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DAN DUNN, SECRET OPERATIVE 48, . . . and the Hotel Washington Murder


DAN Dunn, Secret Operative 48, stepped into the Chief's office.

"Well, Chief," smiled Dan.

"Remember the counterfeiting case that developed when you were after the Crime Master?"

Dan nodded.

"Well," explained the Chief, "I put Operative 56 on it. Two days ago he wired that he had registered at the Hotel Washington. Since then I haven't heard a word."

"That may be nothing to worry about," remarked Dan.

"I have a hunch," said the Chief gloomily, "that our operative's in trouble. What's more, this flow of phoney money has to be stopped."

Dan whistled.

"Dan," the Chief went on, "maybe Operative 56 has been snatched or taken for a ride. If he's alive I want him—and I want the makers of those counterfeits put behind the bars."

Secret Operative 48 smiled grimly and put on his hat.

"All right, Chief. I'll go up to the Hotel Washington and have a look around. Have you any clues except those phoney bills and the telegram?"

"No," growled the Chief. "You now know as much about the case as I do."

"Okay," said Dan. "Leave it to me."

"Good luck, Dan," said the Chief earnestly, "and take care of yourself."

Four hours later Dan had completed his journey and was talking with the manager of the Hotel Washington.

"No trouble for the hotel, I hope!" muttered the manager.

"No," said Dan, "if you'll talk."

"Go ahead," said the manager.

"Remember a man named George Potter who came here two days ago?"

The manager smiled ruefully.

"I was afraid you would ask about him."

"Afraid?" exclaimed Dan. "Quick! What do you know?"

"Well," said the hotel man, "he took Room 604. A clerk at the desk saw him come in last night, but we haven't seen him since. Funny part of it is, his light was on all night, and this morning the chambermaid couldn't get into his room. A key was in the lock on the inside."

"Oh," said Dan thoughtfully. "That IS funny."

"I hope, sir," stammered the worried manager, "that this won't mean any bad publicity for the hotel."

Dan followed the manager out of the office and into an elevator. A few minutes later they were standing before the door of Room 604. It was late afternoon, and the lights were on in the hall.

Dan knocked sharply on the door several times, but there was no answer. He looked at the manager significantly.

"Sorry, but I've got to break down that door."

Dan took a step backward. Then his powerful shoulder struck the door. As it tore from its hinges and fell, Dan and the manager stepped over it into the room.

"Look!" cried the horrified manager.

Near a window in the corner a bridge lamp shed its light over the floor. Behind a chair under the lamp Dan saw the motionless legs of a man.

Dan wasted no words. In a moment he was bending over the body.

"Operative 56!" he whispered. "Shot through the back of the head!"

"In my hotel!" groaned the manager, wringing his hands.

"He was shot last night," said Dan, rising. "Did you hear a shot in the hotel?"

The manager shook his head.

"Probably a silencer was used," muttered Dan. "Well, a silencer won't save even the cleverest crook."

"Can't we keep this out of the papers?" begged the manager.

"Maybe," said Dan. "But right now you can call the police."

Soon the city police arrived. Don returned with them to headquarters and consulted the chief. After considerable difficulty he persuaded the chief to give him a free hand in the case for two days.

"We'll have to step in at the end of that time," the police chief said.

"You won't have to," Dan answered. "The murdered man was my friend."

Dan returned to the hotel and registered. A bellhop led the way to a room.

"I suppose," remarked Dan amiably as the boy inserted his key in the door, "you meet all kinds of folks around here."

"Yep," said the boy carelessly, "good eggs and bad ones."

"Bad ones?" inquired Dan.

"Yep," said the boy. "Now take those guys in the 612 suite downstairs. They tip swell. But I don't like the way they look at a fella."

"What do you mean—'tip swell'?" asked Dan.

"They gave me ten smackers for watching a man for them yesterday."

Dan smiled curiously.

"What man?"

The bellboy looked at him narrowly.

"Maybe I ain't telling."

Dan grinned at him disarmingly. "If you'll tell me who the man was, I'll give you a twenty for the ten you've got."

"Okay," said the boy. "It was the man in 604. I told 'em everything he did in the hotel. Now, how about that twenty?"

Dan took his ten-dollar bill and gave him the twenty. The bellhop hurried away, as if he feared that Dan might think better of his bargain.

Dan studied the ten-dollar bill. It was soiled and crumpled. Apparently it had been long in circulation.

Twenty minutes later he stepped into the laboratory at police headquarters. The chief chemist greeted him warmly.

"Doctor Welles," said Dan, "I want you to test this bill for salt."

"Salt?" asked the chemist.

"Yes," said Dan.

Soon the chemist returned with the bill. "Not a bit of salt in this," he said. "Why did you want to know?"

"An old piece of paper money," smiled Dan, "has taken in a lot of perspiration from people's hands."

