ABEL LORIXG, senior partner of Loring &*
Co., one of the largest and most influential
^ firms in the financial district, hung up the
receiver and turned from the telephone with an
expression of keen annoyance on his kindly face.
Touching a button on the side of his desk, he said
to the alert young woman who answered the sum
"M iss Marshall, please place a memorandum con
spicuously on Mr. Carleton's desk to come to me the
instant he reaches the office. He is expected back
from Chicago this morning, and should be here now?
only he isn't."
"Yes, he is."
The door had opened to admit the junior member
of the firm just in time to let him catch the latter
part of Loring's instructions to his secretary.
"Anything gone wrong?" Carleton asked, as he
greeted the elder man cordially, with a pleasant
smile for the secretary, who flushed slightly as she
acknowledged his salutation and returned to her
desk in the outer office.
JOHN, there seems to be some unhappy fatality as
sociated with your absences from the office,"
Loring said gravely, as Carleton sat down. "Presi
dent Hasselmann of the Roosevelt Trust Company
has just called us up to say that our name has been
forged to a check for ninety thousand dollars!"
"What!"- Carleton leaped to his feet in excite
"Not only that," pursued his partner, "but it
seems that the check, which was drawn on the
Fourth National Bank of Orange, where we keep our
Jersey account, was actually certified by Wilson, the
paying teller. It was presented for payment at the
Roosevelt Trust just at the close of business on Sat
urday. Those are all the particulars I have. Hassel
mann seemed averse to discussing the matter over
the telephone. You'd better
go up to see him right away.
Williams, president of the
Fourth National, is holding
the check out there, instead
of returning it to the Roose
velt, as he should have done.
I don't quite understand why
he is doing this, and neither
does Hasselmann; but per
haps, on account of the check's
bearing the certification
stamp of the Fourth National,
he wishes to investigate the
matter himself first, instead
of putting it up to the Roose
velt Trust. He has told Has
selmann, however, that it
would be returned, formally
protested, this afternoon. Of
course, the Roosevelt Trust
will have to stand the Joss;
" You don't mean to tell me
the Teddy Trust cashed it,
chief?" roared Carleton.
"That's just what they
"Well, that bright young
institution is likely to have a
brief but exciting career if it
conducts its business in that
easygoing fashion. As you
say, it's their funeral; but we
seem to have been selected
for pallbearers, so I guess it
would be as well for me to
take a look at the remains.
The forger must have used
one of our blank checks.
What was the number? Have
you had the stubs examined? "
"No, John. I just got the
news as you came in. You'll
have to look into all those de
tails yourself. They're more
in your line than mine. I
hope that no one in the office
is involved." &
" I hope not," said Car
leton. "Still, some one may
have been careless. Of course, as I've told you
before, chief, a baby could imitate that signature of
yours; but? Oh, I'll get up to the Teddy Trust as
soon as the subway will take me there,"and then
I'll hit the pike for Orange, see the check, and learn
what Williams knows. To whose order was the
"To Howard ( urtiss & Co., and by them indorsed
over to?I don't believe Hasselmann mentioned the
name. He seemed a little rattled. You'd better go
and talk with him yourself. He'll give vou all the
r* ARLETON stopped only long enough to examine
^ the checkbook and to assure himself that none
of the checks had been taken from it, and then has
tened up town. He found the president of the
Roosevelt Trust in a very unhappy frame of mind.
"I'm mighty glad you've come, Mr. Carleton,"
By Henry Gallup Paine
Drawings by J. V. McFall
Hasselmann said. "I knew I could count on your
firm's hearty cooperation in running down the forger
and helping our customer to recover the money we
paid him, and for which we,shall have to hold him,
though perfectly innocent in the affair, responsible.
Ninety thousand dollars is no trifle?"
"Precisely," said Carleton, pricking up his ears at
the new turn given to the mystery by Hasselmann's
reference to a customer and his disavowal of liability
for the loss. " How did you happen to pay out so
large an amount in cash?"
"Well, Mr. Carleton, I must take the blame, if
there is any, for that. The check was presented by
a gentleman who has had an account with us ever
since we started?not so very long ago, as you know.
His balances are often considerably larger than the
amount of the check he requested us to cash for
him. Mr. Porter, our paying teller, brought the
check to me just at the close of business Saturday,
with the word that Mr. Lessing would be greatly
"Mr. whom, did you say?" interposed Carleton
quickly. Hasselmann had spoken the name of a
broker whose underhand practices had cost Carleton's
firm a large amount of money, until the junior part
ner had detected his methods and blocked his game.
