portieres, looked inside the library. Seated in
her father's favorite chair was her uncle, John
Hale. By his side stood Frank Latirner, both
with their backs partly turned toward her. Her
uncle's raised voice reached her in the stillness
and she caught the mention of her husband's
" I know very little about Joe Richards' ante-
cedents," John Hale stated. " He seems a good
fellow, whole-souled, well-set-up educated.
We knew nothing of Judith's marriage until her
" How about Richards' financial standing? "
" Why do you ask, Frank ? " John Hale re-
garded his friend in surprise.
Latimer moved nearer. " The question is
prompted by our long friendship, John, by my
affection for Judith." The gravity of his manner
startled the listening girl. " I had to see you
to-night; I could not rest until I did." Latimer
The Knave of Hearts
polished his round spectacles and adjusted them
with care. " What we say is in confidence. It
is imperative that I get some information about
Richards, particularly as to his financial standing.
Has he money? "
" He appears to have plenty of ready cash,"
admitted John Hale slowly. " I heard to-day
that he has applied for a position with the Ludlow
'Locomotive Works." He paused. " Tuesday
Richards went to our bank and asked for a loan,
offered to supply bonds as collateral, and gave us
as references that is how I learned of the trans-
" Did the bank make the loan? "
" Not yet ; the treasurer consulted me, and has
the matter under advisement." Again he paused.
" It greatly depends upon the bonds he offers."
Latimer stared at his companion. " Good
Lord ! " he groaned, and again wiped his glasses.
" Listen, John, and don't breathe a word of what
I say, d'ye hear? "
" I won't," and the pledge rang out clearly.
" Judith came to my office this afternoon and
asked me to sell ten bonds of the Troy Valve
Company. I advised her to borrow from her
bank, offering them as collateral, and before she
left she gave me the bond numbers, 3/982 to
The Unseen Ear
37991. She hadn't been gone five minutes when
my clerk brought me in ten bonds of the Troy
Valve Company bearing those identical numbers.
See for yourself," and he laid a bundle of papers
in John Hale's hand. " The bonds had been sold
to us not ten minutes before to cover margins in
stock speculations when the market fell to-day."
" Well, go on," urged John Hale.
" The speculator and the man who sold the
bonds are one and the same person Joseph
Richards. Now, how did Richards get hold of
Judith's bonds which, mind you, she expected to
bring to me to-morrow ? "
John Hale, who had followed Latimer's slow
speech with absorbed attention, answered almost
" Robert confided to me this evening that on
careful examination of the contents of his safe to-
day, he found that Judith's bonds were missing."
He stopped, then added, " We have not told
As the full meaning of her uncle's words
dawned on Judith she swayed upon her feet and
in desperation clutched the glass and prevented
it from slipping through her shaking fingers.
Very softly she tiptoed through the dining room
and out into the central hall. At the stairs she
The Knave of Hearts
paused and, raising the glass, swallowed some of
Anna's " nightcap." She was hardly conscious
of the fiery undiluted liquor which burned her
tongue and throat, but under the false strength
it engendered she hurried up the staircase and
came face to face with her husband on the top
His face cleared at sight of her. " I was
hurrying to find you," he explained, and took the
glass from her. " Your mother told me that she
had sent you for this. I'll take it to Anna. Go
to bed, dearest." And he sped away as Judith
turned into their boudoir.
With slow, uncertain steps Judith made her
way to her dressing table and fell rather than sat
in the chair standing before it.
Her bonds had been stolen Joe had sold them
to Latimer to cover losses in speculation. The
words rang their changes but their distinct
meaning beat itself against her brain and, with a
low moan of anguish, she bowed her head upon
her arms, thereby displacing the playing card
which she had picked up earlier that evening in
the library and flung unheeded on her dressing
table. The red of it caught and held her eye,
and suddenly she laughed loudly unrestrain-
The Unseen Ear
" The Knave of Hearts ! " she gasped between
her bursts of merriment.
As Judith's hysterical laughter echoed through
the open door into the boudoir, a figure just enter-
ing it, paused, listened a moment, then with bent
head, retreated cautiously into the hall and stole
PRO AND CON
AT sight of John Hale towering head and
shoulders above the others in the outer
office of Latimer and House, Stock-
brokers, the senior partner hastily excused him-
self from several persistent clients and sent his
messenger to bring John Hale into his private
"Well?" he demanded without further greet-
ing. "Well, has the night brought counsel?"
