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"A Tip from Fogarty" from Red Book

by Ellis Parker Butler
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from Red Book
A Tip from Fogarty
by Ellis Parker Butler

When he hired the three penniless begging-letter writers -- Mr. Tubbel, Mr. Skink and Miss Rosa Lind -- Roger Murchison, the multimillionaire, had done so with an almost vain hope that they would save him from insanity or suicide, the result of an insomnia that would hardly permit him a moment of sleep. The success of his plan had already far exceeded his most eager expectations. Not only was he now able to sleep at night, but through them he had actually discovered one of the missing dancing figures of the Vase of Apollo of Corinth.

The insomnia that had threatened Mr. Murchison's reason had been caused by that wealthy bachelor's inability to stop for a moment, by day or by night, his mental attempts to recreate the two dancing figures of the famous Markham Vase, and it was in the extremity of his fear for his reason that he hit upon the fantastic plan of hiring the three needy beings to act as a Graft Syndicate.

"I have twenty-five million dollars that will be worth nothing to me if I am dead or become insane," said Mr. Murchison to himself, "but if this Graft Syndicate can be set going and is clever, perhaps I may be able to spur my mind from the thought of the missing dancing figures -- by setting it to outwit the grafters, and thus avoid the madness that threatens me."

'A Tip from Fogarty' by Ellis Parker Butler

This plan, as has been indicated, had succeeded beyond his utmost hopes. At first, so inexperienced were his three grafters, he had been obliged to plan to defraud himself; but even this took his mind off his monomania. When he was thinking, "How can I make my Graft Syndicate believe it is defrauding me when it is not?" he was certainly not thinking, "What are the two missing figures on the Markham Vase?" And additional distraction came through his finding Miss Rosa Lind -- the head of his Graft Syndicate -- so attractive that his aunt Ann Warker actually told him he was in love with the girl, which was, indeed, the truth.

For a while, it is true, the operations of the Graft Syndicate had been almost too inefficient and farcical to be taken seriously, but Roger Murchison had to admit that in buncoing him out of fifty thousand dollars by means of a pretended psychic and a supposed Greek dancing-girl "control" named Norna, the Graft Syndicate had at length and completely befooled him.

Roger Murchison was pleased that this should be the fact. He believed this small triumph would give his private grafters new spirit, but only the event could prove whether he was right or wrong in this belief.

In the room that had been set aside in Murchison's Fifth Avenue home as the headquarters of his Graft Syndicate. Rosa Lind sat at her desk completing the few slight duties that fell to her as Murchison's pretended private secretary. The two other members of Mr. Murchison's Graft Syndicate sat near by, now and then casting uneasy glances at each other and now and then looking with even greater uneasiness toward Rosa Lind.

"There!" the young woman said at last, signing and sealing the final letter of her morning task. "And now to business!"

She swung her chair to face Mr. Carlo Dorio Skink and Mr. Horace Tubbel.

To her surprise, her enthusiasm met with no response in kind. The tall, thin Mr. Skink coughed uneasily and fondled his pointed red beard; and the short, stout Mr. Tubbel turned red.

"You tell her, Skink," said Mr. Tubbel hoarsely.

Mr. Skink, thus commanded, coughed again.

"It's this way. Miss Lind," he said with bravado oddly tinge with fear of Rosa Lind: "we don't want to graft any more. We want to quit, and we're going to quit."

"What -- going to quit! Going to quit now?" cried Rosa Lind.

"That's right -- going to quit now," said Mr. Skink. "We've got enough."

"It's like this." puffed Mr. Tubbel: "I'm an actor by rights -- a movie actor; and Skink's a poet; and we've got to think of our careers. We've got to get to work on our careers. We've been too neglectful of them. Circumstances --"

"But you don't mean that you two" -- Rosa Lind hunted for a word -- "that you two miserable rats are going to desert just when we are getting this game started properly? Come, now! Can't you see we are just getting the proper stride -- just getting our proper form?"

