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Aurora's Famous Lodge Case
By FRANK LOVELL NELSON-
Master Mind Solves One of the Queerest of Crimes.
Doctor Slain at Initiation by Substitu
tion of Gunpowder for Fake Explosive
Carleton Clark to the Aid of Chi
cago Newspaper Reporter in Solving
VERY man who has beon
Ea nowspapor rcportor and
survives has one case
which no gives tno post
of honor In memory. This
is tho story of the assign
ment I like best to remem
ber, not only becausa It re
sulted In tho solution of
ono of tho most mysteri
ous cases that over arose
In Illinois, but rather for
tho reason that It marked my first
mooting with Carlton Clarke
It was In tho summer of 1806 that
tho word camo to tho ofllco of tho Chi
cago morning paper with which I was
then connoctcd that tho police of tho
llttlo city of Aurora wcro struggling
with a caso which seemed destined to
provo one of tho groatest mysteries of
tho day. As I had mot with considera
ble success In criminal cases, tho man
aging editor lost no tlmo In hustling
mo off by tho first train to the sccno
The brief account in the first paper
I picked up, stripped of its glaring
headlines, was as follows:
Early this morning a very mysterious
tragedy occurred In tho hall of tho An
cient Order of Persian Knights, a local
secret society, which resulted In tho al
most Instant death of Dr. Arthur W. Wil
liams, a prominent physician of this city.
Tho Initiation of Dr. Williams was In
progress at tho time. In one portion of
the ceremony the candidate, having been
condemned to death for Invading the sa
cred domain of the shah. Is ordered to
load an old fashioned dueling pistol with
powder and ball which are furnished him.
lis Is then placed against tho wall and
the pistol Is fired point blank at him by
a member of tho lodge holding the of
fice of royal executioner. The powder
provided the candidate has always been
a clever counterfeit mado of pulverized
nnthraclte coal, and the only climax to
the thrilling ceremony, heretofore, has
been tho lizzie of the percussion cap and
the shoutB of laughter of the lodge mem
bers. Dr. Williams was an old hand at
lodge work. As a consequent, none of
the ofTorts of the Persian Knights to
break down his nerve or self-possession
had been successful. When he had load
ed the pistol he faced Dr. Homer Smith,
whose duty It was to Are the shot, and
gazed Into his eyes without a visible
tremor. Suddenly the members of the
lodge, about 200 of whom were present,
were startled by a loud explosion. Dr.
Williams fell forward with blood pushing
from a wound In his forehead. Among
the first to reach the stricken man was
Dr. Smith, who had flred the fatal shot.
It tried to stanch the blood, but the bul
let had penetrated the brain and Dr. Wil
liams died In his arms without speaking.
Chief of Police Darling, who Is a prom
inent member of the order, holding the
omce of royal astrologer, at once thought
to secure the cup from which the pow
der had been poured. A few grains re
mained. He tasted them. It was unmis
takably black gunpowder, No arrests
have been made and no one seems willing
to take the responsibility of saying that
the tragedy was anything more than ac
cident due to the carelessness of some
one In gottlng the counterfeit powder
mixed with the real article.
"Ob, thoso country correspondents!"
I fairly groaned. There was so much
I wanted to know. Who had handled
the supposed counterfeit powder?
What was the customary source from
which tho lodgo procured it? What
were the relations of the two physi
cians toward each other?
"It all depends upon the history of
the powder," I said to myself as I
stuffed the papers into my pocket.
"You aro right, sir. It all depends
upon tho history of the powder."
I turned around half in anger at
this unlooked-for interruption to ray
train of thought. Whatever emotion I
may have felt was instantly lost in
Interest In tho face before me. It was
a face I should havo singled out among
a thousand. Clean shaven, tho firmly
moulded chin showed by Its slight
tlngo of bluo that tho beard, had it
been allowed to grow, would have been
black. Tho noso was aquiline and of
perfect proportions. The Intelligent
eyes were dark ulmost to blackness.
The complexion was swarthy, but suf
fused with tho glow of health. Tho
hair was of that distingue combination
of colors, black, shading almost to
white on tho temples and ovor tho
forehead. An American, evidently, but
Inheriting through several generations
of New World ancestors tho markings
of southern Europe. Ills height I
should havo estimated at six feet.
Carlton Clarko really lacks throe-quarters
of an Inch of the mark.
"Then you aro a sort of Sherlock
Holmes?" I ventured.
"Sherlock Holmes Is an Impossibil
ity," ho said! ' , - ,''.
