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"MCCARTY ON THE TRAIL"
by Peter Clark MacFarlane |
Originally Published in Cosmopolitian magazine April 1914

Detective Sgt. McCarty is on the trail of a well-known criminal!

McCarty, the rough-and-ready criminal-snatcher-the detective-genius-the handy man on the "force." He is a student of men, not of psychology, and through long experience has learned the trick of substituting himself for the man he is hunting, of putting the criminal's brain into his own skull. In this story, the author places, McCarty on the track of a well-known crook, and there is "something doing" from the first minute the sergeant hits the trail.

“PUT McCarty on it," the papers clamored, with one voice. The city had been terrorized by a long list of desperate hold-ups. Tom Hodson, captain of detectives, and his entire force were at sea. Citizens read each day the list of robberies as, in the fever stricken cities of the South, they used to read of the number of new cases. People were afraid to go out after dark. The situation had reached that acute stage where it affected the business of the eateries and other amusement enterprises. These and the street-car companies complained. The god of business had turned his face from the city, so the people arose and demanded of Chief Brandt that he ditch Tom Hodson and find some way to catch these fellows.

"But," expostulated Brandt, to Big Bill Sullivan, chairman of the Board of Police Commissioners, "they're too clever for us. Ain't I doing the best I can? Tom's working night and day on it. He can't get nothing, and he's sore and savage as a bull."

"What about McCarty? Guess he would get something, hey?" persisted Big Bill.

Sergeant McCarty was the most feared man on the force. He event about things with cool audacity and easy confidence. He mingled dash and caution strangely. His results were swift and terrible. . He took enormous chances and got away with them. Merit would have placed McCarty at the head of the detectives or in the chief's chair long ago, but politics kept him where he was.

"Oh, I wouldn't dare," exclaimed Brandt, "to put McCarty on it now, after Tom has been at it so long and been roasted every day. Tom hates Officer McCarty like poison, and he would raise hell!”

"Well," bellowed Sullivan, "the people are raising hell now. Call McCarty!”

Brandt pushed a button. In a moment, Sergeant McCarty stood before them. Sullivan had barely finished explaining that he was going to assign him to special duty on the "stick-up" cases, when the telephone-bell rang violently.

Brandt lifted the receiver to his car and listened for a moment, his face growing ashen. "Great God!" he exclaimed, placing his hand over the transmitter. "They've robbed the Pacific Street branch of the Miners' Bank-killed the teller and got away with sixteen thousand in gold."

"There!" exclaimed Sullivan, turning to McCarty. But McCarty had already leaped to clutch the 'phone, which the chief willingly passed to him.

"Hello!" he bawled. "Pacific Street Branch? . . . How long ago? . . . Five minutes? All right. Anybody in there? . . . Put 'em out and lock the doors. Don't let a soul in. You and the medical student stay right by the body. Don't move it and don't move anything else. . . . If the president of the bank comes, don't let him in till I get there."

McCarty hung up the 'phone and turned, his eyes ablaze with action.

"Take as many of Hodson's men as you need," ordered Brandt.

"Hodson's men!" snorted McCarty. "Them dime-novel detectives! Not on your life! I'll grab two plain thief-takers from my own squad, and that's all I want. Your motor-car, Commissioner?" he asked of Sullivan, as he turned into the hall.

"Certainly," called Sullivan, who, catching the spirit of the chase, rushed past him on the way to crank his machine. A moment later, Sergeant McCarty, with Patrolmen Dugan and Meyer at his back, leaped to the tonneau, and, with a hoarse bark, the car plunged out into the street. As they sped, McCarty explained the case to his men:

"You see, it's quick work this time, or nothing. Them for a quick getaway, now. This bank in daylight is the last trick. The bank is on the corner of Montgomery. You, Dugan, cover every house and doorway and room on Pacific in the bank block, and you, Meyer, the same on Montgomery. Do it quick, and report at the bank."

