it in the hall. I may want it at a minute's notice.
Ees, sair, and the wondering valet steamed out into the hallway
What are you going to do now? asked Barnes, lighting a cigarette
and offering one to his friend.
Gladwin took a turn about the room, puffing nervously at the
cigarette. Coming to a sudden stop he faced Barnes and reeled off in a
I'm going to marry that girl! I've been all over the world, seen
all kinds of 'em, and right here in my own house I find the onethe
only one, on the verge of eloping with a bogus me. But I'm going to
expose that man whoever he isI'm going to rescue her from him.
Yes, for myself, and I'm going to put him where he can never annoy
her any more.
How the deuce are you going to do all this? asked Barnes, planking
himself down into a chair.
I don't know, said the other, but I'm going to move the whole
Western Hemisphere to do it, if necessary.
Rather a large contract, drawled Barnes. But I say, Travers, if
that fellow is going to steal your pictures it sort of sizes up as a
case for the police.
Of course, agreed Gladwin. I was just thinking of that. Where's
that man of mine? Bateato! Bateato!
Bateato responded with the swift obedience of a jinn rising from a
Ees, sair, and the little son of Nippon stood stiffly at
attention. Ladies run off in autbile, he volunteered as his master
Never mind thatI want you to find a policeman, commanded
Pleesmanwhere I find him? asked Bateato in alarm, recalling his
uncomfortable experience with Officer 666.
Try a saloon, said Gladwin. And when you've found him, bring him
Ladies steal something? ventured the Jap, starting for the door.
Autbile go fast like winds.
Some one is going to try and steal something, replied the young
man. We must see that they don't. Hurry, now!
Ees, sair. 'Scuse me, and Bateato vanished.
That's the way to do it, Barnes enthused, rubbing his hands. Get
a policeman in here, and when the other Mr. Gladwin shows up nab him.
Then this marriage can't come off without the aid of a prison
The excitement that for an instant had transfigured Travers Gladwin
suddenly left him. A look of dismay spread over his features.
By Jove, Barnes! he cried. We can't do this!
Why not? asked Barnes.
Why? Because it would make a tremendous scandal. I'm not going to
have my future wife mixed up in any public hoorah for the newspapers.
Think of ither name in the papers coupled with the name of a crook!
Her picture on one side and a Rogues' Gallery photograph on the other.
Impossible! The police must know nothing about it.
I don't follow you, said Barnes. What are you going to dokill
him and stuff him in that chest? He probably deserves it, but it would
he an awfully unpleasant thing to have around the house.
Shut up! Let me think, cut in Gladwin.
Then he added with swift inspiration: Now I've got it. I'll wait
outside for her to come and warn her of her danger. You stay in here
and be on the lookout for the man.
Whitney Barnes threw up his hands and ejaculated:
Good night! He made as if to start for the door.
No, no, Whitney, cried Gladwin, we must see this thing through
together. You wouldn't want this sweet, young, innocent girl connected
with a sensational robbery, would you?
No, Barnes agreed soberly; neither would I want any robber's
bullets connected with me.
You're a coward! blurted Gladwin, hotly.
You bet I am, acquiesced Barnes, and I'm alive to tell it.
Likewise I may have some marriage plans of my own. But keep your hair
on, Travers. Let us do some real thinking, unaccustomed as we are to
it, and see if we cannot devise some safer plan.
What plan is there? groaned Gladwin.
Let us thinkconcentrate, suggested Barnes, posing himself with
his elbow on one hand and his forehead supported on the fingers of the
other. Gladwin unconsciously fell into the same pose, and so they
stood, side by side, with their backs to the hallway.
Thought of anything? Barnes broke the silence.
Not a thing, retorted Gladwin, peevishly. A broken-legged
minute had crawled by when Barnes spoke again:
I've got it.
What? Gladwin asked, uninspired.
Simplest thing in the world. Why didn't I think of it before?
Somehow I don't think it's going to be any good, muttered Gladwin,
without relinquishing his thoughtful pose.
Listen, said Barnes, impressively. Go straight to the aunt and
tell her the whole thing.
Gladwin whirled around and gripped his friend's hand.
By Jove, you're right, Whitney! We can make a lot of excuses for
her, youth and innocence, and all that. I didn't think you had it in
you. Come on, we'll go together!
Barnes's face fell and he stammered:
But where does she live?
Where does she live? Don't you know?
It was Gladwin's turn to throw up his hands.
And don't you even know her name?
Then how in blazes were you going to call on that girl?
By thunder! I forgot all about getting her address, admitted the
Gladwin uttered a mirthless laugh and said with sarcastic scorn:
Oh, yes, you had a fine plan! I might have suspected as much.
Pile it on; pile it on, growled Barnes. I guess the pater has me
sized up about right.
But we must do something the police will know nothing about, urged
Gladwin. Let's concentrate again. Maybe a real idea will break out.
Again the two young men wrinkled their brows in profound absorption.
They succeeded so well in their effort at concentration that neither
was aware of the precipitate entry of Bateato and Michael Phelan, both
of whom had sprinted a distance of two blocks. Phelan was puffing like
a tugboat and stopped at the threshold of the room to catch his breath.
He had prepared his mind for all manner of excitement and had burst in
upon a tomb-like silence to be greeted by two inscrutable backs.
What's this, he panted. Eden Musee or a prayer-meetin'?
Barnes glanced over his shoulder and frowned.
Keep quiet, he said. We're thinking.
Gladwin strove to invent an excuse for getting rid of the policeman.
What do you want? he bluffed, as if amazed at the sudden invasion.
What do I want? shrilled Officer 666. I come to find out what
I don't want anything, said the young man with exaggerated
politeness. Thank you very much, but I don't want anything. Good
Good evening! echoed Barnes, with another glance over his
Michael Phelan turned purple. He hadn't indulged in the most
exhausting sprint in six months to be made sport of.
Which one of youse sent for me? he rasped out.
The two young men pointed to each other, which only served to fan
the flame of Phelan's wrath.
Is one of youse Mr. Gladwin? he gurgled.
They repeated the pantomime until Gladwin caught the fire in
Phelan's eye and decided that it would be better to temporize.
I am Mr. Gladwin, he bowed.
Phelan measured him from the ground up as he filled his lungs for
Why did yez send for me? he demanded savagely. This here little
Japanaze come runnin' wild-eyed down me beat an' says there's two women
been robbin' the house. What's all this monkey business?
Bateato is mistaken, said Gladwin, forcing a laugh.
No, sir! cried the Jap excitedly. Ladies run off quick in big
Now waitthat's enough, Gladwin stopped him.
You tell me find plece, persisted the Jap, who saw the terrible
wrath of Michael Phelan about to flash upon him.
That's enough, Gladwin sought to shut him up.
You say they stealI go saloon
Don't talk any more! Don't speak again! Go back to the hotel and
wait for me. I'll send for you when I want you. Stop! Not another
Bateato gripped his mouth with his fingers and stumbled out of the
Avoiding the still glowering eye of Officer 666, Travers Gladwin
turned to Barnes and attempted to say casually:
When Bateato gets an idea into his head there is no use arguing
with him. There is only one thing to dodon't let him speak.
The young man started to hum a tune and strolled toward the heavily
curtained window that looked out on Fifth avenue.
CHAPTER XXI. TRAVERS GLADWIN GOES IN
SEARCH OF HIMSELF.
Policeman Michael Phelan was at first undecided whether to pursue
the departing Bateato and arrest him as a suspicious person or to
remain on the scene of mystery and get to the bottom of what was going
He chose the latter plan upon the inspiration that if he arrested a
millionaire he would get his name in the paper and Rose might read of
it and come to some realization of the immensity of his official
He was further urged to this course by the insolent nonchalance of
the two young men. They weren't paying any more attention to him than
they were to the inanimate sticks of furniture in the room.
Well, what did yez send fer me fer? he broke out again, hurling
the words at Travers Gladwin's back.
I thought you might like a drink, replied that young man, turning
slowly and smiling upon the enraged bluecoat.
I never touch it, shot back Phelan, an' that's no answer to me
Gladwin stared at Phelan steadily a moment, his smile vanishing. As
he measured the officer's height and build an idea came to him. His
face lighted as he exclaimed:
I've got a great idea! Officer, I want you to do me a little favor.
How would you like to make five hundred dollars?
If he had said four hundred dollars, or even four hundred and fifty,
the effect would not have been half so great upon Michael Phelan. The
mention of an even five hundred dollars, though, was the open sesame to
the very depths of his emotions. Five hundred dollars represented the
talisman that would lead him safe through Purgatory into the land of
sweet enchantments. The fires of his wrath were instantly cooled and he
Are yez tryin' to bribe me?
Not at all, sergeant, said the young man gravely.
I ain't no sergeant, Phelan retorted.
All right, lieutenant, laughed Gladwin, his good humor increasing
as his sudden idea took shape in his mind.
Don't call me lieutenant, said Phelan, with a return of temper.
Well, it's this way, captain.
Nix on the promotion stuff, shot back Phelan, the consciousness
returning that he was being kidded. I'm patrolman and me name is
Michael Phelan, and I'm onto me jobmind that!
No offense, officer, Gladwin hurried on. I'm sure you're onto
your job. No one could look at you and doubt thatbut I'll give you
five hundred dollars if you'll lend me your uniform for awhile.
Fifiunisay, what kind of a game are youse up to?
Two big events in Phelan's life had blazed their films upon his
memory in a blinding flash. First there was Rose, and then there was
that nightmare of a Coroner's case, when he had fled hatless and
coatless down the stairs of a reeking east side tenement, pursued by
the yells of a shrieking corpse.
It's no gameit's a joke, replied Gladwin.
Whitney Barnes, who had been listening eagerly and had sensed
Gladwin's inspiration, chimed in:
Yes, officer; it's a joke.
Yez are offering me five hundred dollars for a joke? said the
That's it, returned Gladwin. I want to take your place; I want to
becomestepping forward to read the number on Phelan's
shieldOfficer 666 for a little while.
Phelan couldn't believe his ears. Stepping to one side he said
behind his hand to Barnes:
This feller's off his dip. Don't he know that if I lent him me
uniform it'd be me finish.
That's all right, spoke up Gladwin. I'll guarantee to protect
you. No one will ever know about it. You'll never make five hundred so
S-s-say, stammered Phelan, what's this all about?
Well, I've found out that a thief is going to break in here
A thief! gasped the policeman.
Yes, just for a joke, you know.
A thief going to break in here for a joke! yelled Phelan. Now I
know you're batty.
Not a regular thief, the young man corrected hastily. He's a
friend of mineand I want to be waiting in your uniform when he comes.
I want to nab him. The joke will be on him, then, you know.
All very simple, you see, added Barnes.
Simple asno, I don't see, snarled Phelan. The two of yez is
But you will see, went on Gladwin, if you'll let me explain. In
order to be a policeman I've got to have a uniform, haven't I?
Of course he has, urged Barnes.
And yez are offering me five hundred dollars for a joke?
Phelan dropped his arms limply at his side and permitted his eyes to
bulge ad lib.
That's it, cried Gladwin. I assure you it is nothing serious or
criminal. I just want your uniform long enough to catch my friend and
I'll give you five hundred dollars for lending it to me.
It's too big a risk, panted Phelan, producing an elaborate bandana
and mopping his brow. I won't do it.
It was manifest that Officer 666 was sorely tempted. To goad him
further Travers Gladwin produced a little roll of yellow-backed bills
from his pocket. Fluttering the bills deftly he stripped off one
engraved with an M in one corner and 500 in the other. He turned it
about several ways so that Phelan could study it from all angles. Then
he fluttered it before Whitney Barnes and said:
Say, Barnes, there's something really handsome about these
yellow-backs, isn't there? Notice how that five and those two naughts
are engraved? And it's amazing how much a slip of paper like this will
This was too much for Phelan. He reached for the bill and grabbed
it, stuffed it into his trousers pocket and began unbuttoning his coat.
Suddenly he stopped.
Say, he sputtered. S'pose there should be a robbery on my beat?
That would be fine, said Gladwin. I'd be a credit to you.
Or a murder?
Oh, the risk is awful, groaned Phelan. He started to button up his
coat again when Rose's taunt came back to him. This time the tempter
delivered a vital blow and he tore off his uniform coat and passed it
to the young man. Gladwin slipped it on over his other clothes. It
fitted snugly. It just happened that the suit he wore was dark blue and
his trousers matched accurately.
Now the bonnet, he said, reaching for the uniform cap and removing
it from Phelan's head.
And now officer, your sword. He grasped the proffered belt and
buckled it on with a flourish, making as natty a figure of a cub
policeman as one would want to meet.
Phelan stood looking on dumbly, his face a study in conflicting
emotions. Barnes's admiration of his friend's nerve was beyond power of
words. When Gladwin started for the doorway, however, he called after
Hey there, Travers, where are you going?
On duty, he responded cheerily. And by the way, Whitney, give Mr.
Phelan that tray and decanter and see that he goes down into the
kitchen and stays there until my return. You remain on guard up here.
I'll look after the outside. So long, mates.
Hold on, Phelan called out feebly. I'd like to know what the
divvil it all means. I'm fair hypnotized.
It means, said Gladwin, pausing and turning his head, that I'm
going outside to wait for myselfand if I find myself, I'll arrest
myselfif both myself and I have to go to jail for it. Now, do you get
No, I'll be damned if I do! gurgled Phelan, but the words had
scarcely passed his lips when the departmental guise of Officer 666
vanished from sight and the front door slammed with a bang.
CHAPTER XXII. A MILLIONAIRE
POLICEMAN ON PATROL.
Travers Gladwin went bounding down the steps of his own pretentious
marble dwelling with an airy buoyancy that would have caused Sergt.
McGinnis to turn mental back handsprings had he happened to be going by
on his rounds. But, fortunately, McGinnis had passed on his inspection
tour shortly before Michael Phelan had been summoned by Bateato. For
three hours at least Officer 666 would be supreme on his beat.
While the McGinnis contingency had never entered young Gladwin's
mind it did suddenly occur to him as he strolled jauntily along that he
had neglected to ask Phelan to define the circumscribed limits of his
post. What if he should happen to butt into another patrolman? Certain
exposure and all his plans would go flui! Then there was the danger of
being recognized by some of his neighbors and friends. Ah! it came to
him in a twinkling. A disguise!
Here goes, he said aloud. I'll jump a taxi and see if I can hunt
up a hair store!
The time was 7 P. M., with the inky darkness of night blanketing the
city so far as inky darkness can blanket a metropolis.
The thoroughfare on which the young man stood was a long lane of
dazzle, wherefore the nocturnal shadows offered no concealment. He cast
his eyes up and down the avenue in search of a tramp motor-hack
cruising in search of a fare. He had only a moment or two to wait
before one of the bright yellow variety came racketing along. He stuck
up his hand and waved his baton at the driver. There was a crunching of
brakes and the taxi hove to and warped into the curb. The chauffeur had
the countenance of a pirate, but his grin was rather reassuring.
Say, me friend, began the young man, in an effort to assume
Michael Phelan's brogue, do you know the way to a hair store?
A what? the chauffeur shot back, while his grin went inside.
A hair storeI want a bit of a disguise fer my featureswhiskers,
false hair or the like.
Did ye stop me to kid me? snarled the chauffeur. Ye don't need to
think 'cause you got on a bull's uniform ye can hurl the harpoon into
me. Or if it's a drink ye're wantin' reach in under the seat an'
there's a flask. If ye meant hair oil why didn't ye say it?
Thanks, but 'tis no drink I'm afther, said the young man. 'Tis a
ride to a hair store, an' here's a tin-spot fer yer trouble.
It was the way Travers Gladwin handled the skirts of his coat in
getting at his money that convinced the wise chauffeur that he had no
real policeman to deal with. His grin came back and looped up behind at
I getcher, Steve, he broke out, reaching for the bill. If it's
disguises ye're after hop inside an' I'll tool youse over to Mme.
Flynn's on Avenue A.
To demonstrate to his uniformed fare that speed laws in the greater
city of New York fail to impose any manner of hamper upon the
charioteering of the motor-driven hack, the chauffeur of this
canary-colored taxi scampered across town at a forty-mile-an-hour clip,
during which Patrolman Gladwin failed to familiarize himself with the
quality of the cab's cushions. But it was not a long ride and there was
some breath left in him when the cab came to a crashing stop.
The young man was on the point of opening the door when a voice
Kape inside, ye boob, an' pull the blinds down. There's coppers on
every corner. Now, what is it ye want in the way o' whiskers or hair?
Ye can slip me the change through the crack.
What's the prevailin' style? asked Gladwin, with a laugh. Are
they wearin' brown beards?
They are not, mumbled the chauffeur. I guess a wee bit mustache
an' a black wig will do ye, an' if ye want I'll get ye a pair of furry
Fine, cried the young man, poking a $20 bill out through the crack
in the door, and don't be long. The door slammed and a great
stillness clapped down, broken only by the running of the taximeter,
which seemed to be equipped with a motor of its own.
The millionaire cop sat back luxuriously and inhaled a deep breath.
Gad! he exclaimed to himself, I'm really beginning to live.
Nothing but thrills for four hours and more and larger ones coming.
Presently the chauffeur returned, opened the door a few inches and
shoved in a small package.
Ye'll have to paste 'em on in the dark, he said. Or ye can light
a match. Ye'll find a wee mirror in the bundle. Now where'll I drive
Back to me fixed post, said Gladwin, only take it easy while I
put me face on straight.
If ye don't git it on straighter nor your brogue, chuckled the
chauffeur, it'll not decave a blind man.
In another instant the return journey was under way at reduced
Travers Gladwin first tried on the wig. It was three sizes too large
and he had to discard it. Next he had some trouble in deciding which
was the mustache and which the eyebrows. He had burned his fingers
pretty badly before he made the selection and likewise he had singed
one of the eyebrows.
But he managed to plaster them all on before the cab stopped and
after one glance in the little mirror he was confident the disguise
When he stepped out of the taxi, at almost the very spot where he
had boarded it, he felt that a big weight had been lifted from his
How do you like me? he asked the chauffeur, gayly. Is it an
I wouldn't say yis nor no to that, said the chauffeur, but 'tiz a
disguise, an' that's what ye were wantin'. Thim eyebrows is grand.
Thanks, laughed Officer 666, an' here's a wan hundred dollar bill
which asks ye to forget me uniform, me number an' me face.
'Tiz done, agreed the chauffeur, tucking away the bill, on'y take
a tip from a wise gink an' keep deep in the shadders. An' whin ye pinch
your frind don't let him holler too loud.
The yellow taxi was gone with a rush, leaving Gladwin to wonder at
the amazingly shrewd guess of its pilot.
When I pinch me frind, he murmured. 'Twas just what I said to
He was gazing after the taxicab when from the opposite direction
there suddenly rolled into view a vast touring car with a familiar
figure at the wheel, and alongside the familiar figure a very pretty
The car was barely rolling along, while its two occupants were
talking earnestly, their heads as close together as was possible under
Johnny Parkinson, as I'm alive! uttered Travers Gladwin. Me old
college chum, and as per usualmaking love. Yis, me grinning chauffeur
frind, here's where we make a pinch an' test Mme. Flynn's eyebrows.
Officer, do your duty!
Out he stepped into the roadway and raised his nightstick.
The big car came to a sudden stop and the two occupants stared
angrily at the cause of the interruption.
I arrest yez in the name o' the law, cried Patrolman Gladwin,
scowling so fiercely that one of the eyebrows was in danger.
What's that? snorted the young aristocrat.
You're me pris'ner, said Gladwin, easily. I arrest ye fer
breaking the speed lawsracin' on the aven-oo.
It's an outrage! cried the pretty passenger. We were scarcely
You must be joking, officer, said Johnny Parkinson, not very
belligerently, for he had a bad record for speeding and wasn't sure
that some earlier offense was not involved.
I'm not jokin', replied Gladwin, walking to the door of the
tonneau and opening it, and ye'll oblige me by drivin' to the police
station. He got in and lolled back cozily in the cushions.
Johnny Parkinson let in the clutch and rolled northward. This was
the strangest pinch of his experience and he didn't know just what to
make of it. After he had gone a few blocks he turned on his
captor-passenger and said:
Which station shall I drive to?I'm sure there must be some
There's no mistake, responded Gladwin, fairly screaming with joy
inside at the bewildered and frightened look of his friend. As for
police stations, take your pick. I ain't particular. Drive round the
block a couple o' times an' make up your mind.
Johnny Parkinson turned the first corner and then turned again into
Madison avenue. Gladwin could hear the couple on the front seat
whispering excitedly, the girl almost in hysterics.
You've simply got to do something, Johnny, she was saying. You
know if we get our names in the paper father will be furious. Remember
what he said about the last time you were arrested for speeding.
Running along Madison avenue, Johnny Parkinson slowed down, turned
again to the uniform in the back seat and said tremulously:
Can't we compromise this, Officer? I
Not on the aven-oo, Mr. Parkinson. You've got too bad a record. But
if ye'll run the machine over into Central Park where there ain't so
many sergeants roamin' round we might effict a sittlemint.
A smile of great gladness illuminated the features of Johnny
Parkinson. He let in the clutch with a bang and it was only a matter of
seconds before the ninety horsepower car glided in through the
Seventy-second street entrance to Central Park and swung into the dark
reaches of the East Drive. Slowing down again the young man at the
wheel turned and said anxiously:
The smallest I've got is a century and I really need some of that.
That's aisy, rejoined Gladwin. Sure'n I change hundred dollar
bills ivry day. Slip me the paper an' here's a fifty, which is lettin'
ye off aisy, seein' ye're an ould offinder.
The transfer of bills was made swiftly, whereupon Gladwin commanded:
Now run me back to me peg post an' drop me off, on'y take it slow
an' gradual or I might have to pinch yez again.
A few minutes later Gladwin heard the young girl say passionately:
Oh, Johnny, how could you give him the money? He's no better than a
thief. I hope you've taken his number.
It wouldn't do any good, dearest, said Johnny, sadly. They're all
in together and I'd only get the worst of it. But did you notice,
Phyllis, that he looks a lot like Travers Gladwin?
Impossible! retorted the girl. Travers Gladwin is good looking,
and this man's nothing but an Irish monster.
The girl was about to speak again when she was sure she heard
muffled laughter behind her. Then the car sped on into the avenue and
just missed colliding with a Fifth avenue motor 'bus. Officer 666 was
put down a block from his own home and resumed the patrolling of the
immediate precincts of the Gladwin mansion. His only parting salute
from Johnny Parkinson's car was a flashing glance of contempt from the
girl, whose identity he strove in vain to place.
CHAPTER XXIII. OLD GRIM BARNES GETS
The precipitate departure of Travers Gladwin left Whitney Barnes and
the shirt-sleeved Michael Phelan staring blankly at each other. The
unfrocked policeman was anything but an imposing figure and the
contortions of distress in his rubicund countenance were grotesque
enough to kindle the sense of humor in a far less volatile mind than
that of Whitney Barnes. His smile came to the surface and spread out in
full blossom. But it failed to find reflection in the features of Mrs.
