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Title: Uncle Sam Detective
Author: Puy, William Atherton Du
Language: English
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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 "Uncle Sam Detective" ***

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UNCLE SAM: DETECTIVE

[Illustration: "'WHAT HAVE YOU GOT THERE?' ASKED THE MAN IN THE
ROAD"--_Page 6_]



UNCLE SAM DETECTIVE

BY

WILLIAM ATHERTON DU PUY

AUTHOR OF

"UNCLE SAM'S MODERN MIRACLES,"

"UNCLE SAM, WONDERWORKER"

WITH FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS BY

S. EDWIN MEGARGEE, JR.

[Illustration: Logo]

NEW YORK
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
PUBLISHERS


_Copyright, 1916, by_

FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY

_All rights reserved_



CONTENTS

                                           PAGE
     INTRODUCTION                            ix

   I THE CONSCIENCE OF THE CUMBERLANDS        1

  II THE BANK WRECKER                        24

 III A FIASCO IN FIREARMS                    48

  IV THE SUGAR SAMPLES                       71

   V THE PSYCHOLOGICAL SLEUTH                93

  VI "ROPING" THE SMUGGLERS OF JAMAICA      116

 VII A BANK CASE FROM THE OUTSIDE           136

VIII BEHIND CUSTOMS SCREENS                 154

  IX WITH THE REVOLUTION MAKERS             171

   X THE ELUSIVE FUGITIVE                   192

  XI THE BANK BOOKKEEPER                    214

 XII PUTTING UP THE MASTER BLUFF            231



ILLUSTRATIONS


"'What have you got there?' asked the man in
    the road"                                  _Frontispiece_

                                                       FACING
                                                         PAGE
"Gard turned a pocket flashlight on his own lips:
    'Try to find out how they are to be shipped'"          54

"When Doctor Yen affixed his signature Gard signaled"     134

"'If one of you advances a step toward me I will fire'"   188



INTRODUCTION


May I ask you to close your eyes for a moment and conjure up the picture
that is filed away in your mind under the heading, "detective"?

There! You have him. He is a large man of middle age. His tendency is
toward stoutness. The first detail of him that stands out in your
conception is his shoes. In stories you have read, plays you have seen,
the detective has had square-toed shoes. You noticed his shoes that time
when the house was robbed and a plain clothes man came out and snooped
about.

These shoes are a survival of the days when the detective walked his
beat; for the sleuth, of course, is a graduate policeman. He must have
been a large man to have been a policeman, and he must have attained
some age to have passed through the grades. Such men as he always put on
flesh with age. Your man perspires freely, breathes heavily, moves with
deliberation. The police detective can be recognized a block away.

Or, perhaps, you have the best accredited fiction idea of the unraveler
of mysteries. This creation is a tall, cadaverous individual, who sits
on the small of his back in a morris-chair and smokes a pipe. From a
leaf torn from last year's almanac, in an East Side garret, he draws the
conclusion that the perpetrator of a Black Hand outrage in Xenia, Ohio,
is a pock-marked Hungarian now floating down the Mississippi on a scow;
he radiographs with the aid of a weird instrument at his elbow and
apprehends the fugitive.

Of these two conceptions of detectives it may be said that the first is
quite correct: that the graduate policeman is abroad in the land,
lumbering along on the trail of its criminals and occasionally catching
one of them. His assignment to this task is, obviously, a bit like
thrusting the work of a fox upon a ponderous elephant. The police
departments, however, are practically the only training schools for
detectives and it is but natural that they should be drawn upon.

Of the second conception of the detective--the man of science and
deductions--it may be said merely that he does not exist in all the
world, nor could exist. There is one case in a hundred which would
require the man of science in its solution and upon which he might work
much as he does in fiction. In the ninety-nine there would be no place
for such talents as his.

For each criminal case is a problem separate unto itself, and there may
not be brought to it more than a trained, logical, imaginative mind,
which may unfold it and see all the possibilities. There is but the
occasional call upon science, and the good detective knows when to
consult the specialist.

It was little more than half a dozen years ago that the Federal
Department of Justice set about the upbuilding of the greatest detective
bureau that the Government, or America for that matter, has ever known.
As the Bureau of Investigation it was to have charge of all the secret
work of the Government for which provision was not made elsewhere. It
was to wrestle with violations of neutrality, with those of the national
banking laws, with anti-trust cases, bucket shop cases, white slave
cases; it was to prosecute those who impersonate an officer of the
Government, to pursue those who flee the country and seek to evade the
long arm of the Federal law. Its duties were vastly wider than those of
any other of the Government detective agencies.

Department of Justice cases are stupendously big in many instances. They
may affect the relations that exist between nations, they may mean the
wrecking of hundred-million-dollar corporations, the stopping of
practises that are blights upon the morality and good name of the
nation. They are endless in variety and stupendous in their results.

The Department of Justice asked itself what manner of man should be
called upon to perform this important work. It looked the tasks in the
face and sought to determine the individual who would be best fitted to
their performance. When it had come to a conclusion it built a staff of
a hundred or two hundred (the number should not be stated) made up of
men of the material specified.

That staff ever since has been wrestling with the great problems that
confront a powerful nation with multitudinous interests. Its
accomplishments have satisfied the Department that its judgment was
right when it established a peculiar standard for the men whom it
selected to perform these delicate and difficult tasks.

I have purposely cultivated these men in many cities, have seen them at
work, have been given special privileges in my efforts to get a true
conception of them and their methods. Scores of the stars that have been
developed in the service have told me their best stories, their most
striking experiences.

In the end, I have attempted to evolve a character who is typical of
this new school of detectives. I have wanted him to work in my stories
as he would have done in actual life. I have wanted him to be true in
every detail to those young men who to-day are actually performing those
tasks for Uncle Sam.

So has Billy Gard come into being. The cases upon which he goes forth
have actually been ground through the mill of which he is a part. Each
is founded on facts related to me by these special agents of the
Department of Justice. Billy Gard is not an individual but a type--a
new detective who is effectually performing as important work as ever
came to the lot of men of his kind.

If the reader wants to know that his story pictures correctly the
situation which it undertakes, I wish to assure him that I have taken
infinite care that Billy Gard should work out his problems by the
methods that are actually employed and that the Government machine
operates in just this way.

WILLIAM ATHERTON DU PUY.

Washington, D. C.,
March, 1916.



UNCLE SAM: DETECTIVE



I

THE CONSCIENCE OF THE CUMBERLANDS


On the face of it one might have questioned the wisdom of selecting for
a task so difficult a man who knew absolutely nothing about it. When the
work in hand was the apprehension of a band of violators of the law who
had for years defied and intimidated the whole countryside, this course
seemed even more unusual. But the wonder would have still further
multiplied itself if the casual observer could have given Billy Gard the
once over as he sat nervously on the edge of the cane seat of the day
coach as the accommodation train pulled into the hill country.

For this special agent of the Department of Justice, mind you, was to
take up a piece of work upon which local constables and sheriffs,
United States marshals and revenue agents had failed. There was murder
at one end of the road he was to travel and the gallows at the other.
And Gard was a nondescript youngster who looked less than thirty,
neither light nor dark, large nor small--inconspicuous, easily lost in a
crowd. The careful observer might have noticed the breadth of brow and
the wrinkles that come to the man who thinks, or the tenseness of his
slim form that indicated physical fitness. For to be sure, these federal
sleuths of the new school are mostly college men, lawyers, expert
accountants, as was Gard; but youngsters in whom is to be found the love
of a bit of adventure and the steel of a set determination.

And now this slip of a lad was going back into the Cumberlands where the
whisky still whispers its secret to the mountaineer; where the revenue
agent penetrates at his peril and the Long Tom speaks from the thickets;
where the clansman sets what he considers his rights above the law of
the land and stands ready to lay his life or that of any who oppose him
on the altar he has built. Gard was after a community of moonshiners who
had defied all local authority and thrown down the gauntlet to the
Federal Government itself. He came alone with a little wicker grip.

"I am looking for a place to board," the special agent told Todd, the
livery stable man at Wheeler, the mountain town at which he had stopped
off. "I have been clerking in a store in Atlanta and got pretty well run
down. The doctor said I ought to stay in the mountains for a month or
two."

"How much can you pay?" asked Todd.

"I would like to get it as cheap as five dollars a week," said Gard.

"You can buy a farm up here for five dollars a week," said Todd.

"Well, I want good board where I can get lots of milk to drink and eggs
and where I can tramp around and shoot squirrels. Do you know such a
place?"

The liveryman was accustomed to driving summer boarders out to the few
places where they might stay in the Cumberlands. He sketched these
possibilities and told of the location of each. Gard already had the map
of the country well in mind and selected the farm near Sam Lunsford's,
he being the mountaineer whom the agent most wanted to cultivate.

Todd reviewed the situation as between the mountaineers and the
Government as he drove his customer out to the Tenney farm where he was
to ask to be put up.

"You see," he said, "they have always made moonshine whisky around here
and they just won't stop for nobody. They ain't many ideas gits into the
head of a man who lives in the mountains, and when one gits set there,
you can't get it out. They think they got a right to make whisky and
whisky they are goin' to make or bust.

"Then along comes Tom Reynolds and Sam Lunsford and me and some more of
us. We see that it ain't right to fight the Government and that whisky
is no good anyhow, so whenever we find out where there is a still, we
tell the revenue agents about it. Well, we git warnin's that we better
not do it no more, but them fellers can't skeer us so we go right ahead.

"Then one night, Tom Reynolds starts home from Wheeler late in the
evenin' but he don't never get there. Next mornin' we find his wagon
standin' off to the side of the road and Tom is down in front of the
seat dead with a load of buckshot in his head.

"Sam Lunsford has still got the idea, though, that the boys ought not to
make moonshine so he goes right ahead reportin' every still he finds. So
things goes on for two months. Then, one night, Sam was up late with one
of his babies that had the colic. He was settin' before the fire a
rockin' the baby when, bang! somebody shoots him through the winder.

"Well, that shot didn't quite get Sam. Did you ever try to shoot the
head off of a chicken as it walked across the yard? Its head moves for'd
and back and it is mighty hard to hit it. That's the way with Sam
rockin' the baby, I reckon. Anyway, the buckshot just got Sam in the
back part of his head and didn't kill him. Next day his old woman picked
the buckshot out with a pocket knife because the doctor was afraid to
go. Now Sam is as well as he ever was and he ain't changed his mind
about the stills. Him and me reported two of them last week."

This story was about in accordance with the information Gard received
from Washington. The revenue agents were too well known to work
effectually in the Cumberlands any more, so the Department of Justice
had taken over the case. The murderers and those who attempted murder
should be apprehended.

As the wagon wound along the country road Todd called the special
agent's attention to the report of a rifle from a hillside to the right.
Soon another gun was discharged further ahead and a third still further
on. This, the liveryman said, was a system of signals that told of their
presence.

A little farther along the road wound into a hollow down which flowed a
brook. Out of the brush in this hollow stepped the form of a mountaineer
with a rifle across his arm. Todd drew up his team.

"What have you got there?" asked the man in the road.

"Summer boarder," said Todd.

"Where's he goin'?" was the query.

"To Tenney's," answered Todd.

The mountaineer walked around to the back of the wagon where Gard's
little wicker grip was carried. Without a word he opened the grip and
carefully examined everything in it. Seemingly satisfied, he waved
permission for them to proceed.

"Young feller," he said to Gard in parting, "you are in durn bad
company. You can't never tell whether you will git back when you start
out with that skunk."

To which Todd grinned as he drove on.

"They ain't never made the bullet that'll kill me," he said.

It was three days later that Billy Gard, squirrel rifle on his shoulder,
walked into the clearing about the house of Sam Lunsford, the man who
had survived the charge of buckshot in the back of his head. The
Lunsford house consisted of one log room with a lean-to addition at the
back. There was a clearing of some thirty acres where grew a most
indifferent sprinkling of corn and cotton. There was a crib for the
corn, a ramshackle wagon, a flea-bitten gray horse and some hogs running
wild in the woods. Such was the Lunsford estate, presided over by this
huge mountaineer and to which his eleven children were heir. Seldom did
an echo of the outside world reach this home in the woods. Not a member
of the family was able to read. Every Sunday Sam Lunsford drove the
flea-bitten gray or walked seven miles to a little mountain church where
was preached a gospel of hellfire and brimstone. He was hated by his
neighbors and constantly in the shadow of death. Yet he went
unswervingly on the way of his duty in accordance with his lights.

Gard already had the measure of his man. No sooner had he presented
himself than he put his business up to the mountaineer, "cold turkey,"
as the agents say when they lay all the cards on the table. Would
Lunsford help the government in getting the facts that would bring the
murderers of Tom Reynolds and the men who shot him to justice? Lunsford
would do all he could.

"Whom do you suspect?" the agent asked.

"There are so many of them agin me," said Lunsford, "that it is hard to
tell which ones done it."

"Will you show me just how you were sitting when you were shot?"

The mountaineer placed the rocking chair in front of the fire directly
between a hole in the window and a spot in the opposite wall where the
buckshot had lodged themselves, peppering up a surface two feet square.
Thus was it easy to trace the flight of the shot through the room. The
special agent examined both window pane and wall.

"Could you tell where the man stood when he fired?" he asked.

"Yes," said Lunsford. "I looked for tracks next day. Let me show you."

He led the way into the yard and there pointed out a stout peg which had
been driven into the ground not a dozen feet from the window.

"The tracks came up to there and stopped," he said.

"Did you measure the tracks?" asked the special agent.

The mountaineer had done so and had cut a stick just the length of the
track. This stick had been carefully preserved.

"Did you find any of the gun wadding?" asked the agent.

Even this precaution was taken by Lunsford. These men of the mountains
mostly load their own shells and the wads in this case had been made by
cutting pieces out of a pasteboard box. So there were a number of clues
at hand.

Special Agent Billy Gard stood on the spot from which the shot had been
fired. From this point to that at which the buckshot had entered the
wall of the cabin was not more than thirty feet.

"An ordinary shotgun at thirty feet," he reflected, remembering his
squirrel hunting days, "shoots almost like a rifle. The shot at that
distance are all in a bunch not bigger than your fist. Yet the shot in
the cabin wall were scattered. The man with the gun must have been
further away."

Gard stated this view of the matter to the mountaineer, but that
individual showed how it would have been impossible for the shot to have
been fired from a greater distance because there was a depression that
would have placed the man with the gun too low down to see in at the
window. The shot could have been fired from but the one spot. The window
pane through which the shot had passed was about half way between the
peg and the wall where the charge had lodged. The hole in the window was
not more than half as large as the wall surface peppered by the shot.
This scatter of shot at such short range was significant.

"The shot must have been fired from a sawed-off shotgun," said the
special agent. "Only a short-barreled gun would have scattered so much
at this short range."

He meditated a moment and then asked:

"Who is there around here who has a sawed-off shotgun?"

"Ty Jones has got one," said Sam.

"Is he friendly to you?" asked Gard.

"No," was the reply. "The revenue agents chopped up his still after I
reported it."

"Did he ever threaten you?"

"He said onst at the crossroads that he knew a bear with a sore head
that would soon be feelin' almighty comf'table 'cause it was goin' to
lose that head."

Here was a probable case of Ty Jones being the man guilty of the attempt
on the life of Lunsford. There was a possibility, as Gard saw it, of
getting this suspicion confirmed. Despite the animosity that existed
between the heads of the families, the Jones youngsters and the Lunsford
youngsters were playmates; so does the sociability of youth break down
the bars set up by maturity. Lunsford had a boy of ten who was wise with
the cunning of the woods and trustworthy in lending a hand in the feuds
to which he was born. This boy, in playing about the Jones household,
was instructed to pick up every piece of pasteboard box he could find
and bring those pieces home. Likewise was he to measure the shoes of the
Jones household, when an opportunity offered, and tie knots in a string
to indicate their length.

It was a week before this task had been completed by the boy, but the
results indicated that the foot of a certain pair of shoes in the Jones
home was like unto that of the man of the sawed-off shotgun. Scraps of
cut-up shoe boxes had been found, white on one side and brown on the
other, and from these had evidently been made wads for reloading shells.

Thus far was Special Agent Gard able to carry his case toward a
solution. There were twenty men in the neighborhood who might have been
implicated with Jones, if he were guilty, in this attempt and in the
killing of Tom Reynolds. There were twenty and more makers of moonshine
who had been reported or stood in danger. It was hard to determine which
of the twenty were actually guilty. The suspicions against Jones were
not evidence. After a month on the case Gard decided that a complete
solution of the mystery was possible only through working in with the
moonshiners themselves and gaining their confidence.

So the summer boarder left the Tenney farm, stating that his health was
greatly improved but that he would come back two months later for
another stay.

A week after this there was nailed up at every post office and court
house within a hundred miles of Wheeler a notice of reward for an
escaped convict. A short, stout, curly-headed young outlaw had broken
jail in South Carolina and when last heard of was bearing in this
direction. Fifty dollars reward would be paid for his capture. His
picture appeared with the notice.

After still another week the Jones children were playing in the woods
back of their house when a strange man called them from a distance. The
youngsters approached cautiously. The man was no less cautious. He was a
short curly-headed young fellow with a stubby beard, with his clothing
in shreds and very dirty. He looked as though he had slept in the woods
for a month. There were stripes across an under garment that showed
through his open shirt.

"Do you suppose," said the man of rags, "that your maw could stake a
hungry man to six or seven dollars' worth of bread and bacon and wait
for remuneration until the executors of his estate act?"

"Yuh don't mean yuh want somethin' to eat, do yuh?" said young Lem
Jones.

"Son," said the curly-headed one, "your instincts are clairvoyant. You
have demonstrated a hypothesis, confirmed a rumor, hit upon a great
truth, sleuthed a primal fact to its lair. The plain truth is that I
haven't had anything to eat in so long that I have forgotten my last
meal. I am the hungriest man in the world. I could eat tacks with a
spoon."

"Come on," said Lem, a bit dizzy with the unusual words, but anxious to
please.

He led the way to the house where Mrs. Jones met the hungry man at the
door.

"Madam," said the hungry one most courteously, "I am needing a little
something to eat. I have been lost in the woods and without food."

"What are they after you for, young feller?" inquired Mrs. Jones
incisively, she who had spent a life in those mountains where the
sympathy was all with the man whose hand was turned against authority
and where many fugitives from the law had found refuge.

"Have you found me out so soon?" grinned the fugitive. "Well, if I must
tell I will say that I just knocked a hole in a jail down South Carolina
way, cracked the heads of a couple of armed guards together, robbed the
city marshal of his horse, outran the sheriff's posse, swam the Elb
river where ford there was none, and lived on a diet of blackberries for
seven days. Back of that there was the little matter of cracking a safe.
Other than that I assure you my conduct has been of the best."

So engaging was the manner of this young man of the rags from the great
world beyond the mountains that Mrs. Jones immediately liked him. He was
a perfect cataract of words and talked incessantly. She was not able to
understand half he said but was pleased with all of it. He ran on glibly
but always stopped short of being smart in the sense that would call
forth dislike. All the time he was eating corn bread and bacon with the
relish of one who has long omitted the formality of dining.

Such was the introduction of Special Agent A. Spaulding Dowling into
the Cumberlands, he who played the cadet in white slave cases, the wild
young man about town in the bucket shop investigations, and made love to
a bank cashier's daughter to learn where the loot was hidden. For all
these situations Dowling had a stream of talk that never failed to amuse
and disarm. Billy Gard had asked the department for his help on the
moonshiners' case and Dowling had fallen into the plan with all the
enthusiasm of adventurous youth.

The features of the jail breaker for whom the reward was offered were
those of Dowling. So had preparation been made for his coming. Gard had
laid his plans with an understanding of the habits of the mountaineer to
hide the fugitive. He had figured that such a fugitive might get into
the confidence of those iron men of few words and filch from them their
secrets. With the right culprits behind the bars the backbone of this
defiance of the law might be broken.

Dowling's stream of talk won the friendship of Ty Jones and his sons as
it had won his wife. The fugitive was tucked away in the hills and fed
by the mountaineers. He came to know the intimates of the Jones family
and his stream of talk entertained them for days and weeks. He
hibernated with others of his kind for he found the hills full of men in
hiding. He became a visitor at many a cabin and eventually struck the
rock that responded to his confidence.

A young mountaineer named Ed Hill maintained an active still high up in
the mountains--a virgin still that had never known the desecration of a
raid. Hill was high spirited and companionable, unlike most of his
neighbors. His was the soul of a poet, a lover of the wilds, a patriot
of the mountains. The flame of adventure, the love of danger, the belief
in the individual rights of the mountaineer, made him a moving spirit
among the men who battled the government.

Ed Hill told the fugitive the whole story of the killing of Tom Reynolds
and the shooting of Sam Lunsford. He told of the determination to rid
the mountains of Todd, the livery stable man, and to preserve for the
men of the Cumberlands the right to do as they chose in their own
retreats.

It seemed that of all the men of the mountains who made moonshine
whisky, there were but four who were willing to go the limit of
spilling the blood of their fellows in resisting the law. Hill was one
of these and saw his acts as those of the man who fights for his
country. Ty Jones, contrary to the suspicions of Sam Lunsford, always
advised against violence. But Jones had a boy of eighteen, a
heavy-faced, dull-witted lad, who was possessed of the desire to kill,
to be known among his fellows as a bad man. This younger Jones it was
who had aimed his father's sawed-off shotgun at Sam Lunsford as that
hulking figure of a man swayed back and forth as he rocked the baby that
suffered from colic. The patriot Hill, Will Jones the born murderer, a
father and son by the name of Hinton, had been the murderers of Tom
Reynolds. There were no others who would go so far as to kill to avenge
their fancied grievances.

The summer was dragging to its close as the conversational special agent
got his information together. The yellow was stealing into the trees of
the hillsides when Billy Gard, he whose health had been broken behind
the ribbon counter, came back to Tenney's for another few weeks in the
open. He wandered into the woods and met the fugitive from the South
Carolina jail. The jail bird and the ribbon counter clerk talked long
together and when they parted the plans were laid for the nipping off of
the men who would murder for their stills.

It was a week later and the quiet of after-midnight rested upon the
little mountain town of Wheeler. In such towns there are no all-night
industries, no street cars to drone through deserted thoroughfares, not
even an arc light to sputter at street crossings. There is but the
occasional stamping of a horse in its stall or the baying of a watch dog
in answer to the howl of a wolf on the hillside. But murder was planned
to take place that night in Wheeler and A. Spaulding Dowling knew all
about it.

As the town slept four stealthy figures crept down the trail that cuts
across the point of the Hunchback. Soft-footedly, rifles in hand, they
passed down a side street beneath the dense shade of giant sycamores. It
was but three blocks from the woods to Main street. Reaching this artery
of the town, two of the men crouched in the shadow while two others
crossed the street and went a block further, turning to the left. Each
group then shifted itself a hundred feet to the left and paused again.

So stationed the four men found themselves in front and back of Todd's
livery stable. The building itself sat back a little from the street. On
the ground floor were the stalls for the horses and the sheds where the
wagons were stored. Overhead were bins of corn and hay and a living room
where Todd slept that he might always be near his teams. About the whole
was a roomy barnyard enclosed by a high board fence. The gates to the
outer enclosure were locked, but once past this wall a man would have
the run of the whole place.

The mountaineers, two in front and two in the rear of the building,
swung themselves to the top of the fence and leaped to the ground
inside. Rifles at hip they started to close in on the building. Each
party entered at opposite ends of the corridor down the middle through
which a wagon might drive. Nothing interfered with their progress and no
sound was heard except a sleeping horse occasionally changing feet on
the board floor of his stall. Stealthily the four figures gathered in a
cluster and turned up the steep stairway that led to the sleeping room
of Todd. With every rifle ready for action they pushed open the door.
The moon coming in at a window disclosed what seemed to be a sleeping
form in the bed. Deliberately the four rifles came to bear upon it.
There was a pause and then from the leader came the order:

"Fire!"

Every finger pressed the trigger of its rifle. Every hammer came down on
its cap. But no report followed. Not a gun had been discharged.

"Come on out in the open, you sneakin' cowards," came a clamorous voice
from the barnyard that was recognized as being that of Todd. "Come out
in the lot and I'll larrup you all."

The men in the room looked puzzled, one at the other, and then at the
form on the bed. They approached the latter and found it to be but a
dummy to represent Todd. They had been trapped. They would fight their
way out.

The mountaineers charged down the stairway. As they came into the
moonlight at the opening of the barn they faced the tall form of a man
they knew well, the United States marshal of the district. With no gun
in his hands the marshal raised his hands on high.

"Listen, men," he commanded. "A parley. You are trapped. There are
armed men at every corner of this building and every man who runs out of
it will be shot dead. Your powder has been wet and none of you can fire
a shot. You can't fight armed men. There is but one thing for you to do
and that is to surrender."

In the parley that followed the marshal asked each man to try his gun to
see if it could be fired. None would respond. The mountaineers found
themselves caught in the very act of attempting to kill Todd, whom they
had often threatened. They had been duped and trapped.

So had these young detectives of the new school worked out a most
difficult case and one which later proved, in the courts, to be
effective, for every man arrested is now serving a long term in prison
and the backbone of the defiance of law in this region is broken.

"Mr. Summer Boarder," said the curly-haired Dowling, "it is back to the
ribbon counter for you. Your little vacation is over. But I will say
that you have shown remarkable intelligence in this matter. You called
me in to help you. Little drops of water put in just the right place
saved all your lives. These mountaineers would have eaten you up if I
hadn't fixed their ammunition. Please thank me--"

"Easy, Windy One, easy," interjected Gard. "Kiss the hand of the man who
lent you the brains to do it with."



II

THE BANK WRECKER


Billy Gard was not thinking of business at all. As a healthy,
ultranormal young man, he was drowsing over his breakfast as one has a
way of doing when at peace with the world and when unaroused by any call
of the present. He had reached the rolls and coffee stage of his meal in
a spirit of detachment that took no account of the somewhat garish
flashiness of the hotel dining-room in this typical hostelry of a city
that had become noted as a maker of industrial millionaires. Then as his
glance idly trailed among the other breakfasters, it automatically
picked up an incident that flashed a light into his dormant brain and
brought it to full consciousness.

A spoon had started from a grape fruit to the mouth of the tall,
curly-haired man two tables away. Half way on its journey the hand which
held it had twitched violently and spilled most of the contents. The
brown eyes of the man stole out somewhat furtively to learn if anybody
had noticed his nervousness.