A great crowd was pressing around the door of the bank, which had been locked, according to McCarty's orders. As Sullivan stopped the car, McCarty sprang to the curb and shouldered his way through the crowd, throwing men right and left in a manner that would have been ferocious had he not been so matter-of-fact about it. The door opened to admit him, and closed upon the bank president and some directors who had come up from downtown, crazy to get in and learn the extent of the robbery. McCarty halted two feet inside the door and surveyed the premises swiftly. Four awestricken men were clustered about the cashier's wicket, waiting solemnly for McCarty to speak. His swift survey completed in a moment, he addressed them in blunt, direct tones, "Who are you?”

"The other employees of the bank," answered a stout, middle-aged man, with a shuddering glance over his shoulder into the cashier's cage. "I'm the savings-bank cashier. These two men are the bookkeepers, and this other is a medical student, friend of one of the bookkeepers, who was with him when he discovered the-ah, the-" Another glance of horror toward the cage.

"And who knows most about this?" asked the sergeant again, direct and blunt.

"I do, sir," answered one of the bookkeepers.

McCarty settled upon the speaker those two steely beams that played from his eyes like searchlights, and that was all. Speech flowed freely from the young man.

"There are five of us in the bank, sir," said he---"two cashiers, two bookkeepers, and a young lady stenographer. The savings-bank cashier and the second bookkeeper here go to lunch at eleven-thirty. The cashier and myself go at twelve-thirty. The stenographer brings her lunch, but usually goes out for a walk at one-thirty, after we all get back. There is never much doing noontime here except on Monday, cashing paychecks. To-day the others went to luncheon as usual. About twelve-fifteen I got a call on the 'phone from my friend here" (indicating the medical student), "asking if I could come over early and go to lunch with him. I put it up to the cashier, and he said, 'Go ahead; the others will be back in fifteen minutes, and there's nothing doing, anyway.’”

“And then?" queried McCarty sharply.

The young man turned and led the way to the sliding door of the cashier's cage. Inside, the cashier, a slight man, lay on his face, cold in death. An outstretched hand almost grasped a five-dollar gold piece that lay upon the floor.

“Is this the way you, found him?" queried McCarty eagerly. "Has he been moved?"

"We turned him over, of course," answered the bookkeeper. "My friend and I dropped in on the way to the restaurant to see how things were getting on, and Miss Dexter was having hysterics and wringing her hands, and told us something was wrong in the cage. We found him as you see. We turned him over, but he was dead, and when the order came from Chief Brandt, we replaced his body exactly as it lay."

"Was the five-dollar gold piece in his hand?”

"No; just near it." McCarty laid a rough hand gently on the thin hair of the slightly gray head and felt for the wound. It was just across the top of the skull.

"I see," said McCarty. "A man at the window, under pretense of depositing money, making change, or something, rolled a five-dollar gold piece on the floor. The cashier stooped to pick it up. The man reached through the wicket with a short billy, and struck him a short-arm blow that killed him instantly,. Then he grabbed them trays of twenties, dragged them up to the wicket, and pawed them through as fast as he could. But there's the stack of currency on the other side; why didn't he take that?”

McCarty went outside and thrust in his right arm. He could easily reach to the spot on the left-hand counter where, protected by the screen, the twenty-dollar gold pieces had been. Then he withdrew his right hand, and, thrusting in his left, found that he could easily reach the stack of bills which remained untouched on the righthand counter, though they were much more desirable loot. As the sergeant drew back his arm, the end of a small rod which came through the rim of the wicket caught in his sleeve and took off a fine strand of wool. McCarty noticed it, and it gave him an idea. He studied keenly each rivetlike projection on the inner frame of the wicket at the left, and on two of them he found tiny threads of gray woolen, suggesting suiting of the kind traveling Englishmen are very likely to wear.

"Aha!" said McCarty. "He wore a gray coat."

Then he examined carefully the wire heads on the right.

They bore no threads, testifying to the mind of the sergeant that the thief did not reach after the bills at all.

"Why," he asked aloud, “was he a one-armed?”

"Say!" spoke up the medical student, "I saw a strange doctor in gray clothes with one arm in a sling going down-stairs in the college about half an hour ago. He had a surgeon's case of instruments with him. Does that help any?”

"Maybe it does," said McCarty. "The medical college is next door, ain't it, with a side door on the alley? And this bank building butts into that alley. Yes-young fellow, you get over there quick and find out who that man was, where he lives, and all about him, and come back."

