The Man in Dress Clothes
The Story: In Montreal, a masked man in evening dress has been robbing rich motorists and sending the money to hospitals. One night JohnB. Davery is held up by such a man, and when the man departs Davery is found dead. The fact that Davery was not robbed leads Detective Kent Power to surmise that on this occasion some bitter personal enemy masqueraded as The Man In Dress Clothes.
Among the suspects are Bill Parlee, Davery’s playboy nephew, with whom the dead man was not on good terms; Tonkin, the chauffeur; Bartholomew, the dead man’s butler; Julian Craig who was once Davery’s general factotum; Dimitri Gambos who admits he bought from the dead man the formula for a new explosive and found it to be a fake; and Gombos’ two henchmen, Toriel and Paraki.
Power notices that Davery’s hair, at the edge of the fatal wound, has a greenish sheen. He gives part of the murder story to Tom Dolan, a reporter.
Reasoning that the real formida for the explosive, Davilite. may be in the house and that someone may try to find it, Power and his assistant, Papineau, steal into the structure at night and separate, Power entering a bedroom. With startling abruptness the room is flooded with light and a masked man in dress clothes commands: “Hands up! Right about turn!"
HAVING BEEN relieved of his gun, Power was permitted to face about again.
“Very neatly done,” he said.
“Thanks,” the masked man replied. “You’ll notice that I keep my dulcet tone low. I suggest you do the same. Don’t want your friend below mixed up in this.” “You keep nicely posted.”
“I thought at first he was an accomplice. You’ll understand what that made you.”
“You tell me ”
“The gent who murdered J. B. Davery and came here searching for his formula.”
“You, I suppose, came to mail a postcard.”
“I came for the same reason you did—to catch a murderer. I happen to owe it to my conscience.”
“You know who I am?”
“I’ve seen you about. You’re not exactly a shrinking violet.”
“Nor are you—if the newspaper accounts of your escapades are correct. Your coming here to catch a murderer just proves that great minds do think alike. Suggests that we ought to work together. Each of us probably has information that might be useful to the other.”
Power was deliberately trying to prolong the interview, while listening intently for a familiar intonation of voice. So far the crisp Oxford accent had been so well done as to seem perfectly natural. Yet the figure had a familiar look The lips beneath the black mask seemed to twist. “I’ve been told that you can be particularly hard-boiled. If I work with you, sooner or later you’ll discover who I am and turn me over to the police. Would any Montreal jury give me a chance? As long as I hang onto my identity I’m free to help find the real murderer. I intend to find him.”
Power shook his head regretfully. “It’s a great pity.” It was an even greater pity, for that voice still eluded him.
“Which leads to our adieu. But no tricks.” He waved the gun toward the far wall. “Just stand over there so there’ll be no temptation not to give me a decent start. I warn you I’m not being caught tonight.”
Power backed a step or two, but to cover the fact that he was stalling, said: “Drop me a line if you learn anything useful.”
The door was pulled silently open. The light went out. At the same moment Power flung himself across the room and reached for the switch. But just as his fingers brushed it, something caught him fair on the point of the jaw, a star-raising wallop that sat him down on the floor with a thump. He staggered up, sprang out into the hall. Someone was coming rapidly, stealthily, up the stairs.
It was Papineau. “Sacré nom, what ’ave you?”
But Power dashed toward the open window at the end of the hall. Too late. The porch below, and the next-door driveway to which it gave egress, were both vacant. He turned to the astounded Papineau and stated grimly: “I’ve just entertained The Man In Dress Clothes.”
“Sure! And me, I ’ave ’ad the visit from Greta Garbo!” Papineau exclaimed with complete scepticism. But later, when doubt was finally scattered: “Then how ’as he get in wit’out me hearing? I am listening every minute. What a luck ! We set a trap for the murderer—he steps into it— and he is gone!”
“He suggested to me that he wasn’t the murderer.”
“Said he came here like ourselves to catch the real killer.”
“And you believed?”
Power shrugged. “He sounded convincing enough.”
“You are slipping, my frien’,” Papineau rallied him. “First you permit the escape and then you believe the cock-and-bull story. I regret to see the senile decay so soon.”
“Have it your own way,” Power replied with a grin. They had come downstairs to the living room. Lighting a cigarette, he strolled over to the window and gazed thoughtfully out at the street. “I guess we can call it a night. Send for your two watchdogs again and we’ll go home. I don’t think there’ll be any further visitors.”
HE WAS wrong. For at that moment a low-hung coupé that had come swooping down Peel Street, swung in at the gate on two wheels and came to a stop on the driveway outside.
“Qu’esl-ce que ça?” exclaimed Pap.
A long slim figure shot past the window; there was a sharp ring at the bell.
