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Title: Dorothy Dixon and the Double Cousin
Author: Wayne, Dorothy
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dorothy Dixon and the Double Cousin" ***

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                             DOROTHY DIXON

                         and the Double Cousin

                                   BY

                             Dorothy Wayne

                               Author of
                  Dorothy Dixon Solves the Conway Case
                  Dorothy Dixon and The Mystery Plane
                      Dorothy Dixon Wins Her Wings

                    THE GOLDSMITH PUBLISHING COMPANY
                                CHICAGO

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                            Copyright, 1933

                    The Goldsmith Publishing Company
                             MADE IN U.S.A.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                   To
                         Dorothea Hetty Gutmann

                 a New Canaan schoolgirl, who
                 loves our beautiful Ridge
                 Country, and whose fox terrier,
                 Professor, really ate the dictionary!

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                              CONTENTS

                  I The Encounter               15
                 II “Family Affairs”            27
                III The Sleepwalker             39
                 IV Meet Flash!                 55
                  V On Secret Service           67
                 VI Who’s Who?                  79
                VII Playing a Part              91
               VIII “Walk Into My Parlor”      104
                 IX In the Night               116
                  X Surprises                  127
                 XI Gretchen                   142
                XII Tests                      156
               XIII Winnite                    168
                XIV Professor                  179
                 XV Tea and Orders             199
                XVI Caught in the Act          212
               XVII Professor Makes Good       228
              XVIII The Christmas Spirit       246

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  DOROTHY DIXON AND THE DOUBLE COUSIN

                               Chapter I

                             THE ENCOUNTER


“Why—good heavens, girl! How in the world did you escape?”

Dorothy Dixon heard the low, eager whisper at her elbow but disregarded
it. She was intent on selecting a tie from the colorful rack on the
counter before her. She spoke to the clerk:

“I’ll take this one, and that’ll make four. I hope Daddy will approve my
taste in Christmas presents,” she smiled, and laid a bill on her
purchases.

“But—please, dear, tell me! Don’t you know I’m worried crazy? Who let
you out?”

This time Dorothy felt a touch on her arm. She wheeled quickly to face a
tall, slender young fellow of twenty-two or three. As she stared at him,
half indignant, half wondering, she saw sincere distress in his brown
eyes, and in the lines of his pleasant face. Hat in hand, he waited
anxiously for an answer to his question, while the crowd of holiday
shoppers poured through the aisles about them.

Dorothy’s eyes softened, then danced. “It seems to me,” she said, “that
you have the wires twisted—it’s not I who’ve escaped, but you! Run
along now and find your keeper. You’re evidently in need of one!”

“Your change and package, miss,” the impersonal voice of the
haberdashery clerk intervened and Dorothy turned back to the counter.

“But why on earth are you acting this way, Janet?” The strange young man
was at her elbow again.

Once more Dorothy turned swiftly toward him but when she spoke her eyes
and voice were serious. “Do you really mean to say you think you’re
speaking to Janet Jordan? Because—”

“My dear—what are you trying to tell me?” He broke in impatiently. “I
certainly ought to know the girl I’m going to marry!”

Dorothy nodded slowly. “I agree with you—you ought to—but then, you
see, you _don’t_!”

The young man crushed his soft felt hat in his hands and took a step
nearer to her. “Look here—what _is_ the matter with you? I know you’ve
been through a lot, but—” He broke off abruptly, a gleam of horror and
suspicion in his honest eyes. “Janet! What have they done to you?”

Dorothy laid a firm hand on his arm. “Sh! Be quiet—listen to me.” Then
she added gently—“I am _not_ Janet Jordan, your fiancee.”

“You’re not—!”

“No. My name is Dorothy Dixon—and I’m Janet’s first cousin.”

The young man seemed flabbergasted for a moment. Then he
stammered—“Wh-why, it’s astounding—the resemblance, I mean! You’re
alike as—as two peas. If you were twins—”

“But you see,” she smiled, “our mothers, Janet’s and mine, _were_ twins,
and I guess that accounts for it. I’ve never seen Janet, but this is the
third time, just recently, that I’ve been taken for her by her friends,
Mr.—?”

“My name is Bright,” he supplied. “Howard Bright. Yes, now I can see a
slight difference, Miss Dixon. You’re a bit taller and broader across
the shoulders than she is. But it’s your personalities, more than
anything else, that are altogether unlike. I hope you’ll forgive me,
Miss Dixon, for making a nuisance of myself!”

“No indeed—that is, of course I will!” Dorothy laughed merrily. “You’re
not a nuisance, you know, but,” and her tone became grave, “I can see
that you’re in trouble. Is there—” she hesitated.

“Not I, Miss Dixon—that is, not directly. But,” he lowered his voice,
“Janet is—is in very serious trouble. And for a moment, when I saw you,
I thought that in some miraculous way she had escaped.”

Howard Bright’s face suddenly became almost haggard and Dorothy’s
sympathy and concern for her cousin deepened into resolve.

“Look here, Mr. Bright,” she said abruptly, “we can’t talk here, in this
shopping crowd, it’s a regular football scrimmage. Let’s go up to the
mezzanine. A friend of mine is waiting there for me now, I’m a little
late as it is, and—”

“But I can’t bother _you_ with this,” he protested, “and especially—”

“Oh, come along,” she urged, “Bill is a grand guy when it comes to
getting people out of messes. I insist you tell us all about it. After
all, Janet’s my cousin, you know, and you’ll soon be a member of the
family, won’t you?”

“There doesn’t seem much hope of that now.” Young Bright’s tone was
despondent. “But Janet certainly does need help, and she needs it
badly—so—”

Dorothy caught his arm. “I’m going to call you Howard,” she announced
briskly. “So please drop the Miss Dixon. And come on—let’s push our way
over to the elevators.”

The mezzanine floor of the department store was arranged as a lounge or
waiting room for customers. Comfortable arm chairs and divans invited
tired shoppers to rest. Writing desks and tables strewn with current
magazines gave the place a club-like appearance.

Dorothy and her newly found acquaintance stepped out of the elevator and
looked about. The place seemed especially quiet after the rush and
bustle on other floors, and was almost deserted, save for two elderly
ladies conversing in low tones near a window, and a young man, who rose
at their approach.

As the good looking youth moved toward them with the lithe, easy grace
of a trained athlete, Howard Bright saw that he had light brown hair,
and blue eyes snapping with vitality and cheerfulness.

“Hello, Dorothy!” He greeted her smilingly, “better late than never, if
you don’t mind my saying so. I’d just about figured you were going to
pass up our date.”

“Sorry, Colonel,” she mocked. “Explanations are in order I guess, but
they can wait. This is Howard Bright, Bill—Howard, Mr. Bolton!”

The two young men shook hands.

“Bolton—Dixon?” Howard’s tone was thoughtful. “Why!” he exclaimed
suddenly. “You two are the flyers—the pair who won the endurance test
with the Conway motor! I’m certainly glad to meet you both. The papers
have been full of your doings. Well, this is a surprise! But you know,
I’d got the impression that you were both older—”

“I’m sixteen,” smiled Dorothy. “Bill has me beat by a year.”

“How about lunch?” suggested Bill. He invariably changed the subject
when his exploits were mentioned. People always enthused so, it
embarrassed him. “You’ll join us, of course, Mr. Bright?”

“Thanks, Mr. Bolton. I really don’t think I can butt in this way—”

“There’s no butting in about it,” Dorothy interrupted. “Howard is
engaged to my cousin, Janet Jordan, Bill. And Janet’s in a lot of
trouble. I’ve promised we’d do everything we can to help.”

Bill, after one look at Howard’s worried face, sized up the situation
instantly. “Why, of course,” he said. “And we can’t talk with any
privacy in this place. I can see that whatever the trouble is, it’s
serious.”

“Janet’s in desperate peril,” Howard said huskily.

“You said something about her escape when we met,” Dorothy reminded him.
“Has somebody kidnapped her? Have you any idea where she is?”

“Yes, she’s a prisoner. A prisoner in the Jordans’ apartment on West
93rd Street.”

“Then her father is away?”

“No. He leaves tonight, I believe.”

“But, my goodness!—a girl can’t be kidnapped and made a prisoner in her
own home. Especially if her father is there. It doesn’t sound possible.”

“I know it doesn’t,” admitted Howard desperately, “it sounds crazy. But
it’s the truth, just the same. She’s in frightful danger.”

Dorothy looked horrified. “You mean that my uncle and Janet don’t get on
together—that they’ve had a row and you’re afraid he will harm her?”

“Oh, no, they’re very fond of each other.”

“Then Uncle Michael is a prisoner, too!”

“No, he is free enough himself, but he can do nothing—it would only
make matters worse.”

“Well!” declared Dorothy, “I don’t think much of Uncle Michael if he
can’t protect his own daughter.”

Bill stepped into the breach.

“What about the police—can’t you call them in?”

Howard Bright shook his head. “They would only bring this horrible
business to a climax,” he explained. “And that is exactly what must not
be done. It is more a matter for Secret Service investigation—but I
don’t think that even they could be of any real help.”

Bill and Dorothy exchanged a quick glance.

“Have you ever heard of a man named Ashton Sanborn, Mr. Bright?”

“Yes, I have, Mr. Bolton. Wasn’t he the detective who helped you unearth
that fiendish scheme of old Professor Fanely?”[1]

“Bull’s eye!” grinned Bill. “Only Ashton Sanborn is quite a lot more
than a mere detective. And it so happens that he is over at the Waldorf
right now, waiting for Dorothy and me to lunch with him. Let me tell
you, Bright, it’s a mighty lucky thing for Janet Jordan that he is in
town. Come along. We’ll hop a taxi and be with him in ten minutes.”

Howard hung back. “But really—”

Dorothy caught his arm. “Don’t be silly, now,” she urged.

“But I can’t call in a detective, Dorothy. I know I’m rotten at
explaining, but if these devils who have Janet in their power are
interfered with they will kill her out of hand!”

“But you spoke of the Secret Service just now. This is not for
publication, but Mr. Sanborn is the head of that branch of the
government. If anyone _can_ help Janet, he can do it.”

“I doubt it. I admit I’m half crazy with worry, but Janet is going to be
removed from the apartment tonight, and heaven only knows what will
happen then. It takes days, generally weeks, to get the government
started on anything.”

“Not Sanborn’s branch of it,” interrupted Bill. “We’re talking in
circles, Bright. If Sanborn can’t help Janet, he’ll tell you so. At
least you can give him the dope and find out. He’s an expert and you’ll
get expert advice.”

“All right, I’ll go with you. But I’m afraid it won’t do any good.
Please don’t think, though, that I’m not appreciating the interest
you’re taking. I don’t mean to be a wet blanket.”

“Of course you don’t, and you’re not.” Dorothy led toward the staircase.
“You’ll feel a whole lot better when you get the story off your chest.”

“And when you’ve got outside a good substantial lunch,” added Bill. “I
know I shall, anyway.”

“That,” said Dorothy, “is just like a boy. I believe you’d eat a good
meal, Bill, an hour before you were hung, if it were offered to you.”

“I’d be hanged if I didn’t,” he laughed and followed her down the steps
onto the main floor.

-----

Footnote 1:

  See Bill Bolton and The Winged Cartwheels.



                               Chapter II

                            “FAMILY AFFAIRS”


“Just—one—moment, please!” Ashton Sanborn’s keen blue eyes twinkled as
he surveyed his young guests. His heavy-set body moved with a muscular
grace as he placed a chair for Dorothy and motioned the two boys to
seats on a divan nearby. “Now then, Dorothy and Bill—I want you two
chatterboxes to keep quiet while I ask Mr. Bright some questions and get
this matter straight in my own head. Your turn to talk will come later.”
His quizzical smile robbed the words of any harshness, and the culprits
grinned and nodded their willingness to comply with his request.

“Mr. Bright,” he went on, “if you’ll just answer my questions for the
present, I’ll get you to tell the story from the beginning in a few
minutes.”

“It’s mighty decent of you to take all this interest, Mr. Sanborn.”

The Secret Service Man shook his prematurely grey head—“It’s my
business to ferret things out. Now, as I understand it, you mistook
Dorothy for her cousin, Miss Jordan, to whom you are engaged. The
likeness must be amazing?”

“It is, sir.”

“Yes—well, we’ll get back to the likeness after a while. You say that
Miss Jordan is a prisoner in her father’s apartment, and is in danger of
her life?”

“Yes, sir.” Howard, tense and taut as a fiddle string, his hands
gripping the edge of the cushioned couch, gazed steadily back at his
questioner.

“Do you know for certain that she is in actual danger at the present
moment, Bright?” Ashton Sanborn’s quiet tone and unhurried manner of
speaking was gradually gaining the young man’s confidence. Bill and
Dorothy noticed that Howard’s strained look was beginning to disappear,
and he had started to relax.

“She has been in great danger,” he replied, “but now, they’ve decided to
test her. There isn’t a chance, though, that she will pass the test, Mr.
Sanborn. The poor girl is so worn out and nervous she’s bound to fail.”

“Do you know what time she is to be taken away from the apartment?”

“Yes, sir. Lawson told her to pack her clothes today, so as to be ready
to leave at midnight.”

“Mmm!” Sanborn glanced at his watch. “It is now one-thirty. That gives
us exactly eleven and a half hours in which to get her out of their
hands. Now just one question more, Mr. Bright. What made you say that
this is a matter in which the so-called Secret Service of the United
States should be called in, rather than the police?”

“Well,” Howard’s brows knit in a puzzled frown, “you see, Janet is being
taken to Dr. Tyson Winn’s house near Ridgefield, Connecticut, tonight.
As I understand it, Dr. Winn has a big laboratory up there where he is
experimenting on high explosives for the government. Lawson, the man who
told Janet she was to go there, is Dr. Winn’s secretary. It all looks so
queer to me—I thought—”

“That _is_ interesting!” Ashton Sanborn’s tone was serious and for a
little while he seemed lost in thought. Then abruptly he looked up from
an inspection of his finger tips, and rose from his chair. “I ordered
lunch for three before you young people arrived,” he said with a return
of his cheerful, hearty way of speaking. “Now I’ll phone down and have
lunch for four served up here instead.” He looked at Dorothy. “By the
way, the menu calls for oyster cocktails, sweetbreads on grilled
mushrooms, O’Brien potatoes, alligator pear salad, and cafe parfait—any
suggestions?”

“Oh, aren’t you a dear!” Dorothy, who had been using a miniature powder
puff on her nose, snapped shut the cover of her compact. “You have
ordered all the things I like best. No wonder you’re a great
detective—you never forget a single thing, no matter what it is.”

Sanborn laughed. “Thanks for the compliment—but those dishes happen to
be favorites of my own, too. Now get that brain of yours working,
Dorothy. When I’ve finished with the head waiter, I want you to tell us
all you know about your uncle and cousin. Before we can go further I
must have every possible detail of the case at my fingers’ ends.”

He took up a phone from a small table near the window, and Dorothy
turned toward Howard.

“You probably know more about the Jordans than I do,” she said. “I have
a picture of Janet that she sent me a couple of years ago. We always
exchange presents at Christmas—but we’ve never seen each other.”

“I really know very little about the Jordans, myself,” protested Howard.
“You see, Janet and I saw each other for the first time just five weeks
ago. It was on a Sunday afternoon, I’d been taking a walk in Central
Park, when one of those equinoctial downpours came on very suddenly.
Janet was right ahead of me, so naturally, I offered her my umbrella.
She’s—well, rather shy and retiring, and at first she wasn’t so keen on
accepting—”

“So there _is_ a difference between the cousins!” Bill winked at Howard.
“If it had been Dorothy, she’d have taken your overcoat and rubbers as
well. Nothing shy or retiring about Janet’s double!”

“Is that so, Mr. Smarty! It’s a good thing Howard met her that rainy
Sunday. If it had been you, Bill, the poor girl would certainly have got
a soaking!”

“You mean she wouldn’t have accepted my umbrella?”

“I _mean_ you never would have offered it!”

“You win—one up, Dorothy,” said Ashton Sanborn when the laughter at
this sally had subsided. “What happened after you and Janet got under
your umbrella, Bright?”

“Oh, nothing much. We walked over to Central Park West but there were no
taxis to be had for love or money. So then I suggested taking her home
and we found we lived in the same apartment house. I asked if I might
call, but she said that was impossible—that Mr. Jordan permitted no
callers.”

“Well,” said Dorothy, “that didn’t seem to stop you. I mean you are a
pretty fast worker, Howard, to get engaged with a tyrant father guarding
the doorstep and all that.”

“Cut it out, Dot,” broke in Bill, who had been waiting patiently for a
chance to get even. “You can’t be in the center of the stage all the
time, and your remarks are out of order, anyway.”

“I’ll dot you one, if you take my name in vain, young man!”

“Silence, woman! Go ahead, Howard, and speak your piece, or she’ll jump
in with both feet next time.”

Dorothy said nothing but the glance she shot Bill Bolton was a promise
of dire things to come.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” grinned Howard, and Dorothy immediately put him down
as a good sport. “Well, to go on with it—we used to meet in the lobby,
go for walks and bus rides, sometimes to the movies or a matinee. Two
weeks ago, Janet, who is just eighteen, by the way, said she would marry
me. She seemed to have no friends in New York. I’ve seen her father, but
never met him. Except for this horrible business, which came up a few
days ago, all that I know about Janet is that her mother died when she
was five, her father parked her at a boarding-school near Chicago, and
she stayed there until last June when she graduated. Her summer holidays
were spent at a girls’ camp in Wisconsin. She was never allowed to visit
the homes of the other girls, so Christmas and Easter holidays she
stayed in the school. During her entire schooling, she saw her father
only five times. Last summer he took her abroad with him. They travelled
in Germany and in Russia, I believe.”

“Gosh, what a life for a girl!” exploded Bill.

“I should say so!” Dorothy made no attempt to hide her disgust. “The
more I hear about Uncle Michael, the less I care about him.”

“Tell us what you do know about him,” prompted Sanborn. “I want to get
all the background possible before Bright explains the girl’s present
predicament. I know a good deal about Dr. Winn and his secretary. If
those men are threatening her, there must be something very serious
brewing. Go ahead, Dorothy—luncheon will be up here any minute, now.”

“All right, but I warn you it isn’t much. My mother, who as you know
died when I was a little girl, had one sister, my Aunt Edith, who was
her twin. They looked so much alike that their own father and mother had
trouble in telling them apart. Aunt Edith fell in love with a young
Irishman named Michael Jordan, whom she met at a dance. He seemed
prosperous, and my grandfather gave his consent to their engagement.
Then he learned that Michael Jordan made his money by selling arms and
ammunition to South and Central American revolutionists. Grandpa, from
all accounts, hit the ceiling. He was a deacon of the church, very
sedate and all that, and he said he wouldn’t allow his daughter to marry
a gun-runner. And that was that. To make a long story short, Aunt Edith
ran away with Michael Jordan. They were married in New York, sent
Grandpa a copy of the marriage certificate, and then sailed for South
America. For several years there was no word from them at all. My
mother, whose name was Janet, by the way, loved Aunt Edith as only a
twin can love the other. But she couldn’t write to her because the
eloping couple had left no address. Six years later, mother had a letter
from Uncle Michael. He was in Chicago then, and he wrote that Aunt Edith
had died, and that he had placed little Janet at the Pence School in
Evanston. Mother and Daddy went right out to Chicago, to see Uncle
Michael. They tried to get him to let them take Janet home with them,
and bring her up with me. I was only three at the time, so naturally I
don’t remember anything about it. But what I’m telling you Daddy told to
me years later. Well, their trip to Chicago was all for nothing—Uncle
Michael refused to let them have Janet. It almost broke my mother’s
heart. Well, and that is the reason Janet and I have always given each
other presents at Christmas and on our birthdays, although we’ve never
even met. Two years ago, she sent me her photograph, and both Daddy and
I were astounded to see the resemblance to me. Twice, since then, I’ve
been taken for Janet by girls who were at school with her at Evanston.
Perhaps, if we were seen together, you’d be able to tell us apart—I
don’t know.”

“I do, though,” declared Howard, “you may be slightly broader across the
shoulders, Dorothy, but otherwise you might be Janet, sitting there.
You’ve the same brown hair, grey eyes, your features are alike—”

“How about our voices?”

“Exactly the same. You have a more forceful way of speaking, that’s all.
I keep wanting to call you ‘Janet’ all the time.” Howard turned his head
away, and Dorothy could see the emotion that again overtook him as he
thought of his helpless little fiancee, a prisoner in the hands of
unscrupulous men.

She glanced at Bill, and shook her head in sympathy. Just then there
came a knock on the sitting room door.

“Ah! lunch at last!” Ashton Sanborn rose and put his hand on Howard’s
shoulder. “Come, no more of this now. The subject of the double cousins
is taboo until we’ve all done justice to this excellent meal!”



                              Chapter III

                            THE SLEEPWALKER


“Mr. Sanborn,” said Dorothy, “when you’re tired of fathoming mysteries
for people, come out to New Canaan and help me order meals. That was the
most scrumptious lunch I’ve had in a month of Sundays.” She dropped a
lump of sugar in her demitasse and threw her host a bright smile across
the table.

“Thank you, my dear,” the detective smiled back. “I may take you up on
that one of these days. But speaking of mysteries reminds me that now
the waiter is gone, it’s high time we busied ourselves again with the
affairs of Janet Jordan. Now that I understand something of the young
lady’s background and her family, I want to hear all there is to tell
about her present position.” He pulled a briar pipe and tobacco pouch
out of his pocket and commenced to fill the one with the contents of the
other. “All ready, Howard. Start at the beginning and don’t skimp on
details—they may be and they generally are important.”

“Very well, sir. I’ll begin with a week ago today.” Howard pushed his
chair away from the table, thrust his hands into trouser pockets and
jumped into his story. “Janet had a date to meet me last Thursday at
two p. m. at the Strand. We intended to take in a movie—but she never
showed up.”

“Then you aren’t a business man—?” This from the detective.

“Oh, but I am—a mining engineer, Mr. Sanborn. With the Tuthill
Corporation. But I am free on Thursday afternoons, instead of Saturday.
It is more convenient for the office staff.”

“Hasn’t your concern large mining concessions in Peru?”

“It has, sir—silver mines. To make matters worse—but no—I’ll tell it
this way. I particularly wanted to meet Janet last Thursday, because I
had been told the day before by the head of our New York office that I
was to be transferred to Lima, Peru. The boat that I’m scheduled to sail
on, leaves this coming Saturday. I was fearfully pepped up about it. I’m
going down there as assistant manager of our Lima office, the job
carries a considerable increase in salary, and, if I make good, a fine
future with the firm. My plan was to get Janet to marry me, with or
without her father’s consent, and to take her to Lima with me. I
couldn’t bear to think of leaving her to the kind of existence she’d had
before I’d known her—and with no way of correspondence—Well, I waited
for over an hour in the lobby of the theatre but she didn’t come. At
last I went up to my apartment.”

“Why didn’t you phone her?” asked Dorothy, who was nothing if not
direct.

“Because Janet had asked me never to do that. She said if her father
knew she had a boy friend, he’d pack her off somewhere, and we’d never
be able to meet again.”

“Nice papa—I don’t think!” observed Bill Bolton.

“No comments now, please,” said Sanborn. “Go on, Howard. If you couldn’t
talk to Janet, how did you find out that she was a prisoner?”

Howard smiled. “But we _were_ able to talk to each other, Mr. Sanborn.
About the time we became engaged, I fixed that. My small flat is on the
ninth floor of the building, the Jordans’ on the seventh. My three rooms
have windows on an air shaft. The Jordans’ back bedroom and bath
overlook the same airshaft and are directly opposite my sitting room,
two flights below. The shaft is only twenty feet wide, so I bought one
of those headphone sets that are used in airplanes for conversation
between the cockpits of a plane while it is being flown. I lengthened
the wires of course, and got a long, collapsible pole. After dark, Janet
would come to her window, I’d pass her headphone set down to her, hooked
on to the end of the pole, and we would hold long conversations across
the court without anybody being the wiser. When we were through talking,
I’d pass the pole over to her and draw it back when she’d attached her
headset.”

“By Jingoes!” cried Bill. “I’ll say that’s clever!”

