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An Artist In Crime

An Artist In Crime  image
Parent Issue
Day
10
Month
March
Year
1899
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

[Copyright, 1895, by G. P. Putnam's Sous.J CHAPTER I. i GENTLFJfXtf THINKS HE CAN COMMIT A CKIMB AND ESCAPE DETECTION. "Jack Barnes never gets left, yon bet." "That was a olose cali, though," replied the Pullman porter vrho bad given Mr. Barnes a helping hand in his desperate effort to board the midnight express as it rolled ont of Boston. "I wouldn't advise you to jump on moving trains of ten. " "Thank yon for your good advice and for your assistance. Here's a qnarter for yon, Sbowme tomy section. Iamnearly dead, I ara so tired. " "Upper 10. Right this way, sir. Itis all ready for you to turn in. " When Mr. Barnes entered the coach, no one was in sight. If there were otber passengere, they were abed. A few minutes later he himself was putting two little bags of feathers and placing oue atop of the otbcr iu a viin aftempt to rnake theiii serve as one pillow. He had told the porler tliat he was tired, aud th'is was so true tbut be shonld have fallen asleep quickly. Instaid iiis brain seemed specially active aud sleep iiupossible. Mr. Barnes - Jack Barnes, as hecalled himself to the porter - was a detective, aud counted one of the shrewdest in Jíew York, where he controlled a priTatO agency established by himself. He had just completed wbat he considered a most satisfactory piece of work. A laïge robbery had been comruitted in New York, and suspicion of the strongast nature had pointed in the directioa of a young man who had imruediately been arrested. For ten days the press of the country had been trying and convicting the suspect, during which time Mr. Barnes had quietly left the metropolis. Twelve hours before we met him thosewhoread the papers over their toast had been amazed to learn that the suspect was innocent and that the real criminal had been apprehended by the keen witted Jack Barnes. What was better, he had recovered the lost funds, amounting to $30,000. He had had a long chase after his man, whom he had shadowed from city to city and watched day and night, actua.ted to this course by a slight clew iu ■which he had placed his faith. Now, his man fast in a Boston prison, he was on his way to New York for requisition papers. As he had said, he was tired, yet despite his need of complete rest his tfc.öughts persisted in rehearsing all tbe intricate details of the reasoning which had at last led him to the solution of the mystery. As he lay in his upper berth awake these words reached his ears: "If I knew that man Barnes was after me, I should simply snrrender. " This prpruised to be the bcgiuniug of aa entertaining conversution, and as he could not sleep Mr. Barnes prepared to listeu. Extensive experience as a detective had made him long ago forget the philosophic argumeuts for and against eavesdroppiug. The voice which had attracted hini was luw, luit his cars were keen. He located it as coming from the Bection next ahead of his, No. 8. A second voice replied : "I have no duubt that yon would. But I wonldn't. You overestimate the abilïty of the modern detective. I should cctnalJy enjoy being honnded by oneof thenj. Itwovtld be soinueh pleasure, and, I tbink so easy, to einde him. " The last speaker possessod a voice which was musical, and he articnlated distiuctly, thongh he scarcely ventored above a ioud whisper. Mr. Barnes cautiously raised his head, arranging his pillows so that his ear would be near the partition. Portunately the two men nest to him had taken the whole sectiou, and the upper berth had been allo-wèd to remain closed. Mr. Barnes now found that he could readily follow the conversation, which contiuned thus : "But see how that Barnes traoked this Pettingill day and night nntil he had trapped him. Jnst as the fellow BBpposed himself safe he was arrested. Yon must admit that was clever work. " "Oh, yes, clever euough in its way, but there was uothing specially artistio about it. Not that the detective was to blame. Itwas the fault of the criminal. There was no chance for the artistic. " Yet Mr. Barnes had used tbat very adjective to himself iu commenting upon his conduct of this case. The man continued : "The crime itself was inartistio. Pettingill buugled, Barnes was shrewd enough to detect the flaw, and with his experience and skill iu such cases the end was inevitable." "It seems to me either that yon have not read the full account of the case or else you do not appreoiate the work of the detective. Why, all the clew he had was a button. " "Ah ! Only a button, bnt such a button ! That is where I say that the criraiiial was inartistic. He should not have lost that button. " "It was an accident, I suppose, and one against which he could uot have guarded. Itwas one of the exigencies of his crime." "Exactly so, and it is these little aocidents, always unforeseeu, though always occurring, which hang so many, and jail so many, and give our detectives such an easy road to fame. That is the gist of the whole matter. It is an uneqnalgame this