Tragedy on Cannon Street
Intrigue in racing's underworld where a crooked tip on the ponies is an open sesame
IN THE early life of Toronto, Cannon Street was probably a cowpath. That seems the only explanation for the meandering course it takes in a city where the majority of its streets do their utmost to adhere to Euclid’s definition of a straight line. Not so Cannon Street, which starts out with every apparent intention of going north, only to hesitate midway and make a decided jog to the west; then it circles around to the northeast, getting narrower each step one takes, until at the point where it links up with one of the main business arteries it is no wider than a lane.
The houses that line it on each side are old and slatternly, standing irregularly back from the uneven sidewalks like opposing ranks of tired and battered soldiers. But they are always tenanted, for residence on Cannon Street, owing to its proximity to the heart of the downtown district, offers escape from street-car dependence.
Those who live there invariably refer to it as The Street. They are mostly Canadians, many of them born in one or other of its dingy dwelling-places. And they are very loyal to it and to one another1. Conversely, they hate and distrust foreigners; nor do they look with much kindlier feelings on immigrants from the British Isles. And yet when the Kaiser set Europe ablaze, the adult male population of Cannon Street was early in khaki. When the war was over, they, or some of them, came back. But The Street had changed in those epic years. That is to say, some of its tenantry had. Half-a-dozen of the houses in the south section had been rented to swarthy men, most of whom had made big money in munition plants. Prosperous these dark-skinned men were. They owned cars and flaunted the hallmark of wealth, according to The Street’s standards—silk shirts and garish silk socks and waspishwaisted coats. Some even sported diamond rings on jet-tipped fingers.
The older residents of The Street spoke resentfully of this invasion by those whom they contemptuously designated as Wops, sullenly ignoring the swarthy newcomers, passing them on the street without a glance or word. But among themselves they talked freely of the unwelcome intruders. They talked particularly of Frank Palo, a medium-sized young man, handsome in a dark kind of way, with his oily-black hair, flashing eyes, and teeth that seemed to gleam, so white were they. He had taken the corner house on the east side where Cannon Street springs from King Street, a tumbledown place with a big yard in which he sheltered his powerful car. Sometimes, at nights, there were other cars parked alongside it. In one of the windows—it was a double-fronted house with high wooden steps climbing to the front door—was an assortment of groceries and untempting fruit. The place was a regular rendezvous for the other foreigners on The Street, and in the summer months they grouped themselves on the steps and spread over the sidewalk. When that happened, the residents who lived farther north had to make a detour, which they did with an ill grace. Palo was always well dressed, and in the hot weather he could be seen sunning himself for hours at a time on the steps of his home, the little shop meantime being tended by a grim-visaged woman whom The Street rightly assumed was his mother.
Laura Mantón, an attractive, slim-bodied girl who lived with her brother in a one-story cottage at the other end of The Street, saw Palo nearly every day. He seemed to make a point of coming out on the steps each evening a few minutes before she passed his house on her way home from work in a near-by woollen mill. As she turned into The Street, she’d spy him sitting there, with his head down as though he was asleep, and then as she came abreast of him he’d look up and smile gently at her. He’d done that a score of times this spring and each time she’d passed by with her own head held high, pretending not to see him.
“The little Wop!” she told herself. “If ever he gets fresh with me I’ll show him where he gets off.”
But she hadn’t shown him, when she had met him a little later at a dance to which Eddie Burns had grudgingly taken her. Eddie was Laura’s young man, who, in the language of The Street, “had gone on the cops,” and now was a plainclothesman in the division which included Cannon Street within its boundaries. He was a stockily built young fellow with a pleasant, homely face. A good scout, Eddie, said The Street, which was praise indeed, because The Street wasn’t given to enthusiasm where police officers were concerned. On the other hand, many of Laura’s girl friends regarded him as a “dead guy.” For one thing he couldn’t dance, and, his conversation was mainly restricted to monosyllables, an admirable trait in a policeman, but not so desirable in a lover. He thought it wrong for a girl to go out with another man—an engaged girl, that is—and it was on this point that he and Laura had many sharp disagreements. That was why he had brought her to the dance that evening, and then gone away, promising to return “when the foolishness was over.” Which he had, only to find his girl whirling around in the arms of the black-haired Palo.
