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IN The Invisible Master, which appeared in the April issue of this magazine Edmond Hamilton created one of the finest detective stories of the year. But he has surpassed himself in the present tale of a sinister murder. Science, a simple yet baffling plot, rapid action and clever deduction are all combined to make a story which will keep you excited and mystified until the very end of the last chapter.

We read of the scientific discoveries and technic that Edmond Hamilton describes, we see accounts of these things in the papers every day. Yet the potential dangers to civilized society are disregarded and we have no means of knowing how many scientific criminals escape the meshes of the police nets. The events Mr. Hamilton describes may have happened-may be happening now-may happen tomorrow. Only the cleverest detective, well versed in modern science, can cope with the educated, and scientific, menace to society.

Are you a detective? Have you a talent for deduction? Then see if you name the murderer in this story.

The Murder in the Clinic



AS Carton poked his head into the little office, the man who sat at a desk there in a yellow pool of lamplight raised his head and saw him. He motioned to a chair.

"Come on in, Charlie," he invited. "How's business—uncovered any scandals today?"

Carton took the proffered chair wearily. "Nary a scandal, he answered despondently. "If this keeps up, Wade, half of the newspapers in New York are going to shut down for lack of something to write about."

Sergeant Wade smiled. "Well, there hasn't been nuch since the Invisible Master nearly wrecked the town, I admit. But that payroll killing yesterday—

"No good," Carton told him. "People just yawn at that bandit stuff these days. No, what the paper needs right now, Wade, is a sensational murder with—"

He broke off as the phone-bell jangled sharply. Wade reached for the instrument, spoke softly into it, then listened silently for a few minutes, chewing gun the while. He finally spoke again.

"We'll be right out there," he said quietly, and, as he hung up grasped the other phone on the desk; spoke sharply into it. "McIntyre? Two cars, and call Wilson and Claus and any other two that's in." Then as he turned to Carton— "Well, I think you get your wish, Carton, and a beat for you at that. Dr. Luther Braller was found murdered in his clinic ten minutes ago."

In moments the two cars that held the hastily assembled squad were flying out the lamp-rimmed lane of upper Broadway, sirens noisy at crossings. Carton peered ahead beside the calm detective-sergeant as they ripped northward. Little traffic was in the street to impede them, for it was more than an hour past midnight. New York lay in a great, irregular pattern of blinking lights behind them.

Mists were rolling up from the river eastward, veiling the street-lights with a soft nimbus of fog. The lonely hooting of tugs out in that fog came to their ears in a desolate repetition of sound. They shot past the great buildings of the university, silent and dark, and then in moments were turning into one of the odd tangle of slanting streets lying east of St. Nicholas Park.

Half-way down the short street of apartments and dwellings one building glowed from all its lower windows with yellow light. The cars squealed to a stop before it, disgorging men. Carton saw as he emerged that it was a large and old-fashioned brick dwelling with rather extensive yard or grounds, and that beside it stretched a more modern long and narrow brick building whose windows glowed also.

At the gate that led through the black iron fence a blue clad patrolman stood sentinel.

"All right, Farley," Wade greeted him. "You've been here since the first alarm?" "Since then, though small good I've done," the other affirmed. The odl fellow-the butlercame out in the street and screamed murder. I went in and to take a look, then put a call through to headquarters and then called Venetti and Rogers off their beats to help me. Venetti's in with the body in the clinic—that building beside the house—and Rogers is sticking with the butler."

In the Clinic

"HOLD everyone who comes, unless from headquarters, and tell me about it," Wade instructed. "Wilson, you and Claus can look over the clinic—the rest of you search the grounds. I'll get the butler's end of it first—Mac, you and Carton come along."

They strode through the gate and along a brick walk that diverged to lead both to the house and to the low building beside it. Carton noted the brass plate on the latter structure's entrance — "The Braller Clinic." They passed up the steps to the house, through a narrow reception hall into a long living-room to the right.

The living-room presented an odd contrast to the faded and old-fashioned exterior of the place. its somber walls were slashed across by the vivid colors of the draperies and floor-coverings. A bold, exotic room redolent of a strong and individual personality, Carton summarized.

There were in it the patrolman, Rogers, and an elderly and gray-haired man in butler's attire who was walking nervously to and fro. He was, quite obviously, a perfect type of the elderly servant, supercilious with outsiders. But horror had smashed now the polite mask of his countenance and as he came toward the newcomers his hands Were trembling.

"He's in the clinic—not-here!" he cried. "I found him there after I heard the shots—!"

"Yes, yes—we know," Wade soothed. But we'll talk it over and find out where we, stand before we look at him. You're Dr. Braller's butler, of course?"

The other nodded tremulously. "James is my name, sir. I have been Dr. Braller's butler for six years."

"Six years, eh? But you're not the only servant?"

"Oh, no, there are two maids and a cook and chauffeur, sir, but they always come in the morning and leave each night. Dr. Braller never liked servants around the place at night, and I was the only one allowed to sleep here."

Wade nodded understandingly, his quiet manner having already steadied the half-hysterical servant. "Well, James, suppose you tell us something about Dr. Braller—just the main facts about who he was and what kind of establishment he has here."

"But surely you've heard of him sir?" James marvelled. "Why, he was one of the most famous surgeons—"

"I know, but I'd like to hear the facts from you," Wade suggested.

The servant nodded doubtfully. "Dr. Braller, sir, is—was—only thirty-five, and has been one of New York's most brilliant surgeons since he came out of training ten years ago. He specialized from the first on facial operations and plastic surgery, and soon achieved a great reputation in that line. Six years ago he left the clinic he had been connected with, and bought this place, to start a clinic of his own."

"He had the clinic building outside erected beside this house. The Braller Clinic specialized entirely in facial surgery, and dealt, I may say, with only wealthy clients who required facial surgery. Rich men have come from all over the world, sir, to have Dr. Braller remedy some facial deformity, and as a plastic surgeon he was outranked by none."

"He had taken in with him two surgeons of his own age on starting the clinic, Dr. Harold RanBome and Dr. Lewis Jackson. They lived here with Dr. Braller, both being without family as he was, and from the very first the clinic was extremely successful, becoming indeed the last word m all matters of plastic surgery About four years ago though, Dr. Braller seemed to lose interest m the dime's routine work and began to occupy himself in experimentation, he said, upon another line.

Dr. Braller

"WHAT that line was he told none of us, not even his two associates. He had a good-sized addition built onto the rear of the clinic building, and with but one door opening into it, of which he alone had the key. I was never admitted into that section of the building and neither were Dr. Ransome or Dr Jackson. I am very sure that they knew no more than I just what work Dr. Braller was carrying out there, but whatever it was, it occupied most of his time and his two associates have been carrying on most of the clinic's work."

"The burden of its work was so much, indeed, that both finally felt the need for a vacation of some length, and so three months ago, in May, they arranged to suspend the clinic's work for a few months. Dr. Ransome departed for a little cabin he has up in the Adirondacks, while Dr. Jackson chose to cruise down the Atlantic coast in a small cabin-boat he owns. Both of them were to have returned by now, and in fact I was half expecting them to-night."

"When they left Dr. Braller immersed himself completely in his work of experimentation, and in these last three months since the departure of his associates had lived entirely in the back part of the clinic, his work-rooms, as he has often done before when absorbed m his work. I have not, in fact, seen him during all those three months, since he gave me my orders through the housephone and when I brought his meals and laundry and such things I merely left them in the front part of the clinic for him to come out and get then when he felt like it."

"You mean that he spent three solid months working back there at whatever he was doing without once coming out?" Wade demanded, and James nodded. "Yes, sir. He had told me before starting that he was going to try to finish a work that had engrossed him for years, and wanted no interruptions of any sort. I was a little worried about him, I admit, for I thought that he was working too hard, but in the face of his direct orders there was nothing that I could do. I cared for the house, then, and left his meals in the clinic at noon and at six in the evening and at one in the morning, it being his custom to eat them at those odd hours. But I did not see him or come into direct contact with him again until tonight."