between the criminal and the detective. " "I don 't oateh what you are driving at." "I'llgive you a dissertation on crime. Attend I Ia ordinary business it is brains versus brains. The professional man conteu&s with his fellows, and if he would v,'in the race _toward fortune he jnust show nloriTBrains. Tlie eommercKÍl man competes with otber tradesmen all as clever as himself. So it goes froia the lawyer to the locksmith, from the preacher to the sigu painter. It is brains rubbing against braius, aud we get the most polished thonght as the result. Thus the science of honest living progresses. " "What has this to do with the criminal class?" "One moment. Let the philosopher ' teach yon in his own way. With the criminal it ia different. He is matched against his superior. Those ia his own class do not contend with him. They are rather his partners, his 'pala,' as they term it. His onlycoutentiou, therefore, is with the detectives who represent society and the law. No man, I suppose, is a criminal from choice, and it is the criniinsü's necessity which leads to his detecfcion. " "Thou all crimináis should be ;aught?" "All crimináis shonld be canght. That they are not is a strong argument against your detective, for every criminal, ve rnay say, is actnated by necessity, and tlierein lies the possibility of hisdefeat. For example, yon may claim that the expert burglar lays liis plans iu advanee, and that, the crime beiug premeditated, ho should be able to make such carefnl prearrangements that he could avoid leaviug telltale marks behind him. This, however, is rarely the case, for this reason - the unexpected often if not always happens, and for that lie has not prepared. In a moment he sees prison ahead of him, and his fear steals away his caution, so that, as wo have seen, he does leave a clew behind him. " "But when you say the unexpected happens you admit the possibility for that to occur which could not have been premised, and therefore could not have been guarded against. ' ' "That is trne is the case stands. But remove the i cesflity which actuates our criminal and -i.ike of him simply a Bcieutiflo ma:i (mrsuing crimeas an art I In the flrst place, we get an individual who will prepare for more accidents, and, secondly, would know how best to meet emergencies which occur during the coiuinission of his crime. For exaniple, if you will pardon the conceit, were I to attempt a crime I should be able to avoid detection. " "I should think that fronj your inexperience as a criminal you would be run to earth - well, about as quíckly as this man Pettingill. This was his first crime, you know. " "Would you be willing to make a wager to that effect:" This last remark fairly starUed Mr. Barnes, who instantly uuderstood the meaning, which, however, at first escaped the other listener. He waited eagerly for the reply. "I dou't grasp the idea. Make a wager about what?" "You said that were I to commit a crime I should be captured abont as quickly as Pettingill. If you wish, I will wager that I can commit a crime which will ba as much talked of as his, aud that I will not be captured, or rather I should say convicted. I would not bet against arrest, for, &s we have seen in this very case, the innocent are sometiines ncarcerated. Therefore I stipulate for conviction. " "Do I nnderstand you to seriously offer to commit a crime merely to decide a wager? You astound me!" '; No more perhaps than Pettingill has surprised his frieuds. But don't be alarmed. I shall assuine all responsibility. Besides, remeinber it is not crirae that is scowled upon in this centnry, but detection. I wager with you against that. Come, what do you say? Shall it be $1,000? I want a little excitemont I" "Well, you shall have it. At least you shall havo the excitement of paying the thousand dollars to me, for, thongh I think you are uut really intendirig to become a criminal iu citiier event, I may as well prolU by your offer. " "What do you mean, by 'in either event?' " "VVhy, if yon do not ooiumit a crime, you pay. and if yon do I ain sure that you vould be canglrt. Then, however niuch 1 sbuuld regret yonr disgrace, I waru yon that Ishould cut you dead and take your tnouey. " "Theu yon acoept the wager?1' "Ido!" " Doue. Now for the couditious. T am to have oue month iu wbich to plan and coniuiit my crime, and one year for avoiding the detectives. That is, if lam f ree at the end of one year aud can prove to you that I committed a crime vf ithin the stipulated period, I wiu the wager. If I am in jail awaitiug trial, the bet caunot be settled until the law has had its way and I am either proved innocent or guilty. Is that satisfactory?" "Perfectly. But what class of crime will you commit?" "Myfriend, you are inquisitiva The wager is on, and my boasted caution must begin. Therefore I must not teil you anything of the nature of my intended crime." "Why, do you auppose for an instant that I wonld betray yonï" "Well, yes, íhat idoa does occur to me. Listen. As I said before, the necessities of the criminal prove bis Nemesis. Tho necessities iuvolve the object of the crime. That is always a good starting poL'it 