Twilight Loans His Eyes

An Unusual and Exciting Detective Story

Kathrene,Robert E. Pinkerton August 1 1917

Twilight Loans His Eyes

An Unusual and Exciting Detective Story

Kathrene,Robert E. Pinkerton August 1 1917

Twilight Loans His Eyes

An Unusual and Exciting Detective Story

By Kathrene and Robert E. Pinkerton

Mr. Pinkerton wrote “The Print of the French Heel” and “The Frost Girl."

BUT you’re not even sure Camsell is dead,” protested Twilight Jack. “No,” admitted Policeman Lochrie, “I can’t prove it. Not yet. But I’m as certain of it, Jack, as I ever could be. And that’s one reason I’m taking Leckie with me. When he’s right there where the cabin burned, and where he and Camsell lived together since last fall, he’ll step on his own toes or break down and confess. He’s a weak sister and what he needs is the third degree.”

“Yes, he is sort of weak,” agreed the trapper. “That’s one reason I feel sorry for him. And I don’t know anything about degree^. But there’sthis much about it, Wallie. No man ever did anything in the bush without leaving a mark somewhere. It might be only one little thing you’d hardly notice, but it’s always there, if you can find it.”

“That’s the reason I'want you to go along,” Lochrie hastened to say. “I don’t care if you do feel sorry for the lad and side with him. You’ve got eyes, Jack, and you’ll probably see that one little thing where I might miss it.”

“All right. I’ll go if you’ll let the lad come in my canoe and you and Hogan take' the other and keep far enough ahead so I can talk to him quiet like.”

The Provincial Policeman glanced quickly at the woodsman, sudden suspicion in his eyes. But he turned immediately to the lake, angry because of his own lack of faith.

“Sure, Jack,” he agreed. “Have and I’ll start on ahead.”

AS they paddled down the lake on the shore of which the trapper lived, and the name of which he had been given so long before no one knew any other, Twilight lagged behind until Lochrie and Hogan were several hundred yards in the lead.

“It’s the best time of the year in the bush, now, with no flies and these cold nights,” said the trapper merely in an attempt to be sociable.

“There’s no time when I like the bush!” exclaimed Leckie fiercely as he turned to Twilight. “I hate it, everything about it!”

“That’s because you don’t see it right, that’s all,” replied Twilight soothingly. “This business has turned you against

it.”

“It would anyone,” retorted the young man, “accusing a fellow of something he never did.”

He had stopped paddling and was

looking at the man in the stern. Roy Leckie was not, at first glance, what Lochrie had called a “weak siíter.” A young man of twenty-four or twentyfive, of no pronounced characteristics of any sort, he was of the type that passes unnoticed in a group of five or six. It was only after a longer acquaintance that his willingness to agree to any statement, his lack of initiative and reliance, marked him for the youth who is easily led, easily influenced. The type is found everywhere. Viciousness is not natural to them. Rather they have a neutral attitude toward all things, embracing what is easiest or most opportune.

Perhaps it is this very absence of moral strength which sometimes appeals to thé sympathies of stronger natures, though more often it arouses suspicion and contempt. That this last had been true in Leckie’s case became evident from the story which Twilight proceeded to draw from him.

“I woke up in the night and the cabin was on fire,” he said. “It must have been burning quite a while. Ben wasn’t in the bunk with me. I always slept on the inside and I would have felt him when I got out. I went all over the cabin, call-

ing to him and feeling, and I’m sure he wasn’t inside. Even with the smoke it was light enough to see with the fire going that way.”

“Was Ben there when you went to bed?” asked Twilight.

“Yes. He always stayed up nights, sitting there smoking. He was that night, and I don’t remember his coming to bed. It must have been after midnight when the cabin burned down because it wasn’t such a long time before daylight.”

“You and Ben didn’t have any trouble?”

“No.” ’And there was an obstinate tone in his voice.

Twilight ignored it and paddled steadily for a time.

“When did the cabin burn?” he asked after an interval.

“Ten days before the ice went out.”

“Why didn’t you come over to my place and stay?”