"And tonight?" the Sergeant prompted. James' face paled.

"Tonight, sir, I had taken his supper from the house into the clinic at one as was my custom. I had left it by the door opening back into his workrooms and returned to the house to read the evening newspaper for a few minutes before retiring. But hardly had I settled down when there came two sharp shots from the clinic building. I knew at once that they were shots, and from there, and I rushed to the door and out onto the steps, just in time to see a dark figure running out through the gate into the street."

Wade's eyes were intent. "Just what kind of a figure, James?"

The servant spread his hands helplessly. "I really cannot say, sir. It was a man's figure, of —that I am sure, and I think wore a soft hat and long coat, though I could not say definitely as to that. It was just a shape in the mists by the gate, there for a moment and then gone."

The detective-sergeant nodded. "Go on."

"Well, sir, I did not think for the moment of the running figure but rushed into the clinic and there saw a terrible sight. The place was fully lit and the door leading into the back-section was open. Dr. Braller was crawling on hands and knees, blood pouring from his breast and blood on his lips. He saw me and seemed to make a tremendous effort to tell me something, a bubbling sound coming from his throat. He clutched the wounds in his breast from which his blood was flowing and with a terrible, agonized expression in his eyes said something to me of which I heard only one word, the rest drowned in the bubbling of blood in his throat. The word was a name, and the name was—'Ransome'!"

Who Is Ransome?

"RANSOME'!" Carton exclaimed.

"Yes, sir," said James, trembling. "Just that one name—'Ransome.' Before he could say more, blood gurgled from his mouth and it strangled whatever he was trying to say, and he fell. I ran to him, calling to him I think, but I saw at once he was dead, shot twice through the chest. I must have lost my head then, for the next thing I remember I was in the street calling for help. A patrolman came almost at once and when he saw what had happened called two others and telephoned you. And that is all I know, sir."

The butler was trembling still as he finished, and a curious silence held the long living-room, the ticking of a clock loud at its end. The scene he had pictured-the surgeon crawling forth and endeavoring to speak that supreme message that death had cut short-oppressed them all. But Wade's metter-of-fact voice broke the spell.

"James, you would know of anyone who was a strong enemy of Dr. Braller or who hated him for any reason. Was there any such person?"

The butler shook his head. "No one, sir, to my knowledge. Dr. Braller mingled very little with people outside a certain medical circle, spending almost all his spare time in the work that engrossed him so. He had no enemies."

"You've never heard him quarrelling with anyone, say?"

James hesitated, and Wade seized cat-like upon his hesitation. "Out with it, man—what did you hear?"

"It was really nothing, sir," James said reluctantly. "It occurred about three months ago, just before Dr. Ransome and Dr. Jackson left on their vacations. I went into the clinic to deliver a telegram and heard Dr. Braller and Ransome quarrelling about something. They seemed both to be very angry about something."

"And was Ransome by any chance threatening your master?"

Even more reluctantly James answered. "As a matter of fact, sir, they seemed to be, threatening each other. I did not hear what Dr. Braller said but I did hear a few words in Ransome's voice, though of course I retired at once. But they were so unusual that I remembered them. Dr. Ransome was saying, in a very loud voice—'I'm not threatening you, Braller, I'm just saying that if you don't I'll take the whole thing to—' that was all I heard, sir."

"Can you remember upon what day you heard that?"

The butler pondered. "That would be on May 18th, sir. I remember the date because on that morning Dr. Jackson left for his'vacation. Also on that afternoon I left upon a two-days vacationtrip to Boston myself, sir, and when I came back Dr. Ransome was gone also."

"And it was when you came back that Dr. Braller started his work in the clinic building's back-section?"

"Yes, sir, directly after I returned. He gave me the instructions I told you of, seeming very afraid that he would be interrupted. He went back into the clinic's rear-section then, and I never saw him again, sir, until tonight when he' staggered dying out of it."

Wade nodded thoughtfully. "Well, that will do for the time being, James. But wait—do you know who was Dr. Braller's attorney?"

"It was Ephraim Lely, sir."

"All right, then, and that will do. You'd better stay right here, though, James—you understand that as a material witness you mustn't leave without permission?"

As the pallid butler bowed and retired to the other end of the living-room, Wade considered for a moment and then beckoned to McIntyre.

"Mac, I want you to dig out Mr. Ephraim Lely, attorney, and find out whether Braller left any will or papers with him. If he did Lely's to get them at once—if he gets uppish tell him what's happened—and if there's a will or other important documents he's to give you the meat of them over the phone and bring them around as soon after as possible."

The Telephone

AND as the detective hastened out to the telephone in the hall to begin his task, Wade consulted a small black note-book and then shook his head softly. "May 18th, eh?" he said. "So Ransome quarrelled with Dr. Braller on May 18th."

"You've got something?" Carton challenged.

"Something," Wade admitted. "On the morning of May 18th, Charlie, young Dr. Ransome came in to see me."

"To see you?" the reporter repeated, and the other nodded.

"Yes, I'd met him once before in connection with some police work and he said he wanted advice from an authority. He said he'd come upon something that wasn't criminal in one sense but that was in another. He wouldn't give me a single detail, but said it would be a dirty mess if it was brought out, and wanted to know whether he'd be open to a blackmailing charge if he used the threat of police action to stop it. I told him rhe could follow that course and if it didn't do anything, could actually invoke the police. So he wrote down his telephone number and I called him next day about it. He said then, though, that it was all over and had turned out quite all right when he used a little threatening, and thanked me for my advice. That means that he went right from me back here that morning, and quarrelled with Dr. Braller."

"Then Ransome and Braller were at odds over something—and Braller cried Ransome's name when he was dying—!" Carton began excitedly, but the sergeant waved him aside.

"Spare me your tabloid theories for the time being, Carton. Let's go out and look over the set-up now—there'll be a bunch from headquarters messing around it before long."

They passed out of the house to find that mists were rolling still thicker from the Hudson eastward. The few trees they could glimpse in the darkness around the brick dwellings were dank and dripping in the fog. A clock in some nearby steeple bonged twice and was silent. It seemed, to the imaginative Carton, that in all the huge sleeping city could have been found no place or time more fitting for crime.

When they moved into the white-lit clinic-building they found Wilson and Claus busy in it, scrutinizing every square inch, while the swarthy patrolman Venetti watched them curiously. They grunted a negative to Wade's inquiry conearning the finding of weapon or prints. Carton saw that the clinic building proper held ordinary waiting rooms, consultation rooms, an X-Ray chamber, a laboratory and an operating room. All were small insize but with the finest of fittings. It was quiet evident that the butler was correct in limiting the clientele of the Braller Clinic to the fortunate few.

Passing through these rooms they came to the tall heavy door leading into the added back-section of the building. It was open and just outside of it there lay on his side the figure of a tall and athletic man. Just attained to middle-age he seemed with dark hair beaked hawk-nose, and a dark Van Dyke beard. The strong and dominant features held their strength even in death, sinister through that strength was in expression. Blood was on the mouth and welled over the breast of the short white laboratory-jacket. The dark eyes were open, staring.

Wade rose finally from his scrutiny. "Braller all right," he said. "Made an ass of me once in giving testimony at a trial. You knew him, Carton?"

"I've interviewed him once or twice," the reporter replied. "He was a big gun in surgical circles, you know."

"Taht's evident enough from the style of this establishment," Wade drily answered. "Let's see what's beyond here."

By Door or Window?

THEY passed over the dead body without disturbing it. It seemed to Carton strangely pathetic in its limpness, in its still, silent negation of the domineering strength that had been its possession so short a time before.

The rooms beyond proved not much different in character than those they had already passed through. There was a small operating-room and laboratory, one or two sick-rooms, and another bedroom with rumpled bedclothes and Braller's impressed clothing lying carelessly about. Though that room was in masculine disorder, the others were scrupulously neat.

