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VI. Mrs. John Jones

The next afternoon Carter went to Police Headquarters to check on any
updates in the case. He took a chair in front of Superintendent Byrnes'
desk and lit a thin cigar.

"The identification of the deceased gets stronger all the time" said the
superintendent. "I'm beginning to think that she really is the wife of
our prisoner."

Carter wasn't so willing to make the conclusion. On the other hand he
was short on evidence at that point and couldn't really justify another
interpretation.

"It looks that way" Carter told the Superintendent.

At that moment there was a knock on the door, and a young officer
brought in a card and gave it to Byrnes. The superintendent looked at it
and whistled softly, then handed it to Carter.

"Mrs. John Jones" said Carter, reading the card. "Well well, this puts
a new face on the matter."

"It's a great case" Byrnes said, smiling. "What with the area and all
being the Tenderloin, and the death of a beautiful young woman, it has
already generated quite a bit of notoriety in the press. Should be a
real feather in my cap, Carter. Of course, it helps that you happened to
be on the scene at once." Then he turned to the officer. "Show the good
woman in, Gallagher."

A pretty young woman entered into the office. Carter observed that she
was of about the same height as the unfortunate victim of the tragedy in
the restaurant, and much like her in build. The faces did not resemble
each other in outline, but the coloring was similar. There was a faint
resemblance in the large, light blue eyes. Her hair was of the same
peculiar shade, and nearly as luxuriant. But nobody would ever have
mistaken one woman for the other, after getting a good look at their
faces.

The their dress, however, they were identical. Mrs. John Jones, to
all appearances, wore the very same clothes as Carter had seen upon the
woman in Room A.

Mrs. Jones seemed very nervous, but she made a fine attempt to control
herself. Byrnes went around to the front of his desk and pulled out a
chair for her. She looked up at him, as if thanking him for his
kindness. As soon as Byrnes had put himself behind his desk again she
came to the point. "You have my husband under arrest, I believe" she
said. "And he is accused, they say, of killing me." She tried to smile,
but it was rather a ghastly effort.

"Mr. John Jones is here with us, madam," he said. "He is suspected of
murder."

"I have read about it" replied the woman. "There certainly appears to
be evidence against him. But of course you must be aware that I know him
to be innocent."

"And how do you know that, madam? Please, inform us."

"Because I was with him when the crime was committed. It was my
intention to take an afternoon train, but I decided to wait. At half-past
seven o'clock of that evening we were walking toward the Grand Central
Depot. We had dined in our flat. The people who say they saw us go out
tell the truth. But we came back. We came back and had dinner. No one
saw us come back, I am fairly sure of that."

"After dinner we walked to the depot, and I took the eight-ten train for
my home in Maysville, ten miles from Albany. I arrived in Albany
Wednesday morning, and remained there with friends throughout the day
and night. Then I went to Maysville, where I heard the news. I came back
at once."

The superintendent touched his bell and Gallagher came in. "Would you
please go fetch Mr. Jones" he him. While they were waiting Brynes and
Carter looked at each other. The unspoken communication between them
was one of bewilderment, if not outright suspicion.

Carter made small talk with Mrs. Jones. "Was your trip a pleasant one,
Mrs. Jones? Excepting the bad news, of course."

"Yes" she said, taking out a handkerchief. "Yea, it was very lovely
weather."

"I'm so glad. It's often enjoyable to get out of the city every once in
a while. I must say, your husband was very resolved as to not ruin your
vacation with this news. He wanted to protect you."

Mrs. Jones wiped her nose with the kerchief and nodded.

Ten minutes later John Jones was brought into the room. "Amy!" he
exclaimed. "What are you doing here?" He ran up to her, and they greeted
each other affectionately. Mrs Jones, who had controlled herself up to
that point, burst into tears. Jones turned toward Byrnes and Carter and
unleashed his wrath.

"Haven't we had enough of this infernal nonsense?" he exclaimed. "You
have raised the devil with my business and scared my wife into a fit.
Now let me out, and arrest the Ameer of Afghanistan. He had more to do
with this affair than I did."

Carter didn't reply. Instead he looked at Brynes and nodded. Brynes
caught his meaning. He didn't seem too happy about it, but he followed
Carter's cue regardless.

"You are at liberty to go, Mr. Jones" said Byrnes. "I regret that it
was necessary to detain you so long."

"I have no complaint to make against you" said Jones. "It was that man's
work" he said, pointing at Carter. He scowled at Carter and then, after
bowing to the superintendent, walked out of the room with his wife on
his arm.

"Shall I call a man?" asked Byrnes, after they had left.

"That would be excellent" said Nick. "My own force is pretty busy at
the moment."

"Musgrave!" yelled the superintendent. A man appeared so suddenly that
he seemed to come out of the wall. "Shadow the couple that has just left
here" said Byrnes. "You are under Mr. Carter's orders until dismissed
by him."

Musgrave turned to Carter and tipped his hat. "I have no special
instructions" Carter told him. "But be sure to keep your eyes on the
woman." Carter pulled a piece of note paper off the superintendan't
desk, wrote down an address. "Here's the address for Mr. and Mrs. Jones.
Just in case you should need it. I imagine that after all they have been
through this day that they will return home." The officer saluted, and
vanished almost as quickly as he had come in.

At half-past six o'clock that evening Musgrave was on watch outside
the Jones' flat. Along the street people walked at a leisurely pace, in
no great hurry to leave the fine Fall air. Men returned from their
businesses and children enjoyed the last minutes of play time before being
called to dinner.

On the corner down from Musgrave, a man stood hawking newspapers. He was
wearing an old pair of patched pants and a vest, and had a walking cap
placed saucily on his head. He had a stack of papers under one arm,
and held one up high in his other hand. "Read about it in the paper!" he
cried in a loud, clear voice. "City council increases funds for public
services! Read about it! Ferry sinks off Boston harbor! Read about it
right here!"

