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j The Big-Town Round Up j
\ By William MacLeod Raine \ i Copyright hy William MacLeod Raine 5 £ ■ ~'. - - , . , . ■ AVAVWAV/.VAV^V////A%V.V 1 V.V/AV.V/AV.V/WAV/.VAV//.V//.V/.V/,V/.V/AVAhV/. , .V.V. , .V. , - , . , AW/WiW. CHAPTER XVl—Continued. —ll The trouble was that Wbitford was arguing from false premises. He was assuming (bat Clarendon was an inno cent man. whereas the clubman knew just bow guilty be was. Back of the ■killing lay a conspiracy which might come to light during the Investigation. He dared not face the police. Ills con- Helen ee was not clean enough. "Of course Dad's right. It’s the only way to save yotir reputation," Bea trice cried. "I’m not going to leave you till you promise to go straight down there to headquarters. If you don't you'll be smirched for life and you'd be doing something absolutely dishonorable." He came to time with a heart of heavy dread, "All right, Bee, I’ll go," he promised. "It’s nn awful mess, but I've got to go through with It, 1 sup pose." "Of course you have," she said with complete convictloii. "You’re md a quitter, and jou can't hide here like a criminal." "We'll have to be moving, Bee," her father reminded her, "You know we ba\e an appointment to meet the district attorney." Beatrice nodded. With a queer feel lug of repulsion she patted her fiance's cheek with her soft hand and wills pered a word of comfort to him. "Buck up, old boy. It won’t be half us lad .is you think. Nobody Is going to blame > mi,” Tb**y were shown out by the valet. "You don't want to be bard on Brotn fkdd. honey," Whit fort) told ids daugh ter after they had re-entered their car. "He's a parlor man. That's the way he’s been brought up. Never did a hard day's work in Ids life. Kverylldng made easy for Idm. If he'd ever rid den out a blizzard like (’lay or slink It out In a mine for a week without food after a cave in, be wouldn't balk on Hie Job before him. Bat lie's soft. And lie’s afraid of Ids reputation. Thai’s natural. I suppose.” Beatrice knew he was talking to save her feeling**. "You don't need to make excuses for him, Dad," sin* answered gently, with a wry smile. "I’ve got to give up. I don’t think I can go through with It." "You mean—marry him?" "Yes.” She added, with a Ann* of passionate scorn of herself: "I de serve what I’ve got. 1 knew nil the time I didn’t love him. It was sheer tMdflshnvss in me to accept him. 1 wanted what he had to give me." Her father drew a deep breath of re lief. "I'm glud you sue Mull, Hot*. I don't think he's good enough foe you. But I don't know tittyhody (hut is, come to Hint." “Thut's just your luirtinilly. I'm n mean little bounder or I novor should tinvo loti hint on," tint girl unsworod in Trunk disgust. Moth of I hoot foil smirched. Tito ho* linvlor of Itroinllold hud boon u rolioo tlon on Ihoin. They hud plokod him for it thoroughbred. and ho hud fulled thorn lit tho first lost. "Woll, i huvon’t boon proud of you In I lint nffuir," oonoodod Colin. "It didn't Room llko my girl to —" Ho limko off in ohnrnolerlstlo fashion to lioruto hot onvlronmont. "Il's lids emr.y town. Tho spirit of it gets Into n portion and ho meepls its standards, lad's got away from hero for u wltllo, sweetheart." “Aftor Clay is out of trouhio, Hud. I'll go with you liuok to Heaver or to Rurope or anywhere you say.'* “That's a deal," ho told hot* prompt ly. "We'll stay till ufior tho annual eloothm of tin* ooinpany and then go off on n honoytnoon together, Itoo." CHAPTER XVII Into the Hands of His Enemy. Hnrund waited alone for word to he Unshod hint Hint the debt lie owed day i.lmlsay had boon settled In full. A telephone lay on the desk close at hand and beside it was a wutoh. Tho ■eoond-hand tiokod its way Jerkily round and round tho circle. Kxeept for Unit tile stillness weighed on him imhoarnhly. Ho pared tip and down the room chewing nervously the end of mi unlit olgnr. For the good tidings which lie was anxious to hoar was nows of the dentil of tho strong young iaiy who had beaten him at every turn. Why didn't Collins got to the tele phone? Was It possildo that there had Ileon a slip-up. that I.lmlsay had again broken the trap set for him? Had “Klim's" nerve failed him? Or had Bromtleld been utmlde