"It is like this, Miss Lind," said Mr. Skink. "We have enough -- Tubby and I have. We took fifty thousand from Murchison by that Bergatz bunco, and he gave us fifty thousand more, under his agreement to double whatever we buncoed him out of. That's one hundred thousand dollars -- thirty-three thousand for each of us; and me and Tubby have talked it over, and it is enough. It is more money than we ever expected to have."

"And we're no fools," said Tubby. "It was one thing for us to come here to bunco a fool that was half crazy and woozy for want of sleep, and it is another thing to go up against him when he is as good as cured, and as sane as anybody."

Rosa Lind frowned at her two partners.

"Trash," she said. "Trash! This is what comes of dealing with gutter trash. Just when real success is possible, you fail me. Oh!"

All possible anger and bitterness and disappointment were crowded into her final exclamation, and she arose and walked to the window, turning her back on the two men.

"Well, we may be trash -- although nobody but a woman would dare say so to our faces; but we're no fools," puffed Mr. Tubbel. "We've got plenty out of this, and we know why you don't want to quit."

"What do you mean?" Rosa Lind cried, facing him.

"Now, don't get huffy, my dear," said Mr. Tubbel. "Me and Skink can see a thing or two now and then. You know what I mean. This Murchison is in love with you -- that's what I mean; and I don't say you're not soft on him yourself. So there it is! He's not going to jail you, while he feels that way; but me and Skinky aint any little tootsy-wootsies of his --"

"You're low -- coarse and low," said Rosa Lind. "I cannot expect anything but coarseness and cowardice from you, and I should never have expected anything else."

She turned again to the window. She stood so long looking out that Mr. Tubbel became nervous. He wiped his face with a handkerchief of glaring colors, and cleared his throat and shuffled his feet on the floor.

She turned to Mr. Skink.

"You too," she queried, "share Mr. Tubbel's views?"

"I'm quitting." said Mr. Skink in a low but firm tone. "I'm through too."

"Because you are afraid?" she asked. "The contract with Mr. Murchison gives us absolute immunity from prosecution."

"Listen to me," said Mr. Skink. "You can't make a contract to permit the breaking of the law. I quit now, while the quitting is good."

He arose and put out his hand for his hat.

"Of course, you can go on grafting if you want to," he said.

"I?" said Rosa Lind. "That is nonsense, isn't it? I'm not the Graft Syndicate. We three are. If you two quit, it all ends, doesn't it?"

"Well, that's how I look at it," said Mr. Tubbel. "When Skinky and I quit, we end it. And so we quit."

"So, good-bye!" said Mr. Skink.

"Wait!" exclaimed Rosa Lind imperatively. "You'll not quit and leave me here, after what Tubbel said. If one quits, all quit!"

"I beg pardon, miss," he said, "but if Mr. Murchison asks, shall I say you will be back soon?"

She went to the closet and donned her hat and coat and was the first to leave the room. She did not pause to say farewell to Roger Murchison, who was in his study. At the street entrance, Miggs the butler held the door wide.

"I beg pardon, miss," he said, "but if Mr. Murchison asks, shall I say you will be back soon?"

Rosa Lind opened her purse and rummaged in its contents in a truly feminine manner, as if seeking something, and Mr. Skink and Mr. Tubbel went out onto the stoop. When they were well out of earshot, she looked up at Miggs and smiled in a friendly manner.

"I will be back in half an hour, you may tell him," she said. "I was wondering whether I had my pass-key or not."

She went out, and Miggs closed the heavy door.

For an hour or more Roger Murchison had been pacing his study floor, pausing now and again to stare unsmilingly at the walls or out of the window while he allowed his brain to run on at will. He was clad in his long, dingy brown dressing gown, and as he paced, his loose slippers flopped up and down at the heels. Three days had gone by since Rosa Lind and her two confederates had passed Miggs on their way out of the house, and none of the three had returned. Murchison stopped in his walk and pushed the button that summoned Miggs. The butler entered.

"Repeat what you said. Miggs," Murchison commanded, frowning.