John Hale tipped the revolving chair he was
occupying back to its limit before replying.
" The night brought nothing but sleeplessness,"
he groaned. " Whichever way you look at it,
Frank, it's a damnable situation. Judith's bonds
missing from her father's safe and discovered in
her husband's possession, and Austin found
stabbed to death within a few feet of the opened
safe in which her bonds were kept. My God!
Frank," he bent nearer and Latimer saw the
beads of perspiration standing on his brow,
" do you realize all that that implies?"
The Unseen Ear
" You mean that Joe Richards opened the safe,
stole the bonds and, caught in the act by Austin,
killed him? " asked Latimer.
" Yes, that's about it." John Hale twirled his
walking stick about. " Well, it tallies, doesn't
it ? " and only by an effort of will did he hide a
touch of eagerness.
Latimer pondered a moment before replying.
" Yes, it tallies," he agreed, " but you have no
evidence to substantiate it. For instance, to open
the safe Richards had to know the combination."
" Well, he might have picked it up."
" True, he might have, but you will have to
prove that he did."
" I prove it? " John Hale's heavy brows met
in a scowl. " That's the % detective's job, not
" I used the pronoun to imply the prosecution,
and not in its personal application," Latimer ex-
plained. " Where was Richards on Tuesday
" Playing billiards at the club."
" Have you proof of the exact time he left
" No, but I'll get it," and John Hale's tone im-
plied grim determination.
" Then suppose you make inquiries at the
Pro and Con
club," suggested Latimer; " but be guarded, John.
Every one's attention is focused on Austin's mur-
der and you might start an ugly scandal."
John Hale reddened. " Well, what if I do? "
he grumbled. " The situation couldn't be much
worse than it is to-day," shooting a defiant look
at his friend. " Austin murdered under mysteri-
ous circumstances, and the police haunting our
house, not to mention the morbid sight-seers who
gather about it. I cannot stir out of the place
without encountering curious glances. Even at
the club there's excitement whenever I appear
and the newspaper men!" He struck the desk
a resounding blow with his clenched fist. " Damn
it! If Richards murdered Austin he'll swing for
it I con't care if he's married Judith a dozen
" Easy, easy," cautioned Latimer. " Cool
down, John, and let us discuss this matter ration-
ally. What have we discovered against Rich-
" That he was playing the market, that he was
in need of funds, and that he had in his posses-
sion bonds belonging to Judith which had been
stolen on Tuesday night from my brother's safe,
near which we found Austin's body in the small
hours of Wednesday morning." John Hale
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moderated his excited manner. " Pretty damn-
" As far as it goes," agreed Latimer. " Now,
to make it conclusive you must prove; first, that
Richards was at your house between Tuesday
midnight and one A. M. Wednesday ; and secondly,
that he knew the combination of your brother's
safe. Recollect, it was not forced open."
" I'll make it my business to find out." John
Hale reached for his hat and his gloves which
he had tossed on the desk. " I am also go-
ing to have inquiries made regarding Richards'
" An excellent idea," exclaimed Latimer.
" But you had better employ a private detective
agency, John, rather than the local police. Try
the Burroughs Company, they handled some work
for our firm when Johnston, the bank cashier,
hypothecated stock belonging to us."
"Where's their office?" asked John Hale,
jotting down the name on the back of an envelope.
" In the Fendall Building, corner of John
John Hale completed the address and replaced
the envelope in his breast pocket.
" Listen, Frank," he began. " Austin's mur-
der was unpremeditated the weapon used
Pro and Con
proves that. No man would deliberately kill an-
other with a pair of shears."
Latimer shook his head in doubt. " You are
taking a great deal for granted," he protested.
" Not a bit of it," vigorously. " Austin
caught Richards going through the safe and
Richards grabbed the first thing handy Judith's
shears." Latimer said nothing, and after a
brief pause John Hale continued. " The crime
was committed by some one familiar with the
habits of our household the police claim that.
No better time could have been selected for rifling
^Robert's safe. He was ill in bed, and Agatha
and I were attending the French Embassy recep-
tion and, by the way, we decided to go only at
the last moment that's an important point."
"You mean "
" Richards was present when I told Agatha that
I would take her to the reception, and he left the
house immediately afterward." John Hale was
becoming excited again. " Thus, Richards knew
that the coast would be clear."