to bring the vic tim (o tin* slaughter? His mind went over the details again. Trite tiling had been well planned even to the unguarded door through which Collins was to escape. In (ho darkness "Mi I 111" could do the Job, make his get •way along with Have, and he safe from any chance of Identification. Bromtleld, to stive his own tilde, would keep still. If he didn't. Hurnnd was prepared to shift the murder upon Ids ■boulders. The minute-hniid of the watch passed down from Hie quarter to Hie half and from the half to the three-quarters. Nlill the telephone hell did not ring The gang leader began to sweat blood. Had someone bungled after all the ■are with whleb he had laid his plans? 4 A door slummed below. Hurtled fnotsti'im Hounded on tin* Hiulr trca'ln. Into tin* room hurst a man. "Slliii’m boon itoakefl/' In* blurted. "U’luit!" iMirand'H eyeH diluted. **AI Mnddock’s." “Who did It?” M b* (cuy In* was to gun." *‘i Jndsny V" "lUil'h do follow." "Did fin* bulls gel Lindsay?" "I'lrn bod him on do spot." "(Inn 'Slim.’ did ho?" "Nopo. Knocked him cold wit’ a chair. ('rucked Ids skull." "Is In* dead?" "He’ll novor bo deader. Pave grabbed this suokor Lindsay and yelled that In* He Paced Up and Down the Room, Chewing Nervously the End of an Unlit Cigar. done It. The bulls pinched him like 1 said right there." "IMd It happen In the dark?" "Sure as you’re a foot high. My Job was dousin’ the glims, and I done It right." "What about ‘Slim?’ Was he shoot •lag when he got It?" The other man shook his head. "This Lindsay man claims In* was. I talked wit* a hull afterward. Hey didn’t And no gun on ‘Slim.* The bull says there was no gun play." "What became of ‘Slim’s’ gun?" "Search me." Durand slammed a big fist exultant ly down on I In* desk. "Better than the way 1 planned It. If the gun’s gone, I’ll frame Lindsay for the chair. It’s Salt creek for Ids." Ho lost no time In getting Into touch with (lorllla Dave, who was under ar rest at the station house. From him he learned the story of tin* killing of Collins. One whispered detail of II tilled him with malicious glee. "The booh! lie’ll go to the death chair sure If I can frame him. We’re lucky BromAeld ran back Into the lit tle room. Up In front a dozen guys might have seen the whole play even In the dark." Durand spent the night strengthen ing the web he had'spun to destroy his enemy. He passed to and fro among those who had been arrested in the raid and he arranged the testimony of some of them to suit his case. More than one of the men caught in tin* drag net of the police was willing to see the affray from tin* proper angle In ex change for protection from prosecu tion. After breakfast Durand went to the Tombs, where Clay had been trans ferred at daybreak. ’•'You needn’t bring the fellow here," he told the warden. "I’ll go right to bis cage and see him. 1 wantta have a talk with him." Between two guards Clay climbed the Iron steps to an upper tier of cages at the Tombs. He was put Into a cell which held two beds, one above the other, as In tin* cabin of an ocean liner. By the side of the bunks was a narrow space Just long enough for a man to take two steps In the same direction. An unshaven head was lifted In the lower bunk to see why the sleep of Us owner was being disturbed. "Eve brought you a cell mate. Shiny," explained one of the guards. "Yon want to he civil to him. He's Just croaked a friend of yours." "For de love o’ Unwd. Who did he croak?" " ‘Slim* Jim Collins. Cracked him one on the bean and that was a-plenty. Hope you’ll enjoy each other’s society, gents." The guard closet! the door and departed. "Is that right? Did youse do up ’Slim,’ or was he klddfn* me?" "1 don’t reckon we’ll discuss that subject," said Clay blandly, but with a note of finality in his voice. "No offense, boss. It’s an honor to have so distinguished a gent for a cell pal. For that matter I ain’t no cheap rat myself. Dey pinched me for shovin' de queer. I’d ought to get fifteen years,” he said proudly. This drew n grin from Lindsay, though not exactly a merry one. "If you’re anxious for a long term you can EAST MISSISSIPPI TIMES, STARKSVILE, MISSISSIPPI have Rome of mine,'’ he told the coun terfelter. ''Maybe you'll go up Salt creek,” said Shiny hopefully. Afraid the alluHiou