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TWO

DEAD

MEN



BORZOI MYSTERY STORIES

THE LOUDWATER MYSTERY
By Edgar Jepson

THE CASE AND THE GIRL
By Randall Parrish

THE WHISPERING DEAD
By Alfred GanachUly

By J. S. Fletcher:

THE MIDDLE TEMPLE MURDER

THE TALLEYRAND MAXIM

THE HERAPATH PROPERTY

SCARHAVEN KEEP

THE RAYNER-SLADE AMALGAMATION

RAVENSDENE COURT Un Preparation]

A descriptive circular of all Mr. Fletcher's
myxtery stories will be mailed upon request.



TWO DEAD MEN



TRANSLATED FROM THE DANISH OF

JENS ANKER

BY FRITHJOF TOKSVIG




NEW YORK ALFRED A KNOPF MCMXXH



ESERVATION
PY ADDED



COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY
ALFRED A. KNOPF, INC.

Published, Hay, 1922



PBINTID IN THE UNITED STATES 0* AMERICA



PT?/7.r



, rt
TWO

DEAD

MEN



590



PROLOGUE

ABOUT 9 o'clock one spring evening,
Thorvald Hansen, a small humpbacked
cobbler, was putting a room in order at
the back of his basement shop in Saxo street.
The window was covered by an old, ragged rug
heavy with dirt. It looked up into a funnel of a
court, one of a whole line of courts stretching up
to Dannebrog street.

A lamp with a chipped shade burned on the
bare pine table. Two crippled chairs with ragged
cloth seats were placed beside it. An unmade bed
was visible in the rear of the room, a rusty iron
skeleton filled with a heap of filthy rags. The
cobbler's father, the "Old One," as they called
him, had flung himself upon it and was snoring
off the effects of a recent drinking bout. Ordi-
narily he occupied a room up in the garret.

The air in the room was close and oppressive,
due partly to the Old One's exhalations, and
partly to the tobacco in the cobbler's well-chewed

[7]



TWO DEAD MEN

briar-pipe. A framed motto over the bed ex-
pressed the pious wish that God would hold His
Hand over this Home.

The cobbler had now swept the dust and dirt
into the corners and brushed the bread crumbs
off the table. He put the broom away outside in
the shop.

His father was tossing in an uneasy sleep and
snored. The cobbler lounged over to him and
suddenly clapped a hand on his shoulder and be-
gan shaking him:

"They may be here any minute now."

The old man half woke and wrenched himself
away.

"Let me alone, d'ye hear "

"No, I'll be damned if I will" and the son
gripped him again.

"Then give me just a little drop " begged the
old man, and raised himself on his elbow, "I am
so thirsty."

The cobbler did not loose his hold. But an evil
smile slipt over his pallid, fatty countenance un-
der the parted coal black hair. His eyes became
fixed. His brutal jaw with its blue-black stubble
tightened like a muscle.

"Certainly, my dear sir, anything you like
That's just what I'm here for, you know."

[8]



TWO DEAD MEN

He grinned sarcastically, evilly. But there was
a furious strength in his hands as with a sudden
snatch at the old man's shoulder, he tore him out
of bed:

"Get out of that!"

Hansen straightened the rags that served as
bedclothes. The Old One got up laboriously,
dragged himself over to one of the chairs and
slumped down on it, slapped his arms on the table,
and hid his face in his hands.

"Don't tip over that lamp," barked the cobbler
as he knocked his pipe out on the stove over by
the bed and filled it anew. The Old One sat sway-
ing and groaning. The cobbler grinned ma-
liciously.

"There is always a worm in the core, eh?"

The Old One suddenly took his hands away
from his face, blinked at the light and looked
about. First recognizingly, then surprised, then
disapprovingly.

"Why is everything tidied up so this evening?"

"Because we are going to have company,"
grinned his offspring.

Slowly the old man remembered.

"Ah, that is true! Elly and her new intended
are coming."

