tells the story of an intrigue which involves a bank's thousands and a woman's heart, and induces a detective to change his calling.
ARCHIE P. McKISHNIE
AT PRECISELY ten o'clock on a Saturday morning in late September, the marble portals of the Strathcona bank were thrown open to business.
As the city clock ceased booming the hour, Anson Horlick, the young manager, alighted from his car and, black bag and sycamore stick in hand, ascended the marble steps of the imposing building. For a moment he paused, as was his daily custom, to raise admiring eyes to the face of a marble effigy gleaming up intently from a bewildering mass of gothic architecture; a lean, strong face into which the sculptor had marvellously instilled a lofty softness of purpose. That face in stone was, and always would be, Horlick’s inspiration for the day. It was the face of one who had risen from obscurity to the heights. Horlick, too, had risen from obscurity.
He entered the bank and paused, as was his habit, to sweep the interior of the magnificent money mart wdth narrowed eyes.
In their cages each human unit of a perfect system was working smoothly and harmoniously as the oiled bearing of a wheel.
Horliek went on slowly, noiselessly, pausing, as was his wont, for a brief moment before accountant or ledgerkeeper to whisper a soft good morning.
This morning he stood for a moment beside the wicket of Jordan, the young paying-teller. The latter had just finished counting a sheaf of notes before him. There were several piles of notes of different denominations on the shelf behind. Horliek pointed to one of the yellow, compact packages.
“How much in that, Mr. Jordan?” he asked.
“Twenty notes of a thousand each, sir.”
The teller crossed over to the receiving teller’s cage and handed a package of bills through the communicating wicket. “Fives, please,” he said, and, fingers linked in the steel mesh partition, waited while the other teller counted out the money.
When he returned to his post the first of the morning’s customers were arriving: Horliek was entering his private office.
As Jordan resumed his task, a tall, athletic young man entered the bank and went directly to the paying teller’s cage. The latter’s pre-occupied eyes read the check thrust before him.
“How’ll you have it?” he asked.
The teller examined the check again, smoothed its creases, and counted out the money.
As he pushed it through to the other their eyes met and a look of understanding flashed between them.
“It’s done, Swallow,” said the teller, casually.
THE man outside the cage was counting his money. His lips did not move as he spoke.
“Bull Durham’s in town and on the job. Best make your get-away at noon. I’ll meet you—you know where.” A strained look came into the teller’s eyes. “I’ll follow your lead, Swallow,” he said, and the other turned away.
Between the hours of ten and eleven business hummed as usual in the Stratheona bank. A steady stream of customers came and went, silently, in harmony with the imposing hush which was of the institution a part.
At eleven-thirty a big man wearing a square-topped
derby, square-toed shoes and a massive watch-charm, dangling conspicuously from a heavy chain stretched from pocket to pocket of his waistcoat, entered the bank and sauntered toward the manager’s office, peering casually in at the workers behind the cages as he passed.
In front of the teller’s cage he paused, and stepping over to the long writing table, drew out a blank check and proceeded, apparently, to fill it in. As he presented it to the teller, several other customers drew in behind him awaiting their turn.
Jordan picked up the check and examined it. Across it was scrawled in a heavy, uneven hand. “You can’t pull it. Urn here to spoil your little game.”
“Can you cash that for me?”
Jordan looked into a pair of hard eyes set close together in a big face whose wide mouth was sinisterly curved in a grin.
His manner was suavity itself as he answered, “Just have the ledger-keeper mark it, please.”
With his pencil he made a faint notation on the margin of the check and handed it back.
The big man withdrew to the table again, adjusted a pair of steel-rimmed glasses and examined the check.
He read, “You can’t spoil anything but atmosphere.”
With a stifled growl, Detective Durham swung about and strode to Horliek’s private office. He entered it unceremoniously.
This was at eleven thirty-five.
At twelve o’clock Durham, a hurt, baffled look upon his red face, made his re-appearance and, without a look to right or left, stamped angrily across the flagged floor and out through the marble portals of the building to the street.
At exactly twelve-fifteen; word was received at police
headquarters that Jordan, teller of the Strathcona Bank, had absconded with twenty thousand dollars of the bank’s funds.
CROWN ATTORNEY HUGHSTIS laid down his morning paper, as his office door opened to admit a visitor.
“By appointment,” wheezed that gentleman, as he sank into a chair.
“Ah, Detective Durham!”
“That same; headquarters, Montreal. Been retained by Mr. Horlick to clear up this bank robbery. You’ve heard about it, of course?”
Hughstis pointed to the paper.
The detective nodded grimly.
“Pretty sleek ducks, them two; made a clean sweep in broad daylight, they did. You gotta hand it to ’em; they’re smooth all right.”
The Crown Attorney lifted his eyebrows.
“Two?” he asked. “The paper mentions but one, the teller, Jordan.”
“I know. I read that baby-grand effort of some knoweverythin’ reporter, too; as usual, it’s wrong. I’m tellin’ you, there were two of ’em in on this deal. Now wait a minute and I’ll tell you why I know what I know. First, might I ask how well are you acquainted with the manager of the Strathcona bank, sir?”
