Called down, or, Steve Manley in a desperate strait

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Called down, or, Steve Manley in a desperate strait

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Title:
Called down, or, Steve Manley in a desperate strait
Series Title:
Shield Weekly
Creator:
Bradshaw, Alden F.
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
Street & Smith
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
1 online resource (32 pages)

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Subjects / Keywords:
Dime novels. ( lcsh )
Detective and mystery stories, American ( lcsh )
Genre:
serial ( sobekcm )

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Source Institution:
University of South Florida
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
024876023 ( ALEPH )
64178328 ( OCLC )
S75-00016 ( USF DOI )
s75.16 ( USF Handle )

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serial

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Price, Five Cents. PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY STREET & SMITH, 238 William Street, New York City. 1 901, b y Stru t &' Smilll. All rights r'lrvd. Entutd ol Nw York Post-Office os Secon d-Closs Mollw.

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TRUE DETECTIVE THAft f l CTIOn IsS"tUd WuJ:ly. By SNb.rcrljJti.o n jJer yea,., Entuetl .as Suond-Class Afatte r at the N Y P ost Office /Jy STRRIIT & SMJTH, a38 William St. N. y. Entered A ecord:nr t o .Act of Conpus, oi tJct year u101, t"n the Office o f the Librarian o f Conrress, II/ashing-ton, D. c No. 18. NEW YORK, April 6, 1901. Price, Five Cents eALLED D0WN; O R, 5teve Manley in a De5perate 5trait. t3y ALDEN F. BRADSHAW. CHAPTER I. THE WAY OF THE TRANSGRESSOR. "She has been murdered! Her life been cruelly sacrificed, that the infamy ol some heartless man might not be exposed! She is the victim of treachery, the dupe of some scoundrel whose hands now are red with the crime he has committed! She has been killed by the villain who m isled--" "Hush! hush, young woman! You are not yet sure of this." "I am sure of it-I am! I feel it here in my heart! I loved my sister. And I feel that my suspicions are more reliable than the deductions of your co l d reasoning. Oh1 Chief O'Mara, I am certain that my darling sister has been cruelly wronged and killed!" These were the tragic d eclarations whic h o n t h e morning of April fift een t h, were made in the presence of Chief O'Mara and several of his inspectors, who were gathered in the chief's office in the bureau of detectives at the police headquarters'. They had issued from the lips of a tall, stylishly-dressed girl of great beauty, and whose language and bearing, despite her almost ungovernable emotion. indicated that she was a girl of education and refinement. She was about twenty-two, of the blonde type, wi'th forceful features, a delicate complexion and large, expressive blue eyes. The latter were flooded with tears while she thus gave utterance to her feelings, and all w'ho observed her noticed that her stately figure, for she was standing erect near the chief's desk, was trembling with emotion and distress. Steve Manl ey, the young detective, wh o

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SHIELD WEEKLY. was among those present, thought her one of the prettiest young women he had ever seen. Chief O'Mara read again the brief but startling note this girl had given him on en tering with her companion, who was a young man about her own age. and who stood beside her on th e floor. The missive was written on delicate, sc e nt e d paper, and read as follows: "Josrn, MY DARLING SrsTER. "I know you cannot love me after what I am about to do, but I shall always love you just the same, and cherish very dearly all our past relations. I have no alternative but to go as I am going. If I remain here, only shame and sorrow will be mine, and I could not meet your tender, loving eyes without an anguish no sister's heart could endure. I am going away with one who has promised to amend, if possible, the great wrong of which he is guilty, and you will never see me again. Try to think kind l y of me, as I shall always think with such loving s o rrow and remorse of )ou. I am writing this with tears in my eyes, and with a heart broken with grief; yet I must do what I am d o ing. Forgive me, if you can. "YOUR SISTER BELLE." This was the communication, and experi en c e had taught Chief O'Mara how to read between the lines of such a piteous farewell. "You say that your sister left this note fas tened to the pin-cushion in her ?" he asked, gravely, looking up at the pale face of the girl opposite. ''Yes, sir; I found it there this morning." "At what time did your sister leave home last evening?" "About half-past nine, sir." "Did she say where she was going?" "She said she had been invited to go to ride with a gentleman friend, and was to meet him outside. Also that she might not return until quite late, and that I need not sit up for her." "What is your name?" "Josie West, sir." "And your sister's?" "Belle West, sir," replied the girl, with a sob. "Your parents--" "Alas, sir, my parents are dead!" inter posed Josie \i\Test, taking the chair which her escort now brought forward. "vVhere do you live?" 'On Morningside avenue, sir, near the Allegheny Cemetery. vVe lived alone, my sister and I, in the house left u s by the death of my father three years ago." "Are you girls of means?" "Enough to live on, sir." "Have you been living alone?" "Yes, sir, since my father died." "Do you know to what gentleman your sister refers in this letter?" "No, sir, I do not." "Have you no suspicion?" "Nothing definite, sir. I know only that Belle has been friendly, and in correspondence, with soi;ne man for the past three months, but she never told me who he was." "Have you examined her letters?" "They all have been destroyed, sir." "With a view to concealing the identity of her betrayer?" "It would seem so, sir. She has not left a trace of anything that would suggest who the man may be." "Why, then, do you suspect that she has been murdered?" demanded Chief O'Mara, "rather than that she has voluntarily fled with the nian ?" "Because, sir, I believe these precautions have been taken at the man's instigation," replied Josie West, with much feeling. "Then you think he did this solely with a design to safely put your sister out of the way?" "That is just what I think, sir! It was not like my sister to have kept the truth-

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SHIELD WEEKLY. 3 from me, unless influenced by another, and the7i was quite dark; burt: that was my first by one she stood in fear of." impression as the team went by me." "How old is your sister Belle?" "She is t\YentY-one." "Of your style?" "She is darker. sir, and very pretty. Mr. "Did you notice her companion?" "I only know that a man was driving. did not see his face." "Can you describe the horse?'' t I Barrows, sir, will tell you she is the last girl "It was a reddish horse, sir; a sorrel, I in the world to have willfuly kept the truth think." from me. He thinks he saw her last night, riding with the man in question." Chief O'Mara turned to the young man in dicated, who had remained standing by Miss West's chair. He was a slight, dark-eyed man of twenty odd, with rather effeminate features and a very clear complexion, unmarred by the first sign of mustache or beard. Yet his "face was very attractive, his eyes frank and honest, and Josie West might very naturally have been deeply in love with him. "Are you Mr. Barrows?" demanded Chief O'Mara. "Yes, sir." bowed the young gentleman, toying nervously with his hat. "And what Josie-pardon me! what Miss West says, is true. I also believe that her sister is the victim of some kind of foul play. and that some Pittsburg man is respon sible for her mysterious dis appearance." "There is n'Ot very much mystery in her departure," returned Chief O'Mara. shortly. "She tacitly states in this note that s he ''"as about to run -away with a man. Where do you think you saw t
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SHIELD WEEKLY. CHAPTER II. THE EVIDENCE OF THE CRIME. "Your agitation--" "Do not mind that! I'll not cry any "Look after this girl!" cried Chief O'Mara, more-not here. What do you want to ask me?" springing to his feet. "Bring some water, quick." "She has fainted!" exclaimed Sidney Barrows, dropping to his knee beside the fallen girl. Aided by Ohief O'Mara, he raised her from the floor and laid her upon a couch near by, while Steve Manley rushed to the lavatory for water. Her restoration was the work of a few minutes only, and presently the fluttering eyelids of the inanimate beauty indicated her returning con'sciousness. "My sister-Belle!"' were the first words thia1 t issued from her gray lips. "She is dead-murdered!" "Hush! We will see," said Chief O'Mara, gently. "Are you able to sit up?" "Yes, yes, I am better!" she cried, with returning strength. "Help me to t'he chair again." "Give her a drop of brandy," sugge sted the sergeant. "Here is some." Josie West accepted the glass from the hand of her escort, and the stimuliant quickly sent a tinge of color into her white cheeks. Then her eyes took on again that former expression of grief and distress, and were turned wildlly about in search of the officer whose entrance had overcome her. Having seen the effect he had produced, he considerately had drawn to one side; but at a gesture from Chief O'Mara, he came for ward. "You must be calm, young lady," said the latter; "and meeit this bravely. I wish to question you further." "I am calm now!" exclaimed Miss 'Nest. "I know only too well that my poor sister is dead, and I ask only that you will do what you can to find her body, and bring her murd e rer to justice." "Come nearer, Mercer!" commanded Chief O'Mara. "What have you there?" But Josie West answered for the officer. "Belle's bonnet and hand-bag!" she cried, impulsively. "I recognized them instantly. It was the sight of them that made me faint." "How came you by them, Mercer?" "The bonnet was found in the river, Chief O'Mara, up above the Forty-third street bridge," replied the patrolman. "I found the hand-bag, sir, on the bank of the stream some distance beyond. There is considerable evidence that a very serious crime has been committed." "Oh, you maYl speak pklilnly, cried Miss West, observing the solicitous look he cast in her direction. "I am pre pared to hear the worst. Please, Chief O'Mara, get at the truth of this tragedy as quickly as possible." "\Vhat are the particulars, Mercer?" de mantled Chief O'Mara. The officer then explained. "It was reported to me, sir, when I first went on my beat tlhis morning, that s everal alarming screams were heard last night be tween ten and eleven o'clock, from a quarter some distance above the bridge." "On the Millvale side?" "Yes, sir. It is very lonely up that way, sir, with but few houses; and thinking there might have been something wrong to have caused the cries, I went up there to look about. On my way I met two lads who had been boating, and who had found the bon net floating near the bank of the sitream some distance above the bridge." "She has been drowned!" murmured Josie west, with a half-subdued mo-an and sob.