The medical student departed, with the finest sense of importance he had ever experienced.

"Now," said McCarty, addressing the savings-bank cashier, " I've seen what I see. What do you know? Who was in the bank at the time of the robbery, did you say?”

"Nobody but the cashier and a young lady stenographer."

“Where is the girl?

"Here," exclaimed a frightened voice, as a slight young woman of perhaps twenty-five, blond and pale, appeared from a sort of private office, cast a shuddering glance at the object on the floor, and then gasped: “Oh, please may I go home? Please, may I? I wanted to before, but they locked me in and made me wait for you."

McCarty, too, looked not indifferently at the thing on the floor.

You must leave him there, boys," he said gently, " till the coroner comes.

"And now, my girl," he began sympathetically, "don't be afraid. I have a colleen of my own at home. just tell me what you know as clear as you can, and we'll put you in a hack and send you home to your mother."

"I don't know a thing," she gasped. “I was at the adding machine. It was quiet. A woman was in here, then a man or two, but I didn't notice much. For some time there wasn't anybody. I think I was working the adding machine when I heard a coin fall in Mr. Diggs' cage, and he made a little exclamation. ‘What's the matter with you?' or something like that. The old man was kind of impatient sometimes. I looked across and noticed there was somebody at the window-just noticed that it was somebody; couldn't see anything for the two pieces of caging between us, unless I looked particular, and I didn't look particular; Then I heard a sort of scuffling sound, but I was nearly through listing checks, and was hurrying to get done and take off my total. When the machine's going fast, you don't think of much else. But all at once it kind of seemed to me as though something was wrong-like I had heard something unusual, maybe a tray of money tipped over or something like that, but I couldn't tell what it was. And I looked toward the window, and there was nobody standing there. I did not see Mr. Diggs in the cage, either. I tried to open the door of the cage, but it was locked."

“Did you scream or cry out?”

“No," answered the girl, " I guess not. I just had that funny feeling that something was wrong, and then I saw that something was wrong. I kept trying to get into the cage to get to Mr. Diggs. I spoke to him, but he did not make a sound. One of his hands just seemed to vibrate nervously, and I kind of sat back onto a stool and starred there talking to him and kind of crying like. Oh, I was frightened to be here with him-with-with it"-here she cast a glance toward the body-"But I was under a spell.”

"And how long did you stay there at the cage?

"Three or four or five minutes, maybe. Then I got up and went around to the door into the corridor, and out to the front to see what I could see. There were some people in Montgomery Street coming and going about their business, but nothing in particular to take note of."

"Nothing? Think carefully." The sergeant's searching eye was unfolding the wrinkles in her very soul with its scrutiny.

"Nothing," she answered, with conviction. "And then I stepped round the corner and looked down Pacific."

"And what was there?"

"Nothing. Not a thing in sight, except away down, two or three blocks, a cab with a white horse was just turning the corner."

"Of what street?"

"Sansome, maybe."

"Then where did you go?"

"I came back into the bank and went to the rear."

"Why did you do that?"

"Because, later, it seemed to wake up in my mind that I had heard the back door snap-that leads into the alley."

"There is a way out from the front through the back?" asked McCarty.

"Yes; if you go through the directors' room there at the side," she said, indicating the passageway.

But a man had to know that way out before he would risk a hurried flight, wouldn't he?"—McCarty questioned. "Anybody have a stronger in there lately? " at the same time pointing to the directors' room.

Why, yes," said the saving’s-bank cashier; "yes, I did yesterday-an English-looking man, who wanted to talk to me about investments. After a while he went away."

"What time of day was it?

"Just before I went to lunch. I went out to lunch as he went away."

"Remark that it was your lunch-time or anything?

“Yes, I believe I did."

"I see," said McCarty. "He picked out his getaway and learned when the cashier would be alone, call at once. Did he have his arm in a sling?”

“No.”

"Sling's a blind," said McCarty to himself, yet talking aloud. "But why didn't he reach the currency? Been hurt sometime, and just can't get his left arm in that position, maybe. That's where he got the idea of the arm in the sling-that is, if he did put his arm in a sling." And then he added emphatically, "Now I want that medical student."

