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An Artist In Crime

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[Copyright, 1896, by G. P. Putoam's Sons.J rrÑTeHiTílicl le? Tt uoes seem impossible." " exactly what oceurred. Yon see, it is ]ike this : Whenever a storm comes from Lancaster way, the clouds when they get here are divided by the Pliny range and pass on either eide, leaving usdry. Then they strike against tbe sides of the Presidential range and roll back into our valley. It was a curious sight, I assure you, to see the ckrnds flying in exactly opposite directions. " "Well, but, aftor all, there could not have been any great beauty in the rain. It must have blotted out all the view. " "Yes, but think how odd it was to find all these tremendous peaks ]y gone. Kot a mountam in sight in any direction. üut, then, the thunder. Oh, that was grand ! The -way it rolls about and reverberates gives one a good idea of a great battle. There was sornething afterward that carried out this similarity, too, which I wish I could describe. It was after the storm had passed and the bright setting san shone forfh. Try to see the picture. Imagine yonrself sitting jnst where I am uow, and looking toward the Presidential range, the sun setting red behind us. Mount Washington had shakeu the clouds from his head and was encircled by a gorgeous halo, in the form of a brilliant donble rainbow. One end of it seemed to come np right out of the valley there. while the other disappeared behind Starr King mouutain. The flying clouds, still black and heavy, whirled swiftly along, hanging low, and, with the sun approaching the horizon, made shifting shadow across the base of Mount Washington, while between the rifts the red rays of the sunstriking different parts made beauteous tintings among the green and the brown of trees and rock. Oh, if an artist oould only have seen that ! But then it would have been useless, for the hand of man could not paint such grandeur. It was in the foreground thdt the resemblance to the battlefields was to be seeu again. Every here and there stray bits of clouds disentangled themselves from the tree tops and rose up srnokelike til! one could imagine thern to be from thousands of campfires. Oh, it was simply wonderful!" "It was indeed, '' said Mr. Thauret, "and your description brings it all back agajii tu me. "Then the beautiful loug twilight," Dora continued, almosttiuheecliug,"that ■was lovely. Slowly these stray bits of mist met and joined others, till aa the darkness carne and the moou brightened, that beautiful sheet of water - for after all your lake is real water - accumulated, aud there it is. At lenst you can enjoy that. " He did. But what he enjoyed more was the simple happiness of being with her. After a short time, however, he was deprived of that, for Mrs. Remseu claimed bis atteution, aud took him np to the ballrooru to introduce him to some of the ruany young women who were dancing with each other and with boys of 14 for want of better partners. If Mr. Thauret annoyed JSir. dolph by being at this resort. the latter gentleman was none the more pleased at his arrival. Beiug lef t alone with Dora, and construing her present mood to be ene favorable to his wooing, he determined to speuk to her before the other man might find a chance. Moving his chair nearer hers, he began, getting to his subject without much circumlocution. : "Miss Dora," said he, "do you recall a conversatiou that I had ■with you one day? I rueau about loneliness and the longing one has for companionship?" "Oh, yes," said she frankly ; "why? Do you wish to continue it aowr" "If you please. You remember you said you would be better able to do so af ter your sister 's rnarriage. " "Because I thought that I would miss her so mnch and be lonely myself, was not that it? Well, of course I have missed Queen very much, but I have scarcely beeu lonely. Yon have taken care of that, and am sure that I aru very grateful to you. You have beeu ■very nice to me." "You think so? Yon admit that?" He spoke eagerly. "Why, yes! Why not, eince it is true?" "Of conrse, but then you know so many young ladies ide their feelings. I mean suppressiorNof all emotion is considered so necessary in a woman in these days. " "Suppression !" and she laughed heartily. "Now do you think that I could ever be suppressed?" "No, indeed, and certainly I hope that you Liever will be. But if you have not been lonely, perhaps you have thought someof that other subject, love, I mean. " "Oh! That!" "Yes. That is one question, supreme to me, about which I wish to have your views. Do you think you would be happier or unhappier - if you were