“I know Mr. Horlick intimately,” Hughstis answered. ‘‘I’ve been in pretty close touch with him for some time.” “Then, sir,” saidthedetectivedecidedly, “I don’t havta tell you that he’s a queer customer. He seems to believe that every man is honest and willin’ to do what’s right, if given half a chance.”
“Yes,” said Hughstis, “Mr. Horlick seems a fairminded man. His reputation for honesty is well known to his business associates.”
“But,” broke in Durham, hitching forward his chair, “he don’t know human nature.”
Hughstis smiled. “I’m not so sure about that,” he said. “Well, then, if he was so danged shrewd at readin’ men, why didn’t he get the proper slant on this sly guy who’s left the Strathcona Bank
just twenty thousand short?
Tell me that?”
“No man is infallible,” murmured the attorney.
“Allright. Here then. Supposin’ that Horlick knew he was placin’ an ex-convict in ■charge of his clients’ money?
Would you say that he had any Tight to pit his judgment against that of a man, myself, for instance, who made it his ■duty to warn him?”
The Crown Attorney pondered the question.
“Mr. Durham,” he said,
“you will doubtless be surprised to learn that Mr. Horlick asked me this same question, before engaging young Jordan as teller.”
“The devil he did!” Surprise galvanized the detective’s heavy face into frozen stupor.
“And you, sir, of course, advised against it?”
Hughstis shook his head.
“No, I advised giving Jordan a chance.”
DURHAM groaned. "Oh,”
he sighed, “what’s theused tryin’ to make you cock-sure fellers see that these crooks just can’t go straight?”
The attorney smiled.
“I get your point of view.
Mr. Durham,” he said. “I don’t pretend to be infallible and perhaps I have made a mistake in Jordan.”
“Perhaps, you say? Well, that’s good. There’s no perhaps about it that I can see, sir.
Why, man alive, this smooth guy has gone with the bank’s money, hasn’t he? Horlick trusted him and you backed Horlick. Now, you say perhaps you made a mistake in him.”
Hughstis’ grey eyes met the accusing eyes of the detective.
“Hold on,” said Durham, “I know what you’re goin’ to say.
That Jordan didn’t accept this trust without first confessin' to Horlick that he had served time for embezzlement. Grandstand stuff, Mr. Hughstis, and
little Jordan was the chap to get it over right. One of the stalest tricks in the crook-trade; Horlick swallered it, as of course he would. It fitted right in to his ‘love your neighbor—go and sin no more’ creed. Says he: ‘Young man, you have erred. You are penitent. You have learned at great cost that honesty is the best policy. Go in there and take charge of the bank’s money.’ ”
“And now,” Durham tensed his bulky frame, “supposin’ we get down to cases—on this here robbery. Don’t mind me askin’ a few questions, I hope?”
“Not at all,” replied the attorney pleasantly.
“First off, did you take the trouble to prove up your Jordan’s little say-so about himself?”
“I secured full information from a Montreal detective agency concerning the—affair—”
“Crime,” corrected Durham. “We’ll call a spade a spade, if you don’t mind. You found this crook hadn’t given you no bum steer—I mean he hadn’t held anythin’ back?”
“I learned that Jordan had told us a straight story.” “Umph!” The detective frowned thoughtfully.
He got up from his chair and, cramming his hands in his coat pocket, took a turn up and down the room.
“Understan’,” he said, pausing before the attorney, “I ain’t tryin’ to cross-question you, Mr. Hughstis. I don’t want you to get the idea that I doubt your judgment, generally speakin’. The way you handled that Milligan kidnappin’ affair and brought them police-grafters under the light is proof enough for yours truly that you know your business. But, sir, listen here. I don’t think you’ve got the proper slant on these here go-get-em chaps, like this crook Jordan. Why, sir, just take this feller, Swallow, now.”
Hughstis sat erect, “What about the Swallow?” he, asked sharply. “I thought we were speaking of Jordan.” “Which, if you allow me to say it, brings us to that clever gent I’ve just mentioned,” grated Durham. “You think the Swallow’s runnin’ straight?”
“I know it,” said Hughstis firmly.
“Maybe you’d like my opinion of the Swallow?”
“I can’t see that it matters,” returned the attorney, “but state it if you care to.”
“I was about to ask another question. Here it is. What did the Swallow tell you when you asked him if he thought Jordan would keep in the clear if given a chance?” The Crown Attorney looked up wonderingly.
“How did you know that I asked the Swallow any such question?”
DURHAM chuckled as he resumed his seat. “I’m simply guessin’ that you did.”
“Well,” Hughstis confessed, “you’re right. I did.” “And what did he say?”
“He advised giving Jordan his chance.”
“Of course he would,” exulted Durham. “Talk about your brotherhoods! Say, these underworld wolves’ll fight each other tooth and nail, but they’re a pack when it comes to fightin’ law and order, as of course you know.” Hughstis’ head lifted. His eyes were hard and level as they sought the little, suspicious ones of the manhunter.
“We won’t discuss the Swallow,” he said quietly. “He has more than redeemed any criminal mistakes he may have made by his splendid work in bringing the graftrings of this city to justice.”
