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CHAPTER I.During the hejxht of th*
Nw Orleans carnival season Jachin Fell,
wealthy though somewhat mysterious cit
izen, and Dr. Ansley, are discus-tag a
intoi of robberies by an individual known
mm the Midnight Masquer, who, invariably
attired as an aviator, has long defied the
police. Joseph MaiUard, wealthy bankev.
is giving a ball that night, at which the
Masquer has threatened to appear and
ralrthe guests, fell and Ansley, on their
way to the affair, meet a girl-dressed as
Columbine, seemingly known to Fell, but
masked, who accompanies them to the
CHAPTER n.Lucie Ledanois, recent
ly the ward of her uncle, Joseph Mall
lard, is the Columbine.
CHAPTER 111.In his library Joseph
Maillard and a group of friends are held
up and robbed by the Midnight Masquer.
CHAPTER rV.Lucie Ledanois, the last
ef an old family, is in straitened circum
stances. Joseph Maillard's handling of
her funds has been unfortunate. Fell is
an old i friend of her parents and deeply
interested In the girl. Henry Gramont.
really the prince de Gramont. son of
a French father and an American mother,
but who spurns the title of prince, Is
enamored of Lucie and believes himself
a not unfavored suitor.
CHAPTER V.Gramont's chauffeur.
Hammond, sergeant in the American
army In France, and there known to
Gramont, lives with him. He was the
original Midnight Masquer, and Gramont.
for a particular purpose, after discover
ing^ Hammond's activities, assumes the
role: Where Hammond had been a rob
ber for financial gain, Gramont, of
course, is not He arranges to return
the "loot" to those whom he has robbed.
The Jewel* and money. In individual pack
ages, are got ready for delivery next day
to their original owners. That night they
are stolen front Gramont'a auto.
CHAPTER VLBen Cacherre, an In
dividual of unsavory character, appears
t be associated with Jachin Fell. He
has a-peculiar interview' with one Mem
phis lazy Gumberts, notorious influential
crook, in which there is significant refer
ence to a mysterious ."boss.**
CHAPTER VII.Lucie summons Gra
mont to hef- home and shows him the
packages from His auto. He admits he
is the Midnight Masquer, but convinces
her that he had no thought of robbery.
He refuses, however, to explain his pur
pose. The packages are returned to
.rlAPTER VHT.-WM evening Fell,
Gramont. and Dr. Ansley, at the Krewe
of Comus ball, are-, accosted by an In
toxicated masked individual whom they
recognize as Bob Maillard. He invites
them to a convivial, party in a private
room. They refuse, and Gramont leaves
Ihe building. 'Joseph Maillard seeks his
eon, feariru: public scandal as a result of
Bob's condition: With Fell and Ansley
they- find the room where the revels axe
going on.. Entering they discover an in
dividual, attired as an aviator, in the act
of robbing- the intoxicated youths. In
a struggle that ensues Maillard Is shot
and killed. The "Masquer" escapes.
"CHAPTER IX.Gramont. with Ham
mond, visits Terrebonne, a wild section
of the country, to inspect Lucie Ledanois'
land, which he believes contains oil. He
finds Indications of apparently almost un
believable quantities of the stuff. While
stooping over a pool of, water which
clearly shows traces of oil on Its sur
face, Gramont hears his name spoken.
CHAPTER X.He cannot see the
speakers, but the conversation ends singu
larly- abruptly. Gramqnt does not Investi
gate. Hammond finds a dead man in
some woods'and is charged by Ben Ca
cherr? and two other men with murder.
Gramont can do nothing. The men take
Hammond to the town of Houma. Later
Gramont finds a bloodstained knife where
he had heard the voices. He then realises
that Cacherre- was one of the men talk'
lng. and la the murderer.
CHAPTER XI.Believing himself alone.
Gramont investigates buildings on the
adjoining farm, which he kacws belongs
to Memphis Izay Gumberts. He finds
evidence of automobile stealing on a
stupendous scale and learns from a man
who discovers him and whom he outwits,
that the place is^also the headquarters
of the underground lottery game and
that Jachin Fell is the mysterious "boss."
CHAPTER Xn.BacR Tn the city, Gra
mont learns of the killing of Joseph Mail
lard. He seeks further evidence against
Fell. Gramont. Fell, and Lucie Ledanois
form a company to bore for oil on the Le
danois place. Fell tells Gramont he "plant
ed" the evidence of oil there and un
folds a scheme to make a fortune for the
girl. Gramont refuses to be a party to
the project. Fell threatens to prove him
the murderer of Maillard. which he seems
able to do. and Gramont reluctantly
creea to loin him.
friend of Miss Ledanois, and"stated
frankly that he was looking for oil
and hoped to drill on her land.