What the divvil are ye grinnin' at? snarled Phelan. Ye wouldn't
see no fun in it if it mint your job an' your pension an' your
silf-respect. Now, what is it all about?
There you have me, officer, responded the young man, lightly. The
riddle is dark on all four sides. You and I are in the same
boatguardians of the castle against the mysterious foe. While you
guard the moat from the kitchen I will operate the portcullis.
Talk sinse, will yez? hissed Phelan. What in blazes has moats an'
portcollars to do with it?
Only in a way of speaking, laughed Barnes. But calm yourself, Mr.
Phelan, my friend is both wise and discreet. He will do no dishonor to
your cloth, and together we will see that you suffer no material damage
in this life. I am unable to explain further without uttering more
confusion, so kindly take yonder tray down into the kitchen. That
little door on the extreme right I believe opens the way to the lower
regions. I am sure Bateato left the lights on.
May the blessed saints presairve ye if it's a trap ye're riggin'
fer Michael Phelan, breathed that gentleman, shaking his head
dubiously. 'Tis not a step I'll go down into that kitchen till yez
lead me the way, and if there's any more ravin' maniacs down in them
quarters I warn ye it's shootin' I'll be after doin'.
And Phelan patted the bulge in his hip pocket as he swung around.
Barnes led the way through the long, narrow corridor to the rear of
the house, while Phelan followed, muttering and grumbling every inch of
the way. There was no further conversation between them while they
investigated the elaborate quarters below stairs, and at last Phelan
ceased his mutterings and accepted from Barnes an armful of cook books
with which to regale himself until he was summoned to resume his
Returning to the big silent rooms above, Whitney Barnes was utterly
at a loss how to occupy himself. The thundering stillness got on his
nerves and he found himself thinking of a dozen different things at
once. But as idea pursued idea the image of the shy and winsome Sadie
persisted in intervening.
So he dropped Travers Gladwin, or rather the two Travers Gladwins,
Helen, Phelan and all the others from his mind and gave himself up to
the beatific contemplation of the picture that was most soothing to his
For a while he lolled back in one of the great chairs, shut his eyes
and revolved pleasant visions. Suddenly he thought of his father and
sprang to his feet.
By Jove! I'll break the news to the pater, he cried. There's a
telephone somewhere in this house, and I'll call him up at his club.
He fairly danced out into the hallway, switching on lights wherever
he could find a button to press. Presently he located the phone in a
secluded alcove and slumped down on a divan with the instrument in his
As a matter of fixed routine, it happened that this particular hour
found Joshua Barnes, mustard magnate, settled down to his cigar and
coffee, in which he found immense comfort after a hearty meal. To be
disturbed at this most luxurious moment of the day was, to a man of his
temperament, about as pleasant a sensation as being stung by a
He sent the club attendant back to the phone with a savage growl and
the message to his son to call him up in an hour or to come to the club
in person. The attendant crept back with the report that Barnes junior
insisted that there could be no delaythat he had a vastly important
matter to report on.
Old Grim Barnes flung down his cigar, gulped his coffee till he
choked and stamped off to the telephone booth.
Well? he bellowed.
That you, patersorry to disturb you, but
Of course it's important and no damn nonsense about it, I
No, I haven't been arrested and am not in a police station.
Then what the devil
No devil, nothing of the sort. On the contrary, quite the
opposite! I've called you up to report progress
You know better than that, dad. I've only had two drinks.
I'd better take four more and sober up? Now, Father Barnes, will
you oblige me by cooling off for an instant? You recall that this
afternoon you gave me a year within which to find a wife. Well, I've
found one already.
Now you know I'm intoxicated? Was my voice ever soberernow
You won't listen? But you must. This is all up to you. You
commanded. I obeyed. Say, dad, she's an angel. I'm madly in love with
Who is she? Well, er, I really don't knowthat is, her first name
is Sadie. I
Sadie what? Sadie OmahaI mean she lives in Omaha.
What is her last name and who are her people? To tell you the
truth I haven't found that out yet. I
I'm an ass?a blankety, blank ass? Just wait till you see her! I
met her up at Travers Gladwin's, and
Travers is in Egypt! No, yes, of course he is, but
The final outburst of paternal expletive fairly hurled Whitney
Barnes from the phone.
There, by thunder! He's rung off in a rage.
There's the ungrateful parent for you! he muttered as he made his
way back to Gladwin's drawing room. Here I've gone and broken my neck
to fall in love for him and that's all the thanks I get for it. Well,
I'll marry her in spite of him, if he doesn't leave me a dollar. I
could starve in a garret with her, and if I got too dreadfully hungry I
could eat her. Hi, ho! but, say, Mr. Whitney Barnes, you had better
switch off some of these lights. This house isn't supposed to be
He left just one heavily shaded bronze lamp abeam. Then he carefully
drew all the curtains across the windows and tiptoed about the room
with the air of a sinister conspirator. He stopped in front of the
great, mysterious-looking chest to one side of the entrance to the
hallway, lifted the heavy lid and looked in.
Here's where we will put our dead, he said, with a lugubrious
grin, let down the lid softly and crossed abruptly to the roomiest and
coziest chair beside the curtained window. After another sweeping
glance about the room he stretched his arms and yawned.
Reckon I better sleep off that jag the pater presented me over the
wire, he chuckled, and down he slid into the soft upholstery, raising
his long legs upon another chair and sighing with deep contentment. His
eyes roved about the room for a moment, when he smiled suddenly and
Why, let the stricken deer go weep;
The hart ungalled play,
For some must watch, while some must sleep:
So runs the world away.
And upon the suggestion of the immortal bard he chose the sleeper's
end of it and passed away.
CHAPTER XXIV. AUNTIE TAKES THE
Mix a tablespoonful of corn starch with a quarter of a cupful of
water. Stir this into a cupful of boiling water, and boil for two
minutes; then add the juice and rind of a lemon and a cupful of sugar,
and cook three minutes longer. Beat an egg very light, and pour the
boiling mixture over it. Return to the fire and cook a minute longer,
stirring all the whilea most tasty lemon sauce
T' 'ell wit' these limon sauces! exploded Michael Phelan, hurling
the book across the room and bounding from his chair. Sure 'n I'll
niver be able to look a limon in the face agin. Limon, limon,
limonthese blame books are filled wit' 'em. 'Tis a limon I am mesilf
an' all fer a limon colored bill. But I'll not stand it a minute
longer, shut down into this tomb wit' nothin' but mice fer comp'ny.
Wurra! Wurra! Rose O'Neil, but your blue eyes an' your black hair an'
your divilish smiles have spelled me finish.
Phelan wrung his hands and took a turn around the room. Now and
again he stopped and shook his fist at the ceiling, and at last, beside
himself, he made a rush for the door that led to the stairway. Opening
a crack, he listened. Nothing but heavy silence beat down on him from
above and he shivered. He looked back into the kitchen and his eye fell
on the pile of cookbooks. With a muttered oath he flung himself through
the doorway and crept upstairs.
He had to feel his way through the narrow slit of a corridor above,
and it was with an immense sigh of relief that he opened the door and
stepped into the great drawing room he had left. In the dim light of
the one glowing lamp he made out Whitney Barnes deep in the embrace of
a great chair and sonorously asleep.
So that's the way he's kapin' watch! hissed Phelan through his
teeth, as he fairly pounced across the room. First he seized the young
man's feet and threw them from their resting place to the floor,
exclaiming as he did so:
Here youwake up!
Yes, dear, mumbled the young man in his sleep, I could abide with
Don't yez be afther dearin' me, snarled Phelan. Wake up!
Barnes opened his eyes and asked thickly:
What are yez doin' there? cried Phelan.
What am I doing here, rejoined Barnes, now wide-awake and getting
on his feet. Why, I'm keeping watch at the windowon guard as it
On guard, is it? snorted Phelan. On guard an' snorin' like a
bazoo. 'Tis a fine night watchman ye'd make. But, say, hain't ye seen
nothin' o' Mr. Gladwin since?
Now, I told you, Officer, returned Barnes severely, that I would
let you know just as soon as he returned. I have been keeping guard
here, and no one could enter the house without my knowing it. You will
kindly return to the kitchen and wait.
An' you got no word from him? asked Phelan, in manifest distress.
No, with emphasis.
Oh, my! oh, my! complained Phelan bitterly. Sure this is the
worst muddle I ever got mesilf into! The sergeant will find him in that
uniform, sure. It'll cost me me job, that's what it will! How late is
Barnes consulted his watch.
Five minutes past ten.
Howly Moses! If I ever get out of this scrape I pity the mon that
offers me money fer the lind o' me uniform agin. I'll grab him by
A sharp ring at the doorbell cut him short and wrote another chapter
of tragedy in his countenance.
Hello! there's some one at the door, spoke up Barnes. You'd
better go and see who it is, Officer.
Me! gurgled Phelan. Me! an' walk into the arms o' Sergeant
McGinnis. Let 'em stay out, whoever it is, or yez go yersilf.
All right, said Barnes, and in case it should be your friend
McGinnis you better go and hide in the kitchen, like a brave officer.
I'll let you know when it's time to come out.
Phelan did not budge as Barnes left the room, but stood muttering to
himself: How the divvil did I iver let mesilf in fer this thingI
dunno! That's what love does to yeza plague on all women! If
Helen, Helen, where are you? cried a shrill feminine voice that
seemed to clutch the very heart of Michael Phelan with a grip of ice.
Howly murther! What's that? he breathed, backing away from the
Help! Murder! Police! was borne in on him in even more agonized
tones, and before he could move another step Mrs. Elvira Burton burst
into the roomflushed and wild-eyedin the throes of one of her
famous fits of hysterics.
Phelan took a backward leap as she came toward him, and she yelled:
Stop! stop! Where's my niece?
With his eyes almost out on his cheeks Phelan managed to articulate:
You know what I meandon't deny it! Mrs. Burton shrilled.
I don't know what yez're talkin' about, protested Phelan, backing
toward the doorway that led to the kitchen.
The hysterical woman stopped, struggling for breath. When she could
speak again she said fiercely:
Who are you?
Tell me who you are or I'll have you arrestedI'll call the
Oh, for the love of hiven, don't call the police! begged Phelan,
still backing toward the door.
Then tell me what you are doing here.
I'll answer no questions, cried Phelan. With a desperate backward
leap he gained the narrow doorway behind and vanished. He pulled the
door shut and clung to the knob, hearing the muffled demand hurled at
Here! Come back here! Helen! Helen! I want my niece! Oh, Helen,
come to auntie!
Then Barnes and the other pretty ward of the distraught Mrs. Burton
entered the room. The young man had stopped Sadie in the hallway to ask
a few questions and endeavored to soothe the frightened girl. He had
taken possession of her hand again and still held it as he led her to
the door of the drawing room.
They did not attempt to enter until after the precipitate
disappearance of Michael Phelan. As Mrs. Burton stood looking
helplessly at the closed door, her ample bosom heaving and her breath
coming in short hysterical gasps, Barnes was whispering to Sadie:
Ah, Miss Sadie, I can't tell you how overjoyed I am at seeing you
again. And so that's your auntiefancy that chap refusing to meet her!
That was as far as he got. Auntie suddenly wheeled round and caught
sight of him.
Ah! Gladwin! she screamed and made a rush for him.
With all his characteristic aplomb and insouciance Whitney Barnes
was unable to face such a rush with any degree of calmness.
No! no! a mistake! he retorted and sought to sidestep.
Mrs. Burton was too quick for him and seized his arm in an iron
Where is Helen? What have you done with her? she demanded in the
same wild tones.
I-I-I d-d-don't know, stammered Barnes.
You have hidden her somewhere and you must give her up, stormed
the woman. You're a scoundrelyou're a kidnapperyou're a wretch.
She flung Barnes from her with all her strength and he slammed
against the wall. She was about to charge upon him again when Sadie
rushed between them.
Oh, auntie, she cried. This is not Mr. Gladwin.
Of course he isn't, chimed in Barnes, trying to shake himself
together again. He isn't Mr. Gladwin at all.
Then who are you? cried Mrs. Burton.
Oh, he's some one else, Sadie assured her.
Yes, you bet I am, continued Barnes, striving his best to appear
his usual jaunty self. I'm some one else entirely differentI-I'm not
Gladwin in the least.
What are you doing here? shot out Mrs. Burton.
Ah, that's it, he responded. I'm on guardkeeping watch!
I knew it! I knew it! and the shrill voice rose to a plangent
pitch again. You have hidden her away. Helen! Helen!
Now, now, nowmy dear lady, broke in Barnes, soothingly.
I'm not your dear lady, she flashed on him.
My dear auntieMrs. Burton's hysteria was becoming contagiousI
beg your pardon, he added hastily, your niece, Miss Helen, is not
here. I've been watching for hours, and she's not hereno one is
That shirt-sleeved man is hereand you're here!
But, auntie, he's a friend of Mr. Gladwin's, interposed Sadie.
Ah, ha! I knew it! screamed Mrs. Burton. He's in the plot. And
again she plunged for him, crying, You're his friendyou're helping
him to steal my niece. But you shan'tI'll prevent itI'll search the
house. Come, Sadie!
Barnes dodged skilfully and permitted Mrs. Burton to pass out into
the hallway. Sadie was about to follow when the young man stopped her.
But I must go with auntie, Sadie objected.
Never mind auntie now. I want to tell you about your cousin.
Then you've seen her?
But you know where she is?
Then what can you tell me about her?
Everything! Sit down, please. Remember you asked me to help you and
I promised to do so.
Mrs. Burton had managed to switch on the lights in the big reception
room back of the hallway and was searching behind curtains, under
books, behind pictures and in innumerable other places, after the
manner of hysterical women.
I said I would help you, you know, ran on Barnes.
Yes, and Sadie looked up into his eyes confidently.
Do you know why I promised?
No. Why did you?
Barnes bent down toward her and said with all the ardor he could
Because from the moment I saw you I became your slave. When I saw
how distressed you were about your cousin this evening my heart went
out to youthe instant you left I decided to act and I've been acting
Oh, how kindwhat have you done?
Yes, watched. You don't understand that, but it's a very serious
matter. If you only knew how serious this whole thing is you'd realize
how I am trying to help you, and the risk I am taking.
Oh, how noble of you! How brave you are! and if Mrs. Burton had
waited another moment before returning to the room she would have had
another case for hysterics on her hands entirely separate and
independent of Helen's elopement.
I can't find herI don't believe she's in the house, wailed Mrs.
Barnes regarded her dumbly for a moment and then said slowly and
My dear lady, I assure you that she is not in the house. If you'll
only listen a moment
I won't listen, Mrs. Burton snapped him up.
Sadie jumped to her feet and rallied to Barnes's defense:
But, auntie, this gentleman has been doing everything he can to
help useverything. He's been watching.
Watching? Watching what? demanded auntie, suspiciously.
Ah, that's it! What? What haven't I been watchingfor hours?
But what have you been watching for? Mrs. Burton shrilled.
I mean for yoursand Miss Sadie's sake, and now if you'll wait
here and watch with me
Now I see it all, stormed Mrs. Burton, shaking her hand at Barnes
wrathfully. You want to keep us here. Helen and that scoundrel have
gone and you want to prevent our following them.
No, auntie, he's trying to help us, sobbed Sadie.
He's lying to you, child, said Mrs. Burton, shooting vindictive
glances at Barnes. Don't you know he's a friend of that wretch
Gladwin? But they can't hoodwink me. I know what to do now! Helen is
not of ageI'll swear out a warrantI'll have him arrested for
abduction, a State prison offense.
No, no, no, implored Barnes, in real alarm, you must not do that.
That will make the whole thing public, and that is just what Gladwin is
trying to avoid.
Don't you suppose I know that, sneered Mrs. Burton. He's probably
a bigamist. He may have a dozen wives livingthe beast!
But won't you understand, insisted Barnes. He's trying to save
Now, what are you talking about?
Mrs. Burton regarded him as if she had suddenly realized he was a
raving maniac. And by way of justifying her inspiration he stumbled on
I don't knowyou see, it's this way. Gladwin and I only found it
out this afternoonquite by accident. And we decided to save her.
That's enoughstop! cried Mrs. Burton. You're talking all this
nonsense to detain us. But I won't stay a minute longer. Come, Sadie,
we will go to the police station. I'll never rest until I have that
monster in jail.
And with another dagger glance at Barnes she swept her niece and
herself out of the room and out of the house to the waiting automobile.
Barnes gripped his forehead in both hands to steady his reeling
Isn't that just like a woman, he complained. After explaining
explicitly she's going to have him arrested. But, by Jove! I must find
Travers and warn him that the police are on his track.
Seizing his hat and stick he rushed out into the night, just in time
to see Mrs. Burton'sor rather Jabez Hogg'sbig car glide away from
the curb and shoot down the avenue like a vast projectile.
CHAPTER XXV. PHELAN MEETS HIS
About the time the Gladwin mansion was ringing with the shrill
staccato outbursts of Mrs. Elvira Burton, the owner of that luxurious
dwelling was leaning against the Central Park wall a few blocks away
engaged in earnest conversation with a small boy.
You ought to be in bed, the young man was saying, severely,
looking down at the lad and noting how thinly he was clad and yet how
little he appeared to suffer from the sting of the chill night air.
Bed nuttin', responded the boy, curtly. I'm lookin' fer me dog.
Did yez seen him go byhe's a t'oroughbred an' lost one ear battlin'
with a bull.
Oh, so you're her brother, then, laughed Gladwin.
Who's brudder? asked the boy, suspiciously.
May's, said Gladwin, or I should say the brother of Miss May
Hully gee! ejaculated the boy. Did dat kid skin out too after me
an' the old man tellin' her to stay in bed an' shut up her bellerin?
Yes, said Gladwin, and the young lady, with my aid, found the
valuable animal you are searching fora black dog with a white spot
over the right eye and no tail.
Hully gee! cried the boy, ecstatically. She found him, eh? Well,
who'd a-t'ought it, an' me lookin' fer him tree hours. Where did she
find him, officer? His name's Mikenamed after me old man's boss what
We found him in the park in company with a disreputable friend,
A yaller mut? asked the boy, with a contemptuous emphasis on the
mut. Dat's the janitor's dog an' he's nottin' but a tramp. I wisht
he'd fall in de river an' get et by a catfish.
I wouldn't wish him all that hard luck, laughed Gladwin, for he
had a large bone he was sharing with Mike. I was watching them over the
park wall when May came along. I sent them all, and the bone, home in a
In a which? ejaculated the boy, while his eyes popped.
In a taxi, said Gladwin, lightly.
Aw, say, and the little chap's jaw fell, now I know you're
kiddin'. Where'd May git the price of a taxi, an'
Oh, I arranged all that, the uniformed mystery explained
reassuringly, and if you'd like I'll call one for you. You look pretty
tired. I guess you've walked a good many miles on the trail of Mike.
The youngster tried to speak, but could not. The very thought of a
ride in a taxicab froze his brain. Gladwin took him by the hand and led
him to the curb.
Now, would you prefer a yellow or a red one? he asked. There's
all kinds going by.
Yaller, cried the boy. I likes them best.
They had only a moment to wait, when one of the mystic yellow hue
cruised round a corner and came toward them. Gladwin hailed it and the
chauffeur stopped with a wondering look at the pair.
Gladwin had a bill ready in his hand and passed it up to the
Take this boy over to No. 287 East Eightieth street, commanded
Gladwin, and whatever you've got left out of the tenspot above what
the meter registers, split the change with the boy. And as for you son,
patting the urchin on the head, you keep your eye peeled on the meter.
Gee! Will I? responded the boy, and as Gladwin opened the door he
hopped in and took up a perch where he could best observe the
fascinating operations of the register.
The chauffeur, a bullet-headed, cross-eyed individual, squinted at
the bill half a dozen times before he stowed it away in his pocket and
set the meter. Then he made a swift, fierce scrutiny of Travers
Gladwin's face, shook his head, swallowed a mouthful of oaths, threw in
the clutch and spurted diagonally for the cross street.
As he vanished, the uniformed similitude of Officer 666 consulted
his watch, made out that it was almost 10.30 and strode rapidly in the
direction of his home. He wore a smile that was fairly refulgent.
Wouldn't have missed this night patrol for a hundred thousand, he
said inwardlyand they say that the life of a patrolman is a
Arriving at the stoop of his home he reconnoitered the avenue in
both directions and then looked up at the black windows of the house. A
sudden lull had come upon the neighborhood and there seemed not a soul
stirring. He sped lightly up the stoop and let himself in. He was
surprised to find the lights burning brilliantly in the drawing-room
and no sign of Barnes. The heavy curtains, he saw, were carefully
arranged to prevent the merest ray of light from showing outside. He
took the further precaution, however, of turning off all but the single
globe in one lamp.
He speculated on the disappearance of Barnes until he heard a
stealthy step approaching through the corridor that led to the kitchen.
Without noise he glided to the window and concealed himself behind the
He had scarcely hidden himself when the hinged panel that answered
for a door opened slowly and the countenance of Michael Phelan
protruded itself into the room. The Phelan shoulders and embonpoint,
still in negligee, followed. Taking a cautious step forward he uttered
behind his hand:
Pst! Pst! Hey, youse there!
There was no answer, and Phelan worked his head round like a wary
Who was that woman, I wonder? She must have took that Slim Jim away
with her. Musha! Musha! If they should call the police. Bad cess to
that feller an' his five hundred dollar bill. Murther! Murther! I'm
Travers Gladwin had stepped out of the folds of the curtain.
Hey, there! he blurted. What are youse up to?
Howly Saint Pathrick! I'm gone now, sure! groaned Phelan, and
trembled where he stood.
Come, come, Officer 666, laughed Gladwin, I'm only your ghost.
Phelan exhaled a tremendous sigh of relief.
The Lord be praised if it ain't yez! he exclaimed, delightedly.
But where did ye get that disguise?
At a hair storeMadam Flynn's on Avenue Ado you like it?
laughed the young man. I didn't want any of my friends or neighbors to
recognize me, you know.
But fer the love o' heaven where have yez been all the time? asked
Phelan, sinking into a chair and breathing hard.
Patrolling my beatI mean your beat, returned the young man, and
keeping my eye out for my friend the burglar. Oh, I've had quite a
party. When I got hungry I sent to the Plaza for lunch and sat on the
park wall and ate it. And, by the way, I saw a friend of mine coming
along in an automobile and I arrested him for speeding.
What! Phelan exploded, jumping to his feet and turning white as
his boiled shirt.
Yes, nabbed him for breaking the speed limit, Gladwin nodded,
leaning back against a table and lighting a cigarette.
Fer, fer, fer breakin' the speed limit; fer, feryez made an
Exactly! He was going so slow he deserved to be arrested, and
what's more, he was making love to a pretty girl without shame. I got
in and told him to drive me to the station.
Phelan threw up his hands with a groan.
An' did yez take him to the station?
How could I? chuckled Gladwin. I didn't know where it wasthat
is, your stationso I told him most any would do. We rode about a bit
and as he didn't seem anxious to be locked up, I compromised for fifty
dollars. It was really quite simple, Phelan, and if I'd only had more
time I might have got back that five hundred.