Further conversation was Interrupt
ed by our arrival beforo the llttlo arti
ficial stono building which serves for
a railway station at Aurora. The ovl
dent topic of conversation on all sides
was tho tragedy of the night beforo.
I scorned unofficial Informattm until
I had exhausted the official. Howover,
I could not resist turning tb ono of the
groups on tho platform and asking:
"What Is tho latest li the Williams
"Doc. Smith gavo hlniBelt up about
two hours ago," was tho nnswer.
When wo reached police headqunr
ters wo found Chief Darling In his
ofllco and at leisure. As wo ontcrcd
my companion slipped mo hVt card
with an apology for having omitted
tho formality on tho train. Tho name
I rend wob "air. Carlton Clarke."
Chief Darling was willing to talk,
but protested that he had no knowl
edge which was not already public
property In tho city. Ho had arrested
Dr. Smith upon his own request and
after a conference with tho state's at
torney. Tho most damaging evidence
against him, asldo from tho known do
tails of tho tragedy, was a powerful
motive. Tho prisoner had every reason
In tho world to be tho enemy of the
dead physician, although tliero had
never been nn open rupture and they
met as friends In society and lodgo
work. When Dr. Williams camo to
Aurora Dr. Smith had a flourishing
practice Within tho two years his
practlco had dwindled to practically
nothing, most of his wealthiest pa
tients having fallen under tho spell of
Dr. Williams' engaging personality.
But It was over an affair of tho heart
that the moBt serious clash In their
fortunes had occurred. Dr. Smith for
years had been "keoplng company"
with pretty Lucllo rttirton. Everybody
In tho city believed them to bo tacitly
engaged. The socloty sensation there
fore was sprung when tho cards came
out about a year before announcing
tho marriage of Dr. Williams and Lu
"Now, Mr. Darling," continued
Clarke, "you have of course investi
gated fully tho history of the pow
"That was tho first move I made,
and that's one thing that makes It look
bad for Doc. The fako stuff never left
his hands from the time it was ground
until tho shot wob flred. The lodge
has been getting its imitation made at
Burpee's drug store, whero a clerk by
tho name of Wilbur Paget, who is a
member of tho lodge, grinds It up on
the quiet as wo need it. On the
afternoon of the initiation he had made
up a quantity. Doc. Smith dropped
Into tho store about half-past five, and
Pagot gavo him tho powder wrapped
up In a package. As far as I can And
out nobody but Paget and Doc. handled
It or saw it."
"Don't you suppose the clandestine
meeting be had with Mrs. Williams
this morning had something to do
"Now look here, who haB leaked?"
angrily exclaimed Darling.
"You hnvo leaked, my dear Mr. Dar
ling," answered Clarko. "It wns a
chance cast and I'm surprised that an
old hand like you should havo taken
the bait. But you may rely upon our
discretion, nnd I trust you will pardon
my lucky stroke and givo us your full
Clarke's good humor seemed par
tially to mollify tho angry officer, but
I could see that tho shot rankled.
When we entered his cell Dr. Smith
was seated upon tho board which did
duty as a bod. Ho was quite my ideal
typo of a typical physician.
During tho conversation I 'could see
tho eyes of tho doctor constantly re
verting to thoso of Clarko as If ho
found there some irresistible fascina
tion. Then Clarke suddenly broko In.
"Whom aro you shielding?" ho
"No one," fairly shouted tho doctor.
"Who aro you that you should como
hero to catechlso mo?"
"Wo havo all tho information wo
shall get here," said Clarke as ho
took my arm and bockoned to the
chief who had watched the Interview
through tho small glass-covered aper
ture In the door. t
Tho drug clerk, Wilbur Paget cor
roborated all tho chief had said re
garding tho fako powder, but by far
tho most Important piece of Informa
tion, which, he, washable to glvo us wns
that on the afternoon he gavo thefyack
age to'Drv Smith he had also handed
the doctor a small purchase which
Mrs. Williams had ordered by tele
phone, asking him to leave it at Dr.
Williams' home, which he must pass
on tho way to his own.
"Well, Mr. Clarko, what do you
think by this tlmo?" I vonturod.