The vendor made his way slowly down toward Musgrave. "Paper, sir? You
can't know about it if you don't read about it." Musgrave reached into
his pocket for a coin and bought a paper.

"Thanks, Musgrave" the hawker said, smiling. Musgrave fell into
momentary shock, unsure as to how the man knew his name. After looking
the hawker over more thoroughly, he finally recognized the man.

"My word, Mr. Carter. I hardly recognized you!"

"That is rather the intention, Musgrave. Now, what have you to report?
Just talk out in front of you, keeping your eyes off me. I don't want to
expose the charade."

"Well, from headquarters they went to an employment agency on 6th
Avenue. They engaged a colored girl as a servant. Then They came
straight here with the girl in tow, much as you suspected they would.
They haven't been out of the flat since."

"Are you sure of that?"

"Perfectly. There is no way to get out of that house from the rear."

"How about the fire-escape on the side?"

"I've been watching that. No one has been up or down it. And I think
that the rear of the building justs against other buildings. No way of
escape there."

"So, Mr. and Mrs. Jones are inside."

"Yes."

"And the new servant girl?"

"She is out. She has been going on errands half a dozen times, but
usually to the grocer's or the butcher's around the corner. I don't know
where she has gone this time. She's been out about a quarter of an
hour."

"All right. I'm going over there." Carter walked to the flat and rang
the bell. When the manager came to the door he looked at Carter
suspiciously, but when Carter showed them his investigators badge he
became more amenable. Carter walked up to the fourth floor and pulled
the bell. After a minute, John Jones opened the door. Carter had his
badge already pulled. Seeing the badge, Jones had no trouble recognizing
Carter.

"What do you want?" he said, obviously very irritated. "This is just
going a bit too far, I think, coming to our house after such a horrible
day." Carter could well understand Jones' irritation. Nevertheless, he
had a crime to solve.

"I would like to ask Mrs. Jones a few questions, if you have no
objections."

"I certainly do have objections. In fact, I object very strenuously."

"Will you ask her if she is willing to see me?"

"No, sir. I will not."

"Then I shall have to use my authority."

At that Jones' resolve seemed to crumble a bit. "Look here. Be a good
fellow. Amy is sick with all this worry. She's just gone to bed. Let her
alone until tomorrow. Surely you can do that, at least."

"All right then, Mr. Jones. Until tomorrow, then. Good evening."

Carter left the building and rejoined Musgrave. At that point it was
dark, and lights were coming on in the windows of the local buildings.
"Have you seen a light in that window?" Carter asked him, pointing up
the flat.

"No, Mr. Carter. Nothing at all has changed since you were out here
previously."

"Then Jones lied to me a minute ago when he said that his wife had just
gone to bed." Carter told him. "I know the buildings in this area. They
all have the same architecture. That window in the front would be the
principal bedroom of the flat. And if Mrs. Jones has just gone to bed,
as Jones informed me, the light would have been on for a while she made
ready for bed. And then it would have been turned out."

"There's been no light there, Mr. Carter.

"In that case, I'm afraid they fooled you, Musgrave."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that Mrs. Jones is not in her flat. She has gone out."

"It can't be possible."

"It's true. She's gone out disguised as her own servant."

"I can't believe it. Why, the girl's as black as your suspenders there."

"That's why they engaged her, I think. It made the trick easier. A black
face is a good disguise. But I'm going to be sure about it."

"How will you do that?"

"I'm going to see whether the colored girl is in the flat."

"But how can you get in?"

"I'm going down the air shaft. Like I mentioned, I know these buildings.
The servant's room would open on that shaft. Unless I am mistaken,
they'll have made her go in there so that the light won't show, as it
would be if she were in the kitchen."

Carter walked two blocks to the local engine-house, where he showed his
badge to a fireman and borrowed a coil of knotted rope. Back at Jones'
building he went around to the side, where there was a small walkway
between it and the adjoining building. Using the fire escape, he climbed
up to the roof. The top of the air shaft was covered with a thick wood
frame set around a large pane of broken glass. Carter took a small knife
from his pocket and jimmied the latch of the frame and lifted it up.

Making his rope fast to a pipe on the roof, he lowered himself down the
rope inside the air shaft. One story down he was at the fourth floor.
The window to the servant girl's room was open a crack, as if to let in
air. The curtains were open as well. Carter reasoned that the curtains
would be left open to let in light that filtered down the shaft. And
there was certainly no reason to suspect that anyone would be peeking in
the window. Unless, of course, it was a detective hanging from a knotted
rope from the room of the building. Carter had to laugh to himself at
that.

Carter peeked in the window. There was a light from the far side of the
room. Sitting in a chair was the servant girl, reading a book. His
suspicions made into fact, Carter began the climb back up to the roof.
But then the unthinkable happened. The rope came loose somehow from the
pipe above and began to slip. Carter found himself plummeting down the
air shaft sixty feet towards the basement below.

VII. The Wardrobe Of Gaspard's Friend

Nick Carter was a difficult man to kill. A good many crooks had tried to
put him out of the world across the years, and a fair percentage of them
had lost their own lives in the attempt. Carter's cool mind and years of
experience had given him the resources to get out of many predicaments
that might otherwise would have been fatal. The key, as Carter saw it,
was to know that when one thing failed that there was most often
something else to take its place.

When that rope began to give way, Carter took the next best thing. He
grabbed onto the window sill of Mr. Jones' bathroom. The strain on his
arms was dreadful, but he managed to hold on. His fingers gripped the
wood of the sill so hard the cracked paint began to splinter off it.

A minute later, Carter had pulled himself up and through the window into
the Jones' flat. He had managed to do it all so quietly, in spite of his
fear, that the servant girl in her room on the other side of the shaft
was not even disturbed at her reading.