might not he un derstood, he thoughtfully explained that this wax the underworld terra for the electric chair. flay made no further comment. He found the theme a gruesome one. "Anyhow, I'm glad dey didn't put no holster nor damper-getter wit' me. I’m parlickler who I meet. De whole pro fesh Ik yellin' run down at de heel. I'm dead sick of rats who can’t do nothin' hut lift pokes," concluded the occupant of the lower berth with dis gust. Though Clay’s nerves were of the host he did very little slee|Ung that night. He was In a grave situation. Keen If he had a fair field his plight would he serious enough. Hut he guessed that during the long hours of darkness Durand was busy weaving a net of false evidence from which he could scarcely disentangle himself. I’nless Ilrotnfleld came forward at once as a witness for him, his case would he hopeless—and Clay suspected that the clubman would prove only a broken reed as a support. The fellow was selfish to the core. He had not, In the telling western phrase, the guts lo go through. He would take the line of least resistance. Beatrice was In his thoughts a great deal. What would she think of Win when the news came (hat lie was a murderer, caught by the police In a den of vice where he had no business lo be? Sonic deep Instinct of Ids soul told him that she would brush through the evidence to the essential truth. She had failed him once. She would never do It again. He felt sure of that. The gray morning broke, and brought with It the steaming smell of prison cooking, the sounds of the caged un derworld, the sense of life all around him dwarfed and warped to twisted moral purposes. A warden came with breakfast—a lukewarm, muddy liquid ho called coffee and a stew in which potatoes and hits of fat beef bobbed like life buoys—and Clay ate heartily while Ids cellmate favored him, be tween gulps, with a monologue on ethics, politics, and the state of society, as these related especially to Shiny the Shover. Lindsay was given to under stand that the whole world was “on de spud,” but the big crooks had fixed the laws so that they could wear diamonds Instead of stripes. I’resently a guard climbed the iron stairway with a visitor and led the way along the deck outside the tier of cells where Clay had been put. "He’s in seventy-four, Mr. Durand," the man said ns he approached, "i'll have to bent it. Come buck to the of fice when you're ready." The ex-pugilist had come to gloat over him. Clay know it at once. His pupils narrowed. He was lying on the bed, his supple body stretched at graceful ease. Not by the lift of nu eyelid did he recog nise the presence of his enemy. Durand stood In front of the cell, hands In pockets, the inevitable unlit black cigar in his mouth. On his face was a sneer of malevolent derision. Shiny the Shover bustled forward, all complaisance. “Pleased to meet youse, Mr. Durand.” The gang politician's Insolent eyes The Gang Politician's Insolent Eyes Went Up and Down Him. “I Didn't Come to See You." went up and down him. "i didn't come to see you." “'S allright. Glad to see youse. cay how," the counterfeit passer went a obsequiously. “Some day, when you've got time I'd like to talk wit' youse about gettln' some full money." "Nothin’ doin’, Sliluy. I'm not backin' you." said Jerry coldly. "You've got to go up tlie rtveg." "Y'ouse promised—" “Aw. what the h—i'g eatln’ you?" Shiny's low voice carried a plaintive Whine. "If you'd speak to de Judge—" “Forget It." Durand brushed the plea away with a motion of the hand. "It s your cell pal I’ve come to take a ]>•<.' at the one who's goln’ to the chair " \\ Hi one lithe movement Clay swung down to tin- floor. He sauntered for ward 1., the grating, Ids level gaze on the ward boss. “Shiny, this fellow’s rotten,” he said evenly and Impersonally. “He's not only a crook, hut he's a crooked crook. He'd throw down his own brother If It paid him.” Durand's cruel lips laughed. "Your pal's it little worried this mornln’. Shiny. Ho ain't slept much. Y’ou see the halls got him right. It’s the death chair foi him and no lifeboat In sight.” Clay loaned against the bars negll gonily. He spoke with a touch of lazy scorn. "Soe those scars on his face, Shiny the olio on (he check bone and above the eye. Ask him where he got ’em and how?” Jerry curs. and. He broke Into a storm of threats, anger sweeping over him in fnriem - gusts. He hud come to make sport of his victim and Lindsay sonicliou took the upper hand at once. He had this follow where he wanted him at last. Y'et the man’s soft voice still carried the note of easy contempt. If the Ario nan was afraid, he gave no least sign of it. "V.m'll si!'g another tune before I’m through with you,” the prize-fighter proplio-.ii a vafeeiy. Tin- wi-M.