FICTION

Roadhouse Blues

Kent Power reads another life-and-death riddle with results both surprising and dramatic

BENGE ATLEE June 15 1936
FICTION

Roadhouse Blues

Kent Power reads another life-and-death riddle with results both surprising and dramatic

BENGE ATLEE June 15 1936

Roadhouse Blues

Kent Power reads another life-and-death riddle with results both surprising and dramatic

FICTION

BENGE ATLEE

SERGEANT PAPINEAU woke sharply as the roadster came to a halt and a rhythm of heated music breathed languorously through the spring night. And then, realizing geography, he exclaimed:

"Voilà, the roadhouse of mon vieux Henri Lavoisier!” “Struck me a spot of lunch might lighten the remaining twenty miles to Mo’real,” Kent Power said, and they stepped down.

A long line of parked cars flanked the pavement in front of the log château. “It is big business tonight for Henri,” Pap declared. They entered a door where the air became more feverish, and the music blared louder above smoke and the tang of wine. A big man with the shoulders and neck of a bull, and a strong, rugged, close-shorn head, strode toward them with outstretched hand.

"Mon brave Jules!” he cried, pumping Papineau’s arm up and down delightedly. "Bienvenu! Table à deux? It shall be at once.”

At the edge of the floor where youth danced to the hot rhythms and around which the tables were packed tightly, Henri snapped fingers and hissed orders. By a species of legerdemain a table appeared where it had seemed impossible space existed. As they seated themselves and Henri had gone with their order, Power said, grinning:

“You keep holding out on me? Who’s your long lost friend?”

“Henri? We are at school together—and in the war together. For his courage and his amiability I ’ave the greatest regard, me,” Pap replied feelingly.

The wine was grateful and the food strengthened them after the long day’s trip from Toronto; from a police convention at which both had spoken on crime detection. Power slumped deeper into his chair finally and smiled at the girl at a near-by table whose sloelike eyes lingered for more than the necessary moment. And then the cymbals and drums clashed announcingly. The lights went down as the floor cleared of dancers. The orchestra leader cried tenorishly:

“Celeste!”

A burst of swift applause, and then expectant silence among the packed tables. The spotlight picked out a girl who was entering from a side door near the orchestral dais. Papineau let his breath out in a long sighing “Ah!” Even Power found himself no longer weary.

SHE MOVED toward the centre of the floor with the insolence of dark beauty, while the orchestra broke into introductory melody. She was tall and dark and lissom. But her eyes smoldered; she trod the world as though it were dirt beneath her lovely feet.

“What an air!” Pap breathed appreciatively.

She began to sing in French. The words meant nothing; what did matter was the way she winged them with a profound contempt and disillusionment of life, the way she

used them to hold her audience in thrall. Life, it would seem, had done things to her, and she scorned life and all its purposes. Caught up in the challenge of that scorn, Power found himself watching her avidly until the song ended, until she disappeared in a thunderous burst of applause.

She sang twice again; the crowd wouldn’t let her go. But always with contempt on the rich young lips. When she had gone for the last time Papineau turned enthusiastically. "Sacré nom, elle est une—une. . .” But the mot juste failed him, lost itself in the expressive gesture of two outllung Gallic hands.

Power said, “Bad for your blood pressure, Pap.” and then a waiter came to the table and murmured something in the ecstatic detective’s ear. He said to Power:

"Pardon! One moment!”

He followed the servitor out. Five minutes later the man returned and said to Power:

“You will come, please? Sergeant Papineau wishes for spik wit’ you.”

Power went with him to the lobby, then through a door on the left into a long corridor off which doors opened. The waiter stopped outside the last and knocked. When a voice said “Entrez!” he opened it and stood aside. Power entered.

Papineau and the big roadhouse keeper stood by the wide fireside, and both had the look of men who had stared suddenly and devastatingly into the naked face of tragedy. The former pointed a dramatic forefinger along the room. On the floor, close by the French window, lay a man. As the three moved toward it Papineau said to Power:

“My friend, Henri, is talking wit’ M’sieu Raymond. They stand ’ere, by the glass door. Suddenly there is a shot from outside—regardez!” He indicated the small hole that had been drilled in the glass by a bullet.

OLD HENRI said fervently, his voice roughened by the phlegm of excitation:

“I am here by a miracle! The shot is meant for me!” Power turned on him slowly. “How do you know that?”