"Here," responded the youth, who had just come in that same back door through the directors' room.

"Well?" asked the sergeant.

"They all say I'm crazy," explained the youth, somewhat confused. "Say there never tape,; such a doctor there this morning, or any other morning." He had evidently been chaffed a good deal and was glad when McCarty asked him no more questions but turned to Dugan and Meyer, who had hammered their way through the crowd to an entrance by the front door.

"What luck, Meyer?”

"Nothing," replied Meyer bluntly. "You, Dugan? "There's a man in a wheel-chair, on a porch over here, who says he seen a cab stop here at the bank and let a man out, and the cab drove along slowly to the front of the medical school, and waited there two or three minutes like, and seemed to pick up another fare and drive on, down Pacific."

“Did he see the fare?”

"No he was on the other side all the time."

“Could he tell if it was the same one that got out at the bank?”

"No; but he watched him kind of close, and he thought it was funny about him picking up this other fare, almost by appointment." "He watched him close? Anything, particular?" "Yes. He says the man on the box didn't look quite like a regular cab driver-lie sat up too straight and carried his whip like a private coachman; some style to him, but no kind of livery. medium size he was, but a kind of a John Bull look to him."

"Coachman Bill, think ye?" asked McCarty, mentioning the name of a clever crook famous on two continents, who often found it convenient to play the role of a coachman, which he, could to perfection while preparing for, or in the act of, pulling off his jobs.

"Might be," said Dugan, starting with the force of the new idea.

"Yes," assented McCarty.

"You bet it might be. Nobody's heard of Bill in six months, if he hasn't been in these jobs. I thought I caught sight of his mug in a crowd on the front last night, so I begun to look for him in this from the minute I started, But who's the tall, gray guy with his arm sometimes in a sling and sometimes not, but with something the matter with it, for all that?"

"Sergeant" said Meyer, respectfully.

"What is it, my boy?" asked McCarty.

"There hasn't been one of these big jobs, now, for ten days. The last was Rigley's, and Rigley shot and claimed he hit. Maybe he did wing one of them."

"Yes, maybe. That's a possible explanation, but what we want right now's a speculation with a lightning flash of probability in it somewhere. We know, now, what they look like, if we don't know who they are. You two men go out the front door, have the officer on guard telephone to headquarters to take into custody every gray or light-colored cab horse in the city, with the driver, and get a list of every fare they've handled in the last three hours, and chase them up, every one. Then have Sullivan take you quick, you, Meyer, to the ferry building; you, Dugan, to Third and Townsend, to watch the trains. You know what you're looking for-Coachman Bill for one, and a tall, gray guy for the other."

While the officers moved to obey, Sergeant McCarty, motioning toward the bank officers at the door, said, " In five minutes you can let them in, but first send the girl home in a hack."

Then, with eyes half closed he moved out from behind the screened-off space, took a position at the teller's window where the robbery had been committed, and walked slowly out, through the directors' room, through the door into the alley, across the paved court to the back of the medical college, up the back stairs, thinking just how natural a figure a man with a medical case would be there, and holy much gold would clink like surgical instruments if the case were bumped or shaken accidentally.

“Here his arm went into a sling," he observed.

Down the steps McCarty walked, and out to the street, continuing to commune with himself. "Here his cab was waiting for him. Clever getaway. Clever! Crowds down yonder at the corner, looking for a murderer. Out comes a main from a medical school with his arm in a sling and jogs away. Natural? Most natural thing in the world.”

Sergeant McCarty looked. at his watch. Seventeen minutes had elapsed since he had entered the bank, which was, he remembered, at twelve-forty-four, about eighteen minutes after the murder. "I'm on. his trail," the sergeant said, "and about thirty-five minutes behind him."

And now Sergeant McCarty did what might appear a strange thinly. He lifted his cap from his head and passed his hand over his stubby hair at the back and across the top, then replaced the cap, tipping it low over his eyes, and with hands behind his back, moved slowly down Pacific to Sansome, pondering deeply. This was McCarty's way. He had all the facts, all the physical details, in his mind. He put them there, as in a pot, to simmer. Then he brushed up each red stubby hair till it stood like a lightning-rod, separate and apart, to serve as a conductor for any stray ideas that might come floating into the area of appropriative consciousness. Now he was traveling slowly over the route taken by Coachman Bill and his pal, the murderer.

