1 heCase Bookofa PrivateDetectiv e
Tree Narratives of Interesting Cases by a Fonaer
Operative of the William J. Burns Detective Atfeacy
By DAVID COKMtLL
(Oopjrtlht bj the Interactional Prwt RiinwJ
THE HANDWRITING I
ON THE WALL
The Cass of the Anonymoua Letter
Writer of Philadelphia
Tho reason for the prevalence of
tho anonymous letter writing ovll Is
tiecauso of tho apparent safety of tho
perflon guilty of this nuisance. A man
of tho anonymous letter writing typo
has an enemy, lie Is nfrald to faco
' him In tho open, hut ho wants to hurt
hltn. What easier or what more safo
appnrently than to write an tin-
' signed letter containing Information,
alleged or real, or slander, which Is
certain to cause tho nssallcd person
harm, or at least considerable annoy-
, Thoro la a certain type of cowardly
'&& person to whom the anonymous loiter
Z appeals as docs tho ongeful stiletto to
the vicious blackhnnd criminal. It Is
a means to harm, and apparently a
safe one. What easier than to wrlto
a few lines In a disguised hand? Or
on a typowrtter? How can anybody
traco a letter prepared In such a wny
and dropped In tho mall box by stealth
and In the dark of night? Truo, ad
mits tho letter writer to himself or
heruelf, for women aro numerous
among this clement, such letters have
been traced and their authors caught.
But, reasons tho Intending writer, they
did not tnko tho necessary precautions
to hldo their tracks. It looks like a
olnch. It looks safo. But it Isn't.
Any crlmo or mlBdcnieanor that will
placo' In tho hands of n trained de
tectlvo a pleco of writing, pen or type
writer, or n pleco of printing, or, in
fact, nny physical traco of n person's
expression, Ib tho least safo sort of
wrongdoing In tho world. No sort of
wrongdoing Is safo, of course, but tho
kind that loaves a traco of a perbon's
Identity In the hands of tho men who
get on tho track Is tho kind most cer
tain to ho run down eventually.
This does not mean that It usually
. b a cinch for tho detective to rim
down tho average anonymous letter
' On tho contrary It Is usually vory
hard, for tho wrongdoer Invariably
has taken a multttudo of precautions
to throw his followers off the track.
f. mm Uul iLt Mill ) llmt f.ie dGTeCtlvfe- lias
" In the letter a tangible clue to follow,
and In tho end It Is practically certain
"" that tho writer will be caught.
My first experience with an anony
nous letter wrltor come about In queor
fashion. Ono duy a young man, who
looked tho part of tho bookkeeper
that we afterwurds found hlra to bo,
camo Into tho New York office of tho
Duma agency and planked down throo
anonymous letters that ho had receiv
ed during tho past few weeks. Horo
Is ono of thorn that gives tho gist of
.' the thrco missives:
c "Dear Sir:
"You will novcr know who this let
ter comes from, but you may bo as-
j aured that It la from a friend. You
bavo a friend named Carlln, who Is
treasurer for tho Blank Heating com
pany. It you will spend more tlmo In
Carlln'a company we will reward you
In a mnnnor that will surprise you, on
the condition that you let no ono know
, that you over received this letter. Es
pecially do not let Carlln know."
1 Tho narao of the man who brought
tho lotters In was Blake. Ho had come
i to us for advice.
"Wo nron't giving away advice,"
aald the office manager. "If you want
' us to find who wrote those letters to
you and why they wero written, we'll
bo glad to glvo you a man for $8 a
day and expenses. It may take some
tlmo to find the writer, so your bill
probably would run up pretty high."
' "Oh, I couldn't afford to hlro a de
tective." said Blake.
"I thought not," eald tho manager,
And there the case ended for the tlmo
Three months later, almost to a day,
we got a call from a business house
In a large nearby city to send a man
over there at onco. I happened to got
the case. I found my people to bo the
Continental Heating company. Tho
name of the general manager was
. Haney. I didn't like him from the
j "Mr. Cornell," said Haney, when I
J had Introduced myself, "I'm glad to seo
J rou, glad to seo you, Indeed. Wo've
' got a little matter bore In this' office,
a queer matter, that we cau't qulto
understand. We thought we had bet
ter hnve a detective In to look the
"What Is It?" I asked.
