North Carolina Newspapers

Peter Knisnt, defeated for political of
fice la his town, decides to venture New
York In order that the family fortunes
might benefit by the expected rise of his
charming daughter, Lorelei. A well
known critic Interviews Lorelei Knight,
Bow stage beauty with Bergman's Revue,
tor a special article. Her coin-hunting
mother outlines Lorelei's ambitions, but
Blorson, the press agent, later adds his
Information. Lorelei attends Millionaire
Hammon's gorgeous entertainment. She
meets Merkle, a wealthy dyspeptic. Bb
Wharton comes uninvited. Lorelei dis
covers a blackmail plot against Hammon
In which her brother is Involved.
A few fears ago New York
city the -whole country in fact
was deepty stirred by a series of
sensational murders and a con
sequent shaking up In the police
department. For one of these
murders four gunmen and a po
lice officer went to the electric
chair. Here Is related the de
tails of the kind of dirty work
some of the gangsters and their
political friends accomplish In
the metropolis.
CHAPTER VI Continued.
The Judge had enjoyed the scene.
He chuckled; he clicked his loose front
teeth like castanets. Bob turned at
the sound and regarded him with be
nignant Interest, his attention riveted
upon the old man's dental Infirmity.
"You're quite a comedian," Regan
"Click 'em again," said Bob, pleas
antly. "Wonderful! Age has its com
pensations. Play 'Home, Sweet Home'
when you get 'em tuned up. Or per
haps they are for sale?"
Lorelei secured her number and was
surprised to recognize her brother's
rolce. She made herself known, to
Jim's equal amazement, and then In
quired: "Is Max there?"
"Sure. He's outside In the automo
bile." "Call him, please."
"What do you want of him? now'd
you know I was here?"
"Never mind. Call him quickly."
At last Melcber's voice came over
the wire, and Lorelei recited the mes
sage. There was a moment of silence,
then she explained how she came to
be talking Instead of Lilas.
He thanked her, and she heard him
muttering as he hung up. She turned j
to find her annoyer nodding with sat- I
"Splendid! I thank you; my father ,
thanks you; my family thanks you.
Now where would you like to dine?"
"How can a person get rid of you?"
she inquired stiffly.
"I'm sure I don't know it isn't be
ing done. But I'll try to think. Wear
your prettiest gown, won't you? for
I intend to enrage all the other fel
lows." She turned with a shrug of mingled
annoyance and amusement, and he
called after her:
"The Judge's teeth will entertain
me till you come. I'll be waiting."
Miss Lynn, as she dressed after the
performance, was still In an evil tem
per; but she thanked her roommate for
aiding her; then, as if some explana
tion were due, she added, "That note
was from Jarvis."
"You puzzle me. Lilas," Lorelei told
her, slowly. "I don't think you care
for him at all."
Lilas laughed. "Why do you think
that? I adore him, but we had an en
gagement and he broke it. Men are
all selfish;- the bigger they are the
more selfish they become. They never
do anything you don't make them."
1 "He can't sacrifice his business for
"Sacrifice! It's women who sacri
fice themselves, D'you suppose any of
those men we met last night would
sacrifice himself for anything or any
body? Not much. They are the
strong and the mighty. They got rich
through robbery, and they're in the
habit of taking whatever they want.
They made their money out of the
blood and suffering of thousands of
poor people. That's what it is blood
"Is that why you're planning to
blackmail it out of him?"
Lilas paused In . her dressing and
turned slowly, brows lifted. Her
dark eyes met the blue ones unwaver
"Blackmail? What are you talking
about?" Mrs. Croft went pale, and
retired swiftly but noiselessly into the
lavatory, closing the door behind her.
"What did Max tell you over the
'phone?" asked Lilas, sharply.
"Then where did you get that?
From Jim?"
"Jim's pretty bad, I imagine, but
he keeps his badness to himself. No.
I've overheard you and Max talking."
"Nonsense. We've never mentioned
such a thing. The idea is absurd. I
get mad at Jarvls he's enough to
madden anybody perhaps I'm jealous,
bat blackmail! Why, you're out of
your head."
Lorelei delayed her toilet purposely.
and finally dismissed Croft When
quiet had finally descended she opened
her door cautiously and peered out.
