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EMILE C. TEPPERMAN

CURTAIN FOR THE MASKED MARKSMAN

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First published in The Spider magazine, September 1942

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2017
Version date: 2017-01-23
Produced by Paul Moulder and Roy Glashan

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Cover

The Spider, September 1942, with "Curtain for the Masked Marksman"



Ed Race was only momentarily alarmed when the beautiful blonde fell down the subway steps and broke in bits—for she was merely a dummy. But what was the shiny medallion that rolled from the debris, onto the tracks? That object cost five men their lives, drove a young girl almost crazy—and forced The Masked Marksman into a revolver exhibition upon which only Death could ring down the curtain!



ED RACE came up the subway steps and collided with the man carrying the beautiful blonde. She was attired in a very chic tailored suit of navy blue, with a red hat, red gloves, and red shoes, all in the very latest style.

When the man carrying her collided with Ed Race he stumbled, lost his balance and let her go. She hurtled from his arms and rolled all the way down the subway steps, head over heels.

In the process, her beautiful blonde wig came off, her skirts hiked up improperly, and her right leg broke off at the knee. When she hit the bottom, her head fell off too, leaving a sorry-looking contraption of wax and wire.

Ed was half way down the stairs when he realized it was only a mannikin. He stopped, and burst out laughing.

The man he had collided with was still standing at the head of the subway stairs, in an attitude of startled petrifaction. When Ed began to laugh, the man snapped out of it. His face assumed a murderous expression. He ran down the half-dozen steps to where Ed was standing.

"Damn your soul!" he spat viciously. "I ought to cut your liver out!"

"Now don't get excited," Ed remonstrated. "I'm sorry I collided with you. Maybe it was my fault—and maybe not. But I'll gladly pay you what that mannikin was worth. How much?"

He put his hand in his pocket.

But the man wasn't having any. "To hell with you!" he screamed, and ran down to the bottom landing where his wax figure was lying, looking like a bomb victim.

A small crowd had gathered down there, and they were finding the situation humorous. But the man didn't pay any attention to the crowd. He began searching around among the broken bits of his mannikin.

Ed Race watched him from his spot halfway down, and his eyes suddenly narrowed. For the man didn't seem to give a hoot about the wax figure itself. He was brushing the debris aside frantically, searching for something in particular.

Just then a uniformed patrolman hove into sight from the street. The officer came running down the stairs, red-faced and panting. He passed Ed Race, hurrying down toward the mannikin man.

"Got you!" he shouted.

The mannikin man sprang up from his search. His faced twisted as he saw the officer. His hand darted into his coat pocket, and came up with a gun. His finger was curled around the trigger, and he swung it upward at the descending policeman. Every line of his hard-bitten face indicated that he intended to shoot the bluecoat in cold blood.

The policeman apparently had thought he was chasing a sneak thief, and had come up against a gunman. His revolver was safe in his holster under his tunic, and he was being carried down by his own momentum, straight into the deadly muzzle of that gun in the thug's hand.

But before the gunman could pull the trigger, another revolver exploded thunderously, from behind the patrolman. A bullet whistled past the uniformed cop's head and smashed into the gunman's heart, hurling him backward with the force of a battering ram. His body went skittering into the crowd, which parted frantically, to let him fall. He was dead before Ed Race and the patrolman reached him.

Ed holstered his smoking revolver, and smiled as the policeman turned to thank him.

"Mister, as sure as my name is Maguire, I never saw shooting like that! You didn't have a gun in your hand when I passed you on the stairs. Yet you must have drawn and fired in the twinkling of an eyelash. You saved my life, mister!"

"I'm glad I had the chance to do it," Ed said.

"Mister," persisted Maguire, "what is your name?"

Ed was embarrassed. "The name is Race," he told him. "Ed Race."

"Ah!" said the cop. "I might have known it! There's only one man I ever heard of could shoot like that! You'll be the Masked Marksman!"

"That's my stage name," Ed admitted.

"Mister Race, if there's anything you ever want, just ask Mike Maguire. It's many a time that the missus and me has gone to the Clyde Theatre when you're playing New York, to watch you do your stuff. And I always says to the missus, that if the Police Department had a marksman like you on the force, we'd have a lot less gunmen loose in this town!"

"Thank you," Ed murmured.


ON the Partages Vaudeville Circuit, Ed Race was billed from coast to coast as The Masked Marksman—The Man Who Can Make Guns Talk. His combination acrobatic gun-juggling and marksmanship act was indeed a wonder to behold. And he made enough money to keep him in comfort—had he wanted it that way.

