The Golden Scarab

HERBERT HOPKINS MOORHOUSE February 15 1926

The Golden Scarab

HERBERT HOPKINS MOORHOUSE February 15 1926

The Golden Scarab

HERBERT HOPKINS MOORHOUSE

BEWILDERED, Kent swung on his heel. A long, wicked flash of lightning dazzled him and what he saw in that brief illumination of the bedroom brought a cry of horror to his lips.

He leveled the beam of his torch. The lid was off the coffin of the mummy on the righthand side of the doorway! The linen strips in which it had been swathed were unwrapped—torn away! They hung in streamers from the upper portion of the shrunken brown body of the mummy!

It was “The Laugher,” as the Professor had nicknamed him! The open mouth, the grinning teeth, the sunken sockets that had shocked Kent and Malabar the evening before in the photo they had seen—Here they were now in horrible reality, glaring and gleaming back at him in the lightning’s eerie blue flame!

Six hours after Professor Emil Caron, Egyptologist, revealed to Dick Malabar and Addison Kent the hiding place of the illomened golden scarab, he was found dead in a New York house. In the light of the old Frenchman s weird story, the two friends cannot believe his death was natural. The next night there is a terrific storm and Kent is suddenly attacked while guarding the jewel. Now you can pick up the thread of the story.

time he could get his electric torch into play—she was gone!

And, even in that dramatic moment, Addison Kent realized that it was a very beautiful face.

HE GRABBED the door-knob, struggling with the catch. The bolt stuck!

In exasperation he dashed for the front door; but, by the time he felt the blast of the wind and rain, he had given up all hope of overtaking her. Like a frightened deer she had fled.

A woman! What was she doing there in a storm like this? In no period of calculation had he allowed for the possibility of a woman thief appearing upon the scene!

He raged up and down the portico. The wind tore at his bathrobe and flapped it about his wet legs, to which his soaked pajamas were already plastered. Outdoors, the uproar of the storm was deafening. The tall bushes were bent almost to the ground by the boisterous gale; they tossed about like maddened creatures. The turmoil of the thunder was incessant, while the torrential rain was drummed in gusts against windows and went swishing along the ground. It drove in slanted sheets; in the blue blaze of the lightning it looked like pelting silver.

Kent ran around the house to the rear, in the direction he imagined the girl would take. But she was nowhere in sight and he swore impotently. He ran along the garden walk that ended at a small gate in the high brick wall which skirted the rear of the garden—and stopped with a jerk as a blinding sizzle of lightning seared the sky, followed instantly by a terrific rip of thunder.

For, on top of the garden wall, loomed a huge figure? Just a glimpse of it, he got—a big man in a felt hat, the brim hanging limp about his ears, shedding rain!

Blackness! Glare again! The man was gone! Blackness! Glare!

“Dick!” shouted Kent, at the top of his voice.

Skirting the wall, white shirt-sleeves vivid in the bright flare, one arm extending his police automatic, ran Richard Malabar in pursuit of the man on the wall!

KENT dashed after him. By the time he got to the spot, Malabar had disappeared. Kent shouted; but his voice was torn to shreds and tossed away on the fling of the storm. He stumbled about in the shrubbery for a while, but failed to see further sign of pursuer or pursued.

There was nothing for it but to go back to the house. He could accomplish little out there in that maelstrom with no definite objective. He began to wonder what had happened to the household—the servants. Where was Sandy?

He stopped at the garage and shouted several times without response. There was no light in the garage. The lamps were all out on the driveway and about the grounds. The house was lost in darkness, except when the lightning flares limned it, a glisten of streaming windows.

Kent let himself in at the front door and stood, listening, in the hall. After the hurly-burly without, it seemed almost quiet indoors now.

“Mokra!” he called. “Kellani! Ho, you Mokra!”

But there was no answer to his shouts.

Then he thought he heard a sound at the kitchen entrance and went cautiously towards it. He heard a stamping of feet, a gruff oath, the scratch of a match, the yellow flicker of a candle—then shuffling footsteps, advancing along a passage.

“Air ye a’ recht, Maister Kent?” came Sandy MacLean’s anxious enquiry.

He was coming along the kitchen corridor, the candle throwing the grotesque black shadow of him on the wall.

“The dommed fuses ha'e blown oot an’ Ah’m thinkin’—

and he knew by the intensity of it that it was at its height right now. The thief could not be far away—might be in the house still!

He cast the beam of his light into every nook and cranny of the big bedroom. He looked under the bed, the only place that appeared to offer concealment. He shut off the light as he cautiously approached the door that led into the sitting-room.

It was Malabar’s duty to be on guard for half an hour yet. He had not wakened Kent. Why hadn’t he? Where the devil was he? This thing had been done right under his nose!

Raging inwardly, the novelist nevertheless very carefully entered the sitting-room, first flashing his torchlight into every corner. Nobody was there. Malabar’s cot was empty—had been unoccupied. Where was he? Perhaps he had been eliminated by the thieves!

As this thought took possession of Kent he grew suddenly calm. There was no telling what dangers lay before him in that great house of darkness. He must investigate. Automatic in hand, ready for instant use, and with jaws grimly set, he crept from the bedroom and made his way out into the upper hallway.

He reached the bannister and peered over into the wide hall downstairs. The glare of the lightning came and went; it gleamed on the clusters of ancient weapons that hung on the walls, here and there, flashing from halbert and battle-axe, broadsword and shield, with cold fire; it shone on the suits of armor in the corners—shone and went out, shone and went out. The lower hall appeared to be empty.

Where was Mokra? Where was Kellani? Was he alone in the house? He listened long and carefully: but he soon realized that the infernal reverberations and roar of the storm effectively drowned out all ordinary noises. He doubted if even the bark of an automatic would be heard with that pandemonium going on.

As he drew back from the bannister, his heart skipped a beat. Again he saw those fiery eyes glowing at him in the darkness of the upper hallway. -They were approaching him now! Tense, he waited, his gun advanced.

Then he lowered it with an inward laugh at himself as a huge black ball of fur rubbed softly against his leg.

“Meow!” greeted Aristophanes lonesomely.

Satisfied that the way was clear, Kent slipped noiselessly down the carpeted staircase. He did not show his light and he held his automatic ready; but nobody w as in the lower hallway.

Nor in the library, when at last he reached the archway and slowly parted the portieres that hung there. He advanced into the room and with 'the idea of catching a glimpse ol the grounds at the next flash of lightning, he made his way cautiously towards the French doors that opened upon the tiled portico. He flung the heavy, partly-drawn window drapes aside, and as the lightning came he flattened his nose against the glass, and with his hands at the side oí his face, peered out.

He was staring straight into a face on the opposite side of the glass!—the face of someone who, in turn, was trying to see into the room where he stood!

Quickly he dodged to one side. But there was no gunplay. In the lightning glare he saw the figure out on the portico recoil in equal surprise. He saw the look of terror in the wide-open eyes. As the head turned, he caught a glimpse of the face and gasped in amazement.

It was a young woman who stood there! Just for a moment she stood—a young woman in a mackintosh, dripping wet! The hood of it w-as over her head. Raindiops gleamed on fluffy hair where it protruded. Then the glare went out and everything was black. By the

“Damnation!” cried Kent.

But it was not in fear that the exclamation escaped him. He ran to the bed, almost in panic haste, slipped on his tennis shoes, grabbed his bathrobe from the back of a chair, snatched his watch from beneath the pillow and forced himself to approach the dire figure. Anxiously he played the beam of his torch about that awful face, down the naked brown breast, around on the floor—everywhere! For it was upon the breast of this mummy that he and Malabar, just a few hours before, had concealed the golden scarab beneath the bandages!

And the appalling truth was that the priceless ruby, in its golden scarab setting, had completely disappeared! It was gone!—successfully stolen!

FOR a moment Addison Kent stood there, dazed by the discovery. Automatically, he glanced at his watch. It was nearly three o’clock in the morning.

Then his brain began to function. The thief, or thieves, had broken into the house. They had been in this room —with him lying there on the bed! It could not have been very long ago. They had come under cover of the storm

He stumbled. The burring voice was silent. Then Addison Kent heard his low-breathed, horrified exclamation.

“What’s wrong, Sandy?” he called, hurrying into the passage. The beam of his electric torch preceded him.

It was Mokra! He lay, sprawled across the narrow corridor. He had been struck from behind and the haft of the knife protruded from his back!

The two men stared at one another, their faces blanched in the uncertain light. The din of the storm beat about the house with fury unabated.

