ARTHUR B. REEVE
I THE FOEGEES
II THE EMBEZZLERS
III THE GUN RUNNERS
IV THE GAMBLERS
V THE EAVESDROPPERS
VI THE CLAIRVOYANTS
VII THE PLUNGERS
VIII THE ABDUCTORS
IX THE SHOPLIFTERS
X THE BLACKMAILERS
XI THE DOPE FIENDS
XII THE FUGITIVES
There was something of the look of the hunted animal brought to bay
at last in Carlton Dunlap's face as he let himself into his
apartment late one night toward the close of the year.
On his breath was the lingering odor of whisky yet in his eye and
hand none of the effects. He entered quietly although there was no
apparent reason for such excessive caution. Then he locked the door
with the utmost care although there was no apparent reason for
caution about that either.
Even when he had thus barricaded himself he paused to listen with
all the elemental fear of the cave man who dreaded the footsteps of
his pursuers. In the dim light of the studio apartment he looked
anxiously for the figure of his wife. Constance was not there as
she had been on other nights uneasily awaiting his return. What was
the matter? His hand shook a trifle now as he turned the knob of the
bedroom door and pushed it softly open.
She was asleep. He leaned over not realizing that her every faculty
was keenly alive to his presence that she was acting a part.
"Throw something around yourself Constance" he whispered hoarsely
into her ear as she moved with a little well-feigned start at being
suddenly wakened "and come into the studio. There is something I
must tell you tonight my dear."
"My dear!" she exclaimed bitterly now seeming to rouse herself with
an effort and pretending to put back a stray wisp of her dark hair
in order to hide from him the tears that still lingered on her
flushed cheeks. "You can say that Carlton when it has been every
night the same old threadbare excuse of working at the office until
She set her face in hard lines but could not catch his eye.
"Carlton Dunlap" she added in a tone that rasped his very soul "I
am nobody's fool. I may not know much about bookkeeping and
accounting but I can add--and two and two when the same man but
different women compose each two do not make four according to my
arithmetic but three from which"--she finished almost
hysterically the little speech she had prepared but it seemed to
fall flat before the man's curiously altered manner--"from which I
shall subtract one."
She burst into tears.
"Listen" he urged taking her arm gently to lead her to an easy-
"No no no!" she cried now thoroughly aroused with eyes that
again snapped accusation and defiance at him "don't touch me. Talk
to me if you want to but don't don't come near me." She was now
facing him standing in the high-ceilinged "studio" as they called
the room where she had kept up in a desultory manner for her own
amusement the art studies which had interested her before her
marriage. "What is it that you want to say? The other nights you
said nothing at all. Have you at last thought up an excuse? I hope
it is at least a clever one."
"Constance" he remonstrated looking fearfully about. Instinctively
she felt that her accusation was unjust. Not even that had dulled
the hunted look in his face. "Perhaps--perhaps if it were that of
which you suspect me we could patch it up. I don't know. But
Constance I--I must leave for the west on the first train in the
morning." He did not pause to notice her startled look but raced
on. "I have worked every night this week trying to straighten out
those accounts of mine by the first of the year and--and I can't do
it. An expert begins on them in a couple of days. You must call up
the office to-morrow and tell them that I am ill tell them
anything. I must get at least a day or two start before they--"
"Carlton" she interrupted "what is the matter? What have you--"
She checked herself in surprise. He had been fumbling in his pocket
and now laid down a pile of green and yellow banknotes on the table.
"I have scraped together every last cent I can spare" he continued
talking jerkily to suppress his emotion. "They cannot take those
away from you Constance. And--when I am settled--in a new life" he
swallowed hard and averted his eyes further from her startled gaze
"under a new name somewhere if you have just a little spot in your
heart that still responds to me I--I--no it is too much even to
hope. Constance the accounts will not come out right because I am--
I am an embezzler."
He bit off the word viciously and then sank his head into his hands
and bowed it to a depth that alone could express his shame.
