murder mystery, crime, & detective fiction

A Chance Clew



by Scott Campbell

Write a review.

Detective Story Magazine | Mar. 5, 1916 | Vol. II | No. 5

Est. Read Time: 27 mins

When the girl told him that she'd seen the man who'd robbed her, Glidden is certain it is Lord Arkright is The Red Raven. But can he outwit his nemesis this time, or will The Red Raven get the best of the detective?




The girl halted, as if suddenly turned to stone. Her color faded as quickly as if all the blood in her veins had surged to her heart. Through the meshes of her gray veil, her dilating eyes were fixed with startled, staring scrutiny upon the man's motionless hand — and its one adornment.

She lingered only for a moment, unheard, unnoticed, and then she went to sit at a desk in one corner, still furtively watching the man, but with her fair face partly averted. She had just entered the Stability Trust Company, a New York banking institution, and approached one of the wall desks to write a deposit slip. Incidentally, when nearly behind a fashionably clad man, who was writing a check, she noticed his left hand, on the check book.

At the receiving teller's window, a little later, while passing in her deposit, she inquired carelessly:

''Did you see the tall gentleman. Mr. Raymond, who cashed a check and went out a few moments ago?"

Mr. Raymond smiled at her through the lattice, and bowed.

"I did," he replied. "He is a personal friend of mine. His name is Hamilton Fisk."

"Thank you. He reminded me of a friend who lives in Denver."

"Mr. Fisk lives at the Waldron. He is one of our depositors."

"I was merely impressed with the resemblance mentioned — nothing more. The last was added with noticeable indifference.

Nevertheless, upon entering a handsome Fifth Avenue residence, half an hour later, this same young lady hastened to call up the police headquarters and ask for Detective Glidden.

"I am Violet van Hook," she informed him. "You remember me, no doubt, in connection with the robbery in our Riverdale home two years ago."

"Yes, indeed!" Glidden pricked up his ears. "Very well. Miss van Hook, I assure you. Not been robbed again, have you?"

"No. I am thankful to say! But I have information for you, very valuable information. Will you call at my Fifth Avenue home as soon as possible?"

"Within half an hour."

"Thank you. By the way — "


"I think you had better wear a disguise."

"Very good. I will do so."



Miss van Hook received him in the library, half an hour later.

She then looked more pale and serious, and, after a conventional greeting, she said gravely:

"My parents are in Washington, Mr. Glidden, or I would have conferred with them before sending for you. I have not forgotten that the robber who imposed upon us .so outrageously as Lord Arkright, presenting forged letters bearing the names of mv father's London bankers, returned to me a very valuable and dearly cherished necklace of sapphires and diamonds. In spite of my gratitude tor that magnanimity and consideration, my conscience will not let me hide what I have learned."

"I see." Glidden gazed at her inquiringly. "What have you learned, may I ask?"

"I saw that man this morning."

"The robber?"


"How long ago, and where?"

"About an hour ago. I was making a deposit with the Stability Trust Company."

"Are you sure of his identity?"

"No, not positively sure," Violet admitted. "I would not have recognized him at all. Mr. Glidden, but for one fact: Lord Arkright, so called, wore a bloodstone ring, to one curious feature of which he once called my attention. The blood-red spots in the stone formed the outline of a bird, he told me he called it his — Red Raven."

"Red Raven — I guess that's right." Glidden's eyes were aglow with subdued elation. "That man. Miss van Hook, is the chief of the worst gang of crooks in this country. The Order of Red Ravens — that's what it's called. Did the man you saw this morning wear a ring like Lord Arkright's?"

"Exactly like it," said Violet. "I saw it plainly while he was writing a check. I instantly recalled it, and then I studied the man himself. In a general way, I mean his figure, and such features as cannot be disguised, he was precisely like Lord Arkright."

"Did he see you?"

"No. sir."

"Or know that you saw him?'

"He did not. He cashed his check, and then left the bank."

"He must be one of the depositors, then."

