|Chapter Title||IN DANGER.|
|Newspaper Title||Euroa Advertiser (Vic. : 1884 - 1920)|
|Trove Title||Written in Red; Or, The Conspiracy in the North Case. A Story of Boston|
WRITTEN IN RED; On, THE CONSPIRACY DL THE NORTH CASE.* A STORY OF BOSTON. Br Cass. sMO?waoua AND C. W. Dyts. CHAPTER XI.--Lc DB.nmn. ReporterThomas had no time to construct theories to account for what had happened. For whatever reason, Stella North was the woman he had unwittingly followed, and Stella North was the woman who now lay in his arms, as devoid of life to all appearances, as the twigs upon which her dainty feet were dragging. He looked into her face for the moment with helpless irresolution. Thedictates of common humanity would have impelled him to pityher, but it was no ordinary pity that filled his soul on this occasion. He had been aware ever since the day she flashed upon him that appealing glance as her sister was leading her from the room at Swampscott of a peculiar interest more romantic and tender, perhaps, than he as a matter-of-fact-man was free to admit to himself. But the present emergency demanded prompt action. He could see plainly enough that it was not merely fright that had caused her to lose consciousness. Nature had bestowed upon her a face charming in its natural roundness of outline and reedy always to break into dimpled smiles; but, alas! horror and deprivation of sleepand food had wrought a wicked change in a few days. As shelay with her head thrown back, her lips parted, her eyes closed, her hair straying recklesstlyabout her temples, she looked as if she had just died after a painful illness. Thomas hastened with her out of the sight of possible curiosity. A few steps brought him deep enough into a projecting wood that fringed thereadside, and here, in the leaves beneath the trees where the birds were singing, he laid her gently down. His experience in the art of restoring fainting women to con sciousness had been extremely limited, but he believed in the eflicaciousness of alcohol, and always carried when travelling for use in an emergency a flask of brandy. A little of this strong remedy poured down tie throat half. strangled the victim, but it awoke hier. Her eyes opened and she regarded him languidly. He had seen a dying bird look just that way. " Come, Miss North, you feel better now, don't you I" he said awkwardly, as he sup ported her head upon his arm. And then when a sudden betraval of fear and shame surged into her white cheeks he hastened to add "' There, now, there's nothing to be afraid of. Not the least in the world." She made an effort to disengage herself and to arise, but she was very weak, and she only sank back again with a pathetic sigh. The tears came into her eyes at once, and she was unableto conceal her weakness or to check it. Faster and faster they chasedeach other down her ch.eeks. Her face was wet with them. Tiomas watched her with increasing con sternation. He whohad time and again passed, apparently unmoved, through the most terrible and heartrending of scenes, had now to make a great effort to retain control of himself. But as a matter of fact it is improbable that the girl detected any evidences of agitation in his naturally imperturbable countenance. " Come, Miss North," le murmured, " this will never do. You must not give way lihke this. Don't despair. It there is anything wrong, you may depend upon me to help you all I can." " Oh, it's not I who need the help," she moaned. quite light-headed by reason of her long sufferings; and grasping his sleeve with her little hasd she exclaimied with sudden, passionate intensity, "Oh, don't let them arrest her. Don't let them hang her. Marion never could have done it in her right mind. She was ou of her head, vou know. You are sure she was, are you not'" This unexpected entreaty was a surprise, but it was a most welcome one to Thomas. He had not had an opportunity for deliberate thought since he had recognised who it was that had thrown away the uncompromising weapon with the suspicious smeudge upon it, and fled from the North villa in the most damaging of circumstances; but in a vague, general way his heart had been conscious of the weight of the accepted theory tha-t she 1-as in some way im plicated in the dark work of the tragedy. And now these wild, hysterical words, delivered under the pressure of her overstrung emotions, gave him more than a hope that she was inno cent of any part in the hideous crime. Innocent! How could anybody look upon this child and doubt her innocence? Reporter Thomas certainly could not, and he gave up trying to, with a feverish alacrity that was not entirely characteristic of him. Comrrehendin enough of the situation to onablo t?a- ?w