“It sure is, Howard!” Dorothy was quite as enthusiastic. “You certainly
deserve to get Janet after that.”

Howard shook his head. “We’ll have to do something really clever to get
her away from the bunch who are holding her prisoner. Well,—as I say,
when I got to my flat, I sat down by my sitting room window, and
pretended to read a book. In reality, of course, I was watching Janet’s
window. Presently she appeared. Even at that distance, I could see that
she had been crying. She held up a slate, for we never dared to use the
headphones in the day time, and slates are a good medium for short
messages. On it she had written, ‘_After dark._’ Well, that was one of
the longest afternoons I’d ever put in. About five-thirty, she came back
to her window and I passed over the headgear. When I heard her story, I
went half crazy, and I guess I’ve been pretty much that way ever since.

“You see, Mr. Sanborn, Janet has told me that occasionally she walks in
her sleep, especially when she isn’t feeling very well. The evening
before, that was a week ago Wednesday night, she had a headache and went
to bed early. When she awoke, she was terrified to find herself seated
on the floor of their living room, behind a large Chinese screen. There
seemed to be seven or eight men in the room, including her father. Of
course, she could not see them, but she could hear every word they said.
By the clock on the wall above her head, she saw that it was one in the
morning. She soon realized that this was a meeting of the heads of some
large society or organization and that these men had come there from all
parts of the world. There was an air of mystery about them and their
talk. No names were mentioned but they addressed each other by number.
Mr. Jordan was Number 5; Number 2, who spoke with a foreign accent, was
evidently conducting the meeting, in place of the absent Number 1, whom
they all seemed to hold in great awe. Janet realized that she must have
entered the room before the meeting started, while she was still asleep.
She saw that so long as the meeting lasted, there would be no way of
escape. Gradually she became terrified at her predicament, and—”

“Just a moment,” interrupted Ashton Sanborn. “Has Janet ever told you
anything of her father’s business?”

“She really knows nothing about it, Mr. Sanborn. I asked her myself some
time ago, and she said then, except that he seemed to travel a lot, she
hadn’t the slightest idea what he did for a living. Once when she asked
him outright what is was, Mr. Jordan flew into a rage. He said it was
his own affair, and that so long as it brought them in enough money to
live comfortably, he did not wish her to bring up the matter again. The
one thing she does know is that he doesn’t go regularly to an office.
Men frequently come to see him at the apartment, but their conversations
are invariably held behind locked doors.”

“I see. Go on now, with Janet and the meeting.”

“Well, sir, as I’ve said, she was behind that screen, listening to what
the men said—and in fact, she couldn’t help listening. Not that she
understood much of what they were saying. Number 2 made a long speech
and the gist of it was that now they were agreed upon the use of Formula
X, the demonstration (whatever that was) must be made in their
respective sectors at the same time on the same day. He also proposed
that Number 5 (Janet’s father) interview Number 1 and learn from him
when the demonstrations should be made. This motion was carried
unanimously. Then Number 3 asked the chairman if they could not in
future hold their meeting in some safer place than the Jordans’
apartment. ‘For all we know,’ he said, ‘someone may be secreted behind
that screen!’ Mr. Jordan laughed at this, and told Number 3 to close up
the screen if it made him nervous. So the first thing Janet knew, the
screen was dragged aside and she was staring into the face of a
Chinaman. Seated in a circle behind him were the others, her father
among them.”

“Gosh!” exclaimed Dorothy. “I’ll bet that scared the poor kid silly.”

“It did,” admitted Howard. “She was absolutely petrified. And then there
was the dickens to pay. All the men started talking at once. The
Chinaman pulled a revolver and pointed it straight at her, yelling that
she had heard their secrets and must be immediately executed!”

“‘She has heard nothing!’ her father told them. ‘She frequently walks in
her sleep. She was asleep when she wandered in here before the meeting,
and she is sleeping now—look!’ Then he lit a match and held the flame
before Janet’s eyes. ‘You see,’ he said, ‘she doesn’t even blink. Janet
has heard nothing, gentlemen.’”

“Of course Janet had taken her father’s hint, and followed it. She knew
that he was doing the only thing he could to save her life, so she kept
right on staring in front of her without moving, while the Chinaman held
the automatic within a foot of her head. But the strain she was under
nearly broke her nerve. She knew that the slightest sign on her part
that she was conscious would mean a bullet through her brain. A furious
argument followed. Most of the men—there were eight of them including
Mr. Jordan—wanted her put out of the way at once. But at last, her
father and Number 2, a big man with a long beard who seemed to be more
humane than the rest, prevailed upon them to let him lead her back to
her bed. Her father was forbidden to hold any intercourse with her
whatsoever. She was locked in her bedroom, afraid even to cry, for fear
she would be heard, and not knowing what moment the door would open and
they would drag her to her death.”

“Horrible!” Mr. Sanborn’s pipe had gone out but he didn’t seem to notice
it. “That experience was enough to unhinge a person’s mind. Janet may be
shy and retiring, but she evidently doesn’t lack grit. By the way, did
she say she recognized any of the men at the meeting?”

“No. She said that without exception she was sure she’d never seen any
of them before, although they were all on good terms with her father.
Each one seemed to be of a different nationality. One was a black man
who wore a turban—an East Indian, probably. Another, also pretty dark,
wore a red fez. The others were apparently Europeans, but as they all
spoke English together she had no way of guessing what they were. Number
2, the man with the long brown beard, she thought might be a
Scandinavian. She was sure, though, that her father was the only
American or Anglo-Saxon in the group.”

“Tell us what happened next morning,” proposed Dorothy. Her coffee, now
cold, remained untasted in the cup.

“I’m getting to that. At eight o’clock her door was unlocked and a
woman, a stranger to her, came into her bedroom with a breakfast tray.
She put the tray on a table and went into the bathroom and turned on the
water for Janet’s bath, then left the room and locked the door after
her. At nine this same woman came back, brought some books and magazines
to her, made up the bed and put the room straight. Whenever Janet spoke
to her, she shook her head and put her finger to her lips. But Janet
said that even now she doesn’t know whether the woman is actually dumb
or only acting under orders. She has brought and taken away her meals
ever since, but she has never been able to get her to speak.”

“But how did she find out about going to Dr. Winn’s house?” asked Bill
Bolton, who had shown an interest quite as keen as Dorothy’s or
Sanborn’s.

Howard Bright drank a glass of water. “I’m getting to that part now,” he
explained. “I’m not much of a story teller and I seem to be taking an
awful time to get through this one—but I’m doing my best just the
same.”

“Of course you are!” Dorothy motioned Bill to keep quiet. “You’re doing
noble, Howard! Pay no attention to that goof over there.”

“O.K., Dorothy.” Howard replaced his empty glass on the table. “At about
noon of the first day of Janet’s imprisonment in her room, the door was
unlocked and Mr. Lawson came in. She knew him as a friend of her
father’s who had dined with them two or three times. She had always
thought him quite a jolly sort of chap and knew that he was private
secretary to Dr. Winn, the celebrated chemist. Naturally, she felt
rather relieved to see him, and she opened up on him at once. She still
felt that her only hope for life and freedom was to pretend absolute
ignorance of the happenings of the night before. And she managed to keep
up that pretense before Lawson, though what he had to do with the affair
she hadn’t any idea, nor does she yet know where he comes into the
picture. Anyway, he wasn’t at the meeting. She let him know, though,
that she was very indignant and astonished to find herself kept a
prisoner, and demanded to see her father. Lawson, she told me, was most
affable and kind to her. He said that she of course did not realize that
she had been very ill during the night and that she was now under
doctor’s orders. He also told her that her father had been called away
on business, so he had come to her as an old friend of the family, to be
of any help that he could. Janet said that his sympathy almost
undermined her suspicion—she almost confided in him. But luckily, she
didn’t. He has been to see her every day since, and she is now convinced
that his part in this devilish scheme is to gain her confidence, and to
find out whether she actually did hear or see anything at the meeting.
Yesterday he told her that it had been decided she should visit him and
his wife at Dr. Winn’s house while her father is away, and that in order
to occupy her mind, she should act as secretary to Mrs. Lawson, who
assists Dr. Winn in his work.”

“Maybe they don’t really mean to harm her after all,” said Dorothy
hopefully.

“Janet is certain,” said Howard, “that they want her at the Doctor’s for
close observation. She took a secretarial course at school, so that part
of it is all right, but I believe with her that one slip, one sign that
she is deceiving them, will mean that she will simply vanish and never
be heard of again. She knows that Lawson lied about one thing: her
father is still living in their flat. She has heard his voice several
times.”

“But what I can’t understand,” said Dorothy, “is why, just as soon as
you knew all this, you didn’t go to the nearest police station and have
that flat raided!”

“Because, Janet won’t hear of it.” Howard’s tone was thoroughly
wretched. “I worked out some other plans to release her, but she refuses
to budge.”

“Is the girl crazy?” This from Bill.

“No—she’s as sane as any of us—maybe saner. She says that if the
police are called in or I help her to escape, that crew will believe her
father knew all the time that she was faking—as of course he does. And
she says she is sure they will have him killed out of hand, once they
discover that. To make matters worse, if possible, my firm thinks I’m
going to sail for Lima the day after tomorrow! If I turn them down, I’ll
lose my job here and ruin my future. I’ve been hoping against hope that
something would turn up so Janet could sail with me. I certainly shall
not sail without her. I was buying some clothes for the trip when I ran
into you this morning—” Howard’s voice trailed off hopelessly.

“Gee!” It was evident that Dorothy was not far from tears. “You poor
dears are in an awful fix! I do wish I could help you. Do
_something_—so that you two could get married and sail for Peru!”

“Perhaps you can.” Ashton Sanborn knocked the ashes from his pipe into
an ash tray.

“_How?_” shouted three voices simultaneously.



                               Chapter IV

                              MEET FLASH!


“Dorothy, have you ever done anything in the way of amateur
theatricals?” Ashton Sanborn stroked the bowl of his pipe reflectively.

“Why—er—yes, a little.” She looked a bit bewildered. “I’ve been in the
Silvermine Sillies for the past two years.”

Sanborn nodded. “How is it you’re out of school on a Thursday?” The
question seemed irrelevant. He was leaning back in his chair now,
surveying the ceiling rather absently, but there was nothing
lackadaisical about his crisp tones.

“Christmas holidays. Why?”

“Because, if you’re willing, I may want you to work for me for a few
days. I suppose I can reach your father by telephone at the New Canaan
bank?”

“No, you can’t—Daddy is down in Florida on a fishing trip. He’s on Mr.
Bolton’s yacht, somewhere off the coast. They won’t be back until
Christmas Eve.”

“That,” said the Secret Service man, “complicates matters. Who, may I
ask, is looking after Miss Dixon while Mr. Dixon is away?”

“I’m looking after my own sweet self, sir.” Dorothy grinned roguishly.

“Then who is to take the responsibility for your actions, young lady?”

“Why, you may—if you want to!”

For a moment or two the detective studied her thoughtfully. There was a
certain assurance about this girl’s manner, a steely quality that came
sometimes into her grey eyes, an indefinable air of strength and quiet
courage—

“Do you think you could impersonate your cousin, Dorothy?”

“Why—of course!” Dorothy showed her surprise. “We look exactly alike.
Didn’t Howard take me for Janet?”

“He did—but from what he has told us about her, your natures are
entirely different. Janet, from all accounts, is a rather meek and
demure young lady. Remember, that in order to convince anyone who knows
her you would have to submerge your own personality in hers. And nobody
would ever describe _you_ as a meek, demure young lady!”

“An untamed wildcat—if you ask me,” chuckled Bill.

“Why, thanks a lot, William!” Dorothy’s hearers were abruptly aware of
the changed quality of her voice as she continued to speak in melting
tones of pained acceptance. “But nobody _did_ ask you, darling, so in
future when your betters are conversing, be good enough to button up
that lip of yours!” She finished her withering tirade in the same quiet
tones and with a positively shrinking demeanor that sent the others into
shouts of laughter.

“Say, you’re Janet to a T!” cried Howard. “Her voice is always like that
if I happen to hurt her feelings.”

“How about her hair, Howard? Is it long or short?”

“Oh, she wears it bobbed like yours.”

“I suppose,” Dorothy said to Mr. Sanborn, “that you want to smuggle me
into the flat and have me change places with her?”

“That’s the idea exactly,” admitted the detective. “And I don’t want you
to make your decision until I explain my plan in detail—or, rather, the
necessity for the risk you will be taking.”

“Shoot—” said Miss Dixon, “but I can tell you right now, risk or no
risk, I’m going through with it. Janet, after all she’s been through and
from what Howard has told us, is bound to flop once she gets to Dr.
Winn’s. Nervous, and probably high strung, the chances are against her
being able to hold up under the strain.”

“I think you are right about that. But although Janet is in serious
danger, she could be rescued and her father guarded without bringing you
into the picture, Dorothy, if it were not for one thing. These men who
hold Janet in their custody are in some way mixed up with Dr. Winn, who
has undertaken to make some very important experiments for the United
States government.”

“I make a bet that he is Number 1 of the gang!” ventured Bill, the
irrepressible.

“Very possibly. That has yet to be discovered. But what I want you young
people to realize is that this is no ordinary gang. Quite evidently we
are up against an international organization. Their treatment of Janet
is concrete evidence of their cold-blooded ruthlessness when they
believe their plans to be in jeopardy. If you take your cousin’s place,
Dorothy, of course we will see that you are well guarded, but even so,
your part in clearing up this mystery will entail a very great element
of risk.”

“I’m willing to take the chance.” Dorothy met his inquiring eyes
steadily. “Naturally, I’m sorry for Janet and I want to help her. The
only thing is, I’ve got to be back at High School by January fourth.”

“I think I can promise you that this job will be cleaned up within a
week.”

“I reckon,” smiled Bill, “that you haven’t told us all you know about
these lads with numbers instead of names.”

“Not quite all.” Sanborn smiled back at him. “But that is neither here
nor there just now. By the way, Dorothy, how are you on shorthand and
typewriting?”

“Oh, not so worse. It’s part of the course I’m taking at New Canaan
High.”

“Good enough. Frankly, young lady, I would not consider using you, had
not the New Canaan Bank robbery, the affair of the Mystery Plane and the
Conway Case proved conclusively that you have a decided flair for this
kind of thing.”

“Thank you, sir,” said Miss Dixon with mock coyness. “Them kind words is
a great comfort to a poor workin’ goil. Do I pack a gat wid me, Mister?”

“You do not. In fact, you will take nothing except what belongs to your
cousin. If I am able to get you into the Jordan flat and they carry you
up to Ridgefield in her place, just being Janet Jordan, who never woke
up when she was sleepwalking last week will be your best protection. Of
course, I’m not deserting you. Either I or some of my men will find
means of keeping in touch with you constantly.”

“And when the villains scrag me, the secret service boys will arrive on
the scene just in time—to identify the deceased! No thank you. If the
gun is out of orders, Flash will have to go. Of course my jiu jitsu may
help at a pinch, but Flash is more potent and ever so much quicker.”

“What are you talking about, Dorothy?” Ashton Sanborn looked puzzled.

“It’s a cinch you can’t drag a dog along if that’s your big idea,”
declared Bill.

“It is not the big idea, old thing.” Dorothy grinned wickedly. “Flash
and I have got very clubby this fall. He’s really quite a dear, you
know. We travel about together a lot.”

“The mystery of this age,” observed Bill, “is how certain females can
talk so much and say so little.”

“Then,” said Dorothy cheerfully, “I’ll let you solve the mystery right
now. Catch!” She tossed him a macaroon from a plate on the table. “Go
over to that bedroom door,” she commanded. “Stand to one side of the
door and throw that thing into the air.”

“But, I say, Dorothy!” interposed Ashton Sanborn. “This is no time for
fooling, we’ve got—”

“This is not fooling, you dear old fuss-budget,” she cut in.
“It’s—well, it’s just something that may save you from worrying so much
about me. Now, Bill, are you ready?”

“Anything to please the ladies,” retorted that young man wearily. He got
up and walked to the far end of the room and took his stand beside the
closed door. “Is Flash a cake hound? Will he jump for the cookie?”

“He sure will—toss it in the air.”

The small cake went spinning toward the ceiling, and at the same instant
Dorothy’s right hand disappeared under the table. With the speed of
legerdemain she brought it into view again and her arm shot out suddenly
like a signpost across the white cloth. There was a streak of silver
light—and the three male members of the quartet stared at the bedroom
door in open-mouthed wonder. Quivering in the very center of its upper
panel was a small knife, and impaled on the knife’s blade was the
macaroon.

“Meet Flash!” said Dorothy.

“Great suffering snakes!” exploded Bill, plucking out the blade, and
examining it. “The thing’s a throwing knife.”

“Six inches of razor-keen, leaf-shaped blade,” said Dorothy, “and three
inches of carved ivory hilt, beautifully balanced—that’s Flash. How do
you like him, fellers?”

“You,” declared Howard, who was still goggle-eyed with surprise, “you
are the most amazing girl I’ve ever met, Dorothy!”

“And you don’t know the half of it,” said Bill with unstinted fervor.

“Think I can take care of myself at a pinch, Uncle Sanborn?” Dorothy was
laughing at the expression of astonishment on the detective’s face.

“You win, young lady.” He chuckled softly. “After this I’ll keep my
worries for Doctor Winn and his friends. Who’d have thought you had
anything like that up your sleeve!”

“Not up my sleeve, old dear. A little leather sheath strapped just above
my left knee is where Flash came from.”

“Regular Jesse James stuff, eh?” remarked Bill as he handed back the
knife.

“Oh, yeah?” Flash disappeared as quickly as he’d come, and Dorothy stood
up. “What’s on the boards, now, boss?” she asked sweetly.

“Howard—” said Ashton Sanborn, “will you let me have the key to that
apartment of yours? Thanks. Bill and I will need it this afternoon, and
even if things go according to Hoyle, we’ll be powerful busy. In the
meantime, I’ve got a job for you and Dorothy.” He took out his
pocketbook and extracting a sheaf of bills, handed them to the girl.

“You and Howard are going to have a busy afternoon, too. See that you’re
back here in time for dinner at seven, and—”

“But what under the sky-blue canopy is all this?” Dorothy was thumbing
the bills, counting them. “Why, I’ve never seen so much money—”

“Use it to buy your cousin a trousseau. Have the things sent to Mrs.
Howard Bright’s apartment at this hotel. And remember, that when she
arrives here, Janet will have nothing but the clothes she is wearing.
You don’t mind doing this, do you?”

“Mind! Why, I’ll love it!” Dorothy turned a dazzling smile on Howard,
who was simply tongue-tied by the detective’s announcement. “Isn’t he
swell, Howard? Isn’t he some guy?”

Ashton Sanborn laughed. “Don’t thank me. Uncle Sam is paying, so you
needn’t bring back any change.”

Dorothy thrust the money into her purse. “Don’t worry, old bean, I
won’t. So long, you two. Come on, Howard, we’re going to have a
beautiful afternoon!” She caught young Bright by the arm and whirled him
across the room to the coat-rack. She jammed a bright green beret over
her right ear and slung her leopard-cat coat onto her shoulders. “All
set for Fifth Avenue!” she called out merrily as she preceded Howard out
of the room.



                               Chapter V

                           ON SECRET SERVICE


To say that Dorothy enjoyed her afternoon’s shopping would be putting it
mildly. Give any girl plenty of money and tell her to go out and buy an
entire trousseau for herself—or even for somebody else—and watch her
jump at the chance!

Howard trailed along in more or less of a daze. This sudden change in
his outlook; being drawn from the depths of despondency to the hope of a
future with the girl he loved, and all in the space of a couple of
hours, was a little too much for him to realize at once. Ever after, he
had but a hazy recollection of that shopping tour. The afternoon seemed
but a whirling maze of lingerie, stockings, street dresses, party
frocks, coats, hats, shoes and accessories, upon which his advice was
invariably asked, and never taken.

They were bowling hotelwards in a taxi, jammed with cardboard boxes and
packages of various shapes and sizes, before he returned to normal.

“Whew!” he looked at Dorothy. “I should think you’d be dead!”

She shook her head and laughed. “No girl ever gets tired of shopping,”
she told him gaily. “Wait till you’re married—you’ll find out.”

“But what’s the idea of bringing all these things back with us? I
thought Mr. Sanborn said to have them sent.”

“He did—but I have a better idea. This is part of it. I’ll tell you all
about it when we get to the hotel. Keep still now—I want to go over the
lists and see if I’ve forgotten anything!”

Howard sighed in resignation.

At the hotel desk they learned that Ashton Sanborn had not returned as
yet, but had left word that they should go to his rooms. With the
assistance of three bellboys, they piled themselves and their packages
into the elevator.

“Gee! This looks like the night before Christmas!” Howard dropped his
hat and overcoat and stared at the boxes and bundles piled along the
wall of the sitting room. “Janet certainly will be surprised when she
sees all those things!”

Dorothy pulled off her close-fitting little hat, and tossed it with her
purse and coat onto the table. Then she sank into an easy-chair. “Well,
I only hope she’ll approve. My, this was a strenuous afternoon. You’d
better sit down.”

Howard followed her advice. “You said it. But I know Janet—she’ll be
crazy about the things you’ve bought.”

“Oh, you boys are all alike.” Dorothy yawned unashamedly.

“I don’t get you.”

“What I mean is that as soon as a fellow goes round with a girl for a
while, he invariably says ‘Oh yes, she’ll like this,’ or, ‘she won’t
like that’.”

“And—?”

“Ninety-nine times out of a hundred you guess wrong.”

“Why?”

“I think it’s because girls like to do their own choosing. Especially
when it comes to buying clothes. Well, anyway, I think the things are
darling, and they’ll be becoming, too. At least they look well on me.”

“Don’t worry—those clothes will make her look like a million dollars.”

“I know they will. I’m tired, I guess.” Dorothy yawned again and closed
her eyes.

Howard started to say something, thought better of it, yawned, and let
his head pillow itself on the soft upholstery.

Three quarters of an hour later, Ashton Sanborn and Bill Bolton marched
into the room to find the two shoppers sound asleep in their respective
chairs. The detective coughed discreetly and both the young people
awoke.

“I see that you’ve brought your spoils back with you,” he smiled,
pointing to the boxes and bundles. Dorothy stared at him, only half
awake, then sat upright in her chair as she realized where she was.

“Looks to me,” said Bill, getting out of his overcoat, “as if she
thought Janet was going to start a shop of her own. Why did you cart all
the stuff back here instead of having it sent?”

“Because, Mr. Inquisitive—well, just because. You and Howard run along
now and prepare your handsome selves for dinner. The principles of this
piece are going into conference now.”

“My _word_—” began Bill, but at a shake of the head from Sanborn, he
took the still drowsy Howard by the arm and together they disappeared
into the bedroom.

“Pretty tough time you’ve had, I expect?” Mr. Sanborn’s eyes twinkled,
though his tone was grave.

“Oh, but it was lots of fun,” cried Dorothy. “Thanks to Uncle Sam, and
Uncle Sanborn! And look here, I’ve got a great idea.”

“Which has to do with your bringing back the packages yourself?”

“Quite right, it has. Do you think those boys can hear what we’re
saying?”

“I doubt it, Dorothy—but Bill, as you probably guessed at the end of
the affair of the Winged Cartwheels, is a full-fledged member of my
organization and—”

“Oh, I don’t mind Bill,” she interrupted in a low tone. “But Howard
mustn’t get wind of it. He might make a fuss.”

She rose from her chair and going over to the detective, began to
whisper in his ear.

“But that’s impossible, Dorothy!” he protested, although he allowed a
smile to come to his eyes. “And what’s more, my dear, I’m afraid it
would be illegal.”

“Oh, no, it wouldn’t! Not if you—” And again she brought her lips close
to his ear.

“You’re a young scamp!” he laughed as she ended. “But—well—you’re
doing a great deal for me, so—”

“So you’ll go downstairs and start telephoning right away!” she prompted
eagerly.

Ashton Sanborn held up his hands in mock despair. “Nieces,” he declared,
“should not badger hard-working old uncles. But since this niece has
been a good girl today, Uncle will do as he’s asked.”

“I shall never call you anything else but Uncle Sanborn, now,” Dorothy
cried delightedly.

“Thanks, my child, and I’ll do my best for you.”