"Yes, Mr. Roger." said the butler. "I was standing at the door quite as usual, sir, when the lady and the two gentlemen came down --"

"Miss Lind and Skink and Tubbel?"

"Just so, sir. I opened the street door. 'I beg pardon, miss,' I said, 'but if Mr. Murchison asks, shall I say you will be back soon?' She looked in her purse then, sir, to find her key. 'You may tell him, Miggs,' she said, 'that I will return in half an hour.' Then she followed the two gentlemen out, and I closed the door, sir."

"And you saw the two cars outside?"

"Yes sir; when I opened the door, sir, I saw Mr. Skink's touring car and Mr. Tubbel's limousine. I think I may say I heard them depart after the door closed, but I did not see them, sir. I do not know whether the lady entered either car or went afoot."

"And that is all you know, is it?"

"I'm sorry, sir, but that is the extent of my direct knowledge."

Murchison looked at the butler sharply.

"What do you mean by that? Do you know anything else?" he demanded.

"I hesitated to speak of it, sir," said Miggs. "Because you seemed sufficiently disturbed by the young lady's disappearance, but I have observed some suspicious-looking characters hanging about the neighborhood."

"You mean in the Avenue?"

"Across the Avenue, sir, and in front of this house. Two very ordinary-looking gentlemen, sir -- plain-clothes policemen. I should judge them to be, if I might venture an opinion."

"My God!" cried Roger Murchison. "If anything has happened to Rosa Lind! Miggs!"

"Yes, Mr. Roger!"

"Are those men still hanging about?"

Miggs went to the window and peered between the curtains.

"I seem to observe one concealing himself in Mrs. Cordonville's areaway, sir." he said.

Murchison pressed close to Miggs and looked out. A man was standing as Miggs had said.

"Miggs," said Murchison, "go across the way and bring that man to me here. Whatever the fellow's business may be, he has no right to spy on this house."

While Miggs was on his master's errand, Murchison again paced the room nervously.

"Confound it!" he muttered. "This is what comes of dealing with rascals like that miserable Skink and disgusting Tubbel. I have been harboring criminals, I have no doubt."

Which, take it as we may, was a remarkable statement to come from a man who had been voluntarily maintaining a private Graft Syndicate.

A few minutes later Roger Murchison, seated at his study table, faced the man Miggs had brought there.

"That ain't none of your business," the fellow had just said, in answer to Mr. Murchison's first question, "or anyway, it ain't none of your business as far as I'm concerned."

"It is my business," said Murchison with emphasis. "You were watching my house -- a private gentleman's home; and I have a right to know why you were doing so. Either you are a criminal intent on burglarizing this house -- and I do not believe that, since you have permitted yourself to be brought here -- or you are some sort of spy engaged in watching the movements of some one in this house. I choose to think you are a spy. Doubtless you would call yourself a detective. Very well, then: is it Skink or Tubbel you want?"

Roger Murchison trusted this bold query to draw some expression to the fellow's face. It did more than that; it brought a laugh to his lips.

"Oh, them two simps!" the man laughed. "We got them three days ago. They was easy, chasing around town in their giddy automobiles, like kings or emperors, or something. No sir, it's a slicker one than them we are after."

Murchison gazed straight into the man's eyes.

"A woman?" he asked. "A young woman?"

The man made no answer.

"Ah, I see! It is a young woman you seek," said Murchison triumphantly.

"I ain't saying," declared the fellow.

Murchison laughed.

"My good man," he said, "you are just a bit too simple for this trade of yours, and I venture to predict you will not be engaged in it long. I know as little about the detective profession as any man now living, I dare say, but I know that a sleuth -- if that is what you call yourself -- who does his work in such a way that even the aged butler of the establishment he is watching observes him, is a poor sort of detective."

"Unless he happens to want to be seen, hey?" asked the fellow. "Unless, maybe, his orders are to hang around and be seen."

"What do you mean by that?" asked Murchison quickly.

'Say, don't try to act so innocent. The party we want is in this house, and you know it.'

