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EMILE C. TEPPERMAN

ENCORE FOR THE KILLER

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First published in The Spider magazine, May 1942

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2017
Version date: 2017-03-24
Produced by Paul Moulder and Roy Glashan

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Cover

The Spider, May 1942, with "Encore for the Killer"



The Masked Marksman, vaudeville's favorite master revolver-artist, stages a non-scheduled performance aboard a roaring, runaway elevated train, to outshoot a quartette of killers who gambled not only on horses, but—on corpses!



ED RACE looked down at the body and said, "Yes, I identify him. John Carter—a friend of mine." Inspector Hansen motioned to the Police Stenographer to take down Ed's words.

"Did he have any enemies that you know of?"

"No," Ed said. "He was an easy-going man. An artist. He did watercolors, and pen-and-ink stuff for the magazines. I can't think of any reason why he should have been murdered." His gray eyes became bleak and hard. "But I'd like to get my hands on the person who did it!"

"So would I!" Hansen said sharply.

The body of John Carter lay on the slab, quiet in the peace of death. The wound which had killed him was not visible, for it was in the back. He had been stabbed between the shoulder-blades.

Ed Race turned away. He looked at the other two men who had come down to identify Carter. One was Grinstead, the lawyer, and the other was Ernie Poole, the bookmaker.

Grinstead said, "It is a great tragedy. John Carter was a man of uncommon artistic ability—"

"Aw, lay off!" Ernie Poole growled. "You had your hooks in him for plenty. You was making him pay alimony to that ex-wife of his. Eighty bucks a week. It left him damned little to live on!"

"What about you!" Grinstead flared. "He was your best customer. Whatever he had left after paying his alimony, he lost to you on the horses!"

"Yeah," Ernie said sourly. "He owed me a hundred and nine bucks. I suppose I can whistle for my dough."

"You certainly can!" Grinstead said, with malicious triumph. "John Carter didn't leave a penny. He'll have to be buried in Potter's Field—"

"No, he won't," Ed Race said quietly. "I'm paying for a funeral. And I'm paying his gambling debts, too. John Carter's name is going to remain clean!"

He took a roll out of his pocket, peeled off a hundred and nine dollars, and gave it to Poole. "There's your money!"

The little bookmaker's eyes shone. "Thanks, Mr. Race."

"Get out," Ed said.

Poole shrugged, turned and departed.

Grinstead looked more sour than ever. "That's fine for the bookie. But what about poor Edna? She won't have any income, now that her alimony will be cut off—"

"You can worry about that," Ed said. "She made his life miserable while he was alive!"

After Grinstead had gone, Inspector Hansen buttonholed Ed.

"Look here, Race," he said. "Carter was stabbed at two o'clock in the morning, on the Forty-Second Street Station of the Second Avenue Elevated Line. He had got on at Fourteenth Street. We found a bar-room on Fourteenth Street where he had stopped in for a drink. The bartender said that he had a roll of about two hundred dollars, and that he said he had collected it from a bookie on a bet he had made that day."

"H'm," said Ed.

Hansen hurried on. "You know that Ernie Poole's office is on Fourteenth Street, don't you?"

"Yes," said Ed.

"So—it would seem that he must have collected that two hundred from Poole."

Ed nodded. "Which knocks Poole's story into a cocked hat. If John Carter had collected a bet from Poole, he couldn't have owed him a hundred and nine dollars. It looks like I was rooked."

"It looks like a lot more than that," Hansen said grimly. He took an envelope from his pocket. From the envelope he extracted a ten dollar bill. "The bartender down there said that John Carter's roll was mostly in ten's. He changed one of the tens there. This is it."

Ed took the bill and looked it over. "It looks genuine enough."

"It's genuine, all right," Hansen told him grimly. "Only—it's sizzling hot!"

"Ah!" said Ed.

"It's part of the loot from the Grover Store robbery, two weeks ago."

"A man was killed in that robbery," said Ed.

"Right."

Ed fingered the bill. "If Poole paid him off in this money. Poole had something to do with the robbery. Or else, one of Poole's customers passed it to him. Where's the rest of the roll—the two hundred that Carter was supposed to have had on him?"

"That's the funny part of it," said Hansen. "He had no money on him when he was found."