Moving into the hall, Power turned on the lights and swung the door open. A young man swept in. “Where’s Bartholomew?” he asked sharply.
He was a tall young man of easy, confident movement. Although his face now had the strained look of one who had driven fast and far, there was a certain suggestion of lighthearted self-assurance in his manner that lent him the air of a thoroughbred.
“Bartholomew has gone for the night,” Power said.
“Who are you?”
Power told him, introducing Papineau. “And you?” “Bill Parlee. Bartholomew phoned me at the country club about J.B. I just got in. It’s a damnable thing. Have you got the murderer?”
In which Kent Power reaches the conclusion of the most exciting case of his long and colorful career
“If there’s anything I can do . . .” Parlee seemed genuinely anxious to be helpful.
They moved into the living room and Power switched on the light. Turning to the other, he said: “Do you know any reason why your uncle should have been murdered?” “No—unless it was for his formula for Davitite,” Parlee replied.
“You ’ave not been on the best terms wit’ him, non?” Papineau asked.
The other turned from lighting a cigarette to give him a straight stare. “No,” he said flatly.
“Something about a New Year's Eve party, w'asn’t it?” Power asked.
A smile broke the young face, and as it did so a certain reckless gaiety lit up the features in a most attractive way. “That’s right,” he said.
“When did you go to the country club?”
“Got witnesses to that fact?”
“That’s fine ... A minute ago you offered to be helpful. Mind telling us what you know about Julian Craig?”
“Not at all. Julian’s just an eager guy on the make.”
“Is that all?”
“It can’t be said prettier.”
“You wouldn’t know if he had been trying to sell the formula for Davitite on the sly?”
“No, Julian and I were never that intimate.”
“The old reason.” A grin broke the young face. “You can’t mix oil and water.”
Later, when Parlee had gone, Power said: “There w-as a promising young man who didn’t live up to it. He seems to liave an alibi as solid as Gibraltar.”
Presently the two plainclothesmen arrived and Papineau drove Power home. *
At nine o’clock that morning Hicks came into the latter’s bedroom and, touching him on the shoulder, announced: “Mr. Dolan is here, sir.”
Rubbing sleepy eyes, Power groaned: “Show him in.” “Ah, me, the idle rich!” cried Dolan, swinging blithely into the room. Seating himself on the edge of the bed, he exclaimed: “You sent for me. I am here. Got a story?” “Just a catechism. What do you know about a bloke called Gombos?”
“So he’s the guy who killed Cock Robin? Mind if I phone that in before we—”
“I don’t know who killed Davery. I’m just interested in the Levantine as a possibility. W'hat do you know about him?”
Dolan laid down the bedside phone, murmuring sadly, “Another scoop gone west,” and then, in the manner of one dictating a column:
“Dimitri Gombos, suspected of the murder of J. B. Davery, arrived in Mo’real last week on a secret and confidential mission. Mr. Gombos, like his fellow countryman, the late Sir Basil Zaharoff, is one of the munitions mystery men of Europe. His early activities lie hidden in the murky mists of the post-war rearming of the settlement states of Europe. It is whispered that his was the master mind behind the_ assassination of Alexander of Jugoslavia. Having taken as his motto the famous line of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you,’ it is said that he is a silver cloud who hides a dark lining.”
“Thanks a lot.” Power moved toward the bathroom. “Make yourself at home while I shave.”
Dolan followed. “Lemme tell ya !” he implored. “Lemme tell all, Mr. Power. I wanna be helpful this morning.” And then suddenly: “Why, Mr. Power, where did you get that nasty bruise on your chin?”
Power shot him a quick glance, but
the reporter’s face was openly guileless. “Must have turned over in my sleep and hit the bedpost,” he replied.
“Too bad,” Dolan sympathized. “Too bad—these distressing dreams. How about loosening up now with a little fresh dope on J.B.’s bumping off?”
“There is no fresh dope,” Power answered from amid the suds.
“Which makes you the other of the two most secretive guys I’ve met this a.m.”
“Who’s the other?”
“Been talking to him?”
“Ain’t I a newspaper man?”
“J.B.’s house. Met Bill Parlee there. Thank goodness Bill was at the country club last night.”
“Bartholomew’s an odd type.”
“Yeah. Been sitting on a bitter egg all his life. But I don’t think, Kentie, he’s hatched it into a murder.”
VW-HEN DOLAN had gone and he had finished break* * fast, Power went into his laboratory. When Papineau arrived, an hour later, he was able to say: “I’ve found out what caused that queer greenish tint in Davery’s hair—a substance called thalleoquin, a salt of quinine. I noticed a bottle of hair tonic in his bathroom last night. Hair tonics sometimes contain quinine. We’ll want to know if his does. Have one of your men bring the bottle here this morning. It’s my guess that the weapon that killed Davery may have had the effect of turning quinine into thalleoquin. Let’s go and talk to Gombos.”