But Ed wasn't satisfied with the thundering plaudits of the nation's audiences. He craved another outlet for that nervous energy of his which demanded action and excitement of another kind. He had therefore adopted a hobby—criminology. He held licenses to operate as a private detective in a dozen states. He never charged a fee to those members of the theatrical profession who required the services of his two heavy .45 revolvers, and he was never as happy as when he had a good juicy mystery to work on—spiced with the element of personal danger.

In this incident of the gunman and the mannikin, he thought he scented just what the doctor ordered. It appeared, from what Maguire told him, that the dead man had stolen the mannikin from the Royal Department Store, a block away. He had managed to get into the basement stock room somehow, where the mannikins were prepared for the window display, and he had carried it out through the service exit. The watchman had spotted him and given the alarm, and Maguire had taken up the chase.

"I'll be damned if I can understand," Maguire said, scratching his head, "why he pulled a gun on me. The most he could have got for this would have been sixty days!"

Sergeant Willcox, who had come on the scene from the Precinct House, shook his head. "I don't get it at all. He could maybe hock the clothes for ten bucks. But if he wanted to steal, there are a lot less bulky things he could have chosen!"

Ed Race didn't say anything. He had a good idea why the gunman had chosen that particular mannikin. He had seen something roll away when the mannikin smashed, and he had seen the man searching frantically. But he didn't say anything to Willcox. He stood around awhile, watching the police work, and then he worked his way inconspicuously over toward the turnstiles. He dropped a nickel in, and passed through. His keen eyes searched the station platform, but he did not spot what he sought.

He walked over to the edge of the platform, and scanned the road-bed. His eyes narrowed as he spotted the object. It was lying pretty far out, close to the third rail. From where he stood, it looked like a medallion of some kind, about the size and color of a silver dollar.

There were not many people on the platform—perhaps a dozen. And apparently none had seen the medallion.

Now, as Ed stood at the edge of the platform, he saw that he was being watched curiously. These people had seen him shoot the gunman, and it was only natural that they should stare at him. But it made it impossible for him to get that medallion without being observed.

Just then, however, a train came roaring into the station, and Ed's problem was solved. For when the train pulled out, the platform was vacant for the moment.

Ed seized the opportunity. He vaulted down on to the roadbed, crossed the tracks, and snatched up the object. He turned around to climb back on the platform—and stopped short. A man was looking down at him, smiling. He had a small automatic pistol in his hand.

"Just throw that medallion up to me, comrade," said the smiling man. He wiggled the automatic suggestively. "Or else I cut loose with this heater here and now!"


ED studied the man for a moment. The fellow was compactly built, with short arms and a short neck. His clothes were neat, almost natty. His face was built on hard lines, and there was hardly any expression in his eyes. He had a fixed smile, which seemed to have been frozen on to him at some time in the past. His lips never relaxed from that set smile, even when he talked.

"If you would rather have a bullet in your guts, comrade," the smiling man said, "I'll be glad to accommodate you. There's an uptown train coming in, on the other platform. It'll drown the gunshot. So give—quick!"

"What do you want it for?" Ed demanded. "It's only a bit of silver. It wouldn't bring a dollar at an auction."

"Let's not argue about it, comrade. Throw it up!"

"Phooey!" said Ed, and launched himself forward, across the road-bed, toward the platform.

The smiling man pressed the trigger of his pistol, and the shot went just over Ed's head. Ed reached the edge of the platform, threw up both hands and caught the other's ankles. He yanked hard, and the smiling man came toppling down on to the roadbed. As he fell, he smashed downward with his gun barrel, and caught Ed a glancing blow on the side of the head. He landed on the tracks on his back, and fired once more from that position.

The gunshot reverberated in the long subway tunnel, mingling with the echo of the first explosion, and the slug whined past Ed's ear.

Ed already had one of his heavy .45's out, but the smiling man must have known all about Ed's reputation for a fast draw. He was bent on beating that draw, and he rolled over swiftly, apparently hoping to shoot once more when he had made a complete turn. But he miscalculated. He rolled against the third rail.

There was a violent purple splatter of sparks, and a horrible sound of sizzling flesh, and the smiling man's body arced backward in a dreadful contortion, then flopped down, square across the third rail. There was another series of flashes, then everything became quiet. The body lay still, with that strange smile frozen on its face.