A look of malignant joy overspread the heavy features of the detective. “Lord!” he breathed, almost admiringly, “has he got you that badly fooled, Mr. Hughstis?”
“Just what do you mean, Durham?”
“Why, sir,” the detective’s manner became apologetic, “I mean it was this here Swallow who framed the Strathcona bank robbery. I’m sorry to have to bust up your belief. But the fact stands that the Swallow is in this thing clean up to his neck, as I’ll prove to your satisfaction before to-morrow night.”
If this intelligence surprised the Crown-Attorney, he gave no evidence of it. It was the calm, inscrutable face of the jurist that turned to the detective.
“You surprise me,” was all he said.
“Yes, sir,” blustered the detective, “and I reckon I’ll
surprise others before I’m through. Gosh hang it, Mr. Hughstis,” he burst out, “what the devil’s the matter with people, anyhow? Why can’t you and Chief Timbers and others prove up in your judgment of this man Swallow, same as in other things? I’m tellin’ you that bird drew the blue print of this thing. Jordan’s a crook all right, but he wouldn’t have had the nerve to pull this fool play alone. Not,” he added, “but that he wouldn’t have skidded by himself sooner or later, y’understand; once a thief, always a thief. That’s my sum-up after fifteen years of crook cornerin’.”
Hughstis sat looking away. “If you’re so sure the Swallow is mixed up in this robbery,” he asked, “why don’t you arrest him?”
THE detective thumped his fist on the table. “Don’t you worry,” he growled. “I’ll arrest him when the time comes, all hunky. I’m playin’ wary, Mr. Hughstis. That’s me, old Treadeasy Bull Durham, I’m called. Maybe when I’m goose-shootin’ I don’t kill the leader till I’ve a second bird in range. Get me? If I darbied the Swallow now, I just might lose Jordan—and the money. Get my slant?”
“I see,” nodded Hughstis. “You bet you do,” cried Durham elatedly, “and so does the Swallow.”
“What’s that?” Hughstis came suddenly out of his abstraction.
“I say the Swallow knows it too. He senses that the jig’s up. He knows me and my record. He’s fairly throwin’ himself in my way hopin’ I’ll lose my head and pick him up. Oh, he’s clever all right. Why, only this mornin’ that crook crossed the street so’s to meet me face to face. And what do you think he said to me?”
“I’m curious to know, Durham.”
“Well, sir, he looked me up and down, and says he, ‘Bull, you’re a cracker, I’ve gotta hand it to you.’
“ ‘For why?’ I asks, dallyin’ so’s he won’t guess my lay.
“ ‘For guessin’ me out the way you have,’ he answers.
“ ‘Come ag’in’, I says—y’see he’d sprung somethin’. ‘Come ag’in, Swallow: just what do you mean?’
“ ‘Bull,’ he says, ‘there’s no use tryin’ to throw a
clever go-getter like you. Y ou’re no easy mark like Milligan or Berlin.’ he says.
“ ‘You’re not so sure of that as you’re goin’ to be,’ I shoots back,
‘and I’m tellin’ you so now.’
“He froze then, as I expected he would. ‘I don’t know a thing,’ he says.
“ ‘Oh, yes, you do, Swallow,’ I comes back, ‘Yrou know two things and know ’em well. Y^ou know where Jordan is, for one, and where that bank money is for another.’
Durham paused, smiling, as he lit a cigar.
“And then?” asked the Crown Attorney.
“Why, then he caved, Mr. Hughstis, just as I thought he would. No,
he didn’t confess anythin’—at least, not in words. He’s too foxy for that.
He handed me a brain-rocker though, swift delivered and clean placed.
“ ‘Bull,’ he says, ‘supposin’ I know all you insinuate. If I was to show you Jordan and lead you to the money, would I go free?’
“ ‘Y'ou would—nit,' I answers,
‘ ’cause you’re goin’ to show me both them objects and there ain’t goin to be no condition attached, either.”
Hughstis reached for his cigarette case.
“Do you think it wise to put a man of whose guilt you are convinced, on guard that way?” he asked.
The detective’s eyes blazed.
“D’ye suppose I was goin’ to fall for his King’s evidence bunkum?” he cried, wonderingly. “Not to-day, nor yet to-morrow, I don’t. I’m too old a bird to be caught by salt.
Supposin’ I agreed to the Swallow’s proposition. What then? This.
He throws his pal cold and lets himself be gathered in as an accessory.
Allright. What happens then?
“I say, ‘Now, Swallow, where’s that money?’ And what does he say?
He says: ‘Bull, you’re just a poor
fish, after all. Honest, I didn’t think you would be so easy?’ That’s what he says. And what can I do? Nothin’. I havta take my medicine.”
DURHAM leaned across the table, tapping its polished surface with a stubby finger.
“Then, sir, there’s a trial. This crook Jordan pleads guilty. He knows he’ll likely get ten years in Kingston ‘Pen.’ but what’s ten years when there’s his half of twenty thousand dollars waitin’ to welcome him at the end of his time. Besides , a ten year sentence won’t mean much more’n five, the way things are run now.