The roadhouse keejxr tapped his barrel-like chest with a clenched hst: “1 feel it here!”

“Got some enemies?”

“We have all the enemies.”

“Any particular ones?”

“Who knows?”

“You don’t?”

The old man’s large and ruddy face took on an oddly earnest expression.

“None that 1 would dare for to name, m’sieu.”

Power turned to the figure on the floor and saw a tall man of about fifty, with the fine, blood-drained features of a dreamer. If there was a suggestion of dissipation about the face, death had given it an almost noble composure. “Who is he?” Power asked.

“My friend, M’sieu Barry Raymond,” Old Henri answered.

“Afraid that means nothing to me.”

“He lives in Mo’real a pianist. Because we both love the music we have been friends. He was” the roadhouse keeiXT seemed momentarily caught in the clutch of a profound emotion "a lonely man, un homme solitaire. I have lov(xl him as a brother.”

Pap said quickly, to cover his friend’s agitation:

“When Henri ’as realize' he is dead he runs out to seek the murderer. There is no one rien!”

Power turned to the glass door, and with his handkerchief guarding his hand, opened it. In the darkness lay a lawn, with shrubbery to the left and a house with unlit windows beyond.

“Who lives there?” 1 íe pointed to the dwelling.

“M’sieu Craig harrow,” answered the roadhouse keeper. Power turned to the latter. "The shot could have come from that house or from the lawn?”

“Oui!”

“Might. I ask what Raymond was doing here tonight? After all, a roadhouse is not the sort of place you expect to be frequented by a man who likes solitude.”

“He has accompanied Mademoiselle Celeste.”

Something clicked sharply in Power’s brain. “What’s she to him?” he snapped.

“It is a long story, m’sieu,” the bull-like man answered sadly. “Enough that she has had her tragedy, that he has brought her back from all that with his music; has taught her to express herself so that every night she is pack my poor establishment with people hungry for her song.” “Perhaps hungry for more than that,” Power muttered, and then: “Pm not so sure that bullet wasn’t meant for him after all.”

“But he has not an enemy in the world! Un homme si gentil—”

“Who lives close to that girl lives close to tumult,” Power cut in curtly. “She was born to stir men’s passions as the sparks fly upward. Better bring her here.”

“If you desire.”

The old roadhouse keeper moved toward the door, but stopped halfway and came back.

“Non,” he said, shaking his head. “I cannot be the first to tell her. I cannot break that one’s heart.”

Power glanced at Papineau. Nor did the rotund little detective either seem anxious to bring heartbreak.

“All right,” he said. "I'll do it.”

Moving along the corridor toward the rotunda, he felt a sudden admiration for old Lavoisier. Beneath the man’s enormous physical vitality there was a depth of character, a sensibility of heart, that lent him dignity and noblesse.

“In the lar^e dining room the crowd continued to dance, unconscious of the tragedy that had overtaken this caravanserai., He moved quickly between the tables to the d(x>r by the orchestra platform. Passing along a short corridor, he knocked at a door.

THE GIRL was not alone. In the large chair by a window sat a man who now rose. He was tall, with wide, stooping shoulders and a fine head. Ilis eyes wrinkled with a constant smile of amused disillusionment. Although he suggested the college professor, there was something shrewdly mundane in his expression as though he had lived closed to lile.

Power turned to the girl. Close to, she lost none of the glamour that had surrounded her while she sang, nor any of her air of high scorn. A smoldering antagonism, as though her soul were a flame half-stifled between two worlds, radiated toward him disturbingly from her dark eyes. “There has been an accident.” he said.

She went suddenly tense, a single word bursting from her lips:

“Who?”

Was it instinct or apprehension that had framed it in the personal?

“Barry Raymond,” Power replied.

“Barry!” The word broke from her torturedly. “Where

is he?”

“Henri’s living room. I’ll take you —”

But the girl shot past him like a passionate flame.

Power turned to the other man. “If you can be any support to her you’d better come along,” he said. “She’ll need it.”

They hurried through the dining room. In the corridor

of the living quarters the other man asked: “What’s

happened?”

But whatever answer Power might have given was choked at birth by an agonized cry that arose from the room ahead. When they entered the girl was on her knees beside the dead man, swaying backward and forward, her hands over her eyes, moaning, “Barry! Barry!” while Papineau and old 1 Ienri watched her with an uneasy fascination.