Eddie didn’t say anything until they were almost at the door of Laura’s house; then he remarked, “If I were you, girlie, I wouldn’t have anything to do with that Palo. He’s a bad egg.”
“How do you know?” she asked, a spark of anger in her large gray eyes.
“Because,” replied Eddie, after a moment’s cogitation,” he’s in the booze racket.”
“Well,” she answered,” you’re a cop, why don’t you arrest him then?”
She felt sorry for having said it, because Eddie looked a little reproachfully at her, and he didn’t offer to kiss her when they parted; which omission Laura stored in her mind. And so, after their first meeting at the dance she spoke to Palo quite often; even stood for a few minutes outside his house on her way back from work and chatted with him. Once she’d gone with him to Sunnyside, and they’d danced together nearly all evening, and, as she admitted to herself, he surely could dance.
However, that sort of thing couldn’t be kept quiet— a girl going out with a Wop; not on The Street, it couldn’t. It reached the ears of her brother Jim, a returned soldier, who hated foreigners with the same intensity as he’d hated Germans in the war years.
“What’s this I hear ’bout you runnin’ ’round with that Palo guy?” he rasped.
“What’s it to do with you?” she fired back, her temper roused by his accusing tones.
“Ho! Ho!” he gibed angrily. “It’s none of my business, I s’pose, if you make yourself the talk of The Street. Yeah, an’ what’s Eddie going to say about it, and you and him as good as hitched?”
“You mind your own affairs,” she snapped, color flaming in her cheeks.
“That’s just what I am doing. I won’t have no sister of mine flirtin’ ’round with Wops. You keep away from that bird. He’s no good.”
“He makes plenty of money,” she told him bitterly, “and that’s more than some people I know can say.”
The shaft struck home, for Jim had been out of work for a month. “Makes money!” he repeated in an infuriated voice. “Sure he does, and how does he make it? Peddlin’ booze, that’s how. Fine business, you goin’ to marry a cop and giving the glad eye to a bootlegger.”
She darted an indignant glance at him, opened her lips to make a hot retort,, but thought better of it and marched past him to her own little room. It was a shabby room, and, truth compels, rather an untidy room, but it was homelike, for there was a comfortable armchair with cushions Laura herself had made, and all over the walls were photographs of herself and Eddie, and a large one of them both, with Eddie looking a trifle solemn and self-conscious and Laura smiling with a little trick she had of drawing up one corner of her mouth.
She sat down and stared at her reflection in the mirror. “Jim’s got a nasty tongue when he’s riled,” she mused. “But just on account of the rotten things he said, I’ll go with Frank tomorrow.”
For that evening on her way home, Palo had met her and invited her to accompany him to the Woodcliffe races the next afternoon. The proposal almost had taken her breath away. She had never been to Woodcliffe Park, although some of her girl friends had, and had returned with glowing accounts of their experience.
“Oh, Mr. Palo,” she had answered, speaking with that throaty voice which was another of her attractions, “I’d love to go.”
His dark face had lighted up, and he had gesticulated excitedly with a beringed hand. “Alri’. I drive you in my car.” He had bent toward her, staring straight into her eyes. “I gotta new car yesterday. You’re the firs’ girl to ride in it.”
AFTER the conversation, Palo, a smile in his black -¿Yeyes, had ascended the sagging steps of his home and entered a small room divided by the hall from the little store over which his grim-faced mother presided. In this room, curtained off from the narrow, stuffysmelling hall, lolled a man in an armchair, his legs on the table. He was a little man with beady eyes, a flattened nose and the restless look of the racing tout stamped on his hard features. His lazy, welcoming grin disclosed a gleam of gold, which was responsible for his track nickname of Goldtooth Mulaley.