Special Agent Billy Gard now gazed at the ceiling, but his mind was
busy. It was running over the facts that it contained with relation to
Bayard Alexander, who was this morning not himself and apprehensive lest
the fact be noticed. For Alexander was of the class of men of whom it
was his business to know. He was cashier of the Second National bank and
Uncle Sam keeps a pretty close watch on such institutions when they
happen to be located in communities of feverish activity.

So the special agent recalled that the tall man with the damp curls was
a moving spirit in the city, an important instrument in its development,
a man of many philanthropies, personal friend of a United States
Senator, cashier and active head of one of the most powerful financial
institutions in the community. He was a man of very great energy, but
one who led a normal, wholesome life and who, at the age of forty-five,
seemed just coming into his stride. The bank examiner, Gard recalled,
had steadily given the Second National a clean bill of health.

Why, then, should Alexander be nervous and, granting him that
privilege, why should he fear its being noticed?

All of which was the seemingly illogical reason why Gard went to
Wheeling that very night and was not seen about the metropolis for a
week thereafter.

"I am a poor man," he told Allen, the stout bank examiner, when they met
in the West Virginia town. "Poor but honest and not trying to borrow
money. I am on my way to the city of opportunity looking for a job."

"You have come away that you might go back, as I understand it," said
Allen. "Couldn't you change your peacock raiment for a hand-me-down
without coming to Wheeling?"

"Yes, but I couldn't see you, Cherub," said Gard, "and you are to make
all things possible for me. You are to convert me from a dweller in
gilded palaces to a bank bookkeeper out of work, but with credentials.

"There is in Wheeling a bank cashier of your acquaintance," explained
the special agent, "who used to work beside a bookkeeper whose
friendship I want to cultivate. You introduce me to the cashier, he
finds out what a really good fellow I am, we become friends. He gives
me a letter of introduction to the man I want to meet. I return to the
city and thrust myself properly into the affairs of one Sloan,
bookkeeper for the Second National. The next time the corpulent examiner
comes around he gets the surprise of his life. Do you follow me?"

Billy Gard had reached the conclusion that, if there was anything wrong
with Bayard Alexander's bank the examiner was being deceived and that,
therefore, there must be a juggling of accounts. Bookkeeper Charley
Sloan of the individual ledgers occupied the post most likely to be used
for deception, and so the special agent was taking a lot of trouble to
make the right opportunity for getting friendly with Charley. That mild
little man was therefore favorably impressed when he was handed a letter
from his former associate who had gone to Wheeling and become a cashier.
The two visited so agreeably together that a friendship developed and
Gard came to live at the bookkeeper's boarding house. The two
accountants grew to spend many evenings together and naturally talked
shop.

"I had a friend," said Gard one evening, "who worked in a bank in New
Orleans. Next to him was a bookkeeper who went wrong. He was induced to
do this by a depositor who had a scheme for making them both rich. All
the depositor needed was a little money. So he proposed that he draw
checks against the bank and that the bookkeeper charge them temporarily
to other accounts. The depositor would cash the checks at other banks
and, when they came in, the teller would merely turn them over to the
bookkeeper, probably asking if there was money to meet them. In this way
a depositor who never had a thousand dollars in the bank eventually
checked out $50,000."

"There was a teller," Sloan volunteered, "who worked in a bank here who
entered the deposits in the books of the people making them and put the
money in his pocket. There was no record of it except in the pass books.
He got nearly all the money that came in for two months before he was
found out."

"There are a lot of ways in which a bookkeeper may hide the facts with
relation to a bank," continued the special agent. "It is pretty safe to
charge anything to the inactive account of an estate or an endowed
institution. These are not often looked into. The accounts balance for
the examiner. I'll bet there isn't one bank in a dozen that doesn't fool
the examiner."

"It's the easiest thing in the world," volunteered Sloan, "to take the
necessary number of leaves out of the loose-leaf ledger to
counterbalance it if the cash is short, and hide the leaves until the
examiner is gone."

"Did you ever know that to be done?" abruptly asked the special agent.

The bookkeeper colored to his temples and was noticeably confused at the
question. Then he said he had heard of its being done. The sleuth would
have sworn he had led the bookkeeper into a confession.

Nothing was more natural than that these two bank bookkeepers should
recur occasionally to the possibility of so arranging accounts that were
in questionable condition that they would be passed by the examiner.
Gard would lead to this in such a way that the bookkeeper would seem to
have begun these discussions. Then he would talk freely. He would tell
so many stories that the timid Sloan would want to relate a few in
furnishing his part of the entertainment. But Gard knew that the
bookkeeper was a man without imagination and that he could relate only
what had happened in his experience. So he was all ears when Sloan one
night gave his opinions on the subject of kiting.

"Of course," he said, "all banks have depositors who kite their checks
and thereby get hold of money which they may use for a week before they
have to make good. A depositor may turn in a check for a thousand
dollars, drawn on a New York bank where he has no money. At the same
time he sends the New York bank a check for the same amount, drawn on
you. This causes the New York bank to honor the check drawn against it.
The check drawn on you has to find its way through the clearing house
and it will be a week before it gets back. In the meantime the depositor
has had the use of a thousand dollars.

"But when it comes to real kiting," continued the bookkeeper, "it is the
banks themselves that do it. If a bank has a sudden call for $100,000
and hasn't the money, all it has to do is to send a messenger with a
check to a friendly bank around the corner. The messenger gets the whole
amount in cash. It appears as an asset of the bank. It will be two or
three days before the check will come back through the clearing house
and appear as a liability, or the friendly bank may hold it up even
longer. The banks may be swapping this sort of favors. The bank examiner
does not know of the outstanding check. He is out of town before it
appears."

Special Agent Billy Gard was again practically certain that he had here
been told a chapter out of the experience of the Second National. He
began to see his way clear to a denouement.

That same night events were transpiring of which he was to know a week
later but which as yet were held in confidence among the directors of
the Second National. They took place at a meeting of these same
directors called by a minority which was dissatisfied with certain
features of its management. Director Hinton, a sprightly and
quick-tempered little man, was the leader of the revolt. Senator
Bothdoldt was present as a supporter of the management of the bank as
represented by the suave, forceful cashier, Bayard Alexander, whose hand
sometimes shook at breakfast.

"I want to protest," Hinton began by launching directly into the heart
of the matter in hand, "against this new loan to the McGrath
Construction Company. It has been three years now that we have been
pouring out our money to these people. We have $400,000 of their paper
and I want to be shown that we can realize on it. It is time to call a
halt."

"And there are the notes of the Oldman Mercantile Company," somewhat
heatedly argued a second disaffected director. "I have been reliably
informed within the last two days that they are in danger of going to
the wall."

"And we, as directors, are responsible for the bank," said Mr. Isaacs,
who was conservative.

"I for one," said Mr. Hinton, "have reached the point where I insist on
a new management. I would like to know the sentiment of the board upon
this question."

But the cashier asked for a word of explanation. Broad-shouldered and
upstanding he rose among these heavy, sleek, bald-headed business men.
His high and intellectual brow and clear-cut features gave him a
distinction that always made an impression. But the firm mouth and the
damp curls were those of a man of physical force and determination. His
voice was alluring and convincing as he made his plea and there was now
no tremble of the hand.

He stated and called upon Senator Bothdoldt to witness that the McGrath
Construction Company had just received from the Government contracts for
the building of numerous locks in the Ohio River. He agreed with the
spirit of conservatism of the board and shared it. He had heard the
rumors with relation to the Oldman Mercantile Company and had sifted
them to their depths and had found them without basis in fact. However,
he had just called in a block of their notes. He painted a rosy picture
of the condition of the bank and the prospects of the future. He
reminded the directors that they had given him a free hand in the past
and pointed to the institution as a monument to his accomplishment. At
the termination of which speech, so convincing and so dominant was the
personality of the man, Director Hinton withdrew his protest and the
institution was left under the former guidance.

It was three days later that things began to happen. Gard had called
upon Bank Examiner Allen to come to his assistance. The two of them had
conferred the night before and settled upon a plan of campaign for
testing the stability of the affairs of the bank.

It was in accordance with this plan that the rotund and genial Allen
breakfasted in that dining-room where the special agent's suspicions had
first been aroused. Bayard Alexander was at his usual table and Allen
allowed the banker to see him although he appeared not to be aware of
it. It was also in accordance with the cards played by the men of the
Government service that Special Agent Gard, still a bit seedy in his
hand-me-down suit, was loafing on the sidewalk opposite the Second
National bank when the cashier came to work. It was a part of his plan
that he should see as much as possible of what went on in the
institution when the word was passed that the examiner was in town.

Gard was not surprised, therefore, when a messenger emerged from the
bank and hurried off down the street. He believed that the story of the
bookkeeper of the kiting bank was to be enacted before his eyes. He
followed the messenger to another bank two blocks away and there saw
him present a check. Gard crowded in on the pretense of getting a bill
changed and saw blocks of bills of large denominations being taken from
the vault. The messenger hurried back to the bank with them. It was
evident that that institution was making ready for the coming of the
examiner. It was as evident that its affairs were not as they should be
or this preparation would not be necessary.

It was a part of the program that when Sloan, the bookkeeper, came out
of the bank for lunch, Gard should be waiting for him. It was not
unusual that they thus went to their noonday meal together.

"Will you do me a favor?" asked Sloan while they were at lunch. "Take
care of this package for me. It is a large photograph, rolled, that I
have just received from home. Please be careful of it."

The special agent assumed charge of the package which looked not unlike
a roll of music. Later he found his suspicions justified for in the roll
were a number of leaves from the bank's individual ledger. Gard was
appalled at the amount of money that they represented. He carefully
photographed them and returned them that night to the bookkeeper.

No pretext was omitted for getting a look into what was transpiring in
the Second National bank on this particular day. Examiner Allen had
called in the afternoon and had carefully looked over the balances. All
appeared to be in order and no discrepancies were revealed. The bank
seemed particularly strong from the standpoint of cash on hand.

It was just at closing time that two things happened. Gard presented
himself at the Second National and asked to see the cashier. He had
become known there as an associate of Sloan's. He was looking for a
position as bookkeeper and it was for this he came. He waited.

It often happens that an individual may wander unannounced into quarters
the privacy of which are ordinarily closely guarded. Gard found the door
open that led into the corridor off of which were to be found the
offices of the officials of the bank. He walked in and wandered down the
row until he found that of the cashier. This he entered and found
entirely empty. It was a spacious room with a big, flat-topped desk.
Across one corner of this was thrown a coat, and a hat rested upon it.
An open traveling bag stood on the table.

The special agent, by leaning on the table in the attitude of waiting,
could look into the bag. There he saw a package of what he recognized as
a well-known issue of industrial bonds which the examiner had listed as
one of the chief assets of the bank. It should have been in the bank's
vaults, instead of which it was in the cashier's traveling bag. This was
a discovery well worth consideration.

Cashier Alexander entered the room hurriedly from another part of the
bank. He was visibly startled to find some one present and demanded
bruskly what the intruder was doing there.

"I am a bookkeeper, sir," said the special agent very humbly. "Sloan is
a friend of mine and thought you might employ me."

"I can't talk to you to-night. Come around next week."

"But may I not come to-morrow?" said Gard.

"I will be out of town for three days," Alexander said finally. "I
can't talk to you until after that."

The special agent took his dismissal. He had learned that the bank
cashier was going away and that he was taking a package of the bank's
most valuable securities with him. He was going some distance for the
trip was to last three days. His destination was probably New York.

Meantime the genial examiner had rolled in upon the bank to which the
Second National had sent its messenger, at about closing time. He had
asked to see the transactions of the day. Among these was found the
record of the check that had been cashed early in the morning. It was
the personal check of Bayard Alexander and was for $125,000.

The two representatives of the Federal Government conferred hurriedly.

"And the securities," questioned Gard. "Were they intact when you were
at the bank this morning?"

"Everything was in order," replied Allen.

"The package of the industrials. What was its value?"

"About $500,000," replied the examiner.

"Alexander is leaving to-night with these securities. He may be taking
the $125,000 in cash with him. The time has come for his arrest.
Particularly must we guard those assets and prevent any unnecessary
demands upon the bank."

"He may be making a run for Canada," said Allen.

"The securities will take him to New York that he may realize upon
them," was Gard's deduction. "I am for the station and will follow him
if he takes any train. You try for his trail about town and report to me
there."

But after all it was a piece of luck that saved the day for Gard. He was
racing for the station in a taxicab when his machine was halted at a
crossing. Another taxicab pulled up beside his, waited a minute, two
minutes. He could see the driver from where that individual sat not six
feet away and just opposite his window. Presently this chauffeur bent
down to get instructions from his fare. The man in the taxicab was
talking quietly, but so near was he to the special agent that he could
be easily overheard.

"Get out of this jam," he was saying. "Cut across town to the North
side station. We have already missed the 6:15. If you head it off at the
North side it is worth a twenty-dollar bill to you."

The voice was smooth and unruffled. Yet it was dominant. It set the
driver immediately upon edge and into motion. And there was in it a
familiar note that puzzled the detective for a moment, then brought back
the interview of the afternoon. Yes, it was Bayard Alexander talking.

It was hard luck that caused a crossing policeman to let the first
automobile through and shut off the second. It was the worst sort of
luck that caused the special agent to arrive at the North side station
just as the gate was slammed and made it necessary for him to produce
credentials to get through. He was barely able to swing into the
vestibule of a sleeper as the train was getting under way. It was
particularly hazardous from the standpoint of accomplishing the end he
had in mind, for he did not even know if Alexander was aboard and faced
the danger of having ridden away on the fastest train to New York and
left his work behind him. Even if the man he was after was aboard there
was the chance that he had become aware of the chase and would take
precaution to out-wit him.

But now there was no hurry. His man was or was not on the train and the
porter told him there would be no stop for two hours. The special agent
was still a good deal of a youngster with an appreciation of the
dramatic and here was a situation that appealed to him. He wondered if
he were riding into the dusk on a wild goose chase, or if he had
cornered this fugitive master-crook, with a traveling bag containing
half a million dollars of other peoples' money. He pictured the man he
was after--the suave, confident, stealthy cashier, who had stolen his
hundreds of thousands and had, by the very force of him, compelled his
subordinates to hide his shortcomings. He wondered if this man of action
was expecting pursuit or if he was riding on in confidence of being able
to make his escape. He thought of the satchel that the cashier carried
and of his responsibility, as a Government agent, for safeguarding its
contents. It was something of an assignment for a youngster.

"And Mother used to say to me," grinned Billy to himself, "when she
sent me around the corner for a dozen eggs: 'Do be careful to bring back
the change, and for goodness' sake don't drop the bag.' I wish Mother
could see me now."

Whereupon William H. Gard of the United States Department of Justice
arose and went to the front of the train. From this point he worked
steadily back, making sure that he saw every passenger, looking each
over with sufficient scrutiny that a disguise would not have escaped
him, making sure that the man he sought was in the portion of the train
to the rear. It began to look as though he had actually boarded a train
which the fugitive had failed to catch.

Dark was just coming on. It was that hour when most of the passengers on
a train are to be found in the diner. It happened that this train was
running light and now the sleepers were practically deserted but for the
nodding porters. Through one after another of these the special agent
passed until there remained only the observation car at the end. It was
here that he would find his quarry or prove himself outwitted.

When he came into the observation car through the narrow hall that
leads to it, a lounging figure by the door drew itself taut.
Instinctively it put its hand to a traveling bag that rested on the next
chair. Then it remained still.

The special agent came direct down the car and went immediately to the
task in hand.

"You are Bayard Alexander," he said, "and my prisoner."

The cashier was, after all, surprised. He was not aware that he was
being followed. He sprang forward in his chair but met the glint of a
pistol in the hand of the special agent.

"And you? Oh, I see!" said the cashier, recovering himself. "The
bookkeeper was not a bookkeeper after all."

"I am an agent of the Department of Justice," said Gard. "You are under
arrest."

The tall figure of the cashier had risen from its chair. To the
traveling bag he clung instinctively. The situation seemed entirely in
the control of the special agent with gun drawn and the retreat cut off.
Yet, like a flash, the cashier turned the knob of the door that led out
upon the rear platform of the observation car. The gun of the special
agent spit forth a flame, but whether he had intended to bring down his
man or not he was afterward quite unable to recall.

But with a leap he was after and upon the fugitive. He suspected the
intent of the cashier to throw himself from the train, to end all in
suicide. He saw the traveling bag getting beyond his reach. It was the
last thing that would have appealed to him to stand idly by while such
incidents were taking place.

The two men grappled. A new purpose flashed into the mind of the
cashier. Here was he given an unexpected opportunity for freedom. Only
the special agent stood in his way. If he could but drop this youngster
over the rail, suicide would be unnecessary. A new purpose came into his
tall, lithe form. It was to be put to the task of fighting for its own
preservation.

And such a setting for a fight! The clamor of the train beat into the
blood of the contestants like the applause of an arena. The swish of the
platform as the express dashed through the darkness at seventy miles an
hour made the ordinary strategy of battle uncertain. Beyond the narrow
rail that skirted this platform upon which their fight was staged death
waited expectant on three sides. There were now no weapons and the
contestants went back to the primal in a tooth and fang grapple for
existence as might two frenzied bears at bay.

The cashier was the larger man and one who had always kept in condition
through gymnasium work. The special agent was lither and younger. The
larger man was determined that he would thrust the smaller over the rail
and fling him from the train. He fought his way to the edge of the
platform, forcing his antagonist farther and farther over it, hammering
him down by the sheer superiority of weight and strength.

But all the time the special agent was playing to his own advantage. He
was getting low beneath the guard of the cashier. His arms had found an
iron lock beneath his antagonist's coat and about his waist. He felt
that this hold could not be broken and that a time would come when the
strength of the larger man would wane. He could afford to wait.

It was but a swish of the train that gave him the slight advantage he
sought in taking the aggressive. It swayed the tall form of his enemy
as it towered above him a little backward. This put the spine in a
position where it could not immediately resist a strong pressure.
Already he had felt a give in the body muscles that meant the first
approach of weakness. Like a flash his head was in the tall man's chest,
all his strength was in his arms, and he was administering that
treatment known in his youth as the "Indian hug." Slowly he overcame his
antagonist, bent him back, and they came tumbling among the chairs of
the observation platform.

From the fall came a new grip to the advantage of the special agent. As
they went down he flung his legs around his antagonist, and was able to
get the wrestler's "scissors" about his waist, thus applying pressure
where there was already exhaustion and allowing his legs, which were
rested, to bear the brunt.

Thus were they locked when the brakeman came to the rear and found them.
But the battle was already near its end. For the flash of a moment the
cashier rallied and acted. In that moment his hands seized and flung
from the train the grip with its precious burden. Then he sank into
unconsciousness.

Billy Gard had ridden back to the section of the road where the
traveling bag had gone overboard, and had waited for the coming of
daylight to search for it. In the gray dawn he walked down the track and
met an Irish section man, who had already picked it up.

"I see you have found my satchel," said Gard, accosting him.

"Your satchel it may be," said the Irishman, "but you will have to be
after tellin' me what's in it by way of identification."

"Nothing much beside half a million dollars," said the special agent,
proffering the key.

The man who had found the traveling bag looked inside and, as far as
Billy Gard knows, never spoke again. He was still dumb with amazement
when the young man drove away in his automobile.



III

A FIASCO IN FIREARMS


It is here set down for the first time that Special Agent Billy Gard of
the United States Department of Justice trod the deck of the good German
ship _Esmiranga_ and smoked many Mexican cigarettes on that historic
morning in April, 1914, when she approached the port of Vera Cruz,
loaded to the gunwales with ammunition for the Huertistas, and
precipitated the landing of American marines.

Also it was here first told that it was the hand of Billy Gard that
lighted the match that ignited the powder that caused the explosion that
kept Yankee fighting men in Mexico for many months and the big American
sister republics on the verge of war. For the action of the head of the
government of a hundred million of people, the orders extended to the
military, the shuttling of battleships and transports, were based upon
mysteriously received messages from this young representative of the
United States, who through a combination of chance and design found
himself strangely placed in the center of a web of circumstance.

It had all started in a New York hotel six months before. It was not
entirely out of keeping with what was to follow that a huge and
bewhiskered Russian should have staged the prologue of what was later to
assume something of the nature of an international farce. But it was
such a man, registering himself as G. Egeloff, pronouncing some of his
indifferent English with the explosiveness of Russia and some of it with
the lilting softness of Latin America, who created a scene in a
Manhattan hotel and thus first introduced the whole matter. He had
arrived but a moment before, dusty, disheveled, empty handed. The room
clerk had suggested that it was the custom of the hotel that guests
without baggage should pay in advance. Then had come the explosion
accompanied by oaths in four languages.

The man with the whiskers called upon all to witness that this indignity
had been placed upon him, G. Egeloff, the representative of rulers of
nations, the bearer of credentials, the possessor of enough money in his
one vest pocket to buy the hotel in question and turn it into a barracks
for his peons.

Whereupon he produced from the vest pocket in question a draft on the
Mexican treasury for the neat sum of three million dollars in gold,
signed by none other than Victoriano Huerta himself. At which signal the
entire hotel staff salaamed profoundly, the man who swore was escorted
to the best suite and the house detective telephoned to the special
agents of the Department of Justice.

Billy Gard was forthwith sent out to determine the legitimacy of the
mission of this strange representative of turbulent Mexico.

In three days he knew that Egeloff was in touch with those
representatives of the Huerta régime with whom the Department of Justice
was already acquainted and whose activities centered about a certain
Mexican boarding house just off Union square. He also knew that the
Russian had called up from his hotel room certain manufacturers of
munitions whose factories were in Hartford and that representatives of
those firms had visited him.

Gard had drawn the conclusion that the Russian was buying ammunition for
the Mexican government. Since the United States was denying clearance to
ships with such cargoes destined to either faction to the controversy to
the south, it was necessary that all the facts be ascertained.

But it developed that the strong current of the plans of the man from
Mexico ran through Valentines, that outfitter of revolutionists and
dealer in second-hand and out-of-date war material. Valentines based his
operations upon the principle that the discarded munitions of
progressive nations are plenty good enough for use in Latin-America and
that the purchase of all such, no matter how antiquated, offers a good
opportunity for profit. Hardly a warlike venture in the tumultuous lands
to the south has run its course within recent years without leaning
heavily upon Valentines.

Knowing this, Gard was particularly anxious to find out what was
transpiring within when, on a murky Saturday night, he followed the
Russian and three of his Mexican associates through the narrow lanes of
the lower East Side, beneath its clanging elevated, and to the side
door of Valentines, within which they disappeared.

He had previously reconnoitered the surroundings. He knew that
Valentines had taken great care in guarding the privacy of his
establishment. The dark back room in which his conferences were held had
but one entrance, which was from the main establishment. The area-way
upon which its single window looked faced the wall of a printing house,
broken by but three or four small windows, as is so often the case with
these blank surfaces. Gard had made note of the fact that one of these
windows was opposite and above that in the back room of Valentines. He
had gained admission to the printing house and had viewed the adjoining
premises from this high window.

A single possibility presented itself. This was that Valentines might
leave his curtain up and that Jane Gates might help with the case.

Jane Gates occupied a warm spot in the hearts of the special agents and
they were always particular that when they called upon her there was no
possibility of unpleasant experiences, and the way seemed clear here.
She was a deaf girl, known among them as the Lily Maid, born without the
sense of hearing but mistress of the inestimable difficulties of lip
reading and the possessor of the nimblest set of fingers in the world,
these latter earning her a place as copyist for the service. Her face
was of a cameo beauty, with a touch of pathos because of her isolation.
She was the warm spot in the heart of the office but, as its very spirit
was the untangling of riddles, she had found opportunity to help in a
novel way in several difficult cases through her ability at lip reading.

By prearrangement Jane Gates, on this Saturday night, was awaiting at
the office not half a dozen blocks away a possible call from Billy Gard.
Barrett had a taxi at the front door and the expected summons brought
him to the publishing house in five minutes. Beneath a light in the hall
Gard told the deaf girl of the situation, for lip reading needs light.
Soon they were in the gloom by the little window and the eager eyes of
the Lily Maid were looking into the office opposite where the conference
on munitions was going forward. Fortunately Valentines did not speak
Spanish and an interpreter was necessary. The face of this man was in
plain view not thirty feet away.

Soon Jane Gates was repeating in the peculiar, hollow voice of those who
do not hear but have learned to form words with the lips:

"Mauser ammunition--old Krupp rapid-fire guns--Seventy five--"

Gard stepped beyond the range of view from the opposite window. He
turned a pocket flashlight on his own lips.

"Try to find out how they are to be shipped," he instructed.

"Could supply a total amounting to $750,000 in value," the girl repeated
after the interpreter.

"Delivered in thirty days--Brooklyn--how can you get clearance papers?"

"We clear for Odessa," the interpreter's lips said. "The United States
must accept our claim of that destination. We know how to evade embargo
regulations."

Valentines had been walking nervously about the room. At this moment he
approached the window and pulled down the curtain that looked into the
courtyard. The work of the lip reader was at an end.

[Illustration: "GARD TURNED A POCKET FLASHLIGHT ON HIS OWN LIPS: 'TRY TO
FIND OUT HOW THEY ARE TO BE SHIPPED'"--_Page 54_]

It was a month later when Gard had traced a consignment of ammunition
from the factory at Hartford to its place on a Brooklyn pier where it
lay ready for shipment. It seemed the last of the American goods that
were needed to complete the cargo of the Italian bark, _City of Naples_,
that was ready to sail. It appeared that papers had already been taken
out, that the manifests acknowledged the presence of great quantities of
war munitions, but that the claim was made that the cargo was bought for
South Russian dealers and bound for Odessa.

Gard hurriedly ascertained that the United States would not refuse
permission for the ship to sail. It was, however, anxious to keep in
touch with its movements. Could the special agent find a way to
accompany her? Gard would try.

Half an hour later a young Italian strolled down the pier just as the
last of the cargo was being taken aboard the _City of Naples_. He was
dressed in a well-worn, light-checked, somewhat flashy suit, a scarlet
vest, a flowing tie. His dark locks breathed forth odors of the lotions
of cheap barber shops. He walked nonchalantly aboard the Italian bark
and went below.

The vessel was just breaking loose from her moorings when the stowaway
was discovered. There had been great haste in her sailing and she was
making for the seas two hours ahead of her appointed time. The stowaway
surmised that there was every reason why her officers would fear delay
and that, if he could remain below decks until she was under way, the
vessel would not be stopped to put him ashore.