“He’s dead!” the man at Power's heels gasped. Suddenly, the girl turned on her knees, her hands fallen limply to her sides. Her glance went searchingly to the roadhouse keeper’s face, and to the other man who had been with her in the dressing room, as though she were trying to lay their souls bare. Then she got to her feet, took one more look at the dead man, and strode from the room. It was devastating. Only once in his life had Power been so moved when he had seen Sybil Thorndyke, as Medea, stride like that from the presence of men who had brutalized life.

f íe turned to the man beside him. “Better go after her; she’s likely to do anything.” He stood watching until the door had closed behind the pair. Then he turned to Henri. “Who is that man?”

“It is M’sieu Craig Farrow,” the roadhouse keeper answered hoarsely.

“The fellow who lives across your lawn?”

“Oui.”

“What’s he mean in her life?”

The older man shrugged expressively. “He loves her—as we all love her.”

There was an atmosphere here, a surchargement of emotion, that clogged and hampered thought. Power said to the roadhouse keeper;

“Do you mind leaving the sergeant and me to this business for a bit?”

“If you desire.”

And again, as he moved toward the door, Power became aware of the innate dignity of this bull-like man. Then he shook himself and turned to Papineau.

“Let’s unwind ourselves.” He strode over toward the dead man: “Know anything about Farrow?”

“He is what you see—the man about town,” Pap answered with a shrug.

“Slip out front and see if anybody heard that shot or saw anyone on the lawn.”

TDAPINEAU went out through the glass door. Dropping to his knee, Power went over the dead man carefully. The bullet had pierced his waistcoat directly over the heart. Finally he went to the door, examined the hole in the glass. A loose sliver hanging almost free caught his attention. He lifted it clear, placed it in an envelope, made a mark on the outside of the envelope and returned it to his pocket.

A knock sounded on the door. It was Craig Farrow. The man’s disillusioned eyes wore a deprecating smile.

“I was no use there,” he said. “Perhaps I can help here.” “Sure.” Power put his elbow on the mantel. “You can tell me what the tangle is in that girl’s life.”

Farrow said quickly: “I can tell you six had nothing to do with Raymond’s death.”

“Don’t let’s get cause and effect messed up,” Power said.

“It’s perfectly obvious he represented something profound in her life. \\’hv shouldn’t she represent a motif - motif, I said.”

The other man smiled in his disillusioned way: “Then I’m a potential murderer.”

“You and who else?”

“A legion. You heard her sing tonight, didn’t you?”

“Sure; did you?”

“Only an echo.”

“From her dressing room?”

“Yes. I was with her for about half an hour before her turn.”

“You mentioned legionnaires a moment ago—any outstanding among ’em?”

Farrow gave him a frankly incredulous look. “Are you

just asking me for confirmation, or haven’t they told you?’

“About whom?”

“Pierre Lavoisier.”

“Oh,” exclaimed Power,

“that would be old Henri’s son.

So he’s Legionary number one?

I suppose he’s somewhere about?”

“He was with Celeste when I went to her dressing room. I imagine he’s sleeping it off.”

“He was in his cups?”

Farrow shrugged. “He’d been drinking.”

“I take it from your tone that there was a scene between you in the dressing room.”

“On the contrary. He seemed in recklessly gay spirits.”

Power rose to his feet.

“Thanks a lot.”

Farrow moved toward the door. With his hand on the knob he turned.

“You might as well know,” he said with his disillusioned smile, “that although he loved Celeste, neither Raymond nor liis father wanted them to marry.” And then, his smile twisting oddly: “Let me

explain it this way: They were great friends. Henri loves his son with a jealous love. Raymond loved Celeste as a man loves a favorite daughter. But they were wise enough to realize that gasoline and flame don’t mix without someone being burned Pierre’s gasoline you’ll realize that when you get to know’ him. And here’s another thing. You’re thinking about Pierre, aren’t you? He didn’t fire that bullet.

I don’t think the bullet was meant for Raymond. Neither does Henri. Henri’s wise.”

through which the other man had disappeared. Suddenly he darted toward it, flung it open and glanced down the corridor.

It was empty. He tiptoed along to the stairs at the end and slowly up these. One door of the five that met him on the top landing was closed. He turned its handle, switched on the light and stepped inside.