Ed Race shuddered. He would not have asked a death like that for his worst enemy in the world. But it was done, and there was nothing to do for the fellow.


PEOPLE were running on to the platform, hurdling the turnstiles in their eagerness to see what had happened. Ed caught a glimpse of Sergeant Willcox, coming at a lope. He swiftly pocketed the medallion, without a chance to examine it, and ducked low under the overhanging length of the platform, until he reached the tunnel beyond the station. Above the road of the incoming northbound train, he heard the frenetic shouts of the crowd as they spotted the body. But Ed didn't stop. He kept on running, along the narrow ledge at the side of the tunnel.

He didn't want to answer any questions about that smiling man, because then he would have had to mention the medallion. And he had a strong hunch that the medallion was the key to a deep and terrible mystery. Already, in the short space of a few minutes, it had cost the lives of two men. They had been ready to kill for this little medallion, which Ed still clutched in his hand, and there were no doubt others who also sought it.

This was the sort of thing Ed Race lived for. The scent of mystery and of personal peril was to him like the scent of a covey of quail to an old bird-dog. This was his little mystery, and he wasn't going to share it with the police until the right time.

He made his way along the ledge, heading south toward the next station. When he reached it he reconnoitered to make sure that the end of the platform was deserted, and swiftly climbed up. A moment later he was making his way out to the street. He caught a cab and rode back again down Broadway to the Fiftieth Street station. He got off a block away, stopped in Lindy's for a tooth-pick, and strolled back to the subway kiosk, munching at the toothpick.

Once more he descended the steps of the subway, to find Sergeant Willcox superintending the removal of the smiling man's body from the third rail.

"Where were you?" Willcox demanded.

Ed ostentatiously took the toothpick out from between his lips. "Oh, I thought you'd be here a while, so I went over for a hot dog and an orangeade. What's happened here?"

Willcox grunted. "That's what I'd like to know. This guy fired two shots, it seems, and then jumped off the platform, right on to the third rail. Or maybe he was pushed. Anyway, he's good and dead. This is one you missed, Mr. Race."

Ed glanced down at the body of the smiling man, and shuddered. "Who is he?"

The sergeant shook his head. "There isn't a bit of identification on him. Neither is there anything on that gunman you shot. We'll have to check on their prints for identification."

"Well," said Ed, "can I go now, or will you want me downtown?"

"I guess you can go," Willcox said. "You'll have to come down tomorrow, maybe, and sign a statement. But you're in the clear on the shooting. Maguire claims you saved his life."

"Thanks, Maguire," Ed said to the cop.

"Don't thank me!" Maguire growled. "It's me who should do the thanking. Remember what I told you, Mister Race—if there's any little thing you ever need, just mention it to Maguire!"

"I'll remember that," Ed said with a smile. He waved to Willcox, and turned and went up into the street again.

As he headed east toward the Royal Department store, from where the mannikin had been stolen, he had the uncomfortable sensation of being watched.

He glanced around in all directions, but could spot no particular person who seemed to be interested in him.

He was eager to examine the medallion, but he didn't dare to take it out of his pocket, here in the street. He passed a brownstone house with a darkened cellar areaway, and stepped swiftly in there, hugging the shadows, and took out the medallion.


IT was a bit thicker than a silver dollar, and Ed saw now, on examining it more closely, that it was hinged, and opened like a compact. He tried to pry it open with his finger nail, but it wouldn't give. He was about to get his penknife out, when there was a light tattoo of steps on the pavement, and a girl slipped into the areaway, pressing close beside him. She shoved a pistol against his ribs.

"That's my medallion!" she said fiercely. "Hand it over or I'll shoot you!"

Ed's hand closed tightly on the medallion. He didn't try to move away from the gun. The girl was so close to him that he could feel the warmth of her body, and catch the faint scent of perfume. He liked her looks, even though she was trying to hold him up. There was a certain youthful innocence about her which told him at once that she couldn't belong to the same ruthless, hard-bitten crowd as the smiling man who had died in the subway.

But the one thing about this girl which startled Ed was her attire.

She was dressed exactly like the mannikin which had gone tumbling down the subway stairs!

Every single item of her clothes was identical to the mannikin's, from the modish red hat and the navy blue tailored suit, down to the red gloves and the red shoes!

"That's a stunning outfit you're wearing," Ed said conversationally. "Very stylish. It sets off your figure nicely."

"Don't try to change the subject. Are you going to give me the medallion?"

