Help via Ko-Fi


by Arthur Somers Roche
Author of "For Bravery", "The Sport of Kings," etc.

TENNEY, star operative of the Secret Service, possessed the "camera eye" in a measure. That is to say, he never forgot a face, but unless the face was indissolubly connected with some business or social event, the operative was apt to forget the name of the owner of the face and the time and place where he had first seen it. He was not at all superhuman or uncanny, this man Tenney, nor inquisitive, save in matters of routine. Ordinarily a drunken man was of slightest interest to Tenney.

But the man who was buying champagne for several other men in a far corner of the dining-room where Tenney breakfasted, piqued the operative's curiosity, for the face was familiar—he had seen the man before. But where? To the waiter serving his coffee, Tenney indicated the purchaser of the bubbling juice of the grape.

"Who's his Merriness?" he asked. "I've always thought that this was a quiet family hotel—that's why I came here. I didn't know you held wine parties at 10 A. M."

"Lawd, Mist' Tenney, we usually don't," grinned the darkey. "But this yere gent he ain't makin' no noise, and he's spendin' his money, and—" the darkey shrugged his shoulders— "I dunno who he is, Mist' Tenney, but I know what he is—he's a fool with money, and them gents with him sure will make a hard try to part the two."

"Who are they?" demanded Tenney.

"Don't you know 'em, seh? But sho—course you don't! A patent lawyer like you-all wouldn't know nothin' about racin' people. That big man at the end of their table is Mist' "Diamond" Dave Bleakie. He makes book at Bennings, seh. So do the gents at his left and right, Mist' Bill Heenan and Mist' "Skyhigh" Aids. Them other two look like touts to me, seh.

"I guess the thirsty gentleman will play the races this aft'noon, seh. He's sure primed for a big day. He was in here las' night with the same crowd, and I never see sech a hollow gentleman in my life! He done opened two cases of wine, and when they took him upstairs to bed he was weepih' fo' mo'. And now he's been down here since eight o'clock. You gotta give him your admiration, seh. When it comes to drinkin', that gemman is sure educated! He registered here vest'day, seh. I can git Iris name from the office."

Tenney smiled.

"No thank you, Sam. I'm not interested."

Then he attacked his breakfast as if he had forgotten all about the wine-bibber in the corner. Yet on his way out of the hotel he stopped at the desk and glanced carelessly at the register. Among the arrivals of the previous night he saw, in sprawling chirography, the name of Peter Firkins, of Washington. Tenney pointed at the name.

"Our champagne friend?" he asked the clerk.

The latter nodded.

"Don't know how he happened to pick a quiet place like this for his party, sir," apologized the clerk. "But he's been quiet enough, for all his drinking and his friends. However—if you object, sir, I'll speak to the proprietor."

"Certainly not," said Tenney. "Judging from his friends he'll be relieved of bis money soon, and the hotel of his company."

Then, brows wrinkled, Tenney left the hotel, for while he did not pride himself particularly on his memory, he nevertheless knew that when he recognized a face he should also recognize the owner's name if he saw or heard it. He was certain that he knew the face of the wine-bibber. Yet in all his wide acquaintance, he had never met a man named Peter Firkins. It was strange; Tenney might see a man and not know7 his name, yet if the name were mentioned Tenney would always know where to place it. Likewise, if a name were mentioned, and a little later Tenney should see its owner, even the lapse of many years would not cause him hesitation in applying the name to the man.

"I must be getting old," he told himself. "Failing memory is the first sign, I'm told. Well——"

He shrugged his shoulders and hailed a cab. In the presence of the important message from Dilkes, Chief of the Secret Service, which had come to him just before breakfast, Tenney could ill afford to fret his brain over trivialities. He had dismissed the petty matter from his mind when he entered the office of his Chief.

"Well, Chief," he said, "you sent word that —— had broken loose, so as soon as I finished breakfast, I ——"

He paused, his eyes suddenly alighting upon a third figure in the room, a small man, whose lack of stature was emphasized by the manner in which he huddled—that's the word—in a huge leather-cushioned armchair. The face and figure Tenney recognized at once, and he raised his eyebrows inquiringly as he looked at Dilkes; he became suddenly conscious that the room radiated nervous strain. The man in the chair lifted burning eyes and looked at Tenney.