Upstairs, in the bedroom of the late Professor Emil Caron, the mummy laughed in silent fixity as the cold weird light came and went on its awful face.

CHAPTER IX.

A DDISON KENT’S look was grim as he stood up from examination of the Algerian’s body. Here, at least, was no room for doubt. It was murder in the first degree —cold-blooded, treacherous, a stab in the dark from behind! These men, with whom they had to deal, were ruthless. No woman’s hand could have driven that powerful blow; the knife had been wielded with vicious force.

“I swear to you, Sandy, that whoever has done this shall pay for it!” vowed Kent bitterly. “He was a faithful, loyal fellow-—Mokra—and, by heaven! they are not going to get away with a crime like this. I am going to begin by searching this house from cellar to roof. You have a supply of new fuses in the garage? Well, go for them while I’m getting dressed. I want lights at once. And bring a lantern with you.”

“Aye, sir. Ah’m thinkin’ a hurricane lamp—?”

“The very thing! Get it! Every minute counts. Hustle!”

There was a quality in the tone of the command that sent the gardener outside on the run. He was back in a remarkably short time and soon had located the blown fuses and replaced them.

“Turn on every light in the place as we come to it,” ordered Kent. “We’ll start in the cellar; but first—

He glanced about the kitchen. An empty peach-crate stood on end in a corner and he picked it up. He lifted down a dishpan from a nail above the sink. Crate and pan in hand, he made his way to the front door and out onto the portico while the gardener swtched on the library lights and drew the window-drapes aside, so that the light streamed out on the tiles.

As Addison Kent expected, he found several wet and muddy footprints; the marks of new rubbers were distinct —the small, narrow footprints of a woman. He covered the clearest of the imprints with the upturned pan and the shallow peach-crate. The marks were close enough to the windows of the library to be protected to some extent by the overhang of the room; while the rain was still coming down heavily, it was not driving in against that side of the house.

“Now for the cellar, Sandy,” directed Kent with satisfaction.

A draught of cool, damp air struck their faces as they descended; one of the cellar windows was wide open. The windows swung inward on hinges; the hook of the open window was in its eyelet on the joist overhead. Sandy swore that every cellar window had been closed when he made his rounds.

“You can see where it has been forced, of course.” Kent pointed, then waved the gardener back as he made a close examination under the ray of his electric torch. “See if you can rustle me a couple of small boxes, Sandy.”

One of these he turned upside down on the cement floor, directly under the window; the other he passed

through the window and upturned alongside the torn screen, which had been unhooked and thrown aside.

“Golf is a great game, Sandy,” commented Kent irrelevantly.

“Aye, sir,” agreed Sandy MacLean solemnly.

“Let’s try the first floor now.”

The novelist Went systematically through every room without finding anything of importance apparently. It was not until they reached the bedroom he had occupied on the second floor that he showed particular interest.

“I should think there must be some good bargains in golf outfits at this time of the year, Sandy. Noticed any bargains lately?—boots, for instance?”

SANDY did not answer. Sandy was not there. He was not within earshot. In fact, he was not on the second floor at all. He was down in the dining-room—at the buffet, pouring from the decanter which stood there a glass of whisky, swallowing it neat. He had need of it; for one look into that bedroom—one look at that mummy—! With reckless generosity he played host to himself by pouring out a second man-sized drink. Thus fortified, he marched doggedly back upstairs, the look of fighting ancestors upon his rugged face.

“It’s a braw, bricht, moonlicht nicht, the nicht!” he chanted, testing his speech, as advised by Harry Lauder. “Hoots, lad! Noo, ye maun bring on the de’il himsel’!”

In the servant’s quarters they found the chef, sound asleep in his bed and snoring. Kent awakened him, without sympathy, to thunder, lightning and murder; but he might better have left him to his snores for all the information he could give, as it was evident that the fat Gaston would have slept through the Battle of Waterloo and probably could be wakened only by the smell of something burning!

Not so, his assistant, Henri, in the bed alongside, however. The youth had his head buried in the bedclothes

and when these were pulled away, it was a wide-awake and startled young Frenchman who blinked at them in the bright light. His face was pea-green and he looked positively ill; at each peal of thunder he quivered in fright.

The storm had awakened him, he said; he was always terrified like this in a bad storm.

“Where is Kellani? Have you seen him? Where’s his room?” demanded Kent brusquely. “Come and show me.”

The room the Nubian had occupied was at the end of the upper hallway. There was no need to ask questions; it told its own story of hasty departure. The drawers of the dresser were open and empty. Discarded clothing was littered here and there and an old suitcase in the corner was half packed, as if the owner had been interrupted in his preparations or had decided suddenly not to hamper himself in his flight.

Addison Kent’s face was stern as he considered. It had not been the Nubian he had glimpsed on the wall; for the face of the big man had been white. Mokra! There was bad blood between Kellani and Mokra. It might well be that the Nubian had done the deed. He belonged to a treacherous breed. Dick Malabar had'said—• A

By the way*, where was Malabar allinis time? He ought to have returned to the house before this! Suddenly concerned, Kent turned tp. the gardener.

“We must search the grounds thoroughly,; Sandy—, at once. Mr. Mÿàbar is ottf? there somewhere and he may need us. You fellows go back to bed and be sure that neither of you attempts to leave w ithout permission.

Come on, Sandy......- •

The first fury of the storm had lessened considerably. The rain was pelting dow n still, but the velocity of the wind had fallen off and the intervals between the lightning flashes and the following thunder peals lengthened steadily. The high brick wall at the foot of the garden, where Malabar had been seen in pursuit of the figure on the wall, was the logical point from which to start the search; but, of course, the deluge of driving rain had obliterated all footprints frcm the sward and had puddled the softer ground hopelessly.

Nevertheless, Kent sent-'the gardener off to the left while he went to the right, and they quartered back and forth, examining every piece of shrubbery and every stretch of lawn. The beam of the novelist’s electric torch was like a finger, probing in the dark, and as the search progressed without discovery of any clue to what had taken place out there in the storm, Kent’s anxiety grew. He was fast reaching the contusion that Dick Malabar had carried the pursuit outside the grounds altogether, when he heard a halloo from Sandy and saw the signal swing of the hurricane lamp, down at the foot of the driveway. '*

Kent joined him on the run. Sandy was pointing to a huddled heap near one of the big stone gate-posts and Kent ran forward with a mutter of fear as the light revealed mud-stained shirt-sleeves:

Malabar wásTying close to a small puddle, his head just out of the water. A red gash was visible w here his wet hair was plastered to one side and Kent turned him over anxiously. There was a great bruise on his forehead; his face was scratched and bleeding; hi$.shirt was ripped in several places, as if bullets— -V/i

“Dick! Dick!” cried Kent, shaking him gently by the shoulder. “Thank God!” he breathed as he noted the flutter of the eyelids. “Quick, Sandy, we must get him to the house as fast as possible.”

Malabar opened his eyes.

“Ch-cheerio!” he murmured.

“How badly hurt are you, old man? How are you feeling?” asked Kent as he made a hurried examination for bullet-wounds without finding any.

turned out. the last lights earlier and retired to the sitting-room for his vigil; if he had not stepped out on the portico for a breath of air; if he had not felt the need of stretching his legs by taking a final turn around the house to make sure that everything was securely fastened—!

He had not reckoned on the closeness with which the house was being watched or the boldness of the thieves. Apparently they had spied upon him as he sat, reading, in the library; no doubt, they realized that he was on guard and when he had gone outside for a moment they had been quick to seize the opportunity of eliminating him. He had no* known what struck him. When he recovered consciousness he had found himself in a far corner of the grounds, tied to a tree, hand and foot, with a gag in his mouth!

As simply as that the way had been cleared for entry, unmolested. When the storm broke and the deluge of rain had revived him, Richard Malabar had "fought the nausea of dizziness from the blow on his head and finally had succeeded in loosening his bonds. His first instinct had been to get back tc the house for his automatic, find ou* if Kent was all right and see what the thieves had accomplished. He let himself in through the French doors of the library. _

• “Very foolish of you to have gone outside, unarmed, Dick,” had been Kent’s comment.

“It never occurred to me that they would be on hand at that early hour. It was not yet midnight. Yes, it w as a fool thing to do.”

By the time Malabar had secured his weapon, which was in the side pocket of his coat, the storm had been in full blast. He was about to slip upstairs to see if everything w as all right—-

“Had you done so, things might have beert—Well never mind. Go on.”