"I'd like a lease option from yon,"
he went on. "I don't want to buy your
land at ail what I want is a right to
drill for oil on it, in case any shows
tip on Miss Ledanois' land. It's all a
gamble, you know. Ill give you a
hundred dollars for the lease, and the
usual eighth interest in any oil that's
found. I've no lease blanks with me,
but if you'll give me the option, a
signed memorandum will be entirely
The farmer regarded oil as a joke,
and said so. The hundred dollars,
however, and the prospective eighth
interest, were sufficient to induce hfm
to part with the option without any
delay. He was only too glad to get
the thing done with at once, and to
pocket Gramont's money.
Gramont drove away, and was just
coming tt| th^ Ledanois drive .when he
suddenly/rthgr on the braves and
.halted the car, listening. From some
where ahead of himthe Gumberts
place, he thought instantlyechoed a
shot, and several faint shouts. Then
6ramon paused, indecisive. The
sheriff' .was making an arrest, he
thought. A hundred possibilities flit
tejd-through his brain, suggested by
the sinister combination of Memphis
IggikXlsmL even to Hajnmoni as a
Copyright by Douikday. ttytl&i tioSpiS*
prince among crooks, wfm.tfils se
cluded place leased 'by "inventors.*
As he paused, thus, he suddenly
started he was certain that'he had
caught the tones of Hammond, as
though in a sudden uplifted oath of
anger. Gramont threw in his clutch
and sent the car jumping forward!he
remembered that he had left Ham
mond beside the rivulet, close to the
Gumberts property. What bad hap
He came, after a moment of impa
tience, to an open gate whose drive
led to the Gumberts place. Before him,
"1 Found a Dead Man Over In Them
Bushes Shot Out Hammond.
wore a collar was bleeding copiously
from a cut cheek. The three turned
as Gramont's car drffee UP, and Ham
mond gave an ejaculation of relief.
"Here he Is now"
"Shut vUp!" rsnapped
armed captors In an ugly tone. "Hurry
up, Chacherreget a rope and tie this
Gramont leaped from the car and
"What's been going on here?" be
"demanded, sharply. "Hammond"
"I found a dead man^bve\ In them
bushes," shot out. Hammond, "and
these guys jumped me before I seen
'em. They claim I done It"
"A dead man!" repeated Gramont,
and looked at tbe threej^*What do
you mean?" ,._
"Give him the spiel, Cfache^e,*"
growled one of them. Ben''Chacherre
stepped forward, his boltf-^yes fas
tened on those of Gramont with a look
"The sheriff was here some time
ago, looking for a stolen boat," he
said, "and went off toward'the Leda
nois place. We were following in or
der to help him search, when we came
upon this man standing In the bushes,
over the body of the sheriff. A knife
was In his hand, and the sheriff had
been stabbed to death. He drew a pis
tol and shot one of us"
Gramont was staggered for a mo
ment. "Wait!" he exclaimed. "Ham
mond, how much of this is true?"
"What Pm tellin' you, cap'n," an
swered Hammond, doggedly. "I found
a man layin* there and was looking at
him when these guys jumped me. I
shot that fellow in the arm, all right,
then they grabbed my gun and got me
clown. That's all.*
Into the mind of Granjont leaped,
that brief conversation which be hadf'
overheard between Ben Chacherre and
the sheriff the strange, unnatural si
lence wbighjjjpad, .concluded
hroken-o^clfwrsatWn^ste from HanahoaB to thf others, i
less for tm moment, yet with hot
words r'sing Impetuously In him.
Now he noticed that Chacherre and
bis two companions, were watching
him very intently, and were-slightly
circling out. He sensed an acquaint
ance among all these men. He saw
that the wounded man had finished his
bandaging, and was 'now* holding bis*
unwounded hand in his pocket, bulk
as he turned In, unfolded a startling ^fastened upon him, and that one false
scene. Three men, the same three
whom he had seen from the bushes,
were standing in front of the low
shed two of them held rifles, th
third, one of the ?tave^tors:' in pyt&i
tills, was winding a fwntsgev about
bleeding hand. The two. rifles-were
loosely leveled at Hammond, who
stood in the center of the group with
his arms in the air.