McCarty was as ignorant as could well be of the principles of modern psychology, of the laws of mental suggestion; but in his practical experience as a thief-taker, he hand learned to put, as it were, his own brain into the criminal's skull, to look out through his eyes, to hear through his ears, and feel the quaking, fleeing heart of a fugitive within him, and the surge and jerk of excited, vagrant blood in his veins; to put, constructively at least, his feet in the criminal's shoes, and let them lead him whither they would; and often enough they led him the way the criminal had gone.

But where the cab turned into Sansome Street, Sergeant McCarty stopped. Suddenly the little lightning-rods under his hat all began to smoke at once.

"Be-e-gor-r-r-a," he breathed softly and deeply to himself. "Be-e-gor-r-r-a! This is Sansome Street these fellows turned into, and at the other end of Sansome Street is Second Street, and at the other end of Second is the Pacific Mail dock, and from that dock the Hongkong Maru sails Thursday for Japan and the Orient-and this is Thursday, and she sails at two o'clock, and it is now one-thirty, and I have been mooning around here all these minutes."

A motorcar came swiftly up the street. Sergeant McCarty stepped out and held up his hand. The car stopped abruptly.

"Ye're arrested," said McCarty.

"What for?" sputtered the chauffeur, in anger.

"For violatin' the speed limits."

"But I haven't violated them."

"No; but you're goin' to. You're goin' to take me to the Pacific Mail dock so fast that ye'll break every speed-law in the United States."

McCarty had coolly climbed in beside the chauffeur. "Turn her!" he ordered.

The chauffeur began to turn grumblingly. Do you know whose car this is? " he asked.

"I do not," said McCarty. "It's the mayor's, that's whose it is, and you’ll sweat for this, too." "The mayor's? Now, how fortunate! Often the mayor says to me, 'McCarty, come and have a ride in my new car, but I haven't had time till now.”

"That's all right, too," said the chauffeur, cooling off as he heard the name of McCarty, "but he'll be sore, all the same. He's all tore up about this robbery at the Pacific

Street bank. Hodson's chasing off out to the Presidio, claims it's some soldier that done it, but the mayor has a, clue that runs to the Mail dock, and he sent me after Hodson."

"To the mail dock? After Hodson, huh? That's fortunate now, isn't it?”

"Fortunate?" ejaculated the chauffeur. "I'll catch hell.”

"What's that?" asked McCarty, indicating the speedometer. "That shows how fast we go," explained the chauffeur. "Well," said McCarty, "you lean the hour-hand over on the fifty-mile an hour and keep her there till we get one block from the dock.”

The chauffeur opened her wide. With one prolonged wait of the siren, the car shot away. A block before the dock was reached, the car was slowed up. McCarty looked back with satisfaction at the dust they had raised and then, with a wave of his hand, said,

"Turn in there.”

The place indicated was a sort of alley in which second-hand stores that dealt in sailors' gear abounded. McCarty leaped out.

“Young fellow, " he said, “you go and lose yourself, lose Hodson, anything so you don't get him down here for an hour vet. You get the idea?” he queried, with a twist of his eyebrow that spoke of ominous disasters that might overtake a mayor's chauffeur if he did not obey this particular police sergeant s orders.

“You bet" answered the young man, with alacrity. Besides, he had a grudge against Hodson.

As for McCarty, he had done some thinking on the way down. If these fellows were going on the Hongkong Maru, they would have their passage engaged, but would not be likely to be on board till the very last minutes laying up somewhere within striking-distance till then. If they caught sight of a sergeant of police on board, or in sight, they would shy off entirely. So McCarty turned into the little alley, and, dashing into a shop that dealt in second-hand clothing, he hurried to the rear, throwing off his coat as he did so. "Johnson," he called to the proprietor, "give me a quartermaster's coat, quick, cap, too.”