"This the man, Chief Dilkes?"

"This is he," replied the Chief. "Tenney, this is the Secretary of War. He's come to me, and I've sent for you because——"

The Secretary interrupted.

"Why did you not come at once, sir? Is breakfast more important than—than patriotism?"

Tenney flushed.

"It's rather essential, sir, that I come prepared. I'm not a health faddist. I need breakfast before I do anything. And I rather judged from the Chief's message that I'd have to do some thinking."

"Thinking?" cried Dilkes. "Acting, Tenney! Acting at once! Before the last secret of the War Department is given away; before the ——"

"Before the United States is laid bare to attack which it can not resist," cried the Secretary. "Before treachery, black treason, has sold away the secrets of our national defenses! I dare not even think, for even my thoughts are read, written down and sent to the agents of Japan!"

The Secretary7 placed his hands before his eyes, and a shudder ran the length of his body.

"No one could hear—no one could see— there was no signaling—no——"

Tenney's muscles stiffened; the lines about the mouth hardened, and the nostrils of the strong, pugnacious nose seemed slightly to flare.

"Look here, Mr. Secretary," he said, "you mustn't give way. Worry gets you nothing. Tell me—what's up?"

"The plans of the coast defenses of the United States are being sold to Japan," said the Secretary.

Tenney whistled.

"And the seller is ——"

"God alone knows!" ejaculated the Secretary.

"Oh, no," said Tenney. "The seller knows, the buyer knows, and—maybe we'll know by and by. Try and tell me just what has happened, will you, please?"

There was an easy friendliness in Tenney's manner, an absence of flunkyism in the presence of the cabinet official, that spoke of conscious equality with any one and every one. It spoke of more than that it spoke of the sane viewpoint that refuses to recognize the supernatural in the purely physical. It spoke of confidence unmeasured, which is different from conceit.

Dilkes used to say that Tenney hypnotized people. Tenney denied the charge. "I make 'em come down to earth; that s all," he used to say.

And in the present instance the Secretary came down to earth. The bulk of Tenney, the easy voice and colloquial speech were as a cool spring in which the cabinet officer bathed a burning brain. His eyes seemed to cool and his upper lip ceased twitching.

"YOU'LL excuse my losing control of myself," he said, slightly apologetic, "when I tell you what's happened and the—the impossibility of its happening. Last night, in the Washington Post-office, a mail-sorter was going over the mail. In some way he tore an envelope open. He told me that, while unusual, such accidents happen once in a while. Well, the contents of the envelope fell out upon the floor. The sorter picked them up to replace them in the envelope. But his eye happened to be struck by a typewritten line across the top of the first page of the contents. And he saw the words, 'Copy of plans for southwestern mobilization.'

"Mr. Tenney, God was land to the United States in seeing that a man of intelligence was sorting that particular bunch of mail. This mail-sorter is an ambitious man; three months ago he took the civil service examinations for a clerkship in my department. He passed, and had already received notification that he would enter upon a clerkship next week.

"The average mail-sorter would have replaced the plans in the envelope, written on the latter 'Opened by mistake,' and Japan would have received the plans, as undoubtedly she has been receiving others during the past few weeks.

"But this mail-sorter had sense. He looked at the address. He saw that the plans were addressed to one Itchi Marcy, a fruit merchant in this city. He wondered that a Japanese should be receiving copies of our military plans. He wondered and—late last night he brought the plans to me.

"Mr. Tenney, I was dumbfounded ~in consternation. Listen! The copies which the sorter brought to me were exact! Every detail of our planned mobilization of the troops in the southwest in the event of troubles With Mexico were outlined there. Yet, Mr. Tenney, the originals of those plans were not completed until five o'clock yesterday afternoon.

"I myself worked over the first draft, and when the final draft was completed I made changes, in my own handwriting, in it. I made those last changes at five o'clock. I happen to know, for I heard a clock striking at that moment. Now, then, in the room with me at the time—my private office in the War Department—were just two men: the First Assistant Secretary of War, and my stenographer.