Carter crept through the bathroom and out into the hall, and then to the
parlor. From his earlier observation of the building, Carter had noticed
that Mr. Jones -— to judge by the light in the window -— was spending
the evening in the parlor. But Jones wasn't visible when Carter took a
peek into the room. He walked quietly down to the next door, an
adjoining bedroom that was also empty.

Carter moved through the flat quickly, but saw no one. He returned to
the parlor. In the center of the room stood Mr. Jones, in the process
of lighting a cigar.

"My god!" exclaimed Jones when he finally noticed Carter. "How did you
get in here?"

"I might ask you the same" Carter said. "But it isn't worth the while."
Carter walked up to Jones, and before Jones saw it Carter's fist flew at
the side of his head in a hard right that struck him solidly in the jaw.
Jones went down onto the carpet. Jones lifted himself partly off the
floor and felt his face.

"What did you do that for?" he cried.

"I have a difficult time dealing with people who try to kill me. Like
you did up on the roof."

"What do you mean? What would I be doing on the roof!"

"It wasn't what you were doing; it was what you were undoing that
bothers me. You were undoing the knot with which I fastened my rope
to descend the air shaft."

"Nonsense, Mr. Carter. How could I get to the roof?"

"I'll show you just how it was done. In the first place, you saw me
coming back to the house. You must have guessed at that point what I was
going to do." At that point Carter walked up to Jones and grabbed him
tightly be the elbow in a vise-like grip and pulled him to his feet.
"You went into this room" Carter told him, dragging Jones into a sort of
closet adjoining the parlor. "And then you got out of that window onto
the fire escape. That led you to the roof, and the rest was simple. You
saw me go down, and you tried to make me go down farther and a good deal
faster. But you failed, and the game's up. And now I'm afraid it's to
police headquarters again."

"And on just what charge?" Jones said, trying to shake his arm free from
Carter.

"For trying to kill me. That's the charge against you. And I haven't got
through with you on that other matter quite yet."

"But for heaven's sake, pity my wife!"

"And what's the matter with her that she should deserve my pity?"

"She will be crazy when she gets back and finds me gone."

"Ah, so she is out then. Why did you lie to me about her going out?
I've a great mind to place you both under arrest. But for now, one of
my men will tell her where you've gone. Where you've returned to, I
should say."

"You can't do it. It's no crime to dodge a detective. I admit that she
went out. But for a very innocent purpose. She has gone to see our
lawyer."

"Your lawyer? Dressed in disguise as a black woman? And what would the
purpose of that have been? She could have left to see a lawyer quite
unmade up. In any case, I will attend to that later. For now, you're
coming with me."

Carter took Jones down to the street. Musgrave got a policeman, and
Jones was turned over to him to take to the station. As the policeman
started to take Jones away, Jones turned to Carter. "I am a victim of
circumstances, Mr. Carter" he said in a calm and steady tone. "I had
nothing to do with the murder in the restaurant, nor with any attempt
upon your life. You are doing me a grave injustice. If you were not as
blind as a bat you would see who the real criminals are."

Jones' words had a great effect upon Carter. And once again, as on the
train the day before, Carter wondered if he might not have made a
mistake. But he also felt confident that he would solve the case in
time. If Jones were innocent, as he claimed, then he would show that and
find the real culprit.

"Mr. Jones, if it should prove that I have wronged you" he said, "I will
repay you for the injury to the limit of your demand. That I swear.
Anyone who knows Nick Carter knows that my good will is worth a fortune
to just about any man."

With that Jones was lead away. Carter didn't have time to think much
about the matter. At that moment there were other things to attend to.
Carter needed to check in on Patsy and get her report on Gaspard since
the prior evening. He hailed a cab and took it Gaspard's residence. With
some difficulty he found Patsy outside the house and across the street,
wedged up and totally invisible behind a large drain pipe on the corner
of the opposing building.

"You are a shadow among shadows, my little agent. How is the watch?"

"Hello, Nicky. I'm dead on to this fellow" she said, chewing on what
looked like a piece of dried meat. "He's just about ready to flit, Nicky.
I'm sure of it. He's bought lots of stuff to-day, and is flush with
money. A man just went in there with a suit of clothes. Two delivery
wagons from dry goods stores have been here. I suppose that the stuff
they brought belongs to the woman who is going with Gaspard."

"Have you seen her?"

"No. The woman, she has kept mighty dark on this, Nick."

"Unfortunate." The temperature was dropping to a Fall night chill, and
it suddenly occurred to Carter that Patsy had been standing watch
outside the building almost twenty-four hours. Carter went into his
pocket and pulled another gold piece out for her. Patsy took the coin,
hefted it in her palm a bit, and stuck it in her pocket.

"I've been meaning to ask, Patsy. Now that we might have some time to
wait. How is your mother doing?"

"She's doing about the usual" Patsy said. "She is still really sick. I
don't know how much longer she's going to last. But little Mary takes
care of her real good, though. Me, I make the money. I work for Nick
Carter, master detective. Don't I, Nicky?"

"You're the best agent in the world, Patsy. Please give your mother my
regards. And if there's anything you need, you let me know. If you
don't, I will be very angry at you."

"Thanks, Nicky. Hello, what's this?" Patsy reached out and tugged Carter
closer to her behind the drain pipe.

A carriage had rumbled over the pavement and stopped before the door of
Gaspard's lodging-house.

"My word" Carter whispered, "it's our old friend Harrigan on the box.
The way people keep bobbing up in this case is near on supernatural. I
feel like I'm at a seance, meeting up with old ghosts."

"Perhaps the woman's in the cab" whispered Patsy.

But on closer inspection, the cab showed itself to be empty. Harrigan
then got off the box and went up and rang the bell. Carter heard him ask
for Gaspard Lebeau. A short time later, Gaspard appeared in the doorway.