“And how about his fellow-crook, the Swallow? Lord, sir, can’t you hear that gent goin’ into the box and tellin’ his own story in his own smooth way? Here ’tis, in a nutshell : This crook Jordan has come to him and confided his plan to nab twenty thousand dollars of the Strathcona Bank’s money. Jordan’s got to have a helpin’ hand, see? Well, the Swallow listens and pretends to agree. Get it? Prelends to agree. He sees a way of circumventing a desperate criminal and, as in the case of Milligan and Berlin, assistin’ the police to keep law and order.
“Can’t you see him, sir, standin’ there, smilin’ his frank, open smile on judge and jury. Can’t you hear him sayin’ in his own persuasive manner that he agreed to Jordan’s proposal because he believed it was the one way he could best serve the law. Had he refused, Jordan would have selected another helper from the clever yeggmen he knows. Of course, he could have gone to the police and denounced Jordan. The result would have been nothin’ more than the teller’s discharge, which would have left him free to contrive some other scheme to secure the bank’s funds.
“ ‘So,’says the Swallow, T pretended to fall for the lay. Jordan was to conceal the money on his person and leave the bank at noon. I was to meet him at a certain spot, and place him in safe hidin’.
“ ‘This plan was carried out to the letter. Jordan came to me at the appointed place. I asked him if he had the
money. He told me that, fearin’ detection on the way over, he had hid the money in a place where it couldn’t possibly be discovered. I at once saw that Jordan had never intended playin’ straight with me. He was usin’ me for a stool-pigeon. But, gentlemen, to have asked for an accountin’ then would have been fatal to my plan. I let him think that I believed him.
“ ‘Mr. Horlick had placed the case in charge of Detective Durham. To him I explained the part I had played and the reason. I begged him to be patient for a day or two. Jordan was weakenin’ and would tell me where the money was concealed.
“ ‘Imagine my surprise, gentlemen, when Durham,
having ascertained from me where Jordan was bein’ kept under cover, immediately arrested me as an accessory to the crime. The result is that Jordan has been found, but the bank funds are still missin’.’ ” Durham, with a prodigious sigh, slumped back in his chair. “And that,-! Mr. Hughstis, is exactly what’ll happen if I lose my head and gather this Swallow now. No jury is goin’ to convict him as an accomplice in this crime. He has been clever enough to pave the way to his coupe by the grand-stand stuff he’s been playin’ in helpin’ to gather this city’s police-grafters into the fold. But,” the detective’s big fist smacked the palm of his hand, “it’s been grand-stand stuff, all of it, and I’m goin’ to show that crook up for just what he is. If I don’t, I shed my shield and go into market gardenin’.
leaned back in his chair and locked his fingers about his knee.
“Mr. Durham,” he said, “you have the reputation of being a pretty shrewd detective and I have no doubt you are sure you have the right line on the Swallow now. But let me tell you something: other clever detectives have made a mistake in him. Milligan, who hated him, and who tried to railroad him into jail, is one. You know what happened to Milligan, also to Berlin, who tried much the same game. They’re both serving time now. No, wait,” as Durham started up in protest. “I know you aren’t trying anything of that nature on the Swallow; you’re simply following your own line of deduction, which is that Jordan has a confederate, and that confederate is the Swallow.”
“But, Mr. Hughstis,” cried Dur
ham, “isn’t it as plain as the nose on your face that he is? Wasn’t him and Jordan as thick as mush on a plate? I guess yes. And see here, maybe this is somethin’ you don’t know. The girl, the Swallow married recently, and the girl Jordan is so sweet on are friends, too.”
He leaned forward, nodding his big head sagely. “Begin to see any light now?”
“I confess I do not,” returned the attorney.
“All right, we’ll lift the blind a little higher. Young Jordan had a rival, wealthy, good-lookin’. Who was he?” Hughstis shook his head.
Durham ground out the name and sat back chuckling. Hughstis looked slightly bored.
“Why bring the young lady in on this? he asked. “Do you mean to insinuate, Durham, that she also is a party to the crime?”
“Me?’ Durham drew himself up with a jerk.
“There’s two things I never do, Mr. Hughstis. I never insinuate anything and I never show my sleeve-card till the big show-down. What I’m thinkin’, I’m keepin’ to myself for the time bein’.”
The Crown Attorney hid a smile behind his hand. Ordinarily he detested a conceited man but the conceit of this one, before him, was so much a part of the man himself, he was finding it amusing.
“Mr. Durham,” he said, “I happen to know the young lady of whom you have just spoken. She is the niece of my friend, Judge McDool. It is absurd to entertain any doubts as to her honesty.”
“Excuse me, sir,” Durham returned with dignity, “but have I said that I entertained such doubts?”
“And I’ll go further than that. I’ll say right here that I believe she is honest; but—”
He tapped the table with his fingers. “The girl’s hypnotized. She’s head-over-heels in love with this crook, Jordan. When a woman’s in love, she’ll do anythin’.”
Hughstis arose abruptly and walked to the window. Durham’s eyes followed him triumphantly.