"From two o'clock, when we commenced work on the plans, until six, when I locked the plans in my safe and left the office, no one entered the office, no one left it; no one even knocked upon the door. We three were absolutely alone.

"After the plans were completed at five o'clock I attended to other business, and it was six, by my own watch, when the three of us finally left the office. Yet, Mr. Tenney, those plans were mailed to Itchi Marcy shortly after five o'clock!"

"What's that?" cried Tenney.

The Secretary smiled wanly.

"I thought as you thought—impossible," he said wearily. "But look at this envelope."

He passed Tenney the envelope addressed to the Japanese fruit merchant. The operative looked at the cancellation mark across the stamps. Clearly he saw the time printed thereon, 5:30 p. m. of the previous day. The Secretary sighed.

"It was midnight," he resumed, "when the mail-sorter brought me this envelope. My first thought was to have my stenographer arrested. I would have done so but that I noticed the time of the cancellation. Then I was glad that I had not shamed an innocent man. For, Mr. Tenney, letters are not canceled until some time after they are dropped into letterboxes—until they reach the post-office. Even if the letter was brought directly to the post-office, it reached there half an hour before I—and the two others—left the office. So it was impossible that my stenographer—the First Assistant is beyond suspicion—could have mailed the envelope.

"Mr. Tenney, remember that those plans were exact copies of the ones in my safe. Remember that no one left, entered, or even knocked at the door between two and six. The windows of my office communicate with no other building; signaling was out of the question. Nor was a dictagraph employed to steal my dictation.

"In my desperation I went to the department last night at shortly after midnight—I examined the walls—no wires! Mr. Tenney, it is physically impossible that those plans left my office before six. Or afterwards—for they are still in my safe.

"And yet, some time between five and five-thirty, a copy of plans—exact in every detail—was mailed to a Japanese, who is undoubtedly an agent of his native land. Mr. Tenney, some one read my thoughts, and—how long has it been continuing? During the past weeks I've drawn up plans for mobilization of troops on the Atlantic Coast—on the Pacific. I've even drawn up plans of our coast fortifications.

"And if this relatively unimportant matter of mobilizing troops in the event of trouble with Mexico is conveyed to Japan, how am I to know that other matters— Hawaii, San Francisco, the Philippines— are not in her hands? I dare not think, I dare not plan—I'm not a fool, Mr. Tenney. And yet no one left my office, no one entered----"

"What's your stenographer's name?" demanded Tenney bruskly.

"James Colwell."

"His salary?"

"Thirty dollars a week. But, Mr. Tenney, why bother about him?"

"Did he make carbon copies of the plans?"

"Yes—two. But I have those in the safe, and——"

"Where did he come from?"

"He's a civil service employee, Mr. Tenney. I chose him because of his rapidity and general usefulness. But why bother about him? Haven't I made it clear that he could not have mailed the plans?"

"You've made it clear that some one mailed them," snapped Tenney. "And you don't really believe, in your heart of hearts, that any one has been reading your thoughts, do you?"

The Secretary smiled sheepishly.

"N-no, but—figures can't lie, Mr. Tenney. It was six when we left the office. It was before half-past five when the plans were mailed. And figures can't lie, Mr. Tenney; figures can't lie!"

"True enough," said Tenney, "but men can, can't they?"

The Secretary stared at him.

"What do you mean?"

"I'm not sure that I know myself what I mean," said Tenney. "But—you've told me everything. And Dilkes is the only man you've told besides me?"

The Secretary nodded.

"Good," said Tenney. "Now, then—you keep quiet about this matter. There's nothing gained by announcing it."

"Are you going to arrest the Jap—Marcy?" asked Dilkes.

"What's the use, now?" asked Tenney. "He'd not give up anything. And it would only warn whoever is selling the secrets."

"But what are you going to do?" cried the harassed Secretary.

Tenney grinned.

"Me? I'm going to put these plans in a fresh envelope and address them to Itchi Marcy."

The Secretary gasped.