[Illustration: GIVE ME ME UNIFORM AN' LET ME GIT OUT OF HERE.]
You've lost me me jobthat's what you've done! moaned Phelan,
while his brain reeled with pictures of police headquarters, trial
rooms and ruthless commissioners. Come, give me me uniform, he cried,
with a sudden accession of passion.
What's that? asked the young man, quickly, his grin vanishing.
Me uniform! rasped Phelan, with a rush toward the young man. Give
me me uniform an' let me git out of here.
Gladwin dodged around the table, protesting:
No, nonot yet. The burglarthat is, my friendwill be here any
Your friend? Phelan stopped, again a prey to bewilderment.
Yes, yesI explained all that before. The one I'm playing the joke
on. You don't suppose I'm going to take it off now, do you?
Yez can bet your life, yez are, roared Phelan, with another savage
rush round the table. I've had enough of this, an' too much!
Now, just a minute, pleaded Gladwin. I assure you everything is
all right, and I'm not going to leave the house again. If anything
happens so you need your uniform I'll be right here where you can get
it. I'm not going to leave the house. Tell me, where's Barnes?
Who? said Phelan, more calmly, and pausing in his pursuit.
My friendthe one I left here.
I dunnothere was a ring at the bell here a while ago and in come
a wild woman and
Great Scott! I hope my friend wasn't scared off! If that fellow was
to meet her here at 10.30why, it's after that now!
Here! Phelan, quickhelp me put these covers on the chairs and
things. Over there in the corner, back of the chest. He mustn't know
that anybody's been here. Hurry, man; hurry! we haven't a second to
Phelan submitted to the breathless commands as if he were
hypnotized, puffing and blowing like a porpoise as he struggled to slip
the linen covers over the chairs. Gladwin worked at top speed, too; and
just as he was covering the great chest he gave a start and held up his
Sh! he whispered. There's a motor stopping outside. You go down
into the kitchen and be ready to come up if you hear me whistle.
But ye'll promise yez won't leave the house with them clothes,
No, nocertainly not. Be quick nowI'll switch off this light and
step out on the balcony. Close that door tight after you and be sure
you switch out the lights in the back hall.
Gladwin only waited for the disappearance of Phelan and the soft
closing of the door when he plunged the room into darkness. He could
hear the click of a key in the front door lock as he groped his way to
the window curtains and pressed back into the semi-circular recess that
led out onto a window balcony. As he did so he unlatched the heavily
grilled balcony window, drew out his penknife and slit a peephole in
CHAPTER XXVI. GLADWIN MEETS HIMSELF.
Standing as stiff and immovable as if he had been turned to stone,
Travers Gladwin peered with one eye through the narrow aperture he had
slashed in the heavy brocade portière. Still gazing into inky darkness
he could hear the cautious tread of two persons. His senses told him
that one of the visitors was a heavy, sure-footed man and that the
other was of lighter build and nervously wary. His deductions ceased
instantly as a flash of light crossed his vision.
For a moment the concealed watcher saw nothing save the incisive ray
of light that cut like a knife thrust through the darkness; then as he
followed the shaft of light to its source he made out the silhouette of
a man in evening dressa white shirt front, square shoulders that
branched off into the nothingness of the cloaking shadows and a
handsome, sharp profile that lost itself in the gloom of a silk hat.
He also made out a cane from which the flashlight beamed. It was a
new device to the experience of Travers Gladwin, and he watched it with
the same fascination that a man is wont to manifest in the gleam of a
revolver muzzle that suddenly protrudes itself from the mysterious
depths of night.
The wielder of this smart burglar's implement did not move as he
gashed the darkness with the ray of light, and to Gladwin he seemed
inordinately calm. His companion was somewhere behind him, groping, and
did not come into the picture until suddenly he found the push button
in the wall and switched on the full glare of the electroliers
suspended from the ceiling.
Gladwin saw and recognized. He drew in a deep breath of surprise.
It was Watkins, the thieving butler he had discharged in London. His
attention did not linger on this familiar soft-shuffling tool of the
master thief, however, but snapped back to the big, good looking young
man with the branching shoulders and erect, confident carriage.
Used as he was to immaculate exteriors, Travers Gladwin had never
seen a better groomed man. He had never seen a man with a quicker eye
and more unconscious grace of movement.
It was no wonder that bitter envy gnawed his heart for a little
while as there rose again before him the picture of that bewilderingly
pretty girl and her passionate insistence that she would elope with
Travers Gladwin in spite of any and all obstacles.
That underneath all these splendid sheathings the man had the mean
spirit of a deceiver and a robber never entered the young man's head.
But presently things began to happen with such avalanching rapidity
of action that there was not even a second to spare for speculation
upon the vast gap between their social positions.
The lights had hardly been switched on before the big fellow put the
sharp query to his companion:
Watkins, is this room just as you left it when you went away with
I don't know, sir, replied Watkins, with characteristic deference
of tone. Bateato, the Jap, closed the house.
H'm, said the other, laying his cane and hat on a table and
drawing from the pocket of his light overcoat a blue print diagram of
the house. Casting his eyes about the room, he unfolded the diagram and
pointed to it, nodding his head behind him for Watkins to come and
We're in this room now, he said, easily.
Out that way is the corridor to the kitchen.
He pointed to the panel-like door which a few minutes before had
swallowed the very much undressed Officer 666.
And there's no other way out save through the front door or by way
of this balcony behind those curtains?
And, still running his finger over the diagram, on the floor
above are Gladwin's apartments.
Yes, sir, at the head of the stairsfirst door to the left.
H'm, very good, slipping the diagram back into his pocket and
lifting his eyes to the great portrait of the ancestral Gladwin.
Ah! he exclaimed suddenly and with palpable relish, that's a
Stuart! Is that the great-grandfather, Watkins?
Yes, sir, responded Watkins, without any of his companion's
H'm, with the same grim emphasis, and off came the overcoat to be
carelessly tossed across his hat and stick. His eye fell upon the great
antique chest by the wall.
He lifted the lid to inspect its void interior. Glancing up above
it, he motioned to Watkins and said:
Here, help me get this out of the way.
Watkins glided to one end of the chest and together they hauled it
clear of the wall. This done, he addressed Watkins as if he were but a
creature to command:
I can manage alone in here, but I want to be ready to leave by the
time Miss Burton arrives. You go outside and wait in the carand keep
a sharp lookout.
Watkins bowed himself out with his stereotyped, Yes, sir, and the
door clicked gently after him.
The now lone invader returned to his interested survey of the
paintings that covered the walls, turning easily on his heel until his
line of vision embraced The Blue Boy.
From his difficult peephole Travers Gladwin could see the sharp,
stern features wrinkle with smiles before the intruder laughed lightly
and breathed with seeming great enjoyment:
Ha! The Blue Boy.
The smile went out as swiftly as it had come and was replaced by an
utterly different expression as he swung about and visualized the
Rembrandt on the wall above where the great empty chest had stood.
There was reverence and quick admiration in every feature as he
bowed and exclaimed with a long sigh:
Rembrandt! Rembrandt! God!to paint like that!
The emotions of this remarkable young man came and went with the
quickness of his eye.
While still in the act of outpouring his admiration he whipped from
the tail of his dress coat a flat fold of a dozen or more sheets of
wrapping paper, shook them out and laid them on the lid of the chest.
With another swift gesture he produced a knife, sprang the thin
gleaming blade and walked up to the Rembrandt.
He raised the knife to the canvas with the ease of a practiced hand,
when he heard a movement behind him, and turned his head.
Travers Gladwin had stepped from the sheltering screen of portières
and stopped abruptly.
Whatever shock this sudden apparition of a uniformed policeman was
to the man caught in the act of cutting a priceless canvas from its
frame he managed to conceal by taking tight grip of every muscle in his
His eyes revealed nothing. There was no rush of color to or from his
face. His first change of expression was to smile.
Dropping the arm that poised the knife, he let himself down easily
from tiptoe and turned squarely to Gladwin.
Good evening, Officer, he said without a tremor, showing his teeth
in as engaging a smile as Travers Gladwin had ever looked upon.
Evenin'! said Gladwin, shortly, with an admirable affectation of
Do you find something on the balcony that interests you? said the
other slowly, still holding his smile and his amazingly confident
You climbed up there to enjoy the moonlight, perhaps? he added,
even more softly, gaining reassurance from the wooden expression that
Gladwin had forced upon his features.
No, not the moonlight, responded the uniformed similitude of
Officer 666, the other light. I seen 'em go on. This house has been
closed for months.
Oh, yes, to be sure, the other shrugged. You're most alert,
Officerright on the job, as they say. I congratulate you.
I've been watching this house ever since Mr. Gladwin went away,
said Gladwin slowly, unable to make up his mind whether to call Phelan
or to continue the intensely interesting dialogue.
His visitor decided the situation for him by coolly lighting a
cigar, taking a few deliberate puffs and turning it over in his fingers
to inspect it as if it were the only object worth attention in the
Gladwin read this elaborate by-play for what it was worthan effort
to decide just how best to play his partand was pleasantly thrilled
with the realization that he himself was so well disguised in the
uniform of Officer 666.
So he clung to his own rôle and forgot Michael Phelan.
H'm, said the invader, reflectively. That's very good of you,
Officer. Let me offer you this as a slight token of my appreciation.
His left hand slid into his trousers pocket and brought up a roll of
bills. His nonchalance was a perfect mask as he stripped off one of the
bills and held it out carelessly to Gladwin.
On his part, Gladwin's expression was superbly blank as he reached
for the bill, pocketed it and said with his purring brogue:
Thank ye, sorr! And might I ask who ye are?
H'm, that's good, chuckled the other, now thoroughly master of
himself and utterly confident.
Now, who do you suppose, Officer, would come to the front
doorunlock itwalk in and turn up the lights?a thief?
They do sometimes, said Gladwin, cocking his head to one side with
an air of owlish wisdom.
The other raised his eyebrows to express surprise.
Do they really? he drawled. You amaze me, Officer. I've always
supposed they broke in somehow and used dark lanterns.
Not always, said Gladwin, obstinately.
The big man shrugged his shoulders contemptuously, puffed his cigar
for a moment and said indulgently:
Well, I'm sorry, Officer, to deprive you of the pleasure you would
evidently derive in catching a thief and making an arrest. Now, with a
light laugh, who might you imagine I was?
Well, if I wasn't sure Mr. Gladwin was across the Atlantic I'd
imagine that yez were Mr. Gladwin himself.
This was said with such laborious canniness that the thief made
haste to discover just how the land lay.
Oh, so you're sure Mr. Gladwin is abroad, eh?
Well, I see be the papers.
A real hearty laugh escaped this time, and he added brightly:
Well, Mr. Policeman, I'll tell you something to help you make a
good shrewd guessMr. Gladwin is not abroad!
Then yez are Mr. Gladwin, sorr! cried the young man eagerly, as if
delighted at the discovery.
The other leaned back against the table, crossed one foot over the
other and said musingly:
You found me out, OfficerI must admit it. Permit me to thank you
again for looking out for my house, and if you don't mind I'll double
this little reward.
Again the roll of bills came out and another $20 gold certificate
was gathered in by Officer 666, who grinned as he took it.
Thank ye, sorr!
The gesture with which this second benefaction was bestowed was a
gesture of dismissal and the bestower set off on an easy saunter about
the room, humming a tune.
Officer 666 did not move, and after a moment the other casually
You don't seem to be in any hurry to get back to your post,
No, sorrI ain't in no hurry.
Have a cigar, then, and one was offered with the same assumption
of good-natured indifference that had accompanied the tender of the
bribes. Gladwin accepted the cigar, took off his cap, dropped it in and
returned the cap to his head.
The thief was puzzled for a moment, until it occurred to him that it
would suit his purpose best to have this thick-skulled copper in his
company rather than have him go outside and discuss the matter with a
more shrewd superior. Therefore he said quickly:
Oh, officer, could you be spared off your rounds for, say, an
Why, yes, sorr; I think so.
Well, I want you to do me a favor. I'll pay you well for it.
What is it?
You look to me like a chap who could keep a secret?
That's part o' me trade.
Good! Well, then, I'm expecting a call from a lady.
Oh, I see, sorr, and Gladwin forced another fatuous grin.
No, you don't see, said the other, impressively. This lady is my
Well, that's your business, sorr.
Gladwin was beginning to enjoy the battle hugely.
You don't understand, explained the thief. I'm about to be
Oh, yez are about to be married! with a slight wince.
Yes, I'm going to be married to-nightsecretly.
Is that so? Well, I can't help yez about that, can I?
Oh, yes, you can, because I want it kept quiet on the lady's
Well, I'll help you keep it quiet on the lady's account!
with an emphasis that got away from him, but was misinterpreted.
Good! and out came the roll of bills again and another yellow boy
was slipped into the greedy palm of Officer 666.
Thank you, sorr. But what can I do, sorr?
I'll show you later on. In the mean time help me take the covers
off this furniture and make the place look habitable. Hurry now, for I
haven't much time. That's the ideabrisk. Switch on the hall
lightsyou can find the button. Then go upstairs and straighten my
Gladwin stopped in his activities as if he had run against a wall.
Your room, sorr?
Yes, at the head of the stairs, first door to the left. Then come
back here and help me pack.
CHAPTER XXVII. MISADVENTURES OF
Just as it had not occurred to Travers Gladwin to ask Michael Phelan
to define the limits of his beat along Fifth avenue so it happened that
Whitney Barnes went forth in search of his friend without even the
vaguest notion of where he might be found.
It is doubtful if young Mr. Barnes knew what a policeman's beat was.
Certainly he did not conceive of it as a restricted territory.
He had gone about six blocks at his best stride, eagerly scanning
both sides of the avenue before the thought came into his mind that he
might be going in the wrong direction and that he might keep on
indefinitely to the Staten Island ferry and obtain never a glimpse of
the borrowed uniform of Officer 666.
But I must warn the chap, he thought fiercely, or there will be
the very deuce and all to pay.
Whitney slowed down, came to a full stop and was meditatively
chewing the head of his cane when an automobile halted at the curb. A
head thrust itself out of a window of the limousine and a musical voice
Why, Mr. Barnes, what are you doing here?
Whitney Barnes guiltily jumped and barely missed swallowing his
Volplaning to earth, he looked for the source of this dismaying
interruption. He recognized with a start one of the past season's
débutantes whose mamma had spread a maze of traps and labyrinths for
himMiss Sybil Hawker-Sponge of New York, Newport, Tuxedo and Lenox.
Before he could even stutter a reply a motor footman had leaped down
from the box and opened the door of the limousine. Miss Hawker-Sponge
fluttered out, contrived her most winning smile and repeated:
Why, Mr. Barnes, what are you doing here?
Her big doll eyes rolled a double circuit of coquetry and slanted
off with a suggestive glance at the massive doorway of the
Hawker-Sponge mansion, one of the most aristocratically mortgaged
dwellings in America.
It is rather late for a call, she gushed suddenly, but I know
Impossible! cried Barnes. That isI beg your pardonI should be
charmed, but the fact is I was looking for a friendI mean a
policeman. Eryou haven't seen a good looking policeman going by, have
you, Miss Sybil?
All the coquetry in Miss Hawker-Sponge's eyes went into stony
You are looking for a policeman friend, Mr. Barnes? she said
icily, gathering up her skirts and beginning to back away. I hope you
She gave him her back with the abruptness of a slap in the face.
In another moment he was again a lone wayfarer in the bleak night
wilderness of out-of-doors Fifth avenue.
Indubitably he had committed a hideous breach of good manners and
could never expect forgiveness from Miss Hawker-Sponge. She had really
invited him into her home and he had preferred to hunt for a policeman
friend. Yet the tragedy of it was so grotesquely funny that Whitney
Barnes laughed, and in laughing dismissed Miss Hawker-Sponge from his
He must find Travers Gladwin, and off he went at another burst of
He covered about three blocks without pause.
A second and far more sensational interruption came from a side
street, and again of the feminine gender.
It was a tall, weird looking figure wound in a black shawl and it
bumped squarely into Whitney Barnes and brought him up sharply,
spinning on one foot.
Before he stopped spinning he felt himself seized by the arm.
Without warning a bundle was thrust into his arms and he had to
clutch it. In another instant the weird figure had fled up the avenue,
turned a corner and vanished.
Instantly the bundle that Whitney Barnes held awkwardly and
painfully, as if it were a firebrand, emitted an anguished wail.
If that wasn't a pretty pickle for Whitney Barnes! His cane had
clattered to the pavement and he did not dare stoop to pick it up. The
anguish from the bundle he held increased terrifically in volume. He
could feel beads of perspiration running down his face.
What in desperation was he going to do with that awful bundle? He
knew intuitively that the tall, shawled figure would never return.
My God! he cried, I'll be arrested as the father of it, and what
will Sadie say to that?
It was no wonder that the son and heir of Old Grim Barnes sweated.
It wasn't perspiration. One doesn't perspire in such awful straitsone
sweats, like a navvy.
It seemed ages before he could form the impulse to move in any
direction for any definite purpose. He was on the point of making up
his mind to lay the bundle on the doorstep when he sensed a heavy step
from behind and was paralyzed by the gruff ejaculation:
Well, I'll be damned!
Barnes twisted his head and beheld a big, deep-chested policemana
haughty domineering policemanwho showed in every inch of him that the
gods had anointed him above the mere ranks of mortal patrolmen.
Take it! take it! cried Barnes, extending the bundle toward the
uniformed presence. It's not mine, he almost shrieked. A woman gave
it to meand I have a very important engagement and must hurry.
Sergeant McGinnisfor 'twas none otherdrew back and waved the
bundle from him.
Just a minute, my young friend, he spoke through one side of his
large mouth. You'll hold that infant till its mother comes or you'll
go with me to the police station and tell your story to the captain.
But I can't wait, wailed Barnes. I've got to find a policeman.
A policeman, eh? Well, here's one for you, and a sergeant at that.
I mean a friend. It's horribly important. I'll give you anything
you ask if you'll only take this howling bundle.
None o' that, young feller, McGinnis snapped him up. You'll give
me nothing and you'll come sharp and straight to the station. Now I
know there's something back o' this.
But I haven't time, Barnes objected. It's most horribly important
that I should find
Chop it! Chop it! You'll come with me, and you'll lug that infant.
If you won't come quiet I'll slip the nippers on you.
Barnes realized the hopelessness of the situation and looked about
Stop that taxicab, officer, he urged, as he saw one of the
vehicles approaching. I can't walk like this. I'll pay the fareI'll
McGinnis consented to this arrangement. The taxicab stopped. A few
minutes later it bore the sergeant, his prisoner and the still howling
infant to the threshold of the East Eighty-eighth street police
McGinnis consented to carry the infant as they got out and once
inside the station lost no time in turning it over to the matron.
Hello, McGinnis, said Lieut. Einstein from the desk; what's all
McGinnis explained in a few crisp sentences.
Is the captain in, Lieutenant? he asked. This young fellow is
after trying to bribe me.
Barnes protested that such a thought had never entered his head.
I simply told him, he declared hotly, that I had an important
Looking for a policeman, he says.
For a friend. I may have said policemanI may have said anything
in such a beastly situation. I am sure that when the captain hears me
he will understand immediately.
That may be true, sir, said the lieutenant politely, but the
captain is out at present and won't be back till after midnight. If you
want to, you can sit in the back room and wait for him.
Further protestations were unavailing. With a sigh of despair Barnes
permitted himself to be led to the back room, where he dropped down on
a chair and looked savagely about him.
The room was empty and there was nothing to gaze at save four blank
walls and a black cat sitting in a corner idly washing its paws. Now
and then a door opened, a face peered in and the door shut again.
Somewhere a clock ticked dolefully.
An hour passed while the young man sought in vain to enchain his
incoherent thoughts. He could think of nothing vividly. He could recall
nothing at all.
Whenever the wail of that infant the matron was caring for reached
him he writhed and ground his teeth.
In this sad plight he remained until a door near him opened and a
man in plain clothes came stealthily in. He walked straight to Barnes,
bent down and whispered:
If you've got a hundred-dollar bill about you drop it onto the
floor and walk out. The lieutenant won't see you.
The individual turned on his heel and went out the way he had come.
He did not shut the door tightly behind him. Barnes felt that an eye
was watching through the slit, so he lost no time in jumping to his
feet, getting his money out of his wallet and dropping two
one-hundred-dollar bills on the floor.
This done, he jammed the wallet back in his pocket, picked up his
cane and gloves and opened the door through which he had entered the
room. He started warily forward with his eyes straight ahead. He could
feel that the lieutenant who sat behind the high-railed-off desk was
the only person in the room and he could hear the scratch of his busy
Gaining the street entrance, he drew an immense sigh of relief,
opened it eagerly and fairly leaped outside to the steps. As the door
shut behind him he thought he heard a sudden explosive laugh, but it
meant nothing to him as he hurried along blindly, increasing his pace
at every stride.
At the corner of Third avenue he stopped and consulted his watch. It
CHAPTER XXVIII. AN INSTANCE OF EPIC
Travers Gladwin scaled the great staircase three steps at a time.
Stumbling against a divan he threw himself across it and lay for a few
moments stretched on his back with every muscle relaxed. He felt as if
he had been buffeted by mighty tempests and overwhelmed by cataclysms.
His head throbbed with fever and he felt a sickening emptiness inside.
How was he going to avert the catastrophe of an elopement and at the
same time save himself and that charming young girl from a shrieking
scandal? There didn't seem any coherent solution. If Whitney Barnes had
only remained with himat least to lend him moral courage!
Where had the confounded ass gone? Why didn't he return? A fine
friend in need was he!
There was no time to unravel his perplexities and lay any definite
plan. He must act, taking his cue as it was presented to him by the
racing events of the moment.
He got up from the divan and rushed downstairs. He cleared the last
landing, with a momentum that slid him across the polished floor of the
hallway after the manner of small boys who slide on ice. He fairly
coasted into the room, but his precipitate intrusion did not in the
least disturb his visitor.
During Gladwin's brief absence that supernaturally composed
individual had cut the Rembrandt from the frame and laid it on one of
the sheets of wrapping paper he had spread out on the chest. He had
also cut out a Manet, a Corot and a Vegasall small canvasesand hung
them over the back of a chair.
As the owner of these masterpieces skidded into the room the thief
was taking down a Meissonier, frame and all, fondling it tenderly and
feasting his eyes on the superb wealth of detail and the rich crimson
and scarlet pigments in the tiny oblong within the heavy gilt mounting.
Ah, Officer, you are back, he said easily, as Gladwin staggered
against a table and gripped it for support. The methodical despoiler
did not so much as turn his head as he placed the Meissonier on the
chest and deftly cut out the canvas. His back was still squared to the
flabbergasted young man as he continued:
Come, get busy, Officer, if you are going to help me. Take down
that picture over there on the right.
He pointed, and went on wrapping up the immensely valuable plunder.
Gladwin got up on a chair and reached for one of the least
noteworthy of his collection.
No, nonot that one, said the thief, sharply,the one above,
an old Dutch painting that had cost a round $10,000.
The young man took it down gingerly, biting his lips and cursing
That's it, he was rewarded, bring it here.