"Maybe I don't know what I mean," said the man, "and maybe I mean that one way to find a bird is to throw a stone into the bush and make it flutter. Say, don't try to act so innocent. The party we want is in this house, and you know it."

"In this house?"

"Yes, and maybe more than one party we want is here, too," said the man roughly. "You got me up here, and I'll say something, now that I'm here. We've had our eyes on this house for more than a couple of weeks now, and we know mighty near what this house is. It's a den of bunco men and grafters; that's what it is."

Roger Murchison paled. That word of his private Graft Syndicate should leak to the outside world he had never thought. It was, considering the state of his feeling for Rosa Lind, the last thing he could have desired. He dropped at once the haughty tone he had been using.

"Listen, my friend," he said more graciously, "a great mistake has evidently been made. How any word of my private Graft Syndicate may have reached the ears of your superiors I do not know; but I assure you -- and ask you most earnestly to tell those above you -- that any graft business originating here was my private affair and carried on at my request."

The detective smiled wryly.

"Some guessed that," he said.

"Then they guessed correctly," said Roger Murchison. "Let me explain the facts of the affair. I have suffered for months from insomnia --"

With careful detail Murchison explained, and the man listened, until the whole story of the selection, hiring and activities of Mr. Skink, Mr. Tubbel and Rosa Lind had been told, even to the means by which they had buncoed their willing victim. When he had ended the tale, Roger Murchison smiled. But the detective did not smile.

"That sounds straight." he said, "and it sounds as if you thought you was telling the troot, the whole troot and nothing but the troot, as the saying is; but it ain't but the part troot. What you know about the Henderson Case, and the Barker Case and the Middletown Case? Anything? And what do you know about the Scheminitz Case and the Colliver Case and the Doolittle Case? Nothing?"

"What!" cried Roger Murchison.

"All right, friend," said the man. "There you are, then. If you don't know about them, they're your answer. Graft and bunco cases, all six of them, and some of the rawest, roughest graft ever pulled off in New York, and all of them worked from this house by Red-line Rose and a gang of crooks -- including, if you please, this here Skink and this here Tubbel you named the names of. It ain't for me to say, friend, but it looks like you had sat there sucking a thumb while a bunch of slick guys put it all over you -- that is," he added, "if you ain't the head of the gang at that!"

Murchison made himself as calm as he could. He closed his hands until the nails bit the flesh. He was weak with surprise, as many a man has been when similarly overwhelmed by the absolutely unexpected.

"As you say," he said finally, "unless I am the head of the gang myself."

"And if you are," said the detective, "you're a slick one, but you'll be slicker if we don't pin it on you this time."

Murchison placed the forefinger of his left hand against his temple, as was his habit when thinking deeply.

"Do you want to arrest me?" he asked.

"That ain't my order," said the man. "Wait and watch is my orders."

"Just so!" said Murchison. "You mentioned, however, that the -- the one you were seeking was in this house. If you do not mean me, you must of course mean the young woman you call Red-line Rose."

"Have that your own way," said the man.

"I merely meant to suggest," said Murchison, "that you are at liberty to search the house for her if you wish. It might lessen your labors."

"You mean that?" asked the man eagerly.

"Certainly. One moment, please."

In answer to the bell, Miggs appeared at the door.

"I believe you rang, sir?"

"Yes. Miggs," said Murchison. "This is a gentleman of the detective force, Miggs. He desires to search the house. You will aid him in a most minutely careful search, Miggs, and then report to me."

An hour later Miggs tapped gently on Roger Murchison's door.

"Nothing was found out of the ordinary, sir," he said. "The gentleman has taken his departure."

"Did he seem disappointed, Miggs?" Murchison asked.

"If I may venture the opinion, sir," said Miggs, "he seemed much put out about it. He used most ungentlemanly language."

Roger Murchison's aunt Ann Warker, who was worth in dollars and cents -- and in common sense, too -- even more than Roger Murchison, greeted Miggs in her unconventionally friendly fashion as she entered the house, and asked him if Roger was in.