“That’s the first thing I thought of, and I tried to. But the ice was gone in the narrows and I couldn’t get across. I tried to get to Nee-sho-tah’s wigwam, too, but I couldn’t make it. The ice got rotten fast after that and I waited until it was all gone. I’d have starved if we hadn’t had some moose meat hanging in the brush. When the ice was gone I paddied in to Abiwin as quick as I could and told them about the cabin burning and

Ben being missing. I told Dave Hogan and he sent for the police.”

He had been paddling as he spoke, but he turned suddenly toward the stern and demanded querulously:

“Why do they pick on me this way? I never hurt Ben. What would I want to kill him for It aint fair. I never had a chance. Ben hung around town and made everybody like him. He was that kind. I couldn’t do it. And then when I came out without him and told the truth about the cabin burning they all said I killed him. You go out to the cabin and you’ll see I’m telling the truth. There isn’t a single thing they can prove on me. They can’t hold me for it, can they, Twilight?”

“You and Ben been trapping together ever since you moved into Carley Boyle’s old shack last fall, haven’t you?” asked the woodsman without regard for the other’s question.

' “Yes, we’ve trapped all winter.”

Again he looked quickly at Twilight, but the trapper was watching Lochrie and Hogan disembark at the portage.

WHEN they had crossed to the next lake Twilight skilfuHy turned Hogan aside and into his own. canoe, leaving Leckie to the policeman. Again he lagged behind until out of earshot^

“What do you know about this, Dave?” he asked at last.

“Well, Twilight,” the store leeper began, “you know how it is. W îen a man dies in the bush it’s some sti snge way. If a man comes out and leave his partner and tells a story about his being drowned or burned up or shot açcidental there’s always a doubt about i - Ordinarily I wouldn’t do anything but this case was so different I wired the police at Port Arthur.”

“How different?’

“Well, the last of the wintei told me he and Leckie didn’t gqt together. The last time they before break-up they weren’t to each other when they were in Camsell told me he’d be glad trapping was over so he could Ho said he’d quit then only he nearer went back on a partner yet-’

“That’s not anything, Dave.

Lots of

y

fellows get huffy after living slone together a long time.”

“I know it, but that isn’t all. Camsell was awful anxious to get a letter 1 bat last time he was in. Said he came in purpose for it and had me look thre ugh ail the mail in the store to make rare it wasn’t there. He said he’d be in fee first day the ice was out because it portant. Now if he wanted thaï so bad, wouldn’t you think it if his partner showed up alone

imletter funny rith a

story about the shack burning dm m and Camsell disappearing, especially after

what he’d told me about having trouble with Leckie?”

“No one ever accused you of not doing the thing you thought was right, Dave,” was the answer. “And you never forget anything you ever see or hear, either. I’ll paddle a minute and you take out that pencil in your vest pocket and write down all the fur Camsell and Leckie sold you last winter.”

Hogan did as he was told, recitihg the items as he made notes of them.

“Now you put it in your pocket and keep it,” said Twilight. “It may come in handy, and maybe it won’t.”

Hogan did not ask why because it was not his habit to ask questions. He had, also, an implicit faith in Twilight Jack and he resumed his paddling in silence.

ANOTHER hour and they drew in to a -point on the east shore of the lake. Still far out, they saw the black square where the cabin had stood and near it the brush lean-to in which Leckie had lived while he waited for the ice to go out. The two canoes struck the sand together and all four men stepped out.

“Dave,” commanded the policeman, “you stay here with Leckie while Twilight and I have a look first.”

“I’m not thinking we’ll find much, if anythingJIJie whispered to the trapper as they"/»topped beside the ruins of the cabin. “He was here ten days, according to his story, and he had time to cover up his tracks pretty, well. But we may find something, that one little thing you told about, ami anywhow we can make him believe we did and he’ll fess up or catch himself somehow.”

“Seems to me you’ve got to profe Camsell is dead first,” objected Twilight “May be we can, but I doubt it If Leckie killed Camsell before break-up he put the body through the ice somewhere and fixed it so it wouldn’t come up. I’m going to dig ’round in the cabin though, and make believe I found something.”