"You say it's yours?"

"Yes."

"All right. Prove that it belongs to you, and I'll hand it over. Have you got any proof?"

She thrust the muzzle of the pistol harder against his ribs. "This is all the proof I need!"

Ed smiled, and shook his head. "I don't think you'd shoot, miss. I bet if you pulled that trigger accidentally, and I were hurt, you'd start to cry!"

She bit her lip in vexation. Her eyes filled with tears of impotent fury. Ed saw her pretty young face tighten as she steeled herself to pull the trigger. He held himself taut. He was a good judge of human nature, and he was banking on his snap judgment of this girl. But he might be wrong. If he were wrong, he'd have a bullet in his stomach before another second ticked off.

Suddenly, the girl uttered a little, choked cry, and lowered the gun. Her shoulders slumped.

"I—I hate you!" she gasped.

Ed smiled. He put an arm around her shoulders.

"Here," he said. "Take the medallion. If it's yours, you can have it. I don't know what's in it, but you must want it pretty badly to have wanted to shoot a man for it."

He pressed the medallion into her hand, and she raised her eyes to his, with a glad cry. "You—you're not working for Maxime, then?"

"Maxime!" Ed stiffened, and his voice became hard. His hand tightened on her shoulder. "What do you know about Maxime?"

The name of Boris Maxime had been flashed across the front pages of the newspapers lately, almost displacing the war news. He had led a gang of ruthless gunmen in a series of murderous depredations through the middle west. The Maxime gang had specialized in robbing jewelry installment firms, one office in each city. They had cut a wide swath of murder across half a dozen states, and their loot was said to run to almost a million dollars.

Whispered rumors through the Underworld had it that the Maxime gang had dispersed, each member coming east separately, and that they were to meet somewhere in New York to dispose of the loot and divide the proceeds. The police were conducting an intensified hunt for them, but were working under a serious handicap, for they had no fingerprints or pictures of any of the members, except one, a young fellow named Vance Leslie.


THE girl was clutching the medallion which Ed had pressed into her hand, and staring up at him in wide-eyed astonishment.

"Do—do you mean to say," she demanded, "that you don't know anything about this medallion? Aren't you—working on the case? A detective or something?"

Ed smiled. "I'm an amateur detective, but I give you my word that I haven't the faintest idea what this is all about. I ran into it—literally speaking—purely by accident, when I collided with a man who was carrying a mannikin."

"I saw it happen," she breathed. "I was following that man, too. I saw him steal the mannikin from the Royal Department store, but there was nothing I could do about it. I didn't dare call the police. The store watchman did that."

"Now wait," Ed said. "You're going too fast for me. Why didn't you dare to call the police? Are you tied up with the Maxime gang?"

"No! Heavens, no! Please believe me. I—I'm doing this for my brother."

"Would you care to tell me any more?" Ed asked gently. "I think you're in a lot of trouble. Maybe I can help you."

She looked up at him for a moment, doubtfully. Then she sighed. "I'm all alone, and I don't know where to turn. I—I think I can trust you."

Ed said nothing. He waited for her to go on.

She hesitated, then seemed to gather her courage.

"When I tell you my name," she said, "you'll begin to understand. I—I'm Sue Leslie!"

For a second, Ed looked blank. The name meant nothing to him. Then it suddenly dawned on him. He was shocked.

"Leslie!" he exclaimed. "You're a relative of Vance Leslie—one of the Maxime gang?"

She smiled wryly. "I'm Vance Leslie's sister. But he isn't one of the Maxime gang."

Ed frowned. "I read in the papers that Vance Leslie was a young window trimmer in a Minneapolis department store. The Maxime gang held up a jewelry store across the street, one night when Vance Leslie was working late. Somehow, he contacted them, and joined the gang. He's the only one whose picture and fingerprints the police have, because he had registered as an Air Raid Warden."

There were tears in Sue Leslie's eyes. "It's not true that Vance joined the Maxime gang! That is of his own free will. He was forced to join them!"

"Forced?"

She nodded. "Vance was trimming the window of his store when the Maxime gang rode up for the hold-up. It was late, and the department store was closed. Nobody was there, except for Vance. But the jewelry store across the street was still open. The Maxime gang drove up in two cars, and piled out, starting to put their masks on. One of them saw Vance looking at them, and they realized that he'd be able to identify them at some later date. So Boris Maxime himself ran across the street and smashed the window glass, and gave Vance his choice, at the point of a gun. He could either join up with them, or they'd shoot him on the spot."