They were passing through the rotunda of the Mount Windsor Hotel when Papineau nudged his arm and hi: sed:
Two sleek young men were purchasing boutonnieres from the florist’s stand.
“The Messrs. Toriel and Paraki among the lilies,” Power murmured. “Why are they loitering here?”
The gentlemen in question did not turn from their floral search, but Power had a sneaking notion they were aware of his presence.
His knock on a suite door above evoked an unexpected response. None other than Julian Craig attended him and Papineau across the threshold. “Come in!” he exclaimed without a' flicker of embarrassment. “I’ve just been chatting things over with Mr. Gombos.”
The Levantine sat in a large chair by the window before a breakfast tray that was piled high. He broke off negotiations with a juicy porterhouse steak long enough to fling out a welcoming hand and cry with jovial heartiness: “Good momeeng, zhentlemen. So kind of you. You have had breakfast, no?”
“Any trace of the formula?” Craig asked Power, obviously trying to make the question casual. “Mr. Gombos is naturally pretty anxious about it.”
“Anxious? Ha ha !” roared the Levantine. “Gombos is never anxious, otherwise he is an old man by now. Baccho, w'hat is Davitite to me but something I buy and sell? The man who is a slave to what he buys and sells is no longer free. Ha ha, my good Power, I am a free soul.”
“Then you won’t be disappointed if I say I still haven’t been able to find your formula?” Power asked him.
“Of course I am disappointed. But there is a difference between disappointment and anxiety. Learn to appreciate the difference, my good Julian, and you will live long.” Craig said stiffly: “There’s still one more possibility. I’ll go and look into it now.”
When he had gone Power turned to the Levantine. “I’d like to have the formula that Davery sold you, Mr. Gombos—the fake one.” The other flung up his hands. “And then where am I?
Baccho, I am a simple man, my good Power, and without guile, I have the onetrack mind. To me it is clear that I must Keep this false formula in careful guard until the courts of law have requited me. It is my sole claim against the estate.”
“I’m afraid I’ll have to have it,” Power insisted. “It may prove a most useful clue to the murder.”
“If necessary, m’sieu,” interjected Papineau, “I go for a warrant.”
Gombos yielded with a laugh. “Say no more. You are men of honor. I give it to you.” He drew a long envelope from his pocket and held it out. “Also if you make Davitite from it, you are my friend for life.”
Scanning the typewritten pages, Power exclaimed : “This is a long and complicated piece of fake. Was the real formula as complicated?”
“So complicated that my good friend J.B. has declared he cannot manufacture the explosive without having it before him.”
“Certainly if it was as long as this he couldn’t have kept it in his head,” Power agreed. “I notice it’s a fresh copy.”
“He showed me the old one. It was dilapidated. He has made a fresh copy and promised to destroy the original.”
Power said: “I’ll let you have it back as soon as I can.”
“Soon will make me happy . . . Adios." Messrs. Toriel and Paraki were missing from the rotunda as the two men passed through. “Did it strike you,” Power said in the car, “that Julian Craig seemed glad of the excuse we gave him to vamoose?” “M’sieu Gombos ’as perhaps been putting him on the spot, non?”
Power said, frowning: “That information about the formula which Gombos gave us adds a puzzling factor. Why, if the murderer had the real formula in his possession, did he have to kill Davery?” “He is going to sell the formula elsewhere. He wishes no trouble from Davery,” suggested Papineau.
AT THE Braemar Building on St. James Street, they entered a door marked simply “J. B. Davery,” to find the outer office occupied by a single person. Rising from the desk by the window she now swayed toward them in a Mae Westish r ay, and enquired in an air of lofty boredom: “What can I do for you, please?” “Did you type this?” Power handed her the first sheet of the document he had just received from Gombos.
“And who might you be?” she asked, fixing him with a cold stare.
“Mrs. Power’s boy; and this is Detective-Sergeant Papineau.”
Deflating somewhat, she deigned to examine the document. No, she had not typed it.
Power came around the counter and walked over to her desk. “Is this the only typewriter in the office?” he said, indicating the machine on it.
“How’d you like to copy the first paragraph of this on it?”
She condescended; and in the car westward bound again, Power compared her effort with the original. “Absolutely different,” he declared. “Done on another machine. By the way, did you notice that portable typewriter in Davery’s living room last night?”
“We’ll take a dekko at it.”
When the manservant admitted them they found, to their surprise, none other than Gombos—this time without his two young men—in the living room. “Ah, my good Power, we meet again,” the Levantine chuckled. “I do a little investigation on my own, ha ha.”