'u followipg np a ons caso." The njore ünñsuaT the object the better, einco itwill fitfewer people. Plunder is the commonest and therefore the least proniisiug to trace froni. Revenge is coinmon also, bnt better, because the special revenge connected with the deed must lead to the special individual most likely to execute such revenge. In thia instance - I mean my own case - the object of the crime is so unique that the detective who discovers it should beable toconvíctme. A crime committed to decide a wager is perhaps new. ' ' "lts very novelty is your best safegaard. ' ' "Yet there are two ways by which it may be discovered, and that is two too many. Had I undertaken this affair secretly thei-e would really have been but a single way for. oue to learn my secret - my own confession. As men have been weak enongh to do this before now, I should even in that instance have taken precautions. But with my secret in the possession of a second party the position is more complex. " "I assure you on my honor that I will not betray you. I will agreo to forfeit flve times the wager in such an event. " "I prefer that you should bo perfectly at liberty in the matter. I expect it to be thus. In your own niiiid at piesent yon do not think that I shall carry out my pnrpose. Therc-forc your fricndskip for me is undistnrbed. Theu you count that, if I do corninit a cvime, it will be some trivial one that you may bring your conecience to excuse, nader the circumstances. But letus suppose that a really great crime should be reponed, aud for some reason yon should suspect me. You will hnrry to my rooms before I get out of bed and ask me flatly whether I am gnilty. As flatly I should refuse to enlighten you. You would take this as a confession of guilt. Yon would perhaps argue that if your surmise were correct you would be an acccssory before the fact, and to shield yourself and do yonr daty you would make a clean breast of it." "I am begiuniug to be offeuded, Bob. I did not think you would trust me so little!" "Don 't get angry, old man. Rerneniber that only a few minutes ago you warned me that you would cut me dead after the crime. We artistic crimináis must be prepared against every contingency. ' ' "I did not thiuk wheu I spoke. I did not mean it. " "Yes, you did, and I am not at all angry. Let it be understood then that you will be at liberty to repeat the facts about this wager shonld your coliscience prick you. It will be best for me to expeet aud be prepared for such action. But you have not asked what the second danger of discovery is. Can you guess?" "Not unless you mean as you suggested, your own confession. " "No, though that really makes a third chance. Yet it is so simple. Have you uoticed that we can hear a man snoring ■"' "No!" "Listen a moment! Do you not hear that ''. It is uot exactly a suore, but rather a troubled breathing. Now that man is in the third section from us. Do you see the poiut?" "I must coufess that I would not make a detective. ' ' "Why, my dear boy, if we can hear that fellow, why may not some one in the next compartmeut be listening to our tete-a-tete?" Mr. Barnes fairly glowed with admiration for the fellow :s careful consideraron of every point. "Oh, I guesa uot! Everybody is asleep. " "The common criminal from necessity takes chances like that without conuting on thein. I .shall not. There is a possibility, however remote, that some oue, in No. ü, say, has overheard us. Again, he may even be a detective, and, worse yet, it aiight be your Mr. Barnes himself . ' ' "Well, I nnist say if you prepare agaiust snch long odds as that you deservo to escape detection !" "That is just what I will do. But the odds are not so great as you imagine. I read in an afternoon paper that Mr. Barnes had reinained in Boston in connection with properly securing his prisoner dnring the day, but that he would leave for New Yoik touight. Of course the uewspaper uiay have been wrong. Then in saying "tonight" it may have been inaccurate, but supposing the statement were true, then there were three trains upou which he might have srarted, one at 7 o'clock, one at 11 and this one. One in three is not long odds. " "But even if he is on thi.s train there ' are ten coaches. ' ' "Agaiu you are wrong. After his bard work un thi.s Pettingill ca.so he wonld be sure to take a sleeper. Now, if yon recall the fact, I did not decide to go to New York tonight till the last minute. Then we found that we could uot get a whole section and were about to bunk toge'her in a lower berth wheu, severa] moro people applying, they determined to put on auother coach. Therefore, unless Mr. Barnes secured his ticket dnring the day, he would inevitably bav beenassigned to this coach. " "Had yon any special reason for suggestniüNa H)j?" tamo in, and, I think. took the vipper berth of No. 10." Mr. Barnes begau to think that he would havo exceedingly difficult work to defect this man in crime were he real'? to conmiit one in spite of the fact that hv5 knew so much in advauce. The conversation contiuned : "Tlms, yon see, there are two ways by which my object may become known, a serious matter if