"Mr. Lessing, Mr. Francis Lessing. I thought I
told Mr. Loring he was the depositor who presented
the check. At any rate, I saw him myself, and he
said he wished to use the money at once. I did not
like to refuse him the accommodation for which he
asked?he had only to deposit the check and to draw
against it, when we should have been compelled to
honor his draft. Accordingly, I directed the teller to
give him the money. Before doing this, however, I
called up the Fourth National of Orange and asked
for Mr. Williams, the president. I was informed that
both he and the cashier had left early; but I got
Wilson, the paying teller who had certified the
check. He said the check was all right. You can
imagine my surprise when I was informed by Mr.
Williams over the telephone this morning that the
paper was a forgery."
"How did it come you did not hear from the
Fourth National until this morning, Tuesday?"
"Why, you see, Mr. Carleton, we do not corre
spond directly with the Orange bank, but clear our
New Jersey business through the Mellor Trust Com
pany of Newark. The check was sent out from here
Saturday afternoon, arrived in Newark on Monday
morning, went to Orange at the close of business
Monday, and was received by the Fourth National
the first thing this morning. Of course, if we had
corresponded directly with the Fourth National, we
should have known of the forgery a day sooner, ves
terday. I have been trying all the morning to get
into communication with Mr. Lessing, but without
avail. His cashier informs me that he left for Chi
cago on Saturday night."
"Yes," said Carleton; "I saw him there."
"Did you? That's odd," exclaimed Hasselmann.
" Well, he isn't there now. I called up the Lorraine,
where I was told he was staying, and learned that he
started east yesterday afternoon."
" H'm. He wasn't on the Flyer," was Carleton's
comment. "The check, as I understand it, was made
out to the order of Curtiss & Co?" he continued in
"\es, and was indorsed over to Mr. Lessing by
that firm," replied Hasselmann.
"To him personally, or to Francis Lessing 8c Co?"
"To him personally. For that reason, I could ob
tain no information about it at his office. The house
does considerable business with Howard Curtiss &
Co.; but no one knew anything of a ninety thousand
dollar check due or expected from that firm. I had
to word my questions carefully, as I do not wish any
inkling of the trouble to get out at this time."
" Then the only steps you have taken so far have
been to notify us and to make a
few guarded inquiries of Lessing &
"That is the worst of it, Mr.
Carleton," the president said
gravely. "In times of financial un
rest and distrust like the present,
it is important to avoid publicity
in such?er?matters, so far as
possible. And while, as I have said
and believe, this company cannot
be held ultimately liable for the
money, we are out ninety thousand
dollars to-day. Rumor begets
rumor, and if the fact was known it
might cause us no little embarrass
ment, though I should hardly look
for a run on the company's depos
its. We were drawn on very heav
ily yesterday and to-day, and
while, of course, our institution is
splendidly solvent and flourishing,
we are a young concern, and, as
you know, public confidence is
easily shaken. I have heard re
ports of your skill in such matters,
and as it was the name of your
firm that was used, I thought you
might naturally like to?"
"Take up the investigation per
sonally?" finished Carleton.
"Why, ves," assented Hassel
mann. "It hardly seems fair to
our customer, Mr. Lessing, who is
also a depositor in the Fourth Na
tional, to give the facts to the po
lice until we can consult with him.
Mr. Williams feels the same way."
"Well, you're quite right," said
Carleton; "I shall enter upon this
investigation with peculiar relish.
I have just time to get the twelve
ten train for Orange, if I start
now," and he was soon on his way
to the ferry at 23d-st.
TN the thirtv-minute trip on the
* train, Carleton turned the affair
over and over in his mind; but the
more he looked at it, the more per
plexing it became to him.
If Lessing was the forger, there seemed to be no
possible escape for him. Even if he got clear away
with the money, he could never hope to return to
New York, and Carleton wondered if the man's
affairs were in such desperate straits that he had
actually been driven to overt crime in order to raise
funds with which to escape from the country and go
into hiding. It hardly seemed possible. There was
apparently no indication of anything wrong at
Lessing's office, and Lessing himself had been in Chi
cago only the day before, operating openly in the
wheat market. Carleton had known tnat the man
was a crook by nature, ever since their college days,
when he had caught his classmate in financial irregu
larities that had brought about Lessing's expulsion
but he believed that the broker was far too clever
now to present for payment a check that he himsell
The shout of the brakeman as the train pulled
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