"Intended!'" the cobbler leered. "It won't
[9]



TWO DEAD MEN

last long, I'll bet. She's a flighty one, is Elly.
She likes variety. He's a queer bird, anyway."

"A genius they say," grunted the old man.

"Genius yes, so she thinks. He's only a
printer, he is, and he hasn't even got a job. It'll
be hard going if they're going to live by his trade."

The Old One nodded and cleared his throat.

"Right you are, m'boy! Right you are a-ah,
my throat! If you only "

He looked beseechingly at his son who sat on
the edge of the bed.

"Hey?" asked that worthy crossly.

" could spare me a little drop "

"What are you whining for now?" demanded the
cobbler with a leer even more evil, if possible,
than before.

"You'll not get a drop to drink!"

A sudden rage seized the old man. He banged
the table with his fist and threateningly en-
deavoured to get up, but could only wave his arms
wildly.

"Do you know whom you are talking to?" he
gasped. "What, rogue a man with whom His
Majes "

"Yes, yes, I know very well that His Majesty
shook hands with you," interrupted his son. "I
know the whole lesson. But even if the Pope him-

[10]



TWO DEAD MEN

self had kissed you, you wouldn't get another drop.
I don't want you any more drunk than you are
already. D'ye see?"

He had been rapping his pipe on the edge of
the bed to keep time to his words. . . . The Old
One had completely missed his heroic oration.
He simply sat and stared dully at the table.

"I am an old man, whom His Majesty " he
whimpered.

The cobbler rose and bent threateningly over
him.

"What are you muttering about?" he rasped.

Just then they heard a noise at the door to the
shop. They both froze and listened. Then came
a series of knocks.

The cobbler breathed easier.

"It's Elly's knock," he said and gave his father
a push in the ribs. "Straighten up now a bit.
D'ye hear?"

The Old One obeyed and the cobbler went into
the dark shop. Before he opened the door he
asked:

"Who's there?"

"It's me, Elly," he heard his sister say, "and my
friend."

Then Thorvald Hansen undid the door.

"God's peace and welcome," he bleated loudly.



TWO DEAD MEN
"Cut out the play acting," said Elly. "Niel-
sen knows you from hearsay. Yes, he's here,



too."



Nielsen greeted him and went with Elly and the
cobbler into the back room.

"The Salvation Army often have people out here
in the street," grinned the cobbler to his sister,
"and souls must be saved. That is why I laid it
on a bit thick."

Nielsen ignored the cobbler's outstretched hand.

Thorvald Hansen regarded him covertly. His
appearance was anything but prepossessing. He
was tall, slender but broad-shouldered. His thick
brown hair was uncombed, and he wore eye-glasses
that seemed rooted to his nose but that did not in
the least obscure the glances from his keen eyes.
He was vilely unshaven, and his brutal mouth was
extremely disfigured by several long, yellow front
teeth which hung tusk-like over his lower lip.

And as for his clothes the cobbler was really
almost ashamed on his sister's account, when he
saw the dirty paper collar and dickey, the long
shabby Prince Albert, the greasy vest and the
baggy and wrinkled blue trousers badly frayed at
the bottom.

Not to speak of cuffs, which were missing.
[12]



TWO DEAD MEN

His boots were the only decent thing about him,
and even they were patched. And his tie, too, was
Worn and spoke of better days.

And Elly, who could play around with counts
if she wished. That one could sink so low! And
worse yet, she was in love with him.

"Nielsen has brought some cognac along," said
Elly and threw her hat and coat on the bed.

The cobbler smiled oilily and offered Nielsen
one of the lame chairs.

"I will fetch some glasses," he promised and
disappeared in the kitchen.

"Nielsen has brought two bottles so we had
better start in," said Elly.

The Old One's eyes gleamed a bit, bleared
though they were.

"A little night-cap," he mumbled feelingly and
turned suddenly toward the daughter, and ges-
tured majestically with his hand.

"Your father is proud of you," he said.