Gladwin managed to cross the room with an appearance of stolid
indifference and as he handed the picture to the collector he said
I take it these pictures is worth a lot of money, sorr.
You're right, I take it, said the other with a laugh, beginning at
once to slash out the canvas.
Yes, sorr, I mean, you take it! said Gladwin viciously. The
wrathful emphasis missed its mark. The collector was humming to
himself and working with masterful deftness.
Now that woman's head to the left, he commanded as soon as he had
disposed of the Dutch masterpiece. And be quick about it. You move as
if you were in a trance.
Gladwin saw that he was to take down his only Rubens, wherefore he
deliberately reached for another painting, The Blue Boy.
No, not that thing! exclaimed the collector.
Why, what's the matter with this one, sorr, snapped back Gladwin.
It's a fake, said the other, contemptuously. I paid two old
frauds five hundred pounds for that thing in London a couple of years
agoit's absolutely worthless from the standpoint of art.
Gladwin looked at him in open-mouthed amazement and slid from the
chair to the floor.
How had this astounding person come by the secret of The Blue Boy?
There was a positive awe in Gladwin's gaze as he sized up the big
managain from his shining patent leather shoes to his piercing eyes
and broad, intellectual forehead. He fairly jumped when the command was
repeated to take down the Rubens and hand it to him. As he handed it
over he stammered:
I don't think much of this one, sorr.
You don't? said the other, in pitying disgust. Well, it's a
Rubensworth $40,000 if it's worth a cent.
Yez don't tell me, Gladwin managed to articulate.
Indicating the full length portrait of the ancestral Gladwin, he
added, Who is that old fellow over there, sorr?
Kindly don't refer to the subject of that portrait as fellow, the
other caught him up. That is my great-grandfather, painted by Gilbert
Charles Stuart more than a century ago.
You monumental liar, was on Gladwin's lips. He managed to stifle
the outburst and ask:
Are yez goin' to take all these pictures away with yez to-night?
Oh, no, not all of them, was the careless reply. Only the best
How unspeakably kind of him! thought the unregarded victim.
If yez wanted the others, he said with fine sarcasm, I could pack
'em up afther ye're gone an' sind thim to yez.
That might be a good idea, OfficerI'll think it over, the
pilferer thanked him.
Then he went on with his task of taking the back out of the mounting
of the Rubens, showing that he did not trust his knife with such an
ancient and priceless canvas.
Gladwin was thinking up another ironic opening when the door bell
rang. He jumped and cried:
If that's the lady, sorr, I'll go and let her in.
No, you wait here, the other objected. She might be frightened at
the sight of a policemanyou stay here. I'll let her in myself, and
he strode swiftly out into the hallway.
CHAPTER XXIX. IN WHICH THE HERO IS
KEPT ON THE HOP.
Travers Gladwin watched the big handsome mis-presentiment of himself
disappear into the hallway with every nerve at full strain.
As he heard the door open, then a delighted feminine cry and the
unmistakable subtle sound of an embrace, he ground his finger nails
into his palms and bit his lips. Every fibre of him burned with jealous
hatred of this impostor.
If there had been only more of the brute left in the Gladwin strain
undoubtedly there would have been a sensational clash between the two
men for the benefit of the beautiful young girl who, Gladwin strove to
acknowledge, was the helpless pawn of circumstances. But the
refinements of blood rob the physical man of his savage resources and
impose a serious hamper upon his primordial impulses.
Helen came into the room with the thief's arm about her waist while
Gladwin stood dumbly at attention, his features hardened and
At sight of his uniform and failing to recognize him in his disguise
the girl turned pale and uttered a frightened exclamation.
Don't be alarmed, dear, the man at her side reassured her, smiling
down upon her, this is only officer He looked up with a laughing
expression of inquiry.
Murphy, sorr, responded Gladwin, through tightly compressed lips.
Yes, the pretender nodded quickly. Murphy, Officer Murphy, my
dearlooks after my house when I'm away. He is one of the city's best
little watchmen and he is going to see that everything is made safe and
secure after we have gone.
Helen breathed an exclamation of relief, but the fright in her eyes
lingered as the unconscious feeling struck in that the attitude of the
policeman seemed more than a trifle strained.
She carried a little grip in one hand, which the bogus Gladwin took
from her and handed to the real Gladwin, nodding significantly for him
to leave the room. Turning to Helen, he said:
But why did you bring the bag, dear? My man told me he found your
trunk at the Grand Central Station.
Yes, Helen answered, but auntie insisted that I go to the opera,
so I had to pack my travelling dress. I slipped out of the opera during
the entre act, and went home to change my gown. I was so frightened and
in such a dreadful state of nerves that I couldn't.
A shudder ran through her and she seemed on the point of breaking
down when the man with whom she had chosen to elope drew her to him and
said with what had every expression of genuine tenderness:
There, there, dear! Calm yourself. Why, you're trembling like a
leaf. There is nothing to be frightened about now.
She yielded to his embrace and he bent down his head to kiss her on
Whatever he projected in the nature of an enduring osculation was
spoiled as Gladwin dropped the bag to the floor with a crash.
The man looked up angrily and the girl gave a frightened cry.
What's the matter with you, officer? the thief shot at him.
Excuse me, sorr, said Gladwin, with mock humility, turning away
his head to hide his emotions.
As the girl shrank from his arms the thief switched his attention
from Officer 666 and led her to a chair, resuming his gentle tones. He
pressed her to sit down, saying:
I am just packing up some pictures. I shan't keep you waiting long.
Now, that's good; you're getting calmer. You're all right now, aren't
Ye-es, Travers dear, she responded with an effort, looking into
his face. I shan't break down, she went on, with a nervous laugh.
I'm stronger than I look. I've made my mind up to it. The trouble is
that my heart won't behave. It's beating terriblyjust feel it.
He was about to place his hand on her heart when Gladwin was seized
with a paroxysm of coughing. The thief straightened up and turned
scowlingly upon the young man.
Say, what's the matter with you, McCarthy?
Murphy, sorr, Gladwin retorted. Me throat tickled me.
Well, returned the other sharply, if you would move around as I
told you, your throat wouldn't tickle you. Get something to pack these
paintings in. There isn't anything in this roomgo upstairs and get a
I don't know where there is none, sorr, Gladwin objected.
Well, look around for onea small empty trunk, and be quick about
it. He spoke with crackling emphasis.
Stung to the quick by the overbearing insolence of this command, it
required a prodigious effort for the young man to control his voice. He
said with difficulty:
I was thinking, sorrsupposethetrunkisfull?
The thief squared his broad shoulders and walked threateningly
toward Gladwin. He stopped directly in front of the young man and said
through his teeth, slowly and deliberately and without raising his
If the trunks are fullnow listen carefully, because I want you to
understand thisif the trunks are full, then empty one. Do you get my
meaning? Take the fullness out of it, and after you have done that and
there is nothing more left in it, then bring it down here. Now do you
think you get my idea clearly?
Yes, sorr, said Gladwin, dully, feeling that there was no way out
of the situation for the moment save to obey. Strive as he might he
could not wholly shake off the influence of this splendid big animal's
dominating will power.
And if it affected him that way he didn't wonder at the spell the
man had cast upon the impressionable and sentimental Helen.
He left the room with a sudden spurt and swiftly mounted the stairs,
the chief object of his haste being to prevent an extended interview in
his absence and a resumption of tender dialogue.
He had scarcely gone when the spurious Gladwin turned again to the
girl with his most engaging smile and softest tones:
You see, dear, with a sweeping gesture that included his work of
spoilation, I am taking your advicepacking only the most valuable
I am afraid, Travers, said Helen, rising from her chair and coming
toward him with all her impulsive love and confidence restored, that I
am giving you a lot of trouble.
Trouble! he cried, with the gushing effusiveness of a matinée
idol. You're bringing a great joy into my life.
He took her hand and caressed it, adding with the true lover's frown
of perplexity, But are you going to be happy, dear? That's what you
must think of nowbefore it is too late.
It was a magnificent bluff and carried with deadly aim. The girl
stopped him passionately:
We must not stop to talk about that nowthere isn't time. We must
hurry, dear, and get away before auntie finds out and comes after me.
Do you think she'll come here? he asked slowly, while his forehead
I am afraid Sadie will tell her!
Sadieyour cousin? H'm.
He made no effort to conceal that he was thinking rapidly.
Perhaps you'd rather postpone it after all, Travers? she said
quickly, while the color rushed to her cheeks and her lips trembled.
If you only thought it best I'd like to tell auntie what I'm going to
No; he retorted. We can't do thatwe've gone over all this
before. It must be this way, or not at all. Which is it to be?
I've given you my word, you know, she said under her breath.
That's my brave little girl! he cried with a burst of feeling,
reaching out his arm to embrace her.
Crash! Bang! Biff! Slam! Bam!
There burst into the room Officer 666, entangled in the lid and
straps of an empty trunk. It was a steamer trunk and not very heavy,
but Travers Gladwin was far from adept in baggage smashing.
He had wasted so much time in hunting for the trunk that he had
sought to make up for the delay by executing what resembled an
At the final twist of the staircase the trunk had mastered him and
charged with him into the room. As he lay sprawled on the floor with a
foolish grin on his face, the discomfited lover turned on him with a
voice of fury.
Officer, what the deuce is the matter with you?
The intense savagery of his tone made the girl shrink away from him
and turn pale. He managed to cover his break so quickly with a forced
laugh and an effort to assist Gladwin to his feet that her fear was
In the last stage of his downward flight Gladwin glimpsed that he
had dropped in barely in time to spoil another touching scene. With a
grin of sheer delight, he asked:
Where'll I put the trunk, sorr?
Put it there.
The self-styled Gladwin pointed to the right of the chest and set to
work to gather up his few hundred thousand dollars' worth of pelf. He
was about to place the flat packages in the trunk when he turned to
Helen and asked:
Do you see any others that you'd like me to take, dear?
Oh, you know best, she replied. Only I should think that you
would take some of the miniatures.
The miniatures? he asked, raising his eyebrows.
Yes, said the girl. They are the loveliest I've ever seen and
they'll hardly take up any room at all. If we are going to be away such
a long time I think it would be safer to take them.
It was palpable to Travers Gladwin that the big chap had received a
psychic jolt, for his hand trembled a little as he laid down the
canvases on the top of the chest and addressed the girl:
I didn't know you'd seen the miniatures.
Oh, yes, when I was here this afternoon.
He took this between the eyes without flinching. His voice was
marvellously steady as he said:
I didn't know you were here this afternoon.
You didn't? she asked in a puzzled tone. How funny! You'd just
gone out when I called, but two of your friends were here and one of
them showed me the miniatures, and china, and plate and lots of things.
Why, I left a message for you about the operadidn't they tell you?
The girl stood with her back to Gladwin and the man she addressed
slowly turned his head and glanced over her head with a keen, flashing
look of inquiry. Gladwin lifted his chin a little and met the look
without change of expression.
Didn't they tell you, Travers? the girl repeated.
Yes, yes; they told me, he said hastily, still maintaining his
fixed gaze upon Gladwin. There was barely an instant's pause before he
Officer, kindly go up to my room and see if you can find a bag and
pack enough things to last a week or two.
Yes, sorr. Gladwin flung out of the room.
He started noisily up the stairs until he saw that the thief had
turned his back to him, whereat he vaulted the banister and dropped
lightly upon a divan in a recessed niche that could not be seen from
the room he left.
The moment Gladwin vanished the thief turned to Helen and asked
What time did you see my friends here?
A little after five, replied the girl, recoiling slightly with a
look of dismay, for there was a new raw edge to the sharpness of his
Did you tell them about the elopement? he said less harshly, but
with a scarcely veiled eagerness.
Why, they knew all about it, Helen hastened to reply, searching
his face apprehensively.
Knew about it? he mused, fairly grinding his brows together under
the pressure of his agitated thoughts.
What did you tell them? he queried steadily, measuring her fresh,
young beauty and vowing to himself that whatever struggle impended he
was going through with it to the limit of his resources.
That we were to meet here, she answered with increasing fear.
That we were to meet here? he repeated.
Yes, at half-past tenoh, was it something I shouldn't have told
them? she cried, coming toward him.
Once more Officer 666 snapped the tension. He had wriggled around
the staircase and found the suitcase Bateato had packed and left for
him. Hating to play the rôle of an eavesdropper any longer than
necessary he made a flying start and burst into the room.
CHAPTER XXX. GLADWIN COMES OUT OF
The spurious aristocrat and art collector suppressed his torrid
exclamation. The impulse moved him to seize the uniformed butter-in and
pitch him through the nearest window. He was big and powerful enough to
do it, too.
In the furious glance he got, Travers Gladwin read a warning that in
an earlier stage of his career would have made him feel mighty
uncomfortable. Now he liked the smell of danger and met the message of
wrath without a flicker.
What's that you've got there? the thief, having mastered himself,
asked, pointing to the grip.
'Tis the bag you asked for, sorr, drawled Gladwin.
I told you to pack it, said the other, sharply.
All packed, sorr. Hunting clothes, shirts, ties, socks
He looked up with a boyish grin and the big chap was stumped for a
moment. The thief said slowly:
Now take it up to my room and unpack it. It was his turn to grin.
What, sorr? asked the dismayed Gladwin.
I shan't want these things after all, came the velvety rejoinder.
Unpack it carefully and bring it back here. And kindly be more careful
of the stairs when you come downone step at a time, please!
Now, what are you waiting for?
Gladwin withdrew reluctantly, stealing a glance at Helen as he
sidled through the curtained doorway. Her eyes never left the face of
the man she thought she loved, but whose character was being swiftly
revealed to her in a new light.
That resourceful individual waited only for the blue uniform to pass
through the portières, when he sprang forward and reached out on both
sides for the heavy mahogany folding doors. He brought them together
swiftly and softly, then ripped down the portières from the pole,
flinging one to the left of the door and the other across the chest.
Now listen, Helen, he cried, seizing her roughly by the shoulder.
It may be that we will have to get out of here in a hurry.
W-w-w-hy, what's the matter? she stammered, wincing at the
crushing grip of his hand.
He replied with a swift rush of words that fairly stunned her:
Your aunt may find it out and try to stop us. Now I shall be on the
lookout, but I want you to do everything I tell youI'll see if the
coast is clear in case we have to go out the back way. In the meantime
I want you to wrap these pictures for me. I wouldn't ask you, dear,
only we haven't a minute to wait.
He darted across the room and opened the narrow door that led into
the backstairs corridor. Helen stared stupidly after him until he
disappeared and then turned toward the chest and went to work wrapping
up the precious canvases like one in a trance. She had scarcely started
when the folding doors opened noiselessly and Bateato stuck in his
Fearing that some harm had come to his master the little Jap had
left the Ritz and sprinted all the way to the Gladwin mansion. He was
breathless and wild-eyed, yet he had entered the house as silently as a
breath of air.
Peeking into the room Bateato noted the ripped-down portières and
devastated picture frames. His Oriental mind told him but one
thingrobbery. Seized with a violent spasm of loyalty to his master he
brushed into the room and exclaimed:
Whatz thees? Oh, helldamn!
Helen was in too good training by this time to swoon, though she
wanted to. She started back in alarm and exclaimed:
Oh, how you startled me!
Bateato circled round her like an enraged rat.
You no fool meI know you tiefyou steal pictureI get
pleecemuch pleecewhole big lot pleece, quick.
He headed for the door.
Helen pursued him, crying: See here! Wait a minute! You don't
understand! Mr. Gladwin!
The Jap was gone and the hall door slammed after him before she had
reached the folding doors. In another instant Travers Gladwin, who had
been making a vain hunt for a revolver in the upper part of the house
came flying down the stairs and assailed the frightened girl with
another overwhelming shock.
Seeing she was alone he threw himself into the breach headlong:
Miss Helen, just a moment. I've been waiting for a chance to speak
to you. You must get away from here at once. Do you understandat
once! Don't waste time talkinggo quick while you have a chance. You
mustn't be mixed up in what's coming.
The girl felt that her heart would burst with its palpitations of
fear, but she was incapable of flight. Her limbs seemed like leaden
weights. Some force working without the zone of her mental control made
W-w-ho are you?
Listen, the young man raced on, and you must believe what I
saythis man you came here to meet and elope with is not Travers
Gladwin at all.
She expressed her horrified disbelief in a frozen stare.
It's true, he pursued passionately. He's an imposter! The real
Travers Gladwin you met here this afternoon. He was I; that is, I was
he. I mean I am Travers Gladwinonly I've got this uniform on now. It
is only on your account that I have not caused his arrest and a
sensation. I can't have you mixed up in a nasty scandal. I want to save
youdon't you see I do?but I can't wait much longer.
I don't believe what you are saying! I can't believe it! Oh, it's
too horrible! sobbed Helen, clinging to a fragment of her shattered
idol as a drowning man clings to a straw.
Gladwin was on the point of resuming his appeal when he sensed a
heavy tread. He had divined that the picture thief had left the room to
reconnoitre emergency exits or to learn whether or not the house was
surrounded. He had hoped that he might run into Michael Phelan, but did
not stop to puzzle out why this had not happened. Backing to the door,
He's comingquestion him. That's all I ask. I'll be waiting to see
that you get out in safetytrust me!
He wriggled backward and disappeared through the folding doors.
CHAPTER XXXI. A VISIT TO THE EXILED
But where, oh, where was the exiled Phelan when the bogus Gladwin
went on his backstairs investigation? Puzzled as he was by the fast
moving events of the night, stripped of the uniform of his authority,
still his police instincts should have warned him of this new character
in his dream.
Michael Phelan, however, was busybusy in a way one little would
As the gentlemanly outlaw entered the kitchen, Phelan was standing
on the tubs of the adjoining laundry, his face almost glued to the
window-pane and his eyes uplifted to the fourth story rear window of a
house diagonally opposite, through which he could observe a pantomime
that thrilled him.
It was late, well past bedtime even for the aristocratic precincts
of New York. Yet there was going on behind that brilliantly lighted
window a one-man drama strangely and grotesquely wide-awake.
A first casual glance had conveyed the impression to Phelan that a
tragedy was being enacted before his eyesthat murder was being done
with fiendish brutality, and hePhelanpowerless to intervene.
The seeming murderer was a man of amazing obesity, a red-faced man
with a bull neck and enormous shoulders, clad in pink striped pajamas
and a tasselled nightcap of flaming red.
Back and forth the rotund giant swayed with something in his arms,
something which he crushed in his fists and brutally shook, something
which he held off at arm's length and hammered with ruthless blows.
The murtherin' baste! ejaculated Phelan as he switched off the one
light he had been reading by and darted into the next room to get a
better view from the summit of the kitchen tubs.
Suddenly the mountain of flesh and the debile victim that he was
ruthlessly manhandling disappeared from view. For several long
thundering seconds the petrified Phelan could see nothing save a
dancing crimson tassel, the tassel attached to the nightcap. Surely a
mighty struggle was going on on the floor!
Phelan did not hear the light step upon the kitchen stair or the
stealthy tread of the big man in evening dress as he pussy-footed his
way to the kitchen door leading out into the back yard and found that
it was easily opened.
Every sentient nerve in Michael Phelan's being was concentrated in
his eyes at that moment and it is highly doubtful if he would have
heard a fife and drum corps in full blare enter the kitchen. He heard
nothing and saw nothing below that upward focal angle.
The man Phelan should have heard flashed the light in his cane only
at infrequent intervals. He did not aim its bright revealing beam into
the half open door of the adjoining laundry and he was as unconscious
of the proximity of Phelan as that unfrocked or de-uniformed officer
was of the invader. He returned to Miss Helen Burton in complete
ignorance of the fact that the lower regions of the dwelling were
otherwise than empty.
But the second he re-entered the room he saw the girl was strangely
agitated and that she feared to look at him. Laying down his cane he
crossed the room to her side and said in his softest tones:
Well, you haven't got on very fast in your packing, have you,
Helen was leaning against the back of a chair, feeling she was
surely going to topple over in a swoon. Summoning all her reserve of
nerve power, she strove to reply naturally:
No. II didn't quite understand how to pack.
He was at her side now and seized both her hands.
Why, Helen, what's the matter? Your hands are cold as ice.
He spoke warmly and tenderly, while at the same time his eyes were
everywhere about the room and he was listening with the wary alertness
of a rodent.
There was more than a little of the rat in the soul inclosed in this
It's nothingonly I'm faint, she said tremulously.
That policeman has been talking to youhasn't he? he said
Yes, he has, she blurted, with a catch in her throat.
Did he tell you who he was?
He measured out each word and conveyed the sense. Did he tell you
who he pretended to be?
Yes, the girl responded, scarcely above a whisper.
He took her by the shoulders and turned her squarely toward him,
looking down into her face with frowning eyes.
Now, Helen, I want you to tell me the truththe truth, you
understand? I shall know it even if you don't. Who did he say he was?
A feeling of repugnance took possession of the girl and she shook
herself free and stood back. Her body had warmed into life again and
she looked steadily into his eyes as she answered:
He needed all his great bulk of flesh and steel-fibred nerve to fend
off this shock. Not the remotest fancy had crossed his mind that
Travers Gladwin might be in New York. It was with a palpably forced
laugh that he ejaculated:
Travers Gladwin! Oh, he did, eh?
The girl had read more than he imagined the sudden contraction of
his features and dilation of his eyes had revealed.
I want you to tell me the truthyou must! she said passionately.
Who are you?
A man who loves you, he let go impulsively. The desire to possess
her had sprung uppermost in his mind again.
But are you the man you pretended to beare you Travers Gladwin?
she insisted, compelled against her convictions to grope for a forlorn
And if I were not? he cried, with all the dramatic intensity he
could bring to voice. If instead of being the son of a millionaire, a
pampered molly-coddle who never earned a dollar in his lifesuppose I
were a man who had to fight every inch of the way
He stopped. His alert ear had caught a sound in the hallway. He sped
noiselessly to the folding door and forced one back, revealing Officer
Come in, he said threateningly, and Gladwin came in a little way.
Where's that bag? said the thief, with a glare and a suggestive
movement with his hands.
What bag, sorr? said Gladwin, feeling that for the moment
discretion was the better part of valor.
The one you brought in here.
You told me to unpack it, sorr. It's upstairs, sorr.
Go and get it. Go nowand don't waste time.
Gladwin went, determined this time that he must arm himself with
some weapon, even if it were one of the rusted old bowie knives of his
grandfather that ornamented the wall of his den. He estimated
accurately that he would prove a poor weak reed in the hands of that
Hercules in evening dress, and while the thought of a knife sickened
him, he was impelled to seek one.
As he mounted the stairs the thief strode to the table near the
window and gathered up Helen's opera cloak and handed it to her.
Now, go quickly, he urged; my car is just across the street.
There is no time to argue your absurd suspicions.
No, I shan't go, retorted Helen, accepting the cloak and backing
So you believe that man? he asked reproachfully.
I am afraid I do, she said firmly.
Then I'll show you mighty quick you're wrong, he cried, as a
crowning bluff. He's probably some spy sent by your aunt. I'll get my
man in here and will have him arrested after you and I have gone. Wait
hereI shan't be a moment.