intelligently, he began at oncea long attempt to soothe her. And behold another miracle! This stern man, whose stoicism was the wonder of his asscdates, had suddenly become as patient, as gentle, and as delicate as a woman. He smoothed her hair, he wiped away her tears. He induced ler to take a little more of the brandy. By repeatedly assuring her that her sister was in no danger, and afterwards, by turning her attention to other thins, he brought her once more into a condition of sanity. She was not permitted to test her strength upon her feet, but she sat up against a tree, and began to regard her companion with great, round, wistful eyes, with an air of mingled timidity and impulsive confidence. " And now, Miss North," said Thomas, at last, "it is absolutelynecessary that I should leave you for a few minutes. Will you promise me not to stir until l return ? I will be gone just as short a time as possible." " You are so kind," she said, faintly. " If it isfor me you are going I hope, really, you won't trouble yourself. In a few minutes I shall he stronger and can go on." "We'll talk about that after I come back," he said, cheerfully. " And meantime I have your promise not to stir ?" " Since you are so good I can refuse you nothing," she returned, wearily, and closedher eyes. Thomas was off at an energetic pace. He first tied his horse to a tree, and then ran on to the nearest farmhouse. A well-to-do-looking woman, with a sunny face, appeared at the door in answer to his knock. " Madam," said Thomas, hastily, "I have to apologise for my unexpected call, but, the faist is, I am in great need of food-the bestyou have and plenty of it. I'll pay-anything. Only let me have it at once." "But I can't," said the woman ; "I haven't a thing in the house to eat !" " But I must have something," exclaimed Thomas ; "if it's nothinr but milk and water. The case is very argent. Here, do what you can for me." He thrust a five-dollar bill into the good woman's hand. She thrust it back promptly. " Here, I don't want your money," she sid, rather stiffly. "LSuch as I have you're welcometo. Come in." She led the astonished Thomas into an ample "b bypecial arngement with iessra.
pantry, which was in a eondition of neatness that was almost painfaul. But it needed no power of divination to determine that it was the pride of the good woman's life, and the shelves fairly groaned with good things. Not a thing in the house to eat! Thomas was dumb with delighted amazement. "Well," said the housewife, evidently enjoy ing the condition of stupefaction to which she had seduced him, "do you see anything you'd like ? If so, you're welcome." "The-the fact is," stammered Thomas, "I wish you'd let me pay for it. I-I-you see I might carry away a httle more tlhan l'd like to; for the fact i. I've got a fijend just back here in the woods, and she-he's starving to death." The woman laughed outright. Of couso, she did not believe that anybody was dying in this land of plenty. The best Thomas could do was to effect a compromise. The woman accepted "a dollar for the heathen." Thomas took away all he could well carry. As the reporter approached the place where he had left Stella North, he began to have some fears that she had deserted him in spite of her promise; but no. There she was, still sitting against the tree, as he had lefther. No, not as he had lefther. Completely exhausted, she had fallen asleep. Thomas placed his bundles upou the ground, and softly arranged the repasthe had secured from the fanrmhouso upon aO lht robe he had takenifrom the carriage. - i'om the obowlof fresh milk to the golden brown custard pie, it was genuine and wholesome; and though he would fain have had Young's chief cook at his command for an hour or two, still he hoped that she could not fail to find the display at tractive and appetising. But he he hesitated to awaken her. The poor child slept as only one utterly worn out can sleep, lie looked at her more attentively, and his heart accelerated its pulsations. "What a pity," he thought, "that she should be so comprisingly mixedup in such an affair as this ! Young and charmng as she is, if the police knew what I know they would not hesitate a minute to arrest her." The thought clouded his brow. He looked at his watch. It was getting late. Unless he proposed to turn her over to the police, in truth, time sressed. " Ahem !' he exclaimed. "Miss North ." But her sleep was too deep to be disturbedhy such an expedient. He placed his hand gently upon her shoulder; and a thrill ran through him at the contact. She started up and stared wildly about her. Gradually the truth came to her. She awoke from a happy oblivion to the horror of the past few days. The sudden frightened look in her face proclaimed this fact. And then her eyes wandered from the reporter's face to tie collation spread at her feet. " For me !" she exclaimed. " Oh!