For answer he turned to his desk
and drew out three letters and band
ed them to me.
v "Those letters, Mr. Cornell, havo
.. ' been received In this office In the last
" , two weeks," said Haney. "Take a
good look at them."
I did. The lotters wero simply ad
dressed "Dear Sir," without the name
of tho firm being mentioned. They
were all about In tho samo tone. Hero
Is a samplo:
"You nro trying to land the contract
for heating the flvo new school build
ings. Wo know all about It. You
hnvo made the lowest bid. You don't
know that, because you're on the out
side. Wo know, becauso we're on the
inside. Yes, your bid la the lowest
that has been turned In. Wo don't
mind telling you that. It won't do you
any good. You think that will land
ou the contract. Well, wo don't mind
telling you that It won't. Tho figures
In the bids don't settlo this contract
by a long sight. Wo settlo It. You
know who we nro. Now, the reason
wo write thin to you Is this: Come
"That's what will land you this con
tract, If you do land It, Como across.
Como ncross strong. Show us that
you're right, and wo'll show you that
wo'ro right Show us that you'ro not
right and good-by contract for jou.
You know who wo aro and you know
how to get to us."
The letter ended abruptly. It wasn't
signed, The other letters ran along
In about tho samo strain, tho third ono
being much In tho nature of u threat,
nnd assuring the firm that It hnd no
chanco In the world of landing this
heating contract that It wanted so bad
ly unless It began to show that "It was
right" within tho next weok.
"I got that Inst letter yesterdoy,"
said Haney. "That week will bu gone
In flvo das. And wo certainly do
want that contract."
"Do jou know who wrote tho let
ters?" 1 asked, bluntly.
Ho looked at me In amazement.
"Know?" ho aald. "What do you
think I am?" Do you suppose I'd bo
paying jour agency $8 n day Hnd ex
penses If I knew who wroto those let
ters?" "Hurdly," I said. "Do you know
who Is rcsponslblo for their being
Haney looked nt mo a llttlo longer
this tlmo without speaking.
"No." ho eald. "No."
"But jou could make, n pretty close
guess, couldn't you?" I went on.
"Yes," ho said. "I could."
"Sure," I said. "Thcro wouldn't be
any sense to these fellows writing the
lotters If you couldn't. I supposo It's
n bunch of grnftlng politicians who are
trying to hold you up, Isn't It?"
Ho gave, me a look which was an
undisguised attempt to rend my
"Yes," ho said, "that's what we
'think, of course. That la what I and
Mr. Gorvor, the president of the com
pany, havo agreed upon nB tho truth."
"Clnrvcr?" I said. "I haven't met
him yet, havo I?"
"Mr. Oarver Is president nnd owner
of this company," said Haney. "He'a
nn old man. I attend to all this sort
"Doesn't ho want to bo in on this
conference?" I said.
"No," said Honey.
I thought It over a llttlo.
"Well,'.' I said. "I want him to bo
"What?" Hanoy began to got n llt
"It's a rule of our oOlco," I explain
ed. Haney leaned back, mollified.
"Oh," he said. "If that's tho case, all
right. Mr. Carver doesn't llko to trou
bio with such details, but If you In
sist" "I do."
"Then we can go Into his private
We went In, Qarver was an old
man, as Haney had said. Ho was over
soventy and was In poor health. His
mind was quite as clear as It should
be, but as I buw him and Haney to
gether tho contrast struck mo too for
cibly to be lost. Oarver was the line
type of honorablo business man who
has built up his success by virtue of
the excellence of his products and
sqiiaro dealing, and who was more fre
quently mot a couplo of decades ago
tnan In this ago. Haney was tho typo
who forces his way to tho top by bull
dozing and unscrupulous conduct.
Qarver would rathor loso business
than sacrifice his self respect by a
dishonorable action. Haney would get
the money anyway so long as ho could
keep out of Jail.