“Angel uncles can do no more,” she laughed.

“Right-o. I’ll be on my way, then. Come along in about fifteen minutes
with Bill and Howard. I’ll arrange for a table for dinner and meet you
three in Peacock Alley.” The detective caught up his hat and hurried out
of the room.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Although Mr. Sanborn was a perfect host, and did all he could to make
that dinner entertaining, he confessed later that he would always
consider it one of the few failures of an otherwise unblemished career.

Notwithstanding the delicious food, the charm and beauty of the huge
room with its lights and music and scores of well-dressed men and
beautifully gowned women, the dinner was not a success. All three of the
young people were too excited by thoughts of what would happen later to
do justice to the meal. Dorothy, moreover, had the added annoyance of
feeling that her tailored frock, smart enough for luncheon or shopping,
was definitely not the thing to wear at dinner in a fashionable hotel.
Each endeavored to be sprightly and at ease. But since they knew that
the one thing they wanted to talk about was forbidden in public,
conversation flagged. Upstairs at last in Mr. Sanborn’s sitting room, he
came directly to the point.

“Now I know you’re just rearing to go,” he said. “And perhaps the sooner
we get under way, the better.” He turned to Bill. “You go ahead with
Howard,” he ordered. “Dorothy and I will follow you in about ten
minutes. Go straight to the apartment. We’ll meet you there.”

“O and likewise K, boss,” Bill returned. “Get into your rubbers, Howard.
And don’t look so gloomy. You’re on your way to meet your best girl,
remember.”

When they had gone, Dorothy turned at once to the detective. “How about
it, Uncle Sanborn?” she asked eagerly.

“To quote Bill, ‘O and likewise K,’ niece.”

“Gee, you _are_ a dear!” Dorothy clapped her hands. “And now that that
is that—I don’t care what happens.”

“But I do, Dorothy.” Ashton Sanborn was serious. “Listen to me, young
lady. From now on you’re working for the U. S. government, under me, and
I must have my orders obeyed to the letter.”

“Yes, sir, I understand.” Dorothy’s tone was crisp and business-like.

“Good. I let those chaps go ahead of us as there is no need of having us
all arrive at that apartment house at the same time. This afternoon,
Bill and I made all arrangements, so that you can change places with
your cousin shortly after you arrive.”

Dorothy felt secretly proud that this keen-eyed secret service man took
her at her word, and did not ask her again if she were really willing to
go through with it. “May I ask you a question?”

“Certainly.”

“Well, suppose that after you manage to get me into Janet’s room, she
refuses to leave it. Do you want me to force her?”

“Heavens, no.” Sanborn laughed. “That has all been taken care of,
Dorothy. I talked to your cousin by means of Howard’s headphone set
shortly after dark this afternoon. I explained the whole thing to her
and when she understood that her father would be brought into no extra
danger because of our plan, and that I had drafted you into becoming a
secret service operative, she consented.”

“I’m glad of that,” said Dorothy fervently. “She could easily have
misunderstood and spoiled everything.”

“Well, we’ll have a lot to do to put it over, even though Janet is
willing. I persuaded her that by doing exactly what you told her, once
you arrived, she would be serving her country like a loyal American.
You, of course, will use your own judgment, when you see her. The
principal thing is to change clothes and get her out the way you came
just as soon as possible.”

“But how am I to get into the Jordans’ apartment?”

“Good soldiers, Dorothy, do not ask questions. There’s no secret about
it, but I’ve other things to tell you now. Lawson will probably come for
you—or for Janet, as he will believe you to be. He is a tall, slender
man, about thirty, rather good-looking, dark curly hair and a small
mustache. Your Uncle Michael, if you should run into him, is heavy set
and rather short. He has reddish hair, turning grey, and is clean
shaven. Janet has never met either Doctor Winn, or Mrs. Lawson. Now just
a word about the lady. She is a very beautiful and a very clever woman.
Be on your guard with her, continually. I believe that the principal
reason that you, or rather, Janet Jordan, will be taken to Ridgefield,
is so that you may be studied at first hand by this woman. There is no
need for me to tell you to keep up the Janet personality day and night.
Incidentally, you will have only a very short time to study your cousin,
so make the most of it. Well,” he concluded, “I guess that’s about all.
You will receive further orders within the next day or two. In the
meantime, simply carry on as Janet Jordan. I am taking a great
responsibility in letting you go, my dear. For I won’t hide the fact
that you’d probably be safer in a den of rattlesnakes than in the same
house with Mr. and Mrs. Lawson.”

“I’m not afraid, you know,” said Dorothy simply and smiled up at him.

“I know you’re not. But it would really be better if you were. For then
you’d be much more careful, and you must watch your step every minute
until I get you out of it. Here’s your coat. Slip into it and we’ll get
going. The sooner I get you safely into Janet’s room, and that young
lady out of it, the easier will your Uncle Sanborn feel.”



                               Chapter VI

                               WHO’S WHO?


The December evening was cold and wet as Dorothy and Ashton Sanborn
crossed the sidewalk and entered their taxi-cab. The day had been a
dreary one, and now a dense, drizzling fog lay low upon the great city.
Dun-colored clouds drooped over a muddy Park Avenue as they were swept
up town. On the side streets the electrics were but misty splotches of
diffused light which threw feeble circular glimmers upon the slimy
pavements. The yellow glare from shopwindows streamed out into the
chill, vaporous air, and threw a murky, shifting radiance across the
crowded thoroughfare. To Dorothy there was something eerie and ghostlike
in the endless procession of faces which flitted across these narrow
bars of light. She was not in any respect a timid girl, but the dull,
heavy evening, and the prospect of the strange venture in which they
were engaged, combined to make her feel nervous and depressed.

At 59th street the taxi turned west and rolled steadily along the
shining black asphalt, stopping now and then for the red lights. They
crossed 5th Avenue and swung into Central Park. Dorothy caught glimpses
of the gaunt shapes of trees in silhouette against the cold fog. She
closed her eyes and resolutely turned her thoughts to the events of the
afternoon.

So engrossed had she become in the contemplation of her delightful
buying orgy that she was surprised when their cab pulled up with a jerk
and Ashton Sanborn opened the door.

“Muffle up in your fur collar, Dorothy,” he said. “The fewer people who
see your face, the better.”

Now that the ordeal had arrived, Dorothy’s nervousness vanished. She
buried the lower part of her face in the soft fur collar and walked at
Mr. Sanborn’s side into the lobby of the apartment house.

A darkey in brass buttoned uniform stood by the elevator. Two shining
rows of white teeth flashed in a smile of greeting for the detective.

“All the way up, George.” Mr. Sanborn gave the order as the car started
upward.

“Yaas, suh, boss, I understand.” George smiled again, and presently the
elevator stopped.

With Mr. Sanborn in the lead, Dorothy walked along a corridor and up a
narrow flight of stairs. The detective opened a door at the top and the
damp cold of the night swept in upon them. A moment later they were
crossing the flat roof of the apartment house toward a small group who
stood near the parapet at the roof’s edge. As they drew nearer, she saw
that the group awaiting them was composed of Bill Bolton, Howard, and a
stranger. They were standing beside a small crane.

The secret service man nodded a greeting and turned to Dorothy. “We are
directly above Janet’s window, which is three flights below,” he said
quietly, and glanced at the luminous dial of his wrist-watch.

“And you’re going to let me down with the auto-crane?” she asked with
just a tremor of excitement in her voice.

“That’s the idea. It’s perfectly safe. Bill tested it this afternoon.”

Dorothy gave a little laugh. “Oh, I’m not scared, Uncle Sanborn.”

“I know you aren’t, my dear.”

“When do I take off?”

“Whenever you’re ready.”

“All set now, then, please.”

“Good. You’ll go in a minute. Here are last instructions. You will seat
yourself in that swinging seat that Bill is holding. The cable to which
it is attached runs through the pulley at the end of the crane’s arm.
This building is nine stories high. The Jordans’ flat is on the seventh
floor, you remember, so Janet’s window is the third one down.” He moved
to the low parapet and leaned over. “The window is dark, so everything
is O.K.,” he said, coming back to her. “Pull your seat in with you when
you enter, Dorothy, and pull down the shade, of course, when the light
is turned on. When Janet is ready, switch off the light again and have
her give a couple of pulls on this guide rope.” He placed the rope in
her hand. “Then we will hoist her up. Ready for your hop now?”

“Yes, thanks.”

“Good luck, then. And remember that although you may not see us, I or
some of my men will be near you all the time.”

Dorothy shook hands with her three friends and stepped into her swinging
seat. She sat down, steadying herself with a grip on the cable.

“All serene?” asked Bill.

“Shove off!” said Dorothy.

Bill motioned to the stranger, there came the low whir of an electric
motor. Her feet left the roof and she felt herself swung upward. Then
the ascent stopped, the arm of the crane swung outward and with it her
pendant seat. Her feet cleared the parapet and she was over the narrow
airshaft.

Blurred lights from closed windows of the various apartments gave her a
glimpse of many empty ashcans in the small courtyard far below. But the
crane was lowering her now close to the wall of the building. She was
facing the wall, and looking upward she made out four heads leaning over
the parapet at the edge of the roof.

The descent was slow, but at last she passed two windows and came to
rest beside the third, whose lower sash she saw was open. Then two arms
caught her about the knees and she was pulled into the room.

“Dorothy—oh, Dorothy!” sobbed an excited voice so like her own that
Dorothy gave a start.

“Well, here I am, Janet.” It was a prosaic reply, but her own heart was
beating quickly, nevertheless. “Gee, it’s dark in here! Be a dear and
shut down the window on this cable—and draw the shade, then turn on the
light. I’m busy getting out of this thing.”

She heard the window and shade come down with a rush. As she stepped
free of her conveyance, the lights flashed on, and the cousins flew into
each other’s arms.

“Janet!”

“Dorothy!”

For a long moment the girls hugged each other and Janet, the more
over-wrought, sobbed on her cousin’s shoulder.

Dorothy was herself deeply touched, but managed to control her feelings.
“Come, dear,” she said at last. “We’ll just have to get going, I guess.
They’re waiting for you on the roof—and somebody is likely to come to
the door. We mustn’t be caught together, you know.”

“I know it.” Janet released her and again Dorothy gasped, for she heard
her own voice speaking although the words came from Janet.

“Look, Dorothy!” Janet pointed to a long mirror in the corner of the
room. “I knew that we were a lot alike, but I never could have
believed—”

“Well, talk about two peas in a pod!” In the glass Dorothy saw herself
standing beside her cousin; and had it not been that she wore a coat and
hat, while Janet was dressed in a wine-colored silk frock, she would
have had difficulty in knowing which was her own reflection. “Maybe I’m
half an inch taller, or hardly that,” she said after a bit. “Lucky we
both have had our hair shingled. You wear a bang, though—but that’s
easily fixed.”

She whipped off her small hat and went over to the dressing table where
she picked up a pair of nail scissors. Two minutes of snipping and
Janet’s bang was duplicated on her own forehead. The hair she had cut
off had been carefully placed on a magazine cover and opening the window
a trifle she dropped the ends into the night.

“Now,” she said, closing the window. “You and I had better change
clothes, Janet. And we’ll have to make it snappy.”

“Yes—and oh dear—” Janet was slipping off her dress—“I’ve got so much
to talk about. You can’t realize what a horrible time I’ve had—and then
to find you, only to lose you again!” Janet was very near to tears.

“But you won’t lose me long,” Dorothy flashed her a comforting smile as
she got out of her own dress. “Meanwhile, you’ll have Howard. He’s
waiting on the roof, now. And Ashton Sanborn says he can clear up this
business in a few days.”

“You certainly are wonderfully brave to do this for me,” sighed her
cousin. “If Mr. Sanborn hadn’t insisted that by changing places with you
I’d be really helping the government, I couldn’t allow you to do it. As
it is, I feel I’m cowardly to go through with it—”

“Why, you’re nothing of the sort,” Dorothy protested. While Janet talked
and they both undressed, she watched her cousin’s mannerisms, storing
away in her memory, for future use, every gesture, and inflection of the
voice so like her own.

“Who’s who?” she giggled, and now her tone was softer, an exact
duplication of Janet’s manner of speaking.

Her cousin smiled. “In our undies,” she admitted, “even I am beginning
to wonder if I’m not seeing double and talking to myself. How about
shoes and stockings, Dorothy?”

“Chuck ’em over, Janet, we’d better do it up right. I sp’ose most of
your things are packed in that wardrobe trunk over there?”

“Yes. I packed it this afternoon. You’ll find some handkerchiefs and
gloves in the top bureau drawer. I left the trunk open on purpose. When
Mr. Lawson comes, you might be putting them in—it would help to make
things natural.”

“Right you are—that’s a good idea.”

“My arctics and my hat and coat are in the closet. Your coat is much
better looking than mine. It’s a shame to take it from you.”

“What’s a coat between cousins who love each other?” laughed Dorothy and
put on Janet’s dress.

A few minutes later, the change of clothing had been made, and the girls
regarded each other in awed wonder.

“I’ll bet,” Dorothy declared, “that when Howard sees you he’ll think
I’ve come back again.”

Janet blushed. “Well, he’ll soon find out different. But it’s a shame to
leave you here, darling. If there were _only_ some other way!”

“But there isn’t. So cut along now, and just remember that this kind of
thing is my stuff—I love it.”

“Some day I’ll make it up to you—if I ever can!”

Dorothy hesitated for a moment, then smiled. “You can do it tonight, if
you want to.”

“Why—what do you mean?”

“Just follow any suggestions that Mr. Sanborn may make.”

“But, what does that—you’re hiding something from me!”

“Perhaps I am.”

“What is it?”

“Never mind, now.”

“But, Dorothy—”

“No time for that, Janet. Get into that swing arrangement with your back
to the window.”

“All right, but kiss me goodbye, first.”

They held each other close for a second. Then as Janet took her place on
the seat attached to the steel cable, Dorothy switched off the light.

“I’ll—I’ll do as you ask, I mean, about Mr. Sanborn,” whispered Janet.

“Thanks, darling, I—” began Dorothy, her hand on the window sash ready
to raise it. Then suddenly she stopped.

Somebody was unlocking the door into the hall.



                              Chapter VII

                             PLAYING A PART


Dorothy ran to the door and caught hold of the knob. “Who’s there?” she
cried.

“It’s I—Martin Lawson, Janet. May I come in?”

“Oh, please, Mr. Lawson, not right now.” There was a soft tone of
pleading in her voice. “You see, I’ve been lying down and I’m not quite
dressed.”

“But I thought I heard you speaking.”

“You did.” The real Janet, shivering by the window, caught her breath
and heard Dorothy’s tone sharpen slightly. “To myself. Being cooped up
like this for hours on end, I’m glad to hear the sound of my own voice.
I often read aloud. But I’ll be ready shortly, if you want me.”

“All right, then. I’ll be back in five minutes. Your father is here and
he wants to say goodbye.”

The key turned in the lock and with her ear close to the panel Dorothy
was sure she could hear the faint tread of footsteps retreating down the
hall. With her heart pumping sixty to the second, she dashed back to
Janet and carefully raised the window.

“Heavens! that was a narrow squeak—” her cousin whispered shakily.
“What nerve you’ve got! I nearly fainted—”

“Never mind,” Dorothy whispered back, “you’ve got to get out of
here—and right now!”

“Oh, but I can’t, Dorothy. I’m afraid!”

Dorothy gave the signal rope two savage pulls. Almost immediately the
cable began to tighten. “Close your eyes and hang on with both hands,”
she ordered.

“But Dorothy—I’ll scream—I’m going to—I know it!”

“No, you won’t!” Quickly Dorothy clasped the frightened girl’s fingers
around the taut cable. A dive into the pocket of Janet’s coat brought
forth her own handkerchief which she hurriedly crumpled into a ball and
thrust into her cousin’s mouth. The seat, with Janet in it, was rising
slowly. She caught the paralyzed girl below the knees, steadied her as
the crane drew its burden clear of the sill and pushed her carefully
into the outer darkness. When Janet’s feet were on a level with the
upper sash, she pulled down the window and shade and switched on the
light again.

“Skies above!” Her breath came in short gasps and she leaned against the
end of the bed to steady herself. “Talk about your thrills! That was
worse than my first solo hop, by a long shot.” She ran her fingers
through her short hair. “Let’s see—what next? Oh, yes—I was supposed
to be lying down.”

She caught up a book from the table and tossed it open onto the bed.
Then she lay down, rumpled the coverlet, made sure that the pillow
showed the impression of her head, and sprang up again. An adventurous
past had taught her the need of being thorough.

She went to the window and raising it, looked out and upward. Neither
Janet nor the crane were in sight. Thankful that her cousin was safe at
last, she pulled down the sash.

Two or three minutes later, when the door was unlocked, the two men who
entered surprised her in the business of packing the contents of the top
bureau drawer into Janet’s wardrobe trunk.

And now came as pretty a piece of acting as has ever been seen upon the
stage; acting that Dorothy’s audience of two must not realize was
acting, and furthermore, one of these men was the father of the girl she
impersonated. Why hadn’t she remembered to ask Janet what she called
that mysterious father of hers? Father, Papa, Dad, Daddy—which should
she use? A mistake now would be fatal. Even her uncle must not become
aware of her real identity. There was no time for hesitating. He was
speaking now.

“Janet, my dear—” he began.

Dorothy ran to her uncle and throwing her arms about his neck, buried
her head on his shoulder. “How could you leave me like this?” she
wailed. “Why do you let these people keep me locked in my room? And now
they are going to take me away!” Her voice grew louder, almost
hysterical. She sobbed pathetically and clutched him a little tighter.

“My dear child—you mustn’t cry this way—you really mustn’t!” Mr.
Jordan patted her back in the silly way men do when they want to be
comforting. “Mr. Lawson and his wife will look after you in the country,
while your Daddy is away.”

She released the embarrassed man, and pulling a handkerchief from his
breast pocket, dabbed her eyes with the cambric until she felt certain
they looked bloodshot enough to pass inspection. “But I don’t _want_ to
go, Daddy. Please don’t let them take me,” she begged, her voice
trembling as though she was using all her will power to gain self
control. “If you can’t take me with you, why can’t I go back to school?”

“But that’s impossible, Janet. You are going to be Mrs. Lawson’s
secretary. Don’t be foolish. All arrangements have been made.”

“Well, I’m eighteen,” said Dorothy with a show of temper. “My mother was
a year younger than that when she ran away and married you. I am no
longer a child. I don’t like being packed off like—like a bag of
potatoes.”

“Are there any other reasons why you don’t want to come to Ridgefield
with me?” Mr. Lawson spoke for the first time. His words fairly dripped
with suspicion.

“Yes, there are.” Dorothy turned on him angrily. “Daddy goes off on a
trip, and for reasons which appear to be a secret, you keep me locked in
my room for more than a week, Mr. Lawson. And you seem to wonder why I
resent it.”

“But you have been ill, my dear Janet.”

“If I’m so ill, why has no doctor been to see me?” Her voice was full of
scorn.

“I have been keeping you under observation myself.”

“Quite possibly. I’ve been allowed to see nobody except that maid who
acts as if she were deaf and dumb. If you are trying to tell me that I’m
mentally deranged, I won’t stand for it! The mere fact that you now
propose that I act as your wife’s secretary proves that you consider me
capable. What right have you to keep me a prisoner in my own home? Who
are you, Mr. Martin Lawson, to take upon yourself the regulating of my
life?” Dorothy burst into angry tears.

“But my _dear_ child—” protested Mr. Jordan. “I’ve never seen you
behave like this—”

“No! And up to now,” she stormed, her eyes flashing, “you’ve never given
me cause. In the first place I’m no longer a child—you forget that—and
then—what kind of a life did you give me as a child? You are my father
and you say that you love me, but can you expect deep affection from a
daughter whom you ship to boarding school at five? You wouldn’t even let
me visit friends during the holidays. For years at a time you never took
the trouble to come and see me. How can you expect love and obedience
after years of neglect?” She drew a sobbing breath, then went on: “For a
while we traveled—you were nice to me—I enjoyed it. We settled down
here. I forgave what you’d done to my childhood. I tried to make this
flat a home for you, even though I was kept like a cloistered nun and
you allowed me no friends. But this is going too far.”

“And what, may I ask, are you going to do about it?” inquired Lawson
with a disagreeable smile.

“What can a defenseless girl without friends do to stop two big bullies?
I shall go with you, Mr. Lawson, because I can’t help myself. But don’t
expect me to like being used as a slave, even though I may be of some
comfort to that long-suffering wife of yours. Oh, that makes you angry,
does it? Well, let me tell you, that you are not half as angry as I am.
You can practice your strong-arm methods on defenseless women and get
away with it—some day you’ll try it on a man—and by the time he gets
through thrashing you there won’t be enough left for the boneyard.” She
flashed a smile of contempt on the furious man, and turned to Mr. Jordan
who was speaking again.

“What has come over you, Janet?” he was saying. “I’ve never heard you
speak so rudely to anyone before. You’ve always been such a quiet little
mouse—”

“And you’ve taken advantage of it,” she interrupted. “What you forget is
that even a mouse will turn and fight when it’s cornered. If you really
loved me—if you had a spark of manhood in your selfish body, you’d
thrash this man to within an inch of his life and throw him into the
street. Get out of here—both of you!” she cried hysterically. “And
please—no more silly arguments—I don’t want to be forced to say before
outsiders what a contemptible person my father is proving himself to
be.”

This last tirade seemed to stun Mr. Jordan. From the almost agonized
expression on his face, she saw that at last conscience was at work. The
man was utterly miserable. He could not hide it.

“Will you—will you be ready to leave in half an hour, Janet?” His voice
was a mere whisper and shook with suppressed feeling.

“Yes, I’ll be ready. Go now, please—both of you!” She turned her back
on them and walking over to the window, she threw up the shade and the
sash. As she stood there staring into the night, she heard them leave
the room.

This time the door shut without being locked. Dorothy streaked across
the floor and pressed her ear to the keyhole. Just outside the men were
talking.

“You’re a fool, Lawson, if you still think that Janet wasn’t asleep
during the meeting,” she heard her uncle say. “Tonight proves it. And
let me tell you this. From now on, my business and my home shall be kept
separate and distinct. Never again will I allow myself to be placed in a
position to be dressed down by my own daughter. There was no comeback
either. Every word she said was gospel truth. It’s a terrible thing when
a daughter makes her father realize what a low, cowardly creature he is
at heart. Well, how about it? Aren’t you now convinced of her
innocence?”

“I am.” Lawson clipped off the words, and as he went on speaking, there
was insolence as well as a hint of nervousness in his tone. “But when it
comes to giving me a thrashing, Number 5—well, I shouldn’t try it if I
were you—not if you value your—er—health!”

“Stop talking like a fool!” retorted Janet’s father. “Is the girl to be
sent to Ridgefield or not?”

“Now you’re talking rot, yourself,” snapped Lawson. “You know quite as
well as I do that Laura won’t take our word for it. She told me this
morning that any clever woman or girl for that matter, could twist a man
around her finger without half trying. Laura wants to study your
daughter herself—and that’s all there is to it.”

“I hope Mrs. Lawson has a pleasant time of it.” Mr. Jordan said
sarcastically. “But I’m afraid my hope will not be granted.”

“Laura,” answered that lady’s husband, “can be rather disagreeable
herself when she’s roused. Let us hope for Janet’s sake, that she
doesn’t try her tantrums on my wife. By the way, what are you doing
now?”

“Getting away just as fast as I can, thank you. No more scenes for me,
tonight. I wouldn’t meet Janet on her way out of here for a million
dollars!”

They moved further along the hall and Dorothy went slowly back to the
window. Across the narrow court, two flights up, the shaded windows of
Howard Bright’s flat shone a dull golden yellow in the black wall. For
several minutes she stood watching the windows, her thoughts upon what
she had done and what she had just heard.

Suddenly, shadows appeared on one of the yellow rectangles. The shade
was raised and framed in the window were Janet and Howard. Just behind
them stood a stranger who wore the round, conventional collar of a
clergyman. The young couple were smiling happily. Both waved, and Janet
held up her left hand.

Dorothy knew the significance of that gesture, and threw them a kiss.
Then she saw the shade roll down, and she turned away.