"Give him the plans that we've saved?"

"And if we don't?" said Tenney smoothly. "Isn't their failure to arrive going to alarm him—and the man who supplies him? And whom do we want?"

"Wh-why—the man who sells the plans," stammered the Secretary.

"Right," said Tenney.

He started for the door. The Secretary half rose.

"You think you—can discover him?"

Tenney laughed.

"I know where he is right now."

The Secretary stared.

"Then arrest him! Arrest him! Let's get a file of marines, and——"

But Tenney shook his head.

"I said I know where he is: that isn't saying I can prove anything. You'll hear from me within twenty-four hours."

He nodded bruskly and was gone. The Secretary stared at the Chief of the Secret Service.

"Are you sure the man is capable?" he asked. "Remember how important the matter is; and he treats it carelessly. He says he knows; he—figures can't lie, Dilkes; figures can't lie!"

"But Tenney said that men can," replied the Chief.

"And what did he mean?"

Dilkes stared at the Secretary.

"Lord, Mr. Secretary, I never know what he means. But he said it, and I've noticed he never says anything without a reason. But the desperate cabinet officer could only pass his hand across his brow as if to wipe away the agony for which the departure of Tenney and his confident manner had made room.

BUT Tenney did not mail the plans to Itchi Marcy. Tenney was not above changing his mind. In a corner of a quiet cafe to which he repaired after leaving the Chief's office, Tenney thought.

Tenney was neither a faker nor a bluffer. His confidence when he left the Secretary had not been assumed. He had his own reasons for confidence.

"It's half the battle," he used to say. "If I'm dead sure that I'm going to get what I'm after, I don't have time to think about the possibility of losing out, and if I don't think about losing, well—I don't lose."

But now, as he mused over a bottle of lithia water, some of Tenney's past success-born confidence oozed away from him. The hopeful scientist, on the seeming verge of a great discovery, is brought to recognition of failure by the contemplation of the figures of his last test—for he knows the figures do not lie. Matter-of-fact, almost phlegmatic, was Tenney; that disembodied spirits had copied the plans, Tenney did not believe. And yet—figures could not lie, as the Secretary had hopelessly declared.

Didn't the Japanese boast of a culture, an education, a religion, that went back to those ages before Christianity dawned? Didn't intelligent men claim that the ancient civilizations of Asia were close to the scheme of the Universe and the Powers that planned the scheme? For one fraction of a second Tenney felt his flesh crawl.

Then he drained his glass, rose to his feet and took his heavy way out of the café. This was the twentieth century; for even physical effect, there was a physical reason. Such was Tenney's philosophy, and by it he would abide. What he had told the Secretary was true; he knew where the man was who had sold the secrets; he must know, or else black magic existed in these sane days. But who the man was was different from where he was. The where was easy; the who—Tenney's lips hardened as he struck away from the café.

He examined the typewritten address on the envelope addressed to the Japanese fruiterer. Of course each Typewriter had its own distinct identity. But to trace the identity—it wasn't even worth while to examine the machines in the War Department. The man clever enough to effect this treason was not fool enough to use a machine that might be traced. He had probably gone to any one of a hundred places where he might use a machine for a few minutes. It would mean weeks of laborious search to trace the machine. Tenney shook his head; he wouldn't do it. Whoever the traitor was, he was nothing short of a genius in his cunning. Genius—that was it.

"Yet genius," said Tenney to himself, "is merely the art of taking pains. This fellow took infinite pains to prove that an apparent impossibility had been effected. Why? So that in the event of discovery he would never be suspected."

He stopped short in his walk and scratched his head. Suddenly he laughed to himself.

"If I try thinking this out," he told himself, "I'll go as bug as the Secretary is getting. Nix! I'll do something!"

He strode toward the post-office. Carelessly, he had neglected to take the name of the mail-sorter. He would not go back and ask the Secretary for it, for the post-office was close at hand; he could find the name there. And so he did; his gold badge gave him access to the list of employees and their hours of duty. It was not Tenney's method to ask directly for information when indirection accomplished the same thing. Direction crystallized suspicion; there was no reason why the postal people should know of his wish to see the sorter. So why let them know? Why give them opportunity to talk?