“Mr. Hughstis,” he said, “I know the Swallow framed this steal and that Jordan followed his lead. I know that the Swallow has Jordan and the twenty thousand hidden somewhere in this city. I don’t know that this young woman we’ve just mentioned helped in the frame-up in any way—and I don’t know that she didn’t, either. I’m just sayin’ here that it won’t surprise me a whole lot to find that young Jordan has used her. You’re about to ask me what makes me think Jordan exercises a baleful influence over her. I’ll tell you why I think it—because she refused Mr. Horlick’s offer of marriage to stick to this crook; that’s why.”
“Who told you this?” asked Hughstis sharply.
“Who else but Horlick himself. He was non-committal enough, but I forced him to tell it. A man in my business has to slash on the raw sometimes; it pays.”
“And what is Mr. Horlick’s attitude towards Jordan?”
Durham banged his fist on the table. “A damn-fool attitude, sir, if you’ll pardon forceful language. He actually defends the fellow.”
“And you saw Mr. Horlick—where?”
“In his home, last night. I called unexpectedly. He was in his den surrounded by a lot of fool things he’s collected in other lands. Antiques, he calls ’em.”
“Mr. Horlick has made a hobby of collecting antiques,” said Hughstis absently.
Durham snorted. “Well, he’s got some I wouldn’t want to sleep in the same room with, that’s all. He showed me a stick, some Grand Mogul of Egypt or Turkey had given him, inoffensive lookin’ enough, but lord! a man with that stick could walk down this street any night and commit more murders than the police could count, let alone trace.”
Hughstis raised his brows.
“You see, sir, that stick’s really a weapon. There’s a tiny button just beneath the handle. Press it and a spring inside the stick is released and a seven inch stiletto of blue steel shoots out from the ferrule with the force of a bullet. He actually drove it through a thick book right before my eyes.”
Hughstis smiled as the detective nervously wiped his face on his handkerchief.
“The stick’s safe enough in Mr. Horlick’s keeping, I imagine,” he said. “What else did he show you?”
Durham shrugged. “Oh, a lot of silly things. He seemed bent on keepin’ me from holdin’ him down to answering questions. He had a club bag there; just an ordinary lookin’ one, same’s any man might carry. It was on the floor near my chair. Havin’ pretty big feet, I toed it out of the way—and what do you suppose happened? It sprang open. I guess I looked my wonder ’cause Horlick laughed. He explained that he had picked up the bag in Trinidad. It’s another contraption of the devil. He touched it with his toe and it shut up again as silent as a whisper. I tried to get him to tell me some things—but all the information I got was that he was in sympathy with this crook Jordan.”
Durham bit the end from a cigar and, rising, stamped to the door.
“Mr. Hughstis,” he said, his hand on the knob, “if you’ll be at the Strathcona bank at ten o’clock to-morrow mornin’, I’ll show you the two birds who tried somethin’ they couldn’t quite finish. I’ve passed the same word to Mr. Horlick.”
He peered through the cigar-smoke at Hughstis and, as though pleased with the expression on the attorney’s face, chuckled.
“Well, good day, sir. See you at the big show-down.”
FOR the last five blocks the Swallow had been cognizant of the fact that he was being followed; who his shadower was, he could guess pretty accurately. He passed swiftly down the street and, ducking into an alley, leaped a low fence and entered an empty building through a basement window.
Climbing the stairs to the ground floor, he entered a big, dark room.
“That you, Swallow?” a voice spoke cautiously.
“Yes, Bobby, boy. Switch on a light.”
Next moment a flood of pale yellow light dimly swept the room. On a dilapidated couch in one corner a young man sat crouched, nursing his slim chin in his hands. He raised a haggard face to the Swallow, haunted eyes questioning.
The Swallow shook his head. “I’ve had a talk with Durham,” he said. “He seems to have certain unchangeable opinions concerning you and myself.”
“What’s he going to do?” asked young Jordan, fearfully. “Make a pinch, so he says.”
Something like a groan came from the lips of the other. “I told you the game was too deep—” he began, but the Swallow spoke authoritatively.
“Keep quiet. The deeper the game, the more excitement.”
He crossed to a corner of the room and lifted a loose board from the floor. When he returned to the table he carried a neat kit of burglar-tools.
Continued on page 66
Continued from page 18
“Little souvenirs,” he smiled, in answer to the other’s look.
“What are you up to now?” asked Jordan.
The Swallow shrugged. “In about ten minutes, Bobby,” he said quietly, “Durham and his herd are going to rush this place. It’s going to heighten old Bull’s
ff ing of elation to find me garbed and hded for a job.”
ordan sprang to his feet. “You nian—?” he gasped.
‘That we’re cornered? Looks like it. Ij’ve got Durham guessed right, he hasplet me out of his sight; and, of course, h|ll have plenty of help. What’ll we do, rke a fight or throw up our hands?” Iordan smiled wanly. “Our best move i/o try and get away.”
The Swallow considered, his head bent, Lening.
‘You’re right,” he said, as a scratching rse came from the stairway. “Come cl through this window.”
IE RAN forward and raised the sash.
At the same moment the door ashed open, and Detective Durham folIved by four policemen leaped into the iom.