“And so they were married and lived happily ever after.” She sighed.
“Uncle Sanborn kept his promise, like the fine old sport he is.”

She stuffed the last of Janet’s belongings into the trunk, slammed it
shut and locked it.

“Now for the dirty work—and Laura Lawson.” She smiled grimly and went
to the closet for Janet’s hat and coat.



                              Chapter VIII

                         “WALK INTO MY PARLOR”


The sedan, with Martin Lawson driving and Dorothy beside him, purred
smoothly through the dank, cold night. Now that they were past the realm
of traffic lights, it lopped off the miles between them and Ridgefield
with the regularity of an electric saw cutting planks from a log.

During the entire journey, now nearly over, Dorothy had spoken no word
to the man beside her. She wanted him to believe that she was still
furiously angry. As a matter of fact, she had felt antagonistic toward
him from the first moment she laid eyes upon him; his smug overgrooming,
the highly polished fingernails, the small waxed moustache and too
immaculate clothing, all repelled her. She knew at once what it had
taken Janet some time to realize: Martin Lawson might be and probably
was a very clever man; he was, on the other hand, a man to be wary of.
His manner was just a little too complacent, too smooth. Notwithstanding
the forewarning she had received regarding his character, Dorothy knew
instinctively that he was not genuine and not a trustworthy person in
any respect. She detested him thoroughly.

He was a careful driver, she gave him credit for that. They found little
traffic to impede their progress along the Boston Post Road, once the
long tentacles of the great city were left behind. But the black swath
of highway leading out and on from their moisture-coated headlights
glistened wetly in their reflection. After they turned into the hills
behind Stamford, heading for the Connecticut Ridge Country, the road for
a mile or more at a stretch was covered with wet leaves. They crawled
along at a snail’s pace to prevent skidding and a crash into the New
England stone fences that rambled along the roadside dividing woodland
from the rolling meadows.

Just beyond New Canaan, they drove past Dorothy’s home and Bill
Bolton’s, for the properties faced each other across the ridge road.
Before they reached Vista it was raining dismally, and Lawson had the
windshield wiper going. Dorothy was thankful that the sixty-mile journey
from New York was nearly over. At last they reached the outskirts of
Ridgefield, and the car swung into a driveway between high pillars of
native stonework. In the glow from the electric globes on the gate
posts, the blue stone driveway curved and twisted like a huge snake,
winding through landscaped lawns and gardens as formal and precise as a
public park.

It was raining harder now, and Dorothy could see nothing beyond the path
of their headlights. Although she had never been in the grounds before,
she had driven past the Winn place numbers of times. Finally, she made
out the bulk of a great stone house. Martin Lawson stopped the car
beneath a porte-cochere. They had arrived.

Massive doors of wrought iron and glass swung open. A butler and two
footmen in livery ran down the steps. The butler, a tall,
important-looking individual, snapped open the car door.

“Good evening, Mr. Lawson,” he said. “Good evening, Miss.”

The voice with its high-pitched Oxford drawl still smacked of
Whitechapel. Dorothy, who had travelled in England, was sure that under
stress, the cockney in this personage would come out. She knew he was
careful of his aitches.

“Good evening, Tunbridge,” Lawson returned briskly, and Dorothy smiled
pleasantly. “Is Mrs. Lawson still up?”

“Madam is awaiting you in the library, sir.” Tunbridge helped Dorothy to
alight and handed Janet’s overnight bag to a footman. “Jones,” he said
to the other flunky, as Lawson stepped out of the car, “drive round to
the service entrance. Miss Jordan’s box is in the back of the car. See
that it is taken up to the Pink Bedroom and have Hanley garage the
motor-car.”

“Very good, sir,” returned the man, and he got into the automobile.

Tunbridge ushered them up the broad stone steps. Dorothy caught a last
glimpse of a leafless, dripping hedge across the drive, and the giant
skeleton arms of a tree that seemed to menace earth and sky; then she
entered the house, wondering what the next act of this strange drama
would bring forth.

She found herself in an enormous hall, furnished with objects such as
she had never seen outside a museum. Elaborately carved oak, suits of
armor, stone urns, portraits, a wide stone staircase mounting upward to
surrounding galleries, stained glass windows, tigers’ and lions’ heads,
antlers of tremendous size, strange and beautiful weapons, all ranged in
confusion before her eyes and suggested a baronial castle rather than
the home of an American scientist, in the Connecticut hills.

Tunbridge led to a door on the right, where he knocked, then opened, as
a muffled “Come in” was heard.

“Miss Jordan and Mr. Lawson, Madam,” announced the butler, and he stood
aside to let them pass.

Dorothy walked into a room whose walls seemed built of books. The
furniture was richly attractive and looked luxuriously comfortable. A
fire blazed in a fine chimney and a table near it was set with a glitter
of splendid silver and hot water plates below shining metal covers.

A tall, superbly beautiful woman, with dark eyes and coal-black hair
that grew in a widow’s peak on her brow, rose from a chair on the wide
hearth and came toward them. Her clear, white skin, and a broad streak
of silver across the black hair gave her a strangely ethereal
appearance, as though she might have been a being from another planet.
The hand she held out to Dorothy was exquisitely formed, the fingers
long and tapering.

“How do you do, Janet,” she said pleasantly. “Welcome to Winncote. You
are later than we expected. The Doctor has gone to bed, but he left his
greetings.”

“Thank you,” Dorothy returned formally and shook hands. “You are very
kind, Mrs. Lawson.”

Laura Lawson gave her a smile, but the girl saw that it was a smile of
the lips alone, her dark eyes remained somber. “Did you have a
breakdown?” she asked her husband, taking notice of him for the first
time.

“Slippery roads—it was impossible to do much more than crawl, Laura.”
He lifted a dish cover on the table and inspected its contents. “Glad
you thought to order supper—I’m famished.”

“So am I,” admitted his wife and her words seemed to carry a double
meaning. “It’s long after three. Come over here by the fire and get
warm, Janet. Now Tunbridge—if you’ll please serve us?”

Tunbridge seated them at the supper table and uncovered the dishes.

“Just a light meal,” announced the hostess, “scrambled eggs, toast and
cocoa, but it will warm you up and help you last until breakfast.”

“It looks delicious!” said Dorothy, who discovered at the sight of food
that she was starving. In fact all three were hungry, and for some
little time conversation was dropped while the soft-footed Tunbridge
waited upon them.

“We will have a chat tomorrow, Janet,” Mrs. Lawson said presently.
“Tonight you are tired and so am I. We take breakfast in our rooms. Ring
for it when you’re ready, but don’t hurry about getting up, I’ll see you
down here about eleven-thirty. Have you had enough to eat and drink, my
dear?”

“Plenty, thank you, Mrs. Lawson.” Dorothy thought it would be just as
well if she played the demure mouse until she had a chance to size up
her employer.

“Then I think we’ll go upstairs, Janet, and I’ll show you your room.”
She looked at her husband. “You’ll be coming up soon, Martin?”

“Just as soon as I finish this pipe, and get a bit warmer.”

“I think,” said Mrs. Lawson, “that both you and Janet had better take a
hot lemonade before you go to bed. I don’t want to have you both laid up
with colds tomorrow.” She smiled solicitously at the girl.

“I hate the filthy stuff,” protested her husband.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she answered coldly and turned to the butler.
“Tunbridge, have hot lemonades sent to Miss Jordan and Mr. Lawson in
about twenty minutes, if you please.”

“Very good, madam.”

Laura Lawson slipped her arm through Dorothy’s. “Don’t be long, Martin.”

“I won’t. Good night, Janet.”

“Good night, Mr. Lawson.”

Mrs. Lawson seemed lost in thought as they slowly mounted the stone
stairs. Suddenly she began chattily: “Men are such stupid creatures,
Janet. So stupid about taking medicine or anything else that may be good
for them. Martin and that hot lemonade is a case in point. I hope that
you haven’t any foolish ideas like that?”

“Oh, no, indeed. I’m rather fond of it.”

“That’s fine. Now promise me you’ll get into bed and drink it just as
hot as possible. There’s nothing better to ward off a cold, and you’ll
sleep like a top into the bargain. Well, here’s your room, my dear. It’s
late, so I won’t come in, but I think you’ll find all you need to make
you comfortable. If you want anything, ring. Good night, Janet. Sleep
well.”

“I’m sure I will, Mrs. Lawson. Good night.”

The older woman passed along the gallery and Dorothy entered her
bedroom. It was a good-sized room, attractively furnished with
everywhere evidence of a woman’s taste. Pink-shaded electric candles
gleamed from the walls papered in cream and scattered with tiny pink
rosebuds. The small grey-painted bed displayed pink pillow cases, sheets
and blankets. A dainty writing desk in one corner of the room was also
painted grey as was the chaise longue and the chairs, where the
upholstery carried out the note of pink. A soft grey rug, pink-bordered,
covered the floor, and Dorothy’s feet sank into its thick, warm pile as
she investigated her new quarters. She saw that the room was nearly
square, and opposite the door a rounded alcove sheltered a bow window,
hung with pink taffeta, and the window seat below it was cushioned in
pink.

In a corner against the wall stood Janet’s wardrobe trunk, and near it
was a door that led into a spacious closet. Dorothy hung her coat on a
padded hanger, and then looked into the rose and onyx tiled bath.

As she re-entered the bedroom she stopped short in surprise. A small
piece of white paper protruded from beneath the door to the gallery.
Quickly she stooped, snatched the paper and opened the door. The gallery
was empty. Crossing to the balustrade she looked down upon the great
entrance hall. That also was deserted and nobody was to be seen on the
staircase.

She turned back, closed and locked her door. Then she spread out the
paper she had crumpled in her hand. Printed on one side in pencil she
read the words:

“BE ON YOUR GUARD. DO NOT DRINK THE LEMONADE. DESTROY THIS AT ONCE.”

“Now I wonder...” Dorothy muttered softly, “who sent me this note?”



                               Chapter IX

                              IN THE NIGHT


Dorothy turned over the piece of paper to find as she expected that the
other side was blank. No signature. Nothing but the double warning, and
the admonition to destroy the missive and to do so at once. Evidently
the writer either believed or knew for certain that she would shortly be
disturbed. There was no fireplace in the bedroom. Even though she tore
the note into bits, some of the scraps might be found and pieced
together should she throw them out the window; and her room might be
searched at any time. How could she make way with it? For a moment or
two Dorothy was at a loss. Mechanically her fingers tore the paper into
fine shreds.

Then she smiled. “I guess we’ll let the plumbing take care of you,” she
said, gazing down on the little pile of paper on her palm, and she
disappeared into the bathroom.

When she returned, Dorothy opened Janet’s over-night bag, took out a
pair of green silk pajamas, bedroom slippers and toilet accessories,
among which was a new toothbrush in a case. This, and the underwear she
had on were the only belongings of her own that she had retained.

From Janet’s purse, she extracted the trunk key. After some rummaging in
that large travelling wardrobe, she found a quilted bathrobe of pale
pink satin on a hanger toward the back. It was too late to unpack
entirely, and she was about to close and relock the trunk, when she
decided to leave it open. The Janet Jordan she was portraying had never
waked up at the famous meeting of last week. That Janet would feel
outraged at her imprisonment, her father’s seeming callousness and would
naturally be furious at being packed up here willy-nilly: but she would
have no cause to be suspicious of these people in this big stone house.
If she had locked the trunk—Dorothy realized she had almost made a
mistake, although a minor one—and in her present position mistakes were
dangerous affairs.

Although it was very late and the day had been a strenuous one Dorothy
did not feel tired. While she undressed, she went over in her mind the
new vistas opened up by this mysterious note she had just destroyed. As
she dissected it word by word from memory, she was astonished to find
that the scrap of paper carried much interesting information between the
lines.

Undoubtedly, Ashton Sanborn had planted a member of his organization in
the house, but how that had been possible, she could not imagine. First
of all, there was the warning to be on her guard. That Mrs. Lawson was
indicated she had no doubt. Her hostess, while seeming most charming and
courteous, had nevertheless suggested the hot lemonade which the note
told her not to drink. It was quite likely that her unknown adviser had
reason to think that the lemonade would be drugged. And then these
people could hardly mean to poison her so soon after her arrival. For
their whole idea in bringing her to Winncote, as she understood it, was
to make sure whether the real Janet had heard their secrets or not.
No—they merely wanted her to sleep soundly. But why?

Dorothy pondered on this for several minutes. There could be only one
reason, she decided. Somebody was planning to enter her bedroom tonight,
and wished to do so without her knowledge. What their purpose might be
she could not guess and she did not bother about it. To a girl of a
nervous temperament, such as Janet Jordan, the knowledge that such a
visit was planned and success arranged for by means of a drug, would
have been torture. But Dorothy, who could feel “Flash” in his holster
just above her knee was merely worried for fear that lemonade or no
lemonade she would fall asleep. The arrival here had been uneventful
enough after what had happened at the Jordans’ apartment. At least, to
all outward appearances it had been smooth sailing. She was beginning to
realize that nothing with these people was what it seemed to be. She had
climbed her Vesuvius and was standing at the crater’s edge. Already the
first rumblings of the eruption had been heard.

Her position, though seemingly secure, was nothing of the kind. The
sooner Ashton Sanborn gave her the orders he had promised, and she could
carry them out and get away from this place, the better for Dorothy
Dixon. And yet she could not help a feeling of exhilaration.

There came a gentle knock on her door. Wearing her quilted wrapper and
slippers she turned the key and opened to—the imposing Tunbridge. He
bore a small tray on which stood a steaming tumbler, a bowl of sugar,
two spoons and a napkin. “Your hot lemonade, Miss Jordan,” he announced
in his pompous voice and rather as though he were offering her a
priceless gift. “Mrs. Lawson’s instructions are to drink it after you
get in bed, Miss. May I mention also that it is very hot?”

Dorothy took the tray. “Thank you, Tunbridge, I’ll be careful. Good
night!”

“Good night, Miss.”

The butler departed in the direction of the stairway, and Dorothy closed
the door and locked it again.

She set the tray on a chair beside her bed and put two spoonfuls of
sugar into the tall glass. It was too hot for anyone to drink yet, so
she went into the bathroom to get ready for bed.

Five minutes later she switched off all the lights except the one on the
head board. Then she got into bed, picked up the glass and stirred her
lemonade, making sure that the spoon tinkled against the glass. If
anyone was listening outside her door they would naturally think she was
drinking the stuff.

After waiting a moment or two longer, she set the glass down on the tray
with a thump that might have been heard on the gallery. But the glass
remained in her hand. Off went her light now, and still holding the
lemonade she got quickly and quietly out of bed. A silent trip to the
bathroom in the dark and she emptied the lemonade into her washbowl.
Then she came back and placed the empty glass on the tray. She hurried
over to the bow window, opened a sash, turned off the heat in the
radiator and crawled into bed again.

The bed was to the left of the door as one entered the room. By lying on
her right side Dorothy held the entire room within her view. After the
soft glare from the shaded electric lights, it seemed inky black, but
soon her eyes grew accustomed to the gloom. In the wall just beyond the
foot of the bed was the closed door of her closet. The trunk stood
beyond that in the corner. The alcove and window seat took up a large
section of the farther wall and in the corner, diagonally across from
where she lay was a dark spot—the writing desk. Opposite her bed was
the half open door to the bathroom. The dressing table, the door to the
hall but a few feet from her head—mentally she had completed her tour
of the room.

Then for a long while, or so it seemed to the excited girl, she lay
there waiting. Of course her door was locked, but the affair of the
Winged Cartwheels a few months before had taught Dorothy that keys may
be turned from the outside with a pair of small pincers. Her mind now
set itself on the key in the door. In vain she listened for the warning
click that would come when it turned in the lock. Now that she was lying
in bed she began to discover how tired she was. It became harder and
harder to stay awake.

She knew that she must have dozed, for without warning a light appeared,
a golden circle on the center of the rug. Instantly she was wide awake
and her hand beneath the blankets drew her throwing knife from its
sheath. Through half-closed eyelids she made out a dark figure holding a
flash light pointed toward the floor.

Then the glowing circle moved to the empty glass beside her bed, and
Dorothy closed her eyes. For a moment it rested upon her face and she
heard a low chuckle. Dorothy knew that voice. Her visitor was Laura
Lawson.

The light swept away from her face. Mrs. Lawson touched the wall switch
by the door and the bedroom sprang into light. The drug in the lemonade
must have been a strong one, for it was evident that the intruder had no
fear of her awakening. Without wasting another glance on Dorothy, Laura
Lawson went to the wardrobe trunk and commenced a detailed inspection of
its contents.

The woman’s back was turned, so Dorothy had no difficulty in watching
her movements. Everything in the trunk was taken out, glanced at and put
back exactly as it had been. This took some time, and it was fully half
an hour before her hostess finished with the trunk. Next she overhauled
the small travelling bag and the purse. Then the empty drawers of the
dressing table and desk came under the woman’s eye. The pillows and
cushions of the window seat were lifted. The rug was turned back. Every
nook and cranny of the room and closet came under observation. Then she
went into the bathroom.

“What under the shining canopy can she be looking for?” Dorothy
marveled. “It can’t be the note I got tonight. She proposed the lemonade
before that could have been written. I wonder if she’ll search the bed?
She mustn’t find Flash—”

When Laura Lawson returned to the bedroom, she saw that the sleeper had
turned over and was now facing the wall. For a moment she gazed down on
the girl, then her hand crept under the pillow. Finding nothing there,
the covers were pulled back to the foot of the bed.

Dorothy felt the cold breeze from the open window blowing on her
pajamaed body, but she did not move. Presently sheet, blankets and silk
comfort were replaced and the woman left the bedside. Dorothy chuckled
inwardly. Flash was still safe. She was lying on him.

Off went the light. Dorothy knew that Mrs. Lawson’s slippered feet would
make no sound on the thick pile of the rug. She waited to hear the door
open and close, but heard nothing. With her face to the wall, she could
see nothing. The strain of lying motionless became nerve wracking. What
was the woman doing anyhow? Slowly she rolled over again. So far as she
could tell, the room was empty.

For what seemed an age Dorothy lay, listening. Except for the wind
sighing through the bare trees outside her window, there was no other
sound. She felt nervous and unpleasantly excited. She must know if the
door had been left unlocked. Slipping out of bed she tiptoed across to
it and tried the handle. The door did not give.

Suddenly she froze against the panels. A dim glow appeared on the
opposite wall as the closet door swung slowly back, and outlined in the
opening was the tall figure of Tunbridge.



                               Chapter X

                               SURPRISES


Dorothy’s experiences, since she had shopped for neckties for her father
that morning had been quite enough to lay up the average girl for a
week, and to wreck her nerves into the bargain. Laura Lawson’s
appearance in her bedroom had strained tightened nerves to the breaking
point.

The arrival of this second intruder was just too much. As the butler
stepped out of the closet and started to close the door, Dorothy’s
self-control snapped like a rubber band. She forgot that she was playing
a part; that it might be suicidal to show her hand so early in the game.
Fear gripped her throat. Had this man been sent to kill her? If not,
then what was he doing, stealing into her room through a secret entrance
like an assassin of the middle ages? Self-preservation bade her act. The
consequences could take care of themselves.

“Stop!” The harsh whisper, as her hand dove for Flash, sounded like the
voice of a stranger. “Move another step, and I’ll pin you to that door!”
Flash was in her raised hand now, the extended blade reflecting the
light in the closet as though the polished steel were glass.

She saw the man start in surprise and turn his head in her direction. As
she was about to hurl the knife, Tunbridge found his voice.

“Ashton Sanborn sent me, Miss Dixon. Please don’t throw that knife.”

Gone was the English accent, and the pompous intonation of the British
man servant. Tunbridge, if that were really his name, spoke the American
Dorothy was accustomed to hear, the accents of the cultured New
Englander. For the second time in her life, Dorothy fainted.

She awoke to find herself in bed. Tunbridge was beside it. She could
just make out his tall, powerful figure in the darkness.

“Goodness—did I faint?” she said weakly.

“You certainly did, Miss Dixon.” His tone was little above a whisper.
“Please don’t raise your voice—and drink this. I found the aromatic
spirits of ammonia in the bathroom. You need something to steady you. No
one is cast iron—you’ve been through a frightful lot today.”

Dorothy took the glass and drained it. Then she lay back on her pillow.
“I got the scare of my life just now. Why didn’t Ashton Sanborn tell me
about you, Mr.—”

“Tunbridge is really my name, Miss Dixon. John Tunbridge, and very much
at your service. I was afraid my rather abrupt appearance would startle
you, and especially coming so soon after Mrs. Lawson’s—er—visit. I got
a shock myself when I saw your white figure by the door just now, and
all ready to split me with that knife, like—like a macaroon.” He
chuckled, and removing the tray, sat down on the chair beside her bed.

“Oh, then you’ve seen Ashton Sanborn this evening, Mr. Tunbridge?”

“Heard from him, Miss Dixon. As you must know by now, I am a secret
service operative and I am working under Mr. Sanborn. There isn’t time
to go into detail now, but a couple of months ago, our department
received an anonymous letter saying that Doctor Winn would bear
watching. Shortly before that the Doctor had engaged Mrs. Lawson, who is
an expert chemist by the way, to take charge of his laboratory. Her
husband has been Doctor Winn’s secretary since last spring. We thought
at that time that Mrs. Lawson might be the mysterious letter writer.
Since then we’ve altered our opinion. Mr. Sanborn decided that inasmuch
as Doctor Winn was working for the government it would be well to have a
secret service man in the house. We prevailed upon the butler here to
resign and I took his place.”

“Then Doctor Winn knows you’re a government detective?”

“No one in this house knows that, except you, Miss Dixon. The whole
matter was arranged through an employment agency. Doctor Winn and the
others here have no idea that I, like you, am simply playing a part.”

“Well, you’re certainly a splendid actor, Mr. Tunbridge.”

“Thank you, Miss Dixon. As you’ve no doubt discovered, acting,
convincing acting, often plays a large part in our profession. You are
doing brilliantly in that respect yourself. Mr. Sanborn thought,
however, that it would be better if you did not know about me until the
necessity arose. Mrs. Lawson, he knew would be watching you like a hawk
when you arrived. If you had been aware of my identity, your position
would only have been more difficult. She might have had her suspicions
aroused in some way, which would have given you a wrong start from the
beginning. I think you will realize tomorrow how hard it will be to
treat me as though I were merely Tunbridge the butler.”

“Oh, I think you’re right. Tell me, how did you find out about the
lemonade?”

“I overheard the Lawsons talking, yesterday. Made it my business in
fact. It seems that Mrs. Lawson has had the idea that if Janet Jordan
was only shamming sleep at that meeting, she would do her best to
communicate with her father in some way. The natural thing to do would
be to write a note and slip it in his hand or his pocket, when he came
to see her. Martin Lawson was sure he would detect anything of the kind
when he brought Jordan to say goodbye to Janet tonight at the flat. If
not, the plan was to drug the girl with hot lemonade so that Mrs. Lawson
could search her belongings for the note tonight.”

Dorothy nodded. “I watched her closely while she was in here, and so far
as I could make out she didn’t find anything that interested her
particularly. The Lawsons must have guessed wrong about Janet writing
her father.”

“Well, no, they didn’t,” declared her new ally. “Janet wrote a letter,
just as they surmised.”

“But where could it be?” asked Dorothy in a startled whisper, and sat
bold upright in bed.

“Probably destroyed by this time,” Mr. Tunbridge chuckled. “There’s no
need to worry on that score, Miss Dixon. When Ashton Sanborn spoke to
your cousin this afternoon by means of Howard Bright’s headphone set, he
learned that Janet proposed doing just what this clever pair here
figured upon. Of course she had already written the note, and as there
was no safe way to get rid of it in her room, he told her to take it
with her when she left. And now if you’ll be good enough, I wish you’d
tell me what happened after you took her place in the flat.”

Dorothy gave him a short sketch of her encounter with her uncle and
Martin Lawson in Janet’s room, and of the conversation between the two
men in the corridor afterward. “All the way up here,” she ended, “I
pretended I had a grouch. Mr. Lawson tried to start a conversation
several times, but he soon found it wasn’t much fun talking to himself
and he gave it up as a bad job.”