"Can't see why a man should shut himself up to work in this place for weeks at a time," Wade remarked. "Do you see what's wrong with it, Carton?"

Carton shook his head. "I dont see anything unusual—" he began, but uttered suddenly an exclamation. "Windows! There isn't a window in any of these back rooms!"

"Or a door," Wade added. Just that one door that joins this back section of the clinic to the front. Now what do you suppose occupied Braller for weeks at a time in these' windowless rooms?"

"Lord knows—maybe he was experimenting with something that would be harmed by sunlight."

Wade shook his head doubtfully. They passed back into the rooms where the two detectives were engaged still in their minute survey, where the swarthy patrolman still stood guard.

"Just be careful not to change the position of anything yet, but don't overlook anything," Wade told them. "If you find anything, I'll be over in the house."

As they passed through the thickening mists back into the house Carton asked him—"What about Ransome? Are you going to send out a call to have him brought in?"

Wade shook his head. "Don't be so impetuous, Carton," he admonished. "He and the other doctor, Jackson, are due here almost any time according to the butler, and I think we'll see them soon. No use rousing the countryside now about it."

When they returned to the living-room McIntyre had just left the telephone. "Got Lely's dope," he announced "He lives near his office, and when I told him what was up he beat it right down there. He just phoned me and says that Braller left a will with him and some other papers. He says he'll bring them all over as soon as he gets them sorted out, but he was able to give me the gist of the will over the phone."

"And that is?"

"Dr. Braller came to his office on the afternoon of May 18th"—Carton stiffened but Wade's face was unmoved—"and had him draw up a short will, the first he had ever made. The estate, including this property, amounts to perhaps a million and a half, and there are a few bequests out of it to James and the other servants. The rest of the estate is left unconditionally to Dr. Harold Ransome."

"Good Lord!" Carton burst. "Then if that—"

Patrolman Farley interrupted, entering from outside. "Someone just came who says he lives here, sergeant," he reported. "He says he's Dr. Braller's partner—name of Jackson!"

Dr. Jackson Arrives

OF those in the living-room Wade seemed the only one unsurprised. Carton and McIntyre had started a little despite themselves at the announcement, and the butler, James, had come nervously forward.

Let him in, Farley," Wade directed.

In a moment came the sound of Farley's voice and that of another and as they moved out into the hall they saw that the newcomer was a man of over average height, with a dark and rather distinguished face over which hung a shadowing cynicism that was mocking in the eyes and was eloquent m the curve of the thin lips. Dr. Lewis Jackson looked about him with a semi-amusement as James hurried to take his hat and top-coat and hand-bag.

Is there anyone who can explain why the premises are infested with the myrmidons of the law? he asked. "Has Braller decided to benefit humanity by beautifying the phizes of the local cops?"

"We're here for a very serious purpose, Dr. Jackson," Wade told him. "In connection with that purpose I would like to know your whereabouts at one o'clock tonight."

Dr. Jackson's amused smile glinted. "Why this is according to the best detective-story traditions. Well, at one o'clock to the best of my knowledge I was sitting in a busted taxicab half way from Hoboken to New York and was using my most powerful language upon its dolt of a driver."

"You know the cab's number?"

"My dear sir." Jackson's amusement increased. "Do you spend your time taking the number of every cab you ride in? It was after midnight when I docked my boat over there, and I chose the first cab in sight. Its motor developed asthmatic convulsions on the way over with the result that I appear at this dramatic moment. Now be reasonable and say what this is all about—has someone been after Braller's spoons?"

They had been passing into the living-room, but before Wade could answer the outer door had swung open and the blue-uniformed Farley again appeared, a grin on his face.

"Sorry, sir, but it's raining doctors here tonight," he said. "This one says his name is Ransome."

Ransome Again

"RANSOME!" Jackson started. "Is he just arriving? Why—"

"Let him in too, Farley," Wade ordered.

The door opened to admit another man of Jackson's age but of different appearance. With dark hair and frank eyes behind his horn-rimmed glasses, his face was clean-cut and agreeable. He gazed at the group before him with some astonishment as he handed hat and coat to James, then saw the detective sergeant.

"Why, Sergeant Wade!" he exclaimed, coming forward. "What's the meaning of all this? A policeman out there at the gate—and you others here. Where's Braller?"

"Ask no questions, Ransome," Jackson told him amusedly. "The sagacious New York police are in charge here, and they are asking the questions."

Wade disregarded him. "Ransome, I'll come right to the point," he said. "I want to know, as nearly as you can place it, where you were at one o'clock tonight."

Ransome stared. "Why—I can't place it very exactly, because I was out on the Albany Port Road driving toward here. I left my hut up in the mountains this morning and it took me half the day to get from it onto a decent road, which is why I turned up here at this late hour."

"You were alone all the way—didn't stop anywhere?"

"Alone ever since I went up there," Ransome smiled. "I've been reveling in a hermit's life, far from all ailing clients. It seems to me, sergeant, that you're conducting a rather unusual inquisition here. Where is Braller, too?"

"The sergeant will presently produce him from his sleeve, there will be a final grand display of mystification," Jackson said, "and then perhaps we will be permitted to know what it is all about."

"Dr. Braller," said Wade quietly, "was shot and killed in his clinic at one o'clock."

Ransome drew in his breath convulsively. "By God, I was afr—" he began, then stopped. All amusement had left Jackson's face and it was masklike. "Dr. Braller killed—by whom?"

"We don't know. James, the butler, heard the shots and rushed out. He saw someone escaping out through the gate and rushed in to find Dr. Braller dying and able only to utter a single name before he died."

Both of the two doctors might have been waiting for a death-sentence. "And that name?" Ransome finally asked.

"The name was—Ransome."

The intense silence that held the^room seemed of eternity. Carton watching closely, saw that Ransome stood rooted to the floor, Ms clean, strong face holding a dazed bewilderment. Jackson, Ms countenance inscrutable, walked to a window and gazed somberly out into the darkness.

Again Wade's voice. "You must realize that in the circumstances your movements will have to be investigated very carefully, Ransome."

"But you don't tMnk for a moment that I killed Braller 1" Ransome burst. "I tell you, I am the last man on earth who would have done it! What motive could I have had?"

"You quarrelled with Braller on the day before you left for your vacation," Wade stated slowly. "And on that day, Ransome, Braller made a will leaving you all he possessed, practically."

Jackson turned as though stung. "What are you saying, man?"

"We've just learned about the will," Wade told him. "Lely, his attorney is going to bring it and the other papers Braller left over with him. He phoned the nature of it, though, and Ransome is the main heir. That alone is motive of the most powerful nature."

Facial Surgery

JACKSON'S ironical detachment was gone, his eyes twin flames of hate. "Damn him!" he whispered. "Damn him!"

"After quarreling with you and making that will," Wade continued, "Dr. Braller, according to James, returned into his workrooms in the back-section of the clinic when you and Jackson had left on your vacations, and did not emerge from them in all the last three months until he stumbled dying out of them tonight."

"Now there was something behind all this that hasn't yet been brought to light." Wade's voice rose. "Ransome, you know. You came to me on that same day, May 18th, and hinted that you had come upon something criminal, and then you came back here and quarrelled with Braller. What you had come upon had some connection with him, obviously. So what I must know is—what was it? What had you in mind that day when you talked to me?"

Ransome, still a little dazedly, moved toward the living-room. "I'll tell you the whole thing, Wade," he said wearily. "God knows I never thought it would end like this."

As they followed him Wade halted for a moment to exchange a few whispered Words with Patrolman Farley. Then, with Ransome hunched in a chair as though suddenly very tired listened, Wade and Carton itent in chairs opposite, with McIntyre behind them James hovering nervously near and Jackson standing by a window outside the circle of light from the lamps.

"It all began back when Dr. Braller asked me to associate with him in the new clinic he was forming," Ransome said. "I had some reputation in facial surgery myself but, of. course, it was as nothing to Braller's, and I was proud to join him. He took Jackson in a little later and since at first the three of us hit it off pretty well we lived right here together, convenient to our clinic."

