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I The Protestor of Finance Hj rr* N Isles of Resilius Marvel, Guardian of Bank Treasure I By WELDON J. COBB THE FOURTEENTH MAN t Copyright, \V. CÏ. Chapman , |HS2S2S2S2SÏSc5a5HS2S2S2Sc5HScS2S15ZSSScSÏ5Z5HSZ5ESHSE5Z5ZSZ525HS?i I T WAS a hard task that the presi dent of one bank had given me. A standard financial institution is rarely desirous of doing business with a woman, at least beyond the ai» re depositor basis. In the present instance it was not only a woman, but i young and pretty one. Add 1o this the fact that the Judy Ln question was n deep distress, that her case pre sented angles suggesting evasion and even mystery, and yon will not won >er why every official of the bank from Jhe president down to the assistant cashier had shied ut the task which I was now obliged to shoulder. ' Do the best you can to get our money out of this muddle," the presi dent had told me tersely, handing mo the folder which contained all the papers in the case from the day, four years back, where Itoyal Luding tua, member of the Hoard of Trade, bad made hia initial deposit with our bank down to and beyond the recent date of his sudden death. The rec ord of his dealings with our institu -tion up to the time of hi3 demise was clear as crystal. A child could have read and understood, pretentious as to magnitude, and importance as had been some of his dealings. Direct and margin accounts were cleanly attended to. There was not a mar cr break in the admirable paying system of Royal Lutiiagtoa. When death dosed the account, however, we held his note unsecured for 5:17,950; and v,.' held it still, past due, uncollect able, to our bewilderment, in any legal way. 1 familiarized myself with all the details of the case through a hurried glance over the contents of the folder, tidied collar and coat wi.th a twist of toy hand, a,nd put ta my best bank ing face to enter the private office of the directors' room where I had been advise 1 Miss Grace Ludingtou was awaiting attention. ' I came about this," she said in a t rie exld-likc, confiding, slightly re proachful, all at once. The letter she handed mo notified Mrs. Royal Lud K.gton that the overdue paper of her dead husband required immediate settlement, rather strictly referring to the fact that no attention had been paid to previous notifications of the same fact. I turned it over and over in my hand, seeking to fix upon the manner I should assume in serving the best interests of the bank in dealing with an emissary instead of the chief person now in interest in the case. "I see," I observed, trying to gain time, for I am not a ready diplomat; but v. by did not Mrs. Royal Luding ton—your mother—" the fair head bowed "—come herself?" A wavs of singular intensity crossed the face of the young girl. Her lips j,ai ted to speak. Then she subdued tbeir expression. They quivered. Her t yes dropped, her cheeks grew the I aler. ''She would not come," was spoken finally—"she will not come." • Surely," I observed, "Mrs. Royal Ludington does not repudiate the ob ligation V" "For the present—yes." "Yet we have notations here that ■show transfers of property within the fast month representing over $20,000. Aside from that two notes have passed through the bank for $10,000 »which she has seen fit to pay prompt 8y Those notes were signed by your father, not by your mother. Why does she discriminate unfairly against the bank in caring for your father's obligations? I refer to the notes given by your father to one Abel fc'andainann." "My message, is," she said evenly, voldly "that there are circumstances jencouraging our fervent hopes, the ^possible relief of the bank, that you &nd ourselves must wait for—must. ' It was her last word. With a mo tion of head and body that was all it should be, with the air of an empress ishe went from the room, and I stood «staring blankly after her, analyzing tf^very word she had said, weighing it, klissectine it. seized with a sudden in spiration hnd carrying it forthwith to «he president of the bank. He was la man of few words and I lent my fcelf to his system. "It is simply—wait, I said. He shrugged his shoulders, knowing # had done my full duty. • No pressure possible, then, you ^Nono at the present time. There jis action possible, though," I said. "You mean?" "Resilius Marvel." "Get him." When the bank—or any other bank -said ''get Resilius Marvel." it signi fied the abandonment of direction or opinion. It meant unrestricted power awarded Marvel, great man that he was-be, the brains, mouthpiece and active director of the great United Kankers' Protective association. Mar £e, not n collector for tb. bank, t Ie was the last resource, the final court of appeal in a case when the layman in investigatory science came face to face with a blank wall, threw %U cards, and left tbs gams tb an *"y rl 'friond listened patiently, but rather bered I fancied, to my tame of what had seemed quite sen .cry sational at my first impetuous view of it. He made a brief notation now and th -ii on a tab of paper of the dry details i gave him of the Ludingtou affair. I had brought the folder with me, the dossier in which the credit department was supposed to store up everything concerning a client and keep it up to date. As I closed it he asked the question; "That is all you have?" "Except the newspaper clippings re ferring to the death of Mr. Luding ton." I replied. The newspaper