"Well, Mr. Cornell," said Qarver
courteously, "It looks as It the Con
tinental Heating company would have
to resort to bribery to get a much-desired
contract, doesn't It? I dislike to
do It, very much, but It Is extremoly
nocessary that we get this school con
tract. I am sorry to havo to ruy a
brlbo to unscrupulous politicians. I
would not do so except to beat a com
pany that wants to put nn Inferior
heating plant Into our schools. I lm o
a largo amount of prldo In my own
city, Mr. Cornell, and I want to get
my heating plant which Is a good
honest ono Into the schools. I am
afraid we will bavo to appease certain
politicians with ft good-sized bribe bo
fore this can be accomplished."
"Oh, I guess not," I said. "Wo'll
get this letter wrltor for you after
that your politicians won't bother
"I admire confidence, Mr. Cornell,"
he said. "But Mr. Haney Informs mo
that this thing Is sewed up too cloio
for comfort. The local ring nlready In
nictlatln with the Blank Heating
Company of New York. Mr. Haney has
had tholr treasurer, Mr. Carlln, watch
ed, and a certain young man named
Blake, who Is a clerk In the New York
office of one of our local politicians,
has been with htm constantly. They
are the people who want to put the In.
ferlor plant In our schools, and
through this envoy the politicians aro
In close touch with them, Jsn't that
tho situation, Mr. Hanoy?"
"Yes sir," said Haney. "This young
fellow has been hanging around Carlln
for tho last few weeks, so It's a cinch
they've got sotnothlng framed up. Tho
politicians nro trying to make us over
bid the other people's bribe."
"How much will tho brlbo bo?" I
"Mr. Haney Informs me that It will
take $10,000," replied Oarver.
("Oh!" said I to myself. "Mr. Haney
Informs you, does he? I begin to see
a little ray of light.")
"I still say," said I to Qarver, "that
wo will hnvo your letter writer In a
few days nnd that you won't havo to
brlbo your politicians." '
And out of the corner of my eye I
saw Haney smllo.
The next two days were busy ones
for mo nnd for Cluffer nnd Doheny of
tho Burns agency staff. I went back
to New Yorkr Cluffer and Doheny on
my wired request camo rushing to tho
place I had been working Cluffer
knew tho Ins and outs of tho political
ring In that city llko a book. Ho had
worked ou n couplo of city hall cases
(hero. Doheny hnd been brought up
In tho town and was chummy with half
a dozen of tho most powerful politi
cians of tho lower class, the kind who
would bo In on such a deal ns the,
school heating contracts ,
For two days Cluffer nnd Doheny
combed tho political corners of the
town. They smoked, and drank nnd
chummod with eorjbody they needed
In their business, from the king of tho
levee district, who was the biggest pol
itician there, to tho llttlo hangers-on
of husky ward-heelers. Then they
sprang their proposition.
wtntT time. The air gots bad, as I
"N w, as I say, we'vo been In on
ever: piece of city money that's been
spcnli but about this ono well, somo
of us have got kids of our own, and
we says, says we: 'Lot's let the kids
got decent nlr and heat;' and we snld:
'Hands off the heating contracts. Let
the people with the best plant get tho
job, nnd nothing doing for us' I'm
sorry, but we've decided to let thnt
Job go clean."
Cluffer wired me In Now York what
he had found. It was what I had
hot'ed nnd expected, because my
theory pointed that wny.
In tho moantlmo I hnd gone straight
to Blake. Ho had seen mo In tho
office when ho camo In with his anony
mous lotters three months before.
"Are you getting any of those lotters
nowadas?" I said.
He wns fidgety, and ho Hod and
"Then whj are you nssoclntlng with
Carlln so much lately?" I nsked.
"How do jou Know 1 am?" ho de
manded. "The mnii who wroto you tho letters
told mo so." I said.
His curiosity overcame him.
"Who Is he?" he snld. "Do jou
know, I'm worried half to death oer
tho thing It's perfectly crazy to mo.