-" But nothing but tears bespoke her thanks. She was evidently ashamed to betray herself so; but she was too weak to prevent it. She covered her face with her hands and sank down at the foot of the tree. " You'll think me foolish, I know," she stammered. Not a bit of it," said Thomas. "I think your nerves are quite unstrung, because you haven't taken nourishment enough. Eat something, Miss North, I beg of you; and, my word for it, you'll feel better." Dy dint of much persuasion and adroit management he reassured her, so that she actually smiled the very ghost of asmile, but it betrayed the presence of a merry dimple in her cheek, which Thomas thought quite charm. ' Slow can I thank you ?" she murmured. " By eating all you can,'' he returned. And she did endeavour to show her gratitude in that way. From time to time she looked at him with a glance of dread and apprehension. "You are not afraid of me, miss North, I hope ?" he said at last, pleasantly. He was smiling now, as he sat on a rock near by watching her eat, which she did with that ravenous appetite that comes of absolute starvation. " Excuse me," she said, after an evident effort, "but you are the same gentleman who called at our house-who used to know my father ?" Thomas flushed a little and Ihis eyes fell. " Miss North," he said, "I don't intend to deceive you. I am a newspaper reporter." She uttered a slight scream and dropped her knife and fork into her plate. At another time Thomas would have laughed aloud at the un mistakable consternation produced by the an nouncemeutof his profession. As it was, he reoressed his tendency to smile when lie saw her lips whiten under the cruel apprehension that had sprung to life within her. " You mistrust me, Miss North," he said, gravely. "Oh, no," she returned, in a voice barely audible. And added immediately, "For pity's sake, sir, do you intend to print what I told you when I was so crazy awhile ago?" "Do I, Miss North? It depends upon whether or not you go on with your dinner." "Oh, how can you joke about a thing like this ?" '"Miss North, I am not joking. I never was more serious in my life. It is absolutely im perative that you eat." The poor girl tried to propitiate him by swallowing a few hasty mouthfuls, but it was evident thathe had taken her appetite away. She regarded him with a look of pathetic appenl. "Oh, sir," she exclaimed suddenly, "I am only a poor girl, and chance has placed me comp;letely at your mercy. Don't tor ment me, I beseech you. Tell sme the worst at once. What do you intend to do with mue ?" " To save you," auswered Thomas. "To save me?" she repeated helplessly. " From what ?" " From the consequences of your conduct." " Mine!" she exclaimed. " What do you mean ? I have done nothing." " Pardon me," said Thomas. " You forget the pistol which you threw away, and your flight from home." She stared at him for a long time like a statue. " And you believe-" she began at last, with an awful lcok in her face. "I believe nothing," he interrupted, "so much as I believe you, Miss North. It is not a question of me, but of the police." '" The police-police !" she stammered. "MissNorth," said Thomas, "Iwouldnot frighten you needlessly, but I feel compelled to tell you that you have placed yourself, in the eyes of the law, in a very equivocal position. Unless you can give a full explanation of your conduct-" " Oh, sir," she broke in, " I can tell the police nothing-absolutely nothing." She wrung her hands and looked about her apprehensively. It's not because I am guilty of anything oh, sir, you know that! DBut I cannot say whatI have thought, whlat I have been com pelled to believe in spite of myself. I have said things to youalready, when I didnot realiso what I was dotug, which I never meant to have .psut a to a?-.,m beinome. And you-on your nonour, ir !--hwon't youP-eep--my, secret '" "I will do everything I can for your sister, for your sake," said Thomas. "DBut I must sk you one question. What reason had you to believe her guilty ?" "I do not believe it. No, I will not ac knowledge that I ever really believed it. But for one moment, when her strange actions seemed unaccountable upon any other supposi tion, I--but it was a mistake, sir. I am sure of it. She could explain everything if she would." "There, there!" said Thomas, soothingly. "D'on'tget excited. ouare assafe withme as you could possibly be with any one. I simply wanted to have the assurance from your lips that you are unaware of the fact of any eme." "Oh, believe me, sir." "I do, Miss North. I believe you