“Any luck?” Power asked him.
“You interrupt me too soon. Perhaps I return again when you have entirelythrown in your hand.”
He did not linger. When he had gone. Power asked Bartholomew; “How long was he here?”
“He just arrived.”
“If he comes again notify the police at once.”
“Very well, sir.”
Power pointed to the typewriter. “Do you type?”
“Yes.” The admission came guardedly and not a little reluctantly.
“Do me this paragraph like a good chap.” Power laid beside the machine the effort of Davery’s secretary.
Seating himself at the table, Bartholomew opened the drawer to get a sheet of paper. Papineau let out a sudden exclamation: “Do not touch it !” He referred to a peculiar instrument that lay atop the sheaf of blank paper an antique knuckle-duster.
Bartholomew’s secretive features betrayed a certain bewilderment. Power asked him: “Was Mr. Davery in the habit of collecting these interesting antiques?”
“I never saw it before,” came the unexpected reply.
"Mo' dieu!” exclaimed the unbelieving Papineau. “You mean for to say you ’ave never—”
“It was not here yesterday morning,” replied Bartholomew stubbornly.
Power picked it up in his handkerchief, wrapped it and placed it in his pocket. Then to the manservant: “All right now for the typing.”
Bartholomew placed a sheet of paper in the machine. It was done so nimbly as to bring from Power the remark: “You seem to know how.”
“I have a small machine upstairs,” the other replied, and proceeded to write with considerable fluency.
“Use the touch system, eh?”
Without pausing, Bartholomew nodded his head. A moment later he held out the sheet, which Power took.
“I shall go for his machine upstairs?” Papineau asked.
Power shook his head. “No need to. The fake formula was written on this machine —look at those e’s.” He turned to Bartholomew. “I suppose you realize that this puts you in an unfortunate position?” “Yes,” came the calm reply.
But Papineau’s quick eye had spotted something on the cover which the servant was replacing over the machine. "Regardez the initials, J.CV He swung on Bartholomew: “It is the typewriter of M’sieu Julian Craig, non?”
“Yes. He came here sometimes to take Mr. Davery’s more confidential correspondence.”
“Why didn’t you say so?” Power snapped at him.
“You seemed so happy in suspecting me,” replied the servant with grim irony. “I saw no reason for throwing suspicion on an innocent man.”
“How do you know Craig’s innocent?” Power demanded. And when Bartholomew merely shrugged: “If he didn’t write that fake formula, only you or Davery could have done it. Did you?”
“You don’t have to depend on my word; any expert can settle the point.”
Power permitted himself a curt laugh. “You’re good, Bartholomew. Dynamiting information out of you is like blasting one’s way into the markets of the world. But it happens that even an amateur like myself can see the difference between what you have written and the fake formula. The latter was written by a heavy-handed artist, probably a two-finger typer. Let’s see if you can’t loosen up a bit. Was Mr. Gombos alone in this room for any length of time before we arrived?”
“Only while I answered the door,” the servant replied with imperturbable dignity.
“One more question: Have you ever
heard young Parlee, Mr. Davery’s nephew, imitate an Englishman with an Oxford accent?”
Did something secretive, like an eel in deep water, seem to waver in the manservant’s eyes? He replied, shaking his head: “No, sir.”
“I suppose you never heard of a New Year’s Eve party he pulled on his uncle?” Power exclaimed impatiently.
Continued on page 35
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“Loosening up, eh? He pulled other stunts like that, didn’t he?”
“Yes, sir.” There was no breaking that monumental calm.
V\7HEN THEY returned to Power’s * ’ flat, the latter did some telephoning. First, from the office of the Journal he attempted to dig out information as to the whereabouts of Tom Dolan on those particular nights that corresponded to the lighthearted depredations of The Man In Dress Clothes. Then from Dr. Morin he learned that the complete post mortem on Davery had revealed no other cause of death except the fractured skull. And then he set to work on the antique brass knuckles. For one thing it showed no fingerprints; for another, he was able to obtain from it no solution which, mixed with quinine, would produce that green iridescence of thalleoquin. He did find, however, that the bottle of Davery’s hair tonic brought by Papineau’s man, contained quinine.
Turning to the other, he said finally: “There’s something mighty likely about this knuckle-duster, Pap. In the first place, it’s just the sort of weapon that could have made the wound in Davery’s skull—you remember that wound was made with an instrument that wasn’t blunt yet wasn’t sharp. This thing has just such an edge. And it can be a vicious weapon. Many a man has gone west from a blow by it. I can picture just how Davery might have got his quietus from it. He leaned forward out of the car. The murderer brought his fist down with a savage descending blow—cracko! It certainly marches with the wound. And then, for what it’s worth, we have Bartholomew’s statement that it wasn’t in the drawer yesterday. Leaving him out for a moment of the suspects who had the opportunity to place it there since last night, we have Julian Craig. He was in the room alone while we overheard his conversation with Gombos over the phone last night. Gombos was alone there this morning for a moment while Bartholomew came to the door to let us in.”