married?" "That isaquestion. It would depend upon - my husband, would it not?" "Suppose that we were" - "Don't cali ñames, please. I couldn't suppose such & thing. I have proraised not to. " 'Promised not to. I don't underst:ind?" "I mean that I have made a bet. You don 't think I ain horrid to bt, do you? Of coursO you don't. Well, I have made a curieus bet with Bob, Mr. Mitchel, you know. I cali hirn Bob uow, and I nsed to do it sometimes before. That was wheu I wanted him to do anything for me. Id mude himfeel liko one of the farnily. Well, to teil you abont my bet. Yqjj ppp. poipíIíkwSj, wbji Fniijj was í . out, Bob wonld" play mate love fo me He said it wou Id be good practice fo roe ; wou id teach me the ways of th World aud all that sort of thing. Oh Bob is a cp.rious man, but he is grea sport! Dou't you like him?" "Imruensely. But yon have not tol me yet about your bet. " "I am ooruing to it. Wel], one da when he was making love fo rué and wus doing my best, suddenly he burb out lanhing and said, 'Dora, I'll be ycraTl "be eñgageil wllfflii slx monftufói our inarriage. ' 'How much?' said I 'As mucli as you like,' said he. I aske him if he would make it $1,000, and h whistled aad callee! mea little gambler But I don :t think it was garnbling be cause I was to have a certainty. O conrse I wanted the stake ta be a larg one. So it was agreed, and he wrote i dowu on paper. I'U show it to you som time if yon like. If I am not engagec before the lst of Jauuary, Bobwillhav to pay me $1,000." "And you mean to win that bet?" "Indeed I do. I am young and can afford to wait that long, I am sure. There will be time enough afterward to get a husbaud. " "Then it would not make aoy difference how anxious a su i tor nright be to have his reply at once?" "No, certainly not. If a man did not love me enough to wait a few months for his answer, I should think myself well rid of him. Besides it would give me a chance to study him. " "Suppose- but, 110 - I do ask you. Miss Dora - Dora - I love you madly, passiouately, and"- " Well, don't say any more. If that is true and you love me madly, passionately, why, then you will snrely wait till January for your answer." This was eaid rather curtly, aud Mr. Thanret's hwpes sank, but rose again to fever heat as she said very softly: "There, I did not mean to hurt you. You must not think me hard. But I must win that wager. Not so inch for the meney as for the gTatlí ation of proving to Bob that I have Hume control over myself. Surely if you truly love me you will not begrudge me that satisfaction?" "No, no, sweet one. Have your own way. I'll wait. Only say that there is Borne chance of my succeeding. " "Why, of course, every one has a chance. But I must not teil you how great yours is, because if I did I would not be winning my bet fairly. And I must say good night, " with which she Joit him. Her last words lingered with him, and be took comfort. For what oould she mean but that his chances veré good, since if otherwise how could the telling prevent her from winning her wagerí Nevertheless, as the weeks went ou líe tried rnany times to get a more dcfinite reply from her, bnt nevei sncceeded. Stil! he hugged the cherished hope to his heart and waited as patiently as raat) could. Randolph was simply miserable all the time. Whenever he was wüh.Dora, she was good to him, kind to him and often used tender tones that thrilled his heart. But he, too, failed to get anything from her, save the old request that he should be patiënt and wait. He, too, waited, but not patiejitly. Meanwhile, in New York, Mr. Barnes was still burrowing intoeverything that seemed to have auy connection direct or otherwise with the mystery or mysteries that baffled him. Of one thing he had gatisfied himself beyond all doubt. That was that Mr. Fisher had not been implicated iu the train robbery. His spy had found that he had been absent from the city during three days at the time of the crime, but thisveryfact had been shown to be his safeguard. By some skillful work the man discovered that during that time he had simply been off shooting ducksin a part of the country where it would have been impossible f or him to be au accomplice. This simple fact should not have been hard to discover were it not that Fisher had kept his trip a secret. This for some time puzzled the detective, but finally he followed him out of the city, and practically accompanied him on a similar outing, af ter which he learned that his sister was morbidly opposed to all killing, whether for sport or for a livclihood. It was to humor this idea that her brother made his excursions in secret. The spy learned from the man from whom the dogs were