BLTC Press Titles

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Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner

How many cards?

by Isabel Ostrander



"You're getting to be quite in Wade Terhune's class with your deductions, Mac, but you're right, I think," he observed. "If Creveling sat here, where the food is almost untouched and the bread crumbled, it looks as though he might have known what was coming to him, or feared it, anyway. We'll find out what enemies he had—"

McCarty shook his head.

"I don't think so, sir," he said quietly. "I think it was his visitor who sat in that chair. Mr. Creveling was host and all the servants were gone unless they're lying murdered upstairs, so he must have waited on the table himself, and you see the wine cooler is right close up to the other chair. I found this near it on the floor."

He produced the broken bit of amber and the inspector scrutinized it carefully.

"Part of a cigarette holder, eh? A mighty slender one, too, by the curve of this fragment. It looks as though a lady—"

He paused as McCarty picked up the broken cigarette from the table and silently handed it to him. It was but little thicker than a straw and bore in tiny square gold letters the initials E. C. C.

"They're the same as on the platinum case in the waistcoat pocket of the dead man in the other room there," McCarty remarked at length. "I've my opinion of a fellow that would call a thing like that a smoke, but no matter. Did you take a good look at the supper table, sir?"

"No dope there, beyond what you pointed out." Inspector Druet had turned away. "Let's have a look upstairs before the rest go to it."

But he was too late, for even as he spoke the door of the next room opened and heavy footsteps could be heard crossing the rotunda and mounting the broad stairs. Like conspirators, the inspector and McCarty waited until they died away in the regions above.

"I wonder, now, what they did with the young crook I caught climbing out of the window?" McCarty queried aloud to himself.

"What's that?" Inspector Druet demanded.

Briefly McCarty recounted the events of the night and when he had concluded his companion started for the door leading into the hall once more.

"We'll have a look at the body and then join the rest upstairs. This is a headquarters job all right, Mac, and I'm going to take charge."

"I thought you would, sir." McCarty heaved a sigh of satisfaction not unmixed with envy. "At least you'll not have Terhune with his scientific stunts and mechanical mindreaders butting in on this case."

"How about you yourself?" The inspector halted and bent a quizzical gaze upon his companion. "Going to quit before the end of the first round?"

"Quit?" McCarty flushed. "Well you know, sir, that I'm not in it except maybe to testify against the lad for breaking and entering. I've nothing to do with the murder nor the solving of it."

"But you're itching for a chance, aren't you, you old scout?" The other smiled. "I'll swear you in as a special officer to-morrow, just as I did on the last case you got yourself mixed up in since you left the force. Come on, now."

McCarty's eyes shone and he squared his massive shoulders with proud elation as they entered the room where the master of the house lay. He was officially at work again, and the inhabitants of the instalment-plan suburban colony in which he had invested his savings and from which he drew his modest revenue might run the place to suit themselves until the case was finished. He was back in the old game!

When they opened the door of the study they found that its only occupants were the dead man and the wretched youth who still cringed in his chair, to one arm of which he had now been securely handcuffed. At sight of the inspector's face he uttered a sharp ejaculation and cowered further down.

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