"I see," Ed said slowly. "Some one realized, too late, that Carter had been given the hot money—probably by mistake—and killed him to get it back. Why don't you arrest Poole?"

"Because we haven't got him cold. The bartender doesn't say that Carter told him he had got the money from Poole. He just said he had collected it from a bookie. There are other bookies on Fourteenth Street. A jury wouldn't convict on that. And if we arrest Poole and grill him, we'll give the game away. Right now, they don't suspect that we know what kind of money Poole was carrying. They think they've covered themselves up."

Ed Race's eyes were bleak. "If there's anything I can do to help on this, Inspector, just call on me."

"I will," said Hansen.


THERE was still almost two hours before Ed Race had to go on at the Clyde Theatre for the afternoon performance. He lit a cigarette when he got outside the morgue, and started to walk west, when he noticed a car parked at the curb. Grinstead, the lawyer, was sitting at the wheel, and a woman was beside him.

Ed made a wry face, and started to pass on, but the woman leaned out of the window, and called to him.

"Can I talk to you for a minute, Ed?"

"I'd rather not," Ed said dryly.

"Please. Just for a minute—"

Ed shrugged, and came over to the car.

"What do you want, Edna?" he asked curtly.

She was about thirty-five, with dark hair. She had a lot of paint on her face. She was quite pretty, but there was no sincerity or depth of character in her face. She turned a pair of big eyes up at Ed and said, "Who killed him? I want to know who killed him!"

"Why?" Ed asked.

"Because I loved John Carter. Maybe you don't believe it—"

"No," Ed said dryly. "I don't believe it. And as for who killed him, if I knew I'd tell the police."

"I'll tell you who killed him!" she exclaimed. "If you really want to know, I'll tell you!"

Grinstead, the lawyer, put a hand on her arm. "Now, Edna, be careful. There's no proof, you know—"

She shook the lawyer's hand off, impatiently. "It was that red-head—Martha Wayne. That dancer. I saw her coming out of his hotel last night!"

Ed raised his eyebrows. "You saw Martha Wayne? How come you were watching John's hotel?"

"Never mind that. You tell the police to investigate her!"

Ed frowned. "Tell it to them, yourself. You have a lawyer. Let Grinstead tell them. As for me, I don't believe a word of it!"

He turned and strode away, angrily. Martha Wayne was a nice kid, who did an acrobatic dance number on the Partages Circuit. She did it solo, and you had to be good to carry a solo vaudeville act these days. Ed Race did it, as The Masked Marksman; but then, Ed had been a headliner for years, and there wasn't anyone who could touch him for acrobatic and juggling marksmanship. They billed him, from coast to coast, as The Man Who Can Make Guns Talk—and that was just what he did.

But there were hundreds of acrobatic dancers like Martha Wayne, excellent ones, accepting week-end engagements on the subway circuits, and liking it. Martha had made the grade because there was an indefinable grace about her dancing, a subtle tinge of special personality, which made it possible to carry her audience away by the sheer aesthetic beauty of her performance.

John Carter, the artist, had seen her dance, and had been enthralled. He had begged her to model for him, and she had done so at first, for a lark. Then, as he began to sell paintings for which she posed, he began to pay her appreciable fees. Little by little, John Carter and Martha Wayne had been drawn closer and closer together. Some day, they expected to be married. They hadn't been able to yet, because Carter's ex-wife, Edna, had been milking him of most of his income through the shrewd efforts of the unsavory Martin Grinstead in the divorce court.

Ed knew that Martha hadn't anything to do with Carter's death. And he resented Edna's insinuation. If she spread the story around, she'd force the police to investigate, and that would certainly hurt Martha's reputation. People were apt to believe anything of a theatrical person.


BY the time he got to the Clyde Theatre, Ed had become really angry. Instead of cooling off, he was boiling with indignation at Edna Carter. He was so angry that had forgotten the other puzzle—about the hot money which had disappeared from Carter's pocket.

But he was reminded of that when he stepped into his dressing room. There was a special delivery letter lying on his dressing table. The envelope bulged, and the address was hastily written in pencil:


Ed Race, Esq.
c/o Clyde Theatre
Times Square, N.Y.


Ed noticed that in lieu of postage stamps, there were four ten cent Defense Stamps. Across the face of the envelope was written:


Special Delivery! Please deliver this with Defense Stamps. I can't get postage stamps at this hour.