As the door slammed after him Helen ran to the window and then back
to the door. She was now terribly alarmed on another score. She feared
to go out and she feared to remain in the house. She feared
Travers Gladwin had found the bowie knife and slipped it into his
trousers pocket. Then he had gone down the stairs on the run. As he
entered the room and saw that the man had gone he said:
Is he running awayand without his pictures or his hat and coat.
What's his game, I wonder.
He's coming backhe says my aunt sent you here, said Helen, but
less afraid at his return to the room.
Never mind what he says, Gladwin returned, gesturing excitedly.
You must go homenow. To-morrow you can learn the truth.
But if I go out he'll be sure to see me, she protested.
Gladwin looked about him and thought a moment.
Do you see that little alcove back of the stairs, he said quickly,
pointing. Helen crossed the room and nodded.
Well, hide in there, he commanded. The curtains will conceal you.
If he and his man come back I'll get them in this roomthen I'll press
this button, see?
He indicated a button and added: That rings a buzzer; you can hear
it from the alcove, and then slip out the front door.
The girl paused but an instant, then fled to the place of shelter.
CHAPTER XXXII. IN WHICH BLUFF IS
Having disposed of the girl for the moment, Travers Gladwin decided
it was time to call Michael Phelan to his assistance. There was no
telling what this amazing crook might do now. He was too much for him.
That a thief and impostor could possess such superhuman nerve had never
occurred to his untutored mind. He was a perfect dub to have let the
situation reach such a stage of complexity, though the one thought
uppermost in his mind was to save Helen from public ridicule and
He had reasoned it out that just the uniform of Officer 666 would
serve him almost as a magician's wand. He had almost counted on the
thief taking one craven look at his constabulary disguise and then
leaping through the windowfleeing like a wolf in the nighthe,
Travers Gladwin, remaining a veritable hero of romance to sooth and
console Helen and gently break the news to her that she had been the
dupe of an unscrupulous criminal. Instead of whichhe ground his
teeth, went to the little panel door and shouted Phelan's name.
Mrs. Phelan's son came a-running.
He had been on his way. The vast girthed individual in the pink
striped pajamas and tasselled nightcap had accomplished his awful
purpose, but the climax had been anti-climax and Phelan had ground his
teeth in rage.
He had been on the point of bursting through the window and somehow
scrambling aloft to the rescue of that helpless being who was being
ground and wrenched and pounded by that porcine monster, when the
monster suddenly rose to view again with a dumb-bell in each hand.
The jaw of Officer 666 slowly dropped as he watched the manipulation
of the dumb-bells. There was no passion in the stodgy movements of the
great paddy arms. Even so far away as he was Phelan could see that the
man puffed and blew and that his vigor was slowly waning. Then suddenly
the huge man stooped and held up in plain view a dangling wrestling
The lone watcher swallowed a savage oath.
Sure 'twas exercisin' an' not murther he was doin', Phelan hissed
through his teeth.
His anger was white hot. Again he had been the victim of delusion
and had wasted heroic emotions on a stuffed dummy that served merely as
an inanimate instrument in a course of anti-fat calisthenics.
Every nerve in Phelan's body was fairly a-bristle as he made his way
upstairs and burst into the great drawing-room and picture gallery.
Fer the love o' hivin, he cried, give me me uniform and let me
out o' here.
Here's your uniform; I've had enough of it, replied Gladwin,
throwing him the coat and cap, and get into it quick. There's work for
you right in this house.
There is not, nor play neither, snapped Phelan. I've got to go
out and chase up a drunk or throw a faint or git run over or somethin'
desperate to square mesilf with the captain. I'm an hour overdue at the
You'll square yourself with the captain all right if you just do
what I tell you, said Gladwin eagerly, helping him on with his coat
and pushing him toward the window recess. You go right in there behind
those curtains and wait till I call you.
Phelan took one look at the young man's face and muttered as he
obeyed. This must be a hell of a joke.
And just then the thief breezed in again, jerking back on his heels
as he caught sight of Gladwin sans uniform, sans
moustache and sans eyebrows. But a glance at that young man
meant volumes and there was no limit to his spontaneous resources. He
summoned a laugh and jerked out:
Oh, so you've resigned from the force?
Yes, retorted Gladwin, and let me tell you that this little
excursion of yours has gone far enough. I'll give you one chanceget
away from here as quickly as you can.
The big fellow curled one corner of his lip in a contemptuous smile,
then glanced about him quickly and asked:
Where's the young lady?
Never mind the young lady, Gladwin flung back at him. It was only
on her account that I let you go as far as this. Now get out and keep
away from that young ladyand drop my name.
The sneering smile returned and balancing himself easily as he
looked down on Gladwin, he said:
Easy, soneasy. I don't like to have little boys talk to me like
that, and turning to the doorway behind him he beckoned. The obedient
Watkins sidled in and stopped with head averted from Gladwin, who
started with surprise at seeing him.
Stepping forward and making sure there could be no mistake, Gladwin
turned to the thief and exclaimed:
Oh, now I understand how you knew all about my house. This is what
I get for not sending this man to jail where he belonged.
Don't bother with him, Watkins, snarled the big fellow, as he
noted his companion's complexion run through three shades of yellow.
There's no time to bother with him, he went on, and reaching out
he caught Travers Gladwin by the shoulder and whirled him half way
across the room.
The young man spun half a dozen times as he reeled across the carpet
and he had to use both hands to stop himself against a big onyx table.
As he pulled himself up standing he saw that Watkins had lifted the
trunk on his shoulders and was headed for the hallway.
Phelan! he gasped out. Here, quick!
Officer 666 came out with the snort and rush of a bull.
Stop that man, cried the thief, pointing to Watkins, he's trying
to get out of here with a trunkful of pictures.
The man's hair-trigger mind had thought this out before Phelan was
half way round the table. One lightning glance at the thickness of the
patrolman's neck and the general contour of his rubicund countenance
had translated to him the sort of man he had to deal with.
Herehereput down that trunk, spluttered Phelan, brandishing
his club at Watkins. Watkins dropped the trunk and at a signal from his
companion was gone. Swiftly and silently as he vanished, he could not
have been half way to the door before the thief urged Phelan:
Quickgo after that manhe's a thief!
Stop Phelan! cried Gladwin, who had begun to see through the
pantomime. They're both thieves!
Phelan tried to run four ways at once.
W-w-what? he gurgled.
It's a trick to get you out of the house, said Gladwin with his
eyes on the big man, who was calmly smiling and who had fully made up
his mind on a magnificent game of bluff.
What the blazes kind of a joke is this? blurted Phelan, looking
from one to the other in utter bewilderment.
You'll find it's no joke, officer, said the bogus Gladwin
sharplynot if he gets away.
You'll find it's not so funny yourself, cut in the real Gladwin.
Then to Phelan, Arrest this man, Phelan.
Do you mean it? asked the astonished Phelan, sizing up the thief
as the highest example of aristocratic elegance he had ever seen in the
Of course I mean it, Gladwin shot back. Look out for himthere
he goes for the window.
The thief had started in that direction, but his purpose was not
escape. The idea had flashed upon him that Helen might be concealed
there. Phelan headed him off, whereupon the thief said severely, in a
tone that was far more convincing that Gladwin's most passionate
Now be careful, officer, or you'll get yourself into a lot of
Don't let him bluff you, Phelan, cautioned Gladwin.
You bet your life I won't, Phelan answered, though he was already
bluffed. I'll stick close to yez, he faltered, inching uncertainly
toward the thief.
He had come close enough for that astute individual to make out that
he wore the same uniform young Gladwin had been masquerading in and he
made capital of this on the instant.
How do you think it is going to look, he said, impressively, if I
prove that you've tried to help a band of thieves rob this house?
A band of thieves? Phelan's jaw dropped wide open.
He's lying to you, cried Gladwin.
I said a band of thieves, insisted the thief. Why he's got his
pals hidden all over the house.
I tell you he's lying to you, Gladwin cut in frantically, seeing
that Phelan was falling under the spell of the big man's superb bluff,
and at the same time remembering Helen and pressing the button in the
wall to warn her that the time had come for her to flee.
We're the only ones in this house, Gladwin pursued, as Phelan gave
him the benefit of his pop-eyes before he yielded them again to the
Then they've all escaped, said the thief, easily, thrusting his
hands in his pockets to help out his appearance of imperturbability.
You let one go out, Phelan, and there were two others beside this
The buttons on Phelan's coat were fairly undulating with the
emotions that stirred within him. In his seething gray matter there
stirred the remembrance that Bateato had told him that women were
robbing the house.
You mean the women, he said, ignoring Gladwin and addressing the
thief. I rememberwhen the little Japanaze called me oft me beat, he
said there was women crooks here, too.
He's lying to you, Phelan, persisted Gladwin, though with less
vehemence, a great feeling of relief having visited him in the belief
that Helen had made her escape. You can have the whole place searched
just as soon as you've got this man where he can't get away. There are
no women here.
This last declaration had scarcely passed his lips when a woman's
voice raised in hysterical protest was audible in the hallway.
CHAPTER XXXIII. BATEATO SUMMONS BIG
A vitagraph film of Bateato's journey to and from the police station
would consist of a series of dark brown blurs. If you have ever noticed
a mouse in full flight you will have some idea of how that Jap ran. He
knew where the police station was, too, for he had been there once when
his brother, Itchi Comia, was arrested for assaulting a Russian
If the little Jap had only coursed through another street things
might have gone somewhat differently in the Gladwin household, for he
would have encountered Whitney Barnes hurrying in the opposite
direction, and that young man would very likely have prevented him from
going to the station.
But there was absolutely no obstacle in Bateato's way until he
reached the station house, and the only obstacle he encountered there
was a serious impediment in his speech.
Police Captain Stone had returned to barracks a few minutes after
the departure of Barnes and a few minutes before the arrival of
Bateato. He was standing beside the lieutenant's chair when the Jap
sped in, and he seemed almost interested (for a police captain) at the
extraordinary manifestations of emotion in Bateato's countenance.
All pleecequickrobbersthievesladies! began Bateato, then
paused and made wild jabs above his head with his hands.
Crazy as a nut, said the lieutenant in an undertone to the
captain, and the captain nodded.
All picturesthievessteal ladies! was Bateato's second
instalment, and the captain and lieutenant looked at each other and
shook their heads.
Big much pleece! shrieked Bateato, made some more motions with his
hands and rushed out into the street.
It's Jap whiskey, said the captain, musingly, utterly unimpressed.
He isn't crazy. That Jap whiskey's awful stuff. They licked the
Russian army on it. He'll run it off. If you ever see a Jap runnin'
you'll know what's the matter.
Bateato ran a block and then stopped.
Hell damn! he exploded. I no tell where house.
He ran back to the station and burst in again with even more
I no tell house, he rattled off. Mr. GladwinTravers Gladwin.
Big lot white houseFifth avenueeighty, eighty, eighty.
Quickthievesladies! and he was gone again before Captain Stone
could remove his cigar from his face.
The captain looked at the lieutenant and the lieutenant looked at
Maybe he ain't drunk, Captain, ventured the lieutenant. There's
that Gladwin house on the books. It's marked closed and there's a note
about a million-dollar collection of paintings.
The captain thought a moment and then burst into action:
Call the reserves and get the patrol wagon, he shouted. I
remember that Jap. I guess there's something doing. I'll go myself.
As the reserves were all asleep and the horses had to be hitched to
the patrol wagon Bateato had a big start of his big much pleece.
Notwithstanding the breathless condition in which he had arrived at
the station house, his return journey was accomplished at his dizziest
speed. Also he arrived back at the house way in advance of Whitney
Barnes. There was a reason.
Wearing a frock coat and a silk hat and carrying a cane (of course
he called it stick) one is hardly equipped for marathoning. And
if you must know more, Whitney's small clothes were too fashionably
tight to permit of more than a swift heel and toe action. At this he
was doing admirably in his passionate haste to return and warn his
friend Gladwin when another woman came into his life and appealed for
Three in one evening, when he was perfectly satisfied to stop at
onethe bewitching Sadie.
No. 3 was of an entirely different type from No. 1 and No. 2, and,
happily for Whitney, there was no yowling bundle this timemerely a
cat, and a silent cat at that.
She was a plump little woman and rather comely and she was intensely
excited, for the cat in the case was hers and the cat was up the only
tree on that street east of Central Park. At the foot of the tree sat a
large bulldog gazing fixedly up at the cat.
Whitney Barnes was so occupied with his heel and toe pace that he
did not descry the woman or the dog or the tree or the cat until the
woman seized him by the arm and cried:
You must save my darling Zaza from that dog.
Then she tailed off into hysterical sobs, but did not release her
Madam, I'm in great haste, retorted Barnes, striving to wriggle
free from her grip. I would advise you to call a policeman.
There is no policeman, sobbed the distressed mistress of Zaza.
Oh, you m-m-m-must s-s-s-save my Z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-z-aza. Oo-oo!
Then Barnes glimpsed the dog and its fang-filled grin as it stared
up at the cat.
You don't expect me to tackle that dog? he asked, backing away and
making another effort to free himself.
Shoot him! do anything to him! insisted the distressed female.
Oo-oo-oo! he kills cats. Do something quick or I must scream.
Whitney Barnes would have welcomed an open manhole to vanish into.
If that woman screamed and held fast to him till the police came it
would be just as bad as the baby case. But if he tackled the dog he
would probably go to the hospital and be afflicted with hydrophobia and
all sorts of things.
Calm yourself my dear woman, he said frantically. The dog cannot
climb the tree and your cat is perfectly safe.
Are y-y-y-you s-s-s-sure? she moaned. Then grabbing him tighter.
But you must not leave me. In case the dog should go up that tree you
must attack it with your cane.
I promise, panted Barnes, if you will only release your grip on
my arm. Your finger nails are tearing the flesh.
I w-w-w-will not hold you so tight, she consented, but I must
hold on to you till somebody comes. Oh, look at that brute. He is
biting the tree. He
But the sudden clangor of a patrol wagon and the hammering of
steel-shod hoofs on the cobbles caused the owner of Zaza both to cease
her shrill lamentations and let go of Whitney Barnes's arm.
The patrol wagon was rolling down behind them at a furious pace
while its gong rent the stillness of the night as a warning to all
crooks and criminals to beware and to scurry to shelter. It is the New
York brass band method of thief hunting and if that patrol wagon gong
hadn't broken before the vehicle had crossed Madison avenue the
destinies of several prominent personages might have been seriously
hampered in their headlong fling.
That gong kept blaring its clang of warning long enough to frighten
off the dog and restore Whitney Barnes to freedom, and once released
from the bruising grip of that distraught little woman he turned his
back upon Zaza's fate and ranhe ran so long as he considered it
feasible to maintain the integrity of his trousers. That is, he ran not
quite a block, then dropped back to his heel and toe exercise and
swiftly ate up the distance that separated him from Travers Gladwin's
CHAPTER XXXIV. PHELAN LOSES HIS
It was merely a coincidence that Bateato should drag Helen back into
the room just as Gladwin had gone on record with the declaration,
There are no women here, but it was a sufficiently dramatic
coincidence to jar from Officer No. 666 the exclamation:
Where the divil are they all springin' from?
Bateato had come up with Helen as she was descending the stoop, had
seized her by the wrist and almost swung her off her feet as he swept
her back into the house and rounded her up before the three men, dumb
with fright and barely able to stand. Still gripping her wrist, Bateato
let go the Maxim volley:
You tief! She try get away, but Bateato catch fastshe tiefI see
steal all picturesshe
Bateato, you idiot! his master hurled at him with a menacing
gesture that caused the little Jap to drop the girl's hand and jump
Didn't I tell you to stay at the hotel? continued Gladwin,
fiercely, for the moment ignoring both Phelan and the thief.
Yes, but I 'fraidmuch late you no come. Bateato come back see
girl steal all pictures!
The little Jap had fallen into Phelan's state of blind bewilderment.
Shut up! his master snapped him up, walking up to him with an
eat-'em-alive expression. And now listenI don't want you to say
anything more, understand? Not a word to anybody about anything. Not a
I no spick, bleated the Jap.
See that you don'tnot a single wordif you do I'll skin you!
Never in the three years he had served the young man had Bateato
seen him in anything like this savage state of mind.
I spick no more for noting not nobody quick! he promised, and his
hand clasped over his mouth like a vise.
Having corked Bateato in this wise, Gladwin turned to Helen, who
stood as if rooted to the floor, staring straight ahead of her.
Don't be frightened, he said gently. Everything is all right. He
took her arm to reassure her and then spoke to Phelan, who had been
making a vain effort to solve the mix-up and didn't feel quite sure
that he wasn't bewitched.
Now, Phelan, said Gladwin, I'll explain the thing.
I wish to God ye would! said Phelan from the bottom of his heart.
This lady's being here is all rightand she isn't connected with
this affair in any way. I'll prove that to you readily enough.
Well, go ahead. And Phelan crossed his eyes in an effort to
include in the focus both Gladwin and the thief de luxe, whose
splendidly groomed appearance impressed him the more.
On his part the thief was leaning carelessly against a cabinet
looking on with the expression of one both amused and bored. What he
had noticed most was that Helen kept her eyes averted from him as if
she feared to look at him and that she had palpably transferred her
allegiance to Gladwin. When she had recovered some of her self-control
she followed that young man's words eagerly and obeyed his slightest
I will explain to you, Phelan, as soon as I see this young lady
started for home, Gladwin ran on, and proceeded with Helen toward the
entrance to the hallway.
Hold on! Yez'll not leave this room, Phelan stopped them, his
suspicions again in a state of conflagration.
But I only want
I don't care what yez want, Phelan snorted, blocking the way.
Yez'll stay here.
Oh, welljust as you say, returned the young man desperately,
but I will have to ask my man to escort this lady out and put her in a
Bad Pertaters 'll stay where he is.
Phelan was visibly swelling with the majesty of the law.
You're very disagreeable, Gladwin charged him; then to Helen, I'm
awfully sorry I cannot go with you, but I think you can find the way
yourself. Just go out through the hall, and
She'll stay right here with the rest o' yez, was Phelan's
ultimatum, as he squared himself in the doorway with the heroic bearing
of a bridge-defending Horatius.
The only member of that tense little tableau who really had anything
to fear from the spectre of the law embodied in the person of Officer
666 had waited for Gladwin to play his poor hand and, conceiving that
this was the psychological moment, sauntered across the room and said
with easy assurance:
Officer, if there's anything further you want of me, you'll have to
Yez'll wait here, too, till I can communicate with headquarters,
Phelan gave him back, not liking the tone of command.
Then hurry up, because it won't go well with you if I am detained.
Now, don't yez threaten me! exploded Phelan. I'm doin' me duty by
Threaten you! Why, I can show you that you have been helping to rob
This was a new current of thoughta sudden inspirationbut this
peer of bluffers managed to crowd a volume of accusation in the slow
emphasis with which he said it.
Your house! gasped Phelan, rocked clear off the firm base he had
scarcely planted himself on. What do ye meanwho are yez?
Who do you suppose I am? Travers Gladwin, of course.
Even the fear-numbed Helen Burton was startled into animation by
this amazingly nervy declaration and half rose from the chair she had
been guided to and forced into by Gladwin when she seemed on the verge
of swooning at Phelan's refusal to permit her to depart.
Phelan expressed wonder and alarm in every feature and his arms
flopped limply at his side as he muttered:
Don't listen to him, Phelan, cried Gladwin.
Shut up! Phelan turned on him.
When I came home to-night, the thief pressed his advantage, this
man was hererobbing my house, dressed in your uniformyes, and you
yourself were helping him.
But I didn't know, whined the distressed Phelan, yielding himself
utterly to the toils of the master prevaricator.
I don't think you did it intentionallybut why did you do it? the
thief let him down with a little less severity of emphasis.
He said he wanted to play a joke. Hehe
Oh, don't be an idiot, Phelan, interposed Gladwin, putting his
foot in it at the wrong time and receiving as his reward from the
policeman a savage, Close your face!
Oh, playing a joke, was he? said the thief, smiling. And did he
offer you money. Now, no evasionyou had better tell me.
Yes, sir, gulped Phelan, with murder in one eye for the real
Gladwin and craven apology in the other for the impostor.
And you took it? sharply.
Oh, officer! Shame! Shame! in tones of shocked reproach. Let me
see what he gave youcome now, it's your only chance.
Phelan hesitated, gulped some more, and at last produced the bill.
The thief took it from his trembling but unresisting hand, unfurled
it, turned it over, held it up close to his eyes and suddenly laughed:
Well, you certainly are easycounterfeit!
What! roared Phelan, and Travers Gladwin joined him in the
Will you swear that man gave you this bill? cut in the thief,
sharply, snatching out a pencil and marking the gold certificate across
I will, sorr! shouted Phelan. I will, an'
Very well! Now you see this mark in the cornerwill you be able to
Yes, sorr. Phelan was fairly grovelling.
Good, said the thief, and nonchalantly shoved the bill into his
See here, Phelan, protested Gladwin.
Kape your mouth shutI'd just like to take wan punch at yez.
Phelan meant it and took a step toward Gladwin when the thief
stopped him and asked:
Now, officer, is there anything I can do for you?
Thank you, Mr. GladwinI got to get the patrol wagon here some
If Bateato had entered into an inflexible contract with himself not
to utter another syllable before the break of day at least he might
have eased Phelan's mind on that score and informed him that something
ominously like a patrol wagon was rounding the corner at that moment.
And if the art collector had not been so keenly amused at his facile
conquest of the gullible bluecoat his alert ears might have warned him
to say something entirely different from this:
I'd call the wagon for you, officer, only I'm afraid these people
might overpower you and get away with that trunk of pictures. You see
what a nice mess they've been making of my picture gallery. Why, if I
hadn't happened in to-night they would have walked off with half a
million dollars' worth of paintings.
You call the wagon, Mr. Gladwin, returned Phelan, grimly. I kin
handle the lot of o' them an' ten more like them.
All right, officer, but be very carefulI shan't be long.
And turning with a mocking bow to Travers Gladwin, he sauntered out
into the hallway and walked into the arms of Police Captain Stone and
CHAPTER XXXV. BATEATO KEEPS HIS
Although the escaping thief was brushed back into the room rather
rudely and Travers Gladwin cried out as he caught sight of the
uniformed officer and his men, By Jove, captain, I'm glad you've
come, the consummate bluffer did not bat an eyelash or manifest the
merest symptom of fear, stepping easily to one side and watching for
the coming of his cue with feline alertness.
For a moment Captain Stone devoted himself only to the distribution
of his men, posting them at all the windows and doors. When he was
satisfied that every avenue of escape was covered he turned to Phelan
with the sharp query:
What's all this, Phelan?
I caught them trying to get away with Mr. Gladwin's
Yes, it was by the luckiest chance, broke in Travers Gladwin.
Is this Mr. Gladwin? the captain stopped him, curtly.
No, the other one, captain, replied Phelan, indicating the thief;
whereupon that gentleman bowed.
Why, captain, I'm the real Gladwin started again.
You've done well here, Phelan, the captain complimented him,
ignoring the young millionaire.
Thank ye, sorr, blushed Phelan.