F'Standstill, Swallow!" ordered Durham, nd hold your hands away from your
He turned to one of the officers. “Just d that bird over for hardware, Bill, then rby him.”
He turned to the shaking Jordan. “Hello,” he chuckled derisively, “didt get far, did you? Hold out your little Imds.”
He chuckled again as he clicked the kndcuffs on the teller’s wrists. “Now en, where’s the money?”
A low laugh came from the Swallow. Don’t tell him, Bobby,” he warned. Durham’s jaw squared and his little es blazed across at the Swallow. “All ght,” he snarled, “supposin’ you te\\ me.” “Me?” The Swallow’s tones were inignant. “Why, Bull how should I know?” Durham nodded. “Take ’em down to íe street and hold ’em there till I come,” ,e ordered the policemen. “I’m goin’ to ive this place the once over.”
“We might as well run ’em straight to íe pen,” spoke up one of the officers. Durham wheeled upon him. “Pen, hell! want them two birds took over to the trathcona bank, and what’s more, I want 3 lead the procession. I’ve got a little jarprise party for Crown Attorney lughstis. Promised him and Horlick I’d how ’em these chaps at ten to-day. iVe’ve got half an hour. Now, get out and !ive me ten minutes alone here.” »
rHE city clocks were striking ten when three cars coming from different lirections drew up before the Strathcona iank. From one alighted Crown Attorney lughstis, from another Manager Horlick ind from the third Detective Durham, >fficers and prisoners.
The Swallow’s eyes met the Crown Vttorney’s for an instant as they ascended the steps together, then fell away.
Horlick’s face was impassive. He stood iside, sycamore stick and black bag in one land, until the others had passed into the ouilding. Then he followed.
The tellers and the accountants were in their places. Each man glanced up, inquiringly, then resumed work like the perfect automaton he was. There was a new face in the paying-teller’s cage.
“Well, gents,” Durham wheezed, triumphantly, as the door swung noiselessly behind them, “here they are. “Told you I’d fetch ’em, didn’t I?”
Crown Attorney Hughstis spoke: “Did you find the stolen money, Durham?” The detective fidgeted. “No, sir, not yet; but we’ll find it all right. I guess maybe these ducks’ll be sayin’ where it is before long.”
The attorney looked at the Swallow. “Do you know where the money is?” he asked.
“I’m not exactly sure, Mr. Hughstis,” returned the prisoner. “However, I’ve a pretty good idea, sir.”
“There!” exulted Durham, “what did I tell you?”
“Then,” said Hughstis, again addressing the Swallow, “you know who stole it?” “I think I do, sir.”
“For your own sake, then, won’t you say who it was?”
“I’ll show you how the money was stolen, Mr. Hughstis,” the Swallow said, “and you can decide yourself as to who was the thief.”
“Just what do you mean by that?” growled Durham, “you know who stole that money and so do we. You can’t get away with any stall now, Swallow. It’s too late.”
“Wait.” Hughstis turned to the officer in charge of the prisoners. “Unlock their hand-cuffs.”
“But—” commenced Durham, as the Crown Attorney’s eyes, hard as points of steel now, looked into his and silenced his protest.
“Now, Mr. Hughstis.”
The Swallow, free again, stepped forward toward the paying teller’s cage.
The others followed, all silent except Durham, who was muttering and fuming.
PERHAPS it was through force of daily habit that Horlick, placing his bag on the floor, leaned an elbow on the narrow shelf before the wicket, poising his sycamore stick in his hand as he surveyed the stacks of bank notes on the shelf behind the teller.
The Swallow, watching him, smiled enigmatically.
The strained silence was broken by an impatient imprecation from the glowering Durham.
“Well,” he shot at the Swallow, “is this all of it?”
The Swallow shook himself. “Mr. Horlick,” he addressed the bank manager, “on the morning the money was stolen, I believe you came and stood for a moment just where you are standing now. Am I right?”
Horlick turned slowly: “Why, yes,” he answered. “You’re right in that. It’s what I do every morning.”
“And on that particular morning, you carried this club-bag at your feet, and that stick?”
“Yes. I invariably carry this bag and stick.”
The Swallow swept the intent faces watching him.
Then he turned to the teller. “Be good enough to turn your back one moment,” he said. “Thanks. Now, gentlemen, this is how the twenty thousand dollars was stolen—I think.”
He stepped to the wicket and taking the cypress stick from the surprised Horlick, thrust it through the wicket. Quick as a flash it was withdrawn and lowered. With his left foot the Swallow had struck the bag at his feet. The bag had opened and closed swiftly.
“Now, Mr. Teller,” he said, “you may turn and ascertain if all your cash is safe.”
There was a smile on the young man’s face as he turned, a smile that quickly faded as his eyes searched the piles of bills on the counter. “A package of twenty notes of one thousand each is missing,’ he declared.
“They’re here,” said the Swallow, “in this bag on the floor.”
He turned and looked from face to face of the men who had watched him.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “I’ve shown you how the money was stolen. Is it necessary for me to name the thief?”