Robert Wharton sat on the top step
of the stairway near at hand, but his
head rested against the wall, and lie
tlept. Beside him were his high hat.
tiis gloves and his stick. As Lorelei,
with skirts carefully gathered, tiptoed
past him she saw suspended upon his
gleaming white shirt bosom what at
first glance resembled a foreign deco
ration of some sort, but proved to bo
Mr. Regan's false teeth. They were
suspended by a ribbon that had once
done duty in the costume of a cory
phee: they rose and fell to the young
man's gentle breathing.
Lorelei telephoned to Merkle on the
following day. and about the close of
the show that night his card was
brought up to her dressing room. A
moment later Robert Wharton's fol
lowed, together with a tremendous box
of long-stemmed roses. She went down
a trifle apprehensively, for by this
time the current tales of Bob's drunken
freaks, had given her cause to think
somewhat seriously, and she feared an
unpleasant encounter. More than once
she had witnessed quarrels In, the al
leyway behind the Circuit, where pes
tiferous youths of Wharton's caliber
were frequent visitors.
But Mr. Merkle relieved her mind by
saying, "I sent Bob away on a pre
text, although he swore you had an
engagement with him."
"I'm glad you did. I left him asleep
outside my dressing room last night,
and I almost hoped he'd caught pneu
monia." Beside the curb a heavy touring car
was purring, and into this Merkle
helped his companion. "I'm not up on
the etiquette of this sort of thing," he
explained, "but I presume the proper
procedure is supper. Where Khali it
be Sherry's?"
Lorelei laughed. "You are inexpe
rienced. The Johns never eat on Fifth
avenue, the lights are too dim. But
why supper? You can't eat."
"A Welsh rabbit would be the death
of me; lobsters are poison," he con
fessed; "but I've read that chorus
girls are omnivorous animals and seek
their prey at midnight."
"Most of them would prefer bread
and milk; anyhow, I would. But I'm
not hungry, so let's ride we can talk
better, and you're not the sort of man
to be seen in public with one of Berg
man's show-girls."
The banker acquiesced with alacrity.
To his driver he said, "Take the Long
Island road."
The machine glided into noiseless
"Why do you choose the Long Island
road?" asked Lorelei.
"It's pleasant," responded Merkle.
"I ride nearly every night, and I like
the country. You see, I can't sleep
unless I'm in motion. I get most of
my rest in a car; there's something
about the movement that soothes me."
"How funny!"
'Teculiar. parhaps, but scarcely hu
morous. I'd be dead or Insane with-
"I'm Terribly Sorry, Miss Knight."
out an automobile. I keep four
French cars in my garage, all specially
built as to spring suspension and up
holstery, and I spend nearly every
night in one or the other of them. So
long as I'm moving fast I manage to
snatch a miserable sort of repose, but
the instant we go slow I wake up. I
used to sleep at twenty miles an hour;
now I can't relax under thirty.
Forty is fine sixty means dreamless
"It does, indeed, if one happens to
have a blowout," laughed tlio girl. j
The car was now darting through
unfrequented side streets, where the i
asphalt lay In the shadow like dark
pools. Up the approach to the Queens
borough bridge it swept, and took the
long incline like a soaring bird. Black
well's island slipped under them, an
inky, bottomless pit of despair. The
breath of the overheated city changed ;
as by magic, and the thin-faced suf
ferer at Lorelei's side drank it in ea- j
gerly. Even in the dim flash of the
passing illuminations she noted how
tired and worn he was, and a sudden
pity smote her.
"Won't you pretend I'm not here,
and drive just as you always do? I
won't mind," she said.
"My dear, it's late. You'll need to
go home."
"No, no."
"Really?" nis eagerness was genu
ine. "Won't your people worry?"
Her answer was a short, mirthless
laugh that made him glance at her cu
riously. "They know I'm perfectly
safe. It's the other way round: a man
of your standing takes chances by be
ing alone with a woman of mine."
"Which reminds me of Miss Lynn
and Mr. Hammon. You've decided to
accept my offer?"
"No. I can't be a hired spy."
"You said over the 'phone that you
had learned something."
"I have. I believe there is an effort
on foot to get some of Mr. Hammon's
money dishonestly. I have a reason
for wishing to prevent it."