Ed smiled grimly. It was just like John Carter to take it for granted that the post office would forward his letter with Defense Stamps on it instead of postage stamps. And the funny part of it was that the post office had done it.

He ripped the envelope open, and a shower of ten and twenty dollar bills cascaded out. There was a hundred and eighty dollars altogether. One of the bills, a twenty, was folded over four times. Ed unfolded it, and saw that Carter had written across it in pencil:


Ed—Please hold this money for me. I won it on a horse, and two men have followed me from the bookie's. I just collected it at midnight, and I'm afraid of being held up. I need this money badly and I can't afford to lose it.


That was all on that side, but Ed turned the note over, and found more:


It's safer in the U.S. Mail than in my pocket. One of the men who's following me has a very interesting face. I'm drawing his picture on a ten dollar bill...


That was all of the message.

Ed sat thoughtfully with the letter in his hand. Then he went through all the bills, looking for the picture. It wasn't there.

He put the money and the letter in his pocket, and went out of the dressing room.

In the corridor, he met Martha Wayne. She was just coming off stage, and she was flushed with the exertion of the strenuous routine. She looked beautiful in her green dressing gown, which set off her red hair to perfection. But underneath the theatrical make-up, she was close to collapse.

"I can't stand it, Ed," she said in a low, husky voice. "I can't stand to think of John, down there at the morgue. And I had to go on and entertain the crowd—" Her lower lip trembled, and Ed put an arm about her shoulders.

"Take it easy, Martha. Breaking down won't do John any good. He wouldn't want you to break down."

She bit her lip, and rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand.

"Do they know who—killed him?"

"Not yet, Martha. But we're getting damned close to it. John drew a picture of one of the men who followed him last night. If we can find that picture..."


HE led her back to her dressing room, which was two doors down from his own, and went to the pay telephone in the hall. He called headquarters, and in a moment he was telling Inspector Hansen about the special delivery letter.

"So John didn't have any money on him when he was killed, Hansen," he concluded. "But you said that he had two hundred dollars, to start with. He changed a ten dollar bill at the bar, which should have left a hundred and ninety."

"That's right, Race."

"But, Hansen, there's only a hundred and eighty in the letter. One ten dollar bill is missing—the one he drew the picture on."

Hansen was silent a moment. Then he said, "The killers must have taken that bill from him, and left the rest because it was hot."

Ed said, "I have another idea."

"Yes?"

"I think maybe he ditched it in the elevated car he was riding in last night."

"You can forget that one, "Hansen told him. "I'm way ahead of you on that. We thought maybe there'd be some clue in that car, so we went over it like nobody's business. There wasn't a thing except a hot water bag that some one forgot, and a half-sucked lollypop that some kid left."

"So the killer got his own picture back, eh?" Ed said. "That's swell."

"And it leaves us where we started. I'll be over for that letter and the money, Race."

"Okay, Inspector. But I still don't believe the killer got his picture back. I think John was smart enough to cache it somewhere."

"You're welcome to look," Hansen said sourly. "It's car Number 28,492. It was the first car of a two-car train. They run them short at that hour of the night. It was the last train to leave from Park Row. They suspend service after one-thirty on the Second Avenue L these days. It pulled out of Park Row at one-twenty-seven, hit Fourteenth Street at one-thirty-six, and Forty-Second Street at one-forty-three. It'll repeat the run tonight at the same time. You can take a ride in it tonight if you like, and look around. Maybe you'll be smart enough to find something we missed!"

"You don't have to get sore," Ed told him. "I could mention plenty of things you've missed in the last few years."

"All right, all right," Hansen said testily. "If you want to take that ride tonight, you better be at Park Row at one-twenty-seven sharp, or you'll miss the train. Ha, ha!"

And he hung up.

Ed hung up, too, looking and feeling downhearted.

Joe, the Assistant Manager, came past him and said, "Your cue in ten minutes, Ed."

Ed nodded absently, fumbled another nickel out of his pocket, and inserted it in the phone. He dialed the number of Jerry Crawford, who did the five-thirty gossip-column over WLN.

"Listen, Jerry, this is about the John Carter case. I haven't time to explain, but I want you to stick an item in your script for today. Can do?"