story was simple and plain. It was only because the circumstance» were out of the ordi nary and the decedent an apparently successful business man, that the pub lic prints had given any space to the death of the exchange trader. It was a chill March evening when he had been found dead, lying against a building. There was no evidence whatever that ho had been assailed. The contents of his pockets were un disturbed. There were no marks of violence on his body. He carried no life insurance, but an autopsy was held by the coroner. The inquest develop d nothing new. According to two expert physicians Royal Luding ton had died from heat* failure. He had been ailing and depressed for sonic time preceding his demise. | There was not the slightest hint at suicide. The police, tracing tho movements of tlie decedent previous to liis death, testified at the inquest that Luding tou had been one of a small party of friends who had met at the home of Abel Vamiamann. The latter was an apparently reputable business man of the city of some wealth and social standing. Tho occasion of the social function was the grouping up of a number of business men to whom Vandamanu wished to present a stock selling scheme to float a copper mine j in Northern Michigan. A pleasant evening had passed, a few cigars, not too much wine, and the guests had departed in pleasant humor and seemingly all in the best of health. Two of the guests had walked some distance with Ludington, and had bade him good night about a square and a half from the spot where his body was later discovered. Mrs. Ludington bad testified that she knew' her husband to have had business dealings for a long time pre vious to liis death with Mr. Vanda niann. The latter she understood had loaned her husband money. This wa3 not a new phase of the character of Vandamann. His business was that of a high interest rate note shaver, but he had been always shrewd enough to conceal his usurious trans actions under the guise of expenses, commissions and the like. This was the story toid by the newspaper clippings I handed to Resi lius Marvel. .Pasted to it was a briefer item dated two days later. It had been preserved in the folder be cause it mentioned the name of Royal Ludington. It covered a strange hap pening. On the-evening of the funer al of the dead trader, a man had been detected in leaving by the win dow route the room Ludingtou for merly occupied at his home. A watch man had trapped him as the mid night marauder dropped to the ground. He was held until the police were summoned and was sent to the near est police station. Upon searching him nothing whatever was found up on him. He seemed to he some home less tramp, he had taken nothing from the room he had entered, and when questioned declared with a fool ish grin that he had been looking for something to eat, struck a sleeping chamber instead of a pantry, and was too honest to steal anything more than a bite of food. The contention of the man was car ried out in the main by circumstances. The room he had entered had not been at all disturbed. Upon the bu reau lay the trader's purse with some money and papers in It. This had been opened, but nothing removed. A suit of clothes in a closet had been looked over, it seemed, but not even the pockets had been searched. The marauder, giving the name of Edward Briggs, had been brought be fore a police magistrate, charged w ith vagrancy, and sent to the house of correction for sixty days. I noticed that my friend read and re-read the little clipping telling all this. I noticed him mark on the pad the name—"Edward Briggs." I saw also that he copied the names of the two guests who had left the \ anda mann home with the trader the night of his death. Then he arose, and I could tell by the expression of his eye that he was ready for work. Further, I regarded him with the ad miration his ability always evoked within me, for although I could not guess how, I was sure that out of the bare skeleton fabric of an unpaid note at bank, a weeping girl and two newspaper clippings, Resilius Marvel had already discovered a diverging suggestion, direct and important. "Drop around in the morning," he said casually. "You were right to bring this case to my notice." I told the president of our bank this, later. In the light of past events In which Resilius Marvel had been he concerned, that functionary smiled ' | hopefuly as if he felt he had landed the burden of a distributing circum stance on helpful and reliable shoul ders. I found Marvel pacing the floor of his office in a thoughtful way, hia hands clasped behind him. when I called the next morning. He drew out his watch and consulted it with a slight gesture of impatience, as though 1 had kept him waiting. "Two minutes," he announced, "and then you will come with me. There is a person to find, and no time to lose." "And the person?" I intimated. "The fourteenth man." I stared helplessly at Marvel. He kept up hi3 restless walk, puncturing each step with a sentence rapid and enlightening. "There was nothing unusual nor suspicious as to tho social function which transpired at the Vandamann home," spoke Marvel. "There was no motivo to it, no plan or anticipation of foul play. Get that clear in your mind in the first place. A strange thing occurred, however, just as the guests were about to be seated at the table. It was discovered that there were just 1:5 persons present." I began to receive a