imolicitly, and I will do everything in my power to help you." "You are very noble sir." "You flatter me," said Thomas, averting his eyes. "I have sisters of my own, and-" The girl clasped her hands. "~ And for their shkes--' "No, for your sake," said Tihomas, turning quickly to look towards the road. -"'u spoke o that dreadful pistol, sir!" she cried, suddenly. "Tell me how you "I saw you, Iiss o orlh." "And the pistol is-" "In my pocket." She stretched out her hands impulsively, while a wild light of hope lighted in her face. " Give it to me," she exclaimed. "Forgive me," said Thsmas, "but I must refuse you that. Believe me, it pains me to be obliged to refuse you anything." "You--won't give it to me," she faltered. "And what, then;, do you propose to do with. it?" . . "I will be frank with you now as ever, 7Miss sorth," he said, in a low voice. "I intend to give it to the police." She swayed, but his armprovented her from "Come! come!" he exclaimcd, in a quick whisper, as for the moment he held her close to hssmpsdly-beating heart. "Be a woman I Do yourdutyas I shal domine ! Ihavepromleed you my protection r-my utmost effort or behalf
of yourself and your sister. Miss North, will you trust me?" Impulsively she brought her face very near to his and turned the light of her blue eyes full into his dark ones. It was an intense, fearful, searching stare; a look such as one might cast into the future at a fork in the road of life be tweenlasting happiness anddespair. His gaze never faltered, but hers did. She blushed, suddenly became self-conscious, and precipi tately looked down at the ground. " I will," she murmured, faintly. "You are inl imminent danger," he said, hastily. "Thereis no time to lose. Follow me." And s he turned from her she obeyed him with the trusting confidence of a little child. CHAPTER XII.-TsoLAsDECL.XE.s TO STATE TnEonRIE. About ten o'clock on Monday morning a tele phonic message came over the wires from the chief of police at Lynn to the Boston police head. quarters which seriously interfered with the habitual imperturbability of Inspector Apple. bee. "Whatever does this signify?" he demanded of the chief inspector. "That youngest North girl has disappeared." "i !" exclaimed his superior, in a tone of surprise. "How can that be?" "I don't know how it can be; it is,'". Applebee declared; "She left the house some time last evening; 'They did not discover her absence till this morning.-:: A hurried search:df, the' noighbourhood traces herto?-the'railroad station where she took: the last train: for Boston." "- ' "That's a queer family, anyhow," com. mented the chief inspector, with a very puzzled air. "Applebee, have you tried to ascertain whether there isn't insanity in the blood?" "Plague take it! What was I thinking of not to have put a man to watch her last night? I thought of it, but it seemed an absurd pre caution!" fumed the inspector. "However, her flight the minute the funeral is over does away with any lingering doubt I may have had of her complicity in the crime." "Better put White on her track at once. Then see me and let us have a word or two." Inspector White having been despatched to the Eastern depSt with instructions to find the fugitive at any cost, Inspector Applebee re turned to the private office of his superior. The chief carefully closed the door, " Applebee," he said, as he resumed his chair, "if I:understand you definitely, there is nobody, so far as known; who benefits a cent by North's death except his daughter Stella?" "Exactly inspector. Youaretounderstand just that. There is not the slightest indication of robbery or theft. Both the property in the house and the personal property on North's person were intact. Nobody benefits but this girl. Just two months ago he took out a 10,000dol. policy in her favour in the Penn Mutual." "And are 3ou sure he has effected no other insuranceo ?" "I cannot find that he has, or that he ever did." "Isn't it rather peculiar that he waited all these years and then made her his sole benefi. ciarv in this way ?" "I don't know. His other daughter is mar ried, and he probably considered her amply provided for, and the outlook of business affairs might have warned him that it would be pru dent to heave over an anchor to the windward. But, whatever his reasons, the fact is indis putable. There it is, in black and white. The woman who uses the perfume I have been look ing for is the sole person to profit by Paul North's death. It is a curious coincidence, to say the least, that the two clues should implicate the same person. And yet a seventeen-year old girl like this-oh, I can't believe it; that's all." "Applebee," said the chief, "I begin to realise that we are in a very delicate