"If you say it's okay, I'll put it in, Ed. Better give it to me quick. I go on the air in eight minutes. I was just going up to the studio. And boy, can I use a good item, especially a murder mystery!"

"I just want you to say this: Before John Carter was killed last night, he left his killer's picture somewhere besides on that ten dollar bill. I have this from Ed Race. Ed intends to pin it on the killer at one-twenty-seven A.M."

"All right, I've got it down in shorthand. I'll put it on the air—but you've got to promise me an exclusive if you make good on this. Do you really think you will?"

"I don't know, Jerry. It's a chance."

"Look, Ed, I'll tell you what I'll do. The studio runs recordings after one o'clock. I'll be here from one-twenty-seven on. If you put this over, give me a ring, and I'll interrupt a recording to get it on. Will it scoop, or won't it?"

"I hope you won't be wasting your time," Ed said. "But I promise."

He hung up and hurried back to his dressing room. He didn't have to change for his act. All he had to do was put on the little half-mask which had become famous from coast to coast, and to take out the little satchel with the four hair-trigger forty-fives in it. There were two more forty-fives in the twin holsters under his arms, and it was with those six guns that he made his living.


JOE knocked at the door, and he hurried out and hit the wings just as the orchestra was going into the introduction for his number. He went through the routine of juggling the six heavy guns, sending them high in the air, and then doing a back flip, coining up and catching them, two-by-two, as they came down. Each time he caught a pair, he would fire them simultaneously at a row of candles, thirty feet across the stage. Never in twelve years on the vaudeville circuits had he ever missed one of those candles.

He didn't miss this time, either, and he didn't miss any of the shots in the other routines of his number. But he did it all with only half his mind. The other half was on the dead body of John Carter, lying there in the morgue.

He finished his act, took three encores, and returned to his dressing room. He opened the door, and there was Ernie Poole, the bookie, waiting for him.

Poole was nervous and excited.

"Look here, Mr. Race, I just heard Jerry Crawford's broadcast. I got to talk to you. I know the stuff that's going around town—that Carter was knocked off by some guys from a bookie's joint where Carter won some dough—"

"Where did you hear that?" Ed demanded. He knew that Hansen hadn't given that stuff out to the papers.

"There's lots of things you hear," Ernie Poole said evasively, "when you've been around town as long as me. But look, Mr. Race, I got to tell you one thing—John Carter wasn't at my joint yesterday. He played with some other book. He owed me that hundred and nine bucks, and I wasn't giving him no more credit. Honest, Mr. Race, he didn't win that dough from me."

"Do you know where he did go?"

Ernie avoided Ed's eyes. "I couldn't tell you. There's plenty of bookies on Fourteenth Street. He might of gone to any of them—Nick Florentine, Pussy Gordon, Pete Cascatta—I could go down the whole list. But that ain't what I come to see you about. I wanted to tell you—about this broadcast of Jerry Crawford's—you're playin' with dynamite, Mr. Race. There's more to this than you think. Take my advice, and stay out of it."

"Thanks for the advice," Ed said dryly. "Is that all you wanted?"

Ernie shuffled his feet, looked down at the floor, and then said diffidently, "I must have looked like a heel, there in the morgue, talking about the dough Carter owed me. I ain't really that kind of a guy. I shouldn't have took that money from you. I made plenty on John Carter. I could afford to mark it off."

He took a wadded bunch of money out of his pocket, and thrust it at Ed. "Would you do me a favor—and take back this hundred and nine bucks?"

Ed looked into his face, saw the sincerity there, and smiled.

"Give it to the Navy Relief Fund, Ernie," he said, in a kindly voice.

He patted the bookie on the back, and ushered him out.

At the door, Ernie Poole said anxiously, "You sure you're going through with that tonight? You really got something on the killers?"

"You bet," Ed told him.

"Then you better bring your guns."

"Don't worry," Ed said. "I will."

Poole hesitated a moment, then said unwillingly, "I don't ever rat on anybody, you understand, Mr. Race. But—"

"Yes?"

Ernie fiddled with his hat. "Suppose I told you something personal. Would you go to the cops with it?"

"Not if you didn't want me to."

"Well, I figure if I told this to the cops, it would be ratting. But if I tell it to you, and you don't tell the cops, that ain't really ratting, is it?"