glimmer of where a "Fourteenth Man" might come in. "That arose which might readily arise where one man of a group is superstitious. Such a man was pres ent—he was the man who died, Royal I Ludington" lie was probably in a j mood for weird forebodings. Vanda- : maun did not debate the point, lie ; excused himself to his guests, put on j his hat went out into the street and i apparently picked up the first man j he met to break the hoodoo." "And this man?" I asked. "Known to none of them, apparently some city wreck on error's shore, a freakish contrast in his attire to the perfectly dressed guests, quietly took his place at the table, maintained the j lli/ ill thT » m m //(•/«A l Vc I m wr m / m 'll ' SHE WOULD NOT COME','WAS SPOKEN FINALLY "SHE WILL NOT COME." 1 J ! ! the city. I followed after my friend j at his bidding as he went to the office j of the captain. I Marvel named a date—it was the \ day of the funeral of Royal Luding- : ton. He gave a name. It was Ed- ! ward Briggs, the man arested at the ; Ludington home that same night. The | official consulted the record book. He * read its details ending with the sixty days' sentence of the prisoner. silence he was paid to maintain, ate like the hungry man he was, and then seemed to disappear, his paid mission executed." "And you now seek to find this man?' "He must be found," declared Marvel positively. "Why?" "Because I am satisfied he can ex plain the mystery in this case." "There is a mystery, then?" "A deep one. That matters not now. I wish to show you something. As a memento of the first meeting of the organizers of the Copper Queen Mining company, a flash photograph was taken. That is the group." My friend drew from his pocket a card four by eight inches and held it before me. "That is Vandamann," he explained, indicating the broker, whom I recog nized—"that Ludington," I knew him, too. "That," and by some irony of fate the forlorn, frowsy figure at the far end of the table seemed to have been focussed more prominently than any of the others—"that is the Four teenth Man." I studied the face with interest. It3 ow ner was apparently one of the stray waifs of the city to be picked up any where in the crowded center within a five minutes' walk. "Come with me," directed Marvel. He hailed a taxicab as we reached the street. It conveyed us to a police station ln the residence portion of Photographed?" inquired my friend. "So noted—No. 8 7 96." "That is all—thanks," nodded Mar ' vel, and within ten minutes we were at the identification bureau. "The Fourteenth Man—Edward Briggs," he observed, as No. S796 was produced, and he held it beside the ila-hlighf photograph of tho Vanda nutnn function. There was no doubt as to the conclusion he had arrived at. Tiie faces were identical. 1 was won dering what all this was going to lead to while the bureau official was ex plaining that although only a misde meanor had been charged against the prisoner, it had been thought best to take his picture for possible past and future reference. Marvel went over to a phono and called up the house of correction. 1 had done some brief calculating in my mind. Edward Briggs had yet ten days of his sentence to serve, so we were in time, if that meant anything, I decided. We were not in time, 1 knew instantly, as my friend hung up the receiver with the words. "Not there—pardoned out." Our next visit was to the mayors office. Marvel knew ali the ropes. There was no indecision or waste of time in his procedure. There was no reluctancy on the part of the mayor's secretary in giving him access to all the records of the office. 1 was close enough to the desk of the secretary to catch what, was said. Edward Briggs bad been sent to the house of correction on the day he ap peared in court. On the one ensuing, he was pardoned out on the recomnnn dation of Alderman Miles Ryner. Ah, j here it was, observed the clerk—letter : to the mayor from the councilman in ; question. Request that a pardon be j granted as the criminal cnarge of i housebreaking had not been pressed; j introduces Mr. Abel ^ Vandamann, valued constituent, who would vouch for the general good character of Ed ward Briggs and practically accept parole conditions in behalf of the pris oner. "That establishes something more than a mere incidental connection be I tween these two men, I fancy," ob served Marvel as we went outside again. ' r And what of that—and what next?" I inquired. "Well, when I locate our Four teenth Man it will be a forward step, of course," observed Marvel. "We go back to the Ludington end of the chain now', however. Do you think you know the daughter of the house well enough to venture a call upon her?" ' For what purpose?" I inquired doubtingly. "To induce her to come to my of fice." I ruminated. I considered the effort to move Miss Grace Ludington from her stated position hopeless, and my friend knew' instantly that so I thought. Ho went on, however, re gardless of my opinion. "You will inform Miss Ludington that it is vital that 1 should see her —two to four today. She had better come alone. Tell her that it has noth ing to do with the money of the bank, that it is not a question of cash, but of—family honor." I could not for the life of me imagine under what dark curtain Resi lius Marvel was gazing, but there was an indescribably lucid accuracy in the broad hint that he was about to strike a note with the young lady that would influence her more than