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[Copyright. IS9O, by Frederick A, Stokes Company.)
CHAPTER I—Scene of story Is la New
York city Time, early evening, last day
of year. Cable train collides with cab.
throwing to ground cabman and passen
ger also seated outside, batter disappears;
then, inside the cub. body of man shot
dead Is discovered. Sturgis, reporter, ex
amines cab and surroundings.
CHAPTER ll—Later that evening, at
stag dinner party, Sturgis, In impromptu
discussion, maintains reliability of cir
cunislantial evidence. Dr. Murdock, ta
mous chi mist, wagers In reply $5.('U4 to
that from any daily paper he can select an
unsolvable riddle. Sturgis lakes bet.
CHAPTER Hl—Ease selected Is of two
mysterious shots tired that afternoon in
or near Knickerbocker bank. Man had
been seen running from bank with valise,
and arrested. Man said he stole valise
from bank steps and was shot at. Valise
contained nothing of Interest.
CHAPTER IV—Sturgis secures appoint
ment with Dunlap, president of bank, to
visit scene of shooting early next morning,
then Induces his friend Dr. Thurston to
come to his rooms while he arranges data
of the two strange cases,
CHAPTER V—From observations made
thus far and Inductive reasoning thereon
reporter has concluded: (1) dead man In
cab was bookkeeper about 50 years old re
ceiving good salary; (2V wound caused by
bullet fired at close quarter*-*; (3) might
have shot himself; (4) shooting had not
occurred in cab; (S) right arm broken by
heavy Instrument; and (6) cabman was
drugged, and young man who escaped in
volved in some way in crime. Cab mys
tery also noted as possible sequel to bank
CHAPTER Vl—Sturgis calls for Sprague,
artist friend, to get bis company during in
vestigation at bank, but artist has appoint
ment with some fair sitter whose portrait
he Is making.
CHAPTER VII - Agnes Murdock tin
charge of her father’s household since her
mother’s death) finds her father In It is
study. She, In reply to a question concern
ing attentions of a Thomas Chatham,
shows her dislike of the persistent suitor.
Her father Intimates she shall not be fur
CHAPTER VlH—Miss Murdock’s final
sitting for portrait Induces artist to ask
privilege of calling at her home, which she
readily grants. Bellboy brings note for
Agnes. This la read with evident annoy
ance, and she drops it. It remains forgot
ten when she leaves studio.
CHAPTER IX Promptly at time agreed
Dunlap meets Sturgis. Reporter begins
long and careful examination in bank. Re
volver in bookkeeper’s desk shows two
CHAPTER X—Examination completed,
Sturgis questions banker regarding relia
bility of Arbogast. head bookkeeper, then
announces Arbogast to be a defaulter with
Chatham, accountant who has frequently
examined condition of books, as accom
plice. Message Arbogast sent Chatham
deciphered from marks on a blotter.
CHAPTER Xl—Reporter has now com
pleted diagram showing movements of
Arbogast and Chatham and one other
whose Identity Is as yet completely veiled.
Arbogast at last moment had found a note
which caused him to suspert bis accom
plice. He fired wounding him in band and
■wasabout to fire again when unknown con
spirator rushed In and struck his arm.
This action resulted In turning weapon and
making Arbogast shoot himself Dunlap
is Incredulous, but verities story In part by
later Identifying body of Arbogast at
CHAPTER Xll—Banker calls upon Mrs,
ArboK.ist. While with her she receives let
ter written by her husband telling of de
falcation and expected flight. He has by
mistake allowed a depositor to overdraw
account. Chatham has discovered mis
take. and for fear of losing position Arbo
gast allows himself to be used by Chatham
and a Mr. Seymour. By false entries Sey
mour has drawn fcSD.Oua. Change in method
of book keeping was about to expose the
matter. Arbogast tells his wile to give
Dunlap confession as soon as he has es
CHAPTER XIII—The afternoon of crime
Chatham had had occasion to nse tele
phone. Sturgis learns he had been con
nected with the Manhattan Chemical com
pany, a mysterious concern not known to
commercial agencies. At office of chemical
concern Sturgis places detectives,
CHAPTER XIV-Sprague next morning
finds letter .Viss Murdock had dropped in
his studio, and decides to return it in per
CHAPTER XV- He reaches her home,
end Is announced just In time to Inter;, re
with Implied threat of Chatham, who lias
forced his attentions upon Agnes, and with
dangerous looking paper knife In hand has
declared: “It I don't marry you, no one
ever shall." After Chatham leaves. Agues
gives way to hysterical w* < ping, ’ tit is
soon comforted by her now accepted lover
CHAPTER XVl—Sturgis traces Chat
hams movements as far as Hr. Thurston's
house. Doctor had just developed Roent
gen ray photograph showing position of
bullet In accountant's forearm.