Sue Leslie spread her hands helplessly, and looked up at Ed. "What was Vance to do? He joined them. They made sure that he didn't wear a mask during the holdup, so he'd be recognized, and tied up with them. Then they were sure he'd never betray them."

"I see," said Ed. "And now Vance is trying to break away from the gang?"

"Exactly. The gang dispersed last month, and they made an appointment to meet in New York. They turned the whole bulk of the jewelry loot over to Vance, to take to New York. They knew they could trust him with it, because he was the one member of the gang that the police would shoot on sight. He was supposed to wait in New York for Maxime and the others to contact him."

"And he's in New York now?"

"Yes." She paused, took a deep breath, and said slowly, "I'm going to trust you with my brother's life. I don't know why I'm doing it, but I'm so frightened and alone—"

"Go ahead," Ed urged her. "I think I'm beginning to see how this works out. Your brother got himself a job as a window trimmer in the Royal Department Store?"

"Yes! He came to New York and hid the loot, and grew a beard, and got himself the job. He was determined not to turn the swag over to the Maxime gang. He wrote me to come to New York. He wanted me to act as intermediary for him with the police. He wants a pardon, in return for making full restitution of the swag. I didn't dare to contact him personally, because I've been followed by the police, and tailed by the Maxime gang. So we worked out a system. I would go into the Royal, and buy a certain outfit, displayed on one of the mannikins. I'd walk past the store window at night when Vance was trimming the display, and he'd notice what outfit I was wearing. Then, the next day, he'd leave a note for me in this medallion, and put the medallion inside the dress of that particular mannikin. I'd go in and get the medallion, take out the note, and follow his directions."

Ed's eyes twinkled. "Pretty clever for a couple of desperate kids!" He gestured toward the medallion on her hand. "Is there a note from Vance in there now?"

She nodded eagerly. "Tonight was the night when he was to tell me where the swag is hidden. I wore this outfit today, and Vance saw it, and put the note in the mannikin's dress. But Maxime must have caught on. He sent Clinton—that's the one who stole the mannikin—to get it. They didn't know exactly where the note would be hidden, so they had to steal the whole figure."

"Um," said Ed. "Let's see what the note says."

He got out his penknife, and inserted it between the two halves, and in a moment they had the medallion open.

Within it, there were two parcel checks, and a bit of yellow paper upon which was written:


Sis:

It's in two suitcases. I checked them at the accommodation desk in the basement. Get them the first thing in the morning. Be careful. I'm getting jittery. I spotted two of the gang in the store today. They were looking around, but they didn't recognize me with my beard and all. For God's sake, be careful. I couldn't stand it if anything happened to you on account of all this."


The note wasn't signed, but it didn't have to be.

Ed snapped the medallion shut, and put it in his pocket. He looked at the two parcel checks. "It'll be tough for you to get those two suitcases out of the store tomorrow. Maxime will be watching."

"Couldn't we go tonight?" she asked eagerly. "I have a key to the service entrance. Vance left it for me the other day, in a mannikin's pocket."

She brought a small key out of her bag, and gave it to him.

Ed smiled.

"Let's go!" he said.


THE street upon which the Royal Department Store backed was quiet at this time of night. It was a street of office buildings, little frequented in the evening. The Royal ran its display windows all around the square block, however, and Ed, with Sue Leslie on his arm, passed several window displays of trim-looking mannikins.

"Vance did all that," she told Ed proudly. "He has real talent. If he could only get this straightened out!" Her voice caught a little. "But I'm afraid. Maxime is too shrewd. He'll beat us to it, somehow. If Maxime gets his hands on that loot, Vance's chance of getting a pardon will vanish into thin air!"

Ed didn't say anything. They stopped at the service entrance, alongside of which there was the metal top of a loading elevator, set into the sidewalk. A sign above the elevator said, "Stand clear when the bell rings!"

Ed stepped over the elevator to the service door, and inserted the key. It worked, and he opened the door.

Sue Leslie stuck close at his side as they entered the darkened expanse of the store.

"The watchman will be on the top floor now, making his rounds," she whispered. "We have about twenty minutes. Vance may be around somewhere, too. He has to work late, trimming the windows, so they'll be ready for the morning display."

They made their way across the sales floor, feeling their way in the dark.

"The stairway to the basement should be just around here—"

Sue Leslie caught her breath abruptly, and stopped talking. They had heard the distinct scrape of a foot, somewhere nearby. Both of them stood still, and Ed could feel Sue's body shivering. Silently, he drew one of his revolvers.