Here a month ago tho letters begun
coming again, and n twenty-dollar bill
In each one, and n promlso that they'd
continue lr I'd only hang around Car
lln a lot 'Let jourrelf bo seen with
him,,' was tho cxpiesslon. What In the
deuce does It mean?"
"Knsy enough," I snld. "You work
In the New Yoik ollk'a of n limn who's
big In politics In this other city whero
the letters nro mailed, don't you?"
"And Carlln'a In tho heating busi
ness, Isn't ho?"
"And thore'H a big heating contract
to bo let In this other city. And tho
politicians thcro nlwnjs hnvo been no
torious fur grafting on ctcry Borl of
city contract, haven't they? Well,
then: here you are, working for one
of the politicians, and there Carlln Is,
In tho heating business, Now, If jou'ro
seen a lot with CArlln wouldn't any
body who know It decldo that jou
wero the go-between for tho polltlclnu
j-ou work for and Carlln, tho heating
"Perhaps," he snld. "Hut darn It,
man, I'm not. I haven't said a word
to Carlln; I hincu't been asked to.
There's nothing In It, man, nothing
hut the appearances."
"And thut's Just what your friend
who sends you the twenties Is after,"
said I. "He wants the appoarancos
to bo Just what they aro."
"But I'm not guilty of anything
"Cortalnly not, my boy; but you
como pretty near belug an Innocent
"But who's the man who sent mo
the letters?" asked Blake.
"Oh," I said, "I don't think you need,
to know. But I promise you this: you
won't get nny more letters or twen
ties, and you can stop being seen bo
much with Carlln."
And, In tho meantime I had been
atudrtn- the letter. - The ones thai
Blake hnd received, were In tho snme
hand that had penned tho ones that
came to the Continental Heating com
pany. They wero In a peculiar hand
After studying it for a while I saw thnt
It was tho looping, continuous hand of
n telegrapher. But It wasn't a goou?
egrapher'e hand; the letters wertf-JJsV
a trlflo shnkj'.
"Easy," I said to myself. "Find n
telegrapher who's on tho toboggan
from drink or dope."
I went back to the city whero tho
letters had been mailed, tho city
whero tho fight was on, and called on
tho heads of tho local telegraph com
pany and showed thoin the, hand writ
In nnd nsked If nny such man worked
Ho didn't. Thoy hnd fired him for
drunkenness soernl mouths before.
H04K11B nn old expert named Handy
who hnd gono tho whisky route
When jou hnvo n tnnn Identllled to
thnt extent It Inn t hard to find him.
Some of tho old telcgrnphcts In the
office know the particular lodging
houso whero Handy wns living Ho
hnd touched them nt Intervals for
Cluffer nnd I went to tho lodging
houso nnd found Handy lu bed, recov
ering from a torrlblo hpreo.
"I want j'ou to wrlto somo letters
for me, tho snmo kind jou'vo been
writing for my friend Hnney, of tho
Continental Heating company," 1 snld.
"Oct mo a drink, for Qod'B sako,"
said tho wrcrk. "I haven't got n
I got him something to steady his
nerves and set him to work. Ilo wroto
enough to show mo positively that
ho wiib my tnnn.
"How did Haney happen to get you
to wrlto his letters for hltn?" I nsked.
"Oh, I used lo know Haney before
tho boozo got mo," ho said. "I went
up to his o til co and tried to touch him.
Ho told mo ho'd pay mo for writing
somo letters for him, nnd I wrote them
for him nnd mailed 'cm, too, ns ho or
j dcred, Ain't nny trouble about It. la
"4-i ri ", r J vi r 7 H ., .
And ontof ifie corner of my eye Isaw Haney .smile
"We've got a cheap heating propo
sition wo want to get Into the schools,"
Ciuffor told tho big politician. "We
know that we can't compete with the
other flrma thnt are bidding on tho
Jobs; our plant won't Bland competi
tion It Isn't In their class. But wo'ro
right. Understand? Wo're ready to
come through big on UiIb proposition.