TWILIGHT did not speak again but began to make circles about the place, each a little larger than the preceding one. At last one took him into the brush and he did not return for fifteen minutes. When at last he appeared at the edge of the clearing he called to Lochrie. The policeman joined him and Twilight led the way toward the base of a steep, high hill. There was no trail through the thick brush, no sign that anyone had been there. But the trapper climbed up and up, the policeman scrambling at his heels, until they were halted suddenly by a wall of rock that hung far out over their heads.

“What you found* up here?” panted Lochrie as he looked along the ledge on which they were standing. “You can’t go any farther.”

Twilight had stopped before a deeper recess beneath the cliff and merely nodded his head toward it. Lochrie joined him to stare in perplexity at the dry mass of leaves and refuse gathered beneath the rock and out of the reach of rain and snow. Suddenly he went down on his kheés and began to paw at the leaves.

“Wait!” exclaimed Twilight as he grasped the other’s shoulder and pulled him back. “Go at it easy, Wallie. I saw someone had been. here after the snow went off this south hillside. They came this far, and I saw that’s where they stopped'. But I didn’t find out why they come.

We’ll go at this careful and may be we can see.”

“They?” demanded Lochrie. “You mean both of them?”

“Ben Camsell was wearing a new pair of rubbers, rubbers with heels, when he was at my place about three weeks before break-up. There’s his tracks in the dust. You can see the new creases in the bottoms of the rubbers plain. The lad is wearing an old pair of rubber stags that looks as though they had been lying out all winter. Probably something he picked up after the cabin buraeddown. Here’s his tracks,” and he pointed to another place in the dust beneath the rock.

When he had finished speaking Twilight began to lift the leaves carefully from the pile that lay at the back of the recess. He spent ten minutes at the task, picking up the leaves one at a time and making every effort not to disturb anything beneath.

“This is a place no one would ever come to, up on this steep hill under this rock," he said as he removed the last of the leaves and twigs. “But both those fellows was here. That looks to me like they had a reason for coming. It might help to find out what it was.”

As he finished he settled back upon his heels and looked at the place he had cleared.

“Those leaves wasn’t drifted in by the wind,” he said as he examined the dust of dry vegetable matter, the accumulation of many years. '“That’s why I dug into them. It looked like something might have been hid there, and now IV sure of it”

Lochrie, who had been bending eagerly over his shoulder, went down to his hands and knees beside the trapper,

“There was something cached here!” he exclaimed. “A box of some sort!”

“It looks to me,” added Twilight after a close study, “like one of those tin boxes they use for keeping money and papers. Dave keeps his money in one at the store, only this was bigger.”

“It was a cash box!” Lochrie corroborated with growing excitement. “A big one.” ^

He jumped to his feet suddenly and grasped the trapper’s shoulder.

“We’ve got it!” he cried. “We’ve got the reason, and we’ve got the thing that will bring Leckie to time. They had something hid up here, something valuable, and that’s the reason Leckie killed Camsell, so he could get it all.”

TWILIGHT refused to share the enthusiasm of the other. Instead he searched carefully the entire length of the ledge, turning over leaves, lifting them carefully.

“May be,” he admitted at last, “only I can’t find a place where’one stepped on the other’s trail. That might prove something, knowing which one came last.” “Never mind,” was the jubilant answer. “When I spring that cash box on Leckie he’ll tell us. He’ll think we know a lot more. This is the one little thing, Twilight. I knew I needed your eyes on this job. How did you find it?” >

“I was circling around and saw where someone started to climb the hill about the time the frost was out of the ground two or three inches and. the mud slipped between the frozen part and the foot That would have been about ten days before the ice went out, on a south hill side.

I wondered what anyone would be coming up here for and came along to

find out But there’s another thing I want to show you, Wallie.”

He led the way down the hill nearly to the edge of the clearing and then ¡turned off toward the east up a gentle rifce that led away from the lake and into thp thick growth. In a brush-filled open he stopped and pointed. Lochrie looked closely, both at the brush and at the ground. Then he laughed.

“Moose, Twilight,” he said. “You’re wrong this time. What would a man want to come through here for whenj there is a good trail a little farther south?” .