hired that Mr. Fisher had used thern in December. So that left him out of the score, or at least so it seemed. It was still possible that he was implicated in the ruby robbery, though, save that he was present, there seeined nothing agaiiist him. Mr. Barnes did not entirely leave him out of the account. Thus practically the detective made no progress, and was chagrined to be compelled to adrnit it. Finally, however, an idea occurred to him, npon Vfhich the more he dwelt the more fascinated he became with it. To put it into pi-actice, however, he feit that he must await the return of Mr. Mitchel. He thought be would injure his cause by seekiug him aid so disturbing him during his pleasure trip. TheMitebelsdid not keep theirpromise to go to the White mouutains, but, on the coutrary, prolouged their western travel, so that it was November before they were at home again and temporarily quartered at the Fifth Avenue. A few days after, Mr. Barnes sent up his card, and, as usual, was cordially received. "Any news of my wife's ruby?" asked Mr. Mitchel, grasping the detective warmly by the hand. "No, Mr. Mitchel. I am sorry to say that I am utterly unable to prove any of my theories about that. But I have come to a set determination, and one that to you may seern a peculiar one. I have come to ask your assistance in the murder case. "' "Why, certainly, I will help yon. Did I not teil you so at the very ontset? Have I ncjt ahvaj's been williug to talk freely to you?" "Ytmlnivc, but as long as I tbought that you yourself might have committed the crime, how could 1 come lo you tp ask you to assist 'ïheu I üej ty . s . '. that at present you do not suspect rnè"7-' "I have come to that conclusión at last aud wish now that I had done so souner. " "Would yon mind tellixig me why you have altered yom1 mind? You have told me so much that seemed to iruplicate nie that I aru curious to hear the other side. " '"Certainly. I overheard your wager. Tb en --urne the robbery and then tha murdvT. Later there was a second jewel robbci)': All of these crimes occurred withiu the ürnit which yon set. One of thern of course 3'oucominitted. Itseerns more probable that you stole the single ruby, for in doing that yon comrnitted a crime for which you could not be punished, especially since you have married the lady. Even before she would will ingly have testifled that it was understood between you, and that it was simply a trick to win a wager. Is not that correct logic?" "Correct logic? Yes. Of cdtarse I admit nothiug as to facts. " "Either or both of these robberi es are secoiidary to the mnrder. That I have determined to unravel if Ican. At present I think the train, robber and the murderer was oue and the same person. Now, there is one clew which I have not beeD able to follow, but whieh, if pnrsued, I am certain will lead me straight to the criminal." "And that is?" "The button which I found in the room. That is significant. Itistoogreat a coincidence that it should match your set not to have an explanation that would shed light upon this case. " "How do you expect me to assist yon in that directionf" "As long as í thought yon guilty I believed that you had lied when yon said that the seventh button of the set was the Shakespeare pin which jour wife had. That is why I thought it of importance to recover it; sufficiently so to send my spy, Lucette, into the house with instructions to obtain it if possible. Now that I believe yon innocent of the murder, this thonght has recently come to me. When I first told you about this button, before you would speak about it, you asked me to allow you to examine it. After doing so you gave it back to me, with a cheerful smile. If that button had been evidence against you, I see now that it would have required a powerful nerve to appear so unconcerned, and especially to return it to me. The question, then, that I wish you to answer is, What was it that you saw on that button which satisfied you that it was not of your set?" "In the first place, Mr. Barnes, I knew tbat tbere were bnt three like it, the other tbree having different heads, and the seventh being the Shakespeare button. Thus as I knew tbat all the buttons were in my possession I folt safe." "But in the second place," said the detective, "there was a distinct difference betweeu the buttons, and by that you were even more assured. Am I not right?" "Mr. Barnes, you deserve to succeed, and I hope you will. I wil] aid you all that I can. You ave right. There ia a difference in the buttons. Have you yours vith you?" "Yes, here it is, " saying which he took it from bis pocketbook. " Keep it a moment. When Miss Rernsen ordered these buttons, she