Tenney took the list and ran over it; he found the name of Michael Clarke, sorter, hours from 4 P.M. to midnight. He must be the man who had notified the Secretary of the treason. Tenney started to fold up the list, his eye running idly down the columns of names as he did so. As though printed in letters of flame, he saw the name, Henry- Davis. The camera eye begets the photographic brain. He knew the name, and the face that the name belonged to stood before his mental eyes. Yet Tenney did not start, gave no sign of emotion. He merely folded the paper neatly and handed it to the chief clerk who had procured it for him with a languid thanks.

"Hope there's no scandal in our department," said the clerk anxiously.

"If there were I'd be liable to tell you, wouldn't I?" grinned Tenney.

And then he left the building, his entire plan of action changed. He had intended to visit the sorter, in order to go over carefully the latter's tale of the discovery. He had intended to mail the plans to Marcv that suspicion might not be aroused. Better to let the Japs get one more secret than so to alarm the plotters that they might further conceal their identities and methods. But now——

"It's a hunch," said Tenney, "it's a hunch! But so's most of this game."

For Tenney was frank, even with himself. He knew that common sense, application and luck were the chief elements of the criminologist's success. The first two he had always; the third he seized upon whensoever he might.

THE landlady of the modest boarding house was most loquacious.

"Far be it from a widow woman with her living to make to gossip about her guests, Mr. Davis," she said, "but, honest, I'm glad you're here. Your brother is always reg'lar with his rent money, Mr. Davis, and I dunno's I have any call to say anything at all about him; but me taking a sort of interest in all my guests, and you being his own brother seems like my conscience compels me to tell you that your brother is carrying on awful, Mr. Davis."

"Boys will be boys, Mrs. Paxton," grinned the pseudo Davis.

"I know that, Mr. Davis, and your brother is a nice-mannered boy, too. But he ain't been to home at all last night. And last week he was out three whole nights and the week before that four times, and—I don't want you should repeat all this. But when your brother came here a year ago he was as nice a young man as I'd want to meet.

"But lately—he's got in bad company, Mr. Davis. I knew it,; for in his room I've found racin' papers, and pieces of cardboard that I know are bettin' tickets. My poor dead husband had that bad habit—playin' the races, Mr. Davis, and I know' the bettin' tickets when I see 'em. It led my husband to drink and then—I'm a widow woman, now, Mr. Davis, and I feel it's my Christian duty to tell you about your young brother so's you can snatch him from the burnin', Mr. Davis. And if you're offended and get him to move—well, I've done my duty Mr. Davis."

"I'm not offended," was her visitor's answer. "I appreciate your kindness. I shall certainly lecture my brother."

"You certainly ought to, sir," said the landlady. "Him bettin' two hundred at a clip—I dunno how he does it on his salary. He's headed for ruin, sir, if you'll excuse a Christian woman for sayin' what it's her bounden duty to say."

"Thank you, Mrs. Paxton," was the grave answer. "I'll see Henry today. Good afternoon. I'm only sorry that he wasn't at home. But you tell him of my call if he comes home before I get back. Have him stay in."

"I will, sir," promised the landlady.

Whereupon Tenney, making mental note to send the landlady a twenty-dollar bill for the information which she had given to the alleged brother of the young mail clerk, Henry Davis, departed from the house of the valuable and good-hearted Mrs. Paxton. Around the comer he found a drug store wherein was a Washington directory. He turned to the C's. Shortly he was in possession of the information that James Colwell, clerk in the War Department, lived at an address near Dupont Circle. Tenney's eyebrows were raised. He smiled and bent his steps in the direction of the stenographer's address. It was a private hotel, one of the best. Colwell's entire weekly salary would hardly pay the stenographer's rent, much less clothe and feed him.

"It's a wonder," said Tenney to himself, "that the main guys don't look after their employees more. Trust a man with important, priceless secrets, and never investigate to see what's liis manner of living!"