“Yes, that’s Charley Boyle’s old trapping trail, running across to the narrows east of here. But look here again,! Wallie.”

The policeman studied the brush more carefully. Most evidently something had crashed through. But, as he had said, it looked more like a moose than anything else, though there were no tracks op the hard ground. Other signs of moose, most of them recent, had been abundant, and he was about to turn away when he started forward suddenly.

“I see!” he exclaimed. “You’re wtorse than an Indian, Jack! A moose iqight have broken off that dry snag like that as well as a man, but he wouldn’t have carried the piece he broke off ten feet and then dropped it. But which one prent through here and where was he going?”

“I don’t know but I’m going on and see if I can’t find out,” answered Twilight. “Some men have a habit of doing that when they’re walking through the brpsh, breaking off branches and carrying them d few steps and then dropping them. May be this fellow did it again.”

“You go on and I’ll go back,” p»id Lochrie. “I’ve been thinking. Jack, sifice we found out about that tin box they hid up there on the hill, that it’s a certain case against Leckie, only I’ve been overlooking something. I figured at first he’d never bum the cabin to hide Camse|l’s body, but that he burned it only to hide any signs of a fight and to help out his own story. But now I’m going back there and d’g around in those ashes.”

’T' WILIGHT went on along the trail -*■ he had discovered on one of his widening circles about the burned iabin. It was a difficult trail to follow. Only occasionally was there a bit qf broken brush or the soft top of a rotten 1 windfall crumpled beneath a foot. Moose! had been plentiful and had added to his difficulty, but finally he emerged on the shore of the lake around a long point from the cabin and at a place where a narrow stretch of water connected it with another Jake , farther east * i *

On the shore Twilight searched carefully for a time and then carried two cedar windfalls to the water, lashed them together with green brush and two cross pieces and, with the aid of the wind and a pole, crossed to the other side.

There his search was resumed and at last he started on eastward along the shore, directly away from the burned cabin. For two miles he made his way over ridges, through thick brush, across swamps and around a couple of small lakes, coming finally to the bank of the river. Up this he went for half a mile to stop at a little open space in the center of which was a birchbark wigwam.

Dogs had announced his coming and an old Indian was waiting in the door when the trapper appeared. Twilight Continued on page 73.

Twilight Loans His Eyes

Continued from page 32.

spoke to him in Ojibway for a few minutes and at last the old man went down to the river and set his canoe into the water. Twilight took the bow and they started down stream. Ten minutes of paddling and they dashed into.a lake. In half an hour they were passing through the narrows Twilight had crossed on his raft and half an hour later they drew up at the beach beside the other canoes.

“Where have you. been, Jack?” demanded Lochrie with no attempt to hide his irritation. “We’ve been waiting three hours for you so we could start back.”

TWILIGHT did not speak and Lochrie, his vexation short-lived in the face of a very evident though repressed excitement, whispered in the trapper’s ear: “I’ve got him! I’ve found Camsell’s bones in the ashes!”

Twilight looked at the policeman with frank unbelief.

“But I did!” protested Lochrie. “They were in the corner where Leckie says the bunk was. And it’s a clear case of murder, Jack. No accidental death here. The skull is split open with an ax.” “Skull split open!” repeated Twilight in amazement.

He turned quickly and looked at the old Indian who had come with him. He was about to speak, but turned slowly back to Lochrie.

“You told Leckie that yet?” he asked. “No. I’ve waited for you. Before I started digging I had Dave take him down the shore there. Neither one of them knows. Come on and I’ll show you.” He led the way to the spot where the cabin had stood and pointed in triumph to the bare ground in front of what had been the door.

Laid out as nearly like the human form as the pieces would permit, a cleft skull at the top, were twenty or thirty bones and pieces of bones, blackened, half burned, but unmistakably human.

Twilight looked at them a moment and then asked;

“What are you going to do now?” “Bring Leckie up here. He doesn’t know, and if that won’t break him down I don’t know what will. And he’ll get what he deserves, the limit.”

Lochrie turned and called to Hogan, who had been sitting on a windfall with the prisoner, and in a few moments the two hurried up.