“Eut, Kent, it was right then that I saw the bally fellow in the flopped hat. I saw him in a flash of lightning, making for the bushes from the direction of the house. He had the tail of his coat wrapped around something and tucked up under his arm—”

‘ The mummy of the cat!” t

and I went right out again after him.” ; “Through the library?” *■-

“Yes.”

“Leaving the door slightly ajar behind you?

“I th-ink so.”

“Ctherwise, being a spring lock, you would have locked yourself out”

“Quite so.”

■‘I wonder w ho closed it after you. When I came dow n and tried to get out through that dcor in a hurry^I found it not only closed but jammed so tightly I couldn't budge it.”

“Hold on, now'! I am not so sure that I left it open.f I seem to remember giving it a > ank to shut it as I sprang outside. No doubt it slammed shut behind me. There was such an uproar going on you couldn’t hear a thing, and I w as thinking only of stopping my man before he got away.”

APPARENTLY the thief realized that someone was after him; for he had hidden in the shrubbery and for a time had not made a move. Malabar had stalked him with all the skill he could command and had been rewarded at last by sight of his quarry, making for the garden at the rear of the house. The man was clambering the wall by the time the journalist had got within range: but at the first shot, dropped back and opened fire on his pursuer.

“Top—top-hole!” came Malabar’s voice, weakly. “Beggar got—clean aw ay!”

He1 fainted. They carried him quickly towards the house, bright now with illuminated w indow s.

■ " s

CHAPTER X.

RICHARD MALABAR’S escape might be considered to savor of the miraculous. He had been fired at several times at close quarters— point-blank, he said— ant} his bullet-torn shirt provided powder-stained evidence. He had come through unscathed, except for {he bruises, cuts and scratches—painful, but not at all serious. With a raw beef poultice bandaged across his forehead, he lay back in an easy chair in front of theflibrary grate, sipping a stiff teddy w hile he eyed the flaming coal. The sudden drop in temperature that hadj^dden in on the back of the storm made the fire^elcomgdn the coolness of the datKn hojir^T

For ijj \^ÍÍ^t»aaytó|í^-TJie rain was over. All thought óf.’ further sleep>,K&d been banished frcm the Lamont residence while its inmates aw aited the arrival of the police. A ddison Kent had telephoned a full report to Inspector Lowry, Chief of Detectives. Already Police Headquarters had ordered a dragnet for the missing Nubian and confidently hoped to have him brought in within a few hours. It would not be easy for one of his exceptional description to escape notice very long. Every underworld haunt where sanctuary might be sought would be combed, Kent knew, for two men of giant physique—one black, one white.

As he had listened to Malabar’s account of w hat had happened, the novelist had marvelled at the simplicity with which the theft had been accomplished in the face of the precautions taken to prevent it. It seemed almost as if Fate had conspired against them. If Malabar had

The duel had been fought out with only the lightning to reveal the whereabouts of each opponent. They had ducked about and stalked each other for some time and had come together unexpectedly at the foot of the driveway. Malabar w as unable to say whether any of his own bullets had found their mark; certainly, they had not stopped the final onslaught of the desperate giant. Fach had emptied his weapon by the time they had come so suddenly to grips and out of the dark the man had dealt Malabar a blow with the butt-end of his gun on the forehead. That was all Malabar had known until Kent had found him.

The awakening had been a very humiliating one for Richard Malabar when he had been told that the priceless golden scarab was gone and Mokra murdered. He seemed still dazed and had refused to believe until Kent had showm him the evidence. Malabar then had clenched his fists and knotted his jaw muscles in angry mortification.

“They’ve made a bally monkey of me, Kent! I had no business going outside the house; I should have gone on guard up in the sitting-room as we planned. It was upon my recommendation that we kept that ruby here—! I say, I wonder that you don’t give me hell for the jolly old mess I have made of the thing! I shan’t put up any defence, if you do; because, don’t you know, there is nothing to say.” He squared his shoulders. “Fire!”

Addison Kent smiled.

“If nobody ever made mistakes, Dick, the world would be a pretty unprofitable place for some of us. Fciget it! I am to blame for risking the golden scarab in the first place. It is for me to recover it and get to the bottom of this whole affair. Cheer up, now! The first skirmish gees to the enemy; but the fightjis only starting. And I have an idea that we shall find it not without interest.”

KENT gave the fire in the grate a poke or tw o, drew up a chair opposite the despondent Malabar and cheerfully proceeded to fill and light his pipe. The journalist studied the other’s keen face for a moment, noting the lines of determination, the firm mouth, the square chin.

“Would you mind telling me just where we are to head in?” he asked, rather dejectedly. “Outside of the fact that it looks as if Kellani killed Mokra and may have taken the scarab when he fled—I confess that is about as far as I can get,

Kent.”

“I’m afraid that is not lar enough, old man. If you dismiss it so simply, you eliminate the man who attacked you—■”

“No. He was outside, waiting for the Nubian to hand over the scarab and the mummy of the cat—in league with each other and all that sort of thing. I say, what about that cat business anyway? Why should they want to steal a thing like that, do you suppose?”

“How do you know it was stolen? How do you know there was any mummy of a sacred cat inside that case? The thing sounded hollow when you knocked on it, didn’t it?”

“By Jove! Yes, it did.”

“And it had been opened some time ago—since its original discovery. It was resmeared with fresher pitch along the joint, you remember?”

“Then why should they smash it open like that?”

“How do you know that it didn’t just burst open of its own accord?—change of atmosphere, humid weather, wood swelling? ’

“Come to think of it, why not?” agreed Malabar with interest. “The thing may have been empty without Professor Caron knowing it. Then you eliminate the cat, to start with?”

know, he having been taken there, blindfolded, by a German named Von Strom.

‘“"pHE Professor has told usa strange story of becoming

A lost in the w astes of the Upper Egyptian Desert and encountering unexpectedly this Von Strom, the leader of a nomadic band of brigands. Caron is shown what purports to be a genuine relic of ancient Thebes—a chronicle written upon papyrus in Egyptian hieroglyphics, dealing with ancient treasure, buried in a lost tomb. The Professor deciphers it, but is suspicious of its authenticity. Nevertheless, he pretends to be convinced and allows himself to be taken to this tomb and shown this buried treasure by the German.

“Again, we are at a blind end; because, undoubtedly, Caron intended to reveal to us why he believed the document was a fake and it is evident that it was because of what took place between him and the German at the hidden tomb that Professor Caron w-as in the present trouble to w hich he referred and on account of which he was seeking our aid.

“That much seems clear. But while we are waiting for our second interview with the professor, at which the full matter is to be laid before us, the unforeseen happens and he dies suddenly in the night. That effectually silences him and leaves his half-told story clouded in mystery.

“Subsequently, we discover that Caron was visited that nighl by a stranger, who wras secretly admitted to the library by the professor. This stranger took away with him the sealed package out of the safe. We surmise that it was the golden scarab he thought he WES taking. In the morning Caron wras found dead. The scarab we find safely hidden on the premises. Foolishly, we allow it to remain in the house to trap the thief, whose return we anticipate. He comes back he succeeds, he vanishes;— and so does the gèm! f think that about covers it, Dick?”

“Yes, and what I want to know is this; How did this man know where to look for the scarab? He must have had a confederate inside the house.” “Undoubtedly.”

‘ The Nubian?”

I think it very likely.” ‘He spied on us in the library, then—when we

were with Caron.”,■

“I think that Professor Caron was afraid of that very thing.”

“Kent, the Nubian threw that beetle into the room,” cried Malabar wdth sudden conviction.

“Quite likely,” smiled Kent. “And, if so, does that suggest anything else to you?”

“That the thing was a message—a warning?” “Yes—from this ‘Order of The Golden Scarab’ perhaps.”

“Oh, I say! They were both members! What?” “And it was Kellani who looked after the hiring of the cameleers and all the preparations for the Professor’s expedition into the desert. And it was Kellani who argued with them around the camp-fires—” “I know,” nodded Malabar. “I know what you are getting at. The thing was prearranged!”

“Exactly. Professor Caron was duped from the first. The guides deserted when the word was given and instead of being hopelessly lost, the Nubian led the professor to the valley where Von Strom awaited him.”

“He was one of the German’s own gang?”

“Yes. And instead of being his master’s obedient servant, as he stated so unctuously, he was virtually his master’s warder—

“I did not say so, Dick. But the cat seems to have worried you from the first and I suggest the possibility so that you can clear it out of your mind as a triviality or, at least, of secondary importance.

