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DAN DUNN SECRET OPERATIVE 48
and the Border Smugglers


CHAPTER I
A MIDNIGHT CALL

The incessant ringing of the telephone finally woke Dan Dunn, Secret Operative 48, from deep slumber. But keyed up for immediate action, even in his sleep, Dan was wide awake when he reached for the 'phone.

"Hello... hello, who is this?" he spoke tersely into the transmitter. "Operative Thoman? Yes. Yes, what is it?"

Suddenly, as he listened to the voice on the other end of the wire, he jumped from the bed.

"Jones was shot?" he shouted. "He's at the hospital? I'll be there! Wait for me!"

Dan dressed hurriedly. As he was about to leave, the door into the other bedroom opened, and Babs, his adopted daughter, stepped out.

At the girl's side was Wolf, Dan's police dog, who had helped catch many a criminal.

"Oh, hello, Babs; did I awaken you?"

"Yes, Mr. Dan," she said. "Where are you going this time of the night?"

"There is a little trouble and I've got to go to the office. Better climb back in bed and get some more shut-eye."

The little girl obediently did as she was told.

When Dan got to the hospital, he lost no time in getting the facts. Jones, one of Dan's best operatives, had been shot and was in a serious condition. Talking it over with Thoman, who had called Dan, Dan decided it must have been one of the smugglers. A lot of aliens were being smuggled into the country and Jones had been hot on their trail.

But Jones was the only operative on the case, and Dan knew he was the only one who could give him any helpful information.

Dan was talking to the doctor.

"We must wait, doctor. If he regains consciousness he may be able to give us some information."

"I'm afraid, Mr. Dunn, that Jones is through," the doctor answered. "He has a very bad wound."

The doctor was right. As Dan stood by the bedside, Jones came to for just a moment.

"O-o-oh, Dan? I—It was—girl—big g-green—eyes," was all the information they could get from the dying man.

Meanwhile, in a residential section of the city, a woman sat toying with her coffee. Her greenish eyes were filled with hatred as she looked at the morning paper.

"Humph! That fool operative! He's been trying to get at me for months; and last night he nearly spoiled my game. Well, he won't bother me any more."

She slammed the paper down on the table and rang a bell at her side. The door opened and Andy, her chauffeur, came in.

"Andy, I want the car in half an hour."

"Yeah, Sheila. Say, I see by the papers that the detective who was shot last night died this morning. Heh! I wonder who cud have done it?"

But Sheila had no time for talking. She prepared herself for going out.

Later, in the swanky office of the big boss, she would never have been recognized as the sleek lady of a while ago.

"I came for orders, Jug," she said, her eyes concealed behind dark glasses.

Jug, head of the smuggling ring chewed on the stub of a cigar.

"You'll have the heat on us now, Sheila," he reprimanded. "The place you're wrong is in not being careful so that you don't have to shoot."

"You tell me how," Sheila said,=. "We get the foreigners into the country, all right; but it's getting 'em away from the plant and into the city that's dangerous."

"Yeh, that's the weak spot; we'll have to fix that. From now on we'll take 'em to Oakville an' put 'em on the train there. They'll never see San Fragel."

"Yeh, that's a good idea, Jug," Sheila answered, as she got up to go. "These coppers will never catch us; our game is far too perfect."

But they failed to reckon with a group of operatives who, under the leadership of Dan Dunn, had sworn to get the murderers of their buddy, Jones. A few days later, Dan was talking to them very seriously at his office.

"T want all of you to be on the alert. Anything you think may be a clue, must be turned over to me." He pounded his fist on the desk. "From now on I'm taking charge of this case, personally!"

CHAPTER 2
THE SMUGGLERS' LAIR

Dan was true to his pledge. He immediately went home, packed a small valise, and said farewell to his family. Kay, Dan's sweetheart, was there to say good-bye.

"Yes, Kay," Dan was saying, "I've got to attend to that smuggling case. The rats who got Jones must be punished."

"All I want you to do, Dan, is to take as good care of yourself as I will of Babs. Please be careful."

Dan smiled and promised.

With Babs left in the care of Kay, Dan left for the airport and hopped a plane for the seacoast town of Cuaga, where he suspected the smugglers operated.

After Dan had cleared the Customs, he proceeded up the narrow street.

Dozens of Mexican peons were about. A swarthy-faced figure shrouded in an Indian blanket approached him. Hidden beneath his colorful blanket was a camera and unseen by Dan, he snapped picture.

"You will buy a souvenir Señor?"

"No! No! Not today," Dan answered as he continued up the street.

