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.1 T*„J4.£ .431 W.
I In September, 1913, Felix Hazard received an urgent summons from the New York offices of the Sutherland detective agency to come at once to that city to assist the local operatives In unraveling a particularly baffling case a case, it may be added, that «till remains one among many of the -eastern metropolis' unsolved riddles. The circumstances tended to show that on the morning of September 2 David Bardeene, master financier and power in Wall street, had been atabbed to death by a mysterious woman who had not as yet been ap prehended and whose identity was unknown to the police. Bardeene's widow had enlisted the aid of the Sutherlands not only to find the wom an, but to clear up an unpleasant ecandal that, since the supposed mur der, was beginning to cloud the dead millionaire's name. The summons fell in admirably with Hazard's plans, because his confrere and friend, Helen Bertel, was spend ing her vacation in New York, and he anticipated some pleasant times in her company. He reported promptly at the New York office, where he was supplied with full details of the case. Almost at once Hazard was struck by what he considered a suggestive factor this was the ease with which the mysterious woman had gained ac cess. to Bardeene's private office. Guarded by an army of clerks and office attendants, the financier was one of the least accessible of men. Unless by previous appointment, sel dom if ever was anybody admitted to his presence strangers were barred utterly. The unknown woman, it would seem', on the presentation of her card, had been instantly ushered into the Inner sanctum. And here arose another singular cir cumstance. It was no other than the chief clerk himself who took the card but he could not recall the woman's name, and the card itself could not be found. As for her appearance, she had been stylishly gowned, she seemed to be young, or not more than middle aged, but fcer features were concealed by a heavy veil. She remained with Bardeene per haps thirty minutes altogether. Some thing like five minutes before she de parted the buzzer rang for George. Destln, the chief clerk, who went at once into the private office. He reap peared in the outer office a .minute or so later pale and trembling—in fact, BO agitated that certain of the offioe force noticed his perturbation and commented among themselves that "the old man had been giving Destln grilling." He was a much feared "old man." Then a minute or two later the veiled woman reappeared and passed at a normal gait through the outer room, where the office force was en sconced. That was the last seen of her. During the next few minutes It was noticed by his subordinates that Des tln was uneasy and fidgety. He fum bled aimlessly and nervously with the papers at his desk, and by and by he rose with an air of having steeled himself to the performance of an un pleasant task and went Into the pri vate office. Next instant he came reeling back, white as a sheet and making queer, Incoherent noises In his throat. The office was thrown into confusion but presently the others made out that he was trying to cry "Murder!" And then it was that the fatality was dis covered. Having ascertained all the details from Heffernan, the New York opera tive who had charge of the case for the Sutherlands, Felix Hazard meant first to find Helen Bertel and then devote his attention to the dead finan cier's Wall street offices. He was just starting for the elevator when an office boy came up and handed him a sealed envelope bearing his name. Hastily tearing it open, he found, on a Blip of paper, the following typewrit ten message: "David Bardeene met only his just deserts. If you value your peace of mind don't, from a mistaken notion of duty, try to bring retribution upon the rffserable instrument of vengeance who killed him. This is not a threat, but wise counsel." Hazard wheeled upon the boy. "Where did you get this?" he sharply demanded^ "I found it In the letterbox among the office malt" "H'm! Then anybody could have dropped it there at any time." He handed the slip to Heffernan. "Some body wants us to keep hands off as far as you went, did you run against any opposition?" Heffernan studied the uncompromis ing bit of paper and slowly shook his head. "Regardless of the disclaimer that thip is a threat," he commented, "it is,,nevertheless, nothing else. Before you go much further I bet you'll re ceive another more to the point/' "I believe you," agreed Hazard. "The case promises to be Investing. Well, I must be off." „„. An hour later he and Helen Bertel •r "fa Tiken from the Notebookof an Old Detective by Charles Edmonds Walk And With Names and Pisces Hidden Published a Proof That Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction were happily facing each other across a restaurant table. He told her what had brought him to New York, laying the Bardeene case before her circum stantially. "Kere," said she, "endeth my vaca tion for I suppose you want me to help you." "My dear girl," Hazard protested, "all I ask of you is 'to be a patient listener and then give me the banefit of your luminous, clear-thinking brain. I have to talk to someone to get my