"I've two trunks for you," Harrigan said.

"For me?" asked Gaspard.

"That's right. A young woman hired me to bring them. She said it would
be all right. That you'd pay the price."

"A woman? What sort of a woman?"

"A very gallus French siren with a big white hat and a black plume as
long as the tail of me horse."

"All right" said Gaspard. "Bring in the trunks."

With great deal of effort Harrigan lifted the trunks out of the cab and
carried them up the stairs to Gaspard's room. By the time he had
delivered the second trunk and returned he was obviously exhausted. It
had taken a good twenty minutes to get them up to Gaspard's room.
Harrigan then climbed up the box, and with a crisp crack of the reins
drove away.

"Follow him" said Carter. "See where he goes. Then bring him back here
in about half an hour or so. I don't care how you do it. Pay him if you
have to. Just bring him back."

Patsy darted away in pursuit of the cab like an leopard on the African
veldt. Carter walked up to the door of Gaspard's house and rang the bell.

As soon as the door opened he pushed himself in and climbed up the
stairs. It was easy to find Gaspard's room. Harrigan's muddy boots had
left tracks right to it. Carter didn't knock. He pushed the door open
suddenly, to find Gaspard on the floor examining one of the two trunks.
Gaspard looked up at him in surprise. As usual when confronted by a
situation that was beyond him, Gaspard began to tremble.

"What's all this, Gaspard?" asked the detective, giving one of the
trunks a little kick with his boot. "Is it true that you are going back
to France?"

"I, monsieur? Oh, no! New York suits me much better."

"And so what are these trunks doing here? Please explain that, if you
would be so kind."

Gaspard looked particularly foolish. "They are the property of a
friend — a lady. To tell the truth, I hope to marry her. A charming girl,
monsieur; and innocent as a dove."

"Why does she send her trunks here?"

"Ah, that I do not know. She did not inform me of the matter beforehand."

"Have you any idea what is in them?"

"Her wardrobe. Ah, she is extravagant. She buys many dresses. But then,
what would you have? When one is young and beautiful, well — "

Gaspard finished his sentence with a sweep of the arms.

"They are heavy" said Carter, lifting one of the trunks and setting it
crosswise on a lounge. He took a ring of keys from his pocket. Gaspard
seemed aghast.

"You would not open it, surely!" he cried.

"Don't worry" Carter told him. "Your lady friend will hardly know I had a
peek inside. Besides, I have a bad feeling about this, Gaspard. It is
necessary."

Carter took his skeleton key and snapped back the lock. Then he drew
open the lid. Inside the box was a mass of wood shavings and scraps of
newspaper. Carter slowly pulled the newsprint away, sheet by sheet.
Underneath he found a dead and ghastly-looking face. It was the
unfortunate face of Corbut, the missing waiter, his eyes wide open and
his mouth set into what looked like a scream.

On the other side of the trunk, Gaspard fainted.

VIII. Tracing The Trunks

Pulling more newpaper out Carter disocvered that only half of Corbut's
body was in the trunk. He decided that given the circumstances it might
be wise to leave Gaspard mercifully unconscious during the opening of
the other trunk. Which, as Carter suspected, contained the other, lower
half of Corbut's corpse.

Both trunks contained a considerable amount of blood, but had been
neatly lined with rubber material that by the look of it had been taken
from a rubber blanket and a man's heavy waterproof coat. The material
was so fitted that the trunks, when closed, would be water tight.

"The neatest job I ever saw" Carter said to himself. He then took to
resuscitating Gaspard. Wetting a damp cloth with some water from a
pitcher on the night-stand, he crouched down and lifted Gaspard's head
and wiped his face and brow.

"Come, Gaspard. Time to awake." I minute later Gaspard opened his eyes,
stared up at Carter and then down at the trunk at his feet. He but his
hand over his eyes. "Mon dieu!" he moaned, over and over. Carter pulled
him up into a standing position, then escorted the waiter over to the
bed.

When he was confident Gaspard was alert enough, he began his
questioning. "Tell my the story, Gaspard. I'm sure you know how bad this
whole thing has become. Tell me the truth. Come, out with it."

"I swear to you" moaned Gaspard, "that I know nothing about it."

Carter was about interrogate him further, this time throwing more
authority into it, when there was a knock on the door. It was Patsy,
with Harrigan in tow. Harrigan still had on his greatcoat and his top
hat. He already appeared half intoxicated, in spite of the relatively
early hour.

"Holy mother!" cried Patsy, looking into the first trunk. Harrigan dared
a peek inside the trunk, then lunged back. "So help me, I don't know
nothing about this business" he began rattling. "Nothing at all. I swear
I ain't in it. I'm tellin' yer straight. Youse don't believe I had
anything to do wid this, do yer? I'm telling yer, I don't know anything,
God's truth!"

"Calm down, Harrigan" Carter said, trying to cut off the stream of
emphatic denial. He went over to Harrigan and offered him one of his
thin cigars, then struck a match and lit it for him. The act of lighting
the cigar seemed to calm Harrigan a bit.

"Now, Harrigan. You did bring the trunks here" Carter said. "I saw you
do it."

"Lemme tell youse all about it" cried Harrigan. At that point he was so
anxious to tell that he couldn't talk fast enough. "De French leddy
struck me on me old place. You know, where I was de odder night. She
talked a kind o' dago, but I tumbled to what she was a-givin' me. This
was about half-past seven o'clock. Meet me in an hour, says she An' she
give me street an' number. It was West 57th Street. But I go there and
dere ain't no such number. Dere's nuttin' but a high board fence. But
that didn't make no difference, 'cause when I got dere, her jiblets was
a-standing on der sidewalk, waitin' for me."