"In his study. Miss Warker," said Miggs, "and very low in his mind, indeed, if I may say so. Shall I tell him you are here?"

"No," she said sharply. "He's a fool. I'll go up."

It was characteristic of Miss Warker that she stalked in upon Roger Murchison after the briefest possible knock on the door, and thus she caught him in the act of raising his head from his arms, which were folded on his table.

"Humph!" she exclaimed. "And where did you get this precious document?"

"Moping!" she exclaimed. "Mooning and moping! Well?"

"She has been arrested, said Murchison ever so drearily.

Ann Warker took the scrap of paper he pushed toward her and went to the window to read it, for the light was better there.

"Humph!" she exclaimed when she had studied the scrap of paper, turning it over and over and even holding it to the light. "And where, may I ask, did you get this precious document?"

"By mail. It came by mail," said Murchison.

"And who, pray, is Dan Fogarty?"

"A detective -- a man who was watching the house."

Murchison moved uneasily in his chair, like a man who is too downcast to care what happens. Ann Warker, with her back to the light, studied him.

"You're a fool. Roger Murchison," she said sharply. "What do you care for that chit, anyway? And I suppose you've worked yourself into a state again over it all. How are you sleeping?"

"Can you ask it? I slept miserably last night -- the most distressful dreams!"

Ann Warker, her face in the shadow, smiled, and it was a happy smile. She loved her gaunt, middle-aged nephew as only an unmarried aunt can love the son of her only sister, and she cared little enough for trouble of a sort that let him sleep. A modicum of trouble is good for a man; it takes his mind off greater troubles. If worry over the fate of Red-line Rose kept Roger Murchison from nights of sleepless thinking of the missing figure of the Markham Vase, she was well satisfied that he should have a little of such worry.

"Dreams!" she said scornfully, however. "Dreams -- that's about all you are good for, I dare say. Do you believe this nonsense?"

She tossed the paper on the table.

"What?" Murchison asked, raising his head suddenly.

"You poor silly!" said Ann Warker. "I do verily believe you think this is real. A note from some fraud who signs any name he chooses and scrawls, 'Red-line Rose is arrested; wait for news,' and you swallow it like a gudgeon. You do need a guardian aunt, Roger Murchison! Lucky for you that you had a last glimmer of sense and telephoned me."

"You don't believe it, then?" Murchison asked eagerly. "You think she is still free?"

"I think she is still free enough to bunco a poor half-wit like you," said his very frank aunt. "You are the very limit of gullibility, my boy. Let me ask you one thing: What have you to go on, in all this nonsense? Two men lurking across the street! Your precious Rosa Lind and her two pretty companions stay away from your house a few days. Miggs brings one of the lurking men to you, and he tells you a pretty cock-and-bull story and then writes a letter. What else do you know?"

"Nothing," said Murchison reluctantly.

"Nothing indeed!" said Miss Ann. "A pretty thing to say! You know you hired these three sweet creatures to bunco you, don't you? Well?"

"You mean," cried Roger almost joyfully, "that this is a bunco scheme -- that she is not arrested?"

"Roger Murchison," asked Ann Warker solemnly, "could you see through a stone wall if there was a plate glass window in it? Or are you totally blind? Do you read the newspapers? Did you ever know of six notable bunco cases, with a character with a name like Red-line Rose implicated, and not a line in the papers? Stuff and nonsense! You're being buncoed. You're getting what you paid to get, and you don't know it. Have you even so much as called up police headquarters?"

"Why, no, Aunt Ann." said Roger, laughing. "I have not."

"I did not think you had," said Ann Warker scornfully. "To have done so would have shown at least a glimmer of common sense. I will ask police headquarters."

She put out her hand for the telephone that stood on the table but before her hand could touch it. Roger had drawn the instrument beyond her reach.

"Wait!" he said.

"What now?" asked his aunt with some irritation.

"Wait!" he repeated. "You think too rapidly; you forget something now and then. You have guessed, no doubt, Aunt Ann, what I mean to do."

"As meaning?"