CHAPTER XVII Reporter now goes to
vicinity of Manhattan i ’hemlcal office De
tectives report Chatham to have twice
entered the place, hut not seen to have
come out either time. Murdock s house Is
on not street directly behind chemical
concern. Here Sturgis gains admission,
and overhears Chatham's excited voice
threatening "to give the whole thing
CHAPTER XVlll—Sturgis has come tc
get rear view of chemical office, but gives
as his reason desire for Interview with
chemist regarding recent experiment
Murdock asks reporter into labor:. ton.
hut Sturgis remembers engagement arid
CHAPTER XlX—Meeting Sprague out
side the two go lor warrants and police to
search chemical concern. Arriving, Stur
gis-with skeleton key opens two doors
then leaving police and detectives he and
Sprague descend to cellar, follow an un
derground passage and come to Murdock's
laboratory. Here is found a vai from
which reporter carefully Ashes out a hit
of lead which appears to he a flattened
CHAPTER XX—Sturgis finds vat con
tains fluid that dissolves lone as well s
flesh The bullet just found shows how
Chatham had hut a little before met his
end Murdock coming from above dis
covers the men. Sturgis llres, but he re
in ats In safety.
ptintty in a city like New York, at the
?nd of the nineteenth century ?" asked
“Yes; when it is done in Ihe system
atic and scientific manner 1 hat has been
employed here. For this murderer is
the most remarkable criminal of mod
ern times. He has not been satisfied
with killing liis victims; he has sue
ceedcd in completely wiping them out.
>f existence. Criminals have often at
tempted to destroy the bodies of their
victims, but they have never before suc
ceeded as this man has. He is n chem
ist of remarkable talent, and be has
discovered a compound in which bone
as well as human tissue is rapidly and
totally dissolved. There it is in yon
der tank. See how completely the
liquid has destroyed the bone handle
of this knife."
Sturgis, after showing the damaged
knife to his companion, resumed liis
whittling tiiion the cover of the box
on which the artist was seated.
“Chatham's body has been dissolved
in that tank within a very short time.
It has entirely disappeared; this flat
tened bullet alone is left, lead being 1
one of tin* few substances which are
not soluble in the contents or the
tank. Fortunately he overlooked that
fact, lienius has its lapses."
Presently Sprague ventured to say:
“If numerous crimes have been com
mitted here, as yon intimate. I do not
understand how ii is that suspicion
has never rested on this house be
“The author of these crimes has
taken every precaution to render the
chance of discovery quite remote. His
dwelling-house on one street, and the
bogus Chemical company on the other,
are in communication through this
underground passage, while appar
ently having no connection with each
other. Moreover, he is too shrewd to
make frequent use of this death cham
ber. That does well enough as a last
resort, when he is obliged to commit
the murders with his own hands; but
I* suspect that this man has other
agents like Chatham, who do the
dirty work for him and then quietly
ship the bodies here for annihilation,
as it as intended should be done
with Arbogast's. Ah! yes; 1 thought
so. Yon are sitting upon one of these
Sprague started to his feet; and,
following the direction in which Stur
gis was pointing with his open knife,
he vaguely discerned, through the
opening which the reporter had whit
tled. a small surface of what had
once been the features of a human
After gazing for some minutes in
horror-stricken silence at the distort
ed face, the artist asked in a low
“How did Chatham meet his death?"
“1 don't know yet,” answered Stur
gis, gravely; "this man is no ordinary
criminal. His work is clean and
leaves no blood-stains and no disorder
to tell of its accomplishment. He
takes life with his own hands only
w hen he is forced to do so: but. when
he does, his method is masterly. It
was easier to make away with Chat
ham than to pay Inn the price agreed
upon for his complicity in the Knick
erbocker bank embezzlement; and so
his life was taken. I hope to discover
how before 1 leave here."