"I'm not boasting when I say that the Braller Clinic has won a world-wide reputation in these last years for facial surgery. Of course, Braller, who was perhaps the greatest plastic surgeon in the world, was mainly responsible for our success, but Jackson and I worked too. We handled only wealthy clients, as you may know, and of course, charged proportionate fees.

I don't know whether or not you know anything about plastic surgery. Most people confuse it with the crude work of beauty-doctors, all that dangerous quackery of paraffin-injection and face-lifting and. the like. Plastic surgery was really developed during the World War as a means of restoring and remolding the' shell-shattered faces of soldiers. It is one of the most exacting of all branches of surgery."

"It consists in reality of the changing of entire facial outlines by the radical remolding of and bone. A skillful surgeon can change the whole appearance of a face by cutting away a little bone, or equally grafting on live bone. He can remove fatty tissues with a knife and thus work astonishing changes, He can alter the whole expression by a few slight changes in certain of the face muscles. WHen it is done by a master, no trace of the work remains after healing either."

"Dr. Braller was a master, probably, as I the greatest. He could remold a face into almost any desired form, and because of that the rich with facial deformities or even homeliness flocked to our clinic and brought us a constant stream of clients. But gradually, in the last few years, Braller grew less and less interested in our clinic's regular work and began to be engrossed in some new work of which he would tell us nothing."

"He had that windowless back-section built onto the clinic building, and never let us enter it. He grew furious when we ventured any questions as to what he was doing, saying that we were doing wonderfully through the clinic and to let him and his work alone. For a long time we did not bother him, but finally I grew afraid that he was engaged upon some illegal form of experimentation that would break down our whole clinic's reputation if it came to light. I hated to do it, but I felt impelled to spy upon him."

A Scientific Criminal

"WATCHING by night and at odd hours, I soon ferreted out his secret, and was astounded at its nature. Dr. Braller was indeed engaged upon an illegal work, I found, was using his great art as a plastic surgeon to change the faces of escaped criminals!"

"You know that many criminals connected with the powerful gangs have their escape from prison engineered by their organizations when so unlucky as to be sent there. But their pictures are always broadcast at once and since they are likely to be picked up by the first patrolman they meet, it's impossible for them to resume their criminal activities without soon being caught. Dr. Braller had been approached by some of the gang leaders who knew of his reputation, and who had offered him enormous sums to change completely the faces of some of their important members whose escapes they had contrived."

"It was criminal but Braller was so tempted by the immense sums offered that he agreed. He had the men brought secretly to the clinic at night and lodged in the back-section to which he alone had access, it having been built windowless at his order so as to avoid all chance of detection. Then, pretending to be engrossed in experimentation, he kept them there weeks while he slowly built up their new faces, changing bone and flesh and muscle until they could go out with faces that would pass inspection at police headquarters itself. Only a plastic surgeon of Braller's powers could have done it so perfectly, and this was the work that for the last years had been taking so much of his time!"

"I was amazed to find him engaged in it. I challenged him at once on it, but though he was furious at my discovery of it he would not stop the work with its huge if illicit profits. I threatened to go to the police and as a final move did go to see you, Sergeant Wade, explaining my difficulty without giving you any details, and asking your advice on it. I went back from that visit and told Braller then once and for all that unless he stopped I'd give the whole thing to the police at once."

"He was furious still at first and we quarrelled violently, but then suddenly he broke down and admitted that I was right. He had been thinking it over despite his anger, he said, and realized,that though the gains were enormous the business was too risky. He told me he would never again take such another case, and said that he owed it to me really that I had brought him to his senses and prevented the smash of his life-work. He seemed really grateful and touched, and I liked him better then than I ever had before."

"Braller told me then, also, that he was afraid. He said that someone else beside myself had discovered his criminal work and for some time had' been blackmailing him on the strength of it until he had grown desperate and had refused utterly to pay any more such blackmail. His refusal had brought a threat against his life, he said, and he was going to seclude himself in the windowless back-section of the clinic for a time until the danger was past."

"He must have gone and made that will on that same day, from impulse, though Lord knows I never dreamed of him doing it, nor guessed how real his gratitude to me was. The next day I went off on my vacation and spent three months as I'd longed to do for years, hermiting up there in the mountains, reading and loafing and fishing. I came back today as I told you, driving straight down through, and in all this time I'd never really thought of the danger Braller had told me of as real. But I got here, now, to find that it was only too real."

"Too real—too real—" Ransome's face sank into his hands.

The Quarrel

SILENCE again held the long living-room. In it the murmur of a belated automobile in a nearby street came to Carton's strained hearing with preternatural loudness. Again Wade's calm voice broke it.

"That explains a good deal to us, Ransome, but it doesn't explain all. I don't mind admitting that this clears up a thing that's been astonishing the department lately, the completeness with which some big criminals have escaped and disappeared. This work of Braller's accounts for that."

"But that's not the main point. Braller is dead, and we're not here so much to dig into whatever illegal things he may have done, as to find out who killed him. If he were the greatest criminal in the land, it would be up to us nevertheless to find his murderer. You say that someone was blackmailing him and had threatened his life when he refused to pay more. Did he say who that was?"

Ransome's face was troubled as he looked up. "No, he seemed too afraid to say. I gathered that it was someone close to him, for he said once that this blackmail and threats were all the return he had for what he had done for that person."

"And you never heard Braller quarrel or talk with anyone in a way that might indicate that person's identity?" Wade pursued.

Ransome considered. "One night I left the house and came back for a portfolio, about six months ago, I didn't bother the bell but came back into the hall with my key, and as I picked up the case I heard Braller having words back somewhere in the house with someone, and saying something in a high voice about "too much money." I'm sure it was Braller I heard, but couldn't say who the other was as I heard only a •word from him before I went."

"But who was in the house beside Braller when you left?"

"Why, no one but Jackson, to my knowledge. And of course James, the butler, though the other servants had gone by then.

Dr. Jackson had listened with a deeper glint in his mocking eyes and now he came forward with a sardonic smile on his face as he surveyed with troubled Ransome.

"Why all this beatting around the bush?" he demanded bitingly. "Why don't you accuse me outright of blackmailing Braller?

Ransome, suddenly flaming was on his feet. "Damn you, I think you were! I know that for the last year or two he's been nervous whenever you were around, and found him handing you a roll of bills. Repaying a loan—a damn thin excuse I thought it then and now, for why would Braller borrow from you? And though he was too afraid of you to tell me your name I'm as sure as I live that you were the one that blackmailed him, and what's more the one who threatened his life when he stopped paying!"

Ransome's face fiery as he flung the words at the other, and Jackson's mask-like countenance went dull-red.

"And so to make good my threat I came back early tonight and shot him?" Jackson sneered. "What a damn tissue of lies you've told here tonight- Ransome! Trying to make us believe that Braller was so touched by your interference that he went straight and willed all he had to you. Why- waen y°u barrelled with him that morning the two of you were so mad that Braller was threatening to kill you and you to kill him' I heard you and James heard you-and then you say he was grateful to you! The reason he made that wdl is clear enough, but it's not the one you give.

"You had found out that Braller was engaged in that criminal work, Ransome, that disguising of criminal faces, and you were the one who blackmailed him from the first. I knew nothing it, and you know it, and have lied tonight to make me seem the blackmailer that you were! You even went to Wade, without actually telling him anything, to show Braller that you meant business, and with the threat of exposure over him forced him to go that day and make that will leaving everything to you. Why should he make you his heir when we all knew that Braller and you were no great friends? He did it because you forced him to, and why did you do that? Because you were tired of blackmailing his money out of him and had determined to get it in a lump by killing him and inheriting! ANd it was you who came back early tonight and killed him, and when he choked the word "Ransome!" out as he was dying he was trying to tell of it!"