"Drive over ter de corner, she says, and' turn round an' come back. So I
did it, an' when I got dare, she showed me dese two trunks, same ones
is lyin' here with… same ones. I hadn't seen 'em before that, I swear.
Den she give me dis mug's address, an' two bones for me fare, an' tole
me ter come down here, which I did, an' I wish ter Hades I hadn't, see?"

"That's a pretty good story, Harrigan" Carter said. "Patsy, go get a
policeman and bring him up to stay here with Gaspard. We need to check
this."

Patsy ran off, and soon after led a rather mystified blue-coat into the
room. On seeing Carter's badge and the contents of the trunks, he
decided to follow Carter's directions and stay with Gaspard.

"Now we'll go up to 57th Street" Carter told them.

They took Harrigan's cab, and a half hour later they had found the place
where Harrigan claimed "de Frech leddy" had delivered the trunks to him.

"I t'ought o' course she'd been fired out o' some boardin'-house" said
Harrigan. "Dere's a hash-mill dere on der right. I had an idea she'd
been trun out o' dere."

Carter examined the sidewalk at the location with the aid of a lantern.
"Clever work" he said. "There are no marks on the sidewalk. The trunks
were not dragged. The woman must be pretty strong. You say you didn't
see the trunks when you first drove up?"

"No, sir."

"Then they couldn't have been here. Where were they? Not in any of these
houses. She couldn't have got them out quick enough. Then they must have
been behind that fence."

Carter walked along the fence until he came to a little gate in it, and
walked through. "Ah, here we have tracks" he said. "It's all clear
enough now. The trunks were brought across this vacant lot from one of
the houses facing the other street."

The vacant lot was the approximate width of the three houses that stood
behind it. There were no gates in the fence between the yards of the
houses and the lot, but after a short search along the back Carter found
a wide board that could have been pulled off and replaced without much
trouble. Carter pulled away the board and walked through the opening.
They found themselves in the middle of the back yard of the middle
house.

"The trunks came from here" the detective said. "My guess is that they
lowered down in the dumb waiter to the cellar and then carried through
the vacant lot to 57th Street."

Carter turned to Patsy. "I'll leave the rest of this job to you. Find
out all you can about the central house and gather as many witnesses as
you can. Then meet me at the Superintendant's office tomorrow afternoon
at three o'clock. We're going to have a special examination into this
case."

"And then, go home, my little agent. Get yourself some warm food and a
good night's sleep. Do you hear me?"

"Right, Nicky. You won't get any arguments from me."

The special examination was held the next afternoon in the large
interview room at the station house. All of the persons connected with
the case to that point were there after having been rounded up either by
Patsy or by Carter or Chick. As such, the interview room was quite
crowded by the time Carter made his entrance. Carter took a place at the
head of the large table. Superintendent Byrnes chose to remain standing
off to the side of Carter, while Patsy took her usual place on the
window sill. The chairs around the table itself were filled with the
various witnesses and suspects. Chick stood by the door with Gallagher,
with his arms seriously across and a stern look upon his face, as if
fearful that one or another of those gathered might try to run off.

At a quarter past three o'clock Carter rapped on the table with his
knuckles, and the room soon grew quiet. Everyone in the room stared at
Carter. "The case which I have made out" Carter told them all, "is
perfectly clear. It begins with Gaspard's identification of the
prisoner, Jones."

"We know, Mr. Jones, that you were at the restaurant when the crime was
committed. Your name is on the books. In some way, which I am not now
prepared to fully explain, the waiter, Corbut, obtained a knowledge of
the crime. It was necessary for the criminal to get Corbut out of the
way."

"On the night in question I myself observed Corbut get into a cab at the
side door of the restaurant. The driver, Harrigan, testified to taking
him and another man to a point on West 57th Street. Harrigan wasn't sure
of the exact spot, but he fixed the locality in a general way."

"From that point all trace of Corbut was lost for a while. Last night,
Corbut's body was found. It had been dismembered and placed into two
travel trunks. The trunks had been delivered to Gaspard's rooming-house
by Harrigan, once again, who had been hired by a woman who met him with
the trunks on 57th. In other words, the same approximate spot where
Corbut was taken on the night of the murder, the last time he was seen
alive."

"Searching the area from where the trunks had been picked up, I
discovered that the body had been removed from a flat house on West 58th
Street. My agent questioned the people in that house. It was learned
that the third flat of the house had been occupied by a couple who,
according to witnesses, lived very quietly. According to one witness,
the man was often away."

Carter walked down the length of the table and stopped in front of a
small, bright-eyed woman wearing a grey dress and a black small bonnet.

"Mrs. Harris, when was the last time that you saw the man in question —
the man who lived in that third flat?"

Mrs. Harris jumped out of her chair. "He is right here!" she said. She
turned and pointed. "That is him! He was wearing a false beard, but I
know it was him. And there is the woman, too!"

She pointed at John Jones and his wife. There was a murmur from the
assembled group.

"This explains the disappearance of Corbut" Carter said, who at that
point began walking around the table. "Corbut was taken by way of a cab
from the restaurant to their flat on 58th. There he was murdered by
Jones and his body cut in two and put into two trunks. Jones most likely
planned to remove the trunks the next day. But his detainment by the
police prohibited that. But of course it was necessary to get rid of the
body very soon. Jones, however, knew he was being closely watched.'

"Thus the work of removing the body had to be done by the woman. And she
seems to have done it exceedingly well. Dressed as a servant, she
escaped the Jones' normal residence, stopped and hired Harrigan's cab,
and then proceeded to the 58th street residence. There, in what I admit
is a wonderful example of physical prowess, she carried the trunks from
there and across a vacant lot at the back to 57th Street. There the
trunks were picked up and delivered to Gaspard."

"Which brings us to the original crime itself. The murder of the young
woman at the cafe."

At that moment Mr. Jones, who up till then had remained perfectly calm,
uttered a horrible groan and half arose to his feet. He made as if to
say something, but then sank back onto his chair and lowered his head
into his arms on the table.