It was from this situation that an unequal fight developed in which
three sailormen sought to drag an unwilling youngster in a plaid suit
from the hold to the deck that he might be put off the ship. But the
first of the attacking force proved himself unfamiliar with the strategy
of a lead with the left to make an opening for a swing with the right,
and so this latter blow caught him on the chin and he went down and out.
The second sailor was a squarehead and rushed his antagonist. The
stowaway ducked and the force of the Swede increased the severity of a
mighty jab with the right in the pit of the stomach, which happened at
the time to be unusually full, and the attacker crumbled with an agony
in his inwards. The stowaway grappled with the third man and showed an
additional knowledge of the science of the rough and tumble. He twisted
one of that individual's hands behind him and pushed it up, using the
favorite jiu jitsu trick that American policemen have borrowed from the
Japanese. In this way he had his man at his mercy.

"Mother of Jesus," came a roar from the doorway in most indifferent
Spanish. "Where did you learn it all?"

The stowaway looked up and saw the huge form of the bearded Russian who
represented the government of Mexico standing there.

"In the United States," he answered in Spanish. "Ah, they are wonderful,
those Americans!"

It should be remembered that Billy Gard, for it was he, had lived abroad
when a boy with his father who was in the consular service. He had
learned the languages of the Mediterranean almost before he spoke
English and was therefore much at home among its people. And because of
this he had been able to become an Italian stowaway in half an hour at a
second-hand store in Brooklyn.

"But why all this fighting?" asked the Russian.

"I would go back to Italy, bon Italy," said the stowaway. "These pigs of
sailormen know not how homesick I am. They would put me ashore. I not
go. You see the result."

"Well, you will not be put ashore now," said the Russian. "I happen to
be interested in this cargo, and I want no delay. You may come on deck
with me."

It happened in this way that Billy Gard went to sea with a large cargo
of Mexican ammunition, little believing that it would ever cross to
Europe. Since he was aboard and might not be otherwise disposed of, the
Italian captain set him to work as a clerk, and got much good service
out of him on the ship's books before land was again sighted. It
happened in this way, also, that he was given an opportunity to study
and cultivate G. Egeloff, but little came of it because of the
all-sufficiency of that gentleman within himself.

Gard was greatly surprised when the _City of Naples_ maintained her
course straight across the Atlantic. Even more surprised was he when she
passed in at Gibraltar, ignored the ports of Spain, sailed past the
towns of her nativity in Italy and on to the east. Not until the
Dardanelles and the Bosphorus were passed was he convinced that she was
bound for the port for which she had cleared. But after six weeks at sea
she reached Odessa, on the Black Sea, and there put into port.

But at Odessa the unexpected happened. The authorities, being by
temperament suspicious and ever-vigilant of anarchistic plots, refused
to let the ship unload her cargo of ammunition. Egeloff stormed and
swore and bribed, but all to no avail. The ammunition might not be
landed.

Billy Gard managed to get ashore and find his way to the American
consulate. From there he was able to make his report to the home office
and receive instructions that he was to remain with the ammunition
cargo.

The special agent found his task comparatively easy here, and merely had
to wait for events to take their normal course. His chief interest was
G. Egeloff, who had remained a mystery to him despite a semi-friendship
that had slowly grown up between them. He had attempted in vain to lead
the Russian into a discussion of his future plans in Mexico, and had
grown to suspect that the gentleman had no such plans. At Odessa the big
man seemed impatient of delay, and, Gard thought, rather reckless of the
disposition of his charge.

The representative of the United States had been contemplating the value
of the guns bought at Valentines and the figure of $750,000 which the
Lily Maid had caught from the lips of the interpreter. He knew that the
purchases at Hartford had not exceeded $100,000. He drew the conclusion
that this strange representative of the Indian head of a Latin-American
nation would probably give less than value for the $3,000,000 that had
been placed in his hands for the purchase of American munitions of war.

The special agent was still attached to the _City of Naples_ as clerk
when, after ten days of futile attempts at landing her cargo, she again
turned her nose to the sea. She was two days out when he became assured
of a fact which he had suspected. The Russian was not aboard. The ship
picked her course through the Mediterranean, out again past Gibraltar,
but, instead of striking out toward Mexico as Gard had suspected she
would, she steered to the north and eventually came to anchor in the
port of Hamburg on a windy morning in March.

At Hamburg there was assurance of ability to discharge cargo. No sooner
had the ship tied up than its long-restrained personnel of officers and
crew availed themselves of the freedom of shore leave. As the afternoon
wore on, the vessel was deserted with the exception of the Italian
second mate and a few members of the crew. Gard stuck to his desk in the
purser's cabin. It was from this point of vantage that he became aware
of an altercation on deck. An American voice was saying in English:

"Mr. Egeloff; I want to see Mr. Egeloff."

The second mate protested his inability to speak English, whereupon a
second voice repeated the request in Spanish, with no better result.
Then of a sudden a great light seemed to break on the second mate.

"Ah! Si, señor. If you will be so good as to step this way."

Whereupon he led the strangers to the cabin, where he knew Gard to be
at work, and, remembering that the supposed clerk spoke many languages,
he turned the visitors over to him.

"Mr. Egeloff?" asked the American, evidently misinterpreting the action
of the mate.

The special agent was taken entirely by surprise. The possibilities of
such a situation had never presented themselves to him.

"What if I am?" he asked cautiously.

"I am McKay," said the American.

"You have credentials, I suppose," said Gard.

"Yes," answered that individual. "I am authorized to provide for the
reshipment of the cargo."

Whereupon he presented letters from the Mexican government showing him
to be its agent in London. His companion he introduced as Mr. Sanchez,
Mexican consul at Hamburg, whereupon the three dropped into Spanish and
continued the conversation. Gard presented letters he had found in the
ship's office and addressed to these gentlemen. He took it that these
letters were from the Mexican consul at Odessa. They evidently asked the
men to whom they were addressed to do what they could toward expediting
the transshipment of the cargo.

"We have all arrangements made," McKay volunteered. "The _Esmiranga_
will take our stuff aboard immediately and is sailing for Vera Cruz in
six days."

"I have had the very devil of a time," said the special agent,
introducing the rasp of an occasional Russian consonant into his Spanish
as he had heard it done for two months by the man whose rôle was being
thrust upon him. "I want to run over to Warsaw for a few days. Do you
not think, gentlemen, that I have earned this brief vacation?"

Whereupon McKay and Sanchez agreed to attend to all details, making it
necessary only that the supposed Egeloff should be in Hamburg on the day
of sailing. So was Gard relieved of the difficulty and danger of a
sustained masquerade and so was he able again to get in touch with
America. As a matter of fact he hurried to Paris. There he found
Coleman, whom he had known before, in charge of the Paris branch of his
own service.

"Dress me up like a white man," he told Coleman. "Lead me up to
something that human beings eat. Take me out where I may try the
experiment of attempting to be a gentleman again. I am by no means sure
I can do it. Four days from now talk to me about cipher messages, but
not until then."

But when Gard returned to Hamburg it was understood that he should use
the old confederate cipher for any messages that he might be able to
send. This is a simple and always efficient cipher made up of a square
of the letters of the alphabet. One begins by writing the twenty-six
letters in a row, commencing with A. The second line begins with B,
placed directly under the A of the first line, and followed by all the
letters in order. The third line begins with C, the fourth with D, and
so on until Z is reached. Any amateur may build up his square of letters
in this way.

There must be a secret key word which is known to the senders and the
receivers. The keyword is written out repeatedly and the message is
written beneath it. Instead of using the letters of the message, the
letters of the keyword are used. This is the first puzzling translation.
The message as it then appears is taken to the square of letters. In
writing it as it is ultimately to be sent, its letters are found in the
top line of the square and also in the perpendicular line that runs down
its side. The lines of letters that radiate from these margins, one
horizontally and one perpendicularly, meet at some point within the
square. The letter upon which they meet is used in the message. No one
in the world without his square of letters and without the keyword can
read this message.

So the home government was informed that Special Agent William H. Gard
might communicate with its ships by means of the confederate cipher and
that the keyword, rather strangely, was "Russian whiskers." The home
government transmitted this information to its battleships lying off
Mexico and their operators were instructed to pick up any wireless that
might come to them out of the Atlantic.

Gard hurried back to Hamburg just in time to sail on the _Esmiranga_. He
was not sure but that the big Russian would communicate with the Mexican
representatives and approached the situation he had developed with no
little misgiving. It appeared that his conclusion that the Russian had
made a getaway with much swag was correct. He was warmly received by
both McKay and Sanchez and the ship got away with but one difficulty
facing the special agent. The Mexican consul was returning to his native
land aboard it.

Gard realized that, as the confidential representative of Huerta, he
could not with impunity have anything to do with Sanchez, as that
volatile Latin would immediately lead him into much talk of Mexican men
and conditions. Gard knew almost nothing about Mexico City and could not
even sustain a casual conversation on that subject.

It was because of these considerations that the apparently genial
disposition of the supposed purchaser of munitions of war proved a
disappointment to Señor Sanchez. This Russian was evidently no sailor.
He took to his cabin as soon as the _Esmiranga_ took to sea. His sea
manners were also far from Latin for he answered with guttural oaths any
inquiries that were made as to the condition of his health. He seemed to
have gone on a mad debauch and insisted that a constant procession of
highballs be sent to his stateroom. He cut Señor Sanchez dead when he
met him on the deck. Caramba! A beast of a man was this, to be shunned
as the plague!

The captain and the wireless operator were the only individuals with
whom this disagreeable shipmate had anything to do. To the captain it
was made plain that a delicate situation existed off Mexico. The ships
of those pigs of Americans were blockading Vera Cruz. They might
blockade but they had no right to stop a German ship bound for that
port. But he must talk to his principals in Mexico. There was the
wireless of the _Esmiranga_, and there was his secret cipher which no
Yankee could read. Might the operator handle his messages?

To be sure. The representative of the Mexican government which was to
pay handsomely for the transportation of the cargo aboard the
_Esmiranga_ might do entirely as he wished.

So it transpired that Special Agent Billy Gard began talking to the
American battleships in southern seas when the _Esmiranga_ was not much
more than half-way across the Atlantic. He amused himself writing
messages much as a man passes the time of a voyage in playing solitaire.
So it happened that the United States Government had all the details of
the approach of a shipload of ammunition of American origin destined to
Huerta, upon whom the screws were just then being put for insulting the
Stars and Stripes. So it was evident that if this ammunition were
allowed to land, it might be used against American troops, who were at
any moment to be thrown into Mexico.

Yet the United States might not prevent a German ship from entering the
harbor at Vera Cruz. The only method of stopping that ammunition was to
seize the port and customs house and thereby come into possession of the
cargo if it were disembarked.

The wireless of the _Esmiranga_ sputtered out a message which, when
interpreted in accordance with the confederate cipher and the keyword of
"Russian whiskers," conveyed the information that the vessel was
approaching the Mexican coast and that her intention was to steam under
the very noses of the American dreadnoughts into port. The facts were
reported to Washington, where the alternative of seizing the port was
sternly faced. Orders were given to act.

The next day American marines went, some to glory and some to death,
past that most tragic spot in all America, the fortress prison of San
Juan de Ullao; into those streets frequented by the sacred scavenger
buzzard of the Aztecs; beneath the walls of the ancient parochial church
beside the Plaza de la Constitución where the first American boy was
destined to die at the hands of a sniping priest; into the gate city
that had known Cortez and Maximillian, and had loaded the galleons of
Spain with more silver and gold than had ever before been amassed
anywhere in the history of the world.

But the _Esmiranga_ did not come in to discharge her ammunition that it
might fall into the hands of the Americans. Instead, it haunted Mexican
waters for a while as a creature of unrest, uncertain where to land.
Finally it put into Mobile, where its captain was left at a still
greater loss, for the supposed Mexican gun-runner went ashore and was
seen no more. Sanchez, the Mexican consul, left by train for his native
land. Huerta, in the madness of his career, extended no instructions.

The ultimate disposition of the _Esmiranga's_ cargo completes the record
of another of those fiascos in the game of pandering to revolutionists
in Latin America. The outcast cargo knocked about the Caribbean for a
while like a party dressed up and no place to go. The constitutionalists
came into possession of Tampico and sought a way to deal with the
captain of the _Esmiranga_, who was still unpaid for transporting his
cargo and willing to listen to almost any proposition. But the
constitutionalists bought no pigs in pokes and insisted on an
examination of the cargo. Probably they had themselves bought of
Valentines and knew the nature of his stock in trade. They found a way
to open some of the boxes and there discovered such an array of antique
armament that even they scorned its use. Valentines and the Russian who
came to New York to buy for Huerta had taken no pains to give that
warlike gentleman the value of even a portion of his money.



IV

THE SUGAR SAMPLERS


"Mr. Gard," said the chief, "I take it you would like to earn the
stipend the Government pays you."

"Your lead sounds ominous," said the young special agent, who had a free
and easy way with him even at the Washington headquarters. "If I say
yes, you will hand me a large piece of hard work. If I say no, I will be
courting discharge. I select the lesser of two evils. I confess to a
desire to earn my money."

"It is like this," said the chief. "We suspect that there is a leak in
the collection of sugar duties. You know the possibilities. If a ship
comes to port with 10,000 tons of sugar from Cuba, it pays duty that
depends on the purity of the cargo. If that sugar is graded at 92 per
cent. pure it gets in a half cent a pound cheaper than if it is graded
96 per cent. pure. The difference in duty received by the Government on
such a cargo might, theoretically, amount to $100,000."

"If I catch three ships," mused Gard half to himself, "I have earned my
salary for the rest of my life and won't have to work any more."

"I wouldn't just say that," responded the chief; "but if you saved the
Government half a cent a pound on all the sugar imported, you would
bring into the coffers a round two million a year. That would be a fair
accomplishment for a somewhat amateurish detective."

"Sustained by the flattery of my superior," said Gard. "I am ready to
rush into any mad undertaking. What are the orders?"

"You will be assigned to one of the great sugar ports. We do not even
know that any fraud is being practised. You are to find out. If there is
fraud you are to determine the method of it. The criminals, particularly
the big ones, are to be apprehended. The Government would like to know
how these frauds may be prevented in future. The work need not be
completed to-morrow or next day. You may have any amount of help. But we
must know that sugar duties are honestly paid."

It was a week later that William H. Gard sent in his card to Henry
Gottrell, president of the Continental Refining Company, one of the
greatest importers of raw sugar in the nation. According to this card
Gard was a writer of magazine stories. He had explained in asking for an
interview that he was assigned to write an article on "sugar ships,"
which should be a yarn of color and romance in a setting of fact.

When the special agent entered the office of President Gottrell, large
and florid and radiating geniality, he found his plan of approach
somewhat interfered with by the presence of a third party. Seated at the
elbow of the refiner was one of the most striking young women he had
ever seen. Corn-colored hair gone mad in its tendency to curl made a
perfect frizzle about her face. A flock of freckles, each seemingly in
pursuit of its fellow just ahead, were hurdling the bridge of a somewhat
pug nose. Blue eyes that danced and a mouth that responded to the racing
thought of an active brain gave life to the face. And as she arose the
slightest movement of her slim, well-rounded form suggested fast work on
a tennis court.

Henry Gottrell presented his daughter.

"She always looked like a Swede," said the big man, "so we call her
Thelma."

"And Mr. Gard," she bubbled forth, "I have so wanted to know what a
writer did when he goes for an interview. May I stay and see?"

"It will destroy the romantic illusion if you do," said Gard. "Are you
willing to pay the price?"

"I can't believe that," she said. "Do let me see how it is done! Don't
leave out a single thing."

"The interviewer begins," said the special agent, "by seating himself,
as I am doing, in an uncomfortable chair which has been arranged with
the idea in mind of preventing him from staying too long. The gentleman
being interviewed always reaches into the right-hand drawer of his desk,
as your father is doing, and produces a box of very excellent cigars.
Then the interviewer explains the idea that is on his mind that requires
elucidation. Has the man being interviewed anything on hand, already
prepared, that covers the ground. Maybe he has made a speech at a
convention, or something of that sort. The idea is to save labor for
both. Mr. Gottrell is now looking for the report of his testimony
before the committee on tariff revision. He will probably produce three
reprints that will contain much matter that I want. I ask if he will
provide a conversational escort to conduct me over one of his sugar
ships, if I may talk to his captains. He agrees. You see him doing it.
The interview is at an end. The foundation has been laid for a romance
on 'sugar ships,' the same having a background of fact."

"That is splendid," exclaimed Miss Gottrell, "because it does so easily
a thing that looks so hard. It does not spoil an illusion at all. It is
wonderfully clever."

It was in this way that Special Agent Gard got an opportunity to go most
carefully over the docks, through the warehouses, into the ships of the
Continental Refining Company. It was in this way that he was enabled to
ask many questions that might have aroused suspicion had he been there
in any other guise than that of a writing man. It was in this way that
he was able to observe rather carefully every process of the transfer of
a cargo of sugar through the customs house at which the Federal
Government takes its toll.

All the time the special agent was looking for a clue--was bringing an
incisive mind to bear upon the problem of the course the sugar took and
the possibility of fraud at each step. He spent days observing the
methods of the weighers. He watched every detail of the transfer of
cargo from ship to warehouse. He loafed about the sheds where the
samples were taken--a process in which he took a vast interest.

Here the samplers, Government employees, ran their little hollow tubes
through the mesh of the sacks that contained sugar. The tubes went in
empty but came out full of that which was within. This constituted the
sample for a given sack. Each sample was made into a little package,
carefully labeled, and went to the Government laboratory to be tested.
The duty on the sugar coming in was charged according to the degree of
purity of these samples.

It was here that Billy Gard picked up his first clue. He noticed a
peculiarity about the methods used by the samplers in inserting their
tubes into the sacks. They were always run along the side of the sack
and never plunged into its very heart. Tobin, the little consumptive,
sampled in this peculiar way, as did the hammer-handed Hansen of the
every-ready scowl. Yet it would be easier to take the sample out of the
middle of the bag. Why did the samplers skim near the edge?

Gard took this question to the Government laboratory, but found no ready
answer to it. He procured a typical sack of sugar and from it took two
samples--one from the very heart and one from the outside rim. These he
had tested in the laboratory. That from the middle of the bag showed a
degree of purity 3 per cent. higher than that from the outside. The
impurity, the report stated, was in the form of water.

Technical men were set to work to determine through many experiments the
difference in the grade of the sugar in different parts of the bag.
Finally it was established that raw sugar has a tendency to take up
moisture, and that that portion of it which is exposed does so. The
sugar near the outside came in contact with the air which contained
moisture, while that on the inside did not. The refiners were, of
course, aware of this tendency. But the important conclusion from the
viewpoint of Billy Gard was that the Government samplers were doing
their work in such a way as to favor the importers. Here might be a leak
that was very important.

William H. Gard, special writer, that day disappeared from the sugar
docks and was never seen again. Simultaneously with his disappearance
the saloon of Jean Flavot, not a block and a half distant, acquired a
new customer in the person of a roughly dressed young laborer who did
not drink as heavily as some of his fellows, but was none the less
willing to buy for others. But what was vastly more in his favor in the
eyes of Flavot than even liberality was the fact that he spoke French.
Mon Dieu, these rough Americans who knew not of the blandishments of
absinthe and drank only the whisky! The resort keeper and the newcomer
held them in common contempt.

The special agent had selected the resort of Jean Flavot as a basis of
operations because it was the place most frequented by the samplers. He
wanted, in the first place, to find out if these men had more money to
spend than honest men of their salaries should have. The individual who
makes illicit money usually spends it lavishly and it should therefore
be easy to determine if the samplers were being paid to be crooked. And
Gard, after two weeks of convivial association with them, was rather
thrown back upon himself when he found that their carousals were always
within their means and that money was scarce among them. They were
evidently not being bribed.

That he might get on a more intimate basis with these samplers Gard went
to work as a laborer on the docks, and there toiled for two months. He
came to be most intimately one of them, was given every opportunity for
observing their work, was even intrusted with certain valuable
confidences when the men were sober and saw his way toward learning more
by associating with them when they were in their cups.

His task was but half finished, however, when the maiden with the frizzy
hair and the freckles came near upsetting the beans. The daughter of the
president of the company had played through her childhood on the docks
and about the warehouse and was not yet averse to climbing stacks of
sugar sacks or descending into the hold of the ships. So it happened
that she often visited the water front, and Gard had at first feared he
might be recognized, but this fear wore away as the visits were
repeated and no attention was paid to him.

But one busy day he was carting away the sacks of sugar that were being
unloaded in packages of twenty or so, slung in ropes and lifted by
mighty derricks, when Miss Gottrell strolled down the docks under a pink
parasol and in the midst of an array of fluffy, spring ruffles such as
make a healthy, wholesome girl outrival in beauty the orchids of the
most tropically luxuriant jungle.

The special agent had always liked corn-colored hair and freckles on the
nose and worshiped at the shrine of the physically fit. Besides which
this girl had enthusiasm and intelligence and inspiration. And it was
spring and he was a youngster shut off from his kind and lonesome. He
had thought of her a lot of times since that day he had interested her
by pretending to be something he was not. Now he rather resented it that
she should be there and he a perspiring laborer, not daring to speak to
her.

And just at that time something very startling happened. The great crane
of the ship drew another load of sugar from the hold and swung it
majestically over the dock. In doing so it described a great sweep in
reaching the spot where it was to be deposited. In the midst of this
sweep a single sack of sugar slipped from beneath the ropes and came
hurtling out and down as though it were a projectile from a sling.

The pink parasol was standing unconsciously with its back turned
directly in the course of the flying bag. The vision of spring beneath
it was gazing away to where a sail was just taking the fresh breeze.
Billy Gard and his truck were emerging from the shed for a new load of
sugar. And here was a young man quick to act and with a training that
enabled him to do so effectively.

Three strides and a leap into the air were all the time allowed. But
this was enough to make it possible for him to tackle about the waist
the catapulted sugar sack, much as he had often tackled the member of an
opposing team who tried to go around his end in the old football days.
To be sure, this end play was the fastest he had ever seen and resulted
in a good spill, but it was a success. The pink parasol was uninjured.

Thelma Gottrell came to a realization of what had happened about the
time Gard was getting himself to his feet. She ran to him spontaneously
and would have helped him to rise had he shown the forethought to be a
little slower.

"I do hope you are not hurt!" she began. "It was splendid--Oh! What? It
is Mr. Gard, isn't it? How in the world--" She stopped in consternation.
Billy Gard grinned foolishly.

"Don't give me away," he pleaded with her. "It is a very great secret
and it would all be spoiled if you did. A writing man must have color,
must know life, you know. Please don't spoil my chance by telling a
single soul about it."

"Since you have probably saved my life," said she, "it would not be
grateful of me to deny any wish of yours. But I will agree not to tell
only on one condition. You must promise to come to me and let me hear
all about it when it is over."

"I promise," said Gard.

"And you must let me say that I think you are wonderful to do the things
you do, and that I thank you."

She placed her dainty glove in his grimy workingman's hand for a moment
and was gone.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a wild Saturday night at Jean Flavot's. The occasion of the
celebration was the ending of the season on the sugar docks. For seven
months in the year the Continental Refining Company was busy with sugar
that poured in upon it from Cuba and Porto Rico and Santo Domingo and
other lands to the south. Then there was a period of five months when
there was no sugar from the outside and refiners turned their attention
to the home-grown crop.

Those men who had worked together in the camaraderie of the docks for
seven months this season, and perhaps for many a year before, were
to-morrow to be dispersed. They would be scattered about at many places
and would play their part in the handling of the raw sugar that came
from the canefields of Louisiana and the beet lands of Colorado and
Michigan. Most probably they would meet again on these same docks five
months later. But assuredly there was every reason why they should end
the season in one mad carouse.

Billy Gard was present. Through the weeks that had passed he had
gradually tightened the net that revealed to the Government the
conditions that existed on the sugar docks. But his case might still be
strengthened, for he wanted the whole story from a man who participated
in the irregularities, and in such a way that it might be introduced
into court as evidence. This was the last opportunity and the special
agent hoped that the story might be told to-night when the samplers were
reckless over their liquor.

Jean Flavot brought whisky and beer when the big-fisted Hansen beat upon
the table. Billy Gard stood upon his chair and drank to the time when
they would all get together again under the cobwebs that decorated the
ceiling of the little Frenchman. He led three lusty cheers for that
time, for none was so abandoned on these occasions as the youngster who
had saved the president's daughter. And Flavot and Billy interchanged a
wink, for they had a secret between them. Both knew that the beverage
that the special agent drank with such recklessness was nothing more
than cold tea, and the little Frenchman delighted in seeing his
favorite lead these American pigs, who knew no decency in drinking, on
to complete inebriety.

But Gard had a secret from even Flavot which had to do with a grimy
little man who sat at a nearby table and who had of late frequented the
place--a seedy, long-haired, sallow man who worked always with pencil
over the manuscript of a play he was writing. As a true genius he paid
no attention to what went on around him, but always pored over his
papers.

But this same man in Washington was a star stenographer at the
Department of Justice, a dapper, one-time court reporter, the man who
had handled the listening end of many a dictagraph when the ways were
being greased between men in high places and the penitentiary at
Atlanta.

"And you samplers," Gard was saying, "where can I meet you when another
Saturday night comes?"

"Me at the Bayou Fouche mills," said Hansen.

"And the company sends me to Colorado for my lungs," said Tobin, the
consumptive.

"And I keep time at the refinery," ventured "Fat" Cunningham.

"So everybody works," said the special agent. "Uncle Sam does not care
if he lays good men off half the time, but the Continental people take
care of the samplers."

"Good is the reason why they should," said the consumptive Tobin. "Don't
we save them enough money in the way we take the samples?"

"How is that?" asked Gard.

"Look here, young fellow," said the gruff Hansen, "it seems to me that
you are a good little asker of questions. Why are you so curious? Maybe
you are a secret service man, eh?"

"Sure," said Gard. "I am Chief Wilkinson himself."

"Wilkinson, nothing," said Hansen. "His name is Wilkie."

"Wilkie, your eye," argued the special agent. "Don't you suppose I read
detective stories? His name is Wilkinson."

But the sampler was sure of his facts and the apparent error of the
other man disarmed him.

"Well," he said, "as you're so curious and as I have the tip that you
are to be a sampler next season, I might as well put you wise. We are
all taken care of by the refiners because we look after their interests
on the dock."

The big fellow looked carefully about, but there was nobody near except
the frowsy dramatist, who was absorbed in his manuscript. He threw off
another big drink of whisky and with it all discretion.