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. SHIELD WEEKLY. "A hundred yards or more beyond," con tinued Mercer, "I found the hand-bag on the bank, and in the soil near by there were signs of q. violent struggle." "Footprints?" Yes, chief, and several scrap5 of cloth, as if torn from a girl's dress. I have them here, sir." "They are like the waist Belle had on!" cried Josie West, half starting from her "Who made these reports?" "Two women sir, w ho were passing along the road some distance away at the time the screams were heard." "bid they state anything further?" "Only that they saw a team driven rap idly by them a little later, from tJhe direction in which the screams had been heard." "Did you get a description of the team?" A sorrel horse and buggy, sir, driven by chair. "There is absolutely no doubt, Chief a man." O'Mara, that my sister has been--" "Pardon me, Miss West!" exclaimed the chief, with a slight frown. "Please allow me to question the officer without further interruption. It is very evident that the case is one which requires thorough investigation, and it shall have it. Did you examine the footprints, Mercer?" "Very carefully, sir." "What did you find?" "The prints evidently were those of a man and girl, or young lady. In places they were quite plain. The girl wore a small shoe, that of the man was about an eight." "What more?" "I returned down river, sir, and on making inquiries I learned that a man and girl had been seen driving toward Dixon's road house about half-past eight last evening." "Did you get any description?" "Later, sir." "Go on." "\Vas the:-e no other occupant in the carriage?" "None fhat the women could see, sir." "Which way was the man driving?" "Toward the bridge, sir." "Did he cross into Pittsburg?" "The wolmen could not say, sir. They were considerably above the bridge, and the team had quickly passed out of sight." "What more have you done, Mercer?" "I employed a 'boy to take me out to Dixon's road 'house c hief, and there con tinued my inquiries." "That place doesn't enjoy a very good reputation, Mercer!" exclaimed Chief O'Mara, bluntly. "What did you find out there?" "I learned that a man driving a sorrel horse came there just before nine last even ing, and for more than an hour." "Any companion?" "A young lady," bowed Mercer. "The "I fi'rst hunted up the parties who had retwo had dinner in a private room, and were pox.ted the fact that screams had been heard, seen only by the waiter who served them and from them I learned that no effort had "Did you question the waiter?" been made on their part to ascertain at the "I did, chief." time the occasion for the outcries." "Did he know the man or girl by sight?" "Did they offer any explanation?" "They said that the screams ceased al most immediately, and that they had sup posed them to be the cries of boys, pos sibly, and had not thought it necessary to look into the matter." "He did not. He described the man as being about fifty, slightly gray, and wearing a mustache only. He was well dressed and appeared like a mian of means." "The girl?" "She was about twenty, of medium figure,

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6 SHIELD WEEKLY. complexion, and quite pretty. She was returned the chief. '"What more have you stylishly dressed, and wore a silk waist of learned, Mercer?" a pattern corresponding to the fragment I "I made further inquiries at the rnad had found on the bank of the river a short house, Chief O'Mara, but could find no one time before." who had seen and recognized the man," re"Did the waiter identify it?" plied the p;:trolman. But while question"Y es, sir.., ing the hostler, in whose care the team had "Were t'here any names spoken in his been left while the parties were at dinner, I hearing while he served t hem ?" "No, sir." "What other facts, Mercer?'' "The girl carried the hand-bag, chief, which the waiter also remembered. And he also recognized t'he bonnet found by the iwo boys." "What does the hand-bag contain?"' "Only a handkerchief and a pocketbook, chief," replied the officer, snapping the hasp and prodlucing the articles mentioned. "But the "pocketbook contains a little money, and several cards bearing the name--" Again Patrolman Mercer cast a doubtful look at the girl who sa i t listening so intently to his every word, and again she gave him to understand that she did not desire her feelirl'gs cpared by the suppression o.f any of the facits. "Speak out, officer!" she cried, with con siderable vehemence. "The name upon the card is"---"Miss Belle West, miss," said Mercer, gravely bowing. Josie West heard him withou a change in her white face; but all could see that she was deeply affected, and that only by force of a strong and resolute will were her emotions / "My sister's name, Chief O'Mara You see my impression was right," she added. with another betrayal of that bitterness which she several times had displayed. "I hope you will discover the knave who has so wronged her, and bring him to justice." "We shall try to do so, Miss West," curtly discovered the probable owner of the team." "Good! How was that?'' "They have ac Dixon's. sir, a fashion common enough with the road houses," explained i\Iercer. "Well, go on." "It is that of marking with a pencil on the bottom of a carriage the name of -the stable from which it comes, when the hostler or groom can learn the fact without appearing too inquisitive. The hostler last night recognized the sorrel as being an ani mal that had been dr}ven out to the road house on previous occasions, yet by different parties: and on examining the buggy he found tha.t the name of the livery stable from which it was hired had previously been noted in the team." "Then it was a let team?" "The hostler thought so." "And what name was penciled in the buggy?" "That of the American stables, chief, on Center avenue." "Have you been out there?" "No, sir; I came here at once with this information." And the officer fell back a step, like one who had concluded. Chief O'Mara swung quickly about in his chair and rang up the telephone call with the desk instrument at his elbow. It was a moment of intense excitement Every person present realized that the life of a man might hang upon the answer received -over the wire. /

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SHIELD WEEKLY. 7 The bitter and vengeful light in the eyes of Josie West was becoming brighter. and her lips had ceased quivering with emotion. But the paleness in the cheeks of her escort who still remained standing beside her chair, momentarily became very vivid. It was almost as if he, now, was about to faint. At the end of sixty seconds, Chief O'Mara had the line required. that Radcliff had a score of teams of hii own. "On several occasions," was the reply. 'In the day or evening?" "Always in the evening." "That's all!" exclaimed the chief, ringing off the wire. "Did you learn the villain's na me, sir?" cried Josie West, leaning quickly forward "Hello! The American stables. on Center with frowning eyes. avenue?'' The answer came promptly but they were heard by Chief O'Mara only. "Yes; who are Y ou ?" "O'Mara, chief of detectives! Did you let a buggy and sorrel horse to any person last evening?" "Yes, sir." "To whom?" "To Mr. Dana Radcliff, the coal mer chant." The chief could hardly believe his ears. He felt there must be some mistake. Dana Radcliff was one of the wealthy Pittsburg coal merchants, and had a magnificent home in Allegheny, with a wife and several chil dren. \Vhat business had Dana Radcliff out riding and driving with a girl of two and twenty? let more than one sorrel horse last evening?" demanded the chief. "No, sir; we have only one sorrel among our let horses." "At what time clicl the team go ouc ?'' "About eight o'clock." "And return?" "Between eleven and tweh-e." "Did the gentleman say where he had been?" "He did not." "I learned a name," said Chief O'.Mara, curtly. "Perhaps it will be given to you a Ii ttle later." He arose with the last, and strode to one of the corners of the room. His face had become more grave, and the ring of austere determination had found place in his sonorous voice. "Garrity, come here!" he commanded, quickly. The inspector named instantly joined him. Then the chief's voice dropped to a whis per. ''Go down to the office of Dana Radcliff, the coal merchant, Garrity," he said, with a significance instantly appreciated; "and see if he is there. If you find him, give him to understand that I wish to question him concerning a matter of which you know abso lutely nothing, and ask him to accompany you here at once. Take a carriage." "\Vhat if he declines to come, sir?" The glow in the dark eyes of Chief O'Mara intensifieg, !'Bring him here just the same," he com manded, bluntly. CHAPTER III. BROUGHT TO THE RINGBOLT. Five minutes later only two persons oc cupied Chi'ef 0 'Mara's private office; the chief himself, and young Steve Manley. "Has he ever hired a team of you before?'' The latter was seated at a table in one cor-asked Chief O'Mara, knowing well enough ner of the room, with a collection of docu-

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8 SHIELD WEEKLY. ments and a block of blank paper before him. Any str;mger would have supposed him to be merely an office boy, or a junior clerk. This was precisely what Chief O'Mara in tended. Yet Steve was there to make notes of the expected interview. "Good-morning, O'Mara," he responded, with blunt familiarity. "What do you want of me, that you send an officer for me with a hack? Has any of my numerous clerks fallen under suspicion?" "Hardly that! Take this chair, Mr. Rad cliff." "Thank you. What can I do for you?"' In an adjoining room, the door of which Chief O'Mara turned to face him more diwas close
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SHIELD WEEKLY. 9 The significance of what had been said was irresistible. Radcliff briefly hesitated. Though his cheeks were very pale, his eyes were now ablaze with resentment, and his stout figure tremulous with suppressed an ger. "Why do you question me thus?" he at length cried, hotly. "What is the meaning of these insinuations?" "They are not insinuations, Mr. Radcliff," said Chief O'Mara, with more austerity. "They are allegations." "They are presumptuous, sir!" "Do you mean that you deny them?" "Most assuredly, I do!" "I am glad to hear it." "Why are you glad?" cried Radcliff, pas sionately. "What do you imply by the repetition of that remark?" '"Merely that you are in a less serious position than I feared," Chief O'Mara answered deeply. "And as I said before, you doubtless can establish an alibi, if I am mis taken?" "But what need of an alibi?" "Aren't you acquainted with Belle \Vest, Mr. Radcliff?" Radcliff changed to a new course. He had brains enough to know that no ordinary matter would have occasioned this summons and interview. With lips still twitching with resentment, he now said curtly: "I admit I am acquainted with Belle West. What of it?" "How long have you known her, Mr. Radcliff?" "For about two months." "What have been your relations with her?" "Only those of a friend!" cried Radcliff, sharply. "Look here, oMara, why do you meddle with this? concern is it of yours, that I am acquainted with her? Has there been any complaint made to you?" "Not exactly a complaint." / "What, then? Surely my wife has not heard of my--" "Your what?" demanded Chief O'Mara, when the speaker abruptly curtailed his remark. Radcliff forced a laugh to lips, and shook his head. "I suppose I can speak plainly to you, O'Mara, without its going farther!" he now cried, impulsively. "I'll admit I have been engaged in a harmless flirtation with Miss West; but nothing more than that, I assure you." "Who is the girl?" "She is one of two pretty sisters who live alone on Morningside avenue:" "What about their character?" "Good enough, as far as I know." "Yet not too good, evidently!" "As you now might infer. Both of them are tolerably unconventional, and I ran across the younger one some time ago, and since I have enjoyed an innocent sort of re lationship with her. Merely a dinner now and then, a drive into the country, a few presents, or the like of that." "Has she been aware that you are a mar ried man?" "Indeed, yes!" "Don't you know, Radcliff, that you have been taking long chances of your reputa tion?" "Humph! It was very easy to buy the girl's silence, O'Mara," returned Radcliff, curtly. "She was willing enough to accept my gifts, and my money, even. I have kept her quiet enough, and, what puzzles me is how the thing has leaked out. If my wife--" "Your wife knows nothing about it." "Why, then, do you meddle with it?" de-' manded Radcliff, sharply. "Because, Mr. Radcliff," Chief O'Mara now sternly rejoined; "there has been evi-