Coming back around to the head of the table, Carter had stopped in front
of Hammond, the man who had vistied him at his flat and who had admitted
to being the party in Room B. Hammond has been watching Carter during
his speech, his eyes intently fixed with great emotion. Carter stared at
Hammond. The look of growing fear upon the wretched man gradually
increased. In a matter of seconds, the man broke down completely.

"Stop! Stop! I can bear this no longer! he cried. "You shall not torture
this innocent man any longer!"

"What do you mean?" asked the Superintendent, who had moved down to
stand beside Carter.

"What I mean is the fear of disgrace has kept me silent too long! I will
confess everything. Do you think I would sit here and let an innocent
man be condemned and his wife put to torture to save myself from the
just punishment? Never! Listen to me. It was I who took that unhappy
woman to the place where she met her death. It was I who wrote that name
in the register. It was I! I, and not that innocent man, was her
companion. The waiter, Gaspard, is mistaken."

"I was the man who was in Room A!"

IX. Hammond's Story

Superintendent Byrnes came around to the head of the table. Sliding his
fingers into the top edges of his vest, he looked at Carter
apologetically and then began speaking to the assembled group.

"Well, this puts the matter into another light entirely" he said. "I
dare say this shakes the very foundation of the case against the
prisoner. Based upon Mr. Hammond's statement, it is clear that Mr. Jones
is innocent of the matter."

Carter, meanwhile, still kept his spot in front of Hammond. In fact he
seemed remarkably non-plussed by Hammond's statement and the
Superintendent's speech. He started in with his interrogation of
Hammond, almost as if nothing surprising had occurred.

"This is an extraordinary statement, Mr. Hammond" Carter said. "Have you
any evidence to support it?"

"I have ample evidence. I was seen in the company of the woman now dead,
not fifty yards from the restaurant on the night when she met her death.
I can call one of the most prominent and respected men in this city to
prove that. The Rev. Elliot Sandford."

"And why has the honorable Reverend Sanford kept silent?" Carter asked.

"I called upon him the morning after the crime" Hammond explained. "He
believed me when I asserted my innocence. He agreed to be silent as long
as his conscience would permit, for the sake of my family."

"And the dead woman? Who was she?" asked Carter.

"I have not the least idea."

"You did not know her?"

"No. Let me tell the full story. It was a chance acquaintance. I met her
on the street that afternoon. I was walking behind her on 23rd Street.
You know what wonderful hair she had. I was admiring it. Suddenly I saw
her drop her little purse. I picked it up and handed it to her, and
somehow we fell into conversation."

"Her manner mystified me. Sometimes she seemed to be laboring under some
secret grief which nearly drove her to tears. In another moment she
would be apparently as merry as a schoolgirl. In spite of her lack of
reserve something in her manner told me that she was a lady, and I did
not presume upon her confidence."

"We walked together a while. At last we found ourselves near the French
restaurant. How we came there I do not know. I paid no attention to
where we were going. T was too much fascinated by my companion."

"Suddenly she said that it was late, and that she was hungry. She
suggested that we go to dinner together there at the restaurant. I
agreed. I signed the guest-book under the first name I could think of.
We ordered dinner, but even before it arrived I began to wonder at my
companion's behavior. She paced up and down the room, and every now and
then she listened at the wall between ourselves and Room B. When I
asked her about it, she simply said that it was a foolish woman's
curiosity."

"I tried to make her sit down. I pulled her my the elbow over to the
easy-chair. As I did so I felt something hard inside her dress. I don't
know why, but I reached into her pocket and pulled the object out. It
was a pistol. She grabbed it out of my hand and set it on the table."

"Then she turned to me, and as if nothing had happened she said that
what she would really like after dinner is to see an entertaining play.
Something humorous. She pleaded with me, saying that she was very sad
recently at things and that a good play would really lift her spirits.
She took my hand and gave my such a wonderful smile that I'm afraid my
will power collapsed."

"So you complied with her wishes? Even though you already had your
suspicions about her?" Carter asked him.

"Yes. I took my hat and left. I walked quickly down to the theater
district. I found a play I thought looked enjoyable, and bought the
tickets. Then I hurried back to the restaurant. I opened the door of
Room A. I think you know what I found there. The young woman was dead,
lying on the easy-chair, the pistol by her side. She had obviously
killed herself."

"And that is everything, really. I rushed out with the intention of
calling for help. I saw the man Gaspard at the desk. But then, my
courage failed. I ran out of the restaurant."

Hammond finished his story, and a sigh ran around the room. Carter could
read relief in all the faces. The mystery was solved. The innocent man
was no longer to suffer under unjust suspicion.

"And then you came to me at my home" Carter said. "You had read in the
newspapers about the crime, and the suspicions against Mr. Jones."

"Yes. And when Gaspard identified me as the man in Room B" Hammond
continued, "I thought I saw a chance to save Mr. Jones very easily. And
so I told a falsehood."

"It was a foolish thing to do" Carter said, pulling his chin. "The truth
is always best. If we had known at the outset what we know now, Mr.
Jones might have been spared a great deal of trouble. But since the woman
apparently committed suicide — "

"Hold on!" said the Superintendent. "How do you account for the murder
of Corbut?"

"He must have found the body and robbed it" Carter said, pacing a bit in
front of the group. "There was the mark of a ring on her finger, but the
ring was gone. Corbut no doubt absconded with the ring. He engaged
Harrigan's cab. He was decoyed to the flat on 58th by someone, and was
murdered there and disposed of."

"Of course, neither Mr. nor Mrs. Jones had anything to do with the
horrible crime" Carter said. He walked up to the Byrnes. "And now,
Superintendent, only one little detail remains to be settled. And that
is a mere trifle. We still have Gaspard's testimony that he saw Mr.
Jones at the restaurant. If Mr. Jones would only explain how he happened
to be at that restaurant, the case would be clear."