"I know that he is." said Violet. "I questioned the receiving teller, Mr. Raymond, who said that the man is a personal friend of his."

"Questioned him. eh? His personal friend, eh?" Glidden's grizzled brows fell perceptibly. "It may have been better if you had not questioned him. What did you ask the teller?"

"Only who the man was."

"Nothing more?"

"That was all. Mr. Raymond said that his name is Hamilton Fisk, and that he lives in the Hotel Waldron. That is all that was said about him. I decided that I had better not ask too many questions before stating the facts to you."

"I see." Glidden chuckled approvingly — a chuckle from Glidden was most extraordinary. "You did right. Miss van Hook, perfectly right. You are wiser than most women. Really, I am quite proud of you. Not another word about this, however, until after I have looked into it. Not one word, mind you!"

Miss van Hook assured him to that effect, and Detective Glidden thanked her, and departed. He looked more grim and threatening while he hastened down Fifth Avenue. His elation gave way to an ugly aggressiveness that few would have wished to arouse, much less oppose.

"Is she right? Is there anything in it?" he asked himself. "Have I finally got him, this thieving Red Raven chieftain. this slick and slippery rascal, who repeatedly has slipped through my fingers and given me the laugh? Have I finally got him? Hamilton Fisk, eh? It would be like him, by thunder, to be dwelling with the select, and posing as a blueblood. I'll soon find out. I'll mighty soon find out."

Glidden did not, however, let his eagerness pitch him over the traces. He hastened in disguise to the Hotel Waldron, where he cornered the manager, with whom he was very well acquainted, in his private office.

"I want a little information, Sheldon," he said, after revealing his identity. "But mum's the word! Don't you by hint, look, or sign reveal what passes between us. You know what that means. You know what it means, Sheldon, coming from me."

Sheldon smiled and bowed.

"You have said enough, Glidden, along that line," he replied. "I'll forget that you have been here. What do you want to know?"

"All you can tell me about Hamilton Fisk."

''That will be all to the good," said Sheldon. "He has been one of my guests for three years. He is a thoroughbred gentleman, a bachelor, a man of means, and a mighty fine fellow."

"Any business?"

"None, beyond an occasional venture in stocks. Fisk don't need a business. He has money enough. He employs a valet, and lives like a gentleman. And that's what he is, too, Glidden, you can bank on that."

"Do you know where he came from, or any more about him?"

"Only along the same lines."

"Are his habits good?"

"Exemplary. For a man residing in New York, he really leads the simple life. I don't know why you ask these questions, nor care. Take it from me, however, you'll not get anything on Hamilton Fisk. He could have my bank roll for the asking."

"That's all, then." Glidden arose abruptly. "Forget it!"

"I have pledged myself to that effect."

It was not quite all, however, for Glidden lingered in the hotel office until he got a look at the suspected man. But he could detect no convincing resemblance to the crook he repeatedly had encountered, yet who had not looked twice alike; and he then left the Hotel Waldron, with his ardor somewhat chilled — while Mr. Richard Ravenswood, entirely unconscious of this ominous interest in him, was sauntering into the dining room to lunch.

Detective Glidden did not drop the matter. Not for a moment did he contemplate doing so. He returned to headquarters, where he cornered and confided in Jack Armstrong, his invariable choice as an assistant in serious cases.

"By Jove, the girl may be right!" said Armstrong hopefully. "She saw more of that rascal than we ever saw, all put together. Nevertheless, Joe, it seems too good to he true. How can we cinch it? Would a grilling — "

"Grilling be hanged!" Glidden blurted. "That gink, if he's the man, would end with grilling us. He's much too slick to have left himself open. What have we ever found that would serve to identify him? Never a finger print; never so much as a hair that we could prove came from his own head."

"There's no denying that, Joe."

"He's the limit, Armstrong," Glidden continued, snarling. "He can't be downed with a bluff. He has put it all over people at the Waldron, if this Fisk is the man, and he stands ace-high in all quarters. No crimes have been committed in the Waldron. He's too slick to have brought us buzzing so near his ears. He knows enough to have got in his work outside. No, no. Jack, there wouldn't be anything in a grilling. There's only one way to corner that rat and beat out his devilish brains."