WADE sprang between the two men as Ransome, in burning rage, leaped at the other. The living-room that had been so silent was jangling with the harsh clash of accusing voices. Carton saw that Wade had allowed the two to accuse each other for what he might learn, but abruptly now the sergeant took command again of the situation.

"Now—now, that's enough, Ransome. We'll all get nowhere this way. We've got to work on facts only if we're to get anywhere, and we'll get nothing by these mutual recriminations. Sit down there and try to be sensible about this."

He pondered. He might have been, Carton thought, a calm-faced schoolmaster threshing out some interesting problem with the aid of his pupils. Ransome's clean, anxious face Jackson's sardonic features, the pallid countenance of James and McIntyre's matter-of-fact face all were turned intently toward Wade, who sat beneath a lamp and chewed thoughtfully his never-absent gum.

"We've established a number of facts beyond dispute," he said. "First is the fact that Dr. Braller was engaged in the illegal if highly profitable work of using his skill in plastic surgery to remold the faces of escaped criminals, in back of that clinic. Second is the fact that you, Ransome, at least, had discovered that this was going on and had threatened to expose Braller. Whether this was to make him stop, as you say or to extract money from him, as has been accused, is open still to question."

"Third, and most curious of all, is the fact that after your admitted quarrel with him on May 18th, Braller went directly to his lawyer's and drew up a will leaving all he possessed to you. If we knew what was in Braller's mind when did that, we might know all. Did he go there Ransome claims out of gratitude for his bringing him to his senses, or did he go as has been accused because Ransome forced him to do so. That too must remain open to question."

"Fourth, we have the accusation that you, Jackson, were the one who had been blackmailing Braller. This accusation rests upon evidence that is admittedly circumstantial, and all that evidence, even, rests entirely upon the assertion of the accuser and is denied by Jackson. Something else that remains to be determined."

"Fifth, we are told that Braller feared for his life because of a threat made on him by his blackmailer. This rests upon the assertion of Rdnsome, but is borne out to a considerable degree by the fact that for the last three months Braller remained secluded in the safe back-section of the clinic and would venture out for no reason whatever. It seems apparent that he did fear some very real danger."

"Sixth and last, Braller is shot tonight. He is murdered when he comes out of the back-section for the meal James had left, which argues some familiarity with his customs and the clinic building. James hears the shot and sees a figure running out the gate. He reaches his master just as Braller dies, and hears him, clutching his wounds and dying, utter the one recognizable name—"Ransome!" Was he calling on Ransome to remember what he had told him of the threat made on him, and to avenge him, or was he trying to say that Ransome had shot him? That is the greatest question of all and it is one that we can only settle by an approach through the known and certain facts in the case."

Misty Statements

WADE'S calm, clear statement of the tangled web of conflicting facts and accusations about them seemed to clear the atmosphere in the room. All were listening with intense interest, though a shadowy mocking smile hung still at moments on Jackson's face. Wade went on.

"Now the fact that touches most nearly the murderer is James' glimpse of him as he ran out fhiough the gate. It is that angle of the thing that I want to examine first. James got mit the merest glimpse of the man who fled, but if some of us were to go out and act out that flight again for him it may well be that he can Are you willing to help me?"

"Of course," Ransome said.

Jackson smiled cynically. "Trying to have James spot the one from his run, eh? Oh, it's all right with me."

THey rose and moved out onto the broad brick steps of the dwelling. THe mists still rolled thickly about them, night clinging still over the city. To their left the lights of the clinic building glowed and Carton saw the eyes of Ramone and Jackson going toward it, and toward the moving searching shapes inside it.

Misrts his the opposite side of the street, swirling thicker about the buildings. THey could make out the glistening and old-fashioned black iron fence a dozen yards from them, and its narrow open gate.

"Now, James," Wade addressed the servant. "It was from these steps that you saw the figure running out through the gate?"

The butler nodded, trembling. Mists and night had brought back to him, apparently, that vanishing figure of a few hours before. "Yes, sir—I had just burst out of the door when I saw it."

"Stand right here, then," Wade directed. "Now, Ransome, I'd like you to take your place at the door of the clinic building and when I clap my hands run out at full speed and through the gate. Watch him closely, James, as he does it."

James interrupted as Ransome started. "But sir, the man that I saw wore a coat and hat—"

Wade grunted in irritation. "Damn forgetful. Go in and get a hat and coat, Melntyre—no, your own will do for this. Give them to Ransome."

The detective doffed soft hat and topcoat and handed them to Ransome, who put them on and took his place at the clinic building's door. Carton, watching, saw that he did not glance back into the lit interior where the sprawled form lay. James was watching anxiously, Jackson again with curious detachment. Wade clapped his hands.

Instantly Ransome leapt from the door and along the walk toward the open gate. He flung around it and for a moment Carton's heart leaped, so strangely real the scene seemed—the fugitive rushing out through the mists toward the gate while behind him the dying man crawled forth. Ransome came back up the walk, smiling a little.

"Well, does my cross-country feat teach you anything?" he asked.

"What about it, James?" asked Wade intently. "Did the running shape you saw look to you like that?"

James seemed doubtful. "It was a good deal like that, sir," he admitted, "but in these mists it might have been almost anyone. Really, sir, I could never swear that it was anyone—it was just a shape going out in the fog in the moment that I saw it."

"Well, we'll try it with someone else," Wade grunted. "We'll——." He stopped short, grasped Ransome's arm. "What's this?" he demanded, suddenly alert.

"This" was a smear of fresh black paint on the arm of the tan topcoat between elbow and shoulder. "Was this on your coat before, McIntyre?" Wade demanded.

"No, it sure wasn't," McIntyre grumbled. "I just had that coat cleaned two days ago—and now look at that sleeve."

Wade did not heed him. Ransome told him— "I brushed against the gatepost as I ean out— it's so narrow. Perhaps that did it?"

The butler nodded quickly. "Oh yes, sir," he exclaimed. "I had the chauffeur paint the fence this morning—he hasn't been doing anything for weeks and I thought it was getting rusty."

"Maybe damn convenient that you did have him do it," Wade said. "Did the figure you saw running out brush against the gatepost in the same way?"

"Why, yes sir," James answered. "It's so narrow a person running through it in a hurry would be almost bound to do so."

"We'll go back inside," Wade said.

They walked in, suddenly silent, and once in the hall a tenseness fell abruptly on all as Wade strode to the rack where the coats of Jackson and Ransome hung. He grasped Jackson's light checked coat from the rack, examined it closely, especially on' the sleeves. There was no stain. He reached for Ransome's whipcord top-coat and then as he spread it out there came from all of them an involuntary sigh. Upon the coat's left sleeve between elbow and shoulder was a thin black smear of paint.

False Evidence

RANSOME'S voice cut first through the tense stillness in a rising cry. "Damn you, Jackson, you put that smear there—you did it here tonight sometime to put on me the blame for the murder you did yourself!"

"You're crazy, Ransome," retorted the other. "A pretty poor excuse, I should say."

"Wade, you don't believe that I did this thing, do you?" Ransome pleaded. "Why, man, you know I came to see you there for Braller's own sake—I never would have killed him!"

"How did that smear get on your coat, then, Ransome?" asked the sergeant, his voice level. "No use saying you got it on when you arrived tonight—only a man running through the gate wotdd bump against it that way."

"I tell you it was put on the coat since I came! Whoever really did that murder saw in the painted fence a chance to pin it on me, or found the smear on his coat and got rid of it, then tried to put it on me by smearing mine that way. Ever since James took my coat when I came it's been hanging there in the hall— anyone here could have put that smear on it in a moment when the rest weren't looking!"

Wade shook his head. "I'm afraid it won't do, Ransome. This evidence against you is circumstantial—I admit that—but it's all backed by the strongest of motives. Without that motive there might be another explanation, bnt with it, the thing's too obvious.

