THE CASE OF THE GOLDEN BULLET
THE CASE OF THE GOLDEN BULLET
GRACE ISABEL COLBRON AND AUGUSTA GRONER
INTRODUCTION TO JOE MULLER
Joseph Muller Secret Service detective of the Imperial Austrian
police is one of the great experts in his profession. In
personality he differs greatly from other famous detectives. He
has neither the impressive authority of Sherlock Holmes nor the
keen brilliancy of Monsieur Lecoq. Muller is a small slight
plain-looking man of indefinite age and of much humbleness of
mien. A naturally retiring modest disposition and two external
causes are the reasons for Muller's humbleness of manner which
is his chief characteristic. One cause is the fact that in early
youth a miscarriage of justice gave him several years in prison
an experience which cast a stigma on his name and which made it
impossible for him for many years after to obtain honest
employment. But the world is richer and safer by Muller's
early misfortune. For it was this experience which threw him
back on his own peculiar talents for a livelihood and drove him
into the police force. Had he been able to enter any other
profession his genius might have been stunted to a mere pastime
instead of being as now utilised for the public good.
Then the red tape and bureaucratic etiquette which attaches to
every governmental department puts the secret service men of the
Imperial police on a par with the lower ranks of the subordinates.
Muller's official rank is scarcely much higher than that of a
policeman although kings and councillors consult him and the
Police Department realises to the full what a treasure it has in
him. But official red tape and his early misfortune ... prevent
the giving of any higher official standing to even such a genius.
Born and bred to such conditions Muller understands them and
his natural modesty of disposition asks for no outward honours
asks for nothing but an income sufficient for his simple needs
and for aid and opportunity to occupy himself in the way he most
Joseph Muller's character is a strange mixture. The
kindest-hearted man in the world he is a human bloodhound when
once the lure of the trail has caught him. He scarcely eats or
sleeps when the chase is on he does not seem to know human
weakness nor fatigue in spite of his frail body. Once put on
a case his mind delves and delves until it finds a clue then
something awakes within him a spirit akin to that which holds
the bloodhound nose to trail and he will accomplish the apparently
impossible he will track down his victim when the entire machinery
of a great police department seems helpless to discover anything.
The high chiefs and commissioners grant a condescending permission
when Muller asks "May I do this? ... or may I handle this case
this way?" both parties knowing all the while that it is a farce
and that the department waits helpless until this humble little
man saves its honour by solving some problem before which its
intricate machinery has stood dazed and puzzled.
This call of the trail is something that is stronger than anything
else in Muller's mentality and now and then it brings him into
conflict with the department ... or with his own better nature.
Sometimes his unerring instinct discovers secrets in high places
secrets which the Police Department is bidden to hush up and leave
untouched. Muller is then taken off the case and left idle for
a while if he persists in his opinion as to the true facts. And
at other times Muller's own warm heart gets him into trouble. He
will track down his victim driven by the power in his soul which
is stronger than all volition; but when he has this victim in the
net he will sometimes discover him to be a much finer better man
than the other individual whose wrong at this particular criminal's
hand set in motion the machinery of justice. Several times that
has happened to Muller and each time his heart got the better of
his professional instincts of his practical common-sense too
perhaps ... at least as far as his own advancement was concerned
and he warned the victim defeating his own work. This peculiarity
of Muller's character caused his undoing at last his official
undoing that is and compelled his retirement from the force. But
his advice is often sought unofficially by the Department and to
those who know Muller's hand can be seen in the unravelling of
many a famous case.
The following stories are but a few of the many interesting cases
that have come within the experience of this great detective.
But they give a fair portrayal of Muller's peculiar method of
working his looking on himself as merely an humble member of the
Department and the comedy of his acting under "official orders"
when the Department is in reality following out his directions.
THE CASE OF HE GOLDEN BULLET
by Grace Isabel Colbron and Augusta Groner
"Please sir there is a man outside who asks to see you."
"What does he want?" asked Commissioner Horn looking up.
"He says he has something to report sir."
"Send him in then."
The attendant disappeared and the commissioner looked up at the
clock. It was just striking eleven but the fellow official who
was to relieve him at that hour had not yet appeared. And if this
should chance to be a new case he would probably be obliged to
take it himself. The commissioner was not in a very good humour
as he sat back to receive the young man who entered the room in
the wake of the attendant. The stranger was a sturdy youth with
an unintelligent good-natured face. He twisted his soft hat in
his hands in evident embarrassment and his eyes wandered helplessly
about the great bare room.
"Who are you?" demanded the commissioner.
"My name is Dummel sir Johann Dummel."
"And your occupation?"
"My occupation? Oh yes I - I am a valet valet to Professor
The commissioner sat up and looked interested. He knew Fellner
personally and liked him. "What have you to report to me?" he
"I - I don't know whether I ought to have come here but at home - "
"Well is anything the matter?" insisted Horn.
"Why sir I don't know; but the Professor - he is so still - he
Horn sprang from his chair. "Is he ill?" he asked.
"I don't know sir. His room is locked - he never locked it before."
"And you are certain he is at home?"
"Yes sir. I saw him during the night - and the key is in the lock
on the inside."
The commissioner had his hat in his hand when the colleague who was
to relieve him appeared. "Good and cold out to-day!" was the
latter's greeting. Horn answered with an ironical: "Then I suppose
you'll be glad if I relieve you of this case. But I assure you I
wouldn't do it if it wasn't Fellner. Good-bye. Oh and one thing
more. Please send a physician at once to Fellner's house No. 7
Horn opened the door and passed on into the adjoining room
accompanied by Johann. The commissioner halted a moment as his
eyes fell upon a little man who sat in the corner reading a
newspaper. "Hello Muller; you there? Suppose I take you with me?
You aren't doing anything now are you?"
"Well come with me then. If this should turn out to be anything
serious we may need you."
The three men entered one of the cabs waiting outside the police
station. As they rattled through the streets Commissioner Horn
continued his examination of the valet. "When did you see your
"About eleven o'clock last evening."
"Did you speak with him then?
"No I looked through the keyhole."
"Oh indeed; is that a habit of yours?"
Dummel blushed deeply but his eyes flashed and he looked angry.
"No it is not sir" he growled. "I only did it this time because
I was anxious about the master. He's been so worked up and nervous
the last few days. Last night I went to the theatre as I always
do Saturday evenings. When I returned about half-past ten it was
I knocked at the door of his bedroom. He didn't answer and I
walked away softly so as not to disturb him in case he'd gone to
sleep already. The hall was dark and as I went through it I saw
a ray of light coming from the keyhole of the Professor's study.
That surprised me because he never worked as late as that before.
I thought it over a moment then I crept up and looked through
"And what did you see?"
"He sat at his desk quite quiet. So I felt easy again and went
off to bed."
"Why didn't you go into the room?"
"I didn't dare sir. The Professor never wanted to be disturbed
when he was writing."
"Well and this morning?"
"I got up at the usual time this morning set the breakfast table
and then knocked at the Professor's bedroom door to waken him. He
didn't answer and I thought he might want to sleep seeing as it
was Sunday and he was up late last night. So I waited until ten
o'clock. Then I knocked again and tried the door but it was locked.
That made me uneasy because he never locked his bedroom door before.
I banged at the door and called out but there wasn't a sound. Then
I ran to the police station."
Horn was evidently as alarmed as was the young valet. But Muller's