I "I knew I wasn't mistaken in you,"
: smiled Merkle.
"Oh. don't attribute my actions to ,
any high moral motives! I'm getting I
a little rusty on right and wrong. Fer- j
! sonally, I have no sympathy with Mr. j
j Hammon, and I don't imagine he nc-
quired all of his tremendous fortune
in a perfectly honorable way. Besides,
he's a married man."
"It isn't alone Jarvis or his family
or their money that is concerned."
Merkle said, gravely. "Great financial
institutions sometimes rest on founda
tions as slight as one man's person
ality one man's reputation for moral
Integrity. A breath of suspicion of
any sort at the wrong tfme may bring
on a crash Involving innocent people.
"nammon at this moment carries a
tremendous top-heavy burden of re
sponsibilities; his death would be no
more disastrous than a scandal that
would tend to destroy public confi
dence in him as a man."
"Doesn't he know that himself?"
'Terhaps. But his infatuation over
took him at an age when a man is a :
fool. Young men are always objects
of suspicion in the financial world, for
their emotions are unruly; but when
old men fall In love they are superbly
heedless of the consequences. I prom
ised to tell you something about Jar
vis, and I will, since you spoke of his
married life. From the time he could
walk he never knew anything, never
heard anything except steel, ne be
came a rolling-mill superintendent al
most before he was of age. They say
he never did less than two men's work,
and often more; but he could make j
others work, too, and there lay the se- j
cret of his success. His mill held the
tonnage record for years. I
"When the corporation was formed j
he played a big part in the deal and i
got a big slice of the profits. He '
went into other things than steel, and
he prospered. He never failed at any
thing. Jarvis had no vices and but
one hobby at least his vices were neu
tral, for he had never taken time to
acquire the positive kind. His hobby
was Napoleon Bonaparte. He read ev
erything there was to read about Na
poieon; he studied his life and pat
terned his own on similar lines. Do
I bore you, Miss Knight?"
"No; go on. I'm tremendously In
terested." i)
"Well, naturally, Hammon began to
consider himself another Napoleon,
! and his accomplishments were in a
way quite as wonderful. He even con
! tided to me once that his idol sur
. passed him in only one respect
namely, the power to relax. Jarvis
had never taken time for relaxation.
and he was beginning to wear out; and
so he deliberately set about learning
to play. The emperor of yFrance, so
history tells us, took his greatest pleas
ure in the company of women; there
fore Hammon sought womeiA He
doesn't know the taste of, so
the result was foreordained."
"But surely he thought something
of his family," protested Lorelfti.
"Didn't he consider them?"
"I fancy he wasn't well acquainted
with his family. I'm sure he never en-
Joyed any home life, as we understand
it. He lived with a rich old woman
who bore his name but scarcely knew
him; his daughters were grown women
whom he saw on rare occasions and
whose extravagant whims he gratified
without question. But there was little
real intimacy, little sympathy. This
was his first taste of youth. But he
was not Napoleon. As you've noticed,
he's quite mad on the Lynn woman.
He's no longer himself. He has been
drugged by her charms, and now he's
paying the price. I wanted yon to
know the story before we went any
t further. Now tell me what you have
By the time Lorelei had completed
her recital of those occurrences that
had excited her suspicions the car was
rolling out the roads leading toward
the Long Island plains, and, with head
lights ablaze, was defying all speed
laws. Merkle had drawn th- conver
sation shield rearward, and in its shel
ter leaned back with eyes closed. He
seemed asleep, but after a time he
spoke abruptly:
"McMier is a shrewd man. He
wouldn't tackle a blackmailing job of
this si?e without protection; otherwise
I could put him out of the way very
quickly. I dare say Miss Lynp her
self doesn't know Who is behind him."
"Why don't you warn Mr. Hammon
at once?"
Merkle rolled his head loosely. "You
don't know the man. He would laugh
at the idea of a plot against him."