"You see," he said, "a sampler on Government wages would be in a pretty
fix if he were let out after seven months and had to stand a chance of
loafing for five. So the company passes the word that if the boys do the
right thing they will be given work during the off season. I happen to
know Gottrell himself and he takes me aside. That was eight years ago.

"'Hansen,' he says to me, 'pass the tip to the boys to sample right,' he
says, 'and there will be work for them between seasons.'

"'What do you mean, sample right?' I says.

"'Well,' he says, 'a wet sample may mean she grades 92 and a dry one
that she grades 94. A sampler can get a good many of them wet. I don't
have to tell you how.'

"So I passed the word," continued Hansen. "At the end of the season
half of the samplers were offered jobs with the company. It was easy, of
course, for them to find from the records who was getting wet sugar. Not
a dry sugar man got a job. You ask Tobin. He was one of the guys who
held out for honesty. But it was a hard season for Tobin, with his
health bad and three kids. So next season he lined up. So did most of
them. Inside of three years there was not a sampler on the dock who was
not taking them wet."

"But put me wise," said Gard. "If I am going to get a sampler's job next
year you better pass the word to me so I will know how to hold it."

"I guess you know enough about raw sugar," said the sampler, "to know
that it drinks up moisture like a sponge when it gets a chance. Well,
they are not careful in keeping out the damp air when it is aboard ship,
and it often comes handy, not altogether by accident, for a sack of
sugar to get a chance to lie on a wet board. The sugar on the outside
naturally gets a little damp, and if you will turn a sack over you may
find a wet side to it. The first lesson is to take your samples from
the wet side of the sack and from the part near the outside.

"But maybe the sugar has been kept pretty dry. Well it is up to the
sampler to get a little moisture into his tube. If it is a warm day a
few drops of sweat may be gathered by a scrape of the back of your hand.
Every drop is worth its weight in gold a hundred times to the refiners.
It would surprise you to learn how cleverly the sampler learns to spit a
bit of tobacco juice into his tube. You have worked on the docks for a
long time. You never saw it done, did you? But they were at it all the
time. I bet the Government has paid a million dollars for tobacco juice
in the last ten years. Cunningham, here, has grown fat eating tobacco."

"But does everybody on the dock take wet samples?" asked the detective.

"Surest thing you know," said Hansen. "Ask them."

"How about it, Cunningham?" queried Gard.

"I need the work," said the fat man.

"And you, Tobin?"

"I held out a year," said the little consumptive, "but couldn't afford
to lose my job."

All the others present pleaded guilty.

"Don't you fellows get anything for it but a little off-season work?"
asked Gard.

"Not a thing," acknowledged Hansen with a huge oath. "We certainly sell
out cheap and the company makes barrels of money out of the bargain. But
the old man has never given us a look in on any of it."

The dictagraph stenographer at the next table had caught every word. He
was in a position to substantiate the testimony of Gard who should be
able to make these samplers tell their stories in court. Soon the two
faded away without being missed, but they took with them a complete case
against the Government samplers of this port and against the Continental
Refining Company which had been profiting through their shortcomings.

It was a month later and Billy Gard had completed his work. He had gone
to Henry Gottrell "cold turkey," and with authority from the department.
He had shown that rotund and genial captain of industry just the case
the Government had against him. With him he had gone over the record of
the business of the refiners since that period, eight years previous,
when the wet sample scheme had been inaugurated. He had worked out an
estimate of the probable duty that the Government had lost during that
time. The actual loss was not, of course, as great as the theoretical,
for many of the samples were of necessity honest. Yet it must have run
as high as $600,000 as a shortage on the part of Gottrell and his
associates.

Gard indicated the possibility of the success of a criminal prosecution,
the probability of recovering that large sum of money through the
courts. He confessed to the humiliation of the Government that so many
of its employees had been false to their trust. He even granted that the
Government might, under the circumstances, feel itself somewhat to blame
for the conditions that had existed. It is not recorded whether the
vision of a girl with frizzly, corn-colored hair came into the mind of
the special agent and had to do with his recommendations that the case
be settled out of court. But certain it is that the Government
authorized him to propose that, if the company should pay the Government
$600,000, an amount it would be just able to raise and escape
bankruptcy, the case would be dismissed, the samplers discharged, and a
new régime inaugurated in which the Government would take pains to
protect itself.

Upon this basis the case was settled. Billy Gard had earned his salary.

The next day he was packing up at his hotel in preparation for leaving
for Washington when there arrived by messenger a little, square,
delicately scented envelope which he tore open somewhat wonderingly.
Inside he found this note:


     Father has told me all about it. For the third time let me say,
     "Splendid!" And remember that you promised to come and tell me
     about it when it was all over.

     THELMA GOTTRELL.


Which would seem a perfectly good reason why Gard was a day late in
reaching Washington.



V

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL SLEUTH


Billy Gard was jogging comfortably from the station to the Commercial
hotel in the carryall which, in Royerton, still afforded the only link
between those two points, when pandemonium broke out in the slumbrous
streets. He met its forerunner head on not two blocks from the station.
This bolt that had launched itself from the clear skies took the form of
a normally dignified family carriage drawn by two lean bays. But the
sedate respectability which surrounded this equipage when it was driven
by its proper owner, President Sissons of the Royerton National bank,
had been lost in the madness of the present exploit.

For the lean bays were now extending themselves in what appeared to be
an attempt to break all speed records that the community had ever known.
The dignified carriage was careening from side to side in a way that
threatened its overthrow at any moment. Gard's first impression was of a
team that had broken loose from a hitching rack and dashed away
uncontrolled. But as it flashed past him there was an instant in which
the actual situation was photographed upon his brain.

For this team was not without a driver. He had seen the form of a slim
young man which leaned far out over the dashboard--pale, refined
features that fitted illy into a scene of such vigorous action. But what
was more surprising was that this driver, instead of attempting to
restrain his horses, was every moment lashing them into new exertions.

"Homer Kester, as I live!" ejaculated the driver of the carryall in
consternation.

"Who is Homer Kester?" asked Gard.

"The cashier of the bank," was the reply.

Whereupon the young special agent of the Department of Justice acquired
an even greater interest in the situation than he had experienced
before, for he had come to Royerton for the purpose of making inquiries
into the condition of its national bank, which was under suspicion.

Behind the fleeing carriage came the town constable, who had evidently
appropriated, for purposes of giving chase, the first horse he had found
by the side of the street. Others had joined in the pursuit and a rabble
of small boys and curious townsmen crowded the street. From these the
stranger was soon able to gather the story of what had happened in the
immediate past.

It had suddenly developed that the cashier was short in his accounts.
The directors had awakened of a sudden to a realization that the
institution over which they presided was but a financial shell. There
was no delay in the interest of expediency. An immediate call was sent
forth for the constable. The young cashier went into a panic. In
desperation he rushed from the back door of the bank, cut loose the team
of the institution's president which stood near, leaped in and fled from
the danger that faced him.

It would have appeared that such a procedure would have been entirely
futile, that there would have been no question of the apprehension of
this criminal. Yet such was not the case, and Homer Kester was a thorn
in the flesh of the authorities and particularly of Special Agent Billy
Gard for many a day. For he ran his team two miles into the country,
abandoned it, but sent it still adrift, caught a cross-country trolley,
and with the exception of a single fleeting moment, was not again seen
by the authorities for a year and a half.

Gard, in the meantime, was faced with the immediate problem of
determining the nature of the crime and representing the United States,
that justice might be meted out. In the course of which work he
developed the detail of what had happened to the lone financial
institution of this country town and revealed a method by which a single
depositor had filched it of its funds in a way that almost amounted to
the knowledge and consent of the directors.

The trouble was all caused by a young man by the name of George D.
Caviness, who was born with a peculiar gift of inducing his associates
to perform for him such favors as were better not granted. It would seem
that he had taken for his model in life the monkey (if it was a monkey)
that had first induced the cat to pull those historical chestnuts out of
the fire. But so alluring were his blandishments, so attractive his
personality, so popular was he socially, that the town had become
accustomed to forgiving his transgressions and allowing him to have his
way.

The father of George D. had been a director of the Royerton National
bank and at one time a man of means. It was a great shock to the town
when, three years earlier, the elder Caviness had blown out his brains.
It was a surprise to his associates to find that his estate had so
dwindled that there was almost nothing left. The bank was directly
embarrassed, because of the fact that the younger Caviness had borrowed,
upon his father's endorsement, $3,000 from that institution. Knowing the
youngster as these directors did, they called him on the carpet and
asked him what he intended to do toward making good.

"I am going to pay these notes almost immediately," he said confidently.
"You know that I am now the local representative of a New York insurance
company. I am doing a great business. In fact, I can promise a payment
to-morrow."

"But," urged a director, "your personal account is also overdrawn."

"That will not be necessary any more," said Caviness. "I am now on a
firm financial basis. I am now in a position to throw new business to
the bank instead of being a burden to it."

With these assurances the directors parted with young Caviness on the
friendliest of terms. They wanted to believe in what he said, as this
would save the bank money and themselves embarrassment. Further than
this there seemed nothing that could be done, and the boundless optimism
of the young man created confidence.

The next day the insurance agent deposited for discount a sixty-day note
for $300, given him by a man for whom he had written a policy. He drew
$50 in cash, and allowed the balance to be placed to his credit. The
directors were encouraged. The insurance man continued such operations,
much of his paper being perfectly good. It would appear that he was on
the way toward clearing up his affairs, but Caviness spent much money,
some of it going toward the entertainment of sons and daughters of the
directors. If they stopped him at any time it would have meant the
absolute loss of the amount he already owed. As illogical as it might
seem, more and more credit was extended.

In addition to the liberties that Caviness thus took with the directors
of the bank, he had also established a sort of dominance over Homer
Kester, its young cashier. The dominant insurance man had been a leader
among their mutual associates from youth, was the social lion of the
town, and always patronized the cashier. That timid youth had allowed
his friend to overdraw his account when his father was a director, and
it therefore seemed safe. This fact made it easier afterward when it was
unsafe.

Finally the directors awoke to the fact that George Caviness owed the
bank $10,000. Homer Kester, the cashier, so reported. The directors were
appalled. This was the end.

Caviness was contrite. He made new notes for the whole amount. These
would at least appear in the assets of the bank when the examiner came
around. He promised he would in future deposit only cash and certified
checks. The hope of recovering some of the money led the directors to
keep the account open. There seemed no other way.

But Kester, the cashier, had not reported all the facts with relation
to the Caviness accounts. The checking account of the latter was at this
time overdrawn to the amount of $3,500. The cashier realized that he had
been personally at fault in allowing this. He had confessed his
embarrassment to Caviness. The latter had advised that the cashier
juggle the accounts in such a way that the shortage would not show, and
that he fail to report it to the directors.

Arranging the accounts was easy. As a matter of fact, these overdrafts
were already being hid by being carried on the books as cash. The
arrangement had become necessary upon the occasion of a recent visit of
a national bank examiner. As the examiner had been deceived, so might be
the directors. So it happened that Caviness was $3,500 deeper in debt
than the directors knew.

Billy Gard was fascinated in developing the psychology of the case--the
manner in which this prodigal played upon the cashier and the directors
to his advantage. But here the miscreant had come to the end of his
string with the directors. He was to be allowed only to pay in money.
But with the cashier the situation was different. Caviness now had
Kester in his control. That youngster had made a false report to the
examiner and the directors. He had violated the law. His position, even
his freedom, depended on helping Caviness to make good.

"If I had but a few hundred dollars," Caviness told Kester when they met
surreptitiously to talk the matter over, "I could clean up the whole
amount. I have a most unusual business opportunity in Philadelphia. You
must let me overdraw just once more."

"Not a cent," insisted Kester. "I have already let you ruin me and the
bank. I will go no further."

"If you don't," brutally stated the insurance man, "you are ruined by
what you have already done, I am ruined, the bank is ruined. This is the
one chance."

In the end he went to Philadelphia to grasp this one chance. Billy Gard
acknowledged that it was logical that the cashier should allow him to do
so. The draft that Caviness drew was for twice the amount he had named
but the harassed cashier could not bring himself to refuse to honor it.
Caviness had proved himself a psychologist again. Two days later a
smaller draft came but with no line of explanation. The chance to recoup
might depend upon this money, the cashier felt. He appreciated the
greater chances on the other side but, having honored the larger check,
he could not turn down the smaller one. It was not logic that he should
do so. As the days passed there came other drafts for always smaller
amounts. There was still no report from Caviness. Yet what excuse could
the cashier offer himself for refusing these small drafts when he had
honored the big ones? Finally the prodigal drew, in a single day, forty
small checks ranging from one to five dollars.

Despairingly the cashier cashed every one.

It was during the week that followed that the directors had precipitated
the flight of the cashier. Billy Gard found the whole case easy to clear
up with the exception of the apprehension of the two men who had been
the instruments in wrecking the bank.

The special agent had little doubt of his ability to catch Homer Kester,
the cashier. There was the almost infallible theory that such a fugitive
would write home. There was but the necessity to wait until he should
do so and the point of hiding would be indicated by the post mark. There
was no need of haste in the case of Kester, it seemed, but Caviness was
harder to figure out.

Yet just the reverse proved to be true. Gard's theory for catching a man
of the Caviness type held good, while on the fugitive cashier he
absolutely failed.

In Royerton it was easy to find many intimates of the insurance man.
From these it was learned that the spendthrift often visited
Philadelphia and that while there he kept fast company. Some of the
young men of the village knew of the places he frequented, the people
who were his friends.

"Such a man," soliloquized Billy Gard, "always hides with a woman."

Whereupon the special agent returned to Philadelphia and began
investigating, one after another, the resorts and the sporting friends
of the missing insurance agent. One thread after another was followed to
its end until, in tracing a certain woman to Germantown, the special
agent met with a result and a surprise that was beyond his expectation.

A drayman who had hauled the goods and chattels of the woman he was
tracing had given Gard the Germantown address. It was eleven o'clock on
a sunshiny morning when the special agent reached the address. It was a
narrow house in a closely built row and evidently was rented, each floor
as a flat. Gard had reconnoitered front and back, had gossiped with the
grocer at the corner, with some children in the street. He was looking
for an opportunity to approach the janitor of the house to question him
informally, wanted to talk to the postman. Then he met the policeman on
this beat. He had asked this guardian of the law about the occupants of
the flat in question and the two men were drifting idly past when
pandemonium broke loose.

Shriek after shriek tore its way through the drawn curtains of the
ground-floor flat. There was the crash of broken furniture, the whack of
heavy blows, the thud of falling bodies. The policeman and the special
agent ran to the door of the house to which the former put his shoulder
with good effect. They were thus let into a narrow hall. Off of this
were the doors to the flat through which the noise of a vast
disturbance continued to come. It required the strength of the two men
to break through the barrier, and some delay was occasioned. But when
the door was finally forced it was a wild scene that was revealed.

They had broken into the sitting room. Sprawled across its floor was the
form of a disheveled woman, frowsily blonde, shapely, clad in a dressing
sacque and evidently unconscious. Chairs were upset, tables overturned.

The intruders gave but a hurried glance to this apartment, however, for
the action of the play was still going forward and might be seen through
the torn portières that led into the adjoining dining-room. As they
looked the form of a strong young man fell heavily across the
dining-room table, felled by a blow from the stout stick of a slim
antagonist. The wielder of the stick shifted his position and Billy Gard
got a view of his face, lividly white, delicately chiseled and refined
in appearance. It seemed illy to fit into this chaotic scene. Yet the
special agent knew he had seen it before and instantly the photographic
flash of such a face bending over the dashboard of a madly plunging
carriage returned to his consciousness. It was the face of Homer Kester.

Billy Gard had often had occasion to be vastly surprised by the
unexpected vigor and prowess of mild and law-abiding men when plunged by
circumstances into the realms of the lawless. He had therefore not been
greatly surprised when the young cashier had made his wild ride to
freedom. But as the aggressive wielder of a heavy stick that had beaten
his antagonist into unconsciousness--this was indeed a militant rôle to
be played by the inoffensive former cashier. That young man evidently
had qualities that had not been attributed to him.

Gard knew instantly that the man stretched across the dining-room table
was Caviness, the bank wrecker. The policeman, true to his training,
rushed into the affray that it might be stopped and the participants
placed under arrest. The wielder of the heavy stick turned toward the
door, took in the situation in a glance and fled toward the back of the
house. As in his escape from Royerton, all the luck broke with him. As
he dashed into the kitchen he slammed the door behind him. It was
probably all chance that the latch was so set that the door locked, and
the officer was delayed in breaking it down. From the back steps of this
ground-floor flat to an alley was but twenty feet. When the officer
gained those steps he but looked into a blank board fence in which there
appeared another closed door. He rushed to this, flung it open, looked
out. There was not a soul in sight. The police of Philadelphia lost
track of Homer Kester when he slammed the flat door in the face of this
member of its Germantown staff. The prowess of the Federal agents,
represented by William H. Gard, one of its best men, was also
ineffective in tracing the fugitive farther than to a railway station
where he took a west-bound train.

It was more than a year after this and George D. Caviness was serving
time in the Federal penitentiary at Atlanta. Billy Gard had been working
hard on many other cases that had intervened and the tracing of Homer
Kester had been allowed to rest. It is the motto of the Federal
detectives, however, that a case is never abandoned, and now Gard was
back upon the old task of catching the fugitive cashier. His decks were
otherwise clear and his instructions were to get his man.

Gard locked himself up with the Kester case for three days. He read the
records of it, reviewed his personal knowledge, got together every scrap
of information that had any bearing upon the character of the fugitive.
He wanted to know exactly what sort of youngster Kester was, he wanted
to place himself in that youngster's place and attempt to determine what
he would have done under the circumstances. It is a method that has been
used by a few detectives with very great success. But it is only the
occasional man who is so human that he may discard his own personality
and appreciate the course that would be taken by another, who may thus
get results.

In Kester he had a youth of twenty-four who had been born and reared in
Royerton, had rarely been away from that town, had no interests out of
it. He was a young man of good character, had demonstrated certain
strokes of boldness and action. He had a mother and father and two
sisters living in Royerton.

It appeared that Kester had fled and that he had cut all ties behind
him--that he had left town and had never communicated with his relatives
or friends. While Gard had been off the case a vigilant watch had
none-the-less been kept upon all letters arriving in Royerton that might
possibly be from the fugitive. No letters had come.

"Now, Gard," said the detective to himself, "were you a youngster of
this training, living thus in Royerton, surrounded by a family to which
you were devoted, with no interests in the world outside, with a certain
element of boldness in your nature; if under these circumstances you got
into trouble, would you run clear away and never communicate with your
people?"

"No," he answered, transported back the few years that separated him
from the inexperience of twenty-four. "I could not break so easily from
my dependence upon my family and the only world I had ever known."

"And if you were thus thrown upon your own resources in the big outside
world and had no money, and if you had the additional handicap of
having to keep in hiding--would you be able to face a proposition like
this and still not call for help from your people?"

"No," again answered the hypothetical youngster. "I would hide and find
a way to get money and news from home."

So the detective reached the conclusion that Kester was, in all
probability, communicating with his relatives. It was evident that he
was not writing home. Too close a watch could be kept on letters coming
to a small town for any of his people or their confidential friends to
be receiving them without the knowledge of the special agents who,
through the postmaster and letter carriers, had been steadily watching
this means of communication.

So the conclusion was reached that Kester was getting messages to his
people through some other means than the mails, in all probability
through a confidential messenger. To do this he must be near by. He
could hide to best advantage in a city. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh,
Baltimore were in a convenient radius. The detective drew the conclusion
that, were he in the boots of the fugitive, he would have taken refuge
in one of these cities; that, had he not been willing to risk the
mails, which Kester evidently was not, he would have used some trusty
go-between and through that agency would have learned the news from home
and received from his relatives the money upon which to live.

Upon the basis of this theory Billy Gard asked himself more questions.

"Were I hiding under such conditions whom would I use as a messenger?"

A faithful former servant who might be living there, a distant relative,
some individual hired for the task. There were not so many
possibilities. They might be exhausted in a few weeks' investigation.
Was there not, however, a shorter road to results?

"If I were in this lad's place," the detective again queried
introspectively, "what would make me write home?"

"Obviously nothing would," came the answer, "so long as I could
communicate through the safer medium of a trusted messenger."

"But if the messenger were an impossibility, would I write?"

This query the detective had some difficulty in answering. He brought
himself to experience the lonesomeness and homesickness of the
fugitive, the lad whose whole life interest was wrapped up in the little
circle in which he had moved. At the same time he appreciated the
fugitive's proven fear of the mails and his avoidance of them so far.

But for the sake of laying down a basis for action Detective Billy Gard
granted that he would write if he could not communicate otherwise. If
this were admitted what was to be done? Obviously the former methods of
communication should be cut off.

How could this be done?

The messenger method of communication was possible only because the
fugitive was near home. If he were far away it could not be used. If he
were far away he would also feel an added degree of security. A worldly
fugitive would not, but Kester would. With a continent between him and
his crime the man who had always lived in this narrow sphere would not
appreciate the possibilities of his capture. He would write.

Special Agent Billy Gard was quite sure of this. He would have done it
himself at twenty-four. The runaway cashier should be captured by being
caused to flee thousands of miles further away.

Having reached this conclusion the special agent called Police Sergeant
Flaherty on the telephone. Would Flaherty come to see him? Flaherty
would be there in fifteen minutes.

Now Gard knew that Flaherty had grown up in the little town of Royerton.
His folks lived there and Flaherty occasionally went back for a visit.
The Irishman was a trustworthy guardian of the law and might be depended
upon to carry out orders.

"Flaherty," said the special agent, "would you like to take a bit of a
trip to Royerton over Sunday and see your folks, with all expenses
paid?"

"Would I eat a Dago's apples when I was hungry?" said the policeman.

"Well, here is the lay of the land," Gard explained. "I am after that
fugitive cashier, Kester, and I am going to get him. He is not far from
home and his folks are in communication with him. I want them to know
that I am after him. They will tell him, will supply him with a bundle
of money and he will not stop running until he reaches Arizona. Then I
will get him."

"Them are not police methods," said Flaherty. "I am not catching this
dip, but when I do pinch them it is usually by getting close to them."

"I like to catch them on the wing," said Gard. "Anyway, you have merely
a speaking part. Your talk is to the home folks, to the effect that I am
hot on the trail of Homer Kester and likely to nab him at any moment. Go
talk your head off."

Whereupon the policeman from Royerton spent the week-end at that
village, had a good time and passed the word of warning.

Billy Gard waited ten days.

At the end of that time he was called on the telephone by the postmaster
at Royerton. A letter had come to a sister of Homer Kester and in that
young man's handwriting. It was postmarked "Spokane, Washington."

Gard despatched a long telegram in code to the special agent of the
Department of Justice nearest Spokane, he being located in Seattle. He
asked that officer to run over to Spokane and pick up his man. It was
merely the task of locating a well-described stranger in a
comparatively small city. Two days later the Department was informed of
the arrest.

"Psychology," said Billy Gard ruminatively, "is a great help to a
detective--when it works."



VI

"ROPING" THE SMUGGLERS OF JAMAICA


Special Agent Billy Gard sat in the café of Fun Ken, that wealthy
Oriental who had pitched his resort among the ferns of the Blue
Mountains which look down upon Kingston, the capital city of the
tropical and flowery island of Jamaica. Many drowsy afternoons had he
spent here with orange juice and a siphon at his elbow and the best of
Havanas in his teeth. For Billy, in the opinion of every man he met in
the islands, with the single exception of the American consul, was a
retired manufacturer, with money to spend and time hanging heavily on
his hands.

As a matter of fact, his table at the café was chosen because it gave
him an opportunity to observe Fun Ken and his satellites, whom he
suspected of being a part of a huge conspiracy for the smuggling of
opium and Chinamen into the States.

This afternoon he had thus silently gained a reaffirmation of his
belief that Fun Ken was a part of the organization with which he had
already associated Wilmer Peterson, whose acquaintance he had been
cultivating. He had seen Peterson alight from the electric car that
passed the door. The American had gone through the café and out at the
back. Fun Ken, who was at the time presiding at the cashier's desk, had
immediately disappeared. Half an hour later Fun Ken was again on the
cashier's stool and Peterson shortly thereafter returned to the café.
This occurrence had been witnessed for three days in succession by the
special agent, who regarded it as a convincing indication of collusion
between these two men.

Of Peterson's operations, Gard already had absolute proof. This he had
gained at Port Antonio, the shipping point for fruit at the other end of
the island. He had been sent to the Caribbean because of the difficulty
the United States was having in preventing the smuggling of opium and of
Chinamen not legally entitled to enter the country.

It was suspected that Jamaica was the base of operations for these
smugglers, and the Government wanted to understand the case from the
inside.

Gard assumed the rôle of a retired glass manufacturer who had time to
lounge the winter away about the southern seas. For two weeks he had
luxuriated about the Hotel Titchfield, in Port Antonio, and changed his
clothes oftener than any Englishman in the place. There he had noted the
clumps of idle Chinamen who made headquarters near the wharf, and the
occasional stealthy American who was particularly in evidence when there
were freighters in the harbor.

Gard soon became a familiar figure about the hotel lobby and bar-room,
where he spent money freely. Likewise was his boat to be seen on the bay
for many hours of the day, for he made rowing his diversion.

"Don't buy drinks for that bunch, Mr. Gard," Hogan, the bartender at the
Titchfield, admonished him. "They are nothing but a lot of smugglers."

This was his first lead. That night Gard rowed late on the bay, skirted
a banana boat that lay tied to the wharf and scrambled up unseen to a
side door of the customs house. To this door he had a key. He let
himself in. Where the customs house faced the wharf were large double
doors through which freight might be taken directly to the boat tied
there. The special agent unlocked these doors and made a crack just
large enough for observation and for eavesdropping, but still so small
as not to attract attention from the outside. Here he waited from eight
to eleven o'clock.

In the stillness of this late hour the skipper of the banana boat and
Peterson, the smuggler, held a conference.

"I have room for ten men," said the skipper.

"I have the men ready to come aboard," said the smuggler.

"And the money?" suggested the man of the seas.

"The cash is ready; $150 for each man when he is stowed away. You will
land them at Mobile."

"At Mobile," assented the captain.

"See me next trip at Kingston," said the smuggler. "I leave for that
point in the morning."

Thus was gained the first peep into the methods of the smugglers. Gard
reported to the American consul, who sent a message that would result
in the seizure of the banana boat when it reached Mobile.