He grunted disgust at the fatuousness that trusted without investigation, and left the neighborhood. Half an hour later he entered the fruit store of Itchi Marcy. There happened to be no customers in the store at the moment, and a white clerk was engaged in piling fruit in attractive pyramids. Tenney walked past him and addressed himself to a bright-eyed Japanese who sat at a desk. From an inner pocket the Secret Service man pulled the bundle of plans, in a plain envelope. He laid them on Marcy's desk.

"I suppose you were alarmed because they hadn't come, eh?"

The Jap looked up suspiciously; he opened the envelope and glanced at the contents.

"Why were they sent this way?" he asked.

"Getting a little leery of the mail," was Tenney's answer. "It looked safer this way."

"Who are you?" demanded Marcy.

"Oh, I'm just a friend," smiled Tenney. "I'm getting mine, which reminds me, he—you know who I mean—says he needs a bunch of coin today. Anything doing?"

The Jap looked again at the envelope's contents. If he had any suspicion it vanished at a closer examination of the papers. He unlocked his safe, placing the papers therein and at the same time extracting from a drawer some bills of a denomination quite large to be in the possession of a retail fruiterer. He handed the money to Tenney. The latter shook his head. He achieved a sullenly sheepish look.

"Put it in an envelope," he said, "and seal it. He—he don't trust me a whole lot, —— him, and he'll swear I copped some for myself if it ain't in an envelope."

Again the Jap looked curiously at Tenney. But he made no demur. He placed the bills in an envelope, sealed it, and handed it to Tenney. The latter shook his head.

"Address it," he demanded.

The Jap's eyes gleamed; his hand shot forth and pulled open Tenney's coat; the useful little gold badge with the insignia of the Secret Service was revealed. Marcy's other hand shot to a drawer in his desk, but Tenney had recovered from his first surprise; his fingers closed around the wrist of Marcy. There was a wrench, a straining heave, and the Jap was hurled from his chair and lay twitching upon the floor. Before the white clerk had gathered his startled wits, Tenney was at the door, whistling peculiarly. A blue uniform came around the corner and its wearer saw the upraised finger of Tenney and came down the street on the run. The operative turned to the alarmed clerk.

"Nothin's goin' to happen to you, son; this isn't a hold-up. Your boss is going on a little visit with this gentleman." And he indicated the policeman. To the latter he showed his badge. "Lock that Jap up," he said. "Tell the Captain that no one is to see him, not if it's the Jap Ambassador. Tell him it's the Secret Service. Got me?"

The policeman, dazed but understanding, nodded. He bent over the form of Marcy.

"A little water, that's all," said Tenney. "He was going to use a gun on me, but I beat him at his own game; I knew a little jiu-jitsu. Ring up the patrol, lock up this store, and put him in a cell. I'll be around tonight to make a charge. And mind you. No lawyers—nobody—to see him."

Again the officer nodded assent. Tenney walked to the safe and calmly abstracted the plans which had just been sold to the Japanese. Then he left the fruit store, a smile of chagrin wreathing his lips.

"I fell down there," he said 'But that doesn't prove that I'm not right. Marcy was too clever, but—I don't believe the other fellow is."

He hailed a passing taxi and directed that he be driven to the Bennings racetrack. Half an hour later, in the betting-ring, he found the man for whom he was looking, Mr. Peter Firkins, the wine-bibber of the morning. Firkins was under the influence of liquor, but not completely so, by any manner of means. As the negro waiter had said, Firkins must have been hollow; or else much practise enabled him to carry much liquor. The man was just drunk enough to be ugly.

He was standing before a betting-stool, angrily tearing up tickets on the last race when Tenney sighted him. There was on his face the scowl of the bad loser. By his side was one of the touts of the morning, apparently pleading with Firkins to follow his judgment in the next race. But Firkins had evdiently been losing on the first three races—it was mid-afternoon now, and half the day's card had been run off.

For he waved the tout away from him. refusing to be cajoled. The tout slunk sulkily away and Tenney approached the buyer of champagne. He touched him on the shoulder and Firkins turned.

"Well, what do you want?" he demanded angrily.

"The apple-cart's upset," said Tenney with an air of caution. "I was told to tip you off."