unguarded -against. As, however, Irecognize the possibilities in advance, tlicre will be no difficulty whatever, and the kuowledge will be of no valué to any detective, even though he be your Mr. Barnes. ' ' "How will you avoid that dauger?" "My dear boy, do you suppose for an instant that I would reply to that after pointingout that a detective may be listening? However. I will give yon an idea. I will show you what I raeant when I said that Pettingill had bluudered. You said that he had lost only a button and thottght it cJover in Barnes to trace him frota the button. Bat i button nniy be a niost important tbing. If I should lose one of the buttons of my vest while cojnruitting a crime, Mr. Barnes would trace me out in much less than teu days, and for this reason they are the only ones of the kind in the world. " "How does that happen? I supposed that buttons were made by the thonsand." "Not all buttons. For reasons which I need not teil the possibly listening detective, a friend traveling abroad had a eet made specially and brought them back to me as a present. They are haudsomely cut cárneos, half the set having the profile head of Juliet and the others a similar face of R orneo. " "A romance?" "That is immaterial. Snppose that I should plan a robbery in order to decide this wager. As necessity would not urge me either as to time or place, I should choose my opportuuity, let ns say, when but one person guardcd the treasuve. That oue I shonld chloroform and also tie. Nest, I should help rnyself to tbe designated pluuder. ënppose that as I were about to depart a sleeping, uncaleulated for pet dog should jump out and bark furiously? I reach for it, and it snaps at me, bitiug my hand. I grapple it by the throat arul strangle it, but in its de.tth throea it bites ruy vest, and a button falla to the ground and rolls away. The dog is at last silenced. Your ordimiry bnrglar by this time would be so unnerved that he would hasten off, not even realizing that he had been bitteu, that blood had flowed, or that the button was lost. Mr. Barnes is sent to the house the nest day. The lady suspects her coachrnan, and Mr. Barnes consents to his arrest, not because he thinks hiin gnilty, but because, as the mistress thinks so, he niay be, and theu more espeeially, his arrest will lull the fear of the real culprit. Mr. Barnes would observe blood ou the ground, on the dog's immth, and he would flnd the button. Prom the button he would find Mr. Tbief, with his hand bitten, and there jou are. " "But how iihould you avoid all that?" "In the rirst place, were I really wise, I should not have telltale buttons abor.t me at suc-h a time. But let us suppose that the time liad not been of my own choosing; then the buttons might have been vith me. Ássured as I should have been fbat the only person in the house lay chldroforined and tied, I should not have lost my nerve, as did the other individual. Keither should I have allowed myself to bn bitten, though if the accident had ocuirred I shonld have stopped to wash up the stain _ from the carpet while fresh, and also from the dog's mouth. I should have discovered the loss of the button, searched for and recovered it, untied thevictim andopened the windows that the odor of chloroform could pass oiï during the night. In fact, in the morniug the only evidence of crime would have been the strangled dog and the absence of the pelf. " 'It is easy ènougti to explaïn yonr actions under supposititious circumstances. But I doubt if in Pettingill's shoes you would have been able to retain your presence of mind and recover the lost button which led to his final arrest. " "It"ïspossibTèTtliat youüFe rïgEt, for had I been Pettingill I should have been coerced by necessities as he was. Yet I think I shonld not have planned such a robbery, choosing my own time as he did, and then have taken with me such a button. But from Mr. Barues' standpoint, as I said before, very little of the artistic was needed. The button was constructed of a curious old coin. Mr. Barnes went the rounds of the dealers and found the very man who had sold Pettingill the coiu. The rest was routine work. ' ' "Well, yon are conceited, but I don 't mind makiug a thonsand out of your egotism. Now I atn sleepy, however, so good uight. " "Qood uight, old man. Dream of a way to earn au extra thousand, for I shall win. " For Mr. Barnes himself sleep was now more impossible than ever. He was attracted to this new case, for so he counted it, and was determine to trap the individual who wagered against his acumen. It was a long step toward snccess to know as much as he had overheard. He would uot lose sight of his man during the allotted month. He enjoyed the prospect of allowing him to commit his crime and theu quietly taking him in the act. Oarefully and noiselessly he dressed himself and slipped out of his berth. Theu he crept into one opposite, so that he could have his eye on No. S, and settled down for an all uight vigil. "It would not surprise me if that keen devil were to commit his crime this very night. I bope so, for otherwise I shall have uo sleep till he does. " (To becontlnued.)