“I do not leave M’sieu Bart’olomew out!” Papineau declared. “He ’ad more chance than any to place it there.”
“Then why did he say it wasn’t there yesterday? He must have known that that admission would put suspicion on the thing.”
Pap shook his head. “Search me—but I do not leave him from the suspects. He knows somet’ing—and he does not tell.” And then suddenly: “But if it is this
knuckle-duster which ’as killed M’sieu Davery, how ’as it make the change in the quinine in his hair?”
Power said grimly: “That’s something we’ve got to find out before we . .
The phone rang. It was the plainclothesman who had been put on Julian Craig’s trail the previous night. He reported that he had followed Craig that morning to the Mount Windsor Hotel, and followed him away from it again three quarters of an hour later, only to lose him on Sherbrooke Street somewhere. He had rung up Davery’s office and Craig’s flat, but they had not known where he was at the former and there had been no answer at the latter.
Power said to Papineau: “Better go
along to Craig’s fiat after lunch and see if you can get into it. He may be lying doggo there for some reason.”
It was two-thirty when Papineau’s excited accents came over the telephone: “Il est partir—gone ! Crime, please !”
T> ANGING down the receiver, Power shot from the room. A taxi dropped him ten minutes later in front of the large apartment house. Papineau admitted him
to the flat on the third floor. The plainclothesman, O'Brien, stood by the window. The room was in confusion; drawers, closet, bookcases, had been emptied of their contents, which lay scattered about the floor.
“When I arrive,” Papineau said. “I meet O’Brien at the comer, we ascend ere and knock. There is no answer. O’Brien goes for the ’all-porteur who unlocks the door—et voilà!”
“I reckon,” O’Brien put it, “he done a bunk down the stairs an’ got out the back.” “Why didn’t the hall porter see him?” “I bin down them stairs, Mr. Power. They’re enclosed, see? You got to go through a door on each floor to reach ’em. Down in the basement they’s a door opens on the back court, with a driveway to the next street. He musta skipped that way.” “Me,” declared Papineau, “I ’ave send to the railway stations and the airport for to pick him up.”
Power stepped through the connecting door into the bedroom. It shared the confusion. He came back and sent O’Brien for the porter. The latter was able to furnish scant information. He had been in the foyer since eight o’clock. Craig had come in about eleven, and he had not seen him leave. He agreed with O’Brien that Craig could only have got out the back way unnoticed.
“Where does he keep his car?” “Montmorency garage, sir.”
“Ring up and see if he took it out this morning, and the time.”
The porter was back in a couple of minutes. Craig had not taken out his car.
“Did Craig have any visitors this morning?” Power asked.
“No, sir,” the porter replied.
“You’re sure of that?”
“I been at my desk all morning and nobody could have got past without me seeing him except a ghost.”
“For why ’ave you ask about a visitor?” Papineau enquired.
“Toriel and Paraki. They were in the foyer of the Mount Windsor when we w'ent there this morning, and they were gone when we come out. In the meantime Craig had left the hotel. Furthermore it looks as if there’d been more than a frantic search here. Look at that wastepaper basket; someone went through it.” He got down on his hands and knees and proceeded to scan scraps of paper. A leathercovered box lay upturned near by. He picked it up. A small bottle of smelling salts, unstoppered, lay beneath it. Some of the salt clung to the bottom of the box.
“He ’as perhaps use it to revive his lady friends,” Pap suggested slyly.
“Or kept it as a souvenir of a swooning damsel,” Power grunted. He rose. “Let’s go down and look at that basement door.” There was nothing particular about the door except that it was of that type which pushes freely open from the inside but cannot be opened from without. As he turned away from it, Power asked the porter: “How many people came past
your desk this morning w-hom you did not know?”
There had been several, but the description of a gentleman with a slightly foreign accent who had come calling on Miss Marie Eastman, caused Papineau to explode: “C’est Paraki!”
“He asked me if Miss Eastman was in,” the porter said, “and when I said she was, he told me I needn’t announce him as she was expecting him. He took the elevator.” “Did he come dow n again?”
“Not before I left the desk when the sergeant sent for me.”
“Give Miss Eastman a buzz and see what she has to say.”
They w-ent along to the foyer. Miss Eastman had had no visitor.