position in this matter. It calls for our nicest discrimina tionand judgment." " I should say as much." "Let us see what we know. We have established circumstantially beyond a reason able doubt the identity of the woman who was in the Marlboro street house at or after the time of North's death; the woman who, to say the least of it, must be an accessory after the fact." " So, indeed." "Instead of some adventuress, the woman turns out to be North's own daughlter, a mild faced, innocent-looking girl of seventeen." "So, indeed." "Well, now, to my mind, unless the girl is crazy (and we have no evidence that she is), she never could have shot her father." it " It's a pretty serious thing to charge her with "You don't believe it ?" " I'm hardly prepared to dispute the evi dence." "Very well, then, there is only one explana tion. She knows who did it, and she runs away to avoid questions." "It looks so." " And as she never could reconcile her con science to such action unlessthe guilty party were very near or very dear to her-" "Stackhouse again!" said Applebee, signifl. cantly. "There's no way out of it. Unless something turns upin his favour, I've got to arrest that man." "It looks so. But I shouldn't like to make a mistake." "Nor I. It's not like taking some poor beast into custody. A mistake like that only redounds to our discredit." " Yery well. Wait a day or two. Something more must come out. Let us find this girl. It won't take much to frighten her thoroughly. She will tell us everything she knows.' Mean while, you a re e Stackhouse cannot take French leave?" "Trust mefor that. M'Mannus and Robbins are both keeping their eyes upon him. So long as he behaves himself he may do as he ileases. At the first cause for suspicion they will bring him in." There was a knock at the door. "Mr. Mendell," said the messenger, "to see Mr. Applebee." "It's the writing expert," said Applebee. "' Send him in."' Mr. Mendell appeared, bearing under his arm a small portfolio. " Good morning, gentlemen," was his greet ing. "And what do you think of the news? No surprise to you. I suppose ?" "What news?" questioned the chief in soector gruffly. - "Why, the collapse of North and Stack. house, to be sure. WVhat, hadn't you heard?" The two officials were staring at each other. " Where did you hear that, MIendell?" Applebee asked. " Where? Everywhere. It's all over town. Of course, circumstances make everybody talk about it. All sorts of rumours are afloat as to the cause of it. Some say it wouldn't have occurred but for North's death. Others say it had got to come anyway-that it was only a matter of time. But,plalgue take it! that woasn't what I came for." "What do they say's the cause of the firm failing?" asked the chief inspector, with every appearance of intense interest. " Vell, asI hear it, they'vebeen doing husi. smashup. They say Fetridge, t'e'young-mno lionaire, was a eonsiderablo loser. In fact, they say all sorts :of things, as they always do at such times, but I don't knon" how true they arc." ""W'ho is this Fetridge?" the chief inspector inquired of Applebee, as if the name were new to him. "Why, he's the man who came here to get us to search the house in Marlboro street last Thursday. A friend of the family, I believe. At any rate, he was at the funeral." "And what are the rumours, Mendell?" pursued the chief inspector. " About Fetridge? Well, it's reported that he's held the firm up by the nape of the neck, as it were, until North's death, out of regard for the old man; but that Stackhouse tried to see him since and got the cold shoulder. They ay that Slaekhouse and Fetridge are anything " Quite so," said Applebee. "But; turning from gossip to business, what's your report ?" "~Well, gentlemen," returned Mendeli, briskly opemng his portfolio and extracting therefrom several papers, "I don't know that I can help you a great deal, but I'm satisfied of one thing. Out of all the specimens of writing which Jobson presented for my inspec tion, there are not fise which could have been done by the party whopreparedthe anonymous letter." ' There are four, then ?" said Applebee. "aJust," returned Mendcll, spreading the samples upon the table; "and there you have them2" " And how about your preference ?'" : "Ihavenone. You see the writing of the original is too shaky tobe a good guide. It is evidently a disguised hand, but at the same time not disguised by a person who understood how to disguise handwriting. Evidently when hehad written it he thought, because it didn't have the general appearance, to his own eye, of his own writing, it was consequently sunffimently blind to deceive anybody. I don't believe the peculiarity of the formation of the letters ever occurred to the person." " Who are these purties?"' "Three of them are business men. The fourth was formerly a clerk in the firm's employ, but was discharged, I believe, for drunkenness." "Pahaw!" said Applebee. "Iknow these