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1 10 SHIELD WEEKLY. dence produced here this morning, which se riously indicates that Belle West was mur dered last evening and her body cast into the waters of the Allegheny. That is why I meddle. And that is why I wish to know whether she was your companion last even ing." For an instant Dana Radcliff sat like a man who scarce comprehen2!d what had been said. Then he half rose from his chair, only to drop back again as if every muscle had suddenly relaxed and let him down. White as the linen at his throat, and with a voice that scarce was audible, he gasped sharply: "Murdered! Belle West murdered! Oh, my God! it is not possible!" "It is more! It is probable!" "Then J--" ''Stop!" interrupted Chief 0'1lara, quickly raising his hand with a forbidding gesture. "You now may be careful what you say, Mr. Radcliff. I give you warning that your words may hereafter be used against you." "What! Am I under arrest?" ''You are under arrest, sir." ':\Tot charged with-vvith this crime!" gasped Radcliff, with eyes starting from his head. ":fo charge has yet been made, but you ill be detained in custody. After your denial of--" "Wait, wait!" cried Radcliff, violently. "lse my statements as you will. I recall those denials, O'Mara. I admit I was with Belle \Vest last evening, that I took her to ride and dined with her at Dixon's roadhouse. I now admit all that; but I deny anY knowledge of such a tragedy as you disclose." \ ''Why did you lie at all about th i s?" demanded Chief O'Mara, sternly. "Because I knew of nothing so serious itlvolved," Radcliff forcibly answered. "I aimed only to conceal a foolish flirtation the doubtful escapade of a married man. My God, sir! do you imagine I would have come here like this, and lied about facts which any blockhead might easily establish, had I known what you since have disclosed? I tell you I know.nothing about Belle West's death. if she indeed is dead. If it is a fact, my exposure is inevitable, and my reputation ruined at home and abroad. Great Scott! O'Mara it cannot be possible!" "The evidence --" "\Vhat evidence?" interrupted Radcliff, with an agitation utrerly beyond his control. "Tell me on what such a frightful su& picion rests. Ask me any question you will, and I will answer it truthfully, and to the best of my knowledge. Merciful Heavens, O'Mara, this is terrible!" Again the chief raised p.is hand and checked him. "CO'Tllpose yourself, Mr. Radcliff," he commanded. "Answer my questions." "Ask any questions you wish, sir. I would make any sacrifice of money, if the truth can be learned and the disgrace threatening me averted." "When a hiyrmn life has been taken, a sacrifice of money doesn't avail," replied Chief O'Mara, sternly repelling the suggestion more manifest in Radcliff's burning eyes, than in the words he impulsively had spoken. "At what time," he then demanded; "did you leave Dixon's roadhouse?" "Between ten and eleven o'clock, sir." "\Vas Belle West then with you?" "Yes, sir, she was." "\Vhere did you last see her?' "On the road a mile this side of Dixon's," said Radcliff. now tremulous with agitation. "Do you mean that she left your ca r ?" J

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SHIELD WEEKLY. 11 "That is just what I mean. Chief O'Mara." "What occasioned that?" "We had an altercation over some trifling thing, and she became angry and refused to ride further with me. Before I could prevent her, she sprang out of the buggy and refused to enter it." / "Do you mean to tell me, Mr. Radcliff, that a girl of twenty left you in that deserted locality, with a long walk home staring her in the face, to say nothing of the possibility of affronts on the way, and all because of some trifling altercation?" The sternness with which Chief O'Mara asked the question at once revealed that he had not credited the explanation which had been made. Radcliff's white cheeks colored deeply, "Yes, sir." "What did you then do, Mr. Radcliff?" ''My impulse was to leave the carriage and follow her, in the hope of prevailing upon her to comply with my wish. I was greatly averse to leaving a girl in such a deserted place at th!t hour of the night." "Did you act upon that impulse?" "No, sir. After Mief consideration I turned about, instead of leaving the carriage, and drove back in search of her. My search proved vain. I don't know where she went. I drove nearly back to the roadhouse, but I could not find her." "How far from the river is the spot where she left you?" "Not more than two hundred sir." "Have you any further statements to then grew paler than ever. ma'ke, Mr. Radcliff?" "I have told you the truth, Chief "There is no further statement that I can O'Mara !'' he cried, desperately. "I confess that the statement seems incredible, but I swear it is the truth." "Did you hold any discussion with Belle vV est after she left your carri;:ge ?'' "Only for a moment, sir. I begged her to get in with me again, and to allow me to take her at least as far as the bridge. "And she refused?" "Positively." "Were there any dwellings near?" "Not any for a quarter-mile." "Were there any witnesses to this scene?" "None of whom I know. \,Yould to God there \vere !" "V\That happened next?" demanded 01ief O'Mara, with no favorable change in his stern countenance. "Did you leave --Miss West standing in the road?" "I did not leave her. sir!'' cried Radcliff. 'She left me, instead, and suddenly starterj. back in the direction from which we had come." "Toward the roadhouse?" make!" cried Radcliff, in despair. "I could not find the girl. I spent half an hour in the effort. At the end of that time, I turned about again and drove home." "Did you at any time hear an outcry of any kind?" "I d' rl t." "Diel you see any person, man or woman, in that locality?" "No, sir, I did not." "Yet there were two persons about there who heard screams, Mr. Raddiff, and who saw your team," said Chief O'Mara, with grave austerity, "and, in light of evidence produced this morning, I have no alternative but to hold you under arrest." Radcliff sprang to his feet with a cry. ''I'll not suffer it!" he exclaimed, excitedly. "My God, sir! this is outrageous. I am innocent of any wrong done this girl. I will not suffer arrest. I--" ''Mr. Radcliff!" ''I will not submit to it, sir! You have no warrant for--"

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12 SHIELD WEEKLY. But Chief O'Mara had touched a bell upon his desk. The door at the end of the office flew open and two policemen stood on the threshold "Possibly no warrant, Mr. Radcliff," said the chief. "But that will be forthcoming, sir, and, mean.time, you will consider yourself in custody." CHAPTER IV. STEVE GETS AN ASSIGNMENT. Contrary to general expectation, and de spite the efforts made to recover it, the dark waters of the Allegheny did not give up the dead body of murdered Belle West. In the opinion of the police and that of a startled and censorious public, however, this scarce was needed to complete the fatal network of circumstantial evidence that had involved Dana Radcliff and cast him into a prison <::ell. For nearly a week the press throughout the country pictured under glaring headlines and with vivid illustrations the knavery of the Pittsburg society man who cruelly had made way with the beautiful orphan girl whom he had wronged; and not for a month did the local papers cease upbraiding the dual life which had been led by wealthy and respected Dana Radcliff, nor from urging that justice should speedily make an example of him. From comparative obscurity, the name of the West girls sprang into notoiriety in a night. There were some who spoke ill of them, 'but with vague hints only, and these voices were drowned by those which ex tolled their virtues Two weeks after the crime however, Josie West again startled the local community by being quietly married to Mr. Sidney Barrows in the chapel of the Methodist Episcopal church. And the sewing-rr.achine agent forthwith relinquished his lodgings in Dearborn street and took up his abode in the home of his young and beautiful wife. To a reporter, who called to learn if any special occasion existed for so early a marriage after her sister s death Josie politely informed that she was utterly alone in her home, that she nio longer could impose upon the kindness of neighbors to relieve her soli tude and sadness, and that the marriage had been hastened only to obviate these condi tions. And everybody expressed sympathy for her, and said that the marriage was quite right. And absolutely nobody dreamed for a mo ment that it was all wrong! Meantime, Dana Radcliff grew gray in a prison cell, and the network of evidence against him became stronger as the day of his trial approached. The circumstances al ready presented were augmented by further incriminating details, and the discovery that the footprints made upon the river bank on the night of the crime corresponded pre cisely to the boots worn by Radcliff that night. Despite his protestations of inno cence, for he cleaved stoutly to the story told Chief O'Mara, the general opinion was strong against him, and that his ultimate conviction was inevitable. "My own lawyer states that l have only a bare fighting chance of acquittal,'' he sadly observed to Chief O'Mara, who was calling on him one morning just a week before the day fixed for his trial. "But, O'Mara," he hastened to add, with intense feeling, "though I were to swing for this, J shall protest with my last breath my absolute innocence of Delle West' s death, and my compl e te ignorance concerning it. You may take that for the solemn statement of a dying man, Chief O'Mara, and a man whose soul will say the sa me thing in the presence of Goel Almighty!" Chief O 'Mara did not reply to this, yet the fe Fvor of the man had more than once impressed him. "Who is the party, Radcliff," he asked, in stead, "who lately intimated to you that you might possibly escape conviction by availing yourself of a flaw which he suspected to exist in the government's case?" "His name is Michael Kirk." "Is he a lawyer?" "It was so staited on the card he sent up to me." "What did you tell him?" "I told him," said Radcliff, with some of his former dignity briefly lifting him above

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. SHIELD WEEKLY. 13 his fearful humiliation, "that I did not care to escape the law. nor to accept liberty in that way, even if the way existed No, O'Maira, I will return to the world legally acquitted of this crime, or I shall bless that se clusion from the world which the walls of a prison afford me. I dismissed the man al most immediately." "Did he offer any other reason for calling?" "Other reason?" "I mean, Radcliff. did he make any suggestion indicatingthat he wished to bargain with you for his information?" "He remarked, I remember, that he thought he could pull me out of the. scrape, providing I would make it an object." "And you then asked him in what way?" "Quite naturally. I did." "And he stated that he thought he had dis covered some flaw in the government's ca'se, did he?" "Precisely." "Whereupon you dismissed him with the reP.ly stated?" "I did so. at once, O'Mara." "Did he show any disappointment at your cold reception of his offer?" "Not that I observed." "Have you still got his card?" "I have it here." "Allow me to look at it!" exclaimed the chief, quite brusquely. It was a modest bit of pasteboard, that which Dana Radcliff drew from his pocket and with tremulous hand ten
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14 SHIELD WEEKLY. "there is but little time left before his trial in which to get at the truth." "Here's where Lightning vVilly gets in his fine work!" murmured Steve to himself. 'N o w note my instructions," said Chief O'Mara, earnestly. "A man lately has called upon Radcliff in prison, and has intimated that he can pull him trnt of his scrape, and would do it for a money consideraition." "Well, say, what is he-a magician?" asked Steve, with a grin. "No," laughed the chief; "he hinted at some flaw in the government's case. I happen to know that this is strong enough to stand alone, however, and hence I am led to suspect that this lawyer, whose name is Michael Kirk, may have some other iron in the fire than that of a flaw in the government's case." 'Sure! It's up to him to make his little speech, and tell us where he comes in on the crime," cried Steve, excitedly. "Or the plot," said Chief O'Mara, point edly. "So bear in mind that, if there is such a plot, there probably has been no murder committed. For Kirk would not so seri ously have incriminated himself for the purpose of attempting any doubtful scheme." "Not on your life, Chief O'Mara. So Belle West may be alive?" 'I don't mean precisely that, Steve. She may have committed suicide?" ''But--" "Wait one moment!" If Radcliff is the vic tim of a conspiracy, which still is only a bare possibility, this iman Kirk, who now comes forward \Vith an offer to save him, may know more of what occurred on the river bank that night than we do. If he has any way of saving Radcliff other than that suggested by him, I wish to what it is." "What's the game, chief?" "I want you to look up this man; here is his card, and see what YOU can learn about him." ''Yes, sir." "Watch his movements closely for the next few days, and see that nothing escapes your notice. Observe what happens, where he goes, and with whom he has relations. And take heed that YOU accomplish this without giving him suspicion." ''That's me, Chief O'Mara." "Do it, then, and report to me." "When shall I report. chief?" The latter made a characteristic answer. "When you have anything worth reporting." "All right! Here goes! exclaimed Steve, with youthful assurance. "If Mr. Michael Kirk really knows anything about this crime, sir, I'll geit: next to it, and that's no joke." "Take heed, however, that you get into no such perilous scrape as you did with Bill Rohan," said Chief O'Mara, bluntly. may not be on hand a second time-" Steve lall'ghed, and turned to go. Could he have foreseen the events of the next few days, however, he would not have had a laugh in order. CHAPTER V. A NIGHT MEETING. Steve had no difficulty in locating Michael Kirk, and he found upon iHquiry that this la\\'yer had appeared in Pittsburg only a few months before, and established himself in a commodious office in the Rexford building. He found Kirk to be a man apparently in the forties, tall and angular in figure, and with a dark, cadaverous face. The latter was lighted by a pair of crafty black eyes, so sunken under their bushy brows that they looked like two bright little balls surrounded by darkness. As may be imagined, he was not a prepossessing man. He appeared to be a man of means, how ever, a well-appointed office; and Steve found upon investigation that, by availing himself of the window of a corridor in a rear buiiding, he could look across a rear court and through the window of Kirk's office. For two days the young detective kept this man under constant surveillance, but his vigilance resulted in no discovery of importance. Kirk came and went occasionally, but he held no intercourse with parties, either in his office or outside, and, to all intents and purposes, he appeared like a law ver without clients. On the morning of the third day, however, Steve discovered him upon the street, evif