The special agent now had the thread of his work well in hand. His
intentions were to get at the very bottom of the affair, however, and
not merely to apprehend an individual like Peterson. That gentleman
should be induced to show the way. Peterson should be "roped." That most
effective, yet most difficult task of working into the confidence of a
culprit and inducing him to lay his cards on the table, should be
employed.

It was with this idea in mind that Gard came down to breakfast early the
next morning, but not so early that Peterson was not there ahead of him.
He sat opposite his man. The special agent kept looking at his watch
apprehensively, and finally asked the man opposite if he knew what time
the train left for Kingston.

"At eight-thirty," said Peterson. "There is plenty of time. I am going
over on that train myself."

This opened the conversation, and placed Gard in the position of having
first indicated his intention of making the trip. He had said he was
going before he seemed to know that Peterson had any such intention.
These small matters are of great importance in laying the foundation for
getting your man. They talked through the meal. It was but natural when,
at 8:15, Gard appeared with his grip and started to enter his cab, that
he should ask Peterson, who was just then ready for departure, to join
him.

At the station the smuggler, as a return favor, advised Gard not to
purchase a ticket, as one could ride for half the fare by handing the
cash to the conductor. Gard, however, declined this opportunity to save
money, for he was looking to the future and the necessity of
establishing himself in a given light with this stranger.

Peterson asked his companion as to the hotel to which he was going in
Kingston.

"The Myrtlebank," said Gard.

"It will cost you six dollars a day," said the smuggler. "Come with me,
and I will show you as good accommodations for three."

A detective less experienced in roping might have considered an
opportunity to go to this man's hotel with him as a piece of good
fortune. Gard declined the invitation.

"No," he said. "The expense is of little importance to me. I shall stay
at the Myrtlebank. Won't you take dinner with me there to-night?"

Peterson, being what the English call a "bounder," was impressed by his
friend's disregard for money, and eagerly accepted all his invitations
to share a more expensive hospitality. So was the atmosphere created for
which the detective was striving.

The two men spent much time together. They automobiled about the city
and dined at the resort of Fun Ken, back in the hills. The man who
claimed to be a retired glass manufacturer seemed to be a careless sort
of individual, with a disregard of how he spent his time. He was rather
indifferent of his associates, it seemed, and inclined toward those
whose lives were free and easy. He was the last man in the world to
appear to have any interest in the activities of his fellows, or to care
whether their means of livelihood was honest or not. He was the source
of a great deal of satisfaction to Peterson, who was often embarrassed
by inquiries into his occupation.

And all the time Gard was picking up the details of the operations of
the smugglers. It was through the negro boy who waited on him at the
hotel that he learned of an opium shipment. The boy had overheard the
conversation that gave him the information, and told of it amusingly in
the cockney English of the Jamaican negro.

Sing Foo was the moving spirit from the Chinese end in these smuggling
operations. He was a more important man, in fact, than was Fun Ken, who
ran the resort on the hill. Sing Foo was a wealthy merchant with a large
establishment in the center of the Kingston Chinatown. Gard had been
studying his establishment. The strange thing about it was that there
were constantly two or three hundred idle Chinamen in its vicinity. The
presence of Chinamen not at work is a condition so peculiar as to
require an explanation. But with the smuggling theory in the back of
one's head, it was easy to conceive that these superfluous Mongolians
were waiting an opportunity to be shuttled into the United States.

The smuggling of opium and of Chinamen was known to go hand in hand.
Sing Foo, according to the negro boy, had arranged a shipment of opium
to Philadelphia. A French-American named Flavot, whom Gard had met
through Peterson, had been the intermediary. The captain of a tramp
copra trader was to carry it. It was to be snugly hidden and, when the
steamer docked, nothing was to be done immediately about it.

Presently a large negro wearing a linen ulster would come aboard under
the pretext of doing some sort of work about the ship. This negro was to
be shown the opium. He would carry it out a few boxes at a time.

Gard cabled his home office the details of this deal in opium
introduction. He advised that nothing be done until the negro went
aboard, actually carried out the stuff and was followed to his
principal. There was a slip in Philadelphia, however; the captain got
suspicious and the opium was thrown into the river.

Two months passed in this way. All the time Gard and Peterson were
becoming more intimate. One day the supposed retired glass manufacturer
confessed to the smuggler that he had once made some easy money by
backing some men who had a system of beating the poolrooms. This, he
said, was in Vicksburg, Miss. The poolrooms in that city got their
returns on the Memphis races on a loop that was relayed out of New
Orleans. That is, the results were telegraphed from Memphis to New
Orleans and from there relayed to the smaller cities on a telegraphic
loop. This caused a delay of about four minutes. The men whom Gard had
backed had established communication by telephone between Memphis and
Vicksburg and got the returns in time to put down bets ahead of the
receipt of the poolroom's information. Thus they made the cleanup.

This not merely paved the way to similar confidences on the part of
Peterson, but gave him to understand that Gard's morals were none too
puritanical, and that he might be induced to back other questionable
enterprises.

Peterson evidently thought this matter over thoroughly before acting,
for it was three days before he touched on the subject. Then he said:

"I could show a man of your sort an investment that would pay him a
hundred per cent. every month, if he were looking for a chance to make
money."

"Well, I am not looking for such a chance," said Gard, "but if one
should drop into my lap I might tie a string to it."

"Do you know anything about the opium business?" asked the smuggler.

"Not a thing," said Gard.

"Well, a can of opium can be bought for five dollars in Jamaica, and
sold for twenty-seven fifty in Philadelphia."

"That's a pretty good profit," said the special agent; "but a man would
have to get more than two or three boxes past for it to amount to
anything."

"If you had a trim little schooner and some one to show you how to get
her past the authorities, and she was loaded with opium to the gunwales,
you would not have to make a trip every other week to keep in cigarette
money, would you?"

"Obviously not," assented the capitalist.

"And you may have noticed all these idle Chinamen about Sing Foo's
place," continued the smuggler. "Somebody is going to get one hundred
and fifty dollars apiece for running those fellows into the States.
They are crossing in a steady stream and getting past. It is but around
the corner of Cuba and a hundred inlets inviting. Twenty of the Chinks
can live in a space as big as a dog's house, and they feed themselves.
It's clear profit. The little schooner could carry a score or so of them
every trip."

"It looks like a good proposition on paper," said Gard. "If it could be
demonstrated, it would easily get a backer. But the trouble with all
such schemes is that they are good on paper, but they can't be actually
shown upon the basis that a business man with money demands."

"But this one can be shown," urged the smuggler.

"That is the way you fellows with fancy schemes always talk," argued
Gard. "You can make all the money in the world if you only had the
backing. Then a man with the money comes along and says 'show me.' You
always fall down on the showing."

"Would you put up the price of a schooner and a cargo of opium if you
were shown that my scheme would work?" asked the smuggler.

"I would," said Gard. "But you must remember that I am a business man
who has made his stake by strictly business methods. I must be shown."

This was the first step toward the formation of a smuggling syndicate
that labored along in its preparation for birth and died tragically.

Gard here insisted on proving to Peterson his commercial reliability and
financial standing. He had long before prepared the papers for just such
an occasion. He had credentials, and letters of credit, and certificates
of deposit and bank books without end. The smuggler had had no idea of
the wealth of the man he had been cultivating. The backing was without
end, if he but won this man's confidence.

So he took the financier in tow, with the idea of first showing him the
source of supply of opium and of Chinamen. In the presence of Gard he
got quotations on opium from Sing Foo and from Fun Ken at five dollars
for a can the size of a pot of salmon. It was shown that there was opium
to be had practically without end.

And the Chinamen themselves! He was told that there were always five
hundred of them in Jamaica, ready to make the run into the States. When
these were gone there were as many more on the way. In fact, there was
all China to draw from. Every Chinaman who came was a member of an
association. That membership was to cost him six hundred dollars. He
need not pay in advance, as such men as Sing Foo stood back of the
association and furnished the capital. Whenever a Chinaman got into the
United States he went to work. He was able to earn at least twelve
dollars a week. Half of this went to the association, until the six
hundred dollar fee was paid. The association was willing to spend a
total of four hundred dollars to get a Chinaman into the country. Its
minimum profit was two hundred dollars a man. The stream flowed
constantly. Were not Sing Foo and Fun Ken the richest Chinamen in the
Caribbean?

The supposed financier declared himself satisfied of the abundance of
the supply of these objects for profitable smuggling. But he wanted to
see some of the money actually made. Whereupon Peterson and Flavot
agreed that he should have a complete demonstration.

There was then a Norwegian bark in port, and her captain had agreed to
take aboard twelve Orientals. He was bound for Norfolk. Peterson and
Flavot had made arrangements with him, and Sing Foo was ready with his
men. In the dead of night Gard accompanied the two Americans as they
pushed off the well-laden boats from the foot of a deserted street in
Kingston. He saw the men go aboard. He went deep into the bow of the
ship with them and saw them nailed up in a nook behind a wall that
seemed to be the end of the vessel. He saw a Chinaman who had come
aboard as the representative of Sing Foo pass the captain eighteen
American one hundred dollar bills. He went back to Chinatown with
Peterson and Flavot and saw them draw their bonus of fifty dollars for
each Chinaman that had thus been disposed of.

The capitalist declared himself convinced so far as the Chinamen were
concerned. How could he be shown profits in opium?

"Opium," said Peterson, "is the one sure way of making easy money. If
you are ready for a little run back to the States, I will show you all
the details."

The special agent assured the smuggler that he would be as pleased in
making a run back to the mainland as in loafing in the Hotel
Myrtlebank, if there were amusement in it and a chance to make some
money in an interesting way.

Two days later the three men were aboard a fruit and passenger steamer
at Port Antonio, bound for Philadelphia. Beneath the mattress of each
man's bunk were twenty cans of opium.

"All you have to do," elaborated the smuggler, "is to open up your
baggage for inspection as you approach the port. The inspectors go
through it, but never do such a thing as look beneath the mattress. When
they have gone you take the opium out from its hiding place and put it
into your baggage, which had already been inspected. Then it goes
ashore."

"But," insisted the special agent, "is not your stuff examined again on
the wharf?"

"This system would not work," Peterson explained, "if you were landing
at New York. There the baggage is examined in the staterooms and again
on the pier, as the passengers come ashore. But in Philadelphia there is
but the one examination, which takes place in the stateroom."

"But is there not a pretty good chance that the inspector may sometime
look under the mattress?" Gard asked.

"There is the barest possibility," assented the smuggler. "We have been
taking it in this way for years, and it has never been found. But if it
is discovered, we have but to look innocent. It cannot be proved that we
are responsible for its presence. It might be the steward."

The three came into Philadelphia, and passed the customs officials as
the smugglers had prophesied, without a hitch. They went to their hotel,
and there found themselves each the possessor of twenty cans of opium,
for which they had paid five dollars and for which, Peterson said, they
were to receive $27.50. This was the part of the transaction that was
yet to be demonstrated.

"We will do but a little business in Philadelphia," said Peterson, "just
to show that it can be done."

They took ten cans of the opium to a Chinaman in Arch street, with whom
Peterson was acquainted. Yes, this man would buy opium. The price for
the same grade was the same as before, $27.50. He could use all he could
get. He would be glad to take ten cans. The profit on these ten cans
was $225.

"We could have sold him a hundred cans as easily, with ten times the
profit," said Peterson.

In New York the smugglers called upon a Doctor Yen, in Pell Street, one
of the important men in Chinatown. He stated that he was able to buy
opium at $27.50. The smugglers insisted on $30. After much haggling 20
cans were sold at $28.50. Here was a profit of $470.

But Doctor Yen was to be counseled on a much more important matter. He
was to be told of the proposal to purchase a boat for the opium traffic.
He was to be asked to guarantee the purchase of large amounts of opium.

The old Chinaman became greatly excited. He ran to his safe and came
back with $10,000 in currency. He was willing to put up this money for
its value in opium at $27.50 a can as soon as delivered. When that was
gone there would be other money. He alone would make the owners of the
boat rich.

In Boston was the actual headquarters of Peterson and Flavot. A Jew by
the name of Ferren was their financial backer. It was Ferren who had
put them into the business. When Ferren was told of the proposed
enterprise he would not at first listen to it. He would have to be shown
that this Mr. Gard was on the level. There were too many eyes watching
for opium.

Peterson told of the credentials, and finally succeeded in convincing
him that Gard was what he purported to be and, gaining confidence as the
plan developed, the Jew finally became enthusiastic. In the end he vied
with Doctor Yen in his anxiety to purchase unlimited opium.

Gradually Gard granted that he was convinced of the feasibility of the
scheme, if he were shown the possibility of getting the schooner into
the States. It was at this point that he was introduced to one Captain
Bailey, who had, some years before, figured in a very sensational
attempt at the introduction of Chinamen from Canada and their landing at
New Haven. Bailey had been caught, had served a term in prison, and,
since his liberation, was running a fish stand in Boston market.

But Bailey knew all the coves in the Atlantic and the gulf into which a
boat might put. He knew every dock where she might tie up, and the time
that must pass thereafter before it would be safe to put his men
ashore. Operating from Jamaica there was none of the danger into which
he had run in bringing Orientals from Canada.

Eventually the papers were drawn, setting forth conditions under which
all these men entered into a partnership in this smuggling venture.
Gard, Ferren, Peterson, Flavot and Bailey had all signed, and Gard had
gone to New York to get the signature of Doctor Yen. The district
attorney's office in Boston was prepared for the arrests when the papers
should finally be signed. When Doctor Yen affixed his signature Gard
signaled an associate across the narrow street in Chinatown. He sent the
flash to Boston and the trap was sprung.

[Illustration: "WHEN DOCTOR YEN AFFIXED HIS SIGNATURE GARD
SIGNALLED"--_Page 135_]

So were all the inside facts of this most aggravating system of
smuggling revealed. With these facts in hand, the Government had little
difficulty in breaking up a system that had been causing a lot of
trouble for a decade.

So, also, was one of the most complete and successful cases of "roping"
that any of the Government agents had ever attempted carried to a
successful termination.



VII

A BANK CASE FROM THE OUTSIDE


"It is astonishing," said Gard, the bookkeeper, "how few people know
anything about their own business. Take bank accounts, for instance.
Many people have money in the bank which lies there inactive. There is
not one man in five, having such an account, who can tell the amount of
it."

This statement was launched during the evening meal at Mrs. Hudson's
very respectable boarding-house in the prosperous little town of New
Beaufort, which slumbers in one of the valleys of central New York.

"I must take issue with you there," ventured the elderly rector of the
Episcopal church who, being a widower, boarded with Mrs. Hudson. "I, for
instance, have managed to save a little money for old age and I can tell
the amount of it to a penny."

"And I know just how much I have on deposit," insisted Miss Dolan, the
school-teacher.

"And I am quite sure of mine," asserted a buxom widow who had collected
life insurance.

"As a test of my contention," said Gard, "I am willing to pledge a box
of candy to each of the ladies and cigars to the gentlemen who will set
down the exact amounts of their inactive accounts in the First National
bank and then prove their figures correct by application to the
cashier."

This proposal appealed to those who had been drawn into the incipient
controversy. Next day they asked for the figures, and each had won his
reward. Gard seemed chagrined that his theory should have thus gone to
the winds, but he cheerfully stood treat.

For he had established a fact very important to him. The inactive
accounts of the First National bank of New Beaufort were intact.

This was one of the first steps in an investigation of a financial
institution which, while seemingly in the best of condition, was
suspected of having been looted for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Special agents of the Department of Justice knew that an official of
the bank had been trading heavily in Wall Street and that he had lost.
Gard, a member of this new detective force of the Federal Government,
had been sent to investigate. Representing himself as a bookkeeper he
had secured a position with the leading grocer and had come to board
with Mrs. Hudson.

He stayed three months. At the end of that time he reported the
shortage, fixed the blame upon the man responsible for it, showed the
methods used, cited the accounts from which the money had been stolen,
told what accounts were still intact. Yet he had never been inside the
bank, had seen none of its books, had consulted with nobody familiar
with them, had received no confessions. The manner in which he
accomplished these seemingly impossible ends illustrates most
excellently the methods used by this new detective agency of the
Government.

It was a strange conspiracy of circumstances that brought to New
Beaufort detectives from three different services on the night, two
months later, that Conrad Compton, the enterprising citizen and banker,
was giving his big party.

There was McCord, a plain-clothes man from New York. McCord would not
have been in New Beaufort but for the ramifications of the New York
police department in keeping track of these middle class criminals who
live through the trade of burglary--a calling that is sometimes refined
to art. And the police department would not have come into possession of
a certain tip if "Speck" Thompson had not done his bit up the river and
returned to his old haunts so broken that he chose to become a stool
pigeon because he was no longer up to second story work.

Speck had found that "Dutch" Shroder had arranged to crack a safe and
that the scene of the cracking was New Beaufort. He had tipped the
matter off to the police, and hence McCord's presence in a community
that was far from metropolitan. He represented the first of the
detective services.

The second such service was represented by Ogram Newton, a bank examiner
in the service of the treasury department. His district was central New
York. For three years he had been taking an occasional look into the
books of the various national banks of his district, checking up assets
and liabilities, inquiring into the value of the paper held by the
banks. Two weeks before Conrad Compton gave his party Newton had been in
New Beaufort and had gone thoroughly into the affairs of the bank. Its
books were models of efficiency and there was no flaw to be found in any
of its securities or loans. Newton had given the institution his O. K.
and had passed on to other towns.

But there was a feeling of unrest that haunted the young examiner. It
seemed that his subconscious mind was aware of an oversight that had
been made by his working faculties. He was not able to sleep well of
nights, and in his sleep the various accounts of the New Beaufort bank
insisted on visualizing themselves. Finally the recurring accounts
eliminated themselves with the exception of one which persisted. The
loans and discounts account kept thrusting itself into his
consciousness.

"By Jove!" he exclaimed suddenly to himself. "The entries in that
account, the amounts of money that have been run through it, are out of
all proportion to the other business of the institution. Something is
wrong with loans and discounts."

So Newton hurried back to New Beaufort and was that night a guest at
the party given by Conrad Compton, with whom he had built up a
friendship through years of association in the line of his work. He was
to take a further look at the loans and discounts on the morrow.

The Department of Justice is the prosecutor in cases of violations of
the national banking law. Its work is entirely apart from that of the
bank examiners of the treasury department. The New York office of this
service, as a matter of daily routine, received the information that
David Lorance, assistant cashier of the First National bank of New
Beaufort, was regularly placing heavy buying and selling orders with a
certain broker in Wall Street.

For this reason, Agent Gard got the assignment to come to New Beaufort,
and was thus the representative of the third detective service. His
windows at the grocery store looked out upon the side door of the bank
opposite. He was bland and inconspicuous, but he was an expert
accountant, had taken a degree in the law and worked three nights a week
in the gymnasium in New York when he was in town.

The Compton home stood on a hill just back of the town. It was known as
Stone Crest and was the most ambitious establishment thereabouts, being
always pointed out with pride to visitors. The banker was a widower, but
given to entertainment and to charity. The members of the board of
aldermen often met at Stone Crest to discuss those matters that had to
do with the well-being of the town. Teas were given there whenever its
charitable women were inaugurating some new venture. The party to-night
was a semipublic affair, for it was in commemoration of a centennial
anniversary of that occasion when the first settlers had fought off
attacking Indians from their stockade through a day and night.

Conrad Compton was a tall, graceful, nervous man, with a high forehead
and a mass of wavy hair. His features were of a perfect regularity and
the whole face was so small as to give it somewhat the appearance of
that of a woman, an impression that was heightened by its absolute
pallor.

Ogram Newton, the bank examiner, watched his host narrowly as he
received his guests, as he directed their entertainment by a party of
professionals who had been brought up from New York for the occasion, as
the ices were served. He thought the banker was a bit paler than usual
and his natural nervousness seemed somewhat accentuated. Once during the
evening he had drifted into the library which happened to be empty of
guests, and had found the host peering out of a window that commanded a
view of the town.

"I trust you will pardon my preoccupation," said the banker, turning
again to his guests, "I seem to have a way of feeling lonesomest when I
have most company."

McCord, the plain-clothes man, had vacillated between his hotel, the
railway station, and those streets that gave views of the alleys leading
past the back ends of establishments that might contain safes worth
raffling. Occasionally his eye fell upon the lights in the house of the
banker on the hill, and wandered to the chief financial establishment of
the town. Yet all was so serene in this eddy of the world that the hour
of solitude that followed eleven o'clock seemed such an age that it
drove him to bed.

As the time drew on toward twelve there was no sign of life in the
village. The lights in the drug stores, the restaurants, the
delicatessens where ice cream is served to the small town lovers, had
one by one winked themselves out. The owl car of the trolley line that
ran through the village had deposited its last late revelers at
eleven-thirty. The swinging arc lights at the street intersections
occasionally sputtered fitfully and glared again. A dynamo whirred
distantly at the electric light plant.

Gard, the special agent of the Department of Justice, was one of the few
men in the town who was awake except those who had been guests of the
banker and who had lingered to an hour which was almost unprecedented in
New Beaufort. They would have gone home at eleven, but the banker
insisted that they remain for further entertainment on the part of his
New York musicians. One song called forth another and the quality of the
music proved so much more pleasing than that of their customary local
talent that they forgot the passing of time. The special agent sat on a
hill near the Compton home and smoked a pipe.

It was twelve o'clock before the party finally broke up. Those of the
townspeople who had come in their automobiles were being tucked into the
tonneaus, and those who had walked up the gray macadam drive were just
setting out on foot when the clatter as of a bunch of giant fire
crackers called their attention to the village below. From the bank
building was seen suddenly to burst a cloud of smoke while, a moment
later, a skylight was broken and a tongue of flame leaped forth.

"Fire! Fire!" came the shout from a dozen voices.

Gard had seen more than had the guests of the banker. As he smoked his
pipe and watched the village below, the lights in the windows of Stone
Crest, and the silent cottage of Lorance, the assistant cashier, he had
seen an automobile, with no lamp showing, creep through the quiet back
street, purr stealthily into the alley back of the bank and stop behind
a small building that shut off his view. Half an hour passed and the
darkened machine reappeared from behind the intervening building,
turning into the thoroughfare leading to the southeast and disappeared
in the distance at an ever increasing rate of speed.

When the exploding cartridges in the cashier's drawer at the bank gave
the first warning of the fire, the clamor of the alarm followed and
pandemonium broke out in the village. Of the dispersing group on the
hill, every one ran for a nearer view of the fire. The musicians, the
servants, the master of the house himself, all hurried into the village
to make part of the excitement that prevailed. Stone Crest, the lights
of its entertainment still glowing, was left deserted.

Gard, the special agent, again acted differently from his fellows by
failing to do the thing which others did. He crossed over from the hill
on which he had smoked and hastily entered the banker's house. Arriving,
he seemed to know exactly what he wanted. He hurried through the rooms
of the house, snapping on still more lights until he found that
apartment which seemed to be the personal retreat of the owner.

Here he evidently had business. Standing in the middle of the floor he
looked about. Thrown carelessly into a window seat he saw two heavy
books of the appearance of ledgers. These he secured and placed on a
table in the middle of the room without even examining them. Next he
began further exploration. When he found the banker's bedroom he seemed
satisfied. On the back of a chair was a coat, evidently that which
Compton had worn until he dressed for the evening. Gard thrust his hand
into the inside pocket of his coat and pulled out a batch of letters
through which he ran rapidly. He selected two or three, thrust them into
his pocket, returned for the ledgers, tucked these under his arm and
left the house.

On the way to his lodgings he filed a telegram to the department at
Washington which read as follows:


     Compton, cashier in First National bank case, guilty. Lorance
     probably not implicated. Bank burned to-night by accomplices of
     Compton. Case complete.

     GARD.


The manner in which these conclusions were reached are but typical of
the methods of the sleuths of the Department of Justice. Gard had come
to New Beaufort with but a suspicion that Lorance, the assistant
cashier, was playing the market on the funds of the bank. Lorance was
known to be placing orders with a Wall Street broker.

At the boarding house Gard learned that Lorance lived modestly in a
cottage with his wife and babies, had not been seen to make any display
of money, was of sturdy farmer stock. On the other hand the investigator
immediately picked up the facts that the cashier, Compton, maintained an
expensive establishment, entertained lavishly, was often absent from
town, was nervous, highstrung, in bad health.

All these facts led him to watch the cashier rather than his assistant.
They led him, also, to some experimental testing of the condition of the
bank's accounts. He knew that a dishonest employee of a bank, in
appropriating money, had to charge it to some account to make the books
balance. The large, inactive accounts offer a most tempting opportunity
of this sort; but these were found to be intact by his ruse of inducing
the depositors to call for their balances.

It was to get a better line on the business of the community, and
particularly upon the accounts of Compton, that the special agent
secured a position of bookkeeper in Joy's grocery store. Here he found,
in the first place, that the buying of the Compton home was profligate
and evidently wasteful. He found, further, that the bills were always
paid without question and by check. Knowing of an old trick that has
brought many a cashier to ruin, Gard sought a way to test these personal
checks to determine whether or not they actually found their way to the
personal account of the cashier.

The cashier of a bank is usually the individual who opens the mail, and
many of these have been known to cash personal checks and destroy them
when they came in for collection, charging the amount to some account
where it might temporarily be hidden. To determine whether or not these
personal checks were being juggled by the cashier Gard, as the grocer's
bookkeeper, found a pretext to send to the bank for a record of some
personal checks of Compton's which he had handled a few days earlier.
The call was made while Compton was out to lunch, and the checks could
not be found. Through another dealer Gard succeeded in getting a second
similar request made with the same results. He concluded that Compton
was at least juggling his personal account and charging the amount of
his personal checks to some other account, probably loans and discounts.

In various ways the special agent found opportunities, even without
seeing the books of the bank, of demonstrating to his satisfaction that
the accounts were being juggled. This was particularly true of new
deposits. When a cashier is particularly hard pressed he may resort to a
manipulation of the accounts of current depositors. The system is the
simplest in the world. When a depositor hands in his money, the cashier
enters the amount in the pass book of that individual as a receipt.
Then, instead of entering the money to the depositor's credit, the
cashier puts it into his pocket. Thus there is nothing to show for the
transaction but the entry in the pass book, and that may not be
presented for a long time. The cashier chooses for spoliation the
accounts about which inquiries are least likely to be made. As far as
the books of the bank are concerned they are as though the deposit had
never been made, and the bank examiner, therefore, has no way of
discovering the shortage.