Sprague started as the reporter
“The price of his complicity?" he
claimed, laying his hand upon Sturgis'
arm and looking earnestly into his
"Yes," replied the reporter, steadi
ly meeting his friend's gaze, “his
daughter’s hand "
Sprague looked away from the hon
est eyes of the reporter, as if he
dreaded to read in them the answer
to his next question.
“\Vlm is this fiend incarnate, who
is willing to traffic in his own flesh
and blood, and with whom murder is
“The man who is capable of these
crimes, and of any others which
might serve to remove an obstacle
from his way is—"
The reporter did not finish his sen
tence. He suddenly grasped his com
panion by the arm and stood trans
fixed, his eyes dilated, his neck craned
in a listening attitude, every muscle
tense like those of a wild animal in
ambush about to spring upon its ap
Presently a click was heard as
though a bolt had been shot from i’s
“Draw your revolver!" Sturgis whi
P'rul hoarsely to his companion.
"Quick! Look there!"
At tlie same time he drew his own
weapon ap.d pointed 'in the direction
c f tin* door at the head of the stairs.
Tin and ir open' and and a man entered,
quietly smoking a cigar.
"Dr. Murdock!" exclaimed Sprague
Murdock. Still holding the door ajar,
eyed the two men for an instant, his
impassive face betraying not the
slightest sign of emotion. Then, tak
ing his cigar from his Jips;
“Ah. gentlemen." he drawled, in his
ironical way. "I am delighted to see
you. I trust you will make yourselves
perfectly at home for a few minutes.
I shall return directly. Yon cun con
tinue to work out your little prob
lem in the meantime. Mr Sturgis,”
With these words he calmly turned
to leave the room.
"Stop!" shouted Sturgis, leveling
his revolver at Murdock's head; “stand
where you are or I fire!"
The reporter's shot rang out almost
before he had finished his sentence;
tint Murdock, unscathed, passed out
of the room, closing the door behind
Sprague, dazed by the rapidity with
which this scene had been acted, stood
rooted to the spot. without having
unde any attempt to use the revolver
winch he had drawn at Sturgis’ bid
The reporter sprang up tin s’airs
and threw hi- against the
floor. Hut it was doubtless intended
to withstand great shocks, for it re
“All, GENTLEMEN. I AM DELIGHTED
TO SEE YOC."
“Check!" mine the sound of a mock
ing voice from the other side of the
Then, rushing down the stairs
again. Sturgis shouted to his com
“Conic quick! \Ye must get out of
And he led the way through the
subterranean passage .Twanl the cel
lar of the Manhattan Chemical com
THE DEATH CHAMBER.
Before the men had gone many
steps a grating sound reached their
ears from the direction of the sky
light. They looked up and saw slid
ing steel shutters slowly and ponder
ously close, like grim jaws; and sud
denly they felt themselves cut off
from the outside world.
Sturgis, taking tip his lighted can
dle. made his way to the door of the
subterranean passage and tried in
vain to open it; the heavy iron bolt
remained immovable in its socket.
Inch by inch he scrutinized the door
with growing anxiety. At last he
abandoned the search and returned in
the direction of the square chamber.
“That explains why he wanted to
shut me in here when 1 was in his
office." he muttered under his breath.
“What is the matter?” asked
"Wc are caught like rats in a trap.”
replied Sturgis. Then with feeling he
added: “I do not know how this will
end. old man. 1 have bungled, and 1
fear the game is lost. If our lives are
the forfeit, you will owe your death to
Sprague looked at bis friend, as if
surprised tu hear him apparently
abandon 1 lie tight.
"Don't worry about me," he said,
kindly: "1 came here of my own free
will. Hut," he added, us a vision of
Agues Murdock flashed upon his mind.
"1 have no intention to die just yet,
if I can help it. Are we nut both able
bodied men and armed? What can one
man do against two?"
"It is nut an open tight," said Stur
gis. "but 1 am gl id to see your spirit.
1 do not give up; but 1 want you to
realize that we are it a critical aitua
t ion, with I he odds enormously against
"Why, what can Murdock do?”
“Perhaps what he did to Chatham.
It will probably not be long before we
discover what that was,"
"Hut there must be some way of
opening that door from the inside."
"There evidently is none," replied
Sturgis; “he probably controls these
doors from the outside by electrical
The men were back in the square
chamber. Sturgis' eyes were roving
restlessly over the walls, ceiling and
floor in search of a loophole ot escape.