"You found that Braller was engaged in that illegal work of changing criminals' faces. You blackmailed him for a time that cannot be guessed, extorting more and more money from him, until at last he refused to pay. To throw a scare into him, you came and without really telling me anything were able by visiting me to give Braller the impression that you were ready to expose him."

"You went back from me on that May morning and told Braller you had been to the police and were going to tell them all. You had that furious altercation with him that was heard by both Jackson and James. Your threat was too strong for him, though, and with it you forced him to go that same day to his lawyer and draw up the will that left you all his estate."


"THAT was the first step. You went away then on your vacation, Jackson having already left on his. But Braller, knowing that his death would make you his heir and knowing in his heart why you had demanded the making of that will, feared. He feared that you would sneak back from your mountain cabin and kill him and then go back and still have an alibi. He retired into that windowless section of the clinic that had held his illegal work, to be safe from you during those three months, not emerging once. Undoubtedly he planned to separate entirely from you in some way when you came back."

"But you came back tonight, earlier than you had said you would, and without approaching the house went into the clinic, using your own key, no doubt. You may have been hiding in there when James left Braller's meal—at least you were there when he came out for it. As he opened the door you shot him twice and ran. James, rushing to the door, saw you disappearing through the gate, bumping against it and getting that paint-smear that you never noticed. He ran into the clinic and found Braller dying, clutching the wounds you had given him and able only to grasp the name of his killer—"Ransome!"

"You fled the place and after driving about a little came back and pretended to have just arrived, feigned complete amazement. You told us the truth about Braller's illegal work, but you tried to throw the blame of it all on Jackson by saying that it had been Jackson who was blackmailing him. That smear of paint on your coat gave it all away, though, Ransome, I'm sorry, but you'll have to go along with us."

Wade beckoned to McIntyre. RanBomo seemed bewildered, and Carton saw his eyes roving dazedly from Jackson's inscrutable face over the butler's pallid countenance to the sergeant. He burst suddenly from his bewilderment into speech.

"Wade, I swear you're wrong! I thought only of getting Braller to quit the whole thing, and he was grateful to me for it. I tell you if he were here now he'd say so, and if he made that will, of which I knew nothing until tonight, it was because of his gratitude! I swear it's so!"

"I'm sorry, Ransome—" Wade was advancing to the door, McIntyre with his gleaming handcuffs outstretched toward Ransome, when a sharp knock sounded. They remained motionless as though in a tableau, and Wade flung the door open.

On the steps outside stood a thin, pince-nezed gentleman of precise appearance who surveyed the scene in the hall in astonishment. Wade waved aside the anxious James as he came forward. He recognized the sergeant as the one in command and addressed him.

"I'm Mr. Ephraim Lely," he told him. "You are the officer who asked me to come here, Mr.——"

"Wade," supplied the sergeant. "You've brought over the will, eh? Were there any other papers left by Braller?"

Lely seated himself precisely in the chair by the door and drew forth the contents of the brief-case he carried. "Yes, there are beside the will some statements of securities owned and persona] notes and the like, and there is also a very curious letter—that is, the address is curious. Dr. Braller left it with me upon the day ho made his will, last May, and the address upon it is self-explanatory. It is addressed, as you will see, "To the Police in Case I Die Suddenly." It would .seem from that that Dr. Braller had some fore-warning of his regrettable end, and no doubt as a representative of the department you'll take charge of the letter."

Wade took the thick envelope, ripped it open. He drew out the scrawled sheets ofya letter and what seemed two shorter notes. He read them silently, then looked up at the attorney.

The Letter

"YOU are absolutely certain, Mr. Lely, that this is the letter which Dr. Braller gave you with his own hands?"

"Absolutely, Mr. Wade," said the lawyer rather stiffly. "He stated that the matter was too involved for explanation but that I was to hold the letter and in case of his sudden death in any way to deliver it to the police as addressed. The letter I placed immediately in my office vault with his will and other papers, not troubling it until tonight. I am willing to swear, if necessary, that it was that letter that Dr. Braller gave me."

"Your reputation makes your word sufficient," Wade told him. "But one other question, Mr. Lely—when Braller made his will and gave you that letter on May 18th did he seem to you to be under the influence of fear when doing so?"

-"Why, no," the attorney answered. "He seemed in quite normal spirits."

"I will read the letter to you," Wade told them. His quiet voice held them spellbound as he read.

May 18, 1930

To the Police if Ever They Read This:

I. Dr. Luther Braller, am on this day making my will and have determined at the same time to make a statement which will never reach those to whom, it is addressed, the police, unless I meet the death I now fear.

I have been for some years engaged in a criminal work whose nature I am not go specify. Three years ago a person near to me discovered that work. I am not going to say who it was— the enclosed notes, the only demands he ever made in writing, speak for themselves—but it was one whom I had done much more. During these years he used the threat of exposure to blackmail me of more and more money.

A few days ago Dr. Harold Ransome, one of my associates, discovered this illicit work of mine also. He begged me to quit it, and when I refused even went to the police, this morning, without telling them anything but as a means of bringing me to my sense. That made me furious when he returned and told me, but I soon realized that he was right, and saw what a fool I had been in carrying on this work. I told Ransome that and told him I would quit. Today, without his knowledge, I am making my will in favor of him, for I have no family and will always be grateful to him for bringing me to my senses on this thing.

But the man who has been blackmailing me through these years hesitates to see his income lot, and when today I told him my resolve to quit the work and pay no more blackmail to him, threatened to kill me. I fear him and will not have Ransome here to aid me since he is going on a three months' vacation that I cannot ask him to give up. I have resolved to spend these three months in the back of my clinic-building, where I will be safe until Ransome returns. I dare not sever all connections between my oppressor and myself, for even now he would expose me if I did so. And yet he threatens to kill me!

All that I can hope to do at present is to escape him until Ransome comes back. But if I do not, if he manages despite my precautions to kill me, the enclosed notes speak for themselves and will show who has blackmailed me and who has murdered me. I cannot say more now. God send that this letter never be opened by those to whom it is addressed. But I fear that it will!

Luther Braller, M.D.

Silence again as Wade's voice ceased. "The two notes mentioned are enclosed with the letter," he said, "and are apparently of a year or so in age. They are as follows:

Unless you wire me the five thousand by tomorrow noon it's all up with you. The whole story will go to the police then.

Two thousand more-this is an expensive town. Squeeze your clients if you havo to, but have it here by tomorrow or you know what.

Jackson's voice ripped across the room, harsh and ragged. "Damn forgeries, both of them!" he cried 'Braller never left that letter—it's a frame-up between Ransome and this lawyer!"

The attorney rose wrathfully but Wade's upraised hand commanded silence. There is nothing to be gained by that, Jackson. Ransome, this lets you out, and your stori's borne out in every detail. It explains why Braller hid there for these three months— waiting for you to come back so that he could rely on you to protect him."

"If I had come a little sooner—to think that he called my name as he died—" Ransome choked.

Was It a Forgery?

LELY came forward to him. "I'm sorry, Dr. Ransome, but I'll have to be going and I may as well leave these other papers and statements of ownership with you. If you'll just sign a receipt for them-we can go over the estate at your convenience."

Ransome scrawled the receipt dully and handed it back to Lely, who turned and with a final bow to Wade and a frigid stare at Jackson strode out. Carton, turning excitedly to Wade, saw that the sergeant was staring moodily across the hall as James let out the lawyer. To the reporter he seemed to have relaxed into momentary weariness with the breaking of the suspense.

Jackson, though, was raging. "Trying to stick the whole damn thing on me!" he cried. "But you can't prove that I wrote the notes or killed Braller or put that smear on Ransome's coat or anything—the whole thing's a frame-up!"

"That will do, Jackson," said Wade, his voice steely. "Mac, see that no one leaves yet This case is about over."

He strode out onto the steps, Carton following. He waved back the reporter as he started toward the clinic building, but Carton saw him halt as the bulky figure of Patrolman Farley appeared at the street gate. The patrolman was escorting a reluctant uniformed taxi-driver, with whom Wade exchanged a few quick words. He nodded, the driver and Farley going out, Wade disappearing quickly into the clinic building.