own ideas in order I'd rather It would be you than anybody else." "For that, dear Felix," she smiled at him, "I'll point the way for you to begin." She pretended to go into a trance. "My control suggests George Destin, the chief clerk." Hazard's eyes sparkled, because the pretty girl opposite him had arrived at a conclusion identical with his own. Still, to make the advice more posi tive and concrete, he asked her for her reasons. Said she: "I haven't many definite reasons for looking askance at the chief clerk It is mostly intuition that prompts me but it sticks in my mind as being queer that he can neither recall the woman's name nor find the card. That doesn't indicate a careful office man, such as would hold a responsi ble position in David Bardeene's ex acting employ. Therefore, if he sup pressed the card and the woman's name, if anything occurred in the in ner office that he has not told, then he knows the woman and there is col lusion between them." Hazard nodded his head In full agreement then, after arranging for a meeting with Helen for that same evening, he reluctantly left her and made his way to Bardeene's offices in Wall street. As a result of the guiding spirit's removal from the midst of his many activities, the place was dull and spiritless. George Destin was alone, discharging such duties as ordinarily fell to him. The detective scrutinized the chief clerk keenly before making himself known. He beheld a good-looking, well set up man of thirty or thereabouts with black hair and a closely clipped black mustache. The pallor that marked his face might have followed naturally upon the shock and worry caused by his employer's tragic death, and the man's state of mind could not fairly be taken as evidence of guilty knowledge. In a few moments Hazard intro duced himself and stated the object of his visit. "But I don't see what I can do, Mr. Hazard. I am stunned my mind can't grasp the terrible happening but It seems to me the police have been a bit overzealous in suspecting me." Hazard gave him a sharp glance: he was not a little taken aback by the man's unexpected candor. "Why do they suspect you?" he asked. "Because I did not know the lady's name—that is to say, I could not re call it—and because the card has not been found. But how could I be ex pected to remember a name that I never saw or heard?" "You had her card," the detective reminded him. "Ah, yes—to be sure—her card." Destin lapsed into meditation. Then resolution came to him he met Haz ard's steady look with eyes that re vealed nothing. He pursued: "As you are working in Mrs. Bar* deene's interests, I do not mind con fiding to you something that I hesi tated telling the police I felt that I would not be believed. "The explanation of my Ignorance respecting the woman is quite simple. It is very rarely that a woman comes to these offices, and less than an hour before the tragedy Mr. Bardeene informed me that he was expecting a lady caller and for me to show her in the instant she arrived. So when this woman came, naturally I took It for granted that she was the one he was expecting, and I showed her im mediately into the private office. She did sot tell me her name as a mat ter of fact, I did not hear her utter a word." "But the card," Hazard again re-, minded him, "surely you saw her name on that." The man looked at him queerly. After a pause— "No, I did not," he said slowly. "The card was blank." "Blank!" Hazard ejaculated. "Why, nobody would send in a blank card to a man like Mr. Bardeene!" Destin shrugged his shoulders. "This lady did, at any rate. You see now why I was reluctant to tell all this to the police it. sounds rather preposterous. "I may add, though, that occasion ally people had appointments with Mr. Bardeene, who made their pres ence known by a sign or- a password of some sort, people whose identities it was not. advisable to-#sc)ose even to the. office staff. I concluded that the blank card was some such open sesame. Mr. Bardeene, was strange ly agitated-when I handed it to. him, *+.'(• *sifrrj S ':4 v.*fr S1 &•% ''"Ttiii A. and he told me to show her in at once." Felix Hazard was rapidly acquiring a curious jumble of irreconcilable conclusions. David Bardeene, who had time and inclination to consider only matters of huge emprise*1 had an appointment with a mysterious veiled woman who made herself known oy means of a- blank visiting card be immediately dropped all other busi ness and gave her his attention dur ing the course of a 30-minute inter view she had, it would seem, stabbed him to death with his own paper knife, and then departed as quietly and unhurriedly and mysteriously as she had come. All at once he remembered the scandal that had gathered about the dead man's name and which it was a part of his duty to hush. It struck him now that the scandal, if there were any basis for it, must be opened up and aired instead of suppressed, if justice were to be done. "Mr. Destin," he went off on anew track, "you were probably as close to David Bardeene as any man, were you not?" The chief clerk reflected, then thoughtfully replied: "No man was what you might call intimate with Mr. Bardeene nobody could get close to him he was a reserved, self-contained man but in a business