LECKIE hung back, but when Hogan saw the blackened evidence of a tragedy he stopped short and the young = Continued on page 75.

Continued from page 73.

man walked past him and almost stepped

upon the skeleton.

For a moment he only stared. Then he looked quickly, perplexedly, almost pleadingly, at Lochrie and Twilight. Panic quickly followed and he rushed to the trapper, the only man who had spoken kindly to him in four days.

“Honest, Jack, I never knew he was in the cabin!” he cried in a frenzy. “I hunted for him until the heat drove me out. I was sure he wasn’t in there.”

“That will do to tell,” broke in Lochrie harshly. “Only this man was killed before he was burned. Look at that skull, Leckie, where you split it open with an ax when he lay there asleep. You’ll hang for this. We’ve got you now.”

“But I didn’t! I never saw Ben after I went to sleep and he sat there by the table smoking. He wasn’t in the cabin when it burned.”

“Lopk here!” exclaimed Lochrie angrily. “Don’t tell us that again. There’s what’s left of Camsell. His head was split open with an ax and his body was burned. You two were here alone, shut in by the ice going out. You burned the cabin down to cover it up so you could get away with that box you had hid on the hill.”

Leckie whirled as if he had been struck and looked at the policeman. For the first time a real fear showed in his eyes and he stared dumbly. He began to tremble, his jaw sagged, his entire body seemed to shrink.

“That got you!” sneered the policeman. “We know the whole thing, Leckie. I don’t care whether you fess up now or not. I’ve got all I need to hang you, and hang you will.”

FOR a full minute Leckie did not,.

speak. His eyes wandered from the policeman to Twilight and back again. . At last, after several efforts in which his lips moved but no sound come, he rushed to the trapper.

“Don’t let him fasten this on me, Jack!” he cried hysterically. “I never killed. Ben. I never saw him after I went to sleep. I didn’t know he was in the cabin.”

“I know he wasn’t, lad,” answered Twilight. “Only, if I prove he wasn’t there, will you answer my questions?”

“What’s this?” demanded Lochrie angrily.

“Come on to the shore where we can sit down and talk it over,” was the quiet response. “There’s a lot of things to be straightened out, Wallie, so. kçep your shirt on till we get through.’

“Look here, Jack,” said Lochrie as he stepped in front' of the trapper, and his tone was as quiet as the other’s. *Tm not going to stand for any funny business. I’ve got the goods on this fellow and you keep your hands off.”

“You asked me to come along and use my eyes, and I’ve done it, and I’ve found out a thing or two and now I’m going to tell them. If you didn’t want me in this^ you oughtn’t have asked me. But now I’m in I’m going to stay.”

TWILIGHT turned and went down to the lake, where the old Indian still sat beside his canoe. Lochrie, still muttering, followed with the others, Leckie close at the trapper’s heels.

When they reached the shore Lochrie had regained his control and, walking up determinedly, he grasped Leckie’s arm.

“Come on, young fellow,” he cpmmanded. “You get back to town with me. I’ve got this case where I want it.”

Twilight stepped in front of the policeman and laid a hand on his shoulder.

“Sit down on that windfall, Wallie,” he said gently. “I’m doing this as much for you as for any one.”

He looked steadily into the other’s eyes until Lochrie reluctantly obeyed. Twilight motioned to Hogan and Leckie and they also sat down.

“Now, Dave,” began the trapper, “did that letter from Camsell ever come, that one he was so anxious for?”

“Xow that I think of it, it didn’t!” exclaimed Hogan in sudden wonder. “He never got a letter, or even a paper, since he came here.”

Twilight spoke in Ojibway and the old Indian joined them.

“Nee-sho-tah,” asked the trapper in the old man’s language, “who did you sell your fur to last winter?”

The Indian nodded his head toward the spot where the cabin had stood.

“All of it?” t

“Kay-gét.”

“Wallie, you and Dave understand Ojibway a little. Now, Nee-sho-tah, tell all you sold to Camsell and Leckie.”