Gard, through the store for which he worked, made several deposits, and,
upon one pretext and another, sent to the assistant cashier of the bank
for the record of them in the absence of Compton. They did not show on
the account of the grocery store and the matter was passed over as a
misunderstanding. But a second avenue of misappropriation thus was
discovered.

In this way the special agent was able from the outside to get very good
leads into the condition of the bank and to determine the manner of its
looting when the facts might not have been obtainable by an expert
working from the inside.

Gard's case was about completed and the Department was ready to act when
the dramatic denouement came. Arson, suicide and flight are the three
events most to be expected when the funds of a bank have been
misappropriated. The young special agent was watching for any of these
at the time of the anniversary party given by the banker. It was in
preparation for any of them that he watched so late on that occasion.

On the afternoon which preceded the entertainment Gard was working over
his books at the store and at the same time keeping an eye on the bank.
An hour after closing time at the bank he saw Compton come out of the
side door with two books of the institution under his arm. He could make
out that one was loans and discounts. He surmised that they might be
records that were to be destroyed--probably the books that showed his
guilt.

When from the hillside Gard that night saw the silent car stop back of
the bank and the flames subsequently break out, he knew what had
happened. These were accomplices of the cashier who had probably looted
the bank of any remaining funds and, according to agreement, had set it
on fire that the incriminating records of the cashier might be
destroyed. The wily cashier, however, had made sure that the books that
showed his guilt would not be found, in case the plan was not an entire
success. He had removed them himself, but had not as yet destroyed them
for he saw no probability of coming under immediate suspicion. Likewise
had he neglected to destroy certain correspondence that later connected
him with the parties found to have committed the arson.

The books taken from the banker's house were found to be the personal
ledger wherein should have been entered deposits, and the loans and
discounts ledger in which account Compton had entered the amounts
representing all his personal checks. This latter was the account that
had dwelt in the mind of Newton, the bank examiner. The letters that
Gard had found in the banker's pockets, though unsigned and mysteriously
phrased, were later traced to the Dutch Shroder gang. They proved a
great aid to McCord, the plain-clothes man, who had slept peacefully
through all the clamor incident to the burning of the bank, but who,
through them, was able to trace the burglars.

Compton went to pieces when confronted with the proof that his
derelictions had been found out. When his townspeople came to know the
facts on the following day, they stormed the jail and threatened to
lynch him. So determined was their onslaught that the sheriff spirited
the prisoner away. In desperation he confessed his crimes and exonerated
Lorance, the assistant cashier, who in playing the market had only
executed the orders of his superior. Compton lived but six months after
his conviction and sentence to ten years in the penitentiary at Atlanta.



VIII

BEHIND CUSTOMS SCREENS


The effrontery of this special agent, you would quite naturally
conclude, was ridiculous. You approve of the sort of courage that makes
a man willing to tackle almost any big task, but you also recognize the
limitations of the individual. David with his slingshot had an obvious
chance of success. If he could make a scratch shot and land on the coco
of Mr. Goliath he would win. But Special Agent Billy Gard sallied forth
nonchalantly against the whole army of Philistines, apparently without
even a slingshot.

The Philistines in this case were typified by the customs crowd of the
port of New York. That crowd was a ring within the administration of the
affairs of that greatest of gateways that had built up a system for
diverting a million of dollars a year from the pocket of Uncle Sam and
appropriating the money to itself. For twenty-five years the men of this
inner circle had steadily strengthened their positions, their hold upon
those in authority, their power to shake down importers. There is a
great influence to be wielded by a million dollars a year in the hands
of willing spenders.

The development of this condition of affairs was based primarily upon
the fact that positions in the customs service are dependent upon
politics. The men who built up the system of customs graft had secured
their appointments because they had political influence. They afterward
used that influence and put their easy money back of it. Their power
grew. It made it possible for them to dictate appointments more
important than their own, even to the collectorship itself. It made it
possible for them to bring about the removal of any smaller official who
seemed to stand in their way. Men not in the ring learned to wink at
many things that they saw. When an emissary of the crooked customs crowd
went to an importer, even where he was honest, it came to be known that
it was wise to listen to any proposal made. Thus did the machine gather
force.

Just one example of the workings of the system. An Italian named
Costello was an importer of cheese. He was a successful, enterprising
and honest merchant. One day he received a large shipment from Italy,
upon which he expected to pay a duty of $10,000. The cargo was unloaded
and weighed by the customs representatives. That night an emissary of
the ring called upon the Italian merchant. He showed the record of
weights for the cheese cargo. According to this record Costello would
have had to pay a duty of $5,000. It showed but half the weight in
cheese that had actually arrived.

"We save you $5,000," said the spokesman. "We expect you to divide the
profit."

"But I believe in dealing honestly with the Government," said Costello.
"I have always done so and I have prospered."

"My tip to you," said the go-between, "is to do as the weighers suggest.
They could as easily have charged you overweight as underweight.
Besides, you will save much money."

The importer, a foreigner, thus advised by representatives of the
Government of his adoption, took the tip and thereafter profited
through this official corruption and shared the duties thus saved.
Costello received most of his goods as part of what were known as
"Mediterranean cargoes," cheese, macaroni, olive oil. The Government was
afterward found to have been losing an average of $20,000 on each
Mediterranean cargo that came to port.

The case is typical. The representatives of the Government practically
forced the importers into these deceptions. The customs service and
commercial New York became permeated with this sort of fraud.

Henry L. Stimson was appointed United States district attorney in 1909
and determined to clean up these customs frauds. William Loeb, Jr., was
collector of the port, and of the same mind. The two men got their heads
together and considered ways and means. A big cleanup followed and in
bringing it about the work of Detective Billy Gard played a most
important part.

This young special agent was told to go out and master the detail of New
York customs, a service that was new to him, to come to understand them
so well that he could place his finger on the points where things were
going wrong, to pick out the men in the service who were corrupt, to
get his information in such form that it would be admissible in court as
evidence and so strong that it would insure convictions. He was to do
all this in the face of the unfriendliness of the service he was to
study, despite all the stumbling-blocks that would be put in his way, in
opposition to the dominant political machine of the port, in the face of
a lack of any special knowledge of the service. Young Gard accepted the
assignment with a grin.

"What are you doing on the customs cases?" District Attorney Stimson
asked three weeks later.

"Going to the baseball games," said Gard.

"I hadn't noticed any cargoes being unloaded out that way," said
Stimson. "How long have you been a fan?"

"Just a week," said the special agent. "Never attended a game before in
my life. I sit in the nice, warm sun of the bleachers to the right among
the fanatics. I have learned to keep a score card already."

And such were actually the facts. To solve the riddle of the customs
frauds Agent Gard was working hard at the task of becoming a baseball
fan.

Two weeks he had devoted to the docks. During the first of these weeks
he had gone from wharf to wharf and from man to man. He had asked many
questions which were but the common places that any individual who
wanted to get a smattering of the detail of such a business would have
asked. He was received tolerantly by the old heads of the customs crowd.
Many agents had been to the docks ahead of him and most of these had
been experts. If they began to get dangerous, political influence was
used in having them pulled off the job or money was used in having them
fail to report any wrongdoing. But this youngster who did not know the
simplest things about the customs service--he was hardly worthy of
notice.

But during that week Gard had not expected to become a customs expert.
His plan for getting results was founded on a different idea. He had
been hunting for a man who suited the purpose of his plan, and had found
him. This man was an Irishman by the name of O'Toole, who was one of the
weighers at a certain dock in Brooklyn. He had in the back of his head
all the facts that the special agent lacked. If he could be induced to
cooperate, the case might be worked out.

O'Toole was a man of fifty, and had been a weigher for eleven years.
Gard had learned many things about him. He had no family, his great
enthusiasm was baseball, and his weakness was a certainty of going to
the mat with John Barleycorn every third Saturday night. He was a
lonesome man, and sour and cynical.

"How long have you been on this investigation?" O'Toole asked Gard
before the conversation had gone far.

"Just this week," said the special agent.

"Have you found anything?" asked the weigher.

"Not yet," said the special agent.

"Well, if you want your job to last, don't," said the Irishman.

They discussed the general points in the business of weighing cargoes
and the work of the force having it in charge. But the special agent had
gathered the idea that O'Toole was not in sympathy with conditions, that
he was not a member of the inner circle. Yet an intelligent man serving
as weigher for eleven years would know secrets that would be of interest
to the Government, and O'Toole was embittered. He should be cultivated.

The days of the following week the special agent spent about the docks
dressed as a rough laboring man. The nights he spent in nearby saloons
with the acquaintances he had made during the day. The idea in this was
to determine what information the laborers were able to pick up and
whether they could be used as informers. Many of these were Irishmen, as
smart as the best of them, and pretty well aware of what was going on.
From the gossip of these men it was also possible to get many a flash on
the character of the men higher up. O'Toole they pronounced honest.

"They won't give him a chance to get on the inside," said one, "because
they are afraid he might talk when he is drunk."

"He wouldn't take dirty money, anyway," insisted another. "He is an
honest man."

The third week the special agent was devoting to the ball park, sitting
in the bleachers three seats back of O'Toole. He had determined that the
Irishman should tell him the story of the customs frauds from the
inside. He knew that, to get on a basis of sufficient good feeling to
bring this about, he must approach O'Toole on the most favorable basis
possible. Too much care could not be taken in laying the foundation for
his final proposal to the weigher. The man's love for baseball first
presented itself. The agent determined to become a fellow fan with him.
Thus should he come to know him better and under most favorable
circumstances.

On two occasions the special agent bowed to the weigher in leaving the
bleachers. He had thus got himself identified in that individual's mind
as a fellow fan. It was the end of the second week, however, before the
conditions developed that made just the opening that Gard wanted. The
situation worked itself out on Saturday afternoon. The game had gone
three innings when a flurry of rain threatened to bring it to a close.
Then there was a downpour. The people in the bleachers scurried for
shelter. There seemed little chance for the game being resumed, and most
of the bleacherites filed out under their umbrellas.

Some twenty enthusiastic fans held to their seats on the chance that the
game would go on. Among these were O'Toole and the special agent. Both
were drenched to the skin. Finally the umpire announced that the game
was called, and the stragglers turned homeward. As O'Toole started to go
he was greeted by Special Agent Gard.

"By jove," said the young man, "I believe you are a more enthusiastic
fan than I am."

"They shouldn't have called the game for a few drops of water,"
complained the saturated weigher. "But let us go some place and get a
drink."

Whereupon the two dripping fans found their way to a nearby barroom and
talked of club standings and batting averages while they warmed up with
copious drafts of red-eyed liquor.

"Boy," said the weigher, after the fourth drink, "have you got a
family?"

"No," answered Gard. "I am not married."

"Go get married," urged the older man. "When you begin to get old and
have only a solitary room to which to go and no children nor
grandchildren to give you an interest in the world, there is nothing to
live for. You perform your small duties with a great void in the back
of your mind. There is no stage setting that makes the petty play seem
worth while. The only relief is an occasional Saturday night when you
forget."

The special agent began to realize that the weigher was starting on his
tri-weekly fling. It also began to be evident that he was of the order
of inebriates who indulge in a debauch of self-pity as an accompaniment
to their liquor.

"It always seemed to me," said the special agent, "that a man could
become so absorbed in his work that it would fill his whole life.
Particularly should this be true when he has a task so important as
yours."

"Mother of Mary!" exclaimed the Irishman. "Become absorbed in watching a
bunch of thieves always at work? Would you like to spend your declining
years in sitting idly by and watching your employer and benefactor
robbed?"

"Why do this?" said Gard. "Why not lay the whole thing before the right
authority and do a worth-while piece of work in cleaning up the
service?"

"Yes, and be broken and thrown into the discard to starve," was the
reply. "I have seen too many of them go up against the gang. None of it
for O'Toole.

"Just one tip I will give you," said the weigher after hearing the
special agent's argument in favor of lending his aid to showing up the
frauds. "If you will examine the records of Mediterranean cargoes you
will find that, during the past ten years, such cargoes have regularly
been about twice as heavy when handled by certain weighers as when
handled by others. The men whose records show these cargoes always light
are the crooks. Those who show them heavy are honest. The solution is
merely a matter of mathematics."

With this semiconfidence the agent contented himself. He continued to go
to the baseball games, but met O'Toole only casually. In the meantime
the records of weighers were being examined. In a week the figures were
complete. They showed these men divided into two groups that were far
apart with relation to the weights of cargoes. The group that weighed
light was the larger.

A few days later Gard saw O'Toole after a ball game. He told the weigher
that District Attorney Stimson wanted to see him that night at the
Federal building, that the district attorney was under great obligations
to him for the tip to examine weigher's records and wanted to thank him.

"O'Toole," said the district attorney that night, "this is a time when
the Government needs the aid of honest men. We know that men who would
clean up customs graft have, in the past, come to grief. But this is not
now true. I have taken up your case with the Secretary of the Treasury
himself. That official asks me to inform you that, in case you aid us in
cleaning up this situation, your place will not only be made secure but
that you should figure that the service will be remembered in the light
of your future interests. We know that your record is clean. We want
your help. Are you with us?"

Agent Gard had selected the right man. O'Toole, at first timid in his
fear of the ring, became an enthusiast over the task of weeding out the
graft. The dominance of local politicians had no terrors for him with
Washington at his back. The value of all he had learned in eleven years
at the scales was made to supplement the lack of customs experience on
the part of the special agent. His acquaintance with the customs force
in the port made his information invaluable. So enthusiastic did he
become that he missed three ball games in succession and went past four
Saturday nights without his customary tussle with the spirits that bring
forgetfulness.

O'Toole confirmed much of the list of short-weight employees that had
been made up. Of the derelictions of many of these he had personal
knowledge. With their methods he was entirely familiar and was able to
point the way toward the establishing of guilt so it would be admissible
as evidence and would secure convictions.

That an individual weigher may report short weights it is necessary that
his associate at the scales, a checker, should share in his deceptions,
for the checker is a witness of the record of the scales. In the
celebrated short weight cases of the sugar scandals, the checker had a
steel spring like a corset stay that he thrust into the mechanism of the
scale and retarded it, thus resulting in a showing of short weight. But
in the case of the Mediterranean cargoes the fraud was less disguised.
The scales were allowed to record the proper weight, but the weigher
and the checker, in collusion, divided the figure by two in setting it
down. The system was both simple and effective. It worked for
twenty-five years.

Gard consulted with O'Toole upon the advisability of using workmen about
the docks as informers. The weigher thought this could be done and knew
a number of men who might be so used. A laborer, for instance, working
about the scales, was able to see the amount that the beam registered at
given times. He could easily remember the big numbers, those that
represented the thousands of pounds, until he had a chance to set them
down. He could thus get a rough record of the weighing of a given half
day. This could afterward be compared with the figures of the weigher. A
pretty close check could thus be put on the given suspects.

By such methods fairly clear cases were obtained against given weighers
and checkers. After much information was gathered certain guilty men
would be selected who would be given chances to tell all about their
knowledge of the frauds. These men would be given immunity. Thus would a
few of the guilty escape punishment; but thus, also, would the
Government learn all the details of the frauds that it might be able to
provide effectually against them.

Special agents were set to watch every suspect, to learn his manner of
life, how he spent his money, whether he could be trapped on the
outside. When the Government needed the confession of a given man he
would be called upon and talked to in some such manner as this:

"You, as checker, worked with Weigher Smith on a given cargo. The
weights shown by the scales Smith divided by two and you passed them.
That night a messenger was sent to Costello with a statement of the
short weight he had passed. Costello paid half the duty on this short
weight. You and the weigher split on the basis of forty, sixty.

"We know of a score of offenses equally glaring on your part. The
Government needs you as a witness. Under the circumstances do you not
think it would be advisable for you to go with me to the district
attorney and make a complete statement of all you know about customs
frauds?"

The man that the Government wanted usually came through with all he
knew. So were the cases made absolute and so were all the methods of
graft revealed. Eleven weighers and checkers were convicted and sent to
the penitentiary. Many hundreds of thousands of dollars in duties that
had been avoided were assessed against and paid by importers. The
Government was lenient with most of these because of its chagrin over
the part played by its representatives and because the initiative in the
offending had usually been taken by Government agents.

Altogether the cleaning up of the customs scandals in the port of New
York was a most complicated task. The work of Special Agent Gard is but
a fragment of it, but was vastly important and decidedly typical of the
problem in hand and its solution.



IX

WITH THE REVOLUTION MAKERS


The Isla Dolorosa is in the Rio Grande River a few miles below El Paso.
It is Mexican territory and is owned by an aged ranchman named Jose
Encino. If one should start a camp fire anywhere on the island he would
be running a monstrous risk, for so great is the quantity of ammunition
that has been smuggled thus far on its way to revolutionary war and
buried, that any such fire might cause a huge explosion.

It was in the moonshine of a clear November night in 1911 that a boat
drifted down the Rio Grande from the American side, pulled up among the
cattails of the north shore of the island and was beached beneath a
great cottonwood tree that stood out against the sky as a landmark. Two
men stepped ashore and waited in the shadows. Fifteen minutes later two
riders splashed into the water from the Mexican side, floundered
through the stream that but came to the stirrups, and pointed the noses
of their horses for the same huge tree. Nearing it they halted.

"Reyes," said a voice from the darkness.

"Gomez," responded a rider.

The test of this interchange seemed to have been satisfactory for a
small, dark man emerged from the shadow of the cottonwood and helped the
riders to dismount. One of these later proved to be a woman who was
treated with great courtesy by the small man. When the horses were tied
the four seated themselves beneath the tree in a spot where the
underbrush shut out the world. From the fitful light of an occasional
match that served to light the eternal cigarettes of these Mexicans, an
observer, if it had been possible for one to have looked on, might have
studied four interesting faces.

The bearer of news and evidently the leader of the party was the small,
dark man already mentioned. As it afterward developed he was Dr. Rafael
Flores of El Paso. Doctor Flores, as the flicker of a match revealed,
was a man of some sixty years of age, a thin, wiry individual with
refined and almost classic features. He was a practising physician, a
citizen of means and repute in the border city. The man who had come
with him in the boat was named Comacho. He was short, square built,
deeply pock-marked. He was notorious along the border, particularly in
Lower California. He was an anarchist and an expert with explosives and
was suspected of having been connected with many dire deeds.

The man who came on horseback was huge and heavy and wore always a red
flannel shirt. He it was who had led the assault on Juarez when the
troops of Francisco Villa had captured that city early in the Madero
campaign. He it was who inflicted some of the early atrocities upon
prisoners, who plied the torch and who had to be discouraged in his
activities by even his bandit associates. "Red Shirt" Pena he had since
been called. His specialty was smuggling fire arms over the border. He
had sixty loyal followers in the vicinity of El Carmen.

And the woman! Señorita Josefa Calderon was the name by which she was
known. She was from the interior, was something of a mystery never
entirely understood, but the current belief was that she was a sister of
General Orozco. That uncontrolled chief of rebels was even then
stationed at Juarez in command of Madero troops and was vacillating
between allegiance to the new president and the leading of a revolt
against him. Señorita Calderon, veiled, dark-eyed, slim as a cactus, was
thought to be his messenger.

"There is news," said Doctor Flores, as soon as the party had settled
itself. "General Reyes is in San Antonio. He arrived at New Orleans a
week ago, came on to San Antonio where he was given a great
demonstration. He has opened revolutionary headquarters there and every
mail brings letters and every train brings messengers assuring him of
support in overthrowing Madero. He has arranged for money to finance the
movement. The friends of Emilio Vasquez Gomez are busily at work along
the border. The American financial interests in Mexico are back of us.
We are to open headquarters in El Paso and begin the active organization
of our forces."

"But the money," said "Red Shirt" Pena. "We can do nothing until we
have money with which to buy ammunition."

"The money," assured the doctor, "is to be immediately forthcoming. In
that connection I have a mission for the Señorita Calderon. She is to go
immediately to San Antonio to report to the chief and to get the money."

"When the money arrives," said Comacho, the anarchist, "all things will
be possible. There is dynamite cached at Newman and more at Alamagordo.
Ramon Sanchez has other stores of it at Phoenix. We can start action at
half a dozen points and wake every dozing peon in Mexico. But provide
the money, doctor, and I will guarantee to wake up two nations. There is
little question of getting results either through the overthrow of
Madero or intervention by the United States."

"Likewise will the arms begin to cross the river as soon as they may be
bought," volunteered Pena. "I have many men ready to travel back and
forth and each will carry a gun and a box of cartridges each trip."

"And the señorita?" asked Doctor Flores. "Can she go for us to San
Antonio?"

"As the señor wishes," said that young woman. "But where shall I report
on my return?"

"Back of my residence," said the doctor, "there is a small building
opening into the alley. There are no windows. We will meet there."

After a long discussion of the details of the organization of the junta,
this first gathering of the arch-conspirators broke up.

It was a week after this meeting in the Rio Grande that Archie Dobbs,
special agent of the Department of Justice, assigned particularly to the
Mexican border to look after violations of the neutrality laws, began to
notice the frequency with which groups of Mexicans were to be seen
engaged in earnest conversation in the streets of El Paso. About the
Orndorff hotel there were in evidence groups of wealthy appearing
grandees, such as own great ranches beyond the border. Idling about the
Mexican saloons were many big-hatted vaqueros, such as make up the
armies of any revolutionary movement when trouble starts across the
line.

Dobbs went to see Juan Ortego. This young son of Chihuahua was one of
the dependable men of Madero. Ortego was a member of the personal
secret service of the new president and his station at El Paso was
regarded as important as an outpost of trouble for the government.

"What is in the air?" asked the American special agent of Ortego.

"Revolution," said the Mexican.

"Whom have they got?"

"Reyes, Gomez, probably Orozco, possibly Villa," said Ortego.

"Have you got an informer among them?" Dobbs asked.

"No, I have failed in that respect," was the answer.

"Who is the one military leader that Madero can trust?" Dobbs wanted to
know.

The Mexican secret service man recommended General Herrera at Chihuahua.
He also stated that Doctor Flores was the Reyes representative at El
Paso.

Archie Dobbs acted at once. The Department of Justice has its special
agents who will fit into almost any condition that is likely to arise.
Billy Gard, for instance, had been assigned to this work on the Mexican
border because of his knowledge of Spanish. As he was growing up his
father had served for many years in the consular service and Billy had
become as a native of the Latin countries. It had been his pride as a
lad to assume every characteristic of the land to which his father was
assigned and it was probably this dissembling that led him into the
detective game. With a bit of a Mexican touch to his wearing apparel and
a covering of alkali dust he now became a typical son of the land of the
south.

Such was the appearance presented by Gard when, two days after the talk
between the secret service men of two nations, he came into El Paso from
the South. He bore credentials from General Herrera which it had been
possible for him to get through Madero's secret service man, Juan
Ortego. He appeared much worn and dust-covered when he began a search of
El Paso for Doctor Flores. Having found that gentleman in consultation
with a party of ranch owners at the Orndorff hotel, he presented himself
and asked for a word in private with the junta chief.

"I am from General Herrera," said Gard. "I bring to you his greetings
and these credentials which will assure you that you may treat with me
in confidence. He bids me say that he holds General Reyes in a
deferential respect which he gives to no other living Mexican. He awaits
an opportunity to cooperate with you."

This news was, to Flores, the best he had heard since he organized the
junta. He was a visionary enthusiast such as would accept such a
declaration without further confirmation. Assurances had come from many
sources of support to Reyes who, in reality, occupied an enviable
position in the hearts of the Mexican people. But Herrera, the Madero
general, who had been regarded as firmly against them! His coming over
was too good to believe. The doctor embraced the young man, according to
the Mexican custom, and kissed him first on one cheek and then on the
other.

Thus did a special agent of the United States become a member of a
Mexican revolutionary junta.

Through Gard the Department of Justice soon had all the particulars of
the Reyes revolution as far as they were known to the El Paso junta. It
knew that the aged general had been promised support from many sources,
that he had been provided with considerable sums of money, that arms
had been bought in hundred lots from dealers all along the border, that
these were being doled out to individuals who were to cross over the
border at a given time and form the nucleus of the revolution. In El
Paso some two hundred men had already been thus provided. These men were
being maintained at boarding houses about town and were being handed
regularly small sums of money. Gard met every day with the members of
the junta and talked over the details of these matters.

In the little building which had no windows and which stood back of
Doctor Flores' house, Gard also met the individuals who were the
firebrands of the revolution. "Red Shirt" Pena was always there and was
steadily engaged in smuggling ammunition across the border. The
pock-marked anarchist, Comacho, was maturing his spectacular plans.
Señorita Josefa Calderon, slim as a cactus, came now and then, with a
message from Reyes or Orozco. Often she brought large sums of money.
Gard once accompanied her to Juarez and used all his charms in an effort
to develop a love affair with her, but in vain. He afterward learned
that she was mourning a sweetheart who had died in fighting Madero and
was devoting herself to this cause in hope of revenge.

Toward the end of December the plans for the revolution grew near
maturity. General Reyes was to slip out of San Antonio and across the
Rio Grande where he was to pick up his recruits enlisted on the American
side and those on the Mexican side who had promised to join with him. At
the psychological moment Pena of the red shirt, and Comacho, the
anarchist, were to put on performances so spectacular as to attract the
attention of the world.

Comacho had his dynamiting plans well developed. Personally he intended
to place a bomb under the international bridge at El Paso. An associate
was to perform the same service with relation to the American customs
house at Nogales, and the consulate at Laredo was to be blown up.

While Comacho was performing these outrages, "Red Shirt" Pena was to be
busied in the fine art of murder. The sheriff of El Paso, Juan Ortego,
and Archie Dobbs were the men against whom the capacities of Pena as a
killer were to be directed. But failing these he was to run amuck and do
whatever damage he could. Any representative of the American army, any
Madero official, was to be regarded as a fair mark. The object was to at
least create a great sensation to advertise the new revolution, and
possibly to bring about intervention. At any rate the border should be
awakened.

With all this information in hand the United States authorities were
ready to act. They wanted, however, to time their coup in such a way as
to have the most discouraging effect possible upon the revolutionists.
With this idea in mind they postponed making arrests until the last
moment.

The revolutionists were to be taken into custody by Captain Hughes of
the Texas Rangers. There were some fifteen of the active plotters that
should be arrested and the Ranger force was the best fitted agency on
the border to cope with these. Every man was known to the Rangers and
all were being kept pretty well located.