“Who’s the blonde cutey, Frank?” he queried. “Some little queen, eh?”
Palo laughed knowingly. “Tha’s my girl, Goldtooth, my new girl.” He laughed again. “ I take her away from a cop. What d’you think about that now?”
“That’s good enough to have another drink on,” returned the other. He helped himself to a glassful from a bottle of red wine on the table. “Here’s to you, Frank.”
“And now to go on with what I was sayin’ just before you slid. This kid’ll look after the other nag, and our baby’ll roll home just as sure as you’re standing there. All you got to do is to bet the dough and divvy up with me.”
Palo pulled a chair toward him, straddled it, and rested his arms on the back. He stared steadily at Mulaley with eyes that had lost their smile. “ I put up—what?” he asked.
“Five hundred; more if you’ve got it.”
Palo shook his head with an air of finality. “No, sir.Three hun’red is all I bet. And maybe I’m the fool to put up that much.”
“Say, Frank,” said the other, emphasizing his words with taps of a yellow forefinger on the wine-stained table, “you’re passing up the chance of your life. This nag’s as good as in when Adderley does his stuff, and it’ll pay twelve to one. No risk, and you win six thousand plums.”
Palo snapped his fingers. ‘Three hun’red’s all I bet, I tell you.”
Mulaley laughed contemptuously. “All right, but don’t forget we split this three ways.”
“Oh no,” protested Palo with asperity.” I buy aticket for this jockey feller . . . what’s his name?”
“I buy a ticket for fifty dollars for him and one for you. Tha’s all I buy for you fellers, and tha’s plenty.”
The man with the flattened nose ripped out an oath. “You’re one tight guy, Palo, when it comes to doing business. Here I go and fix up a deal like this, and all you offer me is chicken feed.”
“Chicken feed! If that horse pays 12 to 1, like you say he will, you win $600, and your jockey friend the same. But s’pose that horse don’t win; me, I lose $300; you lose nothing.”
“Have it your own way,” growled Mulaley, shooting a venomous glance at the suave Palo and pushing back his chair, “but that wasn’t how you talked last night. You were ready to bet in thousands then.”
“It wasn’t me,” grinned the other, “it was the wine I drank.” He filled two glasses.
“Here, take another drink before you go.”
T AURA met him the next afternoon. He drove up to where she was waiting a couple of blocks from The Street and hopped out of his roadster, gorgeous in its shining new splendor. But scarcely more gorgeous than its owner, who was wearing a brown suit with a daring stripe, and pants cut like a man-o’war’sman. Expensive shoes, too, and a stick pin that radiated little shafts of light from its bed in a vividly striped tie.
Inside the track gates they found seats in the packed grandstand, from which lofty eyrie they watched the activities on the course that spread below them like a map. Palo did not appear anxious to bet. As for Laura, it was enough for her to see the jockeys in their gaudy uniforms, perched high on their sleek-coated, mettlesome mounts, to watch the parade past the crowded lawn and stand, and then to lean breathlessly forward as they flew by in a kaleidoscope of color on their way to the winning post. Then after the sixth race had been decided, her companion rose. “’Scuse me,” he explained, “I have some business to do.”
Laura watched him go down the steps to the lawn where a little man with a flattened nose suddenly darted toward him. He said something to Palo, but the latter turned away abruptly and disappeared in the maelstrom of betters that surged around the mutuel shed. In a little while he was back, his eyes shining, his face a-quiver with excitement.
“I made my bet, see,” he said, exhibiting six tickets, each for $50. “ I bet it all on Temptation to win.”
Laura regarded the little strips of pasteboard with awestruck eyes. “Three hundred dollars! But suppose you lose.”
“I won’t lose,” he said decisively. “When I play a horse I know somep’n.”
“Quite a lot of people are betting on Bright Spark,” she remarked. I heard one man say he was a cinch.”
Palo guffawed. “He wouldn’t think so if he knew what I know.” He leaned toward her and whispered. “Adderley’s riding him!”
“But what difference does that make?” she asked, slightly puzzled.