"Here Is tho caso. Dr Smith did not
commit that murder. Thoro was no
moro surprised person In tho lodgo
room when tho pistol went off. Ho
gave himself up for two reaBonB. First
to shield the woman ho loves and
whom he bolloves to be guilty. Sec
ond, ho fools that ho Is technically
guilty bccatiEo his hnnd did the act,
and his mind has exulted over It
"Wilbur Pngct.tho drug clork, might
hnvo committed tho murder. Ho has
for several years been desperately nnd
hopelessly In love with Mrs. Williams,
nnd has cherished a secret hatred for
her husband. Thus tho motive war,
thoro. Tho only reason he Is not guilty
1b that tho Idea did not occur to hi in
I will show you tho opportunity Inter
Her motlvo was n doublo one. She suf
fcrcd In silence the constant abuse of
n drunken husband. Sho loved an
other. Thus sho had tho strongest
motlvo which can nctuato a woman
to murder, tho deslro to rid herself of
a man who was ruining her llfo nnd
to bo free to marry a man sho loved
"Now for tho opportunity which
you doubt. When Dr. Smith stopped
at tho Williams' homo to deliver the
package from tho drug storo Dr. Wil
liams was out. Common courtesy de
manded that tho wlfa ask Dr. Smith
Into tho house, even hnd her heart
not prompted her to snatch every mo
ment with him thnt bIjo could.
"Now for tho opportunity. When
Dr. Smith left the house ho did not
take tho powder with him. Whether
It was connlvnnce, Intent, or merely
absent-mindedness I cannot say, but I
Incline townrd tho latter. At any rate,
the Imitation powdor was In tho pos
session of Mrs. Williams for some
little time. Sho knew Its purpose."
"No, no, you aro all wrong," I ex
claimed. "I would havo to lose all my
faith In womankind before I could
credit It. I would rather believe it of
After breakfasting tho next morning
Clarke and I set out to fulfill our ten
tative eppolatment with Mrs. Will
iams. "Mrs. Williams," ho began in his
whirlwind fashion, "I will ask you
what passed botween yourself and Dr.
Smith at tho early morning meeting
you had with him yesterday. Walt n
mlnuto. Is it not a fact that Dr.
Smith called you to the back door be
fore tho neighbors were up nnd while
the watchers were all In the front part
of the houso with tho body, and con
fessed to you that he had executed
the fatal change in the powders?"
"Did Dr. Smith tell you that?" sho
asked in a tense voice, whllo she con
vulsively clasped and unclasped hor
"Dr. Smith has told me nothing. It
Is a fact, Is It not?"
"But despite his confession to you
and the fact that' ho gave himself up
to the police, you bellevo him to be
"0, sir, I more than bellevo. I know
ho Is Innocent"
"How do you know it?" snapped
Clarko, with his eyes riveted upon the
frail bit of femininity beforo him.
"I know it because becauso I
changed the powders."
"Mrs. Williams, why do you, who
are not of a casto given to falsehood,
deliberately tell mo what I know to bo
untrue? Dr. Smith would not ask this
sacrifice at your hands. He Is Inno
cent, and bis innocence alone will save
She cried, oppcallngly:
"O, I will Bavo him I You shall not
prevent mel Eve: though ho bo guilty
I will save htm. Mine was tho first
guilt. Provo that ho is Innocent, and
I will thank you with my wholo llfo.
If you cannot, do not stand In my
way, for I am the guilty ono and on
my head alono should tho punishment
fall, Yu have dragged out my
secret and made mo lay my heart open
before you who aro Btrangers. Do not
betray me but lot me work this prob
lem out In ray own way, I beg of you,
Just then tho telephone bell rang
"Answer it, if you please, Mr. Sex
ton," said tho woman, who soemed too
weak to rise.
I went to tho telephone.
"Coroner has. arrived. Inquest is be
ginning. Mrs. Williams wanted at onco
at the court house."
I turned nnd gavo the mossago ver
batim. With a hurried promise to keep our
counsel, let Mrs. 'Williams take her
own course, butto.do all In our nowqr
"What do you thlnk'of'Jt.'Clarker4
L 1 - ' y y
' Tft- ? 'Jf&L-Z.
"I don't know what to think. Thoy'ro
both innocent She told tho truth.
You noticed how I led her Into It. She
has a remarkably psycblc mind, and I
knew tho storm was coming beforo It
"She Is Innocent, but I havo ray
doubts about the doctor. He confessed
his guilt to her. He wouldn't havo dono
that it he were innocent"
When I reached the courthouse the
proceedings already bad commenced.
The first evidence of real Impor
tance was that of tho drug .clerk, who
aworo to tho facts ho had told Clarko
and myself. Chief Darling's police
man swore to the early morning meet
ing and tho effect seemed to bo to
turn the tide of sentiment decidedly
against Dr. Smith, who was preserv
ing bis composure admirably during
tho trying ordeal.