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SHIELD WEEKLY. lt> dently bent upon some important mission. It took him to the prison, to which he easily obtained admission, and for nearly half an hour Steve waited for him to emerge, satis fied that he again had called upon Dana Radcliff. The expression on Kirk's face when he again appeared on the street was that of a man bitterly disappointed, and in corresponding ill-humor. \Valking with the nervous haste of one mentally exdtecl, he returned to his office. Steve hastened around to the rear build ing, and soon gained his point of observation. He discovered Kirk seated at his desk. with his coat and hat thrown off, and his attention engaged by a letter he was hurriedly writing. At the encl of a few minutes the man sealed and addressed his communication, then abruptly sprang up and went to an electric appliance on the wall near the office door. "That's for a messenger boy!" said Steve, instantly. "\Veil, say, what will I be doing while that messenger boy goes along with that love letter in his hand!" and Steve edged off, resolved in his mind to get hold of the letter, if it took a leg. By a lively sprint downstairs and around corners, Steve reached the entrance of the Rexford building at the end of half a minute, and by chance he encountered a policeman on the sidewalk near by. "Say, officer, look here a minute!" he cried, catching the patrolman by the arm. "What's up?" demanded the policeman, regarding him with surprise. "N othing's up yet, but keep your eyes peeled!" exclaimed Steve. "Come in here a minute, will you?" "Who are you?" "I'm Steve Manley, see, and I am working up a case for Chief O'Mara." Steve hurriedly explained, and, quickly drawing back his coat, he displayed his badge. "You are not the kid who ran Bill Rohan down, are you?" demanded the officer. "That's what, and this is another hot case. Come off the street, will you?" This put a new complexion on the re and now the officer readily accompa-nied Steve into the corridor of the Rexford building. "What are you on now?" he demanded. "Mum's the v\'Orcl, officer; the boss might kick," Steve hurriedly rejoined. "A messenger boy will come along in a minute. Somebody called for him. A party upstairs has a letter to be d e livered, and I'm on to the job, understand?" "Ah, I see!" ''I've got to get the messenger boy's uni form, see, whether it fits or not," said Steve. "You know boys, and like as not he'il try to get gay with me. I could get it all right if I put up a fight with him for it, but that wouldn't go, do you see? I want you to come in on the deal and make him exchange suits with me." "Go ahead-I'll lend a hand,"' replied the officer, bluntly. "\Vhere can you change clothes?" "Right here in the corridor," laughed Steve. "'You are big enough and broad enough to block the way, ain't you?" "I guess that's right. And I'll close the street door against intruders." "\Vait until the messenger shows up." ''Here he is now!" By good luck the messenger boy was about Steve s size, and after a brief explanation he conse111ted to comply with the re quest, and to wait in an adjoining hotel until Steve returned from his mission. Less than five minutes after Michael Kirk rang the call, Steve Manley attired i11 the messenger's uniform, appeared at the door of the lawyer's office. 'Come in here, boy!" cried Kirk, with a sharp, rasping voice. "Do you know where Morningside avenue is?" "Sure, sir, since it's my biz to knmy!'' cried Steve, promptly. "I want you to take a letter out there." Right, sir." "\Vait for an answer and bring it directly back here, mind you." ''Sure thing, sir," cried Steve. "Here's the Jetter. Can you read the name?" "Sure! i\Ir. Sidney Barrows." "Look sharp, then, for I shall wait here till you return."

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16 SHIELD WEE.KL Y. "I'll do my prettiest, boss." "Wait one moment!" Kirk sharply cried, as Steve turned to go. "If Mr. Barrows is not at home, ask his wife where he is." "Yes, sir." "And tell her to give him the letter the moment he returns, and say to him t11at I shall expecit him to follow its directions. Can you remember that?" "What kind of a kid do you think I am?" returned Steve, curtly. 'Of course I can re member it!" "Be off, then!" But Steve did not immediately visit Morningside avenue. He was taking no chances of being recognized by the man and girl who possibly had noticed him in the chief's office on the morning following the crime. Taking a cab, he first hastened home, and made a change sufficient to preclude recognition; and he startled the Jehu by appearing at the end of five minutes with his hair turned to a crushed strawberry hue, and with no end of freckles adorning his roseate countenance. "Begob, but you're not the same kid as went in, be ye?" he cried, when Steve dashed out and down the steps. "Go to the head, cab by!" cried Steve, laughing. "Say, ta:ke me to Morningside avenue on the run, see, and drop me around the corner nearest the West's." "Faith, an' I'll do that, me bye!" Ten minutes later Steve rang the bell at the West dwelling, and waited an answer. The house was quite a pretentious wooden residence, with a broad piazza front and side, and a deep yard, with flower-beds and sev eral fruit trees. The adjoining dwellings were somewhat removed by the surrounding grounds, and the indications were that West had been a man of at least comfortable means. Steve waited some time before his rinig was answered; and once he thought he detected a movement of the lace draperies at one of the parlor windows, as if some person was peering out to survey the waiting caller before responding. Then the door was opened by the pale faced sewing-machine agerit, whom Steve had seen in the chief's office with Josie West. ''Mr. Barrows, sir?" cried Steve, 111qu1ringly. "Yes." Before Barrows had finished reading the missive, the voice of Josie West, or Josie Barrows, as she now must be called, was heard from within the hall. "What is it, Sidney?" "Ah, there! They don't seem dead eias y over this," thought Steve, watching the doubtful expression on Barrows' delicate face. The latter turned and partly closed the door before replying, yet Steve heard him rejoin: "A note from Mr. Kirk, Josie." "What does he want?" "He wishes me to meet him to-night atwait a bit, de iar I will show it to you later." Then Barrows again opened the door and said to Steve: "Are you to return to the party who sent this?" ''Yes, sir, right away." "Tell him I will be there, as requested. There is no need of writing it." "Not a bit, sir! I'll tell him you will bewhere, sir?" inquired Steve, innocently. "He'll know where!" exclaimed Barrows, with a quick frown showing about his luminous dark eyes, as if he resented any in quisitive sentiment on the part of the mes senger. "Just say to him that I will be there." "Right, sir!" cried Steve, touching his cap and turning clown the steps. "And I'll be there, too!" Steve said to himself, as he hastened back to the cab awaiting him around a near corner. "It's long odds that Chief O'Mara has hit the nail on the head!" he further reasoned during his return ride. "Or why the deuce are these people and this lawyer, who claims he can pull Radcliff out of his trouble. so close with each other? On the face of it, Josie West don't want Radcliff pulled out of this scrape; and if Kirk really comes this game, it is odds of a hundred to one that there'stsome secret scheme between them. "And it's equal odds that I ferret out the

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SHIELD WEEKLY. 17 scheme!" Steve concluded, with a determination quite equal to the occasion. He was not obliged to return to his lodgings for the purpose of removing his disguise; he a.ccomplished that in the cab. And at the end of rather more than the half-hour stated he again appeared at the office of Michael Kirk, and delivered Barrows' mes sage. "You've been gone long enough," snarled the lawyer, when paying him the customary fee. "I ought to owe you this for a time, on the same principle. "Is that so?" retorted Steve, indifferently. "It's easy to get even." "What do you mean by that?" "Try it and see!"' Kirk -glared sharply at him from out his sunken eyes for a moment, then dropped the coins into Steve's extended hand. "Don't try being fresh ster !" he said, warningly. will get the worst of it." with me, young "If you do, you "I'd take my chances," returned Steve, as he shot out through the door. A run to the hotel, and another quick change with the genuine messenger, were speedily accomplished; and Steve then set tled down to watch Kirk until he made his next move. It was very evident that the lawyer had arranged a meeting with Barrows that evening, and Steve had no idea of losi ng sight of him before that meeting occurred. He felt that he could not take time even to return and report to Chief O'Mara. At five o'clock Kirk left his office and went to his hotel to dinner, which gave Steve also a chance to dine. It came dark about eight in the evening; but not until a half-hour later did Kirk set forth from the hotel, evidently upon the mission for which Steve vigilantly had watched and waited. Just as the city clocks were striking nine the lawyer arrived at a small, isolated boathouse on the bank of the Allegheny, some distance above the Forty-third street bridge, and on the bank opposite that on which the crime had been committed. Steve was not far behind him, yet was compelled to be exceedingly careful in order to escape observation. ''Here's a go!" he thought, on observing the scene; "hang it if I don't think this fel low does know most about the little game on that further bank that night, just as the boss suspects! It would have been dead easy to have slipped over there in a boat. Like as not he put Belle West out of the way him self." "Hello! there's Barrows!" The latter exclamation was caused by seeing the sewing-machine agent's slight figure appear on the river bank fifty feet away. Both men were only dimly discernible standing there, with their figures outlined agai111St the darker backgiound; yet Steve could see plainly enough that they were shaking hands. "Friends!" he muttered. "Hang it! I wish I could get near enough to overhear them." To attempt this, however, was to take too long a chance of disobeying Chief O'Mara's instructions. It would have been impossible to have approached nearer without being dis covered For a quarter-hour the two men stood nearly motionless, engaged in subdued and earnest conversation. Then Steve was struck by an idea. "Barrows will surely tell his wife all about this meeting just as soon as he returns home," he said to himself. "If I can get into their house on the quiet before he gets h ome I may learn the whole business. It's worth a try, all right, all right, and I'll make it !" He did not wait to see if the men parted. Leaving them still standing on the river bank, he started off post haste in the direc tion of the \Yest dwelling. CHAPTER VI. CALLED DOWN. Scarce a sound broke the night silence of :Morningside avenue when Steve Manley arrived near the West residence. The neighboring dwellings were in darkness and their inmates in bed; the long ave nue was well-nigh deserted; and a stillness