“A whole lot,” he grinned. “He’s a friend of mine.”
She shook her head, still mystified, and then turned from her companion to gaze at the horses, which now were at the post.
For a few breathless moments they milled around while the starter sought to coax them into line, and then suddenly they leapt into action.
Palo sprang to his feet as the flying cavalcade dashed past the stand, with Temptation well in the lead and travelling with easy, sweeping strides. “There he goes!” he exulted. “They’ll never catch him now.”
Along the back stretch, Temptation still maintained his advantage, and the crowd, which had installed Bright Spark as favorite, began to call on his rider to bring the horse into contention.
“Ride him, Adderley!” they yelled.
Palo gripped Laura’s arm. “Now watch!” he cried.
The boy riding Temptation had steered him safely into the home straightway. Behind, a matter of two lengths, ran three other horses, matching stride for stride like a team. Bright Spark was on the inside. Suddenly a groan burst from the vast assembly watching the contest. Bright Spark had gone wide at the turn for home, carrying with him the other two horses, and eliminating the chances of all three . . . Temptation coasted home an easy winner by four lengths.
“Well, you’ve won,” Laura said, as the numbers were posted.
Palo’s eyes were dancing with excitement. “Didn’t I tell you I would. Just a minute till we see how much I get back.” He aimed a trembling finger at the priceboard. “Look! he’s paying $32 for a $2 ticket. Girlie, I’m sitting on top of the world.” He took from a vest pocket his six mutuel tickets and looked at them greedily. “Close to five thousand bucks, you babies stand me in !” Then, replacing them, he turned to his companion. “Come on,” he said, “let’s beat it.”
“But aren’t you going to cash those tickets before you leave?” Laura exclaimed as they threaded their way through the dense throng.
“No, no,” he answered with a furtive glance on each side, “I’ll do that on Monday. If I go to the pay-out wicket now, I’m sure to run across some guy who’ll want to make a touch. Let’s hurry and get out of here.”
THEY had dinner at a small restaurant where Palo knew the waiter and secured him a bottle of champagne. But Laura refused her escort’s offer to share it with him. She was anxious to get home and reminded him that it was nearly nine o’clock. “Jim will have a search party for me,” she said with an uneasy laugh.
“Your brother, he doesn’t like me, eh?” Palo remarked, draining his glass. “I should worry. How long would it take him to make $4,500?”
“A long time,” she answered with a little sigh.
Palo reached over and picked up her shabby little handbag. From his vest pocket he took out the six mutuel tickets and placed them in the purse.
“I’ll keep ’em there,” he said with a grin, “until Monday afternoon, and then you can come with me to the track again and we’ll cash them.”
“But I couldn’t,” she protested. “I have to go to work.”
“Work!” He shrugged his shoulders, and his thick lips parted in a sneer. “Only those without brains or looks work.” Rising, he thrust her handbag in the sidepocket of his coat.
It was dark when Palo drove the car into the yard beside his house. “You get out here, Laura, and walk through the house,” he directed, “and then no one can see you. That’s best, eh?” As she hesitated, he pushed open the back door and motioned her inside. “It’s all right, girlie, my mother’s home.” The kitchen was in darkness, but a light was burning in a front room at the end of the hall.
As Laura walked down the hall to the front door, Palo laid a hot hand on her arm. “Just a minute, Laura, maybe my mother would like to see you. In here.” He swung back a curtain and made way for her to step into the room. But she stood uncertainly in the passage.
“Come on, nothing to be scared of,” he encouraged, a smirk on his dark face. “My mother will be home most any minute now.”
“Then she isn’t in the house?” she asked, a note of alarm in her voice.
Suddenly grown afraid, she stepped toward the front door. Palo followed her like a panther as she fumbled for the handle. The next instant she felt strong arms around her, a hot face pressed crushingly against hers. Twisting, she beat at him, wrenched from his pocket the handbag he had stowed in it, and twice struck him with it in the face. At the second blow, the strap broke and the bag fell to the floor. Palo, astounded by her onslaught, staggered back, and in that moment her nervous fingers found the catch on the door, turned it, and she was safely outside on the steps. Two minutes later she was in her own room where she flung herself into a chair and scrubbed at her face with quivering fingers.