way I suppose I had as much of his confidence as any one. Socially, though—well, do you know Maxwell Howe, the engineer?" The name was indeed familiar to Felix Hazard. He thought of the man whose splendid genius was sul lied by the character of a Dionyslus at once a creator of magnificent struc tures and a satyr, a genius In whom glowed the divine spark and a selfish hedonist and libertine. "Yes, I know him," he returned. "Well," came the quiet addendum, "Mr. Bardeene was much in "his com pany out of office hours." If this were true, once more the case resolved itself into simple if sor did elements. But Destln was not the best, source of information for this angle it was a factor that Hef ferman could attend to. "When the buzzer summoned you, while the woman was with Mr. Bar deene, what occurred- that agitated you?" Hazard asked. For the first time George Destin betrayed uneasiness. He stirred un comfortably and darted a disturbed glance at his inquisitor before reply ing. "He reprimanded me for what he considered a dereliction on my part," Destln explained in a dropped voice "a matter that had nothing to do with the lady's call—or at least I suppose it hadn't." That the incident rankled would ac count for the chief clerk's constraint but for some reason Hazard regarded him with suspicion. However he didn't press his Interrogations It oc curred to him that a dossier of both Bardeene's and Destin's mode of life would be more informative than any thing the chief clerk would be of a mind to tell him. So after a minute or two of desultory conversation he took his leave. No sooner had he emerged upon the sidewalk than a seedy-looking individ ual accosted him and asked whether his name was Felix Hazard. He eyed the man shrewdly, and swiftly made up his mind that he was not a factor to reckon with. When he replied in the affirmative the seedy man handed him a bethumbed, sealed envelope up on which was his typewritten name. The messenger started to slouch away, but Hazard arrested his steps with a curt command to wait. The second message, like the first, was typewritten on a narrow slip of paper but unlike the other, the men ace of its purport was unmistakable. Hazard road: "You choose to disregard friendly counsel—very well. Beware the con sequences. To clear the mystery sur rounding David Bardeene's death will not serve the ends of justice, but will entail irreparable injury for people who are innocent of any wrongdoing, So stop before it is too late." Hazard bore down sternly upon the shabby messenger, who promptly be came frightened and anxious to be gone. "Who gave you this?" he demanded. "I—I—d-d-don't know the gent," chattered the other. "He points you out to me when you goes into the building and he gives me a bone to wait and hand you this letter when you comes out. He beats it, and 1 earns my money—that's all." "Describe him." The seedy individual did so as well as he was able in his rattled state but the description told Hazard noth ing—it was of somebody whom he could not identify. After a final word of warning the detective dismissed the messenger, who scuttled away* Felix Hazard was not disposed to treat the warning lightly, and he ap prehended trouble before he got much farther into the Bardeene case. He knew that bis interests were affected1 aid 'that lianli life ih W^ York could bepurcbased for a trifling jqo of money the notortohs gun-men were not a myth-—murde^ 'was their trade. But who, lie wondered, could be so eager to dissuade him from clearing up the mystery? On his way back to the Sutherland office he pondered this question deep ly, but could find no satisfactory an swer. Heffernan promised to obtain com plete records of both Bardeene and Destin by the next afternoon, and cau tioned his associate from the western city to be constantly on his guard. •Those typewritten threats have an ugly look ..to me," he added, "and if the author of them is as unscrupulous as the circumstances seem to indicate he will make no bones' about having you fixed." But this aspect of the affair did not in the least abate Felix Hazard's en joyment of a popular Broadway musi cal revue and a supper later on at one of the more subdued of that street's garish lobster palaces for Helen Ber tel was with him and all business troubles and worries were for the time being laid aside. It was not until he and Helen emerged upon the sidewalk that the typewritten threats were brought for cibly to mind. He guided Helen through the throng of pedestrians to the curb, where the starter already had summoned a And here Hazard abruptly halted: the conveyance was not the same one they had used earlier in the evening, not the one in which they had come to the restaurant from the theater and whose driver he had instructed to wait. He had no more than paused in his progress toward the vehicle when there came a.sudden surging among the pedestrians surrounding him. The cab door fiew open and at the same instant he was seized by powerful hands and roughly bustled toward it. Helen was separated from him, and at once hp lost sight of her. As usual, when such events are precipitated, not a policeman was in sight. Now those who have followed this series will recall that Miss Bertel was an active, athletic girl and a coura geous one into the bargain. Moreover she was quick-witted and prompt to ill "Harken, Maxwell Howe. Even Now, You Can Hear the Cfonk of Chains and the Echo of the Warden's Tread.'