"I wouldn't call it ratting if it helps to catch John Carter's murderer!"

"You got to promise you won't tell the police. Will you promise?"

"I promise," Ed said. "I always work alone, anyway."


IT was significant of Ed's reputation that Ernie didn't want any more than his word. Ed's reputation went much farther than the coat-to-coast billing he got with the Partages Circuit. Long ago, to take care of the super-abundance of nervous energy in his system, and to find an outlet for his craving for excitement and danger, Ed Race had adopted the hobby of criminology. He held licenses to practice as a private detective in a dozen states, but he never charged a fee for his services. Yet his two forty-fives were ever ready to aid those of the theatrical fraternity who might be in trouble with the Underworld. Thus, he had built up for himself a dual reputation, a sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde existence. There was a vast segment of the public which knew only the Masked Marksman, The Man Who Can Make Guns Talk. But there was also a large slice of the Underworld and the demi-monde, which knew Ed Race, the criminologist, whose word was as good as his marksmanship—and who didn't hesitate to shoot when circumstances required.

For Ernie Poole, Ed's word was good. He spoke now swiftly, as if he wanted to get it over with.

"You know Jed Slater, the bookie, on Fourteenth Street?"

"No."

"Well, he's a skunk. He was tight for money a couple months ago, and he had to sell a piece of his book. He got himself a partner. A silent partner." Ernie paused a moment, and put his hat on. Then he said softly, "That silent partner... his name is—Grinstead!" And he turned and hurried away.

Ed didn't stop him. He watched the bookie's receding back, and there was a thoughtful look in his eyes. He turned back to his dressing room, and saw that Martha Wayne had come out of her room, and was watching him.

She came over impulsively, and put a hand on his arm. "I heard Jerry Crawford's broadcast on the portable radio in my room, Ed. Is—is there anything to it? Or is it just bluff?"

Ed smiled. "Eighty percent bluff, twenty percent something."

"You're really going to be on that train tonight at one-twenty-seven?"

"Yes."

There was resolve in her eyes. "Ed, I'm going too!"

"Nix, Martha. If there's anything to my hunch, that L train won't be any place for a girl tonight."

Just then Inspector Hansen came along the corridor, looking as sour as ever.

Ed took him into the dressing room, and Martha went in, too. Hansen looked over the letter from John Carter, and the hundred and eighty dollars in bills, and scowled.

"I'm going to pick up Ernie Poole," he said.

"But you told me you didn't have enough evidence—"

Hansen grimaced. "Maybe not. But somebody killed Carter. If I don't make an arrest, the newspapers will make a hullaballoo about it. I'll take Poole in, and put him through the wringer."

"Why don't you wait till the morning? Maybe I'll turn something up on that L train tonight."

"Hah! You amateur detectives give me a pain. What kind of sap do you think that killer is? Do you think he's going to fall for that broadcast?"

"He might," Ed said, thoughtfully. "You see, the killer doesn't know that John Carter mailed me this money. He stabbed John and searched him, and didn't find the bulk of the money. He probably didn't see John drop the envelope in the mail box, so he doesn't know what became of it. He'll be apt to believe that John might have cached it in the car—"

"Phooey!" said Hansen. "But if you're going to get on that train tonight, I'll put some men on it—"

"That's exactly what I don't want!" Ed protested. "I want that killer to be sure there aren't any police in the vicinity. I want him to feel that the police consider me cracked—which you probably do."

Hansen smirked. "I ain't talking."

He took the money and the letter, and went out. At the door, he grinned and called back, "If you catch that killer, give me a ring tonight. It'll be a complete surprise!"

When he had gone, Martha Wayne put her arm on Ed's sleeve. "You will let me come, won't you?"

Ed looked at her a moment, then smiled. "All right, Martha," he said softly.


AT precisely one-twenty-seven, Ed Race was on the platform of the Park Row Station. He stepped into the first car of the two-car train—the one with the number, 28,492. The guard, a wizened little fellow with a wrinkled face, shut the doors and signaled the motorman. The train got in motion. The guard closed the connecting doors between the first and second cars, retiring into the second car, himself.

Ed moved down to one of the cross-seats in the middle of the car. Martha Wayne was already in there, sitting 'way up front, at the far end of the longitudinal seats. There was only one other man in the car, a fairly well-dressed chap, who seemed to be dozing, in the opposite longitudinal seat to Martha's.