“The little beast!” she grated between clenched teeth. “The little beast! If Eddie knew, he’d kill him. What a fool I’ve been!”
Sitting there in darkness, her pride bruised, her thoughts running distractedly to and fro, she suddenly recalled the loss of her handbag. In it were her week’s wages. With Jim out of work, she could ill afford to lose that much. But she hated to go back. “But I’ve got to,” she told herself. “I have to have that money.”
A THIN rain was falling as she walked ■*-*rapidly down the street. Reaching Palo’s house, she hesitated for a moment, then marched firmly up the steps. She felt for the bell, but there was none, and after a moment’s thought she knocked on the door. From where she was standing she could see a light in a front room. “Perhaps his mother is home,” she said, and knocked again. When no answer came she tried the door. It yielded to her touch and she pushed it open.
“Anyone home?” she called in her throaty tones. A dim light comihg from the curtained-off room to her right enabled her to see the narrow hall, and her eyes searched the floor in an effort to locate the bag she had dropped. But so far as she could determine, it was no longer there. She called again, and then after waiting a few moments she stepped gingerly inside. Her breath coming rapidly, she pulled aside the curtain and peered into the room, cautiously at first, then with icy dread clutching at her heart . . .
Frank Palo was lying on the floor, his head resting against an overturned chair, and his face turned sideways so that she saw the thin stream of crimson on his cheek that had its source in a blue hole in his right temple . . . He was dead. Unmistakably dead !
Laura’s knees turned to water. She staggered and caught at the curtain for support, almost tearing it down. She wanted to scream, but her fright was too great for that. She could only stare with frozen eyes at the silent form lying almost at her feet.
Then a telephone whirred somewhere in the little shut-off shop behind her. The noise brought her to a sense of the perilous position in which she was enmeshed.
Good heavens! if someone chanced in, she would be accused of killing him. Arrested. Taken away. A thing of scorn for all The Street to jeer at. To point at as the girl who . . . what was it Jim had said? . . . ran around with a Wop. Why hadn’t she listened to him? Or to Eddie. Dear old Eddie. If he only was here now. But then, what could he do? Nothing. She must work out her own salvation. And all the while her thoughts were flying hither and yon, the telephone rang and rang.
She must get out of the house, she told herself. Some inquisitive neighbor hearing that jangling phone might peer in and find her there. The need to fly was immediate, imperative.
She relinquished her grip on the curtain, turned swiftly, passed through the front door, closed it ever so gently, and walked down the steps and back to her own home as well as her trembling limbs would permit. And it was not until she once again was seated in the seclusion of her bedroom, staring with agonized eyes at her blanched face in the mirror, that she realized she was still without her handbag; that she had left it somewhere in that house of ill omen to point out to all the world at least one person who had been Palo’s companion within a half-hour of his death.
IT WAS Jim who brought the news an hour later, by which time Laura had recovered some of her poise.
“Been the devil and all to pay down at Palo’s,” he said excitedly.” Someone bumped him off, and there’s a flock of cops in the house; Eddie among them.” He stared curiously at her still face which masked the dread that was inwardly consuming her. “Gee! you take it cool. Thought he was a friend of yours.” “He’s no friend of mine,” she answered quietly.
A knock sounded on the door. Laura opened it and Eddie Burns stepped in. He put out a hand to draw her to him, but she moved to one side, smiling wanly. With a look of surprise, he walked into the front room.
“Well, Palo got his,” he said. “Hallo, Jim!”
“’Lo, Eddie. What’s the latest?” He grinned. “I s’pose you’ve come in to tell us you’ve nabbed the guy that did the shooting.”
Eddie shook his head. “When these bootleggers get to killing one another, they don’t leave much for the police to work on.”
“No clues, eh?” said Jim in a tone of disappointment.