Whatever had happened, Hammond
had evidently not been easily cap
tured. His countenance was some-*'
what battered, and the one captor who
one. of bis
flashed upon hjlm Tlvtdljr and with
startling clearness. He realised that
anything was possible in this Isolated
spotthis spot' where murder had so
lately been consummated! He checked
on his very UJps what lie had been
about to blast forth at this instant,
Hammond voiced the thought in his
'It' a frame-up!" said the chanf-
"Chat's likely, isn't itr Chacherre
flungf fhe woixls in a sneer, but with a
covert glance^ at Gramont. "This fel
low is yur chauffeur, ain't he? Well,
we got to -take him in to Houma, that*
"Where's "rthe sheriff's body?". de
manded* .Grainont, quietly.
*"Over these," Chacherre gestured,
ain't'^bid a chance to bring him
ck yetthis fellow kept us busy.
Maybe yoVwant to frame up an alibi
Gramont oaid no attention to the
sneering torn* of this, last.' He regard
ed Chacherre fixedly, tMhklng hard,
keeping himself well in hand.
"Ton say tl'ie sheriff was here, then
went over toward the Ledanois land?*
he asked. "Did he go alone, or were
you with hlmT*
"We were kin* to follow him," as
serted Cbach'ferre, confidently. This
was all Gramont wanted to know
that the man .was lying. "We were
trallin* along! after him when he
stepped into tbe bushes. This man of
yours was standing over him with a
"I was, too, when they found meI
was cuttin' me a fishpole," said Ham
mond, sulkily. He was plainly begin
ning to be Impressed and alarmed 6y
the evidence against feim. Gramont
"No one saw the actual murder,
''No* need for it," said Chacherre,
brazenly. "When we found him that
"I suppose not," answered Gramont,
his eyes fastened thoughtfully on
Hammond. The latter caught the look,
let bis jaw fall in astonishment, then
flushed and compressed his lipsand
waited. Gramont glanced at Cha
cherre, and launched a chance shaft.
"You're Ben Chacherre, aren't you?
Do you work for Mr. Pell?"
The chance shot scored. "Yes,"
said Chacherre, bis eyes narrowing.
"What are you doing here, then?"
For an instant Chacherre was off
guard. He did not know how much
or littleGramont knew but he did
know that Gramont was aware who
had taken the loot of the Midnight
Masquer from the luggage compart
ment of the car. This knowledge, very
naturally, threw him back on the de
fense of which he was most sure.
"1 came on an errand for my mas-
ter," he said, and with those_words
gave the game into Gramont's bands.
There was a moment of silence.
Gramont stood apparently in musing
thought,, conscious that every eye was
move would now spell disaster. He
gave no sign of the tremendous shock
that Chacherre's words had just given
him when he fpoke, it was quietly
"Then your master is evidently as
sociated witb Memphis Itzy Gumberts,
who owns this place here. Is that
,Both Hammond and Chacherre's
two friends started at this.
"I don't know anything abfpt that,"
returned Chacherre, with a shrug
which did not entirely conceal his un
easiness. "I know that we've got a
murderer here, and that we'U have to
dispose of him. Do you object?"
"Of course not," said Gramont,
calmly. "Step aside and give me a
moment in private with Hammond.
Then by all means take him in to
Houma. I'd suggest that yon tie him
up, or.make use of handcuffs If the
sheriff brought any along. Then you'd
better take In the body of the sheriff
also. Hammond, a word with you!"
I This totally unexpected acquiest
cehce on the part of Gramont seemed
to stun Chacherre into inaction. He
half moved, as though uncertain
whether to bar Gramont from tbe pris
oner, then he stepped aside as Gra
mont advanced. A gesture to his two
companions prevented them from -in-
"Seep 'em cover^ though," he said,
shifting his own 3 rifle slightly and
watching with at*ewl of suspicion.
Gramont ignored him and went up
to Hammond, with a look of warning.
I "Xou'll have to submit to this, old
man," he said, in a tone that the oth
ers could not overhear. "Don't dream
thafc Tm deserting you but I want a
good look at this place if all three of
them go awdy. They must not sus
"Cap'n, look out!" broke in Ham
mond, urgently. "This here Is a gang
the whole thing is a frame-up on
"I know ItI was present when the
sheriff was murdered but keep quiet.
I'll come to Houma later tonight and
see you." He turned away with a
shrug, as though Hammond had de
nied him some favor, and lifted his
voice. "Chacherre I How are you to
take this man into townt How did you
get here? 'Will you need to use my
"No."* The" Creole Jerked his head
toward the barn. "I came in Mr.