Martha and Ed exchanged glances, but gave no sign that they knew each other. That man at the front might be a legitimate passenger, and then again he might not.

Ed's eyes roved around the car, seeking for a possible place where John Carter might have ditched the ten dollar bill, and which might have been overlooked by the police in their search.

The train rumbled into the next station, and Ed saw that one man was getting on. He stiffened as he saw who it was—Grinstead, the lawyer!

Ed glanced at Martha. She had a magazine on her lap, and was idly scribbling on it. She caught his eyes, and winked, and he winked back. Then he swiftly took the two heavy forty-fives from his shoulder holsters, and put them on the seat, one on each side, close beside him, and spread out his coat so that it covered them.

The train started again, and Grinstead came into the car. He stopped at Ed's seat.

"Hello, Race," he said. "I hope you don't mind my presence. I heard that broadcast of Jerry Crawford's, and Edna insisted that I come along and see what happens. Believe me, she's more interested in this case than you think."

"I can well believe that!" Ed said dryly.

The lawyer seated himself in the cross-seat opposite Ed.

"What do you expect to accomplish by this wild ride?" he demanded.

Just then, the man down at the front seemed to awake from his doze. He sat up, and Ed got a good look at his face. It was a sharp and craggy face, with bushy eyebrows, and thin, cold lips.

Martha had apparently finished with her scribbling. She laid the magazine on the seat beside her, and did something swiftly with her hand at the back of the seat. She looked at Ed, and nodded imperceptibly.

The train was stopping at the Fourteenth Street Station. Nobody got on. The guard pulled the bell cord twice, the motorman up front started, and the guard retired once more into the second car.

Ed saw that Grinstead was watching him closely. He looked over at Martha Wayne. He gave her a swift nod, and she opened her purse, took out some change as if to count it, and fumbled it so that one of the coins fell into the crack in the seat. She made an exclamation of annoyance, and turned around to search for it.

Suddenly, she uttered another exclamation, and began pulling a scrap of paper out of the crack. She straightened out the wrinkles, and held it up. Upon the paper, was a crayon picture of the man with the craggy face!

She looked across at the man, and said with an assumed air of innocence, "Why, see! This is a picture of you! Whoever in the world could have done it?"


THE man uttered an oath, and sprang up. "Gimme that!" he demanded hoarsely. He sprang at Martha, but she swiftly wadded up the paper, and flung it out of the window.

The man cursed, and seized Martha's wrists. He shouted to Grinstead, "She's found the picture Carter ditched."

Grinstead hadn't shown much emotion. From his pocket he produced an automatic, which he leveled at Ed. "Sit still, Race," he said. "Don't move your hands from your sides. Keep them touching the seat."

The lawyer's eyes were sharp and evil.

"Damn you," he said to Ed, "your hunch was apparently a good one. We were afraid that Carter had made another picture."

He called over his shoulder to the craggy-faced man: "Did you get the picture, Dudley?"

"Hell, no!" Dudley growled. "She threw it out the window!"

Grinstead glanced out. "That must have been around Twenty-Third Street. It'll be somewhere on the street below. We'll have to go back for it—after we take care of these two."

"We got to knock them off," said Dudley. "They know too much."

With one hand he had hammer-lock on Martha's arm, twisting it behind her back. He had taken out a revolver with his free hand.

Ed said nothing. He sat very still, waiting.

The door of the motorman's compartment opened, and the motorman stuck his head out.

"What happened, Dudley?" he asked.

"There was another picture, all right!" Dudley told the motorman. "The dame threw it out the window."

From the rear, the guard came in and stood listening.

Ed looked at Grinstead, and smiled. "You certainly do things thoroughly, don't you?"

Grinstead scowled. "I didn't think there was anything to that hunch of yours, but I had to make sure. I had to fix it so that if you did turn up a picture, you'd never live to hand it to the police."

Ed nodded. "That's the way I figured it. Dudley and these other boys were the ones who pulled the Grover Store robbery. You, as their attorney, undertook to get rid of the loot through Slater's bookie office. But the money was too hot yet, so you were going to hold it a while. Only something slipped up. Slater, by mistake, paid off Carter in the hot money, and when Dudley found out about it, he followed John and killed him. He got only the bill bearing the picture, because Carter had already mailed the rest of the money to me."