You and your friends cun got as nlco
h piece of change as you'ie seen In n
dog's ago It you'll see that wo get that
contract, and nothing said about tho
kind of plants we put In."
The big fellow crossed his hands
over his stomach and said:
"Now, I tell you, mo boj-, It's like
this about those school contracts.
We've made It ft habit hero mo and
tho other fellows who control the
votes to havo our linger In every bit
of city money that's been spent for
tho last ton years. We'vo been in on
It all. But about this Bcbool business,
y' know, we got to thinking about It
and tho first thing we knew wo dis
covered that tho health of tho llttlo
kids who go to school depends a whole
lot upon the heating nnd ventilation
system that goes into the rooms.
They get all sorts of things the matter
with them If tho beat ain't right In the
"Oh. no," I mid. "Not for jou"
I went to Mr. Gnrvor nnd saw hltn
nt his homo that night and placed my
oildvttco heforo him. It took mo four
mortal hours to convlnco him thnt hla
manager, Haney, hnd simply put up
a bluff about tho politicians wuntlng
to liulJ up tho firm that got tho school
heating contracts. I had to send Cluf
fer fli.d Doheny after tbo loveo king
and bring him up to Qarver'a houso
and get him to tell tho story about
how thu crooked politicians had decid
ed to let tho heating contracts alotiu.
I tilt when 1 had him convinced ho was
convinced all over.
Tho case never went to court. Gar
vor didn't wnnt any nowH that would
moutlon tho name of his town oven In
directly In a graft scandal to get he
foro the public. But tho manner In
which ho threw Hanoy out of his Job
broke that crook's nerve Qarver let
other people In tho healing business
know about Haney's awful crooked
ness, and Hnney beenmu a man
shunned. Ho tried to muko another
start, but his reputation had becomo
too black. Ho dropped down llttlo by
llttlo.aadnot long ago ono of our men
saw hlra In tho snme lodging house
thnt still held hla old friend Handy.
- '" '
I Man and iH
I the Bird f H
Man's conquest of space by heavier- H
than-nlr machines and his difficulties H
In controlling his mechanisms In vary- H
Ing currents and eddies havo nnturnl H
ly aroused Interest In tho doings of H
his most easily-studied prototypes H
tho birds Although a bird Is fnr 1:t- H
ter equipped than n fflnn, oven In tho H
most perfect nnd powerful flying ma- H
chine yet Invented, to ropo with swirl- H
lug gusts nnd sudden blnsts, few tenth- H
oiod creatures caro to fly during ft H
Drexel says: "Tho aeroplane tins Us BJH
limitations, and they are no fnr vory 1
nnrtow ones." If IIiIh bo truo of the? H
mechanical power, what of tho guld- H
Ing Intelligence behind It? write IH
Itlchnrd Kcurton In Tho Sphere. Mnn H
tins to conceive n situation and com- H
munlcnto his will through his limbs H
to his mechanism, whereas n bird In- H
stlnctlvely throws Its will Into Its) H
wings and (nil, which la a much short- H
or path to H
Now let us glnnco for ft moment at H
the relntlvn speeds of mental perce- H
tlon In a mnn and n bird. For n InnK H
scries of yenrn I havo undergone n H
sovero training In quick mental per- H
roptlon and nt tho crucial moment H
setting rnpldly-nnsworlng mcchnnlcnl H
contrivances In motion, nnd hnvo no H
hesitation In stating that tho powers H
of tho most alert human being when H
compared with thnso of a bird aro ns H
tho speed of a snnll to that of a Derby H
winner. Some Iden of a bird's mar- H
vcloua rapidity of perception nnd re- H
sultant action may bo gnlncd when I H
statu that I havo exposed dozens of Hl
photographlo plates with my focnl- M
piano tndox showing that I was work- BM
Ing nt a. speed or tho 200th pnrt of a H
second hottiro I secured a picture of H
crested tit on a branch near Its nest- BBJBSJB
Ing hole Kvcn In such n short spacs H
of tlmo tho bird was nblo to conceive H