directed that a tiny initial should be adroitly carved in the hair of each of the Romeo and Juliet buttons. In the forrner she ordered an 'E. ' She calis me Roy. And in the others a 'Q. ' I cali her Queen. Thiswould escape ordinary observation, but once seeing it with a lens one rnay readilyfind it with the naked eye afterward. Now take this lens and examine your button, just at the base of the hair, uear the neck. So ! What do you find?" "By heavens, " esclaimed the detective, "this is most important ! This is a Juliet, and if ono of your set it should have a 'Q' on it. I believe that there was au attempt to make that letter, but the tooi must have slipped, and so it is a poor resnlt, a cmp, m íact, whieh marks the continuity of the letter. I doubt if with the eye aloue, as yon ooked at it that day wheii I first showed it to yon, that you saw any letter at all." "Yon aru correct. I simply looked for ho'Q, 'aud not finding it was satisfied." "This is scwious. This button evidenty was made by the same hand that made yours. It was spoiled and another ut to replace it. The man who carved t or the person who became possessed f it must aud shall esplain to me how t carne iuto the room where the murder vas done. You must teil me now where hese buttons were bonght. " "I will do so upon one condition. " "Name it. " "That whatever you discover you will ell me before you act, and that jwu will uot act before Jan. 1 uuless absoutely uecessary. " "You mean as to making an arrest?" "That is precisely what I mean. Yon need not fear to make the promise. I vill guarantee that your mau shall not scape. I know him. " "You know him ï" Mr. Barnes was stonished that Mr. Mitchel should make such an adruission. "Yes, I kuow him. That is, I am rarrally certain í'iat 7 know him. I will tv.l you at ciice tliat liaving tus kuov.-iedge that I rnvself was innocent I hae. had an advantage over you, and I have been hunting down ihis man all these months. I have good circnmstantial evideiice against him, hut uut enough to wairant an arrest - at least not yet. If yon could follow this clew and find tha-t it leads to the same mail we could convict him." "WiH yon give me the name cf the wan wiom yon suspect?" . "iXo! That would materially vcaken onr case. We must get the same resnlt without collusion. No, yon worl: alone and vork qnickly, for I particularly wish the case to be cornpleted by Jan. 1. " "Why so?" "It is the day upon which my wager is to be deci(3d, and I shall give a din Der party, at which I anticípate some fun. By the way, don't forget that yoi won a dinner from me on a wager. Ac cept an invitation to dine with me Jan 1, and if yon can then convict onr man yonjjhall be most welcome. " "I shall bend every euergy to that end. But now teil me the name of the jeweler from whom the buttons were procured. " Mr. Mitchel then wrote down the name of a Paris firm, also giving their address. Handing the slip of paper to Mr. Barnes, he took another sheet and continued writing. "Why, Mr. Mitchel," exclaimed Mr. Barnes, "this is the same firm from whom your jewels were brought - those, I mean, which are similar to the stolen set. I have already communicated with these people, and they sent me word that they knew nothing. " "Yes, I know. That was by my instruction. " Baying which Mr. Mitchel smiled, and Mr. Barnes once more discovered that he had been fighting against a, man who thought of everything. "You see, " continued Mr. Mitchel, "I knew that yon saw the name of the jewelers on the bill of sale. What inore probable than that yon should apply there for information? Now, my object throughout has been not to defeat justice, but to have time enough elapse for me to win my wager. Therefore I immediately sent a cable to these persons, 'Answer nothing signed Barnes till you hear from me. ' Rather a long cable dispatch, but then I dou't mind a few dollars. Of course my cable to them made them shut their mouths to you. It was very simple. However, I myself have not beeu able to get satisfactory f acts from them, and I think it ueeds a person actúa lly on the ground to ferret out this thing. I believe yon are just the mail for the case. This letter will give you their assistauce, and here is a check for $500 for expenses. " Mr. Barnes wculd have refused, but Mr. Mitchel insisted that from that time ou Mr. Barnes should consider himself regularly employed on the murdercase. "Tbough of course," said Mr.Mitchel jocnlarly, "you are etill free to work out the robberies. " The two meu shook liands at parting, and one would have said that they were separatiug after a nratually satisfactory interview. CHAPTEB XVII. A NEW YEAB'S DINNER PARTY. The