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Chapter 14 The Third Man

  • As soon as he was fully awake the following morning, Bob Eden's active brai_eturned to the problem with which it had been concerned when he dropped of_o sleep. Madden had killed a man. Cool, confident and self-possessed thoug_e always seemed, the millionaire had lost his head for once. Ignoring th_ossible effect of such an act on his fame, his high position, he had wit_urderous intent pulled the trigger on the gun Bill Hart had given him. Hi_light must have been desperate indeed.
  • Whom had he killed? That was something yet to be discovered. Why had he don_t? By his own confession, because he was afraid. Madden, whose very nam_truck terror to many and into whose presence lesser men came with awe an_rembling, had himself known the emotion of fear. Ridiculous, but "you wer_lways afraid of him," Thorn had said.
  • Some hidden door in the millionaire's past must be found and opened. First o_ll, the identity of the man who had gone west last Wednesday night on thi_onely ranch must be ascertained. Well, at least the mystery was beginning t_lear, the long sequence of inexplicable, maddening events since they came t_he desert was broken for a moment by a tangible bit of explanation. Here wa_ start, something into which they could get their teeth. From this they mus_ush on to—what?
  • Chan was waiting in the patio when Bob Eden came out. His face was decorate_ith a broad grin.
  • "Breakfast reposes on table," he announced. "Consume it speedily. Before u_tretches splendid day for investigation with no prying eyes."
  • "What's that?" asked Eden. "Nobody here? How about Gamble?"
  • Chan led the way to the living-room, and held Bob Eden's chair. "Oh, cut that, Charlie," the boy said. "You're not Ah Kim today. Do you mean to say tha_amble has also left us?"
  • Chan nodded. "Gamble develops keen yearning to visit Pasadena," he replied.
  • "On which journey he is welcome as one of his long-tailed rats."
  • Eden quaffed his orange juice. "Madden didn't want him, eh?"
  • "Not much," Chan answered. "I rise before day breaks and prepare breakfast, which are last night's orders. Madden and Thorn arrive, brushing persisten_leep out of eyes. Suddenly enters this Professor Gamble, plentifully awak_nd singing happy praise for desert sunrise. 'You are up early,' says Madden, growling like dissatisfied dog. 'Decided to take little journey to Pasaden_long with you,' announces Gamble. Madden purples like distant hills whe_vening comes, but regards me and quenches his reply. When he and Thorn ente_ig car, behold Mr. Gamble climbing into rear seat. If looks could assassinat_adden would then and there have rendered him extinct, but such are not th_ase. Car rolls off on to sunny road with Professor Gamble smiling pleasantl_n back. Welcome as long-tailed rat but not going to worry about it, than_ou."
  • Eden chuckled. "Well, it's a good thing from our standpoint, Charlie. I wa_ondering what we were going to do with Gamble nosing round. Big load off ou_houlders right away."
  • "Very true," agreed Chan. "Alone here, we relax all over place and find wha_s to find. How you like oatmeal, boy? Not so lumpy, if I may be permitted th_mmodesty."
  • "Charlie, the world lost a great chef when you became a policeman. But—th_evil! Who's that driving in?"
  • Chan went to the door. "No alarm necessary," he remarked. "Only Mr. Holley."
  • The editor appeared. "Here I am, up with the lark and ready for action," h_nnounced. "Want to be in on the big hunt, if you don't mind."
  • "Certainly don't," said Eden. "Glad to have you. We've had a bit of luc_lready." He explained about Gamble's departure.
  • Holley nodded wisely. "Of course Gamble went to Pasadena," he remarked. "He'_ot going to let Madden out of his sight. You know, I've had some flashes o_nspiration about this matter out here."
  • "Good for you," replied Eden. "For instance—"
  • "Oh, just wait a while. I'll dazzle you with them at the proper moment. Yo_ee, I used to do a lot of police reporting. Little bright eyes, I was ofte_alled."
  • "Pretty name," laughed Eden.
  • "Little bright eyes is here to look about," Holley continued. "First of all, we ought to decide what we're looking for."
  • "I guess we know that, don't we?" Eden asked.
  • "Oh, in a general way, but let's be explicit. To go back and start at th_eginning—that's the proper method, isn't it, Chan?"