“Let us lay down the facts, as we know them. Professor Emil Caron, a gentleman of standing in the archaeological world, comes to New York with certain antiques for distribution to American museums. I receive a letter from A rmaund Lament, asking me to look after his guest who, forthwith, is installed at the Lament residence. He seems anxious to see me and hints that he has a special reason for that; later, when we call on him, he states openly that he is in trouble and that he seeks my help because Lamont has told him about my alleged ability in the detection of crime. He even mentions the name of an infamous gentleman cracksman, Alceste, with considerable apprehension—says that even though Alceste is dead, his evil lives after him; then he asks us if we ever heard of the ‘Order of the Golden Scarab,’ a secret society or something of the sort in the Fast. He is proceeding to tell us what is on his mind when he becomes frightened by something—”

“The sight cf a beetle, crawling on the table!”

“—and ends by iefusing to say anything more at that time and in that place. He promises, however, to give us his full confidence the next day and practically dismisses us.

“Prior to this, he has shown us a large and very valuable ruby, set in a golden scarab of exquisite design, removing it from a sealed package in the library safe and resealing the empty case. He has prepared a Quixotic hiding-place for the gem and refuses to have it removed from the house to a place of safety. We do not know how it came into his possession, except that he got it at some buiied tomb in Egypt, the location of which he does not

to see that he obeyed instructions and carried out whatever damnable purposes Von Strom had ensnared him to accomplish here in America!”

“By Jove! Kent, I believe you have hit the nail on the head.”

THE novelist raised his hand in a gesture of protest.

“It is never wise, Dick, to nail down a lid until sure that everything is in the box or to rope a trunk until it is fully packed. In the detection of crime shrewd guesswork and even pure chance often play a part. I doubt if any great criminal investigation, conducted by the finest police organization in the world, was ever worked through to a successful conclusion without the investigators, at some stage of the enquiry, thanking their ‘lucky stars’ for some fortuitous turn of circdmstances—some discovery that was purely a ‘piece of good luck.’ Preconceived theories are just so many handicaps to start with; the tendency is to try fitting the facts to the theory instead of the other way about. There is nothing more misleading than the by-paths of false premises.”

“But when you have a straight case of addition and subtraction—Seven and seven are fourteen every time.”

“Except when 7+7 = x—y,” corrected Addison Kent. “It is the unknown quantity in any equation which must be established.”

“Mathematical truths are beyond dispute, I always thought,” ventured Malabar doubtfully. “For instance, if you accept the first axiom of Euclid— that ‘things which are equal to the same thing are equal to one another’—”

“Then I must not misapply it. Otherwise, I will be proving to you that red is a color and blue is a color; therefore, each being the same thing, red is blue!” “Oh, but you can not mix red and blue that way because-—•”

“If you mix them, you will get purple.” “I certainly shall—purple in the face in a minute! What are we arguing about, anyway?”

“There is no argument. Even the mathematical Mr. Euclid had to establish certain things as facts before he could prove his problems. That is exactly what has to be done in this situation we are facing. We are hanging Kellani without evidence in court. We both feel sure that he killed Mokra; but, unless the Bertillon expert from Headquarters finds his fingerprints on the handle of that knife, we have no proof to offer.”

“The motive is clear enough; he and Mokra hated each other. Also, he has made a getaway.”

“Granted. It is quite legitimate for us to cast about in the dark for clues and it is because I want your angles on the situation that we are reviewing the possibilities. But we must not forget that it is facts we are seeking. I merely point out that we do not know yet that Professor Caron did not die from natural causes and, if that were so, might it not alter greatly our attitude towards his whole story? Perhaps the Egyptian sun affected his brain and the queer story he told us will become nothing more than an hallucination.”

“All I have to say to that, Kent, is to suggest that perhaps we did not see the golden scarab or the ruby and perhaps it has not been stolen and perhaps the Nubian is upstairs now, sleeping like a little child, in his bed and—finally ^nd completely—perhaps I have no bump on my head as big as a goose-egg! But 1 am forced to contend that some things transcend imagination!” And Malabar groaned.

“I think we may admit the bump on your head as an established fact,” conceded Addison Kent gravely.

“Well established!”

“Also, there are one or two other facts which the night has brought to our threshold for consideration.” Kent paused deliberately to give the fire another poke.

“What are you referring to?” asked Malabar, intrigued by something in the novelist’s manner.

“You were not in a condition to observe closely when we carried you in here, Dick. You probably did not see the dishpan out on the portico.' Ordinarily,

I do not put much stock in footprints—” “Footprints!”

“Yes. You did not know that we had a beautiful young woman visiting us during the storm and—" Æ VHBHAfiM

“What!” It came from Malabar explosively. He sat up in his chair with a jerk.

“She looked in at the glass doors there just as I looked out. I saw her quit clearly in a flash of the lightning. In fact we were within a couple of feet—•”

“Oh, the devil!” gasped Malabar with a note of exasperation.

“It’s a fact, Dick. Come out and see the neat mark of her rubbers.”

When they re-entered the library, Richard Malabar sank into his chair again. In his amazement he had hurried outside to examine this fresh evidence of further complications and apparently the effort had set his head whirling. His face was white and he closed his eyes weakly.

“All right—in a minute,” he reassured. “Awful crack I must have got— from that bounder.”

THE dizzy spell lasted but a moment and presently Malbar was questioning Kent eagerly. What did the woman look like? She was young? Was she beautiful? What did she do? Had Kent followed her? Where did she go? What in under the sun was she doing out in such a storm at such an hour? In fact, for one who openly had confided to Addison Kent that he was not interested in women in the slightest degree, Mr. Dick Malabar seemed to be surprisingly thirsty for information.

“I did not know that you had a romantic streak in you, Dick,” said Kent in amusement.

“Rot!” denied Malabar. “But, good heavens, man, the thing is so—well, it is like one of your own novels!” he finished mischievously.

“The question is: what connection had this girl with the theft that has taken place?”

“None whatsoever!” Malabar declared emphatically. “I refuse to have it spoiled by anything so sordid. I prefer to think of her as a beautiful young lady whose car broke down, somewhere on the neighboring highway, and who was seeking help. And, instead of gallantly coming to her rescue and proffering help, you frightened her away!”

“Seriously, though, Dick—”

“To let her get away like that!” Malabar reproached. “Our stars were not in the ascendant this night! You realize that she’s gone, do you not?— vanished? You will never see her again. You can not go all over New York, examining the rubbers of every pretty girl you meet. There must be a thousand girls wearing new rubbers of the exact size and shape—”

“That is true,” admitted Kent. “I do not put much stock in footprints as being of practical use, as I said before. I make use of them legitimately enough, in fiction, because there I can make it snow or rain whenever the need arises and read a whole book of misdeeds out of the tracks conveniently left for my detective. But I am not foolish enough to try that sort of thing in this case. The fact cf the matter is that most footprints look alike and very few people walk so flat on their feet as to make distinct impressions. I covered those marks outside, chiefly to convince you of the lady’s presence.

“However, once in a while, a footprint carries some significance, even in a real case, Dick. We learned a little from the footmarks over there on the corner of the Axminster rug—that the man who visited Professor Caron wore golf boots.” “I fail to see the significance of that.” “Perhaps not in itself; but it remains for me to tell you that in the soft earth, close to one of the cellar window s which Sandy and I found wide open, I have under cover of a box a very perfect print of a large golf boot with every stud showing distinctly. And up in the bedroom—in the corner where the mummycase of the cat stood—there is a second clear imprint of the same boot.”

“Well, by George! That proves conclusively that the same man who visited Caron is the thief who got away with the golden scarab to-night and—Eh? Why, it is as clear as—”

“Mud!” finished Kent. “In fact, the very clearness with which the muddy tracks have been made prove differently.” “That it was not the same man, you mean?”

“Yes. I measured very carefully the

marks on the rug and made a drawring of them. The new footprints are three sizes smaller, for one thing, and for another, the rubber studs on the soles are a different make altogether!”

Malabar stared blankly. He rubbed his chin in perplexity.

“I fail to see that that proves the point, Kent,” he objected. “The man may have changed his boots. Lots of men wear boots too large for them, or too small.”

“The imprints have been too carefully placed to be genuine!”

CHAPTER XI.

THE electric call of the front doorbell rang loudly through the silence of the great hallway.

The windows were blueing with daylight. From the distant kitchen came the sound of an egg-beater in a bowl and the aroma of coffee.

“Donovan,” murmured Kent as he arose to answer the summons in person. In the vestibule he switched on the lights.