Fell"* carit's got a sprung axle and
Is lalcL^^-e'U^o^mfWk in aiK
^vwy^#fiT Grsra^om twsed and
glanced around. "This is a terrible
blow, men. I never dreamed that
Hammond was a murderer ir could be.
one! You don't know of iny motive
for the jcrlme?"
They shok their heads, but suspi
cion was dying from ti*etr eyes. Gra
mont glanced again at bis chauffeur.
Til not abandon you, Hammond,"
he said, severely, coldly, "fn stop in
THE BEMIDJI DAILY PIONEER
1 -at Houma and see' that ytra bate a
lawyer. I think, gentlemen, we had
better attend to bringing in the body
of the sheriff, eh?"
The wounded man dodged into the
barn and returned with a strip of
rope. Chacherre took this and firm
ly bound Hammond's arms, then
forced him to ait down and bound his
"You watch him," he ordered the
wounded member of tbe trio. "Well
get the sheriff."
Allowing Chacherre and his com
panion to take the lead, Gramont went
with them to the place where the mur
dered officer lay. As he went, the con
viction grew more sure within bun
that, when be lay there by the rivov
let, he bad actually beard the last
words uttered by the sheriff that Cha
cherre had committed the murder in
that momenta noiseless, deadly stabl
That Hammond could or would have
done it he knew was absurd.
They found'the murdered man lying
among the bushes. He had been
stabbed under the fifth ribtbe knife
had gone direct to the heart. Cha
cherre announced that he had Ham
mond's knife as evidence and Gramont
merely nodded his bead.
Lifting tbe. body between them,
they bore It back to the barn.
"Now," said Gramont, quickly. *Tm
off for Houmaif I don't miss my
road! Yon men will be right along?"
"In a Jiffy," said Chacherre promptly.
Gramont climbed into his car and
drove away. He had no fear of any
thing happening to Hammond the
evidence against the latter was damn
ing, and with three men to swear him
into a hangman's noose, they would
bring him io jail safe enough.
"A clever devil, that Chacherre!*'
be thought, grimly. "We're up against
a gang, beyond any doubt Now, if
they don't suspect me"..
He turned in at the Ledanois gate,
knowing bimseif to be beyond sight or
hearing of tbe Gumberts place. He
drove the car away from the bouse,
and into the thick of the densest
bush-growth that he could find, where
it was well concealed from sight.
Then, on foot, be made: his way along
tbe bank of the bayou until he had
come to tbe rivulet where oil showed.
Here he paused, concealing himself
and gaining a place where be could
get a view of tbe Gumberts land. He
saw Chacherre and Hammond there be
side-the body of the sheriff the other,
two men were swinging open the barn
door. They disappeared inside, and
a moment later Gramont heard the
whirr of an engine starting. A car
backed into the yard and halted.
The three men lifted the body of the
sheriff into the tonneau. Chacherre
took the wheel, Hammond being bun
dled to beside li$% The other two men
climbed'In SeJ*9e-ttJe body, rifles in
band. Chacherre started the car to
ward the road.
"All fine!" thought Gramont with a
thrill of exultation. "They've cleared
out and left the place to meand I
want a look at that place."
Suddenly, as he stood there, he re
membered_the 'l?ht ,*'p]umr^_thnt_h
Ottfce, FiwC Floor
213 Third St.
Office Phone 131 Re*. 310
H. N. McKEE
and Funeral Director
RESIDENCE PHONE 222-R
Haft-Man & O'Leary
O. M. QLSON
AND FUNERAL DIREC-
Day phone 178
Nif fct phones 332 or 358
bad heard during that interminable
silence which had followed the con
versation between tbe sheriff and Ben
Chacherre. It was a sound as though
something had fallen near him in the
.'The remembrance startled htm
strangely. He visualized an excited
murderer standing beside his victim,
knife in band be visualizedWff abhor:
rence which must have seized the maa
for a momentthe abhorrence which
must have caused him to.do some
thing in that moment/which in a cool
er time he would not have, done,
Gramont turned toward, the., _..
marshy spot where he had lain listen
ing. He jbent down, searching the wet
ground, heedless (bat the, water soaked
into bis boots. And, after a ttitnute, a
low exclamation of satisfaction broke' S
from bin) as he fbtibd what be
i..i' :u !.__,
Graijaont left die covert and walked
He was thinking about that odd
mention of Jachin Fellbad Cha
cherre lied in saying he had come here
on his master's business? Perhaps,
nan had come in Fell's car., and
would not hesitate to lie about using
the car.' For the moment Gramont
put away, the circumstance, but did not
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iTiis wfllive more fruit per jar. Cover and
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