“Excellent,” applauded the secret service man, “and quite in keeping
with your behavior in the flat. You have done most remarkably well, Miss
Dixon. Only—you won’t mind if I warn you not to let first success make
you careless.”

“Do you really believe that these people mean to do away with me if they
discover I am not what I appear to be, Mr. Tunbridge? It sounds a bit
too melodramatic, don’t you think?”

“These Lawsons, husband and wife, are playing for gigantic stakes.” The
detective’s voice, though barely audible was extremely grave. “They will
stop at nothing. When crooks have at least two murders behind them,
they’re not likely to stop at a third.”

“Then—then they are _not_ what they pretend?”

“Certainly not. They’re a pair of high class European crooks named
du Val.”

Dorothy shuddered. “And _murderers_!”

“Undoubtedly. They’re wanted both in England and in Austria for their
crimes.”

“How did you find that out?”

“Oh, you see I recognized them when I arrived here, Miss Dixon.”

“But—but I can’t see why—why you didn’t arrest them then and there!
You knew that they were after the secret of Doctor Winn’s new explosive,
or whatever it is he has invented.”

“Yes, we realized that the formula for Doctor Winn’s explosive gas was
the magnet that drew the du Vals to this house; but until today we had
no idea how they proposed to dispose of the formula after stealing it.”

“I see. And now you realize that they probably intend to sell it to the
organization of which my uncle is a member?”

“You are right, Miss Dixon.”

“Then why can’t you arrest the Lawsons now?”

“We can take the Lawsons at any time,” Tunbridge explained. “But we want
to catch the ringleader of this organization. We know the group exists
and for no good purpose, but what their definite object may be we still
have no means of telling. We can’t arrest them on suspicion alone. Once
they actually buy the formula from the Lawsons, it will be quite a
different matter.”

She shook her head slowly. “But why hasn’t the formula been stolen
before this? They’ve had plenty of opportunity, surely—”

“Because it is not completed. At dinner tonight I heard the Doctor say
that by tomorrow afternoon the work would be finished, and that he
expected to take the formula to Washington the day after tomorrow.”

“Then you expect?—”

“I expect that the Lawsons will make their attempt tomorrow night.”

“And where do I come in on this business, Mr. Tunbridge?”

“You are going to take the plans from Doctor Winn’s safe before the
Lawsons get to it.”

She drew her breath sharply. “That’s a pretty large order—”

“I know it, but—of course you’ll have the combination of the safe—”

“Are you going to give it to me now?”

“Too dangerous. They are quite capable of searching your belongings
again—or your person, for that matter—at any time. I’ll get it to you
with exact instructions just as soon as the Doctor completes that
blooming formula and locks it in the safe.”

“That’s all very well, Mr. Tunbridge. But has it occurred to you that if
I steal this paper—I suppose it will be a paper?—”

“Probably several of them—”

“Well, if I take these papers before the Lawsons can get them, how are
you going to arrest my uncle and the other men?”

“You,” directed Tunbridge, “will simply make a copy and replace the
original documents where you found them. This is a safety-first move. We
must have a copy in case the originals are destroyed.”

“It looks like a very complicated matter to me,” Dorothy admitted
candidly. “Why not put the old gentleman wise? After all, it’s his
formula, and if he made his own copy it would save us a possible run-in
with the Lawsons, and—”

Mr. Tunbridge stood up. “Perhaps you’re right,” he said, making a brave
attempt to stifle a yawn, “but Doctor Winn would never agree to it. For
a scientist who dabbles in high explosives, he’s the most nervous man
I’ve ever met. He’d give the whole show away. No, that’s out of the
question. Doctor Winn must be kept in ignorance of the whole proceeding.
And now—” a yawn got the better of him this time— “and now to bed. You
need sleep even more than advice just now. Good night, or rather, good
morning, Miss Dixon. Pleasant dreams, I hope.”

He started toward the door and Dorothy sprang out of bed and reached for
her dressing gown.

“I want to see that secret passage, Mr. Tunbridge,” she said in a low
tone.

“Oh, yes, come along.” He opened the door and stepped inside the closet.
“It works this way. Press your foot on the board in the farthest right
hand corner, like this, and a panel in the back wall slides up—like
that—”

Dorothy stared at the gaping black hole, then as the detective-butler
snapped on his flashlight she saw that a narrow circular staircase led
downward in the wall.

“That stair curves down to the ground floor,” he explained. “It comes
out through the side wall inside the big fireplace in the hall. To open
the panel down there you press a button under the left-hand corner of
the mantel. To close either panel you simply put it down, once you’re
inside.”

“Are there any more of these passages in the walls?”

“Very likely, but I haven’t found them yet. Winncote is an exact copy of
the Doctor’s ancestral home in Wales. Those old houses were honeycombed
with priest holes, secret passages and whatnot. And Doctor Winn had his
architect copy the original Winncote across the water down to the last
stone, with modern improvements such as bathrooms and steam heat,
added.”

“Funny old fellow, isn’t he?” commented Dorothy sleepily. “Then I’m
simply to carry on until I hear from you again?”

“That’s right. But whatever you do, watch your step with the Lawson
woman. She is fully as heartless as she is beautiful. If you had never
heard of that meeting in the Jordans’ flat, it would be much better for
you. She will try to trap you, so please be on your guard continually.
Well, good night, again.”

“Good night, Mr. Tunbridge.”

The panel in the back wall of the closet slid into place, and Dorothy
went back to bed. She realized now that this matter of impersonating her
cousin was not going to prove to be the easy job she had fancied. A slip
on her part now would not only put her own life in danger, it would
probably ruin all government plans to apprehend these desperate
criminals.

At last she fell into a troubled sleep wherein she dreamed that a long
circular staircase curved round and round her bedroom, and that Mrs.
Lawson, dressed as a butler, had set her to watch every step of it.



                               Chapter XI

                                GRETCHEN


Dorothy awoke from troubled dreams to find that it was another day.
Through the open window she saw the swirl of snowflakes driven in a high
wind. The bedroom was cold and in the grey light of the winter morning
it had lost its cheerful air.

She heard a knock on the door.

“Who’s there?” she called drowsily.

“It’s the maid, miss. Mrs. Lawson thought you might be wanting your
breakfast now.”

Dorothy looked at her wrist watch. The hands marked ten-thirty. She
jumped out on the rug, which felt cold and clammy under her bare feet,
went to the door and unlocked it. Then she scampered back to bed and
snuggled under the warm covers.

In walked a trim little figure wearing the small white apron and gray
uniform of a chambermaid. Dorothy saw a round merry face, and a pair of
big blue eyes beneath the white lawn cap, and thick flaxen braids were
coiled round the neat head. She was surprised and somehow pleased to
discover that this attractive member of the household staff could not be
much more than sixteen, just her own age.

The little maid shut the door softly, crossed to the window and closed
it, turned on the steam heat and came to the bedside. “Good morning,
Miss Jordan.” She smiled engagingly. “I’m Gretchen, miss. Will you have
your breakfast in bed?”

“Why, thank you, Gretchen—that will be cozy. But if it’s going to give
you any trouble, don’t bother.” With the covers drawn up to her eyes,
Dorothy smiled back at the girl.

“Oh, no, miss—it’s no trouble at all.” Gretchen was insistent. “It’s
all ready now. I’ll run down and bring it up.”

She whisked out of the room and Dorothy rolled over for another cat-nap.

“If you’ll be good enough to sit up now, Miss Jordan—I have your
breakfast here.”

Dorothy awoke again, yawned and stretched luxuriously. Gretchen stood
beside her bed with the breakfast tray.

“If you’ll be good enough to sit up, miss?” she repeated.

Dorothy punched the pillows into position behind her, slipped the
quilted gown about her shoulders and leaned back. Gretchen moved
nearer—then almost dropped the tray.

“Why—why—miss—”

Dorothy leaned over and steadied the tray. “What’s the matter,
Gretchen?” The little maid was staring at her open-mouthed, her big blue
eyes as round as saucers.

“Oh, I—I beg your pardon, but it’s—it’s the resemblance, miss—Miss
Jordan.” She set the tray over Dorothy’s knees and drew back still with
that astonished look. “I couldn’t see you very well before, miss, with
the covers up to your eyes. But when you sat up, it sure did give me a
start.”

“What do you mean, Gretchen? The resemblance to whom?” Dorothy,
outwardly calm, fingered her glass of orange juice, but her thoughts
raced toward this new complication.

“Why, you look so much like Dorothy Dixon—the flyer, you know, miss.
She’s my hero—I mean, heroine, Miss Jordan. I’ve read everything the
newspapers printed about her and Bill Bolton. You must have read about
them too, everybody has?”

“Oh, yes, I’ve heard about them.” Dorothy hoped her tone sounded
indifferent. “But you know, Gretchen, newspaper pictures are often very
poor likenesses.”

The girl smiled and nodded. “I know that, Miss Jordan. I’ve got them all
and there isn’t no two of the pictures that looks alike.”

“Then how—?”

“You see, it wasn’t the newspaper pictures I was thinking of, miss, but
Dorothy Dixon herself. You see I know Miss Dixon,” she went on proudly,
“and you two are certainly the spittin’ images of each other, if you
don’t mind my saying so.”

Dorothy minded very much, but it was not consistent with the part she
was playing to admit it. Here was a contretemps not even Ashton Sanborn
had foreseen. Yet, of course, New Canaan was only ten miles away. She
had many friends in Ridgefield, and she’d been there hundreds of times.
But she simply couldn’t remember having seen Gretchen in any of their
homes. Her answer was but a feeble stall for time.

“So you know her then?” she said lamely.

“Oh, yes, miss. Not well, you understand. I saw her and Mr. Bill Bolton
first when they finished the endurance test on the Conway motor this
fall. Then a few days later, I drove over to her house in our
flivver—over to New Canaan, you know, and I called on Miss Dixon. I
wanted her to autograph a picture of herself I’d cut out of the Sunday
paper.”

“And you met her?” Dorothy remembered the incident perfectly now. But
the maid’s uniform—and her hair—when she had seen her, Gretchen had
worn two braids over her shoulders, very much the schoolgirl. No wonder
she hadn’t recognized her. But now what should she do? Would it be
possible to keep up this camouflage with a girl whom she had met and
with whom she would come in daily contact? Gretchen was talking again.

“Yes indeed, I met her. And she was just darling to me, Miss Jordan. She
even gave me one of her own photographs and wrote on it, too. You see,
us Schmidts came over from Germany about a hundred years ago, but we’re
honest-to-goodness Americans just the same. Father was in the American
army during the war. He was an aviation mechanic. He found one of them
Iron Crosses of the Germans on some battlefield in France and kept it
for a mascot. And would you believe it, miss, Father never even got
wounded once, the whole time he was over there! Perhaps it was the
little Iron Cross, and perhaps it wasn’t. Anyway, he thought a lot of
his mascot. When I was ten years old, he had it fixed on a thin gold
chain for me to wear around my neck, and gave it to me on my birthday.
Well, when I went to see Miss Dixon this fall, I took it with me. She
goes up in her airplane so much and does so many other exciting things,
I wanted her to have it. She didn’t want to take the cross at first, but
I persuaded her to, just the same. And you don’t know how nice she was
to me, Miss! Took me out to see Will-o-the-Wisp—that’s her plane, you
know—she calls it Wispy for short. And I had a perfectly grand time.
She’s my heroine, all right. And you, miss—I hope you’ll excuse me for
talking so much about it—but you look exactly like her, and your voices
are just the same, too. It’s wonderful!”

“So you are Margaret Schmidt,” Dorothy said slowly.

“Yes, miss, that is so, though everybody calls me Gretchen. How did you
know my given name, Miss Jordan? Is Miss Dixon a friend of yours? Did
she tell you about me? But that’s silly—she wouldn’t remember me.”

Dorothy looked the little maid straight in the eyes. “She remembers you,
Gretchen. Would you be willing to do something for her—to keep a
secret, a very important and maybe a dangerous one? Do you think you
could do it?”

Gretchen looked awestruck, then she smiled. “Mother says I’m the
closest-mouthed girl she ever saw, miss. They could cut me in pieces
before I ever let out any secret of Dorothy Dixon’s. I’d never tell—not
me! You can trust me, Miss Jordan.”

“I’m sure I can, Gretchen. And I’m going to.” Dorothy slipped her hand
into the V-neck of her pajamas. “Remember this?”

“Why—it’s—it’s my Iron Cross—that I gave Dorothy Dixon. How in the
world—?”

“I am Dorothy Dixon.” Dorothy broke into laughter at the bewildered
expression on the girl’s face.

“But—but I don’t understand!” Gretchen stammered as though her tongue
was half-paralyzed. “I knew the resemblance was wonderful—but—they
said you were Miss Janet Jordan—and—”

“You sit down on the end of the bed,” said Dorothy, “I’ll go on with my
breakfast before it gets cold, and explain at the same time. We won’t be
disturbed, will we?”

“Oh, no, miss.”

“How about your work, Gretchen? Will you be wanted downstairs?”

“Mr. Tunbridge told me to unpack your trunk, miss—Miss Dixon—and to
make myself generally useful.”

“Fine,” smiled Dorothy, pouring out a cup of coffee. “But keep on
calling me Miss Jordan—otherwise you’ll be making slips in the name in
front of other people and that would be fatal.”

“Yes, Miss Jordan,” Gretchen grinned happily.

“After this beastly business is over,” Dorothy went on, “we’ll be
Gretchen and Dorothy to each other.”

The other girl looked a trifle embarrassed. “But I’m only a chambermaid,
Miss Jordan,” she said shyly.

“Don’t be silly!” Dorothy waved away the argument with a sweep of her
spoon. “You’re proving yourself a real friend—and that’s that.”

“Very well, Miss Jordan.”

“Now pin back your ears, Gretchen.” Dorothy lifted the cover from her
scrambled eggs. “I am taking my cousin, Janet Jordan’s place as Mrs.
Lawson’s secretary. Nobody in this house knows who I am except Mr.
Tunbridge, nor must they be given the slightest hint that I am anybody
but Janet Jordan. As you’ve probably guessed, Janet and I look almost
exactly alike. Our mothers were twins and that probably accounts for
it.”

“Gee—” breathed Gretchen. “It’s just like a story in a book!”

Dorothy bit into a slice of buttered toast. “Maybe it is,” she admitted,
speaking with her mouth full. “But the point is that you and I are
living this story and it may come to a very abrupt and unpleasant ending
unless we’re both terribly careful. Let’s see—where was I? Oh, yes. Mr.
Tunbridge and I are working together on this case, working for the
United States Government.”

“Secret Service?” asked Gretchen in an awed whisper.

“Yes.”

“Then I’ll be working for the secret service too?” Dorothy could see
that the girl was very much impressed with the idea.

“You will, Gretchen—that is, you are—under me. But don’t get too
pepped up about it. The work we are on is serious and it is extremely
dangerous into the bargain. I wouldn’t have brought you into it unless I
had to. Right now I haven’t the slightest notion how you are going to be
fitted into the picture. But I couldn’t have you going around, talking
about how much Janet Jordan looks like Dorothy Dixon, could I? Doctor
Winn and the Lawsons have no idea of either the resemblance or the
relationship. If that came out and they got wind of it—well, there’s no
telling what might happen.”

“Especially,” chimed in Gretchen, “after all the detective work you did
in those three big cases over to New Canaan this summer and fall.”

“You’ve got it,” declared Dorothy, and sipped her coffee. “A robbery is
being planned here, Gretchen, a robbery of some very valuable papers
from Doctor Winn’s safe. The thieves will probably try to pull it off
tonight. These papers, which have to do with an invention of the
Doctor’s are worth a million dollars or more to any number of people. So
you see the thieves are playing for big stakes, and I might as well tell
you that they aren’t the kind that would let a thing like murder stop
them. And now that you know the facts, are you willing to go on with
it?”

Gretchen seemed horrified that Dorothy should doubt her. “Oh, Miss
Jordan, I don’t want to get murdered any more than anybody else—but,
I’m not afraid—honest I’m not!”

“I knew you were true blue,” smiled Dorothy. “So we’ll call it a deal,
shall we?”

“You bet!” The two girls solemnly shook hands. “What do you want me to
do first, Miss Jordan?” Gretchen asked eagerly.

“Move this tray onto the chair over there, please. Then while I’m taking
a bath and dressing you might unpack Janet Jordan’s clothes. I’ll choose
something to wear later.”

“Very good, Miss Jordan.” The little maid took the tray, then stopped
short, her round blue eyes very serious. “But what about the secret
service work?”

“Just carry on as usual for the present.” Dorothy slipped out of bed.
“And remember—not a word to anyone about what I’ve told you—not even
Mr. Tunbridge. I don’t know myself exactly what I’m to do yet. Mrs.
Lawson expects me downstairs in about half an hour, so I’ve got to
hustle. If I need your help later on, I’ll get word to you somehow.”

“I hope you will need me, Miss Jordan.” Gretchen was taking Janet’s
frocks from the wardrobe trunk.

“And I hope I shan’t!” said Dorothy, and she disappeared into the
bathroom.



                              Chapter XII

                                 TESTS


Dorothy came down the wide staircase a few minutes before eleven-thirty.
She wore a dark blue morning frock of her cousin’s, its simplicity
relieved only by the soft white collar and deep cuffs. Except for being
rather tight across the shoulders it fitted her as though she had been
poured into it. She had selected this dress because she knew it was just
the sort of thing a new secretary would be expected to wear.

She crossed the broad hall to the open door of the library, and there
found Mrs. Lawson standing before a window staring into the storm.
Although Dorothy’s footsteps made practically no sound on the thick pile
of the handsome Bokhara rug, the woman turned like a flash at her
entrance.

“Oh, good morning, Janet.” The frown on her face gave way to a pleasant
smile. “I hope you were comfortable last night. Did you sleep well?”

“I dropped off as soon as my head touched the pillow,” she answered,
taking Mrs. Lawson’s outstretched hand. Dorothy did not believe in
telling a lie unless it was in a good cause; but when necessary, she
invariably made the lie a good one.

“I hope the storm didn’t wake you,” smiled Laura, holding Dorothy’s
hand.

Dorothy did not reply at once. Two long fingers were lightly pressing
her wrist, and she saw that Mrs. Lawson’s eyes had strayed to the
grandfather’s clock in the corner of the room. “Test number one,” she
said to herself. “Mrs. du Val, alias Lawson is counting my pulse. Well,
I’ve got a clear conscience, perhaps I can give her a shock.” She drew
her hand away and answered the woman’s question in her normal voice.
“Oh, the storm! No, I never heard it, Mrs. Lawson. If that hot lemonade
had been drugged, I couldn’t have slept any sounder!”

“What makes you say that?” snapped her employer, and beneath the velvet
tone, Dorothy sensed the ring of steel.

She dropped her eyes, and turning toward the open hearth, held out her
hands to the crackling blaze. “Oh, I don’t know,” she said sweetly and
like the clever little strategist that she was, opened her own offensive
in the enemy’s territory. “I have the bad habit of occasionally walking
in my sleep, Mrs. Lawson—and especially when I spend the night in a
strange bed. Perhaps it’s nervousness—I don’t know.”

Mrs. Lawson threw her a sharp glance. “Sit down, Janet,” she suggested,
pointing to a chair near the fire, and taking one herself across the
hearth. “You’re—I mean, you don’t seem to be at all nervous this
morning.”

“Good old pulse!” thought Dorothy. Then aloud—“No, I feel splendidly,
thank you. But, you see, I didn’t walk in my sleep last night.”

“But surely you can’t tell when you do it!”

“Oh, yes, I can.” Dorothy’s manner and tone were those of the simple
schoolgirl proud of an unusual accomplishment.

“You don’t expect me to believe that you know what you’re doing when you
walk in your sleep, Janet. That’s impossible!”

“Not while I’m sleepwalking, Mrs. Lawson. That wasn’t what I said—but
when I have been sleepwalking—there’s a difference, you see?”

“Well?” The lady of the house objected to being contradicted and took no
trouble to hide it.

“It’s really very simple,” explained Dorothy, painstakingly, as though
she were speaking to a rather stupid child. “I found out how to do it.
You see, I’ve been walking in my sleep ever since I was a little thing.
When I get in bed at night I leave my slippers on the floor beside it
pointed outward—away from the bed. We all leave them that way, I guess.
It’s the natural thing to do.”

“But what have slippers got to do with it?” Laura was becoming
impatient.

“Everything, so far as I’m concerned, Mrs. Lawson. When I’ve been
walking at night, I always find them in the morning beside the bed, but
pointing _toward_ it. I evidently slip them off before I get back into
bed, and—”

“I’m beginning to think you are quite a clever girl, Janet.”

“Oh, thank you,” said Dorothy with a guilelessness that was sheer
camouflage. “Has anybody been saying I’m stupid? I’ve always stood high
in my classes at school.”

“Oh, not stupid, child—but nervous—perhaps a little unbalanced,
especially this past week.”

Dorothy raised her heavy lashes and looked Mrs. Lawson squarely in the
face. This might be a test she was undergoing and it probably was; but
here was a heaven sent chance to stir up discord in the enemy’s camp.
She must work up to it gradually.

“I know that I was nervous and upset past all endurance.” She leaned
forward, her hands on the arms of the chair. “How would you like your
father to lock you in your bedroom for a week, without ever coming to
see you, or giving you any explanation for such outrageous treatment? Am
I a child to be handled like that? To be shipped up here to strangers,
whether I wanted to go or not? How would you feel about it, Mrs. Lawson,
if you were me? Don’t say you would submit to it sitting down.”

“But I am taking you on as my secretary,” the lady hedged. “Offering you
a good position for which you’ll be paid twenty dollars a week. That’s
not to be thought of lightly, especially in these times.”

“But it doesn’t seem to strike you that I might like to have something
to say about it,” Dorothy replied calmly. “As for the salary—that’s no
inducement. My mother left me five thousand a year. I came into the
income on my last birthday, so you see I have nearly a hundred dollars a
week, whether I work or not.”

“I didn’t know that, of course,” Mrs. Lawson admitted and none too
graciously. “Your father wants you to be here while he’s away. I hope
you aren’t going to be difficult, Janet.”

“I hope not, Mrs. Lawson. I shall be glad to stay here for a while and
do the work you’d planned for me; but if I do, it must be as a guest and
not as a paid dependant.”

“But you are a guest, Janet.”

“I shall not accept a salary, Mrs. Lawson.”

“Very well, my dear, if you wish it that way.”

“Thank you very much.”

“To get back to our former topic,” Mrs. Lawson said, and lit a
cigarette. “I can understand that your father’s conduct in confining you
to your room might be exasperating—but why should it make you nervous?
And my husband tells me that when he visited you in your room you acted
as though you were in deadly fear of something or somebody every time he
saw you. What was the trouble, Janet? Was anything worrying you?”

“Yes, there was, Mrs. Lawson.”

Dorothy looked down at the andirons, and her hands on the chair arms
twisted embarrassedly. From the corner of her eye she saw a smile of
satisfaction light up the older woman’s face. She knew she was playing
with fire and that Mrs. Lawson was watching her as a hawk watches its
defenseless prey before it strikes. But all unknown to her inquisitor,
Dorothy had been leading her into this trap as a move forward in her own
game. Genuine dislike for the woman as well as a mischievous impulse on
her part drew her to make the scene as dramatic and convincing as
possible.

“Yes—I—I—was afraid,” she went on, dragging out the words slowly.

“Then don’t you think you’d better tell me about it, Janet? I’m nearly
old enough to be your mother. Let me take your mother’s place, dear.
Give me your confidence. I feel sure I’ll be able to help you, child.”

This reference to Janet’s dead mother by a woman who was the vilest kind
of a hypocrite swept away Dorothy’s last compunction. She herself was
going to commit justifiable libel. Mrs. Lawson, on the other hand, was
attempting to lead Janet Jordan into a confession of shamming sleep at
the fateful meeting a week ago. And such a confession meant a sentence
of death from this beautiful siren who gazed at her so winningly, who
puffed a cigarette so nonchalantly while she waited for an unsuspecting
girl to commit herself.

“Well, I don’t know—I can’t help hesitating to tell _you_, Mrs.
Lawson,” Dorothy began timidly.

“There’s no need to be afraid of anything,” replied the woman, only half
veiling the sneer that went with the words.