The drunken man stared; slowly the cryptic meaning of Tenney's words penetrated his intelligence.

"You mean that Marcy——"

The strong fingers of Tenney gripped the man's wrist.

"Well, Mr. Henry Davis, otherwise Peter Firkins, I guess that's enough. Come along with me!"

AT EIGHT o'clock that same night Tenney entered the private office of the Secretary of War. Already in the room were the Secretary, Dilkes, Stenographer Colwell, and FirstAssistant Secretary Jamieson. The eager Secretary did not bother to make introductions; he did not wait until Tenney was fairly within the room.

"Have you got him? Have you got him? You phoned that——"

"I know where he is," said Tenney. "But before I tell his name, before an arrest is made, maybe you'd like to be as certain as I am."

"Of course, of course," cried the Secretary. "Tell us—tell us how you——"

Tenney sank into a chair. As he did so he squirmed and reached behind him; he pulled forth a revolver and laid it on his knees.

"Excuse me," he said, "but sitting on knobby steel ain't pleasant." He looked about him at his auditors, a hard light in his eyes.

"Never go anywhere without this little gun," he said. "I can sure use it, too."

Then he leaned comfortably back in his chair, playing, with apparent idleness, with his weapon. Dilkes, unseen by the others, loosened his own revolver in the patent holster in his waistcoat. Dilkes, of them all, was the only one who knew that Tenney never played with deadly weapons. Dilkes wanted to be ready.

"This morning," said Tenney, "I saw a man buying wine. Nothing strange about that durin' the racin' season, only—I knew the man's face and didn't know his name. And when I saw his name on a hotel register the name didn't fit the face. Something queer about that, gentlemen.

"I'm not infallible—not by a long shot, but give me face and give me name and I'll remember the time and place where I met the man if it was thirty years ago. But I'd never met a man named Peter Firkins, which* was the name of my wine-buying friend. Funny thing, for I knew his face.

"I forgot the little puzzle a while later, though, for you, Mr. Secretary, gave me something else to think about. But the puzzle came back to me a while later, for I happened to be in the post-office and there I saw a name that fitted the face of the wine party. And name and face brought back time and event; I'd seen my wine-buying friend two years ago, in the post-office, during an investigation. I'd learned his name, then.

"Well, gentlemen, I was on another case, and the fact that a postal clerk was using another name didn't interest me just then. At least, it wouldn't have interested me if it hadn't happened that this clerk's hours were from two until ten, and if it hadn't also happened that between those hours he canceled all the mail that came from a certain city district.

"Yes, gentlemen, this clerk Davis, that I'd seen masquerading as Firkins, took in all the letters that certain carriers brought to the post-office between two and ten. And among those certain carriers were the carriers who collected mail from the War Department or the near vicinity. Yes, his hours and duties were all printed on the paper the post-office people showed me.

"And gentlemen, that made me mighty interested in Davis-Firkins. For some one ?was stealing War-Department secrets and selling them to the Japs. And, gentlemen, it was impossible for any one but the Secretary, his Assistant, or his stenographer, to steal these secrets."

His fingers closed about his gun and his stem eyes swept the room.

"Don't any one move, please, until I've finished," he snapped. Then he resumed. "It also seemed impossible for any of these three to be the guilty party. But, gentlemen, it was impossible for an outsider to steal the secrets; it only seemed impossible for the Secretary, his Assistant, or his stenographer, to steal them.

"The stolen plans were mailed, gentlemen! They were mailed—so that no person could be traced—to an agent of Japan. It seemed impossible that any of the three persons I've named could have mailed those plans, because the envelope containing them was postmarked at 5:30 P. M., and none left the office until six. And figures can't lie. But I saw the way in which the man who made the figures could lie!

"I saw the way, and I had seen the man who had it in his power to save the traitor from suspicion in the event of discovery of the theft of the plans; I had seen that postal clerk buying champagne in the company of racing men—men who were with him to bleed him.

