interest you now."
"Because," said P. Sybarite quietly, "I'm going down there and break
in as soon as I'm dressed fit to go to jail."
"In the sacred name of Insanity - !"
"If he's out, I'll steal that telegram and find out whether it has any
bearing on the case. If it hasn't, I'll sift every inch of the room
for a suspicion of a leading clue."
"But if he's in - ?"
"I'll take my chances," said P. Sybarite with grim brevity.
"Not if I know the nature of the brute." He stood up, fully dressed
but for his shoes. "Now - my gun, please."
"Top drawer of the buffet there. How are you going? Fire escape?"
"Where is it?" P. Sybarite asked as he possessed himself of his
"Half a minute." Peter Kenny held out his hand. "Let's have a look at
that gun - will you?"
"One of those newfangled automatic pistols - isn't it? I 've never seen
"But - Great Scott! - you've had this here - "
"I know, but I didn't pay much attention - thinking of other things - "
"But you're delaying me - "
"Mean to," said Peter Kenny purposefully; and without giving P.
Sybarite the least hint of his intention, suddenly imprisoned his
wrist, grabbed the weapon by the barrel, and took it to himself - with
the greater ease since the other neither understood nor attempted
"What in blazes - ?" he enquired, puzzled, watching Peter turn the
weapon over curiously in his hands. "I should think - "
"There!" Peter interrupted placidly, withdrawing the magazine clip
from its slot in the butt and returning the now harmless mechanism.
"Now run along. Fire-escape's outside the far window in the bedroom,
"What the deuce! What's the matter with you? Hand over that clip. What
good is this gun without it?"
"For your present purpose, it's better than if loaded," Peter asserted
complacently. "For purposes of intimidation - which is all you want of
it - grand! And it can't go off by accident and make you an
P. Sybarite's jaw dropped and his eyes opened; but after an instant,
he nodded in entire agreement.
"That's a head you have on your shoulders, boy!" said he. "As for
mine, I've a notion that it has never really jelled."
He turned toward the bedroom, but paused.
"Only - why not say what you want? Why these roundabout ways to your
purpose? Have you, by any chance, been educated for the bar?"
"That's the explanation," laughed Peter. "I'm to be admitted to
practise next year. Meanwhile, circumlocution's my specialty."
"It is!" said P. Sybarite with conviction. "Well ... back in five
Of all his weird adventures, this latest pleased him least. It's one
thing to take chances under cover of night when your heart is light,
your pockets heavy, and wine is buzzing wantonly within your head: but
another thing altogether to burglarise your enemy's apartments via the
fire-escape, in broad daylight, and cold-sober. For by now the light
was clear and strong, in the open.
Yet to his relief he found no more than limpid twilight in the cramped
and shadowed well down which zigzagged the fire-escape; while the
opposite wall of the adjoining building ran blind from earth to roof;
giving comfortable assurance that none could spy upon him save from
the Monastery windows.
"One thing more" - Peter Kenny came to the window to advise, as P.
Sybarite scrambled out upon the gridiron platform - "Shaynon's flat
isn't arranged like mine. He's better off than I am, you know - can
afford more elbow-room. I'm not sure, but I _think_ you'll break
in - if at all - by the dining-room window.... So long. Good luck!"
Clasping hands, they exchanged an anxious smile before P. Sybarite
began his cautious descent.
Not that he found it difficult; the Monastery fire-escape was a series
of steep flights of iron steps, instead of the primitive vertical
ladder of round iron rungs in more general use. There was even a
guard-rail at the outside of each flight. Consequently, P. Sybarite
gained the eleventh floor platform very readily.
But there he held up a long instant, dashed to discover his task made
facile rather than obstructed.
The window was wide open, to force whose latch he had thoughtfully
provided himself with a fruit knife from Peter Kenny's buffet. Within
was gloom and stillness absolute - the one rendered the more opaque by
heavy velvet hangings, shutting out the light; the other with a
quality individual and, as P. Sybarite took it, somehow
intimidating - too complete in its promise.
And so for a darkly dubious moment the little man hung back. To his
quick Celtic instinct there seemed to inhere, in that open, dark, and
silent window, something as sinister and repellent as the inscrutable,
soundless menace of a revolver presented to one's head.