“Oh, but you see, there is, Mrs. Lawson!” Dorothy’s manner was still
indecisive. “I don’t want—in fact, I hate awfully to hurt you this
way.”

“Hurt me!” Mrs. Lawson’s cigarette snapped into the fireplace like a
miniature comet. “Hurt me, child? What in the wide world are you talking
about?”

“Just what I say, Mrs. Lawson.”

Mrs. Lawson sniffed. “Don’t be ridiculous, Janet. Out with it now. What
did you fear when you were locked in your room?”

“Your husband, Mrs. Lawson.”

“My husband!”

“Yes.”

“But—why—I don’t believe you.”

“Oh, very well. You asked the question, I was trying to answer it,
that’s all.”

Mrs. Lawson bit her lip. She was furious. “As long as you’ve said what
you have, you’d better go on with it,” she said acidly.

“There isn’t any more,” returned Dorothy. “That’s all there is.”

“But surely he must have given you reasons for your assertion.” Mrs.
Lawson had walked beautifully into Dorothy’s trap. Her own plan to snare
an unsuspecting girl had been blotted out by the shadow of the Green
Goddess, Jealousy. “Tell me what my husband did or said to make you fear
him, and tell me at once.”

“It wasn’t what he did, Mrs. Lawson—it was the way he looked.”

“What do you mean—the way he looked?”

Dorothy had thrust a painful knife into the mental cosmos of her
adversary. Now she deliberately turned it in the wound. “Very probably,”
she said quietly, looking her straight in the eyes, “you can remember
how Mr. Lawson looked when he first made love to you. I don’t want to be
made love to, and I don’t like _him_, Mrs. Lawson.”

“What did you do?”

“I told him to leave me—and when he would not go, I simply walked into
my bathroom and locked the door.”

“But what happened the next time he came? Martin went in to see you
every day, didn’t he?”

“He did. But he talked to me through the bathroom door. Just as soon as
I heard the key turn in the lock I’d hop in there.”

The man she had been talking about must have been listening just outside
in the hall, for now he strode into the room and up to Dorothy. “That,”
he said menacingly, “is a deliberate lie, Miss Janet Jordan!”



                              Chapter XIII

                                WINNITE


Dorothy looked up and smiled carelessly at the man. “You’re very polite,
Mr. Lawson. Perhaps it isn’t my place to say it to a man old enough to
be my father—but eavesdroppers rarely hear good of themselves.”

Martin Lawson, who prided himself upon his youthful appearance, grew
angrier than ever. “I—I won’t stand for such outrageous libel,” he
thundered. “I’ve always treated you as though you were my own—well,
daughter, if you like.”

“I _don’t_ like it, Mr. Lawson—but that doesn’t make any difference,”
Dorothy’s tone was one of pained acceptance. “If you listened long
enough, you will know that I didn’t bring this matter up myself. Mrs.
Lawson was asking questions and I was trying to answer them, that’s all.
If you prefer it, I’ll say that it was the wind whistling outside the
windows that made me afraid.” She looked over at Mrs. Lawson, who was
watching them through half shut eyes, as though to say, “—you
understand, of course—anything for peace.”

Martin Lawson intercepted the glance and became even more furious, if
that were possible. “You—you little viper!” he snarled. “Laura, don’t
you believe a word of it. The whole thing’s her own invention—a pack of
lies!”

“A silly schoolgirl fancy, if you like, Martin.” Laura Lawson’s tone was
expressionless. “But I can understand it just the same. Yes, I can
understand it.”

“What do you mean—you understand it?”

“I was a girl once myself,” she replied in the same colorless tone. “And
then, you see, I know you very, very well.”

“Oh, you do, do you?”

“He’s off again,” sighed Dorothy, but quite to herself.

“And you have the nerve to insinuate—?” the angry man went on, beside
himself with rage. “You know as well as I do, Laura, that this girl was
afraid because of what she saw and heard at the meeting. She—”

“That will be quite enough, Martin.” His wife interrupted him sharply.
“And what is more—you probably have not noticed that since Janet has
been here and with other people, she is very much herself—and afraid of
nothing at all.”

“What meeting is he talking about, Mrs. Lawson?” Dorothy pointedly
ignored the angry husband.

Mrs. Lawson stood up. “Never mind that now,” she decreed, albeit
pleasantly. “Come along with me to my office. I have some typing I’d
like you to do for me before luncheon. Martin!” She swung round on her
husband. “You will wait here for me. I’ll be back in a few minutes—I
want to talk to you.” She slipped her arm through Dorothy’s and drew her
from the room.

Once in the entrance hall, she led her back and under the gallery to a
corridor which opened at the right of the broad stairs. Dorothy saw that
there were several doors in the right hand wall. Mrs. Lawson stopped at
the second of these and opened it.

They walked in and Dorothy saw that they were in the office. It seemed
very businesslike and austere after coming from the luxury of the
library and spacious hall. Near the one window stood a broad table desk,
and opposite that a typewriter desk. Two steel filing cabinets and three
plain chairs completed the room’s furnishings. The walls were hung with
framed blueprints and a large-scale map of Fairfield County,
Connecticut.

Mrs. Lawson took some papers from a drawer in the large desk and handed
them to Dorothy. “This is in longhand, as you see,” she explained,
“please type it, double space, and I’d like to have a carbon copy.” She
glanced at a small wrist-watch set with diamonds. “It is just noon now.
Luncheon is at one. Do you think you can finish the work by that time?”

Dorothy glanced at the manuscript. “This won’t make more than four
typewritten sheets. I can do it easily in an hour and have time to
spare.”

“Good!” The older woman patted her lightly on the shoulder. “Take your
time about it. Do you think you can read my handwriting?”

“Nothing could be plainer, Mrs. Lawson.” Dorothy smiled back at her.

“Very well, then. I’ll see you at lunch. The dining room is across the
hall from the library.”

At the door, she stopped and turned as though she had just remembered
something.

“Don’t let what my husband said bother you, Janet.”

“That’s forgotten already,” Dorothy said easily.

“Like most men, he flies off the handle when irritated. Pay no attention
to it.”

“I understand.”

Mrs. Lawson hesitated for the fraction of a second. “By the way, Janet,”
she remarked. “When was the last time you walked in your sleep—that you
found your slippers pointed toward your bed in the morning?”

Dorothy pretended to think. “Let me see,” she said slowly. “Yes—it was
the night before Daddy locked me in my room! I found that I couldn’t get
out in the morning, and naturally, I wanted to know the reason why. I
still do, for that matter. Except for some foolishness about my being
ill, I’m still waiting for an explanation. As a matter of fact, I was
perfectly well. I’m terribly annoyed, of course, and it worries me to
think that Daddy should act this way, but so far as my health goes, I’ve
never felt better.”

“I’m glad to hear it, dear. We’ll check up on your father when he
returns. I’m your friend, you know. Don’t let the matter prey on your
mind.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Lawson. I’ll try to do as you say.” Dorothy thought she
was going then, but it seemed that the woman had still another question
that she had been holding back.

“When you are in this somnambulistic state,” she said, “when you are
sleepwalking, I mean, doesn’t it terrify you to awaken and find yourself
out of your bed?”

Dorothy frowned and seemed puzzled. “Perhaps it would,” she admitted.
“But then, you see, I can’t remember ever wakening while I was walking
during the night. I must sleep very soundly. At school the night
watchman or one of the teachers would frequently find me walking about
the building. They would lead me back to bed, or just tell me to go
there, and I would always obey. Until they told me about it next day, I
knew nothing of course. That’s how I got onto the business of the
slippers, you see.”

“Oh, yes. I wondered how you’d been able to check on it. Well, I must
trot along now and let you get to work. Until luncheon then, my dear.”

She was gone at last and Dorothy made a face at the closed door. “Of all
the plausible hypocrites I’ve ever met,” she muttered, “you certainly
take the well known chocolate cake!”

She sat down at the typewriter desk, pulled out the machine, and slipped
in two sheets of paper and a carbon that she found in one of the
drawers. Halfway through a perusal of Mrs. Lawson’s first page, she
looked up. The door opened quickly and Mr. Tunbridge came into the room.

“I’ve just a moment,” he prefaced hurriedly. “They mustn’t find me here.
What was the row in the library?”

Dorothy explained briefly.

“Fine! Put you through the hoops, eh? I had a good idea she would do
something of the kind. You came out of a difficult situation with flying
colors, I take it. But be careful about run-ins with Lawson. He’s a
slick article—in fact, the two of them are a pair of the slickest
articles it’s ever been my misfortune to run across. And they’re going
it hammer and tongs in the library right now. I was a bit worried about
you, that’s why I took this chance.”

“When do I get my instructions for tonight?”

“Late this afternoon, probably. I’ll get them to you somehow.”

“Thanks. And here’s something else. This script I’m going to type for
Mrs. L. has to do with the properties of a highly explosive gas which
seems to burn up everything it comes in contact with and lets off fumes
of deadly poison while it’s doing that! Shall I make a copy for you?”

“Please do!” His hand rested on the doorknob. “Yes, it’s important that
we have a copy. That’s the stuff Doctor Winn has just invented, without
a doubt.”

“Awful!” exclaimed Dorothy. “Just think what would happen if that were
used in a war!”

“That’s the government’s business, Miss Dixon.”

“‘Ours but to do—and die—’” she quoted and her tone was deadly
serious.

“Quite right. But make the carbon copy just the same—and don’t let them
catch you at it.”

“I won’t, Mr. Tunbridge.”

“Bye-bye, then. I’ll get along now. There may be some home truths
floating out of the library that will give me extra dope on the
du-Val—Lawson pair.”

The door closed, and after slipping an extra carbon and a sheet of very
thin copy paper into the typewriter, Dorothy read Mrs. Lawson’s treatise
on “Winnite and Its Properties” from start to finish.

“Horrible!” she murmured, as she finished reading. “Simply horrible!”
Again her eyes sought the last paragraph. “The effect is easily
estimated of an airplane dropping a single bomb filled with the
explosive, inflammable and deadly poison gas, Winnite, upon Manhattan
Island, for instance: the bomb would explode upon detonation and within
an inconceivably short space of time, not only would the City of Greater
New York be in flames, but every living thing within that area would be
dead from the poison fumes. This includes not only human, animal and
insect life, but all vegetable matter as well.”

Dorothy sighed. “And I am supposed to help keep this terrible stuff from
the hands of thieves so that our government may use it in time of war.
Well—we’ll see—and that’s not that by a long shot!”

She put down the manuscript and began to type it.



                              Chapter XIV

                               PROFESSOR


Dorothy, upon finishing the article on Winnite, laid the original and
first carbon copy of the typewritten sheets on Mrs. Lawson’s desk. The
almost transparent sheets of the second carbon copy she folded carefully
as though she meant to place them in an envelope. But instead of this,
her right foot slipped out of its walking pump, the sheer silk stocking
followed it. Then she put on the stocking again, but now the soft papers
rested between the stocking and the sole of her foot. The pump fitted
more snugly than before, although not uncomfortably so. Content with her
morning’s work, she had closed the typewriter and was studying the
effect of a new shade of powder in her compact mirror when Mrs. Lawson
came into the room.

“I take it you’ve finished the work?”

“The original and copy are beside the longhand manuscript on your desk,”
said Dorothy, toning down her efforts with the puff. “I’ve read it over
and I don’t think you’ll find any mistakes.”

Mrs. Lawson ran her eyes over the typewritten sheets. “They are without
a fault,” she declared, placing them in a drawer. “If you take dictation
as accurately as you type, Janet, you’ll be the perfect secretary.”

“Thank you,” said Dorothy demurely and slipped the compact into the
pocket of her frock. “It is very nice of you to say that.”

“Then we’ll go in to luncheon, shall we? That is, if you’re ready?”

Dorothy stood up. “Quite ready, Mrs. Lawson, and good and hungry, too.”

“Splendid!” enthused her hostess, as they walked down the corridor
toward the entrance hall. “Doctor Winn declares this Connecticut Ridge
country is the most healthful section of the United States. And even if
some people have other ideas on the subject, I can testify that it is a
great appetite builder.”

Dorothy smiled, but said nothing. She was wondering how healthful she
was going to find this particular spot in the Ridge country after what
she had to do tonight.

“Doctor Winn always lunches in his study,” continued Mrs. Lawson. “That
is the room just beyond my office. My husband has been called to New
York on business. He won’t be back until after dinner tonight, so we
will be alone at luncheon.”

For some reason of her own, Laura Lawson had become affability itself.
And for this Dorothy gave thanks. That she disliked this truly beautiful
creature was only natural. But it is much more pleasant to lunch with a
person who puts herself out to be charming and affable, no matter what
your private opinion of the other’s character may be.

The dining room proved to be a low-ceiled apartment paneled in white
pine; heavy beams of the satin-finished wood overhead, and on the walls
several colorful landscapes in oils, evidently the works of artists who
knew and loved this Ridge country. A cheerful log fire burned brightly
on the open hearth beneath a high mantelpiece. Outside, the heavy snow
continued to drive past frosted window-panes, but within all was warmth
and coziness.

Dorothy enjoyed the meal thoroughly. Like most girls, she revelled in
luxury when it came her way. Not only was her hostess an interesting and
entertaining conversationalist, the delicious food served by Tunbridge
and a second man in plum-colored knee breeches, added materially to her
pleasure. She was really sorry when the butler lighted his mistress’
cigarette and Mrs. Lawson rose from the table.

“I have no work for you this afternoon, Janet,” said the lady, as they
strolled into the spacious hall with its suits of polished armor and
trophies of war and the chase decorating the walls. “I have some work to
complete with Doctor Winn, so I won’t be free to entertain you. There
are periodicals and novels in the library. If it weren’t such a beastly
day, I would suggest a walk.”

“Oh, I don’t mind a snowstorm!” Dorothy smiled at her. “I’d love to be
out in it for a while.”

“But I’m afraid you might get lost. The blizzard is driving out of the
northeast—and that means something in this country. You’ll find it more
disagreeable than you think.”

“I’m not afraid to walk in a blizzard,” Dorothy argued, “we used to do
it a lot at school—I love it.”

“Oh, very well, then,” went on Mrs. Lawson. “I used to enjoy that sort
of thing myself. Somebody had better go with you, though. Let me see—”
She hesitated. “Oh, yes—Gretchen will be just the person. She’s a nice
little thing—a native of Ridgefield, you know. Gretchen can show you
round the place, and there’ll be no chance of your getting lost.”

Dorothy was amused by this pretended concern for her safety. She knew
that Mrs. Lawson feared she might take it into her head to walk to the
railroad station and board the first train back to town. Gretchen as
guide and chaperone would be able to forestall anything like that. Mrs.
Lawson was not yet sure of the new secretary!

Dorothy’s features betrayed no sign of her thoughts. “That will be ever
so much pleasanter than going alone,” she agreed. “Gretchen seems to be
a sweet girl. I saw her this morning when she brought my breakfast and
unpacked my clothes. I’m sorry, though, that you can’t come too.”
Deception, she found, was becoming a habit when treating with her
hostess.

“Thank you, my dear—I’m sorry, too.” Mrs. Lawson went toward the
tasselled bell rope that hung beside the fireplace. “Run upstairs now
and get into warm things. I’ll ring for Gretchen and have her meet you
down here in quarter of an hour.”

Fifteen minutes afterward, warmly dressed in whipcord jodhpurs, a heavy
sweater and knee-length leather coat of dark green, Dorothy came out of
her room onto the gallery, pulling a white wool skating cap well down
over her ears. With a white wool scarf twisted about her throat, the
long ends thrown back over her shoulders, she looked ready for any
winter sport as she ran lightly down the stairs, the rubber soles of her
high arctics making no sound on the broad oaken steps.

Gretchen, well bundled up in sweater and heavy tweed skirt was waiting
for her.

“You certainly do look like a picture on a Christmas magazine cover,
Miss Jordan,” the girl exclaimed, while they walked to the front door.
“I’m glad you’ve got warm gauntlets. It’s mighty cold out—you’ll need
them.”

Dorothy laughed gaily and swung open the door. “Nothing could be more
becoming than your own costume, Gretchen. That light blue skating set is
just the color of your eyes.”

“That,” chuckled Gretchen, “is the real reason I bought it.”

They were outside now and standing under the wide porte-cochere of glass
and wrought iron.

“It’s glorious out here, and not too cold, either.” Dorothy sniffed the
sharp air enthusiastically. “I hate staying indoors on a wild day like
this. Look at those big flakes spinning down and sideslipping into the
drifts. It makes one glad to be alive.”

“You said it, Miss Jordan. I love it myself—though I never thought of
snowflakes being like airplanes before. Which way do you want to go?”

“You’re the leader, Gretchen. Anywhere you say suits me.”

“Then let’s tramp over to the pond, Miss Jordan. The ice ought to be
holding. We’ll stop at the garage and fetch a broom along. There’s too
much snow for skating, but we might make a slide.”

“That will be fun,” agreed Dorothy, as they came down the steps and
swung along the white expanse of driveway. “I haven’t done anything like
that since I was a kid. How far’s the pond from here?”

“About half a mile. Doctor Winn owns several hundred acres. It’s down
yonder in a hollow. This time of year when the trees are bare, you can
see it plainly from the house. Today there’s too much snow.”

“There certainly is plenty of it!” Dorothy was ploughing through the
fluffy white mass nearly up to her knees. “A good eighteen inches must
have fallen already and it’s drifting fast. If it doesn’t stop by
tonight, Winncote will be snowed in for a while. What’s that building
over there, Gretchen—gray stone, isn’t it?”

“That’s the laboratory, miss. It’s really a wing of the house. The
stables are just beyond, but this storm’s so thick, it blots them out.
Well, here we are at the garage. If you’ll wait a minute, I’ll step
inside and get a broom.”

“Get two if you can,” suggested Dorothy. “Then we’ll both get some
exercise, and they’ll come in handy while we’re getting through the
drifts.”

“I’ll do my best,” said Gretchen. She disappeared through a door in the
side of the building.

Dorothy looked about her. Rolling clouds of windswept snowflakes made it
impossible to see objects more than a few yards away with any
distinctness. The dark shadow of low clouds painted the white of her
landscape a cold, dull gray. But she noticed, as she waited, that the
storm was driving in gusts, that occasionally there would be a short
lull when the sun, tinging the sky with rose and yellow, seemed fighting
to break its way through to this white-blanketed world. Then Gretchen, a
broom in each hand, joined her.

“Whew! that place was stuffy,” she said, handing one of the brooms to
Dorothy, and starting ahead at right angles from the way they had come.
“Hanley made a fuss giving me two—he would! It’s a wonder the cars
don’t melt in there. He keeps the place like an oven. All the help from
the city is like that. They can’t seem to get warm enough, and the way
they hate fresh air is a caution! I roomed with Sadie, the other
chambermaid, when I first came, and you won’t believe it, but that girl
had nailed our window shut so it couldn’t be opened! I spoke to Mr.
Tunbridge next morning, and he gave me a room of my own. I always did
like Mr. Tunbridge. He’s a real gentleman, he is.”

They forged ahead through the drifts to the crossfire of Gretchen’s
light chatter, and Dorothy was given a series of entertaining stories
concerning the habits of the Winncote servants and their life
below-stairs. It was rough going with the storm in their faces, and
Gretchen eventually ceased her gossiping from sheer lack of breath. The
ground began to slope gently downward, and finally they came to a belt
of trees in a hollow. Fifty yards farther on, a broad expanse of white
marked the extent of Winncote Pond beneath its thick, flat quilt of
snow.

“Think the ice will hold?” Dorothy walked to the brink of the little
lake. “I’d hate to go in on a day like this.”

“Oh, that’s all right. I was down here for an hour yesterday afternoon
with my skates before the snow began, and it was much warmer then. The
ice was wonderful—slick as glass and solid as a rock.”

By dint of considerable exercise they cleared two narrow paths that ran
parallel across the ice. Then they commenced a series of sliding
contests, each girl on her own ice track. Starting at a line in the snow
a few yards above the low bank, they would race forward to the brink and
shoot out on the ice, vying with each other to see who could slide the
farthest. There were several tumbles at first, but the deep snow along
the sides of the tracks prevented bad bumps. Soon, however, they both
became adepts at the sport. Dorothy, aided by her extra weight, for she
was at least twenty pounds heavier than little Gretchen, invariably won.

After a half an hour of this rather violent sport, they cleared the snow
from a fallen tree trunk and sat down for a rest. Here in the hollow,
surrounded by trees, the wind lost a great deal of its force. But the
snow continued to fall unabated, and their hot breath clouded like steam
in the cold air. Their cheeks were tingling crimson from the racing, and
both felt in high good spirits.

“I can’t understand why so many rich people go south every winter,”
Gretchen said earnestly. “I wouldn’t miss out on this fun—the snow and
the skating, tobogganing—for anything in the world.”

“People like that,” decreed Dorothy, “just don’t know how to live. You
can have lots of fun in summer, of course. I don’t know which I love the
best. But this sort of thing makes you feel just grand. It certainly put
the pep into—.” She stopped short and sprang to her feet. From
somewhere close by and seemingly below her, had come a low, moaning
sound.

Gretchen jumped up. Her doll-like face with its round, blue eyes took on
a look of startled wonder. “What was that?” she cried. “It sounded as if
I—as if I was sitting on it!”

Again came the low cry in a weird, minor key.

“You were. It’s coming from the inside of this log. An animal of some
kind.”

“Why, I guess you’re right. Whatever it is, the thing gave me the
heebie-jeebies for a minute.”

The snow had drifted over the butt of the half-rotted tree. Dorothy took
her broom and swept it clear.

“The log’s hollow!” she exclaimed and bent down. “Yes, there’s something
in there—I can see its eyes—come here, Gretchen! You can see for
yourself.”

“Not me!” declared that young woman. “I don’t want to get bit—I mean,
bitten, miss.”

“Oh, never mind the grammar.” Dorothy was almost standing on her head,
trying to get a better view. “But do cut out the polite trimmings when
we’re alone. You’re Gretchen and I’m Dorothy—savez?”

“All right—Dorothy. But please be careful. That thing may jump out at
you.”

“I wish it would. Then I’d know what it is. And whatever it is, the
animal in there can’t be much bigger than a rabbit. The hole isn’t wide
enough.”

“Maybe it is a rabbit.” Gretchen came nearer.

“Did you ever hear a rabbit make a noise like that?” Dorothy’s tone was
disdainful.

“Then—maybe it’s a wildcat!” said Gretchen fearfully.

“Well, if it is, it’s a small one. Here, puss—puss. The silly thing is
too far in to reach. She just blinks at me.”

“Perhaps she’s hurt and crawled in there to die, Dorothy.”

“Aren’t you cheerful! She probably crawled in there to get out of the
storm, and is half-frozen, poor thing.”

“Well, I don’t know what we’re going to do about it,” sighed Gretchen,
still keeping her distance.

Once more the low moan came from the log, but now that the end was free
from snow, the sound was much clearer.

“That’s no wildcat, either!” Dorothy twisted her head, first to the
right, then to the left, in an attempt to get a better light on the
log’s occupant. “There’s too much of a whine in that cry. The thing’s
probably a young fox. How does one call a fox, Gretchen? I’m hanged if I
know.”

“Nor me, neither, Dorothy. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of
anybody wanting to call one.”

They both laughed. “You don’t seem to know much about foxes,” teased
Dorothy. “Didn’t you ever see a fox?”

“No. But my father says the way they steal eggs and suck them is a
caution.”

“Well,” admitted Dorothy, “we can’t stand around here all day, trying to
get frozen foxes out of hollow logs. I’ll try whistling, and you can
make a noise like a sucked egg. If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to
leave him in his lair.” With a wink at the giggling Gretchen, she bent
down again and whistled shrilly. “Here, boy!” she called. “Come on out
to your mama!”

There was a scrambling noise within the log, and Gretchen started for
the pond.

“Oh, be careful, Dorothy! Do be careful!” she cried, as she saw her
friend gather a small creature into her arms. “What is it, anyway—is it
a fox?”

“No, a first cousin.” Dorothy shook the ends of her wool scarf free from
snow and wrapped them around the small animal.

“A first cousin?” Gretchen came nearer. “What in the world do you mean
by that?”

“Come and take a look,” her friend invited. “He won’t bite you, will
you, boy?”