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, 18 SHIELD WEEKLY. like that of the great cemetery in the near distance surrounded these abodes of the living. Even the West dwelling itself appeared as silent as a tomb. Yet a dim light burned in one o"f the lower side rooms, evidently a library, and was faintly refl e cted into the deep hall. Resuming his exceeding caution as he ap proached the house Steve briefly waited and watched outside the yard, intent upon learning just where Josie might be at that moment. The dimness of the light in the library in dicated that she might be absent from the house, or possibly had retired for the night, leaving the lamp for her husband on. his return. \ "I must get in there before he shows up," thought Steve. "And that may be any minute. Seeing nothing to alarm him, he vaulted the front fence and entered the yard. His feet fell noiselessly on the greensward, and the gloom under the trees was sufficient to hide him from view. As he neared the rear of the yard he made a discovery. The lower half of the rear library window had been left wide open to admit the air of the soft May night. "Here's luck! That's as good as a door,'' thought Steve. ''But it looks as if the woman \\'as in the house." He stole nearer and looked into the dimlylighted room. It was vacant. Not a !!_Ound broke the silence within. "She's abed for sure decided Steve. ''I'll take the chance. The boss won't blame me for this. It's too good a chance to learn the whole game." He sat down in the grass near by and quickly removed his shoes, hanging them about his neck by the lacings. Then he was ready to enter the house. Josie Barrows was not in bed, however. True, she had lowered the light and opened the rear window; but only to with-:: draw from the room in which she had been reading, to sit in the darkness at one of the front windows, and there watch for Barrows' return. Her vigil was re\\'arded, but not b .. the person she expected. It was one of Steve's strokes of :ll-luck that she saw him approach, saw him. cau tiously scrutinize the house, and finaJJy scale the fence and disappear into the yard. The effect upon the girl \Vas electrical. She started suddenly up, darted into the library, and secured a revolver from one of the table cl ra wers. A moment more and she was back of the parlor portieres, standing there in the semiclarkness like a statue of marble, with her face as \\'bite as the chaste stone, but with her burning eyes aglow, her every nerve tense as steel, and her gaze bent upon the open window of the library. Thus she stood and waited, scarce breathing, with her tall figure drawn erect, and with the glittering poised in her steady \\hite hand. Only a "oman of superior courage, or a \\'Oman inspired by the realization of some desperate emergency; could so have met such a situation. A minute passed. Then Steve appeared at the open window and came silently over the sill. ''Ifs that young detective!" was the thought in Josie Barrows, mind the instant she beheld his face. Life and death were never nearer one another than at that moment: for the girl's finger was fairly pressing the trigger of the weapon, and she knew that the law, the courts, and the world would hold her blame less for a life taken thus. Yet the finger weakened under the horror of the mind that governed it; and-then it was too late. Steve had alighted like a cat upon the library floor, and slipped noiselessly into the hall. :'.\foving with equal silence, Josie Barrows stepped beyond the portiere and hid in the library. Steve glanced into the parlor by the hall door, and observed that it was vacant. "She's upstairs," he decided. ''If she's abed. even I be near enough to overhear when her husband returns."

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SHIELD WEEKLY. 19 Then he started up the hall stairs. Josie Barrows prepared to follow him. It was a game of hide and seek-but thus far the girl had the best of it. Steve mounted to the hall above, and there discovered the faint gleam of a dim light in one of the side chambers. He stole softly to the open door and look ed in. "A sleeping room! This is their roomBarrows' and his wife's. But where's the girl, I'd like to know?" With these thoughts passing through his mind he stepped over the threshold and glanced curiously at the littered chiffoniere and at the snowy coverlid of the empty bed. Then, as his eyes were lifted again, he suddenly beheld in the mirror nearly opposite him the reflection of a figure that momentarily chilled his every drop of blood. It was the motionless figure of Josie Barrows, standiPg on the threshold of the door, with her revolver aimed point blank at his back. Thot(gh it took about all his nerve to prevent it, Steve Manley checked a self-be trayal. Fairly under the muzzle of the girl's weapon which at any moment might belch forth his death, Stev e without turning let his hand fall toward his hip pocket. Then Josie Barrows' voice, as sharp and sibilant as the hiss of a snake, suddenly broke the silence. "Stop!" she cried. "If you attempt to draw a weapon, I'll fire! You're watching me in the mirror, and you know that I can execute my threat. Turn around and h o ld up your hands!" It was a P"reat relief to Steve to know that she did not contemplate shooting at once. He turned about as commanded, and lifting his hands as high as his breast, he said. coolly: "Ah, there you are. lVIrs. Barrows! I wondered where you were." -. "Well, you 've found out!" "That's right," laughed Steve. "You've called me down in the proper style." Yet he was watching sharply for a chance to tum the tables on her: but the look on the girl's white face warned him against in discretion, and not for an instant did the aim of her ,,eapon deviate from the very centre of his breast. \i\ hy are you here?" she demanded, with suppressed intensity "That's what I'd like to have you tell me." rejoined Steve, dryly. "Say, look o ut that you don't press too hard on that trigger, please or you may hurt me." 'If I kill you, the law will acquit me." "That's too true for a joke," said Ste,e, curtly. "And I'll do it, if I'm forced to it." "You look it, and that's no merry bar "' room jest. ''Tell me why you are here." ''I saw the window open, so I thought I'd drop in and see what I could find worth taking." "That's a lie!" ''Is it?" ''You're not a thief, but a detective." "Is that so? Who do you think I am?" "You are one of those I saw at the police headquarters on the morning after my sis ter's murder." "You're a wise one, aren't you?" laughed Steve. "Tell m e the truth!" again commanded th e girl, with bitter vehemence. ''\i\Thy have yoi1 entered this house?" Steve now began to see what she was after. If there was, ind eed, a conspiracy, of whi ch he now had no doubt, she was aiming to ;learn just what design had brought him there, and in how far the truth \\"aS known o r suspected by the clctecti
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20 SHIELD WEEKLY. For an i11stant, even in the dim light of the chamber, a gleam of satisfaction and triumph was discernible in Josie Barrows' bril liant eyes. She evidently felt that there had been nothing definite discovered by the de tective, and this assumption was made the more plau s ible by Steve's presence there under such circumstances. "My husband has no busin e ss with s uch a man," she now cried, sharply "Is that why he met him on the river bank to-night?" demanded Steve, with a laugh. "You know of that!" "Get wise, get wise. I was there and saw them." "And you came here in order to learn what my husband might disclo s e o n his return !" cried Josie, now guessing the truth. "That' s just the size of it, nodded Steve. As he did so, he caught si ght of th e chan delier. It was directly above his h e ad. If he could extinguish the gas, they w o uld be on an equal footing in the darkness. But he did not hurry. "Well, you'll not make the disc o very you hoped," the girl quickly replied, not observ ing his upward glance. .That's where you're off your tro lley "You'll find I'm not. I have you at my mercy." "Well, I'm not finding any fault with that," laughed Steve constantly watching her. "I don't want to go before your husband comes home. We can have a pleasant little chat, then, the three of us "You may not find it so pleasant," sneered the girl, with a threatening flash of her resentful eyes. "You're a mind reader aren't you?' ; re plied Steve, lightly. "And you certainly will discover nothing to account for your outrageous entrance into my house," she returned, without noticing his remark; "and if there's any law-stop! don't dare lower your hands !" "What will you do?" "I'll shoot, as surely as God hears me!" was the reply, in tones tremulous with bitter resolution. "There must be a pretty good reason for such a bloodthirsty resolve," observed Steve, with dry significance. The girl further resented the insinuation. "If there is !" she cried sharply, "you'll not live to discover it nor to disclose what has passed between us. "You're wrong again, my dear!" laughed Steve. "You'll find I'm not, and that I mean what I say; if you move your hands toward your pockets, she retorted, quickly. "My hands?" echoed Steve "Rats! I just as lief oblige a lady, even at a revolver's muzzle. I'll hold my hands as high as the ceiling, Mrs. Barrows, if you say the word." But he clicl not wait for her to say it. The fall of heavy steps, plainly sounding from the wood e n veranda below, came to both of their ears, and told them that Barrows was at that moment returning. With the last words still on his lips, Steve raised both hands above his head, and al most instantly turned off the gas. Then he dropped like a flash lest Josie Barrows should fire. But what occurred was the very opposite of what Steve had expected. With a low cry, with a movem ent swift and violent as that of an angry leopard, she sprang at Steve through the darkness, as if resolved that he by no means should effect an escape in which her own safety might be seriously involved. They met at the very moment Steve rose to his feet. The collision was so sudden and violent that both lost their balance, and both pitched sidewise to the bed, near which Steve had been standing. The violence of their fall caused something to break with a sharp snap. Then the bed itself, with both in it, rose into the air; and Steve Manley instantly realized their startling peril. For it was one of those death-traps of man's ingenuity-a folding -bed! CHAPTER VII. IN CLOSE QUARTERS. The situation was desperate The instant the bed began to close, Steve made a violent wriggle to escape The attempt proved vain. J os i e Barr ows