-.tur turned away and swung hark lo his upper benh. He knew, what he had before suspected, dial Durand was going to “frame” him If In- ooiild. That information gained, the iiiiia ic longer interested him. Sullenly Jerry left. There was no profit la Jeering at Lindsay, He was 100 entirely master of every situation that confronted him. Wiiliiu the hour Clay was wakened from sloop by another guard with word that he was wanted lit the office of the warden. He found waiting him there llentrlce and her father. The girl bloomed in that dingy room like a cac tus hi the desert. She came toward him with hands ex tended, in her eyes gifts of friendship and faith. "Oh. Clay!" she cried. "Much obliged, little pnrdner.” Her voice went to his heart like water to the thirsty roots of prickly pears. A warm glow heat through ids veins. The doubts Hint had weighed on him dur ing the night were gone. Beatrice be lieved in him. All was well with the world. He shook hands with Whltford. "Blamed good of you to come, sir.” "Why wouldn't we come?" demanded the mining man bluntly. “We’re here to do what we can for you.” Little wells of tears brimmed over Beatrice's lids. “I’ve been so worried." “Don't you. It’ll be all right.” Strangely enough lie felt now that It would. Her coming hud brought rip pling sunshine into a drub world. “I won’t now. I'm going to get evi dence tor you. Tell us all about it.” “Why, there isn't much to tell that you haven't read in the papers prob ably. He came a-shootiu' and was hit by u chair.” “Was it you that hit him?” “Wouldn’t I be justified?” he asked gently. "But did you?" For u moment he hesitated, then made up his mind swiftly. “Yes,” he told her gravely. She winced. "You couldn’t help it. How did you come to be there?" "I just dropped in.” “Alone?" “Y’es.” He had burned the bridges behind him and was lying glibly. Why bring Bromfleld into TtV She was going to marry him in a few days. If her fiance was man enough to come forward and tell tlie truth he would do so anyhow. It was up to him. Clay was not going to betray him to Beatrice. "Tlie paper says there was someone with yon.” . "Sho! Beporters sure enough have lively Imaginations.” “Johnnie told me you had an engage ment with Mr. Bromfleld." "Did you ever know Johnnie get any thing right?" "And Clarendon says lie was with you at Haddock's.” Clay had not been prepared for this cumulative evidence. He gave a low laugh of relief. “I’m an awful poor liar. So Bromfleld says lie was with me. does he?” “Y’es.” He Intended to wait for a lend before showing ids hand. "Then you know all. about it?" he asked carelessly. * Their eyes were on each other, keen and watchful. She knew he was con cealing something of importance. He had meant not to tell her that Brora fleld had been with him. Why? To protect the man to whom she was en gaged. She Jumped to the conclusion that he was still shielding him. “Yes, you’re a poor liar. Clay." she agreed. "You stayed to keep back Col lins so us to give Clarendon a chance to escape.” “Did I?" “Cun you deny it? Clarendon heard the shots was running down stairs." “He told you that, did he?" “Yes.” “That ought to help a lot If I can PT*e Collins was siioottn’ at me I nan plead self-defense." “That's what It was, of course," "Y’es. But Durand doesn’t mean to let It go at that. He was here to see me this mo’nln'.’