“That settles it,” Power said. “Paraki goes up in the elevator, gets off at a floor and goes down the stairs to the basement door. There he finds Toriel with a car backed up to it, lets him in, and they go up to Craig’s flat together. They lay Craig out, search his room, find nothing, and carry him down to the waiting car. Let’s go.”
“But where do we go?” cried Papineau, following his flying heels through the foyer.
TN THE CAR outside Power answered: “If he’s in Mo’real I can think of one place they might take him—Da very’s house. Gombos may have suspected, as we did, the presence of that wall safe in the bedroom. He might have taken Craig there to third-degree him into disclosing it.”
“Sacré, it is an idée!”
It wasn’t really, for not only did Bartholomew deny Craig’s presence on the premises, but a thorough search yielded no trace of him. “Man,” Power declared at the end, “is born to disappointment.” And then he turned to the servant: “I’m going to make a last appeal to you, Bartholomew to loosen up. Julian Craig has disappeared. We believe he was kidnapped by a gentleman called Gombos. Can you give us any lead, any lead at all?”
For the first time something more than a blank secretiveness came into the servant’s face—concern. But after standing for a moment troubled by thought, he said with what seemed genuine regret: “I’m sorry.” “So am I,” Power replied, and, followed by Papineau, left the house.
They had turned into Sherbrooke Street, when he said sharply to the Canadien: “Pull into the curb.” And then he said to O’Brien, who had accompanied them: “Go back and watch that house we just left. If anybody enters it—anybody at all—go to the nearest phone and ring us at my fiat.” They drove on to Drummond Street. Over the cup of tea Hicks brought them, Papineau exclaimed: “For a moment it ’as looked like Julian Craig. Now, I do not know, me.”
Power said grimly: “I’d like to know what that fellow Bartholomew’s got on his chest, and what interest he might have in the Davitite formula.”
“But it is not his typing on the fake formule. You ’ave said that yourself.” “Supposing he thought of all that. He’s a deep one. Supposing he did the substitution. He’d realize it could be traced quite simply to Craig’s typewriter. He’d try to disguise his writing, wouldn’t he; do it with two fingers instead of the touch system?”
“Then why does he stand silent without saying it is Craig’s machine? Why does he permit us to discover that?”
Whatever reply Power might have made was cut short by the ringing of the phone. It was O’Brien on the wire. “Listen, Mr. Power, I didn’t see nobody go into that house, but I seen somebody come out.” “Who?”
“Couldn’t see him. He was driving a car, and he sure was in a hurry.”
“Which way did he go?”
“Toward the Mountain.”
Power banged down the receiver and swung on Papineau: “Bartholomew has
gone off into the blue in Da very’s car.” “Sacré!”
“Wait a minute! This all means something if we’ve got the wit to figure it out. Craig’s gone, the Bing Boys have gone, and now Bartholomew’s—”
He caught up the phone again and dialled a number. The ensuing conversation with the room clerk at the Mount Windsor was short. He turned to Papineau: “And Gombos is gone. Left the hotel half an hour ago in the big car he’s been hiring. Drove it himself.”
“They ’ave all go to the same place, non?” Suddenly Papineau leaned sharply, breathlessly forward: “Where is the place where M’sieu Da very manufactured ’is explosive? It is up nort’ somewhere, non? And Bartholomew ’as go in the direction of the Mount—”
“By heck !” Once again Power snatched up the phone. This time he got through to Davery’s secretary.
“Mont St. Michel!” he cried a moment later, springing to his feet. “Mohammed shall go to the Mont !”
Darkness was falling as they turned into the narrow wood road beyond St. Michel. “Two more miles,” Power grunted above the wheel. “Watch the speedometer; don’t want to overrun them in the dark.”
The way grew steadily worse. Presently night was black about them and Papineau said: “There is half a mile to go.”
Power pulled up. They hurried along the narrow track. Pap’s breathing was getting labored when they came on a car that barred the way. “Davery’s bus!” Power hissed. “We’re right as far as Bartholomew’s concerned.” x They pushed on. Presently a light appeared ahead. It came from a window in the near end of a long, low, rambling wooden building that occupied a considerable clearing. In the foreground stood twb more cars, one a big car, the other a delivery van with the ornate lettering on its sides, Richaud cl Frères. “The Bing Boys stole it to abduct Craig!” Power grunted. “Pretty neat !”
They were creeping toward the lighted window when a sudden cry, wrung from a soul in torment, set them running for their goal. Ah astonishing, if not entirely unexpected sight, met their eyes. Julian Craig sat tied in a chair in what was obviously the office-laboratory of the plant. Opix>site him the rotund Gombos occupied another. Still the laughing cavalier, he gave jovial orders to his young gentlemen. Of these, Toriel was holding Craig’s left leg between his knees, and Paraki was applying a hot j oker to the sole of the bare foot.