"That I mean to marry Rosa Lind," said Roger seriously, "if she will marry one so unworthy as I."

"Oh, but!" exclaimed Ann Warker. "Of course I know that. I can read you like a book, my boy!"

"I mean to marry her, yes," said Roger, "-- but not as Red-line Rose, the bunco woman. That, as you know, could not well be. If I can gain her consent, she shall go abroad for a year or so; I will meet her there, but not as Red-line Rose. So, you see, I do not care to be known to the police as being interested in her."

Ann Warker withdrew the hand she still held extended toward the telephone.

"You do have a sensible idea once in a century," she said grudgingly. "But there are other ways of learning what we want to know. Sergeant Forman, for example."

"Sergeant Forman?"

"Of the police department, and one of my tenants. A fine man and my good friend -- I have not raised his rent, you see. Just a moment."

Miss Warker picked up the telephone directory and gave Roger a number.

"Get it for me," she said.

A pleasant female voice answered Roger over the wire and asked him to wait a moment. Sergeant Forman was in and would come to the wire.

"Let me talk to him first," said Ann Warker; and when Roger handed her the instrument: "Is this Sergeant Forman? Forman, this is Ann Warker."

The few remaining words spoken by Miss Warker indicated that Sergeant Forman was indeed her friend. She then spoke of Roger Murchison.

"But I think this is not a business to discuss over the telephone," she declared. "Can you come to this house? At once? Very good; we will wait for you."

"That's the way to do it," she said triumphantly, and in half an hour Sergeant Forman arrived.

The Sergeant was a young man, well set up and almost handsome in the neat police uniform he wore. Murchison, greeting him, found his face vaguely familiar, but this was not surprising; New York policemen are not hid under a bushel.

"I know you by name and face, of course, Mr. Murchison," the Sergeant said, "and I am glad to be of service to Miss Warker -- to be of service of any kind," he added meaningly. "Now, I think I know why I am here."

He turned to Ann Warker.

"The graft affair, isn't it?" he asked. "The Red-line Rose business?"

"Just that," said Roger's aunt. "We want to know about it. Is this Rosa Lind girl arrested? What does it all mean? Is -- wait; look at this note."

She handed him the scrap of paper telling of Rosa's arrest.

"That's all right," he said. "I told Dan he could drop a word or two. Well, here's the --"

He hesitated, arranging the matter in his mind for easiest explanation.

"Here's the facts," he said: "We've got eight complaints of big bunco work -- got them at headquarters, you understand -- and the big chief put me on the job. The minute I began to look into them, I spotted Red-line Rose's technique. We get to know graft style just as, say, some other fellows can tell a canter from a trot. I bunched the eight jobs and laid them all to Red-line Rose. So then I sent out my scouts."

"Including Mr. Fogarty," said Murchison.

"And Fogarty is not the fool he looks," said Forman. Fogarty is one of keenest men. He picked up two men, in Skink and Tubbel, who had been mixed in all eight cases, and they squealed. They're cheap rats, you know; so they squealed. And from what they said," said Forman slowly, keeping his eyes on Murchison, "I got the tip that this was a sort of gentleman burglar game -- a high-life graft syndicate."

He hesitated.

"Go on," ordered Ann Warker.

"All right, then," said the Sergeant. "The tip was that the graft syndicate was being worked from this room. The tip was, Mr. Murchison, that you were the head of the business."

"Well?" asked Murchison.

"Well," said Forman, "Fogarty got the document."

"Document!" exclaimed Ann Warker and Roger Murchison together.

"The contract Mr. Murchison, here, made with Red-line Rose and Skink and Tubbel, setting up a graft syndicate for one year, or longer if necessary. Then we picked up Red-line Rose. I'll say she kept her mouth shut. That's all. I put the whole case up to the big chief and talked it over with him, and the result was that we told Dan Fogarty to write this note. We thought it would work."