But it was not the police. Kent paused in surprise before opening the outer doors; for through the grilling he saw the tailored figure of a young woman, standing upon the tiled threshold. She turned at his approach.

“I have called to see Mr. Addison Kent,” she began. “I understand he is here. Inspector Lowry said—” She hesitated, then smiled brightly. “Perhaps I have the honor of addressing Mr. Kent?”

The novelist bowed politely, conscious of a lyric quality in the well modulated contralto voice that was particularly pleasing to his ear. He held the door open for her to enter, which she did wdth a murmur of thanks.

“I really must apologize, Mr. Kent, for intruding upon you at such an unusual hour; but in my profession no distinction is made betwen night and day when the call comes. May I introduce myself? I am Miss Rockwood, of the Mercury.”

A newspaper woman! He might have known! Pie eyed her doubtfully; but before he could say a word, she had sensed his hesitation and had smiled at him. It was a smile of unusual appeal and the charm of it affected Kent strangely. He did not want to talk to any newspaper representative. He did not want to hand out a story to the press before the police investigation. Whatever possessed Lowry—! Yet he found himself smiling back at her.

“You see, Mr. Kent, I live out here in Westchester and my paper called me as soon as they heard. The Mercury, as you know, has a reputation for enterprise—” “But, my dear Miss Rockwood!” protested Kent, at last finding voice, "this is such quick work that I am afraid it defeats itself. We hardly know what has happened ourselves. The police are not here yet and until they take charge it would be inadvisable for me to give you^ particulars of robbery and murder-—” He noted her sudden alertness at the word. “How much did Inspector Lowry tell you?”

“I only know that there is a good news story here and that I was told to get enough of the facts for an extra. Who has been murdered?”

“Come into the library, Miss Rockwood,” suggested Kent. “I must ask you to w:ait until the police arrive. They should be here at any moment now.”

As he held aside the portieres Kent saw her hesitate when she caught sight of Richard Malabar in front of the fireplace.

“Allow' me to present a fellow journalist, Miss Rockwood— Mr. Richard Malabar, of the London Daily World. Do not be alarmed by the bandage; for he bears a charmed life—” He paused, suddenly conscious that she was paying no attention to him. He looked at Dick Malabar, who had risen to his feet in evident embarrassment, a slow flush coming to his white face. Kent beamed upon them.

“Not the Richard Malabar—-the famous correspondent? Oh, Mr. Malabar, this is a very great pleasure to me—to—to find you alive and well and to meet you. Some of us here on the New York papers have missed your articles for some time past and a rumor got into circulation— that you had been killed by bandits in Morocco somewhere. You know how such rumors travel—”

Continued on page SO

Continued from po.ge 28

SHE sat down in the chair which Malabar drew up for her without taking her eyes off him—large, lovely brown eyes. Kent felt the fascination of those eyes. They were remarkable. In fact, as the novelist stole the opportunity of studying the visitor more, closely he needed nobody to inform him that Miss Rockwood, of the Mercury, was a very beautiful young lady with a special charm of her own. It w'as not hard to imagine that with such personality and evident gifts she must be successful in her chosen work; yet his inability to recall where he had met her before made him feel annoyed with himself. At some ßocial function or other, .no doubt; but where? His memory refused to answer.

“You are not badly hurt, I hope, Mr. Malabar. You must tell me what happened. I want to know all about it, please. I would have telephoned;Jjut the ßtorm must have interfered with the ■wires somehow, for I couldnfit get the connection and" was told the telephone here was out of order.” r

“The wires were ciitr, Miss Rockwood,” Malabar informed her. Now that his first embarrassment had worn off, he seemed eager to talk to her—as eager as she was to listen. He looked across at Kent with a certain defiance in his grin.

“I have just told Miss Rockwood, ;Dick, that we can not possibly give out A story for publication until the police -arrive. It will be all right, for her to remain here until the police take charge ,*nd get her story from them.”

“But what a waste of time, _ Mr. Kent!” she protested. “I am quite willing to promise not to use the information Mr. Malabar gives me until the police confirm it. Is my promise not acceptable?”

Kent was conscious of a challenge in fier smile as she turned the full appeal of those fascinating eyes upon him. ■There was amusement in them and it required Malabar’s understanding grin -to stiffen his resistance.

“I have always been taught from .earliest youth, Miss Rockwood, that only half of the letters in the word ‘beauty’ .can be used in spelling ‘duty.’ I fear that Mr. Malabar in his weakened condition .—why not ask me the questions you would ask him?” he bantered.

“Can a writer of popular fiction be trusted to handle facts?”

Kent acknowledged the thrust with a lift of the eyebrows.

“Judging by what one sees in the -newspapers—!” came his countering Idrawl; but the sentence did not require finishing. Besides, with the utmost .daring Dick Malabar had suddenly leaned over, captured one of the lady’s ;little gloved hands and patted it reassuringly.

“Naturally, Miss Rockwood, the events of the night have upset my friend, Kent. You will make allowances for him, I am sure. He used to be a •newspaper man himself; that’s how he .got cynical and ever since then it is his ^constant delight to obstruct honest, hardworking newspaper folk like you and me and prevent them from carrying out their orders. Now , get out your notebook and I’ll tell you just what happened to me and if he objects to us sitting in front of this nice fire, we will go outside and I will tell you what I know out there.”

DURING this remarkable speech the girl turned impulsively towards Kent and again he was conscious of her eyes. Any resentment he might have felt at Malabar’s assumption of authority was utterly submerged in the realization that she had allowed Dick to hold her hand for a moment. She actually seemed to like it! To his further disturbance Malabar proceeded at once to give her an account of his night’s adventure which varied not a jot from the actual facts as Malabar had related them to Kent. He did not attempt to spare himself; rather, he enlarged upon his negligence. He glanced at Kent once or twice, but the novelist’s head was turned resolutely away; if Malabar were playing for her sympathy and thought that Kent was going to come graciously to his rescue with words of deprecation, he was sadly mistaken. Let him take the blame! He was to blame! It would look fine in print! Serve him right!

But as the recital progressed and Kent stole a glance at Miss Rockwood scribbling notes with her gold pencil, he failed

to discover any abatement in her evident admiration. In fact, the pair were becoming so absorbed in each other that neither paid any further attention to him and he began to feel foolish and a little piqued. He knew that she was eager to get the story and that she would not abuse the privilege of this advance information. Her promise was perfectly good, as his own would have been in like circumstances. He had only succeeded in appearing boorish! He felt strangely awkward and angry with himself for feeling so.

He glanced across at her again. Her neck was very beautifully formed. The tailored costume she was wearing was becoming; it suggested the elegance of a perfectly developed and sylph-like body. There was strength of character in her round, delicately modelled chin. The profile of her straight nose, the softness of her mouth with its suggestion of the sentimental without weakness, the proud carriage of her head—here was quality as well as beauty, refinement as well as daring. What a girl for a heroine in his next book, he thought, as he studied her!

Then he realized, all at once, that Malabar was removing the bandage to show her the bruise on his forehead! He saw the solicitation in her expressive eyes; he heard her little gasp of commiseration and caught the womanly tenderness in her low-spoken words. She reached over impulsively and patted Malabar’s hand.

ADDISON KENT quietly stood up and left the room. He was not wanted!_ He was completely out of it! Maybe if he had had a sore toe to show like Tom Sawyer!—or was it Huckleberry Finn? Where had he met this girl before? One thing was certain; he was going to see that he met her again, just the two of them! Nonsense! What was the matter with him, to be going on like this? It was just that he was interested in her as a type to study—for story purposes. Type? No, hardly that. She was in a class by herself!

So he told himself as he wandered towards the kitchen quarters. The fragrance of coffee was very appetizing and he would have Gaston prepare a nice breakfast-tray and bring it in to the library beside the fire. Perhaps she would be glad to join them in a cup of coffee at least. On second thought, why not take in the tray himself when it was ready? That was why he had got up and left the room, wasn’t it?:—to be a thoughtful host? She would appreciate it, he felt sure, and he fussed about in the diningroom, carefully selecting the finest traycloth and napkins—the daintiest cups and saucers he could find.

“Get a move on, Gaston. We have a lady guest for breakfast and she’s famished. Are the eggs on? Toast done? Good!”

Finally it was ready and he wheeled in the wagonette triumphantly—and

nearly upset the whole thing. There was nobody in the library but Dick Malabar! “Where is Miss Rockwood?”

“She left a moment ago—out the library door. Said she had to telephone her paper right away-—■”

“But Great Scott, man! She didn’t have to go out to do that! Didn’t you tell her we had the cut wires repaired now and that the ’phone here was working again?”