I should say he has done well. The thief came forward, with an
approving nod toward the now ecstatic Officer 666.
If it hadn't been for him, pursued the thief, these thieves would
have carried off my pictures. I would suggest, captain, that he be
Thank ye, sorr. Phelan's voice shook with gratitude.
I'll see that he gets full credit in my report, said Captain Stone
stiffly. Now, Phelan, you go to the station for the patrol wagon. I
sent it back, as one of the horses threw a shoe and got a bad fall.
Tell the driver to get another horse at Murphy's stable and hurry
Phelan went out, walking on air and humming to himself, Sergt.
Michael Phelan, no less, utterly forgetful of the sorry plight he was
in not a half hour before.
Travers Gladwin was almost beside himself with chagrin. Again he
made an impassioned plea to be heard.
Now see here, Captain, I am Travers Gladwin
Oh, you are, eh? sneered the captain, scarcely deigning to look at
him. Well, we'll see about that. Where is the little Jap who notified
me of this?
Bateato had concealed himself behind a heavy piece of furniture and
was yanked out into the open by a burly policeman.
Here you, growled the captain, shaking his hand at the Jap,
you're Mr. Gladwin's servant, you saidwhich one of these men is your
Bateato locked his teeth together and refused even to smile.
Which is your master? Answer me! demanded Captain Stone.
The poor little devil is frightened to death, interposed the thief
with a commiserating nod toward the Jap. He was playing his bluff to
What scared him like that? asked the captain.
Oh, this gang heresome of the others got awaythreatened to kill
Now look here, Captain broke in Gladwin, making furious, yet
vain, gestures at Bateato.
Silence! Captain Stone cut him off again.
I admire this chap's nerve, Captain, laughed the thief. It's
monumental. He very nearly succeeded in bluffing Officer Phelan, but I
guess you can take care of him all rightI must hurry off and get an
expert to repair the damage done to these valuable paintings. Of
course, you'll leave a man or two on guard.
Once more he gathered up his stick and overcoat and once more his
exit was blockedthis time by Whitney Barnes.
It was only natural for that young man to misread the situation and
conceive that Mrs. Elvira Burton had succeeded in her object of
arresting his friend. So he blurted breathlessly:
By Jove, Travers, I see I'm too late. I've been all over the city
trying to warn youI knew the police were on your track.
Who the devil are you? Captain Stone cut in on him.
Another of the gang, responded the thief promptly. He's got some
story trumped up that he thinks will get him off.
Well, we'll let him tell it then, and youindicating the
thiefhad better wait and hear it.
There was something in the thief's manner that had fired a spark of
suspicion in the officer's mind.
Not a word about the girl, Travers managed to whisper to Barnes in
the moment Captain Stone had turned to address the thief.
I won'tBarnes was replying when the Captain flung round on him.
Stop that whispering, and come over here where I can get a good
look at you. Which one of these men is the real Gladwin?
He is, of course! Barnes nodded toward his friend. The truth of
the situation had at last dawned upon him.
The thief smiled at Captain Stone and shook his head as if in
compliment of the nerve of some criminals.
H'm, said the captain, turning to Barnes again. And when did you
find out that there was some one else who claimed to be Travers
Why, replied Barnes briskly, when Gladwin and I were here
together this afternoon. The doorbell rang and two
His friend shook a vigorous warning. Barnes stopped.
Yes, and two what?
Well, you see, the doorbell rang
Yes, you said that! snapped Captain Stone. The doorbell rang and
Yes, and two minutes after that it rang againrang in an
extraordinary kind of way, you know, as if whoever was ringing itwas
ringing it becausebecause they wanted to come income in in a hurry,
you see. Well, I went to the door
Why did you go to the door? demanded Captain Stone.
Well, you see, the bell rang
Don't go back to that again! Why did you go to the door?
Well, I can't at this minute remember exactly, but I'm under the
impression I went toto find out who was ringing the bell, just like
that, as it were.
That's enough of you, snorted Captain Stone. Ryan (to one of his
men) take this one and slip the nippers on him.
See here, Captain, I can explain this.Travers Gladwin essayed
again, as he saw his friend struggling in the grip of a blue-coated
giant and spluttering his protests against being handcuffed.
You can't explain anything to me, was the best he got from Captain
During this spirited dialogue the thief had gone to the side of
Helen Burton, who had remained motionless where she had risen from her
chair, playing the part of a helpless victim in the seemingly hopeless
Now then, Helen, he said to her in his old tone of endearment, we
can go. You see where this impostor stands.
There was no mistaking the uncompromising emphasis of her denial.
Captain Stone set out to distribute his prisoners, motioning to one
policeman to take care of Gladwin and to another to look after the Jap,
who would be needed as a witness.
He came last to Helen just as she had repulsed the man she was to
have eloped with that night. Captain Stone had had experience enough
with women to be able to distinguish between types. He was on the point
of ordering another of his men to take charge of Helen when he paused
and studied her more closely. His men were starting for the door with
their prisoners when he signalled them to stop.
Wait, he said, I wish to question this lady.
He turned to Helen, when there came swiftly into the room Lieutenant
Detective Kearney of the Central Office.
Kearney was every inch a Central Office man, and had been long
enough at Headquarters to lose the heavy bovine set of the man who
pounds the pavement. A strapping big fellow, with graying hair and a
pair of round bullet eyes that searched you with needle points, his
very appearance was sufficient corroboration of all the thrilling
stories the newspapers printed of his skill and courage.
Hello, Kearney! What do you want? Captain Stone addressed him as
he stopped in the doorway and surveyed the remarkable scene before him.
I'm looking for Travers Gladwin, replied the detective shortly.
I'm Travers Gladwin, spoke up the thief, easily, but holding his
head so that Kearney could see only the profile.
That's my name! exclaimed Travers Gladwin in the same breath with
Kearney looked from one to the other, fairly pistolling his
Oh, both of you named Travers Gladwin? he asked with a puzzled
That one's a fake, interposed Captain Stone, pointing to the real
Gladwin. Thisnodding toward the impostoris the real Travers
Kearney's face showed no more expression than if it had been cut for
a cameo, but when the thief asked him with perfect self-command: What
can I do for you? he came on into the room and stopped directly in
front of him.
I have a warrant for your arrest, he said, abruptly, and stuck his
hand in his pocket for the document.
My arrest! For what? said the thief with a beautifully feigned
amazement and a little laugh of incredulity.
Cradle snatchingabduction, jerked out Kearney, unfolding the
That is rich! laughed the thief.
I got the warrant fromKearney stopped and his little bullet eyes
went to work on the thief from the ground up. He was measuring every
inch of the man with an eye that had been trained for years to keep
tabs on a multitude of marked and measured men.
Would you mind coming over herea step or two closer,
Mr.Gladwin? he said tensely.
The thief stepped toward him and directly under the electrolier,
while the others in the room stood like statues, looking on.
As Kearney continued his searching examination of the unflinching
and still smiling man, whose head was on a level with his and whose
body was every inch as big and well set up, Captain Stone broke in
What is it, Kearney?
I think there's some mistake, sir, said the detective, grimly.
Are you sure this man is Travers Gladwin?
You seem to be in some doubt about it, said the thief, dropping
his thumbs in the pockets of his waistcoat and raising his chin a
little. Whatever was going on inside him, his eyes were twinkling with
I am, Kearney retorted; then to Captain Stone, What is this case
Picture robbery! I was sure of it! You've made a mistake, Captain.
I know this man!
The sentences came out like a succession of pistol shots, while his
eyes never left the face of the thief.
I know you, he attacked the smile again. It was a bullet-proof
smile and never wavered.
Well, who is he? interrupted the real Travers Gladwin, eagerly.
He's the greatest picture expert inthe world!
You flatter me, said the thief with a bow, and a side glance at
Helen Burton, who was gazing at him as if both fascinated and repelled.
You admit it then, said Kearney roughly, unable to disguise the
triumph he felt at this identification of a man he had never seen
I am not so egotistical, the other bowed, but I will go along
with you with pleasure and see what you are able to prove.
Are you sure about this, Kearney? asked Captain Stone, still
doubting and hating to admit he had been led into an egregious blunder.
Certain, retorted the detective. He's been fooling them on the
other side for several years, but they nearly got him in Scotland Yard
two months ago. I got a full report on him from his straight eyebrows
and gray eyes down to the cut of his vest, with picture and measurement
attached. His real name is Alf Wilsonthere were a hundred men on his
trail, but he made a getaway.
I don't suppose there's any use trying to deny all this now, said
Wilson, without the slightest change of tone, shoving his hands into
his trousers pockets and lifting his head in contemplation of the
pictures on the wall.
Not the slightest, returned the detective, snatching a pair of
handcuffs from his coat pocket.
Wait just a moment, officer, interrupted Travers Gladwin. I'd
like to ask this man one question.
Delighted, cried the picture expert, turning and showing all his
teeth in a mocking smile.
Travers Gladwin pointed to the portrait of The Blue Boy.
How did you know I bought that picture in London upon certain
I was the man behind the gunthink it over.
He swung round to face the spurious Gainsborough. As he did so
something caught his eye and he moved toward the portrait. Gladwin
followed and inquired:
But you not only knew it was a fake, but when I bought it and what
I paid for it.
I knew about it, came the jaunty reply, because I painted
He moved another step nearer the painting as Gladwin gasped.
Yes, he went on lightly, running his hand along the bottom of the
frame, according to this gentleman, and he nodded over his shoulder
to Kearney, who had kept pace with him, backing to cover the doorway,
your 'Blue Boy' was painted by the greatest picture expert in the
As the last word came laughingly from his lips the room was plunged
CHAPTER XXXVI. REPARTEE AND A
The inky blackness fell upon the room with palpable suddennesslike
a blinding flash, numbing for a moment the senses of all who had been
taken by surprise. The reflex of the shock was manifested in a very
babel of incoherent shouts, jostlings and stumblings and sharp
collisions with the furniture.
Turn up the lights, shouted Captain Stone, amid the tumult.
Travers Gladwin made a blind dive toward the wall and stumbled
headlong over the great antique chest which stood to one side of where
he and the thief had stood contemplating The Blue Boy. In stumbling
against the chest he felt something that was a revelation to him by the
time he found the switch button and brought back a flood of light.
Quick, men, cover the doorsdon't let any one get out, yelled
Captain Stone, pivoting on his heel as his eyes vainly sought the
He's gone! cried Kearney.
Yes, up the stairsI hear him, yelled Gladwin. There are two
back stairways and the roof. There are two basement exitspost your
men out there, and down through that hallway on the leftthe panel
doorthat leads to the kitchen. Barnes, you and Bateato take the young
lady up to my studyquick!I'll look after this room.
The most remarkable thing about it was that every command the young
man shouted was obeyed. Even Kearney was fooled and rushed headlong up
the stairs, followed by two policemen and Barnes, who was yelling:
Hey! come back here and unlock me! How can I hunt that chap with these
He might as well have appealed to the moon.
Bateato fairly dragged Helen up the stairs after him and guided her
to the magnificently furnished study and den to the right of the
staircase, when he switched on the lights and became furiously active
in the interest of the young girl's comfort.
Captain Stone had rushed out into the street and posted men on the
stoop and at the basement exits; then, followed by the last lone
patrolman of his squad, he darted through the alley at the side of the
mansion which led to the rear yard.
The emptying of the room was accomplished in a few seconds,
whereupon Gladwin hastened to the doorway, reached for the folding
doors and hauled them to, fastening the latch. Next he shut the door to
the kitchen hallway and fastened that, when, with a sigh of relief, he
walked to the long carved oak table that flanked the window, hoisted
himself on it, produced his gold cigarette case, took out a cigarette,
set fire to it, snapped the case and returned it to his pocket.
While he inhaled a deep breath of stimulating smoke his eyes were
fixed upon the great chest directly in front of him.
He was sitting easily on the table, kicking his legs, and he
continued just in that attitude when the lid of the chest lifted a few
inches and a small brilliantly nickelled revolver came out and covered
I'm waiting for yez, Misther Gladwin, chuckled the young man.
By some strange psychologic freak he was not in the least dismayed
by the ominous menace of that shining muzzle, which gradually came
further out as the arm and head of the picture expert followed it.
Once the thief had glimpsed the young man and made out that they had
the room to themselves he came out of the chest as lightly and
noiselessly as he had enveloped himself in it. But his smile was gone
now and in its place there was the wariness of the hunted animal. Still
covering Gladwin and surveying the room he said in low, level tones:
If you move it'll be the last act of your life, McGinty.
Murphy, sorr, purred Gladwin, his face abeam.
I like your nerve, young un.
I've been taking lessons from the man who invented nerve.
Well, you don't seem anxious to give the alarm, said Wilson,
toying with the little automatic and turning it over in the expanse of
No, I'm afraid it might make you nervous.
Might make me so nervous that this gun would go off, eh?
A shadow of the old smile came back as he went stealthily to the
door and listened.
You seem to enjoy smoking, said the peer of art collectors,
turning his back to Gladwin.
Have you time to smoke a cigar?
Is it a good one?
I don't knowit's the one you gave me while I was Officer 666.
Gladwin tossed the cigar to the thief, who caught it deftly and
inserted it between his lips. And here's some more of your
possessions, added the young man, drawing out the bribe money he had
accepted while he masqueraded in the officer's uniform.
Thanks, said Wilson, as he caught the money, and here's your
little yellow boy, though I wish that intellectual giant of a cop were
here so I could hire his uniform for a bit.
You amaze me by your generosity, murmured Gladwin as he pocketed
the $500 bill.
Oh, said the other easily, while he again listened at the door.
I'm not a regular crookI'm in the picture business.
Still, if you kept that bill it might help you get better
accommodations when you reach Sing Sing.
If I don't need it till then I won't need it for a long, long
You mean you think you're going to escape?
Gladwin slid down from the table and leaned against it, making no
effort to conceal the admiration he experienced for this man's
And with guards all around the house and policemen tearing thirty
rooms apart upstairs and camping on the roof scuttleyes, and more
I venture to hope so, chuckled the other. I admit it's close
enough to be interesting.
Well, I'll say one thing for you, the young millionaire said
earnestly, you're the coolest chap I ever hope to meet. You're a
Built to order to work in story books, eh? Well, to be candid with
you, McGinty, there are times when I'm not so cool as I look. I'm
Those cops will finish their work soonthen they'll come in here,
Gladwin warned him.
I'm listening for them, said Wilson softly, putting his ear to the
Just because your pistol prevents me from calling them now, don't
This gun isn't stopping you, came the short reply. If you wanted
to call them you'd take a chanceI've found that out in the last
hundred seconds or so.
Thank you for the compliment, but I
Well, I'll prove it, the thief intervened, and tossed the gun to
Gladwin, who caught it as if it were something hot. Go ahead and call
How do you know I wouldn't call them? the young man asked,
examining the automatic and finding it empty.
Don't be a child, shrugged the other. You closed these doors, and
you butted in about the 'Blue Boy' just as that Central Office owl
produced his jewelry. Yes, and you stumbled against the chest and knew
that I was in it.
But I say, asked Gladwin, abruptly. How did you come to use my
It wasn't safe to use mine, and when I met Missthat girlyour
name was in my mindI borrowed it.
That's the thing I can't forgive you for, said Gladwin,
regretfullyto deceive her as you did. That was rotten.
I don't care for your opinion on that, said the picture expert,
warmly. How can a man like you understand a man like me? It can't be
done. We're further apart than the poles.
But you must see, Wilsonthat's the name, isn't it?
It will do for the nonce, kind sir.
But you must see that the game is up. If you take my advice you
won't even try to escape.
Then I won't take your advice, said Wilson, softly.
But all these policemen know you're a big prize. If they find you
and you break for it, they'll shootand shoot to kill if necessary.
The thief flung round on him and his face was suddenly drawn and
Death, my dear Gladwin, is the very least of my troubles, if it
will only come like that.
By Jove! I like youand I hope you escape!
I know you do, said Wilson, shaking his head, but not altogether
on my account. You're thinking of herthe girl. You don't want it to
be known that she was going to marry me.
To be frank, yes. They're coming now. Quick! Do something!
The thief seized from the floor one of the portières he had torn
down to wrap the canvases in, wound it about him and darted behind the
curtains that screened the window. As he vanished Gladwin went to the
door and heard the voice of his friend, Whitney Barnes, demanding
CHAPTER XXXVII. HANDCUFFS AND LOVE.
Helen Burton could not have found a cozier place to faint in than
that ultra-luxurious den of Travers Gladwin. Every chair and divan in
the place invited one to swoon within its folds.
The young man had ordered his decorator to provide him with a
chamber wherein stiffness and formality would be impossible unless one
stood erect. The decorator had spent money with a lavish hand upon
Spanish leathers and silken stuffs from the near East and the Orient
and he had laid these trappings over the softest of swan's down. Once
you sank upon them you could not help a sensation of utter peace and
That final and irrevocable blasting of her ideal was a shock upon
many shocks that the young girl had experienced within the course of a
few hours and that she reached the den on her feet was due more to
Bateato's strength and agility than to any nervous or physical force
within her slender body.
The little Jap had fairly flown up the stairs with her in such
fashion that she had no distinct recollection of her feet touching any
stable surface. Then he had turned a sharp corner while she seemed to
stream behind him like a fluttering pennant, and next she had felt
herself sink into a soft, delicious embrace, when her senses left her
and she seemed to drop pleasantly through fathomless space.
It was a great crimson chair embroidered with yellow poppies into
which Bateato had dropped his burden, then switched on a myriad of tiny
lamps suspended from the ceiling by slim chains of different lengths or
gleaming from dark niches and embrasures in the tapestry-hung walls.
All these subdued and colored lights mingled to produce a
wonderfully soft and reposeful effect, and when at last Helen opened
her eyesand her swoon had been of only a few minutes' durationshe
was sure that the setting was a dream and half expected some impossible
creature of phantasmagoria to rise from the floor and address her.
Then she felt an intermittent draught upon her cheek and looked up
to see Whitney Barnes fanning her with an elaborate contrivance of
peacock feathers that was alleged to have once done duty in the harem
of Abdul Hamid, one-time Sultan of Turkey.
She was not sure at first that this strange looking being who fanned
her in such an amazing fashion was the young friend of the real Travers
Gladwin who had appeared on the scene from time to time during that
fateful afternoon, for his features were far from being in repose.
Positive torture was written on his clean-cut boyish face as he wielded
that fast fan in his handcuffed hands as if it were a task imposed upon
him by some evil spirit.
Certainly there was no grace in the savage gestures of his arms as
his wrists twisted and writhed in their shackles, but he stuck to his
task desperately, now and then hissing over his shoulder at Bateato to
learn why in thunder he didn't find smelling salts or whiskey or brandy
or something with which to restore the young lady to consciousness.
And on his part, Bateato was racing about like a scared mouse,
diving into mysterious chests and cabinets or under divans or climbing
up the walls to explore recessed shelves. His activities were confined
to that one chamber, for a big, implacable policeman stood at the
entrance, with orders to keep his eye on the young woman and the Jap
and see that they did not escape or attempt to assist the vanished
picture expert in concealing himself or getting away.
As Helen's dazed faculties gradually resumed their normal activities
and she realized that Whitney Barnes was a reality, the humor of the
situation suddenly struck her fancy and she smiled. She was smiling
with eyes and lips when young Barnes turned back his head from another
reproach of Bateato and looked to see how she was coming on.
Thank heaven! he exclaimed. I thought you were dead. I wanted to
go out for a doctor, but these confounded policemen wouldn't let
meyes, and they wouldn't unlock me. Have I fanned enough? I'm pretty
well tuckered out, and these feathers get in one's nose so. Then this
is an extraordinary kind of a fanthey use them in harems or something
of the sort, and I've never fanned in harems.
Please stop, then, laughed Helen, and I'm a thousand times
obliged to you. If I could only have a glass of water I think I would
be myself again.
Bateato had at last pried into a cabinet that contained a decanter
of brandy and strange looking Moorish goblets, and from some curtained
enclosure he obtained cold water from a faucet. A sip of the potent
brandy and draught of water brought the color back to the girl's cheeks
and the light to her eyes. The change was so reassuring that Whitney
Barnes actually beamed and for a few moments dropped all thought of his
My, but you are beautiful! he said impulsively. I don't blame
Travers for going daffy in the Ritz, and do you know your eyes are
exactly like your cousin's!
Helen laughed in spite of herself at the young man's headlong gush
of words, then became suddenly serious.
We haven't time to talk about eyes now, she said soberly. You
must assist me in telling these policemen how I brought this terrible
embarrassment upon Mr. Gladwin.
Nothing of the sort, retorted Barnes. He wouldn't hear of it.
He'd cut off both his arms before he'd allow your name to be dragged
into such a sensation. And I'd add mine, too, willingly, with these
bracelets on them.
But that detective said he had a warrant for Mr. Gladwin for
eloping with me, cried Helen, blushing scarlet. And, you know
Yes, I know you're going to weep or faint or something else. Tell
me about your cousinshe's not m-m-married?
Sadie married! ejaculated Helen. Why, she's deathly afraid of
men. She's the most timid little thing in the world.
Good! cried Barnes, enthusiastically. These handcuffs are not
half bad, now you tell me that.
Why, what do you mean? asked Helen, her eyes twinkling.
Oh, nothing, said Barnes, trying to look unconcerned. She's very
young? he added quickly.
A year younger than I am, said Helen, mischievously. There was
something positively fascinating about the intense seriousness that had
fallen upon the nervous features of Whitney Barnes.
She's not too young to marry? was his next query.
N-no, Helen hesitated, though I suppose you'd have to ask
Well, you didn't have to do that, he said in alarm. Oh, I beg
your pardon, he added quickly, please forgive me.
You are forgiven, said Helen, with a catch in her breath; then
resolutely, but that is all over with. It wasn't really realonly a
Of course, it wasn't real, sympathized Barnes. That fellow just
hypnotized youand my eye, but he's a wonderful looking chapsort of
a Hercules and Adonis all thrown into one. But to get back to
SadieI'm going to marry her.
You are! Helen half started from her chair.
Be calm; be calm, and he waved her down with his shackled hands.
When I say I'm going to marry her I merely state a fond belief I have
been cherishing since, m'mwell since a very long time ago to-day or
yesterday, for to-day is to-morrow by this time, you know. Now don't
stop meI say I am going to marry your cousin because I believe in
Destiny with a big D. Do you?
I did, said Helen grimly, but now I don't.
Oh, yes, you do, Barnes breezed on. You may not think that you
believe you do, but you really do, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if
the destiny you thought outas far as the name goesTravers Gladwin,
I meancomes true after all. But to come back to Sadie and my Destiny.
I have really got to marry herorders from headquarters!
Orders from headquarters! gasped Helen.
Exactly! My governorthat is, my dadthat is, the paterwrung a
promise from me, issued a command, a ukase, an ultimatumsaid:
'Whitney Barnes, you go right out and get married and bring home a lot
of grand-children.' No; that wasn't it exactlynow let me think a
moment. Yes, I've got ithe said: 'You've simply got to marry and
settle down or I'll turn you out into the street.'