  • Charlie shrugged. "Always done—in books," he said. "In real life, not so muc_o."
  • Holley smiled. "That's right—dampen my young enthusiasm. However, I am no_oing to recall a few facts. We needn't stress the side issues at present—th_earls, the activities of Shaky Phil in San Francisco, the murder of Louie, the disappearance of Madden's daughter—all these will be explained when we ge_he big answer. We are concerned today chiefly with the story of the ol_rospector."
  • "Who may have been lying, or mistaken," Eden suggested.
  • "Yes—his tale seems unbelievable, I admit. Without any evidence to back it up, I wouldn't pay much attention to it. However, we have that evidence. Don'_orget Tony's impassioned remarks, and his subsequent taking off. Mor_mportant still, there is Bill Hart's gun, with two empty chambers. Also th_ullet hole in the wall. What more do you want?"
  • "Oh, it seems to be well substantiated," Eden agreed.
  • "It is. No doubt about it—somebody was shot at this place Wednesday night. W_hought at first Thorn was the killer, now we switch to Madden. Madden lure_omebody to Thorn's room, or cornered him there, and killed him. Why? Becaus_e was afraid of him? We think hard about Wednesday night—and what do we wan_o know? We want to know—who was the third man?"
  • "The third man?" Eden repeated.
  • "Precisely. Ignore the prospector—who was at the ranch? Madden and Thorn—yes.
  • And one other. A man who, seeing his life in danger, called loudly for help. _an who, a moment later, lay on the floor beyond the bed, and whose shoe_lone were visible from where the prospector stood. Who was he? Where did h_ome from? When did he arrive? What was his business? Why was Madden afraid o_im? These are the questions to which we must now seek answers. Am I right, Sergeant Chan?"
  • "Undubitably," Charlie replied. "And how shall we find those answers? B_earching, perhaps. Humbly suggest we search."
  • "Every nook and corner of this ranch," agreed Holley. "We'll begin wit_adden's desk. Some stray bit of correspondence may throw unexpected light.
  • It's locked, of course. But I've brought along a pocketful of old keys—go_hem from a locksmith in town."
  • "You act like number one detective," Chan remarked.
  • "Thanks," answered Holley. He went over to the big flat-topped desk belongin_o the millionaire and began to experiment with various keys. In a few moment_e found the proper one and all the drawers stood open.
  • "Splendid work," said Chan.
  • "Not much here, though," Holley declared. He removed the papers from the to_eft-hand drawer and laid them on the blotting pad. Bob Eden lighted _igarette and strolled away. Somehow this idea of inspecting Madden's mail di_ot appeal to him.
  • The representatives of the police and the press, however, were not s_elicately minded. For more than half an hour Chan and the editor studied th_ontents of Madden's desk. They found nothing, save harmless an_nderstandable data of business deals, not a solitary scrap that could by th_idest stretch of the imagination throw any light on the identity or meanin_f the third man. Finally, perspiring and baffled, they gave up and th_rawers were relocked.
  • "Well," said Holley, "not so good, eh? Mark the desk off our list and let'_ove on."
  • "With your permission," Chan remarked, "we divide the labors. For yo_entlemen the inside of the house. I myself have fondly feeling for outdoors."
  • He disappeared.
  • One by one, Holley and Eden searched the rooms. In the bedroom occupied by th_ecretary they saw for themselves the bullet hole in the wall. A_nvestigation of the bureau, however, revealed the fact that Bill Hart'_istol was no longer there. This was their sole discovery of any interest.
  • "We're up against it," admitted Holley, his cheerful manner waning. "Madden'_ clever man, and he didn't leave a warm trail, of course. Bu_omehow—somewhere—"
  • They returned to the living-room. Chan, hot and puffing, appeared suddenly a_he door. He dropped into a chair.
  • "What luck, Charlie?" Eden inquired.
  • "None whatever," admitted Chan gloomily. "Heavy disappointment causes my hear_o sag. No gambler myself, but would have offered huge wager something burie_n this ranch. When Madden, having shot, remarked, 'Shut up and forget. I wa_fraid and I killed. Now think quick what we had better do,' I would expec_irst thought is—burial. How else to dispose of dead? So just now I hav_xamined every inch of ground, with highest hope. No good. If burial made, i_as not here. I see by your faces you have similar bafflement to report."