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SHIELD WEEKLY. 21 was in his way, also struggling wildly to ex tricate herself The result was that neither succeeded in escaping from the closing jaws of the do mestic monster. Within that moment, for the entire episode had required but a moment, b n th w e r e s e riously penned in the nearly closed bed with their feet luckily toward the floor and their arms still entwined in the struggle which had instantly followed the unexpected calamity. They could breathe; but to move was next to impossible ; and to force open the bed and extricate themselves was utterly beyond their power. Yet Steve quickly managed to twine one arm over the shoulder of the girl now so hopelessly crushed in his embrace, and she felt his hand steal suddenly around her neck. "Not a sound!" he commanded softly, yet with a severity not wisely to have been ig nored. "Don't you cry or speak a loud word, or you'll be sorry for it By your own threat you've put your life in danger, and I mean what I say! If you betray me, I'll strangle you h e fore they can release us !" Josie Barrows was trembling violently, but till then only her breath, forced and strained, had issued from her lips. "Let go!" she now gasped wildly "My God! we shall both die here!" "You will unless you do as I say!" Steve whispered sternly now resolved to play the game up to its top limit "If you make a sound to betray us, I'll kill you Silence! the street door is being opened." The sound of a key noisily thrust into a lock had reached the ears of both. Even in the brief time required by Sidney Barrows to f1nd his door key, the scene between Steve .and Josie Barrows had culminated as described. The next moment the street door was thrown open, and heavy footsteps and voices in the lower hall told that Sidney Barrows had not returned home alone. Then the door closed with a bang, and a cry from Barrows sounded through the house. "Josie! Hello, Josie! Where the dickens are you?" The girl felt Steve's hand close harder about her throat, and a single whispered phrase, intense in its threatening austerity, sounded in her ear "Silence, if yo u value your life!" She felt the furious beating of his heart against her own, and the peril of the situa tion was more than she dared disregard. With a low gasp, she said faintly: "Let go! Don't hold me so. I'll be silent. Yet she could not but realize the exposure her silence invited, and that this young de tective now was resolved to hear at least what these two men would say under these circum stances. "It's a case of close quarters here, and another call down at the finish," thought Steve; "but I'll get the truth, if it's to be had, and trust to luck for the rest." Again the voice of Barrows rose up the stairs. "Josie, Josie are you up there? "She more likely has gone out!" exclaimed a voice which Steve recognized to be that of Michael Kirk. "She wouldn't have gone to bed and left that window wide open "But where can she have gone at this hour of the night?" returned Barrows, impa tiently. "Into one of the neighbor's, possibly." "Nonsense, the neighbors are abed. She said she'd wait here until I returned. You don't imagine that any discovery has been made, and that she has been arrested on sus picion do you?" "Absurd cried Kirk, harshly. "You have not the sand of an hour-glass. How can any discovery have been made?" "Don't be ugly to me, Michael Kirk, for I'll not stand it retorted Barrows, sharply. "Your offer made Radcliff may have caused susp1c10n. The police are not fools, and you yourself said Radcliff appeared to have mis givings." "Suppose he did! He cannot prove any thing, nor escape from the fate threatening him I know what I am about." "Perhaps he knows also. If he had no suspicion, it seems to me he would have taken up your offer." "He wiU take it up fast enough, before he will suffer conviction," returned K'irk, in tones of vicious assurance. "We may be

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SHIELD WEEKLY. compelled to shade the figure, but we will yet land him for a good round sum, you take my word for it." "I've been taking your word till I am tired of--" "Oh, look about and see if Josie is here," interrupted Kirk, with angry patience. "\Ve may as well settle for good and all who is to run this game. I am also tired of hearing your cowardly misg1v111gs. When Josie shows up I'll make sure of one thing, that we come to a final understanding." It now was evident to Steve that some dis sension resulted from the meeting on the river bank, and that this was the occasion of Kirk's return with Barrows. Both were in decided ill-humor1 moreover, and Steve was quite aware that his situation was not en couraging. But the discoveries he already had made were worth the venture. "I'll see if she's abed!" Barrows now cried, impatiently. "She may be sound asleep." "Rouse her up, if she is, and bring her down here," was Kirk's surly response, as Barrows started up the stairs. "Now the music begins again," thought Steve, holding fast to the girl in his arms. 'You keep quiet, mind you!" he added, in her ear. "You don't expect--" "Silence!" The next moment Barrows entered the chamber, muttering sullenly under his breath. Then he shouted down the stairs: "She's not up here. She always leaves a light. Besides, the bed isn't down." "Light the gas!" cried Kirk, from the foot of the stairs. "She may have left a note for you." Steve heard him searching for the match h o lder, all the while talking impatiently in his throat, and then a blaze of light suddenly filled the room Josie Barrows continued s ilent, but she was trembling like a leaf; yet Steve already had decided that only a cur and a co\rnrd would have harmed her under such circum stances Then Sidney Barrows caught sight of the revolver Josie had dropped to the floor. "By thunder! What does this mean?" he cried, loudly. "Kirk! Kirk! come up here!" 'What's wrong!" cried the startled lawyer, even \vhile he rushed up the stairs. don't know. Here's our revolver on the floor--" "Good heavens, look at that bed!" interrupted Kirk .. as he entered. "It's not en tirely closed, and the--" '"Look into it, instead!" Steve now cried, boldly "And if you don't mind, kindly throw it down and Jet us get out." "It's that messenger boy!" cl'ied Kirk, when the two men recovered from their surprise. "By heavens! I didn"t like that kid's look and remark when I paid--. Take hold of that side, will you, and help me throw down the infernal thing. Are you turned to stone?" As for Michael Kirk, he certainly seemed turned to a very devil by the discovery of Steve's presence, and the possibilities in volved; and only his harsh command, and the ugly look on his cadaverous face were needed to bring Barrows to himself. Springing to the opposite side of the bed, he was about to help Kirk throw it down, when the latter again cried fiercely: '"\\'ait, you fool! wait! Are vou there, Josie?" ''Oh, talk away, l\Irs. Barrows!" Steve cried cheerfully, \\'hen she continued silent. "I'm not half as dangerous now as yonder ugly devil, I'll bet on that." ''I'll attend to you presently, my boy,"' re torted Kirk, with a vicious accent on every word. "Are you injured, Josie?"' "1\o, I am not hurt; but the breath is al most squeezed out of me." "Let them out," Barrows said, sharply. "You wait until I am ready!'' cried Kirk, with augmented ferocity. 'If you move that bed before I say, I'll throw you from the win do,, Go downstairs and get the clothes line." "'What do you want of the clothesline?"' demanded Barrows. "He's going to hang me!" cried Steve l\Ianley, from the bed "Don't get it." ''I am going to make sure that you don't give me the slip before I"ve had my little say

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SHIELD WEERLY. 23' with you," Kirk quickly answered. "You go get the line, Barrows!"' Even Sidney Barro1ys appeared disturbed by the lawyer's bitter violence, and his ace was as pale as ashes vihen he left the room to obey. It was evident enough that this Michael Kirk was the head and front of any knavery existing there, and that both Barrows and his wife, if not this scoundrel's tools, were at least subservient to Kirk's ugly will. Steve was discerning enough to have ap preciated this, but this alone was not enough; for the heart of the mystery still was veiled in obscurity. "Say, what's the next move, Mr. Kirk?" Steve cheerfully inquired, putting on a bold front. Though he could rtot see the villain, he could hear him moving excitedly about, clos ing and securing the windows and drawing down the curtains. "You'll sooi)n enough," he replied, harshly. ''I warnec you not to cross my path, or you'rl get the worst of it." "Well, you've got the drop on me just now," Steve returned, with a dryness at which even Josie Barrows was inclined to snicker. "And I mean to keep it." "Look out that I don't fool you." "I am not the kind that messenger boys can fool," snarled the lawyer. You'll soon find that out." "Will I? ?\ ot till after you have found out that I'm not a messenger boy," retorted Steve, now working to reach his revolver. "I fooled you in that right enough. You'll stop and think before going too far, when you learn that I am one of O'Mara's detect ives. I'll inform you personally, and save Mrs. Barrows the trouble." "Oh, it would have been no trouble, once safely out of this devilish bed!" cried Josie Barrows, sharply. "Is this true, Josie?" demanded Kirk, \ striding to the bed and peering d0\\1n at them through the aperture over their heads. "Yes, it is! And you want to look out for him, too, for he is wriggling about in here like a snake, and trying to get at his re volver I "He'll get a ball from mine, if he tries that game. ''You d on't look any prettier when you are mad," grinned Steve, l ooking up at his ngly, white face, and observing the vengeful glow of his sunken black eyes. "Why don't you go and hold your wrists under a cold-water faucet? You're overheated." The answer Kirk might have made to this was never uttered, for Barrows returned at that moment with the clothesline. Kirk quickly cut off three yards or more, then whipped his revolver from his pocket "Take that gun, Sidney!" he sharply commanded; "and stand on t)1at side of the bed. If this fellow shows the first sign of fight, shove the muzzle against his head and fire." "He'll have the chance all right!" cried Steve. "Just drop this bed and I'll show you what I'm made of." Though Barrows accepted the weapon, his face was bloodless and his hands shook like an aspen leaf. Michael Kirk, with the look of a fiend on his drawn and haggard features, hastened to close and lock the chamber door, removing the key. Then he sprang to the side of the bed, snarling fiercely: "Are you ready, Barrows?" "Yes." And the ominous click of the weapon followed his word. "Lay hold there, then." "Say when." "Now!" Together they threw open the heavy bed, and Kirk at once sprang at the detective. But Steve was as good as his word. The instant he felt himself free, he made a plunge for the floor and a dive for his weapon. Barrows reached suddenly forward with his arm extended, but before he could fire the weapan in his hand, Josie Barrows had reached up and sent it flying across the room. "You fool!" she cried, in a furious whis per. "Are you mad?" An oath broke from the lips of Kirk when he observed and heard her. He had caught Steve on the floor and then was kneeling above him, struggling furiously

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24 SHIELD WEEKLY. to prevent the lithe young detective from rising, and from drawing his weapon. Then, close upon the angry oath he had uttered, both observers saw Michael Kirk's clenched hand rise and fall, once, twice and thrice, with all the brutal strength of which the cur and coward was capable. Only a single groan followed the brutal blows. Then the muscles combating him relaxed, the form under him turned limp as a rag, and Steve Manley, bleeding, senseless, with eyes rolled back in his skull, lay like a dead man on the chamber floor. CHAPTER VIII. WHEN KNAVES FALL O UT. Ten minutes later thechamber was in darkness, and Sidney Barrows and his wife were seated in the library, with fear pictured in their pale and doubtful faces, and with their ears strained for any that might come from below. Below was the cellar of the house. It was then Ji.ghted by an oil lamp placed on the stairs. Inanimate on the hard cement floor lay Steve Manley, with his arms bound at either side. Above him, grim, angular, with a face like that of a demon who feared his designs to have been perverted, stood Michael Kirk, gazing searchingly about. He was looking for a place in which to conceal the form on the floor, lest other offi should appea.r there in search of him. Suddenly the furnace met his evil eyes. It was not modern portable kind hut was a huge brick affair, built up against the foun c!ation wall of the house, and reaching to the floor above. On one side a square iron door in the brick-work gave admission to the air-cham ber, making the fi'repot accessible in case repairs were needed. The door was about two feet square, and about the same distance ,. above the floor. "Fool me, will you?" muttered Kirk, hastening to open the iron door and look into the tomblike place by the light of a match. "Fool me, eh? You 'll not find it so easy to fool Michael Kirk, once his blood is up. Queer my game, will he? Queer my game before I can pull it off? No, no, I guess not! Not if his life has to be taken, shall he do that! I warned you! I warned you! Now pay the price for meddling with Michael Kirk, you infernal cub!" Maintaining this string of muttered male dictions, and with a quick, nervous energy, \vhich in such time and place and deed gave him the aspect of a madman, he hurriedly raised Steve from the floor, thrust him brutally through the narrow aperture, and dropped him bodily to the floor of the air chamber of the furnace. Then he closed the iron door, and secured it against the possibility of escape in that di rec ti on. "Fool me, will you!" he again muttered, viciously, shaking his fist at his own work. "I'll teach you to meddle with Michael Kirk. I warned you! Now pay the price!" Then he quickly crossed the cellar, taking the light from the stairs, and hastened to re join his two confederates in the library. "What have you done?" Barrows tremulously demanded, the moment Kirk entered. "Shoved him into the furnace air-cham ber, where he may live or die, as he likes!" cried Kirk, with a mingled leer and scowl. But the evil satisfaction pictured in this scoundrel's haggard face had no reflection in the countenance of Josie Barrovvs. Her handsome face was as pale as his, more pale, indeed; but the look in her brilliant eyes. the knitting of her arched brows, and the un-