A young man with tousled raven hair lay asleep in the bed. Pulling back the coverlet,

Power saw that he was dressed

except for his coat. He shook him, shook him hard. The boy was drunk.

He stood for a moment gazing down at the suffused young face. It was, despite the drink, a proud young face, a face that might well carry a reckless gaiety of spirit. He could understand how old Henri could love this boy with “a jealous love.”

Switching off the light, he slipped downstairs again. Certain questions were playing through his thoughts. Here was a man dead who had stood close to a girl who was a flame in men’s hearts. Here was a boy drunk abed who had been reasonably sober something under an hour ago, a reckless boy who had been forbidden love. Why, then, were old Henri and Craig Farrow so inclined to believe that the bullet had not been meant for the mark it hit?

He found Sergeant Papineau and the roadhouse keeper in the living room when he returned.

“I ’ave make the enquiries,” Papineau reported. “The man at the door ’as hear not’ing. But there are two couples parked in the cars along the curb. One gentleman ’as been too engagé for to ’ear anyt’ing. Another says that there ’ave been two sounds, but he is not sure it is not someone popping champagne.”

Power turned to old Henri. “There was only one shot, wasn’t there?”

“Oui; un seulement!” came the immediate response.

Power said: “Would you mind showing me just where Raymond was standing when he was shot?”

The roadhouse keeper took a stance near the dead man’s feet. “It is here,” he said.

“I want you to stand there and give us a line. The sergeant and I are going outside.”

On the lawn without he muttered in Pap’s ear: “This may be a goose-chase, but there’s a hunch floating loose in my mind.” He kept glancing back as they moved. In the lighted door the old man certainly made a beautiful target. Suddenly Papineau struck something with his boot. Bending down he picked it up, held it out on his upturned palm with a startled: “Sacré!"

It was a gun—an old Webley, the type used during the war.

“Believe it or not. Pap, I'm not altogether surprised,” Power said with a bare glance at the thing. He was moving farther on; came shortly to a fence. Beyond it, a narrow driveway intervening, lay the dark house of Craig Farrow. He turned. The bulky figure of the old roadhouse keeper still made a perfect target in the French window.

Papineau, who had followed him. said with a shrug: “You are not interest’ in this gun, perhaps?”

Power thrust his hand through his arm with a chuckle.

“You bet I am, old dear. Wrap it up in your little handkerchief, have it gone over carefully for fingermarks tomorrow. I’m registering a little bet you’ll find none except your own. But in the meantime mum’s the word; and when I say ‘mum’ I include even old friends of the family circle.”

Pap stiffened suddenly, faced him with rigid earnestness:

“If you t’ink my friend Henri ’as anyt’ing to do wit’ this murder you are crazy. Kent Power! I trust him wit’ my life, my honneur—everyt’ing!”

“As who’d blame you? And being such a friend of his, I’m going to ask you to have him put us up for the night and bring us each a nice long drink of something good for a weary body.”

But later, in the room upstairs to which he was shown, Power did not undress at once and get into bed. Instead, he turned out the light, drew a chair to the window, seated himself in it, and began to smoke the first of a long series of cigarettes. Meanwhile, he kept his eyes glued to the lawn below.

IN THE morning he and Papineau were walking toward the roadhouse from the large garage at the back where the body of the dead man had been taken for the coroner’s examination. Power carried a long stick which he used as a staff. Just before they came to the French window he leaned on it and said gravely:

“I think you ought to know, Pap, that I saw your friend, Henri, go out to the lawn last night after we retired. He was looking for something in the neighborhood where you found that Webley. I know what you’re going to say it was a coincidence. Okay, it was a coincidence. But let’s do some mensuration.”

They went into the living room of the roadhouse. Placing the staff he had brought on the spot where the dead man had stood when he was shot, Power bent behind it and took a sight from a pencilled mark on it through the hole in the glass door.

“Take a dekko.” he said to Papineau.

Pap squinted along the line. “Oui," he grunted, “she makes wit’ that window.”

The window in question was one on the ground floor of Farrow’s house, something more than 1(X) feet distant.

“Enfin,” said Power, “since the pencilled mark on this stick is the height of the wound in Raymond’s breast, and since a line from it through the hole in the glass door hits

Farrow’s window exactly, Farrow might have fired said shot from said window. But he didn't fire said shot from said window, did he?”

