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Midnight Part 40

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"You didn't!" She flung around on Carroll--"Don't believe him. I shot Mr. Warren--"

"I knew from the first that you didn't do it, Miss Gresham. I know that Miss Rogers spent the night with you. More than that, I know the ident.i.ty of the woman in the taxicab."

"Who was she?" It was Gresham who questioned.

Carroll shook his head. "It doesn't matter who she was, Gresham. We're going to keep her name out of this case. She was a woman who loved Roland Warren--and his death saved her from a great mistake. There's no necessity to ruin her life, is there?"

"How did you know--it was Garry--who did the shooting?" asked the girl.

"The minute you confessed," answered the detective quietly, "I knew that you were doing it to shield someone. You could have had no possible motive for shielding either of the other two men under suspicion. I knew that it must be your brother. He had motive enough--he knew that you were in love with Mr. Warren--engaged to him. He knew that Warren was about to elope with another woman, that it would cause you intense misery. So he went to the station that night to prevent the elopement.

Isn't that so, Gresham?"

The young man nodded. "Yes. When I went to your apartment the morning after the killing, it was for the purpose of confessing. But then when you a.s.sured me that my sister was not under suspicion--I decided to wait awhile before saying anything." He paused--"And as to that night--I parked my car a couple of blocks away and walked to the station through Jackson Street, intending to cut through the yards and approach the waiting room from the pa.s.senger platform. I had no idea that--that there would be--a tragedy. I wanted to reason with Warren; to beg him to save my sister from suffering which I knew would be attendant on--his elopement.

"He was walking in the yards as I entered from between the Pullman building and the baggage room. I don't know what he was doing there--but I spoke to him. He seemed startled at seeing me. I told him that I knew he was planning to elope--and begged him to call it off.

"Much to my surprise, he immediately got nasty. He seemed to want to get rid of me. He told me it was none of my d.a.m.ned business what he was doing. He even admitted the truth of what I said.

"That was the first hint of unpleasantness. But it grew--rapidly. He cursed me--anyway we had a brief, violent quarrel. He said something about my sister and I struck him. He clinched with me. We were fighting then--and I am a fairly good athlete. I broke out of a clinch and hit him pretty hard. He reached into his pocket and pulled a revolver. I managed to grab his hand before he could fire. I got it from him, and as I jerked it away--it went off. He fell--

"I was afraid then--panicky. I felt his body and realized that he was dead. A train had just come into the yards and there were switch engines puffing here and there--I was apprehensive that one of their headlights would pick me up. And there were some railroad men walking around the yards with lanterns in their hands. There was danger that I was going to be seen--and, had I been, I felt that I wouldn't have a leg to stand on; alone in such a place with the body of a man whom I admitted having shot--

"You see, I couldn't even prove the contemplated elopement. Late that evening I had received an anonymous telephone call from a man telling me that if I wanted to save my sister a good deal of unpleasant gossip, I'd better meet that midnight train as Warren was eloping on it with some other woman. But the man who gave me this information cut off before telling me the name of the woman. I didn't know it then--and I don't know it now.

"I knew I had to hide Warren's body; not that my killing was not justified on the grounds of self-defense, but because I would not bring my sister's name into it--and also because even if I did, there'd be no proof of the truth of what I said.

"I dragged his body into the shadows between the two buildings. Atlantic Avenue was deserted. At the curb I saw a yellow taxicab and noticed that the driver was in the restaurant across the street. I conceived the idea of putting the body in the taxicab--I knew I wouldn't be seen doing it, and it would serve the purpose of causing the body to be discovered at some point other than that at which the shooting occurred.

"I did it. Then I left. The next morning I read of the case in the papers and I have followed it closely since. I knew you were ostensibly on the wrong track and as a matter of self-preservation I determined to keep my mouth shut unless it happened that the wrong person was accused. Had you charged someone else with the killing I a.s.sure you I would have come forward. But meanwhile--not even knowing the ident.i.ty of the woman in the taxi--there seemed no necessity for running the risk. There was nothing save my own word to prove self-defense, you see."

"There is now," said Carroll. Hazel started eagerly and he smiled upon her. "The story of the woman who actually was in the taxicab substantiates yours, Gresham. She had followed Warren into the yards to talk to him. She saw the whole affair from a distance--and then went back through the waiting room of the station and called the taxi in which you had placed Warren's body."