  • "Haven't found a thing," Eden replied.
  • Chan sighed. "I drag the announcement forth in pain," he said. "But I now gaz_olemnly at stone wall."
  • They sat in helpless silence. "Well, let's not give up yet," Bob Ede_emarked. He leaned back in his chair and blew a ring of smoke toward th_aneled ceiling. "By the way, has it ever occurred to you that there must b_ome sort of attic above this room?"
  • Chan was instantly on his feet. "Clever suggestion," he cried. "Attic, yes, but how to ascend?" He stood staring at the ceiling a moment, then wen_uickly to a large closet in the rear of the room. "Somewhat humiliate_ituation for me," he announced. Crowding close beside him in the dim closet, the other two looked aloft at an unmistakable trap-door.
  • Bob Eden was selected for the climb, and with the aid of a stepladder Cha_rought from the barn, he managed it easily. Holley and the detective waite_elow. For a moment Eden stood in the attic, his head bent low, cobweb_aressing his face, while he sought to accustom his eyes to the faint light.
  • "Nothing here, I'm afraid," he called. "Oh, yes, there is. Wait a minute."
  • They heard him walking gingerly above, and clouds of dust descended on thei_eads. Presently he was lowering a bulky object through the narrow trap—_attered old Gladstone bag.
  • "Seems to be something in it," Eden announced.
  • They took it with eager hands, and set it on the desk in the sunny living- room. Bob Eden joined them.
  • "By gad," the boy said, "not much dust on it, is there? Must have been pu_here recently. Holley, here's where your keys come in handy."
  • It proved a simple matter for Holley to master the lock. The three men crowde_lose.
  • Chan lifted out a cheap toilet case, with the usual articles—a comb and brush, razors, shaving cream, tooth paste, then a few shirts, socks an_andkerchiefs. He examined the laundry mark.
  • "D—thirty-four," he announced.
  • "Meaning nothing," Eden said.
  • Chan was lifting a brown suit of clothes from the bottom of the bag.
  • "Made to order by tailor in New York," he said, after an inspection of th_nner coat pocket. "Name of purchaser, however, is blotted out by too muc_earing." He took from the side pockets a box of matches and a half-empt_acket of inexpensive cigarettes. "Finishing the coat," he added.
  • He turned his attention to the vest and luck smiled upon him. From the lowe_ight-hand pocket he removed an old-fashioned watch, attached to a heav_hain. The timepiece was silent; evidently it had been unwound for some time.
  • Quickly he pried open the back case, and a little grunt of satisfactio_scaped him. He passed the watch to Bob Eden.
  • "Presented to Jerry Delaney by his Old Friend, Honest Jack McGuire," read Ede_n a voice of triumph. "And the date—August twenty-sixth, 1913."
  • "Jerry Delaney!" cried Holley. "By heaven, we're getting on now. The name o_he third man was Jerry Delaney."
  • "Yet to be proved he was the third man," Chan cautioned. "This, however, ma_elp."
  • He produced a soiled bit of colored paper—a passenger's receipt for a Pullma_ompartment. "Compartment B—car 198," he read. "Chicago to Barstow." He turne_t over. "Date when used, February eighth, present year."
  • Bob Eden turned to a calendar. "Great stuff," he cried. "Jerry Delaney lef_hicago on February eighth—a week ago Sunday night. That got him into Barsto_ast Wednesday morning, February eleventh—the morning of the day he wa_illed. Some detectives, we are."
  • Chan was still busy with the vest. He brought forth a key ring with a fe_eys, then a worn newspaper clipping. The latter he handed to Eden.
  • "Read it, please?" he suggested.
  • Bob Eden read:
  • "Theater-goers of Los Angeles will be delighted to know that in the cast o_ne Night in June, the musical comedy opening at the Mason next Monday night, will be Miss Norma Fitzgerald. She has the role of Marcia, which calls for _ich soprano voice, and her vast army of admirers hereabouts know in advanc_ow well she will acquit herself in such a part. Miss Fitzgerald has been o_he stage twenty years—she went on as a mere child—and has appeared in suc_roductions as The Love Cure."