The manner of making these arrests was peculiar to this cowboy police of
the Southwest. The plan was that, when the time to strike should come,
operations should begin at the little building without windows where the
ringleaders of the revolutionists gathered. These should be arrested,
none being allowed to escape and give the alarm. They should all be put
into a wagon, inclosed with white canvas, such as is common in the
Southwest and which would attract no attention in passing through the
streets. This wagon, with two or three Rangers aboard and others riding
carelessly near it, should then drive about El Paso, picking up a man
here and another there until all those wanted were under the white
canvas. So was it planned that a clean sweep of the revolutionists
should be made in a manner of raid that might seem queer to those
accustomed to the methods of metropolitan police but which was intended
to accomplish its purpose.

But as far as Billy Gard was concerned, the raid came near coming too
late. The position of Gard, the American special agent, in revolution
headquarters as a Mexican conspirator, was never one of especial
security. There was the danger of his identity being found out, which
would not only spoil his case but might result in personal violence
being done him, as his associates were not men to trifle with. There was
the difficulty of getting his information to Archie Dobbs and thence to
the department at Washington without his connection being discovered.
Finally there was his part to be played in the arrests.

Eventually the time came to strike. General Reyes had disappeared from
San Antonio and was believed to be fleeing for the Mexican border. The
order was issued from Washington to intercept and arrest any of the
Reyes party that might be found at any border points. The trap was to be
sprung at El Paso.

On that morning, December 22, 1911, Billy Gard reported at the
windowless building at ten o'clock. Doctor Flores was there and was soon
joined by Comacho, the dynamiter. Presently a ranchman from Sonora was
admitted. Señorita Calderon was expected from San Antonio with
additional funds, and Pena and other moving spirits were to drop in.

"Is there any news from General Herrera?" Doctor Flores asked Gard.

That young man reported that the Herrera troops would go over to General
Reyes as soon as his forces started into the interior.

"And is señor, the dynamiter, ready to perform his service to the cause
of liberty?" asked the doctor of Comacho.

"The noise we will make will be heard from Tia Juana to Brownsville,"
responded that inflammatory and enthusiastic individual.

"Pena is now on the street ready to strike," stated the leader. "This
afternoon Reyes will cross the Rio Grande and, pish! the powder will be
ignited."

At this moment a careful knock was heard at the one entrance to the
rendezvous, and the doctor, who always sat with his back against this
door, opened it an inch. He recognized the man outside and welcomed him.
He ushered him inside and began his presentation to those already
assembled. He was a revolutionist from Los Angeles who had but just
arrived.

The entrance of the visitor would have been of no great importance to
the detective but for one fact--he was from Los Angeles. Gard had done
much work in Los Angeles and a few of the members of the revolutionary
junta there had learned his identity. The visitor was one of that few.
If Gard were recognized he would be exposed and in this desperate
company would be in a delicate position.

The light in the windowless building was very dim and the stranger had
come in from the sunlight. His eyes were not adjusted to the darkened
apartment and he therefore did not recognize the special agent when
presented to him. Appreciating the reason for this lack of recognition,
Gard made an excuse for going out and approached the door. Flores again
sat with his back against it. When the young man gave his excuse for
wanting to go the doctor waved him aside and stated that he desired that
he should hear the report of the man from Los Angeles. Gard dared insist
only to a reasonable extent. Doctor Flores would not hear of his
departure. Quietly he settled into the remotest and darkest corner.

The man from Los Angeles began to tell of the part he had played in
lighting the fuse that was about to start a revolution. His remarks were
addressed to Doctor Flores and to Comacho, the dynamiter, an associate
of his. The man in the corner was given little attention. But as the
talker's vision became adjusted to the darkened room, he turned his
glance occasionally in the direction of the special agent.

That young man sat as one hypnotized with the possibilities of the
situation. He felt very sure that, as time passed, the visitor's
eyesight would adjust itself and he would be recognized. His mind ran
ahead and saw the scene that would then be precipitated. The thrill of
it held him taut, ready for any emergency.

It was the third time that the eye of the visitor passed him that it
lingered a moment questioningly, and passed on. He looked at the
dynamiter during a long explanation of some detail of bomb making before
his glance again returned to Gard. By this time his eyesight had become
entirely readjusted.

He started forward, mouth agape. He sprang to his feet. He pointed an
accusing finger at the special agent and fairly screamed: "By the Holy
Virgin, a spy, a traitor! He is an agent of the perfidious United
States. He is a detective, an informer. I knew him in Los Angeles. He
peeped into our windows and stole our papers. He has already betrayed
you and the cause."

A vile oath was ripped from the throat of the pock-marked dynamiter.
The Mexican ranchman stood agape. The nervous little doctor sprang to
his feet and started as if to spring at the throat of the special agent.
But as he advanced he found himself looking into the muzzle of a big
American pistol. He recoiled.

"Don't make a great mistake," said Gard. "What this man says may be true
and it may not. Granting that it is true I am then in the best position
right now I could hope to be in. If one of you advances a step toward me
I will fire. None of you dare fire upon me, as the shots that would
follow would expose you. Now sit tight and talk business. What do you
propose to do about it?"

[Illustration: "'IF ONE OF YOU ADVANCES A STEP TOWARD ME I WILL
FIRE'"--_Page 188_]

"Gringo pig of a spy, you shall die and be fed to the buzzards!" hissed
the dynamiter.

"Mother of Mary, we have been betrayed!" almost sobbed the little
doctor.

"It may not be as bad as it seems," argued Gard, talking against time.
"The four of you should be able to get me if you insist on shooting it
out. I will get one or two of you, however, and the police will get the
rest. I would suggest that it would be wiser for you to let me back
slowly out of that door and that you all beat it for Mexico."

The little doctor stiffened stubbornly against the one exit, but before
his proposition could be seriously considered there came a loud rapping
at the door. The noise of it sounded as though it were made with the
butt of a revolver. The Mexicans present stood transfixed with fear. The
knocking was repeated with greater vigor. Then a drawling Texas voice
sang out:

"Oh, you greasers, lift the latch. This ain't no way to treat visitors."

"Break it in, Captain," called out Gard, who recognized the voice of the
Ranger chief. "This bunch is half captured already."

Then came the creaking of door hinges as though a great weight was being
thrown against them and, finally, a mighty crash. As the door came in
nothing could be seen but the blank side of a thick cotton mattress. Few
other things will stop bullets like a cotton mattress and it is
therefore an excellent breastwork in an attack which is likely to be met
by bullets fired through a door. This was not the first time such an
object had been used in Ranger strategy.

Presently the head of a Ranger peered cautiously around the mattress
and a request for a parley was made. The Mexicans decided upon
discretion and surrendered without a fight. Gard was thus relieved of a
very delicate situation.

The four prisoners from the windowless house were loaded into the
white-topped wagon. It moved on unostentatiously to other parts of the
city and around it the Ranger dragnet tightened. "Red Shirt" Pena was
found in the act of boarding a street car to cross the bridge into
Juarez. He made fight but a Ranger floored him with a blow from a big
forty-five six-shooter. In two hours fifteen of the ringleaders of the
El Paso revolutionists were behind prison bars and any expedition that
might have been launched in this vicinity was leaderless.

At Brownsville a similar dragnet had operated at about the same time.
General Reyes himself succeeded in getting across into Mexico. But the
leaders from the American side had been discouraged and failed to follow
him even where they were not under arrest. The Mexicans did not rally to
the aged general's cause after he entered his native land, as had been
expected. Discouraged and heartbroken he surrendered to the Madero
authorities a few days later at the little town of Linares, and his
revolution was at an end.



X

THE ELUSIVE FUGITIVE


When one individual in a great world goes forth secretively to hide
himself and a second man starts forth to find him, it would appear that
all the advantage was with the fugitive. Particularly would this seem to
be the case when the man in flight is of a high degree of intelligence
and is thoroughly informed as to the methods that will be employed in
the pursuit.

Yet the detective who knows his business and who sticks to the trail
month after month nearly always turns up his man. He may do this by
following out, one after another, the probabilities in the case. There
is almost no man who will refrain from performing some one of those
everyday actions that it is but natural he should take. There is almost
no man who will flee without leaving a trail behind himself. If he is
the criminal genius who succeeds in doing all these things, there is
the element of chance that will turn up some bit of information which
will put the vigilant sleuth on his track. For there are many pulses
upon which the detective finger may rest long after the criminal gets to
feel so secure as to become careless. Particularly is this true of the
sleuths of the Federal Government, whose instructions are never to
abandon the pursuit of an escaped criminal.

There is the case of Alexander Berliner, for instance. He was a prince
of frauds, a man of exceptional ability, a cosmopolitan, one who knew
detective methods, a man with money. He had a month the start of Billy
Gard of the Federal Department of Justice. He knew that the special
agent was after him. He appreciated the danger of a long term in prison
if he were caught.

Would you think, under the circumstances, that the detective in the case
could make sufficient splash among the tides of humanity that surge
around a great world to disturb the tranquillity of Berliner? Let us see
how the case developed.

Gard had the advantage of having got "a spot" on Berliner. That is to
say, he had seen him. Berliner was a customs broker. His business was
to act as agent for American purchasers and European dealers. He knew
his Europe and he knew New York. The details of customs regulations and
duties to be paid were an open book to him. He spoke many languages and
had customers among the wealthiest people in America.

It was when a mere suspicion arose as to the fidelity with which he was
paying his duties that Billy Gard, on some pretext, went to see him. A
large, upstanding, white-haired man he was--unusually handsome and
dominant.

"May I ask," said Gard, "if you think table linens of good quality could
be procured from Ireland within six weeks? My sister is opening an
establishment at that time and is not satisfied with the offerings
here."

"Who is your sister?" asked Berliner, rather more directly than a
customer would expect to be questioned by a broker.

"Mrs. Jonathan Moulton," said the special agent glibly, giving the name
of a woman friend. "She lives in Seventy-second Street."

"Do you mind if I call her for a confirmation of your inquiry?" said
the broker, still noncommittal.

"Such a request is not usually addressed to a prospective customer,"
said Gard, appearing a bit nettled, "but I have no objection whatever."

As a matter of fact the special agent was very much disconcerted. He had
foreseen the possibility of having to use the name of some individual
who might afterward be called upon to verify the genuineness of his
interest in linens. Mrs. Moulton was a good friend who would be entirely
willing to help him in a little deception of this sort, but he had not
as yet coached her as to the part she might be called upon to play. He
had thought there would be plenty of time later if it became necessary
to identify the supposed customer. But Berliner was evidently suspicious
of bright young men who called upon him. He evidently knew that he was
under investigation. Gard's particular hope, if the broker insisted on
calling his alleged sister, was that he would find that she was not at
home.

But luck was not with him. Mrs. Moulton herself answered the telephone.

"May I ask," said the broker, "if you will give me the name of the
young man whom you have commissioned to buy linens for you?"

The manner in which the question was put, Gard realized, gave Mrs.
Moulton no intimation of the situation. He knew she was sufficiently
clever to be entirely noncommittal if the broker mentioned his name. But
Berliner was too shrewd for this.

"You have authorized no one to buy for you?" the broker was saying. "You
are not in the market for linens at all? I see. There must have been
some mistake."

Berliner turned to his caller.

"Young Mr. Detective," he said, urbanely, "your work is a bit
amateurish. May I present you with your hat? I trust there will be no
occasion for our acquaintance to develop further."

The case against Berliner did not come to a crisis immediately. It was
two months later that the customs agents reported that he was gone and
that they had evidence that he had long resorted to undervaluing the
imports of his clients. By getting an article through the customs house
at less than its value, he would defraud the Government of just the
difference between the amount paid and the amount that should have been
paid. But this money was not saved for his customer. That individual was
charged the full amount due and the broker pocketed the difference.
There was evidence that the Government had lost $100,000 through these
operations.

Because Gard had seen the customs broker he was assigned to the capture
of the fugitive. He set about the task methodically.

The special agent diligently searched out every one of Berliner's
intimates. There was a wife and brother to begin with. It is the A, B, C
of fugitive catching that every man will communicate with some one of
his relatives or intimates. It is not human nature to break off every
tie. Against the possibility of this fugitive writing Gard established a
close watch over the mail of each of the fugitive's relatives and close
friends. The postman who delivered mail to each was given samples of
Berliner's handwriting, was instructed to report the arrival of any
letter that might be suspected of coming from him, to have tracings
made of its envelope, to note its postmark, before it was delivered.

But a month passed and no suspicious letter arrived.

In the meantime every possibility of getting directly on the trail was
exhausted. Even in a great city like New York it is difficult for
anybody to take a train without having fixed the attention of somebody
else. An expressman must be called to get a truck to the station. A
taxicab may be used. Servants are aware of a departure. Tickets must be
bought. Conductors on trains must take up those tickets.

It is a tedious task to interview innumerable expressmen and ask each if
he had had a summons from a certain apartment. The taxicab records of
calls are equally confusing, but each may be traced to a driver and that
individual may be questioned. Every ticket seller in a city may be seen
in a day or two, the photograph of the man wanted may be shown and a
recollection of him developed. If the fugitive is of striking
appearance, as was Berliner, the chances of his being remembered are
increased. If the trail is once crossed the going is easier.

Yet all these and many other devices failed in this case, and chance
first pointed the way. The goddess of coincidence made her appearance in
a modest motion picture theater where Gard and a friend were killing a
bit of time. Among the reels shown was one which portrayed a visit of
the President to New York. It began with the arrival at the station,
among throngs of people.

"By the Lord Harry!" suddenly exclaimed the special agent. "Would you
pipe that gray-haired gent in the foreground. I have been looking for
him for a month."

It was Berliner. He had chosen the moment when the station was most
crowded to make his getaway. Oblivious to the presence of the motion
picture operator, he had stopped for a moment to say good-by to another
man, his brother, as Gard thought. The two had spoken a few words and
parted.

"I wonder," soliloquized Gard, "what those two men said to each other."

Then he thought of Jane Gates, the Lily Maid, the deaf copyist at
headquarters, the cameo-faced girl, best loved of the special agents.

"The Lily Maid might read the lips of those unconscious motion picture
actors," he thought. "They are right out in front."

So it happened that the deaf typist got a half-holiday and she and Gard
spent it at the picture show, where her lack of the sense of hearing in
no way detracted from her enjoyment.

The scene at the station came on. Gard pointed out the two men in the
foreground, who, fortunately, were facing the machine. The deaf girl
picked their words from their lips and repeated them in the hollow tones
of those who have learned to talk without hearing.

"Send Margaret to London in three months," the customs broker was
saying. "I shall not write."

"But how shall we know of your whereabouts?" the brother asked.

"You will not know. I take no chances," was the answer.

"But where are you going?"

"First to Montreal, eventually to Europe. There I will hide and live in
peace."

This much of the talk of the brothers was definitely made out. A return
for three performances thoroughly confirmed the conversation.

"You are the best detective on the force," Gard told the deaf girl with
his lips, thereby making her very happy, for she was full of the
enthusiasm of the service.

"But more remarkable than this," he continued, watching for the flush of
pink which such sallies always drew to her cheeks, "is that the best
detective in the great city should, at the same time, be its very
prettiest girl."

The next day the special agent was on the cold trail in Montreal. The
fact that a fugitive must eat and sleep is a great help to a detective.
All the hotels in a city may be canvassed and are likely to yield
results. It was at a little family hostelry in the suburbs that a
gray-haired man of distinction had passed a week. He had been gone nine
days. Yes, he had a trunk. The porter knew that it had gone to a certain
station. The ticket agent thought he remembered selling the man whose
picture was shown him a ticket to Chicago. Dave White was the conductor
on the train to that point on the day in question and remembered the
gray-haired man.

In Chicago the trail grew warmer. The fugitive had been at the
Auditorium but four days earlier, but the porters were unable to recall
any of the details of his going away. The special agent asked to see the
room Berliner had occupied. It was taken by another guest, but Gard was
allowed to explain himself to the successor of the fugitive and was
given permission to search the room. A close examination of it developed
but one clue. Sticking inside a waste basket were three fragments of a
letterhead that had been torn into small pieces. One of these fragments
showed part of the picture of another hotel. An arrow, drawn in ink,
pointed to a certain window.

Gard took the fragments of the picture of the hotel to a traveler's
guide and searched for the house that would compare with it. Eventually
he found the duplicate, and it was a Chicago hostelry. He hurried to it.
After showing his credentials to the house detective, information was
freely supplied. The room in question was occupied by a woman and had
been so occupied for two weeks. She was a handsome and stylish
red-haired woman of thirty-five. She had been carefully watched for a
reason that presently developed.

"Has she received any callers?" asked the special agent.

"But one person, a man, has visited her," answered the house detective.

"What sort of a man?" asked Gard.

"A large man with gray hair," said the house detective. "He is in her
room now."

"Will you go up with me immediately?" ejaculated the special agent. "I
must not fail to see this man."

"Assuredly," was the response, and they caught the next elevator.

The car they took was an express and was not to stop until it reached
the eleventh floor. The next to it was a local, stopping at all floors.
The express, going up with the detectives aboard, slackened its speed at
the eighth floor while its operator gave some message to the boy on the
local which had stopped there to take on a passenger. The cars were of
an open-work structure and the passengers in one could see quite plainly
those on the other as they passed. As the express passed Gard looked
through at those riding on the other car. Imagine his consternation
when, not two feet from him, he saw the man for whom he had been
searching for months. As he gazed through the checked steel slats of the
car side he was close enough to have put out his hand and laid it on his
man had nothing intervened. Berliner faced him and, as the car paused,
he and the special agent gazed directly into the eyes of each other.
This was for but an instant and both cars were in motion again. The
detective was being borne rapidly toward the top of the building and the
fugitive less rapidly toward the ground.

"There is my man on the other elevator," Gard whispered hurriedly to the
house detective. "Have the boy reverse and run down again."

The message was given to the operator, who obeyed instantly and some
excuse was made to the passengers on the car. The local had been
stopping at each floor and the express passed it and barely reached the
ground floor first. There the two detectives stepped out and waited for
the coming of the other car.

A moment later it arrived, much crowded, and began to disgorge itself.
The two officers waited in instant readiness to capture the man whom
they had seen at the eighth floor. But the car was emptied and he was
not among the passengers.

"Where did the big gray-haired man get off?" the boy was asked.

"Third floor, sir," he replied.

"You bar the exits," Gard said to the house detective, "and I will get
back to the third."

On that floor the hallman said that the white-haired gentleman had run
down the steps to the second. Gard followed, but was able to find no one
on that floor who had seen the fugitive. He ran hastily about looking
for possible exits, and then instituted a thorough search. He
investigated every possible avenue of escape and hastened downstairs to
his ally to help cut off the line of retreat. Every possible barrier was
put up and the house was well gone over. The gray-haired fugitive had,
however, eluded pursuit.

Gard immediately called upon the Chicago police to throw out a dragnet
and a general alarm, and this was done. All railway stations were
watched with particular care. But none of these efforts were of any
avail, as Berliner was never reported to have been seen again in
Chicago. Nor was Gard able to get so much as the glimmer of a trace of
him nor a suggestion as to where he might have gone.

It was a task of infinite patience that brought Special Agent William H.
Gard to London two months later on the trail of a woman whom he had
traced half around the world. The Titian-haired guest of the Chicago
hotel, the wife of the fugitive broker, here installed herself for a
while and lived in a manner that amounted to absolute seclusion.

Then she went to Paris. There she took rooms in a quiet side street and
seemed to settle down with some idea of permanence. There was nothing in
her mode of life that would indicate that she lived differently from any
other woman who was alone in the world and sought quiet. She went out
for a long walk every afternoon, purchased the necessities of her
establishment, or books, of which she seemed to read great numbers.

Special Agent Gard established a close watch over the house in which she
lived. This was easy because there was but a front entrance and
apartments opposite looked out upon the street. He determined that
nobody should enter this house without being observed. He asked the
Paris police to provide him with two reliable men who could watch with
him in shifts from the quarters he rented across the street.

A vigil of two weeks revealed absolutely nothing. With the exception of
the servant who came at noon each day and remained not more than four
hours, no living creature entered the house. In all that two weeks the
postman left no mail. Billy Gard seemed to be up against a blank wall.
He held, however, that if a man kept awake on the most hopeless job for
a sufficient length of time some clue was sure to develop or some idea
present itself that would lead toward results.

Gard investigated the maid who worked the daily short shift in the
quarters of the red-haired woman from America. He found her a placid and
stupid creature who knew nothing nor had intelligence sufficient for his
purpose. Incidentally he found that she had secured her place through an
employment agency located at a considerable distance. He immediately
made use of this information.

The special agent, through the Paris police force, secured the
cooperation of the employment bureau. A position that paid much better
was offered to the servant of Mrs. Berliner. It was, quite naturally,
accepted. That lady, finding herself without a servant, returned to the
agency that had formerly provided her with one who was entirely
satisfactory. She asked for a second maid.

The employment bureau immediately supplied her demand. The woman who was
sent was, in secret, more than she seemed to be. She was connected with
the Paris police department and was a detective of some cleverness.
Almost immediately she took up her new activities.

Three days later she reported to Agent Gard from America. She had found
in her red-haired mistress a woman who led a quiet life that seemed in
no way irregular, who followed a normal routine of housekeeping,
walking, shopping. She seemed to have no acquaintances. But one thing
irregular appeared in the whole establishment. There was one room in the
rear of the suite which remained locked. The mistress had stated that it
was a storage room. This seemed somewhat strange, as it must look out
upon the interior court and therefore be the most attractive room of
them all. It seemed peculiar that such a room should be used for
storage and, even so, that it should be locked up.

Gard put together the two facts--the locked room and the short hours of
the servant--and drew a conclusion. It was as the result of this
conclusion that he asked the woman detective to install a dictagraph
beneath the table in the sunny little dining room just off the apartment
of the locked door. This was easy of accomplishment during the hour of
the afternoon stroll of the mistress of the house. The wires of the
dictagraph were run across the street and into the watch-tower rooms of
the special agent.

When the dinner hour approached that evening Billy Gard sat patiently
with the headpiece of the dictagraph securely in place. The first sound
that he caught from across the street was that of feet, supposedly those
of the woman of the Titian hair, passing back and forth about the room,
then an occasional snatch of a song while she worked. He gathered that
she was arranging for the evening meal, the servant having gone home
hours before.

Ten minutes passed and then there came over the wire a sound that might
have been a bit surprising to the observer of this ultra quiet
household, the watcher at the entrance through which none had passed
unseen since the day it was rented, had not the listener already
developed a theory.

"Well, Margaret," said a full-throated man's voice, as transmitted by
the dictagraph, "this is not so bad. I never dreamed that you had the
housewifely instincts that would make it possible for you to arrange
with your own hands the dainty dinners we are having. I am beginning to
think that the man is lucky who cannot afford servants."

"And don't you know," said a woman's voice, "I never enjoyed anything
more in my life. For almost the only time I can remember I have a
definite occupation. I have to provide our creature comforts. I haven't
been so happy in years. I really don't care how long they keep us cooped
up."

"I will confess," said the man, "that the novelty has worn off of the
view into the courtyard. But it might be worse. For a while they had me
thinking quite regularly of striped suits and the lockstep which are
part of a life even more confining than this. And here I have you. I am
quite content to wait for the atmosphere to clear."

"But I am very sure we are still being watched," said the woman. "I
always feel that I am being followed when I go out."

"Very likely," said the man. "But no detective will pursue fruitless
quests indefinitely. Even though they know you are here, they will
ultimately lose interest in a surveillance that yields nothing. We can
afford to wait. The time will come when we can steal away in safety."

"When it is all over," she responded, "I do wish that we could find a
way to let those detectives know that you were here under their very
noses all the time."

Billy Gard, it may here be set down, was most anxious to learn how this
had been possible. He had followed Margaret Berliner to the house when
she had first come to see it. He had been notified immediately when she
had rented it. From that moment he had watched every detail of her
taking possession; had, with the aid of his men, seen everything that
had gone into the house. Yet Berliner had installed himself without his
knowledge and had been living there all the time.

"It would have been impossible without Archie," Berliner was saying. "A
man in a position like mine needs, upon occasion, some one he can trust
to do little things for him. We may quarrel with blood relatives all our
lives, but they have the advantage of being safe to trust in time of
trouble. It is a very small thing to send a man to a rent agent for a
key to inspect lodgings and to send him back with the key after they are
inspected. But had I not been able to trust Archie absolutely I would
not have been able to get in here a day ahead of you and this snug
little arrangement would not have been possible."

It was because of what he here overheard that Special Agent Gard,
assisted by Coleman of the Paris office and the police of that city,
considerately waited until Mrs. Berliner went shopping the following day
and were admitted by the woman detective, who was at the time washing
the accumulated dishes of the household. They so surrounded the locked
door as to make escape impossible and then announced their presence.
Gard told Berliner, through the locked door, of the situation that
existed on the outside. He suggested that the easiest way was to unbolt
the entrance, thereby saving the necessity of breaking it down.
Whereupon the customs broker walked out and surrendered, and a very
tedious fugitive case was brought to a successful conclusion.



XI

THE BANK BOOKKEEPER


A twelve-dollar-a-week bookkeeper in a prim New England town, without
access to the funds of the bank for which he worked, stole nearly a half
million dollars and so juggled the books as to hide the shortage from
the directors and from the national bank examiner for a period of two
years.

The "faro gang," a band of master crooks, as well organized as though
for the development of a mining venture, financed in advance for many
thousands of dollars, took the money from the bookkeeper as regularly as
he took it from the bank--took it all, but never aroused his suspicion.

The detectives of the bureau of investigation, Department of Justice,
unraveled the whole tangled skein and revealed the ramifications of one
of the completest schemes for the illicit acquisition of other people's
money that the history of the crime of the nation has ever developed.

The first incident that led to the discovery of this monster plot to
defraud took place when two most staid and dignified of the solid
citizens of Bainbridge, Mass., happened to meet outside the First
National bank of that serene suburb of Boston one sunshiny afternoon.
Their conversation led to an argument as to whether there was $186,000
or $187,000 in the endowment of an orphanage, of which they were
directors. To settle this argument they decided to have a look at the
books which contained the record of deposits and withdrawals.

So these dignified guardians of this endowment fund approached the
cashier's window in the First National bank and asked for the balance in
the given account. The official turned automatically to the ledger
containing the inactive accounts of the bank, glanced at the balance and
automatically reported the figures there revealed.

"Four thousand five hundred dollars," he said.

So was obtained the first revealing flash into the affairs of this
institution which had stood as the conservative financial bulwark of the
community for a hundred years. Yet a week later, when the principal pass
books had been called in, and the experts had completed their
examination, the bank was shown to be but a financial shell. Each of
those large inactive accounts that lent the institution its strength was
found to have melted away. A bank of a capital of but $100,000, it was
soon shown that it had been looted for more than $400,000 of the
depositors' money.