"Now, Mrs. WIlllamB," continued
the coroner, after a few formal ques
tions, "I want you to tell tho Jury
what passed between you and Dr.
Smith when you met early yesterday
"Dr. Smith simply camo to ask me
if there wob any assistance ho could
render In my trouble. I expected no
less of ono I havo known slnco child
hood." "Why did ho como Jo tho back
door?" asked the coroner.
"After his close connection with my
husband's death I suppose bo wished
to avoid publicity."
"Did Dr. Smith offer you any ex
planation as to the cauBe of tho-trag-eayV"
' ' '
Mrs. Williams hesitated and looked
oppcallngly at mo,
. I endeavored to Instill strength. Into
her havering coura'go with all? tho
power of my eyes", but tho poorjjhn
'asse'd little woman was unequal (o tho
strain of tho ordeal. And perhaps to
, .- x M AP
. . i a -s , :
r YV n ) s" tw d ,il
' ' V&1 &iflM ft "- ' III
fj r6 w '7b Ptrfre
her mind it seemed that sho was be
ing led on to glvo incriminating evi
dence against the man she loved.
With a pathetic out-throwing of her
hnnds toward her Inquisitor sho rose
to her feet "No! No!" sho cried In
n pitifully shrill voice. "He had no
explanation to offer. I nlono know
who killed Dr. Williams. It was I
"Stop!" commanded a voice at the
back of tho hall.
"Mr. Coroner," said Clarko, on reach
ing tho railing with his prisoner, "I
wish to put this boy in ovldonca bo
te ro Mrs. Williams finishes hor testi
mony. Here Is tho instrument of Dr.
Everybody In tho hall was on his
feet, and there wns a great craning of
necks to seo Clarko'a captive.
"Mrs. Williams Is excused for tho
present. You will bo sworn, Mr. "
"Carlton Clarko," answorod my com
panion, taking tho oath.
"Now," Bald Clarko, "this boy is In
no condition of mind to bo examined,
but when he sees that ho has not com
mitted a crime, and that no harm will
como to him, he will corroborato wha
I havo to say, I found him In tho far
thest cornor of Dr. Smith's hny
loft praying for dear llfo. Ho Is
the boy that Dr, Smith sent after tho
packago of Imitation powder which ho
had left at Mrs. Williams' houso when
ho called there tho afternoon provlous
to tho tragedy to deliver another pack
ago at tho request of tho drug clork,
Paget. This boy Intended going rab
bit bunting tho next day, and on his
way to Mrs. Williams' ho stopped at
Toby's gun store and bought a nickel's
worth of gunpowder. Tills ho slipped
into his left pocket. When Mrs.
Williams gavo him tho packago Dr,
Smith had left he put It In bis right
pocket Being m absent-minded
youth, ho had forgotten all about his
errand when ho returned to Dr.
Smith's house. Tho doctor asked
him suddenly for the package, an 4
being left-handed, as may bo proved,,
ho reached for his left pocket Th
next warning when he hoard of Dr.
Williams' death and found what ho
had done, ho hid tho other packago
In tho hay, where I found it. Ho has
been In a condition of absolute terror
and In hiding In the hay ever slnco.
Isn't that bo, Timothy Dolan?"
"Y-y-yes, thlr," sobbed the boy.
Thpn tho court room broko Into
cheers, nnd whatever formalities the
court took to freo Dr. Smith were lost
In the oxcltomont.
As Clarke and I watched the spires
of Aurovia fading In tho distance that
ovenlng, I could not help wondorlng If
Dr. Smith greatly regretted tho mis
tako pf his freckled stable boy. ,
Moro than a year after tho evonts
recorded In tho foregoing narrative
Clarko and I wero Idling in our rooms
one morning when tho -mail brought
a square envelope addressed to Clarke.
"Here," bo said, as ho tossed tho
card oyer to me. "This will recall
to ypur mind tho mystery of the fa
mous Aurora Lodge caso."
It was an announcement of tho mar
riage of Mrs. Lucllo Williams to Dr.
(Copyright, 1508, by W. CI. Chapman.)
(Copyright In Great Britain.)
Will Fish for Sponges.
A company has been organlred by a
New Orleans business man to cngago
In tho spongo fishery off tho coast of
Yucatan, near tho islands of Mujoroa
and Cozume). Tho necessary conces
sions haVe'alrcady been Bee u red and
appliances with diving crows are o
tho way. '
1 - .,.... . i-fMn-f