There was a shuffle, a stifled cry and Horlick, leaping away, made for the door. As he darted past Durham, the detective’s strong hand shot out and gripped him.
There was the click of snapping steel and Durham stood back wiping his perspiring face.
“Well, I’ll be damned!” he gasped.
He pushed Horlick toward the policemen and came forward, shufflingly, to where the Swallow stood,.
“Well,” he said. “Somebody has said that there’s a fool born every minute. Ain’t it enough, Swallow, without you makin’ more?”
He turned limply and stamped toward the door.
“Bull,” called the Swallow, “what are you going to do?”
Durham turned. “I’m goin’ into the market gardenin’ business,” he returned hopelessly, “and if I ever get to know eggplants from eggs, I reckon I’ll be in luck.”
AT THE door he paused until the ofL ficers with Horlick in charge passed out, then, turning, came slowly back to where the others stood.
“See here, Swallow,” he said, “I just can’t go without havin’ my curiosity satisfied. However the devil you found out what you’ve found out I don’t know. But I sure would welcome enlightenment—if it ain’t askin’ too much.”
The Swallow smiled. “I’ll explain as briefly as I can,” he said. “I’m going to tell you what I learned, but you’ll have to excuse me from telling how I learned certain facts which threw light upon this robbery.
“Horlick has been speculating wildly for more than a year. He has lost many thousands of dollars. He was in love with a certain young lady—-whose name it isn’t necessary to mention. This lady favored another man, Jordan here. Jordan had some years ago been made the victim of another’s mistake, for which he had paid in full. The girl knew it. Horlick knew it. It was when Horlick sent for Jordan and offered him the position as teller in his bank that I suspected something. I advised Jordan to accept the trust but cautioned him to watch Horlick.
“Jordan was not deceived in any way by Horlick’s apparent interest in him. He kept his eyes and ears open at all times. One night Horlick sent for him.
“Jordan went to the manager’s home, where they discussed certain matters of business in connection with the _ bank. Horlick showed him his collection of antiques, among them _ this stilettostick and the spring grip. Next day Jordan told me about them but to both of us the stick and bag seemed harmless enough objects at the time.
“However, neither Jordan nor myself had ever doubted for a minute, that Horlick had intended to use him when , the psychological time arrived and, on I the eventful Saturday morning, when twenty thousand dollars disappeared from this bank, two or three things occurred ; which made me certain that Horlick was : about to attempt to reap the results of his well laid plans. That morning I met you, Bull, and you tipped me off as to what ! you intended to do to Jordan. That was j one thing. I knew that somebody had ! wised you to Jordan’s whereabouts, and guessed that Horlick was behind it. That meant that Horlick was about ready to spring his trap.”
The Swallow’s eyes narrowed and his smile faded.
“One other thing, Bull, which made me ! feel sure things were coming to a head,
I was this: On Saturday morning a_young I man approached me, as I was leaving the i house, and asked to have a few words with ] me. I listened to what he had to say. His name was Rutterson. Ever heard of ! him?”
Durham stared blankly. “You don’t ¡ mean Dart Rutterson, the investigator?”
' he stammered.
“The same, Bull. Well, one of the things ¡ he told me was that Horlick was expecting a new teller in on the nine o’clock express: the other was—but we’ll come to I that later. It wasn’t hard to dope out that I if Horlick had arranged for a new payingteller, it meant that he expected someI thing to happen to Jordan. I could guess j what that would be. I decided it might be ! a good idea for me to meet the new I teller at the station. Then Rutterson told me his name and I was sure it would be. I wonder, Bull, if you won’t remember a chap named Hollewell, who gave evidence which convicted Jordan when he was ! tried for embezzlement?”
THE detective nodded and mopped his brow with his handkerchief.
“Of course you would. Pretty clean-cut story, wasn’t it? Proved, too, that you hadn’t made a false pinch, eh?”
“I don’t often make mistakes,” growled Durham.
“No?” The Swallow laughed softly, then he resumed.
“Accompanied by Rutterson I went to the station and met Hollewell. I grabbed him just as he was swinging off the train.
“ ‘What does this mean?’ he demanded. “Rutterson spoke up. ‘It means that you’re under arrest,’ he said, showing his shield.
“ ‘What for?’ gasped Hollewell.
“ ‘For giving false evidence against one Robert Jordan, three years ago.’ Rutterson told him.
“Hollewell caved in then. He confessed that he had stolen the money and had placed the guilt on Jordan. We got his written confession and had him locked up.
“And then, of course, I made straight for the Strathcona bank, intending to tell Jordan the good news right away. I didn’t get a chance that morning, however, as Jordan had something to tell me that knocked everything else from my mind.
“I got here just as Horlick arrived. I didn’t follow him inside. He carried this stick and this bag as was his custom.
“Jordan says he went across to his wicket and stood there for a time.
Jordan had been instructed how to act. He purposely made some excuse to turn his back long enough for Horlick to spear that package of twenty thousand dollar notes and drop them in his trick bag at his feet. Then he went on into his private office. ,
“A little later I entered the bank, and while cashing a check for me, Jordan told me what had happened.”
The Swallow paused, his eyes on the sweating detective.