It seemed long to Carton before he reappeared, though in reality but minutes. His face was grim and set. To Carton he said nothing, striding back into the house. As the reporter followed he heard from out through the mists and darkness the first sounds that preceded the city's awakening with the dawn. They found, inside, McIntyre and the others again in the living-room. At Wade's nod McIntyre went out.

Ransome sat still with sagging shoulders, while Jackson watched with smoldering eyes. The form of the elderly James hovered respectfully near them. Wade took a chair slowly, their eyes all upon him. Carton watched alertly.

I think, Wade said, "that we've come at last to the end of this curious little drama We've been working through tonight. Ransome, don't feel so badly. We haven't saved Braller but we can at least bring the murderer justice and that I can do now!"

"It isn't that," Ransome said slowly. "It's just that he should have wanted my help so badly—should have died for lack of it—"

"I know," Wade said thoughtfully, "but it may have been for the best at that. I met Braller once, you know— a strong, dominating man I thought him, one of lif's individualists. Had Braller lived, his criminal activity would have inevitably been exposed, and what then? The long agony and shame of a trial, the years of graymisery in a prison-cell, the blasted name and life—a proud, strong man like Braller would have found death preferable by far, and I think he'd have been right at that."

"For when Braller began that criminal work of his he might have known that discovery was inevitable in time. Plan to conceal it as he might, some toifle would have given him away lnfles are mixed inextricably with the great events of our lives. You should know that, Ransome—it may be that just because you came into my office three months ago and wrote down your telephone number for me, you were able to sit here tonight and write a receipt for Braller's fortune instead of being led off to prison for his murder! Trifles, connecting one with another, repeating themselves, influencing our lives in unguessed ways!"


"BRALLER'S criminal work was bound to be discovered by some trifle that would escape him. And just as he was discovered, the man who committed that murder here tonight laid himself open to discovery in the same way by one trifling slip that gave away all. Our right hand knows not what our left hand does! For though he had planned the murder and had destroyed the real clues and had even arranged for the occurrence of false clues to lead all suspicion from himself, that one trifling slip was enough to bring the whole structure of blackmail and deception and murder crashing down upon him. And even as he listens in this room to me he knows that the end has come!"

Jackson's face was gray and he seemed strangling. "Damn you, Wade, this is a frame-up! You can't put this on me—!"

"You will remain in your seat," said Wade evenly. "Ransome, will you call in McIntyre and the others?"

As Ransome stepped out into the hall Jackson sank back, nerveless. Carton saw that James had come forward, trembling. There came suddenly from the hall the roar of a pistol!

They burst out into the hall, McIntyre and the others running in from the outside. Ransome lay crumpled by the door, the pistol whose shot had torn through his temples still smoking in his hand. They stared, astounded, thunderstruck, as Wade came out into the hall after them, looking down thoughtfully but without surprise at the crumpled figure.

"Death preferable by far," he repeated sadly.

"Then it was Ransome here killed— killed Braller—" Carton choked.

Wade shook his head, "Ransome has lain dead out there in the clinic building since one o'clock," he said, "and this is the man who took his face, and took his life—Braller!"

The Secret Worker

"THERE is one thing you have got to realize"—Wade faced the astounded Carton, Jackson and James in the living-room a few minutes later—"You have got to realize that Braller was, just as he said, the greatest plastic surgeon on earth, and that just as he said the remoulding of a face in any desired way, given time, was but child's play. In that fact lies the key to the whole amazing plot he built up.

"Braller was, just as he told us, engaged for years in the illegal and profitable work of using his wonderful skill as a plastic surgeon to change the faces of escaped criminals. He must have made through that the greater part of his million and a half. He had too, just as he said, built that windowless addition onto the clinic so tnat the criminal clients he kept there might not be detected by any one.

"He could keep them there for the two or three months necessary for the work, and by the end of that time his work would be done with them, the new bone and new tissue of their faces would have healed without leaving hardly a trace, and they would be free to go out. He kept this up for some years under the pretense of experimenting hack there, until his work there was discovered.

"Jackson, you were the one who discovered it and who blackmailed Braller in the next few years. It's useless to deny it—those notes in your handwriting are evidence enough if more wasn't at hand. I don't think there's any way we can press a charge against you, and I'm sorry for that, for it was a black business on your part."

"Just how long you blackmailed Braller or how much you got from him is immaterial now. No doubt your demands got bigger and bigger, and no doubt his patience was strained to the breaking point and he longed for some way of breaking the hold you had over him. But he' kept on, buying your Silence, until at last came a peril that could not be bought off. Ransome, who had not dreamed of what was going on before then, became suspicious for some reason last May and by watching soon found out what Braller was doing.

"There's no doubt that Ransome, a clean and frank nature, was astonished by the discovery and that he besought Braller at once to quit his criminal practise. Braller refused and to force him to quit Ransome came that day to see me, giving Braller a scare thus and also asking my advice as to stopping an illegal work by threat. I told him he could see what a threat could do, though he told me nothing as to what it was all about. He wrote down his telephone number and told me to call him the next day.

"Ransome came back determined to force Braller to quit his illicit work, and not knowing that Jackson was blackmailing him already on its account. Ransome confronted Braller and a furious quarrel ensued which was actually heard by Jackson and by James. You two did hear Ransome threaten Braller, threaten him to take the story to the police, and you did hear Braller in his rage threaten to kill Ransome if he did so. That was on the morning of May 18th. Jackson was to leave on his vacation that day and Ransome for his on the next day.

"Braller had to work fast for he knew that Ransome would expose him before he Jeft. To quiet him for the time being he must have agreed to quit his criminal work. He waited until Jackson was gone and then gave you, James, a two-day vacation to get you away from the place. A plan had come to him, by which he could free himself once and for all of all chance of exposure from Ransome or Jackson either, and could break the latter's hold upon him. It was a plan that only Braller's audacious brain would have conceived, and that no one but a master plastic surgeon like himself could carry out.

The Face-Moulder

"HIS plan was in essence to exchange identities with Ransome by remolding Ransome's face into his own, Braller's, and remolding his own face into Ransome's! He knew he had the power to accomplish it, given time. Once it was done he could kill Ransome, and when he was found it would seem that Braller had been killed. He could pose as Ransome in turn, and since before leaving his identity as Braller he would will all his property to Ransome, as Ransome he could claim it!

"The plan seems staggering, but Braller saw it as feasible and he was right. There were no insuperable difficulties—he and Ransome were about the same age, had the same height and the same dark eyes and hair. It was only a problem of remolding facial skin and bone into a countenance that would pass muster with those who would never dream of questioning its identity so long as it was fairly close in imitation. How often, think, do you look at the faces of your intimates so closely as to notice any slight changes in them? As long as eyes and hair and general shape and facial expression are the same you never think of doubting their identity.

"Braller knew that he could accomplish this change, and he saw that it meant security for him. Ransome would be dead, buried under Braller's name, while he, Braller, lived under Ransome's identity and inherited his own estate! All chance of Ransome exposing him would thus be gone, and Jackson would be made as powerless, for with Braller dead to all the world what yould it profit him to tell of a dead man's misdeeds? For Jackson too would believe Braller dead, and in fact Braller hoped with a final artistry of misdoing to cast suspicion upon Jackson for the supposed murder of himself!"

"Braller made his preparations swiftly on that May afternoon. He went to his attorney's and drew up a short will leaving all his property to Ransome. Then, to protect himself after he had assumed the identity of Ransome, he gave to his attorney that letter for the police which would effectively turn aside all suspicion from the supposed Ransome when it wasshouted forth that Braller had been found murdered.

"On that night Braller and Ransome were alone in the house, even the butler gone. In some way, in a way that we will never know, Braller got Ransome into the clinic and there stunned or drugged him. He bound the unconscious Ransome upon the operating table there—I found the shackles he used out there—and then began the work that was to occupy him for the next three months. It was he answered my phone-call the next day of course, and in Ransome's voice assured me all was well.