“Les betes sales!’’ Pap growled.
And then suddenly, from a door at the far end of the room, yet another actor appeared on the sceneBartholomew. The serving man’s curt voice cut above Craig’s groan:
Power hissed in the Canadien’s ear: “Let’s get in before the death !”
They found a door along the building that yielded on a dark hallway. Directly to the left, light shône through a crack. They moved toward it, Power’s hand groped for a knob. Just as he swung the dopr open a shot rang out.
Gombos had fired it, and Bartholomew was clutching at his left arm as they entered the office. Power asked grimly: “What’s all this?”
A STARTLED silence followed his query. Gombos broke it with a chuckle: “It is a pity you interrupt, my good Power. I am on the point of succeeding with my methods where yours have failed. I shall therefore trouble you and the sergeant to raise your hands and stand against the wall, please.” He raised his gun suggestively.
“Your game’s played out!” Power answered curtly, and then to Toriel and Paraki: “Unfasten your victim !”
The Levantine’s fruity voice took on a sharper note and his laugh was etched in acid: “You will please raise the hands—or trouble!”
But still in complete disregard, Power turned to Bartholomew, who stood immobile in the other doorway holding his wounded arm. “Don’t you think you’d better open the heart now?” he asked. Something flickered in the grey eyes,
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something savage, indignant, perhaps the least bit. mad. “Get out of here, all of you ! Get out or I'll ...”
Bartholomew had raised his hand. In it was a Mills bomb; a souvenir kept perhaps to remind him of the years that had maimed him.
“Don’t be a fool,” Power said.
But the servant’s face was grim. “Get out cr I’ll throw this thing into what’s left of the Davitite !” He jerked his fist toward the door behind him that led evidently to the cooking plant.
While they all remained mesmerized, even Gombos forbearing to chuckle, Power measured the perilous distance to the other man. But as he was collecting himself for a desperate dive, yet another player appeared on this extraordinary stage; appeared in the doorway behind Bartholomew. He wore a black mask and evening clothes, and his hand shot out for Bartholomew’s raised wrist, caught it, gave it a twist. There was a clatter on the floor. It was the bomb which had fallen from the servant’s grip. It was rolling into the angle between floor and wall a few feet from him.
For a single moment of horror everyone stared at the thing. Power yelled, “Down, everybody !” and caught at Papineau to drag him earthward. But suddenly Bartholomew, snatching himself free of the masked man’s grasp, flung himself on the bomb.
The building rocked. When the smoke had cleared men gathered themselves shakily from the floor. Paraki was bleeding from a shallow wound on the back of his neck. They stared at the thing that had been Bartholomew, whom the tools of war had got at last.
Suddenly Power hissed in Papineau ’s ear: “The Man In Dress Clothes! Gone! Let’s get after him !”
They dashed out. Straining through the darkness, Power thought he saw movement toward the wood road. Followed by Papineau, he sprinted toward it. A few minutes later they heard the sound of a whirring starter, saw lights swing through the trees, and then heard the crescendo of the getaway.
Halting, Power panted: “Got away in our car, the devil ! I’m going to chase him in Davery’s bus. Collect the others and bring them to my flat.”
But although he drove the big car to its speed's limit, he failed to catch his quarry. Arrived back at his flat, however, he went straight to his laboratory and proceeded to set yet another stage. He had almost completed this when Tom Dolan came in with young Parlee.
“Anything new?” the reporter enquired in his breezy way, seating himself negligently on the edge of the bench.
“Won’t be long now,” Power replied, laying down a test tube.
Young Parlee said anxiously: “I’m
worried about Bartholomew. He’s not home and I—”
“I’m afraid he won’t be home for quite a long while,” Power said, blank-faced. “What have you young gents been doing all evening?”
“Personally,” declared Dolan, “I’ve been scouring Mo’real for news. Bill picked me up just as I arrived back at the office, a quarter of an hour ago.”
Papineau came in with Gombos, his two henchmen, and Julian Craig. When they had settled themselves, Power said: “I am now able to say who killed Davery.”
“I will be more interested,” declared the Levantine, “if you will tell me where is my formula for Davitite.”
“Then I’m afraid I have nothing but disapjoointment for you,” Power said curtly. “It’s my belief that the formula has been destroyed.”
“Baccho, who has done this?” demanded the other.
“Bartholomew,” Power answered, and as they stared at him incredulously: “Bartholomew was pretty badly shaken up in the War. Because he was a sensitive man he came to hate war, and fed his hatred on such books as ‘Mars His Idiot.’