A great light of hope had shone in Jones' face while Hammond was telling
his story, and when Carter finished up his comments the prisoner nearly
laughed for joy.

"It's true! I was there!" he said. "My wife and I dined in room B, and — "

"Fool!" exclaimed Mrs. Jones, in a terrible voice. "Don't you see that
this is a trap?"

Everyone in the room looked at Mr. and Mrs. Jones. And then, failing
anything more from them, looked to Carter for an explanation of the
matter.

"That is true, I am afraid" Carter said, a wisp of a smile on his face.
"It was a trap, and the wretch has fallen into it. Jones, you have put
the noose around your own neck."

"No! It is a lie!" exclaimed Jones, freeing himself from the woman's
grasp. "I tell you that I was in Room B. The crime, if there was a
crime at all, was committed in Room A."

"No, it wasn't" Carter said. "It was committed in Room B."

X. The True Story of Mrs. John Jones

Jones fell back into his chair. The woman bit her lip till the blood
spurted out. Then, suddenly, the color left her face. She sat up
straight, and stared out in front of her, the look in her eyes quite
vacant.

"Yes" Carter said to the group. "We have at last straightened out the
matter of the two rooms and their occupants. As to the spot where the
crime was committed, I have not been in doubt from the first. You will
remember that the fatal wound was visible on both the woman's temple and
the back of her head. The bullet passed entirely through. But where was
the bullet? That was the question which I asked myself at once."

"I could not find it in Room A, where the body lay. Then I tried Room B,
with no better success. At this point Chick took up the hunt, and
carried it to the end. The bullet was in neither room. It was just
between them."

"In the room there was a door which I found fastened upon both sides.
This morning Chick upon my instructions returned to the restaurant.
He opened both latches to the door. Once open, he found the bullet,
stuck in the old, soft wood of the frame."

"Since the bullet was covered when the door was shut, that could only
mean that the door was open when the shot was fired. The position of the
bullet showed that the shot was fired from Room B. The woman, then, for
some reason, had got into that room. She had unlocked the door on her
side. But in order to get the door open she would have had to induce the
occupants of Room B to unlock the latch on their side also."

"And now that question becomes, why did she do this? Of course there is
only one answer. Jealousy was her motive. The man in Room B was her
husband. And the woman who had seduced Hammond so easily, and who was
eventually found murdered in Room A, was Mrs. John Jones."

Everyone in the interrogation room began talking at once, the shock of
the revelation was so deep. Carter waited until the noise had died down,
then continued.

"Mrs. Jones had no doubt suspected her husband's affair. Perhaps she
discovered that her husband was going to dine at the French restaurant
with the other woman. Or perhaps she merely followed her husband and saw
him go in with his lady friend. In her jealousy, she had somehow
procured a revolver at an earlier point in time. She was distraught.
Being inexperienced, she probably had no idea exactly how to proceed, or
even of what she was going to do. She walked along 28th Street. Now
perhaps her meeting with Mr. Hammond was a ruse. Or perhaps it happened
quite by accident and she decided to take advantage of the situation. In
any case it was a relatively simple ploy to draw Hammond in the
direction of the restaurant and, once out front of it, to get him to
take her to dinner there in another of the dining rooms."

"Once in the dining room with Mr. Hammond, she contemplated what she
would do. She listened at the wall, and determined that it was in fact
her husband in the adjoining room. She noticed the latched door between
the two rooms. At that point, she made up her mind. She sent Hammond out
on the pretext of getting tickets."

"What followed can be easily understood. By some means she got her
husband in the other room to unbolt the latch on his own side. Once in
Room B, she drew the pistol with the intent of shooting either her
faithless husband or his companion."

Carter by this time had circled around to where Jones was sitting. "But
you grabbed the pistol, didn't you, Mr. Jones? And then you shot her
with it. After that, you carried her back in to Room A. You laid her out
on the easy-chair, placing the revolver on the floor under her hand to
make it look like a suicide."

"But then, something unexpected happened. The waiter Corbut came into
the room. You bribed him to keep silent. You promised him a large sum if
he would keep quiet, giving him your wife's ring as collateral. All he
had to do was to meet you on 57th street later that evening to claim his
reward. He was greedy. He agreed to all of it and fled. After that you
locked the latch to Room A and went out into the hall and returned to
the other dining room. There you locked that latch, too."

"But that is where things started to unwind. When you left Room A and
went out into the hall, you saw Gaspard there. You no doubt assumed that
he could identify you as coming out of Room A. What you couldn't have
know then or since is that while poor Gaspard certainly did see two men
that evening, two identifiable faces, he really was very much confused
about who came out of which room. My little associate was right when she
mentioned that Gaspard was a little quick with the identifications. But
it wasn't as she thought. Gaspard wasn't lying. Having run into Gaspard
on a prior case, and having been with him on the night of the murder, I
know the way his mind works — which is to say at times not too well.
And I hope that I do not insult you by saying that, Gaspard. But it is
the truth."

Gaspard looked at Carter, and then shrugged. "That is fine, monsieur. I
know I am an idiot."

"Well, in any case. The two faces kept going back and forth in Gaspard's
mind. Which face came from Room A? And which from Room B? Poor Gaspard,
he kept getting the two confused. It was Hammond he saw coming out of
Room A that night. He saw you too, Mr. Jones, but assumed you were from
Room B. Which in fact you were, at least originally. By the next day,
however, it was your face that he thought he saw from Room A, and
Hammond's from Room B. I kept the possibility of that confusion in mind
later, as I was putting things together."