As soon as the shortage was evident a report was made to the Department
of Justice, in Washington, which has charge of the prosecution of
violators of the national banking laws. Expert accountants and Special
Agent Billy Gard of the Bureau of Investigation of that department were
immediately hurried to the scene. When they arrived they found that one
event had just transpired which came near establishing the facts as to
the immediate responsibility of the shortage. The bookkeeper of the bank
had disappeared.

The bank was an institution which employed but three men; a cashier, an
assistant cashier, and a bookkeeper. The disappearance of the
bookkeeper, Robert Tollman, fixed attention on him, and it was
ultimately demonstrated that he was the only individual inside the bank
who had anything to do with its misfortunes.

Special Agent Gard, who handled the outside work of the investigation,
found Tollman to be a youngster of twenty-three, a mild-eyed, likable
chap, who made friends easily. He was a member of one of those old New
England puritanical families that have become institutions in the
community in which they reside. Back of him were a dozen generations of
repression, of straight-edged righteousness. At the age of eighteen he
had entered the bank, and at twenty-three was receiving a salary of but
$12 a week. There had been no chance for advancement. At twenty-one he
had come into $20,000 as an inheritance from an aunt and this had been
the one event of his life, up to that time.

The government's expert accountant immediately established the manner in
which the funds of the bank had been taken. As bookkeeper, Tollman did
not have access to the cash or securities, and was therefore not
considered as being in a position of trust. He was not even bonded. But
beneath his eye there constantly passed those large accounts of the bank
which represented its wealth.

It was about six months after Tollman came of age that irregular charges
began to appear against the inactive accounts. At first they were modest
and infrequent. Steadily they strengthened and grew in size. Eventually
it was shown that charges averaging $5,000 a day were being regularly
placed against these accounts. There were weeks during which the
bookkeeper had succeeded in abstracting such amounts every day.

The bank accountants were soon able to demonstrate the method of these
abstractions. The bookkeeper would give a check against his own account
to some individual in Boston and that individual would deposit it for
collection. It would be sent through the clearing house and eventually
reach the bank in Bainbridge. The bookkeeper was always early at the
bank when any such checks were expected from the clearing house. He
opened the letters transmitting them, turning the statement of the total
amount represented over to the cashier, that a check might be sent by
him to the clearing house. It was the province of the bookkeeper to
enter the individual checks against the accounts represented. When he
reached his own personal check, he charged it to some one of the
inactive accounts instead of his own and destroyed it. So had he taken
$400,000.

But the immediate task in hand fell to Billy Gard. It was the
apprehension of the fugitive and the recovery, if possible, of all or
part of the money taken. It was in the course of the performance of this
duty that the ramifications of this case which give it a place among the
most unique and complete crimes of the age were developed.

While accountants were revealing methods used inside the bank in getting
hold of the money, Gard was busy outside. Tollman, having disappeared,
was to be traced. The first step was to establish his habits, to find
his associates. To the experienced special agent the groundwork of a
case of this sort unfolds almost of itself. There were the people who
knew him best in Bainbridge, for instance. They told Gard that the
youngster had broken away, of late, from the friends of his youth. He
was believed to have gone to Boston for his pleasures. He had a big red
automobile which, it was supposed, he had bought with the money of his
inheritance and in which he drove away practically every night. Through
the whole of the last year of his peculations, Tollman, the
twelve-dollar-a-week clerk, drove regularly to his work at the bank in
this car.

In Boston Gard picked up the clues. Tollman was well known at certain
hotels and cafés. At one hotel which was rendezvous for sporting people
he regularly called upon a very dashing young woman who was registered
as Laura Gatewood. It was at this same hotel that he became acquainted
with an accomplished individual known as John R. Mansfield, who was well
known about McDougal's Tap, in Columbia Avenue, and whose livelihood was
secured through alleged games of chance. Miss Gatewood also introduced
Tollman to a Mrs. Siddons, an especial friend of Mansfield, who
maintained a cozy little apartment in a respectable part of Boston, and
who had, in a dress suit case, a portable faro outfit which could be set
up in her rooms upon occasion. There was also Edward T. Walls, a large
and dominant man, who had, of late, found poker playing on
transatlantic liners a rather precarious calling. But, finally, Miss
Gatewood arranged meetings between Tollman and "Big Bill" Kelliner, who
lived in Winthrop, not far away, was in the wholesale liquor business,
in politics, and, as afterward developed, was a dominating spirit in the
"faro gang."

With the development of the friendship with Kelliner began the trips to
New York. These two would meet two or three times a week at the Back Bay
station and together take the train for New York. So frequent were these
trips that the members of the train crews came to be well acquainted
with the men, and to know something of their movements. They gave clues
to the hotels in New York at which these travelers stayed, and this led
to their identification by hotel clerks and other facts as to their
associates. Eventually all this led to a certain house in West
Twenty-eighth Street and a consultation with the New York police as to
its character.

It developed that in this house there was always running, on evenings
when Kelliner and Tollman came to New York, a faro game. Here Kelliner
gambled and at first won and induced Tollman to try his luck. The
youngster was allowed to win prodigiously. Again he would lose, but not
enough to frighten him away. So was the craze for gambling developed in
the bookkeeper. But eventually he lost what was left of his inheritance.

Up to this time he was honest. But at the suggestion of Kelliner he
stole from the bank to make good his losses. He lost again, and was in
the mill. There was no chance of escape but through stealing more of the
bank's funds and gambling in the hope of eventually winning out. The
bookkeeper had entirely lost his head. He became consumed with the
recklessness of desperation.

In the meantime the Gatewood woman had moved to New York. Also Tollman
had become deeply enamored with her. So fond was he of her company, as a
matter of fact, that he would often turn over to Kelliner and Mansfield
and other of their friends the money with which to gamble, while he
visited with Miss Gatewood. The members of the gang would go to some
gilded restaurant and dine sumptuously and return to Tollman and report
that luck had been against them, and that they had lost all their
money. On such occasions the profits of the evening were almost clear to
the gang. On such occasions, so the members of the train crew back to
Boston reported, "Big Bill" Kelliner would sob out his apparent grief,
because of his losses, on the shoulder of Tollman. The latter was thus
placed in the rôle of comforter. Kelliner would swear never to gamble
again and make his protestations so earnestly that Tollman would become
the aggressor and urge his associate on and paint pictures of luck
ahead. So adroitly did Kelliner play this game that Tollman had been
heard to threaten to break with him because he was a piker.

For two years this arrangement continued. Kelliner, Mansfield, Walls,
the Gatewood woman, and other accomplices, maintained themselves as
decoys that induced the young bookkeeper to draw ever more checks
against his personal account and always extract these and charge them
where they were least likely to be missed. Despite his long carouses at
night Tollman never failed to be at the bank in time to open the mail
and extract the checks that would have betrayed him. Despite the loss of
sleep he was never so dull that he neglected any detail of his
bookkeeping that would have caused his accounts to fail to balance or to
show any irregularities that would have caused the bank examiner to grow
suspicious. Unsuspectingly the stern old bank of Bainbridge stood with
unruffled front until it became but a financial skeleton, its last spark
of vitality wasted away.

But this young bookkeeper of the gambling mania! What became of him?
Those other aiders and abetters to his crime! What action was taken in
their case?

Special Agent Billy Gard eventually had in hand a complete understanding
of the individuals and the methods that were associated with this case.
He had reached the necessity of making arrests.

Kelliner was taken into custody. He indignantly protested that he was
innocent of any criminal wrongdoing. Mansfield, Walls and Tollman had
disappeared. The capture of the latter was of first importance.

The special agent turned first to that primary command of the old-school
detective when a crime is committed: "Find the woman." The results
obtained indicate that there may be much in the theory. In the case of
Tollman the connection with the Gatewood woman was soon established. She
was not about her old haunts in New York. No trails were immediately
found. It was developed that she had originally lived in Kansas City.
When any individual has got into trouble there is always a strong
probability that he will return to his old home, another detective
theory to which Billy Gard subscribed. It is particularly true with
reference to such serious crimes as murder, but it is to a material
extent true in all cases that necessitate flight.

Upon this theory Gard went to Kansas City to look for the woman in the
Tollman case. It required some weeks to find her. When she was located
it was found that Tollman was not with her. He had been there until the
night before. They had quarreled and he had gone away. The cause of
their quarrel was the fact that Tollman had no money. She had cast him
off as a dead husk. She did not know his whereabouts.

In practically every case of otherwise well executed crime there
develops some element of unexpected folly--the criminal does some one
thing that seems, from what would be supposed to be his standpoint,
inexcusably stupid. Gard was therefore not surprised when it developed
that Tollman had not so much as a thousand dollars out of all he had
taken from the bank. He had made no provision for the time which he must
have known would inevitably come when he should be detected. This,
however, was not the crowning folly from a criminal standpoint. Despite
the dash and cunning and the determination he had evinced in his
lootings, he lost his nerve when his woman threw him out. He purchased,
with the proceeds of pawned jewelry, a ticket to Bainbridge, Mass., went
there, and gave himself up to the police. His nerve was broken.

The theory of "find the woman" was applied in the case of the third of
the offenders, John R. Mansfield, the Boston gambler. The apartment of
Mrs. Siddons where the faro game was, upon occasion, set up, and the
woman herself, who was suspected of being particularly intimate with
Mansfield, were watched. The watch was not effective, however, for the
woman disappeared with no one seeing her.

The janitor at the apartment house reported that in going she had taken
a particularly heavy trunk. Special Agent Stephens undertook to follow
that trunk. He canvassed half the expressmen of Boston before he found
the man who had taken the trunk away. This man stated that he had taken
it to the Back Bay station at a certain time, and that it had been
weighed and found to be in excess of the baggage a passenger might carry
free of charge. This singled it out from the mass of trunks. The
expressman remembered that it weighed 225 pounds, and that the
baggageman had marked it for 60 cents excess. According to the rate book
this would have been the excess charge for that weight to New York. The
trunk was thus located with sufficient definiteness that its number was
procured.

In New York it was found that the excess trunk had been sent on to North
Philadelphia with the charge C. O. D. Here the record showed that the
trunk had been called for by a Mrs. Price, living at an address on Broad
Street, and the agent remembered that she had been accompanied by a man.
At this address a Mr. and Mrs. Price were found to be living. Special
Agent Stephens watched the Broad Street house until Price came out. He
was none other than Mansfield. He was placed under arrest.

With confidence in the old detective theory of the woman, the special
agents applied it again in the case of Walls, the one-time gambler on
transatlantic liners. This was not done, however, until several
suspected individuals in different cities had been shown not to be the
man wanted, and many other schemes for the apprehension of the gambler
had failed. For Walls was married to a very attractive and respectable
woman, who supported herself by keeping a boarding house after his
flight. It could not be discovered that she was in communication with
her husband. Finally, there was developed another woman with whom Walls
was known to have been friendly, and who had a part in the activities of
the faro gang. This woman's correspondence was watched, and it was soon
discovered that she was sending letters to and receiving letters from a
man in Detroit, Michigan. Tracings of the man's handwriting were made as
the letters came through the post office, and when compared with that of
Walls, the resemblance was convincing.

The writer of these letters gave his address as a lock box. A special
agent went to Detroit, but the box had been given up. Two months later
more letters came to the same woman from Grand Junction, Colorado, and
also from a lock box. The postmaster was able to describe the man
holding the box and the description suited Walls. But he moved again
before a detective got there to identify and arrest him. There was a
chase of six months on such clues, always through the same woman, but
Walls was still at large.

Eventually there appeared among death notices in New York the name of
Edward T. Walls. Subsequently Mrs. Walls went from her boarding house in
Boston and took charge of the body. Suspecting that this might be a
trick to throw them off their guard, the special agents took every
precaution to identify the body. Eventually they were convinced that the
man they had pursued so diligently was dead. The case was closed.

The three principals in this case, Tollman, Kelliner and Mansfield, were
given 15, 18 and 10 years respectively. After their conviction both
Tollman and Kelliner talked freely to Billy Gard of the whole case and
threw some interesting sidelights upon it. Kelliner told particularly of
the inception of the plans of the faro gang. He said it came into being
at Atlantic City where he and Mansfield and Walls happened to be
spending a week-end. Kelliner at that time already had a line on
Tollman, and other possible victims were deemed ready for the plucking.

With these prospective victims in mind the faro gang was organized.
Money had to be raised for the fitting up of the establishment in
Twenty-eighth Street, which was only used when victims were in tow. This
alone cost $2,000. Then there was the necessary expense money of the
members of the gang while they were developing their victims. There must
be cash in the bank to be won when those victims made their first
appearance. Altogether it was a business that had to be capitalized for
something like $20,000 before it could begin operations. But, as it
afterwards turned out, it was a profitable investment if viewed from the
standpoint of Tollman alone; and there were other victims.



XII

PUTTING UP THE MASTER BLUFF


Did you ever go among strangers and pretend to be a more important
personage than you really are? Yes? So have I. There are many of us who
habitually take a taxicab when we go into a strange city on a modest
piece of business. Yet at home we would walk six blocks to save a nickel
in car fare. I would not acknowledge to the hotel clerk, nor would you,
that an inside room, price one dollar, is what, in my heart, I would
like to ask for when I say that three-fifty will be about right. And we
tip the waiter, you and I, although we know that he makes twice the
money we do, and we let the haberdasher's clerk sell us a shirt for
three dollars when we should pay one, and the barber bulldozes us into
taking a shampoo when there is a perfectly good bar of soap at home and
not working.

For, to ourselves, upon occasion, we like to be the dream people, to
see ourselves as the great and dominant of the land, to step out of the
everyday commonplace of our existence. We pay the price of our temporary
emancipation. We may feel a bit foolish when the bellboy is gone and we
are alone with the pitcher of ice water, but in our hearts it is worth
the money.

Admitting this tendency to dissemble, how large a front of false
pretense could you put up, how important a personage do you think you
could make of yourself, if you should find all the gates open and were
invited to do your durndest? And if you should, in a moment of abandon,
summon courage to introduce yourself as the King of Spain or Anthony
Comstock or Lillian Russell, and if you did this in a gathering that you
knew to be made up of selected master minds, how well do you think you
would be able to sustain the part?

This is the story of a modest employee of the Government, drawing $2,500
a year, who walked into a convention of millionaire manufacturers and
with no basis in fact for his claim, virtually spoke to these dominant
and successful princes of industry as follows:

"Gentlemen, you are mere children playing at the factory business. I am
the master here. Please be nice to me and tell me all your secrets or I
will cut off your supply of raw material."

It was such an assignment as this that one morning came over to New York
in the mail from Washington and fell to the lot of Special Agent Billy
Gard. The instructions said:

"The Northern Pulp and Paper Manufacturers' Association will hold its
convention at the Waldorf on the 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd. It is
suspected of being a conspiracy in restraint of trade. Its deliberations
are in secret and the membership is unknown. Ascertain all action of the
convention and procure a list of the members of the association."

This action on the part of the Government was occasioned by complaints
from publishers of newspapers throughout the country which seemed to
indicate that there was an understanding among manufacturers as to
prices that should be charged for white paper. If there was such an
agreement that prevented competition, it was probably reached through
some association of which all were members. There was the Northern Pulp
and Paper Manufacturers' Association. Its deliberations and its
membership were secret. This fact put it under suspicion. Was it fixing
prices?

To answer this question, Special Agent Billy Gard went on his
vain-glorious debauch of assuming an importance that was not his due. He
unleashed that tendency that is within us all and let it run riot to the
limit. But back of the dissembling there was an object to be
accomplished.

"You are President Van Dorn of the association, I believe?" said Gard as
he presented himself to that individual on the morning the convention
was to be opened. "My name is William H. Gard. I am most anxious to
attend your meetings."

"Are you a member?" asked the president, an incisive and businesslike
man of affairs whose factories produced 40 per cent. of the white paper
used by the daily press of the nation.

"No," acknowledged Gard, "I do not belong to the association, but I
nevertheless believe that the membership would be glad to have me
present."

"If you are a manufacturer you may become a member and attend," said
President Van Dorn.

"I am not a manufacturer," smiled the special agent. "I am the man back
of the manufacturer. I come to you to-day, but in the near future you
will all come to me. It is in the interest of the manufacturers that I
want to attend."

"I do not understand," said the president.

"You of course know of the Canadian Northwest Timber Company," said the
special agent. (As a matter of fact there was no company of exactly that
name.) "I am the representative of that company. You may also know that
we have been accumulating lands covered with spruce timber for twenty
years. Our holdings now amount to areas equal to the whole of the States
of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. It is not necessary that I should
call your attention to the exhaustion of the spruce of New England, nor
of other areas in the United States that have, in the past, been your
source of supply for pulp from which to make your paper. The timber
supply heretofore available for this purpose is approaching exhaustion.
When it is gone you will all turn to the forests that are next most
accessible. We have those forests. I therefore say to you that all of
you will come to me within the next decade. I am coming to you in
advance."

As the young man who claimed to be from the Canadian Northwest talked,
the brusk manner of the president of the paper manufacturers gradually
relaxed. He stroked his luxuriant, close-cropped whiskers in each
direction from the distinct part down his chin and listened with
undivided attention. The Canadian timber lands were at that time the
matter of greatest interest in the pulp and paper world. These lands had
been something of a mystery, for their owners were evidently sitting
tight and biding their time.

"I had depended on my subject to interest you," said Gard. "I came all
the way from Canada to get acquainted with the men who are going to
consume my product. I would like to attend your convention and address
it."

Gard's preparation for this approach and bid for a seat on the floor of
the convention, had been most thorough. Upon receipt of his orders he
had found himself with a week in which to make ready. His first step had
been to get in touch with the publisher of a great New York daily who
had reported to the Department his belief that there was a white paper
trust. That publisher spent hundreds of thousands of dollars every year
for paper. He had therefore carefully studied the paper situation. He
had all the facts as to the supply of pulp timber. He knew just the
crisis that the paper manufacturers faced. These facts he imparted to
Gard and the special agent saw, through them, his opportunity to reach
the confidence of the manufacturers and get all the facts with relation
to their organization.

The convention was yet a week off. Gard had time to accumulate a sunburn
and he went fishing down the bay three afternoons in succession, wore no
hat and rolled up his sleeves. He was a young man of a lobster red for a
day or two but of a deep bronze at the end of the week. With a touch or
two of the woods such as a stout pair of shoes and a hunting knife which
he found occasion to produce, just the right impression was created.

"There is nobody that the convention would rather hear talk," President
Van Dorn was saying. "There is nobody who has a subject of more
interest. But admission to the convention is provided for in the
constitution and by-laws. Only members may be admitted. Our work is
strictly confidential."

"However, nothing is impossible," insisted Gard. "A constitution can be
amended."

"The manner in which it can be amended is also provided for in the
by-laws. It cannot be done in four days."

The special agent saw himself bound to fail to get himself admitted to
the convention. There was the advantage, however, of having been denied
a courtesy to which he had a strong claim and this left the way open to
the asking of other important favors.

"Even though you cannot attend the meetings," Van Dorn suggested, "I
want to see that you meet all our leading people and in this way you may
accomplish practically as much. I would be glad if you would dine with
me to-night."

"I shall be very glad to do so," said the special agent. "In the
meantime you can probably provide me with a list of your members. In
that way I can at least communicate with them all."

"That list is quite confidential," said the president. "I have no copy
of it myself."

"But your permanent headquarters in Fourth Avenue will have it,"
suggested Gard. "Can you give me a note to the secretary?"

To this the president assented somewhat hesitatingly. The note he wrote
was also a bit indefinite. It was not instructions to give a copy of the
list. It might be so interpreted if the secretary were inclined to be
friendly.

So Gard went for his list with some inward trepidation, although the man
who pretended to hold the fate of the paper manufacturers of a nation in
his hand could afford to show no outward manifestation of it.

The secretary of the Northern Pulp and Paper Manufacturers' Association
was a most courteous young Virginian bearing the name of Randolph. The
special agent knew the secretary was a Southerner as soon as he met him.
The former had originated in Baltimore. After the manner of Southerners
the two discussed names and families. The special agent knew a great
deal about the Randolph family. In fact, he said, his family had married
into the Randolphs in one of its branches. The lines were followed
until it seemed that the men might well believe that they were cousins
several times removed. Incidentally they had started to be friends in
the way most accredited among Southerners.

Gard delivered his note from President Van Dorn and took great pains to
explain the position of the Canadian Northwest Timber Company. He made
it clear that his people were on the eve of playing a large part in the
paper pulp world. He wanted to ask Randolph's advice about certain
matters and he wanted to get in touch with some enterprising young man
who knew the manufacturers. To such a young man he might offer an
enviable business opportunity. In the meantime he would like a copy of
the membership list of the association.

It developed that there was but one such list in existence. It had to be
dug up from the association's safe and copied. But the secretary was
friendly to this one-time Southerner, now of the north woods; he was a
young man who knew the manufacturers, and who would take a look at a
business opportunity; he had the note of instruction, somewhat
indefinite to be sure, from the president of the association.

Gard secured his list of members. As fast as a taxicab could carry him,
he was away to his office, from which requests for prices of paper were
dispatched to every firm on the list, in the name of the New York
publisher who was helping the Government.

That night the special agent dined with President Van Dorn and other men
high in the counsels of the Pulp and Paper Manufacturers' Association.
His position was explained and regrets were generally expressed that he
might not be present at the meeting. Only the constitution stood in the
way. There was no other reason why one so vitally interested in the
welfare of the manufacturers should not be a member. Information of a
most exhaustive nature should be given him. Even the minutes of the
meeting and copies of addresses should be put at his disposal. He should
meet all present.

So Agent Gard loafed about the Waldorf for four days. He was regarded,
not merely as a master of finance who was the equal of any of the
manufacturers attending the convention, but as the man of them all who
held the whip hand. Morning and night he cultivated these men, talked
business with them, asked them questions. They told him all that went on
in the convention, allowed him to read its minutes. He was the most
courted man at the hotel when the word got well circulated that he was
the pulp king of the Canadian Northwest.

Gard, of course, had an average number of acquaintances scattered about
the country and many of these knew of his association with the
Department of Justice. In a New York hotel there is always a chance of
meeting friends from any place in the world. Gard was therefore not
surprised, on the evening of the manufacturers' banquet which brought
the convention to a close, to pass in a corridor two old-time friends,
men whom he had known in college. They hailed him vociferously as "Gard,
old man." It was against just such an emergency that he had used his own
name.

The special agent was at the time going in to dinner with Randolph, the
secretary, and a member from Buffalo. Nothing would have come of this
chance greeting had it not been that a paper manufacturer was standing
beside the two friends of Gard when the latter passed. One of these
young men turned to the other and asked:

"What is Gard doing now? I haven't seen him since I left college."

"He is with the Department of Justice," said the second friend. "He is a
special agent, a detective working on big trust investigations."

And the manufacturer heard it all. He immediately communicated his
information to President Van Dorn. That official lost his urbane
equanimity and fluttered about in much confusion, consulting with others
in authority. He did not approach Gard, and that young man was all
unsuspicious that anything had gone wrong until the time came for
after-dinner speeches.

"Before we proceed with the toasts on the program," said President Van
Dorn, who was master of ceremonies, "I should like to call the attention
of the members present to one matter not regularly scheduled. We have
all met, during the week, Mr. Gard, of the Canadian Northwest. Mr. Gard
has furnished many of us with facts that seemed to be vital to the
interests of wood pulp business. We, in exchange, have given to Mr.
Gard much information with relation to the pulp and paper business. I
should like to present Mr. Gard to this gathering, if I may."

President Van Dorn paused and looked expectantly in the direction of the
young man in question. The situation was such that Gard was required to
arise and receive the introduction and, as he expected, make a bit of a
speech. He rose to his feet.

"This, gentlemen," continued Van Dorn, "is Mr. Gard. As the
representative of the Canadian Northwest Timber company you have
unbosomed yourselves to him. He is, in reality, a detective of the
Department of Justice. You, gentlemen, are under investigation. Will Mr.
Gard be so good as to tell us whether or not we are a trust in restraint
of trade?"

The young representative of Uncle Sam was taken completely by surprise.
He had gone so far with his work without being suspected that he had
thought he would get all the way through. But he had all the time
discounted the possibility of being found out and was therefore entirely
prepared.

"I plead guilty as charged," he said, bowing profoundly and grinning
somewhat sheepishly and boyishly. "You, gentlemen, have been, as we say
in sleuth circles, 'roped.' You have told your secrets to the
investigator unknowingly.

"I most humbly apologize for the imposition. I was working under
instructions. Unless it can be shown that your association is in
restraint of trade nothing will come of the investigation. If you are a
conspiracy you will deserve what you get.

"If I may be pardoned for talking shop I will tell you just your
position with relation to the Government. What the Department of Justice
wants to do with such people as you is to go to you frankly and ask you
to lay your cards on the table--to open your books to the examination of
our experts. Before this is done it is sometimes wise to get a look
behind the screens before the stage is set for the play. I have been
taking that peep.

"Four days ago, for instance, I secured a list of the membership of this
association. That night, in the name of a certain newspaper publisher,
letters were written to every member asking for quotations of prices.
The price lists are in the mail by this time and coming back to us.
Now, if there is a great similarity in those prices, suspicion will be
aroused. It is better that this and other tests be put upon
manufacturers before they are aware that an investigation is on.

"But now we are in the open. To-morrow I will call upon the association
to produce its books. It need not respond to that call, but if it is
honest there is no reason why it should not. It may be that I will ask
individual members to show their accounts and correspondence. In the end
we will be very well acquainted. I trust that we may then be as friendly
as we have been during your convention and my deception. I will now bid
you good-night."

Gard's work "under cover" was completed. It was but an incident in the
relations between a great industry and the Government. The next week the
books of the association were thrown open to the Government. President
Van Dorn, whose factory was the largest of them all, volunteered access
to his records and others followed suit. So was an era of fair dealing
inaugurated.

This all happened years ago. The fidelity with which the special agent
laid the basis of his deception is proved by the fact that many of these
manufacturers are now getting their pulp from the Canadian Northwest.
The name of Gard does not, however, appear among the list of officers of
any of the companies supplying pulp. The young man is probably now off
on the trail of some other real or suspected violator of the Federal
statutes, meeting new emergencies, gaining new experiences, playing a
modest but not unimportant part in the big and vital affairs of the
nation.


THE END





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