tho sound nnd set Its wings In motion H
lieforo tho shuttor of the cnmern H
No Flights In Rough Weather. H
Now If euch u wonderfully-equipped fl
croaturo ns u bird finds n dlfUculty In 'H
flying In strong currents nnd eddies. H
how much greater must these snmo B
difficulties bo for tho airman, livery-
body has seen largo flock b or starlings H
going through tholr astonishing ncrlsl H
evolutions heforo retiring to rest for
tho night nnd marveled nt tho skill H
with which thoy avoided oollldlnic H
with each other whilst whrollng, H
twisting uud swooping. Thin lllus- H
trntcs tho cxtrcmo rapidity of their H
mental perception nnd Its translation H
Into nctlon, but In spite of these very Pbb
useful qualifications tho birds do not (Ssbb
llsk-JUlcU exhibition ninv. r niph LL
during very stormy wcathor. Mem- VVbb
bora of n pack of grouse. flushed, rtur 'H
Ing n galo of wind hnvo been known H
to collide nnd kill each other In in'ld- M
I romombor on ono occasion pntllnpr IH
n grnuso up near to n ttono wnll ilur- H
Ing vory gusty weather. The hint H
had not proceeded far heforo It wan H
caught by n terrlflo sldo blast nnd H
hurled against tho wnll. Fulling to M
tho ground It roso ngnln, but Instead of H
nltemptlng to contlnuo ltd flight iar- H
nllel with tho feuco, took a course, at H
right angles to It, nnd by n sorles or M
Vigorous wing boats farced Its wny H
straight up Into tho oyo of the wind, H
and then, turning right around, sailed H
away over tho wall on outstretched H
wings, arouse, llko seagulls, apppcar H
to bo able to rond tho signs of n com- H
Ing storm, and troquoritly Book shot- H
tor heforo tho breaking of the blast. H
I hnvo known them to leavo tho ox- H
posed hilltops and descend even to H
tho meadows right nt tho bottom or M
a. Yorkshire dale heforo tho oncoming M
of an exceptionally heavy galo nccom- M
panlcd by hall and rain. H
Island Dlrds In a Hurricane. H
Somo years ngo whilst In tho outer H
Hebrides I noticed thousands of sea- H
gulls or different species sitting qulto -H
still In a pasturo close to the Atlantic. H
I'very head was turned townrd the sea, B
from which a moderate brcczo was H
blowing, By tho mlddlo of tho after- H
noon tho wind hnd Increased to such H
hurrlcuno forco that ilecos of foam B
uh largo an a man's head were being BBl
carried from tho beach a quarter of - HBs
in llo inland, nnd not a bird of nny BBl
kind was to bo seen on tho wing. Anx- H
Ions lo seo how my feathered friends HBl
worn faring during stirli exceptional BBBajj
weather I struggled forth, sometime HBl
progressing on my feet, and nt other. HBl
in exposed places, ou my hands and UVJ
knees, I found common terns shel- BBs
terlng behind houldors at a consider- HB
nblo distance from tho shore. Arrlv- M
Ing nt a vertical hole somo 70 feet In IH
diameter and CO fcot In depth lu thu 1
root of n long sou cave, I was astonish- L7
cd to dlBcovor n peregrine falcon sit- Ls,
ting In tho company of about 40 rock
doves. Tho storm had notuallj marin
tho Hon llo down with the lambs. H
Thcro wns a great clattor of wings ns H
the terrified birds rose from their H
placo or shelter. Tho peregrine wns H
curried down wind llko n pleco of pa- H
per and soon dlsuppearod from sight, H
but tho pigeons battled on their strong H
wings until I hnd retreated a llttl H
way, and all dived Into tho hole oncu. H
more. m H
How much birds dislike windy H
weather may bo gntherod from their H
silence and lack of activity during a H
rough day In June. Whilst no bird H
likes to fly lu n strong following wind H
on nccount of tho liability of havo Its H
feathers milled, heavj'-bodled short- H
winged species, biicIi as ducks, appro- H
elate n strong breeze In which lo rltut H
from tho ground or wator beniuso of" H
the increased resistance It n"o0 H
. ... V M
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