"What way is that?"

"Watch him!" snapped Glidden. "Keep him in the dark, and watch him. Watch that infernal valet, too, who may be more a pal than a servant."

"As like as not, Joe."

"Here's another point." Glidden added. "It's several months since these red rascals got in their work. They have been fattening on birds and bottles, no doubt, from the fruits of that Newport job. But that must be nearly blown in by this time."


"It's money to marbles, then, that they have another job shaped up by this time. An espionage will not be of long duration. Now is the time to get them red-handed. Armstrong, if Violet van Hook is right. We then will have got them, by thunder, only with the help of a woman, a veritable fluke, as far as we are concerned."

Armstrong laughed, but Glidden was in no laughing mood. Repeated failures in his relentless pursuit of Ravenswood had nettled him to his depths.

"That's what we'll do," he said bluntly. "We'll begin a systematic espionage. You watch the valet. Ill look after the master, this Fisk, or whatever his name really is. I'll find out. You can bet that I'll find out, Armstrong, sooner or later! We'll begin our work at once."

All this occurred on a Thursday.



Still oblivious to the threatening interest he had aroused, Mr. Richard Ravenswood entered the quarters of the Stability Trust Company at precisely noon the following Saturday, the hour for closing business for the week. He carried a strong leather satchel of medium size in one hand, and approached the window of the receiving teller.

A bearded man followed him in from the street, and from the corridor cautiously watched him through the oval glass in one of the swinging doors — Detective Glidden.

"Ah, Fisk, how are you?" Raymond gazed out and greeted him cordially. "Glad to see you. You are some stranger."

"Ditto." Ravenswood laughed. It was their first meeting since Thursday. "You know where I hang out. Why haven't you called?"

"Very busy. I may drop round this evening."

"Do so. We'll knock out a few games of billiards. I enjoy playing with you, Raymond. I would be a greater stranger, however, bar calling to ask a favor of you."

"Consider it granted." Raymond said quickly. "What can I do for you?"

"I have just converted some securities into Pacific bonds." Ravenswood held up the satchel. "There was a delay in delivering them, and I have not time to go to the deposit vault to put them in my drawer before closing. Short day this, you know. I wish you would set the satchel in your vault over Sunday. It will be safer than at the Waldron."

"Why, certainly," Raymond exclaimed, opening his lattice window to receive it. "Very glad to do so for you. It is locked, of course?"

"Yes. If you wish to inspect its contents, however, I will — "

"Nonsense! Don't reach for the key. I will place it in our bond drawer. By the way, though, you cannot get it before ten o'clock Monday morning. Our vault will be closed in a few minutes, and the time lock is set for ten on Monday. The devil himself could not open it before then."

"That will suit me admirably." Ravenswood smiled and nodded. "I intend turning part of them into Steel, if the market opens weak on Monday. I will he here at ten o'clock."

"Good enough! That settles it."

Raymond hastened to place the satchel in the vault.

Glidden did not see the transaction. He was sauntering to and fro in the corridor. It was indiscreet to peer constantly through the swinging door.

Ravenswood lingered, saw the clerks and tellers hurriedly place their books and funds in the vault, saw the massive doors closed and locked, impregnably closed until Monday, and then he added to the conversation he had been carrying on with Raymond:

''How soon will you be at liberty? Will you go with me to lunch?"

"Delighted!" Raymond nodded. "I'll be through here in about five minutes."

"Capital! I'll wait for you."

"Oh, by the way!" Raymond, suddenly remembering, gazed out, laughing. "I think you might win out, Fisk, if so inclined; a very wealthy, attractive, and desirable young lady. A fine chance for matrimony, Fisk, on the level."

"Excuse me!" Ravenswood laughed, and shook his head. "One half of that word is enough for me. Money, not matrimony."

"You ought to be taxed, and may be, if the present administration is continued."

"Let it come. Bachelorhood is worth it."