“Well, by George! I am a silly ass and no mistake!” cried Malabar, his face twisting in disgust. “I clean forgot that for the moment!”

“Hmph!” grunted Kent. “You say she went out this way? What was the idea? Why didn’t she use the front—?” He stepped across to the French doors with a quick stride. He opened them and went out on the portico.

“Hey!” called Malabar. “Shut the door! The breakfast is getting cold!” “Come here!” snapped Addison Kent, so sharply that Malabar started. “She stepped in that little mud-puddle there. And here is an almost perfect imprint of her left rubber at the edge of the tiling.” He pointed. “Compare it with this imprisoned footprint under the dishpan.” “By Jove ! ” ejaculated Malabar. “Identical, eh?”

“In size, shape—even the criss-cross marks! Brand new rubbers!”

The look on Dick Malabar’s face was a study in cdmical dismay.

“You think—? Oh, rot!” he cried. “Fancy Miss Rockwood out in that bally storm and looking in through those glass doors at three -o’clock in the morning! You can not expect me to swallow that, Kent. Preposterous!”

“I told you before that I did not put much stock in footprints. Rather an interesting similarity, though.”

Malabar searched his face keenly as they re-entered the library; it was masklike, with a touch of grimness about the mouth.

“Look here, Kent, remember what I said a while ago: there are a thousand women in New York, wearing new rubbers of the same size and shape. You’ll have to examine the feet of a thousand—” “No. Only nine hundred and ninetynine now!” He wheeled the wagonette alongside the two chairs in front of the fire.

Malabar chuckled.

“This cures me of any ambition to be a ‘Sherlock Holmes!’ Too much worry over a lot of little things that do not lead anywhere. Wait till I tell this to Miss Rockwood as soon as she gets back—” “She will not cöme back here,” asserted Kent seriously.

“What? When she is through telephoning? Don’t be an ass!”

“And when the police get here we shall find that Inspector Lowry did not send the lady to us at all—has never met her, in fact. That is why she departed so hurriedly.”

“Are you crazy?”

“What is more, when we presently call up the managing-editor of the Mercury we shall find that there is no ‘Miss Rockwood’ on his staff!”

Malabar stared at him.

“Do you mean it?”

“Absolutely.”

For Addison Kent thought he knew now where he had met her before. A certain poise of the head, the straight nose, the haunting familiarity-—it was undoubtedly the girl in the hooded mackintosh who had peered through the glass doors in the midst of the storm about five hours before!

“You are all wrong, Kent,” scoffed Malabar with a laugh. “I shall continue to believe in Miss Rockwood. She’s a mighty attractive girl. Charming!” “Hmph!” Kent looked at him steadily. “She certainly ‘pulled your leg,’ my boy!” “Our leg,” corrected Malabar, complacently, his mouth full of toast.

Try hard not to be an utter fathead!” growled Kent, as he poured coffee into two of the three dainty cups.

CHAPTER XII

TWO weeks sped by. It was a busy time for Addison Kent and an interval of disappointments for the official police so far as making any definite progress in their search for the murderer of Mokra was concerned. Although many notorious underworld haunts had been combed and certain marked denizens thereof had gone through a grilling at headquarters, not a single trace of Kellani, the huge Nubian servant of the late Professor Caron, had come to light. The big city had swallowed him as completely as if he had ceased to exist. In fact, the police machine having failed, the belief was growing on Center Street that the river was the place to look for him.

The newspapers were tiring of the case. At first they had revelled in its possibilities, playing up in headlines the sudden death of Professor Caron in the Westchester home of his friehd, Lamont—making much of the mummies and antiques he had brought from Egypt and of his notable record as an Egyptologist. But the inquest upon the slaying of Mokra had been exceedingly short and disappointing, owing to the lack of evidence and the scarcity of witnesses. Similarly, the enquiry into the death of the archaeologist had led nowhere and the medical evidence of the autopsy was full of learned medical terms that boiled down into the fact that Professor Caron was undeniably dead—probably from natural causes. The doctors were in disagreement on some points; but that appeared to be the prerogative of doctors anyway.

As Addison Kent listened to the evidence he marvelled at the skill with which the coroner refrained from asking questions that were liable to upset the mere formalities. For official reasons the police desired to keep certain facts from the public for the present. Neither Kent nor Malabar were afforded opportunity for telling all they knew, even had they been so disposed. Their statements had been made without reserve to the police; but no mention of the valuable ruby w hich had been stolen, nor of the story the late savant had told them, nor of the nocturnal visitor to the library—none of these things found their way into the newspapers. Even the details of what happened on the night of the storm were very incomplete and centred upon the flight of Kellani. Kent was allowed to tell how he was awakened by the storm and with Sandy, the gardener, discovered Mokra’s body; but all reference to the big man who had stood on the wall was carefully eliminated from Malabar’s story.

Of course, all this was done in order that the work of the police investigation might go forward unhampered. It suited Addison Kent perfectly; but he had never been more impressed with the farcical nature of this preliminary legal formality by means of which the law established the fact that a man was dead and “person or persons unknown” had killed him!

The results of the autopsy in the case of Caron interested Kent greatly. As he closely questioned his friend, Dr. Harvey, in the latter’s office, the novelist’s mystification grew. There seemed to be something queer about the whole thing.

“You say, Harvey, that there was evidence of anemia of the brain. Just what do you mean?—that it was a chronic condition?”

Continued on page J,1

The Golden Scarab

Continued from page 30

“Ne, not chronic—if by that you imply that it had been a constant condition, extending over a period of time. It is my contention that the anemia was forced, though what would bring that about in this case 1 can not imagine.” “Forced!” echoed Kent thoughtfully. “You are telling me, then, that there should have been more blood in the brain than you found. Would not the fact that he was in an upright position—?”

DR. HARVEY shook his head with a touch of irritation.

“That is what the others seemed to. think; but I know better,” he affirmed. “I disagreed on that point positively. The blood does drain out of the arteries after death. Quite true. But not enough for the brain to press against the skull—”

“ Y ou found that in this case?”

“We did—at least, I did. I stick to that. Nor does the upright position of the body account for the engorgement of the splanchnic blood-vessels of the abdominal area and—•”

“Their condition was abnormal?” asked Kent quickly.

“Decidedly so. You have studied anatomy, Ad, and you will recall the fact that the splanchnic vessels are easily dilated; they act as a blood reservoir. After eating, for instance, more blood is required by the digestive organs—But I need not go into all that.”

“Did you find the stomach full of food?”

“No. It was almost empty.”

“Then the swollen blood-vessels were not due to the natural digestive processes?”

“No. That is what makes the condition so puzzling to me. Kent, I am blest if I can account fer it! I never saw anything like it before. Even the vessels in the legs were dilated!”

“Abnormally?”

“Yes.”

The novelist pondered, his brows drawn in a frown of perplexity.

“I understand the chloral hydrate found in the stomach was not enough to cause death?” he offered at length.

“Not at all. He had had a normal dose -—only enough for a harmless sleepingdraught.”

“Then, what was the cause of death?” “Brain anemia; ruptured blood-vessel; some kind of stroke—Take your choice! But if you ask me what brought it about — Frankly, I do not know!”

“There was nothing organically the matter with him, then? No heart trouble or anything like that?”

“Not a thing!”

“Thanks, old man.” Addison Kent held out his hand and reached for his hat. His lean, tanned face was thoughtful. “What you tell me definitely confirms a suspicion I have been entertaining. Now I am positive that Professor Caron met with foul play. But, until we can discover the diabolical manner of it, the fact cannot be proved. And until it is established that a crime has been committed, the murderer could dine with the District Attorney and the Police Commission without a qualm. It is the damnedest thing I ever bumped into! Well, so long! Keep you posted if there are any developments.”

FROM Dr. Harvey’s office Kent swung past the Knickerbocker and made for the subway kiosk. He wanted a word with Inspector Lowry, Chief of Detectives at the Bureau. As the train roared away with him, however, his thoughts switched back to the beautiful young woman who had stepped into the case out of the storm. Where was he to place her in the tangle? As he had surmised, Inspector Lowry knew nothing of her; neither did the Mercury! Never before in

his life had Addison Kent been so completely baffled, so keenly absorbed in a girl for her own sake; but when he allowed his mind to dwell upon the appeal of her personality, he was brought to a rude halt by the facts of the case. The two did not fit at all and the result was a doublebarrelled interest—professional on one hand; entirely personal on the other!