"So!" said Grinstead. "You have clone a clever piece of deduction, Race. But you have deduced yourself and that girl right into the grave. We can't let you live."

Dudley, still holding Martha, turned his head and said to the motorman: "You, Andy—be ready to set the controls for full speed ahead. We'll give the guy and the dame one shot a piece in the head, and then we'll jump off at the next station. The train will keep racing till it catches up with the one ahead, and smashes it. The confusion will give us time to go back and find that picture."

"Right," said Andy.

Ed had waited long enough. He had only wanted to let these men incriminate themselves completely. He was conscious of the fact that the guard was close behind him, with a gun ready.

"What did you do with the real guard and motorman of this train?" he demanded of Grinstead.

The lawyer grinned. "They'll never know what happened to them. These boys knocked them cold in the locker room, and took their clothes."

"All right," said Ed. "I guess that clears almost everything up."

"And you too, wise guy!" Dudley snarled. "Give it to him, Grinstead. I'll take care of this dame—"

Martha Wayne screamed as he increased the pressure on her arm, and raised the muzzle of his gun to her temple. At the same time Grinstead curled his finger around the trigger of his own weapon.

"So sorry," said Ed.


BOTH his hands came up from under his coat, each gripping a heavy forty-five calibre hair-trigger revolver. The right hand gun rose in a short, sharp arc, and caught Grinstead's muzzle, snapping it upward and deflecting the shot over Ed's shoulder. Ed heard a gasp from behind him, and knew that the guard must have been hit by Grinstead's bullet. But that gasp was immediately drowned in the thundering report of his own forty-five. Both Dudley and the motorman were shooting at him now; the motorman from the protection of his compartment, and Dudley from behind the shield of Martha Wayne.

Ed let the motorman keep on shooting. He concentrated on Dudley. All he could see of the gunman's face was a corner of the man's forehead, and one eye. It was a little enough target to shoot at, especially considering the danger of hitting Martha Wayne.

But Ed Race, as the Masked Marksman, had often had much more difficult targets to shoot at. The only difference on the stage was that a girl's life wasn't at stake.

But Ed fired that single shot from his long-muzzled revolver as coolly and as surely as if he had been on the stage. He didn't look to see whether he had hit or not. He knew he had.

Bullets were peppering around him now from the motorman's revolver. Grinstead, whose gun had been knocked from his hand, was cowering low in the seat, fearful of being hit. Ed swung his right hand gun up, and snapped a shot at the motor-man, but the man had pulled his head into the cubicle.

Ed's lips compressed. He stood up in the seat, raised both guns, and deliberately raked the thin wall of the motorman's compartment with a barrage of shots. He fired three times with each revolver, and then stopped as a hoarse scream sounded from the compartment, and the bogus motorman fell out, like a tailor's dummy.

Martha Wayne had dropped to the floor when Dudley's hold on her was released, but now she sprang up, swaying with the racing train. She came running over to Ed, who handed her one of the revolvers.

"Cover Grinstead!" he ordered.

Martha nodded and took the gun, and Ed ran forward to the motorman's compartment. He stepped over the body of Andy, and reached for the controls. The train was just racing up to the Forty-Second Street Station as he removed the wedge with which the power control had been jammed open.

The train screamed to a stop, and Ed saw uniformed figures on the platform, milling around near the edge. Also, he was able to distinguish the stocky figure of Inspector Hansen.

Hansen said, "I promised you I wouldn't have any men planted at Park Row, but I got to worrying that maybe there was something to your theory, so I came up here to meet the train. Good thing I did. Did you find the picture?"

Grinstead, who had handcuffs on him by this time, said brokenly, "I never believed in Providence. But now I do! To think that Carter should have drawn that second picture of Dudley!"

Ed chuckled. "That wasn't Providence, Grinstead." He put an arm around Martha Wayne. "It was this little girl right here. She took lessons from John Carter. She drew the picture, while we were riding uptown. You'll find the other one on Dudley."

He paused, and looked at Hansen, "In fact," he said, "the ways of man are obscure and devious."

"What do you mean by that?" Hansen demanded.

"Why," Ed said, "just this. Did you ever hear of a murderer posing for a portrait of his own doom?


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
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