At just one-forty a man in the uniform of a quartermaster climbed up the gangplank of the Hongkong Maru, whispered something to the real officer who stood at the tipper end, and then took his stand behind human, looking perfectly natural there, a part of the ship's company-except that he was a trifle old for the station.

McCarty had plenty of time to think while he waited. What if they had already come aboard? They would , get to sea and he with them, while he looked. They would see him, recognize him, and get away. They would throw the swag overboard. Always, McCarty kept an eye on the swag. They wouldn't come there at all. He had it all doped out wrong. All these ideas came to him, and they started the sweat under his sailor's coat- but for all that he held doggedly to his purpose. He had followed his best judgment.

He had acted upon the swift intuitions that came to him. he would stand by them. Here was where McCarty was great. When he had mapped out a, line of action he never faltered in it, or changed it without a reason-mind you, without a reason.

So he waited, and over the real officer's shoulder he eyed keenly every passenger in the steady stream that was coming up the plank. In five minutes anchor would be weighed unless McCarty asserted his authority and ordered a search of the ship, which he had made up his mind to do. And then, from nowhere in particular, a cab appeared. The horse, however, was not gray, and the driver an honest old "cabby" whom Sergeant McCarty knew well. A tall, skinny old man was being helped out of it by a shorter, thickset man with a head that was dark and as round as a tenpin ball. The old man seemed very feeble, and with one hand drew close the cape of a top-coat. In addition to the cape, a light shawl or scarf was around his neck and shoulders, and he leaned heavily upon the other man. Ahead of them porters carried their hand baggage up the plank, sundry much plastered bags and cases, hat-boxes and so forth, of a style that seemed to proclaim their owner a much traveled man of foreign residence.

But the sure instinct of McCarty's mind caused him to search this party over and over with his eye. The only apparent, ground for suspicion was one incongruous piece of baggage, a black-leather case such as is used by physician, to carry their instruments. The valet held it in one hand, while, with the other, he helped the seemingly infirm old man. Yes, there was one other incongruous thing. The older man gripped the guide-rope to bell himself, and McCarty's keen eye saw at one swift glance that his was a grip of steel. And now they were at the top. The valet, whom. McCarty had half identified as Coachman Bill, although his side whiskers had grown down his cheeks tremendously since the description of an hour ago, stepped down from the end of the runway onto the deck, and turning with the instrument bag in his left hand for an instant, he lifted up his right to go through the mock performance of helping the old man to place a firm foot upon the deck. The valet stepped back carefully. The old man leaned heavily upon his shoulder and prepared to push a feeble foot over the edge of the gangplank.

In that instant, McCarty kicked the black bag out of the valet's hand. It bounded heavily alone the deck a few feet, giving forth at each turn a faint, metallic sound, not at all like the jingle of a bag full of instruments.

With an oath, Coachman Bill shot an angry glance at the supposed quartermaster, and started to recover his bag. But, as he passed, McCarty dealt him a smashing blow on the jaw, and he dropped in a huddle on the deck. Turning swiftly, the sergeant faced the seeming old man. I-le had straightened up, losing something of his feeble appearance. His face was the picture of indignation, real or simulated. His eyes blazed. McCarty leaped upon him without a word. Whether he fell out of his great coat, which had only been pulled over his shoulders, or whether with premeditation he flung himself free of it to fight t e better, an onlooker could not have told. His figure was tall and lithe. Unshrinkingly he wrapped himself after the fashion of a python about the bullish frame of McCarty, one of his hands, like a huge talon, bending fingers of curved steel into the neck of the policeman. His cause seemed just. His servant had been outrageously assaulted by an officer of the ship, who now leaped upon him like a madman. He fought as if for his life. But McCarty had not a compunction. Instead, he had a. theory. His criminal was supposed to have a bad left shoulder.