* Clay turned to the mining man, his voice low but incisive. His brain was working clear and fast. “Mr. Whltford, I have a hunch he’s go ing to destroy the evidence that's In my favor. There must be two bullet holes In the partition of the rear room where Collins was killed. See If you can't find those bullet boles and the bullets In the wall beliind.” "I’ll do that, Lindsay. “And hire me a good lawyer. Send him to me. I won't use a smart one whose business Is to help crooks es cape. If he doesn't believe in me, I don’t want Mm. I’ll have him get the names of all those pulled In the raid and vislt-theni to see If tv can't find someone who heard the slu ts or saw shooting. Then there's the gun. Some one’s got that gun. It's up to us to learn who." "That's right.” “Tim Muldoon will do anything he can for me. There’s a girl lives with his mother. Her name's Annie Milli kan. She has ways of finding out things. Better talk It over with her too. We've got to get busy In a hurry." "Yes," agreed Whltford. “We'll do that, boy.” “Oh, Clay, I'm sure It's going to he all right !” cried Beatrice, In a glow of enthusiasm. "We'll give all our time. We'll get evidence to show the truth. And we’ll let you know every day what we are doing.” "How about ray going hull for you?” asked her father. Clay shook his head. "No chance Just yet. Let's make our showing at the coroner’s Inquest. I’ll do fine and dandy here till then.” He shook hands with them both and was taken back to his cell. But hope was In his heart now. He knew his friends would do their best to get the evidence to free him. It would he a battle royal between the truth and a lie. CHAPTER XVIII Bromfleld Makes an Offer. A youth with a face like a fox sidled up. to Durand In the hotel lobby and whispered In his ear. Jerry nod ded curtly, and the man slipped away as furtively as he had come. Presently the ex-prize-fighter got up, sauntered to the street and hailed a taxi. Twenty minutes later he paid “You Rotten Traitorl Get Out of My Room or I’ll Call the Police!” the driver, turned a corner and passed Into an apartment house for bachelors. He took tlie elevator to the third floor and rang an electric bell at a door which carried the name “Mr. Claren don Bromfleld.” From the man who came to the door Mr. Brumfield's visitor learned that he was not well and could receive no callers. “Just mention the Omnium club, and say I’m here on very Important business,” said Jerry with a sour grin. The reference served as a password. Jerry was admitted to meet a host quite unable to control his alarm. At sight of his visitor Bromfleld jumped up angrily. As soon as his man had gone lie broke out In a subdued scream. “Y’ou rotten traitor! Get out of my room, or PH call the police.” Durand found a comfortable chair, drew a case from his pocket and se lected a cigar. He grinned with evil mirth. “Y'ou will, eh? Like h—l you will. You’re hidin' from the cops this blessed minute. I've just found out myself where you live.” “You took my money and threw me down. You hired a gunman to kill me.” “Now, what would I do that for? I hadn't a thing In the world against you, an’ I haven’t now.” “That d —d ruffian shot at me. He was still shooting when I struck him with the chair," cried Bromfleld, his voice shaking. “He didn't know It was you—mis took you for Lindsay In the darkness.” "My G —d. I didn’t mean to kill him. I had to do something.” “You did it all right." “I told you there wasn't to be any violence. It was explicitly stated. You promised. And all the time you were planning murder. I'll tell all I know. By G —d, I will.” “Go easy. Mr. Bromfleld," snarled Jerry. “If -on do, where do ye think you’ll get on! at?" “I'll go to the police and tell them year hired gunman waa shooting at ua.” "Will you now? An’ HI have plenty of good witnesses to swear he wasn't.” Durand bared his teeth In a threat. "That’s not all, either. I’ll tie yon up with the rube from the West and seud you up to Sing Slug as accessory, How'd you like that?” "If I tell the truth —” "You’ll be convicted of murder In place of him and he'll go up us acces sory. I don't care two straws how It Is. But you’d be a d—d fool. I'll fk that for.you.” “I’m not going to let an lnno< nv* man suffer lu my place. It wouldn’t be playing the game.” Durand leaned forward and tapped the table with his finger-tips. His voice rasped like a file. “You can’t save him. He’s goin’ to get it right. But yon cun hurt yourself a h—l of a lot. Get out of the country and stay till It’s all over with. That’s the best thing you can do. Go to the Hawaiian Islands, man. That’s a good healthy climate an’ the hotel cooking's a lot better than it is at Sing Sing.” "I can’t do