Wasn't that enough to take the wind out of you, when you'd never
given the idea of marriage a thought. Simply bowled me over. At first I
refused point blank, but when I saw how cut up the poor old dad was
about it I shook his hand and said: 'Pater, doneI'll go right out and
find a wife.' And I did.
What! said Helen faintly. You went right out and got married?
No, no, no, my dear cousin. I simply found Sadie.
And have you asked her? Not surely while we were here this
Oh, I saw her laterwhen she came to-night with your aunt, while
your aunt was searching all over the place for you. Not that I really
asked her then, but we looked at each other, you know, and I think we
liked each otherand that's a big start. I just know we'll get
marriedwe're soul-mates! There isn't any doubt of it.
Well, it strikes me, said Helen severely, that you're a trifle
Indeed I am, was his startling response. You've got to be, in
love. If you don't think you're pretty fine how are you going to
convince anybody else that you are? But you'll have to excuse me for a
momentthese bracelets are cutting my wrists to pieces. I must find
that man who locked me up. You must stay here till I come backI won't
be a minute, and the young man darted out of the room with a ludicrous
diving motion of his arms as he parted the heavy crimson silk hangings
at the doorway and caromed against the big policeman on guard.
CHAPTER XXXVIII. KEARNEY MEETS HIS
There was no turning Whitney Barnes away with a soft answer. His
appeals for admission were rising to a strident pitch when his friend
opened the door and yanked him in.
Have you seen him? demanded Barnes, looking about wildly.
No, Gladwin returned. I think he escaped.
Oh, I don't mean the robber Johnny, complained Barnes, shaking out
his handcuffed wrists. I mean the damned idiot who locked these things
He's searching the house, said Gladwin, smiling at his friend's
Detective Kearney came into the room alert as a race horse.
We've been through the house from cellar to roof, he spat out
while his eyes searched every corner of the room.
I saylook here, said Barnes, can you unlock me?
No! Kearney would not even look at him.
Confound it, somebody ought to unlock me! exclaimed the frantic
Barnes. This is the most annoying position I was ever in in my life.
My valet even couldn't undress me with these things on.
What's out that way? asked Kearney, pointing to the panel door
that opened upon the backstairs hallway.
Kitchen, said Gladwin, going to the door and opening it.
Oh, yes, said Kearney, the captain's back there?
But look here, detective, cried Barnes again, who was that
inordinate ass who locked me up?
Ryan! said Kearney, freezing a smile as it formed on his lips.
Where is he?
On the roof.
What the deuce is he doing on the roof?
Well, stormed Barnes, I'll go up there and if he don't unlock me
I'll push him off.
He dashed out of the room and up the stairs.
Funny thing where that man got to, Mr. Gladwin, mused the Central
Office man, with a keen glance from under his heavy eyebrows.
Yes, those chaps are clever, aren't they? returned the young man
with affected unconcern. I suppose he's miles away by this time.
I don't think he's gone very far, rejoined Kearney, his voice
bristling with suspicion. He couldn't have got away without the men
outside seeing him. We've got the block surrounded now. He's here in
this house, Mr. GladwinI guess you know that.
I don't know anything of the kind, Gladwin denied, with a trifle
too much emphasis. A policeman appeared in the doorway and Kearney
called to him, Ryan, I thought you were on the roof.
Sergeant Burke sent me down, responded Ryan. We've got the roofs
covered both way.
Did you see the man you put the bracelets on? asked Kearney.
No, replied Ryan, but I heard a lot of noise going up one of the
You better go and find him, urged Travers Gladwin. He's in an
No, countermanded Kearney, never mind him now.
But you're wasting time here, persisted Gladwin. I can look after
Oh, no, you can't! Kearney flashed back.
Because you're under arrest. I was after you when I happened to
find the other fellow. I haven't any idea you'll try and escape, Mr.
Gladwin, but a warrant is a warrant and duty's duty.
But that warrant wasn't meant for me.
Kearney's eyes widened with surprise. Was the girl running off with
that crook? he asked quickly.
No, Gladwin corrected, realizing his break.
Then you better go along with Ryan. Ryan, you take him upstairs and
sit by him till I send for you.
See here, the young man began to splutter as the giant Ryan seized
him and walked him on air out of the room and up the stairs.
Kearney went to the folding doors and shut them.
He's in this room somewhere, muttered the detective, going to the
portières that curtained the window leading out to the balcony.
He was almost touching Wilson when the latter suddenly enveloped him
in the portière he had wrapped around himself and hurled the big
detective to the floor. As Kearney was untangling himself Wilson darted
between the portières, glanced out the window and saw that a leap from
the balcony would land him in the arms of three patrolmen. He shook
open the window and then shrank back into the far corner of the
Kearney was on his feet again and sprang out to the balcony.
He came out this way, he yelled to the men below. Did he jump
Kearney darted back into the room, looked everywhere, ran to the
folding doors and flung them open. Then he looked back at the panel
door, noticed that it was ajar and dived for it.
He's hiding somewhere in this black alley, he said with an oath,
A moment later Wilson peeked out and re-entered the room. He had
scarcely left his place of concealment when Officer No. 666 burst in.
Oh, there ye are, Mr. Gladwin! said Phelan, with a lovely grin.
Yes, I'm here, nodded Wilson.
I just come back with another bunch of cops, said Phelan, but I
hear the crook got away. He's a smooth snake fer ye.
No, I think he's still in the house, laughed Wilson, and I'd like
to have you get the credit of catching him, Phelan. You go outside and
report to the captain, then come back here. Maybe I can help you find
Thank ye, sorr, said Phelan, obeying the suggestion.
Here comes another one, breathed the thief, hearing a heavy tread
and crossing the room to the big ornamental fireplace which had never
known a spark or speck of soot. There was a mammoth opening in the
chimney and Wilson vanished up it as Kearney plunged back into the
As the detective entered through the panel door, Watkins in full
chauffeur regalia appeared from the hallway.
Well, who sent you? Kearney pounced on him.
I don't know, Watkins returned. Some manGladwin, I think, is
the name. I was sent here for a lady.
Well, you sit out in the hall and wait, snapped Kearney, who again
proceeded to explore the room, muttering and cursing.
The voice of Travers Gladwin in heated argument upstairs with
Officer Ryan became audible.
I'll settle that fresh kid! Kearney ejaculated, and made a break
for the stairs.
His departure was Wilson's cue to let himself down from the chimney.
He signalled Watkins, who was sitting in the hall. Watkins glided in.
By George! exclaimed Wilson, we are going it some in here. You
certainly are taking big chances butting in. I didn't think you had the
nerve. It's a hundred to one against me, but I've beaten bigger odds
than that. You get up that chimney and I'll plant myself in the chest.
Quick, they're coming down again.
Watkins went up the chimney with the sinuous speed of a snake, and
the picture expert went into the chest with the agility of a wolf
spider ducking into its trap.
They were coming from all directions this timeGladwin down the
stairs, about fourteen jumps ahead of Kearney, proclaiming that he
would telephone his lawyer and that he could put up $5,000,000 in bonds
for bail if need be. Phelan was coming through the front door and
Captain Stone through the hallway from the kitchen.
Glimpsing Gladwin, Phelan made a flying dive for him, yelling, I
got him! I got him!
They rolled on the floor in a heap.
Have you got him, Phelan? cried Captain Stone, rushing through the
room and into the hallway.
I have, sorr, responded Phelan, proudly, getting to his feet and
pulling up his captive.
What the devil's this, bawled Captain Stone, recognizing Gladwin.
The thief, sorr, responded Phelan.
The thief, hell! That's Mr. Gladwin!
W-w-w-what? stuttered Phelan. Once again he entered into a
condition of complete mental paralysis.
Has he hurt you, sir? asked the captain, solicitously, noticing
that Gladwin's face was writhing.
Nothing mortal, winced the young man.
What's the matter with you, Phelan, the captain jumped on him.
Have you been drunk to-day?
No, sorr, gurgled Phelan, I
Don't try to stop me, officer, I've come for my niece, crashed the
shrill voice of Mrs. Elvira Burton. She had seized a dramatic moment
for her re-entry.
CHAPTER XXXIX. PILING ON PHELAN'S
Mrs. Burton would have arrived much earlier into the midst of the
maelstrom of events at the Gladwin mansion had not Fate in the shape of
a tire-blowout intervened.
She had set out from Police Headquarters with Detective Kearney as a
passenger and she had urged her red-headed chauffeur to pay not the
slightest heed to speed laws or any other laws. He had obeyed with such
enthusiasm that the blowout had occurred at the intersection of Fifth
avenue and Forty-second street.
Late as the hour was there was a large crowd gathered to hear the
society leader of Omaha deliver a lecture in strange French and caustic
Kearney had transshipped to a taxicab, which accounted for his
Who's in charge here? cried Mrs. Burton, sweeping into the room
with all sails set and drawing to the storm.
I am, replied Captain Stone, none too pleasantly as the gold
lorgnettes were waved under his nose.
Well, I came for my nieceproduce her at once, insisted the
You'll have to wait a few minutes, answered Captain Stone, grimly.
We're otherwise engaged at present.
But I have a warrantI've ordered Mr. Gladwin's arrest! she
We'll attend to that later, snapped the captain. We're looking
for a thief who broke in here to-night.
A thief! exclaimed Mrs. Burton. Well, I saw him.
What? asked the amazed officer.
Yes, when I was here before, and there he is now, only he's got a
policeman's uniform on.
Mrs. Burton pointed an accusing finger at Michael Phelan, who
proceeded to turn livid.
You saw that man here before? asked the wondering captain.
Yes. He was in his shirt sleeves and when he saw me he ran away to
Are you sure about this? asked Captain Stone slowly, turning and
scowling at the condemned Phelan.
I should say I am, declared the relentless Mrs. Burton. How could
I ever forget that face?
C-c-c-captain, I-I-I w-w-want to explainchattered Phelan.
There'll be time enough for that, the captain checked him. For
the present you camp right here in this room. Don't you budge an inch
from it. That thief is somewhere in this house and we've got to find
Give me my niece first, cried Mrs. Burton.
Captain Stone ignored the request and shouted to Kearney and the
three men who had followed him into the room:
Come, we are wasting time. This house must be searched again and
searched thoroughly. I don't believe you have half done it. Lead the
way, Kearney, we'll begin on the next floor.
As they went out Sadie Burton timidly approached Whitney Barnes, who
was still making the rounds of every policeman in the house and
pleading to be unlocked.
How do you dowhat is the matter? she said timidly, looking up
into Barnes's distressed face.
I don't do at all, replied Barnes, tragically, folding his arms in
an effort to conceal the handcuffs.
Why, you seem to have a chill, Sadie sympathized, with real
concern in her voice.
I should say I have, gasped Barnes, a most awful chill. But it
may pass off. Excuse me, here's a new policeman I haven't asked yet.
The young man crossed the room to Phelan.
Have you got a key to these infernal shackles? he asked, while
Sadie looked wonderingly after him.
I've got a key to nothin', growled Phelan. Don't talk to meI'd
like to kill some of yez.
Barnes retreated, backing into Mrs. Burton, who turned and seized
Do you know where my niece is? she demanded.
Oh, yes, she's here, only you're breaking my arm.
Where is she and where is that fiend Gladwin?
Oh, the fiend Gladwin just went upstairs to her. She's
Oh, I don't knowgo up and find her, that isI beg your
pardonI'll lead the waycome, Miss Sadie.
The handcuffed youth led the procession up the stairs, leaving
Officer 666 as solitary sentinel in the great drawing room and picture
Well, I guess I'm dished fer fair, groaned Phelan as he mournfully
surveyed the deserted room and allowed his eyes to rest on the portrait
of a woman who looked out at him from mischievous blue eyes.
An' all fer a pair o' them eyes, he added, wistfully. 'Tis
He might have gone on at some length with this doleful soliloquy had
not a hand suddenly closed over his mouth with the grip of a steel
Alf Wilson had come out of the chest as noiselessly as he had
originally entered it and good fortune favored him to the extent of
placing Phelan with his back to him while his troubled mind was steeped
in a mixture of love and despair.
As the thief pounced upon the ill-fated Officer 666 he uttered,
Pst! Pst! Watkins!
That sinuous individual writhed out of the fireplace and came to his
Get his elbows and put your knee in his back, instructed the
thief, while I reach for my ether-gun. Thank God! Here it is in my
Phelan struggled in a fruitless effort to tear himself free, but
Wilson's grip was the grip of unyielding withes of steel and the slim
and wiry Watkins was just as muscular for his weight.
It was the task of a moment for the picture expert to bring round
the little silver device he called his ether-gun. Phelan was gasping
for breath through his nostrils, and Wilson had only to press the bulb
once or twice before the policeman's muscles relaxed and he fell limply
into Watkins's arms.
That'll hold him for ten minutes at least, breathed Wilson.
That's right, Watkins, prop him up while I get his belt and coat
offthen into the chest.
Phelan was completely insensible, but his weight and the squareness
of his bulk made it a strenuous task to support him and at the same
time remove his coat. Only a man of Wilson's size and prodigious
strength could have accomplished the feat in anything like the time
required, and both he and Watkins were purple and breathless when they
lowered the again unfrocked Officer 666 into the chest and piled
portières and a small Persian rug on top of him.
While Watkins held up the lid the thief tore off his claw-hammer
coat and stuffed that down into the chest. In another instant he had
forced his shoulders into the uniform coat, donned the cap and buckled
on the belt.
Now break for it, Watkins, he gasped, fighting the buttons into
the buttonholes. Take it easy out the front door. I'll go out on the
balcony and call down to the men in the street that it's all right.
Start the engine in the car and keep it going till I can make my
Watkins vanished out the door at the psychological moment. Captain
Stone and Kearney were coming down the stairs engaged in earnest
conversation. So engrossed were they when they entered the room that
they failed to notice the absence of Officer 666, whose uniform was
strutting on the balcony while he himself lay anæsthetized in the
How could he have been hiding in those portières, Kearney? Captain
Stone was saying. I looked through them before I left the room.
I don't know how, Captain, replied Kearney, but he was and
Gladwin knew it.
You're sure of that?
I say, captain, do you know where Mr. Ryan is? intervened the
roving Barnes, who seemed to have bobbed up from nowhere in particular
with Sadie in his train.
He may be in the cellar and he may be on the roof, snapped the
captain. Don't bother me now!
But I must bother you, by Jove, persisted the frantic Barnes. I
demand that you send that man to unlock me. I'm not a prisoner or that
sort of thing.
Captain Stone ignored him, addressing Kearney:
Well, if he isn't out nowhe can't get out without an airship.
Still we had better search some more below stairs. Where's that man
Phelan gone? Look out on the balcony, Kearney.
Kearney stepped to the curtains, pulled them back, dropped them, and
nodded, He's out there.
Very well, let's go down into the cellar and work up. There isn't a
room in the house now that isn't guarded.
But, dammit, Captain, exploded Barnes again, rattling his
Don't annoy mecan't you see I'm busy, was all the satisfaction
he got as the captain and the Central Office man left the room.
Sadie came forward shyly as the policemen left.
Did you find out where he is? she asked anxiously.
In the cellar or on the roof. When I get to the roof he is in the
cellar, and when I reach the cellar he is on the roof. He's more
elusive than a ghost.
Whoever are you talking about? cried Sadie.
Mr. Ryan, of course.
But I don't mean Mr. RyanI mean the chauffeur who came for Helen.
I heard Mr. Kearney speaking about him upstairs.
Oh, there's a chauffeur after her, too? said Barnes,
Yes, and wasn't it fortunate that the police arrived just in time
to save her.
The police! sniffed Barnes in disgust. A lot they had to do with
Didn't they really?
They did not. They bungled the whole thing up horribly. Why they'd
have brought in a parson to marry them if it hadn't beenBarnes
managed to blush.
Then who did prevent the elopement? asked Sadie, eagerly. I can't
get a word out of Helen on account of Auntie El.
Can't you guess? said Barnes, mysteriously, looking down upon her
with a sudden return of ardor.
Oh, did you do it? and Sadie looked up at him from under her
Didn't I tell you I'd do it? swelled Barnes.
Sadie thanked him with her wonderfully expressive eyes.
Oh, it was nothing, shrugged Barnes.
You're the nicest man I ever met, blurted Sadie, with astounding
Do you mean that? cried Barnes, rapturously.
Indeed I mean it, admitted Sadie, timidly, backing away from his
Then you won't mind my saying, said Barnes fervently, that you're
the nicest ma'I mean girlI ever met. Why, would you believe
itconfound it, here's that man Gladwin again. Please come upstairs
and I'll finish, handcuffs or no handcuffs.
CHAPTER XL. STRIKING WHILE THE IRON
As Travers Gladwin skimmed up the stairs to warn Helen of the
arrival of her aunt, he was thinking on four sides of his brain at the
same time and revolving together so many lightning plans, that the
result was a good deal of a jumble. In consequence, he was wild-eyed,
out of breath and more than a trifle incoherent when he parted the
crimson curtains of the den and precipitately entered.
Your aunt, he began as he checked his momentum and stopped against
a table beside which Miss Burton was seated, but don't get upand
don't be frightened. She need never know. I'll take the blame for
everything. I am the Travers Gladwin you were going to elope with, and
I'll go to jail if necessary.
He paused for breath, while Helen rose from her chair and protested.
Impossible, Mr. Gladwin. I
Nothing of the sort, the young man stopped her. It is perfectly
possible, and I only wish that I were the man you had chosen to elope
with. I'd elope with you nowin a minuteaunt or no aunt.
You must not talk that way, cried the young girl, her face aflame.
You are only saying this out of politeness, a sense of chivalry, and
while I appreciate all you are doing for me I could not accept any such
Sacrifice! he retorted, with increasing ardor. Call it blessing;
call it heavenly boon; call it the pinnacle of my desire, the apogee of
my hopescall it anything in the world but sacrifice.
Oh, you must not talk to me this way! exclaimed the girl, sinking
back into her chair and covering her face with her hands.
But I certainly must, the young man reeled on. It is the truth,
the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It has come upon me like a
stroke of lightningit may not seem reasonableit may not seem sane.
I can't help that. It is hereinside of me
Stop, Helen interposed again, her voice faint and tremulous. You
are taking advantage of my helpless situation. Why, you hardly know
me! she added, with a swift change of tone as if she had made a sudden
discovery. Taking her hands from her face she looked up at him through
widening eyes misty with tears.
The young man bit his lip and turned his head away.
Pardon me, he said bitterly, after a moment's pause. I had not
thought of it in that light. It does seem as if I were taking advantage
of you. He looked at her steadily a moment until she dropped her eyes.
Can you think I am that sort of a man? he asked abruptly and the
tenseness of his voice made her glance up at him again.
Helen made another remarkable discoverythat he had fine eyes and a
splendid mouth and nose.
Can you think I am that sort of a man? he repeated slowly, forcing
her to continue to yield her eyes to his earnest regard.
No, no, Helen returned hastily. I did not mean it that wayonly
I cannot quite understand it. You never saw me till a few hours ago,
and thenand then I was engaged
She paused and shuddered.
But that was a case of hypnotism, burst out the young man, letting
himself go again. He is a marvelous man. I wish I had half of his
strength of will andand good looks. It is past belief that he is what
he is, with all his talents, his appearance and his magnificent
courage. If it is in my power the police shall not reach him.
At first my only object was to save you from the dreadful position
of becoming the wife of such a man, and also from the scandal that must
have followed if your elopement were discovered and he were arrested.
But now I must confess that the man compels my admiration, and that I
want to see him free for his own sake.
And he is still in the house? said Helen, anxiously.
Yes, yes, and here comes your aunt. Now, I pray you, let me take
the brunt of this storm. I will ask nothing more of you. I am Travers
Gladwin and we were to have elopeddo you promise? For here she is.
Yes, Helen whispered, and then the storm burst.
So here you are at last, Helen Burton, came the first roll of
thunder from the doorway.
It was not as terrifying a rumble as it might have been had not the
statuesque and tightly laced Mrs. Burton lost a good deal of breath in
coming up the stairs. She came on into the room with tragic step,
followed by Whitney Barnes and Sadie, the latter keeping very close to
Barnes as if she feared that her cousin would cover her with reproaches
for having revealed the secret of the projected elopement.
Calm yourself, madam; calm yourself, began Travers Gladwin, as he
stepped between her and her niece.
And who are you, pray? asked the majestic woman, haughtily.
I am to blame for it all, he cried. I am Travers Gladwin.
What! You are Travers Gladwin! You are the wretch who sought to
steal off in the dead of night with my niece and ward. You! You!
Mrs. Burton looked unutterable threats and maledictions. Travers
Gladwin could not resist a smile, which he hid by bowing low and
I must humbly confess to being myself and plead guilty of the crime
of falling passionately in love with your niece. I
Helen rose quickly to her feet and confronted her aunt. There was
fire in the young girl's eye as she said:
Aunt Ella, it is all a mistake, this
Now, Helen, Gladwin turned and took the young girl's hand, please
let me explain. You promised.
She promised what? flared Mrs. Burton.
She foolishly promised to elope with me, said Gladwin sweetly,
but when she got here and thought of the shock and grief that her dear
aunt might suffer she suddenly changed her mind. I had everything
arrangedcar waiting, parson waiting, marriage license in my pocket,
everything! You see madam, I am the only guilty party. Your niece was
the innocent victim of my wiles.
Mrs. Burton looked from one to the other in complete bewilderment.
Helen could only blush and look confused. The immensity of Gladwin's
lie struck her dumb. Sadie was staring at him in open-mouthed
amazement. Even Whitney Barnes blinked his eyes and forgot his
Travers Gladwin met Mrs. Burton's frowning and perplexed stare with
a fatuous smile. At last she turned to Whitney Barnes and asked:
Is he telling the truth?
[Illustration: HE'S ALMOST AS MADLY IN LOVE WITH HER AS I AM.]
Oh, yes, said Barnes, readily, and if it hadn't been for me he
might have kidnapped her. He's almost as madly in love with her as I
amyou will have to excuse me a moment, I think I see that man Ryan.
The shackled young man suddenly darted out of the room, followed by
Sadie, who seemed irresistibly drawn in his wake.
Mrs. Burton looked after them helplessly. A suspicion suddenly
flashed in her brain and she turned back to Gladwin.
I feel sure that you are deceiving me, she charged him, and that
that other young man is Travers Gladwin. You can't tell me that his
wrists were not handcuffed, for I just saw them.
You are entirely mistaken, Gladwin returned soberly. If you will
kindly step out into the music room I will show you a modest portrait
of myself that was painted three years ago by an eminent American
artist. Helen you will pardon us for just a moment, and he turned with
a broad smile that won him a smile in return, for the humor of the
situation had gradually beaten down whatever other emotions stirred in
the girl's breast.
Like one reluctantly led in a dream, Mrs. Burton allowed Gladwin to
escort her into the music room outside and conduct her to a painting
that hung in an obscure corner of the room.
Do you think it flatters me? he asked, as she regarded it dumbly.
She looked at him curiously and then back at the portrait, then
shook her head and muttered:
There's a mystery here somewhere. You are all banded together in a
conspiracy. I do not know whom to believe. But it has gone far enough.