The peon's eyes followed him like a cat's.

"Ha! Ha! The boss, he gives me a peso for each report about northern strangers who enter this town. I am lucky; I overhear this one's name. It is Dunn!"

Dan would have been a long way toward locating the smugglers if he could have followed this blanketed figure as he shuffled up the street. Halting before a door, the souvenir seller knocked three times in rapid succession.

"It is me, Señor Boss, with information!"

"Enter quickly, and cease the loud noises!" came a coarse voice from within.

Once inside, the peon hastily told of the arrival of a Mr. Dunn by plane. He received his pay, departed again, leaving the film behind.

Jose, the "smuggler" in charge of gathering the aliens together and sending them north, soon had the negative developed and brought the print out to the light, where he could examine it closely.

This name Dunn, it is familiar to me. If he is the same one it is best for me to be careful, for he is a great detective."

As he looked at the picture, he clinched his fist.

"Caramba! It is he. I have seen his picture many times in the paper." Jose looked worried. "We are sending fifteen aliens into the country tonight," he muttered in sullen contemplation. "He must not learn our secrets; I must something to stop him."

While Dan was making inquiries at the local police station and forming plans to obtain clues, he might have been a little uneasy had he known that someone was already making plans for him. Jose was wasting no time. He had to something about this dangerous new threat that had come to spoil his plans.

He was soon engaging the services of a beautiful Señorita.

"Conchita, I want you to get information from a man. He is stopping at the hotel. Find from him what his business is-why is here. Can you do it?"

"My friend, you insult the ability of Conchita," she said scornfully. "The information shall be obtained; but for it I must get a bonus!"

So when Dan, failing to get the local police interested in the smuggling game, set out to secure his own information, he was quickly spotted by Conchita as he sat down for a bite to eat in the hotel dining room.

Pondering the situation, wishing he might meet someone who could give him some information, his eyes followed the beautiful Señorita walking past his table. As she glided past, her purse dropped to the floor in front of Dan. He immediately retrieved it and handed it to the lady.

When a lady is dining alone, I she appreciates such gallant attention. May I thank you?" said Conchita, smiling coyly.

"The favor is small," Dan answered. "I am also alone; would you join me?"

He was thus playing right into the plans of Conchita. But Dan was considering himself fortunate for what he thought was an opportunity of picking up some clues. The two were soon seated at the same table.

Conchita tried to lead the conversation to the nature of his business in Cuaga, but Dan cleverly countered with a query concerning the principal activities of the seaport town.

"Ah, but this detective is a close-mouthed one," Conchita thought bitterly.

Her scheming mind went back to Jose, whom she knew would be furious at her failure.

But she must not fail. She would bring this detective to Jose and then he could do what he wanted with him.

"I must call home," she said suddenly. "My mother is not well and maybe she needs me."

As she went to make the 'phone call, Dan mused over the situation. He was certain that danger lurked behind the dark, narrow eyes of this woman, but he had to risk it.

Secret operative 48, as always, was determined to see his case through.

"When Conchita returned, she said, "I regret that I must go-But my family, would you care to meet them?"

Dan had a sort of hunch that his desire for information concerning the activities of the seaport town, was going to be fulfilled. Feeling for the bulge of his trusty automatic, he shrugged his shoulder and answered:

"Why, yes, I shall be glad to accompany you home."

They left the hotel together, they approached the far end of the town, Conchita pointed to a house in the shadows.

There, that is my home," she announced.

"But there are no lights in it?" I Dan questioned. "My family is in the courtyard. It is their custom, when the nights are fine, to enjoy the moonlight." Conchita considered this a good enough excuse. "Come," she continued.

"All right, Señorita, I will follow you," Dan said, wondering what had become of the sick mother.

As they entered the door, Conchita said, "Light no lights. father is eccentric and lights disturb him."

As soon as they had entered darkened room, a shadowy softly closed the door. Heavy bars slid noiselessly into place. Conchita turned to Dan.

"Stand there whilst I open door across the room. Otherwise you might stumble over a chair in the dark."

Dan thought, "Mm-m, I don't trust this woman." But all he said aloud was, "I'll wait."

The moments went by and no door opened. Dan knew it time for action.

"I'd better get my back to the wall and have my gun ready. I have a feeling that something going to happen. I'm sure she's in with the smugglers now."

"Señor, this way please," came Conchita's voice from across the room.

"All right, Conchita," Dan answered.

But as the secret operative stepped across the floor, it suddenly gave away-and he plunged the darkness below. Outside door of the room stood J...

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