Why did she not say something do something? Some women would have
fainted. Some would have denounced him. But she stood there and he
dared not look up to read what was written in her face. He felt
alone all alone with every man's hand against him he who had
never in all his life felt so or had done anything to make him feel
so before. He groaned as the sweat of his mental and physical agony
poured coldly out on his forehead. All that he knew was that she was
standing there silent looking him through and through as cold as
a statue. Was she the personification of justice? Was this but a
foretaste of the ostracism of the world?
"When we were first married Constance" he began sadly "I was only
a clerk for Green & Co. at two thousand a year. We talked it over.
I stayed and in time became cashier at five thousand. But you know
as well as I that five thousand does not meet the social obligations
laid on us by our position in the circle in which we are forced to
His voice had become cold and hard but he did not allow himself to
be betrayed into adding as he might well have done in justice to
himself that to her even a thousand dollars a month would have been
only a beginning. It was not that she had be accustomed to so much
in the station of life from which he had taken her. The plain fact
was that New York had had an over-tonic effect on her.
"You were not a nagging woman Constance" he went on in a somewhat
softened tone. "In fact you have been a good wife; yon have never
thrown it up to me that I was unable to make good to the degree of
many of our friends in purely commercial lines. All you have ever
said is the truth. A banking house pays low for its brains. My God!"
he cried stiffening out in the chair and clenching his fists "it
pays low for its temptations too."
There had been nothing in the world Carlton would not have given to
make happy the woman who stood now leaning on the table in cold
silence with averted head regarding neither him nor the pile of
"Hundreds of thousands of dollars passed through my hands every
week" he resumed. "That business owed me for my care of it. It was
taking the best in me and in return was not paying what other
businesses paid for the best in other men. When a man gets thinking
that way with a woman whom he loves as I love you--something
He paused in the bitterness of his thoughts. She moved as if to
speak. "No no" he interrupted. "Hear me out first. All I asked was
a chance to employ a little of the money that I saw about me--not to
take it but to employ it for a little while a few days perhaps
only a few hours. Money breeds money. Why should I not use some of
this idle money to pay me what I ought to have?
"When Mr. Green was away last summer I heard some inside news about
a certain stock go it happened that I began to juggle the accounts.
It is too long a story to tell how I did it. Anybody in my position
could have done it--for a time. It would not interest you anyhow.
But I did it. The first venture was successful. Also the spending of
the money was very successful in its way. That was the money that
took us to the fashionable hotel in Atlantic City where we met so
many people. Instead of helping me it got me in deeper.
"When the profit from this first deal was spent there was nothing to
do but to repeat what I had done successfully before. I could not
quit now. I tried again a little hypothecation of some bonds.
Stocks went down. I had made a bad bet and five thousand dollars was
wiped out a whole year's salary. I tried again and wiped out five
thousand more. I was at my wits' end. I have borrowed under
fictitious names used names of obscure persons as borrowers have
put up dummy security. It was possible because I controlled the
audits. But it has done no good. The losses have far outbalanced the
winnings and to-day I am in for twenty-five thousand dollars."
She was watching him now with dilating eyes as the horror of the
situation was burned into her soul. He raced on afraid to pause
lest she should interrupt him.
"Mr. Green has been talked into introducing scientific management
and a new system into the business by a certified public accountant
an expert in installing systems and discovering irregularities. Here
I am faced by certain exposure" he went on pacing the floor and
looking everywhere but at her face. "What should I do? Borrow? It is
useless. I have no security that anyone would accept.
"There is just one thing left." He lowered his voice until it almost
sank into a hoarse whisper. "I must cut loose. I have scraped
together what I can and I have borrowed on my life insurance. Here
on the table is all that I can spare.
"To-night the last night I have worked frantically in a vain hope
that something some way would at last turn up. It has not. There is
no other way out. In despair I have put this off until the last
moment. But I have thought of nothing else for a week. Good God
Constance I have reached the mental state where even intoxicants
fail to intoxicate."