Mcrltle dozed again, half burled in
the cushions. They had passed Jamai
ca, but it was not until it had swept
into the Motor parkway that the
chauffeur let the machine out. Over
the deserted plains it tore, eonietllke,
a meteor preceded by a streamer of
light. The causeway leaped Into view
and vanished beneath the wheels, like
a tremendous ribbon whirling upon
spools. Merkle lay back inertly, lolling
and swaying to the side-thrust of the
cushions, but Lorelei found her fists
clinched and her muscles hard with
the nervous strnin. Finally she pushed
the shield forward, and, leaning over
the front seat, stared at the tiny dash
light. The finger of the speedometer
oscillated gently over the figure "00,"
and she dropped back with a gasp.
They had been running thus for a long
Merkle roused to say, "Is this too
fast for you. Miss Knight?"
She laughed nervously. "N-no. I'm
sorry I woke you."
Merkle Inquired the time of his
chauffeur, then directed him to turn
homeward along the North shore.
"I shan't be selfish and keep you
out any longer. Miss Knight," he said.
"If you don't mind. I'll doze on the
way In, and try to figure out the next
move in this Hammon affair."
The return trip was another hurtling
rush through the night, in a silence
broken only by Merkle's demand for
more speed whenever the machine
slackened its labor. The miles wheeled
past; the Sound lay to the right.
They were sweeping over a rolling
North shore road when suddenly out of
blackness ahead blazed two blinding
headlights. With startling abruptness
they appeared over the crest of a rise;
Merkle's driver swung to the right.
The strange car held to Its course:
there was a blast of horns, a dazzling
instant of intense Illumination, then
a crash as the Inside mud-guards met.
Merkle's car seemed to leap into the
air; there was a report of an exploding
tire; the automobile was bucking and
bumping, as if the pavement had been
turned into a corduroy road; then it
came to a pause, half in the ditch.
The other car held to Its course, and
whizzed onward, leaving In Its wake
a drunken shout of mockery and defi
ance. "Narrow shave, that. I wonder we
weren't all killed." Merkle eyed the
car's crumpled mud-guard and running
board, then directed his driver to as
certain the extent of the damage. The
motor was still throbbing, but a brief
examination disclosed a broken steer
ing knuckle and a bent axle in addi
tion to an injured wheel.
"I'm terribly sorry, Miss Knight; but
I'll have to send for another car," apol
ogized Merkle.
"Is this splendid machine ruined?"
He shrugged. "That's the curse of
these roads. Somebody is always driv
ing recklessly. Lorelei smiled at
memory of the miles they had covered
so swiftly; but she saw that he was
serious and in a sour temper. "One
risks his life on the whim of some
drunken idiot the moment he enters
a motor car. Now for a telephone." A
terse question to his man served to fix
their location.
"We're not far from the Chateau,"
Merkle interpreted the answer. "That
place is always open, so If you don't
mind the walk we'll go ahead. It will
take an hour to get one of my other
machines, but meanwhile we can have
a bite to eat." At her cheerful accept
ance his tone changed.
"You're all right. Some women
would be hysterical after such a shake-
up. I swear, I think I feel it more
than you. If you were a man I'd like
to have you for a chum."
The Chateau was a quasi-roadhouse,
unsurpassed by any city restaurant,
and, being within an hour's run by mo
tor, it received a liberal patronage.
Tips were large at the Chateau; its
hospitality was famous among those
who could afford the extravagance of
midnight entertainment; and yet It
was a quiet place. No echo of what
occurred within Its walls ever reached
the outside world. Sea-food, waffles,
and discretion were its recognized spe
cialties, and people came for miles
mainly in pairs to enjoy them.
As the pedestrians neared the ave
Aue of maples leading up to the house
ey espied in the road ahead of them
nst the dull red glow of a tail light,
tln a dusty license plate.
"There's luck," Merkle ejaculated.
"I'll rent this car."
In the gloom several figures were
standing, facing in the direction of the
Chateau, and when Merkle spoke they
wheeled as if startled.
"No, you can't hire this machine.
What do you think this Is, a cab
stand?" answered a gruff voice.
"Jim!" cried Lorelei, and ran for
ward. Her breathless amazement at the
meeting was no greater than her
brother's. "Sist What the devil are
you doing here?" he managed to say.
One of the man who had been kneeling
over a case of some sort, dimly out
lined in the r::diance of a side light,
rose and placed his burden In the ton
neau. "I'm ready," he announced.
Young Knight showed some nerv
ousness and apprehension emotions
which his companion!, judging by
their alert watchfulness, fully shared.