“If there are, we haven’t come across ’em yet. Nothing in the place except some bottles of booze and wine and a broken glass. We found Palo’s gun under the table, but I guess he didn’t have time to use it.”
Laura’s heart gave a little leap. “Is . . . that ... all you’ve found?” she asked.
He nodded. “Headquarters sent Croney and Tupton down and they’ve been over the place with a toothcomb, but they haven’t come across anything. We found one fellow, a foreigner, who says he saw a woman come . . . why, what’s the matter, Laura, you look as though you’d seen a ghost?”
“Nothing, nothing,” she answered hurriedly. “I’m tired, I guess, that’s all . . . What were you saying about a girl?”
“Why,” went on Eddie, “this chap says he saw a woman come out of the house some time this evening, but he isn’t sure of the hour, and, anyway, we don’t figure that a woman pulled this job. Of course,” he said contemplatively, “from what we know of Palo, there’s one or two women might have a good enough reason for shooting him. But this wasn’t done for revenge. Whoever killed him was after his money, and got it too. All his pockets were turned inside out. He hadn’t a dime on him. It looks to us that some guy, maybe one of his bootlegging friends, gave him the works and then cleaned him of all he had.”
“Well, get this guy, and maybe you’ll get promotion,” said Jim. He yawned cavernously. “I’m asleep on my feet and I’m going to hit the hay. Anyway, what’s one Wop, more or less? I seen thousands of good men get theirs. Why worry about a rat like Palo?” He tramped off to his room.
“Guess I must be going, too,” said Eddie after a little while.
“No, no, not yet,” Laura protested, laying a hand on his arm.
He turned and regarded her steadily, “Gee! honey, you look real ill.” A queer, hurt look shot into his eyes. “Say, you don’t mean to tell me that this Palo meant anything to you?”
“Meant anything to me! Him!” her voice vibrated with scorn. “You’re the only one, Eddie. There never has been anyone else, and I want you to believe that. But, but ... I guess it’s all over between us now.”
The despair in her voice, rather than the actual words, prompted him to step quickly toward her and grip her shoulders with his hands. “What d’you mean, Laura?” he demanded.
He tried to look into her eyes, but she kept her face averted. “Because, dear,” she answered unsteadily, “I’ve got something to tell you, and once I’ve told it, it’ll be the end of everything between us. I was the girl the man saw leaving Frank Palo’s house.”
“What!” he gasped. “What! My God! Laura, how did you come to be there?”
“I went to get my handbag,” she said, her eyes still refusing to meet his. “Í dropped it in his place when we came back from the races.” She heard him groan, but she steeled herself to continue the rest of her explanation. “Maybe, I'd better start from the beginning and tell you everything that happened.” Like a child, reciting a lesson, she recounted the events of the afternoon and evening. “And so, you see, Eddie,” she concluded, “I lost the bag when I struck him. Then, when I went back, maybe twenty minutes later, maybe half an hour, I saw him lying there—dead.”
Eddie’s teeth ground together, and his big fists clenched.
Laura stole a timid look at his face, now clouded with bewilderment and despair. And realizing something of his agony of mind, her eyes grew moist and in a little while she was weeping unrestrainedly.
Eddie put his arm around the girl and drew her toward him. “Ssh,” he said huskily, “or you’ll have Jim in here.” He bent down and kissed her. “There, girlie, don’t cry any more. There’s a way out of this. Let me think.” He released her gently and slumped into a chair, gripping his cheeks with vise-like fingers. Laura watched him for a few momenta and then asked. “Did they find any tickets when . . . when they searched him?”
“Tickets!” he repeated in a puzzled voice, “What d’you mean?”
“The tickets he bought on this horse, Temptation, I told you about. Don’t you understand, dear, he didn’t cash them. He put them in my handbag in the restaurant. He told me he’d go to the track on Monday and get the money for them then.”
Exultation swept Eddie’s face. He sprang to his feet. “Now we’re getting somewhere. Tell me, girl, did he only play the one race?”