He dropped back again into the deep chair and sank his head again on
his hands. He groaned as he thought of the agony of packing a bag
and slinking for the Western express through the crowds at the
Still Constance was silent. Through her mind was running the single
thought that she had misjudged him. There had been no other woman in
the case. As he spoke there came flooding into her heart the sudden
realization of the truth. He had done it for her.
It was a rude and bitter awakening after the past months when the
increased income with no questions asked had made her feel that
they were advancing. She passed her hands over her eyes but there
it was still not a dream but a harsh reality. If she could only
have gone back and undone it! But what was done was done She was
amazed at herself. It was not horror of the deed that sent an icy
shudder over her. It was horror of exposure.
He had done it for her. Over and over again that thought raced
through her mind. She steeled herself at last to speak. She hardly
knew what was in her own mind what the conflicting surging
emotions of her own heart meant.
"And so you are leaving me what is left leaving me in disgrace
and you are going to do the best you can to get away safely. You
want me to tell one last lie for you."
There was an unnatural hollowness in her voice which he did not
understand but which out him to the quick. He had killed love. He
was alone. He knew it. With a final effort he tried to moisten his
parched lips to answer. At last in a husky voice he managed to
But with all his power of will he could not look at her.
"Carlton Dunlap" she cried leaning both hands for support on the
table bending over and at last forcing him to look her in the eyes
"do you know what I think of you? I think you are a damned coward.
Instead of tears and recriminations instead of the conventional
"How could you do it?" instead of burning denunciation of him for
ruining her life he read something else in her face. What was it?
"Coward?" he repeated slowly. "What would you have me do--take you
She tossed her head contemptuously.
"Stay and face it?" he hazarded again.
"Is there no other way?" she asked still leaning forward with her
eyes fixed on his. "Think! Is there no way that you could avoid
discovery just for a time? Carlton you--we are cornered. Is there
no desperate chance?"
He shook his head sadly.
Her eyes wandered momentarily about the studio until they rested on
an easel. On it stood a water color on which she had been working
trying to put into it some of the feeling which she would never have
put into words for him. On the walls of the apartment were pen and
ink sketches scores of little things which she had done for her own
amusement. She bit her lip as an idea flashed through her mind.
He shook his head again mournfully.
"Somewhere" she said slowly "I have read that clever forgers use
water colors and pen and ink like regular artists. Think--think! Is
there no way that we--that I could forge a check that would give us
breathing space perhaps rescue us?"
Carlton leaned over the table toward her fascinated. He placed both
his hands on hers. They were icy but she did not withdraw them.
For an instant they looked into each other's eyes an instant and
then they understood. They were partners in crime amateurs perhaps
but partners as they had been in honesty.
It was a new idea that she had suggested to him. Why should lie not
act on it? Why hesitate? Why stop at it? He was already an
embezzler. Why not add a new crime to the list? As he looked into
her eyes he felt a new strength. Together they could do it. Hers was
the brain that had conceived the way out. She had the will the
compelling power to carry the thing through. He would throw himself
on her intuition her brain her skill her daring.
On his desk in the corner where often until far into the night he
had worked on the huge ruled sheets of paper covered with figures of
the firm's accounts he saw two goose-necked vials one of lemon-
colored liquid the other of raspberry color. One was of tartaric
acid the other of chloride of lime. It was an ordinary ink
eradicator. Near the bottles lay a rod of glass with a curious tip
an ink eraser made of finely spun glass threads which scraped away
the surface of the paper more delicately than any other tool that
had been devised. There were the materials for his their
rehabilitation if they were placed in his wife's deft artist
fingers. Here was all the chemistry and artistry of forgery at hand.
"Yes" he answered eagerly "there is a way Constance. Together we
can do it."