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SHIELD WEEKLY. 25 usual firmness of her lips, indicated the up, rising of a resentment within. Half an eye might have seen that her will and courage were double those of the pale, delicate hus band from beside whom she suddenly arose. "Look .here, Mr. Kirk!" she cried, with suppressed vehemence; "you've not killed that detective, have you?" She looked and spoke much as when she called down Steve Manley a half-hour be fore, and it was plain that she felt no need of a weapon in calling down the miscreant she now confronted. "It's not likely I've killed him ," returned Kirk, frowning darkly; "but suppose I had?" "We will suppose nothing of the kind!" cried the woman. "Nor shall anything of the kind occur. I'll have you know we are not lending ourselves to murder, nor running our necks into a hangman's noose." "Is that so?" "And, furthermore, we have about made up our minds to wash ou'f hands of this other affair." "That's easier said than clone, since it has gone so far, and your hands already are so badly soiled," retorted Kirk, with malicious significance. Yet the determination she had expressed evidently affected him unpleasantly. "It can be clone easily enough, Michael Kirk, if we so decide." "But you'll not do it." "I'm not so sure of that." "Why this sudden change, may I ask?" snarled Kirk, throwing himself into a chair. "Because the scheme now looks like a probable failure, that's why! And we had much better escape with a whole skin while there is time," said Josie, sharply. "Why do you say that?" cried Kirk, angrily. "You yourself have said that Radcliff re fuses to consider your offer." "He'll reconsider that refusal." "I have my doubts of it." "Well I have not!" Kirk forcibly persisted. "Good Heavens, do you think that man suffer a trial and conviction, rather than make terms with me which would result in his release and exoneration? You're mad!" "I know only what you have this evening told--" "It don't matter what I have told," the lawyer sharply interrupted. "I know what I am about. I yet shall bring Radcliff to terms. Are you fools enough to l et this venture fail at this late hour, after putting months and months into it? Our plans--" "Don't calJ them our plans cried J osie Barrows, with sudden vehemence. "The de sign never was ours. It was yours alone." "You were ready enough to co-operate in it, both of you," retorted Kirk. "But chiefly because you pictured it as being far more feasible than it has proved, and that by it a fortune could easily be se cured." "And so it may be, if you two don't go to pieces at the last moment." "What does Radcliff say about it? de manded Josie. "That's what I came here to tell you. He--" and Kirk glanced contemptuously at the white face of Sidnew Barrows; "he showed the white feather the moment I told him, and insisted that I should come here and consult with you. I'd have taken this chance of being seen here for no other reason." "Never mind all that. What does Rad cliff say?" "He demands to know in precisely what way I propose to save him." "You cannot tell him that !" "I know that without your sa.yi11g s0/1 snarled Kirk. "What can you do about it?"

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26 SHIELD WEEKLY. 'neat about the bush. o f course, until I can bring him to my own terms." ''Dut I und ers t ood that he refuses e\'en to consider the price." ''I admit that \\e ma_,. have to shade the figure." "To \\'hat?" "To one-half o f the original." "That is clecicled ly broad shading," de clared th e g irl \\'ith a curl of h e r thin lips. "Better a half-loaf than none," growled l(irk. ''What have you told him?" "I told him this morning that I certainly could clear him." "\\'hat did he say to that?" "He d e manded to know in \Yhat \\'ay ?" "You did not tell him !" "I told him I could not and \\ ould not in form him in \\ hat way, but that I would guarantee to accomplish it for the price." "Fifty thousand dollars?'' 'Precisely .. ''Did he show any signs of yielding?" "Decidedly so! I now feel certain that, before he will take the chances cf trial and conviction, he will accept my terms. \Vith the money safe in hand. the rest will be easy." "\\'hy easy?" "\Vhat a question!" cried Kir (, \Yi th a snarl of contempt. "If the missing girl is produced, won't that end it?" "So far as Radcliff is concerned-yes!" snapped Josie, with bitter asperity. "But how about us?" "You will not be liable!" cried Kirk. "They cannot prove a conspiracy. They cannot s how that Belle \Vest has not actually been away from here, nor that she lies in stating that she knew absolutely nothing of this report of her murder, and the arrest of Rad cliff." "I am not so sure of it. after what has hap pened here to-night." ." Well, I am sure of it, and I know much more about the possibilities involved than,, you do," Kirk sharply rejoined "Once we get the money, all you two will need to do is to move out of Pittsburg with your share of the fortune, and within a year .the whole thing will have blo\rn over, and we all will be so much the winners. Furthermore, you cannot give up the scheme at this stage; for, if you do that, Radcliff is st\re to go under, unless you expose the whole thing. You ha\'e no resource but to play the game out to a finish." .. I don't feel so easy about it, since I know suspicions are aroused," said Josie, still doubtfully shaking her head. "Suspicion!" exclaimed Kirk, contemptu ously. ''Su sp icion don't convict anybody. I told you in the beginnit'lg that we should ha Ye to face suspicion, both before and after the design had been executed.'' ''All that may be true." ''I know it is true." ''Yet O'Mara may advise Radcliff not to yield to your demand, if the chief suspects there has been some conspiracy in operation." "I don't care what he suspects, providing that he can prove nothing!" cried Kirk, with CJ.n ugly display of impatien e. ''\\'hatever his suspicions are," he contin ued "he cannot stop the working of the law, and Radcliff wil\ surely be brought to trial unless the police can produce sufficient tangible evidence to warrant a stay of proceed mgs. Suspicion won't do that, you can bet on that, and it rests with us to prevent any discovery of the actual case. That's why 11 insist tl1at that cub in the cellar must not es cape us." "I won't see him killed!" Barrows now ,. cried, sharply. "I did not agree to commit any such crime as that, and I will not be a i party to it." "Nor I!" added Josie, firmly. "I would

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SHIELD WEEKLY. not have shot him to-night, even if he had -' walked straight by me (Ind out of the house. But I gave him a strong enough bluff that I would." 27 A grim mingling of disdain and disap / prov al showed in Kirk's sullen features. It was fear lest Michael Kirk had indeed killed Steve Manley, despite his denial, or that the latter might helplessly die there in the house. And Sidney Barrows, unable to endure. the suspense of his uncertainty, had started for the cellar to make sure of what had occurred. "You two make me tired," he growled, impatiently. "You were not cut out to do this job, despite that you consented to it. ''I'll not stand for murder!'' Barrows again declared, with a decisive shake of his head. "There'll be no need of it!" cried Kirk. "All we require to do is to keep the fellow under cover until we can drive Radcliff to the wall. That should be accomplished within a week. His trial will not be post poned, and I know well enough that he will weaken before then. You two must pull yourselves together, an
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SHIELD WEEKLY. "The floor and walls are of stone, and reasoned. "Not fool him, eh! Just watch here's an iron door, he muttered, feeling about with his hands. "But what the deuce is this big round thing?" Then another peculiar feature of the place took his attention From some quarter below him, and apparently coming through the floor itself there was a steady draught of air. Wriggling be low the "round thing, he reached down and found an opening in the floor, about two feet square. It was through this that the draught came; and upon making this discovery, Steve instantly guessed the truth. "I'll take my oath! I am in the air cham ber of the furnace!" he exclaimed under his breath. "It's plain enough now. And this big round thing is the flrepot. Whew! All I've got to say is they took a curious place to hide me in. I hope they won't start a fur nace fire." He was not idle while thus c o mmuning. H e ma
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SHIELD WEEKLY. 29 and almost immediately verified his belief. The blade came in contact with the button; and the latter, old and loose on its screw, easily yielded to his pressure. In another moment Steve had softly raised the trap, which swung down on hinges, and discovered that he now had an easy access to the cellar floor. More delighted than re lieved, despite the desperate chance he had taken. the young detective crawled out through the trap and softly closed it behind him. He barely had gained the cellar, however, before he heard the sound of approaching feet overhead, and saw the gleam of a light at the top of the stairs. Sidney Barrows was at that moment de scending. Steve looked about for a hiding-place, and darted behind a corner of the coalbin. White and trembling, Barrows came with nervous tread clown the stairs and placed the lamp on a box nearby. \i\Tithout so much as a glance around the cellar, he hastened to approach the furnace and remove a length of joist, with which Michael Kirk had secured the iron door 111 one side of the brick structure. Then Barrows lighted a match, and opening the door, thrust his head into the aper ture. Moving as quickly and as silently as a cat, for he still was shoeless, Steve c:rossed the cellar with the !ntention of securing him then and there. For the slight, yielding form he so forcibly had seized was not that of a man-but that of a girl! "Good God!" gasped Steve, still holding her fast. "You're a girl! By thunder, you're Belle West!" There was little need for him to forcibly attempt to stifle any cry that she might have attempted to make; for, with the sound of Steve's words in her ear, and with this reali zation of her inevitable exposure, the girlfor she was indeed Belle West-instantly ceased struggling, and stood like one crushed and humiliated, with her head sunk on her breast. But Steve was not taking chances of any further duplicity. He had felt the outline of the revolver the girl still carried, and sud denly reaching down, he drew it from her pocket. Then he removed his hand from over her mouth, commanding, sternly: "Don't Y?U speak above a whisper!" "You need not fear !" she exclaimed, al most with a sob; and she raised to his a pair of eyes that were burning painfully, and cheeks that were crimson with shame. "What use for me to make an outcry-now!" "Do you admit that you are Belle West?" demanded Steve, sternly. "What good would it o me to deny it, after this?" she asked, with drooping head. "None at all," said Steve, curtly. "Who is upstairs?" "If I refuse--" At the same moment when Barrows, "You will not refuse! Tell me who is up-startled at not finding what he expected, stairs!" quickly withdrew his head and rose erect, Steve caught him from behind and clapped one hand over the young man's mouth. And then Steve Manley was more sur prised than ever before in all his life. The moment his arm closed around Barrows the truth broke like a sudden revela tion upon the young detective's mind. "Michael Kirk and my sister." "Then your fake marriage was only part oi the game?" "I may as well admit that, also." "vVhere are the two?" "In the library." "Hold out your hands!" The girl, humbled beyond description,