It was the news of the impending sale of the Davitite formula, I think, that stirred him to action. He saw the explosive as part, of another conflict in which others like himself would he broken. He therefore destroyed the formula and substituted the fake for it, hoping thus to mitigate the horrors of such a war. I find something decidedly heroic in the memory of Bartholomew. He even dared risking his life by going to Mont St. Michel to save Craig from your attentions, Mr. Combos.”
The Levantine laughed. “I am surprised. You work for the law and yet find something heroic in the man who has murdered my good friend, Davery.”
And then Power threw his bomb. “Bartholomew,” he said, “didn’t kill Davery.”
“Baccho, then who?” cried the astonished Combos, while the others—Dolan with jxincil poised above notebook— waited breathlessly.
"DOWER picked up the knuckle-duster: T “A gentleman who wielded this,” he said. “Quite a curiosity, these days, eh? The sort of thing some young man with hair on his chest would collect to remind himself of the tx>lcl days of the buccaneers, perhaps to stimulate himself into being a modern buccaneer. The gentleman in question used it last night, cleaned it carefully, and for some extraordinary reason placed it in a drawer in Davery’s living room possibly to throw suspicion on jxior Bartholomew, possibly just to place it where it could throw the least suspicion on himself. Unfortunately, when he took it for his purposes lie failed to notice that it was contaminated.”
. Turning to the bench, he picked up a test tube.
“You notice the fluid in this has a greenish tint. So did some of the hairs on Davery’s head. And for the same reason in each case. For it happens that Davery used constantly a hair tonic containing quinine. Now quinine in a dilution as fine as one in five thousand will turn this green color when acted u|xm by a certain chemical. The same chemical which caused the reaction in this test tube caused the reaction in Davery’s hair. I found such a chemical in this box.” He held up the leather-covered Ixix he had found that afternoon at Craig’s flat. “Sal ammoniac from smelling salts which luid spilled. But notice that the plush bottom of the box, contains a faint imprint, the imprint of something that has lain in it for a long time. I place the knuckle-duster in the imprint and it fits exactly. Your box, Craig, and your knuckle-duster which was contaminated with sal ammoniac. You killed Davery. You did so because, having searched everywhere else, you were sure he carried the formula for Davitite on him. It’s my belief you had a buyer for it.”
"Baccho!" exclaimed the Levantine, digging into his vest pocket. He drew out some scraps of paper. “See, my good Power, what Paraki has found in our
Julian’s wastebasket today! Put them together as I have done. You find the heading —International Arms Corporation —and a few words—the rest are missing. See! Here! ‘We will be interested in your proposition if,’ and then no more. He has intend double-crossing me to sell to International !”
But when Papineau had led Craig away, he rose with his old buoyancy. “I do not cry over spilt milk. When I have lost I have lost. And if there is one explosive discovered there will be another. Combos will be there to buy. You are a clever boy, my good Power. I bid you adios.”
When he t(x> had gone with his young men, Dolan sidled up to Power, pencil still poised above notebook. “Am I free, then, Ken tie, to say that Craig is The Man In Dress Clothes?”
Power turned to young Bill Parlee, who seemed greatly interested in the question: “What would you say to that, Parlee?”
“I’ll bite.” exclaimed the other lightly, “what would I say?”
“Better go and wash your left ear,” Power said curtly.
“What’s wrong with his ear?” demanded Dolan.
“There’s blood on it where a flying fragment of a Mills bomb caught it at Mont St. Michel tonight. That was a pretty ruse you pulled, Parlee, riding up like a tornado last night as if you’d just come from the country club, when as a matter of fact you’d just given me a cull on the chin. And your anxiety a few minutes ago about Bartholomew when you knew he’d been blown to bits. The Man With A Load Of Mischief; The Man In Dress Clothes!” Power did not quite keep the contempt out of the last words.
Parlee yielded with real contriteness. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am. If I hadn’t pulled those crazy stunts, J.B. and poor Bartholomew would still be alive. Damn Julian Craig! I met him one night just as I was stepping out of one of those purloined cars. I didn’t think he had caught on. He didn’t drop a single hint that he had.”
“I suspected that,” Power said. “Perhaps he thought it would help to throw suspicion on you. Fortunately for you, you had a good alibi for last night. In the meantime I suggest you go down to police headquarters and tell your tale; in fact, I insist on it.”
“Great gosh, Kentie, you can’t do that to him!” cried Dolan in protest. “They’ll arrest him.”
“Sure they will,” Power snapped. “And he deserves it.” And then, softening, he grinned: “These loads of mischief get
heavy sometimes. But perhaps the magistrate will lighten it by merely binding you over to keen what is called the peace.”
“By heck,” declared young Mr. Parlee, “I’ll keep it. From now on I’m cured.”
But Power, knowing his young Mr. Parlees, rather doubted that.