" Hold on, he was aware that Judith was at
home, and the servants, also," objected Latimer.
"Sure, and he knew that our servants retire
early. Anna sees to the closing of the house, and
she is very strict with the other servants." John
The Unseen Ear
Hale rose abruptly and emphasized his words by
striking his cane against the floor. " And Rich-
ards knew that Judith would not be likely to hear
him, and if she did "
"Well, what then? " as John Hale paused.
" He probably had a plausible excuse handy.
Oh, he could have manufactured some story which
Judith would have swallowed," retorted John
Hale. " Remember, they haven't been married
Latimer frowned. " Who is going to tell
Judith about the theft of her bonds ? " he asked,
" It's up to you." John Hale moved uneasily
and glanced away from his companion. " Judith
came to you about her bonds."
" Dash it all, John ! " Latimer spoke with tem-
per. " I'm damned if I will. Don't you realize
that Judith worships her husband? "
" Well, it's not the first time a woman has been
deceived in a man," replied Hale cynically.
" What did she marry for in such an all-fired
hurry? I am sorry for Judith, but she must
' dree her weird.' '
Whatever reply Latimer intended making was
interrupted by the entrance of a clerk.
" This special delivery letter has just come for
Pro and Con
you, sir," he explained handing it to Latimer.
Then, with a polite bow to John Hale, of which
the latter took not the slightest notice, the clerk
Latimer tore open the envelope and ran his
eyes down the written page to the signature. An
exclamation escaped him.
" It is from Judith," he said. " Listen :
I gave my Valve bonds to Joe to use as he saw fit,
and he tells me that he took the shares to you and you
were kind enough to arrange the business for him, so
I shall not need the $1,000 after all.
Please don't tell the family that I've become a bit of
a gambler; Joe doesn't quite approve of a woman
speculating, but he's dear about it.
Thanks for all your kindness.
Latimer and John Hale stared at each other.
" Let me see that letter," the latter demanded,
and he read it twice before handing it back to
Latimer. " What do you make of it ? "
Latimer laughed heartily. " Thank God I
shan't have to break any unpleasant news to her,"
he exclaimed. " But the inconsistency of women !
To come to me for advice and then get her hus-
band to do exactly what I advised her not to."
The Unseen Ear
" What was your advice? "
" To use the bonds as collateral at a bank and
not sell them."
John Hale studied him in thoughtful silence
for a minute.
" When did Richards bring the bonds here,
Frank?" he asked. "Was it some time after
" No ; come to think of it, he must have been
in the outer office when Judith was talking to me,"
responded Latimer, and his face grew grave once
"And Judith states" John Hale picked up
his niece's letter " ' I gave my Valve bonds to
Joe to use as he saw fit and he tells me that he
took the bonds to you ' Did Judith mention
to you where she had the bonds? "
" Now that you speak of it, she did say that
they were in her father's safe." Latimer
eyed John Hale sharply. " What are you driving
" Simply this, that if Richards was in your
front office with the bonds in his possession, they
could not have been where Judith thought them
in her father's safe. Secondly," and John
Hale's voice deepened " there was no time for
Judith to return home, get the bonds and give
Pro and Con
them to Richards before he sold them to your
clerk here in your outer office. Isn't that right ? "
" Yes." Latimer's worried look returned.
" By Jove, you think ? "
" That Judith has discovered that her bonds
" Do you suppose your brother told her? "
" I hardly think so, for he swore me to
secrecy," replied John Hale. " No, Judith must
have gone to get the bonds and found them miss-
ing from the safe."
" But, good Lord ! How did she know that
her husband had brought the bonds to me ? " de-
" Ask me something easy." Hale swung his
cane around and stepped briskly to the door.
" But depend on it, Frank, I'll find an answer to
that question before I'm many hours older."
And he banged out of the door.
Latimer strode thoughtfully up and down his
office, then reseated himself at his desk.
"What's come over John?" he muttered.
" He seemed anxious," he paused " no, more
than anxious, determined, to fix the guilt on
He leaned forward and eyed Judith's letter,
reading it slowly, conning over the words, and
The Unseen Ear
when he straightened up there was a gleam of
frank admiration in his eyes.