He and Malabar had argued about it for half an hour. She certainly had bowled old Dick right off his feet! He persisted in refusing to admit that “Miss Rockwood” was anything but a jolly fine girl and he didn’t care a tinker’s damn whether she was really a newspaper woman or not or whether she had looked in through every glass door in New York in the middle of every bally storm that had blown along for a year or more. So far as he was concerned, she could make a regular habit of it and he would still say that she was all right and probably had good reasons of her own for everything she did and it was nobody’s bally business—!

Regarding Miss Rockwood there was no sane argument in him. Malabar could be as reckless as he liked and be as big a fool as he liked; but, decidedly, it was Kent’s business to find out who this girl was and why she had masqueraded as a member of the Mercury staff and why—she must have had some reason for spying upon them at that early hour of the morning. Had she forgotten something when she came to the house in the storm and returned to find it? Was she concerned in the theft of the golden scarab? If so, that theft having been successfully accomplished, why did she run the risk of coming back on the scene right on the heel of the robbery?

On the other hand, if she were not in league with the gang, what on earth was she doing there at that hour under such weather conditions? Her motive must have been a strong one and Kent was entirely at a loss to find the answer, whip up his imagination as he might.

He had been afraid to make his questions to Lowry and the Mercury other than casual for fear of arousing too much curiosity. He would follow a lone trail in his search for the girl, he decided. Where could he pick it up? It appeared to be a hopeless quest.

HE EMERGED from his absorption in the problem just in time to leave the underground at the Canal Street station. He made his way up the stairs and turned into Center Street where was to be found the old brick and stone structure of the Criminal Courts Building, joined to the Tombs prison by the Bridge of Sighs, and where also was located the graystone Police Headquarters. Towards the latter building he directed his steps.

Inspector Lowry greeted him with a very-man-we-want-to-seeheartiness. Kent was popular at Police Headquarters; it was generally known that he stood high with the Commissioner, the District Attorney and the Washington authorities. A wellthumbed set of the detective novels he had written was to be found in a reading-room bookcase. The practical work he had done for the Bureau at different times was appreciated, particularly the fact that Addison Kent was always ready to step aside and allow the police to take most of the credit for the work he did. In his hob-nobbing about he had madefriends in every department of the service.

But just now the inspector was glad to see him, because Jerry Donovan had been trying to get Kent on the telephone all afternoon to inform him that they had decided to raid a certain place, upon which suspicion had fallen, in the hope of discovering a clue to the disappearance of Kellani.

The Cafe Belgique on lower Third

Avenue was a cheap restaurant which sought to cover its deficiencies by a gaudy show of ornate front. As an eatingplace it was not as clean as it might have been nor was the food uniformly well cooked. The class of patrons to whom it catered, however, did not appear to be over particular in regard to these things, which were overbalanced by the smoothness of the dancing floor, the excellence of the jazz orchestra and the general gaiety of the place. The cabaret, the police knew, was merely a blind for the real business carried on—upstairs, at the back of the cafe, where were hidden various questionable devices by which one might lose as much money in an evening’s play as one happened to have available.

This fifth-rate gambling dive was run by a shifty-eyed individual of doubtful antecedents, known as “Singer” Lieb, who stoutly maintained at all times that he was a Belgian. A police raid upon the Belgique was no new thing; whenever the police were at a loss, a strong-arm squad descended upon Singer’s place on the chance of nètting somebody who was “wanted”: for odd were the fish who glided in and out of the troubled waters of this notorious “joint.” More than once had gunmen of rival gangs demonstrated the quickness of their triggerfingers upon the premises. It was no “show-place” for curious visitors, seeking underworld “sights.” It was the real thing!

Kent indulged in a slow smile, therefore, at mention of “Singer” Lieb, so called because of his habitual sing-song flow of talk when presiding over a gambling game which required announcement of its movements. Singer was a tin-horn who in his day had toured the fairs with various crooked wheels of fortune: he had been confidence man, race-track tout, shell-game artist and what-not in his younger days. Now that he was fat and bald and “wealthy,” he played for bigger stakes in equally questionable ways on the edge of the underworld. The fact that the police had decided to raid the Belgique indicated to Addison Kent how completely at a standstill was their investigation.

FOR nearly an hour the novelist and the inspector were closeted together. When the interview was over Kent"'-went straight to his rooms in Minaki Annex, just off Riverside Drive; he remained there the balance of the afternoon, going through his mail and poring over certain volumes and folders from his very complete files. He studied his medical charts on anatomy for a while. The street lights were on when he finally took a bus, sitting lost in a world of his own all the way down town. He came back to realities in time to transfer to a taxi at 42nd Street and dismissed it at a point on lower Fourth Avenue. He then walked briskly around a corner or two and vanished somewhat suddenly from sight down a flight of steps to a basement entry where a crude, half hidden sign announced that S. Pomereski cleaned, pressed and repaired while you waited.

“Good evening, Pom,” nodded Addison Kent to the lean, white-faced, big-nosed Polish proprietor who sat cross-legged, plying his needle industriously.

The shop was empty and the novelist passed on through to the curtains that shut off the back apartment, where Pomereski promptly joined him.

With the dropping of his needle and thread the Pole seemed to acquire new personality. His eyes gleamed with interest as Kent threw aside coat and vest. He bustled in and out with various garments, exhibiting the enthusiasm of an artist. For that was what Pomereski was—an artist in transformation, a master of theatrical make-up but as well a past master in the art of street disguise so clever that it could stand the closest scrutiny under the strongest light.

And of all his patrons this handsome young man was his favorite, his confidante and friend of long standing and proven worth. For S. Pomereski had not always been S. Pomereski, the tailor. He spoke several languages; he was one of the most valued lieutenants of Mr. Addison Kent on occasion.

“I will have none of this theatrical clap-trap,” Kent had stated in the beginning of their association. “We’ll leave the wigs and false whiskers, greasepaint and all that to Monsieur Lacoq

and the pages of Gaboriau. I want only natural appearance, a change of expression-watch my face!”

And at the demonstration of facial mobility Pomereski’s eyes had shone with appreciation and understanding. He was an artist and here was a client after his own heart.

PERHAPS half an hour after Addison Kent had entered the inconspicuous little tailoring shop, there departed a nondescript young man of very ordinary appearance, somewhat shabbily dressed in a wrinkled and grease-spotted sack suit which at its best had been a cheap ‘ hand-me-down.” He walked with the slouch of fatigue, as if he had trudged many blocks that day, looking for work. His hair was uncombed and his neck none too clean above the greasy cottar of his coat.

Opposite the Cafe Belgique, over on Third Avenue, this tired and hungry individual came to a hesitant halt and looked across at the brightly lighted and garish front of the restaurant. His hand came slowly from his pocket and he counted the coins on his palm with anxiety. Finally, having watched for a pause in the flow of traffic, he crossed the street, noting as he did so that a taxi was drawn up at the curb, directly in front öf the entrance to the cafe. It was empty, but no “vacant” sign showed on the indicator.

Kent crossed the sidewalk and as he stepped into the entrance he almost collided with a young woman who was hurrying out. He felt her staring at him intently. Just for an instant he looked her full in the face; then she had brushed past him quickly, was across the intervening space and into the taxi.

The slam of the door galvanized him into action. He started to run towards the taxi, but was too late to stop it as it spurted off up the street. He stood at the curb for a few seconds, staring after it uncertainly. Then he saw the girl’s face peering back at him through the rear window—startled, anxious.

Kent’s eyes roved quickly about him. There was no taxi in sight which he could hail; but on the opposite side stood a shabby Ford runabout and he darted across to it, blessing his good fortune as he heard the low beat of the running engine. The owner had just disappeared through a shop door nearby. There was no time to explain ; so Kent slid in behind the wheel, planted his feet into position and was off in pursuit.

For that startled face at the rear window of the taxi—those wide-open eyes—! In spite of the heavily rouged cheeks, the gaudy clothes, the giddy little hat, Kent recognized her!—recognized the same startled look that had been indelibly printed on his memory in a long flash of lightning! It was the girl of the hooded mackintosh who had looked in at him out of the storm! It was the “Miss Rockwood” who had posed as belonging to the Mercury staff! —dressed now like a chorus girl in some cheap burlesque show!

With a thrill of elation, he stepped on the accelerator, honked defiance of all traffic regulations and gave chase.