three men. They're nione of them in need of money. and would not have taken that means to get it if they had been." "It remains, then. with this other fellow Willard Smith-eh?"' said the chief inspector. " What do you know of this man's history?" "Nothing but the few words that Jobson ac cidentally let fall," replied the expert. "He said that the man was young and industrious. That he invested every cent in Nicaragua Mid land, lost his money, and took to rum as a con. solation." "Tliat's our man," said the chief inspector, positively. "Applebee, let's go to work on this at once." There was no time lost. Inspector Applebee and his assistants were soon scouring the city for information conceraing Ir. WVillard Smith, late clerk with North and Stackisouse. But the quest presented some unexpected difliculties and wheni Tueidaymoruing came it had not yet achieved success. " Appletee was scarcely awake Tn6?Tauesday morning when the following telegram.: was placed inhis hands "HaarronD, Conn., 6 a.m. ' Important! Meet me at headquarters at 11. "Does he bring Stella North with himl" was the grave question that persisted in Applebee's mind during. the intervening time. "If so I am conident that we are nearmg the end of this perplexing case.?' I-o oommusoated. his .anxi.ty- .e.Uin5tlef, inspector; and both meawalted with impatience the cominung of the man who had gone m quest of the mysterious fugitive. Alas, for their hopes ! Inspector White was quite alone. The three men were closeted together as soon as he arrived. "Not a trace of her?" exclaimed Applebee, impatiently. "Sli pedthrough my fingers like a fish!" said V hite. " Circumstances very peculiar. Whole thing mysterious: more than mysterious -suspicious." " How do you mean ?" White placed his hand impressively on Applebee's shoulder, and though the door was shut, spoke in almost a whisper "I tell you, man, it is one of two things. That girl's either made away with herself or she's had help to escape." "It's likely enough that she had help to escape," observed the chief. "But I know of no goad reason why she should go outside of the State of Massachusette for the. purpose of committing suicide." 1 "Wait till you have heard ie," iald White, eagerly. ."Observe the facts carefully. I traced 'this girl to 'the Albany: 'depOt, and through the hacskman, who bbught her ticket to Hartford, was able to go direct to her stopping place. There I expected trouble. Not a bit of it. Everybody knew about her. Why! Well, I'll tell you why. Somebody had got ahead of us; that's all. A black-haired young man, about thirty ?ears of age who wrote his name William V. Witerston, had been up in the morning making inquiries all ever the place, representing her as insane." "Evidently an assumed name," muttered Applebee, apprehensively. "Couldn't you get a full description ' "You may be sure I did, even to the cut of his shoes. But wait a bit. I haven't gottothe end.' This young mn hired a carriage at East Hartford and started out upon the road in chase of the girl. That he overtook her I have positive evidence. That she thereafter disappeared, and that he went on alone, I'm equally well informed." "What'r" ejaculated Applebee. t"Just as I tell you," said White. "I traced this woman to a certain place on the road between Hartford and Buckland. Abruptly all trace of her disappears. She is seen in con rersation with this man, and not again by anybody in either direction. Meanwhile the man kept on alone. He was seen by several people by himself in the carriage. He drove clear to Vernon, sent the carriage back to East Hartford by a messenger, and there he disap. pears too." "Great powers !" exclaimed the chief. " We're outwitted." " For the time it would seem so." "For the time!" echoed the chief irascibly. "Don't you see what this means? The girl was a greenhorn. The man was an expert. I'll bet you a hundred dollars he had that girl all the timein the bottom of his carriage. Why didn't he go back to Hartford t Can't you see his purpose! The New York and New Eng and railroads run through Vernon. By this this time both principal and accomplice are safe in the city of New York." The two assistants stared blankly. " At any rate," said Applebee, "it plainly demonstrates one thing. We're dealing with professionals." : "Professional whatr" asked the chief, angrily. "What is there in the line of a professional about this affair? Was there any theft, any property missing? This isn't a burglary, my friend; it's a