"Nonsense," smiled Elly. She was junoesque,
golden-haired, and fresh as if she had lived a life
among sunlight and flowers.

The cobbler returned with three glasses. What
was just right for three, was too little for four*
Elly poured her portion into a cup.
[13]



TWO DEAD MEN

"Welcome, brother-in-law," toasted the cobbler,
"and good luck to it."

"Luck to it," seconded the Old One.

They drank. Nielsen refilled the empty glasses.

"Is this all there is to the place," he asked and
his keen glances darted around the room and into
the darkened store.

"There is a little kitchen outside," and the cob-
bler indicated it with a gesture that he sought to
make superior. Nielsen irritated him. There
was something curt, almost commanding about
him.

"Let me see this kitchen," said the printer.
The cobbler emptied his glass, and got up and
opened the door to the kitchen.

"This is all there is of it," he said.

The room was small and pitch dark.

Nielson lit a match and looked about. There
was a little window on the court, thick with dust
and dirt. He tried the door to the kitchen stairs.
It was locked.

"Is it sound proof?" he asked and pointed to
the ceiling.

"As the grave," affirmed Hansen and added:
"You are a careful man, brother-in-law."

"Yes, careful," smiled Nielsen with a nod, "but
not afraid, as are some others who daren't open
[14]



TWO DEAD MEN

the door for their own sister, for fear that it might
he a detective."

"You haven't three years behind you, brother,"
grumbled the cobbler, "and I don't want to do it
again, the devil take me. It's a real hell for my
lungs." The cobbler coughed.

"Isn't the Old One going soon?" asked Nielsen.

"I'll get him on his way," promised the cobbler.

"Let's go in again," said the printer.

As they stepped into the back-room, the Old One
stood swaying with the cognac bottle in his hand,
and had nearly emptied it. Elly was ready to
die with laughter at him.

"God! how delightful he is! He drank it as if
it was fresh milk."

Hansen tore the flask from his hand.

"The old swine," he snapped.

"Put him on the bed," proposed Nielsen, and ex-
amined the shop carefully.

The cobbler and Elly dragged the Old One over
to the bed.

" A man, with whom His Majesty has
talked and " muttered the cobbler's worthy
father.

Elly giggled.

"Now he is serving that up to us again."

They threw him onto the bed.
[15]



TWO DEAD MEN

"What kind of a cupboard is this?" they heard
Nielsen say out in the shop.

The cobbler went out and opened the cupboard.
It was empty.

"Be so good as to look, brother-in-law," said
he and then slammed it demonstratively shut.
"Either you are an amateur or else pretty damn
careful."

"Suppose I were both," said Nielsen laughing
shortly.

"Then I should fear," answered the cobbler
somewhat scornfully, "that we would not make so
many coups together, such as you have proposed
to me through Elly."

"If you are not too much of a coward, we shall
start this very evening," said Nielsen, "and there's
big money to be made."

They had gone into the back-room again and
had seated themselves about the table. Elly filled
their glasses. Now and then as she looked at
Nielsen, there came into her eyes a gleam as of un-
veiled and passionate love and of anxiety.

The cobbler looked down into his glass.

"It is all right about the money," he remarked,
"and both the shoe business and the straight and
narrow is not worth that! There's nothing in it

[16]



TWO DEAD MEN

I can't make it go that way. But I won't get
in again. I'll croak if I get shut up."

"You won't get shut up," said Nielsen shortly.
"When you work with me, you risk nothing."

"May I ask then, why you don't work alone?"
asked the cobbler suspiciously.

Nielsen slowly emptied his glass.

"I'll tell you why. This work demands both
body and soul. And I can offer the soul only."

The cobbler whistled in comprehensive irony.

"You mean then, that I should face the music if
things go wrong. Fine. All you'd have to do
would be to lie your way out of it. Or have I
misunderstood you?"

Nielsen shrugged his shoulders.

"In one way you've misunderstood me, in an-
other, no. I will be the brain, and you shall be
the hands that untie the hard knots. You'll get
half the swag.