"Meaning that I knew Miss Warker was your aunt, Mr. Murchison, and that she knew me. 'This man Murchison,' I told the big chief, 'is a millionaire and a Fifth Avenue old-family man, and he's not in this graft business for money. It is some bet or fad or something, and he's gone into it with clean hands -- the contract he made shows that; and these three crooks have put one over on him -- made use of him for dirty business. Let Fogarty get in touch,' I told the big chief, 'and I'll bet I hear from Miss Warker inside of twenty-four hours.'"

"But why?" asked Ann Warker. "Why want to hear from me?"

"The police are not exactly in the business of giving every old family in New York a black eye," said Forman. "Early and late, we hush up a lot of things about unruly sons and giddy daughters. There are some queer freak notions boiled up in empty heads up Fifth Avenue way, now and then -- and on the East Side too, for that matter. If the rights of innocent parties are not hurt --"

He paused. Ann Warker cast a meaning glance at Roger Murchison.

"But the eight men who were buncoed, Forman?" she asked.

"Be glad enough to get their money back," he said tersely.

"And Red-line Rose?"

"Well, of course," said Forman with a smile, "if the eight men withdraw their complaints, and say they were mistaken, there is nothing left for the police to do but beg the pardon of the lady and her two gentlemen friends and kiss them good-bye."

Murchison opened the drawer of his desk and drew forth his checkbook.

"On one condition," he said, dipping a pen in his ink. "You are to bring Miss Lind here when she is released from prison."

"Easy," said Sergeant Forman. "But if you are going to make a check, just make it to Miss Warker, if you please. In a thing of this sort --"

"I understand," said Murchison. "And now the amount."

Sergeant Forman drew a document from his pocket and placed it on the table. Neatly typed, it gave the names of the eight victims of the Red-line Rose gang, with the amounts out of which each man had been buncoed. Roger Murchison footed the columns.

Roger Murchison footed the columns. "Eighty-two thousand dollars," he said without emotion.

"Eighty-two thousand dollars," he said without emotion. "I shall make the check an even one hundred thousand. There may be incidental expenses."

"Taxicab fare, fetching Red-line Rose," said Ann Warker, "and two cents for the stamp on Mr. Fogarty's letter. And I hope, Roger Murchison, this will be a lesson to you. I hope you will end your foolishness here and now and forever."

Murchison blotted the check and handed it to his aunt.

"You have told me often, Aunt Ann," he said, "that I was born a fool and would always be one."

Less than two hours later Roger Murchison sat at the same table in the same room, but the chairs at the opposite side of the table were occupied by Rosa Lind and the highly ornate figures of Mr. Skink and Mr. Tubbel.

"And none of you was in jail at all?" asked Roger Murchison, a smile bending the corners of his mouth.

"None of us," said Rosa Lind.

"And Sergeant Forman is your brother, and not a police officer?"

"That is the truth."

"And Fogarty and the other spy were merely men Skink and Tubbel picked up in a Bowery lodging-house for this job?"

"Yes, Mr. Murchison."

"I see. I understand now why Forman's face seemed familiar. And the point of the matter seems to be that, under my agreement to double any amount you take from me by crooked means, I owe you one hundred thousand dollars. Is that it?"

Rosa Lind smiled, and Murchison drew out his checkbook for the second time that day. He pushed the check across the table, and not inadvertently, let his hand touch the hand of the head of the Graft Syndicate.

"I am much pleased by the efficiency shown," he said; "but how did you ever induce my dear aunt Ann Warker to aid and abet you?"

Rosa Lind, folding the check and dropping it into her purse, drew out another bit of paper. When Murchison picked it up, he saw a neat schedule, in the hand of Miggs the butler, giving date by date some valuable information. It ran somewhat to this effect:

Monday -- Mr. Murchison slept two hours.

Tuesday -- Mr. Murchison slept five hours.

Wednesday -- Mr. Murchison slept heavily six hours.

Thursday -- Mr. Murchison slept seven hours and snored.

Roger Murchison returned the paper and smiled again.

"Miss Lind," he said, "I venture to express the opinion that my aunt Ann Warker is a brick. And not," he added, "a gold brick."



Saturday, October 07 at 1:21:23am USA Central
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