Jim seized his sister by the arm and
led her aside.
"nw the deuce did you ket here
and who is this guy?" He Jerked his
head toward Merkle.
T.orfdni Intrndncpd h rr Cn-M in.n nlnn
anfl made known th quSQ t'Vf their
prent plight
"nnmph!" grunted Jim. . "What
d'j-ou suppose ma'll say to this you
out all night with a man?"
"What are you doing? Who are
those people?" she retorted.
"Never mind. But say I don't like
the looks of this affair."
For a second time Merkle appealed
to Jim. "If you can't take your sister
home I'll have to telephone for another
Jim's tone wa disagreeable as he
replied. "You two don't look ns if
you'd been wrecked. Where's your
driver?" Merkle's fist clenched; he
muttered something, at which Jim
laughed harshly.
"Now don't get sore," said the lat
ter; "I'm not going to make trouble,
only I want to know where you've
A bareheaded man came running
across the lawn and flung himself into
"They Got Us Into a Private Room,
Then Took a Flashlight."
the waiting automobile. One of Jim's
companions called his name sharply.
"Will you take me home?" his sis
ter implored.
"Can't do It. I'll see you later, and
you, too, Merkle." His last words, de
livered as he swung himself upon the
running board of the car, sounded like
a threat; a moment later, and the ma
chine had disappeared into the night.
"Hm-m! Your brother has a sus
picious mind," Merkle said. "I hope
he won't make you any trouble."
"He can't make trouble for me."
Lorelei's emphasis on the last word
made her meaning clear; her compan
ion shrugged.
"Then there's no harm done, I as
sure you."
They turned in upon the driveway,
walking silently, then as they neared
the Chateau they became aware of an
unusual commotion in progress there.
Men were running from stable to gar
age, others were scouring the grounds;
from the open door came a voice
pitched high in anger. The speaker
was evidently beside himself with
wrath. He was shouting orders to
scurrying attendants, and abusing the
manager, who hovered near him in a
frantic but futile effort at pacifica
tion. The enraged person proved to be
Jarvis Hammon. He was hatless,
purple-faced, shaken with combative
fury. At first the two newcomers
thought he was dangerously drunk,
but, as they mounted to the tiled ter
race which served as an outdoor eat
ing place they saw their mistake. Rec
ognizing Merkle, Hammon's manner
changed instantly.
"John!" he cried. "By God! you're
just in time." .
"What's happened?"
"Blackmail, or worse, I hardly know,
myself. These ruffians put up some
thing on me they're all in It, even the
The latter, a sleek Frenchman with
ferocious mustaches and frightened
eyes, wrung his hands in supplication.
"M'sleu 'Ammon," he bleated, "you
ruin me. Such accusation Is terrible.
But wait. Calmness. The man will
be caught."
"Caught!" roared the steel magnate.
"You know who he is. Give him to
me." A uniformed doorman appeared
with a smoking lantern in his hand,
and Hammon wheeled upon him.
"Well? Did you find him?"
"We can't find nobody. There was
a car outside the grounds, but it's gone
Merkle interposed. "Will you tell
me what has happened?"
"It is terrible, incredible, M'sleu,"
wailed the manager.
"Same old story, John. I came out
here for a quiet supper with a lady.
I've been coming here regularly. They
got us into a private room, then took
a flashlight, and there you are. I
made a rush for the waiter as soon as
I realized what had occurred, but he'd
skipped. Everybody's skipped, pho
tographer and all. Nobody knows any
thing. Blamedest bunch of Idiots I
ever saw." He ground his teeth.
Lorelei, who had remained In the
background, turned suddenly sick at
memory of that mysterious party a t
the gate; she understood now the sig
nificance of the man with the box and
of the fleeing figure that had come
through the darkness.
The terrified manager continued his
heartbroken lament, and nammon
seemed about to destroy him when
Merkle drew the latter aside, speaking
in an undertone
nammon listened briefly, then bros
"Nonsense. I'd stake my life on her.
Why, she's prostrated. It's either pure
blackmail, or it's my wife's work.
She's had detectives on me for some
time." Merkle murmured something
more. "Oh, come now! I know what
I'm talking about, and I won't stand
for that," cried Hammon.