"Then," said Doctor Welles quickly, "this bill looks like an old one, but it isn't. It's been artificially dirtied. It's a—"

"Phoney," finished Dan. "Good-night."

An hour later Dan knocked on the door of Suite 612 in the Hotel Washington. A lean, sour-faced man opened the door.

"Excuse me," said Dan in a humble voice, "but would you care to buy a ticket for the—"

The sour-faced man made a motion to close the door in Dan's face. Dan's right hand, which had been half raised in a pleading gesture, suddenly clenched. It drove forward like a flash and caught the man full on the chin. He dropped with a groan.

Closing the door behind him, Dan stepped into the lighted room.

"Nobody else here," he said to himself.

He stooped and dragged the unconscious man into a coat closet near the entrance to the room. Pulling a coil of strong cord and a handkerchief from his pockets, he bound and gagged his prisoner. Then he locked the door of the closet.

"Now," thought Dan, "for the other rooms of the suite! "

He tiptoed to a door and put his ear against it. No sound came from within. He opened the door slowly and stepped into the dark room. He ran his hand over the wall, found the switch, and flooded the room with light.

He gasped at what was revealed.

The room was a first-class printing and engraving establishment—small, but modern in every detail. The walls of the room had been sound-proofed. The plates and the little power press showed at once that the phoney money which had fooled bank cashiers had come from this hotel.

"A sweet set-up!" muttered Dan. "Who would ever think of looking in a big hotel for a bunch of counterfeiters and their plant? Well, they—"

"Reach, copper!"

Feeling the muzzle of a gun in his back, Dan raised his hands. His automatic was removed from his pocket. He turned to see a tough-looking man in a checkered cap.

Dan gazed at him coldly.

"Well, now you've come to pay us a visit, Dan Dunn," grunted the man with the gun, "you'll have to stay a while."

Dan refused to give the man the satisfaction of seeing him look uneasy.

"Put away that gun!" he commanded. "You're discovered here and your gang's through for now and always."

"Yeah?" snarled the gunman. "Get on into that room! "

He gestured toward a door in the corner. Dan slowly walked toward it, and the gunman opened it.

"Snap out of it! " said Dan's captor.

Dan stepped into the dark room. The door slammed shut, and the lock clicked.

"Guess he doesn't know that one of the gang's in that closet outside," thought Dan. "He must have been in this room while I was looking around next door. But how am I going to get out of here?"

Suddenly he smiled in the darkness.

"It MIGHT work! The fellow looks pretty dumb."

He took a chair and began throwing it about in the darkness. He growled and yelled in imitation of two men fighting.

Almost instantly the door was flung open and the astonished gunman appeared. As he burst into the room, Dan greeted him with a blow between the eyes that bowled him over onto the floor.

Dan's groping hand found a light switch and pressed the button. Dan saw that he was in another part of the gang's workshop.

After recovering his gun, he bound and gagged the second counterfeiter. He turned off the light and, locking the door, returned to the adjoining room.

"Two," he murmured. "The manager said there were three."

Passing through the main workshop, Dan re-entered the sitting room.

"No more doors," he reflected.

He opened the door of the coat closet and looked at his first prisoner. The man was conscious and rolling in his bonds, but unable to utter a sound. Dan, remembering the fate of his friend, felt no pity for the crook. He stepped out of the closet and locked the door again.

"Guess there's nothing else to do but wait for the others," he thought grimly.

Noticing that the room was uncomfortably warm, he took off his coat and opened a window over the fire escape. Then he sat down in a big chair that gave him a view of all doors in the room.

He did not see the shadow that appeared outside one of the closed windows.

"Dan Dunn!" it whispered fiercely. "This will be your last case!"

Dan shifted in his chair. The shadow quickly stepped behind the wall. When the detective looked settled again, the shadow moved cautiously to the open window. Slowly it stepped into the room.

An automatic with a strange-looking device on the muzzle was leveled at the back of Dan's head.

A split second before the pf-f-t of the silenced pistol, Dan heard the floor creak under the intruder's step. Fie threw himself forward in his chair, and the bullet went over his head, knocking plaster from the wall. As the black-coated assassin fired again, Dan's pistol spoke from behind the chair. The man shrieked and dropped his weapon as the heavy bullet shattered a bone in his forearm.

"So that's your technique!" snapped Dan. "That's how you shot the man in 604 last night."

The man started to edge toward the window.

"None of that! " ordered Dan, flourishing his automatic. "Take off that mask!"

The killer hesitated momentarily, but the expression on Dan's face told him that the game was up. Fie slowly removed the mask.

"The Weasel!" exclaimed Dan, recognizing a famous gunman and counterfeiter whom the police and the government had wanted for nearly a year.

The Weasel submitted to being bound and gagged. Then Dan stepped to the telephone and called police headquarters.

"Come and get 'em, Chief!" he said.