Momentarily, indeed, he experienced anew something of that odd terror,
unreasoning and inexcusable, that had assailed him some time since,
outside the hall-door to this abode of enigmatic and uncanny quiet....
But at length, shaking his head impatiently - as if to rid it of its
pestering swarm of fancies - he stepped noiselessly, in his unshod
feet, down through the window, cautiously parted the draperies, and
advanced into darkness so thick that there might as well have been
night outside instead of glowing daybreak.
Then, with eyes becoming accustomed to the change, he made out shapes
and masses that first confirmed Peter's surmise as to the nature of
the room, and next gave him his bearings.
Over across from the window stood a door, its oblong dimly luminous
with light softly shining down the walls of a private hall, from a
point some distance to the left of the opening.
Rounding a dining-table, P. Sybarite stole softly on, and paused,
listening, just within the threshold.
From some uncertain quarter - presumably the lighted room - he could
hear a sound, very slight: so slight that it seemed guarded, but none
the less unmistakable: the hiss of carbonated water squirting from a
syphon into a glass.
Ceasing, a short wait followed and then a faint "_Aah!_" of
satisfaction, with the thump of a glass set down upon some hard
And at once, before P. Sybarite could by any means reconcile these
noises with the summons at the front door that had been ignored within
the quarter-hour, soft footfalls became audible in the private hall,
shuffling toward the dining-room.
Instinctively the little man drew back (regretful now that he had
yielded to Peter's prejudice against loaded pistols) retreating
sideways along the wall until he had put the bulk of a massive buffet
between him and the door; and, in the small space between that article
of furniture and the corner of the room, waited with every nerve taut
and muscle tense, in full anticipation of incontinent detection.
In line with these apprehensions, the footsteps came no further than
the dining-room door; then died out for what seemed full two
minutes - a pause as illegible to his understanding as their manifest
Why need Shaynon take such elaborate precautions against noises in his
Suddenly, and more confidently, the footfalls turned into the
dining-room; and without glance right or left a man strode directly to
the open window. There for an instant he delayed with an eye to the
crack between the curtains; then, reassured, thrust one aside and
stepped into the embrasure, there to linger with his head out of the
window, intently reconnoitering, long enough to enable P. Sybarite to
make an amazing discovery: the man was not Bayard Shaynon.
In silhouette against the light, his slight and supple form was
unmistakable to one who had seen it before, even though his face was
disfigured by a scant black visor across his eyes and the bridge of
He was Red November.
[Illustration: He was Red November.]
What P. Sybarite would have done had he been armed is problematical.
What he did was remain moveless, even as he was breathless and
powerless, but for his naked hands, either for offence or defence. For
that November was armed was as unquestionable as his mastery of the
long-barrelled revolver of blue steel (favoured by gunmen of the
underworld) which he held at poise all the while he carefully surveyed
his line of retreat.
At length, releasing the curtain, the gang leader hopped lightly out
upon the grating, and disappeared.
In another breath P. Sybarite himself was at the window. A single
glance through the curtains showed the grating untenanted; and boldly
poking his head forth, he looked down to see the figure of the gunman,
foreshortened unrecognisably, moving down the iron tangle already
several flights below, singularly resembling a spider in some
Incontinently, the little man ran back through the dining-room and
down the private hall, abandoning every effort to avoid a noise.
No need now for caution, if his premonition wasn't worthless - if the
vengeful spirit of Mrs. Inche had not stopped short of embroiling son
with father, but had gone on to the end ominously shadowed forth by
the appearance of the gunman in those rooms....
What he saw from the threshold of the lighted room was Bayard Shaynon
still in death upon the floor, one temple shattered by a shot fired at
close range from a revolver that lay with butt close to his right
hand - carefully disposed with evident intent to indicate a case of
suicide rather than of murder.
At pains not to stir across the threshold, with quick glances P.
Sybarite reviewed scrupulously the scene of November's crime.
Eventually his nod indicated a contemptuous conclusion: that it should
not prove difficult to convict November on the evidence afforded by
the condition of the apartment alone. A most superficial inspection
ought to convince anybody, even one prone to precipitate conclusions,
that Bayard Shaynon had never died by his own hand.