* act, else she could not have held the position of trust and confidence she did with the Sutherlands. Although forcibly separated from her escort, she instantly divined what was hap pening, and a swift survey of the scene gave her all the details of the strata gem by which at least seven men were trying to kidnap Hazard. Each of his arms was grasped by a man and a third was lifting and pushing the de tective from behind. Hazard was help less, and regardless of the brightly lighted and crowded street the plot would have succeeded by its very boldness und audacity—had it not been for Helen Bertel. She also observed that four other husky individuals were plunging this way and that among the crowd, hurl ing the nearest ones away from the immediate vicinity and keeping the space abont the cab door clear. Helen pressed forward, cautiously alert. A huge, evil-visaged man lunged violently directly at her—and next in stant he went sprawling to the walk. She had neatly tripped him. Then rushing to the cab door, she slammed it shut and crouched against it with all her strength, for she knew not what might come through the open window. The plot depended for its success up on the rapidity with which it could be accomplished. Without check or hin drance Hazard might have been bun dled into the cab and the Cab speeding away all within the space of a few seconds* But Helen's unforeseen op position provided the brief delay ne cessary to frustrate the maneuver. The men holding Hafcard became panic-stricken and released him, and. to hurl, her away from the door sev ewl of the spectators awakened, and In a moment that individual was' re ceiving the roughest handling of his life. ...." Then the cab glided away and the thugs tried to lope themselves in the crowd. All succeeded save one. The instant that Hazard's. right arm was free he was upon the fellow at his left and bore him to the walk in a flash. The man lay face downward, and Haz ard twisted his right arm back until he cried out with pain. Helen, her fine gray eyes shining and her face glowing with excitement, stood watching. To her Hazard said quietly: "Get an officer I think I can use this chap." But just then a bluecoat forced his way through the crowd. Explanations were quickly made, the thug was led away to the nearest patrol box, Haz ard and Helen hurried into another taxi, and the episode was over. At police headquarters, some time later, after Hazard had seen Helen safely to her hotel, the detective was afforded an insight into New York po lice conditions where protected Inter ests are involved. The captain of po lice was anxious to conciliate a man of Felix Hazard's reputation and standing, he knew he could not de ceive him, and he also knew that any true confession from the captured thug would lead him back to a dead wall of helplessness. "There's no chance of getting to the man higher up through this guy," averred the captain "at best we can only lay our hands upon some ward man who perhaps got his orders from the swell who sat next to you at the show tonight or at the next table to you at the Broadway restaurant where you dined, and by the time we'd worked our way to him—if we could— we'd be in hot water up to our necks. We can do you no good, but can get ourselves in bad." Hazard understood and took the matter philosophically. "Let the fel low go," he said "I dare say I can take care of myself. Next time, though," he warned, "I'll be more watchful—I'm pretty handy with a gun." "If you can get any o' them guys that way," the captain earnestly as sured him, "I'm with you. You'll save us police a lot o' trouble." The next afternoon Heffernan hand ed Hazard two closely typewritten sheets they were the records of Da vid Bardeene and George Destin. Terse and unemotional in their phrase ology, they were nevertheless revela tions—Bardeene's of a deliberately chosen life of gross sensualism upon which, fortunately, this chronicle need touch only in a cursory way while George Destin's was commonplace save for one circumstance which will be brought out presently. The name of Maxwell Howe was so frequently linked with Bardeene's that they may be said to have been partners in a systematic career of evil. There were descriptions of Eleusinian revels in apartments which the volup tuous imagination of Howe had trans formed into bowers of rich and ele gant luxury, and in connection with these appeared the name of—Idabelle Valette. Idabelle Valette, the record showed, was twenty she had lived with her widowed mother at a given address in Harlem and had worked at one of the larger down-town department stores until January, 1913. Thence forward her name was so closely as sociated with Bardeene's and Howe's that the appended details of her fate were mere redundancy. The significant details of George Destin's record was that for two years he had "kept company" with Idabelle Valette, and it was generally believed by their acquaintances that they were engaged to be married. The perusai of these twq sheets had a magical effect