Papineau shook his head. “Unless he is a fool."

"Exactly. Nobody with sense would put himself so much at the mercy of mensuration. But here’s another point. The line from Raymond’s heart through that hole in the glass is a rising one. That means one of three things. First, the bullet was lired from that window—which isn’t likely. Second, that someone stood on a stepladder on the lawn and fired it—which is daft. And thirdly, that someone stood directly outside the glass door and fired it.”

“Then why hasn’t Henri seen the murderer?”

“I’m asking myself the same unhappy question. Let’s just go over and see how Farrow slept last night.”

AN ELDERLY maidservant admitted them to the house next door. Somewhat hard of hearing, she finally got their drift and declared that her master had not been home all night. This was not unusual, she said, since he had a flat in town where he frequently stayed and usually wintered. On further questioning, she confessed that she had gone to bed at a quarter to ten the night before. Farrow had left the house some time before that. She had heard no shot, nor, to her knowledge, had Farrow returned to the house.

The particular window they sought lighted a small library. As he stood in it Pap declared:

"There is for sure a straight line from here. It would be simple if one is a good shot.”

Power was gazing at a picture on the mantel. It was of a very young man in uniform, unmistakably Farrow.

"One of the brave boys who made the world safe for democracy, Pap. Wonder if he kept his old service revolver. Let’s go looking.”

In a battered tin trunk in the attic they found a faded uniform and some accoutrement. As Power fingered the muddy pack thoughtfully, Pap said:

“There is no revolver.”

They went back to the roadhouse; and there they found young Pierre with his father, in earnest conversation that ceased at their entry. Sober, the boy proved, as Power had suspected the night before, an attractive youth. Slim like a rapier, with quick dark eyes and a proud Gallic grace.

On being questioned, he shook his head bewilderedly.

“I remember nothing; nothing at all. I was drunk.” “Any particular reason for getting drunk?” Power asked. Pierre shrugged and let it go at that.

“What did you do after you left Mademoiselle Celeste’s dressing room besides liquoring up?”

“I went out on the lawn. I remember nothing after that.”

“Don’t remember getting a gun and shooting Barry Raymond?”

There was a growl of protest from old Henri, but the boy put out a hand wearily.

“I don’t know,” and then bitterly: “I could have done anything.”

“Because Raymond stood between you and the girl?’ The boy’s face went reckless with passion:

“The whole world stood between us! But if I killed him I did not know what I was doing.”

The bull-like old man stepped forward and put an arm around him.

“It is true, m’sieu,” he said to Power. “He is not a murderer.”

“I hope not,” Power said gently; and then to the unhappy Papineau: “Let’s go to Mo’real.”

"POWER spent a busy morning in the small laboratory at the back of his flat. It was late afternoon when he went to the dead man’s home in Westmount. The girl. Celeste, was not there, but the servant gave him an address. There, in a smallish room of a small apartment hotel, he found her pacing the floor.

“You’ve moved,” he said.

She answered with smoldering eyes: “I have no more

right there.”

“Your trouble,” he said with kindly eyes, “is egotism— that species of madness that possesses the best of us. Everything that happens in your world must happen in relation to yourself. So you get hurt. But I didn’t come to read your palm. I want you to tell me who killed Barry Raymond.”

She turned abruptly from staring out the window. “I don’t know!” she cried, the least hysterically.

“But you do know it was one of three people. Why might Craig Farrow have killed him?” And when she did not answer that, but continued to stare at him with fixed antagonism: “Had Raymond tried to stand between you and Farrow—as I happen to know he did stand between you and young Pierre?”

“Craig didn’t do it!” she cried quickly.

“You wouldn’t be trying to protect him?”

“No ! He means nothing to me. Never did !”

“Did Raymond know that?”

Continued on page 46

Continued from page 9 Starts on page 7

She wouldn’t answer that, nor would she continue to meet his glance. He asked:

“Why didn’t you tell Raymond that Farrow meant nothing to you?”

For a moment she stood staring into vacuity, and then a surprising thing happened. She cried out bitterly: “Be-

cause I’m a wayward f(x)l ! Because I—” and then she flung herself on the bed in a passion of tears.