If November, in depositing the instrument of his crime close to the
hand of its victim, had meant to mislead, to create an inference of
_felo de se_, he had ordered all his other actions with a carelessness
arguing one of three things: cynical indifference to the actual
outcome of his false clue; sublime faith in the stupidity of the
police; or a stupidity of his own as crass as that said to be
characteristic of the average criminal in all ages.
The rooms, in short, had been most thoroughly if hastily ransacked - in
search, P. Sybarite didn't for an instant doubt, of evidence as to the
relations between Shaynon and Mrs. Inche calculated to prove
incriminating at an inquest; though the little man entertained even
less doubt that lust for loot had likewise been a potent motive
He found proof enough of this in the turned-out pockets of the
murdered man; in the abstraction from the bosom of his shirt of pearl
studs which P. Sybarite had noticed there within the hour; in the
abraded knuckles of a finger from which a conspicuous solitaire
diamond in massive antique setting was missing; in a pigskin
bill-fold, empty, ripped, turned inside out, and thrown upon the floor
not far from the corpse.
Then, too, in one corner stood a fine old mahogany desk of quaint
design and many drawers and pigeonholes, one and all sacked, their
contents turned out to litter the floor. In another corner, a curio
cabinet had fared as ill. Even bookcases had not been overlooked, and
stood with open doors and disordered shelves.
Not, however, with any notion of concerning himself with the
assassin's apprehension and punishment did P. Sybarite waste that
moment of hasty survey. His eyes were only keen and eager to descry
the yellow Western Union message; and when he had looked everywhere
else, his glance dropped to his feet and found it there - a torn and
crumpled envelope with its enclosure flattened out and apart from it.
This last he snatched up, but the envelope he didn't touch, having
been quick to remark the print upon it of a dirty thumb whose
counterpart decorated the face of the message as well.
"And a hundred more of 'em, probably," P. Sybarite surmised as to the
number of finger marks left by November: "enough to hang him ten times
over ... which I hope and pray they don't before I finish with him!"
As for the dead man, he read his epitaph in a phrase, accompanied by a
meaning nod toward the disfigured and insentient head.
"It was coming to you - and you got it," said P. Sybarite callously,
with never a qualm of shame for the apathy with which he contemplated
this second tragedy in the house of Shaynon.
Too much, too long, had he suffered at its hands....
With a shrug, he turned back to the hall door, listened an instant,
gently opened it - with his handkerchief wrapped round the polished
brass door-knob to guard against clues calculated to involve himself,
whether as imputed principal or casual witness after the fact. For he
felt no desire to report the crime to the police: let them find it out
at their leisure, investigate and take what action they would; P.
Sybarite had lost no love for the force that night, and meant to use
it only at a pinch - as when, perchance, its services might promise to
elicit the information presumably possessed by Red November in regard
to the fate of Marian Blessington....
The public hall was empty, dim with the light of a single electric
bulb, and still as the chamber of death that lay behind.
Never a shadow moved more silently or more swiftly than P. Sybarite,
when he had closed the door, up the steps to Peter Kenny's rooms.
Hardly a conceivable sound could be more circumspect than that which
his knuckles drummed on the panels of Peter's door. And Peter earned a
heartfelt, instant, and ungrudged blessing by opening without delay.
"Well?" he asked, when P. Sybarite - with a gesture enforcing temporary
silence - had himself shut the door without making a sound. "Good Lord,
man! You look as if you'd seen a ghost."
On the verge of agitated speech P. Sybarite checked to shake an
"Bromides are grand for the nerves," he observed cuttingly, "but
you're too young to need 'em - and I want none now.... Listen to me."
Briefly he told his story.
"Well, but the telegram?" Peter insisted. "Does it help - tell you
anything? It's maddening - to think Marian may be in the power of that
bloodthirsty - !"
"There you go again!" P. Sybarite complained - "and not two minutes ago
I warned you about that habit. Wait: I've had time only to run an eye
through this: let me get the sense of it."
Peter peering over his shoulder, the two conned the message in
Monastery Apts., W. 43rd, N.Y.C.
Your wire received all preparations made send patient in charge as
indicated at convenience legal formalities can wait as you suggest.
HAYNES PRIVATE SANATORIUM.
Blankly Peter Kenny looked at his cousin; with eyes in which deepening
understanding mingled with anger as deep, and with profound misgivings
as well, P. Sybarite returned his stare.