upon Felix. First ot_ all he sought out Helen Bertel. ''I shall- have to use you after' altfr he excused himself "what I want you to do only a woman can." He laid tlje whole .ugly story before ber and gave her an address. '£Tiu}t Is where Mrs. Hubert Valette, Idabelfe's mother, lives she was the veiled woman. Unquestionably you will find her greatly distressed, and it will "require a woman's sympathy, in sight'and tadl to get her to yield up her story. I can guess it pretty ac curately* but I want it from her own lips. "While you are gone I mean to pay my respect# to one of New York's honored citizens I want to let hini know just how he stands in the opin ion of all decent men." "And women," added Helen. "But he won't see you." Hazard smiled grimly. "He will, though," he averred with quiet assur ance. His up-town journey ended at the Imposing and busy office of Maxwell Howe, and after he had sent in his card, as Helen had foretold, the fa mous engineer refused to see him. "Give me a sheet of paper and an envelope," the detective demanded of the stenographer in a tone that brooked no denial. He wrote "If you don't grant me an immedi ate audience, every afternoon paper in New York shall ring with the story of Idabelle Valette." This he sealed in the envelope and sent in to Howe. By way of reply he was shown into the latter's £-ivate office. The detective wasted no time in getting down to the object of his call. His manner was stern and compelling, and the large, impressive-looking man who watched him with filmed eyes re mained silent and impassive. "Mr. Howe, I have not come here to preach you a sermon," Hazard began "but to make my meaning clear and unmistakable, there are a few things I mean to tell you. "God has given you a great gift, and that you have seen fit to debase it and drag it through the muck and mire does not in the least concern me where you alone are affected. But you area beast unchained and so con stitute a deadly peril to all within the sphere of your influence. Contact with you is poisonous, fatal. I want to impress upon your mind that you are now chained so that you will not bring utter ruin upon the heads of your innocent family. In the office of the Sutherland detective agency is a complete detailed statement of what I suppose you are pleased to call your amusements and recreations, covering a period of the last three years with that statement are the names of scores of witnesses whose testimony can not be refuted. Try only once again td bring ruin to an innocent girl, to wreck the life of an earnest, hard-working young man, and that statement will -be given to the world. Not even your power and influence can save you from disgrace, humiliation and prison walls." Hazard took a step forward and shook a finger in the other's face. "Harken, Maxwell Howe," he sol emnly concluded, "even now you can hear the clank of chains and the echo of the warden's tread. May they ring constantly in your ears as a remind er of what I have told you today." Still the man sat as if petrified. Fe» lix Hazard moved over to the door, where he paused for a parting shot. "Just a final word of counsel, Mr. Howe," he said meaningly. "Don't make any more attempts to kidnap me the result will only spell disaster to yourself. Call your dogs off." Not many minutes later Hazard and Helen Bartel were comparing notes. Mrs. Valette she had found utterly broken and prostrated but excepting that she confirmed all the facts now in Hazard's possession, Helen's mission had not been alt^ether successful. "I could not porsuade her to talk about what happened in Bardeene's private office," said Helen. "She sol emnly declared that that episode is between her and God, and wild horses couldn't drag it from her. "As for the rest, she talked freely enough. Idabelle is dead she died in an Elizabethtown sanitarium five weeks ago. David Bardeene, if he were alive, would be liable on a serious crim inal charge. He knew it, and when Mrs. Valette wrote him threatening letters he was simply terrified—he lost his head. "In one of her letters Mrs. Valette en closed a blank calling card. She told him: 'Unless you make reparation, your life shall become as this card—a blank!' He knew the significance of the card that George Destiu brought him on the fatal day." Hazard thoughtfully nodded his head. "I know all that I need know. Mrs. Valette did not slay Bardeene if she had she w^uld have told you." The talk that* Hazard had with George Destin was along one, and dup ing its course the young man's heart and soul lay naked under the scalpel of Hazard's searching analysis of the tragedy. "It is lucky for you, Destjji, that I am not a police officer. My iuty has been observed, my obligations dis charged. It was Mrs. Valette who rang the buzzer on that fatal tfay. It was the signal for you to act. You did. "It is not for me to judge the right or wrong of what you did. I do know that you had great provocation But whether or not you were justified in taking a human life I shall lea^e to your conscience. The secret of frwvld Bardeene's death is locked in my bosom." And thus it came abr»it tha\ the Bardeen case remained ai~ong th* un solved mysteries in police annals. (Copyright, 1915, by W. a. Chapman.).