"There is no chance to reach the sky
light without a ladder; and even if we
could reach it. we should be no fur
ther advanced, as it would be impos
sible to make any impression on the
steel shutters. That leaves the regis
ter ami the speaking tube. While I
examine the register, suppose you try
the tube. If it connects with the Man
hattan Chemical company’s otlice,
there in a I are ehauee that we may at-
M'i.et the attention of the detectives
whon we left there,”
“As wi ui re saying, M. . Sturgis—”
i’he words came in Murdock's mock
Sturgis quickly held the light* <1 can
dle above Ids head and peered in the
lireetinn wdience came the sound. A
panel of the door at the head of the*
stairs had been pushed up, revealing a
small opening, covered by a strongand
closely-woven wire netting.
“As we were saying, ‘murder will
out I' Nevertheless, it is sometimes
easier to weld a chain, even of circum
stantial evidence, than it is to pre
dict who will be bound in it.”
Sturgis anil Sprague stood in the
glimmering light of the candle, silent
ly watching the glowing eyes lx hind
“Mr. Sturgis, you are a clever man.”
continued 1 Murdock, “an uncommonly
• lever man. I frankly admit that 1
had underrated your ability. Hut then
w e are all fallible, after all. I made my
.-hare of blunders, as you seem to have
discovered; but you will doubtless now
concede that your own course has not
been entirely free from errors. And
now that we have reached the conclu
sion of this interesting game, I have
the honor to announce: ‘Mate in one
ino\e!’ Perhaps y on are surprised t hat
1 should I ak'- the 1 rouble to explain the
situation to you so clearly. Idoso in
recognition of your superior iutelli-
pence. 1 set In you a peer. If matters
could have been so arranged, I should
have been proud to work in harmony
with such a man as you; and indeed,
when a short time ago I invited you to
i my laboratory, it was my intention to
i offer you a compromise which I hoped
! I might be able to persuade you to ac
cept, I fell that you would prove an
ally who could be trusted. Hut, alas, !
that is impossible now, on account of j
your friend’s presence. With all due
respect to Mr. Sprague, as an amiable
man of the world and a prince of good
fellow,-, it nmy be said that he is not
one if ns. Much to my sorrow, there
fore. I am left no alternative to the
I course 1 am about to adopt. Ihe fault. '
if anybody's, is your own. after all, Mr.
Sprague. There is a honu ly but ex- ;
pressive adage concerning the danger
of ‘monkeying’ with a buz/ saw. Why.
my dear friend, did you ‘monkey’ with
Mr. Sturgis' buzz saw, instead of stick
ing to your palette and maulstick?
"But I fear 1 am growing garrulous,
gentlemen. If I had time. I should like
to explain to Mr. Sturgis the details
of some of the more important, and. in
m\ humble opinion, more brilliant
themes of which I have been the all
—the promoter; for I dislike to be
judged by the bungling operations
widen have so nearlv caused tie to lose
this latest little game. But this can
not be. 1 shall have to continue to con
fide to the pages of my journal, as I
have done for years, the interesting
events of. I may say. a somewhat re
markable career, which I hope will
some day. after my death, find their
wuv in print to public favor. M\ dream
has always been that sonu siieh man
as Mr. Sturgis might ultimately edft
these memoirs; but, alas, the loudest
of human dreams arc seldom destined
to lie realized.
".Now. then, gentlemen, before final
ly parting with you. 1 wish to honor
ably carry out the terms <d my wager
with Mr. Sturgis. I concede the fact
that, to alt intents and purposes, he
has won the bet. and I authorize you,
Mr. Sprague, as stnkchohlei to pay
him the amount I deposited with you.
As I have already suggested, he lias
made some perhaps excusable mis
takes; but, then, as he himself stated
the other night, ‘a detective has a life
time in which to correct a blunder.’
A lifetime! It is not in accordance with |
Mr. Sturgis’ usual practice to use so j
vague a term. A lifetime is not neees- !
sarily a very long time, Mr Sturgis." j
During this tirade Sturgis and
Sprague had remained standing with
their eyes fixed upon the gleainingear- j
buncles which peered at them from be- !
hind the grated peephole at the top of
the stairs. The artist seemed to real- j
ize that the tight was lost. Hisattifude
was that of a brave man accepting,
with calm despair, an unpleasant but
inevitable doom. The reporter had
Irawn his revolver at In lirst sound
if Murdock's voice, but had immedi
ately returned if to bis pocket upon
'•ealiziug that the chemist was protect
d by a bullet-proof grating. Now. pale
and collected, he remained inscrutable.