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30 SHIELD WEER.LY. c beyed him witl1out lifting her head; and ,-.ithin a minute Steve had her tied hand and foot with the line by which he himself had been secured. Then he left her sitting on the cP.llar stairs, and stole softly up to the hall above. As he drew near the library the voice o f :Vfichael Kirk reached his ears. ''You will do what I command in this af fair Josie!" he was saying, in his harsh and sinister fashion. ''It has gone too far for any o f us to turn back. If you think I now will I give it up because o f that infernal boy, you a cursory explanation of the curious fraud \rhich these culprits had attempted, and which Steve Manley had so cleverly exposed. The design by which they had planned to ;;windle wealthy Dana Radcliff out of a for tune for themselves may be briefly stated. It had originated with Kirk, and by him the two \Vest girls, characters were after \Yard shown to be a little shady, had been led to co-operate in the scheme. For nearly a year Belle west had played a dual character without being suspected, that of Barrows and her own, passing a porare mistaken. He is safe enough where he tion of the time at home, and a part in the is until morning, and then--" "And then, Mr. Michael Kirk, you will oc cupy a cell in the Tombs, and find that I again have fooled you!" interrupted Stev .e. At the same moment he strode straight into the room and to the open window and fired two shots with startling rep o rts upon the still night air, then swung sharply around and aimed the weapon p o int-blank at the non plussed lawyer's head. "A move from either one of you will bring an other shot. and one that may kill!" he cried, in ringing tones. "If you wish to live :\lichael Kirk, y ou will sit where you are, and order J o sie West to do likewise. Kirk' s jaw had fallen like that of a dead man, and Josie West sat half-fainting in her c hair. Before eith e r c o uld recover and attempt anything d es perate even if so inclin e d. the helm e t and face of one of the city police who had heard the reports of the revolver ap p eared at the library window. "Come in here. offic er!" cri e d Ste ve. "I !!ave cornered a triplet of crooks, \vho want to talk to you. Come right through the window, and lend me a hand!'' It is quite ne e dless to add that the officer p romptly responded. And, indeed. but little more is needed than genuine employment of a sewing-machine agent. In the latter character she had vis ited her own home. and even the neighbors did not recognize her, nor suspect that she \Yas not a young man attentive to Josie \)\/'est. :\1eantime, as Belle West, she had craftily 1rnn the attentions of Radcliff, and led him to his own undoing: the three confeder
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SHIELD WEEKLY. 31 Chief O'Mara learn that Dana Radcliff had been released from custody, nor hear what had been accomplished by th e youngest mem ber of his efficient corps of d e tectives He did not say much to Steve Manley at the time; but a day or two later he called him into his office, and received him, with an unsealed envelope held carel e ssly in his hand. "Did you send for me sir?" Steve inquired as he entered. ''Yes, I did," Chief O'l\Iara gravel y nodded "It's about that West girl affair, Steve." "\Vhat's new?" asked Steve, with a look of Chief O'l\Iara passed him the envelope, and regarded him with a rather fond ex pression in his smiling eyes. "It is not a badge this tim e Steve, he said, genially. ''It is something more sub stant i al." "This isn't a gold-brick game. i it?" asked Steve, with a grin. "Not that. Steve It' a v e ry hands o me check-from Mr. Dana Radcliff!" Steve looked at him with a rather curiou s twinkle in his eyes. "If I could on l y have one. C hief O'l\Iara, he said, quickly, "I'd take th e badge!" THE END. Next w e ek's SHIELD WE EKLY (No. 19) will contain "A Skin Game; or. Steve Man ley Among the Tanners." LAT.EST ISSU E S 1 9-A Skin Game ; or, Steve Manie)' Among the T anners. 18-Calle d Down; or, Steve Manley in a Desperate Strait. 17-Found Guilt y ; o r Steve M anie ) Against Court and.Jury. 16--A Paper G old Mine ; or. She'rldan K:eene Afte r Money Order Boo k 2409. 1 5-Behind the Asylum Bars ; or, Turned Down as a Hope less Case. 14-The Mysterious Signal; or, Sheridan Keene o n the W a t e r Front. 13-In Bad H ands; or, Sheridan Keene's Help to Some Country Visitors. 12-Arrest e d a t the Tomb; or, Sheridan Keene on a Curious Case. 11-Unde r the Knife; or, The Cloak of Gu11t. 10-A Frozen Clue; or, The Cold Storage Mystery. 9 A Double Play; or, Two Mysteries in One Net. 8-A Lion Among Wolves ; or, Sheridan Keene's Identity. 7-Unde r Seal; or, 'l' h e Hand of the Guilty. 6--Whp Was the Model? or, Missing: A Beautiful H eires s 5-The Man and the Hour; or, Sheridan Keene's Cl ever Artifice. 4-Cornered by IncNls; or, A Curle>us Robbery In High Life. 3-Ins pector Watts' Great Capture; or, The Case ot Alvord, the Embezzler. 2-Silhouette or Shadow? or, A Question o! Evl dence. !-Sherida n K eene, D e tective ; or, The Chie f Ins pec tor's Best Man. Back numbers always on hand If cnnnot get our publications from your newsdealer, f he cents a copy will bring them to you, by mnil, postpaid. lWO RINGS F!!! dn.y. S e ll th e m for 1 O cents a box. Send us the I 1 20 and we will mall r.ou these two beautiful SOLID GOLD l a id Rings. Will w ear a11Cetime. N o money r equired till ta blets are sold. We t ake bac k a ll n o t s o ld. C OMFORT MEDICINE CO., Provldeac;e, R I When writing to advertisers please mention "Shield Wee Illy. M 0RPH111 E FREE TRIAL TREATMENT remedy eve r d i scove r e d for OPIUltl, MORPHIIWE. LA.UDAIW'UM and ot h e r drug habits. H a rmless; ST. tlAMES SOCIETY, u81 Bro adway, New York Whe n writing to advertisers please mention "Shield "'eekl y .u

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32 SHIELD WEEKLY. 6 PRIZES 'FREE. t Solid Gold !!hell Gem Set ntrthduy Rlnar, war ranted, l Chain Bracelet and Lock, 1 late Lucky t e r SusarSbelland PlcL:le Fork. All (i above Prizes (and our Watch of fer) ma.fled at once entirely Free for selling only 15 Ten (no money.) We mail pP.rfume to be paid for when sold. O MUTUAL 00,.Dent.L.O 88 Nl6HT SCENES OF CITY LIFE. (Son1etbl11g Good.) Sent in plain wrapper, postpaid, on receipt ot 25c. (in postage or coin.) THti ROY AL PUBLISHERS, Dept. n.Q., 90 LaSalle Street, CHICAGO, ILL The Experience of A Pretty Typewriter Girl in Chicago. 80 PACES TYPEWRITTEN {So1netblng Good.) Sent tn plnin wrapper postpaid for 26c. in silver o r stamps. WALKER & WALKER. Dept. M Q, 1105 Star Building, Chicago llL When writing to advertisers please mention "Shield Weekly." 30 !':!!! Watches at Bank-rupl Sale prices. 10: Solid Gold quadruple-plated cases, en :.fll! "fi!ii!fl rate H.allro11.1.l Tlmepleef'11 reiail ai t o 120 ea.ch a.nd are intended for ductors special use. Stem wind t Fine Nickel jeweled movement.a UARANTEED for I 'WJlltend b1 0 YEARS. Without a 'lent \n AdHnce. If roud the bargain you ner eaw pa)' uprHI 80 1end lt bacit anu We Wiii E:nhange or Refund Yoar 8e1197. 8b.tehetber ladlet' or gents tlu, Open face or Bunting HARRINGTON 6' CO., Dept. c.M. 169 WabasbAve.,Cblcal!'I Wbtn writlne to advertisers please mention "Shield We11d7." When wrltlnl: to adverllSera please mention "Shield Weekly," FREE TRIAL CLERGYMEN TESTIFY TO THE MARVELOUS CURATIVE POWERS Of SWANSON'S "5mDROPS." "This time a year ago l was obliged to use crutches on ac count of but now, thank God and the regular constant use of '5-DROPS,' I am active and able t o attend to. all the duties of my sacred calling. Had my trouble not been chronic before I began to use your wonderful remedy I feel perfectly)satlsfied that my cure would have been almost im mediate. "-Rev. Fath61 Mackey, St. James' Church, West Duluth, Minn. "For twenty long years my wife sutrered untold tortures from Sciatic and Neurala;ia, and I thank God for the day that your heaven-sent remedy fell into my hands, for It completely cured her. I am a minister of the gospel, and when I find any who sutrer I cannot help but recommend 'I-DROPS,' for I kno w it will do more than you claim for it."Ilev F. M. Cooper, Washington Center, Mo. The above testimonials are certainly proof that it ls worth while to secure at once a trial bottle of this mar velous remedy. It Is absolutely free. All you bave to do i s to write for It. CURES Lil Orippe, Neural gia, Indigestion, Dyspepsia, Backache, Asthma, Brottchitis, Catarrh, Sleeplessttess, Nervous uess, Nervous attd Neurale:ic Head aches, Heart Weakuess, Toothache, Earache, Croup, .11\alaria, Nervous Prostration, Hay Fever, Creepitta; lMARK J Numbness and all Blood Diseases. .... DE rt does not matter whether you are eutrerlng from Ittflammatory, Nervous, Muscular or Ar tl<:ular whether your whole system is full of uric acid: whether every part of your bodv is aching and every joint is out-of shape, If used as directed In the necesary quantity will positively give In-stant relief and e!Tect a permanent cure. .. BOTTLES A trial bottle will be mailed free of chare:e to every reader of this paper who is a sufferer from anv of the abovetlamed diseases. All that we ask you in return is that you take it as directed, and you will find it all that we claim. It costs you 11othi11_g, and you need feel under no obllgations whatever In securing the trial treatment which we o!Ter. Here Is an opportunity to test a remedy without any expense to you. Certainly nothing can be fairer than this. any address fo1 AGENTS WANTED-Write for Terms and Territory. WANSON RHEUMATIC CURE CO., 829-369 Swanson Block, GHICAGO, ILi. Wben writing to advertisers pl ease mention "Sbield Weekly."

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Nick Carter is the best known Detective in the world. Stories by this noted Sleuth are issued regu larly in -. NICK CARTER WEEKLY and all his work J is written for us. STREET & SMITH, Publishers, NEW YORK / t


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