After a moment, the scraping sound was repeated, this time, closer to the service door. Then, against the light of the street lamp outside, they saw the service door opening, and a dark shape emerged, carrying two valises.

Ed swung his revolver toward that figure, and called out harshly, "Stop! Stop or I'll shoot!"

His sudden command spurred the shadowy figure on, instead of halting it. The man bent low and darted out into the street.

Ed was about to fire, when Sue grasped his hand. "Don't shoot! It's Vance!"

She raised her voice, calling to her brother. "Vance! It's I! It's Sue—" But her voice was drowned out by the sudden reverberating thunder of gunfire from out on the street, echoing with the terrible rumble of doom.

Ed thrust Sue behind him. "Stay in here!" he shouted. "You may get hurt!" He raced out toward the service door, and reached the street just in time to see young Vance Leslie on his hands and knees, with blood spurting from his shoulder, and two men with guns in their hands, snatching at the suitcases which Leslie had dropped. They heard Ed's feet pounding the pavement, and swung to face him, their guns belching thunder.


BUT Ed's guns began to bark a moment sooner. The two men went down, their bodies carried backward by the powerful .45 slugs which smashed into them. One of the suitcases hit the pavement and burst open, sending a shower of glittering jewelry in every direction. Young Vance Leslie pushed up desperately to his feet, and started to run. "Come back, you fool!" Ed shouted. "I'm a friend. I'm helping your sister!" Vance Leslie stumbled, and brought up on his hands and knees. He turned and looked at Ed. He held one hand tight against his shoulder, but the blood oozed out between his fingers.

"If you're a friend," he said hoarsely, "get me out of here fast. Maxime and another of his hoods are somewhere in the store. If they come out they'll gun me down—"

"In the store!" Ed exclaimed. "Your sister is in there—"

He started to turn, but just then a voice behind him said. "Take it easy, bud. Drop those guns!"

Ed stiffened. He let his hands lower slowly to his sides, still holding on to the revolvers, and threw a quick glance over his shoulder. The loading elevator had risen silently behind him, while he had talked to Vance. Two men were on the platform. One of them was holding Sue Leslie around the waist. They had tied her hands and gagged her, and he was holding Sue with one arm around her waist, while he pointed a gun at Vance Leslie with the other.

The other man had Ed Race covered. He was a sharp-faced, narrow-eyed man, with thin lips and a sneering voice.

"I'm Maxime, bud," he said. "You know I do what I say. Drop those guns or I'll drill you. And don't try to turn around fast, either!"

"Why no," said Ed. "I won't turn around. But I'll show you a trick."

Almost before he had finished speaking, he threw himself into a forward somersault such as he performed every day on the stages of the Partages Theatres, from coast to coast. On the stage, he usually juggled six of the heavy .45's, sending them high up into the air. Then he would go into the somersault, and as he came out of it, he would catch the revolvers on the way down, two at a time, and fire each of them once at a row of candles, thirty feet across the stage.

In ten years he had never missed one of those candles, and since candles are much smaller targets than men's heads, he didn't miss now, as he came to his feet, whirling around, with his revolvers already in his hands.

Both Maxime and the other man were pulling their triggers frantically, but they had never practiced shooting at a man in the midst of a somersault. Their bullets fanned thin air—then they were dead.

The thunder of the gunfire went rolling down the street like a tidal wave, only to be replaced by the screaming siren of a police car which swung around the corner. In a moment, Ed had Sue Leslie's gag and bonds off her, and she was kneeling beside her brother, applying a bandage to his wound, while the policemen from the patrol car looked curiously at Ed Race, who had replaced his revolvers in their holsters.

"Say," said one of the cops. "Who did all the shooting?"

"He did," said Ed, pointing to the wounded Vance Leslie. "These birds are the Maxime gang. That's Vance Leslie. They had forced him to join them against his will. He refused to go on with them, and shot it out with them."

"H'm," said the cop, suspiciously. "He must be some marksman—one against four. A dead shot, I see. He got them all in the head. It don't sound right."

"Well," Ed said modestly, "I must confess, I helped him a little."

"Oh, yeah!" said the cop. "And just who are you?"

Sue Leslie looked up from beside her brother. Her eyes were shining, bright with tears of gratitude as she answered.

"He? He's our guardian angel!" she said, with a catch in her voice.


THE END


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