promises or threats. He suggested explicit}', be fore I left him, the course I was to pursue in dealing with Miss Luding ton. I went straightway to her home, lingered about Its vicinity while frnin ing the manner of my approach, and accepted the opportunity offered as she appeared with some ietters in her hand to mail at the nearest letter | box. * T am not here in behalf of the bank, Miss Ludington," I stated con cisely. I come from a friend and profeseicnal man who has been pur suing some investigation regarding tho circuicstances surrounding the death of your father. They are, he as- 1 sures me, of sufficient importance to | require your attention. You have heard of Resilius Marvel?" "1 have read about him," was the reply, shrinking and muffled. • If you knew Mr. Marvel as 1 knew him, you would trust to his earnest desire to be always helpful,'' I con tinued. "He seeks only to protect the family honor." "Stop." cried Miss Ludington sud denly, sharply interrupting me, throw ing aside her veil and presenting a colorless, defiant face. "What do you know—what does he know?" "1—1, nothing," I stammered, fairly abashed at the resolute challenge— he, everything, probably. From two to four—you will see him?" "I will see Mr. Marvel," she said slowly, and passed on her way. "She was adamant to every attack I made to win one intimation, the faintest clew as to what she and her mother are holding back," Resilius Marvel narrated to me the next morn ing. "This girl is spanning ten years of'her life with the agony, the resolve of one. She is under some terrific stress, and there is some influence that is holding these two women un der a dreadful thrall." "She would tell you nothing?" I asked. "Until the last, absolutely nothing, except to beg that I would not disturb a condition that only she and her mother could remedy. She arose to leave. Suddenly she fixed her eyes upon me. I saw her studying me as if to search me through and through. I noted the flush of some impelling force in her face. 'Mr. Marvel,' she said, 'you claim a wish to be helpful to us, and I believe you, but this Is a case where help from your viewpoint, instead of assisting us, might precipi tate a direful catastrophe. But you are said to be a man who can find where others fail, who from the shadow can evolve a reality. You can do something for us, imperative, vital, if you can inform us what we cannot learn—the whereabouts of a certain person—you will bring us nearer to the light for the end.' " "And the person?" 1 inquired. Resilius Marvel handed me a worn photograph. Jt was tiiat of a woman loud of dress, bold of face, wicked of i eye. She had a certain wild beauty, | but her smile was that of one who I lures only to destroy. On the reverse Id or of It of the card were these words: "Al ways as now—ldalia." I wondered what was passing in the mind of my friend at this new element injected into the Ludington case. He did not see fit to enlighten me. He called for me at the bank the next day. "A witness is sometimes handy," he observed, and as we went spinning along the boulevard south he briefly told of hia success in locating this new woman in the case. "The name of the photographer was a guiding clew," he advised me. "He did not know ldalia,' but he knew a friend of hers, an actress. From this friend I learned the whereabouts of the original of the picture. She is the inmate of the reformatory, on a sen tence for robbery. We are going there." A woman clad in light blue cotton uniform was called to us, after we had reached the place in question. She came into the room where we awaited her, her eyes roaming everywhere in an attempt to surmise the motive of our visit. Promptly Marvel drew the photograph Miss Ludington had sup plied him from his pocket. "I have come to ask you a ques tion," he said. "How long have you known the man to whom you gave this photograph?" In an instant the prison restraint, the forced reserve of discipline, all self control went to the winds. The wo man first attempted to wrest the pic ture from the hand that held it to wards her to tear it to atoms. Her eyes glared like a tiger's, her face became distorted, she raved, sho trembled from head to foot, she poured out curses upon the man a memory of whom the photograph had evoked. "Listen," she cried. "Mark me, I swear it!—the day I am freed from here, be It when it may—I will kill him!" "You are too late," observed Marvel quietly. "I am too late?" she repeated, skep tically. "Yes, he has been dead for weeks." She laughed, this ldalia, this woman who made men shrink whom she did not cause to weep. "You came to draw me out, to de lude me," she scoffed. "From him! I see through you. Dead? Do you think I do not keep track of him through my friends on the outside, to be ready to know when, and where, and how I shall strike when the hour comes? Go back and tell Abel Vanda mann that from me." A low whistle, so low* that it would have been difficult to trace its source, proceeded from the lips of Resilius Marvel. He restored the photograph to his pocket. He made a motion to the attendant that his mission was ac complished. Ho said to me: "The case is complete." What he meant I groped vaguely in my mind to find out. He left me to think out one fact; that the photo graph was the property of Abel Vandamann, not of dead Royal Lud ington. Then how had it come into the possession of his daughter? Tim great man proved his last state