Quicker than lightning flashes, McCarty remembered, now, that this man had made little use of his left arm, had kept it close to his body. As in their first struggle, they fell thundering to the deck, and McCarty threw all his weight onto his antagonists left shoulder. It sake readily, and a hiss of pain through clenched teeth told that there was trouble there. McCarty kept wrenching, twisting, turning, till he heard the bone crack. All the time, too, he had. been doubling his neck and bending it till he had his chin inside the forearm that had choked him. This brought relief to his lungs, and a moment later he had set sharp teeth in that forearm with a crunch that resulted in an instant release of its awful. grip. Both men had half risen to their knees, and finally renamed their feet. In this, McCarty was the quicker, and as his opponent rose he dealt him a terrible sledgehammer blow upon the jaw that stretched him senseless upon the deck. With a quick movement, McCarty located and tore a pistol from the man's pocket and flung it over the rail onto the dock. Then he hurried toward where the black bag had fallen. But it was not there. Neither was Coachman Bill.

The crowd, half understanding, closed in with cheers, but McCarty flung them aside with impatience and dashed aft. It was an example of the dazed condition of the minds, of those who looked on, including the ship's officers, that all had turned to watch the struggle, and paid no attention to the man who limped off along the rail, carrying a black instrument-bag.

Though somewhat dazed by McCarty's blow, Coachman Bill had clambered to his feet, seized the black bag, and was making off with it. About midway of the ship, he had paused a moment from the pain in his head and stood leaning against a stanchion, his face upturned, his band held against the lower base of the brain, where the sergeant's blow had fallen. As McCarty advanced, he reached threateningly toward his hip pocket; but the move was too late. The sergeant's weapon already gleamed in his hand. Coachman Bill dared not draw. Instead, he lifted the black bag over the rail and deliberately let it drop.

It has been remarked before that Sergeant McCarty thought quickly. Now, as he saw the surgeon's bag slip from Coachman Bill's fingers, he thought in big chunks. A reel of moving pictures a mile long seemed to run through his head in a fraction of a second. He had taken very much for granted. He had made a most ungentlemanly assault on the servant of a decrepit old man whom the servant had addressed as "your lordship." Moreover, he had immediately thereafter assaulted the feeble old man, and left him stretched out there upon the deck. All these things he had done upon the supposition that a certain theory of his was correct, and the evidence to confirm that theory, if evidence there was, lay in the black bag; and there was the bag, slipping from Bill's fingers, supposing they were Bill's fingers. The bag struck the rail of the lower deck, balanced there for a moment, and then, with the gentle heave of the tide-stirring, pitched over the side.

There it went, the little bag that could prove by its contents whether Sergeant McCarty was the cleverest detective or the biggest ass on the San Francisco police force. In a moment there would be only a swirling eddy, and, in his fancy, McCarty could see in that eddy the face of the captain of detectives, Thomas Hodson, grinning at him derisively. But perhaps these were only thoughts on the way, for the moment that black bag began to tip outward from the lower deck-rail, Sergeant McCarty catapulted downward after it. With a mighty splash he struck the water beside the bag, hugged it to his bosom, and soon, having gripped it by the handle, was puffing and blowing the water from his mouth and bawling for a rope, which was presently thrown him from a barge from which the big ship had just finished coaling.

His first act on reaching the barge was to shout. orders to the two or three policemen, who, by this time, appeared among the passengers who had crowded to the ship's rail, to take Coachman Bill and the unknown Englishman into custody. His next was to rip open with his knife the black-leather bag. How if it contained sash-weights…. But no. Nested in cotton batting to deaden the clink, lay many thousand dollars in gold, and on top was a black-silk handkerchief of large dimensions, pinned together so as to form a sling.

Lifting the mutilated satchel and its contents tenderly in his arms, McCarty stepped into the great coal-bucket and was deposited on the deck of the liner, grimy with coal-dust and dripping wet, but proud and triumphant.

Coachman Bill and the unknown stood together with handcuffs on. Commissioner Sullivan had got there, somehow, and Hodson, captain of detectives, was just coming up the gangplank.

McCarty, what have you done? "gasped Sullivan, in surprise, as he saw the two handcuffed men and McCarty's own condition, and caught a yellow glint in the gaping side of the instrument-case.

McCarty saluted. "I have done the job, Commissioner," he answered proudly, making sure that Hodson heard him.

"And so quick," gasped Sullivan.

"Aw," deprecated McCarty, moving toward the gangplank behind his prisoners. “Twas a red-hot trail."

THE END


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