"Then Garry will be freed?" cried the girl hopefully: "His plea of self-defense will acquit him?"

"Undoubtedly," retorted Carroll. "Don't you think so, Leverage?"

"Surest thing you know," returned the chief heartily. "And I'm darned glad of it!"

Garry faced his sister. "How did you know that I had killed him, Sis?"

"I didn't," she answered quietly. "Not at first, anyway. But, if you remember, you came in the house a little after eleven o'clock that night and seemed excited. You came to my room--"

"I was thinking then," explained Garry, "that maybe _you_ were eloping with Warren."

"Then you came home again a little after one o'clock. You waked me then--and acted peculiarly."

"I was rea.s.suring myself," he said, "that you really hadn't left the house."

"The next morning while you were taking your shower I was putting up your laundry," Hazel went on. "I found a revolver in your drawer. I didn't think anything of it then--I hadn't even read the papers about the--the--killing. But later, I remembered it. I went back to look for the revolver--just why, I don't know--and it was gone. I questioned you about it a couple of days later, and you denied that you had ever had a revolver in the house. And I knew then, Garry--I knew that you had done it."

He squeezed her hand. "We always did know more about each other than we were told, didn't we, Little Sis? Because at that moment, too, I knew that you knew!"

The young man turned back to the detectives--"And what now?" he questioned.

"We'll have to hold you, Gresham. You'll have to go through the form of a trial--but you'll get off, don't worry!"

Sister and brother left the room hand-in-hand. Alone again, the two detectives faced each other. "You win, David," said Leverage admiringly.

"Though darned if I know how you do it?"

"A combination of luck and common sense," returned Carroll simply. "This time it was princ.i.p.ally luck. It usually is in such cases--but most detectives don't admit it. It is the wild-eyed reporter with the vivid imagination whom we can thank for this solution. It was his fiction that brought about Miss Gresham's ridiculous confession and that which caused me to know that she must be shielding her brother. As to how matters stand--I say Thank G.o.d!"

"Why?"

"Garry Gresham will undoubtedly be freed; it was a clear case of self-defense. Unfortunately, the fact that there was an elopement will have to be known--but that is a comparatively trivial thing, unpleasant as it may be for Miss Gresham. And, most of all--I'm glad because Naomi Lawrence's name will not be dragged into it."

"How will you work that, David?"

"It can be done, Eric. The district attorney is a pretty good friend of mine--and he's a good square fellow. Of course he will have to know the entire story; and it is a certainty that he will believe it. And when he does--you know that he will handle the case so that Mrs. Lawrence will not be connected. Irregular--yes. But you believe he can--and will--do it, don't you?"

"You bet your bottom dollar he will. He's another nut like you--so bloomin' human it hurts."

"And now--" said Carroll, "I want to chat with William Barker. There are one or two loose ends I want to clear up."

Barker was very humble as he entered the room.

"You're free of the murder charge," stated Carroll promptly, "but we may hold you for blackmail."

Barker heaved a sigh of relief. "I ain't objectin' to that, Mr. Carroll.

It's a small thing when a man has thought he might be strung up."

"Who killed Warren?" questioned the detective.

"Don't you know?" came the surprised answer.

"Yes--but I'm asking you."

"I suppose you're driving at something new," retorted Barker, "but _I_ really think Mrs. Lawrence shot him."

"She didn't," answered Carroll. "And there's one thing I want to warn you about right now, Barker. You're the only person except the Chief here, and myself, who knows that Mrs. Lawrence is connected with the case. I want her name kept out of it. Of course that makes it impossible to arrest you for blackmail--and so, if you tell me the entire truth, I'm going to _let_ you go free. But if I ever hear of her name in connection with this case I'll know that you have leaked--and I'll get you if it takes me ten years. Understand?"

"Yes, sir, I do--thankin' you, sir. I know which side my bread is b.u.t.tered on."

"Good. Now I'm telling you that Mrs. Lawrence did _not_ shoot Warren.

Who did?"

"I don't know--" Suddenly his expression changed. "If it wasn't her, Mr.

Carroll--it must have been Mr. Gresham."

"Aa-a-ah! What makes you think that?"

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Midnight Part 40 summary

You're reading Midnight. This manga has been translated by Updating. Author(s): Octavus Roy Cohen. Already has 683 views.

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