Gretchen saw her pat a little black nose that poked its way out of the
scarf. A long pointed head, brindle and white, in which were set two
snapping black eyes, followed the nose. “Why, why, it’s a fox terrier—a
fox terrier puppy!” she gasped. “How do you suppose he ever came to
crawl into that log?”

Dorothy patted the dog’s head. “Got lost in the storm, I guess. The poor
little chap can’t be over three months old. Does he belong up at the
house?”

“No, he doesn’t. What’s more, none of the people who live around here
have a fox terrier pup that I know of.”

Dorothy examined the pup’s front paws, but did so very gently. “This
little man has come a long way.” She covered him again. “The bottom of
his feet show it. They’re cut and badly swollen. And he’s half-frozen
and starved into the bargain, I’ll bet. Let’s go back to the house and
make him comfortable.”

“I’ll carry the brooms,” said Gretchen. “You have an armful, with him.
By the way, you’re going to keep him, aren’t you?”

“Surest thing you know! That is, unless someone comes to claim him.”

They trudged off through the trees and up the hill, Gretchen shouldering
the brooms.

“What are you going to call him?” she asked, after a while.

“What do you think?”

“Why, I don’t know. Wait a minute, though—there’s a girl who lives over
in Silvermine named Dorothea Gutmann. Daddy sometimes does work for her
father. Dorothea has a fox terrier pup and she calls him ‘Professor.’ Do
you know why?”

“I give up,” said Dorothy, floundering through the snow beside her. “Why
does Dorothea Gutmann call her fox terrier pup Professor?”

“Because,” smiled Gretchen in delight, “he just about ate up a
dictionary!”

Dorothy laughed merrily, and hugged the warm little bundle in her arms.
“And when you’ve got outside a lot of words like that, even a pup would
know as much as the average professor, I s’pose.”

“That’s the way Dorothea thought about it. I’ve been over to the
Gutmanns a couple of times with Daddy and her dog looks enough like
yours to be a twin!”

“We run into doubles nowadays, every day!” Dorothy chuckled. “First it’s
Janet and me who can’t be told apart. Then it’s Dorothea’s dog and mine.
I know her, too, by the way. She’s in the New Canaan Junior High. But I
haven’t seen her puppy. Our names are almost alike, too, but not quite,
thank goodness. If any more of this double identity business comes
along, I’ll just have to give up. A girl’s got to have some sort of a
personality all her own, you know.”

“I wouldn’t let that worry me,” said Gretchen. “There’s only one Dorothy
Dixon, after all.”

“Thanks for those kind words, Gretchen. That’s really very sweet of you,
though. If the pup was a lady, I’d call him ‘Gretchen’. Since he isn’t,
‘Professor’ will do very nicely. We’ll try him on a dictionary when we
get home, that is, after he’s had some nice warm bread and milk, and a
good sleep.”

“If,” smiled Gretchen, “what you said just now was meant for a
compliment—well, I’m glad Professor is not a lady. You’d better go on
to the house, while I drop these brooms in here at the garage. I’ll come
to your room just as soon as I can slip into my uniform, and I’ll bring
up the bread and milk.”

“I always knew you were a dear,” said Dorothy, and she continued to push
her way on toward the house.



                               Chapter XV

                             TEA AND ORDERS


After she had changed her clothes and fed the famished pup with a bowl
of warm milk and bread, Dorothy took him down to the library. Gretchen
brought a small open basket and a blanket and they made him a bed near
the open fire. Professor promptly went to sleep, and his mistress curled
up in a deep chair beside him, reading and dozing for the rest of the
afternoon. To amuse Gretchen, she had placed a dictionary near the
basket, to see if Professor would follow his double’s example and so
justify his name. When he awoke, however, about four o’clock, he merely
jumped out of his bed on to the book, and up to Dorothy’s lap, where he
went to sleep again.

“Good ole pup!” Dorothy rubbed his smooth, warm head between his ears.
“You show your intelligence by using the dictionary as a stepping stone
to better things, don’t you, Prof!”

She yawned, closed her book, and promptly went to sleep again herself.

She awoke with a start, to find Mrs. Lawson smiling down at her.
Tunbridge was laying the tea-things on a table at the other side of the
fire. “Well, my dear,” the lady said, her eyes on the fox terrier, “I
see you’ve found a new friend.”

“Oh, yes, isn’t he just too darling? I found him out in the blizzard, he
was half frozen and almost starved!” She went on to tell Mrs. Lawson
about it.

“I’m afraid I’m not very fond of animals, Janet.” Dorothy noticed that
she did not attempt to touch the puppy. “I don’t dislike them, you
understand, but somehow they never seem to like me.”

“That’s too bad,” said Dorothy. “I do hope you won’t mind my keeping
him—at least until we learn who his owner is?”

Laura Lawson looked doubtful. “Well, I don’t mind. But—this is Doctor
Winn’s house, you know, and his decision, after all, is the one that
counts. You will have to ask him about keeping the dog, Janet.”

“Is Doctor Winn going to have tea with us, Mrs. Lawson?”

“He most certainly is, my dear. That is, if you ladies will pour him a
cup.”

Dorothy glanced up, and beside her stood an old gentleman, very tall and
spare, but bowed with the weight of his years. She knew that the
scientist was well over eighty. Catching up the fox terrier, she rose to
her feet.

“How do you do, Doctor Winn?” She smiled and offered him her hand.

The old gentleman bent over it with courtly grace. “Good afternoon, Miss
Janet Jordan. Welcome to Winncote.” Merry gray eyes twinkled at her from
behind pince-nez attached to a broad black ribbon. An aristocrat of the
old school, Dorothy thought, as she studied his handsome, clean shaven
face crisscrossed with the tiny wrinkles of advanced age. She had
imagined him to be quite a different sort of person. His next words
proved that he read her thoughts.

“You expected to see a musty old fellow, with a long white beard,
wearing a smock stained by chemicals, eh?” He chuckled softly. “Now,
tell me, young lady, isn’t that so? Though I admit these flannel slacks
and old Norfolk jacket are hardly fashionable habiliments when one is
taking tea with ladies!”

He released her hand and smiled a greeting to Mrs. Lawson. The second
footman, he of the plum-colored knee-breeches, set the tea table before
that young matron, under the supervision of the stately Tunbridge.

Dorothy liked this gallant old scientist and his courtly ways. Her own
eyes sparkled gaily back at him. “Yes, you did surprise me, Doctor
Winn,” she confessed. “Please don’t think I’m being forward, but—but
you seem much more like the English fox-hunting squires I’ve read about,
than the world-renowned chemist you really are, with stacks of letters
after your name. But ever so much nicer, and jollier, you know!”

Doctor Winn beamed. “Now that, my dear, is a most charming compliment.
Old fellows like me aren’t used to compliments from young ladies,
either. Do sit down again, please, and tell me how you like Winncote and
our New England snowstorms. We old people need young folks around. I can
see that we are going to be good friends.”

He sat down in a chair the butler drew up for him.

“Mrs. Lawson will tell you,” replied Dorothy, “that I love it out here
in the country.” She accepted a cup of tea from Tunbridge and added
sugar and a slice of lemon. The butler was followed by his liveried
assistant, bearing silver platters of hot, buttered scones and tiny iced
cakes. Professor immediately began to show interest in the proceedings.
Dorothy held him firmly out of harm’s way, and placed her tea and
eatables on the broad arm of her chair.

Mrs. Lawson looked up from her place behind the shining silver and old
china of the tea table. She smiled graciously. “Oh, yes, Janet loves
blizzards, too, Doctor Winn. She went out for a walk this afternoon and
acquired a fox terrier puppy, as you see.”

“And naturally, she wants to keep him.” The old gentleman leaned forward
in his chair, the better to look at Professor. “You certainly may,
Janet. And by the way, I hope you’ll agree that it’s an old man’s
privilege to call you by your first name?”

“Oh, that is sweet of you!” Dorothy cried delightedly, and the Doctor’s
chuckle echoed her pleasure.

“The dog’s got a fine head—a very fine head, indeed. If anybody
advertises for him, or comes to claim him, I’ll take pleasure in buying
the puppy for you.”

“Why, you’re nicer every minute,” declared Dorothy. “Isn’t he,
Professor?”

The pup yawned with great indifference, which set all three of them
laughing. His mistress put him in his blanket where he promptly curled
up and fell into slumber once more.

“I sadly fear,” said Doctor Winn, as he polished his pince-nez with a
white silk handkerchief, “that you are a good deal of a flirt Janet. But
inasmuch as I am old enough to be your grandfather, or
great-grandfather, for that matter, you are pardoned with a reprimand.”
He chuckled deep in his throat, a habit he had when pleased. “Now tell
me, how you happened to find him out in the snow.”

Dorothy recounted the story in detail. When she came to the part about
Gretchen’s fear of the wildcat and the fox, even Mrs. Lawson, who was
none too sure she liked the turn things were taking, broke into a merry
peal of laughter.

“Capital, capital!” Doctor Winn beamed. “I only wish I’d been there to
see it. But why, may I ask, do you call him Professor?”

Dorothy explained about the dictionary and Gretchen’s idea of the pup’s
resemblance to Dorothea Gutmann’s fox terrier.

“Better and better,” exclaimed the Doctor. “This is the jolliest tea
we’ve had in this house for ages. We need young people around us to be
really happy. You and I and Martin, Laura, have been working too hard of
late. ‘All work and no play’—We’ve been bothering too much about things
scientific, and neglecting things personal. Well now, we can rest a
while, and become human beings again.”

Mrs. Lawson leaned forward eagerly. “Then, the formula is complete?” she
asked in a low voice, in which Dorothy detected the barely controlled
tremor of excitement.

“Yes, indeed. Finished and locked in my safe. I added the final figures
and quantities three-quarters of an hour ago. Tomorrow, or if the
weather doesn’t clear by then, the next day at latest, I shall take it
on to Washington.”

“I congratulate you, Doctor. And I know that once it is in the hands of
the government, a great load will be taken off your mind.”

“You’re right, my dear, you are right. I’ve been jumpy as a cat with
eight of its lives gone for the past year.” He turned to Dorothy. “Thank
goodness, you’re young and without responsibilities, Janet. There are so
many unscrupulous people about nowadays. If those papers were lost or
stolen, there is no telling what would happen. I dare not think of it.
The whole world might suffer if that formula got into the wrong hands!”

Dorothy could not help thinking that the world at large would be much
better off if the formula were destroyed. She, therefore, merely nodded
and looked impressed. How this gentle, kindly old man could have brought
himself to invent such a ghastly menace to life, she found it difficult
to understand.

Laura Lawson stood up. “Doctor Winn likes to dine early, Janet, so if we
are to be dressed by six-thirty, we had better start upstairs.”

“My word, yes!” The old gentleman snapped open the hunting case of his
repeater and got stiffly to his feet. “Time flies when one is enjoying
oneself. It’s nearly six o’clock. This has been very pleasant indeed,
the first of many afternoons, I hope.” He snapped the watch shut and
returned it to his pocket. “You ladies will excuse me, I’m sure.” He
bowed to them both, and holding himself much more erect than he had
formerly, walked stiffly from the room.

“He’s simply darling,” exclaimed Dorothy in a hushed voice.

“Yes, he’s a very simple and a very fine old gentleman,” said Laura
Lawson. She seemed lost in her thoughts and evidently unaware that she
uttered them aloud. “Sometimes—I hate to hurt him so.”

“Why—why, what do you mean?” Dorothy could have bitten her own tongue
out for speaking that sentence.

“Mean—? Oh, nothing, child. Run along now, and change. But take your
dog with you. I’ll see that one of the men gives him a run in the
stables while we’re at dinner.”

“Thank you very much,” said Dorothy. She turned the sleeping pup out of
his bed, caught up the basket, and with Professor at her heels, ran
lightly from the room.

Just outside the door she collided with Tunbridge, and Professor’s
basket was jerked from her grasp.

“Oh, I’m so very sorry, Miss Jordan!” His acting was perfect. Dorothy
knew that Mrs. Lawson was close behind them. Then as they both stooped
to retrieve the basket their heads came close together. “Under your
pillow!” It was hardly more than the breath of a whisper, but Dorothy
caught the words, nodded her understanding, and stood up.

“I’m afraid I’m to blame, Tunbridge. I didn’t see you coming.”

“Not at all, Miss. It was my fault, entirely. Very clumsy of me I’m
sure!”

From the corner of her eye Dorothy caught a glimpse of Laura Lawson
watching them from the doorway.

“Don’t let it worry you, Tunbridge. I’m not hurt, neither is the basket.
Professor will probably park himself on my _pillow_ tonight, anyway.
Puppies have a way of doing such things, you know. So it really wouldn’t
matter much if you had smashed it.”

She gave him a nod, and picking up the dog made for the staircase.

“So instructions are waiting under my pillow,” she mused, as she slowly
mounted the broad stair. The afternoon had been a pleasant one, but the
evening, with those instructions ahead of her, portended to be something
quite different. It had been so nice and cheerful, chatting round the
tea table; so cozy sitting before the glowing logs, just talking of
jolly things and forgetting all worry and responsibility. Of course,
beyond the curtained windows, the blizzard howled. And it whipped the
swirling snowflakes into disordered clouds with its arctic lash before
it let them seek the shelter of their fellows in the drifts. She felt
very much as though she too were a snowflake, tossed hither and thither
on the storm of circumstance, to be whipped forward by the secret lash
of underlying crime.

If she could only drop down on to her bed and sleep—and awake to find
it all a bad dream! She sighed and went toward her door on the gallery.
Her pillow held no peace for her tonight—nothing more nor less than
detailed instructions as to how Tunbridge wished her to rob a safe. Why
didn’t the man do his own stealing? Her part was to take Janet’s place
out here, and kill suspicion in Laura Lawson. Well, she’d done that,
hadn’t she? And now they loaded this other job on to her. It wasn’t
fair. She had done enough—she’d—

“Oh, shucks!” She pulled herself up mentally as her hand fell on the
doorknob. “I’ll be losing my nerve altogether, if I let my thoughts run
on this way. D. Dixon, you just _must not_ funk it!”

She turned the knob and entered her room.



                              Chapter XVI

                           CAUGHT IN THE ACT


When Dorothy went down to dinner that evening, she knew exactly what she
had to do. After reading Tunbridge’s note which she found had been
slipped between the pillow case and the pillow itself, she had memorized
the combination to Doctor Winn’s safe, and destroyed the missive as she
had his warning of the night before. After a bath and a complete change
of clothing, she felt refreshed and in a much better frame of mind. She
had selected one of the prettiest gowns in Janet’s wardrobe, a turquoise
blue crepe, with a cluster of silver roses fastened in the twisted
velvet girdle, put on slippers to match, and surveyed the result in the
mirror.

“Decidedly becoming, my girl,” she smiled at her reflection, and gave a
last pat to her shining bob that she had brushed until it lay like a
bronze cap close about her shapely head. “Might as well look my best at
my criminal debut!” She made a face at herself, turned and kissed the
sleeping puppy in his basket, and went downstairs.

Doctor Winn and Mrs. Lawson were standing talking in the entrance hall,
near the fireplace. The old gentleman, dressed in immaculate dinner
clothes, looked more than ever like the English squire in his ancestral
hall. He came forward to meet her, both hands outstretched.

“As charming as an English primrose and twice as beautiful!” he greeted
gaily.

“Thank you kindly, sir.” She dropped him a little curtsey and let him
lead her to Mrs. Lawson.

“Our little secretary has blossomed into a very lovely debutante,” he
beamed.

Dorothy bit her lip, remembering her own phrase of a few moments before,
then smiled at her employer. Mrs. Lawson was regal in black velvet,
trimmed in narrow bands of ermine. She returned Dorothy’s smile, and
lifted her finely pencilled brows at the Doctor. “Oh, you men. You are
all alike. A pretty gown, a pretty face intrigues you, young or old. Pay
no attention to his flattery, Janet. I can hardly blame him, though. You
look lovely tonight. That is an exquisite frock. Did you buy it abroad?”

“Oh, no, at a little place on fifty-seventh street.” Of course Dorothy
had no idea where Janet had bought the dress. “It is a Paris model,
though, Mrs. Lawson.”

“I thought as much. Ah, here comes Tunbridge with the cocktails. I
wonder which side of the fence you are on?”

“I’m—I’m afraid I don’t know quite what you mean, Mrs. Lawson.”

“I’ll explain,” broke in the old gentleman. “I’m the prohibitionist in
this house, Janet. Mrs. Lawson is one of the antis. She likes a real
cocktail before dinner. I prefer one made of tomato juice.”

Mrs. Lawson had already helped herself to a brimming glass and a small
canapé of caviar from the silver tray Tunbridge was holding.

“Oh, I love tomato cocktails,” smiled Dorothy. She took one from the man
and helped herself to the caviar. “Daddy asked me not to drink until I
was twenty-one—and I’m not so keen on the idea, anyway.”

“I try to keep an open mind about such things,” the Doctor said
seriously, “but I’ve never found that the use of alcohol did anyone any
good. Well, here’s your very good health, ladies!” He raised his glass
of tomato juice and drank.

Dinner was announced a few minutes later. Doctor Winn offered his right
arm to Mrs. Lawson and his left to Dorothy and they walked into the
dining room. Dorothy did not enjoy that meal as much as she had her
luncheon. True, the food was delicious and the panelled room with its
cheerful fire on the hearth and the soft glow of candle light was
delightfully homey, while Doctor Winn’s easy chatter and fund of
interesting reminiscence helped to break the tedium of the courses. But
Dorothy found it difficult to play up to his amusing sallies. The old
gentleman appeared to be in very good spirits indeed. Laura Lawson, on
the other hand, was unusually quiet. At times she seemed distrait and
merely smiled absently when spoken to. She drank several glasses of
claret, but hardly touched her food. Dorothy felt surer than ever that
the Lawsons had planned their coup for tonight. She shrewdly surmised
that this cold-blooded adventuress had become fond of the genial,
fatherly old man, and realized that at his age the blow she contemplated
might very well prove a fatal one.

As the dinner wore on, Dorothy felt more and more ill at ease. The sight
of Tunbridge, soft-footed and efficient, waiting on table or
superintending his satellite of the plum-colored kneebreeches, sent her
thoughts to the night’s work ahead every time the detective-butler came
into the room. She was glad when at last the meal was over and they
repaired to the library where after-dinner coffee was served. Dorothy
rarely drank coffee in the evening, but tonight she allowed Tunbridge to
fill her cup a second time. There must be no sleep for her until the wee
hours of the morning, and she knew from former experience that the black
coffee would keep her awake.

Mrs. Lawson, after wandering aimlessly about the room, finally picked up
a technical magazine and commenced to read. Doctor Winn suggested a game
of chess to Dorothy. She was fond of the ancient game and told him so.
Many a tournament she and her father had played with their red and white
ivory chessmen. Dr. Winn was a brilliant player, of long experience.
Soon he began to compliment Dorothy upon a number of strategic moves.
But although several times she managed to place his king in check, it
was invariably her own royal chessman who was checkmated in the end. As
the evening wore on, the beatings became more frequent, for Dorothy
simply could not keep her mind on the game.

For a while she sat watching the log fire and talking to the Doctor in a
desultory way while Mrs. Lawson continued to read. Then as the
grandfather clock chimed ten, Laura Lawson laid down her magazine and
stood up.

“I think I’ll go to bed now, if you don’t mind.” The half stifled yawn,
sheer camouflage thought Dorothy, was nevertheless a masterpiece of
deception. “I’ve a bit of a headache, so I’ll say good night.”

Doctor Winn and Dorothy got to their feet. “I’m for bed myself,”
announced the old gentleman, “and in spite of the coffee you drank after
dinner, I know you’re sleepy, Janet. Your chess playing toward the end
proved it.” His eyes twinkled at her. “But in storm or clear weather,
there’s nothing like the air of this Connecticut Ridge Country to make
one eat and sleep. By the way, Laura, when do you expect Martin?”

“Oh, I forgot to tell you, Doctor—he won’t be back tonight. He phoned
me from town just before dinner, that on account of the blizzard, he had
decided to stay in until tomorrow. If you need him sooner, he said to
call up the Roosevelt. He always stops there, you know.”

“Yes, yes, but I shan’t need him, thank you.” He turned to Dorothy. “The
railroad has taken upon itself to discontinue all service to
Ridgefield,” he explained. “Branchville is our nearest station, and
driving will be difficult tonight. There must be very deep drifts by
this time.”

“I should think it would be mighty unpleasant to get stuck out in a
blizzard like this. I’m glad I don’t have to go out into it. But in a
way I’m thankful for the snow, because we ought to have a white
Christmas, and it’s ever so much more fun.”

“Bless my soul! I’d entirely forgotten that Christmas comes next week.
Well, this year we must celebrate the Yuletide in the good old fashioned
way. Thank you, Janet, for reminding me.”

Good nights were said, and a few minutes later Dorothy was again alone
in the Pink Bedroom. Or so she thought, as she entered. But at once she
noticed that a single shaded wall-light sent a pleasant glow from the
bay window, and curled up in the cushioned recess, Gretchen was reading.

Dorothy stopped short in surprise and the girl sprang to her feet. “Oh,
Miss—Miss Jordan, Mr. Tunbridge told me to come and help you undress
and get ready for the night. Of course I didn’t know if you would want
me—” then she added in a whisper, “but he thought you might be sort of
blue and I could cheer you up, I guess.”

Dorothy smiled at Gretchen’s pretty, earnest face. “Why, of course I
want you, Gretchen. Tunbridge is very thoughtful. I’ve never had the
luxury of a personal maid and I don’t know that I’ll ever feel helpless
enough to need one! But if you want to stay and talk, I’d love it.”

“But I can help you, too,” Gretchen insisted. “I’m not really a trained
maid, you know, but Nanette—that’s Mrs. Lawson’s French maid—has been
teaching me. Gee, I’d certainly love to be _your_ personal maid, Miss
Jordan.”

“Well, you may be, some day, who knows?” she laughed. “But you can help
me tonight, though there’ll be no bed for me until much later.”

Gretchen, who was arranging the pillows and smoothing the covers on the
bed, turned her head sharply. “Secret Service Work?” she queried in an
excited whisper.

Dorothy nodded and tossed her dress on to a chair. She continued
speaking in a tone just above a whisper. “At twelve o’clock tonight I’ve
got to go downstairs and commit justifiable burglary in Doctor Winn’s
office. The real thief will be along later—at least, I hope so, for
everybody’s sake. In the meantime I want you to do something for
me—will you?”

“I sure will, miss—gee, this is exciting!”

“Don’t let it cramp your style.” Dorothy laughed, and pulling off her
stocking, she handed Gretchen the packet of thin paper, the manuscript
on “Winnite” that she had typed that morning. “When you finish up in
here, I want you to find Mr. Tunbridge and give him these papers. You’d
better pin it inside your uniform now, and be very careful that nobody
sees you giving it to him.”

“You can trust me,” declared Gretchen, and she put the papers safely
within her dress. “Is Mr. Tunbridge really a detective?”

“He certainly is, Gretchen.”

“I’d never have guessed it if you hadn’t told me. But then, I suppose
not looking like one makes him all the better?”

“That’s the idea.” Dorothy put Janet’s quilted satin dressing gown on
over her pajamas. “Now that I’m ready for bed, and you’ve put all my
clothes away so nicely, I think you’d better run along, Gretchen. Not,”
she amended, “that I wouldn’t love to talk to you while I’m waiting for
twelve o’clock, but we must not let certain people in this house get
wise to our friendship.”

“And Mrs. Lawson is one awful snoopy lady,” Gretchen observed candidly.
“Well, good night, Miss Jordan. Thank you a lot for letting me in on
this. I’ll see that Mr. Tunbridge gets your papers all right. Good
night—and take care of yourself.” She stood before Dorothy with an
anxious frown on her honest brow. “I sure do wish you the very best
luck!”

Dorothy grinned. “Thank you. I certainly need it. Good night.”

The door closed upon the little maid and Dorothy looked at her wrist
watch. It was ten minutes to eleven. For a time she sat on the edge of
her bed and stared unseeingly at the rug under her feet. Presently she
got up, locked her door, turned off her lights and went over to the
window. She drew aside the curtains and was surprised to see that it had
stopped snowing. There was no moon, but what sky she could see was
fairly a-crackle with stars. The heavy blanket of snow looked silver in
the starlight. A remote world and cold. Dorothy allowed the curtains to
drop back into place, and sat down on the window seat. Lost in thoughts
pleasant and unpleasant, she sat there for the next hour, while the
faint noises of the big house gradually subsided into stillness.