lst of January arrived, and Mr. Mitchel had faeard nothing from Mr. Barnes. Inquiry at his office was met by the simple statement that "the chief is out 'of town. " When he would be back or where a cominunication wcrald reach hiin could not be learned. A few days before, however, a formal engraved invitation to the dinner party had been mailed to his home address. Mr. Mitchel was annoyed at not having any notification of whether or not the detective would be present. However, he was compelled to go ahead and depend upon the slight chance that at the last moment he would appear upon the sceue. He hoped that this would occur, as otherwise his scheme, for the eveniug would be incomplete. The dinner , as to be served at 10 o'clock that night at Delmonico's, where a private room had been engaged. It lacked ten minutes of the hour for sitting down, and all the guests had ar rived except Mr. Barnes. These were Mr. Van Ra wis ton, Mr. Randolph, Mr. Fisher, Mr. Ntuilly, who had decided to spend the winter in New York ; Mr. Thauret, and several other gentlemen. It lacked barely half a minuto of 10 when Mr. barnes was announced and entered in handsomeeveuing dress. Mr. Mitchel's face wore a look of triumph as he saw him, and he hurried forward to receive him. Every one present understood why the detective was invited, for it was by this timewell known that a wager was to be decided at 12 o'clock. After the exchange of greetings Mr. Mitchel gave the waiters the order to open the doors of the dining room, and in the moment's interval managed to get a word with the detective. "Teil me quickly, have you succeeded?" "Yes, thoroughly. " "Good! Write the rúan 's uarue on v. card, and I will give you one upou which 1 have written the uarue of my uiau. " Mr. Barnes did bo. Then they eschauged cards, glanced at them and grasped eachcther's hands significantly. The curds bore the same uarue. With the others they wout into the dining rooru. Mr. Thauret found himself seated next to Mr. Barnes, while on the other sido of the detective sat Mr. Fisber. It need scarcely be said that the dinucr -was enjoyadle and enjoyed, though it ruust be V.dnítted that all awaited anxiously the hour of 12. It will be as well perhaps, therefore, to come irumediately to the denouenient, for which all were asserubled. The last course had been served, and coffee and nuts were ou the table, when the dock chirned the hour for which all were anxious. Proruptly at the flrst stroke Mr. Mitchel aróse. There was a silence tiJl 12 was tolled, and then lie began: "Geutlemen, you have all kindly accepted iny invitatiou to see me win a rash wager made 18 raonths ugo. It is odd_ jnerhais thnt I should have won- for I ánnounce that I have won - wben we remember that the time was 13 ïnonths, which unmber, as we all' know, superstitious persous are incliued to connect with misrortune. To show, however, that I do ïiot harbor such childish ideas, I purposely made the tirne of that leugrh, and tonight at the decisive moment we are Here he paused a moment, uurl oue might have noticed thai áveral persons quiekiy connted thosa present to test the fact. Continuing, h) said: "The snperstition in connection with 13 at dinner ia a well defined one, and the snpposition is that one of the nuniber wil] die within the year. I offer as a toast, therefore, 'Long life to all present - who deserve it.'" The last clause, afteraslight hesitation, made a decided effect. However, the toast was drnnk in silence. "As some present may uot entirely understand what my wager was I must explain that 13 mouths ago touight I was in a Pullman sleeper with my friend, Mr. Randolph. Mr. Barnes here had just accomplished a neat capture of the criminal Pettingill, who has since been convicted. The papers were praising him, and Mr. Randolph did so to me in giowing terms. I -ventured the assertion that detectives run down their prey largely because the criminal class lack intelligence sufficient to compete with their more skilied adversaries. I offered to wager that I could comniit a crime within a month and not be detected within a year thereafter. The arnount was to be $1,000 and was accepted by Mr. Randolph. I stipulated for conviction, though had I been arrested within the stated period and convicted afterward I shonld have considered that I had lost the wager. That is why I awaited the arrival of Mr. Barnes so ansiously. I had not seen him for some time, and it was possible that at the last moment he might be prepared to arrest me upon evidence that would later convict me. HowTever, gentlemen, I have escaped both arrest and conviction, yet I coinmitted the crime as wagered. " (To ba continued )