"Matters became even more complicated the next day. Unknown to you, Mr.
Jones, Hammond had unwittingly signed the name John Jones on the
register. As you told your business associate, your name is a common
one, always getting you into cases of mistaken identity. But here it was
again, come back to haunt you. As you pointed out, a murderer would
hardly sign a guest book in their own name. But that is not always true.
Sometimes, in a crime of sudden passion, prior acts suddenly turn out to
be mistakes. The fact that you signed the guest book would not
absolutely guarantee your innocence. Especially in conjunction with
Gaspard's identification. And the fact that you did not in fact sign the
register, but Mr. Hammond, would hardly help your case by that point."

"So you had no choice but to discredit Gaspard somehow. Eventually, you
sent the two trunks to his flat. Along with other less gruesome
deliveries, no doubt paid for in cash but using Gaspard's name, that
would make it look as if Gaspard had come in to money recently and might
be leaving the country. To complete the ruse, you concocted a story
about Gaspard and a mythical French woman. No doubt a few coins in the
hands of other waiters at the restaurant helped loosen their tongues. As
the saying goes, rumor volat. They probably had no idea they were
spreading lies."

"Meanwhile, your mistress, who bore at least a passing resemblance to
your wife, assumed her identity. With your wife apparently alive and
well, and with Corbut's murder thrown quite literally up at Gaspard's
doorstep, anything that Gaspard would say against you would not be taken
seriously. With luck, Gaspard might even be the ultimate scapegoat for
your crime and be accused of the murders."

"As for Harrington, he was a loose end, too; but a drunken one. You
didn't have to worry much about him. Being a drunk, his statements were
almost automatically dismissed. I myself was prone to dismiss them at
first. But even a drunk may sometimes see the world clearly. And when
Harrington reported the story about the trunks, and the supposed French
woman who was behind it, I believed him. And that so-called French
woman, of course, was your mistress, Mr. Jones. The woman who sits next
to you at this table."

"This is all absurd" said the false Mrs. Jones. "I am this man's true
wife! I don't care what kind of delusions you come up with."

"Of course you are his wife. Or should I say, his second wife. That was
the one thing about this that bothered me the most, ever since your
return from Albany. No matter how close the resemblance between you and
the first Mrs. Jones, you would never have passed muster with her real
relatives. And you certainly couldn't have lied about being in Albany.
That would have been discovered. The only conclusion, therefor, was that
you were in fact who you said you were, a woman from Albany who had
married John Jones. Who the first Mrs. Jones' relatives were, I don't
know. But I suppose that would be easy to find out. And we will, of
course, find it out. And they will identify their relative's body as the
first Mrs. John Jones."

"But perhaps your biggest mistake, Mr. Jones, was in loosening the rope
on the roof of your flat and trying to kill me. I knew at that point
that your wife was not at home. And it certainly wasn't your servant
girl that did it. That left you. With that, it was as if all the various
possibilities coalesced into one very good probability. But in order to
be sure, I had to question Mr. Hammond again. I had suspected when he
first came to me that he was lying about something. But I didn't know
why. So this afternoon, before coming here, I interrogated Mr. Hammond
once again. And this time he told me the true story, basically what he
has told everyone here this afternoon. It was then that I conceived an
idea to use his testimony to trick a confession. It would take some
care, but I felt it could be done. And it worked."

"Well, Superintendent. Is it all clear now?"

"It is clear as a bell, Mr. Carter" Brynes said. "But there was one
little detail that did come to my mind."

"And what was that, Superintendent?"

"Well, how did Corbut get the cab? You yourself stated that you had seen
him jump into it in a hurry. And that the cab was hired earlier in the
evening. How was it that Corbut got into the cab that night?"

"Excellent point. I'm glad you raised it. The answer is that Mr. Jones
hired the cab earlier in the evening. At that point, of course, no crime
had been committed. Jones was simply hiring a cab in advance to pick him
and the second Mrs. Jones up at the restaurant at a time when they would
have concluded their dinner. But needing to get rid of Corbut in a
hurry, he told him to wait at the side entrance, and that there would be
a cab along in a short while. As for the second Mrs. Jones hiring
Harrigan the second time, that was no doubt due to the fact that they
knew he would be a bad witness. What worked once would work again. Very
simple."

Superintendent Byrnes nodded. "Yes. It fits. I will have Mr. Jones
charged with the murder of Mrs. Jones. And the — uh, other Mrs. Jones
charged as an accessory to the deed."

"Wait a moment!" Mrs. Jones cried out suddenly. Everyone in the room
turned to look at her. "You have made a grave error" she said. "It was
not John who killed the woman. It was I!"

"Oh?" Carter said. "Perhaps you would care to elaborate?"

"I killed her. I rushed at her, and we fought over the pistol. I grabbed
it, and then I shot her. My husband only took her body into the other
room. When Corbut discovered him, I ran in and set about bribing him. I
lured him to our flat. And I killed him, too. And then I cut him in
half, and put him in the trunks and sent them to Gaspard."

"A ghastly crime!" the Superintendent said.

"A crime of love!" the other Mrs. Jones wailed. "I was more truly his
wife than that other. For five years I loved John, even agreed to share
that love with another. If John had divorced her, he would have lost his
position at the firm. So I accepted what we had together. Knowing that
in his heart that I was his true wife. And I did it out of love!"

"And because I love him, I now tell the truth to save him. Even more —
because I love him, I will shed more blood! He shall not see me
imprisoned or condemned to death! I will spare him that pain!"

With that the second Mrs. Jones stood up suddenly. She reached quickly
into her purse and from it pulled a six-inch blade. She held the knife
high up. For a brief second the silver blade glittered in the late
afternoon light before it headed for its target. Chick and several
others rushed to stop her. But by the time they reached her the blade
had done its worst.

Mrs. Jones lay on the floor, bleeding, with Mr. Jones crouched over her.
He wept bitterly, holding his hand over the wound on her stomach, his
hand becoming more and more reddened as the life poured out of her. And
then, a few moments later, her eyes went eternally blank.

THE END

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