'I was impossible, even, for the sharp
■yes of Munlock, t o determine whether
;e was at Inst resigned to his fate, or
whether his active mind was still on
he alert for a loophole of escape.
The bit of candle which he held in
his hand had burned so low that at last
he was unable to bold it without risk
f burning his fingers. Whereupon he
coolly set it down upon the stone floor,
when presently the wick fell over inti
a pool of inolden paraffine, and the
flame sputtered noisily, sending fitful
gleams through the darkness.
“Well,” continued Murdock's voice,
‘it is at any rate a gn at satisfaetion
to play a game with an adversary
worthy of one's steel. Vou have pint o’
".ell, Mr. Sturgis, I liiuk you would
have won i taler; ly; ' you are losing
is I would r- \‘ If li:i\• ■ lost, had > ur
'ositinns been rever-i i tiood-bye."
The gleaming eyes and appeared on
lie e rat ing and the sliding pane) Hosed
\it h a metallic click.
"Now, then,” saiil St urgis to his com
panion. "the last chance lies in tin
speaking lube. But Hr t help me move
"What do you want to do with the
ox?" asked Sprague, who, however,
lid as he was bid. „
“It mnv help us to gain a little time.
But it down here."
Sturgis struck a match and pointed
out the spot.
"On the hot-air regi ter?’’
"On what looks like i hot-air regis
ter. Di<\ you ever sc a hot-air regis
ter wit h no apparent means of shutting
off t he heat ?"
Sp ague. wiio slivid almost over the
register, suddenly threw bat k his head
and gasped for breath
‘‘Von have diseovi red the secret of
(his death trap.” said v ( urgis, observ
“Has!" spluttered tin artist.
"Vi s. he is going to asphyxiate us.
Now . quick, to ihe sprat ing tube! The
box will somewhat retard the rush of
gas; but. at the tiest.i' is only a ques
tion of minutes before the air becomes
so charged as to render respiration
sprague rushed to the speaking-tube
, and whistled long and loud, after
j which he placed his ear to the mouth
“I hear Romecme walking," he sud
i dealt exclaimed.
The two men listened in breathless
silence for an answering call.
"Wi‘l, gentlemen, what can I do for
The words came in Murdock’s voice.
Sprague's eyes met Dose of the re
i porter and saw that (In last faint glim
i mer of hope was gone. In that swift
and silent interchange of thought
there was resignation to the inevitable
doom and the final farewell of two
Ihe spluttering candle gave ts last
flicker and went out, having the pris
oners in utter dnrknt >
The room was rapidly filling with
ens and they were beginning to feel its
T ' .
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No. 1206 Washington St.
"We can at least complete our task
before we die.” said Stnrpis, with prim
"Ves, anti insure Murdock’s convic
tion for our murder,"
“What chance is there that anyone
will ever discover our bodies, since 1 hey
are destined for Murdock's oblivion
"(iive me your hand." Stnrpis re
plied; “there is a box of matches. I
place it here, between within easy
reach. I want to write a few words
to the superintendent of police to ex
plain matters. l!y that time there
will be enonph pas in the room to
produce a terrific explosion when we
sfrikt a match. We can thus succeed
in wreckinp this place aid callinp at
tention to if. If I should succumb
before yon do. do not fail to lipht
While he was speakintr the reporter
had taken from his pocket a pad and
a peueil and had hepnn to write as
rapidly as lie could in the darkness,
Sprapne’s head was In pinninp to
swim and ids ears were rinpinp. hut
the tiionplit of \pnes Murdock was
upi ermo.-t iu his mind.
"An explosion!" tie exclaimed; “no,
no; that must not lie. What of
Apm s She may be hurt?”
•Stnrpis continued writirp.
"It is the only chance there is of
hrinpinp Murdock to justice," lie said,
"itut Apnea is innocent of his
crinu s." nrped the artist, in a thick
voice. llis tonpnc clove to Ids palate;
he felt his conscioii-.nl -.s ebbiup.
"Why slionld she suffer? I am po
inp. old man—l cannot hold out any
lunpvr Promise me that you that
you will not —strike the match
lie stappered and fell npainst the
reporter, who caupht him in his
arms, 11 is own senses were rccllnp.
“Promise " pleaded the half-uncon
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