ment to me- the following evening. I was seated in the office of the United Bankers' Protective association when there came a commotion in its ante room. Then a man was thrust into the private office by two officers in uniform. Marvel followed, and the one policeman retired at his words: | "I will he responsible for this man. [ 1 Now then, my friend, sit down and get | your breath i they were forgenes-to a large | amount, given I liatl further persuaded her At a glance I knew the prisoner It was Edward Briggs. He was frowsy, unkempt, savage looking, somewhat the worse for drink, and of lowering brow and set pugnacious lips. "What's all this?" he growled out. "You have been arrested for deadly assault upon one certain Vandamanu." observed Marvel. "It would have been more certain if Id had the show," retorted the fel low. "Did you hurt him much?" "Worse luck, no. The next time?" —the man glared across his knotted list. "On top of your last exploit," re marked Marvel, "it may be six months or a year this time. Unless you have, left a case of mayhem behind youfj down at. Vandamann «, I can promise' you a chance to get out of this mix-up —on conditions " "What conditions?" muttered the fellow, an evil eye fixed on both of us—suspicions and leery. "As the Fourteenth Man—" "What's that!" ejaculated Briggs with a start, and then he shrank back within himself, the barrier up, like a man in a trap "As the Fourteenth Man, you ofi course knew Royal Ludington." "Suppose 1 did?" "What did you take to his house the day of his funeral?" Briggs bored into tho questioner s face with his shrewd ferret eyes. Hoi shook his head "This is some kimV of a frame-up," he declared. "I don't say a word till 1 know what's doing# After some persuasion the man tolil It amounted to this: Scoundrel-hearted Abel Vandamann had seen an oppor tunity in tho sudden death of one of his victims to press fictitious claims He had utilized the Fourteenth Man in his plut. This had been to iiave^ Briggs visit the Ludington hornet surreptitiously, place the photograph) in a pocket of Ludington's coat, arid! in his desk a card bearing notations* of various amounts These, corresj ponded in amounts to alleged notes of the decedent, were later presented ; , his widow for payment. The wily schemer had convinced Mrs. Ludington that he held notes a a I I to to ac in to I in husband to be lieve that the borrowed money they represented had been squandered m gambling and in financing the extrava gant whims of the woman, ldalia. The notations, the photograph, all seemed to verify the foul misrepre sentations that brought sorrow ar.d dread to the wife and daughter of tho dead trader. Mrs. Ludington was a proud woman. The fear of disgrace, publicity, had made her the easy vic tim of the arch swindler, Abel Vanda mann. The demands of the broker were so extensive that his black-mailed victim found that after she had sacrificed her personal belongings to satisfy the notes, there would be no hope of liquidating the indebtedness at the bank. Resilius Marvel held a brief but productive interview with Abel Vanda ma mi the next day. Then he carried to the bank twelve, forged notes for $50,000, and a like amount in cash al ready extorted from Mrs. Ludington on similar forgeries. The bank there fore, lost nothing, and the Ludington« were restored to fortune and lifted from the shadow of a great grief. "There is such a thing as earthly retribution," observed Resilius Marvel to me one day. A column in a daily newspaper was the basis of the remark. It told of the murder in cold blood of Abel Vandamann. A stiletto had dealt him his death wound, so it might have been a woman. But his strong box was rifled, so it might have been a man. The police never found out, for tiie woman, ldalia, and the Fourteenth Man had disappeared as completely as though tho earth had opened and swal lowed them up. Now Make Dried Soup. One of the beneficial effects of the recent scare over a threatened short age of tin cans was an extended inves tigation into other possible methods of preserving food. The canned soup* manufacturers were among the most earnest seekers, for they were threat, ened with having their tin supply cut off at an early date. They have worked out a process for putting up a dried soup in powdered form ln container« of heavy wax paper. Similar systems of drying and packing vegetables nr** already ln use in Europe, but the soup idea represents American enterprise. Apparently, it will not come on the market, because tin cans are going to be more plentiful than was anticipated. "Getting By the Editor." Getting by the editor is the most fascinating of Indoor sports, says a writer in the Atlantic. When I was a journalist in the Freudian sens»« (tiiat is, as an unfulfilled wish), my churn and I devised a way Jo get money for all our articles. Each agreed when lie sent out a "story" to bet the other the price of the "story" that it wouldn't be accepted. That little arrangement took the sting out of a rejection completely ; and when you lost your pay. yon lia*! the glory of the acceptance. Why ami how the scheme broke down, I shalt not divulge. Could Do His Part. Frederick the Great heard of a Silesian clergyman who had a reputa tion of communicating with the spir its. He sent for him and received him with the following question: "Can you cal! up ghosts?" "At your pleasure, your majesty," | replied the clergyman, "but they won't [ come."