At exactly five minutes to twelve, Dorothy raised the window, letting in
the cold night air. Then she turned off the heat and got into bed. After
lying there for possibly a minute, she threw back the covers, thrust her
feet into the fur-lined slippers she had left at the bedside and moved
like a dim shadow to the closet.

It was crowded with Janet’s suits, coats and frocks, and she was careful
not to disturb them on their hangers, as she pushed between them in the
darkness to the rear wall and pressed her foot on the board in the
corner. The panel slid upward with a noiselessness that spoke for
well-oiled machinery somewhere in the walls. Dorothy stepped cautiously
through the opening. Her fingers sought the handle to this sliding door,
found it, and she pulled the panel down again.

Then for the first time she made use of the small flashlight which she
carried in the pocket of her gown. She saw that she was standing on the
top step of a narrow circular stair that wound downward. Off went her
light again—she was taking no unnecessary chances tonight—and with her
hand on the metal handrail, she felt her way slowly down the stair,
holding her free hand well in advance of her body.

When her extended fingers touched a wall that blocked further progress,
she felt with a slippered foot out to the right. The board gave
slightly, the wall panel moved upward and she stepped forth to find
herself in the great fireplace of the entrance hall, just beyond the
embers of the dying logs. The hall was illuminated in the dim glow of a
night light in the ceiling. As she turned to pull down the sliding
shutter, there came a streak of white from the dark passage and
Professor bounded into the hall.

Dorothy was completely startled, and just as exasperated as she could
be. She could not call him, for the slightest sound might bring the
wakeful enemy to the spot. The pup, after his long sleep, was playful,
and scampered about madly, his bright eyes watching her every move. She
attempted to catch him, but he eluded her with an agility that made her
still more angry. He seemed to think that this was a splendid game,
raced across the floor in high glee, but ever watchful to keep beyond
her reach.

Dorothy gave it up as a bad job. She dared not pursue him too
determinedly, for fear he would bark. She pulled down the sliding
shutter in the fireplace, and leaving Professor to his frolic, hurried
on to the door of Doctor Winn’s office.

Inside the room with the door shut, her flashlight came into play for
the second time. It took her but a moment with the memorized combination
at her fingertips to open the safe. The door was surprisingly heavy, but
at last the interior of the small vault came within her line of vision.
From a drawer she took a folded sheet of white paper. Out of her pocket
came a pencil and another sheet of paper. In an amazingly short time she
copied the formula and replaced the original in the safe drawer. She
tucked the copy into the fur lining of her slipper under her bare foot.
Then suddenly she sprang up.

Her heart leaped into her throat. In the corridor just outside there
came the sound of a footstep. There was no time to do more than shut off
her torch and drop it, together with her pencil, into the waste paper
basket. The door opened, lights flashed on, and Martin Lawson walked
into the room.



                              Chapter XVII

                          PROFESSOR MAKES GOOD


In that moment, Dorothy knew what she must do. A shiver ran over her
slender frame and she blinked as though partly awakened by the flash of
lights. Then, with eyes wide open and staring straight ahead, she slowly
walked toward Martin Lawson and the open doorway.

“_Stop!_”

The command, though low, was uttered in a tone of deadly menace, and
Dorothy saw the blue-black muzzle of an automatic revolver pointed at
her heart. She stopped on the instant, but continued to stare straight
ahead without change of expression. She noted that he wore a soft felt
hat pulled over his eyes and a heavy ulster with its broad collar turned
up half hiding the lower part of his face. His high arctics bore traces
of melting snow.

“Sleepwalking, eh! Well, I don’t believe it.” His sharp eyes took in the
open door of the safe. “Snap out of that playacting and tell me what you
are doing here!”

Dorothy did not move a muscle.

Without warning, he grasped her wrist and jerked her savagely toward
him. She screamed and went limp in his arms. Lawson clapped a hand over
her mouth.

“So you’re up to your old tricks again, Martin!”

Mrs. Lawson, fully dressed, and wearing a three-quarters mink coat and
brown felt cloche, appeared in the open doorway. “So our little
sleepwalker interrupted a very pretty piece of double-crossing!” She
pointed toward the safe.

Lawson flung the weeping girl into an arm chair where she lay apparently
half stunned and shaking in every limb.

“Double-cross, nothing!” he snapped at his wife. “How do you get that
way, Laura? I came in here just now and found Janet in the room.”

“Was she at the safe?”

“No, she wasn’t. She was standing in the middle of the floor. Making her
getaway without a doubt when I turned on the lights.”

“Why do you pretend Janet opened the safe? The Doctor, you and I are the
only ones who know the combination. Laugh that off if you can, my dear!”

They were both fast losing their tempers.

“Combination or no combination, the safe was open when I got here,” he
snarled. “She was after the formula, of course. That father of hers is
in back of it. That Irishman is the double-crosser—and how! Figured on
working Winnite into his racket without coughing up a cent for it,
either. Call me a sucker if you like, Laura. I qualify, and so do you,
for that matter. The other stuff’s the bunk.”

Dorothy stopped her pretended crying and lay back as though utterly
exhausted. She knew Tunbridge must be up and about. What in the world
could the man be doing?

Mrs. Lawson who seemed to be weighing matters, slowly unbuttoned her
coat. “If you are so blameless,” she said coldly to her husband, “How do
you happen to be here at all? Your part of the job was to bring up the
car—or the plane, if it had stopped snowing.”

“Well, it’s no longer snowing, my dear, and the plane is just where it
should be. I got tired of waiting, that’s why. Thought there must be a
slip-up. You were due out there half an hour ago.”

“And I would have been,” said Laura Lawson evenly, “if that secret
service fool hadn’t been snooping outside my door.”

“Tunbridge?”

“Who else!”

“What did you do—croak him?”

“No, I didn’t. He’s not worth burning for.”

As they talked, the two dropped their artificial cloaks of refinement as
if they had never been.

“It’s hanging in this state,” sneered Martin.

“What’s the difference! I rang for him, instead. When he knocked on the
door, I opened up and beaned him with the poker. He’ll wake up tomorrow
with a headache, but I dragged him into my room and tied him up, just to
make sure.”

Dorothy’s heart sank to the very soles of her bare feet.

“Atta girl!” cheered Lawson. “That’s the way! And look here, Laura. Just
to prove I’m on the straight with you—go over and frisk that kid
yourself. She’s got the paper.”

“Thanks—I intended to.” Mrs. Lawson threw a grim smile at her husband
and turned to Dorothy. “Pass it over, Janet.”

“But, really, Mrs. Lawson! I don’t know what you’re talking about—”

The woman cut her short. “Stand up and come here!”

Dorothy reluctantly obeyed. “I haven’t any paper,” she protested. “All I
know is that I woke up just now and found Mr. Lawson—”

“Hold your tongue!” snapped Mrs. Lawson, and after exploring Dorothy’s
empty pockets, ran her fingers over the quilted gown and the girl’s
pajamas. In the midst of her search, Professor, still playful, bounded
into the room and stood watching them expectantly.

Mrs. Lawson stepped back. “She hasn’t got it, Martin.” Her tone was
acid. “What a hard-boiled liar you are, anyway!”

“Hard-boiled, if you like—but no liar.” He strode to the safe and
thrust his hand inside. “Here it is,” he called, and held up the paper.
“I must have got here before she could nab it.”

Laura Lawson eyed him appraisingly. “Didn’t you say Janet was in the
middle of the room when you switched on the light?”

“Sure—she heard me coming, of course.”

“If Janet heard you coming, why didn’t she swing the door shut? Don’t
try to pull that stuff on me, Martin. Even if the girl knows the
combination she couldn’t open that safe in the dark. Why lie about the
business? I know you opened it yourself—and what’s more, while I’ve
been wasting time arguing with you and searching Janet, the formula was
in your pocket the whole time—that is, until you pretended to take it
out of the safe, just now!”

Martin Lawson’s hard and cruel mouth twisted into a crooked smile. “The
world is full of liars,” he said equably, “but your husband doesn’t play
that kind of a racket, Laura—anyway, not to you.”

“Then prove it by giving me that paper!” his wife held out her hand.

“Nothing doing, Sweetheart. The formula will be perfectly safe with me.”

He started to put it in an inside pocket, when Laura Lawson sprang for
the paper. She grasped his wrist. There was a tussle and the folded
sheet fell to the floor. Professor, seated on his haunches and very
interested in these exciting proceedings, dove forward and snapped it
up. For half a moment he shook the paper as though he took it for a new
species of rat. Then as they went for him, he darted between Martin’s
legs and scampered out of the room.

“You big goop!” flared his wife. “Why didn’t you pot the cur!”

She rushed out of the room after Professor while Martin stared rather
stupidly at the gun in his hand. Suddenly his eyes took on a
particularly hard glint and he swung round on Dorothy.

“This,” he rasped, “is the second time you’ve got me in wrong with my
wife, Miss Janet Jordan. And there just ain’t going to be no third time,
kid!”

“Wha—what are you going to do, Mr. Lawson?” She was still playing the
terrified, innocent Janet, but she no longer feared the man. During the
Lawsons’ struggle, she had prepared herself for something like this. She
had also shifted her position and was standing near the open door, now
several yards away.

“You’re going to answer my questions, Janet—and answer them truthfully,
or you’ll do your sleepwalking in another world after this.” He menaced
her with the automatic, “It’s the bunk, isn’t it? The sleepwalking, I
mean.”

“It sure is, Mr. du Val!” drawled Dorothy with a sweet smile.

Lawson was thoroughly surprised and looked it. “Yes—it naturally would
be, seeing you know who I really am.”

“And all about you.”

“Oh, you do, eh? You were awake, of course, at the meeting?”

“Not me—Janet Jordan.”

“What do you mean—not you—Janet Jordan?”

“I mean that certain people have been making fools of you and your wife,
Mr. du Val.”

“Is that so! In what way, may I ask?”

“Why, you see, I’m not Janet Jordan.”

“Not Janet Jordan!”

“I wish,” said Dorothy, “you wouldn’t echo my words. No, I am not—most
decidedly, not Janet Jordan, although even you have guessed by this time
that I look like her. We changed places on you, big boy! Night before
last, just before you came into Janet’s room with her father, Janet was
climbing out the window when you knocked the first time. It was rather
embarrassing.”

“It’s going to be even more embarrassing for you in a moment or two,
Miss Not Janet Jordan! You know too much to live. Who in thunderation
are you—a government dick?”

“That’s right, big boy. I also happen to be Janet’s double cousin.”

“You’re her double, I’ll voucher that,” agreed du Val alias Lawson. “And
all this high-hat cockiness ain’t going to do you one little bit of
good. What’s the moniker, kid? Make it snappy, I’m pressed for time.”

“Dorothy Dixon’s my name. And—meet Flash!” Her right hand gave a quick
twist and Martin Lawson dropped the exploding automatic with a scream of
mingled rage and pain. She sprang for the revolver, covered the man and
retrieved the knife from the floor just behind him. “Sit down over
there!” She pointed to a chair. “You’re not really hurt, you know. Flash
only skinned your knuckles. Better tie them up in your handkerchief
though. You’re ruining the rug.”

Gretchen’s blond head peered round the door frame. “Oh, Dorothy!” she
shrilled, and rushed into the room. “Are you hurt? Did he wound you?”
She flung herself on her friend in a frenzy of fright and hysterics.

From the hall came Laura Lawson’s voice. “Martin!” she called. “They’re
out in front of the house. They’ve got the car! Hurry!”

Lawson wasted no time. While Dorothy struggled with the excited
Gretchen, he nipped out of the room and was gone.

“That tears it!” cried Miss Dixon, freeing herself from the little
maid’s embrace, and she dove into the passage.

Under the gallery she stopped short. There was nobody in sight, but from
the staircase came two sharp detonations of a revolver which were
answered by two more from the dining room. Then as she moved warily
forward, Bill Bolton ran into the hall with Ashton Sanborn close at his
heels. Dorothy saw them disappear up the stairs and ran after them.

At the top of the stairs she spied them standing outside a bedroom door.
She hurried to join them. “Hello! Gone to cover?”

“You’re a great guesser, kid.” Bill grinned and nodded.

“Where’s Tunbridge?” asked Mr. Sanborn.

Dorothy motioned toward the door. “In there. He’s got a broken head and
he’s tied up into the bargain. Laura Lawson did it. That’s her room.”

“We’ve got to get the door down,” said Bill, and he stepped back for a
rush.

“Just a sec, Bill!” Dorothy fired three shots from Lawson’s automatic
into the lock.

“Smart girl!” Ashton Sanborn opened the door to disclose the
detective-butler bound and unconscious, lying on the floor. Otherwise
the room was empty of occupants. “I thought as much,” muttered the
secret service man, while Dorothy ran to Tunbridge and began to cut his
bonds. “They have beat it, all right!”

“Secret passage?” This from Bill.

“Yes, the walls are honeycombed with them. But Tunbridge never learned
the secret of this room, poor fellow.”

“Doctor Winn would know,” said Dorothy. “His suite is right at the end
of this corridor. He must surely be awake with all this racket going
on.”

“I’ll get him.” Mr. Sanborn was half way to the door. “Look after
Tunbridge, you two. Better phone for a doctor.” He was gone.

Dorothy and Bill lifted the unconscious man on to Mrs. Lawson’s bed.
Then while young Bolton undressed him, Dorothy telephoned. She then gave
Bill a hasty account of the night’s happenings.

“If Gretchen had only stayed put in her room, I’d have caught Martin
Lawson, anyway,” she lamented.

“Mr. Jordan and the bunch outside will take care of that pair,” promised
Bill. “Fetch a wet towel from the bathroom. This bird is breathing
pretty hard.”

Dorothy sped to obey, talking the while. “Not Uncle Michael!” she called
back in astonishment.

“Yep. Uncle Michael showed up in Sanborn’s New York office this morning,
all on his own.”

“What was he doing—wanting to turn state’s evidence and peach on his
pals?” She brought in the wet towel and laid it on Tunbridge’s hot
forehead.

“Nothing like that, kid.” Bill was grinning. “Give another guess.”

“Then he wasn’t really a member of that gang with the numbers?”

“Sure he was—in good standing, too.”

“Oh, spill it, Bill! What do you think I’m made of, anyway?”

“Snips and snails and puppy dog’s tails,” said Bill promptly.

“Huh! The story book says ‘little boys’ belong in that category. Come,
Bill, out with it!”

“Well, then, cutie pie,—Uncle Michael is a secret service man.”

“And Ashton Sanborn didn’t know it! Don’t talk rot, Bill!”

“I’m not talking rot, Dorothy. Uncle Michael happens to be in the
British Secret Service, that’s why!”

“Ain’t that the nerts!” exploded Miss Dixon.

“You said it, kid! He got on to The Nameless Ones—that’s what they call
themselves—over on the other side, in Europe, you know—worked his way
into their confidence and joined up. Of course, with his government’s
sanction.”

“And what were they up to?”

“Out to blow up the world with Winnite, I reckon. The Lawsons were to
get two million plunks for the formula. Martie-boy was Number 1, by the
way. The whole thing was financed by the Reds.”

“Nice people! What’s being done about it?”

“Plenty,” returned Bill. “Mr. Jordan brought in the goods—letters,
confidential papers of the organization, and that kind of thing. All the
ringleaders, both in this country and abroad, have been apprehended and
jailed by this time.”

“Except,” she suggested, “the du Vals, alias Lawson.”

“That’s right! Let’s go downstairs and find out about them. Nothing more
can be done for Tunbridge until that doctor shows up. He’s had hard luck
all the way round this evening. The Lawsons fooled him nicely about the
time—and then this crack on the nut into the bargain!”

“What do you mean—about the time?”

“Why, he overheard the fair Laura telling her hubby that they would
vamoose at two this morning, and that she would nab the formula just
before leaving. That’s why Tunbridge specified midnight. He thought that
two hours leeway would have been plenty of time for you.”

“I ’spose they suspected him then, and were just giving him the razz?”

Bill nodded. “Q.E.D., old girl. You’re learning, aren’t you?”

Dorothy made a face at him and pushed him out of the room. “By the way,”
continued Bill, as they entered the corridor, “I wonder if Mrs. Lawson
got the paper away from Professor?”

“She did not!” declared Dorothy. “Look!”

They paused on the stairs to view the scene below in the entrance hall.
Groups of frightened servants whispered among themselves and here and
there a strange man was posted, with somewhat of an air of grim
watchfulness. Crouched on the hearth and chewing up the last shreds of
some white substance was the puppy.

“The end of a perfect formula,” declared Bill. “You’d better call the
pup Winnite. He’s full of it by this time. Lucky you made the copy,
Dorothy.”

“It certainly is!” A voice spoke behind them and they turned to see
Ashton Sanborn descending the broad stair. “Doctor Winn tells me the
passageway from the Lawson woman’s room comes out into the sunken
gardens a quarter of a mile from the house. And I distinctly heard the
whirr of an airplane just now from his open window. They’ve made their
getaway in fine style by this time.”

“Well—” Dorothy breathed a deep sigh. “I can’t help being glad of it.”

Bill stared at her. “Well!” he mimicked. “I must say you have
astonishing reactions!”

“What’s the matter, my dear?” asked Mr. Sanborn. “You’ve done brilliant
work on this case, and then, you know, you’ve saved Winnite.”

Dorothy was not impressed. “That’s just it,” she retorted. “If I wasn’t
a government servant for the time being, I’d destroy the copy of that
terrible formula myself. As it is, I’ve got to turn it over to you!”

Ashton Sanborn laid a fatherly hand on her shoulder. “Fortunes of war,
Dorothy. Sorry, but you must, you know.”

“Oh, I know!” She took the sheet of paper from her slipper and handed it
to him. “And that,” she announced grimly, “spoils all the fun on this
racket.”



                             Chapter XVIII

                          THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT


Christmas eve was, as Dorothy had predicted, a starry night of frost and
blanketing snow. Red candles twinkled in every holly-wreathed window of
the Dixon home, and a large fir tree before the house glittered with
colored Christmas lights.

If old Saint Nick had peeped into the dining room windows, he would have
seen a merry company standing round the dinner table, gay with the
crimson-berried holly and waxy mistletoe. At the head of the table stood
Dorothy, appropriately and becomingly dressed in ruby-red velvet. On her
right there was an empty place, and beyond it, old Doctor Winn, a
boutonniere of holly in the lapel of his dinner coat; Mr. Bolton, Bill’s
father, was next down the table, and just beyond stood Ashton Sanborn.
Facing Dorothy at the other end, her father chatted with a bright-eyed
Gretchen, who had Bill on her right. Next to Bill came Doctor Winn’s
ex-butler, John Tunbridge, looking none the worse for his part in the
mixup of the fatal night. Beyond Tunbridge stood Dorothy’s Uncle
Michael, and then another empty chair.

“Just a moment, Dorothy,” said her father as she was about to sit down.
“We’ve a surprise for you.”

“Oh, are there more people coming?” She indicated the extra places to
her right and left. “I thought our party was as nearly complete as
possible. Of course it would have been swell if Janet and Howard could
have been with us.”

“Dum—dum—de dum!” hummed Bill, beating time with his hand like an
orchestra conductor. From the drawing room a piano crashed into the
opening chords of Wagner’s beautiful wedding march.

“Here Comes the Bride ...” sang the guests at table, and Dorothy’s heart
skipped a beat.

Through the curtained doorway, walked a blushing girl, leaning on the
arm of a tall young man. She wore a bridal gown of white satin, and her
smiling face, below the draped tulle veil, was the exact counterpart of
the astonished girl at the head of the table.

“Janet! Howard!” Dorothy ran to them and was caught in her cousin’s
arms. “Where under the sun did you come from? I thought you sailed for
South America last week!”

“That,” said Howard, grinning broadly, “is a surprise that Mr. Sanborn
sprang on us the day after we were married. He persuaded me to give up
the South American job and got me a much better one with Mr. Bolton.”

“Meet Mr. Howard Bright, the new manager of my Bridgeport plant,” cried
Bill’s father, and everyone clapped.

“Why, that’s marvelous!” exclaimed Dorothy. “It’s only an hour’s drive
over there from New Canaan. We’ll be able to see a lot of each other,
Janet.”

Then Uncle Michael, looking very happy and proud, kissed his daughter
and led her to the chair between his place and Dorothy’s.

“Daddy gave me the wedding dress,” whispered Janet. “It’s a little bit
late for it, but he insisted.”

“You look simply darling,” began her cousin, then stopped. Doctor Winn,
who had pushed in her chair, was addressing the company.

“Ladies, and gentlemen,” he said, “before we start on the Christmas
cheer which our little hostess and her father have so graciously
provided, I would like to propose a toast or two, and may I ask you to
stand again while you drink them with me?” He held up his glass of
golden cider. “First, let us drink long life and great happiness to our
charming bride, Mrs. Howard Bright, and her gallant husband!”

The company drank the toast enthusiastically. Then Uncle Abe, the
Dixon’s darkey butler, better known to some of Dorothy’s friends as “Ol’
Man River,” grinning from one black ear to the other, laid small leather
jewel cases before Janet and Howard.

“Just a little Christmas gift, my children,” explained Doctor Winn.

“Oh, may we open them now?” asked Janet eagerly.

“You most certainly may, my dear.”

They snapped open the lids and the company leaned forward to get a
better view of the contents.

“I don’t know how to thank you, Doctor Winn,” began Howard, fingering
his handsome gold repeater and chain.

“Nor I—why—my goodness! I never thought I’d have a string of real
pearls. They are simply too exquisite for words!”

Doctor Winn laughed and held up a protesting hand. “I’m sure I’m glad
you like them, but guests are requested not to embarrass the speaker.
Now, I have another toast to propose; and this time we will drink a very
Merry Christmas, long life and great happiness to Miss Margaret Schmidt,
my new companion-housekeeper!”

Gretchen was overwhelmed and blushed furiously. Uncle Abe placed another
jewel case before her, which she opened and found therein a pearl
necklace, the counterpart of Janet’s. All she could do was to sit and
gaze at it with her wide open china-blue eyes. Mr. Dixon raised the
necklace, slipped it over the embarrassed girl’s head, and nodded to the
old gentleman.

Doctor Winn took the hint and turned the attention of the table guests
to himself. “Third and last, but not in any way the least,” he said, “we
will drink to the heroine of the already famous case of the Double
Cousins. Ladies and gentlemen, I pledge you Dorothy Dixon—whose bravery
and loyalty to her country gained the nation’s thanks through its
mouthpiece, our President in Washington this week. A very Merry
Christmas, my dear, long life and great happiness to you and to our
friend Professor, alias Winnite! By the way, where is the pup? I have a
little remembrance for him, too.”

“He’s right here beside me, asleep in his basket, Doctor Winn.” Dorothy
picked up the yawning pup and sat him on her lap.

The old gentleman took a slightly larger morocco case out of his pocket,
this time, and laid it on the white cloth before her. With a smile of
thanks, she pressed the spring and disclosed, lying on a velvet pad, a
double string of gleaming pink pearls. She looked at him, speechless
with pleasure, then down again at the necklace. As she did so, she
started, for beneath the pearls lay an envelope.

She picked it up and drew forth a paper—“Why! why, it’s my copy of the
Winnite formula!” she cried.

“The only existing copy, my dear, which I hereby present to your puppy.”

“But, Doctor Winn, I don’t understand!”

“My terms to the government were that Winnite should be used for
national defense alone,” he said solemnly. “Washington would not agree.
Therefore I wish the formula destroyed.”

“Oh, what a darling you are!” Dorothy leaned over and kissed him. “But
let’s not give it to Professor this time, please. The last one made him
horribly sick.”

She held the paper over a lighted candle and watched Winnite burn to
charred ash. “I certainly am the happiest girl in the world tonight—but
there is just one more toast I’d like to propose before we commence
dinner. Here’s a long life and a Merry Christmas to Mr. and Mrs. Martin
Lawson—if it hadn’t been for them, think of all the fun we’d have
missed!”

                                THE END





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