"But mark you if you try to bunko or double-
cross me, you'll find it'll go hard with you. I
have a certain, dead-sure way for handling that
kind of case" Hansen rather squirmed in his
chair, and opened his mouth as though to speak,
but was silent.

"But perhaps you would rather work entirely on
[17]



TWO DEAD MEN

your own, or with your pals of the old days. It is,
of course, a bit risky, but "

The printer did not finish. He sat and watched
Hansen with his peculiar look, that seemed to bore
through one.

The cobbler had always had bad luck when he
worked alone, though a clever man in his own line,
and he had long ago parted from his comrades.

Therefore he said simply: "I agree."

Nielsen nodded curtly.

"You are a sensible man, Hansen."

Over in the bed, the Old One stirred.

" A man whom His Majesty " he mumbled
and began again his lusty snoring.

"We start tonight, then?" said the cobbler and
emptied his glass.

"Yes, now, tonight," replied Nielsen in a queer
ceremonious way. His eyes met Elly's for an in-
stant. Her eyes fell.

"Well, out with it," harried the cobbler.

Nielsen leaned whisperingly towards him.

"Now, get this carefully "

He talked for a long time, often interrupted
by the cobbler. Elly listened closely, and with
deeply interested eyes. Now and then she sipped
at her glass.

The light from the chipped shade fell remorse-
[18]



TWO DEAD MEN

lessly upon the three set and tense faces, so dis-
similar, and yet so alike in criminal ecstasy.


A short time afterward a burglary was com-
mitted in one of Copenhagen's best-known jewellery
concerns, which in a month's time was followed by
another.

During the summer and autumn four more rob-
beries occurred, quite as mysterious as the first,
evidently executed by the same criminals. The
police were at a loss either to prevent them, or to
find any solution when they occurred.

Then the robberies suddenly ceased.



[19]



CHAPTER 1

A STORM had been raging over the city all
afternoon and evening.
Arne Falk sat writing. It was late.
Suddenly tKe outer door-bell rang. He looked up
from his work, glancing at the clock. It was half
past eleven. His house-keeper and the maid had
gone to bed long ago.

He laid the manuscript, some notes on criminal
statistics, aside, and went out to open the door.

It was Preben Miller, the author.

"Good evening," said Falk with a smile, "I
thought you were terribly angry with me."

"Oh, because of that note you wouldn't in-
dorse?" said Miller, hanging up his hat and stick.
"Bosh! A little thing like that doesn't bother me."

"Thank the Lord," sighed Falk ironically, "but
come in where it's warm.' 1 '

Mjiller followed him.

"I come, really," he said, "to take you along
on a slumming tour. My 'Darkest Copenhagen'
lacks a chapter with the heading 'Behind the
Scenes in the Dance Hells,' or something like that.
And Figaro is wide open tonight."

[20]



TWO DEAD MEN

Falk looked at him in comic despair.

"You're much too greedy! For the last nine
months Fve been introducing you to all the crooks
of Copenhagen who amount to anything. You
know their hiding places and all their tricks.
And now you want the dregs of the dance halls
too!

"Let's put it off till another evening, old fellow.
Let's have a little whisky and a talk here instead.
Why it's snowing and storming outside, worse than
it ever did in any self-respecting December!"

Miller lit a cigar.

"It stopped snowing half an hour ago," he said.
"The storm has let up too."

Falk looked out. It was moonlight with a
crackling frost.

"And where's your overcoat?" he demanded,
turning to his friend.

"I'm toughening myself," smiled the writer, and
straightened his rather stooping shoulders, "and be-
sides my winter coat is in hock somewhere. I
have only my old one to wear, and I hate like the
deuce to risk my reputation as the best dressed
man in town. We all have our little weaknesses."

Falk put out the light.

"You are a silly ass," he said to Miller, pulling
on his overcoat. "You're one of the best of our
[21]



TWO DEAD MEN
myriad scribblers, and you're as prolific as a rat "

" and in spite ol that always broke," con-
tinued Miller with a sigh, and went down the stairs
followed by Falk.