“And why didn’t you have him pinched right then?” asked Durham wonderingly.
“Two reasons, Bull, answered the Swallow. “I wanted to show you up for the false alarm you are and I wanted Horlick to play out his hand. Besides, it is always risky to buck another man’s game. Supposing I had told you what had happened? What then?”
“Why, darn it all—” commented Durham, but the Swallow shook his head. “No, Bull,” he said, “you wouldn’t have done anything of the kind. You wouldn’t have arrested Horlick. You would have said to us. ‘I don’t know what you two crooks have up your sleeve, but I’m going to pinch you now and find out later!’
“You would have gone into Horlick’s office and told him what we told you. He would have feigned surprise and indignation; would have opened that bag and showed you that not a dollar lay inside it. And you—well, being you, Bull, you would have taken both Jordan and myself into custody—and then we could have whistled. Can’t you see?”
DURHAM nodded gloomily. “I reckon you dope it about right,” he confessed. “I’d have thought you was playin’ me for a bonehead.”
“Sure, Bull,” grinned the Swallow, “which you’re not—of course.”
“Hell!” growled the detective, “you needn’t rub it in.”
The Swallow laughed: “When you’re a market gardener, Bull, you won’t have such sensitive nerves. But you’re still a man-hunter and my enemy, so I’m going to bait you all I can, while I can,
“Well,” sighed Durham, “if it’s any satisfaction for you to know it, you’ve shocked me dead from my hair down. Only thing left alive is my feet and they sure itch to kick this man Horlick clear from here to Egypt where he and them contraptions of the devil, he used in makin’ his haul, came from. I’m through!”
He gazed slowly about him and nodded grimly.
“I’m on my way now to buy seedpotatoes and onions, and,” he added, ruefully, “I’m in luck if they don’t sell me bird seed.”
The Swallow laid a detaining hand on his shoulder.
“Bull,” he said, “if I were you, I’d stay at the old job. Only I’d ease off on the fellow who’s trying to go straight and get after the guy who’s trying to trip him. If you’ll promise to do this, we’re willing to give you all the credit for ferreting this thing out.”
Durham’s eyes opened wide. “You mean it?” he asked, wonderingly.
The Swallow nodded.
Durham’s jaw squared. “That’s white of you, Swallow,” he said. “But I’m damned if I’ll take it. Besides, I m serious about that gardenin’ project. Just another question, though, before I beat it. Why was it necessary to have Jordan disappear? That’s what’s puzzlin me a whole lot.”
“I’ll tell you,” said the Swallow. “ Jordan ’s disappearance was one thing which Horlick had not anticipated, don’t you see? He thought that this robbery would be called an inside job, and that Jordan would be the one to be found guilty. He depended on Jordan’s past record to help him out in his scheme and he intended making a grand-stand play by standing by Jordan. He was clever. He hoped that this might make him solid with the girl who had refused to marry him because she loved Jordan.
“We knew that Jordan’s mysterious disappearance would throw him off balance and, perhaps, make him careless on one or two important things. We were right. Immediately upon learning that Jordan had disappeared, he became frightened. He made the mistake of doing the very thing we had hoped he might. He carried the stolen money to his home and locked it in his safe.
“That was Saturday afternoon. Some ;ime between Saturday midnight and Sunday morning, his safe was opened md the twenty thousand dollars taken.”
The Swallow smiled.
“The man who opened the safe was ¡iot a thief, Bull, but a man who is working hand-in-hand with the police of ;his city. The job was legitimate robbery —if you’ll allow the term. The money was ;aken direct to Crown Attorney Hughstis and placed in his vault.
“Of course, Horlick discovered that his safe had been robbed. But he daren’t make a protest. You can imagine him putting in some pretty bad moments.
“Next day, Bull, I met you, remember? I begged you to let me down easy and I’d get that stolen money. Remember what you told me? Well, with you on my trail and Horlick due to blow up any minute, I had to work fast. You know what happened.
“And, now, Bull, we come to the second piece of information which Dart Rutterson handed me. It was this; Horlick had, through his agent, approached you, offering you a substantial amount of money to come here and so intimidate Jordan that he would show little or no fight when accused of the theft of this twenty thousand dollars.”
“It’s a damned lie,” flared Durham. “If I could lay eyes on Rutterson, I’d tell him so.”
The Swallow pointed to the payingteller. “Well, Bull, there he is. Tell him.”
“Well, I’ll—” he commenced, then bit off the words. His beefy shoulders were sagging helplessly; his face was grey and lined.
“How,” he asked, “did he get there?”
“By impersonating Hollewell,” explained the Swallow. “He reported to Horlick for duty and was placed in charge.”
“But why?” the detective’s stiff lips murmured.
“Because,” the Swallow answered, “we wanted somebody who could keep his mouth shut in there, when we passed back that twenty thousand.”
“That the money’s been returned? Sure. It was away from its proper place only from Saturday morning till ten o’clock the following Monday.”
“Which reminds me,” said Durham dully, “I’ve been away from my proper place a damned sight longer than that.”
And pushing his derby a little lower over his eyes—he stamped to the door and out.