" You are a loyal woman, Judith," he ex-
claimed, unconscious that he spoke aloud. " As
well as * a bit of a gambler.' "
HALF A SHEET
POLLY DAVIS closed the vestibule door
of her home in C Street with a veritable
slam and proceeded up the street oblivi-
ous of greetings from several of her neighbors.
The street, celebrated in its day for having among
the occupants of its stately old-fashioned brick
houses such personages as John C. Fremont, John
C. Calhoun, and General Winfield Scott, was
chiefly given over to modern business enterprises,
and only a few " Cave-dwellers " (the name be-
stowed upon Washingtonians by an earnest
" climber " to its exclusive resident circles) still
occupied the homes of their ancestors.
Polly slackened her swift walk into a saunter
as she turned the corner from C Street into John
Marshall Place. On reaching D Street she ac-
celerated her speed somewhat on catching sight of
an approaching street car, but it did not stop to
take on passengers, and Polly walked back to the
curb with an uncomplimentary opinion of the
service of one of Washington's public utilities.
The Unseen Ear
She waited in indecision on the corner, then open-
ing her hand bag, took from it a scrap of paper
and consulted the name written thereon. After
studying the paper for a minute, she turned and
eyed the large, red brick and stone trimmed office
building standing on the southeast corner facing
the District Court House. She had seen the
Fendall Building innumerable times since her
childhood days, but never before had it held her
There was a certain set air to Polly's shoulders,
which, to one acquainted with her characteristics,
indicated obstinacy, as she crossed the street and
entered the Fendall Building. She paused in the
lobby in front of the floor directory and then
continued to the second story. At the far end of
the corridor she stopped before a closed door
bearing on its ground glass the title, in gold let-
Burroughs Detective Agency
ALFRED BURROUGHS, Prop.
Polly returned to her hand bag the scrap of
paper which she still held tightly between the
fingers of her left hand, took out a visiting card,
and stepped inside the office. There was no one
in the room, and, with a surprised glance about
Half a Sheet
her, Polly crossed to a door evidently leading to
an inner office. The door was only partly closed,
and through the opening a familiar voice floated
out to her-j
" I depend upon your discretion, Mr. Bur-
roughs. Remember, my name must not be men-
tioned in connection with your employment in the
case " The grating sound of chairs being
pushed back followed, and any answer was
The hand which Polly had extended to knock
against the panel of the door fell nerveless to her
side. With eyes distended to twice their normal
size, she retraced her footsteps out of the office
and the building.
When Polly reached the Hale residence she
was admitted by the parlor maid instead of the
ever smiling Anna.
" Mr. Hale left word, Miss Polly, that you
were to go to Mrs. Hale," Maud announced, help-
ing Polly off with her coat and hat.
"Oh," Polly paused. "Where is Mrs.
" I don't rightly know, miss." Maud emerged
from the depths of the hall closet where she had
hung Polly's wraps. " Mrs. Hale came in not
three minutes ago. I think she has gone to her
The Unseen Ear
bedroom. Will you have some lunch now, miss,
or a little later?"
" A little later, thanks " Polly regarded the
hall clock. " I had no idea it was nearly noon.
You will find me with Mrs. Hale, Maud."
" Very good, miss," and they separated, the
maid going to her pantry, and Polly in search of
Mrs. Hale. She found that energetic matron
just crossing the hall toward Judith's boudoir.
At the sound of Polly's hail she faced around.
"Is it you, Polly!" Mrs. Hale frequently
asked the obvious. " My dear, aren't you very
Polly blushed at the emphasis on the adjective.
" A little later than ordinary," she answered good-
naturedly. " I will make up the time, Mrs. Hale,
and your husband's manuscript will be completed
without delay. Maud said that your husband left
word that I was to report to you."
" Did he? " Mrs. Hale regarded her in some
perplexity. " Why, last night he decided that
you were not strong enough to aid me in answer-
ing my letters; he must have changed his mind,
for he wouldn't have sent you to me for anything
Polly's attention had been caught by one phrase
and the rest of Mrs. Hale's speech went unheeded.
Half a Sheet
"Your husband said I was not strong?" she
questioned. " I am quite well. What made him
think otherwise ? "
" Judith put the idea in his head." Mrs. Hale
led the way into the boudoir as she spoke and
selected a chair near her daughter's desk, on
which were piled the notes of condolence, in an-
ticipation of Richards' answering them under
Judith's supervision. " Judith is very much wor-
ried about your health, my dear."