Because he had urgent affairs he did not stay to comfort her. A half hour later he found Sergeant Papineau awaiting him in his laboratory.

“Comment?" the other demanded quickly, ceasing his somewhat troubled floorpacing.

Power answered with a^shrug: “Two or three points a little clearer. Raymond had been warning the girl against Farrow for some reason. She doesn’t love Farrow. She doesn’t know who killed Raymond, but suspects young Pierre, whom she does love. At least that’s my reading between the lines.”

Pap shook his head sadly. “Mo’ dieu,’’ he cried. “I ’ave know that boy all his life!

I cannot believe ”

“There’s one thing I ought to tell you.” Power cut in gravely. “Last night I took the precaution to purloin a small fragment of glass from the edge of that bullet hole in the glass door. I was very particular to put it in an envelope so that I’d know which side was which. This morning I made holes in two panes of glass with my own gun. I want you to see what a bullet does when it goes through glass.”

He proceeded into the small dark-room where a faint red light was burning. On the bench were three uprights of black cardboard. In the centre of each were fine slits into which had been inserted three slivers of glass. He switched on an electric globe behind them that gave off a peculiar light.

“That’s an infra-red lamp,” he said. “You’ll notice it shines through the slivers of glass. Here’s my camera on the other side. Of those three bits of glass, one comes from the window at Henri’s and the other two from my experimental panes.

The upper surface of the two experimental slivers represents the direction from which the bullets were fired. The upper side of the other sliver represents the outside of the glass window at Henri’s—the outside, mark you. Now look at these photographs.” He switched on a strong light and indicated the three prints fastened to the wall below it. “Use the magnifying glass . . . Notice anything?”

AFTER A moment’s gazing Papineau shook his head: “I see only little

shadows which are curved.”

“That’s all you’re supposed to see. But they don’t all curve the same way. do they? Two curve down and one curves up.”

Pap let out a startled gasp: “Sacré!" 1 le leaned weakly against the bench for support, stared tragically at the other man. “Then the bullet has not been fired from the outside!”

“You’ve got it. Those photographs show that when a bullet goes through glass the splintered cracks are slightly bent in the direction in which the bullet is moving. They’re mighty minute, but the infra-red shows them up. The bullet that made the hole in the glass door at the roadhouse was certainly fired from the inside.”

“Nom d’un nom d’un nom!’’ ejaculated Pap. with the air of a man about whom worlds are crashing. “Henri ’as lied to me!

I cannot believe it!”

“Ask yourself another question, old man.” Power said gently. “How did that bullet happen to go through the window?

At first thought you might say it went through the dead man and then through the glass. But Dr. Morin found the fatal

bullet embedded in one of Raymond’s vertebrae when he made the post-mortem. What does that make with you?”

Papineau shook his head sadly: “The

murderer ’as fire a second bullet through the window so that it will look like it is from the outside the murder is done.” “That was the thought that came to me last night when you came in and said that someone parked in a car had heard two shots. There was another suspicious factor. It was very still last night. Two shots fired from that lawn would have startled the echoes. Those shots were muffled, from being fired indoors. It was because of all that, that I had a hunch we’d find the gun on the lawn; and find it, as you discovered this morning, free of all fingerprints.”

“To me,” said Pap regretfully, “this is one bad dream.” And then suddenly: “You are sure you ’ave not get that piece of glass twisted in your envelope?”

“1 took special pains about it, old man.” Power’s man, Hicks, appeared at the door. “The three gentlemen, sir,” he announced.

“Show ’em in," said Power.

“Me,” sighed Papineau, “I am rather dead than face this!”

T-TENRI LAVOISIER, his son, Pierre, -I and Craig Farrow appeared on the threshold. Inviting them to chairs, Power talked brightly to cover Pap’s restraint. Then, leaning against the bench, he said;

“We’ll beat about no bushes, gentlemen. The shot that killed Raymond was fired from within your living room, M. Lavoisier.”

The bull-like roadhouse keeper flung out his hands. “You accuse me of the lie, m’sieu?”

Disregarding the question Power picked up a revolver from the bench beside him. It was a Webley. “Is this yours?” he asked the roadhouse keeper.

“A7on!” came the almost explosive retort.

Power turned to Farrow. “Is it yours?” Farrow smiled in his disillusioned way. “The last time I had a revolver in my hand was when I flung it into the mud of Flanders on Armistice Day. I hope never to have another.”