"And why?" asked the latter.

"Ask my tailor and my favourite waiter," said
Miller languidly. He had an odd, lazy way of
speaking, and gave the general impression of being
rather easy-going.

"And your uncles," Falk went on, "and your



women."



"Suppose we stop there," suggested Miller.
"Anyway, you're a good one to preach."

Falk ignored the insinuation.

"Why don't you make a good match?" he asked.

Miller smiled, so that his gleaming white but
false front teeth were visible. His own had been
knocked out in a coasting accident at Dalarne in
Sweden.

"Why? Now you are talking. Who in the
wide world would have me?"

"Ada Stock, for example. There are others be-
sides myself who have been hoping that you two
would make a match of it. She is the daughter
of your late father's best friend you have known
each other from childhood, and then, Captain
Stock is quite wealthy "

[22]



TWO DEAD MEN

"I, too " sighed Miller, "hoped one time
well, you know.

"She has, you see, become engaged today.
Not that my heart is broken. But undeniably
it is, what one in certain circles which you have
done me the honour of acquainting me with
would call a black eye."

"Whom is she engaged to?" asked Falk with
surprise.

"To Lange, Einar Lange."

"Oh, the Futurist! How did he meet the
Stocks?"

"Well, Ada has artistic leanings. She has
studied under him. He told me himself about the
engagement this very evening. I took a little run
up to see old Saabye. Lange came just as I was
about to leave."

"Isn't Saabye his foster-father?"

"Yes, he has been a father to him since Lange
at seventeen entered the Academy, which he now
so heartily detests."

"Wasn't there a bit of a row between them about
a year ago?"

"Yes, Lange wanted to marry a girl who did
not suit his foster-father's taste. And Saabye isn't
the man to keep his opinions to himself. There
is nothing wrong with his intellect either.

[23]



TWO DEAD MEN

"The girl had the lad going pretty strong, was
pretty expensive, and a Vestal Virgin she certainly
was not! Old Saabye prophesied that it would
come to no good, and said right out that if Einar
was bound on making himself a laughing-stock he
was not going to do it on his money at any rate,
etc., etc."

"And did Lange rage?"

"Of course! He was young, barely thirty, and
as temperamental as a Southerner. He told
Saabye to go to the Devil."

"But he didn't marry the girl, then?"

"No, she didn't really care for him anyway.
When he couldn't get any more money out of the
old man, she gave him the gate. And Lange didn't
commit suicide on her account."

"Who was she?" asked Falk.

"A child of the people," smiled Miller. "Gen-
uine Saxo street. But a remarkable woman, with
an uncanny attractiveness to men. Large, bloom-
ing, and blond. And with the same shining fresh
exterior that a worm-eaten fruit can have "

"You seem to know her," smiled Falk.

"Yes, indeed, I do. Of course, I can't think
of her as a wife but "

"What is her name?"

[24]



TWO DEAD MEN

"Elly! Elly Hansen strictly lower-class
As a matter of fact, she's behaving quite well lately,
and I flatter myself that I am the cause of it.
"God help me, I think she's in love with me, old



man."



"Yes, miracles still happen," smiled Falk a
little maliciously.

They turned down Vesterbro's Passage.

"And so Lange is all fixed with Ada Stock," con-
tinued Falk, "and does the match suit the old
man?"

"Yes, he is all sunshine. Old Saabye, that is.
Because Stock senior is probably less enthusiastic
about it. He counts only army officers as human
beings, and understands absolutely nothing of
Futurism."

"Neither do I, thank the Lord," interjected Falk.

"And even if Lange," continued Miller, "has
talent (as he, as a matter-of-fact, is said to have!
What young painter is not full of talent?) he
doesn't earn very much by it.

"I can't help wondering," he remarked almost
peevishly, "how a cool lady like Ada Stock can
go and fall in love with an anarchistic individual
like Lange who goes around with baggy trousers
and no cuffs."