"She's a beautiful girl, nevertheless. You must have made an impression on her, too, for she had enough interest in you to inquire about you."

"When, and of whom?"

"When you were here Thursday morning. She saw you write and cash a check. When handing me her deposit, after you went out, she asked me about you."

"Very nice of her, I'm sure." Ravenswood smiled. "I feel highly flattered. Who is the young lady?"

"Her name is Violet van Hook." Ravenswood heard it, without a change of countenance. An involuntary chill ran down his spine, however, and his nerves began to tingle.

"Van Hook — I do not place her," he said calmly. "Nor can I conceive why she felt an interest in me."

"She said you reminded her of a friend who lives in Denver."

"H'm, is that so?" Ravenswood knew it to have been an equivocation, and that he must have been recognized. "Thursday morning, eh? Two days ago. You told Miss van Hook all about me, of course?"

"No, indeed!" Raymond shook his head. "She ended her inquiries very abruptly."

"Ah! Very abruptly, eh?" The significance of it was doubly convincing.

"I told her only your name and where you resided."

"That was quite enough to tell her." Ravenswood laughed lightly, but his voice was tinged with subtle irony. "All ready, Raymond, are you?"

"Yes. I'll be with you in half a minute."

Ravenswood sauntered toward the corridor door. He appeared as calm and complacent as when lie entered. There was no sign of perturbation, no indication of threatening misgivings. He passed out with Raymond, and went with him to lunch in a popular restaurant, more genial and jovial than usual, if anything; and they parted after the meal.

Ravenswood sauntered up the street until he came to a drug store in which he saw a pay-station telephone booth, the door of which faced the street. He entered it and removed the receiver — but held down the bracket with his finger.

He then pretended to drop a coin in the slot and to communicate with some one — but all the while, with his hack toward the street door and the store windows, he was gazing intently at the polished nickel ring around the mouthpiece.

Presently, replacing the receiver, he tore a leaf from his notebook and wrote on it with a lead pencil. He then folded the leaf and placed it, with obvious care, in the middle of the telephone book, leaving it there.

Glidden saw him do it, furtively watching him through one of the windows. but he quickly moved away when his quarry turned to leave the booth.

"He's up to something, the rat!" he snarled, under his breath. "Why did he telephone, and to whom: Has Raymond told him about the girl? That's not likely, or be would have betrayed. What did he write and leave in that book? I have it, by thunder! He has planned with some one, probably one of his rascally red-bird confederates, to go there for written instructions, or a communication of some kind. I can nail it. by Jove! and pick him up again before he turns the corner."

Ravenswood then was sauntering slowly up the street.

Glidden entered the drug store, and hurried into the telephone booth. Seizing the exchange book, he rapidly turned the leaves, and found the folded scrap of paper. He opened it, and read a single mocking, staggering line:

Glidden, you're a chump!

The significance of it was unmistakable and irresistible. Glidden vented a fierce oath, then turned like an angry bull and rushed out to the street.

Ravenswood had disappeared.

It was eight o'clock that evening when Glidden and Armstrong met at headquarters and sat down to compare notes, the former immediately stating what had occurred.

"A ruse; one of his rat tricks to give me the slip and the laugh — that's what it was!" he snarled bitterly. "The teller told him about the girl. I didn't believe he would even remember it. But it put the rascal wise, he reasoned that the girl would inform me, that she must already have done so, and the fact that I have not approached him and openly called him down led him to suspect that he was being shadowed. He clinched it in the telephone booth.

"I know, now, curse him! The nickel ring around the mouthpiece reflected the stone door and windows. Though his back was turned that way, it enabled him to see me looking in, and my disguise did not fool him. He left that scurvy scrap of paper, knowing I would rush in to get it. enabling him to bolt and vanish. Vanish be hanged! I'll not sleep nights till I get him!"

"Have you been to the Waldron — "

"Waldron — why go there?" Glidden ground his teeth disgustedly. "He'll never set foot in the Waldron again. Let him alone to be too wise for that. But I'll find him. Armstrong, if he stays above ground. I'll get him, and bury him, blast him! I'll can him for keeps! What about the valet, Nolan? We might nail him."