Power stared at the weapon. “The orphan of the storm !” he murmured, addressing it whimsically.

He turned to the roadhouse keeper, who was watching him with pale, set face and taut little black eyes.

“Let me suggest,” he said, “that when you came into your living room last night you found Raymond dead, and this gun lying beside him. And why was it lying there? If you murder a man in cold blood you do not leave a weapon about that will hang you unless you want that wea]X>n to mean something more than it did mean. If you had left it alone and sent for Sergeant Papineau, I'm pretty certain his experts would have found the dead man’s fingerprints on it—a little post-mortem job done by the murderer to make it look like suicide. But when you saw Raymond lying there with the gun at his side, a ghastly conjecture came into your mind. You picked up the gun, fired a shot through the window, carefully brushed away all traces of glass from the stone step outside, and deposited the revolver—which you carefully wiped free of all fingerprints—on the lawn outside. You had to have the gun found out there, to corroborate your story that Raymond was shot through the window. Having fixed that up, you sent for Sergeant Papineau.”

The old roadhouse keejier met his glance unflinchingly: “I say nothing, m’sieu.” “Then I say it !” Young Pierre leajxd to his feet agitatedly. His father caught at his arm. tried to drag him back, but he burst out passionately: “I killed him ! My

father has done this thing to shield me. 1 was drunk. I did not know what I was doing."

The phone at Power’s elbow jingled. I le took up the receiver.

“Oh, hello Blake! . . . Got it? Shoot!” Reaching for a pad, he began to write: “Silica, 72.9; peroxide of iron, 3.0; alumina. 14.6; alkalis, 1.0; traces of calcium and sulphates . . . Specific gravity, 3.12; found only in Alberta and Northern Ontario in Canada? . . Thanks a lot. old dear. Do something for you some time.”

Hanging up the receiver, he picked up a slip of paper from the other side of the microscope, compared the figures on it with those he had just got over the phone. Swinging around, he said:

“I have here two sets of figures. They represent the chemical analysis of two dillerent bits of vagrant mother-earth. One of these analyses was made by a friend of mine in the chemistry department at McGill, the other here by myself. The odd thing about these two bits of vagrant mother-earth is that they come from two rather amazing sources. One bit—a very, very tiny bit—I scraped from the butt of this gun—here, near the lanyard ring.” Ile pointed to a place on the metal of the weapon that showed sign of knife scratches. “Odd, isn’t it, how a minute amount of dirt will remain for years despite cleaning? But the other bit of earth came from a canvas pack; a pack that bore what you called a minute ago, Farrow, the mud of Handers. It was your pack found this morning in your attic. But here’s the real point: The chemical analysis of the mud on your pack and the particle of mud on the butt of the weapon that killed Raymond, show them to be the same exactly. It’s common Flanders clay—but found in Canada only in Alberta and Northern Ontario. Which seems to prove that you did not throw away your Webley in so grandiloquent a gesture on Armistice Day.”

Farrow’s face was livid, but the old disillusioned smile still clung, if a little rigidly, about his eyes. He said with a shrug:

“The stars were against me. Another time I’ll make sure you’re not present at my crimes.”

“There shall be,” Pap declared bluntly, “no other time.’’

Farrow’s mouth moved wryly. “My error; silly of me.” He rose with an ironic bow and held out his wrists.

HP HAT NIGHT, over coffee and liqueur -E at Power’s flat, Papineau said with a shrug:

“Me, I do not know yet why Farrow ’as co the murder.”

“1 felt pretty certain of the motive after I left the girl this afternoon,” Power replied. “Farrow was in love with her, and for some reason Raymond did not want her to marry him. Farrow thought he could get the girl if Raymond were out of the way.”

“Sacré, Raymond ’as not want her to marry Pierre also! Perhaps he does not want her to marry anyone at—”

“I think he was cock-eyed in not wanting her to marry Pierre; for if those two aren’t in love I’m a Dutchman. But he was okay about Farrow. I’ve learned one or two things about Farrow since this afternoon. If he’d got the girl, he’d only have reintroduced tragedy into her life. But he must have wanted her pretty badly when he felt called on to do a murder to get her.”

Pap cupped his chin thoughtfully in his palm.

“She is the type, riesí ce pas, for which a man does what is desperate?”