"It's as plain as the face on you, Peter Kenny. Why, all along I've
had an indefinite notion that something of the sort was what they were
brewing! Don't you see - 'private sanatorium'? What more proof do you
need of a plot to railroad Marian to a private institution for the
insane? 'Legal formalities can wait as you suggest' - of course! They
hadn't had time to cook up the necessary papers, to suborn medical
certificates and purchase a commitment paper of some corrupt judge.
But what of that?" P. Sybarite demanded, slapping the message
furiously. "She was in the way - at large - liable at any time to do
something that would put her money forever out of their reach.
Therefore she must be put away at once, pending 'legal formalities' to
ensure her permanent incarceration!"
"The dogs!" Peter Kenny growled.
"But consider how they've been served out - thunderbolts - justice from
the very skies! All except one, and," said P. Sybarite solemnly, "God
do so to me and more also if he's alive or outside bars before this
"What can you do to him?"
"To begin with, beat him to that damned asylum. Fetch me the suburban
"Yes!" P. Sybarite raved. "What else? Where is it? And where are your
"Why, here - "
Turning, Peter took the designated volume from its hook beneath the
wall instrument at the very elbow of P. Sybarite.
"I thought," he commented mildly, "you had all _your_ wits about you
and could see it."
"Don't be impudent," grumbled P. Sybarite, rapidly thumbing the pages.
"Westchester," he muttered, adding: "Oscahana - H - Ha - H-a-d - "
"Are you dotty?"
"Look at that telegram. It's dated from Oscahana: that's somewhere in
Westchester, if I'm not mistaken. Yes; here we are: H-a-y - Haynes
Private Sanatorium - number, Oscahana one-nine. You call 'em."
"What shall I say?"
"Where the devil's that cartridge clip you took away from me?... Give
it here.... And I want my money."
"But," Peter protested in a daze, handing over the clip and watching
P. Sybarite rummage in the buffet drawer wherein he had banked his
fortune before setting out for the Bizarre - "but what do you want me
to - "
"Call up that sanatorium - find out if Marian has arrived. If she has,
threaten fire and sword and - all that sort of thing - if they don't
release her - hand her over to me on demand. If she hasn't, make 'em
understand I'll dynamite the place if they let November bring her
there and get away before I show up. Tell 'em to call in the police
and pinch November on sight. And then get a lawyer and send him up
there after me. And then - set the police after November - tell 'em you
heard the shot and went down the fire-escape to investigate.... I'm
The door slammed on Peter as Bewilderment.
In the hall, savagely punching the elevator bell, P. Sybarite employed
the first part of an enforced wait to return the clip of cartridges to
its chamber in the butt of Mrs. Inche's pistol....
He punched the bell again....
He put his thumb upon the button and held it there....
From the bottom of the twelve-story well a faint, shrill
tintinnabulation echoed up to him. But that was all. The car itself
Infuriated, he left off that profitless employment and threw himself
down the stairs, descending in great bounds from landing to landing,
more like a tennis ball than a fairly intelligent specimen of mature
humanity in control of his own actions.
Expecting to be met by the ascending car before halfway to the bottom,
he came to the final flight not only breathless but in a towering
rage - contemplating nothing less than a murderous assault as soon as
he might be able to lay hands upon the hallboys - hoping to find them
together that he might batter their heads one against the other.
But he gained the ground-floor lobby to find it as empty as his own
astonishment - its doors wide to the cold air of dawn, its lights
dimmed to the likeness of smouldering embers by the stark refulgence
of day; but nowhere a sign of a hallboy or anything else in human
As he paused to make sure of the reality of this phenomenon, and
incidentally to regain his breath, there sounded from a distance down
the street a noise the like of which he had never before heard: a
noise resembling more than anything else the almost simultaneous
detonations of something like half a dozen firecrackers of sub-cannon
Without understanding this or even being aware that he had willed his
limbs to action, P. Sybarite found himself in the street.
At the curb his hired car waited, its motor purring sweetly but its
Subjectively he was aware that the sun was up and high enough to throw
a sanguinary glare upon the upper stories of the row of garages across
the street - those same from whose number he had chartered his touring
car. And momentarily he surmised that perhaps the chauffeur had
strolled over to the garage on some idle errand.