There was no time for tenderness between them now. It was cold hard
fact and they understood each other too well to stop for
Far into the night they sat up and discussed the way in which they
would go about the crime. They practised with erasers and with brush
and water color on the protective coloring tint on some canceled
checks of his own. Carlton must get a check of a firm in town a
check that bore a genuine signature. In it they would make such
trifling changes in the body as would attract no attention in
passing yet would yield a substantial sum toward wiping out
Carlton's unfortunate deficit.
Late as he had worked the night before nervous and shaky as he felt
after the sleepless hours of planning their new life Carlton was
the first at the office in the morning. His hand trembled as he ran
through the huge batch of mail already left at the first delivery.
He paused as he came to one letter with the name "W. J. REYNOLDS
CO." on it.
Here was a check in payment of a small bill he knew. It was from a
firm which habitually kept hundreds of thousands on deposit at the
Gorham Bank. It fitted the case admirably. He slit open the letter.
There neatly folded was the check:
No. 15711. Dec. 27 191--.
THE GORHAM NATIONAL BANK
Pay to the order of....... Green & Co.......
Twenty-five 00/100 ..................Dollars
W. J. REYNOLDS Co. per CHAS. M. BROWN Treas.
It flashed over him in a moment what to do. Twenty-five thousand
would just about cover his shortage. The Reynolds firm was a big
one doing big transactions. He slipped the check into his pocket.
The check might have been stolen in the mail. Why not?
The journey uptown was most excruciatingly long in spite of the
fact that he had met no one he knew either at the office or outside.
At last he arrived home to find Constance waiting anxiously.
"Did you get a check?" she asked hardly waiting for his reply. "Let
me see it. Give it to me."
The coolness with which she went about it amazed him. "It has the
amount punched on it with a check punch" she observed as she ran
her quick eye over it while he explained his plan. "We'll have to
fill up some of those holes made by the punch."
"I know the kind they used" he answered. "I'll get one and a desk
check from the Gorham. You do the artistic work my dear. My
knowledge of check punches watermarks and paper will furnish the
rest. I'll be back directly. Don't forget to call up the office a
little before the time I usually arrive there and tell them I am
With her light-fingered touch she worked feverishly partly with the
liquid ink eradicator but mostly with the spun-glass eraser. First
she rubbed out the cents after the written figure "Twenty-five."
Carefully with a blunt instrument she smoothed down the roughened
surface of the paper so that the ink would not run in the fibers and
blot. Over and over she practised writing the "Thousand" in a hand
like that on the check. She already had the capital "T" in "Twenty"
as a guide. During the night in practising she had found that in
raising checks only seven capital letters were used--O in one T in
two three ten and thousand F in four and five S in six and
seven E in eight N in nine and H in hundred.
At last even her practice satisfied her. Then with a coolness born
only of desperation she wrote in the words "Thousand 00/100." When
she had done it she stopped to wonder at herself. She was amazed and
perhaps a little frightened at how readily she adapted herself to
the crime of forgery. She did not know that it was one of the few
crimes in which women had proved themselves most proficient though
she felt her own proficiency and native ability for copying.
Again the eraser came into play to remove the cents after the figure
"25." A comma and three zeros following it were inserted followed
by a new "00/100." The signature was left untouched.
Erasing the name of "Green & Co." presented greater difficulties
but it was accomplished with as little loss of the protective
coloring on the surface of the check as possible. Then after the
"Pay to the order of" she wrote in as her husband had directed
"The Carlton Realty Co."
Next came the water color to restore the protective tint where the
glass eraser and the acids had removed it. There was much delicate
matching of tints and careful painting in with a fine camel's hair
brush until at last the color of those parts where there had been
an erasure was apparently as good as any other part.
Of course under the microscope there could have been seen the angry
crisscrossing of the fibers of the paper due to the harsh action of
the acids and the glass eraser. Still painting the whole thing over
with a little resinous liquid somewhat restored the glaze to the
paper at least sufficiently to satisfy a cursory glance of the
There remained the difficulty of the protective punch marks. There
they were a star cut out of the check itself a dollar sign and 25
followed by another star.
She was still admiring her handiwork giving it here and there a