"In those three months he kept Ransome, without doubt, drugged unendingly and unconscious. And in all that time, keeping him alive with all his medical skill, he remolded Ransome's face, stripping away skin and bone to change the facial outline, cutting here and grafting there, until Ransome's face had become an imitation, a replica, of his own. And in the meantime Braller was making his own face a replica of what Ransome's had been.

"That was an easier task. He had only to shave off his beard, change the shape of his nose, alter the face's expression by changing some of the muscles, and add Ransome's characteristic horn-rimmed glasses. Only the most skilful of plastic surgeons could ever have done that work upon himself, but Braller worked with an intricate arrangement of mirrors that I found there!

"With their faces changed, exchanged really, and with both his face and that of the drugged Ransome healing fast in the weeks following, Braller approached the end of his scheme, He practised Ransome's voice, and mannerisms, no doubt, familiar to him from long association. I found also scraps of paper that showed he had practiced Ransome's handwriting too, but that in the end was to trip him in a way he did not foresee."

Behind the Scenes

"IN all those three months he never ventured out of the clinic's back-section, of course, except for the meals that James left there for him. As the end of the three-month period approached and the time for Jackson's return neard, the climax of Braller's scheme approached also. That climax came at last tonight, the night when Jackson might be expected to return. If he did not return in was immaterial, for his only object in timing the thing to Jackson's return was to cast the more suspicion on Jackson.

"Braller now wore Ransome's face, healed almost perfectly, and Ransome wore Braller's, even to the beard that he had grown and trimmed on the unconscious man. Tonight, probably after midnight, be brought Ransome back from the unconscious condition in which he had kept him for those three months. Braller was ready in Ransome's coat and hat, his pistol ready. He waited until Hames had left the supper and gone, probably before applying the restorative on Ransome.

"What Ransome felt when he woke to find himself wearing Braller's face and someone beside him with his own face, we will never know. Did he recognize Braller through the mask of his own contenance? It is unguessable. We do know, though that no sooner had the dazed Ransome come back to consciousness with his new face that Braller fired two shots through his breast and then fled out of the clinic and to the street. James, rushing to the door, saw him runnig through the gate, and bumping against its newly-painted post to get a black smear on his coat.

"James rushed out into the clinic building to find Ransome crawling forth, not yet quite dead. To James, of course, it seemed Braller crawling forth dying, with that face of Braller's upon him. Ransome made a supreme and agonized effort to tell who he really was as he saw the butler. He pointed to himself, seeming to James to clutch his wounds, and cried out that single name audible over the rush of his own blood—'Ransome!' An instant later he was dead, but it was the narrowest of escapes for Braller, who had undoubtedly left him for dead.

"James summoned the police and though you and I, Carton, had both mot Braller, neither of us thought of questioning that the dead man was he. It was the principle upon which Braller had relied and he was right in doing so. When you find a man in your friend's home who wears your friend's clothes and whose features are your friend's features, you hardly doubt that it is your friend! James accepted the dead roan as Braller unquestioningly, and we all did.

"Then Jackson arrived, really knowing nothing of the murder but rather afraid that the police were here on his account. Weren't you, Jackson? And then came Ransome, only it was not he but Bralier with his face. Again none of us thought of questioning his identity. He had undoubtedly gone after fleeing the scene of the murder to wherever he had stored Ransome's car three months before, and now drove up in it as though just arrived from that vacation Ransome never took.

"So Braller-Ransome told us quite candidly how Braller had been engaged in criminal practise, only he told it as Ransome with the story that Braller had been grateful to him for correcting him THis was to account for the unexplainable feature of the will in which Braller's estate was left to Ransome. I thought it a poor explanation at the time, that will seeming to me the most unaccountable feature of the whole business.

"Braller also, as Ransome, informed us that Jackson had been blackmailing Braller and implied that he had killed him. Jackson retorted with a counter-accusation. It must have been exquisitely humorous to Braller to stand there behind Ransome's face and dispute hotly who had killed himself!

Untangling the Web

"THE thing seemed an inextricable tangle to me and I seized on the running shape James had seen as the one certain connection with the murderer. We went out and made that experiment, saw the smear, and came in to find a similar smear on Ransome's coat. It seemed certain to us then that Ransome had been the fugitive and the murderer, and we were right with the slight exception that he was not Bansome at all but Braller.

"Braller was thus accused of his own murder 1 It must have tickled his sense of the ludicrous, for he knew that when the letter he had left with Lely came to light he would be absolved and his story verified. So it happened. Lely came and gave us that letter, and naturally, being written by Braller, it gave the pseudo-Ransome unquestionable support of his whole story and at the same time exposed Jackson as the blackmailer. Braller probably would have liked to have seen Jackson accused of the murder, though he had realized that if Jackson had an alibi he could save himself. He was not so much concerned with implicating Jackson, —though that was a side-issue—as in protecting the pseudo-Ransome, himself.

"He had managed to do so, and as Ransome was free of all suspicion. But at that moment of his triumph, and it was no mean triumph, came disaster for him, in the merest trifling slip. Lely asked him to sign a receipt for the papers he gave him and Braller did so, in Ransome's handwriting, of course. But he signed it with his right hand! And I had seen when Ransome months before had come to me and had written his telephone number for me, that he was left-handed!"

"As I saw that the facts crashed like light through my brain. Braller had been a plastic surgeon, capable of remolding faces at will, and the whole plot seemed spread before me in a momentary glare of light The facts had all been there from the first, clear to our eyes, and we had never dreamed the true solution only because we had never dreamed that one man would exchange faces and identities with another. We knew that Braller had had the power to do so, he had boasted himself of it, knew that he had the greatest of motives, that his doing so explained the otherwise unexplainable feature of the will, yet still, because of sheer mental inertia, we had not guessed!

"That slip of his in signing with his right hand had been enough to jolt me out of my mental rut, though, and as I say I saw the whole thing clear in a flash. I went out there to the clinic. Farley had brought in the taxidriver as I had instructed, who verified Jackson's alibi, but I knew by then that Jackson was not implicated in the murder. In the clinic I found in minutes ample proof of the astounding theory. I found on the face of the pseudo-Braller the fine, almost invisible scars that alone betokened the remoldingn that had taken place. I found the shackles and the scraps of handwriting and the drugs and tools and that showed that had gone on there in those three months. I knew that it was Ransome that lay murdered in the clinic and that Braller, who had murdered him, was in the house.

"I had, somehow, and have still, a certain curious admiration for Braller for playing such a tremendous and daring game as he had, and I knew that he would prefer death by far to the long agony of trial and sentence. He would have on him still, I suspected, the gun that had killed Ransome. I told him, in words that as Braller he could not fall to understand, that the game was up and that if he preferred quick death to the inevitable trial and sentence, it was his.

"He knew that I knew, at once. He knew when I spoke in the same sentence of Ransome's writing down his telephone number in my office months before and his writing that receipt minutes ago. And when I told him in so many words, understood only by him, that a trifling slip had betrayed Braller, and added that quotation that the right hand knows not what the left hand does, it must have rushed over him at once. His one slip! He had taken Ransome's features, his voice, his handwriting, but had overlooked a thing that must have been perfectly well known to him, that Ransome was left-handed! His one trifling slip, but it had brought down all the plot's structure on him. He knew when I sent him for the others that X was giving him the chance he would have asked for, and there in the hall he took his one way out."

Wade ceased, walked wearily to a window and looked out, Carton and the others looking with strange faces after him. Outside the gray light of dawn was dispersing the darkness, and there was a stir of life and sound in all the city around them. Wade gazed somberly forth.

"His one way out," he repeated slowly. "Braller might have known it, in spite of the superhuman craft of his scheme that a single slip destroyed. He might have known that out of all the structures of deception and crime that men can build, there leads only—one way."

The End