Armstrong shrugged his shoulders expressively.

"Too late!" he said tersely.

"What do you mean?" snapped Glidden.

"I'll tell you, Joe. when your jaw slows down. That's your only safety valve. You'd explode, bang! burst all to smithereens, if you didn't cut loose with your tongue and let off steam. Nolan left the Waldron at precisely noon. He appeared for the first time to have a definite mission. I shadowed him to Z Street, and there I lost him."

"Losing seems to be our long suit. How the devil did you lose him?"

"That's the strange part of it." Armstrong said more seriously, "he entered one of the low brick buildings in that section. It is rented by the agent of a New Orleans sugar and molasses firm, a man named Hawley. I'll swear that Nolan went in there, and I entered scarce ten seconds after him, thinking I might overhear something, and would make a few inquiries to cover my intrusion."

"I see."

"There is a front office, a space partly filled with barrels and casks, and a back room, the door of which was open. But there is no rear door, nor any stairway to the second floor. That is reached by a door outside, and Hawley lives up there. He's the only tenant in the building."

"I get you," Glidden growled. "But what about Nolan?"

"Nolan wasn't there."

"Not there?'

"Not hide nor hair of him."

"Humph!" Glidden's furrowed brows contracted until they mingled.

"I wandered around and looked everywhere, while talking about the price of molasses with Hawley — but there was no Nolan."

"He may have gone down cellar."

"I could see no door leading to a cellar."

"He could not have evaporated!" snapped Glidden. "He must have been somewhere in the place. Where is this building? What part of Z Street?"

"That section in which old buildings are rapidly being torn down for larger ones. This one, now that I think of it, is directly back of the Stability Trust Building. It is — What now?"

Glidden's grim face had changed like a flash, while his fist banged a table as if to splinter it.

"By Heaven, I have it!" he cried, eyes blazing. "There's a job on that bank. That's why he's a depositor. That's why he's friendly with Raymond. That's what became of the satchel. I wondered — but I don't wonder, now! It's in the bank vault, Armstrong, loaded with dynamite, or the devil knows what."

"You mean — "

"I mean that we've got them." Glidden rose up with a terrible laugh. "We have them nipped, Jack, every damned thieving Red Raven. I'll clip their wings this time, by thunder! Get a bunch of the boys together. Make it a score, with a gun in every pocket. We've got them. By Heaven, I'll not leave a live red bird among them!"



They had gathered like blackbirds, singly and from diverse directions, until the flock was complete. They had come at intervals during the day, from various quarters and with unostentatious stealth, seeking cover through different avenues, an alley and an outer bulkhead door, a trap in the back room, witness Nolan, and some like moles in the earth, through tunnels secretly constructed during months of labor, while the refuse of dirt and stones was removed in casks and barrels marked — molasses and sugar.

Ravenswood looked strangely serious while he viewed them at close upon nine o'clock that evening, his brood of Red Ravens, gathered in an underground room between the low brick building mentioned by Armstrong and the rear foundation wall of the Stability Trust.

Through a broad opening from this room, one of three leading in different directions, it could be seen that part of the wall was gone, that a circular chamber had been formed, that timbers and cement and steel had been broken from the ceiling, leaving only a comparatively thin and feeble partition between this circular chamber and — the interior of the bank vault.

Ravenswood gazed from one to another in the bright electric light — stolen by means of a concealed wire from the service in the trust building. He had entered only a few minutes before, and had found them all there, awaiting him, intent upon the near culmination of the most elaborate and laborious crime they had ever undertaken,

Ravenswood checked their conversation, and addressed them more seriously than usual, and not without a tinge of affection in his low, sonorous voice.

"Attention, Red Ravens!" he began. "I have important disclosures to make, and little time in which to make them. It is twenty minutes to nine, when we shall learn with what success we have labored. We have met here many times in the past six months, and this is to be the last time here — and perhaps our last meeting as an organized band of underworld workers."