murder." "So, indeed," said Applebee. "But pro fessionals have been hired before now to do a tob of that kind. It's no use for you to tell me that this chap doesn't know the ropes, inspector." TIhe chief seemed struck by his remark, and became thoughtful. "'Write out the fullest possible description of the man,"' he said to White. "We'll see what we can do; though I'm afraid we've botched it." Inspector White took out his notes and, seating himself at the table, began immediately to comply with the request. In the midst of the work a messenger ventured to bring a card to the door. "Humph," said the chief, "Kingman V. Thomas, of the Boston Globe, is here, and he says that his Lusiness is important and im mediate." " Let him come in, then," advised Applebee. "I tell you that man cut his eye teeth years ago. If he says important he means impor tant." The chief gave a sign of acquiescence, and shortly after the door opened to admit Mr. Kingman V. Thomas. Quietly dignified, and' entirely master of himself, as upon all occasions, the reporter cast a quick.glance upon the group. Without a word he advanced to the table, inserted his hand in his breast, took therefrom something enwrapped in a news paper, and laid it down before the chief inspector. " What is it, Thomas ?" queried Applebee, curiously. "' Look at it," returned the reporter, briefly. The chief undid the wrapping and took out on old-faEhioned 32-calibre, four-barrelled, breech-loading pistil, about eight inches in length, and stained with rust in several places. Everybody started and looked eagerly from the weavon to the serious face of the man who had brought it. "It is just as I found it," he said, quietly, " with the exception of the rdst. I took it out of the water, and I didn't care to wipe it much, for fear of destroying the smut on that empty barrel." " Well," said the chief, with an assumption of indifference, ' why do you bring it here ?" "I considered it my duty to do so, sir." " To be sure; but what makes you think so ? "I found it lb thedidv o mfindit? Swampscott." "Swampseott!" ejaculated Applebee, who began to examine the weapon with avidity. "lThe deuce you did! When ?" "Sunday night, about nine o'clock;" "Sunday!" echoed the chief inspector, sharply, "andit is now Tuesday morning. You were evidently in no haste." "I went out of town by a very early trainon onday. Thisistho first opportunity I have had, gentlemen." "ow came you to be wading in the water atSwampscott after dark, Thomas?" ques tioned Applebee. "Well, sir, it won't take me long to tell yon what little I know about the matter. I stipu nlate but one thing. This must not be given to the press. You agreeP Very well. I was pasung the North villa when I saw a woman envelopedin a lon" cloak stealing out of the garden. I followe her, deeming her appear ance suspicious. She went towards the shore, and I thought I saw her throw something into the water. Waiting till she had gone, I waded out and found this. Iran up the street, hoping to catch her, but missed thelast train in. She seehs to have been in betterluck." The three inspectors exchanged significant glances. "And you didn't seeher face, Thomas'" Applbhe eagerly inquired. S"And you have no idea who she is P?" Thomas hesitated a moment before re "I don't know tnat care to state theories. You have enough of your own." " Well, Mr. Thomas," said the chief at last, " Ithink you are entitled to our most sincere thanks for important evidence in the North case. Still, in matters of this kind, delays are dangerous. It does seem as if you might have found some way to getthis to us before this." "I preferred to deliver it in person," said Thomas, quiet. "I nover take any chances "You prefer to be slow but sure, I sup ose," sanid the chief, smiling. " WVell, Apple ee, here it is. It won't take you long to verify your suspicions about it." "I rather suspect that Thomas has already done that," Applecbre said.
" I took that liberty, yes," agreed the re porter. "To whom did you take it?"' "To Comfort Harwood, Swampscott." S"When ?" " This morning-the first opportunity I have had." . / " And what did she say ?" "She positively identified it as the property of thelate Paul North." This appeared to be the extent of Thomas's information. When he went out, White said with a smile: "Bless me if that man wouldn't stand as a model for this description I am writing." "Eh !"exclaimed the chief inspector, turn. tin suddenly in his chair. "Applebee, watch that man !" "What P Thomas " cried the subordinate, in amused amazement. "That same Thomas," said the chief, drily; "unless you want the newspapers to get ahead of us in this matter. For I toll you that man knows more than he has told us." (To Ba corrnrrTn.)