" That is very kind of Judith." Polly slipped
into the seat before Judith's desk at a sign from
Mrs. Hale. " But your daughter is mistaken. I
am not in the least ill."
" I am delighted to hear it." Mrs. Hale looked
at her husband's pretty secretary with approval.
" Judith is always so positive in her statements.
I could not see that you looked run down, but
she insisted that you needed a change, and
arranged with Mr. Hale to give you a vaca-
" Indeed ! " The frigid exclamation escaped
Polly unwittingly, but Mrs. Hale apparently was
oblivious of the girl's chilly reception of Judith's
" I am glad you don't require a vacation," she
went on. " Mr. Hale is particularly in need of
The Unseen Ear
your services, and it would be most unkind to
leave him in the lurch."
" I have no intention of doing so, Mrs. Hale,"
declared Polly with some warmth. " Aside from
the question of my not being able to afford a
vacation, gratitude to Mr. Hale, alone, would pre-
vent me from going away just now." She passed
owe restless hand over the other. " What pos-
sessed Judith to wish to get rid of me 2 "
" Now, my dear," Mrs. Hale held up a pro-
testing hand " don't get such a notion in your
head. Judith is devoted to you; we all are, but
she imagined you know Judith greatly depends
upon her imagination she is so, so," hunting
about for a word "so shut in with her deaf-
ness, and she is forever imagining things about
" And what does she imagine about me ? " asked
Polly, as Mrs. Hale came to a somewhat incoher-
" That you were on the point of nervous pros-
Polly laughed a bit unsteadily. " Only the
wealthy can afford nervous ' prosperity,' and I am
not in that class," she said. " I must work
work!" She spoke with nervous vehemence;
Mrs. Hale's surprised expression checked her ; and
Half a Sheet
with an effort she regained her self-control.
" What can I do for you? "
" Answer these notes," and Mrs. Hale laid her
hand on them. " Take this black-edged note
paper," holding out a box she had brought with
Mrs. Hale's powers of observation were wool-
gathering as she dictated her answers, first read-
ing each letter in a monotone in itself enough
to try the steadiest nerves before composing
its answer; then losing her place and having to
be prompted, which added to her already confused
state of mind. Every expression of sympathy in
the notes brought tears in its train, and if the
steady application of Mrs. Hale's handkerchief
proved an additional barrier to the speedy com-
pletion of her task, it also prevented her perceiv-
ing the wavering writing of Polly's swiftly mov-
" Austin was very much beloved," she re-
marked. " I cannot understand, as I told my
husband over and over, I cannot understand who
would have a motive for killing him. It is be-
" Yes," murmured Polly. She laid down her
pen and rubbed her stiff fingers. There still re-
mained numerous notes to answer. " Dear Mrs.
The Unseen Ear
Hale, let me finish answering these later on.
You must be exhausted."
" No, they must be completed now," Mrs. Hale
spoke with firmness, and Polly, hiding her un-
steady fingers under pretense of searching for
another pen among Judith's papers, resigned her-
self to the situation. "Judith suggested that I
order an engraved card of acknowledgment, but I
desire an individual letter sent to each of our
friends. It will not take much more of your
time," observing Polly's eyes stray to her wrist-
" Will you let me complete the letters this after-
noon ? " Polly asked. " I have not touched my
regular work for your husband, and it is nearly
your luncheon hour."
" Luncheon will be half an hour later to-day,"
responded Mrs. Hale. " Anna is laid up and
Maud asked for more time. She is not very
quick at her work, you know."
" Anna ill ! That is too bad," exclaimed Polly.
" I hope it is nothing serious."
" A sprained ankle." Mrs. Hale leaned back
in her chair and relaxed; she felt the need of a
little gossip, for in spite of her insistence on com-
pleting her letters, the steady application was
commencing to wear upon her. " When any-
Half a Sheet
thing goes wrong with Anna the whole house is
" She is certainly a domestic treasure," agreed
Polly. " How many years has she been with
Mrs. Hale considered before answering.
" She came to us at the time Austin had typhoid
fever; the trained nurse wanted a helper what
did she call Anna?"
" Nurse's aide ? " suggested Polly.
" That was it," and Mrs. Hale smiled. " We
persuaded her to stay on as waitress."