Merkle shrugged; his next words,
were audible, and they were both
sharp and incisive.
"The harm's fione. They got away
clean. Now we've got to kill the Rtory
and kill It quick in case they Intend
it for the papers."
"My God! Newspapers at this
time," groaned the other. "It couldn't
be worse."
Right. We must move fast. Is
your car here?"
"Get it. We'll go in with you. I
had an accident to mine."
"You'll see for yourself you're
wrong about the other." Hammon
jerked his head meaningly toward the
house, then strode away to order his
Merkle favored his young companion
with a wintry smile.
"It seems we're too late."
Lorelei nodded silently. "Don't tell
him who spoke to us out there. Not
yet. at least. I can't see him go to
"Jail? There won't be any jail to
this there never is. Jarvis will have
to settle for the sake of the rest of
Hammon's limousine rolled in under
the porte-cochere, and a moment later
the owner appeared with Lilas.
Lorelei stared at her friend In genu
ine surprise, for it was obvious that
Lilas was deeply agitated. Her face
was swollen with weeping; she verged
upon hysteria. No sooner were the
four in the car and under way than
she broke down, sobbing wretchedly.
"It's all my fault. I might have
known he was up to something; but I
didn't think he'd dare " she managed
to say.
"He? Who?" Merkle asked her.
"Max Melcher. He as much as told
me. If I hadn't been a fool I'd have
guessed, but he Oh, I could kill
myself!" She burst Into strangling
sobs and hysteric laughter.
"Why did you let him come to the
dressing room?" Lorelei Inquired.
"ne's been doing it for years. I've
always known him. We were en
gaged." Hammon verified this. "That's right
They were engaged when I met her.
She didn't know the sort of ruffian h
is till I proved it. She's afraid of
him, and he knows it."
"I tried to break with him, but he
wouldn't let me, and I've had to be
nice to him. He'd have murdered me
if I"
"Rot!" Merkle exclaimed, testily.
"Rot, eh?" Jarvis answered. "He's
done as much, more than once; but he's
so powerful that nobody can get him.
He's the king of his ward; he keeps
a gang of gunmen on the East side,
and he's the worst thug in the city."
Hammon soothed his charmer in his
clumsy, elephantine way, show ing
that, despite Merkle's recent Insinua
tions, he still trusted her. "This is the
only woman who ever cared for me,
John," he explained, after some hesi
tation, "and We're going to stick to
gether. We have no secrets."
"Your little Fifth avenue establish
ment rather complicates matters,
doesn't it? What are you going to do
about that?" Merkle inquired.
'This thing tonight is likely to
settle the matter for me. You know
the kind of home life I've led for twen
ty years, and you know I wouldn't re
gret any change. When a man goes
ahead and his wife stands still the
right and wrong of what either chooses
to do is hard to settle. At any rate, it
has ceased to concern me. I want a
few years of happiness and compan
ionship before I die. I'm selfish I'll
pay the price."
They rode on In silence.
When Lorelei awoe on the follow
lng afternoon her first Inquiry was for
Jim; but he had not come home, ati
her mother knew nothing of his where
abouts. Lorelei ate her breakfast in
silence; then, in reply to a question,
accounted for the lateness of her ar
rival by saying that she had dined with
Mr. Merkle.
. At the name Mrs. Knight pricked np
her ears; she undertook to pick out of
her daughter all that had occurred,
down to the most Insignificant detail.
Lorelei had always made a confidante
of her mother in such cases; but this
time the latter's lnquisitiveness grat
ed on her, and she answered the ques
tions put to her grudgingly. She could
not help likening her mother to a mag
pie, although the thought shocked her.
There was the same sly angle of coun
tenance, a similar furtlveness of pur
pose; the very expression of Mrs.
Knight's keen, hard eyes was like
nothing so much as that of the pry
ing bird's. Displeased at her own irri
tation, Lorelei made the excuse of a
shopping trip to esanpe from the house.
1 At the nearest news stand she
bought the afternoon papers, and was
relieved to find no mention of the In
cidents of the night before. It ap
peared that Hammon and Merkle had
; succeeded In their attempt to suppress
the story if, indeed, there had ever
been any Intention of making It public.
J Do you think that Merkle has
fallen in love with Lorelei and
really wants to marry her? i

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