"Last meeting?" Nolan stared at him amazedly, while the jaws of others fell.

"Our last meeting, Dickie?" Ravenswood bowed.

"It's a long lane, lads, that has no turning," said he. "Sooner or later, despite the utmost precautions that can be taken, the pitcher that goes to the well may be broken. After to-night, Red Ravens, we shall disband temporarily, at least, and whether a subsequent reorganization will be feasible will depend upon many contingencies."

"Great guns!" This from Galen. "What's the trouble, Dickie?"

"Glidden is in a way to make good."

"Make good!" Nolan gasped.

"What do you mean, Dickie?"

"He has identified me as Fisk, for three years a respected resident in the fashionable Waldron. But the Waldron, Faddy, will see no more of us."

"Thunderatioa!" Nolan scarce could believe his ears. "How did tire infernal dick get wise?"

"Through my identification by a former victim — the Van Hook girl. Naturally, of course, she hastened to inform Glidden, who investigated the Van Hook robbery."

"But when did that come off?" Lacy demanded apprehensively. "How long has Glidden known this?"

"Since Thursday morning."

"The devil you say!"

"Oh, don't be alarmed." Ravenswood said assuringly. "He has been looking me up and making inquiries, no doubt, but he has not approached me openly."

"You may have been shadowed."

"I know that I have been watched. Fortunately, however, this is my first visit here since Wednesday. I discovered this afternoon that Glidden was trailing me, but I shook him off by — well, I'll take time to tell you all about it."

"Thundering guns! This is awful, Dickie," Nolan said, with a groan, after Ravenswood had concluded. "If we could only silence the infernal — "

Ravenswood checked him with a gesture.

"It is too late for anything of that kind," he said more brusquely. "The milk is spilled and the pitcher broken. Our only wise course is to disband temporarily, as I have said, with a possibility of subsequent reorganization. I must have time in which to consider it. in which to plan to meet the new conditions, if it seems judicious."

"You may be right, Dickie," Nolan soberly admitted.

"I know I am right." Ravenswood spoke decidedly. "After to-night, therefore, it will be each man for himself, each still loyal to the ties that have joined us, to the pledges that so long have held us together. That is all I have to say. Brother Ravens, along those lines."

His ten confederates, including, with those mentioned, Finley and Blake, Drogan, Hawley, Midget Maloney, and two others, looked grave and regretful upon hearing these announcements; but none ventured to advise or oppose this man, who long had been their successful chief, guide, and director. Low growls and threats against Glidden came from several, however, which Ravenswood immediately checked.

"There is nothing in that," he said curtly. "We have held the pole for a long time, and later may regain it. Let's take things as they come. Fortunately, these discoveries were not made until nearly the very moment when our biggest job was done. That now must engage us. That moment is close at hand. We have only six minutes to wait. Screen that opening under the vault, some of you, lest the debris is scattered by the explosion."

Three of the men sprang up and placed a broad wooden screen across the opening, bracing it in place with a strip of joist. All were alert, then, and eager for the end of their knavish undertaking.

"You got the satchel into the vault, all right, Dickie?" Nolan questioned.

"Easily," Ravenswood nodded. "Raymond complied without an objection."

"Good for Raymond!"

"It strikes me that we are lame in one way," Lacy ventured.

"In what way, Lacy?"

"In setting the machine that ignites the explosive so early as nine o'clock. Wouldn't midnight have been better?"

"Far from it!" Ravenswood quickly shook his head. "There is considerable noise in the streets at nine o'clock, while they are comparatively quiet at midnight. The explosion then would be more likely to be heard."

"There is no great danger of that at either time," put in Nolan. "It will be confined to the vault, bar what sound comes down here. We'll get that, all right, good and strong. Dynamite works downward, you know."

"I know that, of course," Lacy growled.

"It won't leave enough of the vault floor to swear by," Nolan added. "We know that the time-lock doors cannot be opened, and even if the watchman in the building were to bear the muffled sound, before he can locate it and make an investigation, we'll have looted the vault and be making a get-away."