We will go back to Omaha to-morrow. I had no idea New York was such a
terrible place. Why are all these policemen running about?
Mainly in your interest, responded Gladwin quickly, but if you
will consent not to send me to jail I will get them out of the house
and keep the unhappy termination of my romance out of the newspapers.
Of course, it must not get in the newspapers, cried the horrified
Then, madam, if you will go back to Helen and promise not to be too
hard with her I will attend to it.
Was your father's name Edwin Gladwin? asked Mrs. Burton, looking
at him with a swift change of expression as he led her back to the room
he called his den.
Yes, said the young man, but if you will excuse me I will
endeavor to get rid of all these policemen.
He suddenly darted from her and descended the stairs.
CHAPTER XLI. THE ESCAPE.
While he had not the slightest notion where the picture expert had
managed to conceal himself during his own enforced absence from the
scene of the chase, Travers Gladwin was confident that the man was
capable of outwitting an army of the sort of man-hunters who were
swarming within and without the aristocratic premises.
When he caught sight of Whitney Barnes and Sadie in a tender confab
that was just about to frond out into the full foliage of a romantic
climax, it was on his tongue to bid them carry their hearts upstairs
and string them together in a more secluded spot. They beat him to his
own suggestion, and were gone before he could utter a syllable.
He had the great drawing room and picture gallery to himself and was
scanning every corner of it when a voice punctuated the silence.
Ah, Mr. Gladwin!
The young man turned quickly and saw what he at first mistook for a
uniformed constable emerge from the portières that screened the window.
Well, if it isn'the began in gaping surprise.
Murphy, sorr, only a tighter fit. Wilson stepped through the
curtains twirling his club.
So you are 666 now, eh? Gladwin blurted. And Phelan
The gentleman who belongs in this tight-fitting frock? Oh, he's
And you managed to bribe him?
Not exactly that, Mr. Gladwinsay I persuaded him.
My hat is off to you again, exclaimed the young man, but don't
waste any time. You can get away easily in that uniformquick, and
I never hurry in these cases, returned the thief, with an air of
calm indifference. You see, I have an idea that the Captain and
Kearney are waiting for me at the front door, for they made a loud
declaration that they were going to search the cellar. I have had
similar experiences, my young friend.
But they won't leave the front door, and they may burst in here at
any moment, protested Gladwin.
But they will leave the front door when I want them to, said the
By jove, you're a wonderful chap!
I've got to be to keep out of jail.
It's a shame that you misdirect your energies and genius, said the
young man, earnestly.
But you must acknowledge that I work hard for what I get.
Yes, I do.
And I really love pictures.
H'm, yesfor themselves.
Travers Gladwin stood frowning at the floor for a moment, then
looked up quickly.
See here, thenyou've worked mighty hard for my pictures and I'm
going to give you a few of the best of them. Here! And Gladwin stepped
over to the corner of the room where the trunk had been dropped and
picked up a bundle of canvases.
The picture expert wore a broad grin as the young man came toward
him. He waved aside the proffered bundle and said:
Those are not the best of them. Just a minute.
He reached behind him and pulled down from under his belted coat a
similar carefully rolled bundle.
These are the gems of your collection, he said grimly, offering
the slim roll of canvases. I can't keep them nowyou've been too
white about this whole thing. I couldn't even accept 'The Blue Boy.'
Gladwin refused to accept the paintings and the thief laid them down
on the table. Stepping closer to the young man, he bent down and said
low and earnestly:
When a man goes wrong, Gladwin, and the going leans against the
lines of least resistance, it's easier to keep on going than to stop
and switch off into the hard and narrow path. He is always hoping that
something will take hold of him and set him right, and that hope
usually involves a woman.
I've been dreaming lately that I wanted something to set me going
in the right direction, but it seems that you have beaten me to that,
or are on the fair road to do it. The trouble is that I have forgotten
how to go about a clean thing cleanly.
I'm mighty sorry, butGladwin started.
But you're also mighty glad.
I shall always remember you, Wilson, and here's my hand on it that
I shall always be willing to help you up and out of thethe
The muck! supplied the thief, accepting Gladwin's hand and
However, we are wasting time and keeping the ladies up till an
unconscionable hour. If you will get your little Jap down here without
making a noise about it, I can use him and bid you good-night.
Gladwin went warily out into the hallway, reconnoitered the front
door and vestibule, then went to the stairway and uttered a short,
sharp whistle. Bateato came down as if on winged feet and halted as if
turned to stone between the big man in the uniform of Officer 666 and
Come here, said Wilson, and plucked the Jap by the arm.
Bateato trembled with apprehension.
Would you like to catch the thief? the picture expert asked him.
Bateato looked at his master, who nodded reassuringly.
Well, the thief is in your master's room, said Wilson,
impressively. Go up there and bang on the doortake that poker out of
the fireplace and make all the noise you can. Do you understand me?
Ees, sair, and Bateato's long lost grin returned. I make bang,
Yes, and yell, 'Policequick, quick, quickcatch thief.'
Ees, sair, big much pleece come and tief run. Bateato run too and
pleece find all empty.
Goodhurry! and Wilson gave the Jap an unnecessary push toward
the fireplace, for the little Oriental fairly flew on his errand.
A moment later there burst upon the stillness of the mansion a
frightful uproar. The noise was distinctly audible in the street, as
Wilson had slipped to the door and opened it, then concealed himself
behind a curtain.
It was only a matter of seconds before Captain Stone, Kearney and
the entire outside patrol rushed in and piled up the stairs.
Travers Gladwin had not stirred from where he stood in the
drawing-room when Bateato got his instructions. He was intensely
excited and feared that some slip might spoil this inspired plan.
Good-by, came a muffled hail from the hallway. Then there was
silence both within and without.
Gad, I hope he makes it! cried the young man and rushed to the
window. He had hardly reached there when the stillness was punctured by
a crash of shifting gears and the racket of a sixty horsepower engine
thrown into sudden, furious action.
He's gone! Gladwin breathed, as he saw a touring car hurl itself
athwart his vision. He recognized his former servant, Watkins, at the
CHAPTER XLII. MICHAEL PHELAN'S
It was as if a great burden had been removed from his shoulders.
Leaving the window and stepping back into the room, Travers Gladwin
stretched his arms above his head and exhaled a long breath of
Now I can sit down and await developments, he said to himself,
slipping into a chair and stretching out his legs, and it will only
remain for Michael Phelan to turn up or to fail to turn up and the
mystery of the escape is explained. Poor Phelan, he must be a terrific
simpleton, and I suppose I am partly to bla
His gaze had wandered to the great chest, the lid of which was
Before Gladwin could jump to his feet the lid was thrown back and
there sat the subject of his soliloquy in his shirt sleeves, jerking
his head about like a jack-in-the-box.
Where in blazes am I? he groaned as his eyes made out Travers
You seem to be in the chest, replied the young man, covering his
mouth with his hand.
Howly murther! me uniform is gone again! exploded Phelan,
struggling to his feet and examining his shirt sleeves as if he feared
he were the victim of witchcraft.
He climbed out of the chest and turned a vindictive glance upon
Gladwin, who composed his features and said:
Not guilty this time, Officer.
Phelan stared at him stupidly for a second and then let his arms and
shoulders go limp. He was a lugubriously pathetic figure as he turned
up his eyes and muttered:
Now, I rememberthey took it off me and drugged me an' rammed me
into the chest. Wurra! Wurra! I'm a goner now for shure.
Gladwin was about to speak when there was a run of feet on the
stairs and in burst Captain Stone and Detective Kearney. At the sight
of Phelan, the captain recoiled and his jaw dropped. Kearney likewise
regarded him in blank astonishment.
Where's your uniform, Phelan? roared Captain Stone when he could
get his breath.
They took it off medrugged me an' half murthered meeight of
'em, whined Phelan.
Eight of 'em! yelled the captain. There was only one of them, you
I hope to croak if there wasn't two of 'em with the stren'th of
eight, rejoined Phelan, wiping his dripping forehead and rolling his
eyes. An' they chloroformed me an' stuffed me into the chest. You can
ask Mr. Gladwin.
If you let that thief escape in your uniform, Mike Phelan, stormed
the infuriated captain, I'll break you to-morrow. And as for you, Mr.
Gladwin, if you had a hand in this
Calm yourself, captain, returned the young man, I am unable to
claim the honor. I just happened in here as Mr. Phelan was coming out
of the chest.
Why did that Jap make such a thundering racket upstairs? broke in
Kearney. The whole thing looks to me like a frame-up.
Travers Gladwin shrugged his shoulders and said easily:
Considering the number of policemen on the job, does it not also
take on the aspect of a slip-up? It would make rather amusing reading
in the newspapers, but if you prefer, gentlemen, we can let the matter
drop right here.
Captain Stone and Kearney looked at each other and found no comfort
in each other's countenances.
Even though he got away with one hundred thousand dollars' worth of
my paintings, slipping out from under your very noses, Gladwin pressed
his advantage, I may, for the sake of avoiding notoriety, decide that
it is best to keep the thing quiet. Of course, it is in your power to
Not against your wishes, sir, said Captain Stone, meekly.
And you, Mr. Kearney, smiled the young man, looking up into the
frowning visage of the much advertised Central Office man.
Captain Stone is my superior officer, said Kearney shortly,
through compressed lips.
Very well, then, Captain, Gladwin ran on, we will just drop the
incident from our minds. You will oblige me by calling off your men at
Captain Stone bowed and left the room, followed by Kearney.
Well, Phelan, said Gladwin, turning to that distressed individual,
the evening's entertainment seems at an end.
'Tis a divvil of an intertainment fer meI'll be broke to-morrer.
Oh, no, Phelan, and the young man walked over and patted him on
the shoulder, not brokeyou'll resign.
A swell chance I've got to resignwith no shield to turn in. It'll
break the heart of me poor ould mother.
There were tears in Michael Phelan's voice and his woe-begone
expression was pitiable. Young Gladwin hastened to cheer him up.
I will take it upon myself to see that you are honorably
discharged, Phelan. I can almost swear that a little note to Captain
Stone with an inclosure of say four figures will put through your
But I'll be out of a job, won't I? flared Phelan.
Not for a minute. I am going to give you a job for life.
Yes, and at twice the salary you were getting. I'm going to appoint
you my private watchman to guard my picture gallery.
Sure, an' this ain't one o' your jokes? Phelan asked, with a
dismal effort to summon a grin.
Indeed, it is not, and here is that five hundred dollar bill you so
foolishly surrendered to my friend the picture expert. Now, as all your
fellow officers seem to have departed you can begin your duties by
going upstairs and telling the ladies that the blockade has been
By the time Michael Phelan got the crisp saffron bill tucked away in
his jeans he was in full and glorious grin and made for the stairway
with an agility that was a distinct revelation of hidden resources. A
few minutes later Mrs. Burton entered the room, followed by her two
As her now calmer eye took in the room and the empty picture frames,
Mrs. Burton exclaimed:
Whatever have you been doing here?
Some of my canvases need cleaning, was the ready response, with a
wink at Whitney Barnes, who was hovering about Sadie, so I took the
most valuable ones out of the frames to send them to the cleaners.
Mrs. Burton swallowed the fib and began a tour of inspection of the
Your father collected some of these, didn't he? she said after a
pause. Your father and my father were very good friends. I remember
not so long ago hearing him tell of that portrait of your ancestor,
indicating the Stuart.
Now I like this onea Gainsborough, isn't it? She had stopped in
front of The Blue Boy.
Do you like that one? cried the young man.
It's charming, gushed Mrs. Burton.
Mine! Why, I couldn't think of it.
Please do me the honor of accepting it.
After what has occurred to-night? Why, IMrs. Burton couldn't
take her eyes from the picture, and seemed thrilled with an ecstasy of
I will have it packed and shipped to you to-morrow.
Mrs. Burton wheeled upon him with an expression that fairly took him
to her arms.
You dear, generous boy, she cried; if Helen had only confided in
mehere is my card; come to me to-morrow and we will have a family
Auntie, interposed Helen in alarm.
I will take charge of all the wedding arrangements, ran on Auntie,
fairly bubbling over. Come early in the afternoon, Mr. Gladwin. I must
get my girls to bed. Good nightcome, girls.
Mrs. Burton started for the door and Helen lingered behind.
Oh, whatever shall I do? she whispered to Gladwin.
Whatever your heart dictates, he whispered in reply.
And did he escape? came the frightened query, as she dropped her
eyes and blushed.
Yes, and they will never get him.
Thank you! She gave him her hand for a moment and was gone.
CHAPTER XLIII. THE CIRCUMVENTION OF
Sadie sat up with a start and rubbed her eyes.
All right, Nanette, she said sleepily. I'm awake.
The trim, rosy-cheeked maid smiled and swiftly left the room.
She had deposited one armful of fluffy things on a chair beside
Sadie's bed and another armful of fluffy things on a chair beside
Helen's bed. She had also performed other mysterious little offices
noiselessly before going to the side of Sadie's bed.
And sleeping like an innocent babe, said the comely Nanette to
herself with a depth of affection in her tone. Then she bent down and
called in Sadie's ear:
Ten o'clock, Miss Sadie.
She had to repeat the whispered call several times before Sadie's
eyelids fluttered and she stirred into life. The maid had vanished by
the time the younger of the two sleeping beauties had removed the
cobwebs from her eyes.
The twin rosewood beds lay side by side enveloped by the transparent
silken hangings of a single canopy. The room was exquisitely done in
pink and everywhere were evidences that the two lucky mortals who
slumbered therein were coddled and pampered to the limit of modern
Sadie's robe de nuit, as the fashion magazines put it, was a
creation of laces and ribbons and mighty becoming. She had admitted
this to herself as she surveyed her reflection in the tall oval mirror
only five hours before. She admitted it again as she hopped out of bed
and confronted herself in the same mirror. Then she turned and ran
quickly to the side of Helen's bed.
She bent down and kissed her cousin.
Get up, Helen, Sadie urged, as the blue eyes reluctantly opened.
Get up and dress, dearwe haven't much time.
Much time for what? asked Helen, sitting up and going through the
ceremony of rubbing her eyes.
Much time before Auntie wakes.
A roseate blush spread up from the ribbons at Sadie's throat to the
roots of her fair hair.
Helen's eyes were wide open now and she looked at her cousin in
And Mr. Hogg is expected, said Sadie, with swift inspiration.
Whatever are you driving at? asked Helen.
Are you anxious to greet Mr. Hogg? pouted Sadie.
No, was the vehement response.
Then we must be out when he comesand I have an important
engagement at eleven.
Helen shot two little pink feet out of the covers and planked them
down on the velvety rug.
Whom have you an engagement with, Sadie Burton? she asked, with
I have an engagement to elope!
This time Sadie turned her head to hide her blushes.
Helen seemed actually paralyzed. There was an intense pause before
Sadie wheeled round, flung her head defiantly and said with more fire
than she had ever in her life displayed:
With Mr. Whitney Barnesand you are going to assist meyou and
Youcannotbeserious, Sadie? said the older cousin, slowly.
I am, though! was the passionate rejoinder. Nanette and I packed
my steamer trunk after you and Auntie went to bed. Hurry now, Helen,
dear, for we must be at the Little Church Around the Corner at eleven
o'clock. I am going to wear my gray travelling dress and you your
Why, you dreadful little minx, you! cried Helen. If you are
poking fun at me I will never forgive you.
I am not poking fun, retorted Sadie with the same ardor and almost
in tears. It is all planned and arranged. Whitney promised to have
everything ready at the church, including Travers Gladwin. He said he
couldn't wait another minute after eleven o'clockthat the suspense
would kill himand he was so terribly in earnest about it that I
You goose! exclaimed Helen, but now she was smiling and there was
a happy light in her eyes.
Do you mean to tell me, Sadie Burton, she added, that you fell in
love with that young man in a few hoursyou, the man-hater!
Y-y-yes, admitted Sadie, her cheeks again on fire.
And a man you don't know anything abouta perfect stranger!
This brought the fire into the timid miss's eyes and she returned
I know everything about him, Helen Burtonhis whole family
history, and he is only obeying orders in rushing the ceremony.
Yes, his father commanded him to marry me at onceand if he
doesn't obey he will be disinherited and have to become a plumber or
something to make a living. His father is Joshua Barnes, the mustard
kingyou must have heard of him. When I told Auntie who he was she
almost collapsed and said something about Joshua Barnes buying and
selling twenty hogsI suppose she meant Jabez Hogg.
Why, I never heard of such a thing, Sadie. Mr. Barnes could not
have been serious. His father never saw you in his life.
Oh, but he telephoned his father all about it before he proposed to
me. He was sure I would say yes. He is a wonderful mind-reader and
believes in mysteries and Fate. He said the minute he saw me he knew I
was his Fate.
Once more the modest Sadie was in a state bordering on
conflagration. Helen's eye sobered as she looked at and beyond Sadie.
That was the very thing Travers GladwinI mean the real onesaid
to me, she mused.
Yes, and the way things have turned out it would seem
Helen stopped and covered her face with her hands. Sadie ran to her
and put her arms about her.
You are going to help us, aren't you, Helen dear? said Sadie,
tremulously. I would tell Auntie about it only she would want a
tremendous wedding and all that. Whitney and I both hate big weddings.
I am too timid and he is too nervoussays he might swallow the ring
and choke to death. You will now, Helen darling?
There was a little sob in Sadie's voice and Helen surrendered.
You are doing a very rash thing, Sadie, Helen lectured, striving
to draw her brows into an expression of impressive solemnity. My own
terrible experience should have been a lesson to youa warninga
But it was Whitney Barnes who saved you, Helen! cried Sadie,
exultantly. You owe it all to him and that is why I began to love
Nonsense! retorted Helen sharply. Mr. Barnes had nothing whatever
to do with it. All he did was to get himself handcuffed and run about
absurdly trying to be unlocked.
But he was on watch and planned and planned, Sadie defended her
Sadie Burton, I say that Whitney Barnes had nothing whatever to do
with it. He was merely an instrument. Travers Gladwin did it all. I owe
everything to himeverything! He would have gone to jail for
me, sacrificed all his wonderful paintingsoh, Sadie, it was wonderful
It was Sadie who was thunderstruck now by the ardor in her cousin's
voice. Her amazement soon gave way to a beaming smile, and she mumbled
as she turned to her dressing table, I do believe she is in love with
CHAPTER XLIV. MISS FEATHERINGTON'S
Marietta Featherington couldn't seem to concentrate her mind upon
that thirteenth chapter of Lily the Lovely Laundress. The handsome
rat-catcher had just beaten the aristocratic villain to a pulp and
would have finished the job neatly and thoroughly had not Lily raised
her lovely fair hand and cried with the imperiousness of an empress:
Pause, Giovanni! Pause! He may have a mother!
Ordinarily Miss Featherington would have raced through the pages
hungrily, avidly. Not so on this fair November afternoon. Whether it
was the mince pie and melted cheese she had partaken of a bare hour
before, or whether it was the even-more-so-than-usual grumpy mood of
her employer, Joshua Barnes, she could not tell. Perhaps it was
neither. She refused to analyze it. Whatever the cause, she felt heavy
and wistful and sad.
From time to time the emotional Miss Featherington allowed Whitney
Barnes to flit through the corridors of her imagination. He had walked
heavily through her dreams the night before. His strange words of
yesterday had strangely moved her. Desperately she had striven to solve
the mystery. Were they words of love? If so, how would Old Grim Barnes
accept the declaration from his son's lips that he loved the humble
though, yes, though beautiful stenographer lady of the Barnes Mustard
Miss Featherington had half expected to walk into Joshua Barnes's
presence that morning and meet with a torrent of abuse. She had
rehearsed a cold and haughty retort. But her employer had greeted her
with a gruff, Good-morning, and an expression that was equivalent to
Alas! the prince had not spoken.
Marietta pounded out forty-two letters containing references to as
many different kinds of assorted and selected mustard before she
succeeded in dismissing the heir to the mustard millions from her
romantic thoughts and creating a new hero in his stead. The new hero
some way fell down and she picked up Lily the Lovely Laundress. But
even the Lovely Lily failed to thrill and she laid the book aside.
A long sigh was escaping from the depressed maiden's bosom when the
door of the anteroom opened and who should enter but Whitney Barnes.
Marietta swallowed her sigh and clasped her hand over her palpitating
The young man was not alone, however, and he did not deign Miss
Featherington a glance as he held the door open and cried:
Come in, children!
The children were none other than Helen and Sadie and Travers
Gladwin. Nor did they deign Miss Featherington a glance as they
assembled in a little group, talking in hushed tones and punctuating
their talk with suppressed laughter.
By the time Whitney Barnes did turn to Marietta that young lady's
nose was elevated to an excruciating angleso much so that she was
unable to fulfill her desire to sniff. There was cold hauteur in her
stare as she met the smile of Whitney Barnes and replied to his query:
Yes, Mr. Barnes, your father is in and alone.
Thank you, Miss Featherington, cried the young man, gaily, and an
instant later the little party of four had vanished behind a mahogany
Joshua Barnes was bent over his desk writing, as the door opened
noiselessly and the four young people entered. When he looked up his
son, Travers Gladwin and Helen were lined up beside his chair, the two
young men smiling sheepishly and the girls blushing crimson and looking
down at the floor.
Hello, Pater, opened Whitney Barnes, you remember Travers
Gladwin. This is Mrs. Gladwin, a bride of sixty-seven minutes!
Old Grim Barnes was on his feet in an instant with a gallant bow to
Helen and a hearty handshake for the bridegroom.
For a second or two he failed to descry Sadie, who, as per
rehearsal, was hidden behind the two young men. As, with a look of
surprise, he spied her, Helen drew Sadie to her and managed to stammer:
And this is my cousin Sadie, Mr. Barnes.
Sadie dropped a timid courtesy, her face on fire.
How do you do, Misser
Joshua Barnes was feasting his eyes on Sadie's shy beauty and
I didn't catch the name, he added, turning to Helen.
B-b-b, she began, when Whitney Barnes came to her rescue.
Barnes, paterMrs. Sadie; that is, Mrs. Whitney Barnesa bride of
Whitney Barnes beamed upon his father and put his arm about the old
gentleman's shoulders to support him.
How do you like my choice, dad?isn't she a darling? Why don't you
ask to kiss the bride?
Joshua Barnes breathed with difficulty for a moment and his eyes
blinked. Slowly he looked for confirmation in the faces of the newlywed
Gladwins, and when they both nodded and smiled, he returned his glance
to Sadie, who had turned very pale and was beginning to tremble.
The mustard king shook off his son's arm and gathered Sadie to him
with a bear hug.
He kissed her ten times in succession and then let her down in his
chair and patted her shoulder. Joshua Barnes was so happy that tears
glistened in his eyes. He continued to look at Sadie for a long moment
before he turned to his son and gulped:
Whitney Barnes, you scoundrelhave you been keeping this from me?
Why no, dad, came the laughing answer. I telephoned you about it
last night, and you called me
For the first time in my life I made a mistake, Whitney Barnes,
his father checked him, and you both have my blessing a
thousandfoldprovided you will take me in as a boarder.
Done! exclaimed Whitney Barnes.