It,” mooned the clubman. "My G —d, man, If It ever came out— that I’d paid money to—to—ruin bis reputation, and that I’d run away when I could have saved an Innocent man—l’d be done for. I'd be kicked out of every club I’m in.” "It won’t ever come out If yoa*re not here. But If you force ray hand— well, that’s different.” Again Jeny’s. grin slit his colorless face. He bad this poor devil where he wanted him, and he was enjoying himself. “What do you want me to do, then?" cried Bromfleld, tiny beads of perspiration on his forehead. "You’ll do as I say—beat It outn the country till the thing’s over with.” "But Lindsay will talk.” “The boob’s padlocked his month. For some fool reason he’s protectin’ you. Get out, an’ you’re safe.” Bromfleld sweated blood ns he walked up and down the room looking for a way out of his dilemma. He had come to the parting of the road again. If he did this thing he would be a yel low cur. It was one thing to destroy Lindsay's influence with Beatrice by giving her a false Impression. From, his point of view their friendship was; pernicious anyhow and ought to be wiped out. At most the cattleman would have gone back unhurt to the Arizona desert he was always talking about. Nobody there would care about what had happened to him In New York. But to leave him, an Inno cent man, to go to his death because he was too chivalrous to betray his partner In an adventure—this was something that even Bromfield’s atro phied conscience revolted at. Clay was standing by him, according to Du rand’s story. The news of it lifted a weight from his soul. But It left him. too, under a stronger moral obligation to step out and face the music. The clubman made the only decision he could, and that was to procrasti nate, to put off making auy choice fer tile present. “I’ll think It over. Give me a day > -to make up my mind," he begged. Jerry shrugged his heavy shoulders. He knew that every hour counted In his favor, would make It more difficult for the tortured man to come forward and tell the truth, “Sure. Look It over upside and down. Don’t burry. But, man, what's there to think about? - I thought you hated this guy—wanted to get rid of him.”. "Not that way. o—d, no! Durand, I’ll give you any sum In reason to let him go without bringing me Into It. You can arrange It.” Jerry slammed down a fist heavily on the table. “I cun, but I won't. Not If you was to go fifty-fifty with me to your last cent. I’m goln’ to get this fellow. See? I'm goln’ to get him good. He'll be crawlin' on his hands, and knees to me before I'm through with him." “What good will that do you? I’m offering you cold cash just to let the truth get out —that Collins was trying to kill him when he got hit.” “Nothin’ doin’. I’ve been layln’ for this boob. I’ve got him now. I’m goln" to turn the screws on and listen to him holler.” Bromfleld’s valet stepped into the room. “Mr. and Miss Whitford to see you, sir.” *•‘* • • * Annie Millikan nodded her wise lit tle head. “Jerry’s gonna frame him If he can. He's laid the wires for It. That's a lead pipe.” “Sure.” agreed Muldoon. “I’ll bet he’s been busy all night Axin' up hie story. Some poor divvies he’ll bully rag Into swearln’ lies an’ others he’ll buy. Trust Jerry for the crooked stuff.” “We’ve got to tell the truth." said Beatrice crisply, pulling on her gloves, “And we’ll do It, too. A pack of lies can’t stand against four of us all look ing for the truth.” Muldoon. who was on night duty this month and therefore had his days free, guided Whitford and his daughter lo Maddock’s. As they reached the house an express wagon was being driven away. Automatically the li cense number registered Itself In Tlm'e memory. The policeman took a key from hie pocket and unlocked the door. The three went up the stairs to the desert ed gambling hull and through It to the rear room. "From what Lindsay says, the bullet" holes ought to be about as high as hi* armpits," said Whitford. " ‘Slim’ must ’a’ been standln’ about here," guessed Muldoon, illustrating his theory by taking the position he meant. “The bullets would hit the par tltlon close to the center, wouldn't they?" Beatrice had gone straight to the plunk wall., "They’re not here," she told them. (TO BE CONTINUED.) Sorrows grow bigger hr nursing.