"That's how we've figured it, sure," Galen nodded.

"By the way, Dickie."

"Well, Paddy?"

"Is there any possibility that Glidden picked you up again and shadowed you here?"

"Not the slightest, Paddy," Ravenswood said confidently — but he overlooked that a spy might have been watching the movements of his supposed valet.

"There would be the devil to pay, Dickie, in that case," Nolan vouchsafed grimly.

"Very true — in that case," Ravenswood allowed, glancing at his watch.

He appeared perfectly calm and cool, but others were nervous and apprehensive, some crouching in the entrance to the tunnels and others against the rough walls, all awaiting the expected explosion.

It then lacked only two minutes to nine.

It was true, indeed, much more true than any Red Raven even remotely suspected. For Joe Glidden, not in the harness thirty years for nothing, had a happy faculty for putting two and two together, and he no sooner had heard Armstrong's story, combining his discoveries with his own, than this experienced, keen-sighted, persistent, and relentless Glidden hit upon — the truth.

One minute to nine.

Dark figures then had stolen into Z Street, more than a score of them, all trained detectives from headquarters, each with guns, and ready to kill, if necessary — they were stealing in and around the low brick building, covering every discoverable avenue of escape within half a block, while others were watching the bank in front and invading the building with a trusty janitor.

Nine o'clock.

Ravens wood had not stirred.

Ten seconds passed.

"Suppose the machine fails, Dickie?" Nolan's eyes were bright and dilated, but he was very pale.

Ravenswood gazed at him a bit fondly.

"It will not fail, Paddy," he said calmly. "It will — "

No. it did not fail. The expected explosion drowned the words on the lips of the Red Raven chief.

The muffled thunder of it shook the earth and walls around them. The wooden screen was blown half across the underground room. Great slabs of stone and cement fell to the floor of the circular chamber. A vast volume of smoke poured downward, filling every opening and corner. Through the blackness of it, the lights glowed wan and yellow, and the moving figures of the excited men were like apparitions seen in a mist.

Mingled with the terrific noise, unheard because of it, came the crash of breaking doors, the smash of a bulkhead, the fall of a trap, the furious rush of heavy feet down stairway and steps.

Nolan was the first to see them, the inpouring intruders, white-faced and fierce-eyed, and with ready weapons, he uttered a yell that rose above every other sound, seizing Ravenswood by the arm and dragging him into the nearest tunnel.

"The dicks! They're on us!" Nolan shrieked. "Every man for himself!"

Glidden's roar was mingled with it:

"Hands up! We'll shoot to kill!"

It brought a defiant shot from Lacy, sending a bullet through Glidden's arm, and then came the volley.

Lacy, Galen, and Midget Mahoney went down, all badly wounded. Hawley, Drogan, and Finley were beaten off their feet before they could draw a weapon. Overwhelming numbers were overcoming the Red Ravens.

The feet of two, however, were moving like those of frightened hares. They sped through the tunnel, emerged from the back door of a lodging house within thirty seconds, saw that the way around a stable was open — and then they were off and away through the misty night.

"Cripes!" gasped Nolan. "Our first slip-up, Dickie."

"Never mind the slip-up, Paddy." Ravenswood's voice was calm, but through the black smoke that seared his face his features were painfully drawn and ghastly white. "It's the boys — the boys. Paddy! Heaven help them! Some are down and out — down and out forever!"

"True. Dickie, too true! Glidden, curse the dick, has made good this time. What — "

"Come on, and don't question," Ravenswood interrupted. "We are down to doubles and cases, Paddy. We'll run double. Paddy, you and I, for the present — but Heaven knows where!"

"We'll get there, Dickie." Nolan's voice took on a more cheerful ring. "We'll get there, all right, dear old Dickie."

Ravenswood grasped his arm with a viselike grip.

"You bet we'll get there!" he cried, through his set teeth. "The end is not not yet, Paddy, not yet — not yet!"