  • Eden paused. "There's a long list." He resumed reading:
  • "Matinees of One Night in June will be on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and fo_his engagement a special scale of prices has been inaugurated."
  • Eden put the clipping down on the table. "Well, that's one more fact abou_erry Delaney. He was interested in a soprano. So many men are—but still, i_ay lead somewhere."
  • "Poor Jerry," said Holley, looking down at the rather pitiful pile of th_an's possessions. "He won't need a hair-brush, or a razor, or a gold watc_here he's gone." He took up the watch and regarded it thoughtfully. "Hones_ack McGuire. I seem to have heard that name somewhere."
  • Chan was investigating the trousers pockets. He turned them out one by one, but found nothing.
  • "Search is now complete," he announced. "Humbly suggest we put all back as w_ound it. We have made delightful progress."
  • "I'll say we have," cried Eden, with enthusiasm. "More progress than I eve_hought possible. Last night we knew only that Madden had killed a man. Toda_e know the name of the man." He paused. "I don't suppose there can be an_oubt about it?" he inquired.
  • "Hardly," Holley replied. "A man doesn't part with such personal possession_s a hair-brush and a razor as long as he has any further use for them. I_e's through with them, he's through with life. Poor devil!"
  • "Let's go over it all again before we put these things away," said Eden.
  • "We've learned that the man Madden feared, the man he killed, was Jerr_elaney. What do we know of Delaney? He was not in very affluen_ircumstances, though he did have his clothes made by a tailor. Not a smar_ailor, judging by the address. He smoked Corsican cigarettes. Honest Jac_cGuire, whoever he may be, was an old friend of his, and thought so highly o_im he gave Jerry a watch. What else? Delaney was interested in an actres_amed Norma Fitzgerald. A week ago last Sunday he left Chicago at eigh_.M.—the Limited—for Barstow, riding in Compartment B, car 198. And that, _uess, about sums up what we know of Jerry Delaney."
  • Charlie Chan smiled. "Very good," he said. "A splendid list, rich wit_romise. But one fact you have missed complete."
  • "What's that?" inquired Eden.
  • "One very easy fact," continued Chan. "Take this vest once on Jerry Delaney.
  • Examine close—what do you discover?"
  • Carefully Eden looked over the vest, then with a puzzled air handed it t_olley, who did the same. Holley shook his head.
  • "Nothing?" asked Chan, laughing silently. "Can it be you are not such abl_etectives as I thought? Here—place hand in pocket—"
  • Bob Eden thrust his fingers into the pocket indicated by Chan. "It's chamois- lined," he said. "The watch pocket, that's all."
  • "True enough," answered Chan. "And on the left, I presume."
  • Eden looked foolish. "Oh," he admitted, "I get you. The watch pocket is on th_ight."
  • "And why," persisted Charlie. "With coat buttoned, certain man can not reac_atch easily when it reposes at left. Therefore he instructs tailor, mak_ocket for watch on right, please." He began to fold up the clothes in orde_o return them to the bag. "One other fact we know about Jerry Delaney, and i_ay be used in tracing his movements the day he came to this ranch. Jerr_elaney had peculiarity to be left-handed."
  • "Great Scott!" cried Holley suddenly. They turned to him. He had picked up th_atch again and was staring at it. "Honest Jack McGuire—I remember now."
  • "You know this McGuire?" inquired Chan quickly.
  • "I met him, long ago," Holley replied. "The first night I brought Mr. Eden ou_ere to the ranch, he asked me if I'd ever seen P.J. Madden before. I sai_hat twelve years ago I saw Madden in a gambling house on East Forty-fourt_treet, New York, dolled up like a prince and betting his head off. Madde_imself remembered the occasion when I spoke to him about it."
  • "But McGuire?" Chan wanted to know.
  • "I recall now that the name of the man who ran that gambling house was Jac_cGuire. Honest Jack, he had the nerve to call himself. It was a quee_oint—that was later proved. But Jack McGuire was Delaney's old friend—he gav_erry a watch as a token of their friendship. Gentlemen, this is interesting.
  • McGuire's gambling house on Forty-fourth Street comes back into the life o_.J. Madden."