Slowly the Indian repeated the list— so many fisher, so many lynx, so many minx, so many weasel, so many fox. As he began Twilight motioned to Lochrie to make a note of the items, and the policeman did so. Before Nee-sho-tah had finished, Dave Hogan, who had been staring with increasing wonder, pulled out the list he had made for Twilight.

“Now read yours,” commanded the trapper.

They coincided exactly. Lochrie, clearly perplexed, was about to speak, but Twilight, using the Indian’s langauge, asked him how much he had received for his fur.

Again the old man drew upon that memory that is so faithful to detail and so characteristic of his people. When he ( had finished Twilight loked at Hogan in; quiringly.

“It runs a little higher than I paid them for it,” offered the storekeeper.

AGAIN Lochrie was about to speak, ; but Twilight was already talking.

“I followed that track I showed you, Wallie, straight through the bush to the narrows over east of here. There I found where some one had made a raft out of a couple of dead cedars, chopping off dry cedar for cross pieces. You could see they were fresh cut.

“Now, here’s what we know. Camsell never had any letjter coming. That was a blind. He set fire to the cabin and went through the bush where I followed and crossed the narrows on a raft. He took nails along to build rafts if he had to because I found a cross piece on the other side of the narrows that he’d split the nails out of. But he figured on twenty miles of good going on Big Clearwater, as he would have got then, and from there he knew he could get to the C.P.R. by land if the ice was getting rotten. And that’s what Camsell did.”

Lochrie snorted, half in amusement, half in disgust.

“That’s a fine theory, Twilight,” he said, “only Camsell’s bones are up there.” “That’s right, I forgot all about those

bones,” confessed the trapper as he arose. “Nee-sho-tah, come here.”

HE LED the way to where Lochrie had laid out the skeleton, the Indian at his heels, the others following. Neesho-tah stared at the blackened remains for a moment and then burst into a torrent of Ojibway. ’ He shook his fists in the faces of the white men, danced about in his wrath and pointed repeatedly at the skeleton.

“What’s he mean. Jack?” asked Lochrie when Nee-sho-tah at last calmed down so the others could be heard.

“He says,” translated Twilight, “that those are the bones of his brother who was killed four years ago by a drunken half-breed at a pow-wow. He says the breed split his brother’s head open with an ax and he was buried, like the Indians bury, on top of the ground. This spring he says he went by the grave and found the bones gone and that these are the bones.”

No one spoke for a minute. Lochrie, angry, completely at a loss, was trying to assimilate the strange assortment of facts that had been presented.

“How did you learn all this?” he finally demanded.

“Nee-sho-tah being a pretty good friend of mine, he told me all about how he sold his fur. I guess I sort of got it out of him because I noticed he didn’t take any to town when he went by my place this winter. As for the bones, I knew this was an old cabin and the logs dry, but I knew they were small logs and weren’t enough to bake all the meat off a man. And I knew, too, how Nee-shotah’* brother had been killed and that his grave was near here.

“All these queer things, like Leckie and Camsell pretending they were trapping, and Camsell making a fuss over a letter that was never coming, and going out of his way to tell how he had trouble with his partner, all of them made me know something funny was up and that Camsell was at the bottom of it. Yon can see for yourself how it all fitted in with the story he knew Leckie would tell and how he did it intending that Leckie would get caught. He left at a time when no one believed he could get out. He set fire to the cabin in the night, which would make people think Leckie did it, and if they did and hunted around they would find that skeleton and think he was dead.

“They’re all funny things for a man to do, but they all lead up to what we found up there under the rock, Wallie, and that cash box is the answer.”

SUDDENLY Leckie found all three looking questioningly at him.

“You said you’d answer my questions, lad, if I got you out of this killing business,” said the trapper gently. “Now, what was in that box?”

Still Leckie did not answer. Instead he stood looking from one to the other, his face white with terror.

“I don’t think you need be afraid of him any more,” urged Twilight. “He wanted people to think he was dead and he won’t come back.”

“I know he won’t!” exclaimed the prisoner. “I know he won’t come back. But he’ll be waiting, and hell get me.” “There’s one way he can’t,” suggested Twilight significantly.

“I know it. I’ve been thinking of that a long time. He knew I was, and that’s