CHAPTER XIII

ADDISON KENT pulled the runabout around a corner on two wheels just in time to see that the white body of the girl’s taxi flashed out of sight, two blocks distant. It had gained on him down the comparatively quiet street into which he had just turned and with horn honking he sped along as fast as the little runabout could go. The driver of the taxi knew his business and, urged by his fare, no doubt was making for streets where there was greatest freedom from traffic congestion. Unless Kent could catch up with him before the chase resolved itself into a test of speed, it would be hopeless; for the taxi could out-distance him on a straightaway stretch. Kent’s one hope was that the pursued would be held up somewhere in a temporary blockade of traffic.

As he turned the next corner, therefore, he peered ahead anxiously and was elated to note that he had gained. The white taxi was just a little over a block ahead now; but, even as he was congratulating himself, he heard a traffic policeman’s shrill whistle and saw the cab dart forward again, boldly passing between two trucks, dodging in and out

in an effort to get to the front before the whistle blew again. Kent realized that he himself was going to be stopped by that next traffic signal and he instantly put on his brakes, backed around the corner and fairly flew down the sidestreet to the parallel avenue. Up this he turned and made steady progress.

He had this manoeuvre to thank for the sight he presently caught of his quarry, crossing less than half a block away. The driver seemed to be trying a similar move. Then he saw the white cab pull in to the curb unexpectedly; the girl stepped out and walked rapidly away. The taxi swung out again and was gone.

“Thinks she’s given me the slip,” chuckled Kent as he brought the runabout to a standstill on the side-street, jumped out and went after her on foot.

It was soon evident that the girl was anxious to make sure of her escape, however; for she turned every corner she came to and once she crossed the street and doubled back on her trail, slipping into a dark doorway and remaining there for some time, watching passers-by. It was fortunate that Kent had divined the stratagem in time to get under cover or he would have been discovered. At last she seemed satisfied and started out again, still laying a zigzag course which presently brought her to a cross town car-line. With a sharp glance over her shoulder she boarded the first surface car that came along.

Kent hailed a taxi and trailed along at a safe distance. When she left the street-car, he dismissed the cab and was not half a block behind her when she stopped at a corner and was joined by a man—large, heavily built, dressed in rough tweeds and wearing a loud purple tie. The man raised his hard, black hat and they appeared to greet each other like old friends.

Kent puckered his lips in a soundless whistle and got as near to them as he dared. He could not overhear what they said and he was rather relieved to see them bid each other good-night and go in opposite directions; for he did not like the looks of the man. The gjrl turned back and passed on the opposite side of the street. The novelist strolled casually across and followed discreetly, wondering what she had said to her uncouth acquaintance and where she was going now.

He was not long left in doubt; for presently he realized that their course along the street was bringing them directly towards a district of second-class apartment houses on a curving street in the neighborhood of Seventh Avenue. He was not surprised to see her mount the steps of a large apartment house and it was with some satisfaction that he waited to follow and obtain the address; no doubt this was the end of the chase.

Ï-IE WAS about to step boldly across when he was disconcerted to observe the big man in the tweed suit and the purple tie come striding around the nearest corner and make for the apartment house, entering without hesitation. Kent lost no time in getting after him and was rewarded by the sight of the girl shaking hands with him. Together they entered the elevator, fortunately with their backs to the entrance, and they did not observe him on the outer steps.

He backed dowm, perplexed. What should he do now? He strolled a few paces on the sidewalk, gazing up at the front windows, floor upon floor of suites. For a moment he was convinced that he had made a mistake in identity—that she could not be the girl he sought; that perhaps, after all, this was a cheap little actress, meeting her “gentleman friend” by appointment. Yet he shcok his head impatiently. He had a strong memory for faces and it was not often that his intuition was at fault. No, he was not on any wild-goose chase, no matter how appearances might point.

What name would she be using here? Without that knowledge, he could not enter the place and boldly locate her. They must not see him and it looked as if there was nothing for it but to stay outside and wait till they came out, a rather unpromising prospect. Unless—

Unobserved, he slipped around to the rear of the place and surveyed the building anxiously. With two exceptions the windows of the rear suites were lighted. One suite on the ground floor was dark and another, directly above it

on the fourth floor—Even as he looked, the light came on and with satisfaction he saw the unmistakable figure of the girl as she pulled down the blind.

What luck! He had them located! Still, what good did that do him? He stood there, watching that oblong of light, four floors up, and turned over the possibilities. He might enter the building through the front, go up to the fourth floor and reach their very door; but then—? Was he justified in eavesdropping, even allowing that he could hear their conversation? What was this man to her?

The huge shadow of the subject of his speculation just then moved into the yellow oblong of light. The fellow was standing there, legs outspread apparently, and his arms raised in angry gesticulation. For all Kent knew, this “sport” might have the girl in his power and be threatening her! Manifestly, it was his duty to get into a position where he could be of assistance to her, if she needed him.

The fire-escape captured his attention now. Could he negotiate it without being seen? If he could get up to that window—

He was underneath it in a couple of strides. The reflection from the lighted windows was all he had to risk; the dim globe above the tradesmen’s entrance was around at the side. Here at the back was an area of clotheslines, stretching across from each suite to pulley-wheels which were fastened in a blank brick wall of the neighboring building. There was a possibility that the janitor might come out or that some tenant might begin manipulating a clothesline. Well, he would have to chance that. His greatest danger would be in passing the lighted windows on the second and third floors.

The first platform of the escape was twelve feet above his head; but by standing on a huge ashbin, he was able to reach a ground floor window-sill and from there swing off to the grating and pull himself up. It took muscle; but he managed it without noise and sat down to remove his boots.

With these in his hand he crept cautiously and slowly upward. A noisy wrangle that was going on in the secondsuite favored him, and with redoubled care he edged past the third-floor windows. In each case luckily the blinds were drawn, and he climbed soundlessly, although his heart nearly stopped beating once as he almost stepped on a saucer of milk, evidently set out for the family cat!

AT LAST, with a deep breath of relief, he found himself on the platform at the fourth-floor window. He almost exclaimed aloud in the joy with which he noted that the blind had not been pulled down all the way; there was a crevice of light showing at the bottom of it and he would be able to see into the room. For a moment he lay at full length beneath the window, scarcely daring to breathe; he must make sure that his passage up the fire-escape had not attracted unwelcome notice before he risked the shadow of his head against the lighted window.

But nothing happened. A man came out somewhere below, whistling a jazz tune, and pottered about, his boots scraping on the granolithic pavement; but he went away again, still whistling. A door banged in the basement. A cat in the area was meowing, meowing. A window opened somewhere and loud voices reached him in heated argument, mingled with the blare of a phonograph, playing “Mamma loves Papa!” Then the window slammed shut again and these sounds were cut off.

Very slowly he raised himself to his knees and looked into the room. The girl was standing on one side of a small table near the centre, talking rapidly in a low voice; he could not distinguish a word she was saying, but he could see that she was making some sort of earnest appeal to the big man. The latter was listening with head to one side and a smirk twisting his coarse, wide lips, while his eyes never left the girl’s face; those eyes in their smallness seemed lost in the gross expanse of his beefy countenance. The bulging muscles of the thick shoulders ended in a short bull neck. At the edge of his blond hair a wen protruded from his forehead. Teutonic, was Kent’s prompt appraisal as he took in every detail with instant antagonism. He would know this person again whenever and wherever he saw him.

The novelist’s ear already was pressed close to the window; but the musical murmur of the girl’s voice was still indistinct. If only the window were raised a fraction of an inch—! But he dare not experiment; his position was too precarious and the least sound would lead to instant discovery.

Then, unexpectedly, a sharp exclamation reached him, startling him beyond measure. It was loud with astonishment and came from the big man involuntarily-—just one word; but it set Addison Kent’s pulses wildly, madly racing.

“Alceste!”

Kent’s eyes clung eagerly to the streak of light beneath the blind. His ears strained to catch what followed.

“Ssh!” warned the girl with sibilant anxiety. She glanced quickly towards the window, then upward to the suite above while the watcher held his breath.

With a quick nod of approval her visitor acknowledged her wisdom and obediently lowered his voice. The expression on his face was an open book of excited interest in something the girl had been saying. There was sudden craft and a mingling of suspicion in the small animal eyes. He plucked a pencil from his vest pocket and held it out to her, at the same time reaching into an inside pocket and withdrawing a huge brown leather wallet, fastened by a rubber band. With a quick pull he yanked this off and opened the wallet, fumbling among its papers with thick fingers. Presently he threw one of these out on the table and watched while she proceeded to draw a little sketch upon the blank side of the sheet.

Addison Kent looked hungrily at that wallet, fat with papers. It fascinated him. What might a search of it reveal?

To be Continued