“Yes, the last one on the programme. He bet $300 on this horse, Temptation, and won $4,500. And he was so sure of winning, he laughed at the people who were playing the favorite.” She paused. “I remember him saying that a friend of his was riding it.”
“What, this long shot?”
“No, the favorite, Bright Spark.” “Better and better!” cried Eddie. “I’m beginning to see daylight at last. When a man bets a chunk of dough on an outsider it’s because he’s got some inside information. Don’t you see, Laura, Palo was tipped off by someone to bet this fifteen to one shot; which he did. But he’s foxy, Palo is. When the horse wins he doesn’t go to the pay-out wickets where all the world can see him getting what amounts to a fortune. Not him. He sticks the vouchers in his pocket and beats it out of the track, figuring on cashing them when there’s no crowd around.” “You mean,” said the girl, slowly, “that he didn’t want anyone to know he’d won the money?”
“Exactly,” said Eddie. “And this is how it reads to me. This guy who bumped him off, tumbled to his game; followed him home, likely; gave him the works and then went through his pockets. When he didn’t find what he expected to find, he searched around and came across your handbag with the tickets in it. He must have taken bag and all, otherwise we’d have seen it in the room.” He laughed happily. “Now d’you see where this leads us? Someone’s going to cash those tickets, and if I know anything it will be the man who shot Palo to get them. Honey, we can keep you out of this, for a while anyway. What you’ve told me, cop or no cop, stays under my hat until we see what happens on Monday afternoon. Then, if I’m correct in my guess, this bird’ll be right there on the dot to realize on those vouchers. And, in the meanwhile, I’ll check up on this jockey. He belongs somewhere in the picture.”
GOLDTOOTH MULALEY, a fixed grin only partially screening the hideous fear that was shaking him from head to toe, sidled up to the $50 cash-in wickets at Woodcliffe Park a full hour before the first field was scheduled to take its place at the barrier. His sweating fingers, try as he would to control them, trembled violently as he laid down six tickets on the narrow counter.
“For the last race on Saturday, brother,” he announced to the cashier in a voice he strove to make casual. “I guess they stand me in $4,800.”
Inside the mutuel office, screened from Mulaley’s view, but ab'e to watch his every movement, a shirt-sleeved man nodded his head toward Eddie Burns, whereupon that alert young man slipped quietly out of a convenient side door. Mulaley’s fingers drummed a nervous tattoo on the counter while he waited for the cashier to redeem the proffered vouchers. Finally, with a touch of petulance, he asked: “How about a little
action, brother? I ain’t got all day.”
“Where did you get those tickets?” It was Eddie Burns speaking.
Goldtooth Mulaley cringed and raised a hand as though to guard a blow. His knees sagged and he would have fallen but for the hand that suddenly gripped his shoulder.
“I . . bought . . . ’em, mister,” he quavered.
The shirt-sleeved man stepped into view. “I’m the ticket seller in the $50 wicket,” he announced, “and those were the only tickets that were sold on Temptation in the last race on Saturday. I sold all six to the man whose photograph you just showed me.”
With his disengaged hand, Eddie thrust a photo under the panic-stricken eyes of his captive. “This is the man who bought these tickets . . . Frank Palo D’ you know him?” I
“No,” lied Mulaley desperately. His I eyes darted here and there like a cornered rat until he encountered the figure of a badly scared boy in riding silks. Then hope fled.
“So you squealed, Adderley !” His voice rose to a shriek. He clawed at the air with frenzied fingers. He turned a despairing face toward Eddie. “Mister, mister,” he wailed. “I didn’t shoot him till he pulled a gun on me when I asked him for my fair divvy. The dirty rat swore he’d never played the horse, and when I called him a liar he flashed h's gat . That’s the God’s truth, mister And so when he did that, what else could I do but give him 1he works?” And it was this plea that later was to save him from the scaffold.
LAURA’S wedding satisfied even The J Street, always highly critical in such matters.
It took place just a week after Eddie’s promotion “For special detective services rendered.”