[25]



TWO DEAD MEN

Falk smiled.

"Do the Stocks know anything about Lange's
former relation to Elly Hansen?"

"Are you mad?" Miller stared at him, as-
tounded. "Yes, Ada, maybe, or the mother at a
pinch! But the father! He is as prudish as an
old maid. His ideas about I. 0. U.'s, and the
erotic are on a par with the moral standards of a
Ladies' Aid Society."

"Isn't he a bit stingy, too?"

"Stingy! That's not the word for it," said Mil-
ler, shaking his head in denial.

"His wife fights a constant battle to get enough
money to run the house. But when it comes to
militarism, then his generosity borders on the in-
sane. If I judge him right, Lange himself will
have to pay for the whole outfitting, unless he
wants machine-guns in the living room and cannon
in the bed chamber."

"Maybe you can introduce him to your money-
lenders," laughed Falk.

"Oh, no, I have more than use for them myself,"
sighed Miller and a shudder passed through him.
"Besides, I am freezing."

They had reached the corner of the street where
Preben Miller lived.

[26]



TWO DEAD MEN

"Run up and put your coat on," Falk advised
him. "I'll wait for you."

Miller reflected. Falk smiled a bit scornfully.

"You won't meet any of your imposing acquain-
tances tonight."

Miller still hesitated:

"I really cast it off a year ago. And the cut is
quite out of style oh, well, the deuce with it!"

He unlocked the door and went in. Falk went
back and forth in front of the house. There were
only a few people on the street, and the moonlight
made it seem still more deserted, the snow still
whiter.

He sauntered over to the other side, saw a light
flare up in his friend's room, and go out an instant
afterwards. Four or five minutes passed. Then
Miller opened the door. Falk went over to him.
When he reached his side, the author began to
tremble in spite of his overcoat.

"It is the heat up in the apartment," he said,



"one reacts."



They went down Vesterbro street.

"Do you suppose the Captain will give his con-
sent to the engagement?" Falk continued their
interrupted conversation.

"He has already given it," said Miller and lit
[27]



TWO DEAD MEN

a cigarette. "The engagement has been officially
announced. You'll find it in the papers to-
morrow, or the day after. You see, Ada has a
wonderful way of handling the old man. She
simply freezes him into obedience. You know,
she's rather frigid."

"Her mother has helped her, too, probably?"

Miller shrugged his shoulders.

"She's very sweet, this Mrs. Stock, but she
hasn't a word to say about anything."

"It reminds me of a proverb," said Falk, "that
that woman is a goose who does not understand
how to manage her husband."

"Yes, and the one that does not do it," continued
Miller, "a saint. It so happens that she is
neither."

"It's the daughter then " began Falk but
stopped short and gripped Miller by the arm.
"Isn't that Lange?" he asked and pointed to a
young man who had wrenched open the door of
No. 12, and at that very instant passed them, in
the middle of the road, running swiftly.

His clothes hung on him as if he had dressed
in furious haste. His shoestrings were untied, his
vest unbuttoned and his tie fluttered wildly. He
was without his overcoat despite the frost.

"Yes, that's he," Miller broke out, astounded,
[28]



TWO DEAD MEN

and looked after him. He was already down near
Old Kingsway. "The Lord knows what's the mat-
ter with him. His face was quite pale did you
notice it?"

Falk nodded.

"Does Saabye live there?" he asked, and
pointed to No. 12.

"Yes, and Lange was to stay there tonight on
account of the bad weather," explained Miller.
"He lives away out in Hellerup, and there are no
taxis out tonight."

They stopped outside the street door. Miller
stepped back several paces, and looked up.
Everything was dark at Saabye's.

"He didn't even have time to light the hall-
light," substantiated Falk.

"Let us go up," proposed Miller.

They went in by the front door. Falk lit the
light. On one of the lower steps lay something
which he bent over and picked up. He handed
it to Miller.

"Do you recognize this?"


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