"Gentlemen. I looked up the postal clerk. I found that he was poor not so very long ago; that he had no money outside his salary; that no inheritance had been left him. I then looked up one of the three men who knew of the plans, because he had helped draw them up. Then I arrested the agent of Japan. Then I arrested Davis-Firkins, and he gave himself away. Some one," he drawled, "might as well do a little confessing; it's good for the soul."

For a moment there was a dead silence. Then the Secretary spoke.

"Did the Jap speak? Did the postal clerk confess?"

Tenney shook his head.

"Neither of them; haven't bothered to question them. I know without them. The plans were mailed to Marcy last night—after six! The man who mailed them dreaded discovery; he feared to deliver the plans in person, or through an agent lest he be traced. So he mailed them. But even then there might be discovery, as indeed there was. And he was cautious—oh, cautious as the devil makes his own who betray their native land! So he bribed a postal clerk; bribed him to stamp letters with a cancellation mark timed earlier than the letters were mailed. It was clever— too clever!

"If the traitor had made it seem possible that an outsider had stolen the plans he might not have been suspected. But the traitor had to come to this building to get the plans; he wanted his after-hours visit to seem innocent. And so it would have seemed, with the envelope canceled hours before that night visit, if it had not been that the tool he used was weak; if it had not been that Davis could not stand prosperity and that I—that I'm lucky.

"As it is—Colwell, you might as well own up. Why, I even know that you own a portable typewriter which you brought in here, lest the print of the office machine be recognized."

The stenographer leaped to his feet. "I? Own up? For God's sake, Mr. Detective, you don't accuse me of—of betraying my country?"

"You live in one of the most expensive private hotels in the city," snapped Tenney, "and your salary is thirty dollars a week. Care to own up? It may make things easier for you!"

Colwell turned to the Secretary.

"Mr. Secretary, you won't listen to this man's jumble of falsehoods! I—why, I don't know what he's talking about. As for my money—my living at the Allerton, why—you yourself know that my family is wealthy; that I only entered the Department because I chose it for my career. You—don't believe him—don't—with his absurd deductions, his drunken men, his postal clerks, his——"

Tenney rose and walked to the door.

"You don't have to believe me, Mr. Secretary; the night-watchman who let him into the building at eight o'clock last night is outside."

He flung the door open.

"Cavanaugh," he said to the man standing outside, "come in. Point out the man you admitted into the building last night. You told me that you let a man in here, and that he carried a bundle about the size of a portable typewriter. You said you thought nothing of it because he'd done it several times before, saying he had work to make up. I didn't ask you his name because I knew it. Point him out, Cavanaugh!"

The watchman rubbed his hands nervously together.

"Why, you ain't forgotten me letting you in last night, have you, Mr. Jamieson?"

There was torturing silence for a moment. Then Tenney gently pushed the watchman out and closed the door. He stared down at the First-Assistant Secretary of War, the "man above suspicion," who had sunk into a chair, his face hidden in his hands.

"Jamieson, Jamieson!" gasped the Secretary. "Not you, not you! My own Assistant, appointed by the President himself! Not you, whose grandfather was at Chapultepec, whose father was at Gettysburg, whose brother died in Cuba! Not you—not you—Jamieson! Not you!"

There came no answer from the stricken traitor. The Secretary's horrified grief turned to anger. He strode to the limp figure in the chair and shook him. No answer; he bent over him, pulling the shielding hands from the face. A moment he stared; then he arose, shocked sadness in his eyes. He straightened the hands of the man whom discovery had slain.

"It's better this way, far better," he said. "The name of Jamieson stands high in the nation's scroll of heroes. Let us forget."

"I'M willing to hand it to you, Tenney," said Dilkes, next morning, "You certainly tackled a hard proposition, and not even your luck can take away your credit. But, old man, when you told us you knew the traitor, weren't you—er—patting yourself a bit on the back? Weren't you—er—bragging when you said, before you began work on the case, that you knew the identity of the traitor?"

Tenney grinned.

"You ain't got the memory I have, Chief, or else you'd know that I didn't say that I knew who the traitor was; I said I knew where he was! I knew he was in the War Department all the time. Come again, Chief, you ain't caught me yet!"

"I wonder if any one ever will," said Dilkes thoughtfully.