But no sooner had this thought enhanced his irritation than he had its
refutation in the discovery of the chauffeur affectionately embracing
a lamp-post three or four doors away, toward Sixth Avenue; and so
singular seemed this sight that P. Sybarite wondered if, by any
chance, the fellow had found time to get drunk during so brief a wait.
At once, blind to all else, and goaded intolerably by his knowledge
that the time was short if he were to forestall November at the asylum
in Oscahana, he pelted hot-foot after the delinquent; came up with him
in a trice; tapped him smartly on the shoulder.
"Here!" he cried indignantly - "what the deuce's the matter with you?"
The man showed him a face pale with excitement; recognised his
employer; but made no offer to stir.
"Come!" P. Sybarite insisted irascibly. "I've no time to waste. Get a
move on you, man!"
But as he spoke his accents were blotted out by a repetition of that
portentous noise which had saluted him in the lobby of the Monastery,
a moment since.
His eyes, veering inevitably toward the source of that uproar, found
it quickly enough to see short, vicious jets of flame licking out
against the gloom of an open garage doorway, nearly opposite the
Hippodrome stage entrance - something like a hundred feet down the
"What," he cried, "in Hades - !"
"Gang fight," his chauffeur informed him briefly: "fly-cops cornered a
bunch of 'em in November's garage - "
"_Whose_ garage - ?"
"Red November's! Guess you've heard of him," the man pursued eagerly.
"That's right - he runs his own garage - taxis for Dutch House souses,
yunno - "
"Wait!" P. Sybarite interrupted. "Let me get this straight."
Stimulated by this news, his wits comprehended the situation at a
At the side of his chauffeur, he found himself in line with a number
of that spontaneous class which at the first hint of sensation springs
up from nowhere in the streets of Manhattan. Early as was the hour,
they were already quite fifty strong; and every minute brought
re-enforcements straggling up from Fifth Avenue.
But the lamp-post - still a mute, insensate recipient of the
chauffeur's amorous clasp - marked a boundary beyond which curiosity
failed to allure.
Similarly at Sixth Avenue, a rabble was collecting, blocking the
roadway and backing up to the Elevated pillars and surface-car
tracks - but to a man balking at an invisible line drawn from corner to
Midway, the dark open doorway to November's garage yawned
forbiddingly; and in all the space that separated these two gatherings
of spectators, there were visible just three human figures: a
uniformed patrolman, and two plain-clothes men - the former at a
discreet distance, the two latter more boldly stationed and holding
revolvers ready for instant employment.
"Fly-cops," the chauffeur named the two in citizen's clothing: "I
piped 'em stickin' round while you was inside, an' was wonderin' what
they was after, when all of a sudden I sees November duck up from the
basement next door to the Monastery, and they tries to jump him. That
ain't two minutes ago. November dodges, pulls a gun, and fights 'em
off until he can back into the garage - "
A hand holding an automatic edged into sight round the corner of the
garage door - and the pistol sang like a locust. Instantly one of the
detectives fired. The pistol clattered to the walk as the hand
disappeared. One shot at least had told for law and order.
"Anybody hurt yet?" P. Sybarite asked.
"Not that I know anythin' about."
"But what do you suppose makes 'em keep that door open? You'd think - "
"The way I figure it," the chauffeur cut in, "Red's plannin' to make
his getaway in a car. He's just waitin' till the goin' looks good, and
then he'll sail outa there like a streak of greased lightnin'. Yuh
wanta be ready to duck, too, 'cause he'll come this way, an' keep guns
goin' to prevent anybody from hinderin' him."
"Why this way? Sixth Avenue's nearer."
"Sure it is, but that way he'd have them L pillars to duck, to say
nothin' of the crowd, and no tellin' but what a surface-car might
block him. Yuh watch an' see 'f I ain't doped it out right."
From the dark interior of the besieged garage another automatic
fluttered briskly; across the street a window fell in....
"Look here - you come with me," said P. Sybarite suddenly, plucking his
chauffeur by the sleeve.
With a reluctant backward glance, the man suffered himself to be drawn
apart from the crowd.
"How much nerve have you got?" the little Irishman demanded.
"Who - me? Why?"
"I want to stop this getaway - "